Hong Gil Dong: Episode 12
Got to give a girl her due: Sung Yuri did a great job in this episode. When a character is as over-the-top as Enok (the eating, the joking, the goofiness), it’s always a danger that the real emotional moments don’t resonate. But she’s manages to switch between jokey cheer to pretty convincing sobs, somehow making the transition work.
We’re also halfway through the series. How will things continue? No clue!
SONG OF THE DAY
T-Formation – “I Wanna” [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Chang Whe stuns Enok with his sudden hug, purposely keeping her from noticing Gil Dong. Gil Dong, who doesn’t see them, rejoins Yeon and Gom, although the latter is experiencing some sort of traumatic episode. Although they haven’t yet explained the source of Gom’s periodic mood swings into near-catatonia, it looks like we’ll probably be exploring that topic soon enough.
At the pier, Lady Noh faces Minister Hong, who arrives to inspect the bloody aftermath. Unfortunately for Hong (fortunately for Lady Noh), every single one of Choi’s men has been killed, meaning there’s nobody to question about Choi’s explosives. Lady Noh offers her apologies — but there was no time, and they were forced to act quickly lest Choi get away. Hong is forced to accept her explanation although he doesn’t buy it.
Gil Dong continues through the village, only to run into In Hyung. Ever the coward, In Hyung has commanded his troops onward, then stepped back to avoid the fighting. In Hyung commands the hooded stranger to stop, and Gil Dong hesitates — how to escape without showing his face? — just as someone smashes a jar over his brother’s head.
It’s Eun Hye, who’s arrived frantically looking for Gil Dong, fearing for his safety. Gil Dong’s reaction is partly grateful, partly alarmed that she’s put herself in danger. Furthermore, if she’s caught associating with a thief, no good will come to either of them.
In Hyung starts to stir, so Gil Dong grabs Eun Hye and runs — but they’re soon cornered by guards. After a moment of hesitation, Gil Dong does the best thing he can think of —
— which is to take her “hostage.” It keeps her safe and out of suspicion, and allows them to make a retreat. It’s kind of sweet that as Gil Dong is again made into the villain, Eun Hye holds his hand in a gesture of affection.
They take temporary shelter in an empty barn, where Gil Dong sees that Eun Hye has injured the foot that has lost its shoe, cut on a broken shard.
She downplays the injury, but he feels guilty that she was hurt because of him: “How could you run on this?” Her: “Because I thought running quickly would get you out of danger.”
While Gil Dong tends to her bloody foot, he drops the pouch Enok had made for him. Eun Hye notices.
In the village, Enok asks a calmer Chang Whe what that was all about. What did he mean, losing someone? Why did he hug her? She wonders if he was worried since she’s been upset with him lately. He admits it, to which she assures, “That wasn’t because I hated you, it was because it seemed like you were making a mistake.”
Chang Whe tells her that the incident with Choi has been settled, and all the girls returned to their families. She congratulates him soundly, proud of him. Chang Whe asks if she’d been accosted by any strange people. Enok: “How did you know?”
Some men had tried to attack her earlier, when her grandfather knocked on her door. They told her to send him away, so Enok replied that she was resting, feeling full from having overeaten. Grandpa then barged in and displayed some of his heretofore hidden fighting skills, informing them, “My granddaughter has never once in her life been full!”
Enok tells Chang Whe not to worry; she mentions her tall moonlit helper as an example of her good luck. Based on the description, Chang Whe realizes it’s Gil Dong, but Enok tells him the man couldn’t reveal his identity to her. Chang Whe tells her, “Since he hid his identity from you, I don’t want to tell you.”
Minister Seo hears of Eun Hye’s disappearance from her doddering old nanny, who says that if she’s with Gil Dong, at least she’ll be safe (aw, the nanny gives Gil Dong credit, even if she’s the World’s Worst Chaperone). That doesn’t alleviate Seo’s anxiety: “If she was kidnapped, it’s trouble. If she followed because she likes him, even more trouble.” How can he find his daughter quietly, without bringing attention to the issue? If only there were some sort of sneaky, discreet organization with high-placed contacts who could find her for him…
Which takes him to Lady Noh. Who is not pleased to hear that Gil Dong is alive and that Chang Whe engaged his help to block the guardsmen. She blames Gil Dong for thwarting their plans, although really, it was Chang Whe’s doing this time. Your wooden little puppet is cutting his strings and becoming a real boy.
Gil Dong finishes bandaging Eun Hye’s foot (longest – bandaging – sequence – ever) and tells her to be more careful. He tells her she only thinks this is fun because she’s never been truly hurt.
Eun Hye: “It’s true, I’ve never been hurt. It’s because I’ve never involved myself in anything before.”
Gil Dong: “Now that you know what happens when you do things you’ve never done before, don’t act like this again. Just live as you have. The reason I’ve let your actions go before is because you knew which line not to cross. But today, you crossed that line.”
Eun Hye: “I was so worried for you, I couldn’t do nothing.”
Gil Dong: “That’s crossing the line. You can’t go any farther. Go back to your side of the line. You’re smart, so you should know well.”
Eun Hye: “Yes, I know.”
Gil Dong: “Then go home now.”
Eun Hye: “Hong Gil Dong. Because of you, I was injured for the first time. But being hurt because of you is okay.”
Gil Dong: “Is it because you’ve never been hurt badly enough that you have no fear?”
Eun Hye: “I’m afraid of being hurt. If I don’t want to get hurt, I should quit.”
Gil Dong: “Don’t come by anymore.”
Eun Hye: “Come here on next full moon then. For our last time. If I’m to return to my side of the line for good, I have to have a final time. I’m not stupid, so afterward, I’ll go back to my side.”
Gil Dong is gentle but firm, and frankly, I dig Eun Hye’s maturity in handling the situation. I really like the exchange, because it’s a mature discussion between two people who see reality, even if they don’t like it.
Enok realizes how little she knows about Chang Whe and asks him questions — she has no idea what he does, or even his name. He answers that she shows him around today, he’ll tell her his name. And so they spend the day eating at food stalls, browsing, wandering the village. The fuzzy-focus scenes tell us it’s supposed to be cute and romantic.
Shim Chung is sent to convey the gratitude of all the girls the bandits saved. She addresses Su Geun by the formal word for “older brother” (as his sister had called him) which moves him, giving him a sense of closure about her death. And while I thought Lopsided or One-Balled Bandit was an amusing enough nickname, Gil Dong clearly one-ups me — he’s notes that Su Geun’s become more emotional ever since he’s become “Half Geun.” HA!
Chung mentions that the villagers’ name for the bandits: “Hwal Bin Dang,” which refers to the group’s status as defenders of the poor. They like the sound of it — it’s cool — and even Gil Dong, who acts nonchalant on the outside, is moved.” Poetically, they’ve been given a name by the people, and it’s as though that gesture has solidified them into a true group.
At the end of the day, Chang Whe honors his promise and tells Enok his full name — but she must not say it aloud, or tell it to anybody. Enok is flattered when he explains why he told her: “The thought that you know my name makes me think I can live my life more honorably.”
Hesitantly, Enok asks if he’s come to care for her. She’s not sure because she lacks awareness (intuition), but his actions today seem to support that idea. Chang Whe smiles, and tells her cryptically, “For someone lacking awareness to have caught on to that extent, that means I’ve been quite…” He trails off, then tells her to follow her intuition. Enok wonders what the hell he means.
Regarding his latest actions, Chang Whe assures Lady Noh:
“It’s not that I am doubting. I’m simply looking for a way out. If I don’t do so now, later when I realize I’ve taken the wrong road, I will have lost my return path. Right now, more than searching for an exit, I must search within myself.”
Meanwhile, Grandpa Heo eagerly thinks of marrying Enok off to him, and brings her one of the gisaeng’s hanboks so she can appear more ladylike. Enok: “How can the Moonlight Shadow wear a skirt?”
Belatedly, she remembers Gil Dong’s lost sunglasses, and asks Chung about them, who tells her she used the broken glass to cut through her ropes. The rest of the glasses must still be back in the warehouse. Enok starts to rush off, despite Chung’s cautions that she should wait until morning. Chung remarks, “You’re just like he described — you really will rush headlong into things.” That stops Enok short — “him”? Does that mean her Moonlit Man is someone she knows?
Gil Dong and Su Geun are the last to leave their temporary shelter, having sent the bandits home one by one, and Su Geun takes the opportunity to propose some fun: they can dress in their upper-class clothes and visit the gisaeng house. (Gil Dong: “Think you’ll be okay, Half Geun?”)
Just then, Enok crashes in, sending Gil Dong into hiding.
She demands, “Did you think I wouldn’t know because I’m stupid? I should’ve figured it out back then!” His Doe Eyes comment should’ve been clue enough that he was the bandit leader.
Confirming that it is Su Geun, Enok greets him happily, and the two settle for a night of drinks and catching up.
Eun Hye has resigned herself to retreating to her former life, and offers no resistance at a hastened wedding. (Minister Seo worries that Gil Dong will spoil the marriage plans and thus ruin relations with Minister Hong; he hires Lady Noh to dispose of Gil Dong.)
In Hyung’s devoted worry brings him to Eun Hye. But having witnessed his cowardice in the village, her opinion of him has dropped even lower. When In Hyung foolishly vows to catch the villain who took her, Eun Hye’s disdain, added to her resignation over giving up Gil Dong, prompts a cold reply:
“How? You have no fighting skills, no wisdom, nor even the courage to step in. Just continue as you have, quietly, hiding in the back.”
It’s harsh, but deserved. I really do feel sorry for In Hyung here — he wasn’t suited to be a soldier (becoming a guard because he wasn’t smart enough to become an official) and is hanging in there the only way he knows how. Just as Gil Dong’s competence had always been restricted by his illegitimate birth, it’s as though In Hyung has been similarly restricted by being forced into positions he is incapable of handling.
Remembering how Gil Dong held onto his battered old pouch, Eun Hye decides to learn how to sew one to give him at their last meeting. She wonders sadly, “Will he treasure it?”
As Enok and Su Geun reminisce, Gil Dong watches from the sidelines. Su Geun accidentally slips and mentions Gil Dong’s name, but Enok doesn’t grow suspicious, saying merely, “I know he’s dead.” She assures Su Geun that she’s fine: “The living have to keep living.”
She describes working for the merchant company because of her friendship with Chang Whe, and I love Gil Dong’s sneer (above pic) in response to Enok’s description of Chang Whe as “that good-looking gentleman.” Enok admits that she thinks Chang Whe has feelings for her. Su Geun asks about her reaction to Chang Whe’s hug — Gil Dong leans in intently for her answer — but she changes the subject. (Su Geun sighs, “You’ve fallen for him, Doe Eyes.”)
A few drinks later, both tipsy now, Su Geun tries to cut the night short, but Enok asks him to stay a little longer. She likes talking to him because it reminds her of old days: “It feels like Gil Dong’s with us, like before.” Su Geun: “So you do still think of him.” Enok starts to tear at that: “But I shouldn’t think of Gil Dong. I forgot again.” Su Geun thinks it’s okay for her to think of him from time to time, but Enok shakes her head, crying: “It’s not good for me to think of Gil Dong. If I do, I can’t keep living.”
Enok: “I wouldn’t be able to sleep or eat, I’d just keep crying. I wouldn’t be able to tell if this was a dream or reality, and I’d see Gil Dong everywhere. No matter how I called out that I wanted to go with him, he’d just disappear without a word. Then I’d wake, and cry… I really couldn’t live on. In order to continue living, I decided not to think of Gil Dong anymore. What could I do? It’s not like he went hunting tigers or someplace I could go with him… Then as days went by, there’d be days I didn’t think of him. That’s how I lived. But… because I’m such a dummy… sometimes I forget that I shouldn’t think of him. When that happens, it hurts so much… that I can’t continue living. I wish my heart could become foolish too.”
In Hyung, reeling from Eun Hye’s coldness, gets so drunk at the club that a gisaeng asks for Grandpa Heo’s help in seeing him home. Seeing Minister Hong at home, Grandpa is struck again with the sense of familiarity, and all doubt is erased when he speaks — Hong is the man who killed Enok’s mother. He is their enemy.
As Gil Dong watches Enok sleep, she awakens briefly and sees him looking at her. But, sleepily dazed, she assumes it’s a dream, and murmurs, “Gil Dong… let’s go together…” before falling asleep again.
Chang Whe admits to Chisu:
“I didn’t tell Enok about him. Saying I had no reason to reveal a secret he’d taken care to hide is just an excuse. In truth, I couldn’t tell her because I knew that if she met him, I’d lose her.”
I have to say, I love the composition of this shot — they’re in the same space but there’s distance between them, and even the frame divides them with the hanging curtain.
As Enok awakens, Gil Dong leaves. Thinking she dreamt it all, she wanders over to where Gil Dong had been sitting, and touches the wall — only to find it still warm.
Confused, she wonders — “Was he really here? Was it not a dream? It wasn’t a dream!”
She races outside in time to see Gil Dong walking away, his posture familiar. She calls out, half in disbelief: “It’s not a dream. Gil Dong, it’s you, isn’t it? It’s really you!”
He remains silent, though he looks like he’s about to burst into tears. He turns to face her.
Enok: “It’s… really you. But this isn’t a dream. Or is it?”
Gil Dong: “It’s not a dream.”
Enok: “Then… are you a ghost?”
Gil Dong: “I’m not a ghost either.”
Enok: “Then… is it really you?”
Gil Dong: “Dummy.”
I wonder if this will be a turning point for both Eun Hye and In Hyung. It’s no secret I like both of them perhaps more than I ought, but they’re such great, complex characters. And like Eun Hye said, she’s a smart cookie — when she decides to give Gil Dong up, she’ll do it. So will something change her mind, or does she perhaps marry In Hyung anyway? Never could two people be so mismatched and doomed to make each other miserable. Except perhaps Minister Hong and his wife, and we know the results of that: one pathetic coward of a son. But maybe it’s in the genes.
By sheer virtue of the fact that there are twelve episodes left, I must believe that our main couple’s happiness cannot be long-lived. I get this. But please — can’t they just have one happy episode? Or just one date. Or one measly happy scene. When you have two characters with chemistry who SO CLEARLY WANT to be together, how can you keep them apart for long? Now that’s just cruel.