The Crowned Clown: Episode 10
As careful as our clown-king and his supporters are, the truth is that he is an impostor, and it seems inevitable that someone will discover his secret. The suspense of not knowing who it will be, how they will find the truth, or what they will do with that information is keeping me on the edge of my seat. We’ll learn the answer to that question in this episode, and we can only hope that the person who discovers Ha Sun’s true identity gives him a chance to explain.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
Under the falling snow, Ha Sun kisses So-woon. They back up to look deeply into each other’s eyes, then kiss again. Behind her back, So-woon still holds Ha Sun’s note saying, “Even if I die missing you, I am happy to have known you.”
Later they sit together in the library, feeling a bit shy. Eventually Ha Sun asks So-woon if it’s difficult to adjust to having less food, and she says she’s glad to do whatever helps him. He asks what she most wants so he can give it to her, but she says happily that he already gave her his most precious possession — his heart.
He asks again, eager to do something else to make So-woon happy, and she admits haltingly that she’d like to give him a son. Ha Sun is so stunned that he can’t think of anything to say.
In the king’s chambers, Minister Lee finds Eunuch Jo drawing Ha Sun a picture and grinning goofily at the one Ha Sun drew of him. Awww.
As they’re leaving the library, So-woon takes Ha Sun’s hand in hers, but he quickly drops it when Minister Lee approaches, saying that he needs to talk to Ha Sun urgently. Ha Sun doesn’t want his date with So-woon to end so she gracefully excuses herself.
When they’re alone, Minister Lee asks if the queen is the person Ha Sun said he wanted to become king to protect. Ha Sun admits it’s true, though he adds that she’s not his only reason. Minister Lee reminds Ha Sun that he’s deceiving her, and that even though he’s the real king now, he’ll always be fake to the queen.
Ha Sun promises to tell her the truth, but Minister Lee says that she’s the most upright person in the palace, so revealing himself will only cause them both pain. He reminds Ha Sun that his original purpose in coming here was to avenge Dal-lae and change the world, and warns him that while he’s focusing on his feelings, the country and its people will be put in danger.
Gap-soo goes back to the gibang, hoping to find out from Woon-shim where Ha Sun is. Dal-lae is scared to go in, afraid she’ll run into the monk again, who she still believes was keeping Ha Sun hostage. Sure enough, monk Jung Saeng and Ho-geol come right up to them, Ho-geol recognizing them as having asked about the dragon knife.
Dal-lae yells at Jung Saeng, “Where did you hide my brother?!” and yells even more when he has no idea what she’s talking about. Gap-soo reassures her that Jung Saeng would never hide anyone, but she insists that she saw it with her own eyes.
Overhearing the argument, Woon-shim runs over to hug Dal-lae, who says that she’s been staying away because of that monk. She cries to Woon-shim that Jung Saeng kept her brother locked up, but Jung Saeng says there’s a misunderstanding.
When Minister Lee arrives at the gibang, Woon-shim tells him that Dal-lae saw the poster accusing the king of being an impostor, and has been looking for Ha Sun. She thinks they should let Dal-lae and Ha Sun see each other, but Minister Lee says she wouldn’t believe him if he told her where Ha Sun is, and it would put Dal-lae in danger.
He also says that Gap-soo and Dal-lae can’t stay here, since some of the servants will remember Ha Sun, and he tells Woon-shim to take them back to the temple. Dal-lae refuses to go, but Woon-shim assures her that Ha Sun is safe, and that he’ll contact them at the temple.
So they move to the temple, but not before one of the servants tells Minister Kim the details of who they are and where they’re going. He orders his man to locate the small temple and report back to him.
In the morning, So-woon brings ginger tea for Ha Sun. Ha Sun is distracted after Minister Lee’s lecture last night, so he drinks the tea and immediately reacts. He has to admit that he doesn’t like ginger, which confuses So-woon (ginger was always Yi Heon’s favorite).
After she leaves, Eunuch Jo asks Ha Sun if he’s decides to set aside his feelings for the queen. Ha Sun sighs that he doesn’t know what to do, starting to cry. He says that Minister Lee is right, but he doesn’t know how to stop loving her.
Minister Lee arrives to talk about tomorrow’s court assembly, where he wants Ha Sun to promote Ho-geol so that he can survey the land where the rice payment law will be enforced. They also need to move the state exam forward, to replace the magistrates who were fired for embezzlement. Not only that, but Minister Lee intends to allow sons of concubines to take the exam.
Of course the ministers oppose both the exam and Ho-geol’s promotion, horrified by the thought of such lowly people being allowed to rise above their station. The Minister of Taxation backs up Ha Sun, saying that Ho-geol is the best man for the job.
Prince Jin-pyung complains to Minister Kim that the king is taxing the nobles and giving peasants coveted positions. Minister Kim guesses that Minister Lee is behind it, because it looks good while at the same time throttling Minister Kim’s income and getting rid of his people.
While drinking flower tea from the Royal Infirmary, So-woon worries to Ae-young that the king is working too much. She wants to do something nice for him, so Ae-young suggests she write him a love letter in reply to his.
In the library, Ha Sun sadly puts the brush pouch that So-woon embroidered for him in a box, and Eunuch Jo takes it away. Eunuch Jo looks like his heart is breaking for Ha Sun, but he just brings him a book that Yi Heon transcribed to study his writing. Ha Sun notes Yi Heon’s neat handwriting, and although he practices hard, his own handwriting looks large and sloppy next to Yi Heon’s.
He’s practicing his swordsmanship the next morning when Moo-young joins him, joking that his moves are tacky. Ha Sun is glad to see him, and Moo-young says that he intended to quit, but he didn’t like how things were going. Ha Sun notices that Moo-young is speaking formally, and Moo-young says that the palace isn’t private so it’s safer for both of them.
Putting on an overly-sympathetic expression, Ha Sun moans, “You’ve fallen for me, too. You’ll want to say otherwise, so I’ll look the other way,” and Moo-young almost laughs, ha. Ha Sun asks Moo-young to teach him real sword-work, and he gapes as Moo-young demonstrates his own deadly skills. Ha Sun attacks, but Moo-young knocks his sword out of his hand in a few moves.
Ha Sun uses an acrobatic clown move to flip out of reach, but Moo-young still nearly nicks his ear. Moo-young hands him his sword and Ha Sun abruptly takes a swing, which Moo-young deftly avoids. He gives Ha Sun this look, and Ha Sun wisely runs for his life. LOL.
Ho-geol is nearly brought to tears by the fine robe that Woon-shim makes for his new position. Minister Kim laughs at his preening and warns him not to be late on his first day, but on his way in, Ho-geol is surrounded by a group of angry-looking Sungkyunkwan students.
Ha Sun hears the cries of the Sungkyunkwan students and learns that they’re blocking Ho-geol from entering the palace. They beg him not to allow those of the lower class to take the state exam, and they present him with a petition that has so many signatures that it shocks Ha Sun.
Minister Kim shows up feigning concern, having heard about the emergency. Ha Sun asks angrily if it’s wrong to have talented people join the court, and Minister Kim replies that someone as lowly as Ho-geol doesn’t deserve to closely serve the king. He claims that it will cause chaos in the country, and that the loyal officials are only trying to maintain the dignity of the court.
With Ho-geol standing at the back of the courtyard looking sheepish, Ha Sun asks if any of those objecting to him have ever given someone of low birth a chance in an important role. Minister Kim argues that this is the heavens’ intentions for a righteous government, but Ha Sun screams that that’s nonsense.
He declares that if the heavens disregard those of humble status, then he will fight the heavens’ wishes. He tries to approach Ho-geol, but the Sungkyunkwan students block him, and when he orders them to move, they say that he’ll have to walk on their backs if he wants to pass.
So Ha Sun does exactly that — he walks across the students’ backs all the way to Ho-geol, takes Ho-geol by the hand, and leads him into the palace. It’s a great statement, but it’s also kind of adorable how Ho-geol gazes at Ha Sun like an adoring girlfriend, hee.
Minister Lee is looking pretty smug as he confronts Minister Kim, marveling that he’s still scheming against the king after getting kicked out of the court. He says that he’s not sure how long he can stay quiet about Minister Kim’s actions, but Minister Kim fires back that he’s not the only one keeping silent.
He asks if the king knows about “that clown,” and Minister Lee asks in return where Court Lady Kim is these days. He mentions that when Court Lady Kim’s murder is revealed, Minister Kim will be charged with high treason since she was the king’s personal court lady.
Later, Ha Sun apologizes to Minister Lee for making a scene, but Minister Lee says that he did what a king would do — hold the hand of the people and make stands that they cannot. Ha Sun worries that the ministers will turn on him, but Minister Lee counters that the people will support him.
The notice is posted that anyone can take the state exam regardless of status, and Lord Gil’s people are excited when they see it. Two of them show up to take the test — Jong-rim, their leader, and Jae-gu — and Ho-geol bursts into loud tears of happiness when they both pass the test.
Minister Lee also sees that his friends passed, and he remembers promising Yi Heon as he died that this was the only way to create the powerful nation that he dreamed of. He appoints them as interns and presents them to Ha Sun, who tells them to do their best to prove wrong the ministers who were against this.
HA, Moo-young has to tell Ho-geol not to drool, he’s watching with such pride. Ho-geol whispers that he’s jealous that Moo-young gets to spend so much time with such a great man as the king.
So-woon takes Ae-young’s advice and writes Ha Sun a love letter, then goes to the library to deliver it to him personally. She notices that he seems worried and asks him to tell her what’s wrong so she can help. Ha Sun hesitates, and he looks about to speak, but Eunuch Jo interrupts to say it’s time for court.
Everyone celebrates Jong-rim and Jae-gu’s promotions at the gibang. Woon-shim gives the monk some food to take to Gap-soo and Dal-lae, and as he heads to the temple, Minister Kim’s man surreptitiously follows him. He reports to Minister Kim that he knows where the clown’s sister is hiding and asks if he should bring her here, but Minister Kim says he’ll go see for himself.
He arrives at the temple that night and orders his men to search the premises. He approaches one door himself and slowly opens it… but ohthankgoodness, Gap-soo and Dal-lae are safe at Ho-geol’s house. The temple is a trap set for Minister Kim by Minister Lee. Ho-geol is scared though, and begs Moo-young to stay, but Moo-young gives him a “don’t be a wuss” glare and leaves anyway.
Minister Kim is annoyed when all he finds is Minister Lee praying at the temple. He asks Minister Kim where Dal-lae is, and Minister Lee plays innocent, pretending to be confused as to why Minister Kim is searching for the king’s lookalike. He chuckles that Minister Kim must be planning a conspiracy like it’s the funniest thing ever.
He denies that he’s also here looking for the clown, and laughs even harder when Minister Kim doesn’t believe him. He tells Minister Kim that he’s suspicious of him plotting against the king just because he himself is, and he tells Minister Kim to stop before he tells the king what he’s doing.
Minister Kim spots the unmarked ancestral tablet that Minister Lee was lighting candles for, but Minister Lee says that it’s only for a friend “who came and went like the cloud and wind.” Minister Kim accepts that answer (for now) and leaves.
Since she was unable to give Ha Sun her love letter in person, So-woon returns to the library to hide it inside one of his books. While she’s there, she sees the book where he hid something that he was writing when she came to the library earlier, so she takes a look.
It’s the book that Yi Heon transcribed, and So-woon finds the pages that Ha Sun stuffed inside. She pauses, surprised by the drastic difference in handwriting and the obvious fact that Ha Sun was practicing his Chinese hanja. Other clues begin to click into place, like the fact that he abruptly stopped liking ginger, and the night he nearly attacked her, snarling that he had never given her happiness or joy.
So-woon remembers the posters accusing the king of being a lookalike impostor, and his sudden change in personality makes sense. She marches straight to Ha Sun’s chambers, still holding the papers she found and looking furious.
Meanwhile, Ha Sun goes to the library, where he finds So-woon’s love letter tucked into his book. In the letter, she confesses that she never wanted to be queen, and that she’s never liked the palace. But then, she says, he changed one day, and made her smile and dream. She ends by saying that she wants to live life by his side and have his baby, and be happy together for a long time.
Ha Sun thinks about how So-woon promised to help him with whatever is bothering him, and he jumps up to go look for her in her quarters. Ae-young tells him that the queen is looking for him, too, and he finds her in his own chambers.
When he gets there, she’s uncharacteristically stone-faced, even when he says he read her letter. He says that he also has a confession to make, but she stops him to ask if he remembers the day they first met. Ha Sun has to admit that he doesn’t, but So-woon says she can understand since she forgets things, too.
She asks him another question: “What is my name?” Ha Sun just stares at her, unable to answer. So-woon’s eyes fill with tears and she stumbles backwards, dropping the paper she’s been holding. Ha Sun sees that it’s his practice writing, and he understands that she knows.
He looks back up at the queen, and she asks him, “Who are you?”
Oof, such bad timing! I think that So-woon would probably have been understanding of Ha Sun (once she got over the shock) if he’d just told her the truth before she found out on her own, and had a chance to tell her everything. Yes, she’s very pious and it might have taken some time, but she would have forgiven him and kept loving him. But he waited just a bit too long, and she found out in a horrible way. Now Ha Sun is going to have to convince her that he never intended to lie to her, it’s just that he got in over his head. Hopefully, So-woon will listen and be understanding.
I do love Ha Sun and So-woon’s romance, as I’ve said before, but I’m also very glad that Minister Lee reminded Ha Sun that he’s not here to play kissyface with the queen — he came to the palace with loftier goals, and he needs to focus on them (especially since a man was literally murdered to make it happen). He’s got a country to run, while also trying to create positive social reform and keep from being outed as a simple lowborn clown. But to be blunt, he’s also going to have to at least convince So-woon to go along with his ruse, because if he’s going to be the king for real, he’s going to have to produce a legitimate heir at some point, and he’s going to need her cooperation to do that.
I like how this whole issue of letting the lower class take the state exam and aspire to succeed according to the abilities regardless of their birth status has hit Ha Sun right where it counts. As a clown, he’s living proof that someone smart and talented can do the job of someone highborn (and even do it better), and that birth does not indicate intelligence or ability. He’s a bit of a showboat when it comes to making his points to the court, but luckily Yi Heon had a reputation for overreacting, so I think that Ha Sun’s tendency to be a bit dramatic when he’s emotional works in his favor when it comes to keeping the court ministers fooled about his identity.
Unfortunately, Minister Kim is honing in on the truth, though he’s still vague on the details of how the clown is impersonating the king. I think he actually shot himself in the foot by killing the informant from the gibang, because that guy seemed pretty good at ferreting out secret information and probably would have kept spying for him for a while longer. Minister Kim is also showing his hand by telling Minister Lee that he’s onto them, which makes no sense to me — why would you tell your enemy that you’re planning a major coup, and give them the chance to protect themselves? And why kill Court Lady Kim, the one person most suspected of being your ally, and most likely to be noticed missing? My only guess is that Minister Kim is more upset by having been stripped of his position than he’s letting on, and he’s making mistakes me might not otherwise make. Which will work in Minister Lee and Ha Sun’s favor, but not until Minister Kim has caused all kinds of problems for them, first.
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