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122

Hwarang: Episode 12

The funny thing about secrets is, once one of them is out in the open, it can begin a cascade of more and more truths that quickly grows out of control. Things can change in a flash when friends start looking at each other as potential enemies. One little rumor can change the course of history, though it’s still too soon to know if it will be for the better or worse.

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

As the rain pours down, Sun-woo kneels in front of the torn banner, fixated on the drawing of the dragon-head charm under the word “king.” The full truth hits him: his friend Mak Mun was killed because he saw the king, and the dragon-head bracelet (that Sun-woo picked up after his fight with the man be believed to be Mak Mun’s killer), is the symbol of the king.

Ah Ro finds Ji-dwi in the storeroom and assures him that nobody will believe the banner saying that the king is in Hwarang. Ji-dwi admits he’s not as worried as he thought he would be if this happened. He wonders if it’s because he has Ah Ro on his side, and she promises that she won’t tell anyone he’s the king.

Ji-dwi says that if anyone finds out, one of two things will happen — either he’ll be killed by assassins, or he’ll become king. He confesses that he’s more worried that people will ask him to become king.

The other Hwarang are all abuzz wondering who the king could be, and Han-sung guesses that it’s either Ji-dwi or Sun-woo. He argues that they’re the only two they didn’t all know growing up, and he grins when Yeo-wool says he might be onto something.

Hwa-gong recalls his conversation with Queen Regent Jiso, when she’d asked him to prove Ji-dwi’s identity. He links it to his talk with Ji-dwi about the hidden king, and how Ji-dwi said he wants to take down the queen regent. He chuckles to himself as he puts the pieces together.

Yeo-wool’s theory is that Sun-woo is the king, since he’s seen the dragon-head bracelet Sun-woo wears, and he saw the same symbol on the banner. He teases Ban-ryu that he must feel better knowing he got beat up by the king and not a low-born, ha. His theory sweeps through the Hwarang, and when Sun-woo shows up for class, all the boys are super awkward.

Ji-dwi sits next to him and notes that everyone seems interested in Sun-woo. Sun-woo just says darkly that he’s interested in them, too, thinking that the person responsible for Mak Mun’s death is here.

Han-sung visits Ah Ro to tell her that her “brother” is the king, but she firmly counters it’s not true. He asks how she’s so sure, and smirks when she can’t explain how she knows. She nearly bites the poor kid’s head off.

She goes looking for Sun-woo, and catches up to him just as Princess Sookmyung approaches him. Sookmyung tells Sun-woo that people are saying he’s her brother, and she takes his wrist to look for a birthmark. Sun-woo’s face hardens, and he yanks her closer to him.

He asks if she shot at Ah Ro, and Sookmyung says she was just hunting deer. Sun-woo growls that he’s not interested in who she is, or who she thinks he is, but he tells her that if she ever hurts Ah Ro, she’ll find out who he really is. Sun-woo stalks off, and Sookmyung looks over to see that Ah Ro witnessed their confrontation.

Queen Regent Jiso is desperate to know who placed that banner in Hwarang, but the only clue is that whoever it is, they know that the double dragon heads are the symbol of the king. It’s a closely guarded secret, known only to the royal family and a few generals stationed on the borders. But Hyun Chu thinks this could turn out to be beneficial to the king.

The court officials gather to discuss the increased attacks from the Baekje kingdom. Minister Park blames the situation on the queen regent’s divided attention as she focuses on the king in the Hwarang.

His statement is calculated to shock the officials, and it works beautifully. When pressed for an answer, the queen regent lies that the king is not in the kingdom, and calls the rumor false.

In private, Ho Gong guesses that Sun-woo is the hidden king, based on the fact that he’s the queen’s Hwarang. But Minister Park looks skeptical, thinking it’s all too perfect, and he says they’ll wait to see what happens next.

Sun-woo goes to his dorm room that evening to find all of his roommates looking at him suspiciously. Yeo-wool points out the elephant in the room and says it’s nice to have the king as a roommate, and Ban-ryu just asks Sun-woo straight out if he’s the king. Sun-woo rolls his eyes and goes to bed, refusing to answer (and thus infuriating) Ban-ryu.

The Hwarang cringe away as Sun-woo and Ji-dwi walk together across the courtyard, and Ji-dwi says he thinks they’re all staring at Sun-woo. Sun-woo asks if he’s that good-looking that even men are attracted to him, and Ji-dwi comments on his sudden-onset sense of humor.

Sun-woo asks who Ji-dwi thinks is the king in Hwarang, but Ji-dwi grows too nervous to answer. Ji-dwi asks why he wants to know, and what he’ll do if he finds out. Sun-woo answers, “I’m going to kill him.”

Sun-woo goes to Ah Ro to re-bandage his wound, and he tells her that the rumor isn’t true. She says she knows, and Sun-woo teases her, asking if she can’t see him as a king. He’s disappointed when she doesn’t laugh, but when she stands to move away, he pulls her back to wrap his arms around her waist and lay his head against her stomach.

The Hwarang get another day off, and Ban-ryu goes home and tells Minister Park about the banner. Minister Park pretends to be surprised to hear that the king is in Hwarang, but Ban-ryu isn’t fooled, and he asks Minister Park if this wasn’t his doing.

Minister Park just presses for information on Sun-woo, and he tells Ban-ryu to find out if Sun-woo is the king. Ban-ryu asks why he has to do things like this, and Minister Park finally tells him that he’s thinking of making Ban-ryu the king.

Soo-yeon lurks outside the house, hoping to see Ban-ryu. She gets excited when he finally comes out, but he walks right past her, and she has to run and catch him. She gives him her brightest smile and says he must not have seen her, but he just nods distractedly and walks past her again.

Su-ho comes upon his sister just as she’s bursting into tears, and he sees Ban-ryu walking away and assumes the worst. He’s ready to go beat Ban-ryu to a pulp, but Soo-yeon wraps her arms around him and stops him, still sobbing.

Han-sung goes to see Ah Ro in the infirmary, whining like a big ol’ baby as she checks out his sore ankle. He gets distracted and forgets to complain for a moment, and Ah Ro realizes he’s faking. She pulls out her biggest acupuncture needles and advances on him, and he admits he’s fine.

Ah Ro asks why, and Han-sung says he doesn’t like being compared to his older half-brother Dan-se during training. He says it would have been better if Dan-se had been born in his place (as a full-blooded True Bone).

Dan-se walks in and tells Han-sung to follow him. Han-sung refuses for a moment, until Dan-se offers to help him with his swordsmanship, and he reluctantly goes.

Dan-se doesn’t go easy on him, and he roughly knocks Han-sung’s practice sword from his hands. Han-sung starts to look angry, and when Dan-se knocks him to the ground, he explodes. He refuses to practice any more, and says that their births should have been switched.

He thinks Dan-se should have been the heir, so that he could have rebuilt their family to its former glory. Han-sung says that he just wants to look at the stars, that he’s terrible at swordsmanship and archery, calling himself a disappointment to the family. He yells, “But what should I do? This is just who I am!”

Sun-woo visits Ji-gong, who checks his arrow wound and pronounces him fine. He shows Ji-gong the torn banner with the dragon-head drawing, and tells him that just before he was killed, Mak Mun said he saw the king.

He continues that the man who wielded the sword was wearing this symbol, unaware that he’s muddling events in his mind (Ji-dwi didn’t come by until after Hyun Chu killed Mak Mun and injured Sun-woo). Sun-woo thinks that the symbol means that the king killed Mak Mun. Ji-gong asks what Sun-woo plans to do, and Sun-woo says that he has to kill the king.

Ah Ro stays up late pacing her room, wondering what to do. She can’t tell anyone that Ji-dwi is the king, but it’s the only way to prove that Sun-woo isn’t the king.

Hyun Chu reports to Queen Regent Jiso that there’s a misunderstanding in Hwarang that Sun-woo is the hidden king. He thinks this is a good thing, as it deflects attention from the real king. But he anticipates Ji-gong being a problem, so the queen regent decides they’ll have to make him stay away.

She goes to see Ji-gong personally, claiming she needs a checkup from her doctor. She offers to spare Ah Ro’s life in return for a favor from Sun-woo — but if Sun-woo doesn’t fulfill her wish, Ah Ro dies.

Ji-gong is still shaking after she leaves, and Hwi-kyung comes out from where he was listening in the next room. Ji-gong asks what he should do to the woman who killed his wife and son and threatened his daughter, but he answers his own question — he must kill her and her son.

Later that night, Hwa-gong runs across Ji-dwi roaming the Hwarang grounds and asks why he’s spending his day off here. Ji-dwi says he has nowhere to go, and Hwa-gong asks about his name. Ji-dwi says it stands for “unmercifully stab (someone) in the back,” and Hwa-gong chuckles.

He mutters that Ji-dwi doesn’t know anyone in the capital, his name is an alias, and his family is a mess. He adds that Ji-dwi’s sister is here in the Hwarang grounds and his mother is in the palace, and Ji-dwi realizes that Hwa-gong knows the truth.

Hwa-gong faces Ji-dwi and says in a whisper, “Isn’t that so, Your Majesty?” He gets on his knees to bow to his king.

In the morning, the queen regent asks Su-ho’s father if she can meet his son, saying that she’s heard about his excellent swordsmanship. Su-ho is thrilled by the summons, though his father is nervous to send him to the palace alone.

The queen regent is taking a barefooted stroll in the grass when Su-ho arrives, and he rushes to her when he sees that she’s about to tread on a thorny branch. He offers to carry her but she haughtily refuses before immediately stepping on a thorn. Su-ho sweeps her up in his arms and carries her to her quarters, looking nervous but determined.

The queen regent lets Su-ho remove the thorn from her foot as he explains that he encounters these thorn plants often while hunting. He apologizes for daring to touch her, but she just asks if he knows Sun-woo.

Sun-woo glares at his fellow Hwarang, wondering which one is the king that killed his friend. When Ji-dwi comes into view, Sun-woo stares at him with particular suspicion.

Ah Ro finds Princess Sookmyung in her infirmary, and the princess tells her to come to her room to look at her twisted ankle. Ah Ro snarls behind her back but shows up anyway, and the princess commands her to wash her feet.

Ah Ro says that’s a job for her maid, but the princess reminds her that she’s her personal doctor now. Angry, Ah Ro snaps that Sookmyung shot at that personal doctor and injured her brother. Sookmyung doesn’t deny it, saying that she heard the queen regent wants her dead.

She tells Ah Ro that since she didn’t die, it’s her duty to wash and heal her feet, nastily calling her a half-blood. Ah Ro really loses her temper, and tells the princess that for her brother’s sake, no matter how high her status is, she can’t go around killing people.

She turns to leave, but Sookmyung stops her and asks if she really knows her brother. She says it’s unfair that Ah Ro knows who he is when she doesn’t, and orders her to reveal his identity. Ah Ro says that she doesn’t know, but she wouldn’t tell Sookmyung even if she did.

Kang Sung shows up at the stables to heckle Dan-se, sneering that even though they’re both Nando, they’re still not on the same level. Dan-se doesn’t respond — instead, he calls Pa Oh over to meet Kang Sung, and points out that he’s two years younger than they are.

Kang Sung taunts Pa Oh about his age, and Pa Oh shoots him some epic stink-eye. He grabs Kang Sung by the collar and pulls him halfway over the fence, instructs him to call him “hyung,” then dumps him in the straw.

He leaves, and Dan-se crouches to tell Kang Sung that he saw him destroy the instruments at the Moon Festival. He says calmly that he doesn’t care why Kang Sung is here, so long as he leaves him alone.

Sun-woo seems particularly worked up while he and Ji-dwi practice their swordsmanship, and he thinks about the voice of the man he fought saying that there are doors that people like him shouldn’t open. He goes after Ji-dwi with surprising fury, and it’s clear that Ji-dwi senses something wrong.

After practice, Ji-dwi asks Sun-woo where he learned to sword fight. Sun-woo gives him a dark look, but then he remembers Ji-dwi saying that he’s the only friend he’s ever had. He relaxes when Ji-dwi makes a dog poop joke, and chases after Ji-dwi as he taunts him, whatever was bothering him forgotten for now.

Dan-se hears that Han-sung has gone missing, and that he’s staying in Ban-ryu, Su-ho, and Yeo-wool’s room now after getting chased from his own. Dan-se runs off to their room, and finds Han-sung huddled in a closet.

He asks if Han-sung is just going to avoid sparring because he doesn’t like it, but Han-sung says sparring isn’t the issue. He yells that he doesn’t want to participate in this dangerous fight the Hwarang are participating in, and he gets even more upset when Dan-se reminds him that he’s the family heir.

Han-sung says that he didn’t choose to be born the heir, frustrated that everyone is putting so much pressure on him. Dan-se gets angry in return, asking Han-sung why he wasn’t born the half-bone then. With tears welling in his eyes, he tells his brother that if he has everything, then he should at least try to prove he deserves it.

Ji-dwi broods over Sun-woo’s statement that he wants to find the king and kill him. Meanwhile, Sun-woo thinks about how interested Ji-dwi was in the dragon-head bracelet and seems to come to a realization.

The Hwarang line up in front of the palace, prepared for the fight that Princess Sookmyung has ordered. The queen regent and the royal council are all in attendance, and Hwa-gong quietly pleads with the queen regent not to let the Hwarang draw each other’s blood.

The queen regent ignores him as she stares down at Ji-dwi, silently asking him to beg for his life. He looks back up at her, and thinks that he won’t avoid this challenge — he’ll face it and win, and take his rightful throne.

The sparring starts with a match between Ban-ryu and Su-ho, and Su-ho’s superior fighting skill is quickly apparent. He slashes Ban-ryu’s side, then hesitates at the sight of the blood on his sword. Ban-ryu nods at him and they engage again, but their fight isn’t nearly bloody enough for the princess, who complains to Hwa-gong.

Hwa-gong says that they know there are more important things than killing. The princess gestures for the fight to be stopped, prompting Minister Park to comment that the Hwarang hasn’t got much to show them.

He suggests that his highly-skilled bodyguard spar with one of the Hwarang, and the princess agrees. Minister Park asks to choose the Hwarang, and he picks Sun-woo, of course.

Su-ho tries to take his place, but Sun-woo refuses his offer. He climbs the stairs to pay his respects, and Minister Park says that even if one of them is killed, the winner won’t be held responsible.

Everyone looks nervous, aware that Sun-woo’s sword fighting skills are still rough at best. The queen regent snaps at Minister Park that it’s disloyal to make the king’s Hwarang endure this, but he says this will only make them stronger.

The fight begins, and in only three moves, the bodyguard manages to slash Sun-woo’s thigh. Minister Park chuckles that he was worried Sun-woo was the king, but this lays his suspicions to rest. Sun-woo defends himself for a few more seconds, then takes a second wound to the shoulder.

He falls to the ground, and Minister Park calls to his bodyguard that this is a fight to the death. The bodyguard raises his sword to strike a killing blow, but at the last second, the queen regent yells for him to stop.

The bodyguard turns to walk away, but Sun-woo stands and makes a flying Dog-bird leap to land in front of him. They continue the fight, and Sun-woo makes another leap, this time slashing the bodyguard’s topknot right off his head as he passes him.

The fight is over, and the Hwarang all celebrate loudly. The queen regent looks relieved, and even Hwa-gong lets loose a wild grin before composing himself. Minister Park thinks to himself that now he has his answer.

Ji-dwi finds Sun-woo alone after the fight, and asks if he’s okay. Sun-woo asks if he cares, and scoffs when Ji-dwi says that he does. He levels his sword at Ji-dwi’s neck and asks quietly, “Is it you? Are you… the king?”

 
COMMENTS

Okay, now we’re gettin’ somewhere. I’ve been waiting for this moment for what feels like forever, and I’m so glad we’re finally here. This is the moment when Sun-woo and Ji-dwi have to decide how to go forward with their friendship (or not), since I’m pretty sure Sun-woo won’t be killing the guy who will eventually be Silla’s greatest king. So I’m anxious to see how Sun-woo responds to Ji-dwi’s identity as the king whose mere existence led to his only friend’s death, and how Ji-dwi is going to explain himself.

My only complaint is that I wish they’d become friends sooner — it would have been a much more interesting moment for Sun-woo, character-wise, if he was facing the man he’s been trying to kill, and that man turns out to be his best friend. I think their friendship is too new and fragile to withstand the revelation that Ji-dwi is the king. And while I feel that Ji-dwi is much more emotionally vulnerable in this moment, having just admitted that Sun-woo is the only friend he’s ever had, Sun-woo’s attachment to Ji-dwi isn’t strong enough yet to survive the killing rage and anger he’s obviously still feeling. At any rate, this confrontation isn’t happening the way I expected — that the truth would come out after the two were firmly best friends — so no matter what happens, at least it won’t be predictable.

And now there’s the new threat from Ji-gong, who’s decided not only to get rid of Queen Regent Jiso once and for all, but that her son must die, too. I think what I’d like to see is Sun-woo learning the truth and standing beside Ji-dwi to protect him from any and all threats, including his own adoptive father. I’m also worried about the plans the queen regent has for Su-ho, and Ban-ryu’s reaction to the news that Minister Park plans to kill the king and put him on the throne. So many conflicts, so little time!

I’m very impressed with all of the Hwarang actors, but particularly Kim Tae-hyung, especially since he’s an idol making his first foray into acting. He’s adorable as Han-sung, the dreamer and pet maknae of our main Hwarang six, and I find his quirky manner and sweet demeanor very natural and fun. But then he blew up at his older brother, releasing what looked like years of pent-up frustration and feelings of inadequacy, and I really sat up and paid attention. I didn’t expect to see such raw emotion from him, or for him to make my heart ache for him the way he did. Han-sung is such a sweet soul, he just wants to learn and wants no part of fighting or politics. I have to give credit to Kim Tae-hyung for squeezing my heart so much it hurt, and I’m already looking forward to seeing him in more projects in the future.

I also really find myself liking Dan-se, both the character and Kim Hyun-joon, the actor playing him. I’ve seen him in several dramas but mostly as a bad guy, and I’m thoroughly enjoying him as Han-sung’s gruff but good-hearted big brother. Dan-se and Han-sung’s story interests me the most of all the Hwarang side characters — I just think their conflict is so heartbreaking. They obviously adore each other, but their family issues (Dan-se is older, but being the child of their father and a servant makes him ineligible to head the family) keep them from being able to truly be brothers to each other. Poor Han-sung is expected to take on the family mantle, and he feels inadequate because he’s not a warrior, while Dan-se would be the perfect successor if only he’d been born legitimate.

In fact, I particularly love that about this show — it feels as if any of these characters could be the lead in their own dramas, if the story were being told from a different angle. Han-sung and Dan-se’s switched destinies, Ban-ryu and Su-ho’s rivalry with Su-ho’s sister Soo-yeon caught in the middle, Ban-ryu’s struggle to find his own voice when everyone around him is using him as a pawn… you even get a sense that Yeo-wool has an incredibly interesting home life, even though we still don’t know much about him. It makes me wish Hwarang was more of an ensemble piece, where we got to follow all of our core Hwarang boys as they struggled to find their places in the world. It seems a shame (and may be a symptom of the writer still being pretty green) to have such sympathetic characters with interesting personal stories, and not be allowed to see a lot more of them.

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LOVE this drama. There's no way to take it seriously so it's pure entertainment for me and I can't find one thing to criticize because I'd go down the rabbit hole to remark on many shortcomings if I did that. What I love is the Shakespearean plot line and the complexity of the story and the interactions and drama set-up. It is perfectly crafted that way and has sucked me in 100%. ALSO - what a relief from the intense and serious dramas playing now, like Voice and Defendant. I loved Romantic Doctor Kim like crazy but always found I'd choose to watch Hwarang first!

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Kim Taehyung, make the Army proud!

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I really enjoyed this episode. I am glad we are finally at the stage where Sun-woo has figured out who the king is but like Lollypip, I really wished they had become friends sooner. I can see the bromance shattering before my very eyes.

I am also glad fierce Ah-ro is back! I wouldn't have washed her feet either and who the hell does she think she is to talk to someone like that? I knew that I wouldn't like the Princess and for me it's because the two roles I've seen this actress in, her characters were annoying and just like this. I tried to have some hope for her but child after today she can kick rocks.

I was so pleased for Su-ho! He got to carry his queen and I just know he was jumping for joy inside. His crush is adorable!

So many great things have happened this episode. I'm glad it seems like the show is getting it's momentum back. Can't wait until next week!

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I don't know why, but Su-ho's scene with the queen made me so uncomfortable. I cringe hard watching him pick her up like that. I couldn't pinpoint exactly what made me reacted that way, but I found my finger hovering atop FF button during their scene.

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Same, but I think it's out of fear, like that she'll manipulate his innocent feelings for her and that it could end up leading him to his death or perhaps turning against his own friends...like I can't help but have a bad feeling since he makes it so obvious he cares for more more than just mere respect for a Queen of the country.

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Part of it is that and part of it is like "come on man. You're not going to have sexy times with the freakin Queen". What does he want? To marry her? Sleep with her?

And another is, "that's your roommate's mom!"

Like the queen would be dumb enough to walk on a torn barefoot. I feel like she orchestrated it.

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This drama keeps flirting with some of Hwarangs' dirty secrets but doesn't want to go there and so do I. Perhaps with a different writer who has the guts to explore it in a meaty sageuk with a more experienced cast.

Rumors of queens and young men engaging in questionable behaviors is written/hinted in some historical records.
Who else would be more desirable in all of Shilla than the youthful Hwarangs? I have no doubt that some of them were exploited/manipulated by some of the royalties male and female.

I do agree with you ladies that the queen orchestrated it. He even warned her not to step on it but she did it anyway.

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I think the queen staged the thorny bush scene. She did that to assess Su Ho's devotion to her. This is evidenced by her expression as he carried her in the building. She needs to know the extend of Su Ho's obsession towards her so that she can effectively manipulate him. She injured her foott for that matter, but for her, it is nothing because she can easily cut her own palm in previous episode without flinching even a bit. This woman will do anything for her son. I feel sorry for the naive Su Ho already.

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same here i didn't like the princess' previous roles because i thought they were annoying. and this character is no exception.

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Do the Kings/Queens have only one outfit?

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Duuuude, I have been thinking this since like the 5th episode. And she always wears that stupid headpiece. I feel like I am watching an anime - they never get different outfits. Hahahaha

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I think it's because Hwarang doesn't have a big budget. It's a shame really because I like sageuks in part for the elaborate costumes, especially from the Goguryeo and Goreyo eras :)

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Im sure hwarang has more budget than MDBC. The whole hwarang change clothes few times and there are many of them. Maybe they want to focus only Hwarang boys.

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I like the red outfit actually, I'm practically drooling every time they wear it.

More than another change of clothes, I would like Sun Woo to get a proper wig. Surely they could do better even with a small budget!

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They can't seem to afford headbands for Sunwoo and JiDwi! Seriously, no headbands for the second time this week? I love Sunwoo's sword fight scene (actually all his sword fighting scenes are awesome), but his long bangs hanging there made me worried that he would not be able to see properly. Your life is at stake. Don't try to look cool!

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I think they opted out of the headbands not because of budget. Sammaekjong and Sun Woo wore headbands during their dance performance in the previous episodes, and red red robe is recycled from that dance scene. I think the PD decided to relieve Sammaekjong and Sun Woo from the headband because PHS and PSJ looks prettier with hair let loose, especially PSJ who looks like sageuk's mane of glory doesn't suit him. PHS is pretty even with the headband, but in order to achieve maximum fangirling potential, the headband must go.

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I was wondering about that as well. Why are only Sun woo and No dwi sans headbands when wearing the red and black get-up? All or nothing, I say!

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However I wish they would make up their minds about Sun Woo's hair is si inconsistent. I personally think his Dog Bird days' suits him best.

The hairstylist who did JiDwi's hair did a great job, couldn't they just use him or her for PSJ too?

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And Su-ho's hair when he's wearing civilian clothes this episode was drool-worthy. I have curly, frizzy hair, and I have serious hair envy for a lot of our Hwarang company. Really.

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I noticed this too. Maybe it's to differentiate who are True Bones and who are not? Think about it, the ones who wear the headbands are known True Bones, but the only two not wearing them are Sunwoo, who is a half breed, and Ji Dwi, who can't prove his identity. So that would exclude them from wearing headbands like the others. And to explain why they all wore them during the performance - well, I suppose they probably wanted them to look unified for appearance's sake. This is all just my theory, of course.

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Cant be. From the first day the boys were already told that there's no such ranking in here and we all know the true purpose why hwa-gong agreed to form hwarang, its definitely not to enforce what the current system is doing..

Those boys knowing sunwoo as a half breed were already making fun of him or not treating him as equal.. If the instructor made it that way, its a slapped on their face for doing so..

I guess its for visual purpose, but it really makes no head or tails since we wasnt informed be it a cooked up story or what and it made the show a little sloppy and inconsistent (why one can dont wear as part of their default attire).... (of course, i give credit that they looked better w/o the head bands..)

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I am convinced the queen planned that whole thorn episode. She is certainly conniving enough and it was timed too perfectly. And I am pretty sure I saw a hint of a smirk when Su-ho was carrying her.

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I agree! The whole thing was just too weird.

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yeah, that scene was unnecessary. The queen is a cougar! LOL...

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This episode was a big improvement from the last. I feel this show is at its best when it focuses on the boys and not on the love line.

I was so happy that Su-ho was able to meet the queen regent. When his father was importing the seriousness of meeting her and how to behave, I was just imagining how excited Su-ho was inside - he gets to meet his crush!! However, We as the viewer know how dangerous she is and I fear for his life. What was the task she asked of him???

Kim Taehyung!!!!!! We finally got to see his character open up. Until now he would only be onscreen to ask a question or make an observation. We are finally getting more story from his character. Like Lollypip said, it's like we know they each have these amazing stories that the writer just isn't letting us in on them. V did such an amazing job. Really impressed. I loved it when, in the first scene with his brother, he threw him off and just let him have it - the poor boy just doesn't want to be a warrior!!

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"This episode was a big improvement from the last. I feel this show is at its best when it focuses on the boys and not on the love line."

Totally! It feels like every odd episode is romance and every even one is bromance. Maybe I'll just watch the even episodes, they're great.

Also Ahro was back to her spunky self, thank goodness.

Thanks for the recap, LollyPip!

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I wish there was a better build up to V's scene. It got intense sort of way too fast and almost out of left field, which took me out of the scene, though the storyline is very intriguing and V can do angst. wish there were more hints of this friction of love and resentment before dan se's arrival at hwarang last week.

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OMG! I was thinking I just missed something from last episode. I'm not crazy then!! Yes, they should have dropped a line or two in the previous episode that hinted at Hansung being uncomfortable with the sparring and even his feelings of being inferior to his brother. The scenes in and of themselves were fine, but there wasn't much context leading up to it.

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The only hint was really minor and only noticeable in retrospect was when Dan Se first arrived at Hwarang and chose Sunwoo. Suho and Yeowool were envious that he got Dan Se, indicating Dan Se was very skilled. Hansung looked upset, which we thought was hurt from Dan Se not picking him, but after we got more info here, could have also been feeling upset that people would find him lacking compared to awesome Dan Se.

I knew Hansung was a puppy but didn't realize he wasn't a good fighter and wasn't comfy with sparring.

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But Han Sung's discomfort with sparring is in-keeping with his character, which, yay. I was trying to figure out what about the scene felt off, as it wasn't the acting. I agree (and thank you all for pointing out what it could be), that it was so sudden. If I hadn't been paying attention to this character earlier (when Dan se was first brought into the Hwarang as part of the second tier), I would have missed it easily. So more background work please!

Also, more of Ban Ryu and Su Ho's little sister!

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That's very true, they just added that scene without any lead up which was disappointing but the scene were so good that I overlooked it a bit.

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i was so glad ah ro stood up for herself against the princess. because really, if they're already trying to kill you then what do you have to lose?

i'm not sure if i can explain this properly, but i was really impressed during the scenes with dan se & han sung. i felt myself emotionally reacting to dan se yelling "why weren't you born half-blood then?" to han sung because he already expressed that he wished he could change this fact tho it's beyond his control. i was on han sung's side, feeling like i was arguing with my sibling who was screaming at me for something unfair that isn't my fault.
but after the scene was over & going back to thinking as a third party observer, i thought about how dan se must feel as well. we've been shown the hardships he's endured & it is a very very good example of perspective. in dan se's eyes, han sung has everything at his fingertips but doesn't appreciate it.

for some reason i kept thinking that this drama is only 16 episodes & this plot movement is appropriate. but after watching this one i remembered it is 20, & i'm very curious what direction we'll go in...

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LOL to the number of flashbacks in this episode.

Minister Park declared he wanted to make Banryu the king.
8 SECONDS LATER, Banryu flashbacks to the moment when Minister Park made his shocking declaration.

The show (the bromance) has gotten better though! Fighting team Hwarang!

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While I'm loving the drama, this director is REALLY heavy handed with the flashbacks. If we just saw a scene with a character and then in the next scene that same character is thinking about something, I'm gonna assume it's that scene I just saw. No need for a flashback.

I hope the bromance doesn't die, it was just getting started! I feel like this writer isn't very good about about having relationships naturally progress. I feel like the bromance was quite sudden, they went from not liking each other to being bros. Same with the romance between Ban Ryu and Soo Yeon. I mean I ship them so I'm happly with the romance, but it did escalate quickly.

But honestly this drama is just super cute and fun and it'seems better if you just don't think about it too hard and enjoy the ride.

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Yeah, the banner waving was shown like 3 times in one minute. I like it when flashbacks reveal a little extra information, but not just repeating it for the sake of reminding the audience what characters are thinking. Oh well, Goblin also suffered from excessive use of flashbacks.

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I agree. Either there should be new informations or points of view or be a quick 2 second flash. I couldn't figure out if there was indeed too many flashbacks or if the excessive number of repetitive extended ones in Goblin made me more sensitive to them.

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This drama legit makes me wish it had been handled by a more seasoned writer and had like more than 20 episodes, cuz there is just SO MUCH to be explored but it gets sweeped aside to make room for a (quite generic, I would say) romance triangle. Every secondary character has a very interesting background and relationships (Hell, even the cute old Paoh, who basically sacrificed his whole career and life to be the King's protector, and actually seems to regard Jinheung almost(but not quite) like a son)
Banryu+Sooyeon+Suho have that very cute chemistry with underlying camaraderie that should the writer use their cards well, you can actually make the audience cry with those characters
Danse and Hansung are just as compelling, if not more, given that their relationship is that much more tragic. It almost seems like Hansung only likes his older brother while Danse seems to care about the family more, and that's understandable but also heartbreaking. (coughImagineifHansungdiedattheendcough)
Yeowool seems so cheeky and smart, that Im actually surprised and a bit mad that they're using him so little. Jo Yeonwoo is doing a pretty good job and the character could've been so much more than the 2D human exposition and gag reel it is now.
Jinheung and Sunwoo both have stellar storyline going on (even without the romance, like really, we get it, you two like the same girl) and I really wish for more bonding or even fighting and angst. Just anything beside growling at each other about the girl.
Ahro is... TBH I cant put my finger on it, but sometimes I like her, sometimes I don't. That not pulling Sunwoo's arrow out was BULLSHIT, I was lowkey (HIGHKEY) very mad about that, not gonna lie. But in this episode, she was okay, I guess. I think I like her when she's away from (and also NOT thinking about) the two guys, dunno just my thought.
Basically this drama gives me feels but also makes me cry in shame over lost potential.

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ALso, I can't be the only person thinking that the actor for Kangsung maaaay be overdoing it a lil? Just maybe?
Cuz I swear the guy looks like a psycho 24/7. Is it just me???

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I agree with everything you said, and yes to Kang Sung. He's like a cartoon villain.

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So true! They wasted so many times with the love triangle even though it's the least interesting story. There is too much filler in earlier episodes that made me think, is that all the conflict? If so, why? this is so boring But now turns out there is so much stories to tell but why so little screentime to other stories??

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I'm freaking out from everything!! I can't vsee how Sun Woo won't kill Maek Jong the secind Maek Jong would tell him he's the King at this point!! *gasp* he still needs to know him more and know he's not the one who killed Mak Moon before that!! p-l-e-a-s-e!!
and now the evil Queen tricked the evil minister into believing that Sun Woo is her son " the King" so now Sun Woo is his target!! *gasp* and Ah Ro's father is planning to kill (the SQueen who I don't care about and can die gladly but don't want it to be with his hands because I love him and don't want him to die for killing her and) Maek Jong for his son's death!! *gasp* and so I NEED Sun Woo to realise Ah Ro's father's plan to kill Maek Jong and protect him from it, Maek Jong to realise his mother's plan to use Sun Woo to be the target in his place and protect him!! and Ban Ryu and Soo Ho to realise the evil minister and Queen's plans and protect Sun Woo who is the target right now!! I'm loosing my mind here!!

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forgot to say thank you for the recap!! ^__^

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Figured that Moo Myung would be the king's place holder once he put on Sammaekjong's bracelet.

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Can't wait for the next episode^^
Haven't checked who's first and who's second male lead 'cause I didn't want to be spoiled
But I have a hunch Park Hyung-sik is second 'cause I'm rooting for him and I always have second male lead syndrome >.<
I only knew ZE:A by name so I was really surprised to find out Park Hyung-sik is an idol 'cause I thought he was an actor from the beginning

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Haha! If this show has done anything for me, it's introduced me to Park Hyung-sik, and I shall remain ever-thankful. It also pushed me to watch some ZE:A music videos. While I loved his bandmate in "Misaeng" (Im Si-won), it wasn't until a week ago or so that I watched their videos. Interesting hair styles, is all I can say. Well, that and very nice!

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I think losing sunwoo and his wife unhinged him. Instead of focusing on his daughter, all his energy was out into seeking out info abt Sunwoo. I don't think killing the queen is the right answer. The queen's supporters would kill them both. It is selfish to doom your daughter like that unless you talk to her and you both agree to kill the Queen. Let her live a quiet life. She has been in danger because of all the guys in this drama.

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I think Dog-Bird was somewhat related to the older brother of the Queen who has a polio and my hypothesis is that he has a non-paralytic polio so he's frequently unconscious. I'm also rooting that Dog-Bird can become the real king here. I like Park Seo Joon a lot and his character here.

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Queen Jiso's older brother was a son of a concubine. This whole sacred bone system was probably established to keep the true bones and sons of concubine from inheriting the throne.

Sammakjong is the only sacred bone and true king.

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Nasty thorns like that just lying around on the palace grounds? Since the princess obviously needs to work on her archery, I suggest she practice on the palace groundskeepers before she attempts another of her trademark assassinations.

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Thanks for the recap, Lollypip! Agree with what you've said about the plot progression, it's been a little weird.

Thank goodness Ah Ro got some personality back this episode! This show really does shine when it isn't totally focused on the love triangle and acts like an ensemble show.

I LOVE Ban Ryu and Soo Yeon, but their progression was quick. They've literally spent less than 5 minutes together. Both are adorable and have great chemistry - use it, show!

I'm starting to think that if any of the boys will die, it'll be Soo Ho. A budding alliance with the queen and no other tragic family story? I think he's a goner.

Definitely can't think too hard about this show. The flashbacks are SO unnecessary and annoying.

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"I LOVE Ban Ryu and Soo Yeon, but their progression was quick. They’ve literally spent less than 5 minutes together. Both are adorable and have great chemistry – use it, show!"

Agree! roughly 5 mins per ep is my attention span for this show.

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Alternate endings game:
Sun-woo kills Ji-dwi.
Evil queen decides it's better to pretend Sun-woo is king so she can have an heir of sorts than to leave the throne to Minister Park & Ban-ryu.
New king Sun-woo gets to marry the princess without so much icky incest.

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Continued: Princess-turned-Queen ends up almost shooting Sun Woo at an archery competition, and is deposed for attempting treason. Sorry, not sorry.

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NOOOOO!!! Ji Dwi is too pretty to die.

I'm amazed how the royal family can produce someone so pretty with all the incests going around for generations. I'm hoping something more like the Charles II of Spain, but then again, I'd choose pretty PHS any day over the Hamburg jaw

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Oh, Yeah, the Hapsburg clans were all about their prominent chins. Austrian guys are quite good looking generally speaking but not so with Hapsburg emperors.
I must say all Korean princes are all about their eyebrows.

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Jinheung was a real king of Silla, I doubt they willmake him killed :D

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Again, why are Sun-woo and Ji-dwi the only ones with their hair out? Don't get me wrong, I like their hair out, it just seems like a heavy-handed way of making them stand out. Plus Sun-woo's hair always looks different lengths, weird. That aside, so many great moments. Pa-oh and Dan-se putting Kang Sung in his place, Sun-woo putting the princess in her place, Ah-ro standing up to the princess, Sun-woo cutting off the topknot (which was probably equivalent to death back then). But the best moments were the ones between the brothers. I love them when they're together. I especially love Dan-se. He is so big and strong (and handsome), yet kind and gentle. But he also understands when he needs to show tough love to lil' bro'. Their story could totally be a drama all on its own and I would eat it up. Very interested to see where things go now, with Ji-dwi's identity being outed to multiple people. And it looks like the princess is developing a crush on Sun-woo, not that I blame her since is totally crush-worthy, but I don't like her so she needs to look elsewhere.

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I liked the princess at first, but now I just feel like saying 'go away' every time she shows up and orders people around.

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Sun-woo hair is a different length from when he has it up vs down. It's like the long hair extensions are part of the uniform and comes attached to the head bans.

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This. Hahahahahaha. Buy the magic headband now and you'll instantly add inches to your hair! Only $9.95!

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*shipping and handling extra

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Episode 12 verified that I am here for the bromance and the side stories!

My favorite moments were when Hwagng bowed down to Sam Maek Jeong (great delivery from both actors), Seoyoon crying o her brother's chest (they're so cuuuute) and Sun Woo's fight scene with Master Youngshil's guard.

When Sun Woo slashed the guards bun (a symbol of honor in East Asian society) instead of wounding him, it really emphasized Hwagong's words on how the Hwarangs are not fighting for something meaningless.

Now, honestly speaking, the reason why I decided to watch Hwarang is Kim Taehyung. It doesn't hurt that the main lead is Park Seojoon, an actor I am fond of, and that the amount of eye candy in the drama is notable. However, unlike most fans who tend to be supportive of their fave idols when they pursue acting, I tend to be more critical. I watched this drama with anticipation, excitement, and worry since it's Taetae's first but wow, I dare say, my child hasn't failed me. ;;

While he is not A-level amazing, he didn't disappoint. He was sooooooooooo cute during the first parts of the episode so I was a bit taken aback when he went beast mode on that scene with Dan Sae. There may be some parts I find distracting (like how he leaves his mouth open haha) but it is nothing he can't fix. I can also see that Park Seojoon really helped him a lot because I see him mirroring PSJ's style of acting (one eyebrow raised, intense gaze) on the first scene with Dan Sae. I am even more eager now for epi 18---the episode the director promised to be Taehyung's shining moment.

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I second your critique of TaeTae. He shows a very good base. With time and study I believe he can be an above par actor.

And just because we love our idols, it doesn't mean that they will or can exceed at everything. They are human too! Let's just say there a a few idol actors whom are amazingly talented singers but should never grace the screen in a drama. I still shudder thinking of some recent shows.

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Agree with you and recapper...Hansung is really stealing my heart. If I didn't know this was Taehyung's debut drama, I'd say he's had a couple roles because he's really giving Hansung the right emotions. I also like how he goes from puppy to barking dog real quick - that kinda versatility can only improve with time!

I hear episodes 17/18 are where Taehyung shines, so looking forward to that!

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Yay, the story is back on track and Ah Ro has regained some of her spunky nature (thank you for standing up to that princess!) Speaking of the princess, I am disappointed that she's just one of the Queen's minions. And with what right is she deciding what happens at Hwarang? She's basically taken over the authority of the master of the house, which wasn't the initial deal between Hwa-Gong and the queen.

The other thing that irks me is that previously Sun Woo did remember the face of the general who killed Mak Moon, going so far as fight him in public. But then he reverted to thinking it was the king. What??

I liked the revelation this week and am hoping the two boys join forces to get the king back to his throne. They really have to just talk it out: 'I didn't kill your friend, although I am kind of responsible since he saw my face, but I didn't want that. Sorry, punch me.' Being a drama though, this is unlikely.

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Love how Aro lied to the princess's face too. Ain't going to get that info out of Aro, you twisted person!

i think he holds JiDwi responsible even if some other person wielded the sword. He didn't know it was the Queen's order that anyone who sees the king's face gets killed. He could assume it's the King's order. Since it looks like he's not going to kill Ji Dwi by episode 13, maybe they'll come to an understanding

Wish he had clarified it for Aro's dad though.

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I agree about the princess, was hoping that she'll be more than the Queen's minion. Incest aside (because that's how they roll back then), I feel sorry for Sam Maek Jong to have to marry the princess. He's a good guy and deserves someone much much better than her.

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everyone is gushing about Ji Dwi and Ban Ryu, but I have really become a fan of Su Ho. He has a lot more inner dignity and sense of justice and fairness than you would take him for. He has stood up for several people and said the right words when they were necessary. Plus never mind the headlocks, he is adorable with his sister. originally he just seemed like a loose, comic character with a tendency to blow up at things, but really he has a core.

I really dont want any friendships to break but I guess iron has to see some heat before it can be forged into something strong. so we endure it all.

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Agee w/you about Su-Ho. He's always been a top favorite character of mine. Plus, he wears the long hair, makeup and jewelry better than any of them, but, never comes across as awkward or fruity. When they were in the new red uniforms and he had on the dangle earrings I couldn't believe how well he pulled that "look" off.

Sun-woos hair is hysterical. I saw a YouTube video interview of all of them together and his ever hanging hair came up. He explained they kept changing it to find a long style that actually looked good on him. So, even behind the scenes his hair was a struggle.

Agree w/thiose who think the romance portion of this story is basically a big yawn. I'm just not believing it, don't feel any zing, all those heartfelt confesssions btwn she and Sun-woo just fall flat. Are her shoulders frozen in place, they never seem to change position? They just stay straight
out and level, no matter what the rest of her body is doing. It looks bizarre. She has a very undermine gait.

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Suho looks out for his friends. And even volunteered to do the death match when Sunwoo was picked since he knew Sunwoo didn't have much experience.

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"In fact, I particularly love that about this show — it feels as if any of these characters could be the lead in their own dramas, if the story were being told from a different angle''

I agree with your comment here. When the show started, the plots were pretty even for all the supporting characters. Unfortunately, it fell through in the middle. The show puts too much focuses on love triangle (which we know who will be the winner anyway) and DJ as a king. Therefore, the growth of JD is really noticeable whereas the other characters are left behind. I couldn't feel any growth in PSJ's character, what we know so far, he has a sickness, he loves AR, and nothing else. His motive for killing the King in the name of friendship is not even convincing enough. His character is not a solid one. He seems to be sensible enough (his answer for the question while attending Hwarang's exam), but his justification towards The King is based on the false pretences. On top of that, they will have a war soon, (really????) the writer should focus on building the right foundation for Hwarang before heading to this road!

Here I hope there would be more Banryu and Sooyoen scenes. I am not sure about where this show is going, should I drop it? Should I continue? (But.... 3W3L will start this week and I couldnt wait for FJ and DH)

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I kind of disagree. Ban Ryu is clearly growing a spine and defying orders directly now instead of breaking up about them behind scenes. and Su Ho, well, he was just really bratty and rash in the beginning, but he seems to be maturing and showing some content. there is also development for Han Sung and his bro. I wish it continues like this, being about finding your own path, growing into a steady and reliable person.

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I reply to your comment because of 3W3L, that was my favourite cnovel, and the drama actually gonna air for real?
Fengjiu and Donghua love story always my favourite aside from Bai Qian/Susu and Yehua
Please share where I can watch it T_T,

For Hwarang, I believe this story can be more interesting if the SW, JD main story and bromance is explored more,
all side character also have interesting stories, their stories sparks some excitement but the writer didn't bring it to a conclusion and sometimes their stories just lost focus

Sometimes I feel this story is out of place, I am a fan of Chinese period drama, and cdrama plot is very complicated but yet you still want to watch all 40-60 episodes, because their story even side story is explored well.

Knowing this drama is aired post production, so I didn't put any hope for any change..This drama has a lot of potential with good storyline, reputable PD, but the script is somewhat a dissappointment
Shoutout for Hansung/Taehyung scene, he is doing a good job, my heart is sching for his struggle..but Dan Se is so handsome, and his character intrigue me..I will watch for the actor more in the future.

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?See ?how ?well you? can ?do when ?you ?stop ?focusing ?on ?romance

I’m so proud of Taehyung. I feel like such a proud mother during his scenes. I could feel his frustration and anger that he’s been holding onto for years. Seeing him explode gave light into the relationship he has with his brother and family. Sometimes the ones who smile the most are the ones breaking on the inside

Poor So Yeon. She looked so dejected when Ban Ryu ignored her and barely paid attention to her existence. Then So Hoo being the great brother that he is was ready to beat up the guy who made her cry. His crush on the Queen is so cute. The way her carried her reminded me of that moment in K2 where Ji Chang Wook carried Somf Yoon ah out of the burning car and she looked like she was in love with him

When the princess first appeared I thought she’d be somewhat on the side of the Hwarangs and hate the queen too. But she’s just a snake?

I want to see more of that independent Ah Ro that was shown in the first two episodes. Why did she start telling stories? As a child would she tell her mother stories?

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My heart bleed for Sun-woo and Ji-dwi. After all that bromancey affection last eps, I want more of them being best friends. I wish I can lock them up in one room and let them clear up all those misunderstanding (maybe with several punches thrown, but definitely no sword involved!!).

On a brighter note, Master Wi-hwa's support for Ji-dwi came so unexpectedly. I cheered out loud because finally there is another person who'll back him up besides Pa-oh. And you can see how flustered Ji-dwi was (and also a bit horror-struck) when Wi-hwa gave him his formal bow, treating him like the real king.
I bet that was the very first time he finally realize just how different his life would be when he finally claims his rightful place. And how different everyone would behave around him after they knew his true identity. Hopefully when that time comes, he already has loyal friends that will support him with their life.

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That formal bow was such a touching scene. maybe Ji Dwi's first formal bow since he went into hiding. And I think Wi Hwa respected that Ji Dwi has joined hwarang to get stronger. He isn't some weakling getting his throne handed to him.

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I really liked SunWoo in this episode! I am glad he figured out who the King is, he is after all smart. And he also has a good sense of fairness and justice. I think he will realize that Jidwhi is also a "victim" and the true villain, at this time as far as we know is the Queen. Jidwhi did not want to have MakMun killed and even went after the bodyguard. So yes, I am hoping they both join forces together. I am still intrigued by the Queen, is she really evil or just wrong in how she has been and is protecting her son... maybe good intentions ended up wrong and now she is just too far gone. She seems to habe her own demons as well, she is also the result of the unfairness and tragedies in her life.

I did love her interaction with Suho...they actually seemed to have chemistry together, at least to me. She looked genuinely flustered when he carrier her...was it an act? Yes she wants to use him but she could also develop a soft spot for him.

I think the editing was off...SunWoo and Jidwhi were fighting, then walking, then it was tournament time in front of the Queen and the assemblymen..it was a bit hard to follow the flow of events...to us it seemed like everything happened in a day..but maybe some time had passed?

I think it has been hard to tell time in this drama...how much time in between some scenes...

But loving this show still...and really falling for SunWoo, although i still have a soft spot for Park Hyunsik...i would go for SunWoo!

Even if there could be more bromance, i am happy with what we have been getting...i like all the smaller friendships that developed...Master WeHws and the merchant, Paoh and Danse...i think it's enough to show us how they are all starting to bond.

Thank you for the recap!

I did have one question...SunWoo "attacking" the fighter while he was retreating how is that seen? I am glad it turned into a cheerful ending and noone died, but would it be considered stabbing someone in the back? I wasnt sure how to take his action, the fight was over...no? At least it wasn't harmful or mean spirited.

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Since Sun-woo leapt in front of him before resuming their fight, I still count it as a fair move. After all, his rival is a seasoned warrior, and I bet that move didn't really caught him by surprise.

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I agree it was a move to resume the fight, not an attack. he didn't move again until he got the "continue"

In the end, Sunwoo's hair cutting move proved that he could have beheaded the guy but he spared him. So he won.

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Thanks for the explanation/clarification! I understand now...I think I missed the ok to continue. I also didn't get why cutting the hair was the end of the fight and SunWoo won, but reading the other comments I get it now! Thank you DB commenters! Love this site!

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Yeah, glad someone mentioned that. When sun woo attacked the guard, i almost scream, nope that's not fair!!!do it face to face.he's not ready.it's backstabbing!!!

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I got the sense that SW was already conflicted about JD before this. Even though they their relationship was undefined there was some sort of bonding on the day they entered. SW has suspected for some episodes and got sidetracked/distracted by AR.

I am curious about the real history of Silla. Who was Sookmyung's father? Is she the Park Sado of history? Then was her father from the Park and not the Kim family?

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As far as I know, Princess Sookmyung is general Kim Isabu's daughter.

Regarding Sun-woo, I also think that maybe he already tried to convince himself that Ji-dwi isn't the king before this eps. If I remember correctly, he already noticed Ji-dwi's particular swordmanship style before and comparing it with the man he fought in the carpenter's house. But he just shake off his suspicion and grew even closer with Ji-dwi.

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I always thought he just noticed Ji Dwi's sword style because it was the most successful one against the instructor. Sunwoo learns really fast. Ji Dwi's moves in that episode didn't resemble his moves at the carpentry shop. However, this episode, I feel like it's more similar..more jabs ...like you would use in a more enclosed space.

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Thank you for pointing this out. I had wondered how Sun Woo had sudden revelation during this episode's parring practice. Now it makes sense.

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Han sung, YAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!
The previous episode barely gave him any screentime and I'm glad that they gave him meaty scenes this time. The kid may be observant and involved than he appears. He likes to push certain people's buttons and it was cute when he pretended to be sick. Throughout the show, I already memorized the expressions he makes because he hadn't been given any heavy material. The amazed face, the mouth open face, the slight frown face- he was always the cute puppy so when he yelled at Dan-sae? Woah! That was a surprise. He's shown that he had some hurt hidden in him as shown through tiny stares but this came. He loves his brother and he's feeling pressure in his status. I noticed that he's quite open about his struggles with Aro than the other boys maybe because Aro is also like his brother? Aro seeming a bit like a big sister, a caring presence to Hansung cements his young status. The pressure and the feeling of inferiority is there.

I was quite surprised with Taehyung's acting, although it seems to falter a bit at times, especially during his and Dan-sae's second confrontation. I find him more outstanding when he is silently staring. Nonetheless, It's good to see that he's doing well especially for his first time.

The friendship is starting to crack when it's not even fully formed. It's kinda sad to see Ji dwi telling Sunwoo that they're friends then the last scene came. He knows its inevitable. Hopefully, the queen didn't tell Soo ho to do something nasty to Sun woo when they talked.

Someone commented before that Ahn Ji Gong played a psychopath in another drama and here it shows. When he was shaking in fury, he looked like he'll strangle someone. It was all cartoonish, and scary, distracting and scary.

It was good to see the romance take a backseat this time. I mean, it should be about the Hwarangs, the brotherhood and relationships formed. Hopefully, it stays that way.

When Soo yeon was crying at being ignored, I felt like she was actually laughing. Like, the director tells her to cry and she just laughs through the scene. I mean, her crying over that, felt shallow so she's laughing. It's not helping that she's crying like Aro. I'll just assume that they try to play the scene for comedy or Soo yeon is just like that because Soo ho is around.

I don't understand how Sun woo won when he lopped off the topknot. It felt significant, but how?

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As another commenter mentioned above, topknot (and also long hair, I think) is like a symbol of honor in east asian at that time.

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Top knot is the most important and respectable thing for a man in that era. So when Sun Woo cut it off with one clean sweep, it was a direct insult to his masculinity. I think that's why Sun Woo won.

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When Sun Woo cut off the top knot, it also indicates that he could've chosen to cut off the head, but instead chose to cut off the hair. This means that the opponent could've been killed, so Sun Woo wins.

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But how does cutting the top knot signify the end of a fight.

I still dont understand the significance of it

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The chopping off of his top knot ended the fight because he symbolically just cut off his opponents head. So, instead of beheading the guy (and obviously winning the fight) he cuts off his hair (sparing him but still winning) since removing his hair was tantamount to killing him.

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Right and (men's) mane of glory, top knot or whatever each country calls it has been symbolic of strength, honor, status etc in many cultures. A warrior would rather die than have his top knot cut off.

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Agree.

Though the opponent might feel insulted or humiliated (but at least ur life is spared.. and what to blame when u are the one lacking and lose.. count ur blessings for being alive.. u can always take ur own life if u feel that being alive is worse off and saving ur "honor")

Anyway im so not convinced in sun-woo suddenly turning the tables around in such a short time, or at least show us that he figured out his weakness or sth or maybe should show the fight longer..

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Thanks for the recap & thank you show for getting back on track for the most part. I cheered for JD when Hwagung called him majesty & bowed. He now has one loyal supporter who can actually help him in the royal court. Kudos to the actors for making that short scene powerful.

I guess girls in Silla don't know how to cry subtly. Wailing/sobbing was probably the trend back then. We all thought that was just Go Ara's bad acting but then Sooyeun does the same although to be fair I didn't mind because the reason she was crying is minor unlike say when AR was crying when she thought SunWoo is dead.

I'm still loving the romance and our OTP. I like how affectionate they are towards each other. This is one of AR's saving grace for me. I like how she fiercely defends and look after the people she loves despite growing up with a negligent dad.

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Soo Yeon's crying scene which mirrored Aro's had me thinking they could have been directed to cry like that -maybe for a lighter, younger effect?

Then again, in real life, some people's crying and tears are more annoying than others. I'm probably a cold person for saying that about the real grief or real live people...

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That's what I thought as well. I didn't mind it when AR wailed after the run away horse incident because I find it cute- like a child wailing her burdens to her older brother. The other scenes though, I just can't. I haven't seen Go Ara in other shows so I don't know if that's how she really cries. That's my only problem with AR's character otherwise I love her spunky, sunny disposition when she's not crying.

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Love this show even more.

Thank god finally in this episode, Aro did not cry.

I appreciate they did not make Ji Dwi pestering Aro this week. That little moment between them and her consoling him at his tough and vulnerable time is endearing. Really like how Ji Dwi taking a step back on his advances towards Aro. The feeling feels more genuine.

Love Suho and Sooyeun's brother-sister moment. It was so sweet that he was always mean to his sister yet very protective towards her and when she clung on her brother, they were just too adorable.

Like seeing the development of Hansung and the brotherly love between him and Dan Se.

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It makes me happy to see so many people complimenting Taehyung's acting! He so worked hard on this so I hope he gets the chance to act in other things too!

Those scenes were heartbreaking to watch I see where Danse comes from though, Hansung has everything but he lacks the want to be the sole heir of their family so I can see why Danse is pushing him. But my heart breaks for Hansung though he has all this responsibility and burden pushed unto him and knowing that he's not good at fighting he has already put himself in this mindset that he can't do anything as well as his brother.
What Hansung needs is a motivation to fight and prove himself and I fear that the death of someone might trigger that, I think it's highly possible for his brother to end up dying ;-;

I was so confused as to why We Hwa was letting the sparring actually take place but as I saw the fight between Ban Ryu and Soo Ho I realized why. All the guys in Hwarang have grown close even the sworn enemies Ban Ryu and Soo Ho that killing each other seems wrong. The exchange between Soo Ho and Ban Ryu was great they talked to each other with their eyes and the fact that Ban Ryu didn't even want to try to try that hard made me really sad and scared for him (even though I knew Soo Ho wouldn't kill him I was mostly scared about his father)

BAN RYU AND THE QUEEN THOUGH that happened and the thorn scene with him picking up the queen was so hilarious to me I couldn't stop laughing honestly.

I am so happy Ah Ro was not intimidated by the Princess and talked back to her and managed to keep Ji Dwi's identity a secret. Let's just hope her character keeps developing and doesn't get thrown into the damsel in distress every two episodes.

Now Sun Woo and Ji Dwi, I wish their friendship had been established sooner as well but I find that Ji Dwi thinking of him as his only friend and Sun Woo hating him makes the situation more tragic. Now that the show is picking up a bit more I hope they don't give us too much love triangle conflicts and focus more on the plot and side characters.

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I wonder what is in the queen's mind when she calls Soo Ho to he palace just in time when she step on the poisonous plants barefoot ... she must have planned something ...
Why Soo Ho? the best fighter in hwarang, the son of her loyal officer, she know he obviously had a crush in her and she want to talk about Sun Woo?

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I'm liking Ji Dwi now. I like the vulnerability that he displays. But for me, the highlight seemed to be the dynamic between the two brothers Dan Se and Han Sung. The story of those two brothers seem to transcend time -- its like the Silla version of the legitimate chaebol heir who wants nothing to do with the company and the illegitimate son who always works his arse off just to prove his worth.

Still itching to know more about Yeo Wool, because we've been seeing the background of the others but there's very sparse information about him.

The resident troublemaker Kang Sung definitely seems unhinged. It's like he's supposed to be in Voice but made a time leap to Silla. ? Glad that the Pa Oh and Dan Se team put him in check.

Please please do something with Sun Woo's hair. He used to have his fringe/bangs down not sideswept like that and though it sounds a wee bit petty, it is just totally distracting. Can't help laughing at all the inappropriate moments because of that hair.

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Me too, I'm still waiting to find out what Yeo Wool's story is. They made his setup so intriguing: he's the highest ranked among them, his mother was a princess but no one including him knows who his father is, to the point that he goes around asking men "are you my father?" (And, erm, how does a princess find herself in that predicament, anyway???) I sure hope they don't "forget" to fill us in about him. He's sure being shortchanged so far.

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Exactly! That kind of makes me wonder if being a true bone is dependent on your mother and your father can be anyone as long as your mum is a true bone then you are one? (sorry dunno much about history...)

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Depends of both parents. Eg.
sacred bone + sacred bone = sacred bone (Sammaekjong)
sacred bone + true bone = true bone (Kim Yeo Wool)
true bone + true bone = true bone (Su-ho)

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Oh. Now I get it. Thanks for that. :) But what happens if the mother is either a sacred or a true bone then the father is not? (We know that if the dad is either one and the mum is not, then we get the likes of Ah-Ro who are not at all considered to be true bone.) But what if it is switched? Is it still the same? :) (Oopps sorry about the questions heh, just became curious, if this were set in Joseon then the status is quite clear.) :)

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If one parent is a sacred bone or true bone and the other is a peasant then you get a half breed like Ah-ro and her brother Sun-woo.
It's still the same if their mother was a true bone and their father was the servant.

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"I am a true bone!"
"You dog bone!"
Favorite moment of an episode full of wonderful scenes that I was to keep replaying. Pa Oh and Dan Se standing up against disrespectful juniors.

Horrified that the queen is asking Ann Ji Gong to sacrifice her son for his daughter. I wonder if her sparing Sunwoo during the fight was on purpose to make it seem like he's the King? Also can't tell if she was smiling and sort of proud because her Hwarang won over that warrior or if she's happy to have tricked Ban Ryu's dad.

Wished that Ji Dwi could have at least pretended to speculate on the king's identity. He stood out like a sore thumb. Even Sunwoo noticed. Reminds me of the party game, Mafia. He should never be the Mafia in that game.

Aro is spunky again and I notice they focused more on her doctoring today. What an admirable set of skills. Her dad even complimented on how well she treated Sunwoo's wound. I wonder if the princess is pulling a Ji Dwi and getting irrationally jealous about the Sunwoo and Aro couple even logically knowing they're siblings. Probably jealous that two handsome guys were upset at her for trying to kill Aro in cold blood.

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After having slept and mulled over this episode, was wondering if the Queen shouting halt and all her initial defiance against the sparring between Sun Woo and the bodyguard was just an act to deflect the attention from Ji Dwi the real king.

And what did Minister Park mean by saying he's got his answer? I'm leaning towards the answer that ha queenie you would not have me fooled! He did some initial research (or prying around Sun Woo) when he first appeared right? And though Sun Woo denied it Minister Park knows that somebody close to Sun Woo got killed because they saw the King's face. AAAACCCCCKKK!

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I hope Minister Park is not that stupid. It's too good to be true. I hope he'd blow Sammaekjong's cover so the plot would move along. Those who knows already won't do it even Ah-ro.
Come on it's already past half way mark.

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Ji Dwi speculating who s the king will be more suspicious as all Hwarang knows he s not someone that gets interested with gossip unless it s about Ah Ro. And it will be unfair to point the suspicion at someone else.

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"...unaware that he’s muddling events in his mind (Ji-dwi didn’t come by until after Hyun Chu killed Mak Mun and injured Sun-woo)..."

Except that Ji-Dwi kinda came along after Mak Mun had been stabbed but /was still breathing/ (he was still breathing hours latter when daddy found him, for that matter I think) and his bodyguard actually pointed that out IIRC and Ji-Dwi kinda still just turned around anyway and left them there to bleed out and die. No rush for a doctor, no attempted first aid, no attempt to carry them to somewhere safe. Not saying I don't like him, 'cause I do, but the man totally isn't innocent when it comes to Mak Mun's death. Imo. *sniffles over one shattered bromance and one probably-maybe-shattered bromance* ;-;

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ApplesandOranges - thanks for your comment.
I also think Ji Dwi isn't innocent - not in 100%. He could help, did something but just turned around and left both men in the wood, Moo Myung and Mak Moon - bleeding, injured, but alive. I hope Hwarang's writer doesn't forgot about it and this event becomes some lesson for the young king.

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Is anyone else really irritated at Seo Ye-Ji's acting here? The way she says her lines seem really.... well, something's off. Usually I don't have anything against her.

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Count me bothered.

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This was a good episode. Even though I don't like Ah ro and cannot for the life of me understand why she inspires such loyalty in both of our handsome heroes it does appear that she's the only "lady" in town other than her friend. Can't blame her for crushing on Ban Ryu he's just a hottie. I'm glad to see that the kid from BTS is turning out to be cute and competent. I just don't feel like seeing all the arguments on other sites as he gets dragged then defended by his legions of overzealous fans. Thanks V for not sucking. Although with this drama I don't think it really matters that much. Even someone as charming and handsome as Hyungsik has had trouble being endearing when his character is such a spoiled brat. Despite the fact that nobody knows he's a king, he sure as hell knows it. I really hope beyond hope that the queen mother turns out to be a power hungry bitch. I just cannot stand the "crazy homicidal parent" meme in Kdrama. Not because they aren't a good plot device but because they almost always get "forgiven" for their evil deeds in the end.

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Yeh Lollypip, i agree with you that finally we're on to something. The progress seems good but I don't mind if it can be longer (like Six Flying Dragons). Our main six characters could be further developed.

I think there's something amiss. Sunwoo has spent much time in Hwarang now. So doesn't he know that whoever saw King's face will be killed & King is actually in exile (if i can put it this way)? Like in earlier episode, where Sam Maekjong & Paoh came into the capital, an uncle who waited beside the Commandant got killed by the Commandant for saying "is he the King? So charisma.". It depicts that whoever saw the King and/or suspects Sam Maekjong is a King, will be killed. Sunwoo only depends on Sam Maekjong words the night both he & Mak Mun was attacked. I feel like character-wise, Sunwoo is not rational. I do understand that he is in rage that Mak Mun got killed. But when he & Mak Mun climbed the capital's wall & trying to blend with every body else, that situation shows that Moomyung is actually rational. He's trying not to be obvious that he came from low-born village. He collecting info (when he tried to help Mak Mun about his necklace) from the gambling den & Pi Joo Ki in earlier episodes. So it shows that Moomyung is actually quite intelligent in finding info. So all this rational & intelligent just went away after Mak Mun died. He could actually asked all Hwarang members because people thinks he is Anhji-gong son, a half breed. Because after awhile, everybody gets along especially after the Thanksgiving Festival. Plus, I think if Moomyung ask Yeowool, he can actually answered some of Moomyung curiosity. He only glue every puzzle together from his encounter with everybody around him. He actually didn't ask around. Only when he went home & ask Anhji-gong. I believe Yeowool can be a good informant to Sunwoo/Moomyung.

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I hope at least the recap can tag the actors' name correctly. He is Park Hyungsik not Hyunsik

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Thanks for catching that! We didn't notice we were using the wrong tag after a certain ep.

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i love this drama

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Hi, can I ask why is it a win to cut of the hair of your opponent?

And isn't it a death sentence to touch a queen like this, much less carry her off the ground in front of everyone?

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Some plots have holes and some plots have HOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N-wtq15sE0

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I'm actually supremely bored. I thought this would be a good show to watch while I wait for new eps of Strong Woman Do Bong Soon but alas... *sigh*

To add insult to injury, I can't even stop watching cuz they're all so EFFING PRETTY! I can't miss one moment of Suho, especially in civvies, or Yeowool flirting.

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