Excuse me, I’ve got a serious problem. Very serious indeed. I have a severe case of dry mouth. Do you know why, dear reader? Oh I think you know…I’m sure you have it too. It’s because I can’t seem to close my mouth during the whole hour this godforsaken drama enraptures me!!! I’m too busy squealing, smiling, drooling, gaping at the awesomeness that is Sungkyunkwan Scandal (and the beauty of the Joseon F-4. Yeah, that includes Yoon-hee. Love her!) Sorry I don’t mean to be unprofessional, but I’m worried for my health—I’ve probably swallowed a million fruit flies without even knowing it in these past several weeks. Plus my hands are raw from clapping like a fat kid saw cake! I swear this drama is a health hazard…Sigh…
Interesting tidbit: Did you know Song Joong-ki actually attended Sungkyunkwan University? He was the school promotional model for 3 years! Cool beans!
Alright, enough of my psychobabble and onto the recap!!!
SONG OF THE DAY: Sungkyunkwan Scandal OST (Yun-jung)- As I drew you (그대를 그리다) Download
Professor Jung announces Yoon-hee and Sun-joon’s disqualification just as Guh-ro is being man-handled by Minister Ha’s subordinates. With a knife to the neck, things are looking bleak for him when Yong-ha comes to the rescue, in his know-it-all way of course. (Did anyone else squeal when he went from smiley to threatening? Argh!)
He reminds them that palace guards aren’t allowed behind Sungkyunkwan borders—and he’s not the only who’s seen them. At that precise moment, Headmaster Choi comes running with his minions in search of Guh-ro and left with no choice, the guards let him go.
In-soo is busy flaunting to Sun-joon and Yoon-hee that he was right about the harmony of the factions being impossible—but Guh-ro approaches saying, “Who said it’s impossible? Hey Daemul, I’m here to fill my spot.” All three share smiles, and I die. Poor Yong-ha is left not smiling because Headmaster Choi is busy bombarding his bum with uncomfortable patting as a sign of his appreciation.
In-soo goes on to express his surprise at Guh-ro sharing Sun-joon’s sentiments, but Guh-ro replies, “I don’t agree with him. In fact, I agree with you—because I don’t believe in the King’s plans for harmony either. If I were him, I wouldn’t join hands with the Noron who killed my bloodline.” (Referring back to the Sado incident).
Just as Byung-choon begins to protest, Guh-ro continues, “Dae-mul! Are you ready?” She nods adorably. “Hey Noron. I’m only doing it today… harmony or whatever.” Sun-joon smiles and announces that they’re ready. They smile again, this time including Yong-ha, and I die a second death.
The competition finally begins with King Jeong-jo’s first arrow and as the three roommates walk to the grounds, they’re joined by Yong-ha—and the Jal-geum Quartet are born. Jal-geum, meaning trickling, is the tag that the admiring gisaengs give them to describe the pee-in-your-pants reaction to their combined beauty. Gross, but completely relatable.
As the Jal-geum Quartet pick their bows, Yoon-hee comments on Yong-ha’s fancy bow but when Sun-joon notices that he has no matching arrows, Yong-ha sheepishly replies that the foolish trader gambled it away. Guh-ro tells him that he should get a new bow then but Yong-ha is all about appearances and replies, “Color-matching…don’t you know?” with a smack at Guh-ro’s injured side. Guh-ro flinches at the pain which Yong-ha notices, slightly concerned.
He’s right to be concerned because Minister Ha is on the Red Messenger’s tail. He instructs his subordinates that the Red Messenger is injured so it should be obvious when he shoots multiple arrows throughout the competition. Plus, he has a very distinctive method of archery which will be hard to miss. The Red Messenger is to be found without error and most importantly, in secret. He cannot be taken in by the King’s forces.
Minister Ha later assures Minister Lee that things are going according to plan. King Jeong-jo suddenly inquires about both minister’s sons and muses, “Then who shall I cheer for?”
Professor Jung begins giving instructions to the participants, “Every competitor gets three arrows. The bulls-eye counts as 10 points and the scores get lower as you go farther out. The competition will progress from quarterfinals, semifinals, then to the finals where the winner—the jang-won, will be decided. The jang-won team will receive a cup of wine from his Highness himself and extra credit.”
With the ringing of the bell (and broadcast preparations complete), the competition begins. For every competition there is a betting pool and bookseller Hwang is ready to take them. Hyo-eun walks in confidently declaring her bets on Sun-joon’s room and the competitor introductions begin. This leaves most of the betting party doubtful about their team, but Hyo-eun sticks to her bets on Sun-joon.
Yoon-hee is up first and all eyes are on her. She shoots her first arrow and to the delight of her teammates (and Cho-sun), she manages to get a 9. She gets an 8 for her second shot which is more than a decent score compared to the rest of the round’s competitors and manages to win the whole round with a score of 26 (to Go-bong’s horror. Literally laughed out loud!).
Yoon-hee’s delighted, and so is Cho-sun, but Sun-joon’s approval is what Yoon-hee wants most. Sun-joon, however, throws her off her glory horse and tells her, “Wake up. You’ve only shot one round of arrows out of the 12 you’ll have to shoot the whole competition. Do you think we’ve already won?”
She apologizes and seeing her dejected face, Sun-joon asks, “Are you sick somewhere? You’re suddenly so obedient. Look—your face is flushed,” as he reaches out to touch her face. Yoon-hee quickly pushes it away and tells him not to worry… she’ll focus and do her best. Sun-joon looks at his rejected hand as she walks off. Oh brother, a big fat DUH~ to the both of you.
Sun-joon’s up and performs perfectly with 10’s on all three tries, as does Guh-ro, who’s being closely watched by Minister Ha’s subordinate. Cho-sun is closely watching Yoon-hee while In-soo is staring daggers into her smiling face. Yong-ha watches In-soo watch Cho-sun, slightly worried for Yoon-hee. A staring contest within an archery contest, hm?
To no one’s surprise, In-soo and Kang-moo also get perfect scores as the news of both In-soo’s and Sun-joon’s team spread through the city like wildfire. Both teams make it to the finals, as Yoon-hee’s mother watches the scores nervously from Hwang’s shop.
The two teams, and everyone around, take a short break before moving onto the final round. Yong-ha visits the gisaeng’s tent almost immediately, not to simply loiter, which he still does, but to give Cho-sun warning. “Just for today, maybe you should try hiding your emotions?” Cho-sun fails to understand so Yong-ha explains, “He got the nickname Daemul because of you…and he even almost died because of you…the only scholar that comes into your field of vision, Kim Yoon-shik. I’m saying this for his sake so it’d be good if you took this warning to heart.”
Why is he so worried? Because knowing In-soo, he’ll do anything to beat the brat that stole Cho-sun’s heart away—which is exactly what he does. In-soo puts his “trust” in Byung-choon to bring him victory…no matter the method.
Yoon-hee hands Guh-ro a water canteen as he rests and he compliments her that she’s done better than he expected. Yoon-hee replies, “It’s because you had me worried all night. I’m competing with fire in my veins.” Laughing, Guh-ro begins playfully harassing her, only to have Sun-joon find them. He thinks back to how she quickly pushed his hand away and smiles bitterly, “That’s no good… How can a scholar who is so inconsistent strive to do great works?” Sun-joon looks down at the two water canteen in his hands and walks off.
During their adorable bout, Yoon-hee unknowingly drops her bow and runs off with Guh-ro chasing after—leaving Byung-choon to pick it up. Uh-oh.
Yoon-hee runs into In-soo but even before he can really say anything of substance, Cho-sun approaches with a crowd of admiring scholars. She apologizes for her rudeness the last time In-soo was at Moran-gak. He forgives her and Cho-sun says, “You told me to wait and see whose power was greater, mine or yours. I’ve come to give you my answer.”
She walks over to Yoon-hee amidst the scholars’ cheers, Guh-ro and Sun-joon looking on. Yoon-hee greets her and Cho-sun tells her, “I’ve come to return what you left with me,” wrapping Yoon-hee’s ripped up hand with a scarf, “I give the affection you left with me that night back to you. I hear that you have suffered greatly because of me. I don’t wish my affections to be a burden to you…so I return it back to you. Like this scarf, my heart will always be tied to you. You are the man that I, Cho-sun, chose. So, can I trust that you won’t kneel to anyone, for anything?” She kneels at Yoon-hee’s feet to the cheers of the scholars—and to In-soo’s rage.
The finals begin with the king wishing all 6 men good luck—he’ll be cheering for the winning team.
Professor Jung instructs them that the finals will be a 1:1 competition, each picking their opponent from color-coded sticks in a cup. Sun-joon is matched with Byung-choon, Jae-shin(Guh-ro) is matched with Kang-moo, and what do you know—Yoon-hee is matched with In-soo.
Sun-joon wins his round by a margin of 2 points, but Guh-ro struggles and—despite his Yoon-hee and Sun-joon flashbacks, and hiccup inducing cheer from Yoon-hee—the pain of his injuries get the best of him. Lucky for Guh-ro, his poor performance leads Minister Ha and his subordinates off his trail—surely the Red Messenger can’t suck so badly at archery.
It’s finally Yoon-hee’s turn as Guh-ro walks down in shame. He begins walking past her when Yoon-hee says, “ You’ve messed up all my plans. My skills are top secret but thanks to you I’m about to unveil it in front of all these people.” Guh-ro turns to look at her and she continues, “I guess it can’t be helped…” she flashes a smile, “I’ll just have to use my secret weapon.” Displaying her skills with an adorable wink, she finishes, “The thrill of anticipation.”
Guh-ro walks away, not knowing how to feel, “It’s a talent… driving people nuts.”
The air is so tense that you could probably cut it with a knife as everyone awaits the final round to begin. Even the king is almost sure that the outcome is as good as decided but Headmaster Choi points out that Yoon-hee couldn’t even hold a bow straight only days before. “Perhaps he at least has his father’s fighting spirit,” the king ponders, his subjects around him puzzled at the reference.
All eyes are on Yoon-hee and In-soo—even Minister Ha, who seems to begin recognizing her face…or, not. He supposes that Yoon-hee might be the Red Messenger. The final round begins and Yoon-hee shoots an 8 while In-soo shoots the bulls-eye. Her second arrow also hits the 8 point ring and In-soo shoots another 10, assuring his followers that they’ve won.
It’s the final arrow and In-soo looses focus as he looks around him, especially at Cho-sun. He shocks everyone, including himself, by shooting a 5—a single angry tear escapes. This puts Yoon-hee in a better position—if she can just hit the bulls-eye, her team wins.
Yoon-hee nervously begins her shot when the bow string snaps. She hurriedly runs down to grab another and fortunately for Byung-choon, she grabs the bow he planted. Yoon-hee pauses to gain reassurance from Sun-joon, “Honestly, do you think I can get jang-won? Since you can’t speak empty words.”
Sure enough, he speaks frankly, “No. Your shoulder holding out the bow is still weak, your arm pulling the string has no strength, and your breathing is uneven. So, you don’t have to use all your strength to become jang-won.” Yoon-hee looks down, discouraged, but he takes her hand and continues, “However… I at least admire these hands. You lived as a jang-won while you practiced…so even if you don’t pass, even if you lose…to me, Kim Yoon-shik, you’re already the jang-won.” He pats her shoulder with a smile, “Daemul, go show them the skills of a jang-won.” Yoon-hee’s heart soars.
Remembering all her practice, Yoon-hee stands firm and pulls back the bowstring—but she realizes something’s wrong as the string cuts deep into her hands. Professor Jung comes to see what’s wrong but even with her bloody hands Yoon-hee assures him she can do it. Yoon-hee pulls back again, ignoring the pain in her right hand, and releases. 10 points! They’ve won and everyone’s celebrating (minus In-soo’s crowd).
Yoon-hee immediately looks for Sun-joon and is relieved when she spots his smiling face. “Jang-won!! We’re the jang-won!” He notices her bloody hands and, proud that she persevered, gives her a pat.
Guh-ro also noticed her bloody hand and he’s about to bust someone’s nuts after he inspects her bow, but thankfully Yong-ha stops him. “Even if you don’t get involved, they’ll get their share of scolding.”
Both of them look towards a furious In-soo—his stooges tremble in fear as they run away. Byung-choon is in disbelief that Yoon-hee won with her hands cut up.
As promised, the king pours the winning trio a bowl of wine as he tells them that their “harmony” makes them better accomplished than he. “Lee Sun-joon, Moon Jae-shin, Kim Yoon-shik… I shall put my hope in you. It’d even be better if you could share the secrets on how to achieve harmony from political divide. Don’t you agree, Left State Minister?”
Minister Lee replies, “How can one call himself a grown man without the idealistic hope he dreams in his youth?”
“In youth?” Jeong-jo muses. “It is said that the state and the father are one…so it seems that you, Minister Moon, and Left Minister Lee, share your sons with me. Aren’t you curious which father these sons will grow to resemble?”
Minister Ha and his subordinates still haven’t been able to pinpoint the Red Messenger’s identity on any particular scholar, but our hero Guh-ro sits in his room with his injury, chuckling quietly at the day’s incredible events.
Professor Jung treats Yoon-hee’s shredded hand, discouraging her further that, “You may be able to stay at Sungkyunkwan, but you’ll never be able to become a Sungkyunkwan scholar as a girl. That’s just how scary the world’s principles are. No matter how much you try, it’s impossible for you. So…”
Yoon-hee cuts him off and tells him, “You won’t convince me just by telling me it’s impossible. From the moment I decided to learn despite my being a girl, I have never heard the world ‘possible.’”
The scholars are out celebrating and everyone’s pouring Sun-joon celebratory drinks—but he learned his lesson the last time. He cleverly acts like he’s drinking and when no one’s looking, he pours the alcohol in the jar he brought along. This works out just swell for him—until Yong-ha finds the jar and demands he drink it all.
At that moment, Hyo-eun walks into the room and claims that he’s kept his promise—since he’s in a place where she could be with him, he’s actually the one who came to her. Still stuck in her delusions, this one.
She offers him a gift, telling him she embroidered it thinking of him. Her petty lies are soon exposed when Yong-ha recognizes the waist-band to look just like the rare work of a famous designer, but of course she insists that she worked hard on it to make it look so. Yong-ha changes the subject as he wonders where Dae-mul could be.
Daemul…er, I mean… Yoon-hee is outside the tavern, practicing words of thanks to say to Sun-joon. Taking a deep breath, she enters the room which is filled with the chanting of her peers, “Garang! Garang! Garang!” Do-hyun pulls Yoon-hee to her seat, but all she can is the image of Hyo-eun with her arms around Sun-joon.
When Sun-joon and Yoon-hee finally make eye contact, she looks away, downs her drinks, and leaves.
Of course, Yoon-hee’s got the wrong idea—Hyo-eun was just tying the waist-band she made around Sun-joon—but the damage is done as she looks at her reflection and realizes how foolish she was being. After all, she is a ‘he’ to Sun-joon. When she sees Sun-joon’s reflection in another mirror, she turns to leave but stops when he asks her why she’s out her.
“Is your hand okay?” he asks, grabbing her hand.
She replies coldly, “What is it to you?” and walks away.
The rain begins to pour, both literally and figuratively, but when Yoon-hee arrives back near school an inebriated Byung-choon picks a fight.
Byung-choon: “Spiteful punk. I should have known that poor people like you are unflinching compared to people like us. How could you endure that pain? Even when that glass powder is ripping through your skin? Do you wanna succeed that badly?”
Yoon-hee: “Was that your doing?”
Byung-choon: “Yeah! I did it! What are you going to do about it?”
He pushes her to the ground but Yoon-hee gets right back up and punches him, “Cheap bastard.” Byung-choon freaks out at his bloody nose but Yoon-hee continues, “You didn’t lose to me. You lost to your cheap self!”
Byung-choon punches her back and the two engage in a muddy fist fight. (Wow, can I just say, Yoon-hee is one bad ass girl!)
Later, Yoon-hee attempts to clean herself off at the well where Yong-ha volunteers his help—we all know he just wants to strip her though. She quickly refuses.
“What’s the big deal? We’re both men. I’ll throw you a nice bucket full of water,” Yong-ha offers.
When she refuses again, Yong-ha asks her why, to which Yoon-hee has no answer.
“Tell me…with no hesitation.”
Yoon-hee hurriedly makes an excuse that she has a huge scar that she doesn’t like to show anyone. Yong-ha finally gives in, telling her that there’s a place where she can bathe in private—no one will go near the place because it’s supposedly haunted by the ghost of a woman who loved a Sungkyunkwan scholar.
Taking the suggestion, she readies a tub of hot water after carefully observing that she’s alone, and finally bathes. Meanwhile, Sun-joon is on the search for her and Yong-ha is convincing himself that what he wants to see is not a maiden’s body—he’s merely a scholar seeking truth. Okay~ Yong-ha. Whatever makes you sleep at night.
Yoon-hee is enjoying her bath in the privacy of the haunted building when Guh-ro peeks in to see why the lights are on in his secret hideout.
And to his shock, he sees Yoon-hee’s fair maiden body bathing by candlelight. Hiccup!
(How cool are these animations?)
First, I’d like to apologize for all my fangirl moments throughout the recap—but I’m sure all of you will agree when I say that this drama puts you in a state of mind where you’re not quite yourself.
Dun, dun, dun. Guh-ro’s the first to find out Yoon-hee’s secret (albeit Yong-ha has a pretty good idea). I’m thinking he’s going to be her guardian angel—a set up for millions of girls’ heartbreak. Oh the woes of the girl who falls for the second lead.
I’m relieved that the Jal-geum Quartet have finally started coming together—I dont think I could’ve waited much longer. Not that I’m complaining. I’m glad that we the viewers get to see how their friendships bud and progress. I think it’s interesting that Yoon-hee seems to have this power to draw people to her, thus becoming the common denominator in the quartet (well, minus the Yong-ha+Guh-ro bromance). It’s also interesting that Yoon-hee almost looks up to Sun-joon like a father figure—she’s constantly looking for his reassurance and approval.
I’ve thought this from Episode 1, but I really enjoy the scenes where Yoon-hee looks at her reflection as she self reflects. Episode 1, she looked at her reflection as she considered her circumstances, and then again when she was guilt ridden about her cheating ways. This episode, she looks at her reflection again, realizing how foolish she was to forget that she’s living as Kim Yoon-shik right now…not Yoon-hee.
I’ll be interested to see how this story unfolds—what’s behind Yong-ha’s smiling facade, will Sun-joon stick to his guns about harmony, will the Jal-geum Quartet all get involved with the work of the Red Messenger? I’m dying to find out.
Btw, how cute is this intro cartoon?
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