‘Bear Man’ (2023) Story Recap And Ending, Explained

The movie Bear Man is a mesmerizing cinematic adventure that weaves together elements of fantasy, folklore, and the timeless theme of identity. In the mystical land of Korea, where legends come alive, a captivating tale unfolds. Deep within the forests, two bear brothers, known for their wild and untamed spirits, find themselves entwined in a destiny beyond their imaginations. Legends speak of the extraordinary powers hidden within the ingredients of garlic and mugwort, capable of transforming any animal into a human. Little did the bear brothers know that a fateful encounter would forever alter their lives. 

Spoilers Ahead

Woong-Nam’s Discovery 

In 1997, Scientist Na Bok-cheon from the Pro-North Korean Institute of Technology faced a worrisome situation when two baby bears, Woong-nam and Woong-buk, went missing. Despite extensive efforts, Bok-cheon is unable to locate any clues about their disappearance for over 100 days. However, hope reignites when the location trackers attached to the bear cubs’ ears suddenly start beeping, indicating their presence. Following the beeping signals, Bok-cheon follows the trail and makes a stunning discovery- a small cub that has transformed into a human inside a cave. Realizing the imminent danger of the cave collapsing, the scientist courageously rescues the child and brings him to safety.

Fast forward to the present day, Woong-nam has grown into a 25 year old man. He resides with Bok-cheon and his wife, who have embraced him as their own son and Woong-nam pursued a career as a police officer. He excels in his role, particularly when it comes to apprehending individuals who are driving under the influence of alcohol. But, Woong-nam possesses an unconventional personality, as he spends most of his day indulging in his favorite pastime- sleeping. However, this doesn’t diminish his commitment to protecting the town and its inhabitants. One of Woong-nam’s remarkable abilities is his unique connection with nature. When wild boars pose a threat to the town’s crops, Woong-nam steps in as a guardian. Using his innate understanding of the animal kingdom, he communicates with the wild boars, warning them to stay away from the town.

A Shocking Revelation

Woong-nam’s happiness stems from witnessing the joy and pride his parents feel about his work as a police officer. Their satisfaction with his achievements brings him a deep sense of fulfillment. However, his world takes a dark turn when he accidentally overhears a conversation of Bok-cheon, as he discusses the lifespan of bears over the phone. The shocking revelation that bears typically live only for 25 years leaves Woong-nam devastated. The weight of this newfound knowledge crushes Woong-nam’s spirit, and he is unable to focus on his duties as a police officer.

The realization that his time might be limited casts a shadow over his every action and thought. The fear of a shortened lifespan becomes a heavy burden that affects his ability to carry out his responsibilities effectively. One day, Woong-nam reaches a breaking point and makes the difficult decision to stop working as a police officer.

A Secret Mission 

The movie delves into the harrowing life of Woong-buk who is known by the name Lee Jung-hak. He finds himself trapped in a terrorized existence under the control of the notorious drug mafia leader, Lee Jeong-sik. Woong-buk is entangled in Lee’s criminal activities, acting as his enforcer and overseeing all his illicit dealings. As the police intensify their efforts to uncover information on Lee and his operations, they stumble upon a striking resemblance between Woong-nam and Woong-buk, leading to a perplexing situation. Initially, the law enforcement officers suspect that Woong-nam may be the same person as Woong-buk, the one they have been desperately trying to apprehend. However, the community knows Woong-nam for his dedicated service as a police officer, creating a significant dilemma for the investigators.

Detective Yoo, intrigued by this puzzling connection, approaches Woong-nam with a risky proposition. He offers him a mission to go undercover and infiltrate Lee Jeong-sik’s criminal empire. When Woong-nam notices a picture of his brother in Detective Yoo’s possession, it ignites a surge of determination within him. Recognizing the opportunity to get his brother back, Woong-nam willingly agrees to undertake the dangerous undercover operation.

A Face-Off Between The Brothers

After rigorous training, Woong-nam finally feels prepared to assume the identity of Woong-buk. The police successfully capture Woong-buk and keep him sedated while Woong-nam embarks on his mission to uncover Jeong-sik’s secret operation involving illegal viruses. Jeong-sik’s plan involves setting off the virus in China, potentially leading to the deaths of thousands of people. The entire police team anxiously awaits Jeong-sik’s arrival at the airport. However, upon his arrival, Jeong-sik senses that something is amiss and becomes suspicious. He decides to abort his plans and attempts to make a quick getaway. But, Woong-nam and the police give chase, determined to apprehend Jeong-sik.

The chase leads them to a shipyard, where the tension reaches its peak. Just as Woong-nam is about to reach the virus, Jeong-sik realizes that the person pursuing him is not Jung-hak (Woong-buk). In the midst of the chaos, Woong-buk arrives at the shipyard, timing his arrival perfectly. The long-lost brothers come face-to-face, their paths colliding in a climactic confrontation. Emotions run high as they engage in a fierce and intense battle, each fighting for their own convictions and personal reasons.

The Final Realization

As the entire police force arrives at the shipyard, Jeong-sik makes a quick escape, leaving behind a briefcase containing the virus, rigged with a bomb. He entrusts the briefcase to Woong-buk and departs with his men, intending to reach China by sea. Meanwhile, the intense battle between the brothers continues, and both of them eventually fall to the ground. Witnessing the scene, Bok-cheon and the other police officers rush toward Woong-nam. In this critical moment, Woong-buk observes the stark contrast between his own life, filled with mistreatment under Jeong-sik’s control, and the love and care that surrounds his brother. A realization dawns upon him.

With the bomb set to detonate in just three minutes, Woong-nam takes hold of the briefcase, fully aware of the imminent danger it poses. He makes the difficult decision to jump into the water, bidding a final farewell to his parents and sacrificing himself. However, Woong-buk, moved by his newfound understanding of his brother’s kindness and the bond they share, follows him into the water. Determined to protect Woong-nam, he takes the briefcase from his brother’s hand and pushes him away. As the brothers separate, a rush of memories floods their minds, taking them back to their playful and joyous times together as babies in the jungle.

‘Bear Man’ Ending

In the final moments of the movie, a surprising twist unfolds. Woong-nam successfully regains his position as a police officer, allowing him to continue his service to the community. Meanwhile, there is a possibility that the brothers, Woong-nam and Woong-buk, have found a way to potentially switch shifts or find a way to work together without anyone knowing their true identities. As the movie draws to a close, another revelation is introduced- Woong-nam never heard the entire conversation about the limited lifespan of bears. This revelation brings a glimmer of hope and opens up the possibility for Woong-nam to live a long and fulfilling life, allowing him to form a family and experience happiness.

Additionally, the movie hints at a new storyline involving one of the wild boars transforming into a human, seeking vengeance against Woong-nam. Although the justification for this revenge is not explicitly provided, we can infer that it may stem from an unexplained agreement between Woong-nam and the wild boars. As shown in the film, Woong-nam promised to provide food to the boars if they stayed away from the town, leading to a potential conflict between the boars and the bears in future sequels. The conclusion of ‘Bear Man’ leaves viewers with a sense of closure. Bok-cheon’s wife finally gets the opportunity to raise her two sons, bringing a sense of fulfillment to her life. Woong-buk, after years of yearning for love and affection, gets to experience the care and support that he had missed for so long. Finally, the brothers are reunited, symbolizing the power and strength of love. 

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