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My Country: The New Age: Episode 1

With the influx of bright, cheerful fusion sageuks this year, JTBC and Netflix’s sageuk My Country: The New Age brings some welcome gravitas to my drama-watching line-up. I’m very excited to see two of my favorite dramatic actors face off in this friends-to-enemies tale, set to the historical backdrop of the time when Goryeo was overthrown and became Joseon. The real attraction will be the friendship between two young men from very different social strata, and how they can maintain their loyalty to one another as their world literally falls apart.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

Ministers discussed amongst themselves and told the former Grand King, “The people are often in a state of unrest at the beginning if any revolution, so let subjects who have made notable contributions and royal relatives keep their private armies to prevent unfortunate incidents.” And the former Grand King said, “You are absolutely right.”

Day of the First Strife of the Princes, August 1398

A small army gathers, and the leaders discuss whether to go to the palace to kill the king, or to travel to Chwiwoldang and kill the crown prince. YI BANG-WON (Jang Hyuk), fifth son of the king, says that they need Hwi to win this fight, but the others disagree.

A man covered in blood thunders up on horseback, then approaches Bang-won to apologize for being late. He’s SEO HWI (Yang Se-jong), and Bang-won puts him in charge of the army and orders him to go to Chwiwoldang, specifically mentioning that Nam Jeon will be there. He gives Hwi a watchword: sanseong.

Hwi leads the army to Chwiwoldang and orders the attack. NAM JEON (Ahn Nae-sang) waits patiently as Hwi’s forces swarm inside, setting everything on fire and killing anyone they find. Soon, Hwi finds himself staring at a familiar face — NAM SUN-HO, (Woo-Do-hwan), Nam Jeon’s son. Sun-ho says that this is the end of Hwi’s path, but Hwi declares that, rather than let Sun-ho be the end of his path, he’ll kill Sun-ho’s father and take his own life.

Looking down at his sword, which has a ribbon embroidered with a bird tied to the hilt, Sun-ho says hoarsely, “Your blood on top of all the sins I already have to pay for? My father must not die by your sword.” Hwi replies, “I think we are finished.”

The two men stand still as their armies clash. But soon they join the fighting and eventually find themselves face-to-face. They only hesitate for a moment, then Hwi leaps and their swords clash.

Ten years ago, 1388, the year of Wihwado Retreat.

Hwi and Sun-ho’s practice swords clash as they spar on the edge of a cliff. Hwi annoys Sun-ho with his goofy puns and chides Sun-ho for being too serious. They switch to bows and padded arrows as they chase each other through the forest, and HAHA, Sun-ho nails Hwi right in the forehead when he gets too cocky. Twice.

They continue trading arrows and friendly insults, until Hwi shows his skill by leaping into the air and shooting off three arrows at once, hitting Sun-ho with all three. Damn. He orders Sun-ho to surrender, but Sun-ho tackles him instead.

They go for a swim later, and Hwi teases Sun-ho for being mean to a lowborn. Sun-ho sighs that he’s only considered quarter-noble, as his mother was both a concubine and a slave. Hwi counters good-naturedly that he’s still jealous of Sun-ho’s rich father.

On their way back into the city, they wait in line as each person is checked against a wanted poster. They get a glimpse of the face on the poster and joke that the wanted man is quite pretty.

Elsewhere, a woman we’ll get to know as HAN HEE-JAE (Seolhyun) leads a man through a field. Hee-jae muses, “Happiness and pain coexist in life. As much as good things happen, bad things also happen, so be strong and…” She turns and fusses at the man for carrying a sickle she told him to toss away, then does so herself. HA, she actually hits someone, and when he pops up shirtless, the woman recognizes him.

Oops, he’s been canoodling with Hee-jae’s follower’s wife. The husband flies into a rage, but Hee-jae demands payment for her services first, and that payment comes in the form of a secret. The husband warns Hee-jae that they’re both dead if the secret is leaked, then chases a second man away from his wife. Yikes.

Back in the city, Hee-jae contemplates the wanted poster that’s clearly a picture of her, then goes about posting signs demanding that the king stop his plan to conquer Liaodong, a peninsula just west of modern-day South Korea (the posters are the reason she’s wanted).

Platoon leaders are being tested into the military, and Hwi plans to take the test for the rice allotment while Sun-ho sighs that his father expects him to ace the test. Behind them, Hee-jae tsks that the country is falling apart, and they recognize “him” from the wanted posters.

The royal guard come near, so Hee-jae pretends to be talking intently to the boys, but one of the guards grabs her. She kicks the guard right in the jewels (and hee, Sun-ho and Hwi both cover theirs protectively) and runs off calling to Sun-ho and Hwi, “I’ll see you there!”

The guard assumes that Sun-ho and Hwi are the ones who put up the posters, and they suddenly find themselves running for their lives — literally, as there’s a bounty out for the head of whoever is stirring up discontent. They run into Hee-jae again in the market, and Sun-ho goes one way while Hwi and Hee-jae go the opposite way.

Once they’re clear, Hwi orders Hee-jae to explain why she made the guards think they were guilty. She just head-butts him in the nose and takes off again. Hwi corners her in a building where cloth is being dyed, but they hear the guards so Hwi shoves Hee-jae into a tiny storeroom.

Sun-ho is also in trouble — he ends up in a dead-end alley with a pair of guards right behind. He knows they won’t believe him if he says he didn’t put up the posters, and he’ll be tortured if he’s captured, but the guards tell him they’re just going to take his head.

He says he’s innocent, but they don’t care so long as they catch someone. Sun-ho realizes they’ll kill someone else if he escapes, and the guards don’t bother to deny it. Sun-ho tosses aside his weapons and takes the guards on bare-handed, breaking both their arms in mere seconds.

Meanwhile, Hwi and Hee-jae huddle inches apart in the storeroom as guards search the building. Just as a guard is about to open the door, a worker enters the room and distracts him. He leaves when he hears the horn calling him back.

As Hee-jae walks away, Hwi calls out that posters won’t prevent the war, or stop a tyrant king from being a tyrant. She argues that things will only change if they speak out and fight. Hwi counters that nothing will change, but Hee-jae says that that mindset is why lowborns get trodden on by nobles.

She turns to leave, but Hwi sees a shadow and calls out that the guards are still there. Hee-jae walks right into a guard and narrowly avoids his sword. A padded arrow flies past her head and whacks the guard in the face, then another, and Hwi and the guard fight while Hee-jae flings the drying dyed cloth at the guard to confuse him.

A third arrow to the face takes out that guard, but another attacks, and this time Hwi lashes out with his bow and feet. He knocks this one out with an arrow as well, but he ends up with a slash in his upper arm. Hee-jae bandages it with her headband, deliberately pulling it tight when Hwi says it’s fine just to hear him yelp and make a point.

She asks why he helped her when he could have gotten a huge reward for turning her in. Hwi says that putting up posters shouldn’t carry a death penalty, especially when most people can’t even read (Hee-jae tightens his bandage again, ha). Hwi is ready to go their separate ways, but Hee-jae says they need to hide and leads him to Ihwaru gisaeng house, which makes him adorably uncomfortable.

A guard captain, CHIEF PARK (Ji Seung-hyun) sees the blood drops that Hwi tried to hide and orders his men to knock down the door to the gibang. Hee-jae has Hwi dressed as a nobleman, and he watches, mesmerized, as the “man” he thought was helping him is transformed into a beautiful gisaeng.

They’re sitting calmly when Chief Park enters the room and says he’s looking for the ones who put up the posters, then slams his sword point-down into the table. He compares Hee-jae’s face to the wanted poster and orders her to put on a straw hat. Hwi surreptitiously grips a metal chopstick in case he needs a weapon, but a haughty voice chastises Chief Park for making a scene.

It’s Sun-ho, who introduces himself as the nephew of the Second Royal Secretary and son of the head of the Royal Stables. Chief Park catches a glimpse of Hwi and seems to find him familiar, but he apologizes to Sun-ho and leaves. Hwi and Sun-ho exchange relieved smiles, but Sun-ho is startled to see Hee-jae, who invites him to join them.

She says she’s impressed, and he says sheepishly that he learned from his father how to intimidate, threaten, and tattle on those below him in rank. (Hwi: “What about ruining our fun?” Sun-ho: “I was born with that.” Hee.)

Hee-jae says she owes Sun-ho and Hwi, so she offers to teach them their drinking limit. Hwi says shyly that it’s not proper for men and women to drink together, but Hee-jae points out the unfairness of society’s expectations of men and women until they’re bickering again. Sun-ho breaks them up by introducing himself to Hee-jae, and he nudges Hwi to do the same.

After a few drinks, the guys dance while Hee-jae plays music. Outside, owner LADY SEO (Jang Young-nam) is angry that a low-ranked guard came into her gibang carrying a weapon, none of which is allowed. The gisaeng who let Chief Park in apologizes, and she tells Lady Seo that Lord Nam’s son is inside now, which is surprising as he supposedly drowned years ago.

When the party calms down, Sun-ho admits to Hwi and Hee-jae that he’s joining the military because he’s tired of being labeled a concubine’s son and wants to become his own man. He says that Hwi can do the same, and that it’s easiest when the country is in turmoil. He predicts that Goryeo will fall apart, and he plans to be at General Yi Seong-gye’s side and destroy the rotten kingdom.

Hwi doesn’t understand Sun-ho and Hee-jae’s obsession with changing the country — as long as he has food, wherever that food comes from is his “country.” Hee-jae mutters that she regrets drinking with them, sarcastically wishes them luck, and storms out. She runs into Lady Seo, who reminds her of the horrific ways some of her fellow gisaengs have died.

She tells Hee-jae that if she continues putting up posters, she has to leave the gibang, and orders Hee-jae to cut ties with her guests. Hee-jae snaps that she’ll decide what to do with Hwi and Sun-ho, and that her room may be tiny but it was her mother’s, so it’s hers now. Lady Seo has Hee-jae moved out of the room to make her point, sneering that Hee-jae will be dead soon, anyway.

In the morning, Hwi sneaks home and teases his younger sister, YEON (Jo Yi-hyun), for being such a bookworm, and she says he’s the one who should be studying. He wins her forgiveness with a pretty pair of new slippers (bought with money he won off Sun-ho, betting on their mock fights), then loses it again when the shoes are much too big, ha.

He grows serious to see that there’s hardly any rice and they’re running low on Yeon’s medicine. But he’s cheerful again when he brings her medicine and a honey cookie to chase the bitterness.

Chief Park reports to his superior that he didn’t catch the people putting up the subversive posters. He’s told to bring in three “guilty” people by tomorrow or it will cost him three hundred silver ingots. The taunting leaves him fuming, but when his subordinate suggests siding with General Choi and bringing in Lord Nam or Yi Seong-gye for conspiracy, he just tells his man to bring him three people who can’t read or write.

Yeon asks Hwi to take her to the marketplace, and when he offers to steal a hair ornament she likes, she tells him to buy it for her after he passes the military exam. Hwi figures out why she wanted to come here when she maneuvers them close to the testing place and urges him to register.

Sun-ho wanders over and Yeon freaks out — uh-oh, someone has a crush. The guys are fully aware of her crush on Sun-ho, and Hwi acts like he’s barfing in his mouth when Yeon acts all proper with Sun-ho, but Sun-ho is very sweet about it.

When Sun-ho registers for the test, the registrar snickers that he’s a bastard son. Hwi’s registration says that his father was boiled alive, so the registrar denies him entry. Hwi argues that his father was punished, not him, but the registrar sneers, “Dogs give birth to dogs.”

Yeon screams at the top of her lungs at the registrar to take it back. The registrar just laughs, and Yeon suddenly starts to shake and gasps to Hwi, “It’s back.” Her eyes roll back and she falls into a seizure, and Hwi is ready with a stick for her to bite on while Sun-ho holds her legs still.

As he holds his sister, Hwi remembers the day his father, SEO GEOM (cameo by Yoo Oh-sung) was sentenced to death for stealing army rations. He was given the choice to either step into into a hot cauldron with no water, and live as a ghost, or die honorably by taking his own life. If he chose the cauldron, he would be listed as a dead spirit on his family record and his children would be given illegitimate status, but if he takes his own life, his children wouldn’t be socially branded.

Geom had reached for the knife and the honorable death, but he’d hesitated when Hwi screamed. Then he’d lifted the knife, and as his tiny daughter watched, he’d taken his own life. That was when Yeon had her first seizure.

Back in the present, Yeon’s seizure finally ends. Sun-ho informs the haughty registrar that they got to keep their status because of their father’s honorable suicide, but the registrar just asks if his mother is a maid or a gisaeng. Sun-ho almost goes after the jerk, but Hwi urges him not to lose his own chance.

As Hwi piggybacks Yeon home, she asks him if she looked ugly, but he says sweetly that she has the prettiest seizures. Awww. Yeon asks him not to trade the slippers so that she has a reason to live longer and grow into them, and Hwi fights back tears as he agrees.

He tucks Yeon into bed and remembers his father again, who used to teach him swordsmanship with a sense of affectionate fun. Yeon would join in, and it’s obvious that they were a small but very loving family. But now, bitter and angry, Hwi takes his bow and snaps it in half.

Hee-jae visits a pharmacist, which is where she gets a lot of the rumors she deals in. While she’s there, she eavesdrops on Hwi as he promises to pay the pharmacist for Yeon’s medicine after he passes the military exam. The pharmacist refuses, so Hee-jae steps out and offers herself as collateral.

The pharmacist happily agrees, but Hwi hesitates, then takes the medicine anyway. As Hee-jae walks with him, he confesses that he’s not taking the exam and can’t pay, but that he was desperate. She looks surprised, then says she didn’t think he’d pass anyway, and that her plan is to collect interest from him.

Hwi asks how she expects to do that when she doesn’t know anything but his name. She stammers (ha, busted) so he tells her where he lives and that he works at a smithy, promising to pay her back.

Sun-ho’s father makes him stay up late practicing his archery until his hands bleed and his knees buckle, determined that any son of his will pass the military exam with top scores. He says it’s not just for Sun-ho’s sake but also his hyung’s — in fact, he expects Sun-ho to surpass his brother’s achievements.

He tells Sun-ho to rest, but Sun-ho picks up another arrow, aims… and hits a bulls’ eye. He says darkly, “I don’t shoot my arrows for your sake, or for my brother’s. It is only for me. Just for me.” To punctuate his point, he makes a second bulls’ eye.

His father tells him that a hunt will take place at the royal hunting ground, and that Right Chancellor Yi Seong-gye will be participating. He plans to take Sun-ho to impress the man he describes as “the new world,” and he warns him not to forget that he got this chance at his brother’s expense.

Sun-ho invites Hwi to go on the hunt as a “chaser” to flush out game, and Hwi grumbles that he’s not a servant. Sun-ho says that Yi Seong-gye will be there and might give Hwi a position in his private army, since he’s known to hire based on merit and not social status. Hwi finally agrees, but only if Sun-ho pays him well.

On the morning of the hunt, YI SEONG-GYE (Kim Young-chul) cuts an imposing figure, dressed all in black on his snow-white horse, but when Lord Nam greets him formally, he says with a smile not to worry about status today. He’s friendly to Sun-ho and asks to see his bow, then he shocks everyone by offering to let Sun-ho use his bow instead.

Sun-ho makes a minor mistake and has to be told to kneel as he accepts the bow, and it makes him nervous when the hunt begins. He misses a shot then drops an arrow, so Hwi runs over to pick it up and offer a little advice. Yi Seong-gye overhears him, and when Sun-ho hits the next grouse, his “Not bad” is aimed at Hwi, not Sun-ho.

Yi Seong-gye asks if Hwi shoots, and gives him arrows and an iron bow. Yi Seong-gye fires an arrow into a tree to use as a target and Hwi buries his arrow only an inch from Yi Seong-gye’s. His second arrow is farther, but it hits directly in the center of a knot in the tree.

Yi Seong-gye asks if Hwi applied to take the military exam, and Hwi explains that he’s from a low-class family. Yi Seong-gye says, “Who cares?” and snaps an arrow in half. He gives Hwi the point and tells him to show it at the registry, and he’ll be allowed to apply.

Hwi stammers that he’s not worthy, but Yi Seong-gye tells him, “If you pass the exam, it may open up opportunities for those even less fortunate. What is only land becomes a path if you walk on it. Pave the way.”

The hunt resumes, and Sun-ho’s father asks how he expected to stand out when he brought someone better than him with a bow and arrow. Sun-ho says that his father only sees Hwi, but not his own son. He vows not to lose to anyone on the day of the exam: “So do not mock me.”

After the hunt, Yi Seong-gye tells Lord Nam that a father wants his son to surpass him, then feels jealous when he does. He says he felt the same way when Bang-won passed the exam, and that Sun-ho needs to train more, but that he’ll make him a lieutenant if he passes the exam.

He suddenly pulls up his horse and says that he can’t ignore the king’s orders any longer, so he and his army, including Lord Nam, will depart in April. Lord Nam says it will be winter when they reach Liaodong, but Yi Seong-gye tells him, “My war will start and end at Gaegyeong.” (Gaegyeong was the capital city of Goryeo.)

When they’re finally alone, Hwi apologizes to Sun-ho for accidentally stealing his thunder. Sun-ho just tells Hwi that his future begins with that arrowhead, and to apply for the exam.

Hwi goes home to find Lord Nam at his house. He offers Hwi a small fortune for the arrowhead, and to know his place and stay away from Sun-ho. Hwi is offended, but Lord Nam says he’s not asking — he’s issuing an order.

It turns out that Hee-jae isn’t the only spy at Ihwaru… Lady Seo collects information from all of her gisaengs. She gives Hee-jae a note to deliver to Lord Nam, which Hee-jae finds strange as it’s not information she collected, but Lady Seo just tells her to obey.

Hee-jae’s best information isn’t written down — she’s deduced that General Choi Young won’t be leading the army to Liaodong by the fact that his horse, which is always prepared months before he leaves for a conquest, hasn’t been prepared this year. She confirms that this counts as “the 93rd” and reminds Lady Seo that at one hundred, she must keep her promise. Lady Seo asks what Hee-jae plans to do with the secret bottle after ten years, and Hee-jae says, “I will kill the person whose name is in that bottle.” Hmmm, interesting.

Hee-jae takes the letter from Lady Seo to Lord Nam, who gives her a package to take back with her. Hee-jae says that Lady Seo only wants Lord Nam’s kindness and refuses the package, but he insists, so she accepts the package but not the guard escort he offers.

She runs into Sun-ho on her way out, and when he sees the package in her hands, he warns her not to get involved in Lord Nam’s business. She says she’s not, but asks what she should do if she does get involved. Sun-ho tells her to either be Lord Nam’s enemy or his friend, but that if she doesn’t want to do either, “You’ll be the first to die.”

Lightening the mood, Sun-ho leads Hee-jae to see “something fun” at the testing registrar. He explains that the registrar called Hwi’s father a dog… and that Hwi is the son of Seo Geom, the greatest swordsman in Goryeo.

Just then, they spot Hwi striding purposefully through the market. Sun-ho joins him, telling Hee-jae, “He messed with my friend.” Hwi tells Sun-ho to stay out of this, but Sun-ho quips that he has to help Hwi register so he can beat him in the exam. They both break into a run and kick down the doors just as they’re being closed, and when the registrar sees who it is, he asks Hwi if his father climbed out of the cauldron.

Both Hwi and Sun-ho lunge, and are held back by guards. They fight their way free, then through more guards, coming to each other’s rescue multiple times until finally, Hwi limps to the registrar’s table.

He growls, “My father is not a dog. He was the greatest swordsman in Goryeo, Seo Geom. So tell me to get lost again if you dare, you son of a bitch!” And with that, he buries the point of Yi Seong-gye’s arrow in the desk.

 
COMMENTS

Yes, bring on the fighting and the intrigue and the bromance, I’m ready for it all! I love Hwi and Sun-ho’s friendship so much already, and how they stay loyal to each other in situations that would break up less devoted friends. I know that won’t last, at least their friendship appears to break down based on the flash-forward at the top of the episode, but I hope we get to see a lot more of the two friends helping and supporting and fighting for each other first. Still, I anticipate a lot of tears during the course of their story.

I’m going into My Country with well-established actor-crushes on both Yang Se-jong and Woo Do-hwan — I think they’re both incredibly talented and are building solid reputations for themselves as serious actors. I love them already as Hwi and Sun-ho, and the way they’re both bristling under the constraints of their births in different ways. Right now they’re young and idealistic and they see themselves as equals despite their wildly different situations, and I dread seeing them lose that. What most interests me is how Hwi starts out as the easygoing peacemaker and Sun-ho as the hothead with a chip on his shoulder, but in the flash-forward, Sun-ho offered Hwi a way out but Hwi insisted on fighting. Clearly some pretty life-changing things happen to the friends in the ten-year gap, and I have a feeling they’ll all be heartbreaking.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Seolhyun in anything, and she didn’t have much screen time in this premiere episode. But I thought she did a decent job in Orange Marmalade and she’s starred in several movies since then, and I can see her improvement. I like her character, Hee-jae, especially the way she’s so street-smart while Hwi comes across as pretty innocent. Yet he’s the one who’s jaded, who only cares about providing the next meal for himself and his sister, so I’m looking forward to seeing Hee-jae teach him how to expect more from the unfair society he was born into. I also find Hee-jae’s separate story intriguing — she’s apparently out for revenge, and is trading one hundred pieces of intelligence for the name of someone who… what? Killed her mother, maybe?

Technically, there’s not much in this story so far that I didn’t expect to see, though I do find this time in history interesting. But what I feel makes it worth watching is how the story centers, not on the actual historical figures themselves, but on the people that the historical events will impact. We have three very different characters — one who is noble-born but limited by his mother’s low status, one who comes from a formerly proud family that suffered a tragedy that robbed them of what dignity they had, and one who appears low-born but full of fire and rebellion. I’m here to watch how they stand up against the injustice of a world and do their best to change it, and how their relationships with each other evolve and change with the world around them. I also think that the pacing and writing are wonderful — we got a lot of information with gorgeous use of the “show, don’t tell,” rule… I never felt like the show was taking a break to explain what was happening, yet on the opposite end, nothing flew over my head, either. Based on the excellent acting, the smooth execution, and the compelling friendship between these two young men, I think that My Country has the potential to be an epic story.

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This drama is one of my current favorites along with Tale of nokdu. I'm quite impressed with these 3 young leads' acting in this drama. Yang Se Jong is the best one out of three. I've never seen him in anything, but this time I become a fan of him. The plot is also good. Can't wait for episode 3.

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Yang Se Jong was excellent in Duel and 30 but 17. Duel is an action/thriller, and 30 but 17 is a sweet romance.

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@Jennifer,
You might want to check out Yang Se-jong in SAIMDANG, LIGHT'S DIARY. He did well in the Joseon time line as a young royal (teen version of Song Seung-heon) in his first sageuk. Ignore the modern time line -- it was dreadful, not that there was anything wrong with his performance in it.

He was fantastic in DUEL, in which he portrayed two clones, their donor, and one clone impersonating the other. You could distinguish the impersonator if you paid careful attention. It was a terrific performance.

He also did a great job in TEMPERATURE OF LOVE.

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PS: Just to put in a plug for Woo Do-hwan, he caught my eye as the orphanage buddy of protagonist Kim Young-kwang in SWEET STRANGER AND ME, and made the most of a minor role as a loanshark's enforcer. He had Beanies rooting for his redemption. He more than held his own opposite the veterans in MAD DOG, and turned in a charismatic and touching performance.

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Loved the first episode sooo much,didn't skip at all!!!I'm already sad seeing the shattered relationship between Seo Hwi and Nam Seon Ho as seeing them together as they are the perfect duo backing each other only to realize that they will be on the opposite sides with no return..I hope they will dwelve more into the past of Hwi's father and how he ended soooo tragically...Curious as well about Hee Jae's past and who and why killed her mother as i think she is related to Hwi's father actions from back then...Having seen Six Flying Dragons i can't contain not to look for the characters that are in the same period even if i know they are real and fiction mixed up jajjaj...On another note,damn, Woo Do Hwan looks sooo handsome in sageuk it is quite distracting me from keeping all my focus on the story...Yang Se Jong is amazing as always and i'm already feeling for him and quite eager to see where this hellish ride will get him as well to how he will become an important member of Bang Won side,as seen he values Hwi very much even when his men consider him still a nobody ...Just please let him live and don't kill all 3 of them,even if i suspect 2 already die by the end seeing the first minutes of the premiere...Another thing i loved was the OST and BGM,i'm already in love with it and fits sooo great with the scenes that i can't wait to be released...

A thing i realised is that unlike Six Flying Dragons here Yi Song Gye planned from a while ago to rebel against King U unlike in the later where the epic scene when he refused to Cross the river,here i see him portrayed as a more ambitious man so i'm curious how will they portray him and Bang Won...

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I'm impressed that the show is not relying so much on the actual history but it still managed to make it feel old school and epic.
I love how open and straight forward the characters are. They say what they are thinking even if it's treason. From the peasants cursing their tyrannic king to the highest general in the court. It makes me want to root for each of them because their objective is clear and they are doing something about it.

I find the interpretation of Yi Seong-gye's character to be honest. I mean, he is the first king of Joseon. No one is going to write that in the history book but it makes sense for a general with his reputation to planned ahead of time not to go through with the Liaodong expedition.

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The 1st ep came out swinging, didn't it? Normally they are real snoozefest with no momentum going for it but I really enjoyed it.

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So far, So good! I do like the stylistic mash-up, and theres plenty of eye candy for all

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Kim Do hwan's body.... I felt things.

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He is distracting in a good way lol.

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*Woo.

Damn spellcheck.

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This is heaven for the sageuk geek!

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Haha you can say that again <3.

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I ❤ the friendship between the boys right off the bat and am already bracing myself for the angst to come. I like all the characters and the scenes are so pretty.

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The way it starts to crumble makes sense to me. Loyalty between friends will not be above that of family or one's ambition. Save your friend and you die.

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I think I understand that as an audience. But if I were Hwi, not so sure. We can't discuss it here, but I am looking forward to episode 2!

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It was a beautiful first episode.

I'm already sad at the idea of their future separation :( They look so good as friends.

I like all the actors! The scenery! The music!

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I haven't read the recap yet because I'm on the go but just wanted to say thank you @lollypip for recapping this drama. I know you have you plate full but giving MY COUNTRY a place of it's own for us to share our thoughts and to fan-girl over our faves is much appreciated.
You deserve a food truck send to your house :).

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OMG if a food or coffee truck showed up at my house I would *die of happiness*.

I'm excited for My Country too. It makes me happy to see positive comments, this is going to be a fun journey for all of us!

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So I take it you have watched episode 2 because that is A LOT to talk about.

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Only some of it - I'm working on the recap right now! I've seen some clips though and OMG.

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Thank you for recapping My Country and Extraordinary You. They both are great. You chose very well :)

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You deserve 2. One with food and the other with coffee and snack :).

I've been excited ever since they announced it and it has been worth the wait.
I'm in for this fun and exciting Journey. Love it when a show meets the expectation and more.

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Thank you @lollypip for recapping this show! We’ll send you the long lost twin of Truck of Doom as a token of our appreciation: Food Truck, wrapped in a ribbon and bearing snacks. Unlike its doppelgänger, Food Truck is completely harmless. What would you like while working on those recaps? Instant coffee? Melonas?

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YAY, Food Truck! Honestly, I'll eat just about anything but fish. And coffee is ALWAYS welcome - I must have my coffee!

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One IV drip of Cafe Altura light roast for @lollypip, stat! With all the caffeine, and none of the pesticides. ;-)

Er, do you take cream and sugar? ;-)

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Yes please! I love a little coffee with my cream and sugar.

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I can only hope the high standards set by episode 1 hold up to the end.

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The opening scene is part of the finale and it seems like it's going to be an epic ending.
If anyone can keep the standard high it would be this PD.

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Oh that’s the finale? Then we will not get to see Yi Bang-Won become king in this drama.

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It’s what we expect is the beginning of the penultimate scene between the two friends. What else goes with and around that is TBD.

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Maybe it’s not the finale?

I can recall dramas like REBEL THIEF WHO STOLE THE PEOPLE and KING’S DAUGHTER SOO BAEK HYANG where we come back to the opening scene later (but not at the very end) and we see it with completely new eyes.

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@prettysup and @wishfultoki
You know, you both are probably right.

For me, after the first 2 episodes it is clear that the story is about them and not Yi Bang-won. I think that the end of their friendship might be the end of our story. That's why I thought it was part of the finale.

The current timeline is 1388 and they haven't left for Wihwa island yet which happened in April of the same year and we still have 10 yrs to cover in 16 episodes.

Do you think it's possible for the two of them to survive until the 2nd strife of the princes? It took 2 more years before Yi Bang-won ascend the throne. He put his puppet king brother on the throne after he ousted his father.

If this was a scene from the middle of the drama and not the finale then I'd be happy either way. More Jang Hyuk is good for my health lol.

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I'm still curious how will they manage that 10 years span in the remaining episodes still keeping it tight that is if they don't do the famous kdrama troupe after x years...

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This was such a strong first episode. I didn't want to like this because I already have so many shows on my plate but I loved the actors, their characters, the story and the strong delivery. Like everything was great. I could see the strong bond the three could have but I also saw the cracks in their relationship. It breaks my heart in the most perfect way!

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Whoa! I was first impressed at how slick the production is, then the cinematography, then the actors and acting, then the story. I would be compelled to watch this with only one of these being good, but everything is excelling so far! The pacing is so good here as well and even better next episode. I will be camped out on the recap page for this one and enjoying everyone’s insights! One thing at the end. Netflix has the line that Hwi exclaims as “...so don’t fxxk with me again!’ But I like @lollypip’s translation better making the comparison that his father is not a dog, but the registrar is a son of a bitch. Much more poetic.

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Netflix did translate the "son of a bitch" as "bastard" so here wan't that big lost even thou lollypop's literal accuracy is the best but if u understand a bit korean u realie that even Netflix translators don't always translate it to the full meaning(happened way too much in Arthdal for ex)so don't always take at 100% the subtitles as corect(in my view even now Viki has the highest rate of accuracy keeping the original menaing at best)...It is quite annoying somethings understand it and seeing the subtitles saying other stuff that sometimes change the meaning or jokes etc...

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In most sageuks bastard is a degraded term for illegitimate children like Sun-ho.

I was disappointed that Netflix bought the streaming rights to MY COUNTRY and not viki. The fan translators are more knowledgeable from years of practice in translating sageuks.

I'm guessing it was sold for a lot because of the budget and Netflix of course have more money.

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If I had to criticise anything about this exciting premiere, it’s that the Netflix subtitles aren’t as slick as the rest of the drama. I feel I’m missing information and sometimes I have to pause and reread because sentences are clunky. I’m grateful for recaps that clarify the things I missed.

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Thanks for the heads up about the subtitles, though I've never trusted Netflix to do justice to subtitles to begin with. I wasn't planning on watching but after doing some research on Yang Se jong and hearing his voice (wow), reading everyone's comments, I must try.

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Please watch and decide for yourself. It’s too early to say but I think it’s going to be good.

“Never trust Netflix or its subtitles” is my new motto.

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Heh heh heh. Welcome aboard, @linda-palapala. Glad you'll be joining us. ;-)

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i love this drama~!!!!!!!

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The first episode exceeded all my expectations. So far I am loving everything about it. From the camera work and cinematography. I love how the camera does aerial shots of scenes with gorgeous landscape. As well as close up shots focusing on an action, such as the arrow in the hunting game. The story kept me engaged with interesting twists and details that give it a good pace. No boring scene at all! I also really love the music, from the opening theme which used (I think) flute instruments to the drumbeats that highlight fight scenes. I love them all. If all the succeeding episodes will be as good as this, I would say this drama will be epic.

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Yes, it was 1 hour and 20 minutes long and I didn’t notice it! That’s a good sign. The music drew me in too. Combined with the action scenes I got a distinct CHUNO vibe at times. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jang Hyuk is advising on the martial arts sequences.

Also, I loved the shots of all the pretty horses. The PD is making good use of them for epic and beautiful scenes. We can expect a beautifully shot drama. 😄

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Definitely a good sign when we have an hour and 20 minute episode and I still can’t get enough.

The martial arts scenes are really well executed and filmed beautifully. I tend to zone out during fight scenes but the way the story is weaved into action scenes in this drama makes me want to watch their every move.

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I love well choreographed fight and martial arts scenes! They're like watching a ballet.

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I started this for Jang Hyuk’s sake and was surprised that the story managed to draw me in more that i anticipated, as I do not know any of the 3 leads at all. Good job.

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Jang Hyuk as always charisma in the beginning. I hope we see more of him. The three lead was really good in fast pace first episode. However, my pet peeve is the OST. It sound like modern music to me. Also, some part seem like Irish music or something. As always, the senior older cast is really good. A great start hopefully good things to come.

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I thought I heard bagpipes, but it didn’t bother me because I’ve heard something similar in dramas before (CHUNO). There was one song that sounded too modern for me. I do prefer traditional music in sageuks but I also like rock instrumentals on occasions, like in SIX FLYING DRAGONS.

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We don't really know what Korean music was like in 1388. I think that the purpose of the soundtrack is to enhance the story, the visuals, and the acting. I like it when the OST of sageuks mix traditional and modern music. It worked quite well in Chuno, Six Flying Dragons, and Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People.

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CHUNO, SFD, REBEL and ARANG for me. I still listen to all the OST. Who would have thought that a rapper like MC Sniper would provide OST to two sageuks.
PD Kwak Jung-hwan needs to direct more sageuks.

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Yes he does! Both Chuno and Conspiracy in the Court are masterpieces.
To which other sageuk does MC Sniper contribute with the OST?

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ARANG - "Dance Mask" during a fight scene with Lee Junki.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--zYeMm8Gcc

Yes Kwak's best dramas were both sageuks. He set a trend with CHUNO.

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@snowflower MC Sniper also did with the rap part in this OST from FAITH: “Bad Guy” https://youtu.be/w1-CV1uRNNo 😎

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I don't even like rap, but I love MC Sniper's OSTs. Go figure. It seriously blew my mind. LOL!

And THE KING AND THE CLOWN and A FROZEN FLOWER.

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I would agree that the modern piece was jarring as well. Everything else seemed to fit for me. You know what it reminded me of? The first notes made me think of Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Totally took me out of the scene. If you watch the music video, you’ll know why. But then the music cue was perfect when the two boys kicked in the doors to the registrar at the end!

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Yang se Jong strongly radiates here that character he played in Duel, the good clone. Maybe that's why they chose him as the lead. Anyways he acts so well and is being received positively by K-audience as well.

Woo do hwan might not know how disarming his gazes on seolhyun can be, or maybe he does.. I get butturflies especially at the beginning. Sadly, he is the second lead here..

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They teased us so bad with those few seconds of Jang Hyuk! #gimmemore

Yang Se Jong and Woo Do Hwan are perfectly cast. Their friendship quickly grew on me, but now I'm dreading their future breakup (xP).

Everything worked well. The cinematography. The fight scenes. The story. Excited for an epic one. Don't let me down.
*coughs*Arthdal*coughs*

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With only a few minutes into this I said, "Oh my, this is going to be good!" and in fact, it continued to be so.

Very, very good first episode.

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I thought it would be good from the opening credits! Lol.

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To get clicked with a drama right off the bat is an achievement for me, notably when it's the kind of genre that I usually avoid at best.
Don't know what's the spell that made it work for me, whether it's the actors, directing, screenwriting, chemistry, or, well, maybe all?
I adore the main guys individually. Perhaps that's the main factor to adapt to their on-screen characters. Both have the same intensity and they didn't overshadow each other. Seolhyun was decent here, I thought I'd like her less but she's doing a proper job.
Yang Se Jong's character comes as sympathetic without feeling forced, and Woo Do Hwan's character is a bit reserved, but you can feel his sincerity just from his eyes. Seolhyun's character is more of the humble side, but I can feel a burning determination to get what she wants.

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I've been waiting for the recap all week and now that it's here I don't know what to say except that in just 2 episodes I can say that "I love you 3,000" show.

I love family relationships and the Seo siblings are pulling my heartstrings so far. The scene with the shoes got me teary eyed, ok I lied, I cried like a baby because it also reminds me of "WAR OF THE ARROWS" and the Choi siblings. The love that a big brother have for his younger sister was so touching. Only a brother can love like a father. It stayed with me through out the whole movie and even after when it was over and it won't be any different from this drama.

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@lollypip Thank you for the recap 😘😘

WOO DO HWAN IS BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK 🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰 Ahem, sorry. I’m just excited to see him back in something with so much gravitas—which I feel he is best at— because the last the last of what I watched of his (*coughTemptedcough*), it was touted as having gravitas, but oh so much talent was wasted, not only his 😥😥

Back to the Show:
@lollypip , you pointed out that this drama is making itself out to be about the smaller part and people of society in a grander scale of society and isn’t centred around the usual historical figures we are all so used to seeing historical dramas be about, and I just love that 🥰 It gives a perspective, even if just spectated, about what and how it possibly was for those who didn’t make it into the history books but were still a part and contributing piece of this historical time in history simply for the fact that they are people of this nation—a people of this nation who were seeking revival & change (Sun Ho & Hee Jae) or just trying to simply get by because their own dire situations were already spilling over on their plates and they didn’t have the time of day to care for anything else (Hwi).

It will be interesting to watch each of their journeys and to see what will be the things that will prompt the changes in each of their situations and ways of thinking—their philosophies if you will—which brings upon the things that happen at the top of the episode. Of course, my heart will also be hurting at the same time in this journey of watching the bromance fall apart 😭😭😭😭😭 *goes to Costco to buy tissues by the bulk*
As well, for the first time in a long time, I’m actually not interested in the romantic aspect of a Kdrama 😂😅🤔🤔

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Arthdal vs My Country - what are the budgets for the two? Just curious.

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Arthdal - around 45 million
My Country - around 17 million

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Wow. Just. Wow.

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Wasn't it billion? 55 billion for AC as far as I can recall.

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Arthdal 54 billion won = 45.1 million usd
My Country 20 billion won = 16.7 million usd.

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Part 1 of 2

Thank you so much for recapping MY COUNTRY, @lollypip! <3 <3 <3

Episode 1 got off to a ripsnorting start, even if we only saw Jang Hyuk as Yi Bang-won for about a minute. The fact that he waited for his lieutenant to arrive – because he cannot win without him – says a lot about Seo Hwi's progress as a professional soldier. But maybe that's to be expected of the son of Goryeo's greatest swordsman.

The watchword YBW gave Hwi was "sanseong," which looks like "mountain fortress" to me.

According to the conversation between General Yi and Lord Nam, they're supposed to set out for Liaodong from Gaegyeong (modern-day Kaesong) in April. Lord Nam states that it will [still] be winter when they arrive, which means they won't be able to hunt or forage for much food. It makes sense as they will be heading northwestward and inland from the presumably milder coastal areas. From what I've been able to piece together, their destination is Yodong / Liaodong Fortress, established by Goguryeo at what is modern-day Liaoning near Shenyang, PRC. I found a distance calculation for Kaesong to Shenyang of 312 miles.
https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/distances.html?n=3962

Assuming that harsh winter conditions hamper travel, it could take about a month, assuming a rate of 10 miles a day, which is less than half of what the Roman legions clocked with 45-pounds of gear in about 6 daylight summer hours on their famous roads, not including setting up and striking camp. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loaded_march
Not that it really matters. General Yi has already decided that he is not marching to Liaodong. And neither is General Choi Young, according to Hee-jae’s intelligence report.

Is there anything special about the name of the gibang, "Ihwaru"? According to Google Translate, it means "This Flower," but I half-expect it to have a double meaning, like Gil-dong's establishment in REBEL. It bears a striking resemblance to Dal-moon’s intelligence operation in HAECHI, and the one posing as a matchmaking agency in FLOWER CREW.

It looks as if Sun-ho's father or uncle is modeled loosely after a historic figure. It will be interesting to see how that plays out as the story unfolds. He must have done something pretty bad to earn Yi Bang-won's hatred. I have my suspicions.

Although Taejo's fifth son by Queen Sineui, Yi Bang-won, had contributed most to assisting his father's rise to power, he harbored a profound hatred against two of his father's key allies in the court, the prime minister Jeong Do-jeon and Nam Eun.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taejo_of_Joseon#Reign

- Continued -

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Part 2 of 2

It was great to see that cameo by Cliff Of Non-Doom. (Was that you, @yyishere?!) And even better to see Yoo Oh-sung, former Goryeo royal and archvillain Ki Chul in FAITH, portraying pater familias Seo Geom. Here's hoping we get to see how he came to such a bad end. I can only imagine that he was framed.

Do my eyes deceive me, or is Capital Patrol’s deputy commander Park Chi-do’s subordinate played by Han Ji-sang, who portrayed human trafficker Do Ji-gwang in HAECHI?

I was curious as to how much rice Hwi would get for passing the military exam and enlisting as a platoon leader, and was able to find information on Joseon weights and measures. It was also mentioned that gisaeng Hwa-wol ["Flower Moon"] had been sold for 10 mal of rice when she was 12.

1 mal / du / Korean bushel of rice = 4.8 US gallons or 1/10 of a seom [volume]

1 seom / seok / jeom / Korean picul of rice = 48 US gallons – the amount a man can carry on a shoulder pole. That's roughly the size of a large 44-gal. Rubbermaid Roughneck janitor's garbage can, and a bit smaller than a standard 55 US gallon [200 litre] oil barrel.
[10 seom = 480 US gallons of rice as enlistment payment for a soldier who passes the military exam.]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_units_of_measurement#Joseon_Kingdom
Measure the Rice: http://www.liverice.com/life-style/2016/8/11/lygbryenxp23vljuaga8tei8raj4n5

Convert brown koshi (Japanese sticky rice*) to pounds: 1 US gallon = 6.74 pounds
*my best guess at rice similar to what peasants ate from the list of available types
10 seom of brown koshi rice = 3,233.92 lbs. – more than a ton and a half!
https://www.traditionaloven.com/culinary-arts/rice/koshi-rice-brown/convert-us-gallon-gal-of-brown-koshi-rice-to-pound-lb-of-brown-koshi-rice.html

So – a young girl could be bought for 1/10 the enlistment pay of a qualified soldier / platoon leader: 323 pounds of rice. Which is probably why her family sells her in the first place. One less mouth to feed saves those who remain behind from starvation.

Q: How long would 10 seom of rice feed one person? It seems that this amount was meant to feed a family of two adults with several kids for a year.

-30-

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Thank you for this very useful information.

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You're most welcome, @SnowFlower! ;-)

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Knowing this explains why Seo Hwi is so eager to pass the exam. The amount of rice will provide a stable living conditi ok ns for him and his sister. I assume that people who had passed the military exam were treated more like officers rather than ordinary foot soldiers, and were paid accordingly.

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@Snow Flower,
Since there's only the two of them, Hwi and Yeon could even sell some of their rice if they had to -- assuming the two-legged rats didn't come up with a way to take it from them.

Platoon leaders sound like non-commissioned officers, akin to corporals or maybe sergeants. I guess it all depends on how large a body of troops they command.

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Interesting info! Drama is a feast for the eyes and ears. Dramabeans recap comments are like banquet for the brain. My resuscitated brain cells are grateful 🤣 🤣

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You're welcome, @mei123db Mei Geu-Rae. Glad you're enjoying some fun facts. And we're just getting started. ;-)

PS:
Did anyone notice that the main gate of the palace in Gaegyeong bears a striking resemblance to the one in Hanyang? LOL! In FAITH, I couldn't wrap my head around how Choi Young went through Hwata's energy vortex-portal in Kaesong and emerged centuries in the future near Coex Center in Gangnam in modern-day Seoul on his mission to track down a physician to save Princess Nogook. I didn't have a problem with the time jump. It was the switcheroo from Gaegyeong to Seoul that threw me. ;-)

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When the portal vortex appeared in Faith, were the Queen and her staff traveling? They must have been close to the spot where Seoul would be in the future! Faith is the very first kdrama I ever watched, so I still have fond memories of it...

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@Snow Flower October 10, 2019 at 4:00 PM

Princess Nogook had crossed the frontier by horsecart and was met at the border by Choi Young and his men. They were ambushed in heavy rain, and managed to take refuge in a shipping port (or ferry?), which was where the Yuan princess got sliced on the neck, and Choi Young was sent to find a great doctor through Hwata's portal that just happened to be active. Since she had just crossed the border, I thought the royal escort party were up at the Amnok River near the crossing at Dandong by the Liaodong Peninsula. The distance from there to Kaesong is 183 miles. Kaesong, the main capital of Goryeo, is 36 miles from Seoul Namgyeong, which had already existed in the Three Kingdoms era. It was Goryeo's southern capital, IIRC. (Pyongyang was the northern capital.)

The hocus pocus with the locations made me nuts, even though I totally enjoyed the anachronism of Choi Young walking down the street in Gangnam with a lexan police riot shield. LOL! -- It wouldn't surprise me if intention and "earnest longing" for a plastic surgeon was what drew the general to Gangnam. ;-)

FAITH was one of my relatively early sageuks, which was all I watched when I started out. ;-) The OST is simply cracktastic. ;-)

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Interesting stuff right?

I believe Yi Seong-gye wasn't in favor of the Liaodong expedition way before he was asked to lead the conquest in 1388.
IIRC in 1370 from a military strategic perspective he didn't think it was wise to attack Liaodong. Maybe he figured that they'll need more man power not only conquer Liaodong but to maintain it because it's further north. No one knows the Northern border better than Yi Seong-gye.

The travel time seems to be the least problem. April was during spring and they made it to Wihwa Island early May so it didn't take more than a month to go from the Goryeo's capital to the border. They retreated on May 22nd and it didn't sound like Yi Seong-gye needed a lot of time to make a decision.

In my calculation, the monsoon season in Korea is around late June to mid July and winter around December.
Crossing the Yalu river was one of the bigger problem. They had to build a bridge to get everyone and their supplies to the unwelcome coastal shores of Liaodong. That would be half the battle, getting to Liaodong city is another story.

On the other hand we have General Choi Young who was supposed to lead the expedition himself but decided last minute to stay behind and babysit King U because he needed a general for a babysitter 🙄.

Choi Young's reputation was unmatched and I find it hard to believe that he would plan a suicide mission for Goryeo so I don't know. He didn't write the history so we may never know what really went down.

As for Nam Eun, I agree with you that Sun-ho's father Nam Jeon's character is based loosely on him but the writer changed his first name.
In history he was the first to die along with Sambong (Jeong Do-jeon). The opening scene clearly shows Hwi's army heading straight to him.

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Ah, thank you for the date of the Wihwado Retreat, @kiara. That makes it more intelligible. ;-)

I can understand why commoners were loathe to rile Ming if it could be avoided. They would die like flies. I don't blame General Yi for wanting to avoid long supply lines, either. The Goryeo army would surely be bogged down during the spring planting season and possibly well into summer and the early harvest season. None of the conscripted farmers would be motivated to fight as they worried about their fields lying fallow – and their families starving. It has always been a crapshoot as to whether the food from the previous harvest would hold out until the growing season got underway and wild plants and animals could be scrounged until the crops started coming in.

I can see how Choi Young would want to hold on to the territory he had helped wrest from pro-Mongol control. But was he really paying attention to General Yi's reports of the horrible conditions for building a pontoon bridge across the Amnok, and the attrition his forces had already experienced? In SIX FLYING DRAGONS, I recall seeing scenes of the Amnok ["duck green"] River [aka Yalu, its Chinese name] in freshet from the snowmelt and heavy rains that threatened to drown Yi Seong-gye's army as the river was too deep to ford. Those who lived to make it across to Wihwa Island got trapped there as the flood waters rose. They were simply too swift to build a bridge across to the far bank. Had Ming been on the ball, the Goryeo forces would have been sitting ducks.

According to Hee-jae’s fictional intelligence, for the first time in 30 years, Choi Young had not prepared for the spring campaign season by resting his warhorse for several months after standing at stud. So it appears that the General himself was getting on in years and was not inclined to tangle with Ming. Perhaps Ming commenced its sabre-rattling later than the statesman was traditionally wont to gear up to take the field. Or maybe young King U had been signaling the royal need for his trusted commander’s presence for some time?

The Route of Wihwa Island Retreat (May, 1388), by Bodashiri
https://bodashiri.tumblr.com/post/134914162031/wihwa-island-retreat-map

Thanks to this handy-dandy cross-reference by year and episode of QUEEN SEONDEOK, SIX FLYING DRAGONS, and TREE WITH DEEP ROOTS, I can rewatch eps. 19-20 for the Liaodong expedition and Wihwado Retreat:

Bodashiri's Six Flying Dragons Timeline – keyed to episodes
https://bodashiri.tumblr.com/post/133176645446/six-flying-dragons-timeline

It would be cool if we got cameos by the Woodalchi warriors from FAITH (I’m looking at you, Lee Min-ho – with Yoon Kyun-sang channeling Deok-man & Moo-hyul from 6FD!), and some of the Six Flying Dragons as well. Plus Gil Tae-mi and Yi Bang-ji as two more of “the greatest swordsmen in Goryeo.” Make my day and invite Ryu Deok-hwan and Sung Hoon, too. ;-)

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Thank you @pakalanapikake <3.

I have a copy of King Taejo's annals. It's written like a diary so it's kind of easy to look up the dates.

I love all the different unbiased views on the two generals. It's going to be sad to see their friendship ends with one executing the other. That's why I'm drawn to the younger boy's friendship and the future fall out. It's no different from Yi Seong-gye and Choi Young's friendship turn enemies.

They both know that Goryeo is going downhill from years of corruptions. King Gongmin was Goryeo's last hope but then he went crazy and neglect his duties.

SO now it's up to them to try and fix it. Choi Young wants a new reformed Goryeo but Yi Seong-gye wants a new country.

Choi Young held the most power in the court and lives and die for Goryeo so there is no way he would be in favor of a new country even if it's the best solution.
The idea of being a king of a new country must have been very appealing to Yi Seong-gye. Who wouldn't want absolute power?

Different ambitions and point of views but they both makes sense.

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@kiara,
That's nifty that King Taejo had his own annals recorded. Do you know whose idea it was to keep royal records in that manner?

I agree that there's a nice parallel between the implosion of the relationship between generals Choi and Yi and that of Hwi and Seon-ho -- much of it due to the elders' machinations and cutthroat politics.

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@pakalanapikake

I'm not sure who's idea it was. My guess is probably Sambong (I'll have to check). He was the brain behind the establishment of Joseon, he wrote the law, design the palace etc etc.
For the kings, I think it was an annoyance to have someone in their face every time they turn around. Imagine having someone recording how many times you poop and what color it was etc.
Ummn ew...

I doubt Taejo himself came up with the idea. He was worried about what was written about him and asked to read it.
I think it's possible that they could've had some altered since they had to justify over-throwing Goryeo.

I do appreciate our young actors. They are giving it everything they have. I hope they are learning a lot from their seniors. I'm definitely going to cheer them in whatever they'll do after this show.

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MUSIC IN GORYEO:

As an extra added bonus, I’ve posted a couple of pieces of music associated with Goryeo on my fan wall today (10/11/2019), along with several scholarly articles about Goryeo poetry/song lyrics. In some cases the music is modern, but set to ancient words. Enjoy! Here are the permalinks:

http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/898670/

http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/898670/#acomment-898672

http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/898670/#acomment-898674

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I remember The Green Mountain song! I heard it first in SFD, and then I recognized the same lyrics but with different melody in Rebel. The other songs in your links were great too.
There was a song in Rebel sung by Nok Su before her death. The lyrics were about how life is a dream or something like that. When I watched Nokdu Flower, one of the characters was singing similar lyrics (also right before he was killed). I was wondering if that was the same song.

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@Snow Flower October 11, 2019 at 12:49 PM

Glad you liked the post. Thanks.

"Song of the Green Mountain" is a very old piece, but way back then, I don't think there was much in the way of musical notation. I could be wrong, as I'm not a musicologist. At any rate, the poems or lyrics have been written down and some have survived to the present day, while the original music has been lost.

In the 26-page article, it was noted that the Neo-Confucian scholars of Joseon suppressed what Goryeo literature and music had been preserved from earlier times if it didn't serve a didactic purpose or ran counter to their moral values, etc. That put the kibosh on the low-brow fare of the hoi-polloi. It has always been that way around the world. There's the rarefied, highfalutin language spoken at court and among the upper class(es), and that spoken among the unwashed masses -- and they're sometimes completely different tongues, such as French among the aristocracy after the Norman Invasion of England and Anglo-Saxon and local dialects among the serfs and peasants.

I'm reminded of the furor over realistic doodles of everday life in Joseon causing consternation because of the earthy nature of the subject matter in PAINTER OF THE WIND. Some of the poems survived in private compendiums -- perhaps some scholar's own secret private stash of guilty pleasures. “Ssanghwajeom” / "The Turkish Bakery" is definitely one of those. LOL.

Earlier, I wracked my brain trying to recall when in NOKDU FLOWER I had heard a scrap of song whose lyrics I recognized. I think it was at the rally at Mount Baek, during which Yi-kang joined the Dong-haks amidst the forest of bamboo spears. I recognized the words, too, and was excited to hear them. It was a nice, authentic touch.

From what I gather, the oldest extant Korean folk song is actually from Baekje, and was used as the OST of THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SOO BAEK HYANG. The music is modern, but the words of "Jeongeupsa" 정읍사 are very old, and are the thoughts of a woman missing her husband, a merchant who is on the road. I had hoped that we would have heard one of the many peddlers in Gobu singing it in NOKDU FLOWER because that was such an important center of trade and it was located in former Baekje territory.

As for Nok-su's song about life being a dream, I suspect that it was discussed in the REBEL recap threads. Several Beanies were gung-ho on literary analysis of the novel Hong Gil-dong and how it cropped up in the drama, as well as the poetry and OST, and the traditional dance and music. There were a couple of pieces that Lee Ha-ni performed in the course of the show that were not included in the OST, but should have been. I especially liked her Buddhist sacred dance for Yeonsangun's deceased grandmother, and her duet in the tea garden with Gil-dong in which they sang about the Green Water (the meaning of her adopted name) and the Blue Mountain, a not-so-subtle reference to Mighty...

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@Snow Flower: Oops! Amputated!

I especially liked her Buddhist sacred dance for Yeonsangun's deceased grandmother, and her duet in the tea garden with Gil-dong in which they sang about the Green Water (the meaning of her adopted name) and the Blue Mountain, a not-so-subtle reference to Mighty Child Gil-dong.

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Life is a dream song in Nokdu Flower was sung by the butcher guy (who had his sons named Lee Seong Gye and Lee Bang Won). He was singing this right before the final battle.
I totally agree about the traditional songs and dances used in Rebel.
I am a classical musician and I am familiar with the development of Western European music, but I don't know much about Asian music. My interest in Korean dramas led me to reading several books on Korean history. Some of these books mentioned traditional music and instruments. I always get excited when traditional songs, dances, and instruments are part of the story line (Chuno, Rebel, Hwang Jin Yi, Nokdu Flower, 6FD, etc.)

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@Snow Flower,

Ah, Dong-rok Dog and his boys... It's coming back to me now.

I was an disc jockey starting in college and lasting a bit over a decade. It was a great environment in which to explore all kinds of music, including classical and traditional ethnic music. By any chance are you familiar with New World Records? In the lead-up to the Bicentennial, they began publishing a stunning library of American music of all genres and time periods from all corners of the country and its many traditions. I believe they are still producing recordings, and a while back, I noticed that they had even issued some contemporary Korean orchestral music.

http://www.newworldrecords.org/about-us.shtml

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I have not cure yet for Gaksital and I have this?!!
I'm going to have a big second lead syndrome and I don't know how I am going to survive this time.
I just hope that they don't fall in love with the same girl, if yes then I hope she will end up like in Gaksital *eve grin
But looking for the ribbon, I don't think my wish will fail :(
Over all it's a promising show and l'm looking forward for the next episodes. Prepare my heart!

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Just started this and it’s quite the cinematic piece . Usually first episodes are dull but this was quite exciting . I foresee tears and lots of them !

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Thank you for the recap. This has the potential to be epic, the acting and cinematography is amazing.

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