The Crowned Clown: Episode 9
In the aftermath of the irreversible decisions made by the clown and his adviser, there’s no time to relax, as their enemies start to realize that something isn’t quite right. Even the slightest mistake can get people killed. It’s all one huge game of chess, with each side trying to guess what the other side will do before they make a move.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
So-woon goes to the library, and when Ha Sun shows, he’s adorably happy to see that she got his hint. He tells her to give him the gift he knows she prepared, and he’s pleased with the brush pouch that she embroidered with a pair of cranes. But his face falls when she mentions that he’s a good writer, so she quickly says he can also use it to hold his compass.
Ha Sun turns it over and sees the words she embroidered on the back. He can’t read them, but So-woon says them out loud: “A thousand years apart will not change my love for you.” Awwww ~melt~. Moved, Ha Sun says that he needs to confess something, but thankfully he only repeats the words she said to him the night she thought he was asleep, the first time she kissed him.
He recites her words perfectly, ending with, “I am in love with you. My heart feels like it will explode, and I wouldn’t even mind. That’s how much I love you.” They both have tears in their eyes by the time he’s finished.
Later Ha Sun walks So-woon back to her quarters, and when their hands touch, they both grow shy. Ha Sun takes So-woon’s hand and warms it with his, but So-woon says she’s already warm. Ha Sun takes out his compass and says he thinks it’s broken, because whichever way it points, he always ends up at her chambers. Silly boy.
As she’s getting the queen ready for bed, Ae-young asks why she’s smiling, though she already knows the answer. She says that So-woon is always smiling, and according to Ha Sun’s court ladies, he’s like a different person lately.
Yi-geom whines to his father to get him out of his new appointment, but Minister Shin isn’t listening — he’s thinking about the village head who told him about the clown who looked exactly like the king. He tells Yi-geom that he can’t avoid his appointment, but not to get on the boat heading to his new island and to wait in the port town.
He visits Prince Jin-pyung while he’s practicing his archery (and no wonder he missed Ha Sun that time — he’s terrible). Minister Shin says that if he’s going to practice on windy days, he’d better have a big target. Prince Jin-pyung takes aim at Minister Shin and asks if he’s doing it right, and Minister Shin says he knows Prince Jin-pyung and the queen dowager hate him, but he’s a victim who was only following his master’s orders.
He says he wants to make Prince Jin-pyung king, because the prince despises the king as much as he does, and dedicating himself to Yi Heon didn’t work out for him. Prince Jin-pyung growls that Minister Shin killed his father and grandfather and asks why he should trust him, and Minister Shin has two words for him: high treason.
When nobody is around, Moo-young leaves a letter of resignation on Minister Lee’s desk, bows towards the king’s quarters, and quietly leaves the palace.
Minister Lee and JS hold a private service for Yi Heon, and JS asks if Minister Lee can really handle taking things this far. Minister Lee repeats Ha Sun’s words that to save someone, you must sacrifice others, and JS asks how he can help. Minister Lee says there’s no way to help him — he’ll take full responsibility for his sin.
Minister Shin goes into the records and finds a portrait of the king, and soon notices are posted all over the city accusing the king of being an impostor. One man, who was at Minister Shin’s home the night Ha Sun broke in to confront Yi-geom, seems to remember seeing the face from the poster under the clown mask.
Gap-soo and Dal-lae see the notice and recognize Ha Sun, and they realize that this must be where Ha Sun disappeared to. Dal-lae accidentally blurts out that her brother is pretending to be the king, but Gap-soo tells the nosy peasants that of course it’s not true.
Minister Lee takes a poster to the Department of Justice and orders them to take all of the posters down. He heads to the gibang and asks Woon-shim where Dal-lae is, but Woon-shim admits that they’ve lost track of her, and Minister Lee leaves at a run.
At court assembly, Ha Sun notices nervously that Minister Lee still hasn’t returned. One minister has brought a poster for Ha Sun to see, and Ha Sun struggles to suppress his terrified reaction. The ministers inform him that rumors are spreading, and another suggests that he arrest all clowns.
Ha Sun snaps that he shouldn’t have to do that to calm the people, but the minister says it’s to scare the people. Ha Sun says that the clowns have done nothing wrong, but the ministers argue that the clowns will make jokes out of this, so they’re not exactly innocent.
A voice rings out — Minister Lee is back! He explains that he’s been dealing with the poster issue, telling the court that just the fact that a poster has caused such conflict proves that the people don’t have faith in the royal court. He says that the court ministers should seek the forgiveness of the king and the people instead of blaming the people.
He personally apologizes to Ha Sun, and says that they need to be seeking out the traitors who distributed the poster. Ha Sun agrees and orders the ministers to discover who it was immediately.
In private, Ha Sun worries that someone figured out his secret, but Minister Lee says they would have done something more serious if they knew for sure. Ha Sun is scared that Dal-lae will see the poster and worry about him, and he begs Minister Lee to make sure Woon-shim takes good care of her.
Minister Lee asks Eunuch Jo to make sure Court Lady Kim doesn’t serve Ha Sun from now on, and he tells Ha Sun to avoid court assemblies for now. They’re startled by Minister Shin’s arrival, and Minister Lee goes to talk to him. Minister Shin claims to be worried and asks permission to speak to the king privately, but Minister Lee refuses, saying that these things are none of his business now.
Minister Shin says that he heard about Minister Lee’s performance at court, and wonders why he stopped the ministers from arresting the clowns. He tsks that the king lets Minister Lee do whatever he wants and wonders what Minister Lee is planning. Minister Lee retorts that that’s what Minister Shin does, not him.
Court Lady Kim talks to Minister Shin while he’s there, and she tells him about the scar in the king’s ear that disappeared overnight. Minister Shin tells her to check the scar on the king’s chest, but she says it’s a huge risk for her. Minister Shin argues that Court Lady Kim poisoned and cursed the king’s consort, and when she says she was following his orders, he replies that he has evidence and witnesses that she acted alone.
When he goes to his office to meet with a couple of ministers regarding some urgent issues, Minister Lee finds Moo-young’s resignation letter on his desk. A guard arrives with a message from the Department of Justice that the court painter was found dead last night, murdered by a sword through the heart and left by a roadside.
While Ho-geol is outlining his rice tax calculations to a very distracted Ha Sun, Eunuch Jo comes in to say that the queen dowager wants to have tea with him. Ha Sun asks why, but when Eunuch Jo adds, “…and the queen…” he runs out of the room so fast he’s just a blur, HAHA. So cute.
So-woon and Ha Sun sneak little peeks at each other while the queen dowager slowly and deliberately pours the tea. The queen dowager smiles smugly to herself when So-woon sips her tea with dried flowers in it, then she comments that the king is so handsome, it’s odd that there’s another face exactly like his.
She tries to get So-woon to agree with her anxiety about the posters, but So-woon just says serenely that people who live harsh lives are easily swayed by rumors. She states that instead of reacting, the royal house should set a good example, and she offers to come up with a solution. Ha Sun looks like he could burst with pride.
The queen dowager asks if So-woon shouldn’t make it a priority in times of crisis to provide the king an heir. She blames the current problems on So-woon’s failure to conceive, but Ha Sun says it’s not the queen’s fault, because a child is sent from the heavens. He asks sarcastically if he should adopt Prince Jin-pyung, and So-woon looks like she’s trying not to laugh as Ha Sun decides that Prince Jin-pyung would be no fun.
As they’re leaving, So-woon tells Ha Sun that she was worried when she heard about the argument in the court over the posters. She says that if she’d been there, she’d have held his hand and run out like he did for her in the marketplace.
Prince Jin-pyung sees them looking happy together, so he goes straight to the queen dowager. She’s thrilled with the mayhem caused by the posters, and Prince Jin-pyung lets her think he’s behind them. She gloats that the only way for the king to get people to forget the rumors is to produce an heir, which worries Prince Jin-pyung after seeing Ha Sun and So-woon, but the queen dowager says she’ll never let them be happy with a child after the king took hers from her.
In the library, So-woon tries to read with Ha Sun staring at her adoringly. He says he should be working, but he’s in the middle of something important — gaining energy from seeing her. So-woon says she’ll be by his side any time he needs strength.
That night, Minister Shin takes a chest full of silver to Prince Jin-pyung, telling him to use it to add mercenaries to his personal army. He says that he’ll round up the ministers, and when Prince Jin-pyung asks if they’ll listen to him after he was demoted.
Minister Shin brags that he’ll just get his position back. He says that the Vice Minister of War of Ming will be visiting soon, and that he’s the only one strong enough to stand up to him, so the king will be forced to bring him back to court.
Minister Lee tells Ha Sun about the painter being found murdered, most likely to keep him from saying who commissioned the posters. He says he has some suspects but no proof, so Eunuch Jo suggests that he have Moo-young investigate the royal family. Minister Lee has to tell them that Moo-young resigned.
The peasant who recognized Ha Sun from the poster tells Minister Shin that Ha Sun was the clown who burst into his home that night, demanding satisfaction for what Yi-geom did to his sister. He says that Ha Sun was at the gibang, so the gisaeng Woon-shim should know where he is now. He mentions that Woon-shim and Minister Lee are friends, and Minister Shin thanks him for the crucial information just before his man stabs the peasant to death.
Minister Shin summons Woon-shim, and she takes offense at the rude order and refuses, but when it looks like blood might be shed, Woon-shim agrees to go. Someone sends Minister Lee a note about what’s happening, but by the time he reads it, Woon-shim is already in front of Minister Shin being asked about a clown named Ha Sun.
She says that she knows him, but she doesn’t know where he is. Minister Shin orders Woon-shim tortured and gives permission to kill her if she doesn’t speak. His man backhands Woon-shim when she struggles, but thankfully, Minister Lee barges in before Minister Shin’s man can drag her away. He sends Woon-shim out and stays to confront Minister Shin.
Minister Shin laughs that he called Woon-shim here because he heard Minister Lee adores her. He tells Minister Lee not to act innocent and noble, and he says that he heard the clown who looks like the king performed at his favorite gibang. Minister Lee says that someone must have seen the poster and spread a rumor, and Minister Shin chuckles that Minister Lee being so annoyed must mean his posters were onto something.
Minister Lee warns him to be careful and stalks out. He finds Woon-shim waiting to make sure he’s okay, and she insists she’s fine, but he sees the blood on her mouth. Worried, she tells him that Minister Shin asked about Ha Sun, and Minister Lee says that Minister Shin used her as bait to catch him.
Spotting someone in the shadows, Minister Lee calls out that he wondered who sent him the note, and Moo-young steps into the light. Moo-young admits that he couldn’t leave after seeing the poster, though he wonders why. Minister Lee tells Moo-young that his instinct to watch Minister Shin was correct because he’s noticed something.
Eunuch Jo informs Court Lady Kim that the king no longer requires her personal services, and he threatens to have her dragged away when she wants to hear it from the king himself. He goes inside and Ha Sun apologizes for troubling him, and sends him to get some rest.
As soon as he’s gone, the eunuch on duty takes a tea tray from Court Lady Kim, which she’s dosed with white powder, in to Ha Sun. Ha Sun drinks the tea, and after he’s fallen into a drugged sleep, Court Lady Kim slips in through the secret passageway. She unties Ha Sun’s robes to check for a scar — and the moment she sees it, Ha Sun grabs her arm.
He leaps up snarling, frightening Court Lady Kim, who says she just came to take the tea pot away and heard him breathing erratically. Ha Sun smashes the bowl and asks if Court Lady Kim has a death wish.
A flashback shows that this was all planned between Ha Sun and Minister Lee, who decided to set a trap of their own to catch whoever put up those posters. Minister Lee had guessed that they would try to verify Ha Sun’s identity, and Ha Sun had said that as a clown, he can play any part.
His impression of Yi Heon is dead-on as he glares at Court Lady Kim and accuses her of drugging him. He asks who ordered her to do this, and when she swears she just made a mistake, he asks if she’s willing to die for it. He calls in Eunuch Jo, who’s waiting with guards, and has Court Lady Kim taken away screaming.
She’s brought to Minister Lee, who says that they suspect Minister Shin of putting up the posters. He tells Court Lady Kim to go tell Minister Shin what she found and have him confess to setting up the posters, and he’ll ask the king to spare her life.
Scared, Court Lady Kim does as she’s told. She tells Minister Shin about seeing the king’s scar and mentions the posters, and he asks how she knows he did it. She says she already suspected him when he ordered her to look for the scar, and confirms that he also killed the painter.
She starts to head back to the palace, but Minister Shin brings in the so-called eunuch she conspired with. Minister Shin asks darkly why she didn’t mention getting caught, and Court Lady Kim falls to her knees saying that the king threatened her life. Minister Shin tells her not to expect him to spare it.
Moo-young spots a woman entering the palace and follows her. He grabs her and she whirls around, but it’s not Court Lady Kim. He tells Minister Lee, who tells Ha Sun that Court Lady Kim has disappeared, as well as the eunuch she paid to drug him.
Without Court Lady Kim, all they have against Minister Shin is suspicions, but at least they can safely guess that she told Minister Shin about Ha Sun’s scar. Minister Lee knows that Minister Shin’s power comes from his wealth, so Minister Lee decides to hit him where it hurts.
At the next court assembly, Ha Sun announces that he’s ready to implement the rice payment law. His detractors warn that the landlords will oppose this, but Ha Sun asks why they’re more worried about the landlords than the people who are starving. He says firmly that people will pay taxes according to how much they have, no exceptions.
Prince Jin-pyung points out that it’s unlawful to make landlords given land by previous kings pay taxes, but Ha Sun states that he’s spoken, so it can’t be taken back. Even Minister Lee is surprised, and he remembers telling Ha Sun that once the king speaks, there’s no going back.
In support of Ha Sun’s work to feed the people, So-woon orders the royal kitchens to prepare less food from now on.
While studying, Eunuch Jo snacks from the same bowl as Ha Sun, which is adorable (because everything Eunuch Jo does is adorable). Ha Sun asks why the rice payment law failed once before when it seems so fair. Eunuch Jo says that it’s because most of the officials are landlords, and Minister Shin holds the most land, so naturally he made sure it got canceled.
He also tells Ha Sun about So-woon supporting him by reducing the amount of food served in the palace. Ha Sun vows to also eat less and closes up the bowl of snacks, but Eunuch Jo says they should at least eat what they already have, hee.
Ha Sun asks Eunuch Jo to read a document sent to him by the Office of Astrology. It says that the stars were obscured by clouds last night and the horizon is hazy, so the king is warned to watch his behavior. Ha Sun asks if it will snow, and Eunuch Jo says it will according to his creaky knees.
Ha Sun sends a book to So-woon, which Ae-young complains is a terrible gift, but So-woon loves it. She notices that it’s only the first of two books, and inside is a note telling So-woon to come to the library tonight to read the second volume.
When she shows up, the library is empty. She finds the second volume on a shelf, and inside it is another note telling her to look in a third book. The note in the third book tells So-woon that there’s something stuck to her face, and on the back it says it’s her beauty. ~groan~
So-woon imagines Ha Sun writing notes and slipping them inside books for her to find. One says, “Even if I die missing you, I am happy to have known you.” Another one reads, “I miss you. No matter how much I see your face, I miss you.” The last note says, “Come to the highest place in the palace. I will be waiting for you there.”
She runs to a balcony above the palace grounds and finds Ha Sun there as promised. She throws herself into his arms, and he hugs her back. He asks why she was running, and So-woon shows him the notes and says it was because she received so many gifts from him. Ha Sun apologized for not being able to give her more, but she says they’re the most precious gift on Earth — his heart.
It begins to snow, and Ha Sun admits that he planned this because he wanted to experience the first snow with her. Smiling brightly, So-woon says that the snowflakes remind her of stars. Watching her, Ha Sun grows serious, then leans in and kisses her.
As they lose themselves in their love, we see So-woon’s hand holding the note that says, “Even if I die missing you, I am happy to have known you.”
Aside from all the court machinations and scary ministers and kings being murdered for their throne, I just love Ha Sun and So-woon’s love story. It’s so simple and pure, and such a haven for them both when all the political pressure gets to be too much. They seem to just understand each other, and I love their unsullied joy just to be together. But their romance is also tinged with a sense of sorrow, as if its dishonest beginning portends a tragic ending, and it makes me scared for them both.
You can see the sadness in Ha Sun whenever he lets himself remember that So-woon isn’t really his wife. At least now she’s technically not committing adultery, but she’s so pious and moral that I have a feeling that she won’t see things that way when she learns the truth. And you know she will, because Ha Sun is too good of a person not to tell her. He knows that she loves him for who he is, but eventually his guilt over lying to her will get the better of him and he’ll confess that he’s not really her husband. I know it has to happen, but I’m dreading that day and watching both of their hearts breaking.
My feelings are so torn on Minister Lee right now — on the one hand, I do believe that he truly wants a better world for the people of Joseon, and I even admire that he’s willing to do the hard behind-the-scenes work to make that happen. On the other hand, he’s dangerously obedient at times, even killing children just because he’s told to. On top of that, he has a distressing habit of making vows which he’s perfectly willing to throw out once he decides that the vow no longer serves his purpose. He vowed loyalty to Yi Heon so many times, but when someone else showed up that could help Minister Lee create his better world, Minister Lee was willing to murder the young man he’d sworn to protect. I don’t think that Minister Lee does these things lightly or easily, but the fact that he’s already shown himself capable of breaking his vows when they become inconvenient makes me wary to trust him on Ha Sun’s behalf.
I’m also worried because Ha Sun has gone very suddenly from being the lowest of the low, below even peasants, to having more power than anyone in the kingdom. For now he’s using that power for good, and he has strong ideals that are admirable. But that kind of power won’t be easy to control, especially since Ha Sun has a personal ax to grind, and I worry that he’ll be tempted to abuse his power if Minister Shin or Yi-geom make him angry enough. When that happens, will Minister Lee help and support him, or will he get rid of him like he did Yi Heon when he abused his power? I’d like to believe that Minister Lee would help Ha Sun find his moral compass again, but he’s proven that his ideals weigh more than individuals, so I’m not sure he won’t end up the worst threat of all to Ha Sun in the end.
- 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