The King Loves: Episodes 19-20
We’re in for a major shift in the story as Won’s days of appearing weak and insignificant before the king are finally coming to an end. Painfully aware that his weakness has placed those that he cares about in harm’s way, Won makes a decision that will change everything for everyone. With friends that he’s not willing to live without, it’s time for our prince to emerge from the shadows and claim what’s rightfully his.
EPISODE 19 RECAP
Won faces the guests at Princess Wonsung’s tea party to introduce the woman who will become the crown princess. San watches tearfully as he beckons Dan to his side and takes her hand.
Rin is outside when Dan emerges, and he asks if she’s all right. Before she can answer, one of the guests congratulates her, and Rin learns that Won chose his sister over San. As the young lady comments on Rin’s close friendship with the prince, we see him angrily enter Won’s chambers to challenge his selection.
In front of Jang Eui, Jin Gwan, and Eunuch Kim, Rin confronts Won about his choice. Won realizes that both Rin and San deliberately kept her identity from him and that she knew that he was the crown prince. Rin shouts, “Of course, how could we tell you?”
Won dismisses everyone before he demands to know how long he was deceived. Rin ignores the question since he’s more concerned about San, who is now marked to become a Yuan tribute. Won manages to control his anger so that he can listen to what Rin has to say.
Rin explains that Princess Wonsung discovered that San switched identities with her maid after the attack seven years ago. Won guesses that he was kept in the dark in order to protect him from being implicated in the scheme.
Won calls Rin and San idiots, but Rin argues that the queen made a personal visit to Minister Eun’s home to deliver an ultimatum: “Become the crown princess, or receive punishment.” Because of that, Won guesses that his mother is interested in Minister Eun’s fortune.
Rin explains that he expected San to tell Won the truth and become the crown princess, but Won confides that instead, she asked him not to select her lady (aka, she asked him not to select her, once her secret was revealed). Rin doesn’t understand until Won shares the reason: San is in love with another man. Rin is silent as the words sink in while Won jumps up to look for San.
Princess Wonsung’s female guards force San into a room and confiscate her belongings — a dagger, a document, and the hairpin that Won gave her.
Won and Rin find themselves turned away from Princess Wonsung’s chambers with the excuse that she’s too tired for visitors. They look helpless when nothing that they say manages to get them past Lady Jo.
Eunuch Choi places San’s belongings in front of Princess Wonsung. She examines the dagger as Furatai informs her that San was trained in martial arts when she was a student of Teacher Lee’s. He adds that Teacher Lee has many students scattered across the nation.
Furatai urges Princess Wonsung to imprison Minister Eun, at the very least. She worries that if his fortune is confiscated, it would be embezzled by state officials who support the king, something that she wants to avoid.
Princess Wonsung picks up the document, but something about the hairpin distracts her. When she reaches for it, she experiences crippling pain, and Eunuch Choi pours out some medicine. Furatai cautions about taking it too often and building a tolerance, but Princess Wonsung explains that they have to move before the king does, and raises her cup to drink.
Another pain overtakes Princess Wonsung, and Furatai shouts to Eunuch Choi to fetch a doctor. The eunuch races away until he’s out of sight and then slows to a walk as a satisfied smile betrays his pleasure over Princess Wonsung’s worsening condition.
Meanwhile, Rin finds Won in the garden, deep in thought. Won surprises Rin when he recalls his meeting with Teacher Lee and confesses, “I asked, ‘Would it not be better if someone like me never existed in this world?’”
Won had presented his story about the wolf-dog who was feared by his sheep and wanted to know if it should be chased away or killed. Won shared that Teacher Lee’s answer made no sense to him, and he thought that the trip was a waste of time.
When Won had confessed that death might be a relief, Teacher Lee questioned his concern for the people: “He who has nothing is reluctant to leave and no one he is reluctant to part from cares for his sheep? That is no use to anyone. When you find something you are reluctant to lose, then ask me again. That is, if you still want to know the answer.”
Won admits that there’s now something that he’s reluctant to lose and presents his dilemma, “I am nothing without power. I can do nothing to protect the people that I care for. They try to protect me, and make me feel even worse. All I can do is complain. I need power.”
Won faces Rin and asks, “Just promise me that you will stay. I need you to be my flagpole. Whatever flag I become and whatever mess I may be in, I need you as a flagpole to keep me grounded.”
It’s nighttime when Won is allowed to visit his mother. Princess Wonsung orders Furatai and a reluctant Eunuch Choi to leave them alone.
When Won asks, “What or whom should I obtain first,” Princess Wonsung suspects that his new interest in power has to do with San. She wants to know why Won didn’t choose her when he had the chance and he confesses, “I did not want to lose Rin.” Won’s mother tells him that he can have both women, but he admits, “If she were that easy to take, I would have let go already.”
Princess Wonsung remembers that Won always looked down on politics and power with disdain. He confesses that after he became crown prince, he never uttered one particular word out loud, only to himself. When Won finally voices it again, Princess Wonsung is surprised to hear him call her “Mother,” as he asks for her help
Outside, Furatai explains to Won that Princess Wonsung granted permission for him to see San. Won declines and explains that he knows that his mother will take good care of her.
Furatai is surprised when Won expresses gratitude for the servant’s loyalty towards his mother. Won confesses that he wants to be a good son to his mother and may come to Furatai for advice. Once Won walks away, Furatai looks up from his bow and follows the prince with his gaze.
Won works into the night as he reads through a massive pile of scrolls. When he rubs his neck with fatigue, he feels the necklace that San gave him and studies it. He approaches a small chest and pulls out the broken bracelet and looks at it thoughtfully.
Boo-young is with Song In his secret room when Eunuch Choi delivers his latest update. Minister Eun hasn’t been arrested but Princess Wonsung has his daughter in custody. He concludes, “It would be safe to say that his riches will soon become the Queen’s,” something that Song In declares must not happen.
Boo-young is surprised when Song In asks for an update on San. Eunuch Choi reports that Princess Wonsung is still trying to decide if she should interrogate her and then he leaves. Song In chuckles as he recalls a visit that San paid him at his tea house.
They sat in a private room and Song In had poured San a cup of wine and asked if she drank alcohol. Ha! She had ignored the cup to explain that she needed to make a deal. Worried that she would be sent to Yuan, San offered to subsidize Song In’s work on behalf of the people for a period of ten years, if he would protect her father. Song In wanted the money all at once, but San reminded him that one must be patient to get an egg from a chicken every day.
Back in the present, Song In chuckles as he recalls the meeting and Boo-young turns away in jealousy. He orders her back to the palace, concerned that she’s been away from the king too long.
When Boo-young begs to stay with him one more night, Song In asks if she’s slept with the king yet. Boo-young replies that the king thinks of her as a friend, which is not good enough for Song In, who demands, “Why do you think you have learned these things so far?”
Desperate to please a dispassionate Song In, Boo-young offers to diagnose the queen and put something in her medicine. When she tearfully clings to Song In, he pats her consolingly, but Boo-young can’t see his cold eyes.
Furatai departs from the palace at dawn with a small party. He explains to the guards that the empty carriage is meant for someone that he’s to escort and orders that they be allowed back inside the palace no matter the hour.
The king sleeps fitfully with Boo-young next to him in his bed. He awakens and scolds her for her long absence while she lies that she couldn’t bear to be away any longer.
The king confides that he had a nightmare that the prince was looking down on him and laughing. King Chungryeol begs Boo-young to reassure him that he just had a bad dream, but her deliberate silence distresses him.
Song In shows up at Minister Eun’s house in the early morning, accompanied by Moo-suk, and demands to meet with Minister Eun.
Boo-young appears reluctant to inform the king that the girl that Won fell in love with is actually the daughter of Minister Eun. She claims that San hid her identity to avoid selection as a tribute and that Won hid the truth from the king. He then chose the daughter of Wang Young to be his wife and caused a rumor that he already has two out of three, news that causes the king’s face to darken with rage.
Song In explains to Minister Eun that because San approached him for help, he decided to offer him one last chance. Minister Eun shouts out to Goo-hyung, “Bring the table you have prepared.” Moo-suk follows Goo-hyung as he carries out his order, but is distracted when he catches sight of Bi-yeon, and follows her instead. It leaves Goo-hyung free to retrieve a chest from a hidden safe in Minister Eun’s office.
We see in a flashback that Minister Eun prepared that chest with San, before she attended the tea party. As he filled it with documents, San explained that the king and Song In stood on one side and the queen on the other, but they both wanted Minister Eun’s fortune.
San had promised to do her best, but emphasized that the only way to keep her father safe was to keep his fortune away from both sides. Goo-hyung had vowed to protect the chest with his life.
When Minister Eun had admired his daughter’s intelligence and beauty, Goo-hyung reassured them that the crown prince would choose San as his wife and solve all of their problems. San told her father, “I really cannot live if you get harmed in any way because of me.” When her father asked San if she would be safe, she looked down, unable to give him an answer.
EPISODE 20 RECAP
Song In explains that San is Princess Wonsung’s prisoner at the palace, something that she anticipated. He shares San’s story about the chicken and Minister Eun confesses that he warned his daughter that it would have no effect.
Song In readily agrees that an egg a day isn’t good enough for him and instructs Minister Eun to turn over all of his assets. In exchange, Minister Eun will be allowed to keep his title and manage his former properties, but Song In refuses to do anything to save San. When he threatens exile and voices doubt that San’s father will live long enough to be resettled, Minister Eun responds with a hearty laugh.
Outside, Bi-yeon tries to eavesdrop but loses her balance and falls back — into Moo-suk’s strong arms. When he walks away, a worried Bi-yeon grabs his hand and asks about her lady, who has yet to return from the palace.
Goo-hyung stays out of sight when palace guards overtake Minister Eun’s house.
Minister Eun offers Song In the deed to all that he owns, a small house that he kept after he handed over his assets to his daughter. Song In’s face twitches in rage as Minister Eun explains that the person he should try to save is San.
In a rare show of emotion, Song In angrily throws open the doors and orders the guards to search Minister Eun’s properties for the necessary papers. Goo-hyung manages to escape as the guards arrest Minister Eun and lead him away. Moo-suk notices when a distraught Bi-yeon is pushed to the ground and is moved by her distress. When Song In orders him to find Goo-hyung, Moo-suk hesitates ever so slightly when he passes Bi-yeon.
Minister Song meets with King Chungryeol to review the two out of three that Won has already acquired. First is Wang Young, who will become Won’s father-in-law and is well respected by several ministers who can be expected to join him in support of the prince.
The second is Minister Eun, and the king is convinced that Won pursued his daughter only because of the man’s wealth. Minister Song calls San a walking fortune since her father already passed his wealth to her. King Chungryeol demands to know the girl’s location and Minister Song suggests that she’s either in Won’s palace, or the queen’s.
When palace guards descend on Won’s palace, Eunuch Kim runs inside to sound the alarm. Jang Eui reports that they are completely surrounded with guards at the front and soldiers in the back. Jin Gwan reports that Minister Eun was arrested and his house ransacked.
Won realizes that the king found out about San, who he still refers to as So-hwa. Jang Eui urges Won to escape while he can, but he declares with determination, “I will not move.” He then instructs Jang Eui, “Go to Rin. So-hwa is with my mother. Rin will be able to enter. Tell him to get her and run.”
King Chungryeol places Won under house arrest and sends Minister Song to search his palace for San. If she’s not there, the king will search the queen’s palace himself. The king asks himself, “What does my son want to do with all of Minister Eun’s riches?”
Won sends Jin Gwan to Geumgajeong before his father discovers his personal army, just as Minister Song tells the king about the place. Won then asks Eunuch Kim to help him stall for some extra time.
Won exits his palace with a companion in a gown and a veiled hat just as Minister Song arrives. He informs Won that the king confined him to his quarters and asks for the identity of his guest, but they return inside without an answer.
Rin and Jang Eui race to the queen’s palace, careful to avoid the guards. Still confined, San awakens from a nap to see Princess Wonsung in the doorway. When she jumps to her feet and bows, the queen enters and notes the absence of a bed or chair. After the queen expresses a wish to sit and talk, San spreads her coat on the floor before the attendants can bring a chair.
Palace guards enter Geumgajeong as the housekeeper enjoys a lunch of steamed buns. One guard sees how many she’s prepared and demands to know who they are for. They find the special door, and despite the housekeeper’s best efforts, they enter the training grounds… only to discover that Geumgajeong is deserted.
Across the street, Goo-hyung watches as guards exit Geumgajeong. The cart pullers take him by surprise when they explain that everyone fled. Goo-hyung asks about Wang Young’s third son, who his lady sent him to find. He explains to the shocked pair that the girl that they know as So-hwa is actually the daughter of the Minister of Finance.
Won protests when Minister Song enters his chambers without permission. Minister Song presents the prince with the king’s order, which forbids all entrance or exit from his palace. Minister Song becomes suspicious when he notices the shoes on Won’s companion and rips off the veiled hat, angry to discover that it was Eunuch Kim all along.
Princess Wonsung learns that San didn’t know that Won was the crown prince when they first met. San admits that the queen would hang her upside down if she knew how badly she treated him. Won’s mother shares that Won never liked being the crown prince and San confides that he’s happier outside of the palace.
The queen presents the hairpin and explains that Won had the piece made by a talented craftsman. San explains that she wanted to return it to Won now that he’s about to marry. Princess Wonsung asks what Won said when he gave San the pin, and she admits that he probably teased her, like he usually does.
Princess Wonsung asks San, “Who is the Crown Prince in your heart?” She waits anxiously as San confesses, “I would like him to be my friend forever. I envied him and his friendship with Master Rin. I wished to be part of that.”
The queen doubles over in pain suddenly, and San rushes to her side. She massages her hand and then encourages the queen to take deep breaths. San even massages her shoulders, but she backs away when the queen utters, “How dare you.” Princess Wonsung struggles to her feet and studies San closely before she urges her to take back the hairpin.
The queen calls out for Rin and notices how San looks at him when he enters the room. She tells him, “Take her,” and pauses to look at Rin on her way out.
San assures Rin that she’s not hurt and expresses her surprise that he’s always around to rescue her. Rin hands her a change of clothes and turns to hold Jang Eui’s head against a wall while she gets dressed. Rin explains that Won is looking for Minister Eun and ordered him to find a safe place for San.
The clothes are much too large and Rin confesses that they’re his, all that he had on such short notice. Rin pulls a string from his hair and moves close to tie up a pant leg as he expresses relief that San wasn’t beaten.
It’s late when Furatai’s party returns to the palace and Teacher Lee peeks out of the carriage as the gates are opened. (Could he be number three?) Once inside, a guard asks why they returned with an empty carriage and Furatai throws open a door and confirms that no one is inside.
The king’s guards arrive to search the queen’s palace just as Rin, San, and Jang Eui emerge through a side door. When they are forced to hide, Rin hands San the small sword that she gave him. San thinks that Rin is returning it, but he explains that he’s just lending it to her, temporarily.
When they’re spotted, Rin draws his sword and instructs San to stay behind him, but of course she joins the fight and takes out a guard. Jang Eui blocks the guards behind them, and they manage to get away.
Eunuch Choi motions to Rin, who urges Jang Eui to be careful when he stays behind to fight off the guards. Eunuch Choi leads Rin and San to a gate and explains, “You can go this way.” They walk into a trap and when Rin tries to retreat, Eunuch Choi slams the gate shut.
Rin and San are confronted by the king and Minister Song, who announces, “Eun San the criminal.” He orders San to fall to her knees before the king, and though Rin reaches out for her, San follows his order. Won suddenly appears to kneel next to San, and the king is furious that the prince violated his confinement.
Won offers to explain everything to the king, but he’s beyond listening as he rants, “Many people have told me to be cautious about you and to be suspicious about you. But I did not listen to them. When they said you shot an arrow to my head, I did not think my son would dare to do that. However, what on earth are you trying to do?”
Before the king orders San taken away, Minister Song reminds him to consider Minister Eun’s fortune. The king makes it clear that he’s king even without that money and orders San to be taken as a tribute and branded with an envoy’s mark.
When the guards lead San away, Won stands up and bellows, “How dare you touch her!” San shakes her head at Won as he continues, “Let go of her!” Even though the king reminds him that it’s his royal order, Won repeats, “Let go of her!”
The king rushes at Won and slaps him. Won turns to face the king as he asks, “Do you truly want to die in my hands?” Won stares unblinkingly at the king as Rin and San look on helplessly at the tense exchange.
In this pivotal pair of episodes, Won finally abandoned his meek facade and embraced what it means to be a half-blooded crown prince. For the first time, King Chungryeol is about to have a genuine face to face with his son, and it promises to be a clash for the ages. I know that Won will have to reveal a side of himself that no one has ever seen before, but the stakes have risen exponentially, and he no longer has the luxury of holding himself back. This development comes at just the right time, as the question about San’s feelings for the two best friends is beginning to see a resolution.
You could practically see Won’s spine stiffen as he drew himself up from that slap heard ‘round the world. He has long complained that Rin has held himself back in their friendship, but so has Won, and it was a truth that he finally confronted. These two boyhood friends must either step into adulthood together and work to maintain their friendship, or they have to leave it behind. Won wants to keep both Rin and San safe and hopefully by his side, but that requires him to finally step out from his parents’ shadows. He has tiptoed his entire life around both his mother and father, but no more. Won is highly intelligent and he knows all too well how weak a king his father has become, but he valued peace more than power. Until now.
Strangely, I think Won’s decision to acquire power has more to do with Rin than with San. Won’s fight with Rin unlocked something in both of them. Rin held nothing back when he confronted Won over his choice for crown princess and yelled at him as if he wasn’t a prince. I get the feeling that Won trusts Rin more than ever, and he finally has the confidence that he and his friend can get through anything together.
As excited as these episodes made me for the remainder of the drama, I have to face my growing fears for the characters that I’ve come to care about. Jang Eui and Jin Gwan are at the top of my list — I don’t want so much as a hair on their heads harmed. Their silent communication, knowing glances, and overall good cheer have made them an endearing pair. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for these two.
Princess Wonsung is sicker than she has let on, but it’s becoming harder and harder for her to hide her condition. I wonder if Rin learned how ill she really is when he was confined in her palace. It may be why Won has softened towards her and finally called her “Mother.”
For now, the emerging triangle is between King Chungryeol, Princess Wonsung, and Won. The king has chosen to believe those around him who feed him lies about the prince. Won has finally accepted that if his father is going to mistrust him, he might as well do what’s best for him and his loved ones. Again, Princess Wonsung added so much to the story. Her private conversation with San revealed her wisdom as a mother and as a woman. As disappointed as she must have been that San doesn’t return Won’s affection, she had to value her honesty once she saw how San looked at Rin. As frightening as she can be, Princess Wonsung has endured much to protect those that she values and cares about. It may be the most important legacy that she leaves to her son.
- 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