My Country: The New Age: Episode 14
Things may have calmed down after the revolt that changed the country, but our king-in-waiting still isn’t satisfied. He doesn’t trust his father or his brothers, and he still wants the throne for himself despite being third brother in line. Our star-crossed friends cant break free of a political battle they never wanted, and find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict yet again.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Bang-won learns from Tae-ryong that King Taejo sent his few remaining guards out of the palace, so Bang-won barges into his father’s bedroom to demand he recall the guards. King Taejo says they’re busy meting out punishment to those who recently commanded illegal private armies in Bang-won’s rebellion, denying Bang-won’s request.
Furious, Bang-won informs his father that he’ll be confined to his room from now on, but King Taejo just laughs that the more Bang-won persecutes him, the more the people will hate him. Kneeling, Bang-won counters that the entire country will forget that King Taejo ever existed, because, “Once off his throne, a king becomes merely an old man.”
After seeing Hee-jae injured at Ihwaru, Hwi takes her as far away from Ihwaru as possible. They stop in a cave in the forest, while Chi-do stays behind. When Hee-jae regains consciousness, she wants to go back to Ihwaru for her people who were caught in the attack, and Hwi has to physically restrain her to stop her from hurting herself worse.
Eventually they get moving on foot, heading for a village where they agreed to meet Chi-do. The palace guards catch up to them and Hwi tries to fight them off, but he’s soon overwhelmed. Just as the guard captain is about to kill him, a loud voice calls a halt — it’s Bang-won, who was brought by Chi-do. He and his men wade in and kill the remaining guards, and Chi-do gets the honor of finishing off the captain.
When it’s all over, Hwi tells Bang-won that he was leaving that life behind because the nation Bang-won dreams of is too grand for him, and the nation he dreams of is too humble for Bang-won. But now, he says he can’t watch the people he loves get hurt or killed, because those people are his nation.
He asks what Bang-won thinks, and Bang-won says he wishes for a nation that protects people like Hwi. At his answer, Hwi tells him, “I will make you king. If you abandon us afterward, I will come for your head.”
In the north, Sun-ho infiltrates the Jurchen band that King Taejo left behind after the battle at Liaodong. He kills their chief, but they don’t surrender like Sung-rok promised they would. He draws the sword that King Taejo gave him when he led the Jurchens and tells the them that he was abandoned by him like they were, and he promises to use Yi Seong-gye to kill Bang-won as he breaks the sword in two.
One Jurchen soldier comes forward to ask if Sun-ho will take them in after they get their revenge. Sun-ho says honestly that he can’t make that promise, and the soldier says that he would have killed Sun-ho if he’d answered yes, because it would have been a lie. The Jurchens lower their swords and thank Sun-ho for killing the cruel chief.
With that, Sun-ho finds himself leader of an army. He drinks alone in his new tent, and all he can think about is Hwi asking him to live. Sung-rok joins him and refuses the drink Sun-ho pours for him, and he asks how Sun-ho intends to fool King Taejo. Sun-ho says he’ll pretend to be loyal again, which will buy them time to use Bang-gan to corner Bang-won, then kill him.
Hee-jae’s wound is treated by a doctor, and Moon-bok oversees Gyeol’s recovery, determined to save the man who’s saved Hee-jae and Hwa-wol so many times. Hwa-wol worries that he’s gone too long without sleep so she gives him a kiss on the cheek to wake him up, and he pretends to be even sleepier just to get more kisses. So cute.
As soon as Hee-jae wakes, she asks about her people at Ihwaru. She grows upset when Hwi tells her that many died, and he holds her in his arms as she cries that she didn’t protect them like she was supposed to.
King Taejo appoints his second son, Bang-gwa, as the new crown prince. Bang-won murmurs that he hopes the new crown prince isn’t intimidated by King Taejo and does what’s best for the nation, and King Taejo warns Bang-gwa not to forget who killed their brothers. Bang-won counters that the bloodshed happened because of greed at the top, but the king retorts that you can’t rule a country with a sword, only destroy it.
Later, King Taejo sends a message to Bang-gan to quietly come to the palace. He asks Bang-gan why he helped Bang-won with his revolt, and Bang-gan claims that he was too scared of Bang-won to say no. The king knows his son better than that, so Bang-gan tells him the real reason — he’s just waiting for Bang-won and their father to fight this out.
The king tells Bang-gan that when Bang-won becomes king, he’ll make sure Bang-gan dies. Bang-gan doesn’t believe that Bang-won would kill a brother born of his beloved mother, but King Taejo says he could still be exiled. He reminds Bang-gan that Bang-gwa has no son, which makes Bang-gan next in line for the throne, and he advises Bang-gan to take action and not wait.
Hwa-wol takes Hee-jae back to Ihwaru, which is in a shambles after the attack. The survivors are still there, and despite Hee-jae telling them that they’re free and should leave, they insist on staying to help her restore Ihwaru.
Bang-won takes Hwi with him to confront King Taejo, bringing with them a phalanx of guards loyal to Bang-won to “protect” the king (IOW, make sure he doesn’t leave his quarters). King Taejo recognizes Hwi and says this wasn’t what he had in mind when he helped him years ago. Hwi explains that the state exam was rigged against him, then he was sent to Liaodong and was among the men that King Taejo abandoned there.
He asks King Taejo why they were abandoned, and King Taejo blames it on the bad winter weather and refuses to apologize. Hwi barks that that’s a lie and that he doesn’t expect an apology: “But I will make Prince Jeongan my king, and make you regret abandoning us.”
Two years later — 1400 A.D. Second Strife of Princes.
Bang-won’s older brother Bang-gwa is now King Jeongjong, and Bang-won urges him to choose a crown prince, but former King Taejo still controls the royal seal. Bang-won is furious that the sitting king is allowing the former king to control his actions, even when Bang-gan reminds him that King Taejo is also the founder of the nation, and the one who made them princes.
Bang-gan asks King Jeongjong who he has in mind as crown prince, pointing out that he’s before Bang-won in order of birth, rubbing it in that this is the way Bang-won wanted things. Firing an arrow into the wall, Bang-won asks Bang-gan if he still has that written promise that he won’t kill him.
Letting loose an evil giggle, Bang-gan sneers that it’s a cherished possession, and Bang-won tells him that he can only use it once. Bang-gan says he only needs it once because it means he has two lives to Bang-won’s one, but Bang-won just laughs and laughs.
King Taejo paces his rooms, trying to think of a way to stop Bang-won from gaining the throne, and he still holds the royal seal as his trump card. Over at Ihwaru, Hee-jae is determined to wait out King Taejo until he makes a move.
Cheonga still works for Bang-gan, who has him spying on Hwi. He reports that Hwi hasn’t picked up a sword in quite some time and asks why Bang-gan is so worried about him. Bang-gan reminds Cheonga that Hwi killed the palace guards outside Sajeong Gate and at Chwiwoldang, singlehandedly securing Bang-won’s revolt, which makes him Bang-gan’s main concern.
That evening, Hwi gets merrily drunk while entertaining the Minister of Personnel at a gibang on Bang-won’s behalf. Moon-bok sits outside, pretending to be studying a medical text, and he notices when Bang-gan casually wanders by and sees Hwi acting like a fool.
Later that night, Bang-gan stops Hwi on his way home. Hwi gives him a wobbly bow, and Bang-gan grumbles that he’s been tainted by money and power. He wonders if Hwi’s really drunk or just pretending, so he draws his sword and slices Hwi’s gat as a test. Hwi’s only reaction is to yelp indignantly, convincing Bang-gan that he’s not faking.
He asks Hwi if he knows where Sun-ho went after he disappeared two years ago. Hwi slurs that they’re no longer friends, and Bang-gan figures that makes sense after Hwi joined up with the man who killed Sun-ho’s father. He walks away disappointed, and as Hwi watches him go, his eyes are sharp and clear — I knew he was sober!
He removes his ruined gat and outer clothes to reveal his armor underneath. His sword is hidden under his chair, and he takes it and meets up with his friends. He tells them that the plan worked and Bang-gan no longer suspects him.
Back at home, Cheonga reports to Bang-gan on Bang-won this time, telling him that only Tae-ryong and Jae Beom closely guard Bang-won these days and his army doesn’t train much anymore, to the point that he thinks even he might be dismissed from Bang-won’s service. He tells Bang-gan of Bang-won’s plans to go hunting the day before their mother’s memorial day, and Bang-gan sees an opportunity to get rid of his rival, though he guesses it might be a trap.
As Cheonga leaves, Hwi catches him acting as a double agent. Cheonga snaps that Hwi is a spy, too, and they draw their swords to fight. Hwi quickly disarms Cheonga and informs him that his days as a double agent are over.
Sun-ho still commands the Jurchen soldiers, and he even dresses like them, though he still keeps Yeon’s embroidered ribbon on his sword hilt. He still seethes over Bang-won telling him that he’s only an illegitimate child unworthy even of being killed as a traitor. He decides it’s time to enact his revenge, and he marches his Jurchen army towards the capital.
Bang-won’s plan to go hunting is indeed a trap, and he sits down with Hwi and Hee-jae to plan an ambush for Bang-gan. Meanwhile, despite telling Bang-gan that he doesn’t care about what happened to Sun-ho, Hwi still has men out looking for his old friend, but with no luck. He visits Sun-ho’s old bedroom and notes how large it is, sighing, “He must have been so lonely.”
The Jurchens reach the capital, and Sun-ho leads them in an attack on the gibang where Bang-gan’s men are stationed. One man, who seems to be just a drunk, cowers in a corner and hides the black snake tattoo on his hand. Sun-ho spares one of Bang-gan’s men and sends him with a message that he wants to speak with the prince.
At the same time, Jae Beom and Moon-bok pick a fake fight near Bang-gan’s armory, drawing the guards away and allowing Chi-do to sneak in and check out Bang-gan’s weaponry. HAHA, their insults hit too close to home and they don’t stop fighting after Chi-do is finished, and Chi-do just rolls his eyes at the doofuses.
When they finally calm down, Chi-do makes them sit and make up. Moon-bok reluctantly apologizes for Bo-gum’s sake — awww, that’s what he and Hwa-wol have decided to name their baby! Hwi says it might be a girl so Chi-do suggests Bo-young, and Moon-bok decides he likes that name, too (wait, so .
he’s going to name his kid Park Bo-gum or Park Bo-young? LOL).
Bang-won drinks heavily as he practices his archery, which looks suspiciously like another ruse to get Bang-gan to let down his guard. Bang-gan mentions their father shooting off Bang-won’s topknot, and Bang-won asks him darkly if he plans to use his written promise today.
The brothers argue over who should hunt for game for their mother’s memorial feast, and Bang-gan says he’s thinking of bringing his soldiers with him. As he leaves, Bang-gan orders the weapons moved to the hunting field.
Sun-ho and his army show up while the weapons are being loaded, and they slaughter Bang-gan’s men and steal the arms. The messenger informs Bang-gan that the Jurchens’ leader wants to see him, so he shows up at the gibang.
He barely flinches when his guards are killed, leaving him to face Sun-ho alone and unarmed. Sun-ho says that he’s returned to kill Bang-won, and that joining with him is the only way Bang-gan will survive. Bang-gan decides he likes the sound of Bang-won dying while he lives.
But he says that Sun-ho underestimates him, and he draws his sword from Sung-rok’s grasp and attacks. Sun-ho is ready for him, and as they fight, he doesn’t notice that Yeon’s ribbon is sliced in two. They end up in a standoff, and they agree to work together.
Sun-ho says that Bang-won knows of Bang-gan’s plan to lure him to the hunting grounds, and that Bang-won is planning a counter-ambush. Bang-gan realizes that everything from Hwi’s drunken behavior to Bang-won’s intoxicated joviality at the shooting range were all part of their scheme. Sun-ho tells him to pretend to fall for the trick, and that he’ll defeat the ambush team and meet him there.
First Sun-ho wants to talk with the king, so Bang-gan sets up a secret meeting. Sun-ho dresses as a guard and retrieves a lotus from a palace pond for the former king, and Taejo recognizes him immediately. Sun-ho tells him to keep hold of the royal seal and stall for some time, promising to kill Bang-won and restore Taejo to the throne.
After thinking about it a while, Taejo decides that it’s not enough to just stall – he wants to take action. He tells his eunuch that he’s leaving the palace to collect his scattered soldiers and go after Bang-won himself, using Bang-gan as bait.
Now that he knows Sun-ho is involved and has an army, Hwi suggests to Bang-won that they move the ambush site, and Bang-won approves the change. Hwi talks with Hee-jae privately and asks her to stay out of the way, and he promises that he’ll be successful and protect her. She says that her priority is protecting Ihwaru, so he doesn’t need to worry.
Chi-do tells Hwi that the Jurchens are using the gibang as a base, but when they go there, everything is quiet. Inside, Hwi finds the forgotten half of Yeon’s ribbon, the half with Sun-ho’s name on it, confirming his worst fears. The man with the black snake tattoo recognizes Chi-do and runs, managing to lose Chi-do, though Chi-do knows who it was — and that he’s supposed to be dead.
The Jurchens have moved to the woods, and Sung-rok tells Sun-ho that Hwi visited the gibang looking for them. He asks Sun-ho if he’ll let Hwi live, but Sun-ho doesn’t answer.
Bang-won notices that Hwi seems preoccupied, and on the morning of the ambush, he tells Hwi that he’s willing to kill his own family today. He asks Hwi how far he’ll go, and Hwi says he’ll take this to the end.
On the way to the ambush site, Hwi finds Sun-ho standing alone in the middle of the road. Hwi approaches him, several different emotions in his eyes, but Sun-ho looks cold and determined. Sun-ho says calmly, “In my country, Bang-won doesn’t exist. And…” he draws his sword and runs it through Hwi’s belly, “… neither do you.”
These boys, I swear! They’re not going to have any insides left if they don’t stop running each other through. I know that Sun-ho is angry and bitter, but when all is said and done he betrayed Hwi first, so I hope he only injured Hwi to get him out of the way and save his life. Sun-ho has a death wish and I don’t think he cares whether he lives beyond getting his revenge, but I do believe he still cares for Hwi, and this wouldn’t be the first time Sun-ho has seemed to harm Hwi with the ultimate goal of saving him.
Is it strange that part of me is proud of Sun-ho for taking back some of his own and finding his place in the world now that he’s not held back by his father? Oddly, I’d rather see Sun-ho go dark and live for something than take his own life in despair, even if that something is wrong and goes against the kind, caring person he used to be. I’m still terrified for him, as he seems hell-bent on revenge or death, but I don’t want his friendship with Hwi to completely die after all they’ve been through. Hwi’s love for Sun-ho fairly shines in his eyes whenever they’re face-to-face, and I just don’t want Sun-ho to die without letting Hwi know that he feels the same way.
I’m pretty sure I can predict how things will end for Hwi and Sun-ho, and it’s not pretty. They’re finding themselves on opposite sides of the conflict yet again, and again, I don’t blame either of them for the choices they’ve made. Hwi naturally aligns with the leader who wants to make the country a better place for people like him, while Sun-ho would join up with whoever opposed Bang-won, because Bang-won now represents all of the unfair, unjust ideals that made Lord Nam treat Sun-ho like a lesser being for his whole life. Bang-won killed Sun-ho’s father and cheated him out of his revenge, then insulted him to his face and robbed him of a death he would have been proud to accept.
But it’s still painful to see Hwi so grateful that his friend is alive, only to have that friend impale him, and with such hatred on his face. We know who wins this battle of princes, which makes me fear that Sun-ho, on the wrong side of history, probably won’t survive. I just hope that Hwi isn’t forced to kill his oldest friend, and that before he dies, Sun-ho and Hwi forgive each other and repair at least a little of the damage they’ve done to each other. If Hwi has to suffer a devastating loss and go on alone yet again, I want him to at least be able to do it with some peace.
- Premiere Watch: Tale of Nokdu, Extraordinary You, My Country: The New Age
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- Yang Se-jong, Woo Do-hwan, Seolhyun prepare for a new world in character stills for JTBC sageuk My Country
- Woo Do-hwan, Seolhyun character teasers for Goryeo drama My Country
- Warrior Yang Se-jong to protect his loved ones in My Country
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- Woo Do-hwan to join Yang Se-jong in JTBC’s sageuk, My Country