Drama Recaps
Gaksital: Episode 5
by | June 13, 2012 | 97 Comments

Woo, I think Gaksital is settling into its pacing. I didn’t necessarily think the first four episodes were rushed, but they WERE crammed full of information and names and setups that made it a challenge to keep everything straight. But with setup established, now we can back off a bit with the expository flashbacks and get right to the heart of the action, with plenty of secret identities, conflicted (anti-)heroes, thwarted romances, and jealousies running rampant to keep the energy level pumping throughout.


Gaksital OST – “Goodbye Day” by Ulala Session [ Download ]

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Kang-to is attacked in broad daylight by masked members of the Far East Circus, and fights them off amidst the cacophony of the performance.

Kenji watches from a nearby building and smirks. In a flashback, we see that circus traitor Kye-soon had gone to the police to report the planned assassination of Kang-to. But her efforts to play rat go wasted on Kenji, who could not care less about Kang-to in danger. No, scratch that—he cares very much, and would do his best to facilitate it.

So Kenji roots for the circus troupe to do their worst, and curses when Kang-to’s self-defense skills come into good use. He has catlike reflexes and dodges daggers, rolling midair to avoid punches and land solid kicks of his own.

Then that woman in hanbok leaps at him with knife in hand, and Kang-to shoots. The gunshot frightens everyone into running away, abandoning their murder attempt. Kenji grimaces and pulls out his own pistol: If you want something done right, gotta do it yerself…

Kang-to recognizes the dagger dropped by his assailant, and with horror reveals her face under the mask: Mok Dan, aka Boon-yi, aka first love and current nemesis.

He barely has time to register this before Kenji shoots for his head. Thankfully, Kenji is as inept at seeing this through as he is being a decent human being, and his bullet goes long. Moments later, windowpanes shatter right next to Kenji’s head.

Kenji peers out the shattered window and sees… a third figure joining the fray: Gaksital. His cane doubles as a projectile device, like a slingshot-slash-rifle, and Kenji starts shooting at Gaksital instead.

Kang-to rushes Mok Dan to the hospital in a panic, thinking back to his childhood promise to find her. “Just stay alive,” he’d begged her then. Although obviously she can’t die at this stage of the drama, I get a perverse sense of satisfaction in his fear that he might be the very reason that promise goes unfulfilled. He deserves to stew a little.

Kang-to calls her Boon-yi and pleads with her not to die, and what does it say that I both feel for his pain and enjoy it a little? This drama has turned me into a sadist.

At the hospital, the doctor takes one look at Mok Dan’s bloody chest and turns away: They don’t treat common Korean folk here.

Kang-to pulls his gun on the doc, identifying himself and demanding treatment. It’s not funny, but I swear, we should make it a drinking game every time someone pulls a gun on someone in this show. The doctor concedes that they can make exceptions, but only if the hospital director allows it.

The director is, however, currently attending to the very fussy Count Lee Shi-yong at home. Countess Hwa-kyung rolls her eyes at her husband’s infantile complaining, which until last episode had me rolling my eyes as well. But since the flashback showed us a very serious, no-nonsense baritone version of the Count, I’m assuming this whiny manchild is his cover—his own little Gaksital trick. Since nobody in this drama is allowed to have fewer than two identities, apparently.

Dr. Oh humors the count, who has stressed himself sick. Count Lee fumes at being locked up in his own home; with Judge Choi and Dr. Oh both falling victim to the bridal-masked freedom fighter, he’s also at risk. Dr. Oh reminds the count that an agent from Tokyo is being sent to take care of Gaksital, but that’s not good enough for the count. (They must refer to Kishokai’s Rie, newly arrived with orders to dispatch the Joseon hero.)

Into this scene bursts Kang-to, desperate for the director’s greenlight to treat the girl. He’s smart enough to frame his request with a credible reason: “This girl must be saved in order to catch Gaksital.”

Mok Dan is admitted to surgery, and while waiting Kang-to puts in a call to his sidekick Abe: Find which of the city’s circus troupes was at the scene of his attack today.

When Dr. Oh emerges from surgery, Kang-to rushes to ask about the girl’s condition. The doctor, still chafing at being taken hostage, orders him to catch Gaksital no matter what. Kang-to fervently promises.

Dr. Oh finds his reaction too desperate, however, and puts in a call to Kenji just in case, saying that Kang-to’s a little too interested in the health of his “bait.” Gaksital’s interference in today’s murder attempt further cements Kenji’s suspicions that Kang-to is on his side.

Kenji’s second-in-command, Koiso (seriously, another K-name?), reports that their informant girl isn’t giving up any information. Sadly for circus girl Kye-soon, her attempt to warn the police has just gotten her a day of torture; the coincidental appearance of Gaksital makes Kenji think she drew him to the scene so Gaksital could kill him.

Kye-soon sobs, saying she only thought to earn herself reward money for saving Kang-to from assassination. Kenji gently pushes her hair out of her face and softens his voice, which is frankly a lot more creepy than him yelling, and asks, “Want to be my secret spy? Want me to set you up in riches?” Ah, she’s revealed her motivation, so he’ll take advantage of that mercenary nature.

Kenji drops money at her feet, and that’s enough to convince her; she grabs the bills. He orders her to report on the movements of the circus, and Mok Dan in particular.

The mood is tense at the Far East Circus, where Boss Jo decides he’s shutting the circus down. In light of their botched assassination attempt, he realizes that he can’t guarantee the safety of his members, and Kang-to is bound to find them sooner or later. Boss Jo promises to take responsibility for Mok Dan’s safety, and tells his members that he’ll put an advertisement into the newspaper once he deems it safe enough to reconvene.

This doesn’t work for Kye-soon’s new spy job, and she protests—if they shut down, they’ll look more guilty and attract Kang-to’s suspicions. The other members are swayed by her logic.

Kang-to keeps vigil at Mok Dan’s hospital bedside, and begs her to wake up: “How you’ve lived all this while, how you got involved with Gaksital—there are so many things I have to hear from you.”

We know that Kang-to hadn’t really meant it when he vowed to use and kill his first love in order to get Gaksital—when push came to shove, he proved he wasn’t capable of it—but Shunji doesn’t know that. He mulls over Kang-to’s declaration, trying not to believe that his friend would tear the girl to pieces to achieve his goal.

He shakes the thought aside, but in runs Sun-hwa with bad news: Mok Dan was shot by Kang-to. Damn.

Shunji tears out of the school, unseen by Kye-soon playing spy.

Mok Dan finally opens her eyes, and finds herself handcuffed to her bed. Still a criminal. Recalling why she’s here, she struggles to escape the cuffs, just as Kang-to steps inside… and smiles at her?

Suddenly all kindness and light, Kang-to asks if she knows him, and almost introduces himself with his other name before stopping. She can’t understand why he’d call it a relief that she’s alive, and curtly asks about the fate of the other members.

Kang-to takes that as admission of the circus’ involvement, and asks which one it is. He urges her to speak up—Gaksital’s one of them, isn’t he? If she confesses, he’ll spare her and her circus-mates.

She glares and tells him he’s wrong: “Even if you spared me, do you think I’d tell YOU?” He entreats her to take a good look at him: “Don’t you know who I am?”

She fires back that she sure does—he’s the bastard feeding off his own people, working for their damned oppressors. Hopes dashed, Kang-to yells in frustration. He grabs her shirtfront, and this is the scene Shunji stumbles into. Shunji punches Kang-to in the face and sends him sprawling.

Afterward, the boys sit outside as Shunji says he’d told himself Kang-to wasn’t serious about his threats, and that he’d had faith in him. Kang-to’s totally surprised at Shunji’s accusation, “You knew she was Esther and you shot her anyway!”

Shunji concedes that he knows how badly Kang-to wants to catch Gaksital, but this is Esther! “How could you know how I felt and still shoot her?” Shunji doesn’t reailze that Kang-to hadn’t until this very moment realized the love triangle connection.

In shock, Kang-to recalls the half-naked girl in the closet, and Shunji confirms that it was Esther. Shunji adds that he’s still Kang-to’s friend, and will continue to be: “But I can’t watch you trying to kill Esther. Do me this favor.”

Kang-to reels.

Rie is informed by her bodyguard Jun that Kang-to is in charge of the Gaksital investigation, under the orders of Director Kono. She plans to get rid of Kono—he’s an obstacle—and orders Jun to find out everything about Kang-to.

Flashback to five years ago, before Rie was Rie. Let’s use her original name here—Chae Hong-joo—back when she was a gisaeng here in Kyungsung. On this day, she wears mourning white and tells the Japanese clients that she cannot serve them today.

Chairman Ueno is one of the guests, and his bodyguard disregards her refusal, insisting she work even though she explains that this is the day her dear father was ruthlessly killed when men robbed the family under the pretext of raising funds for the independence army.

The bodyguard draws his sword, but the gisaeng proprietress begs his understanding: Hong-joo was born a yangban (nobility) and doesn’t know her place, having come here as a nine-year-old after her father’s murder.

Chairman Ueno holds out his cup to Hong-joo, telling her to have a drink. Hong-joo’s eyes fill with furious tears and she tells him to slit her throat instead. So the bodyguard complies, raising his sword to strike—and in flies a policeman to deflect the blow. Kang-to.

OHHH. So she does know him! Innnteresting.

Kang-to fights the bodyguard, doing pretty well until he finds himself back up against a pillar with a sword to his neck. It’s Chairman Ueno who intervenes, sparing Kang-to, who in turn earns Hong-joo’s gratitude.

Now Rie says his name, wondering if this is what we call Fate.

It’s probably the same question torturing Kang-to, as he tries to process that Boon-yi is Esther is Mok Dan. I know, honey, all these names confuse me too.

Kang-to returns to the hospital room, only to find that the bed is empty. Abe joins him there and reports that Shunji took her for a walk, and Kang-to goes running outside.

Thankfully she’s still on the premises, but now he has to watch Shunji and Esther being smiley and comfortable with each other. Their smiles simultaneously fade at the sight of him, and Mok Dan pointedly averts her gaze.

Furiously, Kang-to storms right past them, then slaps (!) the officer who let them outside. Reminding him of Mok Dan’s crimes, he unleashes his temper on him instead, and Shunji steps in to take the blame for making the request.

Kang-to rattles off the exact legal clause Shunji violated and its punishment; he orders him to stay away, because he won’t be permitted to visit anymore. Then he fumes while Shunji gently helps Mok Dan walk back to her room.

At the count’s mansion, the countess chats with her stepson Tamao (Kang-to’s nightclub buddy) about an upcoming formal party. There’s tension between these two (he calls her Countess instead of Mother) though they cover it with brittle laughs.

They are joined by the arrival of Rie, who is presented as the singer recommended by Chief Kimura for the party. She prettily thanks the countess for giving her this opportunity to perform in front of the governor.

Tamao is immediately smitten, but the countess is sour; I’m thinking it’s mostly jealousy at play, but she uses Rie’s wording as her excuse to take offense. Rie quickly takes a contrite attitude and appeases the countess with a gift of jewelry.

Kenji draws a chart with three names—Gaksital, Kang-to, Mok Dan—and tries to puzzle out their connection. He’s sure that Gaksital and Kang-to are working together, and so is Gaksital and Mok Dan. The big question: What about Kang-to and the girl?

By the way, I know his relationship chart is just a visual aid, but I’m still tickled over how stumped Kenji is over the most basic character map. He muses aloud, “His hyung…?” But Kenji dismisses the idea of the village idiot being a hero.

Kye-soon arrives to make her report: Shunji was visited by circus girl Sun-hwa, then beelined for the hospital. Therefore, Shunji and Mok Dan are most certainly acquainted.

Shunji is at the moment being introduced by Sun-hwa to her circus leaders, all three of whom—Boss Jo, Shin Nan-da, and Dong-nyun—eye him suspiciously. Sun-hwa assures them that he’s not like other Japanese people, but they also know he’s friends with Kang-to. Double strike.

Shunji is here to play peacemaker, telling them that he doesn’t want anybody to get hurt—not the circus, not Mok Dan, not Kang-to. He assures them that Kang-to won’t treat Mok Dan as badly as before now that he knows she’s his old friend, but warns that trying to break her out of police custody or continuing attacks on Kang-to will escalate the trouble.

His earnestness wins him Boss Jo’s approval, who says it’s shocking that Kang-to would have such a friend.

Shunji arrives home to a furious brother; Kenji confronts him about his association with Mok Dan. Shunji says that he knew her as a child and happened to run into her recently, that’s it.

But Kenji doesn’t buy such a simple answer. He declares that he finally unraveled the mystery: “That bastard saved that girl. He saved Lee Kang-to. He loves Joseon like it’s himself.” Gasp. No… you’re not accusing…

Kenji barks out more clues, like how the villain is also skilled with the sword. Shunji doesn’t follow, but Kenji accuses him of showing his loyalty to the side that insults their own Father. He pulls his pistol on baby brother, and Shunji asks incredulously, “You can’t be thinking I’m Gaksital?”

Kenji tells him to prove it. That pushes Shunji too far, and he knocks the gun aside and punches Kenji. The brothers duke it out, and despite his gentle appearance, Shunji is satisfyingly tough in hand-to-hand combat. He gets Kenji in a lock, his knee to bro’s throat, and raises his fist to deliver a blow—just as Koiso arrives.

The interruption recalls Shunji to his senses, and he backs off. Kenji’s being called by his father.

Kenji’s misconception is soon to be corrected: Kang-san prepares for another bout of freedom-fighting and darts in front of Kenji’s car. Kenji and Koiso jump out with guns drawn, and Shunji hears the sound of gunfire from inside the house.

Kang-san knocks out the sidekick and corners Kenji in the yard, approaching menacingly. Shunji interrupts, sending Gaksital running. Kenji’s mostly uninjured, but he has to deal with his oh-so-clever theory crashing down around him in shambles. He screams in frustration, and I can’t help but giggle at his meltdown. Aw, and he worked so hard to connect those dots.

Chief Kimura gives Kenji the order to guard Choil Bank in anticipation of upcoming public disorder, but Kenji’s glance falls on his Gaksital relationship map and realizes something. He sends Koiso in his stead.

What bank trouble? The news is soon out: the bank is freezing everyone’s funds. It was clearly an orchestrated ploy by those in power at the Government General, because just the other day there were announcements of favorable interest rates to get everyone to deposit money.

This situation is explained to us via the Angel Club regulars: hapless Manager Bong is aghast to have fallen for the ploy, while the shrewd club madam Tasha smirks that he’s the fool for trusting the Government General. Manager Bong staggers off in horror, crying, “My money… my money…”

Rie arrives at the club, and there’s a bit of deja vu in her reception: Once again Tamao smiles appreciatively, while the glamorous older lady Tasha slits her eyes. Careful, you’ve got some green showing.

Ah, the Choil Bank president, Jo Young-geun, is one of our Council of Five, and he splits stacks of cash with his conspirators. The bank may be frozen, but there’s no reason they can’t take advantage to line their own wallets.

The scene outside the bank is, predictably, chaos. The gates are locked with only the announcement that payments are being stopped—with no guarantees of ever being made again—and the commoners’ demands for their money fall on deaf ears.

The police arrive, led by Koiso, and subdue the crowd in the only way they know how, by beating them into submission.

Bank President Jo cackles over the phone to Chief Kimura that just because his bank is going bankrupt doesn’t mean he has to be poor. Funny, here I thought that was the very definition, but remember: This Council be evil, yo. They have a “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” conversation where Kimura assures the president that he’ll support him, and they allude to Kono being a thorn in their sides. Darn those men of integrity, always messing with one’s plans to embezzle and oppress.

President Jo sends off an armored car carrying the bank’s cash… which gets intercepted by Gaksital. Yay!

Our white knight easily sends the bank guards running in fear. Later that night, a man in a suit delivers packages—it’s Kang-san, making sure everyone gets what they deserve. That means that Chief Kimura opens his box to find… rotten fruit. Hee.

Kang-to is still at the hospital, plagued by the image of Shunji and Mok Dan looking cozy, wanting to check on her but stopping himself. Inside the room, Mok Dan removes her IV drip and looks for an escape route, managing to unstick a window. Her bullet wound sends her staggering, however, and her IV falls over.

Kang-to hears glass shattering and bursts into the room. He sizes up the mess and steers her clear of the broken glass, but she flings aside his arm, telling him not to touch her: “What do you care if I get hurt or not?”

He answers, “Why wouldn’t I care? If you get hurt…” He stops himself. Why?! Just tell her who you are! Instead, he falls back on his official excuse: “…then I can’t catch Gaksital.”

He picks her up and drops her in bed, reaching for his handcuffs. But he sees her reddened wrists from the last time and instead orders his officer to block the window and post a guard below. Then he sits on the couch in her room, intending to stay a good long while. Ha, are you actually “reading” your newspaper upside-down? That’s cute.

Abe bursts in to alert Kang-to of Gaksital’s latest caper: stealing all the money from Choil Bank’s armored car. Mok Dan can’t help but smile, while Kang-to tears out of there.

In the city, Gaksital literally runs from house to house, throwing a bundle of bills into each home. Aw, I almost wish I hadn’t seen City Hunter’s tuition episode to dull the effect, since it’s such a feel-good moment to see the citizens being buoyed by their hero.

Kang-san startles his mother upon his return home, and his belongings tumble to the ground. He puts his dummy persona on, but Mom spots the bridal mask at his feet, and Kang-san holds his breath nervously as he awaits her reaction.

Mom seems to make the connection, just as they hear the footsteps of Kenji and his officers outside. Mom hurriedly hides his belongings, and then they’re surrounded by officers with guns drawn.

Kenji has finally made the connection, thanks to his chart, and tells Kang-san he put on a great crazy act. Gun pointing at him, Kenji asks, “You’re Gaksital, aren’t you?”

Mom fires back that Kenji’s throwing around accusations willy-nilly, in fierce mama bear mode. Kenji figures okay, we’ll play this game, and shifts his gun sights to her instead.

Kang-san jerks to step in, but Mom turns to him before he can do anything and tells him, “Don’t be afraid. You are the eldest son of this Lee family. Your mother is so proud of you.” Oof, tear.

So here’s the dilemma: Give in to Kenji’s ploy and admit that Kang-san is Gaksital, or refuse to budge and let him kill Mom, to protect son and secret identity? Kang-san shakes his head at her, but Mom shakes hers right back at him. Goddamn, she’s a tough woman.

Kenji asks, “Harsh bastard. Are you really going to kill your mother?” Well, I’d argue that you’re the one doing the killing, buddy.

Kenji gives them to the count of three to cop to his identity. Kang-san and Mom have an intense battle of wills as Mom keeps her hold on his arm, insisting he remain silent. When Kenji calls three, Mom challenges him, “Go ahead! Shoot!” She grabs his hand, and the gun goes off. BANG!

Mom falls, shot in the belly, and even Kenji looks horrified. Kang-san trembles as he cradles Mom, who gasps in pain, and then he starts to have a breakdown. It’s not entirely unclear how much is his idiot act, and how much is pure grief, but he starts slapping himself, screaming and crying on the ground.

Koiso arrives to tell Kenji that they’ve just received word that Gaksital was just seen robbing the bank again. D’er, what?!

Kenji is just as startled, but his father is calling him to the scene of the crime and he runs off with a curse. I wish I could enjoy Kenji’s confusion yet again, but this time it’s just too damn sad.

The officers retreat, and Kang-san cries holding his mother. She gasps out, “K-kang-to, your brother… our Young… look after him…” And she dies. Kang-san wails in grief.


Oh, sadness. I’d been expecting hyung to die sooner or later (frankly, I thought sooner), but I didn’t see Mom’s death coming. I love that she found out her son’s true identity before dying, and rather than leaving him with recriminations or hurt (which she’s justified in feeling), she gave him her blessing. She was willing to die to save her son, both because that’s a mother’s instinct and because it’s something of the family way: the cause is greater than yourself.

This points to one of the drama’s more fascinating dichotomies, because Kang-to is the black sheep of his family not just in attitude but in ideology. I mentioned it in the initial recap, but it’s what makes his road to potential hero-dom so rich and complex, because he’s the pragmatist in the midst of a sea of highly principled idealists—Dad put the cause first, and so did hyung, and now Mom as well. It’s safe to say the same also holds true of Damsari, who valued fatherhood as a distant priority to the fight for freedom, and Mok Dan, who wholeheartedly agrees with her father.

Which isn’t to condemn the independence movement, because the occupation years were some of the ugliest times in Korean history, and certainly a dark period that has been hugely influential in shaping the country it is today. It’s just, well, our hero’s not on that side for this story. He’s the one who tries to keep living on a daily basis, sacrificing the big picture for the smaller one where his family is intact and alive. Kang-to’s a far cry from heroic or admirable, but in his motivations I can’t fault him.

I was pleasantly surprised that the drama revealed not only Mok Dan’s true identity to Kang-to but also her connection to Shunji. I was expecting that to be played out slowly, and thought perhaps the quietly suffering Shunji would find out the first-love story first. So yay for fast developments.

However, I confess I am growing impatient for the big catalyst to come already and turn Kang-to into Gaksital already. We all know it’s happening, and I’ll bet we’ve all got a pretty good idea of what happens to spur the transformation. I find Kang-san an admirable character, and his brotherly conflict with Kang-to does tug the heartstrings, but frankly while he’s still Gaksital, we’re dealing with a pretty familiar story. Aka, City Hunter: The Occupation Years. When girlfriday mentioned City Hunter in the previous recap, I hadn’t actually felt the drama was all that similar—it’s because Gaksital has such an intense historical context that I see it as a separate type of storytelling as City Hunter. But today’s storyline had a lot of familiar beats, down to the Council’s plotting and Gaksital’s solution, and I think as long as Kang-san is our main hero, we won’t be doing anything new—it’s as if Prosecutor were City Hunter’s little brother, maybe.

So I want to get to the next level, and I hope we get there quickly. I love City Hunter, but this drama has so much story that’s unique to itself that it should get there already.

Side note: Please, please, let’s refrain from using the term “Jap,” here or ever. Jap is NOT an acceptable abbreviation for Japanese, and is a pretty offensive racial slur. I’d like to believe that the times it has been used in comments haven’t been meant maliciously but purely out of unawareness of its meaning.

Even in the drama, there’s a word used by the Koreans that’s meant as a derogatory term for their colonial overlords, but I’ve made the conscious decision not to use the word “Jap” because, well, each language carries its own set of baggage, and the baggage attached to the English word is not the same as the Korean word. Something to be mindful of.


97 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. kbap

    Thank you so much for the recap! 🙂

  2. ally bell

    Thanks Javabeans!!!

  3. Arhazivory

    Thanks JB. And good sidenote – it really is considered derogatory.

    With that said….I started watching this and couldn’t stop thinking of Joo Won yelling ‘Beeeee…King Beee’ and running away from an insect in his room. Thanks a lot 1N2D, my mind is all confuzzled. lol.

    I loved this episode and was shocked that the mom died. I agree though….time for Kang To to transform. I think next episode he’ll definitely do it. Yes its a 24 ep drama but we don’t want the development to be too slow.


    • 3.1 llama

      It will never get old

      • 3.1.1 Arhazivory

        lol. Kang To~ya, its just a bee!

      • 3.1.2 JustJen

        haha, thank-you for this. I love how he’s working the aegyo with that cute voice. How is he so adorable?

      • 3.1.3 Still recovering from what was QIHM (aka MsB)

        Not mad at him! Hate bees and stings swell overly large on me so I avoid them.

        • ladida

          I LOVE YOUR NAME. I’m still recovering, too.

      • 3.1.4 sweetspring

        thanks for that clip, so freakin adorkable!!! he’s really a kid in a big, tall, handsome body.
        Joo Won the actor plays jealous, shy boyfriend types adorably well, Joo Won the kid meeting a bee is just plain old adorable!

    • 3.2 mary

      Bee…. King beeeeee!

      If Mok-Dan watched 1N2D, she’d have massive headaches too.

    • 3.3 Mawiie

      LOL why so cute??

      If Kenji saw this, he wouldn’t have waste his time and energy to try to assassinate Kang To. Who needs guns when you can just release a bee in his office?

  4. Shurlee

    Thank you Javabeans! I am so loving this drama 🙂

  5. Ani

    let’s refrain from using the term “Jap,” here or ever

    Whoa! Someone actually said that? *grimace* Painful subject indeed. Perhaps it means something less derogatory in other English speaking contries? *googles it* Yup, seems like it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jap) But it’s awesome that jb still went ahead and shared this little tidbit.

    On a lighter note. Shin Hyun-joon love over here.

    • 5.1 bishbash

      alot of people (especially out of the US i think) are not aware of the degratory meaning attached to the word “jap”. they mostly think of it as an abbreivation.

      • 5.1.1 Ani

        Perhaps it means something less derogatory in other English speaking countries… Yup, seems like it.


      • 5.1.2 canxi

        This is weird. I live in the US (New York City), but I learned when I was much younger that “Jap” is a derogatory term. I thought it was common knowledge all the time and had no idea people were using it as an abbreviation. That shocks me.

        Maybe, it’s because I’m black and my race has a derogatory term of it’s own, I guess the older people in my life felt it beneficiary for me and other kids to know the other “names” out there.

    • 5.2 watch the preview guys!~

      o.o i didn’t know that (i thought it was an abbreviation..)
      the japanese people also use a derogatory term for koreans too in the drama
      they sometimes use ‘jo-saeng-jin’ instead of ‘kang-goku-jin’ (?? not so sure on the romanizations..) which is a derogatory term for koreans in japanese o.o

      btw if anyone saw the preview…
      [SPOILER ALERT(? not really since it came out in the previews..-_-)]

      i think he does turn into gaksital and goes storming to kill Kenji saying something like “YOU KILLED MY MOTHER” but Shunji stops him
      idk it might be kangsan but he was hurt and that other guy, lee sun’s bodyguard was carrying him, so…

    • 5.3 ck1Oz

      Just for anyone’s info who are watching it from The Bridal Mask Team@ viki. We’ve retained the word because it is what the writer wrote.
      However we’ve added on this disclaimer.

      “Profanity and derogatory terms are direct translations of the screenwriters’ words and have been retained for authenticity”

      We are quite aware of those terms and there are actually Hangul subs on viki… which sorts of reinforces the point it is not the subbers’ interpretation or preference to use the word.

      Because the subbing team are mostly all ethnic Koreans there.


    • 5.4 Leona

      Thanks jb and Ani for explanation… I used this term a year or 2 ago here and I really didn’t understand why some people criticized me: for me it was an abbreviation. I live in an East European country that doesn’t speak English and usually Japanese people don’t live here, therefore it didn’t have any meaning except of an abbreviation.

      Back then I didn’t receive such an explanation … I was upset by the attitude of the commenters who didn’t bother to explain it to me, but they blamed me for my lack of knowledge – I don’t think anyone was born as a know-it-all -we all learn in our lifetime from other people or from our experiences.

    • 5.5 pepperandice

      great link, the wiki page, being from singapore(which speaks english as a first language for those who dont know) id have to agree 100% the term jap is plain and simple an abbreviation, there is literally zero extra meaning attached to it, if anything iv used that word a million times when commenting on how much i love japanese stuff (like youtube or whatever, and NO ONE ever commented back that the term was derogatory), i had NO IDEA it was considered a racial slur, really do think its an american thing more than anything else though

      i guess it depends on your stance on whether an insult will bother you and is truly considered an insult if the meaning/connotations of that word or phrase actually coincide with the sayers intentions, because i could get cussed out in bulgarian for example and i dont think id have much of a reaction because i have no idea how severe the words mean anyway so i wouldnt care, if anything id have to ‘muster up’ a reaction to defend myself lol, to get all geeky, its like hermione getting called a muggle and being like uh..okay? so what? or like the words fag and fanny having totally different meanings in america and britain. it feels like because its considered derogatory in america, suddenly its ‘right’ for that to become the international english speaking standard for whether the term is insulting or not, when thats really not fair at all… id respect americans by not saying the word jap here but id still continue to use it outside because if anything its really a term of affection for me

      • 5.5.1 canxi

        But, the thing is…it’s not about if it’s a term of affection for you, because it’s not about you. “Jap” is an offensive word to the Japanese and in no way affectionate. By not using it, you’re showing your respect to them as people.

        But by using it, you’re giving off the effect that “Oh, it’s OK because I don’t mean anything by it.” But the term is riddled with meaning…and bad ones. And those meanings unlike “fag” or “fanny” is not different by region.

  6. cv

    Thank you for the the recap.

    LIke, wow, so very good. His mother died. Would his brother have to died too to make him Gaksital? Losing your whole family, yep, that will definitely turn him alright.

    • 6.1 aoiaheen

      Yes. Its really ironic. Because he is the unpatriotic guy he is only for his family. And to lose them at the hands of the very guys he’s working for..uff!

  7. jennayang

    thank you

  8. Musings

    Waaa?!? I didn’t know the word was offensive! Here in Australia even my Japanese friends use that word. At least I know now for when I travel to America 😀 Ta

    Every screencap of Joowon’s face is brimming with SO much emotion. Wow.

    • 8.1 Jun

      I live in Australia too but really, in this instance, it is not the location that is in question. It does not mean that the word is inoffensive in Australia, it’s whether or not people understand it’s implications and know that it is offensive.

      • 8.1.1 Musings

        I didn’t say that it’s inoffensive in Australia. If it’s a derogatory word than of course it’s derogatory everywhere. I was just shocked that the people around me and I had absolutely no idea about this and though I don’t usually abbreviate words, I’m now racking my brains and wondering if perhaps I might have on the off chance and gone and insulted someone unknowingly. Oh goodness. D:

    • 8.2 alove

      I didn’t realize it was an offensive term either because I had a ton of Japanese friends in Hawaii who referred to themselves as that all the time as well.

      • 8.2.1 alove

        That is, until I moved to WA and my boyfriend was just like, “WOW I can’t believe you said that”.

    • 8.3 ck1Oz

      I live in Australia and my Japanese and Chinese colleagues don’t abbreviate it. Am Asian by the way and I have met random Japanese who have remarked on the previously hostile relationships between the countries as well. Are they younger because the older they are the more aware they are.

      • 8.3.1 Musings

        Yeah they’re in their late teens, early twenties. That probably explains it.

        • alove

          I agree, it’s probably based on generation. I heard it all the time but it was from my peers – and it was used loosely throughout elementary and middle school.

          • alove

            Although I’ll put it out there that JB is correct & that no matter the circumstance (or difference in age groups) – an offensive term doesn’t lose its history as time goes on so it’ll always be inappropriate.

  9. ilikemangos

    This episode for me really got the waterworks flowing.
    off to read!

    Thanks JB!

  10. 10 katiamon

    Nooooooo mom!!!!! I’m with you kang san, poor thing =( that scene is really sad…. I can’t figure out how is kang to going to take the gaksital impersonation but i hope is well played. This drama’s good good good. Thanx for the recap.

  11. 11 all4movies

    Thanks for putting it out there as to the inappropriate way of referring to japanese people.

    It really bothers me when people may/may not realize that they are disrespecting others with racial slurs.

    Thanks for clearing it up.

  12. 12 9to5

    Thanks for the recap! I am also anxious for kang-to to become gaksital. But the journey to that point is interesting so I’m still enjoying it 🙂

  13. 13 infiniti512

    Ah I’ve always cringed at seeing that abbreviation in comments over recent years while watching clips. I understand younger American generations or those from other countries may not know the history but being that I do, it bothers me. I hope others can learn from it by your mention.

    Loving the show. And yes, I did think city hunter if only for a second.

  14. 14 stars4u

    I can’t wait til Mok-dan finds out who Kang-to really is

    • 14.1 Tyme

      I think it will be happening Ep. 6, unless they’re teasing us with clips from next week already. The previews definitely had Mokdan telling Shunji that Kang-To must have known her before. 😀

      • 14.1.1 lan

        No… I’m pretty sure she was talking about Gaksital, who saved her 3 times. Because Gaksital saved her, now she’s guessing maybe that’s because she knew him, maybe he (Gaksital) is that Young Master who gave her the knife (otherwise why did he save her so many times).

        • Tyme

          Lol, guess I watched that a little too quickly. Now that I look at that again she’s clearly referring to Kang-San. It must have been me jumping to conclusions because I wanted her to figure it out already. 😛

          I guess she’ll be right(?), once Kang-To turns into gakistal.

  15. 15 nikhapi

    Am I the only one who thinks Gaksital sacrificed his mom becoz he doesn’t want his Gaksital identity be revealed? Because how on earth can you just stand there watching your mom die right infront your nose? I don’t get it… But nonetheless I’m still loving the whole drama! So puzzled on how can Kang-to be a Gaksital, what will be his reaction, response and whatnot? Gosh I can’t wait for that to happen! And the biggest question, will Kang-to change his hairstyle? I wish not coz I’m loving his hair currently…

    • 15.1 lan

      What are you talking about? First of all, the mom kept motioning to him to keep quiet. And think about the alternative – if he outs himself as Gaksital, do you think the mom would live? In that case, both mom and Kang San will die. Kang San won’t be able to protect mom and himself and get out of Kenji’s grasp. Kenji can take mom as a hostage easily and quickly, defeating Kang San that way no matter what. It was a trap. He wanted to do something out of his instinct, but his mom knew better and tried to stop him by sacrificing herself before he could out himself and lose everything – losing the greater cause that their whole family holds dear as well.

      • 15.1.1 ladida

        I agree. I saw that scene as more of the mom acting than Kang San not acting–she made a conscious decision to protect her son and Gaksital.

    • 15.2 lan

      The hairstyles are from that particular period. I don’t think you can dictate a lot of that. I think he looks just fine.

  16. 16 crazedlu

    i don’t know, i’m kind of enjoying the ride to his heroic turn. maybe because i don’t think this drama is city hunter-esque at all. THANK YOU GOD. some of the same elements, but city hunter was so meh compared to the story of gaksital.

    this drama is supposed to be 20 episodes long anyways, so i feel they’re moving along at the right pace. i’m actually glad kangto hasn’t done a complete 180 with the discovery of his precious. feels a little more natural than him falling head over heels over his first love and dropping the bad guy persona completely.

    the death of his mother, kang san’s impending doom, EVERYTHING will soon crash down on him, so i’m okay with waiting for his turn. episode 6 seems the right time though. the baek dong soo transition happened in episode 6 too and that worked out really well.

    i wonder how they’re going to do it though without the government and all the citizens knowing it’s him? i mean, if he goes m.i.a., well, obviously lee kangto is new gaksital. soo… will he pull a hong gil dong death off the cliff? heh. i kind of hope so.

    excited and nervous for the next ep.

    • 16.1 Pitch

      Yeah, I like it that they are going “slow” (even though it doesn´t feel like that to me) with Kang-to´s turn-around. Anything else just wouldn´t be believable to me. I want to see him conflicted for a few more episodes.

  17. 17 Nauna

    As a mother of two sons myself the end of this episode absolutely gutted me, even though I knew it was coming because I’d read spoilers!
    Thanks for the recap, and the side note. The subbed version I watched used that word and I found it a little jarring even in that context. Amazing the power words can carry.

  18. 18 addylovesbwoowd

    i love Joo Won Vote for your favorite drama @ http://polldaddy.com/poll/6291076/

  19. 19 cd

    I must say that it’s must be a burden for anyone to take the role as Kang To.

    Joowon so far, did a good job. I’ve seen his 2 dramas before Baker King and Ojakgyo Brothers. From angry Joowon to romantic Joowon. Aw.

    Glad that he joining 1n2d and it’s allow him to release his stress.

    More story of Kang To and Rie please. I want to see Rie kick some ass ASAP.

  20. 20 mojobobo

    NOOOOO This episode went by in a blink of an eye!! 1 hour is NOT enough!!!!!

    I was half laughing at and half feeling sorry for Kang-to when he had to witness the Mok Dan-Shunji interactions. I think I looked crazy. But it’s ok Wonnie, you have Shi-Kyung to go to for hugs XD

    Shin Hyun Joon totally rocks. During the last scene, his eyes had so much focus it’s like he seriously wanted to out himself. I was soooo sad when he was crying. Guilt, shame, frustration, helplessness. What can he do? Either option wasn’t a good one for him. i just can’t imagine how much shame he will now have to bear knowing that he watched his mother die. Kang-to is going to go nuts when he finds out. I hope he trashes Kenji.

    I’m guessing his mother’s death will be one of the factors push Kang-to to become Gaksital. After all if you no longer have family to protect and the nation you thought would give you a second chance actually doesn’t, what more do you have to lose?

  21. 21 Mawiie

    Woah this episode really gutted me. And while I do get some City Hunter vibes, I didn’t think that it is a problem since the historical context gives this drama a whole other layer. It’s not just about personal revenge or social equity, but there’s a whole fight to preserve one’s identity and culture against one giant opponent (and I don’t say that to belittle CH either).

    That being said, I do have a few questions lingering in my mind after today’s episode:
    1- Why did Kang To save Hong Joo/Rie? He was already working for the Japaneses, so why would he help a Korean woman in front of all those powerful people?
    2- How did Kenji conclude that Kang San was Gaksital when he’d first dismissed the idea? Was there anything about the bank that could possibly incriminate Kang San?

  22. 22 kk

    Thank you for your review. I also hope you understand that the term Jap in English is not used derogatorily everywhere so I hope you don’t take too much offense at its use previously on your blog since your readers come from many countries. However, as you said, since this is an international blog of sorts, it’s better to be overly careful and not use it than use it and offend someone. Just wanted you to know the word is not always used offensively everywhere.

  23. 23 L-V

    Kang To tears in the preview kills me… T.T

  24. 24 bluemoon

    This is by far one of the best dramas this year.

    JW is amazing. That boy REALLY can act. I find his character to be so complex. At times, he’s really bad at treating people, but at other times, you can’t help but feel for him. Like he said, he’s working for the Japanese because that’s the only way he knows how to in order to survive during this difficult time period. If it was me, I would have made the same choice because sometimes, it’s not about loyalty to your country but survival.

    Gaksital is also such a good character. I don’t find his character to be selfish at all. In fact, I thought he is such a brave person. I don’t find him to be weak or selfish. I am very glad that his mom gave him her blessing to continue doing his work before her passing. When his mom told him that she is very proud of him (after figuring out his secret identity), I have tears in my eyes. What a tough-loving mother, who’s willing to die for her son (s).

    I wonder at the thought of who will be the one to kill off Gaksital. Hopefully, it will not be Kang To, but Kenji instead.

    I am also afraid of the friendship between Kang To and Shunji. I don’t know if they will remain friends, or become enemies. I hope they will remain secretly friends (who’s helping each other, but just not letting one another know). I don’t think my heart can take another friendship that will turn out to be like the two best friends in the drama, Friends, Our Legend. Why do they both have to like the same girl? This in itself is doom for their friendship already.

    Friends, Our Legend left a deep mark in my heart because I honestly thought that they both will remain good friends till the end if only they both tell each other the truth and not assumes of what the other one is doing or feeling. I hope that Bridal Mask won’t leave the same mark in my heart. I hate seeing friendships being destroy just because of one’s pride.

  25. 25 Miss rain ENgineer :P

    Yaaay finally i Was waiting for it … Off to read

  26. 26 Stardust

    I am waiting at the edge of my seat for the next recap! and the next….. and the next… hahaha thank you javabeans!

  27. 27 INFINITElySHINee

    I cried so much when the mother died.

  28. 28 mary

    It’s ok to be similar to City Hunter, as long as the story and characters are different.

    Kind of like how Dream High (1, ok?) used a common underdog recipe but became awesome through execution. 🙂

  29. 29 missjb

    thanks JB… Off to read! I loveeee gaksital!

  30. 30 sm1leitsamy

    I saw Ojakgyo Brothers and parts of Baker King, but I never was a fan of Joo Won until now… so intense!!

    I’m LOVING this show so far. The conflict in this show is just SO good and suspenseful.

    Thanks for the recap 🙂

  31. 31 Mariri

    To me, this is Zorro. Not so much City Hunter. I mean, I know, lots of similarities. But this is Zorro. The main female lead likes Gakistal (Zorro) but not Kang-to (the same guy (in Zorro, Diego)). He’s fighting for justice for an impoverished and occupied people. He appears out of thin air. He rides a horse like no one else. He uses a sword and slashes symbols into things……

    Maybe it’s just me. But GAKISTAL = ZORRO.

    • 31.1 nikhapi

      No, it’s not only you. I think the whole premise specially our hero Gaksital is very much like Zorro than CH.

    • 31.2 ReY

      I second (or third?) this too! that very first moment when Gaksital enters, Zorro flashes right before my eyes haha
      and also the similarities between our hero is not a hero at the beginning, that also should be counted…
      I cant really see City Hunter in it, maybe bcoz Gaksital does not started with revenge plot, but more of war between idealism, in which is not CH at all for me 😀

      • 31.2.1 Dorotka

        My exact thoughts! White Zorro ^^

      • 31.2.2 CM

        Zorro!!! <3 This drama actually made me watch some episodes of Zorro while waiting for new episodes to come. lol

        • Mariri

          YAY!! People agree with me. Since I’m mostly a lurker, this makes me happy. Also, although I watched Zorro (the TV show in color) when I was a kid, and Zorro, (the movie, with Antonio Banderas) when I was possibly older than a kid (don’t really know when that came out and too lazy too google it). Point is, I don’t remember all the details.

          But Zorro had someone helping him right? Like Bruce Wayne’s Alfred. Which makes me think of Baek Gun. Anyway. I hope Gakistal goes with the ‘I love her but she doesn’t know who I am and thinks I’m a total jerk theme for a while. I mean, they did so wonderful with the my-brother-is-gakistal theme for much longer than expected. I’m sure they could pull off a I’m-the-man-you-luuurve-but-also-the-man-you-hate theme for a while.

  32. 32 Esther

    This is awesome. But every once in a while, I just get so confused at seeing my own name on a character. It just never happens!

  33. 33 Esther

    This is awesome. But every once in a while, I just get so confused at seeing my own name on a character. It just never happens! Love this Korean zorro stufff man

  34. 34 red

    Joo Won scowling and Joo Won smiling is almost like two different people. I loved all of Kang To’s scenes, you can see the layers of emotion on his face.

    Kang To’s mother dying was so shocking- I had to stifle my scream when she was shot. I couldn’t believe they went there, but I understand that they had to.

    I missed Kang San Kang To interaction in this episode, and from tomorrows preview I think Kang San’s days are numbered. Nooo!! but argh I want to see this playing field change as well.

    • 34.1 rosi

      Yeah, he playing Lee Kang To at Gaksital drama set and being himself, Joo Won at 1N2D. A guy who afraid of bugs. It’s like we have two diff person here. Omi, I still can’t believe it.

      If he did not join 1N2D… I maybe think that he’s the brody and hard to approach kind of guy.

      Owh Moon Jun Won shi, you are so adorable. Pyong.

  35. 35 makoto

    I’m afraid that someday (soon) Shunji will dead, too.

    • 35.1 tosin

      Thats exactly what I feel like…I wish he would stop butting into bridal mask and kang To’s problem. 🙁

  36. 36 tosin

    Oh my days!! When kang To finds out his mother is dead he is totally gonna kill kenji!!

  37. 37 Felix

    Oh God!!! Our heroes mother die first. I don’t expect that. If Kang San also die meaning Lee Kang To will be alone. Well he have friends Shunji. All Joseon people hate him. Don’t worry Kang To we all with you .
    Kang To transform to Gaksitaaaaaaaaal~!!!!.

  38. 38 N

    Wow, this is getting really good, if not amazing.

  39. 39 rain

    i’ve never seen city hunter. will someone please tell me the tuition episode jb referred to? thnx.

    • 39.1 Arishia

      One of the council of five is skimming money from his university, and keeping it in cash at his house. City Hunter discovers it and puts a tracking device in it. When the bad guy tries to move the money to a safer location, City Hunter steals it. He then divides up the money and sends it to the students to help pay their tuition, and to fulfill a broken promise by the bad guy to reduce tuition.

  40. 40 blokkoms

    I cried for a good five minutes after the episode ended, the motherly sacrifice just got me. I am unreservedly in love with this drama.

    And I am shocked – Jin Se-yeon (Mok Dan) is really young, a 1993-er! Makes me feel unaccomplished.

  41. 41 Maya

    “By the way, I know his relationship chart is just a visual aid, but I’m still tickled over how stumped Kenji is over the most basic character map”

    “He screams in frustration, and I can’t help but giggle at his meltdown. Aw, and he worked so hard to connect those dots.”

    LOL! I can’t help but giggle too when I saw him drawing that chart. I know he’s dense, but the three people relationship chart is just … HI-larious..

    Btw, it’s a sad sad episode. I’ve never expected mom to be killed this early (or ever!), I  really thought that this episode is going to be the end of Kang San. And I’m mentally prepared for that. But mom too? 🙁 where is the family’s bodyguard when you need him the most…

    And thanks for pointing out that Kang To was “reading” the newspaper upside down, JB! I wouldn’t have known that… 🙂

    • 41.1 calgary

      Mok Dan did look at him confusedly. Before Abe ran into the room I was expecting Mok Dan to actually say

      “You’re reading the newspaper upside-down buddy”

      • 41.1.1 Maya

        I totally thought that she got that confused look because he was suddenly being nice to her! 😀

  42. 42 Itoshi

    Oh dear, how is Mok Dan gonna recognise Kang To now that his mother is dead? And Kenji, how did he get to be a police when his brother, the teacher gets to beat him? Kenji is getting more and more like Tae Mu from RTP LOL Anyway, can’t wait for Kang To to become Gaksital too… I want to see Mok Dan’s crushes on two people finally becomes the same person. It’s like Batman-Catwoman again YAY 🙂

  43. 43 Still recovering from what was QIHM (aka MsB)

    I gasped out loud when the mother got shot! Well, Kenji is screwed! Even though Kang To was estranged from his mother, he loved her!! WOW!

  44. 44 kyla

    I’m wondering if they’re using special creams for their faces and bodies especially Kang To and Mok Dan because they’re faces are flawless despite the heavy beatings they always got. I couldn’t believed that with all the scars and bruises on Mok Dan’s face, in an instant it disappeared all at once. With all the blood on her clothes, it’ quite funny that her back didn’t had any scars at all. Not to mention that they’re jumping from one building to another without suffering any injuries as if they have wings

    Bridal Mask is interesting to watch but lose points because of these.

    • 44.1 ladida


  45. 45 dany

    Thank you for the recap! I just love this show, I watch it raw but by Korean is not that good so your work is so helpful.

  46. 46 beggar1015

    Does anyone know what that thingy is that Gaksital uses for a weapon? Its hard enough to beat someone over the head, yet hollow enough to launch projectiles. Is this an actual weapon out of Asia? Or is it something made up just for this drama?

  47. 47 toystar

    OMG what’s going to happen to the borthers now that mom’s died???

  48. 48 정남

    I know that Kang-to, will change down the road and that he is an interesting character but I can’t seem to sympathize with him. While I understand the motivations behind his actions I have trouble rooting or hoping the best for someone helping the occupation. I know one thing though, that I am hooked.

  49. 49 bee

    can’t wait for ep 6 preview… SO MUCH INTENSENESS!

  50. 50 Lulla

    I’m glad I choosr gaksital as my next watch list after qim..Although the story is not entirely new, but it’s enjoyable and interesting enough for me to gw hooked.. I like the 30’es settings..and the fighting scene is really enjoyable.

    I love kang san and the mother, and ueri looks like an interesting character. As for Joo Won, well..he’s not as good as what I’ve expected but I like him anyway. Hopefully he will improve.

    I’ve watched until epi 6 and it’s just getting interesting..

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