Drama Recaps
Gaksital: Episode 2
by | May 31, 2012 | 158 Comments

LOVE. This show’s got the goods, and then some—badass action, gripping intrigue, dark and layered characterization, and a style straight out of my favorite era of Hollywood cinema. It’s Bogart-meets-Batman, set in the political wasps’ nest of the occupation era. Be still my heart.


Kang-to goes to his car late at night, when someone dressed as Gaksital cocks a gun right at his head. He freezes.

And then, from a rooftop high above them, the real Gaksital launches a pellet at the gunman, knocking him down. Kang-to uses that split-second opportunity to attack, and after losing the gun in the fight, the assassin runs off.

He returns to Kimura Kenji, reporting that the assassination attempt went awry because of Gaksital. Well then maybe you shouldn’t go around impersonating other people’s carefully-planned superhero personas then!

But here’s where the villains have something to gain from the encounter: Why would Gaksital protect Lee Kang-to? Kenji immediately jumps to the conclusion that this secret partnership is why Kang-to has risen in the ranks. And not because he’s better than you, of course.

The nefarious organization Kishokai (the slashes made by Gaksital in the last episode mark “Ki,” for this name) meets to discuss their precarious situation—already two of their members are dead and Gaksital remains at large. At this rate, he’ll lead the people in a rebellion.

As expected, the group consists of the corrupt heads of every branch of society (banks, newspapers, law enforcement) and Kimura Taro is the boss. (Also worth noting: they all conspicuously wear the same ring.)

Kenji interrupts the meeting to report to Dad, and gets a gruff, “Do I have to tell you what to do?!” Sheesh, I know you’re evil, but damn, he just wants your approval! His cohorts worry, but Kimura tells them it’s taken thirty years to get where they are today, and he won’t cave to a masked avenger. They toast.

Kang-to runs out into the street still chasing his attacker, who’s long disappeared. He stops to look down at the gun in his hand—it’s an expensive one and a particular make, which gives him pause.

But before he can get any further, Kenji comes up (in a sidecar, pffft) and has Kang-to surrounded by officers. He’s ordered to lower his weapon, and when he argues, Kenji shoots it out of his hand. Yikes.

He gets hauled off to the station, kicking and screaming. Opening credits.

They throw Kang-to into an interrogation room, cuffed and battered. Then Kenji walks in and beats the living crap out of him with a baton, rage lighting up his eyes. Kang-to screams that he is a police officer, but Kenji just screams back, asking how long he thought he could fool them all.

He finally stops beating him (ohthankgod) and presents him with the charge—conspiring with Gaksital AND Damsari. Hahaha, it cracks me up that Kenji jumps to this conclusion: Kang-to could never have caught Damsari on his own (because Kenji failed, natch) so they staged his capture and his rescue mid-trial.

Kang-to in turn laughs at Kenji like he’s a simpleton. He points out some glaring inconsistencies (rubbing salt in the wound by calling the puppetmaster a novice) – the “Gaksital” that attacked him used a gun, which the real Gaksital has never done, and a gun specifically licensed to police officers at that.

“If you’re going to put on a show, do it right!” Dayum. I love that he’s a smartypants. Kenji responds by beating him to a pulp. AGAIN.

Circus boss Jo brings Dan a letter from her dad, saying that he escaped safely and will continue to fight. He asks her to be strong until the day they can be together.

The circus family interrupts and the curly-haired ajumma from the opening, Oh Dong-nyun, says that there might be a thief among them, because her chamber pot has gone missing. Shin Nan-da guesses that she either broke it with her ass, or it ran away to greener (and firmer) pastures. HA.

But then we see Sun-hwa carrying said pot furtively down the hall. She brings it to Shunji, who thanks her for yet another donation for his charity project (collecting household items). Heh, so she steals from the circus family and donates to Shunji because she has a crush? So cute.

She runs out and then Shunji notices that there’s something inside the pot. Eeew, did she bring it after use? Don’t open it! He opens it. But it’s not what we think—he finds Dan’s knife inside, which he recognizes immediately.

Dan realizes that her knife is missing, and starts to panic. Feeling guilty, Sun-hwa cops to taking it and counters that she’ll buy her a new one, much better than that old thing. Dan ends up chasing her down the road screaming for her knife back.

At the same time, Shunji is riding his bicycle towards them, and Sun-hwa begs him for a getaway ride. He obliges, but then hearing Dan’s screams of “Give it back! I need it to find the young master!” makes him stop in his tracks. Is this the girl he’s been looking for?

Flashback to thirteen years ago, in Pyongyang. Daddy Kimura comes home to his two sons—Kenji is the obedient one, while Shunji is ever the nanny’s boy. When their nanny collapses coughing up blood, Kenji coldly tosses her belongings out into the street, while Shunji races her to the hospital.

It’s then that he met Dan, who it seems was taken in by an orphanage/hospital run by nuns, hence the habit. She was called Esther then.

Shunji witnesses Esther begging for the doctor to save his nanny’s life, promising to work the rest of her life to pay for the surgery. But she gets turned down. He thanks Esther for saving Nanny’s life, but she tells him to wake up—she needs surgery to live.

He starts to cry, but she tells him to get it together and start being useful, because a person dying from lack of money shouldn’t happen. She tells him that all lives are equally precious.

That night, he sneaks into his father’s room and steals his samurai sword. Oh crap. No wonder he’s been pissed at you for thirteen years. He sells it for the surgery money, and Esther nurses Nanny back to health.

Dad comes bursting into the hospital room and beats Shunji in a fury, and soon he’s laid up in the hospital bed, casts on his limbs. Aw. But he’s totally blissed out since that just means more time with Esther. So cute. If he were a little older, he’d have been like, Worth it.

Back in the present, Dan and Shunji walk together as they catch up, Sun-hwa pouting at them from afar. He had always thought that Dan might have gone to America with the doctor, but she says she had to stay to meet someone.

He guesses, “The person who gave you that knife?” She wonders how he knows, as if anyone wouldn’t notice her clutching her preciousssss every day. He asks who it is, but gets no response.

Meanwhile Kang-to’s interrogation turns to straight-up torture. He gets strung up and whipped, as Kenji watches with a sadistic smile. Kang-to shoots daggers from his eyes, as the blood pours down his face.

Mom and Kang-san prepare for Father’s memorial, and she sighs, heartbroken that Kang-to forgot this day. Kang-san offers to go get Little Bro, since he’s probably just at Shunji’s house anyway. He waddles away happily.

Shunji gets dressed to go to the circus, chastising himself for not having gone earlier. Aw, his crush is already breaking my heart. Kang-san bursts in looking for Kang-to, and Shunji promises to stop by the police station to remind him what day it is.

Kang-san looks Shunji up and down, “You look pretty. Are you going to meet a girl?” Haha, I love that trademark line of his, any time someone else is dressed up. This time he adds, “That girl… is her butt big?” HAHAHA. Wut?

Shunji promises to send Kang-to home, and Hyung says he misses Kang-to and hasn’t seen him for days and days… “But… that girl… is her chest big too?” Pffft. Shunji ushers him out with embarrassed laughter.

Kang-to lies in a jail cell, beaten to a lifeless pulp. His partner/sidekick Abe comes running up in a panic, and at the sight of a familiar face, Kang-to scrambles to get up. He clutches the bars, pleading for Abe to get him out of here.

But Kenji’s right-hand man is standing guard, and laughs in their faces. Abe defends Kang-to, and gets beaten for his trouble. Kang-to screams for them to stop, fuming impotently as Abe gets dragged away.

Shunji rides his bike toward the police station, grinning from ear to ear, bouquet of flowers prepared for Dan. But he arrives at the station just as Abe is being thrown out on his ass. He asks in a panic what’s going on.

Inside, Kenji reads Kang-to the charges that he’s up against, and Kang-to just smirks, leaning back in his jail cell. I love that even in this scenario, Kang-to’s more confident than Kenji.

He comes up to the bars to say that they ought to take a look at something curious he found. He reaches a hand in his pocket. Pause for effect.

He describes the picture he found in the judge’s office—the one of Police Chief Kimura and Judge Choi, wearing the same outfit, with the same initial. What could it mean? How close were they? He smiles devilishly.

Kenji starts to panic and tells his minion to go in there and get it. Still with his hand in his pocket, Kang-to tells Kenji to come get it himself. “Are you scared? Afraid you might die?” Fish? Meet bait.

Kenji demands the door be opened at once, and goes in there with his gun drawn. Kang-to fidgets in his pocket long enough to turn Kenji’s gaze, and then attacks.

He disarms Kenji with a few swift moves, cornering him in a rage. The minions return with guns, but by then Kang-to has taken Kenji as hostage. Nice.

He tells them to back the hell up, pistol pressed up against Kenji’s temple. They inch backward.

At the same time, the alarm sounds and more officers run up. Shunji follows. He comes up to find Kang-to holding his hyung at gunpoint, surrounded by officers.

Shunji pleads with everyone to stop, and stands between Kang-to and the guns. He announces that he is Chief Kimura’s son, and everyone needs to put their guns down before someone gets hurt.

He urges Kang-to to put down his gun too, but Kang-to growls that this is the only way to clear his name. Both Kang-to and Kenji tell Shunji to stay out of it, which is cute even in this very tense moment.

Kenji uses his brother’s interruption to break free from Kang-to’s grasp, and on instinct, Shunji fights off the officers headed for Kang-to. He buys his friend a moment, and Kang-to screams as he launches himself into the window at full force. Damn.

He goes crashing through. He falls two stories and tumbles to the ground, and Kenji comes racing to the window with a gun at the ready. He has enough time to aim right at Kang-to while he’s still on the ground…


Kang-to looks up… just in time to see Shunji grab his brother’s hands and pull them up to the sky so he can’t shoot. The friends lock eyes for a moment, and then Kang-to runs off.

Inside, the brothers struggle and then Kenji socks his brother in the face for his interference, declaring that he has put a blade to his and Father’s throats in doing this. Shunji insists that Kang-to is a patriot—how can anyone accuse him of being on the same side as Gasital?

He asks if Father knows what Hyung is doing, but then realizes that of course he does: “You would never act without his orders. Because you are Father’s puppet!”

Kenji calls Dad and then totally tattles on Little Bro. You weasel! Don’t you guys have a bro code? Shunji gapes in disbelief, and then Kenji pointedly asks Father what they should do with Lee Kang-to. He turns the receiver to Shunji so he can hear Father say the words: “Kill him.”

He orders his officers to go after Kang-to, and then puts Shunji in handcuffs for aiding and abetting a fugitive.

Kimura Taro meets with a member of Kishokai, Woo Byung-joon, who worries that there might be someone else out there who knows of their organization. He recalls that thirteen years ago, there was a man, LEE SUN (Kang-to and Kang-san’s father), who knew of their existence but was reportedly killed by Justice Choi. But what if he wasn’t?

Kimura recalls that according to Choi, he killed Lee Sun by his own sword. Flashback shows the battle according to Choi’s account. Woo wonders if maybe someone survived that battle—if not Lee Sun himself, then someone who knew of their existence. What if this is Gaksital?

Elsewhere, a man leaps onto a roof. (We’re not told yet, but this is BAEK GUN.) He looks down at Kang-to’s mother, and then when she steps away, he somersaults down to the ground.

He’s here to pay his respects to Lee Sun. He bows down to the ground, and then disappears before Mom comes back. She notices a cup of liquor left on the table and looks around, but no one is there.

Police affairs director Kono Koji gets a call from Chief Kimura, who tells him that they’ve found evidence that Lee Kang-to is in league with Gaksital. Kono fumes, but Kimura tells him smugly that he’ll present the evidence tomorrow. Oh, with a whole night of guys running around trying to kill him in the meantime? Gee, that’s not transparent or anything.

Kono is clearly opposed to Kimura, but it looks like his hands are tied at the moment. Kono hangs up in a rage, and then Kang-to bursts through his door, bloodied and gasping for breath.

Sometime later, Kimura walks down the hall dressed in uniform. He braces himself and opens the door to Kono’s office, where Kang-to is standing by his side, back in his uniform. Nice.

Kimura and Kang-to exchange hostile looks and then Kimura sits down tensely. Kono laughs at the so-called evidence against Kang-to, while Kimura challenges Kang-to’s devotion to a nation that turned his brother into an idiot.

Kono counters with the evidence against the assassin and the police-issue gun, but Kimura already has an answer at the ready: they’ve captured him. Both Kono and Kang-to look at each other in surprise.

The assassin gets dragged in, and Kang-to recognizes him as a thug he’s put away on more than one occasion. Kenji says the guy had beef with Kang-to, and so attacked him dressed as Gaksital. Well that makes no sense at all.

But the point is that in ‘fessing up to the attempted killing, logic behind costuming be damned, the would-be assassin gets to testify that he saw it with his own two eyes—the real Gaksital, saving Kang-to’s life.

Kimura urges Kono to see the cold hard facts. He even put his own son in jail for aiding Kang-to’s escape. That just makes Kono chuckle, “Do you have a son like that? I’d like to meet him.”

So Shunji gets brought out from his cell. Kono asks why he helped Kang-to, and he eyes Dad and Hyung warily… and then answers truthfully that Kang-to is someone who gets called a traitor by his own people because of his loyalty to the new regime. That such a man would be on the same side as Gaksital makes no sense.

He says that he couldn’t stand by as Kang-to got framed. “If Lee Kang-to were to be killed by the national police simply because he is of Joseon descent, who would be loyal to such a government from that point on?”

Kang-to lets out a sigh of relief, and Kono claps, declaring his surprise that Kimura has such a respectable son. HA. Such a backhanded insult at Kenji.

Kimura asks what he plans to do, and Kono says that it’s not enough evidence to convict Kang-to. He’ll let Gaksital’s capture speak for itself. Kimura counters that he’ll have to stand by that—if Kang-to cannot capture Gaksital, it means they’re in cahoots.

That is totally illogical, but obviously, that’s the point in trying to back them into a corner. Kono agrees, and tells Kang-to to use whatever means necessary to capture Gaksital. Kang-to swears to capture him and uncover the truth behind the fake Gaksital as well. Kimura father and son sweat a little.

The search is on. The first order of business: wanted posters all over town, with Dan’s face on them. A young woman (GYE-SOON) stops to look at the flyer, eyeing the reward money, and then gasps to realize that she recognizes the face—it’s Dan.

As they do laundry, Dan tells Sun-hwa to stop pouting, pinky-swearing that she and Shunji aren’t romantically involved. Sun-hwa finally believes her and perks up.

She asks if Dan has ever gotten a good look at Gaksital’s face, but she says no—he swooshes in, drops her off, then disappears. No one ever said being Lois Lane was a good gig. Sun-hwa asks if she’s ever even said thank you, and Dan realizes she hasn’t.

Meanwhile, Kang-to tells Abe that they’ll use the wanted poster girl as bait to lure Gaksital. He’s saved her twice; he’ll surely come for her again. Urg, stop being evil! And then on cue, his phone rings. It’s Gye-soon, calling about the girl in the posters. Oh noes.

Dan takes a leisurely soak in the tub, thinking back to Gaksital’s heroic rescue and swooning all over again.

Kang-to arrives at the dormitory where the circus troop is staying, and bursts in with the wanted notice. Dong-nyun tries to warn Dan, but Kang-to finds her right away. That devilish smile of his, damn.

She runs back into the washroom and jumps out the window, hopping from roof to roof down to the ground. But she cringes as she stands up…

The yard is surrounded by cops, and they have her covered on all sides with guns. Kang-to peers down from the window and smiles. Her knife is hanging on the wall just behind him. Did he see it? Did he not? Imma go with not.

Shunji drinks alone at the club in the middle of the afternoon. Not a good sign. But you totally get a free pass, seeing has how your father and brother are EEEEEVIL. Poor buddy.

Dan is bloodied, having been strung up and tortured. What?! Lee Kang-to! Did you do this to her? Holy crap!

He saunters into the room, having charged his underlings to do the dirty work, and Abe says she won’t talk about Gaksital or Damsari. Kang-to says of course she won’t, but that’s okay, since Gaksital won’t leave her be. He’ll come charging in to save her.

Dan gets fired up at that, realizing that she’s being used as bait. She spits in his eye. Again. Man, I love how feisty she is.

He wipes the spit from his face with a sigh and then grabs her by the throat, leaning in close. He glares with that menacing smile. Voice trembling, “Why? Are you afraid? Because Gaksital might get caught? Are you two in love?

He notes her reaction. He sneers, “Bingo,” and orders her hauled outside.

He then literally has her marched through the streets in a big procession, to draw attention. His men kick out street vendors and take over a town square, and they place her in the center, with snipers at the ready from every side.

The townspeople gather, and Kang-san appears in the crowd, distracted by his pinwheel.

From atop his horse, Kang-to charges Dan with all of her crimes against the government.

And then Gaksital appears on a rooftop. Woot! He takes out one sniper, and then another.

All this goes unnoticed by Kang-to, who declares that everyone should witness what happens to traitors, and orders Dan to be executed. The firing squad lines up. He orders them to raise their guns.

Dan closes her eyes and braces herself. Kang-to pauses between each order, waiting for Gaksital to show himself. He looks up, and then sees that none of his snipers are at their positions. One of them comes tumbling down from the roof.

They look back and forth, and then Gaksital comes leaping down from a rooftop behind them. So badass. The crowd cheers.

He draws them away from the square. Kang-to orders Abe to guard Dan and takes off after him, though a townsperson makes sure to throw obstacles in his path.

Gaksital loops back around, and then comes bounding up on his horse, kicking Abe away easily, and swooping Dan onto his horse.

Kang-to comes running after them, and as the officers charge, the townspeople rush to pull their carts in the way. I just love the people rallying to Gaksital’s defense.

Kang-to leaps over the carts and shoots furiously at Gaksital and Dan, but they manage to ride away unscathed. Kang-to lets out a guttural screeeeeeam of frustration. How can it be so satisfying to watch the hero fail?

Gaksital drops Dan off again in the woods, and this time she grabs his arm when he turns to go. She thanks him and asks why time and again, he puts himself in danger to save her.

She tells him her name and asks for his, but he says nothing. He pulls his arm out of her grasp, letting his fingers touch hers for just a moment.

And then he rides off.

Kang-to gets torn a new one for letting Gaksital slip through his fingers yet again. Now even Kono asks if he’s really not in league with him. Kang-to swears that he’s not and asks for one more chance.

Gaksital stops at a tree on top of a hill. He raises a hand to his mask, and pulls it from his face…

It’s Kang-san, wearing a grave expression on his face.

Kang-to: “Without fail, I will capture Gaksital by my own hand!”


Man, I SO LOVE that we start the series with the hero as the villain. So good. So good. I mean, even when I spend half the episode on his side when he’s framed, I’m back to hating him when he ruthlessly tortures Dan and uses her to catch Gaksital. I love you! No, I hate you with the fire of a thousand suns! Aaaaaaah! Kang-to really pushes that fine line an anti-hero can walk before we lose all faith in him completely, which sets up one really, really satisfying character arc.

I actually didn’t expect the Hyung-as-Gaksital vs. Kang-to war to play out as a long-term story arc (I thought we’d get a cursory battle and then a quick dramatic reversal) but I’m so excited to see that the story is taking its time with Kang-to’s transformation. It’s all the more riveting to watch him be the bad guy, knowing that he’s fighting against the one person he loves unconditionally. It doesn’t get any better than pitting brother against brother, with Kang-to so squarely in the dark, and yet so sure that he’s in the right.

Now that Kang-san has been revealed as Gaksital, it raises a mountain of questions. By the by, how hardcore is it that the entire Village Idiot persona is a cover for being a superhero? That’s no Clark Kenting with a pair of damned glasses, I’ll tell you that. It’s both epically heroic and yet also deeply hurtful, since Kang-to has no idea that his brother is actually not brain-damaged at all. His entire motivation for letting people call him a traitor is to provide for his family and fix Hyung! Waaaah. I know that Gaksital lives for a higher purpose, but what of the family and the little brother in the wake of it all? You can see why Kang-to chose to live differently from his father, who did the same and sacrificed his life for the cause… leaving them abandoned.

Is Gaksital a figure created by the movement and fulfilled by many (like Damsari and Baek Gun)? Or is Kang-san Gaksital alone? Is he doing this on Father’s orders? Is Father still alive? (Because seriously, if Hyung can dupe his family into thinking he’s an idiot, how hard would it be for Father to let them think he’s dead?) Is it actually Kang-san who gave Dan the knife? I think it’s Kang-to anyway, but clearly Kang-san has some connection to her, if he keeps saving her time and again. Will Kang-to change his tune when faced with the truth, or will each brother stand his ground and shed the other’s blood??

GAH. I love that this show leaves me with more questions than answers. I just want MOAR. Is it too early to ask for a fifty-episode extension?


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158 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Noonajumma

    I am SO in for this ride. Thanks for the recap!

  2. c_gunawan541

    I’m so so pleasantly surprised by how far the writers made Kang To such a bad guy to even torture Mok Dan, our female lead. Boy, he’s gonna regret it in the future.
    They got a really interesting dynamic, definitely not romantic yet but i find myself finding Shunji’s crush on Mok Dan super cute.

    • 2.1 July

      I too am surprised with the level of complexity Kang To’s character is given. Like girlfriday, I find myself rooting for him one moment and cursing him the next. Torturing Dan?! Really? I mean I kind of understand since he sees her as been involved with the enemy, essentially a terrorist, but damn. Yet at the same time, this will all make his redeeming moments even more powerful.

      I already feel bad for Shunji. He is so cute and his crush on Dan is adorable. I hope he doesn’t end up dying, but I forsee a sacrifice in the future, either to save corrupt Dad or best-friend-soon-to-be-enemy Kang To (because isn’t that how it usually ends with the pitiful male second lead in a historical drama?)

    • 2.2 Jessica

      Was it just me or did Dan’s “injuries” not match with her blood?

      I mean, with the amount of blood we see, it seems like she should have had more bruises!

      • 2.2.1 July

        Nope, I noticed that too. I thought where are the cuts and bruises? I had a similar reaction to when Kang To was beaten to a pulp by Shinju’s brother. How he was still able to get up and run around without so much as a limp here and there, I just don’t know. But I just suspend belief in those type of scenes just like I do with Hollywood movies that have the leads get up like nothing after a beat down while, for the most part, the bad guy goes down with one hit.

        • kyla

          Just is what i’m thinking. How can Kang To still stand up and fight with all the beatings he got. The beatings he got could make someone cripple or paralyze for life or even die but I’m quite surprised that Kang To only got tiny bruises and his face and body not swollen at all. And what about those high jumps their doing as if they have supernatural powers to jump without having no injuries at all.

          I really want to like this drama but this is so unrealistic and quite impossible so I don’t know if I’ll continue to watch this.

          • far

            erm, well….he does get beaten up a lot on his body. and after that beat-up scene, he wears long sleeves only. so we didnt get to see his beaten up body, all the bruises and cuts n all.

            also, he needs to escape when he attempts to lure Kenji into the cell. he cant be showing how painful he is when it’s his only chance of escape. and his adrenaline must have been high at the moment, which keeps his mind away from the pain and to focus on the main task at hand: ESCAPE.

            he must also have endured a lot of beating. a man’s pride is to not show their weakness. pity if u didnt continue to watch this drama just coz of this simple issue.

    • 2.3 Vira

      Uri female lead is hurt by the male actor.
      It really remains me so much with what happen to Hang Ah. When Jae Ha shoots her, and then she faints. How hurting it is!

      Kang To should feel the same later. When he finally becomes a good guy he will keep reminding not to let anyone to hurt Mok Dan anymore.

  3. Yushi

    I’m definitely going to check this out this weekend. I dont’ think Dan and Kangto should have a love line ’cause their relationship is pretty messed up. > <

    • 3.1 Yannie

      lol I know what you mean. I hope they change the love lines up too. Give us something totally out of left field.

    • 3.2 missjb

      Until this episode, yes I agree with u….
      Their relationship is pretty mess up… I don’t know How the writers handle their relationship in the future, and bring them to end up together

  4. Sunshine

    whoa i knew the village idiot was not idiot….cant wait for the next ep!

  5. Hagar

    Can you guys answer me!!
    Will you recap AGD or not??????????? coz I really liked your first recap.

    • 5.1 birdscout

      Tsk, tsk. Someone, and by someone I mean Hagar, needs to learn some manners.

      • 5.1.1 Hagar

        omg I don’t even think that this was “manner-less” so I don’t understand your comment…
        I just need to know if they will recap the drama or not what’s so wrong about that?!!!

        • 9to5

          maybe you are just excited, but saying “Can you guys answer me?? Will you recap AGD or not?????????? .. the tone of your comment comes off as really demanding, instead of just appreciative of the fact we get to read Dramabeans recaps because of the recappers hard work. i believe that is what Birdscout means, since there are more respectful ways to word your request.

        • birdscout


          Read the FAQ section and you will find your answer.

      • 5.1.2 jaime

        I understand your message. But still, you sound pretty passive aggressive and manner less yourself.

  6. missjb

    I’m a sucker for anti-hero story when it comes to dark / action / thriller drama… This setup will add more layer to the story if the writers capable of handle it with great ingredients. Bring it on, DRAMA!

  7. Yannie

    OMG perfection at it’s BEST!!! This is such a nice reprieve from the typical kdramas that we so often see.

  8. whimsyful

    I personally am not a fan of the way the action scenes are shot (don’t like slo-mo), but other than that? SO IN.

    I was also surprised Kang-to actually tortured Dan, though it makes sense narrative-wise. Since the romance is inevitable, I really hope he falls for her first.

    But if they do survive and have a happy ending *fingers crossed* , can you imagine the stories they’d tell the kids? “The first few times your mother and I met, she tried to stab me, kicked me in the crotch and spat me in the face, and I hunted her down, had her tortured and almost executed…”

    • 8.1 c_gunawan541

      I LOLed at the story they tell their kids part…. HAHAHAHA
      That just made my day.. i guess their kids will have a confused look in their face.

    • 8.2 ilikemangos

      literally LOLed at this.
      ah, it would take a lifetime to tell their stories.
      I’m already rooting for this couple, despite them being total enemies atm.

  9. crazedlu

    OH. MY. GOSH. I. LOOOOVE THE PREMIIIISSSEE! Gotta tune in! Can’t wait for him to switch sides. Muahahahahhah.

  10. 10 jollyroger

    Damn I’m hooked.

  11. 11 trixicopper

    I will take an anti hero over some generic perfect white bread hero any day of the week and twice on Sunday!

    Bring it show! :) Thanks GF!

    • 11.1 megels7719

      I totally agree with you! I’m so excited that i’m watching a drama were i love then hate then love the male lead!

  12. 12 JenJen

    wah~ loving it :)

  13. 13 chichiri

    After watching both episodes, I must say.. I can’t wait for the coming 1n2d recap. I need to see Joo-won aegyo-ing in exchange for all his evil in this drama!

    • 13.1 Faye

      I have to admit that I’m looking forward to that. Evil Joo-won is so different from Aegyo Joo-won. He’s so child-like in 1n2d that it’s kinda hard to believe he’s so bad ass in Bridal Mask.

      • 13.1.1 Alysanne

        Now that you mention it, it’s gonna be fun to find out what the other 1N2D boys think of Gaksital. Some of them mentioned watching Tae-woong in Equator Man before. It’s great to see them being supportive of each other’s projects. And I can’t wait for the Gaksital-related captions that the crew will eventually have to come up with whenever they refer to Joo-won. LOL

  14. 14 kiongna

    WOW, I’m so in…. thanks again dear GF !

  15. 15 Ivoire

    Thank you, girlfriday!

  16. 16 Brenda

    This show is so intense . . .

    I LOVE IT!!!
    I love Joo Won. No matter which project he chooses, he continually shows growth as an actor.
    Can’t wait for the next episode!!

  17. 17 Anvesha

    I wonder why Hyung never told Kang-to about his principles.. I think somewhere he feels guilty that Kang-to became like that because of him. He is essentially in the wrong side and fighting his Hyung in a misguided goal to cure that said Hyung… Isn’t he going to feel betrayed?

    I’m so damn curious about his transformation!!

    The romantic pairings are also interesting.. So Dan (may be) likes Hyung.. which I find a little weird but it’s more admiration than anything. I’m alps pretty sure the little boy was Kang-to and not Kang-San.

  18. 18 panshel

    That good, huh? I haven’t watched episode 2, yet, but I’m loving the badassery in episode 1. I wonder exactly how many Gaksitals exist. Can’t just be Kang San, can it?

  19. 19 TiaC

    Already this drama is everything I wanted City Hunter to be last year that it never quite lived up to. I like the leading lady more (Na Na could be kick-ass sometimes, but others she was a little too oblivious to danger, and oftentimes fell into the quietly suffering yet perky heroine cliche.) Dan is sweet, yet more assertive and take charge when she needs to be. And the history of the period makes it more believable that such a hero would arise.

    • 19.1 missjb

      So true.. while I loved City Hunter to bits, It still didn’t lived up my expectation that I hope for an action / thriller genre… in Bridal mask, so far they have build up the conflict, the complexity pretty well that I’m looking for a genre like this.. I hope they will keep the quality high..

      I trust the director / writers combo..

      • 19.1.1 Lazy Goose

        I know, right? I wasn’t able to get pass City Hunter’s 4th episode and had to pass forward a lot in the beginning. But THIS drama, oh man. It’s sweeping and addictive! I barely noticed 2 hours have passed. Can Wednesday be here faster?

    • 19.2 Pitch

      I´m already a lot more into this than I ever was into City Hunter. SO MANY LAYERS, GAH!

  20. 20 iDK

    Kang-to being an anti-hero is saving this show. I love that he’s not just being a villain: he’s a big bad with freaking minions to do his business.

    I’m so excited to see how his arc goes, and for Shunji’s too. <3

  21. 21 Arhazivory

    How do I know I’ve fallen in love with this show?
    – I use precious battery life while on a road trip to see if the recaps out.
    – I got shivers looking at the headline pic (real good choice GF)
    – I don’t want to spoil so I barely skim through the recap and read the comments

    From the extended preview, I already knew that hyung was Gaksital. It’s going to hurt like he’ll when our hero figures it out. I still can’t help but be tickled at a villain becoming a hero. He’s doesn’t even hesitate to torture a woman…*shivers* what kinda hero is this???!

    • 21.1 ilikemangos

      Yeah. i can just imagine the epic moment when kang to realizes that his brother was gaksital this whole time… and never brain-dead.
      like girlfriday said, part of the reason he’s working so hard is to help “cure” his older brother.
      betrayal will hit him like a ton of bricks.
      It’s gonna be a rough moment, but i am so looking forward to the dramatic reversals….
      Why do i feel like someone important is gonna die?!

      • 21.1.1 Lazy Goose

        I am speculating that the hyung will die and joo won’s character will take over his hyung’s role as gaksital while remaining “loyal” to the imperialists on the outside. Nobody will know about this so the heroine would still think gaksital as the one who saved her 3 times and heroic and all that. She will continue to treat him like always. Joo won’s character will fall for her through this interaction.

  22. 22 Mena

    Hahahahaha and no GF its not too early, it just gives the production team more time to start writing the episodes and we get more of a great story. Great story so far.

  23. 23 JoAnne

    This show. Is so GOOD. It’s gorgeous, it’s exciting, it’s funny, it’s gonna be heartbreaking…oh, I’m so happy. *does the Joannie dance*

    *remembers that the curtains are open and blushes*

  24. 24 wanderlust

    so cute that you and jb always love the same shows.

    this is shaping up to be so angsty i dont think i can handle it ><

    ps girlfriday, any chance youd weigh in for an episode of queen inhyuns man? the more the merrier!!!

    ..not that im obsessed or anything.

  25. 25 angie602

    Thanks for the recaps!

    Well, I am not surprised that Kang-san is Gaksital. BUT, what will happen if Kang-to will to know about it in the future? He turned into a traitor in everyone else’s eyes so as to earn money to treat Hyung. Only to find that Hyung doesn’t need any treatment in the first place. Poor Kang-to. He doesn’t have to be a ‘traitor’ in the first place at all.
    So, I’m super interested as to how the writers are going to continue with this. :)

    Bridal Mask, FIGHTING!

  26. 26 Beng-Beng

    hahaha, 50 episodes extension? and half of it as Kang-to continues being a villain. He is such a fine actor, and an intelligent one coz he knows how to chose roles, love it!

  27. 27 shl

    Thank you! This is shaping up to be another great show. Ii wish there wasn’t a love line to complicate matters (i am assuming there will be one) as there’s so much going on here already!

  28. 28 Rovi

    Oh my~!!! I just knew from instinct from Ep.1 (pseudo-)mentally-challenged Kang-san is Gakshital after all…ergo, the saving incident…

  29. 29 Stardust

    LOOOOOVE!! Thank you girlfriday! =D It tickles me that Joo won is such a serious kickass character here and his real self ( or the 1N2D variety self ) is quite goofy hehehe Looking forward to mooore!

  30. 30 bee

    thanks!! really liking this drama and also GHOST!! surprisingly REALLYg good too. my wed/thurs are gonna be really busy :)

  31. 31 lenrasoon

    omg your’re right i was totally rooting for Kang To at the beginning then went to hate him again when he started searching and torturing Dan, but yeah i like the fact that he’s a complex character and i’m curious to see how will be his transition as the next Gaksital (i’m sure his hyung will die eventually and my heart’s already breaking).

    Also about Shunji i have a feeling that his character will change greatly just like Kang To but i really hope they continue to be friends.

    anyway i wasn’t surprise with the revelation about who was Gaksital but like GF i wondered if there are more than one person using the mask.

    I can’t wait to watch the next episode :)

    Thank you for the recaps.

  32. 32 yammy

    i’m purely speculating, but i don’t think Kang-to gets together with Dan. I watched some pre-broadcast interviews of the drama and the actors/actresses, and kang-to was paired off with another lady (chae hong joo, who hasn’t come out yet) during the post shooting of the drama. Idk how accurate this is though…I’m personally wanting Kang-to to get together with Dan, because they look amazing together (and have a good chemistry, all that glaring and spitting!). although, I’m a bit queasy about the fact that the actress playing Dan is only a 93er and joo won is a 87er…

    • 32.1 yammy

      nvm, i just did more research, and it seems like kang-to and Dan do get together? maybe not. ahahah oh drama, you are already confusing me 😀

      btw, don’t read the character profiles posted on the official drama site in KBS (or the translations) if you don’t want to be spoiled…>.>

  33. 33 Yeng

    wow,I also have not seen a movie that made me develop this love-hate relationship with the male lead so well. There are too much going on with him. I hope the plot could keep on doing this complex unwinding with this great setup…really am surprised by this! The male lead is also doing a fantastic job portraying the villain. He is just so perfect for this. I have seen him once in Baker King, and knew he would make the best villain with those evil glare. SO SO SO in LOVE with this!

  34. 34 Meow

    Thanks for the recap..wow amazing episode and truly awesome action.. This summer surely is going all action packed for me here…

  35. 35 vere

    It’s pretty good so far. My only qualms are that the action scenes are fairly cheesy and Joo Won tends to scream/shout everything, which makes it awkward to watch him sometimes. It seems like he hasn’t eased into the role yet. Also, his brother is adorable, even if it is an act.

    • 35.1 ilikemangos

      Yeah. I’m definitely looking forward to the future when kang to begins his disguise as gaksital. Definitely less yelling, more calm/composed badassery.
      He’s got a long way.
      I have faith he’ll ease into his role. Who else is super excited when our main couple beings to fall in love?! swoon…
      I always have to awww when his older brother is acting. It’s still so cute, despite the whole facade.

    • 35.2 Lazy Goose

      I feel the opposite. I think the screaming and yelling are intense and in line with the character. He’s not supposed to be a calm and collect badass. And those devilish glares? Dark and smexy!

  36. 36 Rovi

    But you know, seeing Lee Sun (Kang-san & Kang-to’s father)’s memorial photo, I can’t help but think, did they have connections with royalty? I mean:
    -the clan name’s Lee
    -Lee Sun is wearing Imperial Joseon attire (the Empire was proclaimed 1897)

    My theory postulates that they may be related to the royal-turned-imperial Jeonju Yi clan through an illegitemate Prince (Gun before 1897, Chinwang after the 1897) as an ancestor, since sons of Princes (legitimate (Daegun) or illegitimate) do not necessarily inherit their father’s titles, and just automatically become Princes (just Gun), and that their line had become so obscure or whatever; but their father luckily became a royal government official, since Princes can also take up a post…

  37. 37 Rashell

    Yay, it looks like new drama crack for me. Seriously this one looks to be awesome if the first two episodes are any indication. Thanks for the re-cap.

  38. 38 Yumi

    I’mthinking Kang-san put on the village idiot persona to protect himself from the villains knowing that whatever information they killed his father to protect, he now has.

  39. 39 Rita (Tarits)

    First episode alone, I knew I was going to like the drama. It has the looks of being an epic drama. It reminded me a lot of the movie “Ip Man”. Joo Won is brilliant. I am excited to watch all the episodes of this drama.

  40. 40 Emily

    Ah, this show is amazing!
    I’ve been anticipating it so much for so long, that I was worried it wouldn’t meet my high expectations, but it has in fact surpassed them.
    Of course it has some minor flaws, but damn if this isn’t one of the most flawless (so far) dramas to come out in recent years.
    To be honest, when I first read about the drama, I thought Joo Won/Kang To would be Gaksital, because he’s the main lead. Yet the plot synopsis/character profiles say he will be Gaksital.
    I’m beginning to think that somewhere in the middle, Kang-san will need to die in order for Kang-to to take over as Gaksital, ah damn!

  41. 41 bishbash

    i can’t believe how kickass-y good this drama is! and it’s just the first two eps! OMG OMG OMG.

    i had an inkling that kang-san is gaksital, simply based on the hair, but i didn’t think it really IS kang-san.

    now i wonder what goes on in kang-san’s head, ya know, working against little bro like that.

    good bromances are a definite plus.

  42. 42 Faye

    I wish there was a like button for sentence. “Like” for the fifty episode extension idea!

  43. 43 neemcha

    if kang san is not the village idiot then he will be a dead idiot for being a traitor…. ah, so complicated.
    i hope kang to will not hate his brother when he finds out.
    and i sure hope that kang to doesn’t kill his brother… it’s where it seems this drama is heading to… Loving the actors and the action.

  44. 44 reglest

    I love the pace of this drama, and the cinematography seem great too.

    I think I’m in for this one!
    but oh…Hyung as Gaksital, I’m sorry i can recognize and guess it’s you since first…I shouldn’t have stare the pic for too long! *blame self*

    • 44.1 reglest

      Just realize the first one was written by JB and the 2nd is GF…this means..your collaboration?!!

      Hooo yeaaa~ so yeah!!

  45. 45 L-V

    Love Joo Won eyes…^^

    • 45.1 shikyungfaith

      BINGO! lol

    • 45.2 ilikemangos

      Yup. ever since i first saw him in baker king i knew this guy was one of those actors that would have me be completely compelled whenever he emotes with his eyes.
      I always love that.

      • 45.2.1 Lazy Goose

        Yes! This is the first time I’ve seen Joo Won in anything and omg, his eyes are just so urg. They’re captivating.

  46. 46 queenjade

    OMG girlfriday. I friggin LOVE your recaps! <3
    always so insightful and spot on!!! 😀 😀 😀

  47. 47 Jasmine

    OMGGGGGGGGG. Can this drama even get more epic? I got all bipolar this episode, like gf, cursing Joo Won one second, sympathesizing him the next. And it definetely does not help that when he’s being evil, he has to be all cute about it. I mean when he captured Dan I was so pissed off, then that smile came and melted me haha.

    BTW we should come up with a name for ourselves..you know the ones that are crazy for some Bridal Mask. I remember in the K2H craze we called ourselves Hearties. Any suggestions?

    • 47.1 Quiescent

      the brides XD

      • 47.1.1 ilikemangos

        +1 buahahahha.

        • shikyungfaith

          +1 LOL. The BRIDES it is. Hi Brides LOL!!!

    • 47.2 ilikemangos

      I love how i see some of you hearties here. makes me sho happy. =) Miss you guys! Glad you’re enjoying this show as much as i am so far!

  48. 48 lolly

    stunned at choi ji woo’s brother in stairway to heaven. so cool to have le brother actually all normal and badass, the circumstances of all these is the real devil.

  49. 49 sujeans

    I know where this is going…. here’s my theory as to what will happen…. *SKIP AHEAD IF YOU”D LIKE*

    Kang-to will capture Gaksital and eventually find out that it’s his brother. So I think Kang-san will eventually get really hurt, die, or be captured, and kang-to will become the “new” gaksital in order to live on his brothers wishes/ambitions or to clear his brother’s name.

  50. 50 Noelle

    Damn! And to think I wasn’t gonna watch this. How many episodes is this? I would dedicate myself to 100 if it stays this awesome. I found my new drama crack! Woot!

  51. 51 crazedlu


    frickin love thiiiiisss!!!!!!!

    wednesday, come swiftly.~

  52. 52 Felix

    God bless this drama. Action, drama, romance, bromance, period, heroine being awesome fighter and anything I want is fulfilled. Thanks for recap. I wonder if there will be epic fighting between Gaksital and Japaneses army?
    Come on Drama. Let Kang To become Gaksitaaaaaaaaaaaal!!!!!.

  53. 53 happybunny9584

    This show is so good!! Please recap ghost as well. I watched the first show and it’s really great as well. I think I will keep watching these two shows in parallel.

  54. 54 Mel

    OoooMmmmGgggg!!! I have not watched this even raw but howw thrilling your written recaps have been!!! I love this and all the characters and the actors!!!! Yahoo, I been a Jo Won since Baker King and Park Ki Woong fan since his silliness in My Tutor 2 (he was a great villain in Chuno!!! Totally believable!!!) and ….Gaksital…. wooo I was waiting for Shenji but it’s Kang San Hyung…awesome!!

    Love you both GF for this recap and JB for the first epi recap… Can’t wait for next episode…

  55. 55 Coolsmurf

    Gives me a Capital Scandal vibe when I saw this. Joo Won is really intense, can’t wait to see how the story develops from here on.

  56. 56 1lostbear

    Gah, this show looks flipping AWESOME! Exams, be gone. I want to watch k-dramas and not feel guilty!

    I also thought Kang-to’s transformation would be a lot faster, but I’m not complaining. I can’t bring myself to hate him when I know how sincere his intentions for doing all of this are. And it gets down to the question: does the ends justify the means?

    I’m so excited for this show. I love smart shows, and I love the action in it. Not your typical k-drama, that’s for sure.

    And no, girlfriday, it’s not too early to ask for an extension. However, let’s all keep our fingers crossed the writer has the whole story planned out and won’t resort to “winging it.”

  57. 57 mrs_d_4281

    javabeans and girlfriday, you are jjang! The recaps are awesome. It makes me feel like I’m watching the drama. I’m drowning in a whole gamut of emotions. Gaksital is LOVE. I was trying not to have an inappropriate crush on Jo Woon since I’m an ajhumma but can’t help it. Haha.

  58. 58 Sugarpunch

    Oh. My. God. At first I suspected it was Kang San, but I thought the lower half of his face didn’t look like Kang San’s. But now the cat’ s out of the bag, it’s fricking crazy!! This complicates matters SO MUCH.

    On the other hand, I didn’t know shin hyun joon was in this. I love him! He starred in the very first kmovie I watched– guns and talks, together with my favorite actors of all time… Shin ha kyun, won bin, Jeong Jin yeong, gong hyo Jin. Lol

    • 58.1 ilikemangos

      At some angles, i feel like they might’ve used a different body to do some action scenes. At one point i saw the face was quite different from Kang san’s.
      So it confuses me — is it supposed to be intentional for the story and us viewers? Perhaps there is more than one gaksital?
      Or is it a body double?

      • 58.1.1 beggar1015

        I know what you’re talking about. That was a different face beneath the mask when Gaksital was running around the town square. I’m beginning to agree more and more with GF and JB’s theory that there is more than one Bridal Mask.

        • anabella

          I bet their father survived & still alive.
          omiiiii, this is so much exciting to watch & wait.

        • ydoodler

          That was bothering me too so I went back and checked and now I’m confused. I thought there were two but the person who rides in on the horse and takes her out was someone different than when Kang-san drops her off in the woods. I get that they have to use doubles but then there shouldn’t have been close ups of the face…

          • risa

            I agree with ydoodler. That confused the hell out of me. It was obvious that the Gaksital that was fleeing in the town square was not Kang San (Shin Hyun Joon), so I was expecting that we’d see that he was acting as a decoy, enabling Kang San to swoop in and rescue Mok Dan. But instead, we saw not-SHJ rescue Mok Dan and ride away with her– however when they dismounted, she was with SHJ. WTF? I can see why they might need to use a body double for the swooping in on horseback scene, but why use one for the fleeing/hiding shots? And why include a close-up of his face of you are gonna use a body double? (Hellooo– we know what SHJ’s mouth looks like.)

            Oh well– what didn’t work in this episode is minute compared to what did work. This is one epic ride!

  59. 59 birdscout

    Before reading javabeans’ and girlfriday’s recaps, I wasn’t planning on watching this. But now I feel compelled to watch what looks to be a badass and intense drama of an era in Korean history that I don’t know enough of. Thanks for reeling me in!

  60. 60 bora

    hi, i just want to say this, everytime i read dramabeans for some recaps of drama.. i realized the author will always biased to her favourite actor or actress.. urghh so boring! you will always say the drama is good if your favourite-flower-boy is in thereee.. this thing should be stopped!!

    • 60.1 Quiescent

      It’s THEIR opinion and views. Do you own this blog? Who are you to have control of what they write or not?

      If you don’t like their recaps, there’s an [x] button.

    • 60.2 ilikemangos

      Yeah, definitely. I feel like this website is a PRIVILEGE for everyone who comes to it. If you don’t like it, just leave.. They’re doing us a favor — it’s not like they’re being paid to do what they love to do. You can appreciate it, or you can just avoid it.
      Just sayin’.
      And not ever have i ever seen JB or GF say a drama is good even if their favorite actors/actresses are in it, so i really don’t see/understand your reasoning. Almost always they are objective when it comes to rating the quality of a show, and the opinions made of cast — well, that’s a different story.

    • 60.3 mychocoheart

      Or it could be you don’t always like the dramas they do? Anyway why should they stop writing their opinions on their own blog? You don’t have to agree with it.You could always go and find another blog that writes about the things you like in a way you like or maybe this could be a good opportunity for you to start your own blog where you can be as biased or as unbiased as you like.

      • 60.3.1 bora

        hahaha i’m just testing you guys how do you gonna react if somebody say something bad about your favourite ”flower-boys” or their drama or anything related to them..

        and guess what?? you guys react exactly like what I did expect you will react.. blehhhhh a typical reaction from fans of any flower boy fans out thereeee.. no offence

        peace and no war ^^

        • mychocoheart

          But why does everything you write make me suspect that you are one such fan of one of these supposed “flower boys” you keep going on about? No offence.

        • J

          @bora: are you just bored or really dumb? NO ONE replying your comment even mentions one “pretty boy”‘s name. Since you wanna play bait and switch, imma give you then:

          Lee Minho, Lee Seung Gi, Joo Won, Siwon, Jung Il Woo, Kim Soo Hyun, Kim Bum, Yoochun, Jaejoong.

          There you have it, I name ’em all. And since you want to see typical reaction, here it is: “Bitch stay out of my Oppa!”

          The other commenters only react to your insensitive remark about JB and GF. U mad? Go write your own blog. Kthxbye.

    • 60.4 kbap

      …Well it is THEIR blog. Who doesn’t watch movies/dramas with their favorite actors/actresses in them? I mean, I don’t go to the movie theater, see ’em playing Avengers, and so like, “Oh wait! Tom Hiddleston, RDJ, and Chris Hemsworth? I love ’em! So I’m not going to watch this movie!” And plus I think everyone has biases, and what’s wrong with that? I agree with Quiescent and ilikemangos. Dramabeans is a privilege for all of us drama-watchers. If you disagree though, you’re welcome to start your own blog.

  61. 61 yukiii0691

    Girlfriday and javabeans, thx for the awesome recaps as usual XDD. Really looooooove Gaksital, totally abusing video’s replay button when the teaser came out. IMO it’s the perfect mix of history, actions, layered characters, complicated conflicts and lots of bromance. A little bonus point: Joo won’s dimple and smile <3
    And I noticed Gaksital already on the list in recapped series te heee. Thank you so much since I won't be able to watch it regularly for a month :'(.

  62. 62 canxi

    Ahh, so I guess Shunji’s personality changes up once he discovers his BFF 5ever is Gaksital and the girl of his dreams is in love with him. Daaaaaawwwwww. )':

    I’m seriously considering watching this one live instead of waiting for it to finish. But I don’t think my heart can handle all that suspense.

  63. 63 dee

    yeah fifty episode extension please…

  64. 64 anna

    for some reasons when I watch this drama it’s not as exciting as reading your recaps lol

    • 64.1 Abby

      I gotta agree with you here- the recaps are awesome but the show is, well…meh.
      I think I’ll stick to reading the recaps because their enthusiasm is contagious LOL

  65. 65 ilikemangos

    I am, like girlfriday, left with many questions! And i love it — it totally peeks at my curiosity.
    I wonder how kang to will feel once he realizes his older brother is not really mentally damaged, and that the one he is trying so hard to capture is his own brother.
    Man, the moment will be a harsh truth for him to accept. How he chooses to go from there? My main curiosity.
    Obviously we know from the summary that he ends up being Bridal Mask, but his transformation is one that i’ll definitely be looking forward to.
    Also, it’s interesting how Dan fell for Kang San in the form of Bridal Mask, instead of Kang To in the form of Bridal mask. So i wonder how the show will have our Dan end up falling for our anti-hero atm.
    I think the idea that our hero is not a hero is a conflict within this show that i like the best. I think that’s something all of us find refreshing.
    I can’t wait for this show to unravel its mysteries.. Officially hooked.

  66. 66 ravens_nest

    OMG, I love this show! It’s such a surreal feeling being this torn over a KDrama male lead. GF is right; one minute you want Kang To to win and the next you’re ecstatic that he failed. Ugh, fantastic writing.

    He’s not quite a pure anti-hero, I think. Anti-heroes have villainous aspects but they are usually indifferent to whatever is happening before personal stakes brings them into a fight. They become heroes for selfish reasons but otherwise they would not be heroes at all. Kang To is the opposite of that. He is a man who became a villain for personal reasons but otherwise probably wouldn’t be a villain.

    There’s a rather curious duality to Kang To’s character. He’s a full on villain right now. We are actively allowed to hate him for every morally bankrupt thing he does. At the same time, we are given sympathetic reasons for why he became a villain in the first place so we can form a pathos driven connection to him. It’s something I like to think of as the Loki Effect after the movie that recently released. Just as with Loki we are shown Kang To’s motivations and desperation and they are understandable to us. Thus we feel for him even as we deplore his life choices. We root for him when he’s being wronged by the Kimura pair and hate him when he’s actively participating in the oppression of the Korean people. We love that he’s doing this only to help his family but hate that what he chose to do is betray his country. That said this strange pathos we have for Kang To will allow us to understand and accept his change to hero much easier. For now, this hero/villain dichotomy is infinitely fascinating to me.

    The one thing that worries me is that the writers are going to rely too heavily on the “First Love” plot to try and wipe away the fact that Kang To beat and tortured Dan for information. Since the story is so assured and strong right now, it’s just a niggling worry but KDramas have disappointed me in the past. (I’m too KDrama-jaded for hope.) I really don’t want their past “love connection” to be a forgive all for their current disastrous relationship. If they do end up together, I’m gonna need concrete reasons for why Dan would forgive him.

    • 66.1 whimsyful

      Just a guess, but I’m thinking since Dan already has a crush on Gaksital maybe she won’t notice the change when Kang To takes over and continue crushing on him? I agree that their relationship will be difficult to develop believably though. If Kang To continues to hurt her I’m gonna pray she ends up with Shunji instead.

    • 66.2 rearwindow

      Yaaaay, ravens_nest! So exciting to see your thoughts outside of the TK2H threads :).

      I love your interpretations, as usual. I think more than hero/antihero, Kang-to is opportunistic. I’m not sold by the excuse that he does what he does simply to support his mother and care for his brother, but that’s ok…because it does make sense to me that an opportunistic, ambitious, smart young man would grab at the best chance for success in a world pretty much bereft of opportunities. That doesn’t make me like him, but it does make him a compelling character, which makes me want to root for him, in a weird way. Except when he’s torturing our heroine, haha.

      • 66.2.1 ravens_nest

        “Opportunist” is a good word for him. I love that Kang To’s not super emo about his life. He has moments of introspection but he’s not overwhelmingly brooding. It’s as if he made his choice to be an Imperial Police Officer and he’s sticking with it until it stops being what he needs.

        He’s not burdened with some unwieldy guilt trip. It’s not so much that he doesn’t have a conscience but that he has turned it off because it is not useful to him and his goals. He’s bitter and angry and has a very “eat or be eaten” outlook on life because of his experiences with his father and brother. It’ll be extremely interesting to see him getting back into touch with his conscience later.

        • rearwindow

          “It’s not so much that he doesn’t have a conscience but that he has turned it off because it is not useful to him and his goals.”

          Yes, very well said. He’s very different from anything I’ve seen in a kdrama lead before. There are dozens of man-boys and guys who are immature (and/or cruel because they are immature), but this cynical, Darwinistic type of lead is very interesting. Particularly because I sense that he will have to change significantly before our female lead will even look twice at him as a human being, let alone in any sort of romantic fashion. A lot of times, the female lead seems to be attracted in part to the male lead’s assholery (which is disturbing on a number of levels). Here, he’s gonna have to become a real person with some moral scruples before Dan will even think to give him a shot.

  67. 67 aoiaheen

    I love the Kang to character. And only Joo Won could make me love him. Really! he tortures a girl. As in watches while she’s whipped. And I’m not into that kinda stuff. Even when a hero slaps a heroine I just stop watching the show.

    But somehow, the PD’s and Joo Won pulled this off very well. The way they shot it, it actually seemed like he was treating her as an equal. Its like, he gets whipped when he’s arrested. So, when she’s arrested, she gets whipped.

    I also love the action scenes. I’ve read a few comments where people don’t seem to like it, but i just love them. I loved the scene in the court room, when Gaksital, hangs off the bannister while Joo Won jumps down.

    All in all, i think i’ve found my next crack!

  68. 68 Lise

    mmh! yesterday i was raving abt this but today not so much ; ( maybe after a couple of eps when everyone’s settled into their long term roles. in the meantime i have totally fallen for Ghost…the suspense is seriously killing me. When (yes when!) u kind hearted subbers drop Dr Jin u know what to sub it with he he! thanks DB crew, u is legends!

  69. 69 PinkSleeves

    This was the best episode EVER! And it’s only the second one o.o!
    I can seriously see the brothers going against each other and the whole heartbreak of who’s right and who’s wrong. 
    I mean the person who you thought would be on your side and who understands you the most, turns out to be your very worst enemy?! And on top of that you thought he was an innocent lovable idiot, but instead he’s a swift and skilled fighter who probably knows everything? 
    Cain and Abel much? xD But this time without the tumors and the whole neurology and emergency center stuff V.V
    No no, I think there will be a REALLY big twist….
    I’m not sure if someone will die (which I hope not cuz I’m really loving the characters) but if Kang San is such an important character, shouldn’t he have been on the posters alongside Kang to? 
    I have a feeling that he won’t last long :(

    Thanks for the recap! 

  70. 70 beggar1015

    The writers have done such a great job making Kang-to into a villain that they’ll have to perform a miracle to convince me to see him as a hero later on.

    I’m leaning towards Kang-san being the one who gave Dan the knife. Speaking of Dan, just how many names is one woman going to have in a series? The “young master” knew her as Boon Yi, Shunji knew her as Esther, and now she’s Dan. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there are more name changes in future episodes.

  71. 71 jyyjc

    Why is it that I get the feeling that shunji will die? Idk maybe it’s cuz I’m still too affected after watching Lee junhyuk die twice, in city hunter and equator man, and eun shikyung.

  72. 72 mollyP

    So. Epic.
    And so BEAUTIFUL. And Im not just talking about Joo Won.

  73. 73 soojin08


  74. 74 soojin08

    Oh, I think the boy who gave her the knife is Kang-San.
    She called him Young Master…hmmm, maybe because Kang-San’s family used to be rich? I’m just assuming, though.

    Love love love Gaksital.

  75. 75 Lisa-Loo-Loo

    I totally called his brother from the first episode… for some reason once I saw the brother I thought of Kevin Spacey in the Usual Suspects… This show is fast pace and wicked good fun!

  76. 76 N


    this is gonna be one goood ride :)


  77. 77 anabella

    LOVE LOVE LOVE……YEAH, i really love this drama GAKSITAL just like OB…
    Thank you for the recap.

  78. 78 pinky

    So I have a subscription with dramafever and randomly clicked on this drama because I was curious. First five minutes into it, I was all “…Nah,” and was ready to click the back button, but then my dad who I didn’t know was watching behind me protested and said it was getting interesting. We ended up watching both episodes, and it’s weird, because my dad asked me when the next episode was coming. My dad who I never saw watched anything subbed beyond old Bruce Lee movies. Just… weird.
    But yeah, Kang To is deliciously evil and I kinda love the writers for giving us something different. Kinda figured Kang-san was Gaksital as soon as I saw the village-idiot act (my dad agreed. Weird!). I’m liking Choonji, too, and excited what would happen when he figures what Kang To did to the girl he’s crushing on. I also wonder how his and Kangto’s friendship started. With the way they act, they sound like childhood friends. Dan’s character is a little flat… I hope they develop her more as the series progresses.

  79. 79 JustJen

    CRAP. I was really trying to avoid getting hooked into a K-drama. I was hoping I could ride it out and marathon them when they were actually complete and finished. Except I read the recaps here and caved and watched both episodes last night.

    HOOKED. Damn it. Cannot wait for next week.

  80. 80 thom

    When Kang-to escape to meet director kono koji ?…I had a question why you doesn ’t back to family? you can’t back to your family because it made them dangerous right. So in this drama right now kang-to no one that he can recuse to? Just now you had only Shunji.

    when I watched the screen that girlfriday recapped and watched ep2 later “Kang-to leaps over the carts and shoots furiously at Gaksital and Dan, but they manage to ride away unscathed. Kang-to lets out a guttural screeeeeeam of frustration. How can it be so satisfying to watch the hero fail?”

    I’m BREATHLESS and scream too like girlfriday It had the sound in my head said “kang-to you can’t to do these just fail the mission” and I can’t beath everytime that kang-to shoot Gaksital because you can’t go back to the past to do the right thing if you fault and made Gaksital in dangerous.

  81. 81 J

    Superb episode! Even better than the already-impressive first one. They’ve laid out layers after layers of high stakes that the people in the drama will inevitably have to face.

    Up until now I believe the kid in Boon’s flashback is really Kang-to but now I begin to waver. Could it be his bro instead? What an interesting twist it would be! Kang-to will seriously have to EARN his redemption towards her, from scratch!
    And that, takes the relationship setup to a whole new level of RAWRRRR-DYSFUNCTIONAL-BUT-SO-SEXY.

  82. 82 sweetspring

    just what i need, a drama to keep me vested the whole time & totally enamored with the lead at just the right timing after one of my all time fans just finished (not name dropping but with the one who used to be on 1n2d)…
    anyway Joo Won rawks!!! yes he’s got the killer cheekbones, super cute smile & all but man! Joo Won in uniform *endless swooning + uncontrollable drooling* in K-drama heaven if the production keeps up the quality of this episode. totally agree with girlfriday, keep ’em coming!!!

  83. 83 needlight

    I have to concede that this drama is REALLY GOOD because I kept watching when I found the two episodes subbed even though I did not care much about it during its promotional period, and I did not come into the drama invested in any of the actors (the only other drama I saw Joowon in was Baker King Kim Tak Goo and that wasn’t a great character for him and I don’t know the main actress). Joo Won is really charismatic even as a villain. I like Dan and Shunji a lot too, with the same reasons others have commented above (side note: if you’ve watched the movie “Bow, the Ultimate Weapon”, “Shunji” would have been the villain–the young prince who had the sadistic smile instead of Kenji in this show). I knew the big bro is the bridal mask too because it would have been a waste for the actor to just act dumb the whole show.
    I also think the boy who gave her the knife is Kang To because of the scene where they showed the knife behind him while he was capturing her.

    Thanks for the amazing recaps as always, GF and JB!

  84. 84 Suzi Q

    Awesome!Love the fast paced action sequences.

    What? Joo Won is the evil person who is trying to capture the Bridal Mask? He is an intriguing antihero character. I wonder when he will switch sides and when he will discover that his brother isn’t the village idiot.

  85. 85 Mel

    Repeat love this!!! … And we get Joo Won in Gaksital as well as 2d1n!!!!

  86. 86 mychocoheart

    This is the first time seeing Joo Won in anything and though I find him a bit shouty in some scenes, I’m really finding his character intriguing and he is doing such a good job of playing the bad guy. I’m all in for a hero that starts of a bit evil and I am somehow looking forward to see how the romance and bromance develops. It seems like it’s going to be twisted and angsty and very exciting. So far out of all new dramas, Gaksital is the drama I’m finding the most exciting and I like I do I do for some light hearted romcom fun. Dr Jin is entertaining for all the wrong reasons and I’m not feeling GD yet but I see potential so will keep watching for a while. Then there’s Big coming up too and I’m still way behind on the awesome QIHM. Why do all these dramas have to come out at the same time?
    Anyway thanks to JB and GF for the recaps.

  87. 87 rearwindow

    What a high-octane ride! I really enjoyed the first two episodes and am excited to see how the show continues to develop.

    Kang-to’s getting a lot of love, but I have to chime in: I adooooooore Shunji. A warm-hearted, peace-loving teacher who happens to be TOTALLY BADASS when he needs to be? Who stood up to his father and his maniacal brother (seriously: what us UP with those twitchy, crazy eyes, Kenji?)? Who wears a freaking BOWTIE when he goes off to see his love in the circus?! Who rides an adorable bike around with bouquet of flowers in the basket for said love?! SWOON, I say, SWOON! Too bad he won’t get the girl. Come to me instead, Shunji! I’ll take you over the torturous lead anyday! (Watch me eat my words circa episode 10. For now, though…I’m a Shunji girl, through and through!)

    My main concerns with the drama thus far stem from how the love lines are shaping up, actually…and to some extent, the relationships in general. There’s a bit too much coincidence in the Dan love square for my liking. I feel like she’s almost being used a plot device to bring the men all together to one super dramatic reveal (though, of course, they are already connected). I will be interested in seeing if her character gets more complex as the show progresses. I’d also love to see more of her outside of how she relates to the various men in the show (her father, Gaksital, Kang-to, Kang-san, Shunji). Maybe I’m just spoiled by TK2H, but I really want another female lead who is as rich and complicated as the male lead.

    Speaking of which, I do love what a morally ambiguous character Kang-to is. I know he is motivated in part by a desire to care for his brother and mother, but I don’t buy for a second that that is the only reason he joined the dark side. He is a cocky, ambitious little punk. And I actually love that. I don’t love him, of course (yet), but I like that he’s not just motivated by a selfless desire to provide. He is driven to succeed (whatever that may mean to him), and he even seems to be a touch sadistic (though not nearly as sadistic as Freakypants McCrazyeyes, aka Kenji). This will make his character arc–when he actually makes the choice to fight for something bigger than his own ambition–all the more compelling.

    • 87.1 ilikemangos

      Nice to see you here, rearwindow! =)
      I too love shunji! The speech he gave about kang to being loyal and when he says “If Lee Kang-to were to be killed by the national police simply because he is of Joseon descent, who would be loyal to such a government from that point on?” makes me fawn over him! Can he possibly be our new shi kyung? Faith, loyalty, justice.. Common sense.
      I completely agree though about your concerns about the relationships. Perhaps after watching K2H we are invested in all of our character’s relationships and their emotional growth together..
      And YES to the whole “like/love” about kang to. I am definitely curious about our main, but i have not yet falling IN love. you pulled those words right out of my mouth. So that’s why im definitely waiting on the transition from kang to officer to kang to/gaksital.
      It’s only the second episode — but boy am i ready.

      • 87.1.1 rearwindow

        Always good to see you too, Mangos! It totally warms my heart to recognize fellow Hearties commenting in the big bad world outside of the K2H threads. I was actually thinking about posting on the final K2H thread about how that show has changed my kdrama viewing experience (for the better, I think)…but I don’t know at what point I should stop commenting there, lol.

        I’m excited to watch another drama live with you all! This is seriously the best online community. Love it.

      • 87.1.2 Minea

        Hi, maknae mangos and rearwindow!

        Was reading the recaps for Gaksital and saw your names and can’t resist saying hello to you both! And I see quite a few Hearties too. So happy we all made it alive out of K2H . . . maimed but alive. LOL. Glad to know everyone’s on the road to recovery and Gaksital (and Queen In Hyun’s Man) seems to be just the right kind of therapy.

        Not ready yet to watch a show while it’s airing (after K2H) so I’d probably wait until Gaksital has aired about 10 episodes before I jump in and let myself get caught up in the hysteria. But it looks like it’s shaping up to be a really good (and hopefully, engaging) drama based on the 2 eps that I’ve read. I like that Kang-to is another complex character and not the archetypal hero so I’m looking forward to see his character transformation later on. (And how neat is it that this particular time period hasn’t been heavily explored in kdrama? It’s quite refreshing and interesting to see how Korea was like back then.) Hope to see you (and all the other Hearties) in a later thread :)

        • rearwindow

          MINEA! So great to see you here!! I look forward to you joining our discussions (and hope that Gaksital proves even a tenth as interesting to discuss as K2H). :)

      • 87.1.3 Arhazivory

        Nice to see some familiar faces.

        Nice analysis as always rearwindow. I also adore Shunji. He looks so adorkable with his big ears and I agree that our ‘hero’ is actually quite evil all on his own. It will be nice to see him evolve and I hope the writers do that transition well.

        It would’ve been nice to avoid the cliche’d fated love thing but…*sighs*….not every drama (coughsK2Hcoughs) can walk a different path. I’m still loving this to bits though and totally excited about the upcoming weeks. 😀

        • rearwindow

          Thanks, Arhazivory. It’s great to see you here!

    • 87.2 ladida

      Mmmm, I like what you said about Mok Dan. She’s the person all the men are connected to, and she has three names: Esther, Mok Dan, and Boon Yi. She’s lived three different kinds of lives (when she was a kid, alone and apparently abandoned, as a novice nun, and as part of the circus) and has travled around the country with the circus. And her specialty in the circus is switching masks on and off really quickly. She’s a woman of many faces. This makes me all the more eager to meet Hong Joo, who is also a woman of many faces, considering her work as a spy. I can’t wait for these two to meet, but right now I just want Mok Dan to kick Kang To’s ass. He’s such a jerk right now. Like you said, he isn’t even just doing the work just so he can provide for his family, he enjoys it. He takes pleasure in having that power and in using that power. It’ll be interesting if the show explores that.

      • 87.2.1 rearwindow

        Really interesting analysis of Mok Dan. I hope we get more of her character soon! And I REALLY hope, like you, that we get to see Dan kicking some Kang-to ass in the near future.

  88. 88 N

    DRAMAcrackDRAMAcrackDRAMAcrack !

  89. 89 ultramarineblue

    Holy crap. This is the first drama I watched in a while because school just ended and I wanted to watch one that was just starting so I wouldn’t be tempted to just read the dramabeans recaps. I am so happy I decided to watch it and then read the recaps :D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This show is SO good but I have to admit that I can already sense the angst between the hero and heroine when they fall in love. I mean I’ve been keeping a mental tally of all the times he pissed her off and I really don’t know how her feelings are gonna turn around.

    Well I look forward to seeing how it works out and I hope shunji doesn’t end up forever alone…

    Thanks again for the great recaps!!!!

  90. 90 panshel

    The reveal… so anticlimactic. I can’t wait till Kang To becomes Gaksital! How will he be in two places at once — Officer Kang To pretending to capture Gaksital and Gaksital Kang To fighting police corruption? And will Mok Dan continue to love Gaksital not knowing this Gaksital is not the original Gaksital who saved her thrice? Expect the first save, was she in love with her own father? O_O I have so many questions…

  91. 91 red

    Omg I promised myself I would start this because I new I would become like this. Argh I want moar now!!! Im so enjoying Kang To and all the other characters in this show. And as a massive Joo won fan I’m enjoying see other sides to his acting. Loving the camera work, the writing, everything…but why did this have to come out 2 weeks before final exams!!! :(

  92. 92 red

    Omg I promised myself I wouldn’t start this because I new I would become like this. Argh I want moar now!!! I’m so enjoying Kang To and all the other characters in this show. And as a massive Joo won fan I’m enjoying see other sides to his acting. Loving the camera work, the writing, everything…but why did this have to come out 2 weeks before final exams!!! :(

    • 92.1 red

      *knew not new

  93. 93 blackitty

    to be honest I didnt really like the first episode, but the second one was amazing! really loved it!

  94. 94 Barbie

    the intrigue, the plot, the action, the acting, the “gaaaaaaaaaaaksitaaaaaaaaaal” yell from JW. I’m all in.

  95. 95 Arivle

    Just finished watching the first 2 episodes and in all honesty I can say that I”M IN LOVE with this drama…everything so far is just right on target. I love the whole story line and how each character is intertwine with each other. This is going one heck of a ride…

  96. 96 KRush

    Dear drama gods,
    Thank you.

    P.S. Please keep Show in line so my faith doesn’t crumble into dust.

  97. 97 ladida

    I think Kang To was the one who gave her the knife, too.

    I’m really interested to see how Kang To is going to turn into a hero. Will he be more of an anti-hero, or will his transformation be complete? He doesn’t even try to live in both worlds the way Shunji does, he just devotes himself to the imperialist regime whole heartedly. He’s so evil right now. Also, how is Mok Dan (love her, by the way) going to fall in love with someone who tortured her? And tried to kill her long lost father? Hmmm…I also wonder if Shunji will stay as sweet as he is now, or if it’ll be a ~spurned love changes him for the worst~ situation.

    What I noticed about both recaps is that both girlfriday and Javabeans mentioned the impotence of Kang To’s fury. I wonder if that’ll be part of his transformation, his impotent fury changing into something calmer and much more effective against the occupation and the Ki group?

  98. 98 Tale

    Not trying to sound like a know-it-all… but just that I did have a slight suspicion that Kang San might be the Gaksital. I guess because some of Kang San’s features looked similar to the Gaksital (to me that is) like his haircut and his lower face (mouth, lips).

    But yes, I was thrown off because he was acting as the Fool hence making him least likely to be Gaksital. Till now that is… :)

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