Writer: Jang Yoon-mi, Oh Bo-hyun
Director: Bae Jong
Island is an adaptation of the webtoon “Island” written by Yoon In-wan and illustrated by Yang Kyung-il.
Island Cast and Characters
Island Plot Summary
After a scandal, hotel heiress Mi-ho is exiled to Jeju Island, where she encounters monsters trying to kill her. She meets a mysterious man named Van and hires him to be her bodyguard.
Island Ending Explained
Island Part 2 wraps up all its storylines and sets up the show for a potential part 3.
Does Island have a happy ending?
No. Island part 2 has a sad ending with the deaths of both Van and Goong-tan.
What Happened to Johan?
At the start of the finale, Johan is gravely injured and on life support.
But he joins the final battle, fully-healed and amped-up powers.
Johan removed his earrings so now his full powers are unleashed.
Johan’s earrings: not just a Fashion Statement.
After the battle is won, Johan returns to Vatican City and resumes his life as an exorcist. He is still mourning the loss of his brother and Van.
What Happened to Goong Tan?
Goong-tan and Van face off for the final time. This time they fight with swords with Goong-tan ultimately emerging victorious, impaling Van on his sword.
But he is then stabbed by a dying Van who uses his remaining strength to stab Goong-tan with his broken sword.
The two brothers die together.
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What Happened to Mi-ho?
Mi-ho has a magical marble inside her body that gives her the power to successfully create a barrier to protect the world from lust demons. But in her previous life, a fragment of the broken marble entered Van’s eye when he stabbed her.
Without the marble intact, Mi-ho does not have enough power to create the barrier without killing herself.
But the marble fragment in Van is the only thing that is keeping him human.
Mi-ho decides to create the barrier without the missing fragment so Van can remain human.
But during the barrier ritual, Van convinces Mi-ho to take the fragment from him so she can complete the barrier and survive.
Mi-ho successfully creates the barrier and saves the world from being terrorized by lust demons.
1 year later, Mi-ho is back in Seoul and is now the president of Daehan Group.
She is still mourning the loss of Van and keeps his dagger displayed in her office.
Mi-ho feels an energy disturbance with the retrieval of the dagger and Van’s dagger begins to shake seems to confirm that something threatens the world once again.
Mi-ho calls Johan and the two realize the world will need saving once again.
What Happened to Van?
Van begs Mi-ho to retrieve the missing fragment so she can complete the barrier ritual without sacrificing herself. Van tells Mi-ho how exhausted he has been living and fighting for centuries and he’s ready to rest.
Mi-ho removes the fragment from Van’s eye and his demon side takes over.
Van jumps back into his fight against Goong-tan.
Goong-tan gains the upper hand and stabs Van.
With his remaining strength, Van stabs Goong-tan back with his broken sword.
The two brothers die together.
Do Van and Miho kiss?
No, despite clearly loving each other, Van and Mi-ho never kiss.
Do Van and Mi-ho end up together?
No, Van and Mi-ho don’t end up together.
They do embrace right before Van sacrifices himself to save the world.
Will There Be a Third Season of Island?
The ending leaves the door wide open for Island part 3 but TVNing and Amazon have yet to confirm one.
Island Ending Review
The Island finale is action-packed with much-improved CGI compared to the rest of the series. The action scenes unfortunately are still unimpressive.
The highlight of the Island finale was the relationships between Van and Miho and Van and Goong-tan.
Van’s tired plea to Mi-ho to let him go is one of the most emotional moments of the entire series and easily Van’s most memorable scene. Van’s pain and exhaustion as he pleads to Mi-ho to let him go is beautifully played by Kim Nam Gil.
Despite not really caring for Van and Mi-ho’s relationship, I really loved this scene.
The other highlight is the final battle between Van and Goong-tan.
I loved watching the brothers fight to the death, stabbing each other with their swords, and dying together.
That being said, the moment wasn’t as epic as it should’ve been. It all fell a little flat because Van and Goong-tan’s relationship was not developed fully in earlier episodes.
I was invested in the amazing potential of their relationship instead of what was actually presented of them on-screen.
Other big moments in the Island finale like Johan’s big power upgrade and the Avengers-style tease at the end of the episode left me confused because I’ve never read the webtoon. If I had read the webtoon and known the context, I would have enjoyed these moments more.
Is Island Worth Watching?
Island is a drama with an exciting concept and a great cast that never lives up to its potential. The drama is bogged down by mediocre writing, generic monsters, and sloppy action sequences. Kim Nam-gil fans will be especially disappointed as his character is not given much to do.
With its paper-thin characters and underdeveloped relationships, Island is not worth the watch. It’s almost impressive how the drama takes an exciting concept and what should make an action-packed drama so boring.
The Main Leads
Lee Da-hee as Mi-ho/Wonjeong
Mi-ho is the Chosen One but in Island part 1 she’s mostly just a damsel in distress running away screaming from lust demons and needing to be rescued.
In Island part 2, Miho finally knows about her destiny as the Chosen One and has accepted her mission to save the world.
But her training is so boring to watch. Her powers basically just involve creating a barrier by waving her arms around.
Not exactly the action star material I was expecting when I started the drama.
Lee Da-hee’s charm makes Mi-ho a likable and sympathetic character but overall, I found her incredibly bland to watch. I blame that on the writing and not the actress.
Kim Nam-gil as Van
Kim Nam-gil is a phenomenal actor but as Van, he isn’t given enough to do.
I found Van one-note and dull for most of the drama despite his tragic backstory.
Van gets very little dialogue and doesn’t express himself very much. To compensate for that, Nam-gil adds much-needed depth to Van using his eyes and microexpressions.
Kim Nam-gil is one of the best at expressing what he feels solely through his eyes but it’s just not enough to carry the paper-thin writing for Van.
Cha Eun-woo as Johan
Johan is the breakout character of Island and Cha Eun-woo’s best acting performance in his career thus far. Johan adds much-needed levity and fun to the drama.
Out of all the characters in Island, Johan is given the most depth and the best character arc.
In the beginning, Johan is introduced as an upbeat exorcist who listens to music as he exorcises demons. He’s charming, funny, kind, and a bit cocky, and it’s fun watching him be a little brother to Mi-ho and a nuisance to Van.
As Johan, Eun-woo looks the most natural he’s ever looked on screen. His charisma really shines through. Eun-woo was simply born to play Johan.
The final episodes of Island Part 1 focus on Johan as he is put through the wringer and undergoes a devastating transformation with the introduction of his brother. Eun-woo does a fine job portraying Johan’s emotions during this arc: his helplessness, his pain, and his desperation.
When Johan kills his brother to save Mi-ho, your heart breaks for him. It’s the most devastating moment of the series.
Sadly, after getting the spotlight at the end of part 1, Johan is sidelined for most of Island Part 2. His grief and pain from killing his brother don’t get much focus as Van and Mi-ho’s story takes center stage.
The most significant thing that happens to Johan in part 2 is his power upgrade in the finale the writers don’t bother explaining. Sidelining Johan was a terrible creative decision and Island Part 2 is so much worse because of it.
Sung Joon as Goong-tan
I’m a big fan of Sung Joon so I was really looking forward to him and boy, the drama kept us waiting. In part 1, Goong-tan was mostly in the shadows, unseen by the rest of the characters. He didn’t get much to do until the finale.
Sung Joon and his confrontation with Van in the part 1 finale. Part 1 ends with him sitting on a throne surrounded by followers. I was excited for him to be the Big Bad in part 2.
Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Goong-tan is driven by anger and a desire for revenge.
The drama doesn’t spend much time on him or his feelings about Van and Wonjeong. Not much time or effort is spent trying to make Goong-tan a sympathetic and engaging villain.
The ingredients are there to make a compelling villain but Island never manages to put it together though Sung Joon tries his best with what he’s given.
I’m a big fan of Sung Joon but sadly, even I was deeply underwhelmed by Goong-tan.
Mi-ho and Van’s Relationship
I never quite bought into Mi-ho and Van’s relationship.
Does Van like Mi-ho for who she is or is it just his feelings for Woojeong spilling over?
I was also unimpressed by Kim Nam-gil and Lee Da-hee’s chemistry. I didn’t feel it at all. The lackluster writing made it hard for me to get emotionally invested in them.
I found Wonjeong and Van’s relationship slightly better.
I liked Wonjeong’s kindness and determination to save Van and Goong-tan who have been woefully mistreated.
Van’s attraction to Mi-ho, a beautiful woman who treats him with kindness resonated better with me than his dynamic with Miho.
Van, Wonjeong/Mi-ho, and Goong-tan
Island dropped the ball by not having Van, Wonjeong/Mi-ho, and Goong-tan share scenes together.
I was intrigued by this dynamic, especially Goong-tan’s possessiveness of Van and it drives me a bit crazy how unexplored this dynamic was in the drama!
They had so much potential.
This is one of the rare times I wish a drama went had a love triangle. A love triangle would at least put more focus on the relationships. More focus on the relationships between Van/Mi-ho, Goong-tan/Van, and Mi-ho/Goong-tan would have elevated the show.
The Brothers: Johan and Chan Hee
The most memorable and emotional storyline of the drama is the tragic reunion between Johan and his brother, Chan Hee (Choi Tae-joon).
Island Part 1 delves into Johan’s childhood trauma, showing how the brothers were separated as children and the start of Johan’s journey to the priesthood.
Johan’s backstory is interesting and horrifying and made me wish that the show was centered on his character. There is so much story left to tell with Johan and learning more about him is the only reason why I’d even consider watching more parts of Island (should they decide to make more).
Johan and his brother’s arc is almost completely separate from the main plot of Island but I actually preferred it because Johan is the only character I was emotionally invested in.
Johan killing his brother to save Mi-ho is arguably the best scene of the entire series. Completely devastating with strong performances by Eun-woo and Choi Tae-joon.
The Brothers: Van and Goong-tan
The Cain and Abel of Island had so much promise.
Island part 1 waited until the end for the brothers to face off and I was immediately blown away by Kim Nam-gil and Sung Joon’s chemistry.
Van and Goong Tan are two sides of the same coin. Both men were created against their will with one brother consumed by rage and vengeance while the other clings to his humanity.
Van and Goong-tan’s first fight at the end of part 1 is my favourite scene in the entire drama. Sadly, Island Part 2 drops the ball and devotes very little time to Van and Goong-tan’s relationship. There is so much there to explore but the writers chose not to.
A baffling decision and a huge waste of talent and chemistry.
Johan and Mi-ho
Probably the most entertaining duo in the entire drama.
I loved Johan protecting Mi-ho and Mi-ho being a doting older sister. It was fun watching Johan tag along with Mi-ho to school and calling her “noona”.
Mi-ho and Johan’s fun and light-hearted sibling relationship is much-needed levity in the drama. I loved Eun-woo and Da-hee’s chemistry a lot.
Bad Storytelling and Uneven Pacing
Both part 1 and 2 of Island suffer from uneven pacing and bad storytelling leading to a drama that completely lacks tension.
Island Part 1 moves at a snail’s pace before ramping up the action in the final episode and generating excitement for part 2.
But instead of building off the momentum, Island Part 2 reverts back to the slow pace and anti-climatic storytelling of the first half.
Island spends a disproportionate amount of time on boring or unimportant storylines like Mi-ho’s family dynamics and side characters like Yeom-ji.
While breezing through more interesting dynamics like Van and Goong-tan instead of making them the focal point of the drama.
Island is a webtoon adaptation and there are several elements and plot developments that happen without explanation. Like the people in white and Johan’s blue light superpowers.
I assume a lot of what I didn’t understand are things taken from the Island webtoon that readers would be familiar with but as a viewer with zero knowledge of the source material, it’s frustrating to watch.
Lack of Meaningful Character Development
Compared to other kdramas, Island has a relatively small cast which makes it all the more frustrating that the core four characters are all underdeveloped.
Island doesn’t spend any significant time delving into the interiority of its characters.
They all lack depth which makes it difficult to really care about any of them.
The most frustrating case is Johan.
Island part 1 ended with him killing his long-lost brother and instead of exploring his grief and how Johan feels, he’s mostly sidelined in Island part 2.
Johan’s transformation from playful and bubbly to serious and grief-stricken at the end happens mostly off-screen.
We don’t get to see him cope with the loss and how it’s changed him.
Another missed opportunity.
The ending of Island part 2 teases an extended MCU-type universe when the last thing the drama needs is more characters and expanded mythology.
The drama couldn’t even develop its four main characters properly so the last thing it needs to do is expand the world further.
Sloppy Action and Unimaginative Demons
The quick jump cuts during fight scenes and the terrible CGI for all the monsters made the action scenes a chore to watch.
The only CGI parts that looked good were the barriers created by Miho and Goong Tan and Johan’s blue light powers.
Should You Watch Island?
Island is a must-watch if you’re a Cha Eun-woo fan.
He really shines in part 1 and Johan’s storyline with his brother is the high point of the entire series.
Honestly, I wish the drama was centered around him.
If you’re a fan of the other leads (especially Kim Nam-gil), I would suggest skipping Island entirely.
What did you think of Island?