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147

Mr. Sunshine: Episode 21

Though Joseon may be destined for ruin, Eugene is doing the most to ensure that ruin comes later than sooner. He navigates his loyalties with caution, as Joseon grows weaker with no reliable allies. His identity as a Joseon-American soldier becomes even more prominent in the face of a looming Russo-Japanese war, but he faces the imminent threat with courage and wisdom. His greatest flaw as being neither a true Joseon person nor American becomes his strength, as he takes ownership of the advantageous identity in any moment.

 
EPISODE 21 RECAP

After months of absence, Ae-shin visits Eugene and requests to accompany him to the U.S. upon his return. Eugene knows that Ae-shin is manipulating him, and he harshly suggests that she put some effort into her manipulation by lying to him that she loves him — then, he would believe her and do everything to support her mission. Ae-shin reveals that her final destination is Japan, and understanding the implications, Eugene says he despises Ae-shin even more for manipulating him like this. But even with his cutting words, Ae-shin can sense his care and tears up.

As Takashi checks out of the hotel, a worker urgently reports to Hina that he saw a black figure pass by as he was cleaning out the room. Assuming the identity of the unannounced guest, Hina tries to quickly assuage the worker’s worries in front of Takashi, but it’s too late. Takashi suspects that this figure is the enemy and orders his soldiers to search the building for this supposed rebel in their midst. Once Takashi’s soldiers are out of sight, Hina rings the bell to Eugene’s room as a warning.

At the warning signal, Ae-shin tells Eugene not to worry about her and quickly jumps to the next balcony. She lets herself into the room and looks embarrassed to see Hee-sung in a bathrobe. He’s surprised by her sudden appearance but immediately offers to hide her from the imminent threat of Japanese soldiers. He then breaks into a sweet smile, happy to see and help Ae-shin again.

Eugene calmly allows Takashi to enter his room to search for this suspicious figure, and encourages him to conduct a thorough search. Takashi shares that he’s returning to Japan before his promotion as the commander of the Japanese Korean Army, and he sneers that Eugene is conveniently returning to the U.S. at a turbulent time in Joseon. Then Takashi discovers a box under the bed, and Eugene’s expression suddenly hardens.

Hee-sung opens his door when the Japanese soldiers come by to search for the rebel. The soldier looks behind to see Ae-shin, disguised in a robe and with her hair down. Hee-sung angrily barks at the soldier for sneaking looks at his lover and demands that they leave. The scolded Japanese soldiers comply, and Hee-sung quickly shuts the door before handing Ae-shin a box that he poured his heart and soul into. Ae-shin opens the box to find a new coat, and she thanks him for the help.

Next door, Takashi opens the box to reveal the Joseon flag. Takashi laughs that a Joseon person has an American music box while an American person has a Joseon flag. Along the same vein, Eugene responds that a Japanese person has a list of Joseon people, and Takashi angrily grabs Eugene’s collar at the disclosure that Eugene searched his room and found the hitlist. Eugene taunts him further, saying that a Japanese soldier can’t harm an American. Takashi lets go of Eugene and vows to find Ae-shin upon his return to Joseon.

Takashi tells Eugene to quit his righteous act, since Japan is merely going to war with Russia to control Joseon, just as the Americans went to war with Spain to colonize the Philippines. Takashi asserts that an excellent nation disappoints an inferior nation — the U.S. to the Philippines, England to India, and now Japan to Joseon — and the people of the inferior nation, especially a particular young noblewoman, will suffer.

All the evacuated hotel guests wait at the stairs while the worker scans the crowd for the black figure. Hina also scans the guests and notices Ae-shin in Hee-sung’s new coat. She misleads her worker to suspect Hee-sung, who gladly carries out the distraction. Meanwhile, Takashi gives Eugene to chance to kill him, since this may be his last opportunity. Eugene doesn’t believe this will be their last encounter, but knowing this is an opportunity, he pulls out his gun.

Downstairs, Ae-shin utilizes Hee-sung’s distraction to slip by toward the door, but the soldiers yell at her to stop. Suddenly, they hear a gunshot from above, and the soldiers rush toward the sound while Ae-shin makes her escape. Hee-sung looks to Hina, and they nod at each other in silent acknowledgement.

When the soldiers barge into Eugene’s room, we see that Eugene has only shot the floor. Takashi yells at the soldiers for their incompetence and tells Eugene that he’s curious whether Eugene will show up as a Joseon person or an American at their next encounter. Eugene tells him to guess, since he’s already decided, and Takashi finally leaves the hotel.

At the embassy, Seung-gu visits Eugene to ask about Ae-shin’s request, and Eugene seems vexed that Seung-gu disclosed the information about his departure to Ae-shin. Eugene realizes that the time has come to fulfill his promise to kill Takashi, and he knows that he will soon be separated from Ae-shin either by death or his return to his country. He admits that he was scared that he would make a different choice, and Seung-gu apologizes for Joseon’s great debt to him.

When Hee-sung enters the pawnshop, he finds Choon-shik scrambling to hide his work, so he quickly distracts Choon-shik to grab the paper. He notices Ae-shin’s name written as “Ae-shin Choi” on a forged U.S. passport in correspondence to Eugene’s real passport, and he despondently comments that this fate has been tied, regardless of the counterfeit document.

At his hideout, Dong-mae finds Hotaru held hostage at gunpoint by the Righteous Army, and he’s consequently held at gunpoint by Ae-shin. Eun-san demands to know where Minister Lee is captured, but Dong-mae claims that he’s not responsible for the abduction. Dong-mae explains that he fell out of Musin Boss’ favor after being shot by a Righteous Army member and letting the culprit go free. In response, Eun-san asks Dong-mae to help them, but he sternly refuses, as there is still order to his gang. Then, Dong-mae turns to Ae-shin to address her debt and accuses her of not delivering the payment directly.

Eugene waits at the bakery, where the baker (a newfound comrade) informs him of the curfew approaching. Once the curfew bell rings, Ae-shin arrives and asks about his response to her request. Eugene uses his finger to spell out his answer in the flour on the table, and he places a ring as the second letter in the word “love.” Then, he hands her the fake passport, and Ae-shin looks confused at her surname. Eugene explains that this is the safest way to enter Japan, as his wife.

Eugene takes the ring and puts it on Ae-shin’s ring finger, explaining that most Western men propose on one knee and profess their love to their fiancée. He shares his own proposal, saying, “If you break me and use me to save your country, I could be broken thousands of times for you. I knew you were this tough since the first moment, but I still liked you.” He tells her not to be sorry, since this is his choice. He instructs her to meet in two days when they depart and leaves while Ae-shin sits at the bakery, sobbing in another realization of how difficult love can be.

At the military academy, Eugene proudly oversees the trainees, who’ve all become skilled in handling and shooting the guns. He announces that this is his last class and shares an Arabic proverb: “An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lion led by a sheep.” Eugene says that Joseon is becoming more precarious by the day and warns the trainees that when a country falters, the army suffers the first blow.

Eugene presumes that the newly established Japanese Korean Army forces will likely eliminate the military academy and overlook the trainees as a flock of sheep when they’re actually commanders. He orders his trainees to be the lions that lead history with courage and wisdom. With that, he ends his last class, and Joon-young orders the trainees to salute to their instructor. They salute to him in unison, and Joon-young cries as he looks at Eugene with a determined look. Eugene salutes back.

At the embassy, Domi sobs at the news of Eugene and rejects all of Eugene’s empty promises that they’ll see each other again. Gwan-soo sympathizes with Domi and asks Eugene why the U.S., a supposed ally, isn’t helping Joseon. Eugene explains that a large amount of Japan’s war funds come from the U.S. and England, and the Russo-Japanese war will yield great profits for the U.S., so the U.S. won’t be helping Joseon. Eugene advises Gwan-soo to stay at the embassy and keep Domi with him there for the sake of their safety.

Dong-mae meets with Ae-shin at the dojo and reminds her of his warning not to fly (over roofs). In response, she reminds him of her warning that she would kill him in their next encounter. Despite the animosity in their words, they seem to find ease in their mutual enmity. Dong-mae says that she only has three more months until her next payment and demands that she meet him at the dojo directly to show whether she’s dead or alive.

At dusk, Dong-mae meets Eugene, who hands him a beer in celebration of his last night in Joseon. Eugene says that he’s returning to the U.S. and plans to fulfill his promise in Japan on his way home. Dong-mae informs him of an upcoming festival with fireworks that would cover up the sounds of gunshots, and Eugene looks at him curiously. Eugene asks if Dong-mae is on his side, and Dong-mae finally admits that it’s been like that for a while. This bromance is thriving!

Making his final round of farewells, Eugene meets with Hina and thanks her. He says that he’ll miss her jokes and the hotel coffee, which was always sweet. Hina tells him to return anytime, as Joseon and Glory Hotel will always be there.

Eugene waits for Ae-shin at the train station, and he freezes in awe when he sees Ae-shin approaching him in her Western dress. He says he’s trying to run away from Joseon, but this last memory of Joseon is so beautiful that he may want to come back.

Once they’re on the train, Ae-shin shares her thoughts that this ring on her finger must only represent marriage if the husband also has the same ring. She asks for Eugene’s ring, and he hands it to her from his uniform pocket. Then, Ae-shin grabs his hand and slides the ring onto his finger. She confesses, “I love you. I was in love with you.” She holds his hand, and Eugene looks touched by her sincere confession.

Hotaru reads Dong-mae’s cards that day, which happens to be “sad fate.” Dong-mae reflects on his broken encounters with and because of Ae-shin, and he comments that all his moments of defeat were filled with passion.

Hee-sung eats a meal with his father, who laments Wan-ik’s untimely death and regrets giving him an expensive gift. Nobleman Kim says that as the only son of their family, Hee-sung must marry to carry on the family name. But Hee-sung refuses to marry and blames his father for only having one son. At that, Nobleman Kim gets on his feet and chases Hee-sung around the table to give him a proper scolding.

Hee-sung returns to the pawnshop, where Il-shik comments on the exodus from Joseon. Il-shik stops Choon-shik from throwing out a pair of shoes and explains that a Righteous Army member left the shoes there while escaping, but they haven’t been claimed since. Hee-sung laments that some items can become relics, but Choon-shik reminds Hee-sung that he doesn’t have time to lament when he’s late on his rent. Hee-sung failed to get money from his father, so he leaves his pocket watch as payment. They joke that this could become a relic, but they don’t let Hee-sung go back on his offer.

Eugene and Ae-shin arrive at Shimonoseki port, where they stand in line for customs before entering the country. Eugene slyly switches bags with Ae-shin and easily passes the inspection thanks to his uniform, but Ae-shin arouses some suspicion. The Japanese soldiers believe that Ae-shin is a Joseon person and dig into her (Eugene’s) bag. They find the ornament belonging to Eugene’s mother, and Eugene steps in to minimize the threat by demanding that they raise their concerns with the American embassy and treat his wife with respect. They let Ae-shin pass, and Eugene takes her hand to enter Japan.

Once they’re outside, Ae-shin suggests that they part ways there and switches their bags. Before she leaves, Eugene stops her and desperately asks if she would run away to the U.S. with him. He knows that Joseon is destined for ruin and only wants Ae-shin to survive. Ae-shin admits that she’s imagined going to the U.S. with Eugene a hundred times — studying there, seeing a zebra, falling asleep next to Eugene, and smiling often. But in all one hundred scenarios, she returned.

Ae-shin says that this is the end of their fate together, as they embark on separate paths, with Eugene returning home and Ae-shin leaving home. Ae-shin lets go of his hand, and Eugene tearfully watches her leave. The weight of their separation hits Ae-shin later that night, and she cries alone as it begins to rain.

As Ae-shin finds her way to the Righteous Army hideout, she’s met with a few threatening Japanese men who wonder why a Joseon woman would dare to enter Japan alone. She scans her surroundings for any weapons and pushes past the men to break a broom to use for defense. But before she can attack her enemies, another man beats them up. He approaches Ae-shin with an umbrella and introduces himself as Song Young, her father’s friend and her mother’s older cousin. This was the comrade who ran away with baby Ae-shin and brought her home to Grandfather.

They enter a Japanese shop, where Eun-san’s apprentice works. Ae-shin hands Song Young the banknote from the emperor, and he says that this will fund the Righteous Army’s more advanced artillery. He tells Ae-shin that she’ll support the rescue mission by watching their backs and make sure that they all board the ship to Shanghai. He tells her to rest and recover from her journey and says that they’ll discuss plans the next day. As Ae-shin checks her gun, she glances at her ring and keeps it on her finger.

At the American embassy in Japan, Eugene meets with Kyle, who notices the ring on Eugene’s finger. He asks if Eugene got married, and Eugene asks Kyle to be the first to congratulate him. Kyle does so and knows that it must be that noblewoman, Ae-shin.

Musin Boss tells his hostage, Minister Lee, that the Japan-Korea treaty was signed successfully thanks to Minister Lee’s absence. He calls Minister Lee is a traitor now and suggests that he cross over to Japan’s side. Minister Lee doesn’t understand Japanese and says that he won’t soil his ears or mouth anymore. Then, he bites his tongue, and the lackeys rush to wrap a cloth around Minister Lee’s bloody mouth to stop him.

Hina visits the Catholic village to find her mother and introduces herself to the nun with her Korean name, Lee Yang-hwa. The nun welcomes her and explains that a man came to find her mother a few years after she passed. Since then, the man returned every year to pay his respects. Hina finds her mother’s burial site with a tombstone that read her name: Jung Myung-shin.

Afterwards, Hina walks along the shore with Dong-mae at her tail. She asks if he’s trailing her nowadays, and he offers to stand in front of her if she wants. He comes in front of her and sweetly offers to give her a piggyback ride, calling her Lee Yang-hwa. That mention of her name evokes tears as she reveals that she’s an orphan now. She crouches to the ground and weeps for her mother, and Dong-mae tries to comfort her by saying that he’s been an orphan for a while too.

Looking at her softly, Dong-mae gently tells her to live a new life — not as Lee Yang-hwa nor Kudo Hina. He tells her to put powder in her purse instead of a gun, to hang up paintings in her room instead of her fencing sword. He tells her to meet a kind man, wear beautiful clothes, not cry or bite, and dream of an ordinary life. Through her cries, Hina asks why Dong-mae is talking like he’s about to die, and he responds that he’s a bad guy. He says that bad guys die first so that good people live longer. Hina stands up and hugs Dong-mae, saying that she’ll be worse than him so that she’ll die before him. With the family she’s lost, she can’t stand to lose Dong-mae.

The festival commences in Tokyo, and a carriage driven by a Righteous Army comrade brings a line of geishas to entertain Musin Boss’ guests at the geisha house. At the end, we see a familiar comrade, So-ah, the former geisha in Joseon who was saved by Eugene and escaped to Shanghai. She enters the room and sits next to Minister Lee, who’s tied up at the end of the table and doesn’t seem to notice her there.

At the festival, Takashi’s young son asks about the rank of his father’s new role of commander in Joseon. His mother explains that it’s an honorable position and that Takashi could be the new king of Joseon, which would make the Japanese emperor a god. As Takashi looks around, he notices a figure pointing a gun at him from a roof, and he orders his soldiers to protect his son with their lives. He flees the area with his wife and orders his soldiers to find the assassin on the roof.

At the geisha house, Minister Lee’s humiliation entertains Musin Boss’ guests, and Musin Boss challenges So-ah to seduce Minister Lee. She takes the offer and playfully throws off her socks. Then, she takes a sword and cuts her dress to reveal her bare leg. She takes Minister Lee’s hand and places it on her leg, and she leans in to whisper her plan to flip the table on the count of three. Minister Lee finally realizes her identity, and on the count of three, hell breaks loose.

Minister Lee flips the table and So-ah shoots at the guests in the room. The side doors open, and Song Young shoots at the enemy with his comrade. They quickly escape the room with the other frantic geishas, and Ae-shin shoots at any threats from above. So-ah and Minister Lee successfully ride away with Apprentice, and Ae-shin continues to shoot at her enemies to protect her comrades. Once she’s discovered, she also flees the scene.

Takashi stumbles through the street, cowering behind his wife. Eugene follows him on the roof, and Takashi quickly abandons his wife-shield to make a run for it. He corners himself with only two soldiers to protect him, but they’re quickly shot dead. Then, a bullet hits Takashi’s arm and leg, and Eugene slowly approaches him with his mask pulled down.

Takashi regrets not killing Eugene sooner and says that Eugene is ultimately facing him as a Joseon person. But before he can finish that sentence, Eugene shoots him dead. In English, Eugene says, “You’re wrong. I’m just an American that has many bullets left.” At the sound of approaching soldiers, Eugene flees.

Dong-mae waits at the Jemulpo station, sitting at the exact place where he met Ae-shin last time, but she doesn’t show. He finds Hina at Glory Hotel practicing with her fencing sword, and he reminds her that she shouldn’t be wielding swords anymore. Hina asks how he met Hotaru, and Dong-mae shares that he hid away in a shaman’s house in Japan after being betrayed. Hotaru worked as a maid there, but it became clear that the shaman exploited her.

The shaman sold her to Dong-mae for a night, and he went straight to bed without touching her. She instinctively stuck her hair pin in his shoulder in self-defense, but Dong-mae didn’t flinch at her attack. He told her that he’s giving her a present before he leaves the next day, as a gesture of gratitude for her cooking. He noticed that she didn’t speak and asked if she wanted the shaman dead. With the blood on her fingers, Hotaru wrote “yes.”

The next day, Dong-mae killed the shaman, and Hotaru followed him out. Back at the hotel, Dong-mae asks Hina why she asks about Hotaru, and Hina reveals that quiet Hotaru sent a telegram to Musin Boss about Dong-mae.

After the successful mission in Tokyo, Ae-shin meets with Song Young before he leaves for Shanghai. As her uncle, he promises to see her again soon. Ae-shin thanks him for protecting her, and Song Young ensures her that her parents will recognize each other and live happily together in their next lives in a later Joseon. She wishes him a safe journey, and he tells her that they must not die easily, so her parents’ sacrifice is not in vain.

Ae-shin finds the photo shop where her parents’ photo was taken, and she runs into Eugene there. She hides her left hand behind her, and Eugene looks relieved to see her before his ship leaves. He notices her sheepish expression and grabs her left hand to see that the ring is still on her finger. He takes her hand and enters the shop, and his conversation with the photographer reveals that he’d been waiting for Ae-shin there. They sit in front of the camera, and Eugene instructs her to smile at the camera for the photo.

Dong-mae confronts Hotaru about her betrayal, and with his sword at her neck, she writes that Ae-shin must die in Japan for Dong-mae to be safe. She adds that if Ae-shin returns to Joseon alive, then she’ll kill Ae-shin herself so that Dong-mae doesn’t lose Musin Boss’ trust. Through her tears, she writes that she’ll kill Ae-shin and then die in Dong-mae’s hands.

Infuriated by this betrayal, Dong-mae slices the hanging wooden fixture and orders Yujo to kick out Hotaru. Even though no one supports this, Dong-mae is headed to Japan.

Ae-shin walks Eugene to Shimonoseki port, where the massive ship for the U.S. awaits. He asks that Ae-shin come to the U.S., across the vast sea, to visit him. Ae-shin promises to go once Joseon becomes peaceful. She offers to leave first, and Eugene watches her slowly walk away. The ship takes off from the port, and Ae-shin looks back at the departing vessel longingly.

But her sadness is cut short by an incoming fleet of Musin warriors who recognize her. A pursuit ensues, and Ae-shin runs for her life from the stampeded of warriors at her tail. Then, suddenly a man joins her and shoots at the approaching warriors behind them. It’s Eugene, and they run hand-in-hand as the fireworks glow up the sky.

Once they’ve outrun the warriors, Ae-shin and Eugene take a moment to catch their breath. Ae-shin asks Eugene about the departing ship, to which Eugene states the obvious that it already left. He says that he saw the warriors, and once he came to his senses, he was already running toward the flame. He smiles widely and says that thanks to his impulsive act, he also saw the fireworks in the sky.

Ae-shin calls him reckless, and he agrees, since he only has one bullet left. Ae-shin says that she’ll face this alone, but Eugene says that they’ll do this together — they just need to use this one bullet well.

Eugene takes Ae-shin’s hand, and they continue to run away from their pursuers. Eugene heads straight for the embassy and aims his last bullet at the window of the embassy. He shoots, and the lights immediately turn on as soldiers rush out with guns. Eugene and Ae-shin kneel in surrender, and he announces his identity and Ae-shin as his wife. Breathing heavily from the chase, they kneel at the mercy of the American soldiers, their last hope against the approaching Musin warriors.

 
COMMENTS

This show saved all its best moments for the end, which is a bummer because we only have a few episodes to savor these moments. After weeks of meandering through the exposition that could have been cut in half, I’m finally seeing the epic drama we were promised! The urgency of the story and complexities in relationship are bringing out the best from these actors, and I even found myself escaping my apathy about the partnership between Ae-shin and Eugene. I appreciated exploring the relationship between these two in this episode because their tragic relationship was no longer just the idea of tragedy — it caused real pain and required real sacrifice. I think that’s a prime example of why the pacing of this show seemed unbalanced. With a few exceptions, our characters were responding to the idea of tragedy and pain, rather than anything real.

Despite the unbalanced pacing, the show remained consistent with pulling my heartstrings with Dong-mae and leaving me hanging with Hee-sung. Dong-mae is fiercely loyal and was an absolute sweetheart with his puppy eyes to comfort Hina. He’s genuinely a good bad guy, and even with all these hints at his death, I’m holding onto hope that he outlasts some of the good guys and makes it out alive. And Hee-sung, oh Hee-sung. Why won’t this show give you the time you deserve? It always seems like one step forward and two steps back with the show’s commitment to Hee-sung. At the bare minimum, he deserves a thriving newspaper business that achieves glory by documenting the turbulence in Joseon caused by its invaders. You’ve come this far – you can do it, show.

Though Eugene’s character arc is wrapping up, I don’t think I’ve quite grasped the degree of loyalty he has for Joseon. Eugene will always claim to be an American, since the country granted him the opportunity to live, and being an American in this turbulence is an advantage. But what is his relationship to Joseon without Ae-shin? I don’t think the show ever answered that question, and I’m curious how much his time in Joseon restored his faith and loyalty to the motherland. But I need this show to answer that question with as a fill-in-the-blank answer, not in a long essay that it’s been writing so far. I think that the writing of the show began to mimic its cinematography — long, drawn-out, slow motion, beautiful, and unnecessary. It became something Hee-sung loves — useless and beautiful things — and I say this with endearment and a healthy dose of criticism.

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After watching this episode, my daughter turned to me and said, you see dad, she really does love him.

Bug humbar sez I.

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You and Eugene both! (but your daughters right)

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the romantic part of me says yes, but the cynical part of me says no. -sigh-

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I have no doubt they truly love each other. That said, my dramatic celtic nature is always frustrated by the understated love declarations in kdramas, as we can't experience a feeling without making it bigger and bolder, usually involving physical contact...(and in total irony, I married a man who wouldn't recognize a superlative if it slapped him in the face!)

Mr. Sunshine wasn't written primarily as a romance, but rather, a romance between a man and his country, which may be why some viewers are having difficulty with the plot-if you keep trying to force it into the mold of a traditional romance, it looks slow, but if you approach it as a man learning to love his country, it works (at least for me!!)

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@beantown, I think I understand your point of view, and there are parts of it I completely agree with. I also feel that an emotional connection can be shown without hours of mutual groping. Your comment about your husband and superlatives made me laugh. It made me think of a commercial with Michael Bay where a tiger growls at him while he's laying in his poolside lounge chair, and he says, "awesome pussycat."

In other areas I think I see your point of view, taking Mr. Sunshine from different perspectives to find one that works.

For myself, I actually loved the slow parts. I felt that the emotional content just shone through like sunshine. It reminded me of a scene in Goblin, where the Goblin told his bride, "every day you have been blindingly bright," to show her how in the darkness of his loneliness and his suffering, she had brought something so different and beautiful.

In that sense I had considered this story a romance in the way of the 19th century European romances, meaning the ardent love between 2 people, where they overcome obstacles on their way to find each other. This reflected in what Ae-shin had told Eugene, what Gunner Jang had explicitly requested of Eugene, what Ae-shin had told Hui-sung, and what even Hui-sung had asked Eugeene. It seemed to me that was the way Eugene understood it, too. Not, "isn't this romantic?' But, if she wants to kill me, then fine. I have nothing to live for anyway.

But thinking of your idea of a Romance, it makes me think of the original Romance, the story of heroism and great (and noble) sacrifice. In this context I can see the truth of the story as well. Eugene, who is absolutely a person of bone and blood and steel. And Dong Mae, a person of bone and blood, and rage and endurance. He will fight until he dies. And even Hina, who is so profoundly sad and lonely, yet brilliant and lethal. Out of all the characters, my heart goes out to her the most.

With regard to the historical part of this story, the catastrophic loss of Joseon to Japan, I saw that as a part. A big part, but just one. Having seen the murder of Salvador Allende, the reign of terror of Augusto Pinochet, the wars of the Desaparacidos, and even the short-lived creation of Biafra and the devastation of the Igbo people, I knew people who lived through those struggles, who came up in them, grew up in them, and found each other in them. I can tell you, the ones I knew who lived, defended each other all the way, because the struggle was rooted in family, and community, and defending the people you loved.

Love was the thing. Love drove it. Adults protecting their children. Village elders protecting their people, organizing the efforts, because they knew everyone, had watched them grow up, were related to them. Mothers in Argentina, with no power, bearing silent witness to those who had been taken in the middle of the night.

That I can see in this story. Gunner Jang, who fights for his father, Eun-san, Jumo, So-ah,...

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Well, I guess I'm a windbag, because dramabeans cut off about a third of what I'd written. (frownie face)

But I would just close by saying that I do believe that Eugene loves his country, but he loves it like a man loves chocolate. The Chosun people he loves, and wishes he could help. But the Chosun empire? He could just as easily have ice cream (or a hamburger). But the love he has for Ae-shin is like a man's love for air. He doesn't even need to think about it, but he knows he would die without it.

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@grumpyoldman. Thank you, this is beautiful....

"Let's have faith that right makes might; and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it" A.Lincoln

P.S. I have a distant cousin who was a revolutionary in Argentina...

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@beantown, god bless him. The Peronists did so much harm there.

Abraham Lincoln was my favorite president, and his personal struggles really touched my heart.

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I was expecting a view of Joseon during a turbulent time period but the middle episodes were so slow and focused on the romance so I was disappointed. Now that we are back to focusing on the resistance I'm happy.

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@modestgoddess, I keep on forgetting how different things are in other countries. I guess I'm just so used to how thoroughly we've mined our history in USA, or at least the official version. In Korea I guess this time period hasn't been touched on that much?

Even in America, though, you find some surprising bits of american history in film and stories. In the Gangs of New York, of all places, I got my first look at the Draft Riots of the Civil War. It made me go and learn about it.

As a non-Korean, I have to apologize about my lack of sensitivity.

As an old man who has seen way to much of imperialism, overthrow, oligarchy and corruption, sometimes it's too much. Sometimes, watching two people who love each other, find each other, and get to keep each other, is the thing that I really need.

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Your daughter is right. This episode was so entertaining, I was on the edge of my seat for every minute! I’m surprised no one is talking about the scene with Ae-shin with her hair down (whoa!), and Hee-Seung pretending that she’s his woman. Probably the only time he’ll ever get to say that. I was so amused by that scene. It made me smile so hard after the scene with Eugene at the beginning. Kim Taeri looked super sexy - something this show doesn’t allow for much.

Maybe the audience here just can’t handle the reversed roles of a female protagonist, a rebel, a sniper – a serious enigma even in 2018, but I did not watch it the way dramallama did. I didn’t see any attempt on Ae-shin part to “manipulate” or “use” Eugene. She was straight up “take me to America” and “I know you will” and “yes my final destination is Japan”. It was Eugene the insecure lover that made it about being used. Eugene is so predictable. He just can’t see Ae-shin’s love until she is finally compelled to spell it out for him on the train. The scene where she grabs his fingers felt like a physical tug on my heartstrings, so beautifully executed – holy molly fudge me!! Honestly I’ll take that scene over any kiss.

I just love As-shin and the way KES is illustrating her character. Ae-shin singlehandedly, with her conviction for the fate and love of Jeseon, has moved a calculating person like Hina, a ruthless person like Dong-mae, a not-a-care-in-the-world person like Hee-seung and a revengeful person like Eugene to love, admire and want to protect her and help her with her cause. Each of these key characters around her have changed fundamentally because of Ae-shin and what she believes in. To me it’s a story of how people with nothing have inspired the masses against ruthless, powerful forces. It’s a story that really resonates with many colonized countries. And I absolutely love the fact that KES chose a woman to exemplify this role and chose Kim Tar-ri to play it. What a great show.

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@TaeRiFanGal, I too used to be firmly in the pro Ae-shin camp. I loved her kick-ass, take no prisoners side. I applauded her taking out 4 japanese guards in about 6 seconds in episode 2, and I firmly believe that Eugene did too. I believe that was part of what drew him to her. In that sense, he saw that she was a fighter, a warrior, a killer. And he liked it.

Even the scene where they crossed each other across the Trolley tracks, just before all the lights came on, that was a love-at-first-sight moment, or what I'd call a pheromone moment. Except in their case, they weren't smelling each other's pheromones. It was gunpowder.

Even the scene on the rooftops after the first hit, I remembered telling my daughter, this is their cute-meet moment. The story they tell their grandkids.

"I remember your grandad had just assassinated Logan Taylor, that American spy who'd been selling secrets to the Japanese. He'd just gotten off the shot before I could. I saw the muzzle flash and saw him moving out of the corner of my eye. I was so mad! How could he take my mission! But then I saw the Japanese guards chasing after him, and quick as a wild boar, I took down ten of them in six seconds." "It was four." "Shut up. I'm telling this story. So anyway, before I was so rudely interrupted, (Shoots Eugene an evil glare -- Eugene responds with a put-upon sigh) I jumped up and started to run across the roofs to my rendezvous point. Your grandad flew up and down the roofs like a bird," "I leapt like a snow-leopard!" "Like a pigeon, but I caught up to him. Then we found ourselves on rooftops across the streets from each other, we heard the faintest rustling, saw the smallest movement in the pitch-darkness of night, and pointed our rifles at each other. We sighted down the scopes of our German rifles," "Mine was Russian." "Be quiet, who's telling this story? I sighted down the scope and looked at his face, looked into his eyes above his mask, as he looked into mine, and I knew, I just knew, he was the one for me."

"Tell us about how Grandad caught you in the alley-way!" "He didn't catch me. I let him think he'd caught me, because I wanted to get another look at his cute face. But I let him know I'd let him live, even though he was quite rude." "Did she yell at you Granddad?" "Yes, and she sounded just like a wild boar, too." "Grrrr."

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I finally found why I love this drama. It depicts that love does not always have to follow the stable happy ending. What should you do when you fall in love at a dire situation? Both Eugene and Ae-shin knows that they cannot have a happy ending together, so they can only imagine their life together. They are taking the best opportunity for their love as they can because they are now in a time where there are no happy future for any person in Joseon.

This is what I like. It is pure and exiting love. They are just living the moment as best as they can. Love do not have rules. Love just flows like a river.

I think this is the best drama of KES. Much much better than Goblin and DOTS. Hat's off KES.

Now, lets gear up for the final week. I have my tissues ready!

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I agree this is definitely her best drama.

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I'm here after being breathless for an 1: 15 mins of drama.. action... dialogs and eugenes Face pouring all the emotions so perfectly deserving an Oscar
I totally feel what you said about the slow motion of the more than half of the episodes..though I cant deny how much I enjoyed that useless but beautiful scenes and dialogs. Except for some few scenes I deemed excessively classic!

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Who would have thought that Dong Mae would be the person who betrayed Ae Shin indirectly.

He wants to protect Ae Shin from herself and Hotaru wants to protect him from himself. Love is a complicated thing !

I love the scene when Dong Mae said the name of Hina, I really like their relationship.

I'm happy to see Takashi dead ! He was a coward until the end...

No need a judge or a priest to marry you, the both are married just by their will, I like it :)

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@kurama - I didn't catch that - when or how did Dong mae betray Aeshin?

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His mute fortune teller sent a telegram to his boss of the Mushin Society, setting up Ae shin for capture in Tokyo

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No, no, no. Hotaru sent to Dong mae's Boss that he had been shot and refused to go after the perpetrator whom he knew was a Righteous Army member. Although, I could be wrong because many times this show leaves stuff for us to figure out in our own. But this was my understanding and the recap here confirms that.

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I re-read that portion. of the recap and you may (are probably) right. I just didn't think Hotaru knew about Ae shin's plans but it makes more sense that that's what she would've reported.

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She was there when the Righteous Army wanted to know where was the Minister Lee. So I assumed she said to the boss that the Righteous Army is coming to save him, expecting they will be killed.

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I actually thought she reported him being shot..but Musin society showing up at harbor I guess the got the info from her..and she knew about the plan because she was there when Ae sin and the potter took her as histage to ask dongmae about whereabouts of that official

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@beantown and @farzane - Thanks so much! And special thanks to @kurama for bringing it up in the first place. This will give me even better enjoyment whenever I get around to a rewatch of this series to have a better understanding of what's going on in that moment.

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Thank you, Dramallama, for the recaps, I appreciate it. For me the show continues to build toward a faultless crescendo of deep emotion. Eugene and As shin are a tragic couple, very much like her parents, and I for one appreciated the earlier episodes where we got to know the characters intimately.

I keep flipping back and forth between the drama and the real history underpinning it, and I find it so unbelievably sad.

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I completely agree with you. And the further back I go, the more sad I get.

Now after this episode, I want to look into the US and British loans to Japan and what our plan was regarding Chosun back then, and I feel like I'll get even more sad.

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I LOVE YOO YEON-SEOK! I LOVE YYS SHIRTLESS! THE END!

Just kidding. But seriously, I love YYS. I love his voice, his build, his acting, his face. I couldn't imagine anyone else playing Dong-mae. And where was all this good stuff during the first half of the show? It's only getting epic in the end, which is better late than never I suppose.
1.) It was beautiful when Eugene wrote LOVE on the table in flour with the ring as the "o". But then when he slid the ring to pick it up, the word became LIVE, which is fitting because Ae-shin is always in danger.
2.) Dong-mae and Hina are just perfection with each other. He is a bad boy, but a marshmallow when around her.
3.) Takashi was an a** using his own wife as a shield and that's exactly what he was doing.
4.) I loved seeing how Dong-mae and Hotaru met. (Seriously though, how do they make YYS look so much younger during the flashbacks?!) But then seeing her betrayal right after was like a punch to the gut.
5.) This is just something I noticed: Why does Lee Byung-heon's voice sound so different when he's speaking in English than it does when he's speaking Korean or Japanese? I've always noticed that.

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This is my first time appreciating YYS. FYI youtube has an interview with him about his character in this drama and also lots of BTS clips and awesome fanmade vids of his character.

As to LBH's voice, I find that true of all Koreans as they speak English and as I'm learning Korean, I think it's due to in English we over enuciate with a deliberate "push out" where the Korean language tends to "push in" with the lips/mouth kept small (many times pursed) seemingly to almost mumble. Although that could just be me in my struggle to actually hear the ending syllables in words even as they're pronounced slowly by Rosetta Stone. lol

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I love YYS in this drama too. I think for me Dong Mae is the heart of the story when Ae Shin is the brain.

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LOL regarding your parenthesis in number four. I agree that a really good job was done in making him look younger. Do you remember that first Dong-mae flashback at the beginning of the show? I was amazed at how much younger Yoo Yeo-seok looked.

Regarding number 5: I think it just has to do with how sounds are produced in other languages. When I read something in Spanish, for example, my voice becomes a little deeper.

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It took me a second viewing to realize the reason Dongmae looks so young is because he has less facial hair.

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#2 I will be very surprised if Dong-mae or Hee-seung end up with anyone at all. I feel like all the characters were doomed from the start. It's their tragedies that tie them all together.

#4 tho! Thanks for pointing this out. I thought I was the only one thinking this!!?? I seriously thought they were using some other actor to play those younger age parts for Dong-mae. I have been googling this for the past 3-4 weeks!! Can shaving have that much of an effect?? I'm flabbergasted!

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Have you noticed that often (if not always) in dramas, stories or movies, the hero has a decent ideological goal (like saving the country) and the herione sacrifices her everything to help him in his dircetion..or there is a heroine who fights by herself to save the world..
But this Drama is striking for more than that!
Here we have a heroine who has an ideology to pursue,a great cause and a hero who (For the First Time in History) changes his direction, sacrifices his preferences for the sake of his romantic partner.. whileWatching this episode I was suddenly like "Aha! Is that why this relationship feels so dramatically sad in a good way? Is that why I feel so much respect for Eugene love and pity the situation he is in?
Cause unconsciously we don't expect men to change their directions for love..to be supporting role! If the roles were swapped, it was easier for us to understand. So I think this drama is doing something big in this case and Im all for it!
Also to mention Eugenes facial expressions upon their departure when they first arrived in Japan: he was just looking but you could feel frustration, withholding, him trying to Understand, figure things out and... He definitely is an Awesome Actor!

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Well said. My thoughts exactly.

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yes I really love that Aeshin and Hina have lives that do not revolve around the men in the story.

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Aw, I like your thoughts. I'm re-watching the whole thing and have a new found respect for Ae shin, Eugene, and their relationship. This has turned out to be a really nice story.

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I love all the other characters but these two has got something new!
I think Dong Mae has more fans but for me dong Mae is good where he is not as Ae Sin or Hina's partner

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Marines Corp is the elite force in the American Military. They are trained to the height of human endurance. The uniform truly means something. Eugene does some things that are un-Marine.
For instance an American Marine Officer would always stand when a lady comes in the room. They are programed to behave in a manner worthy of the corp. No exceptions, There are rules. Even though Ae-sin is the love of his not living up to up that uniform is an emotional shame beyond reckoning. Behaving in a way that is contrary to regulation for an Marine Captain is strange. That being said a Marine would never leave a women in peril. I love this drama. The sceane i the Bakery was gut wrenching,

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I think they didnt do a deep investigation on military ethics

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Thanks for the informative info on the Marines. I wonder though had this always been their protocol (it's 1900s after all) and if so, would that protocol extend to foreigners (which Ae shin should be to Eugene)?

Whatever your answer, I'm sure you're probably more accurate than this series. That's not to knock it as I'm an American and I certainly didn't know these facts about Marines myself (although I did know they're the best of the best).

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The official motto of the Marine Corps, “Semper Fidelis,” (Latin for “Always Faithful”) was adopted in 1883.
This is a clip from a pamflet oneitquite for officers. Eugene does a good job 99% of the time.

General Behaviour. The following simple policies should be observed to derive greatest satisfaction from service life: –
Strive to be at good terms with all. Choose close associates with care.
Avoid open expressions of dislike as they generally lead to hostilities. Do not offend the susceptibilities of others.
Social obligations should be repaid but strictly in accordance to one’s means without excuses for simplicity and austerity.
All elders are to be addressed as “Sir” unless, they happen to be junior in rank. Always be courteous to the old and infirm.
Avoid the tendency towards self-praise or discussing personal matters in general company.
Never speak against reputations of the opposite sex.
It is unbecoming of an officer to borrow money, and worse still, if he borrows from a lady.
The officer should devote frequent periods of time to reading and studying and should cultivate an interest in national and world affairs as well as in the happenings of merely local interest.

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One more thing and Im off to writting my thesis..not gonna graduate like this :D

About Eugenes feeling toward Joseon: he is definitely diappointed in the system and the way the country is running. But still in the face of another country (especially a neighbor country which has a long history of tension with them) that humiliates them and is directly agressive (not smart enough to act like England!) It is understandable for him to take some tiny steps in favour of the country... but his actions which put him in great danger are definitely for Ae shin's and his other joseon acquaintances in joseon like the Ae shin teacher, the errand boy ...

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Fighting!!👩‍🏫👩‍🎓(or👨‍🏫👨‍🎓!)

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First one! Thanks 😊

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My take from your comment is that Eugene is like a tsundere ?But rather than the traditional context of tsundere (a man being cold to a woman that he ultimately cared), in this drama Eugene did it to Joseon instead.

I don't know how this could address @dramallama question unless tsundere is a kind of relationship. Heh.

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This made me laugh so hard that Eugene is the tsundere of Chosun, and I'm sure Eugene would be mortified if he heard you say that.

Of course you'd have to explain to him what that means first.

And of course if Kyle overheard you, he'd be rolling on the floor laughing.

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Tbh, I'm pretty serious with my statement. Haha.
Sorry for the lack of appropriate vocabulary to describe it.

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I'm sorry. I didn't mean any disrespect.

I was just thinking of the instances of tsundere my kids showed me in Anime, and I just remembered the facial expressions between the 2 characters as they argued in the beginning of these relationships. The ones I saw, the females were usually the ones with the cold and hostile feelings towards the male pursuers. For some reason, I remember most of the characters as high school kids, and the action mostly set in high schools or to/from high schools. And they always seemed to have some teacher / coach / librarian etc. say something like, "huh, what's the matter with those two kids?"

The female characters, when they were alone and starting to get mad, would usually say something to themselves like, "How dare he..." and it was usually something innocuous like offering her part of his lunch.

The thing that made me laugh was the idea of stoic Eugene with the facial expressions of one of these girls getting ready to blow up, and having it pointed out to him that he looks like that. I'd think to Eugene, being stoic and not allowing people to see his expressions or feelings, is something that he likes about himself. So having that pointed out to him would be embarrassing. And I could imagine Kyle saying something like, "Is this about that girl? I'm right, aren't I?"

I haven't seen much Anime, or this element of Anime, since the late 80's / early 90's, so the meaning of Tsundere may have changed, in the past 25 years or I may have completely misunderstood it. If so I apologize for laughing when I shouldn't have been, and giving offense where none was intended.

Now that you mention it, I thought that Ae-sin showed some Tsundere traits when she was first called to the legation about the killing, and she was in her palanquin thinking, "who could have said they saw me there? It was that foreigner. I knew he was trouble!" Or even Lee Seung moon, who in the beginning was very irked by Eugene, and used his lowborn status to dismiss him and cast him under suspicion, before finally warming up enough to finally get his help. Even then, Seung-moon didn't so much ask for his help, as blackmail him with the safety of the Potter's militia.

Regarding Eugene's feelings for Chosun, I always felt that it was in two parts. There were the people of Chosun who were like him, the laborers, potters, wherry-men, shop keepers or tradesmen, and of course the children, whom he always seemed to care for. Next to that was what he thought when he thought of Chosun, namely the king and court, the structure of its ruling class (the Yangban), and the oppression of the poor, which at the time I think was about 90 percent of the population of Joseon. I remember in one of the earliest episodes, Eugene had an exchange with Ae-shin where he said, I wonder if Chosun even had any honor to begin with. I took that to mean the corruption and the oppression of the ruling class. I didn't really see that changing...

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Here's the second part (darn my long-windedness)...

In terms of individuals, I thought he saw pretty clearly, or at least over time. He saw Hui-sung as a person who was trying to be a decent man. On the other hand, at best he had nothing but disdain for Hui-sung's parents. He never saw Hina as anything but what she was, a woman trying to make her way in a man's world. And he saw Dong Mae not as a butcher's son, but as a master swordsman with a gang, possibly an agent for the Japanese, who he'd have to keep an eye on. I don't think he even cared about Dong Mae's ancestry. He just saw him as he was in the current day.

I especially thought of his conversation with the King, where the king said, you don't care about class, and he said, no, I care exactly about class. The king couldn't understand, but I think we all understood Eugene's hatred of the class system so deeply embedded into Chosun life and society.

So in terms of tsundere and Eugene's feelings for Chosun evolving, I guess it could be in the way he sees it. Where before he saw Chosun as the class structure that he hated, now he sees Chosun as its people, who are struggling to stay alive under Japanese oppression, and to make a future for their children to live in.

Did I misunderstand your point about tsundere, or did my own silly memories get in the way?

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@grumpyoldman . No need for an apology. I get that you find it funny and means no harm.

I just want to emphasise that I’m serious with that statement and in no way try to tease @farzane opinion through it. I don’t want others to get a wrong idea like I bring up tsundere to make fun of @farzane opinion.

Hope we’re cool.

My understanding of tsundere concept is quite limited to what I see from SNL Korea’s skit. In this episode, Shinee's Taemin acted as a waiter in a tsundere cafe where he needs to talk coldly but act warmly towards female customers. That’s why Eugene popped up in my head because he did act like that at some points in the drama.

Agree. Eugene feeling for Chosun really evolved towards the end of the drama and it's likely because he gets to know more about Chosun and its people.

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That can be an explanation too! But what I meant was that before Eugene's return to joseon, his perceived image of the country was like a black resentful abstract object. But after being in joseon for a while this perception changed.. he made many good and bad discrete memories, met many different people who were suffering like him in their own ways ...so now joseon was not a completely resentful object anymore. Though he still doesn't consider it as his homeland, he can pity it... he can help it. But in total I think he doesn't fully share the ideology of righteous army but he respect and admires them for having such emotions and Ae Sin is definitely an important reason
And there is something I would say: people may hate their country but wouldn't feel good if a foreigner hates it!

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Crystal clear. You last sentence summed it perfectly why I felt okay with Eugene actions to help joseon despite he never felt a sense of belonging to that country. I guess some of us, if not all, could relate to that.

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Exactly!

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@farzane, in rereading my response to @chukahae, I realized I'd restated a lot of what you'd said. Thanks to you, for saying it so well, and thanks to Chukahae as well, for forcing me to tease out my feelings regarding Eugene and Joseon.

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Yep! I just read your reply to @chukahae and that is exactly what I meant..neatly explained

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Ok this episode was so weird. The pacing was so different it was jarring, totally off. Like watching a drama written and directed by someone completely different than the last 20 episodes. A lot happened but it just felt like it happened to bunch of different people. Not the same sloth like characters we're used to watching. I get it. All the viewers LOVE Dong Mae, he's a cutie but he can't be everywhere protecting every woman in town at the same time. That's stretching it a lot for me. I already liked the big alien baby before the drama even started. I guess in true Kdrama fashion we'll get a couple of fast paced episodes here at the end. Just so they can cram in the plot after wasting 20 episodes just filming petals falling to the ground.

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"big alien baby"? Dong mae?

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Yes. The first time I saw Yoo Yeon seok I thought he was kind of "alien" looking. Kind of hulking and otherworldly looking. You don't realize that's he actually "cute" and kind of baby faced until you've watched him for a few minutes. Obviously I don't think the man is getting by on his looks alone. I think he's sexy and attractive because he has loads of onscreen charisma.

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YYS isn't my type at all but something about his acting is so charismatic that I end up falling for him.

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I like him too. I also love Byun Yo han. I do wish he's get another shot at a drama lead.

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YYS does seem particularly huge in this drama maybe because is Lee Byung-hun so small in comparison.

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He's a big guy, broad shouldered too. I think Byun Yo han is even shorter than LBH. They're both a lot smaller than Yeon seok. Like I said, big alien baby. lol

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Throughout this series (and Gakistal, which I just recently watched), we're down repeatedly the telephone being used to convey plans and information, which has me questioning the anachronism of that telephone usage because they seem to be making direct calls to the other party but I believe that for the longest time switchboard operators were required to connect calls and all these calls containing secret info would be at risk of getting overheard. I know of I were the enemy, that would be the first place that I'd replace all the telephone operators with my spies. (Where's @Tim when you need him?)

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I never thought of that.

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I probably only thought of that because 1) when I was in Junior high school, I had the privilege to work in the principal's office as a switchboard operator and they still had an old plug- in-and-connect switchboard in the mid 1970's. And 2) when I was in high school, I asked my infamously known-for-being-cheap Dad for a princess phone in my room and he got me a party line. I didn't even know party lines still existed! For the young'uns, a partyline means you shared the line with someone else (not in your family). You could pick up the line and if the other phone line owner was on the phone, you could hear them talking and had to wait until they were through to use your phone.

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My middle son was at our house (because his dad was going to help him install a part that that had died on his wife's car's door lock.) And we all happened to be watching this episode when son said, "that gun they're training with looks like a Russian "some-word-that-I-was-not-familiar-with." Surprised, I said, "yes. They were using Russian guns at that time. How did you recognize that???" He shook his head and said, "I know antique guns, Mom." (Like, DUH, how could I not know that?) My sweet, gentle, middle son is an expert on antique firearms? File this under things you learn watching Korean Dramas with family.

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Oh, and my prediction? Domi is going to join the resistance and THAT'S where he and Eugene will meet up--temporarily. Because I'm expecting everyone to die, leaving me with a bucket of tears and surrounded by snotty tissues. (TMI? Sorry.)

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Yes to reunions but nooooooooooooo to death! :(

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Do you think he'll still be wearing his teal silk vest?

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His sister will have unstitched it and made it into a Chaek--or maybe one of those ties that goes from a man's forehead to under his ponytail. (Forgive me for not knowing the correct terms.)

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yes that is how we will recognize Domi, the teal silk

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He will have a piece tied around his rifle muzzle.

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That made me think of that old movie The Mask when the cops had moved in and arrested the mask, and as they're emptying his pockets they list, "one rocket launcher," and he says, "I have a permit for that."

Moms (and Dads) can never believe what their kids get up to.

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What can I say... how I wish this awesome episode was at the mid of the series so that we won't be feeling the rush towards the end of the road. Two more ep left. I am curious to see how it ends. All in all, loving what happenes last weekend. More of what I was expecting. Guess I lack patience but I am staying put till the show ends, at least for HN and DM. These two lonely souls are my darlings!

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*happened... big fingers + small keypads = typos 😅😅

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I'm okay with the more exciting episodes being near the end as it took me by surprise. This show had become my lazy weekend slow, but enjoyable, watch. Now as the ante is upped, I feel like I've been on the journey with these characters. I do understand and feel badly that it lost a lot of impatient viewers along the way.

You just never know with Kdrama if sticking it out will leave you happily satisfied or cursing whoever was responsible for wasting hours of your life. I take Kim Eun suk as a pretty safe bet though.

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I do understand where Hotaru is coming from. Every time Aeshin comes by, the cards predict something sad for Dongmae. Hotaru isn't fazed by death just like Dongmae, she simply wishes for him to live just like he does with Aeshin.

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Agreed 100%. I would also imagine it's hard for Hotaru to watch Dong mae love someone else (that is, assuming that their relationship is more than just rescuer and live in fortune teller, or friends).

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I think Dongmae considers her a friend but Hotaru is in love with him, I can't blame her.

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I think so to.

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I always saw their relationship as a platonic one. For me, he sees as a little sister when she sees him as the man who saved her.

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I always filter Kdrama relationships by things not "scene". In my between-the-lines/scenes glasses, Dong mae is very much a bad guy (forget how he's a puppy dog for Ae shin for a moment and see him through the eyes of the average Korean citizen), it's more likely that he had a sexual relationship with Hotaru, who lives with him, and possibly one in the past with Hina from the way he had access to her room (even during bath time). Men would not have a woman living with him who was previously used as a prostitute and leave it platonic, especially if she's willing. And it's obvious she cares for him. I know that's cynical but life was hard for commoners, and especially women commoners, even before Chosun was occupied by Japanese and this is an even harder time.

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For me, as Musin member, sex is a business and he shows respect to people like her by not having sex with. And no scene between them showed some intimacy, even when they hugged after he was released. But in the same time, sex or not, it doesn't really change things. He doesn't love her and she loves him.

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@Kurama "He doesn't love her and she loves him". quoting Kurama
That was never in question. I believe we all agree on that, as that's one of the few things the show made absolutely clear.

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I don't think Hotaru was ever a prostitute. She was probably working for or enslaved by the Shaman. Then the Shaman tried to force her to have sex with Dongmae. Dongmae thanked her for the food she cooked (indicating she worked there in a nonsexual capacity) and paid the Shaman to protect her from other prostitution customers. There is nothing to indicate Dongmae asked for a prostitute to be sent to his room, he was there to hide and recover. The shaman probably just assumed he wanted a prostitute because Dongmae is a gang member.
Dongmae seems to have unusually high sexual morality for the time period. Both Korean and Japanese men were shown being sexually violent towards women and treating them like property. I believe Dongmae when he told Heesung that Hotaru was not his woman (and probably never was). Also Heesung initially assumed Hotaru was Dongmae's sister. To me that shows they behave platonicly toward each other.
I do agree Dongmae being allowed in Hina's room while she bathed was unusual and could indicate past intimacy.

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I don't really watch the show since I would skip some parts here and there. But so far, here are the 2 scenes between AS and EC that really got me. First, when AS put the ring on EC's finger. It was too heartbreaking when she finally confessed 😢😭 Second, their smiles at the photo booth. I love it ♥️

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I am too OCD to skip ahead on anything, even if the show is horrible. There are often lines or sometimes just a look that can change my entire perspective on a show.

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He sighed: It said more than a 1000 words. Now he is all in. He married her on the spot in his heart.

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This was an achingly beautiful, heartbreaking episode. I loved it.

Eugene and Ae Shin were so, so sad...when he took that pic with her, that was just sad. Begging her to go to America with him, just to forget everything...so, so sad, and her saying, I wish I could, but I always come back, to Joseon...*cries* LBH and KTR were magnificent in this episode. I haven't felt their chemistry in the earlier episodes, but this episode, I felt it.

The sound of raw crying was just heartbreaking to hear, Hotaru's wailing as she scribbled those words, was so painful. I thought this was a very powerful scene, one of the best..Dong Mae gets all the best scenes.

Dong Mae with Hina...when she broke down and cried, that was heartwrenching...don't die before me...*cries*

Dong Mae putting everything aside for Ae Shin...it's always been her for him, and it always will...*cries*

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Off topic a bit, but I appreciate the realism of Eugene and Ae shin's stoic smiles as I've never seen an early photograph where people were smiling widely (well, I have seen ONE, (cir. 1930's) my mother had one of herself but her wedding and honeymoon pics look like they're marching to a firing squad).

Just as Eugene had to tell Ae shin he meant face the camera when he told her to smile, most people seemed to be apprehensive and probably a little fearful and didn't understand the technology cir. 1900's. That, and probably teeth that didn't look so great. :)

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I liked that, too. I loved, though, how open and bright AS's smile was when she was smiling looking directly at Eugene verses the reserved smile she served up for the camera.

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I did a little research on 1900 portrait cameras and they would not have had a flash attachment like the one shown it would have been a Vintage AHA smokeless flash powder lam kit. If you didn't have that the photograph would expose the film at the back of the camera and expose the film with available light. Some time it took several seconds to accomplish an exposure. That's why every one is so looks stoic. You had to be perfectly still or the image would be blurred. But in this case the timing of the scene is better with the dish flash: Ec's ring. As's ring. and flash. That is artistic licence and it works.

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Sounds like you're saying their rings caught the light and flashed. If so, I missed that! I'll be sure to watch for that whenever I do a rewatch of this series.

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It was more like a circle, circle, circle, thing. It was just a cute little metaphore but I liked it.

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Agree. To add, maybe smiling for photos isn't a trendy thing back then. I found that "say cheese" isn't yet a thing back in 19 hundreds as the earliest record about "say cheese" is in 1943.

Dear Tim, please come back and give me an F if I get the fact wrong. 😢

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No, you get an A Chukahae. Everything you wrote is accurate .
Tim would have to give me an F for writing because that sentence in my comment is just about the worst I've ever written. I apologize.

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I think people had to hold their poses longer for older cameras which is why they aren't smiling.

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Yes, because the camera shutter stayed open longer to let the light register on the film and people had to stay still to avoid blurring the image. It's why you see a lot of blurred edges in old photos. And posed, not action, photos.

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But isn't it also that in Confucian society that open display of emotions is frowned upon? Or did I misunderstand something at the funeral in episode 2?

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Well I don't know, but the four Righteous Army comrades in Tokyo were smiling in their photo (AS's Dad one traitor and two friends). It is defiantly and auspicious occasion because it is an image of you that will Survive Your Death. The As and EC wedding photo will be a keeper for sure/

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Correct, once you have a flash no need to be so stiff. In the beginning they actually had wire braces behind the people to help them stay still during the exposure.

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Hina crying for her mother broke my heart too. I also remembered Dong Mae's look as Hina started crying. It was like, oh god what did I do? His advice to her also showed that he was dreaming, and what he wanted for a happy ending, even if he doesn't believe it'll ever come.

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Wow! That last scene was intense, what a great cliffhanger. From Heesung helping Aeshin, Dongmae comforting Hina, and Eugene finally killing Takashi, the marriage proposal, the photoshoot... this episode had so many bittersweet moments.

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The scene in the bakery when Eugene proposes to Ae Shin (that they travel as husband and wife) just broke my heart. I first thought it was a little cheesey, but Eugene tends towards goofy when expressing his love for AS, that he wrote out "LOVE" on the flour on the table and positioned the ring as the "O". But, it broke me when the camera pulled back and revealed that the act of picking up the ring to put it on Ae Shin's finger had created an "I" turning the word into "LIVE." Just so, so sad.

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I noticed that but I'm not really clear about the implication of it. Why would "LIVE" means a sad thing? I have my guesses but I would like to know others interpretation of it.

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Aeshin isn't choosing love she is choosing to fight for Joseon. Eugene goes from asking her to love to asking her to live as that is the most he can hope for. He knows she is putting herself in harms way so he wants her to survive.

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that was beautiful

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Yes, I think that he has said on several episodes to several people that he just wants her to live and that he's doing this or that thing that he shouldn't so that she can live at least a little while longer. I feel like he's begging her not to be careless with her life. She's sacrificed her family, love, traditional marriage, etc., but he wants her to at least be alive in the world.

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It has always seemed to me that Ae-shin wants to die, to be with her parents. At first I thought she wanted to be a fighter to 'follow her parents footsteps,' but after she overheard her grandfather yelling at the other clan elders, and she made that prayer to her parents to please come see her, even if only to yell at her, to let her see their faces. She told Eugene that she had never seen her mother's face, and she only could guess at her father's by the story of Ms. Haman. Even her grandfather never showed her the picture of her father and mother, and I can't remember a single scene where she discussed her parents with anyone in her family.
That seemed to me that her parents were always missing from her life, and that hole in her heart was something she could never fill.
That wish to die, I felt was something she had in common with Eugene. Not that he wanted to die, but I felt in many episodes, that he really didn't care if he lived or died.

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Insightfull. Thats right they have had early childhood trama. Attachment disorder. Good eye.

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Thanks @modestgoddess, @csmith and @grumpyoldman for your interpretations of it. I get it now.

Even though she isn't choosing love, it isn't a choice to begin with. She already deeply in love with him back then and there.

I hope it isn't any kind of symbolism of what we could expect from the finale.

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Well the show confirmed my theory that Hontaru came to live with Dongmae after he protected her from sexual violence. This is just further evidence that Dongmae hates rapists.
I was so distracted by all the great Dongmae scenes that I didn't realize we got relatively little Heesung. I do appreciate him having the foresight to have another suit made in Aeshin's size to help her escape.
It does feel like a ton of action in these last few episodes, so much that I can hardly keep track. So little happened in the middle of the series and now everything is happening at once.
I thought Eugene and Aeshin's fake marriage was bitter sweet and I just love that navy coat with all the buttons Aeshin wore to Japan.

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Aeshin's modern day wardrobe is so pretty.

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Yes, so becoming. Eugene is quite taken by her good taste.

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I felt that way too until I rewatched it and heard the Shaman say she was a virgin. Dong Mae's story sounded to me like she lived a life of agony in all ways. I feel that Dong Mae does hate rapists, but I also feel he hates all men that prey on and abuse women.

Dong Mae did kill the two men who were planning to rape and dispose of Ae-shin, but at the Geisha bar he killed the man who had kicked Hotaru, and let go the man who had demanded sex from her. Although he did kill him later.

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Am I the only one who wants Dong Mae & Hotaru to end up together??? In my opinion, the love arc of AS & ES slows down the show. In fact, what I am looking forward to every episode is the story of the “supporting characters” like DM, Hotaru, Hina, Hee Sung, Gunner Jang as well as the politic intrigues at the palace and in Joseon. I hope the show can also give us a bit of background on musin society and how DM was able to climb its ranks and be considered a “son” of their big boss.

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I like Hotaru and I understood her motivation. I'm kinda hoping Dongmae doesn't completely abandon her. Yujo didn't drag her out immediately so I'm hoping she is still around. I feel like Dongmae has more chemistry with Hina. He has firmly kept Hotaru in the friend zone. I'm usually not interested in AS & ES but their scenes in this episode were good.

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@dramallama, thank you for another wonderful recap in this challenging series and for comments that speak my mind! Oh Hee Sung, what we could have had . . .

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This episode seem long, slow romance of Eugene and Ae-shin. The killing of Japanese characters was quicker than the whole episode. I love the backstory of Japanese Geisha and Dong Mae. I hope she does not die. Off to watch next episode.

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After reading only a few of the comments, (not all yet) everyone seems to still be stuck on the Eugene/Ae Shin romantic angle. Just. No.
I'm re-watching from the first episode with whole new eyes, and I have a newfound appreciation of the person Ae Shin is. In fact, she reminds me of me growing up in an age and culture where girls were supposed to be southern belles, and I was only interested in science, and reading adventure tales of far away exotic places (which I now realize were adventures that boys got to have, not girls). She was attracted to Eugene precisely because he was different, dangerous, an enigma, not ordinary. She didn't want to marry, especially not an ordinary person like Hae seung. She would lose her freedom. She wanted to make a difference truly. Probably most of you already knew this, but I too was looking for a typical kdrama romance. Now I know better. He was attracted to her because she was also an enigma, a seemingly shy quiet noble lady who was a crack shot and a sniper. They have lovely deep conversations. It doesn't seem quite the lets-go-to-bed-right-now physical relationship but a deep commitment and admiration. He makes her think about things more deeply. She makes him think about things more deeply. ( Although she did try to use him and he didn't mind a bit, eh.) If they get to live thru this, they'll make a great team.
Dong mae: I have a feeling he was supposed to originally die, but he has so many fans they may have re written his part. Especially now that I know they just finished filming recently. He was never about anything but anger and resentment. He seems like he would be the stalker type. However, since there are still a couple episodes to go and since he'll be back, I still have hope he can be redeemed. If not, I hate to see what he'll come back as in his next life.

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Did anyone else notice when he pushed the ring towards her and there was flour on the table, it changed the word from "love" to "live". That has to mean something, right?

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Let's try a literal meaning " Love live(s)"?? Thats me holding onto a happy ending or at least a satisfying one(episode 22 kinda help in that regard) but.. this drama is so unpredictable!!

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I’m so glad you have changed your mind about AS...I was all set out to hate her, but how can I when EC sees so much good in her?

I also agree that some of the late characters such as the patriotic historical figure in ep 22 was added to appease the discontent when the show first aired and KES was criticised for being pro Japanese

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I agree with you about a lot of this, although with Ae-shin I think the reasons go even deeper. She definitely wants to be her own woman, and to be constrained into being a "Lady" is to die. But at the boat she tells him that she dreamed of going with him and waking up with him every day.

One area where I didn't agree with you was when you said,, "Although she did try to use him and he didn't mind a bit, eh." The scene that really floored me was when she went to comfort Eugene, and she said she would pray for him and comfort him, and the next thing you know she has him in her sights to blow her head off. He wasn't happy about that. Also, when she came clean to him about what her real plan was regarding Japan, he told her, "I resent you so much right now." He is not ok with it. He was even mad at her for using him to get away from Hue-sung, which was really low on the scale of getting used by a girl.

I think that Eugene, though, has decided he wants to be with her, and even if this is a crap deal, he'll take it. It doesn't mean he's ok with it.

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Okay, I'll take that statement back. He did resent it. I thought he meant he resented not being trusted enough to be given the choice or be told ahead of time what was going on. I'll re-watch the scene.

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You can dream and imagine a fairy tale romance but still realize it's only a dream. "A dream is a wish your heart makes..." as the song goes. It's sad, they both know it's only a pipe dream.
It would be great if they could escape to Manchuria and be together as a Righteous Army team and couple. I mean, after all, there are descendants of the Righteous Army, so some of them must have had kids.
Or they could be like the man Eugene meets in N.Y. (oops, that's the next episode) who's a member of the Righteous Army. They could work outside of Joseon.
Or they might all die, who knows how the writer will end this!

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I know! It's killing me.

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I read through all the comments and I so agree with so much of what was said about the great things in this episode, but one thing I loved, which I didn't hear too much comment on, was the killing.

I loved Song Young, who was so badass in the rain, for being an old man. I didn't even count what he did against the Musin Society when rescuing Seung-moon.

When they rescued Seung-Moon, it got to the point where I rewound and paused before they took down the Musin, and started counting who killed whom. So-ah was fantastic, and Song Young and Mr. Curfew Man (who for this episode I renamed Mr. Disgruntled Bus Driver) were great in the room. Even Seung-moon got in some action. I counted at least seven dead before they even left the room. And here's where Ae-shin really shone.

Finally, Ae-shin got to do a real take-down for the cause. From the rooftop I counted at least ten dead from her rifle, maybe eleven. Finally, Here was the woman we first saw take down four Japanese in six seconds. I loved it. I think I counted 23 dead in the Musin Society rescue. I may have miscounted, in my enthusiasm.

Eugene was of course flawless. Only six shots to take down Takeshi. He stalked him silently and drove him to just the right spot, and then killed him with ruthless efficiency. Although I must say he did play a bit much with his food, I did like it that he remembered to put one in the head.

Eugene was also fantastic. I loved his thinking on the run while protecting Ae-shin. When he said there's only one bullet left, I was like, Eugene will you please reload your gun between missions!! But even there, he had the presence of mind to aim for a window in the Legation where no one would get hurt.

I loved it.

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I was totally engrossed in all the action scenes in the latest episodes and that has kept me wanting more. I have always loved this kind of features in a drama or film and to have a female character doing all those actions flawlessly is very very satisfying. Like watching the movie Salt, one of my favorite action flick. There is something I would like to comment further but to do so will cause a spoiler to ep 22. Will do it once the recap is out. I am disappointed in myself for not feeling the romance for this drama. Maybe I have lost the touch. It has been quite a while since I have a good time indulging in a romantic-centred drama. Maybe I watched too many actions/mystery/thriller stories... Even for Reply 1994 I was devoid of emotion to the main couple. Weird thing is I always feel for the unrequited loves. hmmm... when can I get those feelings back :(

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I was the opposite, in that I absolutely loved the romance between Eugene and Ae-shin, and the way it grew over time. Some of my favorite scenes in the story were when Ae-shin comforted Eugene when Joseph died, they way he told her he'd die without her, and the way he stood before her grandfather, straight-backed and unbending, both times. Even when he bowed to him, he did so out of respect, not obeisance.

But then Ae-shin did something that got me so angry, and it took me back to a hard-earned lesson I learned many years ago, that actions speak louder than words. Rethinking things from that perspective, and ignoring the pretty words and tears, lost me a lot of affection for Ae-shin, and put me pretty firmly in team Hina. Which is pretty silly when you think about it. Eugene / Hina could be pretty sweet, but it's shaping up to be Dong Mae / Hina, and Ae-shin / Eugene going into the finale.

My daughter and I were discussing my anti Ae-shin ness, because she loves this story too, and she finally stopped me and said, dad, you're remembering something that has nothing to do with this story.

I hate it when my kids are right. Damn this emotional baggage!

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May be the reason why I always turn to the second lead when the first bored me is probably that my past experience can relate to such unrequited feelings. Guess I have those emotional baggage affecting me as well! T_T

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TESTING

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I'm surprised no one mentioned Ae-shin's non-heavy-accented English line! I have never heard Kim Tae-ri speak English (like in interviews and such) and I was so thrilled to hear her say "My name is Aeshin Choi, I'm his wife" it was really fun for me! I am waiting with bated breath to see Kim Tae-ri cross over into Hollywood.

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