“The truth shall set you free, but first it will piss you off.” – Gloria Steinem
Let me apply those words to our drama – before the Writer sets her characters free with the truth, she will piss off the viewers first by turning her heroine into a liar with a martyr complex.
Seolnan and Seolhee confrontation. Seolhee sees Seolnan’s shoes outside their meeting place. This confirms to her that Seolnan is 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 your 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?
Seolhee: So you knew. I was right. The King’s great love was our mom. I said as much. The mountain life didn’t suit her. Neither did our dad. It was a king. He loved her. My mother loved a noble. And he, her.
Seolnan: It is not you. You are not the King’s daughter.
Seolhee: I guess you can’t help yourself either. You want the title of the Princess?
Seolnan: What happened to you? Why are you like this? Why sacrifice Mom’s good name to your greed? Why lie to me? Deny your own father? I searched for you. My heart ached for you. All for just a crown? You betray your family just for this?
Seolhee: This is why I hate you. You and that smug look. Only you can be good? Be pure? Be loving? Just a crown? There is nothing “just” about it. It is everything. You never change. You have always disparaged my wants. “Who needs silk? What good is a ring? A big house, so what? We are good right now. We are happy right now. Just be satisfied with what you have.” You and I are different. Don’t disparage me. Not my wants or my dreams.
Seolnan: Don’t act hurt or put-upon. Your dreams aren’t worth our mother’s good name. Or lying to the King. Or doing this to me. I am telling the King.
Seolhee: Even if it kills me?
Seolnan: It won’t. I am his real daughter. I will beg him to spare you. You need not worry.
Seolhee: Must it come to this?
Seolnan: Yes, it must. I won’t… I can’t watch you ruin yourself any further. My sister was greedy, but a good person. The girl that tended my calves after mom gave me a whipping. That cried for me. My sweet little sister. I will keep looking for her.
Seolhee: No. I am not ruined. Unnie, please, please. The Crown Prince. Shall I tell you something you don’t know? When you were in jail in Kalim, he knelt before the King. “Spare Seolnan. She will die if we don’t help her. Sire, she is mine,” he said. “She belongs to me.” Go ahead, tell the King. Then everyone will know that the Crown Prince and you are related. What will that do to him? Even then, tell the King if you must. Even if it hurts me, and breaks the King’s heart, and drives the Crown Prince insane.
Comment: This would have been a great scene, but it was ruined by that last line about the Crown Prince going insane if he finds out that he and Seolnan are siblings. Very ridiculous. Now, instead of remembering the great exchange of words between the 2 sisters, all I will remember of this particular scene is that last ridiculous statement by Seolhee. The only thing that will top that in the scale of ridiculousness is if the Writer does make the Crown Prince go insane when he finds out that he and Seolnan are siblings.
>Ttoldae and Manggu report to Dae Un. He reminds them to just to stand guard at SBH’s pavilion, nothing more.
>Marshal Hae asks Dorim to recommend someone to send to Kimun to spy on Sunimun, the way Dorim spied on King Gaero. When Dorim suggested Seolnan, M. Hae told her that the King refused to send Seolnan because the Queen is very fond of her.
Seolnan is assisting the Queen who notices that she is quite pale. Seolnan replies that she had a nightmare. She said she lost someone once, who appeared in her dream, a terrible apparition. This someone knew her, but still tried to hurt her. Queen with Seolnan go to the King’s pavilion.
Crown Prince and Seolhee also arrive at the King’s pavilion.
Seolhee to self while looking at Seolnan: Remember? You would threaten to tell mom but you never did. You won’t now either. Lady Holier-than-thou wouldn’t do it.
Seolnan to self: This is different, Seolhee. This involves more than a whipping.
After the meal, Crown Prince volunteers to help the King with the petitions, but the King declines his offer. Seolnan then offers to help the King, the Crown Prince seconds her. Seolhee offers to help, but Queen reminds her that they are supposed to spend time together. So Seolnan gets to stay and help the King. However, Seolnan was unable to say anything to the King because she recalled what Seolhee told her the night before about everyone knowing that she and the Crown Prince are siblings and the Crown Prince will go insane when he finds out. (The Writer really has to repeat “the Crown Prince will go insane” just in case we didn’t get it the first time around.)
Seolnan meets Seolhee when she left the King’s pavilion. Seolhee asked her if she has anything to tell her (essentially asking Seolnan if she revealed her lies to the King.) Seolnan replies that she wouldn’t presume to break the King’s confidences. (I wish I could cheer Seolnan for that reply, but knowing that she didn’t reveal Seolhee’s lies, I just find her reply meaningless.)
Jinmu sees Seolnan and Seolhee talking to each other. From Uich, Jinmu finds out that Seolnan is the government official who talked to Makgeum regarding Chae Hwa. Jinmu also noted that Seolnan was in Kalim when Seolhee suddenly decided to go there.
Dorim and Seolnan meet at the archives. Dorim reminded Seolnan of something she said while she was still in training – that Dorim wants to do something through Seolnan. Dorim reveals that she wants Baekje to regain the Han River – that is the task Dorim wants to do through Seolnan.
Dorim to self: I am the reason King Gaero lost the Han. I want to help his son take it back. Only then can I die in peace. (To Seolnan) It is for the King to do, of course. But you can help a little. If you do, you will have wealth beyond….. Ah, no, wealth doesn’t interest you. How about this? Your help will please the Queen and the King. And be a blessing to our people. And, be an incomparable help to the Crown Prince’s future reign.
Seolnan asks what she has to do to accomplish this task. Dorim tells her that she has to go to Kimun and win Sunimun’s confidence and bend him to her will. Seolnan says that she doesn’t want to leave Baekje.
Seolnan brings food and drinks to Crown Prince’s pavilion. Crown Prince is so busy with work he didn’t notice that Seolnan has arrived until she made a sound to catch his attention.
Myeong Nong: At last. It feels like it has been ages.
Seolnan: Liar. You are too busy to notice me.
Myeong Nong: Never.
Seolnan pours wine for Crown Prince and herself. Then Seolnan asks Crown Prince what he wants to tell her. Crown Prince takes her near the plum blossom painting, which now hangs on the wall near his work desk.
Crown Prince points to the 2 figures in the painting.
Myeong Nong: Do you know how old those 2 are? He’s 99, she is 96.
Seolnan: You said she had black hair. 96?
Myeong Nong: She was 21 then, of course. Do you understand? He was 24, she was 21 when they were bound together for life. 100 years of joy.
Seolnan hugs the Crown Prince from behind, and asks him if she should sing him a song. Crown Prince tells her to go ahead.
Seolnan sings Chae Hwa’s favourite song that she used to sing to the King: Moon so high in the sky, hear my plea. My love is gone, far away, bring him back to me. Water flows to the sea, come back to me. As water flows to the sea, come back to me.
The King, who came to the Crown Prince’s pavilion to discuss a petition from Kuk Jangbaek, hears Seolnan singing the song from outside the room.
Comment: I was so moved by this scene when I watched it on the night episode 75 aired in Korea. I didn’t understand any of the Crown Prince’s words, but by instinct I knew that the words would be beautiful because it moved Seolnan to take the initiative to hug the Crown Prince. In all their sweet moments in previous episodes, it is always the Crown Prince who initiated the physical contact. This is the first time Seolnan consciously initiated the physical contact. And when I watched this episode with English subtitles, I was even more moved by the Crown Prince’s words. They are indeed very beautiful words. Any woman who hears the man she loves tell her that he wants to grow old with her will surely hold on to this man…. hold on tight, and never let go. But FATE (also known as WRITER in drama land) is not yet done playing tricks on our drama characters.
The King enters Crown Prince’s room. King asks Seolnan how she learned a Baekje song when she is from Kimun. Seolnan replies that she heard SBH singing it, who said that her mother used to sing it. Seolnan adds that she has been in Baekje for over a year now, so it is natural to pick up local songs. (The second reason would have suffice, why did Seolnan have to credit Seolhee as being the source of the song? Seolnan, you are your own worst enemy. )
Seolnan asks to be dismissed, Crown Prince looks worriedly after her. King discusses with Crown Prince about Kuk Jangbaek’s petition for 500 more men. King instructs Crown Prince to tell Jangbaek to wait until after the problem with Kimun is over. King mentions that war with Koguryo is inevitable.
King pats the Crown Prince on the back and notices that a part of the back of his clothes is wet (from Seolnan’s tears while singing.)
Queen’s maid notices that Seolnan is still looking pale. Seolnan says that she hasn’t been sleeping well.
Seolnan brings tea to the King and asks him questions about the Han River.
King: Yes, very much so. Baekje was built on the banks of the Han. My father, and his father before him, watered their horses in it, bathed them in it. Our farmers raised crops from its waters. I haven’t had a moment’s peace ever since we lost the Han to Koguryo.
Seolnan: If we take Kimun we can take the Han?
King: It is true. Kimun would strengthen us. We could advance on Koguryo. I must be well-armed before I take my people into war.
Seolnan: You confuse me. A servant girl asks questions about the Han. How is it you don’t get angry?
King: I wonder the same thing. How is it I acquiesce to your impertinent questions?
Seolnan to self: Sire, I have loved you from the start. I have felt warm and safe with you. But then, we are flesh and blood. Flesh of your flesh, blood of your blood.
Seolhee tries to convince Seolnan to support her lies by doing something good for the poor. She gave her precious treasures to the Queen to sell, proceeds of which will go to the poor. More women in the palace join the fund drive. Praises heaped on Seolhee. Clap Clap Clap Haha!
Seolnan and Seolhee meet in their meeting room. Seolhee kneels in front of Seolnan, asking for her forgiveness. Seolhee says she didn’t mean to lie to Seolnan, she says the bandits took her to Baekje. Seolnan stops her from telling more lies. Seolnan deduced that when Seolhee joined her on her trip to the crossroads, Seolhee already meant to leave her behind and go to Baekje, because Seolhee took their Mom’s hairpin with her.
Seolhee says that she just wanted to see the palace and look at the King’s face. But she saw how kind he was. Seolhee says that Mom and Dad always loved Seolnan the best. To this Seolnan reminds Seolhee that Dad died saving Seolhee. Seolnan added that Mom and Dad never neglected her.
Seolhee finally admits to leaving Seolnan behind with the intention of claiming Seolnan’s princess position. She hated living a hand-to-mouth existence, she wanted to lord it over others.
Seolnan: Hated living hand-to-mouth? Wanted to lord it over others? How odd. On the mountain you never knelt to anyone. And here you are kneeling to me. What good is having the world call you princess? You know what they don’t, that you knelt and begged on this cold floor. You know.
Seolhee: Don’t push me too far. I might be forced to tell the Crown Prince. Seolnan, please leave Baekje. You saw it yourself. The King, the Queen and the Crown Prince, they adore me. We are better off without you. So, please, leave.
Seolnan leaves their meeting place, feeling so much pain in her heart at her sister’s words.
Seolnan brings food to Crown Prince’s pavilion. Crown Prince is again too busy working to notice Seolnan has arrived until she made a sound.
Myeong Nong: When did you get here? You didn’t say anything.
Seolnan: Your Highness, you skipped eating again. About those people in the painting, they saw the blossoms bloom every year from when they met at twenty till they were 99?
Myeong Nong: Of course. 100 years sound too long for you? Can’t be helped. We were born on different days, but we will die together. No, you will go an hour before me. It is a dream I had. Of you standing by my grave. Shortly after we met in Kimun. At that time, you were just an interesting person who was fervently looking for her sister. Then I had this dream. You were standing by my grave. I woke up because it hurt to see you weeping so sorrowfully. So you have to die an hour before me. I hate to see you cry, even in a dream. I am going to tell the King that the woman who touches my heart…. (Seolnan doesn’t allow him to finish.)
Seolnan: Your Highness, promise me something. Whatever happens, eat 3 square meals a day. You can’t get caught up in your work that you forget to eat.
Myeong Nong: I will have you to remind me for the rest of our lives.
Seolnan: But what if I am not around?
Myeong Nong: That won’t happen.
Seolnan: I serve the Band. Who knows where they will send me?
Myeong Nong: And if I don’t send you anywhere?
Seolnan: Suppose I request it?
Myeong Nong: Feed me a piece and I will think about it. All I want to do is to serve the King and live like this with you. I don’t need anything else.
>Seolnan goes to Dorim and volunteers to go to Kimun.
>Dorim tells Marshal Hae that Seolnan has volunteered to go to Kimun. Dorim asks Marshal Hae to convince the King to allow Seolnan to go to Kimun.
Dorim: Marshal Hae help me to redeem the past. If the King doesn’t take back the Han River, no matter what I do I won’t rest well in my grave.
>Seolhee leaves the palace again. Ttoldae and Manggu see her leaving the palace but her face is covered with a veil. A court lady gives them money to ignore what they saw.
>Marshal Hae tells the Crown Prince that Seolnan has volunteered to go to Kimun to spy on Sunimun.
Knowing and telling the truth is supposed to set us free. But Writer has decided that she still wants to play cruel games with her characters and the audience.
I think from episode 75 onward will be the period in the drama when the Crown Prince’s love for Seolnan will be tested. In the early days of their relationship, it was Seolnan’s love that was tested – she fell in love with the Crown Prince despite the cruel and harsh ways he treated her.
This time, it is the Crown Prince’s love that will be tested. Will the Crown Prince’s love for Seolnan stay true despite the distance (with Seolnan doing spy work outside Baekje) and the lies that separate them?
Sadly, it is in these 2 episodes where my liking for the Seolnan character began to erode a little. I still pitied Seolnan especially when Seolhee told her that everyone is better off without her. Words are not enough to describe how cruel and monstrous Seolhee has become that she can treat her own flesh and blood that way.
I felt for Seolnan when she got out of their meeting place, speechless from so much hurt inflicted by the words of her own sister. And all she could do was beat her own heart from so much pain. How I wanted for the Crown Prince to be there even just to hold her hand or sit beside her. But of course, that is impossible given that the Crown Prince would be the last person she would want to be with her during this time.
At first I wondered why Writer had to make Seolnan ask the Crown Prince again about the people in his plum blossom painting (see highlight 9). It seems she has already made up her mind to volunteer to go to Kimun, so why make the Crown Prince talk on and on again about his dreams? I think that after hearing Seolhee’s cruel words the night before, maybe Seolnan just needed to know that there is still one person in this world who truly loves her? It must have been a balm to her bruised heart to hear the Crown Prince’s dreams for the 2 of them, even though she knows that those dreams can never be.
But, on the other hand, how can I go on loving a character like Seolnan who doesn’t seem to have any love for her own self? How can I go on caring for a character who doesn’t seem to care enough for her own self?
How I wish the Writer could have found a better way to separate the OTP without turning Seolnan into a liar with a martyr complex, because now I am having a hard time rooting for her, or for her and the Crown Prince to be together in the end.
Credit: Videos from MBC; photo from Ojik @Naver. Thanks!