Death’s Game: All reincarnation characters’ stories explained

Gabriela Silva
Death's Game K-drama characters and cast.

TVING and Amazon Prime Video introduce an enthralling supernatural K-drama featuring Choi Yi-jae (played by Seo In-guk) as he grapples with the repercussions of Death’s Game, navigating through 12 distinct reincarnation personas. Here, we delve into the character breakdown.

In the K-drama, Yi-jae isn’t having the best stroke of luck when he’s unable to secure a job and loses his girlfriend. Fed up with life and its many misfortunes toward him, he decides to die by suicide. But it’s not that simple.

His actions and ability to throw away his life anger Death (Park So-dam). Wanting to teach Yi-jae a lesson for making fun of death, he’ll have to go through reincarnation. He will be reincarnated 12 times, each time as a different person.

The catch? Each person is also on the brink of their own death. If Yi-jae can stop it, he can live out his life as that person. Death’s Game has a coveted list of Korean actors as reincarnated characters with their own stories to tell.


Choi Yi-jae

Seo In-guk as Choi Yi-jae in Death's Game.

As the main character, Yi-jae’s storyline drives the K-drama forward. Episode 1 begins with him on his way to an interview when receiving a call from his girlfriend. She’s adamant that he’ll get it – until a man purposely walks into traffic, gets hit, and lands in front of Yi-jae. A bad omen? It’s revealed he’s been jobless for seven years after that and only able to work part-time jobs.

Yi-jae is at another interview. He doesn’t impress two of the interviewees. However, he does when it comes to the boss, who understands his tenacity to work hard and get various certifications despite having lost his father at a young age. But the drama doesn’t end there. At the end of the interview, he gets a call from a friend.

He’s informed that their other friend had scammed them out of all their money in a false investment. Going to see his girlfriend, he sees her returning home with another man. Angered by the day’s events and his girlfriend giving him money, he breaks up with her. He claims he has made her suffer enough.

Yi-jae also returns to find himself kicked out of his apartment. The final straw – he dies by suicide and wakes up as a new person, meets Death, and learns the terms of his punishment. If he fails, he’ll go to hell.

Park Jin-tae

Choi Si-won as Park Jin-tae in Death's Game.

Death’s Game introduces the reincarnation character Park Jin-tae (Choi Si-won). He’s Yi-jae’s first reincarnation, who wakes up in a luxury private jet wearing a nice tailored suit. The plane goes through turbulence but stabilizes. In the bedroom, a shining stone appears and goes to Yi-jae.

Park Jin-tae is 33 years old. He’s the second son of Taekang’s CEO and grew up in a life of privilege and wealth. But Jin-tae also grew up with a competitive edge, especially toward his older brother. In fact, he was named successor of the company after beating his big bro. It just so happens that Taekang is the company Yi-jae has been trying to work for.

Jin-tae’s story is short-lived as the jet engine is engulfed in flames. The plane breaks apart and kills the pilot and the crew. As the jet is engulfed in flames, Jin-tae dies, and Yi-jae has completed one of his reincarnations.

Song Jae-seop

Sung Hoon as Song Jae-seop in Death's Game.

Shortly after Jin-tae perishes, Yi-jae wakes up in hell again with Death. He’s made to realize the gravity of what hell is really like and for having made fun of death. Death pushes him into his next reincarnation as Song Jae-seop (Sung Hoon), who has just jumped out of a plane after skydiving.

The same glowing stone appears. Jae-seop is 38 years old and loves extreme sports. Because of this, he’s lived his life on the edge and close to danger. He’s even got four Guinness World Records. The scenario Yi-jae has fallen into is extreme. Jae-seop will attempt the impossible and skydive without a parachute 8,000 feet from the ground.

His goal is to land in a netted target for his sponsor to give him three billion in cash. Taking on Jae-seop’s confidence, Yi-jae attempts the stunt thinking it’ll work. Instead, he crash lands into a bloody mess on the pavement.

Kwon Hyuk-soo

Kim Kang-hoon as Kwon Hyuk-soo in Death's Game.

Returning to Death, Yi-jae sees no reason to continue her punishment. But Death wants him to learn a lesson and shoots him into his next reincarnation. The next reincarnation character in Death’s Game is a student named Kwon Hyuk-soo (Kim Kang-hoon).

Hyuk-soo is 17 years old and lost his father when he was five. His mother became the sole breadwinner to provide for her son. In return, Hyuk-soo studied harder, but hated school due to his bullies. He’s kept it a secret to protect his mother. School became his own personal hell, and hoping to stop his bully, he threatened to jump off the roof. But his bully only made things worse.

Yi-jae tries to fight off Hyuk-soo’s bully to stop him for good, but fails. Hyuk-soo’s story reminds him of his own, having been raised by a single mother. Hoping to change the game, Yi-jae tries to turn the bully’s right-hand man against him. But it doesn’t work, as the bully is under the protection of a stronger senior.

The right-hand man begins to see reason and refuses to help when Yi-jae pours noodles on the bully, embarrassing him. Wanting revenge, he tells his senior to go after him. The senior realizes that Hyuk-soo’s only a wimpy kid and scolds the bully. The bully loses all power. So, how does Hyuk-soo die?

After meeting his school bully, who is now drunk, he goes home and is almost struck by a truck. He hears someone call for him as it leaves and is struck in the head by the bully, getting beaten to death.

Lee Ju-hun

Jang Seung-jo as Lee Ju-hun in Death's Game.

The next reincarnation character in Death’s Game is a bit more interesting. Yi-jae wakes up as Lee Ju-hun (Jang Seung-jo) as he’s being waterboarded and restrained by a group of thugs. Before they put a screwdriver through his eye, the glowing stone appears. Ju-hun is 35 years old and is known as a ‘fixer.’ The gang he works for is global and a secret organization in the criminal world.

As a fixer, he “fixes” all of his client’s problems – even if it means murder. His story? He seems to have fallen in love with one of the club’s female workers. Stealing money from his boss to leave together, he’s ambushed before meeting her. The scene shifts back to him being held hostage, breaking free, and killing all the henchmen.

But Yi-jae doesn’t want to live as a fixer and realizes he must find the money to escape Death. A high-speed pursuit occurs with Yi-jae on a motorcycle. He’s able to escape and meet with the girl. After telling her where the money is, she betrays him and shoots him dead.

Cho Tae-sang

Lee Jae-wook as Cho Tae-sang in Death's Game.

Onto the next reincarnation character in Death’s Game is Cho Tae-sang (Lee Jae-wook). Yi-jae wakes up as Tae-sang in a prison and is confused about what to do. Thanks to another inmate in his cell, he learns he’s leaving in a few days and is told to keep his anger in check. He’s warned of the psycho killer in their cell, who happens to be Hyuk-soo’s bully.

Yi-jae beats him for good measure but is still warned. The glowing stone appears and reveals Tae-sang is 21 years old and dreamed of being an MMA fighter. He gave it up due to family circumstances. Needing money to protect his mother from loan sharks, he’s given a job, and was given money in exchange for taking the blame in a hit-and-run case.

The charges were meant to be minor until the victim died during the trial. Tae-sang was charged with manslaughter and sent to prison for two years. Back in the cell, Yi-jae forces the bully to comply and makes him be seen as a wimp instead of a killer. While working in the woodshop, another inmate tries to kill him by lunging a saw blade at him.

He dodges and the blade bounces back at the person in the neck. Thugs try to beat him on behalf of a client but fail. Soon, Tae-sang is released from jail and refutes money from the lawyer that set him up in the first place. He goes to find the hidden money and does. For safekeeping, he goes to a subway storage locker to stash some of the cash. But Yi-jae is stabbed by the father of the hit-and-run victim on his way to see his mother.

As he tells him he wasn’t the person who killed his daughter, Tae-sang’s cellmate arrives. The man flees, and Tae-sang learns his cellmate has betrayed him and stabs him to death.

The Baby

Yi-jae’s next reincarnation is a short but upsetting one. He soon wakes up as a baby. Unable to stop his fate, the baby has neglectful parents who mistreat him. After a welfare check for child abuse by police, the mother suffocates the baby to death.

Jang Geon-woo

Lee Do-hyun as Jang Geon-woo in Death's Game.

The most detailed reincarnation character in Death’s Game is Jang Geon-woo (Lee Do-hyun). Waking up in his body, Yi-jae realizes he’s just in time to retrieve the rest of the money from the locker.

Geon-woo is 24 years old and has been popular since childhood for his looks. Becoming a model was easy, but he lived his life aimlessly. Yi-jae takes advantage of his glamorous life and goes to a club, where he happens to meet Park Tae-woo (Kim Ji-hoon), now CEO of Taekang Group. Waking up drunk, Yi-jae has to go to work at a cafe as Geon-woo.

In a twist of fate, Yi-jae’s ex-girlfriend, Lee Ji-soo (Go Yoon-jung,) enters. Having flashbacks of how they met and Googling her, Yi-jae realizes his mistake the night he died. Ji-soo wasn’t on a date, but had come back from winning a writing competition. The money was her prize money. Hoping to get close to her again, Geon-woo continues to work at the cafe to see her.

He approaches with a story idea of reincarnated death. Over time, they become close, but Ji-soo is still heartbroken over Yi-jae’s death. During an outing, Yi-jae pours out his emotions over his love for Ji-soo and how he had been wrong. In a twist, he reveals the truth of Geon-woo really being him, Yi-jae.

As he does this, a red car crashes into them. A man gets out, and it’s Tae-woo. It just so happens that some of the reincarnations are connected. The man in the hit-and-run Tae-sang covered up was Tae-woo, and the fixer who made Jin-tae’s death look like an accident was Ju-hun. To cover his tracks, Tae-woo suffocates Geon-woo to death.

Jeong Gyu-cheol

Kim Jae-wook in Death's Game

Yi-jae’s next reincarnation is an evil one. He’s thrust into the life of Jeong Gyu-cheol who’s 34 years old. Unlike the others, fans were introduced to part of his horrid story already. He’s a devoted artist. But his real passion is murder. He murders people in gruesome ways and uses their blood and blood splatter to create his art. 

When Yi-jae becomes him, the glowing stone appears from a bucket of blood. In his backstory, Hyu-cheol reveals he was born into a normal family but realizes he has a gift. Fans see his younger self drawing an animal with its guts out. His gift is for art but the world failed to take notice of him. One night, a woman died by suicide and fell on a parked car. Enamored by the blood and the scene, he’s inspired. He begins to paint what he saw and finds his golden ticket to fame. 

Gyu-cheol becomes a cold-blooded and ruthless serial killer. Each victim’s blood platters on his canvases which he later uses to paint his sold-out art. He claims the 15 people he murdered were reborn as his art. As Gyu-cheol, Yi-jae vows to find Ji-soo’s killer and begins to look for clues. Having still been alive during the hit-and-run, he remembers the car camera’s memory chip being disposed of in the sewage. But Yi-jae falls unconscious outside Tae-woo’s company.

He soon learns why he was reincarnated as Gyu-cheol. He has a brain tumor. When being informed Tae-woo wants to buy one of Gyu-cheol’s not-for-sale paintings, he goes to see him. He openly admits that it was made from human blood. Sometime later, Gyu-cheol goes to his home in the hopes of kidnapping him. Tae-woo goes willingly after realizing how serious Gyu-cheol is about killing him. Back at Gyu-cheol’s home, he passes out. Tae-woo turns the table in his favor and straps him to the metal table. He admits his first hit-and-run happens to be the same man who changed the course of Yi-jae’s life before his interview.

Gyu-cheol is murdered by Tae-woo, leading Yi-jae to go back to hell to the devil. But it’s revealed Yi-jae planned to get killed as everything was recorded.

Ahn Ji-hyung

Oh Jung-se in Death's Game.

The next Death’s Game reincarnation character proves to be the best for Yi-jae on his path to revenge. He wakes up as police officer Ahn Ji-hyung who fans previously saw turns a blind eye to Tae-woo’s intoxicated driving.  He’s 42 years old and became an officer like his father. His father died on duty apprehending violent offenders. When he was accepted as an officer his mother was afraid he’d end up like his father. He vowed to only look out for himself. But it made him hated by his peers.

Yi-jae is the opposite of Ji-hyung and his first arrest happens to be his former cellmate that killed Tae-sang. He then takes his partner to gather the evidence of Gyu-cheol being a serial killer and hides Tae-woo killing him. Ji-hyung becomes a star in the police force. Tae-woo realizes Ji-hyung is set on revealing the truth about him and tries to thwart his plans by telling the public he was a victim who got away.

But Tae-woo played right into Ji-hyung’s hands. Using the information from his past lives, he knew Tae-woo kept his drugs in his fountain pen and replaced them. He also knew about the hard drive with him admitting to ordering a hit on his brother. With Ju-hun’s knowledge, he set the bomb in the plane with an unconscious Tae-woo and escaped with a parachute thanks to Jae-seop. The public learns the truth of Tae-woo’s crimes and the hit-and-runs.

After getting his revenge on Tae-woo who survives getting hit by a truck, Yi-jae lives out some time as Ji-hyung. During a chase with a criminal, the perp shoots his partner in the leg and is ready to kill him. Yi-jae realizes what he must do to save his partner so he can return home to his family. While rushing the perp, he shoots Ji-hyung in the abdomen and they fall over the roof. Ji-hyung dies saving his partner. 

The homeless man

Homeless Man character in Death's Game

After Ji-hyung, Yi-jae wakes up as a homeless man whose fans never know his name. He sees that Ji-hyung will be honored with a funeral and decides to go. While there, he sees Ji-hyung’s partner crying by himself and feeling guilty for what happened. They get into an argument when Yi-jae tries to console him. Death’s words echo through him that he’s no one. He begs Death to stop and runs down the stairs to avoid the glowing stone. He trips and dies. 

The office worker

One reincarnation tied to Yi-jae’s fate is none other than the man who died in front of him when he was on his way to the job interview. In his memories, Yi-jae explains he had what he’s always wanted. The man had a wife and daughter and was employed. But in the blink of an eye, it was over. He was terminated from his job and his wife was divorcing him. He gave his youth to his work. His death sparked Yi-jae’s unlucky fate and his current predicament and started Tae-woo’s lust for murder. 

Yi-jae’s mother

Kim Mi-kyung in Death's Game

The last character reincarnation in Death’s Game that’s an emotional rollercoaster is Yi-jae as his mother. He explains that his mother had big dreams, became a wife, and a mother, and was in love. She thought happiness would be forever until her husband died. She was fired for having missed work to take care of her son. Regardless, she trudged on for her son. Fans see the moment she got the call of Yi-jae’s death. After his death, she blamed herself wishing he had been born to someone smarter. 

As his mother, Yi-jae realizes how much pain she was in and hopes he’s reincarnated to a richer family. Death’s Game has this reincarnation character be his supposed last. Yi-jae goes on a hike and gets wounded. He feels the same desperation his mother did when he died. Yi-jae lives out the rest of his mother’s life and dies in peace in the countryside. 

Death’s Game is available on Amazon Prime Video, and you can watch other K-dramas that are worth watching on Netflix.