Drama Recaps
Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 17
by | November 3, 2010 | 191 Comments

Hey, girlfriday here, back for another hit of Joseon Crack. What can I say? You take a free sample, and next thing you know, you’re pawning your mom’s tv for another hit.

In this episode, the mystery and political intrigue takes center stage, as the past comes back to start ripping our foursome apart. Love is in the air, but so is death and darkness, and it looks like the final battle is going to be: Noron and Soron, power and truth, and head vs. heart.


Our foursome gets un-blindfolded, to discover that they’ve been assembled there in the dead of night…by the king. Professor Jung outs himself as the King’s partner in crime and confidant, and the king gives the quartet a job to do. He shows them a map of Joseon and tells them of his dream to someday make this a country where there are no ruling classes, where people can freely do business and farm and where everyone lives as equals. Aw, I love you, Anachronistic King that Defies Time and Space! I do, I truly do.

He charges them with the task of finding a box—one that houses very important royal documents, that was last in the possession of Yoon-hee’s father and Jae-shin’s brother. It was the thing they were killed for. Jae-shin looks sidelong at Yoon-hee, knowing that this is the first she’s hearing about it.

Yoon-hee is the first to speak up, once they’re left alone to think it over. She declares that she must do this, because it’s her only chance to know a father whose face she can barely remember. She thinks if she retraces his last steps, that perhaps she’ll learn of the man that he was. She asks for their help.

Yong-ha asks Guh-ro what he wants to do. He sighs that he wants to see if the world that those people had dreamed of could be a reality…because one them was his brother. Yoon-hee’s eyes widen to learn the connection between their families.

They take out her father’s will, and discover that it’s a code, a word-puzzle of the kind that they know the professor favored. They crack it piece by piece, as Jae-shin watches silently, and when they decipher geum…deung… he finishes the rest of it for them: geum-deung-jisa. I love this code-cracking scene. We all know what’s coming, and yet it’s suspenseful and riveting, and visually engaging.

Yoon-hee: “Geum-deung-jisa? The thing that the Red Messenger always…” Pause. Pause. Lightbulb! Haha. I love this moment of…waaaiiit, oh that’s right…YOU’re the Red Messenger!

She looks up at him: “Did you know these things…all this time?” They ask if he knows where the geum-deung-jisa is.

Jae-shin says he plans to start looking today, because as Yoon-hee said, perhaps by retracing their last steps they’ll be able to figure it out. He tasks the two brains with cracking the rest of the code, since he hates stuff that makes his head hurt. Oh, you’re just trying to look cool. You’ve read all the books in Sungkyunkwan, you inner nerd!

He starts to leave, and Yong-ha calls out, “What about me?” He looks back, pretending to be annoyed, “What do you think?” as he grabs him by the neck and drags him along. Aw. You two.

Once outside, Yong-ha asks what on earth this geum-deung-jisa is about, and why they’re looking so hard for it. Jae-shin fills him in on the details of what he knows: that the Norons are behind killing his brother and Yoon-hee’s father, for fear that the geum-deung-jisa would unearth their involvement in the death of Crown Prince Sado. (This is, of course, all operating under the assumption that it was a conspiracy, since this is in essence a task given by the king to clear his own father’s name. While the conspiracy theory is merely that—one of many conspiracy theories—it is historical fact that King Jeong-jo spent most of his life trying to clear his father’s name.)

Yong-ha balks that Jae-shin knows so much, when he pretended not to know anything more, earlier. He gives a knowing look, and we can surmise that it has something to do with Sun-joon being a Noron.

Meanwhile, In-soo has been busy outing the Red Messenger the night before, presenting Jae-shin’s bracelet to his father as proof of his identity. He insists they march into Sungkyunkwan with soldiers, and when his father resists, he mounts a plan on his own.

He catches up to Yong-ha and Jae-shin, surrounding them with soldiers and taunting them with the bracelet, declaring that he has the evidence to put away the Red Messenger for good. He bares Jae-shin’s wrist, sans bracelet, as proof.

Only Jae-shin presents his other arm—with the exact same bracelet. And then Yong-ha shows his wrist, with another of the same. That shuts In-soo up in a hurry, and they scamper off, even managing to retrieve the original bracelet from In-soo’s grasp. Genius, Gu Yong-ha. Only you would clear your best friend’s name through the use of accessories.

Yoon-hee starts to doubt herself, wondering if someone like her can undertake such a monumental task. Sun-joon kneels in front of her as he takes her hands, and gently tells her that he’ll always be by her side, when things get difficult, when she doubts herself, even if they come up empty-handed. It’s as sweet and perfect a declaration as she needs—not for someone to save her, but to promise he’ll be by her side.

Jae-shin has a nice moment with Professor Jung, who warns him of the risks of acting as the Red Messenger right now. Jae-shin is surprised that he knows, and is touched when the professor notes that he knew the identity of the Red Messenger because of his writing, as it resembled his older brother’s. Jae-shin in turn quotes a text he particularly respects—written by a Sungkyunkwan student long ago—Professor Jung in his youth. Aw. So nerdy, but I love this little exchange.

On their way out of the bookstore, Sun-joon and Yoon-hee get stuck in the hand-crank elevator (which Sun-joon can’t figure out how to work on his own because of his rich-and-spoiledness). They land in each other’s arms, so close to a kiss, but get interrupted by the nosy book clerk. Drat!

They get out of the steamy elevator and Sun-joon awkwards his way into the topic of kissing, trying to joke that perhaps Yoon-hee faked the elevator stalling to kiss him again, but fails miserably. Leave the jokes to the professionals, boy. Yoon-hee gets huffy at him out of embarrassment, declaring that he needn’t worry—she’ll never do “that” again. Ha. He’s left speechless and dumbfounded. Yeah, girls are complicated like that.

Jae-shin sees them flirting together, and though he’s known their feelings for some time now, it’s a further nail in the coffin to see them together. He sighs and smiles in his Guh-ro-esque way. Poor puppy.

In the library, Yoon-hee continues her research, but finds that Sun-joon is one step ahead of her. In each of the texts she picks up, he’s placed a series of little love notes. That is freaking adorable. They’re composed like little edicts—that she should forgive and smile, that a scholar should continue what he started. Do you mean the kissing? Oh, you cheeky squirrel.

She gets to the last note, but then another student grabs the book before her, sending Sun-joon into a tizzy. Heh. Love-note-panicked Sun-joon is hilarious. He barely manages to trade the love-note book for another copy without offending his classmate, and sighs in relief as he delivers his final note: I love you.


Yong-ha plies the local police with liquor, enough to distract them while he rifles through their old records. He discovers that on the night in question when Professor Kim and Jae-shin’s brother were killed, they would have been checked into the palace by guards. If the assassin were positioned there, and on the Noron payroll so that money was exchanged, he surmises that there will be a record. He starts asking around to find out whose luck had changed that day—if someone’s fortune had shot up overnight, people would know. Ever the smart one, this kid.

Yong-ha tracks the guy down, and finds that he had gambled away his fortune in no time. He’s about to dig a little deeper, when he gets discovered in the gambling hall by his irate father, who drags him out by the scruff like a little dog. He tries to reason with Dad, who doesn’t believe that he isn’t gambling, and gets further chewed out for pretending to live as a nobleman. His father is clearly a businessman, and a very wealthy one at that, but not a yangban, or a man of noble birth, which means that Yong-ha uses his father’s wealth to pretend that he’s a nobleman’s son.

As if on cue, In-soo’s lackeys discover this about Yong-ha just as we do, and report back, as In-soo mounts his case against our heroes.

Yong-ha drinks away his angst with his best friend, declaring that all this fancy following the king’s orders isn’t really for him, but what he believes in is Guh-ro. He relays what he’s found out thus far, and tells Guh-ro to find a record of the Noron payout to the assassin. Always follow the money. It’s the first rule of every cop procedural.

Guh-ro steals into his father’s study, and finds that his father’s got the exact record that he’s looking for. The money trail leads right to Sun-joon’s father and In-soo’s too, which is no surprise since they are the Number 1 and Number 2 of the Noron faction, respectively.

Dad interrupts him, and Jae-shin asks accusingly why these documents are in his father’s possession. Dad, displaying honesty for the first time, asks if he’s supposed to forgive the people who killed his son. Jae-shin’s world is rocked to find out that his father is not just a Noron puppet—he’s essentially a double agent, mounting a case against them to avenge his son’s murder. Well, this is clearly a case where it would’ve been nice if you had communicated a little better, Dad, because you’re both going all vigilante for the same cause, and you could’ve bonded over it instead of having your son disown you for most of his adolescence. Just sayin’.

Yong-ha and Jae-shin’s one-two daddy angst is breaking my heart, but it’s a nice parallel for their characters.

Meanwhile, the lovebirds are busy researching where to find the geum-deung-jisa, but Sun-joon can’t focus because he’s trying his darnedest to get handsy with his girl. Only she’s not cooperating. Keh. She finally lets him hold her hand, and requests that he focus on his work, and so he takes the opportunity to hold on for dear life. I don’t think he’s ever going to let go of that hand.

Jae-shin returns but can’t bring himself to enter that room, where he’ll have to face them being all cutesy with each other. He does what any third-wheel second lead would do. He grabs his liquor and perches in his tree for a bout of angst. Aw, baby bird, your heartache is tragic, but lovely.

The guard-turned-assassin has run out of money and decides to pay Sun-joon’s father a friendly visit. He alerts them that people from Sungkyunkwan are inquiring into the events of ten years past, and that he’ll need a little payoff money if he is to keep his mouth shut and disappear. In-soo’s father wants to kill him off, but Sun-joon’s father calmly agrees to pay, and later chastises his colleague for letting things unravel this far.

Sun-joon wakes up the next morning to find that he and Yoon-hee have fallen asleep at their desks, still holding hands. Oy, I’m glad Jae-shin didn’t come in last night, because he might have vomited all over his broken heart.

Sun-joon finds him in the library, to ask if the geum-deung-jisa has to do with Prince Sado’s death. Jae-shin just answers curtly that they ought to stick to their separate tasks, and walks away.

Yoon-hee catches up to him, and he softens immediately at the sight of her. (How could he not, when she’s so particularly cute with him?) He doesn’t say anything, but pats her on the shoulder and sighs as he tries to distance himself knowing what’s to come.

Yoon-hee and Sun-joon head to the bookstore, and he sends her ahead of him, stopping to pick up a present for her. But when Yoon-hee enters the bookstore, Hyo-eun is there, making for quite the awkward meeting, especially when she asks for Yoon-hee’s help in getting Sun-joon back. She reminds Yoon-hee that theirs is an engagement between families, and therefore one that can’t be broken lightly, because of minor things like feelings.

Then Sun-joon comes bounding up, tilting the awkward into full-on tense. Yoon-hee tries to exit, leaving them to talk alone, but Sun-joon stops her (by the wrist, argh). He tells Hyo-eun that he’s sorry, but his heart belongs to another and his feelings (or lack thereof) won’t change. He drags Yoon-hee out, leaving Hyo-eun floored.

He drags her into an alley, where he demands to know what she meant by leaving him to talk with Hyo-eun. She replies that she simply thought they might have things to discuss, as he is bound to marry her someday…

She adds that she doesn’t hope or dream of any more than what she has at the present, and has never even let herself dream of a real future with him. Sun-joon practically jumps down her throat (Not literally—pull yourself together!), telling her to start thinking about it now, sincerely, and seriously. He thinks about it day and night, and has changed his views on everything he thought was impossible because of her. But she’s still refusing to step outside of her prescribed social box. What a nice bookend that now it’s Sun-joon who is pulling Yoon-hee into a gray area, challenging her ideas of the world as she did for him in the beginning.

Yoon-hee: “Then what am I supposed to do? I’m so scared. I’m so happy every day. I’m not used to these things.” He pulls her in for a hug, and then starts to lean in for a kiss…

…only to be thwarted by their hats. Drats again! Goddamn wide-brimmed hats of non-kissery!

It’s a great way to undercut the earnestness of the moment, with some much-needed levity and brightness. I love these two most when they’re competitive and petty, but second when they’re awkward and smiling. This time she reaches for his hand as they run off to meet their friends.

Yong-ha presents Jae-shin with the payoff documents he found, announcing that all they have to do now is find out who the real source of the money is. Jae-shin tells him that they should fold; their task was to find the geum-deung-jisa, not the murder culprit. But Yong-ha catches on right away: “You know, don’t you? Who is it?”

Sun-joon and Yoon-hee enter the elevator, and he remembers the present he got for her. He takes out a ring (he’s already wearing the matching one) and places it on her finger. Sun-joon: “Did you say that after we leave Sungkyunkwan, it’ll be the end of us? There’s no such thing as the end. Because I’ll start it again, every day.”

They head down in the elevator, and when it lurches again, she jumps into his arms. That’s enough for Sun-joon to finally decide that he will make the kiss happen, hats be damned, and he starts to untie her hat. Omo. Why do I feel like he’s undressing her?

He takes off his hat too, and kisses her.

They bask in the moment for about two seconds, before they overhear Yong-ha’s rising voice:

“You’re telling me that the person behind all of this is…Sun-joon’s father?”

Oh. Crap.

Well finding out your honey’s father killed your own will put a damper in any budding romance, THAT’s for sure.


While none of the revelations plot-wise were of any surprise, I do enjoy very much how they were delivered throughout the course of the episode. Yong-ha is the investigator, Sun-joon and Yoon-hee are the code-crackers. Jae-shin is on a slightly different trajectory because he knows the things that the other three are finding out, but he’s playing a different role—he wants to protect Yoon-hee and Sun-joon from finding out the tragic twist about their fathers. And his continual heartbreak kills me.

I was frankly a little deflated after Sun-joon found out that Yoon-hee was a girl (his lack of a pulse in that matter was wasted potential, dramatically speaking). It let a lot of air out of the tires, because the middle-episode span of his growing romantic angst was so good. But the execution of the political storyline is better than I expected. What used to bore me before is much more interesting in the final stretch, mostly because our foursome become active detectives in solving the mystery and finding the treasure, metaphorically speaking.

I hope that they do this last dramatic hurdle due diligence in the story, because I want to feel that their work in bringing about this better tomorrow is earned, and that the couple can actually have a realistic happily ever after in this world.


191 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Bun

    Aiaaaa!!!! Thanks girlfriday!!!

  2. Mary

    Moon Jae Shin I’ll miss ya!

    • 2.1 Ani

      Heck, I’ll see him in my dreams even after this. XD

      Thanks girlfriday.

    • 2.2 JD

      ME, TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *blows a kiss*

      • 2.2.1 budsdiana


        • jsFeVer

          Then…. Me four…..night dream & day dream, non stop forever……..

  3. Crew

    I cheated and already read spoilers, but I can’t wait to see your take on it! Thanks so much!

  4. jea

    Oh Moon Jae Shin, the second lead love syndrome is killing me!

    • 4.1 stars4u

      second lead syndrome!

      My heart breaks every time i see him give way for YHee and SJ but i guess he’s better off with YHa! Their bromance is so cute that it kills me!

    • 4.2 Anonymous

      All I’m saying Guh ro, darling I’m here with a shoulder (or two) to cry on if you need me! Call Me!!!!! 😉

  5. kixbaby

    i just noticed, did micky fix his teeth?

    • 5.1 lizzz

      Not LOL XD there wan nothing to fit ….
      I always loved his smile bcoz of his perfect teeth <3

    • 5.2 dragontattoo

      actually, yes. I’m pretty sure he whitened them lol.

  6. joseon crack

    i smell something fishy here … got a feeling that it is not a coincidence that all the best episodes are recapped by GIRLFRIDAY!. nevertheless, i always enjoy reading your review. this is my most fave episode… the KISS omg!!! …….. arggggggggggggggggggggg … off to read. thanks gf.

    • 6.1 girlfriday

      Drats! You’re on to me! I was hoping no one would notice.

      Listen, I blame it on the crack. ‘s’all I’m sayin’.

      • 6.1.1 SKKSfan

        yeah. your unexpected recaps are quite suspicious. anyway, i still enjoy them as much as this episode. thank you for saying the right words at the right scenes.

        question: why don’t you like Yoon Hee’s gender revelation to Sun Joon? because at the last recap, red_pill explained why he was like that.

        • MissChiVyus

          Actually, I think it’d be interesting to see Sun Joon’s reaction to kissing a guy, and THEN have him find out Yoon Hee’s real gender. I wonder how the writer’s take on the story would be if they spun it that way.

          Thanks for the awesome recap GF.

          “Goddamn wide-brimmed hats of non-kissery!” -LOL Perhaps, these hats were historically designed that way to promote abstinence…….in more ways than one.

    • 6.2 stars4u

      i was wondering the exact same thing…

      Girlfriday gets to recap the good episodes! But guess that’s not a bad thing at all!

  7. jm126n j

    [girly squeal]
    Micky Yoochun!

    • 7.1 lizzz

      yeah! … the kiss scene killed me! TT___TT

      • 7.1.1 Senstar

        OMG!! It killed me too. And then, I kept watching again and again

    • 7.2 babynight

      i dreamt of Micky Yoochun the other night! no jokes!! 😀
      and talking about the kiss!!!
      “Why do I feel like he’s undressing her?” thats exactly how i feel!!!!
      And could it be any more real?!!! i mean, the intensity, the feel and everything was soo perfect!!!!!

      • 7.2.1 dreamer

        i browse thru Micky pic and somehow I didn’t find him as sexy in modern drabs as in Joseon costume…

        and yeah, it’s just a hat but it was so darn “hot”

        • Kaitlyn

          haha i have a hard time reconciling all their REAL images to the one in the show.

          the dress up in the SKKS is waaay more appealing to me.

  8. Angel

    Thanks girlfriday! I’m so sad that SKKS is over… T_T

    And Yoochun is so hot. Omo. I want to be kissed by him too! Hats or no hats!

    • 8.1 lizzz

      Me too … i will miss to see him on the TV screen TT__TT

  9. ank2810

    Thanks for the recap.. I am watching at KBS world but couldn’t resist following the recaps at dramabeans hahaha..

    Poor Jaeshin! Baby you can come to me anytime!

  10. 10 estel

    This drama give Sun-joon and Yoon-hee some of the best relationship moments I’ve seen in a long time. I adored the scene where Sun-joon declared his love for her through the notes — not only was it cute, but it fit right in with his character, too, and I appreciate it when the writer’s don’t shoehorn in awkward fan-service-y bits, but instead make them part of the natural flow of the story. Plus, Sun-joon’s struggle with his attraction to Yoon-hee and her obliviousness is just too delicious. *giggle*

    • 10.1 estel

      Oops. I meant “writers”.

  11. 11 kilmenyanne

    Oh, ain’t it nice to wield executive power blog-wise, girlfriday? That said, I miss you! What are you recapping next?

    That last picture combo? Is so going on my desktop. And I think I’m going to manufacture a situation in which this applies:

    “Goddamn wide-brimmed hats of non-kissery!”

    Just to see how it turns out XD

  12. 12 whatis

    Oh man, I’m not in total support of the sunjoon-yoonhee camp, but how cute was this episode???

    Their love note scene, soooo cute!!!

    I absolutely love it when yoonhee makes sunjoon all flustered. hahahaha! She has the power!

    At the end of the day though, I’d still support Goroh! <3!

  13. 13 Ladymoonstone143

    Thank you so much girlfriday for another awesome recap on an awesome episode.

    My heart is broken for Jae Shin here…because he knows and we all know that his chance of getting Yonhee is getting nowhere. When he was drinking and perch on that tree while Sunjoon and Yonhee were having all that cutesy moments in the room…I had to pause my screen on that moment…and told Jae Shin…am here…will accompany you while you finish that drink…lol

    That was so hilarious about the bracelet. How clever Yongha was? I was anticipating how they can get out of that and I know Yongha always watches Jae Shin’s back…that is why I so love Yongha too…next to Jae Shin of course.

    What more I can say? Am all for Jae Shin and I know I have to prepare a bucket and lots of tissues for the remaining 3 episodes for more angst ion his behalf….*sob*

    • 13.1 bananaGIRL;))

      did you notice there is a chinese character on the bead of Jae-shin original one. and Yong-ha managed to get it back from In-soo with his style….hahaha…..bc he knew it’s very dear to jae-shin…..he is the *GU YONG-HA* the only one 😀 😀 😀

      • 13.1.1 Kaitlyn

        yeah the chinese character is 信. it means belief or to believe. it is the third character that he and his brother’s name share Shin.

        not sure what jae translates to in chinese.

        • Kaitlyn

          i like this kind of little details 🙂 so sweet. i wonder who gave the bracelet to his brother. probably parents. and parents who name their kids with the same last character.

          it is common to name children in the same family with the same second character.

  14. 14 asianromance

    Yay recap!!! Thank you!! I loved this episode for the mystery/political aspect! And for the part where Yong Ha and Jae Shin pwned In Soo with the duplicate bracelet! The moment I saw that, I gasped and went back to see it again to make sure my eyes were not fooling me. Then I couldn’t stop swearing. It was so good! I was so worried about the lost bracelet from episode 16 and was even mad at Jae Shin for wearing it when he was going off as the Red Messenger persona. I was waiting for Jae Shin to be hauled off to a dungeon. But the resolution was so brilliant!

    And i love the graphics for the chinese words!

    as for yong-ha, I thought he got chewed out for not marrying some Minister’s daughter instead of pretending to be a yangban. I got the feeling that his father wanted his family to move up closer to the world of yangbans.

    I have not watched ep 18-20, so I really hope that some miracle happens so that it turns out that Sun-joon’s dad didn’t kill Yoon-hee’s dad. I don’t know how you can get over something like that and have a normal relationship!

    • 14.1 anais

      You got it right. His father wanted to marry off Yongha to a yangban daughter (presumably a poor yangban who would really use the money). Hence, his challenge to Yongha as to whether the latter also intends for his children also to be half-yangbans, implying Yongha is not legit in some way.

      When this episode aired (meaning before I’d seen the later episodes), I tossed around a couple possibilities:

      • Yongha’s father is yangban, though as landlord not of farms but of the market grounds & Yongha is illegitimate (perhaps the son of a gisaeng, hence his affinity for gisaengs?)

      • Yongha’s father is also not yangban. At least not on both sides. Maybe the father is of merchant class and Yongha’s mother was yangban (hence, precedent for Yongha’s own proposed betrothal).

      Anyhow, this gets resolved.

      • 14.1.1 asianromance

        thank you for the response without spoilers! That was really considerate of you! =D

        • anais

          You’re welcome. It’s a pet peeve of mine for folks to reveal spoilers. I realize that sometimes people who’ve been watching ahead do get confused as to what happened in which episode. I’m sure I’ve done so inadvertently, but I agree that it’s just good manners to try not to spoil things for others and rob them of all the happy happies that I experienced.

  15. 15 Married2ahero

    did people in the joseon era have rings….?

    • 15.1 MSA

      Now that’s what I was wondering XD I know wives used two rings, but they didn’t look like the one Sun Joon gave Yoon Hee.

      And I agree with the previous poster, I got the feeling Yong Ha’s dad got mad because he didn’t want to marry that girl. The old man is not a very nice guy, IMO.

      • 15.1.1 anais

        They did have rings, but I don’t think necessarily as betrothal rings. I dunno – maybe someone has better grasp of Joseon material history.

        I am inclined to believe the rings are a modern throw-in.

  16. 16 koreandramalover

    Wow, fantastic!! Girlfriday recapping!!! Rejoice!!! As much as I would if Javabeans were to do it…Hmmm…Could Javabeans make my wish come true? Both Girlfriday and Javabeans recapping the final episode would be HEAVENLY…


  17. 17 Amg1

    Like I said in my last comment concerning the “Historical Context” of this drama;
    “The Geum-deung-jisa” is an “Aplogy” written King Yeongjo who was the father of Crown Prince Sado, in the alleged treatise the King somehow tries to switch the blame from his involvement in the “Murder Of Prince Sado” (his own son), the only problem that I have is that there is more evidence against Prince Sado In the historical records, like the “Memoirs” written by Prince Sado’s wife, in which she in no uncertain terms corroborates the charges against him that paints him like the “Jeffrey Dahmer/Hannibal Lecter” of his day, a “sexual deprave man easily given to murder”, there is not enough evidence as of right now to exonerate Prince Sado of his charges, not that this justified being murder by his own Father with the help of the Noron Party, having said that; If Prince Sado is guilty as charge than Yoon-hee’s Fathers death and Jae-shin Brother death and the agenda that King Jeong-jo was pursuing in clearing Prince Sado’s name was all in vain!!!!!!

    I have never read the original story of “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” but seems to me that the writer indeed took a lot of “Historical Liberty’s” while writing this book, I guess as a Romance Novel is fine, but as a story rooted in actual “History” it leaves a lot to frown upon IMHO!!!!!!!!!

    • 17.1 Amg1

      Sorry GF, I forgot to thank you for your hard work!!!!!!!

    • 17.2 anais

      I think you’re forgetting that you have the benefit of historical hindsight. First, Jeongjo wouldn’t necessarily have known about his father’s culpability. It was all hush, hush, as intended by King Yeongjo. That was the whole point of condemning Crown Prince Sado to a “natural death” in the rice chest.

      Secondly, Jeongjo and his mother Lady Hyegyong had been forcibly separated (not just physically but patrilineally) while Jeongjo was very young. Yi San falsely gives the impression that he and his mother were tight and corresponded, even interacted in person, regularly. That wasn’t the case as Lady Hyegyong mentions in her Memoirs. In 1764, Yeongjo made Jeongjo the adopted son of the deceased Prince Hyojang, rendering his mother no longer his legal parents. Yeongjo may have done this to spare Jeongjo of any potential challenges to his legitimacy as Sado’s son, when there continued to remain debates as to Sado’s criminality.

      Anyhow, the memoir in which Lady Hyegyong finally reveals all that really had happened with Sado is her last memoir: Memoir of 1805. The prior memoirs all had different agendas:
      • 1795, written not to Jeongjo but to the heir of her natal family, dealt with her own experience of coming to the court and becoming a woman of the court
      • 1801, the first of the three written AFTER Jeongjo’s death and thus to her grandson, was her attempt to air her grievances regarding what she perceived as social disorder within court politics
      • 1802, again written to her grandson, tried to pass onto the grandson his father’s wishes as they pertain to her own natal family
      • 1805, THE BIGGIE MEMOIR, is the one in which she narrates blow by blow Sado’s madness, murder sprees, and demise.

      So, though we are privy to this historical confession, we can’t know for sure that Jeongjo was. In fact, it seems very likely that he may well have been kept in the dark intentionally. Hence, all his earnest attempts to clear his father’s name is grounded in historical truth. Between 1762 and the publication of the 1805 Memoir, no one dared utter truth for it meant taking sides as to Sado’s criminality and thereby risking being accused of treason. In fact, many members of Lady Hyegyong’s family died and her clan in need of restoration by both Jeongjo and Sunjo as a result.

      Long story short – the history being dramatized in SKKS does not go against the historical truth. It is very much within the historical confines.

      • 17.2.1 anais

        Oh, just to clarify –

        Up above, I wrote

        Yeongjo may have done this to spare Jeongjo of any potential challenges to his legitimacy as Sado’s son, when there continued to remain debates as to Sado’s criminality.

        I should have been more careful with my wording since there weren’t open, public debates. No one dared, as I mention in the second to the last paragraph. It’s more apropo to say Yeongjo couldn’t purge the last hint of doubt or challenge regarding Sado by choosing the rather glaringly inhumane, red flag of a punishment of death by confinement in rice chest! Way to set off a smoking gun, Yeongjo.

        • Kaitlyn

          thank you! very interesting read as i don’t know much about the history 🙂

        • samgetang

          thanks for shedding some light as to the historical context of this drama, anais. it would seem that all the lead characters, including the king, were involved in some way or another with issues about their own fathers. whether it be KYHee with the father she lost while she was still young and whom she thought did not think much about her because sh’s a girl, or LSJoon with the integrity of his father in question, or MJShin with his father whom he thought had not cared about the death of his brother, or GYHa with his own father who wanted him to marry into full nobility. this is all very interesting and so makes this kdrama more dynamic! 🙂

          • anais

            Regarding the father-child relationships, absolutely agree. I’ve seen others at other SKKS related sites pick up on this theme as well, and I’m in agreement that the producers have managed to treat this theme with nuance and richness. So fitting given that this is a drama series about scholars of Confucianism, which places so much emphasis on not just filial piety but in fact frames the entire social order in terms of father-child relationship (which BTW, by providing a preexisting cultural grounding, allowed for Christianity with its father-child paradigm to flourish in South Korea).

          • anais

            Actually, now that I think about it a bit further, a drama about Confucian scholars that revolves around a girl parading as a boy can’t but thematize father-child relationships, given that the whole frigging Confucian world order was based on patrilineality. Duh. Can’t believe it took me this long to realize that!

          • samgetang

            Wow! Thanks, anais, for that interesting add’l info on the pre-existing cultural order based on father-child relationship that prepared the way for the christian thought and practice to flourish in South Korea. Ive been to SK 7 years ago and based on observation I would like to think that it is this strong Christian paradigm which impacted work ethics that has eventually catapulted this country into world fame in the sense that it rose dramatically from the ashes of the 40 yr japanese occupation. No wonder we are all enamored by anything Korean nowadays even if we can’t barely understand a dozen korean words at best.
            Thanks again…love all yr posts here in dramabeans esp on SKKS! Btw, are you Korean, if I may ask?

      • 17.2.2 Amg1

        I want to thank you firstly for such beautiful written response, and I do not mean it as a sarcastic remark!!!!!

        I have come to the same conclusion about king Jeongjo, the only way that he will go out of his way to clear his fathers name was if he truly believe that he was “INNOCENT”, and the fact that the “Murder” of Prince Sado was kept under uttermost secrecy also gives rise to the speculations concerning his innocence.

        In those days it was expected for the “family’ of the condemn to also suffer in much the same way (to also die as punishment), but Lady Hyegyong choose not to commit “suicide” since this act will likely meant that she was somehow a partaker of Prince Sado’s criminal acts, and also it will make any of her children ineligible to ascend the throne, that is the main reason why King Yeongjo transfer the “Paternity Rights” by the way of the “adoption’ of King Jeong-jo to his deceased son Prince Hyojang.

        *Final Thought*
        The murder of Prince Sado was such a heinous act in itself, and it was kept under such secrecy that somewhere in a corner of my brain I will like to believe that “he is innocent”, the historical records tell of the great “dislike, hatred” between father ans son, some historians said the King
        Yeongjo really hated his own son Prince Sado to the point of prefabricating all the charges against him along with the Noron Party, just to destroy one more undesirable, and some how a lot of the historical anecdotes surely point that way!!!!
        But as you mention before what seals Prince Sado’s guilty charges are Lady Hyegyong’s final accounts and since she was a “First Witness” account it is very almost and I am using the word almost Impossible to clear Prince Sado’s name.

        • anais

          Lady Hyegyong’s accounts of the relationship between Yeongjo and Sado are utterly heartbreaking. I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to say Yeongjo fabricated charges against Sado, but it’s true that Yeongjo could have been a much, much better father. It’s really tragic to realize that generations of political, social, and cultural turmoil was begotten from the ill-fated relationship between a cold, exacting father who was much too cruel toward his son and a very sensitive son who was so desperate for his father’s approval. Obviously Korean history would have been altogether different had that relationship been a warm, supportive, and productive one. While it’s not possible to speculate how differently things would have turned out, I can’t help but indulge in what-ifs: whether Korea might have been stronger had Sado live. Presuming Jeongjo would have turned out as awesome as he had, I can’t help but wonder – had Sado been loved, not turned homicidal, but become a good king himself – whether Jeongjo’s reign would have been more secure, whether there wouldn’t have been the ultimately destructive rule by the in-laws, whether…

          Sigh. Too sad to think of the what-ifs.

          OK – bummer session over.

      • 17.2.3 mOOnlight

        thank you^.^;; for sharing your history knowledge, which I’m quite interested in since I’ve been watched Yi San and Eight Day is going to be my next. As I know there is a bit difference story about Yi San’s mother.It will be interesting.

        • anais

          You’re welcome.

          I still have to watch the final episode of Yi San, but that drama will foreground the role of women in court much more strongly. You’ll get to see the tremendous influence channeled through the queens and the king’s various consorts by the relatives associated with the women. Interesting it definitely will be!

          I don’t know Eight Days. You just may have given me my next drama!! Ah, drats! Dramafever doesn’t have it yet!!!!

          • mOOnlight

            You can watch it from; …. do enjoy !!!!


            ps; We can’t watch any things from Dramafever in UK. it’s only for USA and Canada…….

  18. 18 Grecia

    This episode was so sweet!
    I think i´m in love with SJ >///<

  19. 19 Crazymoonyfan

    Thanks girlfriday for the wonderful recap…..i enjoy it so much! I used to be very anxious when I waited for SKK recaps, but now the show is over….I kinda glad we still have 3 recaps to come…..I hope that’s enough to treat my SKK addiction.

    MJS broke my heart….over and over and over again….seriously, I’ll soon be dead because of him….hmmm…..

  20. 20 miss_procrastination

    This drama is revolutionary. It literally slays me. Girlfriday, I always love your analysis of drama crack, so thanks! This particular episode had me reeling. I wanted to hug Jae Shin! I absolutely adore the relationships in this drama. They are the best kind of bffles.


  21. 21 Irifs

    even though i’ve already watched this episode I still luv reading your recaps!

  22. 22 Crazymoonyfan

    girlfriday, i have to blame you….since i read your last SKK recap, i have been waiting for one hot kiss between YS & JS. Seriously, where the KISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Well, you’re still the best tho.

  23. 23 lizzz

    Thanks so much for the recap!
    The love scenes are adorble! The OTP is so sweet ^^

  24. 24 hester

    LOVE <3

    I'm totally with you on the undressingness of that elevator scene… I thought the same thing when I was watching it. Mild kissing scene by American standards, but downright sexy all the same! I totally got butterflies. 🙂

    I also agree that I like how they're playing out the political side of this story… it's usually my least favorite part of dramas where they're dragging out the scenes about this and that takeover or whatever, but they really manage to keep this interesting. SKK for the win!

  25. 25 koreandramalover

    “Omo! Why do I feel like he’s undressing her?”

    MY thoughts exactly, Girlfriday!! Thanks so much for saying it out loud…

    In fact I felt my insides curling up in knots watching EVERY. SINGLE. EXCRUCIATINGLY. SLOW. STEP. of him removing both of their hats…

    UNDRESSING her?! As close to it…just saying…



    • 25.1 anais

      I blame it on the thin single-bow being pulled out the way the bow on a jeogori would be. I was absolutely scandalized – in a good way.

      That probably was one of the best kissing scenes I’ve seen on k-drama. Hottest, yet the purest at the same time. And for that reason, one of the best.

      Dang it, this is why I love this show. It does everything in its own way!!!! Serves it all up fresh! Not rehashed!

      • 25.1.1 koreandramalover

        Wow! Thank you ever so much anais!!! Your comments are truly spot on!!

        – about being scandalised in a good way by the SEXIEST untying of a hat EVER

        – the KISS being something of an anomaly – HOTTEST and PUREST at the same time!

        – and your comment about SKKS “doing everything in its own way and serves it all up fresh!!”

        Wow!!! SO SPOT ON…Well done!!! 🙂

        • samgetang

          just my exact thoughts, koreandramalover…anais could not have said it any better! 🙂 that’s what i love abt SKKS as well: the lovely paradox…thanks for articulating it out for us.

          • koreandramalover

            Yes!!! Thanks samgetang for appreciating anais’s comments because they reflect our thoughts so well…

      • 25.1.2 jubilantia

        You said it! So many times the kisses are wooden and unfeeling- for no reason at all, and in complete disconnect with whatever chemistry the actors have in other scenes with each other. With this one, I got the distinct impression that they were tenderly tasting each other- this is the first time that he’s actually (successfully) initiated a kiss, and it was like they just savored each other. It jives perfectly with their other quiet scenes.


        • anais

          hahahhaha!!! savoring…

          I think it’s such a good thing that I’m not younger. At my age, which is not much older but definitely older enough than the actors, I find it hard to swoon over the actors the way I might have were I closer to their age. I’m just so proud of them!!!! And so thankful.

          The young thangs here are so lucky to be able to indulge in wild fantasies about Guhro (I presume he’s the leading candidate), Sunjoon, Yongha, Insoo, and the handsome Insoo follower who didn’t get developed nearly enough!! And I suppose I shouldn’t leave out Yoonhee or Chosun either for that matter. Enjoy, you young thangs!

    • 25.2 ellie

      wow! same here, it really made me feel peeping into their secret rendezvous.
      I think it was one of the best kissing scenes i have ever seen.
      well done to both of them, I’m sure they did felt a connection even all hell they will deny for sure.
      who knows…

  26. 26 mellowyel

    “Genius, Gu Yong-ha. Only you would clear your best friend’s name through the use of accessories.”

    Loooolz so true. Thanks Girlfriday – your recaps interspersed among Cassie’s and Red Pill’s take the DB coverage of this drama to an extra level of awesomeness.

    This episode had me dying of the cute. Every time Sunjoon did something romantic (or smiled that cute smile of his) I squealed and fapped like nobody’s business. Thank goodness I was alone at home at the time… I also felt like SJ was undressing YH for that kiss – I wonder if it’s the editing, or if it’s a testament to the actors for creating that level of intimacy for that scene. SJ’s such a cute nerd though – his earnest attempts for some skinship and coupley moments had me awwing all the way. I don’t know about chemistry, but these two are adorable together. It think this episode was particularly well done for balancing the budding romance with the political intrigue.

    Question though: why is Yoonhee so cute around Jaeshin? She doesn’t know he knows, right? That screencap makes it seem like she’s doing the O-P-W, lol

    • 26.1 jubilantia

      Agreed on the balancing of subject matter- everyone’s doing a great job.

      About Yoonhee and Jaeshin- my impression is that she views him as a brother- oppa, but not that way. So it’s not that out of the question that she would act all cutesy. Although my heart aches for sexy, angsty, sexy Guh-ro.

  27. 27 red

    “vomited all over his broken heart” …i laughed at that

    usually jaeshin makes me swoon, but lee sun joon in this episode was just adorable

    i hope jaeshin gets a chance to confess to yoon hee, and she sees how much he loved her

  28. 28 diadda

    Here is the episode 17 “All I want is you” vid.

    Personally I love the supporting confession of Sun-joon. How he will always be there for her by her side. I thought that solidified that relationship for me nicely. Even if all heck is going to break loose that scene had me liking this couple. Then then just kept making me smile and extremely happy throughout the rest of the episode.


  29. 29 olivia

    aah GF!!!! i’ve missed your recaps…looking forward to the next one….try not to let us start going through withdrawals before we get it 😉

  30. 30 peanut butter

    ahh! i love the jaeshin/yongha duo!! so cute!! i’m all smiles when theyre together!

  31. 31 orenji13

    I love how the PD makes all the romantic scenes natural.
    You except it with open heart because none of it was forced and the tension built are due to natural cause: book owner and hat (who would thought that hat will be the ultimate barrier on Jeoson era??).

    I love Sun Joon smug smile when Yoon Hee found his note, I also love his nervous smile when the soron sahyung are about to find his love note..

    In the end, I just love Sun Joon being more open because he is fall in love… ^^

    I just love to see the great Lee Sun Joon are helpless in front of love.

  32. 32 greyfl

    Omo. Why do I feel like he’s undressing her?

    LOL…That’s exactly what I felt like.

    In this episode, Yoo-Hee and Sun-Joon got couple rings. Jae-Shin and Yu-Hua got couple bracelets. Haha….

    • 32.1 indigowine

      wow, it didn’t cross my mind!! hahahahahaha, so damn true, hope Yong-Ha keep wearing his bracelet =D

    • 32.2 anais

      Mwayayayahahahah! Couple bracelets! AWesome!!!

    • 32.3 jadetaia

      Brilliant! I wish I’d picked up on that. That’s too cute, now that I think about it 🙂

  33. 33 myweithisway

    I’m no longer watching for the main couple, it’s all about JaeShin and YongHa for me!

    They rock this show!!!

  34. 34 jandoe

    girlfriday can i just say i heart you and i especially heart your recaps when you do SS? :D:D:D

    i thought certain things were brought in a little late in the series (only in episode 17 of 20, really?) but i still liked the scenes. and the parallelism in JS and YH, i noticed this too! they showed it nicely, i think.

    still waiting for subs for the last 2 episodes, i hope they’ll be good 🙂

  35. 35 munchkim

    Finally! Episode 17. I thought I would have to wait longer again.

    Anyway, The Kiss is the Best it in this episode! I also had the feeling like Sunjoon was undressing Yoonhee. LOL!

  36. 36 Beng

    i enjoyed reading your recap. thanks so much =)

  37. 37 MSA

    I may be alone here (okay, no, I *know* I’m alone here) but I don’t feel anything for Jae Shin. I just wish he can get over her as soon as possible and [s]get together with Yong Ha[/s] find true happiness.

    • 37.1 lilly

      I guess you are alone in this case.
      And I guess people did not like YC’s acting when he discovered YS was a girl. Sorry but maybe he was too tired (one expression might be tiring for your facial muscles.)

  38. 38 Eleven11

    Man, I just squeed all over this recap, I hope no-one heard me.

    I’ve already watched the episode too, I really have no excuse for this. It’s definitely at You’re Beautiful Squee Danger Levels. =/

    I like that you describe SunJoon as ‘awkwarding’ his way to bringing up the kiss, GF, coz that’s totally how he does things. He’s master of the awkward turtle.

  39. 39 dramafan88

    “Goddamn wide-brimmed hats of non-kissery!”

    HAHHAHA. I ROFL-ed when I read that. You go girlfriday!

  40. 40 Francesca

    Thanks GF. I’ve watched ep. 20 but still love the recap. I’m missing them already

    SKKS after party: (2010.11.03)

    • 40.1 samgetang

      thanks, francesca, for the link…any idea what are they talking about in the vid? there’s no eng sub hehe

      • 40.1.1 anais

        Song Joong ki arrives first. When asked how he feels about the drama having wrapped, he says 많이 아쉽죠, which doesn’t have an exact fit in English but is like “misses/longs a lot for” something that’s not there (the show in this instance).

        Next to arrive is Yoo Ah In who says to the same question 섭섭해요 (sorry, sad, heartbreaking, misses something).

        (Dang, do I love how these two boys look – great jackets. I want to raid their closets!)

        When Yoo Ah In and Park Min Young are on stage together, Yoo Ah In thanks the Staff as being the ones most deserving of thanks and applause. Only to be followed by Song Joong Ki who then makes fun of him for being too serious/sober and just very firmly but concisely exclaims, “Thank You!” to applause and laughter.

        They are all there watching the broadcast of the last episode. Park Min Young says that up until just 30 minutes before she was still shooting the last episode and had come straight from the set. When she heard “cut,” she felt both refreshed and relieved.

        Song Joong Ki says that for some reason it feels as if they’ll tell him to come to the set again tomorrow morning at 5am (implication being they’ll still need to finish some shots).

        That’s it. That’s up til 1:45. I don’t know how you recappers recap/sub an hour plus. I’m not patient enough.

        • sam

          thanks for the translation, just wonder why we did not see Micky in the video.

          • pohonphee

            I think he’s busy with JYJ promoting tour. Ayyy boy, I’m gonna miss you on screen.

            @anais: thanks for translation….

        • samgetang

          thanks again, anais! how do you know korean? are you one? living in korea or not…? and by the way, i love their hair as well 🙂 park min young is just lovely beyond words…she really fits the KYHee character so well with her innocent and yet impish eyes…she seems like a fun girl! i agree with Yoo Ah In, the staff n crew, the ppl behind the camera did a fine and marvelous job with this drama. they had a fine material to start with…

          • anais

            I’m Korean-American. Lived in Korea til nearly 10, forgot all Korean as a result of living with only white folks, began relearning Korean and hanmun in college and through what else but k-drama!!! TEE HEE!!!!

            Not in Korea though. In the US.

            PMY is ridiculously pretty (albeit with much thanks to advances in modern medicine, cough cough) in real life. I saw the pictures of the actress they’d originally cast, and she’s super cute as well, but PMY did a really solid job as KYH.

          • samgetang

            oppps…didn’t know u answered me already here abt yr lineage (or should i say ancestry?)…that’s cool! thanks, anais….

            i should learn from you and study korean language, too…

            really? PMY also had help from her doctors? why is it a lot of their actresses (and actors, too?) had to undergo the knife? if find them lovely as they are…but i guess its all for the sake of their profession. ugh. but on second thought, i just might do the same if i were in their shoes and being beautiful is vital to my job and i had loads of money to make it happen, haha!

          • anais

            I just googled for fun and OMG


            Park Min Young before & after


            Crooked nose, my arse. Wow. I thought Seo Woo’s plastic surgery was utterly shocking, but Park Min Young’s? She really needs to thank her surgeons.

  41. 41 notoriousnoona

    Nothing like a Girlfriday recap… Suspicious to be sure but all the more lovely. Thank you.

    This show was good till the last drop! I really wasn’t disappointed with a thing.

    And um…Moon Jaeshin…will you marry me? We can hide our nerdy intelligence together and even scale rooftops on the weekends. You won’t brush your hair, I won’t shave my legs. I don’t mind that you never look me straight in my eyes or smile once a week or that you have daddy issues. I’ll even let you drink and brood 4 nights a week with Yongha knowing he loves you more than I do. All I’m trying to say is…I just think we could live happily ever after if really really want to 🙂

    • 41.1 mOOnlight

      Woooooop!!!!!! I love your imagination of declaration love for Jaeshin, this is going to make my day………hahaha………..
      so just visit this blog maybe can soothe your temptation


    • 41.2 SKKSfan

      funny thing is Jaeshin will still look handsome even if he does not comb his hair. how about your unshaved legs? haha

    • 41.3 Kyuri

      this post is freakin hilarious and echoes what myself, my sister, and every single one of my Korean female coworkers have been thinkin these past few weeks. although the ratings have been modest, I feel like every woman I know in Korea (under the age of 45) is in LOVE with Guloh.

      Girlfriday, your posts are the whipped cream on top of the epidodes’ already delicious ice cream sundae. Great recap & hope to be reading at least one more of yours as the series ends.

      which brings me to comment on my Korean friends’ absolute heartbreak that the series ended this week. they were kind enough not to spill the “beans” on the ending, though! love this site, thanks for all you & Javabeans do.

      -kyuri, from NY

  42. 42 mattever

    love you girlfriend!!!

    thanks for the recap.

  43. 43 Gladys


    I couldn’t help giggling over your comment about SJ and YS having couple rings and YH and JS having couple bracelets!
    Thanks GF for the recap even though I’ve finished watching ep 20. For me ep 17 is my favourite!

  44. 44 conan

    This whole episode made me coo and giggle all the way home. I know they should have done something with Sunjoon-Yoonhee but nevertheless their romance is sweet. I see Jaeshin being a total jealous wart right there! So adorable. And may I say that Yongha is happy Jaeshin wasn’t taken away by love? On the bright side, I love how Sunjoon smiles a lot more in this episode. We need more of your smiles, Mr. Rightful.

    But, here comes tension! I really love the fast pace of this drama, very very much. The whole student detective things is so amusing, I’m so enjoying myself. I can’t wait until the finale. I think I need to grab some Kleenex because the show is coming to an end. Sungkyunkwan Scandal will forever live on!

  45. 45 Robyn

    I love the different kinds of hilarity you, cassie.opia and red_pill bring to these re-caps. 😀
    Thanks you guys!

    I can’t wait to the next re-cap. Fairly sure it had a moment that made me cry… Just a little. Like one tear. Srsly. *shifty eyes*

    I’m so sad that there’ll be no more bromance. Please tell me someone is doing a fanfiction. Yes. I am actually that desperate for more. T.T

  46. 46 Anonymous

    i LOVE this episode because YongHa shows all of his amazing capabilities
    i HATE this episode because JaeShin’s heart is being trampled on

  47. 47 csreverie

    “Omo. Why do I feel like he’s undressing her?”

    I thought the exact same thing! Did anyone else catch that slightly panicked expression on her face while he was “undressing” her?

    • 47.1 koreandramalover

      Yes!!! I DID!!! Wonderful acting, no? 🙂

    • 47.2 nijika

      that’s how a felt when I saw this episode…. 🙂 made me watching it over and over again….. 😉

  48. 48 Ace

    Thanks Girlfriday! Hope you can continue the recaps ’til the end…;)

  49. 49 acuvue09

    I know! The hat-taking off was one of the sexiest thing I’ve seen in a drama lol. I think I even held my breath for a minute before I realized they had only taken off hats. Hot.

    • 49.1 koreandramalover

      Hehe…I echo the holding your breath part…hehe

      In fact I felt a curious sensation watching that scene
      – ‘a heart-stopping and yet heart-shaking moment’ is the best way I could put it.

      Kudos to the acting and to all those behind the scenes (namely the writers, producer/directors) for making it so believable…

  50. 50 MiniGrace

    GF- Great recap as always.

    Just a thought: Do you think those wide brim hats were designed to thwart off hot blooded males from locking lips during the Joseon era? (hi hi)

    • 50.1 Purpleclouds

      My guess about those hats is…isn’t it like our car sun-shades with flexible wires that you can bend/flip?? Our historical lover birds can just bend/flip it back to convenient their bobos….

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