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Mr. Sunshine: Episode 15

Eugene confronts the duality of his identity and carefully wields that double-edged sword to prove which side he stands on. An American to the Joseon people, and a Joseon person to the Americans, Eugene struggles to define his identity to those who choose to only see one side. But as the paths of being an American and a Joseon person diverge, Eugene implicitly makes a decision by protecting those he’s indebted to in life and in love.

 
EPISODE 15 RECAP

After their confrontation with Dong-mae’s gang, Eugene and Hee-sung piece together Kim Yong-joo’s whereabouts based on Hee-sung’s sharp nose that caught the whiff of incense on their culprit. Hee-sung says that there are too many shaman houses to find Kim Yong-joo in time, but Eugene has the manpower: Dong-mae’s gang.

Dong-mae’s lackeys embark on this manhunt and successfully find Kim Yong-joo at his shaman house hideout. Attempting to delay his capture, Yong-joo holds the shaman at gunpoint, but the hostage does nothing to stop these assassins. Yujo stabs his sword through the shaman and into Yong-joo without a blink of an eye.

We return to the cliffhanger, in which Eun-san orders Ae-shin to kill Eugene, who’s crossing the frozen river toward them. She asks why he’s enlisting her to carry out this cruel task, and Eun-san says that she fit the two qualifications for the job: a sharp shooter with composure and someone who won’t be harmed if Eugene survives the shooting. He hands her the gun, and Ae-shin asserts her belief that Eugene is coming to Eun-san to protect him — not to harm him. Despite her belief, she takes the gun, ready to fulfill her role.

The innkeeper worries about things going awry, but Seung-gu seems to surrender the outcome to fate. He believes that Ae-shin and Eugene will carry out their respective tasks and that it’s better that they confront their fate sooner than later.

Eugene approaches Eun-san, and Ae-shin aims her gun at him from above. Her confidence falters ever so slightly at the confirmed sight of Eugene, but she quickly regains her composure and follows him with her aim. Eugene confronts Eun-san about the Righteous Army member, Jeon Seung-jae, who tried to kill him, and Eun-san says that he has no choice, with Joseon under attack and the Americans siding with the Japanese. Eun-san warns him that there is a gun pointed at him somewhere and gives Eugene an ultimatum: die here or leave Joseon.

Eugene says that he has no interest in where Joseon’s sovereignty lies; rather, he’s only interested in two other things: that Eun-san lives a long life, and that Ae-shin doesn’t die. From behind, Seung-jae arrives carrying a limp man — Kim Yong-joo. Eun-san recognizes him, and Seung-jae explains that Eugene captured and delivered the traitor to them.

Eugene says that he’s handing over Kim Yong-joo for the Joseon people to determine what to do with him. He says that he’s a Joseon person to the Americans and an American to the Joseon people, and he doesn’t know which path he’ll take. Throwing his gun at Eun-san, Eugene tells him to take this opportunity to kill him because he won’t be fleeing Joseon again. He says that this is how he will repay his debt to Eun-san.

Unable to kill him, Eun-san tells Eugene to leave. Seung-jae refuses to let Eugene go free and points his gun at him, but Eun-san repeats his command and lowers Seung-jae’s gun. Eugene tells Eun-san to live long, since it seems that they won’t meet again.

Eun-san dismisses Ae-shin at the end of their mission, but Ae-shin needs answers about the two men she recognized from the photo of her father. She asks if Kim Yong-joo is the man who killed the missionary Joseph and her parents. Eun-san says that she mustn’t ask questions, and she angrily repeats the mantra of the Righteous Army — if you’re discovered, you run; if you’re caught, you die; if you die, you’re buried. She asks if this is why she can’t ask about her parents even now.

Eun-san confirms that Kim Yong-joo murdered Ae-shin’s parents, and he asks if Ae-shin intends to kill him with her own hands. If that were an option, she wishes that he had informed her earlier, since this man murdered an American missionary and forced another man to risk his life. But she hands over her gun and requests that Eun-san make a better decision than her angry impulses.

Seeking a better compromise, Eun-san meets with Minister Lee Jung-moon and explains that Eugene turned in Kim Yong-joo. He requests that that they rightfully convict Kim Yong-joo for the crimes and clear Joseph’s name, even though it would discredit the Joseon court. Minister Lee asks if this favor will secure Eugene on their side, and Eun-san says that they already had Eugene on their side, only to lose him because of Eun-san’s belated realization of Eugene’s loyalty.

The police chief and Lee Duk-moon report the news of Kim Yong-joo’s capture to Wan-ik, and they worry that Yong-joo may reveal Wan-ik as a conspirator. But Wan-ik seems confident that Yong-joo won’t rat him out and decides to abandon their mercenary since they’re done using him. Wan-ik asks how Kim Yong-joo was discovered, and the police chief explains that the Musin Society members captured him and brought him to the American solider. Wan-ik seems dissatisfied that this American soldier can move people without bribing them with copious amounts of money, like he has to do.

Minister Lee tortures and interrogates Kim Yong-joo, asking if Wan-ik is the colluder behind all his crimes, but Yong-joo remains silent. Yong-joo seems resigned to his death sentence, and Minister Lee presumes that Yong-joo must have family to protect with his silence. Minister Lee grants Yong-joo’s wishes by sentencing him to death for his highest crimes, but he also adds that Yong-joo’s dead body will be found before the sentenced death.

When Minister Lee leaves, Seung-jae appears and tells Yong-joo that he’ll soon meet Sang-wan, Ae-shin’s father. Yong-joo knows that this is his end, and Seung-jae stabs Yong-joo multiple times to death. An announcement is posted the next day about Yong-joo’s crimes, clearing Joseph’s name. Eugene sees the Joseon people gather around the bulletin, and he thinks back to his confrontation with Kim Yong-joo.

When Yong-joo was discovered at the shaman house, Eugene beat him and demanded to know why he was loitering around Ae-shin’s house. He claimed that he wanted to reveal the truth about Ae-shin’s parents — that Wan-ik was actually the culprit. He admitted that he was naïve to believe Wan-ik’s deal to spare his comrades’ lives in exchange for Yong-joo’s betrayal, but he claimed that he had no choice in order to protect his family.

But Eugene corrected Yong-joo and blamed him for killing his comrades. Yong-joo had a choice, and his comrades didn’t make the same choice despite having a family like him. Eugene presumed that Yong-joo used the same excuse to justify killing others, like Eugene’s father. Eugene said that Joseph was a father to him, and he punched Yong-joo once more.

Back in the present, Eugene sees Wan-ik pass through the streets toward the palace. Emperor Gojong appoints Wan-ik to the foreign affairs minister position, and when Wan-ik accepts the position, the emperor suddenly sees Japanese troops marching in behind him, infesting the palace. He breathes heavily as he imagines the palace ministers transformed into Japanese soldiers, and the Japanese rising sun flag flying behind Wan-ik and Ito Hirobumi, the prime minister of Japan.

In his quarters, Gojong paces anxiously and trembles in fear of his nightmares becoming reality. He falls to the ground in desperation, and Minister Lee watches the emperor suffer helplessly.

Hina’s former hotel worker, Gui-dan, gets dragged to meet with Hina, who confronts her about framing Dong-mae. Hina intends to ruin Gui-dan’s life and uses her fencing sword to cut Gui-dan’s face. Gui-dan screams in pain, and Hina says that she’s leaving a mark to remind her that she was foolish and unkind. Indignant about this treatment, Gui-dan claims that everyone hated Dong-mae anyway. But Hina corrects her, saying that she doesn’t hate him.

Eugene greets Dong-mae upon his release, and Dong-mae says that he’ll buy a drink in appreciation. Eugene says that many others contributed to his release, including Domi, Hina, his gang, Hee-sung, and Ae-shin. Dong-mae says that he’ll repay them someday, and he walks off to deal with important business.

Dong-mae’s important business turns out to be the proper cremation for his underlings who sacrificed their lives to protect Dong-mae. He tells Yujo to send them off with ample money for their journey. Then, it’s back to work for Dong-mae at Hwawollu, where he’s greeted by an unwelcome guest — Belligerent, who abused the tarot card reader and killed Dong-mae’s underlings during his capture.

Belligerent dropped by to return Dong-mae’s sword upon Hayashi’s command, and Dong-mae says that Hayashi also sent a gift with the sword. Dong-mae reminds Belligerent that he vowed to kill him upon his release, and Dong-mae delivers on that promise by swiftly slicing Belligerent’s neck with the very sword he’s holding out to give him. Blood splatters on Dong-mae’s face, but it blends right into his bloody face from his interrogation. Now that’s the aesthetic of an assassin.

When Dong-mae arrives at the hotel, the tarot card reader runs into his arms in relief, and Dong-mae comforts her silently. He sees Hina looking out from inside the hotel, and they blink in acknowledgement of each other.

Hina finds Hee-sung playing the piano and asks about his search for an office. He says that he’s found a place, but it already has an owner. He realizes this work situation is reflective of his personal situation, and Hina encourages him to reclaim his spot. She offers a room change, as it’s the least she can do, but Hee-sung politely declines, saying that his third-floor room has the best view of the moon.

Eugene passes through the lobby and quietly nods at them before heading out. Hina informs Hee-sung that Joseph’s funeral is today, and Hee-sung says that he’ll need to play a sad song in honor of Joseph’s passing. The somber melody transitions into the funeral, where Eugene remembers Joseph — the great and noble one, his home, his hero, his father. Minister Lee and the congregation from the U.S. embassy gather to honor Joseph, and Eugene bids Joseph farewell. His tombstone reads: “The Jesus Helper, Son of Dreams, Rest In Peace.”

After the funeral, Eugene pours some of Joseph’s homemade alcohol over his grave and takes a swig of it himself. He tearfully smiles at the thought of Joseph and lingers at his grave in sorrow. Meanwhile, Ae-shin visits the temple and asks the monk to light a candle for Joseph. She mentions that Joseph believed in God, and the monk assures her that the higher powers all get along and will escort Joseph to his place.

Hoping to find a letter, Ae-shin checks the cabinet at the medicine shop, but she’s met with Eugene himself. He asks if she was anticipating bad news, since she had almost shot him. He says that he’s used to being alienated, since he’s doesn’t belong on the Joseon nor the American side. Ae-shin reaches out her hand and invites him to her side, but Eugene expresses hesitance in holding the hand of the person who intended to shoot him.

Ae-shin approaches Eugene and says that she’s holding the hand of the man who knowingly walked in front of the muzzle of her gun. Eugene takes her hand and then pulls her into a tight embrace. He holds onto her as he cries, and Ae-shin gently comforts him.

As it rains outside, Dong-mae sits in his dojo, holding the coin that Ae-shin paid him, and Hina holds the handkerchief that Eugene gave her. Hina wonders who’s crying so much to make it rain when she’s the one who received the handkerchief.

Duk-moon worries that Dong-mae’s release will result in unfavorable consequences for Wan-ik, but Wan-ik thinks back to Dong-mae carrying drunk Hina on piggyback and wonders if there’s something to trust in Dong-mae. Speaking of the devil, Dong-mae arrives at Wan-ik’s house and regrets to inform Wan-ik that his scheme failed — in framing Nobleman Go (Ae-shin’s grandfather) and using Dong-mae as his pawn.

Dong-mae says that he tipped Hayashi on some false information that Wan-ik and the late Minister Lee Se-hoon schemed behind Hayashi’s back with the banknote, and that Wan-ik used Minister Lee as his scapegoat. Wan-ik doubts that Hayashi believed such baseless information, but Dong-mae says that he merely planted a seed of suspicion. Then, he steps closer to relay Hayashi’s message and seethes, “Those who are neither Joseon nor Japanese eventually become Japan’s weakness.” With that, Dong-mae congratulates Wan-ik on his appointment to foreign minister and tells him to beware.

Il-shik from the pawnshop loiters around the U.S. embassy trying to enter to meet with Eugene, and he’s easily granted entry by an American soldier who mistakes him for Gwan-soo (ha). Il-shik offers Joseph’s belongings to Eugene, and Eugene recognizes the ointment that Joseph used to tend to his wounds as a child. Il-shik finds relief in Eugene’s tears, that he found the right items, and Eugene notices a box inscribed with the name Song Yeong. Eugene asks Il-shik to keep all these items and information on Song Yeong from the telegram a secret, and of course Il-shik offers to keep this secret. At a pricey cost.

Eugene looks at the photo of the comrades and thinks back to Seung-jae’s warning that as Eugene approaches the truth, he exposes the Righteous Army to greater peril. He also remembers Kim Yong-joo’s last wish to destroy the photo because he had lied about his comrades’ names to Wan-ik. As Eugene burns the photo and the box belonging to Song Yeong, he repeats the message written on the back: “On the day the plum flowers bloomed — Song Yeong, Go Sang-wan, Kim Yong-joo, Jeon Seung-jae, together. Spring 1874, Tokyo.”

When Il-shik returns to the pawnshop, Hee-sung proposes a contract to use some of the pawnshop space as his office. He offers to pay rent and tend to customers when the duo is gone, and he assures them that no customer would be bothered by someone as handsome as him. To prove his point, two ladies enter the pawnshop and ask if Hee-sung has set up his office in the pawnshop yet. Il-shik stares at these two ladies in admiration and quickly agrees to Hee-sung’s terms.

At the bar, Hee-sung enthusiastically explains his discovery of his passion to Eugene and Dong-mae, who both look annoyed by Hee-sung’s aimless babbling. They complain that he’s told them everything but what he’s actually setting up his office for, and Hee-sung finally reveals that he’s setting up a newspaper. Dong-mae immediately hopes that he only prints obituaries, and Eugene comments that the newspaper will likely fail because Hee-sung can’t seem to get to the point with a decent headline. HA!

Hee-sung says that he’ll emphasize the truth and facts over sensationalized headlines, and he plans on writing the newspaper in Korean only — an anomaly among most newspapers which are mixed with Korean and Chinese. Eugene asks Dong-mae if he’s hunting anyone nowadays, and Dong-mae says that he’s looking for someone with a cough. Hee-sung immediately coughs out his drink and excuses himself early before they plan to kill him again.

Eugene stops him and says that Hee-sung has never paid for drinks, and Hee-sung shamelessly thanks them for buying drinks again. Taking a page from Hee-sung’s book, Eugene prematurely thanks Dong-mae for buying drinks, but Dong-mae leaves saying that he has important business to tend to. This trio!!

As the trio walks alongside each other down the street, Hee-sung admires the moon but assures his pals that they’re definitely not walking together. Dong-mae confirms this and says that all people walk through life separately. Then, Hee-sung notices flower petals falling and stops to admire spring in full bloom. He says that everything he likes is here today, and Dong-mae asks to be excluded from that list. Hee-sung ignores him and continues to gleefully admire the useless things he likes: spring, flowers, the moon.

Hee-sung asks Dong-mae if he can cut a flower petal exactly in half, and Dong-mae responds that he can cut Hee-sung exactly in half. He asks Hee-sung if he’d prefer to be cut horizontally or vertically, and Hee-sung turns to ask Eugene if he can shoot a flower petal. Eugene asks if this would be before or after Dong-mae cuts it in half. Hee-sung sarcastically comments on this wonderful metaphor of dying every day between an American and a Japanese man. He says that his cause of death today is beauty. Our frenemy trio admires the beauty of spring as we transition into a new season.

Ae-shin writes an advertisement for the language school as her friend dictates the message, and her school friend offers a backhanded compliment on her writing, saying that she writes like a man. Her friend runs away before Ae-shin can punish her, and Ae-shin practices her penmanship to write to Eugene. They exchange letters about spring, and Eugene asks about plum flowers, in reference to the message written behind the photo of Ae-shin’s father.

Ae-shin and Eugene go to see the blooming plum flowers, and Ae-shin explains that these flowers represent the crest of the Joseon royals. Eugene says that he was curious about what Ae-shin’s father and his comrades were commemorating at the mention of plum flowers, and he apologizes for destroying the photo to protect the mentioned names. Ae-shin says that she remembers the photo with her heart and thanks Eugene.

Ae-shin asks what’s next — after introductions, handshake, hug, longing, and flower-watching. Eugene suggests fishing, and he brags that he’s a naval officer skilled with most things on a boat. Ae-shin proposes a bet on who can catch the most fish, and they head out on the water for this next step in “love.”

Ae-shin and Eugene fish in the middle of the lake, and Ae-shin excitedly grabs Eugene’s fishing pole when she notices the movement of a baited fish. They lose the fish, and Eugene asks if Ae-shin intends to continue holding his hand, which she accidentally grabbed in her excitement. She lets go, but Eugene takes her hand again, saying that he’s using fishing as an excuse to hold her hand. Ae-shin smiles giddily, and she narrates her written poem: “On an autumn day, the long clean lake flows like green jade. We docked our boat where the lotus flowers bloom. I threw bait over the wall to meet you, but I got caught from someone afar and spent half the day embarrassed.”

As Hee-sung’s father enters Glory Hotel, he spots Eugene walking inside and immediately cowers behind the gate in fear. He runs home and urgently informs his wife that Eugene is residing in the same hotel as Hee-sung, and they assume the worst. In response to this startling news, Hee-sung’s mother visits Eugene at the embassy and returns his mother’s ornament. She claims that she’s not asking for forgiveness, but she begs that he leave Hee-sung alone, since he’s not to blame — he was just born into this family.

Eugene reciprocates her plea and claims that he also had no sin in being born into his family as a slave. He asks why he must live through hell while her son lives comfortably. She says that she’ll repent for the rest of her life and even in death, and then she begs on her knees for Eugene to let Hee-sung be.

In his hotel room, Eugene stares at the ornament and gets interrupted by a knock on his door. It’s drunk Hee-sung, and he stumbles into Eugene’s room asking for his help in tending to his wound. When Hee-sung sits down, he recognizes the ornament on the table from when he ran into his mother at the pawnshop, and asks Eugene why he has his mother’s ornament. Eugene clarifies that it used to belong to Hee-sung’s mother and asks when his birthday is, since it’s the day that his parents died. He says that he forgot the exact day because he was fleeing from the slave hunters that Hee-sung’s grandfather sent after him.

Hee-sung shares his birthday — April 17, 1871 — and asks if Eugene is curious about anything else. Without revealing more of his story, Eugene says that he probably knows more than Hee-sung at this point, and Hee-sung silently acknowledges this.

Later that night, Hee-sung meets with the old slave from his household, the same person that Eugene sought to trace his parents’ grave. Hee-sung asks to hear the full story, and Dong-mae watches them converse from afar. After the conversation, Dong-mae approaches the servant, who immediately begins to beg for his life. Dong-mae doesn’t intend to harm the man, and out of curiosity, he asks what he was discussing with Hee-sung.

In their conversation, Hee-sung had requested that the servant fill in the gaps of his story, which he had been avoiding for some time. He claims that he’s ready to endure the truth, but Hee-sung still reacts with shock to Eugene’s true backstory — his father being beaten so that his mother could be sold off, his mother holding Hee-sung’s mother hostage, and his mother drowning herself in a well after ordering Eugene to run away. Hee-sung thanks the servant for telling him the truth, though he looks overwhelmed by the weight of guilt he’s now privy to.

Dong-mae listens to this full backstory and looks amused by this tragic relationship between Eugene and Hee-sung. He offers the servant ample compensation for sharing this unexpected revelation.

As summoned, Hina secretly meets with Minister Lee to discuss the leaked secret letter between the emperor and the missionary. Minister Lee says that there were three individuals involved in this letter exchange, and one of them — the missionary — returned dead. Minister Lee requests for Hina to keep an eye on one of their suspected traitors, who was asked to trail the missionary from Hanseong to Jemulpo in case something went awry. He’s referring to Lady Kang, who frequents Hina’s hotel as a gambler.

Minister Lee also asks Hina to bring Eugene to meet with him since he knows that Eugene doesn’t want to see him. Hina asks what she’ll receive as compensation, and Minister Lee offers to disclose the residence where Hina’s mother dwells. Hina pauses and suspects that she misheard him, but Minister Lee confirms that he knows where Hina’s mother is living. Hina realizes that Minister Lee had already known about her mother’s whereabouts and was saving this information to exchange with a sizable request.

Hina escorts Eugene to the meeting with Minister Lee and requests that he comply, since she also has a stake in this meeting. Minister Lee asks Eugene to accept the instructor role for the Joseon Royal Guard, which Eugene previously declined. Eugene declines once again, but Minister Lee explains that Eugene is the only one fit for the position because he needs someone who’s immune to Wan-ik’s manipulation. Minister Lee says that by accepting this position, he could allow for Eun-san and the Righteous army to live longer, even if it’s the slightest bit.

Eugene warns Minister Lee that he wouldn’t be taking the role with good intentions, but Minister Lee says that he only wishes that Eugene doesn’t hold any bad intentions. Minister Lee offers any compensation for taking this position, and Eugene asks for the land on a mountain, where his parents were buried. He thinks back to his mother telling his young self that she would become a flower in his yard, and as he walks through the flowers on the mountain, he wonders if he should build a house there to fulfill his promise.

Grandfather looks at a photo of Ae-shin’s parents before he’s interrupted by his daughter-in-law offering medicine for his lack of appetite and sleep. Grandfather asks if they’ve received any word from Nobleman Kim and asks that they proceed with Ae-shin’s wedding plans.

Aunt summons Ae-shin to share that her marriage is moving forward with the official letter from Hee-sung’s family (a tradition in the marriage process), and of course, Ae-shin resists. But Aunt says that she’s done overlooking Ae-shin’s meetings with Seung-gu and the bruises all over her body, and she firmly orders Ae-shin to follow her family’s wishes.

Hee-sung’s servant runs into him on the street and delivers the happy news of their official letter of marriage to Ae-shin’s family. Hee-sung intercepts this letter delivery and offers to deliver the letter directly, which the servant finds curious. Meanwhile, Ae-shin meets with Grandfather and asserts that she will not get married. She says that she’s gone too far since meeting Seung-gu to submit to the demure ways of a housewife.

Grandfather won’t accept Ae-shin’s vow to live alone, since it goes against tradition, but Ae-shin remains resolute. She then admits that she’s in love with someone else and says that she’s willing to give up everything so that she can walk alongside this person. Grandfather scolds Ae-shin for her irreverent excuse and blames her servants for not sheltering Ae-shin enough. He orders her servants to be locked up, and her servants realize that this will be a long fight of obstinance between Ae-shin and Grandfather.

When Hee-sung arrives at Ae-shin’s house, he finds Ae-shin sitting on her knees in front of Grandfather’s room. He joins her and offers to share the punishment. Hee-sung tries to lighten the mood with his regular joking manner, but Ae-shin tells him to leave, as this isn’t a punishment to share. She admits that she rejected their marriage because she’s in love with someone else, and Hee-sung’s face hardens at this confession.

Ae-shin claims that she’s irreversibly risking everything for this person and won’t regret her decision. She apologizes to Hee-sung and hopes that he meets a better woman. Hee-sung responds as a side note that he’s met plenty of other women. Then, he says that he already knew that Ae-shin was in love with someone else, but that did nothing to change his mind. Taking out the official letter for their marriage, Hee-sung looks at her with a sharper gaze and confesses that he just harbored some bad intentions.

 
COMMENTS

I’m glad that Hee-sung is finally making some moves personally and professionally after wandering in this show for so long. I welcomed his loitering since his charm brightened up any scene, but he needed more action and purpose to make him more useful in this story. Since the Ae-shin and Eugene pairing seems to be solidified at this point, I’m more interested in Hee-sung’s newspaper business than his involvement in this arranged marriage. Though the newspaper business came from way left field, I think it would add an interesting dimension to the story, especially if Hee-sung’s commitment to the truth is fully realized. Since Hee-sung enjoys immense privilege as a noble, he could potentially disclose important truths and facts while remaining somewhat immune to the consequences. It feels pretty late to introduce such a crucial storyline, but one can hope.

I appreciated the theme of Eugene’s dual identity in this episode because it’s meaningful and more central to Eugene’s character. There have been so many distractions in Eugene’s life — with all his unknown enemies trying to kill him — that his character lost a bit of focus along the way. I think this episode did a great job of re-centering Eugene as this complex hyphenated identity straddling two worlds, simultaneously an insider and outsider. It’s the fluidity of his cultural identity that makes him such a flexible ally/enemy, and I enjoyed the discussion and exploration of what that means for Eugene.

I’m smitten for Dong-mae’s strong sense of loyalty and protectiveness for his people, which is such a stark contrast to his job as a heartless killer. He’s fiercely loyal to his people, and those people in turn are fiercely loyal to him. I think that’s a point of contrast between him and Eugene, who also balances two identities but doesn’t have a loyal tribe. If this episode proved anything, it’s that Dong-mae isn’t such a lone wolf. He may have the cruelest and most vicious enemies, but he has people who care enough to save him, including Hee-sung and Eugene who gratefully also risk their lives every day as his loyal frenemies.

 
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-I can't say this enough: I LOVE DONG-MAE. Every scene that he is in is mesmerizing. I know he is a killer, but deep down inside he actually has a warm heart and as was mentioned is fiercely loyal. I also love it when our male trio is together; their scenes are the best.
-Eun-san really messed up. He assumed that Eugene would only be loyal to America, but he had Eugene on his side already and he lost him.
-Loved Hina's revenge on Gui-dan. I knew she wouldn't escape.
-Hotaru is so sweet and Dong-mae is sweet to her.
-And Belligerent, how dumb can you be? You know Dong-mae hates you and you HAND HIM A SWORD?!! I knew what was going to happen right away.
-This was a rich episode with so many wonderful scenes: Hui-seong's mom and Eugene talking, Hui-seong finding out what happened the day he was born, Joseph's funeral, and so much more.

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I love him him too. When i saw the preview after Ep 16, my heart dropped

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Me too >_<

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some observations:

"the deities we serve must know each other very well. buddha will show him the way to god." why did this make me cry? that was so beautiful? wow!!

dong-mae continues to be absurdly exceptional in every single scene. his loyalty, to the death, is so beautiful i cannot even believe. his character is beyond fascinating.

this frenemy trio is HILARIOUS and i love it. i love relationships like these. what a reluctant bromance if i've ever seen one.

also...eugenes laugh is lovely. i still have lukewarm feelings about the character but his laugh changed his face completely. it was lovely.

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I loved everything about this episode, but alas it was overshadowed by the end part. This is the episode where my love for Ae-shin has taken a nosedive.

The highlight for me were the guys—absolutely loved them. I loved that despite Dong-mae's stint in the Torture Chamber, he still hasn't lost his assassin's touch and became a softie; I'm glad they are keeping his deadly character intact. His comeback at Wan-ik was sublime, now we have another person that is able to make Wan-ik in all his sliminess tremble. HA! Hee-sung, Hee-sung, Hee-sung. Ah. You're absolutely smashing it! Well done boy. Eugene/Yu-jin's struggle to find where he really belongs is also quite moving.

Some questions in my head though: Why did Eugene include Ae-shin in Operation Save Gu Dong-mae when I can't recall her doing anything to help clear Dong-mae's name? Also, why did Gui-dan target Dong-mae in the first place, when it was Hina who threw her out? Anyway.

Now the hard part.

It pains me to say this, but comparatively, Ae-shin and Minister Lee Jeong-mun share similar (rather undesirable) traits: one, they both jump into mostly wrong conclusions, and two, they both bite the hands of those who feed/help them by way of threats and blackmail.

I don't think Ae-shin fully realises how incredibly serious things are: for someone who has displayed great erudition, Ae-shin's nearsightedness and inability to see the bigger picture is confounding and exasperating to say the least. She spends her days reading books, but I doubt if The Art of War is one of them. She is no longer doing what she believes is right, but merely doing what she bloody wants to do. Young Dong-mae was right all along—had he been witness to exchange between Ae-shin and her grandfather, he would have had the most ironic I-told-you-so moment in drama history.

Ae-shin's problem is that she doesn't know how to retreat. During the first episodes Harabeonim said, ‘Must you always win?’ and that's pretty telling. Ae-shin doesn't know anything about sacrifice, or how to lose. She says she will bear the burden of her cancelled engagement—to date, when has she solely borne the burden of anything? She's not just living in a dream, she's living in a daydream and someone needs to give her a hard dose of reality. All the signs are pointing to Harabeonim's death anyway—I don't want him to die—but if it would take his death for Ae-shin to realise that all she's ever enjoyed in life was due to him and that there are more serious matters brewing outside, I'm all for it.

I have not seen the next episode just yet, but I would bet my student loan that the initial reaction Ae-shin would have regarding Hee-sung's bad intentions is that he's there to deliver the letter and force her to marry him. She wouldn't even think of anything else.

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Gui-dan mentioned that the whole Joseon hated Gu Dong-Mae and she probably being offered some $$ for her stint , so why not? I think she did meet Dong-Mae before for some $$. So because of her circumstances, she might do anything for money.

I think the person like Gui-dan can only see others fault but not hers. So she might blame it on him for whatever that befall her after the incident.

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I was scratching my head on how did Ae Shin came to contribute to help Dong Mae too. But I guess her not shooting Eugene when he was crossing the river to the potter's house was considered a helping hand in it? Or else Eugene will be dead and Dong Mae will probably be forever trapped in the American Legation jail. Lol.

And I agree mostly with what you've written on Ae Shin.

She's not just living in a dream, she's living in a daydream and someone needs to give her a hard dose of reality. All the signs are pointing to Harabeonim's death anyway—I don't want him to die—but if it would take his death for Ae-shin to realise that all she's ever enjoyed in life was due to him and that there are more serious matters brewing outside, I'm all for it.

I'm all for it too!

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Ae shin might be well educated for women at that time due to her high class status but she is a fool. While I was watching last week's episodes, where she confronted with her grandpa really boiled me. I understand that she is wrapped up with more modern idea unlike her grandpa but she ends up with former slave does no good for her and her family. That is a reality in the era. What she has been doing with Eugene and to some extent with rifles is playing a romance novel. She is killing her grandpa. Maybe in the end he is accused of treason and might end up dying for the crime but that is only the end result. She insisted on being with Eugene despite of her grandpa's countless efforts to secure her future once he is gone. Why all three nice guys have to like her,,, I may need to learn more about men in order to understand them. I fear that all three good men end up dying because of her and if that were the case, what a waste! In reality, Eugene is not a very high ranking officer in Navy so if she cross the ocean to live with Eugene in future, with her limited English and his shabby dwelling in the States would make her life quite challenging. Eugene would have to go on duty anywhere ( and probably leaving her in the foreign land) when he was summonsed by the navy. Would she bear that? without her maids soothing her boredom without Eugene?
Dong Mae knows his class and what he does for living so he dares not to approach her to entice her to like him. He is probably more man than Eugene in that sense. Wise man needs to know where he stands.

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Actually, am surprised Eugene is continuing with this relationship with her. He knows very well the consequence she has to face if their affair comes to public.
I expected them to end it a few episodes back. It would have made logical sense. I wish the writers were not stuck to the 'first love, great love' notion. Life is too complex for that. Especially, they have picked a timeline where so much is happening. it would have made for great drama if Eugene-Aeshin fell in love, but gave up, she ended up marrying Hee-Sung and they all are navigating life the best they can and trying to protect country/whatever they have to protect . There was so much to milk in this scenario than where this story is going now.

Can Ae-Shin and Eugene have an honest conversation about their future please?

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@akikoz and @mayhemf I feel like reading my finance notes... ;) I share your sentiments and thoughts!

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Late reply but you are completely right. Huisung is willing to hide her Righteous Army activities and with his money and help she could continue to contribute to the cause of protecting Joseon. Instead she wants to throw it all away so she can pretend to be independent and have a silly romance. She has no common sense.

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AeShin. I ranted enough in the previous recap comments about Aeshin. ESP her lack of judgment, her inability to not perceive but only see, her completely lack of understanding a situation, her sense of entitlement/privilege etc . You have put it in words nicely. I feel her character is stuck in the same place for 8 episodes now. Nothing has changed. Her love for Eugene has not changed her thinking or much.
I am lost for words. It’s becauwe of her I think I am not invested in the romance.

Will watch ep 16 tonight. Hopefully we see more hee-Sung and less romance please :)

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Seems like my hope for AS from last week's eps just blew away with the winds. The arguments she presented to her grandpa was just... *sigh* all i am seeing is a little girl who is determined to get her candy. Nothing else matters. Sorry. I am utterly disappointed... no words can explain...

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I think Dong Mae’s loyalty is his most endearing trait. He really sees himself as a samurai, but not born into that culture or class. As such, I think he will soon understand Ae-shin’s way of life as a freedom fighter as well. Then we’ll have a true love triangle. He will be fiercely loyal to her and her cause at some point, at least I hope.

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And she'll realize that she loves him when he dies in her arms....* cries*

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And Baek Ji Young song played in the background again. Not that I'm complaining. I like what I heard from the sneak peek.

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The scene where Hui Seong found out the truth about Eugene's history & his family's role in it was gut-wrenching & extremely moving. While I like Hui Seong, and I've watched Byun Yo Han in quite a few dramas now - notably Misaeng & Six Flying Dragons - this is the first time I was forced to acknowledge that he is a captivating actor. Well done, Mr Byun!

I also really liked the run through of Eugene's history. The child actor stole my heart, I suppose & his performance goes a long way in helping me buy Ae Shin's romance with the adult Eugene Choi.

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I love this episode so much. And 16 too..
i kinda cried a little when Hee Seung finally learns the truth about the tragedy of Eugene’s family. It’s not even his fault but the torn and devastated look..oh god.

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How did Ae Shin help Dong Mae? I tossed and turned all night trying to recall her role, but nothing comes to mind.

How could she obey the potter and be willing to shoot poor Eugene? Imagine, if Eugene hadn't brought that traitor, he would be dead now at her hands, and how would she be able to go on living?

I thought the scene where Eugene pulls her in for that hug was just lovely, and it played out to that beautiful, poignant song in the background.

Hee Sung was heartbreakingly sweet as always; whenever he looks at Ae Shin, he's got those eyes that say, so sadly, I love you, and it just makes me melt. And when he found out the truth about his grandfather, and parents, his face just broke. He broke my heart.

The scene where Hotaru runs and hugs Dong Mae was beautiful. She loves him. *cries*

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Don’t-Mae, Hina and fortune teller are all lost souls who have formed their own little family. Was so touching, that scene.

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Yup, they really looked like one big very loyal family, the ronins, their leader, the hotel owner, and the tarot card reader.

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This is what Ae-Shin is not seeing. That people are creating their own life and nothing is laid out to them in a platter. They have made this life for themselves against all odds. Even her empathy for Eugene seems lacking. I don’t think she has ever put herself in his shoes. Or said/did something that would benefit him.

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Yes, she is blind towards everything else except Eugene, and unless it is being fed to her by I don't know who will, she won't learn about this band of good people who I honestly feel have better conscience and hearts than her as at this moment.

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I’m smitten for Dong-mae’s strong sense of loyalty and protectiveness for his people, which is such a stark contrast to his job as a heartless killer. He’s fiercely loyal to his people, and those people in turn are fiercely loyal to him. I think that’s a point of contrast between him and Eugene, who also balances two identities but doesn’t have a loyal tribe. If this episode proved anything, it’s that Dong-mae isn’t such a lone wolf. He may have the cruelest and most vicious enemies, but he has people who care enough to save him, including Hee-sung and Eugene who gratefully also risk their lives every day as his loyal frenemies.

I love this @dramallama, thank you. Very well put and very interesting to read.

I love how the show set both Eugene and Dong Mae to come from more or less the same tragic backgrounds and status in Joseon (though Dong Mae is lower and more discriminated against). Both were two young souls who must flee from Joseon or else they will be dead - one is a runaway Baekjeong due to be beaten to death with his parents and the other is a runaway slave due to be returned to his owner (and may have met the same fate as his parents too). But how the differences in the people they met that helped them and their destinations, alongside their different levels of fury/vengeance (given their different experience of discriminations in their daily lives in Joseon and their different ages when they flee) shaped their different futures. They both became foreigners in their own birth country and I love how they come to meet each other and come to like(? not sure from Eugene's end but Dong Mae very transparently like Eugene) each other too.

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Is the book of poety a real book and author? Is it AS's pen name? Like the Bronte sisters ,Currier Elis and Acton Bell? Or is this the KES rewrite of history?

Bontte Sisters

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You are hereby appointed In Charge of Finding That Out!

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Ok Ill give it a shot

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Heo-nan-seol-heon (1563-1589)
By geul
(translated from the Korean by geul)

Wielding metal scissors
Ten fingers numbing in the night cold
Making wedding clothes for another
They say she lives alone
as one year turns into the next

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Wow, interesting. And old! Good job👏🏼

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I don't like Minister Lee Jung-moon. I don't like how he uses people to save Joseon (when their plans were not so good...). He wants puppets but Eun San seemed to have understood that it doesn't work like this and that he lost Eugene.

I'm happy that Hee Sung starts to think about his futur. I think journalist suits him very well.

It's sad that people who have 2 nationalities can feel home anywhere like Eugene.

It's cute how the gang cares about Dong Mae. They really love him. And it's the same for the fortune reader.

The 3 men together are always funny :D I love those scenes.

I hope Hina will find her mother !

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The only highlights for me regarding this episode are Trio meeting and hanging out under Blossom Tree. Hui-Seong finally find out regarding Eugene and his family. Last but not least, Hui-Seong and I share same birthday. My birthday is April 17. 😊

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The trio - Eugene, Dong-mae and Hee sung, they are so cute! Apart from gradual romance, I absolutely adore the slow path from enemies to friends stories.
I really wish to have such a fun friend like Hee-sung. I am sure that I will never be bored in my life! He's a gem!

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on the off-chance that Tim is still here, lurking - please come back!!! we miss you!!!

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*hear hear*

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Seconded.

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Yes Tim, please return!

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Ah, what a bummer. Please do return.

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I feel worse about Tim leaving than about what's happened in 15 episodes to any of the adult characters.

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I honestly don't like ae shin, there I finally said it. You can breathe. There is a way this girl chokes me in every scene that I wonder whether it is the actress playing her or the writing that is woeful. All I know am definitely not watching anything she is again at least for a while.

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hear hear! In my case I do not like the writing and I do not like the actress. The actress looks rather plain and very young ( but her dress is rather fancy) so when I try to understand why all three men are attracted to her despite of her childish notion, I scratch my head. If only either she is well written( the actress plays the role fine so far) and the actress is stunningly beautiful then I might be able to convince myself why all three good men like Ae Shin because of her exceptional beauty. But so far, no way to understand why those three men falling hard for her.

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Correction; If only either she is well written( the actress plays the role fine so far) or the actress is stunningly beautiful

I am off to bed. Good night.

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I understand why Dongmae is obsessed with her but I don’t understand why Euisung fell in love at first sight or why Eugene puts up with her.

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It's definitely the lame writing and you're too dumb to realize that KTR is amazing in her other roles.

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Ah Hee-Sung, Oh Hee-Sung.
There is a ‘poetic melancholy’ when he is on screen. All his charm makes it even more difficult to ignore that.
When he finally learns the truth about Eugene, his pain, his helplessness was so well acted.
And then when he still chooses to look at those flowers with such passion. My heart is naturally drawn to him.
Finally, we have a plot for him with a newspaper business. It only took 15 episodes!!

AeShin- ok. Am not sure what she is thinking or what she is doing. I think I ranted enough in the previous recap.

I am really liking how DongMae character was revealed in layers. And now I can totally enjoy his scenes. The last 3 episodes were great for his character.

Haven’t watched ep 16 yet.

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It's hard to write a comment about episode 15 when you seen 16 which I have. But here I'll try. Once again episode 15 confirms exactly what I've thought about our angst ridden lead couple, they're boring. I mean seriously the plot has been Kdram cliche' from day one. The way you overcome the boredom of re-hashing old tropes is to write us a compelling lead couple. Seems our writer has a knack for kind of neutering her main leads and crafting endearing and interesting side characters. Not unlike two of her previous dramas, Descendants of the Sun and a Gentleman's Dignity her supporting characters and their side stories are more interesting and charming. Just think Choi Yoon and Im Meari in Gentleman's or Sargent Seo and Captain Yoon in Descendants. Seems she allows her supporting characters to have a broader range of emotions and more unconventional stories. It doesn't help much for me either that I find Lee Byun hun to be a very one note actor. He's good at staring, crying and looking menacing, that's about it. He's also too damned old for this role. By episode 16 it became obvious to me that they are digitally enhancing him so he doesn't look like a grandpa. This drama so far has been an advertisement for how darned good all the supporting cast has been, especially the male 2nd leads. It's not just because of their youth either, Yoo Yeon seok is 34, they're just actually ACTING in this drama.

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The main couple is so boring and their romance bores me.

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When I read @linda-palapala comments about how good this week's episodes were, I had high hopes. After all, she had been one of those who were more critical of the show.

Alas, this episode isn't the turning point for me. I think my biggest problem is that I just can't get into Eugene and Ae Shin especially Ae Shin. I thought I could ignore the leads and just enjoy people like Hina and Hee Sung but it's not that easy. If the story focuses only on Eugene, Dong Mae, Hee Sung and Hina, I won't miss Ae Shin.

I am not saying romance shouldn't be a part of the story. Poor Eugene needs love but I find the romance with Ae Shin neither convincing nor touching. Strangely, I found Kim Ji Won and Jin Goo more compelling as a couple. I would gladly watch them.

This is my first time watching Kim Tae Ri. Like @oluwafemi95 I do not know if it's the way her character is being written or Kim Tae Ri's acting. Technically, I can't find fault. I even thought she was good in the beginning. However, Ae Shin fails to make me like or root for her. Dare I say I even found her annoying of late? It seems I don't have much luck with KES's female characters no matter who plays them.

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I think there are many of us who are feeling this way, off late. Her character has not grown in 7/8 episodes. It started off strong and then hit a dead end. As if her sole purpose is to get 3 men to protect her.
I will say this again ‘if any of these 3 men die protecting her, I will be darn pissed’. If someone needs to die let it be her :). Wasn’t that her great romantic notion anyway. While the others have been struggling just to stay alive or survive.

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Oh no! Don't let that happen, it's bad enough that all 3 are in love with her.

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I know right!!

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Hina’s Statement is echoing in my head ‘what do these 3 see in her’. LOL.

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Dong mae seems to have a love/hate obsessive relationship with her, wait, not with her because she doesn't think about him at all. It's one-sided.
I think Hee sung (if I remember right) said he loved her, but how could he? He doesn't even know her. But who does he have? btw, I didn't like Hee sung until episode 16. There aren't enough women to go around for the three of them.
Should I go back to re-watch the beginning episodes and try to figure out where the writer and director either showed us or told us through their thoughts or eyes the initial attraction between Eugene and Ae shin? Because I don't remember seeing or hearing anything to get it started. It was just, there.

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Eugene & AeShin - I think it was her curiosity that drew them closer. AeShin was kept in the dark by the Army. So when she met another shooter (Eugene) she was thrilled to meet a comrade. It was that notion that drew her towards him. But later, she felt betrayed that he was an American. After that, I don't know what happened. They fell in love.

I may be a minority (or only one) who thinks this way, nevertheless am going to say it aloud! I feel Hee-Sung and Hina would have made a great pair. I can imagine them sitting in the terrace and having meaningful conversations and a passionate love. They could have easily gone to Japan or anywhere and lived a full life.

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@mayhemf I too think that's how Eugene and Ae Shin caught each other's eye. Literally! Hahaha! What I am not convinced though is the so called love that developed. It's strange to say the least because the show had so much time spent on them yet it can't convince me.

Hina would make a great pairing with any of the the guys.

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re;I will say this again ‘if any of these 3 men die protecting her, I will be darn pissed’. If someone needs to die let it be her :)

Well said!! Seriously can we petition the writer to let her die instead of the three good men?

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Name me a drama where a female gets the growth arc instead of serving as plot points for the male leads. Ae shin never really did anything worthwhile.

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Queen of reversal? Misty? Secret Mother? Does these fit the bill? ;)

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I don't know - I haven't seen any of these. It would be nice if they fit the bill. I'll have to check them out. Thanks!
Maybe you can also tell me if they actually have a growth arc, or were they good to start with?

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I especially love Misty. All three dramas specifically focused on the female leads journey. For QoR it's a story of how a very successful careerwoman became a fulltime housewife and lost her career because she chose to get married and how she deals with the conflicts in her marriage due to differences in terms of personality, understanding and ambition with her husband and eventually had to let go of it as she embarks on a journey to restart her career and fights back those who buried it in the first place, cause she has what it takes to be great in her field. Hope you enjoy them if you happen to watch any of it.

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I hear your voice has a great growth arc for the female lead

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I haven't had that much experience with KES except on ep 4 of DoTS (where it was playing on tv when I visited my sis's home) and Goblin ep1 (unfinished). For that little time spent watching DoTS, I fell right away into the relationship between Jin Gu and Kim Ji Won. Theirs are more compelling in that very short moments. Just like how compelling I found HS, HN, Hotaru and DM in here despite their limited screen time. For KTR, I think she's a good actress. I blame the character that is written. Though after ep. 16 I can no longer be bothered with how her minds work. I skip away to more memorable scenes of HN, HS, DM etc. 8 eps left, I don't think it will be enough for me if KES intends to change AS's mindset with the remaining eps. I will feel it's rushed if it happens.

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It's sad but I agree that it may be too late to inject enough growth into Ae Shin while making it natural. I had hoped that Eugene opened her eyes to the real world episodes ago but since then, nothing much happened.

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Yeah that was the best moment for character growth. When Eugene’s identity came out and her interactions with Eugene.
Now it looks like ‘let us hang out and have fun. Anyway we can’t be together so no point thinking much’
It’s too late for any natural
Progression.

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For me it was good because I could sense the drama is finally going to get in the meaty part in the next few episodes with the changing times, not the love stories or the individual characters necessarily. And the first half of 15 was slooowww as usual. I'm waiting for 16 recap because that's when it picks up as to possibilities.
What I'm annoyed with is the lack of growth on any female's part in any drama. The males get the growth arc, the coming of age, the hero's journey. The females are either fully formed already and don't change, serve as plot points for the males, or as Ae shin, starts out looking great and then does nothing except as I just said, serve as a plot point for the men.
I just posted that lately I'm more obsessed with anything to do with this time period, including Chinese dramas, and thinking back to Gaksital as well, and giving up looking for any growth arcs for the ladies.

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I don't watch enough C dramas to make a strong opinion but I think they write female characters better or at least have more female centric stories.

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Even my beloved Fuyao. When Wuji was confessing his love to her he said she had changed him for the better. He used to be arrogant, self absorbed and selfish. When he said she had changed, she said "no, I'm the same person..." Ha. But that was good because the person she was (not your typical female) was what drew him to her. But even her kung fu skills weren't gotten by just hard work, they were a result of magic.

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@outofthisworld And another thing...when I said how good the episode was, it was a relative statement, i.e. good in relation to the really bad previous episodes (ha, ha). Plus, it gave slight hints or foreshadowing of things to come, which was what I was mostly excited about. Sorry if I misled you!

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You didn't mislead me. I value beanies' opinions to help me decide things like whether I should continue a drama or how much to anticipate and so on. When I read your comment, I got more excited than usual because I felt we shared similar misgivings about this drama and its direction.

I also have a queer habit - I like to be proven wrong. So, I had perhaps expected a little too much, lol!

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I have a queer habit - I love proving others' wrong! So we make a good pair. And we do share similar misgivings about the drama. Usually by this time I would have said "forget it" and dropped a drama, but I'm so curious as to "how will it all end?? Do they all die?? Will the writer pull force a happy ending?? This is her first historical drama, so who knows. That's why I'm still curious.

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Now I can properly write on my feelings concerning ae shin. I had a paper this morning so I couldn't write much. I don't know why kes always manage to write good and compelling side characters but lacks a VERY DEEP INSIGHT on what makes a good lead character. It was a big misstep to cast Lee byung hun and a bigger mistake by casting someone as young as Kim tae ri. It's like wall meet flower. I definitely have problem with the actress, have seen dramas where the actresses were to play characters that are supposed to be annoying but they manage to still charm the audience although it doesn't help that the writing here is totally bad.
The chemistry is another story entirely, both leads are supposed to star in a series titled "how not having chemistry can ruin a good drama" either they stop writing ae shin as one track mind character or they just kill her character off. Although Eugene is not doing much for me either. In short, I hate the lead couple. And am definitely not shipping ae shin with anyone either. Can we have a sequel that is just focused on hina, dongmae and that hotaru pls.

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Blame the directing and camera work on Eugene and Ae shin. Right now the camera doesn't put them in the same frame, they're always separated by frame or by something in between them in the frame. Notice this especially in ep 16. This is done on purpose and I'm thinking it's a metaphor for the separation of slave and nobility. I'm looking in future episodes to see if the camera work changes so that they are in the same frame without something separating them, which would be after the nobility vs slave concept has been done away with.

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Actually, I like Dong mae and the hotaru (if that's the girl that accompanies him- eek I can't remember whether she's blind or deaf, it's one of those, but I like her with him).

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mute.

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Geez, I was wrong on both counts! But now you've mentioned it, I remember.

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Right now I'm obsessed with dramas historically from the early 1900's to WWI. That includes Chinese dramas such as Siege in Fog, The Mystic Nine and currently The Great Protector with Wallace Huo, a fantastic telling of the end of the Qing Dynasty and the chaos that followed.
This is why I'm so interested in Mr. Sunshine, because of the history involved in this chaotic period of time and the effect it had on the people living then. Each character is a metaphor for all the different factions happening.
I've never liked Hee sung before but now he's been given a role to play, an important role for the future, I love him.
Frankly, since in this forum we can give our own opinion, I'm tired of hearing about Dong mae. He isn't a tragic figure, he's a comical figure, wearing his silly Samurai outfit and trying to act all macho. He has plenty of obsessed fan girls, which is fine because believe me, I've had my obsession with certain actors in different dramas before. In fact, this is one of the few that I'm not obsessed with any one character. My apologies for my different opinion to all you fan girls, I totally understand where you're coming from and thankfully I don't have to read your posts. (Nothing against anyone personally, I probably have agreed with your posts in the past on other shows).
I think Dong mae's story will also pick up and I can only hope when he realizes he's a pawn to be thrown away by the Japanese he'll come to his senses and discard the samurai outfit and outdated sword and join the Righteous. I don't know why at this point he'll change from his hatred towards Joseon (and he certainly has good reason to hate it) but I am looking forward to that journey.
And I happen to like Eugene's heroic stoic nature and his complicated relationship with the noble Ae shin.
All in all, from episode 15 on (ha, ha, the last two episodes) I've begun to enjoy everyone's journey.

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I am dying to know if the drama portrays the Dong Mae's attire accurate. The Japanese government declared Haitou rei(廃刀令) in 1876. That law prohibited men to carry swords in public space though the law permitted to possess swords.
Anyway, I am very confused with Dong Mae's status and attire so I digged into some information. I think he was someone called Kyokaku.(侠客). They were a prototype of Yakuza, I think. They were hired to fight during the Meiji Restration era but they were disposable since they were from low social status unlike Samurai class. They often wore unique clothes and they were feared because they excelled in fighting. Some Kyokaku were willing to do dirty work such as burying dead bodies( even bodies of their enemy). Their main income sources were from gambles and they have their own philosophy and sets of law. I guess that Dae mae's men were extremely loyal because he is the only one who was willing to protect him while others treated them disposable. A Japanese author who used to be a Yakuza describes Ninkyo as ' Ninkyo are willing to lose( anything) without any concerns' ( my translation is not good enough to translate deeper meaning in the sentence, my bad) and that is how Dong mae is. I still do not know Kyokaku wore colourful Hakama( pants, trousers) and wore swords( which is unlikely in my opinion) .

Had he gone to the States, he could have join the army but he moved to Japan where the social status clearly still existed. ( and besides he was Korean, not Japanese) The world of Kyokaku was the only few places that he can belong to and make money. I doubt he became Japanese but he dresses in Japanese style because he is a Kyokaku.

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Dramallama, thank you very much for the recap which made me feel like so much more happened than I felt after watching. I don't know, this drama feels more and more "chunky"? Like the scenes are slightly related blocks just set down one after another. It's really lacking in flow for me, or at least smooth flow. I guess I'm just growing less attached to it.
Hee Sung, Dong Mae and Il Shik make me happy and it's always a joy to see Kim Gap Soo.

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Ep 15 really was bad that way, wasn't it? There are just too many characters to service and too little time spent in between each scene, except for the too long longing stares.
I'm growing more attached as I sense the historical lines are finally merging into real history, as complicated as this time period was. This is one drama I'm glad I'm not attached too much to any one character, but the overall arc.

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This won't make sense because I know what you mean at the same time I'm having the opposite feeling. The longer it goes on, the more I feel like it's piling up stuff that didn't really happen and creating misleading history and I get more and more detached because I'm so annoyed. Like, it shouldn't even be about Americans but about Russians (they thought Netflix wouldn't buy a story about Russians, really? 🙄) And it should be so much more about the Righteous Army that already was such a bigger deal at this time. But apparently that's not the story they wanted to tell. I am hoping with you that once we finally enter the actual Russian-Japanese War (I mean ... she won't change that, right? 😂) we will be in real history. I like so many of the characters but I'd like them to spend less time being entertaining, I guess, and move the story along instead. And thank you, it's established that they're all very skilled at staring, already 😣

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You may be correct that some people might think much of it is real history. For me I always go check wikipedia or the book I have on Korean history, so in that way, it makes me want to look up the real deal. I always take historical fiction with skepticism, especially taking into consideration the writer's prejudices.

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I always want to know more about the history too, and go to do more reading after watching. Maybe that's what's bugging me, feeling like we have to keep throwing our minds into reverse while we back out of what we read to go back to the story. Oh well, I keep saying I'm just going with the flow but admit to becoming more peeved lately 😬

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The ironic thing is, with the fact that historical fiction bases a totally fictitious story around the hero and romance using a few real historical figures...sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.
On the other hand, I've found that over time historical "facts" get distorted, ie you can't even believe that what's in a history book is accurate. And of course as we all know, "truth" is on the side of the winner. That's one reason I'm finding Chinese historical dramas so interesting - it's told from their pov.

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Yes, the older I get, the more I know that to be true. About history books and about the winners.

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I'm not sure they'll actually get to the Russian-Japanese War. Didn't it start in 1904? Ended 1905. This story only takes place until 1905. It hasn't even been mentioned yet and I'm assuming it's already 1904 in the drama.
Have you seen ep 16? I have a feeling the Righteous Army as shown so far will be decimated and that's what kicks into gear the main characters' arcs.

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Heavens, it actually hadn't occurred to me that we're moving so slowly that we won't even get to the war 🤣 I believe you're right!
Looking forward to your comments on 16 🤓

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I'm watching The Great Protector. They've just introduced Sun Yat sen, who's to be escorted by our hero, Wallace Huo. Now I'm not thinking all this is accurate history...

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But surely they won't rewrite events on record that everyone knows didn't happen that way? Right?

I keep thinking maybe these are interesting hidden theories about Korean history. Or that we're missing something in the translation.

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@bbstl re historical accuracy. I'll give you an example. My family has a family history book. My uncle was killed in WWII in Operation Market Garden. However, nobody's heard of that before but Battle of the Bulge is famous. So whoever redid our family history book put that he died at the Battle of the Bulge. No one corrected it. I tried... This is only a small personal example, but each time a historical record is copied mistakes can be made. Never mind what heroic acts have been exaggerated.
On the other hand I think my daughter's family tree is quite accurate, though thru the centuries it was an oral tradition, Hawaiian names had to be memorized from generation to generation orally and repeated, which is probably just as accurate as written family trees.

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I have to insert a vote for the 'entertaining' portion. This drama's strength for me isn't the history but our flawed characters and the prime motivation factors in their lives which keep them all in conflict with each other, even as they are being drawn closer & deeper into relationships at all levels. Especially our lead couple, Lady Ashin 'belongs' in Korea and is is motivated by love for her nation, whereas our Captain belongs nowhere except with the people he trusts and loves. So far they are trying to find an emotional space or 'place' for their relationship to live, and sadly in this time period, that was an act of great courage. Especially when she must defy her grandfather to push against the status quo. As for whether the history sticks to rigid facts, not an issue for me in a fictional drama series. Seeing Korea in the midst of a pivotal change before Japanese occupation is fascinating. Bringing in Russia instead of America, might have stayed true to history, but might likely not pulled in the interest of American viewers. All things a writer must consider when going into such a big project. I'm loving this drama.

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A beautiful, moving shoe. I’m glad I got hooked in.

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Thank you for your recap, dramallama.

Hee-sung putting out a newspaper is a novel idea. Like Eugene, who questions the nobleman's ability to write a decent headline, I'm skeptical that he can write a good lead paragraph. He seems much better suited to churning out a gossip column.

If Hee-sung does succeed in launching a bona fide newspaper that publishes the truth, he'll be painting a big, fat bull's eye on himself. Neither the crown nor the Japanese will countenance his talking turkey, which does not bode well for his life expectancy. I can imagine the Righteous Army using his classified advertisements section to convey secret messages to a larger, more widely-dispersed "audience" than the colored cloth tied to an arrow that Eun-san currently employs.

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Yes, he can call it The Daily Death Wish. What is he thinking? Not to mention the logistics of a printing press, typesetters, paper and ink supplies, oh I'll just stop now. 🤦🏻‍♀️

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Well I think it's a fantastic idea. He's being bold and heroic. And a bit naive if he thinks he'll have no worries. And doesn't he have the money to purchase everything he needs?

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