Drama Recaps
Gaksital: Episode 21
by | August 15, 2012 | 124 Comments

Another powerful episode, wrought with conflicted loyalties and half-victories. Because our good-evil lines have been drawn and our characters taken a stand in their corners, the plot trajectories are smoothing out a bit and getting less complex. The trade-off, then, is that the characters’ trajectories are getting more twisty, particularly with Rie’s growing confusion about where her loyalties lie, and even Kang-to’s own connection to her turmoil. And that’s some of the show’s best stuff.

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EPISODE 21 RECAP

Truckloads of young girls are delivered to Rie, to be shipped off as comfort women to the imperial army. The only ones who know where they’re headed are the circus girls, and once Gaksital makes his blessed appearance to stop things, they urge the other girls to run.

Gaksital takes on the traffickers like some kind of angel of wrath, which is SO satisfying. This single intervention is like all of his previous punishments added up together, multiplied by a factor of ten or a hundred. This is hardly the only atrocity committed during the occupation, but there’s something about comfort women that touches a live nerve.

Rie fires a shot that deliberately goes wide. She approaches till the gun barrel is nearly touching him, her face contorting in conflict. Such awesome turmoil.

They have another of those psychic exchanges as Kang-to thinks, “You know who I am, don’t you?” She laments, “Why does it have to be you? Why?!”

She can’t shoot him, though, and lowers her gun. But hearing Sun-hwa urging the girls to run away, Rie lifts her gun in their direction—I don’t doubt that her mercy doesn’t extend that far.

Kang-to jerks her off-balance, knocks her out, and pulls her close in one smooth maneuver. So cool. What makes the moment, though, is really the charged emotion in the exchange; Kang-to may not love Lala, but he doesn’t like having to hurt her, either.

Farther ahead, the traffickers await the others and worry at their non-arrival. They decide to send their one truck ahead, which happens to carry Nanny’s granddaughter Soon-yi, who’s none the wiser. So terrible, the look of hope and promise on her face as she’s sent to hell.

Shunji, injured arm healed now, gets word that Gaksital has interfered with Operation: Comfort Women. The police force faces an angry Chief Murayama, most of them battered from the attack. Kang-to is conspicuously uninjured, having been the only one not guarding the trucks, though he argues that he wasn’t informed of the mission—Koiso put him on cleaning duty.

Enter Koiso, who sees Kang-to being kicked around and shiftily lies—of course he didn’t order him to clean! How would he dare ignore the Chief’s orders?

Murayama calls Kang-to a liar and keeps kicking the stuffing out of him. Koiso smirks, the weasel. Murayama warns his men that if they fail to catch Gaksital one more time, they’ll all be stripped of their badges.

Koiso puts Kang-to on a coffee run, and Shunji carefully watches Kang-to’s reaction. Kang-to shoves aside his pain and slaps on an obedient smile: “Would you like it sweetened?” Interesting—if Shunji’s suspicious, just keep him off-guard and confused. Because Kang-to’s reaction definitely has him confused.

Back at the inn, the circus girls cry it out. Kye-soon has the gall to be annoyed: “Are you just going to keep wailling?” Boo, you suck. Mok Dan worries that the empire will continue their trafficking, though, having seen a news article about the army recruiting “cooks.”

The circus girls insist that they have to somehow alert the people—Gaksital saved them, so they have to save others. Aw, that’s sweet. The girls decide to start spreading rumors in the marketplace, and Mok Dan proposes drawing up flyers to distribute. Uh-oh. Why do I feel like that’s a terrible idea?

Rie fumes in her hotel room, smashing her mirror and cursing herself: “After all it took to get here, why couldn’t you shoot? WHY?”

She rips down Kang-to’s rose bouquet, which she’d sentimentally hung up to dry: “He doesn’t love you. Are you willing to die for a man like that? Do you want everything taken away from you?!” She yells at herself to get her act together.

Shunji invites Kang-to to sit for a friendly chat, asking how things are with Lala. How does he feel about the governor general being enamored with her, when she and Kang-to have such a “special” relationship?

Kang-to laughs. “Special? It’s not that kind of relationship.” That fires another suspicion, as Shunji wonders why he’d ask her to bring him into Kishokai if they’re not… special. Shunji reminds him that she’d asked him to remove Kang-to from her hotel door that last time, like a girlfriend in a lovers’ quarrel.

Kang-to tells Shunji he must not know Lala very well to think she could love a Joseon man. Not likely.

Shunji is summoned by Kishokai, and as he and Rie make their way to the inner room, he asks how she’d lost Gaksital after being so confident she’d catch him first. Shunji grabs Rie’s arm and asks her to come to the police station later—he needs her eyewitness account of her encounter with Gaksital. As a policeman.

Rie isn’t giving anything away but her guilty conscience makes her nervous, and therefore puts her on the defensive.

Chairman Ueno is not pleased with the operation. Four heads bow contritely—Rie, Shunji, Kimura, and Murayama—and Rie offers up the standard “I have failed, please kill me” regrets.

Kimura says that while the Jongro police failed their leg of the mission, other police stations succeeded in sending 2,000 girls. Ueno slams his hand down and orders 200,000 more. Damn. I know that history will corroborate this number, but it’s just… damn. A disgusting number.

Murayama starts to promise that he’ll catch Gaksital, but the chairman surprises all by saying, “Ueno Rie will catch Gaksital.” I love the round robin of shifty eyes that follow his declaration. Rie is startled, but promises to do as bidden.

Ueno’s scary samurai confirms that they received notice this morning from one of their operatives of an emergency situation. Hm, what can this be?

Mok Dan receives a letter from Damsari, which tells her of his plans to accompany her grandfather back to Kyungsung: “And be sure to tell your friend that I am bringing him.” Ah! Is this code?

Circus boss Jo asks if she’s ever heard of Teacher Yang Baek, and she answers of course—every Korean knows who that is. He’s a freedom fighter and a symbol to the Korean people, which I guess makes him Damsari times ten. Jo deduces that said grandfather is Yang Baek.

Kishokai comes to the same conclusion: Yang Baek was spotted near the border, when he’s supposed to be living in Shanghai. This is shocking news, and the man has an enormous bounty on his head (the equivalent of approximately $18 million in today’s world, we are told). Would he dare enter the country to certain death?

Ueno considers him a serious threat; although multiple assassins were sent to Shanghai to eliminate him, they failed every time. Rie sees this as their chance to nab him once and for all. Shunji counters that they have to be careful: He’s risking death to sneak back to Korea, which means something big is being planned.

Ueno tells Shunji to find out what that is, then kill him. Cut down the man, cut down the people’s fighting spirit.

Angel Club’s madam Tasha receives another letter, and it instructs her to a certain Mr. Jin who lives nearby. Tamao snatches the letter out of her hand like a taunting schoolboy and starts to read—and gets a slap to the face for it. He’s stunned at her severity, and damn. That stare she shoots him could peel paint.

Sure he’s the son of sellouts, but I feel for him, wanting to break out of his bubble of security but not sure how to do it. I only hope he manages to find a way, and find himself in the process.

Those instructions take Tasha to a tailor’s shop, which serves as a secret base for independence fighters. She is shown to the back room where posters of Korean flags are being drawn up, and presents Damsari’s letter to her contact, Reporter Song.

Shunji briefs the upper brass on Yang Baek’s history. He was officially stationed in Shanghai as a state official, but once the empire went to war against China, there have been many Korean-born officials who have changed position and become nationalists, using their uniforms as their covers. This sounds familiar. Shunji, why haven’t you caught Kang-to yet again?

Some years ago, Yang Baek formed a “violent terrorist group”—interesting how a shift in context changes the meaning of a thing—and the slideshow cycles through various faces as Shunji ticks off the terrorist acts each man led. Damsari is among them.

General Wada sputters—what can he mean by returning to Korea? Shunji replies that this must mean he has a plan he’s willing to sacrifice himself to carry out, something he values greater than his life.

(By the way, the presentation’s projector gives us an excuse to shoot this scene with some seriously gorgeous lighting. Swoon.)

Back to Mok Dan. Jo wonders about the so-called “friend” in the letter. She assures him not to worry, because he’s someone who has helped them.

She calls Kang-to’s line at the station, but Koiso gets to it before Kang-to can. Mok Dan hangs up without a word, but that’s enough to alert him and he heads out for the inn. But as he’s leaving, Katsuyama pulls up and summons him to see Lala.

Kang-to arrives at the hotel, and they stand for a long moment in silence, thinking back to their meeting in the forest. She cuts to the chase, asking for his motivation in wooing her with flowers for entrance into Kishokai—was it to take down the organization? Does he see them as so easily defeated?

Calling him foolish, she reminds him that he lost his family to Koreans, just like she did. “So why? Why would you do that for those things? Does that make sense? How could you do that? I don’t want to kill you by my hand. I don’t know what drove you to make that foolish choice, but quit right now. If you stop, I’ll take your secret to my grave.”

Kang-to: “Even if I die, I can’t quit.”

She cries. “Are you stupid? You’re willing to die? You said that if the same situation arose you’d save me again, just like you did five years ago. Even though you knew I’d tried to save the woman you love, you didn’t kill me. That means I’m in your heart, even if just a little bit— doesn’t it?”

Kang-to tells her that she weighs on his mind: “Because it seemed like you saw me, who’d chased so desperately after success and power, you always weigh on my mind. Whether you’re doing this because it’s what you truly want, or perhaps it’s what your adoptive father wants, and you’re living as his puppet on a string—think it over carefully. I believe you’ll choose the right path someday.”

As if she’s not already on the brink, his words bring her to tears. But as he turns to leave, she orders him to stay put, because the minute he steps outside he’s a dead man.

Kang-to leaves.

At the inn, Mok Dan finishes up handwriting a stack of flyers warning the Joseon people not to fall for the false promises to serve the army. She can’t distribute them because the authorities know who she is, but Sun-hwa and even cowardly Shin Nan-da head out together… just as Shunji arrives. They freeze up guiltily, but Mok Dan urges them out before they’re stopped.

She reluctantly serves Shunji tea, and he asks after her father—did she receive word from him? Mok Dan realizes he must know something but plays ignorant, replying that his line of questioning must mean her father is safe.

He’s not fooled. He tells her she’ll be seeing her father soon and asks, “When they arrive, will Gaksital be meeting Yang Baek?” He asks what will happen once those two join forces, asking with a creepy smile, “Aren’t you curious to know?”

Kang-to arrives outside her door and overhears the conversation just in time to refrain from barging in. She orders him to leave, and Shunji bursts out, “Are you still angry at me? Well, I’m angry at you too! You said you were mistaken, that you just thought he was your young master. That means you and Gaksital are strangers—but why are you trying to protect him? Ah, because he’s Joseon’s hero? That’s the only reason?”

Mok Dan fires back, “Yeah. He may have nothing to do with me, but he has risked his life twice to save my father. While the one I believed to be my friend toyed with my father’s life.”

He plays the “I had no choice” card, which doesn’t work with her. Oh, and there’s another crime to add to the list: “Did you think I wouldn’t know about the woman who loved the motherless me like a daughter and took me into her family registry, Dong-nyun ajumma—and how she died?”

Oh, snap. Shunji is stunned speechless, and leaves in agitation.

Kang-to waits until he’s gone, then joins Mok Dan, who rushes at him in a hug. Aw. There’s just something about that moment that I love, the unconditional welcome she gives him. He worries over her injuries, but she just thanks him because all of their circus members escaped the traffickers.

He tells her he doesn’t know what to do about the women who will keep getting dragged off in the future. She tells him he’s no longer alone, and of Damsari’s plans to bring Yang Baek here. It’s both hopeful and worrisome news, because Shunji’s also in on the news and security will be on high alert.

Kang-to takes her hands in his, and assures her, “Don’t worry. I’ll do everything I can and help the two of them.”

Shunji leaves reeling from Mok Dan’s accusations. Ah, he hadn’t known of her close relationship with Dong-nyun, and tells himself, “If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have killed her.” Aw, so generous, this one. Maybe Mok Dan should just go around proclaiming intimate ties to everyone in the city to spare their lives.

And then… he looks up and sees Kang-to leaving the inn. Eep! So careful going in, Kang-to-ya, yet so careless leaving?

Shunji thinks back to Kang-to’s admission that he’s over Mok Dan now, and fumes.

Katsuyama asks Rie, “Do you know who Gaksital is?” Uh-oh, is he in on the secret? But no, he continues, “You don’t even know that, so how can you kill him?”

Rie tells him she’ll take care of it. He cautions her that she won’t be able to stall on the chairman’s order. She shouts at him to leave.

Shunji arrives unannounced and asks for the details on how she let Gaksital slip away. She tells him he ought to know, having been in that situation several times (HA), but he wants a play-by-play.

He points out the flaw in her story that she arrived after he’d freed everyone and escaped, because then she should have returned to the rendezvous point. She’s hiding something. Didn’t she vow to capture Gaksital? Why so slow to take action?

He says he’s still suspicious that Kang-to may be Gaksital. She fires back, “Then run back to the station. And shoot him.”

Shunji says he’s not out to catch policeman Kang-to; he needs to catch Kang-to in Gaksital’s guise. “I hope you’re not lying to me.”

Phew, I just love their antagonistic chemistry. It crackles.

Governor Wada presides over another flattery-filled dinner with the upper crust, namely the count, countess, and the school-establishing parliamentarian. Kimura sits sulking in his seat, and Governor Wada urges him to cheer up about this whole Yang Baek business, since he’s just going to die anyway.

But mention of that name provides a jolt of alarm to the count and countess. Suddenly quaking in their boots, they fear for the safety of themselves and their ilk; just the mention of his return could stir the Joseon people into a rebellious furor.

Kimura assures them that the issue is under control.

That night, Reporter Song rides a trolley bus through town, and exchanges nods with Village Hothead, who surely merits a name by now. Hothead exits at the next stop, taking a package from Reporter Song.

In the marketplace, furtive citizens are already at work, passing folded papers along and urging the recipients to wait till they’re home to open them. There’s a parade tomorrow in honor of an athlete, and they’re passing out the Korean flags that were made in the tailor’s backroom.

Meanwhile, the circus girls are busy at work handing out more information, this time warning of the comfort women scheme. The two parties meet when Hothead hands Sun-hwa a flag and offers to finish passing out her flyers, identifying himself as a member of the Dong-jin Association.

The next day, newly crowned world champion athlete is paraded through town—he’s a Korean boxer but his victory has been claimed by the Japanese as their own (as happened to many athletes during Occupation years, who found even their Olympic medals claimed by the empire). He doesn’t appear to be enjoying his moment of glory as citizens cheer him on waving Japanese flags. Village Hothead leads his men in a cry, and together the people bust out their homemade Korean flags and cry out in hurrah for Joseon.

At this display of solidarity, the boxer rips off the Japanese flag he’s been made to wear on his chest and shouts, “Manseh!” Oof, it’s a powerful moment, watching the boxer moved to tears to be cheered on by his people. It’s bound to earn everyone heaps of pain for the defiance, but all the moving for it.

Reporter Song makes sure to photograph the scene, which shows up in the newspaper. Kimura is not pleased, and he orders Murayama to have the boxer brought in. Oh no! And all he did was win his match.

Shunji has already been put on the job. Kimura orders him not to go easy on the world champ for the crime of ripping off his Japanese flag. They have no need of athletes who have no Japanese pride.

Shunji agrees that this won’t be taken lightly, especially after learning that the newspaper sponsoring the boxer is the Joseon Joongang Ilbo. That means it was premeditated, and that couldn’t have happened without secret meetings between the citizens. Kimura gives the order to have the newspapermen dragged in as well.

Reporter Song is among them. Shunji reports to his father after questioning them, having been able to glean that their leader is someone named Dong-jin. Kimura recognizes that name as one on a government blacklist, but he disappeared three months ago and is currently MIA.

But newspaperman Park—the president of a different publication, the Kyungsung Ilbo—assures him not to worry. He’s got a way to ferret out the rat in hiding. The plan brings a smile to Kimura’s face.

New characters in town!

This snazzily dressed pair arrive in Kyung-sung, and the woman darts a furtive look back, where a disguised Damsari is following. HA, so he just upgrades the ‘stache to a full beard? At least he changed something.

Damsari is the lowly servant who loads their luggage into their taxi, then continues on foot.

They arrive at the tailor’s, where General Wada is being helped into a suit. The tailor comrade recognizes his contacts and ushers them off for a supposed fitting.

In the backroom, decorated with independence banners, Mok Dan, circus boss Jo, and Tasha nervously wait. They greet the new arrivals, who call them “comrade” in turn. Last to join them are Damsari and his companion: Yang Baek.

They look upon Teacher Yang Baek with deference, and he embraces them warmly.

Kishokai is swift to go into damage control mode, and announcements are littered through town proclaiming that all the rumors about the imperial nurses is a misunderstanding. In fact, the venerable Teacher Dong-jin himself has proclaimed his support. Kang-to reads the sheet and crumples it up furiously.

Newspaperman Park crows over his clever ruse, and Kimura congratulates him—misusing his name will surely draw Dong-jin out of hiding.

A dagger flies by Park’s face and embeds in the wall. It bears the familiar tag: “Punishment for crimes.” Enter Gaksital, holding his cane of fury.

Park freezes and can only stutter into the phone, “G-g-gaksital!” Kimura alerts Shunji, whose first move is to check on Kang-to’s whereabouts. Absent.

Shunji orders Koiso to head to Kyungsung Ilbo, and smiles to himself. Uh-oh. This can’t be good.

Kang-to levels his iron flute at Park, charging him with his crimes: sullying the name of a freedom fighter, selling off his nation’s young girls, deceiving his countrymen: “I have come to punish you for your wickedness.”

Bam! He slams the flute into Park’s head, who falls down dead.

Kang-to hurries back to the station, looking around carefully as he makes his way back to his desk. Where Shunji sits, eyeing him expectantly. Ruh-roh.

 
COMMENTS

First, because I have to get this off my chest: One thing I worry about is the growing nationalistic fervor running through the episodes. It’s something I’d been curious about at the outset, though the drama did a better job handling issues of Japanese/Korean identity than I’d feared they might. Mostly because we had so many characters straddling the divide, identifying cross-culturally or perhaps with both nations, showing love or allegiance to both sides.

But those days are over, and our characters have moved into extreme corners. That’s not a bad thing, and in fact necessary as the drama ramps up to its final push and our hero faces greater risks and injustices. It’s just that in this case, that polarization equates to: Japan is evil, Korea the righteous underdogs. Narratively speaking, I mean.

You know, I’m not going to argue that the drama’s coloring its plot in false ways, or that certain atrocities didn’t happen. They did, and history is important. I actually applaud this show for its depiction of torturing and the persecution of the independence and the comfort women—who, yes, were rescued by Gaksital in this case, but the drama makes sure to remind us that hundreds of thousands more weren’t so lucky. Even the brief bit about the boxer was a moving moment based in real life, and I felt that emotion palpably.

As a Korean, there are moments in the drama that bring me to tears, that make me well up in pride and solidarity. I grew up with the stories, heard the first-hand accounts. Dramas that illuminate a dark corner of history and remind us not to forget—they’re valuable.

But there’s a line, I’m sure of it, somewhere there between honoring your past and stirring up emotions with a manipulative hand, and I worry about the latter. The Japan depicted in the show? No question, it’s dark and awful. The leap I don’t want it to take is in equating the Past Japan/Past Korea conflict with Current Japan/Current Korea, and I feel like that territory’s just one bad step away.

The thing is, Korea’s history is so powerful all on its own, without embellishment, that adding a pre-show still of the Dokdo islands with the Korean flag superimposed over it… oy. I winced, and wondered what the show meant it to do. Oh, I know what it means, but it seemed so flagrantly out of place here, like a tacked-on sentiment.

Why are you watering down the power of this story by making it, somehow, about a current-day hullaballoo that is, at the end of the day, entirely political? Girlfriday and I plan to talk about this more in the near future so I’ll keep it brief here. But people weren’t carted off by the thousands and tortured or killed for Dokdo; I wish those issues weren’t conflated. It’s like the danger of giving people a little bit of information. Fully informed = power. Informed on limited details = dangerous.

The Occupation is not Dokdo is not a soccer game is not a speed skating disqualification. These are false dichotomies. Drama, you’re too good to reduce yourself to political propaganda, please don’t go there! Please?

Okay, phew. I just wanted to get that out there, because if there’s any chance of this drama’s discussion heading down Very Bad Paths, I’d like to ward us off before we’re there.

On to Rie, who’s my favorite character right now. Mostly because it’s her turn to shine as the one caught between loyalties, and I love that Kang-to called her on it. Not in a confrontational way a la Shunji, but in a way that seemed driven by care. We already know he’s her blind spot so had he been playing her she probably would have felt swayed anyway, but what makes the moment so wonderful is that he really does care about her—maybe not as a lover, but as a fellow compatriot caught in a tough spot. If anybody can sympathize with her, it’s the guy who went through the same kind of hell, with ten times the violence.

I love the image of Rie looking into the broken mirror, questioning her fractured identity. We’re setting up for a major Rie redemption, and I’m excited for it to happen… although a little bit scared at what that means for her. Because as we know, this show doesn’t do anything by half-measures.

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124 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Jenn

    thanks for the recap!

     (0)


    • 1.1 Shin Haido

      thank you… so many good dramas on the menu today. i hope i’m full enough (for today lol)

       (0)


  2. Lena

    AHHHHHH.

     (0)


  3. Mawiie

    Thanks for the recap!

    I actually forgot that Gaksital was on today (Blasphemous I know!) with all the premieres this week xD

     (0)


    • 3.1 tapioca pearl

      Gaksital will never forgive you! (Sorry, had to do it!)

       (0)


      • 3.1.1 h311ybean

        LOL! Perfect reply! :D

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    • 3.2 MsB

      Forget Gaksital!? Not me! It circumvented me watching Arang and Faith!

       (0)


  4. Maya

    Thanks for the recap, JB! Off to read…

     (0)


    • 4.1 Maya

      I agree on your comment about Rie there, that scene between Kangto & Rie scene in her room is just so full with emotions. And Han Chae Ah was pitch perfect in delivering a wide range of emotions. She has so much layers to her character that makes her such an interesting character. And since it has been hinted throughout the last couple of episodes, I really can’t wait to see her redemption. Btw,the scene where the Joseon people are waving their little flags was so powerful and touching as well.
      Anyway, for a moment during that scene where the group was distributing the flags, while the circus girls were distributing the pamflets, I couldnt help but think that Sun Hwa and that guy would make a lovely couple :D

      That ending with Shunji sitting quietly in his chair and waiting for Kang To gave me chills to the bone! The best cliffhanger with face-off between them so far! When I saw him, it reminded me of the chills I had when I saw Hannibal Lecter in his prison cell for the first time (Seriously, Shunji is THAT scary to me now!)

       (0)


  5. stars4u

    The Rie and Kang-to scenes are really icing on my cake. I love the intenal conflict with Rie’s character.
    And still, Shunji scares me!

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    • 5.1 meecheellee

      Oh goodness Shunji scares the hell out of me also. The Rie and Kang-to scenes are so beautiful, whereas the Rie and Shunji scene are crackling with tension. I love it. I love it so much. LURVEE IT. JSLDHFAHUE. Okay. I’m done fangirling… I think. Hahaha. Oh Kang-to, please, in the future, (that is if you have one after being confronted by Shunji) please exit as carefully as you made your entrance. Please. Then my nerves wouldn’t be so on edge and my nails wouldn’t be chewed on so much. Gah, what this show does to me.

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    • 5.2 Maru

      He scares all of us.

      When he was thinking “If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have killed her.” thinking about Dong-nyun ajumma/ I was like, “What the fuck are you talking about?! Newsflash Shunji, you still want kill her father! ”

      schizofrenic psyco…

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      • 5.2.1 MsB

        Maru, thank you! “schizofrenic pyscho” Perfect description for Shunji! He scares the hell out of me too!

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        • 5.2.1.1 Awe

          me three.

          perfect descript: schizofrenic psycho who crunches his ice

          /shivers

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    • 5.3 hawaiianseoul

      He scares me too!

      oh, Shunji and Kang To have the best recap faces.

      Thanks for the recap!

       (0)


  6. Ivoire

    Thank you!

     (0)


    • 6.1 Maya

      Hi Ivoire! I was just going to reply to your message on Faith ep 1 recap, please check back later on tonight. :)

       (0)


    • 6.2 Ivoire

      Hi Maya,

      Good to see you here. I will check for your answer then :-).
      I left you a message here “7.2.1 Ivoire August 16th, 2012 at 4:00 am .” Please don’t be insulted, but your comment reminded me of Shunji, you sounded so determined and so creative in your punishment.

      I really liked this episode and a lot of what I would like to say has already been said. I really like Rie and how expressive she is about her emotions, one can read her like a book, and for those of us who do not understand Korean fluently, that is very helpful.

      I know a lot of people hate Shunji, but I personally LOVE Ki-woong’s acting in this drama. I love how he uses his eyes and how expressive his face is as well. I don’t condone what Shunji has done/does (evil things), but we do need some evil characters to appreciate what the Koreans went through during the Occupation, and the actors/actresses playing the bad guys are pulling it off well.

      I look forward to seeing what will happen with Rie, if she will stay the course (with Kishokai and promoting Japanese rule) or if she will have a change of heart. For some reason, I can’t help but feel that she might die in the end, maybe trying to save LKT, that would be interesting to see it happen.

      I would like a happy ending for LKT and MDR, but I wonder if that would be realistic within the drama’s line of reasoning and plot. I guess we will just have to keep on watching the show to find out.

      I am soooo used to being on the edge with this drama that when they met with the Professor in the basement (and they were all hugging), I couldn’t help but being nervous and I was talking back to the computer screen saying “OK, you guys have to leave. What if Shunji had been following MDR (or one of his minions) and finds you guys in the basement, having a happy reunion?” I was (figuratively) biting my nails, hoping that nothing bad would happen, constantly checking the door.

      I also personally appreciate reading the comments made by people here who have relatives or who themselves have been affected by the Occupation and its repercussions. Also, moving testimonies by some people who are Japanese and married to Koreans, or 1/2 Chinese and Japanese, etc… This show brings all kinds of emotions for people and I appreciate what I am learning by reading your comments, even the comments made by Redfox, who might not be Korean but who could relate to a lot of what happened during that painful history of Korea because of what happened between Russia and Estonia.

      I am already very interested in Korea’s culture and history, yet I have to say that this drama has deepened my interest and curiosity even further. Well done, show!

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      • 6.2.1 Maya

        Hi Ivoire! I’ve replied to your comment down below. Now that you mentioned it, I realized that I did give out the Shunji’s vibes with that comment. Ha! I guess I might have this dark, psychotic side buried deep down inside me and characters like Goiso just opened some kind of  evil floodgate there :D

        Talking about Shunji, I don’t think I hate his character, but my sympathy for him has drained out. He’s a great evil character with so many layers, which is necessary for this show. I like the fact that he is the smart Kimura because one has to be of particular evil genius to not only out wit, but also out muscle Gaksital. He has this tendency to switch back and forth between his old self and new self, although at this point I can’t see him being sincere anymore when he’s playing old self. However, his motivation in turning evil is unclear to me now. He wanted to catch Gaksital in the beginning to avenge his brother, and now that he knows that his brother has killed his supposed bff’s mom, he seems to be unaffected by that fact, in contrast, it seems to fuel his hatred and suspicion towards Kang To. And although he kept saying that the reason he became a police officer is because he wanted to protect Mok Dan, I just can’t buy that reason anymore. He catched her times and times again, tortured her, shot at her, tortured her father, and killed her surrogate mother. Yes he has that moment of mental breakdown in the car when he realized that he has killed an important person to her, and said that he wouldn’t do it if he knew it. But then what about her father? I can understand some evil characters for being evil because they have understandable/compelling motivations and goals, but Shunji now is just purely evil in my eyes. And yes kudos for Park Ki Woong for getting well into an evil character with no qualms and doing a really credible job making me believe him. Esp when we know exactly how he was in the past, and to be able to send chills down my bones with his portrayal of evilness, that’s so great. Who would’ve thought that there will be a day when Shunji’s smile will send shivers down our spines?

        Btw, coming from a country that was occupied by Japan in the past, Gaksital actually motivated me to look back at my own country’s history during that time. It also reminds me of the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters in my country and to not take that freedom for granted. And it’s a great reminder and so fitting for our Independence Day tomorrow.

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        • 6.2.1.1 Awe

          hey Maya!

          right on…for researching your country’s past.

          pls post what you find.

          you’re awesome!!!

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  7. Star

    it’ll be so satisfying if Goiso gets his head blown off by the end of the show. please writer, please. I want him pulverized. I can’t even express how much I detest him >:[

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    • 7.1 Jelly Beans

      haha me too. but whenever he tries something, i love how gaksital or kang-to finds a way to destroys his plans :) Serves Goiso right. then he gets punished by shunji.

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      • 7.1.1 b1

        i really want to see its Abe whos be putting koiso in that nail cage .. hahahah

        im already imagining

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        • 7.1.1.1 Star

          yes you’re right! Adorable Puppy Abe should torture Goiso with the nail cage for hurting his master Lieutenant Kang-to!

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    • 7.2 Maya

      I want to see him inside the nail cage, being pulled by a car accross the rocky hills which surround the capital city.

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      • 7.2.1 Ivoire

        Wow Maya,

        You don’t hold any punches, do you? Please tell us how you really feel :-)…

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        • 7.2.1.1 Maya

          Haha… I’ve been really annoyed by Goiso since earlier episodes actually. And I tend to use ‘extreme’ hypothetical situations to emphasize how much I dislike the character. I hope I didn’t give out Shunji’s vibes there and scare you, Iv. :D

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    • 7.3 MsB

      He is on my hit list! Number 1!

       (0)


  8. Moon and Stars

    Wow. haha i loved the part when Koiso makes Kangto bring him coffee and Kangto just smiles and goes, “Would you like it sweetened?”
    But Ueno Hideki, isn’t 2,000 girls enough? Even using 2 girls is terrible, must you want 20,000 girls? I think that is just awful.
    And that Kangto-Rie moment. He doesn’t like her but doesn’t want to hurt her.
    hmm.
    and wtf shunji… please leave kangto alone… sheesh.
    can’t wait for next episode <3
    Thanks JB! :)

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    • 8.1 LOOP

      Mr Ueno, you’re too old to be raping girls…

       (0)


      • 8.1.1 ㅠㅠ

        LOOOOOOOOOOOOOL
        haha i agree… no one should rape anyone…

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  9. Rashell

    YA! I love this show. All the characters are so well developed. And now that the story has progressed so far, I feel like we’re focusing more on each character’s journey. Some turning towards good and others (Shunji, sob) turning more and more evil.

    I appreciate your point about making past conflict the backdrop for current conflict. Rousing emotions with one incident to rally support for another isn’t a good plan. And I really hope that the drama will end that with this episode.

    As always thanks so much for the re-cap.

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  10. 10 crazedlu

    heart warmed at the kangto-rie scenes. totally cried at the boxer/crowd scene. damsari! good ep. thought the beginning was bizarre. like, whoa.. that came out of nowhere. very noticeable, korean or not. i hope they don’t push it. they’re doing a fine job as it is.

    thanks for the recap. ^^

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  11. 11 Marni

    Soon yi broke my heart. The look on her face….didn’t want to think about how she might end up……I wish Rie and Gangto would end up together….

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  12. 12 Misolee

    Great point. I too feel that some ppl tend to get overly nationalistic on things like soccer games (although I was cheering wildly). But from what I know of the islands, it does have to do with the occupation. When the occupation happened, Koreans lost their identity, their names, their language, history, and even land. Just like Japan still doesn’t admit to any wrongdoings on the issue of comfort women, Koreans feel their territorial claim to Dokdo is bc of the aftermath of the occupation. Yes the image of the island and flag does not have anything to do with episode 21 of the drama but it does have everything to do with what gakaital stood for. Plus today’s independence day and I think it’s okay to cut the PD ‘s some slack.

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    • 12.1 Awe

      great post, Misolee.

      i agree. it’s really important to be patriotic, except if arrogance rears it’s ugly head.

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  13. 13 Andy

    Thank you for tackling the Dokdo issue. I wholeheartedly agree with what you said and appreciate your attempts to stop the discussion going down “that road.”

    It is a shame that the show is enteriing good vs evil black and white territory. Early Shunji, Kono…weren’t straight up evil…and there were korean characters who didn’t take the high road – shades of grey. The complexity made it so interesting. Is it too late to return to that grey? Or are all the lines drawn from here on out?

    Anyway, very curious about how Lala’s character will play out.

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    • 13.1 Andy

      PS – Along with the spin on nationalism, can your podcast also deal with the all too serious issue of the madness that is PSY’s Gangnam Style?

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      • 13.1.1 Rashell

        O..O..O..OPPA Gangnam Style! LOL! Yeah, that has gone CRAZY! But it kills me how few people even understand what he’s saying. The youtube comments have people thinking he’s saying open condom style…umm NO! It’s Korean…look it up people.

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        • 13.1.1.1 Andy

          Ya….at first I thought people were really stretching when they claimed they heard “open condom style” but I suppose if you’re not used to hearing Korean….

          PSY will help us all forget about this Dokdo business :-)

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  14. 14 Brittni

    I just love this drama. Rie is amazing, I wish Mok Dan had half the chemistry with Kang to as Rie does but I’ll deal . I really like Mok Dan and Kang to together simply because I want Kang to to be happy haha

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    • 14.1 R

      Completely, I love seeing happy KangTo but I like more and more the scenes between him and Rie. There is so much chemistry between Joo Won and Han Chae Ah that I really hope they will meet again in a future drama :p

      Love the drama and your insightful comment as always JB ! Thanks a lot for the recap !

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  15. 15 kdj

    What a nice episode to be aired as South Korea celebrates its 67th Independence Day on August 15th. That part about the boxing athlete brought tears to my eyes, so good!

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    • 15.1 Andy

      I was scared for that boxer….hoping he wouldn’t get shot

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  16. 16 tapioca pearl

    Thanks for another great recap!

    I’d wondered about that image of Dokdo at the beginning of the episode, not knowing how I should feel about it. But your thoughts on it completely make sense. I’ve always been of the mindset that we shouldn’t hold a country today to what it did in the past, not that we should forget it, but just realize how different it was back then compared to today. I remember last year when the tsunami and earthquake hit Japan, someone on Facebook wrote that it was karma for Pearl Harbor. That is just one of the most senseless, mean, insensitive things to say, no matter where it’s directed.

    I agree that I hope the drama doesn’t try to tie its story to what’s going on today because I never felt like it was going that route (nor saw the connections). I actually think that had that whole Olympic soccer match debacle thingy not happened, the drama would not have the felt the need to put up that picture.

    (aside) I’m an American, and I don’t dislike America for every bad thing in its history. Even personally affecting my family, when America left my parents and many relatives and our people hanging after the Vietnam War. My parents had to flee their home country and basically resettle in the country that had a part in making them leave in the first place. Call that cruel irony, or whatever, but it worked out that way. Things happen, and the only thing we can do is be grateful to be alive and loved by our family. There’s no point in holding grudges.

    But anyhow, I really, really love this episode, purely for the patriotism this episode displayed. And all the characters are getting smarter and I really feel like we’re settling down in the homestretch. That makes me very :(

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    • 16.1 seoulflysea

      I agree with most of your sentiments. However, I think that it’s ONLY possible to “move on” and let go of the past from what one country did to another or, as in the U.S., what certain American people did to other Americans (i.e., African Americans and slavery, Japanese Americans in internment) is when the wrong-doing party ACKNOWLEDGES what they did and apologize for it.

      In the case of Korea, the government of Japan has NEVER publicly acknowledged what their ancestors did, nor have they ever offered an apology. Now, we can say, “Well, that’s just Korea and Korean people being petty.” We CAN say that because we didn’t live through it. My parents did. And although my mother was too young to be dragged off as a comfort woman, (she was an infant), my grandmother did know so many of her friends and neighbors and other women who were dragged off, exploited, abused and violated. Germany has offered a formal and official apology for their crimes and the genocide of Jews during the Hitler era. It is one way in which those who managed to live through the horror to be able to somehow come to peace with it.

      While I do feel that the intro of today’s episode with the picture of Dokdo juxtaposed with the Korean flag was a bit heavy handed, I kind of understand the sentiment that the PD/writers were going for. The lasting effects of the colonial era still resonates today and the tragedy is that it still hasn’t been resolved. For me, this illustrates how difficult it is to just “let the past go”.

      But to return to Javabeans’ point about being too overly nationalistic, especially for a television drama, I find myself conflicted. I like the direction that it’s been going and that the characters were going to places deep within themselves and that was great to watch. And I think I kind of understand what the PD/writer(s) are trying to do. But even as they seem to portray “based on real life” stories, just as there were cruel Japanese soldiers/administrators, there were also decent ones too and it’s unfortunate that the one person portraying that role (Shunji pre-soldier), there aren’t any more after Shunji decides to avenge his brother’s death.

      Someone mentioned that the drama seemed too “black and white” and not enough “grays”. I suppose if I was living in that era, no matter what side I was on, I would find it either black or white because to try to find something gray, may have cost me my life. Regardless, I find myself looking forward to tomorrow’s episode.

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      • 16.1.1 ...

        i completely agree with your comment about acknowledging past wrongs. the reason that many asian nations including my own (China) still feel have such strong anti-japanese sentiments when it comes to this particular part of history is that they NEVER apologised. in fact, they go in the entirely opposite direction, denying and ostracising any politician or public figure in Japan who acknowledges or apologises publically for what is truly a disgraceful part of japan’s past. it is general knowledge that if you mention any of this, it is political suicide in japan.

        however, as part of the new generation, i do think we need to move past it together, and strive for a better future. But it really is difficult to not feel disappointed or angry when we have disputes like Dokdo (or Diao Yu Islands for China).

        and Actually, i disagree with the comment that the drama is becoming overly nationalistic. to be honest, i think the drama has made a pretty good attempt at portraying what really happened without causing too much anti-japanese sentiment. at the end of the day, what they are portraying really did happen. having listened to the stories told by my grandparents and their friends, there really doesn’t seem to be much of a grey area .

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    • 16.2 redfox

      past is past, but our own difficult past should remind us other have difficult moments as well. going through hardships makes us more compassionate. if we can feel compassion towards anyone we should be proud to be growing wiser.

      but this episode was so difficult for me. when the people brought out Korean flags, it reminded me of Singing Revolution in Estonia. I think I shut out the bad memories from my childhood but like, this morning I rmemebered how russians showed simple acts of superiority like threw our laundry on the ground when estonians took it out to dry, or how they just broke into our pantries and took jam and potatoes saying the “ruling class” doesnt have to pay. or to “speak human” (meaning russian) and how the russian doctor hit me for explaining in estonian where it hurt. it is not just Korea there are many countries who suffered from occupation / annexation / terror. when Chernobyl exploded, russians didnt want to go there for emergency works and mostly estonians, latvians, lithuanians were sent.
      so every act by the japanese in this series is hard for me to watch… I really feel for the koreans´ past terrors. but it is also hard cause I like Japanese culture, art, folk crafts and animistic mythology. I would keep the good things separate from the bad. or we could go crazy and become paranoid towards everything about one culture

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    • 16.3 Awe

      this is why i love dramabeans…had no clue that the opening scene was dokdo island. thanks, all, for enlightening me.

      pearl: thanks for your post. i agree that there’s no point in holding grudges and from everyone’s posts, it is clear that the simple phrase “i’m sorry” goes a long way.

      here’s to hoping everyone is generously and genuinely saying “i’m sorry” and teaching their children how to do so, too.

      good post. thanks.

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  17. 17 Maggie

    Oh no, oh no oh no oh no please don’t tell me you’re foreshadowing Rie’s death :( I’ve got it stuck in my head that this will be a happy ending, and I desperately don’t want good characters to die!! :’(

    You bring up a point about the whole past vs. current political side of things; just two weeks ago I was wondering if Japanese people who usually watch Korean dramas were inclined to watch this series, and what they would feel throughout the series. I mean, the Japanese government did have a half assed denial of using comfort women and they always dodged the topic.

    As someone of Chinese descent, I’ve also heard stories of Japanese cruelty during pre-WWII years, and I believe China is also fighting Japan for claim of a set of islands. Whoever put the picture of the Dokdo/Takeshima islands seriously became over the top nationalistic while editing the episode :P Not the time nor the place, eh?

    As always, thanks for the recap! My knowledge of Chinese characters only gets me so far in understanding some newspaper bit every other episode, so having your recaps here makes a helluva difference!! Hahaha :)

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    • 17.1 Twinkles

      I’m half Japanese/Chinese, my Chinese grandparents actually lived in Korea during the occupation and my father grew up in Korea, so he identifies himself as Korean. I identify more with my Japanese side, and to make it more complicated, I’m also married to a Korean. In all honesty watching this drama does make me uncomfortable/sad/torn/mad/disgusted, but think that this show does a good job of getting people interested about the past so hopefully we don’t make the same mistake in the future. I’m not turned off by the show, and definitely not avoiding it, but really enjoying it and having great discussions with my parents and husband about what happened during the occupation and all the things happening now.

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  18. 18 ainslie

    is there anyone notice a flaw in this episode? how come they used projector at that time? while the first one used projector is the American army in 1945… hahaha… well, I can deal with the flaw… because this drama is amazing… I love the moment where Koreans raised their flags.. it was very touching! and it was aired at the same time when Koreans celebrate their independence day… it’s totally epic!

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    • 18.1 MsB

      projectors were first invented in 1896 so its not far fetched that they were used in the early 30′s

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    • 18.2 beggar1015

      I’m more annoyed with the show constantly showing a jeep, which wasn’t around in the 1930′s.

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  19. 19 sugarpunch

    this show has piqued my interest in learning the history of Korea under the Japanese rule. My country was under the Japanese rule during WWII but I’ve always wondered about the dynamics of a society which was under the Japanese rule for decades.

    I had always thought that the independence fighters in dramas were fictional (they were added to the plot to make it interesting). Your comments have given me some insight to the history of Korea.

    On a lighter note, I hope there can be a “happily-ever-after” ending for Kangto and Mok Dan. Those two are just so sweet to each other ^.^

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    • 19.1 becca_boo

      Aw, glad to see another Kang-to/Mok Dan shipper! I feel like we’re pretty rare these days, even though I do admit to understanding the Kang-to/Rie adoration.

       (0)


      • 19.1.1 yammy

        Ooo me! me! me! let me join this group too!! I always have been and am still a steadfast Kang-to/Mok Dan shipper! Granted, I’m not the biggest fan of the childhood love thing, but they are so sweet to each other!! And they need unquestioned and unconditional love that is not full of tension and problems in their complicated lives. I do believe the writers can flesh out Mok Dan’s character and yes, they may not have sizzling chemistry, but it’s still the ship i’m on. I feel like the drama is making us sympathize with Rie through these scenes of “could beens” before killing her off. sigh. How Mok Dan brightened up right when she saw Kang to in their lone together scene was so sweet :] I want more Kang-to & Mok Dan scenes!!!

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      • 19.1.2 MsB

        I ship them too but I have to say the scenes between Kang To and Rie are more poignant!

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        • 19.1.2.1 msim

          Much more poignant indeed.
          MD and KT have a deep connection, which, it pains me to say, appears to be closer to a sibling-vibe than romantic love.
          Rie and KT are just sizzling, again pains me to say it; but I cannot deny it any longer. They burn the screen!
          They are complex grey characters transforming in front of our very eyes.

          Hats off to the actress playing Rie. I really didn’t want to like her and she turned out to be the star of this series.

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  20. 20 sunshine

    I would love it if Rie became the new Gaksital. Not sure how that would work the mask and hair and all but…

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  21. 21 Maidenelle

    “We’re setting up for a major Rie redemption, and I’m excited for it to happen… ”
    And I think that Katsuyama will be part of that redemption somehow…

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  22. 22 CM

    I saw it coming, KangTo being seen exiting the inn, the moment Shunji practically just moved his car 2 meters! I was all like “Go now! What you doing there! Go watch yourself in a mirror all angsty thinking of what you did to MokDan! You still there!?Nooooo!”

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  23. 23 HK

    Rie is definitely my second favourite character after Kang-to. They are characters with many layers and I love watching them act together its full of chemistry!! Can’t wait for episode 22!!! Thanks for the recap!

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  24. 24 JenJen

    Thank you for saying that bit about that political statement/image.
    I don’t think the image was put there necessarily for the soccer game hullaballoo. I read that recently S. Korea’s president Lee Myung Bak visited Dokdo/Takeshima/Liancourt(?)/whatever-you-wanna-call-it last week which has soured relations. As a result tensions between the countries have soured a bit and celebrities & some korean tv shows have been inserting similar “dokdo belongs to korea” sentiments here and there because of this souring…….. yet still such sentiments do not belong in what-should-be-non-political pieces

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    • 24.1 bishbash

      And it didn’t help, imo, that the latest episode of 1N2D, the cast AND the foreign born Korean guests went to Dokdo/Takeshima.

      I don’t know much about why the tussle of the island, but I don’t think it’s very wise of Korean media to play up the hype now.

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      • 24.1.1 ck1Oz

        15th Aug episode 21 Gaksital was Liberation Day. All of us noticed the flag and winced when we saw it.

        The comments went something like this ” poor Joo Won is never going to be popular in Japan for the rest of his life is he?” The producers were really rubbing it in yesterday. Eish.

        There. That wasn’t a political statement. What upset me though is the truckload of girls that went too. They are only actresses but it felt as if it was real. It’s history but I felt such pain watching it.

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  25. 25 sophia

    I loved that the girl Soon-yi, sent away to become a comfort woman, was dressed in white. It was so symbolic on the part of anyone who knows about this painful history. And watching her carted away was particularly heart-wrenching, even though we only got a glimpse of her life.

    And I agree, I absolutely love Rie at the moment. She seems like such a cold and power-driven woman who betrayed her country; yet more and more, we’re getting to see layers of her that we couldn’t see before. Somewhere in her soul remains that gisaeng willing to die rather than give up her virtuosity. I can’t wait to see that side of her come out again soon. And I really loved seeing Gangto show real emotions and honesty to Rie. Up to now, she had just nodded at his words, wanting to believe everything he said. But today was the first time she really soaked in every word that he had to say to her.

    Also, just as an extra, Han Chae Ah has an amazing way of expressing millions of emotions just through her eyes. It’s simply amazing. I LOVE.

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    • 25.1 Andy

      It was heartbreaking and brilliant that the show wouldn’t allow her to be saved. I could have sworn (or was at least hoping) by the end of last episode that she would be ok.

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  26. 26 Noora

    I have to disagree with @ainslie about the projector part. I read that it was invented in the later 1800′s. But that still doesn’t fix the Laboutine flaw :p overall, who cares. Amazing drama ♥

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    • 26.1 h311ybean

      I’m no expert, so I can’t say for sure, but I get the feeling that a lot of things in this drama aren’t period-accurate (starting with Kang-to’s trendy asymmetrical haircut in the beginning). I’m just telling myself that this is stylized because it’s primarily based on a manhwa.

      I agree, though, that this is an amazing drama!

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  27. 27 eny

    7 ep to go, how this drama gonna end? i guess lee kang to die in the end. I don’t have any objection about that as long as reasonable

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  28. 28 Noora

    Also the most shocking characters this episode were Kangto and Rie. I was shocked when Kangto smiled at Shunji and Goiso to bring them coffee. What’s even more shocking is Rie. I don’t know how she will keep this up.

    Katsuyama definitely feels something, and that was hinted already. I think it’d be illogical if he didn’t sense that something was up with here/ or that she knew who Gaksital was.

    The one I fear now is Shunji (as usual) but now he’s not only owling Kangto but Rara as well. He’s such a creep… Just the look in his eyes makes me feel like his evil shadows are crawling on my body. Lol no seriously, look at his eyes when he talks to Kangto xD it’s just that look.. I don’t know how he does it but he does that evil look it is as if he is the definition of evil itself.

    Praise for Kiwoong for being that kind of actor! It’s enough that he made us hate him already.

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  29. 29 imbe

    http://i1058.photobucket.com/albums/t413/javabeansdb/drama/2012/gaksital/gaksital2/gaksital21-00336.jpg

    Joo Won’s Puppy Eyes = WIN

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  30. 30 Altari

    Thanks for the recaps.
    As a Japanese married to a Korean this subject can be really painful at times and I was wondering what your take on the nationalism would be.
    I personally was brought up being told by my grandmother and mother that Japan did horrible things in Korea and China during WW2 and feeling sorry about it. But even with that kind of upbringing the sometimes hysterical nationalism in Korea makes me want to just …(something not polite).
    I understand and sympathize for the trauma that Korea went through during Japanese rule, but I feel like that trauma is being used and manipulated by unscrupulous politicians, chaebols, media to keep the focus off of their dirty laundry and the fact that the billions of compensation money Korea got from Japan went to funding Korea’s economic recovery benefitting chaebol groups instead of comfort women and other victims. (And then Japanese politician use that to keep focus off of their general uselessness.) It’s such a frustrating vicious circle. Especially since the people who told me stories about Japanese wartime atrocities were really sorry and did care about comfort women whereas I feel like people like LMB don’t give a rat’s fart; they just want to use history to protect their political ass.
    I really wish I could ignore this endless stream of depression that is Japan/Korea political relations but I can’t since it will definitely have a big impact on my kids future if I have any.

    Sorry for the rant.
    I just get so sick of the whole mess and really wonder if it’s safe for children with a Japanese parent in Korea when Korea goes on a nationalistic spree like it has lately.

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    • 30.1 yammy

      Applause! You bring up a great point.
      As a Korean-American, I should be more sympathetic or even be jumping into the ship of S. Korea’s hyper-patriotism, but if there is one thing I’m glad of immigrating to the US is that I’ve been able to look at S. Korea’s patriotism policies/programs from a outsider’s point of view (of course, I’m aware that the similar things are going on in the US). Although I do feel like Japan should officially apologize for their atrocities (although that would mean other countries like England, US also have to other countries) if it is not going to happen, it should not be the thing that drags the more peaceful relations between two countries. That being said, I rarely have heard/seen the political attacks on both sides specifically bring up the official apology as the main point of contention. It is most often what someone said, or who went where or something that sparks up strong emotions and distracts the public further from true reconciliation. It’s aggravating.

      That being said, there is also another political/economic aspect of the Dokdo issue. Because of international waters laws, whoever owns the Dokdo islands also own a certain radius of the Pacific Ocean around the islands. This part of the ocean is known to be abundant with natural resources including fish and shellfish.

      As someone who identifies almost equally as a Korean and as an American, I was disappointed and shamed by the soccer-flag-dokdo at Olympics. Seriously, flashing such political commentary during the world event that is supposed to be political-free and peaceful? Although the statements made in today’s episode was a bit more subtle (wait, not the opening shot of the islands and the flag) I still feel it’s out of place. But I was also relieved of the extent. Hey, it’s Independence Day in S. Korea when the drama was aired. This episode is bound to have such political context. But that’s not saying that I agree with it. Is this kind of political maverick going to happen every single year near Independence Day? Can’t there be a celebration of independence without mudslinging other countries?

      PD, writers, can we please have the drama from becoming another political statement? Please show more “grayness.” What happened to Abe, who is Japanese but is still lovable and loyal? And please don’t paint Kye-son as a hopeless (Korean) victim. Yes, she’s Korean, but she can be evil/bad. And please don’t make the reason Rie turns against kishokai be because she suddenly feels the pull of her korean ethnicity/heritage. I’m glad for the complexity that Rie’s character is getting, but I’m wary that as soon as Rie goes to the other side, it will be Koreans = good & innocent vs. Japanese = evil.

      /sigh/ I think I’m going to go back to the happy scene between Kang-to & Mok Dan and focus on love, understanding, and support. (HINT: more happy love between Mok Dan and Kang to scenes, drama!)

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  31. 31 JY

    oh my who’s the handsome young man in the car

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  32. 32 h311ybean

    Thank you for the recap! It’s what I look forward to on Thursdays and Fridays these days :)

    Loving the character dynamics as always, and I agree that Village Hothead deserves a name. It’s going to be a couple of weeks before I actually watch this on KBS World, but I am looking forward to that boxer parade scene. (The first pic made me think he was in a dress, though :p )

    Thank you also for the excellent point about not equating Past Japan/Korea with Current Japan/Korea. My country, the Philippines, was colonized most notably by Spain and the US as well as Japan, so I grew up with history lessons and stories about discrimination and atrocities, and I do feel nationalistic when I think about what my countrymen went through back in the day, but I know that we live in different times now where everyone is more interdependent. To be sure, there are many valuable lessons to be learned from the past, but you also need to consider your present situation in order to move forward.

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  33. 33 MenCallMeBacon

    Isn’t Yang Baek Kang-to’s father, who apparently is not dead? I am salivating for the moment that Kang-to meets him, unless I’m making this up in my head.

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    • 33.1 becca_boo

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that immediately. Usually I roll my eyes when supposedly dead characters come back very much alive, but in this instance, I would love it. I really miss the family stuff, and I don’t like seeing Kang-to alone.

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      • 33.1.1 Maya

        Now that’s a twist! :)

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    • 33.2 MsB

      Boy, that would be a serious twist!

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  34. 34 Oc-ca

    I agree with javabean that adding the dokdo picture was cheap propaganda. pd instead could have honored korean indepence day from Japan with perhaps an acknowledgement to freedom fighters that would have been apropo.

    I read Korean public and politicians are going crazy over the soccer player who carried that dokdo is our land sign at the end of the Olympic match against Japan. He may be stripped of his medal for his action and politicans are guarenteeing him an honorary medal if that happens and all the benefits most importantly exemption from military service. It clearly was a political statement not appropriate there and also not appropriate here. The world doesn’t care and it’s just a means to poke at Japan without Dealing with it the serious issue upfront and makes Korea and Koreans look petty.

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    • 34.1 BB

      oyee veyy at the Olympian-related fiasco!! *facepalms* I was cringing at the Dokdo island bit and felt manipulated watching 1N2D. Which was not the same when the S1 cast & crew visited Baekdu Mt.

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  35. 35 becca_boo

    Thanks for the recap, javabeans!

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  36. 36 b1

    Lee Kang to aside, the men i find really hooooooooooooot.. as in HAWWWWT in this drama:

    Katsuyama and Dam sa ri

    awwww!!

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  37. 37 piaaa

    Have you guys read about this news?

    http://ph.sports.yahoo.com/news/seoul-urges-japan-resolve-wartime-sex-slavery-issue-030247193.html

    I read it on our local newspaper this morning. And I can only think of Gaksital.

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    • 37.1 eny

      is it affected by gaksital ep 20? who knows, gaksital really get good momentum……………

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  38. 38 Arawn

    Oh, I SO wish Kang-To would end up with Rie… Or at least love her a bit or something. But I’m not holding my breath. It would be great if some drama would make a turn where most obvious pair isn’t the pair at the end, especially the woman expected to be main love interest, but I guess it won’t be this drama.

    But Kang-To, Rie & Shunji, wow!

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  39. 39 Kangtoyah

    When they projected the faces of the so-called terrorists, did anyone else think that the 2nd face they showed, looked kinda like Lee Kangto, but with a moustache? Wasn’t his dad, wazzit?

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    • 39.1 Mumu

      oh, i don’t think he’s Kangto’s dad because he’s the real historical person. The first figure was Yun Bong-gil and the second was Lee Bong-chang who are really famous independence fighters in Korea, actually.
      But Damsari is also an historical person (even if he’s not that famous like those two), so… i hope you’re right!

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  40. 40 aceyyy

    Oh yessss the Dokdo thing! That was the thing that seriously bugged me about the recent episode of 1N2D, which, cringecringe

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  41. 41 mojobobo

    “Phew, I just love their antagonistic chemistry. It crackles.”

    Hehe I totally agree with that!

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  42. 42 Arhazivory

    Ok…so I really teared up at the Boxer scene. That was beautiful.

    I also wondered about the Dokdo pic and like you JB, I don’t want them to bring current events in. This drama is probably already stirring up old emotions in the older folks and new emotions of anger in the younger generation. I’m not Korean, but I can identify with that feeling. Its the feeling I get when I watch a movie or read a book about slavery. All of a sudden the present becomes clouded by the past.

    This episode was really great and filled with emotions. Rie is killing me with her conflict and Shunji just needs a knock from Gaksitaaaaaaaaal’s pipe right about now.

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  43. 43 jyyjc

    I’ve always felt that Rie is going to die. Shunji too.

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  44. 44 Ana

    Katsuyama knows!! I think he knows that Rie does know who gaksital is.

    I think he was volunteering to kill kangto himself since she cannot delay the president’s wishes and she also wants to feign ignorance. Yet she insisted she will take care of it (KangTo) and gets mad at him. I think this is just katsuyama’s way of protecting Rie, the love of his life.

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  45. 45 redfox

    on another note: GROUP HUG! Yeeeeeee! Cute

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  46. 46 apple

    Please Rie mustn’t die!!!

    Here I am wishing it could be a Happy ending with Kangto and Rie together at the end.

    How is the possibility of that?!

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  47. 47 FeKimi

    Shunji is really disgusting in this episode. Especially his thought about not killing the woman if only he knew she related to Mok Dan.
    And, his thought when Kang To came out from the hotel, he thought that Kang To still meet Mok Dan secretly and jealous of it, at that time he didn’t think that Kang To is Gaksital, he hates him because Kang To maybe still have feeling to MokDan. It’s really annoying…

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  48. 48 dany

    Off to read and off to watch with subs! Thank you.

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  49. 49 Banana

    Please Park Kiwoong take on a rom-com next so I can erase the Shunji horror from my mind. This is seriously the first time I’ve been frightened to tears because of a character EVER. I barely even cry at emotional scenes as it is…but something about Shunji’s descent into monstrosity scares the crap out of me.

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  50. 50 aiya_rani

    really an epic drama…
    i can feel all the emotions…
    even the nationalism makes me giggles…
    poor lala, but i really like the chemistry between lala dan kang to..^^
    and shunji…. he succeed to make me hate him…
    and poor soon-yi…the innocent girl..T_T
    can’t wait the next episode…

    still i believe that shunji won’t find out clearly that KAng To is GAKSITAL

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