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Tale of Nokdu: Episodes 5-6

Once our hero’s roommate learns his secret, it’s practically impossible for him to discover what’s really going on in the widows’ village. That doesn’t stop him though and he makes progress until he suffers a serious setback. After our gisaeng-in-training gets an offer that she can’t refuse, our hero approaches her with an interesting proposition and it looks as if they’ll be stuck with each other for the foreseeable future.

 
EPISODE 5: “Composite Sketch”

The Muweol Corps escorts several ministers in white robes to the shrine. Minister Heo is about to explain the purpose of the meeting when a disturbance requires his attention. Minister Heo enters the gibang with Lady Cheon as Ssook conducts a room to room search.

Everyone freezes after a very unladylike groan is heard coming from the dressing room. Nok-du places his hand over Dong-joo’s mouth and whispers something as Ssook approaches the door. When Minister Heo signals her to enter, Ssook pulls a dagger from her sleeve.

Ssook throws open the doors and finds Dong-joo sitting with Lady Kim/Nokdu. Dong-joo explains that she was getting her hair trimmed and Nokdu holds up the scissors as proof, his face smeared with red makeup. When Lady Cheon demands to know what happened to Nokdu’s face, Dong-joo applies more makeup to his lips.

Ssook questions why a man’s voice came from the dressing room. Nokdu bumps Dong-joo’s earlobe and when she lets out a deep moan, he confesses that he accidentally cut her. Wanting to tend to her injury, Nokdu guides Dong-joo out of the dressing room and hides from Minister Heo, who turns away as well.

Once they’re outside, Dong-joo drags Nokdu to a quiet spot and a tiny flashback lets us know what he whispered, “I saved your life in Hanyang. You pretended to be a man as well. Should I tell Lady Cheon about it?” Dong-joo accuses Nokdu of following her from Hanyang but he explains that it just looks that way. When some gisaeng walk by, Dong-joo throws her arm across Nokdu’s shoulders as if they’re having a friendly chat.

At his palace, King Gwanghae asks his guard if he checked all of the nearby islands and he confirms that he did. The king sounds interested when he’s told about an island where all of the inhabitants are women.

Prince Yeongchang walks by with his mother and she shields her son protectively when King Gwanghae approaches. The king ominously warns the boy about getting sick after being out in the cold, “When it comes to misfortunes, they come all of a sudden without a warning.” Terrified, Prince Yeongchang’s mother hurries him away.

Outside of the gibang, Minister Heo orders Lady Cheon to strengthen security. When he rejoins the other ministers, Minister Heo explains that since King Gwanghae has been eliminating those who are close to Prince Yeongchang, their revolt must happen soon.

In her room, Dong-joo points the scissors at Nokdu after questioning him about his reason for being in the widows’ village. Nokdu borrows the story of the couple that he helped to escape and claims that he’s waiting for his lady love. Nokdu promises to leave the village as soon as they’re reunited.

Dong-joo can’t believe that she asked Nokdu to be her “Unni.” When she recalls how Nokdu scratched her back, she hits him until he reminds Dong-joo that she touched him too and she’s suddenly hot.

Nokdu offers to sleep outside but Dong-joo won’t let him out of her sight. Nokdu balks at sharing a room now that Dong-joo knows the truth, forcing Dong-joo to spend the night outside to keep an eye on him. When Dong-joo starts snoring, Nokdu opens the door and he’s greeted by scissors pressed into his crotch.

Later, Nokdu pokes a hole in the door to peer outside but Dong-joo jabs him in the eye. Vowing to stay awake all night, Dong-joo wakes up in the morning to find her room empty.

Nokdu visits the shrine and decides that one of the men who was there must give the Muweol Corps their orders. Nokdu thinks about the attack on his family and wonders why they were targeted. Nokdu feels that the answer has something to do with the Muweol ladies.

The gisaeng gossip about the filthy punk that everyone is looking for. Nokdu nervously asks for details and when he learns that there’s a sketch of the intruder, he covers his head.

Dong-joo catches up to Nokdu and she drags him back to her room. She yells at him for escaping but Nokdu is distracted by the breakfast tray that includes seaweed soup. Nokdu confesses that it’s his birthday, the only personal information that his father ever gave him.

Nokdu reaches for Dong-joo’s bowl when she confesses that she doesn’t like seaweed soup but she protests, “I do not hate it enough to give it to you.” Grousing that Dong-joo should pay her debts by being kind, she snaps that she’s not indebted to anyone.

Dong-joo changes the subject by calling Nokdu a pervert for flirting with the gisaeng. A noise outside puts a stop to their bickering and when a trainee opens Dong-joo’s door to summon her to dance practice, she finds Dong-joo and Nokdu feeding each other. Before practice, Dong-joo trims her hair properly and then she forces Nokdu to come along.

As the trainees dance, it’s painfully obvious that Dong-joo is the least coordinated one there. Nokdu watches with amusement until Lady Cheon tries to help Dong-joo, giving him the chance to slip away. When he sees some gisaeng with a sketch of the intruder, Nokdu gets an idea.

Some women run past Ssook and her team with news that a widow ran into the intruder. The woman pay attention as Nokdu shows them the gash on his arm and describes the confrontation. An evil Nokdu tussles with Lady Kim, who throws the attacker over her shoulder. Lady Kim was cut when evil Nokdu pulled out a knife but in the ensuing struggle, he was slashed across one of his eyes. When Ssook asks for the intruder’s location, Nokdu directs her to the neighboring village.

After dance practice, Dong-joo is annoyed when she can’t find Nokdu but his absence gives her a chance to visit her mountain hideout. Mae Hwa-soo has an addition for Dong-joo’s rare comb collection, a comb so fine that even the court ladies have nothing like it.

Nokdu adds a slash across one eye to the sketch of the intruder, along with some other changes. Soon-nyeo takes the sketch so that the Virtuous Women Corps can search the neighboring village and before she leaves, she invites Nok-du to join their ranks.

Yeon-hoon questions how Lady Kim could fight so effectively against a man. As Lady Kim, Nokdu explains that because of the many generals in her mother’s family, she grew up with a wooden sword in her hand.

When Nokdu asks the women where they’re headed, Yeon-hoon blurts out that they’re after the intruder but Ssook answers that they need to collect firewood. Nokdu offers his services since since he’s good with an ax, forcing his assassin to break away from the others to search for the intruder on her own.

In her mountain hideout, Dong-joo adds Mae Hwa-soo’s comb to her collection. She picks up the bow and as she practices, Dong-joo laments, “I will never have a chance like that again.”

In the forest, Nokdu’s skill with an ax impresses his companions. After felling one tree, Nokdu goes in search of another one but it’s just a cover so that he can eavesdrop on the women. When they discuss the next day’s “project,” Nokdu plans to join them.

While chopping down another tree, Nok-du’s muscles split the jacket of his hanbok and in his panic, he steps on his skirt and it falls from his body. Nokdu covers himself with the skirt and runs off just at Ssook announces that it’s time to go.

Dong-joo leaves her lair and runs into a desperate Nokdu. Dong-joo is enjoying having Nokdu beg for her help but when she hears Ssook calling for Lady Kim, she grabs his hand and they jump into the river. When they surface, Ssook’s team looks confused so Dong-joo explains that she asked Lady Kim to bathe with her.

After Ssook’s team returns to the brewery, Nokdu and Dong-joo dry out on a large rock. When a shirtless Nokdu offers Dong-joo his coat, she insists, “You cover yourself up.” Nokdu asks Dong-joo if she really came out to practice and she has to pretend that she did since she can’t say anything about her hideout.

Nokdu admits that Dong-joo needs the practice and she argues that the dance is harder than it looks. When Nokdu stands up to give it a try, Dong-joo jokingly proposes, “I will be your daughter if you can pull off even one dance move.”

Nokdu flips open Dong-joo’s fan and flawlessly performs the dance after seeing it just once. Nokdu calls out to Dong-joo, “Hey, my daughter,” and she mutters, “I already did not like him, but I hate him now.” Lol.

Nokdu pulls Dong-joo to her feet to teach her the dance but he soon realizes that she has no rhythm. When Dong-joo loses her balance, Nokdu catches her and they look into each other’s eyes.

EPISODE 6: “I Want You to Leave”

Nokdu smiles when he tells Dong-joo, “Let us find a new career for you.” She pushes him away but Nokdu teases, “I do not believe you are meant to be a gisaeng. In life, you cannot do everything you want just because you want to.”

Dong-joo makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be a gisaeng and retorts, “You cannot avoid doing some things just because you want to.” Nokdu confesses that he was denied the opportunity to do anything and pledges that from now on, he’ll live like everyone else.

Dong-joo is stunned when Nokdu sympathizes with her and at the sight of her flushed cheeks, he jokes, “Do you find me good-looking all of a sudden?” He’s surprised when Dong-joo doesn’t hit him so she punches Nokdu weakly and announces that it’s time to go back.

Yul-moo runs into them near the gisaeng house but Dong-joo ignores him. After telling Yul-moo how Dong-joo fell into the water, Nokdu gets scolded for not giving her his coat since she gets sick easily. Yul-moo hands Nokdu a remedy before hurrying to Dong-joo’s side but she refuses both his coat and his remedy.

Yul-moo has a special treat for Dong-joo and suggests, “Make sure you eat this by yourself.” When Dong-joo sees the okchundang (rice flour candy), she gives it to Nokdu as a birthday present.

Nokdu gasps in delight when he pops one into his mouth. Yul-moo suddenly remembers something and Nokdu guesses that it’s someone else’s birthday but is told, “No, it is nothing.”

The king visits a beautiful woman who recalls that all she could eat when she was carrying his child were the okchundang that Lady Kim gave her. She picks up a candy and wonders if the child would have liked them too.

King Gwanghae appeals to her, “The child is dead…Please stop it.” The woman protests, “We had to say goodbye as soon as I gave birth to our child. Why am I not allowed to miss my lost child?” Annoyed, the king stands up and finds Minister Heo staring at him.

As the king walks away, a piece of candy falls and rolls away just when Nokdu retrieves a dropped candy from the ground. He wipes it off and happily stuffs it in his mouth, unaware that the pervy aristocrat is watching Dong-joo. The aristocrat tells his servant that Dong-joo is definitely older than twelve. Ewww.

Master Hwang catches Nokdu’s father trying to leave in the middle of the night. Yoon-jo explains that he needs to find Nokdu but Master Hwang knows that he won’t come back until his questions are answered.

Yoon-jo fears those answers will place Nokdu in more danger but Master Hwang reminds him that the boy has been trained to defend himself. Master Hwang mentions the tigers waiting to eat Yoon-jo and gets him to go back inside.

That night, Dong-joo sits outside of her room, connected to Nokdu with a rope. When Nokdu explains that he’s not at all interested in women, Dong-joo asks if he loves his lady that much. Nokdu gazes at Dong-joo’s silhouette and confesses, “Of course, I do.”

In the morning, Dong-joo finds a note from Nokdu on the breakfast tray informing her that he’s at the brewery. The vice-curator approaches her, looking for Lady Kim, and he’s alarmed when he learns that she went to the village alone.

At the brewery, Ssook follows Nokdu when he carries away a pot. Nokdu investigates a room and locates a supply cupboard and when Ssook finds him, he pretends that he’s lost. At the same time, Nokdu’s assassin studies two sketches of the intruder, the one that Nokdu altered and an original one.

Dong-joo gazes into a pond as she grapples with what the vice curator told her about the intruder, “I heard he is quite wicked. When it comes to women, he tempts anyone from gisaengs to widows.”

Dong-joo arrives at the brewery in time to see one of the Muweol ladies stumble, only to be caught by Nokdu. When the woman gushes that her heart fluttered, Yeon-hoon drags her away and Ssook explains that the woman is just lonely. As soon as Nokdu is alone, Dong-joo makes her presence known.

At the gisaeng house, Nokdu’s assassin locates Dong-joo’s room while Dong-joo confronts Nokdu about being the man who was chased from the village. Dong-joo orders him to get out after what she’s heard and when Nokdu wants to know if she believes the rumors, Dong-joo stresses it’s what the village believes. Nokdu’s assassin readies her dagger but she decides that she needs help.

As Dong-joo escorts Nokdu from the gisaeng house, she advises, “Do not do anything stupid and just lie low.” Nokdu has advice of his own, “If something happens to me, tell them you did not know.” Dong-joo surprises Nokdu by tearing off a piece of her underskirt to bandage the gash on his arm and when she’s done, she tells him to go.

Nokdu’s assassin runs for help with hardly a limp until a sword emerges from a bamboo grove and is held against her neck.

That night, Ssook meets with her team in the room that Nokdu investigated. She asks why Deul-re, Nokdu’s assassin, hasn’t shown up and decides to proceed without her. As Ssook sets out a letter and announces, “He is the man we must kill tonight,” Nokdu listens from the supply cupboard.

Since their target is located in the center of the capital, Ssook announces that only one of them can perform the task. Yeon-hoon volunteers, angered because the man killed his daughter-in-law after giving birth to his grandchild, just to gain a virtue stone. When Yeon-hoon has to get something from the supply cupboard, Nokdu falls out.

An upset Mae Hwa-soo finds Dong-joo and then looks over at the servants of the pervy aristocrat. Inside the gibang, Lady Cheon shakily pours some tea as her visitor explains that he’s learned his lesson and settled on Dong-joo.

When Lady Cheon tries to dissuade the lord, he throws his drink in her face and smashes his cup and a flying fragment cuts her face. He reminds Lady Cheon that because he’s an aristocrat, he gets what he wants, which is why he came with a palanquin.

The lord vows to shut down the gibang and force everyone into slavery if Lady Cheon refuses. He plans to send Lady Cheon to a remote island and cackles when he informs her that most people die before they even get there. They’re interrupted when Dong-joo throws open the doors.

With three daggers pointed at his throat, Nokdu holds up a jade ring that he returned for, hoping that it’s worth something. Nokdu admits that he heard the women planning to kill someone and before they can kill him, he suggests, “What if I say I will do the job?”

The pervy aristocrat is thrilled by the thought that Dong-joo welcomes his attention but when she avoids his touch, he storms out. Alone with Lady Cheon, Dong-joo expresses her gratitude, “You saved me from that hole when I was a little girl. And I have been grateful for that every single day.”

The aristocrat returns with a sword that he holds up to Dong-joo’s neck, “Will you come with me? Or will you die?” Lady Cheon is horrified when Dong-joo cooly answers that she can’t leave, explaining that she needs time to get properly dressed.

The aristocrat doesn’t trust her but Dong-joo assures him that she’d never place the gisaeng house in danger. The lord lowers his sword and after giving Lady Cheon a deadline, he walks out laughing.

Nokdu kneels while the Muwoel ladies discuss his fate. When pressed by Yeon-hoon, Nokdu explains that he’s willing to kill if it pays well since he has sick parents to care for. Ssook agrees to give Nokdu a chance, reasoning that it’s easier than disposing of a body.

Mae Hwa-soo does her best not to cry as she applies Dong-joo’s makeup but Dong-joo complains, “You are looking at me as if this will be our last time seeing each other in this life.” Dong-joo shows Mae Hwa-soo the dagger hidden in her sleeve and tells her not to worry.

When Mae Hwa-soo asks if Lady Kim heard the news, Dong-joo informs her that she left. Mae Hwa-soo is alarmed that Lady Kim left so late in the day, something that Dong-joo didn’t even think about.

Nokdu walks through the forest clutching the letter that names his target as he recalls his deal with Ssook’s team — succeed and he not only gets paid, but a chance to join their team. If Nokdu fails, he’s dead.

Nokdu hears Mae Hwa-soo’s sobs and sees that she and Lady Cheon are escorting a gisaeng to a waiting palanquin. He witnesses Dong-joo bidding farewell to her friend, who sobs that the last girl that they sent came back dead.

Dong-joo promises not to die and when Nokdu remembers the day that she cut off her hair, he realizes where she’s going. Nokdu glances down at the paper in his hand as the palanquin closes with Dong-joo inside.

When she arrives at the aristocrat’s house, Dong-joo enters alone. She sees a man in an indigo gown waiting behind a screen and closes the doors. Dong-joo announces herself and as she bows, she readies her dagger.

A man approaches and when he lifts Dong-joo’s face, she’s surprised to see Nokdu. He notes, “It seems you are happy to see me, but at the same time, you are appalled at the sight of me.” Dong-joo scoffs in disbelief when Nokdu moves closer and announces, “…starting today, I am…your mother.”

 
COMMENTS

Another twist in what’s turning out to be a dizzying string of disguises and fake personas. Nokdu posing as Dong-joo’s mother should be a hoot because it forces her to treat him with the respect of a parent, a complete 180 from how she normally treats him. And of course, Nokdu will be sure to milk their pretend relationship as much as possible. I can’t wait.

Not knowing how Nokdu ended up in the aristocrat’s house, I can only imagine that the man won’t be happy to have lost the opportunity to have Dong-joo. Nokdu and Dong-joo will have to go on the run and what better way to disguise themselves than by posing as a mother and a daughter (or son). No one will be searching for that, at least not at first. But then they can pose as sister and brother, or two sisters, two brothers… The possibilities are practically endless.

I have to confess, I’ve never warmed up to Kim So-hyun until now. She’s made Dong-joo into such a complicated, yet appealing, character and her chemistry with all of her costars is outstanding. Jang Dong-yoon, how does he do it? He’s convincing as a man and as a woman. Nokdu is all man when he’s with Dong-joo, even though he’s dressed as a woman. He performs a gisaeng dance elegantly even though he’s a man. Now that Dong-joo knows that Nokdu is actually a man, he changes his gait ever so slightly and looks at her differently whenever they’re alone, causing the romantic tension to suddenly skyrocket. But in a heartbeat, he’s back to being a demure widow. It’s so much fun to watch his performance and not just because his muscular physique is regularly featured.

So far, Tale of Nokdu has hit a perfect balance between the serious and the fun, all while introducing important details. Nokdu’s birthday okchun is perfectly paired with the revelation that King Gwanghae fathered a child with a woman who craved that very candy while pregnant. Is she Nokdu’s mother or is the association just a red herring? And does Dong-joo share Nokdu’s birthday? Is that why seaweed soup was included in her breakfast?

I didn’t expect Tale of Nokdu to be such a satisfying experience so early in its run. I laugh out loud at the antics of Nokdu and Dong-joo, I want to wipe the creepy smile from the pervy aristocrat’s face and I dread the broken heart that’s waiting for the vice-curator. What I’m most looking forward to is the inevitable love connection between our two main characters. Even though Nokdu and Dong-joo seem poised to present themselves as a mother and a daughter, a romance between them somehow doesn’t seem at all strange.

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Jang Dong-Yoon is killing it. He is so manly when he's Nokdu but instantly believable as a widow. I see him as both a woman and a man which is amazing. But what's even more incredible - is that when he is still dressed as a woman, he seems manly now with Dong-joo. Kudos to JDY because he's nailing the duality of the character, the action, comedy and the romance. I knew he was one to watch but WOW.

I really hope his character is not the misplaced prince. I read a theory that it is his brother who is the prince baby that was supposed to be killed. Also, what's up with the King? Did he really try to murder his son? Why does he want to kill his kids? Doesn't he need an heir?

I find Kim So-Hyun to be the most interesting when the character is interesting. The more she has to sink her teeth into, the better her performances seem. Like typical candy-characters - her performances don't feel as compelling. Spunky characters are so perfect for her. Dong-joo is a great character for her and their chemistry is great. Even with a look, I can feel the heat.

I really love this show. It's moving at a great pace while juggling all these genres and amazing characters. It's one of the shows I look forward to the most.

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I think its his brothers the king is out to murder. Like the little Prince - that's the son of his father. He specifically called the princes' mother, "mother" as well. (I think)

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Yep. The ministers are out to install the child as king, and the king is out to kill all the legitimate heirs to the throne.

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And the Minister is out to kill the King's child? Why would he want to take the throne and not leave any legitimate heirs behind?

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"I read a theory that it is his brother who is the prince baby that was supposed to be killed."

I have been thinking that as well. It would be nice if the story would go that way.

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I've been saying this from the beginning the birth secret is a definite red herring. Now more and more people are thinking along the same lines I see. Another clue popped up this week that maybe Dongju and Nokdu were born on the same day a few years apart. There must be another mystery behind that. Is she Gwanghee's child because according to what they hinted the royal baby was born months after the war not during it. Any theories on that?

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"I've been saying this from the beginning the birth secret is a definite red herring."

Yes, I've also been thinking this since the beginning, but I lurk more than actually comment. LOL

I'm not sure about your thoughts regarding Dongju. I have to think some more about that. There are definitely more secrets that need to be revealed.

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I'm not sure about Dongju yet but it would be an interesting reversal if they went down that route. I don't think any of us would actually expect it to be a possibility.

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If what you think about Dongju is true that would be quite the reversal. I don't think they'll go that route but it would be interesting if they did.

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Damn that would be a plot twist!!

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Count me in on the birth secret being a red herring. All the clues are a tad bit too obvious.

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The look on Lady Cheon and Ssook makes me feel uncomfortable for awhile. Almost like they didn't by any of Nok-Du and Dong-Joo excuses. Then they let it slide like nothing happen and I was relieved.

And that creepy dirty aristocrat. Eewwww. I want to kick him in the groin area so that it gets disable and couldn't be used anymore.

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Thanks for the recap! This was one of my most anticipated shows and it hasn't disappointed! Well, mostly. I'm saving my quibbles for when they become more of a problem.

I admit, I was almost a bit bummed Dong-joo found out about Nokdu's secret so quickly, even if I loved how it happened, hehe. But I've also been dying to see Jang Dong-yoon looking seductively over at Kim So-hyun since I glimpsed it in the trailers for this. So not complaining at all. Now that definitely did not disappoint.

Their hijinks now that she's in on his secret have been just as fun too.

I'm loving the running bit of Nokdu ending up with Yul-moo's sweets. It's hilarious but also makes me think he didn't get to try such things very often.

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Jang DongYoon is superb as Nokdu, hope it will be noticed and give him more opportunities in more mature roles. Kim SoHyun is a blank page for me, she is as good as character she portrayals and in this drama she is too doing splendid job.
Whenever I watch drama involving kisaengs I get reminded about rant I read in my early drama watching days, how much their portrayal in dramas is marred by Japanese occupation influence and that they were not mere high class prostitutes. And given that all kisaengs were property of the state i.e slaves already, how mere aristocrat could threaten to close state run establishment and sell state owned slaves into slave hood? I know it's bears no connection to the story but it always bothered me.

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See, what I love about this show is that it has a great balance between the elements - the fun, the serious, the romance. It's great, and I could only hope that it maintains that balance throughout its run.

As for our two main leads, both of them are doing a splendid job! I've always been a fan of Kim So Hyun and I must say that it is in spunky roles like Dong Joo does she truly shine. She doesn't disappoint, she does a good job of portraying the charms and faces of Dong Joo. As for Jang Dong Yoon, I'm going to already declare this role as his representative one. Nok Du will make him big. He was able to hold his own opposite KSH and he's completely believable both as a demure widow and an athletic aspiring general. Not to mention their chemistry!! When I first learned of the casting knews, I was worried at first about their chemistry. But the moment I saw their script reading photos, trailers, and behind the scenes, I just mentally slapped myself because daaaang they really do look good together. Their synergy both onscreen and offscreen is amazing. It's also cute how they both are comfortable with each other and bicker even when the films aren't rolling lmao.

Thanks for the recap! Waiting for the one for episodes 7-8.
(and also, can't believe I'm saying this but can it be Monday already?)

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I think Lady Cheon knows 'Lady Kim' is not all she seems. It's not hinted at all, but she runs the kibang and her training is all about observation of interaction between males and females!

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I think that becomes more clear in the next ep. with a flashback to what happened before Nokdu got to the guest house.

I didn't really understand what happened to the aristocrat. Either the palanquin had to end up at a different place than planned (but how?) or Nokdu had to get rid of the aristocrat who was waiting (but how?).

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Didn't Yul Mu and his assistant get rid of the aristocrat?

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(but how?)

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I think there's something that's yet to be revealed about Mul Yul and his position in society. There's definitely more than meets the eye to him, and it's still not explained what his relationship with Dong Joo is, besides he's in lurrrve with her.

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Maybe blackmail? Or threats? I'd suppose threats.

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I don't think Lady Cheon suspects anything yet about Lady Kim. Her character is still in the dark. I want to know which side she stands on and why she keeps Dongju under her protection.

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JDY is gonna win awards for this show if the storyline keeps it up. I'm a KSH fan so she's doing excellent as usual, but I'm glad that this pairing for her as lead actress is with an actor a little closer in real age with her because I feel she's a little more at ease with her acting.

In this respect I love the cheekiness that Nokdu brings with him, "Do I suddenly look manly to you?" because I can totally believe Dong Joo's blush. These kids are. Just. Too. Cute. Together.

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I am glad her fans like her performance.

However, for me, here KSH feels like she is playing KSH not her character. Moreover, her comedic timing remains all over the place and it is making it so much harder for JDY to mesh with her.

Yes they are cute...but cute isn't enough to carry this drama over 16eps.

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I think they mesh perfectly and the comedic parts are given to JDY and it's KSH reacting to him most of the time. These two are the most perfect couple for each other.

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I’m not the biggest fan of hers but I think her performance complements jdy really well. I seen her in like two talk shows, and I’ll have to describe her as more of a shy/somewhat bubbly type person, so I didn’t see ksh playing ksh here but then again I only seen her in two talk shows.

I think her character is suppose to be more of the heavy weight(the straight, serious man as we speak) of the duo to balance the comedy because if you have two main characters being super silly, it can make the show go off rail and corny.

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It was relatively recent that Kim so Hyun stated that she wished to play light characters with a comedic flair in the future because most of her roles have been more in the serious side. I hope she does so in the future, because I wouldn’t say that dong Joo Joo is a funny character although there are times that her character does some funny things. Like what the other posters stated, her character is there to react to nokdu wackiness behaviors.

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How about you make that decision after finishing the drama. No to mention that you're statement is utterly false especially when Weightlifting Fairy and You're Beautiful is the biggest proof that cute is all you need to make someone fall head over heels in love with a drama. Maybe this genre just isn't for you which is fine. There are plenty of other dramas to watch.

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@Shirley
If the bench mark for comments is ..."make that after finishing the drama"...then DB would be a very empty place.

I would also disagree that WF and YB were just cute. Light, sure. Teen, definitely. However, each did explore something more that just being cute.

We all watch dramas where we don't mesh with one element - that doesn't exclude it from out list - or mean that we don't want to discuss what we've seen. I tried to add to the discussion and layout my point as politely as possible. I didn't rain on anyone's parade and purposely stated that it was my own reading...also noting that I was happy other enjoyed her performance.

For me, the drama watch has been most enjoyable for JDY's take. Each week he is finding more nuance in his cross dressing role. That part is a treat and I wouldn't give up watching that just because of KSH.

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I agree with @sadkdramalama

Everyone has different likes and dislikes about everything and anything in life.

@shirley let’s just agree to disagree. No human is made the same. Some people will see the clouds blue and some people will see the clouds white. Time is too short to argue over the colors of the clouds hahaha

Let’s all just keep enjoying the show ^^

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I will let you have your point of view but you're definitely being too harsh on KSH. She's doing a brilliant job at being a good partner to JDY. Romantic chemistry isn't a one way street. If the chemistry is working in this drama it's because both of them are doing a great job with their characters and delivering what needs to be delivered.

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@helena

I don’t think sadkdramalama is being too harsh but I definitely agree chemistry is a two way street. For me, I won’t enjoy jdy performance as much without the nuance, wonderful performance of ksh. They both shine alone as individuals but together they’re like a chemical explosion of awesomeness. Imagining the show without ksh is a sad thought.

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Actually now that you guys are talking about it, I DO think that KSH could work on her comedic timing. But as @pranksalot8 noted, I think she know this is an area to work on and I'm glad she is actively seeking roles where she can grow as an actress. I've found her interviews and behind the scenes from other shows either very scripted or very, very cautious and careful, which I think can be expected from a child actress who has (hopefully!!) caring minders like her mom or dad. I read somewhere that she does manage her own social media, but she always checks in with mom first before posting. If this is the environment she grew up in and is surrounded by, then I can imagine why she's stiff and needs more experience with comedic timing in her acting. It's not something which can really be learned ("actress to wait 3 seconds then react") but has to be "felt".

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@purebristles her dad died when she was very young and she'e been the only breadwinner of her family since the age of 8 since her mum doesn't work. When she debuted she didn't even have an agency and she had a lot of struggles to get roles. Her interviews and behinds are scripted she actually is that guarded because she has always been very conscious of her image. She said she never hung out with other people until very very recently. She has always made her own decisions and her mother has never been controlling or conservative. If you haven't noticed she is extremely guarded when talking about her family and will never mention them during interviews nor are they permitted to ask any questions about her family. Her team is very protective of her but they never stop her from doing anything she wants. All her interviews are very natural and she always says what she wants to. She is very smart and avoids saying or doing anything controversial because she knows it can hurt her career and she would never want that to happen.

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You have this backwards completely. JDY is the funny character and KSH is the serious one she isn't supposed to have any comedic timing. Like someone said it's to prevent the drama from going off the rails with over the top comedy circa Waikiki. If anything her character is what grounds this show and allows JDY to wow us with all his antics.

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@Newbie
I do appreciate that early on KSH has been playing the comedic "Straight Man" - who grounds the other characters' antics - it still requires timing.

Just as in dancing, a couple may have very different expressions/roles, but if either's timing is off it's an issue for both. Imagine how scary performing a lift is for female dancer if their partner can't keep rhythm.

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Their is no mismatch in timing aren't you the only one who feels that way? I haven't seen anyone else say that. If anything everyone is enjoying their romantic chemistry the most and comedy the most.

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@Newbie

I think @sadkdramaland is entitled to their own opinion. I completely don’t understand how they could see it like that but every human is designed differently and are allowed to have different perspectives.

There’s no performance of any actor or actress where 100% of the viewers are going to like it. It’s the real world, let’s agree to disagree ^^

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@Newbie dear I agree with you but some people will always see things their own way do let it be. People just have different points of view. I absolutely don't see how @sadkdramalama can feel that way but as long as us the majority agrees we are completely enjoying both the actors then it's fine. Lets just agree to disagree.

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Actually, Jang DongYoon isn't closer in age to KSH as he is 27 and she is 20. For some reason he seems closer though. The "Radio Romance" guys were definitely a lot older but for the most part she stars with guys about 6 years older than she is.

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More than Age, it must be to do with JDY's personality and a few people among of her co-star who knows how to emote and has a clue how to create chemistry. It's not about looking good together. I think this is my fav of her pairing after her pairing with Yeo Jin Goo. But It's just my personal preference though

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They are each others perfect match. It doesn't happen often that two actors are an absolute perfect match for each other. This is one of those rare cases of such a match.

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True! You can see how perfect of a match it is by heir behind he scenes footage - even there you can see them teasing each other and bickering around🤣 suh cutieees

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They love to tease each other. That's why their chemistry is magical. They are each other's best partner.

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It's not very often. But it's not that rare and it won't be that rare if the main aim to cast someone is not popularity but their ability to act and at times the casting feels so random.

I still love JDY pairing with Park Se Wan. It's still JDY's most compatible pairing for me. The drama it'self is not focusing the couple so we didn't see the potential to the fullest.

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Damn their synergy is the best!! Always hilarious but also fluttering!!

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I'd have to agree as well. They fit each other wonderfully.

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Dong Joo and Nok Du bickering is one of the things I look forward to. And I love it that even thought DJ found out his secret, it didn't change the way she treats him... at first. ^^ I knew seeing those abs would have that eye-opening effect! Hahaha!

Nok Du having a lady is quite a good strategy as it would make him "safe" in her eyes for now, but when she does develop real feelings for him, the angst would be great.

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LOL at him busting his hanbok with his muscles while wielding that axe! HAHAHA! And he was going to cover himself with dried leaves?! Good thing Dong Joo arrived! HAHAHA! Props to JDY for this gut-busting physical comedy! Totally replayed this scene! ^^

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I was laughing so hard for 5 minutes... and reply that scene again. And laughing again. That's just too funny. Hahahha

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Omg the leaves, yes the leaves, I remember thinking - - that is BRILLIANT acting, because that shows his desperation; I therefore wasn't surprised when he dropped to his knees and begged Dongjoo IMMEDIATELY when he needed to. The desperate leaves of Nokdu!

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They bristle with each other all the time but when the situation calls for you they come running to help each other out. Their relationship is both cute and healthy.

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KSH quite literally shines in this role and JDY is delivering the performance of his life. He won't ever be able to top this. Together they make the perfect duo and this drama would never work without their tandem. They are perfect for each other in every way. Nokdu is completely outperforming Moonlight in every way. The writer clearly made efforts to improve her writing by spades.

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Ah I forgotten it was the same writer, now it makes me kinda worried because the second half of moonlight was depressing and they made the female character utterly useless, hopefully they don’t do the same here.

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Exactly why I don't want this to follow the MOONLIGHT route. The writer was so in love with her male lead that she forgot about her female lead.

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The gender roles are completely reversed her so lets see what happens. I also remember reading somewhere the webtoon author said she wrote this character only with KSH in mind (or somethig like that). That gives me hope for the female lead.

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Thank goodness I never saw that drama!! This one is so funny!! Loving their chemistry and the super cool assassin women!!

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@teriyaki

Loving the show and thanks for the caps! Just some info on the royals we've met.

1) King Gwanghaegun
2) Queen Yu (his wife who ate the candy whilst pregnant)
3) Queen Dowager Inmok (the king's stepmother and wife to his father King Seonjo)
4) Prince Yeongchang (son of Inmok and Seonjo)

Joseon preferred that it's kings were all lawful i.e. born of the marriage between the king and the queen, rather than a consort concubine. So in the eyes of many, Prince Yeongchang is better more "purer" (I guess) than King Gwanghaegun who is after all only the son of a royal consort concubine.

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Whats the deal with the King? Was he evil in history or is he just evil in this drama?

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Dare I say this is Kim Sohyun's best role so far? I somehow didn't find her overly compelling in Love Alarm or all that good of a fit into Radio Romance, and I didn't even get past the second episode of Ruler of the Mask, so I can't say that I've seen her truly shine (personally at least!), but I'm really enjoying her in this role.

I think she's doing a great job, and I feel like a lot of that has to do with how Jang Dongyoon seems to be the perfect foil for her! I'm loving their chemistry, and I look forward to both the scenes with romantic tension (how does Jang Dongyoon make the damp bun and hanbok + ABS look work so well?!?!?!) and the scenes where they're bickering and scrapping because they're both SO. GOOD. Every time I think I can't smile any wider, Nokdu uses his Madam Kim voice, or Dongjoo slaps him on the back, and I'm grinning beyond control.

Right now, I'm leaning in favour of Nokdu not being the son of the King, but I'm also interested to see if there are any more twists and turns that come as part of his story. Does he have a different last name from his father because he's also adopted, or was his name just changed to Jeon Nokdu to protect him? I'm looking forward to getting confirmation.

This show has really become my happy place, and I look forward to watching it every week ❤️❤️❤️

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The role in which she shines the most is probably page turner. That was hands down the most brilliant short drama I've ever seen. Her character in nokdu and lets fight ghost come a close second but Go Eun Byul is the absolute queen when it comes to sass.

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Oh snaaaap Yoon Yoo Seul's the best!! The emotions and acting of the three of them there are golden.

And yes, we can all agree that Go Eun Byul is the queen!

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KSH has many great roles it's hard to pin point just one. She was also great in Pure Love and the drama special We All Cry Differently. Different roles attract different types of people which is why she has a diverse range of fans and a very large fandom.

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She's so versatile and talented! ❤️❤️❤️

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Kim So Hyun is proving yet again why she is known as chameleon actress. Not only has she managed to create near perfect chemistry with Jang Dong Yoon but she makes Dong Joo a much more complex character than she is perhaps written to be. She excels in every role but this particular role will be one of the highlights of her career.

Jang Dong Yoon has come a long way as an actor since Solomon's Perjury but what really makes this role work is the level of comfort he shares with people on set. You can always trust Kim So Hyun to have chemistry but he matches her perfectly each step of the way. They both bring out the most in each other and keep the drama sparkling.

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She's the best at chemistry and together they make this drama amazing.

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ugh I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS RECAP FOREVERRR

oh my god i cannot contain my excitement for this drama

i adored the first 30 mins of this episode, and the last 30 mins just blew me out of my chair

- the scene where nokdu was tripping all over his clothes in the woods and screaming and trying to hide from the females and then dongjoo saying she'll help him if he calls her noonim and him falling to his knees with his hands in a prayer saying noonim noonim noonim HAD ME FLOORED LOL

- such a funny scene followed by such a beautiful heart racing scene with him dancing and then teaching her the dance and then all the feels that you get when our OTP is in close contact

- and damn i thought i knew this drama moved fast (after dongjoo found out his true identity after like episode 4) but like DAMN DOES THIS DRAMA MOVE FAST??? i was not expecting the assassin to overhear them talking in his room, for nokdu to get caught while the assassins were meeting, to dong joo basically leaving the courtesan house and now them going to live together (as seen from the previews)

- this drama has surprised me in so many ways, in so many great ways, with the reverse tropes, expected tropes (welp i guess he is the legitimate heir) to the fast pacing and undeniable strong foundational relationship between our OTP 👌👌👌

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@chousaurus your post made me realize that one of the things I really like about the Nokdu character is that he has a genuine fear of and respect for women. He doesn't look down on them even though at some points he seems to belittle himself as a woman, but I think that might just be the "newness" of the role of being a woman for Nokdu and that eventually he would be a strong and enviable woman should he need to continue in the role for any length of time. But the fact that he has mostly men in the family and that the mother figure has died, and didn't seem to be very affectionate to him, at least there on her death bed, I am curious as to where Nokdu learned his respect for women.

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Right? In a period full of prejudice against women, it's so refreshing to see Nokdu, a character who respects women, never takes advantage of them, and acknowledges their skills. I daresay he acknowledges them as equals, even.

Maybe he learned it from the other women in the islands/villages they've been in as a family? Also, from Aeng Du haha even though she's still a kid.

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I believe Aeng Du is an exception from the other women in the island!

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Remember, she is strong enough leave a red welt on ND’s wrist where she grabbed it. She’s really strong. It will be really interesting to see how she plays into ND’s arc.

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One of the best aspects of this show is that it doesn't make the whole distinction between treating men and women differently. The original idea in this world seems to be that gender doesn't define capability and so I don't think Nokdu learnt how to respect women but rather its not an issue in this dramaverse. I see it as the modern values the drama has subtly incorporated and it made the dramaverse of Nokdu more interesting. This whole community of female assassins and widows is very exciting and normalized in a great way.

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He doesn't have fear for women more like he fears for his identity being found out but the way he treats all women is commendable. In fact I love the way how the drama treats all women as capable and independent.

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The dance scene was just lovely. One of their best, so far.

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I can’t get over Nokdu’s expression when he looked at Dongjoo. If I were her, I don’t think I’d be breathing!

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Did you see the BTS video? Jang dong-yun is standing in front of Kim so-hyun bare chested and looking gorgeous but she basically falls over laughing. I can't with these two. Just so cute.

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That scene gave me heart eyes!! HAHA!!

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The dance scene from this episode and the swing scene in episode 4 were brilliant scenes. Personally I loved the swing scene more. It was done very well.

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Yet again another beautiful episode filled to jaw dropping acting from jang dong

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Me neither!

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I keep trying to figure out why Nokdu uses his dude voice indoors. Aren't those walls really really thin??

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They are literally paper thin. Although the paper is special paper, it’s still paper.

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Exactly! I kept thinking 'Sir/Ma'am, you ARE trying to avoid being discovered right? No? Ok then'.

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Kdrama logic lol, maybe just to show how Nokdu reverts to his normal self when indoors/with Dongjoo. But I must agree with you that it still unsettles me, I even sometimes expect the Muweoldan to suddenly barge in whenever he talks in his normal voice hahahaa

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Add that to the list of "Kdrama logic" I'd have to live with. Right next to "characters never wearing the same thing twice".

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Except Nokdu whose being wearing that pink hanbok for 4 episodes straight.

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And keeping it pretty pristine! Wasn't there supposed to be a burn mark on the hanbok?

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Magic repair detergent to the rescue.

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I actually put it down to suspension of disbelief. As long as the rest of the drama flows well I'm willing to ignore it. I'm sure its only meant to be discovered when convenient for plot device.

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I wanna have a go at pervy aristocrat's head. Anyone got an axe?

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He's such a slimeball

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Hope he gets his bit of justice before the end!

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Before that, can we have Dong Joo fake fall and hit his ***** with her dagger just like how she found out Nokdu actual gender 😏 Let him live a little after that and see how he behave after!

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Let's just just shoot him with dongju's arrows!!

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I feel like breathing sigh of relief since from these comments it seems it's the consensus that Jang Dong-Yoon is acting in top form. Whew!
And also, yay! I am still hoarding these episodes so I can enjoy in one (or a couple bites).

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Thank you @teriyaki for these recaps. I am just scanning them right now because I don't want to be TOO spoiled. Just from a brief scan, however, I know I am going to enjoy reading your recaps in full.

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I enjoyed Nokdu and Dong Joo chemistry onscreen and Dong Yoon and So Hyun bickerings offscreen, enjoy it so much to the point that although there are still 12 eps left, I already don’t want to let them go. Hope Nokdu will be a good one until the end!

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As you can see on my fan wall I've already started to ship them in real. Whether its Nokdu and Dongju or Kim so-hyun and Jang dong-yun I can watch them bicker all day. The chemistry is fantastic.

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Another great episode and thankfully they didn't drag out the reveal. This week was even better than the great premier week they gave us last week. KSH has gone all in with her role and it's impressive to see JDY able to keep up with her most of the times. They have explosive chemistry together and the palace politics is getting more interesting. The growing attraction between DJ and ND will be tested next week as more characters join in on the fun.

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This drama is laugh out loud funny yet cute and I'm invested in all the characters. The whole setting is so unique and novel with great acting that keeps me engaged at all times. This week I noticed I loved the way this drama is directed and how the shots transition between scenes and hover over key moments just a few seconds longer. The chemistry between the leads is the most crucial part which alleviates it from other dramas and makes me enjoy everything about the leads.

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That ending scene- it would have been trope-ish to have him "buy" her, i.e. "I am your master now...", but we got I am your mother! Was not expecting that!

Nokdu doing that fan dance, while dressed in pink, is one of the most butterflies-in-my-stomach things I've ever seen. His gracefulness makes him look really manly. But he also looks really feminine, especially next to Yul-moo. According to the internet, the actors are the same height. I wonder if there will be a running joke of Yul-moo always finding Nokdu...I mean Nok-soon- butting in.

I love how even though sometimes it feels like Dong Joo ties that rebel/ troublemaker line (like you would expect a sometimes crossdressing heroine with a fierce glint in her eyes to be), she is really a very kind, helpful, and industrious young woman.

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She's the coolest female lead!! The way she saved him by jumping into the river and then that exasperated look!! So funny!

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He's super manly and feminine all at once! Such a duality this boy! All the women in this drama are awesome but our DJ is extra awesome!

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I think this drama will solidify the male drama footing in the industry.. Great work

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Ah how cute is this drama every episode!! ❤️❤️

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Finally found a worthwhile drama to watch this season!! Can't stop laughing its so funny and not OTT thankfully!! Just the best drama on air right now!!

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Aaaah! I'm obsessed with this drama!

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I can completely empathize. My fan wall is proof.

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I find Kim So Hyun to be compelling in every drama but in this one she has surpassed herself even though the plot focuses more on the male character. She added layers to Dong Dong Ju even when her backstory wasn't revealed. She balances the funny and serious tones of her character perfectly and it amazes me how accomplishes this despite being so young. Her chemistry with Jang Dong Yoon has been phenomenal till now and they never miss a beat. Without her this drama wouldn't be half as fun or compelling.

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For me week two was even better than the wonderful premier week we had. As much as I wanted mistaken identity hijinks to continue I'm loving the new dynamics between them. There wasn't much cohabitation hijinks this week but the thought of them living together in that tiny room makes me giddy with happiness. I'm really enjoying the large number of female characters that exist in this drama because it changes the dynamics of how characters generally interact in sageuk. I'm very taken by this village of widows and I wonder else mischief and misunderstandings will Nokdu get himself into.

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Then I guess we only get one episode this week. That sucks.

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Still hoping for the recaps of this show to continue! Thanks @teriyaki!

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Did they stop recapping this? What happened?

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Are we not getting any more recaps of this show?

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