Just like the usual arrangement in Korean historical dramas (in which childhood portions won’t exceed 7 episodes except for special cases, that is), we finally get to meet some of the adult cast this week! Although I am sad to see the kids leave, there are new faces for us to see, and some of them are even unexpected (to me, at least). I’ll surely miss the cast, but I am excited to see the upcoming episodes with the new ones..
This will be more of a review than recap of the episodes, because real life is a bit crazy nowadays. I might continue doing this kind of post for the next few weeks, so I apologize if you’re looking forward to the traditional proper recap. Do tell me if you think this kind of recap/review is better than the usual ones 😉
Gwanghae found out about the truth behind Seonjo’s death
Right when Deok-hyung started to doubt the facts thanks to the works of Minister Kang ( he’s one vicious man!), Gwanghae accidentally found out about it..and also Deok-hyung’s suspicion that he was the one who instigated the poisoning of his own father. I pitied Gwanghae because he had to hear from someone who suspected him even when he had no idea about it, and the person who carried out the ‘mission’ was his most trusted friend, Lady Kim. Oh, how his heart must had broken into pieces at that time!
Jungmyung and the explosion at the sulfur mine
She didn’t die in the explosion although she went back to rescue Gu-bok and she was found under heaps of the broken bridge. I thought that they were going to hide Yeongchang’s death from her until later, but it was used to give a reason for her not to continue living anymore. Ah, poor princess! Maruno also learned about her real identity as a girl when she refused to be treated of her injuries and the truth about Yeongchang came out when she insisted that she was a Joseon princess.
Gwanghae, Yi-cheom, and Gae-si
Minister Kang knew that Gwanghae would choose the throne over everything else, including people around him. Gwanghae was so disappointed to know that the person he trusted all these years turned out to be the one who made him sit on the bloody throne, but he wasn’t in a position where he could simply address her (and Yi-cheom’s) crime and sentenced her to death, because he would eventually be dragged into the matter too. At last, he chose the throne and spared the duo, but at the price of burying everything about the poison and that included killing people who might bring upon harm to them by knowing about the mission.
The pawn Gwanghae
He knew that there’s someone more powerful than him. He knew that there’s someone playing puppeteer behind the scene. He knew about that person’s intention, so Gwanghae was willing to become the pawn that person wanted him to be. At this point, Gwanghae had proven himself to be someone who put his duty as the king above everything else and for him to realize his dreams, he had to protect the throne at all cost, even at the price of forsaking his humanity.
I didn’t expect to see him go this early because I didn’t read the character description carefully, that he was supposed to die of sickness after his failure to save Yeongchang. That was according to the history (and another fun fact: his father’s name was Yi Min-sung) but he was killed by Yi-cheom in this drama. It was a decision made by Gwanghae himself, but Deok-hyung knew that Gwanghae would be able to achieve his dream despite their different paths at that moment. It could be said that Gwanghae was willing to use dirty ways of proving himself while Deok-hyung believed in the opposite. Although he ended up dying, I love how he managed to inspire the young Joo-won and also his surviving friends.
Joo-won, the hot-blooded teenager
He realized that Jungmyung’s body wasn’t found through the report of the explosion at the jetty, thus there’s hope that the princess was still alive somewhere else. That was smart of him, but he was probably acting out of anger when he confronted Gwanghae during the king’s royal procession and that wasn’t a smart move. He was lucky that Gwanghae only saw him as a powerless child and Joo-won was even challenged by the king to talk when he had the power to face Gwanghae.
Live the present, bury the past
Jungmyung completely gave up on everything and didn’t even try to save herself when she was about to be sold off. Lucky for her, Ja-kyung suddenly found a reason to help her and tried to send her away before she was sold, but she pleaded for Ja-kyung to kill her. Well, thank God he’s still sane enough to give her some advice, causing her to remember the reason she had to stay alive. Ja-kyung roped Maruno (by threatening the man, HA!) into giving Jungmyung a chance to work there and the man gave in to that boy’s wish. Jungmyung decided to put everything behind her and Ja-kyung gave her a new name: Hwa-yi the child of fire, a name which once belonged to his dead sister.
It’s the tenth year of Gwanghae’s reign, so it would be around 1618~1619. Gwanghae had officially founded the Directorate of Artillery and Queen Inmok had been sent to the West Palace, plus it had been 5 years since last episode.
Hwa-yi, the sulfur expert
Jungmyung had grown up to become a significant part of Maruno’s sulfur business because of her skills. Her hidden skills of telling the future was being put into good use since she could tell when the mountain would explode. Unlike the teenage her who didn’t even touch the roasted potato in the past, Jungmyung became Hwa-yi the big eater and even made Gu-bok surrender his meals to her in return for saving his life. They encountered a problem with the contaminated sulfur and had to sell it to the Joseon smugglers, but Jungmyung realized that they weren’t experts like Maruno initially thought. They were actually paid by Minister Kang’s man, who told them to dump all the sulfur they bought from Japanese traders to prevent Gwanghae from getting the sulfur supply.
The familiar faces!
I just want to express how happy I was to see them…Kim Kwang-gyu, Park Won-sang, Park Jun-gyu, and Jang Gwang! Athough we lost Lee Sung-min, I’m looking forward to these actors.
Directorate of Artillery and the ministers
Joo-won was already working as a government officer and his place of work was at Hwagi Dogam. I love how Gwanghae had came a long way since his failed attempt to produce gunpowder and he could brag about the directorate’s achievement in front of his ministers! He was full of sass and snide remarks, but the presence of Kim Ryu and Yi Gwi among the ministers reminded us of the things coming at Gwanghae soon. If you’re familiar with those sageuk about Injo, names such as Kim Ja-jeom and Kim Ryu might be familiar since they were the important figures behind Gwanghae’s dethronement and Injo’s rise to the throne. Maybe we will see Injo soon too…?
Joo-won and Gwanghae ❤
Oh my, I have never thought that I’d love this pairing more than anything else, but it could be because of their (almost) constant bickering! Gwanghae had never stopped challenging Joo-won and Joo-won, despite constantly gritting his teeth in front of the king, had never stopped showing progress in his work to prove his worth and achieving Gwanghae’s goal at the same time. He was reluctant, but the reason why Joo-won worked under Gwanghae was probably because of what Deok-hyung told him in the past. Am I the only one who could see Deok-hyung’s aspiration in his eyes? By the way, Seo Kang-joon’s eyes ARE pretty…
To Edo they go!
Jungmyung heard about Joseon envoys coming to Edo and decided to try her luck by going there, although it was said to be impossible for women to enter the city without permission. The so-called strict immigration point was put to halt to make way for the arrival of the envoys…and Jungmyung, who was caught cross dressing, was just released, free to enter the city in the process. Well..I will just consider her lucky then. Joo-won also joined the envoys under Gwanghae’s order to make a deal with the sulfur merchant, but Minister Kang won’t let Gwanghae have his way that easy..
The first encounter
Jungmyung, followed after Joo-won while he was on his mission to meet a sulfur dealer but Joo-won’s luck probably didn’t follow him abroad: he ran into criminals and Jungmyung had to rescue him from them. They escaped and exchanged their names, and Jungmyung knew that the young master who promised to protect her was right in front of her!
Episode 8 managed to raise the stake for me, and I’m really anticipating the upcoming episodes! Gwanghae’s arc was interesting but with Joo-won in the mix (and in direct confrontation against him!), it’s getting even better. I can’t wait to see how the Westerners would come to the decision to go against Gwanghae and I bet Minister Kang would play his part very well in fanning the flames, especially with Gwanghae’s ambition to be at least on par with Ming. Plus, I am also curious about Joo-won and Jungmyung, especially how they will be able to resolve their differences in the future.
I know that there are many doubts about Lee Yeon-hee and Seo Kang-joon’s abilities to carry out their roles but they’re doing good so far. Jungmyung has grown up to be a fearless girl, but she has not lost the fire in her eyes and the look she had when she was still a princess. I think Lee Yeon-hee is carrying Jungmyung/Hwa-yi’s persona well. Joo-won has my affection since he was young and I enjoy the fiery Joo-won, especially when he’s with Gwanghae. Since this is Seo Kang-joon’s first attempt in sageuk, I think he will improve but I like what I’ve seen of his portrayal of Joo-won so far.