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Haechi: Episodes 27-28

Our prince is undergoing some very serious opposition recently, and he can’t even be sure who is on his side on any given day. Luckily, the hardships seem to be tempering his political prowess, and he’s getting the chance he wanted to prove that he would make a strong, capable king. All he has to do now is to avoid being executed for treason…

 
EPISODE 27: “Decisive battle”

While performing his repentance ritual, Yi Geum grows weak, and in the middle of the night he hears a voice and looks up to see Yi Hwan standing over him. The sight of his dead brother reminds him of how Yi Hwan would always fall when they sparred, saying that he falls because he knows Yi Geum will help him up again.

He’d promised that next time, he would be the one to help Yi Geum up. Now Yi Hwan’s memory holds Yi Geum’s hand and tells him not to give in to his cowardly enemies. Yi Geum reaches up a shaking hand to caress Yi Hwan’s face, crying for the brother he misses so much, and Yi Hwan fades away.

In the heat of day, Yi Tan comes to Yi Geum to tell him to hang in there, because he wants to be the one to bring him down. Yi Geum says that he’ll survive this, and kill Yi Tan himself.

The king approaches and throws a letter in front of Yi Geum. He says angrily that he tried to trust him, but Yi Geum plotted treason to steal his throne. Chief Justice Jo had told the king that twelve people were discovered plotting treason, and he’d requested a special judiciary agency to investigate.

Moon-soo sees Byung-joo with the SB guards, arresting the officials’ sons, the ones accused of treason. Byung-joo says they were heard plotting to kill the king and make Yi Geum the king, and orders Moon-soo to address him as Executive Inspector instead of by name.

Yi Geum is led to the Department of Justice, and King Kyungjong’s Eunuch Jo looks very worried for him. But Yi Geum tells him not to be, because he’ll prove how far he can go.

The instruments of torture are prepared for the young nobles accused of treason. Minister Min approaches Chief Justice Jo and asks why he’s suddenly abandoning Yi Geum. Chief Justice Jo says they have clear evidence, and that Minister Min is the one acting strange ever since the vicarious governing petition.

Minister Min admits that he wants to bring Yi Geum down, but that this isn’t how he prefers to do things. He says he senses something strange about the way things are going, and tells Chief Justice Jo to think this through.

Yi Hwan and the other SB inspectors eavesdrop as Byung-joo tells Minister Lee to recommend him as a judge, since he’s the one who brought in the treason suspects. Minister Lee says that he’s also convicted of corruption, and Byung-joo asks nastily what Minister Lee will do if he loses control of Yi Geum. He says he should do the job since he’s expendable, but he promises to catch the crown prince and find a way to survive.

Moon-soo wants to visit Yi Geum, but first Jae-dal shows him the documents they found in Byung-joo’s records about Jung-seok’s death. It turns out, the report they’d already seen was fabricated, and the actual autopsy report says that there was a laceration on the back of Jung-seok’s head.

Moon-soo recalls how Byung-joo insisted there was nothing suspicious about Jung-seok’s death. He realizes now that Byung-joo was covering something up, and Ah-bong asks if this means Byung-joo killed him. Moon-soo screams in angry frustration that Byung-joo is after the crown prince, and his sworn brother.

Byung-joo is appointed a judge, so he goes to interrogate Yi Geum. But Yi Geum is at the Crown Prince Palace resting on Minister Jo’s orders, who decided he’s in no condition to be interrogated so soon after the repentance ritual. Byung-joo snaps that Yi Geum is charged with treason, but Soron Minister Lee says that he’s only charge, not proof of guilt.

Byung-joo flourishes the treason report, and Soron Minister Lee asks where it says that the rebels were plotting with the crown prince to poison the king. He knows it doesn’t, and in addition, the rebels themselves say that they weren’t colluding with Yi Geum. He says that the future of the kingdom depends on them getting this right.

After seeing the vision of Yi Hwan, Yi Geum has a renewed determination to make sure that Yi Tan is punished for his murder. He’s still not well, but he dresses in his royal robes and tells Ja-dong that Yi Tan started this war, but that he will win, no matter what.

A frustrated Yi Tan tells Yoon-young that some of the Sorons are siding with Yi Geum. Yoon-young says that Dal-moon is here, and Yi Tan congratulates her for swaying Dal-moon to their side. Yi Tan asks Dal-moon if he’s changed sides because Yi Geum appears to be losing, but Dal-moon just asks what he wants.

Yi Tan tells Dal-moon that he showed up just when he needs him most. He says that he wants to turn the tables so that he has the upper hand, and he wants to see what Dal-moon is capable of. Yoon-young stops Dal-moon as he’s leaving to ask what he and Yi Tan talked about, but Dal-moon just says, “He asked me to do what I’m best at.”

He says softly that he still wants to save her, even though she abandoned him, and that he’ll do even better than Yi Tan expects. He tells his people to put up a bunch of posters, and when Geun-tae objects, Dal-moon barks at him not to ask questions and do as he’s told.

Moon-soo makes a plan, first to talk with the inspector who was on duty the night that Jung-seok died, then to meet the mortician who took care of his body. On the way, he, Ah-bong, and Jae-dal see the posters that Dal-moon distributed, which claim that Yi Geum is not King Sukjong’s son.

Jae-dal attacks the storyteller for saying that Yi Geum isn’t the king’s real brother and that it’s why he wants to steal the throne, and Ah-bong asks why he’s doing this when they’re supposed to be on Yi Geum’s side. The storyteller whines that he doesn’t want to do this, and that he doesn’t know what Dal-moon is thinking.

Moon-soo goes straight to Dal-moon and grabs him by the throat, demanding to know his reasons. Dal-moon says that he switched sides because Yi Geum lost his power, and when Moon-soo growls that Yi Geum trusted him, Dal-moon shakes his head and calls Yi Geum naïve.

Moon-soo screams and punches the wall next to Dal-moon’s face. He snarls that he won’t waste his anger on someone like Dal-moon, but that he can’t bring himself to hit him since they used to be friends. He lets Dal-moon go and says with profound disappointment to enjoy serving his new master.

Dal-moon calls some advice to Moon-soo, since they used to be friends — that he should talk to Yi Geum and try to find a way to survive this mess instead of just getting angry at posters. Ah-bong and Jae-dal have been taking down all the posters they can find, and they ask Moon-soo if Dal-moon truly betrayed them. He just says that they’re the only people Yi Geum can rely on.

Yi Tan learns that Moon-soo threw a fit when he saw the posters, and Ji-kwang says that Dal-moon is a traitor who switches sides easily. Yi Tan quips that he’s just a beast who looks human. He wonders if Yi Geum can remain strong now that people are being swayed against him, and onto the king’s side.

EPISODE 28

Byung-joo oversees the torture of the young nobles, who claim that they never called the king a criminal or planned to poison him. Even when poison is found in their leader’s room, they still swear that they didn’t plot anything, nor was Yi Geum behind them. Byung-joo orders them tortured until they say Yi Geum’s name.

Yi Geum watches the torture with difficulty, then turns away. Minister Min visits Minister Lee and Prime Minister Kim, who are in prison, and who beg him to believe that they were framed. Minister Min tells them that their charges are for their attempts to harm the king when he was crown prince.

Minister Lee admits guilt, but he says that they did it for the Norons. Prime Minister Kim pleads with Minister Min to forgive him, or at least his grandson, who’s one of the supposed rebels. Minister Lee also get on his knees on behalf of his son, swearing that they never tried to make Yi Geum king before his time.

Minister Min leaves them and goes to the special judiciary committee, where he’s surprised to see Yi Geum. Yi Geum says dryly that Minister Min seems to want to pull him down, so he came to answer the judges’ questions. But first, he asks to speak privately with Minister Min, which flies in the face of the advice given to him by Soron Minister Lee and Minister Jo.

He says he’s curious what Minister Min thinks of all this, and Minister Min chuckles that he’s very confident. Yi Geum says they’ve butted heads so often that he’s used to the fear, so he wants to face Minister Min and conquer that fear. He asks why Minister Min is distancing himself from the recent events when he’d normally be using them to strike against Yi Geum.

He asks if it’s because Minister Min knows Yi Tan is behind this. Minister Min tries to leave, but Yi Geum calls him back and suggests that they try cooperating, but Minister Min says that he can get rid of Yi Geum without having to do anything, so he has no reason to cooperate with him.

Yi Geum knows that Minister Min is worried about the future of the kingdom, so he doesn’t want to cause chaos by framing people for treason. He says that for now they have a common goal, and asks if Minister Min wants to watch uncontrollable Yi Tan take the throne, or follow Yi Geum now and push him out of his way later.

Back in the crown prince palace, Yi Geum tells Ja-dong that there’s a very low chance Minister Min will agree to his plans. They hear raised voices at the gate — it’s Moon-soo, demanding to see Yi Geum. Yi Geum tells Moon-soo that this is the worst time to be here, but Moon-soo says that it’s important, because they’re brothers.

He shows Yi Geum one of the posters that say he’s not King Sukjong’s son, but Yi Geum already knows about them, and that they’re Dal-moon’s doing. He says he knows how Moon-soo feels but he can’t bring himself to resent Dal-moon, because everyone has different problems to bear.

Moon-soo tells Yi Geum that Byung-joo fabricated Jung-seok’s death report, and he vows to stop him, whatever it takes. Yi Geum half-jokes that Moon-soo is bad at choosing which side to be on. Moon-soo says he’ll go burn the posters, but Yi Geum looks at them again, suddenly noticing that each poster has a different letter in the same spot in the message. Oh please, let this be a message from Dal-moon!

He’s sure that the different letters mean something, and Moon-soo recalls Dal-moon’s statement that he has nothing to do but “read the writings all over the city.” It is a message!

Dal-moon meets with Yi Tan and Ji-kwang, who complains about drinking with a beggar. Yi Tan offers Dal-moon a reward for his help, but Dal-moon says he didn’t do it for money. Yi Tan asks what he does want, sure he didn’t do it for nothing, and Dal-moon says there’s something he dearly wants. But Yi Tan gets a visitor so he tells Dal-moon to tell him when he returns.

The visitor is someone from Qing, who tells Yi Tan to be careful using the poison he gave him because there’s no antidote. Yi Tan asks Ji-kwang to translate, but all Ji-kwang tells him is that the poison is very strong. Dal-moon is eavesdropping on them, which Ji-kwang senses, so he sends his bodyguard back inside and suggests to Yi Tan that they take the conversation elsewhere.

As he follows Yi Tan from the shadows, a hand clamps down on Dal-moon’s shoulder — but whew, it’s just Geun-tae. He warns Dal-moon that Ji-kwang is onto him, and says that he knew that Dal-moon would never betray Yi Geum. He urges Dal-moon to leave before Ji-kwang’s bodyguard finds him, so Dal-moon is sitting innocently right where Yi Tan left him when Ji-kwang’s bodyguard bursts into the room.

Moon-soo has the rest of the posters collected, and just as he suspected, each one has different letters. It only takes Yi Geum a moment to figure out that they mean “Consort Suk of the Choi clan,” “truth,” and “secret” — that his mother had a secret, that he’s not the king’s true son. But if he rearranges them, the meaning changes to say, “Someone will defeat and destroy someone,” and “Prince Mil-poong.” Dal-moon is saying that he hasn’t betrayed Yi Geum, and that he’ll defeat Yi Tan.

Moon-soo and Ah-bong go to talk to the former guard who was on duty the night Jung-seok died. He says that Byung-joo inexplicably moved him to a lower position, and has refused to see him since. Moon-soo asks him who else was at the SB when Jung-seok died, already sure of the answer.

Hyuk finds the man who copied the posters, who says that he did it because a SB inspector told him to. Hyuk asks if that inspector was Byung-joo.

When the torture of the “rebels” fails to get results, Byung-joo decides that it’s time to question Yi Geum. The ministers argue over whether there’s enough proof to accuse Yi Geum of planning to poison the king, so they look to Minister Min for the final decision. He thinks about how Yi Geum seemed to understand him, then he says that Yi Geum should be questioned.

To show her support, Queen Inwon gives Yi Geum a gift of a pair of glasses before his questioning. She says it’s just a small gift, but Yi Geum is moved because they used to belong to his father. Queen Inwon says that they belong to King Sukjong’s son, and that she knows better than anyone that the rumors are a lie.

On his way to the special judiciary committee, Minister Min asks to speak to Yi Geum alone. Yi Geum says that he must have failed to persuade Minister Min, but Minister Min says politics is about revenge, not persuasion. Taken aback, Yi Geum has no response for that.

As Yi Geum stands before the king and the committee judges, Moon-soo runs to the palace, hoping he makes it in time. Geun-tae finds Dal-moon and tells him that he found “it.”

Minister Lee and Prime Minister Kim are brought before the judges as witnesses, though they come in yelling that they’re innocent. King Kyungjong asks Yi Geum if he has anything to say, promising to spare his life if he confesses. Yi Geum says that the king is generous, “But I never plotted treason or attempted any rebellion. I cannot confess a crime that does not exist, Your Majesty.”

King Kyungjong says that he has no other choice but to question Yi Geum himself. But Minister Min shocks everyone by interrupting, and asking if he may speak. He announces that he cannot support this questioning, because there are no charges against Yi Geum.

 
COMMENTS

Argh, what? I’m so confused! I guess Minister Min decided to cooperate with Yi Geum after all, but then why did he break the tie in favor of the questioning, and why did he tell Yi Geum that politics is about revenge? I know he has a reason, but I confess that I have a difficult time remembering all the political maneuverings that have happened. I fully believe from Minister Min’s initial support of Yi Tan (knowing he’s a repeat murderer) that Minister Min is not a guy we want running the government, but he does seem, as Yi Geum says, to care about the country, he and Yi Geum just disagree on how that should be done. I have no clue what Minister Min is planning now, but I’m thankful for the help to Yi Geum, however it comes.

People switch loyalties so fast in this drama, my head is swimming! Chief Justice Jo was all gung-ho about Yi Geum and even convinced Soron Minister Lee to support him, but now he’s listening to anonymous letters without proof and even when those involved say under horrendous torture that Yi Geum isn’t part of their group. Minister Min is now arguing on Yi Geum’s behalf, which just breaks my brain, though at least he’s honest that it’s not that he thinks Yi Geum would be a good king. Soron Minister Lee is now completely supportive of Yi Geum, after being against him for so long, but right now he and Minister Jo seem the most likely to stick with Yi Geum and help him through this.

Dal-moon is the worst, flip-flopping sides so quickly and easily that I can hardly keep track. I know he has good reasons (aside from Yoon-young, I mean) because he has a lot of people he’s responsible for and he almost has to align with whoever has the most power, because he’s got more than himself to think about. But I’m the most disappointed in him when it happens, because he truly seemed to be moved by Yi Geum and claimed that his wishy-washy days were over. He even threw his ID badge in with Moon-soo, which I thought was a declaration that he would no longer change loyalties and was trusting Yi Geum no matter what. But then we saw that Dal-moon is actually keeping loyal to Yi Geum, and I wanted to cheer. I was so worried that his lingering feelings for Yoon-young would influence him to help Yi Tan so that she could be queen, and that message restored by faith in him.

Yi Geum really showed his political genius in this episode, when he confronted Minister Min and suggested they temporarily work together. Yi Geum has a way of sizing up a situation and knowing exactly what motivates each player, and how to convince them to support him even if they were previously against him. And the truly amazing part is that he’s not being manipulative — when he offers an alliance, he truly intends that alliance to benefit both sides. His brilliance comes from his ability to figure out how to give everyone what they want in a fair and honest way, or if that isn’t possible, to give everyone an equal fighting chance to get what they want. I even think that he may be able to win over Minister Min for real before this is all over. He’s becoming the force that his father saw in him, that Yi Hwan knew he had inside all along… a king who will truly work for the betterment of his country without sacrificing people or integrity along the way.

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Oh, Dal-moon, I'm sorry for doubting you. I should have known that your loyalty to our crown prince wouldn't waver that easily. But the real surprise this eps came from Min Jin-heon and his super careful maneuver. Or more precisely, how Yi Geum decided to swayed him to work together knowing that Min Jin-heon is one of the people who would benefit from this recent issue. I'm just hoping that the reason Min Jin-heon presents to King Kyungjong isn't going to flame his suspicion and ire toward Yi Geum even more.

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Beware Rampant Speculation
Part 1 of 3

The biggest question I have at the end of this hour is: Who the heck is Dal-moon? For an alleged roughneck and opportunistic street thug, he is surprisingly well educated. He can read and write hanja as well as hangul, and not just basic characters. His use of slightly different characters in the posters denouncing Yi Geum as being unrelated to his royal father was so subtle that most readers did not notice them – but then again, most people probably did not look at more than one poster. (Burning question: Will one of Yi Tan’s minions be eagle-eyed enough to notice?)

How did Dal-moon come to be so well-educated? I cannot help but think that he is from a scholarly or yangban family. He certainly exhibits noblesse oblige with regard to “his people.” So what is his deal?

As I had hoped, Prince Yi Hwan is gone, but not forgotten. His ghostly presence comforts Yeoning Seja, who sees stars as he continues his grueling repentance ritual in the cold rain. He thinks back to sparring with his younger brother, and bucks up. Those were lovely, bittersweet scenes with Yi Hwan.

As I had suspected, the purges are beginning. According to history, the first claimed 12 Noron victims. So much for Ministers Lee and Kim following the late King Sukjong’s wish that Yi Geum be named Seja. No good deed goes unpunished.

Speaking of which, I’m still agog that Yi Tan has never been punished for returning from exile without permission. And corrupt Saheonbu Executive Investigator Wi has apparently been restored to office because of the uproar over the bogus petition that Yi Geum rule vicariously on the King’s behalf. Can anyone explain to me why this has been allowed to happen? Is there some kind of mass mental-short-circuit that happens in the Joseon court whenever royal skullduggery ensues? Or is it merely a plot hole that I’m supposed to overlook?

On the upside, Moon-soo and his Saheonbu buddies have found the real autopsy report on their late boss, Inspector Han Jung-seok. It’s freaking about time. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this smoking gun will be compelling enough evidence to convict the treacherous Wi Byung-joo once and for all. But with a patron like Yi Tan backing him, that could be a tall order.

Seeing Dal-moon show up at Yi Tan’s lair is a major disappointment. The dopey pretender to the throne has no idea how Yoon-young is playing him, even as he crows about her prowess at luring Dal-moon to his side. If he only knew that she regards him as a mere stepping-stone, he’d blow a gasket. He would really go berserk if he ever found out that his concubine canoodled for a decade with the very propaganda artiste he has been trying to woo. If I weren’t afraid that Yi Tan would vent his jealous rage on Dal-moon instead of his social-climbing “lover,” I’d settle in with a bowl of popcorn to watch it play out.

- Continued -

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Real autopsy report = Joseon USB

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@lordcobol,

LOL for Joseon USB. ;-)

I bet sutra-thumper Yi Tan has hidden his death ledger in a bunch of sacred texts. Maybe Yeo-ji has been searching for them offscreen?

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Beware Rampant Speculation
Part 2 of 3

I like the fact that Noron honcho Min is still mystified enough by the sudden appearance of the damning petition for vicarious rule by Yi Geum that he has a confab with his Soron counterpart as Chief Justice Jo organizes the special judiciary agency to investigate the purported rebels. Jo thinks Min is behind it. Now both realize that someone else is calling the shots and making an awful lot of political hay.

Later, when Executive Inspector-turned-judge Wi attempts to start “interrogating” [read “torturing”] Yi Geum, I love how Soron Vice Minister of Taxation Lee Gwang-jwa puts him in his place and reminds him that there is no evidence of Seja’s involvement, and that the alleged rebels all deny the charge as well. Wi is so used to getting his way by bullying suspects and subordinates alike that he’s left momentarily speechless. (He has been enjoying his sadistic torture interludes way too much.) Yay, Vice Minister Lee, for raising a red flag regarding the origin of the evidence. It seems that someone really is paying attention after all. (But how long will that continue?)

Dang, that scene in which Moon-soo confronts Dal-moon at Information Central is painful. But the info broker’s cold dismissal of his former friend seems to have been an act to throw off gibang owner Do Ji-kwang’s and Yi Tan’s spies. I finally spotted the guy in the tan homespun hanbok lurking on the other side of a window. Dal-moon must know there’s a mole, and is putting on a show for his benefit. It sure fools his own guys. Poor Geon-tae looks like a basket case as his boss goes into turncoat mode.

I cannot stand the thought that Dal-moon has become a Benedict Arnold. I breathed a sigh of relief when eagle-eyed Seja notices the substitution of individual hanja characters in each of the posters retrieved by Moon-soo & Co. from the public notice boards. I didn’t quite follow the interpretation of the cipher, but I’ll take their word for it that Dal-moon has sent an ingeniously-coded message identifying Mil-poong as the instigator of the plot.

Ji-kwang’s comment that Dal-moon looks like a common traitor prompts Yi Tan to reply, “Lowly gangsters are all pretty much the same. They are just beasts who look like human beings.” Speak for yourself, bucko. ROFLMAO at the look Ji-kwang gives him as he quietly says, “I am also one of those gangsters, you know.” You’ll have to take a number, Mr. Gibang Owner, when it comes time to fix your patron’s wagon for all the abuse he has dished out to so many real human beings. But by the time you get your turn, there may be nothing more remaining than a grease spot. ;-)

Goody for Dowager Queen Inwon! She gives Yi Geum his father’s spectacles, which not only is consolation that he is indeed his father’s son, but also timely, symbolic encouragement to clearly see what is going on at court.

- Continued -

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I won't quote your second to last paragraph above but you are right on the mark. I think Ji-kwang will be the one to take down Prince Yi Tan notwithstanding his royal blood.
It's o/t but those comments brought to mind something Judge Han Soo-ho said in (the famous for us) ep. 24 in YH: "Lowlives can recognize lowlives."

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Rampant Speculation Warning

@marcusnyc20 bong-soo,

Methinks Ji-kwang will have to arm-wrestle Yoon-young if he wants to take revenge on Yi Tan. However... He's a businessman, and was in the process of cutting his losses and leaving the country when he was apprehended.

I think Yoon-young is more likely to kill Mil-pung in utter frustration after all the effort she has expended to put him on the throne. But I wouldn't put it past her to go after Ji-kwang, too. Whereupon his swordswoman will swing into action, and mutually-assured destruction will ensue when Moon-dal steps up to protect his ex's sorry butt. Now I'm depressed.

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PS to @marcusnyc20 bong-soo,

I totally agree. It takes one to know one.

And that applies in spades to Lord Min. Sooner or later, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword." Not to mention, "What goes around, comes around."

Maybe Yeo-ji is digging up the dirt on Min even as we speak. I'm dying to find out what she's been up to while her actress has been recuperating.

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Beware Rampant Speculation
Part 3 of 3

I honestly do not know what to make of the end of the episode. Moon-soo races like the wind – to barge into the King’s interrogation session at the special judiciary agency, armed with air-tight evidence that Hangin’ Judge Wi covered up his murder of erstwhile friend Han Jung-seok? I wish! Geon-tae roars into Information Central hollering to Dal-moon that he’s found “it.” A smoking gun that will cut the legs out from under Yi Tan? From his mouth to the Drama Gods’ ears! Is it possible that one of them has gotten wind of the Chinese poison dealer who meets with Ji-kwang at the gibang? Wouldn’t that be just peachy?! Or maybe the “it” that Geon-tae found is Yi Tan’s death ledger. Dun dun dun.

Or – is it possible that one of them has unearthed evidence of Lord Min’s own criminal activities? Whatever happened to the “murder the master” movement? I’m convinced that it was a false-flag operation with Lord Min’s fingerprints all over it. One day, he’s going to have to pay the piper.

One thing that stands out for me in this hour is Lord Min’s statement to Yi Geum that politics is never-ending revenge. I wonder how he came to that political philosophy. It reminds me of the fear expressed earlier by various parties that Yi Geum would be out for bloody revenge after the hell he’d been put through, when nothing could have been further from the truth. Various ministers have stated their definitions of politics in earlier episodes. Yeoning Seja is the only one who thinks of politics as a means of caring for the people.

Speaking of revenge, I’m very nervous for Dal-moon’s continued survival. It truly feels as is he’s playing with fire when it comes to Yoon-young. Trying to save her life is only going to put him on a collision course with Yi Tan. I can’t help but sense that the law of unintended consequences is going to come into play, too. His devotion to what they once had makes me wonder what made him this way. I’ve suspected that he could be from a ruined yangban family himself, or might be a half-yangban who has no legitimate outlet for his intelligence or literacy.

-30-

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Thanks for all the good info and comments, but .. what is a yangban?

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An aristocrat, noble.

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Thanks @pakalanapikake. You are in top form!

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@marcusnyc20 bong-soo,

Aw, shucks. You're most welcome. ;-) And we still have the final third of the show to go.

I wised up and started making notes as I rewatched while awaiting @lollypip's dandy recaps.

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“Yi Geum has a way of sizing up a situation and knowing exactly what motivates each player, and how to convince them to support him even if they were previously against him. ”

It’s Game of Thrones - Sageuk Style!

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Thank you @lollypip for the recap. The first and last two pics are tough. Thanks for helping me understand the decoding of the posters.
You wrote:

Chief Justice Jo says they have clear evidence, and that Minister Min is the one acting strange ever since the vicarious governing petition.

My response is: no Minister Min is the only one with his head on straight at the moment.
Let me just say at this point in the drama that Jun Il-woo as Prince Yeoning and Lee Geung-young as Minister Min are giving wonderful performances. I love the scenes when they are together.

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@marcusnyc20 bong-soo,

I totally agree about the performances by Jung Il-woo and Lee Kyung-young. There is so much gravitas in their scenes, I half-expect a black hole to form. In a good way. ;-)

Han Seung-hyun has been doing a good, solid job as Seja's insecure kingly brother, and Nam Ki-ae has been excellent. (I loathed her character in OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN. She was great as Park Do-kyun's parasitic mom. I love her to bits as Junho's mysterious office manager in CONFESSION.)

You're right about Minister Min. He has his eye glued to the ball, and we'll soon find out what makes him tick. Think back to his early voice over, in which he says something about the loss of power being tantamount to death. At long last, we're getting some insight into what motives the movers and shakers. I can't wait to see Dal-moon's origin story.

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@pakalanapikake,
my first Nam Ki-ae drama was SUSPICIOUS PARTNER where she played Ji Chang-wook’s adopted and protective mother. Not bad. I enjoyed her performance but talk about product placement! Her character was a manager of a Papa John’s Pizza franchise. A number of scenes took place in the restaurant (a la Subway Sandwiches) and the gang was always munching on PJ’s pizza. The ppl never let up, lol.

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@marcusnyc20 bong-soo,

Now that's what I call PPL overkill. Ouch!

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I must say that the second half of this drama is more riveting, compelling and intense than the first. I love the dynamic between Min Jin Heon and Crown Prince Yeoning. They're admittedly adversaries, but they respect each other's capabilities. I like how in the last few episodes leading to this one, Min Jin Heon is starting to realize that Yeoning is slowly becoming the kind of leader that he can respect, if not like or agree with entirely.

I'm actually finding myself looking forward to these interactions between Yeoning and his "enemies" because it really shows how he's growing into that man who will become a formidable king. ^_^

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@ sumomo0476,
I've been enjoying watching the light bulbs switching on over the Norons' and Sorons' heads as they realize that there's more to Yeoning Seja than they realized. I love watching their wheels turn. -- And it only gets better in eps. 15-16.

I think that part of the intensity comes from the long-delayed backstories that are finally being revealed, especially this week. The endless cycle of political strife just keeps on spinning like a top. Gradually, however, Yi Geum is converting knee-jerk political rivals into the Loyal Opposition, and I love watching the process in action.

I've read that Yi Geum made a concerted effort to cultivate harmony at court. Show is giving us the background that prompted him to do that when he ascended the throne.

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