The King Loves: Episodes 5-6
This episode gives us a more in-depth look at the structure of the royal family in Goryeo, which gives us a clearer picture of how our characters relate to each other within the scope of that structure. We also get a taste of the antagonistic forces propelling our story forward as our heroes encounter more and more dangers—but fear not, since cute moments still abound, both outside and within our new favorite bromance.
Note: There are two versions of The King Loves in circulation, so there may be some readers who find the events of the recap to be different from the episode they’ve seen. For our purposes, we’ll be recapping the episodes that aired in Korea.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
In the palace, Won spars with Jin Gwan, but finds himself thinking back to his exchange with San from the last episode, where he had given her the authority to kill him whenever she chose to. He looked all proud and grave as if he were bequeathing some great honor to her, and she had just scoffed at his self-importance before promptly giving the authority to a dog. Ha.
In the present, Won explodes from the humiliation and proceeds to attack Jin Gwan in an unrelenting assault. He sends Jin Gwan stumbling backwards and is eventually stopped by one of his old bodyguards.
Later, Won complains to Rin about San’s impudence, and Rin worries that Won will seek her out again. He admits to it, so Rin tells Won that San seems suspicious because no mere handmaiden would suddenly become a renowned teacher’s student after being expelled from a minister’s house, without good reason.
Won seems to consider Rin’s reservations, but after Rin expresses his intentions to carefully investigate San and determine that she isn’t someone dangerous, he instructs Rin not to get too close to her during his investigation. Hehe.
Rin is taken aback by the order, so Won explains his concerns about Rin’s identity (and by extension, his own) being exposed, but is interrupted by his head eunuch, eager to deliver a message from Won’s mother, Princess Wonsung.
Won quickly covers the eunuch’s mouth before he can speak before telling the eunuch that he can’t deliver his message, because he hasn’t seen the crown prince. Won then playfully pushes the eunuch away, advising him to hurry and search for the crown prince before running off in the other direction. LOL!
Rin watches Won trot off, and thinks back to a conversation he had with Won as a child, where Young Won had called Young San kind of weird and told Young Rin how he couldn’t stop thinking thinking about her. Rin links that to his memory back in Teacher Lee’s secret mountain alcohol warehouse, where Won repeated the description of San as he studied her face in wonderment.
In the darkness, San sits alone outside her family home and thinks of her mother’s final words. She recalls her first meeting with Teacher Lee, where he had asked her what she came to learn from him. She replied that she had been responsible for her mother’s death.
Back in the present, San’s brooding is cut short when she sees her father emerge from the house, which sends her hiding. She follows them to Song In’s lavish teahouse, and remains unaware of Rin stalking her.
San’s father, Minister Eun, walks through the hustle and bustle of the teahouse and enters a restricted area. Thinking on her feet, San quickly disguises herself as a serving girl and easily gains access.
As San gets distracted by a gisaeng, Rin isn’t far behind and manages to stay on Minister Eun’s tail. He eavesdrops on Minister Eun’s conversation with Minister Song, Song In, and… his older brother, Jeon.
Jeon asks Minister Eun about San, which prompts Minister Eun to thank Jeon for saving her. But Minister Eun’s eyes are shifty, and in a quick flashback, we see that San had told her father about Jeon’s odd behavior during the caravan raid that killed her mother. Song In pushes them to do away with the pleasantries, so they move to discuss the reason they’ve gathered.
Jeon starts his little pitch, and explains how he feels partially responsible for San’s scar, since he had been too late to prevent it. He says that he has waited all these years for San to come of age so that he could ask for her hand.
Minister Eun politely turns down Jeon’s offer, phrasing his rejection in a way that says that he appreciates Jeon’s kind gesture, but couldn’t possibly accept. Song In butts in to insist that Jeon is sincere and encourages Minister Eun to agree.
He depicts the proposal as an opportunity too good to pass up, so Minister Eun tries to change the topic by complimenting Song In, which seems to work temporarily.
From across the room, Song In spies San listening from behind the door and hurries out to catch her, but thankfully, a masked Rin ushers her away with a hand over her mouth just in time.
When the coast is clear, San forces her way out of Rin’s grasp and the close proximity, but when she tries to hit Rin, he blocks her attack and flees. She catches up to him easily and attacks him in a display of impressive martial arts skill, only to be parried each time. They freeze at the sound of footsteps, then rush into the empty room next to the one where Minister Eun and the others are.
San resumes her attack, but is again thwarted by a faster Rin, who even has time to blow out a candle and obscure her vision of him to avoid recognition. She calls him a spy and demands to know who sent him.
When he doesn’t answer, she pulls the chopstick out of her hair and charges, but again, he restrains her and hilariously (but surprisingly swiftly) catches the chopstick before it can drop to the ground and make a sound.
Alas, it isn’t enough to avoid detection, and a keen Song In senses something next door. He approaches the door connecting theirs and the next room, then opens it, surprising his guests. Song In makes up a lame excuse about chasing a bird, then closes the door behind him.
Though the room is empty, he finds evidence that the room was occupied (including the things moved during San and Rin’s fight), including an open window. He goes outside to scan for unwelcome guests, and nearly spots San hanging off the building, being held up only by Rin’s hand, before he goes back inside.
Rin pulls San up onto the roof once Song In is gone, catching her with both arms, and they share a moment of awareness at their closeness.
We cut to Rin reporting the night’s events to Won as he dines at Rin’s house. Rin specifically notes the presence of Song In in the meeting with Minister Eun, which doesn’t surprise Won. Won knows that Song In is close with the king and wonders why Minister Eun would be there. Rin also mentions Jeon and tells him about the marriage proposal, which Won finds peculiar.
Meanwhile, San stuffs her face back at home and discusses that same meeting with Bi-yeon. Being San’s stand-in, Bi-yeon knows it’s her marriage they were talking about, even if they meant San.
San is surprised by Bi-yeon’s lack of reaction, and so Bi-yeon replies pragmatically that she’s grateful, given the scar on her face.
San slams down her chopsticks and grumbles to Bi-yeon for purposefully mentioning her scar, since it’s a topic of great guilt for San. At first, Bi-yeon teases San a bit, but then she points out that her life became so much better because of the scar. Bi-yeon gestures to the room she gets to sleep in now as evidence, and so San suggests that they drink to it.
Suddenly, San grows pensive and theorizes that Jeon and his cohorts are probably only after her father’s wealth. It’s the same conclusion that Won and Rin have come to, and so Rin decides to look more into whether Jeon has other ulterior motives.
Suddenly, Won remarks that Jeon is of pure royal Goryeo blood, unlike himself, and suggests that the people of Goryeo would be much happier with a king who has the right pedigree.
Rin sighs, as if used to this type of talk, and poses Won a question instead: Can a person tell through one’s blood what their character is, or how much they adore their citizens? He says that since all blood is red and looks the same, he can’t tell—instead, he looks at the person to judge. Aww, you precious little muffin.
Won turns away to avoid getting sentimental, then abruptly announces that he’s sleeping in Rin’s bed for the night. They walk to Rin’s room as Rin complains about Wons taying out of the palace all night again, but suddenly, Won declares, “You’re much better.”
Won explains quietly that if he were ever to relinquish his title, then he would want Rin to replace him. Switching subjects, he confirms with Rin that San did not see his face tonight, then finally says good night.
When Won is gone, Rin thinks back to his moment on the roof with San, who finally realized that Rin was protecting her all along. She had sprung up to unmask him, but he had stopped her just in time and sprinted off into the night.
In his chambers, King Chungryeol struggles and fails to string a large ornamental golden bow, while Wang Young (Rin and Jeon’s father) and Song In tell the king the location of his next hunt. Meanwhile, Princess Wonsung sips her tea silently nearby.
King Chungryeol becomes animated at the prospect of using Minister Eun’s land for the hunt, and Minister Song credits Wang Young’s son for brokering the arrangement.
Princess Wonsung tenses at the praise, and so the highly observant Wang Young hurries to deflect the commendation. The king pushes the sensitive topic and asks which of Wang Young’s son is responsible: Rin or Jeon.
Not letting herself be ignored, Princess Wonsung guesses it must be Jeon, since he is better with people. She sneaks in a jab about Rin being better with swords than with people, but the king doesn’t let it slide and compliments Rin’s upstanding nature, which he says was inherited from Wang Young. The king then adds his own little slight about Rin being very different from Won personality-wise. Eek.
The king starts putting Won down, and suggests Jeon and Rin come along on the hunting trip, since Won isn’t much of a hunter. Wang Young tries to refuse, but the king doesn’t let him and explains that he rather be around good-natured kids, unlike his ill-behaved son.
Princess Wonsung seethes, but manages to hold her tongue. She leaves the king’s quarters humiliated and finds Won’s head eunuch cowering outside. She warns him that should he fail to convince Won to go on the next hunting trip, then the eunuch’s goose is cooked.
During a macabre archery demonstration where MOO-SUK, Song In’s masked henchman, shoots and just misses a scared, blindfolded man on a horse, Song In tells an impatient Jeon that the king’s hunt will be where they launch the plan to sow even more discord between the king and Won.
Song In explains that they’ll isolate the king on the hunt, and once he’s alone, Won will appear just as they shoot one of Won’s arrows at (but narrowly missing) the king. According to Song In, this will make the king believe that Won tried to kill him.
Jeon doubts the plan will go so smoothly, so Song In explains that the king and Won have their own unique arrows made, and only one craftsman that can create it. They’ll use an arrow with Won’s specific signature to shoot at the king, leaving no room for doubt in the king’s mind as to who did it.
The next morning, Won sneaks out of Rin’s room only to be spotted by practically everyone on the compound. He proceeds to frantically stop them from greeting him, but Rin strolls by to assuage Won’s fears and says knowingly that “she” isn’t up at this early hour. Won is relieved and says that Rin’s sister is the one person he fears most in the world.
Rin replies that Won only has himself to blame because he warned Won not to be so blatantly nice to his sister. Won defends himself and says that she was really cute before, which causes Rin’s adoring brother-side to pop out as he defensively asks if Won means that his sister isn’t cute any longer. Won nods in confirmation, HA.
They walk in the direction of the kitchen, but they’re stunned to see San with the servants, so they hurry and hide.
San loiters around the kitchen, congratulating herself for infiltrating the Wang household. She immediately cozies up with one of the ajummas and begins asking about the sons of the family. The ajumma gives San the rundown: The first son is married and already left the house, and the second and third son (Rin) are both good-looking.
The ajumma doesn’t hold back, so when San asks about the Wang boys’ characters, she rips into Jeon and calls him the worst, since he doesn’t even view the servants as human beings.
As for Rin, he doesn’t rank much higher; the ajumma says that Rin is often in his own little world and doesn’t notice anything at all, much less other human beings. HA.
San reasons that at least Rin won’t be interested in other women (Rin blinks at this), so they can count that as a plus, but the ajumma isn’t done and delivers the final blow: Frankly, she isn’t sure Rin knows that women exist alongside with him in this world.
Rin looks a little traumatized by the brutal takedown, but he manages to note of San’s reaction to his faults carefully anyway.
San sneaks off for more investigating, spotting Jeon and Wang Young nearby. She hides and observes them, when suddenly, Won appears besides her and asks if she considers Jeon to be attractive.
She panics, pulling him out of view, and is amazed when Won claims to know the sons of the household. San decides to use Won in her investigation and has him identify Jeon. However, when San asks about the third son, Won says that she should ask Rin instead, since he’s really close with the third son.
As Rin walks by, San recognizes him and comments on how the two boys always seem to come as a pair, so Won replies that they’re in the same “group.” She pushes for more details on their group, but that has Won struggling to keep up with his lies.
From behind, a woman’s voice cries out to Won, referring to him as “crown prince.” Whoops. This is WANG DAN (Park Hwan-hee), Rin’s sister. She runs over to greet Won, but Won beats her to it and bows to her instead. He also uses jondaemal and refers to the crown prince in the third person, to Dan’s utter confusion.
Won manages to lie that he and Rin work for the crown prince and were sent to see the third son under the prince’s orders. Rin motions to Dan, and she’s sharp enough to go along with the lie without missing a beat; cutely, she even gives them fake names.
Won tries to excuse himself before he can be caught in his web of lies, but Dan isn’t ready to send Won off so soon, and she forces Won into having a cup of tea.
She drags Won off by the arm, knowing that he’ll bolt if given a chance, ha. After they’re gone, Rin warns San that if he sees her masquerading as a servant in this house again, he’ll turn her in—but for today, he’ll let her go. Rin begins walking away, but then Dan calls out to San and invites her along for tea as well.
Dan continues dragging a very reluctant and somewhat depressed-looking Won along the way, pressing him for information on San and why they’re lying to her. Won lies that he doesn’t know anything, but Dan won’t be deterred and is determined to unearth the mystery herself.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
The quartet sit down for tea, and Dan fishes for the scoop on how the boys met San. Rin and Won remain vague on the details, but Dan only wants to know if they’re close with San, so Won puts San’s arm around his shoulders as a demonstration of their closeness, leading San to growl at him to get lost. Haha.
It’s San’s turn now, and she asks Dan if she knows what Won and Rin really do. Won jumps in and says they work for the crown prince as shadow bodyguards… in training.
San peppers Won with more questions, which he manages to contort himself around successfully, as Dan observes them curiously. San asks Dan to corroborate Won’s lies, so instead, she just confirms their (fake) identities, and promises San that there is no need to worry.
San backs down and decides to believe Dan. She pours herself another glass of tea, but the top falls off and hot tea splashes onto her. Won pulls San’s hand away on instinct, and belatedly realizes he’s holding the hot teapot in his other hand, which he then drops and breaks.
San scolds/fusses over Won for being clumsy, and Dan observes them unhappily. San remembers her manners and says that Won will replace the broken teapot, blaming everything on him. She then gets up to thank Dan for her kindness and understanding amid their buffoonery before heading out in the wrong direction (which Won points out, haha).
Won follows after her, leaving the two siblings alone. Rin tells Dan not to mind their relationship after he sees Dan observing the two. She asks her brother what kind of person San is, but he doesn’t have an answer for her yet.
As they head out, San comments on how Won will probably be really busy with the king’s hunt coming up, but Won replies that he isn’t sure the crown prince will be going, describing him as lazy.
San guesses the prince must also be a terrible person, since Won was talking about suicide and whatnot to her before. She becomes serious and tells Won that since she’s thrown away the authority he gave her, he can’t die just because he wants to anymore.
It looks like the words strike a chord within him, and Won looks back at San, moved. She demands a verbal agreement from him before she goes, and it shakes him out of his thoughts. As she walks away, Won asks if she’ll be at the hunt, and when she says she might, he says he’ll see her there, smiling widely.
At home, Wang Young preps Rin on etiquette when hunting with the king. He wisely comments on how insulted Princess Wonsung must feel by their invitations, and warns Rin to take heed when around her.
Rin isn’t that concerned with his well-being and voices his sympathies for Won, who has been unable to tell his father or mother how he truly feels, or even act comfortably around them.
Wang Young becomes pensive at his son’s words and recounts how Princess Wonsung came from Yuan as a bride when she was only sixteen years old, and married a forty year old King Chungryeol. He’s sympathetic to Princess Wonsung’s situation and imagines it must have been scary for her.
Rin asks if his aunt (the king’s first wife, and Wang Young’s older sister) was there at the time. We then flash back to Princess Wonsung’s first day in Goryeo.
She was greeted by the king, his first wife, and their son. Princess Wonsung soon gave birth to Won, but was not welcomed into the fold or loved by the king, who only cared for Won and viewed her as a burden, even though she loved him.
In retaliation for her loneliness, Princess Wonsung had lashed out the king’s first wife. She ordered the first wife removed from the inner palace, then sent the first wife’s son to live as a monk in a temple.
Back in the present, Princess Wonsung worries for her only son, while the king wakes from a strange dream. Something about the incense that’s burning seems suspicious, especially since Song In is behind the girl (Boo-young, his erstwhile female companion) changing the king’s incense. He introduces her to the king, who immediately takes a liking to her, which seems to all be part of Song In’s plan.
On the day of the hunt, the royal family, Wang Young’s family, and Song In and his party arrive on Minister Eun’s land. Minister Eun greets the king and thanks him for gracing them with his presence. The king expresses his excitement then before turning his attention to the young, masked woman (Bi-yeon) standing next to Minister Eun.
Rin and Won watch the exchange from afar, and Rin asks if Won intends to speak with her. But Won isn’t looking forward to it since he feels responsible for the scar on her face. Rin suggest he offer a greeting and withhold the rest since it might make him feel better, but that isn’t really Won’s style.
Won looks around for San, but can’t find her, which leads Rin to believe that Won intends to reveal his identity to her. Won denies it since he presumes she’ll just bow to him like the other servants, and Won isn’t interested in changing their relationship so much.
Won orders Rin to find San and to prevent her from seeing him, but to also make it so that he can see her whenever he wants. Rin can’t help but laugh at Won’s silly request, which annoys Won.
Rin sets off on his mission, but he doesn’t venture far before he finds the cart-pullers from the first episode. Rin’s memory is rather impressive, seeing as he remembers them from seven years ago. But then he spots the black-clad Moo-suk approaching the cart-pullers and ducks out of view to escape his notice.
Rin spies the cart-pullers handing Moo-suk a single arrow, then he disappears. Rin confronts the cart-pullers afterwards and searches them until he finds another arrow they’ve squirreled away, recognizing the design as Won’s. Uh oh.
Moo-suk heads right into San’s path somewhere, and she accidentally(?) spills a tray of food onto him. She scrambles to clean him off, and then catches sight of the red snake tattoo on his arm, her eyes widening in recognition.
She follows after him as she flashes through her traumatic memories. She clutches her dagger with a determined look in her eyes, then chases after Moo-suk, keeping pace with him even as he sprints through the forest.
Rin hands the cart-pullers over to the royal guards, then jumps on a horse and rushes over to Won. He’s stopped at the entrance to the hunting grounds by one of Princess Wonsung’s loyal eunuchs and starts getting anxious when he hears that Won, the king, and Jeon headed into the forest to survey the grounds.
The eunuch twiddles his thumbs when Rin asks where the royals went, but one of the guards helpfully lets their location slip. As Rin heads out, he sees Jeon approach to tell him that the king cannot be found. Jeon claims that the king challenged Won to a race, and now both are missing.
We go into the forest and see Won calling out to the king as he wanders around on horseback. He shouts for his own personal bodyguards, but all is silent. He then hears hoofbeats in the distance, and gallops after them.
Not far off, the king also finds himself alone, and begins to wonder where everyone has gone off to. Moo-suk hides behind some rocks, readies the crown prince’s unique arrow, and aims it at the king.
Rin and San separately spot Moo-suk as he waits to strike, and San, thinking only of her vengeance, jumps out to charge at Moo-suk, but is suddenly stopped by Song In. The scholar disarms her and holds her own dagger to her throat, then studies her face very closely before asking who she is.
Won comes into view, totally unaware of anything nefarious happening, and finally, Moo-suk releases that arrow directly at the king. The king notices it in time, barely dodges it, and falls off his horse in the process. The arrow grazes his ear and lands on the tree behind him.
He’s terrified, and immediately sees Won gallop up to him, concerned. His reaction is just as Song In predicted, and he assumes Won was responsible for the flying arrow. He accuses Won of attempted murder.
Moo-suk flees the scene as Rin watches helplessly. Knowing what he must do to save Won, Rin pulls out the other arrow he confiscated from the cart-pullers, aims it at his friend, and lets it fly.
I find Dan (and her hair) adorable. I love her reaction to Won, and especially his reaction to her. She has her work cut out for her in the romance department, but I like the way she sat back and watched San and Won interact, then waited to form an opinion before jumping right to jealousy (even if she could feel it prickling the back of her neck). I hope she always maintains her sweetness, because I’d hate to see her go the classic “other woman” route.
It was lovely how Rin sought to reassure Dan that she needn’t worry about Won and San’s relationship, but I think either he’s lying to himself, or he’s lying to Dan. I’m guessing it’s the former, because Rin saw Won looking at San adoringly in the cave, and has both new and old memories of how San may be much more deeply rooted in Won’s heart than he wants to believe.
I’m starting to really like the setup of Rin being in direct competition with Won for the throne, even though neither really wants it, and is willing to relinquish it for the other. Clearly that reluctance has to change for both of them somewhere down the line, but right now I’m so charmed by Rin’s doting loyalty and yielding to Won (and all the dry sassiness!), and Won’s entitled acceptance of that loyalty with his caring attentiveness to Rin’s moods and needs. It makes me excited about the dramatic possibilities when these besties turn on each other. I’m bracing myself for heartbreak, while also eagerly awaiting it.
This show is strong in the quiet moments between the main characters (those little beats and glances), and I love the way the warmth is carried through the screen. So far, the show is keeping my attention via the cute and silly scenes, and though I really hoped to become more invested in the king-queen conflict business, I found the opposite happening, even with all the backstory. That said, it’s still early, so I’m keeping an open mind.
In terms of plot, I could really care less about Song In and his machinations (which is sad because I liked Oh Min-seok in Misaeng, but he’s doing absolutely nothing for me here), and find myself losing focus whenever he tries to explain his plan for world domination. He and Jeon seem so irrelevant somehow, and I think it has to do with the fact that so far, they both lack any layers, so I find them utterly uninteresting.
On another note, San seemed a little all over the place in this episode, therefore I appreciate that quiet moment she had alone to contemplate the guilt she feels over her mother’s death. Emotionally, San has displayed some promising maturity, especially her treatment of Won’s cavalier suicidal aspirations, and I am curious to see how she’ll react when she finds out that Won is involved in the incident from seven years ago. Won has so much self-hatred that I won’t be surprised if he retreats from her and blames himself, so it’ll be up to her to decide how they move forward.
- The King Loves: Episodes 1-2
- Premiere Watch: School 2017, The King Loves, Man Who Dies to Live, Reunited Worlds
- A house and friendship divided in The King Loves
- Tension in a garden of flowers for The King Loves
- Assassin-filled forests and masked dances in The King Loves
- Main writer behind The King Loves revealed to be Song Ji-nah
- The King Loves to play in azalea-filled forests
- Yoon-ah steals the hearts of two best friends in The King Loves
- Im Shi-wan as a young prince for MBC’s The King Loves