Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 8
by red pill
Dear Dr. Quinn,
Is it possible to die of: (a) too much hiccupping; (b) curiosity and fright; (c) broken ideals; or (d) having one’s pride slashed to pieces? If yes to any of the above, please hurry to SKK as quickly as possible. There are four strapping young men (?) in need of your attention.
SONG OF THE DAY
Joy Rock – “지금인가요” (Is It Now) [download]
LESSON 8 RECAP
Like the irresistible pull of gravity, our three leading men zero in on hyang-gwan-chung, a place where only those involved in the ancestral rites are allowed. What follows is chaos: Jae-shin will do anything he can to stop the others from peeking inside while Yong-ha is determined to get past his friend. Sun-joon? He just looks confused.
So Jae-shin does what he can and bangs on the door to alert Yoon-hee, thankfully giving her enough time (a little unrealistically) to clear the tub, snuff out the candle and hide. Meanwhile outside Jae-shin and Yong-ha are wrestling on the ground, giving Sun-joon the perfect chance to open the doors. To what seems to be an empty room.
Jae-shin finds his cool again – only to be sent into a slight panic again when water drops from above his head and he realizes that Yoon-hee is hiding on top of the shelves. Fortunately, neither Yong-ha nor Sun-joon notice, and Yoon-hee shows off some super-human reflexes by catching falling candlesticks and candles. Professor Yoo and the staff show up, and the boys get into trouble for being where they’re not allowed.
Back at the dorms, Yong-ha points out that Yoon-hee isn’t back yet, and Jae-shin barely manages to refrain Sun-joon from leaving again to look for Yoon-hee. Jae-shin tries to keep himself in check, but he’s clearly overdoing it and Yong-ha is onto him.
Hurrying home from the bathing debacle, Yoon-hee runs smack into Professor Jung, who guesses correctly that she’s the reason behind the ruckus at hyang-gwan-chung. He warns her again that she mustn’t forget that she’s not a girl at SKK – yet she also mustn’t forget that she IS a girl and let her guard down. Her life is on the line, and she must take responsibility for the path she chose.
In-soo is having a grand ol’ time terrorizing poor Byung-choon for the archery tournament loss (but really, why is he blaming others when he missed the bull’s-eye on purpose?). He tells his minions that he intends to make good on the apology that he promised Yoon-hee. But that crazy laugh tells us that he’s up to no good. In fact, he can’t decide if he should set things up so that the king kicks Yoon-hee out himself or if he should have the harmonious roommates turn on each other.
Two of the said harmonious roommates are struggling with insomnia, each for his own reason. Sun-joon is worrying about the way Yoon-hee brushed him off coldly earlier, and Jae-shin can’t get the image of what he saw out of his mind.
Unaware of the mental pandemonium she’s causing, Yoon-hee returns to the room, and thinking that her roomies are fast asleep, she quietly slips under the covers. Her presence alone incites Jae-shin’s hiccups again, and he rushes out. Only to find Yong-ha waiting outside the door.
Left alone, Sun-joon begins scolding Yoon-hee for disappearing and for fighting with Byung-choon. Almost petulantly, he asks if she’s starting to take after Jae-shin (jealous much of their close relationship?), but alas, our heroine is already fast asleep.
Outside, Yong-ha asks if Yoon-shik is a girl. Jae-shin scoffs at the question, but this is Gu Yong-ha he’s talking to, the guy who can guess the color of a girl’s underwear from the smell of her foundation. And he’s been friends with Jae-shin for 10 years now; he knows well about the hiccups.
In order to prove Yong-ha wrong, Jae-shin bravely ventures back into the room. But he starts imagining Yoon-hee in female garb and with a long braid. Hiccup! Suddenly self-conscious of his (lack of) clothing, he puts on another layer, dropping a handkerchief in the process. It’s the kerchief Yoon-hee gave him when he saved her from Minister Ha’s thugs, and Jae-shin recognizes Yoon-hee from the incident.
In his single room, Yong-ha is rolling around in frustration. He starts mumbling about Yoon-shik being a girl and fooling the king – but strangely, he’s okay with that. He actually kind of understands it. What he can’t stand is that she’s trying to fool HIM, Gu Yong-ha. I don’t know whether he’s innately liberal-minded or just has a one-track mind, but I love that he’s so accepting of Yoon-hee’s secret. After all, Sun-joon will probably freak out badly enough for the whole party.
Adorable Jae-shin has the handkerchief stuffed in his mouth to stop the hiccupping, but it’s not really working. Then he sees something that disturbs him more: Yoon-hee curled up against Sun-joon. Oh, he definitely can’t have that!
Morning comes, and a dumbfounded Sun-joon wakes up to find Jae-shin snuggled up against him. He pokes at Jae-shin and gets a scream as a morning greeting: “Back off!”
Yoon-hee points out that it’s unlike Jae-shin to sleep with his clothes on and wrapped up in a blanket. The best excuse he can come up with is that he might have malaria. Yes, malaria.
Which leads to the funniest moment in the entire episode: Sun-joon trying to back away inconspicuously and feeling his own forehead for a possible fever.
Yoon-hee and Yong-ha meet in the bathroom, where Yong-ha tries to fish for information. Yoon-hee lies and says she never went to hwang-gwan-chung; how could she when the place is haunted by a female ghost? She’s Dae-mool after all; what better hauntee for a vengeful female ghost? She advises Yong-ha to avoid hyang-gwan-chung as well; his playboy ways won’t win him points with the female ghost.
Not as slick as he’d have everyone believe, Yong-ha freaks out at the thought that the light they saw that night was actually a ghost.
Twice a month (the 8th and the 23rd), the SKK scholars are allowed to go home, and they’re given allowance to boot. They’re reminded of the rules to be kept: upkeep the proper decorum expected of a SKK scholar and don’t return with forbidden items (like racy paintings). After all, in a few days is the soon-doo-gwan-jang, the exam given by the king.
Yoon-hee is pretty excited to be going home with her allowance; Yong-ha not so much because the ghost story still has him shaking in his boots.
While the headmaster is trying to convince Professor Yoo to let certain items be allowed (after all, they might end up in their – cough, the king’s pockets), Professor Jung is making bioptic glasses to give to the king on the day of the exam.
As for the exam, the king already has an exam question in mind, and there’s more to it than a simple answer. He has a particular person (persons?) in mind who he thinks will answer correctly. Whoever it turns out to be, be it Minister Lee’s son Sun-joon, King Jeong-jo declares he will have his way.
Sun-joon waits outside the gates for Yoon-hee, medicine for her sick brother in hand. If he expected gratitude for this gesture, he’s disappointed; her reaction is lukewarm. And things get worse moments later when In-soo has some bundles tossed at Yoon-hee’s feet. He has collected all the leftovers from the kitchen and decided to give it to the student who needs it most: the poor Namin who’s smart enough to know when to lower her pride. After all, she wanted recognition as a SKK scholar; if she truly is one, then she should know that the food served at SKK is the sweat and blood of the people. Everyone knows that this is just plain wrong, but the logic of it has Yoon-hee unable to reject the gesture.
Yoon-hee accepts the “gifts” (with clenched fists) and thanks In-soo, much to the horror of Jae-shin and Sun-joon. Jae-shin tries to stop her, but she persists; her family will be grateful.
It’s a terrible moment for Sun-joon as it dawns on him: he’s not much different from In-soo. Sure, In-soo was malicious intentionally, but Sun-joon has scarred Yoon-hee’s pride in much the same manner by offering what he considered a kind gesture but can be taken as charity from the receiving end. His ideals, grand and right as they are, were formed in the safe bubble of his secure upbringing; he has lived too sheltered from reality.
In-soo drives the point home to both Sun-joon and Jae-shin: “You want to live in harmony? You can’t with Kim Yoon-shik. You’ve never known what it’s like to grow up lacking something. So let’s get along, us similar people.”
In terms of the Joseon society, In-soo’s not wrong. But no need to fear. Soon our Jal-geum Quartet will fight against the currents.
Sun-joon comes home to find his family preparing to celebrate his father’s birthday. He’s taken aback because usually his father doesn’t accept gifts nor does he ever throw a party. But this year, he’s doing both. (As a side note, in the short seconds we meet his mother, I really liked her. She seems to have class and the mother-son moment was very endearing.)
Sun-joon and his father sit down to play a game of ba-duk (go in Japanese), a strategic board game with white and black pieces. Minister Lee compliments Sun-joon for the archery competition win and tells him that he’s doing well for now by sticking with his diverse roommates. After all, it’s not time yet to turn against the king.
Sun-joon questions whether going against the king is an inevitability and the right thing to do.
In a sharp tone, his father lectures him that the nation is owned by the nobility. In history, the royal family has done nothing except leave the people to ruin and bow down to foreign powers. And this so-called political harmony that King Jeong-jo keeps pushing is his roundabout way of trying to bring authority back to the royal line.
Then a warning: Don’t do anything that’ll confuse people, like hanging out with a Namin and a Soron.
Sun-joon replies that he doesn’t think of his friends in those terms. Kim Yoon-shik is intelligent and cares deeply for his family. Moon Jae-shin is beyond loyal. He has much to learn from them.
Minister Lee pulls the father card and silences Sun-joon.
This is, I believe, what they call the calm before the storm.
A very worried Jae-shin follows Yoon-hee from a distance. Yoon-hee stops by a rice cake store and buys some for her family. Two starving children stare at the rice cakes with hungry eyes, and our kind Yoon-hee offers them two pieces. I’m sure her heart breaks as much as mine when the older sister gives both pieces to her little brother. So she gives them more, and you can practically see the hearts coming out of Jae-shin’s eyes. Seriously, how can you NOT fall in love with this girl?
Yoon-hee also stops by a trinket shop to buy an ornamental hairpin (bi-nyeo) to replace the one her mother sold to buy her rice cakes when she first went off to SKK. While she’s there, she fingers a pretty pink hair ribbon and almost buys it, but stops herself when she spots Hyo-eun nearby.
When she walks away, Jae-shin walks up and fingers the same hair ribbon. For an excited moment, I think he’s going to buy it for her, but alas, the writers cannot have our manly Jae-shin buying a hair ribbon. He spots some suspicious characters following him, and he rushes away to do what he does best.
At the same shop, Hyo-eun has seen both Yoon-hee and Jae-shin show interest in the hair ribbon, so she buys it, thinking that’s what guys must like.
Jae-shin separates one suspicious guy from the others and manhandles him to get information. Turns out he’s not the one being followed. Minister Ha has ordered Yoon-hee to be followed (under the pretense that she may be the Red Messenger, but we know it’s really because she’s the late Professor Kim Seung-hun’s offspring).
In the scuffle, Jae-shin has lost sight of Yoon-hee. Suddenly, it’s not just about her being a girl. She’s somehow involved in political intrigue as well. “Just who are you, Kim Yoon-shik?”
Minister Ha is flabbergasted that Minister Lee is throwing a birthday party, but his smart son already has it figured out. Minister Lee wants to gather his side together to show the king who has the REAL power in this nation.
Minister Ha asks for information about Yoon-hee, saying that he has a debt to Yoon-hee’s father and he thinks Yoon-hee will come to settle that debt. In-soo declares Yoon-hee not brave enough to do that. But Minister Ha isn’t reassured; the king shows much interest in her.
Again, In-soo reassures his father that he needn’t worry; he plans to make Sun-joon his man. And he’ll use his sister (and her blind love) to accomplish that.
Said lovesick sister is having her fortune told by the fabulous medium Bak-soo (played by the hilarious LEE WON-JONG). He works through tarot cards, and the more he curses, the better his fortune-telling. But he’s not perfect; he mistakes Hyo-eun for Yoon-hee and comments that Sun-joon is unable to recognize the woman in front of him. One of the tarot cards show a bear, which stands for the dense Sun-joon. She’s gotta show him that she’s a woman and change him into a human being. (This is a reference to the origin story of Korea. For more info, go here.) He offers her a solution, but whatever he whispered into her ear, she’s indignant and refuses to do it.
On the other side of the café, Yong-ha is enjoying a little QT with his gisaeng friends. When he hears how spot-on this medium is, he comments that he should have his heart changed. All women eventually bore him, and he wants to find one who will keep him interested. (Yoon-hee??)
Cho-sun comments that she’d like to meet that woman if he ever finds her since undoubtedly she’ll be a great, rare find.
Our rare find Yoon-hee stops by the bookshop on her way home to tell the owner Hwang that she can’t do the love letter (commissioned by Hyo-eun). Her excuse is that she has no experience writing love letters. He tells her that he doesn’t WANT to accept love letter jobs, especially since they don’t leave much of a profit. And what profit he might’ve made goes right into Sun-joon’s pocket. Which is when Hwang accidentally spills the beans about Sun-joon fronting the 50 nyang that Yoon-hee needed to repay Minister Ha.
This news of unwanted charity, doubled up with what happened with In-soo just moments ago, rightly infuriates Yoon-hee. She’s so spitting mad that she leaves her belongings behind and storms down the street, not even noticing Cho-sun when she steps forward to greet her.
The devastated Cho-sun refuses to buy the beautiful clothes she had intended to buy. “What if he doesn’t even notice me when I’m wearing more beautiful clothes? Then I have no more excuses left.”
Sun-joon is pensively going over the events that happened with Yoon-hee, realizing that his charity hurt her pride and that he had been thoughtless. Soon-dol tells him of a visitor, and from behind it looks like Yoon-hee. Only it’s not; it’s Hyo-eun dressed up as a guy (that’s what Medium Bak-soo told her to do).
Meanwhile, the birthday party is well underway at Sun-joon’s house. Minister Lee asks the Prime Minister to please tell the king that everyone gathered is enjoying the food and alcohol that he sent. Yes, Minister Ha adds, tell him that a great number of people came to celebrate.
But the Prime Minister refuses (we’ve seen him in several scenes with the king, and he’s clearly on King Jeong-jo’s side). In a cleverly stated poke, he says he fears that people will gossip about Minister Lee wanting to show up the king and prove who has the real power. And that’ll only hurt Minister Lee’s reputation.
Minister Lee is disgruntled by this reply, but he responds just as curtly that the king knows how dedicated he is to the country. Assuming that the king will misunderstand is underestimating him.
Disturbed by Hyo-eun’s dress-up, he tells her not to drop by like this. That’s when she practically jumps him to slip a charmed piece of paper into his clothes. Apparently if he keeps it on his body for 15 minutes, he’ll fall in love with her.
But just as we expect, Sun-joon calls her out on her foolishness, stating that he hates such things. In fact, he’s unwilling to be a friend or a lover to a person who believes in such foolishness. You can practically hear Hyo-eun’s heart crack into two when he says he never wants to see her again.
The tears well up in Hyo-eun’s large eyes. All pretenses stripped aside, she’s finally honest with him. She isn’t usually this type of person, and she hates the things she’s doing, but she can’t help herself. Her heart flutters so when she thinks of him, but she knows that he doesn’t feel the same about her. (And this line just about kills me every time a second lead says it) But it’s okay because she likes him a lot, enough to make up for his lack of love for her.
Hyo-eun dashes away, but Murphy’s Law doesn’t let her off so easy. She runs smack into a table of food being carried to the guests. With all eyes focused on her, she’s a deer caught in headlights. To us modern folk, it may not be such a huge deal, but back then, it is a HUGE deal for a girl to be caught at a guy’s house without a chaperone. The implications are… well, let’s just say that marriage is possibly the only way out of this hole.
Sun-joon tries to lead her away, but she can’t move a muscle. Gentleman that he is, he carries her away to help her save face. Oh, I shudder at what will transpire because of this little act of chivalry.
He reassures her that nothing will happen, but she stops him mid-sentence with a kiss on the cheek. Understandably, she’s even more smitten with him now. Get ready to collect her registration information to join the Smarty faction (actually, she’s like our president).
Meanwhile, Daddy Lee is NOT happy about this turn of events. At least, he didn’t expect it at all. Minister Ha implies that it’s been going on for a while, though he found out about it only recently. He pretends to pass it off lightly, saying that kids will be kids and they’re just reckless in their youthfulness.
Sun-joon is walking Hyo-eun out when Yoon-hee arrives. Upon spotting Sun-joon and Hyo-eun together, she turns on her heels and rushes away. Leaving Hyo-eun to Soon-dol, Sun-joon goes after her. He stops her, wanting to hear what she came to say.
And every word from Yoon-hee’s mouth is imbued with hurt. “Did you enjoy your little joke all this time? You must’ve been so amused seeing me all excited to be a SKK scholar.”
He doesn’t understand, but he does two seconds later when he hears the words “50 nyang.” And for a moment, he’s at a loss of words.
“I don’t ever want to see your face again.”
I can’t help talk about the Yoon-hee/Sun-joon dynamic today. I mentioned in my previous recap that theirs is the you-complete-me friendship (love), that they complement each other. This episode in particular showed us this. The more these two interact with one another, the more you can literally see them grow as individuals.
First, Lee Sun-joon. Stick in the mud, uptight, self-righteous. Doesn’t look like he’s ever had a friend, and Yoon-hee might very much be his first. As we witnessed, he’s lived his entire life in a safe little bubble, having learned what he knows through books and his father. There isn’t anything wrong with this; it just placed him on the other side of the stone wall that separates idealism from reality. And Yoon-hee comes picking at the stones with a little axe. With her help, I hope to see him become the bridge that allows the coexistence of idealism and reality.
Second, Kim Yoon-hee. I’ll just say what I honestly feel. Set everything I love about her aside, and she’s a bundle of inferiority complexes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame her for it. In fact, if I were here, I’d be a constantly raging bull. What I want to say is that she’s pretty jaded and cynical in her view of the world, the opposite end of the spectrum from Sun-joon. On the other side of that wall. Which is why they’re so dang perfect for one another. They balance each other out.
Let me just wrap up this recap with this final thought: Who else thinks the stoic Kang-moo will one day bust a cap in In-soo’s behind? No? Wishful thinking? But I swear there’s something more to that guy…
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 7
- Behind the Scenes on Sungkyunkwan Scandal
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal NG Cuts + Cast Interview
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 6
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 5
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 4
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 3
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 2
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 1