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Secret Door: Episode 10

This episode is all about parenthood, and in particular, the fraught territory of the father-son relationship. And yet it’s not even about Yeongjo and Sun’s increasingly conflicted relationship—at least, not directly. Everything’ll lead to that relationship in the end, but on the surface today’s plotlines are about other characters’ parental relationships, which then serve as a mirror for the king-prince dynamic. The reflection is part poignant, part ominous, and part cautionary tale.

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Achtung & Kim Kyung-ho – “연연” (Attachment) [ Download ]

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EPISODE 10 RECAP

Princess Hyegyeong stands up to the king… in that she kneels before the king, prepared to supplicate until he either reopens the prince’s murder investigation or she dies, whichever comes first. More to the point, she has her toddler son, San (future King Jeongjo), wailing at her side. Under her relentless appeals and the mounting pressure, Yeongjo finally comes out to face them.

He softens (thank god) at the sight of his bawling grandson, picking him up and soothing his tears with the promise, “Your grandfather was wrong and will take care of everything, so stop crying.” Hyegyeong secures a further promise that Yeongjo will reopen the investigation, then allows herself a tiny smile of relief.

Yeongjo chides Hyegyeong against directly involving herself in the future; the mother of the nation should be aware of what’s going on, but only quietly. Hyegyeong replies that such a mother of the nation would be derelict in her duty if her limited perspective hindered her from helping the ruler in a fix. Good answer.

Teacher Park and Advisor Chae confer with Sun about the case from his prison cell. They’ve been trying to find witnesses to prove that the murders are a cover-up, but those witnesses keep disappearing. Sun says that they must find the mastermind.

Ji-dam asks Hyegyeong to let her meet with Advisor Chae, wanting to help with the investigation. Hyegyeong tells Ji-dam to let the court handle the investigation; all she need do is testify. But Ji-dam points out that her testimony wouldn’t be necessary if the tribunal were investigating successfully. Hyegyeong sees her point.

Ji-dam is escorted to see the advisor and is allowed a visitation with the prince, who is relieved to see her safe and sound. She even laughingly suggests that this isn’t a bad learning experience for a future ruler, since criminals are his subjects too. She tries to hold back her worry until she’s out of sight, forcing a cheerful face in front of Sun.

Examination of Shadow’s corpse reveals the telltale signs of the assassin’s particular brand of torture. The lacerated fingertips point to an engraving blade, and Ji-dam recognizes it and guesses is the work of the vicious Kim Mu. His exact identity is unknown, but there are rumors that state that Kim Mu is the son of a retired gisaeng, so off they go in search of that woman.

That is in fact where Mu heads—to his now-uninhabited mother’s home. He recalls memories from a better time spent here, when his mother had looked quite happy with his father, Prime Minister Kim. He may have been born to the lowest class, but Mu seems to have enjoyed some comfort as a child.

There’s no time for nostalgia, as Teacher Park’s men arrive at that house moments later. Mu slips away unseen and the mother angle hits a dead end, so Ji-dam suggests that they look into Mu’s father. Ooh. Yes, do that.

The prime minister wants all his loose ends tied, so he orders the capture of Officer Min Woo-sub, the honest policeman whose testimony would contradict their cover-up. Assassins are dispatched to intercept him while Officer Min is being brought in for interrogation, but find their ambush foiled—somehow, officers were expecting them and came with backup.

This is the princess’s doing, and she had both anticipated the attack and circumvented it with a decoy. Tricksy. She deduces that the attempt to interfere proves that the bad guys need to cover up for their actions, and looks forward to the official interrogation tomorrow.

The conspirators realize they were tricked, and Yeongjo advises that there’s not much he can do for the Norons once the court interrogation opens. He suggests that Kim make a deal before it does—sacrifice the assassin in exchange for the document. Not that Prime Minister Kim is any more scrupulous than the king on the whole, but he doesn’t like the plan this time with his son on the line. He clenches his fist quietly.

The prime minister mulls over the choice all night long, barking at his crony when he urges him to get moving on that sacrifice/trade.

Yeongjo’s eunuch worries that this move would put the maengui document back into the hands of the Norons. Yeongjo reasons that it’s still better than either Sun or the Sorons getting it—the time has passed for them to seek the best or second-best: “Avoiding the worst is our answer.”

Prime Minister Kim doesn’t look ready to cave yet, though. He meets with Mu regarding the captive, Chul-joo, which results in Mu sharpening his torture knife.

Our team only now learns of the blood tie between the prime minister and Mu, which provides another lead in where to search. Teacher Park returns home to find a “gift” left anonymously for him. It’s a box containing a severed hand (ack! Chul-joo!) and a note, which sends Teacher Park beelining for a meeting with Prime Minister Kim. No more dithering around: it’s time for a deal. Mu, in exchange for the document and Chul-joo’s life.

Prime Minister Kim agrees so easily that Park asks if he can really sacrifice his son. Kim says mildly, “To get that document, I could hand over even more.” Teacher Park can only say, “You are quite something, both you and the king.”

The Noron cronies make another deal: Minister Min presents the princess’s father, Hong Bong-han, with a letter informing him where he can arrest the murderer. Hong would get to claim credit, but there’s a quid pro quo, and Min wants certain records expunged. Gotta tie up loose ends.

Sun is shocked to hear of the relationship between the prime minister and the assassin, particularly at the implication that a father would order his son to be his hit man. It makes me sad every time he’s shocked at a father’s cruelty, but maybe it’s for the best that he keep his own faith for as long as possible.

Prime Minister Kim isn’t without a heart, limited though it may be, and hurries to give his son a warning before the authorities come to arrest him. He urges Mu to escape, saying that even if he wasn’t able to be a father in name to him, he wants to at least keep him alive.

He sends Mu off running with the entreaty to stay safe, just before officers burst in. They chase Mu through the woods, and despite a strong defensive showing, Mu gets shot down.

So Mu is arrested and dragged through the village, where his father pretends not to notice. His capture fulfills the first part of the deal, so Teacher Park hands over the maengui, and Prime Minister Kim in turn points him in the direction of Chul-joo—alive, but badly injured. Also holding a bloody stump of a hand! *sob*

Sun is released from prison, and there’s a lovely moment when he steps out of his cell and is a little surprised, but in a pleasant way, to see Hyegyeong awaiting to hand him his dragon robes. She tells him he endured a lot, but he just says that it was nothing compared to the trouble she suffered, and this moment of understanding makes both Hyegyeong and his faithful court lady happy.

Hyegyeong even gives a lot of credit to Ji-dam and praises her hard work, looking quite pleased with her contribution. Sun thanks her with a special smile, and now Hyegyeong looks uneasy to see how glowingly Ji-dam receives it.

Now it occurs to Sun that Mu’s capture happened too easily. His suspicions flare when he’s told that the tip came from an anonymous informant.

Sun arrives at the tribunal for Mu’s interrogation, and Yeongjo greets him with the admonition that if he’d just put someone reliable in charge of the interrogation, he wouldn’t have had to suffer. Yeesh. Yeongjo is such a master manipulator that you think he almost believes the revisions he makes to history.

Mu is brought in, and readily admits to the charges of murder. Asked for a reason, he states that he was given the order, but refuses to state whose orders they were. It’s almost amusing to me that everyone here knows that Prime Minister Kim was the one, but because these proceedings are primarily formalities, they’re bound by procedure.

We see in flashback that Prime Minister Kim had made arrangements to keep the questioning short. Since torture is a commonly applied method of interrogation, surely it wouldn’t be difficult to have an “accident.” And no doubt the sham of an interrogation would proceed just like that, with Yeongjo agreeing to torture right away, if only Sun weren’t here.

He speaks up and approaches Mu, directing him to reveal who he was working for. Sun crouches to meet him at eye level, explaining that he knows who that person is and saying indignantly, “One must not do this to one’s own son,” sparking a flicker of emotion across Mu’s face. Sun asks, “Is this something a person can do to another person?”

He advises Mu to think it over carefully, offering to spare his life if Mu reveals who it was. Everybody tenses as Mu speaks: “The person who ordered me to kill Kang Pil-jae [Shadow] is…”

But then, Prime Minister Kim interjects, “Me.” Omo. Is this for real? If this is another dream sequence fakeout, Imma throw something.

Mu looks up in shock as his father joins him on the straw mat, kneeling before the court. Prime Minister Kim reveals that Mu is his son, surprising more with his honesty than with the actual truth, and takes responsibility for all the crimes.

But that just spurs Mu to burst out that his father isn’t guilty, and that he’s only confessing out of paternal protectiveness. Aw, now this is sweet. Is it twisted to think that this sadistic criminal duo is the healthiest example of father-son kinship in this drama?

So then the court demands to know who the true mastermind was if not Daddy Dearest, and Mu gives a name: Chun Seung-se, a longtime associate of Shadow’s. Fyi, in case you’re keeping track of all the dead bodies in this drama, Chun is actually Shadow’s lackey who was killed by Shadow in an earlier episode. Convenient to pin the blame on a dead guy, though.

Sun smells bullshit, but Yeongjo is happy to call it a day and close this interrogation. Furthermore, Mu has cobbled together an alternate story that’s believable, or at least not easily refuted—that Chun ordered the hits on the artists, then ordered Shadow killed so he could monopolize the market. (But Shadow killed Chun first.)

Sun asks why Mu would carry out a hit when the client had already died, but Mu replies that he wanted the document. And that word has everyone on alert, and ministers demand to know where the document is now. Mu answers that Shadow never gave up the answer despite all the torture.

Even though he’s convinced this is false, there’s nowhere for Sun to take the interrogation. As Yeongjo and Sun return to the palace, Yeongjo talks lightly of the case, writing it off as some gang turf war that merits no further attention. He informs Sun that he’ll be handling the rest of the investigation; he argues that it’s improper for Sun to be involved since he was at one point a suspect.

With difficulty, Sun agrees. He also agrees when his father tells him to stop working directly on cases like this and turn his attention to other matters of state.

But as his father turns away, a thought strikes Sun and he recalls the contents of the maengui. He asks sharply what the document is about that it would put lives on the line, and Yeongjo’s temper flares. He yells at Sun to let closed cases rest and orders him out.

Teacher Park has a lot to explain for when he comes empty-handed to his Soron colleagues, who furiously demand to know where the document is. They argue amongst themselves, but the hotheaded one who wants to take it public is silenced by the stern leader, who warns him of the ramifications.

Advisor Chae has seen the second page of the copied maengui containing signatures, but not the first page that has all the damning information. Now he asks Sun for the full explanation, having deduced that he’s being kept in the dark about something important. He guesses that the document that was mentioned at court today is the same document Heung-bok copied and left in the pages of Ji-dam’s novel.

Sun says that he’ll tell him everything once he’s more certain of the facts, just as he receives words that the court lady who stole his dagger has been apprehended. She’s beaten bloody and ordered to declare whose orders she was taking; she gives Shadow’s name, Kang Pil-jae.

Crooked Officer Byun is similarly tortured and questioned about Pil-jae’s orders to kill Heung-bok and cover up the investigation. He knows he’s being caught as scapegoat to protect those at the top, but a direct threat to his family makes him sign the confession.

In light of the newest “revelations” about the case, War Minister Hong and Minister Min submit their resignations to the king, humbly accepting blame for not doing their jobs properly. (So the explanation is that they failed in their duties, rather than contributed to active corruption.) Yeongjo just dismisses the resignations and tells them to return to their posts, making up for their lapses by working harder.

Minister Min sits his son, our idealistic good cop Min Woo-sub, down for a stern talk about not doing things that’ll make himself a target. The world is tougher than he thinks, Dad warns.

Sun reads the final report concluding the investigation, and has to grudgingly recognize that the cover-up is perfect. The bad guys have managed to absolve all of their players of criminal guilt and filled in all the gaps tighter than even a mystery novel.

Suddenly, he rises and makes his way to the prisons, going directly to Mu’s cell. He sits right down next to him and says that he was in Mu’s place directly before him, to which Mu shrugs that it’s his lot in life in having a cruel father. Sun replies, “I don’t think you’re in a position to tell me that.” No kidding, to an epic degree.

Sun asks what Mu knows of his father, and why he would perjure himself for him. He sees the flicker of emotion in Mu’s eyes and says that the eyes never lie, then urges him to tell the truth even now. Mu scoffs, asking if he means he should divulge that his father used him to further political ends, then abandoned him once he became useless. Sun is stunned, asking how he behaved as he did even knowing this.

Mu replies simply, “Because he’s my father.” Ack! Nooooo, that is a lesson I don’t want you teaching Sun!

Sun doesn’t buy it, and says that Mu killed numerous innocent people, all of whom were someone’s father or brother or son, and that he did it for a man who’s only concerned with saving his own neck. He’s not worth Mu’s heart-stirring sacrifice.

Sun entreats Mu to confess the truth, for the sake of those who died unjustly and those who may yet die in the future. Mu is unmoved, saying that no matter how the prince appeals to him, he’s still only got one answer.

Incredulously, Sun asks, “Are you saying that ultimately you will choose to die for your father—in place of your father?” Mu says that he’ll be dying for his crimes, and the father part is just to take some memories with him. That is, after all, the man who openly claimed him as son despite the rest of the world fearing and shunning him. “If I did not have even those memories of that father, my road to the afterworld would be quite lonely, wouldn’t it?”

Sun leaves that encounter deep in thought, thinking to himself: “Father and son. Mother and child. Brother and sister. And friend. Through them, living is warm, but also at times contradictory.”

Sun has a cute play session with his son, baby San (Jeongjo), as a smiling Hyegyeong watches. He worries briefly that the baby seems warm and is suffering from the other night, but Hyegyeong assures him that he’s fine. Still, Sun requests that even if the same thing were to befall him in the future, or worse, he doesn’t want his son involved. The boy will be a prince one day, and as a prince he will be forced to endure many difficult things—and here Sun looks a bit choked up, thinking of his own life—and thus, he asks Hyegyeong that they not add to those troubles.

He adds that he’d like to delay the boy discovering that these difficult trials are his fate to endure, for as long as possible. Hyegyeong agrees, her protests quieted for now, and the father-son play session resumes.

Yeongjo mockingly asks whether Teacher Park is happy with the results, having decided to save one gangster instead of a critical document. Park answers, “What I wanted to save more than Na Chul-joo was Your Highness.”

He reminds the king that he’d said the document was for the good of the people, needed to protect and rule over them, but now Park knows that the people are no concern of Yeongjo’s. What he wants is to stay on his throne and be an absolute ruler—but that kind of power must be kept in check.

Yeongjo asks if that’s why he gave the document to the prime minister, so as to keep the king in check. Park answers, “It is better that a bad man checks your power than nobody.” He begs the king to check himself, because if he doesn’t, he’s well on his way to becoming a tyrant. Wow. Those are strong words, and I fear for Park—he means this in the best way possible, but Yeongjo is the furthest thing from a receptive listener.

As Mu is dragged to the town center for a public execution, Sun asks Advisor Chae about the possibility of Prime Minister Kim being the mastermind behind everything. If that’s true, then did he calculate his son’s sincerity into his plans?

Okay, I rescind anything positive I ever said about Prime Minister Kim’s fatherly affections. He shares the truth with his Noron cronies, who are shocked that he went with such an extreme plan—what if Mu surprised him by confessing the truth? The prime minister just says that the low-born are weak to affection.

Poor low-born scapegoat. As he awaits the executioner’s blade, he sees Chul-joo arriving at the edge of the crowd… and he has his hand still on? Wait. Was that a trick? Is there a secret trick stuck in here somewhere?!

Chul-joo sends a teary-eyed smile and waves at his old friend. Mu hopes that his truth wasn’t part of the calculation, and maybe that’s enough, that he retains his hope through the end. It’s his last thought before he’s cut down.

Sun wonders what it means to be a father and a son, replaying all the little moments we’ve seen between them, as Yeongjo offers him advice and guides him with small, affectionate gestures. He asks his advisor, though in a rhetorical way, “Do you have memories of your father. And if not, what memories do you wish you had?”

Sun returns to the library to continue his private investigation of the names signed on the maengui. He goes through the files, connecting the nicknames with their real owners, seeing that every name on the list is a Noron. Everyone but one, who he has been unidentified: Who is Juk-pa?

 
COMMENTS

Now that they’ve remembered that Sun is a father, we’re directing the father-son conflict directly, and it makes for a tense shift in direction to have Sun actively addressing it. It’s one thing for us to see Yeongjo manipulating everyone around him and directing his son to his whim, while the son remains trusting and blind, but Sun has some growing up to do now that he sees what his father is capable of. Actually, I don’t think he sees fully the extent of Yeongjo’s brilliance or madness (they’re linked, I think), but with the discovery of the damning document, he’s starting to get an inkling that his father’s not acting in Sun’s best interests.

I don’t think he suspects Yeongjo of going quite as far as to gaslight him, but I both am eager for him to have his eyes fully opened and afraid for what that’ll do to him. He must harbor some suspicion of his father being the last name, Juk-pa, on the document, but while there’s doubt, there’s also hope. I fully expect the revelation to crush him, which means he’s not quite ready to see his father for who he is.

By the way, I’m not reading Yeongjo as a traditional villain, nor do I think this drama is going so far as to vilify his character posthumously. The drama is making him into a rich, complex, human character and I find that way more interesting than going with a straightforward interpretation. If anything, it’s the Sado role that’s being flattened by being depicted as noble and sweet, and normally I’d be grumbling about that. It bothers me less than it might normally, however, perhaps because twisted is the conventional interpretation, so is portraying him as good really just a twist anyway?

In any case, we’re heading into the second half and Sun’s starting to see his father differently, but as I said, I see more hope in him than doubt. It’s why his comment to Hyegyeong struck me as particularly poignant, of wanting to preserve his son’s innocence and keep him from knowing his burden for as long as possible. You could argue that perhaps Sun could feel hoodwinked for having kept up his faith for as long as he had—isn’t that a natural response when realizing we’ve been deceived, to wish we’d opened our eyes sooner? Yet he would have it be otherwise, because the truth is a heavy burden, and not one he would inflict upon a tender soul until it became absolutely necessary.

That family scene was probably my favorite of the episode, and shows us hints of a growing rapport between Sun and Hyegyeong, which I love and want to see a lot more of. In fact, it makes me dissatisfied with the earlier setup of bringing in Ji-dam to be Bingae (who was historically one of Sado’s consorts, and reportedly one he was crazy in love with), because now I just want the drama to ditch that story and focus on the lonely prince and princess struggling against the conflict of their feelings, their ideological differences, and the warring political leaders who stand behind them hoping to manipulate them to their own ends.

So I feel like making Ji-dam a love interest is narratively a simplistic and “easy” choice (they’re so perfect for each other! The tinkling romantic music tells me so!) but I also resist that pairing for a more meta reason, which is that I find Kim Yoo-jung simply unconvincing. I’ll voice an unpopular opinion in saying that I think she’s been a bit hyped for her abilities, probably because she was such a standout in her child roles—good for a child, which may lead to the assumption that she’d be good in adult roles. But she’s playing this role so one-dimensionally (and yes, that’s maybe half a problem of writing, but it’s also a problem of performance), and in scenes with every other cast member, who is knocking it out of the park, she rings false.

I generally argue in favor of preserving the narrative OTP because a story should stand structurally, and if a plot is built to lead to a certain resolution, then by all means, I want that to play out. But I just find every other relationship much more stirring, while I feel the prince-and-novelist romance forced by music cues and rosy mood lighting. I wonder if the drama kept us from seeing Sun’s child because it would have felt wrong to introduce a romance with Ji-dam while reminding us that Sun was a married father. So they gave us the lonely prince with the cold wife and duty-driven, loveless marriage, finding a warm kindred spirit to fall for. Only now, I see something meaningful and stirring in the family he already has, and watching him struggle to make that work would be, methinks, the thing a hero would do.

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Thanks for the recap...

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omg this drama deserves more love
i'm in the middle of my midterm exam right now
so i haven't watched the last two episodes
but i keep on track by skimming through the recaps
so can't wait to watch this
and thanks javabeans for the recap!

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Why is it so surprising that the Prime Minister calculates his son's affection for him? I mean, it is true that low-borns or the poor are susceptible to affection. Or rather, they see people as beings of love and how much loyalty they deserve because poor people are technically "money-valueless" and come attached with nothing else whereas the rich sees people in terms of dollars and cents because that's all they know, especially in the case of the power hungry Prime Minister. I would be more surprised if he really loved another with his life.

The moment he confessed that he was Mu's father, I was going " you vile bastard" and shaking in my seat with indignation. Because I knew that was his attempt at manipulation to have Mu voluntarily take the fall himself. And the poor fool did.

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He doesn't know how to love. To give it and receive it. Thats why he was so surprised?

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Yes, Mu did it even while knowing the truth. Heartbreak.

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Ugh. Really is a heartbreak. Father and son relationships here are heartbreaking to see. Oh there are quite a few touching moments here and there. Like Ji Dam's father cried out that he couldn't live without her. It makes me wonder about the parents and children and what we do to each other.

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I love King Yeong Jo and Seo Ji Dam character best of all in this drama. And I think the actors and actresses all do good to make the characters interesting! Not like your bias, I do hope a romantic line to make the drama has more attractiveness to young audience.

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I haven't read the recap, but I thought I'd first get down some of my thoughts. I'm sure that the recap will discuss this episode's exploration of the father/son relationship.

I know that I was interested in this relationship when I started to observe the different father/son (or surrogate father/son) pairings.

Prince Sun wonders at the end, deeply disturbed and troubled, how a father could sacrifice his son without a second thought, not realizing (unfortunately) that he was being used as a bargaining chip by his own father in the latter's quest to grab onto the Maengi. And if this show is going with the perspective that Sado was the victim of conspiracies and not his own violence/insanity, then he will become the sacrificial lamb of his father in the end.

Compare the actions of minister Kim with Minister Minsoo: the latter used his son to save himself while the latter put Chuljoo before anything else. Minsoo would not send an innocent party to the executioner. I'm sure that Minister Minsoo's actions will somehow affect what transpires at the end, since the document is back in the hands of the enemy, but one cannot deny his fatherly love. Even if Minster Kim might feel some sadness at the death of his son (who knows?), ultimately his self-preservation trumped any love for his offspring. He says at one point that the lower born are more easily victim to their emotions; little does he know that his son was aware of his manipulation, but chose to die anyway (his son also wanted to be punished for his actual crimes during his past).

As for the King, I also see him putting himself before his son, even if he does love him in his own way. He played the political game because in his eyes, it is better that the Maengi fall back into the hands of the enemy he already knows (the Norons) rather than the enemy he doesn't (The Sorons, who will most likely repeat the actions of the Norons by putting a new King in power and making him their puppet).

I am glad that Sun tells his wife to no longer use their young child to help save his life. He does want to be such a manipulative and selfish father.

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Great insight! I miss the Like button.

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Thank you :)!

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Man, I was so happy to see Chul Joo's hand!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Yep...not buying the JiDam love story either. Thanks for the recap.

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Me neither. I hope the writer drops it. Park Eun-bin is such a strong actress, that I want to see her as the love interest (even if passionate love is not historically correct, Hyegeong was still the Sado's wife and had a relationship with him).

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It just seems so cliche and so silly in this drama.

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I think the overall sound design and music choice for this drama is great except for the romantic music in every Sun/JiDam scene. That just disrupts the flow of the whole drama.

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Agreed. Hyegyeong is absolutely KILLING this role as the Princess, I hope she can be the OTP. Also hope she can get future lead roles because man she is excellent.

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I think a bit different! What keep me with the so-hard-stressful drama is Lee Je Hoon, Kim Min Jong, Kim Yoo Jung! I love to see the friendship between Sun and Ji Dam as well as Ji Dam and Chul Jo! I think they do well to give me the feelings of friendship and a little bit romance! ^^

Thanks for the recap although I don't agree with all! I respect the hard-working of all actors and I find them all good! I specially send my love to Lee Je Hoon, Kim Min Jong, Kim Yoo Jung! ^^ Fighting guys!

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Thanks for the recap! I'm thoroughly enjoying this show and your recaps. ((:

I agree with the JB's point about Ji-dam, because she articulated what I am feeling as well. Honestly, the entire show (till now) has been very intriguing, and the only weak spot in my opinion would be Ji-dam's role. I understand what the drama is trying to do (and it would be historically correct to say that Sado's favourite is Ji-dam) but it all feels a bit forced to me (yes I mean you, romantic music), and the obvious age gap between the actors isn't helping much.

I am fascinated by Sun and Hyegyeong's relationship because of the way it is depicted, and I would like the drama to explore this more. There's so much potential there, especially with the richness of their characters and how tangible they already feel. So I'm looking forward to see how it all plays out because both actors are knocking this out of the park, and ultimately, aside from politics, this seems to me like a character study of human relationships, and theirs is a gold mine waiting to be found.

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Exactly this. Focusing on a romance with Ji Dam would be tedious because the relationship between Prince and Princess is so deliciously layered.

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Yes! I love the complexity of Sado's relationship with Hyegyong! Hope it continues to progress well and that we'll see their daughters soon!

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thank you so much for the recap.

am wondering if you'll still be dissatisfied with sun - ji-dam being bingae plotline if the actress portraying that role is kim so hyun instead of kim yoo jung. just my thought :)

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I wonder what the soompi forums are saying? I've heard writers will be affected by forums like that, and if they're shipping JiDam and Sun, there may not be much hope for the prince and princess relationship exploration.

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Soompi? Why would the Korean writers bother with an English forum?

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Thank you for the recap. Amazingly thought out and well written as always. I hope they dont develop the JiDam-Prince storyline too.

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What´s the name of an actor who is killed? (Mu is his character) Thanks!

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i agree with the comment of dramabeans (i apologize i dont particularly know who recaps this drama but thumbs up ?to that person) about the brewing romance of JiDam & Sun (im not also convince with how they play that & insert that OST from TheOne everytime they have a scene together) I have read the book #memoirsofLadyHyegyong before watching this drama & normally i would root for that typical OTP but this time im staying away from that norm & rooting for a HYEGYONG/SUN romance..though in the book Pingae (supposedly Jidam) was said to be loved by Sun it was Lady Hyegyong who was with him all the turbulent times of his life.She recounts specifically the details of Sun's tragic life that roots from his sad childhood since they were married at the age of 10..Lady Hyegyong might not have a romantic relationship with Sun but i think it's safe to say that they understand each other..the marriage that have brought them together & the royal duties
that along came with it..I admire Lady Hyegyong's understanding of "the sado incident" without blaming anyone particularly King Yeongjo's royal order for Sado to die in a rice chest..She simply narrates that " it was a helpless situation for everyone & it cannot be avoided".. I am more & more drawn to lady Hyegyong who we know by now has feelings for Sun & yet tries to put a wall..a wall that she calls as "royal duties". I am looking forward to more Hyegyong/Sun interaction...I am not anymore hoping for a romantic angle between them ( who am i kidding? right?) but a marriage that fully understand,accepts,support & respect each other will just brew & produce LOVE..no matter what definition u have for that word..

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You make very good points and observations about the historical Hyegyong and the fictional one. More and more, I want to get a hold of those memoirs and read them :).

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thank you @peridot...you should read the book..i had fun marking all the necessary info's & important events...its like bringing me back to those days i was in school enamored with romans & greek literature..why did i discover korean literature & history so late?& tell me why they have to be so beautiful when it comes to sageuk dramas (though not all were written to our own satisfaction) so yeah i advice u to get your hand on that book.( got it from Barnes & Noble but they also have in at Amazon) its so informative & satisfying to know lady hyegyong & Prince Sado more & compare it with their character in the drama..next for me ..the book .. A Heritage of King: One Man's Monarchy in the Confucian World..just what are these sageuk dramas doing to me? ?

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Hi,

I'm starting on episode 8. I'm really lost on who's who. Does anyone know where I can find a list of characters? I have been referring to http://asianwiki.com/Secret_Door -- but that just shows the actors and who they play. Would be helpful if I could find something more detailed on who they are to keep it straight. Just a quick summary of each character should do.

Thanks!
revlow

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PS -- I'm so lost that even reading the recaps of the previous episodes doesn't help much as I'm watching the next episode. Too confused when I do. I'd really like to keep up. Thanks again.

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this blog might help you with some of your questioons...http://thetalkingcupboard.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/coming-soon-secret-door/#more-17604

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Thanks!

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I don't know of such a list (in English, anyway) but if you tell me what specifically is confusing you I can try to clear things up. This drama does have a lot of names and as recappers, GF and I are struggling to write about the characters in a way that's not totally confusing. But there are just so many names.

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LOL. Good to know I'm not the only one... but that includes the experts, too! Eeek. I'll try to formulate my Qs and get back to you, but I don't know if I can boil them down.

I think some of it is just my difficulty with historical dramas in general -- so many people to keep straight, all the different ministers, who they're aligned with, which ones are double agents, who flips to the other side, etc.

Maybe I can give it a shot with a Korean list. Not that I know Korean... at all. But Chrome does let me translate pages some of the time, plus I also have a handy plug-in called ImTranslator: http://imtranslator.net/

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Not sure if you'll see my reply (I only check the recaps before starting the next eps) but in case you do:

Daum usually offers one line descriptions for the most important drama characters and for this drama the list is pretty long. Don't know how understandable the translations would be, but maybe it'll help^^

http://movie.daum.net/tv/detail/castcrew.do?tvProgramId=65159

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In regards to Kim Yoo-jung's one-dimentional acting - I think that this is very typical with most (good) childhood actors. They are fantastic in front of the camera since they don't have the same inhibitions (caused by self-awareness) that adults typically do. But they don't have the life experience and maturity to fully understand the complexity of their characters. I mean, look at Shim Eun-Kyung rights now. Everyone knows that she is a very talented actress, but she is failing miserably in her Nodame role. She just doesn't really get what the character is supposed to be like and unfortunately there is no one on the set to guide her since neither writing or directing for Korean remake is any good.

I have no doubt that Kim Yoo-jung will become a brilliant actress in a few years. But for now she is only a 15 year old girl who lacks any life experience. I mean, she literally grew up on the set and i doubt she gets any chance to do things most teenagers do in their daily lives. Look at Park Eun-bin for example. She was never particularly impressive in her younger roles but she is killing it as a Crown Princess. You really can't underestimate age.

Also, in my opinion we as viewers are not really supposed to be on board with Crown Price-Jidam pairing. Jidam's actions are driven by good intentions but essencially she is putting everyones lives at risk. Yes, the Crown Prince wants to know the truth about his friend's murder but without Jidam's interference he would be forced to give up his investigation much earlier and possibly live long enough to become a king. We also see a lot of characterisation for the Crown Princess. She is neither evil nor heartless, she is a woman who is in love with her husband and who is using everything in her power to protect him from danger.
I don't think that the scriptwriter has any intention to make us root for a romance between a married prince and his concubine. They are telling a story of how a prince fell in love with a wrong person and how it eventually contributed to his death. At least that's the vibe I am getting, especially from the scenes between Jidam and Crown Princess. There are definite seeds of jealousy there.

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You make a very good point. I am actually a fan of the Ji Dam character and I at first could understand javabeans' (or girlfriday's?) initial observation that if Sado does fall in love with Ji Dam, it is a gradual one, not the at-first-sight one. We could actually see them falling for each other. We do not have to be forced into believing that it could happen with cheesy soundtracks.

I am quite touched with the point that a hero is a husband who tries to save his own marriage. His wife a strong woman who is trying to save the throne and his life. Simultaneously, I could understand Sado falling for the Ji Dam character, whose ideals mirror his. Unfortunately, that same dogged innocence is causing trouble (not started by her though, I think. Because really, we all know who started it all) and will probably cause Sado's death. and hers. That is quite sad. To think that in a corrupt world, it is a dangerous and powerless place to be for idealists.

I do agree that the Ji Dam character has been like a disconnected puzzle piece in the whole drama. I understand too that her age hinders her character's depth. Maybe this role is just a tiny one, just enough story to eventually cause Sado's death, hence the characterisation flaw. Or a huge one, who set the wheels rolling into that rice box.

As her character becomes more unbelievable, that is when I started to miss Ji Dam..because she was that light hope in a stressful situation.

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This drama is so bad, there are nine eps and the story didn't go anywhere. How can the prince still questions himself who was the king got killed and the new king got put on the thrown, is there more than one king at that time?
About Jidam, I hope they put more screenplays for her, her role in this TV series is such a waste. About her performannce, I think she did so well, so far she did not express strong feelings for the prince since she actually did not have time to spend a lot of time with the prince yet, her feelings for him up to this point is just from a citizen to a prince. So what she did was perfectly normal, if she shows more than tat, I would think it is not a personlity of a strong type a lady who wrote the killer story. I don't think they should add more romances between the prince and the princess either, how can a man loves a woman who controlled him, too dry, too strict, greedy...

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I think the Prince is questioning who the ruler in question was because while the document was signed 30 years back, it is also probable that they could use it against Yeongjo (considering he doesn't know who Juk Pa is, who may be just another official for all he know) right now or in the future. Also, there is no evidence, based on what he knows, that this document has been put into action, is there? I do trust he is considering only two options at this point: either it has been his father who was put on the throne (that imagined scene where he pushed the document to Yeongjo's face in ep 9, accusing him of it), or they are planning to use it anytime against his father (or him or any heir in the future). Afterall, while the document might be very incriminating for treason, it actually doesn't say anything about the intended action being put into action.

To put things in perspective, Gyeongjong didn't have a legitimate son when he died (I think the drama mentions about an adopted son), and Yengjo was heir (Crown Prince) to the throne at the time, so it was likely (even legitimate) possible for Yeongjo to ascend after him-the only bad point for him was he was a son of Dong Yi, a lowborn. Sun also doesn't know Gyeongjong had been poisoned (as this drama goes with). Gyeongjong's death was reported to have succumbed to his sickness. To Sun, Yeongjo's ascension to the throne was valid, no question, so it is no wonder he still questions who the old and new kings mentioned in the document.

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So many naive sons, so many bastard fathers

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I just wanted to ask ... I heard that there was supposed to be 24 episodes. Is that not the case?

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Once again, I think this site is good in recap but also sometimes I think the reviewers are also bias ones. I think they put their hate/love feelings too much when talk about the actors, just like the case of Shim Eun Kyung. You can love other ones but is it help to put bias criticism on her and give a comparison to the Japan origin?

If javabeans, you guy have a heart to sympathy with the actors/actresses, it would be better? Life is so hard so you no need to put it harder!

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I think the fans who doesn't like the Sun-Ji Dam pairing was mainly because of the very obvious age difference between the two actors in real life (that I super agree with-I mean, even Na Chul Joo is supposedly only 24 right now). In the drama, at this timeline, Sun is 20 years old, and Ji Dam is 16. Considering that, it is possible for them to fall in love with each other (if the drama swings that way). What is there to oppose if they do fall for each other, to be honest? They work towards the same goal, Sun found someone who share the ideals he has, she supports him and pushes him to put up a fight for what he believes in, she encourages him to look at the bright side, she's honest and straightforward with him, he loves her novels, she's a breathe of fresh air to him. Right now, it's more of a subject to a crown prince, but if they eventually do, I have no problem buying into their love story, to be quite honest, if I shut my brain to the fact that there is a 15-year age difference between the two actors.

While I do agree that Ji Dam's character is very lacking to what she is supposed to be (I mean, you're a mystery novel writer, come on now, show us more of your clever thinking), I do trust she'll do some face-saving kick-assin' maneuvers in the later episodes. I am also loving the Crown Princess more and more by the episode, and I hope Sun gives her the attention she deserves.

The scene with San is my favorite so far. What a nice contrast to what he's been put through with his own father. If San grew up for the next 8 years with this kind of loving father, no wonder he is proud to be Sado's son when he ascends to the throne.

I do think, though, Sun will soon find out the whole ordeal and we'll spend the second half of the series with Sun doing a dangerous political dance with his father, now that he knows he is not as righteous as he thinks he is. And Yeongjo, ever the crazy far gone one, would turn even crazier wondering if Sun knows the truth or not, until he sees him now as a threat to his power and sends him to the rice box to his death. Now Show, please give us a smart drama.

Thanks for the insights, db and gf! Always a pleasure to read your comments!

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I agree with cpc73 that most people find it hard to accept Ji Dam and Sun's pairing is because of the obvious age difference between the actors, but in the drama's timeline their romance is acceptable - age wise. Unlike everyone who probably have been watching this show faithfully, I haven't and I haven't been influenced by the music 'convincing' me of Ji Dam and Sun's romance or any of those stuff, but I'm liking their interactions and the idealism they shared (based on the recap I read anyway). While the crown princess may have her winning moments and seasoned with a much older actress than Ji Dam, I'm not feeling the romantic vibe from her and Sun, mainly because they were married since they were 10 and had 2 child together, and if Sun were to fall for her he'd have already but he didn't. I think they have a nice understanding as husband and wife but they're lacking the romantic pull for me. While the princess is more motivated because of her feelings, Ji Dam and Sun are both more motivated by friendship, integrity and their idealism, I feel like they have a connection despite the non existent romance at the moment, something that the princess and Sun did not share despite their 10 years of marriage. Ji Dam also understood what kind of a future king Sun is striving to be and the reasons for all the stunts he pulled so far, for me that speaks a lot. I'm hoping that the writers stay faithful to their original plot and not get swayed simply because people start fighting ships war. Whoever Sun comes to love in the end, I'm interested to see how drama plans to show us Sun's descend into madness as in the history or the conspiracy theory.

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