The next morning, Ho Yeon comes across the slave boy who’s learning how to write characters on the ground. He tells Ho Yeon he’s learning how to read for himself so that he’ll know if Ho Yeon is lying to him about the letter handed down from his grandfather. The now changed Ho Yeon decides to teach him more words, and the boy wonders aloud if Ho Yeon is really a yangban. Hee.
Back in Hanyang, Jum Baek Yi looks at a missing person notice guiltily. He is suddenly dragged to the Lee Manor by some soldiers, where Wol Hyang is tied to the interrogation chair, and Prime Minister Lee is presiding the event. Prime Minister asks Jum Baek Yi angrily if he has sold Ho Yeon away, and orders him to out the truth since Wol Hyang has already confessed to what she knows. Jum Baek Yi tries to deny, but the Prime Minister threatens him with the death sentence if he doesn’t get Ho Yeon back within a day.
At Wol Hyang’s urging, Jum Baek Yi brings a troop of soldiers and head for the harbor, only to have the boat owner rejecting their demand to set off, citing that there’s no wind at the dead of the night thus it’s impossible to set sail. Instead, he tells Jum Baek Yi to row if he’s in that much of a hurry. And row Jum Baek Yi did, as it is already yet another morning when he finally reaches the island where Ho Yeon is. Ho Yeon is with a few slaves unloading cargo from a sloop, and the slaves are surprised to see a small boat rowing towards them.
Ho Yeon is ecstatic to see Jum Baek Yi and both men wave at each other. Jum Baek Yi runs off the boat and runs toward him, immediately kneeling at Ho Yeon’s feet and asking for forgiveness. Ho Yeon is simply overjoyed to see Jum Baek Yi and tells him to bring him home. The butler comes over and grabs Ho Yeon, inciting wrath from Jum Baek Yi. He tells the butler that Ho Yeon is the Prime Minister’s eldest son, which of course the butler scoffs at it. Jum Baek Yi pulls out the missing person notice which sports the Prime Minister’s seal.
The butler is stunned at the twist in event, and immediately drops to his knees. Jum Baek Yi tells Ho Yeon that a bigger ship is coming soon, and they can go home when it comes. The butler is afraid that he’ll be implicated for the illegal buying of Ho Yeon as a slave, and picks up a rock and whacks at the back of Jum Baek Yi’s head. Ho Yeon is shocked and before he can do anything at the butler, one of the cronies whack at Ho Yeon and knocks him out.
The scene suddenly cuts to the slave boy, seeing that nobody’s at the balcony where Master Kang studies, goes to the desk gingerly and flips the pages of the books with interest. He is suddenly being lifted at the collar by Master Kang, who is outraged and screams that he’ll let none of the slaves be able to read or write.
Jum Baek Yi comes to, and finds himself and Ho Yeon tied up in a shack. He suddenly asks Ho Yeon if he knows why Wol Hyang was hugging him that day, and Ho Yeon asks him back how does he know about this island. Jum Baek Yi rebutts that he sold Ho Yeon here, and he’s angry at Ho Yeon for not having to fret over money issues, and also angry at himself for not being able to protect the one he loves. Jum Baek Yi is at his breaking point, and spews out all his frustration and hatred at Ho Yeon, asking Ho Yeon if he remembers his real name. Ho Yeon argues back that he treats him better than how other yangbans treat their slaves, which only makes Jum Baek Yi even angrier, telling Ho Yeon to stop being delusional about how he’s a better yangban than others.
Just then, the butler enters the shed, and snatches the notice from Jum Baek Yi. He flashes out a dagger and holds it against Ho Yeon’s neck. Ho Yeon asks if he’s still going to kill him even if he knows of Ho Yeon’s real identity, and the butler says it’s precisely he knows of the real identity that he has to kill Ho Yeon. A crony budges in the shed suddenly, exclaiming that Master Kang is being held hostage and going to be killed soon.
We then see Master Kang being held hostage by the mute slave on the streets, and the slave boy had been cruelly beaten. The magistrate and his daughter are among the crowd, trying to calm the slave. The magistrate says what’s wrong with a master punishing his slave, but his daughter thinks it’s too harsh a beating for a young boy. The mute slave screams that he’s not a slave but a yangban. Ooh, twist.
The scene cuts back to the shed, and Ho Yeon breaks free of his ropes. Jum Baek Yi looks at him surprised, and Ho Yeon tells him if one runs one’s fingernail against the rope repeatedly, the braiding of the rope will loosen. Ho Yeon walks over to Jum Baek Yi and unties his rope. He apologises to Jum Baek Yi, and remembers that the big mole on Jum Baek Yi’s face was actually a burnt mark cause by Ho Yeon. Jum Baek Yi is surprised that Ho Yeon actually is apologising to him, and eagerly asks if Ho Yeon remembers his real name.
We didn’t get to hear what’s Jum Baek Yi’s real name, as the next we see Jum Baek Yi and Ho Yeon (deck in the yangban outfit now) walking down the streets. Ho Yeon comes across a stall selling books, and picks up a book to give the slave boy. The neighboring stall sells hats similar to the ones Master Kang always wears, and the stall owner tells Ho Yeon that rumor has it that Master Kang has a big mole of his forehead, which is why he has to wear the hat to cover it. Just then, the stall owner’s friend comes around and says there’s a “show” going on, where the mute slave is holding Master Kang hostage, and he claims that he’s a yangban, and Master Kang was actually a slave.
Ho Yeon puts down the book and intends to rush off, to the confusion of Jum Baek Yi. He heads back to the slaves quarter at the Kang manor, flipping through the cabinets, and finds what he wants – the letter of Bal-bok (the slave boy). He realises the hidden secret behind it, that Master Kang is the real slave of the deaf slave’s family. With the evidence in hand, Ho Yeon heads back to where the commotion is taking place on the streets. The magistrate has his men beating the deaf slave, and Ho Yeon stops them assertively. The butler tries to get his cronies to capture Ho Yeon, but he waves them away. The butler sees his chance lost, and makes a quiet escape.
Ho Yeon confronts Master Kang with the letter, and removes his hat. So Master Kang used to be a slave of the deaf slave’s ancestor, but somehow he managed to twist the fate and makes his employers the slaves. Not just that, he also buys yangbans from declined families as slaves. Master Kang tries to deny Ho Yeon’s accusations, and the magistrate wonder how Ho Yeon finds the letter that documents Master Kang’s slave status. The magistrate orders for all the slaves to be brought away, despite his daughter’s please to further investigate the issue. Ho Yeon is taken away as well, and insists he is a yangban. The magistrate says to him, “You’re a slave forever the moment you become one.” What, the magistrate is downright fishy. Jum Baek Yi is looking at how things unfold from a distance, and wonders to himself why would Ho Yeon interfere with the affairs of slaves.
The magistrate’s daughter goes to visit Ho Yeon in the jail, and asks why he returned when he’s about to escape from the island. He relates to her the story between him and Jum Baek Yi, and says he realised how sorrowful it is when no one would believe or help you. After hearing his story, she removes a key and unlocks the door for Ho Yeon and the slave father-and-son to escape. And so they run, with the magistrate and his men hot on their trail.
They’re cornered at the edge of a small waterfall, and Ho Yeon tells the magistrate he finally understands that lives are equal, but the magistrate, holding the beliefs of caste discrimination, waves his sword at Ho Yeon angrily at his “misconception”. Ho Yeon slips and fall into the water, and just then Jum Baek Yi leads the Prime Minister’s troop to where the standoff is. Jum Baek Yi jumps into the water and hauls Ho Yeon to shore. He tries to slap Ho Yeon awake, and when he does, Ho Yeon looks at him and says, ” Thank you, Kwi-nam ah.” Jum Baek Yi looks Ho Yeon in gratitude. Aww.
And with that, Master Kang, the butler and the cronies are captured and hauled back to Hanyang, on the same sloop as Ho Yeon and gang. Before boarding, the magistrate’s daughter’s maid apologizes for her rudeness to Ho Yeon, which Ho Yeon brushes away and apologizes for calling her ugly. He then asks the magistrate’s daughter if she wants to elope, which she insists she likes the slave Ho Yeon, not the yangban Ho Yeon. Pfft. Ho Yeon thinks they’ll meet again if they’re fated to. With that, he heads back to Hanyang with Jum Baek Yi.
Back at Hanyang, Ho Yeon snatches away Jum Baek Yi’s bowl of rice, and heads straight for the Prime Minister’s food table. He grabs a little of each dish into the bowl, and returns to Jum Baek Yi. He mix the rice and vegetables, and feeds Jum Baek Yi. Ho Yeon now enjoys the way slaves eat, and tells Jum Baek Yi he dreams of a new world where there is no discrimination between the rich and poor. With that, the camera pans to a young yangban who eats with his equally young slave, the way Ho Yeon is eating with Jum Baek Yi.
Oh Park Ki Woong, you completely nailed the role. He was such an obnoxious ass, even though it’s obvious that he does not have any ill intent. Show manages to drive home the message of how the caste system in the past imparts wrong values to otherwise learned men, and Ho Yeon is a good example of it. However, Show also believes that uncouth slaves cannot become learned men, as we see in Master Kang. I’d like to assume that Show doesn’t mean that slaves cannot be good, but rather goodness can be inheritary, or has to be taught. Master Kang was not taught, and manners and culture are not something that can be self-learnt.
I wish there’s a closure to the bad magistrate, such as if Ho Yeon stripped his ranks or anything along that line. He clearly abuses his power, and I feel he has a hand in changing Master Kang’s status. But this is an one-act drama, and the focus is on Ho Yeon’s changed world views. Show is rather well-written,with an engaging pace and lots of fish-out-of-water hijinks, though it’s not exactly a fish-out-of-water situation for Ho Yeon. Park Ki Woong is a natural, and I sure will miss having him on my screen as he fulfills his mandatory military service.