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101

My Country: The New Age: Episode 12

We’ve finally caught up to that terrible, bloody night where we first met our players. Death, revenge, love, and even redemption are all tangled up in the events of one night, as endings are found for some, and beginnings are created for others. The true test will be what they do after the dust settles, and the lives they choose to lead now that they’ve gotten what they wanted.

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

Bang-won gives his father one last chance, but King Taejo continues to refuse responsibility for Bang-won’s actions that benefited him, and says that he only sees Bang-won as one son of many. Bang-won respectfully deep-bows, then tells his father that everything that happens next is his fault.

He leaves the temple where King Taejo is hiding out, and Hwi says the words he’ll never hear from King Taejo: “You did well.” Bang-won barks an empty laugh then orders the bridge destroyed, symbolically cutting ties with his father forever.

Addressing his men, Bang-won says that they are all connected by the fact of having been abandoned. He gives an official order for them to survive, and Hwi asks Bang-won to survive, as well. Bang-won leads the march to the citadel at Sunhwabang, with Hwi right by his side.

King Taejo learns that Bang-won destroyed the bridge and left with hundreds of soldiers, and he realizes that Lord Nam isn’t Bang-won’s only target. He casts off his plan to let Bang-won and Lord Nam fight out their disagreement and decides to head back to the palace. He can hear spies whistling his progress to each other and orders his men to get him to the palace before dawn.

When Sun-ho arrives at the temple to see the king, the broken bridge alerts him that Bang-won isn’t just going after his father… he’s staging a revolt. He tells Sung-rok that unless Lord Nam and Bang-won kill each other, the winner will be too strong for the king to handle.

Lord Nam learns what’s happening, and his first thought is Hwi’s warning that he would soon crush him. His lackey offers to warn Sambong, but Lord Nam bellows that he’ll handle this himself. He tells his lackey to issue a royal order for the princes to come to the palace, feeling justified as the crown prince’s guardian while he’s acting as regent.

After receiving the summons, Bang-gan meets up with Bang-won, who tells him that tonight, he will kill Sambong and Lord Nam. Bang-gan asks jovially if the crown prince will also die, but Bang-won is in no mood and warns Bang-gan to be careful not to betray him or he might kill him. Bang-gan says seriously that he trusts, Bang-won, so Bang-won can trust him.

Hwi tells the impatient Bang-gan that they’re waiting for Lord Nam to make the first move and give them a reason to act. Bang-gan complains that Bang-won always wants justification instead of attacking first. Hwi tells Bang-won that he’ll guard the castle gate and meet Bang-won later at Sunhwabang, and Bang-won gives him a flag to prove that Hwi is working with him.

When Sun-ho hears that his father issued an unlawful royal summons to the princes, he confronts Lord Nam for giving Bang-won a reason to revolt. Lord Nam snaps that Sun-ho has already lost for having such a weak mind, and orders him to fight: “Go and fight my enemies, then slay me as well.”

Sun-ho points the tip of his sword at Lord Nam’s throat and tells him to do nothing, because he’s giving the orders from now on. After Sun-ho leaves, Lord Nam tells his lackey to have half of the palace guards escort Sambong to Chwiwoldang, and the other half assemble in front of the palace gate.

The princes arrive at the palace and immediately notice that there are no guards. Bang-won tells Bang-gan to go in first as the eldest, but Bang-gan retorts that the strongest should go first regardless of age, HA. He relents and enters the gates, where he’s met by a few guards who ask him to disarm. Bang-gan refuses, and proceeds to kill all four guards in seconds without ever dropping his Cheshire-cat grin.

The commotion attracts Sun-ho with his elite guards, and Bang-gan scurries away, breezing right past Bang-won and calling out cheerfully that he’ll see him in Sunhwabang (ok, that was hilarious). Sun-ho invites Bang-won into the palace, but Bang-won refuses. He asks Chi-do to confirm that some of Sun-ho’s men belong to the Black Snake Unit, and sure enough, he’s had two men planted in the elite guard.

On Chi-do’s order, they turn on Sun-ho’s guards. Sun-ho goes straight for Bang-won, who successfully fends him off with one hand literally held behind his back. Sun-ho growls that he shouldn’t be allowed to ascend the throne, but Bang-won just says that the people will suffer under a weak king.

His guards all dead, Sun-ho retreats with Sung-rok back through the palace gates. As the gates close, Bang-won calls out a message for him to relay: “Nam Jeon, Sambong, and the meritorious subjects issued a fake royal order and summoned the princes to the palace to assassinate them. I, Prince Jeongan, will kill all you wicked traitors to punish you for what you did!”

Sun-ho tells Sung-rok that since Bang-won obeyed the so-called royal order, he did his duty as a loyal subject, and because he went to see King Taejo despite the risk of assassination, he also did his filial duty. The result is that their side has been made into traitors, and they’ve handed Bang-won the justification he needs to seize the throne.

Meanwhile, Hee-jae’s spy informs her that the king is returning to the palace. She heads to the marketplace outside Sajeong Gate to alert Hwi herself, advising him to finish his part of the plan before the king arrives. Hwi asks her not to deliver dangerous letters anymore, and he promises that he’ll return to her.

Moon-bok also fusses at Hwa-wol for coming to such a dangerous place, and immediately feels bad when she looks hurt. He gives her a key to his safe in case he doesn’t return, saying that he left her a note inside, but Hwa-wol refuses to accept the idea that he might die. Instead, she returns his key and says that she’ll make him breakfast in the morning.

The night drags on, but Lord Nam still hasn’t shown up with his guards. Hwi tries to send Chi-do, Jae Beom, and Moon-bok ahead to Sunhwabang, but they protest that they’re here because of him, not Bang-won.

Cheonga grows impatient and says they should all leave for Sunhwabang instead of sitting around, waiting to be executed as traitors. He gets angry when nobody follows his order to leave, and behind him, Hwi roars, “My order is the prince’s order. If you disobey me, I will kill you first.”

Suddenly the palace gate opens, and Hwi sends his men back to their ambush positions. The guards file out of the palace, and Hwi confronts them alone. He signals his men by raising Bang-won’s banner into the air, and the guards find themselves completely surrounded.

Lord Nam watches, incredulous, as his guards are slaughtered, so he orders their archers brought in. Hwi works his way closer to the gate, and at one point Cheonga takes the opportunity to attack him, saying that he’s only been working for Bang-won to get the chance to kill Hwi.

Their personal conflict breaks up when Lord Nam’s archers begin raining arrows down on the fighters. Jae Beom is shot in the arm, and while he’s distracted, Moon-bok spots another archer taking aim. He throws himself into the path of the arrow, and he’s struck right in the chest. NOOO, not Moon-bok!

Hwi orders Jae Beom to take Moon-bok ahead to Sunhwabang. He fires at Lord Nam and misses him by inches, and by the time he readies a second arrow, Lord Nam has disappeared, having given up on the palace guards and decided to go to his villa at Chwiwoldang.

Jae Beom gets Moon-bok onto a horse and gallops to Sunhwabang, but on the way, Moon-bok slumps and nearly falls. Jae Beom props him up against a tree and begs him to hang in there until they can get him to a doctor. Moon-bok collapses, and Jae Beom screams at him not to die… then he realizes that Moon-bok is wearing thick leather armor under his clothes and just had the wind knocked out of him. Awww, Jae Beom is so happy that he bear-hugs Moon-bok and the tree.

Hee-jae receives an update that the king took a shortcut, and is almost back in the capital. He’s ordered the Consolidated Army Command to assemble all their troops and capture Bang-won, and Hee-jae determines that they have to stop it somehow.

When the king’s procession arrives at the entrance to the capital, it’s suspiciously deserted. Suddenly, flaming arrows (sent by Gyeol) strike the wooden gate and it goes up in flames. King Taejo decides that it’s faster to wait for the fire to burn itself out than take a detour, and he orders his men to find out who started the fire that probably just saved Bang-won’s life.

Sun-ho and Sung-rok find the marketplace outside the palace after it’s all over — Hwi and his men are already riding full-tilt for Sunhwabang. Sun-ho takes the few remaining guards and archers to guard Lord Nam and Sambong at Chwiwoldang, and he tells them that they only have to survive a few more hours until the king returns.

We’ve already seen what happens next… Bang-won waits with his soldiers at Sunhwabang, and Tae-ryong asks if he wants to go to the palace first, or Chwiwoldang. Bang-won refuses to go anywhere until Hwi rejoins them, and when Bang-gan warns Bang-won that they’re running out of time, but Bang-won insists that they can’t win without Hwi.

Finally Hwi arrives, and Bang-won gives him the order to attack Chwiwoldang, letting him know that Lord Nam is there. Bang-won leads his own soldiers to the capital and takes control of the Consolidated Army Command by force, then sends Tae-ryong to the Ministry of Rites to summon the country’s officials to him.

Hwi and his soldiers break into Chwiwoldang, quickly taking out the archers positioned on the rooftops. Inside, Lord Nam and Sambong sit listening to the sounds of the fighting, and Lord Nam calmly offers Sambong one last drink.

Sun-ho and his twenty soldiers are terrifically outnumbered, but they face Hwi and his men bravely. Sun-ho tells Hwi that this is the end of his path, but Hwi draws his sword and threatens to go through Sun-ho if he has to. Sun-ho says that his father mustn’t die by Hwi’s sword, as a loyal servant who was sacrificed in a revolt, “He must die while being resented and cursed upon.”

But Hwi says that his curse is enough, and that he intends to kill Lord Nam then end his own life. Sun-ho looks down at Yeon’s embroidery on his scabbard and asks why Hwi is so cruel as to ask him to spill his blood, on top of all his other sins. Hwi says that they’re finished, and signals the attack.

He and Sun-ho fight their way through the crowd, and they only pause a moment before rushing at each other. They’re still perfectly matched, and for a moment they almost seem to be enjoying the chance to spar again. They grow serious, and they slash at each other at the same time, drawing blood.

Elsewhere on the battlefield, Sung-rok and Chi-do square off, recognizing each other from years ago at Liaodong. Chi-do quickly gets the upper hand and leaves Sung-rok writhing in the dirt.

Hwi and Sun-ho continue to fight, and eventually Hwi deals Sun-ho a debilitating wound to the stomach. Sun-ho gasps, “Your sword still feels affectionate…” before collapsing. Seeing Sun-ho lying there, Hwi’s expression changes, and he starts to go to his friend.

But he sees Lord Nam standing nearby, having decided to meet death on his own terms. Lord Nam looks at his son, then says to Hwi, “Fine, I admit it. My world? You crushed it.” He picks up Sun-ho’s sword and continues, “But I am the beginning and the end of my world. So finish me. It won’t end until you do.”

Hwi says that he never expected an apology, but he’s surprised that Lord Nam is so proud of his actions. Lord Nam retorts that all he did was dream of a nation ruled by its subjects. Hwi lunges at him, and in just a few moves he has Lord Nam on his knees and his sword at his throat.

Bang-won arrives just then, but Hwi never takes his eyes from Lord Nam, who throws down his sword in resignation. Lord Nam taunts Hwi for hesitating, then tells him to get it over with. Hwi raises his sword… and Bang-won steps between them, striking Lord Nam down with one swing.

Bang-won tells Hwi that it’s better not to suffer the terrible guilt of having killed a friend’s father, like he suffered after killing Po-eun. He goes inside to finish off Sambong, leaving Hwi to watch Lord Nam reaching out to Sun-ho. Lord Nam says weakly, “You did well. You did more than enough,” and he finally dies.

Hwi drops his sword and helps Sun-ho sit up, but Sun-ho pushes his hand away. They stare at each other for a long time, no words needed between them, until Chi-do arrives with Jae Beom and Moon-bok.

Bang-won comes back outside after finishing his gruesome task, and he orders Hwi’s friends to stay with him while he and his men continue on to the palace. Moon-bok assures Hwi that Sun-ho won’t die of his wounds, and Hwi goes with them reluctantly, turning back one more time to look at Sun-ho sitting alone in the middle of so much death.

At the palace, crown prince Bang-seok learns that King Taejo has returned and has almost reached the palace gates. Relieved, he decides to go meet his father, sure that nobody would dare attack with the king so near. But as soon as the prince steps outside the gate, the two guards he thought were loyal draw their swords and slaughter him, leaving his body where he falls.

When the king arrives, there are corpses everywhere, but the only one he cares about is the body of his youngest son. He begs Bang-seok to wake up, not seeming to understand why he’s so still and cold. Pulling Bang-seok into his lap, King Taejo sobs over him until Bang-won approaches.

He asks if Bang-won did this, but Bang-won replies, “You killed him, not me. Because of your greed, because you tried to hard to protect your throne, you made your children fight each other and you enjoyed watching it. This is the result. You killed Bang-seok.” King Taejo calls Bang-won inhuman for killing his own brother, and he curses Bang-won to die a lonely death, hated by everyone.

Hwi and his friends arrive to see the king sobbing over the body of his youngest son, and Bang-won standing over them. Bang-won’s revolt has been successful, but at a terrible cost, and Hwi can see it in his eyes.

 
COMMENTS

Well, I was right after all about Sun-ho’s reason for trying to stop Hwi from killing his father — not because he was trying to save Lord Nam’s life, but because he felt Lord Nam hadn’t been sufficiently humiliated yet. The way it all played out was still tragic, with Hwi being forced to severely injure Sun-ho to keep him from stopping his revenge, only to have Bang-won do the deed for him at the last second. I’m torn between regret on Hwi’s behalf that he wasn’t allowed to deal Lord Nam the final blow, satisfaction that at least he made Lord Nam suffer by seeing his world destroyed, and happiness that Hwi didn’t lose his last grip on humanity by killing Lord Nam himself.

And just when I thought I couldn’t hate Lord Nam any more than I already do, he had to go and tell Sun-ho that he was enough, just as he was dying. I’m sorry, but that fixes nothing, and in fact was the one thing he could have said to leave Sun-ho tortured for the rest of his life. Lord Nam purposely let Sun-ho think he was a disappointment for his entire life, forcing him to nurture hate and vengeance when there might not have been any need. He intentionally ruined Sun-ho’s relationships with the only two people who ever mattered to him, so that now he literally has nothing to live for — not revenge, and no friends like Hwi has to keep him grounded and from going off the deep end. It was particularly hard to watch Hwi walk away from Sun-ho, surrounded by his friends, while Sun-ho was left with nothing and nobody.

The hardest part about watching this drama, for me, is seeing how all of this killing and betrayal and being betrayed is affecting everyone involved. When this all started, everyone, especially Hwi, Sun-ho, and Bang-won, had fire in their eyes and so much willpower and strength, determined to get their revenge, right the wrongs perpetrated against the ones they loved, and make the world a better place. Now they’re finally realizing their goals, but it’s slowly killing them… all three of them looked sick throughout that terrible night. It’s fascinating that you can see in their eyes how broken they are, but in different ways — Bang-won is already changed by what he’s had to do but determined to see this through, Hwi is heartsick and weary after the losses of Sun-ho and Yeon, and Sun-ho is just consumed by anger and completely adrift. I commend the actors for such naked portrayal of the real fallout of war and how it marks its victims’ souls forever, but damn, it hurts to watch.

I’m very curious to see what happens next, now that everyone has gotten what they believed they wanted. I’m particularly interested in what Sun-ho will do next… I have a feeling that he’ll turn his anger and desire for revenge on Bang-won, for killing his father and making him a martyr when he wanted him to die a traitor. Sun-ho at least understood why Hwi wanted Lord Nam dead, but Bang-won just killed him without emotion or thought like any other political opponent, which I think Sun-ho will see as unforgivable. As for Hwi, since he didn’t immediately end his own life like he planned, my hope is that Bang-won really did save his life by killing Lord Nam and not letting him live with the guilt of killing his friend’s father. We already know that Bang-won will get what he wanted, but I think that it’s too much to hope for a happy ending for both Hwi and Sun-ho. Hwi at least has a chance with Hee-jae if he can put aside his past, but I’ve long since resigned myself that Sun-ho probably won’t live much longer. He’s too damaged to stop his self-destructive path until he gets himself killed… my best hope for Sun-ho is that he doesn’t make Hwi do it.

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And this is the episode when I lost all hope for Hee Jae. Farewell.

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@msrabbit,
Is that because Hee-jae is traipsing around in the midst of a rebellion like a mooncalf to see Hwi, or because blocking Taejo's route into the capital breached Ihwaru's neutrality? Or something else?

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@pakalanapikake I never much care for her romance with Hwi, although I think this drama is better without. But her trying to separate herself from Ihwaru only after she had used all the intelligence and resources to help Hwi is utter nonsense.

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@msrabbit, @kelly-k,
Hee-jae landed on my bad side as soon as she got Hwi and Sun-ho in deadly trouble with the authorities for falsely implicating them in her stupidly childish propaganda campaign. It did serious damage to Sun-ho's reputation after it became known in the wake of the gwageo bribery fiasco, and left him even more beholden to his father's reputation and long service to Taejo. I've never forgiven her for that.

I've also never understood why Hee-jae never told Hwi and Yeon that their father had saved her when she was a child. (She didn't want Hwi to think she liked him for what Dad did? Sheesh.)

Despite show's attempts to repeatedly tell us that Hee-jae actually has functioning brain cells, her saying that she's now acting on her own personal business (saving Hwi and his boss Bang-won) rather than Ihwaru's best interests does not magically make it so. It is disingenuous and insulting to everyone who hears it, including the audience. She's splitting hairs and endangering the whole operation. It doesn't help that Hee-jae seems to be in a dopey adolescent romance drama while everyone else is in a high-stakes political thriller.

(Perhaps Gyeol should have shot an arrow with a note on it into a nearby tree to inform Taejo that the flaming roadblock is merely a Personal Matter, and has nothing whatsoever to with the rebellion currently in progress. Hrmph!)

Feisty pre-final-illness Madame Seo would be angry as a hornet if she got even an inkling that Hee-jae would pull such a stunt. So much for her designated successor's being the only one qualified to take over. If that is truly the case, then Ihwaru doesn't deserve to stay in business, no matter how juicy their stash of incriminating secrets.

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A competent Hee-jae, helping Hwi while maintaining the apparent neutrality of Ihwaru and honoring Madame Seo’s request would have been a much more interesting story. Ihwaru exists to deal in intelligence, not physical action - the King should have been delayed by proper intelligence work, not a flaming barrier.

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I could overlook what she did in episode 1 because, well, it's only episode 1, it's a plot device to get them to meet, she's a rough diamond that need polishing to shine, she can't be good from the start for character development sake, etc etc etc etc

Romance... oh well... move on...

But this business with Ihwaru is really dumb. When she told Gyeol that she'll go herself because now it's personal business, I just rolled my eyes and honestly, it ruined the episode for me. The whole point of her character is her connection to Ihwaru. Would anyone believe her when she used the personal business excuse? Would the King? I am not smart and am not trained and well verse in this spy business, but even I know that! Come on!

Sorry for ranting at you @pakalanapikake. I love you analysis, as always. Now I am going to sit at that corner with @kiara. 😉

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@msrabbit

Lol yes join me at the time out corner.

We are going to be nice and only say positive things....if we can help it.

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@kiara Hmm... positive things....
I love it when Hee Jae put her hair up and her blue hanbok is really pretty (I have a thing for baby blue).

...

I think we have to sit in silence from now on.

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@msrabbit
Yes Hee-jae's hair is beautiful.
This the best acting from Seolhyun. It's too bad her character is......

I kind of like the actor who is playing the sly Bang-gan. He makes the best out of his small role and very short screen time.

He is smart and patient. He knows his opponent well and the need for a life insurance in case he fail.

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@msrabbit,
The episode 1 meet cute wasn't cute, that's what miffed me so much. The way it came back to bite Sun-ho made me hopping mad. -- Oops. Am I ranting? I thought I was just being my usual opinionated self. ;-)

I didn't see your "rant" as directed at me, so please come back. You, too, @kiara. Unless you need to chill out to spare your blood pressure or something. Self-care takes priority. In which case we maybe shouldn't be watching Kdramas in the first place. ;-)

@hebang,
I'm glad I'm not the only one dismayed by the change of philosophical direction at Ihwaru.

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@kiara,
I didn't even recognize Lee Hyun-kyun (Bang-gan), who played Ham Gil-sun, one of the prison guards in DOCTOR PRISONER. Maybe I was too mesmerized by the running battle between Namgoong Min and Kim Byung-chul. You're right -- he's making the most of the role, and doing it with memorable flair. Another character actor to keep an eye on. Interestingly, he just turned 36. I thought he was older.

Aside to @msrabbit in the time-out corner: I've been meaning to ask about the breed of your avatar. Is it a Netherlands Dwarf or Polish? (I raised Dutch when I was in 4-H.)

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@pakalanapikake I just grab the first image of a cute rabbit I could find, so I did not pay attention to the breed. But your question sent me to an interesting read here: http://wabbitwiki.com/wiki/Breeds_FAQ

And based on that, my avatar is the the Netherland Dwarf. :)

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@pakalanapikake Re: the not-meet-cute encounter in episode 1. I don't think I can blame HJ on that, since she didn't know them and could not possibly know Sun Ho came from such complicated background. And even if she did, she would probably do the same to get out of a sticky situation. Can't fault the girl for self-presevation/survival.

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@pakalanapikake

It's the writing that I was ranting yet. Some of the reasoning is eye-rolling or doesn't make much sense so it's frustrating.
Sometimes I have to fill the gaps with the actual history to make some sense out of it.

This whole waiting for their father's acknowledgement is a roadblock for their progression. It can drag on for forever and when it finally happened if ever, doesn't change much at all.
Bang-won will still wreck havoc and same goes to Sun-ho so what's the effing point?

*goes back on time out*

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@kiara Now that you put it this way, what is the effing points of adding all these fictional characters and their stories? They add nothing. Might as well just go with the historical figures.

[go back to silent mode at timeout corner]

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I spent the last two episodes trying to remember when Ihwaru/hee-jae went from Switzerland to "I will explicitly only help a guy i loath because am in love with a boy because his father saved me"...

she turned the agency in to a love hotline ... hwi this hwi that ...

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She landed in parachute..... oh wait. Wrong drama. 🤭

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One of the things about playing in the game of kingship is that once you start playing, there is no way to get out of the game.

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Cue up "Hotel California." ;-)

And now we come full-circle to the scene in which Bang-won tells Hwi to dig two graves, and Hwi replies to him to do likewise.

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Hotel California - exactly!

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OT
I had to look it up even though I heard the song before 😳.
Now I want to have guitar lessons just to play the last part over and over.

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This was the lyric I had in mind:
"You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave!"

While

"They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast"

reminds me of the bloodthirst for power exhibited by the major contenders for the throne. Bang-seok was not one of them.

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Thank you for explaining it :).

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Sun-ho's stated motivations for defending his father and fighting Hwi don't make sense to me. Drama for the sake of drama? In a drama?
I'm shocked, shocked :)

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I don't get why he would even want revenge for the father that he hated. He should be relieved that he is gone with all the constant emotional abuse etc that he inflicted on him.
The fact that he didn't get his father's blood on his hands should set him free to maybe do something good with his life for his sake and for his mother's memory and even Yeon.

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Exactly. This is where SH’s character goes off the rails for me. His actions after Lord Nam’s death just make no sense, emotionally or intellectually...for me, anyway.

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He isn't angry at them or wants revenge because they killed his father. He hated his father and wanted to kill him for years. He stopped Hwi because he wanted his father to die as a traitor by his own son's hands. Moreover they destroyed his chance to stay in a powerful position so he is going to be mocked again for his birth. He hates Bang Won because he is a threat to people like him since they would be discriminated against in his country and he wants to protect the current kings position who doesn't care about your social class or birth status. That's it. I also think he wanted to use his position to influence politics in their favor, but I'm not 100% sure about that.

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thank you , i still don't understand why every one is on team bang-won , as a person who lives in a country with a president who is 38 years in power and a so called democracy every time bang-won opens his mouth to proclaim , his rights and how the things he does is necessary evil , or how poor him , his father gave the throne to a "half blood" , i laugh in oppression .... Nonsense

sun ho doesn't need revenge , the man has stated in many words what he thinks of sun ho's kind and to me sun ho is still fighting the same fight ,the right to be equal to other human beings and bang-won has made it clear as king there will be no such thing ...

i really want to understand without history ( we know bang-won will win) would we still be in this man's boat with his policies and his claims ...

I mean even lord Nam knew the country belongs to the people not the king ...

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@kelly-k

Having a country ruled by ministers (subjects) with the king as a puppet is what Lord Nam wants.
He wants power for himself, he could careless about the people.

Bang-won wants the king to rule with absolute power.

Both could work if the people's needs is a priority.

Sun-ho's dream is admirable but was doom from the beginning because Joseon was a Confucian country. Even the king couldn't change that.

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Agree with bluebubbles's opinion, it's not so much revenge for killing Hell Daddy (it's complicated, he's so damaged, a it looks like he's got Oedipus complex, he wants to kill Dad but keeps on making up excuses to stay by his side), and more loathing Bangwon's intentions about keeping up the social statusquo when he gets to power, and the fact that he has already chosen his side and that he doesn't have a chance to get power if Bangwon wins... Sun ho's actions are not totally logical because he is already too damaged, he's been despising himself and his own actions for too long

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I don't get why people keep misunderstanding Sunhos agency or actions. I think they make a lot of sense (maybe that's just me?). I think Sunho is such a confusing character because he keeps his card close to his chest, lies a lot to deceive others (his father mostly) and keeps pushing people away because he thinks he doesn't deserve them or to keep them save (Hwi, Yeon). He is just someone who is willing to make a sacrifice for the greater good, but he can't really commit to it 100% because he still cares about Hwi and Yeon. I see him as a wannabe villain with a noble goal who is too softhearted to really pull it off.
@Fly Colours: That's an interesting point of view. He definitely wanted his father approval. I always perceived him working with his father as a neccesary evil for his plan, but he threatened him too many times without doing anything. So I'm really glad Bang Won killed him in the end.

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I don't think people are misunderstanding Sun-ho but rather confused with the added tragedy to an already doomed from the beginning character.

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@kiara,
Maybe it's actually revenge for Sun-ho's loss of opportunity to kill his own father.

Sun-ho's only motivation to keep going for year after painful year has been the prospect of wreaking vengeance on his father by destroying everything that Lord Nam had worked for in front of his eyes as he dies. Sun-ho's killing him as an outraged son for committing treason was supposed to shame Dad more than his being officially executed as a garden-variety traitor. Even that was taken away from Sun-ho by Bang-won -- who was explicitly and compassionately saving Hwi from shedding his friend's father's blood.

I agree with you about how it could have been liberating for Sun-ho to finally be free of the father who has made his life a living hell. (But rather than the absence of his horrid father, what Sun-ho needs even more is the active presence of someone like Seo Geom in his life, such as Chi-do, who has been channeling Dad's wisdom and ethics to Hwi and his friends, as well as his swordsmanship.) Maybe it just goes to show how thoroughly Lord Nam destroyed his son's life and psyche that Sun-ho has nothing else to live for. His only slim chance to live on his own merits as a half-yangban has been in the service of Yi Seong-gye, and once Taejo steps down, there goes that. Sun-ho has been behind the eight ball so long that I doubt he could ever live happily. He's been doomed from the start, he knows it, and he doesn't know any other way to be.

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I'm 100% with you on his need to have someone like Chi Do's guidance. SunHo is a train wreck. His moral compass has been askew, no thanks to Lord Nam teaching him the meaning of power and trampling on people who look down on him. Though I think the decision to walk on the right path is his choice to make. Just as others who were in a similar situation as he is have done. Jeong Beom for example was a slave who killed his master. They overcame self-pity and self-loathing and managed to turn a new leaf.

It's still unclear to me what motivates SunHo's odd behavior now that his father is gone. While I have suspicions on NamJeon's manipulative mind, I think SunHo is smarter than to be petty. I do not think he is out to avenge NamJeon's death.

As for him being deprived the satisfaction of killing his own father, I thought Bangwon actually saved and protected both Hwi and SunHo, not only from the mental anguish but also upholding Confucian ideals on filial piety.

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“ As for him being deprived the satisfaction of killing his own father, I thought Bangwon actually saved and protected both Hwi and SunHo, not only from the mental anguish but also upholding Confucian ideals on filial piety.”

Agree whole heartedly. BW is being played as a stickler for the rules, and he did what he could for Hwi, and even Sunho. It’s amazing how Bang-won’s face shows the price he is paying for the killing of his family and friends - especially his eyes.

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It's one thing to hate your dad and imagine killing him a million times in your mind, but seeing him being chopped down right in front of your eyes still hurt. I think Sun Ho to some extent loved his father as much as he hated him. That's the thing with Sun Ho. He talked like the baddie, but deep down he is just... not. Like all his I-will-kill-you-when-I-see-you and I-no-longer-care-for-you chants he keeps repeating with Hwi. And I don't think Sun Ho wants revenge for his father. What he did after is more of a fight against Bang Won.

I too, wish Sun Ho could move on, forget all about his past and start a new happier life without all the baggages. But alas, that is not what the show intended for him.

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Oops. I thought episode 12 was the final.

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It would have been better especially for our young leads. Nam Jeon is gone. Bang-seok is gone and the king is barely hanging on to his throne.

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Felt like kinda Anti-climactic, isn't it?

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This was not a joke. I really thought it was over. So I didn't watch episodes 13 and 14 (not going to tell any spoilers) until today, Friday. The good news is, I don't have to wait long for episodes 15 and 16. The bad news is. . .what the heck just happened in 15 and 16????????

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I'm not asking for anyone to post spoilers. It was a rhetorical question.

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I haven't seen 15 or 16 yet. Don't know when Netflix is going to release them.

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Netflix is supposed to release them in the US in Sat-Sun. Last week was delayed for some maddeningly inexplicable reason.

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Thank you <3.

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I just checked my Netflix and it's scheduled to be released on Tues 11/26 and Wed 11/27.

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Dang, I just logged in and found out that Netflix has delayed the final two episodes until the 26th and 27th, as @kiara reported. WTFBBQ! A pox upon them! I'll be watching it raw while my imagination runs away with me.

*sits in time-out corner, twitching*

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Are they relesead 2 episodes at once???the muggle is asking because i follow the korean schedule aka watching it as soon as it air on JTBC(thank u oh mighy torrent) and actually believed Netflix does the same as till 13 the ripped subs were out on the same day(Friday/Suturday)

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I watch the raw eps as soon as they are posted elsewhere, and then pop over to Netflix, which releases them on separate days. I think.

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My error. I meant What the heck happened in 13 and 14.

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Thank you for your recap and insightful comments @lollypip. You have said more eloquently most of what I wanted to say.

"Now they’re finally realizing their goals, but it’s slowly killing them… all three of them looked sick throughout that terrible night. It’s fascinating that you can see in their eyes how broken they are..."

I completely agree.
I'm inclined to think that the show intends to convey the deep-seated impact of a bloody carnage and ramifications of revenge on one's soul more than its intent to portray a detailed historical storytelling. That is my main takeaway from this drama.

I'm very impressed with Ahn Nae Sang's portrayal of an atrocious character who is manipulative to his last breath. For a second, I had actually believed a father's dying words for his son was finally telling him what he wanted to hear. But on second thought, I'm more suspicious of his intention to incite anger and revenge from SunHo on his behalf. Both Bangwon and SunHo have the same void and longing left by their fathers. Unfortunately Lord Nam may have left a deeper scar on SunHo that takes on a negative turn instead of a positive one. I think SunHo just needs to realize that he is more valuable than what his father and society has ingrained into his conscience. As a person of low birth and an illegitimate son during that period, he may not have the authority to wield the command other yangbans are entitled to. But I hope he realizes that he still has other intangible assets, including his bond with Hwi, that is within his reach if he only allows himself to accept it.

I've become too invested in both SunHo and Hwi's brotherly bond going into the final leg of the drama. And I may be in the minority, but I'm still holding on to a reconciliation for them. I would not like to see either one of them getting killed by their own doing, not even for honorable reasons, because I think that would have a worse effect for them than what they are going through now.

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Excellent observations.

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This and more. I couldn’t help but draw the parallel between the father-son relationships of Sun-Ho/Nam-Jeon and Bang-won/King Taejo and how Nam-Jeon told his son what Bang-won wanted desperately to hear from his father but never did. I do think Nam Jeon was secretly proud of his son and we never get to see his vision for the country. In this whole show, everyone has certain beliefs and no one does anything just because they are inherently evil. Unfortunately, the end is not likely to justify the means to get there when it comes to sacrificing loved ones.

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You are awesome! Love your take.

I've been the negative Nancy since the last episode.
I'm going to sit in the corner and have a time out.

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I also saw Lord Nam's last words as his last manipulation of Sun Ho.

The brotherly bond is my favorite part of this drama. I'd love to see them reconcile but I think we're expecting too much.

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I cringed on the occasions Yeon and Hee-jae saw him fighting because we get to see him with their eyes. How scary it must be to see a loved one acting like a killing machine

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SunHo and Hwi should grab each other by the back of the neck, and ride off into the sunset - to any place other than Joseon. They would both be a lot better off, and a lot happier.

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They've both proven that they can adapt and prosper. The merry men would probably enjoy that adventure too.

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Yeah, no, I think they are done.

The moving away Hwi's hand was pretty telling for me, it is the point of no return again for them.

When Hwi was surprised by that, I straight up said, 'Dude, are you really shocked. You burned you boy too many times and he is past the point of trusting you let alone being friends again.'

Hwi picked his side and this is the consequence.

And also, are we gonna discuss how he has manage to survive destroying his body to control the poison in it for six long years and it still functioning.

If Hwi finishes this series alive, I might throw something at my screen because he should not.

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Other than Bang-won, who will then be left alive at the end of this drama?

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My previous answer had spoiler, so had to delete.
Hwa Wool

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When you live... and die for love. 😭😭😭

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As always, thank you for the recap, @lollypip <3

Sigh.... No words.

Sun Ho might as well hit his head on a wall-- HARD-- and end it now T...............................................................................................................T
I don't think I can bear to watch him completely self-destruct

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How is Sun-ho not dead after being impaled by Hwi's sword when this was the way Yeon died? I'm firmly on "regret on Hwi's behalf that he wasn't allowed to deal Lord Nam the final blow." I hate that Bang-won took away Hwi's satisfaction of killing Nam Jeon because now Hwi never got his revenge. Crown Prince Bang-seok's death was anticlimactic as he was basically a sitting duck.

Bang-gan scurries away, breezing right past Bang-won and calling out cheerfully that he'll see him in Sunhwabang (ok, that was hilarious).

Bang-gan is hilarious, and I was impressed with his sword fighting skills. Was Seo Geom, Hwi's father, Bang-gan's teacher too? Episode 12 was the climax of this drama. Many thanks for the recap, @LollyPip!

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Bang Gan did say that Hwi's fighting style was familiar so that is possible.

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I have a suspicion Hwata (from FAITH) also time travelled to this era to patch up Hwi, Sun-Ho and the Immortal Jurchen. There’s no way they can survive being impaled again and again.

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@wishfultoki, @panshel,
LOL at a Hwata cameo. I personally think that Hwi, Sun-ho, and Hwang Sung-rok the Immortal Jurchen(TM) have been doing too many impersonations of shish kebab.

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@panshel,
I especially liked how Bang-gan did that mischievous little leapfrog hop over the corpse as he scampered out the palace gate. He practically kicked up his heels. It was oddly childlike. As he sprints off, it's as if he's telling Bang-won, "Tag, you're it."

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The actor playing Bang-gan is really making an impression on viewers with very limited screen time. Whenever I see this, I wonder how much is the writer vs director vs actor. Anyway, kudos for the actor!

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Agree, I didn't read your comment until after I made mine.

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Yes, they were both taught by Seo Geom... Bang-gan bragged in a previous episode that he had more teaching sessions with Seo Geom than Bang-won did.

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Right I can't believe that I missed that even though I shouldn't be surprised cause I do tend to miss things sometimes, heh

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Yes, Bang-gan had 10 bouts with Seo Geom to Bang-won's "barely 8." But I couldn't recall which episode it was in and didn't want to spoil.

It was in the scene in which Bang-won caught his brother sneaking around in his study and fought him to a standstill with his Fan Of Doom. After that, Bang-gan purposely accosted Hwi in the street to test his hypothesis. Seeing Seo Hwi's name on the land grant from Lord Nam as he rifled through Bang-won's cabinets must have made Bang-gan suspect a family connection after getting a taste of Seo's style while tussling with Bang-won.

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It makes sense that Bang-gan would be the more experienced fighter.

Bang-won was shipped off to the capital to study.
As a hunting lover, his best weapon would be the bow.

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I actually think it's for the best that Bang Won stepped in and killed Lord Nam(and actually kept his promise to him to be the one to kill him someday,the irony and ultimate revenge to this),i think knowing Hwi he would be feeling guilty towards Sun Ho all his life and would have it hard to meet him,no matter what it was his father...Also,having seen Nam Jeon's face when Bang WOn stricked him is priceless,the one he despised the most killing him...I think Hwi was after his anger subsided glad to see crush Nam Jeon's world and to his knees,if he truly wanted to kill him so badly he wouldn't have delayed so much looking at Sun Ho...

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I thought Moon Bok was dying too and though that I was afraid of that and then it turned out he was okay, and I was like I can't believe they made us think that. And this time it was Moon Bok's turn to say to Hwi that he was there for him and that he cares about him.

Bang Gan is funny as always. Ah the hopes I had for Hae Jee. I'm actually glad that Bang Won killed Lord Nam and not Hwi so as to make sure Hwi didn't feel any guilt.

I don't want either Hwi or Sun Ho to die but I am afraid that one of them might. I cried when Hwi just left Sun Ho there.

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Me too 😭, it's a pitiful sight

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I’m sorry Taejo, but if you were really in a hurry you could get off your litter and walk around the fire.

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@wishfultoki,
I was tearing my hair out that His Majesty seems to be so busy enjoying his kingly prerogatives (a 20-flunky gama of state with terrible off-road capabilities and high flammability) that it never occurs to him to holler "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" so he could speed back to the palace and crush the rebellion. Is it because he's old and sick, or is really losing his mojo? They could have gotten him back to town faster if they'd taken turns piggybacking him. Sheesh.

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@pakalanapikake Agreed, he could have asked for a horse! As a former general, whom we’ve seen is also a fine rider, that should have been easy. I think the writers are trying to portray a Taejo who would rather sit (literally) on his kingly prerogatives for as long as he can rather than deal directly with potential threats. That’s making him become sluggard and blind, “losing his mojo” as you say. The contrast between the proud general and shrinking king is palpable.

I haven’t watched episodes 13-14 yet so am curious to see what Taejo will do now that his Crown Prince is dead. I know how the history goes but it’s interesting to see the fictional take on what might have made him make his decisions.

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I thought earlier there was a discussion of Taejo being in poor health? May be a justification for not having him ride...

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He was sick and visibly during one of his court session where he almost passed out on the throne.

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True that... I forgot he’s been unwell. But I still think he could have walked or been piggybacked around that fire. There didn’t seem to be a fence or wall or anything.

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Historically Taejo was in poor health after the queen died and he spent most of his time praying at the temple.
A devout Buddhist in a new Confucian establishment.

@pakalanapikake
Can you imagine what Sambong would say if he was still alive?

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@kiara, @hebang, @wishfultoki,

I recalled that Taejo was sick at times, but it wasn't clear to me that his general health had weakened that much. Thanks for the historical background.

Still, desperate times call for desperate measures. I could have imagined Taejo's trusted eunuch riding with him the way Jung Beom rode off with Moon-bok -- unless he were in truly weak condition. Taejo has been putting on a good act -- especially during the meeting with Bang-won at the temple.

It is ironic that Taejo, founder of the new Neo-Confucian nation, was himself devoutly Buddhist. It makes me wonder why he just let Sambong have free rein as architect of the new dynasty, and did not stand up for his own personal beliefs. You cannot legislate matters of conscience, although it has often been attempted in many times and places.

All I can guess is that Buddhism provided Taejo with something that Neo-Confucianism did not. For all we know, he could have been praying for the innumerable souls of those he killed in his long career as a soldier as his own end drew nigh. Shades of King Muryeong of Baekje in THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SOO BAEK HYANG, another general who prayed for the dead even when he was much younger than Taejo. I am also reminded of Yeonsangun in REBEL: THIEF WHO STOLE THE PEOPLE. Jang Nok-soo got her foot in the door by performing a Buddhist dance for the repose of his grandmother's soul, IIRC -- which had been greatly opposed by the subjects of that future reign.

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@pakalanapikake, @hebang, @wishfultoki

There is quite a few things (maybe a lot) that is not being explained to a point where we totally get it in the drama. We just have to assume so some a left unclear.

They do take a lot from the actual history so it's kind of difficult to take the story as fiction like they would probably want the viewers to.

Paka, do you remember the opening scene for CRUEL PALACE and King Injo? It was almost a crime for the king to walk but he was made to in order to humiliate him. Maybe it's a cultural thing that we are missing?

Taejo takes credit for founding Joseon as the king but many people made it possible so the court were mostly made up of Confucian scholars. It was Sambong's brain that started it in the first place.
While Taejo was mighty and undefeated on the battlefield, Sambong's skills was unmatched in politics and as a strategist.
Since he died early we never saw the full effect of the kind of government he was going for.

It seems like Taejo was a puppet on the throne but he did have a say in important things like moving the capital to Hanyang. Sambong and the ministers were against it but he stood his ground so Sambong had to design his new palace and figure out how to fund it in a short time.
Taejo had Buddhists monks visit him at the palace at his request.
They may have hated Buddhism but they couldn't stop the king from worshiping Buddha.
I can almost hear those pesky ministers in the background saying ...Jeonha but you can't do this and that lol.

Changing the law would be a different kind of challenge. He was old and weary from years fighting on the battlefield. He was almost 60 when he ascended the throne. Bang-won died at age 55.

I'd conclude that Joseon's foundation was built on Confucian ideals. Only a revolution or a foreign take-over would dismantle it.
It lasted for so long because it was run by Confucian kings and ministers. That's why Sun-ho's dream was impossible from the very beginning.

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Yay, sassy Bangan! Those sword skills, that grin, got to appreciate him as a good future antagonist!

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He is probably a good swordsman, himself, having survived (according to him) 10 sessions with Seo Geom, Hwi's father, as his teacher.

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Come to think of it. It took Bang Won a long time to ascend to the throne despite his father's and his enemies' accusations of being power-hungry. He might have too much blood on his hands but he was a good king after all.

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@lookie

I think being power hungry is not a bad thing. It's what they do with that power that counts.

All of the characters desire power for their own personal gain or goal whether it's short term or long term.

"A dream without bloodshed is fantasy" in this era. It applies to all of them, Sun-ho,Hwi, Bang-won, Taejo, Lord Nam, Sambong etc ended up shedding blood to accomplish their goal.

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In that era, is it even possible for a prince in the line of potential succession to NOT play at the game of kingship?

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Yes, King Taejo's oldest son #1 Bang U, #4 Bang-gan and #5 Bang-won's brother. He didn't want anything to do with the throne so he left his family and lived alone at Bogae mountain until he died.

There is not much written about #3 Bang Ui so maybe he didn't give a crap either.

Bang-won's two oldest sons didn't want to play the kingship game so they opted out and let their younger brother Sejong become the king.
(long story with the oldest son but that's for another drama)

Sejong the Great became the best and most beloved king Korean ever had.
I don't think he played the kingship game either.

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It looks like Bang-gan is a player (so far) in this drama?

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@hebang

Yes it's base on the "2nd strife of the princes." It was led by Bang-gan against Bang-won.
It was a street fight in the middle of the capital.

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The power hungry Bang-won became a good king and paved the way for his son Sejong to become an even better king.

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Taejo throwing The Queen's last words back at Bang won is peak cluelessness and lack of awareness.

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“Your sword still feels affectionate.” Man alive, what a line.

Abandonment is finally unveiled as the engine driving this show. Hwi leaving Seon-ho behind bothered me exceedingly, but Seon-ho, I believe, needed the realization he is in an 80/20 relationship so he can focus.

One of the surprises of ‘My Country’ is the animus between Bang-won and Seon-ho. It is increasingly clear they represent two opposing viewpoints that are wrong, depending on the historical perspective from which they are viewed. For the Joseon era, Seon-ho is clearly delusional. In a time of kingdoms, there is nothing more important than the legitimacy to rule. The dispersal of power weakens the center, and the center of a kingdom is the king. Presently, we would be inclined to agree with Seon-ho and be appalled by Bang-won’s extreme elitism and method to concentrate Our places in history affect how we view these men, and it takes a really deft hand to make sure we inhabit the historic viewpoint of an era without falling into historical fantasy. Kudos to the writer and PD for not straying too far into anachronistic statecraft.

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*to concentrate power.

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