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Haechi: Episodes 1-2

Jung Il-woo is back! I’ll be honest, he’s my primary reason for being excited about Haechi, but there are so many other reasons why this drama looks like it will be great. There’s a lot of history and politics to wade through, and so many characters that my head is swimming, but overall the plot isn’t so unwieldy that it can’t stop to have a little fun.

 
EPISODE 1: The lowly prince

It’s 1791, the final years of King Sukjong’s reign. Rumors are spreading that the crown prince is incapable of fathering a child. The Seoin party is in power, but they’re divided into the Norons and the Sorons, who each want to appoint a different prince as king. Only a few powerless people from the Namin party support the crown prince.

During this chaotic time, there exists a powerful judicial authority called Saheonbu. Their job is to investigate crimes and arrest criminals.

On a stormy night, the crown prince looks dejectedly over his half-clad concubines. Suddenly the royal physicians arrive and the crown prince’s eunuch checks under the crown prince’s robes, then shakes his head. The king arrives, and the eunuch reports to the court officials that the crown prince will never father an heir.

The old man, a Noron named MIN JIN-HEON (Lee Kyung-young), talks with a Saheonbu inspector, whom he knows is a successful man from a poor family. He tells him that because he’s from the Namin party, he’ll have a difficult time advancing in his career.

He notes that the inspector isn’t drinking his tea, aware that some inspectors are planning a night inspection. He says that Saheonbu officials are known as haechi – a legendary animal that looks like a lion with scales and a single horn, that can judge between good and evil. He asks if the inspector knows why haechi only exist in legends, and says that it’s because it’s impossible to judge good and evil in reality.

The inspector, HWI BYUNG-JOO (Han Sang-jin), goes to the place where the inspectors agreed to meet, though he looks shaken. They’re here, not for politics, but for justice and order. At dawn, they gather around a sign that reads: “Even the weakest arms become strong when they wield the sword of justice.”

On a boat to Hanyang, a man dresses early in the morning, preparing to disembark. His traveling companion, JO-HONG, declares that she’ll become a success in Hanyang despite being the daughter of a simple pottery merchant, and she asks the man if he’ll tell her who he is before the boat docks.

She guesses that he’s a rich merchant or the son of a great family, but he says he’s something much more useless. He gives her an address and tells her to hire some porters to take his belongings there, promising to join her soon. Jo-hong looks at the address and says incredulously that people will laugh at him if he’s seen with her, but he smirks that this is what’s expected of him.

After disembarking, the man we’ll come to know as YI GEUM (Jung Il-woo), test-rides a horses, surprised that the horse merchant (whom he seems to know) actually offered him a good animal. The merchant offers to give Yi Geum the horse in return for taking the civil service exam for a client.

Yi Geum quips that he only asked him to do it because he’s as good as dead already, but he agrees to do the job. The horse merchant advises him to avoid Gaedong, because the magistrate was inspected last night, and the streets are in turmoil.

The peasants in Gaedong are all atwitter with the news of Magistrate Kim’s inspection, and they gather to watch him scream insults at the inspectors. An amused gisaeng tells her maid that a night inspection is what the Saheonbu does to nobles to let the world know of their sins.

At the palace, the Chief Inspector of Saheonbu rants about the stupidity of inspecting Magistrate Kim, the leader of the Norons. Rumors say that there might be a new crown prince soon, and the Norons support Prince Mil-poong, whom he believes would be a more advantageous choice for the Saheonbu.

The inspectors are gathered together, where they find themselves on the receiving end of a stern lecture from their team leader. They’re informed that their job is to follow orders and catch petty criminals, not sneak around at night causing trouble with powerful nobles.

Byung-joo speaks up, saying that they tried to tell the team leader but he wouldn’t listen. The team leader accuses him of discriminating against the Noron leader because his preferred crown prince will be removed.

Another inspector, HAN JUNG-SEOK (Lee Pil-mo) tells the team leader not to make this a political issue, pointing out that Byung-joo is the only Namin among them. He says that Magistrate Kim pressured the Saheonbu to cover up a murder case that Jung-seok was investigating. He believes that it’s because Prince Mil-poong, the Noron candidate for crown prince, was involved, and adds that they did the night inspection because the team leader told him to let it go.

Jung-seok starts to storm out, but the team leader tells him to oversee the civil service exam. This is obviously insulting to Jung-seok’s abilities judging by his reaction, but the team leader bellows that he won’t tolerate his orders being ignored.

There appears to be quite a lot of cheating going on at the civil service exams, but Yi Geum is unconcerned about the danger. An annoyingly cheerful test-taker sits next to him and chatters that he looks terrible, even sniffing him to see if he stayed up drinking last night, ha.

When Yi Geum tells him to mind his own business, the test taker, PARK MOON-SOO (Kwon Yul) says sadly, “Ah, you’ve failed many times,” admitting that he’s failed the test ten times, ha. Yi Geum looks like he’d appreciate it if Moon-soo would kindly burst into flames.

When Moon-soo finishes his test, he takes a look around and notices Yi Geum’s paper, which says he’s Noh Tae-pyung, age 52. Oops. He calls out Yi Geum for substituting (taking the test for someone else), but Yi Geum pushes him down, shoves his test into the middle of the pile so the administrators can’t tell which one was substituted, and runs.

Moon-soo chases after him, and hee, Yi Geum actually stops to blow a kiss to his horse. Moon-soo eventually catches up to Yi Geum, but Yi Geum tells him to chill out because he peeked at Moon-soo’s test and he’s going to fail again anyway. Moon-soo lunges at Yi Geum, who neatly sidesteps and skips away again with a cheeky shrug.

Resuming the chase, Moon-soo gets his hands on a guard’s spear, which he throws at Yi Geum, nearly skewering him clean through the head. Suddenly they’re interrupted by a cry that PRINCE YOON-RYONG (Noh Young-hak) is passing by. Yi Geum accidentally looks up at the young prince and they lock eyes, but Yi Geum runs off again.

Still yelling about Yi Geum, Moon-soo finds Jang-dal and Ah-bong staring at him. They ask what’s going on and he stammers a confusing explanation, but they seem more alarmed by the fact that he took the civil service exam than that he saw someone cheating. Ha, apparently Moon-soo isn’t known for being very smart.

When Yi Geum finally runs out of breath, he’s joined by Prince Yoon-ryong, also called Yi Hwan, who says affectionately that he’s still a troublemaker. He calls Yi Geum by his title — Prince Yeoning.

At the palace, QUEEN INWON (Nam Ki-ae) and CROWN PRINCESS SEONUI (Song Ji-in) watch a sword-dancing performance led by Prince Mil-poong, otherwise known as YI TAN (Jung Moon-sung). The court praises the cocky young prince, but behind his back, Queen Inwon sighs and rolls her eyes.

She criticizes Yi Tan for making them all suffer in the weather, and he lashes out by mentioning the crown prince, who claims to be sick often lately and shouldn’t be leaving his place unoccupied. But Queen Inwon sneers back that she and the king are taking care of that place perfectly well, thank you.

Yi Hwan shows up in time to cut the tension, and Queen Inwon lights up, thrilled to see him. He says he brought a guest, and everyone is shocked to see the wayward Yi Geum walk in. He looks like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world.

Yi Tan threatens to kill one of the sword dancers for making a mistake during the performance. He screams, “I will be king, this will all be mine!” as he swings his sword, but Yi Geum’s calm voice stops him: “I see you still have a habit of committing violence. You’ll get in trouble one day.”

Yi Tan asks Yi Geum not to tell anyone what he just saw, and even calls him “hyung-nim.” He asks if Yi Geum is here to side with Prince Yoon-ryong, but Yi Geum says he doesn’t care what happens in the palace. Yi Tan chuckles that it’s not that he doesn’t care, but that he’s not qualified because of his lowlife mother.

He calls Yi Geum an embarrassment, and asks why he hangs out with Yi Hwan, the king’s legitimate son, when Yi Geum is just a neglected son. Yi Geum says that as long as they’re discussing royal blood, he doesn’t want Yi Tan calling him “hyung-nim” anymore, because he’s not even the king’s son.

Yi Tan retorts that he’s a direct heir of Prince Sohyun (son of King Injo, who lived a hundred and fifty years before their time), and that the throne rightfully belongs to him and his father. Yi Geum just laughs and tells him to stop whining.

He abruptly drops his smile and steps close to Yi Tan to say that he heard Magistrate Kim was inspected last night. He accuses Yi Tan of being the reason — he probably got himself in trouble, and the Norons needed to keep it quiet, hence the night inspection. He asks if Yi Tan killed someone, and the prince tells him to shut his mouth, guilt written all over his face.

Yi Geum says that Yi Tan doesn’t deserve to be king, and that Yoon-ryong is next in line anyway so he should save his energy. He tells Yi Tan not to be scared, because Yoon-ryong is a nice guy who will let him live. He turns away, and Yi Tan screams and levels his sword at Yi Geum’s neck, but Yi Geum just smirks for him to put the sword away before he hurts himself.

One of Yi Tan’s followers runs over, gasping that the king is about to make an announcement related to him.

EPISODE 2

KING SUKJONG (Kim Gap-soo) pardons Yi Tan’s great-grandmother, Prince Sohyun’s wife (who was killed for treason), and posthumously restores her status as crown princess. This gives Yi Tan a strong claim to the throne, and he drops to his knees in abject gratitude.

Queen Inwon asks if this means King Sukjong intends to remove Crown Prince Yoon-ryong and make Yi Tan the new crown prince. The king barks that it’s none of her business, but that they can’t just watch the country crumble.

The Noron ministers congratulate Yi Tan, Yi Hwan is advised to leave the palace and let the ministers handle this, and Yi Geum travels home to Jeongdong. When he arrives, he witnesses Lady Seo, his wife, verbally and physically abusing Jo-hong for daring to enter her house. Yi Geum stops Lady Seo’s tirade, saying that if she’s going to call anyone lowly it should be him. She snaps that at least he should play with gisaengs or concubines instead of lowlifes.

Jo-hong finally guesses that Yi Geum is a prince, and he asks her to be understanding of Lady Seo — was forced to marry him, which broke her heart. He says he’s only half a prince, and that his mother was a “lowlife,” and Jo-hong says she’s heard the story of how King Sukjong fell in love with a water maid, who aren’t allowed to become concubines (which would have made Yi Geum’s birth legitimate).

Jo-hong says that she’s heard that the prince who resulted from the affair isn’t welcome among nobles or commoners, because he’s neither. Yi Geum manages to smile and joke that he’s pretty famous, and Jo-hong says she’s glad he’s a bit of an outcast because he’ll always take care of her.

Moon-soo greets Jung-seok excitedly when he finally emerges from the palace. LOL, he’s so dorky. He’s fixated on catching Yi Geum, sure that he makes a career out of taking the exams for other people, especially after seeing him take off on his obviously expensive horse.

He’s filed a report with Saheonbu, and he argues that waiting until tomorrow to investigate will be too late, so he wants to go after Yi Geum himself right now. Jung-seok says that Moon-soo is very enthusiastic, but that he can’t go chasing people until after he passes the exams and becomes a Saheonbu inspector.

Jung-seok goes home to his wife, and Jang-dal, the third member of Jung-seok’s little trio along with Ah-bong, tells Moon-soo that the Saheonbu is already working on an important case. Moon-soo gets an idea — to find someone named Yeo-ji, who he knows will jump all over his case.

Yi Geum has taken himself to a gibang to get drunk, and he accidentally witnesses a gisaeng arguing with herself about whether her breasts are big enough “to get into that room.” She sees Yi Geum, who swears he was just drinking, not staring, then he stares some more when she wonders out loud where she can find some tangerines.

A few minutes later she’s carrying four tangerines (LOL, why four??) when she overhears a noble saying that Lord Min sent the gisaengs out of his room to discuss private matters.

Lord Min is discussing Magistrate Kim’s night inspection with him, and Magistrate Kim is worried that it’s a bad sign for Prince Mil-poong’s hopeful installation as crown prince. In particular, they’re concerned about Jung-seok, who considers Yi Tan a suspect in a murder he’s investigating.

The Saheonbu chief inspector is there too, and he says there’s only so much he can do to rein in the Saheonbu, but Lord Min isn’t concerned since there’s no evidence. He admits that Yi Tan is flawed, but he says those flaws will make him a king they can deal with.

The chief inspector says he doesn’t believe Yi Tan is guilty, but the situation does seem a bit strange. Lord Min tells him to appoint Byung-joo as the team leader on the case where Yi Tan is a suspect.

Yi Hwan meets Yi Geum at the gibang and informs him that the person who hired him to substitute the civil service test was none other than Yi Tan, though he doesn’t know who he was testing for. He’s scared that Yi Tan will find out that Yi Geum took the test and be angry, because people tend to die around Yi Tan at an alarming rate.

The coincidences surrounding the deaths are concerning. A man who managed Yi Tan’s land died right after alerting the Saheonbu of irregularities in Yi Tan’s accounting. Yi Tan’s bodyguard and his wife died, and the lead investigator in the case hanged himself. A young widow who was raped by Yi Tan was found dead after she learned she was pregnant. And the military official who tried to discover why these people all died, mysteriously fell off a cliff to his own death.

At the moment, Yi Tan finds himself recording yet another murder in his infamous “death ledger,” in which he writes down his victims’ names and reasons for killing them. He’s just killed Noh Tae-pyung, who asked him to hire someone to take his civil service exam in exchange for looking the other way regarding what Yi Tan did to his niece (the widow that Yi Tan raped), then changed his mind and demanded compensation.

Byung-joo runs into the woman from the gibang, who’s now dressed in the uniform she wears for her real job — she’s a damo (female inspector) named YEO-JI (Go Ara). She’s still wearing the wig from her gibang outfit, which she admits she just thought was pretty, and she offers him a tangerine and asks him not to tell anyone, hee.

Curious as to why Yi Tan would hire someone to take an exam for a nobleman, and what he might be planning next, Yi Geum decides to participate in a hunting contest that Yi Tan is hosting the next day. Jung-seok sends Yeo-ji to the hunting contest for much the same reason.

She tells him that she overheard a conversation last night that proved to her that even the Norons who support Yi Tan are aware of his dangerous proclivities. She’s as determined to stop Yi Tan from becoming king as Jung-seok, and to do that, she plans to steal his death ledger.

Moon-soo somehow convinces Ah-bong to give him the information he wants to investigate Yi Geum himself, and he puts Ah-bong in a headlock when he tries to refuse at the last second. Ah-bong quips that Moon-soo should use this passion to study harder and pass the exam, HAHA, but Moon-soo is too excited to listen.

Yi Tan’s sycophants praise him for organizing the biggest hunting contest ever, but Yi Geum calmly refuses to participate in their fawning. Yi Tan offers a golden toad statue (with his name engraved on it, naturally) to the hunter who brings back the biggest animal.

Moon-soo sneaks into the home of Noh Tae-pyung, the man that Yi Geum substituted for, but he’s confused by its shabbiness (Moon-soo: “Did he sell his wife??”). The home is empty, and Moon-soo assumes that Noh Tae-pyung got scared and ran, but he needs to catch him if he wants to find Yi Geum.

Yeo-ji makes her way surreptitiously through the hunting camp, trying to reach Yi Tan’s tent and hopefully his death ledger. She bumps into Yi Geum, and she freezes as she recognizes him from the gibang last night. Luckily he doesn’t recognize her and continues on his way.

Moon-soo sees a crowd hurrying towards a posted notice… it’s the results of the civil service exam. He nervously checks for his test score, but instead he sees the name Noh Tae-pyung with the top score.

Managing to sneak into Yi Tan’s tent, Yeo-ji rifles through his things looking for the death ledger. Yi Geum joins her and says coolly that the prince may be a fool, but he’s not that stupid. Yeo-ji has a locked box under her arm, and Yi Geum says he also wants to know what’s inside.

He offers her money to leave it behind, but Yeo-ji stops him mid-sentence with a well-placed knee to his manhood, ha. He slowly sinks to the floor, and she tells him to be thankful she went easy on him.

She leaves the tent with the box, but she finds herself facing Yi Tan and several of his followers. She takes off at a dead run, stopping to shove the box under another tent then leading her pursuers away. They catch up, and she fights several of them bare-handed, holding her own pretty well, but eventually they manage to catch her.

Yi Tan croons that he feels bad capturing such a pretty little boy, but Yi Geum, who’s recovered and caught up, tells him to let Yeo-ji go because she’s not a boy. He invites Yi Tan to fight him instead, making Yi Tan hiss angrily at his arrogant smirk.

 
COMMENTS

I really liked this premiere, although some of the political maneuverings are confusing — I’m only slightly familiar with the problems faced by the monarchy at this point in history. I’ll do my best to give a broad explanation of where we are right now, in King Sukjong’s final year as king: Yi Geum is Sukjong’s acknowledged son by a water maid, and while he’s intelligent and by all historical accounts a good person, his birth status leaves him out of the line of succession. Prince Yoon-ryong (Yi Hwan) is Sukjong’s legitimate son by a former wife – Queen Inwon is his stepmother – and Prince Mil-poong (Yi Tan) is a direct descendent of King Injo through his son Prince Sohyeon. Injo had disapproved of Sohyeon’s attempts to modernize Korea and after Sohyeon’s death, had his sons banished and his wife executed for treason.

Crown Prince Yoon-ryong has proven unable to father an heir (due to an injury accidentally caused by his own mother), and the Norons and Sorons are fighting over whether to install Prince Yoon-ryong or Prince Mil-poong (Yi Tan) as the new crown prince. King Sukjong has retroactively pardoned Yi Tan’s ancestor, Crown Prince Sohyeon’s wife, which has restored Yi Tan’s claim for the throne. This seems to indicate King Sukjong’s tacit support of Prince Mil-poong as a candidate for the throne, and all that stands in Yi Tan’s way now is the pesky Saheonbu, who believe he’s a serial murderer.

I feel like I always say this, but the thing that has me most excited about Haechi is the casting — it’s like they deliberately put all my favorite character actors in one show. Lee Pil-mo, Kwon Yul, Nam Ki-ae, Ahn Seung-kyun, Park Hoon… I could go on and on. I’m particularly gleeful about Kwon Yul’s character Moon-soo, who isn’t that bright but whom history tells us will become one of Yi Geum’s closest advisers. Kwon Yul portrays Moon-soo with this air of playfulness that I haven’t seen in him before, as every show I’ve seen him in, he’s either been serious and sad, or downright evil. Knowing Jung Il-woo’s tendency to give his characters a bit of snarky, deadpan humor (and Yi Geum looks to be no different), I can’t wait to see Yi Geum and Moon-soo get into all kinds of trouble together.

Which brings me to the elephant in the room… as a recapper, my opinion on Go Ara is a complicated one. She’s undeniably beautiful and can be quite charismatic, but her acting ability is… unstable? I’ve seen her in roles where she blew me away with her cheeky persona and ability to tug at my heartstrings (for example, Answer Me 1994), and I’ve seen her play characters that did her no justice whatsoever (giving you the side-eye, Hwarang). I really believe that she has potential given the right role, script, and director, and I believe that this show could be one that showcases her well. I think she’s at her best when allowed to play spunky, independent women who give as good as they get (and her gisaeng getup with the aggressive eyebrows and four tangerines made me laugh like a loon!). So I hope that her role in Haechi is one that plays to her strengths, and that we get to see more of the funny, kick-ass side of Go Ara, because when everything lines up just right, I think she’s a lot of fun to watch.

I’m happy to report that, despite the vast amount of political background I had to arm myself with just to begin to understand this first episode, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the show at all, and there were several places where I was laughing out loud and thinking to myself that the set of this show must be a fun place to work. Jung-Il-woo is one of my favorite k-drama actors (Flower Boy Ramyun Shop was my first drama ever, and I watched 49 Days next to see more of him, and by then I was good and hooked) and I’m so excited to finally get a chance to recap one of his shows. I can already tell that Yi Geum is going to be a great character that suits his strengths perfectly. Haechi takes place during a turbulent time in Korean history, and it’s a good five years before Yi Geum takes the throne, which means we have a lot more political scheming in store for us. But it can also be very funny, and the production value is quite high, so I think that we have a lot to look forward to as an audience.

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Yi Geum is King Sukjong's son not King Sejong.

(I'm guessing you know that but you got Sukjong and Sejong mixed up).

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LOL, I was so confused!

One is the 4th King, the other is the 19th King, and they lived something like 300 years apart.

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I blame the historians for using their royal titles (temple names) lol.

The unfortunate "gun" only have Gwanghaegun and Yeonsangun.
"jo" and "jong" made it kind of easy to mix them up.
"jo" - Taejo, Sejo, Sunjo etc
"jong" - Sejong, Munjong, Sukjong, Hyojong etc

If they all go by their birth name (clan name) then we'll get Yi this and Yi that.

Jeon-ah just kill me now....

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😂😂😂

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@kiara,

I'm BAAAACK!

*passes white bowl of brown liquid -- Joseon Americano*

Here, this might help your concentration. ;-)

I go bonkers with the temple names, too. But what really kills me is trying to keep tabs on two courts full of ministers with gats and beards. When I felt my head getting ready to explode, I gave up and benched myself until CROWNED CLOWN is over. ARRRG!

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YAY! I'm happy that you are finally here.
I am way behind but I will try to catch up soon.

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ARGH, defeated by autofill! I'll get it fixed, thanks for the heads-up!

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Thank you for all the sageuk recaps! It makes watching much more fun <3.

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Thank you for recapping this one @lollypip, and for providing context. :) I checked this out only for Jung Il Woo but I'm staying so far because I loved the opening episode. This is a proper sageuk, no messing about & I love these when they're done right. Looking forward to more episodes!

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Thanks for the recap. The political part was kind of confusing but I think I got the hang of it by the second episode. As much as I was excited for Jung Ill Woo who is still charming as ever. This was a great premiere episode with certain characters which pique my curiosity and a straight forward plot. I also love the subtle comedy with the main evil brother who seems like a scary killer but is a coward in front of Yi Geum. I really can’t wait for next week!

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I've so been missing sageuks like these. Well, they're no KBS1 sageuks, I know, but I mean having characters that are real historical figures. Liked the first week episodes way more than I was expecting. Hope this does well so we'll get a right proper sageuk revival this year!

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Yes finally, a traditional sageuk with real life historical figures and a few not so real like Go Ara's character.

I am really interested in Kwon Yul's character Park Moon-soo and how he is being portrayed here.
I've only seen Lee Won-jong's version in SECRET DOOR. The only interesting part of "Secret Door" was his relationship with Han Suk-kyu's King Yeongjo. Everything else was a disappointment.

I'm already sad to see the pitiful Prince Yoon-ryong but I'm happy to see Noh Young-hak in a sageuk again for the (13th time?).
I hope he'll stick around for at least halfway.

I'm surprised to see Queen Inhyeon 's brother Minister Min on the opposing side since Dong Yi and his sister were allies but maybe things will change later?

So much to talk about but I can't put my thoughts together lol.

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Yeah, the relationship between yeongjo and the noron faction seems to be a rather complicated one to me. It'll be interesting to see how they end things with Min and yeongjo in the drama.

I've never seen kwon yul in anything before this but I'm loving his character, haha. Looking forward to seeing his ~serious~ side. Also can't wait for dal moon(park hoon).

And yes to more noh young hak! (in my ideal world, haechi hits +20% and more directors/writers realize he exists)

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A pretty solid start. I just hope I don't drop this because sageuks are not my go-to genre of choice anymore. All the politics can get confusing and there are SO MANY CHARACTERS! But I'm really just happy that Jung Il-woo is back. I missed him!

Thanks for the recap!

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no romance please .. Jung Il woo and Go Ara would make a terrible couple

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Yawn.

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Well that top-less concubines scene was pretty disturbing. I felt bad for everybody involved. Crown Prince is humiliated beyond belief and has to let his things be touched by people. The concubines who probably went to palace expecting luxurious and respectable lives now have to mass- stand underdressed like girls in brothels.
OH MY.
What mother would do that to her own son...
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"Sukjong fell in love with a water maid, who aren’t allowed to become concubines (which would have made Yi Geum’s birth legitimate)."
Eh? Choi Suk-bin was later made a concubine of 1st (-bin) rank?

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Sukjong's love was the beautiful Jang Hui-bin before he demoted her from queen to concubine and later ordered her to take poison for her part in Queen Inhyeon's death.
There is very little information on Choi Suk-bin other then Sukjong was touched by her devotion to Inhyeon and made her his concubine.

The last concubine who became queen was Jang Hui-bin and thanks to her transgressions, Sukjong passed a law forbidding concubines from becoming queen.

The water maid Dong Yi ( later 1st rank concubine Choi Suk-bin) couldn't become a queen in order for Yi Geum to be a legitimate heir.
In order to fill the vacant queen's seat, Sukjong married the current queen Inwon.

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But she still was one of the highest-ranked concubines right? People had issues with Geum's mom's
former status as a maid, not her current status as a concubine, no?
That's why I wondered about the quote in bold, as to what's the meaning of saying maids can't become concubines, for Suk-bin proved exactly that they can. And the fact sons by concubines aren't respectable legitimates. Because if the Queen doesn't have a son, highest-ranked concubines' kids are chosen almost always. Plus they would then be adopted by the Queen.
It has happened before, and after, and I think it was just Yeonjo's bad luck that everybody chose to make a fuss over the actual non-issue during his reign.
I just had a double take over that sentence, that's all.

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Yes she was one of the highest concubines and even higher when Yi Geum became king.
Concubines were elevated to a higher rank when they gave birth to a son (iirc). Dong Yi gave birth to 2 sons but eldest died.

Dong Yi was originally from the musuri class and it was always an issue no matter how high she climbed the social rank.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musuri

The current queen Inwon adopted Yi Geum as her son and saved his life.

From our point of view Confucianism didn't really promote order but discrimination and sexism.
In their time it was the norm for children of a lowborn to be treated as such no matter how capable they are as leaders.

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According to my subtitles, he corrected the girls and told her that water maid can't become queen. And Crown Prince should be offspring of King and Queen unless their is no offspring of royal couple then King designate one of his other sons to the title.

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Ohh really? I didn't notice. Then the problem is solved! ;-)

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Jung Il-Woo is probably the first KDrama actor that I started following around (watching his dramas). I am so happy that he is back from military service and I am already enjoying the first few episodes of this show. It appears to be a solid Saguk with more than a touch of humor to offset the intrigue. Like the author, I am often worried when I see Go Ara because her acting is uneven. In the beginning of Hwarang she started off strong but ended up a constantly crying useless mess of a character and I am not sure if it was her or just terrible, terrible writing.

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Agreeing whole-heartedly on Go Ara. I almost didn't start this because she is the female lead, but who can resist Jung Il-Woo? And I'm so glad I didn't resist, this is really enjoyable. Fingers crossed that she doesn't go Hwarang on us.

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I've started watching this but I'm yet to know if I'll drop it. I like jung ll woo but this saeguk is all about politics. I can't learn all their names and back story. I didn't even finish reading the recaps

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I binged through the first two episodes and enjoyed it a lot. Honestly this is why I don't watch airing dramas so that I don't have to wait bc I'm so impatient for new episodes! I also looked at wiki to see the timeline of what happens so I'm interested to see how it'll play out

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Love all the characters. Ramyun shop was my first kdrama as well. So JIW is my bias. Kwon Yul i first saw in Angel's Revenge. He was so good. As for Go Ara. Aigoo! Between her and the stiff actress who was in Flower in Prison I am doing a lot of tolerating. Thanks for the recap.

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"I’m happy to report that, despite the vast amount of political background I had to arm myself with just to begin to understand this first episode, it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the show at all"

This is why we need recaps, thank you for your hard work!

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Yes, @lollypip, I've never felt more like I needed to know there was a recap waiting for me, to pat my head and say there, there as after this kickoff. Gosh, why can't Joseon royalty have just one name each, that would be a help?
Thanks so much for holding my hand as I try to get set up in this world!

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I have trouble keeping up with one name and now they give em two names each! But i've never heard the name Tan in a sageuk..keep thinking of Heirs when they call him

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@parkchuna,
Pray that we don't end up with the yangban all using their scholarly pen names, too. Have mercy! ;-)

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Thank you @lollypip for the recap. I held off a bit before starting HAECHI. I wanted to be in the right frame of mind to follow the characters and politics. I watched episodes 1 and 2 tonight and just read the recaps and I am glad I did.
@kiara I need a little coaching, please. I am having a basic problem with who's who among King Sukjong's sons and who succeeded him.
1. In history, did HAECHI's Crown Prince (played by Han Seung-hun I believe) (with the reproductive issue) succeed his father and become King Gyeongjong?
2. Is crazy Yi Tan historical or fictional?
Based on your comment above I googled Park Moon-soo and found this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bak_Mun-su
(I am really enjoying Kwon Yul in this role. He is having a ball.)
Thanks in advance for being patient with this sageuk rookie.

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The current crown prince in haechi is gyeongjong.
Yi tan is real, his craziness isn't.

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Thanks @sparks121for the help.

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@marcusnyc20 bong-soo
I got Sukjong's sons mixed up so here is the 3 princes in order of their birth.
1. Yi Yun, Crown Prince Hwiso later King Gyeongjong.
2. Yi Geum, Crown Prince Yeoning later King Yeongjo.
3. Yi Hwon, Prince Yeonryeong

#1. Yes.
#2. Like @sparks121 said Yi Tan was a real historical figure. @fanwho also have more details here and his claim to the throne. http://www.dramabeans.com/2019/02/open-thread-591/#comment-3409468

And yes that's the Park Moon-soo in this drama.

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Thanks @kiara for your responses. I went back and read @fanwho’s translation of the HAECHI press conference. Very interesting. Also read the info on Yi Tan and Musin revolt.
I wish I had JACKPOT under my belt but alas no. Mister X was commenting in 2016. I will try to scan the recaps and comments.

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Thank you @marcusnyc20 bong-soo for your contribution also!

That was the last sageuk with MrX. I think he was very sick at the time and I haven't read anything written by him ever since.

The link to this metacap seems to not work any more. He probably shut down his web page for good :(.

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See thread 18 below. ;-)

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Also check out Mr X's comments on JACKPOT's recaps. That show was based on the Musin rebellion and very much related to Prince Yeoning (Yi Geum) and Yi Tan.
http://www.dramabeans.com/2016/03/jackpot-episode-1/#comments

(Kind of sad that X is not around anymore. He was the history guru back in the days).

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Ok so like, anyone else get Moon Embraces the Sun vibes with JIW in that getup?? T-T

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Yes, I do. I just hope he doesn't get the point like he did in MOON EMBRACING THE SUN. :-(

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I love this ...usually i hate sageuk...but this sageuk drama story plot and casts really good

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Thanks for recapping, @lollypip!

After watching the first 5 episodes, I had to back off on HAECHI until after CROWNED CLOWN finished. My grey matter couldn't handle two sets of Joseon ministers simultaneously. Have mercy! So I'm late to the party, but playing catch-up now.

It's a treat to see Jung Il-woo again. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool fan of The Scheduler, and the upstart chaebol prince of ramen. Welcome back, Your Lowness.

I was tickled to discover Lee Pil-mo in the cast. He was memorable in a cameo as Park Do-kyung's young dad in OH HAE YOUNG AGAIN. In the same show, HAECHI's Queen Inwon (Nam Gi-ae) played Do-kyung's present-day harridan of a mother. Besides PINOCCHIO, the only other role I recall seeing him in was as the hateful-but-misunderstood second lead in HAPPY HOME -- the ironic name of the Chinese restaurant owned by his misguidedly-patriarchal father-in-law. It was a makjang rollercoaster with Seo Yi-sook playing his epically ferocious mother.

Manseh! for Kim Kap-soo as King Sukjong.

Like you, I've got mixed feelings about Go Ara. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that HAECHI proves to be a vehicle that suits her to a T, just as BLACK had been for co-star Song Seung Heon. Who says lightning cannot strike twice? I got a kick out of damo Yeo-ji's undercover scene at the gibang. The way she's holding the tangerines while thinking aloud about Joseon falsies -- within earshot of Lee Geum -- is an homage to Jayne Mansfield in THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT (1956). It's near the end of the clip.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw4arQHdN0k

I've got a bad case of whiplash over Jung Moon-sung as the Sado-esque royal serial killer, Lee Tan aka Prince Mil-poong. He was terrific as the warmly loving but illegitimate half-sibling to Lee Sang-yoon in ABOUT TIME's chaebol family from hell. I also liked him in his role as Yook Ryong, assistant to Namgoong Min, in THE UNDATEABLES. I've got to give him credit: he plays homicidally-deranged very well.

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Lol @pakalanapikake. I think only you could find a way to work in a reference to Jayne Mansfield in a sageuk recap. Well done!
( Ah, the days when milk was delivered to your door!)

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@marcusnyc20 bong-soo,
Glad you got a kick out of it. It's the first thing I thought of when I saw Yeo-ji holding the tangerines.

I, too, remember when milk was delivered to the milk box outside the kitchen door when I was a kid. ;-)

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@kiara, @marcusnyc20 bong-soo,

All is not lost! Thanks to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, you can still read Mr. X's Jackpot – Episode 1 Metacap 대박 (JACKPOT) here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20160409202608/http://www.dramatic-eye.com/k-drama/2016-dramas/jackpot/metacap-1/

Enjoy! ;-)

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I save it to a LibreOffice document file for ease of reading offline. Open-source LibreOffice can display hangul and hanja as well as Latin text. Spiffy.

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@pakalanapikake,
Thanks so much. I am really glad to see you here. Your insights will be greatly appreciated.

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You're most welcome, @marcusnyc20 bong-soo.

I'm still getting my feet on the ground. Thanks to you, @kiara, and @fanwho, I availed myself of all those juicy history references (above).

FWIW, one of CHUNO's subplots involves Crown Prince Sohyeon and his family, in particular his youngest and sole surviving son, who is exiled to Jejudo. Sohyeon Seja and his family had been hostages in Qing for years. In that time, he met Jesuit missionaries, and brought knowledge of Western science and technology back to Joseon, as well as Christian scriptures translated into Chinese. That went over like a lead balloon with his father, King Injo, as I recall.

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Thank you for saving it!

I really wish he was still around for CROWNED CROWN which I really have a mixed feeling about how politics is handled in it.
On the other hand he probably wouldn't have bothered with it.

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@kiara,

I didn't save it -- the Internet Archive did. I just tracked it down. ;-)

Thanks so much for mentioning this article by Mr. X. It's very informative. A good read. At the time DAEBAK / JACKPOT was airing, I passed on it because gambling is unappealing to me, and I was holding out for OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN. I got the impression from some of the discussions on DB that the drama ended up going south. -- I agree with Mr. X that Jang Geun-seok was an interesting casting choice owing to his past sageuk experience. He was memorable in the drama version of HWANG JIN-YI, and also in GREAT AMBITION / DAEMANG.

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I've been doing a bit of research on Joseon historical background for HAECHI (and retroactively for CROWNED CLOWN). You can find the entries with comments on my fan wall via the following permalinks:

1. Joseon Government Offices:

Samsa – “Three Offices”
Saheonbu (part of Samsa) – Office of Inspector General
Like their Ming and Qing Censorate counterparts, Sahoenbu officers were called “haechi.”
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735050/

2. Haechi - mythical beast, aka haetae 해태
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735249/

3. Joseon Court Titles & Forms of Address
(for royal family, consorts, concubines, court ladies, eunuchs)
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735067/

4. Talking Cupboard's Royal Titles and Styles in Joseon Dynasty
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735092/

5. Talking Cupboard's Sageuk Glossary
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735122/

6. Joseon Rank Badges:

Mandarin square
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735196/

Rank Badge with Pair of Cranes
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735201/

7. Royal symbols:
Joseon Heraldic Arms: Seal, Throne, Seat, Screen, Ceiling
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735204/
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735204/#acomment-735205

8. Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910, by Philadelphia Museum of Art
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/735204/

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