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The Crowned Clown: Episode 2

With the focus turning to our kingly clown, this episode lightens things up a bit. He has a lot to learn about being king, especially this king, whose personality is the exact opposite of his own. But the fun of ruling quickly wears off as reality sets in, and an irreversible tragedy begins to shape our clown into a true king.

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

Ha Sun is taken to meet the king, who laughs like a madman at the sight of someone who looks exactly like him. Yi Heon prepares to leave the palace, but Minister Lee warns him that Ha Sun could be used against him if he isn’t trained to impersonate Yi Heon perfectly.

Yi Heon says coldly that Ha Sun’s job is to be killed in his place, which needs no training. Concerned, Minister Lee asks Yi Heon if he’s had that hard of a time, and Yi Heon replies that he’s so frightened of assassins that he’s afraid he’ll kill someone again.

Ha Sun is… less than thrilled at the idea of being the king’s double (“Just flog me instead!”), but he’s informed that if he tries to refuse, both Dal-lae, his younger sister, and Gap-soo, the clowns’ leader, will be tortured. Minister Lee says it’s only for a few days, and that when it’s over he’ll receive enough riches to last him the rest of his life.

The idea of being rich gets through to Ha Sun, but he hides his grin and pretends that he’s only agreeing because the king ordered it. He’s introduced to Eunuch Jo, who assesses him and pronounces his speech vulgar and his carriage unacceptable, and gives him major stink-eye when Ha Sun touches him. I’m gonna like this pairing.

Ha Sun’s first day as king begins before sunrise, when a whole retinue of court ladies let themselves into his bedroom. They wash his face and blow his nose (his expression when they congratulate the successful blow is priceless), then Court Lady Kim, Yi Heon’s closest attendant, comes in to dress him.

He was warned that fooling Court Lady Kim is critical to the success of this plan, so he hilariously does his best not to make eye contact even when she’s inches from his face. He yelps when her hands get a little personal with his thigh, but he plays it off as a stiff back.

At breakfast, Ha Sun marvels at the excess, but he remembers Minister Lee’s advice not to eat the same thing twice in case someone detects his favorite food and poisons it. He winces as he takes the first bite, scared he’ll drop dead, but it’s so delicious that he makes a yum noise and surprises everyone.

When he realizes what he did, Ha Sun makes the noise again and pretends to choke. The palace maid brings him a cup of water, but she gets scared and fumbles it. Ha Sun catches it and shocks everyone by saying that it’s fine. Court Lady Kim looks at him through narrowed eyes, and Eunuch Jo clocks her suspicion nervously.

Later, alone on the grounds with Eunuch Jo, Ha Sun congratulates himself on doing a pretty good job impersonating the king. Eunuch Jo warns him to have some restraint, particularly with all the smiling and showing his emotions, but Ha Sun gives him a baleful glare and walks away.

He stops in his tracks when he accidentally runs across Queen So-woon. He goes slack-jawed at her beauty, but his awe turns to horror when he learns that he’s ogling the queen.

Minister Lee had forbidden him to go near anyone from the Internal Court, especially the queen, so he clumsily huddles behind a wall when she gazes in his direction. PFFT. She knows he’s there and approaches, so he stands and makes his best stern face… then runs like a big ol’ chicken.

He gets away, leaving So-woon confused, and his next responsibility is to sit in on court discussions. Ha Sun is bored silly, but he catches Eunuch Jo’s looks of alarm when Minister Shin walks in unexpectedly.

He asks what the king has decided on as punishment for Minister Yoo and asks permission to have him executed, but poor Ha Sun has no idea what he’s talking about. Minister Lee had told him that if anyone asks permission for something, to simply say he approves.

So Ha Sun says he approves, surprising even Minister Shin, who leaves before he can change his mind. After he’s gone, Ha Sun asks Eunuch Jo innocently, “So who’s Minister Yoo?” Oh, you poor sweet child, you have really stepped in it now.

So-woon’s maid, Ae-young, runs to tell her that the king has ordered her father beheaded. So-woon barges into the king’s chambers, and Ha Sun goes into full-on panic mode when he hears that the queen is on her way.

She gets on her knees to beg for her father’s life, then pulls out a small dagger which she points at her own breast. Ha Sun runs to her and grabs her hands, accidentally tackling her in the process, but she gasps that he should have knows she’d do this when he ordered her father beheaded.

Ha Sun wrestles the knife from her hand and tosses it away, holding her tightly as he asks what he can do to make her stop. So-woon tells him that only saving her father’s life will work, so they exchange promises — Ha Sun swears to save So-woon’s father’s life, and So-woon promises not to try to kill herself again.

Ha Sun suddenly realizes that he’s got the queen in a death-grip and lets her go. He says he’ll keep her knife, while she stares at him with an expression of confusion and maybe a little respect.

Minister Lee throws his hat at Ha Sun, bellowing that the palace is not his playground, then tries to physically attack him. Ha Sun has good reflexes from his clowning experience and mostly avoids injury, but Minister Lee manages to get him into a headlock on the floor and throttles him until he taps out.

Ha Sun protests that he was only saying what Minister Lee told him to say, which gets Minister Lee to set him loose. He tells Ha Sun that he needs to be wary of Minister Shin — isn’t that the first thing you should have told the poor kid? When Minister Lee orders Ha Sun to let it go, he resorts to a series of pathetic puppy-eyed pouts.

Back in her chambers, So-woon tells her maid Ae-young that she didn’t expect the king to stop her from killing herself, and she half-believes that he’ll change his mind about saving her father. But she says that seeing him today reminded her of a time when he was crown prince and she’d cried from the stress of palace life. Yi Heon hadn’t asked her why, he’d simply held her hand and comforted her.

In the dark of night, Minister Lee goes to the hermitage where Yi Heon’s hiding out. When he arrives, he finds Yi Heon sitting in a circle of candles, clearly high on something (opium?). Yi Heon dips his hand into a bowl, scooping out something thick and black, which he smears on his face. He pours the rest of it on the ground, and as Minister Lee watches, he looks like he’s going to be sick.

Later, he approaches a still-stoned Yi Heon to discuss Minister Yoo, but Yi Heon decides to accept Minister Shin’s request and have his father-in-law executed. He does seem concerned with So-woon’s reaction when she finds out, wondering if she’ll resent him, but it doesn’t change his decision.

Minister Lee takes the king’s official orders to Ha Sun, who confesses that he can’t read the Chinese characters. Minister Lee tells him what it says so that he can officially “read” the order later, that Minister Yoo is to be removed from office and executed. Alarmed, Ha Sun reminds Minister Lee of the promise he made to the queen, but Minister Lee says that he shouldn’t make promises he doesn’t have the power to keep. He tells Ha Sun that there are only two ways to survive in the palace — step on everyone and crush them for good, or ignore them for good.

When it comes time for him to officially give the orders from Yi Heon, Ha Sun takes out the scroll and pretends to read. He repeats the part about removing Minister Yoo from office, but then he says, “… and imprison him in exile!” Minister Shin masks his surprise, Minister Lee glares angrily at Ha Sun, and Ha Sun hides behind the scroll.

When court adjourns, Minister Shin tells Minister Lee in a friendly tone that he’ll live to regret this, assuming that he changed the king’s mind. Minister Lee goes along with his assumption, saying that life is all about living with regrets.

The queen dowager is furious, ranting to Prince Jin-pyung that letting Minister Yoo live will hinder their plans to get rid of Minister Shin. Jin-pyung points out that the king likely doesn’t trust Minister Shin, and Minister Shin will probably retaliate. The queen dowager isn’t mollified — she tells Prince Jin-pyung to let her know now if he doesn’t have a clear plan to take the throne.

Minister Lee storms into the king’s chambers a second time to grab the upstart clown and give him a good shake for altering the true king’s orders. He’s curious how Ha Sun knows about imprisonment in exile when he’s admittedly uneducated, and Ha Sun looks guilty while Eunuch Jo studiously inspects a random window tassel, hee.

In his defense, Eunuch Jo squeaks that Ha Sun asked him which punishment comes directly underneath execution. Minister Lee snarls that if it happens again, Eunuch Jo’s place in the palace will be out with the latrines. He turns back to Ha Sun, who’s collapsed to the floor, but he just huffs in disgust and leaves.

Ha Sun learns that Minister Yoo will be leaving for exile the following day, so he asks Minister Lee if the queen can see her father off. Minister Lee informs him of the rule that once a woman enters the palace, she can never leave it alive, but Ha Sun argues that filial piety is more important than tradition (Minister Lee: “Did Eunuch Jo tell you that?” Ha Sun: “Um… I just heard it somewhere…”).

Because he’s actually a big old softie, Minister Lee escorts So-woon to say goodbye to her father himself. Their goodbye is heartbreaking, but Minister Yoo tells So-woon that he’s grateful to the king for sparing his life. Ae-young gives him some clothing that So-woon made herself, and he finally breaks down.

The palace maid that Yi Heon terrorized steels herself before bringing Ha Sun his bedtime snack. Ha Sun notices her fear and asks about her, so she tells him that her name is Gye-hwan and she’s fifteen.

She serves his food, and her own tummy growls at the scent. She confesses that the maids are only given his breakfast leftovers to eat, and today he ate a lot. Shocked, Ha Sun tells Gye-hwan to taste his porridge but not to burn her mouth, and now she’s the shocked one since to her knowledge, this is the same person who force-fed her piping hot porridge just a few days ago.

She obediently tries the spoonful of porridge, then another, and he adopts a stern expression and tells her to keep tasting. As he watches her eat, he wonders what Dal-lae is doing right now.

Dal-lae is begging the gisaeng, Woon-shim, to save her brother. Woon-shim tells her kindly that Ha Sun wasn’t arrested, but she can’t explain what’s happening. Woon-shim promises to find out what happened to Ha Sun, and she sends Dal-lae to bed.

On the way there, the same young noble that was staring at Dal-lae earlier notices her sniffling and wiping her eyes. He asks Woon-shim who she is, and Woon-shim tells him that she’s a clown, not someone who serves men. The young noble doesn’t look pleased to hear that he can’t have her.

He leaves the gibang angry, but a servant follows him and offers to bring Dal-lae to his home — for a fee. The noble pays the man.

While walking the palace grounds, Eunuch Jo asks Ha Sun why he keeps picking up hazelnuts. Ha Sun admits that they’re a gift for his sister. Dal-lae, and when Eunuch Jo offers to get her something better, Ha Sun says that the hazelnuts are special because they come from the king’s palace.

They come upon a bridge where So-woon’s ladies are tossing pebbles into a bowl floating on the water. Eunuch Jo says they’re making wishes, following the legend of a king’s maid who made a wish this way and gave birth to a son. Ha Sun notices that So-woon isn’t wishing, and Eunuch Jo explains that as queen, she has to remain dignified.

The ladies notice Ha Sun is near, and So-woon approaches to thank him for letting her see her father, making Ha Sun giggle shyly, but So-woon doesn’t return his smile. He asks for her hand and drops the hazelnuts into it, which confuses her.

He murmurs that he knows she wants to make a wish but can’t, and that cracking a hazelnut surprises the goblin that protects a house into granting her a wish. He tells So-woon to crack one and make a wish in private, and maybe it will come true. As she heads back to her chambers, So-woon stops to look at the hazelnuts, and something in her expression softens.

Gye-hwan is given orders to take Ha Sun his bedtime snack again. She leaves the kitchen, and a woman enters and sprinkles a white powder on top of the food.

Gye-hwan reminds Ha Sun of his sister so he asks how she came to live at the palace, and she tells him that her father couldn’t pay his taxes. He’s about to take a bite of his food, but he puts it down as he asks Gye-hwan to explain. Whew!

The gibang worker tells Dal-lae that he’s supposed to take her to her brother. She follows him to a house and tells her to wait, but it’s not Ha Sun who arrives. Wordlessly, the young noble steps inside and closes the door.

Ha Sun learns that Gye-hwan’s father had to borrow money to pay an unfair tax tribute. He ran out of possessions to use as collateral, so he sold Gye-hwan. She says that it’s better that her father has one less mouth to feed, plus she’s proud to have helped pay his debt.

Ha Sun is moved to tears by her story, angry at the people who are exploiting the poor. He offers Gye-hwan his sweets, nearly making a huge mistake and saying that she reminds him of his sister. Gye-hwan eats the treat gratefully, but after only a few seconds, she gags and vomits up blood.

Ha Sun screams for help as Gye-hwan collapses in his arms. He picks her up and runs to the royal physician, but it’s too late. Ha Sun is unable to believe that Gye-hwan is dead when they were just talking and laughing, but soon it hits him that she’s gone.

Minister Lee arrives with the palace guard who always seems to be nearby. The guard says, “My lord, that’s…” but Minister Lee cuts him off before he can say any more. He tells Eunuch Jo to take Ha Sun back to his chambers and not to leave him alone, and after he’s gone, the physician tells Minister Lee that the girl was probably poisoned.

In shock, Ha Sun can only stand in his chambers shaking, realizing how close he came to eating the poisoned sweets. He looks down at Gye-hwan’s blood on his hands and his knees give out.

Minister Lee finally shows up and tells the guard not to allow anyone in the king’s quarters. Ha Sun asks frantically if the reason he’s here is to die in the king’s place. He says that he’s leaving, but Minister Lee grabs a sword and holds it to Ha Sun’s throat, threatening to kill him if he tries.

Ha Sun spits that he’s dead either way, but he stops when Minister Lee tells him that if he dies, his sister and Gap-soo will both be punished. Eunuch Jo announces that the queen is here, and Ha Sun calls out to let her in, forcing Minister Lee to put down the sword.

When they’re alone, So-woon noticed that Ha Sun’s hands are trembling. She takes his handkerchief and wipes the blood away, then reaches up to clean the blood from his face. She gently removes his stained robe, and Ha Sun finally speaks, telling her that he’s sorry.

In the hall, Minister Lee hears a thump, and he rushes into the king’s chambers to find So-woon alone. Ha Sun had told her that he couldn’t stay in the palace any longer, but when he got up to leave, she’d stopped him with a hand on his arm. She’d reminded him that when he (Yi Heon) was the crown prince, he’d told her that he could do anything with her at his side, and that they’d be friends forever.

She’d said that she wants to be there for him, but Ha Sun had just gasped, “I can’t,” and pulled away. He’d escaped through a secret tunnel he’d previously discovered behind the bed, leaving So-woon behind, heartbroken.

He makes it to the gibang and finds Gap-soo, who wails at the sight of him, but when Ha Sun asks for Dal-lae, Gap-soo cries even harder. Ha Sun staggers inside to find Dal-lae, battered and bruised, and she throws herself into his arms. Ohthankgod, she’s alive.

Ha Sun asks who did this to her, but she’s mute from shock. Gap-soo explains that a servant took her to a horrible man who did this to her when she resisted him. It dawns on Ha Sun exactly what his sister has suffered, and he pulls her into his arms, both of them sobbing piteously.

When he gets control of himself, Ha Sun demands to know the name of the man who did this. Woon-shim tells him that he’s Shin Yi-geom… Minister Shin’s son.

Hearing that, Ha Sun gives Dal-lae one last loving look, then storms out. His face hidden by a clown mask, he grabs the servant who lured Dal-lae and leads him to the Shin home, a knife to his throat. He bellows a demand to see Yi-geom, drawing out both Dal-lae’s attacker and his father.

Minister Shin immediately knows that his son has done it again (~shudder~), and Yi-geom at least has the sense to look ashamed. Minister Shin orders one of his men to send the brother away with two yang, about the value of a dog in the market, and when Ha Sun objects, he’s beaten by Minister Shin’s men.

His mask flies off and he shakes with fury, screaming that his sister is not a dog. They continue beating him until Shin’s man stops them, tosses two yang to Ha Sun, and tells him to be grateful he’s getting away with his life.

Minister Lee shows up at the gibang looking for Ha Sun, and Woon-shim lies that she hasn’t seen Ha Sun since Minister Lee took him away. He arrives at the palace at dawn, only to be informed that “the king” has returned on his own. He finds Ha Sun in the throne room, wearing the royal crimson robes and looking for all the world like Yi Heon in a homicidal sulk.

Ha Sun approaches Minister Lee as if the weight of the world is on his shoulders and reminds Minister Lee that he said there are only two ways to survive in the palace. Minister Lee asks why Ha Sun returned, and Ha Sun says that he came back, ” …to learn the way to trample someone until they stop breathing.”

He steps closer to Minister Lee, looks him directly in the eyes, and asks, “Teach me the way.”

 
COMMENTS

Ha Sun was so cute playing king, but unfortunately, cute is the very last thing he has the luxury to be. This is what I was afraid of — he’s so young and innocent, and now he’s learning the hard way that one careless glance, one simple noise made at the wrong time, could literally get him killed. Palace life is going to change him, and not in a good way, and I think that’s going to be very hard to watch. And it’s already begun — when Gye-hwan was poisoned and the reason for his being in the palace hit Ha Sun full-force, for a moment he looked and sounded exactly the way Yi Heon sounds when he’s losing it.

My hope is that being king will change Ha Sun for the better once he gets ahold of himself, and we saw the beginnings of that when he bucked the king’s order and sent the queen’s father into exile instead of killing him. To me that moment said two things: that Ha Sun is a man of his word who is committed to keeping a promise he made, and that he’s got the kind of moral fiber that makes him willing to risk his own life to do the right thing. Now he has a personal reason to stay — revenge — and I’d love to see him is his fear and anger in a more productive was than Yi Heon has been able to, and use it to grow stronger.

Yeo Jin-gu continues to amaze me with his performance as both the king and the clown, so you may as well get used to seeing me gush about him in my Comments! It’s incredible how distinct and separate the two characters are, but what’s really fascinating is how Yeo Jin-gu’s chemistry with Lee Se-young (which is absolutely off the charts) somehow feels completely different depending on which character he’s portraying in that moment. Yi Heon and So-woon smolder and seethe, anger and longing lacing their every word, making it obvious that there was love there once. But between Ha Sun and So-woon, the chemistry is bright and sparking, tinged with Ha Sun’s innocence and So-woon’s hope that she might be getting back the man she fell in love with. You can’t fake that — that’s just pure talent and charisma on the part of both actors.

Ha Sun and So-woon’s first meeting (not that she was aware of it) was explosive, and just another example of why I already love this drama to a ridiculous degree. Ha Sun had already been struck speechless by So-woon’s beauty, so when she tried to kill herself right in front of him, it’s no surprise that he got very emotionally involved, very quickly. And she, to the best of her knowledge, is seeing a surprisingly caring side of her husband that reminds her of happier days, and she looked both shocked and intrigued in that moment. Compound that with the fact that he kept his promise and continues to do kind things for her, and it’s no wonder she’s discovering renewed interest in him.

I really like how this episode lightened the mood a bit with Ha Sun’s antics, while managing not to minimize the extreme danger he’s in. In fact, the show actually went to a very dark place and upped the ante when not one, but two young girls suffered horrendous fates because Ha Sun wasn’t able to protect them. I feel like it was necessary for something tragic to affect Ha Sun personally, because as horrible as it is to see a violent act done to a child, Ha Sun needed some sort of incentive to make him understand exactly what’s going on and take this whole thing seriously. He’s about to figure out how to be proactive instead of reactive, which is what’s needed for a true king to survive and rule. If someone had to suffer in order for that to happen, then as appalling as it is that one girl lost her innocence and another lost her life in the space of one night, their misfortune might just spur Ha Sun on to doing what Yi Heon couldn’t, and actually enact some positive change.

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Ah finally. it's here. Thanks @lollypip for the recap.
Yeo Jin-gu is so wonderful. I only remember him from a few good project, and so happy to see him back with this amazing character.
I believe that Hasun still being his self even tough his goal is revenge. Can't wait to meet with monday again....

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That ending where even Yi Kyu was confused and thought it was the King at the throne. Wow.

I agree so much with the recap! So insane how Yeo Jin Goo's chemistry with Lee Se Young is SO GOOD whichever character he's playing. That scene from first ep with Yi Heon saying people would think it's YH rejecting Sowoon when in fact it's the other way around. Then you have Haseon and Sowoon with the hazelnuts~ and the way Sowoon heart broke seeing upfront how Haseon got traumatized and when he had to run away. The chemistries on both pairs are so different but so electrifying already.

Haseon playing king by himself is soooo cute and Eunuch Jo getting fixated on that knot decor when Yi Kyu was interrogating Haseon OMG. I can't wait for more of these three's antics in the future.

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You're right. I was confused too. Kudos to the producers for inserting that brief scene of the king fumbling around in the dark as if he's heading somewhere right before Ha Sun returned.

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Yeah, that brief scene made it seem like Yi Heon stumbled out of his temple hideout and went back to the palace... on the other hand, if he didn’t go to the palace, that means he’s fumbling around somewhere in the woods right? I’d love to see him interact with Joseon people in future episodes instead of wasting his time away in smoke-filled caves and bloody rituals.

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I'd love to see him chance upon Ha Sun's trope and become Ha Sun too.

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Thanks @bdxpelik for pointing that out. I missed it.

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I didn't realize that was Yi Heon staggering out, I thought it was Ha Sun leaving the gibang in disguise, but I looked again and it had to be Yi Heon cause he was wearing the same clothes as when he left the palace. I also didn't realize that Yi Kyu thought it was Yi Heon sitting on the throne at first. I missed a lot. :D

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I can't ship anybody with the King. His problem is pretty clear to me now. He is an addict. Now was he one before he killed his brother or after, that remains to be seen and I am also curious to know if his enemies had a hand in it or not. But Ye Jin Gu, my Goodness this guy is something. Lee Se Young continues to show her growth as an actress. They have amazing chemistry. I am intrigued who will get her heart at the end. The king or the clown. For me this is, Kill Me, Heal Me SLS again.

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I love the set for the King's bedroom. It's different from a standard sageuk's, and always adds to the mood of the scenes that take place there. I also love the large room for the king's throne. And I'm extremely impressed with the perfect directing. Overall a very beautiful sageuk with very beautiful people.

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Honestly Hasun isnt at fault here. Its just they wont train him properly first. Ofc he will make some mistakes! Fortunately hes smart and adapting well (at least not making the same mistakes twice). Also why didnt the maid try the food first (I think its called gimi?) before serving it? Even its just an evening snack

I also support Hasun-Sowoon couple! Barely 2 eps but they have showed amazing chemistry. He falls for her at her beauty (and continues supporting her) and Sowoon falls for his kindness. On the other hand, seems like Hasun reminds her of old Hun thats why she likes him. Hopefully at the end of the drama she wont be confused on whom she likes actually

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They have no choice since Yi Heon decided to leave right away. Ha Sun still fumbles through the basics which is kind of realistic?

As for our lovely queen. There is something about her that I can't get over. Why is she not helping Yi Heon if he was once a good husband to her? He is obviously crying for help, overwhelmed with the weight of the crown. Even in his state of paranoia, he still holds her in high regards.
It would make sense if he abuses her but he doesn't. What's with her change of heart? He seems to have been there for her during her hard times.

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I don't know if it's any proof or anything but in the queen's teaser video, when the clown arrived, her line was, "At last, I have fallen for His Majesty."

Maybe what she once had for the King was respect and friendship but she hasn't truly fallen in love with him yet.

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This is going to be more complicated than I thought. I hope Yi Heon is not going to spend the rest of the drama doped up in that cave.

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@LollyPip OMG....You are a re-caping demon at the moment your byline is everywhere. I so hope you are still finding joy in the dramas you watch.

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I genuinely do this because I love it more than just about anything :)

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I agree with everything you wrote.

I'm already completely invested in the fates of Ha Sun and his sister, So Woon, and also the king, horrible as he is. I want to know what corrupted him so completely, I want to know if there's still any part of him that's human enough to save, I want to know his and So Woon's history, I want to see Ha Sun and So Woon tentatively fall in love and most of all I want to see Ha Sun struggle with the weight of this new world he's been dumped into but ultimately NOT turn out like the king did. Pretty please. I can't take it if another Jin Goo turns into a murderous maniac.

So in summary, I think this drama and Yeo Jin Goo and the rest of the cast are doing a masterful job and I'm all the way hooked.

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Re the king in Crowned Clown (or his supporters) killing off his younger brother:

Historically Gwanghae and/or his supporters offed both his older, incompetent full brother (sons of concubine) and his younger half brother (son of queen). Both were arguably threats to his throne and the way Korean palace politics worked, once you appeared to be such it was pretty much win or die. And even if you didn't want it, you could be put on the spot by supporters including wife's relatives, mother's relatives, or anybody who didn't like the current king. Being a kid just made you a puppet, not harmless.

The next king was supposed to be both the oldest son *and* son of the queen, but if he wasn't both of those then there was automatically at least one other plausible contender, which could lead to quite a body-count.

And speaking of "mother's relatives", the situation in Korea was scarier than in Europe at the time because in Europe there could only be one queen at a time and the kids of a mistress could not inherit, so unless the queen died you didn't have to worry about half-brothers with ambitious grandfathers and uncles or about a pretty new queen pillow-talking the king into putting her kid ahead of the older half-brothers (body count again, one way or the other). This could reduce bloodshed and keep things much calmer, but sometimes made it hard to keep the crown in the family. Just ask England's Henry VIII, who went thru so many wives trying to get a legitimate heir and eventually left the crown to his daughters even though he had a son who could have taken over under Korean rules.

No wonder they can depict Gwanghae as paranoid. Not son of queen. Not oldest son. And eventually he got deposed. Is it paranoia if they really are out to get you?

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BTW, if you want to look him up, there is a huge mistake in the Wikipedia article on Gwanghae. It says the younger half-brother died twice, once soon after Gwanghae came to the throne and once a few years later. Good trick if you can pull that off :) Other parts of Wikipedia say the older brother died first, then the younger.

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@lordcobol

So glad you wrote this. The royal courts the world over have always been Lord of the flies...just dressed in refined clothes.

P.S...history is written by the victors. Always be suspicious of stories noting people as "crazy" when they are written by those who usurped them.

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I find it very suspicious that some parts of Gwanghae's historical records turns out to be missing.
What were they trying to hide?

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They have removed Gwanghae from the script and introduced a fictional king in this drama. That said, Gwanghae is definitely one of the most interesting king in Joseon history. Apparently besides the line of heirs to the throne, even his father wanted him dead.

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Maybe Gwanghae didn't have it in him to eliminate all the threats to the throne like King Taejong did. He should have done a full bloody house cleaning.
If he had done that, he would have remained on the throne and Korea would have been saved from 2 devastating Manchu invasions.
I also think that the righteous army who fought with the teenage crown prince Gwanghae during the 7 yr war with Japan were not about to follow an incompetent king like Injo.
He was one of the worse kings in the history of Joseon.

But that's politics back then. If you don't kill, you'll be killed or exiled.

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Thank you @lordcobol and @kiara, My history lessons have begun.
I went back to the beginning of episode one to check and there is a disclaimer "....in this drama are fiction and have no relation to historical facts." So we are dealing with historical fiction. Nevertheless I consider TCC a good opportunity to learn more about Korean history.
I found this article in New World Encyclopedia quite helpful on getting a handle on Prince Gwanghae:
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Gwanghaegun_of_Joseon
The article explains why old King Seonjo (who was on the throne for over 40 years) appointed Prince Gwanghae as Crown Prince. So far in TCC we have not been give Yi-Heon's back story. We pick up the story where he is or has lost it.
According to this report Yi-Heon was chosen to succeed his father because he was more capable than his older brother and the King's son (our Prince Yul) from his second Queen (our Dowager Queen) was too young and would result in a long Regency.
OK @kiara and @pakalanapikake I am ready to be corrected.

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Love the Korean history lessons.

Re Henry VIII, though, upon his death the throne went to his son by Jane Seymour, Edward VI, who was crowned at age 9 (Although England was ruled by a regency council due to his young age). He died at age 15, most likely of pneumonia following a bout of measles and/or smallpox.

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Yeo Jin-gu has given this dying genre a new life. He may not bring back the golden era of sageuks but his performance could reach the level of those amazing sageuk veterans like Kim Yeong-cheol in the future.

That smile (on the first screen shot) and the way he switches dialects and mannerism was golden.

I think he can be firm (putting it mildly) in his judgement as the substitute king and still retain his winning kind and caring heart till the end.

I didn't expect Kim Sang-Kyung to make me laugh. He is always so dang serious in his sageuk roles but I died laughing at his kung fu flying kick at the throne room.
I think he is starting to see and feel something special in Ha Sun at the same time he is worried and disappointed with the other.

I'm glad they changed the poop scene from the movie to nose blowing lol. That's the advantage of having a female PD. Cut the gross stuff out. "Congratulation Jeon-ah" still makes me laugh anyway.

I remember reading about hazelnut as a symbol of fertility or something like that. I think the queen is going to secretly wish for a baby boy and then we'd spend the rest of the show trying to figure out who the real father is lol.

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In just a single episode, it's heartbreaking how his innocent smile at the thought of receiving money enough to set them up for life turned to an empty, broken expression, enough for Yi Kyu to mistake him for the mad king.

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@kiara Since you brought up the movie a couple things:
1. The not serious. When the attendants came into Ha Sun's room on that first morning I did check out what they were carrying (to see if something looked like a portable John. Thankfully not;
2. The serious, maybe. When Minister Lee visited Yi-Heon at his hide out and found him stoned on whatever he was smoking, YH's chest was exposed briefly and there was a mark on his chest (left side I think). That maybe important down the line; and
3. Speaking of smoking. I am assuming it is opium. Granted I haven't watched that many saeguks but I can't remember ever seeing opium used. Can you recall opium being used in other historical dramas?

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Re: 3
I don’t know if it was exactly opium or not, but there was a scene in Empire of Lust (a movie) where a character was smoking drugs thru a, albeit bigger, pipe. Opium was used (recreationally) in China since probably the Ming dynasty? I’m sure there was an underground opium trade somewhere going on between Korea and China.

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#2 You are right. That mark is important because just like in the movie, the chest scar is one of the things that separates the King from the clown.

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Sorry @bong-soo I'm late to the party.

1. I am thankful too lol.
2. Agree with @circulate9oo
3. Agree with @DJLINHLINH.
Joseon was a vassal state of Ming so they had the right to trade freely with China so it is most likely opium.
In JACKPOT Yeo Jin-gu's father played by Choi Min-soo was sickly towards the end of his life. In his room there were burning opium incense sticks probably to relieve the pain or prolong his life.

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I noticed the mark on his chest, also, and figured it was significant.

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I love how they mix humor and serious in the same scene. When he says, “… and imprison him in exile!” , everyone are very serious, the music too but Ha Sun is hidding behind the scroll in a comedic way.

I was surprised the young maid is already dead. In the movie, he really made a connection with her before she died. It happened very soon in the drama. I guess they needed a trigger to make him run away.

Poor little sister :( Sold by a man to a pervert. Ha Sun who loves her so much must feel so guilty because he wasn't there for her.

I agree with @lollypip the both relationships between the King and the Queen and the Clow and the Queen are very different and we can feel different emotions. Their acting is great.

I'm curious about the reaction of the King when he will learn that his father-in-law is still alive.

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And both times Haseon was pretending to read the scroll, it was upside down. 😅

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I've been watching way too many children in dramas suffer lately...

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For me, I'm so happy for Yeo Jin Gu and Lee Se Young that the drama rating is high. They so deserved it. I love both of them and I agree with Lollypip, their chemistry is off the chart!

And on to the episode, I somehow start to have sympathy for Yi Heon this episode, purely based on everything So Woon said to Ha Sun when he was running away. I kept imagining how Yi Heon would react if the queen said something like that to him.

Even though the drama feels less lively without the two (three) main characters, I think the politics is not boring. Everyone has their own agenda, no wonder that drives Yi Heon crazy. I feel like I'm crazy to have this much sympathy for the disturbed king. Wkwkwkk.

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Many have already praised this drama. I'll just point out that this drama is sexy without trying hard to be. PD-nim, thank you. Please point out which scenes you think are sexy in both episodes. Mine would be:
- Clown drinking water - if that water was sponsored, I will buy it
- Queen's rejection of the King
- Clown sleeping -- half open robe while sleeping is always more sexy than having a fully open robe.

I like this PD is what I'm saying. She's doing some wonderful things here.

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- Yi Heon's bathing scene, heh..
- Yi Heon saying how the Queen would also probably look at him the same way Yi Kyu is looking at him at the time. It's just the way Yeo Jin Goo delivered that line. Ugh.
- Queen cleaning up the blood on Haseon - the way Haseon looks at her when she took of his robe... it felt so emotional and there was so much tension in that scene.

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I really thought that minister Lee would've kept watch on HS's troop and his sister, if only to use them to threaten HS. Atleast then whatever happened to the sis could be prevented. I understand that there was no reason for him to keep an eye on them, just wishing he did.

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Yeah. It was terrible and could have been prevented.
One thing I always conclude by watching sageuks is that I’m thankful I wasn’t born a woman in Joseon. How men treated them like objects makes my blood boil.

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Yep. The poor were treated less than human, even worse if it's a woman.

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Ok, wow Episode 2, you did not have to end THAT intensely. I was not prepared. And did Ha-sun just turn to the dark side? He was so menacing. I want to think not, because he was such a sweet character—but Yi-heon was supposedly such a sweet character once, too, and look at him now. Is this show going to be about the flux these two characters are in between their better selves and their worse selves? It feels like a tragedy for someone—Ha-sun probably, right? I was (and am) as impressed with this show as everyone else is, but now I'm thinking I may need to wait until it's over to watch it. I may need some crucial spoilers before I get too invested.

Random side note: Part of me was hoping that we wouldn't be clear as to which "king" had returned at the end; that there would have been some scene that showed Minister Shin's disgusting son doing something specifically that also angered Yi-Heon. So that YH and HS would both be so enraged that we aren't sure who is who, at least for a little while.

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1. Nothing unspeakably bad happened to lil sis right? Somebody please tell me no!
2. Was the maid played by little queen Dankyung of 7DQ/Yeon-hee of SFD?
3. The settings, cinematography and everyrhing are SO great, but it picks my curiosity that Queen Yoo is dressed in VERY moderate robes that are more fit for a Crown Princess? I know she's a modest character, but from what I've gathered so far from Sageuks, Queens have their 4 circular dragon emblems in Gold and other printed patterns too, in golden. Their skirts have TWO rings of gold leaf print. But here, Queen Yoo's designs are silver, and she has only one ring on her skirt? It seems like it was done purposefully. I didn't watch the film, but from the teasers I recall that there too, Queen Yoo dressed VERY differently from the Joseon queens we've seen so far on TV, despite all the cinematography and sets looking quite artistic. 🤔 I wonder why?

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2. Yes, the little maid is my favourite child actress Park Si Eun from SEVEN DAY QUEEN. She was also in JUST BETWEEN LOVERS and 30 BUT 17.

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wish she had more scenes..

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She is definitely one of my favorite young actresses! I am definitely expecting her character to take on more significance in the story soon.

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Okay, this is what happens when making a comment before finishing watching the episode 😭😭😭 Waeeee?? I look forward seeing her in future dramas soon.

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Sadly it did. Could she be suffering from aphasia because of it? She was unable to talk.

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YJG is KILLING IT! I can't take how amazing he is and how off the charts his chemistry is with everyone. And I think we're getting a glimpse into how Yi Heon changed so much when we see how Ha Sun looked sitting on the throne at the end. It was like he was at the end of his rope dealing with all the terrible things in the world and Yi Heon has been dealing with all this stuff for years which probably sent him over the edge. Now it remains to be seen if palace life will cause Ha Sun to go down the same path of insanity as the king. My money says no.

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I love it so far. The acting and cinematography is on point. I knew Jin Gu’s saguek won’t disappoint me!!!

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Thanks @lollypip!
That chemistry tho!!! I was trying to say that last episode but i don't know how lol. It's so amazing how both Yiheon and Hasun's chemistry is crazy explosive in their own way.
The reason why I was going to wait a few ep is in to watch this drama is bcs I need to know if I'm gonna get my heart broken by any of this. I mean, in Sowoon's perspective it's just cruel giving her the man she loved and get her to fall in love with him again yet to know that the man is not actually who she thought to be. But that whole thing Sowoon said about Yiheon telling her he could do anything with her by his side tho. It's totally toring my heart

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Yay! Now THIS is what I need in my life!

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I almost had a heart attack when ha sun's mask fell off in front of minister shin. I thought 'no!! It's not yet time!' 😱

And I cried with ha sun's sister. So dark and heavy.

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Ah, my long awaited kdrama version! I love the masquerade movie to pieces, but I really did wish it was longer and thankfully, the dramagods heard my prayer.

Also these past few months, I've been missing my sageuks and this just came at the right time. Yeo Jin-gu is awesome as always playing the two characters, that I actually hate him when I see him playing Yi-Heon. I can already tell, this is his next drama that I'm gonna complete after Circle.

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Lighter? The brutal rape of a child. The murder of another child by poison. Lot of misery and suffering to go around. Not getting the "lighthearted" vibe here, folks.

Hoping that the little prince somehow survived and comes back to kick his Hyung's ass to the curb. Hey, it could happen, right?

Also, is the Queen supposed to be older than the Emperor? Fine if that's the way it happened--royal marriages and all--but the obvious age difference is distracting me, just as it did in "Moon Embracing the Sun."

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It's interesting that you say that the age difference is bothering you. Lee Se Young and Yeo Jin Goo are actually both in their early-mid twenties so it's not like one of the actors is a decade older or something. Perhaps the Queen's downtrodden and tired expressions compared to Ha Seon's energetic boyish vibe make her seem older than she is.

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There is a five year age gap. I find it interesting that few people have a problem with a 10+ year age gap when the man is older, but when the woman is even a little bit older, it is "distracting."

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I'm sorry, but you have misunderstood me. The obvious age difference is distracting me because I don't know if it's part of the story or not. I mean, when a king went looking for a bride for his son, did he choose someone the same age and/or younger because of fertility concerns? Or was it all about the bride's connections? Nobody mentions it so I find myself wondering.

When King Henry VIII married his brother's widow, Katherine of Aragon, she was five years older. They wanted to keep the alliance, so they got over all the other considerations. But apparently, it was a big concern. Royal brides of former times always seem to be very young.

In any case, I'm not a sexist and actually, a big age difference when the man is older DOES bother me.

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I don't think the age different is part of the story.
Although this is a fictional take based on a real life historical figure there is some obvious inspiration from the actual history.
The king's birth name and his queen are the same in this drama and they were only a year apart in age.

In Joseon, the royal family and nobles' children especially were expected to get married at a very young age.
Historically, Yi Heon and his queen were married in their early teen (iirc he was 12 and she was 11).
Yi Heon was not groomed to be a king because he was not the queen's biological son and he was the 2nd son of a concubine.

The bride selection was the main queen's responsibility for all the children born to the king were technically hers even if she didn't give birth to them.

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This drama has brought my interests in seaguk again. And as said yeo jin goo is living his role of life. When it was declared that movie would be made info drama i had bo gum in mind. But certainly yeo jin goo has came beyond my expectations. He is killing it.
This drama has given me a girl to be fangirling. Lee se young. I loved her in dae jang geum, which whave recently completed. She is so good. The way she is carrying herself as queen. I am awestruck. Certainly far better than the hyped Kim's in child actors league for saeguk. May this drama be huge like the movie 😊

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I'm happy that the tension is lesser for this episode so it gives a room for the comedy and I really love it. That chemistry between two, I'm a fan already, I'm with you @lollypip :D

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