Drama Recaps
Chuno: Episode 5
by | January 28, 2010 | 82 Comments

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Last episode, Dae-Gil and his little band of Choi, Wang-Son and the new addition their party, the dancing strumpet Seol-Hwa have caught up with Tae-Ha on the riverbank as Tae-Ha travels down river in a skiff. This has turned into a real adventure, and we have second meeting between the two larger-than-life leads, the dread slave-hunter Dae-Gil and runaway slave Tae-Ha.

The cliff-hanger question during the long break between Episodes 4 and 5 was whether Dae-Gil has caught of good enough look at the woman in white traveling with the former General Song Tae Ha, to realize she is Un-Nyun, the woman he has been seeking for 10 years.

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But apparently, in a rather abrupt answer, Dae-Gil pulls back on his bow, a pyun-chun nestled inside the bamboo rail, and releases the arrow! Ah. The simple answer is no, as Dae-Gil would never have fired his arrow had he actually seen Un-Nyun. Tae-Ha blocks the arrow with his zhanmadao saber, no small feat of martial ability, and stares down Dae-Gil. Dae-Gil fires 2 more times, and each time Tae-Ha blocks the arrow with the flat of his saber.

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Dae-Gil smirks, more than a little impressed, as Tae-Ha and the skiff slowly move downstream and out of range. Choi remarks that they should capture Tae-Ha alive, so why shoot arrows? Dae-Gil responds in a rather cryptic fashion:

Dae-Gil: Have you ever seen a dragon caught by a fishing pole? He wouldn’t have been killed anyway with this effort.

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Interesting! Dae-Gil is acknowledging Tae-Ha’s awesome martial ability, after denying it to Choi earlier (after Dae-Gil got cut by Tae-Ha in their first duel). I have to guess that what Dae-Gil means that he was hoping to have wounded Tae-Ha with an arrow, knowing that a warrior of Tae-Ha’s ability would not be killed by even a speedy pyun-chun. Also, Dae-Gil is acknowledging that they were at too great of a tactical disadvantage being on the riverbank to attempt a capture.

There are advantages to being the hunter and to being the prey. The hunter can bide his time and choose the time and place of attack, but a clever prey can also set traps and misdirections to elude capture. Who will win this chess game? Dae-Gil pulls out a map and compass and they determine the obvious route that Tae-Ha must travel. Seol-Hwa continues to act like a ranking member of their “fun” party (which puts Wang-Son in a bad mood since he would be the youngest of the party of four).

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It is time to mount up and get moving, if they want to catch them before the route options turn limitless. Seol-Hwa does the math – three horses, 4 people. Choi with his horse, but with two the Jumo ladies already fighting for prime positions on Choi’s back, that’s no good. Then there’s Wang-Son and his horse, and so that’s an easy no. Seol-Hwa therefore skips over to Dae-Gil’s horse and makes a tiny pout:

Seol-Hwa: O-rah-beo-ni.

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Sure enough, the Orabeoni-Pout works as Dae-Gil extends his hand to give Seol-Hwa a lift. (note: no escalation to full blown Orabeoni-Pout-Wiggle needed as Dae-Gil agrees without protest.)

And now the chase. Tae-Ha and Un-Nyun make good time traveling through the gorgeous landscapes, with Un-Nyun in her white mourning robes and nary a speck of dirt on her clothes nor a single strand of hair out of place. (Apparently, she doesn’t get matted-down hair either, even after at least a full week of travel without shampoo or conditioner). Finally, Un-Nyun collapses and cannot run any more.

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Tae-Ha realizes that he has pushed Un-Nyun beyond her endurance point and agrees to rest. It is question and answer time. Who is Tae-Ha, really, Un-Nyun wants to know. And who were those men on the riverbank? Tae-Ha, bursting with secrets that might bring down a King, avoids telling the truth.

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And so Tae-Ha tells Un-Nyun nothing of his former life, not that he was a General with the Crown Prince’s army, not that he was betrayed by his own lieutenant and by the Left State Minister high up in King’s State Council, and nothing about while Tae-Ha was turned into a slave, a possible Royal conspiracy likely murdered the Crown Prince. It is this conspiracy likely murdered two of the three exiled sons of the Crown Prince, concealing this monstrous crime within a larger massacre of civilians through poison or disease. Now, there is only one son of the Crown Prince left alive, and Tae-Ha must save him. Tae-Ha, with his secret message from the Crown Prince himself urging Tae-Ha to action, must get to and save the last son of the Crown Prince and avenge his master’s murder. To do so, he must reach his mentor, the man who sent him the secret message in the first place. But since he can’t bring Un-Nyun with him, Tae-Ha says basically nothing except that he’s not a bad guy.

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Meanwhile, Commander Hwang (head of the Military Training Command, son-in-law to the Left State Minister Lee Gyeong Shik) remains in jail, locked up because he won’t personally go after Song Tae-Ha who had saved his life during the Qing invasions.

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Commander Hwang sits cross-legged on the straw floor of the jail cell, remembering how he got involved in all of this – little by little, Minister Lee had gotten his claws into him. First by offering the Military Training Command to him, and then basically adopting him as a son by forcing marriage to Minister’s Lee’s daughter with palsy. The lure of course, was the power that went with being the son of Minister Lee. And now, Commander Hwang, the “son” of Minister Lee, sits in a jail cell – a pretty easy reminder who is actually in charge. And if that weren’t enoguh, Left State Minister Lee drops by to make sure that Commander Hwang knows that there is no such thing as free will for Hwang anymore.

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Miles away, across hill and dale, the hunters and the hunted take a break from the chase to have dinner and rest for the night.

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I’ve said this before, but I really love the scenes with Seol-Hwa; they are so brilliant. As the sun fades and darkness is upon them, we see that Wang-Son is doing all of the cooking with Seol-Hwa merely waiting around for food. Hehe! Despite now having a very intelligent and obviously able wench tagging along, Wang-Son is STILL the maid, the cook, the dish-washer, the porter, the clothes-washer, and the clothes-mender of the group. Wang-Son grumbles at the unfairness of it all. What is Seol-Hwa good for?

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Wang-Son: You seriously don’t know how to cook?
Seol-Hwa: Nope, I never did it once.
Wang-Son: And you can’t make side dishes either…
Seol-Hwa: Nope, we don’t really do those kinds of things.
Wang-Son: Okay… then what about sewing?
Seol-Hwa (very cutely): Oh that! Oh yeah, for SURE we don’t do that.

Haha!! Seol-Hwa is a perky ray of sunshine in this epic tale of sadness and betrayal, and the actress playing Seol-Hwa (Kim Ha-Eun), is a true charmer (but you should see her in Conspiracy of the Court – just brilliant!). Wang-Son gets really mad and tells Seol-Hwa to just take off and bother other people. And in response, Seol-Hwa turns on the charm, in true Orabeoni-Pout-Wiggle fashion:

Seol-Hwa (oozing charm): Ora-beon-eeeeee… what’s uuuup, hm?

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Wang-Son grumbles some more, but Seol-Hwa’s look of victory on her face shows clearly who is the WINNER and who is the WANG-SON in this test of charm versus resentment. Seol-Hwa squeezes information out of Wang-Son regarding Un-Nyun, and Seol-Hwa looks at Dae-Gil with new found admiration – a man who spends 10 years looking for his love? How cool is that. Wang-Son grumbles some more, but then reverts to his baser self, asking if Seol-Hwa wouldn’t be interested in a little co-ed naked wrestling in the tall grass.

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A sly Seol-Hwa gets up and sits next to Dae-Gil, asking for protection against Wang-Son who keeps touching her butt. Wang-Son is beyond miffed at Seol-Hwa’s blatant lies, but Dae-Gil motions Wang-Son over. Even the stoic Choi clears his throat and shakes his head. Wang-Son protests passionately, but as the youngest in the group, he has no choice but to head over to Dae-Gil and a snickering Seol-Hwa. If I had to bet, I would bet 100 nyang, no, I would bet 500 nyang, that Dae-Gil knows that Seol-Hwa is lying her cute butt off, but Dae-Gil scolds Wang-Son anyway, because (1) Wang-Son needs the lesson to be taught regardless of whether he is really innocent here, and (2) that’s what big brothers do to their young-un’s.

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But Dae-Gil throws in a few scoldings to Seol-Hwa too, to be fair. Seol-Hwa is now miffed, but in order to prove her worth to this slave-hunting gang, she takes out her hae-geum. (Note: A hae-geum (해금) is a two stringed instrument played with a resin bow, and is a close cousin to the more widely-known erhu which came from the Chinese Song Dynasty. The strings are in strung a fifth apart, and usually played with a pentatonic 5-note scale.) Seol-Hwa starts by making some funny jokes, about animal sounds she can make on her hae-geum, getting laughs out of the men.

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But in a rather startling change of pace, Seol-Hwa then begins to play a haunting melody of unfulfilled love between a man and his lady. For once, all three of the slave-hunters are made speechless and merely listen with deep appreciation.

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After the song, Seol-Hwa munches on her food happily – she knows she is now welcome in the group for as long as she can keep up.

Not more than few miles away, Un-Nyun and Tae-Ha also make their meal and sleep through the night. But as morning comes, Tae-Ha awakes to find a small band of brigands trying to go for an ambush of the two of them.

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Tae-Ha makes extremely quick work of these low-lifes, and they quickly flee after getting their asses handed to them. In a humorous scene, before the brigand leader flees, he quickly drops to his knees in respect and bows in supplication, crying out, “eon-ni!” and then makes his escape.

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(Note: as you might know, the term, “unni” or “eon-ni” is what a woman says to an older sister. Now, what a man says to his older brother is “hyung” but apparently in this era’s slang, these brigands (and slave hunters, and other peasants) also call their superiors (by age or ability), “eon-ni” as a sign of respect, but without the familial closeness than the word “hyung.” Proper speech would preclude the use of “eon-ni” by guys to other guys, but slave hunters and brigands could not care less about proper speech anyway.)

During the fight, Tae-Ha has dropped a piece of paper which he got from a mysterious person who bumped into him while he was still a slave (along with the letter from the Crown Prince right before he died), a piece of paper which has a drawing that shows the deliberate poisoning of the crown prince’s children and other civilians in Jeju Island.

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And with that sort of odd and abrupt segue-way, we finally get to see what is going on in this island where civilians have been dying, along with 2 of the 3 sons of the murdered Crown Prince. This is a village somewhere in Jeju Island, the place where the remainig family of the late Crown Prince had been sent in exile. And unfortunately, something kind of plague has broken out in this village, and the dead are being laid out for cremation to prevent the spread of whatever it is that is killing these people.

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We see three local constables playing a game of dice, while a boy is crying inside a home. The boy is actually Prince Seok-Gyeon, the last surviving son of the late Crown Prince, but these constables strangely don’t pay him any mind. And where are the retainers and the Court ladies in waiting to protect and care for the Prince? This is an incredible scene, and it clearly doesn’t make any sense at all. Something is really, REALLY wrong here.

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Further down the village path, we meet two more characters. The first is the last surviving Court Lady of the Crown Prince’s court, who is unabashedly loyal to the Prince and therefore to his baby son. She has run out to get fresh water for cooking, bathing and drinking. The second is Constable Kwak, who is pestering the Court Lady to marry him, since she isn’t getting any younger in this god-forsaken place caring for a brat. The Court Lady has extremely stern words for him, and now we see why she cares so little for him. She knows that he was the one who betrayed General Song Tae-Ha by admitting to lies and getting his entire command possibly executed and making the General into a slave.

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That accusation stops Constable Kwak in his tracks. That might be true, but the Court Lady has absolutely no clue as to what the circumstances were that led to that false accusation. A flashback then, as to what really happened.

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All of General Song Tae-Ha’s officers were being tortured with red-hot irons pressed against the skin, and it was only after multiple excruciating burns that Kwak finally broke.

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The look of disappointment in Tae-Ha’s eyes burned into Kwak’s memory, Kwak has nothing left inside of him but an amoral existence. Now, Kwak’s betrayal was unconscionable not because normal men and women would have been able to withstand the torture, but Kwak was supposed to be better than that, as an officer under General Song Tae-Ha. Kwak was an elite, but acted like a normal human being.

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In fact, ALL of the other officers were better than that, choosing to be tortured by being burned, possibly tortured to death, rather than live as a coward and a traitor. This relative difference between him and them is what dooms Kwak – he was supposed to be super-human, an elite, but was not and is merely human. It might seem incredibly unfair to characterize him as a coward and a traitor (burned with red-hot irons???), but everything their lives is relative to their set of rules, and Kwak is both a coward and traitor in accordance with the rules he chose to live by, when he became one of General Song’s men.

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Back to the chase between the hunters and the prey. Dae-Gil and his band have reached the ambush-spot where Tae-Ha chased off the brigands, and they smartly figure out which direction he is headed, as he is cutting a swath-path for the mysterious lady to follow. With that, the chase resumes at full speed, as each day brings Dae-Gil closer and closer to Tae-Ha and, unknowingly, to his Un-Nyun. Not more than a few miles away, Tae-Ha and Un-Nyun are discussing their plans. Tae-Ha needs to reach Chung-joo, in order to meet up with his mentor and make plans (to save the last son of the Crown Prince). Un-Nyun understands that soon they will have to part, and has no idea what she will do (nice thinking there Un-Nyun, way to plan ahead).

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And that mentor of Tae-Ha? Well, now we get to see what he looks like. In a richly appointed home, an old man sits writing messages on disappearing ink. Is he some sort of spy? And a servant of this man bows and reports. This is the same guy that gave the Prince’s last words by bloody letter to Song Tae-Ha in the “accidental” bumping! The servant reports that there are all sorts of men after Song Tae-Ha, including bounty hunters, Military Training Command soldiers, and even special bounty hunters contracted by the Left State Minister himself, Lee Gyeong Shik.

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The old man gathers up the messages written in invisible ink and tells his servant to send them out. They have less than 2 days to do what they are planning on doing, and Tae-Ha or no Tae-Ha, they cannot wait for him to appear. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? It looks like they are planning on sending Tae-Ha to Jeju Island to rescue the child…

And then back to the chase! Un-Nyun and Tae-Ha have finally reached the crossroads inn, from where they will make their escape in separate directions. In the evening, Tae-Ha asks about Un-Nyun’s love, the one for whom Un-Nyun escaped the marital bed to stay pure. Un-Nyun notes that her love is far and away gone, having gone so far away that if she was to have found him, she would have found him by now. And now, we finally have the full flash-back as to what happened that fateful night.

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Un-Nyun’s older brother, probably with other slaves, had risen up and killed Dae-Gil’s family and started torching all of the buildings. Un-Nyun’s older brother finds out that Un-Nyun has feelings for her “Young Master” and thinks that Un-Nyun has been violated. It is too much for the brother to take and he runs back to the house and slashes at Dae-Gil, cutting his face across the eye, right before the burning timbers collapses around Dae-Gil. All of this happens in front of Un-Nyun, who sees her love die before her eyes.

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Back to the present, Un-Nyun thanks Tae-Ha for everything, and wishes him well before sleeping. There is some emotion in their voices as they fall off to sleep, but for now the divide between the two of them is insurmountable as neither can erase the pain of love ones lost.

At day-break, Dae-Gil and his band finally arrive at the crossroads inn, but it looks like Tae-Ha and Un-Nyun have just left, perhaps minutes ago! They are somewhere extremely close! Dae-Gil, Choi and Wang-Son split up to search the area on horseback, as their prey could not have gone far on foot. Seol-Hwa is told to stay where she is, but she notices that horses behind the inn.

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Seol-Hwa leaps onto a horse (somehow, while wearing a hanbok… isn’t she amazing) and chases after Dae-Gil, thinking that they planned on dumping Seol-Hwa at the inn. Off hand, Seol-Hwa also mentions to Dae-Gil that it is strange that their targets didn’t use horses, and immediately Dae-Gil realizes he’s been tricked. He turns his horse around and charges back toward the crossroads inn.

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Just a few minutes away, back at the inn, Tae-Ha realizes that his first trick hasn’t worked entirely as at least one hunter is returning, probably within a minute or two. Tae-Ha takes the reigns of the last horse, and looks at a helpless Un-Nyun… a few minutes later, Dae-Gil arrives and puts his ear to the ground… noting that the last horse is heading east.

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It is a now a horse race to the finish!

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COMMENTS

Another well-done episode! Clearly, this is a set-up chapter, and one that pretty much solidifies the background information needed to understand who the major movers and shakers are, behind the main characters. I don’t think this is an episode to knock the socks off of people, but I think it is really necessary to have an episode like this for an epic sageuk like Chuno. And also, you had two really great scenes thrown in here – the first being Kim Ha Eun‘s antics followed by her playing the hae-geum, and then the scene with Jo Jin Woong (the actor who played the very funny Brutus Lee in Sons of a Sol Pharmacy, aka Constable Kwak, being tortured by the evil Left State Minister, Lee Gyeong Shik.

We see now that there are forces and counter-forces at work. The Left State Minister, the second highest ranking Minister in the Royal Court, is Lee Gyeong Shik. He is part of the trio of ministers making up the State Council (with the Prime Minister, the Left and Right State Ministers) that advises and helps execute decisions for the King. He is a man so bent on power and control that his own daughter fears him, and he is the man behind the false accusation of General Song Tae-Ha. And he is the man who cold-heartedly imprisoned his own son-in-law, who loyally married the minster’s own palsy-stricken daughter.

But IS Minister Lee also the man behind the murder of the Crown Prince, the alleged execution of the wife of the Crown Prince, and the alleged poisoning deaths of two of their three sons, along with dozens of civilians? IF SO, then the Left State Minister is a man who has absolutely no fear as to the consequences of his actions, which means… the King himself might have been in on it from the beginning??!! Suppositions, suppositions…

Opposing the Left State Minister Lee Gyeong Shik is a mysterious older man, who has been moving chess pieces around the board, including activating the biggest chess piece of all, Song Tae-Ha from his slave labor hibernation. Who is this older man, what did he write with invisible ink, and where is he going to send Tae-Ha, assuming that the latter escapes from Dae-Gil’s clutches?

And in the midst of all of this, Un-Nyun, the woman that Dae-Gil has been seeking for 10 long years, is finally within ear-shot of him, albeit unknowingly. What will Dae-Gil do once he finally sees his long lost love? And will our hero Dae-Gil be able to capture Tae-Ha within a month’s time, before a death sentence gets put on Dae-Gil too?

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82 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. kdramas!

    Chuno just keeps getting better and better. Thanks for the recaps. Reading them over makes me reconsider some of the things that I just see but don’t really think about while watching the episodes.

  2. Maggi

    woo! i’ve been waiting for this.. thank you javabeans!!!

  3. avicski

    can’t wait for the next episode!

  4. mantas

    I’m a big fan of this drama. Reading your recaps makes me understand the part that I don’t quite understand while I was watching this episode. your recaps is awesome as always. please keep it up til the end ^^ thx JB. fighting!

  5. Maggi

    (continued) oo i also want to thank samsooki espeacially… hmm hope i could watch this as soon as possible.

    just want to add i really like when seol hwa does her “Orabeoni-Pout-Wiggle” xD i used to do it all the time but now *shudders* Ahhhhhh the gd times….

  6. javabeans

    Just to clarify, this isn’t my recap. Thanks to samsooki for tackling Chuno, along with hjkomo!

  7. Firewife

    Okay…don’t hate me, but I find Seol Hwa so irritating. Am I by myself here?

  8. hjkomo

    Thank you, Samsooki! :D

  9. samsooki

    lol, javabeans is quick to disclaim responsibility! “Which one of you is Spartacus?!!” “Not me!”

    hehe!

    @7 Firewife –

    That’s interesting! Can you expand on what you find irritating about the character of Seol-Hwa?

    Generally, for me, it’s the woman or man who, despite being told “NO, I DON’T LIKE YOU” literally won’t take “no” for answer. How else can you verbally communicate that you don’t like someone? You can find characters like that in Dalja Spring, Cinderella Man, Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, Good Job Good Job, Save The Last Dance For Me, or in an extreme example of a dangerously crazy woman who won’t take no for an answer, Temptation of Wife…

    But specific individual characters in dramas? Hmm… much harder. I actually can’t think of a specific person that annoyed me so much that I wanted him/her gone from the drama. Oh wait. I got it! (no, not Patzzi or Bora) – The main male character in Sweet Spy. I really feel like if they just dropped him altogether, Sweet Spy would have been a lot better. :D

  10. 10 tae

    i wasn’t a big fan of seol hwa at first, but she’s quickly grown on me. she’s quirky and just the right amount of brightness and fun this mostly-dark drama needs. in fact, the one getting on my nerves is un-nyun…i feel like she has no thoughts whatsoever other than about her apparently deceased daegil, and she’s irritatingly quiet. so far, a very one-dimensional character. i hope the writers make her more interesting, and fast.

  11. 11 ...m@M

    for me i love Seol Hwa i love the why she say O-rah-beo-ni is so cute for me
    i find Kim Ha Eun beautiful even she not drop dead gorgeous oh and thank you samsooki for the recap.

  12. 12 nell123

    Thank you samsooki! :)
    It would be nice if you review action dramas more often. I think that the information about weapons and fighting you share with us is really interesting.
    @ 7 Firefly:
    I also find her irritating sometimes but the actress is so charming and cute that it doesn’t bother me so much.

  13. 13 Jo

    Seoul Hwa brings freshness to the cliched character of “rude youngster girl with smart tongue”. She delivers without being too annoying. Jsut EVERYTHING SHE DOES IS CUTE!
    my god, I love her. as expressed previously. I find Lee Da Hae especially dry in all her acting scenes…perhaps because she really has nothing to say, but Seol Hwa is obviously a talented actor. If given to a newbie, then perhaps they might have overacted this part, but she is just the perfect touch of immaturity and cuteness!!

  14. 14 robotmatsuri

    Thank you so much Samsooki!
    I also love Seol-Hwa, she is just so fun and knows how to handle the men. :D

  15. 15 Firewife

    @ samsooki

    I laughed out loud at your Sweet Spy comment! Maybe that’s why I could never finish it…since they wouldn’t, ( or couldn’t), drop the main male character I had no choice but to drop the drama.

    As for Seol Hwa, let me see if I can pinpoint exactly what I find so annoying. I know she’s supposed to be cute and perky, but her antics grate on my nerves. Maybe it’s because she has all the makings of one of those clingy, can’t take no for an answer, characters and I’m just getting a head start on my dislike. I usually don’t care for the secondary female lead who develops feelings for the main male lead and gets in the way of our OTP. I must be rooting for young master to be reunited with his girl and even though Seol Hwa hasn’t gotten in the way of that yet, maybe I’m worried she will in the future. Strangely though, I harbor no bad feelings towards the general, but that’s because he’s Oh Ji Ho, just one of the most beautiful men on the plane,t and I’m shallow that way!

    I really think the root of my dislike of her character is that in real life I don’t care for women who flirt and manipulate men to get by . Yes, I know that the character has had a rough life and she’s just doing what she needs to do to survive, but even in this day of enlightenment and equal rights, so many women still find it necessary to resort to using their femininity and sexuality to get ahead, rather than their own intelligence and strength. It’s something that as a woman myself, I wish we could get past. And I’m not talking about the fact that she had to work as a prostitute, but more about her overall demeanor.

    Okay, sorry to run on. I didn’t realize I had so much to say on the subject, but when you asked me to clarify my feelings about the character it really made me think about it more in depth than I had before.

  16. 16 sukispop

    Samsooki, thanks for this great recap!

    I love the extra tidbits you always include in your recaps, whether they be bits of interesting Korean history relevant to the understanding of an aspect of the story, or, say, an explanation of the type of string musical instrument that Seol-hwa is playing(erhu). These wonderful bits of information not only serve to help us understand the drama to a greater degree…they’re also just plain fascinating! Thanks for this!

    I’ve only watched episode 1, so far, and thus have a bit of catching up to do. I’ve been entrenched(and happily so) in “Smile, You” and “Wish Upon a Star”, and have been reading the “Chuno” recaps to really get a feel for this drama. I’m not as familiar with the characters, as most folks, here, yet…but that Seol-hwa character brings a big ray of “funshine” to the story, doesn’t she? So full of charisma and smarts…cute, too.

    Can’t wait to see episode 2! And beyond!

  17. 17 samsooki

    @15 Firewife,

    I recently learned what OTP (one true pairing??) means! Now I am like.. ohhh, that’s what jb was talking about…

    I have to disagree with you completely. I fall for such manipulations nearly 100% of the time, and I have no problems being manipulated. hehe! I remember back in college, people were like, “dude, you just did all of her calculus homework” but I’m like, “that’s okay, it was a good trade. I got a shoulder wiggle.” :D

    Seriously though, the Oppa-Pout-Wiggle, or in this case, the Orabeoni-Pout-Wiggle (hereinafter, the “OPW”) is not really about sexuality and flirting, at least, that’s totally not how I see it when it is done to me.

    Ask any guy who falls for OPW. It is like being invited to a club, where the club members are those who are close enough to the girl to be called “Oppa” (or 500 years ago, “Orabeonni”). Being called “oppa” is about the relationship distance being cut and the fact or admission of that close relationship puts the guy in a position of being allowed to help the girl, and it puts the girl in the position of respecting the guy as a person who is close enough (relationship-wise) for the girl to ask for and receive whatever.

    While there are those who use flirting and sexuality to get what they want, the use of OPW is more about relationship and respect, rather than having an infinite distance between people who are strangers…

  18. 18 wawategal

    Thank you so much for the recap…well-done. At first, I don;t understand why they use Unni instead of Hyung. It completely makes sense.

  19. 19 Taiyaki

    @Firewife: I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s iffy about Seol-hwa. She tends to be hot and cold for me – when she was first introduced, she was incessantly annoying, out-of-line, and manipulative (this is of course, not taking her background into account. These traits seem to be ingrained into her personality) – the typical makings of a clingy second lead.

    Then she became okay in the later episodes, and I even found her a little charming, especially during her scene where she plays her instrument.

    But after completely catching up with the episodes (as in this week’s), I find her not only extremely childish and irritating, but downright selfish and remorseless. Even though Hye-won/Un-Nyun is just as useless, she’s at least quiet about it. Seol-hwa isn’t, and that’s what’s so irritating about her.

  20. 20 pabo ceo reom

    Stop asking so many questions at the end…I have a headaaaache lol

    thanks for the recap!

  21. 21 pabo ceo reom

    oh wait….you chose an H.O.T song….gasps. I am a G.O.D fan :P

  22. 22 Firewife

    @17 samsooki

    I hear what you’re saying about the relationship distance, but isn’t there a way to close the distance without the eyelash-batting, shoulder-wiggling OPW? Or would that just suck the fun out of it?

    I can see by the other posts that when it comes to Seol Hwa I’m completely outnumbered. Am I overthinking things with this character? Oh well, maybe she’ll grow on me. If she doesn’t I’ll just fast forward her part till I get to the Guy-candy. Sigh!..now if they were in a club I could join..

  23. 23 ockoala

    @ samsooki (and @ hjokomo for episode 4 recap)

    Thank you veddy veddy much, great recap, so much fun digging deeper into the nitty-gritty of this drama. Understanding the subtleties in sagueks really enhances my enjoyment immensely.

    I like everyone in the drama, and if I had to pick someone annoying me slightyly, it would be Un-nyun (but not LDH), the character of UN is not my cup of tea, unless she grows a few muscles and some stamina. I can’t help but compare UN to Ha Ji-won’s character in Damo, and wishing UN had even 1/10 the fire in her. But that’s neither here nor there, just realizing I *heart* certain types of strong lady characters, and wish others were more self-helping.

    I love the chase, the intrigue, and the fact that characters continue to be fleshed out and develop. Just enjoying the ride, thanks PD Kwak!

    @ pabo

    Really? Questions give you a headache? I rather enjoyed samsooki’s ponderings, as it makes me think on my own rather than being spoon-fed some conclusions. I find thinking doesn’t induce a headache for me, but rather helps my brain cells get some exercise. :-) I also prefer advil to tylenol as my headache reducer medication of choice. Hope you feel better!

  24. 24 mie

    The strange thing about Chuno is that I’m not enjoying it as much as I should be. I get the good things (love the cinematography, adore the soundtrack, v satisfied with the two leading men) but the few bad things seem to tsunami what I like so that I’m left feeling dissatisfied after watching.

    1) Seolhwa. Yes, I get that the OPW may be adorable to men, but she’s a useless character if ever I saw one. I see no purpose to her joining the team other than falling in love with Daegil and being a pest. Maybe it’s because she’s just underdeveloped so far, but from what I’ve seen so far (up to episode 7), she’s just loud and annoying. And she’s just plain dumb in episode 7.

    2) Hyewon/Unnyun. If Seolhwa is useless, Hyewon is just flat. The only thing she has going for her is the fact that she’s loyal (in love with a “dead” man for 10 years, that’s dedication). But if she was going to run away, why didn’t she run away BEFORE the wedding so that the tricked husband wouldn’t be so peeved? And how does she manage to keep that snowy white hanbok so darn clean? When will she show us real emotions on her face? These are all questions that remain unanswered so far.

    3) The politics. Sageuks are all about politics and power struggles and betrayal and kings killing their sons and what-not, but the politics of this drama just don’t interest me. I think Gong Hyeongjin is a great actor but every time he shows up, I just yawn and shift positions and wonder when Daegil and Taehwa will show up again. And I don’t understand why the evil dude sends his son-in-law after Taehwa when he already hired Daegil for so much money. A back-up plan? I don’t know…

    4) Too many side characters. There’s just too much going on with too many side characters that clearly can’t be developed at the pace this drama is going. For example, what happened to Choi Chulho and his butt-kissing character? And we get a glimpse of Taehwa’s friend who betrayed him (and now works on Jeju), and while it seems he has a story of his own, they don’t show it to us yet so we have to add that onto the growing pile of curious characters that might or might not get explained. And the two ladies who fawn over the eldest of the trio are neither amusing nor useful to the plot, so will they please just stop killing off chickens and pigs to feed their lust target? It just wastes airtime.

    Maybe I’m being too harsh, but this drama needs to tighten up a bit, cut off all the useless things they have hanging decoratively to the real story, and smear some mud on Lee Dahae’s face for it to really be a good drama.

    As a side question, is the OTP Daegil and Hyewon? ‘Cause I’m actually rooting for Taehwa and Hyewon.

  25. 25 samsooki

    @22 Firewife –

    Hmmm…. I guess you could send a RFP memo to the prospective oppa in question, cc: the yellow copy goes to file and you get to keep the pink copy…?

    :)

    My feeling are that men and women are not equal, they are equivalent but fundamentally different, especially when you throw in culture. And Korean culture is as valid as the next culture, and they have their own perspectives on things like what equality really means.

    My perspective on Korean culture is that it is all about relationships. People you are not close to, the people that are strangers or just acquaintances, you just don’t do anything with those people. You address them differently, there is no physical contact, there is little familiarity. But as people are social creatures, the granting of a relationship marker like “eon-ni” or “oppa” is no small thing.

    And if it comes with a cute smile and a wiggle, who am I to judge that? :D

  26. 26 nell123

    @ Firewife:

    I’m sorry I wrote your name wrong in my first post but when I noticed it was too late to edit.

    “I hear what you’re saying about the relationship distance, but isn’t there a way to close the distance without the eyelash-batting, shoulder-wiggling OPW? Or would that just suck the fun out of it?”

    That’s my problem with her too. I’ve seen enough kdramas to know that OPW and cuteness are the standard behavior for most of the kdrama girls but sometimes I wish that they were able to connect with people around them without relying on their pretty face or somebody’s need to defend the weaker. I hope both Seol-hwa and Un-Nyun get the chance to develop further and become truly interesting characters.

  27. 27 Firewife

    @ 19 Taiyaki

    Glad to meet you, now I don’t feel so alone. I watched the recent episodes raw, but I don’t speak Korean, so I figured I was missing a lot. It sounds like Seol Hwa won’t be growing on me anytime soon.

    @ 24 mie

    Also glad to meet you! I’d too would love to know how Hyewon manages to look so good while trekking through the wilderness. My hair and makeup don’t last 2 hours on the family campouts! Her personality doesn’t bother me, but it doesn’t endear her to me either, so right now I’m on the fence.

    I’m assuming that Dae Gil and Hyewon are the OTP since they’re both still yearning for the other after 10 years. Unrealistic? Yeah, but my little heart beats at the romantic sentiment. Maybe as the story goes on I’ll change my mind and root for Taehwa…I have been known to switch sides before.

  28. 28 Ash

    @23 Ockoala
    @24 mie
    Yay , I thought I was the odd one , because I truly think that Ha Ji Won or Chae Ok character has much much more fire than Unyun / Hyewon .
    And in Damo , Chae Ok for sure did not look so clean whenever she was in fighting mode ( when the first open , she fought with her brother in the bamboo forrest ) . She looked with the part and here , Hyewon looked so out of place . Not her fault , thought , the DR wanted that way so ….

  29. 29 Firewife

    @ 25 samsooki

    I like what you said about men and women not being equal, but being equivalent and fundamentally different. I once read that equality doesn’t mean sameness, but balance.

    As for cultural differences I will admit to looking at the Seol Hwa character through my modern, westernized sensibilities.This probably does color my opinion of her.

    One of the things I enjoy about watching Kdramas is the opportunity it gives me to take a peek inside, and gain an appreciation for, another culture. I come here to dramabeans to read the recaps because, as a non-Korean, I know that I miss a lot of the nuances that come with a better understanding of the people and culture, and you guys here are great at helping me fill in the missing gaps. So, thanks!

    And who am I to begrudge you the cute smiles and wiggles? :)

  30. 30 Firewife

    @ samsooki

    Just wanted to add something to my previous post.

    Even taking into account your comments on the cultural aspects of OPW, while I can understand the character, it doesn’t mean I like her. But I’m an equal opportunity hater…I don’t like it when guys try the old “smile and smooth talk” tactic either, even if they are good looking.
    Just ask my husband, it never works for him! And he’s the cutest guy I know!

  31. 31 Taohua

    Yay! I was excited when I saw that this recap was up! Thank you for the recap! Oh and thanks for the background info about the hae-geum, I was thinking it looked a lot like the erhu and had wondered if they were the same. Supposedly Kim Ha-eun practiced for several months to learn how to play it.

    On Seol-hwa, she’s not my favorite character per say, but Kim Ha-eun is an amazing actress (if you haven’t seen Conspiracy in the Court please do so! Her portrayal of Nayoung was so beautifully done). But I think at least for the moment, she’s there for the humor (with Wang-son).

    I kind of agree with ockoala on Un-nyun. There is no fire in her eyes and her character is a bit dull. And the fact that she hasn’t gotten dirty after traveling for a week is kind of amusing but it also takes a bit away from the story (it’s jarring because it seems illogical).

    To be honest…none of the three main characters move me that much yet (though story wise I like Song Tae-ha’s as a character a lot). I think my favorite scenes and the ones that really moved me were all with Lee Jong-hyuk. I actually think his character’s story is a lot more compelling because he does such a great job portraying Hwang Chul-woong. (By the way towards the end of episode 6 was that a tear drop? If it was ::sigh:: How amazing is this man? Brilliant acting!) And as much as I love PD Kwak, I’m still unsure how I feel about Chuno…the reason why I’m still continuing is 35 percent b/c of PD Kwak and 65 percent b/c of LJH.

    Anyways thank you for the recap Samsooki! And much love to you and hjkomo for taking up the challenge to do the recaps for Chuno and doing a wonderful job!

  32. 32 Cindy

    Thank Samsooki!! I LOVE that you put lot of the pictures! Chuno is very addictive, especially the songs in its OST! I’d listen to them over and over again and watch each episode over and over again…hahaha

  33. 33 LadyIgraine

    I wish it was already subbed, but Viikii has got major problems with all of their videos because they ended up getting license. Too bad! However, Veoh.com has them although not sub but I guess I can keep up with Javabeans’ story recaps instead.

    I have a few theories as to why the last surviving Court Lady doesn’t pay much attention to the little child crying. I think its to make the little boy less visible to others because it can post great danger to the child. Taeha must have been ordered by the now assassinated prince to continue on with a secret plan. But I guess we just don’t know what that is yet!

  34. 34 mie

    BTW, I forgot to add, great choice in music.
    (HOT fan here. *waves*)

  35. 35 hjkomo

    @ sukispop
    “that Seol-hwa character brings a big ray of “funshine” to the story, doesn’t she? So full of charisma and smarts…cute, too.”

    “Funshine” – yeah, that’s it. Seol Hwa is funshine! I love her scenes with Wang Son. She’s only a teenager, though a worldly one, but she’s got such spunk. :D

    @ mie

    Interesting…I seem to have the opposite reaction to your points. For me, the side characters bring so much to the story, keeping it from straying to what would become boring, and their presence allows us to delve into the main characters’ stories even more. Each character has a specific purpose, and nothing is wasted. If the drama tightened up any more, it would begin to border on the bland. :)

    And Lee Gyeong Shik sent Hwang Chul Woong also to kill Im Young Ho and Prince Seokgyeon. One can’t just send a slave hunter to murder a retired high official of the royal court and the Royal Successor, now can he? ;)

    @ ockoala

    LOL. Of course, you would bring up Damo. HW’s character is certainly no kickass tea-serving fighter…and her pristine wardrode needs some dirt to accompany its artistic canvas (but then, she wouldn’t be as ethereal, no?). She still has the most to be developed character-wise…so, we’ll just wait and see what PD Kwak has in store for her, shall we? :D

    @ Taohua

    I absolutely LOVED the scene with Hwang Chul Woong and his mother in the prison. LJH is really a great actor…and that scene humanized his character the most we’ve seen thus far. Bravo to him, Kim Young Ok, and PD Kwak for giving us such a wonderful scene. :D

    Oh, and btw, lovely caps, Samsooki. :P

  36. 36 cathy

    i lke Song Taeha character the most , in ep 6 and 7 LDH acting less dull , there is a great chemistry between two main leads , OJH and LDH . I like this drama ,

  37. 37 mak

    I don’t care abt LDH character in here, just watching her is enough for me, and what an AMAZING chemistry between her and OJH and also JH. To me this is one of the most important aspect in keeping audience to watch the drama (or other drama), if you character is so colourful and vibrant but no chemisry between your partner, so what is the point?

  38. 38 Sherry

    I thought Seol Wah said she is seventeen years old when she first met them at thier rented roon. O happy is entertaining the three men alright,
    partly she has no brothers in her life so maybe later she will behave better but we can see that she already love Dae gil the first time she met him. So will dae gil be trapped in this emotion or will he go Un nyun but I do agree that why is Un Nyun character is a helpless character?.

    f ever there is a moment for dae gil to save Un Nyun then my wish is for him to let her be seated in front of the hose ride that would be aw aw !!

  39. 39 anastassia

    “Tae-Ha and Un-Nyun make good time traveling through the gorgeous landscapes, with Un-Nyun in her white mourning robes and nary a speck of dirt on her clothes nor a single strand of hair out of place. (Apparently, she doesn’t get matted-down hair either, even after at least a full week of travel without shampoo or conditioner)”

    Ditto.

    There is something about Lee Da Hee’s character and her portrayal that turn me off. I tried very hard to look forward this drama. I read from Dahee’s, Ripgal’s and JB blogs. I read ONLY good impression and expectation and overwhelms excitement. I respect them and know they know what A GOOD drama is.

    BUT,,,,,

    Since I watched the posters and caught upon Da Hee it justttt sooo turning me off. But I kept myself positive. My initial instinct said, how can a drama that called a slave hunters and the men was soooo loooking rattled, dirty and so like a travelers and the woman seemmms soo on place? It just so contradicted and ironic!

    I know this is fusion saeguk and I know well, how can be pretty and clean is wrong? BUT for GOD sake, this drama potrayed a lead men that we never see before. SOOO obviously and realisticly was soo rattled and seems SOOO real!! But on the other hand Lee Da Hee was……..

    If they didn’t potrayed the men sooo realistic like that maybe we wouldn’t notice sooo much. But even after 5 episode it still mehhh.

    Well, sorry ripgal love. I tried very hard to like the character, and amused myself by saying its ok, she know how to act and keeps myself positive that she didn’t care her hair looks messy in My Girl.

    Still, there is something about her lately that rubs me in a wrong way. I just felt she is not real anymore. And her portrayal in Chuno is flat like in East Of Eden.(I can understand her in EOE) but here in Chuno, I felt she didn’t throw herself in the character so much and was so trying TOO hard to look pretty and seems very fake. (She is pretty herself why trying so hard?)

    I want to see her be real, messy/since its in the character and didn’t afraid too immersed in the character’s and life as a slave whose hardship and traveling is part of their life.

    p/s: I’m sorry didn’t mean anything personal. I actually laughing and enjoying when watching three of them in one a variety show together and boosting/bragging about this drama to my hub. For it is a COOL drama. But….

  40. 40 Sakura

    I thought Seol Wah said she was seventeen years old when she first met them at their rented room. She is happy to entertain the three men alright to escape the dance troupe and her job. She is flirtatious with the men but I think Wang son would be more her match.

    She love Dae gil the first time she met him. So will dae gil be trapped in this emotions after ten years of yearning?. so too with Un Nyun now travelling with tae ha ?

    I do agree that Un Nyun character is a helpless character, damsel in distress?.
    Unless the scriptwriter add additional up beat to her character then we will see a different Un Nyun.

    If there is a script for dae gil to save Un Nyun then my wish is he scoop her up his horse and be seated in front of the horse chase, that would be ahw !
    Dae gil !!.

  41. 41 Mathew Kraft

    Why did the scriptwriter wrote Un Nyun character in that manner, we don’t know why ? and the pretty woman dressed up nicely, not messy like the others travelling on FOOT!! , ask the wardrobe dept and director Kwang ??.

  42. 42 Sarah

    I am completely obsessed with this drama. I look forward to this every week. I have to say, I love your recaps. They’re HILARIOUS! Keep up the good work.

  43. 43 mak

    at Annatasis-your BUT…. is simple to answer, u don’t like her.. enuff said. Anyway just finished ep8, really love DG/UN flashback moment and HW/TH bedtime story.

  44. 44 Lisa Ong

    Thanks Samsooki

    Seol Wa didn’t look untidy too, with a clean and colorful handbook riding on a horse and not doing the chores, wang son is cooking for her, man that’s a good bargain girl !! .

  45. 45 anastassia

    @mak: Dear, don’t be too defensive, its not simple as that. I really look up to her. and when EOE crisis thingy, i’m very much up defending her and look every single detail to defend her. Ok sweetie, its just a matter of taste in character portrayal and acting. In fact, i amazed by her great English and been crazily watched every single of videos of her speaking English. Do not like her? Its not as simple as that and I tried hard to find any scenes that will make me fall for her. But not just as yet. Maybe later. Who knows. Chill out. I’m having a good fun myself watching three of them yesterday in that variety show.

  46. 46 Doris

    Is the Korean Philharmonic Orchestra involved with Chuno’s OST’S
    if it is then they are really good !!

  47. 47 bbm

    wow, just last night KBSW aired Happy Together New Year Special with the cast of Chuno (JH, OJH, LDH) & God of Study (BDN, KSR, OYA), and now we have another recap of Chuno, yippie!!!
    Thank you Samsooki & hjkomo for doing the recaps, (and for all the useful sidenotes, which comes very handy in watching sageuks)…
    after reading 5 recaps, i have to agree about the dullness of UnYun/HyeWon character (n how all the ladies are still prettily clean when all the men are haggardly geogous)… her character is quite unuseful, except there are some twist, which i highly doubt… while in Seol-Hwa, i’m hoping for some twist (hoping she actually can do more kick ass action, it’s just my wish)…

  48. 48 idtaminger

    @samsooki

    I’ve been wondering what OTP meant. Thanks for spelling it out for us non-initiated.

    I really don’t see the OTP-ness with this couple though (DG+HW). It seems to me that what they had in the past was really puppy love, considering that she’s all of 15 according to the drama timeline. At 15, every guy seems like he might be “the one”. But most of us grow out of that. Because DG+HW’s relationship was so cut off so abruptly and tragically, neither of them got the chance to grow into, and out of, their first romantic relationship. They cling to their love b/c in their minds, it’s become this idealized, nostalgic thing. That’s not true love – that’s just idealizing the past.

    Also, they’re not the same people they were when they fell in love, especially DG. And DG’ll never go back to being the person that HW fell in love w/, b/c he’s just too damaged. I think both of them would be better off moving on w/ their lives, and w/ their loves. And I’m all for the TH+HW and DG+SH pairings, b/c I think both pairs have a good dynamic, but w/out even a tenth of the angst that would be present in a DG+HW pairing. I like it when characters have to suffer just a little – it creates drama, but all 4 of these characters have already been through hell and back (betrayal, slavery, ruined lives, bereavement, forced prostitution – it’s worse than a Lifetime movie). I think at this point, they all deserve a happy ending.

  49. 49 hjkomo

    @ idtaminger

    Good points. One thing to keep in mind, though…is that this is an epic fusion-sageuk story,
    and while it would make sense for the characters to move on in a modern story (I would be one of the first to advocate that in a contemporary drama), in epic stories, it’s usually the first love that is the one-true love. ;) And these dramas also make for great tragic stories. :(

  50. 50 soyjoy

    Samsooki – I’m glad you’re doing these recaps!! You add a lot of great insights that help round out the story & background. The martial arts info is interesting to know more about, too. I end up getting a tri-fold experience of Chuno: skim-watching for cinematography & effects, watching it with subtitles and then reading your recaps. LOL. Good thing the quality of this series holds up to so much scrutiny!

    To comment on Lee Da Hae’s portral of Un Nyun / Hye Won, it hasn’t bothered me too much. I find Hye Won’s character a bit stilted, but I think that’s actually true to her present-day character: her daily life is an act… one that she’s had time to practice and make her own, but still an act. I actually think Lee Da Hae does a fair job of portraying the self-consciousness when she assumes her noble airs, in her speech, her modesty, etc. After all, she lived for 15 years as a slave, and for 10 years as nobility. So every time she remembers who she’s supposed to be, it must be a fraught experience.

    With that said though, it DOES bother me that she’s so frail. Like what, she was a slave for 15 years but now the girl is a helpless waif? In her defense, she was kind of a helpless waif back then too, but really. She needs a bit more backbone. Haha, I also loved one scene (in this week’s episodes) when she sleeps on her injured shoulder. Smart.

    I try not to let the incongruities get to me too much, though; the overall experience—great action,acting, chemistry, beautiful score & cinematography, tension, story—is too good to be bothered by the small things.

    Thanks again samsooki! Keep up the amazing work!

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