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.
You can watch at: https://www.kocowa.com/en_us/channel/1354027/Haechi-Episode-1
Here are some of the sites I used as reference AND FOR THE PICTURES. Please, feel free to visit them.
THE CAT THE WATCHES TV, FIRST IMPRESSIONS: https://nekosdrama.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/haechi-first-impression/
HOT PICTURES!!!!!~~~JUNGILWOODELIGHTS: Understanding Haechi Epi 1-2: https://jungilwoodelights.com/2019/02/13/understanding-haechi-episode-1-1-2/