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94

My Country: The New Age: Episode 9

It’s finally time for our hero to put his final plan into motion — the real scheme he’s been working towards for years. Everything falls perfectly into place, and he finally gets a chance to relax and enjoy his revenge. But for once he hasn’t accounted for every eventuality, and when things go horribly wrong, his life is changed in permanent, tragic ways that will affect everything he does from now on.

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

Lord Nam orders Hwi to kill Bang-won, and that night, Hwi breaks into Bang-won’s home and shoots him point-blank in the chest. He shoots Bang-won a second time, and Bang-won simply sits there, staring at Hwi while Tae-ryong screams for the doctor.

Having heard about the plan from his father, Sun-ho shows up moments too late. He can only watch as Tae-ryong slashes at Hwi with his sword, and he tries to fight his way to Hwi, but Bang-won’s men hold him back. Tae-ryong tells Sun-ho that he saw nothing, and that he’ll die if any rumors are spread.

Sun-ho and Hwi are bound and thrown into a cell, and Sun-ho gasps, “Why choose this obvious path to death instead of choosing to live?”

One of Bang-won’s men is a spy for Lord Nam, and he reports that Bang-won is in critical condition after an assassination attempt, and that both the assassin and Sun-ho have been captured for later questioning. As soon as Lord Nam has the information, he has the spy killed.

He goes to Bang-won’s home and demands to see him, but Tae-ryong claims that nothing happened tonight. Lord Nam threatens to kill Tae-ryong, so he’s allowed into the house, where he sees the blood splatters. He locates Bang-won, who’s lying unconscious, and the physician tells Lord Nam that there’s poison spreading throughout Bang-won’s body. After dismissing the physician, Lord Nam gloats that Bang-won doesn’t seem so powerful now.

He grabs Bang-won by the throat and Bang-won wakes, and Lord Nam whispers that the secret letter will be gone for good once Bang-won is dead. He growls that he’s struggled his whole life for the privileges Bang-won was born to, but Bang-won just curls his lip at him derisively. Lord Nam lets go, saying that history will hate Bang-won for killing Po-eun and laugh at him for getting killed by one of his own men. He vows to make sure the crown prince is under his thumb and become the real power behind the throne.

Hwi finally rouses, just as Lord Nam comes to have Sun-ho released. Sun-ho demands to know what Lord Nam is planning, but Lord Nam says that he already knows, and Sun-ho screams in desperation as he’s carried out. Lord Nam sneers that Hwi was a good dog but he didn’t bite hard enough, and Hwi says that he’ll never give Lord Nam’s name, but Lord Nam doesn’t trust him.

He pulls out a dagger, but instead of killing Hwi, he cuts the ropes tying him up and tells him to take his own life. Hwi picks up the dagger, and he’s reminded that his father made this same choice, to save him and Yeon.

Looking up at Lord Nam, Hwi asks if he did this to his father, but Lord Nam only says that Hwi wouldn’t believe him if he denied it. Hwi makes Lord Nam promise to care for Yeon, then plunges the dagger into his own belly. He falls to the floor, and Lord Nam nods in satisfaction.

Sun-ho can see his friend’s body, and his father tells him to blame him like always, “After all, that is what you’re best at.” Sun-ho tries to crawl to Hwi, but a guard knocks him unconscious. Lord Nam issues an order: after he leaves for the palace tomorrow, Yeon is to be killed.

He goes back to Tae-ryong and says that he’ll tell the king that a soldier revolted and killed Bang-won. Tae-ryong points out that Bang-won isn’t dead, but Lord Nam just asks if that will still be true tomorrow.

Tae-ryong carries Hwi’s body into the house and confirms that he’s alive – because he’s wearing chest armor. Bang-won walks into the room, perfectly fine, as Hwi struggles to sit up. We see that after Lord Nam gave Hwi the poison to kill Bang-won, Hwi had planned to take the secret letter to Bang-won, but he’d learned that Bang-won saw their hideout and knows that Hwi is a spy.

He’d gone to the hideout and confessed to Bang-won that he’s Lord Nam’s spy, but that Bang-won is not his true target. He’d shown Bang-won the secret letter and told him that his goal has always and only been to take down Lord Nam. Bang-won had asked how he can trust Hwi, and had handed him his sword, which Hwi had thrown to the ground.

Bang-won asked Hwi why he wants to side with him, and why now. Hwi said that only Bang-won can get the secret letter to the king, and that he had to wait until Lord Nam ordered him to kill Bang-won so that he can report that order to King Taejo. That way they have proof that Lord Nam tried to kill both King Taejo and Bang-won, and Lord Nam is sure to be punished.

Now Bang-won confronts Hwi and asks why his arrows pierced his chest armor. Hwi says that Lord Nam wouldn’t have been fooled unless Bang-won was truly shot, which is why he had Bang-won drink Moon-bok’s paralyzing medicine. Moon-bok shows up to patch up Hwi’s stab wound, which he purposely positioned to miss any vital spots, grumbling that he’s mad at him, awww.

Hwi pulls out the dagger, and Moon-bok notes that it’s already getting infected. Hwi says that it won’t kill him, since he’d have been dead ages ago if he were meant to die. But Chi-do says that injured men on the battlefield still try to draw their swords even if they’ve lost their arms, and he tells Hwi that this is his battleground, and that he doesn’t understand that he’s “lost his arms.”

Hwi says that when he stabbed himself, he was terrified that he might actually die and never see Yeon again. He knows now how scared his father must have been to leave his children behind, and it breaks his heart.

Sun-ho wakes with a start, back in his bed at home. He recalls hearing his father order his men to kill Yeon, so he grabs his sword and hurries to find her. She’s under guard but he’s allowed a few minutes to talk to her, but once they’re alone, he’s too choked up to produce any words.

Since he’s there, Yeon asks him to save her brother, revealing that she’s regained her memories. Sun-ho asks who else knows and she says he’s the only one, so he urges her not to tell anyone. He promises to save her, but Yeon surprises Sun-ho by drawing his sword and holding it to her own throat.

She says that if she’s dead, Hwi can live, but Sun-ho stops her at the last second. He starts to say that (he believes) Hwi is already dead, but his arm is cut by the sword when Yeon flings it away. He begs her to leave with him when Lord Nam goes to the palace tomorrow.

In the morning, Hee-jae receives information that Bang-won is alive after the so-called assassination attempt. She deduces that Hwi plans to take care of Lord Nam and save Yeon, and wonders if Hwi and Bang-won are working together. She orders Gyeol to watch Bang-won’s home to see if a body is carried out, and to send a spy with a physician to find out exactly what’s happening.

She’s summoned to the palace by Queen Sindeok, and she congratulates her on Bang-seok being chosen as crown prince. Queen Sindeok says that she needs to protect this achievement but she’s not allowed to leave the Queen’s Palace, so she wants to use Ihwaru.

With Lady Seo so ill, the queen wants Hee-jae to take over Ihwaru then give it to her. Hee-jae bristles, pointing out that Lady Seo is still alive and that Ihwaru doesn’t take sides. Queen Sindeok says that this is a war and Hee-jae won’t be able to remain neutral, but Hee-jae advises her to be patient. Queen Sindeok tells Hee-jae that Bang-won will kill Lord Nam, and that Hee-jae may watch, but she will fight.

Hee-jae holds firm that Ihwaru remains neutral no matter who is in charge. The queen asks if this is how Hee-jae repays her kindness for taking her under her protection, but Hee-jae respectfully reminds her that she’s put her life on the line already to repay that kindness. She advises Queen Sindeok to be sure and kill Bang-won, because if she fails, she’ll face death.

Queen Sindeok accuses Hee-jae of deserting her and asks what she’ll do without her backing, Hee-jae says that she plans to make sure nobody messes with Ihwaru, making it sound like a warning.

Bang-won tells Hwi that while his father was off fighting in wars, his mother took care of the family by herself. Unfortunately she died before the new kingdom was founded, and he’s bitter that Lord Nam and Queen Sindeok pressured King Taejo to deny her the posthumous title of queen.

Hwi asks why Bang-won spared his life when he learned he’s a spy. Bang-won says thoughtfully, “Because you remind me of someone I know,” but he doesn’t say who it is.

Hee-jae informs Lady Seo that she’s decided to take her up on the offer to run Ihwaru, and names herself Madame Han. Lady Seo takes her to the locked room of secrets, and she tells Hee-jae that it contains information that could ruin entire families. She warns Hee-jae not to use the secrets incorrectly or she could be the one harmed.

She correctly guesses that Hee-jae plans to go after Lord Nam. Hee-jae says that she’ll start with those loyal to him, then when Lord Nam is alone with no support, “I will make a mockery of him, and kill him.”

In her last act as lady of Ihwaru, Lady Seo has her employees send out copies of the secret letter to Lord Nam’s supporters, who are horrified. They gather to discuss this, and they decide that he’s becoming a problem, and they’re not willing to die for him.

Hwi goes over the last step in his plans with his friends, who fuss at him for being so negative and cynical. He asks them to rescue Yeon if anything happens to him, and they easily agree.

Lord Nam heads to the palace for Bang-seok’s coronation, giving his man a meaningful nod before he goes. Yeon hears fighting outside her door, and she finds Sun-ho standing over her now-dead guards. They literally run for their lives, but Lord Nam’s men soon catch up and corner them.

Sun-ho fights them until he injures his hand and drops his sword, and Yeon sobs that she’s the one they’re after. She turns to face their attackers and one raises his sword, and Sun-ho whirls Yeon around to cover her protectively.

Suddenly Chi-do, Moon-bok, and Jang Beom swoop in and surround Sun-ho and Yeon, and Moon-bok offers Yeon the cutest hello. Jang Beom tells her to close her eyes because they’re pissed and this is gonna get ugly, and it takes them about ten seconds total to dispatch the rest of the men.

They tell Yeon that they’re going to take her to Hwi, and both Yeon and Sun-ho burst into tears to hear that Hwi is alive. It looks like it kills Sun-ho to hand Yeon over to them, and she asks if he’ll be okay, but he gives her his bravest smile and promises to stay safe.

King Taejo isn’t happy that Bang-won didn’t attend Bang-seok’s coronation, wondering if he’s sulking or if he’s planning some sort of retaliation. He shows Bang-seok the sword he used to found the new nation, and says that there are many swords in human form, too… some who died for him, and some who are aiming at their throats. He orders Bang-seok to destroy those who disobey the nation, and thus lay the foundation of a dynasty.

Bang-won bursts in, still wearing the bloody robe he was wearing when Hwi shot him, and he announces that someone made an attempt on his life. Stunned, King Taejo asks who it was, and Bang-won names Lord Nam. The king asks for evidence, so Bang-won gives him the secret letter, signed and stamped by Lord Nam. He invites in the assassin that Lord Nam hired, and the look on Lord Nam’s face when Hwi walks into the room, alive and perfectly fine, is priceless.

Hwi introduces himself, reminding King Taejo that they met once on a hunt. He tells the king that Lord Nam held his sister hostage and ordered him to kill Bang-won, but that instead, he confessed everything to Bang-won in order to bring Lord Nam to justice.

The king gives Lord Nam a chance to explain himself, and he says that the letter is authentic, but that it doesn’t tell the whole truth. He claims that he only pretended to plan King Taejo’s assassination, and that Hwi and Bang-won are lying. King Taejo asks what the other ministers think, and one of the ministers who got a copy of the secret letter from Ihwaru quickly says that Lord Nam is always accusing Bang-won of plotting a revolt and talks about eliminating the older princes.

King Taejo orders Lord Nam imprisoned, intending to question him later himself. Bang-won mentions that this happened right after the king had private armies disbanded, and he asks his father to revoke the command so that his family and counselors can defend themselves against their enemies.

Lord Nam is tortured as he’s questioned by the king, and he claims that the order to kill Bang-won came from the queen. Later, Hwi visits him in his cell and asks if this is his reward for being the king’s loyal dog, and for trampling on his entire family. Lord Nam growls that it’s not over until he’s dead.

Hwi says that he didn’t kill Lord Nam with a sword because it wouldn’t have been painful enough. He tells him to enjoy a living hell of misery and mockery, but Lord Nam retorts that it remains to be seen who will end up in hell.

Hwi leaves and thanks Bang-won for being merciful with him, and Bang-won tells him to go be with Yeon. He confesses to Hwi that he thought of Seo Geon, Hwi’s father, as a mentor and a father figure.

On the way to the hideout, Hwi only stops once when his stab wound bothers him. Everyone is there to see his reunion with Yeon, even Hee-jae and Hwa-wol, and Hwi smiles his first real, happy smile in years. He’s a bit shy when he goes inside where Yeon is waiting, and they both cry as she fusses at him for still being a terrible housekeeper.

But she thanks him for not changing, and she apologizes for what he’s been through on her behalf. Hwi just says he’s sorry for not coming sooner, then pulls his sister into his arms.

Hee-jae and Hwa-wol have brought food, and Moon-bok continues his flirtations with Hwa-wol… until he tastes the food, HA. Hwi tries it and declares it delicious to spare Hee-jae’s feelings (Moon-bok: “Is he taste-blind?” Jang Beom: “He would happily eat rocks.”), while Hwa-wol pouts to Moon-bok that she likes clean men with white teeth. Ouch.

Later, Moon-bok tells Yeon about Hwi’s prowess in battle, and when he gets too graphic, Chi-do simply says that Hwi fought hard to come home to her. Moon-bok tells the story of their captain who threw Hwi’s hairband into the fire and how Hwi reached in after it, and he shows the ladies that the hairband is still wrapped around Hwi’s bow.

At the sight of it, Hee-jae’s face crumples, and she leaves the group to collect herself with Hwi following her. She tells him to let it burn next time because hairbands can be replaced, but Hwi says that that one is unique. He takes Hee-jae’s hand and sighs that it feels like he’s been living in a nightmare, though Hee-jae says that it’s not all bad, like the day they flew kites, and this moment when they’re together again.

He says that if this is a dream then he hopes he doesn’t wake up. Hee-jae agrees, admitting that she wants to be part of that dream. She promises to wait for him, and Hwi promises not to make her wait too long, then he kisses her.

When confronted by the king, Queen Sindeok admits that she ordered Bang-won killed because she felt it necessary to protect her son. King Taejo counters that Bang-won is also his son, but the queen asks who will be next after Lord Nam dies, snapping that he may as well depose her and Bang-seok now and make Bang-won crown prince.

She warns King Taejo that Bang-won will kill Lord Nam, then go after her and Bang-seok next, and inevitably his own father. She begs him to let Lord Nam live (to give Bang-won a different target?).

The king visits Lord Nam and tells him that the last thing he wants is a feud between the princes. He admits that he’s scared of losing the queen and the crown prince, but Lord Nam just says that he can’t have everything. King Taejo says that if he kills Lord Nam, he has to kill his brothers, who both hold important government positions.

King Taejo notes that it’s legal for him to pardon Lord Nam, since those of his status have immunity, but he orders Lord Nam to stay away from Queen Sindeok and Bang-seok. He also tells Lord Nam to stop opposing Bang-won, but Lord Nam asks who will stand against Bang-won if he doesn’t. King Taejo replies that Sun-ho will — that he’s immature, but he’s a lot like his father was at that age.

Once he’s released, one of Lord Nam’s supporters tells him that a bunch of them received copies of the secret letter. Lord Nam growls that they came from Ihwaru, and he guesses that Lady Seo must be near death to pull a move this big. He orders the royal guards assembled, determined to kill both the person who turned him in, and his sister.

Sun-ho has arrived and says that he won’t let this happen, but Lord Nam tells his man to instruct the guards to kill everyone who gets in the way… even Sun-ho. He taunts Sun-ho to run off and tattle to Hwi, and Sun-ho goes.

Sun-ho arrives at the hideout and tells Hwi (whose stab wound is getting worse) that his father has been released and has sent the guards after them, then he’s shot in the shoulder with an arrow. Hwi and Gyeol escape with Yeon and Hee-jae while the others stay back to delay the guards. In the forest, Hwi sends Gyeol ahead with the ladies, promising to meet up with them soon.

He and Sun-ho fight the guards following them, and Sun-ho quickly notices that Hwi is struggling and missing his targets. But the two friends quickly fall back into their old patterns, fighting together as if they share one mind. When there are only a few men left, Sun-ho tells Hwi to rejoin Yeon, adding, “Go… and let’s never again see each other this way.”

Hwi runs as best he can, but he keeps having to stop, the pain and weakness of his wound seriously affecting him. He finally catches up and sends Yeon a great big smile and wave as if nothing’s wrong, and she runs to meet him.

Suddenly, a guard rides out of the forest and heads straight for Yeon. Hwi nocks an arrow and shoots the guard out of his saddle. He runs to Yeon, but another guard appears, and again Hwi shoots him.

But the guard gets to his feet, and as Hwi tries to ready another arrow, he’s wracked by a spasm of pain. The guard runs Yeon through with his sword just seconds before Hwi’s arrow pierces his eye. Oh no…

Yeon sinks to the ground, and Hwi screams her name.

 
COMMENTS

I’m not so naive that I don’t know that in dramas like this, someone we love will die, but I just didn’t expect it to be Yeon. I’m just shocked, and really terrified that if Yeon dies, Hwi will seriously go off the deep end. Everything Hwi has done was to save his sister, and for the others, she’s a symbol of what they’re all fighting for. Everything that Hwi has done for years was to save Yeon — she’s been his only motivation, and he’s even been willing to die for her. I’m scared of what Hwi might do without his entire reason for living, especially since knowing him, he’s going to blame himself for being too slow (because of his wound) to save her. On the other hand, now Hwi will really have a reason to make sure this time that Lord Nam is good and dead.

Just when I thought that Sun-ho and Hwi’s former friendship was dead, Sun-ho proved that he, at least, still cares very much for Hwi. He was devastated when he thought Hwi had killed himself on his father’s orders, and he didn’t hesitate to risk his own life to save Yeon. It broke my heart when Sun-ho had to let go of Yeon and send her to Hwi, because he’s spent years taking care of her as if she were his own sister, and it’s obvious that he’s always loved her as much as he loves Hwi. But it was also hard to see him let her go because Yeon has been the only bright spot in Sun-ho’s life ever since he was forced to send Hwi away. I’m almost equally concerned about Sun-ho if Yeon dies, because she’s been a focal point for him as well as for Hwi, and now they’re both going to be out there with no good personal reason to keep them doing the right thing.

This seems like a strange thing to notice, but one of the things I love most about My Country is how it doesn’t pretend that someone can be injured and heal within a day or two, especially since so much of it is about battles and fighting. Hwi got a cut on his cheek very early in the show, and he still carries a scar — it’s a nice detail that reminds us that he’s home, but he’s not healed from what he suffered in battle. Also, Hwi usually looks very pallid and unhealthy when most shows would have had him arrive home from war still looking like a smooth-skinned flower boy after a weekend at the spa. It provides an interesting contrast to Sun-ho, who has managed to stay out of most physical conflict, and his cushy lifestyle shows in his healthy color and lack of scars. You can tell by looking at them that they live very different lives — one eats well and works a genteel job (and has a lackey to do the dangerous work for him), while the other is living on the edge of poverty, fighting for every scrap of food he gets and even his very life. I just appreciate that touch of realism that’s reflected on their bodies, reminding me that they are far apart in circumstances as well as emotionally.

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Thank you for recap! Reading this made me 😭😭 all over again. I've always knew that Yeon had to go, but it's still sad when it happened. On top of that, she didn't get to spend much time being happy with Hwi and his new found family. 🥺

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I have a question not really about this episode but who is Poneun? ( I think it was the name... I'm so bad with names >_<, the guy Bang Won killed on the bridge to help his father)

The emotional lift at the end was awful, all this hapiness around the reunion, the friendship to fight together and... then... They deserve at least more than 1 hour of hapiness!

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Poeun (real name: Jeong Mong-ju) was a writer and diplomat in the late Goryeo period. There's certainly a whole history and details regarding Poeun.

I'd suggest watching the drama Six Flying Dragons as he figures prominently in that story and you see what happens between him and Bang-won.

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Oh thank you for your answer :)

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There is a bit more detail on Poeun under the comment section of episode 7.

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A search like "wiki Poeun" might point you to

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

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Yeon! Noooo!

In the work of a moment, Yeon's life cut short. And that Hwi had to witness that, just as he had witnessed the death of their father years before. How truly sad and painful.

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😮ops, just realized I was spoiling It.
Anyway,I really liked this observation:
"You can tell by looking at them that they live very different lives". On point! Unlike most shows, this one reflects the characters' lifestory on their appearance

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I agree. I really like PD Kim Jin Won’s artistic eye and keen attention to details.

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Sorry I should’ve typed that credit should go to the make-up artist (or is it production design team).

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Of course that was no dream sequence and was a plan and I wasn't surprised that Lord Nam was released thanks to the first episode. And of course happy times must be followed by tragedy. Sigh. Unfortunately I already knew Yeon was going to be in danger in this episode. When she asked Sun Ho if he will be alright I cried a little. When Hwi ran towards Yeon and the guard then shot her I said watch out, no, stop, out loud enough that my father came running and asked what happened and he looked at the tv and said 'Oh did you get involved again?'

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I'm angry with the guard who did nothing.

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@ndlessjoie,
I'm even more pissed off that Yeon stood there like a doofus. Granted, she was probably in shock after the first guard came after her. The way she stood there gaping made me think that she was standing in a crosswalk in pitch darkness waiting to be run down by the Truck Of Doom.

Is Gyeol really a bodyguard, or is he something else (a pacifist?!) pretending to be a guard? I guess everyone who was anyone had bodyguards back then, but this guy seems to be entirely for show. I wasn't all that convinced when he went after Ganggae, and nearly fainted when he pulled his sword on him.

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So this is a Sword of Doom moment?

Gyeol is window dressing most of the time.

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@ndlessjoie,
See my second thoughts on Gyeol in thread #16. There is a valid explanation for his non-involvement.

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I should have known not to get attached to anybody in Sageuk.....

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I am so heartbroken for Hwi. In a drama like this, when happy things happen, there will be something atrocious happening soon....and the collateral was poor Yeon.

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It was clear that she was meant to die because she didn't get to do anything but ocasionally interact with the two ML and the antagonist... It looks like her only purpose was to provide motive for the MLs actions. I'm loving this drama, but its not as if they gave her any chance to develop, kudos to the actress for making her so engaging with so little!

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She did well for a new actress in her first sageuk. I hope to see more of her in the future.
I wish the writings was better for our young female characters.

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Amen to that, @kiara. Cho Yi-hyun was actually in HOMME FATALE with Junho, which began filming right after last Christmas. She was also in BAD PAPA with Jang Hyuk in 2018. Alas, I do not recall her character.

I do like her performance in MY COUNTRY, and think that she did a good job with the bare-bones characterization she was given. Her parting from Sun-ho reminded me that, despite all that has gone down because of Lord Nam, she still considered him orabeoni. If anyone could have helped mend the rift between him and Hwi, it would have been little sister who had a "secret" crush on him. Even as he turned her over to the care of the Liaodong Survivors, she was still concerned to be leaving him alone with Lord Nam. It reminded me of her earlier observation that he always smiled, no matter what was happening, and that she offered him her shoulder to cry on. I got the sense that she had buried the hatchet, and was truly concerned for him. And he knew it.

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This was one of those episodes where I had to stop and take a breath! So much happens! Bang won and Hwi are morally injured and make miraculous recoveries. Lord Nam gloats, threatens and then looks like he’s seen a ghost when his nemeses walk into court to make their accusations, and then he gets beaten and imprisoned and he gets out of prison and gets even more pompous (if that was even possible). Hwi and Hee Jae share a moment, finally. Hwi and Yeon share a moment-double finally, the 3 musketeers that’s what I call them) have a nice dinner-triple finally, Sun-Ho and Hwi reconcile due to Yeon (that was nice to see them fighting for the same thing—quadruple finally) and then all is short lived and Yeon dies. Phew! I wasn’t surprised Yeon was sacrificed—her story arc was always headed towards tragedy. She was an epileptic, close to three people with death over them as well, and two of their weaknesses. She was a pawn in this story, but it still saddens me to see her go. I could have enjoyed a few more sweet moments between Hwi, Sun-Ho, and her. She should have admonished them to quit fighting each other, that Sun-Ho only has her in this world, and if she is gone, it’s up to Hwi to be his friend, brother, and (if in another show) soul mate. Then having her die a thousand deaths—maybe in the next episode. I know there is still a lot of history to cover, and I wonder where the history will end this drama. Will it be with Bang Won on the throne?

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*mortally

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I thought Bang-won wasn’t mortally wounded? He was asking Hwi why his arrows penetrated his armor, and Hwi answered that it had to be realistic. Which I took to mean enough penetration to draw blood...which is a really fine line.

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For all intensive purposes, Lord Nam thought he was as good as dead, which is what I was referring. But yes, they took precautions so he wouldn’t be.

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@hebang,
But Hwi knows exactly where to aim to avoid any vital points, and how much tension to put on the bowstring to control penetration of armor of known thickness. I'm certain that Hwi, and possibly King Taejo and Chi-do, are the only archers in the land who could have pulled this off. Plus the arrows had NOT been dipped in Lord Nam's poison as instructed. Bang-won was anesthetized with Moon-bok's "mabihwan" cannabis & datura pills, however, so that may have made it look as if he were poisoned. He was weak enough to fool the doctor. It also meant that he really couldn't react to Nam's choking, which put him in a horribly vulnerable position. The only thing that saved him was Nam's utter determination that Bang-won be killed by one of his own men, otherwise he would have strangled him to death in a heartbeat.

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This a drama that I think could have used a few more episodes. Yeon and Sunho’s story deserved to be fleshed out.

“ She should have admonished them to quit fighting each other, that Sun-Ho only has her in this world, and if she is gone, it’s up to Hwi to be his friend, brother, and (if in another show) soul mate. ”

Just perfect. This scene should have made to the screen.

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I wonder if they were filming for 20 episodes but were told to cut down to 16 in the middle of it.
That's over 4 hrs of scenes that are not included. That's a lot imo.

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And I wonder if most of the scenes that got cut were Hee Jae's and/or Ihwaru's. Her character just does not make any sense.

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The worst thing this show did was make her and Hwi this inescapable love story. The 1st half of the series was her making goo goo eyes and 'protecting' him and it never made a lick of sense why.

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I don’t know if this crew knows how to present the spying stories behind Ihwaru in an interesting way. What little that remains on screen is mostly talked about rather than shown.

The maturation of HJ into a Minister in a Dress should be an interesting arc, but it would be very different from the action oriented genre the rest of the drama belongs to.

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@hebang I am sure this writer knows how to make interesting spying conversations, judging from all the sharp and interesting exchanges between the male casts in this drama. I am sure they can cook up some interesting spy moves on her part. But so far, her conversations were reduced to either bad romance or empty threats.

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It looks to me like they just lopped off big chunks of character development and kept scenes that are supposed to be climaxes but aren’t because they lack proper development. 4 hours of extra material would have covered a lot of sins.

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I think that is likely what happened. I'm not convinced the extra episodes would have made that much difference though. Hee Jae definitely could have used more development, but everything becoming about Hwi for her after episode 2 pretty much hamstrung the character IMO. I also feel like the time jumps hurt the story but would have happened regardless because they only wanted to cover certain events.

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I wish they would have concentrated on developing her character instead of this romance that the show could do without.

I'd take logic over romance any day.

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@kiara, @msrabbit, @larelle79, @hebang, @missh,
I agree with all of your observations. It surely looks as if 20% of the original episode count were given the axe after the episodes were in the can. And it wasn't exactly done with surgical precision, either. Instead of a compelling subplot of spying and a battle of wits between the main factions, the show is saddled with a ludicrously dopey romance that sets my teeth on edge.

Does Ihwaru subcontract its intelligence gathering to Dal-moon over in HAECHI or what? Maybe it should. I headdesked when Hee-jae met with her super-secret spies in the middle of the street. So much for Ihwaru as a vital espionage nerve center.

The episode reduction reminds me of the way the 2006 Chinese-Korean wuxia-sageuk BICHEONMU / FEI TIAN WU / THE DANCE IN THE SKY / FLYING HEAVENLY DANCE was supposedly butchered from the original full-length version that aired in China with 33 episodes. (Not to be confused with the 2000 Korean fantasy martial arts movie with the same title.) It was mired in legal purgatory for years before being chopped down to 14 episodes when it finally aired in Korea in 2008. Alas, most of the important back story regarding the Goryeo swordsmanship techniques that were the family legacy of the retainer to the Korean prince who was a hostage to Yuan ended up on the cutting room floor. A Mongol general coveted the knowledge, and attempted to take the swordsmanship manual by force.

Even so, I enjoyed it, with Joo Jin-mo in the lead role. How much better it would have been had the entire story been told. It has a gorgeous OST, too.

MY COUNTRY's early chase scenes among the fabric in the dye yard look like an homage to BICHEONMU -- or the film DUELIST, which came out in 2005. CHUNO has a similar scene, as does THE SONG OF THE PRINCE. Dye yards are apparently a popular location for fights and romantic peek-a-boo trysts.

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I totally agree with you, @hebang. Yeon was in the best position to make Hwi and Sun-ho bury the hatchet (at which point they could clue her in that they were only putting on an act all along).

There was also enough of a hint that Yeon was smitten by orabeoni's friend that it could have played out nicely for them -- aside from having evil Lord Nam as a prospective father-in-law, that is. But now that I think of it, it's not so farfetched when one considers that their fathers had been friends at one time.

Oh, what could have been, drat it.

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It’ll probably end with either Bang-won being made Crown Prince, or his ascension to the throne. It’ll be bloody either way.

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I just wrote a really long comment and then internet failed me. Humph.

In summary:
- Hwi and Sun-Ho are the real OTP.
- Bang Won & Hwi’s partnership is exciting. But what if Nam had stabbed Hwi himself? I wish his plans wouldn’t involve putting himself in real danger of death, but it’s consistent with the character we’ve come to know.
- Sun-ho only really smiled at Yeon. I needed more moments of these two. 💔
- That final scene reminded me of WAR OF THE ARROWS, with brother and sister running towards each other. 😭

Thanks for the recap @lollypip!

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That's too bad, I would've love to read that long comment.

This director must be a fan of WAR of the ARROWS. There is a lot that reminds me of it since the first episode. The brother and sister relationship, they both witness their father's death, the shoes that the brother bought for her sister was too big but I love how it was used in the movie more than this drama.

When they ran towards each other you just know that one of them is not going to make it but it was clearly Yeon in this drama.

I always thought Sun-ho was more into their relationship than Hwi because he had no one else. Hwi had more to live for than just Sun-ho.

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True, we tend to think of Hwi as the one with the harder life, but he is surrounded by people who love him (and who try to dissuade him from risking his neck every day), but Sun-ho has literally nobody now. Hwi doesn't actually need him in his life anymore, though I don't blame him. Sun-ho could have joined Hwi several times before, but he always chose the dark side instead. What's it going to take for them to stand side by side fighting the same enemy? C'mon show, give me a bit of bromance!

WAR OF THE ARROWS was so good, especially the brother and sister connection. Ah, that shoe. Kdramas have wired my brain to never give or receive shoes from anyone. Incidentally, the film was my first exposure to Manchu language.

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I want to see Hwi and Sun Ho being best friends again and fight side by side, but at this point, I don't see how. Putting the betrayal aside, Hwi is now on Bang Won's side which is not favorable to Sun Ho in anyway. Unless the show somehow makes Bang Won doubts Hwi and wanted to kill him so he has to switch side, I don't see how it is possible for them to work together.

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Yes to more bromance! I blame Lord Nam for SunHo’s upbringing. He learned survival skills from a monster. I would like to see SunHo turn to Bangwon’s camp and act as double agent.

@msrabbit
I don’t see a reason for the show to have Bangwon doubting Hwi. In fact I see their relationship forming a strong bond as Bangwon seem to confide a lot more to Hwi. I see a bromance triangle with Bangwon, Hwi and SunHo. LOL

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So Hwi could be at the centre of a triangle with Bang Won and Sun-ho? Ok, that sounds deadly but interesting.

For some reason I feel that Hwi is more likely to abandon Bang Won than Bang Won to abandon Hwi, but that's a discussion that belongs in ep. 10 more than here.

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@mei123db I don't either. But that's the only for Hwi and Sun Ho to be on the same side. Who knows? Maybe the show will surprise us. LOL. [still dreaming for my Hwi-Sun Ho ship to sail]

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They can pull off bromance triangle tropes until BangWon sits on the throne. Hwi and SunHo can then set sail along the riverside.

@wishfultoki
Oh I must’ve missed that on episode 10, I don’t remember having that impression, that’s an interesting thought.

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@wishfultoki
"What's it going to take for them to stand side by side fighting the same enemy?"

It's so complicated when one is working with Bang-won and the other with the king.
We know from history that Taejo raised an army to fight against Bang-won so that might be the end game.

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War of the Arrows is the reason why I got hooked with Kdrama and movies :D I miss Moon Chae Won...

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I miss her too! The new ones aren't doing it for me. I need my sageuk girls.
I watched that boring Fairy drama just for her. I'm such a hopeless fangirl lol.

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Agree with you on every point! And Hwi.. sigh... I do wish he had better plans like what he did with Bang Won's fake death. But I guess the need to inject that poison in him to create more suspense. Now I am not sure if he'll survive. 😭

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We only have one sure survivor.

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Bang Won.

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My only consolation for this scenario is that all of them are finally reunited in heaven and live happily ever after....

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Seeing Hwi and Sun Ho fight alongside each other for that brief moment made me yearn for their early, happier days and treasure those moments that much more.

I was sorta prepared for Yeon’s demise, but not like this. I’m sad and annoyed with how she was hurt. Hee Jae’s bodyguard was just standing there, doing nothing. He could have intercepted one of the attackers, struggled, and then got knocked out of the way or something before the guard could get to Yeon. She was too open and the drawn out scene of her and Hwi trying to reach other was so typical.

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I called Gyeol, the warrior of Ihwaru as incompetent in previous thread. He is what, there as decor?

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I can't think of anything logical except that he was just there to protect Hee-jae. If he gets involved it would be on Ihwaru but still. Who would know if they kill them all?

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I wrote on the fanwall after watching this episode so I will repeat it. How flipping good was Ahn Nae sang in this episode. It was all him and he delivered with a capital D.

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Ahn Nae-sang elevates whatever he is given. CONSPIRACY in the COURT was very hard to watch but dang he was flawless in it.
This drama is blessed with the best veteran actors. Their career is thriving even at their age because they truly love what they do and they are so darn good at it.
I hope our young actors are learning a lot from them.

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I will have to check that series out.

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Who can forget Ahn Nae Sang's wise and sad King Jeongjo in Conspiracy in the Court?
He is excellent in My Country too. I hope the young actors learned a lot from him and the other veterans.

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Thank you for the recap, @lollypip <3

Well fuck.

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Ahn Nae-sang, Yang Se-jong, Jang Hyuk, and Woo Do-hwan just knocked it out the park this episode. Nam Jeon’s gloat-and-choke scene, Bang-won stroking his throat while remembering what happened, Hwi’s utter devastation, and Seon-ho’s desperation—these actors are giving a masterclass and I am grateful for the instruction.

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I would include Kim Yeong-cheol as Taejo. His scenes with Bang Won were electrifying! I remember in SFD, this father-son relationship was a heartbreaking one. They portrayed it here too.

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Kim Yeong-chul's version of Taejo is most interesting . He is blunt about being the king first and treating his sons as mere subjects. Until when? we don't know.
Joseon is still a very young nation. Not everyone has accepted him as their king. The scholars were on Poeun (Jeong Mong-ju) and Mogeun (Yi Saek)'s side. He needed Lord Nam Jeon to do damage control.
In earlier episodes Lord Nam murmured to himself that the king is making him do Sambong's dirty works.

When Bang-won talks about killing Poeun, he said he was a son first before he was a scholar.
I'm sure Bang-won will understand his father better when he sits on the throne.

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Yes, I think Taejo here was more power-hungry than the one in SFD. He was proud of Bang Won in earlier episode when he bragged about him to Nam Jeon, but at the same time, he feared Bang Won for those exact reasons.

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We know from history that Bang-won killed a lot of people including his in laws and his son's in laws.
These people helped him in his fight for the throne.

I think that's worst than being abandoned but that's how he achieved his goal to rule with absolute power.

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Between the father and the son, I think Bang Won has the stronger personality that is why even his father feared him despite the former being King. Bang Won also had the wider grasp of politics and was never afraid to act on anything if necessary, regardless of its impact on himself so long as it is for the good of the country.

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Bang Won certainly does. I will fear him for his fan alone.

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As much effort, strife, heartbreak, blood, sweat and tears Hwi put into keeping Yeon alive and freeing her... I still feel waaaaay worse for Sun-ho after Yeon's death.

Hwi has friends, a lover, a pretty badass mofo head honcho on his team. Bang-won is smart and calculating and power hungry, but I do think he follows a code of honour of some kind - he wouldn't turn on Hwi too too easily.

Sun-ho's got nobody. Like actually, not a single one. His best friend hates him. He has no respect from his peers. His father uses him as a pawn in the political game. The woman he loves thinks he's the worst. His one minion seems to trust his plans, but I dunno if I'd consider that a relationship, more like a business transaction. Yeon was the only person - both before and after her memories came back - that he could relax around. That he knew liked or loved him without needing anything in return.

If anyone's going to go full dark and stormy... it would be Sun-ho.

Meanwhile, Nam Jeon is clearly a cockroach who would survive an apocalypse.

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Meanwhile, Nam Jeon is clearly a cockroach who would survive an apocalypse.

😂 He makes an excellent villain! So, I don't mind that much.

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He absolutely does! That was basically a compliment. :)

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And this blinding loyalty to Hwi doesn't make any sense as he has shown who he is time and time again.

He keeps pushing people away, being reckless and sometimes thoughtless and people are clamoring towards him.

I see Hwi as someone who sees people as useful means and when he is done, he is done. If he survives, his relationship with Hui jee will not because she will outlive her usefulness as well.

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Didn't think of it this way, but I definitely agree. I guess it's his own way of carving out his place in a world that tried its best to turn its back on him? He's always got to look out for "number one".

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I think Hwi wouldn't have their loyalty if he hadn't saved them over and over in battle, plus had his father to pave his path.

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@thetinyl
Isn't SunHo's predicament a result of his own doing though? Although he had good intentions but it turned out differently. And things just cascaded out of control.

Hwi on the other hand, also has his own blinders on. And doesnt realize the repurcussions of his vendetta. When will he turnaround and see the light?

I think both of them are just caught in a game of survival and ended up on opposite ends of the pole.

I’m curious what writer has in store for both their character's arc. Could it be writer’s intention to make SunHo’s story of being one of the abandoned resonate with Bangwon's own story with his father? Bangwon may have more foresight into their situation.

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I think Sun-ho is definitely to blame for some of it, but there are instances where he could've maybe been forthcoming and spared himself the ill wills... Hwi would be a tough sell, though I wonder what would've happened if him and SH put their heads together even before Jeon had Hwi shipped off to war. I feel like if Sun-ho had been less stone-faced with Hee-jae, maybe shown a bit more remorse/empathy (we know he's capable of that), she wouldn't have fallen for him, but at least would have understood him a little better and maybe not hated his guts.

You bring up a really interesting thought about the mirroring daddy issues between SH and BW. I hadn't picked up on that, though it totally makes sense.

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Agreed. When SH begged his father not to hurt Hwi, and then practically collapsed when he believed Hwi died, it reminded me of young SH and his mother.

Perhaps that’s why SH can’t let Hwi go. When he does, you’re right, he’s going to go full dark.

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Seon Ho can't let the people he loves go. Hwi still loves Seon Ho, but more easily casts Seon Ho aside (and really, who can blame him after Seon Ho had him shipped off).

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I think they both do. They just have different/ their own way of showing it.

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I agree. I am afraid that both will get killed off. I just hope for a last minute reconciliation...

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IIRC Lord Nam had ordered/threaten Hwi not to participate in the state exam but he did
anyway so Sun-ho had to make a deal with his father to save his life.

Hwi had every right to take the state exam and because he chose to participate, Lord Nam wanted to make sure that Sun-ho will pass with highest score by bribing the examiner.

The letter from Ihwaru exposed Lord Nam's crime and General Yi had to cover for Lord Nam as a favor for saving his life. Sun-ho was also forced to kill the examiner.

To Sun-ho, it would be better to ship Hwi off. What better choices does he have? At least Hwi would have a chance of surviving as a soldier since he is an excellent archer and swordsman
than having him killed by his father.

In earlier episodes, Sun-ho said to Hwi "why don't you get it?" I think it meant, why don't you understand that I'm trying to save you?

I don't blame Hwi if he doesn't understand Sun-ho's intention. He saw what happened on the battle field and he is still alive because he fought to stay alive.
To me that was the chance that Sun-ho was holding on to even if Hwi doesn't understand. At least he is still alive.

I think Woo Do-hwan is very good at portraying those conflicted emotions and it shows his desperation that lead to his actions.

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You recall correctly. SH had no choice but to ship Hwi off. If he hadn’t, Lord Nam would have killed Hwi for certain.

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I feel worse for Seon Ho too because he spent years protecting Yeon (and did what he thought he had to do to protect Hwi too) while Hwi had opportunities to rescue her, but didn't. Hwi and his merry men could've stashed Yeon someplace safe.

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I don’t think it was a question of Hwi saving Yeon at that time. It was a more delicate situation for Hwi because Yeon had lost her memory. It would’ve been traumatic for her.

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True. During the first years she was well cared for too.

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To be honest, the way Yeon died was pretty weird considering that she didn't need to run out in the first place and how the bodyguard guy was so close but somehow didn't start running until she got stabbed

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I agree but I keep telling myself that she ran to help him or she was too excited to stand still lol.

In WAR of the ARROWS the sister ran towards her brother to warn him because he didn't see the bad guy aiming at him.

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Gyeol is there for Hui jee, who is not the leader of Ihwaru, and only Hui jee. Seriously, has he ever intervened in any other situation outside of Ihwaru.

That is his job and one he takes very seriously and now, looks like to a fault.

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I had the same thoughts.

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Isn't this at least the second time he could've helped and didn't? It seems like there was a time inside Ihwaru also.

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@larelle79, @kiara, @ndlessjoie,
Thank you for playing devil's advocate for Gyeol. Actually, even inside Ihwaru, there was one showdown (with Grand General Jung, IIRC) in which Gyeol instantly stood down because it would have turned into a blood bath if he hadn't.

Ihwaru has to remain neutral. But seriously, what were the odds that either of those two guards were going to survive that mission to whack Yeon? Nil.

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Yes, that's true. I though there was one more, but I'm not going to go back and look.

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And writer purposely made her run so she is a distance away. This also leaves Hwi with the burden of failing to protect her.

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