The King Loves: Episodes 9-10
The baddies make bold moves forward in their plan to oust Won, and one of those baddies comes closer to the truth behind San’s true identity while also casting his spell over the frustrated and jealous king. Song In’s scheming successfully pushes Rin and Won into a potentially fatal corner, and forces Won to make a choice he would rather not make.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Having heard the rumors of the witnesses (those involved with the prince’s stolen arrows) dying in the custody of Won’s men, Princess Wonsung knows her son is being framed and sends out Furatai and his men to retrieve him.
When they arrive, Won motions for Rin to stay by pointing to the staircase with his eyes. Rin seems to get the implication, and so Won sets out on horseback with Jin Gwan and Jang Eui.
Before Rin can go upstairs to wake San, he’s called home, and he can only look up toward the second story window with a worried look in his eyes.
Not long after, San falls off the bed and wakes to a thundering hangover. Finding only a taciturn maid in the inn, San asks about Rin and San, but the maid ignores her questions and makes sure that San knows she can’t leave by physically blocking her way.
Meanwhile, Won arrives at his mother’s quarters, where she proceeds to ignore his snappish mood and tell him about the lovely evening they definitely spent together last night, talking about her childhood and playing baduk.
At home, Wang Young fills Rin in on the current situation with the murdered witnesses. The implication of the situation dawns on Rin and he begins to panic, knowing his brother, Jeon, is behind this. Wang Young asks if Rin can think of anyone loyal to Won that might kill those witnesses.
Rin argues that it is all conspiracy, but as he denies it, he pauses mid-sentence, as if something’s occurred to him. His father reads Rin’s hesitation as doubt, and believes Rin has someone traitorous in mind. Rin doesn’t refute the assumption, but also realizes the entire setup is a trap for Won, and he’s about to walk right into it.
Wang Young tries to calm Rin, and says that Jeon will sort everything out, and if he can’t, then Princess Wonsung will protect Won. Rin shoots back that Won won’t avoid the danger if he knows “that child” is at risk.
Back at the inn, San waits outside for Rin and Won to return, but she’s off when she spots Moo-suk in the marketplace. He seems to sense her following him, but allows it.
At the palace, Song In is hard at work whispering into the king’s ear about Won’s visit to the metalsmith. Song In notes that Rin was also reportedly at that meeting, along with an unknown woman.
He adds that he also saw a mysterious woman on the hunting grounds the day of the king’s incident, and based on the physical descriptions he received, he believes that it’s the same woman.
Meanwhile, San draws her dagger as she follows Moo-suk into a gated home. She searches the grounds for him, but instead, she comes face-to-face with two freshly slain metalsmith apprentices. She flees, frightened, but is stopped shortly thereafter by royal guards.
The guards see the dagger in San’s hand and the dead bodies, then put two and two together. Panicking, she drops her dagger and tries to escape, but there’s an infantry of armed soldiers waiting for her, with Jeon doling out orders at the head.
Back at the palace, Song In informs the king of the growing situation involving the witnesses and the successful capture of the mysterious woman as the main culprit in the murders.
The king asks what household the woman is from, which appears to catch Song In off guard. The king points out that the woman is supposedly close with both Rin and Won and thus, must be of nobility. Song In looks nervous, like it hadn’t occurred to him before, then says that she is nothing but a nameless commoner.
The king can’t believe Song In overlooked such an important detail, then impulsively decides to investigate the matter himself. Song In tries to talk him out of it, deeming the task beneath the ruler, so the king promises to only watch the proceedings without making his presence known.
When this king’s back is turned, Song In smirks to himself, then casts a glance sideways to a nearby Minister Song, who nods at Song In.
San is taken to the investigation bureau for questioning. Fearful, she immediately offers to tell them anything they want to know, but the guards prepare their various (spiky, or molten-hot) contraptions silently. Jeon and the captain of the bureau enter, and San immediately recognizes him.
San tries to get him to vouch for her by mentioning her friendship with Dan, but Jeon just looks at her coldly. The captain suggests a couple of torture methods they can use on San, but Jeon isn’t satisfied, and pushes for even crueler tactics. But first, he needs to interrogate her.
The king arrives with Song In and observes from above and behind a screen. The king expresses his surprise that such a wild-looking woman would know his son and Rin, but Song In confirms that San is the woman he saw on the hunting grounds.
Minister Song visits Princess Wonsung and Won in her chambers and describes the ruckus involving San through the closed door. But Princess Wonsung interrupts him and chastises him for bothering her and Won’s game of baduk.
Won sides with Minister Song, and implores his mother to let the official in. She tells Won cryptically that every breath she takes is for him. However, Won doesn’t pick up on her inference (or perhaps chooses to ignore it), then calls out for Minister Song to continue with his report.
Minister Song recounts the capture of a woman, and how she killed off witnesses under Won’s order, but he is soon quieted by the guards. Unfortunately for Princess Wonsung, Won has heard enough to get him out of his seat.
When Won refuses to stay, even when his mother tells him that it’s a trap, she has no choice but to order her guards to stop Won from leaving, even if it means hurting him physically.
Won gives his mother a chance to withdraw her order, but she refuses, and so he calls out Jin Gwan and Jang Gui, who immediately pop out of the shadows.
The bodyguards make quick work of Princess Wonsung’s men, until only Furatai remains. Furatai proves to be a worthy opponent, but our boys have numbers on their side, and they outsmart Furatai by having Won jump over them.
Back in the courtyard, Jeon proceeds with his interrogation and shows San her dagger, which he claims was found on the hunting grounds, and thus proves that she’s the murderer.
San contends that the dagger was found in the gated house, and those guys were already dead when she got there. Jeon changes his tactic and asks why she was there in the first place if she’s so innocent.
San replies vaguely that she was following someone, and Jeon asks if the crown prince ordered her to kill the men, since only he and the guards knew those witnesses were there.
San is totally baffled by Jeon’s claim, since she still has no idea about Won’s true identity. She argues that it would be unimaginable for someone like her to know the prince, but Jeon isn’t deterred and promises that if she doesn’t tell the truth, then she’ll die.
San insists that she doesn’t know the crown prince, so Jeon slaps her hard across the face and threatens to snap every bone in her body until she tells the truth.
His threat gets her thinking, and she realizes that he’s trying to elicit a specific answer from her, since, as she points out, he wouldn’t go through such lengths for a person who is telling the truth. San proposes Jeon just tell her what he wants to hear so she can avoid a mangling.
Her audacity doesn’t work, and the guards are ordered to commence the torture. Won arrives (unknown to San) and admits to his father that San does not know that he is crown prince.
In disbelief that his son would know such a lowly woman, the king continues to question him, but all Won can think of is stopping the hot iron from touching San. He begs his unmoving father, until finally Won discloses that he was near San because he loves her and couldn’t be away from her.
Rin finds Princess Wonsung outside her quarters, and she tells Rin that Won is walking into Jeon’s trap. She then tells Rin that if he is truly Won’s friend, then he will fall into the trap in Won’s place.
At the investigation bureau, Jeon continues to push San for a confession. She examines his crazed face and tells him that everyone says the second Wang son is handsome, so she wanted to see if his personality matched his face.
However, now she knows what he’s truly like and compares his character to Teacher Lee’s drunken vomit. Jeon’s nostrils flare at the insult, and the captain orders a guard to burn her with the iron.
Rin enters the scene and shouts that he ordered the men killed, moved the bodies to the house, then ordered San to be there.
Suddenly, Rin declares that San is his woman(!), and it’s only natural that he’d intervene to protect her. He walks over to San, whose eyes fill with tears as he dabs the blood from her lips. Won watches wide-eyed from above, hearing all, while his own confession remains unheard.
The king calls the entire spectacle an embarrassing farce, and Won points out that Rin is clearly sacrificing himself to save him. But the king has seen enough, and orders both Rin and San imprisoned.
He looks directly at Won as he shouts that he’ll deliver his decree on the fate of their lives soon. He then tells Won that he’s come to hate the sound of Won’s voice, so he should be silent.
Won protests his father’s order by kneeling in front of his chambers all day and all night. Inside, Boo-yong massages the king and asks him if he’s worried about the crown prince.
The king laughs in response, but his expression grows hard. He’s frustrated and grumbles that he instructed Won to investigate his case, only to find out he was fooling around with a girl.
Boo-yong asks if the crown prince has truly committed a punishable crime, and the king sighs that even if Won had, there is nothing he can do because Won is protected by his Yuan bloodline and his powerful grandfather.
Thus, the king knows he can’t punish Won without good reason. He provides an insightful example, and says that if Won were to suddenly fall ill, then the Yuan emperor would send a special agent right away to care for Won and reprimand the king for letting it happen.
King Chungryeol adds that Won was born with so much more than him, and is not only fortunate in blood, but also has a loyal friend who will die for him, and now a woman he cares for. Whereas, the king has neither of those, nor does he have more political power. Boohoo?
The thought seems to give the king an idea, and so he runs down the steps to where a weak Won sits in protest, then tells Won that he must choose who will live: San, or Rin?
EPISODE 10 RECAP
At the investigation bureau, Won spots the guard he saw dragging San roughly off to her cell. Initially, he draws a sword against him, but he changes his mind and violently beats the guard instead. (Wait… what?)
He then screeches out a warning to the guard, vowing that if he ever lays a hand on one of his people again, then he will die.
Won finds Rin in his cell, and Rin asks why Won came, but Won corrects him and says that Rin should be asking Won why he is coming only now.
They sit together in the cell, and Rin asks Won if he saw San’s bleeding lip. Won replies that he did, adding that he knows Jeon is responsible for it, adding that watching San’s abuse made him sick.
Won advises Rin to keep Jeon out of his sight because he isn’t sure what he’ll do to him, and Rin just tells Won to go ahead and do as he pleases. Ha.
Won then tells Rin the deal his father made with him about only letting one of them go. Won confesses that he’ll probably release San and leave Rin, since he hates the idea of San being mistreated.
Rin says that Won had told him before that he was his only friend, and the only one he could trust. When he asks if Won is giving up his only friend for a woman, Won’s voice cracks, but he still confirms it. The air is awkward afterward, but then Rin laughs suddenly, and Won can’t help but join in.
Late into the night, the guards let San out of her cell, and are noticeably more careful (and extremely respectful) in their treatment of her. On her way out, all she worries about is Rin, who she hasn’t seen since they parted.
She wanders out alone, when snow begins to fall around her. Nearby, she spots Won waiting for her. She sprints over to him and tearfully demands to know where he’s been and if he knows that his friend has been taken away.
She’s guilt-ridden for getting Rin involved in her business, but Won can’t take his eyes off the cut on her lip. Full of consternation, he cups her chin and touches the cut, then pulls her into his arms.
San tries to wrestle herself away, but Won asks her to pretend that she slipped on some ice and fell into his arms. “So lean on me for a bit,” he says, and while he closes his eyes, San widens hers.
The next morning, Won and San wake in Won’s favorite inn. They start bickering over a letter San is writing, because Won wants to read it. San sasses that a mere guard wouldn’t be able to read, but Won grabs her hand to steady the paper and peers over her shoulder.
San experiences a moment of awareness when Won’s hand firmly grasps hers, and she momentarily forgets he’s reading her secret letter. She orders him to back off, feeling a bit shell-shocked and unsure how to process her reaction, and he complies.
Won has gathered that the letter is addressed to Minister Eun, and points out how strange it is for a servant to be writing letters to their master. San explains that she merely needs to tell Minister Eun that she is safe since he’s probably worried, and also, she’s hoping he can help Rin get released.
Funnily enough, San hasn’t yet committed Won’s fake name to memory, and she continues to use both his and Rin’s name interchangeably. Therefore, Won complains clarifies that he’s Han-chun, staring at her straight in the eyes. The direct eye contact is a little too much for San, and her gaze starts wandering away as she tries to change the topic.
The kids from the orphanage show up to sell Won some information on the two cart pullers. They want their money first, and so San also gives them the task of delivering letter to Minister Eun on Won’s tab.
With the tip from the kids, Won and the boys wrangle the cart pullers, who dressed in drag in an attempt to escape. Thinking of Rin in jail, San becomes impatient as asks the cart pullers who ordered them to steal the crown prince’s arrows.
When they refuse to answer, San asks Jang Eui and Jin Gwan to break their bones. The threat gets the cart pullers to name their customer: a salt merchant in the marketplace.
Later, San and Won sit down at a restaurant across from the salt merchant’s stall, but all San can think about is their hug from the night before. Won stares at her all expectantly, a wide smile on his face.
San whines about watching the salt merchant do nothing, and so Won explains they have to see who is really pulling the strings, since there is no way the salt merchant planned everything himself.
San suggests they grab the man and beat a confession out of him. (Really, girl? You don’t see the irony here?) Won finds her new, violent tendencies odd and wonders aloud if jail changed her. She shoots back a question of her own, asking Won if he’s even worried about his friend in prison.
Won laughs at her concerns, and San erupts, telling Won of all the horrors that occur in prison and asserting that the only reason he can be so indifferent is because he has no idea how bad it can be in there.
Won assures her that Rin has powerful connections and that he’ll be absolutely fine. Their conversation is interrupted when someone approaches the salt merchant at last, but San just groans when it appears to be a mere customer.
We cut to Rin in jail, and see guards bringing in a giant bucket of water for Rin to wash his face, along with other amenities. Rin is confused, so the guard explains that they are acting under Won’s orders.
Not long after, the guards return with containers filled with rice cakes and food for Rin to eat. He’s told they are from his father, but Rin recognizes Dan’s handiwork right away.
At Minister Eun’s, Moo-suk intercepts San’s letter to her father and takes it to Song In for examination. Song In infers from the letter that San and Minister Eun have a much deeper relationship than is visible from the outside.
He claims that the language San uses (although formal) is similar to how a mistress might speak to her master, or a daughter to her father. He also notes San’s graceful penmanship, which would be rare for anyone below noble status.
Moo-suk adds that he noticed that not a single servant currently working for Minister Eun has served the household for longer than seven years. So Song In orders Moo-suk to find anyone who was close with the daughter in the past, while he’ll meet with the daughter personally.
We return to San, who explains that she feels ill at ease about Rin’s situation because she hates the idea of someone getting hurt or dying because of her, since it isn’t a new feeling.
Won then directs her attention to the salt merchant, and adds that he’s set a trap, which will soon lead them to the mastermind. San is confused, so Won reveals that the customer who came earlier was actually Jang Eui dressed as a nobleman.
He had discreetly given a letter to the salt merchant for the man’s master, claiming the message was urgent. So now, all Won needs to do is wait for the salt merchant to deliver the letter. His plan goes off without a hitch, and soon, they find themselves in front of Song In’s teahouse.
Meanwhile, Song In observes Bi-yeon praying at the temple. He approaches her by mentioning San’s cover name, So-hwa, and hands her the letter he stole. He lies that he was instructed to deliver Bi-yeon’s response back to San.
Bi-yeon grow nervous, then asks Song In what the letter is about. He lies that he hasn’t read it since it would be rude, then insists that San is anxiously awaiting Bi-yeon’s response to her letter.
However, Bi-yeon’s masquerade falls apart because she can’t read, and so she slowly turns the letter this way and that, unable to make sense of it. This doesn’t escape Song In’s notice.
Won and San sneak into the teahouse, unaware that Moo-suk is walking around nearby as well. He isn’t alone, and has completed his mission of finding a former servant who worked in Minister Eun’s house more than seven years ago.
The former nursemaid is certain she can recognize San even this many years later, and her opportunity comes much sooner than anyone could have predicted when she sees San and Won a few feet away, unaware of her presence. She follows them upstairs, but is grabbed by Song In.
San asks Won if they can trust the crown prince to save Rin after they find the mastermind. Won confirms it, and replies that the crown prince may be lazy and awful, but he’s a man of his word.
They boldly walk through the empty teahouse, and San shows Won all the places she and a masked Rin hid that night when she followed her father. She’s nostalgic and acts like she’s reliving fond memories, even as Won expresses his concerns over their lack of discretion.
She shows him the room where she saw Jeon, unable to resist adding some commentary about how evil Jeon is. She lumps the other two sons with Jeon, and figures that the siblings can’t be so different. Won disagrees, but doesn’t push his views.
He then becomes pensive as San cheerfully describes the masked man she thought was her enemy, but who turned out to be her ally. She’s grateful, and wonders who he could be.
She crawls back into the hiding place she shared with Rin, which prompts Won to asks vaguely how she can do “it.”
She doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so he continues and asks, “How can you look elsewhere in front of me? How can you think of another guy while you’re with me? I can’t do it.”
I’m taken aback that the love lines advanced so much in these episodes. I wasn’t ready to move out of the friendship phase, because I really liked the rapport between each pairing, and as a trio. I don’t necessarily feel crackling chemistry between Won and San, so even though that hug scene was supposed to be this pivotal romantic moment, it didn’t exactly work for me.
I tried very hard to stay in sync with Won’s emotional journey today, but that flash to the dark side really threw me off. If we are preparing for Won to go evil at some point, then I am totally onboard with that. But the transformation needs to be done in a way that doesn’t contradict the most fundamental things we know about the character we’ve come to care for.
At this point, the Won we’ve seen is a sweet, intelligent, and thoughtful person, so if you’re going to tell me there’s this latent darkness inside this teddy bear, then at least give me a compelling reason why it emerged now. The reaction needs to be equal to the action, and thus far, I’m not really seeing what’s so enraging about one cut on San’s lip. I get that it’s the intention behind the injury that matters, and Won is taking out his frustrations and feelings of helplessness on an easy target, but his wanton violent explosion was so disproportionate to the damage. It’s one thing if Won baited some thugs into a fight, but another to attack a man who can’t fight back and only did what he was told to do.
I think the show maybe meant for that scene to be some brave, moving display of Won’s commitment to his friends, and an illustration of what moves Won and what can change him into a cruel or courageous person. Those are all great things, but I just wish the storytelling was clearer. Everything is a little muddled right now, and I feel like I’m doing a lot of guesswork trying to fill in the holes of these emotional building blocks, which isn’t ideal. These things should be shown clearly to the viewer so that we can understand the developments without having to jump through quite as many hoops.
Another character I didn’t understand was San: I’m troubled that she showed such a basic lack of empathy today. Even though it was mostly played for comedy, she acted without an ounce of self-awareness by continually pushing for violent solutions to her problems during their investigation of the cart pullers, then later with the salt merchant.
She explained that she was feeling anxious over having Rin be in danger because of her, which is fueled by the guilt she feels over her mother, but does that mean beating other people up to get what she is wants is supposed to be acceptable? How is she different from Jeon, who did the same thing to her? Maybe we’ll get some revelation from San about the cycle of cruelty later, because I like San as a character, so these moments of thoughtlessness just stick out to me. Hopefully it was just a lapse in judgment.
- 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