The King Loves: Episodes 11-12
This is the episode where our trio of friends evolves into a full-fledged love triangle, but our two lifelong friends aren’t the only ones interested in a relationship with the real Eun San. As becomes very clear to both San and her father this episode, the plot hatched seven years ago to keep her safe has only ended up placing her in more danger than ever.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Faced with Won’s disappointment that she’s preoccupied by thoughts of Rin, San admits that she finds herself unsettled and distracted when he’s around — while down the hall, San’s former nanny confirms to Song In that So-hwa is, in fact, Lady San.
Won chases after San just as Jeon arrives at the teahouse, so they hide in order to spy on him. Jeon asks an attendant, “Is the librarian here,” and Won assumes that it must be someone who works with Jeon. But by the time Won looks for San, she’s already slipped away.
Outside, San shouts out, “Tell him I had to leave first.” Two heads pop up on the roof, and Jin Gwan wonders who San’s message is meant for. Jang Eui gestures down at Won when he emerges onto the street and gazes at San’s retreating form.
San meets with her relieved father, but he experiences chest pains brought on by the ordeal. Minister Eun begs San to return to the mountains, and they argue until she informs him of Jeon’s part in the plot to depose the crown prince.
San explains that she was arrested so Jeon could force a false statement from her against the prince. She adds that of the prince’s bodyguards intervened and saved her from serious harm, but he was arrested. San identifies him as Soo-in and confesses that she’s both thankful and worried about him as she begs her father for help.
We find Dan running excitedly through a courtyard until Jin Gwan and Jang Eui block her way. Their presence confirms that Won is at her house, but she’s turned away because he’s there to visit her father, Wang Young.
Jang Eui shoves a lovestruck Jin Gwan in Dan’s direction as she walks away. He stammers that the path is slippery and icy, but it comes out as “slicy,” ha. Dan understands that he wants her to be careful, and Jin Gwan happily escorts her as Jang Eui smiles after his partner. (They do know that Dan likes Won, don’t they?)
Inside the manor, Won confronts Wang Young about his disregard over Rin’s situation. The minister insists that his emotions mustn’t interfere with his public office, but Won calls his claim nonsense.
Won inquires, “Do you know your second son wants to replace me?” When he adds that Jeon has joined others to depose him, Wang Young kneels before Won to insist that Jeon wouldn’t dare do such a thing. Won interrupts to ask, “What shall I do? Shall I shed some blood and see which of us wins?”
Wang Young believes that Won thinks of the people more than anyone and doesn’t want to shed blood. He saw firsthand how Won suffered in the presence of his parents but held himself in check from fear that someone innocent would be harmed if he lashed out.
Wang Young promises to do whatever Won asks of him because he believes the prince will avoid bloodshed. Won lowers himself to ask Wang Young to make him look like a fool. He explains that the king wants to confirm that his son is cowardly, disloyal, and thoughtless, so Won proposes that if Wang Young can pull that off, Rin will be released.
As Won walks away, Wang Young asks about Jeon, and is told, “Leave him be for now. One day, he will realize what happens when he yearns for something beyond his reach.” Before he departs, Won makes it clear that Wang Young was wrong about one thing: He does not fear bloodshed.
Meanwhile, a shadowy figure whisks the salt merchant away. He ends up at the bottom of a dry well as two young guards explain that they were ordered to keep him somewhere safe, where no one can get to him.
Minister Eun’s loyal servant informs him that the man who tried to save San is Wang Young’s third son. Minister Eun decides that because Rin helped his daughter, he will return the favor, but he’s troubled by the predicament. Minister Eun can’t imagine why Rin risked prison to save San and asks himself, “What is he up to?”
Inside Rin’s cell, a guard prepares a warm fire for his royal prisoner. Once he’a alone, Rin recalls the night at the teahouse when he spied on Jeon’s meeting with San’s father and later, ran into San. She had demanded to know his identity but Rin ran away, unable to tell her who he was.
Rin had followed San that night and smiled when she stopped to throw some snowballs. San dropped her last snowball, and Rin had walked over to pick it up, only for it to melt in his hand. In the present, he gazes at his hand and thinks, “I could not answer who I was. The day when I can answer will not come. I must not even dream of that day.”
At the palace, Minister Eun is greeted by passing ministers as Goo-hyung, his servant, informs him which gifts procured their favor. When Minister Song bows, Goo-hyung confides that he just sent the assistant royal secretary some silver coins.
Eunuch Choi reports to Princess Wonsung that royal officials requested an urgent meeting with the king, but they were sent away. They have waited all day for the king to meet with them so that they can ask him to free Rin.
The king finally meets with the royal officials who wish to challenge Rin’s imprisonment. First, they point out that as the nephew of the former queen, Rin’s punishment causes her further indignity. They continue to expound his excellent character and reputation as Princess Wonsung listens to the proceedings from a hidden spot with Eunuch Choi and Court Lady Jo.
Wang Young joins the assembly, accompanied by several scholars. The king asks if he’s there to save his son, but Wang Young explains that he only wants to hear the charge made against Rin. Wang Young accepts that if the king believes his son guilty of treason, then he himself can’t continue to live.
Wang Young and his companions kneel before the king, prepared to die. The king scoffs at them, but one of the kneeling scholars reminds him that the only offense a royal family member can be imprisoned for is treason. When asked if Rin plotted treason, King Chungryeol dismisses the question as nonsense. The king explains that he asked Won to conduct an investigation, and Rin did something suspicious as they went about their business.
At the mention of Won, Minister Song asks about the prince. Wang Young reminds the irritated king that Won himself admitted, “Everything Rin does is according to my order.” The situation quickly devolves as the officials buzz over Won’s abandonment of his friend. When one official asks if the prince is just that thoughtless and incompetent, Princess Wonsung clutches her robes in rage.
Goo-hyung reports to San’s father that Rin’s release was just ordered and the investigation handed over to higher authorities. Minister Eun wonders if the incident was a power play between Wang Young and the prince with Rin caught in the middle.
San races to the inn and finds Rin sitting with Won. She immediately runs past Won as he waves hello and takes Rin’s face in her hands to inspect him for injuries. Satisfied that he’s fine, she snatches his cup and gulps down his wine.
Jin Gwan and Jang Eui have a front row seat as San scolds Rin for his reckless actions. She credits his survival to the prince, which Won readily confirms. When she wonders why Rin claimed that she was his woman, he explains that the comment was intended to protect the prince. Rin insists that he had to do something to quiet her in order to protect the investigation.
Embarrassed that he doesn’t actually like her, San changes the subject and presents Rin with a gift from her master: a beautifully crafted, small sword. Won asks for his gift, so San entrusts him with a gift for the prince instead.
Won heatedly claims that he pleaded their case to the prince and holds out his hand as he demands to have his own gift. With no gift for Won, San offers him her leather bracelet and explains how she tanned the deer leather herself.
San decides the bracelet is too precious to give away and tries to take it back, but Won eagerly grabs it. He holds the bracelet next to Rin’s gilded sword as he asks, “Do you call this a present?” Hahaha.
San forgets about the bracelet when Rin notes that she must be very close to her master to merit such expensive gifts. San cautions him not to concern himself with their relationship. She then explains that she’s returning to the mountains the next day after her master asked her to abandon her quest for revenge. Finally, she apologizes to Won and Rin for getting them involved in her plan and thanks them for everything.
Won begs San to stay when she gets up to leave. He entices her with food and an offer to drink through the night, but she turns him down. Desperate, Won asks if there’s anything she wants, and San glances at the forbidden door.
Won taps out a rhythmic pattern on the door and explains that it’s a code. He leans on the door to share that the code changes hourly, and when Jin Gwan pushes it open, Won falls on San. Of course, he lingers there until she has to push him away.
Won leads San to a hidden courtyard called Geumgajeong, a training ground for shadow guards. San wonders why they don’t train at the palace, and Won explains that these are guards who can’t be seen, so they must train in secret. Jang Eui informs Rin that he instructed the others not to bow or use formal language with Won and to treat him like a friend, so as not to out his identity.
Princess Wonsung oversees preparations at the palace for the festival she’s planning to throw as Eunuch Choi informs her that people are greatly interested in attending. Princess Wonsung was clearly affected by what the officials said about Won because she worries that he needs more supporters, so she hopes that the festival will help change that.
Eunuch Choi agrees that Wang Young needs to be held in check as Princess Wonsung fumes that he brought the scholars together to mock Won. She imagines that he wants his son to displace Won.
When Court Lady Jo reminds Princess Wonsung that Yuan has asked for tributes, she recalls that Wang Young has a daughter. (Uh oh.) Princess Wonsung wants to see the girl so that she can decide how to make use of her. Eunuch Kim offers to summon her, but Princess Wonsung wants to see Won first.
Rin serves tea, and San suddenly worries about her safety now that she knows about the secret training ground. Won suggests that San can become one of his “people” to secure her safety as he motions towards a window.
The cart pullers come into view as Won explains that it would be a waste if they were beaten to death over the theft of the arrows. Instead of losing their knowledge from years on the streets, Won decided to retain them for their protection.
Jang Eui runs inside to find Won, who cautions San not to leave as he follows the bodyguard outside. Alone, Rin confesses, “Han-chun seems to feel sad to see you leave.” San explains, “I must leave before he feels too sad to see me leave.”
Rin suggests that San should stay for the festival. When she scoffs at watching others dance, Rin proposes that it could be a happy memory, which he explains can be a comfort when life becomes difficult.
Won looks over at his friends as Rin adds, “That is what memories are supposed to be.”
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Goo-hyung explains to Minister Eun that he has a visitor who brought someone along with him, and we see that it’s Jeon. He apologizes for his unannounced visit but promises Minister Eun that it has to do with his daughter, as he pulls a pouch from his pocket that contains the much coveted admission to Princess Wonsung’s party.
Minister Eun explains that his daughter doesn’t socialize because of her face, but Jeon insists that the admission is meant for his daughter and adds that he also did something else for her.
San’s former nanny steps into view and greets her former master. Minister Eun tersely reminds the woman, “When I sent you away, I believe I said I hoped to never see you again.” Jeon jovially asks Minister Eun to call his daughter so that he can witness her reunion with her favored nanny, clearly up to no good.
Goo-hyung joins some of Minister Eun’s guards, and they leave on horseback to search for San. Minister Eun had explained that San was never to return to her home — instead, she was to disappear once she returned to the mountains.
San is on her way back to her father’s house when Song In stops his horse in front of her. Song In reminds her that they met on the mountain when he took her dagger from her. San urges Song In to keep the dagger and tries to walk away, but Song In reminds her that Minister Eun’s home is in the other direction.
When Song In offers San a ride, she does her best to ignore him. Song In reminds San that she can’t outrun his horse, and even with her new dagger, she’s no match for him. He dispenses with the veiled threats and tells her, “Your father, the Minister of Finance, is currently in trouble. You must come with me.”
Cornered, San takes Song In’s hand and mounts his horse behind him. When she reaches for the dagger in her boot, Song In grabs it and tosses it away, a small smile on his face.
When Rin visits the palace, he’s surprised by the soldiers stationed outside of Won’s chambers. Won greets his friend in his new, red robes and shares that they feel tighter than usual, ha. Won shows Rin the gift from So-hwa, and when he comments that it looks nice, Won notes that Rin’s dagger looked nice too. Won ignores Rin’s dry declaration that he can’t have it and proposes that he swap it for the infamous (and so far imaginary) Soyong Sword, which Rin doesn’t fall for.
Won presents Rin with the red pouch that that will allow him to attend his mother’s party, certain that Jeon took possession of the one for his family. Rin doesn’t want to attend, but Won asks him to be his guest and presents him with a second pouch for San.
Won explains that he wants to see So-hwa again, and the masked party is the perfect excuse. Rin argues that Won should give San the ornament himself, but the soldiers outside are proof that Won can’t leave the palace until after the festival.
While Rin stares at the pouches, Won explains, “You never cross the line. All those years… all the time we spent together as friends, you never sat down until I told you to. That is why I can ask for your help. Bring me the woman I love. I dare ask you, another man. Bring her over.” Whoa.
Rin reminds Won that San is set to leave the next day. Won makes his request an official order and he tells Rin to do whatever it takes to bring San to the party. He also tasks him with finding something appropriate for her to wear for the occasion.
Back at Minister Eun’s house, Jeon slides the red invitation pouch towards Bi-yeon and explains that he will take her to the party with her father’s permission. Bi-yeon is noticeably nervous as the nanny stares at the veiled girl curiously. Jeon explains that everyone at the party wears a mask, so she doesn’t have to worry about her face.
Jeon enjoys having the upper hand as he asks Bi-yeon if she is who she says she is, because deceiving the queen is a punishable offense. Song In approaches the gathering, and Minister Eun stands up in surprise when San joins him. The nanny (or rather, the ninny) runs up to San in recognition and babbles about how she hasn’t changed at all. Uh oh.
Meanwhile, Rin approaches Minister Eun’s house and turns away when he sees his brother’s attendants, while Goo-hyung and the guards return in time to see the nanny being dragged away.
Jeon addresses the real San, “I am so sorry. I wronged you at the interrogation hall last time. Why did you hide your identity?” After San gently dismisses a tearful Bi-yeon, Minister Eun invites his daughter to sit down so that they can hear what the men have to say, now that the jig is up.
San apologizes to her father, but he reassures her that this may be for the best. He invites Song In to speak, and the king’s advisor weaves a plausible description of the incident from seven years ago, when Jeon “saved” San’s life: Jeon had confused the maid for San, and Minister Eun seized the chance to keep his daughter from being sent to Yuan as tribute since a scarred girl wouldn’t be sent to Yuan.
Song In points out that Minister Eun saved a fortune because he didn’t have to buy San’s freedom. Minister Eun claims that he only did it to protect his daughter, and Jeon eagerly agrees with the sentiment.
Minister Eun wants to know how to repay their understanding, and Song In admits that there’s only one way: marry San to Jeon as they originally planned. Jeon smugly admits to San, “I have always hoped to become the Minister of Finance’s son-in-law.”
Song In reminds San that she’ll be forced to wear a veil for the rest of her life to protect their lie. Jeon leers at San in front of her father as he adds, “I am okay with it. You will take off that veil during the night.” (Ewww. In front of her dad?)
Song In makes it clear to San, “That is the only way you can save your father who has broken the law and deceived the entire nation.” San sits speechless as the consequences of her refusal to return to the mountains sinks in.
Rin passes a man dressed in black as lightning from a storm flashes and allows him to see the snake tattoo on his wrist. Rin arms himself with the short swords hidden in his sleeves and smoothly attacks Moo-suk in an effort to get close enough to see his face, but his hat gets in the way.
Rin spins away deftly as Moo-suk advances. When they are close enough for hand-to-hand combat, Rin cuts the string on the hat and it flies off to reveal Moo-suk’s face. Rin observes, “So this is what you look like. I always wondered.”
Moo-suk asks Rin, “How long will you live like that… as a dog who guards a barbarian? When will you stand up for the people of Goryeo?” Moo-suk explains to a bewildered Rin that he will wait for him before he runs off into the night.
Minister Eun and Goo-hyung tensely watch Song In and Jeon depart. Bi-yeon finds San in her rooms and begs her not to marry the jerk who struck her, urging her to run away.
Bi-yeon suggests that Minister Eun can join them, but San points out that he would lose everything if he did so. She argues that her father employs thousands of people and wonders if they should they all suffer because of her. When Bi-yeon succumbs to tears, San uses it as an excuse to leave.
San is surprised to see Rin outside and asks if he overheard anything. He delivers the red pouch and explains that it’s from the crown prince in return for her gift. Rin asks San to attend the party in two days time and explains that he’ll be her escort.
Rin invites San to meet him the next day to prepare for the event. San starts to explain that things are complicated, but Rin interrupts that if she has to leave, he will explain that it’s because she had to depart in a hurry. He tells her pointedly, “You can do that.”
After a moment, San agrees to attend the party and solemnly admits that it might be her last chance to smile and dance. She removes the ornament from the pouch and decides that she wants to make some happy memories for the last time.
The next day, Dan runs out to welcome San and invites Rin to follow them inside. San surveys Dan’s accessories as her hostess picks out something for her to wear. San asks for something that won’t draw attention, and Dan jokingly asks if that’s why she’s partnered with Rin.
San denies that they’re partners, and Rin confirms that he’s her escort because it’s her first time in attendance. Dan declares it odd, since Rin has never attended the party before either. In a hilarious moment, Dan quotes something Rin said about such a party once: “Why would I go to a party and dance with strangers? I would rather impersonate a goat in the middle of the street.” Even funnier is Rin’s face when she says this. Haha.
Finally, Dan settles on a dress, and when she asks Rin if San looks pretty, he holds himself back and says nothing.
Rin waits outside, and when Dan presents San in a formal hanbok, Rin can hardly believe his eyes. Dan adds a hair ornament and tells San, “You look so pretty.” Dan proposes that they practice dancing and San and Rin both protest, but Dan won’t be dissuaded, explaining that the maypole dance is the essence of the party.
While Won and Princess Wonsung oversee the final details of the party, the blue ribbon of the maypole blows against the prince. As Won holds it in his hands, Dan hands Rin the blue ribbon from the makeshift maypole at their house and explains that it represents fate.
Dan demonstrates how the dance is meant to tie and untie knots to determine if the other person is meant for them. Much to their discomfort, Rin and San are left alone to practice when Dan runs off to call in a musician.
At the same time, Won surveys San’s bracelet on his wrist and happily declares, “This is so grubby.”
As San practices the maypole dance, Rin reminds her that she said that this would be her last opportunity. Rin asks if that means that San is to be married soon, since only unmarried men and women can attend the party. San vaguely admits that maybe that’s what she meant, so Rin asks again if she’s going to get married.
When San admits that she might if someone asks for her hand, Rin asks, “Will you say yes?” San doesn’t know how to answer, so Rin continues, “Do not say yes to such a marriage proposal.” When he ends by addressing her as young “Lady San,” her real name, she whips around in surprise. Whoa, he knew?
And at the palace, an unsuspecting Won gazes dreamily at San’s “grubby” bracelet.
As the romantic angles of this drama pick up speed, it’s difficult not to get caught up with Won’s enthusiasm, because he’s lived such a lonely and isolated life. Won’s so happy as he thinks about the woman that he loves that it doesn’t dawn on him that anything can seriously go wrong. Of course, that doesn’t keep storm clouds from swirling around Won as he’s lost in his optimistic reverie. The only uncertainty is: What exactly will bring him to his senses? Will it be Song In’s blackmail of Minister Eun to secure San as Jeon’s wife? Or will it be the possibility that Won refuses to see — that his best and most loyal friend may be the man that San’s heart beats for? If that bracelet is any indication of how much Won cares for San, we’re looking at a mega heartbreak to come.
When Won bravely and boldly declared his love for San to Rin, it struck me how one-sided his pursuit of San has been. When San admitted to Rin that she had to leave so that Won won’t be even sadder when she goes, it proves how she’s focused on how he feels about her, not the other way around. San has always been careful to maintain a certain distance from Won, especially when Rin is around. Won’s charms aren’t completely lost on San, but I get the feeling that she prefers to keep him as a friend, especially because he’s Rin’s friend. And I think that she’s been careful around Rin because she doesn’t want to come between the two friends.
I’ve had a difficult time with the romantic connection between Won and San, and I think that now I understand why. It’s because San has been careful to keep Won at arm’s length all along. The only reason that makes sense is that she doesn’t return Won’s affections in quite the same way because there might be someone else. Won and Rin are so used to Rin being in second place that is hasn’t dawned on either one of them the he can ever be first. But I think that’s exactly what could be happening here.
From that first night that they spent together in the cave until now, San has been more receptive to Rin’s morsels of attention than Won’s bounty. I think that this triangle only exists because Rin is so accustomed to deferring to Won, and as a prince, Won has a distorted perspective about his friend. We know very well how Won and Rin both feel about San, and now I’m anxious to know how she feels about them.
As San’s true identity becomes known, her relationship with both men is bound to change, especially now that marriage has been mentioned. The best way to protect her from having to marry that sleazy excuse of a man would be to marry her to someone else. Poor Rin, the only thing worse than being in a romantic triangle with your best friend is to be in one with your disgusting brother.
As we learned at the very beginning of this saga when Jeon conspired to marry the much younger San, marriage is used to keep the girls of Goryeo from becoming tribute to Yuan. Which brings us to Dan, who has come to the attention of Princess Wonsung in the most unfortunate way. The best way to spare her from becoming tribute is for someone influential to marry her, and that can only mean that Dan has the potential to complicate the triangle of Won, Rin, and San in a very significant way. Both Won and Rin hold the blue ribbon of fate in their hands. Just who exactly are they entangled with?
- The King Loves: Episodes 1-2
- Premiere Watch: School 2017, The King Loves, Man Who Dies to Live, Reunited Worlds
- A house and friendship divided in The King Loves
- Tension in a garden of flowers for The King Loves
- Assassin-filled forests and masked dances in The King Loves
- Main writer behind The King Loves revealed to be Song Ji-nah
- The King Loves to play in azalea-filled forests
- Yoon-ah steals the hearts of two best friends in The King Loves
- Im Shi-wan as a young prince for MBC’s The King Loves