Dear history experts and buffs,
Please don’t take my following words as sacrilege. But I say screw history! At least for the remaining six episodes of Sungkyunkwan Scandal. I don’t want to hear talk about how illogical it is for Sun-joon and Yoon-hee to be together (as the Romeo and Juliet of Joseon), or that King Jeong-jo never actually overthrows the Norons with the help of four fabulous boys (and girl). Or how impossible it is for Yoon-hee to eventually sit at the right hand of the king and show those darn men how things are done. I know that Sungkyunkwan Scandal was initially toted as a fusion sageuk – but is it possible for it to be a fantasy fusion sageuk so I can have my (unrealistically) happy ending?
Love, red pill
SONG OF THE DAY
Sechskies – 예감 (Premonition) [download]
LESSON 14 RECAP
“Good thing… I stayed alive.”
Quite possibly the hottest injured guy ever, Jae-shin pulls off his mask and reveals himself to Yoon-hee. Unbeknownst to them is that In-soo and his guys are looking for Jae-shin – while Sun-joon looks for Yoon-hee. It’s the latter who spots Yoon-hee randomly sweeping the grounds in an attempt to hide Jae-shin’s tracks and follows her to hyang-gwan-chung where Jae-shin is bleeding extensively.
The wound is more serious than Yoon-hee thought and she’s struck dumb for a moment. Then she tears off a strip of her uniform and wraps it around him (I literally cringed because that doesn’t seem very hygienic to me). He reaches up to touch her face, but the pain overcomes him.
Sun-joon peeks in to see Yoon-hee and Jae-shin together, and they look awfully intimate since he doesn’t know about the wound. Add one more misunderstanding to the messy pile of Sun-joon’s emotions. As he rushes away from that scene, he bumps into the Three Stooges (Do-hyun, Hae-won and Won-tak) who are on their way to hyang-gwan-chung because of some silly superstition that the virgin ghost can help them get better grades. This CAN’T be good.
Really, is hyang-gwan-chung the ONLY secretive place in an all-guys school? Somehow I find that hard to believe, but In-soo and his posse head that way as well.
Meanwhile, Yoon-hee is trying to find ashes to staunch Jae-shin’s wound when a blindfolded man walks in, led by Yong-ha. Once again proving that he just may be omniscient, Yong-ha has brought a physician to treat Jae-shin. Of course moments after treating Jae-shin, that physician is spotted by In-soo and duly questioned to reveal that he treated a wounded man. When they reach hyang-gwan-chung, there’s no one there but they find Yong-ha’s fan. Could Yong-ha be Red while putting on a flamboyant peacock façade to throw everyone off his scent?
This logically leads them to our Yeo-rim’s room. For the first time ever, we see Yong-ha looking uneasy, but he plays it cool as In-soo tells an interesting story about a wounded Red Messenger slipping into SKK. There’s a dangerous moment when Yong-ha spots Jae-shin’s clothes sticking out from underneath the folding screen, but it’s quickly pulled in before In-soo sees it. In fact, Yong-ha stands up in front of the folding screen and blocks it with his entire body.
In-soo tells him about the physician and holds out the evidence that Yong-ha is involved: the fan. So how does our brilliant Yeo-rim get out of this one? He mocks In-soo for even suspecting for a second that Yong-ha might actually be Red and thanks him for being entertaining for once. As for the fan, well, he let the helper boys have it and someone must’ve dropped it in hyang-gwan-chung.
Insulted, In-soo warns Yong-ha that he doesn’t give second chances (wait, then why is Byung-choon back to being one of your hunting dogs?).
If Yong-ha’s not Red, then it should be the boys in Yoon-hee’s room, but no one’s in. That’s when it hits In-soo that Yong-ha was acting awfully suspicious in front of the folding screen. On their way back, they run into Professor Yoo and Professor Jung. It’s against the rules to be out of bed so late, but they’re excused since they’re after the Red Messenger, public enemy number one.
(Might I add that I find Go-bong delightfully hilarious? Like how he outright worries about poor Red who must be bleeding somewhere – and he doesn’t realize that he’s taking the wrong side. In-soo’s friends need to either convert him or leave him.)
In-soo returns to Yong-ha’s room with the staff in tow and sweeps away the folding screen to find a stack of racy red books. Ah, Yeo-rim, your porn stash saved the day.
Back in what seems to be the faculty room, Professor Jung sets In-soo in his place. It is literally against the law to search any SKK students on campus; it is only allowed under order of the king. There is a loophole to this in that the school president can dish out punishment, but alas, In-soo’s president status has been suspended for two weeks. So if he exerts any authority as president during this time, Professor Jung will make sure that he loses the position permanently.
Back in Yeo-rim’s room, he opens the secret closet behind the curtains AND the folding screen, and there’s our dear Dae-mool and Guh-ro. Yoon-hee asks how Yong-ha seems to know everything. Jae-shin answers for him, “He’s THE Gu Yong-ha. The persistent guy who’s been following me around for ten years.” Heh.
Glad that his friend is back alive ,Yong-ha rubs Jae-shin’s hand to his cheek. Jae-shin promptly pulls away, claiming Yong-ha to be unmanly, but the expression on his face shows that his words have only affectionate bark and no bite.
Yong-ha unnecessarily warns Yoon-hee that she mustn’t tell anyone, including Sun-joon. Don’t waste your breath, Yeo-rim, our girl is smart.
As for Sun-joon, well, he’s turned to the comfort of alcohol (drinking with a pointed pinkie!). I imagine it’s hard enough realizing that he’s “gay,” but to witness the boy you like with another guy… My heart goes out to him.
In-soo, too, has turned to alcohol to vent about losing Red from right underneath his nose. Kang-moo warns him that now’s not a good time (since he’s temporarily lost his privileges as president), but In-soo rebuffs him. He’s NOT afraid about that. He’s more concerned about catching Red, since it’s clear that he’s somewhere in SKK.
Fake Red, also known as our delightfully charismatic Cho-sun, has been hurt as well in the scuffle with Jae-shin. Minister Ha tells her not to continue her gisaeng duties for a few days. She reminds him to keep his promise (what promise? Is this related to her family?). “Before it’s too late, just once, I want to live as a decent human being.”
But I imagine Minister Ha has bigger things on his plate. Like Minister Lee’s wrath at yet another failed capture attempt. Ha blames the mysterious men in black who saved Red, which Minister Lee confirms to be what we’ve all been suspecting, that they were sent by the king. The king wants the geumdeungjisa, which would make the Norons traitors to the country.
Many clues lead Minister Lee to believe that the geumdeungjisa is at SKK: Red is a student there, the king sent Professor Jung Yak-yong to teach there and the king visits SKK way too often. And he’s worried about what the king wants to accomplish AFTER gaining control over the Norons.
Professor Jung brings to the king blueprints for a primitive lift that’ll decrease the construction time needed to build the Hwansung castle from ten years to three. Pleased, the king rolls himself a new cigarette, and the sharp-eyed Professor notices that the king is actually smoking poppy, which works as an anesthetic. And so we learn that the king’s health is in dire conditions – which explains why he’s so anxious to get the Jal-geum Quartet to find the geumdeungjisa.
In exchange for getting the Quartet involved, Professor Jung extracts a promise from the king: If ever the king finds fault with any of the Quartet, he will turn a blind eye. (Professor Jung, thank you for creating a loophole with which to save Yoon-hee’s life, and even possibly Jae-shin’s as well.)
Once that’s promised, Professor Jung promises to bring the Jal-geum Quartet in the morning.
Morning comes and Jae-shin wakes up to both Yoon-hee and Yong-ha asleep at his side, having nursed his wounds all night. But of course he pretends to be asleep when Yoon-hee wakes up. Boy, don’t smile like that, you heart-breaker, you.
Yoon-hee heads back to her room where Sun-joon wakes up. I love it how the first thing he does is tie his clothes and make himself presentable. Old habits die hard.
Things are still tense between Yoon-hee and Sun-joon. Yoon-hee tells him that she understands things can’t be the same as before so he can stop treating her so coldly. Outside the room, she runs into Soon-dol who tells her that the engagement date has been set.
Soon-dol rebukes Sun-joon, noting that his master has managed to chase away yet another could-be friend. So what is it this time? What is Yoon-hee lacking for Sun-joon to torment her?
“He’s not lacking. It’s because… my feelings are overflowing.”
Add another heart-breaker to the list, please.
Yoon-hee and Jae-shin meet in the library, and by chance, Jae-shin ends up pulling Yoon-hee close to keep her out of harm’s way – only to be spotted by the Three Stooges. Their suspicions of something’s-up-between-those-two are further aroused when Jae-shin pulls her close again to tell her she’s making it too obvious that he’s Red. The Stooges gossip that it’s no wonder Sun-joon looked like he saw a ghost the previous night when his roommates are, cough, a couple.
As expected, the gossip spreads like a Californian brushfire. Pretty soon, the rumor goes from “Sun-joon saw them together” to “Sun-joon says he saw them together – and says they’re darn right freaky.” In the end, the headmaster finds out from posters hung in the bathroom stall. Expectedly, he freaks out. But things are now beyond the control of the faculty.
When the rumors lead to sparks between the Soron and Noron factions, In-soo steps in to remind everyone that SKK has its own judicial system that can be implemented to settle this matter. Which is how he gets everyone (minus our main characters) to clamor for the withdrawal of In-soo’s suspension as school president. Once he’s reinstated, they plan to hold a jaehwe, a student body disciplinary meeting, to judge Yoon-hee and Jae-shin for their possible homosexual activities.
Cornered, the faculty has no choice but to acquiesce. Hence, the jaehwe is announced, and if Yoon-hee and Jae-shin are found guilty (by majority vote), their names will be stricken from the SKK register and they’ll never be able to take any civil service exams and hold any offices.
Jae-shin accosts In-soo, demanding that the latter cancel the meeting. In-soo will cancel the meeting if Jae-shin can explain what he was doing at hyang-gwan-chung, but of course Jae-shin can’t answer without blowing his Red cover. And this time, In-soo’s backed by the Sorons as well; they want Jae-shin to clear the Soron name in front of everyone.
In the library, Yoon-hee asks Sun-joon if he saw them at hyang-gwan-chung. When Sun-joon refuses to respond, Yoon-hee declares that she’s a man and the idea of her liking another man is preposterous.
Sun-joon takes her words to heart. “I see. It is preposterous to like another man. Then watch how you act so others don’t misunderstand your feelings.” Read: So I don’t misunderstand your feelings.
In-soo interrupts their conversation to name Sun-joon as the main witness at the meeting. After all, he saw them that night and he’s their roommate.
Our omniscient Yong-ha reads In-soo like an open book. He understands that because the upright and principled Sun-joon is now the main witness, the meeting will have an impression of fairness and have more credibility.
But for In-soo, homosexuality isn’t the issue here. The fact is the two in question were seen embracing in hyang-gwan-chung, and this can mean one of two things: one of them is the wounded Red or they’re lovers. Whichever it’s proven to be, they will be kicked out of SKK. And Sun-joon, a man of principle and the sole son of Minister Lee, will have to turn his back on them; there’s no way he’ll let a homosexuality rumor dirty his family’s honor.
Essentially, if In-soo has his way, he will dominate all four of the Quartet: he’ll have two kicked out, make Sun-joon a traitor to their friendship, and isolate Yong-ha.
When Jae-shin can’t find Yoon-hee, he worries and asks Sun-joon about her whereabouts.
Jae-shin: Where’d he go, worrying me like this?
Sun-joon: Is this your way of worrying? Putting the person you care about in a difficult situation, a place where he’ll be scorned by the world? Is that how you worry? If you really care for Kim Yoon-shik, you should’ve never let this happen.
Jae-shin: It’s none of your business. I’ll take care of our problem –
Sun-joon: (dropping the formal tone) Then do it right so I don’t have to concern myself.
Yoon-hee is missing because she’s being questioned by Professor Jung. When it comes to the jaehwe, the school president rules supreme and not even the king can contest the final decision made by the students. So he needs to know the truth in order to save her before the meeting; once it’s underway, he can’t help her.
But she can’t expose Jae-shin. All she can say is that she and Jae-shin did nothing wrong.
Yong-ha is beside himself with frustration, demanding to know if Jae-shin intends to reveal himself like In-soo wants. Doing so would mean being convicted of murder, arson and theft, and lead to being executed. Yong-ha claims he’ll kill Jae-shin himself if Jae-shin tells the truth.
But Jae-shin knows it’s a bluff since Yong-ha has fists like cotton. Besides, he hasn’t made up his mind yet about what’s the right thing to do. And by right thing, Yong-ha guesses, Jae-shin means what is best for Yoon-hee.
From outside the room, Yoon-hee overhears every word.
Meanwhile, the frantic headmaster is eager to dissuade Sun-joon from testifying; he’ll do what he can to get Sun-joon excused. Imagine if Sun-joon takes the stand and people assume he’s gay as well because he shares a room with the other two!
But Sun-joon won’t go against the jaehwe rules by backing out now.
So the headmaster tells him to deny all knowledge; don’t even try to help those two! Being branded a homosexual is like a death sentence to a nobleman.
The other students start bullying Yoon-hee, immaturely throwing vegetables and salt at her and jeering (Koreans believe salt chases away bad luck). She meets eyes with Sun-joon, who looks like he’ll walk away, but he wouldn’t be the Sun-joon we know if he did. A single glare from him silences everyone, and as Jae-shin looks on, he leads Yoon-hee away.
Once alone, Yoon-hee asks Sun-joon to help them at the jaehwe. What she can tell him is that she and Jae-shin are innocent. She’s keeping her silence for him, and she needs Sun-joon’s help to protect him.
But that’s the wrong thing to say to the emotional mess that is Sun-joon. “Do you realize how big this predicament is? If things go wrong, your life could end up in the gutter. Yet even now, you worry about Moon Jae-shin more than yourself.”
She counters that she doesn’t expect him to understand since he’s always so honorable, but she pleads for him to trust her just this once.
Sun-joon: How much more must I do? Because of you… how much longer must I do such foolish, pathetic and stupid things that I normally wouldn’t do? (He walks away)
Yoon-hee: What else can I do? You’re the only person I can think to go to for help.
While on campus Jae-shin threatens students against bullying Yoon-hee, Yong-ha is at a bar, desperately doing what he can to save his best bud. He’s lobbying for not-guilty votes by buying drinks all around.
But Byung-choon and Go-bong crash the party with a valid point: the fact that the jaehwe is happening is in itself a guilty verdict. Jae-shin and Yoon-hee’s fates have already been decided and they’re doomed. Yong-ha’s one hope lies in that the verdict will be decided by majority vote, but Go-bong points out that no one will openly vote against In-soo.
Yoon-hee overhears talk of Sun-joon’s impending marriage, and she tries to temper her emotions through reading. But Jae-shin won’t let her wallow in misery. He knows something that’s twenty times better than the book, and he takes her to his usual nook in the tree that boasts a pretty impressive view of the city. He lied; it’s at least a hundred times better.
When asked why he became the Red Messenger, Jae-shin responds that it was an outlet for his frustration and the only way he could stay alive. Pretty much the same reason that Yoon-hee came to SKK.
And we finally hear more about Jae-shin’s brother: “I knew a guy who said he could hear the entirety of SKK breathing from up here. He’s the one who told me that SKK’s main gate opens up to the lowest, poorest area of Joseon, banchon, and not to the king’s palace.” In other words, SKK scholars should exist for the betterment of the people, not for their own political aspirations. And it’s this wise brother whose memory Jae-shin wants to honor; he wants people to know that Moon Young-shin once existed.
There, standing above the rest of the world, Jae-shin touches all our hearts: “Kim Yoon-shik. Kim. Yoon. Shik. I’ll make sure that name isn’t sullied. And I’m sorry. I wanted to say that before this day is gone.”
Sun-joon visits his future father-in-law, who marvels that he’ll soon become in-laws with Minister Lee. It was a difficult process that required a lot of groveling and crawling on the belly. He offers Sun-joon some unsolicited advice: Don’t be too rigid. It’s no good to stand up against the world, especially if you want to be someone with power.
Hyo-eun walks Sun-joon out. She tries hard to match his mood, but when she slips her hand into the crook of his arm, he brushes her away. It’s all a bit heartbreaking.
Minister Lee knows that Sun-joon doesn’t like Minister Ha, who has dreams of grandeur he doesn’t deserve and will do anything to attain them. But he also knows that Minister Ha will do whatever he must for Sun-joon’s sake, and that’s good enough for a father-in-law.
Sun-joon informs his father of his wish to leave SKK once he’s betrothed. His excuse is that he isn’t ready yet to take the next step after SKK, which is to prepare for office.
The jaehwe is called to order. Most people seem in favor of proclaiming Yoon-hee and Jae-shin’s guilt, waving around the guilty side of their vote paddles. Yoon-hee momentarily puts her hand over Jae-shin’s to keep him calm.
When questioned, Yoon-hee vehemently denies that she and Jae-shin have a homosexual relationship. But she’s unable to reveal what they were doing at hyang-gwan-chung that night. At a standstill, In-soo calls the main witness.
Sun-joon takes the stand and is asked directly: Did he see them at hyang-gwan-chung? In fact, they’re lovers, aren’t they?
Sun-joon’s reply is the last thing anyone would expect.
“The homosexual person… is me. I am a homosexual.”
Did Sun-joon just sentence himself to certain social death?
Today I want to talk about Gu Yong-ha. I know there are a lot of disappointed viewers out there because he’s not getting a back story, but I actually think it’s better that we don’t know. It adds to the mystique that is Yeo-rim. I don’t want to know exactly how and why he ended up the awesome, (nearly) all-powerful guy that he is (THE Gu Yong-ha) because that’s like explaining to me the inner mechanisms of my Galaxy S phone – I don’t need to know all that, I just need it to work brilliantly (ooh, shiny).
And I also like to imagine his life myself: lonely boy growing up in the middle of the marketplace with money being his only companion until he meets the mysterious Jae-shin who is manly as well as pure and righteous, an embodiment of a better world. And suddenly, he sees that he can use his natural charm, wits and money for something other than, well, himself.
Or maybe he was just born fabulous.
As a final note, for those who have seen episode 15, how jealous am I that Cassie gets to recap that one? <3
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 13
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 12
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 11
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 10
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 9
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 8
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 7
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 6
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 5
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 4
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 3
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 2
- Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 1