Hong Gil Dong: Episode 15
You know what we haven’t had in a while? A feel-good episode. It’s nice to have one — and a chance to breathe — in the midst of all the Sturm und Drang of the previous episodes.
Plus, I really liked Chang Whe in this one. (Shocking?) I don’t know if he’ll continue along this line of development, but I’m really digging where this is headed. Naturally, I really liked Gil Dong this episode too, but that’s hardly a surprise.
SONG OF THE DAY
Toy – “투명인간” (transparent man) with Lucid Fall [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Gil Dong arrives at the king’s secret chambers, expecting to see Mal Nyeo — the two have planned to find the sword in the short time they’re both there. Chang Whe has informed Gil Dong that the sword should be in this building because the king is too paranoid to keep it in the main palace.
After his initial shock over Enok’s presence, Enok signals her encouragement, and Gil Dong gets on with the plan. Knowing Kwang Whe’s obsession with Chang Whe, Gil Dong baits the king by saying he knows where the prince is hidden. Thus the king is distracted enough for Enok to survey the area for the sword, while Gil Dong works on cutting through his ropes with the blade slipped to him by the guard.
Kwang Whe turns it into a sort of game — he gets to ask five questions of Gil Dong. His questions give evidence to his own insecurities (“Is he like me? Has he killed people?”), which grow as Gil Dong answers favorably of Chang Whe: “He does his best not to kill but protect instead.” The king reacts to memories of his younger brother with a mix of fear, hatred, and guilt, even hallucinating that Chang Whe has come to challenge him in the flesh.
Kwang Whe’s position is actually pretty sad — he wasn’t just a power-hungry usurper, but acting in self-preservation as much as anything. Had Chang Whe lived, Kwang Whe would have been killed instead; in a matter of one of them needing to die, he took the first shot.
Gil Dong witnesses Kwang Whe’s descent into mad babbling with disgust, seeing for himself how weak his ruler is. He takes the king to task:
“If you’re the king, you shouldn’t have let your insecurity as an illegitimate son drive you to kill your brother and into insanity. You should have changed the world for the better.”
Gil Dong goads the king, telling him his brother is worthier than he is: “He hasn’t let his mind go like you have. He’s deliberating carefully over the reason he must be king.”
Enok, busily searching for the sword, startles when the king utters Chang Whe’s name, realizing the dead prince is the man she’s known all this while. Luckily, just as the king runs out of patience with Gil Dong, Enok finds the sword.
Immediately, the king calls for his guards. Enok grabs the sword and throws it to Gil Dong — who uses it on the king just as his guards rush in.
In order to secure Enok’s freedom, Gil Dong dangles a proposition in front of the king — does he want to see his long-lost brother? He’ll tell him where to meet Chang Whe if he lets Enok go. Intensely curious, Kwang Whe has Enok released.
Gil Dong tells her to run away, then angles himself toward the exit. He gives the meeting location as Chang Whe’s tomb, then escapes.
Together, Enok and Gil Dong run through the palace’s hidden tunnels and evade the guardsmen scouring the grounds for them.
Chang Whe confirms with Hwal Bin Dang that Enok was the gisaeng sent to the palace. The bandits shrewdly point out that Chang Whe had only cared about recovering the sword, at any cost; therefore he shouldn’t have a problem with Enok going in as a last-ditch replacement. Ooh, burn! Looks like he’s finally learning about the pitfalls of his Machiavellian strategizing, and not a moment too soon. He forces himself to believe that “If Enok’s with him, she’ll be safe.” He also decides to meet the king, figuring that it’ll give Gil Dong and Enok more time to escape, and heads for his tomb.
Finding temporary safety within a palace building, Gil Dong takes a moment to unleash his anger on Enok — how dare she put herself in such danger? Enok protests that everything worked out in the end, but Gil Dong can’t get over their near-miss: “What if things didn’t work out?!”
Running out of things to find fault with, Gil Dong insults her appearance, saying how silly she looks, “wearing stuff that doesn’t even suit you!” Enok bristles: “Mal Nyeo said I looked pretty!” Gil Dong, too upset to think about his answer, retorts, “It’s because you look pretty that I’m even madder!”
Gil Dong immediately catches his blunder (“I mean, the clothes are pretty”), but it’s too late, Enok’s overjoyed. He thinks she’s pretty!
The two brothers finally meet outside the tomb Kwang Whe had built after Chang Whe’s supposed death. The reunion leaves the king trembling in disbelief, and it’s interesting to note that the king views his brother with a combination of fear and affection.
Kwang Whe: “How did you survive? Did you work together with Hong Gil Dong? Are you a thief too?”
Chang Whe: “He’s not just any thief. He’s someone who fights all the dirty things you’ve created in this world. He may be wandering right now, but he will face you and fight your world in the end.”
Kwang Whe: “Hwal Bin Dang? How funny. A thief saves the poor?”
Chang Whe: “Brother, you have no right to sneer at one who saves the poor. You are the one who made him — because the world you made is poor. The poorer you make your people, the bigger he will become.”
I particularly love how, in a nice bit of parallelism, both Chang Whe and Gil Dong have stood up for the other. Despite the conflict inherent in their positions, they recognize the strength in the other, and have come to cultivate a grudging respect for each other.
Eun Hye tries to visit Gil Dong at the palace again, only to hear he’s escaped. The guard mentions a female accomplice, which makes Eun Hye wonder at her identity, leading her to Enok’s room at the gisaeng club. Just as she’s outside the door, she overhears Grandpa Heo in a discussion with Hae Myung, worrying over Enok. He can’t let Enok’s relationship with Gil Dong continue now that they’re enemies — he wishes he knew which family Enok belonged to.
Curiosity piqued, Eun Hye asks her father for information and fills in the blanks, learning that Enok was from a well-known noble family, having been born Ryu Enok.
Gil Dong and Enok complete their escape from the palace by dressing up in guards’ clothing. They’re met by Lady Noh and her men, who ask for the stolen sword. Playing it safe, Gil Dong tells her he’ll hand it over when they’re safe.
So, Enok and Gil Dong are taken away in a palanquin, hidden from the guards who are hunting them down. Fireworks are lit to indicate to all relevant parties that Gil Dong has made it safely out of the palace.
Enok particularly enjoys the sight — “It’s like they’re congratulating us for escaping!” While Gil Dong isn’t nearly as impressed, he takes the opportunity to put his arm around her and hold her closely, gruffly making the excuse, “It’s crowded in here.”
Chang Whe rushes from his meeting with the king to their meeting place. All are relieved that the plan succeeded, but Chang Whe’s bigger concern is for Enok’s welfare.
When he finds Enok safe and sound, it’s all he can do to contain himself. While the bandits congratulate Gil Dong, Chang Whe struggles to regain his calm. Gil Dong agrees to hand the sword over once he and his gang have made it home safely, and despite Lady Noh’s protests, Chang Whe agrees.
Enok wants to go with Gil Dong — to Chang Whe’s disappointment — but Gil Dong tells her to go back for now, with the implication that she can join them later. He praises her for doing well today, and sends her off.
In a flash of masculine possessiveness (ah, male egos), Gil Dong tells Chang Whe keep Enok safe. Chang Whe answers, “I would even if you didn’t tell me to.” Gil Dong, determined to have the last word, adds: “And don’t feed her too many crackers.”
Back at the merchant agency, Chang Whe apologizes for putting Enok in a dangerous position. Now that she knows who he is, Enok has awkwardly switched to honorific speech, calling him royal highness, but Chang Whe doesn’t want her to treat him any differently (“Because of you, I could laugh for a brief moment. Don’t take that away too”). She says she’ll try to act as she did before she knew his identity, then congratulates him for a job well done.
Gil Dong meets with Chang Whe to hand over the sword, and strangely enough, this was BY FAR my favorite scene in the episode. After some friendly pleasantries, Gil Dong tells Chang Whe, “The palace was really nice. Later when you’re king, be sure to show me around.” The implication is clear — Gil Dong now supports Chang Whe’s drive to become king.
Gil Dong: “As far as kings go, you’re better than our current one.”
Chang Whe: “You’re not so bad yourself. I could give you an official position.”
Gil Dong: “I don’t need that. Instead, make a world where it’s possible for someone like me to have a government position. Don’t become king because the sword says you’re the blood heir — but can you become a king who’d protect those like us who want you to rule?”
Chang Whe: “Can those words be the answer to your question of why I must be king?”
Gil Dong: “Like I said, you’re better than your brother.”
Chang Whe: “What will you do from now on? If you’re going to fight head-on, you can’t continue as you do now.”
Gil Dong: “If I want to avoid dying, I’ll have to grow stronger.”
Chang Whe: “I’ll help you.”
Gil Dong: “Things have changed. We’re the ones helping you now.”
Gil Dong walks off with his usual swagger, and Chang Whe notes to himself:
“Gaining him is a greater strength to me than even this sword.”
Seriously? Pretty cool, right?
Not feeling the love is In Hyung, who’s learned of Eun Hye’s feelings for Gil Dong; his ensuing hatred is almost overwhelming. He tells his mother, “I hate him so much I want to kill him,” and seems to honestly mean it. Gil Dong has stolen his place in the hearts of the two people he wanted love from most: his father and Eun Hye. He goes so far as to pledge his loyalty to the king and promise to rout out Gil Dong and kill him. The king feels an affinity with him — they’re both men threatened by their more capable younger brothers.
Kwang Whe appoints In Hyung police chief in charge of bringing down Hwal Bin Dang. Far from being proud, however, Minister Hong wisely tells In Hyung that the position is too much for him to handle. In Hyung has made his decision, though, and is determined to capture Gil Dong and show his father. Ah, give an incompetent man MORE power — smooth move, Kwang Whe.
Gil Dong prepares Hwal Bin Dang quarters for Enok’s arrival, cutely ordering changes to ensure Enok’s utmost comfort. Yeon asks what Gil Dong will do if Enok decides not to come, but Gil Dong refuses to entertain that possibility and assures him that she’ll come.
Yeon counters: “She can stay with the merchants. It’s comfortable there, and [Chang Whe] treats her well. She knows he’s a prince too.” Gil Dong insists, “There’s no way she won’t come!” — but his last-minute uncertainty is adorable.
Enok says her goodbye to Chang Whe before heading to Hwal Bin Dang’s mountain headquarters. Now that she has a purpose, she feels empowered — when she had no power to do anything, all she did was cry and feel sorry for herself.
He’s saddened and hurt by her departure, and disappointed that she still hasn’t figured out for herself how he feels about her. When Enok promises to visit him, Chang Whe tells her he’d rather she didn’t. With her customary lack of perception, Enok assumes he’s uncomfortable now that she knows his identity, and wishes him happiness. With great reluctance, he bids her goodbye, and convinces himself, “I can return to how I was before. I managed fine before she came along.” (Oh, Chang Whe, you’re not fooling anyone.)
Arriving at Hwal Bin Dang, Enok witnesses Gil Dong giving a rousing speech to his followers. He tells them their lives will change soon — their enemy has become much more powerful, and their work will become more dangerous. He gives them the chance to leave, but his closest comrades (Su Geun, Mal Nyeo, Yeon) assure him that they’re with him all the way.
Gil Dong: “We’re Hwal Bin Dang — saving others, and saving ourselves too. The name’s a little cheery, but hey, it’s cool! I don’t know how much our scope will grow, but we’re in this together — till the end!”
Mal Nyeo teases Enok about her feelings for Gil Dong, but Enok is feeling insecure. Hearing Gil Dong’s speech, she realizes how noble the others are, and in comparison, she feels embarrassed for having had such a simplistic view of things. But she assures Mal Nyeo that although she came mostly to be with Gil Dong, she also intends to become one of them — “I’ll just think of Gil Dong as the leader!”
Mal Nyeo wonders if she can, being in looove with him and all, and Enok says she decided to get over her romantic feelings. Mal Nyeo doesn’t buy it for a second. Neither do we.
And so, when Gil Dong comes to see her, she rushes to assure him that she didn’t come to be with him. She’s merely here as a Hwal Bin Dang member.
Enok: “If you want, I’ll call you leader too, like Gom does.”
Gil Dong: “Really?”
Enok: “Yeah. L-leader.”
Gil Dong: “Leader?”
Enok: “Gil Dong, I think of you as a really awesome leader. The Gallant Moonlight Black-clad Stranger was respectable, but I can respect you too.”
Amused, Gil Dong smiles and asks, “Really? You can just respect me?”
Enok steels herself and tells him, “I can do it.”
He makes a sudden swift advance — his sudden nearness catches Enok off guard — and asks her if she means it. Gil Dong swoops even closer, leaning over her and bending her backward —
“Even if I do this?”
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 14
- Hong Gil Dong: Episode 13
- 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