Pictures credited to Luv, who is awesome. 😀
I have discovered that less sleep = easily scared Sevenses. Not sure how that works – but my point is, sleep well before you watch this series. Not that this episode was scary either, but I really really hate the dark.
SONG OF THE DAY
Biuret – “오늘밤은 잠든 후에도 곁에 있어줘” (Stay with me after I fall asleep tonight). “I don’t want to be alone tonight / Stay with me after I fall asleep / I don’t want to be alone when I wake / Hold my hand after I fall asleep tonight…” [ Download ] – Thanks to bambooshoots for the replacement link!
Episode 3: Curse of the Sajin Sword
It’s the dark of night, again, and two brothers separate at the door of their forge, happily anticipating the tidy haul their work will bring them. The elder runs off to the privy (aka bathroom/washroom) with his lantern but is chased down by a red-eyed ghost woman. The man leans against a wall during his flight and is consumed by the cosmic forces of darkness. (Props to the production team for getting a really scary soundtrack.)
The next morning, a pair of guardsmen (the purple one is higher in status) are summoned to their boss’s office, where he tells them that a blacksmith has died in a village near the capital. Homicide cases like this aren’t that special, but they have orders directly from the king to investigate the circumstances of his death. The two guards know something’s up, and are told that he was the one in charge of making a sword for the royal family. Sekrits. Yay.
In fact, the matter is so important and all-encompassing that a group of priestess witches have also gotten involved, to the chief detective’s ire. He is polite in her company, however, and introduces himself as Yoon In. She returns the courtesy, and tells him her name is Mu Ryeong.
Yoon In gets into the detecting right away, asking her about the sword in question, and at first she does the mysterious priestess only gives orders thing… but then she reveals that he was forging the Sajin sword (remember from HGD, anyone?) – made in the Sa year, month, day and hour, it’s for the special use of the royal family.
She also explains that the sword is for cutting down evil things which pose a danger to the royal family and by extension the country. Yoon In is quite the skeptic (for his time) and jokes that it’s just a prop during ceremonies, but Mu Ryeong gets annoyed at his flippant attitude and walks off.
The three do set out for the village right away, and what a welcome they get. A crazy old lady with messy hair holds them (and local guards) at kitchen knife-point, shouting about an inescapable curse cast by a wronged ghost. The local magistrate comes out and explains that she became insane after losing her only son and orders her to be locked up. Mu Ryeong looks thoughtful.
They are led through the forge to the corpse, which is blackened as though he’d been charred to death, but his clothes are fine. Including the dead man, there are five blacksmiths working on the completion of the Sajin sword, none of whom look capable of charring a fellow smith to death. Yoon In’s line of questioning makes me feel like I’m watching CSI: Chosun.
Yoon In sets out to see the old granny, while Mu Ryeong stays at the site of death to investigate.
The old granny only spits out curses at Yoon In from behind thick wooden bars. The local magistrate looks uncomfortable and suggests they leave – which means that he’s probably a scumbag with something to hide. (Yeah, I tend to jump to conclusions. Good thing I’m not a policewoman.) A pretty girl comes and comforts the granny, and is pointed out to Yoon In as the perpetrator of improper conduct toward the smiths. Uh huh. You sure you didn’t want her for your own harem, Mr. Magistrate? She protests, and I think Yoon In is starting to get an idea that something’s not right here.
He asks what will be the girl’s punishment, and is answered by Mu Ryeong. It’s not a pretty fate. Yoon In is surprised at her far-reaching jurisdiction, and get sent back to headquarters for his trouble. Then Mu Ryeong steps closer to the magistrate and asks if she is the ‘sacrifice item’ (ewwww no) for the ceremony. The magistrate grovels a bit, and assures her that this will not go wrong. Mu Ryeong tells him that it better had not, as they’ve been waiting for this for 24 years.
Yoon In and Mu Ryeong don’t get along at all, as one is after justice for the victim and one is hell-bent on seeing the Sajin sword to completion without a ghost hindering them. (I’ll leave you to guess which is which.)
The four remaining smiths drink together after dark. The dead man’s brother has particularly rattled nerves, and is convinced that this is the work of a girl they sacrificed to the forging a few years ago. He’s told to shut up because everyone else is just plain uncomfortable talking about it.
Mu Ryeong is doing a priestess’s chant in her room when she is (there’s no other way of saying this) felt up by a pair of feminine hands. She knows right away that it was ‘that girl’. (Which one? Ambiguous language is the death of lawyers, businessmen, and drama audiences.)
The ghost goes after another smith, who is chased back to the forge (either the forge or the place where the sacrifices are held – it looks familiar). He, too, is roasted. The ghost repeats that she was killed by them, and that she’ll never forgive. (With added ‘nevers’ for dramatic effect.)
His corpse is discovered the next day, of course, which galvanizes Yoon In into action. He wants to take the smiths away to someplace safe, but the magistrate refuses to take them off the forging of the sword. Mu Ryeong recollects her head priestess to finish this forging (which means there were others) at all costs, or their sect will lose their position.
Yoon In’s underling brings him gossip from amongst the locals that this is a ghost vengeance job, but his inner skeptic rears up and smacks the underling on the head. (Thus causing brain damage and ensuring that he stays dumb. Good job, Yoon In.) He goes to see Mu Ryeong to seek permission to interview the smiths, but she’s using her tools to chase away spirits and dismisses him from the job, and also gives some not-so-veiled hints to keep his mouth shut. He stomps away. Oh, UST, welcome back from your vacation.
The two prison guards send granny back home, creating an opportunity for Yoon In to talk to Hyang, the girl imprisoned for improper conduct. She’s quite pretty, and was raised by the granny and the group of blacksmiths after being abandoned as an infant. She mentions that there is an important ceremony during the dedication of the sword, which may be preventing her guardians from speaking up for her and freeing her from prison.
That night, Mu Ryeong performs a ghost-summoning ceremony in the outdoors. She does get the ghost she’s after, but it’s much stronger than even her master anticipated, and manages to shatter the container meant to imprison her. Then, calling on her hold over fire, she disables Mu Ryeong for a short amount of time and disappears.
Now we know that the sacrificial ceremony involves a young girl (probably a virgin, as these things go) being thrown in a pit of fire.
Smith #3 goes home, alone in the dark, and is ambushed (something tells me it’s not the usual ghost killing this time). Meanwhile, the ghost breaks into where Hyang is being held (whenever we’re seeing from the ghost pov, the screen goes swirly at the edges) and sets fire to it. Hyang escapes while the guard is killed.
Yoon In and his underling play good-cop-bad-cop in the dark to get the truth from smith #3, and it really helps to have a big sharp sword being waved around.
So, 25 years ago, the first smith’s mother took in a girl. She was a beggar and mostly everyone assumed she was a witch’s daughter, but she cleaned up really well. Unfortunately, this situation lent itself to abuse and the girl was raped. Then the priestess/witch master of Mu Ryeong came and asked the smiths of the village to forge the Sajin sword. At the end, she ordered a sumptuous ceremony for the finishing, which required the sacrifice of a virgin girl (told you) to combine yin/yang energies. (The sword being the yang.)
However, the woman had a child, so it didn’t work out. The new one will involve using her daughter, Hyang, as the sacrificial person. At the prison, they discover Hyang’s escape.
Kae Hwa, her mother, is the ghost responsible for the killings.
Yoon In and his underlings are just in shock. The guards run by, searching for the missing Hyang. She’s possessed by her mother’s spirit, and goes after the man who raped her. He gets charred, but the searchers catch up with her. Kae Hwa’s spirit is really strong, and escapes again.
On the way somewhere, Hyang’s possessed body meets Yoon In, who’s just concerned about her. He formulates his questions badly, and gets thrown against a house really hard for his troubles.
The next day, Mu Ryeong remembers more of her master’s words, and is troubled. See, the thing we’re supposed to understand is that her master is willing to kill and deceive whoever she wants as long as it will gain the royalty’s trust, because after that, she will find a way to become more powerful than the king and control the kingdom from her position as priestess.
Anyway, Yoon In walks up and they get into a confrontation about the forging of the sword, which, to him, is obviously not really made so that the country could have happier times. He asks her to stop everything. She asks him if one mortal person’s strength is up to stopping it. (It’s aimed at him, though I don’t know if she’s considered herself.)
Ooh, the chief priestess’s arrived. She takes Mu Ryeong to task for being too softhearted about worthless people, and announces herself to be in charge of things. If Mu Ryeong doesn’t want innocent peasants to die in the ceremony, the priestess’s logic goes, then she must be willing to let herself die. In the shadows, Hyang is satisfied that her main target is here at last.
The head witch decides to use the two smiths left as bait for the ghost, thus also killing anyone who knows what making the Sajin sword really involves. Mu Ryeong tries to save them, but is sent away and will be punished for impertinence once the ceremony is over. (Dude, she does have a point – the witch is the one in the most danger here.) Oof. When the witch is spelling the doors and beams of the forge, she tells the magistrate that she’s planning to use Mu Ryeong as the sacrifice. (Evillllll.)
Fortunately, Yoon In and his underling break out of prison in time to save Mu Ryeong from being imprisoned. (Yay for lockpicks.) Coolness, they’re working together now. Mu Ryeong ties yellow silk slips to guard Yoon In from demon powers. Yoon In is touched.
In the magistrate’s courtyard, the head witch sets up a trap for Hyang. She’s got the smiths at the centre, tied up and helpless, while she herself readies the magical stuff to repel her. Hyang makes an appearance in the emptied yard. After some minimal struggling, she roasts the head witch too. Our three heroes rush up to hear the witch’s dying screams.
Mu Ryeong tries to stop her with considerations for her daughter… which does make Kae Hwa pause, but not enough. She’s still full of resentment that the smiths decided to sacrifice her to keep the other village women safe. Yoon In promises that if she lets these two men go, then he will protect Hyang with his own life. As he approaches, he speaks to the ghost, who seems to be appeased, if the fire levels are any indication.
“I can understand what you are feeling now, the wish that a mother has, only wanting her child to be safe and happy. Now I ask you to erase the hate in your heart to return to where you belong. I promise to look after your daughter’s safety. Please let go of your pain and hate and return to the underworld.”
Mu Ryeong walks forward and uses her special mirror to let the spirit free of Hyang’s body. It shares a tearful goodbye with Hyang and leaves. Hyang faints, and Mu Ryeong gathers her up in her arms, like a mother would. Dawn comes.
The story isn’t over yet. Mu Ryeong leaves, wanting to go to a place where she can actually help the people. Yoon In has his reports too, though he’s not too worried about the Sajin sword being forged again. His underling asks him if the people are going to suffer now, that there’s no sword in sight.
Yoon In: We create our lives with our own hands. If we want to know what the future is like, we should look at what we are doing now.
-This was my favourite episode as of yet. Good story, good execution, and not too much wasted CGI. The people feel real, and it wasn’t super predictable. Plus, awesome music.
– Sa apparently stands for 7 – so … uh… I’m in trouble. Just kidding, but according to this, then the Sajin sword would be made in the seventh hour of the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of the twelve-year zodiac. That’s a mouthful.
– Lots of people on Chinese forums were complaining about the ghost so far being all women – and I can only say that injustice occurs more often towards the weak, which women certainly were at that time. Also, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.