This week’s episodes mark the beginning of a shift of the hero of our story to Princess Jungmyeong, as she is forced to escape the palace all alone. It seems to be a trademark of MBC sagueks based on female royal family members to suffer in foreign lands on their own (eg Queen Seondeok), as Princess Jungmyeong somehow ends up in Nagasaki, Japan, by the beginning of Episode 6.
Fate (or rather the scriptwriter) decides to have Princess Jungmyeong hauled onboard a Japanese slave ship, which apparently scours the Japanese seaside villages for the poor to be sold off as slaves, and somehow the little boat Princess Jungmyeong was on was seen by the slave ship and thus she ends up being sold as a slave. Luckily she was in a boy’s disguise, if not she’d have been sold to a brothel. Instead, she’s being bought by a mining businessman, and begins her new dangerous life as a miner (and a boy).
Back in Hanyang, Gwanghae begins to learn about the truth what his two closest aides had done (killing of Grand Prince Youngchang and Princess Jungmyeong, as well as the chronic poisoning of King Seonjo), and is devastated. He also learnt of the “prophecy”, which is also made known to Queen Dowager. She realises that the prophecy refers to Princess Jungmyeong as the rightful owner of the throne, and immediately finds a way to get Princess Jungmyeong away from harm. Not only did Queen Dowager realises the truth about the prophecy, Kim Kae Shi also made the correct guess of the rightful owner of the throne, which was why she made the secret order to Lee Yi Chum to kill off the Princess when she was escaping.
We also learnt about the villain, who is actually neither Kim Kae Shi not Lee Yi Chum, but Kang Joo Sun (Jo Sung Ha). He ordered for the hanging of a freshly killed lamb (the Chinese character of lamb “羊”, becomes “王”, the Chinese character of king, when both the head and tail are removed) at the throne, to create a sense of fear in Gwanghae and his supporters. Honestly speaking I still can’t really understand Kang’s motive here, and that’s what I guessed.
But what I know for sure is, Kang absolutely does not like Gwanghae for developing Joseon’s own firearms, as it most likely affects the business he has with Ming China (I’m not quite sure how can he be both a merchant AND holds a court position). He also sends a box of the ingredients of the poison used to murder King Seonjo to Lee Yi Chum, and made it looked like it was sent by Lee Deok-hyung. The purpose of this is to get rid of Lee Deok-hyung via Gwanghae’s hands, as a revised plan to get rid of Gwanghae and to cover up the prophecy.
The politic games played here are really complicated, as many players have their own agendas, and allegiances could change anytime. One thing for sure, Gwanghae pretty much has his hands and feet tied by the nature of his ascension to the throne, and his legitimacy. He is definitely nowhere near bad as described in Show’s promo materials, as he seems to be nothing more than a victim of circumstances. He definitely still loves both Princess Jungmyeong and Grand Prince Youngchang very much as siblings, and it hurts him to hear of their deaths. It sucks to be Gwanghae here, at least in this drama, as Princess Jungmyeong probably will grow up with hate for her oraboni (older brother), not knowing it was not him who ordered to have her killed.
We’ll have the full adult cast from Episode 7 onwards, so goodbye to the cute young actors/actresses, and I hope to see you all again on my small screen!