After last week, I was scared to see how this drama would end. I was afraid that I would be disappointed. However, it turns out with this week, my faith in a heart-breaking, tragic ending (one that I wanted from the very beginning) has been restored; they’ve already shown how painful letting go is. Lee Soon seems to have no thoughts to get rid of Ok Jung or let go of her hand, so I’m curious to see how we will build up to the death of Ok Jung. Nonetheless, I do so think that Choi Suk-won is going to be behind it.
Ok Jung seems to have turned back to her good side, once again. After realizing all the mistakes she had made, she makes up her mind to do her best and redeem herself from what she was done. And does she succeed? Her mind is set in the right place, but not everyone is willing to accept it. However, we can appreciate her for putting in so much effort and hard work; it was hard not to fall in love with Ok Jung’s character again through these two episodes. As for Inhyeon, I don’t think I quite like her anymore. She’s becoming annoying. And Choi Suk-won, don’t get me started on her. I don’t know where she gets this annoying confidence and cockiness from when she isn’t even genuinely liked by the King. Lee Soon’s heart belongs to one person, and that being Ok Jung.
Ok Jung and Sukjong’s relationship has been rocky these past few weeks – especially following her incident of self-poisoning. However, despite her mistakes, Sukjong sees that she genuinely wants to do better and become the best queen that she can for him, he forgives her. He never really fell out of love with her. Like all relationships, it is a commitment and it is definitely not easy. Despite that, their love has survived throughout all this struggles, and it is has proved to be strong. Their love has done nothing but strengthened.
Shall we discuss episode 21 first?
We begin with the three way meeting between Sukjong, Ok Jung, and Choi Suk-bin who is still known as Choi-Musuri at this point. Sukjong is horrified to find that Ok Jung has hit Choi Suk-bin the point where her legs are bleeding. Ok Jung is rendered speechless and she tries to feebly explain what has happened, but her words fail her. Instead, Choi Suk-bin speaks up and says to the king to kill her instead for she has made the Queen upset. Oh, she’s a fox this one.
Sukjong gets Ok Jung alone to demand what she has done.
As she is taken away, Choi Suk-bin sneakily smiles at Ok Jung, knowing that she has won the King’s sympathy. She’s manipulated the truth and gotten away with it, or at least, to get what she wants.
The two are left alone. Ok Jung asks why Sukjong listens to Choi Suk-bin’s side to the story, but not her own. He questions Ok Jung’s motives by saying that she acted out of jealously rather than punishing Choi Suk-bin for doing something wrong. Since he cannot watch Choi Suk-bin be injured for the sole reason that she has slept with the King (though she really hasn’t), he says that he has no choice to protect her by giving her a title. He asks Ok Jung to appoint Choi Musuri to Suk-won. Ok Jung, at this point, crumbles and falls to her feet, heartbroken and shattered.
Ok Jung: How can you do this to me, your Majesty? Are you letting of my hand?
She cannot interpret it in another way (and how could she?) but Sukjong is horrified that those words come out of her mouth. He tells her that he is doing everything in his power to make sure that he doesn’t let go of her hand.
Ok Jung goes off about how she wanted to be queen because if she became the queen she would be able to the love the King freely and no one could say anything about it. She thought that nobody would point out her lowly status. She says that all of this has no meaning if the King is no longer by her side.
Sukjong, in turn, tells her that he wants her to end this whole ordeal with appointing Choi Musuri to Suk-won. He tells her to think long and hard about what she should do from now on to be a good queen and to be a political ally and partner to him.
Lee Soon: That is what it is to be Queen.
I think those cold words that were spoken to her. In that moment, perhaps, Ok Jung realizes that she is not happy as Queen and her predictions of what it would be like were completely wrong.
On the other hand, Inhyeon and her servant (Court Lady Hong) seem to be rejoicing at how Ok Jung has been destroyed as the King has given his favor to another woman (Choi Musuri). Well, rejoicing might only be for Court Lady Hong who bursts into laughter hearing the news of how Ok Jung is losing. Of course, she has every reason to hate Ok Jung, but I still don’t like her.
Court Lady Hong asks why Inhyeon is not happy. Inhyeon suspects that there is something behind this whole situation. She does not believe that the relationship would come apart so easily. She voices her thoughts about how she fears the king more. And indeed, she should be afraid of Lee Soon.
Following Sukjong’s orders, Choi Musuri is appointed to the position of Suk-won, meaning that she is now officially considered a member of the royal family.
She comes to greet Ok Jung. She’s arrogant, despite the fact that she hasn’t even received any of the king’s love. However, Choi Suk-won is confident enough to face Ok Jung who is the current queen. It’s interesting how it all comes together. Once upon a time, they had met under different circumstances. They probably thought that they would never see each other again, but their fate brings them together. Their meetings run deep, and Ok Jung comments upon that.
Choi Suk-won shows no hesitation to show her greed and her ambition to rise through the ranks. After all, she had once said that she wanted to become exactly like Ok Jung. She says that if she receives the King’s favor once more, she might be able to become a bin (highest ranking for a concubine). She stops then. I think that Choi Suk-won could have her eyes set out for queen. In the end, she might even try to attain it from Sukjong (at least, that’s what I hear happened in the novel).
Historically, it’s true that Choi Suk-bin was the one that was remaining after the death of Queen Inhyeon and Jang Hee Bin. She could’ve been the most likely candidate to become the next queen, but whether she dreamed of being queen or not, the chance never came as Sukjong laid down the decree forbidding a concubine to ever become the Queen. Sukjong later married his third official wife, Queen Inwon. Choi Suk-bin died outside of the palace, two years before Sukjong died. From what the sources say, she was evicted from the palace soon after the deaths of Jang Hee Bin and Queen Inhyeon.
It’s interesting when Ok Jung states that chances don’t come to everyone, but she acknowledges that Choi Suk-won is very lucky. I’m not sure at this point if Choi Suk-won will rise to through the ranks while Ok Jung is still alive. First of all, Lee Soon doesn’t seem all that interested in her. Also, she’s not pregnant and I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon, therefore: it will be hard for her get a promotion. However, with the help of Queen Inhyeon, it may be possible for her to get a higher title.
Ok Jung is also smart enough to notice that with the appearance of Choi Suk-won, the Western faction is finally making their move, trying to regain their power. She believes that the Western faction is behind this whole act and that it involves the deposed queen, Inhyeon. There is no definition of “giving up” in this world, or this drama, at least. They keep at it – how ambitious and greedy they all are.
(Lee Soon has new clothes. Black, this time. Is this symbolism?)
I think it’s intriguing that Hyun Mu voices his concerns about Ok Jung, saying that he thinks that she’s been very hurt by his actions. However, Sukjong argues that he has just made a show of accepting the Western faction and it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s turned back to the Western faction. He’s done it on purpose, like all things that he does, in order to get what he wants.
The confrontation between Lee Soon and Jang Hyun was a big event. It’s an event that affects Ok Jung as well. Lee Soon knows that Jang Hyun has committed a huge crime, messing with the Queen’s mother medicines that made her ill enough to die earlier than she was supposed to.
Sukjong can no longer leave Jang Hyun as he is. He knows well of the greed of Jang Hyun and his desperate wishes to become the father-in-law of the king through Ok Jung. However, Sukjong says that he is not willing to give him that position.
Of course, when Sukjong accuses him of meddling with the Queen Mother’s medicines, he denies it. By messing with the medicine, he caused her illness to get worse, eventually leading her to her death sooner than it was supposed to. There is enough evidence for Sukjong to place Jang Hyun into jail with the doctor’s confession.
Jang Hyun says that he cannot be easily get rid of as he says by removing him, Sukjong is also placing Ok Jung and the Crown Prince in danger. Jang Hyun justifies his actions by saying it was all of Ok Jung’s sake and the relationship between her and the king. Once again, Sukjong is reminded that Jang Hyun has committed the same crime as Ok Jung has. And it is a crime that Sukjong has tried so hard to hide away.
Jang Hyun being dragged away into prison.
While Jang Hyun is placed into prison, Ok Jung comes to visit the King, asking why he has done such a thing. Sukjong tells her, in a quite distant voice, that she should ask Jang Hyun directly what he has done wrong.
Thus, Ok Jung comes to visit Jang Hyun, her blood relative. However, it might as well be a goodbye as Ok Jung wants no longer anything to do with him. She asks him why he would do such a thing, but Jang Hyun replies saying that she should be the last person to ask him that as she has committed the same sin as he has. Despite how shocked she is, Ok Jung still manages to say that all of the things that happened are due to his own greed and it is not solely Ok Jung’s fault.
Ok Jung: Even if I hated his mother, how would I dare try to kill my most precious person’s mother?
In this moment, we can see that the kind Ok Jung emerge, at the end of all things. Ok Jung can longer forgive Jang Hyun anymore.
Ok Jung: If I had known that you had killed my teacher, I would have never joined with you. And now, I believe that it is not too late to severe that bond.
Jang Hyun: Blood connections are something that are not easily cut.
He still believes that he as a chance to survive, to escape this whole route. His greed and ambition has no end, and it is sickening. However I am very glad for the most part that Ok Jung has realized what she has done and now she is trying her best to fix her mistakes. She knows now that she should’ve never taken aid from Jang Hyun, knowing that it would be all too dangerous. And now she will throw away what she wants, just as she had stated before.
What’s even more interesting and suspenseful was that Sukjong was listening in on their conversations. Sneaky, sneaky.
I found the following scene very interesting. I sat there for a long time, wondering what it could mean. The way he smiles as he remembers what Ok Jung said to Jang Hyun. It’s very mysterious; I wondered if he was just happy that she was on the good side all along.
With that, we have the return of Prince Dong Pyeong. However, he is greatly alarmed that during his absence another concubine was appointed. You know, I’d think that would be pretty disorienting, too. You’re gone for a couple of days, and the whole palace has turned upside down. And he’s not in the best position right now either. Sukjong is still quite upset about Prince Dong Pyeong’s meeting with Ok Jung.
Nonetheless, Prince Dong Pyeong doesn’t disappoint us – he still worries about Ok Jung. And naturally, she’s the first person that he goes to visit. Obviously he wants to know what is going on and furthermore, I’m sure that he wants to comfort her and offer her advice as he always does.
Prince Dong Pyeong: It’ll be alright. No matter what cold decision the king has made before, he always thought of you. He has done everything for you and this will probably be the same thing.
Ok Jung: However, it doesn’t change the fact that there is a new concubine.
And what Ok Jung says is right too. No matter how much Lee Soon says that Ok Jung is the one for him and no matter what he does for her, it does not change the fact that there is a new woman for the king. The ones on the inside may know the whole story, but for those on the outside looking in (Inhyeon, Court Lady Hong, the Western and Southern faction), it can only look like Sukjong has lost interest in the Queen and has found love with someone else. And that is why the true, whole story will never be known. Thus, the truth behind Ok Jung’s story will be cast away and she remains as this femme fatale, a power-hungry temptress.
However, while these two are together, they fall into more trouble with the arrival of the King. It isn’t the best situation; in fact, it’s actually getting worse… and we end up with broken hearts and pain.
When Ok Jung asks why Sukjong has visited without sending a message, Sukjong snaps back by asking: since when have I needed to send a message to come and see you? Ok Jung is slightly taken aback by this, but Prince Dong Pyeong comes to the rescue saying that women always want to look their best for their husbands. Sukjong regards Prince Dong Pyeong with a dangerous expression. Ah, you could almost see their relationship was becoming strained.
Sukjong says to Prince Dong Pyeong that he is sad that he has come to visit Ok Jung first instead of him. Of course, it’s obvious that Sukjong is upset and angry that the two of them are together. He suspects something is going on between the two, but he doesn’t say anything about it. Instead, he leaves the two of them to talk. However, Ok Jung says that she will go after the king and try to explain the situation.
But that ends up in disaster where Ok Jung gets deeply hurt. Sukjong goes to shoot some arrows to blow off the steam. Out of nowhere, Choi Suk-won appears, asking him to teach her how to do it. He asks her what she is doing here coldly, but she replies that she was passing by chance when she saw him. “By chance,” he says is a phrase that he hasn’t heard in a long time. He tells her that it is not in a woman’s place to come to these grounds, but just as he is about to finish, he sees Ok Jung arrive.
Choi Suk-won, of course, hates to see the sight of the queen, but she is about to turn away so that Lee Soon and Ok Jung can have some time together. However, Sukjong grabs her, grabbing a chance to hurt Ok Jung like he has been hurt. Of course, I don’t think this is completely fair of Sukjong. He hasn’t heard the whole story and he doesn’t even seem to want to. Furthermore, it’s not fair that he uses Choi Suk-won (no matter how evil she is) and then completely disregards her as soon as Ok Jung is done.
Anyways, Ok Jung watches as Sukjong “lovingly” teaches Choi Suk-won how to shoot arrows. At this moment, I wonder if she thought that he has let go of her hand. That his love for her has gone away, when her love for him is still there and still going strong. It’s a very cruel, cold moment.
It’s interesting. If Choi Suk-won truly thinks she has “grasped” the heart of the king, she’s wrong. So very completely wrong. As soon as Ok Jung runs away, Sukjong drops the act and loses all interest in Choi Suk-won. He tells her to go away, but Choi Suk-won shows some stubbornness and continues to ask Sukjong to teach her. He gives her the final warning. Looking at his eyes, she realizes that he is being serious and backs away. Oh, she needs to learn to fear the King. She’s too bold for her own god.
We also have Choi Suk-won and Prince Dong Pyeong running into each other for the first time. Interesting, interesting.
Prince Dong Pyeong comes to Sukjong, who seems very unhappy to see him, and tells him that he must tell the King something. And finally, we have the confession of Prince Dong Pyeong, about his true feelings towards Ok Jung. Ah, I always wondered if this moment would come – and it has.
Prince Dong Pyeong: I loved her. But she only thought of me as an older brother. And then she disappeared. When she emerged again, she had become the king’s woman. It was true for a while that I was heartbroken, but I have go of it now. That is the truth from the bottom of my heart.
Sukjong regards him for a while, looking upon him. I think the silence made Dong Pyeong nervous, like he would never be forgiven again. However Sukjong offers him a drink, showing a sign of forgiveness. Aw, this brotherly bond.
Sukjong asks that Prince Dong Pyeong continues to help him. It’s a very emotional scene, I think. I’m glad this scene was made.
On the other hand, Ok Jung sits outside, all by herself, reflecting upon herself. She recalls all the words that Sukjong has told her and thinks about what she must do. She realizes what she has done and decides that it is time to fix her actions. When Lee Soon arrives, that is what she tells him: if he still hasn’t let go of her hand, she will try her best to be the queen that he wants her to be. And Sukjong could not be happier to hear that.
And with that, their bond is reunited and they are happy once more.
Lee Soon tells her that he will never go let of her hand, unless she is the first one to let go. Judging by the way things went this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ok Jung sacrifices herself and lets go of his hand first.
There is a change in attitude in Ok Jung and it’s wonderful to see.
On the other hand, the Western Faction continues to scheme how they’re going to return to power, and without a doubt, Inhyeon is also involved in these preparations. There is the creation of a novel called Nam Jeong Ki (남정기/사씨남정기, Sa Sshi Nam Jeong Ki) that depicts the story of Inhyeon and Ok Jung. They paint Inhyeon has a rightful, kind person while Ok Jung is made into an evil temptress. This novel actually did exist historically – and still exists today. Since this is written by the Western faction, specifically Kim Man Ki’s (Queen Inkyeong’s father) younger brother, Kim Man Joong, wrote this. Due to this book as well as the Inhyeon Wang-Hoo Jeon (인현왕후전, lit. meaning The Story of Queen Inhyeon, which was written by her palace maids), we can say that the image of Jang Hee Bin was quite distorted and manipulated. With these two books, there is quite the bias, and it has been used as foundations for many dramas depicting Sukjong’s wives.
Anyways, these novels are selling like hotcakes and the public image of Ok Jung is going down the drain. Well, isn’t that just lovely?
Ok Jung soon discovers how it’s spreading in the palace as well. She doesn’t want the King to find it, but he does through Choi Suk-won.
However, Ok Jung decides to get to the bottom of this. She suspects that it started from the deposed Queen Inhyeon (and she’s right about that). She goes out of the palace to confront with Inhyeon. There’s a certain change in their rivalry, I guess. It’s like they’ve almost switched positions. Inhyeon is still strong enough to handle Ok Jung; her attitude continues to bother me.
Ok Jung: How have you fallen so low?
Inhyeon: What couldn’t I have done?
Inhyeon has become the one who is taking everything to the extreme while Ok Jung has become the one that embraces the rules and laws. Whenever these two have confrontations, I feel that they grab each other’s weak points very well, thus it’s always hard to tell who’s clearly won. Still, Ok Jung has much more advantage than Inhyeon at the point.
A few days later or so, Ok Jung decides that she will go out to help the public and Sukjong says that it is a good idea. He says that he will make time and go there as well, stating that it won’t be a bad idea to show the public the good relationships between the public. However, while that is happening, the Western faction takes this opportunity to show who the “true” queen is.
But let me tell you, Inhyeon was not the “true” queen. She really wasn’t. The people were bribed to praise Inhyeon and act all friendly towards and cuss towards Ok Jung when she arrived. There were several unrealistic thing about this scene. A) I’m pretty damn sure that it would have been a huge crime to call deposed Inhyeon “the queen” BECAUSE EXCUSE ME SHE’S BEEN FRICKING STRIPPED OF HER TITLE AND HAS BECOME A COMMONER and B) no matter if the citizens were bribed or not, it’s very unrealistic that they could speak out their opinions like that without being punished. My own mother was continuously saying: that sort of thing wouldn’t have been possible back then. Remember, less freedom of speech back then.
Oh, God, I don’t think I hated Inhyeon that much in that moment.
But before that, while Ok Jung leaves the palace, Choi Suk-won takes this opportunity to meet with the king and show him the novel. Of course, this is a scheme that was created by the Western faction to “sway” the mind of king, but I’m thinking: whenever are you going to learn that Lee Soon isn’t going to freaking listen to you and he’s just going to whatever the hell he wants?
Nonetheless, it isn’t surprising that Choi Suk-won cannot read or write because she’s from such a low-born class. Of course, I pitied her because the book was upside now. Ok Jung is from a low born class as well, but her father was a translator, so she would’ve known how to read and write. Well, at least Lee Soon is nice enough not to point it out and embarrass her. But he does look awkward the whole time about it. He plays along with Choi Suk-won, knowing the true meaning behind the book.
He voices his concerns to Prince Dong Pyeong. He also comments that the Western faction always steps over their boundaries when Sukjong has only simply “accepted” them to see what they will do. They’re playing right into his hand.
So, back to Ok Jung and Inhyeon, the king arrives and he is simply horrified by the public’s attitude towards the queen. He asks what she has done wrong to them for them to ask this way. YEAH, AND WHEN THE KING ARRIVED, WHY WAS INHYEON STANDING? EXCUSE YOU.
You’re deposed you’re a commoner bow properly
Ok Jung is deeply hurt by this whole situation. She’s really trying her best, but the public doesn’t even seem to acknowledge that.
I’m surprised that Inhyeon can even show up to the place like this. I mean, in Dong Yi, when Inhyeon was deposed, she just stayed at her house all day. Anyways… Lee Soon is greatly upset as well.
Oh, oh, and then there was this scene:
Obviously, Sukjong is going to take Ok Jung’s side on this. In this moment, I think Inhyeon just falls out of his favour completely. How many times is that now? I’m pretty freaking positive he absolutely dislikes her. Even if she returns to the palace, she’s only going to be treated worse. He’s going to be nothing but cold and cruel to her, with a fake aura of politeness going on. But I guess, since she has nothing else but the title of Queen, she wants it back more than ever.
It’s a sad life for her.
Sukjong and Ok Jung return to the palace together; Inhyeon crumbles at the sight of the two of them walking away. I think she basically realizes that their relationship is still going strong and that she really has no way of ever winning between the two of them. Choi Suk-won might as well be swept aside.
Inhyeon might have the “heart” of the people, but she will never have the heart of the King and I believe that is something that hurts her even more. What good is the love of a nation if her own husband won’t look upon her?
Once they return to the palace, Ok Jung voices her worries. She says that she is trying her best, but feels that lately she is making nothing but mistakes. She says she’s fine if she’s punished for it, but she doesn’t want to hurt her own son in the process. Sukjong tells her not to worry, saying that he will protect Yoon himself.
Sukjong is unsure what to do. He talks once again with Prince Dong Pyeong – he’s the only person that Soon that can turn to talk about.
Lee Soon: I did everything I did because I was thinking about what would be best of the nation and my citizens. However, the citizens will not accept the Ok Jung that I chose and love…
And that is the harsh reality.
That night, Lee Soon goes to visit Ok Jung, sleeping together with her son by her side. It’s a very touching moment – if anything, I think Lee Soon just wants to be a happy family, but being the king, it is not easy task. He lies down with them, looking upon them wistfully, wishing that they could be like this forever… But this is not that world, it is not a perfect world, and such things cannot happen.
Jang Hyun and Sukjong meet again, and they strike a deal. Sukjong agrees to give him the title of the king’s father-in-law, but in return, Jang Hyun needs to shut his mouth forever about what Ok Jung needs to do. I’m left speechless by Jang Hyun and Min Yoo Joong – they both have committed such horrendous deeds, and yet, they still have the nerve to be proud and go as far to “strike a deal” to save their own butts. I really despise two. And they both died this week. HA. I feel no sympathy for them, I’m sorry (not really).
In retaliation to the deed that Inhyeon has done, Ok Jung goes to visit her once more and deliver her last warning. She doesn’t even talk formally to Inhyeon and rather uses the casual speech, something that alarms Inhyeon and Court Lady Hong. But hey, it’s not technically “wrong.”
Inhyeon says that all Ok Jung has is love. Her power comes from the love of the king and once that is gone, Ok Jung might as well be dead. I like how each time Ok Jung says “that might happen.” It’s a total change from her behaviour last week where she said that she would do anything to protect her position as Queen and say that there is no possible way that she would lose. She’s starting to acknowledge that anything can happen, and I just fell in love with her character again. I think Ok Jung gets the final blow by saying that currently she is still the queen and she will use the law to act against Inhyeon if she must.
There is a final confrontation between Min Yoo Joong and Jang Hyun. Of course, Jang Hyun thinks that he has won, but he’s far from it. Instead, Min Yoo Joong ends up surviving.
But you know what was a plot twist? The fact that Jang Hyun’s own servant turned against him and LITERALLY stabbed him in the back. Turns out, Chi Soo ordered him to do by giving him a huge sum of money. Clearly, clearly: weak human minds can be so easily bought with money. But hey, I wouldn’t say no either, but that’s mostly because I HATE JANG HYUN.
Although I did find it sort of sad that Jang Hyun died continuously repeating his daughter’s name. He says that he finally laid his daughter to rest becoming the father-in-law of the king but I highly doubt that his daughter would have wanted it in the first place. I mean, she loved Ok Jung.
Hyun Mu, on the other hand, didn’t anticipate that there would be someone else who stabbed Jang Hyun first. Ah, so Jang Hyun was set out to be killed as soon as he made it out of prison.
Following that, Ok Jung’s own brother falls into a trap set up by the Western faction. Ah, so they’re slowly starting to pick off the closest ones to Ok Jung, trying to weaken her strength and her power. I guess that they can do that, but that still won’t change the fact that Lee Soon still holds her dearly in his heart. His first and only love.
He learns that Choi Suk-won is pregnant from a palace maid that he planted in Choi Suk-won’s chambers to keep an eye on her. Of course, little does he know that everyone he can trust has been turned against him. He buys the poison once hearing that she’s with child and plants in into her drink. Choi Suk-won does a fantastic acting job, I guess.
Ok Jung is oblivious to the whole situation. Plus, I don’t think she’s particularly worried about Choi Suk-won as the king doesn’t really seem interested in her. But Ok Jung is nice enough to Choi Suk-won when they meet, and I guess that this is because she feels bad about hitting Choi Suk-won.
Oh, but Choi Suk-won carries grudges.
Choi Suk-won: I just need to follow the path that you took.
Ok Jung seems confused by what Choi Suk-won means. But Choi Suk-won lets it slip to Jang Hee Jae, leading him on to make him think that she’s pregnant.
And then there comes the whole poisoning act (“Another one?” everyone shouts).
Sukjong hears the news and begins an immediate investigation.
On the other hand, Ok Jung is so shocked to hear that her own brother has been taken away. But I think we could also see that Ok Jung was kind of starting to doubt her brother, oat least that’s how I felt.
She goes to see Sukjong about the whole situation, but he tells her that if her brother is innocent, she shouldn’t worry because everything will be revealed.
There’s an ominous phrase that Min Yoo Joong says: Let’s see how long you can keep holding Ok Jung’s hand… The question lingers thickly in the air. The scholars want it to go back to the way it was and want to bring the Western faction to return to power.
Kim Man Ki worries that the restoration of Queen Inhyeon may be a difficult task even if they can remove Ok Jung from her position as well as wipe out the Southern Faction. Chi Soo seems confident enough to take Ok Jung down. Oh, again, I’m not sure what his motives are. All I know is that I dislike him. He had the potential to be a good character…
However, Kim Man Ki threatens Sukjong by saying that there is enough reason to depose Ok Jung as the Queen since she has committed something wrong. Of course, Sukjong becomes all defensive and hostile and tells him to get out.
However, Ok Jung watches Sukjong as he struggles and suffers due the politics. She doesn’t want to burden him any longer nor does she want to hurt him. She wants him to be happy and she is willingly to sacrifice anything for him because she loves him so much.
Thus, she makes a decision. A selfless sacrifice. I admire her for choosing such a path, no matter how painful it is. She decides to let go of his hand first to save him the pain for doing it himself because she knows that he will not do it.
The Southern faction tell Ok Jung that she is their last hope, their last chance and ask her to guard her position. Ok Jung knows well of her situation and tells them that she will tell the King. But the Southern faction is out of luck. Ok Jung is ready to let go of their hands, whether they like it or not.
Ok Jung goes to meet with Sukjong to tell him of her decision. I think he’s alarmed to see her dressed with all white. Oh, this scene left me in tears. It was so emotional, so lovely.
Ok Jung (OJ): The time has come.
Lee Soon (LS): What time?
OJ: The time for you to let go of my hand. I have committed a huge crime, something that is not easy to confess with my own mouth
. But it is something that shames me as Yoon’s mother and as a queen.
OJ: I thought that if I became queen, everything would be solved. I thought that people wouldn’t say anything and I could love you freely as I wanted. I thought people would stop pointing out my low status. I thought it was the solution and that is why I did it.
He wants her to stop talking, saying that it’s enough and he doesn’t need to hear it, but she pushes forward, knowing she must continue.
OJ: I poisoned myself.
LS: How can you say that with your own mouth? Do you know how much I’ve tried to bury that truth?
OJ: You mean, you made me the queen despite knowing this?
LS: How can you say that you’re going to step down from being queen after all the effort I poured into making that position for you?
At this point, Ok Jung is willingly to sacrifice her everything for the king because she loves him that much.
OJ: Depose of me, and become a great king.
On contrary to what we thought, Ok Jung is the one that initiates letting go of his hand first. However, with the next two episodes, it’s hard to say how things will progress. Will Sukjong make the final cold decision to kill Ok Jung? Or will she offer her death to him? Or will he ask her for her death like the original novel does?
Sukjong meets with Jang Hee Jae. He begs, saying that he will take full responsibility for his crime and asks the king to leave his sister out of this for she knew nothing. Sukjong is shocked when he hears that Jang Hee Jae did what he did because he heard that Choi Suk-won was pregnant. But this news isn’t possible to Sukjong. Furthermore, he asks why Jang Hee Jae hasn’t realized that he only loves Ok Jung?
And then there was this scene:
I quite liked it. I think Lee Soon realizes at this point that Choi Suk-won shouldn’t be taken lightly because she knows how to scheme. She’s obviously on the Western faction’s side and helping Inhyeon try to get her back to the throne. On the other hand, it’s unsettling because we don’t know what Sukjong has in mind for her – I don’t think she should’ve been underestimated, but neither do I think that Lee Soon should be looked down so easily by the Western faction. We all know that Sukjong is a king that is willing to do anything to get his absolute rule, and he’s so very close to getting that.
And then Sukjong goes to meet Chi Soo, realizing his true motives and demands to know what he wants and whether or not he knows Ok Jung.
Lee Soon: Is the palace building you want Chwi Seon Dang? Who are you?
Chi Soo: What I want is simply revenge. Jang Hyun killed my mother.
Lee Soon: Do you know the queen?
But Chi Soo doesn’t really give a straight answer, therefore, Sukjong leaves him with this threat:
Lee Soon: If you keep interfering, I’ll kill you.
And thus, Sukjong returns to the palace and meets Ok Jung. It’s been a while since we’ve seen them under the moonlight again. Oh, this scene was emotional too. I was getting all teary-eyed. They’re so beautiful together.
Ok Jung: When I think about it, I think the time I was Hee Bin was when I was the happiest. Your Majesty gave me Chwi Seon Dang and Yoon was born then.
Lee Soon: I think I was happiest then too. Then, shall we return back to that time?
OJ: The time that has past cannot be turned back. My memories keep me happy.
LS: I don’t want/like memories if you’re not beside me.
*cue crying* THIS SCENE. He doesn’t want to let her go, he doesn’t even want to imagine living in a world without her. But there is so much doom and tragedy that is coming towards them. I feel like it might not be they wanted to let go of each other’s hands, but the politics and the situation that they were placed leave them no choice.
But nonetheless, Lee Soon must make his final decision about what he is going to do now, and he announces that he is going to do another hwan-guk (lit. change/turn of state). This time, the Western faction is going to brought back into power and the Southern faction is going to swept aside.
Sukjong calls upon Min Yoo Joong to strike another deal. As always, their relationship has always been. There’s always been compromise and it’s the same time round as well. To gain something, you must sacrifice something as well.
Lee Soon: I will depose of Queen Ok Jung but I will make the Crown Prince the son of Queen Inhyeon. I will give you the reinstatement of Inhyeon as the queen, but I cannot send Ok Jung out of the palace. Instead, I will demote her back to Hee Bin.
Of course, Min Yoo Joong begins to protest saying that it isn’t possible and that Ok Jung must be sent out of the palace, but Sukjong knows about the whole poisoning accident with Choi Suk-won, knowing that it was a complete setup. I’m starting to believe that she didn’t actually “drink” poison and she was just faking the whole thing because the doctor took her pulse and he was acting like there was something not right about the situation.
On the other hand, Ok Jung realizes that Sukjong cannot let her go and she’s sincerely moved by his actions.
Inhyeon returns to the palace, reinstated as the queen, and she’s very happy about it. Who wouldn’t be? But I still feel like Inhyeon hasn’t won anything. I might’ve considered her the victor if Ok Jung was simply deposed of her position with just the king’s orders, but instead, Ok Jung was the one that gave up first. Thus, Inhyeon wins by something we might call “default.” Ok Jung didn’t lose her throne, she gave it up for the love of her life.
On the other hand, Min Yoo Joong seems to die as soon as Inhyeon leaves to go to the palace. I don’t know what this means. But I don’t feel bad about her. Maybe it’s supposed to symbolize that when people get something, there is also something that is lost. I don’t know.
I thought it was really creepy how Choi Suk-won opens her eyes. She’s clearly been waiting for the time for Inhyeon to return to rise from her bed after being sick from that poisoning. Oh, she’s gearing up for the battle ahead. On her side, she has Queen Inhyeon though, so that should serve as some power. But Ok Jung still has the great love of the king.
The situations are reversed once again.
Choi Suk-won appears.
We have Sukjong’s most famous three women – Choi Suk-bin, Jang Hee Bin, Queen Inhyeon all gathered in one place. It’s very reminiscent of the beginning scenes.
Oh, the final battle has begun.
We already know the victors and the losers. The question that remains is how we are going to reach the final conclusion.
* I really like Cho Suk-won’s hanboks.
** I’m wondering if we’ll see Inhyeon’s death… most probably?