The King Loves: Episodes 29-30
The devastating effects of a recent death spur Rin into reckless action, and he finds himself directly at odds with Won, who desperately tries to keep all the fraying pieces of his once peaceful life together. However, once again Won is forced to make an impossible choice, and this time, the decision he makes may bring more harm than good, and drive those he loves further away.
EPISODE 29 RECAP
We open the episode with Won rushing into the room and finding Minister Eun unconscious on the floor. Won feels Minister Eun’s pulse, but is too already late.
Eunuch Choi escorts San to Princess Wonsung’s residence, as several royal physicians speed by. The activity distracts San long enough to miss Boo-yong deposit a small medicine packet into Eunuch Choi’s hand from behind before scurrying away.
In her chambers, Princess Wonsung tells San her earliest memories of the king: For years, King Chungryeol (then the crown prince) would ask her father for her hand in marriage, but each time, Kublai Khan refused, citing his daughter’s young age.
During King Chungryeol’s visits, Princess Wonsung would hide, finding his appearance fearsome, but one day, someone handed her a peony. San asks if that person was the king, but Princess Wonsung doesn’t say.
Nearby, we see Eunuch Choi opening Princess Wonsung’s teapot, and he places the small medicine packet nearby on the tea cart.
Princess Wonsung continues and tells San how difficult it was for her to adjust to Goryeo at first, and how strange and scary the king seemed to her.
San looks over to the tea cart and sees the mysterious medicine packet. She eyes it curiously before Princess Wonsung asks if she knows why she is telling San these old stories. Princess Wonsung explains that the only person she had to rely on in this foreign country was her son. And thus, she lives solely for Won’s sake.
She adds that those loyal to the king are constantly plotting to remove Won from his position, and even kill him if given the chance. Therefore, in order to avoid that outcome, Won will need Minister Eun’s assets to secure his position.
Princess Wonsung asks San if she will give Won the power he needs, but before she can answer, Jang Eui storms in the room to report Minister Eun’s incident.
San goes immediately to her father, completely bypassing Won before frantically calling out to her lifeless father. She searches his robes for his medicine, convinced it can still wake him, then notices how cold his hands are.
The royal physicians tells San that her father had a sudden heart attack, but San remains obsessed with finding his medicine, even noting the special characters it had written on it, and her eyes suddenly widen in realization. Ack!
She hurries out, and Won follows her. He tries to get her to face reality, but she’s lost in her delusion.
San barges into Princess Wonsung’s chambers and beelines for the tea cart, causing a ruckus as she searches. She finds her father’s pill, and Won grabs hold of her as she runs toward the door, babbling about delivering the medicine as he begs her to get a grip.
It dawns on her suddenly where she is, and she looks up at Princess Wonsung, who watches her with a genuinely concerned look on her face. San asks what her father’s medicine is doing here, and Won echoes her question to his mother with a sharp tone.
We cut to Rin and Moo-suk as they arrive at a house, where predictably, Song In is waiting for Rin. He’s cordial to Rin, who’s curt in return, even as Song In reiterates that he isn’t his enemy. Pfft, sure, we’ll all just start believing you now.
Rin asks Song In if this was all a trap, but Song In ignores Rin’s distrust and poses his own question, by asking Rin if he knows how truly dangerous Princess Wonsung is.
Rin begins walking away, having wasted enough of his time, when Song In tells him that his cousin, and Won’s older half-brother, Prince Gangyang, lives in this house.
Song In explains to Rin that the first thing Princess Wonsung did after she arrived in Goryeo was to demote the former queen to a royal concubine. Then, after Won was born, she grew even more spiteful of the king’s first wife, lashing out at her for the slightest offenses.
Song In shows Rin the room where the former crown prince lives and explains that they are protecting him from his enemies, who may still wish to see him dead.
Rin goes inside to meet his cousin, but is alarmed by the man’s state. He staggers backwards, crushed to see the prince shoving handfuls of paper into his mouth like a madman. Song In helpfully explains that Gangyang is not well, and sources the prince’s mental instability to some honey cookies that Princess Wonsung had sent to him one day.
Moreover, the physician who discovered the poison in the cookies was found dead the next day. Song In isn’t done with Rin just yet, and tells Rin that Minister Eun has gone to Princess Wonsung to ask her to approve Rin and San’s marriage.
Rin runs out of the estate in a panic and back toward the palace, right before Moo-suk informs Song In that Minister Eun has passed away.
Meanwhile, Minister Song spins his web of lies around the ailing king, and identifies Princess Wonsung as the one responsible for Minister Eun’s death. The king asks of Won’s involvement in the matter, and Minister Song is happy to incriminate him with speculation.
Given the king’s fear of Won, he’s easy to convince and remarks to himself, “I have brought a poisonous viper into our country, and that viper has reared a poisonous serpent of a son. This all happened because of me.”
Things get heated at Princess Wonsung’s, as San shouts at her to explain why she has her father’s medicine. Princess Wonsung’s guards are on high alert after San’s slanderous words, and when she tries to leave, she’s stopped on all sides.
Not in the mood for delays, San fights her way past the first line, forcing Furatai to step in. Won takes San’s place in front of Furatai’s sword, and Princess Wonsung barks at her guard to stand down.
Won turns to his mother and begs her to leave San alone, since she has just lost her father. San still refuses to accept that her father is truly gone, and swears that he’ll be fine if he just takes the medicine.
Therefore, Won tells San again that it’s too late, but she doesn’t want to hear it and makes her way toward the exit again. Won continually blocks her path, before pulling her into his arms.
She struggles to free herself, but soon she weakens and sobs into his embrace.
Rin sprints through the streets as Song In’s warning of Princess Wonsung’s ruthlessness rings through his mind. He’s stopped at the gate by soldiers, who know Rin’s been banned from entering. Instead, he asks about Minister Eun and San, who the guards confirm they saw enter, but not yet leave.
Rin apologizes to the guards before knocking them all out and racing inside. He encounters Jin Gwan, and is taken straight to Won (I swear Jin Gwan and Jang Eui invented GPS). Won is surprised to see Rin, wondering if he knows what it means for him to be standing inside the palace.
But Rin isn’t thinking of himself and begins questioning Won about Minister Eun. He’s horrified to hear that Minister Eun has died, and inside Princess Wonsung’s residence no less. Rin asks about San, and Won replies that he’s looking after her.
Rin tries to leave, looking completely dissatisfied with what he’s just heard, but Jang Eui and Jin Gwan stop him. Won orders them to escort Rin out unnoticed, but Rin pushes them out of the way.
Won stands and tells Rin that he’s trying to save him, and yet he defies his order. He then basically guilts Rin by saying that if his closest person defies his order, then how can he have the authority to command others?
Rin turns back toward Won and questions him on how Minister Eun died, and if there was someone else or something else in that room that was put there on Princess Wonsung’s orders, like poisoned tea, or honey cookies… (Crap.)
Furious, Won grabs Rin by the collar and demands to know what exactly he’s accusing his mother of. Rin throws Won off, then declares that he will be escorting both Minister Eun and San out.
Won snaps back that he said he was taking care of it, but then Rin shouts, “I cannot trust you!” Noooo!
Won is flabbergasted and can’t even process Rin’s words as he asks who and what can’t Rin trust, after punching Rin across the face. Rin roars that he will not leave Minister Eun and San within the palace and will be taking them out.
Rin leaves to find San crouched over her father’s body with tears streaming down her face. Her face crumples when she sees him as she mourns over her father’s state. She continues to express her disbelief, and so Rin tells her that he will take her father home with her.
Won enters the room and glares as Rin holds out his hand for San, which she accepts. They stand together, holding hands, and San tells Won that she wants to go home, but for a while all Won can see are their clasped hands.
He snaps out of it and orders his bodyguards to prepare a carriage for San and her father, then issues an order stating that he called Rin back to the palace in order to escort Minister Eun home. He then takes his leave, but his eyes are cold.
At Princess Wonsung’s, Court Lady Jo promises that she knows nothing of the medicine on the tray, so she moves onto the rat in her ranks, Eunuch Choi, and immediately demands to know what he wants.
He pretends to know nothing, sobbing on about his innocence, so Princess Wonsung begins screaming at him to spit it out, but suddenly stumbles forward in pain.
She asks Furatai about Minister Eun, specifically if the man was murdered, but is informed that San had refused an autopsy. Furatai is worried about the palace gossip that will begin circulating about the incident and Princess Wonsung’s alleged involvement, but she only becomes more determined to acquire Minister Eun’s assets since she now knows how much her enemies want it.
As she makes her avowal she stares right at Eunuch Choi, who trembles under her gaze.
Elsewhere, Minister Song and Song In discuss their new plan to drive a wedge between Won and Princess Wonsung. They know it won’t be easy, but it’s critical to their plan, since now that Won has the authority of the king, people will begin to notice his competence.
Song In comments that Won’s intelligence will invite high expectations of him, and with that comes bigger disappointments. Until finally, Song In says, his best friend and the woman he loves will abandon him. Only then will they see Won at his worst, and it will either destroy him or make him go berserk.
At the same time, Minister Song makes a comment about the king, who has become completely pacified under Boo-yong’s poisonous influence.
We cut to an unnamed court lady sneaking through the night. She grabs the golden incense diffuser Boo-yong used to murder Minister Eun with and tries to escape with it in tow, but is stopped by Won and his bodyguards.
Won snatches the item from her, and says aloud how his mother is very sensitive to aromas, and thus something like this would never be here. The court lady drops to her knees, proclaiming her innocence, but Won isn’t fooled, and dispatches his bodyguards to investigate the diffuser.
Won returns to his chambers alone, but Rin’s fiery denouncement of him hangs in the forefront of his mind. He looks hurt, and his thoughts drift to San and Rin holding hands, as San begged to go home.
A royal physician reports to Won that after examining the contents of the diffuser, the plant inside would be fatal to someone with a heart condition, and could trigger a heart attack.
Jang Eui arrives and adds that the court lady they encountered confessed to be working under Princess Wonsung’s instructions to remove the diffuser from the guest room, and Won gasps in disbelief.
Back at home, San prepares for her father’s funeral service, but when it’s time to write a banner for it, she can’t bring herself to. Rin appears besides her, and steadies her shaking hand. He brushes away the tears collecting around her eyes, and looks down at her lovingly as she writes.
The service begins, and the entire household is in tears over Minister Eun’s death. Rin holds San’s hands as she stands before the altar, and tells her softly to take her time in bidding her father farewell.
He puts his arm around her shoulder, and she leans into his chest, crying.
EPISODE 30 RECAP
Princess Wonsung is done playing Eunuch Choi’s games, and reveals the eunuch’s tied-up mother and son. Eunuch Choi begs her to spare them, offering to tell her everything he knows. However, Princess Wonsung has grown tired of words and orders his son castrated and mother blinded.
Without any other recourse, Eunuch Choi blurts out that “they” are after Rin. Princess Wonsung narrows her eyes at the eunuch’s word choice, and presses him to explain who “they” are. She’s stunned when he replies that he’s referring to the followers of Prince Gangyang.
Eunuch Choi elaborates that the followers of Prince Gangyang have been waiting for the right moment to recruit Rin, and that they left him beside Won because that was the safest place for Rin until he grew up.
Around the corner, we see that Jin Gwan has been eavesdropping on their conversations, Furatai notices and chases after him when he flees.
In his room, Won drinks a jar of the special wine he, Rin, and San had hiked up the mountain to retrieve for Teacher Lee from the royal winery. He reminiscences and thinks longingly of a time when they were all together. He had hoped to stop thinking of his friends if he got himself drunk enough, but he finds that the alcohol only intensified thoughts of them.
Jin Gwan and Jang Eui enter to give their reports about Eunuch Choi and San/Rin, but Won’s mind whirls as he wearily begs for a minute to gather himself before dealing with his rapidly unraveling situation.
At Minister Eun’s house, Rin sees Bi-yeon on his way out. He promises to return before dawn after she asks where he is going, then he asks her to prepare San a small bag so that she may leave at a moment’s notice.
Rin goes straight home to ask his father about his almost arranged marriage to San. His father is shocked to hear about Minister Eun’s sudden death, but confirms their conversation about the marriage. He adds that Minister Eun had been watching Rin, and it was his wish that Rin would take care of San in his absence.
Rin quickly takes stock of their situation and announces that he will be leaving with San. But it would also mean abandoning his post as inspector general, thereby making him a fugitive. He’s concerned for his family and any repercussions they may incur from his actions, but still, he has decided to go.
In her quarters, Princess Wonsung’s condition continues to worsen, and she begins violently coughing up blood. She calls for the document they took from San which detail Minister Eun’s assets, and focuses on his warehouse of grain.
She gets another coughing fit, and Court Lady Jo urges Princess Wonsung to rest, but she answers, “My son is standing by a cliff, and I have little time.”
Jin Gwan briefs Won on what he overheard from Eunuch Choi about the followers of Prince Gangyang wanting Rin, and Won calls it nonsense, because Rin is his friend.
He then confirms that all the palace guards were notified that if Rin were to appear, he is to be brought directly to Won. Given the late time, Eunuch Kim wonders if Rin will show, but Won is certain that he will, because he knows that Rin has much to say to him.
Unfortunately, Won is kept waiting, because instead, Rin seeks out Song In again at Prince Gangyang’s house.
Rin finds the royal adviser waiting for him, and interrogates Song In on his reasons for showing Prince Gangyang to him. Song In replies that he hoped Rin would see the truth and feel motivated to act on his pure-blooded claim to the throne.
Rin scoffs at Song In’s pure-blooded reasonings as he realizes that Song In is orchestrating some sort of revolt, and mocks Song In’s plans.
Rin unsheathes his sword and warns Song In to draw his sword before charging. Song In expertly dodges Rin’s attacks, having no intention to fight, so Rin lunges forward again, but this time, Song In steps through a sliding door into another room, where Rin’s many loyal followers bow to greet him.
He’s startled by the amount of people swearing fealty to him and hoping for a Goryeo free from Yuan’s influence, but soon, his surprise turns into disgust.
He vows to rid all those disloyal to Won one by one from Goryeo, and lifts his sword at Song In to strike, until Boo-yong opens the last door to reveal the king behind it. Rin falls to his knees and bows, realizing that he’s been ensnared.
Meanwhile, Furatai and his men raid Minister Eun’s grain warehouse: They take some bags and leave some behind, but they make sure to stamp each and every bag with a red seal.
The generals arrive at Won’s early in the morning and find Won hungover from the night before. One of the generals tell Won that they received an anonymous note, informing them that the missing grain was found in Minister Eun’s warehouse, and can be identified from the red seal.
They add that another stash of their grain was found being delivered to Wang Young’s residence, and apparently, they learned that Wang Young has received multiple shipments of grain previously from Minister Eun.
They know that Won is close with Rin, but they urge Won to judge the matter impartially.
We switch over to San, who remains sitting in a daze in front of her father’s altar. Surprisingly, Rin appears beside her and tells her that they are ready to begin Minister Eun’s funeral procession through the city. He reminds her that Minister Eun’s sole desire was to ensure San’s safety, and he looks at her meaningfully.
In his chambers, Won washes his face and asks for news about Rin. But there isn’t any, so Won says hopefully that they’ll wait a little longer.
Princess Wonsung orders Furatai to capture Rin and San after the funeral procession without Won knowing and to kill them if necessary, while the king concurrently orders Rin brought to him unharmed.
Finally having given up on Rin coming to him, Won decides to take action and writes San a letter, explaining himself to her (and us). He apologizes for not being with her in her grief, and says that there was a time when he was forced to choose between her and Rin. Back then, he chose her without hesitation.
We flash back in time to Won and Rin’s conversation in the cell from Episodes 9-10, where Rin had scoffed and laughed when Won told him he was picking San over him. But this time, he writes that he will choose Rin over her. Oh, Won.
He asks if she will be able to smile and accept his decision like Rin had back then.
We cut to a group of court ladies arriving at Wang Young’s estate to officially bring Dan to the palace and accept her title of crown princess. Afterward, Eunuch Kim reads out the new titles for Dan’s family members to the royal court (which includes Won’s astonished and upset generals) as the official in-laws, and announce their wedding in two days.
Their new titles will protect them from crimes beneath high treason, and void the grain issue.
Won narrates the rest of his letter to San and asks if she remembers the ring she gave to him and her promise to grant him anything he asks. (Don’t do it Won! You’re better than this!) He adds, “Do you remember what I said to you? Always, until forevermore, you will be my priority. Don’t ever forget that.”
Won hands Jang Eui the letter to deliver to San (placing the ring inside the envelope), and tells him to bring her back, since she will want to meet with him after she reads it.
San and Rin walk in Minister Eun’s funeral procession through the city as Furatai and his men try to arrest them. But they have to wait until the procession leaves the city or risk public unrest. Simultaneously, Moo-suk and his men try to get the pair under the king’s orders.
Finally, Jang Eui speeds through the streets en route to deliver Won’s letter to San.
Won reads in voiceover the last part of his letter to San, which says: “I have no right and lack the confidence, so I rely on the power of this necklace… San. My So-hwa. Come back and stay with me.”
I really thought that last week we were getting set up for a flash forward, wherein Rin would wander around Goryeo for a few years, Won would get a knack for ruling, and San would be working as a cross-dressing page in the palace, running errands for Won, and surprising Jin Gwan and Jang Eui with her innate skills as a bodyguard.
To me, it would give Rin time to return to us as a slightly changed man, who has seen firsthand (and repeatedly) the horrors of the tribute system, because I had doubted that the Rin we know now would convincingly betray Won. I think the way things transpired today was serviceable, but the show is going to have to work hard to convince me that Rin is suddenly working with Song In just because the king says so, especially now that doing so could bring harm to his family (given that Dan is becoming the crown princess). I’m still kind of waiting for the moment where Won and Rin break faith with each other in an irreversible way, but at each turn, the boys continue to have each other’s back, and I feel like they can work their way through this latest obstacle.
I really do love the story’s emphasis on Won and Rin’s friendship, especially in these episodes, because it underlines how devoted Won is to Rin, and that is quite rare. The idea that friendship holds a profoundly equal weight as love and romance do to Won is quite lovely, and I’m enjoying the unique way the show is handling these emotions, because sometimes these themes can come off a bit corny. For Won, because San and Rin are so equally important to him, his decisions seem to be based on which one needs him most, and this time, it was Rin. On the other hand, for Rin, his feelings for San and loyalty to Won are two separate things that he can’t reconcile, and are at times diametrically opposed to one another. Therefore, he wages a lonely war trying to protect both, and loses himself in the end. I feel like Rin is choosing San over Won, and up until last week I would have thrown confetti, but now I feel sad at the thought.
Won has made some mistakes though, and has disappointed me by using San’s ring in a selfish and predictable way, but if this is a necessary (albeit vapid) step to telling the rest of this story, then I can go along with it. I feel like there’s more to Won’s proposal to San that we haven’t seen just yet, but I’m expecting the love triangle to intensify soon, and this may be an easy way to give Won a path to San, since at this point he doesn’t have one. That said, I am confused by Won’s wording in his letter, because he said he was picking Rin, and yet asked San to come back to him? Perhaps it’s important that he calls her “So-hwa,” which may mean he’ll take her father’s riches and protect her as So-hwa, but she’ll have to release her identity as San.
On another note, I do have one outstanding question for history, which is: Why didn’t King Chungryeol arrange a marriage between Princess Wonsung and his son Gangyang? Seems like that could have saved him a lot of grief, because based on the flashbacks, they look about the same age. I’m not an expert on Goryeo history, and presumably there is a good reason, but if I’m basing everything just on this show, then I haven’t seen a compelling reason why not. The pure-blooded issue would still stand, but at least his family situation wouldn’t be so messed up.
Today was mostly the characters fulfilling the destinies determined for them in the premise, and though I think several characters greatly benefited from the time spent building up this world and its inherent conflict (characters like Princess Wonsung, and the main trio), the moment where Rin is forced to oppose Won has really been a long time coming, and I’m very interested to see where things go from here.
- 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