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Mirror of the Witch: Episode 4

There are two battles to fight today: one against time, and the other against black witch Hong-joo, who’s on the hunt. The hero and heroine’s stories unfold separately for a large part of the episode, with one trying to understand herself and the other wrestling with decisions that affect his loved ones, but both struggle with the same question throughout — whether or not it’s possible to escape the life you’re born into, and to change your destiny.

 

 
EPISODE 4 RECAP

We rewind back to Heo Jun and Yeon-hee at the palace, hiding out in the rain. Yeon-hee hallucinates Poong-yeon’s face in place of Jun’s and loses consciousness; just then, Poong-yeon arrives.

The three wait out the storm beneath a doorway, with Poong-yeon carrying the still-unconscious Yeon-hee on his back. Poong-yeon seems annoyed at Jun’s clucking over Yeon-hee’s state, just giving Jun a look up and down.

Jun realizes that he’s still in drag and laughs it off, telling Poong-yeon not to misunderstand: These clothes are his “work” clothes, of sorts. Ha.

Poong-yeon cuts off Jun’s rambling and asks if he knows his little sister. Jun hesitates, then says no. Poong-yeon thanks Jun for his help and says he’ll take it from here. Jun watches them go with a flabbergasted look on his face.

Jun returns home, wondering how Poong-yeon and Yeon-hee could be related. He lets himself worry about Yeon-hee for just a second before deciding he has more important things to worry about.

As if on cue, Jun sees his mother across the way suddenly being taken by two masked men. Horrified, he runs after them, then sees the men putting a big sack over his mother. He starts to calls out to her, but is hit on the head from behind, then carried away.

Back at Yeon-hee’s house, we revisit the scenes of the screeching black shadow attacking Yeon-hee and turning her hair white. Cut to a similar scene at the palace, where Yeon-hee’s twin brother Prince Sunhoe is under the same attack, his hair white as well. Then, we’re back to Poong-yeon who collapses after returning home, coughing up blood. Hyun-seo checks the back of Poong-yeon’s ear, and sure enough, the curse has now made its mark on him.

Hyun-seo rushes to Yeon-hee’s and finds her limp on the floor. She looks disoriented as she opens her eyes, and all he can do is scold her for not listening to his warnings. Yeon-hee’s confused and frightened, unsure as to what’s going on with her, and she asks him to save her.

At the palace, Prince Sunhoe remains unconscious while the queen dowager barks at Hong-joo, demanding answers as to what’s happening. The queen is beside herself, grabbing Hong-joo by her shirt and screaming at her to save the prince. She continues to wail, and it becomes too much for her: She faints and collapses onto the prince.

In the midst of the commotion, Hong-joo remains still, her expression unchanged. Her eyes at once hard and fiery, she utters three words: “Choi Hyun-seo.”

Jun wakes up somewhere in the woods and quickly staggers up to catch a glimpse of his mother wrapped up in the sack. He’s held back from rushing to his mother by several men, and then he sees Heo Ok’s mother, Lady Sohn, step out of the shadow.

She tells Jun that she thought he was a smart boy, but she’s displeased that he doesn’t know his place — she intends to show him tonight where he stands. Panicked, Jun pleads with her to stop whatever she’s got planned. But she’s unmoved, and gives the order to begin.

Still in the sack, Jun’s mother is beaten to a pulp in front of Jun’s eyes. Jun screams and calls out to his mother repeatedly, but he continues to be held back. Lady Sohn watches the proceedings with a smirk on her face.

As blood seeps onto the sack, Jun grows increasingly desperate. On the ground now, he crawls over to Lady Sohn to beg for forgiveness, and for his mother’s life, sobbing hysterically.

Lady Sohn raises a hand to stop the beating. Looking right at Jun’s trembling, tear-streaked face, she tells him she’s heard about his plans to buy his mother out of slavery.

She goes on to say that in life, there’s one thing people are wrong about — the belief that if you just work hard enough, you can work your way out of your circumstances. But no matter how much you work, you can’t escape who your parents are.

She tells Jun that he should not have been born — that would have been what’s best for both him and his mother. She warns him that he shouldn’t try to escape his lot in life, and he shouldn’t try to fight against it. He should live as if he was a dead man; that’s the only way he and his mother can live.

Jun nods furiously, his head bowed. Lady Sohn smiles in victory and turns away, finally allowing Jun to approach his mother.

Jun opens up the sack, only to find that it’s not his mother inside after all — instead he finds a bloody pig’s head. In shock, he turns around to face Lady Sohn, who leaves him with one final warning: “If you didn’t understand my words today, your mom will be in the sack next time.”

Jun rushes home, desperate to see his mother, and finds her outside hanging up laundry. He wordlessly steps in to help, fighting back tears as he notices the bruises and scrapes on her hands and face. After a few quiet moments, Jun says to his mother: “Let’s leave this house.”

Poong-yeon lays in his room in bad shape; he can’t even take a spoonful of medicine without coughing up worrisome amounts of blood. As his mother frets over him, Poong-yeon calls out to her and starts to open his eyes. He looks over at his mother, but his eyes focus instead on a terrifying ghost just next to her.

He immediately freaks out, screaming “Ghost!” while his mother tries to calm him. She can’t see the ghost, but we certainly can, and the gruesome figure reaches for Poong-yeon as he screams.

Yeon-hee awakens in her room. She gets up and reaches for her mirror, but it goes crashing into the wall. She starts to hear the screeching of spirits, and with head in her hands, she screams — and this causes all her furniture to fall over. Young Taoist master Yo-gwang bursts into her room to see if Yeon-hee is okay; Yeon-hee just looks at her hands and faints.

The Taoist masters tell Hyun-seo that Yeon-hee’s newfound powers (from the activation of the curse?) can’t be controlled just yet — whenever she releases energy, she loses consciousness.

They argue among themselves about what to do next — they’re almost out of time, as the spell on the Black Forest is beginning to break. One of the masters says Yeon-hee needs to be moved to Cheongbing Temple as soon as possible, and another says that it’s too dangerous — if Hong-joo finds out, then everything is really over. Hyun-seo seems at a loss for what to do.

Yo-gwang cleans up the mess at Yeon-hee’s while she sits against the wall, head in her hands. He tries to cheer her up, telling her not to worry; everything will go back to normal once she goes to Cheongbing Temple. Yeon-hee’s curious to hear more about the temple, but Yo-gwang just tells her she’ll learn more once she’s there.

Yeon-hee’s convinced that her father now hates her for disobeying him and causing all this trouble. Yo-gwang reassures her that he doesn’t — but he mentions that Hyun-seo must be having a hard time, since Poong-yeon’s been affected, too. Alarmed, Yeon-hee asks Yo-gwang what he means.

Cut to a group shamans performing some kind of healing ceremony for Poong-yeon, with Poong-yeon’s mother bowing down in prayer. We focus on one of the shamans: She sees the ghost that Poong-yeon saw earlier, points her sword at it in horror, then collapses on the ground.

Just outside the walls of Poong-yeon’s house, Yo-gwang and Yeon-hee crouch down to avoid being seen. Yo-gwang knows that it’s dangerous for them to be there, but he can’t say no to Yeon-hee’s pleas to go see Poong-yeon. Yo-gwang says they need to be quick — the talismans they have won’t last much longer.

They sneak into Poong-yeon’s room, and Yeon-hee sinks down next to Poong-yeon, looking devastated.

Poong-yeon slowly opens his eyes and looks directly at Yeon-hee, but all he sees is that same ghost. He starts crying and pleading at her to go away and to never come back, saying he wants to live.

Yeon-hee doesn’t know that he’s not really seeing her in front of him, and she just looks at him with tears streaming down her face, taking his words to heart.

Just then, Poong-yeon’s mother enters the room. She’s instantly furious, cursing out a bewildered Yeon-hee for daring to set foot in her house.

She’s the first to tell Yeon-hee that she’s cursed, and that everything that’s happened is her fault. It’s the reason why she couldn’t ever love Yeon-hee as her real daughter; it’s the reason why Yeon-hee should have never been born. With desperation in her voice, she begs Yeon-hee to disappear, far away from Poong-yeon.

The door opens again; this time, it’s Choi Hyun-seo and his team. While Yeon-hee gazes up at Hyun-seo with a look of betrayal in her eyes, Hyun-seo avoids eye contact with her, instead ordering Yo-gwang to leave with Yeon-hee.

Yeon-hee looks to be in shock as Yo-gwang leads her out of the house, but then stops short and tells him that she’ll go to Cheongbing Temple. She’ll do whatever they ask of her, if it means they can save Poong-yeon.

Back in Hyun-seo’s house, a servant announces a visitor from the palace. Since they’re running out of time, Hyun-seo tells his team to take Yeon-hee and leave for Cheongbing Temple without him. He’ll follow with the Mauigeumseo.

Hyun-seo then meets with his visitor, who is revealed to be none other than Hong-joo.

With a cold smile on her face, she tells Hyun-seo she’s come to apologize — she underestimated him. It’s her fault, really, for actually believing him 17 years ago when he said he would kill the princess. Her smile fading, she demands to know where the princess is now.

Hyun-seo replies that the princess is dead. She smiles at him, asking if that’s his answer. Hyun-seo doesn’t respond, and she gets up to leave.

As Hong-joo makes her way out of the house, she hears Poong-yeon’s whimpers and stops outside his door to listen in. Hyun-seo catches her and points her towards the exit.

Sensing an opportunity, she leaves Hyun-seo with some parting words: If the princess is really alive, Hyun-seo has defied the orders of the queen dowager and placed the prince’s life in danger, and thus will be punished for those crimes. She adds that those who’ve been afflicted with the princess’ curse will suffer from a terrible illness and die within two weeks.

She pauses, then says that of course, these things won’t come to pass — because there’s no way that the upstanding, patriotic Hyun-seo would ever make a decision that would cause such destruction.

Still in Poong-yeon’s room, Poong-yeon’s mother overhears Hong-joo’s every word, looking horrified. So it comes as no surprise when she follows Hong-joo out of the house and calls out for her to stop. A satisfied smile spreads across Hong-joo’s face.

Heo Jun heads towards a building in the dark of night, looking around nervously to ensure no one sees him. He knocks on a door, then knocks again. An old man eventually opens the door, but tells Jun they’re closed.

Jun stammers that he’s looking to buy boat tickets to Ming. The old man rebuffs him, but Jun pleads, unable to take no for an answer. The man finally tells Jun to return in two hours with 200 nyang.

When Jun returns home, his mother is having second thoughts on their plans — the more she thinks about it, the more dangerous it sounds to try to smuggle themselves out of the country.

Jun stoops down to help her pack the rest of her things, and tells her he’s had to give up a lot while living in this house — pretending to make mistakes or be less intelligent (for Heo Ok’s benefit) — and he doesn’t want to live like that anymore. He takes his mother’s bruised hand and says that starting now, they should live the way they want.

The two quietly sneak out of the house, his mother clinging to Jun’s arm. Behind them, a servant sees them leave.

Jun’s brother Heo Ok is doing his usual thing, drinking and hanging out with his crew of friends and gisaengs. They all admire some fancy jewelry specially imported from abroad, and feeling generous, Ok offers to let everyone pick out a piece each.

Their revelry is interrupted when the servant who saw Jun and his mother leaving comes by, wanting to talk to Ok. As the servant whispers in Ok’s ear — undoubtedly letting him in on the news of Jun’s departure — Ok’s expression changes.

Jun and his mother arrive at a ramshackle building that’s already crowded with others looking to make the same journey. Jun settles his mom in a corner to wait while he procures the boat tickets. Before he leaves though, he takes an extra moment to squeeze her hands and give her a reassuring smile.

Jun finds the old man and presents him with 200 nyang. After handing over the tickets, the man tells Jun that he only ever sells one ticket to each person — everyone who buys a ticket either successfully gets to Ming, becomes fish food on the way, or gets caught.

He says most people are caught, because it’s not easy to get away from those slave hunters. If you get caught, you die a terrible death; if you don’t, you live your life as a fugitive. He tells Jun he could still change his mind. But Jun just says whatever happens, he will get on that boat. In response, the man tells Jun not to be a minute late for the boat, which is set to leave at 1 a.m.

Dressed in all black, Hyun-seo retrieves the Mauigeumseo from a box hidden away in the walls of his house. He thumbs through its pages and rips out a page with a picture of a tree on it, then puts the page back in the box. He returns to box to its original hiding place. (Curiously, a second later, it looks like a different box is put away, but it’s not clear by who. We’ll have to see if it’s an error, or if it actually means something.)

Hyun-seo hides the Mauigeumseo inside his shirt and rushes out of the house when his wife intercepts him, pleading with him not to go. As he turns to face her, and she tells him that it’s all over.

Meanwhile, Hong-joo and her guards trek through the Black Forest, ostensibly on their way to Yeon-hee’s hiding place. Hong-joo stops at the tree with the talisman on it and rips it off, crumpling it in her hands and throwing it to the ground.

Back to Hyun-seo, who is stunned by his wife’s confession: She’s told everything to Hong-joo in hopes that Poong-yeon will be saved. Hyun-seo tries to argue that Hong-joo is the one that must be stopped in order to save Joseon, but his wife couldn’t care less about saving the country — not when Poong-yeon is dying. She says Hong-joo was clear: If Yeon-hee dies, Poong-yeon will live. Hong-joo also promised to cover up everything if Hyun-seo stops interfering. His wife begs Hyun-seo to stop.

Yeon-hee sits while Yo-gwang packs up for their journey to Cheongbing Temple. But as soon as they open the doors to depart, they’re met with arrows from Hong-joo’s guards.

Yo-gwang avoids getting hit by immediately retreating inside with Yeon-hee; they also have some backup from the Taoist masters, who were waiting for them outside. Yo-gwang tells Yeon-hee to wait in the house, then unsheathes the biggest sword EVER and heads outside.

The Taoist masters run out to meet Hong-joo’s rapidly approaching army, and it’s clear that they’re outnumbered. As the two teams face off, Hong-joo calls out the Taoist masters for harboring a cursed child, saying they are unfit to serve the palace — then orders her guards to attack. The fight is on.

Initially, the Taoist masters hold their own against Hong-joo’s guards; Yo-gwang in particular is kicking ass, taking on multiple swordswomen and helping another master avoid trouble.

Alas, this is not to last, as the blind Taoist master takes a hit and falls to the ground. Another master comes to his defense, but gets stabbed.

Yo-gwang watches in horror as the blind master is the next to be killed. The guards take advantage of Yo-gwang’s momentary lapse in focus, knocking his sword out of his hands and capturing his arms and legs with chains.

As Yo-gwang shouts out helplessly, the remaining masters fall prey to Hong-joo’s army. The guards then surround him, swords pointed.

Hong-joo, who’s been watching the bloodshed from afar, makes her way to Yo-gwang. She calls them all fools for dying like this, all because of the girl. She raises her hand as a signal for her guards to attack Yo-gwang, but at that moment, Yeon-hee bursts through the doors. Hong-joo’s eyes widen at the sight of the princess.

Face to face with Hong-joo, Yeon-hee asks her to explain: What does she mean when she says everything is because of Yeon-hee?

With a hint of pity in her eyes, Hong-joo finally clues in Yeon-hee to the details of her curse. She tells Yeon-hee that all of the people she loves will die, and all who love her will die as well. Yeon-hee’s eyes glisten with tears as she looks at Yo-gwang on the ground, coughing and gasping for breath.

Hong-joo brings Yeon-hee close and asks her why she was born at all, when no one wanted her. She tells Yeon-hee that there is a way to stop her misery and sadness, and to save everyone. All Yeon-hee has to do is die.

At this, Hong-joo raises her hand once more. Swords point at Yeon-hee.

Suddenly, we hear Hyun-seo’s voice, shouting at them to stop. He rushes to Yeon-hee, only pausing when he sees his fallen team members. Blocking Yeon-hee with his body, Hyun-seo unsheathes his sword. Hong-joo angrily tells Hyun-seo not to interfere anymore, saying she will no longer forgive his actions.

One of Hong-joo’s guards moves to attack Hyun-seo, but Yo-gwang pulls himself up just in time to throw a knife at the attacker. Picking his sword off the ground, Yo-gwang tells Hyun-seo to run. Hyun-seo and Yeon-hee flee.

Yo-gwang bravely tries to fight off Hong-joo’s army, but it doesn’t take long before he falls to the ground, badly injured. With his last ounce of strength, he grabs Hong-joo’s leg to try to stop her from rushing after Hyun-seo.

She looks down at him, takes a sword from her guard, and delivers the final blow.

Hyun-seo and Yeon-hee run through the rocky terrain, with Hong-joo and her guards trailing closely behind. The guards come to a cliff and look around, having seemingly lost the pair. Hong-joo tells her guards they couldn’t have gotten too far, and the search continues.

Further down the cliff, we see Hyun-seo and Yeon-hee, safely hidden. Hyun-seo turns to Yeon-hee and hands her the Mauigeumseo. His voice urgent, he tells her that once he steps out of the hiding place and catches the eye of the guards, she must run straight ahead without looking back.

Yeon-hee protests, saying she’d rather just die. But Hyun-seo grabs her and tells her that she must live, head to Cheongbing Temple, and break the curse. That’s the only way everyone will live.

Taking a softer tone, Hyun-seo apologizes, then wishes her a happy birthday. With that, he’s off.

The guards spot him in no time and a chase ensues. He runs through the woods as fast as he can as the guards attack from afar, shooting arrows and throwing knives. A small knife hits Hyun-seo’s leg, taking him down and allowing the guards, with Hong-joo, to catch up to him.

Still in her hiding place, Yeon-hee unwraps the Mauigeumseo and thinks back to Hyun-seo’s directive. With a determined look in her eyes, she packs up the book and departs. Unfortunately, Hong-joo’s guards are right on her tail.

Meanwhile, Hyun-seo and Hong-joo face off once again in a conversation we’ve heard before: She demands to know the whereabouts of the princess; he feigns ignorance. Struggling to his feet, Hyun-seo tells Hong-joo that it is the will of the heavens for the girl to live.

Hong-joo scoffs at this supposed “will of the heavens.” Yielding to a fate that’s always been unjust — is that the will of the heavens? Being born without anything, being trampled on and ridiculed by the rich, but still needing to bow before them — is that the will of the heavens Hyun-seo is so set on defending?

Hyun-seo says that part of their duty — both he and Hong-joo both — is to forge the right path for the will of the heavens to be carried out upon.

But Hong-joo says she won’t live like that anymore. From now on, she’ll be the one trampling on others on her way to the top. Hyun-seo insists that this isn’t the right way, as he pleads: “Don’t ruin yourself anymore.” He starts to turn away, while Hong-joo looks like she’s on the verge of tears.

A guard places a sword in Hong-joo’s outstretched hand, and with no hesitation, Hong-joo puts the blade straight through Hyun-seo’s back.

Her chin trembling, Hong-joo apologizes for paying him back this way, after all he’s taught her. She says that from now on, she will be the one that determines the will of the heavens, instead of the other way around. She pulls the sword out of Hyun-seo, and he crumples to the ground.

Jun is on his way back to his mother when he sees Hong-joo’s guards rushing towards him. He hides, watches the guards run by, then catches a glimpse of their target: Yeon-hee, stumbling through the forest. Jun pulls out the piece of the magical shield he’s been holding onto, and grasping it tightly, he runs after them.

Yeon-hee somehow manages to dodge the guards’ arrows as she clumsily makes her way through the woods. But soon, she reaches the edge of a cliff, and she’s forced to turn around and face her attackers. We then see Jun come up to the scene, where he first sees Yeon-hee, then a guard getting ready to shoot.

Yeon-hee braces herself for the arrow when Jun flies out and takes the hit in her stead. However, his sacrifice seems to be in vain, as the guard shoots at Yeon-hee again, this time hitting her squarely in the chest. The arrow’s impact causes Yeon-hee to fall off the cliff and into the water below.

Once Yeon-hee hits the water, its surface turns to ice. Still very much alive, Yeon-hee swims frantically to the top, but can’t break through the ice. The mark of the curse behind her ear starts to glow, then stops; at the same time, she stops struggling against the water.

As she closes her eyes and floats downward, we hear in voiceover her words to Hyun-seo that it would be better if she dies, then Hyun-seo’s response that she must live. We see a shot of her broken fingernail, then one of the kite Jun made for her (which I guess she was carrying with her) as she sinks to the bottom.

 
COMMENTS

Wait, so… all of the Taoist masters are dead? Choi Hyun-seo is dead? If that’s really true, I did NOT see that coming. I expected Hyun-seo (and the rest of his team) to continue to play an integral role in the fight against Hong-joo’s black magic, and though I could see how it would make sense for him to become less critical to the story as we move along, I didn’t think that he’d be out of the picture so soon.

I’m glad we got a little more insight into Hyun-seo’s relationship with Hong-joo — that is, before she literally stabbed him in the back. Yeom Jung-ah plays Hong-joo with such restraint, and she did such a great job in giving us a glimpse into Hong-joo’s pain and conflict as she argued with Hyun-seo about the paths they each needed to take. You can’t discount Hong-joo’s evil deeds and use of black magic by any means, but the battle that she’s fighting — the need to blow up a system that’s not working, rather than Hyun-seo’s method of playing by the established rules — is actually understandable, and something we — and other characters in the story — can relate to.

In fact, Hong-joo’s struggles align quite closely to the ones faced by Heo Jun: He too was born with nothing, looked down upon by the rich, and given no opportunity to make something of himself. He can’t stand the idea of playing by the rules and living as a slave; so he opts for an even more dangerous plan, just to try to get out of his current situation.

Of course, Jun’s story also has parallels to Yeon-hee’s, as both characters are told over and over again that they should not have been born. Though it remains to be seen how exactly Jun will be integrated into Yeon-hee’s quest to break the curse, you can see how their shared experiences of feeling unwanted will draw them closer to one another.

There’s still so much to uncover when it comes to Yeon-hee’s curse, like what the deal is with her new powers. Also, why is it that only Poong-yeon’s been inflicted with the curse, when there are others like Hyun-seo and Yo-gwang who clearly care(d) for Yeon-hee, and she for them? I think it remains to be seen whether or not the deaths of the Taoist masters could really be attributed to Yeon-hee’s curse — that’s Hong-joo’s explanation, but it could also be, you know, because she ordered her guards to kill them.

Though I found some scenes in this episode to be a little repetitive, there’s no denying that Mirror of the Witch continues to deliver heart-pounding action, along with spectacular visuals (that ghost seriously made my skin crawl, and the last scenes of Yeon-hee in the water — just beautiful!) Finally, it bears repeating that Yoon Shi-yoon is just phenomenal in all aspects of this role — he hits all the right notes, whether comedic or emotional, making the drama worth watching for his scenes alone.

 
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This episode was a bit too dark, I missed the cute bickering between Jun and Yeon hee...

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I think the reason why it's only Poong Yeon that was affected by the curse (with him coughing up blood and seeing illusions is because he's the only one Yeon Hee fell in love with. The others loved her, but Yeon Hee loved Poong Yeon back.

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Yeah, she did mention that her heart was beating strangely but brushed it away saying it was because she was out for the first time.

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Exactly. As a little girl who has never left her house, she probably couldn't tell that she was starting to develop a crush.

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Makes sense. It was clear that Poong Yeon had a crush but for Yeon hee, I only suspected it at that moment and then when she saw him in place of Jun.

So the curse only works on mutual romantic feelings?

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That is an interesting point. This is, by far, my favorite drama so far this year. Seriously. good.

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Ok off topic a bit but does anyone else think that YH has these super powers because her mother (biological mother) was a strong shaman/witch. Her mom also had purple eyes and telekinetic powers - as we saw at the end when she was near death. I don't think her powers come from the curse, I think she got it from her mother.

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Is Poong Yeon going to die soon??
I'm not ready to say goodbye to him.... T.T

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I believe he will survive as will Yoon-hee and the Crown Prince. They will grow up and Poong-yoon will become a Royal Guard or something of the sort.

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have just started watching this drama today so forgive me for the delayed reaction.

I actually think this is because his is the only romantic love? the others are protective, fatherly way of loving so they die without even needing the curse.

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Okay,now i officially hate jun's step mother that scene when she supposedly told her servants to beat jun mother was so unbearable i really wanted to punch her and her son's faces so they could leave poor jun alone.

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I'll get in line. Oh wait, how about borrowing 'the biggest sword EVER' and use it to frighten the two? Or the mom, specifically.

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Oh,that would be totally satisfying

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The stepmother was really evil, I was clenching my fist too, I really hope Jun and his mother can escape but not to China of course otherwise there will be no Jun in the following episodes.

BTW where is the father Heo in the midst of all these rivalries can't he come out to stop all the abuse that's going on?

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We're all going to DIE! The situation is urgent! We must act now or suffer terribly.

Oh, and by the way, "happy birthday."

(This was the only thing that bugged me about today's episode. I was jolted out of my "I'm in the drama" funk that I slip into when I watch good dramas. And for about ten minutes I kept thinking, "really? You wished her a happy birthday, really? Maybe it's some Eastern culture thing I don't understand. But that line just didn't fit for me.)

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I, too, was a bit caught off guard with the "Happy Birthday" remark when, literally, their lives were in danger and they were IN THE MIDDLE OF RUNNING AWAY FROM BEING KILLED T.T But yes, it is a cultural thing: many, of not all, East Asian cultures really treasure, value, and revel at the idea of having a prosperous and long life, and the birthday, being an indicator of someone's birth, is one of the bigger things celebrated, regardless of circumstances

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Maybe Hyun Seo thought he might not see her again?

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Hilarious, isn't it? I actually choked when he said that, hahahahaha. Totally out of place

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I actually found it to be really sweet...it didn't feel out of place for me at all. It was a really fatherly moment and i feel like yeon hee really needed it after thinking that hyun seo hated her. Hyun seo also most likely knew that he could possibly die and that this may be their final parting and wanted to say something nice after being so stern with her. Him saying such a trivial thing in a dire moment really showed how much he cared for her.

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In my opinion.. That happy birthday is not like generally congrats word.. I think that means he actually feel happy that she is "born" which everyone around her tell her that she shouldn't born.. That show how much he love her.

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It added a moment of humor in such a dark situation...tension releaser. It's easy to get all tense watching this...the "Happy Birthday" reminded me I was on my couch in the 21st century. This is a pretty intense drama, so a light moment was a gift!

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Yeah, I did a double take hearing that. And then thought, "too soon, man... too soon." She thinks it's all her fault because she was born--I can understand the sentiment, but perhaps there was a better time to express it.

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Such a gorgeous drama! Especially the last few moments beneath the ice. Captivating.

I was so sad when Yo-gwang died!! I really really liked him! He was so epic and had a flippin' awesome sword. It makes me want a spin off drama about all the monks' warrior escapades together before they died.

I wonder if this drama will start an upturn for jTBC watchers?

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I had a question, I understand that the curse works on Yeon Hee, but why Crown Prince also got the curse and fell sick? Is this because they're twins and the curse works for both twins?

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iirc, they were both born cursed, but the shaman/queen dowager transferred his half of the curse to her as a baby so it would die with her. My guess is that because she survived long enough that the curse activated, their methods backfired and now I'm pretty sure her brother will die as long as she lives (or until she breaks the curse?). I hope that helps a little? It's a bit confusing haha. What I'm wondering about is whether killing her is enough to break the curse, or if she can even die through normal means (when she was a baby, the shaman said she could only die by her brother's hands or by burning her in a ritual).

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They were both born with the curse, but Hong Joo told the queen she can transfer the prince's curse to the princess & once she's dead the curse will die with her. Since she's alive and it activated, his half of the curse came back and will ultimately kill him. Yeon Hee won't die, but the other part of the prophecy will happen: If they aren't dead by 17 then those who love them or they love with die. Now that she's lived to see 17, killing her won't be easy & she'll only be able to be killed by her own brother and he dies.

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Both the twins were cursed at birth. One solution to save the Crown Prince was to transfer his curse to baby YH and then have her killed. HS however did not kill her as he was supposed to, hiding her instead. On both their birthdays when the curse was activated by YH being out of the safety of her talisman encircled home, the curse was transplanted back to the CPrince. They each have their own.

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Okay juniper, Shai, patinalee thank you for your explanations!
It kinda helps reading different explanation and interpretation here because the drama has so much mystery atm and not enough answers..

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Haha~ feels like we're talking about property ownership! Joint tenancy with right of survivorship! What interests to each siblings have?! ?

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Drama: I will kill everyone you love.
Me: ooh, fun stuff. Love a good curse.
Drama: *enacts curse.*
Drama: *kills (almost) every side character I love.*
Me: wait no.
Me: I didn't think you meant literally.
Me: auugh stooooop!!!
Drama: *stabs both leads with arrows for good measure.*
Me: *cries over Yo-gwang for days.*
Me: who do you think you are? Gaksital?

Despite it tearing my heart out, though, I am absolutely loving this show. It's shaping up to be exactly the sort of dark fairytale I was hoping for.

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Great Comment, MistyIsles!! But wait?! You talk to the drama and it answers back? Daebak! I've been looking for someone like you (conduit) for years, because Drama never answers me when I whine at it.
I like this drama, too, but can you smack it upside the head for me for killing off all the Taoist masters?
Thanks.

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Ha, well, depends on what you mean by "answers back"...

Oh, I'd be happy to. (Seriously, Drama, you couldn't let us keep one of them? Not even one?)

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Your comment was so funny!

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I lost it at "Gaksital" ROFL

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It's like a Korean version of Game of Thrones. No one is safe! And her brother knows nothing.

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Whew. I stopped counting bodies when all those monks started to fall one by one. I wonder, though, how many of those people stay dead in the next eps? And while I love Poong-yeon's one-sided crush, I kinda hoping they'll take his story to a darker side. To at least underline his feeling with a darker emotion. Since no matter what happen after the princess drowned, he is still the first victim of her curse. I would like to see his story in a grim brother's style rather than dysney's one.

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Right, seems we lost about half the cast here...I'm hoping they have some under armor or somehow they can be alive in next episodes.

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When I saw the lake freeze. Just. Frozen.

P.S. This episode was so pretty to look at (wah) and yet also so so cruel (muahaha) -just awesome

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Really awesome acting from everyone this episode. Yoon Shiyoon and Kim Saeron's crying scenes were just so heartbreaking. It pains my heart so much how people repeatedly tell the two of them that they shouldn't have been born. This connects the two of them and it seems like they can find comfort in each other.

That killing spree was just... I don't know what to feel about it coz I know they won't stay dead. I mean, who else do we have left? I do think that Jun's mother will die in the next episode. That lingering look and hand squeeze say it all!

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I think the reason why Poong Yeon was the only one affected by the curse was that he loved Yeon Hui as more than a sister! This also reconciles the fact that Joon wasn't affected by the curse despite spending a long time with Yeon Hui.

Nevertheless this drama has got me incredibly hooked! The cinematography is AMAZING. Most of the time, I'm in awe at the visuals; it's almost like a movie! Also, the parallels between characters are just simply delicious to watch. Everyone's struggles are so multidimensional. As much as I want to hate Hong Joo, she seems redeemed by her past struggle. Ugh. Can't wait for more! This is my first JTBC drama and I'm at the edge of my seat!

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When Yeon Hee's hair turned white and the lake freeze, I was reminded of Elsa! Hahaha

Loving this drama so much though, couldn't wait for the next ep.

YSY's acting is awesome! Thank you for the recap :D

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Thanks for the recap, chocolatte!

Your last line is so true! My main reason for watching this series was YSY and he's just amazing in his role as Jun. That scene of him crying and totally broken when he thought his mom was being beaten to death really got me in the gut. So moving and you can't help but feel for him--all of his experiences growing up and how he and his mom had to survive. No wonder he'd rather take the greater risk to flee.

KSR is great as well and it's good to see that her experiences would be the common thread with Jun's. The convulsing scene was done so well. That ghost girl was scary. I thought it was really sweet of Yeon Hee to include Jun's kite with her belongings as she escaped. The falling into the waters scene was gorgeously shot. Can't wait to see what happens next. I hope she can learn how to hone her powers and use them to protect herself and to figure out with Jun how to break her curse.

I'm also surprised the Taoist Hyun Seo and his whole team were killed off so soon. I'd expected more battling between Hyun Seo and Hong Joo.

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What was exactly Hong-joo's original plan with the curse?If it was to absorve the dark magic from the twins why she didn't do it when she transfers the curse to the baby girl and thinks she is dead?Did she knew she was alive? She had to know that her powers didn't improve like the taoist monk said it was her plan.If the girl had to die after the curse has been activated for it to work, that means she lied when she said "only a taoist ritual can kill the girl", and wanted the monk to protect the child until her 17 birthday instead. Whoa she is smart. I was like wth,if only a taoist can kill Yeon-hee why she kills them off one by one. lol. But she seemed surprised when saw her in the palace, idk...

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Out of curiosity, is anyone else reading the webtoon that's coming out concurrently with the drama? It has more backstory on Hong Joo and Choi Hyun Seo in their younger years. It's pretty cute! Just kind of takes a longer time to read in Korean... but it's good practice!

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WOW! this was an intense episode!

I never thought the Taoist masters will die! I started to really like their gang, especially Yo-gwang. I don't think Hyun-seo will die though, not now, it just feels too soon and I think the paper with the tree he tore and hid in the box might be the one that actually can repel the curse. Maybe he thought that Hong-joo would get to the book somehow and destroy it so he took precautionary measures and kept it safe!

The screen-cap of Jun with tears in his eyes says it all! his desperation and helplessness to his situation, my heart was just crushed! It's not his fault he was born but the he's the one who's bearing the consequences of that, lady Sohn's cruelty is beyond words and Ok is just too disgusting!

And Yeon-hee looks so beautiful in white hair!

Thanks chocolate for the recap.

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i keep on thinking
how can TakGu's mom do that to him !?
they work so hard to be with each other

Jun's mum is last time Jang Geum's mom

how can this be??

*pls forgive the silly me

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So. Much. Death. Goodness but this episode was dark. I had to watch the majority of it through my fingers! The scene that tore my heart to pieces was Jun watching his "mother" being beaten bloody. So glad that it turned out to be a warning and it wasn't actually her. (But judging by the preview for next week, it's only a matter of time before Jun's mom will meet her tragic end ?) Also, why did they have to kill all of the princess's protectors?! Ahhh my poor heart! However, I know I'm gonna come back next week for more heartbreak since this show is my new drama crack. I'm a glutton for punishment I guess haha. Until next week and thanks for the recap! ?

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okay.i have not been watching any korean dramas of late and despite a lot of ppl praising this and that drama, i was not even tempted. picky, picky, picky. i do however have a weakness for fantasy sageuk..so..heh. and what a drama this one turns out to be..and it's only 4 episodes in!

i was shocked to see the taoist masters dropped dead like flies hit by insecticide...made me go "huh?" but i must say YSY really nailed his character's desperations. to see him tearing up upon seeing his mom doing laundry with bruised hands, broke my heart. oh, the stepmom..ugh(ok, so i admitted to scolding lady sohn - how could you..that's your tak gu!)

can't wait for the next one! the agony of waiting! argh!

p.s. isn't hong joo deliciously evil? those cold eyes..cold voice.. brrrr!

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If there is anything that impresses me more in this episode is a grown man crying, either out of fear or painful misery. I know what your thinking but I am not sadistic.

I have to hand it to our first and second lead men, especially when his royal hotness Poong yeon's face changed into hysterical fear when he saw that ghost!which by the way was major ewww! But that right there, ladies and gentlemen, was good acting!Awww if he keeps it up, somebody's definitely going to get some recognition for his acting chops and not just his looks soon.

And Jun, wooooh! that boy broke my break, i wanted to cry my eyes out, did you see that desperate look in his eyes, that need for freedom, my goodness, i just wanted to hug the guy. Jun, you deserve a drink and then some..... poor boys.
May drama land treat you more harshly in the next episodes to come, that way i can appreciate the acting skills of YSY and his royal hotness more..... Yayyyyy!!!

#not a sadist!

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So many evil women in this show, are they being portrayed as troublemakers???

Kind of felt sorry for Hong Joo after her conversation with Hyun Seo, it seems that similar to Jun all she wanted was to change her situation in life after being mistreated by rich/powerful people.

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Excited to see what kind of powers Yeon Hee has, I'm hoping for time travel or resurrection because I can't believe Hyun Seo and his merry men all died!!! We barely got to know them. I want the one with the big sword and curly hair back.

The actor playing Jun's step mum is scary good the lecture she gave Jun I believed that she believed what she was saying even though what she was saying was so terrible.

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Still a little confused about Heaven's will, does it mean if you try and change your destiny/status in life it would be going against Heaven and bad things happen. So you should just accept whatever life you have?

Would bad things happen if Jun tried to change his destiny? mmm I guess so since in the preview his mother seems to die after he tries to help her to run away from being a servant?

Jun's step mum got a fortune from a fortune teller saying that Jun will eat up (become better than) her son (is this Heaven's will???) but she tries to prevent this from becoming true by threatening to beat up Jun's mother. Is this also going against Heavens will?

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IMHO, the only unpredictable thing is the deaths of the side characters. The rest is too predictable. Even the preview for ep5 kinda reminds me to previous dramas. Hopefully the story will be better next week.

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I gave up watching this drama. It has no genre whatsoever.
Is it a romance? Not really. Is it a drama then? No. Is it a thriller? Well, given those noises (which range from squealing to squeaking and creaking etc.) you could say that it is a bit of a thriller. Is it a horror? Well, given some disturbing elements (like that ridiculous cloud of smoke or that broken fingernail) you could say that it is a bit of a horror but not really. Is it a comedy? Sometimes, not really (second episode).
I may sound a bit bitter but, as I have been watching Korean dramas since 2007 and seeing the continuous decrease in quality, I can't help it. Except DotS and "Dear my Friends" I couldn't watch anything else this year. And I had such high hopes for Mirror of the Witch.

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Isn't "fantasy sageuk" a genre? :-/
IMO, the story is fairytale-like.

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Is it fantasy-sageuk, then? Not really, too many disturbing elements. Gu Family Book can be called a real fantasy-sageuk. I mean, of course there are dramas with a mix of genres (see Nine Tailed Fox) but the problem with Mirror of the Witch is that one can't recognize ONE genre (it has only bits and pieces of many).

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Is having a genre that important to you when watching a drama? This is obviously something new for Korean Drama, and I feel sorry for you for not watching it for such a simple reason.

ciao

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Unfortunately, it is, yes, very important to me (not only the genre but also the format, the style, the music and the character development). Well, you guys, have fun watching it (the plot is interesting), and if I hadn't had this minor problem with the genre, I would have joined you. For now, I'll just read the recaps.

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That ghost was really scary. Unnerving to see her just sitting there. Then quite a bit hilarious when you realize she's just chilling there while the guy's screaming at her.

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wow. first thanks for the recap.. :) i really love reading it even i have watched the show before.
I agree with u, this drama has a spectacular visuals especially the gost.. i dont brave enoght to watch it after 6 pm hahahhaha. I feel bit dissapointed with the dying of the monks.. hope that they will life again even impossible .. I will miss yo gwang.

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Fifth episode is going to be out tonight. I hope everyone will be resurrected. EVERYONE. Please.. T.T

Oh, except the crown prince. He's going to die. I read somewhere that in reality, crown prince died when he was 13. Ok, I know, this is a fantasy drama, so it could have a different story. But I still think he won't survive the curse. :-/

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I got so freaked out by your recap I don't think I am brave enough to watch this show!

I still can't get over the fact that a 'mother' ie the shaman would curse her own 2 kids! Did she not indirectly curse herself since as a mother she loves and is loved by her children?

Perhaps all the dead taoist masters will help fight the evil shadows in the after life? As in once Yeon hee accepts her shaman powers she will have them as her 'spirits in army'? (I can't believe I just wrote this...because it's too unbelievable in real life )

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Loved this episode. I am enjoying it so much, and YSY doesn't disappoint as expected. :)
This is my favorite drama these days. I cannot bring myself to watch anything else but Mirror of the witch is quite decent.

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Haso drama beans stopped recapping this drama.. there is no recap for ep 5.. please don't stop ?

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This is off to a bad start already.
I thought the curse was supposed to kill the twins when they turned 17. They kept mentioning how it's the last day before the curse kills them lo and behold hairs turned while and no one died.

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Thanks, chocolatte, for the recap!

Just finished OH HAE YOUNG AGAIN... and will be playing catch-up with MOTW to keep in the supernatural groove. Also need a sageuk fix.

I've enjoyed the first 4 episodes. I didn't expect to see the Taoists get wiped out completely so early in the drama.

The cinematography is beautiful, and I was impressed with the quality of the CGI tiger a couple of episodes back. Well done!

As for the pool freezing when Yeon Hee fell in, all I can say is she must have had some ice-nine on her person when she landed in the drink. (Tip of the gat to Cat's Cradle. ;-)

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I know i am being crazy but i am rembering the story of Melafecient. Its kinda giving off the same vibe right now.

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