Queen In-hyun’s Man is shaping up to become one of my favorite recent shows, with its well-balanced, well-paced, well-directed execution. The story zooms by so quickly that I’m always wanting more at the end of an episode, and vaguely frustrated when there aren’t more. This episode gives us more of the show’s trademark blending of adorable and suspenseful, which isn’t a combination you’d ordinarily expect in a drama. But ordinary is hardly the name of the game here.
SONG OF THE DAY
Queen In-hyun’s Man OST – “지금 만나러 갑니다” (I’m Going To Meet You Now)
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EPISODE 5 RECAP
After impulsively kissing Boong-do and playing it off as an ordinary modern-day custom, Hee-jin walks away cringing at her awkward lie. She doesn’t see that her manager Soo-kyung has arrived to overhear her offering Boong-do a ride back to the park (though thankfully, she hasn’t seen the kiss itself).
Hee-jin attempts to distract her to allow Boong-do the chance to slip away, but dogged Soo-kyung chases him down and insists on giving him that ride.
Hee-jin hurriedly tells him to follow her lead, knowing they’re in for the third degree, and sure enough Soo-kyung starts in on the rapid-fire questioning right away. Hee-jin swoops in to answer all the questions, introducing him as the grad student history expert who’s been helping her brush up for the drama.
Soo-kyung warns Boong-do playfully that he’s “just Hee-jin’s style” and that he ought to be careful around her, because she might come on to him. HA.
Boong-do asks, “Come… onto? What does that mean?” Soo-kyung makes lip-smacking sounds and says, “Watch your lips. She can get carried away with her passions.” Hee! This would be merely mortifying if it weren’t so spot-on; given what just happened, it’s downright hysterical.
Boong-do laughs to himself and Hee-jin lamely protests, cringing in embarrassment. Then, to make the humiliation complete, when they arrive at the park Soo-kyung holds her hand out to say goodbye, and Boong-do confirms, “Is this how you normally say goodbye? Is there any other way?” Ha, I knew he wasn’t buying her excuse. Soo-kyung demonstrates a hand-wave as the alternative, and Hee-jin just about dies.
And then, Boong-do turns to Hee-jin and offers his hand for a parting shake. Can a body die twice?
Soo-kyung doesn’t buy a word of Hee-jin’s explanation, of course, and insists on Boong-do’s real identity. Hee-jin sticks to her history-teacher line and assures Soo-kyung that they won’t be meeting anymore.
Hee-jin goes home and turns to that most favored tool of girls with crushes: She googles Boong-do. (Or, should I say, Daums him.) She uses his full name and official court title, but comes up with no hits. Puzzling, since his faction won the political struggle; therefore Boong-do should have had a successful career and left some sort of record, right?
Dong-min calls Soo-kyung to check in on Hee-jin; he’s seen the library photos, which have already popped up online, which Soo-kyung plays off as a simple research trip. She asks about the hospital psycho situation, which Dong-min blames on his manager—he must’ve missed the psycho’s escape because he was too busy flirting with the nurses. The manager points out that the shower doors were still tied shut, though, so the disappearance remains a mystery.
With the library pics online already, Soo-kyung confirms with Hee-jin that there’s zero possibility of scandalous photos with her history teacher surfacing. Hee-jin assures her that they’re fine… but has a harrowing thought: Do all elevators have cameras in them?
Soo-kyung immediately knows something bad happened and shrieks into her towel, while Hee-jin wails, “I only thought about photos, not security cameras!”
Off to the library they go, to try to sweet-talk their way with the security office. Hee-jin has come clean about the kiss and Soo-kyung is fuming, especially when Hee-jin says they’re not in a relationship—that’s worse! A kiss would be understandable with a boyfriend, but some random dude?
Hee-jin defends herself, saying that Boong-do’s a guy who might disappear at any moment. With that uncertainty in the air and time ticking, she just acted on the urge—you know, like in action movies when the heroes get a goodbye kiss before heading into battle. Haha. Soo-kyung screams, “That’s the movies!”
Soo-kyung spins a tale of poor Hee-jin getting pickpocketed in the elevator, saying that it’s a delicate situation. They suspect Hee-jin’s boyfriend was the culprit, but they’d like to confirm it before going to the police with accusations…
The guard clucks in sympathy and agrees to help, but it turns out he doesn’t need to: the cameras were out of commission at the time of the kiss/pickpocketing. The girls hilariously fake disappointment through their relief.
As Soo-kyung chatters away, Hee-jin spots something on the real-time cameras monitoring the darkened library lobby—a familiar, tall silhouette is walking inside…
Hee-jin slips away, and sure enough, there he is, reading the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty. She moves him out of the camera’s sightline and points out the little machines on the ceiling that capture his movements, saying that he’s lucky she saw him first; if the guard had reported him, he would’ve gotten carted off to jail. Boong-do sighs in dismay: “I thought I was being careful, but I ended up acting stupidly anyway.”
Hee-jin good-naturedly blames him for sending her running all over town, first to help him and then to cover it up. Boong-do says he came back after hours to spare her the inconvenience, but she points out that they ended up meeting anyway. Why is that?
Boong-do: “Our meeting must not be a coincidence, but an inevitability. Do you not suppose there must be a reason for it?”
Hee-jin is struck by his words and also disgruntled, in the sense that he’s too good for her to resist. She grumbles again that he’s a player, which gets him good and curious, wondering about the word she keeps using. Ha. I can’t wait till you find out.
She asks what he’s here to read, and he replies that since he found what he was looking for, it’s time to think about his own life, ponder his future career. She teases him that she did a little search and couldn’t find much on him, so he must not have been important. He laughs that she must’ve made a mistake.
A call from Soo-kyung interrupts the conversation, so it’s time for them to say their goodbyes. Boong-do notes that her friend is pretty suspicious—not about him, but about Hee-jin’s overly passionate ways. Hee-jin launches into a defense of her so-called goodbye methods, saying that there are lots of ways to say goodbye, but that hers is the “most polite, most ideal” method. Haha.
He can’t help laughing, and she accuses him of not trusting her. He assures her that he does trust her, because who else could he trust if not her? She’s been his only contact here, his teacher in the ways of this world.
Soo-kyung interrupts again, this time having joined them on the floor. Now it’s really time to leave, but there’s a deep reluctance on both sides. So they stand there looking at each other, saying the words but not quite ready to separate.
Finally Hee-jin heads off, sending one look back at him, and after a second he goes off after her and intercepts her exit. He checks to make sure that they’re safely out of the camera’s range, and then… swoops in with a kiss. Eeee!
She’s breathless and stunned. Reminding her that she’d told him to mind his manners, he asks, “Did I do it right this time?” Ohhhh yeah, I’ll say.
I’m sure Boong-do understands exactly what the kiss is, but he can’t help teasing her; he says with a straight face that in his time, this is an act reserved for lovers. How curious that it should be a goodbye gesture here: “But I’ll trust whatever you teach me.” He smiles. Cheeky bastard.
But that deflates the wind from her sails, and she tells him that this is what she means by player—the kind of guy who does stuff like this.
Then Soo-kyung comes to collect her, and with one backward look at Boong-do, Hee-jin leaves.
Boong-do continues reading, finding the part describing his meeting with the king “today” (Boong-do’s Joseon and Seoul timelines happen on the same day, just centuries apart, so it’s the scene he lived earlier today). Then he comes to tomorrow’s entry… when he is charged with the murder in the palace library.
He flips forward, reading of how he is declared a traitor, stripped of his office and rank, and exiled. Only to suddenly fall ill and die shortly thereafter.
Upon his return to Joseon, Boong-do drinks with Han-dong, mulling over this new information. It’s a reality check for him, because he’s been feeling safe thanks to the talisman—but safety from a sword isn’t the same as safety from illness. If “illness” is even the real cause for his death.
Boong-do decides to proceed by first confirming whether the other entries in the Annals are accurate. Then he instructs Han-dong to take himself and Yoon-wol out of Hanyang; once things start happening, they’ll be safer away from the capital.
Modern day. On the drama set, King Sukjong and Queen In-hyun—Dong-min and Hee-jin, that is—are in the middle of a moving, intimate scene that ends in a tearful embrace. The director calls cut, satisfied with the take, and tells Hee-jin to keep up her soild performance.
Na-jung is among the observers, dressed in her court lady garb (so, before she ascends to royal consort status and begins wreaking havoc). Dong-min notices her pouting and grabs Hee-jin closer to send the message to Na-jung that he’s not interested. The crew, meanwhile, calls enthusiastically for a bed scene.
Not amused, Hee-jin shoves him away and tells him to cut it out. Dong-min asks if she’s seen more of her stalker, and offers to take care of him for her. Sadly (for her), she has not. She sighs glumly to herself, because it’s been two weeks and no sign of Boong-do.
When the scriptwriter praises Hee-jin on her delivery and asks if she has questions with the script, Hee-jin asks about a royal advisor named Kim Boong-do. She explains that it was a name that came up in her studies that made her curious.
The writer isn’t familiar with the name, but she fires up the computer to check—you can search the Annals online these days, which Hee-jin hadn’t known. She chides herself for going to the trouble of going to the library when she didn’t need to, but the comment earns her praise from the writer, who’s touched at the level of her dedication. Heh.
The writer finds his name and confirms that he passed the state exam in first place (Hee-jin: “So he wasn’t lying”) and was subsequently appointed to his advisory position… until he was accused of treason in 1694 (which is Boong-do’s “present” time).
Sure enough, back in our Joseon timeline, Boong-do is arrested for crimes relating to the dead body in the library. This causes a stir among his colleagues, but Boong-do has been expecting this and calmly goes. As he’s taken away, bound in ropes, he sees the treacherous eunuch smirking his way.
The king delivers his judgment: Boong-do is to be exiled to Jeju Island. Simultaneously in the present day, Hee-jin listens in shock as she learns that he died of illness right away.
Hee-jin barely listens as the scriptwriter continues that it’s too bad Boong-do, part of Queen In-hyun’s supporting faction, couldn’t hold on until she was reinstated—he just happened to die right before that. Happened to, my foot. Reading his birth and death dates, the writer muses how it’s a shame to have died at his young age.
Hee-jin starts to panic, thinking out loud, “But he’s twenty-seven now… and it’s March now…” Hee-jin quickly tallies how many days are left till the fateful deathday, landing on, “Tomorrow?!”
Joseon times, Jeju Island. A servant brings Boong-do his food in his small cottage and urges him to eat up, right away. I’m trusting in our hero’s intelligence to avoid the food, even though he does pick up his spoon to dig in. When the woman takes his tray away soon thereafter, the guard checks its half-eaten contents, satisfied.
Back in the capital city, Minister Min confers with two partners in crime, both high-ranking cabinet members like himself, who inform him that Boong-do will have arrived in Jeju by now. One minister cackles about how it was a waste of a trip, since he could have died just as easily in Hanyang.
Minister Min is warier than his smug co-conspirators, thinking it odd that Boong-do never uttered one word of protest. The others say that he must have known it was no use and decided to give up, unconcerned with this detail. But these explanations aren’t convincing for Minister Min, who recalls Boong-do’s card-playing analogy about throwing away a good card when you draw an even better one. Boong-do must have another trick up his sleeve.
The two colleagues cackle that it doesn’t matter since he’s going to die soon. Plus, he’s on that remote island—what danger he? The minister counters that the remoteness isn’t necessarily a boon for them, because if something were to happen down there, it would take at least a month for them to hear of it.
That idea jolts him: “Could he have wanted to be exiled? So he could plan something quietly?” Aww, yeah, I knew smartypants would come through.
Jeju. Boong-do leaves his guarded hut and walks over to some shrubbery where he dumped his rice. A dead rat lies beside the discarded food. When the same servant brings him his next meal, she visibly recoils to see Boong-do healthy and alive, sitting at his desk like normal.
He asks why she’s so surprised—does he look healthy to her? She answers yes, and he asks, “Then tell me what you think. If this healthy me were to die within a half-day, what serious illness would cause it? Poison?” He holds up a spoonful of his food to her, as if to say, I’m onto you.
The woman scurries out with her tray, spooked, and reports to two armed men. The men suppose they’ll have to just go ahead and kill him the regular way, since subterfuge didn’t work.
That night, Boong-do contemplates his talisman while thinking of his last conversation with the monk, just before his arrest. He had explained how the charm saved his life—but then after skirting death by the sword, he came face to face with a different death (illness/poisoning).
He had wondered: Would he be able to die an old man, or would death come for him again? Ooooh, are we dealing with a Final Destination scenario here? That would be badass.
Boong-do had asked the monk, “At first I thought of it as incredible good luck, but now I am filled with so many doubts. Why did the head monk give me this talisman? Is it to console me, to tell me not to die since the thing I wish for will happen? Or does it mean that a good future awaits, so I am to find a way to survive? When I went to that world and met that woman, was that coincidence, or inevitability?”
Outside his hut that night, as Boong-do sits contemplating this dilemma, the two assassins creep closer to the building with weapons drawn. One takes aim with his bow and arrow, aiming it at Boong-do’s shadow on the paper window, and shoots.
The arrow flies right by Boong-do’s head, lodging into the opposite wall, just barely grazing his temple.
He hurriedly tucks the talisman into his robes, then ducks out of the way of a second arrow. The door is kicked in, and Boong-do attacks his attacker from behind—with a rolled-up book, HA—and heads outside, where the second assassin charges with a sword.
In the midst of the struggle, the blade slices through his topknot and cuts his hair loose. But again he fends off the intruder with his book, parrying his sword and aiming well-timed blows to the man’s head and body, bringing him down.
Hee-jin, meanwhile, sinks into a funk. It’s premiere day for her drama, but she’s lost in thought and a shell of her formerly bubbly self. Soo-kyung wonders what’s up with her, but Hee-jin says she can’t tell her, “Because if I say, you’ll think I’m crazy. You might even drag me off to the loony bin.”
Soo-kyung urges her to fess up, promising she won’t think she’s crazy. Famous last words? Hee-jin says miserably, “Someone I know died.” Soo-kyung gasps and asks who and when. Hee-jin: “He was accused of treason three hundred years ago. That’s why I’m so sad.” HAHA, well that’s one way to put it.
To Soo-kyung’s credit, she at least tries to contain her reaction while Hee-jin starts tearing up. She cries, “You think I’m crazy, don’t you? You think it’s absurd for me to cry over someone dying three hundred years ago, don’t you?” Soo-kyung: “Y-yeah… a little…”
A phone call comes in from an unknown number, which goes ignored. Hee-jin cries harder, saying, “He must really have died. What do I do? He died three days ago but I haven’t heard from him since.” She cracks me up. Well, she’s going to think you’re crazy if you phrase it like that.
Soo-kyung tries to find a way to make sense of her words—is she talking about religion? Like, Jesus? Hee-jin laments, “Well, I never did have luck with men. Whenever I’m attracted to one, he turns out to be a playboy or dies young.” HAHA.
The phone call comes in again, and they wonder about the strange area code. The waitress tells them it’s from Jeju Island, and they wonder who they know down there. Soo-kyung starts to answer, but Hee-jin suddenly perks up, grabbing the phone excitedly.
A familiar voice asks, “How are you?” It’s Boong-do, safe and sound after all, instantly flooding Hee-jin with relief. She confirms, “You’re not dead!”
He tells her he managed to evade death, and pats himself on the back for learning how to use a phone. Dude, I’m pretty sure evading death is the more impressive feat. On the other hand, cheating death took about a minute, and he explains that it took him three days to learn how to use the phone, that’s how hard it was.
What an interesting development for Boong-do to become suspicious of his life-saving talisman. And terribly smart, though I should expect no less of our brainy scholar. I love the Final Destination-esque fear that Death will come back to claim him, because if there’s one concept that Koreans (or maybe it’s Korean dramas) tend to believe in, it’s that things happen for a reason, that there’s a force greater than us.
In Boong-do’s case, the question is just how active that force is; will it allow him to tweak the rules a bit and escape unscathed, or will it come back with a vengeance? Death has come for him multiple times, so will it be satisfied that it at least made the effort to claim him? Or is the accounting hand of fate annoyingly exact, demanding every last pound of flesh owed it?
As an extension of that idea, I like that he fought his assassins, instead of just deciding to let the talisman save him. Part of that is that he’s learning to be wary of powers he doesn’t understand, so it makes sense that he’d become more judicious in when to apply the life-saving powers. Which is a good thing, since I’m not sure it would make for an exciting drama hero if he just had himself shot at, for example, every time he wanted to nip out for a bite to eat. He’d be MY hero (hey, sometimes laziness is efficiency), but maybe not the pillar of righteousness we’d expect of our model scholar.
Furthermore, choosing to fight makes him an active hero, in more than just the literal sense. It would be completely passive of him to say, “Oh, I’m being threatened, guess I can just leap now”—and he’d have every justification to do just that. But instead, he’s going to stand his ground on his own turf and fight as much as he can before he’s saved by the magic. In this sense, his literal fighting is analogous to his philosophical fight; he’ll do everything he can to go down swinging. Even if he doesn’t technically have to.
As a lovely side note, this proves—over and over—that Boong-do is willing to fight to the death for his cause. Because he literally does that, time and time again. It’s true that he doesn’t actually die, thanks to the enchantment, but that doesn’t change the fact that he pushes it to that limit every time.
Meanwhile, I’m loving that growing bond between Boong-do and Hee-jin, which is palpable and adorable. I like that it’s not purely based on a mutual attraction, although that’s always fun, but that they’re good people who help each other and have a natural rapport. You can practically feel the longing in the air when they’re about to part ways, needing to get on with their own lives but drawn to each other anyway. I felt it in the elevator in the last episode when time was ticking down and Boong-do was reaching for his talisman, and the feeling it gave me mirrored the feeling Hee-jin must have been battling—the desperate search for some excuse to prolong the interaction.
And then that pull was there again, even stronger this time, when they met again at the library and it was his turn to make that move. Reciprocity = so hot.
- Thing vs. Thing: Time-traveling Heroes
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 4
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 3
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 2
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 1
- Queen In-hyun’s Man’s additional stills and teasers
- Queen In-hyun’s Man casts rivals, releases stills
- Queen In-hyun’s Man releases romantic promos