Having watched the entire drama, I think these episodes (5-6) were the slowest. I will give these 7.8 stars out of 10. Many other episodes, especially the later ones, are 10 stars in my book. The drama is still introducing the players and building the base where the rest of the story will unfold. These episodes are still good. It was simply hard to watch our good guys being stabbed in their backs when they had thought they had won.
Inspector Han Jeonseok is a very upright man; he personifies the mystic animal Haechi, a righteous judge. For him, it is easier to fight for justice, even if he has to go against the current, than to compromise. This is what life is all about, doing the right thing. My husband was watching this for the first time with me, telling me that with his personality, he will surely become a high ranking official later. In real life though, I find that those who compromise to corruption are the ones who really advance politically. Like Minister Min demonstrated towards the end of episode 6.
Lord Min Jinwon believes Haechi is an idealistic ideal. For him, life and politics is about gaining power and keeping it, at all cost. Controlling people through fear and vindictive force. He explains: “This is how we win, Prince Yeoning. We put fear in everyone’s hearts. If they hurt us, they must learn about the consequences. If the world sees that, no one will ever dare to stand up against us again… We break their legs so they cannot stand up again.”
Yi Geum, whose dormant desire to be a Haechi was awakened by his encounter with Inspector Han Jeonseok, could not understand this logic. Fortunately though, he is surrounded by other Haechi dreamers. His servant Jadong, and the newly sworn “brothers” Park Moonsoo and Yeoji (with the pair of subordinates Jangdal and Ahbong).
Park Moonsoo is a funny character. Having a boisterous personality, he talks passionately before thinking. But he is a pure heart, as honest as you can get, and maybe a little too naïve. We can only hope that as the drama progress, he will learn self-restrain and may he grow a little more brains.
Yeoji is more stoic and cooler headed. Very straightforward. She takes things too literally and too seriously, lacking in sense of humor. But it is this stoicism that makes her more endearing. She does not consider herself feminine, so she does not take offense when people talk to her as a man. A true warrior of justice.
On the grey spectrum, there is the undecided lurker Dalmoon. He seems to be aware of everyone and everything. Working for the horse trader Kaedol, he purposefully misleads his boss into believing the Prince has escaped the city. And then, he is entertained watching Kaedol’s arrest at the hand of Prince Yeoning’s friends. Why? Staring at the statute of Haechi, he wonders: “Are there still idealists who believe in True Justice?” I guess he wants to believe too. Can he hope and dream too? Can we the viewers hope for him to become another Haechi dreamer? Or will he join the skeptic Lord Min instead?
Finally, there is Yi Tan, His Lordship Prince Milpoong. Does he believe in Haechi or is he a cynic like Lord Min? He is neither. I do not think his mind ever wondered at the meaning of Haechi. He is a serial killer, acquainted with breaking all kinds of laws. Having blood in his hands, he does his own type of penance at the Buddhist Temple, thinking that might be enough to atone for his crimes. He has zero understanding of true justice. He feels no remorse. Was that the reason Lord Min first picked him as the right candidate for the throne? Did Lord Min really want a cold blooded King without conscience?
Oh Dear! May the true Haechi wake up! May this righteous warrior spread out its wings to bring forth true justice to the nation of Joseon! Who can this be? – You may ask.
There we see… a lowly Prince, an insecure good for nothing Prince. But one whose mind is sharp and quick and knows how to love. For he identifies himself with the lowliest of the people in Joseon, and he loves them so. More than anything, he loves his younger brother Prince Yeonryeong who has returned his love openly without prejudices. It was for this brother that he asks to be exiled to Tamra Island, a forsaken place where many criminals were sent; isolated and underdeveloped, a place without future. Knowing his brother was a just person, he can hope and dream that the future of the nation will be in good hands.
His father and his younger brother tries to change his mind. Why throw his life away like that? But he feels he belongs in exile, like the loser he is. Maybe this is the reason he was born, to become a log to be thrown into the fire, in Tamra Island. It is hard for us to see how a person with such a low self worth could become a king later. But history tells us he did.
Please drama, let us see how this happens. How he goes from thinking he is a nobody, to becoming the ruler of the nation, the Father of Joseon. And not just any king, but a good king. A true Haechi! May His Lordship Prince Yeoning arise!
FAVORITE SCENE (Episode 5):
I had read that according to history, Prince Yeoning was his father’s favorite son. I can see a bit of this during the king’s conversation with Yi Geum.
King Sukjong: “Why did you do it? I could have protected you. I could have easily ignored your wrongdoing. But why…?”
Yi Geum: “Why would you protect someone like me? I am useless. If I can become a firewood to be burnt, there will be at least a purpose in my life.”
“Did you do this for Prince Yeonryeong? Is that why you came forward and requested self-exile as punishment? Do you not know, really, what kind of place Tamra is?”
“I have wandered all my life. That place too, will be another resting place for me.”
The king is watching his son walk away, and sadly talks to himself: “Why can’t you be the one? You too are a Prince. And more than anyone else, it should be you. Why wouldn’t you think that you can become king? My son…”
Towards the end of episode 6, the king secretly tells Chief Lee that he wants Prince Yeoning to be the next heir to the throne. However, why is the king saying this in secret? I guess he needs to protect Yi Geum’s life against all the opposing political factions. But then, why didn’t he write something, like a proof of what he wanted? Maybe that too, if falling in the wrong hands, can mean Yi Geum’s death. This games of thrones is really dangerous.
ABOUT HIS WIFE
On a separate note, I did understand the wife’s feeling of betrayal after finding out about the exile. Divorce carried a horrible stigma in those days, especially for women. Yet she preferred that over being exiled to Tamra, a no-man’s land. She may be rude according to Cho Hong and might have treated him with contempt from the beginning of their marriage due to her aristocratic prejudices. But I fear that his own self-loathing may have fueled the disrespect she felt towards him. It almost feels that he subconsciously inflicted pain upon himself out of frustration of his half-blooded status. And fooled around with other lowly women in order to demean himself. As if he was saying, he did not deserve his wife’s love or respect.
Therefore, he became a careless and loveless husband. Did he even consider asking her before he decided to self-exile, or at least give her a warning? No. The mere fact that he accepted Yeoji’s invitation to go out drinking shows a picture of an insensitive husband. His wife just broke down before him, devastated and humiliated. The least he should do is to stay home and try to comfort her. But I am guessing they lacked communication, and they were a married couple just on paper. Maybe him staying home was more toxic for her emotional and mental well being. Maybe he felt he needed to give her space, lol.
According to Wikipedia, she became a generous and benevolent Queen but died without any children. Prince Yeoning had like 9 children. Did she have health issues or was it just marital issues? Makes you wonder…
Geum (lazily): “Oh My! How can this be? That so-called witness… is here.”
Jeonseok: “My Lord the Prince Yeoning.”
Geum (holding onto the side not to lose balance): “I did have a drink, but I am also drunk on a dream. What did you call me, that dammed witness? (Becoming steady, looking straight at the leaders) That is right, I am him. I took the substitute test ordered by Prince Milpoong. Who can prove Prince Milpoong’s guilt? I, Prince Yeoning, can.”
OUT IN THE STREET
Park Moonsoo is running in a hurry and bumps into Dalmoon. Dalmoon helps him and shows him a less busy street.”
Moonsoo (to himself): “You’re all dead.”
Goontae (to Dalmoon): “He is Park Moonsoo. He is a friend of Inspector Han Jeonseok.”
Dalmoon: “I heard Prince Yeoning showed up at the open court in Saheonbu.” Looking at the statue of Haechi, “Haechi? Are there still idealists who believe in justice within the system?”
SAHEONBU SUPREME COURT
Chief Lee Yikyum: “My Lord Prince Yeoning, do you understand what you are saying? Why would Prince Milpoong order someone to take a substitute test for Roh Taepyung? This is Saheonbu’s Supreme Court. You cannot be forgiven if you give false statement, even if you are a royalty.”
Geum: “I am also a citizen of Joseon. Would I not know the danger of false testimony at Saheonbu? Yet it is true that I took that substitute test ordered by Prince Milpoong, and I am the witness that reported this incident. (Ironic smile) You have been cornered, so you cannot deny this inconvenient truth.”
Jeonseok: “The witness you all wanted has come forward. What else do you need?
Leader A: “Taking a substitute test does not prove Prince Milpoong’s guilt. How will you prove the connection?”
Jeonseok: “We need to arrest Prince Milpoong in order to find out the connection.”
Chief Lee: “What did you say? Arrest? Are you suggesting that we drag a royal member to Saheonbu?”
Jeonseok: “Why not? Royal members are part of Joseon’s people. This is the reason Saheonbu exists.” Jeonseok’s inspector friends stand up in solidarity.
Chief Lee: “What do you think you are doing?
Jeonseok: “We cannot ignore Prince Milpoong’s crimes. As Saheonbu’s inspectors, we are going to arrest him.”
Chief Lee: “Are you going to disobey orders? How dare you!”
Wi Byungjoo: “Stop everyone! As the Inspector Head, I have the final say.” Jeonseok is surprised. He thought Inspector Wi was his friend and shared his ideals.
He continues, “You are right. If the testimony were true, Prince Milpoong would have a motivation for murder. However, how are we supposed to trust the testimony of that one person? How can we be sure this is not a scheme to bring him down?”
Geum: “High officials are often convicted on mere rumors, and unidentified sources are enough for Saheonbu to judge. How strange that now, an identified witness is not enough to prove guilt, even when that witness is a royal member.”
Byungjoo: “That is the problem. The fact that My Lord, you are a royalty. We at Saheonbu, are not supposed to get involved in politics and take sides.”
Geum: “I see. You are saying that Saheonbu is really just and fair, of course. Ok, then how about this? What if I bring you one more witness.”
Dalmoon tells Kaedol that Prince Yeoning left the city. Kaedol is like “he must be scared too.” Suddenly, he hears screaming. So he gets ready to escape.
Moonsoo and Yeoji captures him. They both carry in their hands the drawing of Kaedol’s face, given to them by Yi Geum. Dalmoon watches them from afar, a twinkle in his eyes.
Yeoji drags Kaedol and shows him to all the Inspectors and leaders.
Yeoji: “I am Damo Chun Yeoji. I arrested Kaedol, who was ordered by Prince Milpoong to find a substitute test taker. I got his confession.”
Jeonseok (looking at Geum): “My Lord the Prince, how did you…?”
Geum, playfully: “I felt you wouldn’t be good at tricking others. I didn’t want anyone to find this out beforehand. So I borrowed your people without asking you.”
YI TAN’S HOUSE
Tan: “That crazy bastard Yi Geum. I should have torn him to pieces long time ago.” He still thinks he can get away from this because the Norons are backing him up.
The leaders are conflicted because they are afraid of public opinion. The young Inspectors are ready to push back and arrest Yi Tan no matter what the leaders decide.
Inspector Wi Byungjoo tries to convince Han Jeonseok to stop, telling him he cannot go against the Noron’s political power.
There is a big commotion in the Palace. The Norons are telling the Sorons that this is a false scheme to bring Prince Milpoong down.
Soron A: “Why would Prince Yeoning lie?”
Minister Min: “Prince Yeoning is the half-brother of Prince Yeonryeong. Do you need anymore explanation? I am not saying Prince Yeonryeong was involved. I am sure Prince Yeoning did this alone, to help his brother. Otherwise, this would be inexcusable.”
Prime Minister: “Let us just wait for Saheonbu to decide.”
King (walking inside): “What happens if I cannot wait for Saheonbu to decide?”
Lord Min: “Are you saying you cannot trust Saheonbu? That is a dangerous statement, Your Majesty. On what base are you saying this?”
King: “Then on what basis are you saying you cannot trust Prince Yeoning’s testimony? Why would Prince Yeoning lie to slander Prince Milpoong?
Lord Min: “Because he knows he will not be punished for simply taking a substitute test. Am I wrong, Your Majesty? Would you punish your son Prince Yeoning, just for this? But the charges concerning Prince Milpoong are heavier. They require severe punishment. What if Prince Yeoning lied just to frame Prince Milpoong? Even a commoner on the street will find this a little fishy.”
Voice: “Your Majesty, His Lordship Prince Yeoning is requesting your audience.”
Yeoning (entering): “I, Prince Yeoning, greets you His Majesty.” He bows to the king. “I got a little worried. Some may think that I have ulterior motives just because I am Prince Yeonryeong’s brother. (Looking at Lord Min) However, I have no intentions nor reasons to lie. I have been a wanderer all my life, but by accident, I learned about Prince Milpoong’s crimes.”
King: “Did you take the substitute test that was ordered by Prince Milpoong?”
Geum: “I did. I took the test for the dead Roh Taepyung. Moreover yesterday night, I followed Prince Milpoong’s men and found the corpse. I am the witness of all of Prince Milpoong’s crimes.”
Lord Min: “My Lord the Prince, what are you…”
Geum: “So I want to ask… to be exiled, Your Majesty.”
Geum: “I came here to ask you this in front of all your Royal Officials. Even if I didn’t know what I was doing, I assisted in Prince Milpoong’s crime. As a consequence of my actions please, send me to Tamra Island.”
King (standing up): “Exile? To Tamra? Do you understand what you are asking?
Geum: “I do, Your Majesty. More than ever. Until now, the royal families and the high-ranking aristocrats were never punished for their crimes. The law was generous towards them, which caused Prince Milpoong to murder innocent people. He trusted his power was stronger than the law. But after today, you must show them that the law is fair for all the people in the land. I myself… will willingly atone for my crimes. (looking at Lord Min) Will this be enough, Minister of Personnel? Not just high-ranking officials, but even commoners will agree that this is right.”
Prime Minister: “That idiot is mad. He is asking for self-punishment in order to destroy Prince Milpoong.”
Lord Min: “He wants to decide the players in the royal house. Prince Yeoning, how dare you…”
Han Jeonseok and the rest of the Inspectors broke into the house to force arrest Prince Milpoong. There is a power struggle with the Prince’s men trying to protect their Lord against the inspectors. Yeoji points her sword against the Prince’s neck.
“Everyone, stop!” It’s the Saheonbu leader with his men. He bows to the Prince.
Tan (hitting the leader): “You son of a b*! Why are you so late? Take all this mob away, especially that crazy girl… Wait, aren’t you that rat?”
Yeoji (to the leader): “It is our duty to arrest him, Sir. You don’t have the rights to stop us.”
Leader, punching Yeoji: “You are merely a Damo. How dare you intervene!”
Jeonseok: “If you are planning to stop us, you will have to hit me also!”
Leader: “Who said I will stop you? I came… to arrest Prince Milpoong.” And he orders the Prince’s arrest.
Later on, looking at Tan’s fallen hat: “He calls himself a Prince. The future of our nation? Give me a break! (to Jeonseok) Most of the high officials agreed to this arrest. From now on, we will handle this case.” And he apologizes to Yeoji.
Moonsoo joins them, to celebrate the arrest of the corrupt Prince. “Saheonbu will handle this case justly. Because this is Haechi!”
OUTSIDE OF THE PALACE COURT
King (to Geum): “Prince Milpoong got arrested. I thought you’d like to know.”
Geum: “Really? Did Saheonbu step up?”
“Why did you do it? I could have protected you. I could have easily ignored your wrongdoing. But why…?”
“Why would you protect someone like me? I am useless. If I can become a firewood to be burnt, there will be at least a purpose in my life.”
“Did you do this for Prince Yeonryeong? Is that why you came forward and requested self-exile as punishment? Do you not know, really, what kind of place Tamra is?”
“I have wandered all my life. That place too, will be another resting place for me.”
“I wished to be a good son to you. Forgive me for ending up like this. I guess this is the type of person I am, never living up to your expectations. Your Majesty…” And he bows down to his father, as a last farewell.
The king is watching his son walk away, and sadly talks to himself: “Why can’t you be the one? You too are a Prince. And more than anyone else, it should be you. Why wouldn’t you think that you can become king? My son…”
PRIME MINISTER’S HOUSE
Choi Yoonyeong is slapping her servant for daring to smile while telling her that Prince Milpoong was arrested. “Where you glad, knowing my relationship with him? What if the old man (Prime Minister) finds this out? Take her away!”
HAN JEONSEOK’S HOUSE
Moonsoo: “Can we trust the leaders to interrogate Prince Milpoong thoroughly?”
Jeonseok tells him Saheonbu is a very proud organization. But Moonsoo still doubts, saying that for many, their family honor and personal gain come first. As per himself, he proclaims that he was a key contributor to the arrest of Kaedol. Yeoji disagrees though, saying that Sir Moonsoo was a hindrance.
Inspector Jangdal interrupts, telling them to get ready for the chicken soup with wine party, prepared by Mrs. Han. They get excited, planning to do all-nighter playing inspector-&-thief board game.
Yeoji: “Aren’t we missing someone here?”
YI GEUM’S HOUSE
As the Prince walks inside, he hears his wife wailing. “Are you kidding me? Tamra? Whoever agreed to that?” She grabs the Prince’s coats and throws them on the floor. “Do you see this? I’ve become such a bad woman. A bad wife who throws her husband’s clothes away. Have I ever asked you for your affection? Or asked you for a decent life? Do I have to be expelled all the way to Tamra because of you? I can’t live like this. (Falling on the floor, crying.) I can’t continue falling so low.”
Geum: “I’m sorry. I’ve always felt this way towards you. There is no need for you to come to Tamra with me. I will divorce you first.”
Wife: “A divorce? Are you saying you will end this marriage? (Standing up.) That’s right. I will not follow you. Who am I to you anyway? Go ahead… by yourself!”
Cho Hong, grabbing the clothes from the floor: “I heard it’s windy there.”
Geum: “Cho Hong…”
Cho Hong: “I will pack what’s needed. Don’t worry.”
Wife: “What the…”
Cho Hong: “I will go with him. If you are throwing these away, can I take them?”
They hear the door opening.
Yeoji: “The door was opened so I just came in.”
Wife, in disbelief: “Who is this girl?”
Yeoji: “If it’s ok with you, would you join us for a drink? If you are busy now, we can come back later. There will be chicken soup too.”
HAN JEONSEOK’S HOUSE
Yi Geum is watching the inspector gang playing the board game.
Yi Geum is outside, breathing the night air. Jeonseok joins him, offering him a drink. “I didn’t have a chance to say this. Thank you for helping us.”
Geum: “I just confessed my crimes. That’s all.”
“I heard what you just did. You requested to be exiled.”
“Let’s keep that between us. I don’t want to ruin this party. (Pause) By the way, I’ve been a loser without goals all my life, so it does not matter how I live. However, why is a Noron from a well known family like you choosing to take this hard road?”
Jeonseok: “Not at all. Actually, I have chosen the easy road. I think that you, My Lord the Prince, did the same. Because it is much easier to fight injustice than to ignore it.”
Ahbong comes out, letting Jeonseok know it is his turn to throw the dice. The inspector asks the Prince to please join them at the game.
INSIDE THE HOUSE
Jeonseok: “His Lordship the Prince will join us. Give him a dice.”
Moonsoo gives him one, telling him that he proved himself worthy to be in the group.
Geum: “Should I thank you for that?”
Jeonseok tells him that he can start at the top since he won first place at the Civil Entrance Exam. Jangdal agrees, saying that although it was for someone else, he still aced it. Ahdong gives him another advantage for being a royalty. Yeoji thinks that’s unfair but everyone ignores her.
Geum: “You better watch out. I am good at playing games.”
The dice turned 3, and everyone’s stunned: “It’s a king!”
Geum: “That’s nonsense. There is no king in this board game.”
Ahbong: “We created that position just for fun.”
Jeonseok: “How irreverent! (To the Prince) They did it just for fun.”
Yeoji, stunned: “Yes, we created that position, but it was actually impossible to get there.”
Moonsoo: “Anyhow, since you got there, go ahead! Be our king! It’s just a game, isn’t it?” He puts the chip in the king’s position. “The king can do anything he wants. Just give us your decrees.”
Geum: “Okay… it’s just a game, right?” He promotes everyone to high government positions and they all laugh and have fun dreaming. “What do you think? Am I a good king?”
Moonsoo: “Your favors are inscrutable, Your Majesty!” They all laugh.
Geum: “The problem is… this king looks extremely too handsome, doesn’t he?
Moonsoo: “Arrest him!”
LORD MIN’S SECRET HOUSE
The Noron leaders are gathered to discuss what to do now that Prince Milpoong has been arrested. Dalmoon spies on them from outside.
Minister Min: “There was a nail that sprouted unexpectedly. However, we can adjust to the new situation and still come out as winners. Because we know how to win all the time.”
YI GEUM’S HOUSE
Hwon, waiting outside under the rain: “Brother Prince Yeoning.”
Once inside, Geum tells Jadong to bring change of clothes and hot drink for his brother. But Hwon apologizes for the late visit and tells the servant not to bother.
Hwon: “Hyungnim, please call off your request to be exiled. There is still time.”
Geum: “I will not. I will move to Tamra as planned.”
“Do you know why I requested to be exiled without hesitation? Because you will become the king. And once you become the king, you will not let personal feelings to interfere by calling me back. You will be that kind of king. Just like the way you treated me… You will embrace the lowest of people, those everyone else despises.”
“No, stop it.”
“Hwon… The people of this nation deserve to have such a king, for once. I also want to live in that kind of Joseon. (Holding his brother’s hand) So you shouldn’t look for me anymore. They will try to fight back for sure. Do not lose this fight.”
LORD MIN’S HIDEOUT
Lord Min gives some documents pertaining Inspector Han to Inspector Wi: “Can I trust that you would do a good job?” Wi Byungjoo promises he will succeed in destroying his colleague at all cost. He leaves.
Dalmoon appears suddenly. “Indeed, the entire Capital is in your hands, My Lord.” Minister Min has an assassin with him, an old man who has no feelings of pain. Dalmoon tells the Minister he knows all about them and that please, do not shed blood in vain.
He introduces himself as a beggar with power to spread rumors like a wildfire. He tells him that he was responsible for spreading the recent rumors regarding Prince Milpoong’s misadventures. He is offering his services to the Minister, in exchange for the Minister’s protection of his people.
AT A SMALL PORT
Geum scolds Moonsoo for coming late. Moonsoo is surprised to see Yeoji there.
Yeoji: “Did you get the message also, Sir?”
Geum: “Let’s hurry. We have a busy schedule today.”
Moonsoo: “Wait a minute. We need to clarify something here?”
“I am not your dog, My Lord the Prince. You can’t just call me with a piece of paper and tell me to go here and there. I need to study! I’m very busy…”
“Untie this rope and quit your studies. You will flop.”
“In life, there are people who fail no matter what they do. Not everyone can ace it taking a test thoughtlessly like I did.”
“Excuse me, My Lord the Prince. You should watch your mouth.”
“If you ever ask for it, I can substitute test for you.”
“Wow, are you trying to pick a fight? You think you can say anything just because you are a prince?”
Yeoji: “Stop whining and let’s go.”
Moonsoo: “You heard him, didn’t you? What a jerk.”
“He is rude and too straightforward. He thinks he is all that.”
Moonsoo: “He is, right?”
Yeoji: “Without thinking of the other’s feelings, he says things as they are, all the right things.”
Moonsoo: “That’s not what I mean.”
Yeoji: “However, I do not think he is a bad person. Just do as he says. He will leave soon.”
Moonsoo: “Where is he going?”
HOUSE OUTSIDE THE CITY
The King is being secretly escorted outside of the Palace. He meets an Uigeumbu officer who gives him confidential information about Prince Milpoong. Uigeumbu is another judiciary court which belongs to the king, while Saheonbu was supposed to be politically neutral (although they were run by Norons). The officer promises that their meeting will be kept a top secret.
LORD MIN’S HOUSE
The Uigeumbu’s officer is meeting Lord Min, updating him with his latest meeting with the king. He gives the Minister confidential information about Prince Yeoning. Lord Min assures the officer that he will not get hurt. He has found a beggar who will do a fine job at spreading information around.
Dalmoon instructs the troubadour to spread the stories everywhere. “Make them sound as filthy as you can.”
Goontae: “Are we finally going to be able to live comfortably, as you have always dreamt of?”
Dalmoon: “Yes. I don’t care what happens with the high and up. Their power struggle is none of my business.”
Geum is showing Moonsoo a land that belongs to Prince Milpoong. Moonsoo is flabbergasted by how huge it is. They go out to drink.
Moonsoo: “Do not splurge your money in wine. You need to save for your travel. (drinking, more seriously) Thank you, My Lord the Prince. Truly, you are the bravest man I’ve ever known.”
Geum: “What nonsense are you babbling? Just drink.”
“So I was thinking… Can we become sworn brothers?” Yi Geum spits the drink all over, shocked.
Moonsoo, sitting closer to the Prince: “At first, I misunderstood you. You looked like a playboy so I didn’t know you were a real man.”
“Hey you, get away. Go back to your seat.”
But Moonsoo, instead of stepping back, he starts searching for the Prince’s name tag. “How old are you? Show me your identity tag…”
Geum: “How dare you touch me?”
Moonsoo decides to add Yeoji in this brotherhood. “She is a man, after-all.” He decides to be generous with the Prince, and let him be the oldest, regardless of age. So from now on, he will call the Prince, Hyungnim. Yeoji will be the youngest. “Btw, where did you send our younger brother Yeoji?”
Yeoji is interviewing town’s people regarding Prince Yeoning’s reputation. They tell her he is a famous gambler and a womanizer. But an old man reminds them that he can be compassionate and generous to the people in need. In times of draught, he had sent lots of rice bag to the poor. “His mother was a commoner. That’s why he understands our plight like no other noble.”
OUTSKIRT OF THE FAR TOWN
They are interrupted by people running to hear great stories. It’s the troubadour, speaking of Prince Yeoning stealing money from civilians and from state coffers.
Moonsoo and Yi Geum hears people talking about the Prince stealing. They are surprised the rumors are spreading too fast and too far.
Yeoji (to Jeonseok): “Prince Yeoning expected this to happen. He felt the Norons will try to destroy his character and invalidate his testimony. He told me to plan ahead for it.”
OUT IN THE STREET
People continue talking about Prince Yeoning’s crimes. Yi Geum stumbles upon Minister Min on the street. The old man sends a message for a private meeting.
Yoonyeong visits Prince Milpoong inside the cell. He is happy to hear of the rumors spreading about Yi Geum. But he isn’t happy that they fed him vegetable soup when he asked for beef stew. Hearing this, Yoonyeong is alarmed. She remembers a saying: “Useless dogs will be starved.” Is Lord Min abandoning her Prince?
YI HWON’S HOUSE
Noron leaders led by the Prime Minister visit the Prince Yeonryeong late at night. He asks them what is the reason for their surprise visit. They all bow down to the Prince.
MINISTER MIN’S OFFICE
Lord Min welcomes Prince Yeoning inside his office. He tells Yi Geum that the Norons are ready to put Prince Yeonryeong to the throne.
Geum: “What about Prince Milpoong?”
Lord Min: “A cracked pot is useless. He will not become a king. We the Norons chose Prince Yeonryeong as the next king. However, in order for that to happen, there is something you must do, My Lord the Prince.”
“What is it? I will do whatever it takes.”
“You will do anything? Oh well, it’s not that big of a deal… just withdraw your previous testimony. You can say that you lied about the substitute test taking. Just say that it was Inspector Han who fabricated all that story.”
“What? Do you want me to withdraw my testimony and slander Inspector Han? Why? What for?” Standing up in anger. “No, I can’t do that. And I will not!” He turns around to leave.
“Then, will you abandon Prince Yeonryeong? What will happen to the Prince who was once considered for the throne but does not become the king? If you walk out now, Prince Yeonryeong will die.”
“Why? Why are you doing this? You already decided to abandon Prince Milpoong. Then why?”
The king has called Minister Lee Yikyum, Chief of Saheonbu, to come see him.
King: “I will share a secret with you that no one else should know.” He tells the Minister that he wants Prince Yeoning to be the next king. “Not Prince Yeonryeong, but Prince Yeoning. I believe he should be the king.”
Han Jeonseok sends Yeoji home for an errand. She finds Mrs. Han waiting for her outside the house, worried. She shows the Damo a box full of silver goods.
Yi Geum is aimlessly walking, recalling Minister Min’s last words: “This is how we win, Prince Yeoning. Can I tell you how we kept our power all along? We put fear in everyone’s hearts. If they hurt us, they must learn about the consequences. If the world sees that, no one will ever dare to stand up against us again. This is our way of winning, Prince Yeoning. We break their legs so they cannot stand up again.”
Yeoji finds him and calls out his name. He just stands there, holding his tears. He leans on Yeoji’s shoulder, silently crying.
I love stories of underdogs who triumph against all odds. Prince Yeoning is the epitome of an underdog. Having a mother from the lowest caste in Joseon society, in an era where family background determined one’s worth and destiny, he surely was not acknowledged as a true Prince by most of the upper class nobles and royal families. He himself did not believe he was a true Prince, so he lived a reckless life. Which in turn did not attract much respect from others. His own wife treated him with half contempt (although we can also argue that he was to blame for her treatment).
We see another example of this scornful treatment in the conversation Lord Min shared with Prince Yeonryeong while Prince Yeoning was being interrogated by the royal guard.
Lord Min: “You must be worried, My Lord (DAEGAM) the Prince. Prince Yeoning, who is close to you, humiliated His Lordship Prince Milpoong. There must be consequences to his actions.”
Hwon corrected him: “It is His Lordship Prince Yeoning! My brother is not just Prince Yeoning.” Lord Min rebuffed him, saying that Prince Yeonryeong should know who to bow down to at times, since a king needs his subjects. But this Prince cared not so much for sucking to the powerful.
This is one of the reasons I find Geum’s relationship with his younger brother all the more endearing. Their brotherly love transcended status and expectations from others. They sort of belonged to different societal status. But when they were together, they were true brothers. The younger brother used honorific speech towards him all the time, while Geum felt comfortable enough to use informal speech towards Hwon.
And as mentioned in the first random ranting, this brotherly love was powerful enough to change Geum. When he realized his brother’s throne (and life) was in danger, he starts coming out of his own self-denial, in order to help his brother. One of the things he does: exactly the opposite of what the horse trader Kaedol asks of him. Instead of hiding away till things quiet down, he sends Cho Hong to the market, to begin a chain of rumors that will turn the popular opinion about Prince Milpoong upside down.
And why does he go to Prince Milpoong’s house to thank him for the golden frog? In order to mock him, yes. But it is mostly to scare Tan, and to incite him to send his minions to the gravesite, “to hide the corpse away.” And so he follows, to another dangerous expedition, to catch the criminal.
Besides the younger brother though, there is someone else that unexpectedly causes the Prince to come out of his shell. It is his father’s calling.
This is a turning point in Prince Yeoning’s life. His father the king has called him secretly, telling him that his son has many attributes that will make of a good king, and to please let the world see them. To hear such words of praise in the midst of rebuke, hurts him and confuses him. But it is also a source of encouragement. He has always thought his father disapproved of him… And the saddest realization, that the king is dying. It felt like a last wish, an earnest petition for the Prince to turn his life around and start living a life worthy of a Prince.
It is after this meeting that he wrestles with himself. “Will I get drunk on wine… or on dreams?” As his servant Jadong well says, he is an idealist by nature. But being a half-blooded Prince, he knows he has no power to change the world. And yet, his own father the King is prompting him…
They say servants are similar to their masters. Jadong is another idealist who dares not to dream of a better world. I find his conversation with Prince Yeoning towards the end, quite intriguing. He is earnestly gazing at the Prince, calling him a dreamer. And yet, he asks him to please, let the dreams be just that: dreams. To never move forward lest he be disappointed. But to my ears, it feels like he is actually asking the Prince to do something.
I love superhero stories. Of people looking weak and foolish, hiding a secret identity, with a secret mission. I feel like Prince Yeoning is a bit like that here. Looking foolish, like an airhead being caught red-handed cheating on exams, stealing and making trouble in Prince Milpoong’s hunting trip. Giving unreasonable excuses to the royal guard about sexual orientation, playing the game of “I am a loser.” But going on a dangerous mission to uncover dark secrets about his murderous relative, in order to save his younger brother. And yes, meanwhile, he saves Yeoji’s life too… twice already. Not that he really cares for her that much at this point, but it is just the right thing to do: “to save a woman in distress.”
And that last scene, where he shows up suddenly to announce: “Oh My! How can this be? That so-called-witness… he’s here.” Why did I think of the hero from THE SCARLET PIMPERNELL? So clumsy looking, sounding almost drunk? A foolish looking man who sees and understands what is going on better than anyone else. A hero in disguise.
Geum: “Then let her go, she’s a girl. (Drinking tea, nonchalant.) Don’t you have any pride? How can you hurt a lady?”
“Fight me instead.”
Yeoji: “Excuse me. What’re you trying to do?”
Tan: “This is a girl? So are you trying to show off?”
Geum (Throwing the empty cup, he pulls out his bow and arrow): “Men are all the same. It’s my duty to protect a lady.”
Tan: “With just one bow? Do you think these men are just decoration?”
Geum (pointing at Tan): “I just need to hit one target.”
Yeoji: “Stay out of this. Are you so desperate to die together?”
Geum: “No way. We’re not in that kind of a relationship, are we?
Tan (nervously): “Are you mad? You’re not going to shoot, right?”
Geum: “I am.” He points the arrow upwards and shoots midair.
Tan (Hiding behind a man, screaming like a child. Then…): “He missed? You idiot, you scared me for nothing!”
Yeoji: “Are you out of your mind? You cannot even shoot an arrow. Then why would you…?”
Geum: “Hey there. Are you good at running?” Suddenly, there is a strange noise.
Man: “Why do I hear a strange noise?”
Tan: “What’s that noise? What?”
Voice screaming: “It’s a wild boar!”
Tan and his men are running away excitedly. The boar was hurt by Geum’s arrow and hits a tree.
Geum: “It’s a big one, isn’t it? Tan, your golden frog is mine!”
Tan: “You crazy bastard!” Tan and his men are trying to avoid the wild boar.
Geum, offering a hand to Yeoji: “Now, run!”
Yeoji (taking out Tan’s secret box): “Wait, I need to take this.” They run away together.
Tan: “Catch them. Get those bastards!”
Geum and Yeoji hide behind some trees.
Geum: “I’ll lure them away while you escape.”
Yeoji: “Are you telling me to escape by myself? Are you kidding?”
“I didn’t save you because you’re pretty. I am curious of what is inside that box. We both want the same thing. Let us meet at 9:30 pm at the Gisaeng’s House.”
“Can you handle them on your own? Is that ok?” She looks at Geum’s privates.
Geum (Defiantly): “Thanks to you, yes! You hit me so lightly.”
“I saw you limping while we were running.”
Geum (Annoyed): “I wasn’t!
“There’s no way you’d be ok after being hit by me.” She throws a stick at him. “Use this. And be there at 9:30 pm. I don’t want to be the only one who gets away safely from here.”
Geum calls the men out and starts running towards them. Yeoji runs towards the opposite direction.
Geum is fighting a dozen men by himself while Tan grabs a sword, ready to fight him. “Get out!” he yells.
The men stand back while Tan jumps in. Geum defends himself with his bow. Turning around, he pushes Tan’s sword away. Tan falls, nose-bleeding.
Voice: “My Lord the Prince!”
Geum (Holding his bow as a weapon against Tan): “Do you know what your problem is? You don’t get that you are a retard.”
Tan (Looking at the blood in his hand): “Prince Yeoning, how dare you make me nosebleed! To your future king!”
Royal Announcement: “His Majesty is here!”
Everyone bows down to the floor except the two princes. They look down in reverence to the king. Prince Yeonryeong and Minister Min are with the king’s procession.
Geum (weakly): “Your Majesty…”
King: “I heard I’d watch something interesting at this hunting trip. You were right, Lord Min. This is something I’ve never witnessed before.”
Lord Min: “I’m sure they have their reasons, Your Majesty.”
Tan: “Your Majesty, I can explain…”
King: “No, there’s no need for it. I could tell what happened. (Looking at Geum) It’s you again. Of course. It’s always you…”
Geum looks dejected. Yeoji watches the whole thing from afar.
AT A NOODLE SHOP
Moonsoo is telling Ahbong that the man who took the substitute test got the highest score in the Civil Exam. Moonsoo is shocked, wondering how a playboy looking man stinking to alcohol, and using an old brush could get first place in the exam.
Ahbong: “That means he has talents and looks. Maybe he is a lowlife? Why would a skilled man like him substitute test for someone else?”
Moonsoo: “This is so fishy! And on top of that, Ro Taepyung disappeared!”
Nearby, a man dressed like a commoner is having soup while the shop owner gives him some money. “This is for last month’s rent. Please, give me more time…”
Dalmoon: “If you give me all you have, how are you going to survive?” He only takes a little bit of that money and tips the man on where he can get better anchovies for the soup.
Soon after, overhearing Moonsoo and his friend’s conversation, he tells a subordinate to find out who they are.
The Prime Minister is summoned to Saheonbu for interrogation.
Minister Kim (looking a Jeonseok): “So you’re the one who dared to call me here?”
The leaders of Saheonbu are apologizing to the Minister and trying to make him comfortable, ignoring Inspector Han.
ROYAL INTERROGATION ROOM
A royal officer is questioning Geum for the hunting fiasco. Geum is telling him that he was bored and tired of playing with women. So, he tried dressing a girl into a man to calm his sexual orientation. “Is my orientation making you uncomfortable?” And he tells him that, if he cares for the royal family’s reputation, he better bury this incident.
When the king hears this report, he calls his son a total loser.
OUTSIDE OF ROYAL INTERROGATION ROOM
Lord Min (to Hwon): “My Lord the Prince, are you waiting for Prince Yeoning?”
Hwon: “Minister of Personnel.”
Lord Min: “You must be worried, My Lord the Prince. Prince Yeoning, who is close to you, humiliated His Lordship Prince Milpoong. There must be consequences to his actions.”
Soon after, a man is arguing with Lord Min just as Geum walks towards them: “What you’re saying is ridiculous! How dare you insinuate My Lord the Prince was trying to harm Prince Milpoong through Prince Yeoning?”
Hwon: “Lower your voice my Lord, we are inside of the Palace. (to Lord Min) Do not use today’s incident as an excuse for political strife. One more thing: It is His Lordship Prince Yeoning! My brother is not just Prince Yeoning.”
Lord Min: “Indeed, you are too considerate towards others. This has always been a source of disappointment for me.”
“Your disappointment is none of my concern.”
“Since we speak different languages, we cannot work together. A king never works alone, I must say…” Bowing to the Prince, the old Minister walks away, followed by his party men.
Hwon (looking at Geum): “Hyungnim…”
Geum (informally) “I’ve been a troublemaker all my life. But now, you are being falsely accused because of me. I am sorry.”
Hwon (formally): “It wasn’t your fault. Don’t worry about it.”
“You should learn to blame others sometimes. That is politics. You have no political skills. (Hwon just smiles) Minister of Personnel Min Jinwon… why don’t you work together with him?”
“Hwon, politics is a numbers game. In the end the stronger…”
“That is not right. We have a Crown Prince.”
“You know he will be replaced. If you lose this fight, the only thing that remains for you is… death.”
“Even so, I cannot hold hands with those Norons who are ignoring royal decrees and looking only after their party’s gain.”
Geum: “I knew it… That is how you are. (pause) Tan’s Death Journal. You have heard of it too, haven’t you? They say Tan is going around killing people.”
“How did you know that?”
“Perhaps… I may be able to expose Tan’s weaknesses. I might be able to do something useful after all.”
Yeoji unlocks the box and is disappointed to find just dried leaves and flowers inside. She curses at herself for having risked her life for just that. Inspector Han comforts her telling her that she could not find the Death Journal because surely, it was not there.
Yeoji goes outside ready to punch someone. Ahbong apologizes to her for bothering but he has a request. Can she help Sir Moonsoo look for a man who took a substitute test during Civil Entrance Exam?
Yeoji: “What for?”
Ahbong: “You know how busybody Sir Moonsoo is.” (He shows Yeoji the drawing of Yi Geum).
“What? Are you sure it’s him?”
“According to Sir Moonsoo, his name is Ro Taepyung.”
Yeoji recognizes that name as the uncle of the murdered victims so she demands to see Sir Moonsoo right away.
Yi Geum is reflecting on the King’s words of disapproval to him, with heavy shoulders.
Yeoji: “You really made it here alive.”
Geum: “You too, I see that you are a thief that keeps her promise.”
INSIDE A ROOM
Geum (opening the box): “Flowers?”
Yeoji: “I’m not trying to fool you. I know it’s hard to believe…”
“Actually, I believe it. He is a total nut case.”
“You must know him well.”
“You must have been greatly disappointed.”
“We cannot always win. By the way… What is your name? What do you do? Seeing that you got out of that mess unscathed, you must have quite a title.”
“Do you want to exchange names? Of course, you may want to know who this handsome man is, but I refuse. Neither will I ask who you are.”
“I’m Chun Yeoji. Not a thief, but an assistant Damo from Saheonbu.”
“And most probably… you are Prince Yeoning? (speaking formally for the first time) You are His Majesty’s 2nd son, My Lord Prince Yeoning, aren’t You?
“You are quite bold. But since we finished with our business, let us part.”
As Guem is leaving the Gisaeng’s House, Moonsoo stands in his way, yelling.
Moonsoo: “Where are you going, Mr. 52-year-old Roh Taepyung? I finally found you, you rat! Thank you Yeoji! You are the man!”
PRIME MINISTER’S HOUSE
Minister Min is greeted by Yoonyoung (Prince Milpoong’s lover) and she asks him to be nice to her Prince, since he is like a child, overly sensitive. He in turn warns her that even if Prince Milpoong becomes king, there is no way a prostitute would become his Queen.
INSIDE A ROOM
Tan is breaking everything in rage while all the Noron Ministers watches, unable to intervene. Minister Min walks inside.
Tan: “Prince Yeoning is set free! Can’t you even take care of that?!”
Lord Min: “It is the royal family’s business. It is better to look over this.”
“Better? For whom?” Grabbing a porcelain cup in defiance, “He insulted me. What did any of you do? What is the use of all these things here? Wait and see. When I become the king… Do you think that Prince Yeonryeong will be the only one I’d kill? I will wipe out every useless being!” Lord Min slaps him and he falls hard on the floor.
Lord Min: “I’ll have a serious talk with Prince Milpoong. Please, wait outside.”
Continuing, “Did you know how the present king ruled? With the pretext of restoring order, he replaced the governing rulers every year. He destroyed much of the nobility to centralize his power. No such king should come to power again. Such a person must never be a king. And never again… look down on us the Norons!” Tan nods in agreement, shaken.
Moonsoo is grabbing Geum’s neck, ready to hit.
Geum: “Why don’t we just talk? Losing your temper makes you look ignorant.”
Moonsoo (pushing Geum): “Heaven and earth knows I am ignorant. But now everyone will know of your misdeeds, you bastard!”
Yeoji: “Go easy on him, and do not curse, please.”
Moonsoo: “What are you talking about? I’m barely holding onto my desire to punch him with my self-control.”
Yeoji (speaking formally): “How do you know Roh Tae Pyung? Why did you take a substitute test for him?”
Geum: “Roh Taepyung? Substitute test? I’m quite smart, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Moonsoo (grabbing Geum’s neck again): “I knew it! He is pretending ignorance. You son of a *b*… I saw you at the civil exam with my own eyes.”
Yeoji (to Moonsoo): “You will get in trouble. I told you to take it easy on him.”
Moonsoo: “This isn’t working. A man like him needs a good beating to get him to confess.” He is looking for some logs to beat up the Prince.
Yeoji: “Roh Taepyung is the uncle of Yoon Yoouk who died last month. My Lord the Prince… that woman was raped by Prince Milpoong, whom you know well.”
Geum: “Prince Milpoong raped someone?”
Moonsoo: “What did you call that bastard?”
Yeoji: “Yoon Yoouk apparently killed herself. But at Saheonbu, we consider this a murder case linked to Prince Milpoong.”
Moonsoo: “Yeoji, don’t you hear me? What did you call that jerk? My Lord the Prince?”
Yeoji: “Please answer me, My Lord the Prince. How do you know Roh Taepyung? Where is he now?”
Moonsoo: “No way…”
Geum (to Moonsoo): “That’s right, I’m a Prince.”
Geum: “So you should know that people like you have no rights to question anything I do.” Moonsoo is in shock. “Likewise, if what she says is true, a substitute test can be easily covered. The royalty is particularly good at these things. Now that you know, I want you to leave me alone. I will forgive today’s indecency magnanimously.” He leaves.
Yeoji: “He can escape because he is a Prince? *curse country*”
Moonsoo: “Is he really a Prince? That Playboy looking?”
“He’s Prince Yeoning, the king’s second son.”
“Why are you telling me this now, you should have told me before.”
“I did. Not to curse, and to go easy on him.”
“You should have been more direct. To be careful because that son of a *b* is a Prince.”
“I’m sure he knows something. Why is he digging up Prince’s Milpoong’s secrets?”
“I am forever doomed now! I didn’t even pass the civil exam but the road to success is already blocked.”
King Sukjong is drinking his medicine while Minister Min stands by.
Lord Min Jinwon: “You have been taking your medicine more frequently lately.”
King: “I saw you gloating inside. This so-called king will die soon.”
“That’s not true, Your Majesty.”
“Will Prince Milpoong be suitable to be a king despite his wild temper?”
“Kings are also human. It’s natural for a king to have flaws.”
“It sounds to me that you don’t care if a scandalmonger gets in the throne, as long as the Norons get the upper-hand.”
“A good man doesn’t always make a good king. Did you have bad intentions when you put all those people to death?”
“They were necessary evil. To bring stability to the nation.”
“Or your way to get back at those who went against you. I trust Prince Milpoong will govern wisely if we advise him properly.”
“You are set on supporting Prince Milpoong. I am aware of the rumors about Tan’s Death Journal; that Prince Milpoong goes around killing people.”
Lord Min: “Nothing’s been confirmed. What evidence do you have?”
INSIDE AN OLD STABLE
Prince Milpoong is beating up Kaedol for letting his substitute test taker to get the highest score. Kaedol complains that he just followed instructions, but Tan tells him that, as situation changed, he should have been flexible and adjusted accordingly.
They are surrounded with his minions, and Dalmoon is waiting on Kaedol. Tan orders Kaedol to bring him the head of the substitute test taker by tonight. He wants to get rid of all witnesses.
Once outside, one of his men tells him that if Ro Tapyung, who won first place, doesn’t show up at the initiation, there will be lots of talk. Tan kicks him for ‘teaching him what he already knows,’ and he blames this man for not stopping him from killing the old man. “Roh Taepyung, that scumbag. I helped him pass the civil exam. Why did he ask for money and made me mad, ruining everything? (worried) Minister Min told me not to get into any more trouble.”
OUTSIDE GEUM’S HOUSE
Jadong informs Geum that Roh Taepyung did not show up at the initiation ceremony and it made a big conmotion. Geum is putting all the puzzles together.
Jadong: “What’s going on, My Lord the Prince? You aren’t doing anything dangerous, are you?”
Geum: “I will tell you later. Right now, I want you to…”
Suddenly, Moonsoo shows up, greeting him loudly. “Wow, this is a huge house. You truly are a Royalty.”
Yeoji updates her latest findings to Inspector Han and Company. She thinks Prince Yeoning may be the key to unravel the truth.
Jeonseok: “Those aren’t enough reasons for us to investigate Prince Yeoning.”
Yeoji: “That’s why Sir Moonsoo is on the move.”
ON THE STREETS
Moonsoo: “If I had known that you’re a Lord Prince, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time.”
Geum: “If you want to apologize for yesterday, forget it. I won’t make a big fuzz of it.”
“Why should I apologize. It’s someone else who committed a crime.”
“I must make a big fuzz over you, My Lord the Prince.”
Geum (sigh): “Until when do you plan to follow me?”
“Till the truth gets revealed and justice flows like a river!”
“You could spend your time more wisely.”
“What do you mean? Is there any worthier endeavor than this? Think about it. You would have been arrested have you been an ordinary man. But someone is getting away due to royal privileges. Life shouldn’t be this unfair.”
“You’re so short-sighted. That’s the reality.”
“My Lord the Prince may think so since you’re very high-up in society. But that is not how I think. Those who sin should be punished accordingly, whoever that is.”
“You’re not too smart, and obstinate as a mule. On top of that, you are reckless. In many ways, you are an interesting personality. But I disagree with you. You will now learn how life is full of inequalities.” (He hops unto his horse)
“My Lord the Prince!”
“If you wish to follow me, go ahaed.” He rides away.
Moonsoo tries to buy a horse but the only one he can afford is a donkey.
INSIDE A ROOM
Geum: “Prince Milpoong ordered you to kill me?”
Kaedol: “How would he know that you are the substitute test taker, My Lord the Prince? He thinks you’re an ordinary man.”
“How about Roh Taepyung. I heard he disappeared. Did Prince Milpoong kill him also?”
“Don’t ask me questions! I do not wish to know! Please, hide away for a little while. I’ll find you a ship that leaves today.”
“I’ll hand him the head of a dead beggar. Please, do as I say. Until things quite down.”
Geum (sparkle in his eyes): “Will things quite down?” Not if he can help it.
The street troubadour finishes telling his stories. He dismisses the crowd. Cho Hong shows up and whispers to him “the most interesting story he’s ever heard.”
Geum: “Did you tell him the story?”
Cho Hong: “Exactly as you told me. He looked so scared; his jaw dropped.”
BEGGAR’S HIDE OUT
Dalmoon, the leader of beggars and street merchants, reads the stories written on the pamphlets. “A woman gave this to you?”
Troubadour: “Yes, I’ve never seen her before. We should ignore this, shouldn’t we? We might get in big trouble…”
Dalmoon: “No, tell the entire story. With all the details. I will help you flee the city in case there’s trouble. Tell this at the marketplace, at the well side, at the washing river, at the port… Make everyone talk about this.”
Next day, the troubadour tells the story of the young widow who got impregnated, whom a prince killed to stop the scandal. She had an uncle who recently passed the Civil Entrance Exam in first place. But he too was killed by the prince. That is why he did not show up at the Initiation Ceremony.
Everyone’s talking about this story and saying that if Prince Milpoong really goes around murdering people, he shouldn’t be the next king.
Lord Min walks inside in anger. “Tell Prince Milpoong I need to see him!”
King Sukjong is reading a report. He orders to have a thorough investigation. “And tell Prince Yeoning to come see me.”
Officer: “Yes? Not Prince Yeonryeong, but Prince Yeoning?”
King: “Yes, Prince Yeoning. Geum.”
OUTSIDE TAN’S HOUSE
Geum thanks Tan for the ‘beautiful’ golden frog. “I will use it well when I play around.”
Tan: “And do you call yourself a prince? You are a shame to the royal family.”
Geum: “What are you talking about? Lately, there is another prince who is more popular: You. Have you heard of the rumors spreading in the marketplace? That is your story, isn’t it”
“What are you babbling about?”
Geum (coming closer): “Did you get rid of the body properly? Be careful, Tan. If the body is found, instead of to the throne… you will go to the execution site.”
Tan (pointing a knife at Geum’s neck): “Stop barking nonsense. What is up with you? Everyone trembles in front of me, but how dare you insult me like this?”
“I have nothing to lose. Plus, you are an idiot.”
“If I become the king, you’ll be the first I will tear to pieces.”
Geum: “OMG, I’m so scared!” (twisting Tan’s wrist) “I will look forward to such a day.”
Tan: “You son of a *b*!”
Yeoji is informing the inspectors how the rumour is spreading fast and far.
Jeonseok: “Sounds like Prince Milpoong’s story.”
Yeoji: “There is more to it. It says Roh Taepyung is dead.”
Ahbong: “Is he really dead?”
Yeoji: “Knowing Prince Milpoong, it is quite possible.”
Jeonseok: “Then, we should find the body.”
Inspector Han’s wife and son walk inside, telling them to have dinner and call it a day. Yeoji is gardening as per Inspector Han’s wife’s instructions. Yeoji is thinking out-loud, wondering where she could find Roh Taepyung’s body. The flowers overflow with too much water. She looks at the flowers, startled. A thought flashes in her mind.
She rushes inside to opens Tan’s secret box, looking at all the dried leaves and flowers. “This crazy bastard Prince Milpoong! These were the trophies he kept after each murder. That’s why he collected them.” She feels one leaf is still a little humid. “Could it be…”
OUT IN THE DARK FOREST
Geum is chasing a group of men, hiding behind. His bow set hits a tree and falls. The men turn around, checking where the noise came from. Geum tries to reach for his bow but it’s out of reach. We hear a howling sound.
Man: “Let’s go. We don’t have time.”
After breathing deeply in relief, Geum looks for his bow but it disappeared. Moonsoo jumps in.
Geum: “You startled me!”
Moonsoo: “Were you looking for this? I am good at making animal noises. (Howling) Sounds the same, right?”
“How did you get here?”
“You told me to follow you if I wished. I am competitive, you know. Looks like I won this time, so tell me now. What are you doing? Why are you chasing those men?”
“Continue following me if you want. Then maybe you’ll find what you’ve been earnestly searching.”
Man: “Hurry. We must finish before daybreak.”
Moonsoo: “What are they? Why are they digging this late at night?”
Geum: “I think they’re transferring a corpse.”
“Corpse? Roh… Roh Taepyung?!”
“Can you move away from me? And lower your voice?”
Moonsoo (whispering): “Are you talking about Roh-Tae-pyung?”
“Are you nuts? Why are you blowing into my ear?”
“You told me to lower my voice. You’re really weird.”
Geum: “Wait. What’s that?”
They see a torchlight coming towards the men. The men hide. It is Yeoji, checking a tree with leaves similar to the one she found inside the box. She starts digging with her hands. One man is about to swing a sword towards Yeoji from behind her. Geum shoots an arrow hitting the man. He screams.
Yeoji is surrounded by the men. They start fighting. Moonsoo joins her. Geum shoots arrows from far behind, slowly but concisely. “He struck the target in this dark?” Moonsoo is shocked.
The men retreat. Yeoji stoops down and continues digging with her hands. They see a face of a dead man. Moonsoo wants to vomit seeing the face. Yeoji finds a name tag: Roh Taepyung.
Geum is calling out Jadong’s name, with urgency. He sees the Royal Secretary waiting for him in his house and he stands still.
A DARK ROOM
Lord Min is telling Inspector Wi to prove to the Norons how capable he is.
LADY CHOI’S OLD QUARTERS
Geum bows to the King.
King: “Seeing how late you are, you must have gone on another drinking errand. You know where we are standing, don’t you?”
Geum: “I have never expected you to summon me here, Your Majesty.”
“Did I hurt your feelings for calling you to your late mother’s Chambers?”
“You did not cry. When you were born here, seeing that you did not cry, your mother and the royal physician turned pale in fear. But I thought then that it might be better if you died. Or if you were born as a princess. How can a prince born of a lowly maid live to the fullest? Who in the world would treat you as a real prince?”
Geum (angrily): “What do you want to hear from me? Forgive me for not dying on that day? Or…”
King: “Are you satisfied now? For destroying yourself as I had feared. Are you happy now? You could have lived differently. Even if there’s low-born blood flowing in half your veins, you could have lived the way you really wanted. But why are you wasting your life away? Is this the only way you could live?”
“It’s because I am smart. Why do I live like this? Yes… (raising his voice) I am so very smart, this is the only way I could live, Your Majesty! Even if I want to do something, there is nothing I can do. I rather fool around and be a troublemaker.”
King: “That’s right. That is how you were, Prince Yeoning. You were bright and intuitive. That is why it hurt me more. Every time I saw a king’s treat in you…”
Geum (holding his tears): “Why are you doing this? If you’re saying this because of my irreverent joke…”
“I will die soon, Prince Yeoning. Before I die, can’t you show the world the good treats I saw in you? Can you restrain yourself and show the world the honorable person you can be?”
As he walks home, Yi Geum recalls the king’s words: “That’s why it hurt me more. Every time I found a king’s treat in you… I will die soon, Prince Yeoning.”
Geum finds Yeoji, Moonsoo and Inspector Han waiting for him. Han Jeonseok requests that Prince Yeoning testify that he was the substitute exam taker for Roh Tae Pyung, at the instructions of Prince Milpoong. That is the only way Saheonbu can summon Yi Tan.
Geum: “What if I can’t testify? What will you do?”
Jeonseok: “Didn’t you dig into Prince Milpoong’s doings because you know of his crimes? That person might become the next king.”
“What’s that to me? You are so naive… Why would I testify? If I do that, my crimes will be revealed also.”
“Then why did you…?”
“Why did I get myself involved? Because I was bored. I wanted to have some fun scaring Prince Milpoong, that’s all.”
Jeonseok and Co. are unceremoniously escorted outside of the house. Moonsoo (yelling towards the door): “My Prince the Lord! Please come out. How could you do this? Why are you taking your hands off this now?”
Yeoji: “Don’t bother with him. Let’s do it on our own. Let’s go.”
Moonsoo: “And I have thought you were a real man. But you are all the same, sticking to your own kind. The cows will yawn, and the dogs will laugh.” He spits to the ground.
Geum: “What kind of man is Han Jeonseok?”
Jadong: “I found out he’s a brave and loyal Inspector at Saheonbu. He’s a Noron but he keeps his distance with the leaders of Saheonbu.”
“But he’s just an idealist. The Noron’s overtook Saheonbu. He has no power to do anything there by himself.”
Jadong: “There is someone else…”
“Who? This lowly and powerless Prince? You… are still such a dreamer.”
“And I hope that you, My Lord the Prince, will continue just dreaming without going any further. I don’t want you to get disheartened like me, by unrealistic ideals that can never be fulfilled.”
Inspector Wi is promoted to the post of Saheonbu’s Team Leader. He suggests to the Noron Chiefs that they must open a Supreme Court Case and put Inspector Han in charge. Han Jeonseok must then show proof of Prince Milpoong’s guilt in front of everyone. If he does not have proof, we can charge him of slander.
Inspector Han is discussing with other Saheonbu inspectors. They tell him it may be too risky for him. But he’s willing to go all in.
Cho Hong sits next to Geum’s small drinking table. “You didn’t drink at all? Didn’t you want to get yourself drunk?”
Geum: “Should I get myself drunk on wine… or on dreams? I’m still undecided.”
Cho Hong (pouring wine): “Here, make up your mind soon. And have fun. Like you’re used to.”
Geum, grabbing the cup, he puts it in his mouth. He stops. He recalls his father’s prompting: “Can you restrain yourself and show the world the honorable person you can be?”
SAHEONBU OPEN COURT
Jeonseok is explaining everything Prince Milpoong is accused of. Saheonbu leaders is asking him to show them proof. Jeonseok tells them there is a witness, a man who took a substitute test in Roh Taepyung’s place. When the leaders demand to know who this witness is, the inspector tells them the identities of witnesses should be protected by law.
Jeonseok: “Don’t you all know that Prince Milpoong is a criminal? There was a time when people called Saheonbu Inspectors, Haechi. They believed we were impartial and just, no matter who we were dealing with. But look at yourselves now. You only care for personal gains, hiding the truth. A poor citizen died at the hands of a powerful man. People still look up to us, desperately hoping we will fight for their rights. Can we stand up for what is right?”
Chief Lee: “Stop insulting Saheonbu. You are plotting to bring Prince Milpoong down. If not, bring me the witness. Then, I will let you take on Prince Milpoong. Where is that so-called witness you are talking about? Answer me!”
Other leader: “There is no need to continue listening. If you cannot reveal the witness, this is a false accusation. We must punish Inspector Han for libel!”
The door opens abruptly.
Geum (lazily): “Oh My! How can this be? That so-called witness… is here.”
When I first watched this drama, I was just happy to see Jung Ilwoo on screen. And what better character than an underdog Prince who becomes one of the greatest kings of Korea?
In the eyes of Cho Hong, the lowly Prince’s traveling companion: Who is this mysterious man? He had a naughty smile but he was handsome and charming. He was wealthy, but he seemed so careless about his fortunes. What impressed Cho Hong the most was the fact that this gentry man was treating her as a human being. She was so used to people looking down on her, or ignoring her own existence.
Later on, when she found out he was a Prince, she put the puzzles together. He was the famous Prince, whose mother was a Chunmin (commoner). He was an outcast among the nobles, and he didn’t belong with the commoners either. Maybe she can be his friend, and maybe… she will be able to comfort him.
I really liked his relationship with his younger brother Yi Hwon, Prince Yeonryeong.
I took special notice at the fact that Hwon always spoke formally (respectfully) to his older brother, while Geum talked to the younger brother informally. This was significant for me because you are not allowed to speak informally to your superiors, especially among royalty. Among brothers though, the older can talk down to the younger.
The complicated thing was that these two Princes didn’t belong to the same class. According to Tan, Hwon was a real Prince while Geum was an outcast. This should have been shown in their interactions with each other. Instead, I saw Geum being very comfortable talking down to the “real” Prince Hwon, while the later spoke respectfully and affectionately to his Hyungnim (older brother). The affection was mutual though. Let the world scorn their brotherhood all they want! They seemed ready to fight and defend each other.
By the same token Geum, who was older than Tan, always talked informally to Tan. Tan also talked to Geum respectfully~ at first. But you can see Prince Milpoong was biting his tongue while calling him “Hyungnim.” Tan’s speech would change from formal to informal, to cursing and yelling at Geum.
Speaking of people looking down on Prince Yeoning. When the Soron leaders came running to have an urgent meeting with Prince Yeonryeong, no one paid attention to the Prince’s older brother, the royal outcast, who was silently standing there. Only Hwon acknowledged his presence, and felt his deep concern. And Geum nodded: “Don’t mind me. Go ahead.”
Something must have cracked then. Geum looked up at the sky, at the change of direction in the air. Prince Milpoong was getting closer to the throne. This meant that his dear brother Hwon may lose this race to the throne; and if the mad Prince wins: Hwon will surely die. Geum had lived all his life outside of politics and staying low profile. He felt he was nobody, with no goal in life. But seeing the one person he cares be in danger, he decides to do something… Thus, he goes to the hunting tournament. “To catch the crazy bastard.”
Jadong, Geum’s faithful servant, noticed this change in his Prince. He asked why he was doing that, and he knew… because of Prince Yeonrgyeong. He also knew that no matter what the reasons are, it was a dangerous change.
Let me go off at a tangent and write a little TRIVIA. Jung Ilwoo played the character of Prince Yangmyung in THE MOON EMBRACING THE SUN. He was the illegitimate son of the late king and older half brother to the present King, “Yi Hwon” (played by Kim Soohyun). Their relationship was similar to Yi Geum and Yi Hwon’s in HAECHI, they both loved and respected each other (except that they loved the same woman, that is).
How did they spoke to each other? Prince Yangmyung spoke formally to the King. Of course! And the King? He too spoke respectfully to his older brother.
This made me wonder. If things happened the way Yi Geum wanted, and Yi Hwon became king. Would Geum change to formal way of speech? I most definitely think so. So my ranting didn’t go anywhere. LOL!
King Hwon with Prince Yangmyung in Moon Embracing the Sun:
It was the year 1719. King Sukjong was dying but he tried to keep this a secret. His first born and heir, Crown Prince Hwiso, was unable to conceive, so the political leaders were looking for another successor to the throne. There was lots of infighting among different factions.
The strongest party (Norons) led by Minister of Personnel Min Jinwon, supported Prince Milpoong, great grandson of Crown Prince Sohyon. The Sorons supported Prince Yeonryeong, 3rd son of the king. Only the small Namin faction supported the Crown Prince.
Outside of the Palace, there were rumors of rape and murder involving Prince Milpoong. Minister Min meets Inspector Wi Byungjoo and explains that life is a power game. Although the inspector entered Saheonbu, a powerful judiciary court, on top of his class, he has no chance to get promoted because he is a Namin. That is, unless he helps the Minister, and stops a few idealistic colleagues from digging deeper into a murder case. He calls them fool. Because Haechi, the statue guarding the doors of saheonbu, is a legend. True justice is just a dream.
On a rainy day just outside of Saheonbu, many inspectors led by Han Jeonseock, are gathered to unravel the truth, even if that meant going against Saheonbu Chief, Lord Lee Imyung’s orders.
THE LOWLY PRINCE
A young man ( Jung Il Woo) wakes and after dressing himself up, watches the horizon as the boat is about to arrive in Hanyang. Cho Hong is still wondering who this mysterious man is. “Are you a merchant? The son of a wealthy man?” He tells her that he is the most useless person in the Palace. And he gives her his home address where she should take his belongings. She is shocked. “Your home? I am only a street prostitute. Not even a Gisaeng. People might get scandalized seeing you with someone like me.”
“Don’t worry,” he tells her with a crooked smile. “I am an expert in causing scandals.”
Next scene, he is riding a horse and feeling like the wind. He tells Kaedol, the horse merchant, he is quite impressed. “This is worth more than a fortune.”
“You can keep the horse if you can save me. I need someone to substitute test and take the Civil Entrance Exam. No nobleman is willing to take the risk.”
“Of course, and I am a loser anyways, right?”
“I didn’t mean that. But I do trust your ability.”
“But why did you get yourself involved in this?”
“They forced me…”
This is how Yi Geum, Prince Yeoning, decides to substitute test for someone he does not even know. Maybe it was the beautiful horse that did the trick. Or the thrill of doing forbidden things. And why not? Maybe he really was curious to find out how well he will do taking that test.
SAHEONBU is in uproar. The foolish dreamers, Inspector Han Jeonseok and Co., are getting closer to the truth but the Saheonbu Chief and other Noron leaders are blocking them. Some Inspector colleagues too are against continuing the investigation. Inspector Han gets demoted as a result.
CIVIL ENTRANCE EXAM
Yi Geum looks at the old brush and gets irritated.
Enters Park Moonsoo and seats next to the Prince. He friendly talks to Geum, telling him his skin looks flaky. “Did you stay up all night worrying?”
Geum: “Who, me? For your information, my skin is never flaky.”
“Oh My! What’s that smell? Did you drink? Why do you give up so soon?”
“Mind your own business. Some people fail since the day they are born.”
“You failed many times, I see. That’s why you look so rotten.”
“Whatever you say.”
So saying, ignoring the annoyed look from his neighbor, Park Moonsoo gives him a new brush as consolation and encouragement. And he introduces himself.
After they finished the test, Moonsoo notices that his neighbor writes he is 52-year-old Roh Taepyung. So he calls him out, accusing him of substituting for someone else. Geum pushes him and runs away.
The dog chasing the cat starts, all around Hanyang. Yi Geum stops by the horse to whisper “I’ll be back.” And instead of riding on it, he runs by foot. Is he having too much fun or what?
At one time during the chase, Moonsoo takes a long arrow and throws it at him, barely missing. The naughty Geum’s face drops, a twinkle of anger in his eyes. “This jerk! He almost killed me!”
Suddenly, the proclamation is heard:
“Make way, make way! Bow down to Our Lord the Prince Yeonryeong!”
Everyone freezes, bowing down to the ground. That is, everyone except Yi Geum, whose eyes meet with the 3rd son of the king, Yi Hwon’s. Then, without hesitation, Geum runs away. Park Moonsoo is shocked. “Is he crazy? How can he dare to move when the Prince is passing by?”
Yi Geum stops running in a deserted street, panting. He hears footsteps.
Geum, speaking informally: “I told you to ignore me, like everyone does. Why do you even bother with me?”
Hwon, speaking formally: “You are the same old troublemaker, my dear brother Prince Yeoning.” A subtle smile shows in Geum’s face.
AT THE PALACE COURT. QUEEN INWON’S BIRTHDAY
Yi Tan, Prince Milpoong, is sword dancing with fanfare, loudly proclaiming he had coordinated the dance all by himself.
The Queen is not impressed, rather irritated. “Don’t you see that people are very tired watching?”
Tan changes the subject. “I see our Crown Prince is missing. He’s been resting so often lately I worry how he will take care of the State Affairs.”
Queen: “His Majesty and the Royal Family will handle the State Affairs.” She adds, “It’s none of your business.”
Yi Hwon enters the Palace Court. “I’m sorry I’m late Queen Mother.”
Queen Inwon’s face lit up. “Prince Yeonryeong! Welcome. What took you so long?”
Hwon: “I met someone special and brought him along. It’s your birthday so all the family members should be here.”
Queen is looking around smiling. “I think everyone’s here? Who do you mean?” The door opens.
Tan: “No way… Prince Yeoning?”
People start muttering: “How dare he come here? Is he saying he’s of royal blood too?”
Geum, bowing stoically: “Greetings, Your Majesty the Queen. How have you been?”
Queen, looking uncomfortable: “I have been well, thank you. I am surprised to see you here.”
OUTSIDE OF THE COURTYARD
Prince Milpoong is beating up a dancer who messed up during the performance. He calls him disrespectful and a loser.
“I am a Prince. And the next king. How can you hurt my performance?” He swings a sword. “Do you think I cannot kill you in the Palace?” The dancer begs him to forgive him. “I own everything here anyways.”
Geum, informally: “Lo and behold, you still can’t stop bullying people! You’ll get yourself in trouble. The guards are around the corner. You’ll get caught if you’re not careful.”
Tan tells his guards to take the dancer away. To Geum, speaking formally: “Please, pretend this never happened, Prince Yeoning.” Pause. “Hyungnim (old brother).”
Geum, scornfully, speaking informally: “You’re really funny, you know? Listen to yourself! Calling me Hyungnim!”
Tan, formally but defiantly: “You’re funny too. You, showing up to this type of gathering? What’s up in your sleeve? Are you siding with Prince Yeonryeong?”
Geum: “I don’t care what happens in the Palace. So stop worrying about me.”
Tan: “It’s not that you don’t care. You’re just not qualified. Your mother was a lowborn. That’s why everyone’s uncomfortable around you. A Prince with plebeian blood, ha! You must be embarrassed, aren’t you?”
He continues, “Why do you hang out with Prince Yeonryeong? You’re both sons of the King. But one is a prince, the other is a pariah. Don’t you have any pride?”
Geum regains his composure. Sarcastically: “Since we are speaking of blood, stop calling me brother. You are not even a king’s son. What do you call that? A half-blood?”
Tan, pridefully: “I am the direct descendant of Crown Prince Sohyon. The throne was originally my father’s and mine!”
Geum, scornfully: “Stop whining. Whoever takes it, keeps it.” Looking closer at Tan, whispering: “I heard the Prime Minister is being investigated. It’s because of you, isn’t it? It’s pretty obvious. You got yourself in trouble and the Norons are trying to hide your crimes. Why? Did anyone find out you killed someone?”
Tan, informally: “Shut your mouth, you bastard.”
Geum, disdainfully: “You, king? The next heir to the throne is Prince Yeonryeong. So don’t waste your energy. He’s a nice guy so he will let you live. So don’t sweat it!”
Geum is walking away but Tan swings the sword at Geum’s neck, shouting in anger. Geum turns around, amused. “Take this sword away. You’ll get hurt too.”
A guard comes running to Yi Tan. “My Lord the Prince, His Majesty has an announcement for you.”
A century ago, Prince Milpoong’s great grandmother, Concubine Kang, had been condemned for treason. But now King Sukjong is clearing her name out, making the Prince eligible for the throne.
Yi Tan bows down on his knees, thanking the king.
At the Crown Prince’s quarters, the Prince’s wife is crying sadly.
Queen Inwon inquires to the king. “Have you abandoned the Crown Prince? Are you really replacing him with Prince Milpoong?”
The king tells her he cannot allow the political alliances to crumble. Is he trying to prevent bloodshed? The Queen looks very concerned.
Hwon is looking discouraged, surrounded by his supporters. Geum tries to comfort him, but can’t find words. They just sadly stare at each other. More Soron leaders join them: “Lord Prince Yeonryeong!”
Across from them, the Norons are congratulating their Prince, looking down at the other group.
Tan: “This was meant to happen. The rightful kingship is finally being restored.”
The Soron leader is asking Prince Yeonryeong for an emergency meeting to discuss the new situation. Hwon silently looks at Geum who tells him: “Don’t mind me. Go ahaed.”
Geum is left alone, looking up at the sky. He is wondering what the new change of direction in the wind is bringing.
AT GEUM’S HOUSE
Geum arrives really late to find out his wife is yelling at Cho Hong, calling her a filthy lowborn. “How dare you step into my house.” She slaps her.
Geum: “Speaking of lowborn, it’s in my blood too. So she came to the right place.”
Wife: “Fool around all you can. Don’t be bothered about who will be the next king. But keep your dirt outside, would you? At least other royal relatives and court officials hang out with Gisaengs and courtesan ladies, not street prostitutes.”
Next, we see Yi Geum helping Cho Hong wash her wounds.
Hong: “Are you a Prince?”
Geum: “Please understand my wife. She’s from a noble family. Her pride was hurt when she was arranged to marry someone like me.”
“She’s rude by nature. I can tell.”
Geum, smiling: “You sound alright, by the way you talk.”
“But really, are you a Prince?”
“Only half… My mother was lowborn.”
“I think I heard. That the king fell in love with a slave.”
“A maid. She used to draw the water for the Palace.”
“That’s right. A maid. I heard that never happened before. They may have some flings here and there, but no more. A lowborn, who is not even a Court Lady, can’t be a mistress.”
“Not mistress. Royal Concubine. “
“It’s the same thing.”
“You’re right. Prince or bastard… I am that lowborn Prince.”
“I also heard that this Prince doesn’t get treated right. He doesn’t belong anywhere. He doesn’t belong with the royalty, nor with the commoner.”
“I guess I’m quite famous. Are you disappointed?”
“On the contrary. No one will play with you so you will look for me.” As the Prince is leaving, to herself, “That is why you treated me nicely. You felt bad because I am a lowborn.”
OUTSIDE OF SAHEONBU
Inpector Han Jeonseok and his subordinates find Park Moonsoo outside, waiting for them. They are surprised he is still there. They go out for a drink.
Moonso, drinking: “He looks like a gigolo and I’m pretty sure he has done it before. That is how he must have paid for the expensive horse he was riding.”
Ahbong, looking at the drawing of Yi Geum prepared by Moonsoo: “He does look disgustingly handsome.”
Jeonseok: “I will assign someone to look for him tomorrow.” Moonsoo complains it will be too late.
Moonsoo: “If you are busy, just show me the census registry. I can find him myself. What was his name? Roh Taepyung…”
Inspector Han tells him that’s against the law. “I know you’re passionate, but you need to pass the civil exam first.” He leaves.
The subordinates make fun of Moonsoo for failing the exam 11 times. they tell him they have a very important case at hand and they cannot help. Suddenly, Moonsoo has an idea. “Where is Yeoji? I am sure she could help me, burning fire in her eyes!”
Yi Geum is complaining the wine is getting more expensive. Then he overhears a woman dressed as a gisaeng talking to herself.
Yeoji, looking at her boobs: “Are these too little? Really? What is a good size?” Geum chocks up while Yeoji peeps at other gisaengs walking by. ” That is how big they should be in order to enter that room, I see.” She sees Yi Geum looking at her. “Who are you.”
Geum: “I was just drinking, why?”
Yeoji: “Then keep on drinking.” To herself, “Where can I get some mandarines?” She overhears the Prime Minister speaking with Kaedol. Apparently, Minister Min has kicked all the gisaengs out of the room and the Prime Minister wasn’t too happy.
Inside the room, Minister Min assures other Noron leaders that Prince Milpoong will be the next king. But the other leaders are worried that Saheonbu may find incriminating evidence against their Prince.
Minister Min: “It’s only speculations. Nothing has been found. It is true, Prince Milpoong is a scum, full of weaknesses. But we can use his weaknesses for our benefit. He may depend on us all the more because of that.”
Once outside though, the Chief of Saheonbu tells Minister Min that although he believes in Prince Milpoong’s innocence, he cannot continue stopping his inspectors from investigating . Minister Min tells him to appoint Wi Byeongjoo as Head Inspector and he will take care of all the headache.
In another room, Kaedol is speaking with Yi Geum, grumbling.
Geum: “Prince Milpoong? Are you telling me the exam I took was ordered by Tan?”
Kaedol: “That’s right!”
“Why? Who was Tan trying to help with this substitute exam?”
“How would I know how a mad man acts out? I am just a normal person. You know Prince Milpoong. If this gets out, we are all dead. My Lord, Prince Milpoong doesn’t know that you took the exam.”
“How can you mess things up like this!”
“I am sure you heard that rumor too: Tan’s Death Journal. They say bodies pile up around Prince Milpoong’s house.”
Somewhere else, Prince Yeonyreong is talking with Inspector Han. “Death Journal? He writes the numbers of people he kills?”
Jeonseok: “It’s just a rumor. But it’s true that lots of people around Prince Milpoong are dying.” He explains how four years ago, the man managing his land was found dead, then his personal guard and his wife. “And the man investigating that case. More recently, a young widow who was raped by Prince Milpoong conceived and was found dead. And her older sister. The royal army investigating this died too.”
In a dark stable, Prince Milpoong is having another fit. His face is covered with blood, and he is complaining why people test him. “I am not Buddha, you know!”
In the middle of the forest, Tan is writing in a book while his minions bury a dead. And he remembers how it all happened.
The man was the dead women’s uncle. The old man told the Prince he will keep quiet as long as the Prince helps him pass the Civil Exam. But later, the man threatened the Prince and asked for money. Tan is disgusted by this man’s impudence. “He is a dog. He should be thankful if he passed the exam. Why is he whining over money? He has no decency… What was his name? Roh… Taepyung?”
Back to Prince Yeonryeong
Hwon: “Why are you telling me this? Is this some some kind of warning?”
Jeonseok: “It’s the truth. Prince Milpoong destroyes everything that stands in his way.”
“Do you mean… his way to the throne?”
“I have nothing to do with Royal Politics. But this case is my responsibility. I will keep an eye on him, but please My Lord the Prince, you should watch your back.”
Wi Byunjoo is cheking documents at night and meets Yeoji, Inspector Han’s Damo (Assistant Investigator).
YI GEUM’S HOUSE
Geum is thinking: “Death Journal? Well, he has always been crazy. But why did he find a substitute exam taker for Roh Taepyung?”
In the morning, Yi Geum is getting ready to go hunting. His servant Jadong gives him the arrow set.
Jadong: “Why are you taking the arch and the arrow?”
Geum: “Milpoong is having a hunting tournament. “
“But My Lord the Prince, you never go to those places.”
“I’m curious. I want to know what Tan is up to.”
“You are worried about His Lordship Prince Yeonryeong.”
“And you are worried about me?”
“You need to watch your back.”
“I have done that all my life. Stop nagging.”
Yeoji is changing herself into a man’s clothes to go to Prince Milpoong’s hunting camp. Inspector Han is sending her off to look for the Death Journal. “Will you be ok?”
Yeoji: “I’m fine. The Norons know Prince Milpoong’s doings. They’re just very busy covering it up.”
Jangdal: “Yes, they are all a bunch of trash.”
Yeoji: “That kind of man will be our king. Imagine. We need to get our hands on that Death Journal.”
Meanwhile, Ahbong gives Moonsoo the classified information about Roh Taepyung.
People are paying respect to Prince Milpoong, calling him soon to be king. Tan sees Geum standing alone. They stare at each other.
Tan: “I will give my golden frog with my name engraved on it to whoever catches the biggest boar. Let’s go!”
ROH TAPYUNG’S HOUSE
Moonsoo finds the place empty so he thinks the man ran away because of him. “Maybe he didn’t even pass that test… But wait, how will I catch that gigolo then?”
Later, he sees the results of the CIVIL EXAM. To his shock, 1st place is… Roh Taepyung! What!
Yeoji in a man’s attire bumps into Geum. They recognize each other from the Gisaeng House but they pretend not knowing.
Later on, Yeoji is trying to unlock a box from Yi Tan’s camping tent. Yi Geum mocks at her, saying she won’t be able to open that box so easily. “Just take the box with you. But I’m curious too. What’s inside that box.” And he offers her money to give it up.
While bantering with the price, she kicks Geum’s private part and he falls on his knees, holding his breath.
Yeoji: “I hit you lightly so that you can continue being a man.”
But outside of the tent, she is caught by Tan and his minions. After hiding the box away, she fights back but she is captured.
Tan: “This is weird. What is this pretty looking rat doing in the mountains? He is cute, look! And so tiny. I feel sorry to kill him.”
Geum: “Then let her go. She is not a man. Don’t you have any pride? Will you hurt a lady?”
Tan: “A lady?”
Geum: “Instead of fighting against her, fight me.”
END OF EPISODE 2
I am not writing for profit. But I did take pictures from other sites. If I use the link, is that allowed? If not, I will take them down.
This drama is based on the real life story of Yi Geum, Prince Yeoning, during his early years of reign. He becomes king Yeongjo, 21st king of Joseon (present Korea) in 1724 and reigns for 52 years. This character is played by Jung Ilwoo.
In the background of this drama stands the statue of HAECHI, in front in of Saheonbu building. Haechi is a legendary animal, looking like a lion with scales, representing a righteous judge of justice and truth. Saheonbu, a Joseon’s Judicial Office with authority to investigate and to judge, was meant to be like Haechi, honorable and righteous.
At the beginning of the drama, Minister Min Jinwon (played by Lee Kyung Young) explains that justice and truth are unattainable, like that legendary animal. “In real life, it is impossible to judge right from evil.” For him, politics is not about justice, but about power. And when you lose it, you die.
On the other side of the spectrum, there exists a group of people working in Saheonbu who actually believes in true justice. Led by Head Inspector Han Jeongseok, they start digging into a murder case that entangles them with the royal court. This puts them in danger. Should they stop investigating? For Inspector Han though, it is easier to follow his passion and live for the truth than to compromise for political gain.
Enters Yi Geum, a good for nothing prince who accidentally gets himself involved in this crime solving mystery. Though a prince, his mother was a lowly maid, and many nobles disdains him as a low born. So although he is extremely smart, he squanders his living, womanizing and drinking.
But while unraveling the crime, he loses those he love most, and he learns that without power, he cannot do anything. So he starts dreaming of changing the world by becoming the king. Thus begins the game of thrones.
At first, it seems like an impossible task. He has zero political alliance. But a group of passionate friends join him. Then, a couple of political advisers. When THE PEOPLE starts rallying for him, the true political game begins.
This show may seem predictable because we know he will become king. But the journey is filled with so many struggles we are kept at the edge of our seats. It is such a joy to witness how our Prince escapes death, and each time he does, he grows stronger. And the way he does, the choices he makes, they are so unexpected that people become speechless, dumbfounded by his insights and courage. Slowly but surely, he becomes like a strong force, attracting everyone around him.
You can tell a person by looking at his/her friends. Yi Geum was surrounded by passionate dreamers. Inspector Park Moonsoo (played by Kwon Yul), Assistant Inspector Yeoji (Go Ara) and ring leader of beggars Dalmoon (Park Hoon), among others. They believed in fighting for justice and helping those who are weak.
Growing up as a lowly prince, Yi Gum dared not to dream. Meeting these friends gave purpose and meaning to his life. And he started dreaming Big Dreams. With him on board, the small group of friends upgraded their own goals. They too started dreaming Big Dreams: to make their little Prince the King.
Eventually, some of these friends will help the Prince seat on the throne through their own sacrifice. During that time, Yi Gum’s greatest enemy, Minister Min will be shocked. He will wonder: what kind of a person is this Yi Geum that he can command so much love from his followers. Old as he is, he never knew such devotion for his master.
At the end of the show, he himself is won over by the king. He tells the king though, that he is too idealistic and that fair policies are doom to fail. But he still encourages the king to continue fighting the good fight. “Your Majesty, I pray you continue dreaming for a very, very long time. I feel like you can do it, since you are surrounded by many dreamers like yourself.”
This is the same Minister who opens the drama by cynically speaking against the search for justice and truth. By the end the drama, he shifts his attitude. He still believes true justice is unattainable but he feels a little more hopeful. He remembers when he was young and naïve. He too used to be a dreamer.
And he bows down before His Majesty in a true act of respect and devotion.
END OF REVIEW
Since there are plenty of other reviews, I wanted to just focus on one theme: HAECHI, GUARDIAN OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE.
Being ethnically Korean, I grew up watching Korean dramas since the time I learned to talk. Watching these shows taught me so much about my culture and shaped my identity. I also enjoyed reading and at times, writing. But I lacked discipline to write anything specific.
At the beginning of this millennium, I heard of the Korean wave. Oh wow! Growing in South America, many people didn’t even know a country called Korea even existed. I was called Chinese or Japanese. “COREA? DONDE QUEDA ESO?” (“Is Korea a county?”) But now, the world seemed interested in knowing more about this tiny peninsula, the underdog of East Asia. Proudly, I helped translate some dramas and articles and would post them in korean drama sites such as soompi.com or in my old Xanga account (don’t even remember what it was). After I got married though, I stopped my k drama frenzy. I would watch dramas sporadically, but nothing too deep.
During the 2020 world pandemic, unexpectedly staying home with lots of extra free time, I went back to my old hobby: watching Korean Dramas. At first, it was to kill time. Just binge watching.
A few impressed me and grabbed my interest. CRASH LANDING ON YOU (with Hyunbin). ONE SPRING NIGHT (with Jung Hae In). I AM NOT A ROBOT (with Yoo Seung Ho). Then, I started to get inspired. Like craving to write.
Actually, I watched Yoo Seung Ho grow up. I remember watching him in many dramas as a child actor. When I recently watched him, as an adult actor, I was so impressed. He turned out very fine, and he had depth in his acting (20 years under his belt). He had soulful eyes that spoke thousands of emotions. So yes, I got hooked — on the actor Yoo Seung Ho. I checked most of his recent works, and even if I wasn’t too happy about the quality of his shows, I would be grinning, satisfied to see Yoo Seung Ho in action. I was like this for many months, unable to watch anything without him.
That is, until I watched HAECHI. And then, something else happened. I was reminded of a crush I had (11 years ago) on an actor called JUNG IL WOO who played in THE RETURN OF ILJIMAE. But he was no longer the naughty pretty boy he portrayed there. He has matured. He could go from looking helplessly vulnerable to strong and commanding, from clueless fool to wise and understanding. He could look so hurt you want to cuddle him, to sexy leader… Oh dear!!! Where’s the fan! I can’t say he is the greatest actor. But he surely is charismatic, with his sarcastic crooked smile which has become his signature.
I searched for more information about Jung Il Woo and about Haechi. But having joined the party a year too late, I couldn’t find active forums on this drama. And sadly, this drama did not create the expected buzz. So here I am, to create the buzz it deserves. I am starting this blogging journey. Mainly about HAECHI. But also about everything JUNG IL WOO. And any k-drama things.
Even is it’s just a little splash. Like Haechi so well said: Let us work hard to create a better world, even if that is an unrealistic dream. Let us push forward, even knowing that we are doom to fail. Because politics (and life) is all about advancing towards an unreachable utopia, without giving up. And if we eventually give up (fail), let that be at a much later time. At the time to say good bye.
Let me know if you would like to join with me in this small journey…
Last Saturday, May 25th, 2019, I went to watch the much anticipated Play “JESUS” at The Sight & Sounds Theaters in Lancaster, PA. High expectation is a sure ticket to disappointment. Was I? Let me just say this. Watching this show prompted me to write a review, which I haven’t done in a while. But more importantly, it prompted me to open a blog. So that I can recount my long journey together, walking with Jesus: Finding Jesus.
The curtains opened. Colorful scenery, multi-dimensional landscapes, filled with music and laughter. My 3 year-old restless son was sitting on my lap, demanding attention. I was holding him tight, tensed, afraid he would cry. Suddenly, there he was, the character of Jesus. I started to relax. Handsome, young, ordinary. Down to earth, friendly, human. I liked him already.
Then, slowly, the Jesus character started growing, becoming bigger than the waves of the sea. Or more commanding than the storms. Eloquent in his story-telling, witty and funny. Self-righteous in his anger towards the teachers of the law, but compassionate and forgiving towards the underdogs. And so very… personal. Calling (and knowing) their names. Leaving the 99, to go after the 1 lost sheep. Trying to save the one demon possessed, all cursed man. Touching the Leper. Holding onto the blind man.
The play was written to show how Jesus Rescues. I was able to see Jesus the super-hero. In fact, I love super-hero movies, but there is no one who can surpass Jesus in power or in heroism. Yet he is also an anti-hero. A hero who stops fighting. A hero who walks straight to his own doom. A hero who dies “abandoned by God.” Because of love.
I was afraid how this play will depict the crucifixion. I didn’t want another “The Passion of the Christ” where the physical pain Jesus suffered was portrait so gruesomely, it felt unrealistic. In the block-buster movie by Mel Gibson, viewers didn’t realize the most painful thing Christ suffered at the cross was being rejected by God His own Father. But in this play, I was struck by the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane. Satan was there to sway him. And Jesus was weak. Already. Too weak to fight Satan. He was getting ready to become the Sacrificial Lamb. He was feeling the weight of the world’s sins. Thus burdened and tired, he was almost begging his closest friends to watch and pray with him. Wow!
I first encountered Jesus when I stumbled upon a New Testament Bible when I was 13 years old. I was amazed by the Jesus in the Gospels, and He became like the most intriguing, elusive character in history ever. I had collected many movies of Jesus, and read many books about Him, written by Christians and non-Christians alike. I was able to discern the biblical perspectives of Jesus against those who rejected His deity.
Many times in my past, Jesus wooed me nearer: Like a Knight in Shining Armor. Whenever that happened, the world looked more beautiful, or at least more bearable. Pain and rejection felt like the cross Jesus already foretold us we would carry if we follow Him. So it was OK. It was during those times, I can honestly say I was the happiest, and most fulfilled. Like when we finally understand our destiny and purpose in life: To Worship God and to Enjoy Him Forever.
But the toiling of this world is filled with many temptations. And we are short of memory. I tend to forget this passion so easily, this first love. After getting married and having kids, my family became my priority. God and prayer took a back seat. I believed in God, of course. But I had no energy to pray hard. Only whispers at night. Mere “help me Jesus.” This was no true worship, or building a relationship with Him.
Watching this “Jesus” Play rekindled that forgotten fire within. I realized Jesus was wooing me again. Before watching, part of me felt that I already know this story inside out, and that nothing will surprise me. But from the moment the curtains rose, I was introduced to Jesus’ story through the eyes of His followers. How enthralled they were with Jesus, how enamored they were. And as I continued watching, this story became my story. How Jesus knew me, and he pursued me. And how, when He was dying at the cross, He thought of me. And how He captured my imagination and my heart once again.
The most important part of this story is that it’s a real story. Jesus is a real Super Hero. He really rose from the dead. And He paid for my sins. And everyone’s. Because He is blameless and worthy. God dying for a mere human. To know this, to understand this to the bones, is life changing.
Still, the harsh reality of life can hit you the hardest when you are most blessed. I was shocked at how a mere getting lost in traffic can bring hurtful words and blame. But I remembered Jesus, and how much He endured, and how much He forgave. This was enough for me to be graceful and forgiving. To silently pray instead of retaliating. And to find a middle ground where peace was the end result.
Wrapping up. The Jesus portrayed in this Play was one of my favorite renditions ever. He was warm, easy going, and yet powerful. I really believe God is using this show to reveal who He is to many.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend. The curtains will close in January 2020, so you better hurry. I understand most tickets are already sold out.
Am I truly able to say this? When I first read this verse at the beginning of the retreat on Friday, I wondered who the psalmist was who dared say such a bold statement. Surely, I didn’t think I could honestly say that I desired nothing but God… I just had too many other loves conflicting within me, too many hopes turned sour.
So I went back and read the whole of PSALM 73, and I was impressed by the contrast between the beginning of this psalm, and the end. This psalm revealed a spiritual journey where the writer struggled seeing so many wicked people prospering at the expense of the righteous. But towards the end… when he enters the Temple of god… he finally understands. And he worships God.
I stood still. That same afternoon, Psalm 73 was the topic of a lunch conversation at work. My coworkers were struggling with the same issue of unfairness. And here I was, away at a retreat, where the conclusion of this psalm was being proclaimed loud and clear… “It’s not about me.” I saw how before my eyes, my world shrank (with my problems, my fears, pains and disappointments) and I was suddenly blinded by the Majesty of God. Then and there, I stopped worrying about my world anymore. God was sufficient!
Being 36 and single with no real career, my life surely did not turn the way I thought it would 10 years ago, when I was a zealous Christian. Back then, my favorite verse was Philippians 4:13~ “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” But time and again, the doors closed on me at the last minute. Sometimes, I thought God was playing a joke on me.
But it was in order to strip me from other gods He kept me bare… It is only because I have nothing big I could boast of having that I can truly say: “Whom have I in heaven but You?” and along the same line, now I feel… with fear and trembling because my heart is deceitful… that I can honestly say the later part also: “On earth there is nothing I desire besides you.”
All these years, every time I got disappointed, God was showing me that I had to surrender all my desires and hopes to Him… even my longing to do good… if service is not done with the right heart, it could become an idol. I knew it in my mind, but I drew a fist at Him in defiance, unable to acknowledge such a God of contradictions. I needed to come to this point… I had to come to His SANCTUARY, to be so overwhelmed by His Majesty, to finally let go…
Some of my friends know that recently, I had received news of some doors of opportunities FINALLY opening up before me. They all celebrated with great joy, but I knew that it’s still too early to celebrate… What if I get disappointed again? But… while worshiping HIM, I knew it didn’t matter anymore. What happens to me is insignificant in light of Who God is… May God’s will be done.
I am sharing this publicly, because I know the real battle starts now… at home and at work… in my everyday life.
My first recollections were of me as a 4-year-old,
living in a small island of Korea, walking barefoot. I see images of my older cousins looking like
giants, and of a girl I thought was a princess, wearing shiny red shoes. Of making houses with stackable books, of
burning my thigh with hot soup… and of closing my eyes at
night, and seeing a multitude of stars in the sky. And asking, “Why are we born?” “What is the purpose of our existence?”
I also remember seeing a statue of a crucified
Christ at the Catholic Church we attended in Argentina. It was intriguing to
say the least. I was very introverted,
so I filled my days reading books. I used
to fall in love with the characters, and day dream about them.
Then one day, I happened to see a New
Testament Bible. I started reading out
of curiosity, and I became like Alice in Wonderland. Suddenly, life looked more beautiful, more
meaningful. I was only 13 years old.
However, soon after, I started questioning
the entire Bible and rejected God. I
felt that God was unfair, in choosing Jacob over Essau, Judah over Joseph. He was sexist, choosing mostly men, even
flawed men like Samson!
Then in High School, my best friend told me
about Jesus. The mere mention of His
Name sparked in me a longing. I realized
I missed Him and deep down, I really wanted to believe in Him. So I went to the Library every afternoon,
looking for books about Him.
I cannot recall the exact names, but I
remember reading a book written by a Roman Catholic Priest, one by an agnostic
Historian, one by a Seventh Adventist (THE DESIRE OF AGES by Ellen White), one
by a philosopher (BLAISE PASCAL).
I also read a book that talked about the 5
main religions of the world (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism). The main premise was to show that all the
five religions had different rituals and traditions, but that the goals were
the same. They all taught us to live a
good life. I understood the author’s point. I just could not agree with him because he
was describing Christianity by mentioning the Sacraments and Rituals
alone. It was like describing a book by
its cover. He didn’t understand
It was only after I went to College, I
finally learned the doctrine of Salvation by Faith and Faith Alone. ? And I learned that God’s choices are
not merit based. Still, I continued questioning God’s justice. “How could a loving God show Himself to some
People, but NOT TO Others? What about my
Korean ancestors? Didn’t they deserve
this gift of Salvation as much as the Jewish did? So I challenged God to persuade me once for
all that He was there, or else, I was going to stop praying to Him.
Lo and behold, like a week later, Campus Crusade
For Christ sent me “MORE THAN A CARPENTER” (by Josh McDowell). Short and easy to understand, the author
himself was a skeptic who turned to Jesus after doing research. Point by point, he answered all the questions
and doubts I was having.
Other books shaped and sealed my faith
deeper. C.S. Lewis “MERE Christianity.” And later his “Perelandra.” “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip
Yancey broke down all pre-conceived notions and showed me the Jesus for the
underdogs. The friend of ‘sinners.’
I was also shaped by biographies from
missionaries and martyrs. Their lives
are filled with the footsteps of Jesus. Corrie
Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place” or Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life.
I know it is popular to say: “I believe in Jesus but I don’t like religion.” It is also
popular to “imagine” all religions coming together, or people coming together doing away
with religion. Like in John Lennon’s song “Imagine.”
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
But this song is romanticizing living
without purpose, having no passions, no goals.
Religion, just like philosophy, was created by men, because we have an
inherent desire to know God and find meaning in life. Thus, the author who described the main 5
religions as being the same, and having same goal (living a morally good life)
was right, except in one thing: Jesus is
not a religion created by men.
All religions are very similar. It is men’s way of going
up to Heaven, becoming better by doing good deeds. But true Christianity is not about us living
a morally good life. The message of the
Gospel is the Good News, that GOD HIMSELF came down from Heaven, and that He
revealed Himself to us. To Forgive us
and to Save us. This is His love letter
For God so loved
the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall
not perish but have eternal life.
So that, when we understand and receive
that message of Salvation, we may no longer be enslaved to sin, but be
free. No longer living like fugitives on
the run, but like adopted children of God. Once we understand this, our entire life will
change. And we will remember Jesus’s command (Matthew
New International Version
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
This is the reason I share this. The reason I opened this blog. God bless you!