The King Loves: Episodes 15-16
As San’s two identities converge, she secretly struggles to protect those she cares about from any of the fallout. But she’s not the only one who’s burdened with safeguarding their family and friends — Won and Rin are just as challenged in their attempts to assist those close to them, and the repercussions of their actions come to threaten their precious bonds of friendship.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Rin enters Won’s chambers and asks him to stop Jeon, who plans to deliver a proposal letter to Minister Eun’s daughter that day. Won readily agrees to the request and asks Eunuch Kim to provide him with more guards so that he will look every inch the crown prince.
Won’s request is ignored, and Jang Eui explains that because the king approved the marriage, Won’s interference will be considered open disobedience. Won knows that all too well and points out that Rin does too, which is why he spent the last six days trying to stop it himself. Won looks at his exhausted friend and promises, “I will take care of this.”
Back in the present, San finally learns that Won is the crown prince when he makes his appearance at her house. Minister Eun asks the prince if he has an order, and Won halts the proposal.
Won confronts Wang Young about Minister Eun’s considerable wealth, only to be reminded that the king already granted permission for the marriage. Eunuch Kim hands Won a list of Minister Eun’s assets, which was compiled by Rin. He also provided Won with a list of the assets that Jeon would receive as a wedding gift. Won reads out the generous list and asks Minister Eun, “Were you threatened?”
Won turns to Jeon and guesses that he needs the money to support his extra soldiers (the insinuation being that he’d need them for a rebellion). San lowers her head when Won approaches her to explain why the marriage must be stopped, “If your father’s properties go to him, it could cause problems for me. You can resent me if you want. But I advise you to stay away from a man like him.” With that, Won departs, and San looks up at his retreating figure.
Dressed in her normal garb of pants and a tunic, San walks down a street in a daze and thinks of Won and Rin. In voiceover, we hear her say:
“I wanted to stay like this. One more day. Just for today. I was happy and in pain. The person who was always smiling at me had a sad smile, and it made my heart ache. And the person next to him would avoid looking at me. When I looked at him, he would always be looking somewhere else. It made my heart ache. Which one of them made my heart ache more?”
San finds herself in front of the inn but turns to walk away and sees Rin, who explains that he followed her from her house because he was worried that she might bump around or fall. San admits that she would like to know how Rin would react if she tripped. (You’re not the only one.)
San asks if he revealed her true identity to Won, but Rin admits that he couldn’t tell him yet. Since Won didn’t notice her, San knows that he stopped the marriage only because Rin asked him to.
San wants to know Rin’s real identity, and when he confesses that he’s the son of the high-ranking minister, Wang Young, it takes a few seconds for her to digest the news. San apologizes for her rude behavior towards Rin, but Rin apologizes as well, since he and Won deceived her.
San walks away but turns to ask why Rin spoke to her politely from the beginning, even though he thought she was a servant. Rin struggles with his feelings as he admits, “Because you were the woman my master loved. He loved you from the start.”
Won walks with his eunuchs and nervously asks if he can just visit his father tomorrow, trying to cut and run. Eunuch Kim explains that he was ordered to come immediately, so Won musters up his courage and reminds himself that he did nothing wrong.
Won enters the king’s quarters to the sound of breaking pottery. The king angrily confronts Princess Wonsung about the torture of one of his friends as she calmly drops cups onto the floor, where they shatter. He fumes over her selecting the man’s daughter as a tribute, adding further insult to injury.
The king asks Won if he was aware that his mother had the man and his daughter tortured, their assets seized, and exile ordered. King Chungryeol suggests that she was behind his interference in the wedding as well, but Won asks for a chance to explain what happened.
When the king challenges Won’s treatment of Rin, Princess Wonsung laughs and asks, “Since when did you care about the crown prince’s friend?” Incensed, the king throws down a scroll and storms out.
Won’s mother explains that she used Dan to send Wang Young a warning, adding that she was surprised that he fought back with a marriage. She’s thankful that Won put a stop to the marriage and helped her, causing Won to worriedly pick up the thrown scroll. In it, he sees that Dan’s name has been included on the list of tributes.
Princess Wonsung reminds her son that the upcoming wedding between Jeon and San would have released Dan from the obligation, which means he’s doomed Dan to become a tribute. Won becomes angry, but his mother sternly clarifies that Wang Young disobeyed her and forced her hand.
At the same time, Jeon strikes Rin, who insists that Won knew nothing about Dan’s selection as a tribute. Jeon ignores him and wonders if Won demanded Dan as proof of Rin’s loyalty.
Their father walks in with news that a royal official just confirmed that Dan is on the list of tributes. Jeon pounds a table in anguish, while Rin insists that there must be some way out. His father yells, “The only way out was for your brother to marry. They cannot demand a tribute from a family with an upcoming marriage!”
Won paces in his chambers and then calls for his bodyguards, surprised to see a substitute in Jin Gwan’s place. Jang Eui explains that his partner wasn’t well and confirms that he’s upset about Dan.
Won orders them to bring Rin to him but then decides he will go to him. Won asks about So-hwa, since he still doesn’t know San’s true identity, only to learn that she hasn’t been seen in days.
Won hesitates, suddenly unsure about his friends, “What shall I say? What am I to them? They come and go with ease. They all say it is best for me. They deceive me for me, and leave me for me.”
Rin sits at his sister’s bedside and treats her fever with a wet cloth. Dan awakens and tearfully confides to her brother that she’s afraid. She worries that she’ll never see her father or brothers again once she goes to Yuan, and Rin has to look away as he confirms Dan’s fears.
Dan’s voice breaks when she admits that she doesn’t want to go, so Rin consoles her, “You do not have to go. I will make that happen.” When Dan asks for details, Rin tells her with a reassuring smile that it’s a secret. Aww, no. What is he planning?
A knock on Minister Eun’s gate announces a late night visitor — it’s Song In, who informs Minister Eun that he’s there to escort San. Minister Eun protests at the late hour, but Song In explains that the king himself sent a carriage for San, who is the only one from the household who was summoned.
As the carriage speeds towards the palace, San recalls her father’s warning, “No matter what happens, do not take off your veil. If anyone finds out that you do not have a scar on your face, I am not sure how much more you will be punished for this.”
Bi-yeon had offered to take San’s place, but Minister Eun had dismissed the idea because of Song In’s presence. Just before San departed, Minister Eun was prepared to tell her what to do if the king ordered her to remove the veil. San had interrupted to ask what would happen to the crown prince if her hidden identity was revealed, along with the fact that she and the crown prince were acquainted.
Minister Eun, Bi-yeon, and Goo-hyung were all taken aback when San had confirmed that she knew the crown prince. Minister Eun had carefully replied, “He will also be punished for breaking the law. For hiding you.” San’s thoughts return to the present as her carriage arrives at the palace.
Won looks bored as he waits for Rin and jumps anxiously when he hears a noise. He mutters, “That idiot. Why did he not come earlier? He knew I would be waiting.”
Rin’s outside, and he asks Jin Gwan not to report his whereabouts to Won. The bodyguard confesses that he must make the report, so Rin instructs him not to report anything else. Jin Gwan asks what Rin’s thoughts are, but he answers, “I prefer that you do not know what is on my mind.” Rin then opens a door, and is greeted by Princess Wonsung’s attendants.
Eunuch Kim escorts Won to the king’s chambers where Jeon, San, and Minister Song are already assembled. Boo-young sits by the king’s side as King Chungryeol explains that he wants Won to apologize for the rude interruption of Jeon’s marriage.
But first, the king orders Won to pour tea for the guests in apology (a purposefully demeaning act) and has them sit down. Won takes a deep breath to collect himself before he offers a cheerful face and promises to pour cups all night long if necessary. Aw.
San keeps her head down as Won fills Jeon’s cup. The king demands to know if Princess Wonsung asked Won to stop the wedding, but he insists that she knew nothing about it. When pressed for an explanation, Won offers that since he’s single, he was jealous and perhaps a bit hung over from the party the night before.
The king asks Minister Song to renegotiate the marriage, but the minister notes that the news is sure make its way back to Yuan with the envoys. Minister Song worries how the great Yuan emperor, Won’s grandfather, will feel about the situation.
San stares at Won as he stands before the king. Won explains that he couldn’t bear to send a young lady with a scar to someone with Jeon’s personality, certain that he would be angered every time he looked at her.
Boo-young tells Won that he has nothing to worry about. She pretends to be alarmed that she spoke up without permission, but King Chungryeol’s curiosity is piqued and he asks for an explanation.
This is the opportunity Boo-young was looking for, so she shares that she heard that a good doctor miraculously erased San’s scar.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
San kneels before the king as he urges her to remove her veil, but she can’t bring herself to take it off.
Outside, Eunuch Choi risks a meeting with Song In to report that Rin is with Princess Wonsung. Song In wants to know what was discussed, but Eunuch Choi explains that everyone was sent away.
Inside, Rin begs Princess Wonsung to remove his sister from the tribute list, which she considers as a rebellious act against the Yuan Dynasty. Princess Wonsung laughs when Rin offers to take his sister’s place as a non-service hostage instead, something that sons of noblemen could do.
Rin adds earnestly, “I will go wherever you tell me to. I can go to the front line, or I can even go to build a rampart or dig stone. I will go wherever you tell me to for as long as you want me there. Until you tell me to return, I will not come back.”
Princess Wonsung asks Rin what he will tell Won, but he doesn’t want the prince to know about the arrangement. She examines Rin closely before she admits, “If you became crown prince, then the king, you would have been a great king. You would love your people and be loved by them.” And because of that, Princess Wonsung admits that it would be best if Rin left and asks him not to tell Won anything.
Back in the king’s quarters, Chungryeol asks San to show her face, and Boo-young offers to “help” as Won eyes her suspiciously. She kneels before San and reaches for the veil when Won suddenly orders, “Let go of her.”
Boo-young coyly insists that she only wants to help and reaches for San’s veil again, but Won throws her aside, and she pulls the bracelet from his wrist as she falls. Boo-young calmly picks it up as Minister Song protests Won’s violence.
Won loses his temper and asks his father, “Do you really not know, or are you only pretending? Why do you let these wicked men surround you?” He adds that Jeon’s marriage was designed to expand his influence and wealth, but the king just ignores him to inquire after Boo-young instead.
The king motions for Boo-young to return to his side and takes the bracelet from her hand. They inspect it while the king explains that it came from a young girl who was interrogated. San learns of Won’s efforts on her behalf when the king shares how Won begged him to let the girl go free. The king even snickers as he adds that his son admitted that she was the first woman that he ever cared for.
The king orders Won to kneel and tosses the bracelet at him when he does so. King Chungryeol points to Boo-young and explains, “This girl belongs to me. You hurt your father’s woman. An apology is not enough.” He approaches Won with a cup of tea, and San’s eyes widen when the king pours it on his son.
To add insult to injury, Boo-young refills the cup as the king chastises Won for humiliating him with the cancellation of the wedding. He empties the second cup onto Won’s head as Jeon and Minister Song look on smugly. San can’t hold back her tears as Won continues to kneel stoically, taking the abuse.
The king crouches in front of Won as he warns that there’s a limit to what he’ll put up with. Won looks his father in the eye as he’s cautioned to remember this lesson.
Inside her chambers, Princess Wonsung appears intoxicated by the incense, music, and wine. She asks Furatai about where Boo-young was in the room when Won knelt before the king. He admits that she was behind the king, and when Princess Wonsung realizes that Won knelt before her too, she utters, “My poor son.”
Furatai offers to kill Boo-young, but Princess Wonsung reasons that her peace would be short-lived, since the king would just find a replacement. Furatai steadies the dizzy princess as she slurs that because of her, Won is abused and alone, and she’s certain that Won would be better off without her.
Princess Wonsung grabs Furatai’s hand to ask if Won would care for her a little more if she sent him the girl that he likes. Princess Wonsung asks Furatai to find her as she laments, “My son is so lonely.”
Won arrives at the inn, and the attendant reports that she hasn’t seen Rin in seven days. She reports that Jin Gwan was there the night before, but when Won asks about the girl who followed him around, the attendant doesn’t answer.
The cart pullers try to practice alongside the guards in the courtyard when Won suddenly appears and orders them to follow him. Inside, Won hires the two cart pullers to find someone, a task they claim they’re actually good at.
A plate is set in front of Won as he asks them to find the girl that spent time with him. The cart pullers look puzzled as they gaze out the window at a retreating figure, the one who presumably delivered the plate. While they try to negotiate their compensation, the meeting is cut short when Won spits out a mouthful of overly salty food.
The cart puller in pigtails reminds his partner that he suspected that the girl had never cooked before. Realizing what that means, Won jumps up to find the inn’s attendant and is directed to the kitchen.
Won opens the doors and finds San inside, surprised that she didn’t return to the mountains. When she tries to explain why she stayed behind, Won notices that she’s speaking to him differently. San suddenly remembers that she must speak to Won informally, just as she did in the past, in order to hide the fact that she knows his true identity.
Won tries to wipe away some soot on San’s face as he wonders why anyone would hire her when she can’t seem to light a fire properly, but she swats him away and insists that she’s fine.
They walk together across a bridge while Won complains that he hasn’t seen Rin in days and that friends should communicate when they’re in need. San is unusually calm and agreeable, which catches Won’s attention. He comments on her strange behavior and wonders if she did something wrong.
San ignores the question and asks for a job at the secret training site, but Won balks at the thought of her around so many men. San promises to stay in the kitchen to cook, which Won declares is even worse, ha.
San finally has an honest moment when she admits that she’s keeping something from Won. He admits that he’s keeping something from her as well, but San asks him not to tell her what it is.
Won promises to reveal his secret one day, and San asks if she can stay by his side until then. San explains that she wants to be there for him if he needs to vent or lean on someone, which, aww.
Won studies San carefully and then moves very close to her face, even more convinced that something is strange, because she’d usually kick him if he got too close to her. Won checks to see if San is sick and finds that her pulse is normal. When he places his hands on her face to check for a fever, San can’t hold herself back and twists his arm to create some distance.
After he recovers from the assault, Won turns San toward him and instructs, “Remember what I am about to say. You are my first. Once you find out my secret and see what I did and will do, you will probably end up disliking me. You are my first. Never forget that.”
Meanwhile, Jang Eui and the substitute bodyguard watch the scene from afar until a movement catches Jang Eui’s eye. He runs after a man in black with a black hat, but loses him when the man hides along a street. When he emerges, a tilt of the hat reveals that the mysterious man is Furatai.
Dan enters her garden to meet with a waiting Won. They take a stroll together, and Won shares that he heard that she was sick. Dan wonders if Won asked about her, but he confesses that he hasn’t seen Rin, and Dan admits that she only saw her brother briefly when she woke up.
Won apologizes that he learned too late that Dan’s name was on the tribute list. Tears betray her as Dan tries to assure Won that she’ll be fine. She tells him that she’s grateful that she had the chance to say goodbye before she leaves for Yuan in five days.
Won informs Dan that his mother is hosting a tea party in two days with a few young ladies and invites her to join them. He confides that he’s to choose one of the guests and drops a bombshell when he asks Dan if she would accept him if he were to ask for her hand.
Before Dan can answer his question, Won explains that if they marry, it could never be a real marriage because she’s like a little sister to him. She understands that his intent is to remove her from the tribute list, and even though she knows that Won will never love her, Dan can’t hide her relief and happiness.
Eunuch Choi beams as he announces each guest’s arrival at the tea party, but looks unsettled when Dan appears, accompanied by Jin Gwan. Court Lady Jo presents Dan to Princess Wonsung, who notes that the girl has lost weight. Once all of the girls are assembled, Won is called in—he’s clearly ill at ease, but he manages to nod encouragingly at Dan.
Princess Wonsung rises to greet her guests and confirms that Won will choose one of them as his bride. He is encouraged to look at the girls closely, and they giggle when he admits he would prefer to steal glances at them later.
Princess Wonsung notes that she sent five invitations. She knows Won invited Dan, but then she adds that she invited one additional young lady. She asks the final guest to step forward… and introduces Minister Eun’s only daughter, San.
Won’s mother explains that the girl was scarred in an attack, but treatment from a great doctor removed it. She confronts San, “Does this mean there was never a scar on your face?”
Won approaches his mother and whispers that she’s the girl who almost married Jeon, but she ignores him and orders San to reveal her face. San glances at Dan before she slowly reaches back to untie her veil.
As the veil lowers, Won looks up at San, and his eyes widen in disbelief as he gazes upon the face of the woman he loves.
Won’s potential marriage to Dan developed more quickly than I expected. Now Won has a difficult choice to make — marry the woman that he loves, or marry Dan and save Rin from being sent to Yuan as tribute, something he’s not even aware of yet. Because as Dan’s brother, Rin would be excused from going to Yuan as tribute due to an upcoming wedding in his family.
As far as San is concerned, marrying Won would protect her from Jeon and eliminate her worries about how her deception could harm those close to her. But since she she hasn’t sorted out her feelings for the two men who make her heart ache, San’s probably not ready for marriage just yet. Won has no idea that she has feelings for both him and Rin, and he just discovered her secret, so he doesn’t know about the risk attached to their association. Gah! If only everyone could sit down to talk honestly. Their inability to confide in each other has complicated matters to an impossible degree.
Rin has been in the most difficult position as he tries to protect the prince, San, and Dan all at once. It was hard to watch him offer himself as a tribute in Dan’s place, willing to accept hard labor or dying on the front line. Rin already hurt Won when he asked him to stop Jeon’s marriage, and he knows he can’t risk damaging his friend even further now that he knows Song In wants to drive a wedge between the king and the prince. At any rate, it was a fine, noble moment for Rin as he stoically accepted his fate in order to atone for his interference in Jeon’s marriage, which ultimately imperiled his sister.
King Chungryeol’s jealousy, prejudices, and emotional decisions prove why the plot to depose Won is so politically important: It’s much easier to manipulate and control the pureblooded king of Goryeo than a king who has the power of the Yuan Dynasty behind him. In a way, it’s a shame that the king is so hateful towards Princess Wonsung, who’s such a fascinating character. She’s lonely, isolated, intelligent, shrewd, and brutally realistic. She lashes out like a hurt animal, but what she longs for is acceptance and love. Her confession to Rin, that he would make a good king and therefore poses a threat to Won, was breathtakingly raw. It’s her acceptance of reality that sets up Won’s impossible choice: Dan or San? Since she knows that Won is about to lose his friend, Rin, Princess Wonsung wants her son to have what she didn’t: a loving partner.
When I compare Princess Wonsung to the weak King Chungryeol, I can’t help but wonder how different life in the palace would be if they could get along. Unfortunately, Won’s mother is beginning to show some strain from her years of turmoil, and as strong as her personality may be, she can only fight alone for so long. No matter how difficult she makes Won’s life, his mother cares about her son, but the same can’t be said about his father, who is quickly becoming the prince’s worst enemy.
- 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