The King’s Affection: Episodes 9-10 Open Thread
It’s getting harder for our royal tutor to hide his giddiness when he’s around the crown prince, and pretty soon he realizes the depth of his affection. It’s a complicated game, but it doesn’t seem to faze him much — it’s our crown prince that has to bear the brunt of the secret, bury her feelings, and even face an impending marriage.
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
We begin in the aftermath of Ji-woon’s drunken cheek kiss, which, as he says while begging the pardon of the prince, means he “deserves to die.” The attraction between these two is running at two totally different temperatures. Ji-woon is in full dork mode, skipping around the palace and acting like a buffoon in love without actually realizing it yet. It’s Dam-yi that has the darker and more serious role here; she’s clearly got a soft spot for him, but must work to hide not only her attraction but her favor. It’s like Queen Elizabeth in her court, except not.
We know that Ji-woon is a big womanizer, but he sure doesn’t seem like one. He doesn’t even realize what he’s feeling for the prince until Young-ji suggests it. On the other hand, Dam-yi is quite open with Eunuch Hong, who’s aghast over the pair’s sunrise embrace (what a beautiful moment). Dam-yi, though, openly admits that she likes him, but is equally determined to get rid of her feelings.
Of course, Ji-woon has other plans. Things start to crystallize for him — and he importantly realizes that the “dream” he had of the crown prince kissing him when he was drunk was not a dream at all. That’s all the encouragement he needed, and despite everything, he boldly confesses his deep affection for the crown prince (in a nice nod to our drama’s title).
It’s a heartbreaking scene, because Ji-woon cares nothing for the social and political structure around them, but for Dam-yi, it’s the only way she can live in the world, and even knows the world. And so, while her heart is bursting at the seams over this confession, she also has to tell him all the things he most likely expected to hear. “We can’t be together.” “What good will come of it.” “I don’t feel the same as you do.”
I know I should be enjoying this forbidden-in-so-many-ways romance, but I’m actually not eating it up. I’m just sitting here (im)patiently waiting for Ji-woon to find out that the crown prince he cares about so deeply is actually his childhood sweetheart. Not so that their romance has legs to stand on, but because I just love the thought of Dam-yi finally able to live free of her chains. And I kind of want to see Ji-woon freaking out when he realizes that he really is in love with a woman, and it’s the same one that stole his heart a decade ago.
But while we wait for that reveal, it’s Hyun that learns a little more of the truth this week. His closeness to both characters makes him a confidante and receiver of private information. He’s soon able to stitch together that the court maid that was Ji-woon’s first love and saved him from drowning, was and is the very same Dam-yi who’s very much in love with him now. Poor Hyun can only cherish his jade ring and pine for the woman he can never be with.
I think my favorite turning point in this week’s episodes was the crown prince’s sudden insistence on marrying as a way to protect herself from Ji-woon. Something she and her confidantes have long dreaded is finally coming to pass, but now Dam-yi needs it, because it will not only provide cover for her, but torture her heart, which I think she half wants right now.
In addition to the politics surrounding the princess selection, we also get some insight on the king. He previously pushed back against the royal marriage, and Dam-yi always assumed it was because he wanted his younger son to be the heir, not Dam-yi’s theoretical son. However, we learn that there’s a much deeper reason, and one that’s rooted in the regret the king feels towards his first family. He mourns how he was unable to protect them. (I’m glad for this; I like him humanized and conflicted instead of blandly evil.)
Lest we forget my favorite side character, Commander Yoon does more running around the palace grounds this week in pursuit of the mysterious assassin who is closer at hand than ever. Yoon has all but stitched together that it is indeed Ga-on — the only thing is every time Ga-on is in his crosshairs, he escapes. Still, each episode we get another breadcrumb, and Ga-on’s true motives are another reveal I’m (im)patiently waiting for.
As to the princess selection, it’s led by So-yeon (who doesn’t want to be there at all and tells her father such) and her friend NO HA-KYUNG (Jung Chae-yeon). Ha-kyung does want to be there, has a cheat sheet, and truly wants to be princess (she was also charmingly saved by the crown prince earlier and is busy swooning away). This logic leaves us no alternative but the one that makes both girls unhappy: So-yeon is chosen.
Our sad, heartbroken prince goes to visit her, and asks her to be the bride. It’s a bit twisted, and I love it — I think Dam-yi not only knows that So-yeon likes Ji-woon, but that her closeness to Ji-woon makes her more trustworthy. At least that’s what I’m hoping. If she has to live a lie, let it be with someone who can share it with her. And So-eun is the perfect heroine for that.
Politics and princesses aside, though, this week really belongs to the knife-in-the-heart confession and painful parting of our OTP. Dam-yi knows she won’t be safe as long as Ji-woon is around, so she plans the marriage and tries to lure his attention away with a big promotion just to get him out of her inner circle.
But Ji-woon, completely forlorn and serious by this point, has other plans. Instead of the promotion, he resigns from his position. He says he intends to go back to what he was doing beforehand, and that he can’t stay at the palace — if he did, he would be looking for every excuse to see her. (He goes into great detail, and now I’m definitely swooning.)
They part at the beautiful overlook where they went during their first lecture together. Both are crumbling inside, but do not show it in their actions. As Ji-woon leaves, Dam-yi struggles to hold back her tears. And damn, Park Eun-bin does it again, tearing out all our hearts — including Ji-woon’s — with only those sad eyes.
- Premiere Watch: The King’s Affection, Reflection of You, My Name
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- Park Eun-bin personifies lonely Joseon prince in The King’s Affection
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- Kim Ro-woon up for KBS romance sageuk with Park Eun-bin