In episode 3 of the Solo Leveling anime, Jinwoo wakes up in the hospital after surviving the Double Dungeon. One change from the manga is he visits his mom before going to the station.
The show uses this to explain his mom’s condition – Eternal Sleeping Sickness left her in a coma for almost 4 years. Eternal Sleeping Sickness is a mysterious illness in the Solo Leveling world that causes people to fall into endless unconsciousness. It can’t be cured by normal means.
Jinwoo’s mom getting this sickness is a key part of his backstory. It pushed him to become a Hunter and make money for her treatment. Her condition motivates him to keep fighting despite being weak.
Eternal Sleeping Sickness is a special coma-like disease in the story that Jinwoo’s mom has. This helps drive Jinwoo’s motivations and journey as a Hunter, trying to earn enough to wake her from her years-long unconscious state someday.
The Eternal Slumber is a Consequence of the Gates
In Solo Leveling, when the dimensional Doors opened years ago, one consequence was the emergence of Eternal Sleeping Sickness. This supernatural illness leaves people permanently unconscious. It’s caused by humans being exposed to mana energy from the Doors and Hunters.
There’s no cure since they don’t fully understand mana yet. Jinwoo’s mom has this sickness, leaving her in a coma-like state.
Eternal Sleeping Sickness drains away victims’ life force, requiring expensive machines powered by magical stones to keep them alive. Most can’t afford this, so many have died from the illness. Even in this advanced magical society, the cure remains unknown.
Eternal Sleep is Consequences of Mana
The opening of the Gates and the rise of Hunters somehow improved society. But it also changed global politics, with countries’ power tied to their Hunter forces.
Eternal Sleeping Sickness explores a different impact – a physiological effect on normal humans from the arrival of mana and magic.
The disease shows those unable to adapt to magic in their environment essentially being “selected against”, and dying off. Even an E-Rank Hunter is vastly beyond a normal human physically.
So Eternal Sleeping Sickness has Darwinian undertones – those unable to coexist with the magically enhanced perish. But normal humans are still the large majority overall.
Solo Leveling adds magic to an alternate Earth. Eternal Sleeping Sickness represents the harsh physical toll on normal humans from magic’s arrival, selecting against those unable to adapt. But most people remain non-magical, despite the changes.
Who Suffers From Eternal Sleep?
There are two known cases in Solo Leveling where people were cured of Eternal Sleeping Sickness:
- Jinwoo’s mom: After becoming very strong, Jinwoo makes a rare potion called Sacred Water of Life that can cure any illness. He uses the first one to wake his mom from her coma.
- Jinho’s dad: Jinho’s friend Yoo Myunghan gets the sickness from exposure to Jinho’s mana. Despite doctors saying it’s hopeless, Myunghan learns of Jinwoo’s mom recovering. He finds Jinwoo, who uses another Sacred Water potion to cure Myunghan.
So Jinwoo’s mother and his friend’s father are the only two recorded cases of someone recovering from Eternal Sleeping Sickness. In both cases, Jinwoo was required to obtain the incredibly rare Sacred Water potion to cure any disease. This highlights how difficult it is to treat this mysterious illness in the Solo Leveling world.