The Girl with Antlers

Jang Ok Jung: Miserable ascensions, unexpected results, and the birth of a new flower (Episode 19-20)

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Oh, if you asked me to describe episodes 19-20 in one word, I would most definitely say: painful. The transformation of Ok Jung from a kind girl who aspired to make the best clothes has become a woman of ambition and ruthlessness is hard to watch. We understand her, sure. But I think based on this week, she’s turned into something else. With her ascension as Queen, it has made her very unstable and paranoid. But that’s what at the top means. She thought it would’ve brought her happiness, but it didn’t. And also, I just read something on Tumblr: understanding someone’s back story explains their behaviour but does not excuse it. YES! Thank you. We understand Ok Jung’s behaviour, but it does not excuse her from all the bad things that she has done this week. God, I didn’t actually even think that she would get this extreme.

What’s even more painful is that Sukjong is beginning to grow distant from her. He knows what she’s done, but he’s keeping it hidden because he doesn’t want to face that truth, or at least, not yet (this is what I think, at least). It obviously hurts him that no one can accept her properly like they did with Queen Inhyeon (a fact that upsets him), but he’s doing what he does so that he can make a better future for his son. I still like Sukjong, but he isn’t exactly the world’s greatest or nicest person. But at least there’s a character flaw.

Watching their love story crumble into nothing, it hurts. We know their past, we know what they were like – to see it so different and distant, it hurts. I actually had to pause the episodes several times and calm myself because I could actually feel second-hand embarrassment for Ok Jung. It hurts to see her. It’s also very frustrating and annoying that it turned out this way; again, we were all expecting something so very different.

What’s left is the ending. The doomed ending. Sukjong will most definitely let go of Ok Jung’s hand…

 Explaining the title: Ok Jung’s ascension to Queen is nothing but misery for her, Sukjong is disappointed with the results of change in political state as the Southern faction proves to be incompetent and unable to carry out his wishes, and our innocent-looking evil Choi Suk-bin “wins” the king’s favor, giving rise to another flower from the Western faction.

Oh, the final war begins now.

(Also: I’m really sorry for this extremely delayed post to anyone who was waiting. I had trouble writing this and I had so much to do this past week. I know. Excuses, excuses. I’ll try better next time, if anyone is still out there reading. There’s only four episodes left, hopefully I survive without ripping my own hair out.)

 So, let’s begin with episode 19. The scene opens with Sukjong and Inhyeon talking. Obviously, Inhyeon already knows that something bad is going to happen. I feel like these two have a sense of fake politeness, or at least, that applies to Sukjong. He smiles and is polite to the queen, but he has this underlying dissatisfaction with her and continues to attack her indirectly with his words. Of course, Inhyeon recalls what she said once about her dream and her father warns her: be careful about what you say in front of the king. Perhaps because he will use it against her, and yes, Sukjong ends up doing just that.

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We flashback to the scene where we left off in episode 18 with Sukjong earnestly asking for the deposal of Queen Inhyeon.

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However, as soon as Sukjong utters those words, both the Western faction and Southern faction go into a turmoil. The Western faction will obviously be against it, but even one of the ministers from the Southern faction says that it is something that should not be taken lightly. For the Queen to be deposed, there needs to be justification or else the citizens will not accept it. In truth, Inhyeon really doesn’t done anything wrong, but Sukjong wants to get rid of her so that he can grow his absolute power as well as pave a better path for his son and Ok Jung.

Sukjong asks the ministers: If I give you the life of Min Yoo Joong, will you accept my wish of the queen’s deposal?

If Inhyeon remains, the Western Faction will still continue to grow and cause massive problems to Ok Jung and her son, Yoon.

Nonetheless, I was a bit shocked. Why? I didn’t expect Ok Jung to be all fierce and vicious, demanding the Southern faction ministers: WHEN CAN I BECOME QUEEN?

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Indeed, there’s that infamous greedy Jang Hee Bin. And, well, I didn’t like it. She’s also getting very impatient as well. But one should be careful what they wish for, right?

Ok Jung then calls upon the whole Southern Faction to discuss with them.

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She asks them how much longer she has to wait before she can sit in the Queen’s spot. Of course, they give their side to the argument and Ok Jung smiles and cheekily asks: since when have I followed the rules? Indeed, Ok Jung is a woman that wrote down new history, being the first woman on a non-noble class to rise to the power of Queen.

Of course, I thought that Jo Sa Seok felt a bit unsettled watching this “new” Ok Jung, but he was also the one that hoped that she would have a little greed/ambition. Well, here it is. Her elder brother, Jang Hee Jae, seems to be eating up this opportunity. He’s been the greedy one from the start without a kind bone in his body, unlike his sister. He’s also very rash compared to Ok Jung who has been said to “think things through.” And that’s right. Ok Jung is cunningly smart. If she hadn’t been smart, she would’ve never survived.

We have another conversation between Prince Dong Pyeong and Sukjong. Prince Dong Pyeong worries that Sukjong’s actions have been to reckless – how could he ever think about deposing of the current Queen? Of course, Sukjong explains it to him that it is all for his son, and in order to make Yoon’s future better, he has to change the status of his mother, Ok Jung. Ok Jung’s status will only become a weak point for Yoon if she continues to stay the way she is. If Sukjong doesn’t get rid of Min Yoo Joong at this point, the suffering will continue.

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Of course, Prince Dong Pyeong seems to be greatly worried about Ok Jung. Oh, when is he ever not?

We have the final battle between Sukjong and Min Yoo Joong before the deposal of Queen Inhyeon. Min Yoo Joong is protesting and argues that Sukjong cannot get rid of Inhyeon because there is no justification for it. Sukjong fires back that if he can find that justification, will they accept Inhyeon’s deposal?

Sukjong does have tricks up his sleeves. He lists the different legitimate reasons that Inhyeon could be deposed. The prime one would be “jealousy” (투기). Inhyeon came to tell Sukjong that Ok Jung was a beast reincarnated in the form of a woman that was shot by the king and thus, she would be unable to bear children. However, Ok Jung gave birth to a son. He also lists the fact that Inhyeon doesn’t have a son and she also insulted the memory of the Queen Mother through her talk of her nightmare about Ok Jung.

Min Yoo Joong is left speechless, and he falls once again.

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On the other hand, hearing this news, Inhyeon cannot allow her father to be killed. She goes to talk to Sukjong about it, and makes her own deal.

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She asks the King not to kill her father, but Sukjong says that it cannot be helped.

Sukjong: That’s politics—they want your fahter’s life and your deposal.

Inhyeon: Then I’ll accept my deposal, but in turn, please save my father.

Sukjong: Then I have nothing to give to the Southern faction.

Inhyeon: I saved your son from being assassinated while you were unconscious. This is a fair trade, is it not?

Or something like that. I like the fact that even though Inhyeon herself is a dangerous situation, she thinks about her family before herself. I also admire that she can handle Sukjong himself and not be afraid of him. She knows how to work her way around him. She’s not someone that’s particularly strong, but she’s not helpless and weak either.

Thus, Sukjong agrees to her request, and lays down his order: Inhyeon is to be deposed and stirpped of her title as Queen and Jang Hee Bin (Jang Ok Jung) is to appointed to Queen, and her parents get their respective titles.

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Ok Jung then goes to visit Sukjong to give her gratitude and thanks. However, her happiness is disturbed when she sees Choi Suk-bin passing by her, almost as a subtle threat. Oooh, things are getting interesting.

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It’s almost a foreshadowing of the ominous future. As Inhyeon is cast away, a new threat arises and dares to take Ok Jung’s everything away from her…

Ok Jung is quite terrified at this point and it shows her first fears of how there might be another woman for Sukjong that appears. Instead, she discovers Sukjong with their baby. And he tells her that he has left a gift for her. He says that everything that has been done is for the promise that he made her. Ah, but how long will that promise last? I think we’re reaching an end.

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Ok Jung returns to her chambers, only to discover that Sukjong has presented her with the best clothes that a woman could ever wear…

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Truly, it’s gorgeous. And with that, we have the coronation of Jang Ok Jung into the new queen of Joseon. I was glad to see them so happy, for once, after everything that happened. Despite the pain, I still think they love each other. However, I have to note that Prince Dong Pyeong didn’t look to happy. Of course, he’s always thinking about what could go wrong with Ok Jung even though it’s no longer in his place.

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On the other hand…

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 The scene where Inhyeon is dressed in the complete white hanbok was a very emotional scene. Especially when Ok Jung came in. It was a very intense, yet sad scene. They confront each other for one last time (at least for now) and exchange their words. They’re still in battle against one another and they always will be. And yet, they both try to appear strong when facing each other. In a way, they’re both being used politically as pawns and they will continue to be used. I’m anticipating that Choi Suk-bin will become a political tool for Sukjong.

They want to show one another that there’s nothing wrong, when they’re both breaking apart on the inside. Visibly, they are both shaken by one another.

However, it was really frustrating for me. While I want to cheer on Ok Jung and be happy for her success, I’m also dreading what Inhyeon says because it’s all true. Ok Jung’s doom began as soon as she sat on that throne. Her misery and paranoia began then, and it’s only going to get worse. It hurts. It was painful watching this scene.

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After listening to all that Inhyeon has to say to Ok Jung, she basically predicts the future. She tells Ok Jung that one day, she will return to the palace. She warns Ok Jung of the future and to be careful of the King, repeating those words: the king is no longer a man, but simply the king.

Oh, this scene hurt. BECAUSE WE ALL KNEW INHYEON WAS RIGHT.

However, Ok Jung isn’t the type to take anything silently. She tells Inhyeon: Don’t blame me so much. Everything I did, it was for love.

Inhyeon doesn’t really seem to take this to heart, but instead says: This might the start of your unhappiness, as this position as Queen is can be stolen or lost. Let’s see how long you last.

Ok Jung vows that she will not endure, but that she will protect her position, no matter what it takes.

It’s also interesting that Inhyeon got a visit from the shaman, who predicted that Inhyeon will die in the very spot as a Queen. Indeed, she does die a Queen, but she dies at the age of 35. It’s considered quite young now, but back then, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t considered that young.

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Well, this just gives Inhyeon more hope and confidence. Eh, I don’t know if I like that, but whatever.

 Sukjong shares another conversation with Prince Dong Pyeong, saying that despite making a promise to his mother, he couldn’t protect Inhyeon in the end. Prince Dong Pyeong tries to reassure him by saying that he did all for the Crown Prince and Ok Jung.

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Oh, the situation that I feared has come upon us. Things got heated up between Jang Hyun and Ok Jung this past week. Jang Hyun demands that Ok Jung keeps her promise of making him the father-in-law to the king, but Ok Jung says that it is not that easy for the king has already made up his mind. And of course, after learning the truth that Jang Hyun was the one that actually killed her teacher, I don’t think that she’s going to do him any more favours.

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 While I want to cheer for Ok Jung in that manner, I also fear this situation. Remember when I said that I was scared that Jang Hyun’s own greed might lead Ok Jung to her own doom? Well, I’m thinking that Jang Hyun might contribute to a little bit of it.

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It’s interesting how as Jang Hyun leaves, he states: Ok Jung… Since you’ve gotten a taste of power, you’ve gone completely blind. I don’t know exactly about that, but I don’t think Ok Jung really wants to associate herself with Jang Hyun anymore. She’s never really liked him from the beginning. She used him to get what she wanted, and now, possibly, she wants to throw him away.

He knows that she won’t keep her promise, making her an enemy of his.

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On the other hand, despite the fact that Inhyeon has been sent out of the palace, she still maintains hope. She knows that she will find her way back to her rightful spot, and her servant is touched by her own hope.

For the first time, we see interaction between Inhyeon and Choi Suk-bin, and they will form an alliance to bring down Ok Jung… They seem very friendly with one another, even from the beginning.

 Ok Jung, ever since her ascension to queen, seems to be plagued with nightmares. Ah, the poor girl. She dreams of another woman (in this case, Inhyeon) taking Sukjong away from her. Ok Jung needs to realize that there’s a bigger problem that Inhyeon which is Choi Suk-bin.

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In her anxiety and panicked state, she rushes to go find out where the King is. She doesn’t believe the servant when he says that Sukjong is still doing work and she marches right in. As soon as she lays her eyes on the palace maid, she goes to slap her, demanding what she is doing… but only goes to realize that she has made a fool out of herself and embarrassed the king. Oh, I was feeling second hand embarrassment for Ok Jung. I had to pause the scene, calm myself, and then move on.

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Uh-oh. She messed up.

Later on, Ok Jung deeply regrets what she has done. While she’s still fretting over the events that have happened, Prince Dong Pyeong comes and visits her. Another dangerous thing to do.

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Prince Dong Pyeong asks if she’s alright, and she says that she is fine. In a moment of his desire, he reaches out to stroke her cheek. Ok Jung is horrified and pulls away, and Prince Dong Pyeong is shocked by his own actions. He apologizes. Ok Jung, being the king girl that she is (or whatever is left of her in there) says that Prince Dong Pyeong doesn’t have to worry about her anymore. He says yes, I have let go of my worries for a long time.

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Little did they know that Sukjong was watching from a distance, and possibly, for the first time realizing what a dangerous presence Prince Dong Pyeong is around Ok Jung. Ah, Ok Jung notices a little too late, while Dong Pyeong remains oblivious to the whole situation.

 I was worried that Sukjong would fly into a rage without knowing the true story, but he doesn’t show his anger right away. Instead, he walks away, and deals with them individually later.

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 This scene was interesting. Hyun Mu confronts Prince Dong Pyeong about his actions and tells him to stop expressing his feelings of love for the queen. Prince Dong Pyeong asks what is he talking about and Hyun Mu reveals without hesitation that Sukjong saw the whole thing, making Dong Pyeong fall into a state of shock and deep worry. Hyun Mu says that he doesn’t care about anything or anyone else except the king and says that if he pushes Sukjong into more loneliness than he is now, he will not forgive Prince Dong Pyeong.

Awwwww, what dedication.

But I feel that Sukjong will bring that loneliness upon himself.

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Of course, there are more political struggles. Even with the change of state and placing the Southern faction into power, Sukjong continues to be dissatisfied with the way things are going. It appears that the Southern faction is not carrying out their tasks as efficiently as the Western faction has been.

I don’t know whether or not it was really like this in actual history. I just know that Sukjong brought back the Western faction after the Southern Faction grew too strong in power, and they were never able to recover from that again.

Really, all Sukjong wants is for the ministers to do their jobs correctly and efficiently. And apparently, that’s too much to ask for.

The final conversation between Sukjong and Prince Dong Pyeong might have been one of the most intense, strained, and scariest conversations they’ve ever had. Of course, Sukjong still cares enough to share the news of politics with Prince Dong Pyeong, but he shows his hidden wrath by bringing up the topic of Ok Jung.

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When Sukjong voices his thoughts about his disappointment and dissatisfaction of the Southern faction, Prince Dong Pyeong says that it is probably because they have not been in power for a long time and they haven’t had a chance to be exposed to certain tasks. In other words, they’re a little bit rusty.

However, the atmosphere of the conversation changes quite suddenly when Sukjong asks when Prince Dong Pyeong is leaving and also questions him about how long he has known Ok Jung. Of course, Prince Dong Pyeong lies because he doesn’t want to hurt the king nor get caught about the fact that he loves Ok Jung. But Sukjong seems to know something, and that leaves Prince Dong Pyeong terrified.

 It’s an unsaid threat. The possessive way that he calls Ok Jung “Our Ok Jung,” basically referring to the fact that she’s his. While Sukjong may seem distant to Ok Jung at times, he cannot bear for her to be taken away from him. Or something like that.

He goes on to say that he and Ok Jung share a “great destiny” together. Indeed, they do.

I think, for the first time, Prince Dong Pyeong feels the fear that he has for the person that he loves most, Sukjong. Let’s hope that their relationship doesn’t go too strained anymore… it would be sad if that happened. Sukjong would continue to lose people that he wants to keep close.

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Prince Dong Pyeong realizes his fear and the danger of his situation.

We reach an end to episode 19 with Hyun Chi Soo finding out a horrible truth. He learns that Ok Jung tried to overthrow the current Queen by poisoning herself and flies into a fit of rage. He’s angry that she would risk her own “precious life” to stay beside the King. I don’t think he realizes or wants to acknowledge the fact that she is in love with someone else, and if he can’t respect that like Prince Dong Pyeong, then he’s a selfish man.

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 The scene ends with a three-way meeting between Hyun Chi Soo, Jang Ok Jung, and Sukjong. Of course, Sukjong doesn’t know the relationship between Ok Jung and Chi Soo (but I wonder if it will be discovered in the end). I think Sukjong notices that Chi Soo seems to be posing a threatening presence to Ok Jung by the way she seems to shaken up.

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And I was screaming the whole time: CHI SOO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

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Oh, of course, Chi Soo goes to stir the waters by telling the king that he has heard a disturbing rumour that Ok Jung was poisoned and both Ok Jung and Sukjong fall into immediate shock. Of course, Sukjong is quick to recover and puts on a calm face. I like the fact that he guides Ok Jung through it, making sure that it’s going to be okay. He later asks that OK Jung takes care of the rumour circling in the women’s court, and he will do the same as well.

Sukjong tells Chi Soo that it has simply become a distorted truth. I feel like if anything he wants to bury this hateful truth for if he reveals it, he could lose Ok Jung in the process. I don’t think he is prepared to do that yet.

After meeting with the King, Ok Jung gets Chi Soo alone. She tells him to stay away from the King, but Chi Soo has no intention to do so saying that Sukjong needs him. Ok Jung says that she is not joking and Chi Soo tells her right back that he isn’t joking either. Sadly, these two have ended up in a war against each other and it is the last thing that Ok Jung wanted.

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 Chi Soo: What are you so afraid of? You were given everything you wanted. Why are you so miserable and worried?

And in that moment, we realize that he knows. He knows how paranoid she is, how unhappy she is. Despite the fact that she has gotten everything, she is in the most unstable state of mind. Being at the top can be a taxing thing. He also knows that Sukjong is a scarier person than you know and tells Ok Jung that the only reason he saved Ok Jung was because she had something he wanted which was his child.

However, Ok Jung cannot face such a cruel and horrible truth because that would hurt too much. She wants to believe in their love, but Sukjong already knows something. He’s just keeping silent about it.

The next few days, Ok Jung is disturbed to see how the palace maids go around mimicking her. We can obviously tell that she’s not easily accepted as Inhyeon was. She’s obviously seen as a temptress that seduced the king into getting what she wants. Little do they know the true story, and they will probably never know it. She almost loses her temper when she sees two palace maids trip in front of the king, in hopes to get his attention.

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I found it interesting that we get a capture of Choi Suk-bin, looking disgusted by what her fellow palace maids are doing.

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Court Lady Uhm says to Ok Jung: Shall I bring them over here to be punished? But I admired Ok Jung for repressing her temper and sadly says that it’s nothing that’s false. They paint her in a bad way. Her image is being distorted and it has been from the beginning, and I guess that will be how she will be remembered.

However, later that night, Ok Jung goes to seek revenge on those two palace maids that tripped themselves in front of the king. I thought she would just give them a warning, but no, she takes it to the extremes. She does the exact same thing that the Queen Mother did and says the same words; I feel like she crossed a new line here, making herself more evil than before. I simply didn’t like the way she handled this. But I guess jealously makes people do ugly things, eh? Like I said, we may understand why she does this, but it doesn’t excuse her behaviour. It isn’t up to her to decide what to do with another girl’s body. Sigh.

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The palace maids vow to never do it again, but Ok Jung will hear none of their excuses. Scary!

But Ok Jung proves not to be completely evil. She sees herself struggling in the palace maid and tells them to stop. Tear-eyed and heartbroken, she turns herself away. Is it too late? I do not know. But I am glad that she had enough sense to stop.

Another figure that has me constantly worried is Ok Jung’s greedy brother, Jang Hee Jae. He’s obviously power hungry, but he’s not the sharpest crayon in the box. Like I said before, he’s rash and doesn’t think things through. However, his dedication to his sister and his protectiveness over her is something that should be noted, I guess.

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Like before, he vows to get rid of any obstacle that gets in her way. I think this foreshadows the future obstacle Choi Suk-bin. Sources say that Jang Hee Jae was sentenced to death because he was accused of cursing Choi Suk-bin but other sources say that he was involved with the cursing of Queen Inhyeon alongside Ok Jung. Either way, he was executed, but I believe he was killed before Ok Jung was. I might be wrong though.

Anyways, this leads to Jang Hee Jae saying that he will get rid of Chi Soo, but the assassination attempt does not succeed.

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Chi Soo seems speechless by this whole ordeal, like he’s unsure what to make out of it. By knowing that Jang Hee Jae was behind this, he knows that Ok Jung must be involved. I guess it’s the moment that he realizes that Ok Jung was serious about her threat, but Chi Soo is also serious about his. I’m not sure what to make of him.

 I don’t know whether or not he still loves her, or if it’s turned into hate. I don’t think it’s hate. It’s more like he doesn’t want anyone else to have her but him. It’s just, it’s hard to imagine that he genuinely loves her after he sets his mind to destroying everything she has. He wants to ruin her.

I don’t know if that’s because he can’t forgive her for falling in love with the King or if it’s because he thinks she will come to him after she has lost everything. If it’s the latter, that’s a twisted method and Ok Jung will never say yes to him. Or maybe, he’s just decided that Ok Jung cannot be saved and thinks of her as a lost cause. In short, Chi Soo has lost his mind.

Another threat comes Ok Jung’s way in the form of Jang Hyun.

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Jang Hyun: Do you know what I’ve done for you? I’ve got blood on my hands for you…

Again, this is why I said that he would lead her to her downfall. Or he has a strong chance to bring her down. He’s done a lot for her but if she’s not willing to pay her promise, he threatens to tear her down. Ok Jung is scared but their conversation is interrupted with the arrival of the King. It’s just my feeling, but I think Sukjong can tell that there is something going on between the two of them… and it unsettles him.

On the other hand, Chi Soo and Inhyeon meet one another, knowing that they’re on the same side.

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It’s interesting how Inhyeon asks Chi Soo whether business is the only thing that he wants. He replies saying that there is one other thing that he wants, but he wishes not to disclose it to her. Obviously, it’s Ok Jung. Who else?

Once again, Sukjong’s dissatisfaction with the way politics is going only continues to grow. The Southern faction’s abilities pale in comparison to those of the Western faction. Nothing is going the way he wants it to, even though he did everything to change it. That is why it is an unexpected result that comes to hit Sukjong.

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Another cute moment was that Sukjong still has a soft spot for our kind-hearted Queen Inkyeong. Awww, historically, I think they had a pretty good relationship.

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While spending some time outside of the palace, Sukjong happens to hear a lovely yet amusing song sung by the children. It has an almost addicting tune, seeing as how easily it is catching along amongst the young population.

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He asks a citizen the meaning of the song. She explains it, saying that one flower will soon wilt, and the other one will bloom even once the ice melts. It’s symbolic in saying that even though the King has fallen completely for Jang Ok Jung, the deposed Queen Inhyeon will return back to the throne. Of course, this comes as a big shock to Sukjong. He wants to be good for his citizens (and they do think he is good), but they just wish that he would turn away from the temptress. And who is behind this masterpiece? Chi Soo.

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An alliance is formed between Chi Soo and Inhyeon with the help of Choi Suk-bin, who will become their new key player, their new “flower” to sway the king’s mind. Of course Inhyeon is skeptical to this whole idea since Ok Jung and Sukjong are just “destined lovers.”

Ooooh, is it bad to say that I sort of really loved how evil Choi Suk-bin was? As for her acting, I’m not sure. Many people don’t seem happy with it (I’m talking about Korean netizens here) but I think it’s passable. I’m not cringing, or anything. We’re only going to see her for a little bit more, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal.

Chi Soo convinces Inhyeon that no matter how strong a relationship is, there is always a weak spot somewhere and he will target it using Choi Suk-bin.

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Back at the palace, Sukjong continues to think about the song and falls into another confused state where he debates his choices. I think it’s in moments like these that he really seems “lonely” as a king, and how he suffers. He wants to do the right thing but it’s never the easy choice. He has to make sacrifices – in order to gain something, he must give something up. And in the end, to gain his absolute power, he will for sure abandon the love of his life, Ok Jung. He will let go of her hand. There really isn’t a way that it can be happy, at this point. Historically, Ok Jung dies. That’s how it is. That’s how history is written.

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Eventually, he comes to talk to Ok Jung. She is initially glad that he comes to see her because she hasn’t seen him in a while, but Sukjong coldly states to her that today, he has come to see her as the queen, and not as Ok Jung. His seriousness during the whole conversation makes her worry, and she wonders if she has done anything wrong.

Sukjong: The king needs to fear the public sentiment/people’s mind (민심) for their thoughts can become justification for the king’s actions. No one is good from the beginning. People make mistakes. However, if a person continues to make mistakes over and over again, it becomes a fault. And that person must pay for their fault.

It’s almost a subtle warning that he gives her. He asks Ok Jung to embrace the minds of the people more. Of course, Ok Jung should try, but I do not know whether or not the citizens will accept her so easily.

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The Western faction begins to move saying that they should send a “flower” to the King and Chi Soo says that he has a fair flower in mind, referring to our evil seductress, Choi Suk-bin. And of course, Inhyeon helps as well. Choi Suk-bin is not an easy girl, she knows what she wants and she’s fierce enough to get it.

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 My God, she’s so fierce. I loved her in this scene. She doesn’t let people push her around.

 I found it intriguing that Sukjong suddenly begins to investigate his mother’s death, realizing that the doctors put too much medicine in than they were supposed to. Of course the criminal turns out to Jang Hyun and Sukjong debates once again, what he should do.

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Sukjong falls into another struggle and contemplates the question that continues to haunt his mind: Can I truly trust no one? Can I truly keep no one by my side, even though I love them? My heart goes out to Sukjong.

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However, to ease his anxious mind, Sukjong decides to go on a walk. Of course, while he is walking, he notices that there is a building that is lit. Curious, he goes inside, only to discover Choi Suk-bin for the first time. He falls into the Western faction trap. Choi Suk-bin appears to be holding a small celebration for the deposed Queen’s birthday. Interested, Sukjong sits down.

Historically, they say that Sukjong fell in love with Choi Suk-bin’s kind hearted motives when he first discovered her praying for Inhyeon’s well-being. Some sources say that she was a palace maid serving under Inhyeon, but most of them say that she was a musuri (meaning water maid). Water maids were one of the lowest statuses amongst women. They were not considered to be official palace maids and they did a lot of miscellaneous tasks and the most difficult tasks (ex. getting water because they used wells back then). Water maids also didn’t live in the palace. Every morning, they would come to work and by the evening, they left to go back home.

It’s safe to say that Choi Suk-bin’s class was lower than Ok Jung’s.

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(Oh, she’s ready, alright.)

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 Sukjong seems shocked that there is another person in here and asks what she is doing. He isn’t at all upset that she’s holding a small ceremony to celebrate the deposed Queen’s birthday, which was probably considered a crime back then. He talks to her, and she acts as innocent as possible. But our King is smarter than that. He continues to have a conversation with her.

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 He asks her what her job in the palace is and he comments that her work must be hard. She says that it is difficult (something that is considered quite bold to say back then) and continues to go on saying that she wants to quickly escape from these tasks.

Sukjong: What do you want to do then?

Choi Suk-bin: I want to serve you, my King. (*)

*which basically is saying that she wants to sleep with the king and receive his favor. Again, this girl is stepping over her boundaries but clearly she doesn’t care. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to say it.

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Sukjong is left speechless by his words, and in that moment, it all clicks together. He can see that it’s a trap, it’s a situation that someone has created in order to use him. He plays along, but he’s too smart to give in. Ah, this is why I fell in love with Sukjong.

When the lights go out, Inhyeon gets the news. She seems a bit shocked, wondering how easily the bonds between Ok Jung and Sukjong is broken. Little does she know the truth behind it.

The truth behind this meeting is that Sujong didn’t actually sleep with Choi Suk-bin. They created the illusion that it did. They made it seem like it happened. In this case, Sukjong doesn’t win much of anything, but Choi Suk-bin wins because she can now be released from her everyday duties. If she becomes a special sang-goong like Ok Jung had in the beginning, she could live the rest of her life in the palace without doing anything. Of course, it’d be a lonely life since the King only looked upon her once. But we all know that Sukjong will be coming back for more (no matter how painful that is for Ok Jung).

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Things were getting hot and heavy, but he laughs then. To her shock, she’s confused and a bit humiliated. But she played with the King first, so he played her back. I think it’s in this moment that Choi Suk-bin realizes that the king shouldn’t be taken so lightly nor should be underestimated.

However, either way, in the morning, the news that Sukjong slept with another woman is widespread. Ok Jung is devastated and demands that the girl be brought to her immediately. The Southern faction is going into panic mainly because they say that the palace maid was to be on the Western faction side. The Western faction sees hope saying that this may mean that the king is turning back to their side again.

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The birth of the new flower.

There’s another important scene that I wanted to comment on. After “spending the night” with Choi Suk-bin, deep in the night Sukjong comes to visit a sleeping Ok Jung. He sits there and watches her sleep for a long time, thinking about something. I’m not sure what. Is he thinking that he’s sorry? Is thinking that there was no other way? Is he thinking he loves her but it’s time to let her go? I don’t know. But I think this scene does prove that Sukjong is still very much in love with Ok Jung no matter what she has done. It’s almost as if he’s saying goodbye in a very silent way. Ok Jung wakes up alone.

Does this mean that he’s slowly letting her go?

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I found it interesting that the song lyrics in the background were saying: I can’t throw you away. It’s almost ironic, in a way.

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However, everything seems to go wrong as soon as Ok Jung drags Choi Suk-bin to her. She gets out the stick and begins to whip at her legs. OUCH! Historically, though, I’ve come across sources that said that this exact thing happened between Inhyeon and Ok Jung. Inhyeon hit Ok Jung in the legs and Sukjong was very anxious about it at the time, as stated in the Annals of Sukjong. Anyways, Choi Suk-bin and Jang Hee Bin never got off to a good start.

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However, Sukjong comes along and discovers this and demands what she has done. He asks her: Is this the type of person you are when I’m not looking? It got me curious. Is he acting? Or is he genuinely horrified?

 He knows that this is the girl who poisoned herself to try and get rid of the Queen – what makes him that she would have done this? Instead of blaming it on Ok Jung, did he stop to think about his own actions and what might’ve happened? I’m just asking questions here. Either way, knowing Sukjong, I feel that there might be something else. Who knows?

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Nonetheless Choi Suk-bin uses the same tricks as Ok Jung once did. It’s a complete reversal in the situation, and it’s ironic and painful at the same time.

 I might’ve said that this week made me lose my faith even more, but the episode reviews for this week seem to be good. I haven’t seen them yet, I’ll do so tomorrow. I didn’t edit this either (because I’m so lazy) but I’ll come around to maybe some other time. Thank you for reading, and I’m sorry if I caused you to wait.

 

posted 10 months ago with 7 notes

  1. genilua reblogged this from raindropsfallingup and added:
    Thank you!
  2. raindropsfallingup reblogged this from genilua and added: