Joseon Gunman: Episode 5 Recap


We get right back into the action with this episode. Just because three years have passed does not mean we’re going to waste any time going over what happened during that time, nor are we going to waste time on planning for what we will see in the near future. It’s one thing I really appreciate about a fast paced drama – show us what you plan to do, don’t tell us what you will do. And with that, our gunman returns to Joseon shores…


A shot rings through the air and one of the hooligans falls. This ‘Hanjo’ aims again and shoots at the wooden railings, scaring off another from attacking. The fighting stops and the laborers disperse, and Ho Kyung leads Soo In away so that she doesn’t mingle near this dangerous port. Hanjo steps onto the port and smirks at how old-fashioned Joseon is for still using swords.

He meets Won Shin and Hye Won with his translator (Choi Jae Hwan) and his associate/bodyguard Kanemaru (Otani Ryohei). ‘Hanjo’ proves that he’s quite capable in speaking in both Korean and Japanese and insists that Won Shin skip the formalities and get right to business. Won Shin wants them to stay as guests on his estate, and promises that he can provide a place that would rival Hanjo’s employer, Yamamoto’s home. Hanjo dislikes the fact that Won Shin bribes other officials to get information on his potential business partners and rudely leaves the conversation. Hehe. In any case, Won Shin is troubled by how much this ‘Hanjo’ resembles Yoon Kang.

Meanwhile Soo In, Ho Kyung, and Jan Yi make their way to visit a trader who specializes in unique and illicit goods. The special item that she was looking for is actually an old fashioned camera. She marvels at the invention and quickly pays up. Just before she can leave, the police burst in to arrest the dealer, who happens to have crates and crates of gunpowder. Ho Kyung’s swift actions (with a rolled up book that reminds me of Matt Damon in “The Bourne Identity”) help Soo In and Jan Yi escape safely and with their precious camera.

They run through the streets and Soo In bumps quite hard into Yoon Kang. Whee! Not unlike their first meeting! Soo In drops the camera and her friends encourage her to leave the camera behind. The police are far too close to retrieve it. Yoon Kang glares at the woman who dares bump into him without so much an apology, and then his eyes widen. It’s his Soo In!

She turns to look at the man she bumped into and shock fills her face. Yoon Kang turns away quickly before she can get a good look but it’s too late: she thinks she’s seen her dead Yoon Kang. When she tells Jan Yi and Ho Kyung later, they sigh in exasperation. They thought that she finally got over it all but now it seems like she’s still clinging on to Yoon Kang’s ghost. Desperate to have her camera, Soo In wants to meet the ‘mysterious man’ one more time since she dropped it in front of him.

Yoon Kang and his entourage are about to board another boat to go to another port, and the mere thought of traveling by boat exhausts him. Won Shin ‘saves the day’ by offering his horse instead so that Yoon Kang can travel comfortably on to Hanyang. Won Shin hopes that this means Yoon Kang would stay at his home. Kanemaru, in Japanese, advises that they turn down the offer for accommodations, but Yoon Kang spins it by saying they’ll stay over if Won Shin provides drinks and women. Done. 

That evening, Yoon Kang delights in having a gisaeng on his lap drinking his alcohol and flirting with her dress. His outrageous behavior disgusts Hye Won, who dismisses the gisaengs and tells him to start acting more respectfully. Otherwise she and her father will have no interest in trading with him. Duly offended, Yoon Kang thanks them for dinner and leaves without giving them a business deal. Once alone, Won Shin scolds his daughter for being too hot-tempered. As businesspeople they need to hold in their pride and keep their patience when dealing with clients until they get the money or the deal they want. I love that Won Shin doesn’t just yell at his daughter for ruining a deal, nor does he side with her. He merely teaches her what she should do, grooming her to be his successor by giving her tips and plenty of practice. It actually makes me like him just a fraction of a bit.

Later in his quarters, Yoon Kang assures his translator that all is not lost. If Won Shin was desperate enough to send a letter to Yamamoto in hopes of making a deal then he will seek Yoon Kang out to make amends for his daughter’s hasty remarks. We flash back to three years earlier when he arrived in Japan with Kim Ok Gyun. Kim advised him to come up with a plan first before going back to Joseon to exact revenge. Working with Won Shin is part of that plan it seems, and he takes out his weapon of choice: an even more modern rifle that doesn’t leave a gunpowder smell and can shoot two bullets without reloading.

The war is on.

The following day, Yoon Kang and his translator dress in laborer’s clothing to walk around the city unnoticed. Yoon Kang tasks the translator to tracking down clues on why Park Jin Han was framed for treason. He himself will go look for Soo In.

Soo In wanders around the stalls in the market, uninterested in the foreign objects in one merchant’s shop. She critiques every one of his merchandises by pointing out the flaws and that he’s just fleecing his customers, but her voice carries a little too loudly and he ends up losing all of his customers at the moment. Heh. She heads home in a bad mood, and Ho Kyung tries to cheer her up by saying that he’ll track down where the Japanese mysterious man is for her.

It’s at this moment that Yoon Kang sees all three of them, and he listens from afar as Jan Yi teases Soo In that she and Ho Kyung might get married. Soo In doesn’t even entertain the thought because she would rather think about finding a camera at another market. Jan Yi is tired from traveling everywhere to find this object but there’s nothing that can stop Soo In once she starts obsessing. It’s one of the things that changed about her after Yoon Kang’s “death.” Instead of caring about the enlightenment and bringing more change to society, she became more cynical and obsessed only over objects instead of ideals. Soo In bitterly notes that even after Korea opened its doors for trade nothing has changed in Korean society. Everyone she cared about died for no reason, for ideals that would not come to fruition. She vows to forget Yoon Kang and even Yeon Ha (whom she doesn’t know what happened to).

It’s heartbreaking to see Soo In become a hardened shell of her old self. She’s more prickly as a way to protect herself, and even Yoon Kang is saddened to see what has become of her. It especially hurts that no one knows of his sister’s whereabouts.

The translator returns with some good news. He managed to track down the police officer who first made the charges of treason against Park Jin Han: the corrupted guard named Son Taek Soo. Son was promoted after the incident and now lives luxuriously in anticipation of his retirement. So now Yoon Kang has a target.

He’s not the only one tracking down Son Taek Soo though. Moon Il Do is back in town, having been called by the Emperor on a secret mission to find out what really happened with Park Jin Han’s case. He has already reported to the emperor the conservative party’s involvement with the country’s trading policies and their possible involvement in framing Park Jin Han. Gojong has suspected as much, and even though it’s been three years he still can’t let go of the fact that at the pressure of his advisors he had to denounce the one man he trusted. So Moon enlists the help of Yoon Kang’s friend, Jung Hoon, to keep an eye on Son Taek Soo. It’s funny how this cowardly officer who runs at the sight of danger just keeps getting pulled in to tasks he wishes to avoid.

That evening Yoon Kang disguises himself in dark clothing and grabs his gun for his first outing as a mysterious gunman. He easily gets past Jung Hoon’s fallible surveillance and manages to quickly tie up Son Taek Soo’s wife to keep her far from her husband. He holds the traitor at gunpoint and demands to know who made the false charges, who pulled the trigger that killed his father, and who wrote the false letter that was used as evidence. Taek Soo keeps his mouth shut on Won Shin’s identity but pleads for his life as he was only following orders. If he reveals anything his entire family will die.

Yoon Kang can’t bring himself to kill Taek Soo just yet so he has him send a message to his boss that he wants to meet on the fifteenth at the place where Park Jin Han died. He only says that he’s a man who owes his life to Park Jin Han, and then leaves.

This time Jung Hoon catches the infiltrator leaving Taek Soo’s house and makes chase. Yoon Kang quickly disarms Jung Hoon, and when he recognizes his friend he freezes up. The only thing he can do is knock his friend unconscious so that he won’t chase him and find out his identity. It does amuse Yoon Kang to see his friend acting a little more grown up now.

The conservative party is not idle, and they’ve been keeping tabs on Soo In’s father, Interpreter Jung. They notice that he’s been present in a lot of meetings and feel like he’s planning something with the emperor. The fact that he was a supporter of Enlightenment scholars is a point of worry, but Leader Kim says that they don’t have to try to get rid of Interpreter Jung just yet. Whew. Instead, they’ll just observe him in the meantime.

The following day Won Shin calls Yoon Kang for a meeting. He has a proposal that Yoon Kang should hear as a representative of Yamamoto’s. Apparently Won Shin wants to purchase Japanese goods for trade. In return he will give Japan gold. Yoon Kang is dubious over this plan but Won Shin assures that he’s found gold veins and bought those pockets of land. He will mine for the gold himself, but he needs Yamamoto’s investment. He plans to use explosives and gunpowder to make the mining go faster, and has already secured experts in gunpowder to help. It’s an interesting offer if it all works out, and Won Shin promises to show him all the plans and a meeting with the gunpowder expert in two days’ time.

It’s only unfortunate that later that day, one of Won Shin’s men reports that the gunpowder expert they had secured decided to work with another gold mining company because they paid more. Now he’s out of an expert to introduce to Yoon Kang.

Meanwhile Ho Kyung’s figured out where Yoon Kang is staying and takes Soo In to the inn. Yoon Kang has returned to hear his translator’s report on Son Taek Soo’s goings-on. Apparently Son had left his house to go meet Won Shin, but he knew that he was being tailed and managed to surprise attack the translator.

Soo In and Ho Kyung arrive, wanting to find out if Yoon Kang knows where her camera is. He sends his translator and Kanemaru to deal with the situation, as he wants to stay far away from Soo In as possible. His men try to tell her to leave because Yoon Kang is very busy, but she manages to break away and open the door to Yoon Kang’s room. That sassy girl. Yoon Kang quickly turns his back to her and orders that she be taken away in Japanese. It only makes Soo In more suspicious of him because now she believes he’s got something to hide.

Son Taek Soo finally gets a hold of Won Shin, even though they promised not to meet each other ever again. He tells Won Shin about this new mysterious gunman who wants to meet him on the fifteenth. Not liking the sound of all this, Won Shin calls for Moo Duk (the first gunman) to help deal with the problem. Moo Duk looks a bit like a commanding soldier mixed with mob boss as he trains a new set of gunmen to take his place and deal with future issues for Won Shin.

So Moo Duk tells Taek Soo that he’s going to take the latter to a place far away for safety. Taek Soo reluctantly agrees, but mid-ride he begins to suspect that Moo Duk is just taking him somewhere far away to kill him so that he won’t bother Won Shin anymore. That’s a really valid fear! But Moo Duk assures him that he’s not here to kill Taek Soo. In fact, he’s just using Taek Soo as bait because there’s someone who’s been following a distance away ever since they left Taek Soo’s house in the morning.

Hah! And sure enough, it’s Yoon Kang! Except he’s dressed in his laborer’s clothes instead of his gunman attire. Am I the only one concerned that his identity is not covered up enough?

Taek Soo turns back to where he came from and comes face to face with Yoon Kang, who pulls out his new rifle. That coward turns and runs away, which then leads to Moo Duk and Yoon Kang being face to face, gun versus gun.

And the two of them start riding towards each other and aiming their guns while on horseback. Oh so we’re going to do it this way huh?

The two shoot at the same time. Yoon Kang’s bullet chips at Moo Duk’s straw hat while he barely misses getting hit by Moo Duk’s bullet. It also makes Yoon Kang go off balance on his horse and fall to the ground. But no worries. Yoon Kang cocks the gun again and shoots at Moo Duk. It hits his rifle. Moo Duk is shocked that there was practically no reloading time for Yoon Kang and, realizing that he’s going up a greater enemy, makes his escape.

Moo Duk reports back to Won Shin that he could not go up against such a formidable opponent. “It felt like the dead Park Jin Han was shooting at me. That’s how fast and strong he was,” Moo Duk comments. On top of that, this mysterious gunman saw Moo Duk’s face. Won Shin tells him to get all the other gunmen and set up a trap. They’ll all shoot him if they have to, but Moo Duk is to discover his identity first before killing him.

The following morning Soo In is spending the day with Hye Won, but she’s in a foul mood because she still wants her camera back. Seeing how badly she wants to test out the new invention, Hye Won has an idea: She will get Soo In her camera back, but in return Soo In will have to help her and her father on a business deal!

Ahh I can totally see where this is going!

Won Shin meets with Yoon Kang (all spiffed up and not sore or injured at all) to give him the plans for the gold mining. When asked where the gunpowder expert is, Won Shin assures that she will be here.

Hye Won gives Soo In a brief crash course on what is going to happen today with a small gunpowder set. Soo In is worried that she won’t be convincing since all she knows is how to make fireworks and nothing more, but Hye Won says all her friend needs to do is make a tiny explosion. It’ll be enough for now to convince their Japanese investor until they get a real expert. And after all this, Soo In will get paid and get her camera back.

The ladies arrive, and Soo In makes her entrance. She bows first to the guest, and Yoon Kang’s eyes are already alarmed. And then Soo In looks up at him, and she recognizes him despite the glasses. She drops the gunpowder set. Won Shin eyes their reactions to each other suspiciously, and then Soo In says, “Young Master…”



Oh yeah! I’m so glad I only have to wait one more day to find out how that’s going to be dealt with. Of course Won Shin isn’t going to let this go, and I’m pretty sure Yoon Kang will find a way to convince everyone he’s not Yoon Kang, even though it will require heavy insisting on his part.

All episode I was wondering when Soo In was going to see Yoon Kang again becuse she’s a pretty sharp person, and sharp people can’t feign ignorance for very long. I’m glad that she got to see him the first time while running in Jemulpo Port instead of the writers letting that be a “missed opportunity” where one sees and one doesn’t. It helps a lot that the show just keeps moving at a brisk pace so as to reunite our torn lovers almost one hour after they were torn apart. Okay, one hour and three years.

I’m also really grateful for how they have Yoon Kang return to Korea with a plan. He’s not sitting on his butt planning about how to properly exact his revenge. He spent three years doing that, and thankfully we don’t even have to sit through those three years. His revenge is pretty straightforward anyways, so I expect it’ll get complicated further on when Moon Il Do and the Emperor get involved. And boy do I hope they get involved.

I can’t help but compare this drama to Triangle in some aspects. One of which is the storytelling. Triangle favors the “tell first, show later” kind of storytelling, which is really irritating for me because by the time I get to the “show later” part of the show I’m already bored. And I know it’s always going to work out for Jaejoong‘s character Young Dal. At least here I don’t get told about everything Yoon Kang is planning to do. Sure he wants to find the man who framed his father and get information from him on who his bosses are, but at the same time I think he’s going to screw Won Shin over in another way and I don’t exactly know how yet. I also wonder how his relationship to this merchant Yamamoto (if he truly exists) is. Another thing that bothered me was how Won Shin provides such good guidance for his daughter so that she is better groomed to be his successor and take over the business. For one thing I think it’s impressive that he’s willing to give his daughter everything when I thought it was still a bit of a patriarchal society back then. And secondly, this is what Chairman Yoon should have done for Im Shi Wan‘s character, Yoon Yang Ha! Granted we were told that Chairman Yoon spent his entire life grooming his son to be his heir (again with the telling) but we never really got to see Yoon Yang Ha prove himself. He went from casino dealer to suddenly the director without much evidence of practice in between. And when Yang Ha makes a mistake, Chairman Yoon just yells at him and demotes or fires him. For storytelling purposes I guess it’s necessary, but man this is such a character flaw! How do fathers expect their sons to rise when they don’t teach and provide a good example of what to do?!

Anyways, my rant is over for Triangle. I really can’t stop appreciating Joseon Gunman for giving me the awesome actor Lee Jun Ki to grace my screens every night.

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