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Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People: Episode 29

A powerful final battle looms in the penultimate episode of our hero’s epic, and it’s time for everyone to pick sides. Gil-dong politically maneuvers his enemies and allies, forcing everyone to choose between a manic ruler or the rebellious people. And with the rumor of the king’s defeat resonating in the villages and the palace, it seems that the rebels may stand a chance at becoming the true pulse of the nation.

 
EPISODE 29 RECAP

We see a montage of the previous episode’s epic battle and hear the passionate cries of the people who won their fight against the king. After their victory, the wounded rebels return to Hyangjumok, and Gil-hyun comes with a special guest for Eorini. It’s Ok-ran, along with the other palace musicians, and Eorini embraces her friend with a warm hug.

Gil-hyun finds Gil-dong sitting by an unconscious Ga-ryung, and he soon falls unconscious as well. Gil-hyun rushes to his side and finds a pool of blood forming from Gil-dong’s unattended injuries.

Our other Hong Bandits are injured as well, but they’re conscious and alive. Yonggae’s heart skips a beat when one of Eorini’s fellow palace musicians gets too close to treat him; Soboori whines like a child when Deputy Governor Eom tries to treat his wounds; and Ilchung, Keutsae, and Eop-san revel in their near-death experience before proceeding to roughhouse on the ground like brothers.

The rumor of Hyangjumok’s victory spreads to another village, and the rumors become more believable with talk of the Hong General being on the side of Hyangjumok’s people. A merchant tells his friend about how Hyangjumok has become a haven for people who wish to escape the tyrannical rule of the king, but at the price of many casualties and injuries. But the friend wishes that he could live freely for once and fight like the people of Hyangjumok. The merchant hushes his friend, but not before Scholar Song overhears this unsettling conversation.

At the palace, the ministers gather to discuss the unnerving sight they witnessed as well as the chilling song of the rebels. One of the ministers, Park Won-jong (who would later become the prime minister of the next ruler, King Jungjong), does not share the same anxious sentiment and sits in silence.

The king squirms in his sleep as he dreams about the rebels rushing to kill him. He jolts awake from his nightmare and calls Eunuch Kim to tell him about his vivid dream about the defeat and of how he escaped by disguising himself as a commoner. He says that it almost felt real, and at this point, it’s clear to Eunuch Kim that the king is in denial of what has happened.

Nok-soo enters the room and assures Yeonsangun that everything in his dream was not real. She sits next to him and places his head on her lap, coaxing him back to sleep. As he falls asleep, Nok-soo sheds a tear, sympathizing with his denial.

Later that night, Nok-soo wakes up after nodding off to find that Yeonsangun has disappeared. She finds him outside and cautiously approaches him. He turns to her and says that everything was not just a dream. Once he verbalizes his realization, he begins to convulse with anger, then desperation, then fury. As he falls down with overwhelming emotion, Nok-soo watches him with tears welling up in her eyes.

Jeong-hak and Madam Jo kneel in front of a minister who sentences Jeong-hak to his punishment — for not fulfilling his duty, the punishment is death. But thanks to the previous contributions of his mother, his life will be spared. Instead, he says, mother and son will serve as the king’s slaves.

Madam Jo’s face falls, and she refuses to be dragged away. She tells the minister to kill her instead and cries that she’s worked all her life to make her son a judge. Finally, she cries so hard with indignation that she falls unconscious.

Yeonsangun demands for more soldiers to be sent to Hyangjumok to destroy them completely, but the ministers remain silent. Minister Park Won-jong steps up and agrees to follow the king’s demand before requesting some time to feed the horses.

Afterward, the ministers meet to discuss their next course of action. Even though Hyangjumok has been severely affected by the battle, the ministers don’t believe that sending more of the king’s soldiers will destroy the village because of Gil-dong. As long as Gil-dong is there, the spirit of the people stays alive.

Speaking of, Gil-dong wakes up from his unconscious state next to Ga-ryung. He turns to face her and gently holds her hand as he asks why she’s sleeping for so long — is it because she hates him? He says that she doesn’t need to forgive him, but he begs for her to wake up. Gil-dong cries as he holds her hand close, and Ga-ryung’s body remains still. But then, her finger twitches. (Yes! The dramaland signal of life!)

The shaman leads the ladies through the woods and instructs them to gather as many nourishing plants as possible. As Ok-ran starts to search further away, Eorini warns her not to go too far, and she nods. But of course, Ok-ran goes a little too far, and she finds an abandoned shed. She cautiously enters the shabby structure and gasps when she sees an injured person in the corner. It’s Mori — very weak and injured, but alive!

Eorini looks around for her friend and calls out for her. Ok-ran thankfully returns in one piece and pretends that nothing is wrong. Hmm, so she just left him there to die?

A tear falls on Gil-dong’s hand, and he slowly opens his eyes. He looks up and finds Ga-ryung tearfully looking at him. He gets up and says, “If this is a dream, let’s not wake up. Let’s live in this dream forever. If we’ve died, let’s stay here.” But Ga-ryug confirms that it’s really her by bringing his hand to her face. He feels her physically there, and all the floodgates open up. They embrace longingly, crying in each other’s arms.

Ga-ryung returns to her Hong family with Gil-dong at her side, and they all welcome back their talkative sister. She spots the palace musicians in the room then, and Wolhamae looks relieved to see her alive and well.

They all gather to discuss the future of the palace musicians: Eorini and the other musician, Baek-gyun, decide to stay with the rebels, but Wolhamae asks to return to the palace. The palace musicians try to dissuade her, but she explains she left her daenggi friend (her instrument) there. But more importantly, Nok-soo is in the palace alone.

Upon hearing the news of Wolhamae’s return to the palace, Nok-soo urgently searches for her. She barely holds in her tears as she approaches Wolhamae and takes her hand. She cries and admits that she thought she’d never see her again. Wolhamae says that she wouldn’t leave Nok-soo alone, and they smile happily in reunion.

Jeong-hak serves as a slave at the palace, and the ministers uncomfortably face their new slave as he helps them take off their boots. Inside, Minister Park updates that king that the horses are almost ready to leave, since the king is determined to uproot and incinerate the whole village.

The Hyangjumok villagers receive news of the king’s deployment of more troops, and Gil-hyun confirms that their temporary haven will eventually face another battle as long as Hyanjumok remains labeled as a rebel village by the king. A woman asks how they can change their label, and no one seems to have a solution. But Gil-dong speaks up with a radical suggestion: “We don’t need to change the king’s mind. We just need to change the king.” Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Gil-dong explains that the people of Hyangjumok initially had no intention of becoming rebels, but the king labeled them a rebel village anyway and sent troops to destroy them. If they leave this king in his place, he will surely seek retaliation for his defeat. “So, we must choose. We must choose to become real rebels. That is the way for Hyangjumok to live. Let’s get rid of the king.”

The villagers nod in agreement, and Ga-ryung watches the people from afar, proudly realizing that her husband is not exclusively her person anymore. As she walks away, Gil-dong catches up to her from behind and asks what’s on her mind, and she says that she’s just impressed that her husband is confronting the king. He knows there’s more and nudges her to continue, so she admits that she’s also scared, and Gil-dong embraces her. He tells her not to worry, promising her that they won’t separate again.

Yeonsangun anxiously paces in his room with a bottle of liquor in his hand. He continues to take swigs from the bottle, trying to get the voices out of his head, but to no avail. He hears the voices from the battle and the echoing song of the rebels, and he covers his ears in desperation. When Eunuch Kim enters the room with Scholar Song, the king throws the bottle at him and walks out with a sword in hand.

Outside his room, Yeonsangun wildly swings his sword at his hallucinations. Eunuch Kim is joined by Scholar Song and Nok-soo, who watch the king’s derailment with some fear. Then, Scholar Song falls to his knees in front of the king and reminds him that he’s the great enforcer of social elitism. Scholar Song urges him not to fear, for the king is the person who is widely feared by the socially inferior. For a moment, the king believes him, but then he remembers that there are exceptions because there are people who refuse to fear him, which means that his power is limited.

And so the king’s hallucinations return, and he swings his sword in the air. He hears the voices again and trembles with his ears covered until Nok-soo wraps him in hanbok. Under her hanbok, the king doesn’t hear the voices and looks like a child at ease under his mother’s protection. With that, Nok-soo asks Scholar Song to leave for the day.

When Scholar Song returns to his home, he expresses his disappointment about how a meager village could ruin his life’s work in making the useless king into a powerful politician. He decides that he needs someone to save the situation, and we see that he chooses Minister Park.

The rumors about Hyangjumok have reached far and wide, and the king’s reputation has become increasingly weaker. Gil-hyun predicts that one of the king’s ministers will soon approach them about partnering up, and he’s right. An arrow with a message arrives at the Hyangjumok gates, and Gil-hyun identifies their potential partner as Pyungsunggoon, aka Minister Park. He seems more confident in Minister Park because he was once punished for sticking to his values and because his sister was rumored to have been punished by the king.

Minister Park prepares to meet with Gil-dong, and we see in a quick flashback that Scholar Song requested that he help their cause for the king. Scholar Song nervously watches this interaction from above as the rebels arrive at their rendezvous location. In their meeting, Minister Park warns the rebels about more troops headed their way — while they may have defeated the king’s forces once, it will be difficult a second time. He makes an offer: They can send those who killed the most soldiers for punishment and then flee Joseon with the rest of the people.

But Gil-dong doesn’t accept the offer and responds with a greater warning about the king being destroyed first. Ilchung confirms that the rumors about Hyangjumok have spread throughout the nation, and people believe that their unfair treatment can be avenged. When the people come for the king, those supporting the king will go down with him. Gil-hyun says that those who have made it this far — by accusing their colleagues, by flattering the king — will suffer the same punishment from the people.

Gil-dong tells Minster Park that the only way for him to survive is to bring down the king. At that, Minister Park takes out his sword, but Gil-dong’s two rebels take out their swords in defense. Gil-dong pushes the blade aside and tells Minister Park to think about whether he wants to live or die. From above, Scholar Song scowls at Gil-dong’s audacity.

Back at the palace, the ministers fret about the former generals and ministers who have escaped exile. Upon hearing about Hyangjumok, it seems that these runaways have found the courage to escape and face the king. If they were to get revenge, the minters worry that they will likely get back at them, since they scapegoated their colleagues to remain in power.

Minister Park urges the ministers to report this to the king, but the other ministers have already given up on finding him. After the Hyangjumok incident, the king has hidden himself away deep in the palace, nowhere to be found. Still, Minister Park is determined to find the king.

They first search the entertainment theater, where a group of dancers is performing, but the ministers only find Nok-soo seated to watch the performance. Then, one of the performers takes off his mask, revealing himself to be the king. Yeonsangun happily asks the ministers to join him in the dance, and Minister Park realizes at this moment that Yeonsangun can no longer be the king.

Later that night, Minister Park seeks the advice of Scholar Song, who already suspects that his life’s work will soon be overthrown. He tells Minister Park that there are two routes of overthrowing the king: fail and face the death of their entire families, or succeed with the support of the people and remain as the people’s hero. If they can pull off a coup, then this is a feasible feat — but this all depends on Gil-dong, who holds the key to people’s sentiment. Minister Park must officially confirm Gil-dong’s support for the possibility of a coup.

Minister Park meets with Gil-dong again, this time to request his support. Gil-dong assures him that the people will stand behind the coup, but he warns him not to forget where their power will come from. He threateningly says that they’ll be watching.

Minister Park gathers his fellow ministers and begins to organize the coup. They’re driven by the possibility of honor and merit as public servants, but they’re mostly propelled by their survival instincts — if they don’t overthrow the king first, then the people will surely kill them.

After a dance performance on his own, the king takes of his mask and orders Eunuch Kim to prepare for a banquet. But in a split second, he decides the cancel the feast because the weather isn’t good. Suddenly in a depressed mood, Yeonsangun sits on the ground, and Nok-soo joins him. He says that he’s in a mood and that he feels no excitement, and he looks like he’s slowly losing his soul.

An arrow with a message hits a pillar in the palace, and one servant reads the message that warns the palace of a coup coming to overthrow the king. The servants frantically escape, jumping over the palace walls to save themselves from the rebel attack. Eunuch Kim swings his sword at his fellow servants and orders them to defend the king, but their fear overwhelms any remaining loyalty. Seeing their desperation to live, Eunuch Kim lets them run.

He walks back into the palace and faces Nok-soo, with Wolhamae at her side. She comments that the palace feels especially empty today, and Eunuch Kim assures her that they will return after chasing the rat who infiltrated the palace. Nok-soo tears up, reading between his lies and understanding what’s ahead. She asks Eunuch Kim to prepare a big feast and accompany the king while she prepares for their final celebration.

Eunuch Kim wakes the king up and announces a great banquet prepared by Nok-soo. He gets up and notices that no other servants are around, but Eunuch Kim says that he’ll prepare the king himself for the special occasion. As Eunuch Kim cleans Yeonsangun up, he nostalgically comments on the king’s younger days, when he served the king as proxy for the nation. Yeonsangun nods lifelessly.

The king enters his entertainment quarters to find the whole room empty. He asks where his musicians have gone, and Nok-soo gently lowers him to sit down. She assures him that he still has her and Wolhamae, but he still looks confused. Wolhamae offers her performance and prefaces it with a word of gratitude to the king for collecting Joseon’s best musicians and for allowing her to live in their company. Then, she thanks Nok-soo and plays her instrument. She sings her final song, and the king watches with blank eyes.

Minister Park prepares for the coup at the gates of the palace, and he remembers the warning from Scholar Song that Gil-dong must promise the support of the people in order for the coup to be successful. The ministers get anxious about the people who have yet to show up, but then a roaring crowd arrives. They yell in rebellion for a new king, and Minister Park’s eyes fill with determination.

As promised, Gil-dong and the Hong Bandits watch the people gather and prepare to overthrow the king from afar. Minister Park yells to initiate their invasion, and they begin their revolution, all under the careful watch of the wielder of the people’s spirit.

The palace is in chaos as the servants try to run away for their lives, but Jeong-hak turns around toward the palace gates. He opens the gates for Minister Park and tells him the king’s location. With that, Minister Park enters the palace with a flood of people charging in. Off to the side, Gil-dong and the Hong Bandits watch with satisfaction, and Gil-hyun looks especially pleased with Jeong-hak’s reversal.

Minister Park approaches the entertainment quarters, and comes face to face with Eunuch Kim. He requests that the king face an honorable death, but Eunuch Kim only clutches his sword with a pained look on his face.

From inside, Yeonsangun hears the screams from outside and wonders what’s happening. Nok-soo takes his hand, reminding him that he is the king and urging him to remain bold. His eyes widen in slow realization, and Nok-soo stops Eunuch Kim from relaying the message until Wolhamae finishes her song. Eunuch Kim struggles to say the words and gets to his knees to deliver the heartbreaking message requesting that the king die an honorable death.

Minister Park and his forces enter the entertainment quarters, and Nok-soo watches them approach with a tearful and knowing look. Yeonsangun looks at them with a renewed fire in his eyes, finally awake from his lifeless slumber.

 
COMMENTS

These last couple episodes have really been nailing it with the emotional and epic beats, and I’m so content. It’s been extremely gratifying to watch our baddies receive rightful punishment in an ultimate twist of irony. Seeing Madam Jo be condemned into a life as a slave was a great finish to her story arc, proving once again that karma’s a bitch. And I do find Jeong-hak’s reversal in the end gratifying as well, because he also unintentionally became a part of the rebel movement. It’s a cheeky way to end the wretched fate between our Hong family and the Jo family, and I like the closure I got from seeing them suffer.

I notice that I’ve turned into a bit of a sadistic creature with this show, and I blame the king for all of that. It’s been amazing to watch the chilling performance put on by Kim Ji-suk as the insufferable King Yeonsangun, and I would say that he was at his best in this episode as he smoothly portrayed his fluctuating personas. At times a child, at times a madman, at times a bloodthirsty king, he played Yeonsangun with such rich emotion and a palpable desperation for power. Watching Yeonsangun slowly being engulfed by his own demons was a sight, and Kim Ji-suk has done an incredible job in making that sight both pitiful and enjoyable.

I really loved how Nok-soo’s relationship with Wolhamae was highlighted in this episode, though I wish we had more of it earlier. There was so much exchanged in a single glance when Wolhamae prepared to perform her final performance. I think it would have made me more sympathetic towards Nok-soo, who I lost interest in about halfway through the show, if we had seen more of this relationship sooner. She stopped being the complex character that I first learned to love, and she simplified herself and objectified herself as a subject of the king’s desires. Though she remained stubbornly proud through this episode, I think she redeemed herself a little bit by showing us that her true vulnerabilities lie with the people she loves.

I knew that Ga-ryung would come back to life because there was no way Gil-dong would be able to continue being the beating heart of the revolution without her — his heart would be so broken that it couldn’t fuel such a movement. But even though it was expected, the reunion between the lovers was so heartwarming. Yoon Kyun-sang and Chae Soo-bing acted with an emotional intimacy that filled the tender moment of their reunion with so much heart and emotion. Once again, I’m so impressed with these two, and I look forward to seeing them in more sageuks. Because after this performance, how could they not be cast in another sageuk?

I thought that last week’s episode drained me of all the chills and tears, but I still got the chills and honestly got emotional when the people gathered to rebel. And I really appreciate that Gil-dong isn’t the leader the movement most of all. He’s strong physically, but his strength as a mover of the people is what makes him the Mighty Child. I love that the show committed to that calling instead of resorting to his immense power to solve all issues. Gil-dong is the heart of the people, and that’s so much more powerful that the mysterious strength he was born with. I have so many words for this show, but ultimately, I just loved it. It was an incredible ride, and these avengers brightened my weeks with their charm, wit, and camaraderie. Thank you, show, for being a good one. Here’s hoping for a great finale.

 
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I'm just so impressed with this show! It's been such an emotional rollercoaster, with a few low points but so many good high moments <3 <3 <3 I have nothing but love for this show. The emotions are so raw and the acting is all on point!

The only thing I'm waiting for at the point is whether or not they're going to address that question about what happened to Gil-dong in the forest with the tiger! It's been gnawing at my brain this whole time!

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Thanks for the recap, dramallama!
And BIG YES to all of this:
"And I really appreciate that Gil-dong isn’t the leader the movement most of all. He’s strong physically, but his strength as a mover of the people is what makes him the Mighty Child. I love that the show committed to that calling instead of resorting to his immense power to solve all issues. Gil-dong is the heart of the people, and that’s so much more powerful that the mysterious strength he was born with. I have so many words for this show, but ultimately, I just loved it. It was an incredible ride, and these avengers brightened my weeks with their charm, wit, and camaraderie. Thank you, show, for being a good one. Here’s hoping for a great finale."

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Anyway *tries hard to keep my comments to what I felt after only seeing this episode*

1. I WAS SO HAPPY THAT GARYUNG WOKE UP! Seeing Gildong on her bedside bleeding while holding her hands and when he’s begging for GaRyung to come back did all sort of things to my shipping heart. And I loved that GilDong thought he was dreaming when GaRyung woke up because that’s what we’ve been thinking of that scene when we saw the preview! :D Btw, did anyone else notice that both of them have matching wounds near the heart? You definitely don’t get more OTP than that.

2. I loved the bromance and the womance in this episode. Eorini and OkRan and Nok Soo and Wolhamae. I appreciated the fact that Wolhamae stayed loyal to Nok Soo till the end. Theirs was beautiful friendship. Also Soboori and Magistrate Eom are just like old married couple. I love ‘em. And I don’t know if I can call it bromance, but Eunuch Kim’s loyalty was also very commendable.

3. Song Sabu changing his tune to support the rebellion made me bite my nails because I’m worried of what kind of twisted plan he has up his sleeve.

4. Soo Hak and Madam Jo sentenced as slaves was truly a gratifying moment. I love how this show is giving us very satisfying ends to our villains. So 3 down (not counting Yi Yung), 1 more to go!

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Same!! I was thinking that too! I thought this isn't possible that Ga ryung is awake and well. I thought Gil dong was dreaming! So I was actually surprised when she said that it's really her. I was so glad that she was ok! I thought it would take her a while to wake up, but I'm glad that we got to see her well and reunited with her Orabonie!

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Yes. I'm so glad we didn't spend the whole episode waiting for her to wake up!

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I know. That's what I thought was going to happen. And I loved how heartwarming the following scene was. The whole family gathered around her to welcome her back. I had tears in my eyes.

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@ravennightstar yes - my heart was so much warm from that scene...

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I love it when Nok Soo greets Wolhamae, she looks so sincere with her feelings towards her (possibly) only friend. The scene between Nok Soo and Eunuch Kim's helpless expression were still abled to tug at my heartstrings, I felt sorry for the supposedly evil bad villain

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I loved it from the moment she's running outside to look for Wolhamae. I wondered if she felt guilty about leaving her behind.
And YES to still feel sorry for the villains. That scene when she told him that the palace is so empty for some reasons just got me. Like I know she had betrayed GaRyung because of her jealousy and whatnot but still I couldn't quite hate her.

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Right? I felt sooo pissed at her for betraying Ga-ryung...but she pulls me back with things like this and I can't quite hate her even if I want to. Sooo badly lol.

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@latteholic May 16, 2017 at 8:45 PM:

Btw, did anyone else notice that both of them have matching wounds near the heart?

I noticed them, too. Gil-dong's was subtle, but it was there.

@18 nico8 May 17, 2017 at 9:54 AM: thanks for the reminder that it was Mori who gave HGD the chest wound. It took another Mighty Child to injure him there physically, but it was Ga-ryung's leaving that cut him to the quick. And there's no time for them to talk in this episode, so he's still in the dark as to why she left.

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I've always thought it was interesting how the first half of this series is about Ga-ryung's unwavering affection and devotion to Gil-dong and the second half is about Gil-dong's towards her. It's another perfect parallel in this series.

You go through that first part of the series and you're never quite sure if Gil-dong really feels anything romantic for Ga-ryung until episode 15/16. And it's Ga-ryung who anchors the relationship. But in the second half, Gil-dong really pulls his weight and all of the longing and emotional pull comes from him towards the end. (Not that Ga-ryung doesn't pull her weight...but it's the contrast in the series)

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And he has the relationship with Nok-soo that has weight and significance in the series for long after it ends...it's really a testament to the chemistry between Yoon Kyun-sang and Chae Soo-bin, plus their acting, to overcome that and make you really root for them.

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Lol, whoever liked my comment...sorry guys. I had to take away a sentence, as it didn't make sense. But thanks for liking it! I didn't see the upvotes when I deleted the comment.

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Thanks @dramallama for the recap!

"I notice that I’ve turned into a bit of a sadistic creature with this show."

This was my first thought as I watched the powerful king reduced to become a madman, tormented by cries of people waging war against him. I asked myself what the Show has done to me. But I know the king deserved everything he got in this episode and more. But thanks to Kim Ji Hyuk's amazing performance, I also felt pity for him! How he could have rule if only he had listened to his people. How different would he have been if he had accepted that his methods of getting people under his control was not just wrong, but barbaric. And while I felt pity for him, I knew that anything less than what he got in this episode would have left me utterly disappointed. So I was glad to see his world crumbling apart...as he tried to hold onto the weak rope attached to his throne: his kingship, entitlement, his people (those who in the end finally turned their backs on him).
I loved the scene where Nok Soo hides him under her skirts. It says so much about them both. He is literally haunted by his demons. He can hear the screams and cries of his enemies. And the only person to offer him comfort is Nok Soo. And here I thought she was after power. Does she really, truly love the king now? Even though he has lost almost everything? Why is she still offering him comfort?

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*Kim Ji-suk
Omg so many typos...my bad:(

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I liked that scene as well. Not sure if Nok Soo truly loves him, but maybe she's grown attached to him? At this point, I believe she's just trying to prove to herself that she's making the right decision by choosing to stay with the king, and so she's still offering him comfort.

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Ah yes. She's probably justifying that she made the right decision and she's going to stick with it. Pretty sad though.

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I believe when Gonghwa started anew as Noksu, she steered herself to own up all the choices that she makes. It's the only semblance of control she has in her life. She was robbed of that as a gisaeng's child forced to become like her mother. Ever since that day, she existed for that goal: to lead her life on her terms.

The way she understood Yi Yung's not capable of love and the way she understood her going to the palace led Garyung and Gildong together are proof that as much as resistant survivalist she is, Noksu accepts all the responsibilities of her actions. Even if they eventually doom her.

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@michyeosseo May 18, 2017 at 12:32 AM,

...Noksu accepts all the responsibilities of her actions. Even if they eventually doom her.

I have to hand it to her for living life on her own terms. And unlike Song Sabu and Madam Jo, and numerous craven ministers who try to weasel out of the consequences of their treachery, she faces the consequences of her actions head on.

This one's for you, Nok-soo.

Frank Sinatra - My Way (1969)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egY8rUpxqcE

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I think that's it- and that's also why it's impossible for her to turn away from the king or acknowledge that this path might have seemed like a way out at first but is ultimately going to lead to her ruin. She did the best she could and made the most of her options, but she can't admit to mistakes because of what it means about her having control (and it's true that had she stayed until Gil-dong came back, they'd have been together - but that's not how life or her choices worked, and at the time it didn't seem like the best option for her).

@PakalanaPikake - perfect song title for Nok-soo, really.

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Yeah, Kim Ji Suk did a good job at portraying all of Yeonsangun's complex emotions. I can't believe he was once Park Do Kyung's silly friend

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Hahaha. Sadly, I haven't watched Another Oh Hae Young. But I heard that he was great at comedy. Will watch it one day. *writes it on my ever growing to watch list*

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LOL see this. ?? He was so hilarious in this drama.

https://youtu.be/bLUBW5qVofw;

https://youtu.be/QRbHZU2NRc0;

https://youtu.be/9NrHw8oL_g0;

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@Sera the Ms Temper
Ooh thanks for this! I'll have a look:D

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I posted some scenes of Kim Ji Seok in Oh Hae Young but it is awaiting moderation. ?
But I really really love him in this drama.

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I will just mention the code word: "dancing credit scene". He's hilarious in that one! ?

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He was a wimp in Personal Taste :D

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LOL! I haven't seen this either. I remember not being interested in the plot and promo materials. So I didn't watch it.

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Haha, I first saw Kim Ji Suk as a slave hunter in Chuno! Then as the good teacher in Sassy Go Go. He is one talented actor.

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Ooh yes, I forgot he was in Sassy Go Go! He was a great teacher!

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It’s possible that Nok-soo did love the king, although maybe not as deeply as she did Gil-dong. Somewhere in her heart, she probably felt a deep regard for the king that she was unwilling to admit, veiling it instead as a choice that she did not regret. After all, she knew him best (or at least equal to Eunuch Kim).

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Nok soo really hasn't made it clear that she loves the king. But like you said, it may be possible. But yea, it's not the same love she had for Gil dong. But I'm just surprised that she's sticking close to the king, when he has nothing now. I guess that convincing herself that she made the right choice was more important than running away from her choices.

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Instead of love, I think Nok-soo feels kinda indebted to Yeonsangun. He was the one who made it possible for her to punish the old minister who violated her in her teens. Like previously when she said she will save Gil-dong's life, that was due to what Gil-dong did for her when she was in the gibang (loving her, changing her). Even Ga-ryung, she was about to embrace Ga-ryung as one of her person until she found out Ga-ryung's true intention.

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I don't think it's love that Nok-soo felt for the king, but I do think it's an absolute loyalty that comes from, as @enkeys said, her feelings of indebtedness. She knows what he is, and she knows the nature of their relationship - and while he does have great regard for her and is very attached to her, she's almost like a human security blanket for him more than an actual person.

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Kim Ji Suk was amazing, great acting, I actually felt sorry for him in this episode, especially when he was hiding under Nok Soo's skirt too ... in the previous episodes I hated him to the bones when he was torturing Gil Dong.

Also so glad Ga Ryung is alive and her and Gil Dong finally reunited ...

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Yea, he's doing a great job making us hate and pity him at the same time.

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They have more like a mother and child relationship than being lovers. Nok-soo didn't have much choice than to abandon her own child. In a way the king is the child she is not going to abandon.

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Ooh good point! It really did seem like a motherly love to me!

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The historical record of Jang Nok-soo mentions that she used to treat the king like a baby, so the part where she physically hides him behind her skirt is perfectly in line with that.

I love how some of the more whimsical/dramatic-seeming moments - the king having his father's concubines beaten to death, punishing a minister for spilling a drink, the extreme devotion to song and dance, and the artistry of Nok-soo herself - are taken from history.

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Nok-soo may be able to provide comfort for the king...but her comfort is also a form of codependency and further enables the king's poor behaviour. It's what ultimately leads him to be deposed because Song Sabu saw it and knew that he was unfit to be king. Basically, she provides him with comfort, but it's not really what Yeonsangun needs to deal with the reality of his situation.

I do however think she has grown a measure of affection for him. It's just not a love/relationship that is healthy.

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Gil Dong's calm reaction when he saw that Ga Ryung has woke up.. I screamed in my head, "why is he so freaking calm?!" Turns out boy has had too many dreams that when he gets to see his real wife in front of him, he cautiously thinks that it's just another dream.. poor Gil Dong..

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HAHAHA. Thats what I thought! And then I was like aw man this is a dream isn't it? That's why he's so calm!

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Ikr? I wasn't that surprised when Ga Ryung woke up cuz I knew she would.. I was just more surprised by Gil Dong's reaction and yea so glad it wasn't a dream!

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yeah, that was me too! Only I was freaking out myself wondering if it was a very photorealistic dream like the one Gil-hyun had of Ahmogae on his death.

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Also, I can't believe they didn't show us how Gil Dong would introduce Ga Ryung to his siblings. I want to see a proper reaction from Gil Hyun and Eorini. But I guess it's not really a right moment to show us about Hong family scenes when there's a huge rebellion plan to overthrow the King of Joseon right in front of them..

Anyway, I haven't watched the last episode so I hope there won't be any (even tiniest) spoiler about the ending in the comment section ^^ thanks..

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Me too! I wanted Ga ryung to have a conversation with Eorini. To clear of some of their past misunderstandings. But I only got a smile. Oh well.

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I guess introductions are moot when your first proper sight of your sister-in-law/her realising that she is your sister-in-law, is her tied to a stake and shot through the heart lol, I think that'd clear any of Eorini's misunderstandings :)

what I do wish we'd got is Gil-dong telling his sibs he was married, even though Gil-hyun already knew and Gil-dong probably found it too painful to bring up because he assumed Ga-ryung had left him on thinking he was dead.

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I just wanted a scene for him to properly introduce her to his siblings! I just needed that. Because Gil-hyun missed his chance to meet her earlier which lead to some misunderstandings which lead to her being on the stake. And I too think that we needed to have a scene with Eorini to clear the air.

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Jeong Hak helped the Rebel by opening the gate.. I still hate him ! It only shows that he really isn't a loyal person (and an opportunist coward on top of that). He only chose side which could give him the most benefit for his own safety. And Jeong Hak doesn't even deserve to receive those smile of yours Gil Hyun !

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OOT : Gil Dong met Minister Park reminds me about Cha Seo Hoo and his assistant from The Time We Weren't In Love >< I wish I could erase those guilty pleasure drama from my memory but Yoon Kyun Sang looked so good in all those tailored suits..

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I literally sat through the whole of The Time We Weren't In Love to see Yoon Kyun Sang in fancy clothes hahaha otherwise I wouldn't recommend watching that drama at all oops

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I tried to watch it once. But I gave up in the first episode. Instead I just binge watched all of the fanmade MVs of Yoon Kyun Sang in that drama. Boy does look good in them tailored suits! ?

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To this day, I'm still irritated by the two main characters ugh and seriously YKS's character could've been a good one if the writer gave him at least /some/ kind of background but nope let's focus on the leads' bad life decisions
But whatever, I watched that for YKS and I'm okay. (I still get surprised at how thin he used to be haha)

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As far as I remember, he looked thinner also in SFD or at least at the SBS end of year awards (admittedly I still watch his SFD parody clip with Yoo Ah In to this day when I had the chance to ?).
And I might be wrong but I read last year in db that YKS got sick after SFD which caused him to kinda bloat up (I tried to look for the entry where it was mentioned, however I couldn't find it ?).

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I'd assumed he bulked up for this role, but yeah, he used to be so thin in Pinocchio!

(I actually thought the production team of Rebel was trying to make him look even larger/taller than he already is, because he literally towers over everyone and I could swear he looks taller here with Chae Soo-bin than he did in the Girlfriend video. And she's not wearing heels in that video either, so it can't be the sageuk flat shoes making her seem smaller).

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In the BTS for the Girlfriend video, Chae Soo-Bin does stand on a box at some point...So he is quite tall lol...but I do think the camera angles and staging made him look even taller than he really is. (Despite already being super tall) Like in the BTS stuff you don't feel like he's as big or as tall as he is when you see him on the actual show.

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@latteholic IDK about him getting sick after 6FD, but I definitely noticed he got a bit chubbier throughout the episodes of 3 Meals A Day (late 2016) with Eric and Lee Seojin. These sunbaes literally kept heaping food on his plate, and YKS was all too willing to eat it all haha.
Rebel had him wearing so many layers all the time that he looked way bulkier than IRL (at least, as compared to his instagram posts). From what I recall, a lot of YKS's scenes were also shot from a worm's-eye-view, which just made him seem so much taller.

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(YKS's height is like one of my favorite topics okay)
((HMU if u wanna see receipts lol))

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My hope for the episode that already came out and I have yet to see:
1. Scholar Song better get his comeuppance
2. We better get answers for Mori and OkRan
3. More GaRyung GilDong scenes PLEASE!!
4. The Jo duo got their comeuppance but I won't mind more *sadistic side is coming out*
5. I know the real JangNokSoo's end isn't pretty but can you blame me for not wanting it to end horribly for her? *sadistic side retreats*

Thank you for a wonderful episode! I love how it melds in history with the fictional wonderfully and even with it's flaws I love all the characters so..... Just please end well!!!!

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I was excited actually to see Mori is alive ?Ok i rather come back on final epi recap, before accidentally spoil anything ?

Kim Ji Suk's potrayal as Yeonsangun is terrific (and outshone GilDong at some parts) . I hope he follows the step of Namgoong Min, where is career turning point was after played villain in GWSS and Remember.

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Oh I wish the same too for Kim Ji Suk! I know I didn't say it often but I've been really impressed with his portrayal of Yi Yung, esp in the final episode. I hope he will land a lead role soon too!

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Yesss! I sometimes rewatched his parts in Oh Hae Young because he was simply hilarious. It will be awesome if he and Seo Hyun Jin will be paired in any drama, maybe romcom because I can picture them together.

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Ha, the drama really did answer my question if there is another purpose to the music girl that is always around Ok-ran, Ga-ryung and Sang-hwa: she is obviously meant to be Yeong-gae's new love interest! :) - I hope he will have better luck than last time! We can't have Gil-dong be the only Hongvenger in a happy relationship! ;)

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OK I cannot wait to read recap for last epi. I am so confused with Mori-Ok Ran lol. ?

LOL I honestly never thought it is coming between music girl -Yeong Gae ??I was thinking maybe she will be paired with Gil Hyun since Ok Ran could be a bit too young for him.

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I liked that the Hongvenger who is most afraid of women is the first one who gets love interest ?

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Sorry, I put the rest of my long text at the wrong place and had to cancel it.

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They probably wanted to tell their story properly but misjudged the 30 episode frame. Their story became rather short. I think what is missing out in this episode and should have been in, is the fact that Ok-ran for sure remembers Mori from the arena fight where he didn't kill Gil-dong. This drama has a lot of little stories revolving around Gwan-eum (Guanyin). Now Guanyin has two guardians, Guan Yu and another Warrior, and two disciples, Longnü and Shancai. She also has a parrot, which is also in the drama as the spirit of Gil-dong's mom.

Shancai is Guanyin's problem child. He is a little bit unsure of himself and quite convinced that he is lacking in many ways and has a leg problem (it's not a physical one, it exists only in his mind) and can't stand tall. So Guanyin likes to give him a lot of tests. I think they are more meant for his own good then that she doesn't trust him. So one day she sends him on a market because one of the sons of the dragon god of the sea was caught in his fish form and is about to be sold and killed and eaten. The fish is Gil-dong during the arena fight. (That's by the way, why we have the net in the scene where Gil-dong recognizes Eorini)
Shancai doesn't have enough money to buy the fish, so he goes on his knees and begs for the fish's life while everyone else tries to throw money in so that the fish gets killed and eaten. Then Guanyin appears, and says, that the one who wants to save the fish's life should decide about it, not the ones that wants to kill the fish and then she saves the fish and throws him back into the water where he assumes his dragon form again. The dragon god is quite happy about that and in return he sends his daughter, the sister of the dragons god's son who got caught in the net, to Guanyin as a disciple. The dragon king's daughter is Longnü (dragon girl), the girl whose true form nobody knows. (Longnü is both Eorini and Ok-ran)

There is another story about Longnü and Shancai but that is a spoiler for episode 30.
There is also a Korean Buddhist tale about that arena fight. But that would also be a spoiler for episode 30.

That vision Mori has of Ga-ryung when he finds his Mighty Child powers again. It's meant to be as a Gwaneum appearance too. Only not from the child angle but from the warrior's angle. In east asia there is a difference between a musa and a mushin. A musa is basically a warrior who fights well and holds himself to some rules of the warrior's code of honor. A musa is a figure with a very strong yang. Disconnected from the yin he is just a dangerous person, not really a warrior. To become a mushin the yang of the musa has to be grounded in the yin. That means the mushin has to go through a process of emancipation of the mind and has to follow the warrior's code of honor (since it is strongly related to compassion) by brain and heart.
The first meeting of a warrior with a strong yin figure signals the awakening of the mind and a connecting to the...

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... emotional side.
By the way, that's not only an east asian thing. In Europe we have the Lady of the Lake. The best example of the journey of a warrior I have seen so far was in Six Flying Dragons in Mu-hyul's story. He also meets the Lady of the Lake in different forms always before he takes another step in his process of becoming a mushin. Rebel has taken the way the Lady of the Lake was presented in Six Flying Dragons for that one Ga-ryung Mori scene.

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@liina May 17, 2017 at 8:13 AM:

Thanks for explaining the Kwan Yin symbolism, especially as it relates to warriors (mushin vs. musa). That really emphasizes the differences in developmental levels between Gil-dong and Mori. And it explains why HGD was caught with a net in the king's hunting grounds, which struck me at the time as kind of odd.

Thanks also for tying in the Lady of the Lake in the Arthurian legends. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley told the story from the point of view of the women, and was a great read. Every time I hear "Jambinal" (REBEL OST, track 8) I'm reminded of Breton harpist Alan Stivell's gorgeous CD, "The Mist of Avalon." -- My apologies if I posted this link earlier. ;-)

Alan Stivell - La Dame Du Lac ["The Lady of the Lake"]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx1pnxL-Wlw

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I hadn't thought about that too. It came pretty out of nowhere. I just wondered why this girl is always there.

But it's a good use! It's not only cute (very cute! :)) but also preserves the message from the original tale.
Originally Gil-dong married the girls that were just married to the abusive king the day before. They had nowhere to go, so he took them in (he later let them go, when they found their own places in life). From Joseon ideas the king's girls couldn't have married again. Now Gil-dong and Ga-ryung can't just marry again, they are already married. Ok-ran and Eorini are too young. But having Yeong-gae fall for the music girl ignoring all these ideas is setting the same "we are for the possibility of divorce from abusive husbands and for remarriage" sign that Heo Gyun set in the original tale.

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oooh that is something I hadn't even thought of - I'd forgotten that the women of the palace were the 'king's women' and couldn't 're-marry', so to speak. But it's cool that the drama is opening up the possibility with so little fuss.

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I'll talk about this more in the Episode 30 recap...but I suspect there's a bit of intentional ambiguity regarding Ok-ran/Mori's relationship.

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Rebel is so awesome in many ways, especially on the last few episodes. I'm waiting for the last episode recap so that I can comment more on it but one thing for sure is I will hold this show dearly for long.

And yes that reunion between Ga-ryung and Gil-dong is so moving (though at first I thought it was a dream and she's actually dead!). Also her reunion with the band of brothers. Gosh, I love all of them so much.

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Other upcoming sageuk this year seriously need to work hard to gain my interest like this one. Although I sometimes a bit bored in the middle and in some epi, but I cannot deny after SFD last year, I finally found a new sageuk that made me happy to invest my 30 hours (or more) because I always check its raw version at night and watch it with subs every morning (I woke up one hour earlier in order to watch this drama first thing in the morning). So basically I spent 60 hours for this drama. It has been a long time from the last time I have been a very dedicated fan. And now I am doing the same for Chicago Typewriter.

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@11 little-muffin May 17, 2017 at 12:46 AM:

The scene certainly had a dreamlike quality. I couldn't blame Gil-dong one bit for thinking he might have awakened in the afterlife.

It reminds me of that very moving scene of Gil-hyun falling asleep while studying, and waking up for a brief glimpse of his father's fetch saying goodbye.

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I LOVED THE LAST TWO EPISODES. Sorry, it's been 20 hours since I've watched the finale and I'm still in a haze of bliss. I'll leave the in depth analysis for others to do well, for at the moment, I just want to say thank you to the recappers for continuing to put this on my radar so I could jump in half way, thank you to those who watched it too and made the experience more fun, and thank you to the k-netizens who amused me endlessly with their live comments.

Hopefully I'll have something with more substance to say for the finale episode. (WHICH I LOVED.) (JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN'T GET IT THE FIRST TIME.)

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This is such a great episode (once again)! It hit all the emotional notes for me and I especially LOVED the build up to the revolution in the palace - how the king has fallen and was just left with the few loyal people who just couldn't bear to break the news to him...

The scene where Nok-Su and the head eunuch met and were talking figuratively in the palace was so beautiful!

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Beautiful and so laced with meaning. I liked how they talked about it as a mouse...something small and insignificant...but can cause massive problems. Mice can bring disease or completely destroy crops etc. And they'd obviously reached the plague/pestilence stage of mice not just pest.

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Honey Lee's portrayal of Nok Soo is layered and impressive. It added texture to what would otherwise have been a caricature role. The viewers were made to understand that even when she was evil, there were reasons for it, a woman struggling to survive in a political world with a mad king, who has no real power of her own; the only authority she has is that of the king's. And the king was unstable, and changed his favor at whim. So she had to do what she could to survive that situation. This might be an unpopular view, but I liked her character as Nok Soo, far better than Chae Soo bin's Ga Ryung, which I felt was a little bland and conventional. If you're going to play a villainess, then at least make her sympathetic and relatable. Honey Lee excels at these roles, I liked her similar role in Shine or Go Crazy as well.

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Oh you are not alone. I do think Ga Ryung was good in this drama, but Lee Honey was terrific. She played Nok Soo with subtle and understated, just like what she did in Shine Or Go Grazy. It is actually very hard not to be outshone by her, her screen presence is too strong and she has that charisma. I hope she will get the chance to headline female centric sageuk, something like Queen Insoo or Cruel Palace.

Anyway, If Ga Ryung played by some mediocre actress, she probably will be forgotten. I was thinking, if Chae Soo Bin played Hae Soo in Scarlet Heart, probably I will watch that drama until the end.

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I meant to say, I like Nok Soo more than Ga Ryung, I like Ga Ryung as well but she is not very different from usual type of heroine - loveable, has unconditional love etc. But I liked that the writer at least didn't make her a stupid heroine or a heroine who is only exist in this drama as hero's love interest.

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I understand what you mean and agree with what you wrote. It's not that Chae Soo Bin played Ga Ryung badly at all, she's a budding, talented actress, it's just that she was outclassed by Honey Lee, who has a very strong screen presence/charisma.

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True. It is actually not easy to beat her. She even outshone Oh Yeon Seo in Shine or Go Crazy. It is just like Mishil in QSD, Go Hyun Jung had a very strong streen presence that Lee Yo Won was outshone by her and it was not because Lee Yo Won is a bad actress. Lee Yo Won is also a charismatic actress, it is Go Hyun Joo was too charismatic that it was very hard to beat her.

Is it too much to dream to see Go Hyun Jung and Lee Hanui to headline any sageuk together? I think my heart will be torn to pieces by these two.

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Nok Soo and Eunuch Kim made me cry this episode, especially Kim. He's the only one who truly loves the king no matter his status or title and for him to face the revolution, tears in his eyes, defending his king alone... *ugly cries*

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@15 mk May 17, 2017 at 6:53 AM:

Nok-soo and Eunuch Kim are both tragic characters. It's hard to decide which I feel worse for, as they both had crummy earlier lives. I think Shorty wins by a nose. He would have gladly gone into exile with Yeonsangun. The care with which he dressed his former boss, and the quiet dignity he displayed during the coup, were touching.

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I'm sooo freaking glad Ga-ryung woke up. Firstly, I have to say I feel so bad for Gil-hyun who must be just absolutely exasperated by Gil-ryung. His wife is all self-sacrificing and gets her husband to give her a near mortal injury and his brother refuses medical attention to pretty much die by her bedside. Poor older brother is probably just all 'WHY CAN'T THEY BOTH JUST STAHP THE MADNESS AND LIVE FFS! WHY MUST I MOM THEM ALL!'

I did really like that Gil-dong and Ga-ryung had an injury in a same spot near their hearts. OTP evidence right there lol. It also occurred to me that it's interesting that Ga-ryung was blindfolded. And then something clicked and reminded me of Eros/Cupid. I believe the myth is that if you're struck by Cupid's arrow, you'll fall in love with the first person you see. (I suppose given the whole set up with the Hongvengers leaving our fave couple together to coalesce, Gil-dong would have been the first person she saw lol) But also, Gil-dong's shooting her was a form of proving his love for her. She asked him to sacrifice her for the people and bypassed Nok-soo's game that Gil-dong would prove that she was nothing if she were killed. Then there's the whole story of Cupid and Psyche and how Psyche has to go through these crazy trials to make it back to Cupid since she violated a code and saw his face and pissed off Aphrodite...which is basically Ga-ryung's palace adventure. (I won't get into the whole myth lol but it's probably one of my fave Greek myths.)

Aside from that...man it killed to see Gil-dong so broken up over her. But I just think everything he said to her while unconscious and conscious was just absolutely beautiful. How he begs her not to make him a widower or just to come back even if she hates him and wants to leave.

And then when he wakes up and sees her...and it's a parallel of how he saw her in his dreams before he first saw her at the stake. How he was so hesitant was just painful...and then his lines about staying in a dream or being dead together was so right in the feeeeels. But the poor boy has had nothing but his dreams of her where he just always wakes up. And of course, he's never been able to touch her in any of them which made the moment when she put his hand to her face all the more emotional for him. I also love how this scene is a direct parallel of Episode 14 after he gets Mighty Child Syndrome and passes out saving everyone from the Heo Tae Hak attack. Ga-ryung falls asleep watching over him and wakes up to find him awake and watching her. He finally agrees to be her orabeoni...but in a brotherly sense initially. Either way, he accepts her. Here, their roles are reversed and Ga-ryung accepts him.

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This show has been totally amazing,i have to say the actor who played yeonsangun, is one hell of an actor,will definitely miss this.

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I first saw Kim Ji-suk in CHUNO. If you want to see him in another sageuk, there it is. The fight scenes are epic -- as is to be expected when Jang Hyuk is the leader of the slave hunters. It's also set in Joseon. I won't lie: keep a box of tissues handy. -- The soundtrack is great. I never thought I'd like rap until I heard MC Sniper.

KJS was great in OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN. While he provided a lot of comic relief, the character also had a deeply hidden sensitive side. When it came to crazy dancing, Seo Hyun-jin was right up there with him and noona Park Soo-Kyung (Ye Ji-Won). The metaphysics of his buddy Park Do-kyung's premonitions make for a uniquely Korean viewing experience. It was one of my favorite dramas of 2016.

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(I wrote this right after watching the episode and now I'm late for the recaps so I'm sorry if I repeat what others have commented already hehe)
1. I hadn't realized that Gil-dong and Ga-ryung had mirroring wounds on the left side of their chests, Gil-dong's being thanks to Mori and we all know how Ga-ryung got hers. Also so so so heartbreaking how Gil-dong's first thoughts upon waking was that it's all a dream, because for the longest time he's only been seeing her through his dreams/illusions. Many tears were shed. He's so devoted to her I can't handle all my feels because of these two ;~;
2. I can't help feeling that Ga-ryung being worried and scared for Gil-dong is some kind of foreshadowing for the next episode huhu. But I also admire her so much for not being all 'no don't go it's too dangerous don't leave me' because she's noble and awesome like that.
3. Mori??? Is Ok-ran going to secretly take care of him or something? Why not tell the others? Gil-dong would obviously pardon him, right?
4. Love how Yeonsangun was literally a child hiding in his mother's/Nok-su's skirts. He's totally lost it and Eunuch Kim and Nok-su are resigned to their fate for siding with the King.
5. And Wolhamae willingly came back!!!! And now she's like Nok-su's last shred of humanity
6. Hong family is best family dynamic no questions asked
7. This episode really hit home the fact that we're approaching the end and I'm very much not ready to let this go. It's really become all about the people rising up against the King, exactly what Gil-dong wanted for them to do from the very start.

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Often time we get dramas where its second half can't follow up the awesomeness of its first half, but I think Rebel is set to outdo each of its previous episodes and I absolutely have no complaints lol.

I think everybody has acknowledged the acting prowess of our leads but I want to praise our director as well. One can clearly see that this drama is not given a high budget, especially if you compare to dramas like Queen Seondeok (also aired in MBC) where they employed thousands of extras for war/fighting scenes. The lack of extras acting as soldiers/people is very noticeable here, especially in the scene where the people enters the palace to take down the King. However, I think the director did his best in the given capacity. I have always admired his camera work. His camera angles are just so beautiful and his timing of background music are always on point. I think the synergy of great writing and directing is one of the biggest selling point of this drama to me. I hope we will get another work by this writer-director combo again in the future!

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@19 enkeys May 17, 2017 at 11:27 AM:

Despite the preemptions, REBEL has steadfastly maintained its momentum right up until the closing episodes. It is a testimonial not only to the writing and directing, but to the dedication of the cast and crew, who must be pretty darned tired by now after freezing their fannies off. Thank goodness spring has come to the set as well as Ikhwari.

One can clearly see that this drama is not given a high budget, especially if you compare to dramas like Queen Seondeok (also aired in MBC) where they employed thousands of extras for war/fighting scenes. The lack of extras acting as soldiers/people is very noticeable here, especially in the scene where the people enters the palace to take down the King.

Writer-nim's earlier drama, THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SU BAEK-HYANG, also had a tight budget at MBC -- which was airing EMPRESS KI at the same time -- but it still had more servants in the palace than MOON LOVERS did. REBEL made the most of the resources at its disposal. I read that they filmed at many far-flung locations -- which in my book were stunning, and well worth the travel budget. KDSBH also had memorably gorgeous locations.

I fully agree with you about the camera angles and music, too. Here's hoping that Director-nim Kim Jin-Man and Writer-nim Hwang Jin-Young team up for another drama. I would watch it in a heartbeat. ;-)

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In retrospective, I personally think the pre-emption actually worked out for the best. First, those 2 episodes are the strongest episodes in Rebel and they both gave enough emotional punch that last me the entire week (although waiting for a whole week was indeed a torture). Second, it gave the cast and the crew a chance to rest/bought more time for editing, producing, etc.
But despite the pre-emption, I also have been impressed with how the crew managed to maintain the quality of the drama even when they're already entering live shoot mode halfway through the airing (?). And I agree with you and @enkeys about the camera angle and cinematography and also the well-placed music score and OSTs. If writer-nim and director-nim ever have the chance to work together again in the future, you can bet that their drama would go right to the top of my already-hundreds-dramas-to-watch list!

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It's really UNBELIEVABLE what they pulled off on a live shoot schedule from maybe episode 16 ish. I can't believe how cohesive the story was given everything that must have gone on behind the scenes. The writer must have had a really tight vision for the series.

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Oh btw, in one of the I Live Alone episodes where Park Narae cameo-ed in the first episode of Rebel, Yoon Hyun Min and Lee Si-eon both mentioned that the director was known to be perfectionist. And it was also shown during the segment of how often they would have to re-take a scene just because the director kept finding minor mistakes. They actually worked for almost a whole day just to filmed a 7ish minute scene.

I also remembered how Lee Honey practiced for a month (or was it 3?) for that dance scene and also the same goes to Chae Soo Bin for that lullaby scene. I truly admire the efforts that everyone brought into this drama, despite the limitation of the budget.

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I watched that I Live Alone episode with Park Narae as well. The director was friendly at first but as time goes by his face turned stiffer and stiffer and I remember thinking what a scary person he is lol (but he's actually quite sweet, as seen in the making videos). Kim Sang-joong was such a sweetheart though. He helped calm Narae down when she's feeling stressed because she kept making NGs.

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The cast and crew brought their A games to REBEL, and it shows. Their dedication resulted in a magnificent drama.

Having high standards isn't automatically perfectionism if it means that the audience is able to suspend their disbelief. I'm willing to bet that the early episodes were the toughest to film. Then, as everyone became accustomed to the director's style and vigilance, they could anticipate potential pitfalls and successfully dodge them. Some things, such as police and fire sirens, or airplanes flying overhead, are random and par for the course.

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Important: Mori Mori Mori Mori Mori Mori Mori Mori Mori Mori he must be protected

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I second this! So Ok Ran's purpose in the story was to save him? (Ok Rana, how can you leave him there?! He's wounded!)
I have enjoyed this drama too much to nitpick, but (I will still nitpick) Ok Ran has been a bit of a waste of a character. She was mostly there for the 'who is Eurini?' game, so finding Mori is perhaps the first time she has had any real agency. It is kind of fitting though, that a girl who was tossed around by life in the palace gets some freedom and finds/saves (?) the guy who was tossed around by unlucky circumstances (and a whole lot of stubbornness).

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LOL I think yes? luckily Jung Da Bin will be in My Sassy Girl too, I hope she somewhat has more interesting character there. I loved her enough as young Jin Se Yeon in Flower In Prison and left the show when the adult appeared.

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This drama does a really good job exploring the theme of loyalty and love from so many of its characters. It’s easy enough to see when love and loyalty go hand-in-hand: Gil-dong and Ga-ryung, the Hongvengers, Eunuch Kim, Wolhamae. But when it goes hand-in-hand like that, I wonder whether it is love or loyalty? Is it separable? The characters above all had been with their significant others for a very long time, long before they had nothing and everything. If it did start out as love, loyalty ensued, and vice versa.
And there are clear instances where it’s just loyalty: Jeong Hak and Minister Park and many of those who served in the palace have pledged loyalty to the king but end up betraying him. Even Gil-hyun pledged loyalty to the king when he was in court, but his love and loyalty to his family prevailed. Poor Mori, did he stay with Heo Tak because of love or loyalty? We know he was abandoned and Heo Tak took him in. We’ve also seen Madam Jo sacrifice everything for her son.
So when it comes to the relationship between the king and Noksoo, I’m a little unsure. Was the king’s jealousy when he found out Noksoo and Gil-dong’s relationship rooted in love? Why did he continue to keep Noksoo beside him? Noksoo stayed with him until the end; was she really so convinced of her decision as right that she’ll sacrifice her life? SPOILER ALERT (but not really). The king and Noksoo’s separation was expected but a little heartbreaking for me, nonetheless. It was sad to know that they had no one else.
It’s a testament to both actors and the writer because they really showed the complex characters in both the king and Noksoo. It’s frustrating when we can’t figure out the character’s motivation/emotion because the actor can’t act (ahem, in Ruler). I felt the tragedy of the king and Noksoo’s separation regardless of my uncertainty of their feelings.

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The Nok-soo/Yeonsangun relationship is interesting because it's so ambiguous...but ultimately, it's a relationship of convenience. They're both incredibly lonely and isolated people who have no one really except each other. They each get something they want/need from each other...that without that want/desire/need there would be no relationship. Nok-soo appeals to the king's sense of artistic prowess and elegance. He's cultured and artistic and having Nok-soo around legitimizes that characteristic he sees in himself. She also attracts him because she pulls away from him. He finds it intriguing that someone would pull away from the king. He later starts depending on her for emotional support since she mothers him like the mother he never had and understands his whims before he does. Nok-soo uses him for her own power and vengeance. She seeks survival and being the king's woman is the easiest way to do that with her circumstances.

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Yonggae’s heart skips a beat when one of Eorini’s fellow palace musicians gets too close to treat him

When he looks at her he's supposed to seem lovestruck, but actually it looked to me more like the just-lost-the-contact-lens-and-can't-see-anything scene I just saw in Suspicious Partner.

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@22 Lord Cobol May 17, 2017 at 1:26 PM:

LOL! I'm not watching SUSPICIOUS PARTNER, but I'll take your word for it. ;-)

As I recall, the object of scaredy–cat Yong-gae's affection back in the good old days in Ikhwari was one tough chick. She looked like she could easily beat him at arm wrestling. No wonder he was smitten by the court musician. She looked too delicate to beat him up -- or to pitch a rock at him a la Ga-ryung. Hwaiting, Yong-gae! It's about time!

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mother and son will serve as the king’s slaves

One again a subtitler said "servant" instead of "slave", which makes their freak-out make less sense. What should be the punishment for continuing to mis-translate, and should we show leniency because of past service??

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I'm grateful enough to the subbing team to overlook that plus from past experience I know what they mean, but I don't understand why they don't just write 'slave'. That's what the word means!

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Most of us would think the king killed too many of his officials. Kim Jung-un might say he didn't kill enough - should have also gotten the ones who eventually overthrew him.
Machiavelli said that if you're going to purge a bunch of powerful people, do it all at once and then stop, so after it's over the ones you didn't kill won't think they're about to be killed too. If you keep killing a few at a time, everyone you haven't killed (yet) will be so afraid they are next that they might take desparate risks to strike first. I don't think Yeonsangun or Kim Jung-un got the memo.

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What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Song Sabu and his Sugwidan kept on purging the masses, and raised themselves a bumper crop of rebels. ;-)

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I'm trying really really hard not to comment on the finale! Which was as awesome as the last few episodes have been.

I felt like this was Nok Soo and The People's episode. (Gil dong was the one before, Ga Ryung before that). Evil king was also really interesting this episode. Both Nok Soo and the king have been pretty despicable lately, but I felt sorry for both of them again.

Favorite moment was the hong brothers in all their glory overseeing the revolution. Soooo happy they all lived!!

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Thank you, dramallama, for yet another fine recap and commentary. It has been a great pleasure reading your (and tineybeanie's) interpretations for nearly 4 months. I know there's a lot I would have missed in translation were it not for you two -- and so many fellow Beanies who have shared their knowledge of Korean language, culture, history, and literature. ;-)

It's not just the epic action and terrific performances from the entire cast that continues to make REBEL such an enjoyable drama. The little details just keep hitting me where I live. Seeing Yong-gae go ga-ga for the musician who as bandaging Segul was a hoot. Sooburi's kvetching while Magistrate Eom did first aid on his face was a lovely geezer-mance. These old codgers have been through the mill together. The roughhousing by Ilchung, Keutsae, and Eop-san made my day. They can't be too badly hurt if they carry on like that.

If I'm not mistaken, Ga-ryung's fingers twitch slightly after Gil-dong holds her other hand to his face and his tear falls on it. Later, when he awakens, it is his wife's tears falling on his hand that brings him around.

Wolhamae's final performance with her Hair Ribbon Friend for Yeonsangun is "Song of the Green Mountains" (combined with "Gashiri," another Goryeo folksong, in the SIX FLYING DRAGONS OST).

https://bodashiri.tumblr.com/post/132995526751/goryeo-folk-songs

The traditional music and dance in REBEL has been one of the high points of the show for me. I'm glad we're getting to hear more of it as the show winds down.

Watching Yeonsangun doing his mask dances reminded me yet again of Mr. Rooftop Party in OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN. Kim Ji-suk has been magnificent in portraying the tyrant as a complex and even sympathetic character who was as much a victim of a corrupt system as any of his abused subjects were. He may have been at the top of the food chain, but he's still ultimately a pawn when one considers the snake in the grass who led him astray in the first place: Song Sabu. This guy is like the Energizer Bunny of poisonous politics. He's still up to no good, and it made my heart sink. If he has his way, he'll find someone else to help him keep the whole corrupt Sugwidan shadow government rolling along. Like Madam Jo, he never gives up, and they blame others for their failures. – Seeing her and Jeong-hak being sentenced to palace slavery was a fitting end to the two of them.

Finally, we hear the name of Song Sabu's silent spy/servant: Teuk Jae. I'm wondering why the guy never says anything. Is this a tip of the hat to Writer-nim's earlier character, Kuchon? He is still an enigma. I thought for sure that he was going to be a double agent or something.

How does Ok-ran mean “Orabeoni” when she calls Mori that? Are they long-lost siblings after all?

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No wonder the song that Wolhamae sang sounded familiar! I was trying to figure out where I have heard it before, and it was indeed SFD! Thanks for the info, @pakalanapikake! ?

Seriously, Teuk Jae remains as an enigma to me too. I don't know why he never said anything about Eorini's identity when he was the one who figured out GilDong's vigilante identity. Is he really a mute? Or is he trying to protect Eorini since he's the one who found her?

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I kept waiting for the explanation of why he didn't mention that Eorini is one of the Geoins too from way back then when the Song sabu party is trying to catch Gil-dong (sorry can't remember the episode). The only explanation I can think of is that he was very sure that the brainwashing drug is working on Eorini, or that he wasn't sure that is the same Eorini. I mean, Eorini did say that she was separated from her brother, but she didn't mention Gil-dong's name. Or, his job stops at recruiting new Geoins only, after which Song sabu's friend (the one who drugged the kids) take over.

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That's a very good point! I'm not sure about it, but I think Prince Pedo also never mentioned about seeing Eorini's name in that records of deeds? So it's plausible that all of them dismiss the possibility that she is related to GilDong.

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Are you referring to Choongwongun when you said Prince Pedo? If yes, then he was the one who first realises that Eorini is with the Geoin (well, technically he's the second after Song sabu's assistant but that assistant kept mum about it). Remember when Gil-dong threw Choongwongun out from his house, later he was knocked out by Mori and the Hongs finally found the Geoin list?

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@enkeys yes. I was referring to him. At some point I couldnt be bothered to look up for correct spelling of his name ?. Yes, I remember him seeing the name in the book. But I think he never mentioned it to Song Sabu either? And iirc, it's because he was afraid of admitting that he lost the book to GilDong, since that book was kind of precious to Song Sabu (?)

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“Eees not my job, man!” -- with a tip of the hat to the late comedian, Freddie Prinze. ;-)

Maybe the explanation simply got lost in the shuffle. Or perhaps it was a way of showing that the Sugwidan were not as omniscient and omnipotent as they made themselves out to be. At least I can breathe a sigh of relief that, because of the very same kinds of crappy communication that caused Gil-dong to keep missing opportunities to meet Gil-hyun, Choongwongoon never knew Eorini was in the Sugwidans' clutches. It's entirely possible he never knew her name, unlike her brothers.

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You're most welcome, latteholic! You can thank the Viki subtitles. As soon as I saw Green Mountains, it rang a bell. ;-)

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I will second that thank-you to dramallama and tineybeanie, if I may! I'm really grateful for them because long series don't usually get full recaps on db, and it would have killed my drama-loving soul a little to not have the recap and all the beanies here to discuss it with for the last 4 months.

and lol @ 'Energizer Bunny of poisonous politics'. His emergence as the series' villain was one of the most chilling discoveries, and I love how his arc crossed with both the king and Gil-hyun - yes, he's poison but it also happens to be Joseon's bad luck that Yeonsangun was such fertile soil fr tyranny to take root in, because even if he wasn't into Confucian rules, Song Sabu appealed to precisely the worst part of the king's nature - his selfishness and wilfulness - to use him for his own ends.

I've heard it said about stories like these that they are only as good as their villains, and we had a great set of villains here - I love how we progressed up the line from the Jo family to the king, within the story.

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@pogo May 17, 2017 at 7:53 PM:

Please go right ahead and second away. ;-)

I watched a variety of subtitles: KissAsian, DramaLove, Viki, OnDemandKorea -- sometimes all of them, owing to the differences in nuance, etc. (Yeah, I know I need to get a life.) I'm grateful to all the subbing teams. Getting the timing right makes a huge difference -- it's not just the translations themselves. I wouldn't be able to enjoy Kdramas without subtitles, and REBEL's length made it a huge commitment for the subbers. Thank you, all! As someone who trained as a translator many years ago, I appreciate what you do for international viewers who don't speak Korean. It truly is an art. ;-)

I've heard it said about stories like these that they are only as good as their villains, and we had a great set of villains here - I love how we progressed up the line from the Jo family to the king, within the story.

And the common denominator was Song Sabu. He poisoned the well all the way from the minor nobility and scholars to the throne.

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yeah, the fact that the drama kept us guessing about Song Sabu for a while before revealing his villainy, was actually a great way to do it. But it makes a lot of sense - universities are massively influential centres of thought even today (see the stranglehold Oxbridge and the Ivy League have over modern politics even in countries other than Korea, and I'm sure the same goes with certain universities in other countries too). And one bad teacher to a desperate and impressionable student can do damage it would take a lifetime to undo.

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I forgot to mention that I absolutely love Gil-dong's expression after Ga-ryung finally woke up from her comatose/sleep.

Ga-ryung: Husband...
Gil-dong: (smiles)
(Yes, he definitely think that this is still him hallucinating)

Ga-ryung: Husband, it's (really) me.
Gil-dong: (shocked, in tears)
(Finally he realises that he's not dreaming and his wife, the one that he's been looking for a few months/days and the one that he injured is really in front of him, breathing)

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I also love that the writer keeps up with the theme of karma/irony till the end of the drama.

It's ironic that Madam Jo and Jeong-hak were sentenced to a life-long slavery. It's ironic that Jeong-hak is the one opening the gate, helping the rebels to locate the King (although I think his motivation is the same as the ministers - to be acknowledged as a contributor, so he can escape from slavery). It's ironic how Song sabu is the one who wants to take the King down first, the one who schemes the rebellion, wanting Minister Park to join hands with Gil-dong when he is the one who put Yi Yung on the throne. I just love love these scenes.

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Same. Plus I'm loving the poetic justice in this drama. I kept seeing similarities of Rebel with cowboy Westerns, especially with the soundtrack and the Amogae Avengers every time they got into a fight. Think Magnificent Seven. Also, in Westerns you get the good and bad guys fighting it out, though you know the good guys will win. Rebel has both that fun feeling of a Western as well as the gravitas of a sageuk.

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@WishfulToki May 17, 2017 at 5:35 PM:

Another thing that Westerns have is at least one "varmint that needs killin'." REBEL has them in abundance.

From the get-go, REBEL has felt like a "ramyun Eastern" -- or is it a "kimchi Western"? Partly it's the music. But it's also because of the wild and woolly Hongs with their own version of Dodge City, Kansas in Ikhwari.

One of the things that I've especially appreciated in recent episodes during the "shoot out at the Hyangjumok corral" and as the rebellion finally comes to a head is hearing Amogae singing "Spring in Ikhwari." Although he is no longer alive, his song is carried in the hearts of the Hongs, and has inspired the people of Hyangjumok in their darkest hours. How much do you want to bet that that song is going to be sung in all of the Eight Provinces as news of the rebellion continues to spread?

At any rate, it's very fitting that we get to hear Amogae's voice again. He dominated the first third of the drama, and cast a long shadow. It took quite a while for Gil-dong to come into his own, and that's in no small part because Dad was so darned formidable. If he hadn't had the gumption to give his sons good names, would they have been up to the task of becoming champions of the people? What's in a name? "Luck" -- among other things. ;-)

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@WishfulToki May 17, 2017 at 5:35 PM,

Dang! Now I can't get spaghetti Westerns out of my head -- which is triggering alternate titles, such as:

REBEL: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE NOISY
REBEL: A FISTFUL OF TAEL
REBEL: TWO MULES FOR SISTER GA-RYUNG
REBEL: THE OUTLAW JOSEON HONG
REBEL: FOR A FEW NYANG MORE

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REBEL: She Wore a Purple Ribbon.
REBEL: High Joseon.
REBEL: Mafiamen in the Far East.
REBEL: 3:10 Cart to Hanyang.
REBEL: A Thug's Life. (wait, that's Disney's 'A Bug's Life')

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REBEL: SHOOTOUT AT HYANGJUMOK
REBEL: HIGH STAKES*
REBEL: OUTLAW NATION

*sorry, Ga-ryung!

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yeah, I definitely don't think Jeong-hak opened that gate because he had an actual change of heart - he was just being as opportunistic as the ministers and hoping to get a reversal of his slave status out of it.

I love how the bad guys are all stabbing each other in the back now - it's really poetic justice, like you said.

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@pogo May 17, 2017 at 7:47 PM:

I fully expected a shark frenzy, and have not been disappointed.

Jeong-hak is doing exactly the same thing as all his former colleagues. The ministers are so set on saving their skins from well-deserved retribution for betrayals during the First and Second Literati Purges that they are like rats stampeding off a sinking ship.

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I love that this drama has resisted the temptation to depict Yeonsangun's future replacements/the ministers who deposed him as some kind of heroes.

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@enkeys May 17, 2017 at 3:45 PM:

Song Sabu is a master manipulator, and I was just about jumping up and down as he wangled Minister Park into fomenting a coup d'état. With that evil old snake in the grass continuing to pull the strings as the self-appointed power behind the throne, what could possibly go wrong?! Nothing in the system changes except the main actors on the stage, so the result will be -- no change at all for the people. Oh, goody! The perfect setup for Yeonsangun 2.0.

Luckily for the commoners, the Hongs are on the case. Gil-hyun knows exactly how these guys think because he studied under Song Sabu and used to be one of them. His professional experience and insight have been invaluable to Gil-dong. The pair of them make a terrific team.

Somewhere, Amogae and Mom are very proud of their boys. And Eorini for remembering her roots. ;-)

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Giving Gil-hyun an independent storyline and revealing Song Sabu's machinations and true nature through him is one of this drama's more inspired ideas - not only because it allowed us to discover Sim Hee-seop has the chops to carry it off, but Gil-hyun really could have been the protagonist of his own drama, if you wanted to take that particular angle on it. But the way his and Gil-dong's storylines wove together before they found each other was my favourite thing about that part.

And yeah, no way is Gil-hyun forgetting about Song Sabu, just let him come off fighting. (apparently we have a third round of literati purges coming under Yeonsangun's successor, yikes. But no one knows the danger Song Sabu poses as well as Gil-hyun does).

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I personally love the scene where Gil Dong opened his eyes and looked right into the camera. it almost felt like Yoon Kyun Sang looked right into my eyes *blush* I'm heavily biased, it feels like I am the luckiest fan girl in the world while watching Rebel ^^

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You are not alone @keiru ! I blushed as well, even though his eyes were red XD

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I may be a bad fangirl because I never finished that silly drama he did after Pinocchio (forgot the name) or got up to his part in SFD, but Rebel has been the best surprise ever on every level and made me a very happy fangirl indeed!

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I DON'T WANT THIS DRAMA TO END *sob*

But I really do think it's a strong candidate for one of the best shows of 2017, even if we're not quite halfway through the year - I've never seen anything quite like it before, and even if work forces me out of here quickly, I just want to say that much.

(also - YAY Ga-ryung is alive! You were right that Gil-dong could never have made it through without her, and I'm still kind of amazed how they developed a side character who is most definitely NOT a typical sageuk heroine - princess/noble or spunky cross-dresser of some kind, or both - into such a central character).

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I want all these casts to reunite in year end award and get awards. MBC don't you dare to forget them.... This could be so early to tell, but if they let Yoona wins over Lee Honey or Chae Soo Bin , hmm .... ? For a drama which didn't have top stars and less buzz, the rating they got was impressive enough. This is a drama that focus to tell us the storyline and characters, and not only fanservice drama. For that I am really thankful towards the PD and writer.

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I can't agree more. I hope MBC won't forget this little gem of drama at their end-of-year award!

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They'd better not, and they don't even have the excuse of low ratings with this one - it closed out at 14.4% nationwide ratings on AGB Nielsen!

I actually wouldn't mind if they make a special category for longer dramas and give this cast all the awards.

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The story of the hunter Geosa (without ending, because of the spoilers - only part 1)
- A buddhist tale from the Sanguk Yusa - freely retold
(Sinhyo-Geosa is believed to be an incarnation of Siddharta)

Once Upon a time there lived a young hunter in Gong-ju whose name was Geosa. Geosa had a mother who only ate meat. Therefore day in and day out she send Geosa on the field and woods to hunt wild animals and to shoot birds. One day Geosa encountered five beautiful cranes. He shot an arrow at them but the cranes flew away and Geosa didn't really feel like he wanted to hunt any further. The crane that Geosa had shot at had lost a single feather. Geosa picked it up and placed it in front of his eyes.
When Geosa returned home to Gong-ju all the people he met looked like wild animals and birds to him. Since Geosa didn't bring any animals home from the hunt, he cut out a chunk of flesh from his own body and offered it his mother.
Geosa had become tired of hunting and with passing time he became a monk who didn't eat any meat anymore.
One day Geosa came to the town of Hasol. When he saw - through the feather - the people living there, they looked like ordinary people and not like animals. Geosa met an old woman, who showed him the way to a thatched hut on the other side of a mountain pass. Then the old woman, who was Gwaneum (Guanyin) herself, disappeared in a mist.
... to be continued

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Samguk Yusa. These teribble typos!

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wow this wonderful but seeing madam jo and her son becoming a lowly is more exectin I hope gi don never fall in scholar song's trap.

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After getting a Kafkaesque / dystopian twinge while reading about the clones in the upcoming drama DUEL, I got thinking about Song Sabu and the Sugwidan. It occurs to me that the Sugwidan gulag is reminiscent of Franz Kafka's short story "In the Penal Colony." I'm strongly reminded of Song Sabu's contorted logic.

https://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/kafka/inthepenalcolony.htm

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Return of Random Thoughts!

1. I always wanted to, but kept forgetting to mention how I found it interesting to see the populace embrace Gil-dong through its pop culture, like children singing songs in the street about him rather than the king. It’s quite significant and a clear way he’s really stolen the king’s power and won over the people.

2. This is incredibly shallow…but I love that Ga-ryung is wearing my favourite colours, green and purple for the last two episodes lol.

3. It’s cool to see that we were right about Ga-ryung being alive and resurrecting herself and having pretty much all of the evidence come true lol.

4. Just like the tears of the people and Ga-ryung which resurrected Gil-dong and changed his path, Ga-ryung is awoken by Gil-dong’s tears for her. It’s a nice touch that they both end up crying on each other’s hands.

5. That scene with Gil-dong and the Hongvengers below talking to Minister Park and Song Sabu on the top watching everything reminds me of theatre. The characters on the bottom don't notice the ones watching, but it's just like Hamlet where characters secretly observe each other. It's a framing device rather than reality.

6. The king lowers his status when he decides to dance with the performers and forces the ministers to dance too. It’s why it’s so jarring for everyone and further shows how incapable he is of ruling. He gets knocked down once and it completely destroys the image it has of himself. His ego literally cannot take it so all he can do is pretend and numb himself to the past. He doesn’t take failure well. He loses his zest for life because he realizes that no matter what he’s been told about being the son of heaven, it doesn’t mean anything when there’s someone out there that can and has beaten him. I think part of it is that he’s also realized that he’s lost the mandate of heaven. If he had the mandate, he would have won because he’s heaven’s son and the gods are on his side. Now he knows that he’s beatable, illegitimate and spurned by the heavens.

7. It’s interesting and smart to make the revolution in the palace not take place because the ministers felt the king was wrong and had empathized with the people, rather…they do it for their own self-interest and continued survival. It’s Machiavellian as hell and I love it lol. I also love how Gil-dong and Gil-hyun are willing to use them…but know they are not to be trusted.

8. The dancing king! Mr. Rooftop Party returns!

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YEAY to the Return of the Random Thoughts!

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More Random Thoughts:

9. The king bought loyalty from his servants/subjects. He didn’t earn it. So at the first sign of trouble, everyone leaves and abandons him. Just like his soldiers. That was pure foreshadowing. The ones that stay are there because they have nowhere else to go or because leaving would mean their lives or choices were meaningless or wrong. Shorty believed that being a eunuch was the best way to serve the country. Nok-soo believed in power above all else. Wolhamae stays because she has dedicated her life to being an artist and wants to be at the pinnacle.

10. Nok-soo’s final outfit as Consort Jang is white…a colour of death in Asia. She knows where this is going. Her best hairpin also looks like it’s made of amethyst which is a symbol of sincerity in Asia…so at the end, she embraces her death and is sincere in her choices. Maybe her affection for Yeonsangun is sincere too. She knows the king may be unable to love her…but she has a measure of love and affection for him. She’s just too guarded and too jaded to let herself really fall for him.

11. Wolhamae’s song is defiant and also timely…but I can’t help but think it’s going over Yeonsangun’s head. They’re all resigned to their deaths.

12. It’s interesting that the ministers are so aware that they need to win the hearts of the people to succeed, but so unaware to whom their hearts actually belong. Gil-dong is the one who has won their hearts. They are merely fighting for the same goal…their motives and their reason behind their actions are completely different.

13. I love that Gil-dong has inspired the people to take action into their own hands and take ownership of what they want and need to do. He doesn’t take the victory FOR the people. He allows them to choose themselves and be the ones that make the change. He may have inspired them…but he gives them the credit. And that’s a hard thing for a drama to pull off. For the main character to be hands off in the final plot point. To be the impetus of action, but not the force of the action. I can understand why some people might be turned off by the drama or feel like the climax was last week…but this storyline makes the drama stronger and stand on it’s feet to have the people take action. There’s something poetic about how the ministers with dubious motives will get all the credit for the rebellion, while Gil-dong, the one who forced it to happen, he’ll watch, take a backseat and become a folk hero and nothing more than a story…because unlike the ministers, he belongs to the people.

14. I love that the Hongvengers become the guardians of Joseon and the watchers on the wall lol.

15. Jeong-hak still thinks like a minister…for his own self-interest. He opens the door for revenge. Because his status has been lowered by Yeonsangun. He doesn’t care about the people or what the rebellion means. He does this to exact personal revenge on Yeonsangun and basically score points. He’s basically an opportunistic...

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...coward who lets things happen to him rather than take action. I love that smile from Gil-hyun…it’s so knowing. Also I liked how they staged Gil-dong and Gil-hyun on the rock to confront this guy who used to lord over them as their master and get them punished. Oh how the times have changed. Jeong-hak has been lowered to the status he deserves for his actions in life, while Gil-hyun and Gil-dong have been elevated by theirs symbolically.

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Still More Random Thoughts:

16. When they ask for Yeonsangun’s royal seal…I went ‘Ooooh’ since seals are so important in Asia. They legitimize a ruler and who has power and who doesn’t. In the west, those symbols are the crown jewels or the throne, but in Asia, it’s the seal, since it’s about the legitimacy of the king’s word. (Heck, people still geek out over the calligraphy/writing of emperors.) In western culture, we have more of a dominance of the spoken word (phonocentrism), while in Asia, it’s the dominance of the written word (logocentrism). Britain’s common law is considered unwritten. And many Greek philosophers preferred spoken language over written because text was seen as merely a refraction of language and not real language. Chinese itself has basically been unchanged more or less since the Han dynasty so anyone who can read Chinese has access to thousands of years’ worth of knowledge. (Plus, China basically has about 50 different dialects/languages…which is why the written word was so important. It was standard. Speech was not.) This is also why it’s such a big deal for Gil-hyun, a slave, to know how to read.

17. I love that Gil-hyun remembered Eorini’s bff and was able to reunite her with Ok-ran. Such an awesome brother. It must be insane to the gisaengs how Eorini is connected to these rebels lol. I do love seeing the relationship between Eorini and Ok-ran though. It’s through Ok-ran we see Eorini’s warmth initially.

18. I know Gil-dong was injured…but not really the extent of his injuries. He’s literally bleeding out in front of his wife lol. But it’s also incredibly sweet that his own injuries mean nothing to him in the face of Ga-ryung’s. He really is THAT devoted to her. Poor Gil-hyun having to deal with that though. Like I said before, he is probably just so over those two and their crazy self-sac