I know this is way too late. I thought of dropping the reviews altogether because I have lost some of my enthusiasm for this drama. I am just watching this drama for Jo Hyun Jae, and when he appears very little in the drama I quickly lose interest. The story isn’t holding much of my interest anymore either the way it used to in the early episodes. But there are JHJ fans who don’t understand English very well who have requested me to continue even if the reviews are late. It seems they are using my posts to translate the drama to their own language.
I put all 4 episodes in just one review because they have one common theme – the search for the truth. As Seolnan investigates Chae Hwa’s past, the Queen questions her father about Chae Hwa, and Bi Moon is busy tracking down the owner of the black jade ring found among Sado’s personal effects. While everyone is busy running here and there, our Crown Prince Myeong Nong is mostly ensconced in his pavilion working on his plum blossom painting.
Most of what occurred in this episode is very literal, but there are a few scenes here and there that made me think a lot, hence it took me some time to write this post.
There are a lot of unnecessary scenes in these 4 episodes, it would have been better for the drama if these 4 episodes were lumped into 1.5 episodes, at most 2 episodes. I was really looking forward to the confrontation between Seolnan and Seolhee, but because of the slow pace of the episodes and the amount of unnecessary scenes, by the time they got there, I could not appreciate the scene that much anymore.
Court officials are in their meeting room discussing Sunimun and Kimun. Yon and ally are saying the King should have killed Sunimun while he was still in Baekje so they could get Kimun right away. However, Marshal Hae and ally say that it would have been a bad idea for Sunimun to die while in Baekje, as this could cause an international incident.
King and Crown Prince arrive. The King tells the court officials that, “It is easy to win by waging war on those who are weaker than us. But that would lay waste to Kimun. I want Kimun to be fully intact when I get it.”
Yon asks if the King is sending assassins to Kimun. Yon’s ally agrees, since Sunimun tried to assassinate King Muryeong, retaliating in kind would be justifiable. King asks for Marshal Hae’s opinion.
Hae says that if the assassination attempt fails, Baekje will become a laughing stock. The only realistic course of action is for Sunimun to give Kimun to Baekje willingly. Marshal Hae adds that Sunimun used to be a good and wise ruler, but that he has changed since then, but he may still have love for his people. Hae’s ally agrees with Marshal Hae saying that they cannot lose the Kimun jade trade, so Baekje have to show Sunimun that it is in their best interest to come under Baekje’s protection.
Yon says that this is not an easy task. Then Hongrim enters and informs the King that the Queen sent tea for everyone. The court ladies, including Seolnan, serve the tea. Crown Prince and Seolnan make googly eyes at each other. (Flirting Baekje style. LOL…. I really need a laugh right now.)
King and Marshal Hae talk about the Kimun issue at King’s pavilion. Marshal Hae advises the King that even if it ends up in war, the King should first try to talk to Sunimun. Marshal Hae suggests sending Seolnan to Kimun to assess the situation, and find a way to get Kimun without waging war on Kimun. The King refuses to send Seolnan because he knows that the Crown Prince has feelings for her, and because the Queen is fond of her.
Comment: Highlights 1 and 2 set the foundation of what will happen in future episodes. Marshal Hae keeps mentioning that Sunimun used to be a good and wise king, but he has changed. Maybe when Seolnan gets to Kimun, she will find out what it is that changed Sunimun, the information will then be used to help Baekje convince Sunimun to look on Baekje as big brother/protector rather than enemy. Or maybe Seolnan will be able to make Sunimun fall in love with her and ask her to marry him. And since she believes Crown Prince is her brother, there is no future for them as husband and wife, Seolnan will agree to become Sunimun’s wife. Seolnan will sacrifice herself just to get Kimun for the Crown Prince, the King, and Baekje. Why not? The Writer has already turned her character into someone who is actively seeking martyrdom, she will do anything and everything for the people she loves, right? (I hope everyone knows I am being sarcastic here. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Writer goes down this road.)
Dorim explains to Dae Un her plan to find out the owner of the black jade ring: I gave the black jade rings to vain and frivolous girls. Most court ladies are afraid of getting caught and don’t wear jewelry. But they will want to show off such a precious ring to others. Someone is bound to recognize it. I instructed the girls to tell anyone who asks that they got it from me. Whoever gave it to Sado will come here and look for me. And whoever does that is the ring’s owner.
> Queen’s court lady notices one of the maids wearing the black jade ring. Court lady asks the maid where she got it. Queen says the ring looks familiar to her. Before the maid could answer, the Queen dismisses the maid. Queen dismisses the incident when court lady scolds her for being lax.
> Seolhee’s maid, Nae Un, recognizes the black jade ring another maid is wearing as similar to the one Seolhee owns. Nae Un brings Seolhee’s attention to the ring. Seolhee denies that it is her ring, but asks the maid how she came by it. The maid tells Seolhee that the ring is from the lady from the solarium.
A maid tells Dorim that the Queen recognized the ring. Another maid comes in and angrily returns the ring to Dorim because she was nearly accused of being a thief because of it. But the maid didn’t say who recognized the ring she is wearing. However, Seolhee and Nae Un show up at the solarium. Seolhee tells Dorim that she just likes flowers that is why she dropped by. Dorim tries to provoke a reaction from her by making sure Seolhee sees the black jade ring she is wearing. Seolhee notices the ring, but did not say anything about it.
Later, Dorim tells Dae Un that 2 people from the palace recognized the black jade ring – the Queen and SBH. But only SBH went to the solarium. Dorim adds that SBH is sly.
Dorim: SBH recognized the ring but didn’t say a word about it. The King is receiving her again. This latest fiasco just shows how much he adores her. No one else would have survived it, except SBH. First, we need to be sure. What was between Sado and SBH, how did he get the ring. We need answers.
Crown Prince and Seolnan are in his office. Seolnan watches as the Crown Prince paints plum blossoms.
Myeong Nong: Winter blossoms. You can smell them on snowy days.
Seolnan puts her face near the painting and tells the Crown Prince that she thinks she can smell the plum blossoms. Crown Prince urges Seolnan to try painting. Seolnan balks at first saying that she can write characters, but she is not good in drawing. Crown Prince recalls their time inside the storehouse when Seolnan drew a message. But he convinces her to still try it. Crown Prince teaches Seolnan what to do.
Myeong Nong: Think of the loveliest blossom you have ever seen. Let the tip of your brush be filled with its fragrance.
Then Crown Prince tells Seolnan they may have found someone who knows Makgeum. Crown Prince tells Seolnan that he could have tracked down Makgeum and brought the former servant to Seolnan, but because of Seolnan’s request, he decided to tell Seolnan first about Makgeum. Seolnan requests if she could see Makgeum immediately, Crown Prince gives her permission.
Crown Prince asks again why the search for Makgeum has taken precedence over her search for her younger sister. Seolnan hesitates replying again. And again the Crown Prince tells Seolnan that she doesn’t have to tell him. Seolnan promises to tell him: “I will tell you. I can lie to others, but not to you.” (LIAR ALERT!!!)
Comment: I wrote a post regarding the meaning of the plum blossom. If you have not read it yet, you can go to this link.
Seolhee suspects Marshal Hae of trying to get something on her by using the solarium. Nae Un disabuses Seolhee of this possibility. Seolhee believes her, but tells Nae Un that she doesn’t trust anything from the solarium anymore. She orders Nae Un to remove from her room everything that came from the solarium, except the plant Jinmu gave her. Jinmu hears this from outside, and smirks.
Seolhee (to self): Something is wrong. Seolnan doesn’t trust me. Someone is checking up on me. I have to stop it. If I don’t….
Jinmu apologizes for his forwardness earlier (kissing Seolhee), but insists that his intentions are sincere. Seolhee replies that she cannot accept him because of what happened in the past between her Baekga and King Dongseong. Jinmu insists that she can trust him. Seolhee then asks Jinmu to help track down Makgeum, her grandfather’s former slave, if he wants her to trust him. Seolhee tells him that she wants to know more about her mom, that’s why she is looking for Makgeum. Jinmu orders Uichi to track down Makgeum.
Comments: Seolhee is starting to become paranoid about the people around her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is also having nightmares every night. Pretty soon she will suspect anyone of being her enemy if they so much as whisper in her vicinity. She is going bonkers!
Crown Prince gives Seolnan a seal used by people who are on royal business. Crown Prince tells her that she might need it. After Seolnan has left, Crown Prince wonders why he is worried.
>Kangbok takes Seolnan to the man who might know Makgeum. We find out from the man that Makgeum has been helping other former slaves who ran away from Baek Ga’s household. The man refuses at first to divulge Makgeum’s whereabouts, but Seolnan reminds the man what happens to runaway slaves. The man tells Seolnan that he is meeting Makgeum the next day in Gudul.
>Jinmu’s man tracks down one of Baek Ga’s slaves. This man is Makgeum’s aide. At first the man denies knowing Makgeum, but Uichi threatens to expose him as a runaway slave.
>Dae Un showed Sado’s black jade ring to Marshal Hae. He informed M. Hae that Dorim told him that whoever owns the ring is the one behind Sado. A trap was set, and both the Queen and SBH recognized the ring. Marshal Hae advises Dae Un to talk to Nae Un directly.
Nae Un goes to solarium and is questioned by Marshal Hae, Dorim and Dae Un. Dorim shows the black jade ring to Nae Un and asks her if it belongs to SBH. Nae Un replies that it looks like the one SBH owns. She asks them where they found it. Dae Un replies that he found it among Sado’s things. Nae Un says that she often saw Sado looking at SBH, clealy infatuated with the Princess. Dorim asks if SBH reciprocated Sado’s feelings.
Nae Un: He was just another slave to her. Nothing more, nothing less. She wasn’t above hiring out for other work. Scums who will do anything for money. She left the palace to do it. Give me time. She is not herself lately, but when she goes out again, I will learn more.
Dae Un: No need. I will send someone else. Tell me about these scums.
Nae Un: No. They still work for SBH. I know them. They won’t suspect me. Anyone else, and SBH might get suspicious. So, please leave it to me
After Nae Un left, Marshal Hae orders Dae Un to assign someone to Nae Un.
Marshal Hae: You know the best way to hide a lie. Inside the truth. Combine them and it is hard to tell which is which.
Dorim to Dae Un: If nothing else, we have to prove her honesty.
Dae Un talks to Nae Un alone.
Dae Un: You came to Bi Moon when you were only 12 years old. You wanted to save your mother and we helped. Never a word of complaint from you.
Nae Un: My mother is alive because of you.
Dae Un: Nae Un, when I was young I willingly sent my men to death. I thought it was right. But not anymore. If your life is in danger, you must run away. Understood?
Nae Un: Why? You taught me to be faithful unto death.
Dae Un: Faith? What is that? Can you eat it? I have no one left. No one, nothing. So please, don’t you die on me too. Okay? You are such a crybaby. How did you make it through training?
Nae Un to self: Give me one more clue, Princess. Just one more clue.
Comment: Dae Un is so emotionally attached to his people. I fear that if Nae Un dies (she did already), Dae Un might become reckless and tackle Seolhee on his own, and she just might kill him. I like the Dae Un character, so I hope he doesn’t die. But the minor characters in this drama who find out that Seolhee is not the real SBH are ending up dead.
> Crown Prince is working on another plum blossom painting in his office, the first one was damaged when Seolnan dropped red ink on it. The King arrives, and asks him for the second time about the woman he would like to marry. Crown Prince is about to inform the King of his choice, but the King interrupted and told him that he will ask again in a few days. King says that he will support whomever the Crown Prince chooses. The King tells him that the Crown Prince is not tied to tradition and that he should follow his heart.
> Makgeum’s man tells Uichi that he works for Makgeum. When Jinmu and Uichi arrive at her place, Makgeum has already left for Gudul.
Seolnan finally meets Makgeum. Seolnan doesn’t tell Makgeum that she is Chae Hwa’s daughter, instead she tells Makgeum that she is someone from the government. She convinces Makgeum to talk about Chae Hwa’s past by promising her that she is not after Baekga’s runaway slaves, and by showing Makgeum the seal the Crown Prince gave her before she left the palace. Seolnan tells Makgeum that she is there to identify Chae Hwa and they have traced Makgeum as someone who can help with that. Makgeum asks Seolnan to take her to Kalim.
> Jinmu encounters the King. King apologizes to Jinmu for losing his temper during their last conversation. Jinmu reminds King about his promise to look for a bride for him.
>Jinmu informs Seolhee that he has tracked down Makgeum. Seolhee asks Jinmu to take her to Makgeum.
Crown Prince is still working on his plum blossom painting in his office. Kangbok reports that he has taken Seolnan to that person who knows Makgeum. Kangbok also reports that he didn’t follow Seolnan as per Crown Prince’s instructions.
Kangbok: But if you are so curious (about Seolnan’s purpose for wanting to talk to Makgeum), why not have her followed.
Myeong Nong: It is hers to do. Also, I will only believe what I hear directly.
>Queen asks Marshal Hae if he knew about Chae Hwa.
>Seolnan and Kuchon almost meet.
>Dorim contemplates black jade ring.
>Dae Un assigns Ttoldae and Manggu as guards at Seolhee’s pavilion.
>Seolhee and Jinmu leave palace to go to Makgeum’s place. But upon arriving at her place, they find out that Makgeum hasn’t returned yet.
>Nae Un goes to 3 goonies Seolhee hired to follow Seolnan.
>Seolnan and Makgeum finally reach Kalim. They go to the ruins of Baekga’s former residence.
The Queen and Seolnan separately hear Chae Hwa’s story from 2 different people. The Queen finds out from her father, Marshal Hae; Seolnan from Makgeum. I am sure both the Queen and Seolnan hear basically the same story. I am not going to re-tell the story of the King and Chae Hwa anymore, I am sure everybody knows that already. However, I have listed below some of the reactions and insights of the 2 storytellers and their listeners regarding the story.
> Seolnan wonders if the Chae Hwa in Makgeum’s story is really her mom. (Comment: Really? She is still wondering about this?)
> Queen asks Marshal Hae why Baekga had King Dongseong killed. Instead of admitting how his own poison-tongue pushed Baekga into killing King Dongseong, Marshal Hae tells Queen that Baekga was just a foolish man.
> Makgeum tells Seolnan that smooth-talkers convinced the Field Marshal that Chae Hwa and Baek Ga planned the treason together. But Chae Hwa really didn’t know that her father has become a traitor.
> Makgeum tells Seolnan that Field Marshal cast aside Chae Hwa so easily because Field Marshal didn’t trust Chae Hwa. Field Marshal didn’t believe that Chae Hwa wasn’t involved in Baekga’s treasonous act.
Comment: I have forgotten that the Field Marshal didn’t trust Chae Hwa that is why he cast her aside. Will history repeat itself between Crown Prince and Seolnan? With all the lies Seolnan has been telling and will be telling the Crown Prince, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Crown Prince won’t trust Seolnan anymore. It is either the Crown Prince’s love for Seolnan is too great that he will be able to forgive all her lies. Or Seolnan will take an arrow for the Crown Prince, thus proving to him how much she loves him. (Because the Writer is bent on turning Seolnan into a martyr, I would vote for the second option.)
Makgeum and Seolnan dig up a box Chae Hwa buried after her meeting with the Field Marshal on that fateful night more than 20 years ago when the Field Marshal cast her aside. Chae Hwa told Makgeum to deliver the box if she doesn’t survive that night, but she doesn’t say to whom the box should be delivered.
Makgeum mentions that Kuchon was the one who saved Chae Hwa from the fire. Here Seolnan finally believes that indeed the great love of the King is her mother Chae Hwa.
Inside the box are the baby clothes that Chae Hwa sew and embroidered so many years ago for her baby. Makgeum tells Seolnan that Chae Hwa was pregnant with the Field Marshal’s baby when he surrounded Kalim. Chae Hwa told her to give the clothes to the baby should she be imprisoned, not thinking that her father would commit suicide. Makgeum adds that the child should be 21 by now if it is alive.
Seolnan finally knows that she is the real SBH. She requests for the clothes, saying that it will be used as evidence in her investigation of Chae Hwa. Makgeum asks that she continue to look for Chae Hwa. Seolnan doesn’t tell her that Chae Hwa is dead already.
There is a long sequence of Seolnan talking to self. There is a part where she thanks Kuchon for saving her life, by saving Mom’s life. Then Seolnan tells herself that Kuchon is the only one Dad for her.
Comment: I can understand why Seolnan didn’t tell Makgeum she is the daughter of Chae Hwa when they first met in episode 73. But why can’t she tell Makgeum the truth before they parted? During their entire time together (2 episodes), Makgeum has shown great love and respect for her former mistress. Wasn’t that enough for Seolnan to trust the woman even just a little? Okay, fine, I can still forgive not telling Makgeum that she is Chae Hwa’s daughter. But couldn’t Seolnan give the woman even just a hint that Chae Hwa is already dead? Isn’t it a bit cruel to leave the woman still wondering about Chae Hwa? And now, Makgeum even believes that someone in the government is trying to clear up Chae Hwa’s name. Or maybe Seolnan is protecting Makgeum in her own way. What Makgeum doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Seolnan is protecting Makgeum, she is protecting everyone else already, why not add another person on her list, right?
Marshal Hae continues telling Chae Hwa’s story to the Queen: Baekga killed himself. Chae Hwa disappeared. It was said she died. We believed that for 20 years, until SBH showed up.
Queen finally understands why the King adores SBH so much and why he can’t forget Chae Hwa. Queen promises to be nicer to SBH from then on. Marshal Hae tells himself that what happened to Chae Hwa was because of him, so SBH’s hatred of him is karma.
Comment: At least Marshal Hae is honest with himself, if not with his daughter, regarding his role in all this sorry mess. Actually, he is the #1 liar in this sorry mess. It was his lies and innuendos that convinced Baekga to kill Dongseong, and make Field Marshal distrust Chae Hwa. But Baekga and Field Marshal were culpable as well, they believed his words. Especially the Field Marshal, he believed Marshal Hae’s words without checking.
Dae Un reports to Dorim that he has assigned Bi Moon men as guards at SBH’s pavilion. Dae Un says something to Dorim that I find interesting.
Dae Un: Looking at you, I see loyalty carries its own burden. You swore allegiance to Koguryo, yet here you are in Baekje. Loyalty is like that, in Koguryo you are a hero, but here in Baekje you are a traitor.
Dorim asks what Dae Un meant, Dae un replies that he is just thinking.
Comment: I wonder too what he means. Is he suspecting Dorim’s motives? Anyone would like to share their ideas?
Makgeum arrives at her place to find Jinmu, Seolhee and Uichi waiting for her. They tell her they are from the government, there to ask her some questions. Makgeum tells them that she has already told what she knows to another government official. Seolhee asks her some questions that made Seolhee conclude that Makgeum is referring to Seolnan.
Makgeum tells them that she has told the other government official that Chae Hwa is not a traitor, and that she has given the evidence to that person. Seolhee staggers out of Makgeum’s place, followed by Jinmu. Uichi warns Makgeum not to tell anyone about what happened there.
Seolnan arrives back at the palace to be welcomed by the Crown Prince who eagerly takes her to his office. He shows her the plum blossom painting which he has now finished.
Myeong Nong: Look, you and I are in this picture.
Seolnan looks at the painting and points at the male figure at the bottom portion of the painting.
Seolnan: There. That’s you.
Myeong Nong: And the pretty one next to me is you.
Seolnan: It is so tiny, how can you tell she is pretty?
Myeong Nong: She looks pretty to me. Doesn’t she to you? Look. The same dark hair. The same glittering eyes. Her man beside her, that is why she is blushing and smiling. By the way, did you see Makgeum? What did she say? (Seolnan does not reply.)
Crown Prince sees the box containing the baby clothes Chae Hwa sew. He asks Seolnan about it, but Seolnan took it from him, and then asked to be dismissed.
Comment: Crown Prince is so sweet. Yes, he used to be a bad boy, but love has transformed him a lot already. But, as the Crown Prince becomes a better person, Seolnan and Seolhee with their lies, and Jinmu with his revenge plans seem to be slipping away from the light.
While I am watching the Crown Prince paint in his office, I have the urge to pluck him out of the palace which has become a nest for liars.
Seolnan and Seolhee confrontation. Seolhee sees Seolnan’s shoes from outside the place. This confirms to her that Seolnan is indeed the woman with the Crown Prince when he was kidnapped.
Seolnan shows Seolhee the baby clothes their mom prepared many years ago.
Seolnan: Our mother made this. Boy or girl, she made a deer.
Seolhee: What? Mom made this? You saw Makgeum?
Seolnan: You knew I was looking for Makgeum? Of course you did. Just as you had me locked in the shed. Ah, yes. Your exposing me as you double in Kalim was no accident. You knew it was me. Just as you knew what would happen to me in prison. Why? Why did you do it? You tricked Mom, insulted Dad. And lied to me. Why did you do it?
Lying is an act of self-abdication. (Abdication means disowning, renunciation, rejection, relinquishment, abandonment)
In highlight 15 above Kangbok asks the Crown Prince why he didn’t have Seolnan followed if he is interested to know why Seolnan wants to talk to Makgeum. I wondered about it too. In fact, ever since the episode where Crown Prince told Seolnan to “not tell me if you don’t want to,” instead of lie directly to him, I have wondered what the objective of the Writer with this particular action.
At first I thought the Writer just wants to make the Crown Prince seem weak, a slave to his love for Seolnan, that he would rather Seolnan not tell him the truth, than lie to him directly. But the fact that Seolnan is not answering Crown Prince’s questions about Makgeum means that Seolnan is hiding the truth from him (which means she is lying by omission.) Therefore, Crown Prince is aware that Seolnan is lying.
Between the liar and the person being lied to, who is the weak one? And who has the upper-hand? Normally, we think the liar has the upper-hand because he is manipulating the other person to his version of reality; while the person being lied to is the weak one because his reality is altered because of the other person’s lies.
But there is a saying “the truth will set you free.” If telling (and knowing) the truth will set us free, then telling a lie makes us not free, right?
In addition, let me quote a passage from one of my favourite books, “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand:
“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…..”
Liar = not free = slave
Person lied to = free = master
It is true! When we lie, we are surrendering our reality to the person we are lying to. And if we want to maintain our original lie, we will keep on lying and lying until we reach the point that we no longer have any clear grasp on reality. And the only way to get back to the real world is if we tell the truth. Lying makes us feel fettered and burdened, but being truthful allows us to move freely in this world.
Someone in the discussion thread wrote that for as long as Seolhee is Princess, then she is winning, while Seolnan is losing. But is that really the case?
Outwardly, it seems Seolhee is winning because she has a rich life, she has jewels, she has beautiful clothes, all the trappings of wealth. But from the first day she lied to the King, her mind has been uneasy. During her sleep hours she is plagued with nightmares; while during her wakeful hours, Jinmu and other people in the palace are there plaguing her. And every day she spends playing SBH, her crimes go from bad to worse just to maintain her original lie. Now she is slowly losing her grasp on reality.
But the person Seolhee lied to, mostly the King, has been happy despite the fact that his happiness is based on something false. Of course, King is not totally happy because he is keeping his own lies as well (referring to the swap of the 2 Princes.)
Seolnan, on the other hand, may have had a difficult life because of her training in Bi Moon. But before her reunion with Seolhee, Seolnan had been living a full life, learning new things, making new friends, falling in love, etc. Sure, she was sometimes sad, and hurt, and angry, but she was looking forward to the future with happiness, not with dread. Seolnan was happy then.
Before the reunion of the 2 sisters, materially Seolhee may be winning and Seolnan losing. However, morally and emotionally, Seolhee is bankrupt, while Seolnan was very rich.
Let us go back to the case of the Crown Prince and Seolnan…..
I think every time the Crown Prince tells Seolnan that “you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to” he is actually giving Seolnan the choice on whether she really wants to be on equal footing with him or not. Testing her also, in a way.
If Seolnan doesn’t tell him the truth, that means Crown Prince cannot trust her, therefore Seolnan will remain a slave/retainer. But if she tells the truth, that means Crown Prince can trust her, she will be his wife and he will treat her as his equal.
But the Crown Prince is working on the premise that Seolnan is trustworthy, which she has been before her reunion with Seolhee. Crown Prince also thought that Seolnan loves and respects him enough to trust him with her secrets. So, Crown Prince thought that Seolnan will eventually tell him the truth.
Alas, our Crown Prince will be monumentally disappointed a few episodes ahead.
Credit: photo from gall.dcinside.com/hyunjae