Hong Gil Dong: Episode 11
And never let it be said I can’t give props when they’re due: Chang Whe gets quite interesting. Not only that, I actually care for once about which direction his character will choose to go.
SONG OF THE DAY
Izi – “먼 곳에서” (From Afar) [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Gil Dong, having pulled Enok out of harm’s way, keeps his hand covering her eyes as she asks who he is and why he’s helping her. Gil Dong slips away, hiding his face; Enok chases.
Rejoining Su Geun, they run off together to hide (Su Geun identifies her using his nickname for her, “Doe Eyes”). Unfortunately, Su Geun knocks over a barrel, which starts to roll, and Gil Dong stops it in the nick of time — but in so doing he’s caught in the open just as Enok arrives.
The following is HILARIOUS. I laughed out loud like a loon.
Gil Dong keeps his back to her, unable to answer because she’d recognize his voice. Su Geun therefore speaks for him, and the language he uses is absurdly flowery:
Su Geun (as Gil Dong): “Do not come any closer, young lass. Because of my circumstances, I cannot reveal my true identity.”
Enok: “Please tell me your name.”
Su Geun/Gil Dong: “In a fate as fleeting as the passing wind, what is the use of knowing each other’s names? Let us merely think of this encounter as briefly mingling our scents underneath the moonlight sky.”
[Gil Dong shoots Su Geun a frown. Enok sniffs the air.]
Enok: “But I don’t smell anything.”
Su Geun/Gil Dong: “This is as close as we come. Do not come any nearer and alight my chest with flames.”
Enok: “But I don’t have any fire.”
Su Geun: “Your gaze is like kindling that enflames a man’s heart. The fire has gone out, so like wisps of smoke, adieu.”
Enok: “Are you telling me to get lost, like smoke? O…kay. I’ll leave.”
Su Geun: “Farewell, Doe Eyes.”
Enok alerts at the mention of Doe Eyes: “Do you know me?” Su Geun fumbles to smooth over his mistake, and stutters, “Uh, I said, ‘Make sure to buy some glasses.’ Your eyesight seemed weak.” Note: His eyeglass line (ahn-gyung kkok sa-sheo) vaguely rhymes with Farewell Doe Eyes (ahn-nyung kkot sa-seum).
Enok accepts that answer and promises to pay him back for his help, then starts to exit. Su Geun feels sorry for Gil Dong, who can’t tell Enok any of the things he wishes he could, and calls her back to say:
“I’m sorry that I must turn you away without being able to show you my face. My circumstances prevent me from being able to involve myself with you. But I know I’ll wonder over your welfare. Please keep safe.”
In his mind, Gil Dong echoes the same words, as though he were speaking them to her.
Of course, the moonlit stranger captures Enok’s fancy. She tells her grandfather he seemed like a good person, saying he had a really good scent. (Grandpa deadpans, “For you to say that, he must’ve eaten sweet bread or chicken.”) Enok clarifies, “It was an ‘I love you’ smell.” (Grandpa: “So sweet bread AND chicken?”) Grandpa coins a nickname for her tall, gallant moonlit stranger dressed in dark clothing.
Chang Whe and his entourage witness a passing funeral procession for the girl who died escaping from Choi Chul Joo’s clutches. Her bereaved parents recognize Chang Whe and curse him for being responsible for their daughter’s death (via his association with Choi). The small boy dares to throw a rock at Chang Whe’s head, and although Chang Whe tells his men to let the family go without punishment, he’s affected by the accusation, which pricks his guilt. Gil Dong witnesses the exchange as a member of the funeral party.
Gil Dong sends Shim Chung to Enok as his representative. Chung informs her that he’s the one who’s keeping Choi’s boat (and the slave girls) from leaving, which impresses Enok. She wants to meet the man, but Chung says that’s impossible, so Enok asks her to pass along a message.
When Chung reports back to Gil Dong, Enok’s message makes Gil Dong and Su Geun burst out into laughter: “My best regards, Gallant Moonlit Black-Clad Sir.”
Enok moons over (ha, pun) her impressive Moonlight Man and wishes she could meet him, or be as cool. Grandpa Heo suggests she call herself Moonlight Shadow, spinning her off into a fantasy of being a skilled warrior and defeating Choi herself.
Gil Dong mobilizes the parents of the enslaved girls into action. Every day that the boat remains docked, Choi must pay a high interest rate to the ginseng merchant (Gil Dong’s disguise). Let Choi feel the pinch of criminally high interest rates while they do whatever they can to sabotage the boat.
The parents take turns jumping into the freezing water, night after night, to hack the hull and create leaks. Choi becomes paranoid and irrational, knowing he’s quickly accumulating interest fees, and orders his men to catch the culprits.
Chang Whe hears of Choi’s sabotaged boat and guesses that the parents of the girls are behind it. He becomes alarmed when Chisu says Choi is planning a trap to catch them that night, just as he spies Enok in the village.
But now, Enok feels uncomfortable around him, disillusioned about his character, and tries to hide. (I could mock her for her silliness, but how many of us have also wished that “if I can’t see it, it can’t see me”?) The way this scene mirrors their previous encounter (when Chang Whe bought her the chamber pot) highlights how things have changed: this time, she’s awkward, not flattered.
Enok has quit working at the merchant company, because it seemed pointless to continue. Chang Whe asks her how she feels about the parents’ futile efforts to delay the slave ship. Hhe thinks they’re wasting their efforts, but Enok defends them: “They’re doing it to protect their daughters.”
Chang Whe scoffs — protect them? They’re the ones who gave their children up in the first place. They don’t know what it means to protect. Enok argues, impassioned, eyes filling with tears:
“It isn’t that they don’t know what it means to protect. They’re just too weak — that’s why they couldn’t protect them. I lost someone dear to me, so I know how it feels. Because I was too weak, I couldn’t protect someone I cared for. I couldn’t go with him either. Do you know how painful that is? You say that because you’re so strong — you’ve never lost anything. You’re strong yet you do nothing — that makes you worse! You’re the one who doesn’t know what it means to protect.”
Applause all around for Enok.
Her words strike a chord in Chang Whe, although he actually CAN relate. He admits to Chisu how he felt about his mother: “I was too young and too weak. I knew I’d lose her, which made me want to protect her even more. But now… I think I’ve forgotten too much.”
That night, Gil Dong finds himself in a bit of a pickle — Choi has become suspicious of him. Two girls are brought out, and Choi threatens to throw them overboard (to act as warning to stop the vandals from continuing). That puts Gil Dong at cross-purposes — if he interferes, it contradicts his cover (a merchant would want his money, therefore he should let Choi act as necessary).
The girls scream for mercy, while Gil Dong struggles with himself — and just in the nick of time, a third party arrives: Chang Whe.
Chang Whe’s reason for preventing trouble mollifies Choi: Any incident Choi causes creates problems for the merchant company. The girls are not killed, but Gil Dong is forced to show his face — and is immediately recognized by Chang Whe and Chisu. Thankfully, for whatever reason, Chang Whe doesn’t blow Gil Dong’s cover, saying merely that they had dealt with each other in the past. And how.
Minister Hong requests a meeting with Enok to discuss the merchant company, and Enok tells him of the girls being held at their warehouse. She’s reluctant to name the merchants as complicit in the crime, saying instead that Choi Chul Joo is the guilty one. Minister Hong, who seems a good judge of character and a man of honor despite the crimes he’s committed, likes Enok — but her uncommon name rouses curiosity. He asks how she writes her name, recognizing it as the same name as the daughter of the murdered minister. Eavesdropping Grandpa Heo arrives at the same conclusion; furthermore, he recognizes Hong’s voice from the night Enok’s mother was killed.
Enok, however, knows nothing of this and is merely grateful that Minister Hong promises to investigate Choi. After she leaves, Hong sadly notes her resemblance to her slain father; Enok, likewise, sadly notes Hong’s resemblance to Gil Dong.
Now that Chang Whe’s aware that Gil Dong survived, he asks if he’s the one who coordinated the boat sabotage, and stole the executed palace workers’ heads. Why is he pretending to do business with Choi? Gil Dong retorts: “Why, are you gonna help if I tell you?”
Gil Dong muses over Chang Whe’s involvement, conceding that Chang Whe helped those girls so can’t be completely on Choi’s side. What’s he up to? Chang Whe answers in kind: “Why, are you gonna help if I tell you?”
Here’s where I like Gil Dong’s approach to the problem — you may wonder, why doesn’t he just plan a physical attack and save those girls by force? Why doesn’t he do some secret-agent ninja voodoo and rescue them himself? Instead, Gil Dong is allowing the parents to do the work themselves. He’s helping, of course, but the parents will be responsible for their own actions. They’ll get their daughters back themselves.
Gil Dong doesn’t intend to ask for Chang Whe’s help, but he wants him to stand by and watch as the parents reclaim their daughters: “One who wants to become king should protect his people.”
There’s a brief interlude as Grandpa Heo wonders to Hae Myung about something he heard of in China that could induce memory loss (uh oh, foreshadowing!). He wishes he could somehow use it on Enok, because he’s uneasy having identified her mother’s killer.
And then, the water freezes, keeping the boat moored with no further chance of removal for China.
Gil Dong sets the next phase of his plan in motion, and now we can see it for its cleverness. Not only did he set the stage for rescue, he set it for a legal rescue.
Gil Dong takes back the premium ginseng from Choi, now that Choi can’t leave to sell it in China. The bandits then return the ginseng to its original owner — they never intended to steal it for good; they just needed to use it in their plan.
Then, Gil Dong gives Choi’s debt bond (for the ginseng interest) to Shim Chung’s blind father. Shim claims to have won the IOU in a gambling round, and intends to collect the debt from Choi. The parents will use Choi’s debt to pay off their own and reclaim their daughters.
Choi complains to the magistrate, claiming he was the victim of an elaborate con. The magistrate will honor Shim’s claim to the debt if he can prove he won it fairly, to which Choi taunts him — how can a man do that when he can’t even see his own daughter? That angers Shim — “I CAN see her!” — and by some force of will, he pries his eyes open, and his sight is restored.
So Choi has lost his ginseng, his claim to the daughters, and thus any future income from selling them. Enraged, he orders his men to use explosives to break up the ice so they can sail away, because remaining at port makes him a sitting duck. Driven beyond reason, he orders his men to take care of Enok, per his instructions from Lady Noh.
News travels fast, spurring several courses of action. Chang Whe’s merchant company faces exposure by association with Choi. Gil Dong and Minister Hong realize that Chang Whe’s company bought explosives, and the latter deploys royal guardsmen to the pier.
Ice now broken, Choi readies to set sail, which throws the parents into a frenzy as they haven’t been able to reclaim their daughters yet. They grab the ropes of the boat and hang on, preventing its departure. Choi’s men beat the men and women to get them to let go, which turns into a brutal mess because the desperate parents refuse to relinquish their holds on the ropes. (And nobody thought to CUT the rope from the boat? We’re working with some dim bulbs here.)
Both Gil Dong and Chang Whe find themselves in an awkward position, because while both would like to interfere with Choi’s insanity, that would expose them to danger. Neither can risk it, particularly with the authorities on their way.
So Chang Whe proposes to work together. Chang Whe will go to the dock and release the girls, if Gil Dong will hold off the guards.
Gil Dong agrees. The bandits stake out a position to intercept the authorities.
Chisu and company subdue Choi’s men at the pier, while Chang Whe takes on Choi himself. Chang Whe gains the upper hand relatively easily, and okay, he looks kinda sexy with his grim determination here. Yeah, I said it. If only we could do away with his cheesy black guyliner.
Choi threatens, “You shouldn’t kill me if you want ‘that girl’ to live.” Alarmed, Chang Whe demands to know what he means, just as Chisu deals the deathblow to Choi. Dying, Choi says, “Ask Lady Noh” before Chang Whe lets him fall overboard. Yay for eliminations of one-dimensional stock villains!
To her credit, Lady Noh tells the truth and admits that she did order Choi to do away with Enok (“for his own good” — it’s always for someone’s own good), and Chang Whe dashes off to find her.
Eun Hye hears of the dock explosions instigated by Choi, and worries for Gil Dong’s safety. Her nanny holds her back: “It’s dangerous! What can you do if you go out there?” Eun Hye answers, “I don’t know! But what if he’s hurt?” and rushes out. Say what you will about the girl, her immediate and sole concern is for Gil Dong’s safety, and that makes her all right in my book.
The bandits are vastly outnumbered by the guardsmen, but they do a decent job holding them off, employing some kind of smoke bombs to obscure sight and keep the authorities at bay. In Hyung, being the coward that he is, he keeps himself well out of the fray.
Minister Hong arrives at the scene and looks through the haze and smoke at the skirmish — and he spies Gil Dong when his hood briefly falls down and exposes his face. Then the bandits retreat to the village, where they hide and drop their smoke bombs to keep the guards confused.
That same haze interferes with Chang Whe’s search for Enok. He scans the smoky surroundings, reminded of the burning palace in which his mother died. His desperate worry grows and he tells himself, “I can’t lose her again…” (um, does that hint at Freudian issues?). Just then, Enok appears from out of the fog, oblivious to Chang Whe’s panic — and he grabs her in a sudden hug.
He’s overcome with relief; she’s startled. He says, “I thought I’d lost you,” and as he regains his composure, he spies Gil Dong over her shoulder. Gil Dong hasn’t seen either of them, but Chang Whe is taking no chances — when Enok tries to turn, he purposely grabs her back in a hug to keep her from seeing Gil Dong.
Unaware, Gil Dong walks away, and Chang Whe tells Enok, “I don’t want to lose you.”
Yeah, Chang Whe sucks for his last move, but at least I can understand it. I hope they don’t make him EEEEVIL — because I’d like to see a love rivalry occur on a level playing field. Chang Whe should be strong enough (based on his own integrity) to fight for her legitimately, and if he can only win her over using underhanded techniques, then they are doomed to fail anyway.
Something tells me Episode 12 should be interesting!