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My Country: The New Age: Episode 5

We skip ahead to the next turbulent time in Joseon’s history — Yi Seong-gye has crowned himself king, and the country wonders who he will make his crown prince. Our heroes find themselves embroiled in the conflict, playing both sides on the whims of their superiors. Their success or failure will determine the future of the country, not to mention the directions their own lives and relationships will take.

 
EPISODE 5 RECAP

It’s the year 1392, the first year off Yi Seong-gye’s reign as KING TAEJO after overthrowing the Goryeo dynasty in 1988. Yi Bang-won (now also known as Prince Jeongan) arrives at the palace and refuses to leave despite being told the king isn’t available. King Taejo deliberately lets Bang-won stand outside for several hours while he listens to now-prince Bang-seok, the youngest of his eight sons, recite his lessons.

Eventually Bang-won begins bellowing at the top of his lungs, but instead of letting him in, King Taejo steps outside and says that Bang-won has seen him, so now he may leave. Bang-won wants to discuss the fact that King Taejo will be choosing his successor soon, and he even deep-bows as he begs King Taejo to remember that only a legitimate son (from a first wife) can inherit the throne.

He’s aware that King Taejo favors Bang-won, the son of his second wife Lady Kang (now QUEEN SINDEOK), and he accuses his father of letting himself be swayed by a woman. King Taejo basically tells him to mind his own business and goes back inside. He tells Bang-seok not to let Bang-won scare him, but Queen Sindeok notes that it’s King Taejo who seems to be scared of Bang-won.

On his way out of the palace, Bang-won runs into Sun-ho, who now works as a royal inspector. Sun-ho politely asks Bang-won to wear his uniform when he visits the palace, but Bang-won just grumbles that illegitimate sons always cause problems. Sun-ho points out that the new laws allow illegitimate children to be treated equally, but Bang-won growls that that will change when he’s king.

Keeping his composure, Sun-ho also asks Bang-won to dismount from his horse inside the palace. Bang-won turns a corner and sees his horse lying dead with its throat slit. Bang-won chuckles that Sun-ho’s father would have killed the gatekeeper instead — he tells Sun-ho that he’s different from his father, and that he can take that as a compliment.

Meanwhile, Hwi looks at the secret letter he found in his father’s armor. He’d made a deal with Lady Seo to help him gather information on his Lord Nam-appointed target, Yi Bang-won, and in exchange she’d ordered him to stay away from Hee-jae so as not to risk putting her in danger. Several years later, he now has an entire wall papered with sketches, maps, and information on Bang-won and anyone else who might be important for his assignment… including Hee-jae.

His current target is General Jung Sa-jeong, Bang-won’s closest adviser. Hwi tells Sun-ho that Grand General Jung is a scoundrel, the type of man who kills and rapes for fun. Sun-ho’s job is to talk to Grand General Jung and win points with the king, then Sun-ho will kill him and win over Bang-won.

Grand General Jung frequents a particular gambling house, and Moon-bok pays one of the serving ladies to tell him how many men Grand General Jung has guarding him while he plays. Moon-bok is nervous about storming the place with so many armed men around until Hwi reminds him of the money that’s inside, and he’s all in. Ha, some things never change.

They muscle their way inside together and with Jung-beom’s help, they fight anyone who doesn’t run away. Grand General Jung is playing a high-stakes game in a private room, but the brawl doesn’t strike him as unusual for a gambling house.

He continues the game against his bodyguard’s advice, but his opponent growls that he’s obviously a gambling addict, and HAHA, it’s Chi-do! Chi-do takes care of Grand General Jung’s bodyguard while the others clear out the main room, then they tie Grand General Jung to a post and leave him there for Sung-rok, who’s still working as Sun-ho’s right-hand man, to arrest.

Hwi’s gang goes back to their home and count the money that Moon-bok squirreled out of the gambling house. Moon-bok jokes that he wants to get so rich he can make kimchi out of wild ginseng, and he says they should find Chi-do a nice lady. Chi-do says he’s happier living with them, and they stare at him like he’s lost his marbles, ha.

Hee-jae is still close to Queen Sindeok, as she once predicted. On the way to the palace and she gets wistful when she passes a kite seller, which reminds her of that one happy day she spent with Hwi. She was told that Hwi died on the battlefield, and his name was even on the list of the dead.

Hwi still has the cloth Hee-jae tied around his head when he was injured — he keeps it wrapped around his bow. He knows that Hee-jae believes him dead because he watches her, and he was there when she floated a lantern on the river in remembrance of him.

At the palace, Hee-jae is still frosty towards Sun-ho. The queen is concerned about the upcoming decision of crown prince, aware that the officials and princes will object if he chooses Bang-seok. Sun-ho proposes that they dig up dirt on the other princes to pressure the officials.

Hee-jae figures that King Taejo favors Bang-seok because the younger the crown prince is, the longer he gets to stay on the throne. She says that King Taejo isn’t the only one who feels that way and, staring pointedly at Lord Nam, she warns Queen Sindeok to be wary of people who are nice to her. Lord Nam quips that Hee-jae is known as a minister in a dress, and Hee-jae fires back that Lord Nam is called a king in a gat.

Backing off, Lord Nam says that they need to act before Bang-won does. The king plans to abolish private armies as soon as Bang-seok is made crown prince, effectively stripping Bang-won and his brothers of their ability to fight, then, Lord Nam says, “We will kill them all.”

He somehow makes it sound like a threat towards Hee-jae as well, and the queen sees the animosity between them. In private Hee-jae asks to participate in the tributary trade so that she can use the money to stop the officials. She’s confident she can stop Bang-won too, as long as she can predict his actions.

Afterward, Sun-ho starts to apologize to Hee-jae for his father, but she says Lord Nam is right — the conflict won’t end until one side is exterminated. Sun-ho asks what she means to buy with the money from the trade, and she says vaguely, “The kind of power that can get a mere inspector fired.” He chuckles that he needs to get on her good side, but she says seriously that she doesn’t want to lose anyone else she cares about.

She says that she knows Hwi died because of his father, not Sun-ho as he claims, and tells him to do what he feels is right. She asks hopefully about a rumor that some of the advance army came back from Liaodong, but Sun-ho shuts that down, insisting that nobody came back alive.

He joins Sung-rok, who has a very furious Grand General Jung tied up in a shed. Sun-ho brings up an incident in which Grand General Jung got drunk and killed a woman, yet he was never investigated because she was lowborn and it’s not illegal, so they had to arrest him for gambling.

Grand General Jung is close to Bang-won and his brothers, so Sun-ho offers him a deal — write down everything he knows on them, and he won’t die today. He does, though Sun-ho tells Sung-rok that it will only temporarily save his life, since Bang-won will kill him if he’s not beheaded for gambling first.

Hwi keeps an eye on Yeon from a distance, and on the one day per month she’s allowed to leave Lord Nam’s house, he follows her to the marketplace. One of Lord Nam’s men goes with her, but he barely pays attention, so Hwi is the only one who sees a pickpocket steal Yeon’s money pouch.

He beats up the guy and gets the pouch back, and since Yeon’s escort is nowhere to be seen, Hwi takes the pouch to her directly. He quickly slips away, but he goes right back to yell at her for not paying attention. HAHA, he can’t help being the big brother.

Unfortunately, Yeon recognizes him from the time she saw him at Lord Nam’s house. She tells him proudly that she never forgets anything (oof, Hwi’s face), then she uses him as a model for some shoes she wants to buy Sun-ho for his birthday tomorrow.

Hwi tries to leave again, but he spots thug leader Ganggae approaching with his men. Ganggae runs the gambling house that Hwi and his friends trashed, and Hwi knows that he’s coming for him. He yells at Yeon to run, forgetting himself and using her name.

He hugs Ganggae like they’re friends and whispers that there are soldiers everywhere today, so they need to talk somewhere private. He successfully prevents Ganggae from seeing Yeon, but unfortunately, Lord Nam’s man witnessed Hwi and Yeon together.

Hwi takes Ganggae to a little restaurant, and Ganggae tells his minion to chop off his head. When the man draws his sword, he takes an arrow to the knee… heh, Chi-do is there, and he calls out calmly that he has twelve more arrows. Ganggae sneers that Hwi only has one backup, until Jung-beom and Moon-bok wave at him from the next table and he wisely agrees to talk.

Hwi proposes they put an end to their fighting, and he pays Ganggae for the damage to the gambling house with a pile of furs. He wants to run the gambling house together, fifty-fifty, and Ganggae says he’ll think about it.

Sun-ho gives Grand General Jung’s notes on the princes to Lord Nam, but he’d refused to reveal any information on Bang-won, and Lord Nam snarls that Sun-ho’s whole purpose is to bring down Bang-won. He’s pleased to hear that Hwi has begun his plan, but he warns Sun-ho not to trust Hwi or he’ll turn on them.

Having heard what happened in the market, Lord Nam asks if Hwi would risk his life for a sister who doesn’t remember him — Sun-ho says he would, something Lord Nam can’t understand. Lord Nam tells Sun-ho to get Hwi to cut off Yeon or do it himself, otherwise Lord Nam will.

Later that night, Hwi sneaks into Lord Nam’s house to talk to Sun-ho about Yeon getting pickpocketed while her escort wasn’t paying attention, but Sun-ho says that Hwi put her in more danger than the pickpocket. Hwi hides behind a screen when Yeon brings Sun-ho tea, accidentally overhearing their conversation.

Yeon calls out Sun-ho for always smiling around her, even when she knows he’s not happy. She says he can cry to her since he has nobody else to cry to, and Sun-ho almost lets his smile slip before pulling it back up and cracking a joke. Yeon says she met someone in the market who knows her name, and Sun-ho promises to take her to the market again tomorrow.

When she leaves, Sun-ho tells Hwi to be in the market tomorrow at noon so that he can fix this mess: “Make sure she doesn’t think of you again. It’s the best you can do for her.”

King Taejo calls Bang-won to the palace to discuss his behavior the other day. He lists the faults of Bang-won’s older brothers (taken from Grand General Jung’s notes), which consist of alcoholism, extreme incompetence, and flagrant carousing, among other things. All of this makes them unsuitable candidates for crown prince, and King Taejo asks Bang-won if he thinks he’s capable.

In front of Queen Sindeok, Sun-ho, Hee-jae, and many courtiers, he says that he’ll let Bang-won choose who becomes crown prince. Cornered and outmaneuvered, Bang-won is forced to name Bang-seok, and King Taejo grins triumphantly. When he leaves the palace, Bang-won growls that only two people know about his brother’s alcohol problem… himself, and Grand General Jung.

Later, Sun-ho escorts Hee-jae home, and Hwa-wol meets them at the gates. As he’s leaving, Grand General Jung passes by and they exchange glares. Grand General Jung asks his men who the women are, and he’s told that Hee-jae is one of the queen’s favorites so not to be messed with, but Hwa-wol is just a gisaeng.

Hwa-wol asks Hee-jae to visit Lady Seo, who seems to be getting sicker lately. Hee-jae asks about Hwi, but Hwa-wol says sadly that her inquiries haven’t turned anything up. Hwa-wol heads back to Ihwaru with one of Grand General Jung’s men tailing her.

Anxious to see Yeon again, Hwi primps for hours, suffering the teasing of his friends. Moon-bok asks if he has a hot date, but Hwi just says that this may be the last time he sees the lady so he wants to look nice.

When it’s time for Yeon and Sun-ho to leave for the market, Sun-ho mentions the shoes he found waiting for him this morning, joking that he has an admirer. They run into Hwi “by accident,” and awww, he looks so shy when Yeon notices how nicely he cleans up. She tells Sun-ho that Hwi is the man who helped her yesterday, and Hwi tries to work up the courage to say something to chase her off.

When Hwi hesitates for too long, Sun-ho realizes that he needs to step in. He tells Yeon that Hwi is a thug frequently covered in blood, who uses violence to solve his problems. He asks Hwi if he knows Yeon’s name because he was planning to kidnap her for ransom.

Growing angry, Hwi snarls that it’s Sun-ho and his father who threaten people and treat them like dogs. Yeon bristles at the way Hwi speaks of Lord Nam, and she snaps that someone like him can’t speak to someone like Sun-ho that way. She storms off and Sun-ho follows her, leaving Hwi with tears streaming down his face.

Despite being cool in the moment, what he was forced to do upsets Sun-ho to the point that he loses his temper during archery practice. Lord Nam tells him that he did well severing the relationship (between Hwi and Yeon), and Sun-ho sneers that he had a good teacher.

Lord Nam asks if he still resents what happened with his mother, yelling that she killed herself because Sun-ho couldn’t let her go. Sun-ho screams that he’s wrong — she did it because Lord Nam stole him from his mother.

That evening, Grand General Jung visits Ihwaru, taking special interest in Hwa-wol. Hee-jae arrives to see Lady Seo, but when she enters the property, she finds people running around in fear and Hwa-wol bleeding heavily from a head wound. Grand General Jung drunkenly waves a bloody wooden club around, and he laughs uproariously when he sees Hee-jae.

He staggers over to Hee-jae and slurs that he might take her as his concubine, but she just spits that he’s a drunken dog. Grand General Jung kicks her, and bodyguard Gyeol grips his sword while Hee-jae yells at him to do his job. But Grand General Jung throws his status as a founding contributor of the new nation around, daring anyone to come at him, and Gyeol chickens out.

Hee-jae grabs Gyeol’s sword and points it at Grand General Jung. She’s ready to take him on, but Lady Seo barks at her to stop and slaps her for daring to threaten Grand General Jung. Lady Seo apologizes profusely to Grand General Jung, and once he’s gone, she calls for a doctor to treat Hwa-wol.

Hee-jae watches over Hwa-wol all night, and in the morning, Lady Seo asks to talk to her. She seems genuinely worried about Hee-jae, who apologizes for losing her temper. She says that her closeness with the queen made her forget her status, but Lady Seo says that she learned a valid lesson about recklessness.

With actual admiration in her eyes (maybe even love?), Lady Seo tells Hee-jae that at least she didn’t let Grand General Jung intimidate her. She says she’s relieved to know that Hee-jae can handle herself, but that it also worries her, then she starts gasping for air and leaves.

Bang-won sends Tae-ryong to hire someone to kill Grand General Jung. Tae-ryong approaches Ganggae for the job, instructing him to take only a few, dispensable men. Ganggae cackles that he has the perfect person in mind. He approaches Hwi and his men, piquing Hwi’s interest by offering to pay him half to make the kill himself.

Grand General Jung is told that Bang-won wants to see him, and he’s taken to Ihwaru. Not long after, Ganggae arrives with Hwi and several other assassins.

Meanwhile, Sung-rok reports to Sun-ho that Ganggae and Hwi are on the move. Sun-ho goes to see King Taejo and tells him that if Bang-won and Grand General Jung join forces, they’ll jointly command a formidable private army. King Taejo notes that this wasn’t in Lord Nam’s report, and Sun-ho says that it’s because he didn’t tell his father. KY asks who else knows this, and Sun-ho says, “Now and for years to come, it will only be you.” King Taejo asks what he should do with Grand General Jung, so King Taejo tells him that Grand General Jung will die tonight.

While Grand General Jung waits for what he thinks is a meeting with Bang-won, Ganggae and his men burst into Ihwaru and begin killing Grand General Jung’s men. Hee-jae is there, and she runs to see what the commotion is about. She spots one fighter who seems familiar, but his face is covered with a mask.

Hwi fights his way to Grand General Jung, who grabs a sword to fight back. Within seconds, Hwi impales Grand General Jung on his sword, and as he’s dying, Grand General Jung pulls off Hwi’s mask. Hee-jae stares in shock at the face of the man she was told had died four years ago.

She breathes his name, and Hwi turns to look at her. After a long moment he tries to run, but Hee-jae grabs his hand and stops him. She refuses to let go, and Hwi turns to her again, tears welling up in both their eyes.

 
COMMENTS

Oh boy, this is going to change everything. I’m not sure what will change, but Lady Seo told Hwi to stay away from Hee-jae for a reason, and bless the boy but he really tried. Hwi just has the worst luck, and the fact that Hee-jae never gave up on finding him worked against him in this case. I don’t know what will happen next, but I’m sure that Hwi isn’t going to be able to shake Hee-jae as easily as he did Yeon.

This episode helped me understand Sun-ho’s position a bit better, and some of why he does the things he does. I still don’t understand why he’s protecting his father unless it’s because Lord Nam is his only way to gain the position and power he needs to begin earning his own. That’s pretty selfish, but I understand why he feels he needs that power, especially with Bang-won threatening to take the throne and prevent illegitimate sons from holding government positions. More than that, I could see in this episode that Sun-ho isn’t being cruel to Hwi because he wants to, or because it’s how he really feels… he’s trying to keep both Hwi and Yeon from attracting Lord Nam’s attention and putting them in danger, and if he has to be the bad guy to do that, Sun-ho is willing to play that part. It’s hard to watch, because we also see his softer moments with Yeon and even with Hee-jae, when it’s clear that this is tearing Sun-ho apart emotionally but he doesn’t have any other choice.

I liked Hee-jae in this episode more than I have previously, probably because we got to see more of her. As a character, I think she’s smart, brave, and insightful, and with her ability to put random clues together and read people’s intentions and motives, she’s found a suitable calling in advising Queen Sindeok. I’m still not sure what purpose she serves in the larger story other than to come between Hwi and Sun-ho, but I’m hoping it’s more than that. Hee-jae has an interesting backstory with her mother having also been a spy and her complicated relationship with Lady Seo, not to mention her brain and fearless spirit, so I hope she’s not wasted as a simple love interest and gets to do more as an autonomous, independent woman.

Though I don’t understand why Hee-jae hasn’t been able to find Hwi in four years when apparently he’s right there in town using his real name, I’m glad that Hwi is still tight with his little band and finding ways to fight back against the bad guys. It’s also confusing why it’s taken him four years to fulfill the task Lord Nam gave him to kill Bang-won… it feels like the story needed to skip forward to King Taejo’s reign, but didn’t have a good way to fill the characters’ time during those four years, so they’re just hoping we won’t notice. I’ll let it slide (this one time), since the plot has otherwise been pretty solid, but I hope the writer doesn’t get into the habit of assuming the viewers won’t spot these pretty big gaps in information. Regardless, I do still find the maneuverings of the characters interesting, and I think things will get exciting once Bang-won and Hwi meet. We’ve seen that somehow, Hwi changes from trying to kill Bang-won to being one of his most trusted soldiers, and the closer we get to that moment, the more excited I am to see it play out.

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the characterizationof yi bang won and yi song gye in this drama are very different with them at "six flying dragon". I like their personalities better at SFD, but think that they're actually closer like what "my country" potrayed. and this cause me quite bit confusion which one is actually their "true selves".

and even tho most people thinking that sun ho compromising his moral compas because he wants to gain recognitions from his father, I dont think the same. I think his purpose is purely to gain power, power more than what his father has. he hates his father. he doesn't hungry for his father acknowledgement. but since so far he cant stand against his father, he is playing with the rules of game his father set. even tho we saw at the end he trying to protect his father from hwi, I dont think it's an action out of love or respect bit more to responsibility? not sure still.

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His purpose is absolutely to gain power. I agree with you . It would be amiss of us to moralise him simply because all he wants is power . Power is neither moral but is absolute. Sun Ho is simply a victim of his circumstances and has thus chosen to be a vulture. Vultures are neither good or bad but are the clean up crew of nature.

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MY COUNTRY is rather bold when it comes to it's characters. Yi Seong-gye and Yi Bang-won's intention and ambition is made clearer than what was written on the history books.
Before the deployment to Liaodong, General Yi had said that his war is not going to be at Liaodong but right here in the capital.

This show only has 16 eps with very few historical figures than the standard faction sageuks like "Princess Man." Thankfully the weight of the history is carried by two magnificent actors.

I think Sun-ho and Bang-won are kind of similar in a way. They both want recognition from their own father except Bang-won was loved by his and Sun-ho wasn't.
They both want to gain power because they felt that they have been wronged. One is being overlooked for his major contributions and the other is a victim of his own birth status. It's not Sun-ho's fault that he became an illegitimate child to be mocked and trodden on because of his father's doing.

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I'm glad that this is a shorter sageuk myself, with less characters. Bang-won is certainly one of the most interesting people in history and a whole show just about him would probably be more than enough to fill 160 hours. The character study between Sun-ho and Bang-won would be a great drama as well. These two are going to butt heads all drama and if we get more of them and Nam Jeon, I wouldn't complain. That's saying a lot for me who hates all that political posturing.

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It'll be great if they'll make a sageuk based on Yi Bang-won's early life before he became King Taejong. (SFD briefly showed him as a young boy).

Unlike some of his older brothers who were born in Yuan territories, Bang-won was born in Goryeo (Hamhŭng). A country bumpkin original.

I'd love to see more of the women behind Yi Bang-won. His mother especially and his wife before he became king.

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Thank you for the recap, @lollypip 😘😘😘🤗🤗🤗

I wish I could like Hee Jae more, but I just can’t 🤷🏻‍♀️ I don’t see the purpose of her character other than being VERY forcefully written in as the romantic part of the overall plot—when we don’t even need a love line when the story and history of this drama is already so rich— but Kdrama 🙄🙄🙄🙄

I have always had a sympathetic heart for Sun Ho, and I’m glad that it’s beginning to seem like I’m not the only one 😉☺️☺️ (I’m lookin’ at you, @lollypip). I’ve always seem him as the tragic one who’s basically at his wits end because I see that most—if not all— the choices he’s made thus far and the people he’s interacted with this entire time, the people he’s made friends with, and the people he continues to get closer to is all because he’s trying to keep one person or another from killing someone he cares for (Hwi, Yeon, Hee Jae) because he’s basically lost out in everything else—he’s got no friendships, love interest, or family anymore— and he’s the string that’s being pulled super, super tight at all ends and is ready to snap at any moment 😰

THANK GOODNESS Hwi seems like he’s mellowed out a bit the last 4 years and is more conscious of the people around him and the implications of his actions on said people around him if he were to make an impulsive wrong move 🤞🏻🤞🏻

Last week’s episodes showed us that Hwi & Bang Won got close, but this episode completely flipped that in showing us that Sun Ho & Bang Won also interact—on a regular basis in the palace, too, it seems— so it’ll be interesting to see how things end up bring Hwi as Bang Won’s final right hand man in the big battle at the top of the drama.

... I feel like the big battle at the top of the drama will always be the thing that grounds be and will be what makes me question things leading up back to it.

... Well, that’s 4 out of the 10 years already had. We shall see what the next 6 will be like for our trio

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Oooh I just realized all of my typos 😅😅 Sorry, readers lol

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I love Hee jae's character, i like that she's straightforward, smart, observant, has clear goals and gets things done, not afraid to speak, rised in a kisaeng house but she didn't become a kisaeng, yes not without flaws but who doesn't have flaws and she's trying to gain power on her own no being somebody's puppet, like i don't see what bigger purpose Sunho have more than Heejae beside the fact that he's the boy who betrayed his friend to gain power. All 3 leads are trying to gain power on their own and each have different but similar background stories and her story isn't less tragic than any of them. I think some people don't like her because she's in a love triangle, which isn't even her fault and it isn't even a love triangle when she turned down Sunho the moment he spoke (which is another thing i liked about her, the girl didn't give him any hope or used him, he told him off).

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@rise23
For me, if her character was written to be even more bold and more independent, and not trying to gain attention and power by being the right hand woman of the queen—or anyone else that is a powerful figure in a sense— but actually standing on her own, then I think I could overlook the fact that I only see her being forcibly written in as a romantic interest... I still see it as a triangle because Sun Ho still has feelings for her, and she’s still a part of the reasoning that he does what he does— love triangle ps don’t need to have all parts of it (the people) have all of their feelings returned

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And also, she’s done nothing to move the plot along 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ That’s another reason I find her character unnecessary

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Was thinking the same thing too.

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All the mains are being somebody's hand lol, Sunho is using his father to gain power, he doesn't do it individually and by himself, he literally got into miliary and where he is because his father pulled some strings for him to win the exam, at least she got where she is by herself, how is any different than her being the queen's hand (which based on preview will leave the queen in ep 9) and how is her fault that Sunho has feelings for her? She didn't ask for it and never did something to trigger his feelings either. The romantic interested while being there was never pushed into your face, they barely have scenes together and is like 1 per episode at the most. I don't see her less important than Sunho, both are similar to me, probably why i don't see them together.

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I never said it was hers, or anyone’s, fault that Sun Ho has feelings for her and I have also never said that the romance was pushed into my face

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True . I really don’t like Hui Jae . She’s very big headed and some gratitude would be great coming from her side . She’s a very self involved person .

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I don’t mind selfish characters, it makes things more interesting, but even then, with all the traits that she has, the potential just stops there— she’s an unnecessary love interest who does nothing to move the plot along

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Very true . There’s nothing wrong with selfish characters . A character be it cinematic or literary should 1) be necessary and thus engaging . 2) consist of dramatic consequence that moves the plot along and tells the story at large . 3) be intentional by the writer and thus translate original intention by actions that make dramatic sense .

Hui Jae is none of these. Perhaps it’s because ( I have been doing some outside reading inspired by @kiara and her historical contributions) and I have learnt that Hwi and Hui Jae are the purely fictional characters and everyone else has some historical factual but deduced narrative . Perhaps it was shortsighted of the writers to put the two purely fictional characters together ? What do you think ?

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In terms of fictionality, I’m okay with it, because there have been times past—and I’m sure it will continue on in the future— where fictional writers were written in alongside a writer’s depiction of a historical figure and things have worked out fine (“Moonlight Drawn By Clouds” comes to mind... Not only did this drama fill its world and story full of fictional characters alongside real life historical ones, it also took the real life story of a historical figure and wrote some fiction into it, and it did everything well and made it seamless).
To me, the issues lie in a character that’s only written for ONE PURPOSE and ONE JOB and nothing else outside of that, which in turn, doesn’t move the story along and isn’t even worth the time even even if they were a character (side characters, even though will not help to move the main plot along, will help to provide comic relief and a breath of fresh air to everything else going on in the main plot), because in the long run, these types of characters will tend to break up the flow of the storytelling and the main conflict of the overall plot or provide lots of WTF-ery and confusing moments

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Really? With all she has gone through, you really think this. Seems like some sexism from you.

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Where did you get sexism from...??? 🧐🧐🧐
When I say traits, I mean her wits, her smarts, her initiative to do things to change her own fate & destiny.....

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Agree. My only complaint (very little complaint) about this show is hui jae. I dont think her presence is quite necessary, moreover as a lead who involved in triangle love betwee hwi and sun ho. I mean hwi and sun hoo already have a lot on their head and heart about each other, i don’t think tringle love needed here.

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Agree. She’s there but does nothing to move the plot along, and it feels like she’s unnecessarily written in, and even though things move along for her, she and her part of the drama makes no dent or changes in the overall plot of the drama, her part feels very separated from everything else

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It looks to me that she is groomed to be the next leader of Ihwaru, which will play a part in the power struggle between Bang Won and Dad. I am still not clear on what it does or where it stands aside from gathering useful information. I think we have to look further down the episodes to decide on Hee Jae. I totally agree on the loveline. It is utterly unnecessary and forced. But who knows? Maybe writer got something in mind for that. Surprise me, show!

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Yeah, I think she’ll be the next leader of Ihwaru which is fine, but I wish they’d just made her an important information broker from the start and skipped the loveline. I would have taken a childhood friend trope over the loveline. I just can’t take it seriously.

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I think of Ihwaru as Rick’s in Casablanca. It’s a place where various factions van meet, talk, plot, carouse, become allies, ex-allies, enemies, whatever - a needed neutral territory during times of chaos.

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@msrabbit
*pulls up a chair beside you to sit and wait for said surprise*

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@missh
Right?? That’s what I mean!! If she’s meant to be important, if she’s meant to be an important part of the overall plot of things, then just show it from the get-go. Don’t give us all of this unnecessary love line fluff. I get it that love lines are supposed to help soften our characters up and to bring a little humanity back into the story, but in this case, there are tons of other things that can do that, and a love line isn’t one of them

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@hebang
The ancient version of a jjimjibang (sauna) 😂😂😂😂

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@bebeswtz and @missh
She can't be good already. She is supposed to be young and inexperienced still. And also I think it is to make her be at the same level as the two male leads.

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I think Hae Jee is fine. There have been worse love interests. I too hope she has more in the story.

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@missrabbit @amy1009
I anticipate the day that her character will do something more for me 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻 It’s greatly possible that many of you are right and things will get better when we will be shown that she’s doing what she’s doing because she’s being trained to be the next leader/Head Lady of Ihwaru

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@msrabbit,

Hee-jae's mother was a spy / intelligence agent at Ihwaru. Following the logic of the time, that might mean the daughter has been following in her mother's espionage footsteps. That could explain why she is not a gisaeng. (Mom may have started out as a gisaeng. Or she may have been a spy who found it to be a useful cover for gaining access to pillow talk à la Mata Hari.) Since Ihwaru operates on a need-to-know basis, Hee-jae is not privy to Madam Seo's long-term plans or reasons for doing what she does.

If Hee-jae is indeed a trainee spy, it would stand to reason that she may not have been very good at field work in the beginning when she was nearly apprehended as the "poster paster." In the intervening years she has developed keen strategic insight, so she is probably more of an analyst than a field agent.

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Thanks, @pakalanapikake
I forgot that part of her history. I guess because we only have 16 episodes, writer simply didn't have time to develop everything. I still find her character development lacking.
Take for instance her feeling for Hwi. Sure, I'll for Yang Se Jong at first glance too. 😍 But not to the extent she does. Especially not with Sun Ho at the other end of the triangle. The show is trying hard to convince us that it's because of her debt to Hwi's dad, but why am I not convinced?

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@msrabbit, @pakalanapikake
I think Hee-jae's feelings for Hwi is not just romantic attraction but also because of her connection to Hwi's father.
When Seo Geom saved her she told him that she will pay him back and he said with high interest. He wasn't serious about it of course but it's in her mind.
She must have felt indebted to him all these years and she finally got a chance to pay him back by protecting his son.
What I don't understand is, why is she keeping it from Hwi? Why doesn't she tell him that she knew his father?

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@kiara October 29, 2019 at 7:04 AM, cc: @msrabbit, @bebeswtz, @hebang FlyingTool,

Regarding Hee-jae, Seo Geom saved her life under terrifying circumstances, so I can understand why she feels indebted to him and his descendants. When she earnestly told him she'd pay him back and he replied, "With high interest," I couldn't tell if he were being facetious. I've found Yu Oh-seong to be an imposing actor (when he wasn't being as mad as a hatter in FAITH), and maybe little Hee-jae took his words at face value. It doesn't hurt that his kids have grown up to be decent human beings and good-looking to boot.

Now that I think of it, has Madame Seo been monitoring Hwi and Yeon all these years? Would she have been aware of Park Chi-do's doing the same? I feel as if I'm watching MAD Magazine's "Spy vs. Spy" -- LOL!

Like Kiara, I do not understand why the heck Hee-jae has not told Hwi about his father's rescuing her as a child. Maybe because she doesn't want him to feel sorry for her that her spy mom was killed in the line of duty? Or is it some kind of test that he's supposed to figure out for himself how his father ran afoul of Lord Nam so he can dig up proof of the yangban's evil schemes -- and lots of other incriminating evidence of treason, for instance? (Egads, now I'm beginning to conflate Hwi with bloodhound police officer Hwang Yong-shik in WHEN THE CAMELLIA BLOOMS!) Minus insight into her motives, I find Hee-jae's secrecy (plausible deniability?) in this instance to be needlessly irritating as a viewer, and even counterproductive for Hwi.

I'm still wondering about the surnames of Madame Seo and Hwi's family. Are they kin? Have her espionage activities been of the kind that could get her and all her relatives killed? Or is Seo just a really common surname in that time and place?

FlyingTool's observation that Ihwaru is Goryeo's version of Rick's place in CASABLANCA is apt. Plus it's got its own precursor of Dal-moon's intel operation from HAECHI in a back room somewhere. (Cue aegyo to wheedle for Park Hoon cameo.)

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@pakalanapikake @kiara
I can't really pinpoint what is it that is off about Hee Jae. It's like I am seeing different versions of her in different situation. There is this smart and analytical HJ, who keep a book of profile detailing everyone's life. Then, we've got hot-headed rebellious HJ who defies Madame Seo and likes to do whatever she likes. There is also head-over-heel in love HJ, who when it comes to Hwi, doesn't seem to think at all. There is also traumatized HJ, who just.. shakes in anger? I don't know. Somehow the sum of those parts does not equal the Hee Jae that the show wants us to love. Perhaps it's the acting, the writing, or both. I can't quite tell yet.

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@msrabbit October 29, 2019 at 10:25 AM

Ah, I see what you mean. I suspect that the conflicting iterations of Hee-jae may be aggravated by the elapsed time, with development occurring off screen. I sense that the telling vs. showing of her character development is also contributing to the impression that Hee-jae as a character is not as fleshed out as the male leads. I have to keep reminding myself that time really has passed, and that people can and do evolve over time.

Here's another consideration: Like many real people, Hee-jae may speak or act differently depending on whom she's with at any one time. Madame Seo placated the drunken bully Grand General Jung -- although I would have loved to see her ream him a new one, if only he weren't so powerful. It may be that Hee-jae is finally growing up and taking a page from her intelligent & survival-minded mentor.

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@pakalanapikake I sincerely hope so. I really want to love her and I believe the writer has something great for her to do than just be an additional wedge between Hwi and Sun Ho.

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@msrabbit
I think it's both the writing and the acting. It seems to me that the writer is trying to gather to her strength and weaknesses.

For sure she is the darling princess of Ihwaru who is privileged to doing whatever she wants while the other girls are doing double duties.
She abandoned everyone and she just waltzed right back in and give orders.
I don't blame the other gisaeng for throwing it back at her face. Where is her loyalty?

She is smart when it comes to collecting crucial information but it seems like that what's left for her in the future is protecting Hwi. She keeps talking about stepping in like she hasn't made Hwi's business hers in the first place.

I don't want to harp on her too much because she has improved a lot and she is doing better than expected but this kind of sageuk is a different beast.

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I have a feeling any female character you would have a problem with especially by how you describe the male leads. I personally love her character.

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That’s a pretty far fetched feeling you have of me just from my one comment 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️😅😅

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Hee-jae sounds intriguing on paper. I like her but she isn't convincing on screen. She is fine with romance but not when it comes to running Ihwaru and dealing with dirty politics.
Madame Seo's commanding presence is going to be hard to replace. When that woman talks she means business.

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Madame Seo is awesome!

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You have done something brilliant, did you know that @kiara ????
You have basically put my thoughts about Hee Jae into coherent words 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻😘😘😘😘😘 THANK YOU

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She was written for the sole purpose of creative a love line within the overall plot, which is unnecessary in itself, because there’s already so much story and so much richness coming from just the historical aspects meshed with the fictional from the writing and interpretation of the writer ☺️☺️

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@kiara,
Jang Young-nam is terrific as Madame Seo. I first saw her as Wang Won's fiercely protective Mongol princess mother in THE KING IN LOVE. She was a ball of fire as she battled it out with the equally awesome Jung Bo-suk as the King of Goryeo. In MY COUNTRY, she is perfectly cast as the hardnosed proprietor of Ihwaru Gibang & Information Exchange. Her establishment hosts the movers and shakers she needs to garner information from, no matter how odious they are. And she doesn't blink. She makes herself and her entertainment palace useful, and assumes obsequious protective coloration to ensure the safety and viability of her main operation, the intelligence gathering.

I agree with you about Hee-jae's not being convincing as an intelligence agent. We've never actually seen her in action, so that makes her reputed role as a spy unconvincing. Also, Hee-jae is too impatient and headstrong for her own good, and for the gibang as well. I shudder to think of how much Madame Seo has had to shell out to pay off the Capital Patrol and other authorities who were hot on the heels of the loose cannon who insisted on endangering their undercover operations by plastering seditious political screeds in public places. Would you want to entrust privy knowledge to someone so focused on their own politicking -- and revenge -- that they endanger the entire operation? I didn't think so.

Hee-jae has to prove herself. She was within spitting distance of achieving 100 vetted items of intelligence when she quit in a huff. I'd call that shooting herself in the foot and throwing away years of hard work. But as long as she is kept in the dark, she'll never know what she is really supposed to be doing -- or working towards -- at Ihwaru. (Has she really never reflected or speculated upon this herself?!) To be fair, Hee-jae did exhibit keen insight when she noticed that Choi Young's warhorse was still at stud when it normally would have been returned to service months earlier, as had been the pattern for 30 years. I suspect that she is cut out to be an analyst rather than an actual spy or information dealer -- which is why her portrait is on Hwi's evidence wall. She is now advising the Queen, so she rates a spot on the wall. -- Which makes me wonder if she may at some point join forces with Hwi, who is no slouch when it comes to gathering and analyzing data.

Madame Seo does have a reliable right-hand manager, whose name we still don't know. I think that she is a valuable aid in running the day-to-day business operations of the gibang. And she may have insight into the intelligence business, too. With the support of Ihwaru's existing staff, the spy business could continue even after Boss Lady croaks of whatever lung ailment is gaining on her. But before then, Madame Seo needs to clone herself.

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Wonderful analysis of the short comings of Hee-Jae’s arc as a character. Unfortunately, the drama took the approach of tell, not show. Someone who earned the appellation “Minister in a Dress” and be the Queen’s right hand and number one advisor, I think, would qualify to run the Ihwaru. I wish they had shown us something that justified such a reputation.

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@hebang FlyingTool,
Aw, thanks. ;-)

And thank you for the reminder about the "Minister in a Dress" moniker. If we had heard it from someone other than Lord Nam, it might have registered as a term of admiration instead of a put-down. ;-)

Here's hoping that we'll finally get to see some proof of Hee-jae's professional chops in upcoming episodes -- and not just mushy stuff. She did score that major hit with the observation about Choi Young's horse, and that was something that had eluded older and wiser observers. But that was years ago. We get to see both Hwi and Sun-ho doing their thing, so there's no reason for Hee-jae to be only a talking head.

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@pakalanapikake

I took the put down from Minister Nam as high praise indeed. Given his nature, I thought he wouldn’t even bother insulting a her unless she was someone who mattered.

And for now, Hee-jae’s alliance with the Queen is opposite Hwi’s alliance(?) with Bang-won. It will be interesting to see how the allies of convenience twist and turn.

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@pakalanapikake
Jang Young-nam and the late Jeon Mi-seon (RIP) are two of my favorites when it comes to sageuks.
Jang is fantastic in this role! She doesn't give anything away with her facial expression and she doesn't let anyone intimidate or threatened her even by the powerful and calculating Lord Nam and Bang-won. She knows when to strike and when to hold back like the incident with General Jung.
I can't get enough of this woman.
She has a big shoes to fill and Hee-jae can only do so much but we'll see. She may surprise us.

"She is now advising the Queen, so she rates a spot on the wall. -- Which makes me wonder if she may at some point join forces with Hwi"

Well, history is a big spoiler here. The queen will die before the first strife of the princes so that will free up Hee-jae to join hand with Hwi.

"Madame Seo does have a reliable right-hand manager, whose name we still don't know."
She calls him Gyeol.

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@kiara,
I meant Ihwaru's other manager, the lead gisaeng(?), who seems to handle the entertainment side of the business. I agree that Gyeol is Madame Seo's other right hand. But he looked downright intimidated by Grand General Jung, whereas I didn't get that vibe when Madame Seo bowed and scraped. Maybe as a bodyguard/bouncer, he had to instantly capitulate to avoid bloodshed. He looked acutely uncomfortable, whereas she was totally poker-faced.

Ah, so my spider sense was tingling after all re: Hee-jae and Hwi collaborating in the future. Thanks for corroborating my suspicions. ;-)

BTW, was gambling really a capital offense in late Goryeo/early Joseon? Why was that? Tax evasion?

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@pakalanapikake

Ooops sorry Paka. You are right. We don't know her name and I think she is not going to be as important as Hwa-wol.

Gambling was always illegal as far back as Goryeo IIRC. The punishment was severe too.

I couldn't find a link but look later.

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@kiara October 29, 2019 at 7:24 AM, cc: @wishfultoki

It makes sense that Hee-jae's friend, gisaeng Hwa-wol, will be her right-hand, along with Gyeol, in running Ihwaru in the future.

As I looked around for Confucian attitudes towards gambling to understand why it was a capital offense, I came across an interesting article that gives a ton of historical Chinese background on the civil service exams (and education therefor) that set such an important precedent and standard for Korea down to the present day. It's long, and also deals with romantic love -- or more accurately, the prevailing Chinese cultural stance against it that is so evident in sageuks. There's even mention of Goethe!

"Women in Water Margin: Repression of Romantic Love and Civil Service Examinations" by Yoko Miyamoto
http://www.demystifyingconfucianism.info/women-in-water-margin

I have a feeling that I'm going to enjoy delving into Dr. Miyamoto's website, Demystifying Confucianism. Her article on the bandit novel Water Margin [aka Outlaws of the Marsh or All Men Are Brothers] strikes me as the Chinese predecessor of Hong Gil-dong.

I am pleased to note that in the article "On Confucius and Confucianism" Dr. Miyamoto refutes the notion of sexism in Confucius's own works, and ascribes it to later adherents. In fact, she relates a telling story about Mencius that demonstrates that his mother was quite a character who brooked no nonsense. There's also a nice piece entitled "Confucius, Laozi, Daoism, and Buddhism" -- but sadly, no mention of Mozi and Mohism. Enjoy! ;-)

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@pakalanapikake

Thank you so much!
Much of what I read is not online so this is awesome.

Stealing was also one of those serious crimes back then. That's why Hwi's father was sentenced to death as to set an example.
It continued through Joseon but only King Sejong blamed himself when people are caught stealing food. He knows that they do it because they are starving and as the king of Joseon he felt that he failed to feed them.

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@kiara October 29, 2019 at 11:44 AM

I'm so glad you like Dr. Miyamoto's website, which is a nice complement to Dr. Eno's treasure trove. I like her writing, too. I only wish I'd seen it to read her take on Journey to the West before HWAYUGI aired. ;-)

I'm going to follow up on my gambling research after watching FLOWER CREW raw. BTW, I'm still enjoying it. ;-)

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@pakalanapikake
Please do. I know it didn't happen as often as we see it in dramas but the punishment may have been different.

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@hebang FlyingTool October 29, 2019 at 9:09 AM

You're absolutely right about Lord Nam: His back-handed compliment of Hee-jae in the Queen's presence really does show that she rates his attention. Not that I'd want to be on his radar myself. Call it professional courtesy and recognition from the head of the king's privy council (which I believe is one of Nam's posts).

As for Hee-jae's alliance with the Queen being at odds with Hwi's association with Bang-won, @kiara has commented on the historical record, just below your comment. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the drama. I have a feeling that someone is going to help the Queen exit the stage via stealthy poisoning, but don't quote me. ;-)

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Time jump of 4 years but that little boy is still a little boy haha... Glad to see more of Jang Hyuk as Lee Bang-won here, this guy rocks !

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Yi Bang-won and his fan is going to be the death of me lol.

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Haha. His fan, his man bun and his eyeliner for me. 👌
Him + Hwi (with better hair. I can't stress this enough 😋) and his band of brothers my favorites in this episode.

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@kiara,
Time to start up the Yi Bang-won Fan Club. Heh heh heh.

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We'll call it Yi Bang Bang fan club :).

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I don't mind the time jump. The Poeun (Jeong Mong-ju) incident is probably the only major thing that is relevant to the story during those 4 years.

Everyone is still the same with the time jump but it's most noticeable with the young Bang-seok who would be 10 yrs old by now. The little actor is 7 years old.

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@kiara,
They better have a new actor for Bang-seok by the time the First Strife of Princes rolls around in 6 years.

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I don't know if they'll cast another actor for the teenage Bang-seok. His appearance is brief and they don't have time to go into details with the 6 years as crown prince. His mother did everything in her power to put him this position.

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thanks for the recap...i really wish i had started this show once it had completed its airing since i find waiting for new episodes quite agonizing...post watching ep5/6, i re-watched the first 7 minutes of ep1, and from the dialogues exchanged between Hwi and Sun Ho, mostly my imagination went wild with possible outcomes and heart sank considerably thinking that there WILL be sad/tragic events ahead of us from the remaining 10 episodes...can't wait to see how all this pan out.

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Yes, waiting is no fun but I kind of like it because it gives us time to digest it slowly.
This show makes our imagination run wild. Mine goes all over the place with many possibilities.
It's exciting nevertheless.

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I thought it took 4 years for Hwi because it is extremely hard to approach Bang Won, let alone kill him. Hence, he got that wall of suspects build as part of the effort to get to the people around him and ultimately him. Is that not the case?

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Ah, I like your interpretation of Hwi's evidence wall, @msrabbit. If we has seem him actually building it, and adding data to it, it would have more effectively conveyed the process he went through of deciding how to approach Bang-won. And as it gradually took over more wall space, it would have given a clearer sense of the passage of time.

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Another thing is that Hwi can not just kill (i.e. assassinate) Bang Won. He needs to gain his trust and work for him and then kill him. That will give Lord Nam and the King reason to disband private army.

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@msrabbit,
Good point! Lord Nam plays a long game, so he has to be patient while Hwi worms his way into Bang-won's organization.

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I don't really compare sageuks because I just mix all the History and their Kings and I forgot I already watch a drama about the same era... So I like My Country for what it is. I really like the acting, all the actors are really great.

The Swoon has released (finaly!) a video with the 3 actors :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHQbO5AyGHg

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Aww Ahn Nae-sang is getting lots of love from the young stars.

Lol @Se-jong for trying to avoid looking at his own kiss scene.

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They were so shy! They all are super cute in this video. They showed a lot of respect toward the older actors, I loved how they wanted to specify those actors are very kind in the real life :p

Seolhyun was cute confessing they had to stop the kissing scene because of her red ears.

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Thanks for sharing that video. (So good to see "behind the scenes.")

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Awww... YSJ: "I miss my sister!" 😍

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Thank you for the link, @kurama. It's great fun to see the actors analyzing and reacting to their work. And having such a good time together while doing so. ;-)

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It is really very hard to wait for the next episode of this drama. It is that good!!! Always thankful to @lollypip for the recaps...

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I like to think that some characters in works of fiction need not be necessarily moralized and instead be seen as plot devices . I think - Some characters exist solely to carry out the plot and to personify the context that is put before the consumer. I believe this is what Sun Ho is .

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Well, for a plot device, he sure knows how to wring my heart and open the gate to my tear ducts. Or maybe that is just the Woo Do Hwan effect....

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Thank you for the recap!!!

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Soooo I know I’m a bit late to jump on this bandwagon, but now I’m really wishing I had just waited until it was over to binge the whole thing at once!

I’m loving this version of Bang Won and King Taejo, so very different from SFD but also it makes me see the historical characters in a different light ~ I’m not up enough on my Korean history to say which is more accurate, but let’s just say I can’t at the moment choose between Yoo Ah In and Jang Hyuk as my Bang Won...

Hwi and his band of brothers are fast becoming my favorite characters, even as my heart breaks for Yeon and Seon Ho ~ her for not remembering and him for having to remember everything...

Usually sageuk love lines are my least favorite part, but I’m finding Hwi and Hee Jae’s story sweet ~ they like each other, simply enough. And besides the natural attraction of their looks and personality, he reminds her of the man who saved her, and she is one of the few people who truly saw him, aside from status. I have a feeling only tragedy is coming for them (and Yeon, I’m very aware Yeon and Hee Jae were not in the opening scene, and I’m already anxiously anticipating what happens there).

Anyways. I should stop watching dramas and sleep ~

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SFD being a 50 episodes sageuk had a lot of time and space to include many historical events therefore making the historical characters closer to what was written on the history books.
SFD is more accurate in that sense.

My Country takes on this familiar part of the history from a different perspective. What if Yi Seong-gye planned on revolting before he lead the army to Liaodong? What if Choi Yeong staying behind wasn't last minute? History says it was not planned before hand but the winners also wrote the history so that's another thing to think about.

This drama is making my head hurts but in a good way.

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@kiara,
Thank you for emphasizing how the events presented in MY COUNTRY differ from the official historical record. As an international viewer, I don't know Korean history and have to educate myself as I go along. I have no way of knowing what the "official" version of history is and am at the mercy of whatever I dig up on the internet. Thus I rely on recappers who go the extra mile (Yay, @lollypip -- and HeadsNo2!) and discussions with better-informed history mavens (yes, I mean you, Sunbaenim). I enjoy seeing alternate versions of history play out, especially when they are not too far-fetched and are done well and realistically. Some privy things can never truly be known, if one considers the mindset of "plausible deniability" to avoid charges of treason, for instance. But it is enticing to speculate on how surface reality may actually differ from what went on behind the scenes. It is important to keep in mind how the new dynasty and its scholars suppressed and discredited Goryeo, its supporters, and Buddhism. Joseon started with a coup that had to be justified, and the Neo-Confucian winners wrote the history books to make it so.

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@pakalanapikake

We are all on the same boat when it comes to Korea's history. I'm just a sageuk geek who loves history lol.
It has been the one genre that got me interested in K-dramas and it hasn't changed even though the industry has gone through some changes and sageuks is not what it used to be.

Our recappers are the best! I miss HeadsNo2 and I'm grateful to have @lollypip.

"I enjoy seeing alternate versions of history play out, especially when they are not too far-fetched and are done well and realistically."

That's exactly what I was hoping for. Thank you for expressing your thoughts so eloquently and coherently than I ever could.

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@kiara,

Aw, shucks. Thanks. ;-)

I second you in singing the praises of DB recappers past and present, especially those who handle the challenges of sageuks with such deftness and accuracy.

Sageuk is the genre that got me hooked on Kdramas, too. Maybe it's the air of tragedy that permeates many of them that makes them so appealing. Even though they are from a different culture, there's something Shakespearean about them, and that's what floats my boat. ;-)

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This drama is like a cerebral stage play. I like that it approaches familiar historical events in a sifferent way.

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wait.. r you saying this drama is based on start of joseon.. just as sfd ad showing same characters (atleast yoo ah in) :)

super cool
i love sfd.. way more than nirvana (actually couldnt even sit through and complete nirvana because everything was so predictable)

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Yes it is the same historical timeline. This show only have a few historical figures and some are being mentioned only in the background like Choi Yeong and Sambong.

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so none of them reprise the other significant roles?
who is yoo ah in's character and his general father..

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My Country (16 eps)

Jang Hyuk - Yi Bang-won
Kim Yeong-cheol - General Yi Seong-gye

SFD (50 eps)

Yoo Ah-in -Yi Bang-won
Chun Ho-jin - Yi seong-gye

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I've been meaning to watch Six Flying Dragons soon but after beginning My Country I see that I will have to wait awhile so I won't compare/contrast, since I heard it was great but I am loving My Country so much that I feel I'd pick at 6FD just for not having Jang se-jong and Woo Do-hwan

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oh.. nothing better.. and yoo ah in is just so awesome..

Infact , it is up there with answer me 1988

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There is so much to love in Reply though I still have to finish the last quarter. I've probably seen evertvscebe just not in order lol.

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*every scene oops.
The only reason I haven't started 6FD is the length

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you won't feel the length.. it was my first 50 eps drama.. and by ep 10.. twists happen to compel you to binge watch

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its high on my list as soon as some of my current shows are done...

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Thank you for your recap and comments, @lollypip.

I, too, was thrown by that 4-year time jump. I couldn't put my finger on a niggling feeling I had, but you identified it. Perhaps we will see events from that 4-year span in flashback. It would be nice, because it feels like a big gap.

This is one time I kind of wish we'd seen Taejo's enthronement or at least evidence of the bad blood between Bang-won and his enemies, in particular Jeong Do-jeon, whom we know is going to get whacked during the First Strife of Princes -- which won't happen for 6 more years. And now that you mention it, it really is ludicrous that Lord Nam's plot to get rid of Bang-won hasn't been accomplished already.

I found the handy-dandy Talking Cupboard Joseon Dynasty Historical Timeline to be very helpful in getting a sense of the timing of events early in the Joseon era.
https://thetalkingcupboard.com/resources/joseon-dynasty-historical-timeline/

I agree that it's a bit weird that the Ihwaru spy net couldn't pick up any traces of Hwi even though he was back in town and even using his own name. In essence, his death has been faked -- and for that, he and his chums can thank Sun-ho. Speaking of whom, I've sensed all along that the inspector has been attempting to run interference between his friends and Lord Nam. I appreciated that telling little interlude between Sun-ho and Yeon while her real orabeoni was hiding behind the screen.

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All we need is Poeun's story to be told or mentioned in my opinion. Everything else is not that important since we only have 16 episode.

I don't think Ihwaru under Madame Seo's order were actively looking for Hwi. The voice that we are listening to while Hee-jae was looking at the fallen soldiers names on the board was the queen's voice so Hee-jae probably asked her for information on Hwi and the advance troop. Hwa-wol is the only other person in Ihwaru that was looking for Hwi.

"I appreciated that telling little interlude between Sun-ho and Yeon while her real orabeoni was hiding behind the screen."

Same here.

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Thanks, @kiara, for your clarifications. It makes perfect sense that Madam Seo would have ordered a news blackout on Hwi at Ihwaru while letting Hwa-wol investigate fruitlessly. Hwa-wol would recognize Hwi on sight. But it's not too far-fetched for me to believe that they traveled in such different circles that it would have been unlikely for them to meet. (I expect that Hwa-wol would have avoided neighborhoods full of cutthroats and roughnecks.) Based on the amount of material on the evidence wall on the hut in the woods, Hwi would have been busy there and sleuthing around reconnoitering his own intelligence. And working as a game hunter for furs and pelts. He couldn't go back to blacksmithing at his old location.

Curiously, Hwi seems to still frequent his old home. How does that work? Squatters wouldn't have moved into an abandoned house? If he did move back home, wouldn't the neighbors have recognized him? Or would they have kept mum because they all hated conscription? -- Or maybe he was initially back home for a while, and then abandoned it? I'm confused, perhaps because of the time jump.

I hadn't recognized the Queen's voice in that scene of Hee-jae reading the public notice board. Thank you! Voice overs throw me sometimes.

I'm saving Poeun Jeong Mong-ju for ep. 7 recap comments. I agree that his story is an important one, and I like how it is woven into the narrative.

I don't think that Sun-ho is anywhere near as heartless as he appears to be. Yeon can read him like a book, and he is hurting a lot more than he lets on because of what he has to do at his father's behest.

Sun-ho is indeed a tragic character because his father is such a malign force that has blighted his life since his conception. Sun-ho was dearly loved by his mother, from whom he was forcibly parted by his ruthless and abusive father. No amount of silk clothing could make up for the ceaseless emotional terrorism Lord Nam has inflicted on him. I don't believe him when he says he did not kill Sun-ho's mother, especially after seeing him order Sun-ho to make Hwi cut the tie with Yeon. That is Lord Nam's standard operating procedure: divide and conquer.

In contrast, Hwi and Yeon got a good start in life. They may have grown up humbly and been orphaned under terrible circumstances, but Seo Geom was an honest, upright man who dearly loved his kids and let them know it in no uncertain terms. He sacrificed himself to spare them the taint of his trumped-up crime -- only for his honorable suicide to be completely disregarded in the official records.

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I think one of the accomplishments of this show is that it shows us and makes plausible alternate interpretations of the same event.

For example, the sister. It is perfectly reasonable that she is hostage for Hwi’s good behavior, but to me it is just as plausible that Sun-ho protected an amnesiac young girl in the only way he could. Another is SH sending Hwi to the Liaodong expedition. One could see it as SH getting rid of Hwi, a troublesome witness, or saving Hwi from the murderous wrath of Lord Nam.

The relationship between Hwi and Sun-ho is made of such ambiguities.

And no, Sun-ho’s mother did not hang herself from the rafters in the house her son lives in. Not. Possible.

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@hebang FlyingTool,
I've been interpreting Sun-ho's actions as doing whatever he can to protect the people he cares about from his implacably evil father. Maybe the reason why he claims to be the baddie is because he so thoroughly detests the powerlessness that he is still subject to by Lord Nam. I'm not sure. I just accept that he is a complex character mired in internal conflicts who is just trying to survive in an environment that is supposed to be becoming less onerous for people like him -- until Bang-won informs him of his plans.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't buy Lord Nam's BS that Sun-ho's mom killed herself.

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"I think one of the accomplishments of this show is that it shows us and makes plausible alternate interpretations of the same event."

This show is so delicious. It gives food for the brain.
I love reading everyone's comments. It's so insightful and it helps me understand the characters better.

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I too prefer to think Sun-ho is doing his best for the few people he cares about in his life. No matter how it looks, he doesn’t have many choices open to him.

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This show took me by surprise. I haven't been watching anything (the only one would be Rookie Historian but only semi-religiously, for the fluff it brings), but man, with this I have severely underestimated my binge-watching abilities. HA! For this one, I'm getting a mixture of SFD and The Princess's Man vibes. I dunno, I'm thoroughly confused as to which is the clear ‘bad guy’, or the good-guy-pretending-to-be-bad, or the good-but-caught-in-the-crosshairs-so-that-makes-me-bad-for-now, or the I'm-the-bad-one-so-you-don't-have-to-be guy, the final end game, or who is even orchestrating the game. Knowing that Bang-won would be King makes me itch to know how that's going to pan out in this story and how's that going to make those puppies suffer further—honestly, given that flash-forward there's just bound to be more suffering (please give them puppies a break!!!). The only happy moment they have was that kite-flying session and BOOM! Everything goes downhill from there.

I'm liking the semi-major characters i.e., Nam Jeon (maaannnn Ahn Nae-Sang looks borderline unhinged!) because just when you think there is a wee bit of humanity and love in the guy he flips it over and turns it back on you tenfold; Bang-won and his fan (lol, that fan also made an appearance in the first episode! I thought he was holding a sword but nope, it's a fan!!!). Every interaction Bang-won has is worth savouring. He gives that ‘I'm not a scary guy at all but be my guest if you are threatened by me’ vibe to his encounters with people and I like seeing who would piss his trousers off and who would not. He's like the litmus test of who has got the most balls—if you pass Bang-won you will survive, for another day at least. Ha! I particularly like his banter with Seon-ho during this episode on which one should be taken as a compliment and which is an insult. (PS Can't believe Chuno is almost a decade old! Jang Hyuk's Dae-gil looks as much as his Bang-won now.) Also, King Taejo. This king Taejo can cut you to pieces by his stare alone. For some reason this portrayal of King Taejo makes me see that he and Bang-won are really not that different—a case of apples not falling far from the tree. In other portrayals King Taejo is often portrayed as a self-righteous man who merely lives and serves for the country and Bang-won as the power-hungry one but in this show, we see King Taejo doing a great deal of politicking and dirty thinking even with his choice of the crown prince and I like this take on him.

The other side characters are lovely as well, i.e., Hwi's rag-tag family, and Hui-jae's gibang friends/family. They are not merely distractions or come off as side-kickey but actually contribute to the story. This show should come with a warning, heartaches all around! I've read the recaps but they did not prepare me for the heaviness at all.

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I totally agree with your whole take on the historical characters and our young puppies :).

You just can't go wrong with Ahn Nae-sang, Kim Yeong-cheol and Jang Hyuk in any sageuks. All 3 of them have portrayed Yi Bang-won in some form before. Kim Yeong-cheol has done it twice.
I'm happy for our young actors who are both learning and proving themselves in this series. Sageuk is a difficult genre to master even for some veterans.

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Good to see you, @annerl. I recall you from the SEVEN DAY QUEEN recap threads. ;-)

I buckled my seat belt before the premiere. Based on the history, I knew MY COUNTRY would be intense. I'm not certain yet whether it will put me through the meat grinder to the extent that 7DQ did, but I'm not taking any chances.

I agree with you about the terrific portrayals by Ahn Nae-sang, Kim Young-chul, and Jang Hyuk. Talk about a trio of heavy hitters. Even their layers' layers have layers. ;-) It's gratifying to see the younger actors holding their own as they go toe-to-toe with them. What a treat. They are acquitting themselves well.

As for Lord Nam looking unhinged, he definitely has a "lean and hungry look" -- and I trust him as far as I can throw him. It wouldn't surprise me if he were angling to make himself king. He's probably got a lot of skeletons in the closet, but he hides his paranoia under a quietly aggressive facade.

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I was expecting an SFD-like thriller of sorts here, but nope. :D

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I still don't understand what bang won would gain by killing general jeong sa jeong? Wouldn't it be beneficial for him to join forces with that guy instead of killing him, he would gain a huge army. I feel like I'm always left to speculate here because they don't directly state the intentions of the characters for their actions, and me not knowing much about Korean history doesn't help either. Lol

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We are doing a lot of speculating which it fun but it's also exhausting lol.
We could use some clearance on some character motivation like Sun-ho because it's getting a bit frustrating and I don't like the unnecessary confusion.

I think general Jung is too reckless and self serving. Just because he was one of the founding members doesn't mean he is invincible. His abused of power would be a problem.
There is only one seat on the throne and I don't think he will willingly give it to Bang-won.

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Thanks for replying. I'm also thinking bang won killed he off so he can have jung's army for himself? You could be right too.

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Thank you for your comments. I think you are right. If he is going against his father and Lord Nam he will need man power.

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@ theimprintonmynose, @kiara,

I agree with you both about Bang-won's motivations for bumping off Grand General Jung. We've seen that he has been taking in the disbanded forces of other yangban. the betrayal of privy knowledge is high on the list. But Jung was also violent and unpredictable. Who knows when he might have turned on Bang-won?

Lord Nam is gung ho on ridding the country of private armies to hobble his own rivals, so why not start at the top? Even if Jung were a reckless, entitled bastard, he was still an intimate of Yi Seung-gye's elder sons. Dividing and conquering is Lord Nam's MO.

Sun-ho may have been motivated more by his disgust at the man's egregious treatment of lowborn women, who no doubt reminded him of his own late mother.

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@lollypip,
Thank you for explaining why Bang-won put the hit out on Grand General Jung: He was the only person besides Bang-won who knew of elder brother's alcoholism. Following that humiliating scene at court, I can understand why Bang-won ordered Jung's termination with extreme prejudice. On the other hand, Jung had been his strong supporter. Was Bang-won really so oblivious to the divide-and-conquer gambit that was played on him?

It makes me wonder why Jung didn't tell Bang-won that Nam Jeon was behind it all -- but that might have made the proud general look like a wuss. Plus we wouldn't have had that great swordfight at Ihwaru.

Lord Nam's plan to outmaneuver Bang-won is really diabolical. I'm sure that he was counting on Taejo's having a field day with the litany of filial weaknesses Sun-ho extracted from Grand General Jung under torture, and using them as justification for naming his youngest son Wangseja. The way Taejo cornered Bang-won was heartless -- and so blatantly nasty that I can't blame #5 for extirpating Dad's favorite. I do feel bad for the little brothers because they were their father's (and mother's) pawns. Is this karmic payback for Yi Seung-gye's betrayal of Goryeo? It makes me wonder.

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@pakalanapikake

Considering Bang-won's history and his daring role in the establishment of Joseon, everyone should be scared of him by now including his father.
The queen was right when she said that it’s King Taejo who seems to be scared of Bang-won.
(Jang Hyuk is going all out with his character. Deep deep deep..)

Bang-won must be keeping his mother in heart by not using her in his fight for the throne. I think most of his resentments comes from the fact that she has no value in his father's eyes and his step-mother may have felt like she is below her since she came from Goryeo's elite.
Overlooking her sons is disrespecting their mother's existence to the maximum. I love how relentless he is. His ambition is more than his own selfish desire for the throne.

I find it sad that General Jung knows more about Taejo's boys than their own father. Obviously they are not allowed to visit him without an invitation.

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