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Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 12

And it begins… the start of Yeonsangun’s descent into his infamous never-ending cycle of violence that marked him as the bloodiest tyrant of Joseon history. The paranoia, frustration, and inferiority complex shown in previous episodes has coalesced into a darker form, resulting in unthinkable violations of ethics. It’s enough to make me wonder if he ever had a moral compass in the first place.

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

The king looks at the flames while listening to the protesters outside chanting their grievances. His face morphs into one of fury as he wonders whether the people even respect him as their sovereign. Meanwhile, our hero, Gil-dong, contemplates his father’s words – Amogae gave him food for thought when he told him to consider what would anger the king.

Yeonsangun paces back and forth as he demands that his musician troupe tell him about the rumors outside the palace. He points out Wolhamae first, and she tries to flatter him by telling him that the people venerate him as a great and honorable king, but he knows that that’s a complete falsehood.

He tells the women that it’s fine no matter what they tell him, as long as they never deceive him. Immediately after delivering that chilling monologue, he asks another former gisaeng to tell him the rumors in truth. She falls on her knees and begins to plead with him not to make her do so, because the truth would only anger him.

Right then, Nok-soo intervenes and begins listing different rumors about the king and his ancestors that have been circulating around the palace about his purported perverse fetish of watching horses mate. After hearing her statements, the king stalks towards her menacingly and looks directly at her. Nok-soo promises that she will never to lie to him, no matter how unpleasant the truth may be.

Gil-dong and Ilchung hear from their palace guard spy about the king’s capricious mood these days. He tells him about the king’s recent tirade at his musical troupe. They wonder what the reasoning for it may be as they walk back to Bandit HQ.

Yeonsangun gives Nok-soo a special mission to learn the truth about the people’s thoughts about him. She takes it as an honor and promises to not to let him down. She just has one condition: She will learn all the gossip in Joseon and tell him the absolute truth in exchange for a chance to meet someone she’s had in mind for a while. (Is it Gil-dong?)

Gil-dong holds a meeting to refocus their aims regarding their revenge plan to take down Choongwongoon. He announces that he has realized that people are not punished for their misdeeds; they are only punished because they’ve aroused the displeasure of the king.

With this in mind, Gil-dong says he wants to redirect the objectives of their strategy so that Choongwongoon falls out of favor with the king. Following this change of plans, the Amogae Avengers spread out to start implementing a sizable network of surveillance, trying to find out exactly what types of things anger the king.

Keutsae hands out silver, bribing merchants to keep an eye out for information. Segul follows the gossip on the streets regarding the king, while Yonggae stakes out at noble houses, looking for signs of trouble. The ever-resourceful Ga-ryung serves as a waitress at the gibang while eavesdropping on anyone that mentions the king.

On her mission for Yeonsangun, Nok-soo is outside the palace again, making her rounds as a gisaeng entertaining noblemen with her musical talents. She makes sure to listen carefully for any of the gossip that pertains to the king. She reports back directly what she hears to Yeonsangun.

She says that many nobles believe he has strange fetishes that are an inherited trait from his grandfather, King Sejo, who was rumored to have raped his daughter-in-law and left his nephew’s corpse in the open to be torn apart by beasts. After hearing the rumors, Yeonsangun thinks that the nobles are going against him, ignoring his wishes because they do not respect his grandfather, King Sejo.

The king makes the resolution to punish those who are responsible, and he alights upon an idea: while he cannot necessarily punish people on the basis of hearsay, if those rumors were ever recorded on written documents, they could serve as evidence that points toward treasonous intent. Eunuch Kim points out that there is a department of scholars whose job it is to record everything about the king and his reign. He points out that Park Ha-sung (Gil-hyun, who Yeonsangun had taken a liking to) has become an official in that department.

Yeonsangun remembers the day of Gil-hyun’s testing and the written answer he submitted. Gil-hyun had written that King Sejo (also known as Grand Prince Suyang) had no choice but to take the throne, because it was the royal request of the previous monarch: his nephew, Danjong. This pleased Yeonsangun because it reaffirmed his ancestor’s greatness, and thus his own value as Sejo’s descendant.

Now, Gil-hyun prepares for his first day at the Bureau of Royal History while clicking the pair of jade beads given to him by Scholar Song to remind him to live a virtuous lifestyle. Meanwhile, Jeong-hak tells his mother that he doesn’t like the jade beads because the clicking makes people stare.

Now that Park Ha-sung has become a favored scholar who is on the fast track for promotion, Mistress Jo’s tune regarding him has changed, and she tells her son to become closer with him. As he leaves the house, she expresses her disappointment that the dethroned queen has not yet been given her rightful due as the king’s mother. She also thinks it regretful that she doesn’t have the dethroned queen’s letter anymore.

At Bandit HQ, Amogae grasps the Buddha beads that Gil-dong now sometimes uses when he thinks. The power has now shifted from the older generation to the next, but although he seems like a weary old tiger now, his sharp eyes show that he still has claws.

Gil-hyun and Jeong-hak go to the first day at the office, and they are charged with listening to rumors and writing stories that they hear about the king. After a long day, they have a conversation, and Jeong-hak says that he doesn’t like the work and is looking forward to transferring departments as soon as possible. But Gil-hyun likes being near the king because it still feels like it’s like a dream to him. Then, Jeong-hak tells Gil-hyun about the circulating rumors concerning King Sejo.

Yeonsangun ponders how he can get his hands on the royal records, because as the king, he is not allowed to read them, lest it affect the impartial nature of the documents for future progeny to reference. He asks Eunuch Kim to find someone who hates the ministers but does not fear their wrath, and Eunuch Kim suggests Yoo Ja-kwang, because he’s the son of a concubine.

The king treats the man to water in his personal chambers. It’s a rare type of water found in a special spring, and the king asks Ja-kwang what he thinks is the difference, and then answers his question himself: There is nothing different. Yeonsangun begins speaking about equality, because he’s disgusted at the nobles who pretend that they honor this social system, but who at their core feel like they’re all on the same level as the king.

He implies to Ja-kwang that he’d bestow a hero’s honor to a man who would be willing to root out the source of the rumors, which border on treason. Greedy for power, Ja-kwang prods the nobles into confessing that they have heard Kim Il-son speak these rumors about King Sejo. The nobles, including Lord Noh, have their own personal struggles amongst themselves and are eager to ingratiate themselves with the king while getting rid of one more political opponent. So in the middle of the night, a group of nobles lead by Ja-kwang and Lord Noh tattle on Kim Il-son to the king.

However, they soon realize that Kim Il-son may not be the only casualty in this situation, because Yeonsangun looks like he’s willing to cross any line to root out his dissidents. He orders for all of Kim Il-son’s records to be confiscated so that he can have them investigated.

The nobles protest because it’s a matter of precedent; the journals of the scholars were supposed to remain private while only the truth is supposed to be written in the Royal Annals. But Yeonsangun argues that any negative opinion of King Sejo is a poor reflection on the current king, which can be interpreted as treason, because any moves to diminish the king’s power would destabilize the nation.

Through the grapevine, Ga-ryung hears all the hullaballoo about the Bureau of Royal History and the current interrogation going on that could rock the nation’s foundations. She tells Gil-dong and Ilchung, who begin to ponder the implications.

Gil-hyun is given the task of transcribing the interrogation of Kim Il-son, who wrote down scandalous notes on King Sejo, and he deliberates his new responsibility with Scholar Song. It’s clear that Scholar Song has indoctrinated him into being a mindless king-follower. The following day, Jeong-hak and Gil-hyun are walking to their office when they’re confronted by their sunbaes, who are on Kim Il-son’s side, and the sunbaes try to threaten both of them into being compliant.

Angered by their disrespect for the integrity of the investigation, Gil-hyun calls them out on their hypocrisy for taking the king’s money while they curse him behind his back. Jeong-hak gets angry at him for treating their sunbaes badly because he thinks networking is the most important tool for scholars like them, who don’t have the family connections that would help them succeed later on. However, Gil-hyun reveals his reason for being a loyal follower of the king: He is grateful to Yeonsangun for giving him this opportunity to be a part of Joseon, rather than as an outsider like before (when he was a slave).

At the Bureau of Royal History, Ja-kwang takes Gil-hyun aside and tells him that this is a chance for both of them to rise in the eyes of the king. Yeonsangun is out for blood, and Ja-kwang says they must find something in the records that will satisfy the king’s urge, implicitly indicating the need for a scapegoat. Gil-hyun remembers Scholar Song saying that the nobles hide their treasonous intentions in their tricky words and rejoice in their cleverness at deceiving the king.

The next morning, after another day of finding nothing, Ja-kwang wakes everyone up and reprimands them for not having found any evidence yet. Then, Gil-hyun steps in and provides a potentially incriminating eulogy that has some analogous components to King Sejo’s rumors. Ja-kwang is immensely pleased, and they present it to Yeonsangun as evidence. They tell him that they’ve determined the traitor leader to be Jong Jik, who was Kim Il-son’s mentor.

The Amogae Avengers discuss what they’ve discovered so far. Ilchung explains the situation regarding the eulogy and its relationship with King Sejo’s rumors, and how it could be used as a link to tie Kim Il-son and his followers to treason. Gil-dong summarizes the situation and deduces that the king gets angry when his family is insulted.

In the throne room, Yeonsangun orders that Jong Jik’s corpse be beheaded to signify his position as a traitor to the land, and that his family’s position be taken away. When Kim Il-son protests, he and his followers are taken away by Yeonsangun’s soldiers. Gil-hyun realizes that his words have power as he sees the nobles getting dragged off.

Lord Noh frustratedly asks if he realizes what he’s done. Gil-hyun doesn’t understand, because up until a couple days ago, those very nobles were calling for Lord Noh’s head on a platter. But the nobleman says that it would have been better to just let the nobles be, because now the system of checks and balances on the power of the king has been drastically skewed.

Choongwongoon throws a jug of wine at his serving girl as Heotaehak and Mori come into his room. Apparently, he’s not in a good mood these days either.

Gil-hyun is surprised by the extent of the king’s rage when his royal orders include interrogating all of Kim Il-son’s neighbors and acquaintances as well. Ja-kwang reveals that the king wants to instill fear into his people by setting an example.

Afraid that they have incriminating records, people start burning their books by themselves, and Yonggae spies one household with ties to Kim Il-son that does the same. Gil-dong makes a deal with the household master, who is a former classmate of Kim Il-son and a guest of Choongwongoon’s poetry parties: If he testifies that Choongwongoon was the one who supplied him with the rumors about King Sejo, Gil-dong will help him and his family come out safe and alive.

Soboori and Amogae worry about Gil-dong’s fate because he’s messing with a royal, and because the last time they encountered Choongwongoon, the ending was catastrophic.

At the interrogation hearing of the household master, Gil-hyun is shocked to hear Choongwongoon’s name again. It brings back a barrage of memories of his family being torn apart because of the royal’s whims. Ja-kwang wants to dismiss this evidence because he’s afraid of making things more complicated, but Gil-hyun insists that Yeonsangun would be angry if they did not reveal the entire truth. When they go to tell the king, Yeonsangun is conflicted for a moment, but ultimately decides to call his uncle Choongwongoon in for an interrogation.

When Choongwongoon is browsing through the porn book that Gil-dong gave him, guards call for him to answer a royal subpoena. Mori tries to defend Choongwongon against the guards as they attempt to capture him to take to the interrogation. The royal makes a temporary escape, but is trapped by Magistrate Eom and his men. Gil-dong hears news that his plan succeeded and smiles darkly.

In a small room, Choongwongoon has been divested of his fine silk clothing and ornaments, stripped down like a suspect, and is questioned by Gil-hyun and Ja-kwang about his relationship with the household master who pointed him out as the primary instigator behind the King Sejo rumors. When asked if he has any witnesses who would vouch for him, Choongwongoon calls for Heotaehak and Gil-dong.

Soldiers go to find Gil-dong at the newly created gibang. He rises from a crowd of gisaeng picking his nose, putting on his “footstool” mask, but it actually just looks like his adorable five-year-old self.

 
COMMENTS

I was a bit disappointed when Gil-dong’s revenge was put on the back-burner this episode. Setting up the reasons for why we will hate our major villain is important, but I still feel like I don’t know the hero that well, so I would have liked more time with him to become more emotionally invested in his story. Complex palace intrigue and backroom dealings normally aren’t my favorite parts of the sageuk dramas (I usually like to skip to the epic sword fight scenes), because it’s hard to understand if you don’t know all the historical and political context. But Yeonsangun’s transgressions of human rights in his scheme to punish the dissenters were just so blatantly egregious that they were impossible to ignore.

However, I did enjoy Kim Ji-suk’s performance as the increasingly maddening king. His hunched body language and changed manner of erratic swagger definitely added to the aura — although I did think that the transition from timid prince to aggressive despot was a bit abrupt. I didn’t want his transformation to be dragged out, but at the same time, I wish it had been a little more organically done. But maybe his lonely childhood with only yes-men around him formed his limited worldview, inevitably leading him to become a selfish individual who believes his pain is greater than anyone else’s. If contained, a certain amount of selfishness does no harm, but letting emotions rather than logical thinking dictate his rule seems like the fastest way to losing the trust of the people, which is something sacred all leaders should aspire to uphold.

Similarly, Gil-hyun seems to have changed for the worst. I would have thought that seeing his father whipped and punished because of people’s innate prejudices regarding the social caste system would have deterred him from wanting anything else to do with noblemen or any of their ilk. But instead, it seems to have turned him into a radicalized monarchist. He’s the one character whose motivations for his actions seem the weakest at the moment. Gil-dong has focused all of his ire on Choongwongoon, which is understandable when there’s a direct link between his father’s downfall and the pedophiliac royal. But Gil-hyun has somehow gone in the completely opposite direction by becoming the king’s personal rat, fear-mongering and creating suspicions from very slim evidence. Scholar Song probably had a lot to do with it, so I’m eager to know why he’s such a staunch supporter of Yeonsangun.

Slowly, we’re getting to see who will be lined up on each side, with Nok-soo, Gil-hyun, and probably Choongwongoon (plus Mori) on Yeonsangun’s side (at least in the beginning), and then Ga-ryung, Heotaehak, and the Amogae Avengers on Gil-dong’s side. Of course, there are always deciding factors that could change the game, and I think both Lord Noh and Scholar Song may become critical players in the future, even though they seem to be fringe characters at the moment.

But there is one character I haven’t seen that I have been waiting to reappear: Where is Eorini? Was Eop-san’s delivery of her flower slipper the last we have seen of her? But then, what about the scene where she’s in that dark box? Should I give up hope? It’s already been three weeks, and we haven’t heard a peep on that end. Even Gil-dong doesn’t seem like he’s searching for her anymore, focusing most of his attentions on his impending revenge on Choongwongoon. He also made Nok-soo a promise to come back for her, but he hasn’t even attempted to contact her, even though Ga-ryung told him exactly where she was. It makes me wonder what exactly his priorities are. Love and family? Or just revenge?

 
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Could anyone explain how much time has passed since the previous King died? I think it has been at least over a year, since the current King is back to wearing colourful clothing.

As for Gil-Hyun, I'm sure the change in him I temporary. He himself is challenging the social system, and he seemed genuinely shocked when the King ordered the officials be executed.

Nok Soo as well.. This is just speculation but the title may literally refer to the people closest to the king, in addition to the people/all the people of Joseon, the subjects of the King. What happens thus episode is slowly beginning the King closer to Gil-Hyun and Nok Soo, but of course, they both love Gil Dong and once the revolution actually starts, they'll support him.

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Yeonsangun began his reign in January, 1494 and the famous Literati Purge of 1498 is depicted in this episode. So we are in the fifth year of his reign. He would change back to his regular kingly robe after 3 years of mourning for his predecessor king-father's death.

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Oh thanks! So it's been at least that long since Ah Mo Gae lost his position as 'the man from Ikhwa ri'. No wonder the siblings aren't looking for each other anymore.

Um, would you also happen to have an idea about how much time Gil Dong spent with Nok Soo? I.e. For how long did he loose his memory after his family fell into Prince Choong Won's trap?

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Not sure, because I don't remember any famous historical events marking the beginning and end of their relationship. Plus, GD heals like crazy, overnight, practically. So could have been a few months, could have been a year, who knows?

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One thing I envy most about the Dramaland is the seemingly unending day. I see heroes and heroines cleaning the whole house, doing all bulky laundry (by stepping on covers, comforters etc. in a tub), working their 2-3 part time shifts, doing some volunteering work at the nearest nursing home, going to jjimjibang to take a sauna/scrub bath and still it won't be lunch time.

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Hahha this thought hasn't occurred to me. But I have thought that dramaland characters are quite productive people - they don't seem to stop what they are doing, laze around in bed all day, watch TV, and/or complain about work (unless it's a workplace drama About Work).

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I don't know, technically the king and his court are supposed to wear their white mourning clothes for three years after the former king's death, but it doesn't seem like that much time passed.

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Which is why in confused - I wish the show would give us some indication of a time line because it doesn't seem like much time has passed, but actually, as O_o's comment indicates, five years have passed since Yeonsangun took over.

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Yes it's not clear and it doesn't feel like 5yrs had passed by. I was a bit confused too but if we go with the historical events then it has been that long already.
I think the show has spent enough episodes in the mourning period so it's time to move on.

I believe there is no set time when it comes to the mourning period. It could go from 1-3yrs depending on those noisy officials. If it was up to Yeonsangun, I think it would've been shorter. His father was partly responsible for his mother's execution.
(In history the king didn't find out about what really happened to his biological mother till 10yrs into his reign).

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Ooh that's an interesting deviation from history. Creative license, of course.

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What a minute. So that means Eu-ri-ni is now 12? She's been missing for 5 years?! O.O

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@1.2.2.1.1 WishfulToki,

At the time that Choongwongun sicc'd Heo Tae-hak and his goons on Amogae & Co., Eorini was 13, or turning 13 that year. That was why the pervert wanted his minions to find her. (12 years had passed since her infant self had arrived with her family in Ikhwa-ri. She learned to walk there.)

So if another 5 years has magically elapsed, per O_o's reference to the historical records of the Literati Purges, that would make her 18 years old. I sure as heck hope we get to see some worthwhile flashbacks to reveal where she's been all this time.

But it doesn't feel like that much time has passed. If the king finally gave up wearing mourning garb after three years, that would make her 16 years old by the calendar. Aw, heck, who am I kidding. My crystal ball is getting lousy reception. ;-)

The show's temporal clues (or lack of them) are a botheration. This whack-o temporal ambiguity is the one thing about REBEL that peeves me. It's not a major deal-killer, but it is distracting. I've already exceeded my quota of flaky timelines in TOMORROW WITH YOU. ;-)

I still think some upright Confucian scholar came to Eorini's rescue and adopted her into his household, where she lives in virtuous isolation. It beats all the other alternatives, short of being reunited with the family she probably thinks is dead. I mentioned this theory a couple of recaps ago.

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Thanks Pakalana, I was getting all confused with the timelines. I guess I am used to sageuks that very obviously let you know time has passed, either with a '3 years later' or the appearance of a beard on the main character (lol).

I guess if we follow this timeline it means Nok-Soo has been hanging out in the palace for 3-5 years too (minus the time she spent with Gil Dong, which seemed fleeting but could very well have been months or a year).

I usually don't question the chronology of events in dramas, and am not really bothered by the issue of time... but in Rebel I want to know how everyone's timelines fit together.

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Gil-Hyun and his family's enemy were the nobles and royals who directly use and abuse them. He hasn't forgotten his past and he is pushing the investigation because Prince Choong-won is involved.
What has the current king done to them? They maybe enemies later but as for now, the likes of Prince Choong-won who prey on the weak and the poor needs to go.

I think it's pretty much unrealistic to expect them to fight against the social system unless they are planning on overthrowing Joseon.
They just want to be treated like human beings like Gil Dong said earlier.

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I loved personally the last scene where Gildong picked his nose. I loved that parallel to his younger self, and it gave me fangirly feelings for some reason.

I'm finding myself grow more and more onto Garyung and less on Noksoo by every passing episode. Gildong's underappreciation of Garyung and Noksoo's all-consuming desire to please the king are probably what's causing it. I really want more of Garyung and the Amogae Avengers on my screen next week. I realize that the development characterization of the king of Gilhyun is crucial to the plot and I appreciate that the writer went into such care into doing it, but I came here for Yoon Kyunsang. I need more badass puppy scenes!

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I was thinking the same. Where is eorini. Why didn't anyone looking for her. And confused with gil hyun, I thought he wants to take revenge by starting at inside the palace. Anyway, Seems like next episode both brothers will meet at last or so I hope.

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Sad too that if five years have passed since Eorini disappeared that if we ever see her again, she'll be grown and we won't see the same child actress??

I really hope we get to see her again.

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let's hope they won't pull a yeol with eorini in this

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Forever missing...

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+1

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I won't be surprised if Eorini later becomes a gisaeng. I hope the show won't hide Eorini, at least from us viewers.

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They were looking for her but they think she is dead. Iirc Eopsan gave Amogae one of Eorini's shoes in earlier episodes so they did look for her.

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I have many questions in my head too about almost everyone in the show, but I'll just keep it and enjoy their revelation in the future episodes. Because so far, each episode is soo~ deliciously satisfying (for me ^^)

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The website where I was watching this episode had comments complaining about it being boring with all the politics. I have avoided saeguk because I thought the politics would bore me. Strangely, this episode was interesting and riveting to me.

Being a noob that I am, I was amazed that Joseon had a system in place where even the King couldn't assess and therefore influence how history was written.

As for Gil Hyun, I don't think he has changed completely into a radicalized monarchist. In the first place, Gil Hyun being the first born has always more deferential to authority or figures of authority. He wasn't the one who questioned Amogae's change, it was Gil Hong. I can see why he is at the moment influenced by Scholar Song. Since the siblings were separated and Gil Hyun thought Amogae was dead, he's been given a chance at living his new or second life. As Amogae's son he would never be an official but now he's swept into this world where he can finally achieve his dream and embraced the ideology of an omnipotent ruler. However, we can see how fast he is losing those rose tinted glasses and I really liked that scene where Lord Noh made him realize the far reaching impact of his actions.

Gil Hyun hasn't forgotten his family altogether either. I mean the poor guy thinks they are all dead but when Prince Chongwongoon's name was mentioned, he was obviously shaken. His smirk at the interrogation also tells me that he's planning his own revenge.

Last but not least, Gil Hyun was right there besides Gil Dong at the opening scene in ep 1.

I missed Eorini but I am sure the writer won't pull a 'Missing Yeol' here. So far, the story telling has been tight even if the pace isn't fast. Can't wait :D

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Very, very well said. My thinking exactly.
Like I said above, I think Gil Hyun and perhaps Nok Soo will earn the trust of the King, but will eventually return to Gil Dong.

He literally stole the people - those close to the King, so the King can see it, and also the subjects at large.

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What the scribes or the official historiographers were recording (by hand) goes through revisions a few times before it is printed. These are daily records of the country's state affairs, the king's daily activities etc. That's a lot to go through on a daily basis.
The historiographers were not allowed to insert their own opinions or interpretations in these records. I think that is why Kim Il-son is accused of treason here. His real intention was probably to say that King Sejo murdered his nephew for the throne but instead he wrote the similar story about Xiong Xin's murder.

I think Lord/Minister Noh's beef was with Kim Il-son only. Kim Il-son's followers held posts in the "Three Offices" that keeps the king's authority in check.
So what happens when they are eliminated? Yeonsangun would get out of control and no one will stop him.

I don't think Gil Hyun understand what he is really doing beside seeing an opportunity to get rid of Prince Choong-won and would blame him for that.

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*who*

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Ooh I wish the show had explained the three officers business. It's good to have this context. Thanks.

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Thanks Kiara! This is really helpful. I am a saeguk noob and history too. It's fun to learn things like this while watching dramas.

Gil Hyun finding evidence to incriminate Kim Il-son happened before Prince Choongwongoon came into the picture. I believed he was following his teacher's words to the tee. But when the household master brought up the Prince's name, he looks like he's turning it into his own revenge agenda.

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You are right, thank you :).

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Btw, I was referring to the investigation of Kim Il-son's followers. Ja-kwang was going to dismiss the so called evidence against Choong-won because it doesn't make any sense for a grandson of King Sejo's close supporters to be in cahoot with Kim Il-son's people.

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@Kiara,

I think Lord/Minister Noh’s beef was with Kim Il-son only. Kim Il-son’s followers held posts in the “Three Offices” that keeps the king’s authority in check.
So what happens when they are eliminated? Yeonsangun would get out of control and no one will stop him.

Lots of food for thought in your post. Thank you! It prompted me to take a gander at the following, and now much of the histrionics among the daegans makes sense. It would have been nice to know which of the Three Offices the loudest complainers were associated with. Oh, well. It's already enough of a challenge keeping track of all the guys wearing gats. ;-)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_offices_of_Joseon

Interestingly, Jo Jeong-hak told Ha-sung he was bored with the historiographer gig, and wanted to transfer ASAP to the Office of the Inspector General or the Office of Censors. He figured that working in either of those offices would lead to more rapid career advancement. For Ha-sung, his royal appointment as historiographer was a sacred trust. I could see his eventually working in the Office of Special Advisors, although I doubt that future will come to pass.

After reading about the Office of Special Advisors, the third of the three Samsa offices, the criticism of Yeonsangun's playing hooky now makes sense.

Re: Lord/Minister Noh’s beef being with Kim Il-son only.

Yes, that's exactly how I understand it. He was very careful to state to Yoo Ja-kwang that Kim Il-son was the only party who should be investigated. He didn't come right out and say "or it will set a dangerous precedent" -- probably because he didn't want to give the guy any ideas.

I don’t think Gil Hyun understand what he is really doing beside seeing an opportunity to get rid of Prince Choong-won and would blame him for that.

I agree. And once he realizes that the genie -- the vengeful King -- is out of the bottle, it will be too late. It will be like the French Revolution devolving into the Reign of Terror. Yeonsangun will turn into a one-man runaway Truck of Doom. Look, Ma! No brakes!

I've recently begun watching the Viki subtitles in addition to raw and DramaLove or OnDemandKorea (which are usually up first), and KissAsian (higher resolution), specifically because they often contain background notes that are illuminating, and may cleave more closely to the original Korean dialogue. Viki takes a bit longer, but is worth the wait. By the time the recaps roll around, I usually have a pretty good handle on what's happening, plus I get to repeatedly hear that killer OST that I love so much. ;-)

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Thank you for breaking it down :). I don't have much time to watch the show these days and when I do I only glossed over one version and sometimes the subs can be pretty confusing.

I think the version I was watching referred to the 3 offices as the top 3 officers of Joseon (the prime minister and the two vice ministers) which doesn't make any sense when it comes to the current politics.

I think you already know what's coming. The Office of Censors will be abolished then Yeonsangun will become that bloody tyrant that he is known for in history.

I'm looking forward to Nok-soo's role in Yeonsangun's future. There is more that is written about her in history than our hero.

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Agree with @ET and @Greenfields.

I don't think Gil-Hyun has been changed into a radicalised monarchist. Neither is he a determined idealist interested in changing the world (in fact, Gil-Dong, Amogae and probably Nok-Soo are the ones who are examples of that trait).

Gil-Hyun has always been more comfortable with the status quo - I feel parallels can be drawn with Heo Tae Hak's right-hand man and the pure Ga-Ryung. These three may be on a different level compared to Amogae's merry band of thieves and thugs, but their motivations are just as simple. Loyalty and truly genuine intentions are the traits that define their characters. They look for those who inspire them and serve willingly.

I hope this turn of events is a chance for Gil-Hyun to learn and grow as an independent thinker and decision-maker capable of taking responsibility for his own actions... before finally attaining a true understanding of what the fight is truly about beyond mere revenge, so he can be a true partner and support to Gil-Dong when the time comes.

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I am very sure Song sabu will be a bad influence to our Gilhyun the moment I see those beads hanging on his robes and sure enough, he is manifesting the idea of serving the King without ever questioning right from wrong to the innocent Gilhyun, who is not very well versed in politics and the way these nobles think at all. I am hoping that Lord No will knock some sense into Gilhyun in the future. We all know that Gilhyun'll be by Gildong's side in the end but I don't want him to sink too low before getting to that point. I hope that after Choongwongun is punished, he realises how tyrannous the King is and change side as soon as possible.

I didn't think I'll be able to picture Kim Jisuk as a villain before, especially after Another Oh Haeyoung but the way he walks, the slouching and that manic glint on his eyes... he has totally convinced me as a King who is too tired to take further shit from his subjects.

However, my brain is overwhelmed with the heavy political scenes in this week's two episodes. Whoever think the pace is slow, I applaud you guys. I usually don't read recaps actually, I go straight to the comment sections to see other Beanies' reactions but this time, this recap saves my life. I think viewers like me got lost because there's many names thrown at us at once in this episode, whether they're alive or not, and not knowing the history too much makes the pace seems fast. We started with a rumour, suddenly the King wants a revenge and then names are thrown around, people are arrested, Gilhyun's job is explained, and then suddenly Choongwongun is called for questioning. Not that the last one didn't make me happy though. Another reason I feel lost is probably because the King is trying to find a reason, however petty and irrational, to root out anyone that he despises in his cabinet. I can't accept or understand his reason at all, that's why I'm lost I think...

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Another reason I feel lost is probably because the King is trying to find a reason, however petty and irrational, to root out anyone that he despises in his cabinet. I can’t accept or understand his reason at all, that’s why I’m lost I think…

The King's issue isn't just despising those nobles. Rather he's got a huge inferiority complex and thinks they despise him. That's why he is going after all who didn't pay his grandfather King Sejo respect which he has inferred as disrespect and disloyalty towards himself.

I think I am slowly understanding why this King who seemed rather righteous at first is becoming monster. His self-righteous is just part of his egomania.

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Add an unhealthy measure of mommy issues because she was a deposed queen who was executed at daddy's behest, and it's no wonder Yeonsangun has an inferiority complex to beat the band.

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Yes, he does. He blamed his father and the officials for her death.

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I think Scholar Song has good intentions. He is just an old school pro Joseon Confucian to the core and that's how the order goes.
All this pillar of the country garbage makes me think that he is related to Master Jo's wife. Are they siblings?
I'm not even sure which side he is on. Currently, it's Kim Il-son and the Sarim Faction vs Minister Noh and his Hungu Ministers vs the king.

Minister Noh knows politics well. Yes he has political enemies but they are there for a reason, to keep the balance so it won't tip on any particular parties favor, even the king or all hell will break loose.

I think we are seeing a monster in the making.

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@Kiara,

I think Scholar Song has good intentions. He is just an old school pro Joseon Confucian to the core and that’s how the order goes.
All this pillar of the country garbage makes me think that he is related to Master Jo’s wife. Are they siblings?

I think you're right about Song Sabu being old school pro-Joseon Confucian. After this episode, I'm just about convinced they are relatives, if not siblings. Certainly they look to be about the same vintage.

The way he talks about people who don't toe the line -- referring to them as a disfiguring disease -- doesn't sit well with me. Too many people would never have a place at the table because of the class or gender they were born into, and it's their tough beans. It's "my way or the highway" with him, the same dehumanizing attitude as Madam Jo expressed towards the poor souls owned by her and her husband.

When he got riled up and spoke intensely, Song Sabu came across to me as fanatical. It seems to me that he might not play well with others. I really wonder what his backstory is.

Minister Noh knows politics well. Yes he has political enemies but they are there for a reason, to keep the balance...

One of the things that I like about Noh Sa-shin is that he might regard his opponents as foolish, shortsighted, or imperfect, but he doesn't treat them as non-human. (Granted, they are yangban and scholars, so they're not from lower social strata.) He's realist enough to know that there are at least two sides to every question, and he's willing to try to hash out differences. I'd much rather have someone like him helping run the country than some yahoo who has no tolerance for differences of opinion. Or whose impulse control goes out the window.

*fastens seat belt for next episode*

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can we have noksoo and gildong together already? sorry kinda impatient here

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"the transition from timid prince to aggressive despot"

Was the King ever timid? I don't recall him ever being a timid person. An insecure, unsure young ruler lacking confidence, yes but not timidity, I think.

Strange, I'm enjoying the politics and the strategic planning that's going on with Gil Dong Inc. I love how their carefully observing the trends and shifts to take advantage of the situation. No rush.

Nice parallel with Gil Dong gathering information to arm and prepare for their revenge. Nok Soo gathering information for the King to use as justification to punish his enemies. And we have Gil Hyun and Jo Hak gathering information to use as a weapon. Reminds me of that Game Of Thrones scene between Cercei and Little Finger where they he said "Information is power". Information truly is power. But then Cercei responded by demonstrating her authority, "power is power" she said. And the King's actions shows us just that. He's consequent actions in history tells us of his blatant abuse of power. Hmmmmn.....

Were forging ahead, I can't wait to see what exactly will bring about the clash between Gil Dong and the King!

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@Flightey Gazelles,

Was the King ever timid? I don’t recall him ever being a timid person. An insecure, unsure young ruler lacking confidence, yes but not timidity, I think.

He came across to me as timid and lonely when he was still a boy. But by the time his father was on his deathbed, he'd gotten it together enough to be menacing towards Daddy Dearest over the execution of his mother.

That's a good point you make about the theme of "knowledge is power" and the numerous parallels between the various players/factions. Wouldn't it be nifty if a certain undercover gisaeng drops by the Amogae Avengers' gibang & listening post and runs into her former maid keeping an ear to the ground for news and trends, and her old flame skulking around in his pimp persona.

I can also imagine the look on Gil-hyun's face if/when "Foot Stool" arrives at the tribunal to give a deposition. That will be rich. ;-)

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Thanks for the recap, tineybeanie!

Now we know what the jade balls are all about. I figured the clicking sound was supposed to serve as some kind of cue. It's interesting that Young Master Jo is put off by the unwanted attention the clicking draws from bystanders, whereas Gil-hyun doesn't bat an eyelash. Maybe Young Master was driven nuts by his mother's Virtue-Tickers? Based on her hateful treatment of her servants, I don't think they worked as advertised. Hrmph!

I'm really wondering what the deal is with Song Sabu. Not only has he turned Gil-hyun into an unquestioning monarchist, but he himself sounds like a loyalist on steroids. So much for moderation. His description of traitorous Daegans as leprosy afflicting the body politic of Joseon was the exact same language that Madam Jo employed when she gloated over the nearly-dead Amogae in prison (per the Viki subtitles). Maybe this was typical speech back in those days. On the other hand, it makes me suspect that Song Sabu is Madam Jo's brother or other close relative. Wouldn't it just figure that he's Young Master's maternal uncle?

Ahn Suk-Hwan has been terrific as Lord Noh Sa-shin, particularly in the scene with Gil-hyun after the accused traitors are dragged off to be interrogated under torture. He's a great comic actor, but in this role exudes tremendous gravitas. I really like the Viki subtitles when he points out the dangers of Yeonsangun's witch hunt:

"Do you really not know? Yes, they failed to judge what's more important in national affairs and just engaged in a battle of wills with His Majesty. I found them foolish. But the correct thing was to learn how to control them and lead them with wisdom. After even those foolish people are cleared and then if our freedom of speech is banned, then where will our nation be headed?"

"But the correct thing was to learn how to control them and lead them with wisdom." This sounds like what Gil-dong is going to do.

It's not clear to me how long it's been since Nok-soo went to the Music Bureau, but based on the King's switch from mourning robes back to his usual red ones, I can accept that he has been getting progressively fed up with the constant kvetching of the Daeguns for a good 2 to 2.5 years before she arrived. Considering that the hollering continued after dark, it reminds me of the continuous bombardment with loud music that has been employed as psychological warfare in more recent years. Long-term sleep deprivation would have been enough to undermine the sanity of a mentally stable person, let alone someone who could well have been constitutionally predisposed to emotional issues owing to nature, nurture, or a combination of the two. Kim Ji-suk has been doing a fine job portraying the unraveling of the King's psyche, especially when he commands the stoking of the fires in the courtyard.

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I am anticipating Young Master Jo's change to come. He seems completely different from the entitled brat that he was.

Song Sabu is just mysterious. You are right about him spewing the same type of hate as Madam Jo. I am sure there is some backstory on him and definitely he has an agenda.

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I agree that Young Master seems to be a far cry from the nasty little twerp who delighted in tormenting Gil-dong, and whose crappy scholastic abilities resulted in Gil-hyun's punishment at the hands of Lord Jo.

Jo Jeong-hak seems to be gung-ho to follow the crowd of sunbaes, whereas Gil-hyun truly seems to be more of an idealist. Ironically, the sunbaes Jeong-hak wants to network with are exactly the kind of bad influences his mother warned him against when she initially discouraged him from getting friendly with Park Ha-sung/Gil-hyun. Hanging out with these guys could literally get him killed.

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I was saying the same thing about Scholar Song and Master Jo's wife before I read your comment. They must be related in some way.

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Great minds again. ;-)

If Song Sabu and Madam Jo are indeed siblings, then a really intriguing question is: Who was their father? And what made them so convinced of their moral superiority?

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That would be amazing. I'm also looking forward to the reunion btw Gil Dong and Gil Hyun. Will be quite the shocker for Gil Hyun. What'll be his reaction? What dormant emotions will it likely awake?

I must have forgotten about the kings childhood. Yeah, once he grew up, he was just a bundle of volatile emotions just simmering beneath the surface.

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@ PakanaPikake

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I want Nok Soo with Gil dong
Ga Ryung is cute but Nok Soo is more appealing

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