Drama Recaps
Gaksital: Episode 11
by | July 4, 2012 | 117 Comments

Bad! Ass!

Gaksital is awesome again, and for that I am greatly relieved. The last couple of episodes had me worried that we were running out of punch—it still had plenty of plot, but there was simply too much laborious maneuvering, with too few character moments to engage my feelings. I enjoy thinking in a drama, but it’s never a good thing when you have to exert serious brainpower just to understand what’s going unfolding a basic level.

So while I suppose setup is necessary, I’m glad we’re finally getting some serious emotional payoffs, with more entanglements to further cloud the waters of our characters’ relationships. Characters try to figure out what how far to go without losing oneself, battle their internal demons, and oh yeah, some external ones too.


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In his Gaksital guise, Kang-to delivers his “retribution for sins” to the weaselly bank president Jo via a deadly blow to the head. He takes the papers documenting the sale of the Korean marketplace and leaves the building, only to stumble right into Shunji’s trap. Damn, Shunji’s tapping into some major dark side if he’s so easily willing to trade President Jo’s life for Gaksital’s capture. Granted maybe the guy deserved his retribution, but the cold-bloodedness of the trap is a little chilling.

Shunji launches himself and sword at Gaksital, getting so close that he slices Kang-to’s shirt. I know neither can die so early into their rivalry, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for Kang-to, who has always been a hair less skilled with the sword than Shunji. Plus there’s the whole part where Kang-to’s heart isn’t in it to kill Shunji, much like his brother’s frame of mind when fighting him.

Shunji does indeed gain the upper hand, holding sword to throat and keeping Gaksital frozen in place. Until Koiso tries to “help” by shooting at them from afar, missing, and providing just enough distraction for a getaway. Aw, Koiso, you’re MVP on Team Gaksital tonight. Somebody’s getting reamed at the station later…

While Kang-to leaps from rooftop to rooftop, Shunji chases on foot through the streets and loses the trail. But realizes: “The marketplace.”

Sure enough, Gaksital puts in an appearance amid the despairing villagers. He runs through the crowd, stopping only to put the sale documents in the hands of the young rebel hothead, then darts off. He reappears a moment later on a rooftop for his glory shot with moonlit backlighting. Which cracks me up because he’s basically asking for the hero worship, and they’re happy to give it to him.

Shunji arrives just moments too late. Fuming, he fires his gun into the air.

He reports the failed mission to his father with head bowed and apologizes for getting overconfident. Chief Kimura declares that the only way to get Gaksital once and for all is to use “the girl”—a prospect that has Shunji widening his eyes in alarm. Dad clocks his reluctance and angrily draws his sword, telling Shunji he’ll have to strike: Either cut Mok Dan’s neck, or cut her out of his heart. Is there a Door No. 3 I can take?

At Gaksital Central, Kang-to tells Baek Gun about being ambushed, and how Shunji predicted his exact movements. Best for the hero to lie low for the time being.

Damsari continues his constant vigil at Asuka Hotel’s message board, to no avail. Mok Dan’s confused, having expected Gaksital to make contact by now. But Damsari fears that Kang-to’s recent presence at the hotel has kept Gaksital away.

Just then Kang-to enters, and Damsari ducks before he’s seen. Kang-to scans the room, then pins a message to the board—and Damsari sees that his note is addressed to his code name, Choi Tae-gon. Uh-oh. Message has been unintentionally mixed.

Damsari’s comrades are immediately suspicious of a trap, and argue that (1) they must kill Kang-to, and (2) they’ve missed their chance to make contact with Gaksital. But Damsari’s suspicious in a different way: How would Kang-to know he’s trying to meet Gaksital?

His comrade wonders, “Could he… be Gaksital?” Ding ding ding! After all, they’ve got another comrade at the police station who’s undercover for the independence movement. Ooh, I love that they stumble across this possibility right away; the conflict just got a lot more interesting.

The lady comrade suggests that even if it’s a long shot, they should check out the theory. Yes! Check away!

…and then Damsari says with a definitive no that Kang-to is not Gaksital. Aw, Mr. Buzzkill, why you gotta remember now that Kang-to was there in the courthouse taking smiley-face pictures when Gaksital arrived?

Hotheaded Comrade No. 2 argues for killing Kang-to right away. Damsari cools him down with the reminder to be careful with their mission, six years in the planning, but Comrade No. 2 vows to kill him for the sake of their rebellion.

Kang-to walks along the road to the circus, feeling light-hearted for once, having made the decision to help Damsari’s mission. Smiling, whistling, and omo, is that dancing? He clicks his heels together, Singin’ in the Rain style.

Mok Dan strategizes that the best way she can help Gaksital contact them is… to keep Kang-to stuck to her side constantly. If you’re busy, I offer myself for that task. For the independence and all. A patriot’s job is never done.

Looks like Abe has ingratiated himself with the circus folk pretty well, because he engages in an arm-wrestling bout with Shin Nan-da, and most of the circus girls are cheering him on. Kye-soon is Shin Nan-da’s sole supporter, which is enough to tell me to root for Abe, who wins and is adorably puffed-up over his victory. Aw. They may be on opposing teams but both sides are simple-minded and loyal folk, so it makes sense that they’d bond. Better than at the police station, where Abe seems rather like a guppy in a pool of piranhas.

Kang-to smiles at the scene, but registers Mok Dan’s absence and goes in search of her, hilariously arriving in her room just as she’s wondering, “How can I get Lee Kang-to to stick close to me?” You rang?

She complains about all the time he isn’t spending with the circus, asking where the heck he’s spending all his time. I know she’s only thinking of her father’s mission, but awww: Kang-to lights up at the thought that she was curious about his whereabouts, even as she snipes at him irritably.

His new playboy persona directs him to say how he’s so tired from dancing the night away, and he asks if she wants to go with him to see him dance. Ha. The only way she’d want to see you dance is with her gun firing bullets at your feet, loverboy.

He settles back for a nap, then decides he’d like to ensure that she stays with him by handcuffing her to a chair, forcing her to sit next to him. She calls him a mongrel who fraternizes with the enemy, and he asks with a pleasant smile on his face, “So what if I’m a mongrel? I’m going to wipe out the Joseon bastards who killed my mother and my brother.” Although technically I suppose you can’t really blame them for your brother…

Mok Dan fumes while he takes his nap, and madly wonders if this is her one shot to kill Kang-to. She takes her dagger and raises it to strike, but without batting an eyelash Kang-to grabs her arm. He doesn’t seem shocked, but is that… hurt in his eyes? Aw, it’s one thing to be on opposite sides (or pretend to be, at least), but it’s got to be a bit of a blow to know she’d actually kill you.

Frozen in place with his arm holding hers, they stare at each other intently. Just as Shunji arrives and sizes up the tense air. Kang-to lets go of her and merely warns, “Don’t fool around, you’ll get hurt.”

Everyone convenes onstage to hear what Shunji’s here to say. He informs them of Gaksital’s murder of President Jo and warns that anybody protecting the criminal will be punished as well. However! (S)He who reveals the murderer’s identity will be richly rewarded. So step forward now.

Dong-nyun starts to comment on Shunji’s drastic change, but he’s in his hardass mode and socks her in the gut. Whoa. Even Kang-to’s surprised, and when you’ve managed to shock him with your violence, it doesn’t bode well for your character. Mok Dan tells him defiantly that the circus knows nothing of the murder, swearing on the heavens.

Shunji doesn’t believe her and draws his sword angrily: “You still insist you don’t know Gaksital?” She says sarcastically, “Ah, Gaksital. Then you should have asked the question properly—whether I know Gaksital, Joseon’s hero!”

Furious, Shunji growls and slashes with his sword—Mok Dan braces and Kang-to reaches for his gun. But Shunji only cuts off a lock of her hair in warning, and Kang-to quickly reholsters his pistol before Shunji notices.

Mok Dan is handcuffed and taken with the police officers back to the station.

Rie telephones Chairman Ueno to apprise him of her dual failures: capturing Gaksital and losing the marketplace. In light of his threat to disown her, Rie vows to kill herself upon his command, if he wishes it.

But the chairman chuckles and tells Rie that he is sending her a package of her favorite umeboshi. She’s overcome with relief, and he says that he’s still her father: “What father kills his child just because she did not meet his expectations?” Somehow I am not convinced of his paternal affection; rather, it makes me all the more nervous for the other shoe to drop.

The chairman adds a warning, that victory is within their reach, and if she lets that opportunity fly by they’re both as good as dead. They’d better not lose any more of their members.

Rie calls for Chief Kimura, purposely swapping rings for the Kishokai signet. She turns it seal-side-inward so that when she slaps him for his failing, it leaves a cut on his face. It’s a double insult-warning and a nice symbology, of Kishokai literally slapping him in the face. She sneers that he can’t even manage his son, much less the police station he aspires to run.

Kimura vows to catch Gaksital for sure this time; Shunji has already apprehended the girl to use as bait. Instead, however, Rie orders him to find a new income source for Kishokai, to make up for the funds they lost thanks to Gaksital. She’ll step in directly and handle this. Deeemoted.

Rie is surprised to hear that Mok Dan is on 24-hour watch by Kang-to, and that she sometimes prays in the church. Idea!

Mok Dan is cuffed to the torturous-looking restraints in the police station. Kang-to doesn’t relish what he’s expected to do, and after a moment to gather himself, he tells her that expending energy to beat a weak thing like her makes him feel pretty crappy—so just answer his questions, and quickly. Don’t hold in her pain, don’t act brave, just let it all out.

Stepping closer, his words turn to entreaty: “Look me in the eye. Look at me. Don’t you know me? Talk. Even if you say everything you know about Gaksital…” Oof, this kills me. He’s trying to give her permission to reveal what she knows, but there’s no way she can know that; for her it would just be betrayal.

She cuts him off: “Just kill me instead. Do you really think I’d talk?”

Koiso reports to Shunji some puzzling news: army headquarters is keeping a close eye on circus boss Jo and Mok Dan. He refers to the soldiers who pulled rank on him at the circus, whom we know to be undercover independence fighters. The officers had arrested Jo and Mok Dan, and yet the next day they were freed, just like that. Could this have something to do with Damsari?

It’s a tricky situation because messing with headquarters could backfire on them if they handle things badly, and Koiso therefore tells Shunji with great trepidation. He also offers another bit of interesting news: when Shunji pulled his sword on Mok Dan, Kang-to went for his gun.

The wheels start turning in Shunji’s head, who thinks back to Kang-to’s reactions to Mok Dan. Could he… care…?

Shunji enters the interrogation room and sees Kang-to sitting with his head in his hands. Telling. He goes for Mok Dan’s pockets and pats her down until he finds the dagger, and guesses that the boy who gave her the knife is Gaksital. He rages, “WHAT IS HIS NAME?!”

He reads the character engraved on the handle, young [永], and guesses that it’s part of his name. (As we know, Lee Young was Kang-to’s childhood name.) Shunji demands a response and slaps her when she refuses, losing his temper in a serious way that’s a bit alarming. He orders Kang-to, “Torture her until she gives up Gaksital’s name.”

Shunji tosses a whip at Kang-to’s feet. Without giving himself away, there’s nothing he can do but comply; Kang-to picks up the whip while Shunji waits expectantly. Oy, this is all kinds of twisted.

Kang-to whips Mok Dan twice, and at least that is enough to cool Shunji’s anger. He starts to put a halt to it, except… here comes Daddy Dearest. Can’t stop now, and now we’ve got two torturers hating themselves for what they’re doing but compelled to by outside forces. Did I say twisted? No, it’s downright all kinds of fucked up. I kind of love it.

But strangely, Chief Kimura calls a halt to the proceedings. Mok Dan is transferred to jail, woozy from the pain. A nun in the cell rushes to her side in concern… who is Rie, in disguise. Ah, now I see why the torture was deemed unnecessary. Are we in for a round of Good Cop, (literal) Bad Cop?

Rie-nun consoles Mok Dan with comforting words about God watching over them, and how the day will come when their oppressors will be driven off. Smart, smart. She’s simultaneously appealed to Mok Dan’s spiritual side and aligned herself as a resistance supporter.

Kang-to fights his inner demons, shaking in horror that he’d whip Mok Dan to hide his identity from Shunji. Meanwhile, Koiso loves to rub his dilemma in his face, taunting him about being in love with the girl.

Kang-to knocks him down with a kick to the gut, then storms into Shunji’s office to deliver his resignation. At least he has a credible reason: “Do you think I came this far just to keep watch over some girl? Did I come here to torture the girl you love for you? Do you think this is what I gave up my mother and my brother to the empire for?! So this is the payment I get for my loyalty to the empire.”

Lifting his arms sarcastically, Kang-to gives a mocking “Long live the emperor” salute and heads for the door. Shunji stops his exit with a request: “Kang-to-ya. Will you help me?”

Heaving a resigned sigh, he puts his hand on Kang-to’s shoulder in a poignant reminder of their grief-stricken bike scene and concedes that Kang-to is right, and that he can’t do it alone. “Let’s get Gaksital together.” Yay! And uh-oh…

But Kang-to accuses Shun-ji of toying with him and socks him in the face.

Kang-to stops by Mok Dan’s cell and watches her sleeping. He doesn’t notice the nun in the corner, but she notices him. And clocks his emotional reaction to Mok Dan. Uh-oh. Murderous spy just got another reason to get even murderous-er against our heroine.

Kang-to returns to the Asuka Hotel message board and sees his note still pinned up. Why hasn’t it been read?

Comrade No. 2 spies on him, but Kang-to catches his eye. Comrade runs. Kang-to knows suspicious behavior when it stares him in the face and chases. Comrade No. 2 hops into a car with Damsari, driving off and leaving Kang-to behind.

Shunji reports to his father about the army’s surveillance over Mok Dan, and proposes to capture both Damsari and Gaksital in one fell swoop. Chief Kimura orders Mok Dan freed to allow Damsari the opportunity to contact her.

The nun is released from jail. Before she leaves, Rie tells Mok Dan to come find her when she’s released, giving her the name of her church.

Mok Dan is released next. She pointedly refuses to look at Shunji, which troubles him, which troubles me not at all. Sorry, dude, but no sympathy points this time.

As he drives her to the hospital, he asks why she can’t live a simple life—she knows how he feels about her, and he could protect her. Yes, if she weren’t so annoyingly determined to fight for her country and her people, that is. Pesky morals.

Mok Dan orders him to pull over, forcing him to stop by opening her door. “Even though you’re Japanese, because you loved Joseon’s children, I could be your friend. Now to me, you’re just a Japanese.”

She walks out on her own two feet, and I kind of feel compelled to applaud.

Rie arrives at home fuming. Kang-to’s the cause, and she takes out her anger on her faithful bodyguard, slapping him and reminding him of her orders to investigate Kang-to thoroughly. He left out the rather important detail where Kang-to’s in love with that bitch.

Kang-to and Shunji drink together at the club, both feeling glum. Shunji says he’s starting to lose it thanks to Gaksital, and asks for Kang-to’s understanding. Kang-to asks, “You said you couldn’t give up that girl even if she’d been the one to kill your brother. Do you even really love her?” Good question.

Shunji sighs, “I don’t know. What I do know is that I want to catch that bastard and kill him in front of Mok Dan.” So… that’s a no then? ‘Cause viciously breaking the heart of someone you love strikes me as not-love.

Lala takes the stage with her Pips, singing her sultry ballad practically at Kang-to.

Upstairs, Damsari drinks with his co-conspirator and sets off a series of secret nods from waiter to Comrade to undercover agent, who are stationed on the club floor. Oh noes! Is this Operation: Kill Kang-to Because He’s Probably Not Gaksital?

A waiter draws a hidden knife and moves to stab Kang-to from behind, but Lala spots the motion (infatuation has its upsides) and screams a warning. Kang-to ducks in time and fights off his various attackers. With Shunji’s help, the two cops quickly knock down the ambushers, who receive Damsari’s head-signal to flee.

Everybody makes it out but one waiter, who is apprehended. Kang-to recognizes him from the night in the hotel, and he scans the crowd for others. Nobody is left.

They take the waiter-comrade in for a torture session, but he keeps resolutely mum about who he’s working for. Shunji mans the whip this time, and Kang-to stops him to take over. When he’s alone with the captive, he drops the whip and asks for his leader, saying that “somebody” really wants to meet him.

The comrade shoots him a hateful glare and starts singing the independence army song. Kang-to gets increasingly worked up as he demands answers, but there’s no reason for him to be trusted by freedom fighters and the comrade just keeps singing. Finally Kang-to knocks him out with one punch to the head.

When the comrade looks up from his half-conscious state, he sees… Gaksital?! Omo omo. That is one huge motherfucking risk you’re taking. Also, does this mean you keep one of those costumes at the police station? That does not seem the smartest choice, but that aside, this is pretty badass.

He’s got little time to lose because Shunji’s walking through the station at this very moment. Kang-to knocks out a stray officer in the hallway as he runs out carrying the comrade over his shoulder.

But Shunji catches a glimpse of the escape and screams, “Gaksitaaal!” (He might have to work on that. It’s nowhere near as epic as Kang-to’s.)

Shunji pulls his gun and levels it. Straight at Kang-to’s back.


Oh thank goodness the drama is back on track. Of course there are no guarantees that one good episode necessitates a string of more good episodes, but I’m just happy to be reminded of what the show can do when it’s firing on all cylinders. The past week was a bit of a chore in terms of actually caring about the plot, because while I did enjoy where the story’s heading on a cerebral level, the writing focused so heavily on getting the pieces in place that it didn’t leave much room for finessing the emotion of the show.

We’ve been seeing Shunji dip his toe into darker waters, but I like that he’s not diving headfirst all at once. He pulls a cold move, but then he pulls back; he renounces his love of Mok Dan, but can’t quite cut the ties. That makes his descent a lot more interesting to watch, because it feels complex and real, not just a one-note trajectory from good to bad. I love that he’s walking that fine line and having difficulty staying on any one side, often stumbling from one to the other. That makes sense given his history with Kang-to and Mok Dan and also just because he’s human, and humans do that.

Even so, there’s an unmistakable deepening of his dark-side conflict, which we see in Shunji’s bouts with losing control, which are coming at more frequent intervals. As you’ve noted, sometimes he bears an uncanny resemblance to Kenji when he’s pushed too far, when his frustrated desires bubble over his gentle nature and reveal that he’s more than some milquetoast nanny’s boy.

Shunji was always a nice guy, but not because he’s nice to the core—just as Kang-to wasn’t a mean guy due to some unfixable mean streak within him. Shunji’s niceness is part of a dichotomy, and it’s conflict that brings out unexpected aspects of your nature. I appreciate that complexity, a whole damn lot.

The same goes for Kang-to, and this episode in particular, with its two torture scenes, brought to mind the question of intent versus action. Shunji and Kang-to both do some whipping, and they both feel uneasy with the role they’re forced to play, and they’d both probably back down given the opportunity. I don’t love the fact that Kang-to the man took a whip to our heroine, of course, but as a drama character I’m impressed that the drama takes him to that point. Just as Shunji also finds his patience challenged too far—compounded with his frayed emotions at losing Mok Dan’s friendship and sensing Kang-to’s connection to her, even if it’s hardly a rosy/romantic one.

If actions speak louder than words, are they equally culpable for their torture and violent tactics? Some might say yes, but I think here’s a case where intent plays a key role, because I found myself fully with Kang-to’s angst, but lacked any empathy for Shunji’s. Kang-to’s reaction to his actions also sway me toward sympathy, because he’s genuinely horrified with himself and wonders at the need to go that far. He can’t see an alternative to what he did, but at the same time it makes him question the big picture—was it worth it? Was it really the only way? It’s making him challenge the heroic status quo, the blind adherence to the movement, and that I find completely compelling.

Granted, I’m not arguing that this absolves him of any guilt, because I find “Oppa didn’t mean it!” to be pretty much the least persuasive argument ever. Next to “It’s not even that illegal.” But it does set him apart from Shunji, whose outbursts stem from anger and jealousy, striking out when he’s frustrated with something he can’t control. And then he has the nerve to say exasperatedly to Mok Dan, “Why can’t you just live an easy life?” You might as well just say “Why do you make me hurt you?” Shunji’s not exactly in wife-battering territory, but that slope sure looks slippery…

But most of all, my heart breaks for the fractured friendship and is both thrilled that they’re still making efforts to remain friends while fearing for their “Let’s hunt Gaksital together” pact. While it offers Kang-to a measure of safety to be back on the hunt (for himself), it also brings Shunji a lot closer, and as we know, he’s the smart Kimura.


117 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. kbap

    Thank you so much for the recap! This show once again captures my heart 🙂

  2. crazedlu

    alright! jb got a good one. ha.

    loved this one.

  3. chichiri

    I just have to say this: Han Chae-ah is so. damn. gorgeous. (especially without those racoon eyes. gah!)

    • 3.1 sohe

      yes..i agree..her acting is so fine and great!! i love her eyes!!
      compared to the female lead actress in this drama..HCA is good!!
      JSY still can’t convince me with her acting!!but in this episode she is better in her acting than the previous eps,maybe because she was acting with JW!!
      it’s too desperate to see her being tortured again

      • 3.1.1 chichiri

        She’s extra pretty when she’s angry. lol

        • chichiri

          Just look at her in that screencap above.

    • 3.2 mdee


      I like it when Rie doing her own spy now. Oooff. I’ve seen her in KBS Weekend drama before, but she’s a bit annoying there, well maybe it’s her character back then. But, here in Gaksital she’s doing a great job.

      I still can accept JSY’s acting, maybe not so much depth because she’s still like 19. I think she’s doing a decent job here.

      JSY is looking acting alongside awesome cutie like Joo Won and Park Ki Wooong 🙂

      • 3.2.1 mdee

        .. JSY is lucky acting alongside…

  4. TheJu

    The scene where the guy started singing the anthem killed me. Loved this episode -maybe my favorite so far!

    • 4.1 Arhazivory

      I loved that scene too. It reminded me of all the reasons that our ancestors (from whatever country) fought for freedom.

  5. April

    Gah, that last screencap. I was totally distracted by Joo Won’s ass during that entire emotional scene. Oops.

    • 5.1 joowonnie

      SAME HERE LMAO ! mhmm

      • 5.1.1 nitnotzz

        ROFL…Count me in! =))

    • 5.2 infiniti512

      It is quite nice, isnt it?!

    • 5.3 Autumn

      Good to know I wasn’t the only one. Even Shunji couldn’t keep his eyes off it lol.

    • 5.4 mary

      Hahahaha Now that you girls said it, I had to look too. O_O

      • 5.4.1 MsB

        And now I will have to look to!

    • 5.5 SS

      At first I thought his pants were too tight but I think it’s just the way this guy fills out his pants.

      You should see him in 1N2D episode 393. The green pants were really distracting and I don’t mean the colour.

      Watching Joowon, I am so mesmerised by his acting and at the same time, so distracted by his physical attributes.

      • 5.5.1 am.nee

        Ahaks. It’s more distracting than Little Jong Min right.

        • SS

          agree. More than Little

    • 5.6 Gu

      HAHAHA. Hotness overload.

    • 5.7 mojobobo

      LOL count me in too!

    • 5.8 am.nee

      Ho ho. Remember when Kang San asked Shunji about the girl “Is her butt, big?” Haha. Missed Hyung 🙂

      But Kang To’s…. Hmmm… It’s firm.. Omo 😛 *hides*

  6. Rashell

    This show is so damn twisted that it’s really hard to watch. And yet I can’t look away either. Shunji just keeps sinking deeper and deeper into the darkness. While Kang To seems to be searching for the light but not able to find it yet. Such an amazing conflict playing out.

    I know that if Mok Dan knew who Kang To was, she would have told him to whip her to preserve his identity as Gaksital. But she doesn’t know who he is. And he does know who she is. And still he took a whip to her. My heart broke a little there I have to say. I know that he hated it. And I know that it was almost too much for him. Enough that he was willing to give up playing the police man. But he did it. It’s such a deep conflict. And I think that if I believed that Kang To’s cause was as pure as Mok Dan’s then maybe I could get past it easier. She would sacrifice for the good of her country and her people. He’s still working for his own revenge and the good of the people is just a side benefit. I don’t know. That scene brought me to tears. Which I know it was supposed to. I’ll say this. They aren’t pulling any punches with this drama.

  7. Rose

    “Mok Dan strategizes that the best way she can help Gaksital contact them is… to keep Kang-to stuck to her side constantly. If you’re busy, I offer myself for that task. For the independence and all. A patriot’s job is never done…”

    LOL. I’m willing too.

    Owh, man… I can imagine that Kang To handcuff Mok Dan and teach her how to boogie dance. Yeah!

    • 7.1 Stardust

      LOL LOL i was going to mention that quote too heheheh javabeans is too cute kekeke

      I looooved this ep…. and part of me is wishing I had the patience to watch tmr so I can watch 2 eps in one go… but.. I am weak lol

      Thank you javabeans for the lovely recap, as always!

  8. SS

    I think they are showing Kang To’s transformation to a hero quite well. In this episode, you can see for the first time, he actually stood on the roof to register the Joseon people’s response and bask in the moment of glory. He is beginning to feel something for his people or rather how it feels like to be adored instead of hated.

    And he took a really risky move of appearing as Gaksital to save that man. He is definitely more inclined towards the independence movement now then before where he was just interested in exacting revenge

  9. Schwartz

    I wonder if we’re going to see Episode 12 open with Kang-To slowly taking off the mask, and winking to Shunji “play along with this”. That would be a whole new level of twisted story dynamic. The preview implied there would be a genuine brawl in the police station, but K-Drama seems to like its misleading previews about as much as the legitimate ones.

    • 9.1 CM

      I thought about that too. If Kang-To does that it’s so baddass but I guess it’s way too risky anyway.

  10. 10 MariePhils

    the last 2 episodes of Gaksital…have won me back to adore it again…

  11. 11 Mary

    Oh my god this episodes intense

  12. 12 infiniti512

    Shunji in the sidecar makes me forget any toughness. You can’t be a hardass while ridiing shotgun! haha

    Some of the things like the performances in the nightclub bother me. Can’t they have studied the period of time more? They did NOT have snsd wannabees gyrating behind nightclub singers, and the frequent use of “okay” bothers me too. It’s just like the count’s animated goofiness. Some things, although not intentional, make me laugh and that helps to calm my heartrate from all the action.

    Also, it seems like at the end of every episode, gaksital is caught. That’s getting kind of old…..

    • 12.1 Dara

      LOL. True dat.

  13. 13 tyme

    I suppose until the independence movement people know he’s actually on their side, he’ll just have to knock them out to do costume changes. 😛

    I wonder if Mok Dan will know by episode 20? Or will she go on hating him straight through episode 27?

    I wish he’d mumble “Boon-yi” in his sleep at some point. Why doesn’t he have any identifying birthmarks? Why are all the birthmarks on girls in dramaland? ゜.゜

    • 13.1 SS

      If Gaksital had better fitting pants, she won’t need a birthmark to identify him?

      • 13.1.1 dany

        :))) LOL

      • 13.1.2 mojobobo


      • 13.1.3 Arhazivory


        • f1yh1gh10

          it would be so nice if kang to had a secret birthmark on his stomach that mokdan knew about as well, so that later on, she (and all of us, of course) can check out his abs to confirm if he is her “doryunim- young master”…. hehehehee

          • SS

            talk about abs. When Shunji was dueling with Gaksital in the beginning of the episode, I cracked up laughing when Kangto looked down at his shirt-tie or ribbon as if to check if his shirt was still in place after Shunji sliced off part of that ribbon. How I wish Shunji had cut it off completely so that the whole top will unravel. Then we can all go drama heaven, right?

          • Arhazivory

            @fihy…. lol. That would be funny.

            @SS. That would have been hawt. Hehe.

  14. 14 Dara

    Shunji freaks me out so much, he has so much potential to be evil and he is slowly going down that lane. I feel for KT hopefully the comrades will know he is Gaksital soon!

  15. 15 Mary

    Omo the angst I feel so bad for kang-to it feels too wizard of oz-y that he finally has a heart and it’s burning burning burning and omo omo the conflict of shuji is just too good while they were negotiating the extension they should have just made it 30 just dating this one is really good

  16. 16 Cindy

    “But Shunji catches a glimpse of the escape and screams, “Gaksitaaal!” (He might have to work on that. It’s nowhere near as epic as Kang-to’s.)”

    LOL!! epic comment XD

    and thanks so much for the recap!! GAKSITALLLL!!!

    • 16.1 watcher&listener

      hahahahah! I guess no one can ever beat Joo won at scream.

  17. 17 SS

    I thought the scene where Shunji ordered Kangto to beat Mok Dan was very well acted. I have no gripes with JSY on this one. She looked like so vulnerable and really frightened for the first time. You could see her alarm and hear her inhale sharply when Kangto took off his coat and bend down to pick up the whip. The tension was so so out of this world when Kangto took the few steps, unbuttoning his collar. I wonder why he cracked the whip a couple of times before hitting her?
    If he intended to hurt her, I will put it down to torturous anticipation. But he is clearly not, so why all that built up? Did he hope that he might frighten her so that she will quickly spit out about Gaksital to end her torment faster? Also, he could have hit her less hard. So did he hit her hard to get her to talk and end it?

    Anyone care to share their take on this?

    • 17.1 Gu

      I guess he wants Mok Dan to be afraid.. be very afraid. But, she’s not. Argh, girl… you’re one tough chick, don’t you remember how they beat you last time. Sheesh.

      Both Kang To and Shunji playing mind games. But its bother me that up till now, Shunji still don’t know that Hyung shots Kang To’s mom. And did Daddy, Kimura Taro aware that Kenji did that.

      • 17.1.1 lemonysnicket

        how come mok dan had bloodstains on her shirt when they brought her to the cell? sure didn’t see any after KT whipped her (poor girl… and KT as well).

        i LOVE these leaps of logic!! (seriously. it’s what makes kdramas so enjoyable. whenever my husband pooh-poohs them, i just tell him not to think so much because it’s a k drama!)

    • 17.2 mojobobo

      I think if he didn’t want to be busted by Shunji then he had to act as per the old Kangto. And there’s no knowing what Shunji would do if he took over himself =X

    • 17.3 JoAnne

      I thought he was stalling for time – a last minute miracle, some flash of an idea, a chance for Shunji to change his mind? And then when he stood so far away…I thought it must be to keep the most part of the whip away from her, although those little flying ends sure do enough damage. He couldn’t pussy-foot it and just kinda half-ass crack the whip on her, because that would have been a problem with Shunji.

      ..and as we know, Shunji is the smart Kimura.
      – javabeans

      Anyway, I was on the edge of my seat during this scene. I thought all 3 acted their BUTTS off. Thankfully, Joowon has plenty to spare.

      For what’s going on now, Gaksital is my best STORY, AGD is my biggest giggle, and Big is interesting enough, but mostly my chance to just ogle at Gong Yoo a whole lot and laugh at Suzy Stalkernim’s crazy antics. (ooh, Choong Shik’s, too.)

  18. 18 Min-Ah

    Ah this episode was soooo good!

    Shunji’s got no sympathy from me, he lost it 3 episodes ago.

    And btw, I am so puzzled as to how Abe became a police officer. I cannot imagine him going through the same thing Kang to did to become one… Mind boggling.

  19. 19 Marika

    Great recap!
    I was a bit disappointed in last week’s episodes and I was scared that it would keep going down hill, so I was really relieved when I watched this episode because I absolutely loved it.
    I can’t wait to see tomorrow’s!

    I love seeing the complexity of the characters, especially Kang To of course. He really has to understand at least some of what his brother felt now. His brother had to fight him as Gaksital, and now he’s forced to fight Shunji, who is almost like a brother to him.

    I really like seeing any interaction between Rie and the bodyguard-like-guy.

  20. 20 Marika

    Oh also, I forgot to say something!

    One of my favorite parts was Shunji’s reaction when they attempted to kill Kang To. He got a very defensive look in his eyes, and he went completely crazy on the guy when torturing him. It shows how scared he was that something almost happened to Kang To (like something happened to his brother).

  21. 21 Miss rain ENgineer :P

    Ohhh man finally when i started to get all excited about the episode come to an end -.-
    And JB finnnalllly you got an epic episode hhhhhhh I’m happy for you .xD

  22. 22 Yue

    It’s funny how I’m looking forward to the drama recap more than I did the actual episode.

    Still, I gotta agree, the whole issue is totally f-up! I think my brain is turning to mush with all the hidden agendas, multiple identities and on&off bromance. The whole torturing the girl you love is just… Yes, I have lost my mind

  23. 23 Yue

    It’s funny how I’m looking forward to the drama recap more than I did the actual episode.

    Still, I gotta agree, the whole issue is totally f-up! I think my brain is turning to mush with all the hidden agendas, multiple identities and on&off bromance. The whole torturing the girl you love is just… Yes, I have lost my mind

  24. 24 Ivoire

    Thank you for the recap!

  25. 25 DarknessEyes

    Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!

  26. 26 dany

    So what do two guys do when they like the same girl? just drag her to the basement and torture her! Interesting!
    Great episode and great recap, as always! thank you

    • 26.1 diw

      hahhaha you’re funny.. Sadomasochism at its finest….. but well this kind of sadistic act is different from 50 shades of gray…. Gaksital is much grayer or at least darker in color.

  27. 27 am.nee

    What, no more spitting to the face this time Mok Dan. Keke.

    Please dear Mok Dan, stop ending up at the torture room. And Mok Damsari, don’t you feel any sympathy to your daughter.

    Poor Rie, trying so hard to win her father (adopted father) heart. She reminds me of Kenji.

    Kang To is so badass and cute and badass and cute.. Argh, why are you so irresistable hottie 🙂

  28. 28 Arhazivory


    Whoa. This episode blew my mind. Seriously. I loved every twisted scene and watched the whole episode with a Kenji-like grin. Someone help me please…I may also be descending into the darkness. lol.

    I agree that Shunji needs to work on his Gaksitaaaaaal cry. I can give him private lessons if necessary. He was dorky for the first 5 episodes but now he’s just hawt. *sighs* Do I also have the ‘falling for bad boys’ syndrome?

  29. 29 f1yh1gh10

    i honestly..i think mokdan is reallly pretty and i think she’s a really cool character, but i am starting to get a bit annoyed (it may just be because i’m jealous of her) and i just REALLY need her to know the truth, because she’s just so dang stubborn.

    although i admire her courage and loyalty, part of me wishes she had just said something when she was being whipped.. like..throw out some kind of sentence, even if it was a lie, because i want her to stop ending up in the same place.. i can literally predict what will happen to her while watching..and the reason i have a problem with this is that it gets a bit draggy..she obviously is not getting the hints that kangto is leaving, and she just ends up hating him even more.

    i have such mixed feelings, but what it probably comes down to is that i want her to know, so that kangto can stop hurting her so he can hide his identity. and the scenes between them when she glares at him bother me.

    haha..all in all..basically what this boils down to is that i’m jealous towards jsy for having joo won as a love interest and she needs to stop being so angry and just accept his hotness and love for her. there. 🙂

    • 29.1 Ivoire

      @ f1yh1gh10,
      LOLed at your last paragraph. I just wanted to say that you do know that JSY cannot just accept his hotness and love for her (in the show at least) if her character is not written in that way, right?
      I do understand your pain and your jealousy, however 🙂

  30. 30 jinkzz

    Awww… a lot of angst and conflicted emotions in this episode..good episode

  31. 31 Arawn


  32. 32 ck1Oz

    Okay… this is one twisted drama and I know a lot of you are enjoying it. But it just leaves all sorts of uncomfortable feelings about a turbulent part of Korean history.

    I wish I can stop watching it but I can’t. Argh. Choices.

    • 32.1 SS

      *waves* to ck10z.

      I completely empathise with you. All these choices, I have a hard time too.
      – Cute & Smiling Kangto or Hot & Angsty Kangto
      – Softly lit dungeon complete with a warm fireplace as a dating place or a laundromat complete with a bathtub for romantic bubbly.
      – handcuffs as a favorite gift for your love or knife which may come in handy when he sleeps on your date.
      – Suitor in white riding in boxcar or Suitor in white riding on horseback

      on a serious note, this drama did make me wonder about the japanese occupation that my grandparents experienced. Everyone has their story but without doubt, it was the darkest period for those who survived

      • 32.1.1 ck1Oz

        * facepalm * me shaking my head at you.

        I think this time round the BM Korean subbers are older- they remember their grandparents stories as well. I am traumatised reading about it. And now I wonder about my grandparents stories as well during the Japanese Occupation.Like DB/JB said in their podcast- they don’t talk about it.

        Yo ho… I wonder what ep 12 will bring * hiding my face behind my hand as I watch ep 12 tomorrow *

      • 32.1.2 Arhazivory

        The first time I researched the Japanese occupation, I felt horrified. It really was a dark and disturbing time in their history. 🙁

      • 32.1.3 SS

        Gaksital is one unique drama that actually touches on Japanese occupation in Korean history. If it is like those Korean war movies, the horrors will be ten times worse. But being a drama and a fictional one at that, it is probably toned down in that aspect.

        This show does makes me ask myself if I was ever to choose survival(of family) over patriotism, what will be my choice? And I realised my answer really isn’t as straightforward as I would like it to be. That’s why I can never judge Kangto.

  33. 33 Ladylove

    Ah this show has a lot of awesomeness I must say. I’m not even into historical, action, hero dramas but here I am, so addicted and wanting more. Even City Hunter, I only read it in recaps because I was only interested in Lee Min Ho and the love line, but here, it’s a different story. I’m invested in every aspect of this show. His transformation from being the hating hero chaser to the actual hero is satisfying. I’m excited to see everyone’s reaction when they find out he’s gaksital especially the joseon people lol I mean, they hated him so much. They had beaten him up, cussed at him, cursed his name, burnt his house, then they find out he’s the hero? Awesome. That’s all kinds of mindfuckery right there lol
    And then we have the love story of Kang To and Mok Dan, which is a cliche, but not so much. Even though hate to love stories are notorious in dramaland, their hate in this drama is much more than a petty, misunderstood first meeting, a guy being a jerk so she hates him, leads having some temper issues, girl/guy being high up their horses and 2 adult people being so freakin childish and bickerin’ and hatin’ for the most unreasonable reasons just so they also have a hate to love relationship. Here, their hate for each other has back up, has some meat in it. They have reasons to hate each other, and rightfully so. So when they hit the point where they eventually fall in love, it’s much much more satisfying. Like a pee you’ve been holding in for the past hour. Hopefully the transition of hatin’ to lovin’ (on MD’s part) will be executed just right, that it fits the flow and if not, I’d be really disappointed.
    And can I say I have found my new baby? Damn Joo Won is hot as fck. He has such an intense stare and a fine ass. His pants fit perfectly and gives his ass justice. On top of that, he’s got some mad acting skills. Everytime he cries, he gets me in the gut. But even when he was still the douchebag, all violent, cruel, no sympathy, hateful, torturing, takes pleasure in hurting people Kang To, I just couldn’t hate him. I just couldn’t. His face was pure evil. And he was so sexy doing that pure evil face…so shallow lol and another awesome thing about him, he may be uneducated and dumb, but he’s so quick on the uptake. He notices when someone’s spying or something weird is happening. Love. It.
    Hopefully, this drama won’t go downhill coz I love it so much, I’d be depressed if it did. Please please pretty please writers, be good to us and don’t go all cray cray on us, alright?

    Last thing, I’d like to see Lee Kang To put all the passion he has in him in a scorching hot kiss. The guy is passionate, so I’m sure he’s a passionate kisser as well. But then that girl portraying Mok Dan, I heard she’s still young… So I guess we’ll get a tight-lipped kiss again lol

    • 33.1 lil

      Argh the kiss. Yeah, maybe a peck. HA.

      Or.. maybe a passionate one will come (AGAIN) from Lala/Rie for Kang To. Damnmmm!

    • 33.2 Arhazivory

      I love how eve through the ask we can see his eyes so clearly and read his emotions there. Joo Won <3 I fell madly in love with him when I watched Ojakgyo and now I'm even more in love. He's awesome. That sexy frown of his is just….*swoons*

  34. 34 Jules

    Ugh, see, Shunji (actually typed Kenji at first – and that should tell you something, Shunji *meaningful stare*) strikes me as somehow who was only nice because he had no real reason not to be.

    Now that he doesn’t (because the brother he didn’t even like was killed? okay, whatever.), the mask has dropped. This is the real Shunji and he’s kind of monstrous.

  35. 35 bluemoon


    Just came here to say that if Shunji and Kang To were living in the 21st century, they would probably be at a bar or a strip club every time they needed to relax or drink.

    • 35.1 SS

      and Kang To can belt out his Oppa song any time he wants to when he installs his Karaoke home system in Gaksital Central?

      • 35.1.1 JoAnne

        I’ve got an extra room upstairs. Just…you know…sayin’.

  36. 36 MeeisLee

    “Did I say twisted? No, it’s downright all kinds of fucked up. I kind of love it.”

    I’m thinking this confirms that Javabeans is a sadist :).

  37. 37 MsB

    I’m still in awe over this episode! The fight sequences are fantastic!! The cinematography is one of a kind! Again, slo-mo done right! But Rie as the nun does not bode well for someone. Its my belief someone will die because of Mok Dan’s trusting nature on that front! We will see. I think ep 12 cliff-hanger will have all of us screaming at the TV, PC, whatever!

  38. 38 SS

    OMGGGGGG!!!! look at this http://news.nate.com/view/20120705n21369

    Why does this show make me scream for so many different reasons?

    • 38.1 Rose

      Omomo. Yeah, that’s what I want!!!

      That’s Kang To, Mok Dan! Kekeke. Love it.

  39. 39 SS

    Such close promiximity and after embracing Gaksital in such manner, Mok Dan still has no suspicion of Kangto being Gaksital?? I think torture does inflict some irreversible damage to the brain.

  40. 40 leddik

    Loving the bromance. These kind of epic betrayals where you don’t know that you’re best friend is the one you really hate keeps me coming back. I’m loving Rie too. So many layers. She’s evil for a reason and yet you still feel sorry for her. And so clever with the nun ruse. Very clever. Mok dan though, she annoys the crap out of me. I don’t know if it’s because she’s been tortured so many many MANY times. Kinda sad when you’re like, you’re not dead yet from all these tortures? I mean, you’d think they’d give up already since they’ve done it numerous times and still not working. Plan A is not so good so let’s go to Plan B, but no, Plan B is still Plan A. *yawn* I can’t wait for Rie to start messing with her. Hopefully she’ll become more interesting then.

  41. 41 LV

    “… He reappears a moment later on a rooftop for his glory shot with moonlit backlighting. Which cracks me up because he’s basically asking for the hero worship, and they’re happy to give it to him…”

    Yeah. LOL.

    But I hope it’s the cheers and happy faces from the market people that will soften his heart little by little.. Aw.

    • 41.1 cheli

      I laugh when Kang-to is a bit hesitant to give the bills of sale to market people, on the other hand I want to see Shunji screaming GAKSITAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!

  42. 42 srainy

    i kind of want to see them develop romance between kangto and rie a whole lot more than him and mokdan. maybe he can be her salvation as he saves himself!
    but i kinda want it to end this way; kangto dies as joseon regains independence and mokdan never knew who gaksital was until kangto almost dies. i want it sad all over lol

    • 42.1 QQQ

      Too bad Kenji died early. He’s more suitable for Rie. Hehe.

      Ah, Shunji never met Rie isn’t it. He knows about Kishokai, but no nothing about Rie. Gah.

    • 42.2 leddik

      That would make a more interesting show if they did that where rie and kangto saved each other. they’re both so many damaged parts, i would love if they completed each other. lol.

  43. 43 red

    This episode was awesome!!. I loved every minute. Theres so much to say but everyone has already said it, so I’m just going to add a shallow note.

    Holy Crap does Joo Won look mighty fine in a suit!! And he has some awesome suits, with his height and gait when he walks hes just gorgeous!!.

  44. 44 KK

    Since this is history based & I’ve read an autobiography of someone who lived in this period of time, I have a bad feeling I have an idea of how this all ends TT.TT

    And if it does happen the way I think it will, different people of different backgrounds will have different opinions so be ready guys!

  45. 45 fan

    This drama made me want to re-watch Capital Scandal with GangJiHwan and HanJiMin, and that is what I did during the 4th. I just love, love that drama – full of laugh and tears – story about a playboy who reluctantly became a freedom fighter due to a girl he loves.

  46. 46 Miss rain ENgineer :P

    Lol all this talking and comments about Joo won’s ?!@?!?! made me giggle kekekek ahhh xD i think i hv a new crush xD

  47. 47 cheekbones

    I’ve been wondering…… I haven’t watched the drama, just following it with the recaps, maybe someone can enlighten me.

    Kang-to had no problems whatsoever torturing Mokdan in earlier episodes. He clearly had no feelings, even a tiny, teeny bit, for her.

    Then, one day he discovered that Mokdan is the girl from his childhood, his first love. So now he has feelings for her. This seems too sudden for me. One day you tortured her, the next day you’re in love with her just because she’s your first love.

    I mean, did Kangto show some process at the turnaround ? Because you don’t automatically re-love someone from years past, just because she’s your first love. At least that’s my take. So, for me it would make more sense if it’s a process thing. Like, re-discovering that love ?

    • 47.1 JoAnne

      I don’t think he re-loves her. I think he never stopped loving her. Once he realizes Mok Dan is who she is, he can’t UN see her as that young girl who stole his heart. This goes a long way toward reconnecting him with his real self, which is necessary if he’s to become a hero.

      • 47.1.1 cheekbones

        Hmm….. yeah, I can see it if you put it like that. Okay, thanks. It’s one of the things, I believe, that should be understood if you’re actually watching the drama.

    • 47.2 tigger

      Recaps are great to note details that viewers might have missed but shouldn’t be substituted for the actual videos in which a whole production company is putting together with different persons injecting different individual layers into the final production. You got to see the videos and then catch the recaps. then you will want to see the videos over again.

      The pace of the transition or “maturity” of Kang To has been carried out just perfectly. You can see he doesn’t simply recognize what he never did in one day. It has been a gradual process to understand his brother’s action, and gradually to extend that to other “strangers” in his homeland.

      i just finished watching ep 12 and it seems however good ep 11 is, ep 12 just blew everything out of the water. Every single actor delivered. And watch out for a line the rescued comrade delivered. I bow to thee writer.

  48. 48 MsB

    BTW, fast recap! Thanks javabeans! Now if we can get Ghost ep 11, boy do we have things to talk about! 😀

  49. 49 namcha

    I’m a little confused about Rie. She is Joseon but is on the Japanese side right? Did she used to be a gaseng before? Anyhoo, thanks for the recap. Can’t wait to see the eps. This is my favorite action drama so far.

  50. 50 beggar1015

    There’s nothing I like more in a drama than a villain with brains, and Rie has brains. The Evil Council are such a collection of bumbling fools that I’m left to wonder how they got to be on the Council in the first place. I can’t take any of them seriously, but I can Rie. I worship your black heart.

    I know this will never happen but I would love for it to turn out that Abe’s clumsy goofiness is all an act and he’s really the secret agent for the independence movement. It won’t happen, I know, but I can dream.

    • 50.1 chichiri

      Well, actually, I think so too – that Abe’s is all just an act and that he’s the independence mov’t agent. Either him, or Koiso. But in keeping with the drama’s inclination for dichotomies, I think it’s Abe.

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