The Crowned Clown: Episode 11
Hang onto your hats, guys, because if you thought things were bad before, they’re about to get a whole lot worse. Our clown is suffering from a broken heart just when he needs to be most on his political game, and while his loyal-for-now adviser is supporting him, there’s only so much he can do without a fully functioning monarch.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
After finding Ha Sun’s practice writing, So-woon starts to suspect something and confronts him. But when he doesn’t even know her name, she backs away from him in shock and asks, “Who are you?”
Ha Sun can’t answer and So-woon stumbles forward, but when he tries to catch her she flings away his hands, snapping at him for daring to touch her. Ha Sun is suddenly meek and insecure as, without another word, So-woon walks away from him.
She stops outside his door to sag against the wall, and when Eunuch Jo sees her, he guesses what happened. He asks Ha Sun if she knows, and Ha Sun’s tear-filled eyes are his answer. He says despairingly, “I’ve never seen that look before. I only wanted to make her smile, but I ended up hurting her. I shouldn’t have gotten close to her. I shouldn’t have dared to love her!”
He sobs to Eunuch Jo that the way So-woon looked at him breaks his heart, but that it must be nothing compared to what she’s going through. Looking like he might cry, too, Eunuch Jo says that Ha Sun shouldn’t bear this alone, and he offers to summon Minister Lee. After he leaves, Ha Sun collapses to the floor, crying his heart out.
So-woon makes it back to her chambers and dismisses Ae-young, but as soon as she’s alone, she bursts into tears.
Eunuch Jo tells Minister Lee what’s happened, and Minister Lee goes to humbly confess to So-woon the truth about Ha Sun and how he came to be in the palace. She asks about Yi Heon, and Minister Lee says that she knows he was mentally and physically weak, and that he became dependent on drugs. He says they tried to help Yi Heon recover outside the palace, but he was too far gone.
So-woon asks if Yi Heon returned to the palace once, and Minister Lee confirms it, though he claims that Yi Heon died after collapsing in her chambers. He offers to get rid of Ha Sun if she wishes, but he warns that the palace will become a bloodbath when people learn of the king’s death.
While he’s talking, So-woon moves from shock, through horror, and into fury. She warns Minister Lee not to try to influence her with threats, but he says he’s begging her to think carefully before making a decision, and not to just focus on his sin.
When Minister Lee returns to Ha Sun, he tells him that the queen is deciding what to do after hearing his confession. Ha Sun wants to see her, but Minister Lee says that her decision is his burden to bear, telling Ha Sun to focus on keeping the throne.
Ae-young approaches So-woon, who stands in the cold without feeling the chill. So-woon says that she wants to stay a while longer in the hope that the wind freezes her heart. Meanwhile Ha Sun is told that the Ming envoys have arrived in the country with a message from the Emperor, but he doesn’t even hear them.
The ministers argue about feasts and tribute gifts, but all Ha Sun hears is So-woon’s voice, and all he sees is her smile the night it snowed. He starts to cry again, and he completely breaks down into huge, wracking sobs in front of the entire court.
Later he walks right past Moo-young without seeing him, so Moo-young asks Minister Lee what happened. Minister Lee tells him about the queen’s discovery, then confirms that Ha Sun’s sister is safe.
Dal-lae and Gap-soo are still at Ho-geol’s home, and Dal-lae’s eyes go huge at the lavish welcome feast that Ho-geol serves. He tells them that he learned to cook by watching his mother, and though Dal-lae seems nervous to try it, she’s amazed when the food turns out to be excellent.
Gap-soo asks Ho-geol if he and Moo-young both work for the government, wondering if Ha Sun sent them, but Ho-geol insists that he’s never met Ha Sun. Mention of her brother makes Dal-lae wilt sadly, but Ho-geol tells them that if Minister Lee wants them taken care of, then Ha Sun must be well, too.
Minister Shin’s man is still looking for Gap-soo and Dal-lae, but nobody has seen them. Minister Shin concludes that Minister Lee has hidden the clown, and tells his lackey to keep an eye on the people closest to Minister Lee.
The queen dowager views Ha Sun’s breakdown during court an opportunity, and she tells Prince Jin-pyung to have their people make an issue of it. He can’t tell her why Ha Sun cried, but he promises to find out.
In the morning, Ae-young rushes to Ha Sun, shoving aside Moo-young’s sword to drop to her knees at Ha Sun’s feet and gasp that the queen is planning to leave the palace. He runs to So-woon’s chambers and begs her not to leave, but she turns to him with cold eyes and asks if it was he who spared her father’s life, and who saved her from being bitten by the hunting dog and got bitten himself.
She can see from his expression that it was Ha Sun both times, and she instinctively knows that he was with her in the marketplace, too. Ha Sun pleads, “Just kill me. I’ve committed a mortal sin.” But So-woon snaps that she couldn’t help her husband when he was in pain, or be beside him when he died, so her sins are equally severe.
Shocked, Ha Sun asks if it’s true that Yi Heon is dead, and something in So-woon’s eyes softens as she realizes that he truly didn’t know. She tells him to forget it and dismisses him, saying that she’s leaving the palace because she’s not worthy to stay. She says with finality, “I hope to never see your face again. You will no longer look for me, either.”
On his way out, Ha Sun sends Moo-young to tell Minister Lee that he must stop So-woon from leaving the palace. Minister Lee manages to intercept So-woon, and she says that he told her to make a decision, so this is what she decided. Minister Lee reminds her that if she does this, she’ll no longer be queen and her life will be at risk. But she says that if she stays, she can’t predict how she’ll act.
She starts to continue on her way, but he calls softly, “So-woon-ah,” and stops her in her tracks. He says that her father opposed the idea when he suggested she be made queen, because she’s too proper to manage palace drama. But, he continues, that’s why he knew it had to be her, because she’d be able to stand her ground as queen. He asks her one last time to please stay, but without a word, So-woon keeps walking.
Ha Sun waits anxiously in his chambers for news of So-woon, but when Eunuch Jo brings a message, it’s that the queen dowager urgently needs to see him. She yells at Ha Sun for allowing the queen to leave the palace, and even though Ha Sun says that he allowed her to go, the queen dowager demands that she be punished according to court custom.
The punishment is harsh — she’d be deposed, then ordered to drink poison. The queen dowager barks that a lady should die if she even dares to go for a walk without her husband, but Ha Sun sets his jaw and refuses. He says that before anything else, the queen is his person, and he will manage his people as he sees fit.
He exits the queen dowager’s quarters and finds Minister Lee waiting for him with an official order to depose So-woon. Minister Lee is regretful but resigned as he tells Ha Sun that deposing the queen now is the only way to save her life before the court officials demand that she be made to drink poison as well.
Throwing the scroll at Minister Lee’s feet, Ha Sun bellows that he won’t do this, but instead he’ll bring So-woon back to the palace himself. Minister Lee reminds Ha Sun that he told him becoming king means letting go of everything, even his heart, but Ha Sun asks why Minister Lee didn’t just take the throne himself.
Minister Lee says coldly, “King is not a position you can obtain because you want it. You must not desire it nor wish it for yourself. Do you really not know why I made you king?” Ha Sun says that Minister Lee wanted a puppet, which is why he hid Yi Heon’s death, but Minister Lee grabs him and tells him that he made Ha Sun king because he thought he’d stay strong and create a nation whose people live in harmony.
He asks Ha Sun if he was wrong, but Ha Sun just says that the queen must be part of that nation. He promises Minister Lee that he’ll being So-woon back, begging him to let him go. Minister Lee says that the Ming envoy will arrive in four days, so he can only hide Ha Sun’s absence until then.
Ha Sun guesses that So-woon will have gone to her father, and he and Moo-young leave immediately. Minister Lee decides to tell the court officials that the king has become violent again, telling Eunuch Jo to keep everyone our of the king’s chambers.
Later, concubine Hwa-dang tries to visit the king. But as she’s arriving, she hears a loud crash and Eunuch Jo’s scared voice pleading with the king. Hwa-dang remembers that Yi Heon assaulted her the last time she was alone with him, and she flees in terror.
HAHA, poor Eunuch Jo looks exhausted, yelling and crashing things around the room. Minister Lee calmly tells him that he can rest, but it’s all his fault if people find out that Ha Sun is gone. Minister Lee gets some work done while Eunuch Jo puts on a show, and he grows worried when he reads a report that Jurchen soldiers are attacking the border.
When Minister Lee arrives at the gibang that evening, he notices a servant that seems to be watching him. Woon-shim says that one of their “friends” is in town, but Minister Lee tells her not to have secret meetings here anymore, since Minister Shin may be spying.
He arranges to meet at an alternate location, and when the “friend” arrives, Minister Lee asks why his people broke their promise to stop attacking the border. The spy says that a General Nurhachi thinks that Joseon broke the promise first. Minister Lee tells him to take a message back to the general: Even if he goes to war against Ming, Joseon will remain neutral, so the Jurchens should stop attacking Joseon.
The spy worries that Joseon might change their minds and ally with Ming against the Jurchens, since they’ve already made an alliance with Ming. Minister Lee argues that the Ming alliance is just diplomacy, and that forcing them into an alliance with Jurchen through violence will make it difficult to make peace with them. The spy says that he’s Joseon by birth, so he doesn’t want his homeland turned into a bloodbath, and he wants the king’s word on that.
Minister Shin is gleeful about the king’s supposed regression, which he believes will be helpful to Prince Jin-pyung. He decides to have the king make a mistake in front of the Ming envoys, but first they need to confirm that he’s in his chambers and unstable.
Eunuch Jo is still crashing around when the queen dowager unexpectedly bursts into Ha Sun’s room and demands to see him. She screams at Eunuch Jo to tell her where the king is, scaring him half to death, and all he can do is call for Minister Lee. The queen dowager demands Minister Lee bring the king’s royal seal and identification plaque, since apparently both the king and the queen have left the palace, so she’ll have to run the country.
Minister Lee politely declines, saying that just the thought of what the king would do if he returned and found them missing makes him feel like wetting himself, ha. The queen dowager obliquely accuses Minister Lee of manipulating the king, calling on her “motherly feelings” as the reason she’s so worried she can’t sleep at night. Minister Lee fires back sarcastically that he had no idea she cared about the king so much.
She claims that it’s an untrue rumor that she resents the king over little Prince Yul’s death, and Minister Lee says with barely concealed amusement that she’s the most loyal subject in all the land. He suddenly goes very cold and tells her that just because the king is not present, demanding his seal and plaque is rude and inappropriate regardless of her reasons.
The queen dowager screams at him for daring to threaten her, but Minister Lee assures her that it’s no threat, only heartfelt advice. Before she goes, the queen dowager says that she’ll never forget this conversation, and Minister Lee says it’s his honor.
After speaking to the queen dowager, Prince Jin-pyung sends Minister Shin a message: “Not there.” Minister Shin understands, and prepares to leave the city to meet with the Ming envoys before the arrive.
As Ha Sun predicted, So-woon goes to see her exiled father, and Moo-young shows up and uses his influence to make them leave for a full day. So-woon lets her father believe that she’s here with the king’s blessing, and Moo-young returns to Ha Sun, who’s waiting nearby, to tell him that the queen is safe.
After dark, Minister Yoo finds So-woon sitting outside crying. He thinks she’s lonely without him in the palace, but she says that seeing him just made her cry. She offers to stay here and take care of him, but he says he’s just grateful the king allowed to her visit and that she should return home in the morning.
So-woon sits up late that night, thinking of how Ha Sun said at the street festival that if he can’t be blamed for what he does, then he may as well do what he wants, and later when he confessed his love for her. Ha Sun is also still awake, determined to watch over the cottage until morning.
At dawn, Ha Sun leaves Moo-young and his guards behind to go talk to So-woon alone. But when he arrives at the cottage, Moo-young and Ae-young are looking frantically for So-woon, who’s walked into the woods alone.
Eunuch Jo and Minister Lee are both anxious that Ha Sun hasn’t returned to the palace yet, but Minister Lee says that he trusts Ha Sun to keep his promise. Unfortunately, he’s informed that the Ming envoy have arrived a day early and are requesting to see the king right away. A message from the Ming emperor is the same as the emperor himself, so Minister Lee decides to see the envoy himself.
The Ming envoy isn’t pleased to be approached by a “mere secretary,” but Minister Lee says that since the envoy is early, the king will arrive to receive the emperor’s message the following day as scheduled. Furious at this perceived insult, the Ming envoy pulls a sword and threatens to kill Minister Lee to show the king how much of a sin he’s committed.
Minister Lee is forced to his knees, but he only glares up at the envoy defiantly as he raises his sword, then brings it down…
Ha Sun eventually finds So-woon standing at the edge of a cliff, and he grabs her just as she’s about to jump. Instead of thanking him, she says that she never wanted to see him again, and that it’s none of his business if she kills herself.
Ha Sun begs her to punish him instead, but she tells him to stop talking, because the more he speaks the worse she’s sinning. Ha Sun says that he’s to blame and he’ll pay the price, but So-woon says desperately, “It is my sin. I’m to blame. I asked myself thousands of times who I have in my heart, whether it’s you or him. I wanted to deny and ignore, but it was my heart’s doing.”
She says that she can fool the world but not herself, so this is her only option. She starts to walk towards the cliff again, but Ha Sun grabs her hand and asks, “Can’t you live for me? Since I entered the palace, I went through many crises. Every fatal moment, I desperately wanted to live. I was fine even if I was to be the worst criminal. Even if it was just for one day, I wanted to be with you.”
He says he just wanted to see her smile and live with her for a long time. His words remind So-woon of her love letter to him, in which she said the same thing. She looks as though she may be about to relent, but suddenly an arrow flies past their heads.
Ha Sun throws himself at So-woon, wrapping her in his arms protectively as another arrow slams into his back. He slowly sinks to his knees, taking So-woon with him, and falls unconscious with his head on her shoulder as she screams.
Well, this is pretty much bad from every angle, and I have no idea what will happen next. Minister Lee might be dead, Ha Sun may be dying, So-woon thinks she deserves to die, and in the meantime the country is about to go down in flames. What we need right now is a miracle.
I still think that Minister Lee is much too dangerous to be fully trusted but I do love the relationship that’s forming between him and Ha Sun. There is some trust there, on both sides — Minister Lee trusts Ha Sun to keep his promises and behave honorably, and Ha Sun trusts Minister Lee to have his back when he needs to take care of something personal. You can see that Minister Lee isn’t just worried about the risk of the Ming envy finding out that Ha Sun hasn’t returned… he’s genuinely concerned for Ha Sun on a personal level. I don’t think that means Minister Lee is a safe ally, because he obviously loved Yi Heon and he still chose his country first, but I do enjoy seeing his relationship with Ha Sun become something deeper than just a political artist and his tool.
At first I was surprised that Ha Sun didn’t know that Yi Heon is dead, since he’s the one who asked to be made king for good. But then I realized that it’s actually very plausible that he didn’t know, because he’s still very naïve in a lot of ways, and Minister Lee never actually told him that he poisoned the king. Ha Sun probably thought that Minister Lee just sent Yi Heon somewhere that he couldn’t return from. He witnessed Yi Heon’s rage and violent tendencies, but Ha Sun never really saw how deeply sick Yi Heon was, and what his addiction was doing to him. I still believe that part of the reason Minister Lee killed Yi Heon instead of banishing him far away was because he knew Yi Heon was too far gone in his addiction and too mentally damaged to ever be healthy enough to even live a normal life, and would probably be dead soon one way or another. But Ha Sun didn’t know of Yi Heon’s addiction (if So-woon didn’t even know, then it was a very well-guarded secret), so it wouldn’t have occurred to him that Yi Heon might not still be alive.
It’s so typical of Ha Sun that even as he was in agony after So-woon found out he’s not the real king, his true heartbreak was that So-woon must have been in even more pain. That’s proof to me that he truly loves her, because her pain hurts him more than his own. But the truth is that he lied to her and let her fall in love with a man who didn’t exist, neither Yi Heon nor himself, but a good version of Yi Heon that he was pretending to be. Ha Sun was one hundred percent in the wrong for playing into So-woon’s fantasy of her husband changing and loving her, and as hard as it is to watch him in so much pain, I can’t say that he didn’t deserve her anger and rejection.
As for So-woon, I expected her to feel betrayed by Ha Sun, both for lying to her about his identity and because she assumed he had something to do with Yi Heon’s death. But it seems clear to me that it made a difference to her when she realized that Ha Sun didn’t know Yi Heon was dead. She couldn’t have forgiven him for plotting her husband’s demise, but she could see in that moment that he may have committed a lot of sins, but he didn’t commit the one, unforgivable one. And I loved seeing So-woon come into her own strength in this episode — she’s shown hints of it, but she mostly plays her role of the meek and obedient queen. I was happy to see her put the clues together on her own, confront the source of the lies, then put Minister Lee right into his place when he tried to manipulate her. Even her decision to kill herself showed more strength than she has in the past. There’s a fire in So-woon’s eyes that wasn’t there before, and I can’t wait to see the fierce, strong woman who emerges from the aftermath of this betrayal.
- Premiere Watch: Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho 2, The Crowned Clown, What’s Wrong Mr. Poong-sang
- The clown gets a lesson on how to be a king
- Three teasers for The Man Who Became King
- Lee Kyu-han joins The Man Who Became King
- Yeo Jin-gu, Lee Se-young become the king and queen of Joseon
- First script read for The Man Who Became King
- The Man Who Became King confirms main pairing Yeo Jin-gu, Lee Se-young
- Lee Se-young courted to be Yeo Jin-gu’s queen in Gwanghae remake