Drama Recaps
Tree With Deep Roots: Episode 15
by | November 26, 2011 | 55 Comments

This show isn’t going to invite you out for a tea party as much as it’ll throw that hot tea in your face while ordering you to grit your teeth and take it like a man. You want less intensity? You don’t get less intensity. There’s no crying in sageuks!

Except for all that crying they do in sageuks. Tree With Deep Roots has a fantastic tears to action ratio, though.


Hidden Root’s secret soldiers are no match for Chae-yoon, who cuts them down in order to free So-yi and Prince Gwangpyeong from the wagon. So-yi seems no worse for the wear, but Gwangpyeong is nursing a bloody injury on his arm.

Chae-yoon completely ignores the presence of the royal family member, and takes So-yi by the hand (and not the wrist, can you believe it?) to lead her away. When she puts up some light resistance, he unceremoniously throws her over his shoulder.

Gwangpyeong, however, is having none of it, and defends her by holding a sword to Chae-yoon’s neck. Chae-yoon seems mostly unaffected by this as he puts So-yi down, almost comically ignoring Gwangpyeong as he finally confronts her about what she wanted to say (he’s referring to her letter where she asked him to meet her at the paper-making office). She’s frank when she says she didn’t have anything to say, she just wanted to keep him around. Aww.

Chae-yoon seems to be guarding his own heart when he tells her that he can live without seeing her, and only came when her letter called so he could cut their ties. He tells her to quit the work she’s doing (that great cause and all that). She doesn’t have to come with him, but he’s not going to see her die either. So far he’s saved her from death three times (the first time they met at the burning printing office, the time Pyung assassinated Scholar Jang Seong-soo, and now), and he can’t see her be used and thrown away by the King any more.

Gwangpyeong may be the third wheel on this date, but he’s not going down without a fight. It’s time for an Ideological Battle, and Chae-yoon is outnumbered in his opinion that the King can sacrifice a person like his father for his great cause, but if Hidden Root would have succeeded in kidnapping Gwangpyeong and using him against Sejong, his father wouldn’t allow him to die. Why? Because he’s the King’s son. People like Chae-yoon’s father, of the lower class, should just consider it an honor if they’re sacrificed for the greater good, right?

Wrong. Gwangpyeong stands firm in the belief that Chae-yoon, being of his status, can’t possibly understand the King. His death wouldn’t shake his father from his great path of creating the alphabet, since the King thinks other lives are more valuable than his own. He’s not the sort of person to save his son but sacrifice others if they were in the same situation.

So, to test that theory, Chae-yoon wonders what would happen if the King were forced to choose between the alphabet or the Prince. He plans to use Prince Gwangpyeong as a hostage against his father, pitting the Prince’s life against the Hangul Project. Wait, what? Chae-yoon! What are you doing?!

Gwangpyeong steps up to the plate – fine, but if he wins (so, if Sejong were to choose the alphabet over his life) what is Chae-yoon going to bet? Chae-yoon’s response is that the King said that he needed him for his project. So, if Sejong is not willing to give up the alphabet when his son’s life is threatened because of it, then Chae-yoon will follow Sejong without hesitation.

But… if Chae-yoon wins, and the King is willing to give up the alphabet to save his own son’s life when he wouldn’t do so for anyone else, then the King will know what it’s like to live through the hell of losing a family member. Good God, this is the most hellish bet ever.

Everyone’s in crisis mode. Hidden Root, operating under the assumption that they have safely captured Prince Gwangpyeong, So-yi, and all the data on Hangul, preemptively put out posters for the public to read that accuse Sejong of using his son to move the data the night before he was supposed to open the Hangul Room. Only, now that they’re missing their crucial evidence, they wish they hadn’t have acted so rashly.

Mu-hyul reports to Sejong that the paper-making office was raided yesterday and Gwangpyeong, So-yi, and the data were taken. They believe Hidden Root is behind it, while Hidden Root is sure that the jig is up because Gwangpyeong must have already returned to the palace.

Cho-tak and Park-po find the letters Chae-yoon left for them the night before. Cho-tak’s letter mentions revenge, and Park-po wonders what Chae-yoon’s revenge was about. Cho-tak merely responds that Chae-yoon came to the palace to take revenge on his father’s enemy. Unfortunately, Jung Ki-joon (as Ga Ri-on) passes by at that same moment and overhears their conversation.

When he returns to Hidden Root Headquarters, he finds out that a fellow named ‘Ddol-bok’ is the one who defeated their soldiers and took their hostages. Crap. They know Ddol-bok is Chae-yoon, and after the conversation Jung Ki-joon overheard earlier… he puts the pieces together, coming to the conclusion Chae-yoon came to the palace to assassinate the King. Shock! He thinks that they’ve hit the jackpot – now all they need to do is find Chae-yoon. I wonder if he thinks Chae-yoon could be recruited to their side, if his goals seemingly look the same as theirs.

Because of his deadly bet with the Prince, Chae-yoon has taken both him and So-yi as prisoners. When So-yi asks about the information from the cart, Chae-yoon responds that he’s hidden it (I hope he hid it at the root of that giant tree, because that’s poetry). Per their agreement, Gwangpyeong writes a letter to Mu-hyul on a piece of his own clothing dictating the terms of the agreement – Sejong can give up the alphabet to save Gwangpyeong’s life, or sacrifice Gwangpyeong’s life for the alphabet.

Chae-yoon returns to the capital to presumably deliver the agreement, but finds it curious that everyone is gathered around a posting – one that claims that Prince Gwangpyeong has been captured by the traitors. He runs in to see Cho-tak, who probably didn’t expect to see his friend again, to ask for information. Who put the poster up?

Cho-tak responds that it was somewhere between five and seven a.m., and Chae-yoon’s brilliance shines through as he realizes that Hidden Root put those postings up before they physically had Gwangpyeong. But, that also means that they must know he now has the Prince.

Meanwhile, the wound that Gwangpyeong acquired during the snafu at the paper-making office seems to either be more serious than we thought, or it’s festering. All color has drained from his face and he’s running a high fever.

When So-yi offers to escape in order to find him medicine, he physically stops her. He believes so much in what his father is doing that he’s willing to sacrifice himself – if his father honestly believes he needs Chae-yoon for the alphabet, then he is going to make sure to deliver Chae-yoon to his father. So-yi counters, though, that it’s not actually the alphabet Sejong needs Chae-yoon for. According to her, both Chae-yoon and Sejong are ill people – and only they can cure each other’s illnesses.

It’s time for Ideological Battle: Round Two, and neither man looks as though he’s ready to back down. Gwangpyeong says his father will never give up on the alphabet because his father’s blood, King Taejong’s blood, runs through his veins. Gwangpyeong explains his own stubbornness because his grandfather’s blood runs through his veins, too.

Our hero stands by the belief that the alphabet is useless to the common man, who has to work from sunrise to sunset. When can he have time to learn the letters? Chae-yoon claims that it took endless time and effort for him to learn the amount of Chinese characters that he does know, and he doesn’t even know all of them. So how many letters has King Sejong made? Five thousand? Three thousand? One thousand?

To Chae-yoon’s surprise, he was nowhere near the right number. Gwangpyeong tells him that his father’s alphabet is only twenty-eight letters.

If Gwangpyeong is right, then Chae-yoon is without an argument. He’s in disbelief that there can only be twenty-eight letters – there are more than twenty-eight objects in the shed they’re in, for instance. How can those twenty-eight letters create all the words necessary just to describe the objects in the room? But the beauty and simplicity of the Hangul alphabet is that any amount of words, every word, can be made with only those letters. So-yi writes them down on a piece of her skirt to prove it.

So-yi: “With just these twenty-eight characters you can write our names that can’t be written with Chinese characters, dialects you like to speak, accents, our hearts… the sound of the wind, the birds… we can make all these sounds using these characters.”

Gwangpyeong is sure that Chae-yoon can learn it in a day, while So-yi knows he can learn it in an afternoon. This is a nice tie-in to the historically published notes that were written as commentary on the Hunminjeongeum, the document that promulgated Hangul. The historical text read (in regards to learning Hangul): “A wise man can acquaint himself with them before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn them in the space of ten days.” Chae-yoon is challenged to try learning the alphabet in one afternoon and seeing for himself.

The royal army has been searching for Gwangpyeong and So-yi in vain, so Sejong decides to take matters into his own hands by visiting Pyung – who conveniently is still being held in prison after turning himself in. Sejong delivers a powerful tour de force that has Pyung shaking in his boots.

King Sejong: “If you touch the Prince or So-yi, every member of my military I will call to arms, and will sweep all of you around the village market in front of the people. We will display all of your dead bodies. Those dead bodies will be ripped to pieces and sent all over the country. After re-establishing the fundamentals of the nation, I will perish the three generations of those three generations. I will punish you miserably!

Not even a second after his outburst, Sejong’s entire demeanor changes. Suddenly he looks like a lost little boy as he immediately apologizes for what he said. Hmm, seems like someone is fighting with their inner Taejong. He breaks down in front of Pyung, his voice shaking as he says: “Please… save Gwangpyeong. I will give up everything… everything!” Pyung seems to have been frightened earlier, and perhaps about to give in and speak, but now with this turn of events a triumphant look comes over his features. He believes that he’s won over the King.

However, Sejong’s entire demeanor changes yet again…

“Did you expect that I would do this?” he asks Pyung. Wow. That is a ‘psych!‘ if I’ve ever seen one, and one that I completely believed. Sejong put on an elaborate but awesome act to prove his superiority, and tells Pyung that he doesn’t care who he is, or what they want from him. Whatever it is that they want, they won’t get it. He won’t negotiate with people like them, nor will he pay back the offense in blood. He’ll pay them back by showing them how they are bound to fail.

Again, wow. Team Sejong for the win!

We find Chae-yoon outside the Hostage Shed, in the dark, writing Hangul into the dirt with a blade. He wonders if it’s really possible, that a world can exist where everyone is able to write letters. So-yi finds him outside, reading what he wrote. Things like: “I met Dam. I want to see Father.” Aww. He’s like a child when he asks her if he’s written it correctly, and she praises him for learning the alphabet in half the afternoon. Gives you a whole new appreciation for Hangul, doesn’t it?

They hear a sound inside, and find Gwangpyeong on the floor and writhing in pain from his wound. Chae-yoon was unaware, and is unhappy to find out that he’s had this wound since the paper-making office. For some reason Gwangpyeong wants to play tough and continue to refuse treatment, but Chae-yoon rips off a piece of his own clothing to use as a bandage and instructs So-yi to keep pressure on the wound while he goes to find help.

Unfortunately for him (and probably for Prince Gwangpyeong), the help he goes to find is none other than our resident butcher/coroner/surgeon/liar Ga Ri-on, whose real identity as Jung Ki-joon is still unknown to Chae-yoon. Luck just seems to fall into this villain’s lap in times like these, as he was just with his Hidden Root cohorts talking about how they have yet to find Chae-yoon… and now Chae-yoon is right there, pretty much dangling the Prince in front of his eyes.

Jung Ki-joon looks quite shifty as he gets some medicine from a shelf. Is it even medicine at all? Yikes.

The woman Leader of Ban Chon claimed that the only reason Chae-yoon had not been found yet was because they didn’t have Pyung, so when a key mysteriously drops into the assassin’s cell, we assume it’s Hidden Root that’s freeing him. He seems to believe the same, even as he runs out of the prison to find a horse just waiting for him. He makes his escape ahead of the royal army, unaware of the bag attached to the horse spilling white powder behind him.

The prison break was planned by Mu-hyul, who is not far behind and can follow Pyung to the Hidden Root hideout by using the white powder (Joseon’s version of breadcrumbs) to track his movements. It’s only later, when Shim Jong-soo reports the prison break to Lee Shin-juk, that the latter realizes it’s a trap.

All the other concerned parties (Pyung and Hidden Root, Mu-hyul and Sejong) are afraid of the sunrise when Gwangpyeong is still missing. Acting as Ga Ri-on, Jung Ki-joon successfully treats Gwangpyeong’s arm injury (phew!) but then claims he brought no medicine for fever in his hurry. There are herbs in the mountain, though – and I get the feeling he’s telling Chae-yoon this just to get him out of the shed so his soldiers don’t have to meet with resistance.

Chae-yoon is onto the plan – or more so onto the fact that they’re being tailed – and gets the right idea to abscond with So-yi and Gwangpyeong before both the Royal Army and the Hidden Root Army descend upon their tiny shed.

Gwangpyeong is unable to walk, and so Chae-yoon carries him on his back as they try to escape through the forest. The two men have formed a grudging alliance now that Chae-yoon has seen the true nature of the alphabet, so when Gwangpyeong tries to play noble and sacrifice himself in order for Chae-yoon and So-yi to escape from the Hidden Root soldiers swarming the mountain, Chae-yoon is having none of it. He tells Gwangpyeong that because he is his hostage, he has to take responsibility for him. So there’ll be no self-sacrificing on Gwangpyeong’s end if Chae-yoon has anything to do with it.

It’s an all-out battle between Pyung and Mu-hyul, who discover each other in the forest outside of the shed they both believed Gwangpyeong to be in. Mu-hyul and his small number of men seem sorely outnumbered by the army Pyung has brought – but Mu-hyul is the Best Swordsman In Joseon, and handles them with ease. When it comes down to just him and Pyung, it seems like curtains for our formerly-masked assassin…

Until the long-haired butcher’s assistant comes, wearing a mask, to challenge Mu-hyul. It takes one clash of their swords for Mu-hyul’s to be knocked out of his hands. Whoa. I knew that the butcher’s assistant was strong (seeing as how he killed that one guy with a tiny tree branch), but this is a whole new level. Mu-hyul’s fate is uncertain, but it seems as though both men have disappeared by the time he turns around. Hopefully.

Sejong needs some time to himself, and it’s only when he’s alone that he breaks down. He cries for his son, and it breaks my heart. We don’t know if he’s crying over the choice he has to make, or the fact that everything is crumbling around him – but one thing is certain, in that he does love Gwangpyeong.

Like he’s done before, Sejong is all smiles once he gets to the much-dreaded forum with the officials and scholars. He reads the posting aloud like it’s ludicrous, and then does exactly what Jung In-ji told him not to do: he admits everything. Yes, he created letters secretly and they’re almost complete. Gwangpyeong wouldn’t want him to stop his great project because of him, and he is not going to negotiate or cow-tow to Hidden Root just because they’re threatening him.

He’s in and out relatively quickly, leaving the officials befuddled at his attitude, but leaves them with one last thing. If there is a member of Hidden Root within the forum, he’d like to send a message to the head of Hidden Root. It’s something that Jung Ki-joon had once asked him as a child, when a young Sejong had gotten so mad he’d punched the boy. The question is: “Only violence?”

Gauntlet thrown.

Sejong has come to peace with the fact that no matter what happens to Gwangpyeong, he will endure without shedding any tears. Hardcore, Sejong. Hardcore. But when he walks alone into the Hangul Room to see Chae-yoon, So-yi, and his beloved son standing there he collapses from shock. Their reunion is both tearful and beautiful.

Sejong is more amused than angry (his son is back, so his mood is light) at the fact that Gwangpyeong and Chae-yoon placed a bet on the heart of the King. So, what was the bet, anyway? Gwangpyeong explains that he won, and Chae-yoon says that he will now follow the King’s orders without a word – on one condition. He hands the King a piece of paper where he’s written, in the new alphabet he learned, his father’s name – Suk-sam. His only wish is for the Sejong not to forget his father’s name.

The King promises him that he will never forget.


What a beautiful ending to a beautiful episode. It wasn’t much in the way of cliffhangers, but it was perfect in its closure. Everything has a purpose, and nothing is done in vain – so the fact that Chae-yoon gave Sejong his father’s name written in Hangul is not only symbolic of his wholehearted acceptance of the King’s ways, but also justice for his father (at last). By learning the letters in half an afternoon, Chae-yoon has singlehandedly proved the usefulness and resourcefulness of the alphabet and everything Sejong has been trying to prove thus far that he didn’t want to accept. Everything just fits together so well, so that moments like this seem organic. It just blows my mind.

It’s also so important for an actor to be believable with big character changes, and Jang Hyuk delivers superbly. I thought it would be near impossible for Chae-yoon to move past his thoughts of vengeance – and even if he did, actual acceptance is a whole other matter entirely. Yet I find myself buying everything, with nothing being too out of bounds. We have superb actors to thank for that, as well as incredibly assured writing and directing. What can I say? This show has done no wrong.

In terms of the alphabet and everything surrounding it, the shit has really hit the fan, and it isn’t just Hidden Root that’s against Sejong’s great cause. But even then, Jung Ki-joon has a line in this episode where he’s sort of over this whole alphabet nonsense. If that’s the case, what are they really after? Is it just the fact that the alphabet represents the King’s power, and they just want none of it? It’s been interesting to see the checks and balances system come into play these recent episodes, and even more interesting that for the first time in my life I can feel myself siding against a checks and balances system because it would have stopped the promulgation of Hangul. Either way, I’m excited to see what Hidden Root’s next move will be now that they have every letter of the Hangul alphabet in their hands.


55 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. dasotong

    Thanks for the recap! πŸ˜€ been refreshing the whole day

  2. neener

    I knew I’d be able to read it today!!!!

    thanks for the recap! off to read!

  3. kay

    yay! this show is awesome. thank you for your recaps. now we finally have them three standing on the same side. and i was really worried the prince would die, but i suppose it’s still too early to be sure. he might croak from an infection.

  4. staseus

    Thanks for the recap!! yet another awesome episode!!
    The reunion of son and father was beautiful! and each character small and big has the chance to shine in this drama so far.. The casting crew has done a wonderful job! such superb actors and actresses who do not fail to deliver each scene. and the final end to this epi.. the 2 lead characters working together!! kaching!! 9 more epi-s to go!! omg!!! what a fantastic ride so far!!!!

    • 4.1 queencircles

      Seriously. Every actor in this show is pitch perfect and each character is well rounded and awesome. This show is so well paced and, like javabeans and girlfriday talked about with what I think was City hunter, it has the trifecta of good writing, acting, AND directing. It just elevates the show and makes everything awesome.

      fantastic show. I’m loving every minute

  5. hahahaha

    i love youuuuuu!thank you sooo much!cant wait for the next episode recap!

  6. Adele

    HeadsNo2, you sure are a very talented writer. Thank you so much for your hard work!
    Watching a Korean drama raw without english subtitles is the first time it ever happened in my life (after watching what felt like millions of Kdramas).
    That proves just how crazy I am about this drama, and your recaps here helped me understand what’s going on before the subs are ready. I swear I’m gonna learn Korean one day to be able to watch dramas without having to wait for it to be subbed πŸ™‚
    I have checked more than 10 times for updates on this site just today alone, waiting for Ep.15 recap.
    So thanks again, I’m sure other die-hard TWDR fans feel the same way I do about your work.

    • 6.1 dramabliss

      HeadsNo2, exactly same sentiments as Adele’s here. You are just daebak!

      And this drama continues to rock. Pitch perfect, indeed!

      Like Adele, I am about to embark on learning the Hangul. And Korean along with it.

      Right now, I am making an iMovie on the Hangul Project based on TWDR. I intend to use the movie as a class resource. My class has a unit on the development of writing systems, where it emphasizes how the invention of the alphabet and letter-sound systems, as compared to logographic writing, paved the way for mass literacy, and many other wonderful things besides. And this very idea is beautifully illustrated by this drama through the development of Hangul.

      My dilemma is how to pare my movie to the length of a documentary rather than a feature movie. I already have 30 minutes worth, with just relevant segments from Episodes 10-14. I expect this to double with subsequent episodes. The details provided by the drama, even without the extraneous dramatic elements of the narrative, are just too good to pass up. It will break my heart to edit some out.

      Anyways, there’s not just enough praises to heap on TWDR. And to you, HeadsNo2 for the wonderful fast recaps.

      Thanks, too, to all the bloggers here for their insightful comments.

      • 6.1.1 Phyllis

        I showed the Korean alphabet to my nine year old niece and nine year old grandchild and they were writing the syllables equivalent to the sounds of their names within a few minutes. It is surprisingly easy to understand and use. You probably already know this, but it is considered the most scientific alphabet in the world.

        Sounds like an interesting project you are undertaking. It is encouraging to me to note all the intelligent people who watch Korean dramas!!! I know only a handful of people who watch them.

        Of course the people who write and recap on this site are so very talented and super intelligent as well.

        • dramabliss

          Phyllis, kamsa hamnida for your endorsement.

          I am amazed at the demographics of bloggers in Dramabeans. They are not only global in reach, they are very diverse in age, in profession, etc. But one this is even more awesome–that they are one in their love for kdramas.

          One reason for my continued interest in and fascination for kdramas is the level of discourse that occurs in DB. I feel a close affinity to everyone here. And so love the interaction that happens. I think it is mainly because Javabeans, Girlfriday, Samsooki, HeadsNo2 and all the other contributing writers have set high the bar of excellence (in writing, in commentary, in language, etc.) that we are inspired and constrained to do so as well.

          • gominam

            yup…I agree….

            thanks a lot for the wonderful recaps…

      • 6.1.2 anais

        Dramabliss, daebak! What a cool project. You’ll want to save a lot of time for segments from Episode 16. It contains a lot of great sequences very relevant to your project.

  7. poyi


  8. sarah

    Thank you. I immensely enjoyed reading your recap. Keep up the great work!

  9. dany

    Great, thanks! I didn’t have time to see the two episodes this week but I am off to see them now. Have a nice weekend Tree with Deep Roots’ lovers!

  10. 10 Ani

    Awesome episode. I really didn’t know Hangul only had that few letters in it. I always thought it might be along the lines of the Chinese characters, but now I see why it was so important to have Hangul. It’s like Martin Luther all over again with writing the Bible in a language that people can read instead of Latin. Of course Sejong and Hangul happened before Luther was even born. But I guess great minds think alike.

    I really wonder what Hidden Root will be up to now. Team Hangul still have to work on releasing the alphabet, but what if we end up losing steam? I sure hope it’s not another round of talking around the table without actually doing something from the Root Team because that’s getting old. Full steam ahead guys!

    • 10.1 Phyllis

      I am impressed by the fact you mention Martin Luther. They were not so far apart in birth. It makes me wonder how much one part of the world knew about the other at this time in history.

      It is interesting to realize that King Sejong was so ahead of his time. He lived before the Renaissance, but he could be called a “Renaissance Man” for sure. The creation of the alphabet was a revolutionary idea, I guess. Other cultures had their own language and alphabet, though. He is also credited with advancements in science, technology, agriculture, and literature to name a few. The site on Wikipedia which describes him and his accomplishments is telling of his brilliance and genius. I think it is interesting that the songs he wrote “Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven” has a song entitled, “A Tree With Deep Roots” which was written to represent one of the ancestors of the Joseon dynasty.

    • 10.2 dramabliss

      Another interesting historical tidbit is that it is about the same period of the Hangul development when Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type.

      From what is shown in the drama (e.g., the letter blocks) I wonder if Sejong got the idea from Gutenberg? The research shown so far in the drama does not indicate this.

      Did Sejong get the idea independent of Gutenberg’s invention? If so, isn’t it wonderful that such revolutionary thinking was taking place in different parts of the world at about the same time?

      • 10.2.1 Eun Young

        “According to BBC’s site, Renaissance Secrets: What Did Gutenberg Invent? a system of printing from movable metal type was developed in Korea using Chinese characters an entire generation before Gutenberg is thought to have invented it.”


        See also http://www.rightreading.com/printing/gutenberg.asia/gutenberg-asia-1-introduction.htm.

        • anais

          Hm, I thought the technology had been Chinese. How nice to learn it was Korean.

          • jn123

            The first metal movable type was indeed invented in Korea, preceding Gutenberg. But wooden and clay movable started in China significantly earlier, and woodblock print (which in many ways makes more sense for languages with thousands of characters) goes back even farther, to the 7th century or so. Nice overview here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_printing_in_East_Asia

            Love your recaps, HeadsNo2– thank you for your time and work!!

      • 10.2.2 anais

        Gutenberg’s invention was made possible by Chinese printing technology. Sejong way preceded Gutenberg, which didn’t happen until the 1400s.

        European Renaissance began in the 1300s in Southern Europe and lasted through 1600s in Northern Europe. However, the Renaissance is so named because it was perceived as the rebirth after a period of relative stagnation.

        However, you must remember that there was no such stagnation in East Asia. Rather, East Asian cultures were way ahead of their European counterparts in the 1200-1500s.

        While cultural comparisons can be useful for contextualizing what may be unfamiliar, they can lead to false causalities.

        • anais

          Oops, just caught a brain fart on my part. Not Sejong preceding Gutenberg. The printing technology in China preceding Gutenberg.

  11. 11 queencircles

    Is it weird that I find Mu-hyul sexy in this episode? He’s just so fricken badass.

    • 11.1 Lemon

      I know right! He was especially AWESOME in this episode.

    • 11.2 anais

      Muhyul has been sexy from episode 1. So frigging hot. Especially in the young Sejong’s confrontation with Taejong.

      • 11.2.1 queencircles

        Yes. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’ve thought he was sexy this entire time.

  12. 12 Kang ChaeYoon~~

    GWAK! The episodes this week were SUPER-COOL! I just finished watching them and wanted to read your thought on them and POOF! the recap for episode 15 is here! Thank you soooo much!

    You are DaeBak!

    I’m so glad they showed how powerful Hangul is. It reminds me of that time when I learnt it all in 2 hours. Waah~~ I was seriously so amazed then, that I could write sentences and words in korean so fast! Alas, my grasp on the language is still hopeless. So is my attempt to learn all those hiragana and katakana… …

    So I was really glad that they showed just how simple Hangul really is, that they really showed that Hangul is the BIG DEAL it is.

    And so for giving us this recap, YOU ARE ALSO SUCH A BIG DEAL! Thank you!

  13. 13 mskololia

    Thanks HeadsNo2.

    “Again, wow. Team Sejong for the win!”

    The scenes with Sejong in the prison cell and Chae-yoon throwing SY over his shoulder and learning how to write using the new letters….priceless. Prince Gwangpyeong upped his game in this epi too.


  14. 14 Lemon

    Thanks for this recap!

    I just watched episodes 15 and 16, so they’re still fresh in my memory. But HELL YEAH episode 15 was da bomb!

    I couldn’t sit still since I was basically jumping up and down with all the suspense. That’s what I love about this show: you thing someone has the upper hand, but the next second they don’t; and this power play switches around so fast that you can barely absorb what’s happening and can only stay glued to the screen.

    Everyone is so smart in this episode. From Chaeyoon to Soyi to Prince Gwangpyeong to Muhyul. And King Sejong of course- this man has my heart. πŸ™‚

    Can’t wait to see Sejong defeat Hidden Root slowly but surely. Those suckers are clearly using the wrong method to achieve their agenda. I used to adore Ga Ri On so much, but not I just want to punch his face whenever he comes onscreen. He’s such a delicious villain to hate! I love this show.

    • 14.1 Lemon

      Oh, I forgot to say this: I LOVE the ending to this episode. It’s so wonderful that Chaeyoon and the King (well, mostly Chaeyoon) have resolved their issues with each other and are working on the same team now. This means that they’re totally gonna kick Hidden Root’s ass. πŸ˜‰

  15. 15 crazedlu

    oohh. i’ve been clicking in and out of these recaps, but this was the first episode i was amazed at. yeah, like you said, not too much with cliffhangers and action, but everything that went down between the three and hangul was awesome. liked iitt.

  16. 16 doozy

    Thanks for recapping this drama and thereby giving it the attention it deserves!

    “I thought it would be near impossible for Chae-yoon to move past his thoughts of vengeance – and even if he did, actual acceptance is a whole other matter entirely. Yet I find myself buying everything, with nothing being too out of bounds.”

    Agree. I kinda figured earlier that Chae-yoon would end up working for the King but wasn’t entirely sure on how the writers would go about doing that without making it seem manufactured and inconsistent with the character’s personality and beliefs. And boy, was I thoroughly satisfied with the way things turned out in this episode. Like you said, the plot development and resolution of Chae-yoon’s revenge plan were believable and I was glad that Chae-yoon’s able to be at peace with himself without needing to throw away his identity as Dol-bok. Also love the bit about him asking the King to remember his father Suk-sam’s name because that is immensely more meaningful than if Chae-yoon were to carry on with his original revenge plan.

    I have to say, Tree took me by surprise with each episode. I wasn’t planning on watching this show and furthermore, didn’t expect to like it this much, although it did take me 14 episodes to get fully on board the Dol-bok/Chae-yoon train. The tight-plotting, the suspense and action literally got my heart racing and me sitting on the edge of my seat. And the acting.. I’m constantly wowed by this cast. I’m not a fan of Jang Hyuk but this may be the first drama of his that I finish.

  17. 17 Cindy

    I usually turn away from historical dramas but this drama is fantastic. The plot and actors/actresses are simply amazing. Jang Hyuk is such a great actor. I can feel his pain over his father’s wrongful death and his frustration over living for nothing. Amazing indeed!

    Can’t wait for Episode 16’s post, especially since I was too impatient to wait for subs and watched it without wholeheartedly understanding it!

  18. 18 fan

    Thank you so much for wonderful recap again! I loved this ep. I was somewhat worried because I heard that they ran out of (pre-written) script and it will be like live-filming from this ep and on.

    • 18.1 HeadsNo2

      Yeek, that’s the worst news I could have ever heard. Could you provide a link to where this has been said?

      • 18.1.1 fan


        somewhere from dcinside TWDR gallery. Let’s not think about it though~

      • 18.1.2 kristi

        They haven’t run out of scripts. By last weekend (Nov 26-27), they already had in hand the script for ep. 20. That’s been confirmed by one of the actors (Han Sang-Jin, who plays Shim Jong-Soo) on DC Gallery, and a fan who attended Han Seok-Kyu’s fan meeting over the weekend (his manager was seen holding the script for ep. 20).

  19. 19 Revy

    Thanks for the great recap. Man i got to say that scene with King & Pyung had me captivated. That was so damn powerful.
    Also why do i have a feeling that Pyung might change sides.

    • 19.1 sesuatu

      the idea of pyung changing sides is awesome! i will wholeheartedly wait for that from now on

    • 19.2 anais

      I want the Butcher’s Assistant to switch sides. He’s gotta!

    • 19.3 kbap

      That would be awesome, honestly. I just like him a lot… (I am not shallow…OK maybe I am. :P) I will wait till that idea becomes true…hopefully πŸ˜‰

  20. 20 AuntieMame

    “It’s been interesting to see the checks and balances system come into play these recent episodes, and even more interesting that for the first time in my life I can feel myself siding against a checks and balances system because it would have stopped the promulgation of Hangul. ”

    The problem may not lie with the ‘check and balance’ system, as much as the attitude within those powers. Check and balance works perfectly if everyone involved was fair, objective and makes decisions based on the common good. Unfortunately, people being people . . .

    While detractors are necessary to generate useful dialog in problem solving, their objections must be based on clinical and honest evaluations. Not lame excuses, such as it will upset the Confucian hierarchy or it’s never been done or it’ll upset the peace of the country.

    And, my response to those lame excuses:
    Just imagine the world now if someone had said that to the invention of the ‘wheel’ or the discovery of ‘fire’ .

    Thank you so much for a great recap.

    P.S. Correction to ‘cow-tow’. It’s usually spelled ‘kow-tow’, phonetically and literally from the Chinese language for bowing. But, also to mean a subservient obedience, in a secondary context.

    • 20.1 anais

      In absolute agreement re: checks and balances.

      Unfortunately, the sad reality of Joseon history seems to be that those who most needed to be checked and balanced were the sadaebu, not the king. If anything, the kings and especially good kings seem to have been much more vested in the commoners’ welfare, with the king’s ability to improve the commoners’ lot hampered by an aristocracy much more interested in keeping Joseon its cash cow.

  21. 21 bashful

    Thanks HeadsNo2 for yet another well-written recap. πŸ™‚

    I too find the last scene of this episode touching. Chae-Yoon could have asked for much more from the King in exchange for his loyal service. Instead what he asked was for his father, that his father’s sacrifice will not be forgotten. Very touching indeed.

    The first sequence of scenes were also moving: When So-Yi asked why Chae-Yoon came back to see So-Yi if Chae-Yoon claimed he can live without So-Yi, I thought Jang Hyuk’s acting was brilliant. Then in the same sequence of scenes, the Prince’s staunch defense and belief on his father the King was equally superb and and was made more superb in the later scenes when the King echoed the same willingness to sacrifice his own son in order to implement the new letters for the good of his people.

    This doing something for the good of the people, the nation, regardless of the cost, makes me reflect: who among the recent nation leaders (living or not) has truly done something tangible that uplifted or improved the lives of their people, their nations. Frequently, I read, hear, or see on TV news about leaders being caught up in scandals, never ending political debate, and international disputes, or leaders committing corruption, oppression, bribery, dictatorial rule, etc. While we can say today’s world have much more challenges than during the reign of King Sejong, wouldn’t it be nice if some of today’s nation’s leaders take a page from King Sejong’s book on how to really be a good leader?
    I realize it is easier said than done. But if King Sejong had done it, why not others?…Sigh…

    Looking forward to the recap of Ep 16! πŸ™‚

    • 21.1 anais

      Well, nowadays, leaders of many nations are elected. They’re subject to a popularity vote of competing interest groups with political and financial muscle, a populace which often votes against its self-interest, etc. To some degree, Sejong’s monarchical power did enable him to push through an agenda that would not have been possible had he been a leader of a democratic republic.

  22. 22 laya

    Thanks so much for the recap!

  23. 23 melonhead

    I love how sweet So-yi and Chae-yoon are together. She knows him so well and is a match for his brains too. I just smirked at how awesome So-yi is that she isn’t a typical drama heroine who would walk away broken hearted when Chae-yoon was trying to distance himself by saying he could live without her, but instead she asked in response “Then why did you come?”

    Gargh. So cute. And how hectic was Han Suk kyu’s acting in that scene with Pyung?

  24. 24 Suzi Q

    This episode is superb! I keep wondering how each one gets better and better.

    After watching so many kdramas, I’m trying to learn Hangeul at the same time as I’m watching TWDR.Must be fate.

    Really enjoy reading your insightful recaps. Keep up the great work!

  25. 25 jessybee

    I tried out writing hangul for ‘kamsa habnida’ based on the theory from TWDR and i got it right at the first time!!

    AMAZING! thats just so cool!

    go team Sejong! waiting for recap episode 16 ^^

    kamsa hamnida Heads2no

  26. 26 Jomo

    Thank you for the recap! I am very late for this discussion!

    This is the type of show I need to watch uninterrupted, so much going on in every scene with every part of the screen.
    Turns out Sunday morning is that time.

    I did love the acting of final reunion scene, but there was one scene before that that blew me away.

    The king’s first advisor (The father from My Princess and Dream High) is running down the situation (very nicely for the audience, I might add.) He is giving the “We don’t negotiate with terrorists…Let’s just buy some time…” speech. While we see his face from time to time, the camera is focused on the wordless King. His reaction to each part of the advice is A-MA-ZING! i watched it five times in a row. The repercussions of each fact ebb and flow across his face until he finally speaks: “I want to be alone for a second.” That is when we really see what he’s thinking.

    I love this show!

  27. 27 triniti

    this drama is just amazing!! every episode is better than the previous one, and when I think they’ve hit the limit to awesomeness, they just blow me away all over again!!!!!

    the pacing is brilliant!! the way the story swerves and changes is just (im running out of words here) wonderful!! i can only imagine how many more turns there are gonna be before the drama is over.

    I think the biggest earthquake in this drama is going to be the reveal of GaRion as JungKijoon. that one’s gonna be epic, considering how much everyone trusts him like completely. like at that scene where ChaeYoon finds him and brings him to the prince……that annoyed me to no end.

    And i don’t know about anyone else, but i absolutely loooooove Pyung!! Anyone else?? His character wasn’t made to have much depth, but though it isn’t revealed to us in the major plot points, we can see that there are many layers to this guy, and he keeps us wondering, to what extent is his loyalty to MilBon?? or maybe im gushing becasue this guy is pure hotness and has a chocolate voice??


  28. 28 MsB

    Have I not enough that Jang Hyuk is a great actor!! Period!!! I already knew it but this just solidifies it!! What a great episode!

  29. 29 Lilian

    wow! never thought that debates could be that interesting! I wished school was that fun =) I loved the scene where he realised there were only 28 characters!! awesome…also the scene where the king confronts Pyung and when he finally meets his son again =)

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