Drama Recaps
Joseon Gunman: Episode 1
by | June 25, 2014 | 122 Comments

I wasn’t disappointed! And given how ridiculously excited I was for Joseon Gunman, surely that says a lot, doesn’t it? I had expectations, they were unreasonably high, and they were met.

The show is similar to The Princess’s Man (the obvious comparison, given the PD connection), but I mean that only in the best of ways. The stories stand separate and complete on their own merits, and are set in different periods of history, driven by different political climates and character motivations. But if you finished The Princess’s Man and were looking for a show to give the same blend of action, cinematography, intrigue, romance, and cute relationship interactions, Joseon Gunman pretty much delivers. Ahhhh this is gonna be a fun ride.

SONG OF THE DAY

Jung Joon-il – “언제까지나 지금처럼” [ Download ]

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EPISODE 1 RECAP

Opening titles inform us of the current state of Joseon, which is in the third year of Gojong’s reign, placing us in 1876. (Gojong became king in the previous decade, but his father acted as his regent until Gojong reached adulthood.)

It’s a turbulent period, with conflict brewing between the two leading political factions, the Sugu faction (conservative) and the Kaehwa (enlightenment). Those on the Kaehwa side support Gojong’s enlightenment policies during this time of change; Joseon was known as a hermit kingdom through the nineteenth century, keen to isolate itself from foreign influence. In the years leading up to this point in history, Joseon had rejected Western overtures to open trade lines, which had led to military clashes with American and French forces. While newer ideology advocated a more open policy, it had yet to take root.

Adding to the mounting tensions between Sugu and Kaehwa, recently Gojong’s Kaehwa supporters have begun, one by one, to fall victim to a mysterious figure toting a brand-new style of gun.

The head of the royal guard, PARK JIN-HAN (Choi Jae-sung), deploys his officers to nab the gunman, and they head toward a rally in session. A Kaehwa leader delivers an impassioned speech to a crowd of attentive scholars about the future of Joseon and the need for advancement. Guards station themselves with bows and arrows at the ready, awaiting any sign of trouble from the mysterious sniper.

Off in the distance, the gunman positions himself at a good vantage point and loads his gun, sliding the bullet into the chamber. Clack! Park Jin-han hears it and takes off in that direction. The gunman raises his rifle and takes aim. Bang!

The bullet finds its mark—the Kaehwa leader goes down. The crowd scatters in panic, and he dies.

His mission complete, the sniper turns to leave, only to get sliced in the arm by a flying arrow. Park Jin-han pursues as the gunman darts through the woods, and then through a field of reeds. Park is a skilled archer, but the chase moves fast and his arrows just barely miss their mark.

The chase pauses as the gunman crouches to load his rifle and Park Jin-han scans the field. Then when the sniper bolts up, the men face off, gun versus bow. They fire simultaneously.

The bullet lands first, barely missing Park’s head. A second later the arrow grazes the gunman’s bamboo hat.

Park Jin-han switches to his sword and races toward the gunman, who pauses to reload. Before he can get to him, the arrival of the rest of the royal guard interrupts and sends the sniper scampering away.

At the palace, KING GOJONG (Lee Min-woo) addresses his court, outraged at the string of assassinations: He has lost three scholars in the past month, all of them handpicked to see through his enlightenment policies. He holds one of his ministers accountable for this, KIM BYUNG-JE (Ahn Seok-hwan), who was in charge of the investigation.

If you couldn’t tell from the shifty look about Minister Kim, the fact that he’s part of the Sugu faction tells us that he’s on the antagonist’s side. He pays the king lip service, saying that they’ll work their hardest to solve the matter. Trembling in rage at the lack of respect directed his way, Gojong warns of dire consequences once the assassin is found and their backer unearthed.

Gojong’s supporters are dwindling, and only one Kaehwa scholar remains. Worse yet, he has gone missing (or into hiding). Gojong instructs his faithful guard Park Jin-han to find him and ensure his safety.

Park Jin-han promises and sends his men into the city investigate the gunman. He pauses at the gates of a gisaeng establishment, watching a drinking party whose attention is fixed on a young nobleman in their midst.

It’s our hero PARK YOON-KANG (Lee Jun-ki), who wields a sword and assures a gisaeng that he’ll cut the petals off the flower she’s holding in her teeth without harming her. He’s confident and playful; she is decidedly not.

Yoon-kang whirls to the beat of a drum, slashes with his sword, then sheathes the blade confidently. The gisaeng looks around, making sure she’s still alive, confused because the flowers are still intact. Then the ribbon on her top falls off in front, and the back slices open. Everyone erupts into laughter, appreciating Yoon-kang’s showmanship.

Yoon-kang basks in the attention, but catches sight of the royal guard at the edge of the premises, looking at him sternly. Whoops. Hi, Dad.

Park Jin-han pulls Yoon-kang aside to rebuke him for using his sword skills thusly. Yoon-kang dismisses his father with glib words, but there’s tension beneath the surface.Yoon-kang’s words have a bite as he tells his father not to worry about him and focus on catching the sniper who’s had him in a tizzy all month.

In a merchant’s shop, we meet JUNG SOO-IN (Nam Sang-mi), currently dressed in the getup of a male scholar, as she is given a small pistol by the shopkeeper, CHOI HYE-WON (Jeon Hye-bin). They’re obviously close friends, and while Hye-won doesn’t know what Soo-in has been up to with her disguise, she senses that it’s dangerous and urges her to be safe.

Soo-in hurries out, nervously holding her bundle close, and bam! She bumps right into Yoon-kang, dropping the pistol at their feet. She doesn’t notice, and heads off after shooting him a glare for his rudeness.

Yoon-kang spots the gun just as Soo-in realizes it’s gone, and his smile turns to a suspicious stare. Soo-in darts forward and throws herself over the gun, but curiously Yoon-kang just saunters away. The moment she heads off, he turns back to watch her.

Soo-in heads to a bookshop, having heard this is a place frequented by the king’s last remaining scholar, Oh Kyung. Soo-in leaves a note to be passed along to him.

She leaves nervously and almost rams into Yoon-kang again, though this time he puts himself in her path purposely. She just wants to get rid of him, but he’s too curious to let her go and keeps asking questions, to her annoyance. He readily discloses that he followed her, wondering what she’s up to with that gun.

Yoon-kang deduces that she’s too slight to be the assassin on the loose but assumes Soo-in is working with him. She protests, and when he tries to stop her from leaving, she slaps him in the face.

He tries to pursue but gets tangled up in a brawl, which gets him dragged to the police station. The misunderstanding is cleared and he’s let go, aided by his friendship with the officer in charge, HAN JUNG-HOON (Lee Dong-hwi). Officer Jung-hoon advises Yoon-kang to drop his idea of finding that gun-toting scholar, because he doesn’t want to get dragged into the gunman business.

Soo-in arrives home still bristling at the rude punk she had the misfortune to run into. She transforms back into the genteel young lady she is most of the time, while her maid grumbles at her to stop sneaking out because it’s making her a nervous wreck.

The maid finds the gun and chides Soo-in for accepting the gift, even if it was from her friend. Soo-in replies that it could be handy because she’s so on edge every time she goes in search of scholar Oh Kyung—it feels like the assassin is following her around.

The maid pleads with her to give up, wondering, “What’s so wonderful about that book?” Soo-in who takes issue with that, saying that the book was left to her by her teacher, and she must pass it on as promised.

Time for villains. Politicians and aristocrats of the Sugu faction gather for a tense meeting. Minister Kim is in attendance, while the proceedings are led by Sugu leader Kim Jwa-young. He is also the head of the powerful Andong Kim clan, and pretty much our king’s most powerful opposition.

Kim Jwa-young tells his bickering followers not to act rashly—they’re best off biding their time and allowing Gojong to come to the conclusion on his own. Once he sees Oh Kyung being taken out next, the wind should get knocked out of the king’s sails.

Minister Kim offers up another concern, regarding the king’s close official Park Jin-han, who is doggedly tracking down the gunman they hired. Kim Jwa-young gives the go-ahead to take care of any interferences that arise.

The sniper returns to his assassins’ headquarters in a deep cave and reports to his boss, CHOI WON-SHIN (Yoo Oh-sung). Choi Won-shin assigns a different sniper to handle the next assassination, which will target Park Jin-han. Oh Kyung’s assassination will follow.

At headquarters, Park Jin-han receives a special delivery of a state-of-the-art gun, similar to the one the sniper used. It originates from America and is more powerful, faster, and less complicated to use than the firearms of the past—there’s no weapon in this nation that can defeat it. Sobering news. Park is advised to actively avoid crossing paths with the gunman for his own safety’s sake, but something tells me Park isn’t the type to back off.

At home, Yoon-kang sits with his younger sister YEON-HA, who worries about their father being away from home for ten days straight. Yoon-kang says half-bitterly that this is nothing, and that their father once didn’t come home for ten months and missed both their births—he was too busy with his work.

Yoon-kang finishes whittling a little wooden owl, which Yeon-ha laughs at for looking more like a big pot. She asks him to make one with its wings stretched out, a prospect he finds daunting. Aw, they’re cute.

Up on a nearby rooftop, our second assassin lies in wait as Park Jin-han arrives home. Yeon-ha jumps up to greet him and Dad bends to hug her, so when the sniper fires at Park Jin-han’s head, the bullet misses. Suddenly alert, Park orders his children inside and jumps on his horse to pursue the shadowy figure retreating in the distance.

But Yoon-kang isn’t about to just sit at home and takes off at a run with sword in hand. The sniper hides in the marketplace, managing to evade Park Jin-han’s notice as he continues past him. But it’s Yoon-kang who confronts him from the other direction, looking ripe for the challenge.

The sniper takes aim, but Yoon-kang executes a bunch of fancy, fast-twisting maneuvers. By the time the bullet is dispatched, he’s already elsewhere. His sword clashes several times with the gun in close quarters, in between running and whirling. Man, he’s fast. Not faster than a speeding bullet, but definitely faster than the brain firing it.

In the end, Yoon-kang sends the gunman crashing to the ground. Somehow despite being vastly overpowered, sword beat gun. That’s when his father comes charging along on his horse, and the sniper darts away. Yoon-kang can only stand back as his father rides off after him.

The rest of the guard joins the hunt, but they lose the trail in a residential neighborhood. Park’s sharp eyes note the roof tile that’s askew and demands entry to the home.

This house belongs to assassin leader Choi Won-shin—whose daughter is our young merchant friend Hye-won. Choi Won-shin is not about to let these guards barge into his home, but Hye-won steps in and allows it, saying that they are not interested in harboring a criminal. She commands her servants to open up the home and allow the search. Her father doesn’t seem happy, but doesn’t stop it.

The search turns up nothing, and Park Jin-han has to lead his men out empty-handed. Hye-won urges her father not to get too upset, and he agrees for her sake; he seems a doting father at least.

Choi Won-shin did in fact harbor the assassin, who has hidden himself beneath a trapdoor. Choi is displeased to have landed on Park’s radar and warns his man not to come to his home again. Seems like the two snipers are on thin ice with the boss.

Deeming his house unsafe, Park Jin-han packs up his children to deliver them to the household of a friend. The man is an official state interpreter, JUNG HEE-RYUNG (Eom Hyo-sub), who credits Park Jin-han for saving his life during one of his travels and is therefore happy to welcome the children into his home.

They are joined belatedly by the daughter of the house… who is, of course, none other than Soo-in. Yoon-kang doesn’t seem to recognize her (though he gets a bit googly-eyed), but Soo-in has a knee-jerk reaction of horror that has to be smoothed over by her parents.

She mumbles that he reminded her of a young man she knew. (Mother: “How would you be knowing any young men?!”) Her father just says that Yoon-kang was so handsome she must have been startled.

Not having the best opinion of him, Soo-in sees Yoon-kang to his quarters brusquely. He’s polite (and potentially interested in her), so her coldness is a little baffling; he asks if they’ve met before, wondering if there’s a reason she seems familiar. She gets in a dig when she says the man Yoon-kang reminds her of is really rude, violent, and infuriating, which gives her a nice feeling of satisfaction. He’s just confused, poor guy.

Her maid, on the other hand, oohs over the beautiful young man, which sours Soo-in’s expression. Particularly at the part where the maid says he probably gets a lot of female attention. The maid clocks her grumpiness and asks slyly, “Or is it that he wasn’t very interested in you?” Heh.

Soo-in’s mother pulls her aside to scold her for her discourtesy. She meekly agrees, but leaves the room complaining indignantly to herself, “Am I some gisaeng? Do you want me to flirt too?!”

Which, of course, Yoon-kang overhears from the yard, saying he’s just taking a look around. Soo-in snaps that he’s not allowed in this area (the ladies’ quarters), and he fishes for excuses to explain his presence, when it’s obvious that he’s curious about the pretty lady. Aw. I do love how thrown he is by her obviously hostile behavior.

Yoon-kang apologizes for overhearing her conversation with her mother, which only makes her huffier, adding eavesdropping to his list of offenses. He just apologizes a few times and walks off with bruised feelings.

Yeon-ha worries for her father’s safety, though Yoon-kang reminds her of Dad’s status as the best swordsman of their time. Even if the enemy has a gun, it’s not just the weapon that gives you an advantage; you have to use your skills in sizing up a situation and find the way to win. We’ve already seen that he’s quite proficient at that.

Yoon-kang heads out to meet his officer friend Jung-hoon, and almost crosses paths with Soo-in on her way out in her scholar garb. She sees him first, thankfully, and ducks out of sight without being spotted.

Soo-in returns to the bookshop, where the owner confirms that Oh Kyung hasn’t been by. He does offer her the rumor that Oh Kyung was spotted in Banchon, and she darts off straightaway toward that district.

Once there, Soo-in catches a glimpse of someone who could be Oh Kyung and follows him through the streets. She loses the trail, but that’s when he yanks her aside threateningly and asks who she is. He doesn’t believe she’s friendly until she gasps out the name of their teacher Hyun Am and identifies herself as Lord Jung’s daughter.

Soo-in explains about the book left to her and invites him to pick it up. Oh Kyung asks her to meet him tomorrow instead, giving a location and time. She promises to be there when the curfew bell rings.

That night, Yoon-kang dines with his friend Jung-hoon, telling him of his new living arrangement. Jung-hoon asks if there are any pretty young daughters around, and Yoon-kang sighs that there is a daughter, but she’s got a foul temper. Jung-hoon: “But is she pretty?”

Yoon-kang concedes that she’s rather pretty, but reiterates the point about her bad character. Jung-hoon: “People always change their minds about how they feel about a person’s character.” Yoon-kang: “And the face?” Jung-hoon: “That doesn’t change.” Pwa. They’re adorable.

Merchant-assassin Choi Won-shin reports to his superior, who, to nobody’s surprise, is none other than Sugu faction’s leader, Kim Jwa-young. Choi Won-shin apologizes for failing to kill Park Jin-han and vows to do it right the next time, but Kim Jwa-young switches up the order. Kill Oh Kyung next. Park seems to be too much for them to handle.

He also mentions that Teacher Hyun Am reportedly left a book behind. Find that too.

This is the book Soo-in guards so preciously, and a flashback informs of how she came to have it. Now we see that Hyun Am, Kaehwa faction’s leader, was the speaker who was shot at the top of the episode. He asks Soo-in to pass the book to Oh Kyung after she reads it, as Oh Kyung will serve the king. He speaks in the tones of a man who suspects his time is nearing its end and Soo-in urges him not to go out to that rally. But he tells her that it’s okay, now that he has the book and followers to continue his work.

By the time Yoon-kang and Jung-hoon quit drinking and head home, Soo-in is preparing for her secret rendezvous with Oh Kyung. So as Yoon-kang slips around to the side door, he sees Soo-in walking away from the house. At first he doesn’t think much of it, but recalling the gun incident, he starts running after her, suspecting that more danger may be afoot.

News of Oh Kyung’s sighting reaches the palace guards. Park Jin-han immediately heads off to find him, intent on protecting him.

There’s one royal guard already keeping an eye on Oh Kyung, but he’s easily overpowered from behind. Oh no, it’s the assassin.

Soo-in’s on the road to meeting Oh Kyung when Yoon-kang steps into her path, blocking her way. He asks where the sniper is, and she protests that he’s got it wrong. But that’s hardly convincing, and he brandishes his sword at her, convinced she’s a bad guy.

Soo-in fumbles for her gun, and levels it at him. His eyes widen.

She asks him to step aside, insisting that she’s not in league with the villains. He demands, “Then what about that gun?” He orders her to drop the gun and follow him quietly to the police if she wants to live. If she’s truly innocent, she has nothing to lose.

Feeling time ticking and growing increasingly desperate, Soo-in explains that she has her reasons. She begs him to let her go on.

At the same time, the actual sniper aims his sights on Oh Kyung. Ready… aim…

Yoon-kang refuses to step aside, offering her to the count of three to give up. She obviously doesn’t want to use her gun but may have to, and tries to warn Yoon-kang that he can’t block a gun “with a measly sword,” and that pricks his pride.

Just a sword, eh? “I can,” he vows.

He raises the sword and charges. Cringing, she squeezes the trigger. Bang!

 
COMMENTS

What a relief to have a show be as good as I wanted it to be, and leave me with a warm, satisfied feeling. I love the characters, I love their interactions, and I’m swept up in the current of the show with its solid pacing and skillfully balanced threads that manage to make the drama both suspenseful and funny, action-packed and romance-laden.

The cast has always been an obvious draw for this show, but I’m sure we’ve all seen clunkers that nonetheless featured our favorite stars. The actual plot is the most crucial element and the one thing we had to have the most blind faith in, because I could see from pre-launch promotional materials that the other stuff—directing, cinematography, atmosphere, acting, music—was in good hands. So I’m really happy to find a narrative that feels rich and textured, and is perhaps a little less common among sageuks given that it’s much later in the Joseon dynasty. Not quite modern, but close enough to the brink to feature a different set of emerging values.

We’re at a place where there’s rumblings for a more progressive, forward-thinking foreign policy, eschewing isolationist policies of yore, and that means huge sea changes for the current regime. I suppose you can’t quite blame the conservatives for resisting what they see as dangerous radical thinking, because too often that kind of drastic action could have dire consequences if handled badly.

Not that they’re justified in just killing people who disagree with them, but I think the “people with power want to keep their power” is a universal sort of motivation.

Character-wise, I just love the clash between Soo-in and Yoon-kang, even if it’s rather one-sided at the moment. She totally has reason to snub him given how he misreads her character and manhandles her a bit, but because he has no idea of her thoughts, it’s cute seeing him handle his befuddlement. It’s all, But… I just think you’re pretty. What did I do to you?

Nam Sang-mi is so winning when she’s allowed to be bubbly and spirited, which is why this character really works for me. (It’s such a waste when she’s given flat characters who are sad all the time.) She’s educated and privileged, and her family aligns with the enlightenment movement, so I can see how despite her sheltered upbringing the seeds are sown for her to grow into her character, to make the most of her feelings of justice and idealism.

Yoon-kang is the more conflicted character, with the thorny father-son relationship and the frivolous ways and the lighthearted attitude. How amazing is it going to be when he transforms himself into a serious adult, driven by actual matters of importance? I know that my heart’s gonna break for him because he’ll have some guilt to deal with regarding his relationship with Dad, but that’s such rich stuff to mine that it’ll be a good kind of pain. And if there’s anything I trust Lee Jun-ki with, it’s that.

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122 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. MIKAN

    I love this drama already Jun Ki!!!!!

    • 1.1 Reena

      Lee Jun Ki Oppa ALWAYS looks sooo manly in Joseon attire. ;) Ahhhh… He’s like a manhwa character brought to life.

      • 1.1.1 dramalover

        I never got over that look after Arang and the Magistrate so the main reason I’m tuning in is Lee Jun Ki in joseon attire. :P <3 haha

    • 1.2 secretlyaddicted

      I hope this doesnt turn out like Doctoc Stranger.

      • 1.2.1 funlugha

        Knock on wood jebal!

      • 1.2.2 HaLa

        Me too!
        but i don’t think so, their historical dramas are always reasonable

        • 1.2.2.1 theravennest

          lol Not always.

          Dr. Jin. Enough said.

      • 1.2.3 Miro

        OMG…Doctor Stranger is a total disaster! What a waste. I love both the Male leads..but I don’t know what happened to that kdrama. I dropped it and just read the recaps. Very sad. It’s good that there’s this new kdrama and the upcoming, It’s Okay, It’s Love…

  2. blo

    *Pauses current drama to read*

    I watched the first episode and thought it was a nice start to what I expect to be a great series. Lee Jun Ki, beautiful as usual. I grinned like crazy when he first came on. But no episode experience is complete without my DB recap.

  3. Yi_er

    Thanks for the review, Javabeans! Off to read the recap!

  4. crazedlu

    Ohhhhh soooo prettyyyy. I watched the RAW today and was totally swept into their world. Lee Jun-ki won me over with “Arang”. The man is so good at sageuk and fighting. Yeah! The posters and trailers did their thing. Can’t wait for them to up the epic. For now, I’m really enjoying the fun, entertaining pace. The soundtrack is fantastic in setting the tone and building their world. I love it! I guess my gripe is Nam Sang-mi. I hate her crying, mopey, omgosh-shut-up characters, but I am soooo not used to cutesy Nam Sang-no. Eck. Seems so unnatural. What I like from her is her character from “Bad Family”; strong and funny. Cutesy? No. Still, loving this drama so far!

    • 4.1 Kiara

      She isn’t winning me over yet either but I didn’t expect much from her after watching the trailers.
      Jeon Hye-bin can easily out act her in sageuks. She has charisma and screen presence that makes her naturally believable in her last 2 sageuk roles.
      Well, this is just the first eps, maybe Nam will surprise us later.

      • 4.1.1 pigsnout

        Yeah she is no Shin Min Ah, but she’s ok. Not bad even if Soo-in is a bit too cutesy.

      • 4.1.2 mo0mi

        i thought she was terrible.. or maybe too old to act like a 16 yr old, and the surprising gestures made it look over the top and annoying.. hopefully she will change cause i can’t stand these type of characters..

        • 4.1.2.1 pogo

          I don’t think it’s about her age so much as the fact that it looks utterly bizarre and contrived that such a bumbler could successfully do anything, whether it’s concealing a gun, smuggling books or – kdrama 101 – cross-dressing. Nam Sang-mi definitely disappears into her character, the problem is that the character is so annoying (if sometimes cute)

  5. greenteamochi

    I’m just dying to watch this; been waiting for it for weeks!

    Does anyone have links for streaming? (Eng subs please).

    • 5.1 DBChen

      I watched it on Dramafever.com

    • 5.2 xvanex

      i watched it on dramacool. first time using that site and it wasnt bad. good quality & no commercials

    • 5.3 Skyofblue

      Good day Mochi. I’ve found ep 1 on goodrama!

      • 5.3.1 greenteamochi

        Thank you, everybody! Your kindness in enabling my obsessions are much appreciated.

        You have my gratitude.

  6. coffeenlucia

    Ah, if only HD and english subtitles were compatible

    Jun Ki and Nam Sang Mi are looking great!!

    • 6.1 daktari34

      They are compatible. You just need to have a newer model HD tv with a USB port and you can plug a flash drive containing the downloaded episode and subtitle file into it. If both have the same name, the tv should pick up the subtitles automatically.

  7. redfox

    haven´t watched yet, but I will. Especially when You Are Surrounded delivered a pretty boring episode. The tone of the show looks good.

    • 7.1 Chandler

      For the first time I actually watched the live episode of a drama because I simply couldn’t wait and I already love it! Can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m pretty sure this show is my new favorite thing.

  8. sur

    off to read thanks for the recap..

    Eeee was waiting eagerly for this hope its good, I love jun ki in anything, but Nam sang mi only won me over in bad family hope she delivers like that

  9. Amberscube

    I was worried that nobody will recap this… Im so glad JB is recapping.

    I love it already…

  10. 10 Fangirlmisstee

    Does anybody know whether it was well-received last night in korea? I need to know.. I badly want Junki oppa to be appreciated for all his efforts… Arang and Two Weeks did not flop and had a steady fanbase but didn’t top their timeslots.. I hope the drama gets double digit ratings.. Better if it edges the competition hihi.. Oppa fighting!

    • 10.1 Kiara

      Well, 8.4 is not bad I guess. That’s what the production team were expecting. Arang’s first eps was at 13.3 but that was 2yrs ago. I’m not comparing it to Two Weeks since it wasn’t a sageuk.

      • 10.1.1 pogo

        Arang was two years ago and it also had the superstar double-whammy because Shin Mina was the other lead.

        We haven’t got any other big names in the cast here, at least not on Jun-ki’s level, so for what it’s worth, in the current tv climate (where no one is getting ratings even into the teens) 8 percent isn’t bad at all for opening ratings.

    • 10.2 javabeans

      Jun-ki posted a tweet saying “A good start! Thank you”

  11. 11 Kat

    Of course, Oh Kyung, *no one* is gonna recognize you as you slip into hiding. With your goddamn spectacles. The only ones around. Harry Potter’d, nonetheless.

    OH KYUNG I THOUGHT U WERE A SCHOLAR.

    • 11.1 MariD

      But the glasses are period appropriate & if you ever needed glasses you know that some people have to have them on to have a normal life. Me I’m so extremely nearsighted that without my glasses I basically can just sit & read….

    • 11.2 kanz

      You just need to know that glasses with “Harry Potter” frame was available in Korea around 1800s. And to my knowledge, it’s the only model available. I knew that after I watch Painter Of The Wind and a couple of sageuks.

  12. 12 chane

    Thank you so much for the recap!!!

  13. 13 Dramafed1782

    I just watched some clips uploaded by KBS on YT. Awesome execution of the scenes and the cinematography in the rain – what a delight for the eyes!
    I have just fallen in love with Nam Sang Mi :> Her comic timings and interaction with Lee Jun Ki were to a perfect tee.
    Additionally, the political backdrop is something unique. I hope the drama keeps the same pace till the very end :)

  14. 14 Mimi

    Wow, oh wow the 1st ep of Joseon Gunman is so freakin awesome! I love this drama already.

  15. 15 cupkate

    Oh my god yes! thank u jb, as always awesome recap!

    this show started really good and i hope it will continue to do so..as always, lee jun ki did not disappoint me in this episode…

  16. 16 Muenchabench

    I’m not one for copious amounts of historical drama watching, but damn this has me excited in all the right ways! How does Junki look hotter in Hanbok’s than in modern garb? Soo-in’s male alter ego was a nice surpise, and I little the infusion of humor that will hopefully continue when things get angsty. Yay show!

    • 16.1 Kiara

      Jun-ki looks hot in both. Like him with his hat on cause I don’t like his top-knot lol. Wait till you see him in later in his western suit. Yummm.

  17. 17 exquisitemelody

    FINALLY!!!! A new show that I like! I’ve been a little disappointed with recent premieres, but this one has caught my attention in one episode. I really love the leads – it’s going to be a lot of fun seeing them together. I can’t stand assy chaebol characters anymore, so it’s nice when dramas have leads who seem decent. And I’m always on board when the girl has spunk – I’m tired of watching meek girls.

    Thanks for the recaps!!! I was afraid you all wouldn’t recap it…dramas are 100000x better with DB recaps :D

    • 17.1 alua

      <can’t stand assy chaebol characters anymore

      Amen to that.

      I liked that the female character has spunk, but I did think that she wasn't too quick-witted for a scholar…

  18. 18 parny

    Can’t wait to watch this! Lee Jun Ki is awsome in saguek. Hope this drama gets the praise it deserve and for LJK to get the top prize for his acting. 💗

  19. 19 xvanex

    Solid episode & of course Jun Ki looks amazing. But I did not like Nam Sang Mi at all! Her acting seemed so over-the-top. She really got on my nerves.

    • 19.1 Caitlyn

      Yeah, she annoyed me a bit too. I’m hoping, and assuming, she grows on us though.

    • 19.2 FU

      Poor Nam Sang Mi…
      Just ununderstandable why Lee Joon Gi considered that “she is the best”…

      • 19.2.1 Jewel

        The pd teams and stars might promote well to those related to their projects whether they are good enough or not.
        Same goes to LJK, even if he thinks she’s not the best, to get good reviews from the reporters, also since this is a drama containing romance as one of the major factors. The more important fact is to get high ratings, right?
        NSM is just not good enough in sageuk but not that annoying to me yet. She will become a mature lady later I think so.

        Anyway, I’m loving every aspect of Joseon Gunman. How can LJK choose these quality dramas?? The talented guy really, can’t get enough of him whenever his dramas ended.

      • 19.2.2 jj

        they were good together in Time between dog and wolf. her acting was good in there. but hes really annoying in this one

  20. 20 Kiara

    Yay its finally here! Thank you JB :).

    The opening scene was my favorite. Beautifully shot and Choi Jae-sung is always a joy to watch on any battle field. Loved him since “Eyes of Dawn”, “Iron Empress” etc. I hope they don’t kill him off early.

    Love the lead’s encounters but I’m still trying to get use to Nam Sang-mi in sageuk.

    Also love all the side characters, from young Yun Ha to Minister Kim. Ahn Suk Hwan has got to be the busiest veteran in dramaland with a dozen projects last year.

    I think Oh Kyung will make it, Kaehwa needs a new leader and Gojong is pretty much powerless.

    So far so good <3. Can't wait for tomorrow's episode.

  21. 21 MeLiYasha

    It’s a good thing Gap-dong was finished right before this show starts. That way we can have DB recapping it for us \o/

    And looking at how excited DB is, I’m sure I won’t be disappointed either. Yay!

    • 21.1 MeLiYasha

      Whooops I mean JB.

  22. 22 pigsnout

    YESSSSSSSS FINALLY!!!!

    I love Lee Jun Ki here and I know it is all about the OTP but I really liked his father and dongsaeng, he obviously cares about his family a lot. I hope they do not pull a Princess Man on them, ok Dad’s days are numbered since bad guys want him dead, but at least leave Yeon-ha alone! LJK is very cute in teasing oppa mode and she’s adorable when she teases him about his owl carving.

    PS Isn’t Yeon-ha the same girl who played Yi-hwa/ young Song-yi in YFAS? I like her, she emotes naturally even if she sounds a bit awkward in sageuk speech. Please don’t kill her off here too!

    • 22.1 redfox

      yes the sister is young Song Yi! Now Jun-Ki has a “drama.daughter” AND a “drama-sister”. His dramaland-family keeps growing

      • 22.1.1 pogo

        I just looked up the actress’ age and saw she turned fourteen only two weeks ago – amazing that Jun-ki looks young enough to convincingly play her oppa when he’s actually 18 years older than her (I’m still marvelling at his genes and whatever fountain of youth he drank from)

  23. 23 lh39

    Javabeans – thanks for the wonderful recap of this debut episode.

    I am already drawn into this tale of martyrs, a small group of supporters and fight against the yangban for an enlightened country.

    Am liking the two strong female leads who have a vision in their heads and mission in their lives. Kdrama writers need to get more confident women with equal standing as men into their scripts.

  24. 24 AnOpinion

    I have a feeling that his dad and sis will die sometime soon. You know, all sagueks go in that direction.

    • 24.1 Kyurisia

      It’s already described in the synopsis. I like the acting of both dongseng and daddy, don’t wanna see they leave YK too soon.

    • 24.2 Safa Hajunse

      Thank you very much
      this drama will be the best this year ^_^

    • 24.3 pigsnout

      Comment twins!

      Dad is a goner for sure, but they should leave dongsaeng alone at least. I hope for that much.

      • 24.3.1 redfox

        besides, how many times does a girl have to die?

        • 24.3.1.1 Kiara

          Sadly I think she will die before her dad.

          • 24.3.1.1.1 pogo

            nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

            (I really liked her, the siblings were so cute together and I don’t want him to be all alone in the world with absolutely zero family)

            Of course realistically we’re looking at dad facing a treason charge soon because apparently getting people killed for treason in Joseon is as easy as sneezing.

  25. 25 aida

    Wow! It deffinitely exceeded my expectations! I can’t wait to se how Yoon Kang grows and actually becomes our hero and can’t wait to see development in his relationship with Soo in who is by far an impressive character for a first lead and i aslo liked his relationship with is sister and hope to see morr of that…and also for the first i understood the politics of a sageuk from the first episodd :p hope i don’t get too confused moving forward lol….thumbs up this drama seems very promissing thank goodness…and thanks javabeans for the recap and your comments

  26. 26 Aurora

    Thank you JB for recaping this drama series. It’s very helpfull for me to understand the story after seeing the video streaming without English sub. I hope the story will solid and receive good rating. Gunman in Joseon fighting!!

  27. 27 helena

    I think I’m going to love this drama!

  28. 28 Laden

    I just might finally check out a LJK drama cos this drama seems like it would be really nice

  29. 29 JoJo

    Thanks for the recap, JB. Loved the first episode so I’m on board, hopefully for a good ride.

  30. 30 John

    Javabeans, thanks for the recap.

    Who could ask for anything more? Action, adventure, handsome men and beautiful women. Looking forward to the next episode and recap.

    I had a bit of deja vu with the girl dressed as a scholar in the book store, (SKKS), but that’s ok.

    Quite a cast. Looking forward to seeing Nam Sang-mi and Jeon Hye-bin.

  31. 31 Moko

    OMG. That guy from King’s Family is in this too???

    WHY didn’t I know this???

    OMOMOMOMOMOOoo…

  32. 32 kittycat

    OMG I didn’t even know this drama had started airing….off to watch it.

  33. 33 utopious

    This was awesome, and of course we weren’t disappointed because LJK has eyes for good dramas! that’s now official.

    aahh I missed so much his action scenes. When he was fighting with the gunned guy I was like “it’s dangerous, pick yourself a gun right now!”

    I’m loving NSM’s Soo-In, she is very well carrying the role in my opinion. Her scenes with him are also very cute. I’m expecting more cuteness and badassary from this couple. Can’t wait!

  34. 34 CityHunter8472

    OK, I can’t be the only one who noticed and enjoyed all the TIME BETWEEN DOG AND WOLF connections here.

    There’s the main pairing, obviously, which has been noted previously.

    About halfway through the episode, I realized that the actor playing LJK’s father was Nam Sang Mi’s father in TBDAW. I think it took me a while to recognize him since he isn’t sporting bleached blonde hair in this drama. But it’s pretty funny that the man who murdered his mother in TBDAW is now playing his father. Ha!

    Also, I grinned like an idiot when I saw LJK carving the wooden owl. This gave me major flashbacks to the carved elephant that shows up in several key scenes from TBDAW.

    I’m actually watching The Princess’s Man for the first time right now, so I noted all sorts of connections with that as well. Like the actor playing the king, who is also the prince consort in TPM.

    The only thing that threw me off was the fact that the gunman assassin at the beginning was fighting on the “conservative” side. You would think that the conservatives would be the ones who stick to using swords and arrows, ala “The Last Samurai.” Seems kind of hypocritical for them to reject the opening of their borders to Western influence when they’re perfectly willing to use modern guns to kill people they don’t like.

    Overall, I enjoyed this premiere. The interaction between the two leads is entertaining, as I had hoped. It’s kind of fun that NSM’s character is so different from her character in TBDAW. Her character in TBDAW is generally more subdued than her character here. It will be fun to see how this all plays out.

    • 34.1 Because of Reasons

      I think that the hypocrisy of the conservative faction was exactly the point. Their claim is that they are trying to preserve Joseon by keeping it as a closed state, but really they are trying to preserve their own power, and they have no problem with covertly adopting new Western technologies (while keeping other people from getting it) if it gives them the advantage and helps them to maintain their position of ascendancy. The whole “say one thing, but do another” is supposed to demonstrate their self-interest, corruption and lack of integrity.

      • 34.1.1 Kiara

        Well, I’m not taking sides but opening Joseon boarders to foreigners will eventually led to the destruction of Joseon. I don’t think either faction has the country’s best interest first before their own.

        • 34.1.1.1 Because of Reasons

          I’m not taking sides either in terms of a real-life evaluation of which policy would have been better for Joseon. But for narrative purposes, a drama like this is going to have its heroes and its villians, and so far the Conservative side have been mainly depicted as underhanded and conniving and the Enlightenment side as brave and noble. So it seems pretty clear from the first episode that the Conservative faction are supposed to be the bad guys–they’re the ones having people assassinated and being disloyal to their king. So the
          hypocrisy is part and parcel of their villainy.

          Also, neither side can see the future, so it’s not like the Enlightenment faction is purposely trying to bring about the downfall of the Joseon Kingdom. They are shown as earnestly trying to do what they think is best for the country and the people, whereas the Conservative faction are shown as being interested in maintaining their own power.

          A thought came to me as I was typing this up: maybe the portrayals in the drama are a bit of a subtle allusion to/commentary on the political situation in the Korean peninsula of the current day (rather than in the Joseon-era)? North Korea is infamously isolationist and brutally silences dissenters causing citizens to suffer while the dictatorship hangs onto power, whereas South Korea has been more open to engagement with the outside world and has seen tremendous growth and advancement as a result. I don’t think the drama is trying to make an explicit political statement, but there are some interesting parallels.

          • 34.1.1.1.1 Kiara

            Its no surprise that the real power is being wield by the ministers and not the king. That’s basically Joseon for you, nothing new.

            I like your thoughts on the current politics vs back then. It would have been great if the current state of S.Korea was the result that Kaehwa was after but every foreign interest in Korea during that era were in it for their own gain. I seriously doubt that Kaehwa didn’t see their downfall coming. They were made up of scholars, the most educated in the country.

            Anyway, like you said this is a drama and we need our heroes and baddies :).

    • 34.2 pogo

      yeah I saw all the Princess’ Man connections too, in the story. And it was nice to see Jeong again as the king here, I liked his character in TPM :(

      • 34.2.1 fan

        I felt Princess’ Man vibe from music in the beginning. But NamSangMi’s accent felt too modern to me. BTW King and general WonKyun in Immortal YiSoonSin drama is one of Park Jin-han’s palace guard and PJH now. Funny how position is sort of reversed.

  35. 35 Quiet Thought

    Love the over-the-neck sword pose. LJK is channeling his inner Toshiro Mifune AND his inner John Wayne!

    • 35.1 redfox

      I wonder if the big action scene also had stuntmen involved or not….

      • 35.1.1 pigsnout

        I don’t think so. LJK always makes it a point to do his own stunts, he trained in martial arts.

        • 35.1.1.1 redfox

          well good. it did look super smooth for I was 99% sure he did it himself. that is like the most awesome thing

          • 35.1.1.1.1 pogo

            It really is the most awesome thing, but I remember worrying that he’d hurt himself badly on Two Weeks because the action was so intense and he did it all himself. Hope he stays safe here too.

  36. 36 Carole McDonnell

    Loving this! So great to hear “Your Majesty!” and “My Lord” again. Thanks for the recap.

  37. 37 Kiara

    Same here :). Been dying to watch a new sageuk for a while.

  38. 38 GlaSS

    If I haven’t watched Princess Man (I know, I’ll watch it), which one do you recommend first?

  39. 39 halom

    Producer of desaster drama The Blade and Petal (KBS2, 2013)
    what to excpect????

    • 39.1 utopious

      But then there is a PD of one of the best sageuks and an amazing cast behind it. They’re more than enough to expect something.

    • 39.2 pogo

      well, that drama at least LOOKED good so maybe that’s what the producer is good for? PD and writer matter far more, and this PD I have faith in.

    • 39.3 alua

      I think the director and the scriptwriter are more decisive factors to consider.

  40. 40 dany

    A very good first episode. Thank you for recapping it.

  41. 41 kanz

    A good start. A solid first episode, awesome Lee Jun Ki and very great cinematography and directing.
    Really excited when I watch this, not disappointed.
    Nam Sang Mi looks older than LJK and she’s not convincingly cross-dress as a man. But beyond that, I think it will be a good sageuk.

    P.S I remember one episode in Gag Concert, King of Ratings skit, they joked that there’s at least one woman cross-dressing in every sageuk now. So true. LOL

  42. 42 Zoey

    I keep getting distracted by that live-and-bowing(?) potato man in the top right corner of the screen…..

    • 42.1 redfox

      it is not a potato, it is a football

  43. 43 pogo

    OPPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At last!

    This is a solid first episode, and it’s gorgeous in every way – from cinematography to cast (oppa!!!). And there are so many obvious parallels to the Princess’ Man apart from the setting and royal plotting:

    1. Hero is kind of a well-meaning aimless flower boy, ok here he’s one partly driven by daddy issues and already good at martial arts (yay oppa!!!)

    2. Rebel heroine who does things that aren’t meant to be done by nice yangban agasshis of her time, and is friends with the much more cold-natured and competent second lead!!!

    4. Hero and heroine meet and he mistakes her identity because she’s in costume (princess’ costume in The Princess’ Man, boy/scholar’s clothes here)

    5. Cold and super-competent-seeming second leading lady (hope she has a better fate than Kyung-hye though)

    6. Hero’s family who are pretty much guaranteed to die – at least dad, if not both – before long *sob* (I really like Yeon-ha, don’t kill them off!! Poor Kim Hyun-soo doesn’t need to die whenever she’s in sageuk mode!)

    Oppa fits the role perfectly, and there’s nothing to beat sageuk Jun-ki, or sageuk action Jun-ki – that sword vs gun fight was awesome. The acting’s good all around too, and the OTP chemistry is good enough. I only have one quibble, which is that Soo-in’s character is written so…..childish? I appreciate that she is plucky, but she behaves like a total ditz, makes you wonder who would think of entrusting Top Secret Books to her to smuggle. A girl like Hye-won would be far more believable on that level, but whatever, she’s the lead and it’s early days yet.

    The ratings are off to a good enough start and I hope they pick up soon – Joseon Gunman fighting! (I want it to be a hit for oppa’s sake, pleeeeease stay good, drama!!)

    • 43.1 cubby

      Maybe, if Yeon-ha gets into some trouble, they can have a quick Do Min-joon cameo where she gets saved.

  44. 44 Pann

    I like all the characters, minus Jung Soo In.

    I really liked the first ep. Can’t wait for the next.

    • 44.1 pogo

      yeah, Soo-in is my quibble too. Hopefully she gets some character development, because there’s ‘naive and sheltered young lady’ and there’s, well, her, i.e. incompetent at almost everything. Please change that soon, show!

  45. 45 Cocoboo

    SO GLAD TO SEE THIS RECAP!! I was hoping/waiting for it. ^____^

    The Princess’s Man is on my to-watch list, but I’m glad I put it off since I don’t want to compare anything to Joseon Gunman yet.

    I didn’t realize that MAO was Lee Junki’s dad in this! The moment I saw the connection, I busted out laughing! <3
    (Really glad I watched TBDAW before this…. =P)

    I simply adore watching Lee Jun Ki act.
    And his little squabbles with Nam Sang Mi is so cute! Her character has some spunk. I like her role already, better than her role in TBDAW.

  46. 46 Noemi

    I’m sooo glad this episode delivered! This definitely feels like The Princess’s Man 2.0, which is wonderful considering how fantastic that drama was. I’m enjoying the characters so far, and I was happily surprised to see Kim Hyun-soo as Yeon-ha (don’t tell me she’ll die again, though!). Soo In does come across as a bit ditzy and bumbling, but I think the very fact that she is a trusted pupil of Hyun Am speaks volumes about her intellect and capabilities–ditziness and intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive, after all. In any case, I am beyond excited for the second episode!

  47. 47 Rovi

    Lee Jun-ki always looks sexy and has the right feel whenever he’s in hanbok.

    Surprised production recruited Lee Min-woo, who if anyone can recall, was in “Princess’s Man” as Jeong Jong, who was the voice of reason between Kim Seung-yoo & Shin Myeon. Now he’s the tragic Gojong.

    Any word on who Daewongun the (former) Prince Regent is? Hoping Kim Yeong-cheol (TPM’s Grand Prince Suyang>Sejo) cameos as him. And also, Empress Myeongseong too. She definitely needs to be here…

    • 47.1 Kiara

      I’m not sure Daewongun will make an appearance which is probably a good thing? Less politics and more romance. Ha Ji Eun is listed as Queen Min so maybe just a cameo appearance?

      • 47.1.1 Rovi

        Thanks for the info (and yeah I saw it on wiki), but please please next time DO NOT ever use the title “Queen Min”, it’s a deregatory name perpetuated by the Japanese.

        • 47.1.1.1 Kiara

          I didn’t mean to disrespect. I just copy paste it because her name is too long, that’s all.

  48. 48 utopious

    I watched episode 2 raw and it’s freaking awesome. I was practically on the edge of my seat every time the gunman appeared. And they gave us a nice cliffhanger that makes those of Two Weeks look mild.

    I also don’t understand the negative comments on NSM. Her character is interesting and much better than many sageuk agasshis who don’t have any function (ok she’s a bit clumsy but she has a curious nature and is in the middle of happenings, so has potential for a strong lady). She seems to have improved since TBDW and I already care about their love story which is cute and fun. Just give her some time please :)

  49. 49 ilikemangos

    Overall, i enjoyed this first episode.

    This is gonna be badass. Please don’t let this juicy plot go to waste. jebal!

  50. 50 Claire

    I love it….totally
    oh, oppa…your drama always the one that I pick first.
    NSM ???
    her bubly act looks that she tried hard to be cutesy
    ah, I just wish it goes to Shin Min Ah…

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