There are no idiots in this world of Joseon Gunman, but there is unfortunately a love square being developed. It’s a bit of a disappointment to see it come about, but it would make things a little more interesting and more complicated for Yoon Kang and Won Shin’s relationship.
So how to deal with Soo In’s startling statement that Hanjo is actually her Young Master Yoon Kang? Of course this declaration is not lost on the already-suspicious Won Shin, while Hye Won thinks her friend is being delirious again out of grief.
Yoon Kang says he has no idea what she’s talking about. He’s not this ‘Yoon Kang’ that she so claims to know, and surprisingly Won Shin smooths it over by saying that Soo In is mistaken. I’m pretty sure he believes Soo In’s words over Yoon Kang’s, as he does admit later that ‘Hanjo’ and Yoon Kang look very similar. However he’s not going to let Soo In ruin this potential business deal with Yamamoto’s representative, whoever he may be. Hye Won drags Soo In out to calm her down and remind her that ‘Hanjo’ is Japanese, and that Soo In shouldn’t ruin this business deal that her father worked so hard on.
Yoon Kang asks after who this ‘Young Master’ is that Soo In thinks he is. Won Shin admits to having met this man Soo In loved once, when he came to see him after Park Jin Han died. Yoon Kang is impressed Won Shin would remember a man’s face so clearly after having only met him once; That’s just the mark of a good businessman, Won Shin claims. Huhuhu. They meet Soo In and Hye Won again outside, and this time Soo In has calmed down enough to show him a demonstration. Yoon Kang’s not convinced that she’s an expert though (and I wonder how much of his knowledge of her comes to play on that assessment!), and tells her to demonstrate her expertise by setting off an explosion at the entrance of the gold mine.
Won Shin and Hye Won are nervous about that because they didn’t sign up Soo In to that task. They say it’ll take some time to get all the gunpowder in Joseon, since they have a lot of trade laws around that product. Could Yoon Kang wait two weeks? That would also give them time to find another real expert.
Nope. Citing favorable trade rules for the Japanese, Yoon Kang can get gunpowder in within a few days through the consulate. He expects to see Soo In demonstrate then. Until the gunpowder arrives he and Won Shin can draft a contract. Ooof, he’s really putting the pressure on Won Shin.
Yoon Kang takes his leave, but only ends up lurking near Soo In’s home to catch a glimpse of her. As much as it pains him to reject her he still can’t tear himself away from her. He has to continuously find his resolve, just like he did three years ago when Kim Ok Gyun told him to be rid of his old identity. Yoon Kang had cut his topknot off, and began dressing in the modern western clothing to fit in with the rest of Japan, to shed his old identity and begin his path to revenge.
Meanwhile Soo In is more convinced than ever that Hanjo is really Yoon Kang and will go to any lengths to prove it, even though Jan Yi and Ho Kyung would rather she stop torturing herself with the past. Won Shin is also highly suspicious of Hanjo and tells his man to go dig up as much information on ‘Hasego Hanjo’. At the same time Yoon Kang’s translator Sang Chu has no news of Son Taek Soo (who’s run out of town) or Yeon Ha. He’s spread rumors of a nobleman looking for a slave girl who can draw and read (hopefully drawing Yeon Ha out) but so far nothing has come of it.
And as for Emperor Gojong? He’s not idle either, as he’s developing a plan to create a new department that will render the Court of Justice useless. Interpreter Jung is to oversee the creation of this new department, which will allow Gojong to sidestep all of his corrupt officials in the Court of Justice. The task is burdensome and dangerous, as VP Kim suspects him of planning something with the emperor and has his eye on him. Thankfully Interpreter Jung also has Ho Kyung and other scholars to help him create and revise his plans for the new department so as not to be completely overworked.
The following day Yoon Kang meets with Won Shin, Hye Won, and Soo In to give his proposal for the contract. Seeing that he seems to be in a good mood, Won Shin tries to invite him for lunch. But Yoon Kang has plans in the capital as he wants to meet with other prospective gold miners, such as one who wants to mine Gwang Mountain. Soo In spontaneously volunteers to take him around, citing her familiarity with the streets. Surprisingly Won Shin allows her to accompany Yoon Kang, knowing that Soo In will not try to purposely mess up the deal. In any case he wants his daughter to deal with Soon Do, the miner on Gwang Mountain, so that Yoon Kang will never make business with anyone else.
And by ‘deal’, she does it by threatening Soon Do with death if he so much as steps foot in the capital. Like father like daughter.
Soo In takes Yoon Kang around the market stalls and tries to fish for additional information about him while Kanemaru looks on, confused but alert. She studies Yoon Kang so closely that he tells her to stop trying to figure out if he’s her Yoon Kang or not. He suggests she go prepare for the explosives, but she’s in no rush to go. She can prepare quickly since she’s “supposedly” an expert.
Yoon Kang and Kanemaru then go shop hunting, looking for a suitable location to establish their store / trading house. He picks one place that Soo In calls a creepy place and that Kanemaru dislikes. Heh. It’s really strange to watch Otani Ryohei be reduced to playing the straight man to Yoon Kang’s comedic and childish tendencies. Soo In then hands Yoon Kang a scholar’s hat as a souvenir for being in Joseon.
Hah! This reference is not lost on Yoon Kang at all.
Soo In wants him to wear it and plops it on his head when he refuses. The anger that boils up inside him is frightening as Soo In confirms her belief that Hanjo is Yoon Kang. What’s worse is that Jung Hoon happens upon them at that moment and runs to Yoon Kang, greeting his old friend excitedly. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Yoon Kang pushes them away and roars, “I won’t forgive you if you do this again. You will never call me by that name [Yoon Kang] ever again!” He storms off with Kanemaru close behind, leaving Soo In and Jung Hoon fearful and confused.
Soo In explains that the man is not Yoon Kang. He claims to be Hanjo, and though they look and sound exactly alike they are not the same person. I must say that my heart sank seeing Jung Hoon and Soo In so mistreated, and even more so when Yoon Kang had to pause and gather strength to hide the pain he felt. Too bad Kanemaru doesn’t know his old identity, as I think he’d be of some use to him. It’s also sad as I think of Jung Hoon’s earlier words that looks are important because they never change; Personalities can change, but looks don’t and that’s how one can recognize the other no matter how much time has passed.
True friends will always be true friends.
Yoon Kang also has a more immediate obstacle to attend to: Sang Chu’s rumors end up bringing him to another slave girl who is not Yeon Ha but continues to follow him around in the hopes that she can be hired anyways. She is trying to escape her old master, who beats her, and wants to be the slave girl that Yoon Kang supposedly is looking for. Yoon Kang doesn’t want her to hang around, but Sang Chu argues that he’s going to need some help around if he’s to do missions for Yoon Kang and manage the new store. So that new slave girl is hired… and Sang Chu gets a love interest. Hehehehe.
Yoon Kang then dresses in his laborer’s clothes and heads out to meet his father’s supposed killer, as he had told Son Taek Soo to relay. As he leaves, he tells his new worker to address him as Mr. Hanjo, not ‘lord,’ and waves goodbye to them. I’m so proud of him: For a man who originally believed in a set social order he’s already breaking those rules down with his own group of people by shunning the term of ‘lord.’
Moo Duk and his team of gunmen are already at the meeting spot ready to take him down, but Yoon Kang is cleverer than they are to reveal himself. He waits until morning, when they’re all tired, and Moo Duk heads back to the gunmen’s hideout first. When he’s alone on the roads, Yoon Kang whistles, attracting his attention. Moo Duk quickly grabs his gun and runs for cover, but Yoon Kang isn’t shooting at him. Instead he wants Moo Duk to follow him.
The chase goes through the forest, and Moo Duk pauses to shoot his gun. It hits a tree next to Yoon Kang, who spins and shoots his gun while midair. His shot is more accurate as it knocks off Moo Duk’s hat. In the time it takes for Moo Duk to reload Yoon Kang shoots another bullet, this time right through Moo Duk’s shoulder. With nowhere to go Yoon Kang slowly approaches his mark with his full face bared.
He reveals himself as Park Jin Han’s son, the son who – guess what?! – didn’t die that day on the river three years ago. He demands to know if Moo Duk is the one who killed his father. Moo Duk scoffs. If he were the one who killed Park Jin Han then Yoon Kang for sure would not be alive right now. Despite Yoon Kang’s threats he refuses to divulge who is the man above that killed Park Jin Han. Yoon Kang can’t bring himself to shoot Moo Duk at point blank, still believing that Moo Duk will break and spill everything, so Moo Duk finishes the deed for him by driving a knife into his own heart. Won Shin’s got some seriously loyal people around him.
Yoon Kang is so angry that his one lead is dead that he nearly forgets his father’s words. His father’s killer is the one with a wounded left arm, so Yoon Kang checks to see if Moo Duk has any scars. He has none. Even though Yoon Kang didn’t get much information he knows for sure that it wasn’t Moo Duk who killed his father.
When Moo Duk doesn’t show up at the hideout, Won Shin quickly realizes that his trusted gunman is in trouble. The following day Jung Hoon and Il Do head out to see if there really is a dead gunman, and Il Do recognizes the man as one of two gunmen from three years ago. He knows as well that this is not the one who killed Park Jin Han, but this dead one is certainly one of the two that Park Jin Han went up against.
Sang Chu is so happy to see that Yoon Kang is back safe and sound, and the renovations are in full swing for their new shop. Hye Won and Soo In visit the shop and inform him that he can’t store the gunpowder in the city because the Emperor is present. Hye Won offers to take him to her father’s warehouse outside of the city to judge if it’s a suitable place to keep his shipment.
Hye Won and Yoon Kang travel through the forest with two bodyguards, and he is impressed that Hye Won does so much for a woman. Her father never treated her like a girl, which is why she’s been able to grow as a savvy businesswoman. Suddenly arrows come whizzing out of nowhere, striking her two bodyguards down. It’s a bunch of hoodlums who want Hye Won only. It’s easy to figure out that these men were sent by her business rival Soon Do and so, with as much grace as she can, she follows along with the hoodlums. Two of them keep Yoon Kang in check with their swords, but that’s nothing for him. I think he’s more intrigued by the fact that Hye Won bids him a safe journey as she’s being taken away, and worried by the fact that his potential business deal with Won Shin may go south if something were to happen to her.
In a flash he takes down the two swordsmen on him and swiftly takes down the others with martial arts, not unlike how he took down the palace guards when he escaped the city three years ago. I know Yoon Kang is cool, but the way this fight sequence was choreographed and filmed makes him even cooler.
This look of sudden “love at first sight” sickens me Hye Won. It sickens me!
Poor Soo In, she still dreams of her dear Yoon Kang. But at least there’s some good news. Jung Hoon has finally tracked down Yeon Ha. He believes she’s going to be sold to China, and leaving on a boat tomorrow. They’ll have to go save her now, since Yoon Kang isn’t around.
Won Shin’s man returns with information about ‘Hanjo’ and then they learn that Hye Won has returned unharmed and safe. Won Shin’s look of fear is so paternal that once again I soften just a fraction as he makes sure his daughter is truly uninjured. No matter who Hanjo is, Won Shin’s truly grateful that he saved Hye Won’s life. He offers him some tea but Yoon Kang declines and heads home instead. Yeah, you go home and not hang out with Hye Won anymore!
Yoon Kang returns to his home where he finds Soo In waiting for him outside. She really won’t just let go. She asks him again if he’s really not her Young Master Yoon Kang, and he denies it again. It’s not going to be his problem that he looks and sounds like him, although for a moment I just thought that maybe, just maybe he could reveal himself to her. Is that too much to ask?
He bids her to leave, but then she says, “What about Yeon Ha?” Ooooooh snap. He replies indifferently, “What about this woman?” and she tells him that Yeon Ha is leaving from Mapo Port the following day for China. Yoon Kang has no interest in the affairs of Yeon Ha, though he’s totally soaking up the information, and tells her to stop talking to him about her former love.
Soo In returns home, heartbroken. If he can react so coldly to news about Yeon Ha then he probably really isn’t Yoon Kang. But Yoon Kang isn’t that tough. Once inside the safety of his room he cries in pain, grimacing at the suffering he must endure at not being able to greet his loved ones publicly. Can he even save Yeon Ha, his sister? What’s great about the flashback sequence here is that there are enough happy memories from the first four episodes to pull from so it doesn’t feel too tired just yet. We’ll see if it gets tiring after four more episodes…
Ho Kyung doesn’t want Soo In to go to Mapo Port to save Yeon Ha because he’s afraid it’ll be too dangerous and that she’ll be disappointed. I think it’s sweet that he looks out for her. It’s not necessarily romantic yet, but his gestures toward her can certainly turn romantic. Right now I’d like to see him as the overprotective elder brother because she is the only person with whom he can have a sibling-relationship with. (Since the rest of his family, yunno, shuns him.)
Won Shin also finds out about Yeon Ha and believes that Yoon Kang will appear tonight to get her back. There is no way he’d ignore his own sister. If Hanjo leaves his residences and the mysterious gunman who killed Moo Duk appears, then it just confirms that they’re one and the same. Won Shin has someone keep watch on Hanjo drinking with a gisaeng at his residence while he goes to the port to see what will happen himself.
Evening draws nigh, and we see a glimpse of Yeon Ah, dirtied, tired and worn, making her way to the port with a few other girls and their captor. Yoon Kang continues drinking with his gisaeng, this time bringing the party indoors. He gives her more and more of the sweet tasting alcohol he brought from Japan, so much so that she ends up falling asleep – just like he planned. He blows out the candle and quickly dresses in his gunman disguise, evading the eyes of his watcher.
Soo In arrives at the port with Ho Kyung close behind. Jung Hoon assures her that he and the police will take Yeon Ha to safety, and that she shouldn’t have come out so late in the night. Everyone is on the lookout for both Yeon Ha and her captors, and for Yoon Kang.
Yoon Kang finds his sister being held in a warehouse with the other girls and her captors. He quickly emerges to burst right in but is stopped by guards. He’s quickly surrounded on all sides by swordsmen, all of whom work for Won Shin.
It’s showdown time.
Okay so this fight can still result with Won Shin not realizing that Hanjo is Yoon Kang because his watcher hasn’t confirmed that Hanjo has left his house. Therefore there could still be two people who just look alike. However as I said earlier, no one is stupid in this world and I really don’t think Won Shin will be fooled. I think he knows that Hanjo and Yoon Kang are one and the same.
I’m going to admit that this drama doesn’t really make leaps and bounds in the “new and innovative” territory. It’s still very much a cliched drama with the way that they set up their love triangle / square (I’m looking at you Hye Won) and with how they have Yoon Kang become the long suffering hero. It’s still got the girl pining for her lost love, although thankfully she’s much more empowered to get to the bottom of the truth. (I love and admire her gutsiness, and that she’s willing to believe her own instincts than completely believe what he tells her. I believe that no matter how much he denies it, she still believes a little bit that Hanjo is really Yoon Kang.) But despite all this predictability, I still really enjoy it and get sucked into it. A large part of it is the acting because Lee Jun Ki really sells the character to me. Another part of it is the writing. It’s solid and yet simple. We don’t get too much into heroic overtures and grandiose declarations of revenge and love. It’s kept simple enough and punctuated instead with the emotional acting. Actions and expressions are allowed to speak louder than words, and for that I’m really grateful for it. Plus, we get plenty of eye-acting from Won Shin and Yoon Kang, which is great because having one’s face half covered up really tests an actor’s ability to convey every emotion he’s supposed to convey.
It’s too early to say how this drama will turn out, though week after week it’s felt pretty solid. It’s unforgettable because the characters all have solid friendships with one another. Jung Hoon could easily be a sidekick character with little depth but in this episode he was given more shadings to his character. As frivolous and cowardly he may seem he’s not hesitant to follow his guts and greet Hanjo as Yoon Kang. One might be more suspicious and hesitant, but he’s not afraid to approach him immediately. I love that. I hope that Kanemaru becomes more of a well rounded character because it would be a shame to see Otani Ryohei be a crutch for the writer and stay as the “Japanese sidekick who helps Yoon Kang establish his identity as a Japanese person when convenient.”
I know we’re only six episodes in, but is it too much to ask for a happy ending?