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The King Loves: Episodes 37-38

I almost can’t believe we’re so close to the end, but these two episodes certainly did give me some closure. After several weeks of high-stakes misunderstandings and battles to end all battles, it’s finally time for some much needed heart-to-hearts and frank conversations about love—and more importantly, friendship. Sometimes it isn’t easy to give love in a way that someone needs it, and maybe even harder to receive it. But in the end, there still is so much love here between our main trio, and so, I’m optimistic.

 
EPISODE 37 RECAP

San watches helplessly as Won declares war against Rin and orders him to draw his sword and try to take the crown. The fight is swiftly decided after Rin drops his sword and allows Won to strike him across the chest, causing him to fall to the ground as San tearfully races to his side.

She holds Rin in her arms as he fades and closes his eyes. Meanwhile, Won drops his sword, horrified by what he’s done.

Later, after things have settled, Won visits his still-unconscious father in his royal quarters, with Wang Young attending at his bedside. The royal physician confirms that the king’s condition is stable thanks to San, who brought the antidote in time.

Won reaches down to grab the antidote bottle from the table, but Wang Young snatches it away before he can. Wang Young dismisses the physician and tells Won privately that the poison has been accumulating in the king’s body over a long period of time, surmising that the king has been out of sorts for a while.

He concludes that the person who caused Princess Wonsung’s death that day in the king’s chambers likely was not the king. Won isn’t surprised by his deduction, but he does want to know why Wang Young is keeping the antidote bottle from him.

Finally, he just asks Wang Young if he’s afraid that he will smash the bottle in fury to strengthen his chances of becoming king.

Wang Young tells Won suddenly that the king cares for Princess Wonsung very much, and that sometimes love is difficult to see and runs so deeply that it can manifest as hatred, thereby losing its form. He advises Won to take pity on such love instead of turning to anger.

Won starts to figure it out, and asks if that was the reason Rin hid the king—and why Wang Young is now protecting the king when his son’s life hangs in the balance—because they feared Won’s reckless rage and vengefulness.

Wang Young doesn’t confirm or deny it, but that’s an answer in and of itself.

Won sits beside the king and takes his father’s frail hand. He tells his sleeping father that this is probably the first time he’s ever held his hand before adding darkly that there are so many people around the king, and though he keeps killing them, more still remain, and now he’s tired.

Won asks his father how he can still have so many people around him when he never trusted anyone and would even pit rivals against each other then reward them with treats, whereas he (Won) killed only a few of those around himself and is now alone.

He stares at his father for a long moment sadly, then gets up to leave. He tells Wang Young that he won’t visit his father for a while so he needn’t worry about standing vigil, and should visit his son and daughter instead.

At Geumgajeong, a royal physician tells San that Won’s blade missed Rin’s vitals but severed a large vein, and so all they can do now is wait. San enters Rin’s room and sits beside him, looking over his unconscious form as tears well in her eyes.

She complains aloud about Rin being much weaker than he looks, since the wound wasn’t even that deep, and she asks how he can protect their country with such frailty. She allows him one night to sleep well and recover, but she adds that he must wake up when morning comes.

She brushes his bangs out of his face, then stills and asks quietly, “But… why did you do it?”

It’s the same question Won is contemplating in his room over at the palace. He realizes that Rin would rather hurt himself than to ever hurt him, but he doesn’t know why. (Yes you do!)

Meanwhile, San has some insight into Rin’s thought processes, and presumes that Rin knew that Won would never strike him with the intention to kill, but instead would weaken the blow at the last moment because of their long and enduring friendship.

Tears fall from San’s eyes as she berates Rin for scaring her with his performance, and she nearly whacks him in anger, but then sees his bloodied bandage and stops herself. Instead, she begs him to wake up.

She picks up his stained robes before she goes, and finds a folded envelope as it falls to the floor.

Elsewhere, Moo-suk forces an upset Bi-yeon to meet with Song In. She recognizes him immediately, then looks at Moo-suk with betrayal when it’s finally revealed who he works for, but Moo-suk remains expressionless. Song In promises her that he isn’t a bad person, and that San is in danger and needs her help.

He tells Bi-yeon simply that Won attacked Rin with a sword out of jealousy over San’s love for Rin. Moreover, driven by madness, Won also killed the king’s concubine and poisoned the king. He recounts these events to Bi-yeon with a deranged look in his eyes as she sniffles in anguish.

Won goes to Geumgajeong late in the night to visit Rin, but ends up running into San sitting outside. He watches her for a beat, but when she turns to see him, he looks away, visibly upset.

He asks what she’s doing sitting outside at such a late hour, and she replies that she was waiting for him to come, since he is probably very worried about Rin. He tries to deny it, but she insists that he is, and this time, he doesn’t argue.

Won asks after Rin’s condition, and is relieved to hear that he’ll be fine.

She begins to describe how she’ll miss the charming, little road in front of the inn when she grows old, and together they stare at the empty path as their memories together flood them.

Won looks ashamed for a moment, and San describes how she began pushing people away after her mother died. She puts her arm out its entire length and says that no matter how kind and welcoming Teacher Lee and his students were, they could not penetrate that distance.

But, somehow she kept forgetting about that distance whenever she was with Rin and Won. She thinks about the first night she spent at the inn, where she nearly slept outside in the cold, much to the boys’ shared bewilderment.

Won says with some finality in his voice that he slew Rin, but San offers kindly that the wound wasn’t deep because Won wouldn’t be able to finish Rin off for good.

Won seems determined to become the villain and tells San that eight years ago, he knew the bandits were going to raid San’s caravan, but he said nothing. She asks why, and he says that he thought the bandits looked like a joke, but now he realizes that it sounds like an excuse in hindsight.

San seems resigned to the events from eight years ago that led to her mother’s death, and says that the moment Won went wrong was not then, but the day he greeted her at Teacher Lee’s school, and the time he waited for her at Geumgajeong for the first time. Then finally, when they ultimately became friends.

She tells Won that little by little he opened her heart, which had been closed all those years.

They grow emotional, and so San calls him to sit next to her, but he refuses, feeling sorry for himself. She then pulls out the folded paper she found in Rin’s clothing and threatens to not give him the note if he doesn’t obey.

It’s a letter to Won, written by Rin, but Won grumbles that important words should be said in person instead. San agrees with Won that Rin was in the wrong for saving all his words till after he was dead and prepares to rip it up, which, of course, gets Won jumping to save it. He complains about her teasing, but then finally smiles.

At a temple, Song In continues unraveling as he talks to his phantom Boo-yong, quoting something she had said before about him simply becoming king himself, instead of making one. He says that he called her naive then because a kingmaker only needs to win over the king, whereas a king needs to win over everyone.

Minister Song watches Song In from nearby with displeasure. He heads inside a building and speaks to a detained Teacher Lee, and Song supposes that there will be upheaval in the country soon.

Minister Song seems willing to pledge his loyalty to Won, since Won has taken in some of the king’s allies in an attempt to stabilize the country, but he’s worried about Song In, who is consumed with hatred for Won.

Teacher Lee knows that it’s because Boo-yong and Song In were lovers, surprising Minister Song with his intel (or as he puts it, “good ears”). Song In is on the warpath, but Teacher Lee only smiles, because he’s amused that Minister Song has decided to be so candid about Song In’s treason.

The real reason for his candor is because Minister Song wants Teacher Lee’s advice on whose side he should take in the brewing war to protect his position and assets. He laughs wildly to himself, while Teacher Lee merely observes.

Won unfolds Rin’s letter when he’s alone and reads Rin’s words. Rin opens by asking for Won’s understanding, since he chose to disclose his thoughts in this letter instead of discussing them with Won in person.

He’s included a list of names of the people who hold “power in the shadows” in Goryeo, but who are not loyal to the king. Rin tells Won that these men do not care who is king, as long as they can control him.

He adds that they oppose Won because he is far too clever to be controlled, and they use his mixed heritage in an attempt to delegitimize him. King Chungryeol has been good to them, but has lately been gaining too much power, and now they seek a weaker replacement.

Rin concludes that as long as he lives, they will use him as a means to weaken Won and his reign (what about Jeon?). He adds heartbreakingly that he was honored to follow, protect, and be with Won all these years. Oh, you precious peach.

But, Rin continues, even so, he fell in love with the woman Won loved, and soon became unable to control his ardent feelings. He knows his crime is punishable by death, and will accept it. However, if he survives Won’s sword, then he hopes to leave and live far away.

As Rin reads his letter in voiceover, Won’s face wrinkles in conflict as he mulls over Rin’s words, and he consults his heart for the right thing to do.

The next morning, the royal physician clears Rin from imminent danger and predicts that he will wake soon, leaving San alarmed by Rin’s prognosis and rapid rate of recovery.

San goes back upstairs to check on Rin, but unlike the night before, she seems troubled. She tells Rin that he’ll be fine now but trails off before she saying that that means he won’t need her anymore.

Tears streak across her face when she leans down to study his sleeping face, her own face full of longing as she tries to remember his profile in detail.

Later, Rin stirs and slowly opens his eyes to see San asleep next to him. Half-awake, he says, “You are in my dream.” He closes his eyes again and falls back to sleep.

The second time he wakes, he’s more lucid, but alone.

Won calls a meeting in the throne room with his ministers and takes out the list of names Rin wrote down, then begins his purge. Royal guards enter the throne room, and Won orders the officials secretly imprisoned and interrogated. Instead, a rumor should be spread that Won is useless and drinking day and night again.

Won orders the commanders assembled, then perks up when he hears that Rin has awoken, only to grow anxious when San is reported missing.

Meanwhile, in the palace, another sleeping beauty awakens: the king.

 
EPISODE 38 RECAP

At the inn, Rin is helped down the stairs by the cart pullers and immediately asks for San’s whereabouts. The cart pullers give Rin the bundle she left behind for him, then start bickering, since San told them to delay Rin as long as possible.

Rin tears open the bundle, looking for a letter, but he only finds some clothing. The cart pullers remember a message San asked them to deliver to Rin: “I will return in seven years. If you are still with the crown prince, I will find you.”

His face crumples despairingly and realizes that if San is determined to hide, then he will never be able to find her.

Finally awake, the king chows down on some breakfast, his appetite returning. He asks Minister Song where Boo-yong is, and after some hesitation, he’s told that she’s dead.

He thinks it’s a joke, but Wang Young doesn’t laugh. Minister Song describes how Won personally killed Boo-yong and details how distraught Boo-yong was after Princess Wonsung’s death…

The king’s face falls at the news, and he looks to Wang Young for confirmation. He smashes the bowl in his hand when Wang Young doesn’t refute it, but refuses to believe the truth. His reaction to Princess Wonsung’s death is comparatively far more grief-stricken than his reaction to Boo-yong’s (even as a joke), and he gasps in disbelief and anguish.

The search is on for San, and Jang Eui reports to Won about a witness seeing someone that fits San’s description leaving town. Won thinks back to the rest of the conversation he had the previous night with San outside the inn, and grows worried.

In a flashback, San asks Won if he really won’t visit Rin because of his guilt, but he only gets up to leave and thanks her for delivering the letter.

She follows after him, and as they walk, San tells Won that she thought about what it would be like if she had never known that he was the crown prince. He teases her for her rude behavior toward him when they first met, and she calls him petty for holding a grudge for so long.

He graciously forgives her because she let him “lean” on her that day they hugged. He’d told her then to think that he had slipped on some snow and fell into her arms.

San balances on a rock and Won warns that she will slip, so she asks if he would catch her. He replies that he won’t, stating, “My insides are very twisted.”

He then poses her hypothetical back to her and asks her to describe how different their life would be if she had never known his identity.

She says, “Whether I knew or not, it was the same. I liked you… a lot. At first, I was envious. You both had a friendship that I had never had, and I wanted to join in. After that, I could not help but like you. Each time we met, you gave me things I could never receive elsewhere.”

She adds that she had thought that Won was weird by granting her wishes before she even asked, but she was not someone who knew how to receive. Won replies that conversely, he was someone who did not know how to give, adding that at first, he wanted to keep San caged up like a bird, or take her far away.

She smiles and says that Won wouldn’t have been able to do that, because even though he doesn’t act like it, she knows that he cares deeply for his country. He says that he seems to have cherished her too much—too much to hold her back.

She suddenly wishes Won good health and tries to get up, but stumbles forward into Won’s arms. Won states dryly that he knew this would happen, but for the first time, instead of fleeing from the proximity, San put her arms around Won and holds him close.

Back in the present, Won realizes sadly that San was bidding him farewell.

Meanwhile, Song In continues to lose his mind, and grows snappish when Moo-suk asks what he should do with Bi-yeon after she’s done (though what she’s doing remains unclear).

Moo-suk asks if he must kill her afterwards, and Song In says that she’ll be a liability for them later. He warns that if Moo-suk cannot do it, then he will order someone else to, leaving Moo-suk with no choice but to nod in acknowledgment.

He confers with Bi-yeon secretly, and they discuss a plan he had told her beforehand (and off-screen), but Bi-yeon expresses her doubts about the plan, which will involve getting “her” outside. Bi-yeon seems to think this is related to San and a matter of life and death, but she’s still afraid.

She asks Moo-suk if her actions will help San live, and if he confirms it himself, then she says she will believe him. He then takes her hand and leads her away. Ugh, why are you believing him!? You know what, whatever, believe him then—just get off the screen.

Out in her private garden, Dan is deep in thought when she hears Bi-yeon making a ruckus outside, since she’s desperate to deliver a message from San.

Dan allows her inside, and also allows a moment of privacy (even from Jin Gwan) with Bi-yeon so that she can relay San’s message. Dan wonders why San didn’t come to talk herself and instead wants to speak outside the palace, since she knows that Dan isn’t free to go as she pleases.

Bi-yeon answers mysteriously that San cannot enter the palace anymore, lest she be seen by Won. Dan becomes confused by Bi-yeon’s riddles and grows skeptical after Bi-yeon expressly tells Dan that she must meet San alone, without any escorts.

It looks as if Bi-yeon’s mission is about to fail, so she blurts out that San is pregnant but does not know who the father is, and so she wants to speak to Dan about the matter. And so, Dan orders Jin Gwan to tell Won that she must meet with him immediately.

Unfortunately, Won is outside the palace tracking down San. He listens to a witness telling him of a potential San sighting and hears a troubling detail of how a group of men surrounded her and apprehended her. Welp, that certainly sounds like San.

After the man gives his testimony, Rin appears behind Won, having been conducting his own one-man search.

Worried, Won tells Rin not to bow in greeting, then asks if he is okay. Cutely, Rin tells Won honestly that he’s in pain, causing Won to look guilt-ridden before he whines about having to apologize (you really should, though). Rin declares that their fight was fair, but his sword slipped, leading Won to smile briefly.

Won pauses, then says forebodingly that he’s getting a bad feeling about all this.

Song In rides up to Minister Eun’s deserted estate and enters one of the rooms, where he greets a tied up San. He seems at ease as San glared venomously and asks what he’s planning, but he only tells her to be patient because “she” is coming.

Enter Dan and Bi-yeon, who arrive together at Minister Eun’s estate. Bi-yeon is immediately taken away by Moo-suk’s men, and Moo-suk escorts the princess to the main stage. She’s confused and frightened to see San tied up in her old house, with Song In lording over her.

Alarmed, San demands to know what is going on, and when Moo-suk forces Dan to sit, she rages at him for carelessly manhandling the crown princess. Song In chuckles and tells San to calm herself, then tells them both that they will be drinking some tea.

He pours both cups and tells them that one of them will go with him as a hostage, while the other will drink a poisoned cup of tea—made by Boo-yong. The poison is allegedly painless, but will slowly shut down a person’s organs—and with that, he invites them to choose who will take the poison.

San speaks up with a hardened expression and apologizes before recommending Dan to die via poison. (Oh?) She fears that Dan wouldn’t be able to survive a day in Song In’s insufferable keeping, and would be better off dying now. Hahahaha! The vicious shade!

Dan looks at San outraged, while Song In studies San, thoroughly intrigued. He says that Dan is the one who stole the position of crown princess from San, and she must hold a grudge—a logic that San is happy to lean into and exploit.

San only asks that she be able to serve the tea to Dan herself, and so Moo-suk unties her. Song In pours a generous amount of the poison into only one of the cups, and the women eye it fearfully.

Dan asks what she ever did to San to deserve this death sentence, but San merely replies that it would be great if they were reborn as sweet sisters in their next lives.

Meanwhile, after finding an anonymous note on an arrow (in conjunction with discovering that Dan is missing), Jin Gwan delivers the note to Won and Rin. He informs them that San is also being held hostage, and the boys hurry out to save them.

Back in her old house, San reaches for the poisoned cup, and when Song In and Moo-suk are momentarily distracted by a sound from outside, she switches them in one fluid motion.

She hands Dan the untampered cup and tells Dan not to be afraid, but right before the cup is transferred over, Song In stops them and instructs San to drink (the poisoned cup) at the same time.

San says in voiceover: “I have come across many precious people in my life, which most people cannot even dream of. I was dearly beloved. That is enough for me.”

Dan stays silent, but dawning horror washes over her as she realizes that San is about to sacrifice herself. When they both dawdle, Song In tilts the tea toward Dan’s face to force her to drink before looking over to San, who smiles resignedly to herself. San stares down at her poisoned cup, then closes her eyes and drinks as a single tear falls.

 
COMMENTS

I really liked the focus on San and Won in these episodes. San finally explained what she was feeling by telling Won that she really cares for him, but cannot accept his feelings for her because they are incompatible with who she is, and who she became as a direct result of his inaction eight years ago. His mistake and cowardice brought her so many years of suffering, and though he regrets it deeply, and though she forgives him now, San is forever changed by those events.

I think it’s really interesting that San talks about being unable to receive love, because it makes so much sense given that this entire show she’s been constantly fixated on giving what she thinks is the highest form of love to both Won and Rin by doing everything in her power to protect their friendship—even if it meant sacrificing her heart, and herself. It’s also the way she loved her father, and how her father loved her—this loving with restraint. Her final message to Rin about staying by Won’s side remains true to that spirit, along with her wholehearted and selfless belief in their friendship and their ability to bring out the best in each other when she isn’t part of the equation. It think she’s confident that she can love him from afar, because that’s what’s she done for years, and if her being near brings him or Won pain, then she cannot bear it.

It’s tragic that Won can never tell his mother how much she means to him, or how sorry he is for not being there when she needed him most, but I really like how the show has given Won these moments of awareness. We can visibly see him growing and trying to become a better and less bullheaded leader. He’s innately shrewd and calculating, but now he’s learned how much damage his unchecked rage and ruthlessness can bring to those he loves. And more importantly, he is coming to see how his stubbornness and bloodlust can drive those he loves to extremes in order to protect him from himself. I’ve really enjoyed watching Won grown throughout these episodes.

Onto less positive notes, I was incredibly frustrated that Bi-yeon again proved that she doesn’t have a working brain and is instead a robot programed to serve the plot, but I don’t want to spend too much energy being annoyed by her. At this point, the only outcome that’s going to satisfy me in terms of her ending is if she skewers Moo-suk with a sword, then later becomes a badass business woman and rises to the level of Minister Eun, eventually employing a crippled Moo-suk as her footman.

I am also disappointed by the heavy-handed glossing over of important political and social tensions in this era by attributing them to the “shadow powers” that be, and their one-dimensional villainy. That said, I prefer more time spent on the relationships between the trio, so I guess it’s for the best. I could barely tolerate Song In (or Minister Song for that matter) in this show, so not adding more shallow political blabbing was probably the right move.

Speaking of Song In, he ended up being so toothless, didn’t he? His clichéd descent into insanity sort of makes his eventual demise less satisfying somehow. He made Boo-yong use her body to manipulate the king while still claiming to love her, and her death is the thing that breaks him? I know he’s a troubled person, but everything about him rings hollow. It almost doesn’t matter since Princess Wonsung was so compelling as both an antagonist and ally in this show, which ultimately means that Song In can go die off-screen and not be missed.

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And even after this episode... People still debating over who is in San's heart. LOL.... Especially at the scene where San said she LIKES won a lot. It wasn't a romantic scene at all... At least I don't feel it. It was more a frienship/platonic scene to me...

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right, on the contrary when San was on Rin's bedside and the tought of she have to leave him break her heart, she wishes Rin to not recover that fast so she can care for him longer and she need to imprint Rin's face in her mind for her to remember later
I think this is the real give out on who she loves romantically

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There's a comment from Yoona re the love triangle, but I guess we'd better wait for the last episode recap to say what she says when she knows she loves who she loves...

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lol...people were STILL 🤣twisting the facts till Yoona's interview cleared the air.
there is difference in liking n loving, but people saw the difference based on their own observation of characters....

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The more debates the merrier😁

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Well you know, there are people who will go down swinging with their ship, without a care about the story at all, so....

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agreed they dint even understand the name of the drama and now trying to prove that they understood the story n love more than rest...

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I immediately read internet comments after this episode and thought how I may have jumped into another world by how the scenes were being interpreted. I saw that scene between Won and San as a polite and gracious rejection of his feelings. Others thought of it as a love declaration and I thought I must've gone blind for RinSan and lost all logic. Anyway, I found that scene so beautiful and poignant in that San appreciates how much Won has given her, such as his friendship with her and Rin and an opportunity to heal her by taking out the rock in her heart, but cannot reciprocate his feelings.

While San has indeed given out mixed signals all throughout, I guess what made me convinced that she likes Rin was how Won "reacted" to their blossoming relationship. It was through Won's internal monologues, because he knew them so much, that gave away RinSan's feelings for each other.

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Haha XD Come on I feel sorry for them but on the other hand, why not let them lie to themselves about the drama? It's a drama and it's their problem XD

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Even some people who were in RinSan ship still confused about San's heart. I mean come on, she just said she likes him but that's it. We could see Won's not delightful at all with the confession because Won knew that Rin is the one in San's heart as her lover and San likes him as a friend.

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Well if shipping wars is what you people are watching a show for this one stoned you till high heavens.
I think that substance is more than who gets the girl, the throne or kills te bad guy, and at that this show did a halfassed job, at least we got some multi dimesion characters like won, rin, pricess wonsung and the king, the rest was cliche (wery dissapointed in san`s character I expected more but she is a woman and female characters are a plot device and damsels in distress in kdramas).

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honestly if you really believe your last statement to be true, you will never look at female characters objectively and appreciate them. San breaks the mold of what women were allowed to be in that time period, and she has saved herself and her family within ways her power allowed. she is hardly a damsel in distress, but it seems you are biased against female characters in general and cannot appreciate their characters separate from the men they are tied to, so i guess there is little room for debate.

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A few things:
- Can I just say that I'm not sure why, but Jin Gwan looks more and more dashing with each episode.
- Minister Song really did get on my nerves every episode — did no one else find his over-exaggerated responses utterly annoying?
- San's voice over as she drinks the tea: to face certain death with such gratitude of life's blessings despite the absolute horrors she's had to suffer all these years, and at a time when she was this close to finally leaving and finding peace of her own — I think it's pretty amazing. It's got to be one of the things I like most about this character.
- Also, the bromance, y'all *fangirl overload*

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The bromance broke me.

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I think it can rival school 2013's bromance

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Awww why did you have to mention School 2013😍 That one is on another level I think.

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And can I just say how I love evertytime Dan says his name "Jin Gwan"

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It would be impossible, just because of who they are/their status, but I sometimes wonder if she's aware of his feelings for her.

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I kinda feel cheated for they teased us Dan and Jin Gwan. He was always protective and shy over her. Dan was also always that nice to him and never once looked down on him. I remember my comment in previous recap that the two were the only couple I was rooting for since they were too cute together and the situation was too complicated on the love triangle side.

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YES to Minister Song. I hate how he was played so campy.

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Sometimes I feel embarrassed listening to him. The way he speaks is just too weird. And yayy for the bromance! Love seeing them back and how casual they put aside the previous fight.

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Still amazed by how easily they resolved their conflict. Seriously, someone was slashed with a sword and rendered unconscious.

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I just sweep it under the rug with the 'dudes are weird' answer

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Lol me too. I really wanted his tongue cut off hahaha

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Re: Minister Song's vocalization

See my post below. If that theory doesn't pan out, I can only suggest that there is something weird about the water in Goryeo. ;-)

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Hmm I don't see the link between his motivations and his speaking mannerisms (?), and I didn't watch Six Flying Dragons ): but perhaps it is a kind of dialect as you suggested.

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Minister Song was truly overacted. When I first watched him unsubbed, he was highly distracting and I couldn’t help but just laugh at him. And I doubt he was there to bring comic relief.

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I think the actor did it intentionally. The style is that which is more commonly found in theater.

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I wondered why he chose to make that decision, though, because it often seemed as if he were in a different drama than the others...

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It reminded me of the acting in silent films (how they would use their facial expressions to make up for the lack of sound).

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it was interesting because i feel like he upped the campinness after a few episodes. i didn't find him too outrageous in the beginning, unless i am remembering wrong??

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Here is my essay on San, as promised, and best dressed award goes to the Crown Princess this week. Wow, gorgeous, girl.

Lady San, from single dimension to multidimensional heroine. San (So Hwa) did such a wonderful job explaining herself this past week. Her conversation with Won was exactly what Won needed to finally be able to let her go. He finally understood how she felt about him, that she did love him, and could have loved him enough to spend her entire life with him. She envied his and Rin’s relationship with each other. She has always been shielding herself, protecting herself from getting too close to others, probably so that she wouldn’t give her her identity, but also so that she could never be hurt as badly as she was when her mother died. Won was the first person that she could really be herself around, and even more so because she thought he was beneath her in rank, and wouldn’t judge her for her vulgarities. She is not just a plot device, and not there just to cause a rift in Won’s and Rin’s relationship. Don’t get me wrong, she is there to cause tension and division because they end up both loving her, but that's not all. You could have an entire spin off with just her. She is a strong enough character to anchor any drama.

Her backstory is tragic. She is guilt ridden for causing the death of not only her mother, but at least a dozen others in the ambush on the caravan, and a lifetime of heartache for her and her father. She is forever indebted to Bi-Yeon (although that girl is the epitome of blind trust and stupidity—talk about one-dimensional), and was probably glad to be sent away for 7 years as penance for her sins. Psychologically, she has a conversion disorder (not being able to taste food) from the trauma. (I don’t know if this can really happen with taste, but conversion disorders do occur in the form of blindness, deafness, mutism, so why not “tasteless?” However, to lose your sense of taste also means you’ve likely lost your sense of smell, which wouldn’t make sense for her because she is such a connoisseur of alcohol spirits. And why would she not be able to food, but her taste for alcohol isn’t affected? Oh, well, I digress.) She has a conversion disorder, so subconsciously and psychologically, she’s messed up. She’s never had a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a best friend. What a sad existence up until this point. This girl never caught a break, even though her father is the richest man in Goryeo.

So, it doesn’t surprise me AT ALL that she clings to these two boys, and very cute ones at that, when they show up. No matter how independent she is, she is incredibly lonely as well. She’s a tomboy herself, always in male clothes, and thinks of herself as “one of the guys.” She just wants them to be her friend, and if “she” was a “he” her story would have turned out much differently. But, they also wouldn’t have given her the time of day if she wasn’t a pretty girl. Because, like it or...

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not, they are hormonal boys first, and friends second.

And because of her guilt, she wants only to see others happy, since she was the source of so much unhappiness and death. She is the ultimate “people-pleaser” and just wants to be whatever each boy needs for her to be to make them happy. There was this movie I saw with Julia Roberts called Runaway Bride in the 1990’s where she plays a woman who has been engaged multiple times to different men, but never could get married. The reason was because she was a chameleon, making herself exactly what the guy wanted in a girl; she’d be the free-spirited hippie for one, the avid mountain climber for another, etc., and never new who she was or what she wanted, except that she needed acceptance. I see that San is a little like this; she has this extreme sense of wanting to belong to something, and especially needing to have an emotional connection to someone—anyone.

This is what drives her. And it takes her the whole drama to figure out who she really wants. She loves both boys, in their separate ways, and I would too. I could see her with either one of them, as their friend, confidante, support. She saw herself in both of them—impulsive nature of Won, the sacrificial nature of Rin. So, really, she may be the most well-rounded character of this drama.

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And it takes her the whole drama to figure out who she really wants. She loves both boys, in their separate ways, and I would too. I could see her with either one of them

So nicely put. San does love both of them and I also could see she'd be happy with either one of them. Only the circumstances with Won is more complicated for the obvious reason Won is the Crown Prince, future King of Goryeo. San is a free bird, the least she'd want is to be guarded in a palace. From the first epi we could see how a wanderous child she was scrounging her mom to let her take a stroll in the woods. She loves travelling like her dad and Won couldn't possibly follow her around.

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I really liked your post.

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Hormonal boys!!!! HA!!! So true....
The girl wants friendship, the boys want something else... 😜😜😜

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YEP a multi dimensional character cause she is the main lead, she gets kidnapped a few times, two or more men fought over her, she is wishy washy all the time, does a lot of stupid impulsive things, but she is PRETTY (thats up to the eyes of the beholder) and everybody must love her= equals cliche felmale kdrama character whit the bonus of a good back story this time.

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I'm still confused myself about the difference between how she feels about Rin and Won until the final episode but thankfully,Yoona's interview shed light to the question. San,according to Yoona,love Won as a friend and love Rin as a man. She just don't want to break the boys friendship but wants to join it.

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I love love love your comment. Can I hug it?

My love for San kinda tapered off when she was unfortunately used as a tool to engineer dramatic tension, but it came barreling back once I thought over who she was as a person and how she had been acting true to herself all along. God knows San is not perfect but her every action and reaction was rooted to the core of her character, and that was beautiful to me. And even more beautiful was her understanding of both Won and Rin and her fight to keep them together. LOVE.

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“Hugging” comments should be a thing—I’ve had several every week that I found especially huggable!

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Hugging comments? We should have a 'Hug' button in place of the downvote one.

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@ Ally September 20, 2017 at 8:49 PM

Psychologically, she has a conversion disorder (not being able to taste food) from the trauma. (I don’t know if this can really happen with taste, but conversion disorders do occur in the form of blindness, deafness, mutism, so why not “tasteless?” However, to lose your sense of taste also means you’ve likely lost your sense of smell, which wouldn’t make sense for her because she is such a connoisseur of alcohol spirits. And why would she not be able to food, but her taste for alcohol isn’t affected?

Great essay, Ally! Many thanks!

Loss of sense of taste: ageusia
Loss of sense of smell: anosmia

I appreciate your musings on conversion disorder. As soon as I read it, I recalled that San could not taste salt, hence her over-salted dishes at the inn. I think Won figured out she was hiding there as kitchen help at one point. Her excessively salty cookery gave her away.

Is it possible that only her salt receptors were affected? Maybe she could still taste the bitter flavor of soju (unless the grimacing is triggered by her mucous membranes denaturing with every swallow of firewater!).

I'm wracking my brains trying to remember the scene in which I heard that San's ability to taste salt had returned. Maybe it's in one of the last two episodes? -- At any rate, it was saltiness that she could again detect.

I'm wondering if salt symbolizes tears -- in particular her overwhelming grief upon the death of her mother and all of the faithful servants who lost their lives. As her broken heart heals, her capacity to deal with less-traumatic levels of grief may be gradually returning to normal.

If San can indeed taste the bitter flavor of soju, that says to me that she may well be able to taste the bitterness of the plant alkaloids in Boo-yong's poisons. Hmmm.

If you look at both flavors according to Five Elements / Five Phases theory, salty corresponds to Water while bitter is classified as Fire. IIRC, alcohol also is regarded as Fire Phase, with the heart and circulation the associated organ system, and LOVE the corresponding emotion. Water Phase is connected with the kidneys, with fear as the associated emotion.

Annemarie Colbin's landmark treatise Food and Healing contains a dandy introduction to the application of Five Phases / Five Elements theory to food and nutrition. ;-)

One last item regarding the intimately-connected senses of taste and smell: Peonies have a lovely sweet scent. Was San able to smell the fragrance of Princess Wonsung's last peony? Can Won and his father detect the lingering scent of the dried petals? It might comfort both of them.

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I loved reading your Five Elements theory! It's so insightful. I think San was unable to taste anything, just that it was highlighted through salt? If anything, I find the salty-water phase-fear connection fascinating, because I think a large part of why San lost her sense of taste was her fear of loving and opening herself up to hurt again. And when she finally fully opened up again, when she let go of her fear, she could taste again.

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@LaLa,

I'm glad you found the Five Elements / Five Phases information useful. I was surprised when it leaped out at me. ;-)

I came across an article online re: Fire Phase that states right off the bat that when Fire Phase is in balance, the person is able to give and receive love! BINGO!

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Oh, one other thing: zinc deficiency also disrupts the senses of taste and smell.

There seems to be a relationship between the loss of sense of taste and smell, and dementia / Alzheimer's / and Parkinson's disease.

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I don't know if this helps, but I just recalled that some people cannot smell patchouli. It is genetic, so I assume they simply never smell it -- a sad thought as it's one of my favorites. (I learned that bit of trivia many years ago from a friend in the food testing field, who also noted that Jack Russell terriers are prone to deafness, again a genetic condition.)

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Kudos on always finding a symbolic bent to these seemingly random choices that writers make. The five element theory is something I’d never come across. But it sounds so Eastern medicine. Thanks for enlightening me!

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I actually have anosmia but only with a certain smell. So I assume that there must be a certain sense of taste that San cannot sense. I did not know that I have anosmia but apparently I cannot smell certain rotten foods in my fridge and my family sometimes warn me ' there must be something rotten in the fridge!' then i look for a rotten item with my eyes. yet I am extremely sensitive with certain smell such as wet air with mold. I almost panic when the smell is strong. As I examined what have happened to me to lose my smell sense, I came to a time when I father suddenly yelled at me for no reason( Actually, I did not get a good score or something and that is the reason my father got furious. Yes i was brought up in a very education orientated Asian family) and kicked me out from my house. I was young and panicked then I started having a severe nosebleeding in front of my house. My blood made a small pond around me and I got more panicked seeing this bloody pond until someone saw me and took me to my father(since my father was a doctor). I guess that my father's action was traumatic to me that I lost a smelling sense that day. With my own experience, I can see San has a lack of salty taste yet has a keen sense of taste with alcohol at the same time.

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TeriYaki: I was going to make a list of the things you made so much clearer than I could understand, but the list got too long, so let me say just about everything. I don't know if it's the subtitles that aren't as good, but thank you so much for your recap. I will say the first thing that struck me was what you said about Rin hiding the King because he was afraid of Won's reckless rage. Somehow either I didn't get that or the subtitles didn't make it clear. And on and on...I'm glad you stated the negative things too - we want to like the show so much we gloss over those niggling things. I do think BiYeon(?) is just not very smart, as in not a high IQ. She'll never be anything else. And Song In, not the best written villain ever, but we'll see what happens.
Please take your time with the recap of the last two episodes, because I don't want to let this show go.

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My hunch did tell me that Rin would be all fine but like San I wished he could stay unconscious for a longer time so more RinSan moments or maybe WonRin or just Rin laying asleep with his mouth half open and showing some skin it'd be better if the director took off his cloth but I'd probably die for overflow hotness. I mean I supposed to be moody for Rin's condition but was literally screaming excitedly upon spotting him on the bed. Pardon my severe Rin disorder🙊

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finally i found my mate with same disorder as mine😉... i was so looking forward to have his skin shown a bit more, esp the part where he had wound 😝... but alas we dint get there.
Even if it was not done..i still could have stared at his beautiful face while sleeping (Sleeping Male Beauty.. first word came to my mind) esp in that golden blanket he was looking like a gold plated chocolate(🤣🤣🤣🤣)...i would love to devour it😋😋😋😋

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Omo finally??! Does it mean we were alone in this?😂😁

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you are not, welcome to the club girls, right @kdramaswimmer ?? ;) ;)
anyone want closer RinSan sleep position, just head to my profile :p :p

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hahaha here comes the artist..anneyong chingu..

@miselpo obviously we are not alone. we have a long list as @juniasat says...

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That’s beautiful, beautiful! What fantastical photoshopping is this?

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😍😍 but could you make her hand on his chest. Sorry I'm this greedy😶

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thats my fav one...muaahhh love uuuuu

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Omo!!! Can we have San on top of Rin?

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Gold plated chocolate?

Will he melt if my warm hands touch his body? 🍫 Delickious!

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i bet yes... he is delicate delicious chocolate.. so melting is inevitable..😋

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This is probably the kind of disorder that needs no cure.

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i rephrase we dont want any cure....lol and looking for virus to make it worst.. isn't it @juniasat?

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I am willing to be your guinea pig! 😆

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yeah you are most welcome..
we got the name of our Rin Disorder virus is RINitis credit to @pakalanapikake (thanks for the name).
and the list of the patient is quite long already..lol

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@ miselpo September 20, 2017 at 9:17 PM

*runs around like a lintie*

Eureka! I discovered the name of your Rin disorder!

(wait for it)

Rin-itis. ;-)

And just like the common cold, there is no cure for it. Congratulations! ;-)

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RINITIS !! Omo! This should be the invention of the year and your name must be written on the list of great discoverers👏👏

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You can call me Alexandra Fleming. ;-)

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Not that a little moldy bread would do any good against a virus. ;-)

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Didn't you see the prescription on my fanwall?

I can't really say it helps. I just feel more feverish.

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Nope, I did not see your fan wall. Honest. ;-)

This is certainly a case of great minds in the same gutter. ;-)

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i haven't checked ur wall recently.. let me see what prescription we have..

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😂😂😂 Perfect name, and I’m kinda jealous I didn’t come up with it myself!

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hahahha i lovvvvveeedd the name...
and @miselpo says it should be the greatest Discoveries of this year...👏👏👏

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I think we are all suffering from Rin/HJH disorder!! :) And yes too bad the sick bed scene didn't go the route of Healer with cuddling and kisses!!

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Or JEALOUSY INCARNATE. ;-)

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i badly wanted to end Healer way😜....he could have caressed her face with his hand and she could have fluttered open her eyes and i would have died with their oozing chemistry...😋😍
but disappointed..

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Eh....remember those flimsy papered windows and creaky wooden floor boards?

Just imagine Rin and San building a love shack in the forest after their departure from the capital. No one in the vicinity of 1000 li and no wi-fi.

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Thank you for the recap! Been waiting since yesterday \^.^/
This whole drama mostly focused on Won, his feelings & his POV, maybe that's the reason why the audience were so confused about their ships, because we didn't get a clear POV of other characters unless they talked with won directly.
Won loves them both doesn't he....

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And the promotional posters didn't help either. Anyway I was convinced that San and Rin have mutual feelings during Won's monologue that the two avoid each other's eyes and eventually tested both of them.

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thats when i realized their feelings were mutual... and things were pretty clear so early on but it was the denial (by won and his fans) that dint let people accept it till the end and even now.

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That's when I realized it too - after already suspecting it. The scenes before the ribbon party - especially the Prince Charming scene where he picked her up was the biggest clue.

I will be forever bitter that Rin wasn't featured in more posters.

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add me to the list...i would have loved to see more of his handsome personality flashing all over the places as big bill board posters...but it dint happen...😣

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This makes me remember: Rin could tell that she was smiling underneath her veil, but Won couldn't tell that it was San in the Jeon-San wedding scene, even if he was with a veiled So Hwa the night before.

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That's what I thought too....it was so sweet that Rin knew when San smiled under her veil (where I felt they were the OTP) and Mr.-love-you-more-than-myself-Won didn't recognize her under her translucent veil like... -_-

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In the Jeon-San wedding scene, I was surprised that Won couldn't recognize San's eyes -- the windows to her soul.

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Rin could read San's eyes are of her smiling face while Won could not know it was San...
we did get these subtle realization moments of different both Rin and Won 's affection towards San.

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"And the promotional posters didn't help either."

You might find this funny but now I see that promotional picture of san & won in a new light.....I feel that won is holding onto her tightly(like he doesn't want to let go) & san is never looking back at him because she doesn't want to stay lol XD

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I noticed that, too. In the posters of San and Won together, San was always looking the other way, as if uncomfortable about the affection that she is getting.

As for Rin, the PD team probably decided that they probably want to keep everyone guessing with the ending, as those who researched about the novel were spoiled about the possible ending already, so HJH's Rin wasn't featured as much.

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*everything you said.....*

*me chimes internally..."exactly!!"* :-)

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Ahah yes the one in the cover for DB TKL recaps. I too didn't pay closer attention to both their expressions but now yes I think it shows San doesn't look happy.

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Thank you! I was trying to figure out what the poster was symbolizing -- especially since Rin was nowhere in sight.

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Actually, that poster (+ reading the summaries) was my first ever clue that Won and San wouldn't end up together. San is turned away from Won and does not look happy at all about him hugging her. I think people put it down w/ them (Yoona in particular) being stiff, but I guess it was a ~subtle~ foreshadowing that San was not happy w/ Won's feelings.

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San is turned away from Won and does not look happy at all about him hugging her.

*the truth has been spoken*

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Back to the recap.. thank you very much for this recap...
Won finally show traits of him growing up, he has improved a lot in this episode.. when he dint hug San back that was the moment of self realization for him that it was really not what he was thinking it to be.
WonRin friendship... is the best thing abt this drama with nothing dramatic but true to the heart. I love how these 2 resolve their issue with no hard feelings. Just one smile from either side and thinks are normal. this kind of friendship is kind of rare in today's time, when people live in selfish world and never feel that connected with their friends to have that deep understanding of their emotions. This is the best lesson i'd take from this drama WonRin friendship goals.

RinSan..lol my fanwall is full of rinsan and now i have no idea what should i write. i feel like that moment San was talking to injured Rin was so near perfect explain in words. it was just to feel her love. and when she was sleeping beside him that was so precious to even look anywhere else..❤️❤️❤️
my only regret.. when Rin opened his eyes, saw San there and thinks of it as dream.. i was screaming "no.. it's not, wake her up, talk to her"...ahh i am bad at keeping my emotions under control..
all in all a nice episode in terms of WonRinSan...

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I had been criticizing the writer(s) for giving ambiguity in the relationships between Won-San-Rin until I realized belatedly that I may be wrong after all. I still stand by my opinion that if the intention was to troll viewers and keep both camps watching to the very end, it's manipulative. As to why I said I may be wrong is because these two(four) episodes, I got to understand much better how San sees the two men in her life. Love isn't always clear from start but once it hits you, you can't run or hide from it even if you tried.

That conversation San had with Won reminded me of myself in those times when I had to tell a male friend that I liked him very much but we cannot be more than friends. I admit that during the friendship there were times I wonder to myself if it could be more. It's not about being fickle but things weren't always crystal clear. Looking back I wonder if I had given it more time, would things change? I guess anything is possible.

However, matters of the heart is a strange thing and not always explicable.

For San, as time passes, it became more and more apparent that her heart truly belonged to Rin. Perhaps that's the distinction. . It's not the mind that matters although Rin as a character is almost impossible not to love but the body. Platonic love as contrast to romantic love lacks those things which are unmistakable - heart flutters, heart aches, the physical attraction and so on.

Just look at the difference in San-Won conversation scene and San-Rin bed scene(unfortunately not literal, I wish!).
WonSan shippers made a huge deal over the fact that San said she liked Won and hugged him. I'm not going into the semantics or why a woman cannot say she like a man or hug one without being romantically inclined. Just look at Won's reaction. He knew and he had known it for a long time that San loves Rin.
But I am glad she had this conversation with him, it was as much a catharsis for her as it is for him.

"Oh, you precious peach."
I cracked up at this but really...can I squish him?
San's eyes and voice are obviously someone pained to see her love one seriously wounded and knowing that she has to leave him.

I want to give a shout out to Yoona for nailing these two scenes. To me, it was so clear who was a very dear friend and who was the love. If we look back, RinSan's scenes were always so tender, so infused with emotions even though they were largely unspoken. Yoona and Hong Jong Hyun knocked it out of the park in conveying all the subtleties and beautiful tenderness of their love for each other.

I have more to say but will continue much later.

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Lovely. I did read an interview with Yoona where she explains when San knew who she was in love with (it has to do with rooftop rescues).

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Ha - didn't see the above posts, guess this isn't news.

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Aha! I'd pegged the rooftop rescues as the turning points when San realized Rin was The One. Thanks for the corroborating evidence from the actress herself. If anyone should know, it's Yoona. ;-)

Her performance was terrific.

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Before I watched the last eps, there are many opinion on Soompi that tells me that it was Won San in the end. Then I watched the last eps, it was clearly RinSan in my mind. I seriously scratched my head thinking that there muse be something I missed to think RinSan is the end game since many seems to believe firmly that it was WonSan.( to me, this drama demands some comprehension and analysis and that is why I enjoyed it) It really bugged me that though I do have some pride in my comprehension level, it seems that I must have missed many clues to point out that San loves Won romantically.
Thank you for Murasakimi and Outofthisworld because you two brilliantly explain things that many WonSan shippers did not get. or is it just Won San shippers are devout Siwan fans so that they just decided to stick with their ship?
I like your explanation- 'That conversation San had with Won reminded me of myself in those times when I had to tell a male friend that I liked him very much but we cannot be more than friends. I admit that during the friendship there were times I wonder to myself if it could be more. It's not about being fickle but things weren't always crystal clear. Looking back I wonder if I had given it more time, would things change? I guess anything is possible.'-- someone who experienced the similar situation can fully understands the context of what San said and her behavior with Won.

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Well, they do say that the loudest ones aren't necessarily spouting the truth... I respect the WonSan shippers who just prefer WonSan together--I can understand that. What I don't understand are those who twist the facts and make up their own false narratives just to legitimize their ship...

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yeah, that the most laughable one until they start to drag the real person and then it not funny anymore

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Are you talking about a particular post in social medias that said San is Jobi (Won's third wive)? Just because the description of Jobi is Won's most beloved consort? LOL
From what I know, San and Rin are fictional characters... And in the novel, Jobi exists. Which breaks the theory that San and Jobi are the same person.

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"I want to give a shout out to Yoona for nailing these two scenes."

Yep, I'd like to give a shout out to Yoona too. She did a great job conveying the two different kind of affections to Won and Rin. Even though there are massive shipper wars and many interpertations, for me it's always been clear as day by San's eyes and body languange that she loves Won as a friend, and loves Rin romantically.

Also, shout out to WonSanRin explosive chemistry! The trio really nails their roles perfectly. I can't help but to root for all three of them.

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This is definitely one case in which Best Couple is actually Best Trio. ;-)

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I agree with you 100% I felt that the writers did San a disservice when they continued to make her so opaque and editing scenes in a way that played up ambiguity when her feelings themselves and her actions were clear from the start.

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Kudos to Yoona, tbh, for never making me doubt how San felt. It was very clear to me how she felt about Rin and about Won. It was in her eyes and whole body language. I think San and TKIL are really a step up for her

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Lady San is the captain of WonRin bromance ship.

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Shout it from the rooftops!!! I love a heroine who does not just say she loves the bromance but actually and actively tries to save it, over the romance. To San, who was deprived of friendship for so long, friendship was the most important thing.

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I really hate how the writer seem ambiguous about the main pair of this show. She should stick to one pair and build it instead of making San seems like she's playing the field. Thank god i read Yoona's interview that sheds light to San's real feelings. I wouldn't have cared enough if shippers actions were moderate but there were shippers who takes it to the extreme. it's ok if they're delulu but like, invading HJH'S IG?not cool. Shipping war kind of ruin it for me.

TKIL is all about Won growing as a better person thanks to his wonderful friends who tought him love when he couldn't get it at home. With parents like that?no wonder he turns up this way. About Rin who remains loyal til the end and gives love unconditionally to the people around him. About San who is scarred emotionally but who is happy to give happiness to others. But some fans focus on loveline instead.

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Re; invading HJH'S IG

some fans are just too crazy, it is only drama ! The plot is nothing to do with HJH. some people really immerse themselves in dramaland in delusional manner.
The writer made the drama so divided as if she herself even could not make up her mind on whether WonSan or RinSan til very end. If the plot show more romantic lines between Rin and San, even Won(siwan) fans can get it then hopefully would have time to cope with the reality without showing much malice towards HJH.

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"The writer made the drama so divided as if she herself even could not make up her mind on whether WonSan or RinSan til very end."

I was late to starting this show so I caught up only about 2 weeks ago. This show was out of my radar. I remember thinking that Im Si Wan looks really pretty in the Goryeo mane and that's about it. I didn't even notice how Hong Jong Hyun looked! Forget about trailers, promos and whatsnot. I only looked at this show again when some beanie posted screencaps on her fanwall. It caught my attention, I tried the 1st ep and gave up halfway. I can't remember exactly why but most likely I was absorbed in some other current dramas.

On a whim, I decided to pick this up only much later and I binge watched without reading recaps or any discussion on other sites. I was totally oblivious to the shipping wars and division. My conclusion at around ep 27-30: 100% RinSan.

Then I started to lurk in soompi, streaming sites comments and ended up confusing myself. In fact, I was so thrown off that I actually put the drama on hold. If this is a drama that's going to troll viewers, I didn't feel it was something I'd want to continue.

This is my purely my speculation of what happened:
1) From the writer intended to follow the novel but was open to changing the end game
2) Assuming ISW's popularity in Korea is higher than HJH and since this is his last project before army, they decided to focus the promotional materials and hype on him and his character, Won. Add in a very popular and established idol - Yoona - winning combination.
3) Along the way, the writer changed mind/decided on final outcome/change in writer and it became a RinSan endgame.
Hence, Yoona not being too sure until this point.
4) However, RinSan romance had to be kept subtle as possible
- No declaration of love(dead giveaway!)
- No obvious two way smooching(dead!)
You don't want WonSan shippers to abandon drama in troves, do you? Or risk ISW fans' anger..at least not at this stage
At the same time, someone - PD and/or writer was very much on this RinSan ship. How else to explain the endearing lines and super lovely expressions which were allowed to be captured?
4) The finale!
Can't help inserting a couple more nice lovey dovey scenes of RinSan but back to focus on WonRinSan relationship.
In the end, hopefully the audience will be receptive and understand that this is a drama about Won's growth, WonRin's bromance, WonRinSan's friendship and love - love in many forms.
*bracing for fallout and angry ISW or WonSan knetz*

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RinSan romance had to be kept subtle as possible
- No declaration of love(dead giveaway!)
- No obvious two way smooching(dead!)

*rolls on the floor* 😂😂😂

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I don’t remember when I declared my Ship, but it was fairly obvious to me where this was going pretty early on. It was always about Won’s growth and who he loved (both Rin and San) and San who he loved more than himself. However, I doubted myseft last week when I started thinking that neither of them would get the girl. But I never thought WonSan was the end game whenever Won would go talking all about birdcages. The falcons at the beginning were the clue for me here. I knew he would release her, she’s her own free spirit. And the saying is true that if you really love someone you must be willing to let them go sometimes.

I like your analysis about what may have going through the mids of the writer/producer. But really, taking out scenes that had more obvious clues about Rin/San for the Korean audience is just a disservice to both the actors that worked to put those scenes together and the viewers. How manipulative and if I was a Korean viewer, I’d be madder than a hatter. Why does the international audience deserve more than your own audience? SMH. Anyway, I’m looking forward to more discussion next recap about this.

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wow, your observation is so spot on, I can disagree with none, kudos
I start this drama without any presumption, I know Yoona and Si Wan but not their fans at all and I don't even know Hong Jong Hyun exist before this :p :p
and then HJH's acting as Rin captivated me, he could deliver those less words expression so painfully beautiful it touch my heart, and then there's San, always think that the one that touch San's heart as a woman is Rin, notice her somehow more girly and shy around him, went to soompi but even those long essay can;t shake my believe, frankly speaking, those long essay did nothing but bored me. no matter what the end game will be (that time) for me, it's always clear that the one San loves is Rin (I'm stubborn, I know) :p :p

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Soompi is toxic lol. I thought about joining but after thinking that might contributes to severe headache, I decided not to. But I enjoy lurking there. The long essay by a certain member definitely caught my attention at first. I was amazed at the amount of time invested to write such long posts. I read a few but after realizing the demeaning tone used and how the essay bored me to death, I just skip her. I always think that if she in real life holds high position in a company, she must be very difficult to work with. It's like talking or arguing with a brick wall.

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Second everything you said.

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Totally agree with everything you said!

And even though the bromance is fantastic, as is the friendship and the message that friendship and love makes you mature - this is why part of me wishes they had made Won go full on dark and antagonistic. I think they chickened out and changed course a bit.

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@outofthisworld
i agree with everything you said ir relates to bending the truth and twisting the facts. and is one perfect example..

"One recent example I've come across:
Wrt to the bed scene: San is taking a good look at Rin because she never bothered to see what he looked like before. Her eyes were always on Won."
and now when Yoona herself comes with her interview with a conclusion that Its RinSan at the end, poor WonSan shippers are still venting their anger by sticking to couple of line of the interview that San could have left both as she loves everyone.

i still dont understand how people can be this DELUSIONAL that they can't see, read things as they are and believe their own lies. i really feel they are at same level as BY in tkil, who knew everything kept on believing MS will help her in saving San.

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@alyad
very true none of the rinsan shippers ever had their expectations high to have rinsan at the end (during initial 10 epi). but as drama progressed we could feel RinSan is getting stronger day by day... we still had the apprehension abt it. at that time we only needed Rin to be happy and alive(he had sacrificed a lot in his life) so he deserved happiness eventually. and happiness for San with the person she choose, not whom we want her to be.
also if it has to be wonsan then show the chemistry, those gazes, touches as stronger as RinSan if can't outdo it. wonsan should be believable enough for the people like us who were used to getting drenched in rinsan explosive chemistry.
but other ship was (and still IS) denying the fact and everything whatever drama showed, they are still stick to their own loooong boring (still written with hard work) stories, micro analisys, essays... and unwilling to come out...now even misunderstanding yoona's clear cut interview.
i really feel bad for people around them in their real life.

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Second this! I read at soompi that yoona also didn't know about the ending until she received the last script. So she quiet dissapointed that she can't give full "love" expression to rin. So rinsan shippers/hjh fans cannot blame the wonsan shippers/isw fans from being angry or delusional about it. If u look back, they might think that san hold her feelings because of Dan.
U can bash wonsan shippers from being childish because the end game is rinsan. What if the writer make wonsan end game? I believe that there is a lot of negative comments among the beanies.

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I think WonSan shippers/ISW fans have a right to be angry but not delusional.

If the writer made it WonSan endgame, I would seriously question the acting and directing of Yoona and blame the writer for fooling me with RinSan's loveliness.
Or maybe get an eyecheck?

Choosing ship and banking on clues/hints/drama rules are all reasonable. I only get riled when things are twisted in all directions to suit the ship. One recent example I've come across:
Wrt to the bed scene: San is taking a good look at Rin because she never bothered to see what he looked like before. Her eyes were always on Won.

Okay, maybe I wasn't exactly riled, I was more like ROFLMAO.

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You should read comments on previous TKL recaps. Rinsan shippers actually don't mind if Rinsan is not the endgame. They only wish for Rin to be alive (coz second lead in saeguk dramas usually ended up dead) and be free/happy. Rinsan beanies also wish if wonsan is the endgame, the writer should make it believable... as in more fluttering & redeeming acts from won as a suitable partner for san. But until the later episodes, the drama keep showing fluttering moments between rin and san. They shouldn't do it if wonsan is the endgame. So don't judge that beanies will say negative comments if wonsan is the endgame before you check the comments section in previous recaps. 😊

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As a RinSan shipper, I really don't mind if the endgame is WonSan. We have already prepared ourselves due to the fact that Won is the main lead.

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and to bash the real actrees and actor for their roles in this drama just because the endgame not suit their expectation is just ......
Come on, get a real life girl, this is just a drama

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@juniasat you talk abt real life and i wonder do they have any ???

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I feel like I am finally not delusional when I thought Rin and San will like each other since the 1st time I saw them. It's when San agree to Rin's idea and dismiss Won on the way to mountain duta, this is a recurring theme for the love in the drama.

It's not just because of the chemistry but the way it played in scenarios throughout the drama. San is more acceptable with Rin approached, she noticed him for a small detail, she reacted to him and she listened to him. It's not just attraction but also understanding.

With Won is the opposite, she understands him but that's all, she can't stay only to break his heart like she said before her marriage to Jeon. He gives so much that San doesn't know what to do cause she can't grant him the love. It's the debt she thought she'll never pay to Won.

There was a time when I deny what I see because let's just wait, Rin is the second lead and everything can change but I can't say that San does glow whenever she has this small instances with Rin.

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*but I can't lie that San does glow whenever she has this small instances with Rin

phone mistakes, I shouldn't at db at this hour, my bad

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Agreed. Ever since the first time WonSanRin met again as adult,bthere are little subtle moments of RinSan that indicates they're attracted to each other. Subtly.

San is always agreeable to Rin. The most noticeable moment for me was when San spied on the Wang's manor. She was surprised by Won and had friendly banter, but when she saw Rin, she cutely beamed like she's happy to see him again.

Speaking of that ep, there's a bit foreshadowing when San praised Dan, saying she's happy that Dan "will be a good sister-in-law" (for Biyeon, but still)

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I need to go back and watch the early episodes again! When I watched them the first time, I was expecting Won and San foreshadowing and I missed the little details like this.

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I remember that cute beaming smile! She was SO HAPPY to see him, then she deflated when he was cold to her hahaha

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That and her disappointment that Rin took care of Won first. She's the type to take care of herself, so it was kind of funny when she got disgruntled when Rin ignored her to make Won comfortable

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That was one of my first indications, then it was kinda cemented when she fell on him in the bridge scene and they were both gobsmacked at the physical connection.

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that is really awkward, they both freeze but they kinda like it,

The other instance is when San doesn't remember han cheon's name and he had to say it multiple times for her to remember.

Later, San also forgot "you are my 1st" promise, it's not really a promise but how San doesn't pay much attention because it isn't that important for her

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I honestly never saw Won as otp material, originally because I personally found Rin so appealing . But one of the earlier instances I'd point out would be when Rin came to free her from his brothers torture attempts declaring that She was his woman. I know he did that only to free her. But the fact that Won was already there behind the scenes begging Someone else to free her (his dad). For fear she'd find out his true identity, well that was it for me. Rin was who I supported.

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I've already seen and bawled over the last ep, and worked out how it personally moved me, so it's a bit hard to reorganize my thoughts and comment on just these pair of episodes, but I will try!

Love San. I was one of those who felt frustrated that she never spoke clearly about her feelings, which gave shippers more fodder, but then I realized that she didn't have to say words at all as her actions told everything. There is such a difference between how she looks at Rin and how she looks at Won, that you can see she regards them differently, but at the same time, you can also see the love pouring from her from both of them. Amazing. I feel like Yoona did San justice.

I know she has never been a favorite, but she was just so on point, esp in these eps. San/Yoona is somewhat overshadowed by both Rin/HJH and Won/Siwan, which I could understand, coz the bromance is beautiful, so I want to leave this little corner of love and appreciation for San as a character and Yoona's portrayal of her.

I feel like in love triangles which involve a bromance, it is usually the girl that gets the short end of the stick for "breaking up" the bromance, so to speak. But here, we have a heroine who loves that friendship so so so much, that she does everything in her power to save it and keep the boys together. To her, friendship always reigned supreme, and she walked her talk. For that alone, San becomes one of the best k-drama heroines in my opinion.

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Ok, after my little San appreciation:

Love WonRin. Their reunion scene echoed back to the prison scene before, when Won decides to free San and gives Rin a non-apology apology, and Rin just understands and laughs with him. Won did something way worse this time, but the way they resolved it was so understated and was consistent to their friendship. I love how they just understand each other. This is a bromance that cannot be broken by anything, even a girl (well, for long anyway, heh).

Ugh, Biyeon. She best exemplifies how stupid and loyal are the worst kind of comrades because they are so easily manipulated. Ugh Minister Song, I wish his face would melt off in a vat of boiling water. I don't like how he was played so differently from the other characters, he always felt jarring to me. Ugh Song In. But his descent into madness is fun to watch for me. haha

Ugh the King. I think that if he were a better written character, I would be more invested in his love-hate relationship with the Queen, but throughout the series, his character was so one-note (we never really got the sense of how he was as a ruler, just that he liked hunting, but now we are told that he apparently grew powerful?) that this late infusion of pathos does not feel organic, imo.

On the whole, this episode felt sluggish to me. I think the show has a problem w/ pacing and editing, and it showed in the latter half. But the character beats remained strong, which was what I was tuning in for, anyway. But what could have been, eh?

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The king and the pacing/editing of the last couple of weeks are the biggest flaws in this show for me. I mean I love it just the same, but some definite missed opportunities!

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IKR. As it is, I like the show, but sometimes I think what it could have been with better editing and pacing, as well as tighter writing.

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Joining you in San appreciation. I love how she always stay true to herself. I understand how some people got frustated by her so-called mixed signals to Won and Rin... But the show gave a wonderful job explaining San's perspective. She loves both guy (differently), but she knew not how to receive as she had always been to focused to give. She's not oblivious, San just love them too much that she can't bear to see any of them hurting. Hence why she actively tried to remove herself from the equation.

It's really refreshing to see have a heroine like San who prioritize friendship over romance until the end.

Her voice over when she's about to drink the poisoned tea solidify my love for her... So selfless, brave, and graceful.
“I have come across many precious people in my life, which most people cannot even dream of. I was dearly beloved. That is enough for me.”

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I want to hug your comment!!! I agree, that voice over was perfect!

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I binge-watched this for the last five days and can't believe it ends now (do you see my panda eyes?). Plot is a bit meandering in the middle (reminds me of Faith) but ah, the emotional payoff! Forget all the shipping wars, I understood San because she, like me, shipped the bromance!

And yes @murasakimi I agree, just get Bi-Yeon off my screen, and Boo Young or whatever her name is. Instead of Song In's crazy hallucinations, I would prefer to see more flashbacks of the amazing Yuan princess, who was by far my favourite character in this drama (well, aside from Rin, but who doesn't love Rin?)

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but who doesn't love Rin?

This! 😂😂

And I'm so glad you finally came to watch TKL even make it in time for final recaps❤

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