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Tale of Nokdu: Episodes 29-30

The palace becomes a battleground as two princes fight over the throne. One is determined to take the throne for himself while the other fights to protect it for the king. Just as it looks as if the throne will be saved, the king returns from the dead and must decide which of the princes is on his side. Will the king finally embrace his son or will he choose his disloyal nephew?

 
EPISODE 29: “Dong-joo & Nokdu Promise Forever”

As they leave for the palace, Master Hwang warns Nokdu that stopping Yul-moo means war. After reminding his student that in times like this spirit matters more than skill, Master Hwang steps away so that Nokdu and Dong-joo can have some time alone.

Nokdu takes Dong-joo’s hand as she bares her heart, “I just want to live a happy life with you…I do not want to live without you anymore.” After Nokdu pulls her close, Dong-joo sends him off with a small smile, “Go on. I will be waiting.”

At the palace, Nokdu escorts a palanquin onto the palace grounds where Yul-moo is waiting. Yul-moo praises Nokdu’s efforts and is surprised by his attack, narrowly escaping harm with help from Dan-ho.

Yul-moo’s men, including Hwang-tae, point their swords at Nokdu. After Nokdu offers everyone a chance to change sides, his supporters join him including the Minister of War and Master Hwang.

Yul-moo reveals that Nokdu was part of his scheme and slyly suggests that he wants the throne for himself. The queen yells out, “That is ridiculous,” as she enters the courtyard with Yoon-jo. The queen explains that Nokdu has no reason to conspire against King Gwanghae because he was killed in an accident.

The queen reminds everyone that as the king’s only son, Nokdu will take the throne. At the announcement, Nokdu looks up at the palace and remembers King Gwanghae telling him that his son was meant to be king.

Yul-moo glances at an archer and Nokdu notices when he points his sword at Hwang-tae’s neck. When Yul-moo questions Nokdu’s claim that he’s the king’s son, Yoon-jo steps forward and removes his hat, announcing, “I am the proof.”

Yoon-jo declares, “The king had ordered me to bury his own son…but he began to breathe again…Therefore, I raised the king’s son.” Yoon-jo’s testimony is deemed unacceptable when the ministers remind everyone that until recently, he was a prisoner of the king.

The queen produces the noriagae that she’s carried for 20 years and explains that she gave the other half to her son. Nokdu produces that piece and when it matches the queen’s half perfectly, Yoon-jo asks Yul-moo to accept their proof.

At Yeun-guen’s house, Dong-joo recalls what happened after the king fell into the river. She and Nokdu found a cave and after they built a fire, he stared into the flames as he thought about King Gwanghae’s regret that he didn’t live as a loving father who adored his son.

Dong-joo pulled Nokdu into a hug and apologized for leaving his side. Worried that he would seek revenge as she did, Dong-joo asked, “Do not do anything that will hurt you. I do not want you to live miserably as I did.” Yeun-geun’s return brings Dong-joo back to the present and she’s alarmed by his news that there’s trouble at the palace.

Yul-moo asks Yoon-jo why he lived in hiding instead of returning with the king’s son but it’s Nokdu who answers that the king wanted him dead. Master Hwang slips away as Yul-moo questions Nokdu’s suitability, only to be reminded that he’s lived as a playboy who often frequented a gisaeng house.

Nokdu astutely observes that the love of a king isn’t required for the eldest son to take the throne. Hoping to avoid bloodshed, Nokdu pledges to accept counsel from the ministers to insure a peaceful transfer of power.

After some guards move to Nokdu’s side, Yul-moo yells, “Attack!” As the fight for the throne gets underway, Nokdu guides the queen to safety while Yoon-jo scans the throng for Hwang-tae. When Yul-moo sees Master Hwang hustle Hwang-tae away from the fight, he sends Dan-ho after them.

After reaching an obscure section of the palace to wait out the fight, the queen looks down at her hand clasped in Nokdu’s. Tears spill from her eyes as she throws her arms around her son, “I am sorry…I can only imagine the things you must have gone through. It must have hurt you so much.” Nokdu cries and hugs the queen tightly, calling her, “Mother,” for the first time as the queen vows that she’ll never lose him again.

Dong-joo arrives at the palace and enters through an unsecured gate as Hwang-tae explains to Master Hwang that he needs to find his father. When Dan-ho jumps between them, Master Hwang fights as Hwang-tae runs back for Yoon-jo.

Reluctant to have Nokdu rejoin the fight, the queen explains that if King Gwanghae never returns, Nokdu must survive to become the next king. Nokdu reminds her that the throne has caused him nothing but suffering and after thinking of Dong-joo’s confession that she can’t live without him, he tells his mother, “I do not want the throne.”

The queen releases Nokdu’s hand and bravely tells him, “You may go. Instead, promise me that you will not get hurt.” On his way out Nokdu asks the queen’s attendant to take good care of his mother. When he’s gone, the queen clutches both pieces of her noriagae and weeps.

Determined to eliminate Nokdu himself, Yul-moo takes a bow from one of his soldiers. Meanwhile, the younger and stronger Dan-ho is winning against Master Hwang but he abandons the fight to chase after Hwang-tae.

Yoon-jo finds Hwang-tae unharmed and begs him to leave the palace with him. Hwang-tae jealously assumes that his father wants him out of the way to help Nokdu but Yoon-jo insists that he loves both of his sons.

Complaining that he’s tired of living in hiding, Hwang-tae reveals that he plans to restore the family name. When Yoon-jo warns that he’s not on the right path, Hwang-tae bitterly asks, “…what have we gained after choosing the right path?”

Announcing that he’s returning to Yul-moo, Yoon-jo guesses that Hwang-tae was promised a position at the palace. When Yoon-jo questions Yul-moo’s motivation, Hwang-tae admits that he’s bait for Nokdu, complaining, “…that fool cannot turn his back on me even if it means he might die.”

Yoon-jo sees a guard approach with a sword and he’s seriously injured when he protects Hwang-tae. After killing the guard, Hwang-tae kneels by Yoon-jo’s side and is urged to run away.

Hwang-tae hides his badly injured father and when he sees Dan-ho searching for him, he begs Yoon-jo to hang on until he returns. After taking a small knife from the dead guard and hiding it, Hwang-tae finds Dan-ho.

Dong-joo runs into the palace as the servants are running for the exits. Yul-moo sees Nokdu helping the injured Minister of War and aims his arrow, surprised when Dong-joo stands in front of him.

When he tries to avoid shooting her, Yul-moo’s arrow misses its target, instead grazing Nokdu in the arm. After sending his men after Nokdu, Yul-moo drags Dong-joo away.

EPISODE 30: “The King is Back”

Nokdu finds a safe place to rest with the injured Minister of War, who warns that they can’t hold out much longer.

At the same time, Dong-joo demands to know if Yul-moo plans to kill Nokdu and start a revolt. Confessing that’s exactly what he wants, Yul-moo acts as if his plot will accomplish what Dong-joo has longed for.

Dong-joo reminds Yul-moo that she’s never wanted anything from him and he demands, “Why not? I can give you everything.” Dong-joo admits, “You scare me, and I hate you…However, I feel sorry and pity you as well.”

Dong-joo begs Yul-moo to stop but his eyes fill with tears as he refuses “I will take the throne…your heart? I do not need it. No matter what, you must stay by my side.” After vowing to kill Nokdu so that he can never have Dong-joo, Yul-moo has her taken to safety.

Holding his bleeding side, Master Hwang searches for Hwang-tae and stumbles upon an unconscious Yoon-jo. Elsewhere, the Minister of War retreats with his men as Nokdu stops the palace guard commander with a spear.

When they reach the room where she’s to be detained, Yul-moo makes it clear that Nokdu will never know that Dong-joo saved his life. Yul-moo also warns Dong-joo that she’d never be happy with Nokdu after trying to kill his father, the man responsible for the slaughter of her family.

When Yul-moo returns to his men, he sees the body of the fallen commander and demands to know if his men were trembling in fear or fighting. After one of the men reports that Nokdu and his supporters retreated to the Hall of Convenience, Yul-moo decides to attack.

Yul-moo questions Hwang-tae about his escape and he denies that he ran away. Yul-moo orders Hwang-tae to stay close so that he can witness Nokdu’s death and then leads the way to the Hall of Convenience.

When Dong-joo overhears one of her guards announce that he needs a bathroom break, she readies her crossbow. The remaining guard hears something break and when he goes inside to investigate, he’s hit by an arrow.

After breaching the gate, Yul-moo and his men are surprised when it’s closed behind them. When Nokdu walks out to face Yul-moo, the women of the Muweol Corps make their presence known, especially the archers on the roof. After the Minister of War runs out with his men, Yul-moo finds himself surrounded.

In a flashback, we see that as Nokdu and the Minister of War discussed their dire situation, Ssook saved their lives with her arrows and asked, “Are we a little late Lady Kim?” In the present, Ssook faces Yul-moo and after nodding to her small army, she attacks and arrows begin to fly.

Dan-ho uses his sword to block the arrows aimed at Yul-moo and when he moves to hand to hand combat, he kills the Minister of War. Nearby, after one of Dong-joo’s arrows downs one of the men fighting Nokdu, he breaks away to pull her to safety. Yul-moo sees them together and sends Dan-ho after Nokdu.

Finding a safe spot, Nokdu confronts Dong-joo about her presence at the palace. She tells him, “I will go wherever, whether it may be a battlefield or a place that is burning down. I told you already. I can no longer live without you.”

After a long pause, Nokdu confesses, “I cannot live without you either.” While hugging Dong-joo, Nokdu sees Dan-ho and he moves her out of sight. Promising that he’ll be back, Nokdu kisses Dong-joo before leaving her.

When Nodku finds Dan-ho, their long-awaited rematch begins. Eventually, everyone stops fighting to watch them and when Nokdu has to pause to catch his breath, he notices a smile flicker across Dan-ho’s face. Dan-ho confesses, “Fighting you is as exciting as I thought it would be.”

When they resume fighting, Nokdu is hit in the back yet he manages to slice Dan-ho’s leg. When Yul-moo aims an arrow at Nokdu, Hwang-tae uses his hidden knife to stop him. After Yul-moo’s men point their swords at Hwang-tae, Ssook signals for the Corps to return to fighting.

Dan-ho yells out, “My lord! Be careful,” as Ssook attacks Yul-moo. Dan-ho leaps to Yul-moo’s side to fight off Ssook, stopping her sword mere inches from Yul-moo’s head.

Nokdu comes to Ssook’s aid and blocks Dan-ho’s sword, allowing her to plunge hers through Dan-ho. Yul-moo cradles Dan-ho as blood gushes from his mouth and tears fall from his eyes. Dan-ho manages to say, “I am sorry, my lord,” before closing his eyes for the last time.

Nokdu nods when Ssook asks to take revenge for Lady Cheon’s death but before she can attack Yul-moo, a shout is heard, “Stop what you are doing right now! Drop all your weapons.” Everyone turns as Officer Baek throws open the gate for the king’s soldiers.

The soldiers draw their swords as Officer Baek repeats his order to drop their weapons. When everyone is disarmed, King Gwanghae returns to face Nokdu. Watching from a distance, the Queen Dowager smiles.

In a flashback, the Queen Dowager was told about Nokdu’s existence from one of Yul-moo’s ministers. She warned the minister that they couldn’t allow Yul-moo to become king just as news was delivered that King Gwanghae had returned.

When King Gwanghae first arrived at the palace and saw all of the bodies in the courtyard, Officer Baek reported that the fight had moved to the Hall of Convenience. The Queen Dowager ran to the king to claim that she was forced to justify the revolt and was questioned about who approached her.

Looking from Nokdu to Yul-moo, King Gwanghae announces, “You were just about to achieve your goal. I must have interrupted you.” Taking out his sword, the king places it against Nokdu’s neck as a flashback reveals the Queen Dowager’s answer, “I have never seen him before. I thought it was absurd, but he said he was your son.”

King Gwanghae confesses that not only did he abandon Nokdu because of a prediction, he killed the shaman, her daughter and ordered the death of Yoon-jo. The king defends his choices, “Just as predicted, you coveted my throne and tried to steal it. And you declared that I was dead when I was not.”

Tears trickle down Nokdu’s face as the king dares Nokdu to deny that he started a revolt, guessing, “You must have despised me to death.” When Nokdu admits, “I hate you. I resent you to death,” Yul-moo claims, “I tried to stop him…But he stirred up the men with a hideous lie that you passed away.”

Hwang-tae tries to explain that it was Yul-moo who led the revolt and that Nokdu was trying to stop him but Yul-moo claims that the brothers conspired together. Convinced that Nokdu planned meticulously to get his revenge, Nokdu accuses the king, “You will not believe anything I say.”

Satisfied, the Queen Dowager orders, “Get rid of all the people who may cause trouble later. And make sure the rest stay silent.” When questioned about her decision, she explains, “No one will risk their life to tell the truth. For a son who was abandoned by his own father.”

Knowing that the king won’t believe anything he says about the revolt, Nokdu asks, “If I say that I was happy and scared at the same time without knowing how you felt about me…would you believe me?”

Nokdu acknowledges that the king will only believe that he tried to take his throne. When the king asks him if that’s what he did, Nokdu wonders, “Have I hurt you?”

Admitting to hiding his identity and plotting treason, Nokdu asks, “Did that hurt you?” When the king accuses him of looking down on him, Nokdu calls him a fool and demands to know, “Are you in pain…Just like how I felt when you abandoned me.”

Wounded, bloodied, and exhausted, Nokdu tells King Gwanghae what he wants to hear, “Yes. I wanted to drag you down from your throne myself. I decided that I was going to kill you myself.” Nokdu’s words cause King Gwanghae to grab at his chest and Yul-moo runs to his side as the king orders, “Arrest him immediately.”

The Muweol Corps picks up their swords to defend Nokdu and when two soldiers are hit with arrows, they turn and see Dong-joo. With calls to protect the king, Yul-moo escorts him away as Ssook promises to buy Hwang-tae some time. Hwang-tae whisks Nokdu away with Dong-joo’s help as the Muweol Corps faces the king’s soldiers.

 
COMMENTS

What an intense, thrilling and, for me, disappointing hour as we watched Nokdu fight for the king only to be betrayed in the most heart wrenching way possible. The last fifteen minutes were torturous as Nokdu fell victim to another of King Gwanghae’s enemies, the Queen Dowager, who decided to use the king’s son to get revenge for her own dead son.

Tale of Nokdu has turned out to be a tragedy of epic proportions as the world has turned against our hero. King Gwanghae is a mashup of Macbeth and King Lear, his jealous obsession with the throne will lead to his undoing and he doesn’t recognize genuine love when he sees it. Nokdu is right, King Gwanghae is a fool and Dong-joo’s dismissal of him as less than human couldn’t be truer.

I had hoped for more for Nokdu, who may be one of my favorite characters of all time, not just in Kdramaland. Master Hwang’s reminder that spirit matters more than skill explains why he’s so special. Nokdu has the qualities that make him inspirational — he’s not only intelligent, he’s quick witted, kind, courageous and respectful. Nokdu isn’t perfect, after all he temporarily gave in to the temptation to exact his revenge on the king. But it’s Nokdu’s inner struggles that make him human and his ultimate triumph over them that makes him great.

It’s his indomitable spirit that carries Nokdu to the side of the father that he never knew, hoping that one day he’ll value his son more than the throne. Sadly, the king makes it clear to everyone that he’ll see his son dead rather than risk the throne. And that’s where Tale of Nokdu lost me. No matter how satisfying the finale may be, and I’m hoping it is, Nokdu is meant to carry a gargantuan sorrow in his heart for the rest of his days and he deserves better. His reality echoes Hwang-tae’s question to his father, “…what have we gained after choosing the right path?”

For Nokdu, hopefully he’ll manage to put his father’s abandonment behind him to live happily with Dong-joo, who totally came through with her crossbow, saving her man not once, but twice. She’s the one person in the world who understands what the king has cost Nokdu. After taking Yoon-jo’s advice to heart, Dong-joo is ready to live her life and share her love with Nokdu, and in time, hopefully she can help him heal enough to do the same. But for them to be happy, they need to know that their friends and loved ones are safe. Between the king and Yul-moo, is that even possible?

After the Queen Dowager’s order to erase Nokdu’s heroism from everyone’s lips, she intends for his story to die. But this is called Tale of Nokdu for a reason, because Nokdu’s story is the kind that lives on when witnesses get nostalgic, especially when the country is doomed to face hard times during Yul-moo’s reign. It’s impossible to forget the kind of spirit that Nokdu demonstrated as he fought to defeat Yul-moo and save the throne for his father. Those shining eyes, the warm heart, his undying love for Dong-joo and the unceasing hope that his father would choose Nokdu just once aren’t easily forgotten. With the finale upon us, my hope is that our good prince finds some peace and happiness somewhere in the world.

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I'm hoping they get to go to Jeju and live happily.
This drama has restored my faith in kdramas. It's been a long time.
Nothing else to say, your review and esp comments said all I feel, so thanks.

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The whole drama has been written strongly and realistically since the start. Nokdu choosing to side with his father despite him wanting him dead at all costs was his last act of filial love. If he hadn't done it would have had regrets but worse he might have turned into an insecure man like him. All heroes must carry a wound in their hearts that makes them stronger. Luckily for Nokdu there is Dongju who has embraced him entirely and they both found solace in each other from the lifelong wounds that his father gave them. By saving him they have given another chance to redeem himself in doing so they and became the bigger people and avoided going down the same miserable path as him. The drama has been beautifully crafted.

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I'm not sure if he did it out of filial love. While Nokdu is hurt, he is a very principled guy. While Gwanghae is obsessed with the throne- so much so that he would kill his own son and anyone who opposed his rule, other than that obsession, he would be a fairer ruler than crazy-eyed snake, Neungyang. The king did sort of take Nokdu's advice in the first episode and there were a lot of good qualities. In history, he is considered one of the better kings. Also a coup won by Neungyang would put his mother in danger.

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I agree it wasn't out of filial love. He always knew that Neungyang was just as bad and once the King was dead their plan was dead too. At that point it made sense to turn on Neungyang and make sure he didn't get the throne either. I do wish they'd spent some time on those decisions though since Nokdu supporting Neungyang and then turning on him were played for dramatic effect and it meant we lost some insight into them.

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I use the words filial love because even when he hated him for wanting to kill him he never actually wanted to harm him irreovacably. It would be very ND like to want to save his father who wants to kill him just like he refused to give up on his brother who kept going back to YM. Neither would have been a better ruler I think ND wanted to believe his father could be softened or saved from his own madness by an unselfish act of kindness.

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I agree with this assessment, though I think, in the depths of his anger, Nokdu did want to kill the king when he (as officer Yeon) was hit with the king's direct orders to kill his son.....and the reasoning that it was for the throne. Though it would've been an act of emotion, rather than a plan thought out in cold blood for years like Dong-joo (very like their respective personalities).

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That was really well said @teriyaki, I couldn't agree more.
Nokdu is such a special character and is definitely one of my favourites in dramaland.
Dong Joo continues to be badass in this episode and I love that she is not only saving him from getting killed but also giving him emotional support as well during these tough times, just as he did before when she needed it.
Finally Nokdu and the Queen are reunited! It was a profound moment when he called her 'mother' for the first time in years.
And yay! The muweol corps are back! I would have been really disappointed if they were not included in the fight against Yul moo.I also got emotional when Ssook called Nokdu 'Lady Kim'.

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Nokdu will always be Lady Kim to Ssook and this is so cute. I miss Lady Kim a lot too!

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I want a comeback of Lady Kim in the final episode, even if for a few minutes.

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yes. Lady Kim is the most beautiful of all the ladies in this drama. YG sure has good taste.

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I hope we get one as a last fanservice lol, Nokdu seems to like wearing women's clothes given that he disguises himself as Widow Kim even after the village burned down.

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It was interesting to see Yul moo being so affected by Dan ho's death, since he never really cared about anyone but Dong Joo. I guess he had some emotions towards Dan ho seeing how he used to personally feed him. It makes me curious about how and why Dan ho became so loyal to such an awful person.

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Yul-moo being affected by Dan-ho's death felt false to me and took me out of the episode. I guess it's because there was never any explanation about why Dan-ho was so loyal. And I don't think Yul-moo ever expressed any sort of worry or concern whenever he dispatched Dan-ho to do his dirty work. It would have made more sense of Yul-moo was like "ugh, Dan-ho, what a failure!"

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*cough*
BL version of this script
*cough*

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Dong Joo, the Queen, Ssook and the Muweol Corps, so many awesome and badass females. I love this episode.
Loved the Queen and Nokdu's reunion, Dong Joo saving Nokdu. I knew Hwang Tae was going to come around in the end. Nokdu didn't even want the throne but the King is too blind to the fact that Nokdu only wanted to be loved by his father, it is so heartbreaking too see him realize that his father only cares about the throne.
Can't wait to find out what happens in the next episode. Nokdu and Dong Joo deserve a happy ending.

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I love the power of the women in this show. And how Nokdu accepts it as the normal course. There hasn't been a moment where he wasn't impressed by the women around him, even if they annoyed him.

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I'm pretty sure I'll suffer from drama withdrawal syndrome after Tale of Nokdu ends, which is rare in my case. I'm already feeling the effects at the thought that it's going to end soon😩😭. All the BTS of this show are keeping me afloat for now.

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I love this drama so much. I enjoyed the light first half and it transitioned well into the serious plot. I am excited to see how this story will wrap-up.

We have really good actors here. Our leads may be young but they are so good! And I love all the badass women in the story.

My heart really hurts so much for Nokdu. It seems like he has developed some love for the king despite knowing how much the king wanted him dead. I don't think there's a way for the king to redeem himself (I don't think the writer would give him that) but I really want Nokdu to have his father and mother. Argh. I know we can't have all the good things in kdrama land.

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Time flies, i can’t believe tomorrow the last episode will air. I’ve enjoyed the first half of lighthearted comedy, and loved the last half of angst, political twists and tragedy.

This episode is one of my favorites, though it breaks my heart. The scene in the end is just sad and beautifully written; you could just see the anguish in Nokdu’s face. And Dong Joo is really stepping up her game when he needs her the most, it’s amazing to see this bickering couple growing into two mature people who have gone through so much together.

The fighting scenes are so well done, and i get goosebumps over and over again as I watch. What a treat! Am confident tomorrow’s finale will deliver - fingers crossed!

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What an excellent review @TeriYaki that was expressed so well. Thank you.

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I'm going to miss this show and its characters so much. Nokdu is definitely going down as one of my favorite Male leads and to me this is the break out performance of the year.
(Sorry my Untamed Beanies)

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I love both equally...

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I still love the Untamed too.

Nokdu just feels like when the right actor meets the right role. I dont think he has made a false step yet, he is Nokdu. It's like how IU was Ji an or Lee Seung gi was the Monkey King.

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Right actor, right role...

Yes, whoever cast NokDu made an inspired choice!

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And @hebang: Not just Nokdu, but I loved the whole cast, even the baddies. They all played their roles spectacularly. Must also be the Director doing a splendid job. And the musical score! Perfect for each scene.
And the women, and even the actors in minor roles that I've seen a million times in other dramas. It all came together and these days that's so rare.

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Jang Dong Yoon has been a revelation to me- I agree that he turned out a break out performance. I didn't know him before, but I will definitely be looking out for his future works.

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Future is right, because this is the first role he's done as a mature character.

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He's been wonderful ever since his days of high school roles, but yes, I am ready to see him play leading characters close to his own age! It's like...can we ascend to that next level now?

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OK this drama has one of the BEST male characters ever, that is Nokdu, of course, and at the same time the WORST of worst male character, father, husband, colleague, king, EVER, which is sadly Nokdu's biological father. It's too late to hope for any change in the last episode for a redemption moment for the king. Why? Because the damage is done. The mother and son were separated for Nokdu's entire life, his hurt finding out his father wanting him dead, and his mother's aches for many years thinking he is dead and missing her husband and child at the same time, not to mention the many people the king killed, including Dong Joo's family. Oh mine he can only go down hill from here.

But I was really surprised to have Nokdu as one of the best male characters ever written in Korean drama. Not a spoiled chaebol (though he would be indeed the chaebol of his time) with character flaws but always get the girl over the sweet caring sensitive guy. Nokdu is indeed mature, caring, understanding, protective but not possessive/controlling, and always respects his girlfriend's will and wishes and put her first (girls, take note on this one). And Dong Joo is indeed very wise in her decision of choosing the right person. And thank goodness, we won't have a second lead syndrome in this drama with someone like YM.

So yes the only thing I hope for for the ending is a happy end for all the characters who love and care about who indeed deserve a happy ending. I hope this drama won't disappoint.

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Second lead syndrome which i hate... Except reply 1994...

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And re Neungyang, Dong Joo's just "actually you're terrifying and I hate you, sorry", which would be most women's response to him.

Nokdu might be the second perfect man after See-hee.

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yeah I'd say making the second lead a selfish, possessive, if-I-can't-have-you-no-one-can murderer is a pretty good way to ensure no one gets second lead syndrome!

(Though honestly there was no danger of it, not even when we thought he was good)

And I love that Dong-joo flat-out tells him she hates him and finds him scary, but also pitiable. His one humanising point is that he cares about her physical safety, so having it straight from her is the verbal slap he deserved.

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Nokdu's chemistry with His mother surprisingly good, given they share little screen time. My heart warm and flutter so much in that scene. Good acting and chemistry by the actor. I can see might be the queen will be ready to sacrifice something for his son?

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I agree! I think the writer also did a good job writing the queen. She mourned, but she was not bitter. And there is the matter of her having worn the broken accessory in memory of her son and publicly. Nokdu's memory was never buried away. It must prick the King's guilty conscience every time he saw her.

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I don't understand why the Queen Dowager would try to get revenge on the king instead of Yul Moo. Isn't he the one who had the Queen Dowager's son killed? Or is she under the mistaken impression that the king killed her son?

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I guess no one told her that Yul moo had her son killed, since the only people who knew about it besides Heo Yun were the ministers who joined forces with Yul moo to make him the next King.

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Some of the muweol corps were also eye witnesses to the murder, but I doubt they would have any reason or even allowed to inform the Queen Dowager about it.

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One common theme in kdramas is people believing things with neither evidence nor proof. Especially statements from their sworn enemies.

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Gee, only in kdramas? I find that to be quite realistic "believing things with neither evidence nor proof."
The Untamed did an especially good job with that concept. It was one of the main themes.

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Perhaps my drama critic sensibilities are only now waking up? It seems so...

The only c-dramas I’ve seen so fare are the original Scarlet Heart and Nirvana in Fire.

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Those c-dramas were awhile ago! Long before I was interested in c-dramas. I got tired of k-dramas and found a couple c-dramas I really liked so I've been watching those this past year. No kdramas at all except Radiant.
Then Nokdu happened. Now I'm tired of c-dramas (it's Untamed's fault for being so much better than anything else - it has so much heart, nothing else compares).
Tale of Nokdu has re-ignited my love for k-dramas done well, so I'm re-watching Just Between Lovers.

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Yeah I feel bad for her, she doesn't know that's her child's murderer she's supporting.

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Hard to guess how this one might end, especially because I'm not 100% sure they'll stay close to history. Lots of happy-ever-aftering? Or does everyone die tragically in everybody else's arms?

My best guess is that the king redeems himself by helping Nokdu & Dong-joo escape (??)

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@Lord Cobol because of some forewarnings I fear that they are going to go with history, particularly things that Nok-du and Dong-Jo have said to each other in recent episodes as well as what Yul-moo has said. I'm curious to know how much of Nok-du's island family and friends are still living and how many of the female assassins will make it through. The more of those that survive, the more hope I will see in a creative versus a historical ending. If all have them have died, things will be more bleak. I'm trusting the little girl is with one of the widows and will be perfectly safe there no matter what happens. Regardless, I need to get some of tomorrow's work done today, so I can watch the episode as soon as it comes out.

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If it's going with history, it's an alternate universe.

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Right. I mean, according to a brief google search, King Gwanghaegun and Queen Yu had one son, Yi Ji, and the King had a daughter by a royal consort. I don't see anything to support that the King tried to kill Yi Ji, or that Yi Ji lived his life as anything but the Crown Prince, raised in the palace, and never estranged from his parents. He is deposed along with his father and mother, and he and his wife commit suicide, after a failed attempt to escape from their place of exile.

So my understanding is that this is all an alternate universe, with the Nokdu being a highly fictionalized character substituted in for the historical Yi Ji. So, a good ending is possible, and that is definitely what I'm looking for.

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SPOILERS DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED EPISODE 31-32 Yes, that is the historical information I read as well. The suicide by Yi Ji and his wife came not too long after the king was deposed and they were sent to exile and the queen died a few months later. I imagine that Nok-du and all our favorite crew were complete fiction, but oh how I loved them. Truthfully though, Yi Ji made a great character to fictionalize because very little is known about him and therefore writers can have a field day. In this drama, if historians were writing about it, they would say that Nok-du died from the sword of Yul-mo. But we all know otherwise. ;-)

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I'll be shocked if it ends tragically. It just doesn't seem that type of drama, even though the last half is very angsty.

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@Linda Palapala I promise to dance for joy tomorrow if you are right. :-) I love Nok-du and Dong-joo and want them to be smiling at each other and bickering with each other forever.

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Since this is the "Tale of Nokdu". I thought it interesting that the last thing stated was "watch the last Tale of Nokdu on Monday, as if it's another story.
I wonder if the "Tale" is being told in the future by the little girl who's now grown and re-telling the story of Nokdu.

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Well that's certainly an interesting thought.

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This is what it says: On Monday, the last story of Nok Du and Dong Joo will come to find you..."
Wow.

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/sigh

The little bean that could, it's over now but I don't want it to end 😭

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@zzthorn You can begin your dance now...

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Ha ha, I've started that dance hours ago!! So happy!!

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I'm still dancing 😂

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Even the preview of the final episode is keeping us on edge. This drama likes to torture us!

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if the drama stays close to history, YM will be king. Nokdu's father will be in exile to Jeju Island. Since YM character was not in the original webtoon but created by the writer, I think the coup will win, YM will be king. Nokdu's father may repent, gave up his throne and live with Nokdu & Dongjoo in Jeju. Just my guess. Want a bet?

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You're partially correct. I predicted they would end up on Jeju and live happily.
There's a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode stating this drama is not based on any historical person or event, or something to that effect. So this must be an alternate universe.

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I got my happy ending, I am very satisfied. YM character was added and kinda follows history, everything else is fictional.

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History is more of a Romeo Juliet type thing.

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I wanted the King to choose Nokdu. I really hate that Nokdu was hurt in that way, but Nokdu also had an amazing father who thought he was precious just for being himself.
Also, I hate that they didnt go back, I'm assuming when he feel over he had died?

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Thank you for the recap!

Two more episodes. I'm worried about how it's going to end considering...history. But considering how the drama is able to pack so much into an episode and so many twists, I feel like there must be a way for Team Nokdu to get a happy ending.

That exchange between Nokdu and King Gwanghae - so heartbreaking and wonderfully acted. The drama is good at setting up scenes between the young'uns and the veterans (Dong Joo's scene with Nokdu's true dad, not this charlatan-dad, in the previous episode was also another winner for me).

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This drama has a wonderful cast, both the younger cast and the veterans (though Kim So-hyun is in the odd position of being both? lol), and it knows how to use them. With less skilled younger actors, those scenes could have fallen flat, but not these two.

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Beautiful comments @teriyaki.

I too love the character of Nokdu so very much. The thing that gets me is that Nokdu is so genuinely good-hearted and wants to believe the best of others, even when they have hurt him over and over. Which makes the final scene more devastating because he gave the king yet another chance, only to have his heart broken into pieces again.

This drama has been such a wonderful watch and I will miss it dearly when it ends.

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I want to say something sarcastic like "ZOMG the KING LIVES, who would have predicted that?" But I'm mostly just relieved since him falling over a cliff was kind of dumb so I'm glad that he lives to be awful another day - narratively speaking.

Dong Joo is like some kind of immortal archer ninja. She appears just in time to save Nokdu with arrows and then melts away to pop up again.

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She is cool the way she jumped in to save the day. Normally you see it from male characters. A cool female archer is too rare.

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It makes a lot of sense that, as a woman, she'd be an archer - it's the ideal weapon for her initial long-range assassination plan, and it also allows her to perfect her skills alone.

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Also I love that she doesn't wait for rescue and just shoots her way out of there. Like, you leave her confined alone with a weapon and think she won't use it?

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I like that Dong-joo's weapon of choice is a bow and arrow - it makes a lot of sense, given that it's a weapon that gives her both long-range advantage and allows her to practice solo (she'd never survive hand-to-hand combat with a man given her smaller stature and lack of training, also she can't practice with anyone because she can't risk them finding out why).

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The Queen and Nokdu's reunion 😢😢😢 and her asking him to call her 'Mother' again 💔

I can't even fathom such betrayal at the hands of the person you love and care for most in the world, but...... he tried to murder their child. And then kept trying! And left her to grieve thinking that their son's "death" was her fault.

Nokdu's confrontation with the king absolutely killed me, it's so obvious when he speaks that he's talking about not just the king, but himself. It's heartbreaking to see how hard he tried, only to have the king assume the worst about him.

I'm glad at least Hwang-tae has seen the light though. I knew he'd never be able to kill Nokdu once it actually came down to that.

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FYI, Only Yi Ji and his wife are fictionalized there. Well, about Prince Neungnyang, he is actually a brother of King Gwanghae. The Story goes well like on history Records that his brother incited a coup de etat. Changes might be is about the prophecy.

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