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Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 20

While vigilante justice may be completely warranted in these Sugwidan abuse cases, it is technically illegal, which causes problems for our heroes. More importantly, by ignoring the proper channels for justice, our avengers are flaunting disrespect toward the government, the nation, and by extension, the king. Tragedy strikes as Gil-dong and Yeonsangun’s worlds collide, and although the brothers reunite, misfortune is never too far behind. And by the end, we’re left reeling with emotional whiplash from all the sudden events unfolding.

 
EPISODE 20 RECAP

Scholar Song briefs Yeonsangun on Hong Chum-ji’s popularity amongst the people—he tells the monarch that the bandit Hong is stealing the hearts of his citizens.

Deputy Governor Eom calls after Gil-hyun, who hurries away. But as soon as they turn the corner, Gil-hyun presses Eom against the wall, still burning with rage for his betrayal of Amogae and his family all those years ago (when they were first separated). In awe and shock that Gil-hyun is still alive, Eom calls up to the sky for Amogae while Gil-hyun tells him never to refer to his father again.

Then, Deputy Governor Eom tells Gil-hyun that Gil-dong is waiting for him, but when he can’t identify Gil-dong’s precise whereabouts, Gil-hyun thinks that Eom is trying to trick him again. Gil-hyun admits his guilt in deceiving his nation and his king and tells Eom that he can blackmail him all he likes, but he can never mention Gil-dong again in front of him.

Gil-dong and the others are still looking for the mysterious Geo-in that were written about in the Heng-rok. They’re in a town passing by Hanyang, and Soboori suggests that Gil-dong visit his wife. Initially, Gil-dong says he doesn’t have to, but with the smallest of urgings by Soboori and Ilchung, he happily runs to Hanyang to see his beloved.

She’s alone in the house, having fun writing her stories about Hong Chum-ji, when she hears a noise from outside. Initially, she’s scared of potential intruders and takes a bat with her outside. After calling into the dark a couple times, she becomes even more frightened, but then she hears Gil-dong’s voice behind her saying “Honey, I’m home,” and she immediately falls into his embrace.

When they’re back inside, she gazes up at him lovingly and tells him how she wanted to ask him so many questions, but now she’s forgotten everything with him right in front of her. She goes to get him some food and tells him to read her storybook while he waits. He tries to protest, but she shoves the book in his hands and leaves. After just one line, his eyes close, and when he sways back awake, he wonders how a book could be this boring. Ha.

Ga-ryung finds him with his head bowed over the book, fast asleep, and she caresses his face and lays him back in a more comfortable position. When he comes to, she tells him to get some more rest, but he tells her he’s interested in doing something more than sleeping as he pulls her waist toward him. Rawr.

When they’re lying together in the bedcovers, Gil-dong explains to her about his journeys so far. He tells her that although he started this journey to find Eorini, sometimes he forgets his purpose, especially when he sees so many injustices happening to people right in front of him. He says that he gets so angry sometimes that he just wants to destroy everything, and in those situations, the magistrates always blame the king and say that they’re acting under his orders.

Frustrated, Gil-dong wants to have a chat with the king to ask if they really are his wishes. Ga-ryung tells him that everything will be all right if he just calms down, helps the people who need it, and concentrates on finding Eorini. Gil-dong wonders if everything will go back to normal if he does.

Gil-hyun is in charge of a task force to find the Hong bandit, and he decides to go to a specific village, Yeongunjae, where Gil-dong and the Avengers have decided to try their luck. On their way, they encounter a group of people who want to dispute a financial claim with their local government office.

But when the men confront the magistrate, he punishes them for going against the government, and one man is beaten to death for being the ringleader. The magistrate looks only minutely inconvenienced by the death, but rumors on the street say that the man who died was sickly already, ergo it wasn’t the magistrate’s fault. This is a patently false rumor operation to remove blame from the magistrate.

Gil-dong and company decide to go to the magistrate and teach him a lesson. After some wrangling, he gets the truth out of the magistrate and the witnesses, who were initially coerced into providing false testimony about the beating and the false illness. Just as the magistrate is about to be punished by Gil-dong, Gil-hyun and his troops arrive at the gates, here to catch the Hong bandit.

It’s decided that Gil-dong will be the distraction while the others escape, and when he runs, Gil-hyun (who didn’t get a good look at his brother’s face) gets everyone to chase him down. However, when Gil-dong runs into a dead end, he turns around and sees that the officer who wants to arrest him is his own brother.

Gil-hyun is shocked to see Gil-dong alive, but when an assistant officer sees Gil-dong and thinks it’s the Hong bandit, Gil-hyun denies it firmly while his brother makes his escape. A while later, after redirecting his troops elsewhere, he goes back to the dead end and calls for Gil-dong. He appears out of nowhere, and they embrace in a heart-wrenching reunion, but they don’t have much time to talk when the police are still in the area looking for Gil-dong.

The assistant officer tattles on Gil-hyun and tells Jeong-hak that he was sure that he saw the bandit, but Gil-hyun let him go. When they’re in front of the king giving their reports, Jeong-hak tells Yeonsangun about Gil-hyun’s defection and effectively plants a seed of doubt about Gil-hyun in the king’s mind. Later, Jeong-hak speaks with Gil-hyun separately to say that he thinks that he’s changed; he’s not the same man who was a loyalist through and through. Park Ha-sung/Gil-hyun says that while he was willing to sell his family to serve the king, he’s not willing to sell his soul, and he asks whether Jeong-hak is still in possession of his.

Gil-hyun, now realizing that Deputy Governor Eom told the truth about Gil-dong, follows him to Ga-ryung’s house where she is praying for her husband’s safety. Eom asks whether he wants to meet his sister-in-law, but Gil-hyun says that he’ll save that for next time. He confirms that Gil-dong was the one who sent Choongwongoon into exile, and on the streets, he collapses down crying that he wasn’t there for his younger brother when he needed it.

The next day, Gil-hyun starts issuing orders to recall all the troops searching for the Hong bandit. That’s when Jo Jeong-hak barges in to state that he is now taking over Gil-hyun’s investigation because the king was disappointed by him. When Gil-hyun tries to protest this change by pleading with Yeonsangun in private, the king just says that while he knows Gil-hyun is loyal, the lack of progress and incompetence at finding the Hong bandit is still a problem.

So Gil-hyun has no choice but to give over his case, and Jeong-hak’s investigation strategy is to plaster posters of the Avengers in all the town squares and to mandate punishment for anyone who willingly does not report their whereabouts. It becomes difficult for any of the Hong brothers to walk around in public, and eventually, Eop-san and Soboori are caught by Mori, who has tailed them.

Gil-dong is stopped at a gate entry point and is recognized by a guard. He’s chased down a public alleyway where Jeong-hak corners him with a battalion of soldiers, but Gil-dong doesn’t even blink an eye as he promises that he’ll keep all their vital organs intact lest their families at home worry. Strength-wise, they’re no match for him, but he’s outnumbered, and he barely escapes when the townspeople come to help block the soldiers.

Ga-ryung hears about this incident through rumors on the street and is alarmed for a second, thinking that Gil-dong was caught, but she continues on with a relieved smile when she learns that he was not. Meanwhile, Yeonsangun makes incognito rounds through his capital’s streets, and his expression turns dark when he hears rumors praising the Hong bandit, who may or may not be the mythical Mighty Child.

At Scholar Song’s meeting, Mistress Jo wants to tell the king about Gil-dong, his father’s criminality, and the possibility of him being a Mighty Child. However, Scholar Song tells her to wait, adding that they should use another strategy to trap Gil-dong. To the king, Scholar Song suggests that they use Gil-dong’s friends in order to get him to willingly walk into prison with his own two feet.

Yeonsangun—who has become more concerned and angered by the positive street talk regarding the Hong Bandit—agrees, and soon all of the Hong brothers and Deputy Governor Eom are captured. Ga-ryung sees a notice on the public board telling Gil-dong to give himself up, and later that night, he comes to visit.

Ga-ryung prepares him a final meal, and he eats it with seemingly oblivious joy. Then she mentions the public notice, and when he tells her that he’s going to turn himself in, she begins crying. She understands his reasoning and his need to go, but she can’t help but worry. Gil-dong wipes away her tears, telling her that he won’t apologize for anything, because he’s going to come back soon with all of the Hong brothers. He kisses her on the forehead one last time and says goodbye.

Gil-hyun is waiting for Gil-dong, having already prepared an escape route to China for him. But his younger brother tells him that he wants to turn himself in, since he already has a plan in mind.

The following day, Jeong-hak reports that he has captured most of the Hong bandit’s crew, but when Yeonsangun asks about their leader, he cannot reply. Right then, Gil-hyun enters and announces that he’s successfully arrested the famous Hong bandit.

The two girls who may be Eorini watch as Gil-dong walks into the palace, one feeling sorry for the bandit and the other getting the sense that he’s familiar to her. They then hurry to Nok-soo’s room where they tell her about the capture of the bandit, and hearing that he may or may not be a Mighty Child, she immediately thinks of Gil-dong. She rushes out to see whether it is the man she fell in love with and confirms with her own eyes that it is the very same Gil-dong.

In the interrogation courtyard, Gil-dong is strapped to a chair, while Yeonsangun himself presides over the proceedings with Gil-hyun by his side. When Gil-hyun commands the Hong bandit to confess everything, Gil-dong just introduces himself, and the king’s eyes narrow.

 
COMMENTS

All right folks, let’s unpack this situation—Gil-dong is now captured in the palace, which is packed full of royal soldiers willing to kill him on Yeonsangun’s command. Choongwongoon, Jeong-hak, and Scholar Song, who all have the ear of the king, want Gil-dong to be punished in the worst way possible while his band of avenging vigilantes are stuck in prison as well. There seems to be no way out, although Gil-dong seems to have an ace up his sleeve. What could it be? Does he turn to Eunuch Kim, who was his main contact point in his moonshining venture to replenish the treasury coffers? Or does he have the dethroned queen’s handwritten letter? Will Nok-soo attempt to save Gil-dong from her current lover, or will she pretend not to know him in order to save herself?

One of the other things I wanted to know was why Yeonsangun is so hung up on the Hong bandit now. Even a couple episodes ago during his conversation with Nok-soo, it almost seemed like he didn’t care whether a random folk hero was going around beating the Sugwidan. Initially, during the start of his reign, he was concerned about the opinion of his court, but after his first purge, it seemed like Yeonsangun stopped caring about anyone else’s thoughts, whether they be noblemen or his common citizens. He even said at one point that it was only himself and his wishes that mattered because he was was chosen divinely as king, while everyone else is equally base in comparison. So I’m not sure why he would suddenly become invested in this case about a commoner thief who poses no threat to his social authority. Perhaps the rumors regarding the divinity of a Mighty Child scared him into thinking that a usurpation might be possible.

Speaking of Mighty Children, what’s going on with Mori? We didn’t see much of him during the episode, but the shaman said that a Mighty Child will die unless he uses his god-given talents for good. Gil-dong has been using his powers for vigilante justice so I’m assuming his life span has been restored to the norm. Since Gil-dong and Mori are on different sides, does this mean that will one of them die? Clearly, Mori is on the wrong side of this social hierarchical power issue, and he’s also a murderer, so shouldn’t the powers have abandoned him by this point? What’s making them return? Is he secretly a double spy (because that would be an awesome plot twist)?

On a different note, Gil-hyun is just a bundle of contradictions that I don’t understand. At his core, he loves his family, so when Gil-dong showed up, he immediately changed his priorities so that his brother came first. He even lied to the king and tried to help his brother escape punishment. However, just a few episodes ago, he had a fanatical bent when it came to blind loyalty to Yeonsangun, only now he’s revised his position 180 degrees and rarely is seen with his mentor Scholar Song—although, to be fair, they haven’t really had a direct conflict with each other yet.

At least Jeong-hak had a reason to change his position and suddenly become best buddies with Choongwongoon over their shared hatred of Gil-dong and his father. I’m almost at a point where I feel like I should stop trying to understand Gil-hyun as a character and accept that he’s just a convenient plot device. I wish he had met up with Ga-ryung when he had the opportunity to do so before Gil-dong’s arrest, because then they could have become a team to help our hero break out of prison. Mostly because I appreciate when dramas have side characters making important contributions so that it’s not just the lone hero always seeming to carry the entire weight of the world’s fate on his shoulders.

 
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I think Gil-hyun's evolving loyalties do make sense; in the beginning, he was focused on his newly obtainable dream of being a scholar and directly supporting the king, the highest honor he could have. But then he saw the corruption and moral weakness of those around him so he became more focused on the peoples' needs and steering the king toward those priorities. Now he knows he's not alone in the world again and of course he's going to choose his family over anything else after all the hell he's gone through.

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I agree. I thought Gil Hyun's evolving loyalties make senses and I've never thought of him as just a plot device. Maybe all the hints were too subtle? I mean when he argued with Jung Hak about the case of the husband murdering his wife, I thought it's kinda obvious that his heart is in the right place. Then when the king invited him to the banquet thing in the palace, you can see from his expression that he disagree with whatever is going on.
And I never doubt for even a second that he won't choose GilDong over the King, etc. As you said, he became a scholar because he thought he was already left alone in this world. He still has the ideals/values that he learnt from Ahmogae, and now he has GilDong again, he can also fight for whatever he believes in, which helping the people...

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I agree
Family is always number One for Hong family no matter what the situation is,
Maybe Gilhyun chose to be in government at last to make his father's dream come true that ahmogae want him to be An officer
And as an officer,of course he would like' to give his best for the king
Hehe sorry for my bad English,

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I never thought Gil Hyun lost sight of who he was, his sense of values and loyalties the moment he became a scholar. I have disagreed with the recapper episodes ago on this.

Gil Hyun had always dreamed about being a scholar, it's just that his status wouldn't let him be one. When fate and opportunity came along, especially after he thought he lost everyone and all he had, I don't blame him for taking someone else's identity to pursue his dream.

I suppose like any new blood, he was full of lofty ideals to serve the King and uphold the so called values. Until they all fell apart one by one, in front of his eyes, including his mentor Song.

Like you, I also see that he is slowly becoming more disillusioned with the King. I guess when he finally met Gil Dong and learnt of how people were really suffering while the King couldn't care less and even contributed to the suffering, there was absolutely no question of where his loyalties lie.

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I enjoyed this episode. The moment of brothers' reunion was damn touching! Ga-ryung's crying also makes my heart break oh no.. Although sometimes I can't understand Gil-hyun, I love how Gil-hyun still puts his family on first and decides to do whatever to cover for Gil-dong. Can't wait for the next one since I'm curious what Gil-dong plans to save himself and also if Nok-soo is going to do something about this. Wish to see more scenes of Mori though.

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Am I the only one who is impressed by Gil-hyun's acting when he confronts Magistrate Eom? That look of anger-shock-doubt-back to anger again on his face was so on point. And, am I the only one who is distracted by Jeong-hak's eyes? I think his pupils are larger than an average person's and they look so black too. I kept trying to see if he's wearing lenses lol.

More than the reunion scene (finally!) my heart breaks when Gil-hyun cries because he realises he's not been by his brother's side when he was planning for Choongwongun's exile (aww you can just be by his side now, Gil-hyun!) and then my heart breaks harder seeing Ga-ryung putting up a brave face in front of her husband but breaking down in tears as soon as Gil-dong leave (sobs!).

I'm curious how Gil-dong will wiggle himself free from the palace as well. More importantly, if he does not "die" now, when will we see Ga-ryung enters the palace as a gisaeng to get her revenge?

/One of the other things I wanted to know was why Yeonsangun is so hung up on the Hong bandit now./

Well, clearly, he was shaken by Song sabu's words and his incognito travel when he found out the people are worshipping Hong bandit instead of him. For someone who categorizes everyone else except himself as subjects, will he stays still if the very same subjects treat someone else as their king?

For me, Gil-hyun's changing sides now is totally understandable. I am not well versed in Confucianism but I know that prior to him entering the palace, he was educated "properly". It's only when he found out the King's erratic behaviour/problem with the caste system later that Song sabu scoffed and tells him that being a pillar of the nation means that the King is always right, the nobles are above everyone else, yada yada... The only act he did fully supporting the King was capturing Choongwongun.

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Oh crap. I don't know why/how I deleted the comment. My computer acted on its own I tell you. To repeat:-

I'm impressed as well. I think the actor playing Gil Hyun is surprisingly good - he's been very believable this whole time, whether as a thug, a scholar, a morally upright official or an older brother.

Gil Hyun's character is the most dynamic out of all in the show. And the actor has deftly carried forward the same person, the same personality, the same central core through each change. Good job, you.

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I, too, have been appreciating Sim Hee-Seop's performance as Gil-hyun. He believably portrays the character's various facets with the same kind of vibe emitted by his child actor counterpart.

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Yeah, Garyung's crying was so cute and sad. Like Gildong said Garyung is really strong, even when she is afraid she doesn't hesitate to protect herself or others, so to see her breakdown hurt my heart. I don't know if this counts as a spoiler, but in an interview Chae Soobin said that now she gets to go to the palace and be with Lee Hanui and the ladies, so I guess we are getting to Garyung's initial character description. I wonder what will bring make her to decide to go to the palace.

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Me too! I've been impressed with Sim Hee-seop's acting since the episode where he found out about Soo Hak's true identity. He can pull emotional/angry/shocked scenes really well.

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The reunion between the brothers was so touching and sad. But boys, find and save your Eorini soon... Although we at this point still not really sure which one is the real Eorini.

I think the reason why Yeonsangun is more interested with the Hong bandits in this epi, because he heard on his own about people's talk in the market place. - Especially when they said they are more curious with Hong's face instead of King and when they mentioned about the Mighty Child. As we all know, the King is very sensitive, and in his conversation with Noksoo last epi, we can know how scary he can become if someone wants to be equal or above him. By this talk, he already knows how influential Hong among the ppl, and he is scared and jealous with Gil dong's influence.

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GAH I wonder why they are dragging the Eorini mystery for so long. I trust the writer so there must be a reason but I'm not super patient ?

I also agree with you about Yeonsangun's sudden interest with the Hong bandits. We know that he's one narcissistic butt so it makes sense that when he's not in the center of everyone's universe he's going to make himself the center by getting rid of whatever pushed him off his pedestal. He didn't think much of them at first but once he notices that they get more attention and reverence than he does as king, the Hong bandits are definitely putting a damper on his expectations of being the pinnacle of reverence

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Love this episode ! A touching reunion for the Hong brother but a goodbye between Gil Dong and Ga Ryung. I clutched my heart while watching it, there's just too many feels I cried :')

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I seriously have NO idea how GilDong is planning on getting out of the palace alive… I have all my trust in the writer to have something up her sleeve but why do I get the feeling that GilDong is going to fake die REALLL soon??? Sigh… my heart already hurts for what’s ahead for GaRyumg ??

I understand the concern with Mori’s Mighty Child arc, but I think there is a simple explanation to this. First of all, I think the Mighty Child thing is more than just brute strength by the way GilDong was warned by that moodang. Of course we know that if you use your powers wrongly, then you won’t be able to live out your full life and no mention of how your life would be shortened. And I think Mori’s case is the same case with GilDong’s. GilDong’s power was awakened early on and he misused his abilities and shrewdness to make a lot of money instead of using it for the good of the people yet he hasn’t died yet. In the same way, Although he’s going full on bad mode, Mori’s powers were just recently awakened so I think there is still some time for him before death… I mean GilDong has been misusing his powers for over 4 years and is JUST starting to try using his powers for good. Here’s to hoping that Mori ends up on the good side in the end so we don’t see that pretty face die!!!

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Me too, he probably exchange his life for the rest of his gang to be let free, somehow he will fake is death with Gil Hyun's help.

I think Gil Dong just really want to ask the King face to face the questions he had whether those magistrates are acting out the king's wishes and orders by scrutinising the people.

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I see the king as someone who is an egomaniac crippled with an inferiority complex. He thinks of himself as "divine" and being above everything else. That, in itself, is already bad enough but  he also craves the respect and reverence from everyone. The scholars questioned his decision and he purged them. He continues to have these grand banquets to prove his "greatness." Even as he said he doesn't care about how others see him, he obviously wants to be seen as a "great" leader. He has a very big but fragile ego. The Eunuch takes great pain just to keep him happy and sane. (He kinda sounds like a world leader who's always on the news lately, doesn't he?)

And now, the mere thought of someone else being revered by the people, who might be more powerful than him, that triggers all of his insecurities. For this reason, it would be strangely out of character if he won't strike against the "thief" Hong.

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I see the king as someone who is an egomaniac crippled with an inferiority complex. -- That's an apt "nutshell" description of Yeonsangun.

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(He kinda sounds like a world leader who's always on the news lately, doesn't he?)

It's rather terrifying that fictional easily-swayed egomaniac Yeonsangun of Rebel isn't even THAT far off from the modern version, just saying. Complete with the petty despot tendencies, enabling advisers, whims and fancies, and extravagant bankrupt-the-nation tastes.

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Asked for a proper closure to Gonghwa/Gildong and I do end up getting one, whether I still want it or not hahahuhu

Writernim sure knows how to tease us just enough for max angst (e.g. Hong brothers reunion; what will Noksu do now?; two Eorinis; the Mighty Child(ren) lore; Garyung's impending widowhood)

If I'm counting the passing years right, we're due for the Second Literati Purge which imo sounds right for the ride in store for the audience with the number of episodes remaining. Let's do this.

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@PakalanaPikake: I think I'm not going to write for a while. I have to get used to the "new" dramabeans. I don't feel familiar with it yet. So I will just finish what I started in very short sentences. I'll leave Heo Gyun out, because despite being an interesting figure, he and the whole discussion wether Hong Gil-dong was written by him or is an 18th century novel are not really important for that drama except the things I already mentioned.

The "Book of Changes" is one of the main materials for Confucianism and Taoism. It basically is an oracle explanation book. Like a Tarot reading book that explains Tarot and archetypes for psychoanalytical purposes only even more complex. It is a book about situations, but more than that it is a book about how decisions change situations/the human being; how different decisions lead to different situations.
In the drama you have reoccuring situations that are followed by slightly different decisions. Take for example Amogae's murder of Lord Cho and Gil-dong remembering his father's words and NOT murdering prince Choongwon. (It's by the way a situation from the novel that was split. Gil-dong kills the assassin and the shaman who plotted to take his life but when he wants to kill the last person involved in the plot he remembers his dad and refrains.)
I have only one time seen an attempt to directly compare situations from the "Book of Changes" with the Hong Gil-dong story and that was in a children's book (Anne Sibley O'Brien's "The Legend of Hong Kil Dong"). It honestly doesn't make much sense to me to try it, because as I said before even if the Hong Gil-dong cheon was written by Heo Gyun, the textes that we have wouldn't exactly match his text anymore. Still it would be amusing if you could see what she wrote about the chapter we are now. Especially if it come to Mo-ri...

Another important thing:
I'm not quite sure if I mentioned this before but the idea of Hong Gil-dong as a revolutionist who wanted to overturn the class system of the confucian society is highly discussed.
This discussion half starts from the fact that in some versions he is turning his robbers to righteous thieves rather late and is even reprimanding people for going over their status. His becoming head of the robbers is sometimes a part of the story of his own personal grudge. He is helping people but he is trying to build a better society only after his personal grudge is resolved and only after he questioned the king (as it is assumed to have been King Sejong while we have King Yeonsan here, the drama will differ from the novel). His ideal society is in the first line a society without corruption and misuse of power, not a non-confucian society.

That brings me to point three: this drama is kind of an allegory of recent political happenings. That partially explains some of the weird things happening in this drama. The part with the leaked information and the alcohol business. The different...

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Liina, I'm glad to see you here! Thank you for your detailed long posts in recaps 18 and 19. The later ones I didn't get to respond to before the cutover. I'm a little thrown with the changes in the commenting, especially the apparent loss of line breaks and paragraph breaks. Yikes, it looks like we're stuck with run-on blobs of text, which are hard to read. -- Thanks for all the HGD background. Just knowing that some of the original characters have been split into multiple characters is very useful. As is your information on the I Ching, with which I am acquainted, but only in a passing fashion. Now I know to watch out for parallel occurrences in which someone chooses to act differently from someone else, or from an earlier version of the same event. That really catches my attention. -- As for the discussion of HGD as a revolutionary, I've always had the sense that he's "just folks" who wants to live like a human rather than an animal. He didn't start out to overthrow the government or upset the Cosmic Applecart -- but owing to the attitudes, actions, and policies of the scholars, nobles, and king, he and the Hongs can't just live their lives in peace when they are surrounded by such blatant injustice. To me the irony is that, in seeking to create a Confucian Utopia, Song Sabu has gloriously succeeded in creating hell on earth for everyone. When Gil-hyun asks Jeong-hak if he's sold his soul, he could as easily have been posing that question to the King and the yangban ministers, just as Gil-dong tells Ga-ryung that he'd like to be able to ask the King some questions. -- There is much food for thought in both the drama and the folk tale on which it is based. Many thanks again for revealing the deeply philosophical underpinnings of the novel on which this drama is based. ;-)

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Sadly my comment was cut short and I was the to frustrated about it. To write everything again.
I wanted to say that I think - since this is a political allegory - mostly all of the characters in this drama represents the people that are trying to adept to a society full of corruption and misuse of power. Till it will be too much and they will rise like tigers like Heo Gyun said... So Hong Gil-dong is the people and the people are Hong Gil-dong.

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Repeatedly we encounter characters who do their utmost to conform themselves to the corrupt conditions of the system. HGD is like that, and is actually very patient and accepting of a lot of crappy treatment because of the social norms. But he thinks deeply about the discrepancies and double standards -- for years and years. And even then, what he wants most to do is to ask the king if he really knew about the Sugwidans' horrid behavior, or whether he ordered the government finance offices to charge usurious interest rates. He really wants to believe that the king is a sage monarch rather than a decadent, cruel yangban with serious emotional problems. He's about to get a rude awakening.

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Exactly. Gil-dong and Gil-hyun both sincerely believed that the king was above the corruption and injustices of his political and administrative system, or at least that he wasn't directly responsible for them. Gil-hyun channelled that into becoming an official, Gil-dong into the belief that coming clean would actually make the king side with him and not the Sugwidan members.

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@pogo: So glad to see you here!

Yes! Like Fox Mulder, they really wanted to believe that the king was good, just, and wise. We haven't seen the true extent of the king's corrupt nature -- yet. He was so put upon by the carping scholars and scheming yangban, and so obviously screwed up by his family issues, that we've not yet gotten a gander at his truly disgusting personality or behavior.

On the other hand, there is honor among thieves -- and brotherhood, loyalty, and devotion. The Hong clan is family in the best sense of the word, and the unswerving love and commitment they share -- even as they bicker with and fuss at each other -- will come as a revelation to their adversaries -- and the people whose causes they champion. They argue with Gil-dong and try to dissuade him from what they consider to be unnecessary diversions from finding Eorini, even as they know that they can't stop him. But at least they try reining him in, and then fully support him despite their misgivings. The trust is mutual, and is a given -- like breathing air.

Except for Eunuch Kim, who is truly devoted to him, the King is surrounded by a pack of fawning yes-men intent on amassing their own wealth and influence. Song Sabu and his Stepford Scholar disciples are united by their fanaticism, not by any kind of true interpersonal caring. Mori has thrown in his lot with Choongwongoon, who hasn't changed one iota underneath his pious window dressing.

The Hongs' identity as family all stems back to Amogae and his "just because" reasons for helping Soboori escape the police not once but twice all those years ago -- even after he was double-crossed by Soboori and Yonggae during the food heist. I truly never expected that partnership to turn out the way it has, and it is touching to see it continue with his sons. Just as Song Sabu considered himself to be a fine judge of (desperate) character, Amogae was a keen judge of character as well. But he gave the benefit of the doubt, and that is what set him apart from the other leaders in the drama. Amogae forgave betrayals, some of them not so minor, and rose above them -- winning undying devotion in the process. Gil-dong does the same thing when Yonggae and Segul leave the band out of fear, but then prevent Footstool's cover from being blown in Hanyang. He releases Mori for the same reason: "just because." I have a feeling that he sees something in Mori that Mori himself is unaware of.

I'm beginning to wonder if being a Mighty Child might involve some kind of power of perception, or special insight into other people, because both Amogae and Gil-dong have it. If that is so, it might explain those funny looks Shorty the Mat Salesman gave Gil-dong. And the ones Mori gave Ga-ryung, too. I've never thought of Mori as being smitten with her so much as recognizing something familiar about her. That's why I've posited that she might be a long-lost sibling. (Or maybe she's a Mighty Child herself, and...

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@pogo, continued: (Or maybe she's a Mighty Child herself, and it takes one to know one! HAR!)

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By the way, you probably noticed that as well. Six Flying Dragons is a little bit similar to Hong Gil-dong. It's not a story about an actual political event but it delves deep into meta politics. The idea of the Six Flying Dragons is inspired by the "Demi Gods and Semi Devils" novel by Jin Young. Though I'm not quite sure if it also uses the spirits/half goods from Hindu und Buddhist mythology like the Demi Gods novel. I think the characters of SFD are taken from the archetypes. They also stand in for different types of political entities.

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Bang-won as the King/Father that is too strong. Lee Seong-gye as the King/Father that is too weak. Boon-yi as the Queen/Mother as she should be. Jeong Do-jeon as the Magician? - Lady Min as the Queen/Mother that is too strong? - Bang-ji as the Lover that is hindered by a mother complex, Moo-hyul as the Warrior, later as the true Warrior (by the way it's not loyality what turns the warrior into the true warrior but the following of his own mind - haha Yoon Kyun-sang alway seems to play tiger characters...;)). Did you know that Bang-ji's Swordfighter name is in most subs not so well translated? It should be "Magpie Viper". The Magpie in Korea not only is a symbol for Lovers (as the magpies builds the bridge that connects herdboy and weaving girl) but also for victims. Bangji is a political victim but also a venoumos element in the state. He is also a person that is politically frustrated and desillusioned. Boon-yi is a citizen who actively takes part in political affairs. Moo-hyul is a citizen with a feeling for his political responsibility. A voter. Bang-won is probably a little bit a populistic politician. Jeong Do-jeon is a deep thinker when it comes to politics but he fails to make his ideas understandable for people who have no political knowledge. Most of his politics are far reaching and future orientated and the effects and the benefits can't be immediately seen by the populace.

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@liina: My head is spinning! I had no idea there is so much allegory and archetype woven into SIX FLYING DRAGONS. (Thank you, Wikipedia, for bailing me out!) It's really ironic if Buddhist cosmology is actually the basis for characters in a drama set in the Goryeo Dynasty, which disavowed Buddhism as the state religion. -- I'm mainly familiar with Western/Jungian archetypes, with a smattering of Hindu deities and supernatural beings. I found the following article interesting: Tian Long Ba Bu: Not just a Jin Yong novel -- http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/culture/2016-04/25/content_24828484.htm

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Oops! This is what I get for staying up too late. Let me fix that:

It's really ironic if Buddhist cosmology is actually the basis for characters in a drama set in the Goryeo Joseon Dynasty, which disavowed Buddhism as the state religion.

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@Liina and @pakainapikake Lovely to see you both here! I've been enjoying reading your comments and and discussion related to the Hong Gil Dong novel.

I wanted to write a reply, but I have a very limited time constraint this week. In a nutshell, when you mentioned about 3 part novel, it hit me that that is what we see with this drama now and why the writer decided to go for 30 episodes instead of the usual 20 or 50 episodes. I think each 10 episodes part actually trying to follow the main arch of each novel. Anyway just a thought.

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Oops. Sorry that I misspelled your name @pakalanapikake

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@latteholic: Glad you made it across with the rest of us. ;-) -- Not to worry about my handle. I always used PakalanaPikake to make it easier to read. Both are Hawaiian names for lei flowers. Pakalana = Telosma cordata, "Chinese violet" -- which is not a violet at all, but a vine with chartreuse flowers. Pikake = Jasminum sambac ("Arabian jasmine" in English, specifically such varieties as Belle of India and Maid of Orleans). It was dubbed "peacock" by Princess Ka'iulani. Also known as "sampaguita," the national flower of the Philippines. ;-)

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@latteholic, @liina: Liina really outdid herself with all that great information on the novel and its structure, and the ways in which Writer-nim has split the characters in this drama. I think that dividing the characters was a canny move because it lends itself so well to setting up parallels between them -- to better portray both sides of the same coin (Gil-hyun vs. Jeong-hak; Gil-dong vs. Mori; Nok-soo vs. Ga-ryung). I'm also seeing Gil-hyun vs. Song Sabu, Gil-dong vs. Yeonsangun, Gil-dong vs. Amogae, and Amogae vs. Madam Jo. As Liina mentioned, there's an allegorical aspect to the drama as well, and I think that is well served by having the contrasts between the characters. -- On the other hand, even the burgeoning tyrant Yeonsangun has been portrayed with sympathetic aspects. Up through this episode, he is far from being a standard-issue cardboard villain. He still comes across as rational. His banquets are decadent for a time of famine, but not orgiastic. Maybe he saves that behavior for closed doors. Or perhaps Writer-nim is choosing to make it less sensational (and more family friendly). In this episode we've finally seen the king in green-eyed monster mode over his subjects' praise for Chief Hong's defeat of the barbarian invaders. Mori is also portrayed sympathetically. -- I think you're right about the original novel's 3-parts being spread across 30 episodes. I went back and rewatched episode 10. In it, HGD rediscovered his strength through his grief over his lost siblings, which Amogae witnessed. Dad told him to follow a different path, and not become a killer. HGD later remembered Dad's words when he was about to kill Choongwongoon in Hanyang, and decided to frame him instead. Gil-hyun hears that his family is dead, and returns to Song Sabu to study. Gong Hwa privately dances a Buddhist rite for Yeonsangun. Mori is left behind at the silver mine, and will soon directly join forces with Choongwongoon. By episode 20, HGD's revenge has met unforeseen obstacles, and he has gradually and reluctantly become a champion of the people.

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I haven't loved so many characters in a drama since ages! They are all interesting. That drama is just great in so many ways! The many, many ideas of the writer, the thought through romances, the emotional touching scenes, the directing, the music, the well done action scenes - It's sad that the many ideas the writer has seem to be a hindrance to the flow of the story and that people have problems to connect to it. I so wish that drama would be more popular!

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@liina: If you haven't seen Writer-nim's earlier sageuk, THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SU BAEK-HYANG, I highly recommend it. It is populated with memorable characters. I see so many parallels between these dramas -- but do not mean to imply that REBEL is merely recycled from the earlier show. KDSBH has oodles of heart, and a bunch of kickass female characters in addition to the heroine. The cinematography is lovely. The ensemble cast is terrific. 108 episodes, but they're 35 minutes or so. Seo Hyun-jin is phenomenal in the acting range her character calls for. Joseon could have really used a King Muryeong and Crown Prince Myung-Nong. They're a pair of righteous monarchs Gil-dong could have supported wholeheartedly. ;-)

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Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not very fluent in English so I probably used the wrong words. I didn't mean the three parts in actual three parts. More like: the literati structure the story of the novel in three parts. I totally agree with you, I also think that the writer dedicated 10 episodes for each part!

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@liina: I wanted to mention a dandy article (two of them, actually) from the still eating oranges blog on kishōtenketsu four-act plot structure without conflict. If it wasn't suggested to me in a discussion in the OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN recaps last year, then I think I searched on the Japanese term and located it myself, and found it to be really interesting. I'm giving the link to a follow-up article because it contains a pointer to the original article ("The significance of plot without conflict"). I think it's relevant to REBEL. Many comments have expressed frustration with the show's pacing, lack of forward movement, gratuitous events and needless development of minor characters, etc. I think that's because, with a title like REBEL, we're all expecting a juicy, conflict-filled plot in three acts, and the show isn't unfolding that way. -- There's a lot of good food for thought in the articles. I'm hoping they shed light on what's been transpiring in REBEL. Enjoy! -- still eating oranges blog: "Plot structure all the way down" -- http://stilleatingoranges.tumblr.com/post/53045164430/plot-structure-all-the-way-down

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I probably won't be posting for a while. I am not getting used to the new dramabeans as quickly as I'd like and I don't like the public comments wall feature. But anyway, just wanted to say this episode really got the story moving. I did not expect two big developments: brothers reunion (finally!), and Nok-Soo seeing Gil Dong again. As to which is the real Eurini, pfff, I'm beyond caring about that.

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I'm glad to know you're still around. As for myself, I'm experiencing learning-curve issues as well. I'm also enough of a dyed-in-the-wool Luddite -- and proud of it -- that I don't know what a comments wall is, or why I would want one. ;-) -- I'm with you re: the fraternal reunion as well as Nok-soo's gobsmacked expression upon seeing Gil-dong trussed up in red rope. The amount of forward movement in this episode was significant. -- I'm still chuckling over the Ep. 19 sendup of Chunhyang, with Yonggae sporting the first-place scholar's gat complete with flowery "antennas" harking back to Lee Mong-ryong. I about fell out of my chair every time he reached between them to push them out of the way so he could see. LOL! -- Also, during the Escape of the Hong Drag Queens, Eopsan flirted with the soldiers. He easily was the prettiest of the bunch, and the wink he gave the guards at the checkpoint was outrageous. -- It took me a while to realize that at the end of Ep. 19 when HGD held up the little toddler, he looked just like Amogae holding up his infant son and daughter. The contrast between HGD and the King with his bird of prey was stark. It felt like foreshadowing to me, and not of the happy kind.

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@WishfulToki - That's too bad. I respect your decision but I will miss your comments.

Agreed with you on the episode. About time the brothers met - I was starting to not care about their meeting as well! And about Eh Ri Ni, I no longer care either.

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i cried so much when gilhyun finally met gildong omg TT this show seriously hits all the right notes for me, i started late and recently caught up and my heart has just been on a nonstop rollercoaster ride aahhh can't wait for the brothers to find eorini so that they can take over the world together :')

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"One of the other things I wanted to know was why Yeonsangun is so hung up on the Hong bandit now"

The King doesn't care about the Hong bandits stealing from his people or beating up the Sugwidan. He only sat up and took notice when Scholar Song told him how his people were singing praises of Hong Cham Ji and stealing their hearts.

Since he is a narcissist who also suffers from inferiority complex, he cannot stand the idea of having anyone who is held in greater respect than him or more loved than he is.

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he brothers Reunion was quite touching..
Right now gil hyun is the one that is suffering the most among all the characters, he's stuck on both sides, very confused, not knowing which one he should put first, we might say he'll put his family first but are we also thinking of the pain, suffering that it'll will bring him because of the position he is right now? any siding or helping his bro will only mark him a traitor *deep sigh*

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Remember in earlier episodes when Gil Dong didn't have access to his strength yet, there was a part where Gil Hyun led the Hong bros in an epic battle defending Amogae. I hope something like that happens again soon. Very soon. Seriously, Gil Dong, if you are planning to fake your death because you all are seriously outnumbered in the palace, and you didn't tell GaRyung this...we need to talk.

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The pacing and structure of this show is a bit odd, but I appreciate the way it's examining how people tend to defend and accept social structures as "just the way things are" even if they're being oppressed and dehumanized by them. I also like the narrative symmetry of exploring what happens when both someone at the very top of the system (the king) and someone at the very bottom (Gil Dong) both start questioning the system's validity at the exact same time. I'm curious to see how this will play out, although I do wish the overall pacing would pick up. I agree with other commentators that it's going to be hard to give this a satisfactory narrative arc with only 10 episodes remaining.

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Thanks, tineybeanie, for the recap! -- I cannot imagine what kind of plan to liberate his brothers HGD has up his sleeve. But it must have sounded feasible to Gil-hyun or he would not have gone along with it. -- I had great misgivings when Gil-hyun passed on Deputy Governor Eom's offer to introduce him to Ga-ryung. As soon as he said he'd meet her next time, all I could think was, "There won't be a next time."

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I just want to say that I enjoyed this episode so very much. The brothers' reunion made me cry ugly tears (or maybe beautiful heartfelt tears - can't tell that myself) and then Noksoo's realization about the thief's identity. I also loved the part where the people on the market actually joined forces to break out Gil Dong from the soldiers. I guess it's safe to say that the remaining 10 episodes will finally reach where the synopsis left us with.
The only thing that bothered me about this episode is the flashbacks! I think Uhrini and GilDong are not the only people who are having temporary amnesia attack, the director seems to forgot that he just showed us the same flashbacks in the previous episode.

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I too loved the scene when people helped Gil Dong to escape, his expression when he struted away like a boss was so priceless :)

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Thanks for the recap! I'm not sure about everyone else, but I felt that the stories of the people that the Hong Avengers were shown helping were kind of short. I feel like we're being repeatedly just told that they help people and people love them, instead of seeing it for ourselves. Those people they featured weren't enough. Perhaps because they've been successful so far, so it happens very quickly?

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Oh and I still want to know how child Gil Dong got out of the forest alive. Did he use his powers of strength to defeat the tiger? But I remember a scene of him sitting calmly next to the tiger. Why? Then when he uses his powers his eyes gleam like those of the tiger. (did he eat the tiger and absorb its spirit? HA, I'm just kidding). He might have used his powers because as we've seen, adult Gil Dong gets amnesia too when he exerts himself.

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I'm still wondering what went down in the bamboo forest when Gil-dong was sent on his boyhood suicide mission by Madam Jo. I recall the boy peacefully sitting beside the tiger. He brought back the branch of blossoming apricot (or was it peach?) just as she ordered. Did the apricot/peach blossoms protect him on the way back? The way Madam Jo and her son carried on was pitiful. -- Gil-dong's eyes glowed green when he suddenly recovered from near-fatal wounds and rescued Eorini from their attackers. Now that I think about it, that was the first and only time. It didn't occur when he defended Ga-ryung during the attack on Amogae's funeral procession. Is this a clue that the pine tree on Mt. Jiri is no longer supporting him? When he regains his right relationship with power, maybe his eyes will glow green again. -- Mori's eyes have not glowed green, so I'm not sure what to think. Maybe he never had the opportunity to meet a tiger -- or Sanshin (Mountain Spirit). Also, he was not protecting someone. -- The last image on this page is of Painting of Sanshin Mountain-spirit at Jiri-san Hwaeom-sa Monastery:
https://sacredsites.com/asia/korea/sanshin.html

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I don't know what happened to the green eyes, but his eyes have a blue shimmer in the scene when he shoots Ga-ryung and also in the next episode. And I'm trying to figure out since episode 1 if it is just a reflection of contact lenses or if it is supposed to mean something, lol.

I think his eyes glew green to show that the heavenly sprit that is merged with him is not a winged horse (as in the original mighty child stories) but a tiger spirit.
Gil-dong is saying about himself that he has the strength of a bear and the speed of a tiger (though a tiger in asia is representing strength and power als well...). There is a time when he is learning in the mountain and in some of the picture books, it is often said that he is learning from a mountain spirit (I don't know if there is a connection to any of the older text versions).

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I'm commenting on my comment not to make a text wall and not to get cut off. I don't know how many words we are allowed to use in one comment... - Storywise that tiger mountain trip of Gil-dong probably equals his fight as a young boy with the assassin Teuk-jae where he summoned his heavenly powers for the first time? - I don't know either. Could also be a reference to the old King's/great leader's stories, where the children that were meant to be king/great leader were not harmed by wild creatures. See Jumong and others.

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Teuk-jae by the way is also splitted in different persons. The tigers in the mountain, Mo-ri, Heo Tae-hak. And Mo-ri mirrors Gil-dong and Amogae. Not only because he is a mighty child but also in his decision making. I love how the story toys with choices, freedom of choice, consequences of decissions and responsibility.

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I didn't know there was an assassin in the story. Interesting. I can easily see how that character could be morphed into Mori, Heo Tae-hak, and the tiger.

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I recall that the tiger's eyes were definitely green, and Gil-dong's matched the tiger's. Which is interesting because the semiprecious stone "tiger eye" is usually a golden color. -- I think you're right about the mountain spirit merging with him, and suspect that is why he loses consciousness. Maybe if he'd been older when he met the tiger, his nervous system might have been better able to withstand it.

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I love your idea about Gil-dong just having eaten the tiger! We know that he has a great appetite! :D

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Not to mention the belief that crops up in various cultures that eating the heart of a vanquished worthy opponent gives that person's strength, bravery, etc., to the one doing the eating.

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i really enjoyed this whole episode. honestly, from the fluff to the angst, the gil-ryung couple never cease to amuse me. I'm so deeply immersed in this drama and made an account in dramabeans just to specifically comment and join the discussions after, reading so many other discussions on the past episodes. gah. I'm actually really curious to this whole idea of gil-dong faking his death without ga-ryung's knowing, making her a widow who soon pursues to avenge gil-dong's "death". Like, one comment that i read says that she may become one of the king's woman and the thought that comes through my mind is how is she gonna do that when she has a scar on her shoulder + she's a widow. Like, there's so many things? that I'm honestly curious about. I like how this is progressing honestly i'm anticipating the next episode on monday. *^*)

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i have a hunch that gil dong and mori are twins. remember on the first episode that they are burrying a baby. it maybe mori whom they thought is dead. they are both mighty child from same parents. things get interesting.

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What will happen in episode 21 is that hong gill dong will show is power to the king and ask him to let him go far away with his men then they will go to a place far enough and build small kingdom and he will thief the people which is rebel

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Write a comment...great movie

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The king is now concerned about the Hong bandits because of the title haha Gil-dong is helping those in the lower caste winning their hearts, the king also wanted that to happen even though he does not care about his people he still wanted to be the King that is being liked by his people. Then about Gil-hyun, he changed after he was left alone, then when he found his family again. Of course he will change to protect his family. The scenes are really amazing.

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