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Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 22

Oh man, these Rebel writers are bloodthirsty like you won’t believe. It’s all the gore I enjoy in Game of Thrones brought to me in K-drama format. Halfway through watching this episode, I was like, Do you know you’re on public television? And then I immediately thought, Please don’t realize it anytime soon, because the savage viewer in me is fascinated by all the violence. I know it’s horrible, but I can’t seem to tear my eyes from the screen.

 
EPISODE 22 RECAP

A broken and battered Gil-dong is strung up to a post in the public square outside the palace gates. Taking pity on him, one of the Eorini girls holds a gourd of water to his lips while her internal dialogue says that she thinks it’s the most pitiful thing in the world to see someone dying of thirst. The other Eorini girl looks on with huge eyes and hurries her friend to leave.

Meanwhile in the palace, Mistress Jo tells Yeonsangun about the letter that his mother, the deposed Queen Yun, had left behind to a select group of noblemen, including the late Master Jo. The queen had written about how she wanted to hold Yeonsangun in her arms again, and the king weeps openly when he hears this about his mother.

Scholar Song (who introduced Mistress Jo to Yeonsangun) takes this opportunity to implant the idea that Yeonsangun’s father, the former king, was not the major deciding factor who wanted his mother deposed. He tells the king that the ones who are really responsible are the noblemen who influenced the former king to take such actions, and Yeonsangun’s eyes grow dark with fury.

Back at home and satisfied with his progress with the king, Scholar Song talks to Gil-hyun about the next actions to come. He also remarks about the strange coincidence that Gil-dong’s father was the one who burned the deposed queen’s letter. Gil-hyun keeps silent about his father, although he now realizes what danger they’re all in.

When Ga-ryung finally reaches Gil-dong after hearing about what has been happening to him, the king arrives in a rage about Amogae. He tells Gil-dong, who can barely open his eyes to look up at him, that his father went against social order by killing his master, but the real reason that Yeonsangun is angry is because Amogae burned his mother’s letter. Taking a nearby soldier’s sword, Yeonsangun readies to kill Gil-dong, saying that he will purge Gil-dong’s inherited insolence against those who are his betters.

Just in time, Gil-hyun comes to beg the king to let him kill Gil-dong, giving the reason that it’s beneath Yeonsangun to personally execute a lowly thief. With tears in his eyes, Gil-hyun volunteers to kill his own brother and brings up the sword. Then, the king calms down from his rage and decides that a better way to kill Gil-dong is to let him suffer in thirst and hunger. He leaves.

Ga-ryung then approaches the post where Gil-dong has collapsed. She comes near him, and frantic with tears, she tries to pull at the ropes stringing him up. But she’s taken away by soldiers to a jail, along with all the other people who took pity on Gil-dong and tried to give him water.

During a private audience, Gil-hyun suggests to Yeonsangun that he put Gil-dong in a cell instead of keeping him in the public’s eye, because if he doesn’t die, the people might think that he’s the Mighty Child again. Thinking on this idea, Yeonsangun agrees, and soon, soldiers take down Gil-dong’s limp body from the public post and carry him on a stretcher. He’s so motionless that most of the people surmise that he’s dead, and when Ga-ryung is told that Hong Gil-dong has died, her world turns dark.

But of course, he’s still alive, although orders from the king prevent anyone from giving him food or water. So as soon as he hears that his brother has been moved, Gil-hyun rushes to the cell to see Gil-dong. Bribing the guard with a pouch full of coins, Gil-hyun asks the guard to look over his brother, pretending that it’s for a hidden purpose of the king’s.

In his throne room, Yeonsangun begins his second round of terror: He states that his human hunting did cross the line, but he asks whether his courtiers are also not crossing the line by not giving him the proper respect he’s due. He punishes the Minister of Protocol for spilling wine on his robes, citing that he has disrespected Yeonsangun and thus, he’s betrayed the nation by his actions. However, the nobles gossip that the real reason behind the Minister of Protocol’s imprisonment, torture, and beheading was that he was the one who delivered the official poison that killed Yeonsangun’s mother, the deposed queen.

They also have heard that Yeonsangun called two of his father’s favorite concubines recently, and we see the gruesome scene laid out. The former king’s concubines lay in bloody white bags that are still wriggling while Yeonsangun surveys his handiwork with a wooden staff in his hands. His retinue looks terrified as they promise that this will be kept under wraps, but Yeonsangun tells them not to worry—he wants this rumor to be spread widely so that his subjects understand how angry he is.

He brings in two of his half-brothers, the ones who are the sons of the two women in the bags, just barely breathing. He hands them wooden sticks and orders them to beat their own mothers to death. He threatens them by saying if they don’t kill these witches who slandered his mother, he will kill them himself.

Despite this incredible personal violence, Yeonsangun’s rage is not satisfied, and he goes on a rampant killing spree against all the officials who had any hand in his mother’s dethronement. He tells his court to find all the people who were complicit, orders executions to the nth degree of those families, and parades their severed heads throughout the country to show an example of how traitors will be treated.

All the nobles seem horrified, but Scholar Song is happy that the people who took him from power are being punished through the king’s purge. He gathers Choongwongoon, Jeong-hak, and Mistress Jo, and tells them that they must now prove their loyalty to the king.

Choongwongoon meets with Yeonsangun and offers him Mori, because he has the same powers as Gil-dong. But Yeonsangun says it’s unnecessary and instead makes Mori an official in his government. When Mori is freed from prison, Choongwongoon is waiting for him outside, but instead of giving him a welcome, the royal slaps him for going against his orders to kill Gil-dong. Mori confesses that he only did so because Gil-dong spared his life once, and he promises to serve Choongwongoon loyally from now on.

Mori’s official position is the head of the task force that evicts commoners in order to make room for the expansion of the king’s hunting grounds. Under his orders, people are beaten and children are orphaned, and all the while, Gil-dong rots in prison.

From time to time, Yeonsangun visits Gil-dong to gloat and engage in in some introspection—the king tells his prisoner that many people think that he’s this way because he lost his mother when he was young. But even before his mother’s death, he thought that violence was the best way to rule and impose order.

In a different cell, the Hong brothers are all imprisoned together and suffering, but when they hear a rumor that Gil-dong has awakened, they rejoice. Nok-soo also hears the rumor from the Eorini girls and rushes to see him. When Yeonsangun finally gets ahold of the news, Nok-soo is already there, watching Gil-dong’s staggered steps with horror.

Gleeful, Yeonsangun takes his bow and begins aiming it at Gil-dong, who has retained just enough of his reflexes to avoid the arrows. Yeonsangun laughs at this new amusement and says that instead of hunting tigers, he’ll take sport in hunting Gil-dong. Nok-soo clutches her mouth, trying to hold in her tears as she watches her current lover firing arrows at her one and only past love.

Afterward, Nok-soo visits Gil-dong’s cell by herself while he eats gruel with his hands. She wipes his mouth lovingly, and he calls her Gong-hwa, but she tells him that Gong-hwa died when he left. She promises to help him go free if he survives, but as she leaves, she tells him that they are now strangers.

Yeonsangun gets the idea in his head to show Gil-dong’s mangled state to the Hong brothers in order to add an emotional element to the physical misery he already is enduring. The next day, the Hong band are laboring in the fields when a new face arrives from far away, being prodded by soldiers. At first they don’t recognize the man that’s being whipped until oblivion because he’s so bloody, pitiful, and lame. But when they realize it’s Gil-dong, they try to go toward him, and Ilchung tells Gil-dong to stand up.

It’s a plea and a command at the same time for him to show them that he’s still their “Great Elder,” but Gil-dong can’t manage it with all the soldiers continuously beating him. With tears in his eyes, Ilchung shouts at the soldiers not to touch Gil-dong, but they just turn on him and start beating all of the prisoners. The Hong brothers are taken away, and Gil-dong can’t do anything to stop it. Mori oversees all of this because it’s his soldiers who are beating Gil-dong and his friends.

The Hong brothers sit in a circle later in prison and cry as they think about Gil-dong’s reduced state. Segul begins talking, saying that the man on the field couldn’t possibly be Gil-dong, because the Great Elder can’t stand it when others touch his people, and that man couldn’t do anything about them being beaten. Everyone sheds tears as they think about Gil-dong.

During one of the court sessions, a dog scampers into the throne room and leaps up onto the king’s dais. Yeonsangun pets him fondly while the nobles mutter that it’s unseemly, but then the king brings up the matter of a boar that wandered into the palace gardens, and of rumors that leaked out into the public. Scared, the nobles immediately call for Yeonsangun to punish the ones among them who spread the rumors regarding the inner workings of the palace.

On a power high, Yeonsangun demands for more women to become part of his musical harem, and no one can say anything despite the dwindling treasury and lack of trained musicians. Ga-ryung, seeing the crowds of women entering the palace to become part of the king’s troupe, asks why they’re going. Outside the gates, she promises to avenge Gil-dong if it really was the king that killed him.

There aren’t enough gisaengs to fill his musical troupe, and Yeonsangun becomes visibly upset. But then Nok-soo suggests that they take anyone trained in the musical arts—be it peasant, gisaeng, or noblewoman—because everyone is the king’s servant. Taking a liking to this idea, Yeonsangun regards Nok-soo fondly and immediately commands for all women to be eligible for his troupe.

Later, Eunuch Kim confronts Nok-soo, demanding why she is adding to the king’s wayward direction and not chiding him from committing extreme actions. Nok-soo scoffs at his naivety and trust in Yeonsangun’s good will—she tells him to beware, because they also have no guarantee of living through the king’s reign. As she walks away, she repeats her mantra that she needs to live in order to save “that person” (presumably referring to Gil-dong).

The large festive banquet for the king is in session, and Nok-soo prepares her girls to perform. In the expansive palace courtyard, they begin a beautifully choreographed drum dance that moves with quick energy. Yeonsangun watches the performance with immense pleasure, drumming his fingers and bouncing his head to every note. Completely enthralled in the beat and Nok-soo’s seductive motions, he declares them the sound of Joseon, when suddenly a scream breaks out.

Committing a treasonous act or terror, someone has bloodied the royal robes. Instead of directing his anger at the person who actually did the deed, and perhaps out of fear, Yeonsangun begins beating the eunuch who found the robes and even demands that he be imprisoned. No one knows who the culprit is, but the scene cuts to Gil-dong and company. Now, Yeonsangun grows paranoid that every little misstep is a trap and a prank by a disloyal follower. Gil-hyun vows in his head that Yeonsangun should be afraid that the ones closest to him will betray him, hinting that he may possibly be the one behind the small accidents that are happening to the king.

At night, Yeonsangun lays his head on Nok-soo’s lap, worrying in a fetal pose about whether his recent misfortunes are due to the heavens’ anger. She pats him like a mother does to her child and asks why he should worry when he is the son of heaven, and he is instantly reassured.

Yeonsangun engages in a hunt and brings Nok-soo with him, but instead of deer, Gil-dong is the main target. He aims the first arrow to land near Gil-dong’s feet just to strike fear into him. Nok-soo tries to keep an impassive face, but she can’t help but grimace at the scene. Once he realizes that the king might actually kill him, Gil-dong starts hobbling away on his crippled limbs. He stumbles through the branches of the forest, tripping over logs and slipping on leaves.

Then he hears the two Eorini girls who are talking about the king, crying that they are afraid of their ruler. Other musical troupe members next to them are gossiping about how the king has been singling out the pregnant gisaeng. They wonder why, but then the girls spot Gil-dong behind him, who keeps on saying “Eorini, Eorini” because he has recognized Eorini’s voice.

But then, a net falls over his head—it’s Yeonsangun who laughs at how easy it was to catch this “Mighty Child,” but Gil-dong is still looking desperately toward the girls, one of whom is his dearly beloved sister. As Yeonsangun kneels down to be on Gil-dong’s level, he says that he’ll show Gil-dong how the country is being efficiently run under his rule.

So a soldier takes Gil-dong to witness firsthand the terrors that the king is imposing on his countrymen to enact “order.” Gil-dong is helpless as he watches people being evicted, families being torn apart, and properties being destroyed by the king’s soldiers. During his inner monologue, Gil-dong confesses to Gil-hyun that he’s done his fair share of violence in his life as a gangster, but seeing these people now, he feels only deep sorrow where he felt only endless rage before.

Alone in his cell, in the dark of night, Gil-dong thinks about all of Yeonsangun’s deeds as well as his father’s intended purpose for him to become the king’s general and makes a resolution. He resolves to become the king himself, and like that, his health seems to be restored. He stands up straight, his lame leg straightening as he faces the moonlight.

 
COMMENTS

Let me state for the record that I think Yeonsangun is one sadistic psychopath. That being said, the way his downward spiral is being portrayed—so raw and historically accurate in its violent details—is absolutely fascinating. All those beheadings, beatings, and evictions actually happened under Yeonsangun’s reign of terror, but so often, sageuks only hint at the real-life violence that occurred in history. The scene where he’s sitting on the steps with a maddened glint in his eyes, looking down at the two bloodied bags containing his father’s mistresses, was the most graphic in my opinion. It was the first time we saw him personally involved in the violence, and I thought the motivations that led him to that point were so complex and interesting.

I don’t want to make too many cliche Freudian judgements, but the fact that hearing about his mother from a complete stranger like Mistress Jo brings tears to his eyes makes it look like most of Yeonsangun’s anger is rooted in his unhappy childhood. He grew up with an absent father whose approval he sought but never received fully, a tragically deceased mother, and probably some competitive siblings who wanted the throne themselves. Although he said to Gil-dong that his violence is not necessarily a result of his motherless childhood, his insecurities that lead him to his violent actions are deeply tied to his inferiority complex that’s due to growing up without a stable and supportive emotional network.

The main reason for his purges, both this one and the one before where he deemed Kim Il-son a traitor, are because he couldn’t stand other people disrespecting his family, whether it be his mother or his grandfather, whom he views to be an extension of himself. Yet, he had almost no qualms about exiling his relative Choongwongoon, who had been ingratiating himself to Yeonsangun since childhood. So his views on loyalty to family seem to conflict and are only utilized when it suits his egotistical purposes to do so. Yeonsangun views himself as above all others because he’s been taught that from a young age, but he still suffers from bouts of paranoia and insecurity regarding the Mighty One. Because he hasn’t learned a healthy way to manage his negative emotions, he couldn’t channel his fear properly after seeing his royal robes in a bloody mess, and so he ended up punishing an innocent man, someone who had been loyal to him.

Clearly, Yeonsangun is not fit to be king, and now people are starting to realize it. But how did Gil-dong make a leap from understanding that fact to wanting take the throne himself? Technically in the last scene where Gil-dong sits in his cell and stares up at the moon, his internal dialogue is asking his father: “How about I become the one who gives the sword [instead of the one taking it]?” I just interpreted it as Gil-dong making the resolution to become more powerful than Yeonsangun in order to avenge himself and the sufferings of the people. However, the desire for a commoner, and a slave’s son at that, to become king is almost unthinkable, especially during that time period where Yeonsangun’s beliefs that the king had a divine right to rule was widely established. Perhaps Gil-dong’s knowledge that he is a Mighty Child gives him the confidence that the heavens have also chosen him, perhaps for the purpose of becoming king.

But I may be reading too much into things because, in contrast to Yeonsangun, I get the feeling that Gil-dong is a simple character. Not in a bad way, but just that his internal reasons for taking action are not as complex. He sees evil, so he punishes it. He sees suffering, so he tries to find a way to stop it. Hopefully, he’ll get started on phase one of his action plan soon, because I don’t know how many more orphaned children I can take without bursting into tears myself.

 
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Wow, this episode was...depressing.

For the first time in this series, 60 minutes felt like forever. And that's not a compliment.

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That being said, Kim Ji-seok is killing it in this role!

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Absolutely. I've been informed by fellow Beanies that his previous roles have all been on the comic side. And I absolutely cannot imagine it.

I'm going to catch one of those shows once Rebel is over.

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Sameee. I've only seen him in Cheongdam-dong Alice and I can barely remember his character (it's been years). I'm glad he's doing a memorable role this time!

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He was AMAZING and hysterically funny in Another Oh Hae Young! I'm in awe of his talent here!

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Totally! Kim Ji Suk and Lee Ha Nui are the reasons why I watch Rebel!

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Me too. Add one more, Kim Sang Joong ahjusshi

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Lol...and one more, Ahn Nae Sang was born in the wrong era. I'd time travel to Joseon if he would be my guide.

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I actually was expecting this for a few episodes already, after reading this and that about the gore during Yeonsangun's reign. I feel sorry a bit for Nok Su. She was killed in the end, just because she tried so hard to survive.
The very end scene was hilarious somehow. The music made me expect a horse showing up from nowhere and see Gil Dong ride in the sunset. He healed all of a sudden and the music... Especially in a drama where music was so on point. Involuntary humour in the darkest hour...

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Please do not spoil the drama this way. You may know the history but some of us watch it deliberately not reading history behind the characters. Why would you spoil it for us? I was really disappointed with this post. And not even with a bit of warning.

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Nok-soo is more sympathetic here than in history. Obviously Gil Dong's story is fictional and her involvement with him. We have no clue what the writer have in store for her.

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I never thought history could be a spoiler. Kinda remind me during some sageuk drama before like Moon Lovers - when there were viewers shared about the history related but some others are quite mad. Plus, this is not authentic sageuk, which follows history 100%. I got that you dont want to know what happened according to the history, but maybe you too can consider that we are watching historical drama, so it makes sense that somebody will bring the historical part in the discussion. I dont know about the rest, but this is the joy of me watching sageuk -watching drama and at the same do some reading on the history itself.

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Thank you, Ms Sera! Your comment gives me much comfort. I feel the same. Sageuk taught me more history than any history lesson could. Whenever one fascinates me, like this one, I google, I stalk Soompi thread to learn more about the truth behind the fiction. This is why I never imagined that my comment would bother anybody. I know, after reading the upset comments, that this may be quite a narrow-minded perspective, but I thought that dramas can be an open gate to Korean culture and civilisation and that everybody takes advantage of such a chance to learn more. Thank you again!

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Please put SPOILER WARNING or something like that. It would've made me skip your comment.

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I didn't know that this comment would hurt anybody's sensibilities. I would delete it if I could. It's history. It's a done deal so I never expected to be considered spoiling.

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They are actually not following history to a t with Nok-soo so I think your comment is fine. She would've been right out evil already but instead Scholar Song seems to take her place as Yeonsan's partner in crime which I find rather compelling.

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Right? I was actually waiting for her to turn evil already but the trajectory this Noksoo is taking seems to be just barely skirting along the periphery. After the revenge on that governor (which I can't really classify as unwarranted), there was nothing. But we do have 8 episodes to go. So I don't know...

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@nightcat Exactly! I think this love triangle is kind of a hamper? (Not sure if I'm using the right word). I think we maybe done with the real Nok-soo because Gil Dong may need a savior.

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@kiara:

@nightcat Exactly! I think this love triangle is kind of a hamper? (Not sure if I'm using the right word).

Er, was "hindrance" the word you were looking for? ;-)

Re: love triangle, I had been concerned that Nok-soo would be angry and jealous that Gil-dong had left her and married Ga-ryung (which she does not yet know). She tells him in prison that they are strangers now (i.e., "Pretend we don't know each other"), but goes on to try to save him. It's Yeonsangun who will be the jealous party once he finds out about the prior relationship between Nok-soo and Gil-dong. I'm wondering how the king is going to find out. Gil-dong, Eunuch Kim, Wolhamae, Ga-ryung (and maybe other gisaengs who might still be around from Nok-soo's last two gibangs) are the only ones who could know. Wolhamae is unlikely to blow their cover as she thought they should have married -- but you never know who might spill the beans in a moment of terror.

One of the Eorinis questioned Nok-soo's order to see if HGD were still alive, and that suspicion may lead to gossip that is overheard.

Nok-soo's multiple visits to the prisoner cannot possibly go unnoticed by Yeonsangun, nor her reactions during the king's "human hunting" episodes. The walls have ears. And Mori has eagle eyes and is quick on the uptake (if he has in fact seen Nok-soo in the prison).

I recall the scene in episode 1 when the king dries Nok-soo's hair and asks her about her knowing HGD in the past. We've seen him put 2 + 2 together several times in flashbacks, so his paranoia and suspicion may lead him to that conclusion.

I've been waiting for the hairpin to come into play. Gil-dong didn't know the identity of the king's lady musician Nok-soo when he commissioned the jewelry. But I think the king will figure it out, and become enraged.

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Yes, thank you PakalanaPikake and I meant it in 2 ways. Yeonsan would be the obvious. Nok-soo is still holding a candle for Gil Dong. She has no feelings for the king. I don't think she knows that he married Ga-ryun. Hopefully she won't blame her for going after Gil Dong knowing how she felt about him. Ga-ryun has every right to though since she didn't wait for him.

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@kiara @PakalanaPikake: She tells him in prison that they are strangers now (i.e., "Pretend we don't know each other"), but goes on to try to save him. This. She does tell him that they're strangers now but her face before she composed herself was devastating. Aaaand she goes out risking her neck for him after that. So I don't really know now what the Gildong-Garyung reveal will do to Noksoo and if she will lash out when she does find out. While she appears to be resigned to the fact that they're not meant to be and accepting that there's no turning back from this crazy life she chose with the King, her actions show that she's not really over him yet. I am actually surprised that her feelings for Gildong run this deep. I'm reminding myself that over the last 4 years, Gildong found and forged a new love with Garyung while Noksoo had no love nor any support system to speak of (aside from Wolhamae). And yes on the visits and reactions. Gilhyun and Noksoo have been consumed by their anxiety and need to save Gildong that they've forgotten how prominent they actually are to be as wreckless in throwing caution to the wind. I'm again surprised that the King has not grown suspicious at this point and that nobody has insinuated anything to the King. Only a matter of time though. And I'm all sorts of anxious on how this particular pin would drop. (+_+)

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@nightcat April 15, 2017 at 7:22 PM:

I am actually surprised that her feelings for Gildong run this deep.

I can see why Nok-soo still carries a torch for HGD. He was the first man who treated her like a human being. (Thanks, Amogae!) He listened raptly to her life story. He did not judge her actions and attitude towards her child. He recognized her capacity to cry, and assured her that she was not a monster because she could still shed tears. Her sadness resonated with his own, and drew out the protector in him. He sincerely comforted her as a fellow human being, and did so tenderly and respectfully, not as an opportunistic cad with ulterior motives.

Even after Ga-ryung gave him the scrap of tie that triggered the full return of his memories, he was not angry with Gong-hwa for keeping it from him. He felt heartbroken over the loss of his sister and compelled to search for her. I have no doubt that he fully intended to return to her when his mission was over. As others have pointed out, were it not for her colleague's having been stabbed in the eye, Gong-hwa would have waited for him.

Nok-soo cherished her memories of singing with HGD. Their musical collaboration was joyous and deeply meaningful to them. With Yeonsangun, everything was always a command performance. With HGD, it was intimately sharing feelings, including joy.

Now that it's marinated in the back of my mind, I see Gil-dong's brief romance with Gong-hwa as a turning point in his ability to empathize with someone outside his family of origin and the extended family of the gang. It began with a single person, and foreshadowed the awakening of his compassion for the downtrodden that occurred in episode 22. Ultimately, Gil-dong's compassion grew to include Joseon's most disenfranchised citizens.

I have to remind myself that HGD reconnected with Gong-hwa after several near-death experiences and the annihilation of his family. For the first time in his life, he had no support system, and could not consciously remember the loss of his sister, although he could feel the pain of that loss in his heart. After continuing to misuse his Mighty Child powers, he again underwent near-death experiences that triggered a change of heart and mind.

In the beginning, Gong-hwa and Gil-dong were both motivated by revenge and anger. She went to the palace and targeted the king as a means to an end: exacting revenge on the magistrate. She did not love Yeonsangun (and told him her heart belonged to another). The king was incapable of truly loving her. Gil-dong was bent on revenge against Choongwongoon and his minions, and later the yangban who mistreated lower-borns. Along the way, he'd met Ga-ryung, who loved him for years and let him know it. It seems to me that, just as his mother made a better man of his father, Ga-ryung made a better man of Gil-dong in ways that Gong-hwa never could have. But Nok-soo still carries a torch for him.

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@PakalanaPikake I also think it was easy for Gil-dong and Nok-soo to be together because they were both such shades of grey when they met in addition to their sadness and anger which bonded them together. Nok-soo as this gisaeng that had abandoned her family and her child and Gil-dong as a peddler with a gangster family. Merchants and peddlers were really looked down upon in the social hierarchy because they took your money and they were below farmers in social standing. Gisaengs also had low social standing too. It would be easy to fall into a relationship with her because there would be no expectations for him to become better or change. In social standing, or lifestyle choices. In contrast, I think Gil-dong felt undeserving of Ga-ryung for a really long time which is why he tsundere'd her for so long. (Understatement lol.)When Amogae asked him if he wanted to marry, Gil-dong said that no woman of any standing would ever want to marry into a family of gangsters and I think he always saw Ga-ryung as that kind of girl. Someone to be kept away from all the bad business, but of course, Ga-ryung can't be put into a corner lol. And I think part of the reason why he spoiled her in Hanyang is that he wanted to become a man worthy of her and give her the life she deserved and it was the best offer he could give her (at the time). I think when he let go of the resentment he felt for Ga-ryung not being Eorini or Gong-hwa around episode 9/10, he started to let himself feel things for her. And by 14, I think he realizes that he has started to fall for her, but can't offer her anything else but a brotherly orabeoni, which is why he looks sad/restrained when they embrace.

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@kiara and @PakalanaPikake I think the tragedy of Nok-su is all she has to do just for survival. And her sadness is based on the fact that her life of survival has forced her to have no faith/trust in other people. She only has faith in herself which is why she left the gibang despite Gil-dong's promise to her. Contrast that to Ga-ryung who had enough faith in Gil-dong for YEAAAARS for him to finally return her feelings and enough trust to stay for that long.

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And to add...when Ga-ryung she says 'I can love you more than Gong-hwa', I think that's what she means. She has faith in him and as a guy who lives the thug life, but doesn't necessarily want to, that means a lot. She can give him her entire heart in a way Nok-su never could.

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I'd add revenge because that was the main reason why she wanted to enter the palace in the first place. When she met Gil Dong she fell for him and she was going to wait but the incident with her friend getting stabbed in the eye by her jealous client was the last draw. She was already fed up with the governors who mistreated her family because they were low class and poor. Plus those noblemen who requested her service to sing and dance only to demand more from her. She got her revenge on the former governor but
she can't go back because she belongs to the king now who is turning out to be a psychopath from hell. Instead of enjoying the lavish life of a royal consort her life is now in danger. I'm curious how things would turn out for her and Eunuch Kim.

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@cloveredlioness true! I believe Noksoo is too broken, embittered and disadvantaged by her life of survival to ever allow herself the luxury of anchoring her trust on budding love or on blind faith. She lost such purity/innocence a long time ago and now only has this fractured shell of a heart to believe that good things will ever happen for her.

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@kiara: oh yes, I remember this. If the eye-stabbing incident hadn't pushed her to the edge, Gonghwa was actually just biding her time in waiting for Gildong's return. Wolhamae even chastised her for abandoning her original plan of entering the palace because of Gildong. Which she didn't really care for until that gisaeng suffered through another yangban's mistreatment. Seems to me that circumstances have a way of derailing what would've been an idyllic life for Gonghwa. The name "Noksoo" and its meaning befits her actually.

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@cloveredlioness April 15, 2017 at 3:15 PM:

I think the tragedy of Nok-su is all she has to do just for survival. And her sadness is based on the fact that her life of survival has forced her to have no faith/trust in other people.

Nok-soo's lack of faith and trust in other people is reminiscent of Yeonsangun's statement to barely-conscious Gil-dong in prison: While people might think that the loss of his mother is what caused him to become ruthless in dealing with his subjects, he has actually always thought that violence is the only way to enforce order and control. Hmmm. The king really sounds like a bad seed, and devoid of redeeming / redeemable qualities.

From the get-go Yeonsangun has never had a sense of the reciprocity, or noblesse oblige, that kings and nobles are supposed to observe in their relations with their subjects and subordinates. In this regard I see a parallel between the king and Lord Jo and son Jeong-hak. The latter was an obnoxious little brat when he was a kid, and still has a nasty attitude in keeping with Song Sabu's Sugwidan “values.”

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Hi Adam, I probably sounded sharper than I intended. I stopped watching Saguek genre only because I tend to read about history and all those characters and then get very discouraged after learning their fate. Then I stop watching them because I feel I know the ending - and drama will just dramatize. This one, I kept away from history altogether because I really wanted to enjoy it. That is why, I was shocked to learn that historically her fate is death and I will now feel very differently when I watch this drama...I was immediately disappointed and I have been really, really enjoying it - not knowing anything about it. Sorry about being sharp. I feel kinda bad now :-D Friends?

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Even if we know the history we still don't know the fate of these characters. Gil Dong's story is fictional and most of the historical events is being changed to accommodate the fictional characters. Gil Dong is only mentioned briefly in the Annals (the year 1500) and we've past that timeline already and he is still alive. There is more fictional characters in this dramas compared to the real life historical figures. Amogae and the whole Hong clan, Ga-ryun, the Jos, Scholar Song, Mori, Heo Taek etc etc, etc. Historical figures are obviously Yeonsan, Nok-soo, Minister Noh and a few more who were briefly mentioned. There is no records of Gil Dong having this close interaction with the king nor did he have a romantic relationship with Nok-soo etc. This part of the story is all new to us. The beating of the former king's concubines did happened in history but it took place in court and he beat them to death himself. Yeonsan didn't know about his biological mother's execution until 10yrs into his reign and Madam Jo wasn't the one who informed him. There was no letter from the queen either. I don't think we know what would happen to these characters but can speculate based on history and the current state of the story.

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I'd speculate that the reason why their is multiple mighty children in this show is to bring down this unworthy king and restore the real social order. The relationship between king and his people where the people serve their king and the king would serve them in return. The real historical figures who launched the coup that dethroned Yeonsan are not part of this show so I think they are being represented by these mighty children. There should be a more significant reason for their existence other than to even the battlefield between good and evil. Maybe in the end I'd say, that I understand how Confucian ideals preserved Joseon as the longest lived dynasty in the entire history of Korea.

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Instead of letting history ruined your enjoyment it might helped you understand the show more from a different perspective. It can be fascinating!

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Thank you and I am sorry at the same time, dramafan100. After reading the angry comments, initially, I thought I would never write a word here anymore. I tend to freely share my joy and excitement and never before did I upset anybody. (Well, reading that my crime was not so serious changed my mind.) Seeing your words made me feel again at home in this community created by our beloved beanies.
I feel like we are creating our own drama. What did it happen to us, normal (?!) western people! I think the virus bit us too deeply. Dramabeans - the dramaverse where you do not have to be Korean to play in The Drama! :)

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Complete with face mask, black hat, and a Zorro mustache

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Hong Gil Jorro! I snorted my milk and it hurts my nose. I never enjoyed pain as much!

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I think this is Gil-dong's rock bottom in the story and that his arc will now take an upward trajectory since he was finally able to stand at the end of this episode. This, of course, doesn't mean there's not going to be heartbreak, I'm sure. Like Gil-dong portrayed to shoot Ga-ryung in episode 1. I sense that Gil-dong really will be the people's hero now.

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Oh man - the violence and gore and heart-stopping moments just kept going and going and going. It was glorious and necessary for the dark side of the story. This drama hasn't failed to impress me yet!

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Agreed! This is some dark times and no violent on screen would be as close to how violent and cruel Yeonsan was in the history books.

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honey lee killed it as usual!

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She is so worth watching this show for. She is fantastic in this genre and I'm glad that they are taking advantage of her talents. Ahn Nae Sang's portrayal of Scholar Song is amazing. He is as perfect here as he was in "Conspiracy in the Court."

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Conspiracy in the Court.. That reminds me that Kim Ha-Eun just suddenly disappear from this drama :(

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I know :(. I thought her character would be more involved in the story.
That show was the best sageuk thriller I've ever seen and it was pretty brutal for a prime time drama too.

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Ah, I'm glad that Conspiracy gets some love here! :) - It's one of my favourites. - Seeing Kim Ha-eun downgraded to a role that is only slightly more than an extra is heartbreaking. :(

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I'm also glad that Conspiracy in the Court is still talked about. That show deserves it and it's one of my top 5 sageuks of all time. Love Kim Ha-eun in Chuno too but yes, it's heartbreaking to see her character disappear like that.

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I'm sorry if I'm posting in the wrong place... I just want to test something out.

I was trying to comment on Liar recap 8, and it said the comments were closed for that item. So I'm just testing out if it works here.

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So... It works. I wonder why it doesn't work with Liar and Lover recap? Will try again. And sorry for taking up this space.

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not just u. I just tried and I can't access that, or ot 494, or welcome to dramabeans, or we're working on the kinks posts. seems like posts that have a lot of comments have the same problem...

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Honestly tho can we find out which of the two girls is eorini!! I think it is the ambitious one...

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Am I the only one who felt like he simply wants to end the people 's suffering? And it has nothing to do with him wanting to be a king? I just interpreted the last scene that way tbh

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I agree. I think what Gil-dong means when he says he "wants to be the one who bestows the sword on others" is he wants to empower others to be able to fight injustice. A general is still beholden to the king and he doesn't want to be beholden to this king.

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The problem is that what Gil-dong said is not quite clear and gives room to interpretation. My Korean is not that good, but I don't think that he uses the word that is used when a king bestows someone on somebody. He uses "naeilda" which means something like to outstretch, to reach out, to present to. He is saying "in the future becoming a sword outstretching/outreaching/presenting human". That is why there are so different english translations. On other webside it is translated with presenting the sword to the king in the sense of pointing the sword to the king. - I don't want to judge which translation is right and which not. As I said I'm not that good in Korean and I surely don't have the feeling for how to use the world naeilda. It's my first encounter with that word.

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something on somebody not someone, lol

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Well, your Korean would be better than mine lol which is nonexistent, except for the words that get repeated a lot in k-dramas/k-pop and what I can intuit from knowing Chinese and Japanese. To prepare/get ready and telephone sound similar in all three languages lol. But yeah, translation is really difficult and a lot depends on nuance and context...which can completely change what is said. I had a chance to watch Guardians of the Galaxy in Japan in English with Japanese subtitles and the subtitles were really interesting in that they didn't nail the humour a lot.

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@liina
The most frustrating part of this show for me is the translation. (My fault for not learning Korean ) Sometimes it doesn't make sense even though word for word it might be correct. This writer is like Kim Jong-jik in using metaphors. I think we all know that even though Gil Dong becomes the hero of the people he can not and will not take that throne unless a new dynasty is created which it's not going to happen.

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@kiara: I'm glad that you are still around, even though it's not a real historical drama again and the priority is on the other layers not the history! In this case that's fine by me. I love political allegories and I love my Gildong, so that drama is great for me. But I feel your pain about what comes with the insertion of scholar Song in the drama. Scholar Song is more or less a modern figure. He represents a group of people that meddle in Korean politics, bending the laws, stepping on the powerless and using just the same horribly perverted "confucian" ideology as excuse ("Signal" features these people as well). Having that character implemented here really reflects badly on the poor Joseon confucian scholars as an unwanted sideeffect. And since one of the last adventurous sageuk dramas also managed to unintentionally paint the confucian scholars black (poor Jeong Do-jeong and Jeong Mong-ju ended up as hypocrit and backstabber in the Six Flying Dragons viewer's eyes) it's a little bit annoying.

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@liina. In short, there is a lot to love about this show and it might still be my sageuk of the year. What annoys me won't ruin the show for me. I just wish I was connected more with our hero like I did with his father. Chae Soo-bin, bless her heart. She doesn't have much to work with but she is giving it everything she has. I think Yeonsan is the kind of character that is meant to be unrestrained because he is apparently the real villain and the Jos and Song's followers are his supporters. I think their feud would have been more exciting if it started earlier and not towards the end but that's just me. Maybe I'm not good at keeping up with multiple villains. I'm here till the end.

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This episode was so hard for me to watch. It was such a slog. In that my characters were all hurting and I was like 'NOOOOOO!' How many times do you want me to get emotional in an hour? Like when Gil-hyun might have to kill Gil-dong, when Ga-ryung sees Gil-dong's poor state and then is dragged off while shrieking, when Gil-dong can't stand in front of his men (Ilchung, you broke me), Nok-su and Gil-dong's sad reunion, Gil-dong getting hunted, finally finding Eorini and being taken away...Like everything really. But Gil-hyun's pranks were SOOO symbolic and like the most amazing Joseon/traditional Asian dis track ever! Like the bringing the dog in...I think my eyes bulged and I went OOOOH! Basically, I'm not sure if it's the same in Korea, but in China, each level of society had a special animal representation (I believe it was on the sword/axe/guillotine they were killed with for committing crimes as well). The king/emperor is the dragon, the noblemen/scholars/ministers were tigers and the plebeians were dogs. Calling someone a dog in Asia is also a huge insult. Gil-hyun is basically lowering the king's social status to that of a commoner. Like, you're not hot shit. Also, since these ministers are basically the upholders of law and justice, I think Gil-hyun is also making a reference to the word, 獄. It's got a variety of meanings including lawsuit, litigation, case or jail. The linguistic background behind the word is that the law is an argument between dogs. (The radical for speech/words is surrounded by those for animal/dog). But what it comes down to is that within Chinese/Asian culture, there's a certain contempt for the law and if something happens between parties, people prefer to settle it with police arbitration or money rather than involving the law, generally. It's why a lot of cases in Asia get settled with money rather than court cases. So Gil-hyun is basically like YOU SUCK!!! ALL YOU DO IS ARGUE AMONG YOURSELVES!!! And also, why don't you all suffer in jail like my brother. Plus since Gil-dong seems to be represented by tigers, he's elevating Gil-dong's status above the king (Maybe not Gil-hyun per se, but definitely the writer). Then there were the bloody clothes to represent the blood on the king's hands. And then that step stool/footstool that broke. I was like, you badass mofo Gil-hyun making a reference to your brother as Pal Pa Ni, the footstool. #Gil-hyunJoseonDisTrackRapper

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Thanks for sharing. I only got the Vendetta Hong Thieves Style reference and at least came to the same result (that he lowered Yeonsan's status from king to common thug), but didn't thought about it any further. And the dog had me quite confused. I didn't get it that Gil-hyun let the dog in, only that the "dog on the throne" thing. You helped me out there! And these are all quite interesting points. Yes, you can also use dog as a word for people without a human status in Korea. It's quite insultating. Worse is when you tell someone he is not even a dog but below. I don't know about tigers as a symbol for ministers in Korea. A tiger represents strength and power, courage in face of power and is a good luck sign overall (I think it ist the same in China?) . By the way, the writer switched the dragon to a tiger in the drama. In the novel Gildong's sign is a soaring dragon as his father had a Taemong (conception dream) about a soaring dragon. A soaring dragon represents a person who surpasses himself (hm, I hope I can say it like that) or rises about others, but a dragon is of course also a symbol for the king and Gildong becomes King of Yuldo in the novel. That is why I'm sure that drama Gildong doesn't plan to become a King (neither of Joseon nor of Yuldo) like tineybeanie thinks, but that he is talking about overthrowing the King. (He hadn't had to in the novel, because their talkings about their ideas of ruling a country went a lot better and more likeminded than the ones in Episode 21 and 22 - It was another king of course).

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I do think the tiger is also a symbol of strength, etc. in China. Anyway, isn't the tiger also the national animal of South Korea? In that sense, Gil-dong would also be a symbol of the people in that way. So I can definitely see why the writer changed the animal associated with Gil-dong from a dragon to a tiger because it makes him one of the people. Kind of like the changes to making his birth that of a slave. I really find the changes the writer made to the original Hong Gil-dong novel interesting because it's just so effective to ground the story and make it really interesting and political.

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Plus the tiger symbolizes the Mountain Spirit Gil-dong met and embodied as a child.

IIRC, tigers are also emblematic of generals / military leaders (per the scenes in SIX FLYING DRAGONS of the new commissions being awarded to the general staff after Joseon was established).

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I love this! Thank you guys. I thought that the dog was there because Yeonsan was well known for his love of hunting and a dog usually accompanied the hunter. In this episode, symbolically a dog (king) was hunting a tiger (Gil Dong) lol.

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I'm such a foreigner when it comes to Asian lore.

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Good point about the foot stool! Didn't realise it could be related to Gil-dong. Symbolically, it could mean that the 'foot-stool', aka Gil-dong who supported the king will now trip him up.

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Most definitely! I foresee a face plant in the future, hopefully lol.

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Thanks for bringing up all these interesting points. I totally missed all the references except for the blood on the robe one, and instead was enjoying how Gil Hyun was trolling the heck out of the King. The footstool reference is so spot on, I'm in awe in the details this writer has provided so far.

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@ 7 cloveredlioness:

I haven't been ignoring your comments in the ep. 21 recap (or anyone else's!), I just haven't been able to successfully comment until my reply to Kiara above re: love triangle, which went through on the second try. Commenting seems to still be malfunctioning for me. It has been driving me batty, so I may just have to sit back and shut up for a while. :-(

I recognized the dog's presence in court as an insult, not only to the king, but also to the ministers (implying their debates are "dogs barking").

The king's bloody robe reminds me of the blood on Lady MacBeth's hands. I caught the reference to the broken footstool, too.

What threw me was how all this mischief was accomplished. We got a close-up of Gil-hyun. I wonder if Eunuch Kim had a hand in it, too -- he's the most likely candidate as an insider. Might he be trying to rein in the king at the 11th hour? Some of the senior statesmen might have had a hand in it as well. I'm having a hard time keeping track of who has been executed already.

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Yeah, you're right. I have no idea what Gil-hyun thinks he can accomplish by trolling the emperor short of just showing dissent in the ranks. It's kind of a gamble that will only result in the harm/killing of more ministers, probably.

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@cloveredlioness April 15, 2017 at 2:43 PM:

I have no idea what Gil-hyun thinks he can accomplish by trolling the emperor short of just showing dissent in the ranks.

I don't think it's necessarily Gil-hyun who's pulling off these stunts. I think it's Geoin who are doing it.

I'm willing to wager that they're psyops just like the ones against Wang Yo in MOON LOVERS. It's not just baiting the dragon -- it's undermining his sanity. And if he goes off the deep end, there will be plenty of justification to dethrone him.

As for collateral damage: Who has the most to gain? Song Sabu???

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Evil consolidates power and gives the good guys justification to off them all? It sounds like there's going to be heavy collateral in this show lol.

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I'm really loving this drama, the plot, the music, the cast, everything is great; it's my favorite drama of the year thus far. I'm really appreciative of the writers, they seem to have planned far ahead. Things like Nok Su's drum performance which Lee Hanui practiced for 3 months, and even Garyung's character. They stated from the beginning that she is a widow but when the drama started and she wasn't even married I assumed that it was an idea that they had before that they just didn't carry through, but here we are at episode 22 and the character description finally makes sense. The writing hasn't gotten worse even though the drama is long and is not pre -produced, in fact the story is getting more interesting as time goes on. Also, all the characters are interesting and developed, and the siblings (and Ah Mo Gae's family in general) have one of my favorite dynamics of all the kdramas I've watched. I'll be so sad when this drama ends.

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Three months?? Wow, it shows though.

I haven't enthralled by her before (not even when she danced with the white robe) but at that moment, her dance in this episode, I can't stare at anything but her. She looks magnificent in royal robes as well.

Her best role to date.

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Totally agree. The woman is like a real life gisaeng. Reading her wiki page is like wtf have I been doing my entire life? lol.

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The writers of this drama really has a clear vision for their work. Despite finishing scripts last minute (the reason we never get a preview on Tuesdays except in the first few weeks) the quality never drops, and they managed to connect each and every scenes, making we go "why?" now but then "ah...so that's it" later. I still remember the writer's previous work, The King's Daughter Soo Baek-hyang, where we go back to the opening scene at episode 103 (total episode count is 108), all logic solved neat and tidy at the end, even with episode cuts. So I'm not surprised if we'll see that scene with Ga-ryung at the stake in the last 3 or 2 episode before ending. And that's also why they make Lee Honey practice the dance 3 month in advance. Chae Soo-bin also started training for singing (including the lullaby for Gil-dong earlier) and dancing before filming starts so I'm looking forward to that too. I just trust the writers to bring us a satisfying ending :)

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@ enkeys:

KDSBH was my reason for tuning in to REBEL. It took a long time, but finally getting to see the entire opening scene play out was terrific. IIRC, in scene 1, we were never shown enough of the man lying in a pool of blood to be able to identify him. And it was only after I went back and rewatched the show that I was able to recognize the presence of characters of later consequence to the plot. Writer-nim is terrific at planting the clues and then following through in a logically satisfying way.

That's interesting about Chae Soo-bin's singing and dancing training. It really paid off with the lullaby.

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I didn't even remember that a bloodied guy was with them in that scene 1 so yes, I was blown away by the revelation later too, especially since they introduce the Prince a bit late into the drama.

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I think we were all expecting Ga-ryun to marry someone else before she met Gil Dong but by the time she followed Gil Dong we know she was his based on her personality. There was no way she would marry someone else unless by force and even that won't do.

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I watch Rebel for Gil Hyun's story. Above all characters, I am scared for his safety. Hear me drama, don't touch Gil Hyun. Not him. T-T

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Thanks for the recap!

I'm actually losing interest with the show a lot. Still feeling disconnected emotionally, I reckon it's because the emotional buildup of lots of characters miss a lot of steps. The only things that make sense to me are Ga Ryung infatuation and King's insanity, I don't understand the rest of the characters motivation even when the show told me why.

Not entertained by 'who's Eorini' game as well since the drama didn't provide much except that one of of the is the sister, but not other details except short 'clues' that makes me feel like watching Blues Clues.

I'm still tuning in just to know if Ga Ryung will stay alive in the end or not, I can say I'm falling in love with CSB character here, she's an amazing actress!

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"Not entertained by 'who's Eorini' game as well since the drama didn't provide much except that one of of the is the sister..."

Totally agree with you. It's getting kinda old and I'm starting to lose interest. They better tell us who Eorini is in the next two episodes or I'll just completely lose interest on who she is and why we're supposed to care...

"I'm still tuning in just to know if Ga Ryung will stay alive in the end or not, I can say I'm falling in love with CSB character here, she's an amazing actress!"

Yes!! I only came in for Soo Bin and she's doing a great job so far. It's a pity that she doesn't get much screen time.

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Agree with you on "The Who is Eorini's subplot". It's frustrating and making me lose interest in the drama. It would've been okay if it continued for a few episodes, but the writer is dragging on the mystery for far too long.

It's unbelievable to me that she can't recognize her brother, she wasn't too young to recognize him when they parted, yet she hangs onto the blue ribbon like it's important to her.

I'd say that the writing is the greatest weakness of the show. The writing is slow and plodding along, it makes what would've been a very interesting drama, boring. We've all seen how great writing and good directing can elevate a drama into a masterpiece a la Six Flying Dragons. The 50 episodes just flew by and left me wanting more. I had hopes of the same with this drama but am sadly disappointed. I must say that for the past few years most MBC dramas have suffered from a dearth of good writing and that is part of the reason they haven't had any ratings hits lately.

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I think the writer almost shows instead of tells maybe a little too much. It sometimes feels like the writer wants you to intuit a little too much. I think that's the case with the buildup on Gil-dong's side of the Gil-ryung relationship. The tsundere-ness laced with lines of double/hidden meaning either works for you if you can live with doing some of the work behind the character's motivation, or it won't. It wasn't super clear, but I can appreciate that the writer didn't feel the need to have someone talk about his feelings for Ga-ryung. He showed them through his actions. (He always cared a little too much/was too considerate.) I think that may also be the case for the king's buildup to being super EVOL. Some people feel like he just suddenly got the evil switch pulled.

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This is exactly it. The writer seems to aim to give hints through the characters' actions or words and let the audience interpret it themselves. Admittedly, there were times where these were unclear for me, but after they were revealed I was like “Ohhhh! It all makes sense now!”. This seems to be the case for the characterization of Yeosanggun, Gil-Dong, and Scholar Song. Maybe a little bit of Gil-hyun(?).

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Gil-hyun too, for sure. But he was always giving those WTF am I doing here, this party sucks! glares at the banquets...so I knew where his heart was lol.

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He was the only one unimpressed by Noksoo's performance lol

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This is a show that I think you might have to watch more than once. I think I'm going to rewatch it once all the episodes come out because I feel like things characters do will be all the more clear afterwards. And to add a bit more to my original point, I think Soboori and Ilchung (and to a lesser extent Eop-san) probably have the clearest inklings for Gil-dong's feelings for Ga-ryung because when she got held hostage by Mori during Ah Mo Gae's funeral procession, Soboori was the quickest on the uptake that they needed to stand down for Ga-ryung to live. But he's never been like 'We need to do x because of Gil-dong's feelings for her.' Except for that really contrived scene in Episode 18 when he was like 'We need to move so that Gil-dong doesn't get arrested for beating up Pedo Prince' when everyone had already packed everything plus Gil-dong and was ready to get out of dodge lol. Probably would have been more effective to run up to Ga-ryung and tell her what happened.

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@cloveredlioness April 15, 2017 at 12:07 AM:

I think the writer almost shows instead of tells maybe a little too much. It sometimes feels like the writer wants you to intuit a little too much.

I prefer to think of this as a very Korean way of telling the story. We're getting a nunchi (literally "eye measurement," i.e., intuiting / inferring what's going on) workout, but don't know what to do with the clues staring us in the face. (See comment 25 in ep. 21 recap for pointers to discussions of nunchi and other neat cultural stuff in OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN.)

Another factor is that we are outsiders trying to understand the nuances and subtleties of a high-context culture. As an American (who formerly taught ESL), I don't assume that others know what I know -- precisely because I grew up in a nation of immigrants. Korean society, on the other hand, is much more homogenous, and therefore everyone is on the same cultural page to a much greater extent. The subtext is already widely known, so there's no need to state the obvious.

As an English speaker, my thinking has been shaped by a particular type of logic that predisposes me to expect to see relationships between people, events, and facts expressed in ways that can be understood through deductive (or less often, inductive) reasoning. My first encounters with "stream of consciousness" were frustrating precisely because of the absence of recognizable logic, hierarchy, and order that is inherent in English.

It could also be that my journalistic experience in high school and college has predisposed me to compulsively state (and search for) the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a situation -- because that is the information that is included in a properly written lead paragraph. I only recently learned that that custom dates back to the early days of telegraphy. In an effort to ensure that the main points of news reports were transmitted before a potential service outage (an ever-present danger), those facts were included in the first paragraph, and then were recapitulated and fleshed out in detail in later ones.

Just my $0.02. ;-)

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No worries. I definitely get that. Like, I have no problems reading the clues, but I can understand why it could feel frustrating for others, particularly if they haven't been exposed to art/literature of other cultures. It was always fun taking Asian literature and just being flummoxed by the stories we read until the prof explained the cultural context. Even western stories have this (especially if you're reading older literature like the pregnancy that just pops up in Wuthering Heights lol ). And you're totes describing my experiences living in Japan (also did ESL lol), where as an outsider everyone knows the context/subtext except you, so in some circumstances you just flounder until it's explained.

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Totally understand feeling disconnected emotionally. Until now I'm starting to feel it. I was wondering when the king will start doing something beside moping for 21 episodes. Maybe, holding back for too long without clear motivation for the characters is what made some of us feel disconnected.

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I really liked that they used the integration of the excution of the historical thief Hong Gil-dong as a symbol for the death of Gil-dong's grudge/anger as well. I generally like death and rebirth themes in dramas, that's why I don't mind cliff of doom so much. The fall and impact followed by the being surrounded by water and emerging from the water all wet and muddy it's still the best picture for it. - So goodbye old chapter of Gil-dong's life and welcome new chapter! I'm looking forward to you!

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That's such a cool point to bring up. It's so interesting to see Gil-dong's evolution as a hero to become someone who really is fighting for justice on the big scale and not just petty revenge. He's become such a contrast to the king. One thing I'm really loving about this drama is all the different angles you can look at it from a writing stand point. It must be the English major in me lol. It's just so meaty and rich with all those things. And it gave me Joseon domino masks a la Robin/Nightwing. Gil-dong is like Batman/Luke Cage with a huge batfam.

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That's it! The reason he's always angry before was because of petty revenge...now only he can relate and sympathize with the people, when he receives the same treatment - losing his family members. And that's how he truly becomes the hero of the people. Thanks for pointing this out :)

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And by the way: I know some of you guys answered to me in the episode 21 comments. I saw it in my notifications. But since I don't have an access to that episode anymore (the loading time of the site is probably to long?), I don't know what you wrote at all! :( I'm very sorry!

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@12 liina:

I was experiencing loading problems, too.

I'm wondering if our replies got too long. -- But that had never been a problem with the old site. I think it was a bout of "growing pains" -- with condolences to the DramaBeans IT Crowd.

Wanted to let you know that I left you a message in OT #495,
32 PakalanaPikake April 14, 2017 at 7:31 AM.

I found you an online translation of "Demi-gods and Semi-devils" -- woo hoo! Enjoy! ;-)

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That is really kind of you! Thank you so much! :D

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@liina April 16, 2017 at 9:10 AM:

Am glad you found my message. I read the first chapter, and watched the first episode of the 2003 C-drama. I enjoyed both. (I hear tell that the 1997 C-drama is better.) Will be reading and watching more. ;-)

A couple of hours ago I came across Aaron Shepard's retelling of "The Monkey King" from Journey to the West. I loved it. Will have to read more. I love mythology, legends, cosmology -- and this was a great introduction to the Chinese stories that crop up in Kdramas, too. I surely wish I'd known this when I first watched ARANG AND THE MAGISTRATE.

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Yeah, I have heard this quite often (that the 1997 TVB Version is better), but I have a little crush on Hu Jun, so Hu Jun playing Qiao Feng was a very non rational delight for me. :D - From Journey to the West adaptions I have read the one from Anthony C. Yu. Which is really long... ;) - And since you know German: If you ever want to read the Hong Gil-dong Story I'd recommend the German translation from Soon-mi Hong-Schunka and Marion Eggert: "Die Geschichte von Hong Kiltong - Ein Räuberroman aus dem alten Korea". It's not only a great translation, but there are much more informations about the story and it presents the whole discurs about the question about the author of the story. The english penguin classics translation features just one side of the discurs and presents this as the truth. Argh, that makes me angry... The translation is also more free. Both are translations from different source textes though, so it's fun to read both and compare them. - Yeah there are often references to Chinese stories and also to historical Chinese persons in K-Drama. Especially in Sageuk. For example (sorry that it's Six Flying Dragons again, it was the last sageuk I watched till the end, so it's still somewhat fresh in my mind) SPOILER: Muhyul's and Bangwon's China journey features the story of Fan Li, advisor of King Goujian of Yue, and the beauty Xi Shi . With Bangwon as Fan Li, Muhyul as Xi Shi and Zhu Di as King Fuchai of Wu. Hahaha! SPOILER END - King Goujian would be a person very, very, very often referenced in Korean dramas. (Hihi and my Hu Jun played King Fuchai in "The Great Revival" with Chen Daoming, one of my alltime favourite actors playing King Goujian. Argh the bromance between Goujian and Fan Li was so great in that drama. Especially because you couldn't tell who was the greater diva of the two ;)).

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I'm finding that I can reply on some posts, but not others. It's kind of frustrating and puzzling.

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Thanks for the recap!

I really enjoyed this episode. From Gil Dong's inner monologue, i think he revealed which girl was Eorini as well. And! Am i the only one who thinks 30 episodes is too short? Esp for Ga Ryung. How is she going to enter the palace and seduce the king and get tied to the stake in 8 episodes? In some ways, i feel like the story is only starting now. Gimme moreeee.

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Right? I would love a couple more episodes/an extension. But I don't think they have enough ratings in Korea to pull it off. Plus, I think the writer has a specific plan for why there's 30 episodes, no more, no less. As others have brought up the 3 sections to the original novels. (Still want 2 to 4 more episodes though lol.)

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Since someone from the last recap brought up that Gil-dong's hair now looks like Britney's from the late 90s/early 2000s, I literally can't unsee it in the screencaps and the photos lol.

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My mission on this thread is now accomplished... :D

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That Slave 4 U realness right there lol.

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Well gotta say, i liked this episode. But i think the king's changing or should i say showing his true colors so quickly and iam glad Gil Dong took notice of that.

Just to be clear, Gil Dong doesn't know his wife is in prison right?

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I don't think he knows Ga-ryung went to see him, which is so tragic there, or that she was in prison. T_T He fainted/collapsed from exhaustion/malnutrition/his injuries.

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YES! That's what so heartbreaking about that scene. When Garyung cried her heart out but GilDong didn't even realize that she was there. *clutches heart in pain*

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Gil Dong didn't even know that Ga Ryung came to see him as he was unconscious at that time..

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Hands down to Lee Honey's amazing performance. I held my breath the second Nok Soo and the other musicians came into the screen, having already sensed that the scene would be something grand and epic. I especially love the part when they shouted : "Ay !"
Lee Honey's presence is so strong yet elegant, she's got the whole girl crush material. It's officially my most favorite scene in this week episodes !

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She is exactly what I picture Nok-soo to be. She wasn't captivating because of her beauty but because of her talents and she knew how to talk. Her first meeting with the king wasn't what she expected because her beauty didn't stand out but once she opened her mouth and flatter him then he started paying attention to her. She learnt to sing and dance before entering the palace so that came in handy. Honey Lee should only do sageuks from here on.

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+100. Haha! And after the BTS clips got released, I'm just bowled over even more by Honey's talent and dedication to her craft. "Ay!" indeed. <3

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@16 keiru April 15, 2017 at 3:34 AM:

I held my breath the second Nok Soo and the other musicians came into the screen, having already sensed that the scene would be something grand and epic.

I couldn't agree more. What a spectacle!

It was a lot more dynamic than some of the other dances I've seen in other Kdramas. I'm curious as to what kind of dance it was, and whether it has special purpose or significance. There may be a level of subtext that we're missing out on, judging from the king's reaction. He was grooving out and getting hot under the collar.

Or was it simply appreciation akin to that for a sizzling rock guitar solo that makes you want to jump up and down?

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The beat of the Korean drums how they are played here, they change your heartbeat to a faster frequence and you become full of adrenalin. I can't really explain that. One has probably to experience it. It's like, hm: it makes the air flimmer! It's vibrant! - And it doesn't work with a TV in between. - In a way, Nok-soo was mocking court music in that scene.

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@liina April 17, 2017 at 12:13 PM

Aha. I was wondering if there were an inside joke about court music. ;-)

The opening taepyeongso (oboe) introduction could have been a hint at Archangel Gabriel blowing his trumpet to wake the nearly-dead HGD since there's a death-resurrection-rebirth theme in this episode.

I just watched a couple of jjangu videos on YouTube, and they were very invigorating. One of the drummers was seated, and her sticks were flying so fast her hands were a blur.

FYI: Layne Redmond is an American woman who was instrumental in re-introducing women to the frame drum in the US decades ago. She became a percussionist in the 1960s – a time when there were darned few female drummers. She wrote When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm (1997) that traces percussion back to the Paleolithic, and examines the role of female drummers as priestesses and spiritual practitioners in cultures around the world. I got to hear her and her group Mob of Angels perform in a flooded underground limestone mine about 25 years ago. Cosmic! Her YouTube videos of performances and teaching are interesting, especially for devotees of goddesses or beekeeping. (Beekeepers attract wild swarms of honeybees by drumming.)

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According to the wiki article on janggu "The two heads [of a janggu] produce sounds of different pitch and timbre, which when played together are believed to represent the harmony of man and woman." Kind of like a yin/yang concept. I'm not sure if anyone else can glean anything more from that but, I think maybe it's meant to show the inharmonious nature of Nok-soo and Yeonsangun's relationship? She's calm and he's manic? But at the same time, harmony comes from contrast...so...

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@ cloveredlioness April 17, 2017 at 6:55 PM:

"The two heads [of a janggu] produce sounds of different pitch and timbre, which when played together are believed to represent the harmony of man and woman." Kind of like a yin/yang concept. ... I think maybe it's meant to show the inharmonious nature of Nok-soo and Yeonsangun's relationship?

That's nifty. I wonder if hourglass drums in other cultures are emblematic of harmoniousness.

I immediately thought of Gong-hwa and Gil-dong, not Nok-soo and Yeonsangun. The gisaeng prevailed upon HGD to be her drummer. Now I know why. They truly made beautiful music together.

While the king is a very good painter and a music aficionado, he doesn't seem to be a musician himself. His picky and demanding nature is now becoming evident. Nok-soo has never loved him; her heart belongs to another man. Given his distrust of other people, Yeonsangun is incapable of loving her or anyone else, although he may be delusional enough to think otherwise.

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Oooh. You're totally right. Gil-dong and Gong-hwa did show their amazing harmony when they sang/drummed together. So it is another parallel between Yeonsangun and Gil-dong. I'd also say about Yeonsangun as a painter...his paintings seem to lack a certain soul from the subject. They're technically wonderful, but they just lack something. He also doesn't really have a style. It just looks flat.

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That last scene made me scream: "he's pulling a Keyser Soze!!"

I'm kind of relieved that the writer makes the motivation behind Noksoo's decision to aid the king's lavish lifestyle as not only because she needs to survive herself, but not only for herself, but in order to save Gil Dong. That kind of adds another tragic layer to her character and makes her sympathetic.

Here's hoping to see more Garyung in the next episodes. This girl has been kinda sidelined from the action so far. I think it's about time the writer let her to be more involved in the story and be her badass self (because we all know she's capable of it)

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I love the writers' interpretation of Nok-soo as well. We know from history that she is not a nice person but I like how they show that she's not really bad for the sake of it, she's just doing it for survival just like everybody else. That is definitely an interesting take on Nok-soo's characterization.

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Omo! The real Keyser Soze murdered his family a couple of counties away from where I grew up. I still remember reading about it in the local paper. Gil-dong might have been a thug, but he was no John Emil List -- although Yeonsangun could easily pass for him.

I was relieved to see Nok-soo's desire to save Gil-dong.

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On Shim Hee-seob: Woah he totally blow me away with his acting. Did you guys see the teary exchange between Gil Brothers in front of the palace gates? I cried with them :( On Kim Ji-seok: He nailed all his scenes. I almost fell for that tears in the beginning of the episode (*erases all sympathetic feelings for the King*) . When he was infatuated with the drum(?) dance? On point. Seriously, there is no acting hole here, even the King's half-brothers and the two crying children in the middle of the riot are good actors. For a second I thought the King is going to beat the dog to death too for entering his court. We know how unreasonable he can be. Are they not going to show how he pushed his grandmother to death too though? I mean, they already show how he punishes his step mothers, why not go extra, just for that bonus cruelty point so we can have more reason to hate him? Heh. I think the prank on the King was planned by both Gil-hyun and Gil-dong, because we see Gil-dong's smirk after that. I actually yelled huzzah! then. Heh. I think we can safely say that Ok-ran is the real Eorini because 1) Gil-dong recognizes Eorini when one of them started talking, and that person who was talking was Ok-ran and 2) He said that Eorini is crying - Ok-ran definitely has tears in her eyes. But they still show how Gil-dong is looking at both of them at the same time, which drives me crazy lol. Btw, the talk about the King calling pregnant gisaengs separately makes me nervous, especially since some of you has said that the strawberry dream from last episode means Ga-ryung is probably pregnant. I love Gil-dong's turn of character in this episode. Finally he is starting to feel real sympathy for the people. Also, I love that both Gil-dong and Ga-ryung are like, /eff/ everything, I'm going to directly meet the King and ask him if he really kill all these people/my husband. Such feisty couple they are♥

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^I didn't know that deleting a post will leave a trace! Anyway reposting my post again with hopefully a better formatting:

I love that both Gil-dong and Ga-ryung are like, /eff/ everything, I'm going to directly meet the King and ask him if he really kill all these people/my husband. Such feisty couple they are♥
So much ♥.
And yes, thanks for mentioning the king's calling for pregnant gisaengs. I forgot that I want to mention that as well. This scene was the one that somewhat convinced me that Garyung is pregnant.

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That's so weird that he would want pregnant gisaengs. The only reason I can think of wanting pregnant gisaengs is to hold their children hostage and force them to stay at the palace...

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How could I forgot the ending bgm lol. The zorro-like theme music caught me off guard. I chuckled a bit. Reminds me of The Good, The Bad and The Weird. The zorro-meet-joseon music is interesting and funny at the same time. and totally fit for that ending scene! Kudos to sound director.

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@18 enkeys April 15, 2017 at 4:37 AM:

I was half expecting the king to kill the dog, too.

And I agree: the acting in this episode is dynamite.

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All the blood and gore made me want to close my eyes especially the beating of the former king's mistresses. Kudos to all the actors because damn they are good! Kyunsang,the adorable giant that he is, with that mad, cunning and devilish look in his eyes at the end really is perfect ending. I cannot wait for the next ep! Also, has Eorini lost her memories or something? Amnesia due to shock? She didn't even recognize her brother?

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They do mention that she (Ok-ran) has amnesia...forgot which episode it was. Come to think of it, has the other girl (Sang-hwa) mentioned she has amnesia as well? I only remember she mentioned that her mom is not her birth mother... If so, how can she not recognize Gil-dong? One more reason why I believe Ok-ran is Eorini.

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@enkeys:

I didn't know that it was overtly stated that Ok-ran has amnesia. Maybe it was in subtitles I didn't see. Well now it's making more sense to me.

I've been assuming that the reason for the real Eorini's inability to recognize Gil-dong is amnesia due to her near-death experiences (when being dragged before Orabeoni turned berserker the first time, then when falling off the cliff into the river), PTSD, or possible Mighty Child syndrome.

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Thank you for the recap and comments, tineybeanie!

This was definitely a hard watch but also a lot more compelling and fits the bill of the action sageuk Rebel initially was presented as.

Yeonsangun's tyranny is in full swing now and Kim Jisuk couldn't be more chilling as the erratic and insecure King. He has definitely sold me on how volatile and vicious and twisty the King is. I am scared for Gilhyun and Noksoo. And how their "betrayal" would dearly cost them.

Honey Lee was firing on all levels this episode too. She does the restrained grief/anguish/sorrow so well my heart ached whenever Noksoo shed tears for Gildong. I didn't believe Noksoo when she first said it but it appears she wasn't lying when she told the King that she has already given her heart to someone else. (But yes, how's it gonna be when she finds out that Gildong and Garyung are married? Will she change her tune?)

The janggu dance. Oh my heart. I may have held my breathe during that scene. The choreography was beautiful and Honey was even more magnificent. She was grace, elegance, seduction and defiance! And the King looked manic and downright obssessive. (I was half expecting for him to foam at the mouth. Haha.) The downfall from this attachment of his is gonna be so bad.

But truly, I hope this drama paves the way for meatier roles for Honey Lee.

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Agreed with everything you said! I stopped caring about the little details somewhere. I wanted some meat and we finally got some lol.

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And I kinda want Gilhyun and Noksoo to know how they're actually working for the same goal. Y'know, two crafty brains in tandem.

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But I don't understand how she nudged the King towards insanity will help Gil Dong...if anything he will go full blown crazy (if now it's not crazy enough already) when he finds out.

Her own survival, yes, but saving her ex-lover?

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I almost think Nok-su is trying to work two angles. Raising the king's crazy and enabling him pleases the king and puts her in his good graces, but it also means that it will piss off other people like the ministers and commonfolk who will want to take down the king. If her gambles pay off, it means the king may be removed and Gil-dong will be saved. And she might have enough gumption and leverage to play victim and survive.

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The past two episodes had much angst and tragedy but I guess it was somehow necessary for Gildong to overcome this problem so that he would be able to stand up again. But I guess the angst is still not over since we still have the Garyung scene from episode 1. And when will we ever know who Eorini is?

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After watching 6FD, and just in Asian sageuks in general, and of course HBO shows like True Blood and GoT, I didn't really pay attention to the gore/terror. Then after you mentioned Missing 9 I realized that there was really a lot of gore and violence for a cable show. I guess sageuks really do get a pass? Especially if the violence is historically accurate, and because people generally know about the atrocities that Yeongsangun commited. Like we know a show about the Tudors that don't showcase a bazillion beheadings and conspiracies and disease isn't a show about the Tudors at all.

I've literally only seen Kim Ji Seok in Personal Taste and Another Oh Hae Young so I couldn't take him seriously the first few episodes...not anymore...man I love that actor so much more now

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@ 23 Jessi Bear:

You might want to watch CHUNO to catch Kim Ji-suk as youngest slave hunter Wang-Son -- a character temperamentally reminiscent of Gil-dong during his peddler days. (Not to mention it's got Jang Hyuk's boffo fight scenes and a the mother of all soundtracks. MC Sniper, manseh!) ;-)

As for the gore in REBEL, I don't think it's over the top, given what's in the historical record.

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I kind of agree that maybe viewers don't mind
the violence if it's historically accurate. "SFD" was a fusion sageuk. "Jeong Do Jeon" was the more historical version, the real sageuk with blood and gore. It has one of the most well directed full scale battle I've seen in a long time. We don't get to see that in sageuks anymore because it's time consuming and expensive. The majority of the viewers were men and no one was complaining. Maybe it has something to do with the type of audience it attracts too.

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Sorry I have to mention the drama that should not have been named, but I think Dr Jin also managed to get away with the unnecessary bloody injury and gory surgical procedures...

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I think there has to be a special dispensation for hospital shows. Or there should be. ROMANTIC DOCTOR, TEACHER KIM and BEAUTIFUL MIND had their gory moments, but they were not over the top (except for the aftermath of a certain construction accident in the latter show).

In the show that I will not name (but which was my first Kdrama!), it was the brain fetus that grossed me out. ;-)

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Honey Lee, Kim Ji Suk and our veterans actually the ones who made me stay until this epi. I feel sorry to Yoon Kyun Sang that I still not connected with his version of Gil Dong. I keep imagining how about this or that actor playing this role. sigh. I feel anbit guilty because I know he is good and he was good in SFD, but if Yeonsangun and Noksoo played by some average actors, I dont think I will continue to watch. Chae Soo Bin as Ga Ryung is more meaningful to me.

Anyway I am looking forward to see what will happen next week. I want to see Nok soo becomes really evil but seems this show wont go there. I hope Kim Ji Suk and Honey Lee receive award this year. I am still mourning that Song Yoon Ah didnt even nominated for Baeksang, when she was really stellar in K2.

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Thank you for the recap, tineybeanie!

HGD's musings to himself at the end of the episode indicate to me that he's neither going to serve this king as a general (sorry Amogae!), nor become a king himself. It's just not possible for a person of his status to do the latter. That leaves acting as an agent of fortune who will help clear the way for a better king to replace Yeonsangun. The Heavens sent a Mighty Child (or two or three) to clean house in the event the Son of Heaven failed to live up to his own job description.

Rebel Thief Who Stole the People Ep 23 Preview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT_gHf7ghPA

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In one of the threads I referenced in #25 in the episode 21 recap comments, there was a point about Park Do-kyung in OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN that is cogent to Gil-dong. If you think of REBEL as a character study, what is the one developmental task he has to accomplish? I think that it is coming to grips with his Mighty Child powers and becoming willing to use them correctly as a champion in the true sense of the word. Until now, he's been a reluctant hero, and has not wanted to hear the bellyaching of the downtrodden.

That reminds me of something I once read about bodhisattvas. They aren't necessarily composed, beatific beings who patiently forgo nirvana until all sentient creatures achieve enlightenment. They can be cranky and pissed off at everyone for dawdling around. I'd never thought about it that way before. It's analogous to Jesus reaching the end of his rope and in high dudgeon kicking the money changers out of the temple.

In Gil-dong's case, there's maybe a bit more to the bodhisattva angle. Kwan Yin / Gwan-eum is She Who Hears the Cries of the World. Is part of HGD's hero's journey the cultivation of compassion, and backing it up with the strength that has been bestowed upon him? I don't know exactly how the Mountain Spirit fits in, but I can't forget that the supernatural tiger is in the mix, too.

It occurs to me that She Who Hears the Cries of the World might actually be Ga-ryung. She's the one who encourages Gil-dong to help the oppressed when his anger at the injustices of the social order become too much for him to bear. Instead of going on a rampage, help someone in need, she tells him when he gets back home for a pit stop. Which is what Buddhist monk Ilchung did when he asked Gil-dong to help the old man whose daughter had been killed by her husband. IIRC, Gil-dong complained that Ilchung was always bringing people with problems to him. But what do you expect? He's a monk! And he probably knows a thing or two about compassion.

At the end of episode 22, Gil-dong's mental conversation with Gil-hyun regarding his anger is illuminating. He had to get past the personal anger that he'd felt since he was a small child before he could truly commiserate with the rest of the dregs of society. He had to undergo catharsis in the form of another near-death experience before he could share in the sorrows of the people. The collective sadness he is now experiencing is no longer overshadowed by his personal grief over his sister.

And yes, as another Beanie pointed out, I did notice that Gil-dong's transformation / spiritual rebirth occurred during Holy Week. The timing is eerily apropos.

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OMG. This drama is reaching Lost levels of intentional references and allusions. I'm loving it. I also find it interesting that Gil-dong has to feel sadness to let go of his anger (which had motivated all his vengeful actions prior) in order to find the compassion and empathy to become truly heroic. All throughout the drama, Gil-dong was always able to get a win by going further up the social hierarchy and manipulating people to get a beneficial outcome, but when he runs out of people to go up to and is stuck with the king, he finally becomes those helpless people who have begged him to help them. He becomes the person with no one else to turn to and is forced into being dehumanized and he can finally empathize with others in a similar situation.

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Thanks @pakalanapikake and @cloveredlioness for all these interesting points. I have not been this invested in drama's allusions, references, parallelisms, etc ever since my English Lit class in comprehensive school eons years ago :D (and it's been a while since a drama provoked lot of wordy thoughts in me :D ). Keeping my fingers crossed that this drama won't end like LOST though.

All throughout the drama, Gil-dong was always able to get a win by going further up the social hierarchy and manipulating people to get a beneficial outcome, but when he runs out of people to go up to and is stuck with the king, he finally becomes those helpless people who have begged him to help them. He becomes the person with no one else to turn to and is forced into being dehumanized and he can finally empathize with others in a similar situation.

You definitely hit the nail on the head there @cloveredlioness! This brought me back to episode 16 (?) when that scholar thanked him for taking care of the people who have been bullying his half-brother, and instead Gil-dong said that he hates people like him who can't stand up for themselves. I wondered how he would go from that thinking to become truly heroic in the end, and this week's episodes answered it.

Not to mention that the situation has never really been so dire for the last 14 episodes until it finally hit us like a truck of doom. It's almost like the writer wants to put us in GilDong's shoes. Because admittedly, before these episodes aired (and before I saw the stills spoilers), I was expecting that Gil Dong would have something up his sleeve to get him and Hongvengers out of the prison like he's been doing so far, which he did, but then it backfired (with that great plot twist) and all hell broke loose.

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Right? The last two episodes of Lost don't exist for me lol. I have headcanoned that away! I too was wondering for AAAGES how Gil-dong would become a hero because he was definitely a gang leader/Jax Teller since Ikhwari got taken over by Heo Tae Hak. And he did good things, but he wasn't necessarily heroic. And I know it was frustrating for people (it was frustrating for me!) but I'm glad Gil-dong has finally reached that point of true heroism in a journey that was really worth it.

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Haha, you do know, that some of the old written versions of the novel end with a part from "The cloud dream of the nine" indicating that the whole Hong Gil-dong novel is just a dream. :D
Luckily that part is said to be added to the story later and no original part, so there is hope that the drama is not a dream! :D

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Lol. Joseon purgatory realness. They better not have a smoke monster. Or a polar bear. Bears of any kind. Deserted islands. Please no lol.

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I'm gonna be really peeved if this whole story turns out to be a doggone dream. Harumph! ;-)

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