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Secret Door: Episode 4

Ooh, we’re heating up. The good guys start to assemble, and things get really interesting for our hero, who can no longer remain innocent in the face of such blatant corruption. It takes the loss of his own conviction in his best friend to shake our idealistic prince to his core, but he’s lucky to meet a few honest and dogged people who might just become his trusted inner circle. Thank goodness, because if he had to spend one more day huddled in a corner trying not to fall apart from loneliness, I don’t know what I’d do.

 
SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Jin-ho (SG Wannabe) – “사람들” (People) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 4 RECAP

We finally have our first lead in the investigation of Heung-bok’s murder, or at least have uncovered the first witness who isn’t a part of the political cover-up. Heung-bok’s artist colleague Jung-woon awaits interrogation, and Crown Prince Sun arrives to lead the questioning himself.

Sun demands that Jung-woon be untied and given a chair, but his advisor protests that he’s technically their prime suspect if Heung-bok was indeed murdered and didn’t commit suicide. Still, the prince persists that the man is a suspect, not guilty, and has him untied.

Sun gently prods Jung-woon for the truth—what he knows about Heung-bok, his death, and the charge that he was a traitor who slandered the royal house. But Jung-woon just cries, “Kill me, your majesty!” Sun flares up at that, wondering if it’s a confession of murder.

Jung-woon says that’s not it and reaches into his shirt for a stack of letters, shaking like a leaf. Sun hurriedly opens one, and his face contorts as he scans the page filled with slurs against him. He demands to know what this is, and Jung-woon confesses that they’re letters that Heung-bok sent him.

Aw nooo, they got to you too? Jung-woon changes his testimony entirely, saying that Heung-bok cursed the royal house on a daily basis. Only the prince and his eunuch are floored at the accusation, and Sun pleads desperately, “N-no, that isn’t true. You’re not supposed to answer that way. You’re supposed to say that Heung-bok never had traitorous intent, that he never slandered—that he was someone who would never dream of slandering the royal house!”

But Jung-woon sticks to his story, and says that he ran away because he was scared that he’d be punished for not reporting a traitor when he had known about Heung-bok all along. Sun’s face falls, and he grabs letter after letter, poring over their hateful contents as the sky darkens behind him.

Ugh, they’re horrible—the letters paint Heung-bok as a two-faced fraud who only pretended to be friends with the prince because he wanted his power. That’s not what our Heung-bokie was like! Must we stomp on the bromance to the grave, huh?

Sun’s eyes fill with angry hot tears, and he overturns the entire stack of so-called evidence against his friend before stalking off. Jung-woon watches him go, and then his eyes land on the prince’s bodyguard. Oh no, say it ain’t so! In a flashback to last night, Jung-woon is tied up in a shed and screaming for mercy as our mysterious assassin in black holds a sword to his brother’s neck.

He slices off only the topknot, but warns that next time it’ll be the neck… and then he lifts his head up and smiles, and goddammit, it’s the prince’s bodyguard. IS THERE NO ONE GOOD LEFT IN THIS WORLD?

It’s been him all along—the prince’s primary guard, Kang Pil-jae—who’s been taking his orders directly from Prime Minister Kim. He’s the one who killed Heung-bok, and last night he made sure that Jung-woon would produce this false testimony.

King Yeongjo and Prime Minister Kim declare the current crisis averted and return to business as usual, though the status quo between them is always tenuous at best. Meanwhile, the prince’s teacher Park Mun-su runs up to Jung-woon on his way out of the palace, to ask why he’d tell those lies. But he’s too late, and Jung-woon has already been scared into silence.

The prince’s advisor Chae Je-gong is either insensitive or is trying to teach Sun a lesson, because he continually presents Heung-bok’s slanderous letters one by one, pointing out that they date as far back as two years ago. There’s even a will, which seals it as a suicide.

Sun repeatedly asks him to stop and leave him be, but Chae presses for his royal signature on the final verdict for the case. Mrmph, the way Sun’s voice squeaks and trembles as he pleads again for him to go away just breaks my heart.

Chae says that it was the prince himself who declared that conviction is the source of false judgment, and says that his conviction in Heung-bok’s friendship blinded him to the truth. For what it’s worth, Chae seems like he’s trying to protect the prince and teach him, though at this point it’d be a miracle if anyone by Sun’s side wasn’t secretly evil.

He’s worried that if Sun is seen as being lenient with a traitor, it’ll threaten his status as the crown prince. But Sun asks tearfully, “Status? What is it that you think I’ve lost? Does it not occur to you that I might have lost something greater than my status?”

Sun leaves Chae speechless and rides away on his horse, thinking back to his days as a tiny boy, running through the palace courtyard hand-in-hand with little Heung-bok. That’s how they always were, even up to just days before, when they were running through the streets trying not to get caught borrowing illegal books.

He remembers asking Heung-bok about his aspirations, which were humble and earnest. But now everything feels like a cruel lie, and Sun takes out Heung-bok’s last letter to him and crumples it up. No, don’t do it!

He laughs bitterly through his tears and throws the letter into a lake, and sits there like a statue until nightfall.

When he returns to the palace late that night, the king is waiting for him. Yeongjo is uncharacteristically lenient at his son’s show of angst, though he reminds him that once is enough for this kind of behavior.

Yeongjo: “There is one luxury that is not permitted to those destined to be king: having friends.” Gah, is there anything sadder? He adds, “No matter how deathly lonely you feel, you can never open your heart.” As he leaves, he warns his son never to trust a single soul, and Sun sheds a tear.

He spends the night huddled in a corner, gazing up at his throne, and looking more alone than he ever has before.

In the morning, he kneels before his father, in the presence of the court ministers. He’s presented with the royal decree of Heung-bok’s guilt as a traitor, and this time he takes up the brush to sign it and stamp it with the royal seal.

In no time, Heung-bok’s sister and sick mother get dragged away as slaves, and our young mystery novelist and truth-seeker Ji-dam watches in shock. Her gisaeng friend Woon-shim decides to burn the prince’s note (requesting a meeting with Ji-dam) now that the case is over, but Ji-dam arrives just in time to intercept it.

She can’t believe that Woon-shim would hide something like this from her, and argues that it’s far from over because Heung-bok’s family is being hauled away unjustly as they speak. Perennial story-spinner that she is, Ji-dam says they need a twist, and asks Woon-shim to imagine if The Story of Chun-hyang had ended with a knife to her throat.

Woon-shim points out that real life is not fiction, but Ji-dam says that it’s because it’s real life that they need a twist more desperately than the characters in books do. She decides that it’s too pathetic to give up without even trying, and says they’ll make their own twist then.

Three days later, it looks like Ji-dam gets her wish: Woon-shim signals a group of men as they carry a giant chest into the palace, with Ji-dam inside. (Are they intentionally putting people in chests to make us shudder? ‘Cause, thanks Show—it worked.)

Sun spends the evening sword-fighting, which his teachers worry is becoming a nightly activity. It’s not so much training as it is the attack of an angry bull, and Sun demands that they ditch the wooden sticks to fight with real swords.

Ji-dam waits until nightfall to come out of her hiding place, but runs into a hiccup when the only clothes she can find in the laundry room are royal robes. So she sneaks around the palace dressed in Princess Hyegyeong’s clothes, which makes it extra horrifying when she runs right into the princess. Ack.

Hyegyeong demands to know who she is and what she’s doing in those clothes, and the only thing Ji-dam can do is run. We’ve seen her outrun police officers, so it doesn’t take much effort for her to lose a few ladies-in-waiting, though the problem is that they lose her as she’s nearing the prince’s palace.

Hyegyeong storms inside intent on finding her, and when the prince’s eunuch and court lady stop her from going into a room, she gets fired up thinking that her husband is hiding the girl. She ignores their protests and flings the doors open… to find Sun bathing. Whoops. (Also, rawr. How much do I love that army abs are a sacred thing in dramaland?)

She can’t hide her embarrassment, but he hardly blinks, and just coolly asks her to either join him or close the door. She opts to close the door. (Clearly, she’s not in her right mind.)

The servants eye each other nervously, but once she’s gone, Sun just casually steps out of the bath and takes his sweet time putting on his robe. We see that Ji-dam is in that room after all—hidden behind the screen.

He says that she would’ve faced death had she been caught: “This is a place filled with stringent laws and cold-hearted people—that’s the kind of perilous place the palace is.” But then he softens to ask what it is that she wanted to give him that made her face such risk.

She comes out from behind the screen and says, “The truth.” She hands him Heung-bok’s booklending tag, which she discovered at the scene of his murder. He turns it around and finds that it’s really Heung-bok’s—a flashback shows us that it was Sun who changed the character on his tag to read “painter,” insisting that the writing-to-painting pun was very clever. That explains why Heung-bok repeated the pun on the book he altered for the prince.

Sun sighs gratefully to realize that Heung-bok did pick up the book that night, and says that he would’ve—he was someone who did whatever he promised. Once alone in his room, Sun falls to his knees and cries for his friend.

Lady Hyegyeong is still fuming mad, but it’s even more confusing when her court lady returns with the robes that Ji-dam borrowed, left as they were in the laundry room. She wonders how a girl escaped without a trace if she didn’t receive help.

Ji-dam is still with the prince, and after she tells him everything she knows, he changes into plain clothes and walks her toward the palace wall. He starts to tell her that it’s dangerous to use doors in and out of this place, but before he can even finish the sentence, she’s hopped the wall already. He grins and jumps up to follow.

They head to the artist dormitory to confront Jung-woon about his false testimony (which Ji-dam knows was motivated by his fear that he might be next to die). But they open the door to find him propped up against the wall, covered in blood.

He’s already dead, and they find a suicide note that makes it seem like he couldn’t live with the guilt of having known about Heung-bok’s traitorous intentions. But Sun discovers a dying message that Jung-woon left in his own blood. They don’t know what it means, but they write it down, and Sun wonders if it’s a message meant to indicate the murder weapon.

Ji-dam picks up the knife that’s lying on the floor, and her voice starts to shake, “I know the owner of this knife.”

Next thing we know, Sun is tearing through a compound and beating up everyone in his path. Ji-dam trails after him, and asks a henchman for the boss—ruh-roh, “Boss” is what she calls Chul-joo.

Sure enough, Sun fights his way through the lackeys to get to Chul-joo, who confirms that he’s the boss of this gang. Without a word, Sun just leaps up to attack, and Chul-joo handily defends himself without much effort.

He thinks it’s rather rude to be attacking people without explaining why, but Sun is just seeing red and screams, “Why did you kill Heung-bok?!” He accuses Chul-joo of killing Heung-bok and then killing Jung-woon to cover up the first murder, and Chul-joo doesn’t even raise his voice to say that he did no such thing.

Ji-dam finally catches up to the boys and asks Chul-joo about the bloody knife then—the one bearing his gang’s markings, found next to the body. He finally realizes what the ruckus is about, and they sit down for a chat.

Chul-joo presents one of his men, the knife’s original owner who recently lost his weapon and then sliced off his own ear as self-inflicted punishment. Yikes. Ji-dam guesses that someone planted the weapon at the crime scene to implicate his gang, and asks who would do that. Chul-joo says there are too many reasons to count, and that since the gang’s north-south-east-west split, this sort of thing is rather common.

They ask if he knows of a knife called hwabutado (the dying message left by Jung-woon), but he doesn’t know. Sun takes the murder weapon and heads back out, and Chul-joo blocks Ji-dam’s path to insist on some answers now—who is that man, and how close could he possibly have been to Heung-bok that he’s wreaking such havoc in the middle of the night? Ji-dam: “Well, you see…”

Chul-joo comes out with hands folded and head bowed, and apologizes to the prince for not recognizing him. Sun says he should be the one to apologize for busting in here, but Chul-joo puts him at ease and adds that if he had lost one of his precious men, he’d already have shed blood over it.

Sun is surprised at how much Chul-joo knows, but he says it’s obvious from the strength behind his punches—he’s lost someone dear. Chul-joo asks if he wants to visit Heung-bok’s grave, which is a surprise. It turns out that he buried Heung-bok at Ji-dam’s persistent request, and Sun wonders how to thank him.

Chul-joo hands him a bottle and says that the memorial wine hasn’t been poured yet, so Sun pours the wine over the stones and cries silently.

Back at the palace, King Yeongjo is looking through the prince’s old drawings. He finds a portrait of Heung-bok and remembers exactly when Sun drew it. It was after the time he threatened to abdicate in the dead of winter, when Sun had spent days in the courtyard, covered in snow.

He had returned to his room in the aftermath, still half-frozen, and sat down to draw a portrait of Heung-bok. Yeongjo remembers the curious smile on his face, as if it was a source of comfort—to know that no matter what happened, it was all okay because he had one friend in the world.

Yeongjo wonders what would’ve happened if Sun had been born the son of a painter, and says with a sigh that he would’ve been taught by his father to paint whatever he liked and enjoy life. He adds soberly, “But a king teaches his son to throw his friends away.”

He looks back at the throne the same way Sun did, and breaks into a conflicted, bitter laugh at the role he plays because of his position.

Sun and Ji-dam return the knife to the crime scene and erase Jung-woon’s dying message, so that the killer will assume everything went according to plan. Ji-dam offers to go testify to what she knows, but this time Sun stops her, knowing that it’ll only make her the next target.

He says he learned this much through the first two investigations into Heung-bok’s murder—that if they reveal what they know, they’re just buying the bad guys more time to stay a step ahead. He says that this time, they’ll move in secret. That’s what I like to hear. Yay for the good guys learning a trick or two.

The Noron inner circle convenes to make sure that this second killing went off without a hitch, and the prince’s bodyguard swears that he made no mistakes this time. The other ministers think it unnecessary to hunt down Ji-dam, chuckling to themselves: “What damage could one girl do?” I can’t wait till she crushes you all. But Prime Minister Kim doesn’t underestimate the damage one loose end could do, and orders her found.

Ji-dam takes Sun to her secret writing room, where it kind of looks like she keeps a creepy serial killer wall. But upon closer examination, he finds that it’s research for characters, including the hero of the mystery novel he likes so much.

He turns to her slowly, “It couldn’t be… you’re Bingae?” She just smiles and produces his fan letter asking to meet, and says that she was so curious to meet the person who identified the killer before Part 2 was even out, that she went to the book delivery that night herself.

Sun realizes that’s how she saw Heung-bok’s final moments. She asks if the book was recovered at the crime scene, and he says it’s missing, along with his sketchbook/diary. He asks her to go over everything she knows in detail, but she’s way ahead of him, and presents him with a book detailing what she knows of the case so far. I really like the way she keeps surprising him, and the funny look on his face when she does.

He reads through her account, which includes the name of Officer Min, the policeman who took her statement. She’s convinced that the police are in on the cover-up, and now Sun’s suspicion radar pings on Teacher Park Mun-su, who suggested Police Captain Hong to lead the investigation, claiming that he was trustworthy. He runs out, promising to return later.

Park Mun-su has another visitor that night—it’s Chul-joo, who’s come to ask questions about Heung-bok, despite Park’s insistence that he isn’t supposed to show up here or even know who Heung-bok is.

We go back to the night of Heung-bok’s death, when Park Mun-su arrives after Ji-dam runs off to find the police. He picks up the sack of books on the bridge and then climbs down to where the body is, joined by Chul-joo. OH, Chul-joo is the one who moves the body from the river all the way to the well, on Park Mun-su’s order. They drop him in and close the well shut. I guess Park wasn’t lying about that part.

Chul-joo starts to tell Park about the prince coming to see him, but just then, Sun knocks on his teacher’s door and storms in. Chul-joo hides out of sight, and Sun gets right to the point, asking what Park Mun-su’s motives were for nominating Police Captain Hong or being involved in the investigation.

Park doesn’t seem interested in defending himself, but it’s Sun who says that his teacher isn’t the type of person to be involved in a treacherous plot like this. He pleads for an explanation, and the truth—what is it that Heung-bok discovered that he had to die for?

His teacher asks if he can handle the truth. Sun: “I am the crown prince of Joseon. I cannot be silent in the unjust death of one of my people—the moment I am silent, I lose the right to be the crown prince, and the right to become their 22nd king!” I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I read pride in his teacher’s eyes.

He still doesn’t tell Sun the truth though, and just says in his Yoda-esque way that the truth is something he must seek himself. He warns Sun not to trust anyone in this endeavor, not even the teacher sitting in front of him now.

It’s morning by the time Park Mun-su watches the prince walk away with heavy shoulders, and Chul-joo comes out to ask why he didn’t tell Sun the truth, and threatens to do it for him. Park erupts in frustration, insisting that HE’s the one who wants the truth revealed more than anybody—that’s why he had the body moved, despite knowing it was wrong to do so.

He was hoping to learn something of the enemy with that maneuver, but it was a fruitless turn, and he only lost Jung-woon in the process. He tells Chul-joo that this is no mere murder case, but something that could shake the royal house. He asks for time to think of his next move.

But Chul-joo tells him about his gang’s knife being planted at Jung-woon’s crime scene, and points out that if he’s not just a scapegoat, then someone is doing this because they know about his relationship to Park Mun-su, in which case they’re the ones who have to act first.

Jung-woon’s body is found by morning, and the police rule it a clear suicide, and his body is carried away as his family wails. Park Mun-su watches from a distance, tears pooling in his own eyes, as he bows solemnly.

Ji-dam and her father tend to the heartbroken gisaeng who loved Jung-woon, and bring her medicine. Ji-dam says all she could do is cover her with a blanket, and begins to cry as she asks, “Father, what are people? What does it mean to live like a person?” She thinks that there must be something more she could do for a friend who lost the man she loves, but can’t figure out what.

Sun tells his trusted advisor Chae Je-gong that Jung-woon was murdered and that they’re going to reinvestigate both cases secretly, and Chae seems genuinely shocked that someone would dare to go up against the prince so boldly. Sun knows that it’s at least someone with enough power to control the captain of the police force, but naturally neither of them would guess in a million years that it could be his father.

Prime Minister Kim comes to see Yeongjo to pronounce the case closed—no one will ever speak of their secret document again. Yeongjo thanks him sarcastically, and Prime Minister Kim doesn’t waste a moment to make a demand on behalf of Police Captain Hong.

In no time, the king calls Sun to a meeting with Captain Hong, who plays the part of the contrite servant, here to offer his resignation now that the special investigation is done. Yeongjo tells Sun that they ought to promote him instead, and tells him to go ahead and make Hong the Minister of War.

Sun’s eyes widen, and his father just presses him congenially to pour Hong a drink, and Sun tries not to let his blood boil over. But all he can think about is the string of lies that Captain Hong said right to his face.

His father hands him the bottle of wine, and Sun takes it obediently. But then he throws the jug and overturns the table in a fit of raaaage, and steps on Hong’s throat as he screams, “DIE!”

Sun cries at the top of his lungs that he will take Hong’s life for crushing the powerless people, and Yeongjo watches this unfold with a laugh… that turns into a frightening rage. He shakes with anger as he rises slowly, and says, “You would dare… I’m going to kill you!” Oh. Shit.

 
COMMENTS

I was not expecting that kind of father-son confrontation so early in the game. It’s terrifying (in a good way, since historically they are known to be this unhinged and then some), and I love the tension it adds to all of the smaller conflicts, because at the end of the day, theirs is the relationship everything will come down to. It’s just an added layer to see their motivations leading up to each combustible encounter, because it drives the actors’ portrayals too.

Lee Je-hoon plays Sun’s fury as pure as the driven snow—it’s no less scary just because he’s one of the good guys, since I actually think he might snap someone’s neck if pushed too far. It’s topped only by Han Seok-kyu’s three-emotions-at-a-time unknowable reactions to everything, which always leaves me feeling unsettled. His laughter-sadness-rage combo at the end was pretty damn scary, but so was his moment of reflection about how nice his son’s life would’ve been, had he been born the son of a painter. It’s the self-awareness that makes the terrifying rage so surprising, because he seems like he’s fully in control and even sorry… but then if Sun defies him, there is no reasoning with the man.

This was my favorite episode so far, because we already get to see so much change in Sun over the course of one episode. He goes from political patsy to heartbroken friend; he hits rock bottom and gives up hope that his friendship with Heung-bok was real; he has his Godfather moment of signing the royal decree and caving to the very political pressure he thought he’d rise above; and then he meets Ji-dam and lets himself hope again. It’s great how much she influences him in one day, and already he seems like he’s recovered a part of his old self before losing Heung-bok.

Of course I’ll always think that it was cruel to kill off Heung-bok so early, but getting this much development this early on for our hero makes the pain worth it. The drama gains a lot of mileage from casting Seo Joon-young in the role, because they can sort of piggyback on the meta baggage—when Yeongjo basically says that Heung-bok is the very embodiment of all that is good in the world to Sun, I totally believe him, and my heart is already there, going, Of course he is! They belong together! And it’s driven home by the extension that the death of Heung-bok means the death of Sun’s innocence. As a young prince he could have one friend in the world; as a future king, a friend is considered a luxury outside his station in life. Could there be anything worse than being born into a royal family?

Despite that, I have hope that Ji-dam and Chul-joo will become true friends to Sun. Their dynamic is adorable, especially because the smartypants mystery writer kind of seems like the boss when she’s with the boys, and the hothead prince and the gangster with a heart of gold are pretty cute together too (I sort of wish Chul-joo spent more time not knowing Sun’s true identity, just to get them being insolent to each other a little longer). Ji-dam does have her head in the clouds, but I like her because she’s brave and goes toe-to-toe with the boys. Chul-joo is more intriguing the more we see of him—I know he didn’t order the ear-cutting, but he’s gotta be one scary mofo if his men voluntarily chop off extremities when they make mistakes. This episode made me excited for what’s to come, because I can see myself really rooting for this ragtag gang of mystery-solvers, not only to uncover the truth, but to seek solace in each other and to try to make a better world.

 
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Woahhhhh..reading girlfirday comments always make my day...
Even after watch the ep my self, always come here and read every comments made here...

This is the best episode so far.. And hope the next ep will be better and better...

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I'm so ecstatic that you are recapping this show! Thank you! I'm having a ridiculously difficult time finding anything on it, let alone English subtitiles. It is one of the few shows right now that I have every desire to watch. If it weren't for your hard work I would be adrift without knowledge.

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Use asiantorrents

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It's also on Hulu Plus and Dramafever if you have access to those.

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Seeing the crown prince now, and liking him so much in the first episodes, I know I'll cry a river when "that" happens~ it will be awful!!!

Nooo please writter-nim change that....

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ARMY ABS.

Princely abs are my new favorite thing, because of how slooooowly he moves to cover up. It's regal deliberation! It's a royalty thing!

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Also a hot thing.

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What?! Army abs in a sageuk? I was just thinking of LJH and army abs while watching episode 2, and how it sadly wasn't going to happen in this drama, but it did!

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I'm a straight dude but goddamn he has nice abs

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Don't forget the shoulders. They are equally important as they bare the weight of the world and the pain, oh, the pain.

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At first I was thinking that Secret Door would twist Prince Sado's story by having a switch in the end where Heung-bok would pretend to be Prince Sado and die for his bestie because it's the only thing they could do to free and save Sado from all the bad Noron people. Though Sun would be free to live in anonymity with Jidam, he'd still be wracked with guilt and sadness over how he allowed his best friend to take his place. Much like the Miryung switcheroo in Three Musketeers.

But alas, they killed Heung-bok off so now I'm back to guessing again how they would present that twist. I can kindda see how they could explain Jeongjo's reason for killing his son in the end with Sun displaying rage this early in the series. If his rage over the unfairness of the world can grow exponentially, I definitely can see him just killing his enemies just to be done with it.

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I don't think you need Heung-bok for the switcheroo, if the writer wants it that way. Heck, the king can probably put a scarecrow in and dare anyone to notice something strange. But I think this ends in tragedy, because the show pretends to be serious stuff. Although they are twisting history to the point of basically recreating a whole new story (after all, the prince was a madman and a mass murderer who even threatened to kill his own mother and sister), they seem to be following the big points without altering, so it wouldn't make sense to present the king to be the caring dad incapable of killing his son in the end. I think the show so far set it up so that the king is sympathetic to the prince, but the moment he becomes an "enemy", he will show no mercy.

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I too think this will end in tragedy. This episode certainly pulled at the heartstrings with the few father and son tender moments. The son is his son after all but we know enough in history where in some cases, family doesn't matter. Humanity is out the window where money and power are rewards. It is saddening. But happening everyday.

Ji Dam is the pure innocent soul here but I like her nonetheless. It gives a stark contrast to what the world will be like with people like her around. The King (creeping me out yet again) and Ji Dam seem to be Sado's pulling strings to where he will go in the end.

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excellent acting , great drama ., I really like young main lead actress , pretty , talented , cute naturally not by acting as several K .actresses , I hope she would not go for cosmetic
interventions which make most of K actresses look ridiculous .

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javabeans and girlfriday, thank you SO MUCH for recapping this series. So far everything in this production has been AWESOME, and the plot just gets more and more intense-- I'm surprised that it's getting so little attention (it seems) across the board. I mean... seriously, the production/story quality of Secret Door is one of the best among the currently airing dramas. I'm really happy that reputed quality-recappers like you are appreciating this piece. Hopefully the quality will remain consistent (if not even better), garner more attention, and receive the love that it (currently) deserves~

The bodyguard being a turncloak was not so shocking considering how EVERYONE in this drama seems to have something hidden, but the degree to which he's involved seriously shocked me. And haha I was chuckling when I noticed the camera avoiding the assassin's face last ep when Minister Kim ordered him to get to Jungwoon first-- to think that my hunch was more accurate than I thought!! Dangit this show keeps me on my toes.

By the time it was revealed that Chuljoo's involvement was revealed I was like "of course =__= " though thankfully he still seems like a decent person. I'm kind of glad that the production didn't try to hype up THAT reveal too much (it came quite naturally) or else it'd make me roll my eyes

Yeongjo's reflection when looking at Sun's paintings was definitely a highlight in this episode-- of course they have to rip our hearts out like that T-T

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Think I will start this drama due to your comment. Well, I read the first portion of it. Reading around, hoping to avoid spoilers, while getting an idea about how it is doing. I'm in a 2014 kdrama drought. Hope this one will be the one to break it.

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Yes, I am loving the subtle performances of Han Sukkyu and Lee Jehoon. Like others here, this is my favorite episode so far. So this show will be 24 episodes long? I often worry that shows do not have enough plot to fill all of their episodes, but I will be hopeful in this case.

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Thanks for the recap!

Now that i've accepted that it's not a biopic, I'm getting into this. (I tried to explain to hubby how Korean drama treats its kings, princes, and queens...and how interesting it is to see historical characters being played with.)

Been reading up on Sado and saw somewhere that he had some kind of episode with a well. So when the well popped up i thought, "AH!" A part of me wanted to see Sado be a bit more evil and insane by now (whatever age he is in the drama) but I'll take what darkness i can get when it comes.

Not feeling the writer/librarian/co-investigator. She is such a symbol of purity and life and truth that i kinda balk at accepting her as a real character. Oh well, i shall survive.

I had a very confusing moment there where I looked up and saw an actor and for a moment could only think, "Oh, good heavens! So many sajeuk characters so little sajeuk character actors!" Mercifully evil old scheming Big Bad is evil and scheming in this one as well. But after a while eeesh my mind has to realign itself and remember who all is who...and on what side.

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I've also been listening to and reading some things about the historical Sado, but what "episode with a well" are you referring to?

The craziness of his supposed character would make for a good drama. I know that people believe that his wife's memoirs lend credence to the accusations against him, but I can't help but look at his supposed actions with reservation. I am not one to readily accept the generally accepted history of any nation. I always look at alternative accounts. Could he have had some mental illness? Yes. Could he have been the victim of a conspiracy? why not? Could the real story be somewhere in the middle? Of course! After all, he may have already had some metal illness that was exacerbated by the pressures he was experiencing from different sources, namely his father, the king. I would like to get my hands on those memoirs, though. Many people on this thread have said that the princess presented a balanced view of both father and son. This could point to the veracity of the accounts, but one has to ascertain why she was writing these memoirs. I could go on, but I think my point has been made :).

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I think the same way about history but i suspect if she had lied there might have been people to challenge her account. So even if she wrote for some self-serving reason, there would always be people who could challenge if an incident happened or not. The cause of the incident would be problematical but the incident itself would have been known to most people still living. And to tell of the same incident over and over one would have to be careful. All liars must have good memories, especially if they're committing a lie to paper/parchment.

I suspect he was mentally unstable. With such a background and upbringing, he would have to be. But as as been said by a great christian apologist (he was defending the idea of the resurrection) the Grand Canyon was not formed by an Indian dragging a stick. So there is no smoke without fire so there must have been some cruelty on his part.

Some cruel thing must've happened of which he was somewhat guilty.

The memoirs are on sale on amazon. Some are cheap..some incredibly expensive. I put one of the cheap ones on my amazon list.

http://madmonarchs.guusbeltman.nl/madmonarchs/sado/sado_bio.htm

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Yes about the smoke comment, lol! I guess I would have to read the memoirs to formulate my own thoughts. My comments above were my thoughts in general and not on her work specifically. This is so interesting. But could you tell me specifically about the well-reference you made above (not what happened in the drama, but according to the historical accounts)? Thanks :).

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Oh, and I've seen that link before when I was reading up on Sado :).

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Funny thing though is that my attitude toward Sado is kinda based on all the true-crime stuff I'm so addicted to. Sado's childhood is pretty typical of most serial killers so with a childhood like that anyone would profile him as a future serial killer. But folks back in the day weren't serial killer profilers although they did have normal human common sense...so when they say a person was going about murdering folks to relieve stress or raping women and include the weird childhood, everything in me that understands serial killers kinda goes "uhmmmmmmmm"

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Supposedly he jumped into a well once. I've seen other historial dramas/sajeuks where some part of the character's life is used in the drama in a subtle or fun way... just as an echo. In the same way, the film makers make Bingae a free-spirited writer, although in real life she was a seamstress. The creativity/artiste part still is assigned to her. In the link I posted, it was Sado who jumped into the well. In this, his friend is thrown into the well. So the echo is there along with the motif of boxes, holes, and people being thrown into stuff.

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I agree that the recorded events of this particular history make for thought-provoking conversation. I am interested in seeing how this drama continues to make nods or "echoes," as you termed it, to that history. If we are to believe in those events, I can see how his childhood would have created long-lasting effects on his character as a young man and as an adult.

I believe that we are given glimpses of Sado's violence and potential violence. He is quick to feel rage (and in the context of the drama, who could really blame him?) and to act upon his feelings. I believe this characterization will be important to the later plot developments.

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Finally got to catch up with this drama! OMG. I can't explain my feels. Next week would be crazy! Han Suk Kyu forever giving me goosebumps. I mean, damn, he's creepy then he becomes a caring father in the next scene. What the? I like the transitions they're doing with Sun. I haven't read on the history yet but it seems like he does have a bad temper. Seeing him walk through the gates of Chul Joo's house and randomly hitting people? He is nice and all but he's obviously capable of killing if pushed. That last scene was also scary with him screaming DIEEEE to the police guy.

Ah, can't wait for next week. Thanks javabeans and girlfriday for recapping this! Hoping for abs again next week. Is it too much to ask?

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Actually I like it better when Sado is not all nice and innocent. Presented him in a little bit of dark side is better because the drama has to show somehow how the father-son relationship will be broken and Sado is known as madman.

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Intense episode!
Thanks Javabeans and Girlfriday!
Thanks Show for giving mandatory post-army shower! My mind goes blank when looking at his abs. *drools*

Han Seok Kyu for Daesang!

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Even though I generally like LHJ, after The-show-that-shall-not-be-named, I wasn't expecting too much here. I have to say I am incredibly and pleasantly surprised at how good this series is so far. (I do worry about how they'll make it through the whole thing without dragging but so far, so great!)

As an aside, after ep 3 - while waiting for ep 4 - I went back and watched episode 1 again. Somehow that scene with Sun in Heong-bok's clothing and Heong-bok in the prince's hit me like a ton of bricks the second time around. LHJ's way of portraying Sun's adoration of (and need for) Heong-bok is truly impressive.

I don't tend to be a huge saeguk fan - I can usually take it or leave it - but Secret Door has pretty much bumped everything else from my radar.

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I just finished ep 1 and I am so excited. I haven't been this hopeful about a recent drama since last year when I watched Heartless City. I do wish that it can keep it up. 24 episodes is a lot to fill. But if they can do it, it will definitely be one I can recommend. At the very least, it is still a high quality drama with high production values. Thanks for recapping, or else I would've let this one pass me by.

ahh...I also picked up The Thee Musketeers...which I enjoyed. But this is one that captured my full attention.

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I don't trust the adviser, Chae Je Gong and the prince shouldn't either. A lot of secretly shady people. It's hard to tell.
I thought Park Mun Su was evil, but this episode helped me think he's still on the neutral side.
He wants the truth revealed, including the whole truth about the secret document? But he doesn't want to be the one that actually reveals it.

I liked that Sun and Ji Dam have finally met and have become like a justice-seeking duo. Excited to see how their secret investigation will unfold. Since this show has tons of murky characters, it's refreshing to see Ji Dam being pure and honest. Glad she is smart too with her record-keeping and analytical skills.

In the ending scene, I felt like Sun's outburst at Hong was part of his imagination. I thought he would keep his cool and keep his inner thoughts secret.

Kim Min Jong is looking so handsome and manly! I've only seen him in Athena, but that was a bad drama. Glad to see him in a better role here.

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Does anyone know how old is Sado in the drama? And the scene where Ji-dam, clad in the princess’ hanbok, is facing Sado, makes me feel like both of them look so good together, even way more than Sado with the princess. I am watching the show not mainly for the romance part but reading girlfriday’s ep 2 recap commenting on Ji-dam’s penname makes me want to ship them together. But wait, Lee Je-hoon is, like, 30 already, and that’s twice the age of the actress who plays Ji-dam? He looks so young!

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I thought of the same thing! The scene got me squealing (also, holy abs) but only until I googled Lee Jehoon and Kim Yoojung's age. 15 years apart – why, Drama?

I wonder if they're supposed to have a loveline? Not that it's a necessity though, because I think I'd still enjoy the dynamic of the pair (plus Chuljoo, hopefully).

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Thanks for recap. Catching up on this show is not easy.

I love what you said about how HSK displays three emotions at once. So apt. The other thing about him is he soooo smooth about his reality and his poor son's - making it all sound like the most natural thing in the world.
Very btw, you don't get any friends and your life sucks.
Then he makes that "if he were a painter's son" speech and you think, wait, so you do know you're nuts, right?

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Thanks for the recaps!

Maybe because the stories are already connected in my head...but I keep thinking of Yi Sun when I read! It has a similar feel.

Are we expecting any romance between the prince and Ji Dam?

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