The episode where a lot happens in terms of character growth, and yet not a lot happens because we are singularly focused on whether Yoon Kang will get his sister back. Also, Yoon Kang is seriously like an amalgam of superhero characters with his basement “cave” of weapons and disguises, and changes his Clark Kent disguise to a Sub-Zero one for his nighttime activities.
Well talk about a startling discovery! Yoon Kang is too shocked for words when Yeon Ha hugs him, as he was not expecting her to be in the house of his enemy. What’s great is that Yoon Kang quickly picks up on the fact that the door is now ajar, and sees Won Shin move away from view. Knowing that this was all a trap, he quickly pushes Yeon Ha away and denies any knowledge of her. It’s heartbreaking to see him get scared that his tightly plotted revenge might unravel because of her, and constantly look at the door to see if Won Shin is watching. He even tries to shake his head in warning for her to not say anymore but Yeon Ha doesn’t catch on. Finally, knowing that there’s no other way to get her away from him, he slaps Yeon Ha in the face.
Oh. God. That was far too painful to have to watch.
Yoon Kang storms out of the house, not wanting to have any business with Won Shin anymore. Won Shin curiously asks the crying Yeon Ha if she really thinks Hanjo is her brother. Her ‘yes’ is all Won Shin really needs, but he does entertain the thought that he could be wrong about everything.
He’s not, since Yoon Kang returns to his home sobbing and in pain for having been so cruel to his only sister. I’m kind of missing the happier days right now… Also, when Hye Won checks up on Yeon Ha to see why there was such a ruckus with Hanjo earlier she discovers that her father just hired the very girl Soo In’s been looking for. It all comes together now, and Hye Won is now aware that Hanjo is Soo In’s beloved Yoon Kang. She doesn’t seem to know how Yoon Kang is connected to her father, but I’m sure she’ll find out sooner than later.
But there’s no time to mourn for Yeon Ha, as Yoon Kang has a more pressing issue at hand. Sang Chu has caught Soo In stealing the gunpowder, and as a result sent all of the gunpowder to Yoon Kang’s warehouse outside the city. Soo In tries to apologize but Yoon Kang has no time for that. He wants to cut off all ties to Won Shin and his people. Soo In caught him on a bad, bad day…
It’s now too dangerous for Yoon Kang to be near Won Shin, but he’s determined to get Yeon Ha out of there. Sang Chu advises him to be more patient because Yoon Kang still needs information from Won Shin, but rage knows no reason.
Meanwhile Leader Kim visits Emperor Gojong. We find out that he’s the one who installed Gojong on the throne, and therefore wielded much power and influence back in the day. Gojong is no fool, and knows that Leader Kim is not happy about the development of the new department because it’s like upturning the entire royal court system. However, the emperor will not entertain Leader Kim’s calls for slower negotiations and compromise (because it will really mean that Leader Kim will get his way) because he wants to honor his most loyal friend’s memory and repay the sin of having denounced him.
Their face off was most interestingly shot because it had both actors staring at the camera as if they were facing each other, warring point blank at each other.
In the end, Leader Kim decides to back off and wait, as Gojong’s determination could end up being weak and his plans fall apart. He has VP Kim deal with Interpreter Jung’s appointment and tells Won Shin to lay low and not use any gunmen for now. They don’t need to attract extra attention.
Soo In later goes back to Yoon Kang to apologize for her actions. She really wants things to work out for Hye Won and her father, so Yoon Kang relents. Besides, he can’t be too rash and break all ties when he really needs Won Shin. That evening he plans to break into Won Shin’s house. However this time Won Shin is ready. He’s hired extra swordsmen and Yoon Kang finds himself going up against 14 swordsmen against his one gun.
It’s brilliant that he actually tries to go against all of them, but manages to only shoot two down. He’s soon outnumbered and surrounded again, and his mask nearly comes off several times. But finally he finds a worthy hostage: Hye Won herself, who’s come out to see what’s causing all the commotion. Just like Soo In, she understands quite quickly that this mysterious gunman means her no harm. Won Shin watches on anxiously as Soo In uses herself as a shield to lead Yoon Kang out of her house unharmed. Once they’re far from her house, she asks who the mysterious gunman is. Like he’ll tell her.
Yoon Kang hurries off, but not without nodding his thanks. Hye Won may be the daughter of his enemy but she certainly has a bit of his respect. He’ll just have to go home frustrated and without his sister.
Hye Won returns home safely and notes that she saw Won Shin’s bodyguard Sung Gil holding a gun. I guess she did not think her father would be dealing guns, and it clarifies her actions from earlier in the series. Hye Won doesn’t know about her father’s dealings with the gunmen, but isn’t above using force and threats to get her way in business. She also confronts her father about the buying of Yeon Ha. Won Shin swears her to secrecy to keep the information from Soo In because he doesn’t want Soo In distracted for the demonstration the next day. It’s also possible he’ll need to use Yeon Ha as a bargaining chip. Lord Song, one of his leery party guests, had taken a liking to Yeon Ha and happens to also have a gunpowder expert in his home.
The following day, Yoon Kang meets with everyone else to go to the demonstration site. He casually asks if Won Shin had an eventful night. Won Shin replies that he had a thief the other night, and it was probably someone who held a grudge for no real reason. The old Yoon Kang was like that, and Won Shin is waiting for that man to return as he had promised to to teach him a lesson. Heh. These double entendres tickle my bone as they threaten each other back and forth without really threatening each other.
Soo In prepares the bomb with its long fuse, and Yoon Kang prefers to stand close to watch. Hye Won wants to watch nearby too, which annoys the heck out of me because why can’t you just let Yoon Kang and Soo In have a private moment?! The fuse is lit, and the spark reaches the bomb. Nothing happens. Yoon Kang scoffs at Soo In’s “skills” but when she inches closer to see what’s wrong with the bomb, sparks start to fly out. Yoon Kang grabs Soo In and pulls her to safety, but it ends up only being sparks and smoke. “That was good fireworks,” he comments. Hehehe.
Now that it’s confirmed that Gyeonggi merchants don’t have a good gunpowder expert, Yoon Kang can safely walk from the deal. Soo In feels terrible for this but Hye Won reassures her that it’ll be okay. Too bad she can’t tell her about Yeon Ha… Hye Won also tells Soo In to thank Yoon Kang for saving her even though the bomb didn’t go off. It’s strangely sweet because it’s almost like Hye Won is pushing Soo In and Yoon Kang together. But Hye Won also gives that longing look as if she wished Yoon Kang saved her instead.
Emperor Gojong makes his appointments, putting all of his loyal supporters in high positions for the new department. Ho Kyung enters the palace as well as a new employee, and when he bumps into VP Kim, the look on his father’s face reeks of dismay and anger. He calls his son to his quarters that evening and screams at him for taking a job that completely opposes his morals and political views. Um, last I checked you denounced him as your son. Ho Kyung is hurt that all his father cares about is his own reputation and that he’s only worried people will find out he’s his illegitimate son. If his father is that scared of him, then how did he even have the courage to become a Vice Premier? (Touche, Ho Kyung.) Ho Kyung doesn’t care what his father thinks of his new position anyways since he is now renouncing VP Kim.
The following day Won Shin takes Yeon Ha to Lord Song’s house as a “gift” for the lord’s birthday. Poor Hye Won can’t do anything to stop it. On the way, Won Shin stops by Yoon Kang’s home to assure him that he’ll have a proper gunpowder expert to show him in a few days. Yoon Kang gets a glimpse of Yeon Ha being dragged away but is unfortunately powerless to stop it. It’s going to be a sad fate for Yeon Ha, as she hasn’t just been sold as a slave but rather a concubine for the old and pervy Lord Song.
Won Shin knows that this will bother Yoon Kang so he has his bodyguard Sung Gil arrange to have all of his gunmen guarding Lord Song’s home. When Yoon Kang does a reconnaissance mission to check out Lord Song’s estate, he sees all the gunmen keeping watch, and makes the connection between Won Shin and the gunmen his father told him about. It’s undeniable now that the Gyeonggi merchant group is closely tied to the gunmen. The whole trade off between Yeon Ha and Song’s gunpowder expert also bothers Hye Won, which makes me like her just a little bit more. But then we learn of her pained history. She too was a slave girl that Won Shin had saved from a rapist master and an abusive mistress. When reminded of that Won Shin actually looks remorseful as he too doesn’t want to listen to her sordid past. These two are such an interesting duo.
Back in Yoon Kang’s home, he and Sang Chu discover that Je Mi is far more clever than she appears. She’s already taught Kanemaru a Korean phrase through the Chinese characters! Gosh this maid is so clever. Yoon Kang freaks out for two reasons: 1) he can no longer say bad things or tease Kanemaru in Korean in front of him, and 2) Kanemaru might pick up on his plans and his true identity in no time. Sang Chu quickly pulls Je Mi away to scold her, and allows her to only teach one Korean phrase to Kanemaru a day. This is too cute.
Jung Hoon pays his first official visit to Yoon Kang’s store as a police officer overseeing all Japanese foreigners’ business. Yoon Kang tells Jung Hoon about where Yeon Ha is, but ‘rescue missions’ aren’t exactly Jung Hoon’s expertise.
Yoon Kang meets the real technician, Yoon Tae Ho, who’s clearly more competent as he knows which mixture of niter, sulfur, and gunpowder will result in smoke only and which will result in an actual explosion. This gives Yoon Kang an idea, but then he notices someone spying just outside his warehouse. It’s Soo In! She and Jan Yi followed Yoon Kang and Tae Ho in order to learn how to make a real bomb by watching through her spyglass. Yoon Kang spots her right away because of the glint from her spyglass and he walks right up to her.
Jan Yi screams and runs off, leaving her lady behind. I love this maid.
Soo In apologizes for her nosiness, admitting that her ‘disease’ to know everything about anything has come back. She lacked the drive to learn recently (and who wants to bet it’s because of Yoon Kang’s death?) but now that she wants to know about gunpowder she’ll do anything to learn about it. Amused, Yoon Kang allows her to learn from Tae Ho more officially if she’ll do something for him first: make more of the smoke bombs she had made for the first demonstration.
Yay! They’re working together!
On the evening of Lord Song’s birthday, Yoon Kang sends Sang Chu with some gifts and the smoke bomb to throw once he gets inside. There are many workers and other important people leaving gifts at Lord Song’s front door, so Sang Chu’s presence won’t be questioned. In the meantime, Lord Song decides to spend his birthday with his new ‘toy’, Yeon Ha. He finds out that Yeon Ha is actually the daughter of Park Jin Han, a man that he had pretty much sentenced to death. That doesn’t stop him from wanting the girl.
Yeon Ha struggles against his grasp and finally slaps Lord Song, drawing some blood. Suddenly the smoke bomb goes off and everyone starts running in a frenzy thinking that there’s a fire somewhere. Yeon Ha takes this opportunity to run away, but she easily gets lost in the thick cloud of smoke. Won Shin’s gunmen know that something is afoot and start looking out for Yoon Kang. He’s on to them before they even realize it and knocks them out easily.
Lord Song catches Yeon Ha and draws his sword. How dare a slave like her slap him and scratch his face? He raises his sword to kill her and suddenly a bullet flies right through his chest. It’s Yoon Kang! He jumps down from the roof in front of her and reveals himself. Yes – it’s really him! The siblings embrace, finally reunited, but a bullet flies through the air from an opposite roof. It’s one of Won Shin’s gunmen, and he nearly hits Yeon Ha in the head.
And Yoon Kang whips his gun around and shoots at the enemy.
This is not going to end well. There’s already been too many close calls with Yeon Ha’s life that I’m afraid she may die quite soon. I’m quite fearful for her life because I would really like it if Yoon Kang could save at least one of his family members after being unable to for his parents.
Hye Won and Won Shin became even more interesting in this episode after seeing their dynamic together. It puzzles me as well as intrigues me that the two are not blood related but he loves her so much like a daughter. Or they could be blood related but before he rose to his position she had been sold as a slave. You can see the genuine fear in his eyes every time Hye Won’s life is in danger. It’s one of those character quirks that make me like him even though I shouldn’t. Hye Won has also been one of those characters that I love to hate even though she hasn’t done anything wrong technically, and her lack of awareness of her father’s involvement with the gunmen has put her on the ‘good’ people’s side for now. I think it’s actually great that she developed a connection to Yeon Ha through Soo In’s stories and through a shared experience of being a slave because it actually give her a more complex relationship with her father.
It’s kind of funny how both Hye Won and Soo In can be taken ‘hostage’ by Yoon Kang and yet not feel threatened by him at all. He must reek of good intentions to even these women. But then again they are the modern Joseon woman and nothing scares them easily.
And on a last note, here’s a shot that gave me quite the deja vu, thanks to the fact that both of the dramas below were directed by the same person: