Nine: Nine Times Time Travel Ending explained

Here we are at the Nine: Nine times time travel ending. A lot has happened, and overall the story had an interesting take on time travelling. It had his own rules and seemed to follow them well. I liked the fact that lingering interference could keep on changing the future. So even when Park Sun Woo was already back in the ‘present’, things could change. The 20 year gap that kept on moving at the same time made it a unique take on time travelling.

The ending gives us something to think about too. There are multiple explanations of what could have happened: some happy, some depressive. Before we continue, we must go back to the beginning of our series.

Nine: Nine times time travel – Beginning scene recap:

We’re in the Himalayes. We see the brother in a thick, red jacket. He is struggling to climb a snowy mountain. Finally he falls. For some reason he grabs an incense stick and tries to light it. But then a shadow falls over him.

The scene changes to ‘Pokhara, Nepal. December 15, 2012’.

We meet our hero Park Sun Woo and find out it is actually a year later than our snowy-mountain-scene. Apparently Sun Woo’s brother died there. The clothing and items fit, but the body is unrecognisable.

Notice:

– Shadow standing over brother before he supposedly dies
– The brother is identified by the items, the body itself is never identified

Nine: Brother falls

Nine: Brother falls

Nine: Shadow over brother

Nine: Shadow over brother

 

Nine: Nine times time travel ending recap:

In episode 19 we’ve seen present Park Sun Woo making the changes in the past to make the future happy for everyone. He is going to marry. Brother is alive. However, he gets stuck in the past. There he records that he understands the meaning of the incense sticks. He says it’s his life: every time he used a stick his life shortened. Now he used every one of them and his chances are over. He just hopes everything turned out all right. He is starting to feel glad that he is dying, because it is fitting… And I think it would be very painful too, to life 20 years in the past and growing old, knowing the age gap between him and the girl he loves will be more than 20 years, even if he survives to meet her again.

Now, we fast forward a bit. We find out Park Sun Woo saw Joo Min Young just before he dies. He makes her promise that if she meets someone with his face in the future, she will keep her distance, because this person will ruin her life.

Present day Min Young remembers this exactly at the same time and starts crying in shock. She knows Sun Woo dies.

But then of course there is still teenage Park Sun Woo. He grows older and older, getting closer to the time when ‘present Park Sun Woo’ (the one who is dead now) found the sticks and started time travelling. However; the life of teenage Park Sun Woo is not the same as that of present (dead) Park Sun Woo. His brother did pay for his crimes and went to prison and Min Young acts differently because she met present Park Sun Woo. And of course he knows that present Park Sun Woo could time travel (and realizes that present Park Sun Woo dies in 1993). He also remembers the advice of present Park Sun Woo: he will always make the right choice.

So in the end he realizes that Min Young might have had advice to avoid him, but he already loves her. Strengthened by the thought that he will always make the right choice + the fact that he now has a warning he might die when time travelling he chooses to love her anyway, because his future might be different than present Sun Woo’s. He follows Min Young to Nepal.

Notice: it is mentioned that his brother will be in Nepal at the same time too.

HOWEVER!

It would be all nicely wrapped up, but the writers decided to add a next scene. We are again on the snowy mountain. We see the brother in the snow, like in episode 1. A shadow falls over him… and then we see a bearded (older?) Park Sun Woo bending over and reaching out his hand, saying: “Long time no see, Hyung”.

 

My thoughts on the ending

1. The clean and tidy ending
It was all nicely wrapping up, until the very last seconds. Without the scene with the brother on the mountain, my explanation would be as following:

Present Park Sun Woo dies, but changes the past so teenage Park Sun Woo will have a good life. Teenage Park Sun Woo never finds his brother on the mountain. Because of the pills they found in 1993 he is treated in time for his brain tumor. He starts to like Min Young and in the end chooses to marry her. Yes!
Downside: our present Park Sun Woo’s friends and family have to life in their reality and do realize Sun Woo is dead.
Downside averted: Perhaps the moment Sun Woo tells child Min Young to avoid the person with the same face as he has, Sun Woo made his final changes in 1993 and the 2013 reality might have changed/stopped at the time he dies.

2. The clean and tidy ending with some questionable mountain climbing
Remember that brother also went to Nepal at the same time? Let’s say the clean and tidy ending happened. Then somehow his brother decides to go mountain climbing and he also has an incense stick. Sun Woo trough some miracle follows his brother and is in time to rescue him.

Although possible, this would bother me:
– Why does the brother need incense/climb the mountain again? He seems happy with his life.
– How does Sun Woo know and finds him on this big mountain?
– Why does Sun Woo has  a beard and is possibly older (okay, might be that it is some days later and he has fast growing hair).

3. Different choice ending
Suppose the brother we see dying at the end, is the same brother we see in episode 1 (there was a shadow too, remember!). However, Park Sun Woo makes a different choice when finding out about his dead a year later.
Instead of going back to the past to try to save lives there, he decides to save up (some of the) sticks. He then lives his life and after 20 years lights the incense to save his brother. This would explain why he looks a bit older. This would open up a whole new reality and make a whole new story. But then this mountain ending scene would be not ‘what happened’ but more like ‘what could have happened if’.

4. There was a Park Sun Woo before
Okay, this one is hard to explain. In the ‘different choice ending’ I explained that it could be a future Park Sun Woo (from 2032/2033) that goes back. Perhaps this future Park Sun Woo made THIS choice to begin with. But he might come too late and will not be able to save his brother on the mountain. He then leaves his brothers body behind and changes something in 2012/2013 that makes present Park Sun Woo make a different choice (safe everyone in 1993).

OR:

He does save his brother and leaves a death body (the brother is only identified by the items/picture). He somehow knows that it is necessary that present Park Sun Woo thinks his brother is dead and starts searching for the sticks. Like a big chain reaction. But that does make one wonder: where did the death body come from?

5. Park Sun Woo did not die in 1993
It would be strange the police messed this up, but what if Sun Woo stayed alive/came back to life in 1993? Then he would try to change his future again. He would wait for 20 years and then go to Nepal to save his brother. This way he could save his brother and make his other self not use the incense sticks. His other self would end up with the girl and his brother might find some happiness in the fact that a 20-year-older Sun Woo knows what he has done and forgave him. For 20-year-older Sun Woo it would be sad that he must live his life for 20 years without his friends and family, only to know that his other self would get the girl… However, it might be possible that by saving his brother his existence gets erased immediately and the whole time loop gets… well, not untangled but strangely stuck?

6. Teenage Sun Woo catches up with all his memories
Teenage (but already full grown now) Sun Woo goes to Nepal to get his girl. When it is the same date and time present Sun Woo realizes he can time travel, his memories catch up. He now knows what moves present Sun Woo. He does nothing and lives his life peacefully. However something unknown happens that makes him want to change his life anyway. Because it is already in the future that he realizes he wants to change, so he can’t change it in 1993 any more.
He finds the sticks. Maybe they are back on the mountain again, because the current time line Sun Woo never retrieved them from there (like a clean slate). He decides to change his life at the very beginning of all the misery: he goes back to the moment his brother is on the mountain, dying, and saves him. The Sun Woo from this time (Sun Woo who is 20 years younger than teenage Sun Woo) then has another change: he does not know his brother’s betrayal and his brother does not die. He also gets the girl. It’s like Sun Woo version 3.0.

7. Too difficult to name
Okay…

So like I said this time travel drama has his own rules. One of this rules is that the past changes the present of 20 years later. So even when a present seems changed already, it can still change because of a ripple that is made in the past.

Sun Woo said: Min Young is the key. Because of what she tells Sun Woo (guy in the past saying she should avoid him), Sun Woo knows he will die in 1993. This knowledge influences the present Sun Woo, because when his teenage self knows he will die, the present/future is changed again. Present Sun Woo does not die in 1993 but stays alive because of this knowledge. He then decides he doesn’t want to die, but does not want to let his brother die either. So he lives 20 years happily with Min Young. Then he goes back to 2012 to when his brother walks on the mountain. He saves his brothers live and everything will change again.

8. Episode 1-19 was all a fantasy
Teenage Sun Woo might have met a man who helps him and tells him he is his 20-year-older self. Episode 1-19 might be al fantasised by teenage Sun Woo about what happened to this man.

9. Brother is destined to want to change his past
Maybe his brother still feels sorry for killing his dad (even though he is happier now than in the other time line). He goes to Nepal, but because of all the changes it is a different date then the first time. He dies there (like in the first time line) and Sun Woo will again find out about the sticks. Because of his knowledge of present Sun Woo dying and the fact that 1992/1993 wasn’t that miserable any more he does not go back to 1993. He lives his life happy and just saves his brother with a stick (2032/2033).

Conclusion

It is giving me a big headache! I think ending 2 is the most satisfying, or otherwise ending 9. His brother was in Nepal at the time too. He might just wanted to take a hike and teenage Sun Woo might be worried and goes after him. Sun Woo catches up (grows a beard in the meantime) and is glad to finally catch up and save him.

It keeps bothering me however, that in episode 1 we also see a shadow lingering over brother (is it Sun Woo there too?) and that the brother tries to light an incense stick too (not the most logical thing to do when dying on a mountain).

What do you think is the most satisfying ending? How do you think it ends? Post a comment with your thoughts.

9 thoughts on “Nine: Nine Times Time Travel Ending explained

  1. It’s both 7 and 9. Jungwoo decides he wants to change the past (as he did in the beginning) and he dies. Young Sunwoo goes to Nepal to pursue minyoung but finds out about brothers death. He doesn’t use the incense stick because minyoung said he dies going to the past. Instead he waits 20 yrs and saves his brother at 2033. His decision not to go back probably changes the future so that his future doesn’t die in 1993.

  2. There is a huge mistake in your endings or what may have happened.

    Or I am mistaken.. one of those lol From what I have seen the incense is completely gone. it cannot be re-used whether you go back to past to use it or not. Remeber the episode where Choi Jin Jol gets the 2 incense stick in the container and when he lights one it disappears instantly? I am guessing it disappeared instantly when he used it because that incense was the one Seon Woo used in the future. So basically when Choi Jin Jol had only one incense stick remaining even though he technically retrieved two from the past. So doesn’t this mean doesn’t matter where/when the incense gets used.. once its used.. it cannot be used to time-travel. Following that logic, there isn’t a way for anymore time travelling.

    Also if what I said is the correct thing then some may be guessing.. the older brother has an incense stick in the end in his hand, how is it there? well It was never explained where/how he got the incense but he never lit it so we can’t say for certain if that logic stands, cause technically in the end things were already changed so when seon woo’s brother found the stick, that stick was already used by seon woo previously, it would just disappear. Atleast if the logic behind incense works as I have thought.

    Anywayz if you don’t understand what I am saying here then don’t worry about it. Even I am confused right now lol

  3. Btw I would agree with ending 2 that you have wrote down.. and my above comment was for the parts where you talked about using incense. It is just too confusing honestly the most messed up part was when Seon Woo didn’t appear in wedding. I don’t know why the younger Seon Woo or Seon Woo of that time line didn’t appear in wedding?

    They could have made the logic simpler by making it so, when younger version dies that means no future. And if the older version dies.. then nothing would happen as the younger version would just continue his life. and the older versions death doesn’t affect the younger version because the younger one is already making different choice so technically it’s not his future anymore.

    So it would have made sense if Seon Woo had appeared in wedding while his older version died. But the younger version didn’t appear in wedding so that just made things too complicated honestly…. They could have just made it simple and made it so Seon Woo doesn’t remember about time travel when the older version died because the older version doesn’t go back to the younger versions body. So younger version just knows that his older version had time travelled to warn him and that’s all. Min Yeong and others would remember about time travel because their original/older versions didnt die. So simple right? I don’t know why they made it so confusing lol

    There could have been so many reasonable possibilities if it wasn’t for that nonattendance in the wedding..

  4. to me 7 and 9 makes it all clear thank you! my explanations were similar to this as well. btw this show rocks!

  5. i think older version of sungwoo had told the newer version dat he,the newer one,will always make a right choice.so this is the first signal dat this time the newr one had made a right choice and had not repeated the mistake of d older one.moreover this time jung woo is saved by theolder one so it might have happened so dat the sticks might not reach to hands of sunwoo, newr one

  6. During the series the Hindu religion is bashed as Satanic and the REAL God, Jesus “Lord”, is praised instead. The sticks were several times called evil, and later Sun Woo says HE is the sticks, hence he is evil. This is biblical because everyone is a sinner, that’s why they need a Savior. In the very first scenes we see a shadow over the brother BUT it is not determined to be of a person … it could very well have been Satan, “the angel of death”, because the brother did die, there was enough evidence it was the brother on the body and those items were saved by the police. Later Sun Woo makes favorable comments about God, “the Lord”, to me that signals he has given up his atheist ways and will now honor God. Obviously the brother went up the mountain again, he still had regrets and thought he would try again. Sun Woo sensed this about his brother and went after him, saving his new life — he has totally forgiven his brother in a Godly way, whereas before he came to the Lord he was bitter and said, “I will never forgive you.” But a bitter heart never brings happiness and I think at the end both brothers realized that and that’s why they reach for each other in the very last moment of the series. Both are at peace.

  7. Well here is my opinion:
    The alternate endings you wrote may show that Sun Woo not only time travels by using the insence stick,instead he was HOPPPING DIMENSIONS.You know some movies or stories wrote their stories stating that the Earth consists of many different timelines,and so on.I think that the past or future Sun Woo uses the insence stick to travel between alternate dimentions so he may know what will happen in his whole life.Here is an example:
    If Sun Woo is sure to die in that particular timeline and Sun Woo knows that he WILL die,he can use his insence sticks to hop to another new alternate dimension(to the time he has done something about his death)to change his outcome of death.
    (Each of the timelines don’t affect each other,right?)
    In the original story,viewers may see a lot of time paradoxes so it would be quite confusing.
    Well……
    these are my OPINIONS ONLY.
    Thank you and have a nice day.

    • I forgot to state this:The original timeline that Sun Woo existed may be nullified or cancelled the moment he jumps to another dimension.
      This may quite confusing.

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