This article contains spoilers for Sweet Home season 1.
At the press conference for season 2 of Netflix monster K-drama Sweet Home, new cast member Kim Mu-yeol admitted that, when he got the gig, he had to rewatch the ending of season 1 because he had forgotten what happened. Relatable. It’s been three years since the first season dropped on Netflix, becoming the first ever K-drama to rank in the streamer’s U.S. Top Ten. The global success of the K-horror series spurred Netflix to order two more seasons, which were filmed together. With all eight episodes of season 2 dropping on Netflix on Dec. 1, here’s everything you need to remember about season 1…
What Happened in Sweet Home Season 1?
The first season of Sweet Home was adapted from a webtoon of the same name, and follows the residents of Seoul’s Green Home Apartments during the outbreak of the monster apocalypse. Over the course of 10 episodes, we mostly stay inside the building as our group of neighbors fight to stay alive. Most of them don’t make it, picked off by monsters or other humans in this dystopian evolution of Seoul.
While Sweet Home has an all-star cast, teen loner Cha Hyun-su (Song Kang) is the protagonist. His parents and sister were killed in a car crash prior to the start of the series and when we meet Hyun-su, he has his death by suicide planned in his phone calendar. The monster apocalypse changes that, as he gets pulled into helping his neighbors survive. When Hyun-su begins to turn into a monster himself, he demonstrates a unique ability to fight the transition, making him something between a human and a monster. His superhuman abilities, especially an accelerated ability to heal from what would otherwise be fatal injuries, make him even better at protecting his found family.
Sweet Home Season 1 Ending Explained
Season 1 ends with Cha Hyun-su surrendering himself to the Korean military, in part to distract them from the surviving members of Green Home Apartments, who use a system of underground tunnels to escape from their residence and away from the armed forces. However, their evasion is only temporary. Unbeknownst to the group, the self-serving Ryu Jae-hwan (Lee Joon-woo) has stolen and activated the tracker given to firefighter Seo Yi-kyung (Lee Si-young) by the military, in hopes of saving himself. When the group finds a ladder to the surface, the army is waiting for them, and they are loaded onto a truck. Though Yi-kyung was not the one to push the button, she decides to join the military, perhaps because she hasn’t given hope on finding her MIA fiance and father of her unborn child.
Meanwhile, Hyun-su is also in military custody. However, the final scene of season 1 sees the psychopathic Jung “we are the wolves and they are the rabbits” Ui-myeong reveal to Hyun-su that he is also in the humvee. He has taken over the body of Green Home resident Sang-wook (Lee Jin-wook), and seems ready to wreak some havoc on the military establishment that experimented on him. Does he want Hyun-su to join him?
Who Is Still Alive in Sweet Home Season 2?
A core group of characters survived season 1 of Sweet Home: The aforementioned Cha Hyun-su, Yi-kyung, and Jae-hwan are still kicking. Also alive are former ballerina Lee Eun-yoo (Go Min-si), appendix-less bass guitarist Yoon Ji-soo (Park Gyu-young), rich mom Cha Jin-ok (Kim Hee-jung), kids Kim Su-yeong (Heo Yool) and Kim Yeong-su (Choi Go), dog owner Son Hye-in (Kim Guk-hee), very good dog Bom, and scaredy cat Kang Seung-wan (Woo Jung-kook). Congratulations for surviving season 1; it wasn’t easy.
It’s unclear if gangster San-wook is still alive, or if he died when Ui-myeong took over his body. It’s also unclear if Green Home leader and Eun-yoo’s brother Lee Eun-hyeok (The Glory’s Lee Do-hyun) is still kicking. Last time we saw him, he had stayed behind as Green Home Apartment collapsed around him because he had started to transition into a monster and didn’t want to hurt his friends. So, yeah, not looking good, but you never know.
Also of potential relevancy, last time we checked, grieving mom Im Myung-sook (Lee Bong-ryun) was still gestating as some kind of giant baby monster in one of the upstairs bathrooms.
What Did We Learn About the Monsters in Sweet Home Season 1?
In season 1, the residents of Green Home are still very much learning the rules of the monster apocalypse. Yi-kyung’s missing fiance, who was doing research on the monsters before he disappeared/maybe died/maybe monster-fied called the situation a “curse” rather than an infection. As far as we know, anyone can turn into a monster at any time, and the kind of monster they turn into is connected to their desire or greed. For example, abusive grocer Kim Seok-hyeon was sensitive about his receding hairline, and turned into a hair monster. Sometimes, the monster designs are a bit less literal.
The first sign of impending monster-fication is a nose bleed, and it is not subtle. From there, the cursed will begin to have hallucinations, depicted through Hyun-su’s perspective as an evil doppelganger presence working to determine his deepest desire. If someone is able to resist turning full monster for about 15 days, they stabilize into some kind of in-between state, which is Hyun-su’s deal (more on that below).
Monsters are not necessarily evil, though the ones that first appeared in Sweet Home season 1 did tend to cause harm and or death to the humans in their immediate vicinity. Later in the season, kid Yeong-su was protected by a green slime monster living in the vents.
What Kind of Monster is Cha Hyun-su?
Cha Hyun-su is a rare kind of monster known by the military as a “special infectee.” Basically, he is somewhere between human and monster, able to change (sometimes unwillingly) into monster mode when he is threatened, but still able to revert back to human status.
While most of season 1 saw Cha Hyun-su’s monster mode activated in the form of black pupils and super-healing ability, our teen protagonist got a cool wing in the season finale. With it, he was able to stop Ui-myeong (also a special infectee) from killing anymore of his friends. However, it seemed harder for him to come back to his humanity following the transition and, when he did, he had lost an indeterminate amount of his memory.
Special infectees are also relevant because the military seems to think they hold the “cure” to the monster curse. At the end of season 1, the Korean military dropped leaflets across the city offering protection to any humans who turn a special infectee over to them for testing. Yikes.
Sweet Home season 2 is available to stream on Netflix now.