Drama Recaps
Sword and Flower: Episode 11
by | August 12, 2013 | 56 Comments

Time skips, cross-dressing, new characters, dead characters, and bloody battles set the stage for this episode—and if that all comes off as a lot, it’s because it is. What it isn’t is an emotionally meaty hour, since our star-crossed lovers have more or less shut themselves off to feeling much of anything for the time being and there’s So! Much! Plot! to get through—and some of it is pretty unbelievable. (Okay, really unbelievable.)

At least it’s still pretty.


Choong has a gut feeling that something’s wrong as his father prepares to leave Yeon Jung-mo’s house, and a long moment of silence passes. But right before Mu-young and her group attack, they hear Boo-chi make a distant warning call disguised as the sound of a bird.

It’s a signal for them to hold back, since Boo-chi has spotted all of General Yeon’s extra soldiers lying in wait outside the gates.

Slowly but surely, everyone relaxes from their battle stance. Yeon Jung-mo advises General Yeon to take a supposedly safer route to The Wall, since their planned route is littered with Yeon’s political enemies (those still angry about the coup). Sounds like a trap.

It is, since Yeon Jung-mo asks Mu-young if their good general will really take the alternate route. General Yeon’s supporters feel the same way, and suggest that they stick to their first plan—but it’s Choong who cuts in to say that they should go with the route Yeon Jung-mo suggested.

The reason this works for Mu-young’s team is because the new route has General Yeon passing through an abandoned village, and it’s there that they’re planning to trap and ambush him.

We cut immediately to Mu-young’s team waiting in ambush at the village. All the soldiers hide in the empty buildings so as not to be seen while Choong leads the caravan through the empty streets. General Yeon, supposedly, is in the covered coach behind him.

Mu-young catches onto the fact that something’s strange when she doesn’t see General Yeon’s personal guard. Ah, so Choong knew it was a trap and deliberately misled Mu-young’s team into attacking his caravan. His father is probably safe on the other route.

Her team of soldiers rush out for the attack anyway, and Choong doesn’t even look back—he knew this was coming. He only has to make one signal to spring the trap he set on the trap they set, with his men instantly sneaking up on and killing Mu-young’s snipers as well as springing from abandoned buildings they’d been hiding in. (Trapception!)

Even though Leader So cut off the route for Yeon’s backup, they soon realize that the extra soldiers were provided by General Yang, something they hadn’t counted on.

It’s another all-out battle, and Mu-young uses the distraction to go after the coach General Yeon is supposed to be in. Instead she finds a soldier waiting to attack inside, but she stabs and kills him pretty quickly. Finally, a fight she wins.

Choong finally decides to enter the fray, his expression unmoving as he easily cuts down his enemies. Mu-young and the rest of Geumhwadan have half their faces covered, and she even kills another soldier as she starts to make a run for it.

We cut to General Yang reminiscing over the conversation with General Yeon leading up to him volunteering his soldiers, in which Yeon had asked him who would need to live for the sake of Goguryeo if it came down to him and Yeon Jung-mo. Well, we know which side Yang picked.

Meanwhile, General Yeon takes an open palanquin safely through another village, with only his personal guard accompanying him. Choong’s plan worked.

Back at the abandoned village, Choong finds Yeon Jung-mo and his few remaining men, and kills those remaining men with a few swings of his sword until it’s just him and Jung-mo.

Jang wonders about General Yeon’s safety back at the palace, and Yeon’s two remaining supporters note that Jang sounds like he wants something to happen to Yeon.

The new king all but shrugs that he was merely curious, even though it does seem like he wouldn’t lose any sleep if Yeon died. Now that General Yeon is gone from the court, Jang tries to woo over one of his supporters, General DO-SOO, by offering him the currently empty chief minister position.

He brings up General Do-soo’s subservience to General Yeon when his family lineage is just as impressive if not even more so—he was the son of King Yeongyang, the king who ruled before Mu-young’s father. (Mu-young’s father was his half-brother.) That wins some points.

As for Yeon’s other supporter, Jang offers him a position that’s almost equal to chief minister, even though it’ll be a position he plans to create when he forms an intelligence-gathering agency (think of it like a Goguryeo CIA). Jang is exploiting Yeon’s distance from palace affairs to his advantage, and even says that he wouldn’t mind if Yeon never returns from the wall.

Minion Ho-tae reports to General Yeon that his son’s trap worked, and Yeon is so happy about it that he wants them to turn back so he can witness Yeon Jung-mo’s death himself.

When we cut back to the battle, a masked Mu-young and Choong are already engaged in a sword fight. Huh wha? They can’t be serious. He would massacre her.

Mu-young actually holds her own pretty well, but the fact that he’s wearing the hairpin she gave him doesn’t escape her notice. They exchange blow after blow, until Choong finally knocks Mu-young into the street and readies for the killing strike…

…But a helpful sword intervenes to stop him—it’s Young-hae. She engages in a brief fight with Choong but is severely outmatched, and Choong uses the first opportunity to plunge his sword into Young-hae’s stomach.

Mu-young swallows her shock and strikes him, her sword easily sinking into Choong’s side. Ouch. She catches Young-hae as she falls before she attacks Choong again, using his weakened state to knock him down.

She has the advantage, she has the opening, but as she raises her sword to kill him she’s besieged by the memories they shared together. It stays her hand temporarily, but just as she strengthens her resolve to strike, a blow from behind causes her to drop her sword…

The wielder is minion Ho-tae, and Mu-young instantly collapses. It’s a little unbelievable that Choong still can’t recognize her even after looking straight into her eyes, but I guess this is dramaland, where all masks have magical cloaking abilities.

Choong is carried away by his own men, leaving Mu-young at Ho-tae’s mercy (or lack thereof). Luckily, Young-hae’s sweetheart Seol-young makes his way over to stop Ho-tae before he can kill Mu-young.

But it’s only then that Seol-young sees Young-hae bleeding out, and when their gazes meet she shakes her head as if to say, There’s no hope.

He leaves her to grab Mu-young, which seems like a really bad choice when Ho-tae is still there just… standing around. So when Ho-tae goes to attack Seol-young’s needlessly exposed back, Young-hae leaps with her last bit of strength to defend him, and is struck down by Ho-tae.

She falls to the ground, a tear escaping her eye before she dies.

Seol-young struggles to fight off Ho-tae while carrying Mu-young on one arm, and it’s a losing battle. Ho-tae slices him down before throwing him against a door and impaling him, enough for his sword to slice through the wood behind his victim. Good lord. This man is brutal.

The last sight Seol-young sees is Young-hae’s body before he too passes on.

Leader So and Boo-chi arrive in time to save Mu-young, but they don’t have the ability to save her and fight Ho-tae, leaving So screaming at the sight of his two dead friends and his inability to avenge them.

Yeon Jung-mo fights valiantly until he’s cornered by General Yeon and his men. He delays his death by offering up some valuable information…

Meanwhile, Leader So sends Boo-chi off alone to carry the princess to safety while he stays behind to fight.

Yeon Jung-mo proves to be a weenie by begging General Yeon to spare his life in exchange for the names of those who want to kill him. He starts to say that the princess is alive, but he’s sniped by an arrow to the heart before he can say more.

Choong immediately stands in front of his father to act as a human shield, and gets an arrow through his shoulder for the trouble. The rest of General Yeon’s guard get picked off by arrows in rapid succession, until his men capture the shooter—it’s Leader So.

General Yeon unmasks him, and I love that Choong has this moment of recognition, like that very atypical head of not-hair wouldn’t have clued them in already.

Boo-chi succeeds in taking Mu-young to their umbrella-making ally and his daughter, sighing that they’ve lost so many, even Leader So. Mu-young regains consciousness quickly enough and mentally chides herself for hesitating to kill Choong.

Outside, she tells the umbrella maker that she wants to gather together more Geumhwadan members (apparently they’re scattered around the country) to continue her quest.

The umbrella maker isn’t with her on this one—even though General Yeon killed her father and brother, a lot of people have died for her and her single-minded desire for vengeance. He thinks it’s time for her to give up now.

Leader So has been put in prison temporarily, and Choong makes a special trip to ask him who he’s working with, maybe suspecting/hoping that Mu-young might be alive. Leader So claims that there’s no one backing him now that Choong has killed them all.

Choong reports to his father, who at least asks about his health. Choong is wounded but otherwise fine, though he does seem to be protecting Leader So when he says that they won’t get any more information out of him, so there’s no use trying.

And because of the latest incident with Yeon Jung-mo, Choong advises his father to set up an intelligence unit to spy on their enemies, much like what Jang is setting up back home.

General Yeon returns to the palace (that was fast) to talk to his supporters, and he already knows that Jang offered General Do-soo the chief minister position. Bad news for his two waffling supporters, since Yeon has made an example out of Yeon Jung-mo on how to deal with traitors by killing him and his whole family.

Jang hears this news with some disappointment, since he’d been hoping for General Yeon’s untimely death. Even more disappointing is that General Yang helped him out, and that Yeon’s two supporters are back on the general’s side.

General Yeon pays Jang a visit with the intention to taunt him, a smug smile tugging at the corner of his lips as he says that there’s a traitor amongst them who stole the ashes of the late king and prince. Ohhh crap. He knows Jang took them.

“The one who collected the remains is a traitor. We can’t greet the new Goguryeo while that traitor is still alive. So, Your Majesty, how should we punish that traitor?” General Yeon leaves Jang fidgeting nervously.

At the council meeting the next day, Yeon’s supporters propose that a new position be created to support the king with a rank higher than that of chief minister (daedaero). They decide to create the position of dae mangniji, akin to a modern day generalissimo, just for General Yeon.

Basically, General Yeon created a position for himself that all but rivals the power of the king, and Jang knows it. General Yeon addresses the council from his new position, declaring that he’ll now take charge of all military, personnel, and national affairs.

On top of that, he’s declaring a state of war preparedness against Tang, and gives himself the right to draft private soldiers owned by the nation’s noblemen into the national army. It’s only when he appoints one of his supporters as chief minister that Jang angrily challenges him—chief ministers have to be elected, not appointed.

I love that General Yeon just turns his head, “Did you forget what I just said? The Dae Mangiji has authority over all personnel affairs in Goguryeo.” Damn. He even appoints Choong to a fourth official ranking position as dae busuja, and declares that he’ll be in charge of the fortification of the wall.

Last but not least, he mandates that an intelligence agency be created, and that it will report directly to him. It’s almost funny how after all that, he finally turns to Jang, “Your Majesty, do you have anything to say?”

Jang addresses the council almost desperately, honing in on the fact that giving Yeon this kind of power would give him total control over the nation’s military, when such a position has no historical precedent.

He asks if anyone thinks that it would give Yeon too much authority and entreats them to speak their mind, but Yeon controls the council. No one voices their agreement with Jang.

Jang fumes after the council meeting that General Yeon’s new position is just a different name for “king.” General Yeon pays him a visit in the middle of his rant, and Jang actually looks frightened.

And that’s before General Yeon holds a sword to Jang’s bodyguard: “Did you conceal the dethroned king’s remains?” The guard doesn’t deny it, and Jang defends it as an act of common decency, while Yeon declares it treason.

He gives Jang a choice to either go down in history as an ill-fated king or punish the traitor. Jang’s guard gives him a nod of comfort, causing Jang to say what Yeon wants, agreeing to punish the traitor.

As his guard is dragged off, Yeon tells Jang that he’ll be changing out every eunuch and servant in the palace before he asks whether Jang is displeased about his new position. Jang lies through his teeth, and with great effort: “…Of course not. Congratulations.”

While even General Yeon’s supporters bemoan the fact that Yeon has absolute power, Yeon reminds Choong not to get too comfortable just because he recognized him as the eldest son of the Yeon family. Choong nods, “This is only the beginning.”

Mu-young is determined to practice her swordsmanship even though doing so reopens the wound in her back, but at least it reaps some rewards. She’s getting better.

A few years pass.

Mu-young has improved her fighting skills enough to shoot arrows at moving targets and best Boo-chi in battle.

She’s cut her hair and makes a living hunting wild game, and by the looks of it, has disguised herself as a man. (I thought “No way” when her bosom is so there, but the lady merchant Mu-young sells to bats her eyelashes at Mu-young like she thinks this man with breasts is handsome. So, yeah. Suspend that disbelief, folks!)

Mu-young uses the money she made to give to the poor, and sees an opportunity to infiltrate Yeon’s camp once Boo-chi tells her that the intelligence agency he created is looking for new members.

If she’s able to become one, she can use Yeon’s intel against him as well as find out who’s still against him in order to recruit them to her cause. “I’ll capture General Yeon and regain the lost throne. I will save the people of Goguryeo from war,” she declares.

A handsome flower boy catches the eye of all the girls in the market, and they heave a collective sigh to see him buying women’s ornaments, guessing that he must be taken. As he leans over to look at some wares, Boo-chi passes by him (in disguise) to steal his purse.

But that’s not the end game—Mu-young magically appears on the scene to apprehend Boo-chi, in order to make it seem like she (as a he) saved the flower boy’s purse from being stolen.

The tactic works, since he calls after her to introduce himself. This is YEON NAM-SAENG (No Min-woo), though he leaves his last name out when he tells her. Er, him? Well, she’s still a she, but just know that to everyone else, she’s a he.

Nam-saeng offers to buy her a drink in thanks only for her to coolly ignore him, so he calls out that they’ll have a drink when they meet again.

Jang sleeps on his throne during a council meeting, and by the whispers of the councilmen, things haven’t been too good in Goguryeo lately—for instance, with rampant starvation amongst the common people, some have turned to eating their dead children. The war has cost them dearly.

The servant shuffling around serving them tea finally asks in a low voice, “Are you saying it is Dae Mangniji’s fault?” But when the councilman readies to punish him, the servant is revealed to be Jang—he had a double pretending to sleep on the throne.

Jang laughs hysterically at the fact that they all fell for his ruse, seemingly drunk off his bottom or just crazy. To him, it doesn’t matter if he sits on the throne or not. “No one recognized me!”

Choong and his father have returned after a victory against Tang, and the councilmen now refer to Choong as a general. Jang is literally lounging on the throne in his disguise in boredom. No one cares what he does.

There’s grumbling in the court about whether General Yeon made the right decision to go to war with Tang when Yeon ignored an attempt at peace talks from Tang before it all started. Yeon defends his choices: “I cannot agree that this war was a failed one. Tang retreated and we protected Goguryeo. This is the only truth.”

Choong stands up for his father by saying that any failure was caused by the intelligence agency not doing their job… only to blame that failing on his father. Eek.

Jang makes the only decision he can, and dismisses General Yeon as chief of the intelligence agency (quite flippantly, as if this is all just for fun) only to appoint Choong in his place. Yeon doesn’t even let Jang have that—he’d rather appoint his recently-introduced son, Yeon Nam-saeng, to the position.

After the meeting, General Yeon asks Choong why he challenged his authority in the meeting. Does he mean to revolt against his father? “I am merely following my own path,” Choong replies.

And then we see Jang having a nervous breakdown alone in the meeting hall.

Mu-young, disguised as a boy, applies for a position at the intelligence agency. She’s able to lie that she received an official recommendation because she’s rehearsed all the facts beforehand.

Choong is waylaid en route to it-likely-doesn’t-matterville by a girl offering him a bouquet of flowers, clearly trying to earn favor with him. He brushes her off—as the top spy in their intelligence agency, flowers don’t suit her.

“A spy is still a woman,” she pouts after he’s gone. No formal introduction yet, but this is MO-SEOL (Park Su-jin). Thanks, character charts!

Mu-young passes the test to get into the agency with flying colors, just as her boss, Choong, enters. (I don’t know why this is funny, but it is. Workplace cohabitation sageuk, here we come.)

He freezes when he looks at her, a glimmer of recognition passing over his face. But due to her magical cloaking abilities, Choong doesn’t recognize her as the woman he once loved.

…Or does he?

After a long and troubled silence, Choong grabs her by the wrist to twist her arm behind her. “Who are you?” She spins around on him and twists his arm, introducing herself as So Mu-young.

Choong draws his sword to her neck. “I will ask you again. Who are you?”

Mu-young looks him in the eye sockets and says, “I am…”

“He’s my friend,” Nam-saeng says from the doorway. He throws his arm around Mu-young’s shoulders and smiles: “He’s my friend, hyung-nim.”


I was willing to suspend my disbelief when Choong couldn’t recognize Mu-young during their battle scene (even if he did look her straight in the windows of her soul and for prolonged periods) because masks have special powers in fiction. Clark Kent got away with glasses, City Hunter had a half-mask and pink skinny jeans, etc. Choong thinks she’s dead, and he wouldn’t expect to meet her in a fight. I can buy that.

Cross-dressing dramas ask a lot of us, and there’s usually a reason why some of the more popular ones (You’re Beautiful, Sungkyunkwan Scandal) had a comedic edge, because, c’mon. That’s not to say you can’t play cross-dressing completely straight, but this whole situation is bizarre, mainly because Mu-young looks THE SAME. And even if I were to buy that everyone else is spellbound into thinking she’s a dude now just because she wants to be, it’s going to be a really hard sell for this show to make me think that Choong buys it even for a second. Or at all.

And to the show’s credit, Choong was immediately suspicious and acted on those suspicions, so he wins some points there. But Nam-saeng was there to save the day, and if Choong gives up just because his freshly-introduced half-brother provides a cover story for her, I’ll throw my hands up in defeat. What I’m hoping the show will do is have him acknowledge, or at least know deep down, that Mu-young is very obviously the princess, because, seriously. C’mon.

I wasn’t expecting the time skip and found the details surrounding it fairly vague, getting only that Choong and Daddy Dearest went off to war, Jang apparently lost his mind in the mean time, and Mu-young got better at swordsmanship. That would’ve been a swell montage for the show to pull had we not just seen her hold her own against Choong in battle, a supposed martial arts master who’s never lost a fight. So yes, he would’ve won had she not gotten help, but that fight was already leaps and bounds above the two left feet she’s had in every other scuffle.

Her skills fluctuate depending on plot convenience, which was only a minor issue before her fight with Choong, where she suddenly got better only to then be unable to hack at a bamboo stem after. As far as the one big fight goes, I couldn’t find much significance in the deaths of Seol-young and Young-hae other than that the story hadn’t really found a place for them and didn’t feel like making one. I can’t be that heartbroken about it, but it would’ve been nice if the show had given me a reason to be. Break my heart, Show!


56 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Ivoire

    Thanks for the recap!

  2. Evadiva

    Yay! Been waiting for the recap! Thanks. This show is getting better by each episode <3

  3. whimsyful

    Thanks for the recap Heads!

    Yeah, Mu-young passing off as a boy is extremely unbelievable…but this is practically a wuxia already, so I’m giving it a shrug and a pass (though on a shallow note, I miss her pretty flowy robes). And to be fair, No Min Woo is so pretty as a guy, she doesn’t even stick out that much in comparison!

    But Choong! There’s no way he doesn’t recognize her, right?

    • 3.1 redfox

      I wonder if there are star scouts in this Goguryeo, cause the flower boy so needs to be scouted. heh, I would like that scenario. someone make a drama where a failed manager of a boy band time travels to ancient Korea and gets an idea too build an entertainment business there. omg that would be hilarious.

      as to this show I have watched perhaps 3 epsiodes randomly …seems like I dont miss much, spare a few killings. the masks, so laughable, you raise a scarf higher like with wind, don´t people do that always when they are cold? everyone should be used to seeing half the face covered so it wouldnt fool anyone. oh I forgot, in Korea they always bare their necks to freezing cold rain and wind so the they could get a lethal cold after surviving a war.

      • 3.1.1 Kiara

        It’s interesting that the original flower boys existed in this era. The Hwarangs = Flower Boys. They wore make up, dressed in fine clothing, highly educated,well trained in military combats and were expected to fight till death (no retreat).

        Our current flower boys are models, musicians, actors etc.
        Before Lee Jun-ki, Lee Min-ho, Jang Geun Suk etc etc, there were Bidam, Kim Yushin, Sadaham, Kim Alcheon etc etc.

        • redfox

          oh, fascinating!

  4. Windsun33

    I avoided this after watching about half the first episode, and it does not look like I am missing much. I am no fan of Saeguk dramas in the first place, but it looks like I will continue to stay away from this one.

    I can suspend belief for a lot of plot devices, but the fight you describe sounds way too much like a few others I have seen, where the heroine can fight off 97 Ultra Master Sword Dudes in one scene, but trips over her skirt in the next.

    • 4.1 Mikey

      This show is starting to get really idiotic. Who in the hell would believe the princess is a man? Just because she is more masculine than Nam-saeng? For real. I also don’t like how her ex didn’t even recognize her. Really bad memory for just 3 yrs of not seeing her. I hope the ending of this drama doesn’t suck as bad as Chuno did.

  5. bluemoon

    NMW is seriously pretty in this!

  6. Miss D

    It’s No Min-woo! Yesssss! AND he has black hair! This reminds me of his gumiho hunting days *sigh* can he please figure out Mu-young is a girl, fall in love with her and then have an awesome brother showdown? Hummmm…maybe I’ve seen too many dramas.

    And Park Su-jin is also here…gumiho reunion!

    Now if only Lee Seung-gi would randomly come along also…

  7. darcyM

    Yay, thanks so much for recapping this show. I had gotten worried that you’d decided to drop it, and then I got sad that I’d have no one to discuss it with. So thanks for sticking with it.

    So I had been pretty much fine with the continuity flaws. They had pretty much been easily over-lookable. Up until this episode. I mean, seriously: I love you show, but please don’t treat me like I’m stupid. Those are clearly breasts. Grr.

    However, I really like that Choong is suspicious of her, and the scene where he sees her during her interview was, for me, just amazing. I freakin’ loved that at that moment, there was no music, and Mu-young and Choong just stared at each other and the silence just got louder and louder and the tension got to near excruciating levels that I was digging my fingernails into my leg as I watched to try and cope. Gah. It was great. And pretty much makes up for the tittés.

    • 7.1 HeadsNo2

      Hah, well just to clarify since people were worried: The delay in last week’s recaps wasn’t because of a mid-recapping crisis, just a busy schedule! I’m in this show to win it, so recaps will continue until the (hopefully not) bitter end.

      • 7.1.1 darcyM

        Ah, cool. I appreciate the time you put into recapping, and I don’t want to be one of those demanding people who insist you recap for us, even though it’s your free time and whatnot. But I am relieved you’re sticking with it. So thanks. I did (at one low point) have to stalk you on twitter to make sure you hadn’t died and were still planning on carrying on. Haha, obsessed much?

  8. Elle

    But Choong did recognize her. He even demanded to know who she was because he did recognize her. I think it’s that he doesn’t (or possibly subconsciously refuses to) acknowledge that the Princess might be alive and in front of him. After all, he’s spent three years thinking that she’s dead and he’s allied himself with her worst enemy. It’s perfectly understandable

    It’s also not that hard for me to believe that Mu-young can pass for a guy considering that No Min-woo is there looking more girly than your average girl. And her “bosom” was more the way her loose clothes folded when she sat down rather than her actual bosom. I’ve seen it happen with guys too.

    • 8.1 darcyM

      Ooh, yes, I like your theory. Choong can’t allow himself to accept that the princess is alive, because everything he’s done for the last however many years was all because he believed she was dead. He has become this person he is now because he couldn’t save her. And what’s more, he’s become a person that she wouldn’t even know any more. It’s like he’s protecting himself emotionally by refusing to believe she’s back.

  9. Ann

    It is the Headband of Gender-Bending that she is wearing that must be protecting her. But, really, since she’s been in the woods all this time, she would at least have a tan!

  10. 10 sher

    Where did the son off leader so go ?
    He just vanished

    • 10.1 Sunny

      Agreed. What in the world happened to Shi-Woo? Where did he go?

      • 10.1.1 girlatsea

        I was just wondering the same thing.

    • 10.2 mysticmalady

      Since the princess can fend for herself now, Shi-woo probably found a way to time-travel to the present day and fulfil his childhood wish: to be a musician. XD

      Jokes aside, with cnblue’s concert tour in japan, there was probably no way Jungshin could keep flying back to korea these couple of days to act.

      • 10.2.1 Kiara

        Lol glad they didn’t kill him off. The supporting cast kind of grew on me.

    • 10.3 Waiting

      Glad to see this question because he was suddenly gone and I don’t recall seeing him injured or captured.

      I figured CNBlue’s schedule played a role but, Show, how about giving us a clue and not leaving this a mystery.

  11. 11 mary

    “Break my heart, Show!”

    Oh dear. The last time GF said something like that, this happened:

    I didn’t mind the plotholes so much because I was excited for NMW’s character!

    I bet he’s going to be the sexy wastrel who doesn’t care about politics until he finds a girl (Mu young) then suddenly he’ll go smart and serious and scheming bastard on us. 😛

    • 11.1 Kiara

      I expected a more manly warrior since he is General Yeon’s son but I really don’t mind him being pretty because its not out of place in this era.
      Shilla had their flower boys, the Hwarangs. Goguryeo and Bakje had their own version but I forgot what they were called.

  12. 12 laraffinee

    Thanks for continuing the recaps! i love this drama – yes there are some flaws, but they are minor to me and pale to the beautiful and well done elements.

    I have yet to see any drama, from any country, where the cross dressing storyline is believable, so I just go with that element of the story. I am more concerned about the addition of No Min Woo and Park Su Jin – neither of them have the acting skills that the main cast have and it felt like a jarring high school story got mistakenly edited into “The Sword and the Flower”. Those two just seem so out of place in a saeguk. I hope they don’t bring the drama down.

    • 12.1 Kiara

      I think Moon Geun Young was the most believable cross-dresser ever in “Painter Of The Wind”.

      • 12.1.1 seong

        I totally second that opinion! Especially when she acted as a girl crossdressing as a boy who had to crossdress as a girl. Those scenes were epic and Daesang worthy on their own!

  13. 13 Viki

    So I heard No Min Woo was added to the cast. Now I’m debating whether I should start watching this or not…hmm.

  14. 14 snow__white

    The main difference between other cross dressing shows and this is that in those, nobody knew the character identity as girl and so it was easy to believe that they took them as guys..
    But here….he knows the girl so well and now if he doesn’t identify her……UNBELIEVABLE!!

  15. 15 Kiara

    All hail to the Dark Lord Yeon.

    I have to give King Bo-jang credit for trying. He knows he is a puppet king but he doesn’t roll over and die. There is still a glimpse of hope, maybe he will team up with princess later.

    I predicted that there would be a time skip before Nam-saeung is introduced as an adult. There has to be an explanation as to where/why he wasn’t in the capital during daddy’s coup. (Historically he would be around 11yrs old right now.) I cant say I am excited to see him played by NMW but whatever.

    I’m guessing if Namgeon doesn’t make an appearance, Choong will siege power later.

    Thank you Heads for sticking with the show. I know it has flaws and sometimes its a bit difficult to shrug it off but I lup it still.

  16. 16 JenJen

    *Sigh* This show…. Surprisingly I wasn’t very upset by MuYoung’s fighting competency (or lack thereof) and bad-disguises-that-magically work. I think I’ve been slowly lowering my expectations for the show: Suddenly ShiHoo isn’t anywhere to be found and not even leader So/dad seems worried, the Geumhwadan were introduced as this random gang who appear to be important but are just being killed off without making us care, Choong can’t recognize the 1 woman who he was so whole-heartedly devoted to, I still don’t understand how Choong completely overrode his moral principles to the extent that he portrays now nor have I been convinced that Choong and MuYoung were/are in love…. Yet despite all this, I still find the show addicting like I keep hoping that the next episode will turn the tides.

    On a side note, I still don’t understand how No MinWoo can be so effeminately beautiful. Thankfully Uhmforce’s sexy brow-furrow is easier on the eyes.

  17. 17 dongsaeng killer

    damn UTW is hot. i want to complain about how much suspension of belief is required but then i see his face and forget my point

  18. 18 aramint

    my only question is, where is Shi-woo? If he’s unable to juggle his schedules anymore, at least give him a closure, not suddenly disappearing into thin air…aigoo..

  19. 19 triphooligan

    Thank you so much for recapping this drama! This show has gotten me up from a K-Drama slump and I still think this show is amazingly beautiful (The Duelist comes to mind) despite the gaping loopholes and the recent bombardment of cliche.

    I have yet to see more from the new characters but they’re passable to me in this episode, acting-wise. I like No Min Woo in his modern dramas but I have to admit he was pretty awkward in that first scene. It doesn’t help that I do not know if Nam Saeng’s character will be Yeon Gaesomun Jr. or if he’s going to be like the soft-boy-pretending-to-be-a-tough-man-to-gain-his-father’s-favor. But whatever it is, I hope he nails it.

    Looking forward to your recap for episode 12!

  20. 20 chane

    Thanks heads….is it wrong that i found choong hotter when he joined the dark side although i do miss his puppy eyes.

    • 20.1 darcyM

      No, I totally agree. It could be something to do with the fact that he is now no longer relying on Mu-young to give him purpose in life. He is developing more into his own person with his own motivations etc. Which makes him more attractive because he is driven and successful, and these are attractive qualities, despite what their endgame is.

      On the other hand, it could just be a case of bad boys=hot.

      • 20.1.1 chane

        Great point…but definitely bad boys always equal hotness.

    • 20.2 LSJ LADY

      His eye….sadness has made him look so cute and yummy!

  21. 21 Ellie

    I took it as Mu young being so determined that even a slash wound across her back that would hurt and bleed with every move and weakened her ability to slash a bamboo pole not be a deterrent to her revenge. Her slashing the bamboo pole only after so many strikes was to show her single mindedness.

    I do agree though that all these cross dressing dramas always make us choose to be blind for the sake of the story line. I would love to see some that had the girls more believable as young men/boys.

  22. 22 fan

    Thanks for recap! Story gets more interesting and I don’t care if Mu Young looks believable or not as a man. I am into the show ever since UmForce jumped into the water after the princess.

  23. 23 LSJ LADY

    Thanks for recap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I find your recap very helpfull….
    without subt… it was terrible …now i feel better

    I’ll probably rewatch this episode.

    I’m so frustrated………

    the writer & the PD could make something in the air …
    like some magic moments ..the 2 last episode …

    i wonder which side choong will choose after figuring out who she is
    in this case how can she face and live as princess

    general role is totally captivating. i really like him ….i have the feeling he is going to disappear….or wht???

    anyway thank you …..for your efforts …

  24. 24 Mystisith

    No Min Woo: The only reason why I’m back on that show and it’s totally enough and satisfying. At least he doesn’t put me to sleep like the other actors (UTW, I’m looking at you: Emote please.) The script can go down the drain, I don’t care. We had people flying in slow-mo, I can take the cross-dressing too. 😉

    • 24.1 mima

      dude, how hard to please a non fan eh?

      You don’t like UTW fine. But i don’t think you watch the show carefully enough so you can even digest his character here therefore you understand the way he has to emote here. What more do you want him to do? Screaming like a loon? Jumping with his head on the floor?

      I personally don’t even understand how an ever masculine, such powerful figure like Yeon can have a pretty flower son like Nam Saeng, nor that i find NMW’s acting so captivating on screen. He captivates coz his role requires him to be lot more expressive than UTW’s, duh!

      • 24.1.1 Mystisith

        UTW is supposed to give the same kind of vibes for his character (warrior attitude: Calm and alert, confidence, manliness, smart brain…) than Choi Min Soo but the latter simply is better at that game and he is not even a flower boy. I have nothing against UTW as a person but I find him extremely overrated as an actor. Now if you like him, that’s perfect. To each his own.

        • mima

          Nah, you just don’t like him as an actor so whatever he does he won’t be able to come up to your standard. I saw your comments in various sites/shows about him way even before this drama. Lol, your nick is pretty catchy, easy to remember. Anyway yes, you’re correct.

          To each of his own. Perfect. Thanks.

        • butting in~~

          I don’t agree with your comment re: Choong is supposed to be like Yeon. In fact, I believe he’s supposed to be the complete the opposite?

          He’s this weirdly pacifistic person (his hilarious belief in a PreviousKing-Yeon reconciliation was sweet in a sad way) who simply lost the girl and everything he believed in, something that made him go darker (you may or may not find that ridiculous but this goes beyond the actors). However, he’s still the same person at heart, incredibly conflicted and knowingly a betrayer of his own feelings. His acting has to be way more subdued, restrained, and subtle than Choi Min Soo’s, who delivers passion, conviction and brains awesomely. I don’t think UTW’s getting the beats quite right all the time, but he does the silent suffering with a depth and pathos I didn’t expect (my last UTW drama was Mawang, and he crossed into over the top quite easily while trying to EMOTE!!!11!!1!).

          Personally, I find No Min Woo barely tolerable and most of the time cringeworhty (thankfully restrained by what I guess is a good director?), while UTW has been a pleasant surprise.

          Anyway, King Bojang <3 \o/

          • Kiara

            Well said :).

          • triphooligan

            I actually felt like Choong is similar to his father. Only that his father’s current state of being is a result of his past decisions. He clearly loved Choong’s mother (based on that back-lit portrait scene), and she said to Choong that his father is a good person. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that YGSM is giving Choong opportunities to gain power because he is seeing himself in his illigitimate son and not with Namsaeng’s histrionics.

            Re UTW’s acting, I think he can tell so much with his face alone, even without dialogue. Part of how I endured the long silences of the earlier episodes is UTW’s nuanced facial expressions. 🙂

          • Kiara

            I like your comment on UhmForce’s acting because that’s exactly how I see it and it helps to have a good director on his side.

  25. 25 Carole McDonnell

    I looooooooooooove gorgeous aristocratic casually-brutal half-brother. Had to google No Min Woo after that. The relationships in this drama have been really good or really non-existent. Son and Dad: good. Daughter and Dad: good. Princess and Bastard Moony son:good. Princess and Nephew: good. But I so want Choong to have another relationship. Like it wouldn’t hurt him to have a kind of relationship with his half-brother. I don’t know what it is about the actor playing the half-brother but he brings a kind of vulnerability to the role. I feel as if the half-brother could become emotionally attached to him and would be welcoming to him, if Choong allowed it. (yeah, i’ve seen epi 12 and I know there’s sibling issues )

    …but wouldn’t it be good for Choong to have a real semi bromantic relationship with some other guy..especially with his brother?

    I just feel his love for his beloved and his need for daddy’s respect are somehow not enough to make him a well-rounded hero. Could be me, though.

    Thanks for recapping…and continuing to recap.

  26. 26 LSJ LADY

    I will try to guess what will happen in ep 13…

    the poor miserable and pathetic king …will show her affection and save her .. in order to silence his conscience

    Who can tell chong the truth ..is only that man with the umbrella
    his life and his daughter in danger now..i think//so

    leader so. will confess after convinced that the feeling of chong are sincere.

    for chong will start the race against time…

    or i am just keeding ……(:)

  27. 27 sweetcloud

    The thing with other cross dressing dramas is that the characters don’t know that the girl is a girl beforehand, so I can buy that they just think she’s a pretty effeminate boy. But here Choong knows her not only as a girl but THE girl so even though years (?) have passed, he thinks she’s been dead for all this time, and his memory of her may have faded, I don’t think you can’t recognize the love of your life at first glance. One of the good things in this drama is Choong’s unquestioned feelings for her so I hope they don’t make him stoopid for the sake of the plot!

  28. 28 Noelle

    No Min Woo! What a pleasant surprise.

    She ain’t fooling nobody with this charade. It’s redic. It’s just…I can’t. I can’t.

  29. 29 citizenzane

    Hi, thank you for the recap! We always appreciate the people who take the time and effort to put together a fantastic summary and analysis of our favorite kdramas. However, one teensy comment. Lately the recaps for this show are starting to sound snarky–incredibly witty, but still snarky. It really shows that this drama is beginning to annoy you, and that recapping it brings you little joy. Which is unfortunate, as it can be off-putting to a casual reader such as myself. Nevertheless, your recaps allow me to view the episodes from a different perspective, and that’s always a good thing. Thank you!

  30. 30 unnidian

    I am fairly new to Korean dramas and for the most part I love them (mostly the ones with happy endings, which have been in short supply lately)..I also so appreciate the time & effort that goes into subbing & recaps since I am not Korean, those things are a great help to me..
    So..now to add my comment..About now I am only watching because I rarely give up on a drama once I start..It is really slow going, which would not be so bad except so much time is spent with people just staring into space…cut this out & you’d probably lose three episodes at least..And..the suspension of reality has taken on new meaning, they not only suspended it..they threw it over the cliff ! Moo Young is far to feminine to pull this off & her chest binding isn’t working..Ah well..now that I have that off MY chest (pun intended)..I will keep watching to the most probably, bitter end..

  31. 31 Gasenadi

    @HeadsNo2: Laughed myself silly during your fantastic recap. Thanks so much.

    “…I love that Choong has this moment of recognition, like that very atypical head of not-hair wouldn’t have clued them in already.” ROTHFL!!

    Actually, I’ve become pretty good at suspending belief (or is it disbelief?). I only bailed with the candles-in-the-hay BD party in AimH.

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