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110

Tale of Nokdu: Episodes 21-22

Our hero and heroine enjoy having their feelings out in the open as the brewing fight for the throne gains speed. The king has sacrificed much to fulfill his ambitions but at great cost. He’s escaped his fate for years but that could all change as certain truths finally come to light. With everyone moving into place, our hero and heroine are closer to discovering that they’re in the middle of a dangerous game.

 
EPISODE 21: “Dong-joo Enters the Palace”

King Gwanghae exits the queen’s chambers in the morning to find his guard, Officer Baek, and Dong-joo’s former servants waiting in the rain.

Nokdu and Dong-joo don’t seem to notice the rain as they kiss, or the rainbow that flashes just over them. When they part, Nokdu’s hands are shaking and he confesses that he’s suddenly nervous. Telling him that she’s perfectly fine, Dong-joo kisses Nokdu gently and then slumps in a near faint.

The frightened servants apologize to King Gwanghae for burying the bodies of their lord and his family, unaware that it was a serious crime. After they insist that every family member died, the king asks for the location of the burial site.

Dan-ho reports to a forlorn Yul-moo that Dong-joo wasn’t at the gisaeng house where Mae Hwa-soo now lives. Yul-moo calls off his search, convinced that Dong-joo’s disappearance proves how much she hates him. He is somewhat comforted by the fact Dong-joo isn’t with Nokdu either.

Nokdu carries Dong-joo on his back but she jumps down when they get home and see Master Hwang with the king’s eunuch. The eunuch is there for Dong-joo after the grateful queen secured a job for the girl who helped the king with his insomnia.

Dong-joo arrives at the palace at the same time that Officer Baek sends Nokdu out with the old couple to search for the burial site.

The king enters Minister Heo’s cell with Yul-moo and the witnesses that he’s provided — Hwang-tae, Yeon-boon and Jung-sook. The Muweol Corps women testify that the widows were confined to their rooms whenever they heard a bell, which is when Minister Heo visited the shrine. Yeon-boon claims that Heo murdered their eyewitness, but not before the woman shared that he was hiding a young man who was supposedly destined for greatness.

After wandering around in the woods all day, Nokdu tells the old couple that they’re done searching for the day. When Nokdu asks whose burial ground they’re looking for the wife answers that it belongs to Lord Yu Yeong-kyung and his family, who were killed after he was caught plotting treason against the king.

When Nokdu asks why King Gwanghae wants to dig up the grave, the old man explains that the king doesn’t trust the claim that everyone died. The old man swears to Nokdu that everyone did die, even the girl.

Once Yeong-boon and Jung-sook have been dismissed, Yul-moo informs the king, “It was your son whom the chancellor had hidden…” Hwang-tae then testifies that his brother always aspired to rise to the highest position and was sought out by Minister Heo for his plot.

Worked into a frenzy, King Gwanghae grabs Heo by his clothes, “Do you not know how hard it was to get rid of him?”
When Minister Heo accuses the king of abandoning him, his people, and his baby, King Gwanghae grabs a poker.

Heo asks, “What are you so afraid of,” as the king plunges the poker into his body. Hwang-tae sinks to the floor in shock as blood pours from Minister Heo, who looks at his old friend with sorrow.

In a flashback to the Japanese Invasion 20 years earlier, the future king wept when he came upon a street littered with the bodies. With generals Heo and Yoon-jo by his side, he lamented that it was the people with no power who paid with their lives. Heo’s eyes shone with pride when the future king pledged, “I will be different…I will make sure they are happy to be my people.”

As the life leaves his body, Heo weeps at the memory, “I wanted to stay by your side and make your wish come true.” Minister Heo looks at Yul-moo before his eyes close for the last time and as the king weeps, Yul-moo smirks.

In the marketplace, Chil-seong hides Yoon-jo when some palace guards walk by. Yoon-jo rejects Chil-seong’s suggestion to tell Nokdu the truth about his lineage, planning instead to see the queen who he believes is the only one who can save her son.

When he returns to the palace, Nokdu sees the blood on Officer Baek’s uniform when he reports that the old couple wasn’t able to find the burial site. A shaken Officer Baek informs Nokdu that they no longer need to locate it.

Upon hearing the news, the old couple thanks Nokdu profusely but he credits the king for their release. Nokdu smiles at the sight of Dong-joo hanging up sheets but the old couple is suddenly anxious to leave.

Once the couple is gone, Nokdu returns to help Dong-joo who’s still recovering from her ordeal in the well. Nokdu asks Dong-joo to visit the swing with him later that night and they arrange to meet at the back gate.

Nokdu leaves but soon returns and places a ring made of tiny daisies on Dong-joo’s left hand. When Dong-joo asks him about it, Nokdu explains, “‘I picked it up on my way here.’ That was what Master Hwang told me to say. But it was pretty, so I got it for you.”

After kissing her hand, Nokdu starts to walk away until Dong-joo stops him and hugs him from behind. Dong-joo closes her eyes as she rests her head on Nokdu’s back, the sheets fluttering in the breeze. When she finally sends him on his way, Nokdu keeps turning back to look at her. Nokdu soon runs into King Gwanghae and is alarmed to see that his eunuch has to hold him up.

In the king’s chambers, Nokdu watches as King Gwanghae gets very drunk. King Gwanghae asks, “Why do you look at me that way,” and Nokdu confesses he’s never seen him look peaceful. The king admits that his only peaceful moments are when he sneaks out of the palace and runs into Nokdu.

The king asks if he heard what happened and Nokdu wonders if it had anything to do with the man that Minister Heo was hiding (Yoon-jo). King Gwanghae’s eyes fill with tears as he admits, “It is all my fault…Ever since that day. Everything has turned awry.” When the king passes out, Nokdu lays him in his bed and a tear escapes as he ponders, “Am I a part of that dreadful night?”

While the king sleeps, he dreams of being locked in the dungeon cell with a dead Minister Heo, who opens his eyes to look at the king accusingly. King Gwanghae yells to be let out until a woman announces, “The skies desire a new king,” and he’s suddenly with a shaman covered in blood.

In a flashback, we see that just days before Nokdu’s birth, the shaman delivered her message with King Gwanghae’s sword at her throat, “Your son who will be born on November 19 will become the next king.”

Aware that his father only made him the crown prince because of the war, Gwanghae vowed, “I will make sure that I become the king,” and plunged his sword through the shaman.

When King Gwanghae wakes up with a jolt, he sees that Nokdu is crying. After he remembers smothering his newborn son, the king tells Nokdu, “I truly wish that you will never find out what kind of person I am.

EPISODE 22: “Your Son Is Alive”

In the aftermath of Minister Heo’s death, Yul-moo meets with his supporters to finalize plans for the revolt. Yul-moo plans to occupy the palace when the king pays his respects at the royal ancestral burial site. Once the king is in custody and they have taken the royal seal, all that’s needed is the order from Prince Yeongchang’s mother to complete the transfer of power.

Yeon-boon and Jung-sook are devastated when Ssook informs them that it was Yul-moo who destroyed their village and killed Lady Cheon. Yeon-boon wants to kill him right away but Ssook reminds her that they’re no match for Dan-ho. Ssook suggests keeping a low profile until they can come up with a plan.

When Nokdu sees Dong-joo waiting for him at the back gate, he sneaks up to surprise her. Dong-joo is so startled that she accidentally hits Nokdu, giving him a bloody nose. At the market, Dong-joo argues that the accident was actually Nokdu’s fault but he just brags that he’s handsome even when he’s injured.

Even though he has wadding in his nose, Dong-joo strokes Nokdu’s face and agrees, “You are very handsome,” adding, “But you are pretty at the same time. When you pretended to be a widow, you were prettier than a woman.”

Dong-joo won’t let Nokdu put his arm around her but she does hold his hand. When Dong-joo sees Nokdu’s favorite candy, she stuffs some into his mouth remembering that he looked like a cute rabbit the first time he ate it.

Their cheeks are stuffed with candy when Dong-joo begs Nokdu to buy her some shoes and when he refuses (worried that she’ll use them to run away from him), they bicker. A still pining Yeon-geun sees them and sighs, “They are a well-matched couple. Darn it.” When he turns to leave, Yeon-geun bumps into Bok-neo at the same time that Soon-nyeo and Mal-nyeon reunite with Nokdu and Dong-joo.

There’s a huge reunion at Yeon-geun’s house and everyone sits down to share a meal. When Soon-nyeon mentions Dong-joo’s two day ordeal in the well, Aeng-du is sad to think that Dong-joo went so long without food.

Yet when Nokdu sets out the rice, Aeng-du gets upset when she realizes that there’s a fried egg hidden in Dong-joo’s bowl. Nokdu explains that he gave the last egg to Dong-joo because the doctor instructed him to feed her well.

When everyone grumbles, Yeon-geun scolds, “Stop making a fuss during mealtime.” He’s surprised when Bok-nyeo places some food on top of his rice and smiles bashfully. Soon-nyeo announces, “This meal is quite sweet,” and it’s obvious that she’s not talking about the food when she stares at Master Hwang.

Ssook explains to Chil-seong that while she can get into the palace, meeting the queen is another matter. Chil-seong just needs her to make sure that the queen receives a letter and after giving it some thought, Ssook takes it. When Chil-seong asks Ssook to check on Minister Heo, she gives him sad news.

Dong-joo scolds Nokdu when he asks permission to enter her room, worried that someone could open her door. Nokdu argues that it’s too late for that and scrambles in to lie down next to Dong-joo, who warns him to go to sleep.

After Nokdu falls asleep with his arm around Dong-joo, she whispers, “Look at him sleeping. He always does what I tell him to do. When she lightly strokes his face and lips, Nokdu opens his eyes.

After reminding Dong-joo that she’s the one who woke him up, Nokdu kisses her on the forehead, eye, nose and then her mouth. When they kiss each other, the door suddenly opens and Nokdu and Dong-joo roll apart. Aeng-du plops down on the bed while complaining that the widows are impossible to sleep with.

Nokdu asks Aeng-du what she saw and he and Dong-joo are embarrassed when she replies, “How you two were stuck together like glue and kissing each other? Or how you both rolled away from each other as if your bottoms were on fire?”

Aeng-du calls off the betrothal since Nokdu’s heart obviously belongs to another woman. When the three of them fall asleep, Nokdu and Dong-joo are holding hands with Aeng-du in between them.

At the palace the next day Dong-joo listens to gossip that the king is spending lots of time in the dungeon and coming out with blood on his robes. After mentioning that a high ranking official just died, the women notice Dong-joo. When she sets down a basket, her flower ring falls off and Dong-joo shoves the flowers into her sleeve.

When Hwang-tae admits that he’s upset because his lies led to Minister Heo’s death, Yul-moo reminds him that he has no use for someone who’s weak. When Yul-moo sees Dong-joo, he follows her just as she runs into Nokdu.

Dong-joo reminds Nokdu that she’ll be sleeping at the palace but they’re interrupted when Yul-moo punches Nokdu in the face. Yul-moo grabs Dong-joo’s hand and when he ignores her demand to let go, Nokdu pulls his hand away. Yul-moo grabs Nokdu and Officer Baek runs up to apologize on Nokdu’s behalf and warn that people are watching.

Reluctantly, Yul-moo releases Nokdu and then grabs Dong-joo again, hissing, “I looked for you everywhere, and this is where I find you?” When Dong-joo jerks her hand away, Yul-moo bellows, “Dong-joo,” just as the queen is announced.

The queen is surprised by Yul-moo’s behavior and after confirming that Dong-joo is the new servant, explains that he’s not to disrespect anyone in her household. After she dismisses Dong-joo, the queen sends Yul-moo away as well.

The queen asks to see Officer Baek and smiles at Nokdu as she walks away. Nokdu runs after Hwang-tae to tell him that it’s not too late to change sides but he insists that he’s already gone too far. Nokdu asks if Yul-moo is threatening him with something but Hwang-tae denies it and walks away.

Ssook is close by when a tea tray is prepared for the queen. She manages to slip the letter under the teapot without being seen.

Officer Baek informs the queen that Minister Heo was killed because he was guilty of treason. The troubled queen clutches the charm that commemorates her son and murmurs, “He (Heo) definitely seemed like he had something to tell me that day.” After dismissing the guard, the queen finds the letter and Officer Baek sees it in her hand as he closes her door.

The king’s eunuch asks what to do with Minister Heo’s body and is surprised when he’s ordered to have it thrown out with the others. As tears fall, the king explains, “(Heo) Yun abandoned me a long time ago. Thus, I shall do the same.” The king turns when Officer Baek calls out to him.

After the confrontation with Yul-moo, Nokdu checks to make sure that Dong-joo isn’t hurt. Dong-joo is about to tell Nokdu something but instead reminds him that she’s spending the night in the palace. Nokdu pats Dong-joo’s head and promises to see her the next day and once he’s gone, Dong-joo opens her hand to look at the tiny flowers he gave her.

Nokdu finds Ssook outside smoking a pipe, deep in thought. After checking that she heard about Minister Heo, Nokdu asks how she plans to stop Yul-moo. When Ssook admits that she hasn’t figured that out, Nokdu shakes her hand and suggests, “Why do we not help each other?”

Chil-seong sheds tears of grief as he rants to Yoon-jo, “How could he also discard his dead body like that?” Even though Yoon-jo wants to help him retrieve Minister Heo’s body, Chil-seong points out that it’s too dangerous and urges him to proceed with his plan to meet the queen.

Yoon-jo explains how Minister Heo saved his life when he was a child. Chil-seong was near death but after Heo begged his father, the boy was treated by a doctor. Chil-seong argues, “I should be the one to go since I was granted a decent life thanks to the chancellor.” As he departs, Chil-seong apologizes to Yoon-jo, “I am sorry I could not protect you until the very end.”

When his eunuch finds the king drinking alone, he offers to summon Officer Yeon (Nokdu). At the same time, Chil-seong finds Minister Heo’s body but as he weeps, a sword is held to his neck.

While Yoon-jo hurries along a street, the queen sneaks out, unaware that she’s being watched.

Dan-ho demands to know Yoon-jo’s whereabouts and when Chil-seong claims that he ran away, he’s cut down. Ready to join his master, Chil-seong grabs Dan-ho’s sword with his bare hands and plunges it into his body. When Dan-ho finishes him off, Chil-seong dies as he lived, by Minister Heo’s side.

Yoon-jo enters a room and bows before a sheer screen that shields the queen, who’s shocked when she sees her visitor. Yoon-jo recalls that fateful day 20 years ago and confesses that he’s not the only one who survived, “His Majesty’s son is alive, Your Highness.”

As Nokdu heads for the king’s chambers, the queen gasps in shock. She crawls to Yoon-jo’s side as he pleads, “You must protect him from His Majesty.” The frantic queen cries, “I will risk everything I have to protect him,” but before Yoon-jo can tell her anything, the door opens to reveal King Gwanghae.

Dong-joo lurks outside of the palace, clutching the box that holds her bow and arrows while King Gwanghae returns to the palace with Yoon-jo in custody. The queen runs after them and when she stumbles, Nokdu catches her.

When a royal guard sees Dong-joo, he points his sword as she hides her box with her skirt. King Gwanghae approaches and Dong-joo breathes, “Chief Administrative Officer,” before she realizes the truth.

As the queen continues to chase after King Gwanghae and Yoon-jo, Nokdu picks up the queen’s charm that fell from her clothing. Clutching her charm in his hand, Nokdu follows the queen.

 
COMMENTS

As Minister Heo met his end at the hands of the king that he once believed in, I understood his inner struggle. In spite of his best intentions, King Gwanghae allowed his ambition to overtake his duty to his people, enabling him to murder his own son to thwart a shaman’s prophecy. In spite of his efforts to dethrone the king, when faced with a future king even more ruthless than King Gwanghae, Minister Heo did his best to warn his friend but it was too late. Minister Heo’s final moments, witnessed by a triumphant Yul-moo, were truly heartbreaking.

For some time it’s been hinted that Nokdu’s birthdate is significant and now that we’ve heard what the shaman had to say, I’m beginning to think that King Gwanghae targeted the wrong prince. On Nokdu’s birthday, Yul-moo hinted that it was someone else’s birthday. Is it possible that Nokdu and Yul-moo were born on the same day? If that’s the case, the shaman’s prophecy is correct and it’s King Gwanghae’s actions that will make it a reality. It’s a shame because Nokdu possesses the qualities that Minister Heo believed made for not just a good, but a great king. Nokdu’s entire existence is a testament to missed opportunities, not just for his parents, but for a country.

Because of the king’s desperate attempts to hang on to the throne, Yul-moo continues to gain support. King Gwanghae’s actions make it easy for Yul-moo to convince others that their king isn’t fit to rule. In spite of his friendly encounters with Nokdu and Dong-joo while in disguise, the king is nothing like that at the palace. Even as Nokdu begins to understand what happened the night he was born, he exhibits pity for the father that he never knew. King Gwanghae gives Nokdu a rare glimpse into the life that he was meant for and it’s not at all enticing.

There’s no question that King Gwanghae feels a connection with Nokdu, but how will he react when he learns that he’s the son that he supposedly killed? How will Nokdu deal with that truth and the fact that he can never be safe around the king? It’s obvious that the only way that King Gwanghae and Nokdu can coexist is if neither of them is king, which is exactly what’s going to happen. Gwanghae’s successor, King Injo (Yul-moo), had limited power once he took the throne and I expect to see Nokdu play some part in that, together with Ssook and others. The queen is sure to play a significant role as well in order to protect the son that she thought was dead, especially after she learns that her husband was responsible for Nokdu’s death/exile.

In spite of the palace intrigue, Nokdu and Dong-joo shared many memorable moments. The flower ring that Nokdu crafted for Dong-joo was sweet and deeply meaningful, especially because she not only accepted it but treasured it. Dong-joo fully accepted Nokdu’s heart and later, when they were alone in her room, it looked as if their relationship was about to take a significant leap until Aeng-du made her appearance. It was not only funny but it makes complete sense because Nokdu and Dong-joo don’t yet know each other’s true identities. Before their relationship goes any further, Nokdu and Dong-joo need to learn the truth about their pasts and about each other.

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On Nokdu’s birthday, Yul-moo hinted that it was someone else’s birthday. Is it possible that Nokdu and Yul-moo were born on the same day?

Ooh I remember this one, and it’s deeply plausible. I’m wondering what other surprises this drama will throw at us during the last three weeks of its run, and will anticipate every second of it with giddy excitement. I mostly enjoy sageuks, but this one is like the icing of the cake for me. And as much as Minister Heo seemed shady in the beginning, I’ve always sympathized with his character and found his ambiguity interesting - yet very human.

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The relationship between Minister Heo and his henchman, Chilseong shows what kind of person Heo Yun was. He treated low-born Chilseong as a fellow human being. treating him with respect despite their class difference. Chilseong's loyalty came from the trust and bonding they shared, which made his death all the more heartbreaking.

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This is part of the detail that makes this drama so good - Minister Heo and the king are so well fleshed put that despite knowing the former was responsible for the assassins coming after Nokdu on the island and the latter would kill both Nokdu and Dong-joo if he could, I can't bring myself to really see them as villains.

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I don't think Yul moo and Nokdu have the same birth date. I thought when Yul moo hinted that, he was talking about the King's son. Since Yul moo belongs to the royal family, he must have known about Nokdu's birth.

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Somebody has the same birthday for sure. Wether it's Yulmu or Dongju I don't know.

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Of course the reason for King to want his son dead was very stupid, it should be already a common knowledge that taking prophecies literally will only led to disaster.
Aengdu and widows reunion was much needed ray of sunshine in this bleak reality, I'm in for more coupling and I want to see what happens to villains who dare to stay between Aengdu and her meal.

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who "stand" not "stay", ugh I cannot proofread myself :/

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Aengdu's persistent love of food and how she associates tragedies and joys with it is one of my favorite things about this show.

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Sometimes I think Aeng-du+Food is the other OTP of this drama.

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Also noteworthy: Aeng-du is the only person to ever stop Dan-ho in his tracks...for daring to interrupt her meal lol.

(Seriously the look on his face when he realises.... I nearly died laughing, he's just so serious which makes it even funnier)

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So many sweet sweet kisses! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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I was literally squealing when Nokdu kissed Dongju on her forehead, eyes, nose, and mouth in her room. Their kisses were so lovely that made my heart flutter.

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How I adore this show and this couple! *sigh*

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Me too!!

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Aeng-du is the cutest and greatest cockblock ever created.

I felt that Minister Heo's death was a bit underwhelming. I am still not quite understanding his motive for dethroning the king. There has been hints that the current king was not great but Show wants us to believe that Minister Heo would overthrow the king and throw away his friendship with him for a kid (who we have no idea if he would be a good monarch or not) and then Nokdu (who he has never met). I was touched when his right-hand man cried for him but wished all of this happened in earlier episodes so as to make me root for him.

One theory I have for the ending is Dong Joo and Nokdu faking their deaths and creating new identities far away. That's the only way Yul-moo won't pursue them especially when he becomes king.

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It felt like Minister Heo lost faith in the king being someone who was committed to his people. He saw him for what he was a paranoid man who couldn't trust anyone and had no faith in himself.

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@luzitania "wants us to believe that Minister Heo would overthrow the king and throw away his friendship with him for a kid..."
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whoa, wait a minute. "for a kid" simplifies this down into a choice between an old friend and a kid and that is not what this was about AT ALL. If you had a friend that you trusted and believed in and respected his values and then that friend decided to kill his own newborn baby so he could retain power, and then that friend also had you kill another mutual friend to keep it secret... Well, that's what Heo's desire to push the king from the throne was about. Minister Heo understood the ruthless nature of the king and at times could barely stand to look at him because of it. At one point in time they had been close, but that was before the King started his violence and cutthroat pursuit of power. Minister Heo longed for those times but knew they were gone. He wanted change and hoped that Nokdu might bring change because Nokdu had been raised with values that were respectful and compassionate of others, just like the "father" that raised him.

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Exactly. Minister Heo is a schemer and made his share of mistakes, but I think the drama's been good at showing us that he really felt he had a moral imperative to take action to replace the king and also that he had enough by way of self-interest to try and cover his tracks while he was trying to get his plot in order.

He's a complicated character, and I found it interesting to have him as a 'grey area' character who's neither 'good nor 'bad', even if he acts on both sides of the moral spectrum.

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Everything you said, plus the fact that the people apparently hated and feared him. His ride through town early in the drama, when Dong-joo was trying to take a shot at him, was meant to show that. And his retaliation was to execute the innocent with the guilty. This was a big factor in Min. Heo's decision to look for someone else to be king.

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"hoped that Nokdu might bring change because Nokdu had been raised with values that were respectful and compassionate of others, just like the "father" that raised him"

But he didn't know about Nokdu when he started this whole thing. As a matter of fact, the show starts with him trying to kill Nokdu when he discovers his existence.

Don't get me wrong. The king is not a good king. I am no defending him. He is ruthless and paranoid, but if you are going to overthrow him and potentially face treason for it, you need a really good replacement who will uphold your vision.

When he started his whole treason, Nokdu wasn't an option (Minister Heo didn't even know he existed) so what's left is the king's young brother. I am assuming he was going to counsel the kid king and try to create a world through him.

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Yes, Minister Heo did know that Nokdu existed. In fact, Minister Heo allowed Nokdu's "father" to take him as a tiny infant instead of killing them on the spot as he was expected to do. Minister Heo hoped they would live as if they were dead, never to be heard of again. The fact that Minister Heo even knew where to send the assassins makes me believe that he might have kept a watch over them during that 20 years as well. But yes, Minister Heo definitely knew that Nokdu was alive. As others have pointed out, he sent the assassins to get rid of Nokdu and his family because he was beginning to fear that the King would find out about Nokdu's existence and if Minister Heo could get rid of them before the King found out, he (Minister Heo) might not get into trouble over letting them escape in the first place.

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The whole plot to overthrown the current King started before Nokdu enter the scene, we never really were shown what's the plotters endgame was at the start or what exactly King done to them. Frankly all we were shown as King evil doing were no stranger to other Kings that were deemed good rulers.

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I feel like they thought he'd got too violent and bloodthirsty? Which was apparently part of the real Gwanghae's rep.

The initial plan was to put Prince Yeongchang on the throne, but the plotters obviously didn't want to do that while he was still a child.

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Or maybe they did. Trying to shape the child into the king they wanted him to be?

(Minister Heo is dead, so it's just wild speculations at this stage)

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I like your faking deaths suggestion. I want them to stay together, be happy and healthy. Nokdu’s character may make a good King but not at the sacrifice of his love for DJ. I don’t like the wicked YM to become king, but whatever as long as he stays away from Nokdu & DJ lol

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Happy ending please!!

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Please excuse me while I swoon over Nokdu's hands shaking too hard to even touch Dong-joo after they kiss. And the adorably flustered attempt to understand his own reaction to it ❤❤❤❤

And also the bedroom cuddles/kissing, this drama knows its greatest strength and makes the most of it. That was pure swoon right there, with the face-touching and the kiss. And despite Aeng-du interrupting them, I love that everyone in-drama ships Nokdu/Dong-joo as hard as we do, minus Yul-moo of course.

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I don't understand why Nokdu is a threat to the King? He doesn't have a heir, so he needs one. Yul Moo needed the heir to show the treason of Minister Heo but if he wants the throne, he's the one who needs to kill the official heir. He already killed the stepbrother.

I'm not sure what we have to think about the King... He's crazy? Mad? Bad? Good? Stupid? All of that?

Fortunately, there is the couple and now they ended the "No, I don't like you and and I don't care about you" talk, they're cute :) Until they learn she's trying to kill his father... I don't want this part >_<

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Nokdu himself isn't a threat but what the king did to him becoming public knowledge, is. If that makes sense.

By the looks of it, if the king hadn't freaked out over the prophecy, Nokdu - as his firstborn son with the queen - would be his legitimate heir. But attempted baby murder tends to make kings unpopular, and the king isn't super popular with the public at the moment anyway (not to mention threatening his marriage).

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The king is paranoid and unstable. He's still got the capacity for compassion but he's still very insecure about his position. I'm not supporting him.

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I'm rooting for the king to redeem himself because he's shown he isn't just some monster, but his paranoia and inability to take dissent are the biggest dangers to Nok-du and Dong-joo, both in their infancy/childhood and now.

It's sad because so many of his troubles are things he's brought upon himself. It's not lost on me that he's turned against/tried to kill both his most trusted advisers at different points in time (and actually killed Chancellor Heo), and driven them both to defy him at the cost of their lives.

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Even though I understand the motivations of the character I don't agree with his actions. Keeping that in mind I can't forgive and support him.

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That's absolutely understandable, I think whether or not he should be forgiven (rationality says he's gone too far) is a matter of individual perspective.

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This episode was full of adorable and swoony moments between our OTP <3 <3. I couldn't help but squeal whenever they were being cute with each other!!
Nokdu being all nervous after kissing Dong Joo was so cute.
It was really funny when Aeng du interrupted their kiss, embarrassing them in the process. She just came in like a boss without a care..haha!!!
And yay our widows are back!
The King is a pitiful character. It was sad to see the the friendship and trust between him and Minister Heo slowly being destroyed because of their ambitions. It was clear how much Minister Heo admired the King for his compassion towards the people. The King's sincerity seemed genuine but he was so obsessed with becoming the King in order to help his people that he didn't realise that his very obsession is harming the people around him. The fact that he was made crown prince only because of the war made him more insecure about his position and he was ready to get rid of his son just so he could have the chance to become King. This definitely doesn't justify his actions and I hope he gets his due punishment.

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What really kills me about the Interrupted kiss was Dong-joo doing that little crab-like sideways scoot back into the bed lol (and the looks of utter mortification on their faces as Aeng-du told them exactly what she saw 😂). Kim So-hyun is comedy gold!

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Haha ya that was hilarious!! :D
Also I loved that Nokdu and Dong Joo were still holding hands even with Aeng du in the middle as if they couldn't get enough of each other.

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The handholding was the cutest! Probably just as well she barged in on them, it was threatening to get a bit steamy in there!

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Steamy is good!! HAHAHA!!

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@ninjabolt - well, I wouldn't have been against a Fight My Way-style fourth-wall-breaking popup saying 'this show is 15+rated so please imagine the rest' lol!

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Aengdu and our OTP are the best. I love love a forehead kiss, so I was a puddle after that. As for the rest I really don't care.

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The OTP has stolen my heart and run away with it. Whoosh!

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Same here!

But with that chemistry, how could they not? It's pure 🔥 🔥.

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Love them!! They have so much chemistry!!

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The only fact she withheld from the well was the no food, cold water? Swimming? Darkness? It's nothing compared to the no food :p

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Right, I felt that!!!

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I am hoping some things might get revealed next episode. But I am worried what effect it might have on Dong Joo and Nokdu's relationship. As for any twists that might happen there are still 5(10) episodes left, but I hope I don't get another nasty surprise.
Minister Heo's death was indeed heartbreaking. I still don't quite get why he sent assassins after Nokdu and his family though, did I miss something? The King makes it harder to feel much sympathy for him.
I loved the reunion scene. Aeng Du used to annoy me before but she has come to grow on me. She's just too funny.
I still miss the earlier episodes, sigh.

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I'm with you @amy1009 in that I don't quite understand the assassins in the beginning as Minister Heo later wanted Nokdu as a replacement. Maybe the change of plans came because of the death of the young half brother who would have replaced the king. Even still though, killing Nokdu and his family off doesn't really make a lot of sense since they were living a quiet life on that island and others.
As for worrying about Dong Joo and Nokdu's relationship once they know all the details of their birthrights, I'm not too worried about it. It seems to me like Nokdu would not get too worked up over Dong Joo's desire to kill the king because he probably would try to find a resolution. But there is definitely a foreshadowing of bad things to come when the daisy ring fell from her finger. That is a classic warning to us to prepare ourselves for some type of disaster. So, I am guessing the relationship will hit some more bumps soon, or worse.

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Assassins were necessary to bring Nokdu to widow's village ;)

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Oh but it was so excessive as at least 3 of the assassin's died in the attempt and the "brother" was stabbed. Looking back at it, there is a real sadness for the loss of the assassins (that sounds really ridiculous to say, doesn't it?) If they wanted Nokdu it seems like there would be other ways to entice him to come with them.

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The objective wasn't to hide him in the widows' village, it was to kill the family outright - it's just luck that Master Hwang and Nok-du were trained martial artists, and able to defend. Nok-du shadowed Lady Min all the way to the widow village, which is how he even came to know it existed.

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That's right, @pogo and Lady Min continued to plot to kill him with the poisoned meal and such. It must have been around the time of the death of the young half brother of the king that Nokdu was removed from the hit list and considered a possibility.

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@zzthorn - yeah, that's why Nokdu himself pointed out to his dad that Minister Heo was changing sides to suit himself - first trying to kill them, now trying to save them. It's definitely opportunistic, but I see what Minister Heo was going for.

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I swooned over that daisy ring (and the very courtly kiss on her hand), it's so fresh and pretty - perfect for our OTP! But yeah, definitely a foreboding feeling when it fell off her hand. ....

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I don't feel like I've ever seen such a gentlemanly kiss on the hand before in Kdramas. Period British dramas with princesses and kings, yes. Kdramas, I don't think so. I love it. Does anyone have a screencap of it?

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Yeah I've never seen a sageuk do that either - it's a trope right out of British period dramas, but new to the Korean setting. Which is probably why I love it even more ❤.

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@bdxpelik There, I just took screenshots of this for you and posted them to my wall which is empty except for those 2 photos. So you can go there for the screenshots of the ring and the kiss on the hand.

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@zzthorn - I saw that! Thank you ❤❤❤

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My heart fluttered when Nokdu kissed her on the hand. The whole scene with him putting the daisy ring on her finger and Dong Joo back hugging him was magical! I loved that Younha's 'Shine on you' was playing in the background. This song warms my heart whenever it plays especially during the swing scene.

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That's the song whose instrumental version plays over the scene where Nok-du sees Dong-joo cut off her braid, isn't it? I love it too, both vocal and especially the instrumental.

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It was very swoony!!

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@amy1009 @zzthorn Minister Heo sent the assassins after realising that Yun-jeo had been seen in public (when he went to the mainland to get medicine for his sick wife) ..... and the person who saw and spoke to him, mentioned it to the king.

I can only assume Minister/Chancellor Heo was trying to kill Nokdu and his family this time as a coverup so there wouldn't be any trace of the fact that he didn't kill Yun-jeo and the almost-murdered baby Nokdu twenty years ago, and that he actually let them go.

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Ah that makes sense.

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Ah yes, that definitely sounds logical. Makes perfect sense.

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I've been thinking about Dong-joo's assassination plan, and realised something - when she left Nokdu while he was still recovering from the attack on the widow village, she headed to Hanyang with every intention of single-mindedly focusing on her plan to enter the palace and assassinate the king, which would end in her own death.

Her spotting Nokdu on the run from the king's guards at the end of episode 8, was actually not something she'd ever expected, and it explains a lot of her continued resistance to Nokdu until the well rescue - in her mind, she's already set her plan in motion, and she can't afford either distractions to herself or a risk to someone else. That scene in in her plotting lair where she cries about wanting to stay with him and apologising to her mother (but leaving anyway) is basically perfect to sum up Dong-joo's state of mind - she loves him and she knows it, but she can't afford to take it any further.

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[cont'd. ] It took nearly dying TWICE to get her to deal with how she feels about him (had she died in the attack on the widow village, the last words she spoke would have been his name).

But her plan has been the basis for her entire life since her rescue from that pit of corpses, and I get why she's so hellbent on it - she's still traumatised by what was done to her and her family (most definitely has some form of what we now know as PTSD) and this is the only way she knows to deal with it. Well, until fate landed Nokdu back in her orbit.

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I think this is a really weak point in the plot. I can understand how she would hate the king for destroying her family and for her own very traumatic experience. But it's a huge step from hating the king to plotting to assassinate the king. How is a young girl from the country supposed to pull that off? And does she really have what it takes, deep down, to kill someone? But since the writer put her in this position, I can only hope that the writer plans to help her out of it. Somehow she has to make peace with the past and move on with her own life.

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I think point of plotting revenge is meant more of a life goal. The pain of living after losing all your loved ones must have been unbearable. Setting a goal must have been her coping mechanism to stay alive. Which is why her attempts at asssasinating the king have been poorly planned suicidal missions. The lesson to take away for her would be forgiveness and I assume to realize that when her mother said to live it didn't mean for revenge. It meant to live a full and meaningful life with love and happiness.

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I agree. It's a life goal and coping mechanism for DJ and she admitted as much during the confession scene. It was her only reason to live. She thought she could die happy and join her mom once she kills the King. And Yul Mu is aware of it too since he told his bodyguard that the only reason he let DJ do whatever she pleased before was because he knew she was barely hanging by a thread and it was the only thing keeping her alive.

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It's possible that she is also suffering from survivor's guilt, a common symptom of PTSD. I agree that her actions suggest that she is suicidal and had she not met Nokdu, she would have never hesitated to carry out her revenge plan. Nokdu has been saving her since day one when he had bumped into her, thus thwarting her assassination attempt.
Also the swing scene was instrumental in showing how Dong Joo has started to appreciate life more, her expressions showed that she was enjoying the swing ride after so many years while having the bittersweet memories of her family.

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@samroy - oh yes, there's a heaping dose of survivor's guilt there too, based on her words about feeling sorry to her mother for wanting to stay with Nokdu. Poor Dong-joo, she's had to go through a lot :/

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Not necessarily - if you look at the list of real-life people who've assassinated or attempted to assassinate a monarch/head of state, it's often civilians with a grudge - which is exactly what Dong-Joo is.

Also, she can put herself in that kind of danger precisely because she thinks of herself as having no one left to care for (and no one who would be endangered by association with her, the way family would be).

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I wrote a reply on the comment below. I couldn't figure out how to reply to both the comments simultaneously.

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@Helena - no worries, I saw it.

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Not necessary, you probably never heard of Shi Jianqiao, but she did exactly what DJ wanted to do in China in 1935, except she didn't kill the king but warlord who killed her father. You can read more here https://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/4273

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My point was that I don't think DJ is thinking rationally about why she wants to kill the king. The impression I got was that she just wants to die and killing the king is a means to do that. The trauma she suffers from has rendered her incapable of thinking clearly which is why ND is a source of conflict for her. I think she just wants to meet her family it's not even an actual need for revenge. She just uses it as crutch to not betray the words of her mother. She needs to learn to forgive herself for being alive.

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@Helena - I don't see a plot weakness in Dong-joo being driven by revenge - anger isn't a rational emotion, and the drama has made it clear that Dong-joo has good reason to be very angry.

That's the bedrock of her life after her family was murdered, and it makes sense that she feels some kind of duty to take out the king at all costs, or at least try. So yes, I can see why she'd reject Nokdu and try to run away from him because her feelings for him make her want to live (in her view) selfishly and cast aside her plans to avenge her family.

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Ah I think I'm not expressing myself properly. I'm sorry. The plot for DJ has not been written poorly. In fact I completely understand her motivations and KSH is doing a great job manifesting the internal conflict. What I was trying to express is that the need for revenge that DJ has is something she feels strongly about rather than something she thinks meticulously about. I think it's hard for her to be strategic about how she should kill him but she knows very clearly what the consequences of her actions will be. I think she's more focused on the the consequences rather than the act of revenge itself. But I can be completely wrong. What I enjoy a lot about this show is that the motivations for the characters actions are more complicated than they appear on the surface. It's an intersection of many different internal and external conflicts.

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@Helena - thanks for clarifying! I absolutely agree that, as you put it, Dong-joo's revenge is more something she feels strongly about than something she's thought out completely.

She's obviously put some pains into the prep, what with the weapons and her little plotting lair and her scheme to bribe/charm the royal servants into letting her work in the palace, but actually getting close enough to strike seems to be her undoing, and that's something she hasn't realised yet.

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I think less than this being a weak plot point is that it's not been written as strongly as it should be. As others have pointed out, it's been hinted at that the only thing keeping Dongju going is her plan to avenge her family - until Nokdu showed up and gave her a reason to live. I wish we'd see a little more of her grappling with this. We got a bit more of it in the last episode, especially when she was down in the well and she has finally come face-to-face with her own mortality. I think what happened to her during the massacre wasn't enough of a wake-up simply because she was near-death due to the actions of others, whereas here she was near-death by her own devices. This is important because it means she's stopped seeing things on a micro level, and she's started looking at the bigger picture. I think that's important because that is what will ultimately bring her and Nokdu together. It's not just a corrupted king (or at least one easily persuaded towards corrupt acts) but rather its a whole system which needs to be redone.

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I think Dong-joo's suicide mission has been pretty convincingly written as a motivation/background for a lot of her actions, starting from the very first time we see her in girl clothes, cutting off her hair to save the little girl (not to mention the first time we see her at all, she's imagining how to kill the king). It's been a pretty consistent throughline with her character anyway, and I do think she's written in a way that it makes sense for her loss and her revenge plans to influence her attitude to Nokdu (or any possible romantic interest - she'd been rebuffing Yul-moo for years by this point, and going by their conversation at her old house when she followed Nokdu to Hanyang, it was influenced by not only a lack of attraction to him, but her future plans leaving no room to contemplate any other outcome.

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Also, she's tried to leave Nokdu twice now - once after the widow village massacre, the other time just last episode when she was back on the assassination track and left his favourite okchundang with Master Hwang....before being caught by Lord Park and nearly killed by her fall down the well.

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@pogo1
I agree that she's been solidly written and acted in terms of Dong-joo's motivation/background, my issue is less that it's not as prominent a part of her character as it seems it should be, if that makes sense. As you point out, we know that this is what keeps her going - but largely because we're constantly told this and less that we see this. I know that we've seen her want to kill the king, and we know her motivations now, but, to me, it could have been more clearly done. While her desire to see the king dead is clear, and her lack of cart for her own well-being in this endeavor is also clear, it took too long to get there. I think by throwing the romance into the mix we see her doggedness in her mission more, and I like that because it gives her a genuine conflict for character growth and adds nuance to her actions. I just wish that nuance had been present from the start that she's basically suicidal in her attempts (I guess I'm saying we got hints but no clear resolution until later). I kind of feel like Dong-joo's mission to kill the king never felt urgent until after the massacre. I think that seeing the urgency would have given her a bit more depth early on. But really, this is just a stupid nit for me to pick in what is otherwise a pretty wonderful show.

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@snarkyjellyfish - I get what you mean, but I do think we're shown its effects on Dong-joo's psyche - sure, she can still laugh and joke with her friends in the gibang, but she's got a pretty nihilistic/won't-get-attached outlook on a lot of things and plenty of unresolved trauma (right down to her fear of the dark, or her going to the pervert noble under duress - albeit the latter was motivated by a desire to spare her protectress and the gibang), and I can't help but see that as something coloured by her plans.

Also, I think it makes sense that the massacre at the widow village is the catalyst that gives her plan actual urgency - it meant her home and shelter of several years was now gone, and she had nowhere to go from there except to carry out her plot.

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Even if you think it's realistic for her to plot the assassination, it's still valid to ask, does she have what it takes to kill someone? It's one thing to plot and another to take a life.

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I think that's a question she herself is still going through the wringer about, and the show makes it clear she has a hard time when she's actually psyching herself up to pull the trigger. That doesn't cancel out her fury and revenge being the only thing that kept her going all those years, just....she's facing the exact question you're asking, in-drama.

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It is the question she asks herself this week. Though even if she isn't capable she still feels a commitment to go through with it. Its her survivors guilt taking a toll on her.

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Also - I didn't notice the rainbow while they kissed either! That's a nice detail to add in, I didn't think they'd do that for a scene shot with (I assume) a rain machine of some sort.

(Also kissing in the rain looks incredibly romantic but I do hope the actors got properly dried off afterwards! November in Korea gets cold, and they're live shooting.)

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The kisses were so romantic and natural!! The actors are so comfortable with each other!!

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Thank you for the recap! This episode gave me all the feels - from all the romantic Nokdu and Dong Joo moments (my favorite may be when they were in bed together and then sprang apart when Aeng-du arrived. It was hilarious since Dong Joo was worried about someone barging in and Nokdu was like who would barge in this late?) and the Queen+Nokdu moments (even when they're not in the same scene) also really hit me in the gut. I really like the Queen (I feel like she could sense Yul-moo is a piece of crap) and want her to find the son she had been mourning all these years.

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I love the authority the Queen exudes, and the fact that she was the one to put Yul-moo in his place and order his hands off Dong-joo.

Also I love the scenes with the Queen and Nokdu, it's so bittersweet to see him realise these are his parents but he can never tell them that. Especially with his look at the Queen's broken jade charm matching his bit of it T_T

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The female characters are really great in this show. Not a single one has made me sigh with irritation. I'm glad the writer has given equal weightage to both the male and female lead characters.

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The writer has managed to keep both her male and female characters balanced. Not just the leads but the supporting characters as well. I like the writing for the drama. It's not contrived.

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The female characters of Nokdu are the best, but aside from our OTP, I have a special soft corner for Ssook (I would totally watch her drama, no joke - a young widow who escapes death to become an assassin? Drama catnip, love interest not needed).

Jo Soo-hyang is absolutely killing it, she gets Ssook's mixture of composure, suspicion, occasional concern and vulnerability so well.

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Ssook and Aeng du are my favourite female supporting characters.
I loved how Ssook's character was portrayed. I was wary of her the most among the Muweol Corps members, because she seemed more sly and smarter than the others and it felt like she was always watching Nokdu with hawkeyes. But I can see why she is considered the leader among them, she is more compassionate and always thinks before she acts. I enjoyed watching the growing fondness and respect between Nokdu and her.

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I wish for an edit option so that I won't have to delete my comments everytime I make a typo.

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The writing does justice to the female characters but so does the acting. They are all strong and independent in their own ways. I'm taking a liking to the Queen recently. She hasn't had many scenes but the few short scenes of her character were well written and acting was great.

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No one breaks my heart more in this show than the King. I never expected him to be important let alone steal the show when I first started and I'm morbidly enjoying how complicated he is.
And the scenes Nokdu shares with his real parents makes me wanna tear my heart out and beat it to a pulp. Figuratively.

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I thought he had to be an important character since the actor who was cast to play off was just in Sky Castle. He probably wouldn't have taken this role if it was too small/one-dimensional.

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*cast to play him, not play off.

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Same here! His troubles are all of his own making, but it's hard not to feel sad for him when we see his more human side on his incognito strolls. The scenes between him and Minister Heo this episode just about broke me, both were so close once that they're genuinely devastated by the other's turn to the dark side (the king) and betrayal (Minister Heo).

I'm really enjoying this drama's supporting leads too, which is incredibly rare in sageuk dramas...and doubly so considering these are supposed to be antagonists!

(But not just antagonists, I love Ssook too - in another drama, she could easily be the female lead of her own storyline. I love that they're all so well drawn)

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My heart fluttered throughout this episode!! So good!! All the kisses and dates so sweet!!

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So happy its Monday again!!

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Amen! (A very unusual occurrence for me)

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Mon-Tue are now my favourite days of the week. For a while longer anyway.

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