Sisyphus The Myth Ending Explained

After watching True Beauty on Viu, I went back to Netflix for my 67th K-Drama series — Sisyphus The Myth. Before I proceed, let me just give a briefer about Sisyphus the man the title is based on. Sisyphus is a king in Greek Mythology who cheats death a few times in an attempt to escape his mortality. This pisses off Zeus, who punishes Sisyphus. In Hades, Sisyphus has to push a boulder uphill only to have it roll back down when he reaches the top. This is a vicious cycle that goes on forever.

Sisyphus The MythSisyphus The Myth stars Park Shin Hye  in her most action-packed role yet. She plays Kang Seo Hae, a twenty-something girl from the dark and dreary post-nuclear war future. Seo Hae travels in time to 2020 to prevent the war from happening. For this, she has to find the creator of the time machine, Han Tae Sul.

Sisyphus The MythHan Tae Sul is a wealthy genius who Seo Hae eventually falls in love with. He joins Seo Hae in her quest to prevent the war.

Sisyphus The MythBut there is someone who wants the war to break out, a mysterious man known only as Sigma. It’s now a race between Sigma and Seo Hae + Tae Sul as to what will happen next.

Sisyphus The MythOkay so from hereon out, spoilers abound. I’ll try to explain the ending as best I can based on actual events in the series.

Sisyphus The MythIf you’ve watched Sisyphus The Myth, the vague ending probably left you wondering what happened. After all, everyone “dies” in the finale and then all of a sudden, Tae Sul and Seo Hae are together on a plane holding hands. Before I share my interpretation of the ending, consider the following points:

  1. In the finale, Tae Sul chooses to shoot himself to put an end to the vicious cycle of war and time travel. According to Seo Hae, war breaks out because Tae Sul invents the time machine. Seo Hae can’t bring herself to kill Tae Sul so Tae Sul decides to sacrifice himself instead.
  2. If Tae Sul doesn’t invent the time machine, the nuclear war never happens. That said, this version of 20+ year old Seo Hae will cease to exist. The Seo Hae that Tae Sul knows is the product of the nuclear war and the time machine. Therefore, Tae Sul killing himself means Tae Sul also eradicating the Seo Hae he knows and loves. Both of them will cease to exist.
  3. In episode 11, Tae Sul goes into Seo Hae’s past to try and save her. To do this, both Tae Sul and Seo Hae’s bodies are left in the present while their consciousness visits various pockets of time. In one such time pocket, Tae Sul finds his brother Tae San. Tae San tells Tae Sul that this is where he has been hiding all this time so Sigma and the Control Bureau can never find him. He also tells Tae Sul that when Tae Sul goes back to the present, physical world, they will most likely not see each other again. We see Tae San’s body in a vegetative state in the present. If their physical bodies die, their consciousness can never go back, having no vessel to return to. This is why after getting shot with the serum, Seo Hae goes back and wakes up but finds that Tae Sul is dead to the world.
  4. Tae Sul tells Seo Hae to find him no matter what before shooting himself. After he dies, we see Seo Hae slowly vanishing.
  5. The Greek Mythology version of Sisyphus has the main character doing the same thing over and over again in vain. Had Tae Sul chosen to build the time machine and retain this version of Seo Hae, it would just result in a vicious cycle where post-war Seo Hae would keep coming back to try and change things.

Considering all the above points, I think what happened in the end is this:

Tae Sul, having discovered that it’s possible for one’s consciousness to exist in a particular pocket of time (episode 11), concludes that he and Seo Hae can be together while saving the world if he kills himself. In the present, real, and living world, they can never be together without the rest of humanity dying. But leaving their physical existences behind can free their consciousness so like Tae San, they can “hide” in a particular pocket of time. This is why Tae Sul awakens in the plane, where the series started. Only this time, Seo Hae is beside him. He told her to “find” him and she did. When the camera zooms out, we see that the plane isn’t real. Much like the pockets of time they visited in episode 11, the plane is one such pocket. It’s a happy ending of sorts where Tae Sul and Seo Hae can be together at that point in time — before the time machine was invented and after Seo Hae goes back to 2020. After all, according to the series, what’s important is not where, but when.

I’ve tried looking through all the Sisyhus The Myth ending explained posts and none of them make sense so I’m inclined to stick to my theory.

Dang, Park Shin Hye is my new action hero.

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22 Comments

  • Reply Roch April 29, 2021 at 11:09 am

    This makes sense! Thanks for sharing your theory, Ro! ☺️

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei April 29, 2021 at 7:14 pm

      Yay thank you!

      • Reply Anon August 11, 2021 at 4:22 pm

        My guess is that the uploader is still somehow created again. Hence the ending where sigma from the future has that book of evil plans. Something happened in between tae sul getting shot and him ending up on that plane with girl that the writer didn’t reveal yet… sequel? Perhaps

    • Reply Anon August 11, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      That’s a great prediction. Thanks! this gives me some closure

  • Reply Jw May 1, 2021 at 12:09 am

    Thanks. This does make sense..I feel more sense then those who suggest it is a hallucination as a hallucination just doesn’t make sense since Tae sul said many times to find him before he shot himself and Seo Hae also acknowledges she will find him before she disappears.

    I guess the one wild card is the fact that Tae San has woken up , the blue prints do exist and it is possible he will create the uploader to bring his brother back. He did say earlier in the series he is willing to do anything to make sure Tae Sul is safe.  This allows the creators of the show to have a sequel if they do wish.

    I just hope one day the directors, or screen writers or even the lead actors will tell us what happened at the end as everything we have are just theories … convincing theories mind you.

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei May 3, 2021 at 11:04 am

      This is provided they have not killed Tae San’s physical body… because the last time he is seen, he is surrounded by the Control Bureau. The time pocket that Tae Sul and Seo Hae reunite in is also the same time Tae San comes back to 2020 (he crashes into the pilot’s window which causes the plane to fail) so it’s also possible that all 3 will just exist in this timeframe. 🙂

      • Reply Yoyo June 10, 2021 at 7:32 am

        Actually, you do see that Tae San wakes up in that room, hooked up to a fluid bag in that control bureau room with all the screens. But he was alone, no one was in the room with him, unlike previously when he had all those guys with guns surrounding him. I would assume that everyone working for sigma at the bureau disappeared as well since his henchmen at the church disappeared unless they were part of the current time line. But I doubt they’d kill Tae San without orders from Sigma to do so after he awakens.

        I like this theory a lot. Makes sense! I just also am curious how they could have gotten their consciousness to go to that pocket of time. I thought they’d have to be shot with the drug to sort of send them back, and that if their physical body is gone, then their consciousness would also die and stop wandering like a ghost. Isn’t that why Sigma threatened Tae Sul with his brother’s physical body and that he’d harm it if he didn’t spare current Gil Bok??

        • Reply Shoji June 14, 2021 at 8:05 pm

          Agree with the last paragraph of your comments. I confused about those points if using the explanation in this blog.

        • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei June 18, 2021 at 11:06 am

          This is where the recurring quote that what’s important is not where but when comes in. I’m guessing when their consciousness transcends the normal flow of time, they can meet in a particular moment where both of them once existed — and that is the plane. While Tae Sul is on the plane, Seo Hae had already arrived in his timeline. That was the part where their existences intersect — Seo Hae coming back to Tae Sul’s time after the war, while Tae Sul actually still exists. As we have seen in past scenes, Tae Sul’s parents continue to exist by the seaside with the younger versions of Tae San and Tae Sul — but they can’t really go elsewhere. It might be the same for Tae San and Seo Hae, they can only co-exist in the plane since that was where their existences once intersected. This is probably why there is no mention of a destination or indication of any future activity, all they do is hold hands and close their eyes. They just want to be together and they can’t really do this elsewhere except at that point where they both once existed.

        • Reply Anon August 11, 2021 at 4:21 pm

          My guess is that the uploader is still somehow created again. Hence the ending where sigma from the future has that book of evil plans. Something happened in between tae sul getting shot and him ending up on that plane with girl that the writer didn’t reveal yet… sequel? Perhaps

  • Reply Jessica May 1, 2021 at 1:49 am

    I like your theory and would like to know how their consciousness would be able to go outside the “time and space” realm. If he has died and she truly never existed; how can they reunite on the plane in that new pocket of time?

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei May 3, 2021 at 11:01 am

      Hello, this i why they had to meet in one such pocket where both of them once existed — while Tae Sul is in the plane which is also about the same time Seo Hae arrives in 2020. Tae Sul has not killed himself yet. This is their “when”.

  • Reply I'M YourOnly.One May 6, 2021 at 4:05 pm

    I just found your explanation and I can say that it is a great theory! It was so awesome I added it in my list of possible endings in my own post (see: https://j.mp/sisyphusthemyth ).

    I did not put much weight on their travels in-between worlds since it was poorly explained. For one, they initially explained that when they’re trapped there, they are travelling through different parallel worlds, but in episode 11 Tae Sul and Seo Hae only travelled through time (from their past to their present).

    Your explanation made episode 11 logical, a pocket universe which also perfectly fits the ending in the finale episode. Great ending you’ve presented! I love it!

    Mabuhay and Shalom!

  • Reply Jadewest June 7, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    yeah it fuckin hurt me that they said its only hallucinations, and i think it again, why tae sul lean on seo haes shoulder if its only hallucination? it stressing me out and btw fo you think they have another season? because of the past sigma idk forgot his name, in the end he draw a kid and go home and there’s a weird and mysterious notebook where all happends are in there, he even copy tae sul outfit heck what does that mean, writer really left us behind confused

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei June 18, 2021 at 11:00 am

      I think they are trying to show that Sigma is Sigma no matter how the scenario plays out and so eventually he will still end up obsessed with Tae Sul and trigger a similar chain of events…. hence the title Sisyphus.

  • Reply leo June 14, 2021 at 11:06 am

    Ok, I’m a bit miffed, because it sounds like I watched a final episode that was altered. They zoom out, but do not show that the airplane is fake as you describe. Also, unless you excluded it for some reason, a couple minutes showing that Sigma is really not ok, and preparing for season 2 I assume, has been added on.

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei June 18, 2021 at 10:56 am

      They don’t show the plane as outright fake but I kind of got that impression since they showed the area in front of the two leads bathed in white light, so I’m assuming it’s not a real setting.

  • Reply Chante June 16, 2021 at 7:32 am

    What is your take on Sigma’s ending? Just an obsession? Or a twist?

    • Reply Rowena Wendy Lei June 18, 2021 at 10:58 am

      Given the title Sisyphus, I think the ending shows that no matter what happens Sigma is Sigma. He is the same person and so even if he starts out differently he will eventually end up obsessed with Tae Sul and so the entire cycle will repeat itself eventually.

  • Reply Alexandre Ricardo June 20, 2021 at 5:05 am

    Did you forget that the guardian of the code is Tae Sul’s brother? Tae Sul died in a timeline. It returns to the starting point. His brother woke up, so the upload code, which was hidden with him, is at Sigma’s disposal. I believe that Seo Hae, who appears on the plane, is not a hallucination, nor a result of imagination, she is real and is fulfilling her promise to find Tae Sul again, in a new attempt to avoid the war.

  • Reply Lorrie August 27, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    These explanations are so helpful! I think I get what the writers were trying to do now, it just unfortunately still doesn’t make sense. (Not the fault of the theories, I think it’s just that the writers didn’t quite get it right. Here’s why:

    1. Mind-meet. If it were their consciousnesses were finding each other in a pocket, their unconscious bodies would need to be alive somewhere and they aren’t.
    2. Souls-Meet. No one mentioned souls in an afterlife, but that white gleam might suggest that moment as a heaven for them (though who wants to spent an eternity stuck in an airplane, even first class, I dunno.) But, it could be that- they are both dead and their souls find each other.
    Except:
    2-a. How could their souls find each other if in the exact same moment in time they are actually walking around still alive (her as a kid)?
    1-a. Even if they aren’t souls and we ignore the unconscious bodies somewhere issue, earlier Tae Sul found her in her / his memories, so if that were the case here, a second Tae Sul from the memory should be on the plane recording the Ramen guy. He isn’t. There’s just one Tae Sul.

    So, for now let’s say it isn’t either of those…
    3. Real+ Real / Imagined. If Tae Sul on the plane is fully really real the we are seeing the events unfold where his brother doesn’t fall from the sky with a suitcase.
    3-a. But it if he’s a Tae Sul where the events haven’t happened yet, he shouldn’t recognize her at all, right? Hallucination or not, she’s a stranger at that moment in time. She would know him, and does say his name, but he shouldn’t know her at all because he hasn’t met her before/yet. But he seems to faintly recall and then fully remembers her, and rather than take his medication he decides to be happily unmedicated, suggesting that he doesn’t care if she’s real or not, he’s just happy she’s there. The problem here is, that doesn’t make sense in his timeline. His memories couldn’t have been merged with future him so he would remember her because he never had the experience where he meets her because the uploaded literally never happened/s. How could he recognize her?
    3-b. As a side note on the is she physically real on the plane question- I don’t think the fact that he is able to lean on her is any indication of her physical existence either because the scene is from his unmedicated perspective – I’d only be convinced if a flight attendant spoke to her and handed her food or something.)
    3-c. Let’s say she is actually there and real. How??? Any already transported versions of her would also disappear so she couldn’t have found and boarded his plane, and they couldn’t have already been a couple in this re-written universe because she’s in elementary school and he’s 40 or something.

    What number are we on, 4?
    Okay reason 4. As someone already mentioned, non-disgruntled artist Sigma still is a little bit disgruntled because he already painted and kept the bleeding eyed Tae Sul painting and has the little booklet- either because future Sigma has left it for him (which again doesn’t make sense unless there are events we haven’t yet seen for a sequel) or because he’s writing it out for himself, which leads me to the biggest unresolved issue in all of this.

    SIGMA SAID HE CAN CREATE THE FUTURE AND ANYTHING HE DRAWS, HAPPENS.

    This was for me the most intriguing part of the story and it is never tied off as a possibility. So, if he still has some resentment issues and still can make the future bend to his will, maybe he creates a new version of events and maybe the uploader happens and that’s how she does physically get on the plane.

    Sisyphus.
    (Except for the problems I already outlined with that, above.)
    4-a. To really solve this I’m not sure why no one went to Sigma’s childhood home and took care of him as a little boy and protected him and made the other children stop bullying him. Isn’t that the real solution to Sigma? I mean he foretold all of it as a child. If he draws different pictures then different things happen.
    4-b. I realize it doesn’t solve the resentful best friend issue. (I don’t care enough about that storyline to fix it tbh.)

    5. It was all a dream. If you think about it, Tae Sul is sitting on a plane with his girlfriend, doses off, dreams a very imaginative nightmare about the nuclear holocaust, the dangerous potential of a device he’s working on, and how he should be more grateful to his brother. It’s super scary, but he faces each of his fears, then wakes up, happy.

    He had a propensity for drug addiction so he has the pills, but because he’s happy in love and finally faced and worked through his issues in the dream he doesn’t need the drugs so much or maybe his awful nightmare scares him into going cold turkey and he lives sober from then on and is a kinder more generous person moving forward( but decides not to make his sugar cube teleporting machine just in case.)

    (That last one is an ending that actually makes sense. I don’t think it’s what the writers intended, but it resolves the plot holes.)

  • Reply Josh Dueñas September 4, 2021 at 4:03 am

    I have a question in episode 16, why and how did the the thugs in the church vanished?

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