The Girl with Antlers

Jang Ok Jung: The endless rises and falls, making your will absolute, and smoking out the enemies (Episodes 17-18)

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So, I’m pretty sure I overreacted to last week’s episodes. It doesn’t change the fact that I was pretty disappointed by it though. But with this week, my faith has been restored. We return to our Ok Jung, who still fights for what she wants, but we can still bits and pieces of her kindness left. People can change, but perhaps, not completely and not perfectly.

However, this week’s episodes don’t actually really concentrate as Ok Jung as much as it did in the past. Instead, we see those around her, especially Sukjong come into the spotlight. I don’t know about you, but episode 18 swept me off my feet with the political prowess that Sukjong possesses and his cunning strategies to smoke out his enemies, as well as those who are against his firstborn son, Lee Yoon, from becoming the Crown Prince. Ah, and Prince Dongpyeong who is such a fine actor that I was almost, almost convinced that he was going to turn to the bad side. But of course, he didn’t.

We see the final crumbling of the horrid Min Yoo Joong whose greed for power seems to exceed others’ in many ways. But the thing about him was that he wasn’t so flamboyant and obvious about it. He was smart too, but not smart enough to beat the king. I think, his mistake lay in the fact that he underestimated just how powerful the King could be. He lacked knowing fear, and let’s hope for the future that the other ministers learn from his mistakes. No one should challenge the king is what Sukjong wants to implement into their minds.

So, let’s start with Episode 17.

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Our Ok Jung proves to be able to defend herself and take on the ministers. Once again, the political battles are stirring. Slowly, slowly, the Southerner faction is rising to power. Especially with Ok Jung being pregnant, it becomes a great boost of power to them.

Indeed, she is becoming a strong pillar for the Southern faction. And while that may help her to stay beside the king, I hate to say it: the growing political power of the Southern faction is also what happens to lead her downfall. Ah, yes, this drama seems to endless rises and falls throughout, and well, doesn’t life always seem to be that way anyways?

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Ah, yes, with the doctor’s confirmation, Ok Jung wins this battle through revealing the news of her pregnancy. Obviously, the worry grows deep with the Western faction while the Southern faction is rejoicing in their small victories.

While things went quite well with the ministers, our Queen Inhyeon is quite shocked and speechless by the way Ok Jung handled things. I don’t see how Ok Jung did anything particularly wrong, but I guess Inhyeon doesn’t like it when things don’t go her way. Sort of.

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Ok Jung takes this opportunity to taunt Inhyeon about her sterility. Outraged, Inhyeon actually has it in her to slap Ok Jung not only once, but twice. And Ok Jung’s pregnant. Well, I’d be pretty mad too. But uh, I think slapping a pregnant woman is something that would be looked down upon?

Ah, these two. Their battles are endless and ferocious. We could say that Inhyeon wins in the end, but hey, you know what? These two die in the same year, 1701. Inhyeon died first, then Ok Jung. The only survivor and winner was Choi Suk-bin. In some ways, I guess we could say Ok Jung’s “true” rival was not Queen Inhyeon, but rather, Choi Suk-bin.

We also have a scene where Chi Soo is invited to the palace. Sukjong and Chi Soo meet, but much to what seems Chi Soo’s disappointment, they cannot talk for long. But Chi Soo looks like he has a lot to say to the king.

So, instead, Chi Soo starts to look around the palace. And of course, he stumbles across Chwi Seon Dang, the living quarters of Ok Jung. He looks at it with such wanting, longing. Obviously, this is the building that Chi Soo will ask Sukjong for. But the question is, will Sukjong grant it?

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While Chi Soo is looking upon Ok Jung’s chambers, our cute yet evil Choi Suk-bin discovers him. She’s not shy to march up right to him and demand what he’s doing. Chi Soo, of course, is surprised. (I actually really enjoyed watching Choi Suk-bin… I think I might even like her as of now.)

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She demands what he’s doing, and he simply tells her that he’s exploring.

They’re interrupted with the arrival of Sukjong and Ok Jung in the distance, walking together, their hands clasped tight. From a distance, the two of them really do seem happy and still in love. And the other two, Chi Soo and Choi Suk-bin look at the two love birds with longing and greed. Chi Soo is after Ok Jung, Choi Suk-bin is after the king. Can we say, alliance? They could work together, but I don’t know if it’ll happen. Either way: these two want Ok Jung and Sukjong separated.

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Chi Soo and Choi Suk-bin hide when they spot Hyun Mu staring at them. Hyun Mu notices everything, I swear. But I guess that’s what a guard is supposed to do.

I think the conversation that Choi Suk-bin and Chi Soo share is an important one. Choi Suk-bin is certainly not stupid; of course not, she can’t be dumb if she’s going to make the king fall in love with her. She’s cunning enough, she’s tempting enough.

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Choi Suk-bin shows to be a temptress as she places a hand on Chi Soo. Ooh, certainly, she does know what men want.

Choi Suk-bin: From the looks of it, you’re not here to sightsee. You’re here to steal… because your gaze is like mine. You’re like a fish caught in a trap… splish, splash.

Chi Soo is clearly done with her and he walks away. But Choi Suk-bin looks once more upon the King and his lover, Ok Jung, and gives a sly smile. It’s a smile that reads I will definitely make it all mine. She recalls her meeting with Ok Jung and how she vowed to become like Ok Jung when she grows up. And she is on her way to make her dream a reality.

What I found intriguing is that when Choi Suk-bin recalls her memory of Ok Jung, she remembers how Ok Jung gave her the norigae that she actually stole.

Choi Suk-bin: If I wasn’t caught, it wouldn’t be considered stealing.

Ok Jung:
There’s a better way than that. If I give you this, then it isn’t considered stealing. But it’s only this once.

I think this very scene could connect back to future events. Why? Ok Jung said that that is the last time that she willingly gives something to Choi Suk-bin. Currently, Choi Suk-bin wants everything that Ok Jung has: the king’s love, the concubine status, and Chwi Seon Dang, a palace building created just for her. I don’t think that in the future Ok Jung could ever willingly give Choi Suk-bin anything anymore, and that’s why Choi Suk-bin will just have to steal it. Perhaps, realizing that Ok Jung will not give it to her or that the King’s mind about Ok Jung will never change, Choi Suk-bin will make the decision to lead Ok Jung to her downfall by pairing up with Inhyeon.

And with that, we have a time skip. Several months later, Ok Jung’s belly is full, and she’s almost ready to give birth. But before that, we have a little bit of comical relief. Ok Jung has become a trendsetter in the palace as all the ladies of the court try to copy her lipstick. Hah, it’s really cute. And it’s so funny how the King and his servant know exactly what’s going on.

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Finally, Ok Jung is giving birth. And she’s having a difficult time. Of course, back then, they didn’t have things like epidurals, so it was all natural birth. Painful, painful. I can only imagine. Gah.

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On a side note, it looks like the loyal Palace Maid Um has finally become a sang-goong, a court lady.

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She asks Ok Jung’s brother to call Ok Jung’s mother.

While Ok Jung is giving birth, several other parties are pacing and pacing. All of them are anxious – the king, the queen, the Western faction, and the Southern faction. If Ok Jung gives birth to a son, it will be a victory to the Southern faction and the King, but the son will pose a threat to the queen and the Western faction.

No one can relax, no one can breathe.

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The Southern faction – Jo Sa Seok, Jang Hyun, and Jang Hee Jae – are all excited. If Ok Jung bears a son, their power will only grow much to their delight.

On the other hand, the king is anxious about the arrival of his first child. He directly goes to Ok Jung’s chambers to await the birth of his child.

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And of course, who would be most worried? Of course, it’s Inhyeon. She knows that Ok Jung’s power will continue to grow if she has a son. She knows that Sukjong will continue to favour her. She’s scared about the future, despite the fact that she knows that any child of Ok Jung’s will become hers.

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The Western faction is anxious as well, predicting that Sukjong will definitely make the child, if he is a son, into the won-ja (meaning first child). It is a title that is given to sons who have not received the title of Crown Prince yet. Of course, the Western faction will do anything to stop that from happening as they don’t want their power to dwindle. The Western faction knows that the the current king, Sukjong, is not the same king as his father. He is strong where his father was weak.

However, while Ok Jung is giving birth and desperately pleading for her mother, her mother’s arrival to the palace is disturbed by Lee In Soo. When he sees Ok Jung’s mother arrive, he pulls her out of the carriage, saying that women who are slaves are not allowed to ride in the carriages. Ok Jung’s mother does have the guts to defend herself saying it was something that was ordered by the king, and says: by defying this order, you are defying/insulting your king.

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Sukjong finds out about this and he is furious. He says to Lee In Soo that he will definitely be punished for defying the king’s order, no matter what the law says. Of course, in this case, I guess both arguments seem viable. The law is the law, even if it is difficult, but the king’s orders are something that should not be taken lightly. The question as to whether the king is above or below the law comes into place.

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Sukjong doesn’t really care about the rules, I think. He cares about the people. He’s wanted to create a better world for his citizens, but the ministers continuously say no to him. It’s also the reason why he doesn’t get along with Inhyeon because she places the law before the people.

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But as Sukjong watches the carriage go up on flames, I think he realizes for the millionth time the horror that remains.

Even if he gives Ok Jung the highest position that can be given to a concubine, her lowly status is something that is not easily changed. And not only that, the people around him will continue to reject it. It does not disappear as easily as he wants it to. Another bitter lesson learnt and he keeps thinking of other ways that he can protect Ok Jung and his future son from this path.

Finally, the baby’s cries can be heard. Is the child a boy? Is the child a girl? The whole palace holds their breath as they wait for the answer.

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A proud moment for Sukjong, I’m sure. He’s become a father!

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(Such a cute baby!)

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Sukjong stares at his first child with such love, such wonder.

And Ok Jung finally tells him: Congratulations, your Majesty. It’s a prince. With such happiness, Sukjong hugs Ok Jung fiercely.

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Sukjong says that he will give the title of won-ja to his first son and Ok Jung is very surprised, asking if he will really do it. In this moment, I still think we see Ok Jung’s modesty and humbleness. She’s still concerned about her lowly status. And yet with the King’s determination, she is very moved. Sukjong tells her that the title of won­-ja is a present that he will give to his first son.

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And of course, what kind of drama would it be if we didn’t have someone overhearing them? Inhyeon is devastated, I think. Hurt, maybe? She knows it’s something that should be hers, but it’s not. She wants kids, but she can’t have them. It’s a real sad story, and my heart goes out to her for that.

Sukjong names the child Lee Yoon, who is future Gyeongjong, the twentieth king of the Joseon Dynasty. Even though Jang Hee Bin’s son did become the king, his reign was very short because of his ill health. He died young.

Of course, with Sukjong wanting to grant the title of won-ja to his son, the ministers – especially the Western faction – disagree to it, saying that Queen Inhyeon is still young and that she is perfectly capable of having her own children. The Southern faction is on the side the supports the king’s will as it is something that will grow their power and strength.

Ah, it’s an endless struggle and Sukjong’s growing tired of it. With the birth of his son, he’s determined to sweep away the bad things and only put in the good. He’s determined to make a perfect setup so that when his son is old enough to rise to the throne, it’ll be easier for him. In that way, Sukjong’s dedication and love for his son is great.

 

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 Sukjong gives them a warning: For those that continue to go against my wishes, then whoever it may be, I will not forgive you. The threat runs deep as we can see the fear being instilled with his subjects. Of course, this is what Sukjong wants. For the ministers to know fear. They need to know to fear the king’s decisions.

However, there is something strange going on with our King. It appears that he has troubles breathing and he clutches his chest. Some of the ministers eye with this with joy, others with horror.

Sukjong is sick. And that’s something that is not good for the future.

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He overcomes it and finally says that he will make his first son the won­-ja. Sukjong tells them if you have a problem, leave. With that, the Southern faction continue to grow in strength.

On the other hand, Inhyeon finally visits Ok Jung and her newly born child. Inhyeon is delighted at seeing the prince, her face is so full with innocent wonder and love. You can tell that Inhyeon really would do nothing to harm this child. If anything, she wants to dote on this baby. And who could blame her? Even if the child isn’t hers biologically, she still has a maternal instinct within her that resonates strongly.

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Of course, Ok Jung hands over the baby to Inhyeon, but she realizes the horror as Inhyeon looks so lovingly at the baby, as if the baby is hers. I think Ok Jung’s predicament is understandable. Of course it’s unbearable for a mother to be separated from her child; they say that a mother is willingly to do anything for their kids.

Realizing the dangers of placing her son in Inhyeon’s care, she quickly rips the baby away from Inhyeon, and makes up the excuse that Yoon cries if he is not held by his mother. Then, she hastily requests for Inhyeon to go away as her body is not fully recovered.

Inhyeon tells her that she’s sorry for slapping Ok Jung and asks that Ok Jung doesn’t have to act in such a way towards Inhyeon. As the queen leaves, Ok Jung says that she would like to do that too, but she says that Inhyeon shouldn’t have looked at her son in that way—like he was hers.

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Once again, we’re talking politics. Jang Hyun and the king meet. Obviously, Jang Hyun is trying to convince Sukjong to take the Southern faction side, but Sukjong is smarter than that. He has to create an opportunity with enough justice to wipe out the Western faction’s power and make it more equal by replacing it with the Southern faction.

Sukjong is too smart to be so easily influenced by others’ words. He’ll listen, but he’ll make his desire the absolute one. He’s quite the thinker.

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Ah, the conversations that Sukjong has with Prince Dong Pyeong are often some of my favourites. Why? We see Sukjong’s true self, his battle with politics, and the struggles that he faces. Prince Dong Pyeong is a good listener and really does care for the welfare of the King. He wants to help the king in the best way that he can. Really, I think they could be called brothers.

Sukjong tells Dong Pyeong about his worries about his son’s future. It will be a difficult path for him and have to face many things, and that’s why Sukjong wants to help him out as much as possible. He wants to give his son a Joseon that will be peaceful.

In order to make his son the perfect Crown Prince, he decides that he needs to change Ok Jung’s status. Something that is higher than bin which can mean that only the queen’s position is left. If he leaves her alone like this, the war will continue to rage on. Prince Dong Pyeong is surprised that Sukjong has already set his mind so far ahead, but Sukjong says it is something that he has been preparing for since he promised Ok Jung that her first son would become the next heir to the throne.

Again, we see that Ok Jung’s ascension to queen is something that’s more political rather than being something that Ok Jung made the king do through her evil seduction. So, in this way, maybe it’s showing us that “different” Jang Hee Bin.

However, Prince Dong Pyeong still seems to be greatly worried.

On the other hand, Inhyeon is very anxious about what is going to happen next. Of course, her father is the one that comforts her. He says that no matter what the king’s will is, it will be difficult for the king to get what he wants because that’s the way the country of Joseon is like. And it’s true. During the Joseon Dynasty, there was always a power struggle between the king and his ministers. Sukjong fights against that, wanting to be an absolute rule.

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On a side note, Inhyeon’s hanbok is so pretty. The pastel colours, so pretty. Ok Jung tends to wear darker, bolder colours.

And we finally have a scene with just the lovers.

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Am I the only one who finds it a bit cold when Sukjong calls Ok Jung “Hee Bin?” Well, I know it’s her title and everything, but I keep expecting her to call her by her first name. Anyways.

Sukjong tells Ok Jung that a long, difficult battle lays ahead of them and he warns her that it could a lonely one. Ok Jung says that it’s alright, as long as she has the King beside her, she can handle anything. Indeed, she can.

Sometimes I found myself wondering: does he still love her or is he keeping her by his side because of his son? Thoughts swirl. I’m sure he still loves Ok Jung, but with the birth of his first son, there are greater things ahead of them.

What I should remember is that Sukjong’s love for Ok Jung was real, sincere.

With that, the next day, Sukjong announces that he will make his son into the Crown Prince. He implements his wishes and he’s willingly to purge the Western faction if it comes to that.

But as he is about lay the final decision, he collapses. At first, I was screaming at the scene: WHY? Obviously, we know that the Western faction is going to rejoice in this situation because things weren’t going their way anyways, but the Southern faction is crippled with worry. If the King dies, their dream of regaining power is long gone.

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As the King collapses, chaos storms throughout the palace. Everything changes so quickly, and everyone has to make their own decisions and choices. Some choose right, some choose wrong.

Ah, I feel very conflicted with Queen Inhyeon. I know that she has a good heart, she is a kind person, but it’s difficult because I don’t necessarily like the way she does things. One moment she just seems so helpless and sad, and then in the next, she grasps onto her power and bends things to her will. It almost seems like she doesn’t do anything in front of the King, but as soon as he’s down, she rises to her power and takes control. I don’t know how to explain it… it’s just I’m so conflicted when it comes to her. But in the end, Inhyeon didn’t do anything wrong… she’s innocent.

Inhyeon does a good job acting strong and calm in front of others. Especially when it comes to dealing with Ok Jung, she shows others that she can handle Ok Jung. But when they’re alone, it seems like another story.

Ok Jung rushes to meet Sukjong after hearing that he collapsed, but Inhyeon says that she cannot enter because she is not the official wife. Inhyeon wins the battles against Ok Jung using the justification of the rules and laws, as usual. Nothing new, but it proves to be effective.

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While the King is down, Inhyeon makes her move to steal away Ok Jung’s baby and make Yoon her own son.

Ok Jung rushes to Prince Dong Pyeong for help, crying desperately. Of course Dong Pyeong wants to help her, but he can’t really do anything either. And Inhyeon catches them, and I guess she’s sort of furious.

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With that, the stunning conclusion comes to episode 17, with Inhyeon demanding Ok Jung hand over her son to her. When Ok Jung refuses, Inhyeon asks if she is going to break the promise that she swore before the Queen Mother. She continuously reminds Ok Jung: I won’t do anything to your son, but I will do something to you. Ok Jung can’t let go for it is unbearable and really, she’d rather die than give her son over to Inhyeon.

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Ok Jung begs please, not yet but Inhyeon coldly says no, it begins now.

However, now that Sukjong has fallen into such a dangerous state where his life hangs on the line, Min Yoo Joong is quick enough to act. He knows that this is an opportunity to make everything his.

The doctor tells Min Yoo Joong the current condition the King is, which turns out to be nothing but bad news, and it is when Prince Dong Pyeong comes in, wearing that vicious smile on his face.

Oooooh, I was cheering on Prince Dong Pyeong the whole time. His loyalty is strong. He has a heart of gold and he doesn’t let his own feelings get in the way of him doing the right thing.

Throughout episode 18 we have continuous head-to-head battles between Min Yoo Joong and Prince Dong Pyeong, and I loved each one of them. Min Yoo Joong thinks he has Dong Pyeong around his finger because he believes that no man would resist power when it comes to him, but Min Yoo Joong miscalculates. He chooses wrong and he does pay, in the end.

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Prince Dong Pyeong is suspicious of Min Yoo Joong, but Min Yoo Joong isn’t going to quietly stand there and take what Dong Pyeong says to him. He says to Prince Dong Pyeong, you’re a bloodline to the king and that makes you also someone that could be misunderstood. Obviously, by the prince being there, it makes it look like he’s waiting for an opportunity to seize the throne for himself. They’re both potential threats to the King.

At this point, Hyun Chi Soo realizes that Ok Jung may be kicked out of the palace if the King continues to stay comatose and Inhyeon is the one that takes a hold of the power (meaning the Western faction in general).

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Chi Soo wants it. He wants Ok Jung to be sent out of the palace because he wants her. Ahhh, is this twisted? It is wrong? I don’t know. He’s worried about her, of course, but he’s also not thinking or respecting her choices in some ways. Prince Dong Pyeong let her go because he loved her, but Chi Soo isn’t willingly to do that.

I’m getting the feeling that he seriously despises the King. Yes, indeed.

Queen Inhyeon and her father begin to plot. What shall they do? The King is down. They have two options. One: They can take Lee Yoon, Ok Jung’s son, and make him into the next king. Since he is still young, Inhyeon can rule for him to rule until he comes of age. They would kill off Ok Jung as she is a threat, but Inhyeon worries that Yoon will one day figure out the truth and turn against them. Two: We can side with another prince (in this case, Prince Dong Pyeong) and make him into the King. We can make him into one of us.

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On the other hand, Prince Dong Pyeong tells a comatose-state Sukjong about what is currently going on throughout the palace…

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And yet again, we have a battle between Prince Dong Pyeong and Min Yoo Joong.

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Min Yoo Joong tries to seep it into Prince Dong Pyeong’s mind to desire the King’s position and the prince asks if Min Yoo Joong is trying to get him to commit treason. Prince Dong Pyeong says without hesitation that the person that he fears the most is the current king, Sukjong. It’s a fear that everyone should carry in their hearts, I think. Sukjong should have never been underestimated, never should have been challenged. I hope they learnt their lesson well.

Min Yoo Joong seems to offer Prince Dong Pyeong two decisions, but they both seem like impossible choices. But as it turns out, Prince Dong Pyeong is a better actor than most.

We have another confrontation between Ok Jung and Inhyeon. Obviously, Ok Jung cannot give up her son to Inhyeon, but Inhyeon says that she must, saying it’s the law. You know, at this point, I think that both sides of them can be understood. Inhyeon is saying that by leaving the palace, she can protect her son as well as save herself. She tells Ok Jung: do you think my father can’t kill you if he puts his mind to it? Ok Jung should know what Inhyeon’s father is capable of. But Ok Jung throws right back at Inhyeon: How can we live apart? How could a mother and her son live apart? She doesn’t expect Inhyeon to exactly understand. Ok Jung asks the queen to be able to see the King one last time, but that request is denied. And that makes Ok Jung frustrated by Inhyeon even more.

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Finally, though, Ok Jung is sent out of the palace. She seems very sad and lost, overwhelmed by the whole situation. She’s unsure what to do, and she’s not exactly determined for vengeance yet. Her life is one sad story after the other, I swear.

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Min Yoo Joong catches Prince Dong Pyeong sitting the king’s seat, acting as if he’s sucked into the whole idea of taking the power for himself. My God, Prince Dong Pyeong is a good actor, I was screaming the whole time: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

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Prince Dong Pyeong offers Min Yoo Joong saying that he’ll become their king in exchange for the safety of Jang Hee Bin and her son. Min Yoo Joong says yes to it, but of course, we know those are lies.

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Inhyeon’s father tells her that it is no longer necessary for them to keep Lee Soon as a king. But Inhyeon disagrees, saying that even if he was cruel to her, he is still my husband. Inhyeon doesn’t want anybody to die. She doesn’t even want to kill Ok Jung – that proves that she is very kind-hearted. She wants to do things the right way, and once again, in that aspect, I think I do respect Inhyeon. Inhyeon seems horrified at the idea of another new King - and she’s shocked to hear that Prince Dong Pyeong would agree to such a thing.

She doesn’t want it, but her father will do what he wants, no matter what she says. In the end, Inhyeon is a victim. And it looks like she’s going to be used as a political pawn.

Deposing her will be the final blow to the Western faction and make them able to bring the Southern Faction back into power.

And well, Ok Jung gets kidnapped.

It turns out to be Hyun Chi Soo. What a way to get a girl, Chi Soo. Yep. Just kidnap her! For sure, she’ll turn to your side now.

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Ok Jung is nonetheless surprised but she is glad to see Chi Soo. She asks him what happened to him and he tells her everything. He even tells her that Jang Hyun killed his mother. Of course, Ok Jung is in shock. However, despite that, Ok Jung cannot turn to Chi Soo’s side. She has chosen the King above everything else.

Chi Soo warns her that she is just going to be used by Jang Hyun. She’s going to be used until he takes everything from her and then, I think he’d be more than happy to throw her away. Sukjong is the same. The moment that Ok Jung becomes an obstacle in his way of political battles, I think he’s going to abandon her for the same reason.

Chi Soo says that if Ok Jung turns to Jang Hyun, then they may end up in war against each other. Ok Jung says that she wishes that it doesn’t come to that.

Anyways, Chi Soo’s battle is already lost with what happens to Min Yoo Joong.

So, Min Yoo Joong decides that he was going to get rid of Ok Jung’s son. But Inhyeon, being smart enough, runs out of her chambers to find Yoon again.

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And of course, Hyun Mu notices everything.

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I guess he might’ve stopped the assassination attempt on the baby.

Then we switch to a scene where it looks like assassins sneak into Sukjong’s chambers, ready to kill him… It’s a very short-lived scene and I was surprised. But then we got a full explanation later on.

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On the other hand, Ok Jung returns to her family’s house. She sleeps with her mother, but she keeps having bad dreams and misses her son terribly. Her mother wakes up with her and they talk.

It’s an important conversation, once again foreshadowing Ok Jung’s doomed future. Ok Jung tells her mother: I realized that Inhyeon wasn’t the problem. I should’ve stayed beside my child and the King. I’ve come to realize something. My place is in the palace – I will live there, and I will die there. I would rather die than lose the King and my son.

It’s interesting that she says that Inhyeon wasn’t the problem, or something like that. It’s not her biggest problem. I guess I was a bit happy to hear this because we, the viewers, once again saw this kind side to Ok Jung.

I will live in the palace, I will die in the palace. Usually, concubines were sent away after the King died, and lived in their own private residences or whatever. The only woman that remained after the king’s death was the Queen. Ok Jung is determined to die in the palace and she vows that she will not leave the palace unless it is her own will. It’s interesting, how easily she speaks these words, and she does die in the palace. Not the way she would’ve wanted I think, but one does need to be careful what to wish for.

And her mother tells her, I will no longer stop you. Do as you wish, and I will try to help you as much as possible. Perhaps her mother is tired of this treatment as well, all this suffering.

Then comes the final decision that will make or break people. Prince Dong Pyeong has “allied” himself with Min Yoo Joong, and the latter has taken full belief in that. The Western faction’s fate relies on Dong Pyeong rising to the throne. Of course, they don’t get what they want.

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The Western faction is anxious and ready to greet their new king. But the doors open…

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Indeed, it is the return of the King! (I loved the epic music)

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And that smile Prince Dong Pyeong flashes to Min Yoo Joong. YES! YES! It was so refreshing to see.

We flashback to what actually went on. Sukjong and Prince Dong Pyeong plotted this whole thing. They took it to the extreme to pave the perfect path for Sukjong’s son and to smoke out their enemies. It was a perfect trap and it worked. I was screaming at this point: I KNEW IT!

Episode 18 circles a lot around Sukjong, putting him into the spotlight. I didn’t mind it. It was interesting. He’s a smart, strong king. I think this goes to reflect on what Sukjong actually did. He did build a good foundation for the future kings – to his son, Yeongjo (Choi Suk-bin’s son) and Jeongjo.

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Sukjong asks Prince Dong Pyeong to help him, saying that he needs justification to get rid of those he doesn’t want in his court and to make sure that the Crown Prince survives. The ministers may try to resist the king’s will, but the King will do a hwan-guk (환국, change/turn in state in terms of politics).

And we have the crumbling of the great, powerful Min Yoo Joong. What pisses me off is the fact that he has the nerve to still look proud like he did nothing wrong. He doesn’t think what he did was wrong. He still tries to defend himself. Ugh, I think I may actually hate him.

In the end, Min Yoo Joong doesn’t choose the lesser of two evils like Sukjong does. He chooses treason, and is willingly to accept whatever punishment comes his way.

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I think this was quite the dark expression Sukjong makes before everything fades to black.

Another change in the tides come – Ok Jung returns to the palace, and there is the rise of the Southern faction and the fall of the Western faction.

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Yoon returns to his mother’s arms and Inhyeon is at another loss.

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We have a reunion of the lovers, happy and sound. From now on, everything will be done to secure his son’s position as the Crown Prince.

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Inhyeon says that she has an ominous feeling, saying that her intuition has never been wrong. Of course, will she ever see this horrible thing coming her way? Her servant advises her to be strong.

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Here at the court, Sukjong says that he has a request. The Southern Faction ministers, eager to please, ask what it is. And then he says with such great force: I earnestly wish for the deposal of Queen Inhyeon.

Of course, shock should be everywhere. Ah, the way he said it. Of course, it could be because he wants them to take it seriously. At this point, I don’t think Sukjong full-on hates Inhyeon. Rather, he doesn’t like the way she does things and the way that they think are too different for them to be compatible. So, again, he is abandoning the wishes of his mother. Inhyeon has become a pawn for politics, but she won’t be the only one.

Ah, I’m interested how everything else is going down in the next six episodes.

posted 10 months ago with 8 notes

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