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Haechi: Episodes 35-36

Our prince has suffered a lot of loss in a short amount of time, and this latest loss is the most devastating of all as it brings about a shift in Yi Geum’s entire world. With his newfound confidence completely swept out from under him, he struggles to claw his way out of the pit, only to be abandoned by those he trusted most. If ever there was a time to find the king inside himself, it’s now.

 
EPISODE 35-36: “The Right to Become a King”

The court mourns King Kyungjong’s death, but nobody’s grief is as overwhelming as Yi Geum’s. Chief Justice Jo leads the Sorons to a decision, and Yeo-ji, having overheard them talking, warns Queen Inwon what they’re planning. Yi Geum is outside Queen Inwon’s chambers when Chief Justice Jo tells her that Yi Geum is to blame for King Kyungjong’s death, but she argues that Yi Geum worked harder than anyone to save the king.

Yi Geum thinks of all the times he was told that he was worthless because of his mother’s low birth. He thinks that he only wanted to prove himself, and he goes in to confront Chief Justice Jo. Chief Justice Jo tells him to his face that the king died because of him and that he’s unworthy to be king.

Yi Geum thinks that maybe they were all right and he was wrong, and that he’s never been worthy.

Lee In-jwa, a Namin, meets with a pair of men who tell him that the elders are waiting. They blame King Sukjong for almost wiping out their party, and consider King Kyungjong’s death as payment for his father’s sins. In-jwa tells them of a rumor that says Yi Geum let the king die, or maybe even poisoned him, and he reports that the atmosphere in the palace is grim.

Geon-tae brings Dal-moon the news that Chief Justice Jo and the Sorons are opposed to Yi Geum taking the throne. Yoon-young had told Dal-moon that Yi Tan’s plan was for Yi Geum to take the fall for the king’s death, and he blames himself for not being able to let go of her sooner. We see that when he checked on the chief nurse and found her dead, Yoon-young had escaped.

Chief Justice Jo and the Sorons petition outside Queen Inwon’s rooms, insisting that King Kyungjong was murdered and begging her to set things right. Minister Min, on the other hand, doesn’t believe that it’s important whether Yi Geum stopped the king’s medicine on purpose to kill him — he’s more concerned that the Soron party is split on the issue, and says that the Norons need to decide whether to follow Chief Justice Jo, or support Yi Geum along with Chief Inspector Lee.

While at the palace, Moon-soo runs into Yeo-ji, who asks him for information from the Department of Justice that she can pass along to Queen Inwon. Confused, Moon-soo asks why she’s in the queen dowager’s palace, then his face falls as he realizes that she did it for Yi Geum.

Chief Inspector Lee comes to the palace to see Yi Geum, and Yi Geum says dejectedly that he realizes that everyone was right about him. He gives himself credit for making it this far, but he says he’s not worthy to be king because King Kyungjong died due to his actions. Chief Inspector Lee asks if he poisoned the medicine or stopped the royal doctors from treating the king, or if he suggested the wolfsbane and ginseng medicine to kill the king.

Harshly, he asks Yi Geum if he did all that with the intent to take the throne. He says those are lies made up by those who don’t know the truth, and asks why Yi Geum is blaming himself based on lies. He says kindly that he knows these things are painful to Yi Geum, and that he probably prefers giving up the throne to living among lies.

But he tells Yi Geum that this is the path of a king — to live among lies, misconceptions, and humiliation. He says that if Yi Geum runs from that path, that’s when he’s no longer worthy to be king. He tells Yi Geum to decide now if he’s capable of meeting the requirements to be a king.

Yi Geum sits up late into the night, thinking about Chief Justice Jo’s accusations and Chief Inspector Lee’s challenge. He remembers King Kyungjong’s last wish for him to become the great king he’s always dreamed of being, and his decision is made.

Chief Justice Jo summons the national security councilor to ask how many soldiers they can use if something goes wrong during their attempt to stop Yi Geum’s enthronement. Moon-soo is also concerned about the military situation, and Yi Geum tells him that Minister Min has called together the Ministry of War and the police bureau.

There are six days until Yi Geum is crowned king, and he asks Moon-soo to find out what Chief Justice Jo and Minister Min can accomplish in that time. Minister Min tells his people that in that six days, anything could happen — Yi Geum could take the throne, or Chief Justice Jo could succeed at stopping him. He says that the Norons need to be prepared for either probability so that they can act quickly.

Thinking about what it means to be worthy, Yi Geum asks Queen Inwon to help him be crowned king as soon as possible (she is in control during the six days when the throne is empty). He explains that he’s concerned about all the military activity in the palace, and Queen Inwon admits that she’s concerned, too. Yi Geum says that he knows this will make him appear to be a greedy prince who killed the king to take the throne, but Queen Inwon just smiles and summons the chief royal secretary.

Chief Inspector Lee has the Saheonbu soldiers put on alert, then approaches Minister Jo with a plan. He gives Minister Jo the choice not to go along with his plans, but loyal Minister Jo says that he’ll follow wherever Chief Inspector Lee leads. Moon-soo says that they don’t even need to ask him if he’s on their side.

Jang-dal and Ah-bong rush to Dal-moon for confirmation that Yi Geum is going to be enthroned early. Geon-tae shrieks that it’s true and hugs Ah-bong, Jang-dal hugs the storyteller, and Dal-moon just stands looking proud.

Chief Justice Jo asks Minister Min incredulously why he’s choosing to support Yi Geum. Minister Min says that in the palace, foes and allies constantly change, depending on how much you need that person. He informs Chief Justice Jo that his military power is stronger and asks him not to shed blood needlessly,

Chief Inspector Lee asks Minister Min what kind of deal he was offered by Yi Geum, and Minister Min says there’s a deal, though not the kind Chief Inspector Lee is thinking, and not from the crown prince, but a group of fools. As for Yi Geum, Minister Min wonders what they would have done in his position.

Chief Inspector Lee and Minister Jo present themselves to Yi Geum, who says that they look tired and must have had a long night. Moon-soo tells Yi Geum that he’ll no longer be addressed as “crown prince,” adding, “I hope you will become a great king, Your Highness. I will stay by your side and protect you until the end of your journey.”

Queen Inwon lets Yeo-ji try preparing Yi Geum’s robe for his enthronement, and as she lovingly steams the cloth, she thinks about Yi Geum. He had tried to warn her of what could happen if she entered the palace, saying that he’s a man before he’s a prince. But she’d become a court lady anyway, although he hasn’t seen her since she came to the palace.

It’s finally time for the coronation ceremony, and Moon-soo couldn’t look prouder as his friend takes the throne. Yi Geum is crowned king, and there are no objections, not even from Chief Justice Jo and the Sorons.

Jang-dal and Ah-bong get yelled at by Young-han for eating the ginseng he gave to Moon-soo to kiss up to him. They explain that Moon-soo can’t have ginseng so he gave it to them, and Young-han asks curiously what he can eat. Jang-dal tells Young-han to stop thinking about bribes and start thinking about work, passing it on as a message from Moon-soo, hee.

The other inspectors assume that Moon-soo is going to be reappointed to a position in the palace and ask him to help them out when he is. He just smiles knowingly and tells them to help themselves, and cheerfully sends them back to work. But his smile falters as he looks at the resignation letter he’s written.

Chief Inspector Lee brings Yi Geum the books he needs to read to prepare for discipline sessions with the officials, adding cheekily for Yi Geum to knock them down a peg or two. Yi Geum asks why Chief Inspector Lee brought the documents so quickly, and Chief Inspector Lee says that there won’t be another time for it. With difficulty, he tells Yi Geum that he’s here to say goodbye, and Yi Geum is devastated to hear that Chief Inspector Lee, Minister Jo, and Moon-soo are resigning.

Chief Inspector Lee says that Yi Geum needs to let them go in order to lead the court, but Yi Geum refuses to abandon the people who stood by him until he gained the throne. But Chief Inspector Lee tells him to first gain power through the Norons, and Yi Geum instantly knows what kind of deal Minister Min made — he would support Yi Geum, so long as Yi Geum’s three closest supporters resign.

Furious, Yi Geum bellows that he won’t accept this. He confronts Minister Min and says that he won’t accept his offer and abandon his friends, but Minister Min says wearily that it wasn’t him, but his friends who volunteered this deal. They basically traded their friendship for Minister Min’s power and influence with the Norons, which Minister Min admits that he doesn’t understand.

Minister Min tells Yi Geum that accepting this deal is the only way to calm down Chief Justice Jo and the Sorons. Yi Geum asks if he’s saying to give up the people who risked their lives for him. Minister Min replies that the king’s place is to sacrifice the innocent for regal power, which is a lonely position to be in. He tells Yi Geum that the Norons support him, and that he hopes Yi Geum’s reign is peaceful.

Yeo-ji learns from Jo-hong about the resignations, which also include Chief Inspector Lee, Minister Jo, and Moon-soo moving away from the city, and that Yi Geum is planning to try to talk Moon-soo out of it.

Moon-soo thinks about the night he ran into Yeo-ji, when he’d asked her if she knew what being a court lady entails. She’d said she knows she can never return home or to the Saheonbu, or be a damo again, but that this is the only way she can protect Yi Geum.

Now Moon-soo understands how she feels, because he’s leaving the Saheonbu for the same reason and with the same repercussions. Yeo-ji’s answer to him is the same answer he gives Hyuk when he asks if Moon-soo will be okay: “Of course. If I can protect His Majesty, it’s good enough for me.”

By the time Yi Geum comes looking for Moon-soo, he’s gone. Dal-moon gives him a letter from Moon-soo, who’d known he wouldn’t be able to leave if he saw Yi Geum again. The letter asks forgiveness for not saying goodbye, and teasingly reminds Yi Geum that he used to order Moon-soo around by leaving letters until Moon-soo finally objected.

He tells Yi Geum not to feel sorry or hurt, because he makes this choice happily. The letter goes on to say that Moon-soo felt overwhelmed while working for Yi Geum. He tells Yi Geum to be a wise king, and that no matter where he is or what he does, he will protect him with a sincere heart.

Back in the throne room, Yi Geum wonders sorrowfully if the throne is really a place where he can’t even protect his people or his friend. He leans on the throne and cries, and Yeo-ji, feeling the same pain, cries outside.

Elsewhere in the city, someone dumps a bottle of liquid into a well. The following day a letter is delivered to Hyuk at the Saheonbu, and he hurries to speak to Yi Geum.

Yi Geum hears a voice while in the palace courtyard, and thinks to himself that there’s no way… He barely misses seeing Yeo-ji, and he’s distracted by Hyuk’s arrival. Hyuk says that Byung-joo escaped the place of exile, and that the Saheonbu and the local officials are investigating. Yi Geum thinks of Yi Tan and orders Hyuk to check his exile location immediately.

We see Yi Tan exit his exile hut to see his guards all slaughtered outside, and Byung-joo standing over them holding a bloody sword. Byung-joo greets Yi Tan, then a stranger says they should get moving since the palace is onto them already. Yi Tan asks who he is, but In-jwa just asks Yi Tan if he wants to overturn the world. Looking a little crazy himself, he tells Yi Tan that the chaos can ask the king himself if he’s qualified.

There’s more bad news for Yi Geum — there’s been an outbreak of an extremely fast-spreading illness in the city. People are falling ill with almost no warning, and nobody knows what’s causing it or how to treat it.

 
COMMENTS

Oof, it’s like every time Yi Geum accomplishes one thing, five more problems crop up, until it’s a wonder he even wants to be king anymore. I was worried for a while there that he would let his old insecurities overwhelm him and talk himself out of everything he’s accomplished, but thankfully he had Chief Inspector Lee to point out that it’s what he does under such devastating conditions that determine whether he’s qualified to be king, not his birth status or what people wrongly think of him.

I think that it’s Yi Geum belief that he’s not good enough to be king that makes him the perfect man for the job, and portraying that is another way in which the show stays faithful to history. King Yeonjo is well-known for his humility, famously telling King Kyungjong (after surviving an assassination attempt) that he would rather be a commoner. King Yeonjo took personal responsibility for problems in his kingdom, even attributing drought and famine to his own lack of virtue, and his first response to problems was to look at himself. It’s our Yi Geum’s intense sense of responsibility that causes him to feel like everything is his fault, but that quality can also make him a highly conscientious king who will think through every decision he makes and always act in the best interest of others.

Lee In-jwa’s entrance into the story has me very worried — he’s another historical character that created some problems for King Yeonjo by organizing a revolt in the early years of his reign. This In-jwa looks half-unhinged, which makes me very scared of the unholy trinity of him, Byung-joo, and Yi Tan. There’s not a fully sane mind among them, and if they find Yoon-young and get her to help them, they can do some serious damage at a time when Yi Geum is at his most vulnerable. He just barely managed to convince himself that he deserves to be king, only to find out that it cost him his three most trusted, most loved supporters. All he has now is Minister Min, who can’t be trusted further than Yi Geum can throw him. A revolt now will either break Yi Geum, or make him stronger than ever, and I think the result will be determined by whether he can find the one person he has left by his side, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

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Thanks for continuing to write these recaps! Haechi is my favorite current show, even though I don't always have comments about it. It makes me really happy to know that the beautiful person that is Yi Geum is based on someone who was reported to be good-hearted in real life too.

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Hear, hear, @mistyisles! Manseh, @lollypip!

I'd like to add that Jung Il-woo is doing a lovely job portraying Yi Geum. His good-hearted, honorable personality casts a sidelight on later history, and the unfortunate issues with his son, Prince Jangheon, better known as Sado. I think Writer-nim is using the mentally-unstable Yi Tan to explore King Yeongjo's troubled relationship with his son. But that tragedy lies in the future -- I hope beyond the scope of this drama.

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Yes, I agree! He's doing a marvelous job.

I've also wondered if the show will address that part of his story, but I definitely agree that it's at least easy to infer that Yeongjo's experience with Yi Tan will play an important role in how he sees Sado.

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Thanks for recapping! I haven't been this engaged in a show for a while. I think this is kim yi young's best drama since yi san, ratings be damned. I'm eager to see how lee in jwa's rebellion will end here.

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This and Yi San are my fave from her.

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Absolutely. I see why dong yi got such high ratings but the quality is better with haechi, without losing the fun.

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@kiara, @sparks121,
I got a bee in my bonnet a while back and decided to watch MY LOVE PATZZI. I just finished it last night. I was floored to realize that HAECHI'S Kim Yi-young was the writer, and that it was her first drama (and Jang Nara's second!), back in 2002.

At first I wasn't sure that I wanted to watch more than the first 3 out of 10 episodes, but decided to stick with this retelling of the Joseon folktale "Kongji and Patzzi" that turns it, and a whole bunch of Kdrama tropes, on their heads. It's kind of dated, but in a way that gives a glimpse of how much Korea has changed in the past 17 years. PPL seems to be for the resort & amusement park itself -- along with Pringles!

It was actually a refreshing watch -- except for the fact that the Kongji analogue should have gotten a heaping dose of retribution. Instead, she was rewarded with an even better job at another amusement park. But the only thing we ever saw her do at work was run around tormenting and plotting against Jang Nara's feisty tomboy character.

It cracked me up that Song-yi's two suitors started their own mutual admiration society instead of raining down mutually-assured destruction via love triangle. This show was really subversive. The fact that it starred Kim Jae-won and Kim Rae-won as the peacefully-coexisting "rivals" was a very pleasant bonus. Oh, and there was a lot a great vintage background music.

The economical 10-episode length was noteworthy. It still gave plenty of time for the dating fiascos of co-workers, for instance. (I think quite a few more recent dramas would have been better if they had been shorter.)

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Beware of Rampant Speculation

Part 1 of 2

Thank you for your recap and comments, @lollypip. Excuse me while I catch my breath for a bit. HAETCHI has been hurtling along at breakneck speed, and now I’m not sure which end is up. Ottoke?

I’m finding myself at loose ends at the conclusion of this episode. It’s partly because Yi Geum’s band of brothers has broken up, with three of them voluntarily resigning from their posts and exiling themselves from court. – Except for Yeo-ji, who goes into exile at court. – Aside from her desire to guard the new King, I don’t know why the rest of them did what they did, or what any of them can do moving forward. I’m frazzled partly because of the mysterious new kid in town, and what appears to be his campaign of terror. It has been completely under everyone’s radar – even Dal-moon’s, which is saying something. Wi Byung-joo is now on the loose. And there are Yi Tan’s and Yoon-young’s machinations that are still in process. Quite frankly, I’m waiting for a whole lot of shoes to drop.

For a change, I’m in the same boat with Minister Min, who cannot grok the Yi Team’s resignations just as the office holders were finally coming into their power. Now that I reflect on it, I suspect that they have preemptively clipped their own wings lest the siren call of political might corrupts them. Or is it that removing themselves from Yi Geum’s side frees him from relationships that could and would eventually be used against him by his opponents? I sense that a lesson in impermanence is also involved.

The more I hear Minister Min make his pronouncements and blather on about his political philosophy, the more I think he’s mistaken about many things. His political acumen and insight may actually be self-delusion. He projects his own experiences onto others, and speaks in generalizations that ignore the unique motivations behind others’ attitudes and actions. For some folks, feeling and emotion trump logic, ideals – and temporal power and wealth. Min has obviously done some dirty deeds in his day, and sooner or later he’ll have to face the music. I can’t wait.

Kudos to Daebi for supporting Yi Geum during his dark night of the soul – and for fearlessly exercising her prerogative to expedite his enthronement. Despite Chief Justice Jo’s tantrums and the character assassination he heaped on Seja over his handling of the late King’s poisoning and death, Yi Geum has moved relatively quickly through his grief and despair. He has embraced his honorable path of kingship with the moral support of his old teacher, Chief Inspector Lee, and the Queen Dowager. I’m thoroughly enjoying Nam Ki-ae’s performance as Daebi – and her concurrent turn as Madame Jin in CONFESSION. I did not like her in the beginning (nor Chief Inspector Lee), but I’ve warmed up to her in a big way. Lee Gwang-jwa has turned out to be a gem.

- Continued -

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Re the 3 guys resigning:

Other than what you said about clean cuts preventing them from being used as weapons to be used against YiGeum, first of all, they needed a strong motivation for the Norons to back YiGeum's enthronement ASAP, knowing full well that if their support wavered at all or if they took too long, YiGeum might not even get to look at the throne, much less sit on it. And what better motivation for your enemies than taking their enemies (yourself) out. Knowing YiGeum as a Crown Prince, they are able to trust that he can rule well without them and so they were comfortable to go.

The second thing is that as King, YiGeum now needs to navigate politics ON HIS OWN, unlike when he was Crown Prince and had the king to back him up. That means he has to face what King KyungJong himself faced - rivaling factions and annoying politics - and having to learn to rule alongside that. And so far, as Crown Prince, he has always been able to rely on his trusty teacher and friends, whom he knows are 100% on his side. Now baby has to learn to live with the wolves and he can't if mom and dad are always there to catch him. They're quitting so that they don't become his crutches. They're like Mommy Eagles throwing him down the cliff. He has to fly by himself and battle problems himself.

He's King now. He has to learn the loneliness of being one. And so they went, trusting he will excel, as long as he's successfully put on the throne.

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Excellent, @peeps! Now I understand. Tough love for their new King, so he can get on with the baptism-by-fire. ;-)

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Part 2 of 2

Who the heck is this Lee In-jwa fellow who has materialized out of thin air? It feels as if he has parachuted in from Central Casting for the requisite Fourth Quarter Mayhem. Here’s what we know – or I suspect – about him so far:

1. He’s a member of the toothless Namin faction.

2. He has sprung ex-Namin / ex-Saheonbu Executive Inspector Wi Byung-joo from his place of exile.

3. He has brought Wi with him to Prince Mil-poong’s place of exile

4. With Wi, he has murdered all Mil-poong’s guards. It looks as if he intends to free the prince.

5. He seems to be involved in the poisoning of one of the wells in the capital.

6. He may be more of a ruthless whacko than Yi Tan and Yoon-young combined. * shudder *

Beyond that, I don’t know what to make of him, or how much of a threat he truly poses to Yi Geum’s new administration.

Truth to tell, I’m still scratching my head over how Yi Tan and Wi Byung-joo are even still alive after all this time – especially considering how quickly ministers Lee Yi-geum and Kim Chang-joong were made to pay for their crimes. They were both supposed to get Ye Olde Bowl of Poison, weren’t they? Perhaps we’re supposed to ascribe this to the uproar in the court over King Kyungjong’s death. Has Yi Geum’s investigation of the Royal Infirmary prevented it from supplying the fatal draught for the criminals?

Note to Yi Geum: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, Your Majesty. Please make sure the baddies are good and dead before you send them away. Otherwise it’s perpetual catch-and-release, and your soldiers and innocent civilians get hurt and killed in the ensuing uproar.

I like how Yeo-ji has slipped under Yi Geum’s radar by working for Daebi. The Queen Dowager has a good eye for loyal servants, and needs all the help she can get. On the other hand, I was hoping to see the damo acting as more of a bodyguard à la Ru Shi-gae in GRAND PRINCE. Perhaps that was the original intent. Given Go Ara’s injury, she may have to work the equivalent of a desk job instead of going gangbusters on the baddies. I just hope that she is recovering well. Hwaiting, Ms. Go!

Last, but not least, I enjoy that little scene of jubilation at Information Central when Jang-dal and Ah-bong drop by to confirm the good news that Yi Geum’s enthronement is proceeding posthaste. Seeing them jump up and down with Geon-tae and Storyteller as Dal-moon flashes a tiny smile is a lovely payoff after all the angst we’ve been wallowing in. Judging from the jailbreaks, more angst is coming down the pike, so I’m glad for a modicum of happiness.

A little more botany – a beautiful yellow species of wolfsbane:
THE POISON GARDEN website – Aconitum lycoctonum, wolfsbane
http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/aconitum_lycoctonum.htm

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You should look him up; he led a rebellion against yeongjo in real life.

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@sparks121,
Done and done, thank you. Yi Geum's historical response was inspired.

Epiphanyblog
Yi In-Jwa – Villain and Rebel
https://valkayec.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/yi-in-jwa-villain-and-rebel/

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My version. (SPOILER)

I think Yi In-jwa took the fall for the Soron faction.
There were several rebel leaders and he was one of them.
The whole thing started because the Sorons knew that if Yi Geum sits on the throne, the Norons will be in power and it will be the end for them.
Sure enough it happened as they feared.

Things didn't come easy for our dear king and he paid a heavy price later with his son Sado. He chose to save his grandson who became one of the best king in Joseon.

That's why I love this writer's YI SAN. I learnt so much from her drama.

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Thanks, @kiara. I'm curious as to why the moderate Southern (Namin) wing of the Eastern faction (Dongin) would collaborate with the Soron (Young Learning) branch of the Western faction (Seoin). Maybe the Sorons were the only ones willing to give the Namins a place at the table? As for taking the fall for the Sorons, was Namin Yi In-jwa set up and double-crossed?

Aside from watching the movie THE THRONE, I don't think I've seen any of the dramas that deal with Yi Geum, his son, or his grandson. So many sageuks, so little time. But now you've put YI SAN, WIND OF THE PALACE on my radar. ;-) I just don't know when I'll be able to get to it.

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"EIGHT DAYS" is a good one.

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@pakalanapikake

That political timeline was a mess. The political fight wasn't just between opposite factions but within each faction so it's pretty confusing.

Yi In-jwa was not the only leader of the rebellion. His brother was involved and led his own group of rebels and there were 3 or 4 other rebel leaders with their own people from other provinces.
There were also a lot of forced recruits and they didn't even know what the heck they were doing or what they were fighting for or who is leading them because the leaders didn't reveal their name.

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@kiara April 23, 2019 at 9:12 AM

Thanks so much, Sunbae-nim, for your recommendation for EIGHT DAYS, which I think is already on my to-watch list.

The timeline of factional fighting truly is a mess, not only because it was both within and between multiple rival groups, but especially due to its extending over generations. Toss in the conflicting schools of political philosophy that handed it down to their students, and the grudges were carefully nurtured for future payback.

Given the complexity of Joseon politics, it makes sense that we're only seeing one faction of rebels up close in HAECHI.

As usual, poor schmucks at the bottom of the heap are incited to join, while slaves and other low-borns are cluelessly forced into fighting their owners' battles. It reminds me of the Hessian conscripts sent by the House of Hannover to fight against the rebels in the North American colonies.

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Exactly how bad are the ratings for this drama, because it's the best thing airing right now. (It just goes to show that you can't trust ratings - I can't figure out how total crap like SWDBS or She Was Pretty get ratings in the mid to high 9s, while a historical drama as excellent as Haechi gets low ratings. It's so good, I watch every episode at least twice!

Repeat of what I wrote on "what we're watching now":

Jung Il-woo continues to shine in his role as Yi Geum, but then really, all the actors are fantastic. I love every plot twist and turn, especially as it is - loosely based, of course - on actual historical figures/events, and sageuk dramas (both historical and folklore/mythology) are evolving as my particular preference. (Unsurprising, as my favorite literature genres are historical fiction and fantasy). I think I'm still one episodes behind, but I tend to save this drama for weekends, when I can sit, sip wine, and savor every second. So glad Go Ara is back, although I agree with @Lollypip that she looks like she's still in a lot of pain. I wonder what differences we'd have seen in the story's progress had she not been unable to film for weeks, but TBH, the continued excellence - with no sense of missing scenes or substandard writing/acting - shows how talented everyone on this set is, from the PD to the writers to the actors. I continue to want to kick Dal Moon in the gonads, which is where his brain is currently residing. I can understand loving someone who is flawed, but this woman is EVIL: a psychopath, completely incapable of empathy, with no sense of guilt for her actions, focused solely on herself. What makes Dal Moon love her, when he knows - both because she tells him and because he is (usually) smart - how deeply and incurably flawed she is, and what evil, immoral acts she has committed? At least when he realizes she's killed the king's physician's assistant who planted the poison, he seems to finally recognize that his obsession with this horrible woman has led to all the difficulty in Yi Geum’s ascension to the throne and the early days of his reign, including causing him to lose his most trusted supporters, like Moon-so, and that it’s HIS DAMNED FAULT for "saving" her. I'm starting to worry that Dal Moon will suffer a bad ending for his serious errors in judgment, and despite my anger with him, I'd like for him to be alive at the end of the drama.

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@vespertyne,
Like you, I thought Go Ara looks like she's keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of physical pain, which could be interpreted as being deeply concerned over the upheavals at court. My hat is off to her, but at the same time, I hope she is taking good care of herself.

I can't help but wonder myself how different her character arc would have been had she not been injured. Or maybe Yeo-ji really was going to become a court lady anyway, and because of that, she was the only member of Seja's merry band who was in a position to stick around when the others resigned. She's only a lowly servant who doesn't count any more than she did as a damo. How could she possibly be of any help to him anyway?
/sarcasm off

I'm really hoping to get a good flashback that gives some insight into Dal-moon's backstory. (To be honest, we don't know squat about Moon-soo's past, either -- aside from his being a very persistent, if academically underwhelming, taker of the civil service exam.) I'd like to know why Dal-moon has such low self-esteem, and why he hasn't been able to get over her after she dumped him. I've felt from very early on that Yoon-young is Dal-moon's Achilles heel, and that she'll be the death of him. Love isn't just blind, it's sometimes willfully ignorant. Or maybe the heart just wants what it wants -- and therein lies the road to ruin. In his defense, I don't think he had truly realized the extent of her depravity until he found the chief nurse/pharmacy assistant dead.

Will we maybe find out that Yoon-young has been instigating Yi Tan to kill her enemies, or anyone who makes her feel insecure or threatened? I'm beginning to wonder if she's paranoid schizophrenic or something -- although that might well describe Yi Tan himself. -- Whatever happened to his death ledger?!

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Hello @Vespertyne29. It's not hitting the 10's, though other ratings reports say it's consistently topping its Monday-Tuesday timeslot. So I guess it really depends on how we look at it. ^_^

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BTW, can anyone who speaks Korean tell me exactly how to pronounce "Saheonbu?" Regardless of how carefully I listen, I just can't seem to hear it when I'm watching the show.

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Thank you very much for recapping this drama. I agree with the other commenters here in wondering why the ratings aren't as high as it should be. It's such an interesting story to tell and the actors are killing it with their acting. I especially love the interaction between Yeongjo and Minister Min. Jung Il Woo and Lee Kyoung Young have wonderful chemistry and you can feel the tension between them as adversaries. Yet they're also able to convey a mentor-mentee vibe in spite of everything.

To me, the scene between them in the throne room when Yeongjo confronted Minister Min about the resignation of his trusted allies and friends was my favorite in this episode. In spite of himself, Minister Min found himself amazed at the loyalty that Yeoning has inspired not only in his friends but in politicians as experienced as Min is, who used to doubt Yeongjo's worthiness to be king. So much so that they willingly gave up their positions of power and influence so they won't be a burden to their king. It was such an irony that Minister Min, of all people, would be the one to impart an important lesson to Yeongjo on what it means to be king and how lonely he will become in the end. Yet it warmed my heart that the sacrifice made by his political adversaries for Yeongjo's sake made Min give his support willingly to the king.

There must be something about the history of Yeongjo and his son Sado that we will never know because I cannot reconcile the king described in history as humble, moral and ethical, who worried so much about the welfare of his people and blamed himself when they experienced hardships, to a father who would murder his son.

Anyway, I look forward to the next episodes of this drama. I wish it were longer than 24 episodes (48 if you count each episode as 30 minutes) so it would have more time to explore character backstories.

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