The Crowned Clown: Episode 14
So much is happening so fast that I can hardly figure out where to look or what to worry about most. Our clown is running out of time to get justice for himself and his queen, and when he learns the truth about someone he thought he trusted, it could throw everything he believes into question. How he reacts will define the kind of man he is, and the kind of king he could be.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Minister Lee leaves to bring Lord Yoo back to the palace, and Ha Sun tells Eunuch Jo that he wants to do something for the queen. They both dress in nobles’ clothing, and Ha Sun leads So-woon to a spot overlooking the ocean. So-woon says that she felt like she had no right to be with him or ability to protect him when she heard the infertility diagnosis from the royal physician.
She says that it hurt so badly that she forgot she has someone who cares for her more than she does for herself. Ha Sun takes her hand, and So-woon says that she’s going to remember this scenery so she can enjoy the memory of it after returning to the palace. Ha Sun adds that they’ll go together to look at the flowers in spring, get rained on in summer, and pick hazelnuts in autumn.
Next Ha Sun takes So-woon to see two trees that have have intertwined as they’ve grown. He says that according to legend, lovers who walk between the trees will be together forever. He asks So-woon to stay with him forever, and they walk under the trees hand-in-hand.
Ha Sun earnestly vows to live up to So-woon’s expectations and become a great king. He asks for her promise never to cry alone and share everything with him, and So-woon makes that promise. Ha Sun pulls her close and kisses her passionately.
When Minister Lee arrives at Lord Yoo’s hut, he finds a horrible scene — Lord Yoo dead on the floor, a knife in his heart. Minister Lee is back at the palace when Ha Sun and So-woon return home, and he tells them the awful news in a shaking voice. So-woon denies it, having recently seen him healthy and alive, and Ha Sun has to catch her from collapsing when Minister Lee says her father was murdered.
Of course, the queen dowager is behind this, and she tells Prince Jin-pyung that he did a good job. She can’t wait to go see how devastated Ha Sun and So-woon are, but Prince Jin-pyung warns her not to let the king catch on. The queen dowager says that Lord Yoo was doomed the moment the king killed her father and her son.
Minister Lee is confident that the queen dowager is behind Lord Yoo’s murder, since Lord Yoo’s return would have given Ha Sun more power. Ha Sun starts to swear to make the queen dowager and whoever carried out the murder pay, but he stops mid-sentence, remembering Prince Jin-pyung’s vehement argument against Lord Yoo’s reinstatement.
Minister Lee agrees that Prince Jin-pyung must be the murderer, but he warns Ha Sun not to arrest him without firm evidence. Eunuch Jo joins them to report that the queen dowager and Prince Jin-pyung have been talking for a while, and Ha Sun asks Moo-young about the arrows that were shot at him and So-woon. Moo-young has one on him, so Ha Sun tells him to search Prince Jin-pyung’s home for any that match it.
But Minister Lee stops Moo-young and tells Ha Sun that if nothing turns up, they’ll only tip off Prince Jin-pyung that they suspect him — or worse, he could be accused of framing Prince Jin-pyung. Ha Sun argues that if they hesitate, they’ll lose the evidence, and Moo-young leaves to do the search. Minister Lee follows Moo-young out and tells him that he if doesn’t find anything at Prince Jin-pyung’s home, to use the arrowhead he has and make evidence.
The arrows found in Prince Jin-pyung’s house don’t match the one used to try to assassinate Ha Sun. Following orders, Moo-young snaps the head off one arrow and replaces it with the assassin’s arrowhead. A short while later, guards try to corner Prince Jin-pyung, but he grabs a sword and holds it to the Minister of War’s neck, creating a standoff.
He makes it out of the palace, and learns from one of his men later that his house was raided, and one of the arrows they tried to kill the king with was found. He asks how, since he never kept those arrows at his house, and he guesses that this is a trap set by the king.
At court, the ministers who were there when Prince Jin-pyung escaped step forward to take the blame. Ha Sun says that if they truly want to support him, they’ll help him dethrone the queen dowager. But the Minister of War says they can’t, because they’re not sure that she’s responsible for Prince Jin-pyung’s actions.
So Ha Sun decides that he’ll just issue a royal command to dethrone the queen dowager. Minister Lee says that if he does that without cause, the scholars and officials will retaliate. Instead, he says they need to get a confession, then they can petition the ministers for dethronement.
In the morning, Minister Shin sends Ha Sun a message that he wishes to speak to him. He tells Ha Sun that if he uses Prince Jin-pyung to depose the queen dowager, he’ll only be doing what Prince Jin-pyung wants. Ha Sun is unimpressed that that’s all Minister Shin has to say, but when he turns to go, Minister Shin calls out, “Playing the king must be fun. Sitting on the throne will make you think you’re really the king.”
He tells Ha Sun that he’s only Minister Lee’s puppet, and that Minister Lee is the one running the country. Ha Sun says that Minister Lee isn’t like that, and Minister Shin says it’s no wonder Minister Lee killed Yi Heon and chose Ha Sun instead. Ha Sun is horrified by his claim that Minister Lee killed Yi Heon, and Minister Shin tells him that Minister Lee was the only witness to the king’s death.
He says that Minister Lee will treat him well as long as he does as Minister Lee wants, but that if Ha Sun goes against him, Minister Lee will probably kill him, too. He tells Ha Sun that he’s a puppet, but he doesn’t have to be Minister Lee’s puppet, and he offers Ha Sun incredible wealth and power to partner with him instead.
But Ha Sun tells him to shut up and remember that he’s in prison because he didn’t take him seriously, and assumed Minister Lee is as disloyal as he is. He calls Minister Shin pitiful for trying to play him against Minister Lee when he’s this close to death.
Moo-young finds Ha Sun on his way out of the prison and says he has urgent news. Minister Lee has gone to the queen dowager to ask if anything seems strange about Prince Jin-pyung, since he knows they’re close. The queen dowager says that Prince Jin-pyung is only her informant, and she hasn’t noticed anything.
Minister Lee says that Prince Jin-pyung made multiple attempts on the king’s life and even killed Lord Yoo, but that he wouldn’t have the guts to do that without assurance of gaining the throne himself. The queen dowager says that he must have wanted revenge for his father’s and brother’s murders.
That reminds Minister Lee that it’s almost the anniversary of Prince Yul’s death. The queen dowager stiffens as Minister Lee says he remembers how much the little prince enjoyed his dinner, not knowing it was his last meal on Earth. She flings her teacup, realizing now that Minister Lee killed the prince.
He twists the knife even further, telling the queen dowager that her son cried out for her with his final, bloody breath. She screams that she should have poisoned him, not Yi Heon, and when Minister Lee asks if that’s why she ordered Prince Jin-pyung to kill the king and queen, she screams, “YES!! I ordered Prince Jin-pyung to kill the king and queen, and Lord Yoo. I only punished those who had a hand in killing my own son. What did I do wrong??”
Calmly, Minister Lee simply stands to let Ha Sun enter the room — he heard every word. He says that now that he’s heard her confession, he’ll order her deposition, and she screams again. With all the dignity she can muster, she swears on her son’s grave to rip Ha Sun apart and make him suffer for eternity.
Minister Lee and Ha Sun leave, and Minister Lee admits that he was worried Ha Sun wouldn’t make it in time. Minister Lee offers to answer Ha Sun’s questions, so Ha Sun asks, “If you killed Prince Yul for His Majesty, then who did you kill for me?” He already knows the answer, admitting that Minister Shin told him, and that he also said Minister Lee would kill him when he outlives his usefulness. He asks if it’s true, and Minister Lee whispers, “Yes, I murdered the king.”
He takes the blame for Moo-young replacing the arrowhead at Prince Jin-pyung’s home, too, because they needed evidence to depose the queen dowager. He gives Ha Sun a letter of resignation, worried he might get in Ha Sun’s way now that both Minister Shin and the queen dowager know he killed Prince Yul and Yi Heon.
He says he’ll pay for his sin, but Ha Sun retorts that it’s the king’s sin. He begs Minister Lee to stop trying to bear these horrible sins alone, reminding Minister Lee that he once told him that the throne is a dreadful position that takes lives and sheds blood. He says that since Minister Lee was attempting to carry the guilt alone, it’s no wonder Minister Shin thinks Minister Lee was trying to play king.
But he says that even though he doesn’t know Minister Lee’s reasons (for the murders), it breaks his heart to think how lonely Minister Lee has been. Minister Lee can’t believe that Ha Sun isn’t afraid of him, but Ha Sun says that he could never fear Minister Lee because he trusts him.
He uses the arrowhead as an example of Minister Lee trying to help him out of a situation his own reckless behavior caused. He tears up Minister Lee’s resignation and tells him to protect the nation and its people by his side.
Incredulous, Minister Lee admits tearfully that he was scared the throne would corrupt Ha Sun. “But now I know,” he says, “You aren’t like him. I chose you because you were different, but I didn’t put my full trust in you. You’ve taught me how important it is to trust someone.”
Slowly, Minister Lee sinks to his knees. He says reverently, “Your Majesty, I wont be afraid anymore. As your loyal servant, I will trust and serve you. Please forgive all my misdeeds.” He performs a deep bow to Ha Sun, and Ha Sun returns his bow. Minister Lee is crying in earnest when they stand, and he says that he’s going to treat Ha Sun as the king from now on.
Ha Sun is finally presented with a petition to depose the queen dowager. Minister Lee says that the queen dowager admitted to plotting high treason with Prince Jin-pyung, and that she needs to be removed before she does something even worse. He says that she’s betrayed Ha Sun as a subject and as a mother, and most of the ministers agree that she needs to go. Ha Sun accepts the petition without hesitation.
Lord Yoo never got to wear the clothes that So-woon made, so she asks that they be buried with him. She hears that the queen dowager is being deposed and insists on going to see her, saying that if she’s dethroned, she’ll become an even bigger threat.
In her rooms, the queen dowager talks to the still-bloody clothing that Prince Yul died in. She says that she was going to kill them all and avenge him but got caught in their trap, but she promises never to give up.
When So-woon arrives, the queen dowager accuses her of coming to gloat. So-woon says she won’t mention the curses the queen dowager placed on her, or the flower tea that rendered her unable to have children, but she can’t forgive the queen dowager for killing her father. The queen dowager croons that she’s glad to see So-woon drop the sickening lies and fake niceness.
So-woon tells her to resign and move to a temple of her own accord. The queen dowager spits that So-woon should be stoned to death, and So-woon says she won’t hide her shortcomings — if the queen dowager admits her crimes and resigns, then she’ll do the same. The queen dowager refuses to beg a lowly clown for forgiveness and says she prefers to be deposed.
The queen dowager leaves the palace on foot, as her followers beg her not to go. As the palace gates close behind her, she only looks more determined.
Once she’s gone, Minister Lee brings up the subject of the impending war between Ming and Aisin Gurun. He asks to be allowed to resign as Chief Royal Secretary to go help on the borders, happy to take whatever new position Ha Sun bestows on him. Ha Sun is reluctant to let Minister Lee go, but Minister Lee says it’s crucial to stabilize the borders.
Moo-young notices that Minister Lee is suddenly addressing Ha Sun formally, but Minister Lee just says it took him too long to start. He tells Moo-young not to let his guard down regarding the queen dowager, and to start reporting to Ha Sun directly. He also summons Ho-geol to check on the status of the land survey for the rice payment law. Ho-geol sighs that his workers are distracted by the queen dowager’s deposement, but he’ll make sure things stay on schedule.
Woon-shim notices that evening that Minister Lee seems different, and he says he feels great, like he’s seen an old love. He asks why when Woon-shim doesn’t seem jealous, and she says she’s always wanted him to have someone to share his burden, even if it’s not her.
Minister Lee wilts and admits that her answer upsets him. He says he’s tried not to look back on mistakes he’s made, but that there’s something he’s always regretted — turning her down when she became a gisaeng and asked him to put her hair up (make her his concubine).
He says that sometimes, he wonders if they still have a chance. He asks if Woon-shim would go with him to the border, and she nods, too happy to speak. Minister Lee passes out with his head in Woon-shim’s lap, having had a lot to drink, and she tells him that she’s always wanted to hear him say that.
Having amassed an army of three thousand men, Prince Jin-pyung prepares to make a big move, but first there’s something in the capital that he needs to retrieve. At the prison, a guard tosses a rice ball to Minister Shin, and when he bites into it, he finds a note inside that says “jailbreak.”
Ha Sun and So-woon meet in the library after Lord Yoo’s funeral, and Ha Sun apologizes for not being able to keep his promise to share her sorrows and be there with her. So-woon says she understands he had urgent business, and she’s sorry she couldn’t share that burden with him.
Ha Sun admits that being king is a lot harder than he expected, and that it makes him scared. He says he’s even thought about going back to his old life, and So-woon doesn’t hesitate to offer to go with him if that’s what he wants to do, but Ha Sun refuses to run away.
He asks for So-woon’s help with something, and points accusingly at a pile of reports from the provinces. He asks if she’ll help him translate them, and So-woon is happy to be able to support him.
The peddler-slash-spy that Minister Lee sent a letter with previously returns to the gibang, badly injured. He says he was attacked and Minister Lee’s secret letter was taken, and Minister Lee goes into panic mode. The spy didn’t see his attacker’s faces, but he did hear one of them say that Minister Shin would be pleased.
After dark, Minister Lee visits Minister Shin in prison to ask where he hid the secret letter he stole from the spy. Minister Shin says that he doesn’t understand why someone like Minister Lee, born into a good family, would associate with peasants and live against the rules. He advises Minister Lee to enjoy what he has and pass it on to his children, but Minister Lee asks if Minister Shin truly thinks that’s right.
Minister Shin retorts that Minister Lee is the one using a puppet king to further his own agenda, and Minister Lee doesn’t deny it. He says he found a king who understands him, and that he won’t falter this time because he’s leaving. He asks again where the secret letter is, but instead Minister Shin says to just kill him.
Minister Lee seethes, so emotional that at first he doesn’t notice the sword at his own throat. He watches in horror as men break Minister Shin out of his cell, then he’s dragged outside and forced to his knees. Minister Shin takes a sword and tells Minister Lee that the heavens are on his side, and Minister Lee snarls that the heavens must reek of corruption. Minister Shin says that he doesn’t care so long as the heavens agree with him.
At the palace gate, a guard is taken out by an arrow, and his partner runs for help. He tells another guard that he thinks war has broken out, but before the guard can give an order, one of his own men runs him through. The gates are opened, and Prince Jin-pyung enters, followed by his army.
A frantic Eunuch Jo finds Ha Sun and So-woon still in the library, and he screams that there’s a rebellion. At first Ha Sun is shocked, then a look of determination comes over his face.
This show’s cliffhangers never fail to leave me speechless. Every time I think that Ha Sun has finally got things under control, something even worse happens, and every time I’m convinced that this time there’s no way he’ll get out of it. What really stinks about all this, for Ha Sun, is that none of this is due to anything he’s done, it’s all fallout from Yi Heon’s days. Ha Sun is just trying to clean up his predecessor’s mess, make the kingdom a fair place to live, and maybe spend some time just being in love.
I was so impressed with Ha Sun and Minister Lee in this episode, they both had major breakthroughs. I’ve been so conflicted about Minister Lee, and I was worried that when Ha Sun found out how far Minister Lee has gone, he’d turn his back on him. But Ha Sun sees the good in Minister Lee and can tell that the murders weigh on him. It exactly mirrors how Minister Lee felt when he saw Ha Sun relishing Yi-geom’s punishment, but felt relieved to know that Ha Sun also felt bad about it. Those were rougher times, when drastic measures had to be taken, and many kings are considered great rulers despite the body counts that got them to the throne. Minister Lee and Ha Sun have had to do horrible things in the name of loyalty and justice, but those acts don’t define them or make them unilaterally bad people. It turns out that they’re very similar — wishing for a better world and grieving the things that must be done to accomplish it, but willing to do those things for the greater good. They understand that in each other and respect each other, and are even learning to trust each other.
I’ve been so scared that Minister Lee would turn on Ha Sun if he felt Ha Sun wasn’t meeting his expectations, but then they had that talk where Ha Sun said he still trusts Minister Lee. The look on Minister Lee’s face was so disbelieving that it really hit home, as Ha Sun said, how lonely Minister Lee has been as he shouldered all the responsibility himself. Back when Lord Gil was killed, Minister Lee lost the trust and respect of Lord Gil’s followers because he did as Lord Gil said, even though it made him look like a traitor. Then he’s spent years doing the king’s dirty work, sacrificing his own reputation. For Ha Sun to know everything and still say, “I trust you,” must be life-changing for Minister Lee. When he kneeled and called Ha Sun “Your Majesty” for the first time, I realized that Minister Lee sees him as a true king and would give his life for him. And I love that Ha Sun didn’t tell him not to bow, but returned the gesture, showing his deep respect for Minister Lee in return.
All of this hinges, of course, on Minister Lee somehow not getting killed by Minister Shin, which seemed very likely to happen there at the end and actually gave me a stomachache. I wouldn’t put it past the show to kill him off, especially now that he’s made peace with Ha Sun, told Woon-shim how he feels about her, and is ready to dedicate himself to his cause. I really hope he doesn’t die, but if he does, I don’t want it to be at the hands of his worst enemy. Come on Show, if you’re going to kill Minister Lee off, at least let him go out like a hero!
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- 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