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Tale of Nokdu: Episodes 1-2

A young man and woman cross paths, and clash, under unusual circumstances. Maybe it’s fate bringing them together as our protagonists only meet after a team of assassins seeks out the young man in question. In order to uncover some answers and to learn his true identity, our hero enters a widows’ village where no men are allowed by masquerading as a woman.

 
EPISODE 1: “First Encounter”

A young man spears a fish in the ocean, cheered on by a young girl who calls him her husband. As the young man returns to shore, the camera zooms out to show that they’re on an island.

While cooking the fish, the sight of an incoming boat reminds JEON NOKDU (Jang Dong-yoon) that he needs to leave the island. Nokdu explains to Aeng-du that he can’t marry her after all and asks her to tell her father, his martial arts teacher, but she refuses. When Aeng-du’s drunk father stumbles towards them, Aeng-du whines that Nokdu won’t marry her but he quickly explains that it’s only because she’s too young.

A woman comes running to inform Nokdu that his family is in trouble. At home, his father faces a team of assassins who have wounded Nokdu’s brother. Nokdu flies over a shed to protect his family but he and his father are outnumbered. Just as an assassin is about to strike Nokdu with a sword, Aeng-du’s father knocks it away.

Nokdu uses the sword to slash the assassin’s leg and demands to know, “Who are you?” The assassin pulls out a knife and turns it on himself but Nokdu disarms him. Before Nokdu can ask more questions, his father restrains him and yells at the assailant, “Go now!”

As the assassin limps away, Nokdu’s father claims that he was the target and suggests leaving the island. Nokdu knows better, “It’s all because of me,” and a tear escapes as he recalls that his mother was killed even though they lived in hiding.

Nokdu runs to his brother’s side and his teacher informs him that the wound isn’t serious. Nokdu’s teacher wonders who sent such highly trained assassins and urges Nokdu to follow the survivor to find out.

After his master promises to take care of Nokdu’s father and brother, Nokdu goes after the assassin. Nokdu’s brother pulls the mask from one of the dead assassins and gasps when he sees that it’s a woman.

Palace soldiers on horseback clear the city streets as the king’s procession nears. A young woman dressed as a man, DONG DONG-JOO (Kim So-hyun), follows the procession along side streets just as a man limps by with Nokdu close behind.

Dong-joo finds a spot with a clear shot at the king and assembles a hidden bow. After launching an arrow that embeds itself into the king’s side, the king’s guards find Dong-joo and point their swords at her neck. It turns out that Dong-joo only imagined the assassination and before she can finish assembling her bow, Nokdu bumps into her and knocks it to the ground.

Dong-joo pushes Nokdu away before he gets a good look at the bow and he loses sight of his assassin. By the time Nokdu runs off, the king has passed and Dong-joo has to find another vantage point but the procession comes to a stop when a grief-stricken man, whose son and grandson were killed during construction on the palace, hits the king with a stone.

As the man is taken away, the real king, disguised as a guard on horseback, orders the minister next to him to find the attacker’s accomplices. Dong-joo rids herself of her bow and arrow but they’re soon discovered and Nokdu catches sight of his assassin just as he’s arrested.

Nokdu frees himself and sees the assassin disappear into a shed. When the guards find him, Nokdu points to the shed but the noblewoman who emerges is allowed to continue on her way. Nokdu gets away long enough to snatch the cloak covering the woman’s head and is surprised to discover that his assassin is a woman.

Dong-joo ends up in the same prison cell as Nokdu and yells, “I lost him because of you.” Nokdu is just as angry since he lost track of his attacker after bumping into Dong-joo. They argue until they’re warned to be quiet and when Nokdu sits down, Dong-joo notices that one of the bars has been sawed loose.

That night, once the prisoners and the guard are asleep, Dong-joo kicks away the loose bar to slide through the opening. When her shoulders get stuck, an awake Nokdu reminds Dong-joo that escaping from prison is a guaranteed death sentence and suggests waiting to be set free.

Dong-joo insults Nokdu when she calls him stupid and is forced to say, “Master, please,” before he’ll rescue her. Dong-joo hits her head when Nokdu pulls her back into the cell and she snaps at him. All Nokdu cares about is that he’s finally in the city of Hanyang to find out who he really is.

In his quarters, KING GWANGHAE, (Jung Joon-ho) wakes up with a jolt. He dreamed that his open hand inched towards the face of an infant in his arms and the king stares at his shaking hand in horror.

While Dong-joo sleeps, a bad dream causes her to whimper and a tear falls from her eye. Nokdu finds himself patting her on the shoulder comfortingly and when she looks cold, he covers her with his coat. In the morning, Dong-joo wakes up to find Nokdu curled up next to her, her leg thrown over his, and they jump apart in alarm.

The prisoners are taken for questioning and when Dong-joo sees other prisoners being tortured, it triggers a memory of a nighttime massacre at the hands of palace soldiers.

As she kneels before the minister in charge, Dong-joo can’t explain why she was in the city and is warned that she won’t survive if she lies. Dong-joo recalls her bloodied mother gasping, “Stay alive, my baby…You must stay alive.”

When a soldier points a sword at Dong-joo’s throat, Nokdu sighs in exasperation. Nokdu stands up and demands, “Let me meet His Majesty,” just as King Gwanghae is passing by. Nokdu explains that instead of arresting hundreds of innocent people, the king should place grass on the graves of the old man’s son and grandson to show how magnanimous he can be. Such a gesture might inspire the people to work harder at building the palace.

King Gwanghae scoffs at the idea but orders MINISTER HEO (Kim Tae-woo) to follow Nokdu’s suggestion. Of course the man who threw the stone isn’t to escape with his life.

The newly freed prisoners exit the palace and Nokdu suggests that Dong-joo can buy him some soup as a thank-you. When a noblewoman walking towards them reaches into her pocket, Nokdu pushes Dong-joo out of the way but the woman was only reaching for a handkerchief.

Nokdu distracts from his blunder by criticizing Dong-joo and the two bicker. When Nokdu reminds Dong-joo that if it wasn’t for him, she’d be dead, she suddenly remembers that she left behind her will. Dong-joo runs off, warning Nokdu that they’d better not meet again.

Nokdu pulls the assassin’s cloak from his pack and it’s marked with a crescent symbol. The assassin watches Nokdu as he secures a room at an inn for the night.

In his room, Nokdu stays awake with a knife in hand and waits for the assassin. Anxious to return to his father and brother, Nokdu recalls that as boys, his brother was punished for failing to keep Nokdu away from the boats. A defiant Nokdu demanded to know why he couldn’t learn to read or handle a boat and his mother had to tend to the welts on his legs after he was punished.

Someone approaches Nokdu’s door but it’s just the innkeeper with a tray of food that a customer didn’t eat. She offers it to Nokdu and closes his door as he pours himself a drink.

It’s not long before Nokdu throws open his door and staggers into the street. The assassin follows Nokdu with her knife drawn but hides when he collapses in front of some guards. When the guards announce that Nokdu is dead, the assassin returns to the inn and kills the inn keeper.

The guards bring their superior to Nokdu’s body but they find an unconscious drunk in his place. As the assassin limps away through the forest, Nokdu isn’t far behind.

EPISODE 2: “Widows’ Village”

In the morning, the assassin changes into a simple hanbok before entering a village where Nokdu’s presence causes a stir. A trio of women attack him, explaining that Nokdu just entered a widows’ village. A beaten Nokdu finds himself outside of the village’s entrance where a sign reads, “Women Only, Village for Widows.”

Realizing that the village offers the perfect protection for the assassin and her leader, Nokdu puzzles over what to do just as a party of men nears. Nokdu overhears their plan to catch a runaway widow before she can escape into the village.

That night, the escaped widow runs away through the forest. When she falls, Nokdu is there to offer his help and he carries her away to safety. Once they’re safe, Nokdu is attacked by a peasant who is the young widow’s sweetheart.

The peasant apologizes to Nokdu once he realizes that he was trying to help the widow. Nokdu warns that her father-in-law is waiting for the widow outside of the widows’ village and the peasant understands her plan. Knowing that they’ll never see each other again, he begs the widow to reconsider but she’s determined to protect him until Nokdu shares an idea.

In the morning, the widow’s father-in-law intercepts a woman on her way to the village. He reminds the young woman that it’s an honor to sacrifice her life for her family’s honor and warns, “You will not be able to meet a peaceful death anymore.”

When the father-in-law grabs the cloak covering the woman’s head, he’s slapped away. Angry, he pulls the cloak away and then apologizes to Nokdu, who’s disguised as a woman. Nokdu walks away as the father-in-law’s servant marvels, “She is lovely.”

Near the village’s entrance, Nokdu recalls that he was ready to abandon his plan the night before once he’d changed into the widow’s hanbok. Dressed as a peasant man, the widow insisted that there was no other way for Nokdu to infiltrate the village. Before they parted, she gave Nokdu a valuable figurine in appreciation of his help.

One of the women who threw Nokdu out of the village finds him and escorts him inside when he explains that he’s a widow who needs protection. Nokdu learns that the village sprang up after the Japanese invasion when widows were expected to commit suicide. With time, the village gained the approval of the king.

Nokdu’s escort explains that the only two ways into the village are the main entrance and the gibang. The other two women who beat up Nokdu join them, an unconscious man tossed over the shoulder of the tallest one. They introduce themselves as the “Virtuous Women Corps” who remove any man who enters the village.

Nokdu’s escort calls out to LADY CHEON (Yoon Yoo-sun), the woman in charge of the gibang. When Nokdu asks why a gibang is next to the village, his escort explains that the widows produce the alcohol and sew the gisaeng’s clothing in exchange for Lady Cheon’s protection.

There’s a discussion about where Nokdu should stay and it’s decided that he can stay with the tallest woman, Soon-nyeo. Alarmed, Nokdu suggests staying at the gibang instead.

On their way to the gibang, Lady Cheon explains that Nokdu will share Dong-joo’s room. They’re distracted by the sound of a crying girl as she’s dragged to the gibang by a wealthy aristocrat.

Dong-joo confronts the man and protectively moves the young girl to her side. When he threatens Dong-joo, Lady Cheon yells out in alarm but composes herself to ask about the reason for his visit. The lord angrily explains that he offered the girl the chance to become a gisaeng but she refused.

Dong-joo tries to explain that twelve is too young to become a gisaeng but the lord doesn’t care. Lady Cheon argues that someone of the aristocrat’s standing must observe well established customs and urges him to wait until the girl is three or four years older.

The aristocrat grabs the young girl and threatens to cut off her long braid to prevent other men from stealing her away in the interim. When the lord points his knife at Lady Cheon and asks if she’ll sacrifice her hair instead, Dong-joo grabs the knife and dramatically slices off her braid.

As Nokdu gazes at Dong-joo, a breeze blows through her newly shorn hair and their eyes meet. Enraged, the lord instructs his assistant to teach her a lesson but before he can lay a hand on Dong-joo, a handsome young chef, CHA YUL-MOO (Kang Tae-oh) arrives carrying a live chicken. Yul-moo tosses the chicken at the lord and then steps protectively in front of Dong-joo.

Yul-moo pretends to sympathize with the thwarted aristocrat and shoves a remedy into his mouth to soothe his anger. When the lord complains about its bitterness, Yul-moo produces a bottle to wash away the taste but it turns out to be vinegar.

Yul-moo regrets his mistake because vinegar makes his remedy poisonous and the stricken aristocrat is carried away by his companion. As things get back to normal, Nokdu doesn’t notice the smitten nobleman by his side.

Lady Cheon points Nokdu in the direction of Dong-joo’s room and then summons Dong-joo. Nokdu wonders where he’s seen Dong-joo as the smitten nobleman makes his presence known, only to be ignored.

Nokdu finds Dong-joo’s room and sighs when he sees his reflection in a mirror. A sack hidden under a dresser catches Nokdu’s interest.

When Lady Cheon confronts Dong-joo about her actions, she’s reminded that the last young girl that the aristocrat took was returned dead only a month earlier. Lady Cheon lectures about the importance of a gisaeng’s hair but Dong-joo points out that she’s still just a trainee.

Dong-joo gets angry again just thinking about the awful aristocrat and Lady Cheon can’t help but laugh. She dismisses Dong-joo but not before she mentions the trainee’s recent outing and cautions her to stay out of trouble.

Outside, Yul-moo is waiting for Dong-joo and is scolded for getting involved in her business. He pulls out the will that Dong-joo left behind as the reason for his worry but she reminds him that he promised not to meddle in her life. After she threatens to run away, Yul-moo agrees to mind his own business and Dong-joo runs to her room.

Dong-joo finds Nokdu with the sack that holds her disguise and pushes him away. They wrestle over a small pouch until Dong-joo brushes against Nokdu’s chest. Indignant, Nokdu assures Dong-joo that he didn’t see what was in the sack and then explains that Lady Cheon granted him permission to stay in Dong-joo’s room.

After agreeing not to touch Dong-joo’s things, Nokdu storms out. As he walks away, Nokdu recalls that he recognized the robes in the sack, solving the mystery of how he knows Dong-joo.

Dong-joo happens to be on the same path as Nokdu when they encounter Nokdu’s admirer. The man declares that he’s seen the “beauty of Korea” and Dong-joo assumes that he’s talking about her. She’s shocked when he hands Nokdu some flowers and explains, “I knew at first sight that you were the woman I have been looking for.”

Dong-joo stalks off, leaving Nokdu alone with the man who introduces himself as Yeon-geun, the village’s supervisor. Nokdu is about to walk away until he gets an idea and soon he has a map of the village, thanks to Yeon-geun.

Nokdu consults the map as he walks through the village and notices a limping woman. Nokdu mumbles, “I found her,” and jumps when Soon-nyeo announces, “I found you.” The trio of women invite Nokdu to join them for a bath and they won’t take no for an answer.

The women carry Nokdu to the bathing pool and run into Dong-joo. Nokdu appeals to her, “You and I were supposed to go to that place together,” but Dong-joo is on her way to bathe after cutting her hair and joins the women.

At the bathing pool, Nokdu can’t escape because he’s busy diverting his eyes as the women remove their outer garments. Desperate, Nokdu announces that he has a skin disease but is told that the water is medicinal.

Dong-joo walks towards Nokdu as she reminds him, “All of us are women here,” and he backs away until he falls into the water. Nokdu is alarmed when the women look up in surprise. Dong-joo turns around modestly as Soon-nyeo hoists a rock and aims it in Nokdu’s direction.

 
COMMENTS

Jang Dong-yoon as Jeon Nokdu is first introduced to us as a very manly fisherman who manages to survive an assassination attempt by a team of female assassins. That makes his transformation into a delicate young widow even more jarring, especially when his female alter ego turns out to be such a prude. Nokdu is more unsettled by the female bonding that the village widows expect than by any of the very real dangers that he’s faced. Tale of Nokdu promises to be lots of fun while solving the secret of Nokdu’s birth. Is it too soon to predict that Nokdu is the baby that King Gwanghae was about to smother?

Trying to keep straight the gender swapping disguises that the characters have employed has been a challenge but now that the story is centered on the widows’ village, Nokdu should be the one who isn’t what he appears to be. Interestingly, the women in this drama are exceptionally strong, including Nokdu’s young fiancé. Even though Nokdu has trained with a martial arts master, he gets tossed around like a doll by the Virtuous Women Corps. I love it.

I can’t wait to learn more about Dong-joo’s story. How did she end up at the gibang and why does she want to assassinate the king? Dong-joo is obviously a bust as a gisaeng trainee but Lady Cheon keeps her around for a reason. Dong-joo doesn’t appreciate Yul-moo’s concern and clearly doesn’t return his affection, which is difficult to understand. The other gisaeng can’t stay away from Yul-moo but Dong-joo makes it clear that he’s to leave her alone. Does she want to protect him since she plans to kill the king?

I was impressed by Nokdu’s transformation into a woman. I found it hilarious that in only a matter of hours, Nokdu had a bonafide suitor and that Dong-joo was actually upset that Yeon-geun preferred Nokdu over her. Will Nokdu’s presence make Dong-joo care more about becoming a gisaeng? Nokdu is sure to shake things up as he gets to the bottom of why an assassin is living in the widows’ village, which means that the person who arranged his assassination attempt must be a woman as well.

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Thank you, @teriyaki. Jang Dong Yoon, now that's a tough act to surpass for future dramaland cross-dresser. He is just SO pretty. I am not a believer of love at first sight, but I think I would totally fall for her if I were a man. ❤😁✌

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I used to find Jang Dong-yoon bland but he's doing really well here as a woman. All his expressions are spot on and utterly adorable. I hope the disguise continues for more episodes because it would be such a waste to give up the charade so soon especially when it's so much fun.

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It does continue for almost the entire drama. They've filmed 80 percentage of the drama till now and he is still in his woman disguise.

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i thought they were done with filming already?

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Don't think they've finished filming yet. Didn't they have to postpone a few times?

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The Wikipedia page for it said that the filming of the series was from 1st June to 31st August so I just took it as it was. I also couldn't really gather anything from the leads' instagrams to show that they were still filming.

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Where did you get that 80% filming though? I don’t think they have filmed that much till now

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Last month one of the extras posted a picture of episode 11 script. It would mean they already started to film it or will start soon but now it's been a month. It can be assumed 11-12 episodes have already filmed now so 80 percentage almost or already done.

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I agree. I actually used to avoid his dramas because he used to look quite green to me. But he is doing quite a good job here at being a man and a woman.

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He suits this role most in my opinion.

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He doesn't have much on his resume and I believe the only lead role he did was in 'If we were a season' which was really low-key. The role of Nok-Du allows him to showcase his potential and he is doing a decent job.

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I don't know, I only just watch Jang Dong Yoon in Just Dance,he was doing such a good job in that drama that I believe he will be suit as Kim Soo Hyun leading man. His chemistry with Park Se Wan seems so natural. All this time I couldn't watched KSH drama due to the blandness / lack of acting talent of her leading man. Might be the improvement started in that drama?

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Didn't you see him in Solomon's Perjury? He was very good and it was his debut. He's very talented but under rated.

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Me watching her try to escape:
No that's -
No you need to get your shoulders through first...
NO YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG ONE SHOULDER THEN THE OTHER
THAT'S NOT HOW YOU DO IT!! ESCAPE PROPERLY DANGIT.

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Ever the critic, you are. And yes, I had the same thought watching her flounder. I don’t get the bits of script that purposely make the heroine less. Seems to me they have an interesting enough story.

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They don't make her less. Her character is impulsive more of a doer not always a thinker. Normally you have the male character who is impulsive but they turned it around to make the female character more impulsive.

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I think it may turn out to be important that she owes him at least twice for saving her -- in the jail and during the interrogation. Without that for a reason, she might not save him when he needs saving.

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The part I could do without is the handsome childhood friend. I hope he has something more to do than moon after her.

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He only had 5 mins of screen time in this week's episode. It's hard to tell from those 5 mins what he's supposed to be doing but isn't he the only one who knows her secret? Is that why she avoids him?

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He strikes me as the type to give her good but unwanted advice, like - trying to assassinate the king is a bad idea.

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She doesn't strike me as the type to take advice or help from anyone. She avoids him for a reason which I assume is tied to their childhood.

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She seems to be annoyed by his presence and is trying very hard to push him away. But he is somewhat a playboy type who always has loads of women surrounding him every where, so it could be just that he's not her type.

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Given Gwanghae's messy family history, I assume Nokdu is his half-brother and a potential rival for the throne (?)

Then, case closed and we can move on to other mysteries, like why does Dong-joo want to kill the king and how will Nok-du hide his 5-o'clock shadow.

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In the synopsis it said she wants revenge because he murdered her family. That's the scene they showed in the opening where the mother said to live. About the 5-o' clock shadow in the next episode the ending will till you what happened.

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I don't know how closely they're sticking to the facts, but it would seem more likely in this drama that Nokdu is someone with a better claim to the throne than the current king -- that was why he had to die as a baby and why assassins keep coming after him and his adopted family. The people hate this king, and he could care less about them. To me, all that hatred is the heavens' reward for him having stolen the throne from a more deserving, more upright, more lovable young man. Black vs. white.

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The king is tyrannical. He disguises as a royal guard when he knows there might be danger and lets his dupe gets hit. He enslaves the citizens for his own interest. So the hatred is from his own doing not the heaven. Even if he is the rightful king, he will get it anyway.

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Historically it would make more sense if Nokdu is Gwanghae's nephew (the future King Injo). Injo's father was Gwanghae's older brother. They were both illegitimate but Gwanghae was capable in running the country so his father unwillingly named him as his successor over his older brother and his young son with the queen.
Gwanghae's half brother is the kid that he sees in his dream. He is the legitimate heir to the throne but he was too young to rule. He was killed at age 8.

This writer doesn't really stick with the actual history anyway so I won't be surprised if she resurrected the dead like she did in MOONLIGHT with Crown Prince Hyomyeong.

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I think the whole Gwanghee thing is a red herring. We see Nokdu and we think automatically birth secret and heir to throne blah blah but it's too obvious. The writer has been turning around tropes on their head so I expect something to be different with birth secret trope.

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There is nothing new except that the male lead is doing the cross-dressing.
Using a controversial historical figure appeals to the older viewers.

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If a village full of widows and female assassins isn't new in historical dramas then we need to review the definition of new. Also the close relationship between widows and gisaengs which I've frankly never heard of. Everything is new in this drama including how the reveal has been done.

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I think so too, they have made it too obvious in just 4 eps, there must be a plot twist later

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I think so too they've just made it too obvious and its only the first episode.

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If you think everything is new here then you need to watch more sageuk lol.

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I'll admit I only watch lite historical dramas because the serious ones are super boring for me. Still willing to bet widows and female assassins are not the usual formulae nor is mother daughter love stories common place in rom com dramas. Or the cross dresser getting discovered by the main lead in episode 2. You have to admit most of these things are new. This is not a drama that takes itself seriously anyway its just supposed to be funny and cute.

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Most probably Dong-joo is from a noble family who supported Nokdu as the heir to the throne. Her whole family is then killed on Gwanghae's order, so she wants revenge.

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I enjoyed Jang Dong Yoon's flailing and acting like a virtuous, prude widow so much that I am not looking forward at all to the eventuality of him dropping his guise.

The story and everything else aren't doing much for me.

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If you enjoyed his flailing about then just wait when they both start flailing about trying to cover his secret. He doesn't drop his disguise for at least 80 percentage of the drama maybe till episode 10 or 11 he will still have his disguise. You can enjoy the flailing for a long long time.

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This was probably my favourite premiere episode of the new shows. A fun breezy plot with two great lead actors. Didn’t know I needed to see Jang Dong Yoon cross dressing this badly. Can’t wait to what other hijinks this show will hold as their relationship gets even more complicated

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I'm eagerly excited about all the hijinks these two will get in to. I'm already enjoying their cohabitation hijinks so much.

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Best pilot episode of 2019 and the hilarity ensues right off the bat!! JDY blends into female perfectly and his bickering relationship with KSH is too funny!! Virtuous women corps was the most hilarious and I love these power puff girls tossing him around!! Hahahaha

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Clever of them to make a plot point out of giving KSH better hair than in some other shows :)

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Cough *Radio Romance* cough, cough.

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Really? I genuinely think Kim Su-Hyun was really pretty in that drama. But the story was, err, b*ring as HE**.

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Is "b*ring" now a banned word ?
:)

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Trying too hard to not being offensive. ^_^

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This was a good start to what looks like a great drama. The plot and premise were laid out in a non confusing manner. Story progressed very quickly and there were no disappointing moments at any point. There are many interesting characters and back stories to explore. The widows and the female assassins are very unique and not seen before in historical dramas. The concept of women protecting women is unique and interesting.

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Very good start and good acting by everyone.

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This drama is my new happy place ♡ I'm going to spend every week looking forward to it.

Virtuous, twitchy, scandalised Jang Dongyoon just fills me with so much glee. He's doing such a great job! I'm looking forward to Dongjoo discovering the washboard abs Nokdu's hiding under his hanbok 👀

Politics-wise, I'm guessing Nokdu has a better claim to the throne than King Gwanghae, a la what just went down in Rookie Historian. Interested to find out about his true parentage, but I hope he reunites with his dad and brother, because he clearly loves them a lot!

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One of the best things about this whole drama - women come in all shapes and sizes! Body positivism and camaraderie! Its a great drama with all the gender tropes reversed in the best way!

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A sageuk drama full of women finally happened.

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I was somehow very concerned about the cross dressing at first because it didn’t look very convincing to me but now as the drama has started, I had to question my eyes as almost all the comments are saying that Nokdu is even prettier than Dong Joo. Of course they had to lessen So Hyun beauty to follow the webtoon, but to cross dressing and be prettier than Kim So Hyun is such a hard task. I was amazed at the response to Nokdu beauty
And on a side note, Nokdu really gives the same vibes as Moon Jung Won, the twin Seo Eun and Seo Jun mother, anyone?

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This was my favourite premiere of this fall offerings right with Secret Boutique. I don't care much about birth secrets right now, I just enjoyed those young actors and their great rapport. And like with every fusion sageuk I just hope "court talking heads" won't dominate screen in latter part.

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I find this an interesting followup to Rookie Historian in terms of women’s rights in the past what with widows running away to save their lives and young gisaeng’s abut to be raped.

I was glad that the story was not as superficial as the synopsis stated. I was expecting Nokdu to enter the village to escape from an unwanted marriage. Though the prospect of such a marriage is looming on the horizon for Nokdu that wasn’t his reason for leaving the island nor entering the widows village at all. The fact that he was almost assassinated gives him very legitimate motives. Of course there is a birth secret involved. Is the hero once again the rightful heir to the throne?

My historical questions from this drama:
- Did the custom of widows being expected to commit suicide after their husband’s death a Japanese custom transferred to Korea?
- What exactly did the wealthy lord mean by making the young girl a real gisaeng? Is it what it looked like?
- What is the significance of a woman or gisaeng’s hair being cut?

Overall, I'm sold. I was already looking forward to this with the premise, the actors and the promos and I am so glad it is delivering all the fun one could expect from a cross dressing comedy. Nokdu's suitor, LOL. And I already love the Virtuous Women Corps. I am also glad that the ratings look so promising and are on the rise. I hope VIP's arrival next week doesn't slow them down.

On to watching to the next episode now!

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Actually, I'm quite disappointed that the drama plot changed the motive of Nokdu's reason of coming to the widows' village because I think birth secrets are a bit too overdone in historical dramas these days. And the fact he escaped to avoid an arranged marriage aligns with the non-sensical idea of a man who chose to do drag on purpose. Yet I got to admit that a birth secret can offer a more sustainable plot on the long term than an excuse to avoid committment.
Answers about your questions concerning Korean history:
-Widows were treated with contempt, especially during the later Joseon Era, because they were considered the source of their husband's death (probably bad luck). They can't return to their families, probably it would cause them shame and daughters were of no use so they were considered burdens, and temporary guests you hosted until they got married. So widows were told to attempt suicide, or in other cases, if they were still young to bear children, they could get married again.
This is why there was this practice called "bossam" when the future bride's family would prevent her widowhood by symbolically marrying her to a dead man (in a way, she won't cause the death of her next husband as her first husband already took his place in the afterlife). This was quite gruesome because it consisted of kidnapping a random man then killing him. Afterwards, the man's corpse was put in a sack and it was placed next to the future bride who had to spend a night with him to mark their wedding night.

-Technically, gisaengs can have "husbands" (in Korean, I think they're called "pillar husband", which now has the connotation of "pimp" in the modern world), who were their protector and were their priority customer. The gisaeng would even have a marriage ceremony wherein the "husband" would bind up her hair. In brief, she is the property of the pillar husband, and she has to serve him first, and only him in some cases.

-About the taboo concerning haircuts, old Koreans, both men and women, were not allowed to cut their hair because it meant them offending and hurting their parents as you inherit your features from your parents, so your parents are still symbolically present within yourself. So cutting hair was in some case a punishment for some crimes or a method of humiliation.

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Didn't see your reply till later. I'm terrible at explaining things so thank you for going into detail :).

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I agree about birth secrets being overdone, I didn't mean I was glad of that side of the story, just the fact that there is some mystery in his past he needs to solve is to me a better prospect than running away from an unwanted marriage. Also I like the fact that rather than arriving and entering the village because he is on the run he went in there following someone.

I am not familiar with the original material besides knowing that it exists so I don't know what changes were made but the one that bugs me and buggs me since I heard of it is the childhood friend who is in love with the heroine. So far his scenes were my least favorite in the drama.

Thanks for all the historical information. Now that I ead your comments I remembered many a parent threatening their daughters with cutting their hair off. Because they had their hair rolled around their head with very elaborate dos I thought it was a bigger deal for gisaengs.

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Korea didn't adopt that tradition from Japan. It goes way back to the early 3 kingdom era.
Widows committing suicide when their husband died is being exaggerated. If a widow does that it would be seen as honorable in showing her devotion to her husband.
I think it was most likely a widow's choice.

I think making a real gisaeng out of her in this drama means, to raise her hair after sleeping with her.
Unmarried women had their hair down. Married women had their hair up.
Cutting the hair is an act of rebellion. Gisaeng had high standards with their appearance, the way they act, speak etc. After all their job was to entertain and converse with noble men.

I'm guessing our leading lady wants none of those and will do everything in her power to fail at meeting the expected standard in becoming a gisaeng.

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“ I'm guessing our leading lady wants none of those and will do everything in her power to fail at meeting the expected standard in becoming a gisaeng.”

That’s pretty clear. The question then is why is the Madame (or whatever the proper title is for the head of the gibing) keeping her around and helping her out? Could it possibly be the work of the second male lead - who knows her secrets, knows she has to hide out, etc?

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I don't know. I guess we'll find out later lol.

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My guess is that she is also somehow on the run and they are providing protection for her by keeping her there. I cannot see another reason why Madame allows her adventures outside the gibang and why there is no pressure on her to become a proper gisaeng. I assume second male lead is afraid something will happen to her so her threat is to leave that protection.

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Thanks for the information! The only reason I thought of Japan was the harakiri custom in Japan and a reference to the village being established after the Japanese invasion.

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@teriyaki
You are so right calling the cross-dressing his alter ego. I also has a feeling that he is so into it to the point that he can get into the character of a widow just as soon as he wakes up. But given that he is so intelligent, it's quite believable that everything he did was well calculated and carefully executed.

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It's funny but I get Nokdu's bloody horror at taking a bath with the other women, not because his secret is going to be exposed, but even as a woman, I don't like baring myself in front of total strangers :D Public bath houses are definitely a huge no-no for me.

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Public baths are a horror I would never go to one willingly either. I've never understood why people would want to bond while being stark naked. The number of kpop stars who shared stories of getting close with their members while bathing together horrified me in the beginning now I'm more used to but its still weird.

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I think taking a bath together with people your gender is common in the east asian culture. Try experiencing korean public bath-house or janpanese onsen.

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Turkish baths have the same principle but I wonder how common or liked the customs are among the younger generations.

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I am with you. I am not used to nor like even changing clothes in front of other people (I mean being completely nude). The whole "we are all women" thing doesn't work for me. I have many friends from around the world and was in shock once when a Spanish friend just stripped right in front of me to try a bikini.

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My current favourite drama
Comedy,plot n comrade on point...no regrets

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Same. No regrets even when re-watching it for the 4th time already.

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I'am strange? that i like monday after i discover this drama 😅

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You're not the only one.

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I liked Jang Dong Yoon in a poem a day and was rooting for his character all the way. Glad to see that here he will be the protagonist and get the girl..even if he has to dress as one. And he looks so pretty dressed as a girl. 😄
So far I'm enjoying this a lot. It's fun and the romance looks promising, the leads have great chemistry.

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nokdu just too pretty! omo!

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I'm awed by how pretty he is as a female. Yet at the same time very manly as a male. I've always thought he was a good actor but now I'm deeply impressed.

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thanks for the recap...this show seems like it would be fun to watch...unfortunately i don't think i have seen this available for me:-(

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Its on VIKI and VIU if you're looking for this on something legal.

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I was in the mood for a funny drama and this one did not disappoint.

Jang Dong Yoon is a pleasant surprise here. His acting is convincing and it looks like he’s giving it his all, even during the more embarrassing moments.

The King looked soooo familiar, but I had to look him up to check out the actor. Jung Joon Ho surprised me. He looked different from his role in SKY CASTLE. Really anticipating his performance.

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Best premier episode this week hands down! What a great start and hooks you right in! The chemistry is so strong from the moment they meet! In love with the three virtuous women and they way they just tossed him out like he was a rag doll! Nokdu is pretty as a flower and his admirer is hilarious! This one is for keeps all the way! This is how you do a romantic comedy take note!

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JANG DONG YOON is one attractive woman. Bowled over completely by his beauty and waaaay more convincing than women dressing as boys. I hated Moonlight because of how Disney it was but Nokdu is off to a much better start.

KIM SO HYUN suits the spunky characters better then other stuff she did recently. They didn't give much background on her character yet but I already stan her.

The CHEMISTRY is the best I've seen in a romcom this year. I would watch them bicker all day every day.

The WIDOW VILLAGE is a cool concept but lets see what they do with. The community of women is something I can totally root for.

Great start and totally original concept.

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hehehe...i'm not stop laughing all through this episode why so funny?! hehehe!! please new episodes soon...nokdu so pretty!

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I just noticed the recaps for both episodes are up so I thought I'd leave a few comments. To me this was a great premier week for the drama and I enjoyed the mesh of action, comedy and romance. I thought all the elements were done well and properly balanced. I've been noticing the chemistry since the teasers itself and I'm happy to the say the drama did not let us down in that department. I'm now eagerly awaiting for more shenanigans. This drama is a perfect replacement for the Rookie Historian shaped hole in my weekly schedule.

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I'm not one-hundred percent sure how I feel about this drama yet. There were parts I really liked, and parts that I felt a little like I missed a step on. I'm going to write off those moments as due to my lack of knowledge of that time period, but it does make me wonder if I'm not going to appreciate/enjoy the show to the full extent because of that.
Otherwise, I'm loving the reverse gender-swap, and how Nokdu is so confident in combat and yet gets completely flustered/beat around anything female. At the very least, the show does make me laugh and the individual mysteries have me curious.

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Re-watching the episodes while waiting for new ones. That's how good this is. JDY walking out of the sea is yummy.

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