Drama Recaps
Tree With Deep Roots: Episode 2
by | October 20, 2011 | 55 Comments

What an intense follow up to an already intense first episode. We’re still so early in the series for performances to already take my breath away, but that only gives the show extra brownie points. There’s a great blend of style and substance going on here as we get to delve deeper into what it’s like to be a young king and what it’s like to be a young slave without a master. We’re seeing the first stages of a good mystery unfold right before our eyes, and the directing and pacing (so far) seem steady and assured. And the colors! The cinematography! Living in Joseon never looked so good.


Suk-sam has passed on while in prison, and when a guard comes in to clear the dead body the rest of the riled slaves make a prison break. Everyone is trying to get out while the royal family wants to get in, with Queen Soheon wishing to go see her mother and Lee Do still in shock that he can do nothing as King.

Queen Soheon arrives at the prison gates in time to see the chaos of the escaped prisoners attempting to fight off the guards. It’s a harrowing sight, with most of the prisoners getting viciously beaten and killed right before her eyes.

Dam’s father, Gul-sang, manages to get Ddol-bok to escape with him and his daughter, but not before she grabs Suk-sam’s written will and puts it into the bag she previously gifted to Ddol-bok.

The trio make it through the fray and to the wall, where Gul-sang helps Ddol-bok over and then his daughter. He’s stabbed in the back by a guard before he can make the same climb. As soon as a guard threatens Dam, Ddol-bok launches into the fight to save her and sends her off without him. She escapes it to the other side while he goes to her dying father, who can only gurgle out his last wish: for Ddol-bok to take care of Dam.

As she’s escaping, Dam runs straight into Queen Soheon. The Queen recognizes her (most likely from Dam being her father’s slave) and even calls her by name. When Soheon and entourage spot guards running their way, she makes a brave call and swoops Dam under her skirt to hide her. She has a short exchange with the guards (they’re forced to back down when she’s revealed as the Queen), and Dam ends up fainting in the middle of it – but at least she’s safe.

Lee Do has arrived in disguise at the prison just in time to see the prison break go to a whole new level, with more mass-scale carnage and killings. Mu-hyul urges him to leave now before he can be caught by his father, but he’s remembering again how his wife asked him to save her father, and he couldn’t. Faced once again with being able to do nothing, he sees a boy running toward him – it’s Ddol-bok – and he flashes back to a recollection of another boy on horseback, saying: “You cannot do anything.”

Ddol-bok pushes Lee Do out of the way in his quest to escape, and Lee Do is suddenly filled with the urge and conviction that he must save that child. Perhaps he’s finally become tired of being powerless and wants to latch on to this task – or perhaps it’s because Ddol-bok reminds him of the boy in the flashback.

Mu-hyul knocks Ddol-bok unconscious and they take him to a hut in the woods. Unfortunately they never heard Former King Taejong and his entire entourage (on horseback, even) arrive from behind, and Lee Do has now been officially caught unawares by daddy dearest. Taejong demands the death of Ddol-bok on the grounds that he’s the son of the slave who delivered a letter to a traitor, but this scene seems more about the power play between father and son than anything else.

Lee Do is trying his best, but still ends up too meek to face off against his intimidating father. Until…

We go from powerless Lee Do to a completely different, and completely awesome Lee Do. He musters up all his power to stand off against his father in an absolute showdown. He tells his father, flat-out, that being former King is not King, and that he is the King of Joseon. It’s the first time we’re seeing Lee Do come into his power, even as his father doesn’t even flinch as he mentions all of the uncles and family Taejong has had killed, namely one traitor, Jung Do-jun.

He calls his father out on killing Jung Do-jun (and many others) only for power, and Taejong defends himself by saying that because he did all the dirty work, this is HIS Joseon. He’s earned it. Lee Do replies, “My Joseon is different! It will be different!”

The only problem is, he doesn’t know exactly how it will be different. With Lee Do now on the ropes, Taejong orders his men to go kill Ddol-bok, and Lee Do literally throws down the gauntlet (his personal sword) between them. Taejong will have to kill him first if he wants to get to Ddol-bok now.

Lee Do: “If you want to kill that child… just like you killed my uncles, and my comrades, kill me right here.”

That privilege doesn’t come free – Taejong calls him on the bluff, and in the best moment of the night Lee Do calls to Mu-hyul, relying upon his oath to kill anyone who harms the King, even if that means his own father.

After a very charged moment, Lee Do wins this round. It’s only after his father is gone that he literally collapses from nerves. Whether Taejong is proud of his son or not remains to be seen, but there is a compliment he gives in that even Confucius couldn’t convince him – only power does. But then he swiftly orders all the royal army brought to him, so…

In the hut in the woods, Ddol-bok is crying to a royal guard he gave a concussion to about who is responsible for the death of his father. Lee Do overhears everything. Even when Ddol-bok says he must kill the King for giving the orders to kill his father, who was only a fool who had the bad luck of delivering the wrong letter at the wrong time, Lee Do takes it in stride.

It’s clear that it’s not Ddol-bok’s declaration to kill him that wounds Lee Do the most, but the whole story itself. Lee Do feels the weight of Ddol-bok’s words, and his resolve to save Ddol-bok only grows stronger. Unlike all the times where Lee Do felt powerless, he now declares Ddol-bok as the first subject that he’s saved with an adorable smile on his face. He was a King for a moment, and he is so proud – especially in the face of the recourse he knows is to come from his father.

Ddol-bok wakes up in an unfamiliar environment on high alert. He takes his pillow as a weapon when he goes outside and is met with a woman who attempts to ease his concerns. This is Ban Chon, she says – the village of the slaves that serve Sungkyunkwan University. She doesn’t know what brought him here, but no one cares – that’s one of the perks. Another perk is that the royal army can’t enter the village without the King’s command.

Former King Taejong has assembled the royal army, which Lee Do hears of with little surprise – he knows that this is the price for last night. He’s not unprepared either, as Taejong has the royal army but Lee Do has the royal stamp, commanding sword, and the various other brands of command. Still, Taejong seems to have something up his sleeve by having a lunchbox prepared for Lee Do… only without any lunch.

Lee Do’s following flashback is one we’ve seen before – a young boy riding away on a horse saying that Lee Do can’t do anything. The paper he’s reading is written by that same child, JUNG KI-JOON. To what purpose we have yet to see.

Husband and wife share a tender moment, as Queen Soheon has heard about the events second-hand. She’s come to get answers from the King, asking him if he had anything to do with the prison break, whether he saw his father the night before, and then asking if all that is why he brought the Royal Stamp, along with the various other necessary royal accoutrements.

He doesn’t lie, and answers yes to all her questions. She’s fearful for him, and he only says that he’s going to ‘stop’ because he doesn’t have an answer or a plan for his Joseon. He asks her if she’s afraid of losing her position as Queen as a light (yet darkly humored) joke, and they connect for the first time since her father’s execution.

They’re interrupted by an official carrying a wrapped gift from Former King Taejong himself. The air is tense as we flash back to another official, who has always been on Taejong’s side, protesting against sending an empty box to Lee Do. He even cautions the Former King with a story of an emperor who sent an empty lunchbox. The moral of the story: people died.

The shock registers on everyone’s faces in the sudoku room at the sight of the empty box and we find out why – it’s an order for suicide. Taken literally, it means “do not eat”. Former King Taejong has thrown down a gauntlet of his own, working around Lee Do’s earlier defense with Mu-hyul in directly ordering his son to commit suicide. Even Lee Do wonders if what he did the night before is truly worth something like this.

Back in Ban Chon, two unknown slaves meet with a scholar. He takes them inside the temple and reveals a previously-hidden package wrapped in purple – they are charged with delivering it to a blacksmith named Lee Yun-do. However, while attempting to escape the village at night they’re caught and delivered to the woman who earlier welcomed Ddol-bok into the village. A name for her isn’t specified (yet), so I’ll just call her the leader for now.

She recognizes the symbol on the journal and hides her reaction when Ddol-bok is brought into the middle of the circle with the two previously-captured slaves. He has to be gagged because he can’t stop screaming, and let me tell you, thank goodness for small favors.

First things first: the fate of the two slaves. She lectures them on how Ban Chon has survived the bloodshed of the years since Joseon was started (at this point the Joseon Dynasty was still relatively new). Ban Chon even survived the night Taejong killed Jung Do-jun by sacrificing the two slaves that had been involved – one who told Taejong where Jung Do Jun was, and one who reported to Jung Do-jun that Taejong had taken the army. We’ve heard Jung Do-jun mentioned earlier by Lee Do as a bone of contention he has with his father – and historically this is accurate, as Jung Do-jun was killed in a first-offensive coup by Taejong in 1398, before Taejong officially became the ruler we see now.

So, the first rule of Ban Chon is: you don’t meddle in the King’s affairs. The second rule of Ban Chon is: you don’t judge what’s right or wrong (the two men believe that Jung Do-jun was killed without cause). The leader demonstrates this by burning the journal of Jung Do-jun that was inside the package and ordering the two men to commit suicide. One does, and one tries not to – and gets killed anyway. Ddol-bok can only look on as the two bodies are hauled off and he’s the only one left in the circle.

Ddol-bok is young and fearless, and though the leader seems to be kinder as she deals with Ddol-bok and tells him not to be afraid (that’s going to be difficult, considering the murder-suicide that just happened), his flippant attitude and way of speaking to her is clearly disrespectful. He presses on, answering her question of who he is and what brought him here with his own question – namely, who did bring him here? She’s in a better position to know than he is, so I’m siding with Ddol-bok on this one.

His bad temper ends up getting a blade held to his throat – and even then, he doesn’t stop with his challenges. He even goes so far as to dare the man to kill him. We know that Ddol-bok has a terrible temper and that he’s been through a lot, but what really adds some nice texture to his fearless display is the fact that he loses control of his bladder – and everyone sees. Ddol-bok is probably aware, but he doesn’t let it show and doesn’t break his brave facade.

It seems as though Ddol-bok is about to be killed, but the leader puts a stop to it. We see in flash back who did bring Ddol-bok, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to us – it was none other than Mu-hyul, acting under Lee Do’s orders. He tells the leader that Ddol-bok has anger problems (after his last twenty-four hours, understandable) and that she can make him calm and as her servant. But, if she can’t control him, Mu-hyul tells her to just kill him without hesitation.

Ddol-bok definitely doesn’t seem any calmer, but she does hesitate. For what reasons we aren’t exactly sure – maybe it’s pity or instinct on her part – but she spares his life. Ddol-bok can only offer a smirk in return.

Lee Do is left to contemplate the empty lunch box while Taejong watches over an assembly for the army in full battle regalia. Mu-hyul goes into the sudoku room and kneels before Lee Do, pleading with him to ask his father for forgiveness. He says that he’s lived only by the sword and doesn’t understand politics, but:

Mu-hyul: “If this were a fight, I think this is the time you take a step backwards.”

This sparks something in Lee Do, who thinks about stepping back and waiting for the right time to strike – only he doesn’t have an answer. All he has are his useless games…

Ding! A realization comes to him as he looks over all his math games (note: the real term for his math game is the ‘Lo Shu Square’, but for ease of use we’ll call it sudoku), as he sees that the shape of the lunch box is exactly like sudoku. Mu-hyul isn’t following, but Lee Do is on a roll and brings all the court maids into the room. He’s figured out how to solve the puzzle using the pattern of the lunch box. Well, when life gives you lemons (or an order for suicide)…

He begins with the small 9×9 grid, using the diamond shape of the lunch box as a guide. I’m not a math person at all so I can’t quite tell you how it works, only that it does and it looks amazing. The very act of solving it is shot and edited so well we feel almost as accomplished as Lee Do by the end.

As opposed to his father ‘solving’ the game by removing all numbers but the number one, Lee Do has found his own way. Where his father said he should have all the power for himself, Lee Do has found the meaning of the lunch box and his own plan. Before going to see his father, he sends a slightly bewildered Mu-hyul to retrieve all the royal things (stamp, seal, and brand) that he’d taken earlier.

Lee Do enters the courtyard where his father and the royal army are assembled, practicing war formations and archery. They’ve just launched a volley of arrows at the targets situated right by the main door, and everyone halts as Lee Do enters. Only resolve paints Lee Do’s features before he begins a glorious walk forward, and the battle of wills between him and his father is back in full strength.

The archers refuse to fire when Taejong gives his first command, and so he takes it upon himself to take charge of the launching flag – and Lee Do never stops walking forward. Taejong waves the flag and gives the order to fire.


Wow, what a way to end an episode. Sometimes it’s silly to base a cliffhanger off something we know inherently can’t happen (we know Sejong is a main character in this story, thus he can’t die here), but this show weaves its tale in such a way that it seems like it still could happen. It’s beautiful visual imagery packed on top of beautiful visual imagery, but I don’t feel like we’re getting style-over-substance here. When you have a good director, a good script, and a good cinematographer – style and substance can come together to just enhance the experience, like they do in this drama. It’s wonderful.

This episode really belonged to Song Joong Ki, who just owned his scenes as a king who’s finally found his spine. The scene where he first stands up to his father literally had me rooting and cheering as he went from his meek, reverent voice to his Official King Voice. He’s proven himself an actor to me now, as that scene and all the scenes that followed in this episode took major acting chops – and he delivered again and again. I’m only sad because I know we’ll have to see him go, but at least he’s made an impact while he was here.

Following Ddol-bok’s story, in comparison, was just a little more tedious to me. A lot of intense things happened to Ddol-bok during the episode, and we know he’s survived this far by being a tough kid, but I’ve never been quite so tired of seeing the whites of an actor’s eyes before. He’s constantly angry and constantly on guard (save one interlude where he marvels at the slave village), thus his eyes are always wide-open. I don’t know if this is an attempt to mimic Jang Hyuk’s intensity, but the kid had some heavy scenes to play and he still did them well, so this is really a minor point.

I haven’t been worrying at all about what this drama does or does not directly take from history since it’s based off a fictional novel (which to me makes for more fun), but it is fun to see some true historical facts taken into the narrative, like Jung Do-jun’s death by Taejong. I’m guessing that all these players are being set up now for our future political conspiracies, and at this rate, I can only be excited for what’s in store. And I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but: can we have more math, please? It’s just so darn pretty.


55 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. xlyngx

    wow you are v fast!! thank you!!!! *runs off to read*

  2. MissB

    Wow, another recap πŸ™‚ ! Thanks, I’ll definitely watch this, it’s getting better and better! I wonder if in the end it will surpass The Princess Man in terms of quality.

    Hmm but living in Joseon never looked so good? Joseon X Files would not agree with you on this one πŸ˜€

    • 2.1 anon

      I think Trees with Deep roots has already firmly surpassed The Princess Man and JoseonX files in both style and substance. I was an avid fan of both dramas but Trees with deep roots is just a stunning piece of art. The colour palette, the cinematography, the set design, the editing and the music is just so lucious and ethereal. It’s like a nicely crafted film, I can’t find any flaws with it at all. There’s also something just completely engrossing and genuine about the characters that makes them so sympathetical. You have to watch it! It’s mindblowing stuff. πŸ˜€

      • 2.1.1 Kgrl

        I’m also very delighted with Tree so far. However, I’d rather not get my hopes up too soon. This writing team, albeit, has written unforgettable characters (especially it’s female leads), yet has also had a history of meandering writing in it’s later eps (particularly Queen Seon Deok).

        So far, this production has the looks and feel of big-budget, which is great. I think the drama really is a feast for the eyes. Though how long can they keep the scenic details, character intricacies, and emotional flow in tact is still up in the air.

        On the one hand, I’m sad to see SJK go, but yet I’m happy, b/c his short stint made such an impact. It gives him more credibility that he could influence the drama so dramatically with such short screen time. Now they’ll have to give him a leading role. I’m waiting Korea.

        • kristi

          Queen Seon Deok was a 62-ep series, Tree With Deep Roots is ‘only’ 24 eps. I think they’ll have a better grip on their writing this time around. I’m actually a bit more concerned with the director/PD. He’s good with still scenes, scenes that require a mise en scene and then letting the actors do the work, but he’s not as skilled with action sequences and sometimes the episode feels loose when the editing should be tighter and faster. And I’m concerned that over time, with the grueling filming schedule for k-dramas, he’s going to run into more problems if the scripts continue to challenge him in his weaker areas. But I’ve seen all 6 episodes that have been broadcast, and despite some issues, I’m quite impressed with what they’ve already achieved and sincerely hope they can maintain this level for the remainder of the series.

      • 2.1.2 Razvan007

        Sorry for my poor english.
        I’ve already seen the first episodes and I’ll continue watching because it’s so good (for now,at least) ; just like Kgirl said, I’d rather watch the whole drama and not get my hopes up too soon,because you never know when they’ll switch back to the old video cameras (like they did with Princess Man around episode 14,I’m not really sure how many people noticed,thank God the script remained good and steady so the camera change didn’t really mattered), or you never know if the script will drag (like it did in Queen Seon Deok). But I agree that [b]SO FAR[/b],it’s more mature and it has more depth and substance than ‘The Princess Man’ :).

        But…better than J.X.Files? I don’t really think so. In my opinion no other tv series has ever surpassed Joseon X-Files in terms of cinematography,editing and colour pallette (“Spartacus:Blood And Sand” was ALMOST as professionally made but it never surpassed it).
        Deep Rooted Tree looks very good no doubts about it but it’s pretty conventional in terms of cinematic techniques.Joseon X Files on the other hand practically used them ALL (wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinematic_techniques) and it’s one of the most brilliant pieces of art that fans of stunning cinematography could ever witness.
        And the script…equally brilliant, I don’t even have the words to describe it. Only LOST script was so well-written and so thought-provoking. As you can see, I mentioned 2 american series when speaking about Joseon X files…That’s because,in my opinion, J.X.Files is at a whole new level compared with any other korean drama, and no other Kdrama could ever reach that high level,let alone actually surpassing it.
        But then again, that’s just my opinion hehe,each to his own I suppose :P.

      • 2.1.3 Shinubi Wang

        One thing that they need to fix are those K-drama jails with gaps large enough for the prisoners to crawl through and escape. Who build jails like that?!

  3. rainerust

    Wow it must be my lucky day – just finished commenting on your first recap and BOOM! Second one appears!

    I love SJK in this – okay who am I kidding? I love SJK period! Anyway I’m in complete agreement about his acting chops and I’m seriously devastated that he doesn’t get a chance to stay on for much longer. Still, he makes for a gorgeous young King Sejong.

    Bit meh on the young kid playing Dal-gok. He was a bit too angsty for me but I suppose we were all like that once upon a time. He’s got grit and guts though so I’m pretty impressed with that and am hopeful this will turn into something that is even more epic than it already is.

    Also, I have to say that the whole supporting cast for this drama has been astoundingly charming. All of them, no matter how minor their roles, are extremely effective in engaging the audience through their realistic portrayals of their characters. The ethos! The pathos! …okay sorry I need to keep the lit student in me zipped up.

    • 3.1 rainerust

      Ahh shucks his name is Ddol-bok. I was never good with names, much less names in Korean since I don’t speak the language.

  4. nauna

    Thanks for another excellent recap! LOL”I’ve never been quite so tired of seeing the whites of an actor’s eyes before.” I felt the same. Although, the bright side is, that if I wasn’t so tired of the young Ddol Bok’s yelling, eye-bulging ways I would be bemoaning the time jump and the loss of SJK’s Sejong even more!
    The last scene with all the arrows flying towards Sejong was awesomely amazing! After watching ep 3 and 4, my opinion of this drama stays the same. It has me intrigued intellectually, but not yet hooked emotionally. I’m hoping ep 5 & 6 will start to change that.

  5. Phoebe

    Thank you once again! I can’t bear to see Joong Ki go too. Wished they have him stick some mustache and beard instead of changing the actor. But his baby face….

  6. da hae

    Did I miss the recap for ep 1? I’m also looking for Waldo! Where’s Waldo?

    • 6.1 da hae

      Nevermind, I found it. I just have to look a little down. Thanks.

  7. kristi

    Never having finished The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (the epic Chinese saga), I’m only repeating what I read elsewhere (and what was hinted in the episode) but the empty lunchbox is in reference to Cao Cao sending the same gift to one of his most loyal men, who understood what it meant (‘starve yourself’ = ‘suicide’) and killed himself. But the significance’s a little different in this drama, because a) Sejong is the king, not a subordinate of Tejong, and b) Tejong himself is ambiguous about his intention. When Tejong right-hand man hears about the gift, he’s appalled and says that’s one thing Tejong can’t let it happen, but Tejong says ‘well, if he interprets it that way, then, so be it…’ and leaves it at that.

    The layered relationship between Sejong and his father is by far the best thing about episodes 1-4, well, after Song Joong-Ki’s career-changing performance as the king. He was excellent in Sungkyunkwan Scandal, no doubt about that, but the impact he’s had as Sejong is on a whole different level altogether.

  8. Kat

    What a quick recap! I loved his episode purely because of Song Joong Ki. I knew from watching his previous dramas and movies that he has the makings of a really excellent actor, and his performance as Lee Do shows that.

    I alsi live that

  9. Suzi Q

    Loved your comment about Tejong dearest. That is exactly how I felt bout those two relationships.

    The drama is so well scripted and visually beautiful. Song Joong Ki’s acting in this drama is getting raves and he deserves it.

    I hope Jang Hyuk can constrain himself. Sometimes he irritates me like his role in Midas. Did not like him at all.

    Thank you for the explanation regarding the lunch box. Did this really happen or is this fiction? What a horrible father!

    Looking forward to some more of your insightful recaps!

    • 9.1 kristi

      The empty lunchbox, the tense confrontations with his father (which continue into episodes 3-4)– they’re all fiction or at best supposition. The writers are assuming Sejong must have carried scars from the traumatic events he had to face as his father took power then when he inherited the throne. But on the surface, in historical records, he was a ‘good’, non-confrontational son and his father (and mother) cherished him, always worried he spent so much time buried in books. Taejong had a much more difficult relationship with his first-born, Sejong’s eldest brother who was the first Crown Prince.

      And while Taejong was ruthless to his core, he had a rationale and a ruling philosophy behind his ‘cruelty’ that set him aside from some other rulers and which I think need to be understood in the context of the period and not modern norms. This was in the 15th century. Not even 18th or 19th, let alone 20th. And if it hadn’t been for his father doing the dirty work before, King Sejong might not have been able to accomplish half as much as he did during his reign.

      • 9.1.1 bd

        Yeah, King Taejong was ruthless in acquiring and holding on to power but he wasn’t some mindless tyrant who didn’t care about the struggles of the common folk.

        One wonders if all the killing was necessary, but w/o it, it’s quite possible that a power struggle would have dominated the still youn Joseon Dynasty and that King Sejong wouldn’t have had the stability to do what he did during his reign.

  10. 10 KDrama Fan

    Thanks for the recap HeadsNo2.

    I enjoyed this episode’s recap more than the first probably as I’ve got a better idea of who is who and since I didn’t watch it was spared the blood and guts.

    Nice to see Lee Do complete his puzzle and get the confidence to go up against his father.

    Looking forward to the next episode.

  11. 11 dany

    thank you!

  12. 12 Bluefyre

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    Gah..the screenshots! Good job! I also love reading your recaps. Thanks so much!

    Oh Song Joong Ki, how can I tell you how amazing you are? πŸ˜€ Just LOVE him here! That smile he got in the sudoku room reminded me of him as Yeorim in SKKS πŸ™‚
    And YAY for SKKS to appear here too!

    SJK really needs to be a lead. SOON!

    • 12.1 Noonajumma

      Let’s hope SJK gets to do some leads in tv dramas before we completely lose him to film!

  13. 13 anais

    I was struck by how different the screen caps of Song Joong Ki are from almost all other screen caps I’ve seen in recaps. Most other screen caps fail to convey the intensity of emotions that was evident in motion. I oftentimes look and look again at the screen caps, puzzled at how I could have found the acting to be true when the faces in the screen caps seem so inadequate to the emotions demanded. I rationalize that actors’ faces must be more subtle, more nuanced to have been able to convince me when I watched the episodes themselves.

    Only, these screen caps of Song Joong Ki… They’re fierce. They startle me, making me feel as if I’ve stepped into the scene in the thick of unfolding. As if his face isn’t frozen in pixels but will continue to move, change, continue the full realization of whatever emotions that transpire… I’m having such a hard time finding the right way to say what I mean. To say he comes alive is not right, because that would mean he was frozen. All I know is that my heart registers shocks whenever I look at some of these screen caps, as if I’m watching him right there, present at the scene itself right next to him. Expecting to hear his voice thundering or beginning to race in epiphanic excitement.


  14. 14 houstontwin

    I think that the child actor did a good job with the material that was offered. I think that the writer and director should have offered a little more contour to the the content. Nonstop intensity looses its impact.

  15. 15 kate

    One question, is that queen the 2nd girl lead? and does king se jong later fall in love with sin sae kyung’s so yi character since he’s already married..

    • 15.1 kristi

      Sejong’s Queen Consort isn’t the 2nd female lead. And if they follow the book (and history), by the time Han Seok-Kyu’s in the role as Sejong (the book covers a period of 7 days or so before the publication of Hunmin Jeongeum, which formed the basis of hangul), the Queen will have died. Sejong’s relationship with Shin Sae-Kyung’s character is more complicated and ambiguous than a straightforward romance, and episode 6 (just broadcast today) will offer some ideas.

      Which reminds me– while the drama’s based on a mystery novel (which I haven’t read), according to those who have read the book, much of the adaptation isn’t based on the book. At all. The book’s about a (completely fictional) murder mystery over a short period before the publication of Hunmin Jeongeum. Episodes 1-4 which deal with the traumatic events that shaped the lives of the young Yi Do/Sejong, Ddolbok/Chae-Yoon and Dami/So-Ee, are entirely new to the drama. So much of the credit has to go to the scriptwriters for their creative re-imagination and clever adaptation (both of the novel and historical events).

  16. 16 kay

    HeadsNo2, thank you! you did a wonderful job on the recap. the screenshots and writing were lovely.

  17. 17 asianromance

    Thanks for the recap, HeadsNo2!

    I loved this episode. While I loved episode 1 also and in particular, Song Joong Ki’s acting, I was a frustrated to the young king for not being able to do anything…for being weak. But with Yi Do’s development

    I can understand why Ddolbok wants revenge, but I still find it sad that the two have to be at odds when they sort of saved each other. Yi Do saved Ddolbokk’s life. And Ddolbok saved Yi Do’s soul.

    I also got tired of the whites of Ddolbok’s eyes. Usually, I like the kid actors better than the adult ones. The kid is still quite a good actor, but he really needs to hold back on the bulging eyes.

  18. 18 come2noona

    Fab recap! Thanks! I am really enjoying this drama. SJK is amazing.

  19. 19 laya

    This is so awesome! Gamsahamnida! ^_^

  20. 20 bd

    A strong 2nd ep to a “killer” (pun intended) 1st ep.

    The storyline about the power struggle btwn the Sejong and his father has been most interesting – beautifully done.

    Like others, have found the over-angry kid act getting a bit tiresome (not to mention, the kid-actor’s eyes can look freaky at times), but other than that, the acting all-around has been superb –

    – Having none of the silly antics of character actors who are supposed to bring humor (usually not funny) or the “baddie” who let’s the world know he is the baddie by repeating his evil laugh every time he comes up w/ an evil scheme (the baddie’s laugh in “WBDS” was bad enough, but none was worse than the baddie’s laugh in “Dong Yi”); could the baddie one of these days, just smirk, chortle, chuckle to himself, etc. – instead of using the same laugh over and over again (some variety please)?

    Anyway, I’d put Yoo Seung-ho alongside SJK as a young actor w/ great promise – they also have that “pretty-boy” (w/o looking girly like some other young actors) thing going for them.

    • 20.1 laya

      I suddenly want a Yoo Seung-ho – Song Joong-ki starrer. πŸ˜€

  21. 21 KDR

    Seriously in LOVE with the show.. thanks for the recap! Glad to have you come here on DB! ^_^

  22. 22 S

    Thanks for recapping! I’ve been impressed by two things so far

    1. The lush cinematography. Just gorgeous especially in HD. πŸ™‚

    2. SJK as the young king. Really, I didn’t expect such a stellar acting performance from him. What impressed me was how he didn’t overact. Makes me wish he was in the drama for longer.

  23. 23 Lady Seoul

    I don’t want him to go. Darn, I just realized now why he wasn’t in the poster, it’s his “old-self” in the drama that is in the poster. Man, I don’t feel like watching this now when I was only going to for eye-candy. lol

  24. 24 Lemon

    OH my god, thank you for this recap!

    I just squealed with joy, (and shed some tears) when King Sejong stood up to his father to defend Dolbok. Ahhh, how awesome can Song Joong Ki be??? I’ve always loved him, since his Triple days, then loved him even more during Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and EVEN MORE now, hehe.

  25. 25 antonia

    first: SONG JOON KI HOW GREAT YOU ARE??? and how much i love your performance and how proud i am of the king as character and of you as an actor… you left me trembling and exhausted, you made me cry and smile… you left me wanting more and more of you
    HeadsNo2 i wanna thank you so much for this recap
    episode 1 was good but this was even better!!!!

  26. 26 vintagepolka

    hmm..not a fan of Jang Hyuk so i don’t think i’ll watch this. But if it’s for SJK, i may consider. After all SJK is not permanent in this drama as there will be another actor replacing as the king right? Plus i think TPM is still No.1 on mylist for Kdrama this year. AMAZING CHEMISTRY between the leads! So i partially agree with those who says this drama has already surpassed TPM. Just saying. πŸ™‚

  27. 27 Queenie

    i was soooo hoping you’d be recapping this drama…it really is so good!!!! appreciate this!! thanks!!!

  28. 28 Shel

    It was awesome. And that scene where LeeDo finally grows some “cajones” is riveting. JoongKi really was amazing in that scene.

    It’s too bad his character has to grow up so soon.

  29. 29 Jomo 143∞

    Thanks for the recaps. What a difference it makes to come here and see what everyone else thinks. It may be the only reason I finish – for the camaraderie.

    I am hoping I can get through this series without falling off the hanbok. My record with sagueks is something like:
    Started: 10
    Finished: 3

    I decided to go with sethe’s advice and not worry too much about the politics and plot.

    Everything about this show looks and feels magic.

    THAT MATH THING WAS THE COOLEST I HAVE SEEN IN A WHILE. Have no earthly idea why taking them out of the square helped solve, though.

    I was surprised it was 1400’s. How can I tell it isn’t 1700’s like WBDS? What are the era references I am not seeing?

    • 29.1 Shiku

      Some sagueks take a while to build up (I believe it took me 20 eps to get into Immortal Yi Soon Shin then it had me hooked me till the end) while others are interesting from the get go like TwDR.

    • 29.2 dramabliss

      Yes, I too love the use of the sudoku (really the magic square, which requires sums for all rows, columns, and diagonals to be the same) in this drama, both as a narrative tool and as cinematic technique.

      As pointed out by HeadsNo2, the solving of the 33 x 33 puzzle was beautifully shot and orchestrated.

      I, too, did not understand the math involved, but as Lee Do started to position the blocks outside the 9×9 grid, what leapt to my mind was “thinking out of the box!” Wasn’t that was the king was really doing? He is some smart king, for sure!

      I am also awed by the use of the sudoku to concretize the differences in perspective between Sejong and Taejong. The way they solved the sudoku puzzle showed, respectively, their diametrically opposed ways to ruling a country. Taejong’s way is so king-centric and reflects a megalomaniac stance. Sejong’s way is subject-centered and democratic.

      The solved 33 x 33 grid is a DAEBAK visual metaphor that perfectly complements the metaphor “tree with deep roots”. And with the appearance of the “hidden roots” motif (in Episode 3 or 4) I now can fully understand the meaning of the drama’s title.

  30. 30 Shiku

    I loved the episode especially The former King and SJK tensioned filled scenes. The boy however, was getting on my last nerve with all that screaming.

  31. 31 Saki

    I’m about to watch episode 5 but there’s this one thing that always bothers me: What is Kang Chae Yoon’s main reason that he wants to kill the king? It hasn’t been made clear to me. I know the main leads dad sent the letter that the king wrote and risked his life, but is that a good enough reason that i should take it as the main reason?… Dx On another note, I’m totally loving it. I loved Chuno, which has the same lead, and im currently watching Dae Jang Geum which has the same writer!

    • 31.1 dramabliss


      Ddol Bok’s (Kang Chae Yoon) carried the letter to Shim Won that became the evidence for the latter’s “treason” that caused his death along with almost everyone in his household. But that letter (as we viewers know) was not the original letter written by King Sejong. The real letter, which instructed Shim Won to stay away was switched with the incriminating one (on instructions by Taejong).

      However, Ddolbok and the other characters around him only knew that the letter was written by King Sejong. So all this time Ddolbok has been carrying this mistaken notion that is fueling his thirst for revenge, now even more intense when he discovered (again, mistakenly) that Dam has also been “killed”.

      Indeed it is certain that Ddolbok (now Kang Chae Yoon) will discover the truth about the letter later (don’t know how many episodes hence) and realize further that King Sejong also saved his life. How this will happen and in what manner it will influence the course of the narrative I am eager to see.

      Yup, like most everyone here, I am loving this drama. And Song Joon Ki? What can I say except Amen to all the raves.

      • 31.1.1 dramabliss

        Oops! I meant to write “Ddolbok’s father carried the letter…” in the first line in the above thread. Sorry.

        • Saki

          Thanks! You explain thoroughly! I read this recap and read your comment and understand the main point :]

          I do like Song Joon Ki! Especially in Triple, but Jang Hyuk is the star in my eye. I’m still a teen, but what can i say except a manly strong actor in action or rage always wins against an adorable young actor for my attention.

  32. 32 ahjummabunny

    My favorite scene in the whole drama so far is when he yells out Mu hyul! This drama is blowing me away sooo well.

  33. 33 Rovi

    some additional info:
    -…as he mentions all of the uncles and family Taejong has had killed…Jeong Do-jeon: The First Strife of Princes (제일차 μ™•μžμ˜ λ‚œ) of 1398. Details here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAcPTRpW3cU & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPGVsXVRlT4.
    The main reason why Taejong (Yi Bang-won)’s father Taejo abdicated.
    Background: Taejo had Yi Bang-seok, the youngest and his favorite among his 8 sons, declared seja in 1392, instead of Bang-won, who did much of the work alongside his father in founding the Dynasty at the same year. So basically jealousy and envy ruled his head, and launched the attack, killing every minister within the faction of the seja, including Bang-seok’s older brother Bang-beon.
    He killed Jeong Do-jeon first, Taejo’s advisor and considered co-founder of Joseon, with his philosophy and ideology that was the foundation of everything that was the Joseon Dynasty. And with reason, considering the animosity between Bang-won and Jeong Do-jeon, ranging from how Joseon was to be ruled (JDJ: king as symbol & ministers rulers, YBW: absolute monarchy) from the most recent issue about the successor; and also, Jeong Do-jeon conspired to have Bang-won killed sometime after 1396, to which Bang-won heard about.
    (Oh, and fun fact, Jeong Do-jeon was the founder of Seonggyungwan Academy…)
    Taejo was devastated and disgusted as to what lengths Bang-won would go to have his ambition fulfilled, and so abdicated, being already emotionally exhausted by the death of his 2nd wife Queen Shindeok (Kang-Bi from “Tears of the Dragon”) in 1396.
    -Taejong ruled after his elder brother Jeongjong (Yi Bang-gwa) ruled and abdicated

    and to add, can’t we not have any Yoo Ah-in here???

  34. 34 Lilian

    Oh wow! Loved Song Joong Ki in Sungkyunkwan Scandal. It’s great to see him taking on so different roles and still doing well! now, I feel like watching his movie.

  35. 35 KimKas

    Beautiful episode, Song Joong Ki is doing an awesome job and I really like the look of the actor playing King Taejong. He doesn’t mess around and as hard as he was trying to make his son a King in his own image, he will take an alternative route.

    For those who want to understand what Sejong saw in the empty meal box that solved his NxN puzzle is a simple trick. Try picturing this :

    2 4
    3 5 7
    6 8

    All he does is take the numbers that are “out of the square) and shift them on the opposite side, which gives us :

    2 9 4
    7 5 3
    6 1 8

    Nothing fancy here, and it works for any size, here’s an example using 7 :

    2 8
    3 9 15
    4 10 16 22
    5 11 17 23 29
    6 12 18 24 30 36
    7 13 19 25 31 37 43
    14 20 26 32 38 44
    21 27 33 39 45
    28 34 40 46
    35 41 47
    42 48

    Just like before, visualize a 7×7 square centered in 25, you’ll see 4 triangles coming out, for instance the one above is (1 ; 2 ; 8 ; 3 ; 9 ; 15), we just have to shift the triangles so that it can “fit” on the opposite side, like this :

    4 35 10 41 16 47 22
    29 11 42 17 48 23 5
    12 36 18 49 24 6 30
    37 19 43 25 7 31 13
    20 44 26 1 32 14 38
    45 27 2 33 8 39 21
    28 3 34 9 40 15 46

    If you look at the last 3 lines, do you notice the (1 ; 2 ; 8 ; 3 ; 9 ; 15) triangle ? It’s the exact same thing with the 3 other triangles, and that’s the simple pattern that our young King noticed πŸ™‚

    For those who want to check this, the sum on any row or column is 175 for this 7×7 magic square.

    I hope it was clear enough, it’s not highly complicated.

    Awesome series, I loved The Princess Man, but I totally fell for Tree With Deep Roots, it’s just so superb. Does anyone know if the novel was translated in English ?

    • 35.1 KimKas

      Ah, dang, the extra spaces are automatically removed, ah well, I’ll cheat and add underscores :


      The triangles will appear better now πŸ™‚

    • 35.2 petmink

      Thanks, it is a little too late to reply, but I also did the math and I was blown away at how simple this is. But it only seems to work with odd number of columns and rows. I was not able to do it with a 4X4 square.

  36. 36 matz

    can’t we just pretend that the king drank a potion that will make him look forever young so that song joongki can forever be the king here? i want more of him haha

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