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Mr. Sunshine: Episode 4

It’s a volatile time in Joseon, and it seems safer for everyone to disguise their true intentions, whether it’s loyalty, jealousy, or admiration. Eugene remains a mystery to Ae-shin, and she treads carefully around him, trying to figure out what side he’s on. Their relationship seems to determine how the allegiances of our other characters will align, and it’s sure to be a complicated web of emotions and unrealized intentions.

 
EPISODE 4 RECAP

Held at gunpoint by American soldiers, noblewoman Ae-shin stares at American naval officer Eugene and wonders if he’s an enemy or an ally. She resists the invasive search for the stolen gun, but Eugene warns her to cooperate.

A familiar voice intervenes and relieves the impasse by offering a compromise. It’s Kudo Hina, the owner of the Glory Hotel, and she offers to change clothes with Ae-shin, since her form-fitting dress has no room to hide anything. Hina coyly introduces herself to the American soldiers and makes this special request to Eugene. He grants her request, which saves Ae-shin from further conflict.

In the changing room, Ae-shin thanks Hina for her help. Hina empathizes with Ae-shin’s dismay over the current state of Joseon, though she admits to benefitting from this chaos. Ae-shin asks how Hina became the owner of the Glory Hotel as a woman, and Hina explains that she received it as inheritance when her Japanese husband died.

Ae-shin expresses her condolences, but Hina doesn’t need them — she was sold into the marriage by her father from Joseon. She makes light of the situation and says that she’s clearly an attractive woman.

Ae-shin asks how she learned English, and Hina answers that she dated an English man in Tokyo. She shares that young widows are popular among western men because they see her as the main character of a sad story with a sad ending, which tends to last longer in memory. Ae-shin asks what “sad endings” are since Hina used the English term, and Hina translates.

Eugene checks on Ae-shin once she’s changed into Hina’s outfit, and Ae-shin asks her maid to leave for a private conversation. She barely holds in her rage against Eugene and admits that she misunderstood him to be a comrade. Eugene challenges the vilification and asks if only the Hwalbindang and the Righteous Army can be comrades. He claims that he was on the same side as Ae-shin as a comrade, even if only for a moment.

Regarding the search for the stolen gun, Eugene says that there’s no way to trace the thief, since they found the opened package upon arriving at the train station. He assures Ae-shin that this situation won’t escalate beyond the search of passengers, since neither Joseon nor the U.S. will benefit from this being publicized.

As she waits for Ae-shin to be cleared, Hina waits outside and notices her reflection in the window. She looks down at her hankbok with a sentimental gaze, and her thoughts are interrupted by Ae-shin’s maid summoning her to change back into her clothes. The maid wonders how much the western clothes cost, and Hina estimates them to be about two bags of rice. The maid gasps in shock and figures that her hotel must have good business for her afford such clothing.

Ae-shin’s servants walk alongside the carriage, and the male servant pulls the maid out of the way of the horse carriage in a seemingly grand romantic gesture. But the maid isn’t appreciative of this gesture at all and says that she could have easily avoided the horse on her own. She steps back to talk to Ae-shin about Hina and her well-off hotel business. She comments on how beautiful the western dress was, and Ae-shin gets jealous at her maid’s admiration.

At Glory Hotel, the American soldiers enjoy their first night in Joseon with drinks and good company. Hina watches Eugene through the glass, and the waitress she saved the other day asks who she’s looking at.

Thinking back to earlier in the day when she changed clothes with Ae-shin, she tells the waitress that she saw how he looked at another woman (Ae-shin). She wanted to interrupt the interaction, but he ended up getting closer to the other woman instead. The waitress doesn’t understand the inscrutable explanation, and Hina simply says that she might end up biting the other woman. She continues to watch Eugene with an enamored look.

Eugene’s superior and good friend Kyle raises a toast and drops the beer bottle in his drunken state, but Eugene catches it just before it breaks. He advises Kyle to tone down his drinking, but Kyle needs to celebrate his first day in Joseon. He makes light of his handicapped right hand, saying that he can’t hold a gun but can write poems with it.

Eugene and Kyle sit outside and enjoy the view of the village at night. Kyle asks if Eugene found those nobles who killed his parents, and Eugene admits that he hasn’t looked for them yet. He figures that they’re doing well and vows to kill them if he ever sees them again. During such an unusual time in Joseon, the killing would not be anything out of the ordinary. But Kyle reminds him of his priorities: Eugene should find the missing gun before he seeks revenge for his parents’ deaths.

At her shooting practice hideout, Ae-shin thinks about Hina’s friendly greeting to Eugene and grumbles about how Eugene must be a playboy. Her teacher Seung-gu passes by and gets defensive when he thinks she’s talking about him, ha. Then, Ae-shin asks Seung-gu if he was on the train the other day, and he jokes that she must have seen someone handsome. She mentions the American guns she saw, and that’s when Seung-gu reveals the stolen gun.

She asks how he dared to steal it, and Seung-gu says that a single gun is nothing relative to all the other countries trying to steal Joseon. She agrees and laments how the Japanese, Russians, and now the Americans have all gathered in Joseon. Seung-gu disapproves because none of these countries are on Joseon’s side, but Ae-shin reminds him that he’s on Joseon’s side. She says that Joseon does not regard women important enough for her to take a stance, so she’s on Seung-gu’s side. She asks Seung-gu what side he’s on, and he tells her that it’s safer for her not to know, just in case.

But Ae-shin isn’t keen on not knowing, and she arrives at the school that her friend attends to learn English. Her maid warns her of the severe consequences if she’s found out, so Ae-shin tells her that they can make sure it remains a secret.

At the school, Ae-shin tells the English teacher via translations from her childhood friend that she knows a few English words: “gun, glory, sad ending.” She seems proud that she knows difficult English words that her friend doesn’t know, but when she’s asked to write them down, she has no idea what this alphabet thing is.

Eugene’s assistant Gwan-soo accompanies Kyle in a tour of the area, and Kyle is utterly fascinated by everything around him. A group of schoolgirls skip by singing the alphabet, and Ae-shin’s friend is in the mix. They make eye contact with Kyle, and when he tips his hat, they bashfully run away. Kyle turns to Gwan-soo and asks how Joseon women distinguish colors with black eyes. Gwan-soo is baffled by this ignorant question and simply responds, “Welcome to Korea.”

Their next stop is the pawnshop owned by Il-shik and Choon-shik, where Kyle asks to exchange a ten-dollar bill. Kyle asks if Il-shik and Gwan-soo are brothers, since they look so alike. Gwan-soo tries to hold in his laughter, and Il-shik looks suspiciously at him for a translation that he doesn’t provide. The pawnshop duo shovels coins into bags for the currency exchange, and Kyle ends up with multiple bags of coins, which he finds incredible.

Ae-shin’s aunt finds that she’s missing jewelry and summons Ae-shin to track down her cousin at that new guesthouse, Glory Hotel. There, we see her cousin, Ae-soon, gambling all her money in a game of go-stop. She confidently reveals her hand and reaches for the pool, but a woman beats her hand to win that round. Ae-soon is devastated and hears Il-shik’s warning ringing in her ear: If she can’t identify the fool in the group, then she’s it.

When Ae-shin arrives at Glory Hotel, she’s greeted by Hina and tells her that she’s looking for Ae-soon. Hina offers to escort her to a table, but Ae-shin isn’t interested and looks slightly uncomfortable by the surrounding foreigners drinking and gambling. Hina explains that men hold all the power in Joseon, but these men are always at Glory Hotel.

As Hina continues to explain that all of Joseon’s boys gather there, they see Eugene enter the hotel. Hina notes that Ae-shin must have been looking for more than just Ae-soon, and she tells her that Ae-soon has already left the hotel. Ae-shin asks what these women do here, and Hina lists the various activities that both men and women enjoy here: food, drinks, smoking, gambling, and anticipation in the bedroom.

Ae-shin is flustered by Hina’s honesty, and when she turns to make her exit, she’s met by Eugene. He awkwardly tries to justify his stay at the hotel as a convenient and comfortable dorm with meals. Ae-shin tells him to enjoy his stay and quickly exits.

Hina hands Eugene his keys, and as he heads up the stairs, she comments on the interesting sight outside: Ae-shin and Dong-mae. Eugene asks if she knows Dong-mae, and she explains that he helps on the backend of the hotel. She asks if he wants a more detailed explanation, and he declines the offer for now.

Outside, Dong-mae greets Ae-shin, and her maid starts to write him off as a butcher but quickly retreats when Dong-mae reminds her that he cuts things other than meat. Ae-shin says that she heard of his return and witnessed his deeds. He calls out her disapproving gaze and accuses her of still seeing him as a butcher’s son, but Ae-shin clarifies that she never disparaged him for being a butcher. Her disapproval lies in the fact that he’s a traitor. Ae-shin leaves in her carriage, and Dong-mae stands frozen at her piercing criticism.

Dong-mae enters the hotel and notices Eugene heading upstairs. Hina hands him a payment, and he asks about Eugene. She offers to set up a meeting between them, since they seem mutually interested in each other. Then, she second guesses herself and wonders if Eugene is actually interested in Ae-shin. She notices that both options bother Dong-mae, and she casually requests that he spare Eugene’s life because she wishes for Eugene to ask about her one day.

When Eugene enters his hotel room, he finds his belongings rummaged through. He remembers Gwan-soo’s intel about Dong-mae’s lackeys searching Logan’s house, so he finds Dong-mae in the hotel to confront him about this matter.

Dong-mae claims that the search through Eugene’s room is not his doing — in fact, he was just talking to his gang about conducting said search because Logan’s widow has been unreachable. Dong-mae suggests that others may be interested in this Joseon-American soldier, like the Hwalbindang or the Righteous Army.

Eugene confirms that Dong-mae is looking for more than just collecting money, and he proposes that they work together. But Dong-mae refuses and says that he’ll find it on his own. He warns that whoever has what he’s looking for will end up dead.

Dong-mae picks out hard candies at a shop, and the owner refuses to take his money, fearing for his life. The shop owner flinches when Dong-mae tosses the money and looks surprised that Dong-mae really just wanted candies. Dong-mae sucks on the candies as he walks and thinks about Ae-shin happily enjoying these very same candies the other day.

In a flashback, we see young Ae-shin’s carriage stopped before a large commotion along the road. The commotion was caused by the beating of Dong-mae’s parents — punishment for his mother killing a man. Young Dong-mae watched the beating, hiding behind a wall, and Ae-shin had noticed him.

She saved him by bringing him into the carriage to ride with her, and he asked why she saved him. She answered that Confucius spoke of all lives being precious, but that answer didn’t sit well with Dong-mae. He wiped the blood on his lips with her dress and belittled her luxurious noble upbringing. Young Ae-shin stared at him in shock, tears welling in her eyes, and Dong-mae stared back, also on the verge of tears, hands still gripping the fabric of her skirt.

Back in the present, Dong-mae sits in his hiding place at the tarot reader’s shop, and he hands the rest of his candies to her. She remains silent and her expression is unreadable, but there seems to be a slight sense of admiration for Dong-mae.

Eugene returns to the embassy to find Kyle with his spoils from a Joseon shopping spree. Kyle sports a gat and mentions that all the noblemen seem to be wearing this hat. He asks Eugene what it’s called, and he hears the term as “God” and jokes that Joseon people must always be with God.

Eugene updates Kyle that they’re in the midst of interviews with train passengers to identify the gun thief. He also shares that he’s looking into the companions of a certain woman (Ae-shin), who are probably all aristocrats.

In Eugene’s office, Gwan-soo asks the crowd of train passengers to think about who was on the train at its departure but went missing by the time they arrived. One of the passengers remembers the man who stopped Ae-shin from shooting the Japanese solider, and correctly accuses this person as the missing gun thief.

Choon-shik, the smarter of the pawnshop duo, arrives in the office, and Gwan-soo introduces him as a former government worker who worked as a skilled sketch artist but lost his position after being caught in an affair with one of the court maids. He draws the sketch of the supposed culprit, and Eugene comments on how this person is not handsome. Lol.

Gwan-soo informs Eugene that he called Ae-shin back to the embassy, since the passengers’ testimonies confirmed her presence there. Eugene shakes his head at Gwan-soo’s overzealous commitment to this investigation, since he was trying not to get Ae-shin involved.

Ae-shin claims her authoritative spot at Eugene’s desk once again, and he tries to explain that this was not his doing. He asks if Ae-shin saw anyone suspicious on the train, and this time she confirms that she did. She claims that she saw a suspicious person and couldn’t identify if the person was American or Joseon, enemy or ally, clearly talking about Eugene. She makes this pointed comment and asks if Eugene needs the culprit this time, and he senses that she knows who the culprit is.

Ae-shin insists that she doesn’t know who the gun thief is, and Eugene thinks that she’s an accomplice. She can’t tell if he’s trying to be of help or ruin this investigation, since his questions are somewhere along the spectrum of reproach and concern. She didn’t get an answer the first time so she asks again why Eugene didn’t just accuse her as the culprit to resolve the investigation.

Once again, Eugene doesn’t give her an answer, but he uses this opportunity to put aside his investigator act and ask with his true intentions. Regarding his rummaged room, he asks if Ae-shin is on the side of those who searched his things. She asks if he’ll believe her if she says she doesn’t know, but he already assumes she does know and asks who ordered the search. Ae-shin is offended by his presumptuous investigation, but Eugene claims that he’s only trying to protect her. She asks why, and he responds, “Because I can.”

As a last part of his intentional interrogation, he shows her the sketch of the man that the passengers described and admits that his true intentions are probably rooted in jealousy. He asks if she’s familiar with the man and if he’s a noble. She acknowledges that he’s familiar, but she has no idea if he’s a noble. Eugene assumes that she’s taking sides, but she clarifies that this sketched man was the Japanese soldier who was harassing the Joseon people on the train.

Cut to: the train passengers sharing a meal and applauding themselves for framing the wretched Japanese soldier. They discuss the rumors of Japanese and Russians engaging in war, and the woman passenger throws down her food in indignation that the poor people will likely suffer again.

In Japan, a man limps towards the prime minister and offers a gift. It’s Wan-ik, the infamous Joseon traitor who first sided with the Americans to ruin Joseon, and he offers a precious porcelain piece as a parting gift. He’s been summoned by the Joseon king, and he delivers this porcelain vase in anticipation of their reunion in Joseon.

The prime minister tells Wan-ik about the fifth devil in the road to Nirvana that invokes the feeling that everything in the world is sad and useless. He picks up the porcelain and says that it reminds him of this devil. Then, he tells Wan-ik to become this sorrowful devil for Emperor Gojong by reminding him of Queen Min’s death (she was killed in a Japanese attack) and the screams of that night. He demands that Wan-ik make the emperor anxious and ever fearful of another attack. He promises to land in Joseon in three years and expects Wan-ik to hand him Joseon then. Wan-ik promises to do so.

The young servant girl who was carrying Logan’s baby walks down the village streets hand in hand with her younger brother. The girl has bought her brother a sweet snack, yeot, and she’s happy to work and make money to treat her brother. She accidentally bumps into a bald Japanese soldier — the same one who harassed the people on the train — and she apologizes profusely. Her younger brother doesn’t understand why she needs to be so sorry, but she tells him to be quiet and bows her head in fear.

Kyle roams the streets with Eugene and greets Japanese ladies as they walk by. He’s just about to share his newfound knowledge of Japanese women and their black eyes, but he suddenly realizes that Eugene also has dark eyes. He gets uncomfortably close to Eugene to peer at his eyes, but their intimate moment is interrupted by the young boy crying for help. He runs straight to Eugene, begging him to help his older sister. Kyle sees the situation and reports that a young girl is being harassed by two armed Japanese soldiers. We see that the young girl fights to keep a valuable item, while the soldiers try to wring it out of her grip.

Eugene tries to tell Kyle to ignore the situation, since there are plenty of other Joseon people to help, but the boy holds on desperately for help. The boy’s cries remind Eugene of his own desperate plea to save his parents, and he can’t seem to ignore the parallels. He gets down to the boy’s level and tells him that this is his fight. Eugene offers to help, but the boy must own his fight.

The boy stops crying and nods in understanding. He grabs a rock and runs toward the Japanese soldiers, who have pried the envelope out of the girl’s hand and enjoy their new wealth in American dollars. But the celebration is short-lived, as the boy slams the rock against the bald soldier’s head. The boy runs immediately to Eugene, and the Japanese soldier grabs his bleeding head, cursing the Joseon people.

Eugene tells the boy to stay aside with his sister and takes on the fight from there. He recognizes the bald Japanese soldier from the train culprit sketch, and he swiftly beats up both soldiers without any weapons. Kyle watches from the sidelines and scares the young boy with his unfamiliar English, but luckily his sister understands and thanks Kyle for his help. Eugene returns to the spectating bunch and reminds the boy to fight for himself from now on.

As the two American soldiers continue through the area, Eugene suddenly fixates on a man passing in front of them. He recognizes him as the son of Ignobleman, the cruel noble who killed his parents. He’s shocked that he immediately recognized him, and Kyle looks confused by Eugene’s sudden focus on this mysterious person.

Meanwhile, Ignobleman’s grandson Hee-sung finally arrives at the Joseon port, and he sighs at the scent of his home country. He checks in at the Glory Hotel, where he’s first greeted by Hina in Japanese. When he speaks to her in Korean, her tone of voice changes and she notes that he’s a Joseon person. He says that Joseon has changed a lot in the past ten years, including one of his family’s homes, which is now the Glory Hotel. Hina finally recognizes Hee-sung as the son of the wealthiest family in Joseon and gladly introduces herself more graciously.

On his hotel room balcony, Eugene is deep in thought about the nobleman he recognized earlier that day. His thoughts are interrupted by Hee-sung, who’s out on his own balcony right around the corner and tries to introduce himself to Eugene. He reaches over to offer a handshake, but Eugene isn’t interested, unaware that the nobleman’s son is standing right in front of him.

That night, Eugene sits on his bed, replaying the tragic moments of his childhood while Hee-sung gambles the night away.

The next morning, Hee-sung walks out of the pawnshop and runs into Eugene, who ignores him as he walks into the shop. Gwan-soo waits for Eugene outside, and friendly Hee-sung explains that he visited the pawnshop because he gambled all his money away last night and needs to buy flowers to meet his future wife.

Looks like Hee-sung sold his watch, which Il-shik admires as Eugene walks into the shop. Eugene knows that the two were former slave hunters and asks them to find someone for them. He names the people and puts down a twenty-dollar bill upfront, offering double the amount if they find who he’s looking for. Il-shik wonders if Eugene plans on killing these people, and Eugene responds that he wouldn’t mind if these people were brought to him dead.

This comes as no surprise to Il-shik, as the people he’s looking for are infamous for being the richest family after the emperor. He says that nine out of ten people know who they are, and Eugene claims that he’s the one of ten who doesn’t know. Il-shik tries to grab the money, but Eugene holds onto it to gather more information.

Il-shik continues that there was only one time that he lost a slave, and that one slave belonged to this family. The slave was a young boy around nine years old, and Choon-shik interrupts the story to disclose that they didn’t actually lose the boy. Turns out, they had seen the boy’s clothes poking out of a crate, but Il-shik insisted that they ignore it.

Il-shik admits that he was sitting on the crate that the boy was hiding in, and he could feel the box trembling. He pitied the boy who must have been so scared to make the box tremble that much. Eugene realizes that he was saved by these two men and thanks them belatedly, though to them it sounds like he’s just thanking them for the information. He asks for the location of this family and rides off to seek his revenge.

When Eugene arrives at the home, Ignobleman’s son (and Hee-sung’s father) looks at his curiously. His wife joins him, and they wonder who he is. He informs Eugene that Ignobleman passed away a decade ago due to illness, and Eugene notices the scar on the woman’s neck, which confirms their identities as his revenge targets.

Meanwhile, Hee-sung walks happily with flowers in his hand and peers over the wall to sneak a look at Ae-shin. She’s hanging laundry with her maids, and she stops to think about her interrogation with Eugene.

Stroking the ornament hanging from her garment, she wonders what he meant about his jealousy fueling his investigation. Her thoughts are interrupted by her servant yelling at the stranger peering over the ledge, and it seems that Hee-sung is still trying to catch a glimpse of Ae-shin from afar.

At the ignoble residence, Eugene is also asked for his identity, but he remains silent. The wife notices his military uniform but notes that it’s not a Joseon uniform. Eugene silently walks up and offers his ornament to the wife as his form of identification. The wife takes the ornament, and after a brief moment, she recognizes it and collapses in fear. Trembling, she tells her husband that this is that runaway slave boy.

The noble’s eyes widen, realizing the fate of their reunion. Eugene asks if they ever recovered his parents’ bodies, and he points his gun at the noble, who then falls to the ground alongside his wife. Eugene demands to know if his parents have been buried and stands above the nobles, threatening their lives.

At Ae-shin’s home, the servant recognizes the man peering over the ledge as Ae-shin’s fiance and warmly welcomes Hee-sung. When Hee-sung arrives to see Ae-shin up close, he admires her beauty and expresses his regret in not returning sooner.

 
COMMENTS

I like the juxtaposition of Eugene and Hee-sung at the end, which is indicative of how they’re treated differently because of their social status. There is a carefree nature to Hee-sung’s outward persona that makes him more socially likable, but his acceptance is mostly rooted in his social status. Hee-sung is immediately accepted because of his wealth and reputation in Joseon society while Eugene continues to be treated as an outsider. Despite the fact the Eugene has shot up the social ladder, his status as an American soldier still alienates him from the Joseon people.

More and more, I’m seeing how Eugene’s actions and words don’t exactly align, as if he’s trying to convince himself through aspirational claims of being an American and not caring about Joseon. But I think he’ll soon realize that the Joseon people, the commoners who are the backbone of the nation, are not to blame. He’d been saved by multiple kind souls during his childhood escape, and I think he’s realizing that he couldn’t have become an American without the help of key Joseon people in his life.

While the formal love triangle seems to involve Hee-sung, Eugene, and Ae-shin, I’m definitely more invested in the simmering love triangle that involves Hina and Dong-mae. I find the latter two to be the most intriguing characters so far, as their outward appearance is so vastly different from what they really feel. Their disguises are polished and tragic (of course), and they aren’t given much opportunity to unveil their true intentions. That makes their rare moments of clarity and emotional honesty more poignant, and I’m sure we’ll have more of those compelling moments to come.

I’m cringing so hard at Kyle’s discovery of Korea, which was a perfect portrayal of an ignorant foreigner stepping foot in a new culture. But Kyle’s fascination is benign, and I’m not against some lighthearted jokes about eye color and God. The eye color line finally resolved my curiosity about David McInnis wearing colored contacts, and I’m super amused that he probably needed to wear those contacts just for that joke or the joke was written in because he was wearing colored contacts. Either way, it’s a bizarre detail that I was not expecting further developments on, but here we are.

I feel like we’re finally (read: hopefully) wrapping up the exposition, with our characters’ backstories and motivations established. I’m antsy to get the action going, and the return of Wan-ik is promising to provoke a sense of urgency and force some reluctant partnerships among our characters. Nothing like the Bad Guy to come get our plot moving forward. I welcome you with open arms, you filthy traitor.

 
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THE RECAP IS HERE! My habit that's been gone for a long time has returned.

After airing of the show in KR:

1. Check clips in naver.
2. Watch in soft sub.
3. Watch in HD.
4. wait for recap from Dramabeans.
5. Collect stills and posters.
6. Read articles.
7. Rewatch the episodes till the new comes out.
8. Repeat from 1.

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I get you.

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I also wonder how their lives will turn now that the five are complete in Joseon and the return of Wan Ik, the main traitor of the drama. Grr. I like all guys for Ae Shin. All have their own charms NEXT EPISODE JUSEYEO.

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"Noble fool who lives in luxury" ㅡ is the perfect description of Ae Shin even when she is already an adult now. Young Dong Mae nailed that since the beginning.

Ae Shin is great for wanting to protect and fight for her country but she came from a very privileged background and she is still oblivious about the conditions and views of others coming from different walks of lives from her. A friend of mine put it simply and I agree - Ae Shin is wallowing in the romanticism of patriotism.

She is still rather naive and fired up with ideals about fighting for Joseon, and then we have the other 4 main characters who resent, all jaded and cynical about the country. For her to collide with them who have different pov on Joseon is perfect for her to see things outside of her privileged view, and for her to influence them about protecting Joseon. I'm all in for this journey of hers and excited to see more of her growth ♡ (...I hope this is the real trajectory the writer is planning for her character. Do not disappoint me, show!)

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That description is spot on for Ae Shin. While Eugene has no loyalty to Joseon I don't understand Ae Shin's motivations for Joseon either. She's clearly not willing to give up socio-economic superiority she holds but she doesn't like watching poor people get beaten. So basically her idea of a good Joseon is not one without class distinctions or hierarchy but one with charitable nobles. Basically she's living in a delusion and fighting for naive idealism without having faced any real hardships herself. The only thing I can support her on is that she's a female in Joseon which must be no easy cakewalk but then again when has being female ever been easy.

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"Ae Shin is wallowing in the romanticism of patriotism" - YES! that's what is seems right now. I hope she keeps up when things get ugly. I want to respect her.

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I think the character description: "Noble fool who lives in luxury" also fits well with King Gojong's father who at the time ruled Joseon through his son. The Joseon defences during the battle in 1871 were easily defeated by the Americans with their superior fire power.

The Americans had come to establish trade not to fight. They were looked down upon and so the opportunity for Joseon to strengthen its own military and possibly ward off the Japanese in 1875 was wasted.

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Ar Shin is turning out to be one of my most admired female characters! I love her! Such badassery such politeness! Damn!

Eugene managed to move me a bit emotionally this episode but I still need more out of him. Dong Mae is the man! How Romeo Juliet esque love story it would have been if he had ended up with Ae Shin? I don’t care much about Hae Sung but we only just met the guy! Let’s see what next week brings!

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Likewise I really hope we're done with the exposition now because I really want to get stuck in into the story!

Kudo Hina is the character that I am most intrigued by and cannot wait to be shown her story and journey. She mentions shes a widow and hence inherited Glory Hotel but I feel like theres so much more to her than meets the eye. We do not yet know her goals or thoughts but the glimpses that we have got shows that shes going to be a badass (please let it be true!) and I CANNOT wait for her trajectory to start!!

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The character of Kudo Hina is rapidly gaining my attention too. I remember lamenting that Kim Sa-rang could not take this role (I'm still crushing on her after watching My Love Eun Dong), but Kim Min-jung is knocking my socks off in this role. I'm glad KMJ is getting this chance to shine.

I bet you have peeked at some spoiler shots of upcoming episodes and seen that she will, indeed, become even more badass (brandishing a certain exotic weapon). I am also curious as the the casting credits that show her listed under two role names (Kudo Hina & Lee Yang-hwa). Do you think this is the same character but listed with her Japanese name and her Korean name? Or...do you think we are in for some weird plot twist in which she actually plays twin sisters? Now that would be fun.

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Kudos to Kim Min-jung... They way she's delivering her lines are so well done! I was so sad when Kim Sa-rang replace by her, but she's owning this role like no other actresses and has a really good screen and vocal presence... she also looks very good in kimonos

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Yes! KMJ is simply awesome in this role.
Haha yes I have seen her stills and that is why I cannot wait to see more of her! Seeing the long preview, I feel like the Joseon traitor is her father? So yes she probably has a Korean name which just adds to her background which I cannot wait to become privy to! LOL twin sisters?! Now that would be awesome wouldn't it!

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Yes, on the trailer she speaks to him stating that her hotel welcomes everyone, but she would never welcome him. I assumed it was because he her father who married her off against her will.

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OHHH... the traitor Wan-ik is Hina's father? Now that would be interesting. Here I was thinking that Dong-mae could be court minister Se-hoon's son but that was quickly dispelled when they showed DM's past.

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On the topic of the Glory Hotel and historical accuracy
@tacourtn, @persianrose, @ally-le
I have a book from the Chosun Hotel in Seoul, the first big hotel built there. It was part of a chain constructed by the Japan Railroad Bureau, to give their travelers places to stay. They had built the railroads from Tokyo to southern Japan and then from Busan across Korea all the way to Harbin, Beijing and Vladivostok. The Chosun, which the Glory Hotel is clearly modeled after, actually opened in 1914 and was the only place like it in the city. Here's a quote,
"A traveler arriving as late as 1913, had no choice except for the twenty-eight room hotel run by a Russian ex-patriate. A jinriksha ride of 17 sen brought the pre-1914 traveler to Mme. So tag's Hotel [from the Namdaemun Station, not the one we know today]. It existed more like a boardinghouse, with hearty Russian-style meals, long on borst And black bread, and with less concern for private bathrooms...In 1913, the capital's main transportation still relied on rikshas; streets were almost nonexistent. Mme. Sontag' building was one-story, as were almost all buildings in the capital except for the royal palaces and the new Catholic Cathedral of Myongdong."

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Now that is cool, thanks for sharing. Wish we could see photos from your book.

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There are barely any pictures until around the 50s. It's a book that was made to celebrate the first 70 years of the hotel. It mentions photography in the context of Gojong's elevation ceremony to emperor in 1897, which took place in a shrine on the grounds of what became the hotel (which had been property belonging to the royal family):
"No photos of the 1897 ceremony are available. Cameras and film had debuted in Korea, but most Koreans still regarded them as a dangerous form of magic. Gojong did permit foreign cameramen to take pictures of him inside the palace, but none were present at the [outdoor ceremony ]. The large black boxes then in use for photography could scarcely be used in secret."

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Thank you bb for this interesting material! Mr. Sunshine has become my educational watch of the week. :D

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This is an amazing book!

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You guys, I put some illustrations on my wall.
@ally-le, @wishfultoki

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Fascinating! I never knew that the Russians were such a predominant culture in Korea. I wonder if there are facets of food and culture from the Russians that are seen in modern Korean culture (like the Japanese and Americans have left.)

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I don't think so at all, and to bolster that opinion here's another snippet from the Chosun book. Which, by the way, is titled "On Center Stage for Seventy Years" by Jon Carter Covell, (who is a woman). Never did I think when I received this book that it would come in handy one day 😁
Anyway,
"... the capital in 1913 was only a good-sized city of 277,711 people, according to a careful census taken by the Japanese. This number of people, crowded into 64,157 households, evidenced the 'extended family system' in which many generations lived together.
Japanese residents already numbered 38,397 in 1913, as opposed to what the census labeled as 'natives' of 238,449 with 770 Chinese. The census also recorded a sprinkling of international residents - 13 Americans, 9 British, 9 Turks, 5 Germans, 2 Russians, and one lone 'Swede'."

So Mme. Sontag the Russian had an outsize presence, apparently!

BTW, you can still stay at the Westin Chosun in the middle of downtown Seoul near City Hall, and at their sister the Chosun Beach at Haeundae in Busan (it was used in Shopping King Louie).

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Thanks for the title. I might have to read it now.

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@ally-le I see that Amazon has 2 at $150 😲 Give me a break! It was just a book they published as a vanity thing so it's far from academically valuable. But i sure enjoyed having it today!

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It occurs to me that any friendliness w things Russian probably would have been stomped out after the war anyway due to the USSR sponsoring NK.

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True.

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And here's a quote of the hotel from the ladyowner, Kudo Hina herself : 'All the boys flock to Glory .. (for) food, alcohol, cigars, game of cards, beds, men & love'.

I particularly liked the korean alliteration(?) for the last three words - chimdae, gidae (?), keundae (?) ... which got Ae Shin all awkard and bothered;
and Eugene Choi's equally embarassed rejoinder that he is neither of those three categories, but he is a gundae (soldier). Lol.

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Cool! I would not have known that without you pointing it out, so thanks.

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Liking it so far but there isn't something extraordinary as of yet. I don't get what the story actually is about. There are 5 main characters but we are unaware of the ambitions that connect them. However, I really like how this story is bringing up slavery and class differences in that time. We do get a few glimpses of such an issue in sageuks but they are mostly about the aristocrats and royals.

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I feel like they are dragging out character introductions on purpose because its 24 episodes and there really might not be enough to fit the last few episodes if KES put everything on the plate now. I think this might be one of the longest drama she's ever written and with unfamiliar territory shes taking it as slow as possible.

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Show does a good job pointing out how much the translator and pawn shop owner look alike 😅 I thought it was only me not being able to tell them apart.

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i loved Hae Sung's line, "do you have a brother?"...
: D

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I felt bad at first, but then there is that saying that you have like 7 people in world that look like you. I guess that's true for him.

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So, it’s not just Beanies who can’t tell the difference between those two actors (playing Eugene’s interpreter and the pawn shop owner). Kim Eun-suk actually wrote it into the script! 😂

I’m still mesmerized by the beauty on my screen here. I literally squealed when Dong-mae and Eugene confronted each other in the hotel. More for Dong-mae, but I’m looking forward to seeing how all three male leads interact with each other. I cannot blink or turn away now. And something is off to me about LBH when he speaks English—he barely moves his lips which I find really unnatural. Actually, his face barely moves at all when he speaks. I did like the looks exchanged between Eugene and Ae-shin at the hotel though. That made me think there was maybe something there. I’m trying to make the OTP work here, but it’s taking a lot of work on my end. And Hee-sung might be the biggest enigma of the story. I hope he finds something to do instead of just pining for Ae-shin from here on out. Like, I need him to look disheveled with a rifle in hand alongside Ae-shin for at least one scene. I hope he doesn’t stay a superficial pretty boy the entire time.

I do like that we’re finally getting into the present story, although the flashbacks are well done. I hope KES has learned from Goblin to not overuse them!

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LBH barely moves his lips or his face when he speaks. Like a ventriloquist. 😁

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*ahem* okay, I will be the first wench to say it (and I've been waiting for anyone else to do so!) but I do believe it's all the Botox and filler, etc. That man doesn't look this young for no reason. I've been hoping that the "control" of emotion that folks have been noting in Eugene is LBH holding back and that we'll see his face move later as the character changes, but I'm not sure. Keep your eyes peeled!

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I have a theory: he was so affected by his past trauma that his face froze in shock.

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. . and can only be thawed by the sound of "What Child is This?" from a music box?

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Lolz.

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It will take the love of a good woman to finally unfreeze him and move his face. 😁

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... or maybe YY lyrics to a song from "Frozen" would do it 🤤

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Yay, we got another Disney twist.

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I actually don’t think he’s had any Botox. I rewatched the scene with him and the little boy and he did have forehead wrinkles! Just great make-up artists, which doesn’t surprise me either.

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Maybe so! He looks stretched awfully tight to me! But plastic surgeons in Korea have skills I can't even put a name to. But also great makeup, and lighting and filters.

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Yes, I have been attributing his stiff facial expressions to an overuse of Botox. It's unfortunate and I would really appreciate a more "natural" look. I could be wrong, but LBH seems just a little too old to have skin quite that taught and smooth.

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I was impressed by Eugene's English. It sounded better than Kyle's. LOL.

Oh yes, they cannot cast Byun Yo Han and just keep him a superficial dandy boy until the end of the drama. I'm 100% sure we'll see him disheveled at some point, though I don't know if he'll be pointing rifles at Japanese or Koreans...

By the way, I know they're not buckwheat flowers, but his bouquet of white flowers still reminded me of Goblin.

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I feel like everyone is underestimating Hee Sung. He seems top choice for title of "villian" to me.

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I will cry if that happens (still hoping for a Scarlet Pimpernel)... but yes, he'll make a magnificent villain.

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Hee Sung seems sweet and clueless to me, kind of in love with love, I just feel he's going to die to save Ae - Shin. In fact, I feel that each of the three guys is going to die to save Ae -Shin. I'm becoming paranoid. 🤤

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Yes! I could go villain with him too-hence my thought that he’s probably the most mysterious of all the leads. I don’t know his angle yet, but really looking forward to figuring him out if we get the chance.

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He is my choice too. Based from the highlight, he got something else than Dong Mae.

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Yes, it reminded me of the buckwheat in Goblin straightaway, the way he carried it was reminiscent of the scene in Goblin too, he had it tucked behind his back.

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Yay, it wasn't not just me! That just makes it sadder though.

You Shalalala Kimono Guy song was great, by the way. Hee Sung needs a song too ;)

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He looked so beautiful in that kimono and he just swaggered into my heart....I only write songs when I am inspired. I don' t think I'll be writing a song for Hee Sung anytime soon, he's cute but he doesn't make me feel this rush of feeling. Thank you for liking my song, it makes me very happy that you enjoyed it. 😊

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I liked that Mr Big Shot "This is my great-Grandfather's former residence" already lost his money gambling the first night home and was reduced to taking a bouquet picked from a field.

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My hub missed the first 3 episodes and walked in halfway through the 4th. "Who's that?" "Is she good or bad?" (And other "pause the remote" questions. I invited you to watch with me but you weren't interested until now? Still, (and why I wrote this comment) he asked about Byun Yo Han. "Is he a good guy or a villain?" And I thought about it and said, "I haven't decided. He could go either way or just be a bumbling rich kid for the duration." (I hope he winds up on the good side.)

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I have hopes that we won't know . . . for some time! 🤔

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To be honest, the guy who plays Kyle is a mediocre actor. I could never take him serious in any of his roles.

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I can’t get over Byun Yo-han playing Lee Bang-ji in Six Flying Dragons, master sword fighter and overall badass. There was one scene where he was fighting a whole palace of guards, and Byun Yo-han looked Amazing. So I am NOT used to him being the spoiled pretty boy in this drama. And I especially hate that he’s the son of Eugene’s owner family. There’s going to be so much tragedy.

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I first saw him in Misaeng--so the whole time I was watching 6 flying dragons I had kept saying to myself, "This is the same actor?" He's amazingly versatile.

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Those two are on my list still.

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Oh! You lucky girl.

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He amazed me in Misaeng! When SFD happened, I was totally a goner. I have a thing for disheveled swordsman.

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I'd love to have Hee Sung to be something more than a dandy boy. I don't care if he is good or bad. Just make the rich nonchalant kid thing a cover.

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I keep remembering the scene where his grandfather gave him the watch. He didn't seem to be all that enamored of his hal-abeoji--or the advice he was giving him.

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Yes, and it took him ten years but now he's brought the watch home and already had to pawn it! I wonder if we'll see it in someone else's possession next.

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Re LBH's acting: He's playing someone who is reserved and I believe this type of role is very difficult (because you have to act without showing very much), and the actors who pull it off are brilliant! This is my first drama with him and so far I like his controlled acting, conveying the sense despite his stony exterior, you can feel there's much going on underneath... this type of acting is very rare among K-actors and might be underappreciated with K-drama audiences who used to watch lots of over-dramatic performances...

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While botox may play an important role in the appearance of his face, I agree with your assessment of Lee Byeong-heon's acting. I've always thought that there was something more international to his style of acting. And I agree that it is more subtle than the over dramatic performances we often witness in kdramas. He is also doing a lot with his eyes.

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I also prefer more nuanced actors overall and he is growing on me. I really hate overacting. He emotes really well with his eyes which is why I did like his scenes with KTR this fourth episode. For some reason him barely living his lips bothers me a bit. I think I try to read lips a lot, and he’s really difficult to read.

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Nuanced acting could be greatly influenced by writing and directing style! However, knowing both writer's and director's previous works, I guess LBH's nuanced acting is more his style rather than what PD/writer asked for!! He's so calm and collected, displaying great depths in his character and so far him and Kim Min-jung are the only reason I'm watching this drama (I'm greatly surprised as I was quite skeptical about both of them before watching)!

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Indeed. He's different from the leads in previous dramas by this team: Song Joong Ki and Gong Yoo, to name two, were the charismatic, dazzling kind of lead. LBH hardly opens his mouth and is restrained in his movements. I quite like him here to be honest.

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Exactly @wishfultoki
They were charismatic actors! But nothing exceptional IMO! However, LBH's acting is quite different, he has unique acting craft and style (though he might not be as charismatic as typical K-drama actors)! His control over subtle emotion and expressions is really brilliant! No wonder he earned so many critical acclaims for his past performances... I should watch more of his work!

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I've only watched him act in Beautiful Days, and he was amazing in there. This guy is not your straightforward, classically handsome lead, but it doesn't matter because when he acts, you can see his whole soul in his eyes. He is quiet and understated in his acting, but he has so much charisma...watch Beautiful Days and you'll see how good he is. He uses his eyes to great effect, from cutting scorn to pain to warmth, and he does it so naturally and effortlessly. To me, he's head and shoulders above the other two leads in DoTS and Goblin. I couldn't connect with them, but I can with him. To be honest, I've never noticed his unmoving lips and face lolol can't stop laughing typing that, because when he speaks, kind of drawls in that deep deep voice of his, I am just so gripped. I knew he would be good, and I know he's going to make this drama something very special.

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This the first the first time I can actually connect with one of the KES's main charachters and I think it's mainly because of LBH's nuanced acting!! He's amazing!! I feel like such an ignorant person for not watching any of his other works so far!! Thanks for recommendation @yyishere

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LBH is the best actor of his generation. I also first saw him in Beautiful Days. There’s that deeply poignant scene of a slow zoom to his back - you can’t see his face but only the back of a man who realised he had just lost the most precious person in his life. That 10-second zoom to his standing still with his back to the camera is tear inducive and I was thinking wow if back can act.

It is therefore bemusing to read all the Botox talk here. I gather these comments must be from first-time-LBH watchers. He has a wide range and you’d be surprised at how loud and bullish he could be in villain roles. His A Bittersweet Life remains one of my favourite K movies. His personal life aside, one can’t deny what a great actor he is.

I haven’t decided if I’d watch Mr Sunshine. I can’t finish DOTS (just too fairyfloss to my taste) or Goblin (as I can’t stand KGE acting cute despite me being a Gong Yoo fan).

In my book, the best KES dramas are her earlier works: City Hall (in my top 10 list) and On Air - both describing mature age relationship so well. A Gentleman’s Dignity is a huge disappointment from that perspective.

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I recently saw LBH as a bad-guy in that one G.I. Joe movie. He was good. It sounds like you are a loyal fan of his, so you should give Mr. Sunshine a try. Just be advised his character is slow to develope (thus far through ep 4).

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I have seen Lee Byeong-heon in other works, and I've always liked his subtlety and style of acting. I did wonder, however, if he might have had some botox treatments--lol--but I don't dwell on those thoughts too much.

I thought I was one of the few who appreciated his performance so far in Mr. Sunshine, but I'm glad that there are others who feel the same way. He is doing a wonderful job.

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I couldn't finish/enjoy either DOTS or Goblin (they were good production but something in their plot bothered me so much!!). So far Mr. Sunshine kept me interested, mainly because of LBH's acting and also I always wanted to watch a good period drama about that era, and after being so disappointing by Bridal Mask I hope Mr. Sunshine continue to be good...

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@epyc2010 You should watch Mr. Sunshine for LBH, to me, he is the best thing about this show. I couldn't connect with the child actor playing him in the early parts, but the moment LBH stepped onto the screen, he just commanded my undivided attention. He is just so so good.

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Agree that Lee Byung Hun is one of the best actors of his generation.

I have watched his works: White Nights, Beautiful Days, All In, Iris. Joint Security, Inside Men and Memories of the Sword. He is good in all of these. His acting never disappoints in whatever I had watched him in.

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As the person who brought up the Botox, please allow me to state my c.v., which is to have been watching LBH since Harmonium and Beautiful Days. Another way to put it is, for this entire century. I wish I had started getting Botox when I first began watching him. 😂🤣😂

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Will wait for a few more episodes to see if I should invest 24 hours. BTW I am not a fan of LBH but I like watching works worth watching and LBH’s acting often adds weight to a movie/drama.

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Thank you, Drama LL, for the excellent recaps! I love how emotions are beginning to leak from Eugene's stoic exterior.......it actually took a moment to see that the laughing man in the hotel scene was Eugene!

I am actually great with the pacing as long as we make progress, story-wise. I abhor those becalmed middle/ end episodes loaded with filler..

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Thanks for the good recap. I did enjoy this episode since it focused so much on character development. My thoughts (not in any particular order).

1 - This is my first exposure to the work of Kim Min-jung and I am definitely impressed. She seems to be stealing quite a few of the scenes. I also think she is a very attractive lady!

2 - David McInnes was so much fun to watch. I'm glad he's being given some humorous dialogue and not just heavy plot-movement for Eugene. The "Oh my Gat" line was classic. Also, let me share my interpretation of his "how do Korean black eyes see color?" questions. He wasn't showing his ignorance, he was just joking! Maybe his joke was in poor taste, but it was a joke nevertheless. He is an educated military officer with alot of experience. He knows how eyes work.

3 - More emotion is leaking out through Eugene's stoic exterior. He's slowly connecting more with the Joseon people as well as himself. And he was simply bad-ass in taking out those two Japanese soldiers bare-handed.

4 - The child actors in this show are so, so good. I should have mentioned this long before now.

5 - The announced 'change' to the Gu Dong-mae character (Yoo Yeon-seok) does not seem to be manifesting itself. At least not that I can detect. We are still seeing the scenes that generate sympathy for him, and I was worried they would be cut. So let's hope that this change comes in the form of some slight dialogue change ("Yakuza" instead of "Black Dragon Society", for example).

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I 😍loved😍 badass Eugene calmly taking out the soldiers.....also loved the quiet Eugene showing his protective side to Ae- shin ...(swooooooon:)

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On 5 - Anyone who was worried about Dong-Mae garnering controversial sympathy should be reassured this episode, because Ae-Shin clearly said he is a traitor.
(We can still love him though).

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I liked this episode better than the previous one. I don't know how I feel about 3 men vying for Ae-shin's affections while Kudo Hina potentially tries to sabotage the supposed main love story (though, I don't think she will. I think she'll end up on Ae-shin's side). I'm going to sound like a broken record by the time the next few episodes come out, but I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that this is not (just) going to be a story about a 5(!) way love story.
As furious as I was with Eugene's betrayal. I liked that it was portrayed matter-of-factly. It was necessary for Ae-shin to learn a lesson from the whole incident and for her to realize, that she needs to have more information before she blindly trusts someone. I love Ae-shin's character. She's got flaws and weaknesses. She doesn't know much about worldly matters, but she's willing to learn. And she does all of this, while maintaining her dignity and for the most part, her authority. I really hope she keeps on being a bad-ass when the action starts. I don't want her to be a rich girl who thought it'd be cool to be a patriot and then back out when it gets hard.
Eugene is starting to connect with the locals weather he or them like it or not, and I like that change. I guess he realizes that not everyone was against him when he was a child and trying to survive. Though, I still cannot see him and Ae-shin together. I can see her with either Hee-sung or Dong-mae but right now, Eugene and Ae-shin just don't work for me.
No opinions on Hee-sung yet. All I see is a facade. I want to know the man.
I feel like both Kudo Hina and Dong-mae are going to break my heart. I love them both.

As far as the revolution side goes, it seems pretty tame or quiet or behind the scenes, if you will. People are ready to fight for Joseon, but there doesn't seem to be any urgency. I guess there will have to be an event or an incident for the revolution to go forward full throttle or to light fire under everyone's behind.

Both Kim Min-jung and Kim Te-ri continue to impress me. This is my first time seeing either of their works but I like them both. Yoo Yeon Seok continues to slay me, but that's nothing new. I'm still undecided on Lee Byung Heon and Byun Yo-han

last but not least, thank you for the recap!

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"Gun, glory, sad ending" - are these a summary of the plot of the drama?

Hee Sung's watch seems to be a symbol of the passage of time: past, present and future, intertwined together in the drama:
The past - Eugene and Dong Mae are mired in the past, unable to move forward, obsessed with revenge, seeing reminders of their pasts everywhere in Joseon.

The future - Ae Shin looks forward to a new, strong and proud Joseon, free of foreign invasion.

Hae Sung is the present, indifferent to the past, uncaring about the future. He lives for the moment, and he is happy and content.

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Dang you totally nailed it.

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I feel like the plot is struggling to get to certain point, which seems so unclear to us viewers. so where is this heading, or is it just too draggy? too many pauses (a problem I had with goblin so I stopped watching that one) and stills, it gets occasionally boring :/

At least the osts are good

this and AYHT are the only dramas I'm watching now.. AYHT feels like a roller coaster next to this

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How old are the characters?
Eugene escaped to US 30 years when he was 9yo. That made him 39yo.
Hee sung was born the same year Eugene escaped. So he's 30yo.
Aeshin was probably born 2-3 years after Hee sung. So she's like 27yo. Isn't it too old for woman at 27yo to still be unmarried for this era?
And that makes the age gap between Eugene and Aeshin 12yrs????
I find the characters age not realistic....

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The wide age gap between couples in Asia is still prevalent LOL
As for aeshin remaining unmarried I think it was because she was already bethroted to heesung
They were probably waiting for heesung to finish his studies before marrying her off

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You are right.

In the character description for Ae Shin, think it is stated that she is already way past marriageable age and it is all because of Kim Hee Sung, the guy she is betrothed to, that she was still unmarried since she is supposed to be waiting for him to come back from Japan to marry her.

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According to the mom, Hee Sung is 32. So Eugene is 41, I guess Ae shin is 26 or 28. Dong Mae may be a year older or two than our aegesshi.

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Must remember Koreans always add on 1 year to their age so Hee Sung is actually 31 years old. Ae Shin is born in 1875 so she should be 27 years old or 28 years in Korean age. Eugene should be 39 years or 40 years old in Korean age.

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If HS' mum says he is 32 years old, that would mean 31 years have passed, which would make the current year 1906. But the Russo-Jap war of 1905 has yet to take place! So I am really confused lol.

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Neither is it realistic for the men. In that era, one could easily be a grandparent at 40.

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Actually, late marriage, or unmarried life was not quite unrealistic around early 1900s or World War I. The world is moving toward modernization and industrialization, and this transformation comes in many forms: from complete changing in outfits and fashion norms, to spending nights in hotels/bars, sleeping with woman/man other than your formal partners, gambling, extreme drinking/smoking, replacing concubine with mistress, business women/women working outside their houses, foreign students etc. and above all of this is international war (that made marriage more difficult specially for soldiers). Many other movies/series (Downton Abbey?!) which portrayed that era also indicated late marriage as a part of that transformation…

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I really liked this episode. I am pleased to see comedy showing up in subtle ways:

1) Trope "Saved from an onrushing vehicle" making an appearance among the servants, and Ae-Shin's maid hilariously said she could have stepped out of the way of Cart of Doom herself.
2) The twins joke. I was actually confused about that too earlier on!
3) Kyle being a typical tourist. "Oh my Gat"
4) Ae-Shin continuing to monopolise the chair at the American embassy.
5) The train passengers who fooled everyone (including Eugene) by drawing up a poster of the Japanese soldier instead of the gunner.
6) Dong-Mae's reply when Eugene came in asking if his gang had searched his room: "We haven't done it yet! We were just talking about it." 😂

These lighter moments are important so we don't get bogged down with the tragic stuff and the many looooong dramatic stares.

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#6 was the best response, I was not expecting that.

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Yes! And then Eugene suggested they look for whatever-it-is together, only to be brushed aside... and I was like "is this a potential bromance?" XD

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I think they would make a great team.

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It may still happen...20 episodes left.

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Also a sexy team.

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I’m hopeful, because I loved to see both of the share a frame in that moment. #6 was writing gold!

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#3 was my favorite...I'm thinking about making a gif of it.

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looking forward to it!

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Feeling the second lead syndrome with Dong Mae😍 Yoo Yoon Seok is killing it with his role here, hope to see more interactions between him and Ae Shin! I initially thought the show might be dragging with too many characters but it seems like everyone has their own role to play now that the plot is progressing. Excited for the upcoming episodes 😊

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So far this is my favorite episode. I love how all of the characters are meeting and interacting.

When Eugene said intentions are probably rooted in jealousy, is it because Ae-shin could have other comrades?

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I'm not sure though I'd like that to be the case. To me it sounded romantic, along with "I wanted to protect you"... A romance at this point feels a bit sudden to me, but I'm going to trust Kudo Hina's instinct. She noticed that Eugene never looked at her the way he looks at Ae-Shin.

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I thought Eugene was referring to his jealousy over the suspect drawn in the picture. My mind was thinking that Eugene suspected this guy of being the gun-thief and Ae-Shin's shooting teacher/comrade, so he was jealous of that relationship with her. That sounds like a stretch, so maybe I totally missed it.

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I like that both Ae-Shin and Eugene conversation about romance, love, and jealousy felts quite ambiguous! I think it fits the timeline and the characters' arrogance... I hope the writer doesn't force the romance so fast in the story... I like their growing attraction and the build up so far, but I want them to bicker a lot more, before falling for each other!!

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Thank you for your fast recap.
I think the Japanese prime minister that Wan-ik was offering gifts is Hirobumi Ito PM. He has a distinctive mold on his face. Ito was eventually assassinated by안중근 in 1909.
I often find his portrayal is inaccurate in many K drama.
He was born in to a farmer's class but climbed up the ladder to be the PM. It is perhaps due to his background, while he was a governor in Korea, he encouraged education in Korea because he found 94% illiterate rate is detrimental to the Korean Society. He preached Japanese teachers who were sent to teach in Korea that they need to educate them with their sincere hearts, they must not discriminate the korean students based on their religions and encouraged the teachers to learn Korean during their off duty time.
He was infamous for his womanizing trait but he was also known for his frugality. His house is only moderately(actually rather sparsely) decorated and he often gave gifts he received to others freely.
He was actually quite moderate for his view on Korea, that means he was not overly zealot for Korea annexation.
He was always portrayed an a villain in K drama and movies, though.

As for banning the class of underclasses, the history tells; in 1894 comes with Gabo Reform and under that, the abolish of underclasses were written but the reality was far from it.
In 1909 just one year before the annex of Korea by Japanese( though during the time Korea was already practically annexed thus this law became quite effective unlike Gabo Reform), slavery and underclass were banned and under the Japanese Koseki system( household registry system), they were finally allowed to have their family names. The Japanese government allowed their children to have education but the upper class strongly opposed to this decision.

Basically Eugene came from slave class and Dong-mae was from白丁( Peckchung?) and 白丁 was considered lower than slave class. They were not considered human beings.
I found out that at one point in Korea, more than 30% of the population became slaves or underclasses. I believe that this system is one of the core reasons why the government deteriorated over the years. Only a few families controlled the country would only lead a disaster for any country. Though there were underclass in Japan as well, the Japanese government probably found that this is an underlying problem in Korea and tried to ban the class system even by suppressing the opposition of their upper class. Unfortunately, while the system was banned but the practice of keeping slaves were common and they were badly abused even in 1920's.

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Very interesting post, thanks for sharing it.

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Very interesting. May I ask what is your source? I'd like to read more.

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I am Japanese so many sources are from Japanese written sources, ie Wiki in Japanese version also some reading about Ito's biography. In Japan, we study Japanese history with tons of memorization but never learn how the history progressed. I was curious why Ito was painted a bad villain in K dramas so my curiosity made me read his materials. Some of my reading tell that Ito's assassination probably pushed the government and the Japanese sentiment towards the annexation of Korea more ( if that were true, it would have been a sad consequence for Koreans done by a Korean man) . The annexation of Korea was supposedly decided by Japanese government a few months before Ito's assassination though it was not announced officially. Ito was not for the annexation before but he did not oppose to this plan that time.
Back then Japan and China had a different view of Korea. While China considered Korea their satellite country, Japan viewed Korea an independent country and I believe Japanese suggested/pressured Korean government towards Gabo Reform. I guess Japan did not want China expand their presence in Korea more cause that could have been a threat to Japan. But as Japan seized more power, the situation changed for worse for Korea, unfortunately. Joseon Korea was so weak back them, financially and politically. I often wonder if Japan had not annexed Korea( and Japan did not win China-Japan war and Russia-Japan war), probably other country such as China, Russia would have done the same or similar thing. All countries were eager to expand their territory and Korea is situated so close to those countries. I am not defending Japan for what they have done. I believe good future for Korean by having a good democracy and good financial state is an absolute must for a safe future of Asian countries as well.

Also there are some areas where underclass live in Japan and even nowadays those areas are not desirable at all. I realize the stigma is still here if not openly spoken. Some forced career choices of theirs made them very wealthy and they find themselves rather powerful in the society and sometimes they form a pressure group to protect themselves( Much Yakuza members are from the class or Korean Japanese. This is not a made up claim, i checked the statistic of the members).
But situation of those people in Korea seems worse( in particular Joseon period) so I feel sorry for those people. Their survival rate was bleak and their future was in the dark. I read that some of slaves could be freed, once they reach 75 years old. But back then, 75 years old means an ancient hermit like figure! Almost all the slaves died way younger under their owner's abuse.

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Thank you so much for your thoughts. As you said, underclass areas are not desirable at all. Would you be surprised to know it's the same in the United States? Or is that something everyone is aware of.
You are correct that any small country, as in the case of Korea, did not have to power to guard against the larger nations, especially Britain, France, Russia, the U.S. and at that time, Japan. I lived in Hawaii with native Hawaiians and some of them still have feelings against the U.S. for taking over their government.

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Thank you for taking the time to explain that history for us, it's very helpful.

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Oh, and points to PD and writer-nim for including Scott Joplin's piano rag "The Entertainer" (1902) in the hotel scene, played in swing rhythm:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPmruHc4S9Q

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Nice touch, I missed that one.

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Thanks for mentioning this. I had meant to look it up (to see if it was accurate to the timeline) and I guess it is.

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Hub said, "I thought that song was written for "the Sting." And I said, "Marvin Hamlisch wrote some using Scott Joplin's style. But "The Entertainer" is a period piece. (I hope they use more than just that one song, though.)

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I think it's interesting to see how each character has a different relationship with Joseon. Eugene and Dong Mae are the same they just chose a different adoption country. Ae Shin and Hee Sung are both noble, when Ae Shin think it gives her a responsability to her country to save it, Hee Sung seems more bitter and sees his country as it is. Hina seems to be a mix of all the characters.

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The dramatic staring contests. The oncoming cart of doom. The terrified candy seller. Adorable Dong-mae eating the candy. The amazing child actors. Kyle's puns. The jokes about the "brothers." Hee-sung having to pick wildflowers because he lost his money gambling. Kudo Hina being gorgeous and mysterious. The OST by Park Hyo-shin.

And, of course, Yoo Yeon-seok killing me 100x over. I'm returning to the coffin he has put me in. Thanks for the recap!

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the young Ae Shin was in Oh My Geum Bi and was FABULOUS!!!

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There is so much to say about this that everyone has said, but for one I love the vast spaces where this is filmed. Does anyone know where this was made? Are those fields, mountains and rivers in South Korea?

The only thing I really don't care for are those LLLOOOOONNNGGGG dramatic stares. I mean come on, no one stands and looks at another person for so long. It makes me think they are just filling time. Sorry, but this is my one problem with the show. Otherwise, I've enjoyed the links to the historical sites about this era in Korea and it's fascinating.
Just stop with the 5 min stares and give us more action.
'kay, off my soap box.

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It's a total time filler. I also have contemplated how long I've ever held someone's gaze without speaking when it wasn't a literal staring contest, and I can confidently say -- not more than a few seconds! And usually only in an "oh no" circumstance when you can't really say anything to indicate you have a royal mess to deal with.

As for filming locations, Kim Eun-sook dramas tend to feature various countries and are filmed on location. I can't really tell if the Joseon in the show is in fact South Korea, but if it is, it sure is gorgeous!

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Yes, it is, the landscapes continually take my breath away they are so commanding and huge!

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I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to watch this show on an incredible screen and I’m continually stunned at the cinematography. Beautiful. I’m even turning my sister on to K-drama through this. I’m enjoying the complexity of the characters, no one is whom they appear to be here.

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I refuse to watch this on anything other than the biggest tv screen in our house!

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The only reason I'm watching on my computer is because taking screenshots of scenes is only a couple of clicks away. I do confess to rewatching the episodes on my big screen TV.

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My tv died. But that's okay, the sound was terrible, though I don't care for the score in Mr Sunshine anyway. So my preference is lying in bed with the tablet and stereo headphones, or sit in a hard chair to watch on the computer.

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hmm, i might have to do this to "reel" my husband in... i think this drama is going to be nothing but excellence.

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Watching through my phone. Though don't think I'll rewatch it when I'm back home and the tv is available

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The coloring and lighting is amazing in this and I have watched on my phone and also laptop, but they’re sorely lacking when I compare them to 1080p 70in LED. Really, it’s like watching a movie every episode.

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Yes, almost every frame is like a picture you can put on a postcard, or as they say, 'instagrammable'! I prefer to watch it on Netflix on Chrome, coz then I can screenshot stills and put them on my fanwall. Currently compiling the myriad outfits of AE and KH!

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This episode we see Ae Shin really begin to take note of her ignorance. She takes the initiative to learn English and she also remembers Dong Mae's cold (but true) words when she helped him. Rather than be grateful, he scoffed at her charity since it was out of scholarly obligation. Now that she's in contact with people who have been influenced by outside cultures, she's seeking enlightenment of her own.

An interesting thing is that Ae Shin is the only character who is purely of Joseon. She has the privelege to remain untouched by foreign influence because of her status in the caste system. Eugene and Dong Mae, who were doomed to inhumane treatment in that same system, have either abandoned or defied their cultural identity by joining with foreign countries (and both do so through paths of violence). Hui-sung, like Ae Shin, is privileged but chooses to enjoy the luxuries of Japan rather than stand for the crumbling nation of Joseon. And Hina was forced to shed her culture to become a Japanese bride but now benefits from it.

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What you say is so interesting! That may be the reason why she wants to defend Joseon so much, while the others are kind of searching for their own interests.
Ae shin may have lived a luxurious life, but she is selfless. She doesn't want to defend her "country" in order to gain something for herself. I feel she wants to defend Joseon simply because she loves Joseon, or at least the feeling of belonging there. Which is what our other characters don't have. It is a matter of identity. Heimat, like the Germans would say.

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Yes, she's the only one who truly feels like she is a Joseon person while the others' identities are pulled in different directions. I'm still a little lost on her motivations (can't we just have one scene of her looking longingly at the flag or something? c'mon, drama) but she does very strongly believe in Joseon and its people.

(It bugs me to no end that I can't discern her motivations for becoming a freedom fighter. While she had some dialogue about Joseon changing and not wanting foreign powers in Joseon, it all feels so rote and it doesn't feel "real" to the character. but I feel the same way about Eugene and his incredibly vague reasons for helping her so it's just a writing problem, I guess. The other three have the benefit of vacant motivations being complementary to their character types so it doesn't matter there.)

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Yes, about all we know of Ae Shin's motivations is that she was paying attention to current events via newspaper in defiance of what's expected of a girl in her position. And her conversation with Grandpa indicated that she has desires to take part in government, (one assumes fixing it) which could never happen for a Joseon woman.
It's Grandpa who made the leap and turned her into a sniper 😉

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Right? Even her character arc wasn't her choice, it was implemented by her grandfather. She's still benefiting from others rather than doing anything on her own merit.

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@corkxrew, @javinne,
I can't help assuming that Ae Shin knows the story of her parents and has been somewhat inspired by that while growing up. Imagine, her noble grandfather was the tutor to the King and his son and DIL were Joseon revolutionaries in Japan. Although it appears that none of the family high-mindedness has rubbed off on her cousin. O

In terms of her arc, I will point out that she didn't say no to the gunnery training. That was a significant choice.

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@bbstl (it won't let me directly reply to your below comment for some reason)

That's my exact issue with the writing - right now, so much of what we know of these characters is just assumptions. Dong Mae and Hina are meant to be mysterious and Hui-sung's arc looks like it'll be about growing up, but our main two are really vague character outlines that aren't informed of by the plot. We get so little that actually reveals any character motivation or growth. I know it's only been four episodes but tbh I expect to understand who the characters are at this point. Hopefully we get more character depth in the upcoming episodes. (not that I'm going to stop watching regardless, I've been dying for a historical and I love Kim Min Jung too much haha)

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@corkxrew
It's probably something like, in this drama identities will remain as fluid as the plot because that's what the time required, blah dee dah. Between the Americans not being there at all and no hotel like this even existing in Seoul before 1914, I'm no longer asking this drama for much 🤷🏻‍♀️ Just goin' with the flow.

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Well, @corkxrew (mk), I feel it is unfair to say that Ae shin "is still benefiting from others rather than doing anything on her own merit"

Remember she didn't choose to be born in the family she was born, where she actually quite independent, comparing her to many other women in her condition.
And yes, she has been taken advantage of all the privileges of being who she is, but her spirit belongs to her, her opinion and her ideals, which she has been forming by herself even at risk to be killed by her own grandfather, because she doesn't match with what a lady should be at that time.

I believe she has a great merit in which even not being done openly, she has dared to be different, to think by herself and to do something about it, starting by defying her own family. I am also sure she will do more.

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She has a good heart and good intentions but that doesn't change the fact that she depends heavily on her privilege and what others are willing to give her. She didn't have any concrete plans to join the resistance until her grandpa got her a teacher and she wouldn't have been able to save Dong Mae's life if she was a commoner. Everyone else sees and acknowledges her power even if she doesn't flaunt it. It doesnt make her a bad person or character, but I personally think it weakens her stance as a freedom fighter when she has the most freedom of all the characters (besides Hui-sung, who benefits from being a man) and the show hasn't shown us a reason to drive her character into that situation.

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It is yet early in the show, I would say, to expect more from Ae shin or any other character. I still feel we are in the introduction of what I hope will be a great story.
@corkxrew (mk) let's see what happens later. But thanks a lot for your comments. It contributes to the discussion 😀

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