Joseon Gunman: Episode 7 Recap

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The truth is revealed! Sorta. To some people. In any case I’m so happy that I only had to wait two weeks to be reunited with Yeon Ha. I’m glad to have come across this drama considering that I haven’t been watching decent ones as of late (Three Days… Triangle…). It’s helped me appreciate dramas again. So thank you Joseon Gunman. I pray that this drama stays good for another 13 episodes. (And I’m probably going to repeat that prayer several more times throughout its run.)

A quick recap of the last three weeks and then we’re back in the action where Yoon Kang is trying to save his sister at Mapo Port. However his run-in with Won Shin’s swordsmen prevent him from getting close to her. Before he can be forced to reveal himself, Yoon Kang whips out his rifle and aims it at the merchant. But instead of killing the man he shoots in the air, causing everyone to duck and giving him a moment to escape. Won Shin’s right hand bodyguard chases after him and manages to engage him in close combat. But a well placed kick in the head sends the bodyguard toppling off a ledge and down to the street below.

At that point, Jung Hoon and his men have already heard the gunshot and are looking for the source of the shot. He believes the bodyguard is the guilty one, but Won Shin assures them all that his man is innocent, and that they should keep looking for the gunman that got away.

Yoon Kang returns to the warehouse where his sister was kept but it’s too late. The girls have all been carted away. Instead he runs into Soo In, whose curiosity has led her to the same warehouse. Yoon Kang clamps his hands over her mouth before she can scream but Ho Kyung has already caught them. Yoon Kang tries to make Soo In his hostage of sorts, and Ho Kyung offers himself in her stead so that she would remain unharmed. A commotion outside gives Yoon Kang a chance to throw Soo In at Ho Kyung and make his escape. I wonder if Yoon Kang wonders if something is going on between Soo In and Ho Kyung romantically…

Won Shin, Soo In, Ho Kyung, and Jung Hoon and all their guards regroup. This one gunman has caused a ruckus for all of them and no one was able to get the answers they were looking for that night. Soo In thanks Ho Kyung for his gallant move of offering himself up in exchange for her life but also notes that even if they were to be taken hostage she doesn’t think that the gunman would have hurt them. Hah. Perhaps she sensed Yoon Kang under that get-up?

The following morning Yoon Kang’s gisaeng wakes him up, finding him passed out next to her. Kanemaru hilariously forces Yoon Kang to get up despite how tired he is because he disapproves of his partying ways. It’s also the day they open the shop officially so there’s much to be done.

Won Shin’s spy reports that he did not see ‘Hanjo’ leave his home once the gates were closed, which implies that he couldn’t have been the mysterious gunman at Mapo Port the other night. Won Shin remains unconvinced though because it’s possible that Yoon Kang was aware of his spy’s presence and snuck out somehow. He sends his bodyguard to find Yeon Ha and to bring her into his house. If ‘Hanjo’ is Yoon Kang, he won’t be able to ignore his own sister.

While guests visit Yoon Kang’s shop, he tells Sang Chu to get the letter on his desk and deliver it to a specific officer at the Western Police Office. Bets are that it’s to be delivered to Jung Hoon. Yoon Kang has now realized that if he wants to find Yeon Ha quickly he’s going to need some help. Won Shin, Soo In, and Hye Won soon arrive bearing more gifts for his store and they sit down together to talk business. Yoon Kang is impatient to see the gunpowder explosion and gives Soo In three days to prepare for the demonstration. This really puts Won Shin and Hye Won in a tight spot but there’s nothing that anyone can do but play along.

Once business is settled, they all drink for a bit and Yoon Kang begins to talk unashamedly about the gisaeng he’s slept with. It makes Soo In and Hye Won very uncomfortable, up to the point that Soo In finally cracks and excuses herself. It’s funny how Yoon Kang goads her into insulting him but she’s stopped by Hye Won for the sake of maintaining face. Hye Won reluctantly leaves with Soo In, clearly wanting to bask a little more in the glow of her savior. Ugh.

Once alone, Yoon Kang ends up telling Won Shin about his life in Osaka. He names his low-class soldier of a father and his now-dead sister as reasons for leaving his hometown. He started from the very bottom until he finally gained the trust of Yamamoto. This story actually corroborates the information Won Shin’s bodyguard had gathered from the consulate, so it looks like ‘Hanjo’ is ‘Hanjo’ and Yoon Kang is dead. But, ever so sharp, Won Shin can’t deny his instinct and bets that Yoon Kang would have at least prepared this much if he were going to keep up a fake identity.

We get a flashback to three years ago in Japan where we learn how Yoon Kang got his identity of Hasegawa Hanjo. For some reason Yoon Kang ended up in a fight with some Japanese people who disliked him because he was Korean. No matter how much the Japanese men beat him up with their fists and swords, Yoon Kang would not stop fighting. He managed to overpower about five armed men by himself, and impressed one of the bystanders: the real Hasegawa Hanjo. This man offered to give him a job working for him and Yamamoto, the head of the biggest merchant group of Kyoto. For some reason Yoon Kang finds it an enticing offer, and we learn that he most probably took on Hanjo’s identity afterwards. So what happened to the real Hanjo?

Anyways, those questions and answers will be saved for later. We go back to Jung Hoon trying to explain to Moon Il Do why he hasn’t ID’d the dead gunman. It’s really strange how Il Do and Jung Hoon are kind of like the comedy duo for this drama when they’re not really that funny. As for Won Shin, he must answer to Leader Kim, who just found out that one of his gunmen is dead. Leader Kim reminds Won Shin that the gunmen are his even though they answer to Won Shin, so he must be made aware of all goings on. That includes a demonstration by the new gunmen Won Shin’s training for the future. Leader Kim looks kind of insane as he watches the gunmen hit their targets, like a little boy getting too excited about killing cockroaches.

Later that evening, Jung Hoon decides to spend some time at the gibang instead of ID’ing the gunman because of a letter he received on his desk. He thinks that his first gisaeng is in town and wants to see him, so he excitedly heads over to his private room. Except… it’s actually Yoon Kang waiting for him! Yay! Still smarting from the harsh rebuff a few days ago, Jung Hoon yells at ‘Hanjo’ for playing a prank. Until Yoon Kang admits that he really is Yoon Kang.

Jung Hoon spends quite a bit of time asking questions that only Yoon Kang knows the answer to because he can’t believe that his friend is actually back and alive. It’s both funny and sweet to see these friends reunite, and I’m such a sucker for bromances where one guy is like the fawning younger brother who admires his cooler, distant elder brother. Jung Hoon wants to tell Soo In right away but Yoon Kang won’t let him. He’s technically still a wanted criminal and if she learns of his true identity she could end up getting in trouble with the law later on. He wants to protect her as much as possible, so under no circumstances should Jung Hoon say anything in public.

On that note, Yoon Kang has a favor to ask: He wants Jung Hoon to volunteer being the officer that will keep tabs on the Japanese foreigners in town. That way it would give Jung Hoon and him an excuse to meet up every so often without sneaking out to a gibang. He also wants Jung Hoon to help him find Yeon Ha, which is not a problem since Jung Hoon and Soo In are already on that case.

Meanwhile Emperor Gojong receives Interpreter Jung’s proposal for a new executive department that will help lead the Enlightenment movement in Joseon. The department will have 12 divisions that will cover almost all important aspects of the nation, including commerce, military, and foreign affairs. It’s a department that will end up having more clout than the lords in the court.

The only real obstacle now is to convince the court. The conservatives under VP Kim protest of course, arguing that opening the borders to Japan and Westerners will only expedite the downfall of the monarchy. On the other hand, Gojong’s supporters argue that this could actually help strengthen the nation as a whole. Sick of all their bickering, Gojong overrules them all and instates the new executive department. Once Leader Kim hears of this, he realizes that he’s going to have to have a one-on-one with the emperor to see how much the emperor is willing to put on the line for this department. Based on the expressions of his lords, it looks like getting Leader Kim involved with the Emperor might be a bad idea…

Emperor Gojong also appoints Interpreter Jung as the administrator of the department, who then asks Ho Kyung to work with him. It’s the start of a new era where one’s background and birth does not factor into how one gets his new job. It’s great for Ho Kyung, but likely to cause issues for Ho Kyung’s father, VP Kim.

Preparations are underway for the gunpowder demonstration. Won Shin and Hye Won must deal with some dissatisfied villagers who are not happy that Won Shin bought their lands and then moved their ancestors’ bodies without so much a ritual. Meanwhile Soo In goes to Yoon Kang’s warehouse outside of the city to check out his recent shipment of gunpowder. For someone who’s not a real expert she does know enough that the gunpowder he ordered is not the best quality. I love it when she’s so sassy and knowledgeable around Yoon Kang, and boy does he deserve it after being a jerk to her in front of everyone.

Soo In and Yoon Kang head back to the city and run into some of those grumpy descendants. They believe that Yoon Kang was the one who told Won Shin to move the bodies, so they’ve developed a grudge against him. They want to teach him a lesson, but Yoon Kang steps protectively in front of Soo In and draws his revolver. He aims it at one of the old men but shoots in the air instead, giving him and Soo In time once again to run away.

The two of them hide behind a large rock, holding hands in case the descendants find them again. Yoon Kang gets flashes of when Soo In gripped his hand tightly because she was afraid of the gun and getting caught by Won Shin back in the day. I’m kind of glad he doesn’t let go of her hand though until she’s ready to and is conscious of the fact that he’s ‘Hanjo’. But then he says, “Do you still think I’m that Park Yoon Kang?”

Ack, Yoon Kang! Why ask that question to make her think you are Yoon Kang (which she does still, by the way, and supposes that he might have a good reason to hide that fact from her) when you’re going to end up denying it anyways!?

They return to the city safely, and Hye Won apologizes profusely for the incident. She’s already resolved the issue with the elder descendants by promising a prayer service and will pay them off. Yoon Kang coolly shrugs off her apologies and heads home, leaving Soo In to wonder why Hye Won has to be so lenient and accommodating towards such a rude businessman. Hye Won reveals that he saved her life before, and so she owes a life debt to him. Plus, she admits she’s got a crush on him. Ugh.

Sang Chu also has news on the slave dealers that have Yeon Ha but by the time they ask for her, she’s already been sold. They just missed saving Yeon Ha from Won Shin by 15 minutes!

Won Shin plans to host a party for all the rich from Gyeonggi so that he has an excuse to invite Yoon Kang and have him “accidentally” meet Yeon Ha. While Yoon Kang heads over, Soo In goes to his store to see if she can get her hands on some gunpowder. Even though she promised him that she wouldn’t remove the gunpowder from his premises, Soo In knows that she won’t be able to set off a passable demonstration without some practice. She asks the new maid, Je Mi, to let her “inspect” the gunpowder. The poor maid, who’s still getting her bearings on what and what not to do, lets Soo In go into the storage and check the gunpowder. Soo In grabs a sampling of each gunpowder and chemicals, but just when she’s about to leave she bumps into Sang Chu and spills everything on the ground. Uh oh…

Meanwhile Won Shin invites Yoon Kang to a private parlor where he can have tea and sober up before he has to drink more with Won Shin’s esteemed guests (who all happen to be big drinkers). He already has Yeon Ha working on helping prepare the party, and sends for her to deliver the tea. As soon as Won Shin leaves the room to greet his other guests, Yeon Ha enters with her tea tray.

’nuff said.

Yeon Ha drops her tea tray when she recognizes her brother immediately. And Won Shin watches as Yeon Ha hugs her brother tightly, and Yoon Kang’s eyes water up, shocked and unsure how to respond. No matter what Yoon Kang says now, Won Shin just got his absolute confirmation on his identity.

Comments:

I think this episode was pretty self-explanatory. I don’t feel anything new was necessarily introduced to the drama with this episode, although I was under the impression that Yeon Ha was going to die, and that’s why Yoon Kang turns to guns. Right now anything can happen; Yeon Ha can still die under Won Shin’s hand, and that could cause more episodes of pain and drama for our hero. But for now I’m actually kind of glad that she’s still alive and in Korea instead of in China.

I was really happy when Yoon Kang gave up the ruse with at least Jung Hoon because I think it would have stretched believability if he managed to trick so many people for several more episodes. I really like that none of the characters are really fooled by his Clark Kent-esque disguise of a suit and glasses, but only play along because they don’t have undeniable proof of who he really is. It’s so much more freeing when you have Yoon Kang’s enemies and friends know who he really is because we don’t have to have conversations going around in circles on his identity anymore. Instead the conversations can be full of innuendos that suggest one side knows what the other side is thinking.

One thing I have noticed is that this drama could easily have taken place in modern day Korea. The gunmen all act like they’re part of a gang, and everyone responds to one mob boss who responds to another. The emperor could even be the president of some really large conglomerate at this point. I don’t know if the parallels are intentional, but that’s how I see it. It’s possible that it’s because of the time period, where we are in the turn of the century between the classical and modern eras, or it could be because of the directing. A lot of scenes feel like they could take place in the modern times, but simply don’t because they’re all wearing historical clothing. It could be that a lot of historical dramas are like this if you really pay attention and see the parallels, and that I didn’t notice it until now. But some historical dramas tend to be very much rooted in historical figures and events; Joseon Gunman doesn’t rely on that so much because right now Gojong and his plans for Enlightenment play second fiddle to the main storyline. These historical events have not been fully integrated with the main storyline just yet, and I wonder how it will, if it ever will.

I think episode 7 overall was a good set up for what’s to come, not necessarily a solid episode on its own. It makes me anticipate episode 8 even more, and it helped make a transition to the real plot of the drama. The set up is now complete for the immediate conflict we are about to face between Yoon Kang and Won Shin.

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