The King’s Affection: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
Old feelings resurface as our princely heroine reunites with her first love. But they’re not kids anymore — now our heroine’s got royal responsibilities on her shoulders and a deep-rooted fear in her heart. She can’t afford to be around the one person that could ruin it all. Unfortunately for her, he can’t afford to leave.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Last week was mostly backstory, which I loved, but now that we’re in the present day, things are really moving full-speed ahead. Our hero Ji-woon comes across heroine Dam-yi in the forest, with her hair down and royal robes stripped, and he (correctly) assumes that she’s a woman. Dam-yi knows this assumption is a danger to her, so she ditches him the second she can and hopes they never encounter each other again.
Dam-yi then runs into her cousin LEE HYUN (Nam Yoon-soo), who she’s good friends with. They’re attacked by an unknown assassin, who has a specific charm on his sword, but they manage to get away safely. They later inform the royal court of what happened, and we get a taste of the complicated family dynamics. Dam-yi’s father, now King Hyejong, has remarried and has another son. The new queen obviously resents Dam-yi for being first in line of the throne, but Dam-yi’s half brother still seems sweet and innocent.
Of course, Ji-woon can’t stop thinking about Dam-yi. He figures she must’ve been a court maid and gets a guard he’s friendly with to sneak him into the palace. As he’s looking around, Dam-yi spots him and follows close behind, crossbow in hand.
She feels she has no choice but to kill him, and we see why in flashback. When she was still young and adjusting to her role as the prince, there was an instance where her mother had to kill a young maid for discovering their secret. I get that they have to be extra careful, but yeesh…
Just as Dam-yi is about to release her arrow, Ji-woon finds the secret door to the courtyard where they first met. It’s only then that she realizes who he is, and she’s hit with a wave of emotions. They’re not exactly positive emotions, but for now, she lets him go.
Dam-yi checks out Ji-woon’s workplace and has another chance encounter with him at a gisaeng house (where Ji-woon finds out she’s actually the crown prince). She’s already angry towards him because of what his father did, and now, on top of that, she thinks he’s become some pathetic womanizer. She warns him never to appear in front of her again.
Yeah, that doesn’t last long. Ji-woon’s father Inspector Jung is ordered to bring his son into the palace, since the Ming minster, who Ji-woon is on good terms with, is visiting soon. Ji-woon has been estranged from his father this whole time and wants nothing to do with him or the palace, so Inspector Jung takes matters into his own hands.
Ji-woon’s workplace is ransacked, and his employees/friends are arrested and tortured. The only way to save them? He has to work at the palace as Dam-yi’s tutor for two weeks, until the Ming minister’s arrival.
I will say, as much as I love the emotion and drama, the humor Ji-woon brings to the palace is a nice breath of fresh air. He’s hilariously — and admirably — determined to stick it out for his friends’ sakes, while Dam-yi is determined to chase him out. She has him transcribing a mountain of books and catching loaches in the stream (shirtless, of course), and the poor guy endures it all.
As a part of her rebellion, Dam-yi also refuses to attend Ji-woon’s tutoring sessions. Ji-woon suggests a deal, in that she starts attending if she fails an upcoming test. And to show how serious he is, he puts his life on the line, blocking the target she’s using for archery practice. To his and everyone’s surprise, she does end up shooting, the arrow juuuuust missing his head. It’s a tense scene, and quite striking, as it’s telling of how stubborn they both are.
Impressed with Ji-woon’s courage, Dam-yi accepts his deal. For the test, she’s given a seed and is challenged to figure out what it is and what it’s supposed to represent. She thinks she’s totally got this, proudly declaring that it’s the seed of a lotus flower.
However, Ji-woon isn’t satisfied with her interpretation. The answer he was looking for was that a king should be strong and virtuous, just as the lotus flower is able to thrive despite blooming in the mud.
It dawns on Dam-yi that Ji-woon must’ve overheard the conversation she had with her maternal grandfather LORD SANGHEON (Yoon Je-moon) earlier. Lord Sangheon had warned her that the palace was mud-like and that she couldn’t survive on her own. So, as it turns out, Ji-woon’s test was meant to challenge Lord Sangheon’s words.
Afterwards, we see that Dam-yi is ever so slightly (and I do mean slightly) warming up to Ji-woon. Still, she tells him that the palace is a dangerous and scary place to be in. He knows all too well, and he says, almost to himself, that he won’t let such a place turn him into a bad person like his father and her grandfather.
She definitely needed to hear that. I never really understood why she resented him all these years, when it was his father who killed the maid and he even tried to intervene. Maybe she misunderstood the situation and thought he was involved, or maybe she just hated him by association. Either way, I’m glad she’s starting to see that the sweet boy she once knew isn’t really gone.
So we’ve got the palace secret, the political power struggle, and now the fluttery romance getting all set up. And I’m enjoying every bit of it. The ending scene, with Ji-woon slowly and delicately tying Dam-yi’s gat, is our first taste of Ro-woon and Park Eun-bin’s romantic chemistry, and it’s definitely working for me. He could tie that gat all day, for all I care.
But in all seriousness, I’m super charmed by these characters and am already looking forward to what’s sure to be a complicated love story. It hurts my heart that Dam-yi, in particular, was such a sweet girl and that she had her innocence stripped away from her at a young age. She’s a completely different person now, and we don’t exactly know who that person is, because she’s playing a role.
Hopefully, as the drama goes on, and we follow Dam-yi as Prince Lee Hwi, we also learn more about her as just Dam-yi. Ji-woon will probably bring out some of her old self, which is sure to be satisfying… and extremely dangerous.
I’m not sure how to feel about Lee Hyun as a character yet, but I do like what I’ve seen of him so far. I like his bond with Dam-yi, his bromantic friendship with Ji-woon. He just seems like a good guy to have around.
On that note, I’m also intrigued by the other newbie in the palace — Dam-yi’s new bodyguard KIM GA-ON (Choi Byung-chan). He does have the same charm as the assassin that attacked Dam-yi, but it’s way too soon to jump to any conclusions. All I know is, he has some secrets of his own, which, hey, doesn’t everybody. This palace is chock-full of secrets.
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