Joseon Gunman: Episode 18 Recap


I know I’m terribly behind with these recaps! Not to mention the shock I felt when I found out that Joseon Gunman was ending at 22 rather than 20 episodes! It’s sad because while the history part of the drama is incredibly important (we’re seeing the decline of the dynasties and a turn towards Korea’s occupation from other countries), I also feel that it’s slowing down the drama as a whole. I understand that Yoon Kang has something greater to achieve other than his personal revenge, but at the same time the romance is really dragging the story down. It’s not necessary to remind us that he and Soo In want the simple life every episode, although it does make me feel like they will never have that happiness.

Won Shin is not happy after his confrontation with the smug Yoon Kang, as evidenced by his flipping over his table. Worse news comes in when Sung Gil informs Won Shin and Hye Won that the Songdo merchants have collected all the raw silk and cow skins, and so there is none left for Won Shin to sell to Yamamoto.

Won Shin barges into Yoon Kang’s store with a gun at hand. He doesn’t care anymore that he’ll get arrested by the king – he’ll kill Yoon Kang! Yoon Kang dares him to shoot, though with just one accurate shot everything Won Shin’s built will come crashing down. That gets to him and Won Shin finally throws his gun down. Yoon Kang scores again!

Ho Kyung has just moved back into his father’s house when Won Shin barges in, demanding a private meeting with VP Kim. He wants the commerce department established immediately, and for him to be put as the head of the department. Only then can he counter Yoon Kang’s “insolent” moves. When VP Kim suggests the establishment of the commerce department be placed in the merchants’ hands, Kim Ok Gyun protests. Giving more power to the already-corrupt merchants would be a bad idea. Unfortunately Gojong doesn’t dismiss VP Kim’s idea right away, which makes Kim Ok Gyun and his supporters even more concerned.

Kim Ok Gyun meets with the other progressives and they all believe they need to act now to stop the king from becoming more and more entwined with VP Kim and his men. They don’t have a court lady as a spy anymore, since she died during the rebellion, but Kim Ok Gyun has another woman in mind: Soo In.

He meets with Soo In to suggest the idea. She’ll have to spy on the king and queen for the progressives so that they can establish a world of greater equality and continue her father’s work. Soo In never thought of becoming a court maid before, especially since by being a court maid one can never marry. Kim Ok Gyun leaves her to think about it, and she discusses it with Yoon Kang. Of course, Yoon Kang doesn’t want her to do it because it’s far too dangerous, and he’d rather she stay out of harm’s way for once. Soo In agrees, so for now the progressives are not going to have a spy in the palace.

However, Yoon Kang sets up a bit of a double standard here because he can get involved in a dangerous business war with Won Shin and he won’t listen to Soo In’s constant worrying for him.

Late that evening, VP Kim brings his son to a private dinner with Yamamoto, Won Shin, and Hye Won. Since Ho Kyung studied in Japan he’d be able to do interpretations. VP Kim does a double take when he meets Yamamoto for the first time, as his profile does not quite match that of the person he saw at Leader Kim’s house many days ago, but VP Kim does not think much of it further. His only role in the dinner is to assure Yamamoto that partnering with Won Shin will lead to greater prosperity as the commerce department will be set up soon.

Hye Won now finds an unlikely ally in Ho Kyung as she thinks that they’ve both aligned their interests with that of their fathers. They’re now in the same boat, and she wonders if Ho Kyung has told Soo In of his new allegiances. Little does she realize, Ho Kyung is still very much on the side of the progressives and he informs Kim Ok Gyun of the meeting from that night. When he leaves, he bumps into Yoon Kang, who’s on his way to meet with Kim Ok Gyun as well. That’s when Ho Kyung learns of how Yoon Kang survived those bullet wounds three years ago.

Yoon Kang wants to know what Kim Ok Gyun’s plans are and offers his assistance. In exchange he wants Kim Ok Gyun to never approach Soo In for her help again. His only wish is to marry her at the end of all this, so he doesn’t want her ending up as a court maid or dead. Kim Ok Gyun jokes that he can’t believe Yoon Kang would cut ties with him over a girl, but he understands Yoon Kang’s message loud and clear. First off, he only suggested a path for Soo In to take, so it’s really up to her if she wants to be a court maid or not. Secondly, he’ll remember that Yoon Kang would want to help him and will now find a way to incorporate Yoon Kang into his plans.

When Ho Kyung returns home, his father announces his plans to present Ho Kyung to the king and recommend him to be captain of the Chin Force, which is a higher rank than being a captain of the Byulgi Force. More and more, Ho Kyung is becoming a trusted son.

Won Shin hosts a luncheon for all the grain dealers, except none of them show up. One eventually arrives late and explains to Won Shin that all the grain dealers were offered a better deal so they went there. “There” is, of course, Yoon Kang’s store. Yoon Kang is merely paying them a better price for their goods, and thus will make less profits himself. More table flipping ensues…

Hye Won and Won Shin then proceed to the palace to meet with the queen, who greets them graciously since she thinks they’re her saviors. Won Shin asks that she encourage the king to quickly establish the commerce department since he’s still hesitating, and in return he’ll make sure that the palace will become wealthy through it. Hye Won then presents her collection of jewelry and accessories to further entrench them on the queen’s good side.

Soo In then arrives for her usual meetings with the queen and is shocked to find Hye Won and Won Shin there. She eyes them suspiciously as the Choi family boast that they are super close to Soo In. Unable to handle their lies, she confronts Hye Won outside. What exactly is Hye Won and her father planning to do? Hye Won warns her to keep her mouth shut or else she and Yoon Kang will be arrested, but Soo In’s not afraid. In fact, Soo In believes that Hye Won has more to fear because she’s making all these threats. What, is Hye Won afraid that Soo In will tell the queen about how Won Shin is a gunman and Hye Won tried to kill her?

Heh. Truly, the one with more sins is the one who lives more fearfully.

Later that evening as she walks home with Yoon Kang, the two of them discuss the queen’s allegiances. She must clearly know of Won Shin’s evil doings, but is simply aligning herself with them because she and Gojong are more worried about their own safety than doing what’s right. Soo In feels betrayed by the king since both of their fathers sacrificed their lives for these cowards.

The following day Hye Won visits Yoon Kang as he fills his storage with the goods he managed to snatch away from her father. She smugly announces that the commerce department has now been established, and so no one can do business without a business permit. Yoon Kang’s going to have to close up his shop since he can’t sell any of the goods he just acquired. Ohhhhh boy.

A thief breaks into the storage and steals some of the already cooked rice. The thief is but a boy, the same one whom Yoon Kang had saved from Won Shin’s mines. The boy recklessly runs out of the house and accidentally gets hit by the police’s horse. Though the child is barely alive, Yoon Kang brings him the doctor and begs the boy be saved. Truly a man of the people.

Jung Hoon informs him that because Won Shin has control over all goods, the prices of rice, grain, and barley have skyrocketed and the whole city is full of thieves. As a solution, Yoon Kang gives out his stores of rice for all the peasants. Unfortunately, no matter how much he had taken away he can’t fulfill all the needs of the people.

Yoon Kang barges in on a meal between Won Shin, Hye Won, and Yamamoto. He decries Yamamoto’s business methods for buying up all the grain and leaving Joseon with none. Realizing that Yamamoto has no morals anymore, Yoon Kang then goes to Kim Ok Gyun to have him speak to the king. No more grains should leave the country, or else the people of Joseon will die.

When Kim Ok Gyun brings the matter up in court, VP Kim is against any government interference in business affairs. To interfere with international trade would mean bad relationships with other countries. The other reason would be that he, as a nobleman, would not be able to profit because he too has been hoarding grains and selling them at a high price. Emperor Gojong enlists the Prime Minister to look into the matter; we can now rest easy that the Prime Minister will look into it justly.

Kim Ok Gyun spots Soo In in the palace that day, and she declines the offer to work for him as a spy right then and there. So for now, Soo In will not put herself in harm’s way. She goes on her way and then sees Ho Kyung with his father. First it was a shock to learn that he’s the illegitimate son of VP Kim, now it hurts her deeply that he’s aligned himself with him (or so she thinks). Ho Kyung can’t tell her the true nature of his work but only hopes that she’ll believe in him.

Meanwhile Sang Chu spreads the rumor that the storage in Mapo Port will be giving out rice for free that night. What it really means is that Yoon Kang, as the Dark Gunman of the Full Moon, will break into the storage and leave the doors open for the peasants to take. Yoon Kang then proceeds to attack the boat at the port holding Yamamoto’s stores of grains, and gives it out to the people.

Yamamoto and Won Shin are outraged when they hear of this, and Kanemaru warns Yoon Kang that he’s on dangerous ground for stealing from Yamamoto’s goods. But he also admires Yoon Kang’s determination and consistency. Whee – I love that Kanemaru is totally on Yoon Kang’s side for all this.

Soo In hears stories of the Dark Gunman through Jan Yi and immediately meets with Yoon Kang. She drags him to the bookshop owner, who’s telling stories about him to the public, to show just how popular he is with the people. She’s kind of proud that he’s no longer all about revenge and is now helping people, but clearly she’s worried that his nighttime shenanigans are going to get him killed.

Yamamoto is waiting for Yoon Kang when he returns, wanting to confront him about the attack on his boat, and Kanemaru advises that he not reveal his identity as the Dark Gunman. Turns out Yamamoto wants Yoon Kang to catch the gunman for him. Yoon Kang will do no such thing to such a popular mythic figure who’s a hero to the people. And then… Yamamoto lets him go. He doesn’t put up a fight on why Yoon Kang won’t do his bidding!

That evening as he meets Won Shin for dinner, Won Shin asks, “Did you check?” Aha! It was all a trick to confirm Yoon Kang’s identity as the Dark Gunman. Yamamoto already has a way to deal with it, and he discreetly sends his men off to Yoon Kang’s home. Kanemaru notices this first and, concerned for his friend, leaves the dinner as well.

Gunmen arrive at Yoon Kang’s home and force him and Soo In outside. Je Mi and Sang Chu are already outside tied up. They only want Yoon Kang though, and lead him out. But just as they open the front gate Kanemaru is there. He shoots the first guy down, and then suddenly Yoon Kang takes the opportunity to disarm the other two. He kills them all, and everyone is safe again.

Yoon Kang is thankful for Kanemaru’s loyalty, especially since Kanemaru worked for Yamamoto first. Turns out Kanemaru knows of Yamamoto’s flip-flopping loyalties because a year ago, Kanemaru and Yoon Kang had saved Yamamoto’s life. However he currently has no regard for them or their opinions.

But it’s not over yet! Another one of Yamamoto’s men arrives with a rifle and aims for Yoon Kang. Kanemaru spots him first and protects Yoon Kang, taking the bullet himself. Yoon Kang quickly shoots the other man down, and then holds on to his friend as Kanemaru lets out his last dying breath.


Yamamoto is a tiny bit sad that he had to kill off Yoon Kang, but knows it’s for the better for his business. Imagine his surprise when he learns that Yoon Kang is standing outside of his home, alive. With bodies.

All the dead Japanese gunmen plus Kanemaru are laid out for Yamamoto to see. It’s now war with Yamamoto, and he orders the Japanese businessman to go back to Japan. Otherwise there will be hell to pay.

Oh Yoon Kang… You have so many wars to fight in now…

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