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Netflix’s ‘Hellbound’ mesmerizes viewers with different charms from webcomics

Poster images for the webtoon (left) and Netflix series “Hellbound” (Naver Webtoon, Netflix)
Poster images for the webtoon (left) and Netflix series “Hellbound” (Naver Webtoon, Netflix)
Netflix’s latest Korean original “Hellbound” has caught the attention of both local and foreign fans with horrifying depictions of death and episodes full of suspense.

The series, directed by the mastermind behind megahit zombie sensation “Train to Busan” Yeon Sang-ho, is an adaptation of a highly rated webtoon of the same title, also by Yeon.

Though Yeon said he tried “not to veer much from the original webcomics,” avid readers of the webtoon that ended its run in September 2020 might notice slight changes made by the occult-loving director.

The early portion of both the webtoon and drama series centers on detective Jin Gyeong-hun, who seeks to discover the truth behind a supernatural phenomenon where some people suddenly receive messages from an angel saying they will be sent to hell.

Jin Seong-ho is the son of detective Jin Gyeong-hun in webtoon “Hellbound.” (Naver Webtoon)
Jin Seong-ho is the son of detective Jin Gyeong-hun in webtoon “Hellbound.” (Naver Webtoon)
While the webtoon portrays the detective’s child as a son, Jin Seong-ho, Netflix’s fantasy thriller offers a different experience by presenting Jin Hee-jung (played by Lee Re) as the detective’s daughter.

Asked why the character was changed from Seong-ho to Hee-jung, the director said the role of the detective’s child was created for Lee Re, who previously appeared in Yeon’s “Train to Busan” sequel “Peninsula.”

“I thought the character had to be played by none other than Lee Re. I think I had faith in her that she was the actor to bring out and even surpass the potential of the original character Seong-ho,” Yeon said in an online press conference Nov. 16.

Jin Hee-jung (Lee Re) is the daughter of detective Jin Gyeong-hun in Netflix series “Hellbound.” (Netflix)
Jin Hee-jung (Lee Re) is the daughter of detective Jin Gyeong-hun in Netflix series “Hellbound.” (Netflix)
Kim Jeong-chil (Lee Dong-hee), the second chairman of the New Truth, is shown as a man in the Netflix series. Many webtoon fans were curious about the actor who would play Jeong-chil because the webtoon character was portrayed as androgynous, arousing online debate as to Kim’s gender identity.

Kim Jeong-chil (Lee Dong-hee), the second chairman of the New Truth, condemns a sinner in “Hellbound.” (Netflix)
Kim Jeong-chil (Lee Dong-hee), the second chairman of the New Truth, condemns a sinner in “Hellbound.” (Netflix)
Fans of the original webtoon might also have been shocked by the unexpected ending from Netflix, which clearly hints at a next season.

“When I was creating the webcomic, I was expecting to reproduce the series as a video. This may be the reason why I left an open ending. I hope I can continue to play around more with the series,” the director said at the press conference.

The original webtoon is available in Korean, English, Spanish and French via Naver Webtoon.

The six-part series topped the Netflix global TV series chart the day after its release, replacing fellow Korean global sensation “Squid Game,” according to US-based streaming analytics firm FlixPatrol.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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