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122

My Country: The New Age: Episode 2

In a time of so much political upheaval, our trio of friends soon finds themselves facing conflicts that threaten to tear them apart. They each have their own challenges to face, and the decisions they’re forced to make will create ripples in history that they have no way of predicting. They’re still so young, and they haven’t yet learned that often, the closest of friends can quickly become the deadliest of enemies.

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

Hwi and Sun-ho fight their way to the registrar, and Hwi slams the arrow he was given by General Yi Seong-gye into the registrar’s desk and dares him to make him leave. With a shaking hand, the registrar matches Hwi’s arrowhead to the fletched end of the arrow that was delivered to him. Terrified, he stamps Hwi’s name in his book, and Hwi and Sun-ho both heave sighs of relief.

They pick up Hee-jae on their way out, though she’s acting very distracted and can barely look Hwi in the eye. He’s in a great mood and jokes that he can pass the test, get his rice, and pay her back the money she lent him to buy his sister’s medicine.

They spot Chief Park heading their way, so the guys grab Hee-jae and whirl her around to face a booth. Chief Park doesn’t see them, but one of his guards, Colonel Choi, notices Sun-ho.

Heh, the kite seller says that if Hwi flies the kite he’s holding, he’ll have a happy marriage and conceive a son. Hwi stammers nervously, and Sun-ho smirks that maybe he’s the one with the bright future, cutting his eyes pointedly at Hee-jae, hee.

Sun-ho suggests they buy a kite and fly it for luck on their test, and he tells Hwi to bring Yeon. Unaware that Yeon is Hwi’s sister, Hee-jae has a little jealous fit and picks out a squid kite for Hwi. She leaves them after making plans to fly their kites tomorrow.

She’s still distracted, as she recalls that she once met Hwi’s father. She remembers one night, when she and her mother had been chased by assassins. Her mother had pressed a bamboo letter carrier into little Hee-jae’s hands and urged her to take it to Lady Seo, promising to catch up later.

But Hee-jae’s mother had been shot in the arm with an arrow, and Hee-jae had watched the assassins catch up and kill her. She had bravely refused to hand over the letter, and just as the assassin raised his sword to kill her, Seo Geom had stepped in and fought them off, noticing their military-issue swords.

An assassin had told Seo Geom to move, but he’d said wryly that someone told him he’s the greatest swordsman in Goryeo. He’d introduced himself as Commander in Chief of the Northern Punitive Forces, then he’d dispatched the assassins. His sleeve had been slashed, and Hee-jae could see a tattoo on his arm.

He’d buried Hee-jae’s mother under a stone cairn, assuring Hee-jae that he’d built enough cairns on the battlefield that it wouldn’t come apart. He’d told her, “Don’t let anyone oppress you. That’s the only way you won’t collapse. Don’t let anyone intimidate you even if they’re stronger than you. Only then can you hold out.”

She had promised to repay Seo Geom’s kindness, and he’d said with a smile, “With high interest.” But not long after that, she’d witnessed his disgrace and suicide, and had seen his children screaming for their father. She understands now that Hwi is the boy she saw that day.

Colonel Choi asks Chief Park why he didn’t say anything when he saw the three they suspect of putting up the subversive posters. Chief Park won’t admit to seeing anyone, so Colonel Choi says that he’ll seize the opportunity for himself if Chief Park doesn’t report it by tomorrow.

When it’s time to go kite-flying, Yeon comes out of the house wearing makeup that looks like, as Hwi says, she applied it with her feet. But when the guys see Hee-jae, her understated beauty stuns them both. Hwi hilariously introduces Yeon to Hee-jae as “my boss,” and Hee-jae extends a sisterly offer to show Yeon how to apply her makeup to look more natural.

While flying their kites, Hee-jae notices how sweet Hwi is with his sister. Their kite string breaks so Hwi chases after it, and it eventually lands just over the edge of a cliff. He’s about to climb down to fetch it, but Hee-jae has followed him and she warns that he’ll fall and die.

She says it’s only a myth that a broken kite string foreshadows an early death, and that his worry over Yeon won’t cure her illness. He asks how she knows, and she tells him that Yeon’s hands are cold, and she’s wearing lots of makeup to cover her pale cheeks and purple lips.

Hwi says that Yeon’s epilepsy is getting worse, and sighs that she’d have been better off with a sister like Hee-jae. But Hee-jae says that nobody can replace him, and Hwi smiles gratefully.

Hee-jae reaches down for the squid kite and nearly slides off the edge, scaring them both. Hwi grabs her hand, complaining that she’s heavy, but she’s able to reach the kite. He yanks her back up, hard, and they land with Hwi on his back and Hee-jae on top of him.

They freeze like that for a long moment, then they sit up, unable to look at each other. Then Hee-jae notices that it’s dusk and people are releasing sky lanterns so they watch the beautiful display, though Hwi would rather look at Hee-jae. They eventually make their way back to Yeon, who’s surprised that Sun-ho isn’t with them, since he went after them.

A spy reports Hwi, Sun-ho, and Hee-jae’s location to Colonel Choi, so he and Chief Park head there together without telling anyone. They find Sun-ho walking alone and Colonel Choi attacks, and Sun-ho manages to avoid him for a long time before he’s finally overpowered and arrested. He’s amused until Colonel Choi says he’ll catch “that Ihwaru bitch” next, and that he’ll soon have his father, too.

Colonel Choi stands, proud of his catch…. then a sword emerges from the center of his chest. He falls dead, revealing Chief Park, who looms over Sun-ho menacingly.

The others wait for Sun-ho until Yeon falls asleep on Hee-jae’s shoulder. Hwi piggybacks his sister, and Hee-jae wishes she had someone to carry her home. She recites Seo Geom’s words to her from all those years ago about not being oppressed or intimidated even if others are stronger than you. At Hwi’s confusion, she simply says that she figured he never got to hear the words.

At home, Sun-ho cleans up a bad gash he received on his arm while fighting Colonel Choi. He watches his hand shake as he remembers Chief Park cutting the ropes binding him, and saying, “I did not kill him, and you did not see anything. The one who lets the secret out, dies first. I didn’t save you for your sake, nor for your father, so don’t fool yourself that I’m on your side.”

Sun-ho recalls when he was a child, and his older brother had fallen into a river and was drowning. Sun-ho had tried to rescue him, but a heavy branch had struck his hyung’s head and killed him.

In his grief, Lord Nam had growled at Sun-ho, “Why you? Why are you the one who made it out alive? You should have died instead of him!” He’d gripped Sun-ho’s throat, screaming that Sun-ho should have died instead of his son.

Hwi and Sun-ho practice for the military exam, Sun-ho on fancy equipment with skilled trainers, and Hwi alone in the forest with makeshift gear. On the day of the test, Lord Nam gives Sun-ho a bow that he says was his hyung’s, and that it will ensure he always hits his target. He tells Sun-ho that the time of the sword is coming, and that a sword will never discriminate against him for being illegitimate.

Sun-ho asks for his father’s promise never to mention Min-ho, his brother, to him again if he passes the test: “I wish to live my own life from now on.” Lord Nam gives his word.

Hwi stares at his father’s bow, remembering the man who was once his whole world. Yeon says that it’s not their father’s fault she’s sick, but the fault of the person who framed him. She speaks of how he would give his own rice to his needy subordinates, and made his own family lived on millet, so there’s no way he was siphoning military rations. Hwi agrees and picks up his father’s bow, which has his and Yeon’s names engraved on it.

The testing begins,and though Sun-ho’s injured arm still bothers him, he and Hwi both pass the archery and horseback combat sections of the test. Last is swordsmanship, and Hwi says that he’s confident they can both pass and change their destinies, then the world. Sun-ho only says that he’ll fight to the death, even if his opponent is Hwi.

They both defeat a long string of opponents until they’re the last two left. The final round will determine the top-scoring candidate, and Hwi and Sun-ho face each other, both determined to win.

A crowd watches, including Hee-jae, as the friends begin their fight. At first they’re evenly matched, but Hwi gets lucky with a strike directly to Sun-ho’s injured arm. He’s alarmed to see Sun-ho bleeding, but Sun-ho continues to fight. They ram the points of their practice swords into each other’s sternums at the same time and fall back gasping.

Sun-ho has a much harder time getting back on his feet, and Hwi begs him to stop, afraid his friend could die. But Sun-ho quotes him, “Don’t joke about swordsmanship, there’s no such thing as friends before swords.” He repeats that he’ll kill Hwi if he has to, and tells Hwi to fight properly.

Hwi looks heartbroken, but he can see that Sun-ho means every word. They fight again, and Hwi shoves Sun-ho backwards, but Sun-ho pulls Hwi down by the collar and tosses him over his head. Hwi barely gets his weapon up to block Sun-ho’s strike, then he goes after Sun-ho, who’s bleeding badly now.

They’re nearing the end of their strength when Hwi gets in two hard whacks, sending Sun-ho to the ground. The examiner nods his head, so Hwi drops his guard. Sun-ho hauls himself to his feet, and with all the strength he has left, he slams Hwi in the head with his practice sword. Hwi slumps to the ground, and Sun-ho’s eyes roll back as he falls to his knees.

The fight is declared over, and Sun-ho named as the winner. Hwi gasps that the fight was already over, but the examiner says he only nodded. Hwi screams at the injustice, asking how he can do such a thing, but the examiner says coldly, “You should first figure out why I couldn’t do such a thing.”

Hwi runs up the steps to get in the examiner’s face and asks if this is because of his father’s death. The examiner laughs and says that if Hwi is curious, he should “ask the cauldron your father was dipped in.” Hwi grabs him in fury, so he’s beaten by the guards until he gives up.

He’s dragged past Sun-ho, who reaches out for his friend, but he’s too weak to fix what he’s done. Hwi is left bleeding in the dirt, once again tossed out for no reason other than the circumstances of his birth.

Later, Sun-ho is awarded top honors, and the examiner tells him that this is the moment his life changes. But Sun-ho can’t smile, painfully aware that his life has changed, but not in the way he wanted. He watches as the examiner and his father exchange a meaningful look.

Hwi staggers home painfully, with Hee-jae following at a distance. At one point Hwi stops and drops his head to cry… then he passes out. Hee-jae helps him up and takes him to Ihwaru gibang, calling out for ice and cotton cloth. The gisaengs hesitate, but Lady Seo tells them to do as Hee-jae says.

Hee-jae cleans up Hwi as he sleeps, and later Lady Seo asks what her relationship is with Hwi. Hee-jae simply says, “We are meant to be together.”

She’s by Hwi’s side when he wakes, and he shows a spark of his old spirit by answering, “What do you think?” when she asks if he’s okay. He asks about Sun-ho, so Hee-jae says he’s getting an appointment. Hwi asks why Hee-jae gave him the squid kite, since the one with the lilies (the one supposed to guarantee a happy marriage) was prettier, and Hee-jae promises to get him the lily kite next time.

Hee-jae ties a bandage around Hwi’s head to hide his worst wound, so as not to scare Yeon when he goes home, and he’s affected by her closeness. Hee-jae says lightly that he’s the son of a disgraced father, brother to a girl with epilepsy, and now he’s failed the exam.

Hwi says he’s the worst, but Hee-jae asks what’s wrong with that. They sit in silence for a long time, then Hwi leans in and kisses Hee-jae. He backs up and looks into her eyes, and kisses her again. They feel a little awkward afterward, then Hee-jae remembers Yeon.

As Hwi is putting on his shoes, Hee-jae slides him some medicine for his cuts. She tells him not to cry in front of Yeon, and he jokes that he’s never cried in his life.

Lady Seo instructs a gisaeng to open the doors to the main room when Hwi leaves. She does, affording Hwi an unwelcome view of Lord Nam drinking with the examiner. Lord Nam sees Hwi and freezes, and Hwi’s eyes fill with tears as he remembers a day shortly after his father’s death.

Hwi had huddled beside his father’s body in front of Lord Nam’s house and begged for help to bury his father beside his mother, because Lord Nam had been his father’s friend. Little Sun-ho had watched as his father said it would taint his own family to help Hwi, and coldly sent him away.

Hee-jae confronts Lady Seo to ask angrily if the message she delivered to Lord Nam was from the examiner. She says that message ruined a man’s life, but Lady Seo counters that it bought the gibang a year’s worth of rice. She reminds Hee-jae that she told her to end her relationship with Hwi, and warns her to avoid friendship and love unless she wants her heart broken.

Hee-jae fires back that that’s how Lady Seo lives her life, but she can’t do that — she won’t do that. She finds her way out blocked by Lady Seo’s guard, and Lady Seo informs her that she’s confined to the gibang until this all blows over.

When Lord Nam leaves the gibang, Sun-ho is waiting for him, and before he can ask, Lord Nam admits to bribing the examiner. Sun-ho looks horrified and asks how Lord Nam isn’t ashamed, and why he didn’t tell him this before the exam.

Lord Nam grabs Sun-ho’s injured arm, making him cry out in pain. He whispers, “That’s why I bribed him,” and adds that he didn’t tell Sun-ho because he still needed to do his best. Sun-ho argues that he still could have won on his own, but Lord Nam snaps that he couldn’t afford to take a chance. He reminds Sun-ho that he said he fights for his own sake, “But I put you in first place for my sake.”

Sun-ho sobs that Lord Nam ruined his only friendship, and Lord Nam challenges him to tell Hwi that the examiner was bribed and take back his friend. Sun-ho just hangs his head as tears course down his face, and Lord Nam says that Sun-ho is the one who betrayed Hwi, even if he uses his father as an excuse.

Yeon waits in the yard for Hwi, and he has to collect himself so he doesn’t cry in front of her. She can tell by his expression that he failed, and he fibs that he’d rather be a blacksmith anyway. Yeon starts to cry when she sees Hwi’s battered face, but she hugs him and tells him he did well.

Hee-jae spends all night thinking about the part she inadvertently played in Hwi’s betrayal, and in the morning, she gets an idea. She eats her breakfast then leaves a note in the rice bowl for Hwa-wol.

Lord Nam and Sun-ho meet with Yi Seong-gye in the woods, and follow him as he talks about a time that Lord Nam saved his life in battle. Yi Seong-gye says that he’s repaying Lord Nam today, as they arrive at a clearing where the examiner has been bound and gagged.

Yi Seong-gye explains that the Inspector General received an anonymous letter informing them that the exam was rigged. Yi Seong-gye asks who knows of this, and Lord Nam says only himself and the examiner. Yi Seong-gye draws his bow, aims at the examiner, and says that his debt to Lord Nam is paid.

He suddenly turns and aims at Lord Nam, and his arrow flies so close that it cuts Lord Nam’s cheek. He tosses his bow to Sun-ho and his guard releases the examiner, who runs away. Yi Seong-gye tells Sun-ho that this all happened because of him, and that a mouth isn’t shut by being covered — it only shuts with death.

He orders Sun-ho to fix this or else he and his father both die right now. With no other way out, and though it looks like it goes against his every instinct, Sun-ho conquers his shaking hands and kills the examiner with one shot. Yi Seong-gye warns that he’ll take care of things himself if anything like this happens again, but Sun-ho promises him, “From this day on, all blood will be on my hands.”

After Yi Seong-gye leaves, Lord Nam says to Sun-ho what they both already know — that Hwi also knows about the bribe. Sun-ho says that the law can force Hwi to serve in the military until he’s sixty years old. Lord Nam sneers that Sun-ho can’t kill Hwi, but Sun-ho says that where he’s going won’t be considered living.

Lord Nam asks if he can trust Sun-ho, and Sun-ho replies, “Hwi has been my lifelong friend, but I won’t die for him.”

Despite the horrible events of the last couple days, Hwi can’t help but grin when he thinks about kissing Hee-jae, and he tucks the bandage she tied on his head inside his shirt, over his heart. He serves dinner, and Yeon gets mad when she notices that Hwi has put a stone in his rice bowl to make it look like he’s eating as much as he served to her.

Their meal is interrupted by royal guards, who accuse Hwi of failing to pay his military cloth tax and say that he’s being drafted immediately. He stammers that he’s exempt since his father is dead and he cares for his sister, but they surround him.

Hwi flies into a rage when a guard knocks down Yeon, and she watches, terrified, as he’s hit in the head and starts bleeding badly. The last thing Hwi sees as he’s dragged away is Yeon falling with a seizure, hitting her head on the table as she crumples to the ground.

Hwi screams desperately for someone to help her or she’ll die, but the guards show them no pity and drag him away, leaving Yeon alone. Hwi is still howling when he’s thrown into a prison cell, begging someone to send a message to Sun-ho to take care of his sister.

Sun-ho is nearby, horrified by the screams of his friend and the knowledge that he’s done this. He hears Hwi calling to Yeon not to die, and he runs to find her unconscious. He carries her home and puts her in his bed, calling for a doctor, and when his father tries to have Yeon removed, Sun-ho barks at them not to come near her.

Lord Nam says softly that he’s always taught Sun-ho not to yell, but to threaten. So Sun-ho does exactly that… he whispers into his father’s ear, “One more person knows you bribed the examiner… me. I know the truth. What if I told General Choi? I only shoot arrows for my own sake. Why should I care who becomes my target? I will not let Yeon die, so do not provoke me.”

Lord Nam backs down and allows Sun-ho to help Yeon, but he warns Sun-ho to keep her hidden, because he’ll kill anyone who finds out. Sun-ho nods, and Lord Nam leaves him.

Hwi is taken from his cell, but nobody will tell him anything about Yeon. He’s informed that Nam Sun-ho, the one he’s been saying will help him, is the person who sent him here. Hwi just shuts down, unable to understand the nightmare he’s been thrust into.

Hee-jae is finally allowed to leave the gibang. Lady Seo tells her that soon a boat will be shipping soldiers to the battlefield, and that one passenger is named Hwi. She tells Hee-jae to go see the outcome of her foolishness.

Hwi is already on the boat, looking beaten and dejected. He sees Hee-jae arrive just moments after the boat pulls away from the dock, but she can only stand in the rain and cry.

Three months later — 1388, year of the Wihwado Retreat, Liaodong

Hwi wakes on a battlefield and gasps in pain. He lies there, injured, as men fight and die all around him.

 
COMMENTS

Damn… I knew this show was going to break my heart and make me cry, but I didn’t expect it so soon. Yeon’s possible death at a young age has been heavily telegraphed so I wasn’t surprised by her collapse, but Hwi’s grief and frantic screaming for someone to help her just broke me. Now he’s been betrayed by the one person he thought was on his side, he has no idea if Yeon is even alive, and he’s been taken from the girl he was falling for just as they found each other. Luckily, we’ve seen that Hwi survives at least ten more years, and he will end up as a respected and valued part of the rebellion, but at what cost?

The first crack in Hwi and Sun-ho’s friendship came during their military test, when Sun-ho said he was willing to kill Hwi to win, and it just snowballed so fast. More than his love for his friend, Sun-ho desires the chance to be his own man in his father’s eyes, and not a poor shadow of the legitimate brother who died. It was heartbreaking to see him realize, too late, that he won the test only because his father pulled some strings. I’m starting to understand why, in the flash-forward ten years, Hwi is so bitter and Sun-ho mentions his many sins. He was forced to choose between his friend and the father whose approval he’s been trying to win all his life, and I do see how hard it was for him to make that decision. I believe that sending Hwi to the military was the only way Sun-ho could keep his friend alive, and that saving Yeon’s life is his way of at least trying to atone for what he’s done to Hwi (and holy cow, Woo Do-hwan is absolutely brilliant in the way he conveys Sun-ho’s inner conflict).

Having seen two episodes now, there is one thing that bothers me, and it’s really more of an opinion than a real “professional” criticism. It’s that the music occasionally doesn’t feel tonally in sync with the scenes. It’s mostly during fight scenes — the music sometimes feels like old B-movie stock music (with the exception of the testing scene, that music was pretty cool). And it’s a shame, because the fight scenes are gorgeously choreographed, and you can tell that the actors are doing most of their own stunts, so the fact that the music quality feels cheap or inappropriate at times is a disappointment. A good example is in the scene where Sun-ho fought Colonel Choi — the moment when you could only see their shadows leaping and whirling was so visually interesting, but the music was just cheesy. But in most of the other scenes, I don’t even notice the music, which for me is how it should be. The music should enhance the scenes and shouldn’t ever feel manipulative (as if you wouldn’t know how to feel unless the music told you), or so tonally dissonant that you can’t enjoy the action because the music is so weird. Other than that, I still think everything else on the production side of My Country is great — the pacing remains steady, the editing is smooth as silk, the acting is flawless, and the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous.

I love when a drama’s plot moves along at a quick pace, because it means there’s a lot of story to tell and we won’t get stuck circling an issue for several episodes. But sometimes it worries me, like it is now, because we’re only two episodes into My Country and yet so much has happened, most of it very very bad. That’s not to say that things are moving too fast — in fact, the note-perfect pacing is one of my favorite things about this drama so far. But I’m scared that, as bad a situation as Hwi finds himself in, things are going to get so, so much worse for him before they get better. If they get better. We still have ten years of Hwi and Sun-ho’s lives to follow, and those ten years are a very dark time for the country — this isn’t going to be easy to watch, but I think it will be worth it.

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"They’re still so young, and they haven’t yet learned that often, the closest of friends can quickly become the deadliest of enemies."

Their friendship tells the history of their own country. Close friends, colleagues, comrades become enemies as power changes often from one hand to another.
Take Yi Seong-gye and Choi Young as an example.

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Yeon’s hands are cold, and she’s wearing lots of makeup to cover her pale cheeks and purple lips.

Does epilepsy cause those symptoms? How many diseases does she have?

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From what I understand, patients with epilepsy can get blue or purple lips before or during a seizure. Cold hands and pale skin are just general symptoms of someone who isn’t 100% healthy, perhaps due to poor blood circulation? Maybe medical beanies can give you more info. I don’t recall watching a drama that portrayed epilepsy before!

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How long until purple lips don't remind me of another drama?

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Forever, especially if they keep adding seasons.

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So, Lady Seo deliberately let Hwi find out about the bribe? As a way of repaying some old favor from Hwi's father?
Another old and secret connection between people we will be seeing a lot more of>?

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I found that interesting too. She deliberately let Hwi find out about the bribe. Why? Maybe it’s not to repay Hwi’s father, maybe it’s to get rid of his troublesome son? Alternatively, maybe she has a grudge against Lord Nam and wanted to use Hwi? Madame Seo has many secrets. I expect a lot of it is tied up with Seo Geom’s death.

Also what’s the deal with this Chief Park who killed his deputy? These little puzzles keep me interested as much as the story of the trio.

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The opening scenes showed chief Park as part of Yi Bang-won's army.
That means we'll get to see more of him 👍.

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Aha! Thanks for reminding me.

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Interesting. I hadn't spotted Park in the opening scene, but I had already jumped to the conclusion that Park could be one of Yi Bang-won's operatives.

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Or maybe two in one,for Hwi to see the one who plotted it all and knowing that Lord Nam wouldn't let any witness walk away and get rid of the stone in Hae Jae's "shoe" that distracted her without lifting a finger...

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I don't know if Lady Seo was doing Hwi a favor. That's how you get two friends to distrust and fight each other.
Maybe she is trying to protect Hee-jae since they know her secret with the poster. She is going to be implicated since Hee-jae is one of her girls.

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I thought she deliberately showed him because she wanted to get rid of him for the sake of Hee Jae. She knew SH's father would get rid of him knowing that he saw them.

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These first two episodes kinda gave me whiplash, since they moved so fast. I’m really looking forward to getting to the meat of our show.

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Show seems to be trying hard to be tropey and unoriginal:
- Fight at start to show off let the leads show off
- Almost falling off cliff
- Landing on top of each other
- Fated to be together? (Because his father helped her)
- Frame-ups
- Parents die, childhood hardships
- Betrayals
- More hardship in store for male lead to overcome
- Corruption / bribery

So, WHY NO SHITPOSTS??? Are SPs reserved only for shows that try to be different? For shows that lack cheekbones and abs?

And I won't be surprised if they toss in a Cart of Doom, perhaps as a way for Hwi and Hee-jae to reunite after years of separation.

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SP away. No one is going to stop you :p.

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You need @sicarius for SP and she’s probably taking a break from the last few months.

There is one trope the show broke in style: an episode 2 kiss! None of the usual pining until Ep. 11. I’m not usually one to comment on kisses, but it was so honest and innocent. My cold heart melted a little bit.

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Yes. Sicarius does Shitposts. I do Snarkposts.

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Is there a difference... lol

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Lazer Unicorns for one

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Are you implying Lazer Unicorns AREN'T SNARKY @msrabbit?? *gasp*

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@sicarius No. I am saying Lazer isn't @lordcobol weapon of choice. Thus, we probably never see in snarkposts.😋

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Well then he has no taste @msrabbit :P

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*yawns*
*checks calendar*
*will I really be able to escape on the 11th of November???*
*WILL THEY LET ME*

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Yes, I agree with @lordcobol, but it seems to be still okay, better than the average unoriginal tropiness. Doesn't come anywhere near the turned upside down tropes of Tale of Nokdu, but at least it's watchable (so far...)

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TALE OF NOKDU has the freedom to break tradition like ROOKIE HISTORIAN. No one cares if they have female historians and a village full of widows etc.

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Viewers expectation for MY COUNTRY is different.
It's supposed to be more traditional and that's why some of the local viewers were criticizing the young leads. They are inexperienced and their enunciation comes off as unclear unlike the veterans who have been doing conventional sageuks for most of their career.

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Since I don't speak Korean (would love to though) I wouldn't know about enunciation. Watching this particular drama, even though it's based on important history and real people, it didn't seem like it was very historical, at least not historically accurate.

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Linda,
I don't speak Korean either. I just read translated articles in English.

This would be a Faction Sageuk, facts+fiction. It's a retelling of a well know historical events but the main story line is fictional.

Does that make any sense to you?

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@kiara Yes, I've seen plenty of historical fiction. For some odd reason this one just seemed even more fictional and purely love story, but then it's only just begun.
It looks like it will be Hwi's coming-of-age story.

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Fortunately I do find it exciting and interesting on both front.
The historical figures are more open and honest with their ambitions. A different interpretations instead of the same old text book version.

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If we do SP based on tropey shows, we may need to SP everything. We need to start recruitment and training of shitposters!

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And then we'd have to start our own website and our own snark recaps and THEN WE'D GET TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

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With what, sic?

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Our Lazer Unicorns and Sarcasm. What else?

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Aah... and then there will be SP about that too.... I foresee this endless cycle of 💩

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You just have to embrace it after while.

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SHITPOSTING HANDBOOK:
INSTRUCTIONS for SHITPOSTER

Oh that page is blank...

*page turning noise*

PREREQUISITES for SHOW:
Oh that page is blank too...

Oh no wait something is appearing...
must... have at least one beanie .... who hates its guts... and has excess sarcasm to burn...

*munches on a carrot*
Well.
What are you waiting for?
*smiles prettily*

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Oh a Post Script just appeared...
"hate not required"
Oh well that's just maddeningly unhelpful isn't it

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Just like SP?! 😉

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However did you guess.

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For me, this is the total opposite of the last show I disliked. I wish the last show had been this well done (yes, I still have many episode to become disappointed).

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For some reason, when I read your list of tropes, in a sageuk, I believe them entirely, especially during times of turmoil, like when one dynasty ends to usher in another. I am the least excited about the childhood connection in most kdramas, but again, in 1388, when there is no means for transportation except your your own two feet and 1-horsepower (if you’re lucky) it’s not surprising that people knew each other from childhood and fell in love and married each other. You didn’t know anything existed outside your little village, especially if you couldn’t read or write.

And re: SP, I’m sure there are people that hate this drama, but when I see it, I see the intensity it took to make it, the countless man-hours, the thoughtful preparation, and the people behind the camera making all look as seamless as possible. I wholly respect that, and those who may not sleep for days so it appears it on my television screen in such a polished state. The entertainment industry in Korea is still wrought with turmoil itself, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by me or others when we see and appreciate the craftsmanship of real people who love to do what they do despite the working conditions. I tend to leave satire and criticism at the door and instead focus on the characters, music, acting, costumes and cinematography (and wow, is the cinematography beautiful!).

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Hey Ally, have I mentioned recently how much I love you?

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Aw, I love you too, sic! I did enjoy your SP's of Arthdal (as I wasn't watching it), but I love this one too much to say anything too bad about it (and I hope you feel the same)!

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I'm not actually watching it Ally.
I was going to start it but haven't got round to it yet for various unreasons.

And honestly, all sarcasm aside, I had no prior intention of shitposting it at all, so I find this whole conversation mildly amusing but also the original comment very presumptuous.
If Cobol wishes to shitpost it he can, but it's not on my radar 😂

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Well, it was fun having you join this thread for the time being! I hope you do catch it as you just saw SFD, it’s a similar time period I believe.

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Still on TWDR actually... I was going to start SFD after that. It may be put off if I watch this first, or something else, I'm not sure! haha

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I'm not going to SP a drama that doesn't deserve it. MY COUNTRY is what they said it would be. It's interesting to look at a familiar part of Korea's history from the younger generations point of view. That's why it's called the NEW AGE. Filial piety does not mean absolute obedience without question. They do have a voice.
Retelling history from a different perspective is what I live for. I don't trust all that is written in the history books especially when it's written by the winners.

I love love all the veterans in this drama. They bring so much needed gravitas to this genre especially now when sageuks are becoming less authentic.

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Yes to all of this. I also love the historical expertise that you bring to these recaps, so less SPs and more historical background please! :)

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You are too kind but I'm no expert :). I'm just a sageuk geek who is also fascinated with Korea's history.

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Hear! Hear! Well put. I've been enjoying it to much to be analytical.

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Thought the exact same thing when they were at the cliff

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"(and holy cow, Woo Do-hwan is absolutely brilliant in the way he conveys Sun-ho’s inner conflict)"

Yes he is. You hate him and want to hug him at the same time. His scene with his father after learning of the bribe and when Hwi was dragged away.

Just when you think his humanity is gone, something else clicks with him.

This episode was so good.

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My heart really hurt for Hwi this episode,it really was true that one's life can change in a moment for good and for the worst and sadly Hwi got the very end of one's stick and from the one he considered the closest to him after his younger sister which is even more horrible...I felt sad that such a friendship of years got teared apart sooo easily,does this mean their friendship wasn't that powerful to begin with and is better that it ended?Who knows,after all humans aren't one dimensional even if truly i can't forgive Sun Ho... I guess in the hard enviroments one will show his true nature and we got to see his and i suspect from here one he will only go down the hill,that path of no return that will end with death more than sure because otherwise can't fanthom him survive...Can't wait to see Hwi's hellish journey from here and how he will come above all the horror that will face and how he will be able to keep his sanity in one place as he will clearly be quite broken...I must say i want to see soo much his relationship with Bang Won and how he will be such a dependable person to the fiersome Prince,how will he discover Hwi and his potential... I'm also quite eager to find out more about Hee Jae and about the secret letter that took her Mother's life...I'm curious if it's the same person responsable for making Hwi's Father a traitor and bringing calamity over their family...Could it be Nam Jeon the one who framed Seo Geom and became the man he is now thanks to that or is someone else we don't know yet...Hope now that Hwi will sonner or later discover the truth and return his father name and bring him justice...

Curious if there is still any man that was under his command that still felt some kind of loyalty for him and how he treated them in those times and reach out even now to stand by Hwi,otherwise it truly is too sad that no one actually stands by a man who was like a hero

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Man, this Yi Seong Gye gives me the chills. He’a ambitious and ruthless, with none of the hesitancy of the character as portrayed in SIX FLYING DRAGONS. I can’t wait to see him meet with his equally ambitious son Yi Bang Won.

The following is speculation of course. We don’t know what went on his mind. But, if Yi Seong Gye never intended to conquer Liaodong then the whole campaign was a farce, a clever manoeuvre to outwit his enemies perhaps, but not too much fun for the men at the front!

Alas, I’m with you on the jarring music choices @lollypip. It’s sort of hit and miss. I much preferred the swords test without any music actually, where we could hear each blow, each heaving breath, and each cry of pain. It was intenssse!

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I've seen many Yi Seong-gye in past sageuks but Kim Yeong-cheol is my absolute favorite. I've always wanted him to play this role because I know that he'll bring something different to the table.

It makes sense @Toki because he opposed it before but he was ordered to go anyway. Choi Young was supposed to lead the expedition but he changed his mind last minute because the king begged him to stay behind and protect him.
That decision was probably the biggest regret of his entire military career. He handed over Goryeo's fate to the one who will eventually destroy him and the country that he served for most of his entire life.

Clever indeed. I think he marched to Liaodong anyway to show his obedient and not to leave any doubts behind. He probably let them have a taste of the hardship of trying to conquer Liaodong before he convinced everyone to get on board with the coup.

I can't wait for the next episode.

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Hello, @kiara,

I was wondering if you could recommend any good sources on Goryeo and Joseon history? Especially, the timeline that is the focus of this drama.

Thank you! :)

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Hi @peridot

THE ANNALS of KING TAEJO is probably the best source. It's translated straight from the original materials.
https://www.amazon.com/Annals-King-Taejo-Founder-Dynasty/dp/0674281306#customerReviews

For mid- Geoyeo I have the translation from the KORYOSA but I haven't read it yet. It only covers 6 out of the 36 rulers of Goryeo. It starts with King Uijong, the 18th ruler and ends with King Gojong the 23rd ruler of Goryeo.
https://www.amazon.com/Koryosa-Choryo-II-Essentials-History/dp/8962971690/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Koryosa&qid=1570814178&s=books&sr=1-1
THE LAND OF SCHOLARS covers a lot of late Goryeo and early Joseon's well known scholars.

If you want to adventure into the Joseon Dynasty HERMIT KINGDOM provides some translations from the Annals of Joseon.
I have the book for more details but I found a link here. https://www.sungjinyang.com/category/history/

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I think wikipedia has gotten better so read then check out the original source and make your own judgement.

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@peridot
I think you should probably start here for a quick overview of the current time period and the order of the historical events. It was the most helpful during SFD and it's still very much related to this drama.
I'm very grateful for @bodashiri for his/her hard work.
https://bodashiri.tumblr.com/post/137740642551/the-list-of-sfd-historical-info

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*takes notes*
If I ever get money or more room in my library I know what to buy! I didn't know the Annals of King Taejo have been translated yay!

I second the recommendation of bodashiri's link. It was very helpful when navigating SIX FLYING DRAGONS and makes me more comfortable while watching this one - I can enjoy the different interpretation of the historical characters and indulge in the story of the fictional younger characters. The balance between fiction and history reminds me a lot of NOKDU FLOWER so far.

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@wishfultoki

This is great book for ROOKIE HISTORIAN too. It goes into details on how they recorded and compiled the Annals.
Interesting stuff.

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Thank you for providing me with these titles. I have some broad knowledge of certain events and rulers, but I am grateful for this. I will save these links. I've been trying to find things in translation. Again, thanks so much!

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@Peridot
You are welcome :).
We are all on the same boat. Still waiting for the whole Annals of Joseon to be translated and hopefully it'll be completed by 2033.
Only 14 more years to go lol.

If you'd like to know more about the establishment of Goryeo then I'd recommend the more authentic "Taejo Wang Geon" (200-2002). It's very long, 200 eps but you'll learn a lot of the pre-Goryeo history from it.

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@kiara

Thanks for the Goryeo-related recommendation.

Regarding the early Joseon period:

I also know who the next few kings will be and the intra-familial violence that will occur. I know what's coming in that regard, so I won't be shocked. Plus that kind of thing has happened throughout history and in every part of the world.

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Logged on for the first time in months to comment on how hooked I am on this show. Sageuks aren't my jam, but I came for Jang Hyuk and I am staying for the friends-to-enemies drama between Seo Hwi and Nam Seon-ho.

Shallow moment: Woo Do-hwan is honestly gorgeous. My mother was legit mesmerized every time he spoke. Needless to say, I was in a thrall myself. Shallow moment done.

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Me too!!! I love his voice, his eyes. 😊
Since we’re talking about being shallow...
When Yang Se-Jong smiles, I smile.
When Woo Do-Hwan speaks, I melt.
When Jang Hyuk appears, I scream.

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Me too...I am such a shallow ahjumma...

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He is gorgeous but for some weird reason I burst out laughing while he was cleaning up his wound. I think it was the combination of him moaning and flexing those beautiful muscles at the same time. My eyes were not worthy lol.

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@lollypip Thanks so much for the recap/comments. If it weren't for your input I wouldn't have started this drama. In fact, I only read this post on the 2nd ep until it reached a point that sounded interesting (the fight between he and his friend) and started watching from that point on. Now I'll go back and watch from the beginning.
I won't say much about what's going on, I'll let you and others comment on the drama itself, though it seems a bit standard fare so far, but it's certainly better than average.
I was so glad to hear your comments on the music, because quite frankly, I turned the sound down because I thought the music was terrible and didn't fit the scenes at all. I'm really picky with music scores in dramas because they can either add to the emotion or just ruin the scene. And honestly, the last year I've mostly watched Chinese dramas, and their OSTs and musical scores are so far and above in emotional impact than kdramas I've watched in the last year. I'm also really tired of hearing cheesy love songs sung whenever a couple kisses, etc. It's way overdone, way too too much. There, I've gotten that out - it's been bugging me for awhile.
At long last a kdrama looks promising (this and Tale of Nokdu). Very happy, even if My Country is beginning to look more like a Shakespearean tragedy!

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Maybe it’s my Woo Do Hwan bias showing, but my heart was breaking for Sun Ho this episode. It’s pretty clear that he’s being set up as the tragic hero in the shadows destined to spend the majority of the show being hated and misunderstood. The line where he said Hwi was his lifelong friend but that he wasn’t willing to die for him pretty much confirmed to me how his storyline is going to end... Anyway, I don’t think Sun Ho has really turned his back on his friend yet. In fact, I predict the first one to really “betray” the other will ironically be Hwi for choosing to believe that Sun Ho betrayed him first.

I think when people are quick to scorn Sun Ho, they’re forgetting the key differences between Sun Ho and Hwi. Hwi is a lowlife, but otherwise a free soul with a rare amount of innate talent. In other words, there is always hope for Hwi to one day change his fate with his own power because he possesses a skill that others don’t. Sun Ho however is a lowlife trapped within the box of nobility politics. Although he’s a talented swordsman, his talent comes from effort and smarts instead of the natural gift Hwi has for it. He’s got enough skill to be able to hold his own in the upper ranks, but he will never be the kind of up-stager that draws people’s attention like Hwi is. Therefore Sun Ho only has one other option to change his fate: cling to power till he has power of his own.

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Sun Ho’s decision to kill the examiner and accept the bribed position may come across as cowardly and selfish to some, but I think the reason he did it was precisely because his life wasn’t the only one that would be lost if he didn’t cooperate. He knows very clearly how the world works and that without power, even if he’s strong enough to protect himself, he won’t be able to protect the ones he loves. Even Hwi being able to take the military exam was only possible because he had a connection to someone with power. Without Sun Ho’s ties to nobility, both of them would be SOL so it’s crucial for both of their futures that Sun Ho doesn’t let go of that lifeline yet. We know that if Hwi was put in the same position he’d be more likely to shoot an arrow at Yi Seong Gye than allow justice to be denied his friend, but that’s because he’s still naïve and doesn’t think ahead for the consequences of his actions.

In all honesty, even if Sun Ho turned down the military position it still wouldn’t go to Hwi, no matter how fair and square he earned it, because the system he’s trying to enter is not actually fair and Sun Ho realizes that now. Moreover, even if Sun Ho decided to take the noble death over betraying his friend, Hwi (and likely Yeon) would still end up being killed to cover up the bribery and then everyone’s deaths would be for naught. Sending Hwi to war was the only way to keep him alive since it would be viewed as a death sentence in everyone else’s eyes, but Sun Ho knows his friend well enough to be able to trust that he’ll make it through it. Besides, the battlefield is the best place for Hwi to change his destiny since people there will only care about his swordsmanship and not his social rank for once.

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@hobakky,
I cannot agree more with your assessment of Sun-ho. He's up against a corrupt system, and aside from his mother, has never had an adult actually care for him as a human being. His father is a brutish piece of work who had no interest in him whatsoever until his legitimate heir died in a tragic accident -- for which he irrationally blames Sun-ho. As if plain old survivor's guilt were not bad enough.

Hwi, on the other hand, grew up secure in the knowledge that his father loved him and his sister to bits, and relished the memories of the happy times their little family shared. I found it touching that Seo Geom had inscribed his children's names on the inside of his bow so that he would see them every time he used it -- which would have been very often, particularly when he was at war.

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Excellent observation.

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Love it @hobakky. Thanks for sharing!

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Music...you hit the nail squarely on the head. Some of it is very good, other times it’s just...not. I thought it was perhaps the modernity of some of it that clashes with the very traditional. I’m sure there’s a way to do it well, but I found some bits jarring. I think I’ll get used to it, though. The acting between Yang Se-Jong and Woo Do-Hwan is just superb. That last scene broke me. Every time I see that poor, sick girl, my heart is already breaking and then you put those boys in the scene and I’m hopelessly blubbering. I had to go back to the beginning and had totally forgotten all the cuteness in the first 20 or so minutes. My heart is wrecked. I also was surprised how quickly darkness fell on their friendship. Seolhyun also did well this episode. I believed her totally feeling beholden to Hwi (through his father) and even starting to care more for him. Gosh, I’m going to be a wreck for the next couple months, aren’t I?

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I love it that we are comfortable enough to share what we like and also what we dislike about the show.

I think Seolhyun has a pleasant voice. I hope she'll continue to improve.

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Yang Se Jong's crying scene was devastating. He should make Jang Hyuk (the king of crying scenes) proud.

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Oh man, I'm quite satisfied with how the pacing of the show is being put at, having let all the shizz hit the fan in the first 2 episodes right off the bat and actually giving us substance instead of being stuck in intros, but it still hurt to see it all unfold T.T Kudos to the great cast ~!!

This is definitely one of those types of character dramas where everyone is just stuck in their own circumstances and want so desperately to change--to MAKE the change and to BE the change-- but so many external factors outside of their control are the things hindering them and it's so heartbreaking when you add crumbling relationships on top of it all T...T
Now that every things has been set into motion, it will be interesting to watch how the story unfolds and what lies ahead for our trio for the next 10 years worth of storytelling.... Can't wait ~!!!

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What is the significance of squid in Korean culture? Just curious...

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It's really a beautiful drama. The fighting scenes are so great! The choreography, the intensity, the angles,etc.

I like the young actors, they're still innocent and naive when the older are already bitter and powerful. I liked the contrast and I'm very curious to see them becoming stronger.

Why they always mention that cauldron when his father chose to kill himself with a sword? I understood the point to kill himself was precisely to avoid this.

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I think they want to put him down and hurt him in the worst possible way. They are bunch of miserable lowlifes who needs company.
Committing suicide doesn't exposed his father's crime but death by boiling does.
This show is not holding back with all kinds of emotional abused.

His father was most likely framed. It happened to almost every good father in sageuks lol.

Another thing that bugs me is that his only other choice was to commit suicide. Goryeo was a Buddhism country. Taking one's life goes against Buddhism beliefs. So I find it rather strange.
Maybe I'm missing something.

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Thank you for recap @lollypip. I am more worried for Sun Ho than Hwi. Hwi has a sister and a girl waiting for him. And he is the nice type that fate always favors.
Sun Ho, however, has nobody after he betrayed his only friend. He somehow reminded me of Tagon (Arthdal) , except with better abs. 😋 Desperately seeking approval from Dad and has this twisted intention/motivation for power. I really hope Sun Ho doesn't end up pure evil, but judging he is already like this in ep 2, chances are slim.

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It reminds me Warrior Baek Dong Soo, except Hwi seems more interesting and smart than Baek Dong Soo. But Yeo Un broke my heart in this drama :(

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Ah... yes. That show also had tragic bromance. I didn't care much for Dong Soo, but they'd better leave Hwi alive and happy by the end!

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I don't like that the netflix subtitlers use modern slang/expletives to describe historical speech. (Yeah, I know I've commented on this before, and you're probably sick of it, but it still bugs me.)

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One of my constant Netflix gripes.

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@pakalanapikake

I've always been fascinated with Korea and their archery skills ever since JUMONG. I think it's safe to say that Yi Sageung-gye was the Jumong of Goryeo or at least of his generation.
I seems to recall an earlier conversations about Korean bows and arrows. I think you brought it up but I don't remember which thread.

SO here is the thing I want to know before we move on to the next 2 episodes. What type bow do you think Yi Seong-gye is using? I've only heard of iron bow mentioned and the regular composite bow that Hwi is using.

I read this article and it's pretty interesting but you probably have done more research on it.

KOREAN ARCHERY: POWER and PASSION.
https://legendarchery.com/blogs/archery-bowhunting-blog/tagged/korea#

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Part 1 of 2

@kiara,

I scanned my comments, and found the MUSA THE WARRIOR and WAR OF THE ARROWS discussion, which you kicked off way down in the long first thread of this Jang Hyuk casting news for MY COUNTRY:

http://www.dramabeans.com/2019/09/jang-hyuk-explores-humanistic-side-of-bloodthirsty-prince-in-my-country/#comment-3527973
posted: September 29, 2019 at 9:24 AM

Thanks for that dandy Korean archery article. Very interesting!

I looked through my Kdrama log, but could not find records of background articles I read in 2016 when I watched ARROW, THE ULTIMATE WEAPON (alternate title). The following review was helpful, and fascinated me not only because of the terminology, but with the revelation that all the Manchu characters spoke Manchurian in the movie, which boggled my mind, and added greatly to the immersive experience:
http://koreanfilm.org/kfilm11.html#arrow

I recall I looked up pyeonjeon (baby arrows) in Wikipedia, so took another gander, and came across this interesting link from it, which gives beaucoup background on military archery and exams:

Jangseogak Archives: Archery in Joseon Kingdom, by Chung Hae-eun (2014)
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/07/628_161432.html

I recognized these articles when I looked them up just now:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyeonjeon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gakgung [Korean bow; redirects from Korean archery]

See also:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_bow
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchu_bow
For the life of me, I haven't been able to find where I read that the Manchu arrowheads weighed half a pound. Sheesh! It’s really bugging me.

Be the first on your block! A Manchu "Bowflex"!
https://www.mandarinmansion.com/item/heavy-manchu-war-or-strength-bow

Manchu language & archery resources
http://www.manchuarchery.org/bibliography

- Continued -

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Whoa, thank you so much @pakalanapikake <3.
You are the best!

It was the Manchu arrowhead discussion that you brought up. I can't find it either but this is more than I asked for. Mahalo!!!!

I'm glad that this drama is highlighting archery as their main strength on the battle field.
Korea has a great track record for dominating archery in the Olympics so this is no joke. The legend lives on!

Kim Yeong-cheol just disappeared into the character and all I see is Yi Seong-gye and it helps so much.
I love it when they talk about bows and range in the next episode. Hwi and Chief Park <3.

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@kiara,
You're so very welcome, Sunbaenim!

If you stop to think about it, it makes sense that archery is highlighted in the drama. That was Korea's high-tech secret weapon back then.

You can say it again that Kim Yeong-cheol disappeared into his Yi Seong-gye. I loved him him in LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, and if I didn't know he was in the cast, I'd never recognize him. The sageuk garb helps, but he's really a chameleon.

I haven't gotten to ep. 3 yet, but hope to soon. I'm looking forward to geeking out over the technical specs of the weaponry. ;-)

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Part 2 of 2

[NOTE: Part 1 is in moderation, dang it.]

Here's a fascinating batch of vintage Korean commentaries on Manchu bows:

Korean views on Manchu archery.
Translations by Jin Kim, comments by Peter Dekker. November 14, 2014

http://www.manchuarchery.org/korean-views-manchu-archery

In the above article, it’s very interesting to read Korean criticism of the susceptibility of their own laminated buffalo horn bows to heat and humid weather, let alone precipitation. In comparison, the Manchu wooden bows were bigger, heavier, and better able to withstand exposure to water (i.e., they deteriorated only after immersion in water for 20 days, not just a few sprinkles of rain; see final document). Based on these comments, I better understand General Yi Seong-gye’s reluctance to invade Liaodong in mud season.

Re: your query as to types of bows, and which kind Yi Seong-gye is using

I found a paper that lists 5 kinds of bows and 6 kinds of arrows (see pg. 5). It mentions mulberry wood bows, and even a dreadnought iron arrow weighing 240g – half a pound, like some of the Manchu arrowheads. I bet that General Yi uses whichever kind of bow he wants to, depending on conditions. Iron bows are hard to break, and work well at shorter distances. The more delicate and finicky buffalo horn bows have the edge for long-distance sniping, but are weather dependent. He probably has an assortment of bows and arrows and uses whichever tool is appropriate for the job and prevailing conditions. He probably has his personal preferences, but will use whatever is available in a pinch, and do just fine with it. Which is what makes him a master.

The scene of Hwi shooting the iron bow during the hunt was great. Not only is he a natural when it comes to archery, he’s also a blacksmith. He has probably forged iron bows, and thus knows their properties and how to account for them. He knew they’re better for shooting during windy weather than the horn ones.

The Archery Tradition of Korea, by Ki-hoon Kim (25 October 2003)
https://hk.coastaldefence.museum/documents/1879622/1882225/presentation_paper.pdf

-30-

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This is soooo good!

I was trying to compare General Yi's bows to some pictures from wiki and just gave up. I think I'm blind cause they all look the same to me lol.

This makes so much sense! I'm glued to the next episodes and enjoying the battle which I usually ff through in other sageuks.

"I bet that General Yi uses whichever kind of bow he wants to, depending on conditions."

Yes I agree!

Thank you for all the helpful and detail infos. We are such sageuk geeks lol.

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@kiara,
I thought you'd get a bang out of those contemporaneous beefs about the fragility of the buffalo horn bows.

Again, you're most welcome! ;-)

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thanks for the recap...i'm enjoying the show so far...:-)

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After 2nd ep, I am having a dejavu of the Princess Man male leads' friendship conflict. Hence, I am having a bit of trouble to feel them. Nevertheless, I am all into the emotion when he got betrayed at the exam and taken to the battlefield, Seo Hwi, that is. I am patiently waiting for Jang Hyuk to grace the screen. I will see you ladies in the following episode recap. Cheers! Thanks Lolly ssi!

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Oh by the way, I also has some trouble with the music used. It's a pity.

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I loved this drama since the first scene. It's a top quality drama with superb acting and cinematography, and a captivating plot. Action scenes are excellently done and well-written.
Yang Se Jong is fantastic in this drama. His acting is very detailed and intense. He deserved such a lead role so much. I can't wait to see what he will offer us in the next episodes. This young actor is like a treasure box.
Woo Do Hwan is very good also. He's got class and subtlelty.
I was very pleased by the fact that the two portrayed the friendship of their characters in such a natural way. Usually, character exposure in sageuk feels a bit forced, as the main protagonists tend to overact in the first episodes. However here we have two excellent young leads whose acting feels real from the very beginning. They were both perfectly casted.

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Part 1 of 2

Thank you for your recap, @lollypip. This plot is indeed galloping flat out, and we’ve only seen the second episode. Fingers crossed that we have a well-interwoven bunch of character arcs to see us through to the end. In the mean time, I’ve fastened my seatbelt. ;-)

As other Beanies have noted, the music is a bit off, but it’s not a deal killer for me. One of the ballads is kind of cheesy. But it’s not as egregious as some of the music in MOON LOVERS, which had a couple of off-the-rack generic Kpop turkeys that were totally inappropriate for a sageuk set in Goryeo. I still cringe when I think of that stupid “baby boy” number. Arrrrghh!

I have a theory about that anonymous letter that ratted out the Exam-Rigger-In-Chief (Lord Nam) – two of them, actually – and a hypothesis regarding doings at Ihwaru Information Agency & Gibang. I’ve been paying close attention to Deputy Chief Park Chi-do and his erstwhile henchman, Colonel Choi.

Regarding the letter, I initially assumed that Park Chi-do reported the barefaced larceny of Hwi’s first-place win. He was present at the testing and paid close attention to the proceedings. Park noticed the high sign that passed between Lord Nam and the examiner. Actually, if you want to get technical, everyone who watched the final duel would have to be bumped off to satisfy General Yi’s demand for secrecy because they witnessed brazen highway robbery, and gasped in unison.

What made it even worse was the fact that there were five runners-up who were on the dias when Sun-ho received his flowery antennas along with his commission. Hwi should have been up there as the second-place finisher. But Lord Nam was bound and determined to grind his former friend’s son into the dust.

I get the weird feeling that Park is on some kind of undercover assignment, and that he may be monitoring Hwi (and his sister?) – perhaps on behalf of a friend or colleague of his late father. It would not surprise me one bit if Dad, the Greatest Swordsman in Goryeo, had been the personal swordmaster of Yi Bang-won. Perhaps his hatred of Lord Nam has to do with a fast one the yangban pulled on the battlefield to discredit his teacher or to curry favor with General Yi – perhaps via a staged “rescue” of his superior.

That could explain why Park and Choi tailed Sun-ho and attacked him in the deserted alley. Sun-ho is perhaps being targeted the same way Hwi is. I got the distinct impression that he was beaten up and injured to thwart his performance on the military exam. What I didn’t foresee was Park skewering Colonel Choi, who seemed to have had his own agenda and was zealously pursuing the three putative poster pasters despite his boss’s best efforts to keep them out of jail. Choi may have known too much. Could he have been a plant or a spy for another faction? I suspect so.

- Continued -

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Part 2 of 2

The other possible anonymous letter writer is Hee-jae. I wouldn’t put it past her to blow the whistle on Lord Nam. Even if Madam Seo intercepted it – which I think she did because she made Hwa-wol and the maid sit out in the pouring rain – it’s possible that she could have ratted him out.

It took me a while to realize that the package Hee-jae brought back after delivering Madam Seo’s message to Lord Nam was the gold that would buy enough rice to feed the entire gibang staff for a year. Hee-jae was Madam Seo’s “bag man.”

I have a feeling that Madam Seo (Seo?! Are we going to find out that she is Hwi’s paternal auntie?!) is running an intelligence-gathering operation. I suspect that she might be working for, or in cahoots with, someone high up the food chain – and I do not mean Lord Nam. She comes across as callous and cold, but that may just be protective coloration. Considering that Hee-jae’s mother was killed while carrying a message to Madam Seo, I wonder if residual good will is the reason why the poster paster had been allowed to stay in her late mother’s room for so many years.

One thing that I am not happy about is the way in which Hee-jae implicated both young strangers in her posting of seditious handbills. Now they both have a price on their heads – except that Deputy Chief Park of the Capital Patrol seems to be in no rush to apprehend them.

There’s also the possibility that Sun-ho informed on his father, as he so sweetly whispered in Dad’s ear. What a great scene when he dropped that bombshell.

I have a sensation that Sun-ho is the late Goryeo analogue of Baek Yi-hyun in NOKDU FLOWER. Their fathers are both ruthlessly focused on gaining and holding onto power, and both have sired illegitimate offspring whom they abuse and neglect until it’s time to engineer another machination. His hyung’s death by drowning was particularly tragic.

I’m glad we got to see some of Sun-ho’s back story – and also that of Hee-jae, and how her path crossed with that of Hwi’s father. We still don’t know exactly how the two guys met. But I have a feeling that Seo Geom may have been secretly tailing the messenger to ensure that she safely delivered the message to Madam Seo.

Yay for the cameo by the Choi Young Memorial Tree from FAITH! I had earlier recognized it in CAN YOU HEAR MY HEART? and THE UNDATEABLES, in which you can readily see that it is situated high up on a hillside overlooking a wide valley.

Burning Questions: Where is Hwi's bow??? He was thrown out into the street without it. Will the inscription tip off his relationship to the greatest swordsman in Goryeo? Will Hee-jae retrieve it for him? Has Deputy Chief Park taken custody of it and passed it along to someone like Yi Bang-won, who
was probably a student of the original owner? Who is/was Hee-jae’s father?

-30-

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It was really bugging me that Hwi wasn't just in second place, does it make any sense for a country to discard its proven second strongest warrior? That does not compute. I also have trouble figuring out what Hee-Jae's big brainstorm was and why she left the note (I guessed she reported the rigged exam, but how? Is Lady Seo gathering information for Yi Seong-Gye, and that relationship provided Hee Jae a connection to him?) . I needed that to be made more clear but I think it's the only thing that explains the gisaeng and the maid kneeling in the rain. Somehow.
Anyway, the speed of this drama is daunting and I like it.

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@bbstl,
It's possible that Hwa-wol or the maid delivered Hee-jae's anonymous note to the Inspector General's Office as soon as they found it in the rice bowl, and were later punished after Madam Seo put 2+2 together. Seo herself could have ratted Nam out, too, but her employees' bumbling around in public would have implicated Ihwaru and brought down his wrath upon her. Madam Seo would have been way more discreet.

Hee-jae is clueless about subtlety as she antagonizes the police with her handbill exploits. While I now have a better understanding of where she's coming from, given how her mother was killed, her rabble-rousing comes across as petulant and ultimately non-productive.

And I hate how Hee-jae selfishly -- and falsely -- implicated two strangers to save her own skin. Neither of them seem to consider the longer-term fallout from her actions. Sun-ho knows that no one would believe him if he plead innocent to the charges, so he fights off the guards who attempt to apprehend him. But he fails to see the bigger picture. -- As for Hwi, who cares what happens to a lowly blacksmith?! He has nothing to lose by it, at least not the way Sun-ho does.

I agree that it doesn't make sense to disregard the second-place finisher in the military exam. Which is exactly the point the drama is making about how rotten to the core Goryeo had become. Even if the vaunted defender of the nation, Choi Young, seeks to reform the institutionalized corruption, it is such a lost cause that driving a stake through its heart and setting up a new regime, as Yi Seung-gye intended, was perhaps more likely to succeed.

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That's what I was thinking, that the gisaeng or maid delivered the note. But I can't get my mind around the mechanics of how it got to Yi Seong Gye without a lot more people knowing about it. Ignore me, I'm just in the weeds here.
I take your point about the exam results exposing just how deep the corruption goes. Our young men have been somewhat innocent of that knowledge until now that they are coming up against the system. They haven't had to employ long-range thinking before this.
I agree with you about Hee Jae showing real irresponsibility when she let the boys be implicated with her. But what else could she do, she wasn't going to admit her own guilt and even if she did, would the guards believe that it was only she who was responsible?
Well, anyway, I can't wait to see what happens next! Although I think Hwi's suffering will be very hard to watch.

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@bbstl,
Re: how the anonymous revelation of exam-rigging got to Yi Seung-gye's attention

There is actually one other person who knows about the exam being rigged: General Yi's silent minion / bodyguard, Hwang Sung-rok. He was right there in the woods with them, but no one thinks about him because he's basically a servant. It's the same way that no one seems to think about holding their tongues around maids or gisaengs. He comes across to me as a potential spy and/or assassin, and he's probably not the only one in General Yi's employ. I'm sure Yi has assets in all the ministries and offices. I've suspected Park Chi-do, Deputy Chief of the Capital Patrol, of being one of Yi's people as well, based on how closely he was keeping tabs on Hwi and Sun-ho, yet refrained from bringing them in on illegal posting / sedition charges.

I'm not sure that I actually believe the reason for Yi Seung-gye's gag order on the bribery. Yes, on one hand, it would undermine public confidence in the merit exam system. But since when have any of the fat cats cared what the public thinks? They just kill or imprison rabble-rousers. On the other hand, as a career military officer, he may have been outraged that someone dared mess with his future subordinates. If Yi were truly as much of a straight arrow as he makes out to be, he wouldn't have let Nam get away with it -- even if he had saved Yi's neck in the past.

I got the distinct impression that Sun-ho was being targeted by Park when he and Colonel Choi went after him in the alley. Was Park acting alone, or on someone's orders? I don't know yet.

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@pakalanapikake

I like the idea that Seo hwi's father had some connection to Bang-won as his teacher of some sort. That would make Hwi and Bang-won's ally strong since they have that personal connection.

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@kiara,
It would also explain why Bang-won bears such an enormous grudge against Lord Nam.

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@pakalanapikake

Yes and I can't wait for the next recap so we can talk freely without spoilers.

I'm in heaven with this show. It's so worth waiting for.

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It's coming soon, I'm almost finished!

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@lollypip

Please take your time. It's worth the wait and we would love for you to sleep and take care of your health first. ❤️😘

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The fight scenes and the battle could do without music. Ok just how about less music lol.

Ahn Nae-sang's Lord Nam is the most ambitious of them all but I like how he plays it cool. Watch out Yi Seong-gye.

Will talk more about Park in the next episode.

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@kiara,
Ahn Nae-sang is hitting it out of the park with his portrayal of Nam. His low-key malevolence makes me wonder what he's up to, and why. He has such an ax to grind against Hwi that I cannot wait to find out why he's so vengeful. I don't think it's just because he resents his bastard son's friend who is more gifted than his own offspring. I'm guessing bad blood -- or sour grapes on steroids -- between him and the Greatest Swordsman in Goryeo.

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... or there was a woman who came between them! Bua-ha-ha! It is kdrama, after all 😉

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I won't be surprised if they pull a past triangle with Hee-jae's mother lol.

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Ooh! Good one. 👍🏼

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Haha it's probably sour grapes on steroids.

I totally get why he is a fictional character. Nam Eun was no match for Yi Bang-won but Lord Nam is more dangerous and strategically manipulating.

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Wow .. that so .. fast. Kisses at episode 2 and the friendship broken?!
I'm so surprise by how fast the story goes.

I AM sold for having second lead syndrome. And I just realized that my other 2nd lead syndrome also have name Sun-ho (Love Alarm) .. what the heck!

So far I haven't really into Hee-jae yet, again this reminds me of Gaksital where the female lead is quite awesome but Jin Se Yun looks like can't catch up with both male leads and I feels that it goes with Seolyoun. Se Jong and Do Hwan acting are so amazing and surpass her. Maybe due to their characters but I hope theirs will grow in the future.

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I actually continued with the show after episode 1 after the scene of Hwi and Heejae fighting off guards admist the colourful fabric because I found the choice of music used intriguing.

I noticed the use of modern pieces and music tracks in this period drama and it is a refreshing take on the melodramatic soundtrack commonly heard. I like that and I disagree in this instance that not "hearing" the background track is better. I feel the music is tastefully and wisely done, elevating the scenes without taking away from the storytelling

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