A thriller directed by Seong-soo Kim, “Christmas Carol” (2022) is the story of revenge by a brother whose identical twin has been found dead on the morning of Christmas. Though it has been labeled as an accident, the surviving brother believes it to be a murder and intentionally gets positioned in the juvenile detention center where the incident occurred. Let us jump into the details of the story to find out what really happened.
The movie begins with a scene in the water tank where a dead body is found. Then we see Joo Il-Woo (Park Jin Young) traveling by bus to the detention center while checking an Instagram account. After getting himself placed in the detention center, Joo Il-Woo meets the person in charge of consultation and the headteacher, Choo Soon Woo (Kim Young-min). They started conversing, and we came to know that Choo Soon Woo believes that Joo Il-Woo has come to avenge his brother’s death and warns Joo Il-Woo not to do so. Joo Il-Woo is introduced to the class, and most of the members recognize him as Joo Wol-Woo’s twin brother. Soon, Joo Il-Woo tries to attack Moon Ja Hoon (Geon-Hee Song) and threatens to kill him, but he is stopped by his classmates and taken outside by the guards. Joo Il-Woo is beaten to a pulp by Han Hee Sang (Heo Dong-Won), who is referred to as “Psycho” by the students, and he is placed in the punishment room.
The scene shifts to the dead body of Joo Wol–Woo in the morgue, where we see signs of beating but the people there try to pass it off as an accident. We then see Joo Il-Woo picking up a sharp object from the infirmary of the detention center, where he was after the beating. Getting out of there, he attacks one of his classmates in the toilet, and he is stopped by Choo Soon Woo and again put in punishment. In the middle of the night, Joo Il-Woo is attacked by one of his classmates with a spanner on the head, but like a wounded tiger, he becomes more ferocious and with a hand tool rips out a tooth of his attacker. Han Hee Sang uses his taser gun to put Joo Il-Woo down. The incidents are all covered up, and Choo Soon Woo says that Han Hee Sang wants to send Joo Il-Woo down to another school, and he will never get the chance to meet his brother’s killer. When Joo Il-Woo is tended by Choo Soon Woo, he tells his head teacher how the police had done nothing though they had CCTV footage of their brother’s killers as they got institutionalized in this training center. Joo Il-Woo stops his theatrics and attends the class. He also eats in the cafeteria while keeping an eye on his brother’s killer.
We again find Joo Il-Woo in Choo Soon-Woo’s room, who is trying to make him understand not to commit any violence toward his brother’s killer. Joo Il-Woo is then sent to bring something from the laundry, where he finds out about some heinous sexual acts committed by Han Hee Sang with one of his students. The student is later found with a few packs of cigarettes, which he takes to Moon Ja Hoon, where he is further mistreated by him. The next day, we find this student carrying the waste bags as ordered by Moon Ja Hoon. Joo Il-Woo confronts him and asks why he is becoming their lapdog, and to his surprise, Joo Il-Woo comes to know that this student was with his brother on the day of his death. He also says that he knew how Joo Il-Woo despised his brother, and now taking revenge does not make things right.
Another character is introduced by the name of Go Bang-Cheon, who threatens to upload a disturbing video of Han Hee Sang on the internet. He forced Han Hee Sang to make space for him in his center and immediately beat one of the students. Then we come to know that Moon Ja Hoon had made Go Bang-Cheon transfer school by telling his father that he wants to eliminate Joo Il-Woo. The next day, we see Go Bang-Cheon and Moon Ja Hoon meeting in the classroom while the student who was mistreated informs Joo Il-Woo about Moon Ja Hoon’s plan. The student further explains how on Christmas Eve he met with his brother and warned him not to go to the store where he worked as he knew that Moon Ja Hoon’s gang was going to create a ruckus there. The next scene moves to the cafeteria, where Choo Soon Woo wants to transfer Joo Il-Woo after hearing that Go Bang-Cheon is here to kill him, but Joo Il-Woo does not want him to go through with the transfer. The next day, Go Bang-Cheon creates absolute chaos in the class by beating several students with the stick of Han Hee Sang. After leaving the class, Joo Il-Woo helps one of the students by tending to him, though he was from the gang of Moon Ja Hoon. We again see a glimpse of the CCTV footage of the shop where Joo Il-Woo’s brother was seen working and Moon Ja Hoon’s gang storms in. The scene again shifts to Choo Soon Woo’s room, where we see Joo Il-Woo asking for his help, but the head teacher wants him to forgive them. But Joo Il-Woo eventually gets aid from the head teacher, who provides him with the key to the boiler room. In the boiler room, Joo Il-Woo finds Han Hee Sang molesting one of the students and uses Han Hee Sang’s taser gun to pin him down and gave him a beating. The student tells Joo Il-Woo that his brother had to face a similar disturbing situation. After this, we see several flashbacks of incidents where Joo Il-Woo is mixed up in illegal activities, his first acquaintance with Go Bang-Cheon, his rude behavior with his brother, and his conversation with his brother on the fateful day when he was killed. The scene ends with Joo Il-Woo sitting in the boiler room, crying and saying he was sorry for everything.
Next, we see Moon Ja Hoon meeting his parents, who say they will take care of any activity that goes down in this center. In the class, Moon Ja Hoon asks Go Bang-Cheon to speed up the plan to kill Joo Il-Woo and threatens him with dire consequences if he does not keep his end of the bargain. Moon Ja Hoon also threatens and asks the helpless student who was with Joo Il-Woo’s brother to meet him in the toilet, but Joo Il-Woo stops him from going there. The helpless student then tells how his brother was thinking of doing something with his first paycheck. Next, we see every student lining up in front of the bathhouse, where they will get 40 minutes. Joo Il-Woo has already told the helpless student to visit Choo Soon Woo for a consultation just before the bath, as he desires to take on his enemy inside the bathhouse. Then we see Joo Il-Woo waiting in the bathhouse for the right time to strike, and suddenly the power goes off as planned. We also see here the worried faces of the helpless student and Choo Soon Woo in the head teacher’s room.
Soon again, the scene shifts to the bathhouse, and we see violent fighting between Joo Il-Woo, Go Bang-Cheon, and members of the Moon Ja Hoon gang. Joo Il-Woo defeats them all but gets severely injured, and, in a helpless condition, Moon Ja Hoon pleads for mercy. Choo Soon Woo enters the bathhouse, and Moon Ja Hoon thinks he is saved, but using a metal pipe, Choo Soon Woo kills all of them except Joo Il-Woo. Lights from the operating room are seen, followed by a healing Joo Il-Woo, who says he has no idea why Choo Soon Woo killed them. We see the trial of Choo Soon Woo in the courtroom next, and the helpless student spits and throws a crumbled piece of paper at Choo Soon Woo, making him know that he has understood who molested Joo Il-Woo’s brother, and we see a glimpse from the past. From this, we understand the perpetrator of Joo Il-Woo’s brother is none other than Choo Soon-Woo himself. The helpless student is carried outside the court by guards, and Choo Soon Woo gets 4 years in prison.
Joo Il-Woo is seen resting, and a flashback occurs where his brother is talking about Christmas and Santa Claus. Joo Il-Woo meets Choo Soon Woo in prison, where the latter tells him he really wanted to help his brother, and by saving Joo Il-Woo from prison time, he is doing the same. Joo Il-Woo angrily tries to attack and demands to know how his brother was killed by Choo Soon-Woo. We see flashbacks from the fateful night when Joo Il-Woo’s brother is heavily beaten and tries to get back to the shop. Choo Soon Woo comes to the shop, takes him to a place, and tends to him. But soon we see Choo Soon Woo molesting Joo Il-Woo’s brother, and while doing so, he succumbs to his injury and dies. Finding no other way, Choo Soon Woo drops the dead body of Joo Il-Woo’s brother in the water tank.
The scene shifts to the prison, where we see that Moon Ja Hoon’s father has sent someone to kill Choo Soon Woo, and Joo Il-Woo also gets released from the juvenile center. Joo Il-Woo visits his home, where there is no one, and then meets the helpless student on the roof of the water tank where his brother was killed. The scene slowly fades out with the Christmas carol Joo Il-Woo’s brother used to sing and the Christian cross symbol reflecting how justice has been served.