Mr. Sunshine: Episode 10
Joseon is constantly changing, but some points of change have yet to fulfill the hopes of the abandoned Joseon people. Eugene faces the harsh realities of Joseon society that still treat him as a foreigner, a stranger in his own home country. Realizing his unfulfilled hopes, Eugene takes a step back and reconsiders his allegiances to a nation that never considered him as their own.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
On the frozen river, Eugene quotes the cruel words of Ignobleman, his owner, to Ae-shin as his last memory of Joseon. At Ae-shin’s reaction, Eugene asks if she’s shocked by the inhumanity of Ignobleman or by his slave status in Joseon. He intended to step foot in Joseon and then promptly return to his country, the U.S., but he faltered when he met one woman.
Eugene admits that he expected Ae-shin’s reaction when he revealed his backstory, but his heart still hurts. He asks, “Who lives in the Joseon you’re trying to save? Can butchers live? Can slaves live?” Eugene tells Ae-shin to leave first, saying that they can no longer walk beside each other, and Ae-shin silently turns to walk away.
As she slowly walks away on the ice, Ae-shin falls to the ground, shaken by Eugene’s perspective. Eugene helps her up, and they part ways. Ae-shin thinks about the unnerving revelation in her carriage, unsure how to respond.
The rickshaw runners at Glory Hotel celebrate Minister Lee Se-hoon’s death, saying good riddance whether he was punished treason or killed by gunshot. Walking through the night streets with his entourage, Dong-mae also hears of this inconspicuous minister suddenly getting punished for treason and congratulates the dead man for earning a line in history.
After Dong-mae and his gang walk by, Choon-shik from the pawnshop straightens up from his stiff bow and continues his conversation with the bakery owner about the late minister’s mistress. Choon-shik shares that Minister Lee Se-hoon’s mistress fled his home with all his gold just before the minister was accused and killed for treason. She couldn’t have fled too far, and he wonders where she ran away to.
With her duffel of gold, Minister Lee’s mistress meets with Hina to request a few western outfits so that she can escape without notice. Hina isn’t compelled to cooperate until the mistress offers her a bar of gold, to which Hina opens up her closet. But Hina negotiates further — one bar of gold for the clothes and the rest of the bag for the mistress’ life. The mistress tries to dispute the deal, but Hina points out that being discovered as the minister’s mistress would cost her life. Hina persuades her to take the deal to not lose both her gold and her life.
Wan-ik receives acupuncture treatment for his injured leg and discusses Minister Lee Se-hoon’s death with his assistant, who happens to be the younger cousin of Minister Lee Jung-moon. Wan-ik doesn’t believe that Minister Lee Se-hoon had the capacity for treason and deduces that he was the victim of Minister Lee Jung-moon’s scheme. His assistant wonders why Minister Lee Jung-moon would plan this scheme if he had the banknote all along, and Wan-ik agrees that the banknote was in someone else’s hands. But Lee Se-hoon had too many haters to figure out the real culprit.
Wan-ik orders his assistant to prepare some hunting guns, despite the cold winter and his limp. He says that his biggest regret is freeing the boy who shot him in the leg. He wishes he had gotten his name so that he could rip him apart.
That boy is Seung-gu, and we see him lying on the ground deep in thought about his revenge against Gojong. He remembers Wan-ik’s claim that he’d had abandoned his people and thinks back to aiming his gun at Gojong.
Emperor Gojong enjoys a cup of coffee as he discusses the uses of the banknote with Minister Lee Jung-moon. With England funding Japan in the potential war against Russia, Minister Lee projects that Joseon will take a big hit from this conflict. Therefore, Minister Lee suggests that they reinforce their own royal military forces, and Gojong agrees. Gojong wonders who would be fit for this task — someone who won’t be swayed by the Japanese or selfish motives.
Minister Lee catches onto Gojong’s implicit suggestion of Eugene, who the emperor knows helped in their mission to retrieve the banknote. The emperor wants to trust Eugene with this task, but Minister Lee is wary that Eugene may have ulterior motives. He thought that he had control of Eugene, but in retrospect, Minister Lee realizes that he was a pawn in Eugene’s game. He says that he’ll investigate Eugene further with caution.
Hina meets with Minister Lee at the abandoned house of the late Minister Lee Se-hoon, hoping to scope out the land since that’s all that will retain worth when either Russia or Japan takes over Joseon. She offers the bag of gold that she received from the mistress and says that she’ll buy the house. Minister Lee tells her to bring a broker to officially own the rights to the land.
Minister Lee asks if Hina’s father has visited yet, as he’s bound to visit her once upon his return. Hina cuts him off and claims that she has no father, so Minister Lee drops the subject. He updates her that he’s still searching for her mother, and Hina sighs that this is all he ever tells her. He’s offended by her tone, which implies he may be lying, but Hina knows no other method of finding her mother. She says that she’ll hold onto the futile hope of finding her mother because her mother is as precious to her as her intel is to Minister Lee.
Hina prompts him to ask away, and Minister Lee inquires about Eugene, the black-haired American soldier. Hina says that he’s an ideal customer, who always pays his fees on time. Beyond the customer label, Hina reiterates Minister Lee’s description of Eugene as as the black-haired American. She elaborates, “If something goes amiss with the U.S., then they’ll call him a Korean. If things go wrong with Joseon, then they’ll call him an American. He’s simply a lonely foreigner.”
As they walk through the house, Minister Lee asks if Eugene has any family in the U.S., and Hina infers that he doesn’t, since he has no pictures in his room. When asked about any visitors, Hina mentions the letter from the missionary (Joseph), the fellow American soldier (Kyle), and a recent guest from New York (Ae-shin in disguise). Hina mentions that Eugene lays low most of the time because his room had been rummaged through on multiple occasions.
Minister Lee asks if Eugene has any connections in Joseon, and Hina reports that Eugene seems to know Hee-sung, though they don’t seem to have a fond history. With a little hesitation, Hina adds that Eugene also interacts with Ae-shin, the granddaughter of Noble Go. They’re a curious pairing, but Minister Lee doesn’t inquire further.
Ae-shin dresses her wound at her hideout and thinks about Eugene’s looming question about who can live in the Joseon she’s saving. She also hears young Dong-mae’s biting insults, calling her a noblewoman spoiled in luxuries. Both criticisms haunt her as she prepares for shooting practice.
When Ae-shin comes out of the hut, she happily greets Seung-gu. He asks about her injury and doesn’t believe her when she pretends to be in more pain than she actually is. They converse in a fun banter before Ae-shin asks in a serious tone about who’s the leader of the Righteous Army. More specifically, she asks if the leader is a noble and who can live in the Joseon this leader is trying to save.
Seung-gu finds this out of character for Ae-shin, who always followed orders without asking questions. She says that she was asked this question, but the inquirer and the receiver of the question were both hurt.
Seung-gu reveals to Ae-shin that Eugene returned the banknote to the emperor and framed Lee Se-hoon for treason, and that Eugene also helped their comrade So-ah escape to Shanghai. This is news to Ae-shin, and she asks why Seung-gu is suddenly disclosing this after always insisting that it’s better for her stay in the dark. Seung-gu answers that it seems important to Eugene that she know and asks if it’s also important Ae-shin. She confirms that it is.
Seung-gu asks if Ae-shin found out Eugene’s background, and she’s surprised that he already knew. He admits that he initially treated Ae-shin disrespectfully and made her claim all those hills, expecting that she would give up in a few days. But she’s endured ten years of training, which have given her the answers to any questions she’ll ever be asked.
Then, Seung-gu gets on his knees and speaks to Ae-shin with honorifics. He says that if people discover their relationship and his treatment of her, then he will be sentenced to death for dishonoring a person of higher social status. He asserts that this is the law and the way of the world; therefore, her relationship with Eugene must also end. Hearing this sobering reality, Ae-shin tears up but can’t contest her teacher’s words.
The worker at Glory Hotel rummages through Eugene’s room, desperately searching for any evidence to exchange with Dong-mae. She comes face-to-face with Hina when she exits the room, and she panics to come up with the excuse that she was just cleaning his room. Hina says that she never asked and notices that the worker “cleaned” the room without any cleaning supplies. She summons the worker to her room and says that she better have a good explanation for this.
Hina cuts to the chase and asks what the worker was searching for. The worker denies searching anything, but Hina traps her in a bit of wordplay. The worker says that she was acting on Hina’s advice to bite rather than cry, but Hina disapproves of this. Hina says that she should know where to bite and above all, she should resist even if she has the ability to bite — that’s called loyalty, Hina says.
The worker explains that she was looking for a written note, since the first one they found wasn’t the one. Hina can suspect who’s behind all of this, and the worker falls to her knees, begging for forgiveness. But Hina is tired of dealing with the crying and biting, and she tells the worker to leave.
Wan-ik meets with Hayashi (the Japanese ambassador to Joseon) in a rural area to discuss a potential deal. He knows that Josen must approve use of Japanese money for progress in building railroads, which could be used to transport war munition. Hayashi agrees with this, and Wan-ik promises to attain this approval as the new foreign affairs minister. Wan-ik requests that Hayashi help him gain this position, using the powers of the Japan-England alliance.
Hayashi says that he used Minister Lee Se-hoon as a mongrel, but Wan-ik doesn’t seem too keen on settling as a manipulated mongrel. Their conversation is interrupted by the middle-class ministers, the interpreters siding with Wan-ik, who cross the river to reach the two Japanese affiliates.
Affirming these ministers for choosing the right person to side with, Wan-ik serves his minister guests his hunted boar. He asks if they’ve read any classic Chinese philosophy, and the minister of education — offended to even be asked this question — responds that he’s read all the classics when he was nine years old. Wan-ik asks because he hasn’t read any of them, and he smiles with glee saying that these ministers should be great at writing documents for him since they’re so well-read.
Eugene sees the hiring ads at Glory Hotel, and he asks Hina if this is related to his room being rummaged through. Hina asks if he has any secret documents, and she whispers that the infamous banknote sought by Joseon, Japan, and all the western infiltrators was discovered in Minister Lee Se-hoon’s house. She explains that the fired hotel worker was searching for a document written in English.
Eugene plays dumb and says that usually, he would usually get an apology for his room being rummaged through, and Hina responds that usually, she would receive a complaint asking for a room change. She offers a room change, but Eugene thinks about Ae-shin returning the music box and politely declines the offer.
Little Domi hangs Eugene’s coat as he returns to his office at the embassy, and Eugene suggests to Domi that his older sister go to Glory Hotel for a job. Domi thanks him for the referral, and Eugene asks for a favor in return — teaching him how to write Korean.
Domi goes through each consonant of the alphabet and instructs Eugene to repeat the letters as he writes them. He adorably straights Eugene’s posture, saying that good posture will help Eugene learn properly. Domi even teaches Eugene how to phonetically spell his name in Korean.
Then, Eugene remembers what Ae-shin wrote for him, and he tries to replicate it based on memory. It looks like an unfortunate jumble of hashtags and illegible Korean, but Domi is a genius and deciphers the real message: I missed you. Domi teaches Eugene how to properly write the phrase in Korean, and Eugene looks at the written phrase and says, “Me too.”
The ministers gather at Gojong’s court to appoint the new minister of foreign affairs, and as the emperor expected, the ministers strongly recommend Wan-ik as their blatant choice. The Japanese and English ambassador also support this decision, but the emperor has other plans. He summons Wan-ik to the court and appoints the current Minister of Agriculture to the open foreign affairs position. Then, he appoints Wan-ik as the Minister of Agriculture, which was not Wan-ik’s intended plan.
Infuriated and humiliated by Gojong’s decision, Wan-ik orders his assistant to summon someone from Manchuria. He intends to pay back the emperor this humiliation with bloodshed. In Manchuria, a man exchanges items at a shop in a dark alley. We see that he’s the Righteous Army traitor, whose betrayal led to the deaths of Ae-shin’s parents.
In his tarot reading hideout, Dong-mae asks the tarot card reader for his fortune for the day. She writes her reading, which indicates that he’ll fulfill a wistful hope. He immediately thinks about his encounter with Ae-shin when he grabbed the end of her skirt. He doesn’t believe the fortune and says that even the end of her skirt seemed to cut him.
At Glory Hotel, Dong-mae recognizes the new worker, Domi’s older sister, who used to work as the caretaker for Logan Taylor’s (the assassinated American) baby. He encountered her during his search for the banknote at Logan Taylor’s home, and the girl looks frightened to see him. As he passes by the hanging laundry, Dong-mae recognizes the cloth used to swaddle the baby, and the girl explains that she wanted to repurpose the cloth as clothing for her younger brother.
Dong-mae doesn’t think too much of it, but at second thought, he realizes that he didn’t search the house thoroughly enough. He knows that the banknote must have been hidden in the cloth, and he threatens to kill the girl if she doesn’t spill who she gave the banknote to.
The girl leads Dong-mae through the streets before she makes a run for it, begging for help and banging on the door of the book shop where Ae-shin looks up with surprise. Dong-mae’s lackey throws the girl on the ground, and Ae-shin angrily scolds Dong-mae about hurting his own people, especially such a young girl.
Dong-mae says that he’s never seen his own people helping each other and tells her to mind her own business. Ae-shin asks if she only catches him in these moments or if Dong-mae only lives these moments. The girl runs to Ae-shin begging her for life, and triggered Dong-mae grabs her hair, asking Ae-shin if these are the moments she’s talking about.
Ae-shin slaps Dong-mae across the face for his unbearable inhumanity, and she seethes, “I hope you live these moments as well.” Dong-mae looks at her with a fierce hatred in his eyes, and Ae-shin orders her maid to provide refuge for the girl. Dong-mae says that he lost a large sum of money because the girl delivered a document to someone else, and Ae-shin offers to pay the difference to save the girl’s life. He agrees to this deal and orders Ae-shin to meet him alone next month to hear to exact amount she owes him.
Dong-mae looks satisfied with this deal and walks away with his gang. Later, as he walks with his right-hand, Yujo, he smiles as he recalls Ae-shin’s curse at him. Yujo seems startled by Dong-mae’s smile, and Dong-mae explains his interpretation of Ae-shin’s hope that “live these moments” of the slap as Ae-shin wanting him alive. Just recently, when she confronted him at the train station, she wanted him dead. Oh, this boy is hopeless.
The girl thanks Ae-shin for saving her life, and Ae-shin asks about the important document that she had in her possession. The girl doesn’t know exactly what the document was, but she was told that it held the fate of Joseon. She refuses to tell Ae-shin who she gave the document to, and Ae-shin allows the girl to protect whoever she’s loyal to.
Then, Ae-shin puts together the pieces — Eugene’s mention of his rummaged-through room, Seung-gu’s disclosure that Eugene returned a document to the emperor. She asks the girl one more question about how she came to possess this document, and the girl looks around to make sure no one is listening. She says that she used to work for an American man who hid documents in the baby swaddle. After the man died, she gave the document to a person she was indebted to. Ae-shin deduces who this was and asks the girl to keep their encounter a secret from the person she’s loyal to.
At the tailor shop, Hee-sung gets fitted in his new suit that uses the same cloth as the suit that Ae-shin got fitted in. He wonders who will recognizes him in this new suit. Jump to Dong-mae and Eugene dragging a protesting covered figure into Glory Hotel. The protesting figure lifts the cloth over his head to reveal that it’s none other than Hee-sung, who declares that he’ll walk on his own even with his injured leg. Hina watches this commotion as the men go up the stairs, and she wonders if Hee-sung is injured or soon will be injured.
The trio enter Hee-sung’s room to discuss in private, and Dong-mae first tries to settle matters with Eugene by revealing that he’s seen this person at Jemulpo. Eugene doesn’t reveal his cards, and Dong-mae seems irritated that Eugene isn’t cooperating to kill their shared secret.
Trying to catch up on this secret, Hee-sung asks if their conflict will be resolved perfectly if he’s the one limping in this suit. Dong-mae says that the three of them shouldn’t be fighting over this, and Eugene adds that the three of them shouldn’t be consulting each other on this either. Eugene suggests they address this in their separate ways, since it seems that they all have different information.
As per usual, Hee-sung suggests that they all share a drink. Dong-mae refuses because he thinks he’ll kill one of them if he has a drink, and Eugene notes that he may be target tonight. Hee-sung tries to deescalate the situation by ensuring the men that this suit will be the new fad since he wore it that day, and Dong-mae switches his target.
Outside, Hina smokes a cigarette and wonders what the three men are discussing behind closed doors. She thinks about the three men individually and calls them all fools. She wonders what’s so special about Ae-shin anyway.
At the embassy, Eugene stands in front of the wall that Domi and Ae-shin would scale to get to his office. He hears a familiar voice, and he turns to happily greet Kyle and Gwan-soo, who have returned from their travels.
Kyle unloads his gifts from his luggage, but all of the gifts are for Domi. Eugene gets a butthurt about having no gift, and Gwan-soo explains in Korean that they were robbed by a gang. Eugene doesn’t believe that the robbers selectively stole only his gift, and Gwan-soo immediately throws Kyle under the bus. Kyle starts to go on with his act about the robbers, and Gwan-soo mutters under his cough that they need to resort to Plan B because they’ve been busted.
Eugene looks pissed, and Kyle changes the subject by demanding that they go eat some chicken soup. They go to the inn to eat chicken soup, and Kyle points out that they got bigger chicken this time. Eugene strings together the connections: Ae-shin buys broken bowls from the ceramist Eun-san; Her teacher is Seung-gu; Seung-gu is Eun-san’s close friend; One must ride the boat from the innkeeper’s dock to get to the Eun-san’s kiln; The innkeeper who previously ripped Eugene off just gave him a bigger chicken; Eugene saved the geisha; This is why his chicken is bigger this time.
Out loud, Eugene comments on how sloppy this organization is, but Kyle only catches the tail end of the word (heosul in Korean meaning “sloppy” and sul meaning “alcohol”) and immediately orders some drinks.
With a bottle of alcohol in his hand, Kyle playfully slides along the frozen river and comments that Eugene must have played like this in his youth. Eugene says that all he did was work, so Kyle says that they should play now. He slips on the ice and yells that he loves Joseon.
Eugene looks afar at the frozen river where he walked with Ae-shin and says that he hoped to remember this place for a long time. Now that’s ruined.
In her room, Ae-shin cuts up red paper to make a pinwheel and explains to her maid that she wanted to have a secret signal between her and Eugene. The red pinwheel would indicate that she’s out on a mission so that he wouldn’t wait endlessly at the medicine shop. Sensing Ae-shin’s sadness, her maid suggests that they try out the pinwheels in an attempt to lift her spirits.
Ae-shin and her maid blow at the pinwheels and watch them turn to the wind. Ae-shin looks deflated by this now useless pinwheel and rests her head on her maid’s shoulder, disheartened.
Drunk Eugene and Kyle return to the hotel, and they hear the sound of the music box from Eugene’s room. Eugene quickly barges into his room and finds the returned music box playing. He stares at the open window and says that he’s received an act of farewell.
In the medicine shop, brokenhearted Ae-shin says that she was saving the music box excuse to visit Eugene. She hopes that he doesn’t hurt too much.
Dong-mae walk through the streets happily sucking on a candy, and a mother-son pair immediately fall prostrate in front of him as he passes. Dong-mae notices the garment on the mother indicating that she’s a butcher, and he throws the rest of his bag of candies into the women’s basket as a New Year’s gift.
Hina looks longingly at a picture of her and her mother, saying that she’s afraid that she won’t recognize her mother after so long.
In his office, Eugene asks Kyle if he can be transferred to a different country post and wishes to be transferred as soon as possible. He mutters that he shouldn’t have come to Joseon.
Surrounded by relatives, Grandfather is asked to adopt a son into his lineage to inherit his wealth. The relatives don’t believe that Hee-sung’s family will allow their son to live in Grandfather’s home as his heir, and they urge Grandfather to accept the deaths of his sons. Grandfather refuses to accept his children’s deaths and he demands that the relatives stop their futile requests to adopt a son.
Ae-shin practices shooting at her hideout and longs for her parents. She had overheard Grandfather’s angry denial about his children’s deaths, and she mournfully wonders who she inherited her beauty and shooting skills from. She says that she doesn’t know her parents faces, so she cannot miss them. With her eyes filling with emotion, she asks her parents, “Are you there together? Are you happy after leaving me here alone?” She pleads that they come visit her in her dreams, to bring her to her senses or even to scold her.
Eugene rides through the forest to visit his parents’ graves, and he narrates his letter to Joseph: “I may have had hopes about coming to Joseon — that I had changed, that Joseon had changed. From the first time I saw her, I also hoped to walk beside that woman. But I can’t seem to escape that box. Even though I expected her reaction at the end of my long story, I’m once again running away from Joseon and that truth. I’m running away outside of Joseon, I don’t think I can see you before I leave. Please be well.”
When Eugene returns to the hotel, Joseon soldiers stand guarding the entrance. Hina escorts him to the restaurant, where Gojong is waiting for him while enjoying a cup of coffee. The emperor asks Eugene to be the instructor at the Joseon Military Academy, as Eugene’s aid to Joseon has proven him as a righteous man and the right person for the job. But Eugene rejects the offer and admits he used Joseon to help with his revenge. He adds that he also intends to leave Joseon soon.
Hina walks in with coffee and overhears Eugene’s plan to leave Joseon. Gojong asks if someone in Joseon has brought him grief, and Eugene says that he’s leaving to avoid hurting someone. As Eugene is not a Joseon citizen, the emperor can’t control his actions and accepts Eugene’s stance on the offer.
After Eugene leaves, Hina notes that the persuasion didn’t go as intended for the emperor. Gojong acknowledges this and says that not everything works out just because he’s the emperor. Hina coyly says that she’ll need to collect payment for the coffee, as she won’t let him by just because he’s the emperor.
As Hee-sung eats a meal with his parents at his home, his father tells him to return home promptly and hurry his marriage. Hee-sung’s mother scolds his father for the mindless demands and reminds him that they can’t stand out, just in case that guy aka Eugene targets them again. Hee-sung plays along and asks if something’s wrong, but his parents assure him that everything is fine.
Hee-sung reports that he was captured recently by two men, and that piques his parents’ attention. He says that they were two ugly men, and he sent them off lest they get injured by Hee-sung in a fight. Pssh, yeah right. Then in a more serious tone, Hee-sung tells his father that something else happened. His parents are on the edge of their seats, but Hee-sung says that his father has yet to give him New Years’ money. His father nearly beats him for his immaturity, which he deserves.
Eugene arrives at Eun-san’s home and repeats the same pleas he used in his youth, asking grumpy Eun-san to house him for one night as he’s fatigued from his journey. Eun-san smiles and redirects him to the inn on the other side of the river, but Eugene tempts him with a bag of American beer.
Eun-san complains about the taste of the beer but continues to chug them as Eugene expresses his farewell. He knows that Eun-san found the ornament when he rummaged through Eugene’s room, but Eun-san denies knowing anything. Eugene says that it was a relief that he could meet Eun-san again, and he tells Eun-san to stay grumpy and well.
Eugene explicitly reveals that he was the young slave that Eun-san saved and thanks Eun-san for saving his life. He apologizes for not adequately paying him back and bows in gratitude as his final farewell gesture. As Eugene puts on his shoes to leave, Eun-san says that he received all of Eugene’s payments — from saving the undercover geisha So-ah, returning the banknote, and punishing Lee Se-hoon.
Eun-san jokes that Eugene should have brought more beer with him and offers to house him for the night. Overwhelmed with emotion, Eugene tries to hold in his tears but ends up crying at Eun-san’s doorstep.
Ae-shin stares at the snowfall as she continues to learn English with her friend. They move onto the next letters starting with ‘S’, and Ae-shin says that she already knows a word for that: “sad ending.” Looking off in the distance, Ae-shin says that the foreign stranger already knew that they would have a sad ending.
Ae-shin’s friend looks confused by her words out of context, and Ae-shin clarifies that she was asking for the word for “stranger.” Her friend comments that it’s also an ‘S’ word, and Ae-shin comments that ‘S’ has a lot of sad words. But her friend says that there are also other words, like “snow,” “sunshine,” and “stars.” Ae-shin notes that all of these things shine in the sky. Her friend says that “sky” is also an ‘S’ word and asks which one of these words is her favorite. Ae-shin isn’t sure and ponders that question.
Ae-shin follows her entourage as she walks home in the snowy night. The street lamps flicker as the train passes by, and she repeats the words she learned: “Moonlight, miracle, mister, stranger.” She remembers her first encounter with Eugene and thinks about Eugene saying that he was hurt by her reaction even though he expected it.
The train passes by, and Ae-shin remembers the train passing between her and Eugene when they first met. Ae-shin’s eyes well with tears at this thought, and on the other side of the tracks, Eugene watches her. She continues to repeat the words: “Mister, sunshine.” Then, she looks across the tracks and finds Eugene there. She cries at the sight of him, and they stand looking longingly at each other.
Aha, so this is where our title comes from. I’ve been a fan of how both English and Korean have been used as vehicles to express a wider range of emotions. For Ae-shin, the meaning of and attachments to English words transform as her relationship with Eugene changes. I think that’s a clever way to expand the emotional capacity of the show, and I think that also allows this show to reach a wider audience. The romance lost in translation have been sources of both comedy and poignancy, and I think that accurately describes the relationship between Ae-shin and Eugene.
I appreciate that Ae-shin’s internal turmoil regarding her social class was a central conflict in this episode. Her interaction with Seung-gu at the hideout was so sobering for Ae-shin as a character, even more so than her conversation with Eugene. Over ten years, their relationship has been so established as teacher and student. So when Seung-gu fell to his knees and spoke to Ae-shin using honorifics, she suddenly realized the weight of her status. She’s a blazing flame in the movement, but she’s also privileged with noble status. Though she committed ten years to learning how to shoot and becoming a part of the movement, she still has her social status to fall back on. And only now has she realized that may be her biggest weakness.
I do love Ae-shin wholeheartedly, but I think Hina deserves so much more credit. Hina’s blasé attitude starkly contrasts her depth as a character, which we only see in small servings. I wish we had a subdrama to play out Hina’s story, but alas, her fate is one that doesn’t receive enough love. She plays a pivotal role as the holder of all information, and I feel like the plot drives forward whenever she’s involved in an episode. But beyond being the underrated driver of the plot, Hina is so cheeky and coy with everyone equally. She’s a businesswoman through and through, and no one’s about to rip her off, even the emperor.
And okay, how adorable is Dong-mae? He’s this ruthless assassin with a brewing hatred for his home country, and then he turns around to become this innocent boy who spends his whole day thinking about that one interaction with his crush. I love the animosity that we witness between Ae-shin and Dong-mae, but it’s also so tragic that Dong-mae would never show his giddy side to Ae-shin. That right is reserved for his confused right-hand man, Yujo. Sigh, to be Yujo.
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