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Under the Queen’s Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

With the Crown Prince deathly ill, there’s nowhere to hide: our heroine must face the consequences before the King. But, her fears are steadily coming true, as a succession crisis looms, and the consorts and court officials begin scheming in double time.

 

EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

With the Crown Prince choking on blood, subtlety takes a swan dive. The King’s face is a stone wall as he promises punishment for those who hid his son’s illness — including his queen. Hwa-ryeong is torn from her dying son’s side. Confined to her room, she is forced to transcribe scholarly texts in penance — a task to which she applies herself with haste, furiously scribbling through the night in the hopes of seeing her son again. Elsewhere, news of the Crown Prince’s ailment tears its way through the palace. No one knows anything for definite. His siblings are barred from his side. All his desperate mother can glean is that he is conscious — barely.

Through the wall, Hwa-ryeong and Seongnam whisper. Has the Crown Prince coughed up blood before? No. Reason might suggest it was the illicit herbs Seongnam brought him that prompted the reaction. Still, Hwa-ryeong is certain this can’t be the case: her son was recovering until recently. One thing’s for sure — this is one secret that could spell their death. ROYAL PHYSICIAN KWON (Kim Jae-bum), who administered the medicine, is holding up admirably under both knifepoint and the Dowager Queen’s steely glare. Nonetheless, hiding information in the palace is like trying to juggle water. Sooner or later, something is bound to spill.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

Seongnam, unsatisfied with his mother’s assurances, steals his way back to Seochon. Here, his sword meets Master Toji’s throat. He demands the truth: was the medicine tampered with? Master Toji recovers uncannily fast from learning that his patient was the heir to the throne. However, despite some cryptic muttering — what goes around comes around hardly strikes one as a patriotic sentiment — he insists the herbs were harmless.

If Master Toji is on level, then something else poisoned the Crown Prince. There’s only one solution: Hwa-ryeong must mobilize. Luckily, she’s a shrewder political operator than her enemies realize. Using her vast network of palace allies, she ensures that the Crown Prince remains under constant watch. However, passively waiting for news is hardly her style. The situation demands audacity. And what could be a bolder move than walking straight out of the palace? Shedding her finery and bowing her head, she emerges from confinement disguised as a court lady.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6 The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

Elsewhere, the court officials converge like vultures before carrion. With the Crown Prince deathly ill, many are clamoring for his deposition, followed by a taekhyeon: that is, a test of merit among the princes to determine who deserves the throne. It’s the method by which the current king ascended. Won-hyeong, the Chief State Councilor, sounds out the Minister of War, YOON SOO-GWANG (Jang Hyun-sung), on his thoughts regarding the Crown Prince. Deposition, yea or nay? In the hopes of swaying him to “yea,” he’ll dangle a juicy piece of bait: whoever takes over as Crown Prince will marry the minister’s daughter. At this suggestion, Soo-gwang is like putty in his hands. After all, his daughter, the incorrigible YOON CHEONG-HA is, by all accounts, a matchmaker’s worst nightmare.

She’s also a delightful trouble magnet. Outside the palace, Cheong-ha glimpses Hwa-ryeong sneaking to a meeting. Luckily, she takes her for a noble lady in pursuit of her lover, and is far too gleeful at the prospect to question it. Little does she know, it’s sadder and more urgent: Hwa-ryeong’s secret rendezvous is with the deposed Queen Yoon. If she was expecting sympathy, she’s sorely disappointed; Queen Yoon betrays nothing but grim satisfaction at the thought of the Crown Prince dying. What is it, if not retribution for her own dead children?

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6 The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

It’s mighty suspicious, opines Hwa-ryeong. Divine retribution rarely looks like a poisoning plot. Queen Yoon reluctantly agrees: in exchange for a future favor, she’ll spill all. The Crown Prince’s illness is a similar story to Prince Taein’s death, but not identical. Prince Taein never coughed up blood clots. Instead, he had unexplained wounds on his body. As for the culprit? She confessed to Queen Yoon’s face. The Dowager Queen killed her son — safe in the knowledge that no one could prove it.

Now, just as they did a generation ago, the court officials sit in the traditional posture of all bureaucrats with a bone to pick: kneeling in neat, implacable rows, chanting in dolorous unison. They demand that the Crown Prince be deposed. That a taekhyeon be held to determine his replacement. The King, silent on his throne, in a room devoid of the politicians who put him there, ponders his next move. Here, the Dowager Queen finds him. She urges him to be decisive. He cannot let an ill child sway him.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

In the end, someone else is decisive in his stead. Hwa-ryeong comes power-walking through the courtyard in a blaze of glorious fury. With all the righteous indignation of a stateswoman royally peeved, she proceeds to tear every official to rhetorical shreds. The Crown Prince has done nothing wrong, she declares. If there is fault, it lies with them, for failing to protect him. As for the Chief State Councilor? She’ll tell him where he can stick his taekhyeon. Her husband, emerging from his kingly sulk, arrives in time to back her up: her words, he declares, are his.

Before things can go further, however, they’re interrupted by a messenger. The Crown Prince is asking for Hwa-ryeong. Back when he was first sick, he asked her to be strong — to protect those he loved, and know he’d be with her, even as he became the wind. It had broken her heart. She had refused to promise. Not yet; not when it meant accepting his death. Now, when Hwa-ryeong rushes to his bedside to cradle his face one last time, her son is already gone. It’s too late to promise. But she promises anyway.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

Hardly has the Crown Prince’s body cooled before the court officials clamor for a taekhyeon. None could be smugger than the Dowager Queen, who listens to her grandchildren (sans, of course, the Grand Princes) spout scholarly principles with pride. Meanwhile, an ugly rumor breaks out across the palace: the Crown Prince was poisoned by his own mother. The King, however, is unswayed; he has newfound faith in his wife. Both mourn together, without blame.

Still, their positions are not equal. Although the King may lock himself up in his grief, refusing to talk of an heir, Hwa-ryeong does not have the luxury of silence. The time has come, she tells her children. They cannot — here, she grips Gyeseong’s hand — continue to live as they did before. One of them must triumph at the taekhyeon. However, her greatest hope, Seongnam, is the most wounded. Crushed by his brother’s death, he contemplates running away. His brother risked everything to bring him to the palace. What’s the point now he’s gone? But he’ll never return to those days in Seochon, where he and the Crown Prince were happy together.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6 The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

The poisoning rumors are serious as a death sentence for the Crown Princess, MIN HWI-BIN (Han Dong-hee). Call it paranoia, or simply prescience — either way, she’s convinced that her son, WON SON (Seo Woo-jin), is in danger. She seeks sanctuary with her mother-in-law, fleeing to her rooms, where Hwa-ryeong keeps a protective eye on both grandchildren. Meanwhile, her children risk life and limb — well, okay, momentary discomfort — in taekhyeon preparation, as they are subjected to terrifying things like ice baths and academic conversation. Hwa-ryeong and Court Lady Shin exchange amused glances: the children are closer than ever.

Others sense opportunity. The Chief State Councilor takes malicious joy in subjecting Physician Kwon to interrogation — an especially brutal move, considering the poor guy’s been stabbed once already and kept shtum. However, he bites off more than he can chew when he tries to imprison Court Lady Shin. Incandescent with rage, Hwa-ryeong bares her teeth at her tormentor. If he wants information, he can question her personally. She’d just love to see him try.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

To nobody’s surprise more than the Won-hyeong’s, it is Consort Hwang who puts an end to his pleasant little power trip. Turns out, Team Treason isn’t quite the unified front they’d like to be; Consort Hwang is something of a loose cannon. She begs Won-hyeong to put an end to his investigation, confessing that she was the one to poison the Crown Prince. But, look, it was only a small poisoning! She hadn’t intended to kill him! Moreover, she had an impressively torture-resistant accomplice. You got it: Physician Kwon.

With all these schemes afoot, it’s little wonder that some are feeling left behind. Consort Tae is increasingly miffed that no one seems to think her son could hack it as an heir. It takes the worldly SPECIAL COURT LADY PARK (Lee So-hee) and a few teacups as visual aids to explain that without noble backing, Bogum’s chances are slim. As a former maid without a machiavellian bone in her body, Consort Tae can’t afford to go toe to toe with the likes of Consort Hwang. But oh, if only she could! Then, maybe her son will forgive her for her humble origins.

Good thing she’s got a secret weapon. Yesterday, she overheard the fact that Hwa-ryeong gave the Crown Prince medicine from outside the palace. Armed with this nugget of information — and some perhaps overly ambitious advice from Special Court Lady Park — she orchestrates a tete-a-tete with the Minister of War. She’ll give him proof of the queen’s misdeeds… but only if he lends Bogum his support.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

Meanwhile, the Chief State Councilor is still partaking in the most popular court pastime — i.e. rampant scheming — only a little more subtly, and with a lot more violence. To wit: he lines up all the witnesses to Physician Kwon’s treatment of the Crown Prince, immediately stabs one… and coaches the others on what to say. This done, he initiates a public trial. The Crown Prince was treated with medicine of dubious origins. This, his (trembling) witnesses can attest. The question is, who gave Physician Kwon the order?

Hwa-ryeong is flawlessly scathing. She had no motive to kill her son. She can’t say the same for the Chief State Councilor. But yes, her son was poisoned — exactly like Prince Taein before him.

After the trial, incensed, the Dowager Queen rounds on Hwa-ryeong. How dare she dredge up the past like this? But oh, Hwa-ryeong dares. Right here, right now, she’s no longer afraid of her murderous mother-in-law. For the second time, Hwa-ryeong all but snarls as they get right up in each other’s faces — but the Dowager Queen gets the last word. She has an unexpected weapon in her arsenal of political blackmail: she knows Hwa-ryeong has been meeting with Queen Yoon. She won’t hesitate to destroy her.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6 The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

Back in her rooms, Hwa-ryeong pastes on a smile and tries to coax her grandson into eating. However, it doesn’t take long for things to strain and crack. Hwa-ryeong sifts through the little Grand Heir’s drawings — only to pause at one. It’s of him and his nursemaid. Apparently, they’re playing their “secret game.”

Secret game? Hwa-ryeong squints at the picture. One adult figure is holding a needle to the smaller figure’s leg. Sure enough — Son has a series of pockmark scars on his thigh. Shrieking in horror, Hwa-ryeong springs to action, shaking the child and commanding him to spit out the food that he has long since swallowed. Behind them, the silver spoon blackens — a sure sign of poison.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6 The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

How the plot thickens, folks! With scheme upon scheme no matter which way you turn, this is some high-quality palace plotting, and I am here for it. Kim Hye-soo is a hurricane in human form: I was blown away more times than I can count. Although I adore it when Hwa-ryeong throws her authority, what truly sticks out for me are those moments of tenderness with her children — whether she’s fiercely shielding them from oncoming danger, or lovingly subjecting them to horrible baths. Political power, maternal love, and agency are all bound up in one with this character — never once do the writers suggest there’s any contradiction between her identity as mother and her indomitable will as a stateswoman. Neither overshadows the other, and nor do the two clash. It’s incredibly refreshing to see.

Another thing I enjoy about this drama is how it’s steadily exploring each female character as a political actor, with genuine strengths and weaknesses. Hwa-ryeong is brave, whip-smart, and capable, but she underestimates the duplicity of others — it strikes me that she’s still in shock, having realized how much danger she’s in. She never saw it coming. She still hasn’t quite learned to expect the worst. Consort Hwang is a would-be kingmaker, but she’s prone to impulsiveness: it may come back to haunt her if she alienates her powerful allies. Special Court Lady Park seems much more savvy than the naive Consort Tae — but then, how much of that is hubris? How much can any of them predict the lengths to which the others will go? I can’t wait to see how this tangled web unravels.

The Queen's Umbrella: Episodes 5-6

 
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Great recap as always @alathe - thanks!

One thing I love: the way the queen is an intellectual force of nature as well as having a strong personality. She is more than capable of zipping through Confucius; every time she learns something, she's analysing what that might mean, and 9 times out of 10 is predicting it correctly. Although she is formidable intellectually, but this doesn't make her a superhero - she is still vulnerable and can be confined, removed or killed within minutes if her guard is down. This keeps it all very interesting.

One thing I liked less: her response to Prince Seongnam's desire to leave the palace. Yes, I appreciate the sense behind what she is saying. However, her tone as she dealt with Seongnam was so different to Gyeseong that it brought raised eyebrows. With the latter, she was supportive - the portrait made - and allowed Gyeseong to have the time with her to see and feel her acceptance and understanding. With Seongnam, she played the guilt card - the Crown Prince was the one that brought you here; are you going to stab him in the back by leaving? Considering we've been led to believe that the Queen feels significant guilt for abandoning Seongnam to the village as a child, why's she being harsh with him here? Are we supposed to assume that the mother knows her children's personalities best and is treating them accordingly? I'm less satisfied...

Big prize to Bae Inhyuk for having to spend most of his screen time lying asleep or being a corpse. All those hours in costume and make-up for that. Hope they paid you well, mate.

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I was hoping Bae In-hyuk's character's fate would be pushed much farther. I am enjoying his acting here so much.

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For me in that scene I actually saw her asking him "what would your elder brother do? What would your elder brother want you to do?"

Instead I saw her telling him yes harshly, that you are now the elder brother and unfortunately you now have the job to protect the younger ones as the late prince did you...

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Another cliffhanger. There better not be another death, especially an innocent child.

I like the king. He's intelligent, seems fair and won't be made into a puppet. Actually, he and the queen would be the perfect partners.

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The big fight started. Because of the greed of their parents, if the Princes are not chosen, they will probably killed being a threat to the Crown Prince, like ex-Queen Yoon's sons.

For the Queen, Seongnam is the best candidate. I hope we will get new flashbacks between him and his brother, they were so cute together.

Consort Hwang put at risk her clan by killing the Crown Prince. But Prince Uiseong is a tyrant in the making, so I won't feel bad for her.

I really hope that Prince Bogum won't become villain by trying to find support because his mother doesn't have any. I really liked her scenes where Special Court Lady Park must explain her the situation.

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There's something about Prince Uiseong that puts me at ease. All the Prince Uiseong's in Sagueks never ascend the throne nor do they die natural deaths. Its a wrong thing to bank upon but I won't deny that seeing this particular unchanging fate of Uiseong's puts me at 'bad guy' peace.

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I think my biggest gripe with the story is that it sometimes feel like the characters are smart... but them they also feel incredibly stupid as a result.

Nobody considered poison when the otherwise healthy crown prince spit blood suddenly? Nobody? The queen's moment of mobilizing the servants on her side was epic, but all it amounted to was "keep me informed" and "make sure he is not alone", and he died anyway. After that, the network disappeared, nobody in that network seemed relevant enough that they learned anything of importance and thought to tell their mistress? She had gotten servants everywhere, but not by the concubines, or the dowager? "Hey, so it seems like the Consort sneaked out" or the like?

And the queen know that there is poison involved with the crown prince, somehow, so even though it looks safe, all his son gets is a quick silver spoon check and then eat? Did the servants not test this much ahead of time, to be sure? Again, it was smart of her to take the princess and er children in and test the food, but after that they just got sloppy.

Also, that idiotic moment where they speak clearly and loudly enough that someone outside could hear them. There are no servants outside that would loudly declare a guest's presence, or a pair of servants/guards by every door, like we often see? This lead to our most naive and idiotic player with a card to use, because for some reason she thinks it is clever to get her son with no true support on the throne when the previous crown prince was poisoned.

In general, the protagonist and the good people's moments of intelligence and awesomeness in turn only make their moments of stupidity look even more stupid, because I expect more of them. I like the show and I love the characters, but sometimes it feels contrived how they end up where they do, and it frustrates me.

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1. Personally, I'm not sure the CP died from poisoning. Consort Hwang said that what she gave him wouldn't cause him to spill blood, so maybe his sickness really killed him. The Queen might also believe that he died of natural causes but has understood that something happened to make Councillor Hwang suddenly drop the poisoning issue (she mentioned during the interogation how he moved from poison to outside herbs) and is using the poisoning (of both the former CP and CP Taein) to make him stop the investigation again.
2. I don't think the poisoning method used on the Grand Heir is so simple. Maybe the poison is given through the needle and spreads in the body but is activated only when combined to certain ingredients in the food (so the spoon became black bcs it was in his mouth not ncs it touched the dish). The court lady who ate the same food had no issues.
3. No idea why she doesn't use her network more. I guess the Queen never cared to keep track of every movement of the concubines or the QD so she didn't plant people around them. Until recently, her position was absolutely secure and her biggest worry was keeping her younger sons under control so most of the people were in areas somehow connected to them.
4. As you said, Consort Tae can't be accused of having much brains so she simply doesn't think about the future. And there's also the Special Court Lady who seems to manipulate her a little.

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Also, I re-watched the scene again, and there are no servants who announce a guest's arrival because Consort Tae was behind one of the interior windows, not at the door. You have to take the corner on the right to get to the main chamber's entrance where the maids usually are.

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I was truly hoping Seja would make a full recovery but alas.
One big character disappointment for me was Prince Bo-gum. For some stupid reason he discarded his usual prudence and decided to egg on (or rattle the cage) of Prince Uiseong. Dumb.
Prince Seongnam is the natural successor to his brother as Crown Prince.

Sidebar. Just tossing this out there. Iirc deposed Queen Yoon has one surviving son. If way late in the story it is proven the Dowager murdered the late King and Queen Yoon’s son Crown Prince Taein, wouldn’t this surviving son have a claim on the throne?

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@marcusnyc20 bong-soo

Sidebar: History
I'm not watching the show yet, but this would be similar to Yeonsangun and deposed Queen Yoon, his biological mother.
Yoon was deposed and executed, and to save her son as the only heir to the throne, Queen Jeonghyeon, his father's 3rd queen, adopted him. He ascended the throne without knowing who his birth mother was, and we all know what happened to Joseon during his reign.

Sons of a deposed queen have no claim to the throne unless the reigning queen legally adopts them.

Ref: QUEEN INSO is one heck of a sageuk. Jung Ha-yeon is an excellent writer.

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SPOILER AHEAD. Warning.
1. As always thanks @kiara for your thoughts on these things. A couple of thoughts.
In UTQU our Queen Im (Kim Hye-soo) desperate to find out if what Seja is dying of is the same that deposed Queen Yoon’s son died of 20 years earlier meets a second time (very dangerously) with Queen Yoon. Yoon agrees to reveal what she knows on condition that later Queen Im agree to a favor she will ask of her. Queen Im accepts the condition. We as viewers are totally in the dark on that favor however based on your observations I now wonder if the favor will concern concern her surviving son. While in banishment her other young sons were killed.
2. The 60 episode (oh my!) drama QUEEN INSOO (2011/12) is available on VIki US.

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Queen Yoon's surviving son has a disability so no chance to inherit the throne. That's why he is still alive.

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I enjoyed the Queen reaming out the court officials. I liked getting a little more insight into the King. He's fair and loves his sons but is not as fierce as the Queen. I think they could make a formidable duo if not for his mother.

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So far I feel prince Bo gum is the perfect fit for the crown prince position. I think the King also feels the same. Prince Seongnam is way too empathic so sometimes very emotional. Bo gum is empathic and takes wise decisions and doesn't let emotions play him. We saw this when the King questioned them about the plaque situation. He has the qualities that evil Uiseong and good Seongnam don't have.
But too bad he has no backing and I hope he doesn't become evil. I am glad he stood up to evil Uiseong.

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THIS à 100 times this, I keep on saying I will put my eggs in prince bi-gum's mother's basket... She might be naive and slow but she has a great king in the making who at his own will and without any push from his mother or backing studies because he sees fit... He knows he can't be king so he studies because he wants to know and find out new things...

He has the good sides of the other boys... The empathy, the rational and because of can analyse very well the possible Ruthlessness needed in some cases...

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Prince Bogum is good but he's an intellectual. For me, he's more an advisor than somebody you want to follow.

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He seems a little too good to be real. In the past two episodes I felt like he plays the role of the intelligent and compassionate, but humble prince because he knows that's what the King likes to see from his sons. Unlike Uiseong who has a strong maternal family and doesn't have to hide his real personality, Bogeom would've learnt early to conceal his feelings. And there was that somehow happy expression while looking at the Crown Prince's bloody seat.

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I really like that the focus of this drama are the females, Queen, Dowager Queen and the concubines. Everything they are willing to do to "survive". It was an eye opener for me on how deep the DQ's resentment was towards the Queen. Her inferiority complex, greed and jealousy is whats driving her actions. Its not really to "protect" the country. All of the boys are her grandsons so it should not be an issue who will takeover as CP. I am glad that the Queen is intelligent and resourceful. She needs nerves of steel to go up against the DQ and the scheming ministers and concubines.

I like Prince Bogeom and I fear for his safety since his ambitious mama is naively playing the game. I think she will be in over her head soon enough since I doubt the War Minister and his cronies will ever favor Prince Bogeom.

I am surprised at the connection between Consort Hwang and the doctor. It makes me now question Prince Uiseong's legitimacy. I like Chani but I fear his portrayal of Uiseong is becoming one note. I like my bad guys nuanced and complex but I fear that Uiseong is just nasty for the sake of it. I tend to dismiss him and just focus on the other princes.

I do want to see more confrontation and machinations between the Queen and Dowager Queen. I am staying tuned for them and the grand princes.

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I'm equally questioning his parentage. But then, this isn't the first a woman of the Internal Court has a man who's not the King pinning for her without anything going on, more like a look but can't touch nor have. Mr. Queen had it with Royal Noble Consort Eui and the king's brothers. Somehow I have forgotten other kdrama examples.

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Above I mentioned that I thought Prince Seongnam is the natural successor to his brother as Crown Prince.
However, there is precedent for the appointment of a young child as Crown Prince. King Sejong (1397-1440) appointed his 8 year old son Yi Hang as Crown Prince in 1421. He was heir apparent for 29 years until ascending to the throne in 1450 upon his fathers’s death.
So in UTQU King Yi Ho could (try to) appoint his grandson Won Son as Crown Prince.

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Correction. Make King Sejong’s dates 1397-1450.

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But Yi Hyang was Sejong's SON, not grandson (it was extremely common for legitimate eldest sons to be invested as heir when they were very young).
There are four cases in Joseon's history of dead Crown Princes leaving behind sons.
The first is CP Uigyeong (son of King Sejo). His sons, Prince Wolsan (3 years old) and Prince Jalsan (1 month old), were sent out of the palace with their mother (future Queen Insu) and sister, while Uigyeong's younger brother, Grand Prince Haeyang (7 years old), became the new Crown Prince and later took the throne as King Yejong. However, he was succeeded by his nephew, Prince Jalsan (now 12 years old), instead of his own son, Yi Hyeon (3 years old) or eldest nephew, Prince Wolsan (now 15 years old). While age was used as an excuse, this partly happened because Yejong had the bad luck of losing the son he had with his first wife (third daughter of Chief State Councillor Han Myeong-hoe), while Jalsan was married to Han Myeong-hoe's fourth daughter.
The second case is CP Sohyeon (son of King Injo). This one is more complicated as he died under mysterious circumstances and was buried quickly. He left behind three sons (9 years old, 5 years old and 1 year old), but his younger brother, Grand Prince Bongrim (26 years old) was named Crown Prince. Sohyeon's wife was executed for treason the following year and their sons were sent into exile (the eldest two boys died two years later).
The other two cases are CP Sado and CP Hyomyeong (sons of King Yeongjo, and King Sunjo, respectively). In both cases, the dead princes were the only sons of the monarch and by this point, the last King who had more than one surviving son (who also produced more than one surviving grandson) was King Injo (Yeongjo's great-great-grandfather and Sunjo's 5×great-grandfather). They didn't have much choice, so they had to appoint their young grandsons (Yi San=King Jeongjo and Yi Hwan=King Heonjong) as the new heir (because of the whole Sado affair, Yeongjo had to bend backwards to secure the positions of his grandchildren, particularly Yi San). And then, the succession after the death of the childless Heonjeong is too messy for me to start explaining right now (and it has no business with this subject anyways).
So, technically Grand Prince Seongnam just has to marry the Minister of War's daughter to become the new Crown Prince. He already has the brains, the character, the required age and is also the eldest living son of the Queen. He only needs a strong supporter in the royal court.

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"What goes around comes around" - Master Toji.
Hmm, he must be the royal physician who escaped the palace in the past.

The King is thoughtful and fair, but he doesn't have a lot of power and backing. It is true that most of the court officials/ministers could easily turn on him. Especially because of his origin.

I loved that Hwa Ryeong was so fierce in her speech to all of them. And then the King backing her up was a nice moment.

Another touching moment was when she clasped Gyeseong's hand when she talked about the changes now and how the Grand Princes can no longer do as they wish.

I'm really curious why Seongnam was the only prince who was kept away from the palace when he was younger.

It was interesting to see Consort Hwang freak out and break out of her cold, haughty shell. Looks like Physician Kwon is so loyal to her because he likes her.

It was mostly politics this week, but I managed to get through it ok. Would like to see less of Chief State Councilor.

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Just a few thoughts on this dram
- maybe just wishful thinking but I seriously feel like there’s more to the king and queens relationship. Apart from deep respect for each other I sense love but feel they are held apart because of the dowager.
- this drama being called Under the Queens Umbrella I feel like not only will she have to protect her sons, but also some of the other concubines sons and maybe even the king. Prince Bogum and his mother are heading down a very dangerous path by taking on a fight they can’t handle and our queen will have to step up to protect them.
- I’m still unsure of Prince Seongnyangs back story. Why was he the only one of her sons that grew up outside the palace. I feel like he may not be her biological son( maybe he was the son of a concubine who died) and she adopted him.
Just my thoughts

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I doubt there's any dead concubine. Sons of concubines could be raised by the Queen if she had no sons of her own, but here it doesn't make sense. They'd never pretend he is her biological second son (giving him legitimacy/great claim to the throne and making him heir presumptive) when she has three other younger sons. At most, if he was truly the child of the King with another woman, Seongnam would've been raised by one of the many concubines. Never as the biological son of the Queen. We were also told that he was taken from the Queen as soon as he was born and she allowed him to grow up in the village because she believed it was the only way to protect him. She used to go the village and cry while watching him (until he saw her, and then she brought the Crown Prince). Why would the Queen cry for someone else's child?

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As much as it’s a historical drama, it’s also very much a work of fiction. The writers have taken creative liberty with a lot of the show such as her even coming out of the palace as much as she does as a queen and even the dowager donning the dragon emblem. It’s not that much of a stretch that he would be an adopted son. Technically all the concubines children are the queens and if the writers wanted to use that angle to make the story more interesting they can go with it. Queen Yoons story is a foil for the queen and based on your comment then the current king would never have been king because she still had 4 presumptive heirs when he was made crown prince. The drama is literally about the throne not passing on to the rightful heirs. If I remember correctly the literal translation for that scene was not “you were taken from ME right after you were born” even tho that’s how it was translated. If I remember correctly she said he was taken away right after he was born. Even tho she’s a queen, she clearly has a mothers heart, why wouldn’t she cry for someone else’s child?

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She said he was taken after his birth and she was too weak. She gave birth to him. He can't be adopted.

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Yes too weak as a queen, not too weak physically from giving birth. She went on to also point out that the CP was able to do what even she as a queen couldn’t. I know it’s far fetched but it’s possible.

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Holy crap i’m loving this drama but the constant wondering of “are they gonna live / die / get beheaded or poisoned” sure is stressful.

“Although I adore it when Hwa-ryeong throws her authority, what truly sticks out for me are those moments of tenderness with her children” — the scene that stole my heart was when she was about to be separated from the CP and desperately grabbed his hand while he lay unconscious. Such stellar acting from the Queen! Also thank God for a King that’s not easily swayed by his ministers, i hope he stays ahead of them til the end.

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