This is what happens when an extremely capable scholar finds himself having to adapt to a world three hundred years ahead of his own. If there was ever a drama character I’d want to have around in a time of crisis, I feel like Boong-do would take the cake. He’s not just smart, or capable, or caring – he goes above and beyond the call of duty by being good-natured and surprisingly fun. tvN, I am certainly buying what you are selling this year. Keep up the good work.
Due to that whole space-time continuum and a lack of magical talismans (or a Time Conductor, or whatever they use in Rooftop Prince), javabeans and I will be working in tandem on this one. More Queen In-hyun’s Man, more fun.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Hee-jin wakes up in the hospital and takes in her surroundings, just as Manager Soo-kyung arrives, assuring her mother over the phone that Hee-jin simply fainted due to stress.
But Hee-jin is more interested to know what happened to that man – you know, the one with the sword. She assures her manager that she didn’t faint because of stress, and in a tiny voice she begins to describe the last memory she had of a man in Joseon clothing riding on a horse.
The story she tells is funnier as it goes on because she’s dead serious, only the events she’s relating sound too fantastical to be real. She even tells Soo-kyung about the dead body that dissolved into thin air, which her manager scoffs at. She thinks Hee-jin just had a trippy dream.
We get a flashback showing the staff finding an unconscious Hee-jin in the forest, though no matter what Soo-kyung says, Hee-jin insists it wasn’t a dream. She begins to doubt her own theory as she searches her dress for the assassin’s bloodstains and finds none. Was it really all a dream?
The news of Hee-jin’s fainting comes as news to Dong-min, who’s just leaving the press conference. He notes that she’s not the type to faint under pressure, but gets distracted when fellow actress Na-jung saunters on by.
His manager knows him well by now, and practically shakes Dong-min by the shoulders to get him to keep his focus on his acting, not on women. Our Hallyu star is so sure that Na-jung still holds a torch for him and won’t let the matter go, because of course he’s the hotshot that every girl wants to have, right? No wonder why his manager practically cried when Dong-min so much as looked at Na-jung.
Soo-kyung gets a call from Dong-min, and the two go back and forth about whether he should or shouldn’t visit Hee-jin in the hospital. Final word? He’s going tomorrow.
But it’s with a devious smirk that he asks his manager about possible reporter turnout tomorrow, which immediately puts the poor man on edge. He already knows Dong-min is up to no good, and only gets the cryptic reply that he’ll make Hee-jin’s name number one in the search engines. Ruh roh.
Back in the hospital, Hee-jin is having no luck finding her phone. An emptying of her purse does reveal something new, though – and it’s Boong-do’s blood spattered talisman. Neither her or Soo-kyung know what it is, and focus instead on calling her cell phone to see if anyone might have picked it up.
We cut to the empty set library where Hee-jin’s phone rings, and where Boong-do has been sitting all alone in full Joseon regalia. He picks up her phone like the foreign object that it is to him, studying it from all angles with a levelheaded curiosity.
Since no one answers, Soo-kyung looks up the phone’s location via GPS to reveal that it’s at the palace. She brushes it off like it’s nothing big, but Hee-jin’s brow furrows in consternation as she tries once again to call her own phone.
Boong-do is still sitting in the library meditating, though it’s pretty impossible to ignore Hee-jin’s ringtone. The act of picking up the phone sends him into a flashback of when Hee-jin had initially fainted in his arms, and he’d hidden himself away when the staff came to find her. Only later did he realize his talisman was missing, and in the process of looking for it he found her phone instead.
In the present, the ringing stops, and Boong-do sits quietly to collect his thoughts.
Joseon. Minister Min has Yoon-wol brought to him in order to both complain that Boong-do never came to save her, and rub that fact in her face at the same time. Yoon-wol is unfazed, and asserts with fire in her eyes that the Minister miscalculated her relationship with Boong-do – he merely helped her out occasionally because she was the servant of his late wife, nothing more.
Minister Min needs someone to lash out at for his failed plan, and he correctly surmises that Yoon-wol is suffering from unrequited love. He taunts her about how sad it must be that the man she’s willing to sacrifice her life for escaped, and eventually has her sent away.
His minions ruminate over the disappearance of Boong-do and one of their men, having found no traces of either.
The sun finally rises as we find ourselves back with our smart cookie Boong-do. He has an idea that time has passed, only he doesn’t know how much. Luckily the layout of the palace hasn’t changed and he’s able to navigate it just like old times.
Up until now Boong-do has been pretty sheltered by remaining in the palace, but one step out of the main gate brings the reality of his new world crashing down on him in a pure assault of the senses. He’s met with the cacophony of Seoul along with sights he could have never even imagined.
The view is staggering, and in an attempt to normalize himself he closes his eyes as the city in front of him converts back into the Joseon he knows. Unfortunately the effect only lasts as long as his eyes are closed – there’s no escaping this reality. Still, he bears what must be incredibly frightening with grace.
He hears the arriving film crew mention Queen In-hyun, and thinks back to Hee-jin when she introduced herself as such. He follows after them.
Dong-min arrives on set for makeup and costuming, and notices that his bag has gone missing when another actor can’t find his clothes. They’ve been swiped by Boong-do, who scrutinizes the clothes carefully as he studies the way the film crew is dressed outside in order to figure out how he should wear them. The moment is played straight on Boong-do’s end, but it’s funny to see him try to make sense of things.
HA – I love how the music goes from old-fashioned while he’s in hanbok, to modern when he’s changed his clothes. It’s a nice touch, but it’s even funnier when he tries to put a knit hat over his headband and topknot, only to find that it makes an odd point at the top of his head.
Manager Soo-kyung watches TV with a sour face as Dong-min and Na-jung are interviewed, with the graphics and the show hosts insinuating that the two have become closer since Hee-jin’s absence – you know, the normal sort of hooks publicity teams use to get people interested in the drama.
Hee-jin wants to go deliver food and apologies to the set, but Soo-kyung quickly puts the kibosh on that idea. Everyone thinks Hee-jin is sick, and that’s the story they have to stick with.
Put in her place by Soo-kyung’s savvy business sense, Hee-jin resigns herself to channel surfing on the hospital television. She lands on a news station with an interesting report of a horse running amuck in the middle of the city, one outfitted with Joseon-era accoutrements.
Hee-jin’s jaw drops. She recognizes that horse, which means that her encounter with Boong-do wasn’t a dream. She decides that she must find her phone and meet that man, so she takes Soo-kyung’s phone to aid her in her quest. Once her curiosity is piqued, it can’t be sated easily.
She arrives on set, and remembering that she isn’t supposed to be seen, she tries to disguise herself via a hat and sunglasses. She goes sneaking around with the GPS enabled, attempting to track down the moving pin of her phone.
All of a sudden she’s grabbed by Boong-do, who ushers them into a more secluded spot. How funny is it that he recognized her in the blink of an eye, disguises be damned?
He’s all smiles when he greets her, happy to see a familiar face in such an unfamiliar world. She’s more surprised by the ‘Staff’ pass he’s wearing around his neck, though he has no idea what a “staff” even is. She ends up taking the reins when a crew member approaches to lead Boong-do away, and I think it’s hilarious that he’s attached his scholar’s hat to his backpack.
Once they’re more or less alone, Hee-jin barrages him with questions – who is he, why is he wearing a staff lanyard… and then she latches onto an idea. He must be part of the special effects team, so that whole dead body thing was all just an elaborate special effect, right?
I love that Boong-do is able to size up situations lightning quick, and decides that letting her believe what she wants will be easiest for her. They end up having to make another run for it when Dong-min approaches, and Hee-jin tries to hurry him into the car so he won’t be spotted.
He just looks at her at first, and then plainly says that he doesn’t know how to open the door. Ha. The same dilemma happens with his seatbelt inside – she gives him a simple order, but the terminology is beyond him. He even sighs when she asks about the seatbelt and tells her that she’ll have to help him, all good-natured and adorable.
Hee-jin finally loses her cool and tears into him for asking her to put her hands on him – what’s wrong with him?
She’s so mad, but he responds by laughing and apologizing for making her so upset. He calmly lets her know that he couldn’t understand everything she just said, with all those fancy modern words, and she pretty much throws her hands into the air. Can’t he understand Korean? “It’s not like you’re an idiot,” she says.
With a small smile on his face, Boong-do tells her, “I’m no different than an idiot. Treat me as an idiot by nature and just take care of me.”
She scoffs, and finally helps him with his seatbelt, which puts them in close proximity with one another. Once the deed is done Boong-do understands why she was upset at the request.
Bad news, though – Dong-min has seen her. She puts the petal to the metal and speeds off with Boong-do so that way they can have a private chat without prying eyes. He’s on a ticking clock because he has to save Yoon-wol, and asks Hee-jin if she has the talisman he needs, only it’s at the hospital. But as he tells her, it’s a matter of life or death.
I love her reaction to that statement, since it seems like gossip-worthy stuff to her, and therefore interesting. Her inattention at the wheel almost causes them to get into an accident, and Boong-do’s eyes go hilariously wide when Hee-jin pulls up next to the offending driver to heckle him.
When she checks Boong-do’s reaction, she defensively asks if he’s never seen someone drive before. “Is this called driving?” he asks, which only confuses her more. He has to explain that he’d only ask if he didn’t know, and offers her a reassuring smile when she ends up balking yet again at the absurdity of the situation.
Na-jung’s manager gets a call that she’s at the top of the search engines, and not in a good way – an article published keeps the names of the actresses private but claims that new actress ‘Miss B’ fainted from being harassed by ‘Miss A,’ and there’s no denying that the article is about Na-jung and Hee-jin. This was what the mischievous Dong-min had planned earlier to help public sentiment toward Hee-jin.
So then Dong-min gets a call from Na-jung and adorably ignores it, claiming that it was a lesson she needed to learn for her arrogance. “I’m not interested in you,” he tells his phone, sticking his tongue out like a kid. Ha.
Meanwhile, Hee-jin finds that she literally has to treat Boong-do like a child who can’t open his doors or unfasten his own seat belts. They end up in close quarters again as his seatbelt gets stuck, and even Hee-jin begins to wonder if this is all a hidden camera prank.
Boong-do takes in all the sights and sounds of the hospital with a discerning eye before he finally asks Hee-jin how many years it’s been since the reign of King Hyeonjong, father of King Sukjong. She knows it’s been around three hundred years… because she’s seen the year ‘1690’ in her drama script.
Three hundred years. He takes a minute to absorb the thought.
She notices how Boong-do observes everything, even in the elevator, and asks if this is his first time riding one. “It’s not necessary to ask,” he tells her. “Everything is my first.” And how does she respond? By poking him to see if he’s real. Haha.
When she’s insistent that he identify himself, Boong-do finally sighs and gives her the whole truth of his illustrious family lineage. Even he knows that the severely long answer will confuse her, and says aloud that he thinks he’s arrived to a world three hundred years from where he came.
He takes this realization with calm acceptance, while she’s the one who seems to be freaking out as she tries to piece together the whole story, and ends up laughing in his face instead. A time traveler? Pfft, yeah right.
Boong-do words it in such a way that makes Hee-jin realize that he’s the one suffering here, and he even thanks her for understanding with his usual calm smile. I think I’m in love.
Hee-jin catches herself when she starts to believe him, though he’s sure that he’ll be able to clear up her confusion when he gets his talisman back. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to find her missing bag.
The search takes him into the bathroom (where he does find her bag and his talisman), but Hee-jin receives an unexpected visitor in the form of an incredibly pissed off Na-jung. She’s come with flowers for the ‘sick’ patient, but then sets to beating Hee-jin with them in a fit over the article slandering her name.
Since it was Dong-min’s doing, this all comes as a surprise to Hee-jin, who was innocent in all this. And just when Na-jung readies to hit her again, Boong-do comes to the rescue by physically restraining her and tossing her out of the room. Hee-jin teaches him how to lock the door, and Na-jung rails against the barrier ineffectually.
Hee-jin only starts crying over what just happened when Boong-do notices her cheek is bleeding, though it’s not just about that – she’s crying because she can’t understand him, either. He offers her some soothing teachings from Confucius (basically, she needn’t try to understand everything all at once) that don’t necessarily serve to calm her mind, but they work as a method to distract her from the problems tormenting her.
With a smile on his face he brandishes the talisman, and tells her that he’s going to change into his old clothes before he goes back to his time, or else he’ll stand out too much.
Meanwhile, Na-jung’s manager finds her on the way out of the hospital. They’re in big trouble because Boong-do saw what she did, so she orders him to go find out who it is.
The two share light conversation with an introduction on Hee-jun’s part, while Boong-do changes into his Joseon regalia in the bathroom. He asks her why she disguises herself as Queen In-hyun when her name is Choi Hee-jin. She attempts to explain what acting is while he fishes around in her toiletries, finally coming upon lipstick.
She checks to make sure the coast is clear, though he tells her that he won’t be leaving the way he came. Confused, Hee-jin approaches the bathroom door while Boong-do reads the talisman aloud…
And he disappears, just like that. Hee-jin’s jaw drops once she walks into an empty bathroom, and tilts her head in utter confusion when the writing Boong-do left her on the mirror (in her lipstick) begins to ripple strangely.
I haven’t fallen for a drama hero this badly in a while, but I just love everything about Boong-do. There’s something very refreshing about his entire way of being that’s a welcome change from incorrigible leads who only learn kindness once they find love. The best part is that he’s not just a stereotypical nice guy, so it’s not even like a second lead got swapped with the first. He’s got a wonderful amount of layers and is played capably with such a strong sense of character. He really got to shine this episode.
For instance, he has the biggest right to overreact (time traveling and that whole bit), but he took the higher road and comforted Hee-jin whenever she was freaking out. I love that while he’s not overly comedic he has a very warm sense of good humor, enough to laugh at how silly his own situation is. It’s like he’s transcended being just a good sport to being one of the best sports ever in the history of ever, ever. A capable lead who’s able to laugh at himself? A-mazing. More please, and thank you.
In any story dealing with something as fantastical as time travel, how seriously we take things depends mostly on the person doing the traveling. In that sense, Boong-do’s attitude sets the tone perfectly – there are times to be serious, but there are times we can laugh too. And surprisingly enough, the balance between comedy and drama doesn’t feel schizophrenic. The nice thing about his very controlled reactions is that he has places to go as a character, so if/when we eventually do see him freak out, we’ll know that – for lack of a better term – shit got real.
I’m liking Hee-jin so far, who is there to give us the usual gut reactions to the more fantastical stuff, though I also like that her rampant sense of curiosity keeps her from disengaging entirely. She wouldn’t be all that capable of handling a scaredy-pants traveler, and she struck gold as far as Boong-do’s personality is concerned. We’ve already got Dong-min to fill the bickering quota, so I’m liking the idea of Boong-do being her human xanax. A hero that ideally doesn’t make the heroine’s life a living hell before they find true love? Count me in.