Drama Recaps
Hong Gil Dong: Episode 9
by | January 30, 2008 | 39 Comments

Episode 9 kicks off what seems to be phase two of the drama. The previous political intrigues and conflicts are still here, of course, but we introduce a few more elements and move forward into the next stage of the hero-making lore.

Oh, and Gil Dong gets a haircut. He’s still rocking the perm, though. Must mean his transformation is only half complete.


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Gil Dong’s legend grows after his supposed death, fed by people like Grandpa Heo, who uses a vastly embellished retelling of Gil Dong’s early life to draw in customers and sell them medicine. (His fictionalized version starts with Minister Hong having a lucky dream, which convinced him to hurry and conceive a son — who, being rebuffed by his wife, turned to a servant. Thus Gil Dong was born and became a model of competence, despite his ignoble birth.)

It’s been a year since we left off — yep, a year! — and normal life has resumed. Enok is especially excited because the ship from China arrives today, and rushes to greet its passengers. Namely, Chang Whe.

Chang Whe has returned from trying to locate a trafficker of explosives. Despite being unsuccessful in that endeavor, he’s relaxed enough to crack a smile at Enok’s enthusiastic welcome. He’s also brought back a new cobra for her to charm, per her request, which she receives excitedly.

In the intervening year, widespread rumors of Chang Whe’s existence have grown, but he’s still biding his time. Lady Noh asks him, “Are you still concerned about his [Gil Dong’s] question?” Chang Whe answers yes, because he’s been unable to find a clear answer to the question of why he must be king, if he can be king at all.

The sword, now in Kwang Whe’s possession, is occasionally used to accessorize his feverish monologues. He wonders, “What sword will you wield when you come to kill me?”

As for our hero…

Gil Dong is fully integrated into the bandit gang, who now target corrupt officials and raid their ill-gotten riches, then distribute them to the poor citizenry. This latest party is ambushed as they travel through the forest.

The bandits keep their headquarters in a remote mountain settlement. While Gil Dong leads the raids, Su Geun is still officially their leader.

In a storyline I wish the Hong sisters would lay to rest (it’s too cheesy, even in the context of kitsch), Enok thrills over her new cobra and thanks Chang Whe profusely. She invites him to her performance, where she anticipates raking in lots of money.

Chisu notices a change in his master, mentioning that around Enok, he looks more at ease: “It’s good to see you looking like that.”

But the cobra escapes from its container and slithers outside Enok’s room. Everyone freaks out and attacks the snake, which has slid under a tablecloth (low on production budget, KBS?), and their stomps kill it. And although I’m generally okay with Sung Yuri overacting, in this scene I could swear she’s fighting back the urge to burst into laughter instead of supposed tears. Or maybe the bit just doesn’t sit well with me, since she genuinely bawled over Gil Dong’s death just one episode prior. To immediately follow that scene of true grief with this goofy sobfest of the parodied kind merely highlights the difference. (Ergo this scene seems even stupider.)

Hae Myung drops by Bandit Village and receives news of their latest raid with glee (“Serves them right!”). He looks at the lazily sprawled Gil Dong, thinking:

“On one hand, it looks like nothing’s changed, but he continues to change. Bit by bit, your name will grow.”

Hae Myung fills Gil Dong in on news (his tips help the bandits coordinate their ambushes) and warns him to be careful because talk is spreading that the thieves are targeting a particular road. Hae Myung asks leadingly, “Is there anything else you’re curious about?”

Gil Dong maintains his cool and answers no; Hae Myung tells him, with meaning, “Everyone’s doing well.” They both know he’s referring to Enok, though they never mention her name. (Gil Dong tells himself, though, with a half-smile: “So she’s doing well. That’s a relief.”)

Ministers Seo and Hong confer. Seo has heard whisperings that Chang Whe may still be alive and wonders about the fate of the disappeared daughter (Enok) of the man Hong killed. It is now generally believed that Gil Dong had conspired with Chang Whe in the attack last year, and Seo worries, wondering if all three might still be alive somewhere. See, the man CAN hold a sensible thought when he’s not preening over his own self-importance!


Seeing Enok moping over her dead snake, Chang Whe offers to drink with her to cheer her up. Enok is hesitant to call them friends because of the difference in their positions (she calls him a “very high person”), but Chang Whe smiles and says:

“You don’t have to see me in that way, since I don’t see you as a lowly person. Strangely, you’re… comfortable.”

Enok berates Chang Whe for not remembering to do everything she’d suggested he do while in China (mostly food-related, naturally). Chang Whe suggests she go back to China — he can send her there on business — but that suddenly kills the mood. Enok stammers that she doesn’t want to go to China — she’d planned on going before and things didn’t work out. Chang Whe picks up on her sudden mood shift and notes, “I see, he’d asked you to go with him.”

Enok can’t stop her tears, and embarrassedly puts on Gil Dong’s cracked sunglasses to hide them. She excuses herself and hurries outside, where she quietly sobs to herself, remembering past times with Gil Dong.

At the same time, Gil Dong holds the bloodstained pouch Enok made for him, thinking similar thoughts. Enok had returned the pouch to Hae Myung, who in turn gave it to Gil Dong to either burn or keep. Gil Dong muses to himself, “I still… can’t bring myself to burn it.”


And now for the new Big Bad.

A girl runs through the woods, bound and battered, chased by her captors. In the morning, the thieves find her corpse in the woods, and guess that she must have run away to escape being sold into slavery. Gil Dong notices a peculiar bell worn around the neck, which must have been used so the guards could hear her. But who could be so evil?

It’s this guy, Choi Chul Joo, a mean ol’ bastard of a moneylender and general all-around skeeze. Angered that the girl got away, he orders his men to grab the girl’s younger sister — if the elder cannot serve as recompense for a debt, the younger will have to. No matter that the girl is merely thirteen years old: “Thirteen is still female, right?” That’s just a tremendously creepy line.

The younger sister is seized in the village; Chang Whe observes from a distance. Chisu informs him that when people cannot pay back their loans, the loan shark sells off the men as slaves and the women as prostitutes.

The same moneylending group advertises their services in the village, which Yeon and Su Geun overhear with disgust. With the lenders’ corrupt practices, the loans are almost always impossible to repay. They witness a girl arguing with the lenders, who accuses them of taking advantage of her poor blind father.

Su Geun is shaken at the sight of her, and spins into a flashback of a girl who looks just like her. He follows her home, where her blind father calls her Chung in what must be a reference to the famous folktale of Shim Chung (who sacrificed herself into the sea to save her father’s sight and is touted as an example of filial piety; the story was also reimagined in the lighthearted two-episode fusion sageuk Story of Hyang Dan).

As an errand runner for the merchant group, Enok delivers a package to Eun Hye (who’s still engaged to In Hyung, who’s now passed the military service exam). Their tone is civil, and Enok inquires about Eun Hye’s frequent temple-going, to which Eun Hye smiles and answers, “It’s fun. I enjoy it.”

Because, of course, she isn’t going to the temple. She’s going to meet Gil Dong in Banditville.

Nobody’s particularly happy at Eun Hye’s repeated visits. Mal Nyeo, firmly on Team Enok, grumbles that Eun Hye’s so sly and coy. She prefers Enok’s straightforward “I love you” approach. Yeon asks what that means, and she answers, “It’s something that ends incredibly sadly.” Oh Hong sisters, aren’t we pessimistic. I hope this is a mere joke and not a case of foreshadowing. I may have to hurt something if it is. Such as you.

Eun Hye and Gil Dong chat — he’s impatient, she’s undeterred. He clearly finds these visits unwelcome, but he endures because she can always threaten to turn him in. At one point, Eun Hye imperiously orders Gil Dong to lay large stones across the shallow water so that she may cross without wetting her feet. Annoyed at her attitude, Gil Dong grabs her, lifts her and deposits her on the other side of the shallow stream.

He yells, “What’s your problem? I met with you because you made it a condition for keeping our secret, but this is ridiculous!” He tells her to end it now, and stomps off. Unwilling to relinquish her hold over him, Eun Hye insinuates that she’ll turn him in for the recent raids: “I’ll be the one to decide when we stop meeting. You just do as I tell you.” She caps it off by telling him to take her back to the city. After all, there are bandits everywhere.

Back at merchant headquarters, Lady Noh meets with Choi Chul Joo, and the two come to an agreement. Lady Noh will provide him with a means of storing his “cargo” and shipping it to China, and he’ll supply them with their explosives.

Coldly pragmatic Lady Noh sees nothing wrong with the arrangement, but Chang Whe’s conscience is pricked. He doesn’t like the idea of mixing business with such an unsavory character: “So in order to get what we need, we must pay quite a dirty price.” Chang Whe thinks back to the young girl taken from her family to be sold as a whore.

The girl who is, at the moment, being kept in one of their own storerooms, bound, with a bell around her neck.

The bell worn by her dead sister, on the other hand, is in Gil Dong’s keeping. He delivers Eun Hye to the capital and looks around the marketplace for similar bells, hoping for a clue. Eun Hye’s curiosity turns to jealousy when Gil Dong answers that it has to do with some girl, and it’s none of her business.

He departs coolly as Eun Hye orders him to remember their next meeting in a month. After he goes, she says disappointedly, “I didn’t mean to send him off on such bad terms.”

Eun Hye reminds me of little boys who don’t know how to express their emotions productively and therefore resort to tormenting the little girls of their infatuations, and for that I can’t dislike her despite her commanding air. She can’t control Gil Dong the way she wants to — which is exactly why she likes him, paradoxically — so she pulls out all the stops, stooping to whatever means she can employ to gain his attention. The attention she does gain is negative, since it only irritates Gil Dong further, but she doesn’t know how to turn it positive and is too afraid to let go of him for fear he’ll leave her forever. O, immature love.

Eventually, Gil Dong does track down the shopkeeper who sold the particular bell to the moneylender — a hundred bells, actually. So Choi must’ve abducted that many girls.

Minister Hong advises Kwang Whe, who’s staring yet again at his shiny stolen sword. Kwang Whe says that Chang Whe has hidden as well as a ghost: “But he’s less frightening than a dead ghost. From the day I discovered my brother was alive, I’ve slept better.” Hong, ever the voice of reason, reminds him: “Even more frightening is public sentiment. Please take more care regarding the people’s lives.”

Kwang Whe goes off on his own tangent — gotta meet the scene-stealing quota of the day — and wonders when he started losing his mind. He decides it must have been when his father had the sword made for Chang Whe, for the express purpose of killing Kwang Whe, in the name of preserving the royal line. (Yeah, that’ll screw you up.) He’s all manic energy and repressed hysteria. The guy should do Shakespeare.

But back to Shim Chung.

Gil Dong notices Su Geun following Chung, and wonders at Su Geun’s fixation. She’s awfully young, even for his pervy self. But Su Geun reveals that he has no romantic intentions — Chung merely reminds him of his younger sister, who was sold off to pay for his debts when he’d broken his leg. Unable to save her, she eventually died, and now he wants to help this girl in whatever way he can. To that end, he’s brought food and supplies, intending to leave them at her home.

As irony would have it, just at the moment that Su Geun is explaining the circumstances, the girl is accosted by Choi and his men, who have come to claim her. She doesn’t have the money to repay the debt (borrowed in an attempt to recover her father’s sight), which has multiplied tenfold in mere months, and is dragged off.

Su Geun arrives too late, and rushes off to rescue her. But he’s unable to take on all three men by himself, and he’s beaten (rather easily, I must admit). Chung is dragged away.

Back in town, Enok realizes she’s misplaced Gil Dong’s sunglasses, and goes back to the warehouse hoping to find them. It’s after hours, and she was told that she wouldn’t be allowed in once the new merchandise arrives, so she plans to sneak in through the back door.

What she isn’t prepared to see is a storeroom crowded with tied-up scared girls.

Chang Whe arrives at the inn and is told by Grandpa Heo that Enok stepped out to retrieve something from the warehouse. At that, Chang Whe realizes Enok is unknowingly heading into danger, and rushes off to find her. (There’s a lot of rushing this episode.)

Injured, Su Geun stumbles back to headquarters. He pleads with Gil Dong:

“They… took her… Save… her…”


This episode was entertaining, but it also seemed rather contrived. It’s awkward to have established such a fast-paced, smooth flow to the series, then to screech to a halt, only to pick up a new storyline. The momentum had been propelling us so nicely through the end of Episode 8, but now we’ve skipped forward, and not entirely elegantly.

It was nice to see Chang Whe smiling for once, but it seems odd for his character to be so at peace when he still hasn’t figured out the answer to That Big Question, and has gotten little closer to his ultimate Kill Kwang Whe And Take Back My Throne goal. Also, although I find some overacting to be tolerable in a quirky series like this, there was just TOO MUCH in this episode.

I’ll be happy to see things settle down in the following episodes, since round two is now well under way.


39 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. smiley6yrl

    wow, im the first poster! anyways, thanks Javabean for bringing us ep 9 of HGD! I’ve been dying to see the screen shots of ep. 9! and although I havent watch’d ep.7 and 8 yet, it seems like those eps were really good. I can’t wait to catch up to you on those eps!

    sorry if im a bit off topic,
    but i would like to thank Withs2’s members for bringing us the eng subs! without you guys, we wouldnt be able to enjoy this great series! THANK YOU~!!!

  2. La Plume

    “Oh Hong sisters, aren’t we pessimistic. I hope this is a mere joke and not a case of foreshadowing. I may have to hurt something if it is. Such as you.”

    Haha ^^
    Thanks for the summary ^^ Is it just me or do you also think JGS has a duck smile? I mean fees unatural on your screencap…
    And yes I don’t like the “one year later” part…

    And I’m first for once, though there’s absolutely nothing interesting to say ^^

  3. yeli

    “Oh Hong sisters, aren’t we pessimistic. I hope this is a mere joke and not a case of foreshadowing. I may have to hurt something if it is. Such as you.”
    ^ i am with you on that one…i will be very angry if they do not have a happy ending…

    in any case, i enjoyed reading your summary, as always…I can’t believe it is now a year later! i guess it makes sense so that the love triangles/squares will become more complicated because now Gil Dong and Enok are spending so much time apart and will develop a relationship with the other members of the love triangle/square…Why doesnt he just tell Enok??!?! the other girl knows anyways! just tell her already! lol…

    hope she finds out on the next episode XD
    Thanks javabeans!

  4. doozy

    Thank you, javabeans! Although I agree that the transition to the new storyline isn’t as smooth, it’s interesting because it lets us learn more about Su Geun.

    About Gil Dong and Enok, does the preview show anything about them meeting each other in the next episode?

  5. betchay

    Thanks Javabeans! I did enjoy this ep.
    So many funny scenes.

  6. lotusflower

    I hope that the series will pick up speed like it did from the last few episodes. The Hong sisters probably setting the new plot with this beginning it will just establish everything for the rest of the series. I can’t wait for the love triangle to go underway no matter how cheesy it is! Hehe!

    Thanks for your summaries as usual! Can’t say it enough! Thanks!

  7. hjk

    ^^ Ditto. I may also have to hurt something.
    This episode was a little slow, but after almost dying from HGDWS (Hong Gil Dong Withdrawal Syndrome – *credit: alynizzle*), I’ll take ANYTHING! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Javabeans!!! You’re spoiling us with these super-fast recaps.

    It WAS good to see some emotion from Chang Whe, but I agree, it seemed a little out of place. “duck smile” LOL! I like his smiling in the Black N Jean commercial better (more smirk, less goofy) – it makes me want to reach out and ruffle his hair and say “Yah, kkomengyi!”(Hey, kiddo!). I just want to see him lose his temper in episode 10!!

    “He’s all manic energy and repressed hysteria. The guy should do Shakespeare.” Haha. Kwang Whe is still a hoot. MacBeth or Hamlet?

  8. alynizzle

    Thanks for posting! This was ultimately the highlight of my day!

    Yeah, the time skip does create some awkwardness in the flow of the story, but I hope it’s all smooth-sailing from here!

  9. jinkzzmec

    thanks for the recap javabeans..i was in the middle of watching episode 9 but decided to read your recap first…i’m with you…if we dont get a happy ending, i may have to to break something …hehehe

  10. 10 javabeans

    hjk, i was thinking King Lear (“Blow, winds!”) but Macbeth or Hamlet would work too. Anything insane.

  11. 11 bethany

    i think it’s… fake foreshadowing. to scare us. riiiight!

    i guess with 24 episodes this is bound to happen~ new storylines and ways to make everyone meet again, complicate everything a bit. the character development seems kind of hurried though~ with smiles coming from the stone-faced and the seemingly innocent rich girl becoming manipulative and prissy.

    oh well, thoroughly enjoyable. the speed of your posts reminds me of coffee prince days!

  12. 12 Skangrrl

    “Oh Hong sisters, aren’t we pessimistic. I hope this is a mere joke and not a case of foreshadowing. I may have to hurt something if it is. Such as you.”

    You slay me. ROFMLAO.

    I agree about the pacing. And the odd tangent it seems to spin off into. And I just cannot like Eun Hye at all. She aggravated me from day one and I almost have to resist fast forwarding every time she comes on.

    What about Titus Andronicus?

  13. 13 Berz

    lol Javabeans! I too hope thats not a line where they’re foreshadowing the ending!
    Oooooo the warehouse is the nxt scene for action!!!!! =) that means all 3 characters will encounter each other right?! D= I hope… Thanks again Javabeans!

  14. 14 sarahbelle

    My goodness, you are fast! Thank you for the lovely treat, reading this is the perfect way to finish up my evening. 🙂

    Funny thing — the Shakespeare comment? I had the exact same thought during episode 7. He has a very stagey presence, I guess.

  15. 15 peppertutu

    Just curious. Can you help to translate the words on the snowman?

  16. 16 hachiko

    Thank you for the review! I can’t wait to see this eps. Yeah I think it’s quiet fast-paced episode. But I think they try to get the important thing from this story, since the story is quiet long rite.
    Ah I can’ wait to let Enok see Gildong who still alive!!!!

  17. 17 hjk

    peppertutu, it looks like it says “Gil Dong”
    but is he suddenly going to change his style to include long nose hair? Please, spare us!

  18. 18 YM

    Wow, you have no idea that i have refresh the page for so many times just to wait for the episode 9 summary. I was reading the soompi thread and i notice that a lot of ppl mention that Gil Dong have pretend to be a noble man and saw Enok.Izzit for the ep10 preview or is episode 9?Cause i never see you summarize that part i guess thaty part must be in ep 10.
    Thank you javabeans for the brillant summary that you provide for Hong Gil Dong..

  19. 19 Sunset

    Thanks for the recap! I have resisted trying to read the spoilers…BUT i am weak……I read & re-read everything!! 🙂 I am not pessimistic about the ending though…cos GD & YN do end up together right? ( as per opening scene in esp 1). :)) Having said that, I still want the story to along the way to be exciting…I really don’t want it to end up draggy in the middle of the show. I hope they do explore the other minor charaters like they did in esp 10.

  20. 20 cammylim (from singapore)

    hi l from singapore !! l been waiting for thie serial for so long !!l very like the male actor ( hong-gil dong) he so cool in this haircut !! n so good looking in this outfits,make him so handsome !! my eye cant get out of him!! hee.. !! bye the way where is episoded 10?? l still waiting !! l heard some news that this serial rating not that good?? only 15% korea friend see this serial ?? is that true?? for me this is a very good serial!!

  21. 21 teokong

    Thanks for your recap, Javabeans. A kdrama without a time-skip wouldn’t be a kdrama. Whatever it’s I enjoy watching HGD. Looking forward to your next summary.

  22. 22 estelle

    No offence, but Singaporeans write way better English than that. Anyway, great summary by Javabeans as usual! You really brighten up my day (or night, for that matter). =)

  23. 23 AThinker

    You definitely have me looking forward to this show (I wasn’t before)

  24. 24 Kiongna

    My Kids are loving this drama, so am I as we are all entertained. We keep laughing together they happen to join the bandwagon at the Episode where Enok was in the river shitting? peeing? And Gil Dong thought she was missing and tried to save her and went into the river and got so disgusted at the thought that the pee/shit touched him and later the WET taffy eating…so we all had a great laugh and ….they now have firmly tagged their minds that Wed & Thurs nights @ 9p.m. – Hong Gil Dong time.

    …..eldest kid asked “mum – what type of drama is this…old day time or now now type….(means Saguek or modern) – I hoh didn’t know how to answer….I said hmmmm FUSION olden day type – …aigoo then came “what is FUSION”…bummer..I knew she would ask that…..I don’t think I gave her a good answer…for I said it is like an olden days drama but got rap and “golf” & country club one?….LOL

  25. 25 peppertutu

    hjk, thanks for the translation.

    cammylim, if you don’t mind reading chinese subs, you can find Hong Gil Dong series here http://www.youku.com/playlist_show/id_1194099.html
    It gets uploaded the next day (every thurs and fri) after it’s being aired in Korea.

  26. 26 K

    This episode was a cliff hanger. I want to watch the next episode really bad. I think after one year, Enok and Chang Whe got closer. Enok views Chang Whe is a respectable person in a higher position, but Chang Hwee views Enok in a warmer sense. He’s probably forming an unrequited love for her right about now. I could see the disappointment on his face when she asked, “We’re friends?” It’s a new facial expression to add to his sparse collection of emotions. I also saw a bit of the same look on his face when she was crying about Gil Dong. It’s quite sad.

  27. 27 folledingedekdrama

    Hello JAVABEANS,

    my message have nothing to do with this HDG series. I would just like to ask you, if ever you happen to know why “mysoju.com” site suddenly becomes inaccessible but i had been on this site this morning ( its night time here now ).

    thanks for your responce then…

  28. 28 Nicole

    true…this was a bit of an overloader but i still loved it. I can’t wait for the next episode.

  29. 29 choleng

    dramabeans! thank you so much! i have been reading your post since you were anticipating hong gil dong and even when it wasn’t available to me, i’d read the spoilers. then 2 days ago, i found out we finally have it in kbs world! yipee! so needless to say, i think i was more excited than usual coz i’ve read how much you like it. most of the time. 😉
    however, i’m going home temporarily where there is no kbs world which means i am going to miss episodes 4, 5, and 6. 🙁

  30. 30 Jo

    how about lady macbeth “Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!”

  31. 31 choleng

    estelle Says:
    January 31st, 2008 at 7:18 am
    No offence, but Singaporeans write way better English than that. Anyway, great summary by Javabeans as usual! You really brighten up my day (or night, for that matter). =)

  32. 32 jules

    Thanks for the summary! I really liked this episode and I still think Sung Yuri was great!!!

  33. 33 Sue

    Haha, I didn’t notice while watching the episode but now I see that it says 길동 on the snowman 😀

    and even though CH smiled i found it very very awkward and unsettling to see.

  34. 34 all4movies

    At least Gil Dong’s hair is looking slightly better. I really didn’t think that curly mop of hair his was very flattering. It kind of made him look chunky at times.

  35. 35 azerjaban

    I love Chang Whe’s quiet emotions, and even the out of character smiles in this episode. Keep in mind it has been 1 year, a year with a girl like ‘Enok’.

    Lol, I laughed at just the image of her trying to get him to buy her a cobra.

    That first scene makes you think they got together in that year, but when you realized it was the cobra she wanted… well as Chang Whe put it,

    “I know she wasn’t here for me, but don’t you think that was too much?”

  36. 36 gyengao

    Dramabeans, I have a very silly question, one that I wouldn’t normally bother anyone with, but all of my Google searches have been completely fruitless and I don’t even know what alternate search terms to try anymore.

    In the scene in this episode where Chang Hwe and Enok are at the gisaeng house, they’re drinking liquor from a long-necked vessel (you can see two of them on the table in this photo). Do you have any idea what that porcelain vessel is called??? Thank you so much for any help you can give me.

  37. 37 jani

    i found it funny how they led you to believe that enok was rushing to the dock to see the chang hwe but in reality it was all about the snake ^_^
    you notice how most of the main characters have their bangs falling in their face?

  38. 38 Yu Mi Rae

    am pissed he keeps meeting that eun hye when he hasn’t contacted yi nok for a year !! ugh

  39. 39 A-M

    Lear/MacBeth/Hamlet…seriously don’t think the Usurper King would be out of place in any of them. His theatricality is great!

    And gotta give JGS props for emoting some, right? I’d like to think in a year of being around her he’s comfortable enough to smile even w/o figuring out “the big question.”

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