This week’s episodes are just so sad I actually felt like crying when Gwanghae resigned to fate and allowed himself to be captured by Neung-yang and his minions.
He protected his people at the Department of Artillery till the end, not allowing them to fight against the rebels, and also made a deal with In Woo to protect both Jung-myeong and Joo-won, in exchange for his easy arrest by Neung-yang’s minions. It all stemmed from Gwanghae wanting to rescue Jung-myeong, because he just didn’t want to do her any more wrongs. She finally calls him oraboni, which frankly speaking, was such a tear-jerking scene.
No matter what his motive was, I think Show is pretty much in line with modern interpretation of Gwanghae, that he was a good diplomat, and he accurately gauged the situation of Ming China and Jurchens, which was why it was recorded in history that he told General Kang to observe the situation and back out of the war if necessary. It was unfortunate that the Northerner faction took that as a weakess to attack Gwanghae, claiming that he intended to betray Ming China, therefore he has no rights to be the king of Joseon. If you ask me, I think it’s all bullcrap because the Northerners are just looking for a way to secure their fortune, but Gwanghae truly cares for his people (at least in this verion).
Gwanghae tells Neung-yang that it’d be naive of him to think of usurping the throne as defeating Gwanghae, because for as long as the people who knows of Gwanghae’s wishes is still around, it is not the end for Gwanghae. He also tells Neung-yang that he can kneel in front of him now, but he hopes that his people doesn’t have to kneel in front of others (ie, China). Neung-yang is mad angry at that, and orders for a capture of all related to the Department of Artillery. Joo-won and his father were subjected to torture, as it is a strategy of Kim Ja-jeom to force them to admit that Gwanghae gave them the orders to betray Ming China, and it’d give them the rights to kill all related to the Department of Artillery.
Jung-myeong decided to take it into her hands to save the Hong father and son, using the favorite methods of all Joseon royalty – kneeling on a straw mat in front of the palace. She insists that as part of the Department, it’d only be fair for her to be put on trial too. If Neung-yang has to kill the entire Department, she should be killed too.
Apparently she knelt for two whole days, and she fainted from fatigue on the following day, which happened to be raining. Her actions aroused the sympathy of the people, who supports her, and Neung-yang despite being mad that he could not touch Jung-myeong, had to agree to Kim Ja-jeom to let everyone related to the Department go.
Neung-yang is adamant on creating a Joseon different from Gwang-hae’s (yep, by undoing everything Gwang-hae has done, is what Neung-yang did historically), and the first thing he did was to tear down the map which Gwang-hae was proud of (on which Joseon may be small, but is not relegated to the side as it usually is on maps made by the Chinese). Such emotionally unstable person is totally unfit to be a king, imo.
We also see the fate of Gwang-hae’s supporters, from the ministers such as Lee Yi-cheom, to Kim Kae-shi. I wonder what exactly is the relationship between Kim and Gwang-hae, because Show portrays it as pretty much a soulmate relationship between them. She urges Jung-myeong to carry on Gwang-hae’s legacy, and apologizes for the wrongs that she had done to Jung-myeong. The moments before her death portrayed here is pretty tame, as compared to her gruesome death as recorded in history.
Gwanghae is sent to exile, much to the ire of Neung-yang. Nope sorry, you just can’t kill him at all.
Neung-yang receives Queen Dowager In-mok and Jung-myeong back to stay at the palace, restoring their honors. Queen Dowager In-mok is wary of him, and Jung-myeong is completely defiant. I’m just waiting for Jung-myeong to get married to Joo-won.
The other (non) loveline is developing soon: Neung-yang and Jo Yeo-jung. The way he looks at her is full of lust, and Jo Yeo-jung is pretty smug that she’ll be having him eating out of her hands.
It seems like every 10 episodes is a closure of sorts, so I wonder what will Episode 40 bring us. I hope Gwanghae will appear once in awhile, because Cha Seung-won has such strong screen presence that I’m going to miss him dearly. Sobs.