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63

My Country: The New Age: Episode 8

The king is ready to name his successor, and his choice will affect the future of the country far more than anyone suspects. Our heroes’ plans must be adjusted, and everything changes so much that even they aren’t quite sure how everything will turn out. Knowing the historical outcome doesn’t lessen the tension when innocent lives are at stake, and anyone could be sacrificed in the name of creating a better future.

 
EPISODE 8 RECAP

Hwi posts a letter on Lord Nam’s front door — a direct copy of the pact Lord Nam made twelve years ago to conspire to kill King Taejo, then Yi Seong-gye. Lord Nam had killed his co-conspirators and taken their copies of the pact, but one copy had gone unfound.

Sun-ho comes home with Yeon and sees the letter before Lord Nam takes it down. He asks if it’s true, because it will destroy their family. Lord Nam growls that “he” did this, so Sun-ho summons Hwi to the hideout. Lord Nam asks if it was Hwi who sent the arrows into the king’s target at archery, with the note attached.

Hwi mockingly repeats Lord Nam’s words to him: “Hide your anger and hold it in.” He admits that he shot the arrow, but as Lord Nam is swinging his sword, he continues that he was acting on Bang-won’s orders. He swears that he would never lie to Lord Nam since he has custody of Yeon, and promises to report Bang-won’s every move to him.

But Lord Nam doesn’t trust Hwi and says that he’ll get his information elsewhere. After his father leaves, Sun-ho tells Hwi that he hopes he’s not the one behind all this, because he plans to kill the mastermind who’s plotting to destroy his family.

One of Hee-jae’s informants tells her that Hwi met with a young woman at his house, and that she then joined Sun-ho and went to Lord Nam’s home. Hee-jae asks Lady Seo if she gave her mother’s letter that she was promised to Hwi instead, and if the “person he’s trying to save” is Yeon, but Lady Seo refuses to answer.

Hee-jae starts to storm out, but Lady Seo tells her to take Gyeol, giving him permission to kill anyone who tries to harm Hee-jae. Lady Seo tells Hee-jae, “Protect those you need to protect. Meanwhile, I will protect you.”

While looking for Hwi, Cheonga finds Chi-do, Jang Beom, and Moon-bok eating dinner. He attacks them when they refuse to give up Hwi’s location, so Moon-bok throws dirt in Cheonga’s face and they slip away. They join up with Hwi at the hideout and warn him that Bang-won is out for his blood.

Hwi says that this is all part of his plan, and that he has to make Bang-won utilize “the secret letter” in order to take down Lord Nam and save Yeon. Chi-do reminds Hwi that it’s over for all of them if Bang-won discovers that he’s a spy.

Hee-jae goes to Lord Nam’s house and looks around for Yeon. She finds a room with one embroidered slipper on the steps, and when she calls, Yeon tentatively peeks out. Hee-jae falters when it becomes obvious that Yeon doesn’t know her, but Yeon begs her to tell her anything she knows about her.

Before Hee-jae can say anything, Sun-ho shows up and tells Yeon that they’ve never met. Hee-jae follows him away and slaps him, for lying and for keeping Yeon from Hwi all this time. He argues that his father would have killed them, but Hee-jae spits that he’s holding her hostage to control Hwi, and that now she knows why Hwi hid everything from her.

She leaves, and Sun-ho watches her go, looking heartbroken. Behind the wall, Yeon was secretly listening, and what she’s learned has her looking terrified. Lord Nam finds her there and gets angry, assuming she was trying to leave without his permission.

He asks where she went when she snuck out, scaring her so badly that her hand starts to shake like it used to before a seizure. Lord Nam asks if Yeon’s regained her memories, but Sun-ho intervenes, so Lord Nam lets Yeon go and stalks off. But Yeon is scared of Sun-ho too, after what she heard Hee-jae say.

Apparently the thug Ganggae has seen this secret letter, so the plan is to kidnap him and take him and the letter to Bang-won. Lord Nam also has an idea that Ganggae might know something, so he orders his man to bring Ganggae to him.

Despite being the most wanted man in Joseon tonight, Ganggae is pretty unconcerned. A flashback shows that back in 1380, he witnessed Lord Nam kill the his three co-conspirators, and Ganggae believes that his knowledge means that he’s safe from Lord Nam.

Hwi and his friends walk right into Ganggae’s hideout, quickly overpowering Ganggae’s men and capturing Ganggae himself. Hee-jae was on her way to see Hwi, and she arrives at the exact wrong moment. She’s frozen at the sight of Ganggae, recognizing him from the night her mother was killed.

She tells Gyeol that Ganggae killed her mother, and while Hwi tries to stop him from killing Ganggae, Ganggae grabs a sword and takes Hee-jae hostage. Hwi draws his bow but hesitates, scared to hit Hee-jae, even when she screams at him to shoot.

His stance jogs Ganggae’s memory, who says that Hwi is lucky he didn’t kill him as a child. While he’s distracted, Hee-jae stabs him in the leg, causing him to fall away. He jumps back up and swings his sword, but Hwi fires an arrow into his shoulder and stops him from killing Hee-jae.

He runs to her to see if she’s okay, but her focus is on Ganggae. She picks up the sword he dropped and prepares to stab him with it, but he blurts out, “Nam Jeon! Nam Jeon ordered me to bring the secret letter to him. That bastard told me to kill everyone.”

He begs for his life, but Hee-jae brings the sword down. In her mind, she sees herself as a child, standing over Ganggae holding a blade. Seo Geon had interrupted her, saying that her real enemy was the mastermind behind Ganggae. She had made the same choice then as she’s made now — to spare Ganggae, and save her revenge for the man who controls him.

Hwi gently takes the sword from Hee-jae and leads her away. She admits that she’s killed Ganggae in her mind hundreds of times, but she couldn’t do it today because Hwi needs him to save Yeon. She tells him that this is the spot where she floated lanterns for her mother and for him, and that the letter her mother was delivering when she died now belongs to him.

She tells Hwi to stop carrying his burdens alone, and share them with her so they can be together. She says she’s entered his world now and embraces him, and Hwi reluctantly lets himself hold her.

Sun-ho inspects the archery range where Hwi shot the arrow, and he asks Sung-rok what Bang-won would gain from making the king doubt him. He tells Sung-rok that the note attached to the arrow (that looked like Bang-won’s) endangered both Bang-won and Lord Nam. He ponders who benefits the most from this — the king, or the person with the secret letter.

Lord Nam’s house is searched by order of the king. He submits meekly, sure that King Taejo is warning him, and threatening that he can trample or kill Lord Nam at any time.

Queen Sindeok is scared with everything that’s happening and Bang-won out of control, but Bang-seok hasn’t been made crown prince yet. The king says that he’s chosen Bang-seok because he’s the youngest, ensuring that King Taejo can stay on the throne as long as possible. Queen Sindeok counters that it’s about staying on the throne for him, but about survival for her son, and she refuses to wait quietly.

Sun-ho goes to the palace and demands to see the king, bellowing that he knows where the secret letter is. First he asks that he and his family not to be harmed, then tells King Taejo that Bang-won has the secret letter. He says that the contents of the letter will make King Taejo want to kill him and his father, but that would leave nobody to fight Bang-won.

He suggests that the king name Bang-seok crown prince before Bang-won reveals the letter, then use the letter to keep Lord Nam under control and exile Bang-won. King Taejo asks what he gets for all this, and Sun-ho tells him, “Me.” The king agrees, but he makes it clear that if the letter is ever revealed, their deal is off.

Sun-ho tells Hwi to cancel the original plan, which hinged on Bang-won giving the letter to his father. Sun-ho believes that instead, Bang-won would just hold it over King Taejo’s head and ditch Hwi, or kill him if he discovers he’s a spy.

Hwi says he doesn’t care since he’s dead either way, so Sun-ho asks him to trust him to take the letter to King Taejo and save Hwi and Yeon. But Hwi doesn’t buy it, calling Sun-ho a hypocrite who only wants to save himself and his family.

Hee-jae sits remembering her mother and wondering if she’s doing the right thing. Lady Seo joins her, and Hee-jae asks why she never told her that Lord Nam was responsible for her mother’s death. Lady Seo says that she lost her dearest friend that night, so she’s been determined to protect Hee-jae and not lose her, too.

Later, Hwi is ambushed and taken to Bang-won, who asks if Hwi is after him or Lord Nam. Hwi says that Lord Nam sent him to Liaodong and tried to have him killed, and that he needs Bang-won to get rid of him. He says that given a choice between him or Lord Nam, the king will choose Lord Nam, and Bang-won will end up dead.

Nothing is found at Lord Nam’s home, and the guard tells him that their orders were to turn things inside out — both the house, and him. When Lord Nam returns to court, he’s informed that the king has made a decision regarding the crown prince, and he wonders if he or Bang-won will be thrown away, or both of them.

At the palace, Bang-won greets his brother Bang-gan, who taunts Bang-won for the way he’s treating their father. Bang-won tells him to keep still and behave himself, and Bang-gan meekly backs down… for now.

As expected, King Taejo announces his intent to make Bang-seok the new crown prince, and says that until he’s officially crowned, all crimes except treason, conspiracy, and murder will be forgiven. In exchange, he orders all private armies disbanded.

Afterward, he speaks privately with Bang-won to ask how he can appease him. He offers Bang-won a commander’s position, but Bang-won sees that for the banishment it would be. He asks what he did so wrong, and King Taejo says that Bang-won destroys everything he has, so he’d do the same with the crown prince title. Bang-won yells that his father doesn’t know him at all, and that he won’t back down until he gets his due.

As he leaves, Bang-won runs into Queen Sindeok and Bang-seok. Bang-won kneels to whisper to Bang-seok that hiding behind his mother’s skirts won’t protect him from his enemies. Queen Sindeok tells him to enjoy the scenery at his new post, and Bang-won tells her to hold tight to the throne, because Bang-seok won’t be able to.

The queen summons Lord Nam and demands that he do something about Bang-won, but he says that they can’t be hasty. Queen Sindeok tells him that they need to act before Bang-won does, and that she’s willing to accept the consequences.

Bang-won talks with Hwi and asks him his motives, and Hwi says that he could have killed Bang-won many times over if he wanted him dead. He says that Bang-won can trust him and he’ll make sure he lives, but Bang-won points out that Hwi put him in danger in the first place and declines to put his life in Hwi’s hands.

An invitation arrives to Bang-seok’s crowning ceremony and Bang-won turns it down. Hwi says he should attend, and that he’ll lay out his plans for him in full so he can decide if he wants his help.

Hwi’s friends have been keeping an eye on Ganggae — Jang Beom especially. Moon-bok asks Jang Beom about Sam-rye, Jang Beom’s wife, and Jang Beom says she was beaten to death for defying their master when he tried to rape her. He says tearfully that they also had a small baby, who was killed for crying. Ganggae comes to and Jang Beom punches him until he passes out again.

Hee-jae tells Lady Seo that she wants to watch Lord Nam and kill him, but Lady Seo says that will take too long. She gives Hee-jae the keys to the room where she keeps her secrets locked up, on the condition that she protect Ihwaru. Hee-jae asks if Lady Seo is choosing her as her successor, and Lady Seo replies that Hee-jae is the only one who can do it.

She asks what Hee-jae will do in the aftermath of Bang-seok being announced as crown prince. Hee-jae states that chaos offers the opportunity to score information, so she’ll keep her head down and profit with minimal risk. Lady Seo grins and tells Hee-jae that this is why she chose her.

Bang-won arrives at Ihwaru with Hwi at his side, having been invited to a party where Lord Nam is holding court. One of Lord Nam’s followers taunts him that he’ll soon be banished far away to die. Lord Nam warns him to remember that Bang-won beat Po-eun to death, and the man pretends to be scared, making everyone laugh.

Bang-won gives Hwi a signal and Hwi grabs a sword, walks down the table, and swings at Lord Nam. Bang-won issues a command to stop at the last moment, and Hwi halts his sword and steps down. Lord Nam growls that Bang-won crossed a line, but Bang-won says that Lord Nam crossed it first.

While they’ve been inside, someone posted notices all over the walls of Ihwaru that condemn Lord Nam as a traitor. Bang-won reads aloud that on November 23, 1380, Lord Nam plotted treason and killed his comrades, and calls on the king to have him executed.

After Lord Nam leaves, Bang-won says to Hwi that without proof, these posters are just rumor. Hwi says that the proof and witness must be provided at the right time, so that the king sees it in front of everyone. Bang-won likes Hwi’s plan so much that he makes his decision to join with him.

Suspecting that Bang-won has the secret letter, Lord Nam summons Hwi. He asks if Hwi would have killed him if Bang-won hadn’t stopped him, and Hwi says that he knew Bang-won would stop him because he was testing him. Lord Nam offers his own test — for Hwi to kill Bang-won, tonight, because they’re all dead if Bang-won lives until morning (when he believes Bang-won will give the secret letter to the king).

He says it’s a suicide mission, but that Yeon will be saved. He gives Hwi poison to dip an arrow into, and tells him to make it look like an assassination. Hwi tells Lord Nam to keep his promise regarding Yeon, and Lord Nam says he will, but that someone will be watching Hwi.

Meanwhile, Yeon is beginning to experience some emerging memories of her old life, and in the middle of them is Hwi… her brother. She sobs with the horror of knowing who he truly is and that he’s been kept from her.

Tae-ryong did a background check on Hwi, and he reports to Bang-won that he has a sister, whom Lord Nam is holding hostage. This makes Bang-won suspect that Hwi might be working for Lord Nam, but Tae-ryong says that he needs to see something before going after Hwi.

They go to Hwi’s hideout, where Bang-won sees Hwi’s wall of targets with himself at the center, and he concludes that Hwi is working with Lord Nam to kill him. He tells Tae-ryong that he no longer cares what Hwi has planned — he wants him dead.

Chi-do runs to warn Hwi that Bang-won has seen their plans. Cheonga catches up to them, and Chi-do tells Hwi to run while he keeps Cheonga busy. He finds himself outnumbered when more men join Cheonga, but he doesn’t back down.

Sun-ho learns of Lord Nam’s orders for Hwi and why, but he yells at Lord Nam that he’s only made things worse.

Hwi rushes to Bang-won’s home and fights all the way to Bang-won, immobilizing (but not killing) his guards. He takes aim at Bang-won, who isn’t at all surprised to see him, and he snarls, “I’m here to kill you.” He shoots his arrow directly into Bang-won’s chest, then draws a second time, and fires.

 
COMMENTS

ARGH, Hwi, what are you doing?? I know he has a plan, he always has a plan with several back-up plans just in case, but he scares me so much. He takes so many chances and comes this close to death over and over again, and it’s going to give me a heart attack. I just can’t see how he’s going to go from the man who just shot Yi Bang-won point-blank in the chest, to the man that Bang-won won’t make a move without.

I’ve always seen Bang-won as a complex historical figure — ruthless and cold-blooded, even (600-year-old spoilers!) killing his own family to gain the throne, yet he did what he did for the good of the country. He truly was a better king than Taejo, bringing a lot of progress to the country, though the way he got there was truly horrific. But I like how My Country is portraying his actions as a necessary evil, a product of the times, and that Bang-won might have chosen different methods if he’d been given the choice (not to mention Jang Hyuk’s incredibly nuanced portrayal of the betrayed prince). His father used Bang-won’s willingness to get his hands dirty to get rid of his opposition, then cast him aside, selfishly naming his youngest son as crown prince to ensure his own longevity on the throne instead of giving it to his son who was the most deserving and capable of making the difficult decisions a king must make. You almost can’t blame Bang-won for what he does next, because he truly did earn that throne — and while I’m not condoning his future actions, I certainly can see why, again, he felt it was his only option.

As much as Hee-jae’s actions confound me, I still like her as a character, I just think she’s being underutilized. She’s smart and strong in her own right, without needing male protection or guidance, and I love that Hwi and his friends are fully aware of her capability. When she confronted Ganggae and almost killed him, not one of them tried to stop her, and they all looked more than a little in awe of her. I only wish that we got to see more of Hee-jae being a smart, wily spy, because it feels like everything important that she does happens off-screen, so that all we get to see of her is either pining for Hwi or missing her mother. But my main complaint about Hee-jae is that I think Seolhyun was slightly miscast — she’s a decent actress and she’s playing Hee-jae just fine as written, but there’s a soft quality to her that doesn’t quite fit with the character we’re told she is. Just think how badass Hee-jae could have been if we got to actually see her maneuvering things from the sidelines, and if she’d been played by an actress with a more steely quality… say, Nam Ji-hyun or Kim Ji-won.

I think it was a stroke of genius for My Country to show the viewers the future stand-off between Hwi and Sun-ho before anything else. Seeing it without context gave the impression that Hwi and Sun-ho were mortal enemies on opposite sides of a deadly conflict, which was, and is, true, but it’s also much more complex than that. Each episode since then has added nuance and meaning to their characters and their relationship with each other, and every every piece of information we’re given makes me see that scene in a different way. Are they still working together at that point, or have they truly chosen sides and are trying to kill one another? Is Hwi genuinely loyal to Bang-won, or is he still working with Sun-ho, and their confrontation is all part of the show? I can’t wait to find out what the true meaning of that scene will be once we catch up in time, and learn whether the two former friends will manage to survive or if they’ll destroy each other.

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DAMN,this is immoral,to expect us to wait for the next episode after that freaking cliffhanger!!!!

I'm quite sure that Hwi double plotted with Bang Won to cross Nam Jeon and go all out with the assassination as part of the show and out Nam Jeon in front of The King for trying to kill a royal and forcing him to loose his status,position and grace as his trusted man and so choosing Bang Won...Hwi clearly shot all of Bang Won's guards as well as Tae Ryong on their sholders or points that didn't kill them and Tae Ryong obviously for one of the greatest swordsmen of that time backed out with just one arrow...I think Hwi clearly expected Nam Jeon would try to get rid of Bang Won after the poster with the info is out in the air and he thinks Bang Won is the one who did it and has the secret letter so more than sure after Bang Won also knew about all Hwi backstory accepted Hwi's devised assassination plan getting rid of him as Nam Jeon wanted and making the King loose a man who would help him...So at that moment both Hwi and Bang Won choose each other no matter the ulterior reasons(Hwi keeping&saving Yeon and maybe his life and Bang Won his position and getting rid of a thorn weakening his father's position,warn the other high ups and a valuable possible new comrade) as they had more in common than against while Nam Jeon failed to see that he gave Hwi the perfect person to ally with and for all his big talk failed to read him,actually underestimating Hwi and that will ultimately be his downfall...Something that i hint Sun Ho could see...
My heart really ached for Jeom Beom's story,such a sad one and he is just one of many who suffered in that period...I actually expected and kinda wanted for Hae Jae to tell Hwi that his father saved her when she was small,it would have been an even greater emotional moment....Now,i love badass Hwi,that scene at the party when he went after Nam Jeon with that sword looked sooo freaking badass!!!!

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Hwi should really stop giving me heart attack! Every time he does something dangerous, I need to remind myself that he'll survive because we saw him there at episode 1.

Bang Won and his fan scare the heck out of me. My heart goes to little Bang Seok. That poor little boy!

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I'm actually quite infatuated with his fan collection even more when they look(in the drama at least) sooo well crafter and don't get damaged when he openes them with his power every time jajjaj,i sooooo want one!!!

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Haha. Welcome to the fan club? 😉

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Damn yeah,if someone asks me i'll let them know i'm infatuated with the Fan of Change!!!

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Well actually he did damaged his fan, as we see in this BTS, so he got a new black one the next episode haha
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRHZbKTQfM0&t=72s

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Oooo.... Nice tidbit. I was wondering why he got new fan. But the timing works out perfectly with the 6 years time jump. LOL.

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Thank you for the BTS link, @prettysup.

I didn't realize Bang-won had finally busted his fan. When I saw the black one, I thought it was a new color-coded Kdrama trope, like the Tonsorial Indicator Of Evil (bangs up off the brow = evil). LOL!

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How the man with a mere fan can be so threatening? Tsk tsk tsk (insert Bang Won voice). My love for Hyukie up to another level in this. He made a fan a household name. Haha. Just a tiny prop with a flip of hand make him really mesmerizing. His every scene is powerful and intense. What is after this Hyukie? A book like John Wick. Lol

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I think because we know what happened from history, so his threat wasn't just empty words (unlike the other threat made in this drama). Of course, it's also Jang Hyuk.

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Also makes me root his journey knowing well he will win and because i truly despise Nam Jeon and want him crushed slowely and painfully(even if logic tells me to kill him fast as he is way to dangerous let free after)

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"(unlike the other threat made in this drama)"

Lol right?

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This drama is about five men dancing a deadly dance: terrifying and compelling at the same time.

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Perhaps we should change the title to Five Deadly Dancers? 😁😁😁

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Or The Man with the Fan?

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With 4 back up dancers?

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Oof I agree so much with the Heejae comment and how they don't really give the spotlight to Heejae when she actually does something tricky in these whole mess. It seems like all she does is cuHRyInG.

But I have to pick different side on the Seolhyun comment..... I have been very skeptical about her acting ever since Orange Marmalade (*SIGH*), but on this one... I love her and her character so much (and the way she plays her character). I got the softness she's radiating when we're all supposed to believe Heejae kicks ass and choke throats but that's exactly what I love about her. The quite balance of her being a person by being a softball and her being tough as one of the sides in this messy game.

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This should have been Hee-jae's episode as she finally found the guy who killed her mother.
I don't give a crap who give the order, he made a choice to kill her so he is guilty nonetheless but she was being denied after working all these years to find him.
I doubt she'll be given a chance to kill Lord Nam herself.

I know that revenge won't bring her mother back but at least a bit of justice is better than nothing.

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While I would agree that it would be satisfying to see HeeJae accomplish what she set out to do (after all, this is a tv drama and Ganggae is just as liable for killing her mom), I think the drama might be going for a different direction than what it intends to show. Somehow, I think they are taking a more humanistic approach especially for our fictional characters where they are given a choice to do the right thing. I agree revenge won’t bring her mother back. But serving that justice by having blood on their hands probably not a good idea either.

In the overall context, I’m trying to understand the psychological impact of all these deaths and killings must have on an individual. I recall a scene where Hwi was shaken quite a bit and HeeJae having witnessed him kill Gen Jang. And he didn’t want her to see him in that state.

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I do get your point on how she doesn't get to do the revenge she had thought about her whole life but I don't think Hwi stopped her from killing Ganggae because anything else but to avoid getting her hands dirty. He really looked like he would let her do almost anything to gang gae but not killing him because he knew the feeling of murdering someone.

Also yes, maybe not directly killing Lord Nam but I hope that the show somehow give her a huge and crucial contribution on taking Lord Nam down

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For the first time in this Show, I felt the episode was just meh 😕 I FF a bit while watching and zoned out a bit while reading the recap (it’s certainly not your fault, @lollypip 🥰🥰🥰 I love you and your work here at Dramabeans!!!).

Hee Jae got what she wanted in being named successor of Ilhwaru & more info about the death of her mother & the ones responsible for it— yea, Sun Ho, the poor guy, never had a chance T...T
Speaking of, I don’t know if Sun Ho knows if he has anything or anyone to live for anymore. I hope to God he doesn’t turn self-destructive 😰😰
Hwi...... sigh

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I don't think they'll go the self-destructive route with Sun Ho. I think he's more like Bang Won, in the sense that he had no choice but to fight for himself and trampled on other people on his way up. This is not a time and place to play nice.

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Hopefully this will stand true!! 🤞🏻🤞🏻

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Sun-ho becoming one of those driven people who only live for vengeance, is one possibility.

Hope he joins hands with Hwi on that road rather than traveling it alone.

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There’s a thought 💭

I really hope so, tooooooo omg 😰😰

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So sad that the show has not shown much of the interesting interaction between Seon Ho and Yeon. It would have been more poignant and would lend more reason for Seon Ho's loss and desperation. His character has become similar to Darth Vader.

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Yea, the writers basically made her to be the point as to why everyone is at a crossroads with each other (or else she dies), but the actual interactions between all the characters is definitely lacking 😰😰😰

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I think the show trusts its audience to make informed conclusions without going into detailed backstory for each character. Or they could insert specific backstory into each episode as the story progresses as they have done for SunHo, Hwi and HuiJae. I do feel it is moving at a fast pace. If they go by 16 eps, we are now at the halfway point. After the next two episodes, I’m wondering what they still have in store to keep the story interesting.

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It’s definitely a show that is written in a way that is heavily dependent on the audience making our own assumptions, which is good and fine, but I just feel that Yeon’s character is underutilized :(

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Cleverly written and brightly executed brief backstories could very well enhance one's appreciation of a drama. It is particularly true when fictional characters introduced in a heavily historical context. "Happiness is not a station you arrive at. It's the manner of traveling." Oh I am having the time of my life with this show. 👍

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There is discussion under other threads that this drama originally was 20 episodes, not 16. Missing 4 episodes would explain a lot of gaps in the stories of the characters.

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@hebang Wouldn’t you know if this was a pre-produced drama?? If this drama was pre-produced and filmed to be intended for 20 episodes but then edited to be 16 episodes for broadcast, then yes, just like you say, it would explain a lot of the gaps in the story and of our beloved characters

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@bebeswtz. If the discussion of episode count being cut from 20 to 16 is true, it could have happened at any time. But the fact that some sites carried 20 even after it started airing seems to point to a late decision rather than an early one. If by chance unaired but filmed scenes exist, I can only hope they will be released in a director’s cut version to the streaming services.

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@hebang That's very try :\

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*true

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@bebeswtz Filming started in March but they still aren't finished, apparently, so it's not completely pre-produced. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the reason for the episode reduction. It seems like it would have been difficult to finish 20 episodes in time and that's with a month delay because of Be Melodramatic reshoots.

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@bebeswtz This was supposed to be a pre-produced drama, in fact they started shooting long way back in March. However what I couldn't understand is their slow pace coz now they have not even finished filming! So it has since become a live-filmed drama.

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@missh @prettysup

That’s what I thought— that it would be a half pre-produced drama if not fully pre-produced 👌🏻👌🏻

It’s difficult to say what is the cause for delay and making a drama that was originally planned to be fully pre-produced, to now—7 months later— to still be in production and has now gone into live-shooting status 🤔🤔🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ And then you have dramas like “Vegabond” that, sure, is fully pre-produced, but was plagued with filming and behind-the-scenes problems (that probs could be the plot for a drama itself) that the broadcast was delayed for an entire year and almost also reached into “intended pre-production but ends up being in live-shoots” status as well 😥😥😥 And then you have total pre-production train wrecks that don’t even finish filming, like Park Hae Jin’s “Four Men” 😱😱😱😱

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It is so difficult to contain from commenting when one is so enthusiastic to do so after watching epi 10. Thanks for your insightful recaps @lollypip. It makes us more appreciative of the engaging story-telling and the awesome talents of the actors. I agree with you about the miscasting of Seolhyun. She has not, at any instance, matched the intensity of the acting of the other lead stars, and moreso, not even the support characters. I tend, therefore, to believe one other commenter in the previous thread who said that she (being an idol star) was cast to lend international saleability.

I will say, at this point, that the show is totally owned by Jang Hyuk - his character, his fan, his words. Bang Won is the only character who can say with much conviction, the right to utter the words "my country". He alone, as the story is being told, has that overwhelming and rather selfless desire to make Joseon great. All the other characters are propelled by their own personal reasons.

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I agree with you & @lollypip. I hope they cast an actress that can match the actors' intensity. Nam Ji-hyun or Kim Ji-won would have been perfect.

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I really thought the end scene was a dream sequence—I really did. The white robes that Bang-won wears just waiting for Hwi to slaughter him. I thought it was actually Bang-won’s dream and that the robes symbolized his purest desires, but Hwi’s arrows piercing the robes and the crimson blood stains that resulted symbolizes the hate, strife, and death that can result even when you start out wanting something pure and then you have to kill your enemies, deceive your friends, and lie to your loved ones to get there. It was a good episode. But better is coming!

And I actually like Seolhyun I’m this role too. She’s doing good enough I feel. She’s so pretty and I think that distracts me from her acting, but I do believe her when Hee-Jae shows her unconditional love to Hwi. She’s not the strongest relationship here though. It’s really about the boys and also about their fight to keep Yeon alive.

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Maybe it is her youth and inexperience being an idol, or just because the other actors are oozing with talent that I feel she does not measure up to her character or the overall tone of the show. Or perhaps it is the way the director handles her emotional scenes... I do not know. I just see some inconsistencies or a non-existent method of acting in her; no range and no depth; no connection with the character; it's not even in her eyes.

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I agree. I do think Seolhyun does a much better job here compared to the other dramas I've seen her in, but she is not pulling the weight here.

Like her scene with Ganggae, I honestly did not know what she's trying to potrayed until I read this recap. At least that is consistent with her character all-about-Hwi-ness.

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At that time, I thought it was a dream too

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I thought lhey, something is off” when I saw how carefully Hwi was shooting the guards, and I knew something was off when I saw BW just sitting there waiting for his assassination. I just couldn’t believe BW would just sit there waiting to be killed.

But your dream sequence, as you explained it, is aanother wonderful take on the scene.

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I was sure it was all a farce until he shot Bang Won and I saw blood spurting out, so I figured Hwi was following Nam's orders after all. I screamed at my screen "You're kidding me Hwi, this is not supposed to happen!!" They really got me with that cliffhanger. 😂

More on this in next recaps.

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Bang Won is scarily hot. Or is that Jang Hyuk who's hot and Bang Won scary. Lol. As for female lead I alredy lost her purpose in the drama. From the beginning the tragic love story is between Hwi and Sun Ho.

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Can I just say how much I loved badass Hwi at the celebratory dinner??! That was so out of character for him but so fitting for the transformation that he is going through.

The finale cliffhanger was so well executed. I applaud the writer for always keeping me guessing and second guessing each character’s every move. This is what keeps me anticipating each episode week after week. I can’t wait till we get to the showdown that started in the beginning. I feel that this is when I’ll start to really get scared for the consequences of their actions and actually fear for their lives.

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I still can't bring myself to watch the next episodes. I am actually fine with the actress playing Hee Jae. But I do wish like others that we were shown more about her. But I liked seeing her be a badass while confronting Ganggae. I almost expected that would kill him. And while I absolutely love it when Bang Won takes out his fan, I couldn't help but be creeped out during the scene with Bang Seok, made worse by what I know will happen. And Hwi, I enjoy seeing him being more and more badass. I can't wait to find out when and how Bang Won starts to trust him. This show is determined to make me feel more and more bad for Sun Ho. Yeon being afraid of him, ouch. I keep on guessing each characters motives and how they are going to act and frankly it's a little tiring. But I wait anxiously for each episode while at the same time dreading them.

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Also now I think it would be better if the number of episodes were not shortened from 20 to 16. Maybe then would have seen better the development of the characters.

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I too would have preferred a longer drama to fill us in on character development and political context.

I trust the team will not pull a Season 2 stunt on us. Bang Won won't let them leave his story unfinished anyway.

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I'd love to see Jang Hyuk play King Sejong in a different drama.
That short scene with his daughter was really sweet so I'd love to see more of his softer side and Sejong has all that and more.

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Yeah, people keep saying that Hwi has swagger and plan for everything when I continue to see that is has just been lucky and is just reckless. This is not reading of someone who thinks of the long game and is gonna get someone hurt or worst.

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Well, Hwi's got plans, as seen by his wall of evidence. He's just not into playing long game and isn't apt in palace politics like Bang Won or Nam Jeon, or even Sun Ho. And he is more press on time because Yeon was held hostage. He is also willing to take risks on his life when trying to take shortcuts and that is the source of my heart attack.

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First of all, THANK YOU for the review @lollypip. And as you've (very well) remarked at the end of the comments (and I am gonna quote you) I also think it was a nice trick to show us tha future scene between the two formerly friends (??) before anything else, without giving us any kind of context.
So, the main questions @lollypip wrote remain:
"Are they still working together at that point, or have they truly chosen sides and are trying to kill one another? Is Hwi genuinely loyal to Bang-won, or is he still working with Sun-ho, and their confrontation is all part of the show?"
I, like most of us I guess, can't wait to find those answers. And I would be lying if I'd said I wish they are still friends at that point (but it's gonna be something very much impossible,so I really think Hwi's alliance and commitment to Bang Won will be actually the reality).

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I still do not get what is the use of Hee Jae's character.
also
That ending had me screaming!

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Part 1 of 3

Thank you for your recap of ep. 8, @lollypip.

What a scene between Bang-won and Taejo after the selection of Bang-seok as wangseja is announced. The hurt in #5’s eyes at having been compelled to do his imperious ingrate of a father’s dirty work (e.g., killing revered Goryeo loyalist Po-eun) – and then being excoriated for it – is riveting. To add insult to injury, the king orders the dissolution of private armies, and then disingenuously offers him a commission all the way down south in Jeolla Province. I’m betting it’s the Queen’s idea.

Bang-won is getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment [“I don’t get no respect”] from everyone. Lord Nam is an obnoxious jerk at the dinner he’s hosting at Ihwaru. That nasty crack by the Fifth Royal Secretary to provide Bang-won with a feng shui expert – to pick a propitious site for his grave in the boondocks of Jeollado – is just asking for it. So how satisfying is it to see Hwi stride down the length of the table, sword in hand, to nearly shish-kebab Lord Nam?! But what’s even better is the look on Nam’s face when he sees the petitions to the Crown for his execution plastered all over the walls outside Ihwaru’s gate. I love how Hwi is stampeding him into taking another treasonous step by ordering Bang-won’s assassination. He’s playing Nam like a fiddle.

I loved watching Lord Nam freak out at the start of the episode when he saw the wording of his conspiracy pact posted on his home’s front gate. It was a canny move on Hwi’s part because it drove an even more urgent wedge between Sun-ho and his father. It is no longer merely a matter of the son seeking to avenge his mother, but now a desperate struggle for him to avoid execution as the son of a 24-karat traitor. I cannot believe that Hwi would place his old buddy in such a position without having a plan to save him, or giving him some wiggle room. I think he’s punting the same way that Sun-ho did when he sent Hwi off to Liaodong. It was the best strategy he could come up with to save his friend from certain death, and at least gave him a fighting chance. Now it appears that Hwi is returning the favor, and making Sun-ho put on his thinking cap to devise a plan to align himself firmly with King Taejo.

Hwi doesn’t bat an eyelash as he lies through his teeth to Lord Nam that Bang-won had ordered him to fire the arrows and message into Taejo’s target at the royal archery range. Nam has no way of knowing if he is telling the truth, and cannot afford to kill Hwi in cold blood because he won’t be able to place anyone in such close proximity to Bang-won on short notice. What a stroke of genius.

- Continued -

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Part 2 of 3

Sun-ho is no slouch, and through process of elimination deduces that Hwi has the letter. He takes the bull by the horns and directly appeals to Taejo to spare him and his father – while offering solutions to the king’s pressing issues with Bang-won (send him away from the capital) and his traitorous father (give him ammunition to keep Lord Nam firmly under the Royal Thumb). He throws himself into the bargain as a replacement minion who is willing to do the Royal Dirty Work that had been the purview of #5 and Lord Nam. Taejo says the deal is off if the secret letter is disclosed. (Man, is he cagey. Anything to give himself an out.) I did not understand that stipulation until after the showdown with Lord Nam at Ihwaru, when Hwi tells Bang-won that the conspirators’ letter and the witness have to be revealed in front of the court so Taejo cannot bury it. From what I gather, Sun-ho’s hope of survival is going to be dashed.

I felt bad for Sun-ho when Hee-jae slaps him and accuses him of holding Yeon hostage, and sending Hwi off to Liaodong. She should get an Olympic medal for jumping to conclusions. It really ruffles my tail feathers that she refuses to see how his hands have been tied by his monstrous father. She has already prejudged him, and is not open to receiving new information – which I consider a failing in an intelligence analyst/broker. Then again, she doesn’t know about his mother’s demise – any more than he is privy to her mother’s murder at Lord Nam’s behest. She has kept Hwi in the dark about her knowing his father, too. Too bad these people never talk turkey when they have the chance.

That scene between the king and queen is very telling. Her desperation over Bang-seok’s still-pending selection as wangseja is palpable. She is also frustrated to bits that Sun-ho has been busted down to a 9th-rank former inspector (hence he will not be able to do much to protect her sons?), and that Taejo is threatening Lord Nam while Bang-won continues to do as he pleases. She tells him that as a mother, she will do whatever it takes to protect her son. Them’s fightin’ words. – Taejo comes off as an arrogant jerk in this scene. Why does he drag his feet when it comes to Bang-seok’s installation? Is he unable to make a decision, or does he just get his royal jollies by stirring the pot and getting the entire court in a swivet? In that respect, he reminds me of Taejo Wang Geon, founder of Goryeo, who got his kicks pitting his offspring against each other in MOON LOVERS. If this is how he treats the woman he allegedly loves more than his first wife, then no wonder Bang-won hates his father. Dear ol’ Dad is coming across as an insecure, greedy powermonger.

Bang-gan Daegun is such a wiseguy towards Bang-won, I don’t know what to make of him. I’m not convinced he can be trusted.

- Continued -

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Part 3 of 3

What makes Ganggae think that his witnessing Lord Nam kill his co-conspirators against Yi Seong-gye back in 1380 is going to keep him safe from someone that ruthless? Shoot, being a witness is tantamount to having a bull’s-eye painted on his chest! I don’t understand the man’s logic. Perhaps that is why he is one of Bang-won’s third-stringers.

Bang-won is so cagey and has so carefully vetted his troops that it’s ominous when Lord Nam tells Hwi that he will have eyes on his assassination of Bang-won. Does that mean Bang-won’s HQ security has been breached? Or is #5 only letting Lord Nam think that he has successfully planted a mole?

Like @lollypip, I have been enjoying parsing the relationship between Hwi and Sun-ho that we saw in the opening scene of the show. I have been listening to all of their conversations with an ear toward nuance and alternate interpretations, as well as what is left unsaid. We still don’t know what prompted Sun-ho to go out on a limb and help bury Seo Geom in the first place. Their friendship started with that incident, and I would love to learn Sun-ho’s motivation.

I’m not all that keen on the romance between Hee-jae and Hwi. If anything, she’s just one more vulnerability for Lord Nam to exploit against him, although Ihwaru’s resources may protect her against his machinations. Even so, it still feels like a distraction when there are so many other more pressing issues. (I feel sorry for Gyeol, who has got to be the most underutilized bodyguard in all the sageuks I’ve seen to date. When is he going to be useful as well as ornamental?)

I’m way more invested in the bromance that may or may not be as broken as it appears – and the continued well-being of the Liaodong Survivors and Yeon, who has now regained her memories. I truly hope that Hwi and Sun-ho’s covert attempts to bring down Lord Nam succeed, and that they are not really acting at cross-purposes – although Hwi has already thwarted his frenemy’s career. I can’t help but think that was to provide a cloak of convincing enmity to mislead Lord Nam. Although Bang-won has stated that yangban bastards will have no place in his regime, my fingers are firmly crossed that Hwi will somehow find a way for his brother by another mother to find his place in the new dynasty, or at the very least, survive despite being related to treasonous Lord Nam.

I expect that Seo Geom’s trumped-up conviction will be overturned and his children’s status will be restored. (Was General Seo a yangban himself? It wasn’t clear to me whether he was, but he lived in such a modest house and gave away all his rice to his starving troops, so I guess he wasn’t an aristocrat.)

-30-

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This King Taejo is rather heartless but I can't really blame him for Bang-won's role in Poeun's death. He didn't ask him to kill Poeun but I will blame him for establishing a new country and ascending the throne while resenting his son who made it possible. It's hypocritical of him imo.
If Bang-won's sin was unforgivable then he should've given Goryeo back to King Gongyang and Mogeun. That's why Poeun died, to save Goryeo.

I understand why some Koreans still refer to Yi Seong-gye as a traitor.

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@kiara,
Amen and amen! Yes, it's Taejo's hypocrisy that drives me bonkers. He is the one who has benefited the most from Bang-won's unbridled support, yet he is unwilling to acknowledge the very contributions that ensured the success of his treasonous d'état. While he may not have directly ordered Bang-won to kill Po-eun, the king is a master of inference and innuendo who emits an imperious vibe of "I double-dare you to read my mind and consider it a royal command."

As he is portrayed in this drama, Taejo comes across as a politician who swaddles himself in plausible deniability, just like Lord Nam. Bang-won doesn't mince words. He lets his rivals know where they stand. I must admit that it's creepy to watch him terrorizing poor little Bang-seok, who is a pint-sized pawn of both his mother and father. I blame the king for dooming his youngest son to a violent and premature death -- all because of his own vanity and greed.

Did I read somewhere that Po-eun was going to counter-attack Yi Seong-gye if Bang-won hadn't struck him down preemptively? Or was that Sambong? -- Bang-won was enough of a strategist to see that if his father did not consolidate his grasp on the throne, their branch of the Yi family would be extirpated for treason. But if Dad didn't want to get his hands dirty, someone had to do it, and Bang-won was the one with the chops.

If Bang-won's sin was unforgivable then he should've given Goryeo back to King Gongyang and Mogeun. That's why Poeun died, to save Goryeo.

I can't agree more! -- And it's why Choi Young died, too. I'm a sentimental fool for Lee Min-ho in FAITH, and am just glad we didn't have to watch the general buy the farm.

I can easily see how some folks down to this day would consider Yi Seong-gye's overthrow of Goryeo to be treasonous. One could say the same thing about the American Revolution / War of Independence. The colonial insurrectionist leaders were acutely aware that if they lost the war, they would all be hanged, drawn, and quartered for treason. Ben Franklin put it succinctly:
“Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

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@pakalanapikake

Yes Poeun's loyalty was with Goryeo only so he convinced the king to have Sambong executed for treason. He was right anyways since planning to overthrow Goryeo was high treason.
Yi Seong-gye would have been next in line.

The reason why they were on the same side in the beginning was because of their commitment to protect the country but after Yi Seong-gye's withdrawal from Wihwa Island, Poeun finally realized that Sambong and Yi Seong-gye had their own plans.

Poeun and Yi Seong-gye had a 40yr friendship irrc. Sambong was a lower class but he was also a student of Mogeun (Yi Saek) together with Poeun so they knew each other as school mates. They met again when Poeun was getting ready to go on one of his diplomatic missions. Sambong's job back then includes providing travel logs for diplomats like Poeun and greetings of foreign envoys.
(Remember that part from SFD when he was singing Mu-Yi-Yi-Ya?) Still love it after all these years.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmasA7N2BAc

It seems to be a waste of Sambong's talents right?
Who knows, Goryeo may have been rebuilt to it's glory days if only they work together.

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I agree with @lollypip that Seolhyun is miscast as Hee-jae. She’s surrounded by top-notch eye actors, which often makes her gazes seem blank or tentative in comparison. I realize that young actors have to start somewhere. If anything, MY COUNTRY is a total-immersion master class with incredibly accomplished veterans.

As for alternate casting for Hee-jae, Ryu Hyo-young (usurper Lee Kang’s scheming wife, Yoon Na-gyeom) or Son Ji-hyun (my favorite gutsy Jurchen Warrior Princess (TM), Roo Shi-gae!), both from GRAND PRINCE, would have been dandy in the role. Plus Woo Do-hwan would have gotten to act with the identical twin sister of his love interest in MAD DOG, Ryu Hwa-young. Another possibility: Chae Soo-bin, who exquisitely portrayed Song Ga-ryung, Hong Gil-dong’s sweet-but-steely true love, in REBEL: THIEF WHO STOLE THE PEOPLE.

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