Gu Family Book: Episode 9
Cute. Now that Kang-chi has a new home to settle into, there’s a little breathing room for comedy and relationships to develop. Not to worry though—there’s still a spot of life-threatening violence to keep things interesting, not only for Kang-chi but for Yeo-wool as well, who finds that staying out of Kang-chi’s business is becoming harder and harder to do, the more she cares.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Ji-young – “Love Is Blowing” [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
We open in the courtyard of Master Dam Pyung-joon’s martial arts school, where a very hypnotized Tae-seo skewers Kang-chi in a murderous rage, believing that he killed Father.
Kang-chi falls to his knees before he can even say a word of defense, and Tae-seo raises his sword again, ready to strike…
But it’s Yeo-wool’s sword he meets. Thank goodness. Took you long enough. Not caring that Tae-seo walked up with a sword in his hand is one thing (everyone here carries one, sure) but the amount of time the entire yard full of armed warriors spent rubbernecking was starting to get silly.
Tae-seo tells her to get out of his way, but she doesn’t back down, and it gives Gon enough time to sneak up behind him and knock him unconscious with one swift blow to the back of the head.
Yeo-wool rushes to Kang-chi, who collapses in her arms.
At the gisaeng house, Chung-jo challenges top dog Wol-sun, declaring that she already traded her pride for a bowl of porridge so she has nothing else to lose. Wol-sun just throws the liquor right back in her face and strips off her clothes.
All her minions do the same, and they toss them at Chung-jo, with the order to have them washed by tomorrow morning.
In the aftermath of the stabbing, Tae-seo kneels before Master Dam and swears that he saw Kang-chi kill his father. Gon cocks an eyebrow at that since he was there, and Master Dam can tell this is more than a simple misunderstanding. He asks who else was there when it happened, and Tae-seo can’t remember. He only swears up and down that Kang-chi did it.
Master Dam tells Yeo-wool that it must be a spell using the power of suggestion, and says the only way to break its influence is to kill the person who cast it. And if he can’t be found, Tae-seo stays this way until the end. Yeo-wool: “Until the end of what? Until Kang-chi is dead?”
Kang-chi continues to bleed profusely while he lies unconscious, and he has a flashback to happier days with Tae-seo, when they sat under a tree looking over the inn. Tae-seo asks what Kang-chi’s dream is, and he says it’s just to live here at the Hundred Year Inn with the family for a long long time.
Tae-seo says his dream is to be like his father someday, and Kang-chi says he’s halfway there with the managing of the estate, and all he needs is to get married. He wonders if what Chung-jo says is true—is he afraid of girls?
Tae-seo insists he isn’t, so then Kang-chi guesses he must have a girl in mind. Ruh-roh. I think I have a guess which girl. Tae-seo refuses to tell him, so Kang-chi launches into a ticklefest. Awww. They’re so cute.
We come back to Tae-seo in the present, shedding a tear at the bittersweet memory. Was it his flashback all along, or did they just have a bro-mind-meld?
Chung-jo finishes doing the giant load of laundry, only to have the girls come back and stomp all over them, insisting they’re still dirty. Wol-sun watches with a smile, and Chung-jo fights back her angry tears and picks them up to start all over. Madam Soo-ryun hears about what’s going on but doesn’t interfere, leaving Chung-jo to navigate her own way through these shark-infested waters.
Yeo-wool paces back and forth outside Kang-chi’s room, and asks how he’s doing. Not well—if he keeps bleeding like that he won’t last the night. She goes inside to sit by his bedside, and runs her fingers along the scars on his arm, from the two times he saved her life.
She notices the bracelet on his wrist, and remembers what she saw that first night in the woods. When it came off, his wounds healed over instantly. Yeah, but remember that pesky side effect, with the bloody bodies?
She reaches over to take it off… Ack, this makes me nervous…
Suddenly So-jung’s voice rings out, telling her she can’t do it. Er? Is he here? Oh, it’s just her memory of the last conversation she had with him. Flashback: So-jung tries to talk sense into her, not to get further entangled in Kang-chi’s life. He tells her that giving and receiving feelings is something to be done between two people.
She argues that Kang-chi is trying to become human, and she wants to help him with that. And in any case, he thinks she’s a boy, so their feelings don’t go beyond friendship. So-jung sighs and asks for her promise then, that she’ll never be more than friends, and that she won’t interfere in his fate.
She hadn’t answered then, but now in the present she thinks to herself that she’s sorry, but she can’t stand by and watch Kang-chi die. So she makes the decision, squeezes her eyes shut… and yanks the bracelet off.
But nothing. Nothing happens. She tries to wake him up, but he doesn’t move, and she opens up the bandage to check his wound. It’s still there and bleeding. Was there a time limit on that thing?
Then suddenly a little blue light floats in front of her eyes, and then another, and another. Whew. They work their little blue magic and heal over the wound, and she lets out a breath of relief.
But Kang-chi darts awake, and as expected, sans bracelet he’s a green-eyed feral growlypants. He knocks her into the candle behind her, and the room goes dark as he hovers over her, ready to claw her heart out.
Gon hears a disturbance and goes running. Kang-chi asks what she was doing to him, and despite the hand on her throat, she ekes out that it was to heal his wound. He remembers Tae-seo stabbing him, and at least lets go of his death grip on her.
He’s still growling in attack mode, but she sticks the bracelet out on her hand and reminds him that he has to put it back on. She asks for his hand. It’s not unlike puppy training. Just sayin’.
He doesn’t look like he’s going to give in, but she calls out his name, “Kang-chi-ya…” and it works. He fixates on his name and listens to her, reaching his hand out to hers. She comes closer and puts the bracelet back on his wrist, and his eyes return to normal.
He immediately faints… right on top of her, of course. And that’s exactly when Gon comes running in. Hahahaha. Poor Gon.
Yeo-wool just asks for his help, calm as you please, and he just stands there blink-blink-blinking. He holds Kang-chi up while she re-bandages him, just to keep appearances up since not everyone knows about his half-gumiho-ness.
Once she’s done, Gon drops the sleeping Kang-chi like a hot potato and storms outside. She follows him out to ask if he’s going to tell Dad on her, and he asks which part—the part where she took off his bracelet, or the part where doing that almost killed her.
She doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but he points out her bleeding arm, and says that if he does anything to harm her, he’ll kill Kang-chi himself. And in the distance is Tae-seo, who now seemingly has even more reason to hate Kang-chi.
Soo-ryun finds Chung-jo asleep in the yard late that night, after rewashing the giant load of laundry. She tells her to follow, and takes her to the room where her drums are kept.
She tells Chung-jo that most people think gisaengs do nothing but pour liquor and sell their bodies, but she believes that it’s also an opportunity for a woman to learn new things, and have dreams beyond a restricted life.
She says the ruin of her family doesn’t need to mean it’s the end of a woman’s life, and tells Chung-jo to learn how to play the drums, and begin a new life here. Ah, she’s grooming her to follow in her footsteps.
Master Dam gets the news that Kang-chi up and disappeared, and Yeo-wool takes off running. Turns out he didn’t go very far, since the kitchen boy finds him crouched by the stove, stuffing his face with potatoes.
He asks if there isn’t anything better to eat, say with legs attached: “I don’t care if it’s two legs or four.” But the boy says Gong Dal keeps the meat under lock and key. Kang-chi asks where so he can break in, not realizing that the man is standing right behind him.
He gets whapped with a broom by the old man repeatedly for his rudeness, and basically gets brought to his knees with a few swift strikes. Yeo-wool shows up to drag him out by the ear, and Kang-chi gapes to see the old man suddenly limp away like he can barely stand. Ha. I like this character.
Yeo-wool nags him for running around when he’s supposed to be nearly dead from a stabbing, and Kang-chi whines that he was starving. She warns him that life here will be hard if he gets on the teacher’s bad side, and Kang-chi guffaws that he’s just the old kitchen fogey.
That just makes her regret risking her life to save him, and he asks if she was the one who took his bracelet off. She says he would’ve bled to death otherwise, and he says, “Thank you.” She freezes in shock that he actually said the words.
Kang-chi: “Thank you for saving my life. But don’t do it again… I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want to hurt you.” Augh, stop making her swoon. She’s trying not to fall in love with you.
Gon interrupts, dressed in something other than black today, and sporting even uglier hair, if that’s possible. Sigh. Yeo-wool drags Kang-chi away by the ear before he can start another fight with Gon.
Kang-chi is at least well-mannered enough to bow to Dam Pyung-joon, though Yeo-wool has to teach him to use the title master around here. Master Dam sits them down and has Tae-seo brought in as well, but blindfolded for everyone’s safety.
He tells both boys that he’s taking them in because of his friendship with Park Mu-sol, but they still have to pass the entrance evaluation to be accepted as students. Kang-chi asks who determines whether they stay or go, and Master Dam says that the four head teachers will watch them and give their evaluations. Ha, knowing his luck, Kitchen Fogey is their leader.
He tells Kang-chi to avoid Tae-seo at all costs, until they can figure out how to undo his spell. But Kang-chi reels to hear that it’s just a spell. He turns to Tae-seo and shouts that he won’t stay away. He cries that he didn’t save Tae-seo, that Han-no and Chung-jo didn’t sacrifice themselves, just so he could fall prey to some stupid illusion.
He yells at Tae-seo to snap out of it and refuses to stay out of his way until he gets his head on straight, no matter how many times he gets stabbed. Heh, I both like and hate your answer. He storms out, where the kitchen fogey is waiting to tell him to eat before hobbling away.
Tae-seo seems to have enough control not to try killing Kang-chi as long as he’s blindfolded. Once he’s out of the room, Tae-seo takes off the blindfold and says that Kang-chi’s always been a hothead, which is why he doesn’t want to include him in their mission.
Yeo-wool and Gon get filled in on said mission, as Tae-seo shows Master Dam the drawing he made of the Hundred Year Inn. He points to where the secret safe is located, and Master Dam explains that they plan to raid it without Jo Gwan-woong ever knowing.
Easier said than done, as Jo Gwan-woong is currently being advised to rip up his entire floor and have it remade to fix the hole Kang-chi drilled in it. Worse yet, he’s gone through Park Mu-sol’s accounting books, and knows that the richest man in the county can’t have made so little.
He has head servant Choi dragged in, after being tortured. He threatens to kill him on the spot if he doesn’t tell him the truth, and demands to know if there’s a secret storage room on the grounds. Choi either doesn’t know or risks his life to keep the secret, because he says he knows nothing.
Yeo-wool doesn’t see how they’re going to move that much silver right under Jo Gwan-woong’s nose, but Master Dam has a plan. In walks the contractor who was just ordered to redo Jo Gwan-woong’s floors. Nice.
A flashback reveals that Lee Soon-shin came up with the plan after he was called to the inn and saw the hole Kang-chi made in the floor. He says this is all thanks to Kang-chi, and says that he doesn’t know why, but he thinks that boy will change the tide in their favor. Dam Pyung-joon isn’t so sure, and asks if he really trusts Kang-chi.
Lee Soon-shin says that in a world where people are constantly giving up the things that make them human, Kang-chi is fighting to become one. “Aren’t you curious what kind of person he dreams of becoming?”
Kang-chi makes his way into the dining room, where he lights up at the rows and rows of tables lined with delicious food. The other students enter, and the one who treated Kang-chi’s wounds last night is surprised to see him up and about.
Kang-chi says brightly that he’s fine, only to remember belatedly that he’s supposed to be weak and healing, and adds a cringing “ow” at the end. He’s told that the last table is his, so he skips over expectantly… and finds one bowl of plain rice porridge and a side of soy sauce.
He looks back and forth from his table to the others and finally snaps. He storms into the kitchen where the old man is gnawing into a chicken leg, and Kang-chi throws his bowl of food on the ground.
He argues that this is no way to treat people, but the old man points out matter-of-factly that he is not a person. To make his point, he sticks the end of his broom into Kang-chi’s stomach where his wound is already healed.
Kang-chi warns that the old man could get hurt, which just makes him laugh, and he tells Kang-chi that if he can take the broom out of his hands he can have the entire chicken sitting on the counter.
Kang-chi’s eyes light up and he attacks, which of course leads to him lying on the ground clutching his unmentionables and asking who on earth the old kitchen fogey really is. He introduces himself as Gong Dal, one of the four head teachers, called Teacher Jook Dal by all the students, after the bamboo stick that never leaves his side.
Yeo-wool treats her arm wound, which is hurting her more than she’s letting on. She joins Tae-seo and the small team gathered for the Hundred Years Inn mission, and asks after Kang-chi. Tae-seo says it’s already been decided that he can’t be a part of this, while she argues that he knows the place better than anybody and they could use the help. Seriously, isn’t this more like an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation?
Tae-seo thinks it’s too dangerous even for Yeo-wool, and she raises an eyebrow at that comment. “Do you think of me as a woman? Because I’m a woman, for that reason alone—not being able to help—that would be unfair.”
I love how boldly she speaks her mind. Tae-seo is taken aback, while Gon smiles. Tae-seo apologizes for hurting her feelings, but Yeo-wool says it’s the same for Kang-chi, and how hurt he’d feel not being able to help. She says she doesn’t know what it’s like to be under a spell, but she hopes that he not lose a good friend over it.
Kang-chi scrubs dishes in the kitchen as Teacher Gong supervises, and complains about being worked so hard on an empty stomach. That just earns him a threat to be kicked out of the school, and Kang-chi pipes up to ask if there are any other chores that need doing. Heh.
Teacher Gong sidles up to him to say that he heard a rumor about Kang-chi being close to Lee Soon-shin, and hooks him into a wager, betting that he can’t prove that they’re close. Kang-chi swears that he can, so the old man asks him to put the school on the line—if he loses, he leaves forever.
That makes him hesitate, but Teacher Gong knows how to yank on his pride in just the right way to make Kang-chi cave. He makes the old man promise to fulfill a wish if he wins, and then asks what proof he wants.
Jo Gwan-woong arrives at the gisaeng house to stay a few days while they repair his floors. That’s great for Yeo-wool and the gang, but not so great for Chung-jo, who catches his eye immediately upon his arrival. He lays a creepy hand on her chin as Soo-ryun looks on warily.
Kang-chi arrives at the Hundred Year Inn, disguised as one of the workers. Huh, is this what Teacher Gong’s bet was about? By the time Yeo-wool and Gon make their way inside, Kang-chi is already sitting there waiting.
He asks how he can help, but once Yeo-wool finds out that he didn’t come under orders from Dad, she tells him that he can’t be involved. But as they talk Kang-chi notices Yeo-wool sweating, and puts a hand to her forehead.
Gon gets in his face immediately, but Kang-chi says she’s burning up. She insists it’s nothing, but Kang-chi feels her forehead again, and this time Gon grabs him by the collar. These boys.
They’re so busy bickering and collar-grabbing that they don’t hear Jo Gwan-woong’s head minion coming towards them until he’s just outside. They panic, and the head contractor holds him off for as long as he can.
When he comes inside, Gon is the only one in the room, and the minion orders them to take down the painting on the wall, because it’s the boss’s favorite and he wouldn’t want it damaged.
But as we know, that’s the door into the secret storage room, and right now, where Kang-chi and Yeo-wool happen to be hiding. Crap.
They overhear through the wall, so Kang-chi signals at her to step back, but she trips. He lurches forward to catch her, and one hand lands around her waist… while the other one lands, er, elsewhere. Nothing like a handful of boob to turn your world upside-down.
No one’s more surprised than Kang-chi, who looks down at his hand and then up at Yeo-wool, while not removing his hand, might I add. Naughty boy. She panics. The man-jig is totally up.
But the bigger problem is that Evil Minion on the other side of the wall heard them, and tells Gon to move aside. Ruh-roh.
He knows! He knoooooooows! I was wondering how long they could keep her secret going if Tae-seo and Kang-chi were going to be on speaking terms, given that one of them calls her Miss Yeo-wool and the other calls her Young Master Dam. It’s not like Gon, who purposely lies for her, so one of them calling her name in front of the other would pretty much have outed the gender-bending ruse.
I’m happy that her secret’s out, since we’ve been waiting forever for Kang-chi to wake up and smell the destiny, but I am going to miss their easygoing friendship. Now they’re going to be awkward about the touching and the like, which of course is fun in a different way. I did like that Kang-chi treated her very differently from the other boys in her life—the way she wanted to be treated, as an equal (something I’m glad she had the chance to express in this episode). The real test will be if he can manage to do the same when he knows the truth, or if he’ll tell her to sit on the sidelines like Tae-seo did.
I’m still confused about the bracelet’s rules, because I thought there was a no-backsies clause on this new one, but I guess it’s a little looser than I understood it to be—he can take it off, but he just can’t break it. I think. Who knows with the monk’s arbitrary rules. He’ll likely show up in a month and say, “Oops, you didn’t do the hokey pokey after the seventh time. You can never be human now.”
I’m getting a kick out of the martial arts academy hijinks, with the funny old teachers and trying to get Kang-chi socialized and abiding rules. It provides a nice home base for the characters, and a good source of comedy, which is what I wanted out of this new stretch of story. We’ve had enough tears for one lifetime, maybe two, with much more drama to come, so I’ll take all the lighthearted fun I can get.
Well, yunno, all the lighthearted fun that happens when Tae-seo isn’t trying to stab him. I’m not really sure how blindfolding him is a solution (not a permanent one, obviously) or how the spell really works. Is it only tied to Kang-chi visually because of the literal command to kill him on sight? Because he seems to have his memories and faculties in order and can even talk to him, even though he still believes that Kang-chi killed his father, despite knowing he’s under a spell. It’s almost too compartmentalized to be believable, but I guess if we buy into it, it gives us an added layer of conflict between the brothers, not to mention the suspense of random stabbings to keep everyone on their toes. Anyone else think it might be a bad idea to teach the guy under the murderous spell how to better stab people?
I do love Kang-chi and Tae-seo’s true relationship though, without the spell, so I think there’s enough history between them that it’s a relationship we root for on its own merits, aside from the great tragedy of one surrogate brother promising to give his life to protect the other, who keeps trying to kill him. Oh, fractured bromance, the things you do to my heart.