I find it interesting that what happens in Gwanghae’s court are more or less based on history (ok maybe 50% of the time), while what happens to Princess Jungmyeong is utterly fiction (until when she marries Hong Joo-won, perhaps). Of course, drama is a form of art and arts are liberal, but it amuses me much that Writer-nim, subscribes to the tried and tested formula of Queen Seon Deok, of letting the heroine grow up as a boy in a foreign land. The timeline is now at the 10th year of Gwanghae’s reign, which means there’s 5 years left till this dethronement. Does that mean we’re going to say goodbye to Chajumma soon?! T.T
Whatever it is, Princess Jungmyung (Lee Yeon Hee) grows up in the harsh mining environment, and manages to earn the trust of the cruel businessman, despite almost being sold to the brothel, and when that failed, she was left to die tied to a pole (all during the child actress segment). We’re not told how she managed to earn the trust, perhaps she’s spunky and smart enough, because apparently she knows her sulfur well, and has some aptitude for business. Her being a female is known to very few people – the businessman, his Japanese right-hand man (who looks kinda shifty, if you ask me), Ja Kyung (Gong Myung), the serious big brother to all the child miners (and he had taken it upon himself to protect Jungmyung, as well as given her a name, Hwa-yi, since Jungmyung never revealed her real name).
Jungmyung insists on going to Edo with the businessman and Ja Kyung, when she heard that envoys from Korea will be coming, and she believes its her only chance to go back home.
Writer-nim decreeds Fate has it that the envoys arrive just when Jungmyung was being stopped at the Hakone checkpoint by a nasty obasan who is a sniffer for all females disguised as males, trying to enter Edo (it’s apparently death penalty for females to enter the capital Edo without proper legal documents endorsed by officials). And so Jungmyung was let go to pass the checkpoint instead of being hauled to be executed, as possibly the Japanese did not want the envoys to be held up at the checkpoint. It is at Edo that Jungmyung finally meets Joo-won (Seo Kang Joon) again.
Joo-won has become the Head of Firearms Department, and apparently Gwanghae personally appointed him to that position. Joo-won is still full of anger at Gwanghae, but Gwanghae has apparently taken a liking to him, ever since teenage Joo-won publicly stopped Gwanghae’s procession, not long after the supposed death of Jungmyung. Joo-won felt it was his fault for failing to protect the Princess, and hates Gwanghae for ordering to kill her. Anyway, Joo-won apparently has not met with his father for a long time, ever since his father (Uhm Hyo Sup) quitted being the Chief Constable, in protest of Lee Deok-hyung’s death.
Although the Department of Firearms/Artillery manage to develop prototypes that seem to be on par with what Ming China has, most of the ministers are not happy about Gwanghae’s achievement, as they see is as a liability that’ll trigger Ming China’s wrath (most Joseon ministers hate it when their Kings try to stand up against China, because 1) Joseon is somewhat a vessel state to China [that is debatable], and 2) most ministers earn extra from dealings with Chinese, and it is detrimental to their source of extra money when Joseon and China have bad relations). The ministers who eventually will orchestrate the dethronement of Gwanghae have made their appearances: Lee Gwi (Jang Kwang) and Kim Ryu (Park Joon Gyu).
I think the most poignant scenes in this week’s episodes has to be that of the final conversation between Gwanghae and Lee Deok-hyung, as both realise that they can never work together again, despite having the same goal. Gwanghae thinks Lee Deok-hyung is overly idealistic, insisting on taking the orthodox method of fighting those are opposed to Gwanghae, and those who murdered King Seonjo, while Lee Deok-hyung believes that Gwanghae should not stoop as low as the villains to fight the villains. This leaves Gwanghae no choice but to work with Lee Yi-chum and Kim Kae Shi again, to kill Lee Deok-hyung as he knows the truth behind the death of King Seonjo, and the truth will threaten Gwanghae’s throne. I still find Gwanghae a sympathetic character, as he tries his best (at least here in Show) to protect what was given to him, his family and half-siblings, but there’re always threats to him, conspiracies to pull him off the throne, so much so that he is very much tied up and forced to work with the villains.
Kang Joo Sun continues to pull the strings at the back like a puppet master, this time round ordering his henchmen to make several trips to Nagasaki (what a coincidence) to buy sulfur in large quantities, and then dumping all the sulfur into the sea. This is to hinder Gwanghae’s development of firearms, as Joseon does not produce sulfur and Japan is the only course to purchase from. Gwanghae has noticed that someone has been interfering with the sulfur supply, which is why he ordered Joo-won to be an envoy to Japan, but to arrange for an illegal smuggling of sulfur back to Joseon. The catch is, Kang Joo Sun is part of the envoy party too, and he has arranged for Joo-won to be watched. Will Joo-won succeed in Gwanghae’s quest? Stay tune to find out.