Drama Recaps
Tree With Deep Roots: Episode 10
by | November 10, 2011 | 67 Comments

Mind = Blown.

Every time this show chooses to reveal a part of its many mysteries, I’m consistently left floored and wondering why I don’t just watch mysteries. It’s easy to forget how great a brilliant mystery can be when they don’t set themselves up as well as this… because then we forget just how good a well-timed, pitch-perfect reveal can be. There really aren’t enough good things to say about this episode, but maybe I should pick my jaw up off the floor before I try to say them.


News spreads fast, and it’s not long before Sejong hears that Ga Ri-on has been arrested by the Royal Investigation Bureau. He’s being charged with threatening Scholar Nam Sa-chul, but at one hour to midnight (when the crime was purported to have happened), Ga Ri-on has an alibi with our favorite court lady, So-yi. She was meeting with him at that very hour, which effectively clears him of the charges. The only (major) hiccup is that they can’t reveal this fact to the Bureau, because then they would have to explain why So-yi, as a court lady, was out past her mandated curfew time.

Not one for beating around the bush, Chae-yoon confronts Mu-hyul directly about his orders for Ga Ri-on to search his room. Mu-hyul pretty much shrugs this off, saying that if it’s Chae-yoon’s job to investigate, then it’s his job to investigate Chae-yoon. Simple as that. And as for the matter of Ga Ri-on’s innocence, Mu-hyul doesn’t seem to disagree – and says that if he’s so innocent, then it will be revealed.

Chae-yoon doesn’t react well to that kind of sentiment, even though he agrees. Sure, maybe the truth will be revealed – but at what cost? What kind of shape will Ga Ri-on be in by the time the truth is revealed? Will he even be alive?

Jo Mal-saeng constantly surprises me with how cool a customer he really is, this time by having a low-key, no-torture interrogation with Ga Ri-on. Like everyone else, he doesn’t believe that the butcher/coroner/surgeon can be a criminal. Ga Ri-on is quick to agree that he would be a madman to receive special favor from the King, only to turn around and commit a crime.

The official has done his digging, and is curious as to why Ga Ri-on is in Ban Chon when he wasn’t born there. The butcher then tells his sorrowful story about how his father was shot full of arrows and killed, while he as his son was unable to even collect the corpse. When he was twelve, his father left him in Ban Chon. Jo Mal-saeng listens to the whole story, nodding at all the appropriate moments, and then we find out what he’s really after – if Ga Ri-on was running errands last night, who asked him to do them?

Official Lee Shin-juk, who had been keenly watching Ga Ri-on’s interrogation, is in utter shock when he re-enters his room to find that someone has been inside, even though the guards outside say they’ve seen no one. What the invisible person came to deliver, though, was an order from Hidden Root. It’s a little funny that Lee Shin-juk stays in this same state of complete shock all the way to his home, where he retains the same expression even after he’s moved places and changed outfits. How did he change his clothes when he looks absolutely paralyzed by fear?

Meanwhile, Shim Jong-soo confronts the Leader about secrets she’s been keeping from him. She explains that it was for all the best reasons, because they’re preparing for a visit to Sungkyunkwan by Master Hae Gang. And that’s the time that the First Root, Jung Ki-joon, has chosen to reveal himself.

Chae-yoon’s sheer tenacity is a marvel in and of himself, and time and time again he’s proven just how well he can read others. This skill comes in handy when he asks Ga Ri-on a series of questions in the hopes of helping the man clear his name, but is like a dog with a bone when he senses the slightest of hesitations. He won’t take no for an answer, and his intensity is telling me that he’s way beyond just taking this case a little too personally.

Maybe Ga Ri-on sees the genuineness in Chae-yoon, and so he tells him that during that night, at the time that crime happened, he was receiving the King’s Command from So-yi. Chae-yoon is taken aback. What kind of royal command?

We can all but hear the ticking clock that prompts Chae-yoon to go directly to So-yi about the order that Ga Ri-on received. She wants him to save Ga Ri-on, which Chae-yoon says is a tall order – because without her confession to prove his innocence, she’s condemning him to die.

He’s clearly been upset since he talked to Ga Ri-on, and rushes to judge both her and Sejong when she tells him that the order was for a great cause that can’t be revealed. Chae-yoon knows a lot about sacrificing for “greater causes”, and accuses her of just trying to ease her own conscience. She knows Ga Ri-on can’t be saved without her testimony, but she still asks Chae-yoon to save him? His words are tinged with some menace as he asks her if Ga Ri-on should just be grateful that they didn’t kill him outright, he should be happy enough with the knowledge that it was all for a great cause. Isn’t that right?

His words are biting, and So-yi responds with a long letter and a deep bow. She doesn’t get upset at his words, maybe because she understands exactly how he feels.

So-yi[in writing]: “You asked me why I eat a mixture of Chinese date and snowbell, right? When I was little, on account of my childish behavior, my father and the people I loved died. His Majesty’s great cause is not only His Majesty’s. It is linked to me as well. I also want to sleep. I want to break away from it. I want to live. Mine and Ga Ri-on’s life, and the great cause, hang on you. Please save him.”

Even I’m moved, so it doesn’t surprise me that Chae-yoon has to reluctantly acquiesce.

I love and admire that he wastes no time, and heads straight to Ban Chon to literally ask the entire village if anyone saw someone take Ga Ri-on’s knife from the butchery/morgue/doctor’s office. He seems to grow more desperate as no one seems to have seen or heard anything, but the Leader’s right-hand man (the same that once held a knife to young Ddol-bok’s neck) pipes up that he heard cows crying that night.

He’s quicker on the uptake than I am, and goes straight to the Man Who Can Make Any Sound In The World. He’s the one frequently called to Sejong’s court, and since Chae-yoon knows there was no cow in the butchery that could have cried, he pinpoints that the village man heard what he thought was a cow, when it was really this strangely talented person.

Through some poking, prodding, and excellent sleuthing (Cho-tak is so the Watson to his Sherlock Holmes!), Chae-yoon is able to find out that the Sound Man saw two people coming from the butcher’s shop last night. Chae-yoon is off running, and my heart is already in my throat. Go, Chae-yoon, go!

Sejong literally comes alive as he’s explaining his creation process to his two new allies/critics. It’s beautiful to see how passionate he is about his great achievement, and his happiness is infectious. Just as we saw how Sejong adores So-yi in the last episode, it becomes clear that she too adores him, and may even go so far as to idolize him. She also firmly believes that one day, Chae-yoon will place the same kind of trust in Sejong that she does.

Not only do we get to see the magical unveiling of the Hangul project, but by bringing in both scholars on the refining process, we too are effectively drawn into that world. The two scholars are adorably blunt, and even though Sejong asked for critical judgement, a little positive feedback wouldn’t hurt. That’s not what he gets, though, as the two scholars point out problems with the alphabet – namely that it’s a bit incomplete. It’s hilarious to see Sejong’s puffed chest deflate a little at the criticism, but also curious when he tells them that he planned to solve the incomplete part with Ga Ri-on.

Sejong and Chae-yoon prove to be on some equal mental footing when both of them come to respective realizations at once. Chae-yoon’s has come about through some joint work with Jo Mal-saeng (effectively crossing him off the suspect list), while Sejong’s came from a conversation with the two scholars. He immediately arranges a meeting with Chae-yoon, who is no closer to finding the culprit because every noble family stands to gain from the census study not going through. If Chae-yoon can’t save Ga Ri-on, then no one can.

In yet another example of how their two minds complete each other (and how Sejong has to depend on this fact for Chae-yoon to solve crimes), Sejong gives him some cryptic words about how humans act irrationally in times of danger, leaving him with a question: Can Chae-yoon read terror?

Sejong needlessly worries later about his words being too cryptic (Mu-hyul doesn’t seem to have any idea what the conversation was about) because Chae-yoon is lightning-quick to get to what the King was implying. This leads him to the very scene of the crime, Scholar Nam Sa-chul’s house. The scholar claims that it was the masked assassin terrorizing the palace lately, but Chae-yoon is able to easily see through this lie when no evidence of the leaping martial arts method is left behind. But the most damning evidence? Nam Sa-chul looks terrified. Seems like Chae-yoon can read terror after all.

Chae-yoon devises a cleverly hilarious way to find the truth. He’s given instructions to his two cohorts, Cho-tak and Park-po, so that they both come running into Nam Sa-chul’s yard while the scholar is two feet away. The two palace guards speak like they’ve just memorized their lines (which they have, in a Kang Chae-yoon Production), and say loudly that they’ve found an eyewitness who saw the person that stole Ga Ri-on’s knife. And, what luck, he’s a painter! He’s painting so fast he needs both hands, and is literally preparing for them a montage of exactly who the culprit is. They’ve got him now!

It’s a good thing Nam Sa-chul is gullible, because Chae-yoon is an adorably hammy actor. The desired effect of the makeshift stage play is achieved – Nam Sa-chul is now worried that the artist is going to depict one of his men stealing the knife. His solution? Find an assassin. Wait, what?

Meanwhile, in Ban Chon, the man Chae-yoon had previously utilized for his big mouth proves to be a member of Hidden Root. He’s frantic as he says that “they” are already in the capital, and that “it’s” already happening. We don’t get many details other than, oh, a planned revolt in two days, but Pyung is decidedly calm as he relates that their people will be leaving secret codes all over the capital tonight just for the occasion.

I don’t know whether I should be glad that the Ming Embassy is involved now or not, but I have to warm up to them a little when it seems like they’re working against Hidden Root. And by ‘working against’, I mean the Ming “translator” that the ambassador set on the spying case, Gyun Jeok-hee, happens upon a Hidden Root member writing a secret code in the ground and swiftly captures him for some intense questioning.

Nam Sa-chul has played right into Chae-yoon’s hands, and comes upon the palace guard in a dark alley. He thinks he has the upper hand on an outwardly dim-acting Chae-yoon, and uses his hired muscle to take the ‘portrait’ from him. But he’s been had, and a friendly-looking dog stares out at him from the paper instead of a portrait of his right-hand man.

The relationship between Jo Mal-saeng and Chae-yoon is never explicitly explained, but I’m pleased as punch that they seem to be working together this episode. Chae-yoon has at least been coordinating with him, so when Nam Sa-chul decides to run, Jo Mal-saeng and his army are there to catch him.

It’s back to the comedy hour with Sejong and Mu-hyul, as the King is made aware that Nam Sa-chul confessed. About everything. The scholar fabricated everything about that fateful night – so there never was a man in his house, and there never was a threat. Sejong wonders the same thing I do… namely, how did that guy ever become a scholar?

But he’s definitely pleased with Chae-yoon, and doesn’t miss the opportunity to rib Mu-hyul about being a little slower on the uptake. Mu-hyul’s role is one that has a chance to go flat fast, but in the hands of such a skilled actor he’s both charismatic and funny as he gets adorably flustered. They’ve been around each other long enough for Sejong to read him like a book, and at last he drops the joke to mention a more serious matter: trusting Ga Ri-on with all his affairs. Clearly, if the butcher/coroner/surgeon didn’t buckle under pressure and spill the beans, then he’s a man to be trusted.

Chae-yoon and Ga Ri-on have a heartwarming and well-deserved moment outside of the Bureau. The butcher couldn’t be more thankful that Chae-yoon went to such lengths to save his life, and I’m happy right with him and cheering for both of them. Ga Ri-on muses that he’s probably the only slave to ever make it out of the station alive, and he’s probably very right about that.

But what’s extra nice? Jo Mal-saeng has even packaged a bottle of wine to give to Ga Ri-on. Awwww. It’s so nice when people care about other people.

Cho-tak notes that Chae-yoon seems pretty pleased with himself, and he definitely deserves every minute. We knew that Chae-yoon was taking this case personally due to his past, but an added detail comes with Cho-tak asking if Chae-yoon tried so hard to save Ga Ri-on because he reminded him of his father. Another round of ‘awwwww’.

Chae-yoon has still kept the rouge he’d once given to So-yi, and takes a trip down memory lane when his friend jokes around with it. He clearly misses his childhood, and tries to play the same word game he’d play with So-yi with Cho-tak instead. This scene is played so simply, but it makes me sad for the childhood that Chae-yoon can never return to.

Ga Ri-on is barely limping his way home, and doesn’t realize that he’s being followed. Noooo! That poor guy just got out of prison! Can’t we cut him a break? Apparently not, as uniformed men converge upon the poor butcher alone in an alley. What poor luck.

Meanwhile, Shim Jong-soo has worked himself into a mighty fit that he decides to take out on Pyung. For reasons unknown he happened to visit the Ming translator spying on him, and ended up saving the Hidden Root member that she’d captured earlier. It was only through him that Shim Jong-soo finds out that both the Leader and Pyung have been keeping secrets (mostly regarding the Super Secret Revolt) from him, and he is pissed enough to get into an awesome (at least, awesome for us) fight with Pyung.

The man responsible for recapturing Ga Ri-on is none other than Official Lee Shin-juk, who starts off friendly and warm to the poor man before dropping the Big Question… is he a member of Hidden Root? Ga Ri-on can only sputter out that he just got out of prison (I know!) and gets beaten again.

But Lee Shin-juk unfolds a piece of paper in front of him – it’s the order he received earlier from Hidden Root, that reads: Save Ga Ri-on! He can’t understand why Hidden Root would order him to save Ga Ri-on if he’s not one of their minions. So, holding a knife to his throat, Lee Shin-juk asks again. Is he a member of Hidden Root?

Ga Ri-on breaks under the pressure, and claims he’ll tell Lee Shin-juk everything if he sends all of his minions away. The official then sets to scolding him from one class to another, saying that he can do one-hundred things right – but if he does one thing wrong, as a slave, it’ll be the end of the line. Doesn’t he know that? Ga Ri-on’s face grows more serious as he says, well, what happens if one or two things were done well, but something else wasn’t? For example, if someone like Lee Shin-juk received an order to become a government official that he carried out, but the second order he received in twenty-four years was ignor-…OH MY GOD.

AHHHH! GA RI-ON IS JUNG KI-JOON. He’s Jung Ki-joon! HE’S JUNG KI-JOON?! Ahhh!! He’s Jung Ki-joon! Who, what, where, when, why, HOW? I knew he said he wanted to hide in the crowd, but I never dreamed that he’d hide himself as the lowest caste of society… but then, that’s probably why he picked it – no one would think to look there. And no one did. Genius!

The bomb gets dropped on Shim Jong-soo directly by the Leader, and all the pieces start falling into place. When Ga Ri-on was first being chased by Jo Mal-saeng, Pyung appeared to save him, but Ga Ri-on sent him away only moments before Chae-yoon appeared. So the whole prison act was an elaborate farce, then? It caused understandable chaos at Hidden Root with their master being arrested, so the Leader is the one who gave the order to their inside man in the government – Lee Shin-juk – to save Ga Ri-on.

I think it’s safe to say the butcher/coroner/surgeon/Ga Ri-on/Jung Ki-joon is holding a grudge since Lee Shin-juk left him to rot in prison. Didn’t he see all the signs (prints burning, blood in the court) indicating that he was supposed to reactivate? He ominously tells the former(?) Hidden Root member to await his next orders…

As Sejong rounds the corner, in disguise, happily looking forward to visiting the friendly butcher, Ga Ri-on.


Oh no!! Turn around now, Sejong!! Doesn’t your Hangul project need you?! Oh, I think I hear So-yi writing you frantically, clearly you should be home at the palace… I’m out of excuses, just don’t go there!

I realized that I should be calm, cool, and collected about the whole Big Reveal… but that’s kind of impossible when the reveal BLEW MY MIND. My jaw dropped, and stayed there, through the end of the episode. And then dropped again when I saw our lovable, friendly King is on the way to his number one worst enemy… who I still really, really like.

Tree With Deep Roots brilliantly led me on a merry chase with all its red herrings, enough so that while I suspected Ga Ri-on for his shady past about having his dad shot through with arrows (that happened to two kids at the same time), I didn’t really think he was the Jung Ki-joon. And even if I did, the fact that he was in prison and helpless with only the dedicated Chae-yoon to save him surely wiped away any doubt in my mind that he was anything but a good and pitiable person. He has a great kind of charm, and it’s clear that I’m not the only one who’s fallen for him – but Jo Mal-saeng would probably die of shock if he found out he gifted wine to the enemy that he’s been chasing for decades. Now I can’t wait for everyone to find out.

I can only applaud the writing team (and the original novel writer) for basically tricking us. It’s easy to dislike Hidden Root because it stands against our affable King (and that small thing about assassinating scholars), and so far I haven’t liked any of the Hidden Root members as autonomous characters. But I really started to like Ga Ri-on for his street smarts and demeanor… and now he’s our bad guy?! I can’t un-invest myself from this character, so that means I’m going to have to give a damn for what happens to him here on out, even if he’s doing bad things… Like killing good people. Ahh! I’m getting tricked again, aren’t I? This show is giving me a moral crisis, and I literally couldn’t ask for a show to give me any more.


67 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. 1


    • 1.1 tegami

      Just a heads up for everyone else: episodes 11 and 12 are all subbed, up and running on viki.com.


      And let me tell you, they even manage to top the awesomeness that was episode 10.

  2. anais

    The big reveal was rather BOMB! wasn’t it?

    But I really started to like Ga Ri-on for his street smarts and demeanor… and now he’s our bad guy?! I can’t un-invest myself from this character, so that means I’m going to have to give a damn for what happens to him here on out, even if he’s doing bad things… Like killing good people.

    I actually had the opposite reaction. I hate him all the more for his deception. For betraying this good king’s trust. During episodes 11 and 12, I shot daggers at him. I can’t wait for him to learn that the man he considers to be mere flower is about to bear fruit that helps Joseon the tree root itself so deeply that it outlasts the dynasty itself.

    • 2.1 sasasa

      I’m kind of puzzled about what to think of him because he definitely opposes what the king is trying to do but at the same time, i can see where he’s coming from. anyway, seems like you’ve seen the ep 12 so I’m writing back to you haha. This is a really well written exciting thrilling show. really looking forward to next week’s episodes :]

      • 2.1.1 anais

        I agree that the concerns that Milbon raises are valid. In a later comment, Phyllis rightly pointed out Sejo’s bloody ascent to power, but I don’t know if Joseon was ready for a constitutional monarchy. The fact that Taejong had been able to wrest power from Jeong Dojeon and wield absolute power suggests that institutional infrastructure necessary for a constitutional monarchy – though I’m not sure what they would have been – may not have been viable at that time.

        I also find suspect Jeon Gi Jun’s positioning of himself as heir to Milbon’s legacy. It reeks of power grab, not a genuine attempt to implement constitutional monarchy.

        • Kgrl

          Interesting. I also find JGJ’s Milbon legacy suspect, but for another reason – personal vendetta against the royal monarchy. It’s not that he doesn’t believe in the teachings of his uncle, but that his losses as a child has made him more stubborn and un-bendable.

          Milbon does have very legitimate concerns of the corrosive impact when an immoral/incapable leader holds the power, yet, they seem to go to the extreme. Dismissing the utility and effectiveness when the country is lead by joint efforts of the King and it’s officials, rather than one purely over the other.

          Right now, I’m completely smitten by Han Suk Kyu’s portrayal. He’s just absolutely brilliant as King Sejo. So much complexity, so much dichotomy when he’s onscreen. Every time I see him in the drama, I feel compelled to move a little bit closer, pay a little bit more attention – as if mesmerized. TBH, I feel like I have a crush on our King, much more so than any other character, including Chae Yoon. I think I’ve found my Korean Tony Leung. ^-^

  3. mary


    He’s a genius. Chae-yoon’s a genius. The two scholars are pert geniuses, and our genius King’s life is in danger. O______O

    TWDR, why so cool?!

    (Love your recapping style BTW. <3 Thank you so much)

  4. jessybee

    OMO!!! the leader of the Hidden Root is very well ‘hidden’ indeed.


  5. bd

    Another great ep.

    I had my suspicions about Ga Ri-on once he was being chased by the authorities.

    I know as a butcher, he’s the lowest of lows, and hence would be facing some tough times under questioning, but I didn’t quite buy his timidity and “poor me” act.

    1st off, he’s a butcher who kills animals and a coroner who handles dead people – not exactly the type of man who would be all meek.

    Also, it seemed like a bit of an act, which is brilliant b/c it was an act.

    Now up to that point, it was just a suspicion that there was more to Ga Ri-on than met the eye, but once he told the tale of his father being killed by a bunch of arrows, that really set my radar off.

    But still, the reveal was a bit of a shock.

    • 5.1 GoKorNavy

      I know most folks watch these “historic” drama for entertainment and not as accurate depiction of what actually happened. Case in point is Ga Ri-on’s character. As a butcher he is a ch’onmin or “untouchables” along with shamans, tanners, etc. These folks often lived in their own community away from the rest of the society–they were banned from living within the Hanyang (Seoul) boundary demarcated by the city wall). Historically, it would have been nearly impossible for a butcher who provided meat to the court would be a regular ch’onmin. As a matter of fact, the Joseon court had a cadre of kitchen staff made up of mostly men. One of the kitchen staff would have been a butcher who was paid for his service and given official rank, al beit low one. For this reason, Daejanggeum’s depiction of the court kitchen is grossly inaccurate.

  6. asianromance

    Thanks for the recap! The moment Ga Ri On was released from prison, I had a sense of foreboding. At first I thought that the wine that Jo Mal Saeng gave Ga Ri On was poisoned. Then he was captured and I was scared that he would be killed.

    Then it became much worse- he was Jung Ki Joon! NoOooOooO! There’s this suspicious, disheveled young guy in Ban Chon and I had thought he may be Jung Ki Joon (if So-yi can be in her 30s and still look like she’s in her early 20s, who knows what Ki Joon could look like!)

    I don’t get why Hidden Root is so active now. Sejong is obviously a better and much saner kind than his father. Ki Joon must have felt something for Sejong after what seems to be a long friendship and have seen what Sejong has accomplished so far. I guess ideology wins over trust and friendship.

    I miss you, Ga Ri On.

    • 6.1 K

      I thought the same about Jo Mal Saeng’s wine!!! I was so scared for Ga Ri-On and I kept thinking, “Throw it away! Throw it away!” Then when he was captured I was like, “Noooooooooo! And he just got oooouuut!” What a great turnaround of emotions when it was revealed that he’s the Bad Guy. O.O

      Hidden Root’s active now because although Sejong has the makings of a great king, he still uses much of his power as well as the Jiphyunjun to his likings and is probably taken as a “selfish” King who does everything his way.

    • 6.2 dramabliss

      Had exactly the same feelings about the wine. And I really felt afraid for Ga Ri On.

      Though my radar went up when he carried on about his father being shot by arrows (I thought he might have been the son of Jung Ki Joon’s father’s lackey), my jaw dropped when the big reveal came. Indeed, a BOMB, as HeadNo2 so aptly put it.

      I have mixed feelings about Jung Ki Joon and Hidden Root. I am aghast at the killing of the scholars yet at the moment, I cannot consider them as “the bad guy”. I think they are fighting for a worthy cause (more voice for the people). Recall, too, their beginnings – how the previous king, Taejeong almost decimated Jung Ki Joon’s clan.

      I also consider the fact that not all involved in the Hangul project, much less Ga Ri On/JKJ, really know what is going on.

      I am hoping that in subsequent episodes, JKJ will come to realize and appreciate the reforms that King Sejong have been putting in place. And how the king has actually been looking for him all this time. It’s almost a longing on Sejong’s part – for JKJ to be alive and to see that he is not a king “who can’t do anything”. For JKJ to see that Sejong is not a flower who can be easily cut off from the tree without serious consequences to Joseon. And that Sejong’s vision of Joseon as a tree with deep roots resonates with the goals of Hidden Root.

      I see the JKJ character as a worthy antagonist to Sejong’s protagonist. I think they are equally matched. I don’t know if there is a historical basis, but I really hope that they later become friends, and that JKJ will help implement Sejong’s reforms. I want to see JKJ being an adviser to the king in the end.

  7. l1lskyl1l

    love love love ur recap

  8. alove

    My reaction at the end was purely just like, “GAHDAMN!” I love when shows can surprise me like this. They’re very similar to the feelings I had with the endings of City Hunter.

    You’re doing a really great job catching up on this drama and speedily recapping it, so thank you! Do you think you’ll be able to catch up on the two that aired this week so we can start raving and ranting about their endings as well? 🙂

  9. laya

    omo O_O

    Thank you so much for the recap!

  10. 10 myweithisway

    My newest ahjusshi crush—Mu-hyul! He was so adorably flustered that I actually rewound the scene to watch it a second time =)

    As always, thanks for the recap!

  11. 11 Revy

    That reveal had me so shocked for like an entire day. I was like what the hell just happened. I like Ga Ri On so this is going to be heartbreaking

  12. 12 Ani

    Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! Wow, so awesome. Hahaha. Chaeyoon should not consider producing his won drama. I love all the awesomeness that was going on here, even Brutus! XD

  13. 13 hpn88

    Ep’s 9-10 were so amazing. The story keeps getting more and more tangled with everyone interacting with each other without knowing how they are all linked.

    I have to add that I have developed this enlarging soft spot for Jo Mal-seng. I just find him to be adorable in that gruff/crotchety old grandpa sort of way.

  14. 14 Lemon

    Is it weird that I’m starting to have this inappropriate crush on Sejong?? :O

    I’m not sure if it’s because I’m transferring my love for Song Joongki onto him, or its because he’s cute, funny, charismatic…did I mention cute?

    This show is really exciting. I don’t usually like pure sagueks, but this one is so exciting and fun.

    Btw how old is Soyi supposed to be? Chaeyoon looks 30+, and I know Soyi’s supposed to be the same age, but she looks 19!

    • 14.1 K

      I think that’s the charm of Han Suk Kyu as an actor. I think I’m also having an inappropriate crush on his portrayal of Lee Do. XD

      As for the ages, I think they’re supposed to be in their mid-late 20s? I’m not exactly sure. Tree with Deep Roots has been weird about age and looks. Lee Do aged a lot after the actors changed from Song Joong Ki to Han Suk Kyu, but characters like Mu-hyul or Jo Mal Saeng haven’t aged one bit–oh, except for some gray hairs here and there. So in the world of Tree it doesn’t matter that Chae-yoon looks 10 years older than So-yi; we can just say that Chae-yoon’s aged a lot after so many battles in the north. Honestly, I don’t really care about how Chae-yoon looks, because Jang Hyuk looks gorgeous to me. 😀

  15. 15 ruthie

    yeah this episode just blew my head off! i love it!!! ive been waiting for your recap to see your reaction and i wasnt disappointed lol. this is the first straight up seguk that i really enjoy. i’ll be really heartbroken if something bad happens to sejong and mu hyul! anyways, cant wait for the next episodes!

  16. 16 craziluver

    hahaha I was not surprised that it was Gari-on because he was suspicious from the start, starting from his multiple job descriptions.

  17. 17 Phyllis

    Love this drama! It is interesting to note that Sejong’s second son Sejo did away with the Hall of Worthies. So, because Sejo set himself up to be king by slaughtering so many people, including his own brothers, his nephew, and scholars, I am trying to understand what is so wrong about Milbon.

    The purpose of “Hidden Root” was to limit the power of the king. This is what we do in America by utilizing the three branches of government. I can’t help thinking that the king is really just a flower. This may not have been the case during Sejong’s rule, however. He seems to be the exception. Monarchy is not an ideal form of government. Anyway, the Milbon Pledge does not seem that off base to me.

    • 17.1 anais

      Given the rise of democratic republics, monarchies indeed don’t seem ideal. I’d not want monarchy in this day and age either. However, Hidden Root’s vision of the world isn’t ideal either since their success would result in an oligarchy, which is equally susceptible to corruption. Of course, the Hidden Root doesn’t think it seeks an oligarchy. They truly regard themselves as The People. And that’s the point I find problematic about Milbon. They cannot be the root. The only ones capable of being the root are the commoners, and Milbon is so fixated on the ideological struggle that it is blind to Sejong’s efforts to strengthen the country’s roots. Historically, Joseon monarchs seem to have been greatly influenced by the sadaebu, and moreover, the fractional conflicts among the sadaebu contributed to the fall of the Joseon dynasty.

      • 17.1.1 al

        I agree with you on that. What Milbon wants is to bring power to the ministers that then controls the king. But throughout Joseon’s history it is marred by factional conflicts that uses the monarchy to establish power (plus corruption) rather than the other way around. I agree that Milbon cannot be the root. The commoners at that time is not capable of being the root because most are illiterate and Joseon has strong division in its classes of people. Absolute monarchy sucks when the monarch sucks, but when the monarch is good, it can make historical difference.

        • Phyllis

          My knowledge about the Joseon Dynasty is always improved with every sageuk that I watch. It is limited by reading Wikpedia and other English sources,

          I suppose every kind of power is dangerous because deep down everyone wants to be in control, and the closer we get to real power the hungrier and more evil we get. This is man’s true nature without the redeeming power of Christ.

      • 17.1.2 Phyllis

        I enjoyed reading your response. Just goes to show that one person does not have all the cards. It takes teamwork to accomplish great things. Sejong certainly had great success and subsequent notoriety by using other people to help him. I love how he is portrayed here whether fictional or real. He faces his enemy head-on. He also seems like a very well-rounded and humane individual and, of course, highly intelligent!

    • 17.2 dramabliss

      I still have to read up on Joseon history, so am curious. Are you saying that Sejong’s second son, Sejo, carried on like Sejong’s father (King Taejong) and effectively destroyed what Sejong had so painstaking put in place in Joseon?

      • 17.2.1 Phyllis

        I wouldn’t have read about Sejo if I had not seen “The Princess’ Man.” Sejo is the father of the princess in that drama. He had Kim Jong-seo killed because he was put in charge of guarding the kingship of Sejong’s grandson, Danjong. Danjong was only 12 years old when he became king because his father was sickly and reigned only a short time. The part Park Shi-hoo plays is the son of Kim Jong-seo. It is a very wonderful drama.

        It portrays Sejo as very power hungry to the point that his own daughter loathes what he does and speaks out against it. Sejo chose his own advisers who recommended he take over the government in a coup. He did so and killed the leader of the Hall of Worthies and anyone who sympathized with them. Wikipedia describes him as a leader much like his grandfather King Taejong.

        Kim Jong-seo is one of the older men in “Tree with Deep Roots” who is part of Sejong’s Hall of Worthies.

  18. 18 Jemigirl

    I knew it!! Ga ri on is jung ki joong!! but he played the modest butcher guy character so well I though I could be wrong.

    when he finally revealed himself in that scene, the actor playing him was so brilliant!! when he slowly changed his demeanor and went from scared butcher to authoritative master in blink of an eye, I was in awe! I’m a new fan of this actor now gotta find ot more about him..

    This drama is shot beautifully, edited so well and the actors acting just blows my mind I looooves it!!!

    I’m def going to miss ga ri on the butcher, he was such a likable character.

    I need a day to get over this episode lol such an awesome episode !!

    Thank you so much for the recap!!!

    • 18.1 Moko

      I’m amazed you knew that beforehand.

      I just thought something was odd the whole time. I am so used to this actor playing the baddie that him playing the good guy made me scratch my head. Something just didn’t feel right with that butcher.

      Only at the nearly end of this episode I really thought he was just playing a good character…which would have been a waste of talent but whatever.

      Now that I know he’s really the baddie I scratch my head again in awe that I he was able to decieve me for so long. But honestly that role is way better than any of his other roles I saw him in until now!

  19. 19 K

    The Big Reveal was shocking, indeed. My mind was reeling when that scene was playing on my computer–Ga Ri-On, whom I was just rooting for and wanting to be saved, turns out to be The Enemy! I think this is the first time I’ve ever actually liked a bad guy, and I’ve got the writers to thank for making the twists and turns so wonderful that I was able to sympathize with the bad guy before knowing that HE’s the bad guy. Tsk, and Ga Ri-On was so likeable…I bet from here on out I’m going to start hating him for deceiving everyone, most especially Chae-Yoon, who did everything to save his life.

    I really can’t wait for you to recap episode 12. That episode is EPIC!

    • 19.1 Jomo

      Love your comment:
      I’ve got the writers to thank for making the twists and turns so wonderful that I was able to sympathize with the bad guy before knowing that HE’s the bad guy.

      Because they have done this to us all over the place!
      We are on Chae yoon’s side until we see he wants to kill the King, who we really like, so whose side do we pick? Both?

      We like the butcher and then? We don’t? But he’s so…?!

      They have split our loyalties deliciously.

  20. 20 ain't no drama queen

    Interesting to read everyone’s dramatic reactions to the ‘BIG reveal’. 😀 Well, I wasn’t shocked when GRO’s idendity revealed… I guess that’s because I kind of figured that out in earlier episodes when GRO said his dad was shot to death. Anyway, a great episode indeed!

  21. 21 soomp

    i had some serious kaiser soze flashbacks with that ending. i wad so happy that i’d decided to watch this drama – mostly for song joongki, and since i had a soft spot for jang hyuk from volcano high.

    great recaps. just watched 12 tonight – looking forward to that one as well.

    i wish more people were watching this amazing show!

  22. 22 neener

    I’m speechless with the big revelation!!!

    after Ga Ri-on was out of prison….and then someone came to confront him…I’d rather see him die than him deceiving our dearest King Sejong.

    but if this didn’t happen then the story won’t be that good!

  23. 23 Sophia

    Did you really mean to say “There really aren’t enough good things to say about this episode, but maybe I should pick my jaw up off the floor before I try to say them.” ? 🙁

    • 23.1 Jomo

      I think that means there are not enough good words in the WORLD to describe how good this episode is. We would run out of words before we run out of good.

  24. 24 Noemi

    …but Ga Ri-On’s so nice…who do I root for??? That’s one thing I like about this drama—there are a lot of gray areas, in terms of which side is “good,” which side is “bad,” and it’s all quite deliciously confusing!

  25. 25 antonia

    i used to love spoilers until now. i’ve already know Ga Ri On was Jung Ki Joon and that really spoiled episode 9 and 10 for me… actually i enjoyed more your recaps than the episodes themselves
    lesson learned no more reading spoilers about Three With Deep Roots (can’t say the same for other dramas)

  26. 26 Arhazivory

    Wow. The shock to me was a BIG one. I was there worried he’d be killed after being freed then that happened. =O

  27. 27 SO YI

    amazing drama !!!! thanks for the recaps ! Jang Hyuk is gorgeous ^^

  28. 28 GoKorNavy

    Here is my observation on Milbon. The conflict between King Sejong and the aristocracy is not about whether Joseon should be a constitutional monarchy or absolute monarchy. The statecraft of the Joseon Dyn was based on Neo-Confucianism which clearly favored the absolute monarchy. What is interesting is that King Sejong established Jiphyeonjeon which acted as the moral conscience of the royal court. Jiphyeonjeon was staffed by Sunkyunkwan scholars who throughout its history acted as the moral/ethical (Neo-Confucian) compass for the court. It’s primary function was to advise and remonstrate the king and the noble/officials–sort of like the Fourth Estate along with private Confucian academies–on matters of governance. This is one of the reasons why in Tree With Deep Roots, all the nobles abhor the debate session with Jiphyeonjeon scholars.

    Also, the term “scholars” within historical context carries much deeper meaning than mere student of knowledge. Within Confucian context, it meant someone who studied ancient histories (ancient Chinese history, Confucius, Mencius, etc.) and internalized the those lessons, and as result, has a refine moral characters beyond knowledge. This is the reason why Sejong is dismayed by Nam Sa-chul’s action.

    Lastly, the “census” in not really a census but a cadastral survey (survey of land ownership). Joseon’s economy was not monetized until later in its history. While currency (minted coinage) was available, much of the transactions were conducted through batering and with commodity. Taxes were paid in kind such as rice, silk, etc. As a predominantly an agricultural society, the land was the basic form of economic unit and therefore a periodic land survey was essential for levying proper taxes. Much of the land was owned by nobility and attempts by Joseon kings were always rebuffed.

    • 28.1 anais

      I read your comment as a criticism of Milbon. Did I read correctly? Your overall point is a bit unclear to me.

      Also, could you tie in your elaborations on scholars and the census to your overall point?

      The nobility were opposed to the census/survey because, obviously, it would reveal that the nobility had been siphoning from what ought to have gone into the national treasury since land and all harvest from such land were supposed to be tied to the office/title, not to actual individuals.

  29. 29 Mia

    so intense! love it! this is why i watch mystery dramas! 😀

  30. 30 Helena

    tq HEADSNO2,

    I don’t like the way ga ri on spoke, not natural at all,

    quite suspicious all the time, but I can’t BELIEVE

    his display of actions as a butcher /coroner/surgeon

    to be JKJ.

  31. 31 babyjunior

    Thanks for the recap. This reveal surely blew my mind!!

  32. 32 dany

    I didn’t see this one coming, I was shocked I have to admit it. Great show, thanks for recapping it!

  33. 33 Jomo

    Thanks for the recap!
    I agree it was a good reveal, but the butcher was suspect simply because he was the lowest of the low.

    The show gets better every episode.
    I don’t like how BOTH Chae-yoon AND Kaiser Sose Ki-joon have goofy, bumbling, humble selves hiding their more intelligent, sharper real personality.
    It would have been cooler, if one was, well, different than the other.

    OK, everyone agree with me on this. Doesn’t the King with his four female support staff remind you of Robert Palmer’s video – Addicted to Love?


    It would be the absolutely COOOOOLEST thing EVER if they could get the King and his cohorts to parody this in full sageuk costume. I would die of happiness. Even the lyrics apply somewhat.

    • 33.1 anais

      Joseon Addicted to Love? I die.

      Can you just imagine HSG in full kingly regalia turning side to side? The outfits of the court ladies, though, we’d need to do something about. The whole point of those Robert Palmer videos were the femme fatale vixens.

      • 33.1.1 Jomo

        OH! To make them Joseon sexy – how about in gisaeng wigs and clothes? That would be hilarious!

      • 33.1.2 ed

        One vote for hanbok miniskirts made of meat!

  34. 34 asarako

    Thanks for the recap…. i enjoyed the drama…. (bow)

  35. 35 ahjummabunny

    my ga ri on being jung gi joon feeling is- he is like chae yoon and sejong they compliment each other. I think ki joon is still someone that sejong will want in his joson and the distance between them will start to minimize soon.

  36. 36 triniti

    ok guys, let me have my moment here, before i start writing endlessly, let me ask for forgiveness.


    I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    OH YEAH!!

    ok, coming to logic here, it is truly the perfect hiding place. basically isnt ga rion (when he played the pitiful slave card with chae yoon) doing the exact same thing chae yoon does (act like a brainless and stupid guard)

    and even when he was arrested, everyone knew he was innocent, just like you have written, even jo malseng knew it to be IMPOSSIBLE for a butcher like him to be ki joon, let alone the leader of it all!!!

    i kneeeeewwwwwwww itttttt!!!!!!! he waqs like my number 1 suspect to be the leader since…well since the first episode i saw him. it couldnt have been anyone else.

    happy right now. feeling that awesometastic satisfaction of having guessed correctly!!! i mean, the momet i finished watching episode 9, i already knew, like comeon!!! why would such a minor character have so much time devoted to him, eh??? oh im relishing this moment!!!!!

    ok, im done raving. sorry again:)

    • 36.1 MsB

      You are awesome because I did not see it!

  37. 37 MsB

    I yelled at the TV about the big reveal. Talk about unexpected!!! Ga Ri is the Hidden Root?!!! Talk about WOW factor!! The writers did a great job taking us here because I doubt ANYONE expected that!!! So, now the big question is who is going to save the King?!! I love the King because of his gentle nature and hate to see his demise! So-Yi, even after all of her sadness, sees the goodness but how can the Root not see it yet still want to destroy it?! Now its getting good!!. Before I was just following the story!

  38. 38 Shiku

    I kinder suspected there was something more to Ga Ri On because he seemed too knowledgeable for his class. I mean h was a doctor, knew the hidden ways that caused the scholars to die, he did autopsy, etc but I did not expect he would be the ROOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mind = blown x a million

    Perfect hiding place!

  39. 39 KimKas

    That was such a magnificent episode, I’ve grown to really really like Tree With Deep Roots a lot and the story-line is just so fantastic. I’ve got to read the actual novel now.

    Anyway, Ga Ri On being the actual Jung Ki Joon, wow, just… WOW o_O. That wasn’t expected, or rather : it was just so brilliant that I didn’t expect it. But in hindsight, it actually makes perfect sense : as always, it is the person you least suspect that turns out to be the main vilain, which is exactly the case here and Ga Ri On is someone trusted by pretty much everyone around him.

    I find Jung Ki Joon to be a bit paradoxical though, for all his preachings of Hidden Roots, Confucius’ teachings saying that King is only the flower and that it’s actually ministers who make a good King, how he despised King Taejong (Lee Bang Won) because he was one who resorted to brutal power during his reign, he is actually doing the same things King Taejong did himself during his reign : killing people to get what he wants. Hardly keeping the moral high ground that he was claiming when he gave that paper exam.

    My thinking is that Jung Ki Joon wants “his” Joseon to remain attached to Chinese culture and tradition and that’s why he’s opposing King Sejong, because of his project of making a new language that will be representing Joseon’s people and culture, hence breaking away from Chinese tradition. Otherwise, to me, Jung Ki Joon’s actions don’t really make any sense, and he doesn’t come across as the guy who would burn the world just for the pleasure of burning it.

  40. 40 Boo

    Just watching this old drama now…. First comment in this drama thread; I couldn’t help myself. This EP was too good not to say something!


    MINDBLOWN. Exactly.

    I really like that Chae Yoon and Jo Mal Saeng worked together at the end. Or seemed to be.
    Jo Mal Saeng is an interesting character. In the initial EPs, I didn’t like him because I thought he was evil. Like he didn’t mind the killings and agreed with it. (Well, he probably did.)
    I saw how he was close to the former king and thought he had similar views… Well, I still don’t like or hate him. I’m becoming more neutral about him.
    Now I realized he is mostly on the side of the king and he is just against Hidden Root period.

    I totally figured out that the culprit was Nam Sa Chul when King Sejong was talking to Chae Yoon about reading terror and panic!!

    UGH. GARION. I was so shocked. I didn’t understand his speech at first. I had to replay the reveal scene again.
    I was srsly considering his butcher buddy/co-worker as Jung Ki Joon… or someone else NOT Garion.
    I really believed in how humble/innocent he was, living a simple life as a slave and working as a butcher after:
    1. His first interrogation with Chae Yoon in the forest
    2. His gratefulness to Chae Yoon after getting out of jail

    I always remembered JKJ’s comment that he will hide within the people, but I never suspected Garion.
    The flashback about the arrows made it clear to me too.
    At first, I thought Garion was the other boy who held his dying father, shot by arrows (the guy who informed JKJ of his father’s death.)

    I keep thinking back to how Garion examined each victim, how he communicated with the King so often… How he met with So Yi about a royal command. Etc etc.
    Now I’m worried that he will become so close to the King, learning all of his plans and secrets!
    Even the King said he will give all his missions and trust to Garion!!! UGHHHHH. NOOOOO.

    I guess up to this point, Garion only had a few royal mission/errands so he doesn’t know about the King’s great cause.
    I wonder how he will react to it. I wonder what’s been his motivation to have Hidden Root be active again.
    Doesn’t he realize the King is different from his father? Or maybe, he’ll soon learn.

  41. 41 chooki

    I did not see this one coming. Merry chase indeed. I was sure that Ga Ri On was the son of Jung Do Kwang’s servant
    (forgot that Jung Do Kwang had also been shot by several arrows, and totally missed the fact that Ga Ri On couldn’t see his father one last time).

    I’m usually not a person for mysteries, but OMG, Tree had me hooked from the very first episode.

    Thanks for the recaps!

  42. 42 wingedangeldawn

    One of the biggest things that really stood out for me was how involved the women are in this story. Not just SoYi but all the court maids. They are intelligent women who are being given this huge task for their king and for the reshaping of their countries written word. It is really amazing because it is really hard to find smart women who are so really central to the story. Really give it up for the writers, well done.

  43. 43 Prettysup

    OMG I didn’t expect our butcher to be the Number 1 hidden root either!! Really dropped my jaw one hundred feet

  44. 44 nutella

    I feel like I didnt feel the excitement as others watching this episode since the big twist was pretty obvious to me since the first episode he was introduced. When the King asked him where he learned his skills, he talked about his father being killed by arrows and him being unable to avenge him. This fact kept being re-surfacing here and there. Also the second twist seem likely to me. I am sad I saw this coming.

  45. 45 korfan

    I’m currently watching this and five years later, I think I’m just as amazed with this episode as everyone else was when it was first broadcast.

    Simply fantastic.

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