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Drama Hangout: The Red Sleeve Cuff

There’s nothing quite like that feeling of a hotly anticipated drama actually living up to expectations. And, in the case of The Red Sleeve Cuff, I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s delivering on expectations. The buzz is growing, as are the ratings, and the cast is just *chef’s kiss.*

I’ve got the worst luck in sageuk — on the occasion that I actually decide to sit down and commit to one, it’s either too comedic or too cute. I want a little of those things in my sageuk, but not too much. Taking up the bulk of the story should be the things that epic sagas are made of: yearning, longing, pining, more yearning, life or death stakes, and that feeling when the hero or heroine is standing on the edge of a cliff with their hair blowing in the wind, and they’re just taking in the wildness of life.

But back to The Red Sleeve Cuff, in a drama cycle that’s practically bursting with sageuk, it’s standing out in the mix. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s bringing a good balance, too — the palace setting is working for the story, rather than the story being jerked around by the palace setting. And just to hammer that thought in, I leave you with the scene pictured above — our royal’s rose petal bath is interrupted by the court lady he’s pining for, and she’s flustered and accidentally falls right into his arms. Thank you, dramaland.

Chat away in the thread below, but Beanie beware — spoilers may be rife.

 
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Swoon!!! I absolutely adore Red Sleeve so far. I’m watching Kings Affection as well, which is also good, but RS is hitting it out of the ballpark. The acting and directing and plot are amazing. There isn’t, so far, a ton of royal court political drama, which is a welcome change from KA. And… it just gives me happy feels all day. Can’t wait for the next ep tomorrow. 🥰

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Finally, at last, The Red Sleeve Cuff drama hangout is here! Thank you, @missvictrix for did a wonderful job by creating this drama hangout.

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Omg. Thank you for this virtual hang out. My heart has been bursting at the seams after every beautiful episode each week, and I have been longing for a space dedicated to RS.

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I have nothing to say except I love love love every single character. All characters are all nuanced and besides the bratty princess everyone is love love love. They all fight for what they believe is the best. But San, please fix your behavior in ep 8 today. Thank you. Because I love you.

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Weirdly I like the bratty princess! Or at least I’m sympathetic to her, a bit. She’s been born into a position that seems to make up her entire identity, and she’s destined to only go downhill from her status when she was born. She would’ve had to be smart or savvy to either hold onto her perks, create a new environment to laterally move into, or adjust her expectations. She’s not built that way though, so now she’s lashing out like an animal feeling a trap close shut.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s AWFUL, but she’s also a victim of circumstance. And she’s not smart. She’s using her power in all the wrong ways and creating enemies at exactly the time she needs to be subtle and ingratiating.

It’s kind of refreshing to see a palace player who is not only bad at this, but transparently bad at it.

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The feels! I've put aside all Saturday shows and sagueks for this. Went down the rabbit hole researching history bits. Quite authentic love story. Still some way to go; hope it retains its awesomeness!

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One of the commenters made a very good point about the inequality of bargaining power between Doekim and Yisan. She is at his mercy and this is enormously problematic. Junho is an exceptional actor but Yisan’s behaviour in episode 7 was an exercise in entitled and gendered behaviour. Grabbing her neck was an absolute nadir of the episode as it was non-consensual and clearly was not welcomed by Doekim at that point in the story. Being a bloody Royal concubine would be a poisoned chalice as the RL Doekim experienced it.

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“…an exercise in entitled and gendered behaviour.”

Yes, you put this into words so succinctly. As her master, San could have Deok-im hurt or killed in an instant, and nobody would bat an eye. Not exactly the most healthy ground to start a relationship on. And that’s before he grabbed her neck for no damn reason.

What he did to her at the end of this episode was horrific. There was absolutely no justification for it.

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I completely agree with your comment. I just felt disgusted and dismayed as it was the archetypal toxic masculine behaviour because he felt jealous, rejected and insulted. I am sick of these overreactions as plot devices as he could have asked her who the brother dude was - his appearance was a deus ex machina if I ever saw one - and even if Doekim decided not to tell him, Yisan could have acted decently and respected Doekim’s wishes.

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I thought so too but when I watch the next episode I realize that it is realistic actually. In that old ages, loyalty means everything and as the social concept and the country's law is that court lady is King's "ownership" and it is illegal to have love affairs with other men than the king. He came from that social perspective! But the next day he showed his true heart is totally different from others: he can ask for her to be exile out of the palace to save her (that means he has to let her go (thinking she does not love him?). And in the later episode, she told him her wish is that he becomes King. That has a meaning too. It does not only mean she is loyal to him as a king to be but could also mean she starts to accept the fact that she loves him and the only way to be legally with him is that he is the king (she is a court lady and supposed to be king's lady only). This is very well connected between episodes and the drama script/production/acting are all well-produced! I love that!

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I hope Deok-im won't forget San's bullsh*t in ep 7, she should kick his ass when it's his turn to pursue her.

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I hope not! I completely agree with you.

I really dislike the justification that, well “that was the way it was”! Show runners use a lot of creative license in making Sageuks. We get truckloads of angry, entitled, arrogant, brutal, scheming, unethical and class conscious male protagonists who are portrayed with some degree of verisimilitude . Is it too much to ask that a character like San who is depicted at times as sensitive and a deep thinker as well as a swoon worthy romantic hero have a little bit of self-awareness from the onset? Goddess Forbid!

Btw, I realised all too late that I have misspelt Deokim’s name. My Korean teacher joins both parts of her name when she writes it in English so I have emulated her and when typing quickly, typos creep in!

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I’m ok with San being an entitled jack*ss now as long as the writer doesn’t let him off the hook too easily. The power imbalance between San and Deok-im is very realistic and if the writer is wise, he/she should make good use of it for San’s character growth.
About the Korean names, don’t worry too much about it haha. I misspell them all the time, as long as we all understand the references, it’s all good 😊

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I agree with you that there’s no need to go full-documentary on the level of misery at the time (I mean, we don’t expect them to run around blacking out the majority of the extras’ teeth either), but in this show IN PARTICULAR I think there’s a loophole, and it’s that San is Sado’s son.

The plot revolves around whether San will get to become king or will get sidelined, almost entirely based on his blood. If he’s a 100% good guy throughout, that conflict almost seems silly: of course he’s not going to lose his mind and kill a bunch of court maids! Obviously!

…but then in the dead of night he corners his favorite court maid and puts his hand on her throat and tells her he owns her and can do what he wants with her life. Is this the first peek at Sado-like behavior? Is it a privileged nobleman experiencing his first bout of jealously and not knowing how to handle it? Or is it the survivor of childhood abuse at the hands of his father AND grandfather modeling their behavior towards him?

I don’t like sageuk historical accuracy for the sake of shock value, but here I think there’s a lot of narrative support for why San showing potentially violent behavior could mean a heck of a lot of things beyond “Joseon nobles were murderous jerks”.

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Very nuanced take Miranda. I am still deeply grossed out at San’s behaviour though.

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Also, please register so I can follow you.

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I was also grossed out. Choking (and choking-adjacent behaviors) rings ALL my alarm bells, but then I came to the conclusion that it’s probably better for me as a viewer to have slight doubts about San’s hold over his temper and that it’ll enrich the story.

And I can’t register! It’s the last hurdle standing between me spending all of my time on here talking about dramas! And technically I do have a job and other responsibilities, so I’m intentionally abstaining. Think of it as addiction management.

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Miranda, I get it but I will keep on looking out for your great comments! Take care.

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But that's based on the assumption that Sado really was cruelly crazy and it wasn't political mechanications that gave him his reputation.

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Miranda, is it ok if I copy/paste your comment elsewhere? With a link back here, of course. You just articulated my thoughts on the matter so much better than I could.

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Sure, Amilia! Repost away.

And Yin, I think that’s somewhere the show is going to go - the “was here naturally crazy or driven there” thing. But… I also think it’s pretty accepted that he actually did historically kill a bunch of palace servants. So I don’t see that going away.

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I had LOTS of reactions to the neck-grab. Most importantly: the red flag that choking is a very telling stop on the domestic abuse railroad, so… any time I see it my stomach drops.

But after that initial gut reaction (and the second half of the scene) I think I’ve got it more in-context. That was not a sexy scene (thankfully), it was a control scene. And he IS the crown prince, and used to a certain level of flat-out obedience. And strictly speaking he’s right. She really is his to do with what he wishes (yes this is terrible but also a reality at that time). They ALL are. And he is most definitely expressing jealousy after seeing her with another guy, possibly his first experience with pure jealousy. Not a good night for Yi San and modern expectations!

But story-wise, the fact that Sado’s calm and collected son just put his hand around a court maid’s throat and basically told her he owned her? Well, that’s pretty significant on a lot of levels. So far he’s been scrupulous about being everything his father wasn’t - but then again Sado didn’t start crazy, he TURNED crazy. And killed a ton of court staff like they were nothing.

So while I absolutely do not love the throat-hold (thank you show for not making it strangulation), I do think it’s valuable that both characters and viewers now have that scene seared into our brains. He can do that. He has done it, unthinkingly. And his dad (and probably grandfather, let’s be honest, I can easily see the King grabbing little San by the throat while yelling at him) have done this and much worse.

It makes things a little less black-and-white when assessing everyone’s concerns about San being Sado Part 2.

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@Miranda, I totally agree with you and like the way you think.👍 I honestly think that San was regretful of his behavior when they showed him after he left Deo-Kim. He is very intelligent and usually has himself under control. But Deo-Kim is definitely his weakness and trigger. It is clear that the only way he will be able to protect her is to try to hide his feelings (as much as he can) for her. Everyone is going to try to use her to get to him and to manipulate him. I think Deo-Kim knows this and also does not want to be used herself. It is clear she is attracted to the prince but her exact feelings for him are not as clear. I think she would rather have the autonomy to care for him and love him on her own turns rather than be forced to.

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Knowing the head court lady positioned her to be the perfect concubine likely made her even more reluctant to do it. It’s one thing to love someone; it’s another to know that political people intended for it to happen, since they obviously expect something out of that arrangement.

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…and, uh, just as a side note: please don’t let people choke you, even consensually. I know there’s a whole kink element to it but it is super dangerous. Air supply is important and it’s one of those things you should always keep under your own control.

I am very, very glad the show did not hint that it was sexy. Fingers/hands touching necks? Nice. Strangulation, even lightly? No no. Nope. No.

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You make so many excellent points in this post that helped me work out my reaction to the scene. Thank you :)

As you said, the neck grab clearly wasn't meant to be sexy or romantic. And I understand why it might be a bridge too far for some viewers even if it fits into the historical framework of gender dynamics of the time.

One thing I'd like to add to your excellent analysis is that I thought it was significant that this scene occurred after San vowed to himself that he would never love in the way his grandfather did. In other words, he would not violently destroy the person he professed to love, either physically or emotionally. And yet, just a few minutes later, there he was, threatening to destroy the literal and figurative heart of the woman he's coming to love.

This was an interesting bit of character development in that it reminded us of the fact that even though San may have lofty goals now to love differently and better than those who came before, he has absolutely no idea how to do that. It was never modelled in his life; in fact, it seems like any representation of love he's seen has been tied to abuse, manipulation, callousness, or something mandated by one's powerful royal position.

So it's all well and good that he can declare he will be different, but can he? The first step then would be recognizing that what he did in the library was just one more example of the kind of love he said he didn't want to express or receive. Will he recognize this fact and realize his own hypocrisy? And in doing so, will he find a way to live a healthier, happier reality where he can love and be loved the way he wants? I'm still trusting the writers to satisfactorily answer those questions.

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A nuanced and complementary take to clever Miranda’s. I feel smarter having read your collective comments!🥰

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I think you’re right that it all boils down to: he really doesn’t know how to do a lot of this relationship stuff, at ALL. His entire life has been hemmed in by threats and increasingly bonkers behavior, and he’s been bottling up a LOT.

It’s not going to all sort itself out neatly at once.

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Yes he owns her so to speak but that expression of physical violence is a choice and not a justification of his ownership. If he wanted to remind her he owns her there are better more effective and less violent ways to do that. Control and violence don't go hand in hand. Justifying a male lead's violence just because he is the male lead who you know will end up with the female lead is extremely problematic and romanticism of violent love should have ended in the last decade. This has nothing to do with the time period this is entirely about the personality of the male lead who is a borderline sociopath.

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I would rather interpret it like this, @dncingemma: San is a king, and he inherit the old gender bias as a man, as well a king, and Doekim is the force who go against him. What ends the Episode 7 is horrible in terms of domestic violence. From the whole show perspective, however, it may be an arc San try to learn to love a woman she care, and respect her freedom.

Certainly making a final verdict is way too early in terms of the show (I just watched Episode 8, which is just half way), the show may finally be very misogynist, who knows. However, I would suggest give it a chance. Just one scene doesn't represent everything.

Furthermore, I heard the love story between Jeongjo and Uibin Seong was being told many times in K-dramas (I, on the other hand, didn't watch any other but this one), but why The Red Sleeve is so standout, not only become the first MBC show exceed 10% viewership in 3 years, but also become the so-called Goddesses* Slayer in this time slot? There must have tonnes of reasons to explain it, but I guess one of the most important is the story is told in a modern perspective, like laugh at the traditional gender role plot (that Episode 1 cliffhanger is one of those famous). As a result, I would love to give it a chance, and look on a bit longer.

*Goddesses* are Song Hye-kyo, Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Young-ae, who starred Now We Are Breaking Up, Jirisan and Inspector Koo respectively.

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I don't think you can apply contemporary cultural standards to male behaviour in a royal court several hundred years ago. Women were totally disposable in those days, and if a prince wanted a court lady to be his concubine, I would seriously doubt she would have any say in the matter. Furthermore, she probably would have been envied by most of her contemporaries, because it probably beat all that washing and sweeping and standing around bent over staring at the ground. And if you were lucky enough to have a child, then your future was secure. Bearing in mind this prince has been waited on hand and foot all his life, his every word treated with respect bordering on reverence and his every lightest wish granted, I think he is handling rejection extremely well. A hand round the throat is a lot better than having the tendons on your heels cut just for annoying somebody.

And this is a fictional story. Let's not get too carried away; I'm sure the writers are trying to draw a sensible balance between life at the court as it REALLY was in the early 18th venture (how do they all stay so squeaky-clean all the time?) the romantic story, beautiful clothes, and charming behaviour that we all want to see. :-)

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Thanks (not really) for your patronising comment. Choking someone you profess to adore is never ok. In any century.

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Never said it was OK. Just said it could have been worse.

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@jayton, before I visit your opinion, I tell you a story happening in my city.

One of our city's 3 universities is called Ryerson University, the man bear the namesake is a very successful educator, and one of the designers of Ontario's school board system. But lately protestors demonstrate before his statue, even tear it down and throw its head into Lake Ontario, and the university is considering changing the name of the institute.

Why? Because he is also the designer of Canadian notorious Residential School System, robbing Indigenous people of their culture. I am pretty sure during Mr. Ryerson's time there are tonnes of reasons justify the act (one of those reasons: Indigenous culture is inferior compare to White Christian Culture). But what is wrong is always wrong, no matter during 19th century or today. And what he had done hunderd years ago must be criticized, or otherwise our civilization won't progress.

I realize there are several level of inequality between San and Deokim: Crown Prince and Court Lady, man and woman, master and servant. I know some people think him holding her neck is "sexy" (I read quite a lot of Taiwanese media reports think so), but we as the audience of 21st century watching a production of 21st century must question that, this is why we have to study history, this is why I agree with @dncingemma on this one.

And also mind you, this show may have been adapted from a novel, but both the show and the novel are base on real historical events and historical figure, so it is not totally fictional. San (later Jeongjo of Joseon) and Deokim (later Royal Noble Consort Uibin Seong), to say the least, doesn't end well, and Queen Jeongsun, the one who looks kind and tender, is the final winner of the political struggle. When we are watching Titanic, we know the ship must sink, so how they lay out the story has become utmost important. This is also why we have to criticize even a small gesture of holding neck--even a fictional segeok like The King's Affection, we care about how they interpret a misogynist "tradition" of killing a girl for the sake of her twin brother to be crown prince, shouldn't we care? Yes we should.

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Totally agree with you! The background of the story was hundred years ago and this is fictional so the detail only showed the old social concept. I would say that is actually correct and realistic for him to be that "violent" but he was trying to control himself too (if we see next episodes) and changed a lot (also in next episodes) when he propose to exile her out of the palace to save her (meaning he is not going to possess her but letting her go as long as she is safe). I found the "violent" scene actually has an intention and needed for character's progress in the next episodes.

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Sic,
We are still doing weekly hangouts at your wall, right?

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... hahha. See below! I will take this as one vote for yes in continuing them!
I thought it might still be a nice idea, to do so, to have both. The wall hangouts can be more focused to specific episodes, but this will be good in general.

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Well, you know what happens to BOSSAM with just one general thread. LOL, @wishfultoki had to create a blog, and we had to move.

It's good to have both. I'm not sure if this will be a one-time thing or a weekly thread.

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yeahp! And there are a minimum of 20 beans watching this! (I don't know the max but my tagging list is 21 at the moment haha)

Looks like Bossam, so I'm guessing it will be a one time thing, unless they release a second a bit later?

Lmao if I were doing actual recaps I'm sure Toki would let me guest on her blog.

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80+ comments is a lot :).
What you did with episodes 5 and 6 was perfect!

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I'll keep going then hehe~
It was a lot of notifications too haha.

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Thank you <3,

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Kiara, what is BOSSAM?

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Ehhhhh~! Yay!
Although we have this now, for which I am grateful indeed, thank you @missvictrix, if people would still like me to do my Weekly Hang Outs by episode on the Wall, let me know.
They might be a bit obsolete, but they might not, so.

I haven't watched 7+8 yet so I have nothing new to comment on yet!

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Unless the @db-staff monitors the number of comments and plans to have a weekly hangout thread for this drama, webpage loading problems from the "Blossom Thread" is going be a recurring incident due to high volume of traffic. In this case, I want a weekly thread at your wall.

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Noted~!

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This

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I'll be at the wall. Please count me in.

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At least we know that we will be discussing the show every Monday or Tuesday regularly.

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Please count me in as well. Remembering the BOSSAM hangout as being equal parts thrilling and frustrating. It was great to share the show with other Beanies but became so slow and cumbersome to load. BOSSAM lovers, saved by @wishfultoki, thank you for providing another space for RED SLEEVE, as she did. Heading over to your wall now!

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Count me for the wall too.

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Ooh, count me in too!

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I forgot to ask you and @snowflower if you'd like to join us.

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I am in!

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Awesome!

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You can count me in for the wall as well :)

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Please tag me as well. Thanks!

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Thank you Sic for tagging me on your wall ❤️ I wish to be anywhere Junho is concerned 😄

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My interested Episode 7 details:
--

I try to go down the river
But she's dimly in the middle of the river
She's dimly in the middle of the river

For me, I loved this poem.
-- purple flowers bloom for the first time since Yi San's father died (I cried this most beautiful dramatic background music!)
-- someone said that need a recruit for the senior 4th rank in charge of the royal infirmary
-- pumpkin taffy
-- green paper boat
-- "valuable mandarin (orange?) hardly harvested in the royal greenhouse" and later Yi San ate it
-- another archery event
-- dementia
-- burning useless books including Tale of Kwak and Jang
-- perfume pouch

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I tear up when he touched the dog house where his dad writing was and when he said he wanted to tell someone about his dad. Made me feel like he was so alone in his grief

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San is a filial child. He loves his father without judgment. No matter what kind of person Sado was, he was still his father.

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Yi San was quite the poet in his time, so it's good to see more poems incorporated into the drama.

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Omg we finally got one. I always have so much to talk about after every episode. This hangout is a delight to have. Thank you, @missvictrix!

I actually just finished episode 7. And as pretty as Sam’s green hanbok was, his behaviour sure wasn’t. Love his character and Junho can do no wrong but….

*sarcasm mode on* Gee, I wonder why Deok-im keeps rejecting him. What a mystery!

But in all seriousness, the power dynamic between the two is a big problem, and I think this is the first episode that properly demonstrates that gap. Sure, she’s been his servant all this time but we finally see just how much Deok-im is at the mercy of San’s whims. Dude, she said no! Leave her alone and for fuck’s sake, don’t choke her!

*deep sigh* why are men like this?

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I couldn't decide which one I liked more, light blue or green!
And yea, wonder why...I liked that they provided that context to history though, bc that's what I thought when I read about the plot, why didn't she want him besides just wanting a free life but how free can a court lady be?!
I agree with the power dynamic being off but that's a lot (majority) of Kdrama a where the FL is a poor candy or employee of the company that the ML is the chaebol or CEO of...I like to see how she keeps holding her ground even with him being the CP and all

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That’s definitely true about power dynamics in dramas, and I am aware that it would be even more skewed than usual given the historical setting and the social standings of our leads. It’s just that what San did at the end of this episode was particularly disturbing.

I still ship them, that’s not changing. But I hope it’ll be revealed as a red herring next episode.

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"Gee, I wonder why Deok-im keeps rejecting him. What a mystery!"

It seems to me that someone is going to get significant character growth. I vaguely remember Deok Im saying something about San not knowing how to say sorry.

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Ooh he’s absolutely going to have to learn how to apologize before Deok-im gives him any (romantic) attention. And I’ll be here for every single second of it.

His entitlement makes sense given his social status and the strict Confucian gender norms of Joseon, but it’s not going to impress Deok-im.

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I feel like I'm trying hard to see things from her perspective, even when it doesn't make much sense during that era.

Right, as a crown prince of Joseon, it's not seen as an entitlement.
All the court ladies in the palace belong to the king, and she is serving at the East palace where the crown prince presides.
San could have just ordered her through his grandfather to be his concubine, but instead, he proposed to her.
Maybe, he was overconfident from what he heard but still, he gave her a chance to reject or accept.

@ramenqueen raised a good point... why didn't she want him besides just wanting a free life, but how free can a court lady be?

They chose to be court ladies, fully knowing that they may end up as a concubine for the king or the crown prince. It's a court ladies' dream except for Deok Im.

This would be an excellent topic to discuss further at Sic's wall.

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Yayyy its here! What will i do after today's episode! Lee Se Young was so good in ep 7, she shines more in the serious scenes. Usually I'm short of words, the episodes are just so well done. Though yes, San may have been a let down last episode.

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Yea...I'm hoping the cliffhanger was misleading like how it had been and he just going to brush off a hair on her neck....

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She does! The OTT comedy kind of feels out of place at times.

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I feel like with the plot progressing deeper into the politics at this point, we'll see less comedy anyways.

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Since you read the novel, was the mark on her back part of it, or is it something that the drama writer added?

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Oof, my memories of details in the novel is foggy. Can't say I remember it... I'll be curious as well what this writer does with it.

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Also, where did you read the novel?? I tried looking for it online once and couldn't find it.

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It's on naver novels in korean. No english translations, unfortunately, if you need that.

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No, I speak Korean--is the naver novels connected to the Naver Webtoon app at all/is there an app version? Thanks!

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If you type in "naver series" in the app store, it's should pop up. It's the logo with the black S on the green background. You should find all their novels there. Good thing about naver is that there's an option to buy coins by paypal (choosing '일반결제' when you get to the payment screen), so you don't have to have a korean bank account or anything.

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Thank you @missvictrix I think all the beanies were waiting forever this one! I have watched too many sagueks this year but there's only ONE Junho, aka my true love. But I let my emotions from other sagueks carry over, like I kept worrying YiSan and DeokIm will get caught like in TKA, or that Junhos eyes will turn green (or red) like in RKL, etc. but overall, just a lot of swooning, laughing and pinning in general. The show transition from
light hearted comedic to serious life and death very quickly. I can't remember who said this (wasn't me) but whenever the old king laugh, I got nervous bc I never knew if he's going to take off his glasses or wheel out a rice chest *gasp*

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Lol he really is a great actor, isn't he? I am absolutely loving him in the Saguek style, and I'm not normally a saguek person... much pleased.

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I liked the king in Suspicious Partner so much. He does somehow create characters who are both wildly erratic and completely capable of pulling that back in and being a coherent personality. Others try that and the characters come off as disjointed. Not with him. He feels so energetic that there could be a million things happening in his head and you just happen to be seeing the one that popped to the top of the character’s consciousness.

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Yay! Loving this one a lot. Junho is just too good. And Lee Se young is just perfection as her character as well. I’m less concerned about power imbalance in Joseon times, and it’ll be interesting how Sam grows from entitled crown prince to benevolent king, loving and not just lusting over Deok-Im. She will be his equal and he will take her counsel as such, eventually.

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You said it perfectly! He better works harder to redeem himself though. The way things are going, she's gonna reject him for a while!

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Same, not concerned by Crown Prince strangling Deok Im because the drama is clearly set in a period of Kings and Queens, where you can't expect such equality and likes of such morale.

As I mentioned in my comment, both the leads are aware of the imbalance and in future episodes this will be a cause of concern for both and which the drama has potential to explore.

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I can’t wait for that character development. It’s gonna be so good. He’s definitely going to grow to respect Deok-im as an equal.

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She's actually taken huge liberties already for a woman in her position. She started off not knowing he was the CP and she's dressed him down on a number of occasions. She also strings him along, even in this last episode when she was pretending to be sick. I think she's done a stunning job of subversion, and that's why he's attracted to her. They are in a contest of wills at the moment. He's crossed the line (in our terms today), but she's his woman, there in the palace for him. All the women there are either his or his father's. Her life is irrevocably tied to his. That's what she understood from the beginning. Wonderfully she's insisted that she reserve a part of herself for herself.
His response to that, "nonsense". The struggle for real power has only begun. I'm certain that she is more than capable of taking control of the current situation. She's no shrinking violet. She's more than equal to him, and that's why he needs her.

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That’s certainly true. From the perspective of San, he’s within his rights to punish/harm Deok-im as he sees fit - for any number of supposed “slights”. No matter how disturbing it is to us modern viewers.

It’s because of how she still finds ways to fight back against these oppressive systems, regardless of her dire position, that I find her character so admirable. Maybe it’s anachronistic for a woman of her time, but the real-life Sung Deok-im did, after all, manage to reject Yi San twice. That must’ve taken incredible courage. I’m glad that the show decided to respect that strength and show her as a strong-minded and independent woman.

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She rejected him twice and he still loved her and respected her enough to make sure her name lived on. Looking forward to what comes next.

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It’s going to break our hearts, isn’t it? I’m not ready.

*prepared the tissues*

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In RL, I wish she had not been forced to become a Court Lady, had not met Yi San, hadn’t suffered so much tragedy, and hadn’t died from liver cancer at age 33 while heavily pregnant. I wish she had an obscure but happy life. Alas.

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@DancingEmma

Deok Im wasn't forced to be a court lady in real life or the drama. She entered the palace of her own free will.

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@Kiara, she was a child. Realistically what other choice she had? How could you interpret that as consent?

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@Kiara, just a few more facts: she was 10 years old and her family was poor as stated here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Noble_Consort_Uibin_Seong

A 10 year old girl child from a poor family didn’t have freedom of choice and couldn’t meaningfully consent.

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I understand what you are saying but I’m seeing it from an era where conscientious and rights was nonexistent.
She did beg to be a palace maid. In the end, she was loved and treasured even after she died.

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I hated how ep 8 began. Won’t say anymore so not to spoil the ep but my blood boiled.

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I was actually more ok with it than I would have been otherwise--I was glad that... wait a second...

*Spoiler/ish/maybe?*

I was glad that he didn't pull the jealousy card on her, and he was upset specifically because she had another man. This way it at least falls better within the context of the times, that she literally is supposed to be "his person", although I agree with Deok-Im that she gets to retain some things.

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@cozybooks,
Hi! But we can deduct from the previous scene where he observed the brother gifting her the long sleeves - very interesting to me as they covered the red cuffs so her brother both symbolically and substantively wants her to be out of this system imo - that he was bith jealous and outraged because if the gifted sleeves!

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PLEASE FORGIVE MY INADVERTENT SPOILERS! Very sorry!

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I figure at some point that the thread will be rife with them haha but we need a place to discuss ;)

Yeah, I totally agree that he's boiling jealous over that earlier scene... but I'm just glad he didn't call it out and use that as his direct reasoning. Rather, he puts it in a larger context.

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Thank you @missvictrix for putting up a thread as requested beanies.

Things I liked about Ep.7
* Wol Hye's fight. It was cool to see a lower order woman stabing all the men with a hair pin. This also makes the story a lot more intersting because the drama is utilising every single character to their best.

* The head court lady being open about her intentions with Deok Im. Antagonists or grey characters pulling in the masses through a sense of belonging is much stronger than one fuelled by a personal revenge or for greater good.

*Hong Ro nonchalantly waking up the king, Crown Prince's bodygaurd's simple mindedness and The Crown Prince causually throwing the mandarin inside his sleeve. The comic scenes seamlessly flows the drama rather than standing out from the serious tone.

* The king having his own arc to play rather than being a crutch for Crown prince's ascent to the throne, even though it is the story of CP and Deok Im. The king's dementia is going to bring a whole lot of other powers to the forefront.

* Deok Im asking the CP to "allow" her to refuse his wishes when he gave her the mandarin. This scene even before the ending of Ep.7, clearly shows at she is at the mercy of the Crown Prince, so I wasn't bothered by the imbalance of power. I am waiting to see how the drama is going to show her succumb to power without undoing her principle's of freewill.

I think, I am enjoying this Sageuk because it has a very compelling story telling with a touch of moderism. Deok Im and her friends roasting sweet potatoes near the CP's place protrayed that the palace was not a luxury prison but lower level people in the palace do have freedom to enjoy the things they like, as far as they aren't in the line of vision of the royals.

One question to other beanies, I thought Hong Ro was Deok Im's brother because when he spoke to the West Wing Minister, the minister reminded him of saving his family. Why is he poor and his family needed saving?

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Hong Deok-ro is from the Hong clan. The same clan that San's mother ( Hong Hye-bin aka Lady Hyegyeong) is from, so San and Deok-ro are related.

Seong Deok Im is from the Seong clan. If she were Deok-ro's sister, they would have the same family name, but they don't.
While Deok Im was saving money to pay for her brother's civil exam, Deok-ro was already in the palace as San's confidant from a young age.

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A question: if Deok-ro and San are so closely related, then how is Deok-ro’s sister able to become San’s concubine? I thought the Joseon dynasty had strict laws against consanguinity. Or does it affect only paternal relations (members of the same clan) and not so strictly with maternal cousins?

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It affects only paternal relations and not so strictly with maternal links.
They are related but distant.

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I see. I thought it affected paternal and maternal relatives equally. But I guess that’s not the case. Thanks for the information!

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It's really distant- Deok Ro is like San's mother's fourth cousin or something- so not first cousins, which was taboo.

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Beanies, I have a question...
What is the significance/meaning of Deok Im's tattoo?

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If I'm not mistaken, it's a mark of a slave.
(reminds me of CHUNO, aka THE SLAVE HUNTERS).

In history, Yi San set free many government slaves during his reign.

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Oh interesting! I completely forgot about the mark. Fictional Deok Im's parents weren't slaves though, right? 101 reasons for why a recap would've been great but a hangout is good too.

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Deok Im's father was the former CP Sado's guard and when the CP was killed, his guard(s) had been branded traitors. The brother begged Crown Princess Hong for protection then thus she took in Deok Im.

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That make sense! Thank you 😊

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The real Deok Im was not a marked slave. This is probably from the novel.

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Wasn't the tattoo on the neck or (shudder) the face of the slave?

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Yes, the location is questionable but convenient for that scene. 😆

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I saw a comment in twitter saying that it is about being a Noron faction supporter but I don't think that is accurate. Thanks Kiara! 😊

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I’ve never read the novel so I’m not sure why she would have a tattooed in her body beside being marked as a slave during that era.

The Noron supporters weren’t marked with tattoos either so I don’t know what kind of mystery they are going for. 😆

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Chuno!!!! Jang Hyuk! 😭😭😭

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I'm not sure it's the mark of a slave... at least, that's not what the character literally means. It looked like the character ming in Chinese, which means bright. Unless they used that character for slave without considering the other Chinese characters maybe?

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Ah thank you. I’m not sure myself so I hope someone can tell us what it is.

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Viu translated the characters as bright. Dont know what it means though.

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I asked @Mimi on her blog.
I think they are adding more reasons for Deok Im to reject San's proposal.

"When I watched the episode, I initially thought that it was related to slave but then there’s San writing down the character in the scene after that. The characters used to brand slaves were either ‘no’ 奴 or ‘bi’ 婢 but the character on Deok-im’s back was ‘myeong’ 明, meaning bright. I found out that the character can also be read as ‘maeng’ and another way of writing ‘maeng’? The character 盟, meaning vow or promise. Maybe we’re onto something? We shall see…"

https://thetalkingcupboard.com/2021/11/17/the-red-sleeve-notes-and-historical-stuff/

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The Red Sleeve is like hitting it in places that just makes my dramageek heart sing. I just cant seem to get enough of it.
It has been a long time since a saguek has had me in twists and turns, and if feels like TRS is not yet done with making circles of my heart.
They made me laugh, and they made me cry, and they made me go ohh and ahh a all the pretty scenery.
oh gawd ep7 ending makes me faint. I need episode 8 already...!!!

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1. If there's a character that I dislike more than a villian, is the one that doesn't shows it's true colors. Like can I trust you or not, dude, just tell me and don't make me anxious for no reason.
And that's how I feel about Gyeomsaseo and the King.

Well, the king... I don't even know if he can enter in any regular moral standar. This man is probably the most wishy washy King I've seen. I mean, most of the time if a king acts like this is because he's a drunk or has some trauma or ptsd, or something. Otherwise, a king is consistent. But this king... what the heck is wrong with him? One minute he makes me laugh then he makes me mad.

Gyeomsaseo is just suspicious as hell. I don't know what's his deal, his side, his feelings or intentions. I know nothing about him just that his obssesed with the CP, but why? what does it mean?

I hope episode 7 will help me understand a little bit more these two characters.

2. I remember a Flower of Evil interview where Jang Hee Jin said all her characters are evil or pitiful and that she wanted to change that pattern. She just did! I love the Queen! she's graceful, strong and smart. I hope there's no plot twist where she ends up being the worst, we already have two evil women (the Princess H and the Court Lady boss).

Ps. I love Deok Im friends. Deok Im's already one of my favorite FLs this year. I love this show.

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Your second point is why I'm confused with the narrative of queen Kim in Red sleeve. I remember vividly that she was an antagonist in The Kings Face(series), so she being a good person here, I hope it remains so. If all members of the internal court are not allies with him, save for his mom, it'll be sad. And yes she's graceful and rocks her power well. Submitting Princess Hwawan was done right.

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This drama got it right, though. The queen and San's relationship was fine in the beginning.
It wasn't until after he became king that things went downhill between them.

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I was surprised that the Queen is supportive of San. In dramas about older Jeongjo she is shown as his enemy. I wonder what happened to change her?

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So things will end up spiralling downwards between the CP and the Queen. I hope he has a few ministers on his side or Hwawan becomes an ally.

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It had to do with the power struggles during San's reign between the Kims (queen's family) and the Hongs (San's maternal family).

San exiled the queen's older brother after his maternal grandfather and uncle were ousted from the court.
It looks like he was trying to balance power, but it didn't sit well with the queen.

I mainly remember her as the villain behind the Catholic Persecution of 1801.
Yeongjo would probably support it, but San tolerated religious freedom.

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It would be nice to see the Queen being a good person till the end. And you're right, there's no one with real power on CP's side so she would be really helpful.

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I don't see the head court lady as evil. She is committed to do whatever it takes to protect her court ladies, and she's afraid they will be killed again if San is king. So her politics are not evil, they are just in opposition to our ML. She's an antagonist with good intentions.

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Yeah, but she is committed to do whatever it takes to win a battle against a man she doesn't even know. She never gave him a chance.

She manipulates Deok Im's life and has Princess Hwawan as an ally?
Her best plan to avoid the death of her CLs is by using one to manipulating the Prince? If he finds out his love is using him like that, isn't that like a reason for the guy to go mental and kill all the court ladies? If he's that fragil and insane shouldn't she avoid this kind of things?

I don't know, I didn't like her since minute one.
I think the whole "he's going to kill my CLs" is an excuse...
But hey, maybe the poor woman is just traumatized (and Princess Hwawan is not part of her final plan) and I'm getting the wrong vibe.

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Have you watched the latest ep? Your viewpoint might change given another perspective.

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I was planning on watching ep 8 next week but now I feel like I should watch it today, haha.

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I am sorry that I didn’t make it clear that my Qn was posed in response to latebloomer. I agree with your take!

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Omona. I'm sorry, it's my fault, my dumb eyes didn't notice.

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All good!☺️😂

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While I love your perspective, I can't seem to agree with you because its Park Ji Young. Were the head court lady another actress then I'd breathe a little sigh of relief with your analogy.

But then you are right. Though I wonder why they are all scared of him when he hasn't done anything to worry them.

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If what was revealed in ep8 was true then her motivations definitely ain't pure.

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I like this drama but I was more expecting a kind of story like Jang Ok Jung, more serious and less dreamy (even if I really like this warm yellowish filter). So, I can have issue to be totally imerged in the story in the comedic parts.

I found the story pretty slow. I like the love story being slow, the characters connecting before falling in love is important and they are lovely together. But behind the scene, the plot is slow, the CP's secret reunions, the court lady being a ninja assassin, Head Court Lady Jo scheming... After7 episodes, I'm still feeling at the beginning of the story when there are only 16 episodes.

For the episode 7, If I liked the honesty of Head Court Lady Jo, the fact she told Deok-Im she wanted to use her, it looked like she didn't understand Deok-Im at all. Her honesty will have the opposite effect. Deok-Im is a loyal servant but she cherished her freedom of thought. Knowing she was manipulated to become the CP lover, that her own feelings could be used... I felt sad for her.

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Is anybody besides me in shock that a drama this great came from the writer that did "Ruler - Master of the Mask"? Because I did not see it coming...

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As someone said before, the show still has some RULER: Master of the Mask" logic.
This is an improvement nevertheless.

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I didn't watch Master of the Mask, so what is similar between the two?

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I just have to say, I freakin love the BGM. Give the music director ALL the awards. Sets the tone so wonderfully. Ep 8 in particular. THIS IS WHAT I WANTED IN A SAGEUK.

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The music director deserves an award.
It's too bad award shows don't appreciate their talents and hard work.

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