Pre-Recap Thoughts: This episode epitomizes what this drama does best: It showcases the strengths and weaknesses of each character and then illustrates how each character brings out the best and sometimes the worst in each other. And in a strange juxtaposition of events, as one couple reunites, another one separates, and one father finds his way back from the ramifications of betrayal only to have his only son walk down a similar path, only the path is darker and much more of a direct betrayal. Although I want to say that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” or “the sins of the father pass to the son,” I get the sense that the show’s not going to go down that route. We’ve come too far with these characters and seen their core “hearts” to easily accept that our once knight in shining armor and loyal friend will crack under pressure–no matter how extreme the “reprogramming”–and betray the monarchy in a way that his father never would.
And if all else fails, there’s always Hang Ah, who charges to Jae Ha’s rescue. Heh…gotta love the nontraditional image of a queen literally fighting to protect her king. I love it!
Recap: Hang Ah wanders into an empty restaurant and asks the couple there for some help. Unfortunately, the man reports her to the authorities who arrive before she can escape.
Once inside the interrogation room, Hang Ah is asked for her name, but when she tells them she’s Kim Hang Ah, the interrogator mocks her and pretends to not believe that she’s actually the same Kim Hang Ah who is engaged to the reigning king of South Korea.
Of course, it turns out that Bong Gu is working with the Chinese government and requesting that they hold her in prison for at least a month. He reminds them that as a “fugitive,” Hang Ah can be detained for that time period.
Instead of succumbing to depression or fear, however, Hang Ah uses the time in her cell to keep up her strength, exercising to make sure that she maintains her fighting condition. Gotta love her mental focus! But then again, she’s not an ex-special forces member for nothing!
As she surrenders to a moment of despair, she imagines Jae Ha is with her, holding her and comforting her, reminiscent of Jae Ha doing the same thing when he learned that Hang Ah had been kidnapped.
But when he disappears and reminds her that he was simply a figment of her imagination, the loss seems more real and aching.
Meanwhile, Jae Ha shows that he and Hang Ah are one in spirit by thinking of her–how can he not?–and collects his still tumultuous emotions to rationally plan a way to get Hang Ah back.
His plan? Internationally indict Bong Gu with the ICC so that China has no choice but to oust him from its borders and the rest of the world know what a heinous piece of human flesh Bong Gu really is.
While Jae Ha and his team research ICC laws, Shi Kyung goes to see his father, this time with a smile and reconciliation in mind.
As they talk, Secretary Eun reminds Shi Kyung that starting is half the battle, and Shi Kyung tells his father that he can now be independent of his father. In the past, because he always felt as though he couldn’t live up to his father or his expectations, he was never comfortable around him. But now that this has happened, Shi Kyung feels relieved and comfortable with his father. Aw…Reminding his father that he is his own person, Shi Kyung asks him not to blame himself if he discovers that Shi Kyung has done something wrong. The two men continue to fish, and the fishing metaphor here is not lost on this reader: the catching must be done individually, regardless of who is around you. Uh-oh…Shi Kyung’s going to go catch Bong Gu on his own?
Dong Ha interrupts Jae Ha in the middle of preparing his Bong Gu charge for the ICC with news that Shi Kyung is attempting to go to China.
Plans foiled by Jae Ha! Heh…unfortunately, Shi Kyung asks why he can’t use his vacation time. When his request is denied, he tenders his resignation. However, his second attempt is foiled when he learns that he’s been barred from even leaving the country. Heh…gotta love Jae Ha pulling royal rank.
Incensed, Shi Kyung storms over to Jae Ha’s office but is denied access to the king. Whatever he has to say to the king can be said through closed doors. LOL. Who knew Jae Ha would play this game?
Undeterred, Shi Kyung explains why he needs to leave, but when Jae Ha remains silent, Shi Kyung drops the honorific form of speech and addresses him in banmal (casual speech), calling him Lee Jae Ha. Hitting him right where it hurts, Shi Kyung yells through the door that Jae Ha might be afraid to lose him now that Hang Ah’s gone, but that shouldn’t be a problem because he is not Jae Ha’s friend. Aw…Shi Kyung, do you really have to go there?
Of course, the switch to banmal does the trick, and Jae Ha comes out menacingly. He asks, “Lee. Jae. Ha?” to which Shi Kyung gulps and counters, “Arent’ we friends?”
Now face-to-face, Shi Kyung promises him that he’ll return, a subtle reminder that he won’t allow Jae Ha to lose another of his “people.”
With that cleared away, the two men start their research and plan on how best to insert Shi Kyung into Bong Gu’s camp.
Nearing the conclusion of their planning, Shi Kyung asks Jae Ha if he can spend some time with Jae Shin, not as a soldier or as a person but as a man, and to have permission to do as he wishes. Jae Ha makes a crack about how Shi Kyung hasn’t done anything with his sister yet (I love these two guys helping each other in their respective love lives! They’re going to make some awesome brothers-in-law) and coolly arranges for Jae Shin to be wheeled out to a garden with a 2km-radius in place with only Shi Kyung allowed entrance into that said radius. Jae Ha’s look of go-ahead-do-what-you-want-with-my-kid-sister is priceless! With Jae Ha’s clearance, Shi Kyung becomes visibly nervous. LOL. Finally, we get to see this man of action actually do something in the romance department. LOL
When Jae Shin sees Shi Kyung for the first time since her memories returned, she asks tentatively if he’s heard. “Aren’t my memories monstrous?” Shi Kyung praises her for her bravery and tells her that she’s an admirable woman. Aw…she’s been trying so hard to become a woman worthy of him, and he’s just told her she already is. He then shares with her his shock and guilt over learning of his father’s role in disclosing her brother’s vacation location, but he tells her that he’s decided not to blame himself because he is his own person. Likewise, she shouldn’t blame herself because those actions were orchestrated by others, not her.
In the quiet and beauty of the garden, Shi Kyung and Jae Shin take a “walk,” with Shi Kyung giving Jae Shin a piggy-back ride. He tenderly tells her that he’ll be going on a vacation and won’t be around for a while. When she asks where he’s going, he neatly sidesteps the issue and instead gives her some homework to do while he’s away: 1) say “It’s not my fault” 100 times every day. She tells him to do the same. 2) laugh three times a day even if she has to pretend 3) continue with her physical and psychiatric treatments 4) practice appearing in public 5) start her singing again. Aw…
She bashfully pecks him on the cheek and asks him “What else?”
Reacting to her timid advance, Shi Kyung leans in and kisses her fully on the lips. Hurrah! But his conservative self rears its head soon enough, and he backs/stumbles away, apologizing to her. Jae Shin’s response? “For what?” Aw…Visibly shaken by the kiss, Shi Kyung speedily walks Jae Shin’s wheelchair back to the palace. Heh…I wonder if this was Shi Kyung’s first kiss.
Jae Ha goes to see Secretary Eun and asks him to return to the palace. After all that’s passed between them, the two men have gone beyond their former relationship. Secretary Eun now respects Jae Ha as a capable and good monarch while Jae Ha is now at a place where he can forgive Secretary Eun and ask him to serve him the way he served his brother…by his side, only he won’t be able to offer him his old salary since the royal coffers aren’t what they used to be. Heh. He then tells him of Shi Kyung’s mission and how he didn’t put up much resistance when Shi Kyung suggested himself for the mission because he had wanted to send him but couldn’t get himself to ask Shi Kyung himself. He admits that he was a bit relieved when Shi Kyung insisted on going.
Before agreeing to resume his position, Secretary Eun says he has to apologize to someone: the queen mother. As he humbly apologizes to the woman whose eldest son and daughter-in-law’s deaths he unwittingly aided, the queen mother simply asks him what Jae Kang was like that last day.
Reminding Secretary Eun that he was the last to see her son alive and one of the first to appear at the death scene, she asks what expression her son had. Knowing her heart as a mother, Secretary Eun tells her that Jae Kang looked relaxed and happy–all smiles that last day–and equally relaxed and happy when he arrived on the scene. Aw…at least the queen mother knows her son died peacefully and in good spirits.
As Jae Ha mentally braces himself for the next phase of his plan against Bong Gu, he speaks to his brother’s portrait, starting with his password, “Are you happy?” When the recorder clicks on, Jae Ha remembers something…Thank goodness for the man’s super IQ and memory!
Jae Ha calls Shi Kyung before Shi Kyung’s departure to tell him of the video evidence. While Jae Ha prosecutes Bong Gu through diplomatic and legal channels, Shi Kyung’s mission to capture him still remains imperative.
Marching through the hallowed halls of his ancestors’ portraits, Jae Ha reasserts the power of the monarchy and the authority of his long line of monarchs. Holding a national and “international” press conference, King Jae Ha stands before the reporters and announces that he now has evidence against the killer of Korea’s former King Lee Jae Kang and plans to prosecute him before the ICC.
Meanwhile, Bong Gu watches from his hiding place in China as Jae Ha implicates him via video taping for the murder of Korea’s former king. As the video tape plays, the world sees just how crazy Bong Gu is for killing the former king, not because Bong Gu objected to the WOC or the reunification of North and South Korea, but because Jae Kang barred him from entering Korea.
Jae Ha articulates that the king represents the people of his country, and that when John Meyer of Club M coldly murdered the king of Korea, he in essence murdered the 50 million Korean citizens. and he intends to bring John Meyer to justice for the heinous crime against the PEOPLE of Korea, his PEOPLE.
Bong Gu’s move after this international revelation? Knowing that China will no longer be able to help him, he tells them to transfer Hang Ah tomorrow while he goes into hiding. And when his right-hand man is caught planning a coup against him, Bong Gu has Bon-Bon kill him as well as investigate “Miller” as an accomplice.
As his crew of killers watch the traitor drown in the pool, Shi Kyung infiltrates the compound while Dong Ha watches from the perimeter.
Unfortunately, he sneaks in during the drowning and is quickly caught by Bong Gu’s psycho assassin.
Caught, Shi Kyung tells Bong Gu to kill him now. Bong Gu’s response? He tells his minions to “treat him well….”
Dong Ha calls Jae Ha to report that Shi Kyung has successfully entered the compound. Both men sigh and anxiously await for further word from Shi Kyung now, fully aware of what the next few days will mean for our valiant knight in shining armor.
Torture. And as Shi Kyung undergoes various means of torture, he recalls Jae Ha’s warning to not give in so quickly; otherwise, the opposition will suspect something. Instead, he tells Shi Kyung to hold out until he feels as though he’s about to go crazy. Only then will the enemy believe him.
Meanwhile, in another part of China, Hang Ah receives some medical treatment for her arm and forcefully takes the cell phone from the doctor to call Jae Ha.
Thankfully, Jae Ha answers the phone while he’s in a meeting with Secretary Eun and learns from Hang Ah that she’s being held at the Tumen Prison before she is overcome by the guards. Jae Ha quickly orders the troops to the prison and tries to get Hang Ah back on the phone but to no avail. Ugh…the panic and fear he must be feeling.
In a show of what is to come if North and South ever reunite, Jae Ha arrives in China under the protection of both North and South Korean soldiers…clearly peeved.
Inside the prison, the guards plan to transfer Hang Ah before she is discovered and rescued.
As the Chinese warden of the prison “welcomes” Jae Ha, King Jae Ha throws his full weight as a reigning monarch around and declines the invitation to come inside where it is more comfortable. Jae Ha wants to see with his very own eyes just how well the Chinese have been treating his fiance and future queen. In clenched teeth, he orders his men to search the premise…from top to bottom.
As the warden stalls for time, the other guards attempt to transfer Hang Ah out of the prison to an undisclosed location. Hearing Jae Ha’s men searching for her, she yells out to him, “Comrade Lee Jae Ha!” Aw…I really love how it’s like a term of endearment.
Her man hears his name and races inside a building further away from the prison his men are currently searching.
As she’s being carted away, her eyes lock with his…and she attempts to free herself from her guards…
…only to be shot from behind as Jae Ha watches in horror.
Racing upstairs–in slow motion, no less–he cradles her in his arms, relieved when she stirs awake from her fall. Her wound? Only a shot to the leg; she’ll survive. Thank goodness! I was fearing another case of paralysis here after what looked like a shot to the back. Thank goodness that one of the Chinese soldiers had the wisdom to try to deflect the gunshot.
Overwhelmed by relief to find her alive and relatively well, Jae Ha holds her tightly in his arms. *Happy sigh* She reassures him that she’s all right with her characteristic, “There’s nothing amiss.”
Back at Bong Gu’s compound, though, all is definitely not well for Shi Kyung has he undergoes torture.
As Bong Gu is left with no “people” on his side, he goes to “save” Shi Kyung from the torture, slapping Bon-Bon for good measure for not treating Shi Kyung “well” as he asked, and offers Shi Kyung a proposition:
Come join him and pretend to play the mole that he came here to play. Bong Gu tells him that he needs just one decent guy like Shi Kyung in his camp. Um yeah, a traitor would constitute as a “decent” guy. At Shi Kyung’s hesitation–because no good soldier would readily accept such an offer to betray his king and certainly not this soldier–Bong Gu gives Bon-Bon permission to “convince” him. Shi Kyung has until noon tomorrow to make his decision.
Meanwhile, Hang Ah wakes up in a state of panic and urgency, urging her father to call Jae Ha because they have to capture Bong Gu. He is a monster that can’t be allowed to roam free. They’ll never be able to live in peace while Bong Gu is free. I love that despite having gone through such trauma, she’s still a woman of action who won’t rest until the threat is neutralized.
Jae Ha enters the room and tries to calm Hang Ah down.
Holding her tightly in his arms to reinforce the reality that she is now safe in his arms, he apologizes for not being able to protect her. Whether from exhaustion and fear or from frustration that Bong Gu isn’t being immediately apprehended, she weeps in his arms.
With his fiance resting, Jae Ha and Hang Ah’s father meet with the Chinese diplomat and threaten repercussions unless the Chinese aid in helping them find Bong Gu and bring him to justice. Jae Ha wants China’s permission to bring in his troops.
In a disturbing visual reminder of his infantile mental development, Bong Gu sits in a “kid’s” room with toys and all as he teleconferences with the Chinese diplomat, who refuses to aid Bong Gu anymore.
Jae Ha fills Hang Ah in on Shi Kyung’s mission, and she expresses her concerns.
Meanwhile, Shi Kyung’s torture is now “freely” administered with Bong Gu’s permission.
Finally “broken,” (Bong Gu treats humans like toys, without a care for whether he breaks them or not) Shi Kyung calls Jae Ha with news that he knows of Bong Gu’s whereabouts. Indicating that perhaps Bong Gu hasn’t been able to fully break Shi Kyung, Shi Kyung’s eyes widen at the mention that Hang Ah is now safe. However, the mission to capture Bong Gu must proceed, so Shi Kyung gives Jae Ha the latitude and longitude of a false location and convinces Jae Ha to come meet him himself.
With the phone call concluded, Bong Gu congratulates Shi Kyung.
Jae Ha tells Hang Ah of the development, and when she wants to accompany him, he refuses. He tells her that he’ll see her back safe and sound in South Korea.
With Hang Ah safely en route back to South Korea, Jae Ha meets Shi Kyung, who is not only under visual surveillance but also under gun surveillance. He convinces Jae Ha to come with him and send his secret service to the false location because the troops there are going to need every single hand they can get; Bong Gu has a lot of men and heavy artillery.
Completely trusting Shi Kyung, despite his noticeably “off” behavior, Jae Ha sends his men away and accompanies Shi Kyung alone. Uh-oh….
Hang Ah’s intuition as a woman and as a soldier go into full alert mode, and she orders the car to turn around. Something is amiss, and she needs to help Jae Ha.
And just as Hang Ah suspects, Jae Ha is in danger…
…as he not only comes face-to-face with Bong Gu…
…but also with Shi Kyung’s gun and what looks like Shi Kyung’s betrayal.
Post-Recap Thoughts: I love that the show echoes themes and scenes from earlier episodes. Specifically, Hang Ah dreams of Jae Ha in the same way that Jae Ha dreamed of her when he learned that she and his mother had been kidnapped. This reciprocal dreaming of the other testifies to their bond as a couple, which is heartwarming.
With Shi Kyung, the concept of FAITH is once again being tested here. From the beginning of this series, faith in one another has been a recurring theme as each member of the WOC’s faith in each other was tested. The cliffhanger–and what a cliffhanger it is–epitomizes the ultimate test of faith. Can Jae Ha still trust Shi Kyung despite the obvious visible clues that his one friend and potential brother-in-law has been “reprogrammed” to kill him? Personally, I think Shi Kyung will successfully complete his mission and help Jae Ha capture Bong Gu. Otherwise, I will be one very unhappy little twinkie. The good thing is that since my recapping schedule was delayed, I only have 1 day before I find out how episode 19 extricates our hero and his faithful sidekick from the mad clutches of this psychic child we called Bong Gu. Stay tuned!