The Crowned Clown: Episode 13
The best part about having a clown on the throne is that he’s trained to think fast and stay (figuratively) light on his feet, giving him the edge over those who only know one way of operating. Our royal clown is clever enough to outsmart his enemies when he can keep calm, but that may not be the case if his emotions get involved. If he doesn’t learn to control his temper, he risks falling into the same trap, and the same fate, that proved to be the true king’s downfall.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Minister Shin tricks Ha Sun by giving him Yi Heon’s dragon knife, which was given to him by his father, and getting Ha Sun to agree that it was a gift from the Ming emperor. Knowing that he’s caught, Ha Sun flings the two yang that Minister Shin paid him for Dal-lae’s innocence, and Minister Shin bursts into maniacal laughter.
He chuckles that he’s been looking for Ha Sun everywhere, and he was in the palace the whole time. Ha Sun warns that if Minister Shin touches Dal-lae, who he’s kidnapped, he won’t live to see another day.
Minister Shin asks Ha Sun who else knows his true identity besides Minister Lee, and where the real king is. Ha Sun repeats Minister Lee’s words, “He might come back suddenly like thunder, or slowly in time like sunrise.” Minister Shin just says that Minister Lee has been using a fake to fool the court, which means that Yi Heon will have to step down for giving him permission.
He tells Ha Sun that to save his sister, he must issue a royal command that he’ll interrogate Gap-soo himself (for attacking Yi-geom), and that he’ll punish Minister Lee then dethrone the king. Ha Sun says that he wants to verify that Dal-lae is okay first, and Minister Shin agrees — if he gets on his knees.
Ha Sun reluctantly kneels at Minister Shin’s feet, and the two yang on the floor seem to taunt him. Minister Shin tells him to summon Minister Lee as a criminal during the interrogation, and he’ll bring Dal-lae in as a witness, and Ha Sun agrees to do as he says.
Moo-young informs Minister Lee that Ha Sun met with Minister Shin, then ordered a royal interrogation. Minister Lee hurries to the courtyard and Minister Shin arrives a minute later. Ha Sun looks miserable as he makes his way to the dais, and when he’s asked to name the criminal, he names Minister Lee. Minister Shin has Dal-lae brought in, her hands tied, and once he sees her, Ha Sun orders the criminal arrested… Shin Chi-soo. I knew he had a plan!
Minister Shin yells that the criminals are Minister Lee and Ha Sun, but Ha Sun steps off the dais to stand inches from Minister Shin’s face and whisper, “I told you I wouldn’t let you get away with it if you laid a finger on my sister. I’m going to make a fool out of you.”
Ha Sun grabs a guard’s sword and holds it to Minister Shin’s neck. Dal-lae recognizes the lines he quotes from one of their troupe’s performances: “Even a ghost would spit in your face and avoid you, a classless buffoon who doesn’t know his roots. How dare you humiliate me, the king of this nation? Do you really wish to die?”
Minister Shin laughs and tells those present not to let the clown fool them. He rants that Ha Sun only looks like the king, and that Minister Lee has the real king hidden away somewhere. Ha Sun does his best Yi Heon impression and asks who would believe this, so Minister Shin points to Dal-lae as the clown’s sister.
He orders Dal-lae to tell the truth that Ha Sun is her brother. Dal-lae looks Ha Sun in the eye, then says that her brother died a long time ago. Minister Shin screams that she’s lying, but she says she wouldn’t dare lie to the king. Ha Sun tells Eunuch Jo to take Dal-lae away.
Minister Shin yells that when the true king returns they’ll all be punished. Ha Sun levels his sword at Minister Shin’s throat again, then orders him bound and gagged to stop his lies. He orders the interrogation, and Minister Lee says there’s a witness who can shed light on Minister Shin’s crimes.
He brings in Court Lady Kim — OMG she’s not dead! — and explains that after she tried to drug the king and check him for a scar, he sent her to Minister Shin’s house to find out who was controlling her. She then disappeared, but fortunately, Moo-young followed Minister Shin’s right-hand man and found Court Lady Kim alive.
She testifies that Minister Shin ordered her to check the king for a scar to see if he was an impostor. She also says that he commissioned the posters accusing the king of being a clown then killed the court painter, had her drug the king, and cursed the concubine Hwa-dang, though she says that Hwa-dang knew nothing and was actually poisoned.
Horrified, Ha Sun calls Court Lady Kim evil and cruel, and says he’ll discuss her punishment with the officers. He orders Minister Shin tortured until he confesses, and Minister Shin continues to call him a fool and a clown as he’s tortured. He still hasn’t confessed by morning, despite being broken and bloody, but Ha Sun is unmoved.
Minister Lee has Minister Shin’s gag removed and asks if he’s ready to confess. Minister Shin glares at him defiantly and gasps that he’s committed no crimes. Ha Sun asks the Minister of Punishment’s opinion, and he says that since Minister Shin’s crimes are supported by evidence and witnesses, he should be beheaded.
Ha Sun agrees with the beheading, and Minister Shin gives him one last, bloody sneer. Minister Lee looks up at Ha Sun, seeming worried about him.
While Minister Shin is being untied, Hwa-dang, his niece, asks permission to see him. She begs him to say he didn’t really have her poisoned, but he whispers to her to find a plant in his home, get what’s inside, and keep it safe if she wants to live.
Minister Lee brings Woon-shim to Dal-lae, promising to explain later. Woon-shim asks Dal-lae what’s going on, but Dal-lae sobs not to ask her anything or it will put her brother in danger. Woon-shim gives her the bag of hazelnuts, telling her they’re from Ha Sun, and Dal-lae knows exactly what they mean.
Minister Lee tells Ha Sun that Dal-lae is safe with Woon-shim, then he chastises Ha Sun for revealing his identity to Minister Shin and almost ruining everything. Ha Sun argues that Dal-lae’s life was at stake, and that it’s better to act fast with people like Minister Shin.
Next, Ha Sun questions Gap-soo and Yi-geom. Gap-soo says he had good reason for attacking Yi-geom, and that he promised himself to kill Yi-geom even if it meant his own death, because of what Yi-geom did to a girl he loves like a daughter. He says he’ll accept whatever punishment the king chooses, and Minister Lee tells Ha Sun that a peasant who attacks a noble should receive eighty lashes.
Instead, Ha Sun orders Gap-soo to serve in the navy, and at the sound of his voice, Gap-soo finally looks at his face. He’s stunned to see Ha Sun, but he wisely says nothing.
Ha Sun asks Minister Lee the appropriate punishment for someone who violates a young girl, and Minister Lee says it’s a crime worthy of death — but only if the victim is higher than a commoner. Yi-geom yelps that he didn’t commit a crime, then, but Ha Sun announces that when the people were wronged, the previous king would establish a new law.
He says he’ll do the same, and Yi-geom accuses him of trying to punish him for his father’s offenses. Leaping to his feet, Ha Sun roars that Yi-geom’s crime is worthy of its own punishment. He states that his job is to protect the people who can’t protect themselves, and he orders Yi-geom to be branded with his crime… on his face. Minister Lee stares at Ha Sun, looking very concerned.
As Yi-geom screams for mercy in abject terror, Ha Sun thinks about how he felt when he learned of Dal-lae’s assault. He doesn’t look away as Yi-geom’s face is branded, and Minister Lee can see the sick satisfaction in Ha Sun’s expression as he watches his revenge play out.
Later, Ha Sun visits Gap-soo in private and says it’s really him, and Gap-soo bursts into relieved, happy tears. He asks if the king knows he’s impersonating him, and Ha Sun just says that of course he has permission. He tells Gap-soo that he’ll be sent to serve in the navy in Muanhyun, where he and Dal-lae lived as children, and that Dal-lae will join him soon.
Minister Lee is waiting for Ha Sun and asks how he’s feeling, and Ha Sun says that he feels like a year has passed since yesterday. He says he feels like a heavy burden has been lifted, but he also feels weighed down at the same time. Minister Lee says with genuine relief that he’s glad to hear it, but when Ha Sun asks why, Minister Lee doesn’t answer.
That evening at the gibang, Minister Lee stops Woon-shim from serving him, saying that tonight he’s not a guest. Woon-shim notes his mood and asks if Ha Sun isn’t doing a good job as king, having guessed about the switch from Dal-lae’s comment about her brother.
Minister Lee apologizes for keeping the secret from her, but she says she doesn’t expect him to tell her everything, since he’s someone she can’t even dream of (being with). She only asks him not to push her away, so that she can be with him whether he’s happy or sad,so he lets her pour his drink.
Minister Shin and Yi-geom sit in prison, Yi-geom still shaking from pain and shock. The guards come for Yi-geom, and they tell Minister Shin that Yi-geom is being exiled to the north. Yi-geom shakes the guards off to perform one last deep bow to his father, and after Yi-geom is gone, Minister Shin tears the jade ornament from his head and offers it to a guard in return for a favor.
Prince Jin-pyung almost refuses when he’s told that Minister Shin wishes to see him, but considering all the dirt Minister Shin has on him, he decides to see what Minister Shin wants. He reminds Minister Shin that the entire country knows they hate each other and won’t believe him, but Minister Shin says that he has information that can dethrone the king.
Ha Sun brings Dal-lae to his rooms, but she’s too scared and worried about Gap-soo to eat. She says she just wants to leave, assuming that Ha Sun is coming with her. But Ha Sun says sadly that he still has things to do here, and Dal-lae asks if those things are more important than her.
He says nothing is more important than her, but that he needs to finish the what he started. Dal-lae starts to cry, scared to leave him in case he gets killed. He tells her to go with Gap-soo and he’ll follow them soon, but Dal-lae sobs that he said that before and he never came.
Ha Sun hugs her and apologizes, and asks her to trust him. He watches as Gap-soo and Dal-lae are led away, trying hard to hide his tears, and the last thing he sees is Dal-lae waving at him with a big smile.
He finds So-woon waiting in his chambers, and he admits that he doesn’t know if he did the right thing. He says that seeing Dal-lae off makes him feel more scared, and So-woon says that’s not a sign of weakness, but of being human. At his renewed tears, she hugs him and says she knows how hard it is to part with family. She tells Ha Sun that one day he can visit Gap-soo and Dal-lae, and that she’d like to meet them, too.
A court lady takes Court Lady Kim food sent from the queen dowager, but Court Lady Kim wisely stomps it into the dirt, offended that the queen dowager thinks she’s that stupid. She tells the court lady that she wishes to send the queen dowager a gift, and the Court lady relays her message, along with instructions to call on her again if the queen dowager likes the “gift.” Whatever she said, the queen dowager laughs that Court Lady Kim gave her a huge gift before her death.
Ae-young tells the queen that with all the recent trouble, now would be the perfect time to give the king an heir and strengthen his position. She suggests that So-woon get examined by a royal physician, and So-woon absently agrees. The physician tells her that her pulse is weak and she lacks energy, so she’ll prepare an herbal medicine.
She notices the flower tea on the table, and asks to see the leaves. Ae-young says the tea is safe since it was given to So-woon by the Royal Infirmary, but the physician insists.
Ha Sun is informed that Minister Shin will be beheaded at the end of the month, and that hanging is appropriate for Court Lady Kim since she tried to harm both him and the queen. But because she also testified against Minister Shin, the punishment should be flogging and exile as a slave. Ha Sun approves both punishments.
Minister Lee takes the opportunity to ask for approval to discuss overturning Lord Yoo’s sentence. Before Ha Sun gives it, Prince Jin-pyung says that Minister Lee is wrong, and Lord Yoo was already proven guilty. Ha Sun turns it over to the court to decide.
So-woon’s happiness is short-lived when the royal physician returns to tell her that the flower tea she’s been drinking causes infertility. So-woon asks why the Royal Infirmary would give her the tea, but the physician doesn’t know, only that So-woon was the only one of the king’s women given it.
The physician grows even more upset when she learns that So-woon has been drinking the tea for several months, as it’s known to cause sterility when taken for only a month. So-woon asks the physician not to let the king find out, as she doesn’t want to upset him when the court is finally stable.
Prince Jin-pyung has Minister Shin’s home searched, looking for a letter that the king sent to General Nurhachi, which Minister Shin intercepted from Minister Lee’s spy. Prince Jin-pyung thinks the king would never do that, but Minister Shin suggests that Minister Lee did it without his knowledge. He says that with this evidence, they can depose the king and Prince Jin-pyung can take his throne.
Prince Jin-pyung believes that Minister Shin is making it up, but then he rethinks that Minister Shin wouldn’t be so confident if it weren’t true. It’s true, but Hwa-dang has the letter, having taken it from her uncle’s house as he told her to do.
Ha Sun surprises So-woon in the library to tell her that her father will be reinstated. She offers tearful thanks, but she still looks sad, and Ha Sun asks why. So-woon changes the subject, but Ha Sun isn’t fooled. He says he forgot to tell Minister Lee something, but instead, he pulls Ae-young aside and asks her why So-woon is so pale.
He returns to the library a few minutes later, furious. He asks So-woon if she was ever going to tell him about the flower tea, then immediately feels bad when she starts sobbing as if her heart is breaking. He holds her and apologizes while she cries, and he swears to find out who did this and make them pay.
But So-woon says that’s why she didn’t tell him, and he realizes that she already knows exactly who did it. He gathers his guards and heads to the Royal Infirmary, bellowing for the royal physician. He orders the man to tell him who made him give the flower tea to the queen, and after a minute, the royal physician stammers that it was the queen dowager.
Ha Sun goes very still, then takes the box of flower tea from the physician and heads for the queen dowager’s quarters. Moo-young, recognizing a situation about to escalate, sends Eunuch Jo for Minister Lee.
Ha Sun finds the queen dowager in the courtyard and smashes the box of flower tea at her feet. She doesn’t react, but when he snarls that there are some things a human being doesn’t do, she snaps that if he were capable of thinking rationally, he wouldn’t forgive the queen for leaving the palace and coming back as she pleased.
Ha Sun asks why she hates So-woon so much, but the queen dowager says she doesn’t hate her, she hates her sin. Ha Sun tells her to at least pretend to be sorry, and the queen dowager asks if he can do the same. She asks if he can pretend to repent in front of her, her family, and his brother.
They find themselves at an impasse, so Ha Sun says he has no choice. He starts to say something, but Minister Lee runs over and asks him to calm down. Ha Sun asks why he’s stopping him if he knows what’s going on, and the queen dowager also wants to know what he was going to say.
Minister Lee begs him not to say it, and the queen dowager tells Ha Sun that since the queen can’t have children, he must depose her. Ha Sun yells that he’ll depose her first, and Minister Lee looks desperate, unsure how to regain control of the situation. The queen dowager invites Ha Sun to go ahead and try, and walks away with a triumphant grin all over her face.
In Ha Sun’s chambers, Minister Lee asks why he couldn’t control himself, as it was obvious the queen dowager was waiting for him to mention deposing her. He tells Ha Sun that he wanted to depose the queen dowager for Yi Heon’s sake, but her people would have rebelled and Yi Heon would have been the one harmed.
He reminds Ha Sun that he’s the one who stopped him, but Ha Sun says he didn’t know as much about the court then as he does now. Minister Lee says he needs evidence and witnesses to depose the queen dowager, and the court has to discuss it. He promises Ha Sun that once Lord Yoo is reinstated, he’ll focus on deposing the queen dowager.
The next day, Minister Lee travels to Lord Yoo’s cottage to bring him back to the palace. But when he arrives, he finds Lord Yoo dead, stabbed in the heart.
As impressive as it was to watch Yeo Jin-goo play such extreme opposite characters as Yi Heon and Ha Sun, I’m most impressed by his acting ability when he’s Ha Sun pretending to be Yi Heon, and we got to see a lot of that in this episode. He’s just brilliant — he adopts the body language and vocal inflections of Yi Heon, but Ha Sun’s sanity remains in his eyes and you can see him thinking in there, where Yi Heon was just all reacting and fear and fury. I’m also impressed by how Ha Sun is changing from the meek and mild clown to a strong, almost frightening force in the palace. He’s no longer intimidated by the people in power, and he doesn’t hesitate to confront them. However, I’m concerned that his kingly “act” feels less like an act these days, and I just hope he knows where to stop, because he does have a temper like Yi Heon had and I’d hate to see him lose control.
It was satisfying to see Minister Shin getting what he deserved, but it was also difficult to watch Minister Shin be tricked and tortured. Yes, he’s committed horrible crimes, but he’s also not wrong about Ha Sun not being the true king. I feel similarly about Minister Lee but in the opposite direction — he’s a murderer, and even killed an innocent child, but he’s also a good man who truly loves his country. It begs the question of whether a crime is excusable when done for the right reason (interestingly, a conversation I recently had with friends, and we concluded that… it depends?). Even though he’s right about Ha Sun’s identity, Minister Shin’s attempt to reveal Ha Sun is made out of spite and revenge, and even after being condemned to death he’s still plotting a royal coup. And although Minister Lee has killed, he did it thinking that he was simply being loyal to his king, or doing the right thing for his country. Both are criminals, traitors and murderers, but it’s harder to condemn a man who has his heart in the right place.
I’ve been worried for a while that Ha Sun would let the power of being king corrupt him, and it feels like it’s finally happening. Yi-geom deserved to be punished for what he did to Dal-lae and who knows how many other young girls, but I would feel better about his sentence if Ha Sun hadn’t clearly enjoyed watching Yi-geom’s branding so much. And it also scares me that Minister Lee noticed Ha Sun relishing that moment — he poisoned Yi Heon when he got to the point that his power made him lose all perspective, so what will Minister Lee do if Ha Sun starts down that same path? For now Ha Sun admits that he wasn’t entirely comfortable after finally enacting his revenge, but he certainly has reason to go looking for more revenge, now that he knows the queen dowager deliberately ruined So-woon’s chances of ever having a baby. I’d like to think that Minister Lee would try to rehabilitate Ha Sun like he did with Yi Heon, but if he believes that Ha Sun is beyond help, will he kill him, too?
- 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