Korean Movie: House Of The Disappeared: Explained

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Hi, this is Barry and welcome to my site. House Of The Disappeared (Si-gan-wi-ui jib) is a 2017 Korean psychological thriller which is a remake of the Venezuelan movie named The House At The End Of Time (La casa del fin de los tiempos). The original film is directed by Alejandro Hidalgo and the Korean remake is directed by Dae-wung Lim. The movie follows a woman who is wrongly accused and imprisoned for the murder of her husband and son. She returns 25 years later to the house where the incident occurred to search for the truth. The Korean movie cast sees Yun-jin Kim doing the heavy lifting (you’ll remember her from Lost). This mixed-genre movie is fantastic and really puts your mind to work. Here’s the plot analysis and the ending of the 2017 Korean movie House Of The Disappeared explained. Technically, this article also explains The House At The End Of Time as the two movies have the exact same plot; spoilers ahead.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

House Of The Disappeared: Timeline Diagram

House of the Disappeared timeline diagram small
click to enlarge

House Of The Disappeared: What is the history of the house?

The house was built for General Watabe Kunio in 1942 by mixing the best Japanese methods of natural science and occultism. The general was very insistent that the house be built on that location. It looks like that place hosted a wormhole that connected various locations in time. 

Apart from this, in November, once every 25 years, people in the house experience time-slips, meaning they unintentionally, randomly intersplice with other times in multiples of 25 years. Each person ends up looking like ghosts to the other future or past residents of the house. 

What’s wrong with the house?

The house is built on a time vortex. Every November, the house gets intertwined with other points in time, separated by multiples of 25 years. 1942, 1967, 1992, 2017 and so on. While all other days of November involve temporal glitches, 11 Nov sees a complete and stable overlap of all points in time apart by multiples of 25 years. Additionally, the wall behind the door in the basement disappears on 11 Nov, allowing people to permanently move over to a different point in time.

What happened to the Japanese family in 1942?

They escaped through time. Because of the exploitation by the Japanese at the time, a great rage was simmering in the farmers. They lashed out at the family because they saw the Japanese General as the pioneer. While the reporter claimed that the farmers broke in and killed the family, that was not the truth. The Japanese family entered the door in the basement and escaped to some other unknown time, and lived their lives there, never returning to the house again. By the time the farmers got the housemaid to give up the location of the Japanese family and went to the basement, the time passage had closed, and all they found was the door with a wall behind it.

All the moments in the movie we see the Japanese family was when they were in the house during November in 1942. This applies to the woman and two girls from 1967 too.

Who are the two creepy girls?

two creepy girls house of the disappeared

After the disappearance of the general in 1942, the house is eventually occupied by a woman and her two children. In November of 1967, the woman and her two children begin experiencing overlaps with other years in the future and past. These are the various scenes we see with the woman and her two girls, who are mistaken for ghosts. Remember, from their point of view, in 1967, random people start showing up in their house; the woman and two girls assumed the others were ghosts. On 11 Nov 1967, the woman and her kids presumably entered the basement door and disappeared to another time and never returned to the house again.

House Of The Disappeared: Plot Explained

Mi-hee’s Story

Mi-hee was once married, and Hyo-je is her son from the earlier wedding. Mi-hee’s first husband had a genetic heart condition and died as a result. Her son, Hyo-je, also suffers from the same health condition as his father, and there is no cure for it in the 90s. Later on, she meets Chul-joong and gets married and has another child, Ji-won. Mi-hee’s family moves into the house in 1982. Over the years, Chul-joong and Mi-hee fall out of love. Chul-joong steadily develops resentment towards his stepson, Hyo-je.

House Of The Disappeared: The Night of the Haunting (The Intruder)

the night of the intruder

So, there is no haunting, there are no ghosts in this film, there are only families that are inadvertently travelling through time and assume each other to be ghosts.

Come November 1992, Mi-hee experiences overlaps with people from other times separated by multiples of 25 years. Mi-hee believes it’s a home intruder the first time it occurs (the mysterious hand). The next day when the cops look around, they can’t find anyone else’s fingerprints but Mi-hee’s. The cops have no evidence of anyone breaking in either. Chul-joong thinks Mi-hee’s going crazy. Hyo-je appears shaken but doesn’t disclose what he saw. He only hands a note to Mi-hee. The note roughly translates to “leave this house, dad’s going to kill the kid“. Mi-hee puts the note away not knowing what to make of it.

Feng Shui

Mi-hee gets a Feng Shui person to take a look at the house. Because he’s experiencing multiple times at once, he’s not able to say what’s wrong with the house. A temporal event causes his hand chain to get drawn to the door like there was a giant magnet behind it. He assumes the obvious – haunting and recommends a shaman and gets the heck out.

The Shaman

house of the disappeared shaman

Now, the shaman has powers to talk with spirits, but there are no ghosts in the case of this house. The people in the place are all alive but exist at different points in time. The shaman is simply connecting and communicating with them through time. She’s also able to see the event of a few days into the future when Chul-joong attempts to kill Hyo-je. She hears and repeats this, “daddy, please don’t kill me“.

Mi-hee opens her eyes and gets a glimpse of the multiple families and an old guy looking intently at the ritual and at her. Here again, from their perspective, in their house, they’re suddenly seeing this strange ritual that three women are performing. Mi-hee freaks out and asks the shaman to leave.

Death of Ji-won

house of the disappeared how did the boy die

Ji-won is not killed by a ghost as there are no ghosts in this movie. What happens to the kid is a terrible accident. Ji-won happens to be standing at the edge of a vertical drop and playing his video game and tossing rocks. A gust of stray wind blows dust in his eyes. Closing his eyes, the kid loses orientation, backs away and falls over and drowns. Later that day, the authorities discover his body. Chul-joong lashes out on Hyo-je for not taking care of his brother.

Chul-joong’s Wrath

Overcome with rage, Chul-joong decides to kill Hyo-je and goes at him with a knife. Mi-hee tries to stop him, but he smashes her head against the mirror, causing her to go unconscious. When she comes to, Mi-hee goes down to the basement to see Chul-joong stabbed. She sees Hyo-je standing by the mysterious door in the basement and gets pulled inside. When she opens the door, she finds a solid wall behind it. This is the opening scene of the movie.

Mi-hee gets sentenced to 25 years for the murder of her husband and possibly her son, whose body is never found. In November 2017, Mi-hee is released and is ordered to be under house arrest.

House Of The Disappeared: Who is the priest?

Hyo-je’s close friend grows up to become a priest by the year 2017. Unable to get closure because of his missing friend, he comes over to the house in the hope to learn some truth about the night Hyo-je disappeared. The priest begins to research information about the residence and the mysterious disappearances in the years 1942 and 1967, just like his friend’s in 1992. 

In 2017, Mi-hee experiences interlocking with people from other times again like this she did in 1992 and continues to assume haunting.

House Of The Disappeared: What really happened on the night of the haunting (intruder) in 1992?

Mi-hee, Mi-hee and Hyo-je

the night of the intruder hyo-ye mi-hee

On 11 Nov 2017, Old-Mi-hee enters the door in the basement as she finds no wall behind it. She gets taken back to the night of the intruder, 8 Nov 1992. 2017-Mi-hee doesn’t realise she has travelled back in time to 1992. She tries to enter her room and is surprised to find it locked. Remember, 1992-Mi-hee is inside that room and has it locked. 2017-Mi-hee fetches the keys, unlocks the door and opens it. 2017-Mi-hee tries to grab the mysterious person inside. When 2017-Mi-hee peeks through the door, she sees her younger self coming at her with scissors. 2017-Mi-hee realises it was she who was in the house all those years ago – the intruder. 2017-Mi-hee quickly heads down to Hyo-je’s room. She is overcome with joy to meet her son again. 2017-Mi-hee hands Hyo-je a written note and asks him to give it to his mother.

Hyo-he and Ji-won

the night of the intruder brothers

At this exact moment, thanks to a temporal glitch, Hyo-je from 11 Nov 1992 inadvertently slips through time and travels back in time to 8 Nov 1992, the night of the intruder. Future-Hyo-je goes over to his brother’s room and is surprised to see Ji-won alive and hugs him and apologises. Future-Hyo-je believes that his brother is really back and walks through the corridor to tell his mother about it. Just as he reaches the aisle, he slips back to his current date, 11 Nov 1992, where he encounters his enraged stepfather walking up to him to kill him.

On the night of the intruder, there were 2 Mi-hee, 2 Hyo-je, 1 Ji-won and 1 Chul-joong (who leaves the house after the argument with Mi-hee).

House Of The Disappeared: Who killed Chul-joong? What really happened on the night of the murder on 11 Nov 1992? 

what actually happened on the night of the murder in 1992

2017-Mi-hee gets chased by an old man, and she runs into the doorway in the basement. The old man reveals himself to be a very old Hyo-je who has been trying for 75 years to meet with his aged mother. He was unable to contact his mother in the other years – 2042 and 2067. Finally, 2092-Hyo-je uses the temporal portal to interact with his aged mother, 2017-Mi-hee, to tell her that she saved him on the night of 11 Nov 1992. 2092-Hyo-je explains to 2017-Mi-hee that her actions that night are what ruins 1992-Mi-hee’s life, and he urges her not to do it. But 2017-Mi-hee understands that her miserable existence now has value because it gives life to her son – first, by saving 1992-Hyo-je from the murderous stepfather, and second, by taking 1992-Hyo-je to 2017 when there is a cure for his genetic heart condition.

2017-Mi-hee says “I love you” to 2092-Hyo-je and goes to 11 Nov 1992 when Chul-joong is about to stab Hyo-je. 2017-Mi-hee strikes Chul-joong and picks up his knife. Disoriented, he walks right into the blade, impaling and killing himself. 2017-Mi-hee initially decides to leave Hyo-je in his own time in an attempt to rewrite her history so that 1992-Mi-hee would get to live with her son. But she realises that Hyo-je can’t get the treatment he needs in that era and therefore snatches him and take him with her to 2017. 2017-Mi-hee’s actions caused the mysterious disappearance of Hyo-je in 1992. Also, 2017-Mi-hee’s fingerprints on the murder weapon incarcerates 1992-Mi-hee and results in the hellish life she experiences in prison for 25 years—2017-Mi-hee sacrifices her youth to provide a life for her son.

House Of The Disappeared: Ending Explained

house of the disappeared ending explained

The ending of House Of The Disappeared reveals that a time-travelling old Mi-hee causes the death of her husband and the disappearance of her son. There are no ghosts in the house, only inadvertent time-travellers mistaking each other for spirits.

On 12 Nov 2017, old Mi-hee tells the priest everything, who listens in disbelief. He soon sees Hyo-je who’s been brought from 1992, and they share their secret handshake which confirms that the story is not a lie. Old Mi-hee asks her son to go with the priest, saying she will not make it for very long because of throat cancer. The priest takes 1992-Hyo-je with him. The two meet the girl Hyo-je liked back in 1992, who is now much older but fondly wears a necklace made from the marbles Hyo-je gave her in 1992. The girl looks at 1992-Hyo-je in disbelief and smiles as she touches her necklace.

While not shown in the film, 1992-Hyo-je begins his new life in 2017, gets his treatment eventually. 1992-Hyo-je learns from old news that Mi-hee was sentenced to 25 years because of his disappearance and his stepfather’s death on the night of 11 Nov 1992. This is why he begins trying to reach out to 2017-Mi-hee to tell her to not do it, to not ruin her own life. After failing in 2042 and 2067, he finally succeeds in 2092 and uses the time vortex to meet his old mother. But it doesn’t alter anything; what has happened has happened and can’t be changed.

House Of The Disappeared: How old is Hyo-je in the end?

About 85 years old. No, he’s not over 100 years old. Assuming Hyo-je was 10-years-old in 1992, he is also 10-years in 2017, thanks to time travel. From there, he tried 75 years to get back and meet his old mother; this would make him 10 + 75 = 85 years old.