Pre-Recap Thoughts: So I finally gathered up enough courage to watch the “dreaded,” emotionally taxing episode 7. Who knew that I could be such a coward? What happened to my courageous, face-the-problem-head-on attitude?
Umm…it vaporized the moment you fast-forwarded to the end to sneak a peek at the episode and saw the guards kneel before Jae Ha. Heh.
I was just busy and didn’t have time to watch/recap!
Yeah, like that’s ever stopped you before! This will teach you to stop taking sneak peeks!
*Sigh*…let’s just say that the emotional roller-coaster of not only the tragic episode but also the psychological hurdle I had to leap over to get myself to watch (and recap) this episode has taken its toll.
The consequence? I’ve started talking to myself. >.<
Recap: The episode opens with the king and Hang Ah’s father interrupting the intimate moment between the two lovebirds. The two father figures divide and conquer, Jae Kang going to meet with Hang Ah while Mr. Kim speaks with Jae Ha, who paces in agony and embarrassment over the situation. LOL. Smart tactical strategy, and I love the way Jae Ha squats by the couch, muttering, “How embarrassing!” LOL
Jae Kang asks Hang Ah if she loves “our” Jae Ha, and at her bashfulness, he thanks her: “Thank you, Miss Kim Hang Ah…And…I’m really sorry. You’ve been through a lot because of Jae Ha, haven’t you?
Hang Ah denies that Jae Ha caused her any grief. Aw…such a loyal wife-to-be.
He continues, “When you get engaged, things will become much harder. In much the same way that your country assumes it knows us when it doesn’t, we’re that way, too. And so the country will assume things about you, misunderstand you, and back you into a corner. Will you be all right?
“How about if I share some of that burden with you?…until you get accustomed to the situation?…until Jae Ha comes to his senses? How about I operate standing behind you? You know, I’m king. I’m pretty strong. I would make the perfect shield.”
Touched, Hang Ah asks, “Will it be all right that it’s me?” The king replies, “It’s because it is you that all will be all right.” Aw…How awesomely sweet is Jae Kang?! He always has the perfect things to say…unlike his younger brother who often seems to operate with his proverbial foot in his mouth. LOL
Meanwhile, Hang Ah’s father demands to know if Jae Ha even loves Hang Ah. Jae Ha stutters and starts to say that it was because they had too much alcohol to drink. Frustrated, the father asks if the prince will kiss any woman if he’s under the influence of alcohol. At Jae Ha’s silence, he declares that he will return to the North and report this fact about the South’s prince. At this, Jae Ha falls to his knees and clings to his future father-in-law’s leg, denying that that is the case. Heh…It’s so cute watching Jae Ha squirm.
The next morning, a huge banner is unfurled, formally announcing the engagement of Prince Lee Jae Ha to Miss Kim Hang Ah, and the entire country is atwitter with people selling merchandise of the couple and politicians/commentators weighing in on the event with their analyses. (Think Great Britain’s William and Kate’s engagement announcement). Hang Ah’s father watches as even various television shows broadcast the predictions of fortune tellers, one who reports that the two are well suited while another reports that their union can never and should never be. With a heavy heart, he prepares to return to the North and goes to see Jae Ha.
Once there, he bows before Jae Ha, causing Jae Ha to dismiss his guards and, at a loss for what to do, tries unsuccessfully to get his future father-in-law to stand up from his humbled position on the floor. However, the father simply proceeds to address Jae Ha formally as Prince Jae Ha–admitting that he’s uncertain if he’s even addressing Jae Ha by the proper title–and tells Jae Ha about Hang Ah and how she grew up without a mother, caring for her father with her tiny little hands and even being cute around him with aegyo (feminine cuteness). He vouches for Hang Ah, that she will learn the ways of the South well and do whatever she is taught. In full realization of what the father is telling him, Jae Ha accepts the second bow, aware of the distance that father is acknowledging between royalty and a commoner.
As the father leaves, Hang Ah looks on from her bedroom window, her last glimpse of her father as he tacitly waves a brief goodbye. She rereads her father’s text message to her that advises she follows the ways of the South now because she is a South Korean now. She whispers her apologies to her father, her separation oddly reminiscent of the olden days when brides would rarely see their families but even more significant in her case because she really can’t go to see her father anymore without causing major political waves.
The queen mother watches celebrities from High Kick 3 wish the new couple well on their engagement (LOL) and then sits down to eat with her family. As this is Hang Ah’s first meal with the family, the queen mother asks if the food is to Hang Ah’s liking, and Hang Ah replies demurely that it is. Jae Kang, in an attempt to lighten the mood, mentions that the rice has a pleasant fragrance because tonight’s rice was cooked with some precious herbs that Hang Ah’s family sent over. Without thought, the queen mother comments that her family needn’t go to such lengths in the future since they don’t have that much money, a comment that causes Jae Kang and his wife, Jae Shin, and Hang Ah some discomfort. The only person unaffected by this awkward statement is Jae Ha, who fuels the awkwardness by agreeing with his mother and asking Hang Ah about the shiny, “bling bling” refrigerators he sent over. Jae Kang attempts to stop Jae Ha from talking with his proverbial foot in his mouth (Jae Ha’s flashing hand motions are hilariously rude!) by nudging him from under the table, but even that adds to the awkwardness as Jae Ha tells his brother to stop. Oh, Jae Ha…what are we to do with you?
The mother tries to smooth things over by asking about Hang Ah’s last name; from what branch of the Kim lineage does she hail? At this mention, Jae Kang gently reminds his mother that the North don’t keep track of things like that, and Hang Ah adds that the country felt that it was burdensome to label some people as commoners/peasants while others as part of the aristocracy/nobility. She does clarify that they observe the tradition of respecting their decreased ancestors with rituals. When she tries to further lighten the mood by saying that the North don’t engage in some of the more “barbaric” things as the South think, Jae Ha asks if it’s just a matter of semantics since the North actually do some of those things. *Sigh* Jae Ha…The daggered look that Hang Ah throws at him is telling enough, and Jae Ha deflects by dramatically asking his mother if Hang Ah doesn’t scare her because she certainly scares him sometimes. LOL As the mother covers up her shock and tells the family that her future daughter-in-law doesn’t scare her, Hang Ah proceeds to compliment her mother-in-law and elaborates on how much Hang Ah admires the mother, how beautiful she is, and how “petty” her personality is. At this misuse of the term (jjeh jjeh) which means bright and cheerful in the North but petty in the South, all conversation comes to an abrupt halt. Jae Ha asks incredulously how she could possibly think his mother is jjeh jjeh, and Hang Ah asks what’s wrong with calling her bright and cheerful. O-M-G! Talk about communication issues…totally relatable with the various versions of English that are used around the globe. At this clarification, the entire family chuckles…including one member of the staff.
After dinner, the queen mother takes the head staffer to task and cautions her to have her staff behave with decorum and warmth around Hang Ah since Hang Ah must be so lonely here. Aw…the queen mother is concerned that Hang Ah might feel ridiculed. The head staffer apologizes and tells the queen mother that the staff member has already been moved to another post due to her careless actions.
The next morning, Hang Ah begins her lessons on the ways of the South. Her first lesson? The banking system. And it looks like KEB Bank in Korea is obviously a big sponsor of this series with their company’s logo featuring prominently in the background of this scene. Heh…corporate sponsorship. Since Hang Ah is completely unfamiliar with the concept of a bank or even the currency used in South Korea, the banker starts her lessons from the beginning.
Their lesson is interrupted by the queen mother who comes to encourage her and comments that Hang Ah seems like a high school senior studying so hard as she is. When Hang Ah makes a another comment that sounds a bit “funny” to the queen mother, the queen mother advises that if Hang Ah thinks she might make a mistake, a tactic she may adopt is to simply remain silent. At this piece of advice, Hang Ah is stumped as she asks if the queen mother wants her to stay silent all the time. Both women misunderstand each other, and the queen mother just tells Hang Ah to carry on as she was and leaves her to her studies.
Meanwhile, Jae Shin meets up with her friends at a local bar and leaves because of the dampening effect her royal guards are having on her friends. Frustrated and unwilling to go home yet, she suggests to Shi Kyung that they race to the top of a hill at the count of three. Of course, she takes off at 2…only to struggle up the hill with Shi Kyung already waiting for her despite her cheating start.
She invites him to sit on the ledge with her and watch for shooting stars. Heh…I love how the simple act of sitting on the wall becomes an “event” with these two. 🙂 As Jae Shin sees a star fall, she urges Shi Kyung to quickly make a wish, but when he starts to tell her that wishing upon a falling star is a superstition, she grouchily counters that of course she knows it’s a superstition but that he should at least match the mood. Then, as she closes her eyes tightly shut to make her wish, her hands folded together in a prayer, he glances over at her tenderly, taking in the image. But before he can delve too long on the moment, she opens her eyes and asks jokingly if he wished for world peace and the safety of Korea. At his startled look, she dryly comments, “Really? You really wished for that?” As she teases him about the sappiness of his wish, he surprises her with his earnestness. As a soldier, why shouldn’t he wish for such a thing when she, as a singer, wishes for the success of the secret album she plans to release. He asks if that is so odd. At her attempt to lighten the mood, he asks if she mocks the dedication and mentality of the soldiers. People like her can live in peace and safety because of the dedication of soldiers like him.
Realizing how he’s misunderstood her teasing and wanting to apologize to him, she offers to sing him a song, a song that no one has heard (Aw…he’s the first to hear it then!) as a form of apology since words seem insufficient to convey her apologies. And then as she sings in a clear, beautiful soprano voice about a first love, he watches her, mesmerized by her…and her song.
Meanwhile, Secretary Eun meets with a foreigner, Daniel Craig, who regularly makes generous donations to the royal family. When he asks for the location of the king’s vacation, Secretary Eun tells him courteously yet stiffly that the location is strictly confidential and that not even the staff are aware of it. At this, the foreigner expresses complete understanding as he mentions that he just wanted to know of a nice place where he could vacation while in Korea. (Ugh…such bad acting from the actor portraying the foreigner)
When Secretary Eun returns to his office, he finds a wrapped gift of a rare Beatles album, a passion the two men share. Expressing his gratitude but his regret that he cannot accept such an extravagant gift , Secretary Eun calls Daniel Craig, who gets upset and demands to know if it’s so wrong to give gifts between friends. He donates to the royal family because of his love for the Korean culture in much the same way that Secretary Eun loves the Beatles and his country. Sufficiently abashed, Secretary Eun apologizes and accepts the gift. Feeling as though he needs to make amends for the insult he unknowingly gave Daniel Craig, Secretary Eun suggests Craig vacation in Anmyongdo. Oh no…you so did not fall for the trap, Secretary Eun! *Whimper* The satisfied look on Daniel Craig bodes ill for the royal family.
The scene cuts to John Meyer who examines gruesome photos of murdered people and comments that there are over 100 ways to kill someone. He then suggests to his equally sociopathic girlfriend that he has a new project for her. Ugh…so the pictures are of her handiwork. *Shudder*
At Anmyongdo, Secretary Eun and Shi Kyung finalize all matters before announcing to the king and queen that the villa has been secured for their vacation. The king jokes about CCTVs being installed in the villa before he and the queen enter the house for a time of love and relaxation.
Back at the palace, the queen mother is disturbed to learn that the recently demoted staff member has posted a “scandalous” Internet post, criticizing the royal family for removing her from her post because of a simple giggle and derisively commenting about Hang Ah being North Korean. Protectively, the queen mother quickly erases the post and then calls Hang Ah. Summoned by her future mother-in-law, Hang Ah takes in a deep, steadying breath before she walks boldly into the lioness’ den (poor little thing…she doesn’t yet realize that the mother is on her side). As the queen mother cautions her about remaining vigilant about the words she says, Hang Ah cautiously admits to her that although she’s trying her best to fit in as an individual, she feels as though she as a duty to represent the North in some small way. At this, the queen mother tells her that she herself was a commoner who lowered herself when she entered the palace; as a North Korean, Hang Ah needs to prostrate herself as the critical eyes analyzing every single one of her actions and words will be even more vicious and biting. Stunned by the statement, Hang Ah asks if being North Korean is really that bad a thing.
Their tete-a-tete is interrupted by Jae Ha who takes a break from whatever it was he was doing to see what Hang Ah is doing with his mother. At his sudden appearance, the mother dismisses Hang Ah and then warns Jae Ha not to pester Hang Ah about what she and Hang Ah were discussing; his future bride is doing fine. Aw…I love this mother! Even though she sometimes says things that offend Hang Ah, she’s ultimately trying to protect Hang Ah. And even Jae Ha, who always tries his best to irritate Hang Ah subconsciously shows his support through body language–he’s standing by her side. Aw….
Although he promises his mother not to bother Hang Ah, Jae Ha ambles over to her quarters and tries to gain access, only to be barred by the head of staff. He lightly threatens that he’s a champion at holding grudges, but even at that, the head staffer politely denies him access to his fiance, telling him that he can see her in about 2 hours.
As Jae Ha dejectedly walks out of the building, Jae Shin calls him from Anmyongdo where she and her band performed and suggests that he and Hang Ah join her in surprising their big brother and sister-in-law at the villa. Still cranky from being barred from seeing Hang Ah, Jae Ha tells her that he can’t even see his fiance much less go on a frivolous trip with Jae Shin; he sternly tells her to stay away since the king and queen are finally on a private vacation trying to conceive the next heir to the throne. Nonplussed, Jae Shin petulantly tries to defend herself by saying that she only wants a quick dinner; she certainly doesn’t plan on sleeping between them. LOL And as she converses with her brother, she barters with an elderly woman for ALL of her vegetables. When the grandmother asks for $10, she complains that “It’s too much” and the proceeds to give the grandmother $30! Aw…I love Jae Shin!
No longer having any patience, Jae Ha hangs up, and Jae Shin then calls Shi Kyung, who is strategizing safety perimeters and such. When he answers, however, Jae Shin pretends that she’s being attacked. Shi Kyung calmly asks what he can do for her. Ha! He totally knows her. LOL. She invites him up for a dinner with the king and queen, boasting that her sister-in-law is a great cook and that this incredible and once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the king could do wonders for his career. Asking when dinner will start, Shi Kyung tells her that he will show up in time to provide her escort, a cryptic comment that makes her wonder if he’s going to be joining her for dinner or helping her home.
Meanwhile, Meyer’s underlings drive up to the gated road and ask for directions. The driver then good-naturedly offers his gloved hand for a handshake, and the unwitting soldier shakes it. Oh no…why? The evil minions produce a replica of the fingerprint from the glove, discover through a database search that the guard is part of the royal guards, infiltrate the villa by hiking on foot, seal all windows and other crevices like the chimney, enter the villa, and drop a mound of carbon monoxide in the furnace…all while the guards are unaware and the royal couple are taking an idyllic stroll by the beach.
Unfortunately, Jae Shin chooses this moment to drive up with her bag of groceries, and those villains–never ones to lose an opportunity–forcibly take her and the car out of sight. When the king and queen return to the villa, they see the groceries bags and assume that Jae Shin, the only one who would select that particular bottle of wine, merely came to drop off some “romantic” food for them.
At the security station, Shi Kyung glances at the clock and notices that Jae Shin hasn’t called him, and it’s past 7pm.
And at the palace? Hang Ah stumbles wearily into her bedroom, happy to see Jae Ha waiting for her. However, that happiness is soon replaced by wounded pride and anger as Jae Ha asks her what she and his mother discussed earlier that day. Oh no, Jae Ha…please don’t tell me you’re doing exactly what your mother told you not to do. 🙁 One thing leads to another, and Jae Ha’s big mouth gets him into trouble with Hang Ah when he tells her that since she and her country are so poor, they shouldn’t be so proud. Hurt, Hang Ah retaliates by saying that’s all she has since she is “so poor.” She asks if he truly believes that the South Koreans will applaud her if she shows humility. They would probably comment that she’s humble because she’s so poor and doesn’t even have enough backbone to have some dignity and pride. Either way, she won’t be able to appease their critical hearts. Knowing that he’s made a mistake, Jae Ha tries to apologize but then gets equally hurt and angry when Hang Ah flings his hand from hers. Exchanging a volatile look with her, he storms out of the room and tries to return to apologize but can’t seem to muster the courage to do so. Leaning against the closed door, he mutters to himself, “Why am I such a low-life?”
While Jae Ha beats himself up for his insensitive remark, Hang Ah is inside her bedroom, ranting and raving to her father over the phone. She demands that her father immediately send her a car so that she can return to the North. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with the South, a country and people that only care for money, money, and more money. As she vents, an automated operator speaks into the phone, telling her that she has dialed an invalid number. Aw…Hang Ah was simply venting to a dead line…just to vent. Poor little thing.
As she hangs her head in defeat, the phone rings, and she meekly answers the call, telling the caller that she’ll be right out to resume her training. Aw…the contrast of her two voices is so sad to hear. 🙁 She feels like she has no one on her side. However, the voice on the other line is not a staffer but the king himself who warmly asks after her, calling her sister-in-law. Aw…Bowing low even though he can’t see her, Hang Ah tells him that everyone is treating her well. The king cautiously asks/confirms with her that Jae Ha is now treating her well, too, and Hang Ah tells him yes. Oh, she’s such a sweet fiance and sister-in-law to not want to criticize her future husband or worry the king.
After his call with Hang Ah, Jae Kang calls Jae Ha, who is en route to a black-tie event. He tells Jae Ha that he really likes his little brother, and Jae Ha becomes irritated that his brother is all happiness while he’s miserable after having fought with Hang Ah. Jae Kang advises Jae Ha to “Open your heart wide, and the doors of paradise will swing open wide…and the rest of the world, too.” Exasperated, Jae Ha hangs up on his brother and then erases the text message Jae Kang sends him soon after.
At the villa, Jae Kang waits anxiously for a reply to his text. Aw…His wife reminds him to reflect back on what they were like during the first part of their marriage, fighting over the littlest things. Jae Kang agrees and says that it would be a bit odd if there wasn’t any fighting since the North and South are unifying. Heh…I love how the show subtly reminds the viewers that Jae Ha and Hang Ah still represent countries as well as individuals.
As his wife soothes his brow and laments how her poor husband works so hard yet doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, Jae Kang reflects on how he’s made it this far…somehow, especially when the crumbling of the Berlin Wall seems as though it just happened yesterday. He shares with her his hopes for the future and the two speculate on what their bright future will be like, their children playing with Jae Ha and Hang Ah’s children. Jae Kang points out that their child will lose to Jae Ha’s because both parents are so strong-willed. Heh. Getting drowsier by the minute, both the king and queen fall asleep, unaware that they are being poisoned to death by the fire’s fumes. *whimper* I suppose I’m glad that the show gave them a peaceful death, but still….
The wine glass falls silently to the floor, symbolically signifying the death of the royal couple.
Meanwhile, Jae Shin faces her own life-or-death situation as the evil minions arrange a “boring” car accident. Meyer’s girlfriend suggests Jae Shin take a pill to “help” with the fear and pain of the accident, and Jae Shin bravely asks, “What about a jump over the cliff?” and then jumps off before they can stop her.
Shortly after she falls, Shi Kyung drives up towards the villa and sees her crumpled form below the cliffs. Realizing that Jae Shin is seriously hurt–even possibly dead–he races to the car to call for help.
Scene cuts to the royal guards discovering the king and queen dead. Secretary Eun interrupts Jae Ha’s light-hearted speech at the formal affair to announce that the king is dead and that he is now king. This announcement causes everyone present to fall to their knees and bow to the new king.
As the car races to the hospital, Secretary Eun fills Jae Ha on the list of pressing matters he needs to attend to. Unable to bear hearing anything more, Jae Ha commands that the car be stopped. NOW!
Then stepping out of the car, he takes a “solitary” and much-needed moment to calm his tumultuous emotions–his shaking hands the only visible indication of his extreme shock–and readjust his thinking to assume the role of king. He turns to Secretary Eun and re-prioritizes the list of events, telling Secretary Eun that they’ll first go to the hospital to see the queen mother, who at that very moment is being told by the head staffer that although the surgery was successful, Princess Jae Shin is–
The queen cuts her off before she can finish, telling the loyal aide that she already knows the prognosis, “Jae Shin’s legs…” she trails off, unable to verbalize her daughter’s cruel fate. She then waits for Jae Ha to arrive, relieved to see at least one of her children safe and in good health.
As Jae Ha arrives at the hospital, he takes a moment to prepare himself before entering to greet his mother. However, before he can say anything other than “Mom,” she rebukes him for his attire. She forcibly reminds him that he is now king and that he should have changed into mourning clothes first before doing anything else, no matter how chaotic the situation may be. Wisely Secretary Eun motions for the door to be closed, giving the mother and son the necessary privacy.
And as soon as the door closes, the queen mother weakly totters to her son for support and utters these heart-wrenching words in the honorific form used when addressing a reigning king: “Now, You must have Your wits about You. If We fall, everything will crumble. The two of Us must do it. I shall take care of everything within the palace, and You, Your majesty, shall take care of everything outside of the palace gates. Only in this way will Our royal family live and Jae Kang…*breaks down and voice cracks*…the deceased king shine brightly. So Your Majesty, please….Then overwhelmed by her grief, she collapses into the strong arms of her sole remaining son, who now assumes the mantle of a throne he never ever desired and instead actively avoided.
Post-Recap Thoughts: From the title, we all knew that this was bound to happen…once we took the time to really think about the title. It was simply a matter of the when, where, and how. We knew that the M Society was out for Jae Kang’s blood, but I never in my imagination expected the scope of their malignancy to reach even Jae Shin.
And what a gutsy woman she is! How many of us could willing jump over a cliff, having calculated the chances of survival and discovery? I still get shivers just thinking about what she did. Talk about bravery to “die” under her own terms.
As for Jae Ha…Lee Seung Gi portrays the playboy prince forced to assume the heavy mantle of king beautifully. I especially appreciated his “solitary” moment alone on the bridge so that he could process the news and gain some perspective. The poignancy of that moment…*sigh*…heartwrenching.
The plus sides, if these can be called positives are that 1) the king and queen died rather peacefully. Knowing John Meyer, he could have orchestrated a painful murder/assassination. 2) Because only Jae Shin went up to the lodge, Jae Ha and Hang Ah are in perfect health to carry on the royal business and be that anchor for the rest of the family and country.
My hope is that Jae Ha, who is smarter than his big brother and infinitely smarter than that psychotic John Meyer, will be ready to outwit the sociopath at his diabolical game.
Long live King Lee Jae Ha!
As for our beloved and deceased king…Lee. Jae. Kang. *Whimper* I really loved this character and was hoping for more adorable Lee trio antics. Although I suspected his death because of the title of the series, I was hoping that the writer would kill him off at least past the midway point, say episode 9 or 10? This “premature” death at episode 7 has boggled my mind a bit. Darn the writers for following the classic trajectory of the hero’s journey. Why can’t Lee Jae Ha accomplish his full potential with his mentor still alive? *Sigh* Lee Jae Kang, you were a great king; may your legacy shine brightly as you hoped as your protegé does you proud.
It shall be interesting to see how our playboy, goofball prince transforms–literally overnight–to assume the throne as Korea’s next monarch. Stay tuned for ep. 8 recap, which will hopefully get done before Wednesday. Hope you enjoyed the recap!