Splendid Politics (Hwajung) : Episode 3

Five years have passed since the last episode and Gwanghae is surviving the court without much support from his own ministers. He’s slowly pushed to his limits, not only by the statesmen but also people inside the court. Everyone was literally waiting for him to pounce on Yeongchang and Jungmyung but for now, it’s safe to say that his affection he has for Jungmyung exceeds the fear he has of Yeongchang’s influence. I guess the bloodbath will come our way soon, and the drama is indeed planning to tear my heart by hinting of the impending tragedy while showing how much the half-siblings adored each other.

[Episode 3]

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Queen Dowager Inmok was back at the palace but she appeared to be disturbed even in her sleep. In her dream, she was running through the forest even when she was heavily pregnant, and a white figure appeared beside her. Ooh, that was creepy, but it was actually the fortune teller Nam Sa-gong. He reminded the dowager to protect the child, but she woke up from the dream before we could hear the reason from that man. She reached for a box on her bedside, which contained the bracelet she took from the temple.

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Far away in the mountains, a small group of people bringing goods on a carrier walked through the forest in the middle of the night, but they were soon joined by several masked men in black. The masked men were armed, and the poor transporters were killed mercilessly by them. They were actually bringing chests filled with silver taels, which seemed to be the attackers’ target.

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1613, Gwanghae’s 5th year of reign. Gwanghae found the hall empty, save for Leader Jung, Yi-cheom, and Gwanghae’s brother-in-law, Yoo Hee-bon. The ministers refused to attend audience with him, causing Gwanghae to cancel the royal banquet which was supposed to be held on that day. He went to the ministers’ office to see them gathered there, and Deok-hyung was also among the ministers protesting Gwanghae’s recent effort to get ready for possible war against Nurhaci and the rising Manchu. The ministers were concerned about the citizens’ welfare since they would be recruited as soldiers for the preparation of war.

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Gwanghae’s trio argued that the king had done enough for the citizens with the Daedong Law (a uniform tax law using grains instead of special types of food from different  regions in the country). Yi-cheom pointed out that the Westerners, who had been slowly rising to power after Gwanghae’s ascension to the throne, only went against the king in every decision. He reminded the Westerners that he’s an Inspector-General instead of the lower-ranked Third Minister of Rites (which was probably his previous post), and Hang-bok scoffed at his haughty act. Yi-cheom reminded both Won-ik and Hang-bok to make up their minds in order to support the tax, but the Westerners only continued to argue about the matter.

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Gwanghae was well aware that the Westerners were against him since Seonjo’s reign, and he felt that only the Northerners were on his side. Deok-hyung thought that he should try to be on the same side with the ministers because that’s what politics was all about, but Gwanghae had grown tired of doing the same thing for the past five years and yielded nothing. It might be the same if they’re to bring a different king, and Deok-hyung was angry to hear Gwanghae speaking of such thing. Gwanghae felt that if his own Prime Minister sided with the other ministers, he would really be pushed aside like a lonely island.

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A young lady ran through the palace ground and it was no other than the teenage Princess Jungmyung (Jung Chan-bi). She saw a kite stuck on the tree near the palace wall and overheard the music playing outside the wall. The streets were full of people and two servants were looking for their young master. Soon after, we met the young master: Joo-won (Yoon Chan-young), who had just returned from a private study in the mountains. He was still bookish and studious as ever.

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Jungmyung made the decision to climb the tree and retrieve the kite but she couldn’t seem to reach it, much to her disappointment. She sighed at the loud music she heard from the streets, thinking that it must be fun to spend the day outside compared to the boring greetings inside the palace (she even mimicked the pretentious greetings by other people LOL). The young lady could see the streets from her position and she was taken by the sight of Joo-won riding the horse while reading a book. Someone’s smitten already, but Joo-won only caught glimpse of her right before Jungmyung jumped onto the ground. Court Lady Choi was so shocked to see the princess jumping from the tree and she almost passed out. She’s so dramatic! Hehehe~

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Court Lady Choi started to chide Jungmyung shortly after out of worry, since there seemed to be no day where Jungmyung didn’t cause any problem. The teenage princess just admitted her mistakes and tried to console her attendant, but Court Lady Choi wasn’t going to give in easily this time! Suddenly, Jungmyung saw Queen Inmok and Grand Prince Yeongchang (Jeon Jin-seo) coming towards her and told Lady Choi to keep her actions earlier as a secret from her mother. Jungmyung praised Yeongchang’s new attire but their mother informed them that the banquet for the full moon day had been cancelled.

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Court Lady Kim officially conveyed the news of the cancellation to Queen Inmok and apologized in Gwanghae’s stead, but the dowager didn’t find the cancellation a big issue. Once Court Lady Kim left, the dowager’s attendant made a snide remark about Kim, serving two consecutive kings instead of leaving the place after Seonjo’s death. Queen Inmok had gotten used to the complaint, but she couldn’t deny the ominous feeling she had, as if something bad would happen soon. With Imhae’s sudden death and Gwanghae’s nephew sentenced to death by poisoning, the dowager wondered which prince would be the next victim. Hence, she’s not going to stay put anymore and asked about the letter she sent to someone.

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Yi-cheom and Court Lady Kim were still as close as ever, and we learned from him that such happening like sudden cancellation of events were ordinary in the past five years. Lady Kim knew that Queen Inmok had started to make a move, and Yi-cheom predicted that with Yeongchang reaching eight years old that year, the Westerners would start supporting him to become the next king. Yi-cheom also found something interesting about the the silver robbery five years ago, which took place in Mungyeong: at one glance, it looked like a normal bandits robbing the silver offering on its way to the capital, but those bandits were rather unique. He remarked that they could spin the matter to go according to their plan, but Lady Kim reminded Yi-cheom that Gwanghae was still hurting over the incident with Imhae.

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Yi-cheom knew that she would make their plan happen come hell or high water, and Gwanghae was even more disheartened than before. He stated that he had been waiting for 16 years just to sit on the throne, but the only thing he achieved was slaying lives with his own hands. However, that was only the beginning for him, and he was well aware that Gae-si was there to present him with options, forcing him to make his choice.

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The commoners were enjoying the full moon day with various activities, one of them being archery. One young lad was stealing the attention with his perfect bull’s eye aim, and he won the bet against a man. The lad was In-woo (Ahn Do-kyu, you’ve grown so tall!) and Joo-won appeared to take his challenge for an archery duel, although Joo-won didn’t really know how to shoot the arrows. It was actually a reunion for those two after a while, but they’re still close.

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Jungmyung and Yeongchang spent their afternoon taking a walk around the palace but it’s clear how bored they were. Jungmyung sighed, thinking that it would be nice to enjoy the day of festive outside and witness the events, such as ssireum and tightrope walking. She explained what it was to Yeongchang, according to what she heard from Lady Choi, but stopped when she realized that they would never be able to watch it. Awwww~ The boy refused to play the games he always play with her sister, and suggested that they go sightseeing outside the palace. Yeongchang actually overheard Queen Inmok’s plan to visit the temple although their mother wanted to keep her trip a secret from them, and told his sister about a way to sneak out from the palace which he found by chance while playing hide-and-seek.

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They changed into ordinary clothes and crawled out of a ground tunnel after avoiding the palace guards. Jungmyung was immediately fascinated with the different outside world but she was still worried about sneaking out with her brother. Yeongchang assured her that he had convinced the attendants that he’s going to sleep and not to be disturbed, but Jungmyung suddenly suggested that they go back inside the palace. The young prince refused to do so and decided to go by himself if his sister didn’t want to go, so Jungmyung had to agree with her brother. Everything was new to them and they were so happy to be able to watch a ssireum match going on. In-woo and Joo-won were also there, and In-woo even placed a bet on one of the players.

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Queen Inmok prayed non-stop upon reaching the temple, but she had another agenda behind her visit there: meeting Deok-hyung (hey, that’s Misaeng reunion!). She asked for his help and insisted that it was for the sake of protecting Yeongchang, but Deok-hyung feared that her plan would cause a tragedy inside the palace. He couldn’t deny the fact that it was a delicate time for the country, hence his willingness to meet the dowager outside the palace. She insisted that her plan was to protect everyone, including Yeongchang and Gwanghae, and she would be waiting for the Prime Minister’s answer. They discussed about something and Deok-hyun wondered if the plan won’t cause a problem for the young Jungmyung, but Queen Inmok thought that it was also for the princess’s safety since Jungmyung didn’t understand the politics happening inside the palace. The dowager also shared about her encounter with the fortune teller at the same temple in the past and it made her even more uneasy after finding the trace of the man again five years ago.

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Joo-won and In-woo retreated to a tavern and Joo-won was surprised to see his friend drinking alcohol freely. In-woo didn’t think it was a big deal as they’re already 15 and challenged Joo-won to drink. Joo-won drank his share in one shot and went straight to the point, now that he’s done everything In-woo told him to do: why In-woo stopped his study all of a sudden? He demanded to know why and that’s the reason he went to meet him first instead of greeting his father, but In-woo avoided answering Joo-won’s question.

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Yeongchang was also at the tavern, eating to his heart’s content (but to the owner’s surprise), while Jungmyung went to the toilet. She was surprised to see the humble toilet and decided not to use it, thinking that the commoners didn’t use the special toilet as the palace. LOL everything was new to her! She walked away but suddenly, she overheard two men talking about Imhae’s death not from accident. One man said that it was Gwanghae’s doing and wondered if Yeongchang would be the next target, while the other was scared that someone would hear them. Man 1 was not afraid since it’s a well-known fact and they walked away.

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Someone threw the plates and it was the tavern owner demanding Yeongchang to pay for his meal. The young prince asked what he meant by money. Awwww he really didn’t have any clue what money was and asked to see how the word was written, but that request only made the owner fuming in anger. Jungmyung asked what’s wrong and it turned out that she’s also clueless about money and paying for meals. The owner wasn’t having any of the kids’ antics and fetched a stick to beat them, but Joo-won witnessed it and decided to  intervene.

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Joo-won resolved the conflict while Jungmyung consoled the crying Yeongchang. The young prince was upset and he wanted to go back to the palace, and In-woo overheard Jungmyung calling Yeongchang ‘Grand Prince’. Jungmyung suddenly realized that the young man who saved them was the same lad she saw earlier riding the horse. She’s blushing! Joo-won went back to inform In-woo that he barely stopped the owner from going to the police, and the matter was resolved. Jungmyung asked Joo-won’s name so that he could be awarded after saving them and In-woo was amused to hear her using the informal speech so casually. She even promised to raise his father’s rank, but Joo-won was not happy to have his father dragged into the matter.

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He still told her his name and his father’s name, while reminding her that she should be the one apologizing to the tavern owner and reflecting on her mistakes. Joo-won walked away and In-woo pleaded for Jungmyung to be understanding since Joo-won was rough since he was young. In-woo told Joo-won that he heard the siblings mentioning palace and Grand Prince, but Joo-won only thought that In-woo misheard it. Jungmyung was miffed with what happened earlier, but she suddenly saw the men who talked about Imhae at the tavern earlier.

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She confronted them and chided them for slandering the king.Man 1 replied that everyone was well aware of the truth that Gwanghae killed Imhae and Yeongchang would be his next target, while Jungmyung saw everyone nodding to what the man said. Man 2 also said that it was a well known fact that Gwanghae would capture both Jungmyung and Yeongchang to get rid of them soon. Jungmyung was dumbfounded and she could only look at her little brother with worry in her eyes.

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Meanwhile, Queen Inmok had returned to the palace and went straight to Yeongchang’s quarters only to find his room empty. Jungmyung was supposed to be with Yeongchang and she too, was nowhere to be seen nearby. Gwanghae went to Namhan Mountain Fortress on that day and his absence was enough to call for misunderstanding, because Queen Inmok went straight to him once he returned to the palace. Was she thinking that Gwanghae had abducted her kids and sent them away to be killed secretly?

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The missing siblings were still walking around the village, unable to find the way back to the palace. Jungmyung was absorbed in her own thoughts about Gwanghae but snapped back to reality since Yeongchang was scared, and it was getting darker. Gwanghae ordered for the Capital Bureau and the Police Department to be alerted about the case, but the Westerners were eager on confronting him to confirm their suspicion. They even dared to question Gwanghae’s whereabouts earlier after finding out that he went out of a secret trip, and that was enough to incur the king’s wrath.

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Joo-won ran into his father and heard about the prince and princess went missing, hence the policemen were all called to find them. He recalled what happened earlier and went to In-woo’s house to confirm his suspicion. Thinking that they might have encountered the missing royals, In-woo went to inform the officers as Joo-won went to find Jungmyung and Yeongchang. The siblings were still walking around and Jungmyung had to piggyback her tired brother, but she’s also running out of energy and fell onto the ground. Luckily, Joo-won managed to find them and Jungmyung pleaded for Joo-won to bring Yeongchang back to the palace before losing her consciousness. Poor kids, they must had been so exhausted and stressed out!

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Both of them were carried back to the palace and Queen Inmok, together with the ministers, were relieved to see that the siblings were safe. Gwanghae could only look at them from behind, and he’s really like a lonely island there. The ministers followed the dowager to escort the siblings and Deok-hyung noticed the concern in Gwanghae’s eyes from afar.

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Jungmyung apologized to Court Lady Choi for causing her to worry, and the court lady accidentally said that she thought Jungmyung and Yeongchang had finally been killed by Gwanghae. Gwanghae went to Jungmyung’s quarters but decided to leave without seeing her, but Jungmyung was lucky to catch him when she stepped out of her room. She was actually going to visit Yeongchang and apologized for causing Gwanghae to be worried about them, but Gwanghae noticed that she’s been calling him using his official title instead of the affectionate brother, just like in the past. He sighed that he was greedy for wishing that she would see him only as her brother.

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The princess recalled the promise they made before and also her question demanding to know whether what Court Lady Choi said was true. But then, she called Gwanghae brother and wondered if he remembered that it was full moon today, and if he still remember their conversation back then. She hoped that it would stay the same for next year, and for years to come. They were both tearing up, and it was apparent how much they cared for each other. Queen Inmok witnessed their meeting from afar, but her heart was weighed with the advice from the fortune teller, reminding her to protect her child.

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The masked silver robbers had been captured and one of them was an illegitimate son of a Westerner. Yi-cheom went to the prison and brought the mask with him, as his face broke into a menacing smile.

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Deok-hyung had agreed to help Queen Inmok in her plan and she was confident that he would be a great help in persuading two high-ranking officials. She wanted to bring them to her side to borrow their influence, but she’s also thinking of converting Deok-hyung into a full supporter of Yeongchang. She regretted that she had failed to protect her son’s rightful position back then. She then went to meet Jungmyung and showed the princess the wedding ceremonial robe used inside the palace. It was made for Jungmyung, and she was arranging a wedding for her daughter.

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Deok-hyung went to meet the said officials:Chief Hong and Minister Kang, with the intention of making one of their sons as the future royal son-in-law. In-woo and Joo-won eavesdropped on the discussion, which took place at In-woo’s house. Jungmyung was shocked to hear it and argued that she’s only 13, plus she would have to leave her mother and her brother’s side. Queen Inmok told her that it was for Yeongchang’s sake and Jungmyung was the only person who could save Yeongchang, because that was her destiny.

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Meanwhile, Yeongchang was hiding from his attendants in his attempt to sneak out of the palace (ah, kids!) and he reached the high stone wall. He was thinking of jumping from the high wall but it was too high for the small prince, and he nearly slipped off. Luckily, someone managed to get hold of his hand and it turned out to be Gwanghae. Yeongchang was so different from Jungmyung, because he feared Gwanghae and refused to be touched by his half-brother. Tears welled in Gwanghae’s eyes as he looked at the prince and admitted that he was also afraid of the young and small Yeongchang…

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[END of Episode 3]

Honestly, I was expecting Gwanghae to have thought of pushing Yeongchang off the wall, but he’s still humane enough for now. We didn’t get to see how he fared after ordering Imhae’s death, but he must had grieved so much to be forced into killing his only brother for the sake of protecting his position. He’s still his old self in most aspects but there’s fire in his eyes. I like how he shouted at Queen Inmok’s father after the latter was rude to him, and he deserved that much respects because he had received enough pressure and humiliation to reach the position he had at the moment. I wonder what would push him to his limit, causing him to eventually abandon Jungmyung and get rid of Yeongchang.

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We got the teenage cast taking over the child cast (except for Yeongchang, whose character changed from a baby into a young boy) and I adore them, especially teenage Jungmyung and young Yeongchang. They’re so cute! I love how attentive Jungmyung was to Yeongchang, and she’s willing to do anything for her brother. Seeing how close they were made me die a little inside, knowing how it would end. Teenage Joo-won grown up into a bright young man while In-woo has started to be inclined toward idling life. There’s a reason why he had stopped studying for the government examination like Joo-won, but I’m going to wait for the drama to disclose it later. The two young men’s friendship will also face difficulties later, but at least they will last longer than Gwanghae-Jungmyung and Jungmyung-Yeongchang…

I wonder when Gwanghae will be fully converted into the dark lord. Will he leave everything into Kim Gae-si and Yi Yi-cheom’s hands, or will he get his own hands dirty with the blood of those who disregarded him?

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9 thoughts on “Splendid Politics (Hwajung) : Episode 3

  1. Thanks. Gosh siblings rivalry is so heartwrench during these time. My heart jumps every time when I think something like that happens.

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