Drama Recaps
Gaksital: Episode 17
by | July 25, 2012 | 331 Comments

Oh. My. Goooooood.

There’s only one episode this week (and next week, thanks to the Oleeeempics), but thankfully there is plenty of awesome in this episode. There’s even—dare I say it?—awesome enough for TWO. I know! I’m still shaking from all the nerves.

The only question is: How will we make it to next week?!


Lena Park – “손해 (損害)” (Damage) [ Download ]

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Kang-to shocks Damsari by shooting his own officer to protect him, which is single-handedly the most satisfying thing about the previous episode. Huzzah! It’s awesome, although the independence comrades don’t see it and view Kang-to as the enemy.

Damsari stops his comrade from shooting Kang-to, but the comrade gets shot in turn by Shunji’s men. It’s chaos as both parties open fire on each other, magically losing the sharp shooting skills of just moments before (heh, I am amused at the convenience of everybody’s aiming prowess). The comrades escape into the woods, but the handcuffed Damsari is slower. Kang-to sizes up the situation and knocks him down with a blow to the neck just in time for Shunji to see.

Ack! And also, phew! I totally understand why this is a smart move on his part but wife-comrade witnesses this too, which makes it nerve-racking. That’s just going to fuel their anti-Kang-to hate even more. It’s good angst and I do love it, but my nails are not benefiting from all this biting.

Shunji eyes Kang-to suspiciously, but his explanation makes sense; Kang-to explains being caught by surprise and sighs that he would’ve been in deep trouble if Shunji hadn’t arrived in time.

Shunji orders Damsari taken back to the police station, but Kang-to balks—standing orders are to transfer him to the prison. Shunji tells him not to let his love for the rebel’s daughter cloud his judgment, but Kang-to throws those words back at him: Don’t cross that line. Director Kono ordered the transfer.

I love the tension this produces, because they’re both operating on ulterior motives that happen to be at odds. Shunji tries to pull rank on Kang-to, but Kang-to’s invoking police procedure to pull rank over Shunji.

They return to the station, where Shunji orders Koiso to keep Kang-to away from Damsari. He leans in close to whisper an addendum, which we don’t get to hear, but it has to do with Mok Dan.

Kang-to reports to Kono, saying that the rebels appear to still have much of their stolen firepower (a fact Kono hasn’t been apprised of till now). Therefore, he argues, it’s especially dangerous to proceed with Damsari’s public execution; the rebels are bound to attempt a rescue, and the public will be in danger from all that firepower.

Kono is shocked: “Public execution?” Aha! Kono spits rage as he calls Shunji in and slaps him across the face for defying his orders: he explicitly denied a public execution. He strips the stars from Shunji’s jacket and orders Kang-to to toss him in jail: He’s under arrest.

Damn. Things just took a turn.

But Shunji seems strangely confident and orders Kang-to to butt out. Did you just pull rank over the guy who outranks you? Shunji refuses to move one step until Kono agrees to the public execution.

Kang-to cuffs Shunji and starts to lead him away. But the phone rings—uh-oh, this can’t be good.

And indeed it isn’t: Governor Wada orders Kono to go forth with the execution. Looks like Kishokai was a little slow getting its political ducks in a row, but they’re there now. So while Kono argues that the public execution is a bad political move, Wada remains firm.

Kang-to looks at Shunji with budding suspicion: How could someone of his rank order around the police director? Ah, and now the distrust runs both ways. He wonders, “Who in the world could be standing behind Shunji?”

The cuffs come off, and Shunji thanks Kono for agreeing to the execution. Can a bow be sarcastic? It sure looks it.

For what it’s worth, Wada thinks Kono’s right to oppose the execution, but he’s never been one to let conscience and logic trump his more prominent traits of greed and cowardice. Especially not with Lala in the room with him, batting her eyelashes and pouting.

Shunji calls Kang-to in and asks directly why he rushed Damsari’s transfer. He admits that the ambush and attack was proof that Kang-to isn’t working in league with Damsari—and yet, the timing was so uncanny with the rebels attempting rescue at the most opportune moment.

Kang-to says he overheard Shunji proposing the public execution, and agreed with Kono’s stance. The empire is already dealing with a disgruntled Korean populace—mishandling the case of such a famous and symbolic man could trigger a much bigger revolution.

Asked if that’s the only reason, Kang-to adds that he couldn’t stand to have Mok Dan witness her father being killed in front of everyone. And despite the governor’s desire to hasten Damsari’s demise, they both know that Damsari has to be tried for the anniversary stunt—they can’t just kill him now arguing that he’d be dead at some point.

Shunji argues differently: Damsari is the “rat poison” that can wipe out everything in one dose—Gaksital and the rampant rumors sweeping the populace.

Kang-to drops by the jail, but notices something amiss and races out as Shunji gets the confirmation call that his instructions have been carried out.

Kang-to can’t find Shunji but deduces that he had Mok Dan removed. First he defies Kono, and now this? “When did Kimura Shunji become so powerful?” Again he wonders at Shunji’s backing, and thinks back to the anniversary party, and the hotel. There was that mysterious swordsman in Room 501: Katsuyama.

Kang-to calls the hotel, but nobody picks up in Room 501. He heads out to check for himself, and picks up the notice of his secret follower Ishida.

Shunji arrives at a hotel room, not noticing that his entry has been seen by Katsuyama. Inside the room is Mok Dan, and he has the nerve to ask how she’s doing, using the name Esther. It’s discordant with how far he’s crossed over to the dark side since he knew her as that name, and she spits in his face. It’s pretty satisfying.

Except… then Shunji tells her of the plans to execute Damsari upon arrival at the prison, so he’s relieved he was able to bring him back—you know, despite Kang-to messing up things by hurrying the transfer. Oh no. You. Didn’t. Are you really spinning yourself into the hero here? Ahhhh, you wily bastard!

She’s stunned. He says in his faux-gentle way, “Surely you didn’t believe Kang-to when he said he was in love with you?” He says that Kono and Kang-to want too much information from Damsari that she’s not safe in jail, nor is her father. Moving her here, he says, is the only thing he could do to help her and her father. Therefore, he entreats her not to escape and to stay here: “That will help your father. I’ll do my best to block the execution. Please, trust me.”

Arg arg arg! I am simultaneously disgusted and impressed with Shunji, and it’s messing with my head!

Mok Dan isn’t so easily swayed, thankfully, and she spits out that she can’t trust him—not when it was people wearing the same uniform who dragged off her mother, jailed both parents, beat them night and day, and dangled her in a well taunting her parents.

She calls them beasts in uniform, and Shunji looks horrified as he tells her earnestly, “Esther, I wore this uniform for you, to protect you, to save you.” She snatches her hands out of his, shaking in rage, but he starts to break down.

Shunji: “You know too, that Gaksital killed my brother. If I catch him, I could take off my uniform right away. I want to take it off! Taking it off immediately and teaching children—that’s how I truly want to live. Please. There’s nothing that I expect from you anymore—after I saw you agreeing to go into that box of nails, I even decided not to ask you who Gaksital is. I just… I want you to be safe, to be by me. Is even that much impossible?”

Well, god and damn. Now I DO believe Shunji’s sincerity, and it’s effing with my head even more. It’s at once both awesome and awful. Mok Dan says disbelievingly that even at this moment her father is in the hands of torturers—how can he tell her to sit tight in safety? She screams, “Am I your toy?!”

It’s not the reaction Shunji wants, and his face contorts in rage. The nice-guy protector turns into the petulant captor as he jumps to his feet and delivers a stunning slap to her face. Dayum. He calls for his subordinate and orders Mok Dan cuffed.

Rie calls Shunji in and tells him coldly that the governor is particularly concerned of another explosion at Damsari’s execution. Reminding him of his repeated failures to catch Gaksital, she warns him to be successful this time.

Business over, Rie sighs, “Shall we talk about personal matters now?” She has not been pleased to hear of Shunji’s hidden hostage situation and declares that since his plan failed, “I must get a return on the fish I caught.” He retorts that she shouldn’t be so quick to declare failure—that plan she thought he set to trap Gaksital was meant to catch Kang-to.

Rie scoffs, “Did you get any proof that Lee Kang-to is Gaksital?” Shunji replies, “Even just by proving he was not Gaksital, that trap had value.” Oh, where’s the irony fairy to drop irony anvils when you really need it?

Rie wants the girl returned to her, because Shunji still has feelings for her. Calling him blinded by love, she says she has to step in and “help” him out.

Shunji steps in close and warns that if Rie lays a hand on Mok Dan, “You die by my hand.”

This line of questioning takes an interesting turn as they drop to banmal:

Rie: “You’d ruin this grand scheme because of one pathetic Korean girl?”
Shunji: “Grand scheme? Ah, that plan to conquer the Far East and the Pacific? Is that what you’re fighting for?”
Rie: “Isn’t that what you’re putting your life on the line for?”
Shunji: “What a pitiful woman you are.”

Dayum. It’s an intense exchange, with both of them digging behind the other’s facades, questioning motivations and getting under each other’s skin. I love these two characters on their own, but when you put them together there’s such meeting of rich conflict.

Shunji leaves Rie feeling rattled; tears fill her eyes and she loses some of that haughty self-confidence. Interesting.

Kang-to arrives at the hotel to see Shunji leaving it. Too bad he doesn’t notice Ishida following him here as well; Kang-to beelines straight for Room 501. Before he decides what to do there, the door starts to open and he ducks for cover, seeing Rie leaving with bodyguard in tow. What the heck? This sure doesn’t fit into the Lala cover story.

Recalling their first encounter at the club when she kissed him, Kang-to realizes that she approached him with ulterior motive in mind.

Mok Dan sits cuffed in her room, and seizes a moment of distraction to knock down her captor and dart outside the room. She manages a brief evasion from the two guards, but they corner her quickly and draw their guns.

It’s Kang-to who calls the men to halt, and you just know Mok Dan has to be partly relieved and partly pissed off as hell to see him here. He sends her back into the room, leaving her captor waiting outside by saying he almost lost her. At least this gives Ishida nothing incriminating to report, although now they know Kang-to knows about the girl. His call informs Shunji of the development.

Mok Dan glowers at Kang-to for hastening her father’s execution, calling herself crazy for getting her hopes up when he said he’d help Damsari escape. She asks how he can use a person’s desire to live against them, when he’s Korean just like the rest.

Kang-to stares at her with these tortured eyes, saying, “I… thought you had died.” Gasp! Are you… going to reveal yourself?!

“If I’d thought there was even the slightest chance you were alive… I would have recognized you sooner. Boon-ah. Don’t you know me?”

Omo omo omo.

Mok Dan’s eyes widen. He continues, “That knife… the Young who gave you that knife… Don’t you recognize me?” Omg.

A flashback fills us in on their childhood meeting, and how much the knife meant to him, and the time he’d lost it and she’d made herself sick searching in the cold to return it to him. And then, the fateful day when they were ambushed, he’d left the knife with her, and seen her being cut down by their attacker.

They sit there staring at each other, Mok Dan trying to take this in. She’s having a hard time processing, understandably—where, how, do the personas fit?

Mok Dan: “Lee Kang-to… the Lee Kang-to who made my father receive the death penalty is the young master? The imperial policeman who captures independence fighters… is the young master I’d waited for so dearly? The Lee Kang-to who imprisoned and tortured me to catch Gaksital? The Lee Kang-to who tried to kill me in the square is the young master who promised to find me, if I just stayed alive?”

Well, when you put it like that, it just sounds bad. Her reaction is far from pleased; she wonders how this could possibly be. It’s a lie, it has to be. “How could Young Master turn into a person like you?” Oh, that hurts my heart. It’s worse because it’s all true.

She says, “I thought Young Master was Gaksital, the Gaksital who saves Joseon people.”

He tries to explain, but she flinches away and screams at him to leave. He tells her earnestly, “I know now, down to my bones, how wrongly I’ve lived.”

Shunji runs to the door, but stops short as Mok Dan yells, “I told you to leave!” I’m dearly hoping Shunji can only hear the shouting, because Kang-to begs quietly, “Boon-ah, please believe me. I really did try to help your father escape. There’s no time. Please, tell me where I can meet your comrades.”

But she just yells again for him to leave, and this time Shunji enters to enforce that demand. With no choice, Kang-to gets up and walks out.

Ahhhhhh, that scene was so good.

Governor Wada calls in his cronies—which include the count, the newspaperman, and politicians—for an advisory meeting to discuss ways to make the Joseon people fall in line.

They talk as though there’s a magic pill or spell that can be invoked to make all Joseon minds turn into Japanese ones, and propose that the first step is to outlaw the speaking of Korean and instate Japanese as the national language. Also, if anyone supports Damsari or Gaksital, they should be shot on the spot.

The count has been advised by the countess to think of their upward mobility, and to do what he can to secure himself a position of power. So he leaps up and proposes that they subject Damsari to a public execution, and gets others on his bandwagon. You’d think the governor would be happy to have this plan backed, but he argues that it’s inappropriate.

His advisors declare that it’s necessary to deal with the rebels, and they urge him to agree. He allows that since his council is so emphatic, for the sake of public order and as a warning to others, he will consent. Hm, so was Wada just playing hard to get, to make himself the Good Cop? Maybe he’s not a complete idiot after all.

Damsari’s back to the torture dungeon, where Kang-to finds him despite orders that he’s not to enter the room. He releases Damsari from his chains and sits him down.

Thinking of the ambush, Damsari tells Kang-to that he saw him saving the life of the comrade who was trying to kill him. Despite the fact that he serves under the Japanese, he’s Korean too, Damsari notes.

Kang-to informs Damsari of his public execution in four days, and that he’d promised Boon-yi he would help Damsari escape. (Tellingly he calls Damsari “Teacher,” a sign of respect.) But he fears this is too much for him to do alone, and asks for information on where to meet his comrades.

Damsari points out that his comrades would hardly believe him, but Kang-to says he’ll deal with that. During the ambush one of Damsari’s men died: “I want to rescue you, to ensure that life was not taken in vain.”

Damsari just tells him not to make risky, unlikely plans: “I can’t see any more young people dying to save me.” Kang-to says insistently, “They are not just dying for nothing. As you told me, I am breaking eggs against boulders, aren’t I?”

In their hideaway, Damsari’s team brainstorms for ways to rescue him. It’s looking discouraging, but they have an unexpected visitor: Gaksital, who gets an immediate embrace from the young comrade whose face lights up in hope. At least now Gaksital can have a voice, since nobody’s around to recognize Kang-to! (Because really, how well can you formulate a complex secret mission through head-nods and soulful stares?)

Rie fumes as she takes Chief Kimura to task for Shunji’s lingering soft spot for Mok Dan. Kimura protests, saying that that can’t be true; Shunji’s been on the ball lately. Rie isn’t having it: “I will kill that girl.”

Kimura agrees and gets up to leave. But she stops him: “You have to see her being killed first, don’t you?” Oh, you meant NOW. Yeesh. Now we know why she wanted that fish back so badly.

For that purpose, Katsuyama brings an unconscious Mok Dan out of her room, having already knocked out her police guards. It’s a short distance from the hotel to Rie’s room at the gisaeng establishment… but any distance can be intercepted, no? Kang-to pulls up to the hotel, sees Mok Dan being driven away, and follows.

Katsuyama enters with Mok Dan, who comes to groggily. She recognizes Rie, who still addresses her sarcastically as “Sister.”

Rie tells Kimura to report back to Shunji: “You don’t stake your life on something as ever-changing as love, but power.” Then she gives Katsuyama the order: “Kill her.”

Katsuyama raises his sword. Mok Dan closes her eyes. And flying in through the paper walls… is a dagger that lodges in Katsuyama’s arm.

Gaksital bursts through the wall next—seriously, where are you changing your clothes?—and knocks Katsuyama down with a series of hard blows to the head. But Kimura wasn’t a samurai for nothing, and he draws his sword too. En garde.

It’s a quick swordfight that ends with Kang-to knocking Kimura out, but then Rie takes her turn, charging after the fugitives. Katsuyama revives and pursues as well: it’s two swords, one cane, and a damsel in distress.

Rie and Katsuyama stop the fugitives on the bridge, and after a brief halt in action, Kang-to leaps into the air. The men splash into the water, and the ladies have their own one-on-one battle on the bridge.

At least Mok Dan is better at holding her own against one opponent, despite her lack of weapon, and manages to dodge the sword. But she gets knocked down and Kang-to leaps back up to help her… and finds that they’re sandwiched between the baddies with blades.

Kang-to barrels through and gets slashed on the arm to match the slice in his leg, but pushes Mok Dan toward freedom. He waves her away, indicating that she should run, and resumes his fighting stance. Bleeding, he holds them at bay while Mok Dan stands there paralyzed, which I understand even though I’m screaming at her TO RUN ALREADY.

Kang-to knocks Rie down with a blow to the neck, but gets knocked to the ground by Katsuyama. He’s sprawled on the ground as the sword prepares to swing down, and Mok Dan thinks fast (finally!). She flings her/Young’s dagger at Katsuyama, who uses his swing to deflect it.

Kang-to growls at her, “Run away!” He musters up a reserve of strength and launches himself in the air, his blow sending Katsuyama diving into the pond. Oh phew. But all the blood!

Kang-to retrieves Mok Dan’s dagger and escapes, just as Rie gains consciousness and sees his white figure dashing off.

Mok Dan runs into the forest to her message tree, and prays. She waits there for a good long while hoping for a sign of Gaksital, until finally she hears his horse approaching. It trudges toward her slowly, bearing an unconscious rider.

Mok Dan approaches in tears, registering Gaksital’s bloodied, weakened state and whitened face… and removes the mask. Oh. My. God.

It’s Kang-to’s face, of course, pale and stricken. Slowly he comes to his senses and opens his eyes, and looks up into her shocked face. Kaboooom. Mind. Blown.


Sooooo good.

I’ve said this before and as long as the drama continues it, I’ll continue to praise it: Gaksital doesn’t hold back. It doesn’t pull its punches, and it delivers what we want, usually when we want. At times it was a half-step slower than I wanted, but at other, more important times it’s been much sooner than expected, which is awesome.

Because while I was dying for Mok Dan to figure out the dual identity, I wasn’t actually expecting she would. Not with eleven episodes left! As long as she didn’t find out as the cliffhanger to the second-to-last episode, I was willing to go with a prolonged period of ignorance on her part. Especially if that gave us lots of deliciously angsty scenes like the one in the hotel where she’s spewing anger and hate at Kang-to.

Speaking of which, I absolutely loved her reaction to finding out that Kang-to was her Young Master. I’ve always thought she has been incredibly idealistic, not just about the independence and her principles (which is commendable) but also about Gaksital and Young Master. Even when it was Kang-san behind the mask, she romanticized him beyond his actual self; what she didn’t know about him (and that’s almost everything), she filled in with assumptions and hopes fueled by her own ideological passions. Just as she has demonized Kang-to beyond all reality. I understood it, but I love so much more that she has her own moment of harsh reality.

Admittedly, Kang-to hasn’t perhaps deserved to be cut much slack given his past, but Damsari is wise enough to see something behind his reputation and his past actions, even after Kang-to was the one who caught him and locked him up.

No such gray in-between areas for Mok Dan, who sees the world in stark contrasts. Shunji goes from friend to foe overnight, and Kang-to… well, I appreciate that this revelation shakes up her worldview. It doesn’t fit into her understanding of life, the cosmos, the universe—so maybe this is the start of a new facet of Mok Dan, too. One that’s just a little more world-wise, perhaps, with a little more understanding.

I say this all while finding nothing really wrong with her character—she’s admirably loyal and unbending in her integrity, so it’s not that she needs to lose that. But I find her perspective naive and young, and in this world of complex relationships and twisted loyalties, I welcome a bit more dimension.

Furthermore, I love how this plays out on Kang-to’s side as well, and that Mok Dan had that reaction to him before realizing who he is. The world puts him on that Gaksital pedestal and assumes he’s a noble, sacrificing hero, the stuff of fairy tales or comic books. Then the very same world hurls curses at him and calls him less than human for kowtowing to the overlords, lumping him in with the obsequies of the Count and Countess, only after personal gain.

Thus it was important, I think, for Mok Dan to connect the two opposing halves of his persona and challenge him on it—it’s not how Kang-to can do the things he does, but more to the point, how did sweet Young become morally corrupt and vicious? I can’t wait to see how Mok Dan handles this revelation; she didn’t accept his explanation that he knows he’s lived wrongly, but perhaps this is the proof—the only possible kind—that he’s doing what he can to do penance.

While we’re talking about dimension… how’s Shunji fer ya? I was growling at my screen for the first part of this episode because his two-faced ways were elevating my blood pressure, but as a drama character I have to say I LOVE him. I love to hate him, too, but it’s not a linear path of: Shunji evil —> I wish a pox on him.

Shunji’s descent into the dark side is one of the more realistic, complex paths I’ve seen recently in dramas, or perhaps ever. Usually you see a character struggle a bit to hold on to his goodness, then reach a point of no return and then say the hell with it, after which point he’s just eeeevil. Whereas Shunji, I find incredibly realistic. He doesn’t switch on an evil button in his brain and then conform to the expectations of that archetype. He’s constantly swinging back and forth, sometimes tapping into that earlier sweetness, then letting rage overwhelm his reason as he lashes out, Kimura-style.

Shunji fucks with my brain, but in a good way (narratively speaking), because I never quite know where he stands. And it’s not that you can’t read him, because I did believe his speech about wanting to go back to his teacher self and living a simple life. And I fully believe that he went into the police with only good intentions. So it’s not that I don’t think he’s being honest; it’s that his honesty swings wildly from extreme to extreme as he tries to reconcile all his warring desires.

For instance, Shunji wants to be the hero, and I believe his motivations are sincere. But he’s not noble enough to actually be the hero—he wants his grand gestures to be appreciated, he wants recognition. That’s why he alternately helps Mok Dan and punishes her: He needs her to praise him as he thinks he deserves to be praised, and can’t stand when she doesn’t then respond that way. When she calls him on his crap. It’s a selfish sort of helping hand, where he’s doing it more for his own gratification than for the help it actually does the other person.

Last but not least, I found Rie’s reaction to the confrontation with Shunji particularly telling this episode. They called each other on the excuses they’ve been making for their behavior, but Shunji pokes at the idea that she’s actually harboring a different motivation. Sure, she can spout off about the glory of the empire and the future of Japan’s domination, but pshhhhhh. He cuts right to the heart: What really makes you tick?

This ties into something I only caught onto in this episode. Maybe I’m slow or didn’t pick up on clues before, or maybe this is the first time it bubbled over—when Rie denounces Mok Dan repeatedly, she goes overboard to such an extent that it seemed like there was self-loathing mixed in. Till this point I assumed that she merely held the Korean girl in scorn, plus there’s the jealousy in knowing Kang-to’s in love with her. I don’t think Rie’s attachment to Kang-to (which interestingly is also mixed, love and hate) is that deep, but I could buy that she found it annoying that the pesky girl won his affections without even trying, when Rie had been thinking of him for the last five years.

But Rie’s cutdowns of Mok Dan’s pathetic, lowly, Joseon existence hint at her own insecurity complex. Which, as we know, are rooted in her fears of losing her identity after working so hard to reinvent herself. She hates Joseon for what it did to her parents, but she also fears it for being the dead weight to drag her down with it.

So much good stuff this week.


331 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. HI

    I love this drama! Thanks for the recap!

    • 1.1 Penguin

      I. love. this. episode.
      I watched two minutes of it on my phone in the middle of class in school, the very end, and then i gasped out loud it was embarassing!

      • 1.1.1 Jennifer

        I know!

      • 1.1.2 houstontwin

        Now that is a serious addiction! You probably shouldn’t bring your phone into class.

    • 1.2 Aquila

      How will I wait till next week?!!!!!

      • 1.2.1 Birthday Girl

        I KNOWWWW–BEST EPISODE EVA. Korean netizens are complaining about the cliffhanger too! 각각시시시탈탈탈탈탈!!! 어떡해!?!?

    • 1.3 kate

      I don’t understand all the love for this drama. I’ve honestly tried my best to enjoy this show but it hasn’t hooked me at all and I’m not buying it. It’s a big shame since I LOVED City Hunter. What mainly frustrates me is all the first loves going around. I HATE first loves storyline. Not only is there one, but all of them love the main leads for that one sole reason (young master->Boonyi, Boonyi->young master/gaksital, Shunji->Esther, Rie->Kangto). I’m not buying any of their love stories and find it ridiculous. This is because for instance, Kangto only started to like Mok Dan just because she was that little child girl and that’s when he automatically liked her, when before, he hated her guts. I don’t find their love real or strong. Secondly, I hate how no one can capture Gaksital. It’s not that hard when you have a bunch of officers. They all attack him one by one, why the hell don’t they just all shoot him with a gun? SO unrealistic. It’s pathetic how every episode, Shunji has a gun pointed at Kangto/Gaksital. Thirdly, I hate Mok Dan. She is so boring and does nothing but gets her little bum in trouble. I want her to be bad ass. I also found it so fake how she could keep avoiding Rie’s sword. Ok, if Rie can beat her up with her hands, how can she not hurt Mok Dan with her sword -.- Pshht, I like Rie better, I really more scene time of her. End of rant. I’m really trying to like this drama. It’s just it makes my blood boil.

      • 1.3.1 houstontwin

        I just want to address the childhood love issue…When I first started watching kdramas, I totally didn’t get the 1st love theme which appeared in at least 1/2 of the dramas that I’ve watched. You just have to accept it as a dramatic conceit and move on. Now, I just take the first love stuff for granted, like chaebols, and middle aged mothers who slap and scream at their adult children.

      • 1.3.2 Dominique

        Great points.

        Episodes 1-6 were tightly knit without plot holes. The pace was brisk, dramatic materials were fresh and spell-binding, and scenes of the childhood (of either Shunji, Lee Gang To or Mok Dan) added taste, class & depth to the drama, in the scale of Dr. Zhivago.

        However, once Lee Gang To put on the Gaksital mask, the drama just fell apart from inside out. Lee Gang To as Gaksital just does not work. I cannot understand why. I am still debating whether it has something to do with Ju Won, the actor, who is good looking but surprisingly lacks charisma to carry the show forward. (On Shunji front, we know that Park Gi Woong has no such problem. With each episode, he blossoms ever more.)

        Then came Episode 17.

        The most memorable scene in this episode was the last one – that of Gaksital riding on his steed unconscious. This scene is simply Wagnerian, reminiscent of Siegfried riding on his horse having been betrayed and mortally wounded.

        Incorporation of the childhood dagger into the present-day sword fight was also very clever.

        But the fact that, in the end, it took an intelligent woman (Rie) to finally get things (and the plot) moving again, despite all the muddle-headed men, Mokdan and writers of the drama, is truly satisfying.

        Dare I hope that Rie and Lee Gang To might develop a love angle? Rie seems the type who never does anything half-hearted. As such, I think Rie in love will be an intense sight. What a Momma’s boy just needs.

        I so do not want Mokdan (and Damsari, for that matter) to stick around much longer. Since she is a wanna-be freedom fighter, can the drama find a convenient plot device to let her be killed in action alongside her beloved father? Perhaps that will finally set fire on Lee Gang To’s ass. This twit might respond faster to revenge than love.

        I don’t know why so many commentators are willing to give Lee Gang To as much time as he likes to grow into the hero’s mettle. He was already a police officer, highly skilled in sword fighting, when his brother died and left Gaksital for him to usurp. That was 10 episodes ago.

        I am in Korea now. It will be an experience to watch Episode 18 in real time as it airs.

    • 1.4 Dominique

      There is a sub-issue involving class between Mokdan and Rie as well as Mokdan and Lee Gang To.

      Mokdan is a daughter of a serf. Thus, neither Booni nor Damsari has a legal name. Rie, on the other hand, is a descendant of a high-class Korean family. Ditto for Lee Gang To.

      Young Lee Gang To begged his family to save Booni, who had been left motherless on the roadside, from near-certain starvation and death. But nothing indicates that this was done out of boy-girl attraction. More likely, it was because Lee Gang To was already imbued with sense of charity towards lower class, i.e., noblisse oblige. Later, Booni risks her life trying to retrieve her young master’s precious dagger. But this, too, might be more properly explained by her loyalty towards her newly-adopted masters.

      Viewed in this context, I am not convinced that the bond between Booni and Lee Gang To is akin to love between a man and a woman. It seems more like a continuing & evolving relationship between a master and a serf, no matter how grateful/sweet each feels towards the other.

      When Rie sees Mokdan, on the other hand, I imagine she sees a lowly, unworthy servant girl, the likes of which Rie believes brought down and still populate Josun. Even in the absence of any feelings on her part towards Lee Gang To, Rie would not approve master Lee Gang To falling for a servant girl across class divides and Rie would blame the girl for it. That I believe is the major source of Rie’s venom towards Mokdan.

      The relationship between Esther and Shunji lacks class sub-issue, while it adds Japan-Korea twist. They met when Mokdan took part in saving Shunji’s Korean wet nurse in a hospital. But more significantly, they met as a boy and a girl. This is why, no matter how mental Shunji becomes in the course of this drama, I am inclined to root for Shunji-Esther love to grow and nurture each other. But not Lee Gang To-Booni, whatever it might turn out to be.

      • 1.4.1 SH

        Excellent insight regarding the love triangle. Like most commenters here, I think Mok Dan character needs some more internal complexities for us to relate to her. And Boon-Yi and Kang To’s relationship just seems so static.

        I know conventionally we should root for the hero, but I just can’t bring myself to root for Kang-To for some reasons. His character development just seems so choopy. It doesn’t have complexities and selfish struggles that I can identify with. I really enjoy watching Shunji gradually descending into evil. There’s always an air of mystery, of not exactly sure what he’s planning on doing. I can watch Shunji all day 😀

        I really hope Mook Dan is Shunji’s savior. I’m a romantic at heart 😛

        • HMH

          You said it perfectly. I find the bad guys way more interesting and easier to relate to than the good guys.

          And Mok Dan is annoying.

    • 1.5 Penguin

      Did you realize whether Kangto’s mad, sad, glad, or worried, he’s always so freaking HOT?!!

    • 1.6 HI

      doesn’t everybody

  2. ilikemangos

    Ohmyfgawd. I was screaming throughout that last fight sequence.. such a nail biter!! That scene was probably one of the best if not prettiest fighting scenes. With that water splashing all over?! Hotdayum. Oh Mok Dan, you couldn’t escape earlier when kang-to told you to?! Sometimes you need to think smarter&be more badass and not get in the way. I remember how she said in earlier episodes where she mentioned Shunji is one she can easily manipulate to get on her side. Remember that, mok dan?The dudes head over heels for you. It’d be nice if she trapped shunji in a kickass plan instead of vice versa all the time.

    • 2.1 Maya

      Hmmm.. Yeah, I also wonder what happens to her plan?!

      • 2.1.1 piaaa

        That’s been bugging me also. She needs to be more badass!

    • 2.2 Bengbeng

      hmm. i was also wondering about that. i think the writer can’t find any flirty ways of her =).

      Anyway, this episode is purely Daebak! Thanks for the recaps JB =)

    • 2.3 Minea

      Agree with the fight scene in the water. The slow-mo effect plus the film score for that scene was perfect. My heart is still pounding from the excitement! So. awesome!

      And someone needs to train Mok Dan officially how to fight so she doesn’t get her ass whooped by Lala anymore. Mok Dan, you gotta fight dirty now. Spare me the balletic moves and start fighting for real. Come on, your daddy’s Dam Sa Ri! Let’s see some headbutts and flying kicks!

      Gah. I love this episode!

      • 2.3.1 gomisshi

        Mok Dan is just lucky enough to survive from Lala..
        But I’m sure the writers aren’t gonna neglect Mok Dan of course.. I’m sure later on Mok Dan will undergo some changes too.. like fight better or maybe becoming smarter.. Everyone had changed already.. Shunji.. Kang To… Mok Dan’s era will come~ pfft… 😛

    • 2.4 Arhazivory

      I agree that water fight scene was epic. Whoa….This episode messed up my mind big time.

    • 2.5 MsB

      I was screaming too! As a person that love action first; romance second, this was masterfully done!!

  3. bigspacestar

    OMG the drama didn’t end with Kangto -Shunji face-off. whoop whoop 😀

    • 3.1 HK

      Yeah for no guns being pointed at KT/Gaksital!!

      • 3.1.1 Stardust

        YEAH!! My thoughts EXACTLY lol lol… and it ends with BoonYi/Mok Dan too! LOL I love everything about this ep… and is so afraid of Dr Shunji and Mr Hyde… er… haha He is so earnest I am not sure if he has gone crazy or now has split personalities. How can you strike the woman you love? No matter what?

        Kang to coming clean to Mok Dan is refreshingly fast. I was afraid of a long drawn out angsty thing and our poor boy needs all the help he can get.

        Lastly, may I just point out what an awesome horse Gaksital has? It comes with its very own GPS. I suppose he whispered in its ear : Tree… and it trots there by itself lol… also…where was the horse? How does it know when to show up? Does it graze somewhere until activated? hahaha…silly questions….

        Now I wait for next week. *SUPER PSYED*

        • CM

          I thought that costume changes and horse appearances were already defined as Kang-To’s magic power hahaha Well, I’m not complaining, Gaksital had to appear then and there, by the time he went to get his horse, it’ll be to late, from the narrative time point of view… so… I’ll just suspend logic on this one and enjoy bad-ass Gaksital on my screen:)

          • MsB

            Oh, the magic is the horse! He always knows where to go!!

          • Stardust

            After I wrote my rant I scrolled down to the sea of text below and found that people have aptly dubbed Horsital kekekeke

            I went googling and apparently horses have an excellent sound of hearing… Maybe Gaksital has some kind of dog/horse whistle which he can blow on and summon his Horsital! HAHAHA Look at us trying to fill the small plot holes…

          • Penguin

            MsB, I’ve been thinking, Gaksital couldnt have gone anywhere without his horse! And he never gets any credit! LOL

  4. Elizabeth Tai

    You know you’re obsessed with Gaksital when you keep refreshing dramabeans to see what she says despite having seen the episode TWICE.

    How is Mok Dan’s poor brain going to handle the fact that the person she loathed the most is also the person she loves the most? I can see her brain cells exploding already.

    And it’s only 4 more days till Dam Sari’s execution! Will Kang To recover fast enough to come to the rescue, or will the rebels, for once, do the heavy lifting for him?

    • 4.1 MsB

      You know dramabeans is also obsessed when the recap is up the same day as the episode!! 😀

      • 4.1.1 kdfan

        And such a dilemma this is because I want to know so badly yet I’d rather watch it first before I read. So while I keep refreshing the site for the subbed episode, this recap keeps popping up in my brain begging me to read it!

    • 4.2 meecheellee

      I know. OMGGGG. Gakistallll, you’re ruining me. How long will it take for another drama to pass the bar you’ve raised for me? *sighs*

  5. Maya

    She knows! She finally knows! And I have to wait for one whole week for the next episode?!! >.<

    Honestly, prior to this episode, I wanted to see MokDan to at least sympathize with Kang To first before finding out his other identities because first it's nice to see someone accepting him as Kang To (granted, with his past he prolly doesnt deserve it, but I just thought that he should get some kind of encouragement as Kang To) and second because I believe that she will be able to love Young Master/Gaksital wholly, for better and worse (better is Gaksital/Young Master and worse is Lee Kang To). But with how the secrets are now pouring out, I wonder how this will shake her ideology since she puts Gaksital on this really high pedestal, untouched by any flaws/imperfections. She expected that her Young Master is Gaksital, but when she finds out that Kang To is Young Master, she even loathed the thought of that. And now that she knows that Lee Kang To is Young Master and Young Master IS Gaksital (that's a lot to take in in one day), I wonder how it will shake her convictions. 
    Anyway, I just realized (I dunno if JB/GF has pointed this out before so this might be quite redundant) that Lee Kang To's childhood name is Lee Young and he's called Young master as well, just thought that it was an interesting play on words 🙂

    Btw, it's so satisfying to see that Kang To has finally won Damsari's trust, with him revealing the location of his members. And what's so satisfying for me is him doing that prior to knowing his identity as Gaksital. And this is what I yearn for, I really want Kang To to earn the same level of trust that he would receive as Gaksital. Which was also what I wanted to see with Mok Dan, but I’m not gonna gripe on that anymore.

    The cat fight scene is better this time around, but then again maybe because it was simultaneously done with the fight between Gaksital and the bodyguard, and also maybe because it was done by the stunts and so it was believable.

    At first, I find the childhood montage to be too long and a tad boring (since I’ve seen it a lot before) , but I think it serves a purpose for the latter part of the episode as some parts mirror these scenes. The scene where the bodyguard swings his sword at Mok Dan’s neck mirrors that moment when little Mok Dan almost got slashed in the field, but what’s great is that this time Kang To managed to save her instead of looking away. And the final scene where Mok Dan is waiting for him at the treemail, and then he finally come all battered and bruised in his horse (good job, horse! *pats its head*) kinda brings their childhood promise to a fulfillment: as long as she stays alive then he will find her and that she waits for him to find her.
    Btw some minor points, the police in charge of trailing Kang To is a fail! How come he didn’t tail him when he went to meet the rest of the movement members and also when he went to the hotel and eventually to that pavilion place. And would anyone notice Kang To’s car parked outside the place? And apparently Taro is as bad in wielding sword as he is in shooting. Just a couple of hits from Gaksital and he fainted? Blahhh…

    And yes! Shunji also fucks with my brain, I think it’s his switching back and forth that actually sends shivers down my spine. I find his sweet side as the creepier side now. 

    Anyway, thanks for the recap JB!

    • 5.1 MeeisLee

      I also thought that the scene where KT as Gaksital saves Mok Dan right before she sliced into cubes by Katsuyama (bodyguard) mirrored the scene where KT saved Rie when she was mourning. Except now Rie is the one in power and making the commands and also on the other side culture-wise. And I’m wondering if Mok Dan represents a younger more idealistic Rie which also rubs at her insecurities.

      I also keep wondering about what happened to Mok Dan in the field. Did she get slashed and survived or did someone save her just in time? Or was this explained and idr?

      Shunji is like a creepy, pyscho serial killer who blames his victims for the way he is. He’s scarier than all of the Kimuras and he also has better aim (he killed a guy in this episode). Bad combo!

      • 5.1.1 Maya

        I’m not sure what happened to her in the field, since it was kimda vague. but I think someone saved her from getting slashed, I think it was one of the servants (need to check back on the episode)
        And yes thanks for bringing up the point of how the scene also mirrors the scene where Rie almost got slashed. I think Mok Dan resembles Rie in that both are standing strong by their convictions. However, Rie’s motive is more on trying to be a filial daughter rather than patriotic. And she hates the independence movement because she believes that they tricked her dad into funding them, but then got him killed.

        • MeeisLee

          I think the reason is working so hard to keep her Japaense persona is because President Ueno has been a father figure to her. It gave her security and identity at a time when she was confused, lost, and angry.

          And her situation is similar to early Kang To who only saw the independence movement to be pointless and unable to help families/ people in need in addition to being the reason his father (and later his brother) died.

          • MeeisLee


          • Maya

            Agree. And I also think that Rie prolly doesn’t want to be treated as powerless second-class citizen (just like she’s been forced to serve the Japanese guests at the Gisaeng) and that’s why she hates being a Joseon citizen. Power then becomes the most important thing for her given that she is puzzled in this episode at how indifferent Shunji is in attaining power over Joseon and how Kang To would put his job (which she refers as high position for Joseon citizen) at risk to save Mok Dan in previous episode. And she is thirsty of power because she doesn’t want anyone to look down at her anymore. So I feel that her reason for turning into Japan’s side is rather selfish. While Kang To, even if he was thirsty for power too, it was actually fueled by his motivation to protect his mom and brother, and especially to earn money so that he can cure his brother. Which is ironic because he was never sick in the first place

        • MsB

          Previous flashback showed how someone killed the man about to kill her. Don’t remember the episode but it was shown. It might have been Baek Gun; not sure.

        • beggar1015

          You just made me think of something. Kang To’s shoeshine ahjussi – sorry, don’t know what his character’s name is. Anyway, in this present he has only one hand. In the flashbacks in Manchuria he had the hand. What if this is how he lost the limb, by saving Boon Yi? What if he’s the one who got her to the convent where she became Esther? (Has it been explained yet how she became Esther?)

          Just a thought.

          • Maya

            You know what? I never realized that the shoeshine ahjussi is MISSING his left hand until you mention it! Seriously, am hitting the back of my head now for overlooking that big detail. Thanks, @beggar1015!
            And yes, the shoeshine ahjussi could be the one that saved little Mok Dan back in the field, at the cost of his hand…

      • 5.1.2 KK

        Hmmmm, well, Boon-Yi ended up at the hospital place where Shunji met her as Esther. There’s a scene where she’s begging to the man who’s in charge of the hospital, begging him to save Shunji’s Grandmother and mentions that he was able to save her so I guess someone passed by a while later and took her to a hospital 😀

      • 5.1.3 kkul

        I’m inclined to think what happened to Mok Dan in the field is she used that knife young master gave her.

    • 5.2 reeen

      I was also wondering about the trailing policeman’s incompetence. But then I figured out he probably only works 9-5,so no it all makes sense 😀

      • 5.2.1 Maya

        LOL-that’s the funniest justification! 😀
        But then again, he’s only incompetent during pivotal moments..

        • Apple

          maybe he reported back to shunji and all that will play out next week.

          ahhhhh…..ONE WEEK!!!

      • 5.2.2 Arishia

        Maybe he’s another inside man, working for the Freedom Fighters.

    • 5.3 Minea


      “And apparently Taro is as bad in wielding sword as he is in shooting. Just a couple of hits from Gaksital and he fainted? Blahhh…”

      HAHAHA. You said it. He’s totally useless in a fight. And he even posed like a badass katana-wielding samurai. I now believe that, whether it’s guns or swords, your weapons are just props. Epic fail, Chief.

      • 5.3.1 MsB

        Kang To hit Taro at pressure points. He obviously learned a lot from Baek Gun! btw, where is Baek Gun? He is just not utilized enough!

        • piaaa

          I know right!?! I was like where the fck is him? He should be trailing Kang-to the way he sis with Kang-san. So they should know someone is spying on him. ARGH.

    • 5.4 houstontwin

      I’m very impressed, I didn’t see those parallels between their childhood and the present.

      As you seemed to imply when discussing the fight scene. Mok Dan seems somewhat inept. I wonder if the actress feels uncomfortable with martial arts.

      • 5.4.1 Jellybeaniebaby

        According to JW in an interview, they would do some of their martial arts training together. He was praising her for how much she had improved, especially since when she first started, she couldn’t do as much as a handstand.

  6. redfox

    I watched it last night without subs and I was on the vergew of fainting, but I felt I couldnt cause I would miss some plot poinbt. so it was like holding myself by the hair with eyes taped “must….keep….going….arrrggghhh!”
    That fight was epic. especially cause it looked like multiple mirrors, one behind another.
    Joo Won´s acting was amazing and the sequence of past events was heartbreaking.
    remember, Kang To is not just the person she hates once, loves once – she hates him for being a traitor, for arresting his father, and before, for chasing Gaksital, before he became one. And she loves him two times – as young master, as Gaksital., We need a third for that to be even, and a fourth reason to outbalance the hatred…

    at least I am going to a folk music festival so it is not so hard to bare without Gaksital.

  7. MeeisLee

    Yay for Gaksital. This episode soothed my previous drama woes (ahem, I think you know who you are, Other Drama). It makes me reluctantly hate the Olympics because there’s only one episode this week and how can you leave me on that mask-unvieling moment?!

    And I don’t understand what’s with all the Mok Dan bashing (at least in the viki comments). I think she’s a strong character who has clear ideals that she sticks to. I only find it annoying when she keeps getting used at pawn piece, in and out of jail, susceptible to wrist grabbing (and not even the mildly affectionate kind). She doesn’t have the kind of power and status that Rie has to move around people to her pleasing. So comparisons aren’t that fair. I’m not saying she’s the perfect heroine but she’s not as bad as some people are complaining and wishing for her death.

    • 7.1 ilikemangos

      Agreed with the whole “wishing” for her death.
      Seriously shes not THAT bad. Sometimes, i wished she was more smart(that would get her out of alot of trouble), and give us viewers more badassery heroines, but i blame the character writing for the fact that she was always used as a pawn. I felt like it was a cycle @_@
      But one thing i always admired about Mok Dan was how strongly she stood her ground, always. You can’t wish for death for a person like that. Just cruel.
      i read the Viki comments too, and im just like tough crowd.

    • 7.2 Maru

      I don’t understand it either. I mean, I read one comment saying Mok Dan need to eat all the words she said to Kang To in the episode. People, cut her some slack, the dude did torture her AND try to kill her twice!!!

      She only knows that Kang To. Now she is gonna start to see the Kang To we (the viewers) know… let’s see how she takes it and the development. If I was her, it would be dificult to register everything that she just discovered.

      • 7.2.1 Minea

        @ maru

        “I don’t understand it either. I mean, I read one comment saying Mok Dan need to eat all the words she said to Kang To in the episode. People, cut her some slack, the dude did torture her AND try to kill her twice!!!”

        Some people are really harsh with their comments. They need to look at it from Mok Dan’s point of view and not us as the viewers. We see Kang to doing all his heroic stuffs but for Mok Dan, she only sees him as the Harbinger of Death and Mayhem.

        Now how can I survive just one episode this week with that kind of ending? It’s not the Box of nails but it’s still torture.

      • 7.2.2 Arhazivory

        If I was Mok Dan, I’d have harsher words and a few kicks for him too.

      • 7.2.3 Penguin

        That’s true, seriously people, don’t hate Mok Dan so much. Hate the writer. Swear at her/him all you wish. And she’s not a bad actress.

    • 7.3 tapioca pearl

      Yeah, the viki comments were just whacko this episode. I normally don’t mind them, but I had to turn them off because I thought they were bordering on inappropriate/hateful/demeaning.

    • 7.4 yammy

      Agreed! I don’t understand why there is so much Mok Dan bashing. I’ve seen it both in viki (so you watch it there too!!) but also in any other website that has reviews/info/news on Gaksital, and even on videos of OSTs,etc. Mok Dan really hasn’t had the life that makes for a more complex character. She was orphaned young by her parents (younger than any other characters, including Rie, I believe), she lived with the missionary doctors before she was part of a circus. How can she have the same complex layers as the other three characters who had more drastic/severe(for the lack of better word) lives?

      Also, Mok Dan can be reflection of how we/general mass see heroes/anti-heroes that the other characters are. How many of us can honestly deny that we don’t have a world view that is black-and-white like Mok Dan’s?

      Many (including me at first) complained about the scene of her praying/worrying for Gaksital at the end of the episode. It was, however, a very constant showcase of her character. We already know that she is very religious, so what else would she do? And, what else can she do? Can she call out the members of the circus to help save Gakistal? Not really. Call for the comrades? Possibly, but not probably the smartest thing. Also, if she was such a loss of a character, she would have refuse to look under the mask so that she can keep her Gaksital on the pedestal. Her reaching out to see was a way for her to face (a bit) the challenges to her world views that had been planted by Kangto at the hotel.

      Or can it be that, can I dare to suggest, everyone is hating on Mok Dan/the actress because she gets the love of our beloved Kangto/Joo won? (I KNOW I AM!! Joo won is suuuuuccch a cutie <3)

      Like someone had commented on viki, I would like for Mok Dan to grow someone who would helps Gaksital/Kang to in all his heroic efforts, especially since everything seems stacked against him these days. Also, what happened to her devious plan using Shunji from few episodes back, writers? It would be awesome if she does it for the Independence Movement, because in the end, it will also be for Kangto/Gakistal. And we all know what happens when helping the love/hatred one mixes with helping with the Damsari and comrades!

      • 7.4.1 ilikemangos

        i’m hoping that now Mok Dan knows kang-to is gaksital(although it’d be alot to take in), that she’d accept it, move on, and become his girlfriday. 😉

        I thought the praying at the end was consistent with her character, so i dont know what people are talking about. lol. She woulda been on the path to being a nun if not for the independence movement.

        • yammy

          “She woulda been on the path to being a nun if not for the independence movement.”AHAHAH LOL That is so true!

          Now that comment has fueled a speculation to an end of the drama: Kangto/Gaksital dies at the arms of Shunji, killed by the mortal wound inflicted by Shunji. Mok Dan spurns the offer from Shunji to live him (since she learned to love Kangto by then) and goes and joins a convent where she prays and helps the other independence fighters (historically, religious figures, esp Christians supported the Korean independence movement).

          Oh gaksital this is what you make me do instead of getting excited for Olympics. Thank goddness 1n2d is schedule to air as usual even with Olympics. I need more Joowon!! <3

          • JoAnne

            Here’s what I want:

            Shunji dies in what turns out to be his first and only moment of true selflessness, saving his buddy Kang-To and the girl they both love.

          • FrozenPearl

            We all know that secrets won’t last forever. So now MD was the first one to find out. I think Shunji or Rie will be next, though I would like it to be Rie more to find out that KT is the Gaksital because I want to see her reactions, to follow either Korea or Japan. Eeeeeee!

            Shunji WILL eventually find out because like I said, secrets won’t last forever. I bet he’s gonna be furious!! Another sad and maybe gory ending I s’pose. Maybe both Shunji and KT will die…but who will be the next Gaksital? Probably Mok Dan… Or Shunji if he’s still alive… I’m not saying that KT will definitely be dead, I’m just saying my opinions.

            Oh and Baek Gun. He’s practically useless, well he was MUCH more useful when Kang San was the Gaksital (Yunno, knocking KT down every time). And now, all he does are polishing KT’s shoes and discuss the plans and treat KT’s wounds. Come on man! Do some sort of fight with KT against the Japanese! Be his companion in fights!

            I’m happy to see the old lovers reunited. Yay! But I feel that Shunji will be jealous when he finds out and starts planting moles all around KT for them to break up forever. But the problem is that the couple will probably always stick together so it’ll be 50/50 of either KT dying or MD dying.

            In conclusion, there are so many possibilities but I’m not listing them because it may spoil the show. Well, maybe a little of my own lol!

        • Penguin

          I wonder what will happen after she’d figured out? Run away and ignore him until the next few episodes where (i bet) she’ll start softening up to him?

      • 7.4.2 tapioca pearl

        Well said about Mok Dan. I agree with the consensus that she’s not complex, but not every character has to be. Kang-to, Shunji, and Rie provide enough complexity for me. Like you said, Mok Dan is a reflection of the audience. If there’s any character that I can connect with, it is Mok Dan because there is right and wrong for her. I hope that most, if not all, of Gaksital’s audience can distinguish between right and wrong like her. And those complex characters are there to mess with her world views as well as ours.

        And on a shallow note, yes, Joo Won is too cute! I still can’t believe maknae Joo Won on 1N2D plays Gaksital. Where does that intensity come from, dude?

        • ilikemangos

          Man. he’s one of those actors that has that raw talent.
          i remember JB and GF commenting on the difference of acting as a learned technique and it just coming naturally to you.
          I feel like joo won has that.. which is why i was immediately captivated by him when i first saw him act.
          There’s just that immediate connect with his character.

          • tapioca pearl

            This is the first drama I’ve seen him in. It took me a while to warm up to Joo Won for some reason. While I was captivated by his talent and intensity while watching the first few episodes of Gaksital, thinking that no one else could play Lee Kang-to, he didn’t stick with me. And then like a bus–BAM–some episodes later, I’m a bit obsessed with him. It’s befuddling to me, but I welcome it.

        • Minea

          YES about Joo Won! He’s just so Brilliant as an actor. I loved him in Ojjakyo Brothers and more so here in Gaksital. I’m just amazed that he could play the characters from both ends of the good/bad spectrum so convincingly.

          I, too, can’t still believe Joo Won of 1n2d plays Gaksital. O.o The mysteries of the universe . . .

        • Lilly

          Not complex is an understatement. The character’s outstanding trait is to stand out in the open so danger can spot her and stare like a deer transfixed by the headlights of a car, dating all the way back to when she was a child hiding in the grass.

          She and Shunji are funny to watch. They just are. I like it.
          Hating on them is part of the fun and excitement of the show to me. I am glad they are totally weird.

      • 7.4.3 Apple

        “Or can it be that, can I dare to suggest, everyone is hating on Mok Dan/the actress because she gets the love of our beloved Kangto/Joo won? (I KNOW I AM!! Joo won is suuuuuccch a cutie <3)"

        mirrored my thoughts exactly! =DDDD

    • 7.5 MsB

      Yeah, the comments were coming out of left field against Mok Dan! Without a weapon, I thought she was doing well. I still contend it was her moment, ep 17!

    • 7.6 la dee dah

      I can tell you one of the main reason: many of those commenters are girls that like Joo won, and thus like Kangto, so they will automatically hate the person that Kangto likes, and hate on her even more since she hates Kangto, conveniently forgetting that Kangto totally deserved all the hate by the way he treated her. Happens with a lot of dramas where the guy is famous and cute. There’s also the “Kangto is trying to do things to help her, why is Mok Dan so stupid that she can’t see that and cut him some slack”? They conveniently forget that viewers see “everything” and saw what Kangto has done, while Mok Dan doesn’t any of it. So I would not even try to read any of those comments at all or reply to them. Fangirls can be very stubborn and vicious. Stick with more “reliable” and ‘sane” commenters like those on Dramabeans to get more accurate assessments!

      Another reason may be that people want Mok Dan to be more strong and efficient at fighting and defending herself so she will be less of a “victim”. But not everyone can have great fighting abilities. She really represents the “ordinary” person that tries to do right. I think that makes her even more admirable – she can’t really fight, but she is more than willing to try to fight to stand up for what she thinks is right, even knowing she will probably be beaten in the end. She doesn’t hide in the corner.

      • 7.6.1 Hafy


        I agree with what you had written. I couldn’t write it better than this.. ^^

      • 7.6.2 1061-kun

        I also agree. I like her but how many times has she been caught and either let go, rescued or escaped? 4 or 5 or more?

        I call it “catch and release”. I blame the writers for being lazy.

    • 7.7 awkwardturtle

      I completely agree with each and every person who has replied to your comment. I thought I was the only one who really sympathized with Mok Dan.

      I rewatched ep 17 today on Viki and my goodness the comments that were spewed towards Mok Dan really just were inappropriate and unecessary. I understand that people are entitled to their opinions, but this… it’s just way to cruel.

      We as viewers, have the advantage of seeing each and every side of the characters, whereas the characters themselves obviously don’t.

      Mok Dan not being able to believe that Kang-To IS her beloved young master, was superbly realistic. She’s only seen ONE side of him, and that’s the evil freedom fighter eater that he WAS, the one he used to be.

      And all those commentators that kept saying “Omg just believe him! If I were Mok Dan I would throw away everything he’s done to me in the past and throw myself at him. He’s such a hottie!” Pffft. PLEASE! You all need a reality check!

      Mok Dan just isn’t a complex character, she doesn’t HAVE to be exactly like Kang-to, Rie, and Shunji. Some people just have TOOO high of expectations sometimes.

      I could go on and on and on about this…. but I won’t. I’m quietly anticipating tomorrow’s episode, as I know we all are 🙂

  8. stars4u

    Great episode!!!
    But the wait is killing me!!!
    This episode zoomed by, leaving me wanting for moooorreee!!

  9. monkeyface

    so so so good. cant wait another week!!

  10. 10 ilikemangos

    Despite the fact that some people don’t like Mok Dan, you’d be in denial to say she doesn’t have stellar acting. Both scenes with shunji&kang-to this episode I felt the anguish in her voice. Great performance, for a newcomer.
    And Kang-to, your eyes are like pearls in the ocean.
    Shunji, you creep me out as you always do, but keep up the good work. I hate how he’s so clever, but I guess that’s needed for plot development.

    • 10.1 MeeisLee

      Agreed! (I feel like I’m returning the comment, haha 🙂

      Everyone acting was super great in this episode. I could totally see the mix of emotions in her (Mok Dan) eyes when KT told her he was Young Master.

      Joo Won continues to be great. Park Ki Woong is doing a convincing creepy, crazy person. And yes, Gaksital needs a competent and clever opponent so it’s even more satisfying when he escapes their traps and give them a taste of their own medicine.

      • 10.1.1 mojobobo

        i think Jin Se Yeon’s acting in this episode was the best so far ! Hooray for her 🙂 Keep it up girl!

      • 10.1.2 Penguin

        Even when everyone totally hates Shunji’s character, you gotta admit he’s an awesome actor, yes? But Joo Won is WAY better, and I am NOT saying that just because I like him.

    • 10.2 Minea

      I’m still a little ambivalent about the actress playing Mok Dan but she’s certainly getting quite good. I’m not sure if she’s perfectly casted for the role, though. But I’m not complaining. Can’t wait for her reaction on discovering Gaksital’s identity.

      I do love Rie – so kickass! and how i wish Katsuyama is on the side of good so he and Gaksital can be besties. What? He can’t have a sidekick? I can totally picture the bromance.

      And of all the villains i’ve ever watched in a drama, Shunji is the best. There are villains that I wish to the heavens that the Express Train to Hell come for them stat. But not Shunji. He’s one villain i don’t think I’ll ever hate. (I hope i didn’t speak too soon.)

      • 10.2.1 MsB

        Shunji=*chills running down my spine* What’s more evil than a pretty face and a smile while stabbing you in the back! That is in essence Shunji! Taro said it best! He has exceeded Kenji!

        • Vincy

          I must agree. I’m not sure whether I believe the sincerity of Shunji’s rant to Mok Dan. He always says that but his actions say otherwise.
          Shunji isn’t just dipping into evil, he’s going in head first.
          and I miss their bromance. I think they still want to be friends but their work says otherwise…

        • Penguin

          Kenji was all “Imma beat you up if you get in my way.” But Shunji’s all “Imma plan, strategize, and do anything to kill Gaksital. AND beat you up if you get in my way, mark those words.” Shunji exceeded MORE than Kenji.

  11. 11 Vanessa

    AHHHH <3

  12. 12 redfox

    and whats more: with Rie and Shunji, I forget it aint real, and go all: Plan to conquer Far East? Oh shit. Better call someone. Call NATO. they are very intense and overwheming

    • 12.1 DarknessEyes

      haha i don’t NATO was made yet and the League of Nations was basically useless lol

    • 12.2 Penguin

      I have a feeling Rie will end up with Shunji. I strongly doubt either will die. Probably turn into good guys, or run away and surrender. I dunno. It would be terribly awkward if they died.

  13. 13 jellybeans

    This drama is not good for my heart or my nails. 🙂
    But I love it anyways, and I think I’m obsessed. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT EPISODE!!!
    Thanks for the recap! 🙂

  14. 14 ajj

    Now I have to wait for a week to know what happened after this? T T

  15. 15 Ruru

    “Gaksital bursts through the wall next—seriously, where are you changing your clothes?—and knocks Katsuyama down with a serious of hard blows to the head.”

    Yes, I’m also wondering where he hides his clothes and mask (and hair gel/gel remover) coz it’s definitely not under that tight western suit….

    • 15.1 redfox

      there weren´t as shy those days….

    • 15.2 Elizabeth Tai

      You’re worried about where he’s hiding his suit? How about his horse? I’m starting to think that maybe his car turns into a horse. That happens all the time in manhwas after all … 😛

      • 15.2.1 tapioca pearl

        I was totally worried about how he was going to get his car back.

        • Elizabeth Tai

          Maybe Baek Gun will drive it back. I like my car turning into a horse theory though. 😛

      • 15.2.2 MeeisLee

        Lmao @ the horse comment

        I’ve come to calling the horse, Horsital! Because it just changes into it’s mask and comes when it’s needed. It’s like KT just beams a mental Horsital message and it’s there on command.

        • Elizabeth Tai

          Horsital! LOL. It’s psychic too. Always know where Kang To is.

          • Minea

            @ MeeisLee

            LOL @ Horsital! ^_^ Heeheehee.

            @Elizabeth Tai

            And also knows how to find Mok Dan after knowing where Kang To is.

          • lia

            Love..love… this horsie theory….. I think Gaksital horse its something like the “Kid” car in “Knight Rider” series who always can track his owner “Michael” or can be called just in a few minutes with a call from Michael’s watch. I’ll bet it’s the radar was put on the Gaksital iron steel… which can beep with just one press button…. 🙂 And for changing costume.. well… I only can say… that’s because he is Gaksital that he can change clothes like Superman…

        • MsB

          Horsital! I love it!

        • linda macy

          I am so laughing at your comment about the horse and calling it Horsital. Most American westerns have the horse hero…save them from burning buildings pull them up after they have fallen over a cliff, come running by when the cowboy needs to jump on their back from a building. Come on a whistle or just magically appear. The horses are famous and have names. Thanks to you this horse is famous too…long live Horsital and his master Gaksital

          • Sirena

            Your comment made me laugh out loud! Long live Horsital! 🙂

        • muhloy

          “I’ve come to calling the horse, Horsital! Because it just changes into it’s mask and comes when it’s needed.”

          BEST EVER! hahaha

        • jin


      • 15.2.3 Maya

        LOL @ the horse transformer comment!
        But yes, would anyone notice his car parked outside the pavilion?

        • Maya

          Btw, Gaksital and his trusty horse kinda remind me of Black Kamen Rider and Battle Hopper – and just reminds me at how old I am now… 😀

      • 15.2.4 redfox


      • 15.2.5 Penguin

        OMG lol seriously what happens if Gaksital is in the middle of changing, and a police officer spots him? “It’s Gaksital!”
        “Oh wait, let’s just pretend we never saw that…let’s go, Koiso…”

      • 15.2.6 idlehouse

        lol, the clothes changing thing was the first thought I woke up to this morning, ha ha

    • 15.3 Dita

      don’t think too much about it (changing clothes and hiding mask), we never see SPIDERMAN changing his costume right?? ^^
      So, never mind for me.

    • 15.4 SS

      You are right! Space? Kiddin Who?

      Nothing Comes Between Kangto and Pants

  16. 16 Maru

    One week. We have to wait ONE WEEK. Thank God I’m gonna try and distract myself tomorrow and go to the movies to see Batman!!!

    But I don’t think that will be enough. I missing tomorrow’s episode already!!!

    • 16.1 ilikemangos

      haha. im watching batman tomorrow too, which will hopefully make up for gaksital’s lost episode.

      • 16.1.1 Maru

        May the Gotham City Knight and Nolan blow our minds with an awesome movie so we don’t feel the loss of Gaksital.

  17. 17 Jo

    Mok Dan finding out both of Kang-to’s secret/real identities. And on the week where we get just one episode. Askjdassdjasda. Shunji is scaring the crap out of me, but at the same time, I feel bad for the poor guy who just wants to be loved and live simply. But no, he still freaks me out plenty. :))

    Way to keep us satisfied and begging for more at the same time. Well played, show.

    Thanks for the recap! 🙂

    • 17.1 JoAnne

      Shunji turns out to be the worst kind of evil man – the one who’s just too weak to be anything else. Because sometimes he’s good, so you keep hoping you can count on him. He thinks he WANTS to do the right thing. But he’s a monster wearing a mask, and his TRUE nature is the ugly one. He’s only good when it doesn’t cost him anything.

  18. 18 redfox

    gosh the invasion and the occupation are just like the Soviet occupation in Estonia. Forbid their language, torture, execute andbuy out. force to cooperate, make them all the same. Almost feels like the russians copy-pasted it like they did with everything.

  19. 19 LT

    Another amazing episode! On a side note, poor Kang To… he has gotten so cut up and everything! So many wounds!! How does he even walk xD

    • 19.1 MsB

      And how is he going to explain this absence?!

  20. 20 tapioca pearl

    Thanks for the recap!

    Great episode, Gaksital’s been kicking ass this whole past month. I held my breath too many times during this episode. If this episode’s cliffhanger was THIS good, I can only imagine that 18’s cliffhanger (if it was supposed to air Thursday) will kill me. Why, Olympics, why??????

    I agree that Shunji is just an interesting character, the best villain I would say I’ve encountered in dramaland precisely for what you’ve said about him, javabeans. And he creeps me out like no one else. It’s a different kind of creepy I’ve ever felt about fictional characters all over.

    Also, I really liked the camerawork in this episode. Interesting angles and shots. I’m ashamed to say I never really noticed the camerawork until this episode.

  21. 21 JenJen

    Oooo yes this was a good episode. I don’t know how I’m going to survive a whole week without my Gaksital fix. Loved the revelations about Young=Kangto and Gaksital=Kangto.

    I was also particularly interested in the gisaeng fight scene where the camera does an almost-slow-motion shot of Gaksital holding the cane back up to fight and juxtapose that with shots of Lala’s/Rie’s reaction. Something about that slow-mo makes me think/hope that Lala-Rie might plant the seed of suspicion that Gaksital may be Kangto (because to me that part of the scene mirrors Lala’s/Rie’s memory of Kangto saving her in their first encounter).

    • 21.1 ilikemangos

      ooh. good eye.
      perhaps there may be something there?

  22. 22 lordj

    Oh my God!!! How can I last a week with a cliffhanger like that???

  23. 23 April

    God, I love love love how often this show surprises me. It’s such a pleasure to watch.

  24. 24 Rashell

    This drama just keeps stepping up it’s game. I loved the conversation between Mok Dan and Shunji as well as the one between her and Kang To. Really Shunji and Kang To are two of the most complex drama characters ever and they are on exactly opposite paths. Such a great juxtaposition to see the good guy go bad while the bad guy goes good. I loved your assessment that Shunji wants to be the hero and get the girl. But that’s his reason for being the hero. And that is exactly why he can’t be one. His conflict is compelling to watch.

    And now it will be interesting for Mok Dan to have a conflict to deal with as well. I’ve felt that her character needed to have more depth to match everyone else who seem to have so many different facets to them. Will she just accept Kang To as Gaksital and forgive him for all of his work for the Empire? Or will she reject a Gaksital that doesn’t live up to her ideal image? I’m so ticked that I have to wait a whole week to find out.

    Thanks for the fabulous recap of a fabulous episode.

  25. 25 Elizabeth Tai

    It’s a stellar episode, but I couldn’t help but notice a few plot boo boos like that time when he turned to Mok Dan to tell her to run away, and Rie and Jun were so nice to wait for him to finish 😛 Or how lax security at the police station is because Kang To could still sneak into the torture chamber to see Dam Sari.

    And where does he stash his horse? Please, someone tell me cos it’s bugging me haha…

    The thing is, with Kang To down and out for a while (I assume that his wounds will not magically heal, but this is kdramaland so maybe he’ll be right as rain in a day) so is he gonna explain his absense to Shunji and how is he going to help rescue Damsari in 3 days??

    • 25.1 ilikemangos

      i remember reading one of the viki comments about how japanese samurais believed in an honor system in fighting in which killing someone who has their back to them is dishonorable. don’t know if that’s what they meant to portray or what.
      someone mentioned in the previous comments that his horse is horsital — another version of him. Comes flying in whenever he’s needed! haha.
      Kang-to needs to be a bit better in deceiving shunji esp. since he just got out of that hot mess he ended up in, but i have hope! And yes, this is k-dramaland so his heals shall be healed by next episode, just a guess 😉

      • 25.1.1 ilikemangos

        his wounds shall be healed*

        • Elizabeth Tai

          The samurai explanation makes sense … I guess it’ll be a great dishonour to attack a person’s back. Ah, noble, wicked Jun.

        • Minea

          Hello, maknae. Good point on the samurai honor system. I wish that honor would also rub off on ex-chief Kimura. But i shouldn’t hope too much. With his fighting skills, or lack thereof, I’m suspecting he’s a faux samurai.

          • ilikemangos

            Gosh i missed being called maknae!
            It’s so good to see some hearties in here. 🙂

    • 25.2 tapioca pearl

      I try to make sense of these plot boo boos, as you call them, too:

      1. Mok Dan was frozen in place, wanting to make sure Gaksital would be okay, which I would totally be doing as well (I don’t think she was in the way at all)

      2. Maybe Rie and Jun have enough goodwill and integrity to face their opponents head on?

      3. I think this drama has proven from the getgo how incompetent the Jong Ro police are.

      4. The horse is magic.

      I hope that helped! Honestly, when a drama is this good, I forgive it for its momentary lapses in logic.

      • 25.2.1 ilikemangos

        Oh don’t even get me started on the Jong Ro police.
        I’m wondering how they even got to where they are today.
        I guess you can consider this fine in my book because there are many other stronger villains that can fight. Katsuyama, who always makes my heart beat faster when he takes out his sword, and Shunji, who’s always been a bit better than Kang-to with the sword as well. Guess you need to weaken the police, since they’re such a large body. I feel like they exist really only because they were there, just to make things realistic and not have
        Gaksital make a riot and have nobody do anything.
        Yup. with a show this good, you tend to overlook the minor logic fails.

        • Elizabeth Tai

          They can’t shoot worth a damn – a squad of police armed with rifles felled by three gunmen. 😛

          Yeah, I excuse all these plot boo boos only because we have such awesomesauce actors. Joo Won is absolutely stellar and I ‘m sucked into his performance that I don’t really care about the details.

          Now, Dr Jin on the other hand … some times the WTFuckery is so crazy you can’t excuse them no more … pretty Dr Jin or no…

        • bishbash

          It’s just like, how before Korean dramas were the rage, people watch Hong Kong dramas and the police ALWAYS, without fail, arrive only AFTER the hero has taken down all the baddies and released hostage and what not.

          Police are unneeded when we have the hero around 😀

        • missjb

          lol action genre is always like that, isn’t it?
          police or whatever is always inferior compare to our hero, lol

    • 25.3 trixicopper

      Happens all the time in Sageuk. The hero surrounded by 10 to 20 bad guys, who are polite enough to attack one at a time. 🙂

    • 25.4 Penguin

      It’s like, “Horsey, appear!” and then the horse appears out of thin air and stomps on Katsuyama Jun…:P a nice scene.

  26. 26 sunshine

    When Shunji tells Rie how pitiful she is, I didn’t see it as him breaking through her facade. Instead, he just revealed their different motives, and he sees power as such a pathetic motive that isn’t worth his sacrifice. Of course, this strikes Rie particularly hard, since she was so powerless when she was a Korean gisaeng. Even now after she’s reinvented herself, the power isn’t hers but her father/lover’s, and he threatens to take it away at any mistake. This tugs at her inferiority complex, and I agree that seeing Mok Dan, who doesn’t even have to try, infuriates her.

    • 26.1 oblivious

      hmm i kinda saw Shunji’s pity as calling Rie out for her unrealistic idealism too. Making her a bit more like MokDan than she realizes. I think alot of this episode was showing how similar the two women are/could have been.

  27. 27 Jaylee


    This was the fastet ive ever read a recap. Urrg, even the recap for this episode was just as gold and good as the episode OMGOMGOMG.

    I’m going craaaaazy. WE NEED MORE GAKSITAL. Now please?! 🙁

  28. 28 ilikemangos

    I was thinking that when kang-to revealed he was bridal mask to mok dan earlier in the room how it was too anti-climatic for me, but I’m glad she didn’t believe him, as she should take everything with a grain of salt. Her reaction is realistic, so I give the writers that. You don’t go believing someone who captured and tortured your dad, yourself, and the joseon people when he says he’s gaksital, freedom fighter. BUT Im glad that she knows now. Who knew the writers would drop this bomb on us early on? I am so pleasantly surprised, considering there were those fake-out or shunji/kang-to showdowns recently.. On the upside, Mok Dan will stop getting in the way when kang-to is trying to help. Anyone else happy about this? Argh. I hate how we have to wait another week for this! Darn you olympicss!!

    • 28.1 MeeisLee

      Kang To was confessing that he was Young Master. Even though Mok Dan believed Young Master = Gaksital, Kang To wasn’t admitting that. I think he was simply just trying to prove his feelings were real and genuine and stemming from their childhood history. And it’s also one of the reasons why Mok Dan was confused and emotional when she heard considering her idealistic views of Young Master and Gaksital that conflicted with her views of the evil Kang To that tortured her and captured her father. So with that info, I think she stepped back form the idea that Young Master = Gaksital. That is, until she saw it in the flesh when she took off his mask at the end.

    • 28.2 KK

      He didn’t say he was Gaksital to her, he revealed he was the young master from Boon-yi’s childhood 😀

      She mentioned the Gaksital because she thought that Gaksital was the the young master she loved and couldn’t connect the fact that Kang-to is Young who is Gaksital.

      I know it can get quite confusing, Mok-dan was just in disbelief that Young Master wasn’t Gaksital but one of the men she hates the most :Kang-to.

      And I must agree with you! I’m happy she knows now although it’s quite early because not only will she be able to get out of the was when Kang-to is trying to help her father escape but maybe create a distraction for him to do so successfully!!

  29. 29 nuri

    Will be having major gaksital withdrawal tonight, rerun, anyone?

    • 29.1 dasotong

      me!me! – hands up-

      gonna replay & replay this episode.
      its seriously daebak!
      i really wonder how to survive till next week though 🙁

      • 29.1.1 nuri

        one week to find out her reaction is a wee bit cwazy!!

    • 29.2 MsB

      Definitely! I’m going to hook my laptop to my TV so I can watch on the BIG SCREEN!!! YES!!

      • 29.2.1 nuri

        nice idea! now, i’m going to find out how to do that!

  30. 30 crazedlu

    ooh. LOVE how you wrote enough to cover for the episode we’re technically missing tomorrow. ^^ LOVED this episooode!

    eleven eps left, and i’m thinking the writers have this thing plotted out. yesss!

    to end, JOO WON!

  31. 31 Lady Seoul

    I’m quite shocked too that she found out! A good choice of words this drama brings me to, ‘MIND BLOWN!’ Although for next 11 episode I hope it doesn’t drag or play on repetitiveness.

  32. 32 hoochie

    Thanks for the recap!

    Damn and I thought I was being smart to think that the dagger would eventually be used in a later episode for Mok Dan to make the connection that Kangto is Gaksital. I didn’t think they would have the big reveal today and to have it on a week when there is only one episode. They are trying to kill us lols and I was banking on Damsari to be the first to find out. I was wrong about that too. I wished that young Kangto had given young Mok Dan a bigger weapon. Seriously, that dagger is never going to injure anybody at this rate.

    Talk about taking advantage of a man when he is down. Dude he’s bleeding and the first thing you do is take off his mask lmao shame on you, Mok Dan. I hope the horse knows the way to Baek’s house because we need a party at Baek’s! lols well it’s the only safe place I can think of and perhaps Baek can give Mok Dan some of Kangto’s back story since he’ll probably be knocked out and so she could hate him less.

    • 32.1 yammy

      Exactly what I wished!! I want Mok Dan to have a “WTH IS GOING ON”/tortured thinking moment at the Gaksital HQ exactly like how Kang-to and Kang-san had before. And Mok Dan might even recognize Baekgon from her the past and make her a bit more able to believe Kangto. OMG I can’t wait for the next episode!!

    • 32.2 Airyn

      I’m on the “Damsari Would Probably Know First” train, too. So I guess the writers will now have to develop the MD/KT relationship keeping in mind that MD must overcome everything KT has done to her and her father and the Joseon people even though she now knows that he is both Young Master and Gaksital. I hope they have something good up their sleeves.

      • 32.2.1 MsB

        Well definitely the trust developed between KT and Damsari. He told him the location of the rebels!

      • 32.2.2 shelly

        unless something happens and

        a) either mok-dan loses memory (maybe the magical horse kicks her and she hits her head)
        b) kang-to loses memory (the magical horse throws him off and he hits her head).

        so then one of them wouldn’t even remember what the other one knows lol.

        of course that would be too far-fetched but there are some 11 episodes left, and we all know mok-dan can’t act to save her life (fooling rie doesn’t count, as rie really wanted to believe her, cause she was soooo much better and wily, according to herself.)
        what if she’s caught yet again and / or threatened to have her father killed or saved on her telling who gaksital is?…

        oh and here’s my magical horse theory: baek gun has a way of preparing the horse for instant action when gaksital needs him, and the clothes are there too. and oh, because i’m perving here, kang-to changes his clothes sooo fast he goes all comando underneath – that saves his bleached white uniform or perfectly tailored costumes from getting stained or cut. perfect 😀

        the only bad thing is that the magical horse is also a pretty stupid horse – even with its rider incapacitated, he always goes back to the stupid tree… shunji knows about the darned tree, what if it had been him waiting there to catch another message being posted?? stupid, stupid magic horse.

        • JoAnne

          Either she hits her head or he hits her head, but in any event it’s from the magical horse? hahahahah I love it very much!

          • Penguin

            Haha the horse is the hero in the end, the horse conquers all Japanese officers and throws all Joseon guys off a cliff, no one remembers anything, everybody wins…

  33. 33 HK

    This episode leaves me feeling so satisfy!! Thanks for the recap!

  34. 34 DarknessEyes

    only one word able to describe this week: AMAZING!!!!

    how on earth will I wait for next week???? TT_TT

  35. 35 SS

    “Recalling their first encounter at the club when she kissed him, Kang-to realizes that she approached him with ulterior motive in mind.”

    But she did enjoy the kiss, Kangto

    • 35.1 shelly

      rie mixed business with pleasure, i mean… this was kang-to, right? :p

  36. 36 red

    Omg omg I have been waiting for this episode, but I had to come in early for work so I can’t watch it until I get home noooooo!!!. Gah omg, I hate spoiling things for myself so can’t read the recap either, but omg Joo Won looks intense in that top picture.

    Ok just 5 more hours till I get home, I can make it.

  37. 37 glace

    Neeed more Ra Ra! Her and Katsuyama are so awesome and still kind of mysterious.

    My mind is so confused while watching this. I could care less about Mok Dan and the whole Independence movement, since I find that side so boring. We’re much more exposed to the Japanese side, where there’s lots more tension and personal feelings and pasts mixed in.

    • 37.1 missjb

      I would like the writers explore more about japanese side, too… They are seems more mysterious that needs to be revealed and more interesting.

  38. 38 ilikemangos

    Sometimes I feel like kang-to needs to find better places to reveal his true intentions because when shunji was at the door I was freaking out, but thank god all he heard was Mok Dan screaming for Kang-to to get out.

    ”(Because really, how well can you formulate a complex secret mission through head-nods and soulful stares?)”
    LOL just my thoughts, JB.

    • 38.1 shelly

      he now growls at mok-dan, he might’ve communicated via written messages with the resistance, but eventually he’ll have to speak. in public. i’m willing to bet it will be some “look out / run / come here!” yell that everyone including shunji hears so that everyone – including shuji – realizes this is kang-to.

      unless he gets so hoarse no one can recognize him anyway, and with him being dunked in the water so many times, who knows…

  39. 39 GUESS

    I dont know what to say anymore!! How many times do we have to see the heroine get kidnapped or arrested…. same old plot again…. EVIL guys kidnapping or arresting the main girl to lure BRIDAL mask!! SOOOOO REPETITIVE!!

    • 39.1 Elizabeth Tai

      I love the show, but I have to agree – if Mok Dan gets kidnapped/captured/tortured one more time I’m gonna take the writer aside and talk some sense into her. I’d like to see tortured though. That will be a nice change. (wicked smile)

      • 39.1.1 Elizabeth Tai

        *Shunji tortured. See? I hate him so much I can’t even type his name.

        • shelly

          he’s already tortured a lot, so much his mind snapped pretty fast after he was dragged into the whole mess.
          he had an idyllic existence, where he was loved and loved the kids in return, all happy-happy joy-joy all the time, and then suddenly, his best friends’ house is burned down and his family murdered, his brother is slaughtered in front of him, his father who always looked down on him seems a lot more humane (he saw him crying over the dead brother), he gets rejected by the girl he loves and changed his whole life in order to save…
          for a man who was a pacifist, his turning over to the dark side was conditioned and precipitated by the actions of everyone around him, even his friends and loved ones.
          so now – if he was a real person – his mind would be a mess, going from “what the hell am i doing” to “why is this happening to me” to “i can’t get out of this” to “i want it all to go away” to “they did this to me and they have to pay”, back and forth all the time.

          that would make me crazy in a heartbeat too. the actor does a great job on this, and even as i expected him to be jekyll and hyde (given his previous role in “chuno”), this time he overpassed my expectations.

    • 39.2 tapioca pearl

      Well, technically, she was kidnapped for the first time this episode, and it was so she could be killed. So not quite the same as the usual plot device. But I get where you’re coming from.

    • 39.3 Airyn

      I’m thinking this is an aspect of the writing that we really just have to swallow and enjoy the rest. 🙂

  40. 40 missjb

    this episode is indeed awsome! What I REALLY LOVE ABOUT Gaksital is this drama is centered on character more rather than plot. And so far the writers has done a good job to built yp that foundation.

  41. 41 Chesquared

    Omg. Omg. OMG. I seriously was screaming. I’m starting to become really fond of Mok Dan’s character. She’s not the typical heroine which explains why people find discomfort in her character. Which I do too. I have never seen a character such as hers. She’s just so strong, and will never back down. So much integrity. That actress is so talented. I’m so happy she doesn’t use wide-eyed expressions. You can tell there were so many thoughts rushing threw her head. Amazing.

    Joo Won my dear, why have I forsaken you before? I now declare myself a fan and will marathon your past dramas asap. I heard he does his own stunts? If so I applaud him for that water fight. Omg that was so beautiful. It was kinda reminiscent of the Duelist. Just wow. I’d say so far Gaksital is my favorite drama of the year so far. It truly does deliver everything we want.

    I keep watching that last scene when Mok Dan takes the mask off. Joo won looked so damn sexy all wet and vulnerable. That look in his eyes at the end when he regains consiousness. Omg. Mok Dan please heal the dude & his poor heart.

    • 41.1 ilikemangos

      baker king(if you overlook the makjangy elements), was where i first saw him and his eyes were just so captivating.. i immediately took interest in joo won after that. he played one of the best evil brother/friend.
      I haven’t watched ojakgyo brothers but i heard he was absoultey cute in that one!
      And yeah, i cannot stop replaying that last portion. Absolutely satisfying this week, despite not having our second dosage this week.
      I feel like the writers gave it all to us this episode on purpose. ha

      • 41.1.1 J

        O. Brothers was good. Watch.

      • 41.1.2 bishbash

        yup ojakkyo brothers is good. joo won is all too cute in there.


        • Penguin

          OMG when I was watching Ojakgyo I was SCREAMING for him

      • 41.1.3 Arhazivory

        You’re missing out girl. Go marathon OB now. 😀

      • 41.1.4 SS

        I am ADHD when it comes to dramas. Lost track of many recommended dramas which I never went beyong ep 2 or 4. 58 episodes to me is akin to a Olympic record.

        But I guarantee you Ojakgyo Brothers is going to make you love Joowon even more

      • 41.1.5 Minea

        Yes! Ojakkyo was the first thing i watched after my K2H withdrawal. I. Loved. Joo Won after watching OB. So sweet and adorable. I didn’t think much of him before but after watching OB, i’m now in the Joo Won bandwagon. OB is 58 episodes long so be forewarned. There were some parts i fast-forwarded but any scene with the OTP (Joo Won and UEE) was pure gold. Loved it.

        • sweetspring

          awww you guys are making me go all nostalgic over OB & Joo Won was beyond cute then, especially in the earlier episodes with his shorter hairdo. that was some good family-centric k-drama!

          • JoAnne

            oh, and the scene at the light house…SIGH….BIG BIG SIGH…

            JooWonnie, so adorable.

          • Minea


            yes! that light house scene. SO SWEET! what about the rock-paper-scissors game at the convenience store? I think that was the scene I replayed the most.

          • JoAnne

            @Minea – I haven’t seen every episode yet. I think I might do that over Christmas shut down.

          • Penguin

            I liked the Uee walks in Taepil and Joo Won shirtless thingy

        • Lita

          count me in.OB is the best..JW was soooooooo cute & manly in OB
          the look of his eyes to his co-star ( Uee ) soooo real!!!!!
          there were so many memorable moments between the OTP
          the akwardness & the cuteness are belong to the OTP ( JW & Uee )..you must watch OB for sure!!
          OB is a long drama with 58eps..but if you are starting to watch OB,,,you will asking for more episodes!!

    • 41.2 Penguin

      He does his own stunts?! Damn I’m loving him even more!

  42. 42 whoneedssleep

    Awesome episode!
    And I have to say that the music was fantastic!!

  43. 43 Star

    thanks javabeans! you & girlfriday write great reviews with great analysis! i think i would miss out on a lot of the emotional conflict if i don’t read your reviews xP

    so excited for next week! i’m curious how mok dan will react & if she will accept kangto for who he is.

    i love the olympics so much … but this year, i’m a little annoyed with it xP I NEED GAKSITAL!~~~

  44. 44 annashee

    I must say, I do love how kangto told mokdan first. She was the first to find out before anybody that Kangto was youngmaster and gakshital. It was such breath of happiness, given that most heroines always seem to discover things the last. whoot whoot!

  45. 45 Mary

    Pardon my French burgos one was sooooooo fucking good OH MY GOD!!! Can’t washout for next week WTF olympics I hate you so much right now!

  46. 46 J

    Oh. FINALLY >.< So good. So awesome. I can finally love Mok Dan's acting. The truth is finally out. Love Joowon and Ki Woong's performance. And RaRa. And the Samurai. Hahaha. 🙂

  47. 47 MeeisLee

    I saw this on FB and figured I would post the link here. Earlier on I saw some commenters making City Hunter and Gaksital comparisons but I decided they were two different dramas.
    So far, I’m not committing to a side. They’re too great dramas for me.

    But I’m wondering if anyone is Team Gaksital or Team City Hunter?

    • 47.1 ilikemangos

      i think each should learn from each other.
      (writing this without reading the blog so there’s no bias.)
      personally, i think gaksital needs to learns city hunter’s more slick-style whenever he’s on missions and being able to clean up his mess without leaving traces.
      and i think city hunter was awesome, but gaksital has many layers of depth in its history i just find fascinating.
      It takes me to a place i’ve never seen.

      Just gonna keep it short

      • 47.1.1 crazedlu

        gaksital gaksitals city hunter to oblivion. just my very accurate opinion. heh. alright, i’m just being mean. still, i’d take a flute stick to city hunter any day. =’D!!

        • cherrytreela

          No comparison. I vote for Gaksital all the way (100%) but I did enjoy City Hunter.

        • Sugarpunch

          LOLLL yeah I like gaksital better, because of the level of complexity involved that makes it very real.

          but I agree that city hunter had many good points too! I mean, his execution of the missions and his funky gadgets… I would take that any day over the flute and kickass moves.

          Obviously, I’m someone who prefers gadgets, like James bond;)

          • gustave154

            Gaksital is more badass than all those other guys…

        • shelly

          umm, i loved city hunter (min-ho looks amazing, and the cute moments are way cute) but the best action-thriller drama out there is by far IRIS. (so far anyway). it’s the first and only drama where ALL the actors carried the show, so to speak. i am amazed by its perfection and i’ll re-watch it over and over again. despite the last minute of the last episode, or maybe just because of the last minute of the last episode.

          as for a comparison between city hunter and gaksital… why compare apples and oranges? they’re both juicy (*wink*) but in different ways.

    • 47.2 missjb

      Although right now bridal mask won me over more, City Hunter has a special place in my heart. Because this drama is the first action-thriller kdrama I appreciated alot. And seriously, City Hunter is not rely on Lee Min Hoo only to carry the show.. It’s the same case with Bridal Mask. That article only descript more about Jo woon vs Lee Min Hoo rather than Gaksital vs City Hunter lol..

      • 47.2.1 giddy

        I totally agree that Bridal Mask is much richer and more complex than City Hunter. Joo Won is a true actor, and in range of emotions, is stronger than Lee Min Ho.

        BUT, as much as I see Bridal Mask as an outstanding drama, I’ve watched the episodes only once, and don’t even read all of the recaps. Whereas with City Hunter, I watched multiple episodes more than once and checked fervently for recaps. Yes, I love Lee Min Ho, but Joo Won in Baker King and Ojakgyo were more compelling.

        Both dramas have great ensembles–but City Hunter’s characters were more endearing–ajusshi and the prosecutor win out over Shunji and Rie for me.

        Logically, Bridal Mask is tops. But emotionally, City Hunter does it for me.

    • 47.3 Minea

      Thanks for sharing the link. That’s a pretty funny post. On a shallow note, I’m biased towards Joo Won these days so it’s Gaksital for me. But seriously, I’m enjoying the storyline of Gaksital and I’m anticipating with bated breath where this story is gonna take me. I also just love the cat and mouse game that Kang-to and Shunji are playing. So. Good. So, hands down, it’s Gaksital.

    • 47.4 yren

      Regarding this topic i have some points to share: ( just according to my point of views, i do not force others to have the same opinion! )

      Well for a starter I love both drama I’m a fan of city hunter co’z this is the first action drama i really got hooked in to! lee min ho’s acting in CH was great, same with the other actors and actresses who’s in it….but man! Joo Won’s acting in BM was epic!He doesn’t care at all as long as he can beautifully deliver each and every scenes perfectly image be damn!!…and its not only a JW’s show co’z Park Ki Woong was awesome(i mean this guy literally creep’s us out to boot!)which makes the turmoil and tension between him and kang to seem so real..same goes with the other casts…

      And as of the story line, city hunter was somewhat predictable that(in some cases)you already know what’s gonna happen next while in BM you keep on guessing and guessing what will happen just to be stunned and blown away to the unexpected turn of events(like of course we all know that kang-to will eventually took over the mask, but never did i imagined that he will be the one to kill his own brother)..and CH never submerged to the dept and complexity that Bridal Mask did! CH is a story of an immediate hero while Bridal Mask is a story of a man who put on the mask because he is bound by guilt and eventually transform into a Hero that he should be…the darkness that BM has, surpasses the good image that CH tried to project..in city hunter LMH’s character was automatically loved by everyone while in BM they were never afraid for JW’s character to be hated first rather than to be loved immediately and went to the extremes of making kang to so spiteful and almost a monster!

      As for the villain, CH never had a villain that can almost equally matched the hero in some aspects(like their skills, their story of transformation and as to how far they will go for the sake of their love ones)…the reversal of Shunji descending to the dark side and Kang to ascending to the good side was perfectly done that made it so believable and realistic!..

      As for the heroine they are somewhat similar in some ways…like badass one moment and damsel in distress the next, but MK’s background was somehow more complex than Nana and MD has a deeper connection to KT than NN to LYS(plus JSY’s acting was more believable than PMY. PMY is kinda stiff – no offense meant)…

      And the action scenes..CH’s action scenes were great but it never made me jump like BM’s epic action scenes did!…Every cliffhanger ending of CH made me crave for more…but BM’s cliffhanger ending drives me insane…

      So for me, City hunter was great, but Bridal Mask is EPIC!
      :)>- :)>-

    • 47.5 MsB

      I have to give it to Gaksital! When it comes to the action, hands down. The story and the assortment of interesting characters might lean towards City Hunter. As far as the OTP, still out on whether Mok Dan/Kang To beats out Yoon-Sung/Na-Na. I admit, I was slightly more interested in Young-Joo/Soo-Hee but that’s because of bias for Lee Joon Hyuk!

      • 47.5.1 Penguin

        Compared to Gaksital, City Hunter SUCKS.

  48. 48 p

    This ep was amazing. I think that Shunji is deep down a very selfish person who is mainly concerned about his own feelings. It often seems he does things only to serve himself and make himself feel like a good person. One moment he is using Mok Dan to further his plot for revenge and the next he is telling her how much he cares about her and all “gwenchana mok dan!” Give me a break. He just wants to reaffirm to himself that he is the good guy in all this.

    I hope there are at least 1-2 eps before Mok Dan fully forgives Kang To. It would be weird if happens in half an ep. Im glad that she knows Gaksitals identity. It should open up some new character development between the leads.

  49. 49 hmm...

    Wait… the Olympics doesn’t even start until Friday. Why aren’t they showing the episode that is on Thursday.

    • 49.1 bishbash

      beats me too.

    • 49.2 jool

      Maybe it’s because the soccer match of Korea vs. Mexico is tomorrow at 6:30 AM PST so it’ll be Thursday evening in Korea?

    • 49.3 tapioca pearl

      I’m wondering if having two episodes this week and no episodes next week was the original plan, and then they decided to just split the episodes so we can at least have a weekly dose of Gaksital.

    • 49.4 Star

      theres a soccer match on thursday. soccer always starts days before the opening ceremony x/

  50. 50 Farpavilions

    I just marathoned the subbed eps of 1N2D season 2 and keep thinking This Does Not Compute. How does Babyface Joo Won turn on the slasher/venger/killer onscreen? Does he flinch from bees and toads while doing jungle chase scenes??

    Comparing Gaksital to the current batch of dramas makes me think of those 1N2D scenarios where they picture all the lads as ne’er-do-wells except for Joo Won, “our only hope.”

    Shunji is thrilling and terrifying (and beautifully read by Javabeans). He has the Jekyll/Hyde thing down pat, with a hint of domestic abuser (the I love you -> I’m going to beat the crap out of you –> I’m so sorry I didn’t mean it –> you made me do it -> I’m gonna hit you again cycle).

    If only they could duke it out for end-of-year best actor awards … Park Ki Woong gets less screentime, but his acting is just as good. That scene when he paused outside the hotel door to prep his face gave me the chills … he’s smiling but no longer smizing, as Tyra Banks would say.

    And poor Mok Dan … to receive two confessions in a row from two seriously fucked-up (but incredibly yummy) men torn between Good and Evil, Past and Present? That hotel sofa must be the Confession Booth from Hell.

    • 50.1 missjb

      i always amazed by PKW ability playing Shunji. He is definitely a character that hard to potrayed. You have to be able to potrayed two different side, a good side , evil side at the same time… When he is smile geniunely I though he has turn into good guys mode, but he’s not.

    • 50.2 Airyn

      He has a drama switch, I swear! LOL. Did you see the episode where they had to cry on command and he did it so quickly that everyone was amazed? 😉 It really makes you appreciate his talent. 🙂

      • 50.2.1 DarknessEyes

        oh what episode was that???

      • 50.2.2 Farpavilions


        I watched that scene like 5 times!! That was the ep which made me think I had to watch the subbed versions even though I’d already caught snippets of the RAW and the Dramabeans recaps.

        I wonder if the vets UTW and Lee Seung-Woo were secretly cursing the maknae out for making them look bad!

        I think my fave bit of 1N2D so far though is the bit when goody two shoes Joo Won hides everyone else’s shoes so he can get breakfast 🙂

      • 50.2.3 Jellybeaniebaby

        Yeah, I was blown away by that too. He could make himself cry in less than a minute. He did the part where they weren’t supposed to laugh and he immediately held a straight face and kept it the entire time. Then he busted out laughing when it was done. Amazing to see the control.

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