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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 the king. He remembers Wan-ik’s claim that the king had abandoned his people and thinks back to aiming his gun at the king.

King 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 King Gojong agrees. King 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 King Gojong’s implicit suggestion of Eugene, who the king knows helped in their mission to retrieve the banknote. The king 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 king 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 King Gojong’s court to appoint the new minister of foreign affairs, and as the king expected, the ministers strongly recommend Wan-ik as their blatant choice. The Japanese and English ambassador also support this decision, but the king 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 the king’s decision, Wan-ik orders his assistant to summon someone from Manchuria. He intends to pay back the king for 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 king. 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 King Gojong is waiting for him while enjoying a cup of coffee. The king 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. The king 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 king 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 king. The king acknowledges this and says that not everything works out just because he’s the king. 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 king.

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.

 
COMMENTS

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 king.

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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I must sound like a broken record by now but that last shot was breath-takingly beautiful ❤ The way it mirrored their first meeting and revealed the meaning behind the title Mr.Sunshine was magnificent and the raw emotions in that scene was spectacular.

To me this episode beautifully closed the first act of this show as it quite rightly made AS question just for whom she was fighting for. The talk with her teacher showed her the harsh reality that no matter what class was still apparent in her society and the end result wasn't as simple as she probably thought.

I have so much respect for EC as a character because he could have easily have told AS that it was her fianceé family that killed his parents but he chose not to. He only acted as a catalyst to allow AS to truly question her motives and that's why I believe these two are perfect for each other!

P.S. Just a quick guess...what if EC turning down the Drilling Instructor role is foreshadowing him actually taking up the role but in a different setting. The Righteous Army setting. Now that would be awesome!

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I'm looking forward to what causes Eugene to change his mind, stay in Joseon and take up the role in the Righteous Army. Will it be love or something tragic or some danger?

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I loved this as well and I agree that this closed the first act. I think that after this one AS is finally realising that she is fighting for a country that crushes people like Eugene, DM and her master. I don't think she ever realised how different their lives are and will be in the future. She can go back to her family and keep on living as she is used to but DM and her master might still have a life filled of despair.
Really curious to see what will make EC stay. Hope to see Hina and DM have some more scenes together. There is a good chemistry between them.

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Such a sad episode.

- When Seung Gu falls to his knees, and addresses her as My Lady, and tells her with sadness in his eyes, "It cannot be..."

- when she finally decides on the name Mr. Sunshine, and says it out, softly, in the last scene, and I realise I had been wrong all this time, reading a much more deeper, ironical significance in the title, when all this while, it had been just a very private, a very personal name she gave the man who had brightened up her life, and it just makes it so poignant and so terribly sad, somehow...

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...beautifully said...

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Question: I don't understand how an American soldier can be a Drill Instructer for a Korean Military force?

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Probably along the lines of Tom Cruise's character in the Last Samurai? (That's the closest I can think of heh.)

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Omg that's the only thing that's been on my mind ever since EC has started to help with tasks of RA. In my head I be like Olgren-san Olgren-san Olgren-san..... 😁

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Historically, Emperor Gojong did have both American and Russian military instructors for his army.

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Thanks. I was thinking sovreignity related concerns but I suppose the situation in Joseon was very different.

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Even though I believe Hina has more story to tell, let me just think that she's a pure businesswoman in this episode. She's planning the house late Minister Lee Se-hun by using the gold his mistress gave her. And she's the only person who could ask the King to pay for his coffee.

I just love Hina. She has too much pain, but she's strong. And I love her gorgeous dresses!

My favourite character this episode besides Hina is Eun-san. He's grumpy and cranky old man. But I love how Eugene told him to keep "being cranky" HAHAHA.

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I loved the poetic justice of an astute, empowered woman buying Minister Lee's house using his own money, and that it was a direct result of his slimeball act of offering his mistress to Wan-ik (causing the mistress to steal all his gold and run away). You know what they say about karma...

Eugene's visit with Eun-san was touching. I've come to love the grumpy halmeonis and harabojis of dramaland who are miserly with their compliments, so when they give you one, it means everything. Eugene was obviously overcome by getting that validation from Eun-san.

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Ah, thanks for reminding me that the Minister offered his mistress to Wan-ik who's Hina's father, LoL.

But the scene when Eugene held his eyes from tearing when Eun-san finally let him stay just break my heart... Maybe Eugene was reminded by this man was his saviour years ago by letting him stay and giving him some foods.

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Yes. There are people from Eugene's slave-past that owe him a blood debt (the late Lee Se-hun, Hee-sung's parents) and then there are people who Eugene owes a blood debt (Eun-san, the ex-slave-catchers-turned-pawnbrokers). Eugene is keeping a mental ledger and all debts must be paid.

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What a great episode!! I truly love the scene when Seung-Gu suddenly kneel down and make AS realize how much status difference she still has compare to people she loves around her.
I’m glad they use a whole episode to address this, because it truly is so relevant during that time in history. I hate it when a show just glance through it as if love can transcend everything. The truth is everlasting love does require some support from people around you (i.e. your village).

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Mr. Sunshine continues to impress me. There are such great, touching moments in this episode, though my favorite does have to be smiling Dong-mae, daydreaming about Ae-shin, despite getting slapped and yelled at and having a pretty gnarly public encounter.

I still feel a bit emotionally removed from Eugene despite liking him a lot. Hee-sung is fast becoming my third favorite of the main 5 characters, after Ae-shin, at second, and, of course, the emotionally complex Dong-mae. I appreciate Hina getting a small storyline, but she feels greatly underutilized.

And the cinematography. It's just so dang gorgeous!!

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Dong-mae is helplessly in love and infatuated with Ae-shin. Poor man, he is doomed. Wish Ae-shin knew this side of him, seriously!

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I'm holding out hope she will learn that side of him. It may come too late, but I hope it will come.

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Yes, (big sigh) after his death, probably. (sniffle, sniffle.)

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She said, "Why do I always see you like this?" If she only knew. *cries*

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I was immensely confused by the change of scene from Hee-sung trying the suit to him suddenly being dragged by the other two. Hah. :D

This episode explains the confusion I had when watching the scene (previous episodes) with Ae-shin's aunt shooting arrows with her sister-in-law. Aunty said along the lines of ‘If father were to hold a memorial for seobangnim (Ae-shin's dad)…’ and I was like, wait a minute, it's been that long and he hasn't had a memorial yet? At first I thought, man, that's too harsh, not hold a memorial for your kid (though in Confucian setting the parents are not to attend to their child's funeral (?)). Then now as those hounds are egging grandpa on, it dawned on me why he hadn't had the memorial done yet—all these years he still hasn't accepted that his son/s are dead. By the way, did Ae-shin's uncle also join the Righteous Army? Are there any indications of that? Harabeonim's reply said something about ashes on a crate, does that mean that Ae-shin's uncle also died overseas? Or was he referring to Ae-shin's parents? Ay.

Ha! Do-mi teaching Eugene Hangul—it's as if the drama has heard us. Lol. And Kyle and Gwan-soo being thick as thieves after their trip. :)

But alas, there's enough heartbreak to go around in this episode. I know Eugene has to spill the beans about his background, but at the back of my head I reckon his confession is also his way of making her step back from the Righteous Army? He knows that Ae-shin is sincere with everything she does—be it learning a new language, or a new game, or whatever—but his telling her of his background and making her question her beliefs somehow made her take a step back and we see that some of her previous resolve has waned a wee bit. Perhaps he did it to slow her down? I know it sounds harsh and even bloody ridiculous, but he could have told her before, not now that both of them have already taken a step towards each other.

At any rate, I'm bracing myself for more heartaches, and action (!!!).

PS: More of Hina please. >_<

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I wouldn't mind a tad more action. I thought this episode was excruciatingly slow paced.

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That scene confused me too. (Was it in real time? Was it a flashback that I couldn't remember?) I told my husband, "I'll just wait for the recaps for the explanation.
Thank you dramallama.

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To be Yujo indeed...

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I feel like the last scene when Ae-shin saw Eugene in the train track was so surreal...

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I must admit, I thought it was part of Aeshin's backflash/memory.

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I loved the lighting and shadows in this scene.

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@dramallama This was one episode I was extremely grateful for your recap. Apparently I missed quite a bit! What impacted me the most was her learning of all the "heroic" deeds Eugene did and she hadn't been aware. I thought it made her feel a little small.
I'm looking forward to comments because I've nothing else to add.

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While most Beanies probably think of the ice/river scenes in terms of symbolism or emotional impact, I am thinking...
1: What kind of rock formation is that with the layers on the cliff in the background?
2: If they filmed in June/July/August (as I believe) what trickery did they use to get all that ice?
3: Are the rocks as fake as the ice??

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I saw bts (youtube) of the rowing but none on the frozen ice.
Since it was pre produced I guessed the bts will come out late

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As a fan of geology, I'm with you.

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They started filming from Sept. 2017, and will end Aug this year. So they filmed the ice scene during winter ;)

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@misty
They're still filming? Oh, no! I was thinking that with all the fan love for Dong Mae if it's pre-produced they can't influence the outcome. But if they're still filming the writer could change the outcome to please the fans. And with all the intense Dong Mae fans (I'm not a fan) I'm afraid.

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I think they must still be filming because they have made changes due to criticism.... that's one of the reasons I thought it wasn't pre-produced.

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It's reported that KES completed last episode around at the end of July this year, due to the fact that permit to use guns ends on July too. So, I don't think big change could be made at this point. DongMae is attractive character but his attraction is also very much planned by KES, so switching that could ruin his character. We'll see.

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I hope you're right!

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No changes please. Let the drama runs it course.

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I don't think they're still filming but in one of video interview, one of the main cast said they did filming in 4 seasons.

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I am not a DM fan either. I have no sympathy for his chairacter. I get that being the son of a butcher is just not fair but bullying children and working for the japanese as a street thug, how revolting. Just because he is handsome and has a qurky charm it does not redeem him in any way, in fact it makes him more creepy. I dont want to know about his romantic feelings because of the way the Japanese treated women, thank you very much. Yuk. I have been witholding judgement on the Japanese apologist issue because I love this writter but I have to say this is totaly tone deaf. The Age of Shadows handles the traitior mind set with more craft. Oh I hope this pulls together but that would be a " facsinating event" wouldnt it.

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I may certainly be wrong but I believe the rocks are granite. In several documentaries/reports I've seen over the years, it's often mentioned that many of the rock formations in South Korea are granite. In this drama, whatever these particular rock formations are, they are impressive.

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Why does Eugene has his name embroidered top right pocket yet Kyle has none.

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Good thing Eugene didn't change rooms knowing that AS might visit, but coming home to the music box playing in a dark empty room was so heart-breaking.

I'm curious as to why HS was dragged up the stairs, especially since it looked like they were up to something.

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I believe because they recognized the (Ae-Shin's) suit...

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I hadn't thought of that!

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And so the trope of the mismatched social class rears its ugly (but inevitable) head. We all sort of knew this was coming for Eugene and Ae-Shin, right? Now the question is: will this only be a romantic setback or are they done as a couple? I have said previously that I still doubted they were the OTP of this show. My doubts were still there even after the joy of episode 9, and now they are stronger than ever. I really can see these two adjusting their relationship to one of just comrades, with the secret knowledge that they could have been more, and perhaps were more in another life.

I may be in the minority here, but I'll go ahead and say it: I'm fine with them breaking up. Even if it is a permanent break up. They always were taking this exploration of "love" in careful steps anyway, right? The steps have not gone beyond a hug, so now is the best time to end it.

Honestly, I'd much rather see Eugene begin a relationship with Kudo Hina. I can see those two generating a cool "Bogart & Bacall"-like vibe that would definitely rock the Glory Hotel. I'd also be content if Eugene simply becomes the tragic stag male for the rest of the show. Bear with me on this, fellow beanies, I promise to elaborate more on why I feel this way in future commentary.

Social class distinctions in Joseon during this time period are now such a critical plot point that I want to share some information on it. I was really struggling to understand the scene where Jang Seung-gu tells Lady Ae-Shin that by law, their differences in social class prohibit their informal interaction. This is a critical scene, because Seung-gu's words also apply to Eugene's relationship to Ae-Shin. I was stuck on the "by law" words when I read in the subtitles. Whoa, what about the Gabo reforms that we saw instituted in an earlier episode? A key part of those reforms abolished social class distinctions. So why did Seung-gu say that? Was this just another of KES's deviations from real history? Was the English subtitle mistranslated? I posted these questions on my fan wall with images from that scene which showed the dialogue.

@misty came to my rescue and replied with some great historical background information. She explained that the Gabo reforms abolishing the social classes were still largely ignored in 1903. That historical fact, coupled with some poorly-written (or possibly poorly translated) dialogue spoken by Seung-gu, led to my confusion. Suffice it to say that informal interaction between different social classes was still taboo in 1903 Korea. So the low accuracy grade I had given to this scene was erroneous; it actually showed high accuracy.

In her reply, @misty also shared an interesting scenario of how Eugene and Ae-Shin could still possibly be together as a couple. However, it seems like a hard path, and one that will require sacrifice.

I think that we may begin to see that Hee-sung was the only realistic contender for...

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(continued...) I think that we may begin to see that Hee-sung was the only realistic contender for Ae-Shin's hand all along. The other two never had a chance due to their low social status. The real interesting part will be if Ae-Shin herself comes to accept this as fact. I'm thinking she may, as long as she can make a deal with Hee-sung that allows her to keep her role as an agent provocateur for the Righteous Army.

Meanwhile, we were treated to more scenes with Kim Min-jung. This is what I've been missing. She (and her mysterious off-screen mother) may be one of the last mysteries of this show. I'm savoring each of her scenes like I do when I'm watching a good Victorian noir movie (which reminds me, I'm in awe of the vast wardrobe she seems to have). It seems she may be one of the pivotal characters in the later episodes, and I can't wait to see where she takes us. My guess is that the fate of her mother may be the final event that pushes her to firmly support one faction over the others, but which one?

The beer-drinking scene with Eugene and Hwang Eun-san was wonderful, even down to the authenticity of the American Bock Beer bottle labels. Lee Byung-hun had me teary-eyed. But the scene also worried me. Eugene received the acknowledgement and closure he needed from Eun-san. He also got closure with his successful revenge on Lee Se-hun. With those emotional closures, he can rationalize it is time to leave Joseon - especially when it will also allow him to heal from the pain of losing Ae-Shin. He must be entertaining at least some of these feelings since he asked Kyle for a transfer to another post. We must hope that Kyle doesn't move too fast on his request for transfer! I am wondering if it is possible that we will see Eugene leave Hanseong for a couple of episodes before returning? I would find that interesting, as long as they showed us what he is doing. I'd like to see him reunite with Joseph, and perhaps monitor the Russo-Japanese war. Having Eugene away from Hanseong for a few episodes would also clear the way for the story to focus more on Ae-Shin's involvements with Hee-sung and Dong-mae.

I am saving Gu Dong-mae for last, because (in my humble opinion) he was the standout character in episode 10. His scenes were just electrifying. Yoo Yeon-seok continues to dazzle me with this performance. How can I actually believe he's charming and terrifying at the same time? It's weird but I do! I have watched the scenes of his abduction of the maid and his later confrontation with Lady Ae-Shin multiple times now, and I still feel his evil charm each time. This character is so wonderfully dark and complex. You want to hate him, but can't. Especially when he gives free gobstoppers to poor butchers he passes on the street.

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Yeah, but ya know, the title is still "Mr. Sunshine".

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Yes, but sunshine only gives its warmth and light from a distance. It cannot be held or possessed.

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I think I can see it going both ways. I can see AS ending up with Eugene, but I can also see him as a temporary, yet memorable figure in her life. I can also see him dying, and her thinking back on him and their time together (while married to someone else), and maybe even making a title drop in the last line of the drama. That would really sad though :')

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Similarly, due to this class issue, it has been a while that I've had that niggling feeling that HS might be the one she settles with, though may not be for love. I haven't said it out loud until now that you mentioned it. It could go either way e.g. she may just keep her feelings for all of them deep in her heart and not be with anyone. Or she can choose to be with Eugene till the very end come what may. They are in too deep now... we will be seeing a lot of longing looks from these two in upcoming episodes, unless the course has been decided for the second option, e.g. to stick together. The drama is gearing towards a sad ending indeed. Mr. Sunshine can either leave for another war for US or stay and die fighting for Joseon. That 3 flashbacks in previous ep may indeed be a hint of what may transpire in the near future. Thank you for a good read Tim.

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Exactly. I admit that I nit-pick KES's writing but I must also give her credit for this entralling story. Here we are almost at the mid-way point, and we still can see so many possibilities for how this could play out. All of these possibilities feed our imaginations, and prove we have an emotional investment in this show.

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Great review! As a team Eugene member, I feel Aeshin is too headstrong to settle down with HS. Especially HS has not been broken out of his shell yet.

Also there are possibilities not yest explored, such as

1. King can elevate slave's social status and gives him title.
2. They can elope to manchuria and both become freedom fighter after annexation.

We'll see what KES will bring us ;)

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Yes, thanks for sharing your scenarios here, I didn't want to steal your thunder, and my reply above was super long already.

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I think it is a strong possibility that Ae-Shin's grandpa will adopt EC and make him his heir. We've already seen that grandpa has helped finance the Righteous Army and runs a household that would inspire both a son and a granddaughter to want to fight for that cause. This tells me that he might not hold too tightly to social class being a strict measure of a man's worth. If he adopts EC (which it was discussed that AS's husband could become the heir), all social roadblocks to the relationship between EC and AS are removed.

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Another good scenario, thanks.

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But if AS's grandfather adopts EC, then AS and EC would be family and then, how could they get married? I know that has been a problem in other k-dramas. For instance in Nine time travels, during one of the time-line changes, the couple become (step) uncle and niece, and the fact that they could be attracted to each other was considered a big scandal.

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For that to happen,

1. king elevates Eugene's status and gives a title. (to fit AS's family status)
2. AS marries EC and EC becomes a heir to AS's grandfather as AS's husband.

This would be the best possible traditional solution. Adoptions as AS's grandpa's son prohibits EC marrying AS like Isabel said.

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Ya know, @Tim, when you were expressing doubt about LBH being part of the OTP, I kept fondly and condescendingly thinking "Poor dear, must not have been around Kdrama too long", but I gotta say that what you've outlined in this post has me having my doubts.
I'm seesawing with :

see) Perhaps writer Kim Eun sook is going for a more serious story than she has in the past. Her names big enough and the production is so big and about such a serious time period that maybe she can afford to leave us in tears this time?

saw) It's Kim Eun sook! When had she ever left us with anything less than a happy ending?

see) the very nature of the time period and the class distinction means Eugene/Aeshin cannot have a happy ending

saw) That's no way after the production landing a HUGE star like Lee Byun hun would they kill him or send him off alone.

see) but if they can't kill LBH, they could kill Aeshin.

I'm stuck in an endless game of tic tac toe until we get an actual ending.

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Hehehe..sowing doubts now, am I? Well, I am still a k-drama newbie and I bring an American male's perspective to my comments, so you will sometimes read some off-the-wall stuff from me. My conjecture of the Eugene/Ae-Shin pairing might be one of them.

But I could still see KES doing something very different here. @ally-le gave me an idea when she mentioned that "Act II is about to begin". I could envision the story shifting now in this next act. Ae-Shin was interested in Eugune up until episode 9-10. Now she will Ae-Shin beginning to evolve a relationship with Dong-mae (or possibly Hee-sung, but Dong-mae seems the most likely right now). This relationship will last a few episodes. Then finally, she will move on and have a relationship with Hee-sung. But will Hee-sung win out? I could see us left hanging up until the final episode not knowing which guy will end up with Ae-shin. Perhaps after all the trials ahead for the Righteous Army, circumstances will drive Ae-shin back into the arms of Mr. Sunshine.

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I've has some time to come to my Kdrama senses, and I don't think Aeshin will stray too far, for too long, from Eugene because that would make her not-the-heroine if prejudices keep her from loving someone. I know what you've described is more realistic but... *in full 300 Sparta voice*
THIS... IS... K-DRAMA! 😁

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Immigrate to America maybe? My grandparents had a similar issue and eloping to America worked out great for them. They did vey well and everybody got over it in time.

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as for fate of Hina's mother, her mother might have died long time ago and Minister Lee hides the fact from her so that she can continue to work for him. But if the truth revealed, she would do something very damaging to Joseon, I am afraid. Other plot that I can think is that Hina's mother left her evil dad or was forced to divorce from him, then somehow later on her mom met Ae-shin's dad and as a result, she gave birth to Ae-Shin. Is it possible? I am not sure, but if that were the case Hina and Ae-Shin are sisters and that might be an interesting plot twist.

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Wow that is a great plot twist! Sisters!

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I will be very surprised (albeit impressed) if the writers take a different approach to this.
If AS was not so rooted to the Joseaon's fight, she might have left the country with Eugene and it will be a happy end for them.
But with the way things are, we know that is not happening.

I too feel she is more suited to Hee-sung. They both grew up in similar backgrounds, they both are kindred souls and passionate people (though about different things right now). I think they would be able to make a difference together. I am really invested in HS's character. I want to see him becoming 'great' when he chooses to do something. I believe him.

But alas, dramaland is different. So I am prepared for some noble idiocy or lost-love/unrequited love/dying for love stuff.

Personally, i want relationships to be defined based on the 'greater good'. The fight is real and is a historical turning point in the country. I want to see how circumstances define people and their relationships.

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I'm absolutely floored by your interpretation - what a lovely thing to read! I felt like this was everything I was thinking, but much more nicely organized.

I too am kind of thinking that HS is the only realistic option even if I don't necessarily ship them. Especially since I do enjoy their scenes together as well. I might elaborate more on this in a later comment, but I don't think that AS and Eugene have a lot of long term potential, purely based on what I've seen so far.

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Rather than focussing on who the end-game OTP is, I’m just hopeful that everyone sees the other for who they truly are before the inevitable tragedy coming. Some or all these main characters will die, and I’ll be here nursing a broken heart, because I’m pretty sure the butcher’s son must pay for his crimes and he’s still a butcher’s son, lower than a slave, without a chance in hell of ever having his love reciprocated. 😢

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Probably so. I will say this: considering how well the character of Dong-mae has been written so far, I fully expect (nay, demand) that his death scene be written as an epic event!

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We can focus on both~ ;)

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And he is after all, a criminal and a traitor. He was never inspired by As's kindness and understanding "that every life is precious" and by becoming a better person. No, he went to Japan to goon school. Jus sayin

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While I hope Hee Sung is the end game, Third Lead Syndrome has never been easy. The rules of kdramaland dictate that the first lead gets the girl (on the rare ocasion, the second lead, but I don’t see that happening here).

But apart from OTP speculations, the most important thing to discuss is the awesomeness of Kudo Hina’s wardrobe. I do not blame a runaway girl with a bag of gold for trying to buy one of those dresses as a first stop. I want that red velvet dress. and I’m not even the kind that dresses up!

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Yes, indeed and the hats are so becoming to her. I also like the Kimonos that the deaf fortune tell wears.

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Thanks for enlighten me Tim!
My poor hearteu, I have to prepare myself for the possibility of sinking ship.
I'm watching K-drama mostly for the romance, LOL, don't judge me 😂

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@tacourtn I join you in the minority group. I'm also ok with Eugene and Ae-shin breaking up ..... and if it's permanent, then so be it. With what we've seen thus far, it makes sense and it's not some unbeliveable, far-fetched outcome. This being said, I'm well aware this is a kdrama after all and who knows what will really happen. I'll continue to look forward to what's in store for us and for these very interesting characters.

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Yes, slavery did not completely disappear in Korea until 1930, during Imperial Japanese rule! Regardless of the LAW, aristocracy and social status gap is still prevailing in South Korea!: " today, the yangban have been replaced by the Korean ruling class, i.e., an elite class of business and government elites, who dominate the country through their wealth, power and influence channeled through their familial and social networks."
No wonder it's maddening for SK people to see some of their misery was as a result of the cruelty of yangban families and slavery (and not entirely the foreigners faults)!!

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I love that the writer was brave enough to bring up these inner class problems as well as foreign interventions - both have made Joseon weak. “What Joseon are you fighting for, Ae-Shin?” It’s the question I was hoping the drama would ask, not shying away from the ugly truth of Joseon society. I am confident that Ae-Shin will find an answer and become even more awesome than she already is.

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Sad but true. It is a contradiction, Korean people value education, they are moral , polite and sophisticated, being prejudiced doesnt fit.
It reduces productivity by shrinking the talent pool to only the chosen. Well a 100 years is a short time when you think of the history of ideas. If anyone can overcome a bad situation it is the Korean people. I have faith.

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OMG. I definitely missed a lot in this episode but thank god for these recaps! I don't know why I was so attacked emotionally by Eugene helping Ae-shin up at the very beginning of the episode. I don't really even ship the two together but i replayed his hand and her hand and their hands together like 38947239 times. I don't even know why that got me so hard.

Also: "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."

HAHAHAHAH. Dong-mae is such a foolish piece of shit honestly. I can't stand him in the slightest but also I love him? And maybe that's a testament to how much I love those 'misunderstood' bloodthirsty villains (ie Draco Malfoy). But regardless, he is such a fool and being Yujo must be a wild ride.

The reveal of the name--Mr. Sunshine--was so small but so moving. I really wondered why on earth this drama was named that but now I see. Language, learning it, and translating it is fascinating and ripe with dramatic opportunity and I love the way that the drama utilizes it.

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Wow, 38947239 times. LOL.

I also have a love-hate a relationship with Dong-mae, I think he is super cool but also a jerk.

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1.) The fierceness with which YYS plays Dong-mae is electric. I'd fear Dong-mae in real life but watching him on the screen is mesmerizing. It's hard to believe that this is the same actor who played sweetheart Chilbongie.
2.) Since when does Yujo speak Korean? And I hope that Yujo doesn't think Dong-mae is getting soft and turn on him?
3.) I was waiting for AS to find out about Eugene's background and how everything would hit the fan when she did.
4.) Eun-san and Eugene together are so adorable.
5.) But by and far my favorite scenes are when our 3 male leads are together. It's hilarious the way they threaten each other with every other breath.

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That fierceness actually makes mr think of animated Samurai. The way he moves is "big". And honestly, other than animated characters, I've never seen a real person run in those Japanese thong-type slippers but during the chase of Aeshin, he was moving and all I could think is "like animae!"

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Yoo Yeon Seok always had his way to creep into our heart. Even i know it will be hurt, but i can't help by loving and shipping him. I know he was a beast, but life made him that way.

Here i am suffering from another severe Second Lead Syndrome (or is it Third Lead Syndrome?), as If Chil Bong's case didn't hurt me enough. This syndrome as severe as
Reply 1994, Reply 1988, Live, The Heirs, Kill Me Heal Me (I ship the main lead with Shin Se Gi, the main lead other personality. Is it still considered as second lead though? or with Oh Ri On), Go Back Couple Sungkyungkwan Scandal, School 2015,

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Sounds like you need an intervention for your SLS! That’s a lot of dramas to fall for the wrong guy! On second thought, if the girl doesn’t want them, they all can come to you!

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Well, those aren't considered that many compared to dramas that i've escaped SLS from.
Except Reply 1988, i knew that they are the wrong guy, but i can't help drawn into and cheering for them.
Well, my heart can not stand those hotties come to me XD so, I usually just imagining another new love story for them so i can move on (especially for Jung Pal).

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A beast yes, but a SEXY BEAST! RAWR!

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A sexy beast that sometimes turn into a puppy because of love XD

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I suffered from all the second lead syndromes like you did except for the Reply series (I SEEM TO NAIL ALL OF THEM RIGHT and my fav is Taek because he’s initially the second lead, sort of xD )

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This elpisode left me with a lump in my throat, so I know if this show doesn't end on a happy note for Eugene, I will be so, so sad. Kim Eun-sook, I didn't sign up for a tragedy! I came for romance, and a bit of history!! As for the OTP having to overcome obstacles and their love not being realistic, dramaland is completely about love strong enough to overcome everything, even death, realistic or not. So I will suspend my disbelief and accordingly expect a happy ending.

I was one who used to be dissatisfied that we haven't explored Kudo Hina's character, but if we keep her a flat, mysterious character and only unveil these flashes of her brilliance, astuteness, and badassery, I will be content. These glimpses into her hidden layers are more than enough for me.

I have been reading brilliant analyses from other people who've been watching the drama (seriously, some of these theories are so rich and detailed, and clever), and I am so afraid not all of our main characters will make it. Gahhhhhhh.

I am ready for the next act, and excited to see where we go from here.

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Since this drama is a story about Righteous Army (and them being underrecognized through history) i'm thinking at some point all of the three men might do something for Joseon. None of them were introduced as a fighter for Joseon. And this drama might be a story of them becoming one. I can totally imagine Dong-mae's being 'evil' throughout the whole drama but his last act being in the name of Joseon... As for Hee-sung - in a comment section under ep. 9 someone pointed out, that we never now what he might actullay hide under his mask (he's maybe already with Righteous Army). Well, and Eugene is the main lead so he is destined to be pro-Joseon;)
I believe this period in the history might be more of a taboo for Koreans or not something to rememeber brightly (please correct if that is not the case), so i think the ending will be on the light side. Even if some them die, they will while doing something noble...
(i woudn't mind for the ending being more on the dark/sad side;))

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What do you think about the scene where Ae-shin is using her status to save the girl from Dong-mae?? So, she is using it for the good cause, but is it still ok? And also, if not for her status, slapping someone like Dong-mae would be a death sentance. Is with slapping Ae-shin abusing/using her noble statuts or is she abusing/using Donge-mae's particular debt of him owning her?

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I must admit I'm fairly disappointed in how readily Ae-shin turned away from Eugene after finding out his status. Is she unsettled by the fact that he is the child of slaves at all? Uncomfortable in her complicity as a noble or ashamed that she's fighting for and recruiting Eugene to fight for a Joseon that abandoned him? Or is it a combination of everything?

I've noticed that Ae-shin now walks alongside her carriage rather than being carried. I think to an extent Ae-shin always viewed the 'noble fool living in luxury' as another disguise for her, but Dong-mae and Eugene's stories have made her recognise that there's an element of truth there and she's embarrassed by it.

Also everyone of our characters with the exception of Hee-sung are effectively orphans. I wonder what to make of that.

I'm still not on board with Hee-sung. Byun Yo-han is very good attractive, but I just can't with that one. He's just so....flighty.

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"He's just so....flighty."
i believe that is his - Hee Sung's - ploy...

he was literally CRINGING when his grandfather gave him that watch, which he pawned. he has a conscience, he's figured out that his fianceé is involved somehow -- which is why he had an identical suit made for himself...

he is going to shadow or mirror Ae Shin's efforts in order to distract/misdirect any efforts against her.

his behavior is anything but flighty, he is absolutely cagey in everything that he does.

i just hope he "lets his hair down" (or rather, let it grow to an unmanageable mane of glory) so those of us who are fans from his role in Six Flying Dragons can swoon...
: D

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I have some thoughts on Hee-Sung, which I’ll share below, but briefly, he is like all those segeuk princes who feign ignorance and debauchery so that they are not taken seriously while under the surface, they actually are putting plans together to make things right, strengthen the throne, and become respected in their intellect.

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I'm sure there are several reasons AS walked away, but I still don't understand why she literally walked away after Eugene said " they can no longer walk beside each other." I wish she had said something but I guess by not responding she has time to think.

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She doesn't come across as an impulsive women. Am sure the gravity of this new knowledge weighed down on her and most importantly she did not have an answer for Eugenes qn. She had to leave to process this and find the answers from within. Well, lets give her a couple of episodes!

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Sunshine: Eugene, because he brings hope for change.
Snow: I'm gonna say Dong-mae - beautiful but chilling.
Star: Hee-sung, who looks lively and bright, but is in reality solitary and out of reach.
Sky: Ae-shin, who is affected by and affects all three.

Hina doesn't get an S word! XD

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Agree!

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Hina: Sad, who has only wanted to be loved, and the one person that did love her is missing or dead (her mother).

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Sad ending

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Oooooooh! Maybeeee!

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Brilliant!

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Woah that was a beautiful references *infinite claps*
But can we all think one for Hina? i really love her character here (and still hoping her jealousy won't bring any harm later).

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Hina might have the "B" word of "Bird" - as in "the black bird that ruins the Sky". And yes that is meant to be prophetic on her possible future with Ae-Shin.

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I loved this show, a lot more than the writer’s previous works. The beautiful scenes, and the intriguing characters. And I don’t mind the main pairing either. LBH looks way younger than his age, and at least Ae Shin doesn’t act like a spoilt kid.
Above all, I love the 3 main male leads together! They should just be good friends and fight for Joseon already😬

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My fav from this episode

1) Relationship between Seung-gu and Ae-Shin: What a fantastic mentor Seung-Gu turns out to be. I can see how deeply they both care & respect each other. And I can totally relate to Seung-gu giving the most practical point of view/advice.

2) The SLAP scene: It was such a difficult scene to watch. We were seeing Dong-mae's evil side and then he does things to further enrage Ae-Shin. And that 'slap'!! that interaction was so powerful and brilliant performances by both the actors. I have no idea what this man wants or what he is thinking. For one, he doesn't want to have her. I think he just wants to be around. Its so complicated!

the 3 fools:
Hina is right!! Its lovely how they all are trying to share information without actually sharing information. Its hilarious. Somehow they all seem to partially trust each other but at the same time treat them like enemies.

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Provoking and twisted thoughts from an older woman;

1.I wonder if the desire of both Eugene and DM for Ae-shin is stemmed with the deadly truth that they could never have Ae- Shin based on their class rankings. More untouchable a thing/person is, more craving one want to have it. Maybe that is their very deep inner desire. Did Eugene decide to hide his status so that he can get close to her( his curiosity and desire have prevented him from telling the truth?)? He may not have been self conscious about his desire but if he were sincere, i think he should have told his status a tad earlier before Ae-shin's feeling got deeper towards him. It is cruel of him for not telling it to her. Ae-Shin may not know how the class system works very well since she was very much sheltered but he knew how the system works.
2. Had Ae-shin known the slave status of Eugene, would she not have fell in love with him that deep? Would she have kept some distance from him?

I do not have much interest in whom Ae-shin end up with. However, I enjoy watching each provokes others and helps finding where they stand and evolving their views on how Joseon should/would become.

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Totally agree with #2. If Ae-shin had known Eugene's backstory, she would have been kind (see her backstory with Dong Mae) but aloof.

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I'm totally not on a ship either. I just want to see where their relationships end up.

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Oh mercy everyone is crushing on Dong mae of course. Big puppy dog with very sharp teeth, our anti-hero. Yoo Yeon seok is rocking it too with his big body and alien baby face. Makes you want to pet him even though his owner says "don't, he bites". lol

Says something kind of strange about us women doesn't it that he becomes everyone's favorite so quickly. Kind of like writing to Ted Bundy in prison isn't it?

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I am hoping the writer continues to impress. But there's this little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, "Baca! You've been watching Korean Dramas for years. And how many times does the writer jump onto the crazy train near the end?"
So, are Ae-shin and Eugene going to declare their love for each other in episode 26 only to have her tell him she's going to leave for Italy tomorrow? (That time Hina made me sweetened coffee. I can't stop thinking about it. I'm going to give up freedom fighting and learn how to be a barista."
Or will Dong Mae accept his 2nd lead status and go play baseball in America?
Or will the trolley go off the rails and run down Hee-sung and give him amnesia?

THESE are the questions that are haunting me.
Please show. Continue to be good and let me love you.

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Interesting scenarios. I would be hilarious if one of these did happen.

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If you do manage to see episode 26 please recap it for us! :P

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Dramallama, thanks for the recap. I’m enjoying the show, it looks beautiful, sometimes like a dream. Not sure where it will end up, but along for the ride all the same.

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Oh my word, I don't even know where to start. First, for as slow as the pacing is, a lot really did happen this episode. We find out that Hina is a valuable informant to the Joseon court, that the emperor has a plan (albeit a weak one) to keep Joseon out of the hands of the Japanese, but he needs more help than anyone realizes. If actual history allowed Americans to train or be supporting the military in Korea prior to Japanese occupation, how different would Japanese relations be with America, or Korean relations be with America, and would Korea have been occupied in the first place? World War II may have had more political hatred between the US and Japan than it actually did. (Although, what the heck was Japan thinking when bombing Pearl Harbor in WWII? At least if the US had threatened their influence in Korea during this time, it would have made more sense that they would have seen it as revenge or retaliation.)

I've found that in Kim Eun-sook's dramas, what isn't said is just as important as what is, and what is conveyed through an actor's demeanor is more important than what he/she actually says. Which is why I think she chooses not only block-buster A-list actors in her series, but those that act through all their pores from the tip of their heads to the bottoms of their feet. Because all these actors (from the children to the secondary and tertiary characters) are amazing and I don't just stare because they're all beautiful, they are, but because I'm afraid I miss something in their expressions if I don't. Making gifs makes me appreciate this more as well.

Hee-sung is definitely our dark horse and I think everyone is realizing this in the past 2 episodes. I wouldn't be so confident as to say he's behind the whole Righteous Army outfit because he's too young to be and has been away from Korea for too long. (He could only get communication to and from Japan through telegram, which is not very quick, how could he organize a whole organization from there?) He's just quietly (or not so quietly) intrigued by these people that have suddenly appeared in his life and he's wondering if he should be part of them too. He's a good person, we know this, but one who has been sheltered, allowed to play for far too long. We know he's smart, he's put together all the pieces about Ae-shin, Dong-mae, and Eugene, now what to do with all this intel? I said this above, but those wheels are turning and he probably will be a leader of some group, maybe the Righteous Army, but he's not yet. He pretends to have no cares to disguise the fact that he does. He has debts to pay just as Eugene does. And he needs to atone for his family's sins. Just looking forward to his story arc and how it plays out right now.

Dong-mae, you still have my heart. I'm aching for you. I'm sorry you're so tormented, evil, amoral, horrible to women, children, and men alike. But I know there is good in that blackened heart and your...

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...cheeky smile says that you are not all bad. Ugh…Yoo Yeon Seok is an amazing actor, and I’m so torn when I watch him.

Ae-shin, you should have been born in the late 20st century. I could have taken your place and been a pretty flower in a noble house and not made a peep and my grandfather would have not had to continually keep watch over me and send me to be trained by a gunner and then not meeting the love of my life in a Marine captain, and then having to nurse a broken heart because I couldn’t be with him. Nevermind, I’m lying, I’d be doing the exact same thing you are. Kim Tae Ri is killing the role; I love her and I want to be her.

Which brings me to Eugene. Dammit, man, I’m still on the fence about you. I never know what your intentions are and it’s making me crazy. Are you going or staying? Are you fighting or making peace? Are you taking revenge or just making the world a better place? Why are you moving so slowly? It’s like watching a sloth move. Lee Byung Heon is really good in this role, I agree. He was downright adorable in episode 9, and now he’s all brooding again and he’s breaking, which is a good thing. I feel like he’s a volcano that’s about to erupt. This show is all about being intentional and deliberate, I get that, and he is definitely the epitome of the tone of the show.

The use of the English alphabet is so clever in this. It’s simple but profound. I’m so glad I know the title’s origin now. And it makes perfect sense. Kim Tae Ri, I still can’t say enough about her. Her speech cadence is what made the last scene memorable. Amazing.

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i appreciate your comments about KES's dramas because this is only the second one I've watched. I am still learning about her style, but I definitely like the way she only recruits the best actors/actresses.

Your "what if" history scenarios caught my eye. I think the US involvement in Joseon could have been much different if the Spanish-American war had not occurred. After the US victory in that war, they took possession of the Philippines from Spain. They were still consolidating their hold on the Philippines in the early 1900s, and they didn't want interference from other major powers in that region (i.e., Japan). So the US made the infamous Taft-Katsura agreement (more of a back-room deal, but it became US policy). More info on it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taft%E2%80%93Katsura_agreement

That deal gave Japan a free hand in Korea without US interference in exchange for the US getting a free hand in the Philippines without Japanese interference. This probably spelled the doom of the Korean Empire, because no other global power was in a position to stop the Japanese in Korea.

So I wonder to myself, what if the Spanish-American war had not occurred? In that alternate-reality, the US would not have the Philippines to worry about, and perhaps they would have taken a greater interest in what Japan was doing in Korea. Perhaps the US might have used its power and influence to stop the Japanese occupation and annexation of Korea. At least the US did the right thing for Korea 40 years later.

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She’s a very witty wordsmith as well, so I don’t want to give the impression that her writing is weak, and she depends on just the acting (which a lot of writers do)—just just really good at both, which is why she can garner accolades and get the best of the best. Where people disagree with her is how she portrays women sometimes (men-dependent) and also her pacing, storytelling, and how she concludes her dramas. Everyone says that she knows how to engage a wide audience (which isn’t easy) which is why she’s so popular.

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Well, I know I am in a minority demographic of her fans, so she is succeeding in engaging that wide audience.

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I love history. I was kind of bummed that Eugene is a made up guy. From what I have read the first Asian America was in the Navy in 1911 in the Philappines. No matter, Eugene makes that uniform look good.

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THIS is what I signed on for!!! This show is heartbreaking on so many levels and I realize that someone will probably have to get hurt or killed. It’s so sad yet beautiful.

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Thank you @dramallama for the recap! I’ve found my groove with this drama and don’t feel like nitpicking the history anymore. Mainly I’m so happy that the heroine is much more than her romantic feelings like a guy. There are THREE handsome Joseon guys pining after her but she can “do love” and have her flaming passion for a free Joseon. I absolutely love that Eugene asked her the question we all were asking: What kind of Joseon are you fighting for? It is a historical romance, but it’s also more than that. Keep it up KES!

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*feelings for a guy

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can i just brag a little bit here... i have convinced my husband and daughter to watch this drama -- we just watched ep 3 tonight via netflix on the "big screen" -- the tv is bigger than my 15" macbook laptop...
: D

i am (re)watching with them as the cinematography is truly too good to just watch on a 15" screen... so beautiful, everything. the colors, the lighting... the handsome faces of yoo yeon seok and byun yo han, my gawd...

funniest thing is my daughter (she and her dad watched Goblin) is howling about the two men that look alike... "how'd he change his clothes so fast?" etc...

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congrats!

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You’ve done well, my dear. My family is not intently watching this as I am, but after FUYAO finishes it’s run this week, they just might!

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I have found my home among the beanies. Everyone I know thinks that I am out of my mind for being so invested in kdrama. You actually have people that will watch it with you!! I wonder what that is like?

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it took years.... i've been watching nonstop since 2010!
; )

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So once you are in kdramaland there really isnt a way out........... is there

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it's that one-way RABBIT HOLE...
; )

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