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Mr. Sunshine: Episode 6

The plot finally thickens, and the relationships in our love pentagon get a little more complicated. As Eugene discovers more about his parents’ deaths, he finds more enemies and struggles to reconcile his painful memories with the nation that exploited his family. He also becomes more aware of his relationship with Ae-shin, the intriguing noblewoman who challenges his perceptions of class and loyalty. Ae-shin is the center of attention, but we learn more about her admirers in this episode as they embark on a new bromance that could get one of them killed.

 
EPISODE 6 RECAP

Ae-shin and Dong-mae pick up the mess caused by her maid running into the shelf, and Dong-mae notices the bottom of Ae-shin’s skirt brush his fingers. When Ae-shin sees him staring at her skirt, she stands up defensively, but Dong-mae grabs onto the end. He looks up to her and tells her that he came back to Joseon because of that one moment.

In a quick flashback montage, we see which moment he’s referring to — when young Ae-shin saved his life by hiding him in her carriage. Young Dong-mae was ungrateful, calling her a spoiled noble lavished in luxury and wiping his bloodied lip with the end of her dress. He’d clutched her skirt in the same tense way. It’s a striking parallel to this current moment, and present Dong-mae admits that no matter how many times he turns away, this is his only path.

Dong-mae finally lets go of Ae-shin’s skirt after a long beat and silently walks away in the rain, leaving Ae-shin on the verge of tears. When Dong-mae arrives at his tarot house hideout, his silent companion, the tarot card reader, hands him a cloth to dry himself. Dong-mae says that he forgot to run her errand, and she writes in his palm that he’s an idiot. She gently smacks him on the back as he walks by, and he says that it hurts.

Eugene meets a familiar servant who used to serve in Ignobleman’s home with his family. He recognizes this servant as the one who beat him in his youth at the command of their owner, so he doesn’t return the happy greeting from the servant. He demands to know where his parents were buried, but the servant only knows the general area. Eugene threatens him to find the exact location, if he doesn’t want to die.

That night, Ae-shin dumps her skirt outside and tells her maid to throw it away. The maid is confused that she would throw out such valuable clothing, but Ae-shin wants nothing to do with that contaminated fabric.

The next morning, Hee-sung secretly arrives at his home and quickly shushes his servants from greeting him too loudly. He stacks up boxes of gifts in his servant’s hands and proudly walks into his home, announcing his arrival to his mother and father. Hee-sung’s parents rush out and scold him for coming back when they explicitly told him not to, and Hee-sung can’t seem to gauge what’s going on.

A servant approaches the parents and shares that they were able to track down the old servant and send him to the U.S. embassy. But before the servant can finish his update, Hee-sung’s parents comically shush him and shoo him away. They embrace Hee-sung to distract him from the crisis in their household, and confused Hee-sung gladly accepts his parents’ warm welcome.

On horseback, Eugene follows the servant to the hills where his parents were buried. Nearby, Ae-shin’s teacher Seung-gu happens to be paying respects to his family and Eugene asks if he can borrow some of the alcohol, which is used to honor those who have passed. Seung-gu gladly agrees and generously offers the rest of his alcohol to Eugene without payment.

The servant scrambles to find the exact location where Eugene’s parents were buried, but he’s unable to determine the burial spot. He explains that it’s been 30 years since he buried them, so he doesn’t remember. That angers Eugene even more, and he grabs the servant by the collar, rebuking the man for not visiting the people he beat to death, not even once.

Eugene cries for his parents, who didn’t even get a proper burial, and the servant begs on his knees for forgiveness. People who were born as slaves were treated as such, so there wasn’t much that the servant man could do for his parents.

Eugene returns the alcohol bottle to Seung-gu and offers a handful of flowers for the burial site that Seung-gu is at. Seung-gu says that it’s his father, who died during the war against the Americans. He explains that this whole area is a burial site for all the victims of war and pillages. He notes that Eugene was coming from the burial area for slaves, and Eugene confirms that his parents were indeed slaves. Seung-gu seems surprised that the son of slaves became such a high-ranking American soldier, and he jokes that he may want to redeem payment for the alcohol.

Eugene returns to Glory Hotel, and Hina greets him with a letter addressed to him. He looks excited as he opens up the letter and reads the message from the American man, Joseph, who saved him in his youth. Joseph welcomes him to Joseon and says that he’s currently in Hamgyeong, hoping to visit Eugene in Hanseong soon. He tells Eugene, who he calls Great and Noble One, that he’s living proof that God exists.

Hina notices Eugene smiling as he reads the letter and tells him that she rarely sees him smile. He thinks about the few moments he’s smiled during his time in Joseon, and they’ve all been with Ae-shin.

Then, Hina asks if Eugene would be willing to meet with some powerful folks who are curious about the black-haired American soldier. Eugene asks if her job as the hotel owner includes arranging meetings for powerful men, and Hina clarifies that whatever she asks of Eugene, she asks as a woman.

Cheekily prefacing that she’s asking as the hotel owner, Hina then asks if Eugene is still having a comfortable stay and mentions that she knows of his room being searched through. Eugene says that nothing was stolen, but Hina comments that if nothing was stolen, usually something’s been exposed.

Eugene walks up to his room and stares at himself in the mirror. He thinks back to the servant’s desperate explanation that slaves are born slaves, and there’s nothing they can do to change that. Then, he thinks about Ae-shin’s explanation of her noble status, and these two contrasting conversations haunt him.

Meeting Ae-shin at the inn, Seung-gu adorably confesses his love for the innkeeper, which makes Ae-shin thoroughly uncomfortable. Talking through the door, Ae-shin updates Seung-gu that the American consulate visited their hideout, and Hee-sung visited her home. Seung-gu says that temporarily avoiding their hideout is easy, but Ae-shin will be tied down in her marriage. Ae-shin refuses to accept her fate in marriage, and she says that she’ll run away to another country and figure out a way to help Joseon from abroad.

Then, Seung-gu hands her the stolen gun and tells her to return it to the U.S. embassy, since they’re not thieves. Ae-shin is so shocked that she falls out of the door before quickly collecting herself. She asks why this is an “us” situation when Seung-gu stole this gun on his own, and Seung-gu reminds her that she’s always on his side. Ha, well played.

While Eugene and Kyle ride on horseback, they encounter a passing carriage. Eugene recognizes the carriage as belonging to Ae-shin, and her maid mentions seeing Eugene from outside. Hearing this, Ae-shin opens her window to check. They pass by each other, looking on in silence. Kyle picks up that Ae-shin wants to see Eugene, and he teases Eugene for hiding something from him.

They eat chicken soup at the inn, and Eugene tells Kyle that this was the first meal he had in Joseon. He admits that it was his first time eating this because when he lived in Joseon as a child, he was a low-class slave and couldn’t afford such luxuries. Kyle suddenly feels bad for Eugene and tries to order more soup for his friend, but the innkeeper isn’t anywhere to be found.

As they eat, Eugene asks if Kyle has any more information on Logan Taylor, the American man who was assassinated for tarnishing America’s reputation. Eugene mentions that the Japanese are watching Logan’s family, and he suspects that Logan was involved in some secret exchange. Kyle finds this potential investigation dangerous and warns Eugene to stay out of it.

Minister Lee Se-hoon (the Japanese-siding foreign affairs minister) speaks to Emperor Gojong about a rampant rumor among the Joseon people regarding a slush fund and claims that this is fake news false. But Gojong is astute and accuses Minister Lee of probing to figure out how much the emperor knows. Minister Lee tries to defend himself, but he’s quickly dismissed at the news that Wan-ik has arrived.

Wan-ik limps toward the emperor, dressed in western clothing and with a cane in hand. He respectfully greets him with a bow, and with a stern face, Gojong welcomes Wan-ik back from his work as the Korean consulate in Japan. He tells Wan-ik to rest up and recover from his long journey and quickly dismisses Wan-ik without any further discussion.

Minister Lee insults Wan-ik as he walks out of the palace, calling him despicable and unworthy of a government position. He scolds Wan-ik for disregarding a respectful greeting and continues to taunt him until Wan-ik slaps him across the face with his gloves. Wan-ik says that this is his greeting and thanks him for his kind remarks. Then, he limps off and leaves Minister Lee speechless.

Kyle assigns Eugene to a new job of protecting Logan Taylor’s widow, and Eugene is clearly not excited to take on this job. Mrs. Taylor looks aggravated by her crying baby and orders her servant to quiet the baby. The young girl (the same girl Eugene saved from the Japanese soldiers) tries to explain that the baby has a fever, but Mrs. Taylor gets impatient and slaps the girl across the face. Eugene intervenes and tells Mrs. Taylor to show some dignity, but she isn’t willing to respect any filthy Joseon people, especially since she believes that they killed her husband.

Mrs. Taylor is escorted to her home by Eugene, and she meets with Wan-ik, who’s accompanied by Dong-mae’s gang. In Korean, Wan-ik asks Dong-mae what the Joseon bastard is doing in an American uniform, and Dong-mae responds that this “bastard” is an American who is also fluent in Korean.

Wan-ik sheepishly looks away and gets straight to business with Mrs. Taylor, speaking to her in broken English about his offer on the house. Mrs. Taylor calls his English trash and speaks back to him in Korean. She doesn’t care about his offer and tells him to just sign the contract, which Wan-ik does after a couple of grumbles about how rude Mrs. Taylor is. Mrs. Taylor signs the contract, cursing her husband for leaving her in this despicable country, and tells Wan-ik to send her the money quickly.

Eugene catches Dong-mae giving the house one more look as they leave, and he asks if the document they’re looking for is here. Dong-mae says that they’ve thoroughly searched the place, but he tells Eugene that he can look again. Eugene asks if he’s proposing a partnership, which Dong-mae rejected before, and Dong-mae rejects it again. He’s open to Eugene’s help, but only to find the document and not to share its secrets. Eugene claims that he has no interest in the document anyway, though he does seem curious.

Dong-mae’s right-hand man, Yujo, interrupts their conversation and informs Dong-mae that Hee-sung is staying at Glory Hotel. Dong-mae excuses himself for an appointment and tells Eugene to take care, and Eugene thanks him for always telling him to take care when they part. Dong-mae smiles at that snide comment and admits to Eugene that he’s starting to like him, even though he shouldn’t.

When Eugene arrives at Glory Hotel, he finds Dong-mae in the lobby and asks if they were waiting for him. Eugene offers to let them into his room if they’ve decided to search his room today. Their conversation is cut short by Hee-sung, who happily greets Eugene and introduces himself to Dong-mae. Hina watches the trio and adds that Hee-sung is Ae-shin’s fiancé. At that epithet, both Eugene and Dong-mae’s gazes sharpen, and they get on the defensive. Hee-sung mentions that he’s noticed Eugene summoning Ae-shin to the embassy and asks what’s going on. At that comment, Dong-mae’s eyes shift to his new prey.

Hina notices that Eugene and Dong-mae are reaching for their weapons, and she asks them to take it outside if they wish to use them. Both of them pull their hands away from their weapons, and Hee-sung suggests that they all have a drink together. Eugene rejects the offer, and Dong-mae also rejects it, saying that he may kill one or two people if he has a drink that night.

As both Eugene and Dong-mae leave, Hee-sung comments to Hina about the two men’s oscillating emotions. Hina predicts that someone will end up heartbroken, and they can only hope that neither of them will be that person. Hee-sung agrees and curiously asks where Hina fits in. Hina keeps it a mystery and smiles.

In his room, Eugene thinks back to Ae-shin explaining her relationship with Hee-sung. She’d claimed that they were friends, and Eugene scoffs at her lie.

Ae-shin’s aunt meets with Hee-sung’s mother to discuss the upcoming marriage. Initially, Hee-sung’s mother denies that Hee-sung has returned, but Aunt tells her that Hee-sung already visited their home to see Ae-shin. Since they’re already ten years late, Aunt asks Hee-sung’s mother to send the letter confirming their engagement as soon as possible so that Ae-shin can get married in her prime. Hee-sung’s mother doesn’t seem to be in such a rush and compliments Ae-shin’s beauty and discretion.

Aunt takes pride in Ae-shin’s delicacy and discretion, and we jump to discreet Ae-shin in all black running along rooftops in attempts to return the stolen gun. She analyzes the various different entrances and makes her way to the most inconspicuous part of the embassy. As she sneaks through the quarters, she runs into two soldiers and quickly knocks them unconscious. She apologizes for hitting them too hard before quickly making her way to Eugene’s office to drop off the gun.

The soldiers realize that an intruder is among them and quickly search through the buildings to find Ae-shin, but she’s already on her way out. She jumps over the wall and lands safely outside the embassy, or so she thinks. The young embassy-loitering boy (who Eugene saved from the Japanese soldiers) points to disguised Ae-shin and explains to Eugene that this is exactly how he scales the wall. Ah, she’s been caught red-handed!

Ae-shin freezes in place, and Eugene congratulates the boy for being hired by the embassy. He tells the boy to forget what just happened, and the boy happily agrees before running off. Eugene crouches down next to Ae-shin and tries to look into her eyes, but she hides behind her hat. So Eugene pulls her face mask away, and Ae-shin raises her voice, fearful that she’ll be further exposed.

Eugene shushes her and pulls her up to walk beside him naturally until they get far enough. As they walk, Eugene asks about her fiancé, who she previously described as a friend. He asks if she’s getting married, and Ae-shin changes the topic by saying that they’ve walked far enough from the embassy. But Eugene repeats the question and says that he’s asking out of genuine curiosity. Ae-shin ignores his question again and says that she should head home soon.

Ae-shin says that she’s indebted to him once again and tries to leave, but Eugene steps in her way and offers to walk her home, since she’ll be safer with him. She says that she’ll stand out with him, but that’s the exact reason he’s offering to accompany her. He says, “The safest place in Joseon is by my side because I’m the one who stands out.”

As they walk side by side, Eugene narrates his letter to Joseph: “Dear Joseph, I worry about the cold weather where you are in Hamgyeong. I hope you are well. All my days in Joseon are peaceful.” While walking, Ae-shin asks him if he’s still considering her offer to be her partner in that thing called “love.” He stares at Ae-shin silently and continues to narrate: “My days are not peaceful. How is it that I want to respond to her?”

Ae-shin doesn’t seem bothered by his lack of response and thanks him for walking alongside her because this is a moment that she’ll never be able to relive as a noblewoman. She stops and says that she’ll continue on alone. Eugene narrates: “I almost caught her and told her not to leave, so that we could walk further, side by side.” Ae-shin heads on her way, and Eugene watches her leave with her mask in his hand.

In his hotel room, Eugene continues to write his letter: “I don’t even know where ‘there’ is in Joseon, but I keep going further away to ‘there.’ When do you come to Hanseong? I miss you.” Eugene signs off the letter and in voiceover, he admits that he probably won’t send this letter because it feels like a confession.

The next morning, Eugene finds the stolen gun on his desk and checks its function. He finds all the bullets in place, but the trigger is missing a piece that disables it from firing a bullet. We see that the small missing piece is on the ground at a metal shop belonging to Seung-gu’s friend.

Kyle enters the office spouting rudimentary Korean phrases with Gwan-soo, and Eugene shows them that the stolen gun has been returned. They’re interrupted by Ignobleman’s former servant, who has visited again to deliver something to Eugene. The servant hands him a piece of carved wood, which looks like a hairpiece belonging to his mother, and tells Eugene that his wife had saved that when they buried his parents. Eugene remembers carving that piece of wood in his youth, and he stares at the hairpiece in reminiscence.

The servant also reveals that there was another player who caused the death of Eugene’s parents. This person had favored Eugene’s mother and made a deal with Ignobleman, which led to the fatal sequence of events. That person is none other than the minister of foreign affairs, Minister Lee Se-hoon.

Minister Lee deals with his whining lover, who asks for money and complains that he only values mere porcelain pieces. Minister Lee scolds her for trivializing the porcelain, which he believes will bring him fame and success. She stomps out of the room in a fuss, and Minister Lee yells at his young servant for placing her dirty fingers on his garment. He kicks her to the ground and demands a new garment.

As Minster Lee passes through the town on his carriage, his entourage announces his presence, and the Joseon people clear the way. We hear the clatter of hooves and see that it’s Eugene on horseback right in the way of Minister Lee’s path. Rearing the horse, Eugene frightens the minister and smiles as he says that the horse doesn’t know how to go backwards. So Eugene rides his horse at full speed towards the minister and jumps over the carriage, causing the terrified minister to fall over.

Minister Lee falls into the puddles on the ground, and he screams at his soldiers to find out who that horse rider is. He’s thoroughly humiliated, and the Joseon people cover up their laughs as they watch him lose face.

Eugene sits alone at a restaurant for a drink, and American soldiers salute to him when the walk in. Dong-mae joins him and reminds Eugene that he claimed to not like alcohol. Eugene says that he also doesn’t like Dong-mae, but he still responds to him. Touché. Dong-mae says that he must not like a lot of people, including Minister Lee, who he humiliated earlier that day. Eugene denies this and lies that his horse was just misbehaving.

Hee-sung then enters the restaurant, and he’s elated to see his two “friends.” He squeezes into the seat between them and joins them, despite their refusal to welcome him. A few drinks in, Hee-sung is already drunk and asks how the two can drink in silence. He asks why the two friends haven’t reconciled, and Dong-mae insists that they aren’t friends. Hee-sung makes a joke out of this and acknowledges that Dong-mae isn’t dongmu (the term for “friends,” which sounds similar to Dong-mae’s name) and reintroduces himself by name, ha!

Hee-sung says that having a drink together means that they’re friends, and both Eugene and Dong-mae put down their cups. Hee-sung takes a drink alone and asks why the two fought. Eugene says that they didn’t fight… yet. Out of curiosity, Hee-sung asks who would win in a fight between the two, and Eugene says that Hee-sung won’t know the outcome of the fight because he’ll probably kill Hee-sung before either one of them dies. Dong-mae smiles in agreement.

Hee-sung chuckles at this joke and asks another question: Why are they always so angry? They just stare at Hee-sung in annoyance, and Hee-sung takes that as a cue to ask a string of more questions. He asks Eugene who he would save if a Joseon person and an American were drowning, and then he asks Dong-mae who he would save if a Japanese person and a Joseon person were drowning. What if it were Eugene and him, and what if it were Dong-mae and him? Eugene and Dong-mae talk over him and take bets on who’s going to kill Hee-sung first.

Hee-sung throws himself a pity party because no one is going to save him from drowning, and he takes one last drink before throwing up. Eugene and Dong-mae are utterly disgusted.

The next day, Gwan-soo interviews the new embassy hire, the young boy who Eugene saved. For his previous job, the boy, who we later know as Domi, claims to have shuttled buckets of water from wells over ten times per day. Gwan-soo doesn’t believe Domi and tries to figure out the logistics of the boy’s claim. Domi smiles at him despite all the suffering he’s gone through, and Gwan-soo gets emotional as he sympathizes with the boy’s misfortune. He walks out fanning his eyes, and Eugene jokingly scolds Domi for making Gwan-soo cry.

Ae-shin practices the alphabet in her room, and she quickly hides her books when her cousin, Ae-soon, enters. Ae-shin respectfully offers her seat, and Ae-soon asks her to sneak some rice from storage without letting Aunt know. Ae-shin refuses, so Ae-soon belittles her by saying that Ae-shin’s parents didn’t even have a proper marriage, so she’s much lower in the hierarchy than the almighty Ae-soon.

Ae-shin doesn’t let her walk over her, and she calls out Ae-soon on her bluff, saying that the almighty Ae-soon is requesting for her to do something she can’t even do. Ae-shin threatens to tell Grandfather and Aunt about Ae-soon’s frivolous spending habits at the hotel if she dares to speak disrespectfully about her parents again. Ae-soon walks out in a fit, acquiescing to Ae-shin’s terms.

Ae-shin returns to her English studies, and in her book, she finds a pressed flower from the bunch that Hee-sung gave her. Ae-shin’s maid says that she couldn’t just throw away the flowers, so she saved one. Ae-shin looks at the flowers and wonders how this flower reminds her of the person who gave them to her (Hee-sung) and the person who didn’t (Eugene). She sticks the flower back into the book, where we see her practicing the alphabet along with Eugene’s name.

As Eugene leaves the embassy, he finds Domi’s older sister waiting at the entrance. He invites her inside and asks her what she’s holding. It’s the old swaddle for Logan Taylor’s baby, and she says that Mrs. Taylor threw it out to get a new one. She says that she coincidentally found out that Logan hid important documents in the swaddle after sewing up the cloth on multiple occasions. She rips open the swaddle and hands Eugene an envelope, which reads “Banque Russo-Asiatique.” This is the evidence of the slush fund that Dong-mae has been looking for.

Eugene opens up the envelope and reads the document, which exposes Emperor Gojong as the owner of the deposit. The girl asks if this document is worth a lot of money, and Eugene confirms this. The girl happily offers this document to Eugene as payment for saving the siblings’ lives, but Eugene seems more worried that this document could get him killed. He says ominously that the fate of Joseon could be in his hands.

Gojong tells his trusted minister that their ally, Russia, has lost power; their enemy, Japan, is more mistrustful; and their new visitors, the U.S., are just observers. On top of that, the receipt of their deposit is missing. He wonders if this is a punishment from his passed queen.

Gojong asks the minister if they know anything about Wan-ik’s tracking of the document. He knows that Wan-ik is a clever man who is fully aware that he’s being summoned to do nothing and also aware that he’s being watched. The minister assures him that if Wan-ik makes a move, then they’ll know where his allegiances lie.

Eugene picks at his food as he thinks about Dong-mae’s threat to kill whoever holds the document. Hina checks up on his meal, and Eugene takes that opportunity to ask about Dong-mae. She asks where to start, since Dong-mae has such a complicated story, and Eugene asks her to start with the Mushin Society.

Hee-sung invites himself to this story time and asks Eugene if he’s okay after all that drinking. Eugene reminds him that Hee-sung did most of drinking, and Hina reminds him that he kept blabbering on about drowning. Eugene excuses himself and says he’ll listen to the story another time, but they’re interrupted by a servant who has come to escort Hee-sung. Eugene recognizes this servant as the one accompanying Hee-sung’s father, and he comes to a sudden realization.

Eugene confirms Hee-sung’s birth year and the name of Hee-sung’s father. Hee-sung is all smiles until he notices the change of expression on Eugene’s face. His smile fades, and he tells Eugene that he’s used to people holding grudges against his family. He asks if it was his father or his grandfather who wronged him, but Eugene stays silent, brimming with anger.

Hee-sung’s father bursts into the pawnshop and blames the two former slave hunters for his current predicament. The runaway slave that they failed to capture has now returned as an American soldier to seek revenge, and it takes a moment for Il-shik and Choon-shik to realize that Eugene is that runaway slave. Hee-sung’s father throws the cursed ornament to them that Eugene left behind, and demands that they give him a high rate for putting him through this misery.

Hee-sung stands on a ledge, deep in thought, and takes a swig from his flask. He thinks about Eugene’s indignant tone as he confirmed the identity of his father, and he sighs. Next to him, Domi also sighs and asks Hee-sung if he’s found a job (lol is this Misaeng?). The boy shares that he’s frustrated because he’s so indebted that he doesn’t know how to repay the kindness he’s been afforded. Hee-sung smiles at the precocious boy and admits that he’s the opposite, with plenty of retribution to fulfill. He takes another swig from his flask and looks out into the dusk.

Eugene waits at the ceramist Eun-san’s home and thinks about his new enemy, Hee-sung. Ae-shin approaches the home and asks the apprentice to set her up with the usual haul of broken ceramic. She notices Eugene there and greets him, saying that it’s nice to see him in the daylight.

Eugene walks towards her with thoughts racing through his mind. He compares his miserable past as a slave with Ae-shin’s comfortable life as a noble. He thinks about Hee-sung and his vow to destroy the family that killed his parents. He asks Ae-shin if her offer about love still stands, and agrees to be her partner in love. Then, he takes a step forward.

 
COMMENTS

Now, this is what I needed! I was really starting to invest in the relationship between Eugene and Ae-shin, especially after the narration of the letter to Joseph. That letter was essentially a love letter to Ae-shin, and I found it poignantly honest about his uncertainty with his attraction to Ae-shin. He’s admitted that he’s curious about her, but I think he’s always been aware of class being an obstacle in their relationship. He was born into slavery, and she was born into nobility. Multiple times, Eugene has been reminded that he can’t change his class if he was born into it. But his whole existence refutes that concept, and now he’s trying to disprove that concept again by courting Ae-shin. What started out as genuine curiosity and innocent admiration has turned into a manipulative ploy to destroy the noble family (or maybe even the noble class in general?) that killed his parents.

I don’t think Eugene’s manipulative intentions are acceptable — they’re completely wrong and hurtful — but I do think that this creates an interesting inner turmoil for Eugene as a character. He’s been a bit bland so far, with his boo-hoo backstory being the only spine to his existence. I did appreciate the nuances shared about Eugene experiencing life as an immigrant and as a stranger in his own country. But Eugene’s screen time was starting to get repetitive, and it doesn’t help that Lee Byung-heon can’t enunciate and isn’t as exciting of an actor to me as the others. Luckily, this episode made me more interested in Eugene as a character, and I need this show to sustain my interest. Please.

I know that Eugene and Ae-shin took some significant steps forward in this episode, but I want to see more of Ae-shin and Dong-mae. I’m curious to explore why they find their past so charged and how that’s influenced the people they are now. There’s this strong tension and hatred between the two, but layered under that for Dong-mae is this concealed admiration for Ae-shin. I’m looking forward to how Dong-mae will react to Ae-shin’s secret identity and how that will change his perceptions of this noblewoman bathing in luxuries. I think that Dong-mae has a similar perspective to Eugene, that these noble people have been the bane of their past existence, so they don’t want any part of it. I can see the parallels between Dong-mae and Eugene, and I can see the potential bromance with both of them wanting to kill Hee-sung.

I looooved Hee-sung in this episode. What a delight it is to have such a fun character third-wheeling this tense, life-threatening bromance. He was undoubtedly my favorite part of this episode, with his shameless ability to insert himself into any situation. His light-hearted nature makes him so refreshing in the midst of many people who take themselves too seriously. But that carefree nature is also juxtaposed with his self-awareness and guilt associated with his family. The way his face transformed in response to Eugene’s distaste for his father was wonderful. You could see the façade fading and his deep understanding of his family’s sins being very sobering. That explains his drinking behavior and his flask, but he’ll surely need to face his demons eventually. Hopefully facing his demons doesn’t include him getting killed, but I will be taking bets on who’s going to kill Hee-sung first: Dong-mae or Eugene?

 
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So many great young actors showcasing their talents here.

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Hee-sung: *sees room full of Japanese gangsters*
How could you leave me out!

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And American Marines (which if they weren't would probably be gangsters as well)!

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I think Hee-sung will get killed by the country or whatever secret he is hiding. His silliness is just a cover.

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A korean Scarlet Pimpernel!

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...my thought exactly... he's just playing the fool (for now...)

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Wow! Things are going to get exiting! Now that Eugene has taken that decisive step it will be a great development from now on. It was necessary for Eugene to have charachter development as it was getting a little slow. I cant wait when he will eat his words and fall hard on ae-shin!

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Why is everyone killing off Hee-Sung. I just started to love his character.
I am waiting to see his role in this Joseon fight. And his friendship with AS. I think they would be great friends.

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So Eugene will get his revenge by loving Ae-Shin? No doubt it’s just for revenge 😏

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. . . and no doubt it will bite him in the *ss! 😉!

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She finds out on the eve of their wedding - not too sure how she's going to marry him, considering their backgrounds, but, *shrugs* oh well - so she finds out, and she gets so mad she marries Hee Sung instead! And then she gets pregnant, but it's not Eugene's baby, nor Dong Mae's - aha, got you there, bbstl ! - it's, cheng, cheng, cheng, the potter's baby!!!!! She had been having a secret liason with him, why do you think she made those boat trips? To see him!!!! And if he's a bit too, um, old, just remember: *intones sagely* age is but a number.

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...I don't know... he seems to be intrigued, challenged and smitten by her... he's definitely all-in... and she's a whole lotta woman...

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Thank-you, again, @dramallama for the recap and for teasing out the subtleties in language here (Dong-mae vs. dongmu). These two episodes (this one and the one prior) really have me invested in Lady Ae-shin the most. I believe that to be blamed on how well Kim Tae-ri is conveying the complexity of this character. She holds her own with all three of the male leads. Her scene with YYS at the beginning was gripping and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the scene. I could feel the fear, but also the sense of empathy she has for Dong-mae through the screen. Then, with Eugene, she definitely has a crush on the dashing American marine, which any young girl would, and seeing how relaxed she was walking with him, I just loved that little sway in her step. A woman walking with a man, in stride, side-by-side, and not behind him, is disrespectful and even sacrilegious. It was good that her disguise allowed her to look like a western male so that she could speak freely to him. She wasn't as tense or proper and more herself, which I quite enjoyed. It was a short scene but one of my favorites for this reason. And the letter with Eugene's narration finally told us his feelings as well. Which brings me to one complaint I have, shouldn't I have known how he felt before he wrote it in that letter? Maybe Lee Byung-heon's acting is just too subtle for me.

My other favorite part of this episode is seeing Hee-sung's dichotomous behavior, happy and jovial one scene, and brooding and thoughtful in another. I really liked his conversation with the little boy on the side of the mountain. He's really good. And the sunset---gorgeous. Then the bar scene and the lobby scene with all three of the leads. Their chemistry is awesome.

I still quite like Yoo Yeon Seok in this. I'm still the most invested with him as a character overall.

And I need Hina to start kicking a$$ or something. She's just a wall-flower now, and I'm thinking we'll get more character development this week with her confronting her (I assume) father. So, I'm really looking forward to that.

I'm really not here for the plot at this point--it seems kind of pointless right now and I'm not feeling any of its urgency yet. So, I can see why some people might think this drama is slow. There's nothing really driving the story. I just love the cinematography and am appreciating this the most out of everything (but I think everyone already knows this).

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I kept wanting to check to see if his face and lips moved, thanks to @bbstl, but I just got so engrossed, and drawn in by him, I forgot. 😁

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Agree totally with you. The plot, if there is any 😂, is confusing for me because of so much historic events that I don't know, mixed with non historic events they are making up, tons of characters that I don't care, and hello, war and politics are never ever interesting for me 😕 (not even in real life😑). But then again, the cinematography, the music, the very interesting (and good looking😅) characters we have here... the good acting, these elements have me pludge in.
I am not exactly curious about what will happen because I won't understand, but I am curious to see the mixing in the relationships.
Also, yes, Kim Tae ri is very engaging in her role as Ae shin. 🙂
So far, she is my favorite character in the whole story.

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She’s just lovely here. Smart, charismatic, endearing, calculating, and I’m interested to see what she says after that “confession” of Eugene’s. But just to echo what you’ve said about the historical elements, I usually like historical dramas for the history, but I feel this one is all over the place because I don’t know what is true vs what isn’t and I maybe I should just turn my brain off and just enjoy the ride. Which I am for the most part.

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I got hints of EC’s fascination through the way he looks at AS and smiles every once in a while during their convo. Even Kudo Hina noticed the way EC looked at AS at ep 3.

The plot is slower, I agree, but I have no complaints at all because the character development is more intriguing for me at this point.

Initially I was skeptical about HS’s seemingly shallow and carefree character but man I’m not disappointed with the layers beneath his facade that this ep unraveled. Well done, show. You really got me hooked.

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Yes, Lee Wan-ik is Hina's father. It was told on the story's highlight. https://youtu.be/eQG42_ewmms

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I am not exactly what Eugene was thinking. But I don’t think it’s just revenge. He was angry and hurt, he felt it necessary to speed up his moves now that he knows Heesung is the fiancé. I think he would not want to lose the woman he likes to someone like HS. HS just was a catalyst for Eugenes actions.

Btw, this was my favorite episode. Thanks to HS. Such a fascinating actor.

And can we please acknowledge the chemistry between AeShin and the gunner. They are too adorable together. I think very few people get to see her true (unguarded) self. Her servants and gunner. She showed some of it to Eugene as well but quickly recovered.
I can’t wait for the other two men to discover her alter ego.
And show, please don’t make her role weak once she falls in love. We need action :)

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Me, I also believe that HS is a catalyst for Eugene's actions. Eugene is trying to find an "excuse" (for himself) that will justify his not only falling in love with Ae shin, but actively pursue her falling in love with him, because he thinks that will destroy HS's family... But he has no idea! He will suffer by making Ae shin suffer. Not that she is in love with HS whatsoever, but because she will know someday that his intentions were of revenge (apparently)...
He will also suffer because even if she doesn't want to marry HS, and she will fall for him, that doesn't mean they can be together.
And he will suffer simply because he is the main lead, and main leads are there to suffer 😂😂😂😂
Poor thing.

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I don't know, I kind of sighed with that ending, I was like, great, now you're going to go after her because of revenge. It's so done, the revenge troupe, and I wasn't expecting it at all, not in this drama, which has been different, and special, in so many ways, and I was expecting something really special, really different, I guess, and then the same old, same old theme rears its overdone head, and, well, I'm just disappointed.

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See this is what I was really confused about! I mean during the walk, in his voiceover you clearly hear his confession towards AS so we know that he fell for her prior to the ending scene so that's why I feel like this revenge troupe is not as clear-cut as we think it is?

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Yes, but I just hope it's not going to be predictable - he marries her, she finds out he married her for revenge, even though he fell in love with her before he decided to marry her for revenge, she gets angry, lots of harsh words, angst, bitterness....give me something different, something fresh, different.

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They won't be able to marry

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You tell me, does the writer usually write predictable?

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I think right now Eugene is just as confused as you are.

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I honestly don't think Eugene will consummate "love" with Ae-Shin solely for revenge against Hee-sung, and for that reason I don't expect to see any consummation between the two for many more episodes (if at all). But I do agree with you that it was disappointing to see KES write this troupe for Eugene, however it plays out.

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Yes, because she would have consummated her love with Dong Mae first....well, I can dream, can't I?

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You know what? That just might happen. Or she will consummate with Hee-sung. Or someone else we can't imagine right now.

I may be the only beanie left who is still not convinced Eugene and Ae-Shin will be the OTP. I can see the momentum swinging in that direction for them, but I still am not yet convinced. We have a whole lot of story left.

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She could consummate with ALL THREE of them! 🤤

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Go big or go home, YY!

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Legit would not even been mad, those two could work out some tension.

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I will join that dream of yours my lady 😆

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She has to overcome her ingrained class prejudice before anything happens. She did throw away the skirt he touched.
Does she yet know Eugene was born a slave? I don't remember if that's been revealed to her yet.

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Thought just popped into my head - she'll fall in love with Eugene (would the drama actually have them consummate? That would be unusual for a kdrama since this isn't a movie). Then she finds out he was born a slave.

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She doesn't know Eugene's full background yet (slave).

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There will be consummation. I repeat, there will be consummation, but it will be with Dong Mae.

Dong Mae and Ae Shin give in to their, um, animal attraction to each other, and have a bed scene.

The following morning, he gets up first, kisses her tenderly, leaving her, asleep, with a smile upon her lips. He walks out the front doors of Glory Hotel (more significant than we thought in the light of this new development, ahem), to be confronted by Eugene and Hee Sung.

Eugene shoots him with that gun that he's always threatening to shoot people with. This time, he really does it. BHAM! Dong Mae falls to the ground. Hee Sung steps forward and cracks a bottle of expensive red wine on his head.

Dong Mae dies.

So he dies, the tragic second lead, it was bound to happen, just not quite in the way we expected.

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@yyishere Your comment re consummation needs to go under the heading of fan fic.

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I felt that she threw away the skirt he touched because she felt violated in a way. She wanted to get rid of it because she would always think of him when she saw it. Not because of class prejudice but social norms.

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Hmm, nice perspective there, possibly she is in denial not wanting to acknowledge the intense attraction she felt... a possibility.

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Why she threw away her skirt

1. She threw away that skirt because of the animal attraction she feels for him (gotta keep up with the sensuality vibes), and it is a reminder of how giddy she felt when he slid his hand under her skirt. 🤤

2. She threw it away because it made her feel dirty, and she feels angry because it's making her think all kinds of wild thoughts...*cue makjang music suddenly plays at deafening volume*

3. She feels angry because it reminded her of the past, when she and him indulged in a hot, passionate, forbidden romance, unknown to her maid and family.

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Ya' know, it's about time we let these kdrama writers know we're ready for way more sensuality. Enough with just one kiss at the end!

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Too many hot comments.. at first i didn't mind if she ends up with engune or dong Mae but now if engune uses revenge as a card to love her then it's not required go back to America man let dong Mae love her with all his heart..

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@yyishere and et al. : Would you wish for Ae-Shin to consummated her love with Dong Mae if it was played with any other actor than YYS? I'm just curious to know if all the comments who ship Ae-Shin & Dong Mae are because of YYS is popular here or if Dong Mae is an interesting character (wouldn't you call him a jerk if it was played by other actor, e.g. LBH)?!

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@persianrose That is such an interesting question; I pondered it for a while, and my answer is: no, it wouldn't matter a jolt, if Dong Mae were played by LBH...I imagined him playing the character, and I could totally see him in it, embracing the character, and making it all kinds of awesome. The actor playing Hee Sung would be awesome in the role, too. But beyond these two actors, I'm not too sure whether I'd appreciate other actors playing Dong Mae - Lee Jun Ki for instance, would probably over-act, and spoil the character. I love the three guy leads in this drama, and their terrific acting, so, it's not the YYS factor for me, more the acting prowess that matters, because the character of Dong Mae is just so fascinating and intriguing to me, more than Eugene.

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@yyishere I also like all 3 men, both their charachters and acting... I don't have any preference yet because all 3 charachters have been mysterious so far and can go all dark... I really appreciate absence of of over-dramatic acting in this drama... After watching Kdramas for many years I'm not sure if I should blame certain actors or PD for overacting, I guess it just have been a kdrama element, and only recently started to change... with the increasing number of kdramas in Netflix, K-actor are more under critical review (and their over-acting pointed out by many viewers)... so I can see an overall change in acting style in some recent dramas...

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I feel like it's more about loyalty to the country than anything else. She is disgusted by Dong Mae's support to the Japanese, confused by Eugene's take on the Korean atmosphere and doesn't give a hoot about Hee-Sung whom she sees as a spoiled brat who cares nothing about the nation

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You have a good point about Dong Mae. She must remember the incident when they were young and is disgusted that he's a traitor (as well as the fact he was a butcher's son). Wonder if she remembers what she told him as a child about (what was it?) all lives being precious(?)

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I actually like this development. Despite their attraction to each other, I don't think Eugene would have made a deliberate move on Lady Ae Shin without such a provocation. We know his feelings are real/becoming real/becoming feelings even if the reason he acts on them is wrong. And now that he has, I'm hoping for a skillfully executed epic romance.

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Skillfully executed epic romance?
(manfully tries to do puss-in-boots "big eyes")

Yes, please!!

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Or so we hope? 😢 The dangers of live watching. You won't know till it's over.

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I totally agree with you. I'm pretty sure EC has had genuine feelings for AS before he knew about HS family and it was confirmed during the voiceover about the letter to Joseph. EC's "revenge" is the catalyst to his confession, not the cause. But that being said, his "revenge" will surely be an obstacle in EC & AS's romance later on when she finds out lol

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Ahhhh that ending might be my favourite yet <3 The cinematography was to die for but also the subtleties that lay in that scene. What Eugene said was it propelled by Revenge? Honesty? Jealousy? I have no idea but I cannot wait to see it be played out!
The growing attraction between AS and EC is fabulous and they just feel so comfortable around each other that as a viewer you cannot help but just root for them both individually and together.
But a shoutout is due for the AS Fanboys Club!!! Who knew we needed this but now that it has been given to us please give us some more *puppy dog eyes* They're a riot together!

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Is Hee-sung's family running out of money or is his father just very stingy despite him being a member of the second richest family in Joseon? He sure made a huge fuss when he had thought his wife sent a lengthy telegram and now he's trying to get money from the ex-slave hunters duo by selling the ornament 🤔

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When I think about it, they might have lost a significant amount of wealth but the society does not notice it yet. Though I wonder he is simply a cheapskat, I get a feeling that this is not the reason for his fuss. Heesung greeted Eugene by telling his granddad or someone in his family used to own the hotel property. Rich do not sell their holdings unless an absolutely necessary reason came up,,, is it for his education? I am not so sure about that. His dad seems rather stupid even when he was young. So he can easily be manipulated and lost his wealth.

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Thank you for the excellent recaps, dramallama! It really helps in fleshing out the underlying subtleties of the drama.

I get more invested in the fates of our main characters with each passing episode (the whole point of this phase of character development) so that when we approach the class 4 rapids of history up ahead, I will be emotionally demolished. Ughhh

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You come up with the greatest analogies! "Class 4 rapids of history" - so accurate!

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I am enjoying this but what happened to the story of resistance and independence fighters I was promised? And Hina who was going to outplay everyone? Dammit I've been Eun-sooked again.

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On other hand I do give Kim Eun Sook credit for tackling such a difficult period. Mr. Sunshine has come under criticism from all sides; Western viewers have commented that it's too overtly jingoistic and Korean viewers who take aim at its portrayal of late Joseon. This period along with the Japanese occupation remains is still controversial in the Korean consciousness. Peace hasn't been made with Japan's role in bringing about reform and modernising the state or the Koreans and Korean businesses who profited from collaborating with the Japanese. In addition there's nothing flattering about the portrayal of a caste system, corrupt aristocracy and a weak monarch.

Similar to China and Japan, I think the Korean-Japanese relationship remains unreconciled and wrought with shame regarding the past. In that sense, this timeframe is still an open wound for many which is probably not a common setting in dramaland, at least not presented without a clear binary.

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I agree, KES picked a difficult historical period. Regardless, she may be secretly laughing at these attacks, because I noticed episode 6 got the highest nationwide ratings yet, 11.8%.

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And, to your point, her previous works occupy 4 out of the top ten spots on MyDramaLists most popular dramas.

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LOL😂😂😂😂😂
You were expecting more action!!!

Me, it is the first time I watch any of her dramas, so I am not expecting anything... if so, that it may be not so good or surely she will destroy the end, because it is a typical thing to do with a blockbuster kdrama... ruin the end.
But there are so many episodes before the end! I need to enjoy my ride meanwhile 😉😅😅

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...you have the right attitude -- just sit back and enjoy it!

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I'm still hoping for some sort of resistance plot down the line. I need to see these girls in action.

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I am seriously confused with the historical setting. Dong-mae and his gangs carry their swords with them. But law of banning/carrying swords became effective in 1876 in Japan. Though there were revolts by Samurais in 1974,76 and 77, the law was never changed.( but I believe that military officers were allowed to carry some sort of swords). Many viewers call them gangsters or Yakuza but their social classes ( almost all of them) were of very low class therefore there was no way back then( in Edo period) they were allowed to carry swords( because they did not belong to samurai class).
The drama was set up after the death of Queen Min in 1895. That is long after the law of banning swords.

I find that Hee-sung is a very layered person. Wit his family's wealth, he was impeccably dressed, mild mannered and yet very sociable. But he is keenly aware that his wealth was accumulated with the dirty action of his ancestors. In early Joseon period, it is reported more than 30% of the population belong to low class, ie slaves and untouchables. But gradually they managed to climb up their status by paying up or other methods. In one region, it was reported that more than 70% of the population became Yangbang class. How did it happen?!
Maybe he is ashamed of the dirty tricks that his family has been using to accumulate their wealth but he is not courageous enough to confront it. By getting to know those three( his fiance and Eugene and DM) he will probably face the family demons and have to find where he actually stands.

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You are correct about the legality of carrying the swords. I gave that a pass on historical accuracy because the Japanese haven't annexed Joseon yet in the story, so their laws would not be in effect in Joseon. I'm also assuming the Korean Empire (as it was called at this point in the timeline) did not have a similar law about carrying swords, and if they did then their police force was too ineffective (or too scared) to enforce them.

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When I recall old yakuza movies in Showa era, those Yakuza carry swords( though I do not think they carry their swords with them on daylight. They probably carry small knives then when they flight with other gangster, they carry their swords). It's an irony that soon after Samurai class gave up carrying swords, yakuza( most of the time they were underclass) started carrying them.

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Anyone here ever watch Kage no Gundan or Yagyu Conspiracy?

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No for your answer. But both of them were very popular in Japan. I think the period of both films were set in Edo period(3rd Tokugawa era). Since you must have watched Yagyu conspiracy, you may know that Yagyu was a small scale Daimyo but was appointed with teaching sword fights to Tokugawa family. One of my schoolmates was from this clan and she told me that many of her family clan became doctors,,, I thought that it is an interesting yet suited career choice for the clan.
As for Kage no Gundan, the main character Hattori Hanzo was from Iga Ninjya. Iga rescued the first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu from Sakai( Osaka) to his home right after Honno-ji no hen( the revolt lead to death of Oda Nobunag, the most powerful lord back then). That is why Tokugawa shogunate favored Iga.

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@akikoz
Thanks for the insight! I have the 1st season of Kage no gundan on dvd but they didn't make any other seasons available. I did see Yagyu Conspiracy with Chiba Shinichi but haven't been able to locate anywhere to watch again. I had the series on VHS which fell apart aeons ago.

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I don't find any sub for the Conspiracy of Yagyu. It seems that the Dailymotion carries( but without subs) them but search with Japanese: 柳生一族の陰謀.

As for Kage no Gundan, you can search it in Japanese 服部半蔵 影の軍団, though the subs may not be available. The drama has four series and Bakumatsu series( end of Edo period). The first DVD contains 27 eps and there is the `影の軍団II 'in DVD format that were released in 2008 and 2009.

I hope it helps to find what you are looking for. Good luck.

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I am actually confused about the timeframe. I honestly don't know if they are still in the 1800s or have they entered into the 1900s.

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We saw Taylor's grave stone with 1902 on it, and i believe the slush fund document also shows a 1902 date.

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Which means only 8 years before the fall of Korea to Japan. I'm wondering how far this will span. Because of the ages of these characters, they won't see a happy ending unless they make it to 1945.0

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...here's the Netflix disclaimer:
THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION BASED ON HISTORICAL EVENTS - SOME ORGANIZATIONS AND CHARACTERS ARE FICTITIOUS
...looks to be a lot of poetic license going on here...

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I don't think this drama is meant to be taken with historical context. As someone else said, there is a lot of poetical license used in this.

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I loved this episode. I think it's been my favorite so far. I have to disagree with dramllama as I am completely enamored with LBH's acting, but that's neither here nor there.

The revelation for me, though, was Hee-sung. This was the episode where I saw that his frivolous personal is just a facade and that he's well aware of just how devious his family is.

My favorite scenes were the scene with LBH and the slave at the gravesite, the three men drinking (OMG I laughed so much), and the final scenes (ughhhh that cinematography is amazing).

As to the whole "I'll make you fall in love to get revenge" trope, it's actually the only thing that felt out of step to me, because it's obvious my guy is interested in the girl.

But most importantly, does this mean we'll get an unlikely bromine between Eugene, Dong-mae, and maybe Hee-sung? Fingers crossed!

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I agree @ladyjaye . LBH's acting is exceptionally good!! He's just so excellent in this role! But I understand mainstream K-drama audiences might not appreciate his acting since they use to watch too many over-acting in K-dramas, over-dramatic acting has been one of the main elements of K-dramas for years...

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The reluctant bromance is the highlight of this episode. The bromance needs Hee-sung. He's playful, and could add some colours to the two stoic men.

I loved Dong-mae started to smile though so lightly... Oh, this boy could smile too! And Eugene, as somebody who rarely smiles, Ae-shin was the one who made him smile (reluctantly). :).

I'm so surprised that Hee-sung asked Eugene back, who's the one who hurt Eugene, the father or the grandpa. It seems like Hee-sung has known what kind of terrible things his family done to people.

Hina is an interesting character, but she needs to be given more roles here.

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Hee-Sung just needs a friend. It won't come from those two, but maybe since Ae-shin is the glue, they may come to depend on each other to keep her safe.

Hina is someone I think we will need to watch, because he crush seems like the snake that got Eve. She will help you if it suits her needs. Then again she does have chip on her shoulder. I think she is related to the traitor Wan Ik or she betrayed by him.

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Hee-Sung clearly knows, as he was listening to that conversation between his Grandfather and the poor slaves who begged him not to sell/rent their land in ep. 1. And he didn't look happy. He probably couldn't wait to escape to Japan for his "study abroad experience" and therefore didn't come back for 10 years.

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@dramallama, thank you for the recap. I’d skipped watching and was reading the recaps. I’m going to watch Ep. 6 now, 🙂

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Thanks for a good recap, dramallama.

Obviously the drinking scene with the three male leads was the highlight of this episode, as it should be. Just a wonderful scene that was acted to perfection by all three actors (with special kudos to Byun Yo-han, who did the heavy lifting).

My second favorite scene was Eugene visiting his parents grave. The recap sort of skipped over this scene, but it was very powerful. It gave us what we've been wanting - an unobstructed view into Eugene's naked emotions. I felt Lee Byung-hun was superb in this scene; he seemed to reach deep inside himself. I believed his tears running down his face and I got choked up. I liked the way he lowered his face from the camera a few times, it was as if he needed to hide block our vision by using his captain's cap. I think this was an insight that Eugene hides much of his emotions behind that uniform.

I also want to talk briefly about the document showing proof of Emperor Gojong's "slush fund". I am still researching it, and I want to wait to see a few more episodes before giving a more formal report on it. Right now, it looks like it is only a fictional plot point.

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Looking forward to your "slush fund" research.

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Him visiting his parents grave was powerful for him. He primarily came to Korea for that reason. So I was disappointed as well. I look forward to the slush fund, because with that kind of creative license, I'm surprised we haven't heard animosity over it. Like this feels like they are spilling tea, but then again they could be taking creative license.

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The sad thing is, I found some actual historical "deals" that Gojong was coerced to make with the Russians that did anger the Japanese. However, this slush fund wasn't one of them. I need to see where KES takes this before giving my final "accuracy grade".

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Doesn't the "slush" in slush fund mean secret money? (not part of a historical record)

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Yes and no. Many slush funds throughout history have been uncovered, and documented. Even if there was a rumor of Emperor Gojong having a slush fund, history would have recorded that rumor somewhere.

Part of me is not really happy with the 'slush fund' English subtitle I'm reading, I wonder if the actual Korean he's speaking is 'secret fund'. Regardless, KES will manipulate this plot device however she sees fit, historical or not.

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@ Tim, at least it's a good plot device as plot devices go.

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I can believe it though with the pressure and influence of the west.

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Right it's secret fund, not slush fund. I think the translation is quite wrong and adding unnecessary bad vibe to the money. It's known that Gojong tried to use his secret funds outside to buy weapons and other modern things, and support freedom fighters and make connections outside asia to build ties with europe and us. He also tries to support newspaper in Korea in korean and english.

Japan took a lot of those money before and after colonizing Korea. So while this specific fund showing in the drama here is probably not real, it does build up on real history.

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Thank you misty.

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Byun Yo han is a jewel of an actor. He's a scene stealer for sure. I am so pleased to see him in this drama. I also have an greater affection now for Yoo Yeon seok. I like him in this role so far. I find him unattractive actually sort of alien looking but after watching him a few times I understand why he gets cast. He's actually quite good. This is just a really great cast. Kim Tae ri is exquisite.

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Thank you for the recap! Now that I’ve seen more of Hee-sung, I’m loving his character! I also think there is more to him than the carefree nobleman he pretends to be. Though I’m with Ae-shin that I see him as her friend and no more (watch me eat my words a few episodes down >.<) . He’d be a fantastic friend though. I am really not liking the whole “I’ll make a move on you to get my revenge” trope. Her inquiry about love was innocent and therefore deserves better.

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Her inquiry about love is the weakest and cheesiest thing in the drama in my opinion. She could have informed herself better by asking the English teacher about it before asking him "to do it" with her.

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Oh yeah completely agree. I just mentioned it because how it was made part of the Eugene's thought process before he decided to approach her about it. To be honest, I wasn't expecting the show to go there. I wanted it to focus more on the societal conflict of that era but I was asking for too much.

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I loved Ae-shin's spy outfit, she looked so cool and it reminded me of Carme Sandiego. I thought their walk in the dark was kind of romantic, especially since Eugene asked about her wedding plans.

I'm glad the three male leads met, there is so much tension. I don't blame Eugene ad DM for ignoring HS he seems like the type that would blow their cover.

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A wonderful episode. I said this previously, but I still say that Hee-Sung has the most tragedy. It mirrors what people are going through nowadays. A facade to keep everyone at bay. He is his own worst enemy. He is also a representation of the noble society that people want to get rid due to his parents. His parents have this stuck up attitude that for other's make no sense. They have all this money and power off the backs of slaves. He seems to understand the animosity and built a playboy feel for it. It's a trope, but in this case it works. Ae-Shin is the female version of Hee-Sung, but without the retribution, she represents the high standards that goes with being female. Virtue and class, and basically giving her people a sense that they too are in the presence of virtue and class.

In regards to Eugene, I am still on the fence with his revenge plan. He has every right to have bitterness towards the people he wronged, but two wrongs don't make a right. He seems foolish to try and use someone else to get his revenge and think it will just magically make him feel better and go away. Like dude you work there.

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-I LOVED the bar scene with the 3 men. The entire conversation was hilarious! Although the editing was a little jarring; but I don't know if that was intentional or not. In fact every scene with the 3 men was great. Dong-mae looked ready to cut down Hee-sung when he learned he was engaged to Ae-shin. Then he looked ready to cut down Eugene when he heard he kept calling her to the embassy. He's going to get whiplash going back and forth between which man to kill first.
-Dong-mae is electric and by far my favorite character. Yoo Yeon-seok was made to play this role. He just sizzles whenever he's on the screen. My heart aches because I know that his character won't have a happy ending because they never do.
-Eugene is officially in the dog house with me because it seems like he is trying to use Ae-shin to get back at Hee-sung's family. I look forward to watching this scheme blow up in your face, Eugene!

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I gif’ed that entire bar scene and included a few on my wall if you’re interested in looping it, starting here: http://www.dramabeans.com/members/ally-le/activity/558006/

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I can tell right away I'm not going to like this drama. I like the two "2nd leads" more than the Eugene. I like Lee Byun hun but I've never found him especially handsome. I also thinks he's too old for this role. He looks great for his age but come on now. Let the whipper snappers have a change dad. Both 2nd leads are outstanding young actors. I personally think Byun Yo han is one of the best in his age group. He's a scene stealer. I also like Yoo Yeon seok. I love him in this role. I like his strange alien baby looks and menacing demeanor.

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To be honest I really like Lee Byung-Hun as an actor (from GI JOE movies & RED 2 wherein he was sooooooo bad-ass as an assasin)
After Jugglers ended...i did kinda stopped watching any korean drama and went back to anime. But When i started to read the dramarecaps here on dramabeans about Mr. Shunshine.....it took my interest 999999999% and have to download the first 4 episodes to catch up!

I do hope Eugene will realize in the end-game that he really had develop genuine feelings for Ae-Shin.... though we will know soon enough if Eugene is really gonna use Ae-Shin to get his revenge on Hee-Sung's family/parents.

I do hope Hee-Sung will find a way to redeem himself for the past sins his family did to soooooo many people...like by allying himself to the good guys not the bad. but that is just my opinion. But yeah I don''t want him to get married to Ae-Shin looooooool.

ahh the myterious Dong-Mae....i really do hope we find out more what is his real motive in finding that document. And i am a bit shocked man the King Gojong did made a slash-fund-sin and we're lucky the receipt is on Eugene's hands......i wonder if it is proven in the drama that the King did commit such sin...will he be remove as king?
Since the REAL HISTORY is very deep-in-thought & I am not much familiar in other countries history that much.

I sometimes wonder who is the real villain at the moment? Wan-ik? the king & the slush fund? or both?!?!?!?!?!?1

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Welcome @iri563 ! I only joined DB myself a few monts ago, and Mr. Sunshine was the chief reason.

My pick for #1 villain at the moment is Sergeant Tsuda, also dubbed as "Baldy" by @dramallama . We need to acknowledge the great acting of Jung Hyun-lee in that role, my thanks to @spinningeggs for finding him!

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I'm not necessarily invested in any one of the single players (major actors) in this drama, but the complicated relationships among the four is so fascinating. Without their interactions and their backgrounds it would be a tad boring.
Ae-shin right now, even though she's an assassin, is so mired in her nobility that she wouldn't be able to love anyone below her status. She'll have to change a lot, but will she?
Lastly, thank you so much for the recap, I'd be lost without it. I especially liked your crossed out "fake news" ha!
Anyone else wonder if she might be the one who dies at the end?

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I've wondered also if it would be her that dies.

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I'm thinking it would not be a horrible ending if they all died nobly defending Joseon. However, I doubt KES would do that. We're probably going to get a "Some must die so that others can live" ending.

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This show hasn't failed to impress me yet. I love the subtle comedy thrown in with the somberness.
Hee Sung's declaration that people who drink together are friends - prompting Dong Mae and Eugene to set their drinks down without a sip - I laughed loudly at that.
I almost love the interaction between these three as much as their interactions with Ae Sin.

It's all the little subtleties that make this show so interesting. I can only hope that the writer ties everything together well (and dramatically!) - I really want this show to impact ke, so I hope I'm not expecting too much!

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Can someone pls advise?
Is it just me or do the foreigners seem to speak modern-day banmal that doesn't coincide with the time period?? Each time one of the Americans etc speak Korean, it feels really jarring. Like I'm being physically uprooted from Hanseong to Seoul. Maybe I'm wrong and that's what they're meant to sound like?

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Paging @peridot , this is yours.

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I haven't listened too closely to the actual Korean words spoken by the foreigners. I will say that some actors (among the Korean cast) have better "saeguk" inflections than others. The fact that we are in the twentieth century might also affect inflection and pronunciation. This isn't a drama from he early Joseon period. It could be that some of the banmal is more contemporary and not period accurate.

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The language does sound modern. I can't watch the "American" actors, it sounds and feels awkard.

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Same :( I really wish Korean drama writers would consult native English speakers more. Esp in dramas with an international audience like Mr.Sunshine. I cringe every single time someone speaks in English because it sounds like they copied something from a beginner's English passage. Doesn't mimic everyday conversation.

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I have been complaining about the English on this show. A little accuracy would go a long way (let's not talk about actual line delivery, which is another issue). While written language and spoken language can be quite different from each other, I think that Kim Eun-sook could have looked closely (and with the help of a translator) at English writings from the United States during this time period. Yes, there would have been informal language used in every-day life, but we are still talking about the early nineteen hundreds here. This is the '40s or '50s.

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What I mean is that the informal language shouldn't sound like something coming from 2018.

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I had a similar question-- to my ears, it's not just the foreigners whose Korean speech seems too modern, it's the commoners as well. I can hear the Joseon-speak used by those from the upper class, but the commoners' speech sounds just like modern-day Korean to me. For example, it seems weird to hear them say "Jinjja?", and use the same cadence. I'm probably wrong about this, but I've never noticed it in a sageuk before.

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I wonder to KES took some poetic license here as well so that it would appeal to a larger Korean audience.

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Now that you've pointed it out, it does sound odd! I did some cursory research and the drama is set within the timeline of the Korean Empire, when Koreans were well on their way to speaking Modern Korean. I guess the mistake I made was comparing this period drama to other classic Saeguks I've watched and assuming the language to sound and remain the same.

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On an only slightly related note, does anyone know what Eugene is actually saying that the subtitles keep translating as "cut to the chase"? I crack up every time I see that.

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I went back to that part and still couldn't understand. By the way, is your horny devil avatar from What's Wrong With Secretary Kim? Cracks me up haha!

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Yes, he is! I am hoping to capture all the laughs from WWWSK before it ends this week 😭

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well, in korean, he said "본론만 해" when he speak to old slave. the slave was saying something like "it's good to see you grown up so well" when obviously EC wasn't in the mood to greet him warmly (or at all). So in english, get to the point, or cut the cr*p?

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Fantastic, thank you! Too bad they didn't just sub using one of those phrases instead of a phrase that comes from the movie business (so it was first used in the mid- to late-1920s). Thanks again!

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Oh, happy to be a help, and I didn't know that ! I think the sub was done by one person, and he/she prob. didn't know it too.

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I didn't make the Kudo Hina/ Wan-Ik connection before (someone else mentioned he may be her father) but that explains his comment now about not staying there when he can own it.

And if she was widowed by a Japanese husband, and inherited the hotel....and we know now that Hee Sung's family once owned the land....does that mean that his family sold part of their land to to the Japanese? Another commenter wondered if the family had had money troubles.
If I recall correctly there was someone that begged the grandfather not to sell the land bc they made their living that way. The grandfather purchased the watch for Hee Sung and paid for his study abroad. I'm assuming that's where the Glory Hotel ended up being built. Sorry - I'm just now piecing this together!

Anyone else got anything to add to this to help me out? :)

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Thanks, @dramallama for this recap and I must say, I agree with you in all, all of your comments about all of our characters and their interactions. Wow.
Also, although I have never been bored until now, not even with Eugene, I am happy for this new kick and the possible sceneries we will have in the rest of the series because of the "Love Pentagon"...😂😂😂
At the same time, I am afraid about that question, who is going to kill who? Who will kill Hee-sung, which I disliked simply because he is the "obliged" fiancèe, and now I happen to like him because, yes... here is very interesting. I was also not expecting him to recognize wrongdoings of his family. He feels secondary guilt, when his family doesn't even feel primary guilt for anything they have done!! No, now I don't want him to die.
But for sure he will.
I can predict: Dong-mae will die as well.
The gunman, the master teaching Ae shin will die as well... Her grandfather will die because he is old, and maybe even Eugene will die as well.😂😂😂
All men in Ae shin's life will die for her, because she has to prove she is a femme fatal 😂😂😂😂

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@bbstl has an exciting plot twist:

Ae Shin gets pregnant.

But whose child is she carrying????

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Yah! Only because YY assures me that AS has a shot at consummating her luurve with more than one guy 🤔

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I see there is some interest here to read up and research into that time period.

For those who are interested, @maddymappo shared the memoirs of a lady missionary who was living in Korea during that time period in the soompi drama thread. I have not read it myself but would try to read it over the weekend.

You can find it here.

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/50609/50609-h/50609-h.htm

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Oh my gosh, this looks AMAZING! And lots of photos, too. @tacourtn, this is a real jackpot. Thank you @charray and @maddymappo at soompi.

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Thank you @charray and @bbstl that diary is a treasure. I already found it corroborates some things I uncovered too.

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Very cool.

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You will love it, she's there acting as an almost-doctor! (The lady missionary) And she takes care of Queen Min and becomes her friend. It's wild. Wow.

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This is so cool! Thank you for sharing!

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ok, so now I've read it and it IS amazing. This is an American woman's account of what brings us from about 1889 to 1905. She's like Zelig in that because of her position as part of the elite Western medical/missionary group, she and her husband are in the middle of knowing everything that is going on, politically. It's fascinating and I feel like I just watched another entire drama by reading it.

If you read,
Chemulpo is today's Incheon
Fusan is Busan
Pyeng Yang is Pyeongyang
The Tai Won Kun is GoJong's father the

I'm just going to list a bunch of Beanies in case people missed @charray's post:@pakalanapikake,@wishfultoki,@tsuty,@linda-palapala,@egads,@greenfields,@ren,@corkxrew,@YY,@daydreamer11,@sunflowerdiva,@coffeprince4eva,@javinne,@outofthisworld,@peony,@korfan,@markita-dawson
Sorry to the history fans I missed!

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Hey it's peony, it's been weeks and I'm taken by surprise and WOW, how'd you know I'm a history fan?
And thanks for tagging me,off to read the article now, but do you know any of the people you've tagged probably haven't got the message? I didn't and I only found this now when I was reading the comments because I wasn't able to catch up with the drama because of RL and only getting here now.
After and before typing " @name " ...You should put a space before adding a comma,methinks. Otherwise the tag won't work. Thanks anyway😃😃
Once again, how'd you know I'm a history fan?

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Oh my gosh, Peony, thanks for letting me know I made that mistake. I did wonder why no one responded in amazement about the book. I will mention the book again on the new recap for ep 13. (I can tell from your comments that you're a history fan!)

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Random thought: how cool and how good it would be to have Dong-mae, Eugene, and Hee-sung really becoming friends, and instead of fighting for Ae shin, fight together to save Joseon. 😀😀😀
Ae shin would be a comrade, only.
And she will never marry, because she will become a feminist that after having Joseon liberated, she will fight for the rights of women!
That would really be an unexpected twist in the story!!! 🤓

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I think there’s a fascinating counter-position between the culture of America, Japan, and Korea in this drama. I enjoy that America and Japan are not painted as heroic in this drama (esp. America), and their racism and imperialism is clearly illustrated. However, I also like that the writer shows the follies of Korean culture as well. The monarchy and the caste system is a major source of grief for the Korean people. The horrors that the Korean servants go through due to their parentage understandably informs the hatred Eugene and the Interpreter have for Korea - and their love for the America, where anyone (yes racism still intact) can achieve any position.

Just think about it, how crazy is it that Eugene, a former servant, can go head to head with he Minster of Foreign Affairs and the head nobility of Joseon??? All because he is an American officer. Dong-mae, a butcher’s son, rose to be one of the most feared men in Joseon, head of Yakuza. The trajectory of Dong-mae and Eugene is fascinating because they both started from the bottom of Korea to reach the top of their respective chosen countries.

Moreover, the Korean caste system paints Ae-shin’s fight for country in a new light. While she is brave to fight for her country, Ae-shin is naive to the privilege of being able to reason and fight for her country. As a noblewoman, she has never experienced the painfulness and humiliation of poverty. She is free, with wealth and power, to do as she pleases.

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This show just keeps getting better and more interesting. Not quite at Goblin level but great nonetheless.

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Hmm...I guess that's a subjective statement, since I only got thru the Gong Yoo Goryeo scenes in Goblin before I gave up. So for me, this drama is 1000 times better than Goblin.

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10E6 better than Goblin for me...

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I knew the letter was in the baby blanket! (There were too many tells for it to be just a throwaway scene.)
And I have a question, when Hee-sung and Domi were on the ledge at the end of the episode, discussing "repayments--" were they really there? Or was it a literary device? How does Hee-sung know Domi? He's been in Japan ever since Domi was born. Is it just that Hee-sung is friendly to everyone? Or is Domi a mole?

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My take is that: A) Hee-sung is naturally friendly to everyone, B) Hee-sung was drunk so he didn't care who strolledup, and C) this scene was an easter-egg homage to Misaeng (in which BYH starred and featured people seeking jobs).

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So far I am enjoying the drama a lot. It is indeed slow, but with 24 episodes, it is understandable that the pace will be slower. And personally, I am all for beautiful and atmospheric scenery shots and moody scenes.

Many were speculating about the ending and the possible death toll. It's almost 100% certain that someone of the five will die. I've been listening to the official OSTs released so far and noticed something in this particular one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwvUnK-agb4

I may be absolutely wrong, but I believe there is a possible plot spoiler presented here via visual storytelling. The melody and the video are synchronized, like 1:32 – 1:33 gunshot and 3:05 – 3:06 clock. So, the video was cut and edited in a way to create paralels between characters as well as illustrate the song lyrics. What attracted my attention was part at the end (5: 24 – 5:32).
Ae-shin shoots the gun – we see Dong-mae.
Ae-shin shoot the gun – we see Kudo Hina.
Ae-shin shoots the gun – we see Hui-seong.
Ae-shin points the gun but there is no gunshot – we see Eugene.
It is possible that this part hints that in order to protect Joseon, Ae-shin will have to make sacrifices and get rid of people who will stand in her way and jeopardize her mission. It is possible that those people she will abandon/kill are no other than Dong-mae, Kudo Hina and Hui-seong. Yet, Eugene's destiny is unclear. He may be the only one Ae-shin won't be able to sacrifice. At the very end, he is seen walking alone in the distance.
What do you think?

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That could be true, and logically Eugene is the one character who could save her from her enemies, by taking her back to America.

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Oh, that didn’t even occur to me (going back to America)! But of course, he would be the most logical choice for her and he can leave the conflict at any time with her. Seems like a no brainer to me now. I guess I can stop watching this now (of course, I won’t stop watching now)!

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I have doubts this drama will apply logic.

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God, I love love love this episode. Hee-sung, in the limited time that he has appeared on screen compared to the other characters so far, has surged right up there to the top for me, alongside Ae-shin.

That being said…

Don't kill Hee-sung please!!! :(( As the comments go, he is such a breath of fresh air in a story full of people who always take themselves far too seriously. The last scene confirms that his ebullience is his way of hiding in plain sight—he clearly knows that his family has committed atrocities left and right. Hopefully, just as Hee-sung is the catalyst for Eugene to do something with his relationship with Ae-shin, this too becomes a catalyst for Hee-sung to do something about his life. (And not be killed in the process!!! PLEASE!)

Argh. I don't actually like where Eugene is going, but I'll probably let the story go along and see where he ends up with this ‘revenge’ of his—I reckon it's part of the reason why I like his character, his hatred for the country and the class system is palpable but at the moment he clearly is at crossroads being aware that he slowly drawn to the people and the country that he loathes with all his being. But still, I don't like it when people go the ‘petty route,’ i.e., involve others who are not at all connected with the way their lives went awry. My concern is that if his plan to ruin Hee-sung is to go after Ae-shin, he is clearly mistaken since the only person who will be ruined is Ae-shin—and I clearly don't want that for our dear girl!—she's a woman, and during those times, women are always at the losing end particularly in calculated games like these.

And Hina's being left behind! All she has done so far is be like us, observers, who throws some shade here and there to provoke actions from the other characters. It's a real pity since her character has shown that there's much more to her than her Hotel general manager facade.

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