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My Country: The New Age: Episode 7

Until now, the former friends have worked in a sort of uneasy truce, intent on achieving the same goal. But when one of them sees the chance for personal gain, he takes it, possibly breaking their alliance for good. At this point, it seems unlikely that these two will ever settle their differences.

 
EPISODE 7 RECAP

Just as Bang-won is about to kill Hwi, Sun-ho shows up. Bang-won is curious enough to let Sun-ho talk to Hwi, and Sun-ho asks Hwi who ordered him to kill Grand General Jung. He promises to save Hwi’s life if he points to the person right now, but Hwi just gives a tiny shake of his head.

Sun-ho holds his sword to Hwi’s neck and whispers that this is the only way he can save him. But Hwi grabs the blade with his bare hand and growls, “Who are you to talk of killing me or keeping me safe?” He stands and declares that he’ll save his own life.

With a sarcastic slow-clap, Bang-won asks Sun-ho if he can handle the consequences of this. Sun-ho fires back that Bang-won will be the one facing consequences, then he leaves. Hwi sits down hard and tells Bang-won to kill him, or if he’s going to keep him alive, to get him some water. HA, this guy’s cheek.

Fortunately, this was Sun-ho’s plan — if Hwi has pointed out Bang-won, he’d have been killed on the spot. Sung-rok is angry that Sun-ho took such a risk, and he accuses Sun-ho of letting his personal feelings get involved. Sun-ho ignores that and tells Sung-rok to stick to the plan.

Hwi gets his water, though Bang-won is still suspicious that he’s not as innocent as he seems, so he tells Tae-ryong to round up whoever Hwi is working with. He says to Hwi that the majority of his men are vicious, but that he needs someone who can devise plans and read others’ moves.

He asks why Hwi approached him, so Hwi says that he wanted to change his life, and he thought Bang-won could lead him to a better one. He tells Bang-won that all the weapons in his arsenal are broken, and asks what Bang-won thinks will happen if the Office of the Inspector General (where Sun-ho works) seizes them.

Tae-ryong thinks it’s a trap, but Bang-won decides to take a look, and brings Hwi along. They get there just as Sun-ho and his men arrive at the arsenal, and Sun-ho informs Bang-won that owning a private arsenal is treason, with punishment being immediate execution.

Sun-ho goes to open the doors himself, and Bang-won stops the impending battle with a flick of his fan (I love that fan!) when the arsenal turns out to be a completely empty room. The only weapon is a lone sword stuck point-down into a table, and from the look on Sun-ho’s face, this was not part of the plan.

Stepping up beside Sun-ho, Bang-won gives him credit for his bravery, but he says that there will be consequences for this. Sun-ho turns to glare angrily at Hwi before leaving. Bang-won takes the one sword and slams it into a wooden post, and the tip breaks off, proving that the suddenly very cocky Hwi was telling the truth.

Jang Beom and Moon-bok have relocated the weapons to the Office of the Inspector General, claiming that Bang-won voluntarily surrendered them to prove his loyalty to King Taejo. Hwi tells Bang-won that they were useless anyway, and Bang-won figures out that by dumping the useless weapons, Hwi helped Bang-won regain the king’s trust and made Sun-ho appear guilty of making false accusations.

Hwi nods proudly, and Bang-won wonders out loud what to do with him. They head to Ihwaru, where Hee-jae makes it clear to Bang-won that Hwi is unwelcome after he killed Grand General Jung there, but Bang-won assures her that they’re only there to relax.

Hwi takes advantage of the good food and drink, and Bang-won asks what makes him so tough. Hwi just says that nobody ever died from eating too much, and he jokes that maybe they’ll become friends after Bang-won beat him up.

As a hunter, Bang-won asks how Hwi would catch a tiger. Hwi says you have to corner it, distract it with dogs, immobilize it with an arrow then pierce its throat with a spear. Bang-won says he’ll use that same method, and Hwi gets a bad feeling.

He follows Bang-won to the courtyard where Chi-do, Jang Beom, and Moon-bok are sitting surrounded by Bang-won’s men, and he loses his confident veneer. He begs Bang-won to let his friends go, but he ends up thrown down with them.

Bang-won announces that he’s in charge now, and that lying will cost their lives. He asks who sent them, but instead of talking, Hwi and his friends all jump up as one and fight until they’ve each gotten hold of a weapon.

With a bow aimed at Bang-won, Hwi says that they were with the advance troop at Liaodong. He tells Bang-won that the blood they shed for their country is now used against them, and that he wanted to see the country they dreamed of at Bang-won’s side.

Bang-won walks closer until Hwi’s arrow is almost touching his chest, and he whispers that Hwi’s words just saved his life. Both sides lower their weapons and Bang-won tells Hwi to come to his home for his answer. Hwi turns to look at Hee-jae once Bang-won is gone, then passes out cold.

Tae-ryong asks why Bang-won spared Hwi and his friends, so he explains that they devised a plan, overcame his men, and even took down an inspector. He watches as Hwi is carried to a room, and he orders Tae-ryong to learn the story behind all this.

Hee-jae tearfully nurses Hwi’s wounds as he writhes in pain. Nearby, Jang Beom and Chi-do chide Moon-bok for taking too many of those numbing pills after seeing Bang-won, ha. He’s recovering, but he pretends to still be paralyzed when Hwa-wol comes in.

He tries to talk her into getting the antidote out of his clothes, only to get a bowl of water to the face. LOL, busted. But Hwa-wol does admit that the medicine her gave her helped her wound, making Moon-bok happy again.

When Hwi eventually regains consciousness, he finds Hee-jae asleep beside him. He resists the urge to touch her, and she opens her eyes. She tells him not to disappear because she doesn’t want to lose him again: “There are so many things I never got to do with you.”

Hwi says that he remembers everything about the days they spent together, even the rain when he left. He admits that he played those memories over and over in his head, but he couldn’t stop missing her. He leans over to kiss Hee-jae’s forehead, but she’s already asleep.

He tries to leave and runs into Lady Seo, who asks if he’s rekindling his association with Hee-jae. He says it’s already started, and she tells him that she can’t cut the ties between them, but that she won’t forgive him if Hee-jae gets hurt because of him.

Hee-jae wakes up alone later, and Lady Seo tells her firmly to keep her distance from Hwi. Hee-jae argues that she’ll keep trying to get close to Hwi, as well as find the information from her mother that Hwi’s father protected. Lady Seo tells her that the information went to someone who needs it more than she does, because they’re trying to save a life, while Hee-jae is trying to get revenge.

Hwi goes to Sun-ho to explain that he’s only following Sun-ho’s orders to earn Bang-won’s trust. Sun-ho says that he’ll lose his rank and maybe his life because Hwi deviated from their plan, but Hwi says that Sun-ho’s survival is up to him, like his was in Liaodong.

Sun-ho hits him and says that if Liaodong was hell for Hwi, every day of his life has been hell with the mockery and contempt he’s had to endure to get where he is. He warns Hwi that if he gets in the way, he’ll kill him without mercy, because it’s him.

As he leaves, Sun-ho murmurs, “I regret that I tried to save you. I truly mean that.” Hwi whispers where Sun-ho can’t hear, “Survive. I truly meant that.”

King Taejo is inundated with petitions to interrogate and execute Sun-ho, as well as having Lord Nam removed from his position for using his son to persecute royal family members. Instead, he only demotes Sun-ho and orders the Ministry of Law Enforcement to investigate the matter. The ministers loudly object, but King Taejo shuts them down.

In private, King Taejo tells Lord Nam that he didn’t strip him of his title because he needs him to fight against Bang-won. He tells Lord Nam to disband all private armies before Bang-won makes himself crown prince. Lord Nam runs smack into Bang-won on his way out of the throne room, and Bang-won insults him for letting Sun-ho take the fall for his mistakes.

He reminds Lord Nam that he once said this is his father’s country now, and his. Lord Nam growls that it’s not a king’s country, it’s the subjects’ country. He tells Bang-won that he’ll never be king, but Bang-won smirks that Lord Nam can watch him become king from his grave.

Sun-ho sends someone to tell Yeon that he won’t be home and to have her pack some clothes for him. He’s arrested and brutally tortured for the names of any co-conspirators, but he insists that there were none.

Hwi watches Sun-ho’s home for a glimpse of Yeon, and when he sees her, awww, she’s finally grown into the shoes he bought her years ago. She wants to take clothes to Sun-ho herself, but Lord Nam scares her by growling that Sun-ho isn’t even her brother and that she’s the reason he can’t come home.

He forbids Yeon to do anything but breathe from now on, then orders her locked up in a shed. She struggles, falling and hitting her head, reminding Hwi of the night he was taken away and Yeon suffered the injury that cost her memory.

As Lord Nam is being carried through town, Hwi stands in the road, blocking his way. Lord Nam blames Hwi for what’s happened to Sun-ho, but Hwi says it was the only way to get close to Bang-won. Lord Nam tells Hwi that Bang-won must be killed by one of his own men to keep suspicion off himself, so he warns Hwi not to move until he receives a command.

Hwi asks Lord Nam about his promise to take care of Yeon like his own child. Lord Nam asks if Hwi is keeping his promise to obey his every order, and they both know full well that the answer to both questions is “no.” That night, Hwi receives another note on the special paper.

Lady Seo and Hee-jae visit Queen Sindeok, offering her information they’ve gathered at Ihwaru in exchange for confirmation regarding border trade plans. Queen Sindeok asks why she would need rumors repeated by drunks, so Lady Seo proves her knowledge by listing medical information that only the royal physician would know.

When Lady Seo says that she knows what the queen really wants, Queen Sindeok dismisses Hee-jae. Lady Seo gives her a note and tells her to use the information when she most needs it. Queen Sindeok tells Lady Seo that this could get her killed, but Lady Seo replies that it will save Hee-jae.

As they leave, Lady Seo asks Hee-jae what she learned tonight. Hee-jae says that you should know your opponent’s weakness but not corner them, and let them think they’ve won. Hee-jae formally requests a team of private investigators, and Lady Seo grants it.

After Lady Seo leaves in her palanquin, Hee-jae is joined by Gyeol and a group of men. She tells them to dig up whatever they can without tipping off Hwi, or their investigation will end.

Bang-won receives confirmation that Hwi and his friends were indeed in the advance party at Liaodong. The next day, the four turn up at Bang-won’s house as instructed, and Hwi grins when he sees Cheonga up and about. Cheonga says that he has to live so he can rip Hwi apart one day. Hwi taunts that he’s no match for someone who can’t see an arrow coming straight at them (ha!), and Cheonga grabs Tae-ryong’s sword and tries to kill Hwi right there, but Tae-ryong stops him.

Bang-won asks Hwi to be his weapon, but first to dig two graves — one for himself, and one for Bang-won. He says that Hwi’s life must be on the line in order to change the world, but Hwi says he already died in Liaodong. Bang-won mentions the facts that Chi-do once lead a subjugation, Moon-bok is a mortician pretending to be a doctor, and Jang Beom is a former slave who killed his master, letting them know that he knows all their secrets.

He has Hwi follow him alone and shows him the bridge where he killed Po-eun (aka Jung Mong-ju) who served the last Goryeo king and refused to switch loyalties. He says that nobody wanted to go down in history as the evil that killed a loyal servant, but that Po-eun had to die in order to establish the new country.

He kneels at the spot where Po-eun died and says that this is where his family was saved and the nation began, but where he was abandoned. He tells Hwi that with this blood so fresh on his hands, he can’t afford more that will paint him as pure evil.

He says that Hwi reports only to him from now on. Hwi says that the king has to die for Bang-won to take the throne, and if that scares him, he may as well beg Bang-seok for mercy or pretend to be insane. Bang-won just tells Hwi that if any of that blood splatters in his direction, he’ll kill Hwi and his friends. Hwi says he wouldn’t be here if that scared him.

Later in his hideout, Hwi makes several of the red-shafted arrows that Bang-won is known for. He finds a spot overlooking the castle grounds, where King Taejo and Bang-won are practicing archery and arguing over Po-eun’s death, and he shoots an arrow into the king’s target.

Curious, King Taejo shoots another arrow, and the one that joins it in the target this time has a note attached. The note simply lists a date — November 23, 1380. King Taejo orders Lord Nam brought to him, and reminds him that the date on the note is the date that several assassins who planned to kill him were discovered and executed by Lord Nam.

Lord Nam had told King Taejo that they were the only ones who knew of it, but King Taejo snaps that that’s apparently untrue. Bang-won says that King Taejo is the only archer skilled enough to hit a target at that distance, but Lord Nam perks up, aware of one more who could make the shot. Bang-won adds that someone is trying to frame him, and says that King Taejo must kill whoever is responsible.

Lord Nam goes to free Sun-ho, saying that someone is trying to get him killed. He says that they’ll destroy the whole family, and their only chance is to fight them together. Unlocking Sun-ho’s cell, he continues that if it’s Bang-won, they have to kill him.

All Sun-ho can think about is his mother, whom he’d begged to run away with him when he first went to live as Lord Nam’s son. Instead, she had urged him to work hard and become a man of power, and create a country that allows a decent life even for lowly slaves.

Meanwhile, Yeon has escaped from the shed and run away, leaving one shoe behind. She’s turned away at the Office of the Inspector General, after being told the truth of what happened to Sun-ho. She somehow makes her way to her and Hwi’s old house, and when she sees the corner of the table where she hit her head, still stained with her blood, some of her memories come flooding back.

Hwi is at Lord Nam’s home, posting a notice on the front door, when he finds Yeon’s discarded shoe. He frantically searches for her, and he finds her crying and clutching her head at their old home. Terrified and confused, Yeon warns him to stay away, and Hwi yells at her never to tell anyone she came here, especially Lord Nam.

She nods and runs off without her shoe, so Hwi follows her. Yeon runs into Sun-ho, who takes in her torn hands and disheveled appearance and asks if his father did this to her. Hwi sees them together and keeps his distance.

They arrive home at the same time as Lord Nam, who is stunned by the notice Hwi put on his door. It states that Yi Seong-gye, now King Taejo, rebelled against the then-current regime and conspired an uprising. Its writers had vowed to eliminate Yi Seong-gye as a traitor to Goryeo.

It’s copied directly from an old correspondence between Lord Nam and the three men he executed for attempting to assassinate King Taejo, signed on November 23, 1380. Lord Nam had killed the others and taken the letters from their bodies, but one of them hadn’t had his letter on his person. The man had groaned that Lord Nam would die for this betrayal before Lord Nam finished him off.

Sun-ho sees the notice and asks if it’s true that his father made a pact to kill Yi Seong-gye. Lord Nam turns to him and gasps, “He’s involved.”

 
COMMENTS

Oooo, things are getting really interesting. Apparently Lord Nam conspired to kill Yi Seong-gye twelve years ago, but something changed, and instead he killed his co-conspirators and spun it that he discovered a plot and saved Yi Seong-gye’s life. I just love how this show weaves historical facts around these characters and brings life to the events of the past, which is saying a lot because history has never been a passion of mine. But in this case (and it happened with Haechi as well), I’m enjoying how the drama is inspiring me to learn more about how Korea was founded.

So far I’ve been able to follow the details of the plot in My Country pretty easily, which is something I generally struggle with when recapping sageuks. The arsenal scheme has managed to confuse me, though — mostly the part where Bang-won’s weapons were so shoddily made. I understand why Hwi “stole” them and turned them in to make Bang-won appear loyal to the king, because at this point it benefits Bang-won to continue his ruse of loyalty. By making the move ahead of time, Hwi proved that he’s both smart enough to predict Bang-won’s actions, and able to act in his best interests, in an attempt to gain a trusted position with Bang-won. But I still don’t see why the weapons were badly made in the first place.

The only character who really confuses me is Hee-jae — I have no earthly clue what that girl is up to. So, her mother died to deliver some information which is somehow still relevant. Hee-jae wants it in order to get revenge on whoever ordered her mother killed, and she’s been gathering intel for Lady Seo for years to “buy” the information from her. She’s long since earned it (four years ago, she was only nine pieces of information away from earning it), and is only now asking for it for some reason, but Lady Seo gave it to someone else, and at that point, I’m lost. As for this border trade deal and whatever Hee-jae is investigating that she doesn’t want Hwi to know about… it’s a complete mystery to me. I’ve just given up on understanding what Hee-jae is doing for now, because it’s the only part of the plot that makes no sense at all to me.

At least now we know why Sun-ho is so determined to become someone with respect and influence, to the exclusion of all else — his mother. She’s the one who told him to grow up and change things if he wanted them changed, and although he couldn’t improve her life, he desperately wants to grant the only request she ever made of him. I wish we’d known this sooner, because I think I would have cut Sun-ho a lot of slack for it. I couldn’t understand why he would want to impress a father he hates and who openly hates him, but I can sympathize with a young boy who just wants to make a better life for people like his beloved mother.

I’m not surprised that Hwi and Sun-ho have finally reached the point where their former friendship is well and truly broken. It’s been ruined for a long time, but they were still working together for a common goal, and that required at least a minimum level of trust. I was surprised that it was Hwi who went off-script and betrayed Sun-ho first, but when I think it about it, it makes sense. Sun-ho is trying to build himself a life of respectability and status, but Hwi is literally trying to survive, and he’s the one taking the true risks out there. He could be killed at any moment, and while Sun-ho is also playing a dangerous game, he’s not putting himself in the line of fire repeatedly. I don’t blame Hwi for doing what he needs to do to gain himself the strongest ally possible, and if that ally just happens to be the man he was supposed to kill… well, it’s better than dying. A friendship that dissolved long ago is the least of his concerns.

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Omg, it’s finally up! Thank you! I couldn’t stop gushing about this show and today, got one of my patients who loves historical dramas to promise to watch it! Every episode is jam packed with plot movement. I guess it has to be when you’re covering decades of a ruling kingdom.

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I like that it’s fast paced. I think we’re getting jam packed plot because the episodes were reduced from 20 to 16. I wish they had kept it at 20.

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They reduced it? I didn't know that.

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I didn’t know about it either. I found out from other comments. And checked Wikipedia which still list 20 episodes.

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Ah okay. I can't decide if a reduced number is good thing or a bad thing here.

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DATGUMIT & TARNATION! I would've been fine with 16 episodes if they originally planned for 16. Once they start fiddling with adding or subtracting episodes, the story always suffers.

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@mei123db Mei Geu-Rae, @amy1009,
I recall seeing that the episode count had been reduced from 20 to 16 in the AsianWiki listing, I think before it even premiered. It really surprised me. It makes me wonder what was going on behind the scenes.

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@kiara and I have been wondering about the episode count for a while. Netflix has always said 16 while the Asianwiki page has always said 20. It’s a Netflix “original” so maybe Netflix only wanted to pay for 16 episodes. But then there’s Camillia that’s airing on NF too and it went from 16 to 20, right? I don’t get it. I’ve always thought this show was moving at a breakneck speed. If it’s only 16 eps, then now I know why.

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AsianWiki now says 16, as of 11/8/2019

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@pakalanapikake and @ally-le

I'm ok with 16 episodes but this is a rather heavy sageuk and it's exhausting.
Maybe it would have been better if they'd concentrate on the collapse of Goryeo instead of trying to cover so much of the history in 16 episodes.
I would have loved to see more of the characters' relationships before they kill each other.
Don't get me wrong. I still love the show and I think they've done a wonderful job with reinterpreting the historical figures so I'll leave it at that.

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Thanks for recap, @lollypip. Hope you feel better. This show is so good and I look forward to the episodes each week. I am with you on Hee Jae. And about Hwi, he is also desperate to get his sister out of Nam Jeon's hellhole. And hey, I would not trust a friend who sold me to the wolves once too.

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Shoddy weapons - My take was yet another betrayal by someone. BW wanted a private arsenal for the inevitable revolt. Someone smiled, took his money, sold the info, took someone else’s money, and provided weapons that looked good but would be useless when it came to a fight. Multiple layers of betrayal everywhere you look in this drama.

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To me it doesn't make much sense for eagle-eyed Bang Won to be fooled like that. I thought he had stored the shoddy weapons there on purpose, just in case they were confiscated, and he had the good ones hid somewhere else.

I recall seeing something similar before... Maybe that's what happened in SIX FLYING DRAGONS and I'm getting mixed up?

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In this drama, getting caught with the weapons results in immediate execution, not confiscation.

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That's what I thought too but I'm still not sure if breaking that sword in front of Hwi was an act or he really didn't know.
If he didn't know then maybe Hwi will put his blacksmith skills to good use by making the weapons for Bang-won's private army.

In history, the weapons were hidden by Lady Min, Bang-won's wife.

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Oh yes! I wish we'd see Lady Min in this drama but it doesn't seem likely. I think she's a cool character.

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I'm still lost about the weapons too and wonder if something was cut that made the answer clear.

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@Toki, I believe Cheonga was supposed to be in charged of the arsenal. Maybe Bang-won trusted him more than he should.
I find him unlikable and kind of shady for some reason. I won't be surprised if he end up betraying Bang-won.

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I think it’s pretty clear that someone BW trusted took the money and put garbage weapons in the armory.

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Interesting. This theory is plausible. The guy with the bad hair was in charge of the arsenal and the thugs so he's #1 suspect.
Also, he hates Hwi and doesn't get along Bang Won's right hand guy (whom he called "a palace guard") so he's liable to start a fight with them at some point. Currently he doesn't seem to have the brains to plot behind Bang Won's back, but we don't know what he's hiding under his wig...

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@kiara, @wishfultoki, @hebang,
Cheonga is leader of Group C, the mercenaries in charge of intelligence and the arsenal. I think that's why they were involved in the gambling den where Hwi & Co. captured Grand General Jung: it was the down-scale illicit version of Ihwaru. I expect that Gang-gae and Cheonga run a lucrative protection racket on the side.

I get the impression that Cheonga might be another Jurchen like Sun-ho's henchman Hwang Sung-rok.

I had initially thought that Bang-won was storing the shoddy arms in a known location while stashing the good ones in a secret armory. (I have a feeling I've seen such a scenario in another sageuk.) But if possession of even junk weapons were a capital offense, that doesn't make any sense at all. Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. Bang-won had argued for private armies to defend against Japanese pirate incursions -- but they would need to be properly equipped.

For someone who saw through Hwi's strategy, I cannot imagine the wily Bang-won's being hoodwinked with inferior weaponry. Was he perhaps giving a crooked vendor enough rope to hang himself? Maybe he'll be cleaning up the corrupt remnants of the Goryeo military-industrial complex.

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@pakalanapikake
Cheonga was kind of shady right from the beginning.
I thought he was an ex- pirate lol. He is just wild, rude,greedy etc.

Maybe Bang-won was suspicious of Cheonga before and discovering the fake weapons confirms his suspicion.

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This and the next episode is when I went from liking to loving this show. I feel more and more bad for Sun Ho. But I feel the most bad for Hwi. The friendship is indeed truly broken. Scenes Hwi and Yeon and Sun Ho and Yeon are the saddest. I love that Sun Ho cares for her so much. I feel like crying so much while watching this show and even though I haven't yet seen episode 9 and 10, I know what will happen and I am actually dreading those episodes. It's going to make me cry even more isn't it?
How I wish I had a fan like Bang Won's. My sister has a plastic folding fan and I'll even settle for that but she won't give it to me, sigh.
Ahem anyway, I kept on wondering throughout the episode if Hwi even had a good plan that is I was worried that it will cause problems especially for Yeon. I am not surprised though that Hwi would go against Sun Ho and Lord Nam like that, I expected him to cause it makes so much sense. Lord Nam kept on threatening Hwi using Yeon and I can't wait for him to just die, ugh I hate him for everything. Sun Ho somehow (sigh) still confuses me.

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Sun Ho: “Be the change you want to see”
Hwi: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”
Hee Jae: 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️❓❓❓❓❓❓❓❓

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Hee Jae: I will protect Hwi. Nobody but Hwi.

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I guess I told you the same thing you just wrote here! Lol.

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So...what I'm getting is that the writing of the female lead has failed yet again? The writers have devoted so much time and care into perfecting the male leads and the world, and yet the female lead is doing things that no one understands. Even in this spectacularly amazing drama.

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I'm not sure I'd say it's failed, per se. It does feel somewhat inconsistent, since she starts out the first couple eps being a regular badass. Though as the years go by and she "matures" (I guess), her badassery has become more covert and less sword-fight-in-the-market-like. It could be a choice by the writers, and maybe her real plans are just not ready to be made clear yet.

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I don’t remember who wrote that Hee-jae is actually written as a very believable female character for the the period. We can’t forget how paternalistic this era (and the one prior, heck, all eras in Korea) was. To live in a geisha house affords her more independence that most women, but she still would not be in any way respected by any man nor could she just gallivant around the capital on her own, probably. She’s still under Madame Seo of Ihrawu and would be punished for stepping out of line there as well. Madame Seo gives her a bunch of latitude for yet to be seen reasons already. I’m always fine with how women are written in kdramas for the most part, because they are never respected and they have to change their lot in the story to be respected. And sometimes, that isn’t even enough. It’s the society that makes it so. This is off topic, but Gong Yoo’s new movie is totally about this. I don’t think it’s writers failing to write strong women characters, it’s because they write normal woman characters for their society. Shows that break this mold are going towards a more modern (more western?) depiction of women and yes, we are (using a broad brush stroke) more independent and respected now than historically—in all cultures.

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I can respect these points of view! :) I'm following via recaps, that's why I posed it as a question (with a question mark) rather than a definitive statement. Thanks for the explanation!

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The interesting thing to me is that this period is exactly when things turn from the relative freedom of women in Goryeo to the Neo-Confucianism of Joseon that squashed women down (as we are used to seeing). So I can explain to myself the ease with which HeeJae maneuvers in her world. (Unlike, say, in Rookie Historian where the girls' freedoms were hard to accept for me.)

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Yup, I have no problem with her walking around and acting independently because women in Goryeo had more freedom.

What is frustrating to me is that she goes around challenging powerful figures and looking like she has lots of clever ideas, but nothing much comes out of it. I think her character would be stronger if she focused on gathering intelligence for Ihwaru instead of being involved in so many side plots.

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@wishfultoki Yes to this. She's had a lot of plots that go nowhere. Like her relationship with the Queen. She meets Lady Kang. Flashforward four years and Lady Kang is now the Queen and Hee Jae is apparently known as a minister in a dress, but we don't get to see how she earned that title and she barely shares scenes with the Queen. She threatens Bang Won and he tells her to spy on the Queen and then nothing.

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I won't called it a failed attempt either, but we are more than half way into the drama and I still don't know why she is important. I am fine with female characters that acts like women of her era, but I NEED to know why she is important. Take Oh Nyeo in Chuno or Myung Hsim in Nokdu Flower, who are not doing any of the men's "business", but they are integral part of the story. Hee Jae???

We don't know much aside from she is the future leader of Ihwaru and she's gathering information on the side that helps. If we were to give her role to Man Wool, for example, or even get rid of her character all together, I don't think we'll miss much. At this point, I just think her character was shoe-horned in so they can have an idol star in the line up to sell it overseas.

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She’s also there to protect Hwi. Ihwaru is always there to protect Hwi.

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@ally-le I don't think Hwi needs protection. And we were told that, but so far I don't see how she is protecting him. By threatening Bang Won? :P I'll be thankful if the show doesn't make her into the damsel-in-distress that needs his protection instead.

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@msrabbit I don’t think Hwi is as smart as he thinks he is, and seems to be close to death more than anyone else. Irwahu is almost untouchable which is why he was able to be cared for after being beaten half to death by Bang Won’s minions. As long as Irwahu has its spy network, and they share that to both sides, they’re protected.

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Should we worry about Ihwaru since she is determined to protect Hwi?
If this place doesn't remain neutral Lord Nam might destroy it, unless Madame Seo has some kind of insurance lying around to keep Ihwaru safe.

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@ally-le In the beginning, I was thinking Hee Jae will be the brain to Hwi's brawl. I would really love to see her in that role. But so far, they weren't even working together. Hwi has no idea about what she's up to and vice versa.

Bang Won never intended to kill Hwi in the first place, otherwise he would not have let him go. Speaking of Ihwaru, it is supposed to maintain neutrality. With HJ being clearly on Hwi's side, imho, is only going to be a danger to that organization.

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CHUNO!

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My take is that the drama’s arc, as laid out, is too short to fully develop each of the characters. Especially in HJ’s case, much of her maturation happens in the time jumps off screen. For example, her growth from someone who walked in off the street to meet the future queen to becoming a “minister in a dress” should have made for a compelling arc. But it would have been mostly mind games and intelligence operations, and I think this drama is more action oriented. So far, the plotting has been mostly off screen. From what I’ve seen, I’m not sure this team has the right stuff to present spy operations in an interesting way.

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To me what you say makes sense. One of the reasons I stopped watching the show is that I was frustrated that we saw the action but missed a lot of the developments.

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In my mind, I have a longer version of this story. Key bits I wish we could have

The maturation of the relationship between Sun-ho and Yeon. This would be a heartbreaking arc, but one I want to see.

Maturation of Hwi from a man of action to a strategist capable of winning Bang-won’s focus.

HJ’s growth to Minister in a Dress while taking Lord Nam’s measure. To me this could be really complex and interesting since Lord Nam is the queen’s ally.

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All the things you mentioned @hebang, are in mine, as well. I would have thought the show to be more interesting if these were expounded further; but yes, it would them time. However, I believe the show is loved so well that I wonder why they have to cut it short from 20 to 16 episodes. The drama is doing better than Melting Me Softly and others. Seon Ho and Yeon, yes, that would be a bittersweet relationship. As for Hwi, his "instantly" becoming a top strategist to Bang Won is not believable, while it is necessary to the story. And then there's Hae Jee and Ihwaru... she has an interesting arc herself and exploring it would take time also. If I may add, with a little snark, I wish to see a bit more action from the most incompetent warrior, Gyeol.

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It's good to stretch one's imagination. No complain here. I even like it when I'm wrong lol.

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Thank you so much @lollypip <3. Hope you are doing well.

I'm glad they included the Poeun (Jeong Mong-ju) incident because it helps explain why Yi Bang-won is being treated like an outcast and a criminal by his own father and his so called ministers. Why his name was not on the list of Joseon's founders and why he was denied the position of the crown prince.

Poeun was considered to be a saint by the people of Goryeo. He was highly respected by kings, his colleagues and the common people.
He was Goryeo's best diplomat who often put his life on the line to negotiate the release of hundreds of Geoyeo prisoners of war and keep the peace between his country and it's warring neighbors.
In short Poeun was an example of extreme loyalty to one's country.

Poeun, Yi Seong-gye and Sambong (Jeong Dojeon) were close friends and comrades but he refused to join their cause. His plan was to reform the current government but not create a new country.
In order to save Goryeo from being over-thrown, Poeun tried to get rid of his former friends who are now traitors in his eyes but Bang-won saved them by killing Poeun the day before Sambong was set to be executed.

What Bang-won said in this episode is all true. "Nobody wanted to go down in history as the evil that killed a loyal servant, but that Po-eun had to die in order to establish the new country."
"He kneels at the spot where Po-eun died and says that this is where his family was saved and the nation began, but where he was abandoned...."

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I love this scene of Bangwon and Hwi on the bridge. Bangwon confessing his sentiments about what he truly felt about what happened. And Hwi in return pledging to take the fall for Bangwon.

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It was well done indeed. I'm just glad I watched SIX FLYING DRAGONS before this since there are several pivotal characters who are just name dropped here: Poeun, Sambong, Choi Young.

It's like MY COUNTRY is filling in the blanks of what went on in Bang Won's mind and heart during these events, which I love.

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Yes, these 2 dramas complement each other. I am glad that I saw 6 FD first. The writer of MC is doing a great job of presenting well known historical events in a different light.

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I feel more for Bang-won in this drama than any other because we see things from his own perspective.
As writer Jeong Hyun-min put in JEONG DO-JEON, "it wasn't right but unavoidable." "A cause without bloodshed is fantasy."

When you have time, do watch JEONG DO-JEON. That's where you'll learn the difference between facts and fiction.
It's very well written with memorable poetic correspondence among Goryeo/Joseon scholars. It's so delicious!

Speaking of poetry, shall we revisit the last exchanged by Poeun and Bang-won?

Yi Bang-won's sijo (poem) - Hayeoga.

What shall it be: this or that?
The walls behind the temple of the city's deity* has fallen - shall it be this?
Or if we survive together nonetheless - shall it be that?
(* Yi Bang-won is declaring the death of the era - the Goryeo Dynasty.)

Jeong Mong-ju's sijo (poem) - Dansimga.

Though I die and die again a hundred times,
That my bones turn to dust, whether my soul remains or not,
Ever loyal to my Lord, how can this red heart ever fade away?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeong_Mong-ju

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I was just rereading the poems!
Poeun's murder on the bridge was one of the dramatic highlights of 6FD. The writer of MC chose to craft a quieter reflective scene, but the emotional impact is just as powerful.

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That's the first thing that came to mind during that scene, the poems!
I agree, it was short but it still have the same emotional impact.

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It's on my list @kiara! I'm saving JEONG DO JEON for the holidays, when I can give it proper attention. If it's anything like NOKDU FLOWER I'm in for a treat. The poetry is a bonus :D

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Jeong Hyun-min won best screenwriter for JDJ. Well deserved I might say. It's too bad the English subs doesn't do justice to his script.

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It couldn’t have been a coincidence that the writer chose this emotional moment for Bangwon to show a pivotal shift in Hwi’s relationship with Bangwon. I think this moment was when Bangwon started to truly trust Hwi. With both of them on the bridge, it was a symbolic representation of Bangwon’s intention to allow Hwi into his inner circle and invitation to cross the bridge with him. Bangwon’s performance here was brilliant. The way he knelt on the ground and his hand grazed the soil. I can’t help but think there was a deeper meaning behind it. It felt as if he was filled with remorse over what happened. And yet at the same time, there was a yearning for a new country.

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Oops I meant Jang Hyuk’s performance. He’s a phenomenal actor. The lines between the actor and character have started to blend as one.

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I've been wondering if Bang-won may have known by now that Hwi is related to the Seo Geom that he seems to think highly of.
Death by boiling in a cauldron happens rarely. Bang-won would have known the detail of Seo Geom's death.

I won't be surprised if Bang-won has been holding a memorial rites for Seo Geom in his own home.

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I think with Bangwon’s own intel network, it’s possible he already knows. In the lead up to the bridge, Bangwon is already aware of Park Chi Do, Moon Bok and Jang Beom’s background. He also mentioned about Hwi’s father on the bridge. The way he seem to regard highly of Hwi’s father gives a poignant reflection of his own relationship with Yi Seong Gye.

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@mei123db
Right and sharing something so personal with Hwi could mean 2 things.
1. He knows that he is Seo Geom's son.
Or
2. He is trying to gain his trust because goes both ways.

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@kiara,
Is the bridge where Po-eun died the same one where Hwi's father committed suicide? I think it might be.

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@pakalanapikake

One is bigger than the other. Poeun's bridge is smaller and it's located in a residential area which fit the history since he was meeting Bang-won at his house before he was killed.

The bridge where Seo Geom died is somewhere at the country site.

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@kiara,
Thank you for the sanity check.

The real Sonjuk Bridge looks very different from the one in the drama:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonjuk_Bridge

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YW :).

The real Sonjuk Bridge is also at North Korea. There is no way they'll be able shoot there.

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@pakalanapikake
The bridge that was built for SFD was the closest to the real one imo.

This is a clip from TEARS of THE DRAGON. The bridge is not like the original either and he was killed during the day.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSeM75_oEQM

Poeun knew he was going to die and that's why he rode his horse with his face to the back.

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@kiara,
Thank you for that clip from TEARS OF THE DRAGON. I was wondering why Po-eun was astride the horse backwards. I took it to mean that he was looking back on Goryeo, which I guess also fits.

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@pakalanapikake

I didn't even know about TEARS of the DRAGON until MrX mentioned it. I didn't even like watching old sageuks but I've learnt to appreciate the much needed gravitas and the importance of authentic acting in historical dramas since they are mostly portraying real people.

It looks like it was made before we were born but that part alone is so powerful. The poetry, the mannerism, the dialect, the pansori in the end etc. I wish I could explain it properly.
This is the go to drama that the history channel is using for this time period.

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@kiara November 8, 2019 at 7:26 PM

I think that scene from TEARS OF THE DRAGON holds up really well. The pansori at the end emphasizes the nobility of Po-eun's unwavering loyalty while underscoring the lamentable, unbridgeable rift that arose because of matters of conscience. (I've been a pansori fan since watching CHUNHYANG a few years ago.) Even though I'm unfamiliar with Korean historical acting conventions from the time it was made, I can appreciate the gravitas and smoldering intensity. His servant's loyalty to Po-eun was moving. They both knew they were going to die, but they set out on their journey anyway, and walked into the pages of history.

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@pakalanapikake

"His servant's loyalty to Po-eun was moving. They both knew they were going to die, but they set out on their journey anyway, and walked into the pages of history."
😭😭😭😭😭

I couldn't have put it better myself <3.

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I honestly find Heejae's character useless. I mean, what exactly is her role in all of this?

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As much as I'm still Team Sun-ho (for now), Hwi's sudden swagger in this episode was pretty amazing.

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Hwi is no longer the poor suffering victim. He is not just a warrior but a strategist.

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A warrior and strategist that’s impressive and noted by Bangwon himself. And yeah, I’m surprised it’s that kind of swagger that only he has that manages to bring a smile too on Bangwon.

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The Sun Ho scene with his mother was much needed .Now he makes senses . Hui Jae is just off. I think the actress is not employing much nuance . Why do I say that ? Queen Seondeok barely has any lines but there’s so much pathos in her performance in her singular plot of being a mother doing anything to protect her sons. Hui Jae has multiple plots such as avengeing her dead mother, Seo Geom ,love triangle , Hwi, Ihwaru, friendship with Hwa - Hol , Madame Seol etc! It’s the actress’ fault in my opinion. She can’t interpret.

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Sageuks that are bit more traditional is challenging for most young actors who aren't used to it.
While everyone else is immersed in their role she is struggling to find her footing, let alone add more to make her character believable.

I wish she'd stop threatening to kill people who are out of her league like Bang-won and Lord Nam. She should've learn to control her temper when she was being reprimanded for putting up the posters.

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I know the actress is doing her best and isn't very experienced, but her character isn't doing much for me. She is supposed to be an intelligence gatherer, so she should be doing mainly that: observing and recording stuff, acting firmly but diplomatically. It's not a good idea to threaten and annoy everyone who's powerful.

Also, her manner of speaking is starting to grate on my nerves. She doesn't enunciate well enough for sageuk. Among the young actors I think Woo Do-hwan has the best sageuk speech.

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Given the way the plot is, and the scenes, I’m not sure anyone could have made her character compelling. There are just too many pieces of her arc that just are not on screen.

And yes, the difference in acting skill between the Queen and HJ is obvious.

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While the political plot are intriguing and alluring to keep me on my feet but the romance factor, not so much. I mean even now, I still don't feel invested in Hee-jae as much as I want to.

I feel I rather invested in Sun-ho, Hwi, and his younger sister more than Sun-ho, Hwi, and Hee-jae. My drama fanatic in me rather see Yeon being torn between her brother and Sun-ho that makes a greater plot than the love triangle between Sun-ho, Hwi, and Hee-jae.

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Part 1 of 2

Thank you for your episode 7 recap, @lollypip!

I’m not convinced that the relationship between Sun-ho and Hwi is totally down the tubes – yet. By double-crossing Sun-ho, I actually think that Hwi did him a favor. Anyone who knew of their past friendship would consider it dead as a doornail now. I couldn’t help but notice that neither ratted out the other under torture (by Bang-won or in His Majesty’s slammer, respectively). Although Sun-ho belted Hwi for getting him demoted and nearly killed, he had survived the ordeal – the same way that Hwi survived being sent to Liaodong in the vanguard. Sun-ho knew his friend would be able to survive in battle, but wanted to get him far away from Lord Nam. These guys are still trying to save each other’s bacon – they’re just loathe to admit it. I’m hoping that they both live to mend fences after Lord Nam gets his just deserts.

I appreciated learning that Sun-ho’s mother was the inspiration for his drive for power and a role in transforming Korean society so that low-borns could live better lives. That explains why he is so committed to that vision.

Hee-jae’s fixation on getting cut in on the trade deal with the Queen’s assistance makes sense to me because diplomatic missions to China also involved officially-sanctioned monopolies on foreign trade. All other cross-border trading was smuggling – and a good way to get oneself killed. But if you could get your finger in the pie as an official vendor to Yuan or Ming, you could make good money. Hee-jae wants to accumulate money for the power (and intelligence) it can buy. Knowing Ihwaru’s relationship with Bang-won, trading with Ming could also be a source of weaponry for his private army.

I was really confused when totally unarmed Hwi went to Ihwaru with Bang-won, only to be threatened with the execution of his colleagues (and he still didn’t rat out Sun-ho when asked who was behind him). In the ensuing fight with Bang-won's soldiers, Hwi managed to get a bow away from one of the two archers present. It looked just like his bow with the headband tied to its lower end, although the color may not have been purple. I found that very confusing.

Another oddball scene was of Hee-jae supposedly cleaning up Hwi after he keeled over at Ihwaru. She did a terrible job of daintily dabbing at the gore before inexplicably falling asleep in the middle of what was supposed to be pillow talk or something. Sheesh. He would have been better off with Doc Moon-bok and the rest of the boys.

The real fireworks were between Lord Nam and Bang-won and also Sun-ho – and between Bang-won and everyone else. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the performances by Ahn Nae-sang, Jang-hyuk, and Kim Young-chul, OTP Yang Se-jong and Woo Do-hwan, and the Liaodong Survivors. And Madame Seo, whose lung condition is sounding really bad.

- Continued -

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Part 2 of 2

Regarding Po-eun Jung Mong-ju, I appreciated the scene of Bang-won’s taking Hwi to the bridge where he did his father’s dirty work and ended up being abandoned by the person who profited from it the most. I’m really interested to find out how Seo Geom apparently came to be abandoned (on that same bridge?), too. It surely sounded as if he were meant to be beside Yi Seung-gye when Joseon supplanted Goryeo. I see a parallel between the individual abandonment of Bang-won and General Seo and that of entire classes of low-borns. Hwi and his Liaodong vanguard colleagues were also abandoned – as were Sun-ho and Hwang Sung-rok who were sent to liquidate them.

Historical Background

Background information on Po-eun Jung Mong-ju:

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Jeong_Mong-ju

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeong_Mong-ju#The_poems

https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Taejong_of_Joseon

https://thetalkingcupboard.com/portfolio/king-taejo-and-the-disappearing-messengers/

While unsuccessfully searching for the legal status of gambling in Yuan, Ming, Goryeo, and Joseon (sorry, no dice re: the death penalty, as mentioned in relation to Grand General Jung), I came across the following chapters that deal with the demotion of Buddhism in favor of Neo-Confucianism, and the Book of Five Relationships in Ming and Joseon:

Chapter 24: “Building Cultural Authority in Early Joseon Korea (1400–1450),” by Lee Soomi, translated by Oh Seung Hee and Jeong-Spencer Eunjin (pp. 211-218);

Chapter 25: “The Book of the Five Relationships: Thoughts on Mid-Fifteenth-Century Court Confucianism,” by Sarah Schneewind (pp. 219-227)

in: Ming China: Courts and Contacts 1400–1450. Edited by Craig Clunas, Jessica Harrison-Hall and Luk Yu-ping; The British Museum, London, 2016.
ISBN 978 0 86159 205 0
https://www.britishmuseum.org/pdf/205_Ming_China_Courts_and_Contacts.pdf

-30-

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I agree, our main leads' friendship is still intact whether they admit it or not. They have the same enemy, Lord Nam Jeon.
I also think that Sun-ho's intention on sending Hwi to the battle field was to save him. He had a better chance of surviving there considering that he can fight than having him killed by his father for not obeying his order not to participate in the state exam.

Sun-ho is probably hoping that Bang-won won't become the king since there won't be a place for illegitimate people like him in his kingdom.
I think he is frustrated that his plan is not happening fast enough. If it doesn't happen with King Taejo then his last hope will be Crown Prince Bang-seok.
During the banquet in earlier episode, Bang-seok pointed out Sun-ho and asked his mother who he is. She told him that he is the man who will protect him.
Maybe Sun-ho's hope is really with Bang-seok and not with the current king? Is he going to protect him in exchange for something that he wants?

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Knowing how history turns out, SunHo’s prospects doesn’t look too good. It’s like a no-win situation for him no matter which side he chooses. And here I am secretly hoping that both he and Hwi are working under the radar for Bangwon. I was still clinging to that hope of his survival and a restored relationship with Hwi. Probably the one thing that might still bring him favor with Bangwon would be if he were to eliminate their common enemy — Nam Jeon. It looks like that has been his plan all along. He just needs to execute it in such a way that doesn’t incriminate him.

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@mei123db Mei Geu-Rae,

You must be reading my mind. ;-) Yes, the historical outlook for Sun-ho is really bleak. My fingers are crossed that the old friends are in cahoots under a shroud of plausible deniability. They both have it in for Lord Nam for killing their loved ones, and that will never change.

Beyond that, I cannot forget that it was Sun-ho who risked Lord Nam's wrath to help Hwi bury his father in the pouring rain -- in which case he acted like a filial son to Seo Geom. It wasn't clear to me from the flashback whether the two boys were friends prior to that. What was it that prompted Sun-ho to help? Was it his hearing that Hwi's father had been Lord Nam's friend who had been betrayed? He knew first-hand the treachery of which his father was capable, and courageously did the right thing. I didn't get a sense of his acting out of guilt, either. He did it because it was the right thing to do. (It makes me wonder whether Sun-ho's mother had received a proper burial.)

Sheesh. It just occurred to me that if Lord Nam and General Seo had been friends, then their sons could well have known each other prior to the betrayal. Might Sun-ho have even picked up a few moves from his friend's father? Perhaps he got a little mentoring from his buddy's dad. General Seo was a good guy, and after seeing how he interacted with the young Hee-jae (was she really a total stranger, or is there more to the story that has yet to be revealed?), I could imagine his giving his son's friend some sparring pointers. If Sun-ho considered his best friend Hwi to be his brother, then General Seo would have been the father he wished he had. Sun-ho considered Yeon to be his kid sister long before he had to take custody of her when Hwi was dragged off to Liaodong. I'm hoping that these family-of-choice ties between Hwi and Sun-ho will soften Bang-won's attitude towards the latter.

I, too, have been thinking since the initial scene of the First Strife of Princes that Sun-ho might get on Bang-won's good side by dispatching evil Lord Nam. The son might be able to invoke filial piety towards his mother, which might even twang one of Bang-won's heartstrings for his own mother.

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@mei123db and @pakalanapikake

Thanks girls!

Poor Sun-ho. Doom from the beginning and history isn't helping but we are "fated to love you."

Maybe Sun-ho is waiting for Dark Lord Nam to get all the power that he wants then take it from him so he'll only hurt his father and no one else.

Interesting thoughts on the friendship between Hwi and Sun-ho and when it started.

I think it depends on when Sun-ho moved in with Lord Nam. It seems like Seo Geom was sentenced to death before that.

I'm just plain hating on Lord Nam that I don't want him to be the reason why the boys met in the first place.

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@kiara, cc: @mei123db Mei Geu-Rae

You're welcome, Sunbae-nim! I've found Sun-ho to be a sympathetic character from the beginning, one who is permanently wedged in between a rock and a hard place.

I had it in the back of my mind that Hwi may not have met Sun-ho until the latter was forced to live with his father. So in that case, it's even more interesting that the privileged but abused son of Lord Nam was moved to help someone he didn't even know because he could readily believe his father would do something so evil. Sun-ho didn't stand to gain anything (aside from undying friendship), but had a whole lot to permanently lose when he decided to help Hwi. He's got a heart -- and listens to it.

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@PakalanaPikake and @mei123db

Thank you both so much!

I needed this because the show moves fast and it doesn't gives us much detail on our characters' relationships so I'm satisfied when we have this kind of extended discussion.
The historical background is fascinating too and I love learning more and looking at the same old historical figures from a different perspective.

I think I'm almost ready to move to the next episode. We can always come back if we need to dig up more lol.

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I’m enjoying these in-depth exchanges as well as I like reading other viewers’ thoughts, and grateful we get insights from those who are dedicated and knowledgeable sageuk audience ☺️ I think the historical events provide a fascinating backdrop for a rich narrative and an interesting link to our fictional leads. For instance, we see parallel arcs between Bangwon, Hwi and SunHo’s relationship with their fathers. Three men coming from diverse classes dealing with their own paternal issues. We see different layers of their motivations based on their childhood history and the impact of their relationship with each other that are interconnected. I recall there is a scene between Bangwon and SunHo which I think will be in later episode that reveals more of how they feel about their fathers so we can discuss it then.

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@kiara,
Thanks for commenting, Sunbae-nim. ;-)

I think you're right about Sun-ho's getting antsy about getting his foot in the door with Taejo, which he attempted to do at the banquet by deflecting the ministers' attention and ire onto himself, and by implementing the king's unstated desire for the dispersal of private armies. He already knows that Bang-won has it in for half-yangban like himself, so it stands to reason that he would support Prince Bang-seok as Taejo's wangseja. Lord Nam has cozied up to the Queen and her sons with an eye to getting his hooks into Taejo's eventual successor -- so it stands to reason that Sun-ho as his son would be part of the deal.

On the other hand, wouldn't Ihwaru and the Queen be aware of the long-standing rift between Lord Nam and his son? After his demotion, is she still assuming that Sun-ho will try to protect Bang-seok Wangseja? He has been sidelined, so even if he wants to protect Taejo's youngest boys, he's in no position to do so, as far as I can see.

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@pakalanapikake

I think it depends on who the queen wants to protect her sons from. Bang-won is a clear threat but Lord Nam also has his own plan.

The riff between Sun-ho and his father is probably a good thing where the queen is concern. Sun-ho would keep Lord Nam in check in case he tries to take advantage of the crown prince.
The queen is perfectly capable of playing this political games from behind the curtain. It looks like she could be using them both.

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There is so much behind the scene that is being briefly mentioned in this drama.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Ming trades.
Having diplomatic relations with Ming (China) gave Joseon an opportunity for open free trades and protection in case of an invasion.

I've always wonder who was benefiting more. Ming or Joseon?
In order for the free trade to happen Joseon was required to send tributes to Ming and it's often involve hundreds of women. How is that fair? Was it worth it to protect the country?

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@kiara,
I think the only parties benefiting from trade between China and Korea were the ones who had the official monopolies. It certainly wasn't the human tribute of women and future eunuchs. (In GRAND PRINCE, Joseon women were married off to Jurchens in an attempt to civilize the northern barbarians, which didn't work at all.) Trade was not free, as the respective governments highly regulated who got to participate -- and no doubt exacted hefty taxes.

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Thank you @pakalanapikake

It makes so much sense. I didn't want to read more into it because it sounds like human/slave trafficking which totally turn me off.

Joseon, went through 2 Manchu invasions for helping Ming. So much for that diplomatic relationship.

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You're welcome, @kiara.

The human cargo destined for China as tribute in the form of women, male slaves/eunuchs, and troops was official. Very depressing, but not surprising when one considers that Goryeo crown princes were sent as hostages to the Yuan court for years and married to Mongol princesses. If that's what went on with the royals, is it any wonder the lowest strata of Korean society had it so bad. And then there was the commercial slave trade, which kept the chunos busy tracking escapees. (Tip of the hat to Dae-gil.) Trade involved many other kinds of merchandise, including silk fabric, high-quality paper, scholarly and literary books, and kimchi.

Ah, the Manchu invasions. This is what you get for pissing off the Jurchens. King Injo had to kowtow 9 times to Hong Taiji before the Manchus toppled Ming China and established the Qing dynasty. The Manchus wouldn't have gotten so angry if the dominant Western faction (Seo-in) hadn't taken such a hard line stance against them. These invasions brought to Joseon by loyal "subjects."

/sarcasm off

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@pakalanapikake

"King Injo had to kowtow 9 times to Hong Taiji"
That was an epic scene from JTBC's CRUEL PALACE. This is the only sageuk that made me kind of understand where he's coming from. He didn't want to be the king but he was forced into it by the westerners so he can be their puppet.

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@kiara November 9, 2019 at 7:22 AM

Ah, I haven't seen CRUEL PALACE yet, but now you've given me incentive. I was thinking of the analogous scene in HWAJUNG / SPLENDID POLITICS, with Kim Jae-won as King Injo.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugyW2fyJMAI

IIRC, in HWAJUNG, Prince Neungyang wanted to gain power by collaborating in overthrowing Gwanghaegun, but only later did he realize the price he paid. I may have missed some of the fine points. Another aspect of the show was that Court Lady Kim Gae-shi was behind the murder of Gwanghaegun's younger, legitimate brother, Grand Prince Youngchang -- without his knowledge.

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@pakalanapikake

The opening scene from CRUEL PALACE was epic. This is the first sageuk featuring Manchurians who actually speaks Manchu like in WAR OF THE ARROWS.
https://www.viki.com/videos/1070964v-cruel-palace-war-of-flowers-episode-1

HeadsNo2 did an intro review here:
http://www.dramabeans.com/2013/05/cruel-palace-an-introduction/

Jung Ha-yeon follows history closely but I thought it was too long.
Crown Prince Sohyeon and Crown Princess Minhoe were my favorites. I was pleased to learn more about them even though it ended sadly.

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Thank you so very much, @kiara, for that dandy link to CRUEL PALACE - WAR OF FLOWERS! Daebak to the nth degree! You've really got my number when it comes to hearing Manchu dialogue in Kdramas, too. I recognized the shape of the Manchu arrowhead when the eunuch was shot.

I watched the whole episode, which sucked me in in jig time. What an opening scene. (It occurs to me that Sohyeon Seja also appeared in CHUNO.)

I've only seen Lee Deok-hwa in THE BEST HIT, MAY QUEEN, and SHINE OR GO CRAZY, but the first drama is the one that left the strongest impression until now. He was very funny, but also had a very touching arc that was dripping with pathos. He is terrific as King Injo. Jung Sung-mo (Marshal Hae) and Jeon Tae-soo (Prince Jinmoo), both from THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SOO BAEK HYANG, are a couple more faves. JTS has such a short filmography that I'm delighted to see him in this.

For some reason, this drama was never on my radar, I guess because of the title. Thank you for the pointer to HeadsNo2's initial series introduction. She had me laughing out loud. Man, do I miss her writing. To wit:

<b<... if the political underpinnings are this show’s spine, then the characters and their very human stories are its heart and soul. (And the tendency to shoot at night with low visibility and the somewhat old school look of an otherwise very competent production make up the spleen and gallbladder.)

It's interesting to read that 6 years ago there were dark, murky dramas. (When did JOSEON X-FILES originally air?) It's not all ARTHDAL'S fault. Insufficient illumination is nothing new. I don't care. This drama is compelling enough for me to watch it anyway.

Mahalo nui loa for another of your patented hot tips. ;-)

After reading all the comments, it sounds like it was a great show. It will probably be my next long sageuk.

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@kiara,
Dang, Sunbae-nim! You got me well and truly hooked on CRUEL PALACE. I just finished ep. 6. It is totally addictive. The story is pretty straightforward, and flows nicely. I don't have to sprain my brain (so far). And I'm enjoying the cast, who are turning in lovely performances. It is truly such a treat to see Jeon Tae-soo. Oh, and a cameo by Seo Yi-sook from SOO BAEK HYANG alumna.

I did have to laugh when I saw the steel walking plow Seja was using in 1637 or whenever. John Deere didn't invent his earliest model until 1837, but the one in the show is from about 1882! Yeah, I can't help it, I'm a gardening and farming nerd (but doomed to living in a condo). ;-)

BTW, the instrumental music is really lovely.

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@pakalanapikake

You are so welcome :).

Jung ha-yeon's sageuks is easy to follow and he focus on the women more. It wasn't King Injo's drama even though he was the king. This whole drama was based on a concubine.

QUEEN INSOO is my fave. A woman who wanted power and it shows her journey to the top and how it slowly stripped away her humanity as she gets closer and eventually led to destruction.
Power doesn't equal happiness as some may think. Even for the women in Joseon.

It's so awesome the way this writer humanized historical figures and the negative effect of power does not discriminate between male and female. It destroys both the same way.

SHIN DON is another favorite of mine from writer Jung Ha-yeon. My first taste of Empress Ki and the beloved Queen Noguk. I learned a lot about the women of Goryeo from it and the history between Yuan and Goryeo.

It's too bad that not many appreciate this writers wonderful works. It's truly amazing for the fans of this genre.

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@pakalanapikake
"I did have to laugh when I saw the steel walking plow Seja was using in 1637 or whenever. John Deere didn't invent his earliest model until 1837, but the one in the show is from about 1882! Yeah, I can't help it, I'm a gardening and farming nerd"

Thank you for this. I didn't noticed it lol. Those eagle eyes of yours are amazing when it comes to small details.

The sageuks that I personally think that are excellent seems to always have fewer followers.
Take this year's NOKDU FLOWER as an example.

JOSEON X-FILES(2010) was great and JB's recaps was helped a ton.
I can not unsee Kim Gab-soo's cigar man. He was terrific and I miss Kim Ji-hoon 😭.

Anyway, Lee Deok-hwa is a hit and miss for me but I agree that he is doing a good job as Injo.
I love Kim Hyun-joo though. She is wonderful in both modern and historical dramas.

It was a bit too long for me at the time. I had other shows that I was watching it was tough to keep up but I enjoyed it a lot.

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@pakalanapikake and @wishfultoki
The face off between Bang-won and Nam Jeon was probably my favorite scene. It's exciting to watch them together on screen whether they are exchanging words or just with their intense stare.

Absolute monarchy (Bang-won) vs Ministers (Subjects) (Nam Jeon).
Toki brought up some good points about both system from the last episode. Both system could work and or abused by those in power.

To be honest I'm still confused as to what type of system Jeong Dojeon was trying to install. It sounds like Parliamentary system like England but it's different with Neo Confucianism.
He claimed it's a country for the people but how is their voice going to be heard when everything is being decided by the ministers in power?

If you watch JEONG DO-JEON. Jeong did not reveal everything to Yi Seong-gye until Joseon was established. Over time King Taejo realized that Jeong has all the power as the prime minister and he is just a figure head on the throne.
It felt like he was being blind sided.

Some scholars praised Jeon and some thinks that he deserved to be eliminated.

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@kiara, @wishfultoki,
JEONG DO-JEON is on my to-watch list for sure. ;-)

I have been surprised by how Yi Seung-gye has apparently been giving Sambong carte blanche to do whatever he wants as the architect of Joseon. It's as if he cannot be bothered to know the details. Is he really that naive? He himself has overthrown the previous dynasty. Does it never occur to him that someone might try to pull the same thing on him? For such a great military strategist, it doesn't make sense to be so trusting -- especially when he distrusts his own sons by his first wife so much. I can only interpret it to be one of Taejo's blind spots -- aided and abetted by his pride.

It also hinges on just who is considered to be a "subject." That would be full-fledged yangban -- exclusively -- just as Lord Nam says. The hoi polloi are not even considered to be human, and thus are not subjects. (There goes my blood pressure again.)

If anything, Sambong is implementing his own scholarly power grab as an aristocratic oligarchy while Taejo is asleep at the wheel. I guess it makes sense. The king was a career soldier. He wanted his son Bang-won to be educated -- but when he passed the gwageo at age 15, Dad's insecurity and jealousy got the better of him. It has been all downhill ever since.

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@pakalanapikake and @wishfultoki

This might help give you an idea of what to expect from JEONG DO-JEON.
This cast is brillliant, talented, insightful, delightful etc.
Yoo Dong-geun played Yi Bang-won in TEARS of DRAGON (clip above) and he is Yi Seong-gye in this drama. He is fantastic! The rest of the cast are Amazing too.
I really appreciate JDJ even more after watching the cast in this show.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1659&v=h7syfBwBXuo&feature=emb_logo

I think you'll understand Yi Seong-gye more after watching JDJ.
Sambong was brilliant, the same level of brilliant as King Sejong but he was cold and calculated. King Sejong was the opposite. He used his gifts
to help his people, especially the lower class commoners.

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Mahalo nui loa, @kiara! I just finished watching the super-deluxe HAPPY TOGETHER Jeong Dojeon Special with Jo Jaehyeon, Yu Donggeun, Park Yeonggyu, Seon Donghyeok, and Lee Kwanggi (2014.07.24) that aired simultaneously with the drama's finale. What a terrific warm-up for a marathon viewing.

Of the actors, I've only seen Yoo Dong-geun (the charming dad in MARRY ME NOW?) and Park Young-gyu (Evil Grandpa in ARE YOU HUMAN TOO, and another baddie role in CHIEF KIM. I was shocked to learn he's a famed comic actor, and a good singer, too).

I especially enjoyed the discussion of satoori, the wonderful pansori duet, and the traditional dancing. Daebak! The clips from the drama were really great -- especially that scene of Po-eun and Sambong on the bridge where the former will meet his end. Comparing it to the footage from TEARS OF THE DRAGON you posted and Bang-won's libation for Po-eun in MY COUNTRY -- wow. After seeing these clips, I get the sense that Lord Nam might include some of the attributes of Sambong in the other shows.

Thanks again for that absolute treat! <3 <3 <3

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@pakalanapikake

You are so welcome!

I also like how Yu explained the Hamgyeong dialect. How they add "me" to Seognim -Seongnime. Now that's something that I can identify from here on.

There are some North Korean sageuks on YouTube and I'm going to just watch it without subs.

Han Ye-ri is so good with North Korean dialect. It's one of the reason why I love her in historical dramas.

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@kiara If I had to compare Sambong’s dream government with something, maybe I’d compare it to the old Roman Republic, in the sense that the Senate decided all political business but war campaigns were led by the two consuls, who were themselves part of the Senate. Similarly, Taejo hands Bang-seok a sword and reminds him to defend his throne and his country. The kings’ main function is military, to ensure peace, since scholars can’t really do that.

The crisis of the Roman Republic happened when generals started having their own armies (sounds familiar), leading eventually to civil war and the rise of Julius Caesar. Augustus, in history remembered as the first emperor, managed to keep the Senate happy by calling himself “princeps” (the first among them), not emperor, and appearing to let them continue as before. Taejo is striking a good balance as well, letting Sambong implement his policies but making sure they know he is the boss. However, Bang-Won is not having this. He wants to really rule.

Sambong’s system is quite unique, and as you say, also sounds like an attempt at constitutional monarchy like in the current United Kingdom, but 500 years before.

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@wishfultoki

Thank you so much <3. WTB an edit button.

It's much clearer now than before. It's neither one or the other but it's like taking some from each and molding it under Neo Confucian ideals.
While the Romans's war campaigns were designated to two consuls, Sambong was also in charge of the war campaigns.
He made plans to attack Liaodong again but he was killed before it happen. It's too bad because it might have been successful this time around.

I think Sambong was too greedy. While creating this system in the name of the people he also held the most power in the court, even over the king.
It makes sense that he needed the power in order for his policies to be implemented but he also made enemies in the court because some of the ministers felt alienated since it was basically a one man show starring Sambong.

His role was to advice the king and with that much power in his hands he should've insisted on choosing the crown prince from the oldest sons of the family. He would've avoided all of this bloodshed but he went along with Taejo because he also would benefit from it.

Bang-won may have gone down in the history books for his evil deeds but he was also praised for improving the country and paving the way for Korea's most beloved King Sejong.

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My guess about why the weapons were badly made is that someone in charge of the funds was skimming from it. Still happens in this time and age.

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