Dear Korean viewers,
As people who directly influence the ratings every day, I’d like to grab you by the shoulders and give you a little shake. There’s a great gem of a drama here that so many of you are overlooking. I know that ratings aren’t everything and that there have been plenty of other series that were more severely overlooked despite their high level of quality (*cough* Tamra), but goddammit I love this series and would do near anything to see it get the ratings it deserves.
Love, red pill
SONG OF THE DAY
Untouchable – 회전목마 (Merry Go Round) (feat. Jin-sung of Monday Kiz) [download]
LESSON 10 RECAP
With the guards getting closer, an already panicky Sun-joon stands stunned as the beautiful gisaeng(?) holds him close. It’s only when she tells him who she is that it really hits him, and he drops the account book in shock.
Outside, a nervous Yong-ha asks In-soo if the thief has been caught, to which In-soo smugly replies, “No worries. He’s a rat swimming in poison.”
Said rat is being pushed down to the ground by Yoon-hee as she pretends they’re engaged in some inappropriate activities in order to throw off the guards. It succeeds and they’re left alone. Yoon-hee awkwardly explains that dressing up as a gisaeng was the only way she could get into the house.
He blames her for making him drop the account book and turns around to try and calm his pounding heart. It doesn’t work because his hand shakes when he takes the book from her, immediately making her concerned. He snatches his hand away and bumps open the door to a secret room that houses a lot of secret ledgers with the illegal transactions between the merchants and the Noron officials.
Yoon-hee wants to take one but Sun-joon talks her out of it. It’s far too dangerous, so dangerous that even the king wouldn’t be able to save them.
The guards tell In-soo that they found no one except a guy and a gisaeng fooling around, so Cho-sun is questioned. But all her girls are with her. Suspicious, In-soo orders the guards to find the mysterious gisaeng and her lover. On the way he runs into his father, who is also desperate to confirm that the secret ledgers are untouched.
The doors to the secret room are found wide open and Merchant Song is sent into a frenzied panic. The ledgers will be the ruin of both the merchants and the Noron officials. In fact, if the thief isn’t found, there will be no tomorrow for the Noron faction.
Sun-joon and Yoon-hee are hiding behind some stacked items when In-soo catches sight of the edge of Yoon-hee’s skirt and walks over. In a moment of impeccable timing, a gaggle of gisaengs turn the corner and interfere. Sun-joon and Yoon-hee are gone, and In-soo only finds Yong-ha, who asks cheekily, “Why are you so angry this time? Did the rat escape?”
The usually brave Yoon-hee finds herself unable to jump down from the wall she’s perched on. Sun-joon finds this amusing and holds out his hand, but retracts it almost immediately when he sees her smile. He stutters for her to get down. The sound of guards approaching does the trick, and he reaches up for her as she jumps down.
They’re chased down the streets but manage to elude the guards by ducking behind a cart. Their relief of getting away is cut short when they realize they’re holding hands.
Did we ever hear see Sun-joon pour out his true feelings? No? Well, here we go:
“Did you pity me? To come for me at this hour, moreover in that dress… Did you think me weak and helpless and unable to succeed? You came to help because you pitied me?” (Didn’t we hear this somewhere before? Touché. Our Ga-rang must’ve taken lessons from Baek Seung-jo.) “You assumed I’d accept any help that was offered to me? I don’t pity you just like you don’t pity me. At first, I didn’t want to waste your talent. Then I needed you. If I were to ever have a friend, I wanted it to be you. I just didn’t know how to go about it since I’ve never done this before. I’m sorry, Kim Yoon-shik.”
And just like that, all the defenses and walls she built up, all the attempts to resolve her feelings towards him, come crashing down. And she did try so very hard to stifle her emotions.
Taken aback by the tears, Sun-joon does the typical guy thing and apologizes, though he has no idea what he’s done wrong. He just doesn’t want her to cry anymore.
Meanwhile, poor Jae-shin is worried to death about Yoon-hee. And it definitely doesn’t help that Yong-ha comes back alone. One look at Jae-shin’s bust lip, and Yong-ha figures out that Jae-shin helped delay the guards. He’s quick to reassure his friend that Yoon-hee is safe. “Friend, I’m Gu Yongha. Think I’d leave such a pretty boy alone in that den of lions?”
And we find out that Yong-ha was behind the gaggle of gisaengs. Having overheard the girls mention seeing Yoon-hee, he set it up so that they’d shield the two while they ran.
“Dae-mool exceeded my expectations. I knew he was pretty, but dressed up like that, I felt my heart a-pitter-patter.” Even the great Gu Yong-ha felt something for our pretty heroine.
Jae-shin is raving mad that Yoon-hee would do something so dangerous. But then Yong-ha reminds him that Jae-shin is the one who sent Yoon-hee to the merchant house. And Yoon-hee did the safest thing she could do to save Sun-joon.
In-soo stops Cho-sun and her girls on their way out and asks her who this extra gisaeng is. Cho-sun denies any knowledge, and In-soo replies that he knows she’s cohorts with Yeo-rim.
That’s when she puts him in his place. “Since when did you nobles ever lower yourselves to work with us lowly gisaengs? If you have anything else to say, come to Moran-gak. As a customer.”
Merchant Song is relieved that the ledgers are all in place, but he shouldn’t be because he just lost what leverage he had against the Noron nobles. Minister Ha is furious that the merchant thought to control the nobles with such evidence and he orders the ledgers to be burned.
Yoon-hee is back in her menswear as she and Sun-joon walk back to SKK. She’s worried that they won’t be able to find the thief since he’s recorded simply as a ban-in (someone from banchon) and they only have one day left.
Sun-joon has other things on his mind, like the smudge of lipstick left on her lips. She wipes it away, but now it’s like he can’t see anything else other than her lips. Gulping loudly, he turns and walks away briskly.
“Fool. Why did you dress up like that if you can’t even handle it well?” Sure, pretend to be meanie to hide the fact that your heart’s beating like a hummingbird’s.
An oblivious Yoon-hee keeps prancing around him, making cute faces.
Jae-shin the worrywart is driving Yong-ha nuts with all his pacing, but fortunately Yoon-hee and Sun-joon walk in (looking mighty cute together). Now that he’s confirmed that Yoon-hee is alright, Jae-shin plays it cool again. Nice try, buddy. You’re as transparent as Sun-joon is.
Once again, In-soo is plotting away since Sun-joon slipped through his fingers. He orders his posse to find the real thief first and make it so that Yoon-hee and her friends can’t find him.
Yong-ha concludes that the thief must be someone who can come in and out of SKK without being suspected; in other words, someone who works at SKK. He proves his point when he flings the door open and sends into flight a little eavesdropper. Clearly, the little boy is worried about his family member (the thief) getting caught.
The same little boy has the bad luck to run smack into In-soo while he’s running away, and In-soo notes that he came from Yoon-hee’s room.
Apparently Jae-shin has changed the sleeping positions for good, settling down in the middle. When Yoon-hee turns towards him, he inches toward Sun-joon, eventually snuggling up against the oblivious boy. Sun-joon tries to point out that he’s sleeping in the wrong place, but Jae-shin tells him to shut it.
Of course then Yoon-hee rolls towards him, making him panic and wrap his arm around Sun-joon. Tee hee.
The following morning, Yoon-hee is too nervous to eat. She wants to go to banchon now. But Jae-shin and Sun-joon both say, “Sit,” and Jae-shin adds, “Eat. If you complain about being hungry later, I’ll knock you to the ground.”
But the person who successfully gets her to eat is Professor Jung. He comments that she’ll be a real thief if she doesn’t eat. After all, the cost of her one meal can provide enough gruel for two to last two days. So if she lets that go to waste, she’s pretty much stealing from the people.
Yoon-hee determinedly sits down and stuffs herself.
Byung-choon has overheard Yoon-hee mention banchon, and In-soo’s group comes to the same conclusion: that the thief has someone on the inside.
Our beloved Jal-geum Quartet starts scouring banchon with a drawing of the thief boy, but to no avail. It’s not that no one recognizes him; it’s more a matter of loyalty. The banchon people will protect their own no matter what.
The trip to banchon has opened up Yoon-hee’s eyes; she had no idea the people were so poor. Half of these people do work fit for dogs and the other half are slaves to SKK. Is that why the thief stole from SKK?
But our upstanding citizen Sun-joon cannot excuse thievery, no matter what the circumstances. He’s more worried that they’re out of time and won’t be able to clear Yoon-hee’s name. He suggests that they take a different approach.
Well, they need to hurry because In-soo is hot on the trail and already found out who that little helper boy from the previous night is.
Sun-joon’s different approach is to do a little research (see, only he would suggest that), and it pays off. The Jal-geum Quartet finds out that this theft was the only ban-in related record in the account book and there were no other thefts in SKK in recent years, meaning the thief is not a repeat offender. He must’ve suddenly needed money, possibly for a wedding, moving costs, funeral costs or to pay for ancestral rites.
They find out that prices for salt and the cloth used to dress the deceased have skyrocketed recently, meaning the thief might have used the stolen items to barter for either. And there’s only one helper boy whose family member (mother) passed away recently. It’s Bok-dong, the eavesdropper.
Our fearless foursome split up to search for Bok-dong’s brother Bok-soo, but unfortunately In-soo finds him first. Bok-soo drops the salt he is carrying and tries to run, only to be blocked by Kang-moo. In-soo warns him against running away – it’s an acknowledgement of guilt. He then offers Bok-soo a bribe in exchange for his silence. Just until the exam that’ll be in two days.
The Jal-geum Quartet stumbles upon Bok-soo by accident. Bok-soo demands to see their proof that he stole from SKK, and Yoon-hee holds out the account book and mentions the fact that Bok-dong is a helper boy. That’s more than enough proof.
But Bok-soo scoffs at their proof. What can they possibly do? Turn him over to the police? (Yong-ha stands up indignantly but immediately steps back when Bok-soo glares at him. “Good eyes you’ve got there.” Yeah, Yeo-rim, leave the tough guy act to Guh-ro. By the way, how adorable is it that he’s holding Bok-dong in his lap?)
Bok-soo has the advantage. He lives in banchon, where even the police can’t walk in and arrest him. Yoon-hee doesn’t understand how Bok-soo can be so confident. Bok-soo counters that he did nothing wrong. The SKK scholars eat and study thanks to the blood and sweat of the people. So why can’t he get a cut of the pie?
Sun-joon points out that that doesn’t justify the theft.
Bok-soo: Then what should I do? I have to hold a funeral for my mother. Until the day she died, she never had any decent medicine and never got checked by a physician. If that isn’t bad enough, she always suffered without ever getting to wear nice clothes. Shouldn’t I be allowed to dress her up as she leaves? But I don’t even have money to buy her clothes. Try as hard as I can, I can’t pay for it. So that’s it? The poor and the helpless can’t even have basic human rights? What kind of world is that? And you want me to help you? Get out. You guys were born into rich families, you deserve to suffer a little.”
Yoon-hee’s had enough and walks away, and she’s followed by Sun-joon. He tries to stop her, but she has nothing more to say when everything Bok-soo said is right. In fact, he reminds Yoon-hee of herself, before she was lucky enough to meet Sun-joon and get this special chance to be at SKK. If not for that, she might be in the same position Bok-soo’s in.
Byung-choon and Go-bong watch as Yong-ha and Jae-shin also leave Bok-soo’s house. They happily report back to In-soo that Bok-soo will keep his end up the deal. In-soo is immensely pleased by the idea that the king will kick Yoon-hee out of SKK.
Hyo-eun accompanies her father to visit Minister Lee for a formal introduction. She’s acting like the proper lady she’s actually not, and a couple of times her father signals to her like a catcher in a baseball game, keeping her in check. Minister Lee is firm and a bit curt, but in the end he accepts her.
On her way home, Hyo-eun rages about being terrified of Sun-joon’s father. She’s determined to learn Chinese since she plans to convince Sun-joon to study abroad in China once they’re married. Then in the next moment, she’s squealing about how cute Minister Lee’s eyelashes are; they remind her of Sun-joon’s. Just plain nutty is what I say.
Minister Ha reports to Minister Lee that Merchant Song has been removed from power thanks to his foolishness. He should’ve known that if he plays with fire, it’ll be his own hand that gets burned. Those silly merchants don’t know any better.
Minister Ha mentions in feigned nonchalance that someone saw Sun-joon at Merchant Song’s house that night. He’s a young man who already knows the way of the world. It’s a poorly camouflaged poke, and Minister Lee knows it. He acquiesces that he must be a foolish father since he hears his son’s news through others.
But there’s no need to worry. All the secret ledgers were burned.
Or so Minister Ha thinks. Actually, Yoon-hee swiped one without Sun-joon knowing it. And this ledger is the real reason Yoon-hee couldn’t ask Bok-soo to testify on her behalf. Because Bok-soo isn’t the real culprit here.
Jae-shin is furious and asks if she’s okay with getting kicked out. I mean, why’d she come to SKK at all when she’s gonna give up so easily?
Yoon-hee: I’m not sure. The only thing I’m sure of is that as long as ledgers like these are made, there will always be boys like Bok-soo. But I can’t see the point of turning Bok-soo in to prove my innocence. I don’t know if I have the right to do that.
Sun-joon is left flipping through the ledger and he recognizes all the Noron names. It’s an indirect implication of his father, and everyone knows it. He tries to play it cool, pretending that he’s okay (but everyone knows that he’s not). In fact, his head’s full of a mishmash of images, and in the end, Bok-soo becomes tangled up with the angry Yoon-hee pre-SKK. The Yoon-hee who couldn’t see what was so great about their nation.
Yong-ha is particularly worried, telling Jae-shin that Sun-joon’s going through a lot of heartache. The ledger doesn’t directly mention Minister Lee, but in the end, everything points to him. He wonders what Sun-joon will do with the ledger.
Jae-shin’s guess is that Sun-joon won’t do a thing. After all, no matter what terrible thing his father did, they’re still father and son. That’s what sucks about that relationship, and we know he’s speaking from experience.
Yoon-hee is just as confused as Sun-joon, and she wallows in the library. Professor Jung comes upon her and asks if she’s accepted her guilt.
Yoon-hee claims that she’s innocent, and that fact won’t change even if the real thief isn’t found.
No, Professor Jung sets her straight, she will still be guilty. She can feel bad for the suffering people all she wants, but if she can’t help solve their problems, she’s also guilty. And if she can’t even prove herself innocent, she’s no better than being guilty and deserves to be kicked out.
Yoon-hee’s not gonna take that sitting down. She gets in the final word when she asks: “You said women have no right to exert authority. But sir, isn’t it strange? Why is Joseon the way it is when it’s men with that right who have always ruled?”
You go girl.
Yoon-hee goes looking for Sun-joon and finds him dealing with his complicated thoughts by practicing his archery. She tells him frankly that she plans to bring forward the true thief – the men in the secret ledger. But she decided that if anyone should start something with this ledger, it should be Sun-joon.
Sun-joon: Is it because of my father? That means I might make the other choice. I… might let you down.
Yoon-hee: Then that’ll be that. I trust you, more than I trust myself. You’re always pushing yourself. Putting up a prickly front and constantly talking about principles. That’s your way of doing your best to become a good person. This time will be no different. Whatever choice you make will probably be the right one. Even if it’s different from what I’m thinking.
(Swoon. Yoon-hee rocks.)
Jae-shin is back at Bok-soo’s house, washing Bok-dong’s feet. He’s talking to what seems to be air, but Bok-soo’s actually standing to the side, listening. He tells Bok-soo that Yoon-hee is under suspicion for something she didn’t do; he should understand how it feels to be unjustly treated.
Then he tells Bok-soo that eavesdropping can become a habit, as can running away. So far in the series, the “it’ll become a habit” saying has been Jae-shin’s catchphrase, and we finally find out why. Turns out his brother used to say that to him. “Don’t cry all the time, it’ll become a habit. Don’t lie, it’ll become a habit. Don’t run away, it’ll become a habit.” And sure enough, Jae-shin had picked up the saying like a habit.
See, little brothers watch their older brothers from behind and follow in their ways. Does Bok-soo want his little bro to become a petty thief or a scaredy cat? The thing is, Bok-soo still has the chance to live as a decent human being.
In a moment that contrasts with In-soo’s bribery earlier, Jae-shin lends Bok-soo money to pay back the items he stole. And he has faith that Bok-soo will do the right thing since his little bro Bok-dong is watching his every move.
The stickler for rules Sun-joon breaks curfew to go talk to his father.
Sun-joon: I have something to ask, Father. You always taught me that the most important thing to a scholar who wants to better the world is his beliefs. You said a true scholar will leave even his family if they stand in the way of those beliefs. Do you still believe that? You know that though I’m lacking, I’ve always worked hard to follow your footsteps.
Minister Lee: For which I’m glad.
Sun-joon: Father, should I continue to follow your words?
Minister Lee: You’ve wasted your time coming here. You are my son. Until now you’ve never once gone against my word. And I’ve never once doubted that you will.
That night, the three roommates spend the night apart, each caught up in their own thoughts. Sun-joon reads a book and struggles with the decision he must make. Yoon-hee sits alone in the dorm room, and outside the room Jae-shin stands watch.
Finally, it’s the following morning. Yoon-hee is looking for Sun-joon, but he’s nowhere to be found. And despite Jae-shin’s hopes, Bok-soo hasn’t come either.
In front of the students and the professors, King Jeong-jo asks Yoon-hee if she found the real thief. She starts to answer no, but Jae-shin cuts her off, saying that given a little more time, the thief will turn himself in for sure.
In-soo won’t stand for that. He points out that the deadline was the day prior, and therefore Yoon-hee and her friends have failed the exam. The king acknowledges that Yoon-hee has failed to find the thief in the time allotted.
“The thief is right here.”
In walks Sun-joon, ledger in hand. (I knew he wouldn’t let us down.)
“The true thief of the theft in question is in this ledger here, Your Majesty.”
You go boy.
Sun-joon the character has been slowly evolving since we first met him, and mostly they’ve been in smaller ways: learning to deal with other people, learning to bend his principles just a little, sacrificing himself for others, etc. But this time, it’s huge. He’s going up against Daddy Lee, and this is no small deal. The man he’s looked up to his entire life might be involved in this huge scandal that’s hurting the people – and he’s turning in the evidence to the king directly. It’s a make or break situation, and I’m glad to see that he’s looking strong at the end of the episode. Strong, confident and determined.
Oh, and FABULOUS cameo by LEE MIN-HO (of Gumiho: Tale of the Fox’s Child) in the role of Bok-soo. What a great child actor. If only my mother hadn’t mentioned that he looked like Tablo in certain angles, I would’ve enjoyed his appearance without the giggles.
As a final note, I noticed that the replies in the recap of episode 8 got pretty messy. Please, let’s keep this clean and nice. It’s okay to disagree, but it’s not cool to fight like cats and ruin everyone’s fun. As Jae-shin would say, that could become a habit.
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 9
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 8
- 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