Hong Gil Dong: Episode 13
Hmm, interesting. Chang Whe — evil or cunning? Good, bad, merely Machiavellian?
The story structure has taken on an interesting pattern, which I think works well for the series — every three or four episodes, each mini-arc comes to a resolution and a new one is launched. It’s not a pattern common to most kdramas, although not completely new — Air City did the same thing not long ago, but poorly. Thankfully, the construct works much (much!) better here — it was horribly disjointed in Air City — and most importantly, although the mini-arcs are somewhat self-contained, the overarching storyline is constantly progressed. Gil Dong’s development, the romance(s), Chang Whe’s slow evolution — all are in a constant state of motion, which is much appreciated.
SONG OF THE DAY
Mystic Puzzle – “Love Train.” Great debut group that reminds me of House Rulez with their mix of electronic beats, hip-hop, and catchy upbeat melodies. [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Enok confronts Gil Dong, and after confirming he really is alive, rushes at him, sobbing in relief. She’s so overcome with her emotions that even after some time she still can’t stop her tears, and keeps one hand clutching his sleeve for fear he’ll disappear on her.
To prove he’s real, Enok even bites his hand. At his yelp, she sniffles, “I’m so glad it’s not a dream. Gil Dong, I’m sorry — so sorry that you were living all this while and I didn’t look for you.” Gil Dong says he pretended to be dead so she wouldn’t look for him, and tries to tell her sternly that they can’t meet anymore, but every time he starts his speech, he’s interrupted — first she’s afflicted with hiccups, then nausea, then has to rush to the bathroom.
My take on why Gil Dong didn’t run from her this time: Aside from the fact that she’d already seen him, it seems like he wanted her to find out he was alive. Intellectually, he knows she’s safer believing him to be dead, but their separation wears on him too, although he tries to accept it as the right thing to do. I think he assumed she’d recover from the loss quickly. Having never known love of any kind — the best he could hope for was the barest hint of approval from his detached father — he’s the guy who craves love but doesn’t believe he deserves it, so he keeps her at a distance thinking he’s the only one who’s suffering. So he’s always surprised when Enok is so free with her affections. Ah, twoo wuv.
Now that Grandpa Heo is convinced that Gil Dong’s father killed Enok’s mother all those years ago, he tries to find out more about Enok’s true identity. He asks Merchant Wang about Minister Hong’s friends and connections, sussing out who Enok’s family could be. Merchant Wang warns Grandpa Heo that Hong’s a dangerous man, citing rumors that Hong was the one who killed the crown prince and queen in the palace fire.
Enok returns from her bathroom break, ready to hear what Gil Dong has to say, but finds he’s gone. Instead, Su Geun is there to give her Gil Dong’s message that he’ll find her later, as she’s too upset to listen clearly right now.
Enok hears from Su Geun that the bandits knew Gil Dong was alive — he’s one of them now — and asks who else knows. Hae Myung, Chang Whe, and even Eun Hye knew. With dismay, she realizes she’s the only one who didn’t know, and Su Geun hastens to reassure her. Unfortunately, in a poor choice of words, he tells her, “People who don’t mean anything don’t know.”
At home, Enok frets — why did Gil Dong allow everyone else to know he was alive but her? She tries to rationalize the situation, imagining Gil Dong’s explanations. Hae Myung is his longtime Buddhist priest, so that’s understandable (Imaginary Gil Dong: “Because he’s important”). He’d worked together with Chang Whe to bring down Choi Chul Joo and free the enslaved girls, so that’s understandable, too (once again, Imaginary Gil Dong tells her: “Because he’s important”). As for Seo Eun Hye… Enok’s imagination conjures up Gil Dong smiling at Eun Hye and saying, “She’s pretty, so she doesn’t need a special reason. Because she’s important.”
Miserably, Enok comes to the conclusion that she, then, was not told because she was NOT important. She must not mean anything to him.
If only she could see Gil Dong at the moment, because he’s ever so romantically staring, wistful, at the ragged pouch she’d made for him. He tells himself, “Even though I’m alive, we still can’t stay together.” Not only is his life dangerous, his group of bandits — named Hwal Bin Dang, the kind robbers — is becoming more famous, lauded by villagers for stealing from the corrupt to help the poor.
Hwal Bin Dang’s rise in popularity makes the merchant company nervous — on one hand, they can draw the thieves in as allies. On the other hand, the thieves may also implicate the merchants and draw them unwanted attention. Lady Noh is wary, but Chang Whe tells her: “Hong Gil Dong has moved the people. I saw that power for myself.”
Enok’s mopiness continues the next day when she meets Chang Whe, who asks why she’s so down. She tells him about meeting Gil Dong, and assures him that she’s not upset that Chang Whe didn’t tell her, since it wasn’t his secret to tell.
Enok: “I’m so glad that Gil Dong’s alive. I’m happy, but… I’m also really sad. I know he has to live in hiding, and that he couldn’t let me know he hadn’t died… But if the priest knew, and you knew, and that girl too… he might’ve told me too. I must mean far less to Gil Dong than I’d thought.”
Chang Whe hesitates for a moment, not sure which direction to go, but his better side emerges and he tells her, half-reluctantly:
Chang Whe: “You really aren’t perceptive. It’s not that you mean nothing. It’s because the opposite is true. You’re important to him, to the extent that he would force himself to give up his selfish desire to keep you by his side.”
That relieves Enok — “I’d wanted to think that was true, but I had no confidence.” She perks up and thanks Chang Whe for saying so.
Eun Hye prepares to meet Gil Dong for their monthly rendezvous, having spent days making a pouch as a parting gift. She asks her nanny what she supposes Gil Dong would say if she were to cross the line completely, giving up everything to be with him. She intends to ask him tonight, which horrifies her nanny — as well as her father, who overhears from outside her door. He determines that Eun Hye’s scenario will never come to pass, hiring Lady Noh to dispose of Gil Dong for good. It’s a ballsy move for Minister Seo, ordering his colleague’s son killed, even if he’s illegitimate. But on the other hand, if Eun Hye does run away to be with Gil Dong, Hong will be offended anyway because she’ll be jilting his other son. (Because clearly jilting is a greater offense than murder!)
It’s with crushing disappointment that Eun Hye is met with Gom instead of Gil Dong. He brings a message from Gil Dong: “The end.” She asks where he is, and Gom answers that he’s meeting someone very important.
Gom spies the pouch and comments on how pretty it is — much better than the Dummy’s. Eun Hye asks what he means, and Gom cheerfully answers that there’s another rag-like pouch made by some dummy. She guesses that it’s Enok (Gom confirms the name), and when Gom offers to convey Eun Hye’s pouch to Gil Dong, she clutches it and refuses, saying, “No, then this will look even more pathetic.” After Gom leaves, Eun Hye sits alone in the deserted barn, crying. Aw.
Gil Dong arrives at the merchant agency armed with a request — he has no desire to cultivate Hwal Bin Dang’s notoriety, and asks Chang Whe to keep his name quiet. Chang Whe guesses correctly, “You must want to keep your name quiet for your father’s sake. If his son were to come back from the dead as a chivalrous bandit, it would be quite a blow to him.”
Furthermore, he warns Gil Dong (and I’m not sure if he’s being sincere or trying to manipulate him):
“Your father abandoned you, but you can’t do the same. If you don’t cut ties with your father, you’ll spend the rest of your life hiding as a dead man.”
Gil Dong counters: “Aren’t you the same, a dead man in hiding?” Chang Whe says he’d let his brother see that he was alive: “I’m different from you. I may have wandered from my path enough to warrant your warning, but I know where I need to go.”
As Gil Dong leaves, Lady Noh wants to dispose of him now while they can, but Chang Whe stops her: “I want to use him for a bigger purpose.” Dun dun DUN!
It’s sweet, in a sad way, that Enok harbors no ill will against Gil Dong for pretending to be dead (blaming herself instead for not having recognized her Moonlight Man). When he arrives at their previous meeting spot, prepared to explain himself, she tells him happily she doesn’t care: “You’re alive, so everything’s okay.”
The light mood turns serious when Gil Dong tells her that they can’t be together or meet anymore. She tries to tell him not to worry about her, but he’s firm. Enok tells him that he’s just come back to life and now he wants to leave — she can’t process it all. He tells her that she’ll understand with time, to take it slow and go at her own pace. Taking this as reassurance, Enok tells him that for the time being, until everything sinks in, she’ll assume everything’s okay.
You know, Minister Seo might be a decent guy if only he had some spine of his own. But he’s so predictably manipulable. Lady Noh, operating under Chang Whe’s orders, cultivates Seo’s fears that Eun Hye will remain devoted to Gil Dong. One way to fix the mess is to tell Minister Hong about Gil Dong and have the father reel in the son. And so, Seo goes to Hong and lets him know of Gil Dong’s non-dead status as a member of the band of robbers. Hong, much shocked by the news, gravely contemplates his options.
Chang Whe looks forward to Gil Dong’s impending predicament, noting that the last time the father was employed to capture the son, the son “died.” He smiles and wonders, “What will happen this time?” Will he die for good, or rise again and oppose his father? (Has Chang Whe turned eeevil? Or is this mere sadism?)
Also addressing the father-son issue:
Hae Myung: “Now it’s time to face things head-on. Stand in front of your father and say, ‘I’m your son. The world that disallows this to be is in the wrong.’ Can you say those words? Gil Dong, as a dead man you cannot take on the world. But, as the world you must face as a living man is your father’s world, you must be afraid to step forward.”
Grandpa Heo isn’t happy to hear that Gil Dong’s alive, but he can’t tell Enok his true reason — that the circumstances of their parents have made them enemies — so he pretends he just hates Gil Dong for hurting her. Enok, still deluded in her happiness to have him back, cheerfully says everything’s okay.
Enok makes a delivery to Eun Hye, oblivious of Eun Hye’s feelings towards her (and Eun Hye’s feelings towards Gil Dong). Eun Hye asks if Enok met Gil Dong the night before, remembering Gom’s comment that Gil Dong had gone to meet somebody very important. To her dismay, Enok answers yes, then happily thanks Eun Hye for protecting Gil Dong’s secret, and assumes Eun Hye’s engagement to Gil Dong’s brother was the reason for her kindness. With her trademark lack of perception, Enok is somewhat bewildered by Eun Hye’s cold dismissal.
Crazy Kwang Whe scene. Kwang Whe notes to Minister Hong the similarity of their circumstances — he with his younger brother, Hong with his son. Hong reminds his king that he’d cut off his links to his friend and his son for the sake of his ruler: “And I would do it again.”
Alone, Kwang Whe rambles on insanely about the similarities between himself and his subject, and wonders how Hong will handle his situation.
The answer? Hong (again) sets out to capture his son.
Hong sets up an elaborate ambush. The bandits plan to hit a new target, but Gil Dong alerts to something suspicious about the setup. Something’s wrong.
Soon the bandits are surrounded by the king’s army and vastly outnumbered. After putting up a brief fight, the thieves flee —
— but in the process, Gom is caught in a trap. Yeon, attempting to free Gom, gets caught as well. Gil Dong watches futilely, wanting to go after them, but is forced to retreat.
Gom, Yeon, and the other captured bandits are paraded through town on their way to jail, and news travels quickly that they’re members of Hwal Bin Dang.
Enok is attempting to pry the whereabouts of Gil Dong’s hideout from Hae Myung when they see the jailed bandits. Hae Myung has been telling Enok that she’s too innocent and knows too little of the world, because she still doesn’t grasp the gravity of Gil Dong’s position.
Enok watches the bandits being transported and wonders why they were caught. Hae Myung asks her:
“They’re thieves. Did you never worry of them being caught?”
In the crowd, as Enok spies Gil Dong watching the procession grimly, Hae Myung continues:
“Enok. This is the road Gil Dong stands upon. Did you decide to join him? If so, you may be caught anytime, just like them. Or you can become like him, watching along from the side. Gil Dong stands over there. Can you stand by his side? What will you say if you go to him now? Would you tell him to abandon them and run away? Or would you tell him to die in saving them?”
Back at headquarters, Su Geun seethes, itching to rush into rescue mode. Gil Dong, equally angry but calmer, holds him back and tells him they must find a way to save their men and survive. It’s no use if they all die in the process.
Meanwhile, Minister Hong bides his time, sure that Gil Dong will come to him.
Lady Noh is of the same opinion, and beseeches Chang Whe to kill the captives to silence them before the merchants are endangered by association. Chang Whe intends to use them, however, for his own purpose…
Minister Seo tells Eun Hye about Gil Dong’s fate, attempting to put an end to her infatuation by informing her that Gil Dong will die. Stricken with fear, Eun Hye begs her father to save him, but he refuses to help.
Reacting similarly is Enok — because the truth that had eluded her has finally sunk in. Now she realizes that her happy mantra — “Everything’s okay!” — is far from true.
Gil Dong approaches Chang Whe, spurred by desperation and the misguided notion that Chang Whe is an ally.
Gil Dong, however, is unaware of all the other motives brewing under the surface, focusing on recovering his men. Hwal Bin Dang can execute the rescue if Chang Whe will help them. Chang Whe asks:
“Do you know who they’ve captured? Rather, I mean there’s someone who’s using them to capture you.”
Those ominous words stop Gil Dong short, and Chang Whe clarifies:
“It’s your father. I can help you — if you will fight him.”
(Clever clever, in a diabolical sort of way! Chang Whe sure has no qualms about using people as though they were his chess pieces — pawns to be sacrificed at a whim — all expressly made to serve him, as though people have no purpose in life but to fight his battles. And perhaps that’s what he does believe.)
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 12
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 11
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 10
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 9
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 8
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 7
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 6
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 5
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 4
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 3
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 2
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 1