Open Thread: Chuno Episodes 9 & 10

A belated Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! I’ve missed you all, I hope you guys had a lovely time of festivities with friends and family. ❤️

Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:

1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. I repeat: no spoilers for future episodes please! We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.

2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 9

After the comparatively more action-packed recent episodes, this episode feels like a lull before a storm. I mean, there are things that happen, and people that die, but overall, it does feel like this episode is more muted than average, like people and things are being shifted into place for the next arc of our story.

Lady Ninja dies by her own dagger while fighting Tae Ha, and Tae Ha’s slave tattoo is revealed when his head sash is sliced off mid-fight. It never occurred to me before, but in that flashback that we get, of Eonnyeon watching her brother burn off his slave tattoo, he seems to leave the hot tong on his chest for an incredibly extended period of time. This is, I think, definitely for dramatic purposes, since, 1, it really doesn’t require such a long time for a red-hot tong to burn off your flesh, and 2, it’s hard to believe that he’d be physically able to hold it in place for so long, since it’d be debilitatingly painful. By extension, I find it super hard to believe that the super delicate Eonnyeon would have been able to endure a similarly lengthy procedure to burn off her own slave tattoo. 😜

I do quite like the fact that Eonnyeon and Tae Ha finally talk about the truth of his slave status. Eonnyeon asks the questions gently but firmly, and basically conveys that she needs to know the truth, if she is to travel with Tae Ha. Previously, I’d felt quite indifferent to this conversation, because I’d found the Eonnyeon-Tae Ha arc boring in comparison to all the action occurring elsewhere in our story, but this time, I definitely appreciate it more. It feels like a step in a healthy direction, and I rather like the mutual appreciation that seems to grow out of this. Certainly, this doesn’t excuse the fact that Eonnyeon insists on knowing the truth of Tae Ha’s slave background, but does not tell him the truth about her own slavery.

The fight between Dae Gil and Baek Ho’s men is very acrobatic, but it’s cut short when Baek Ho shows Dae Gil a painting of Eonnyeon, which stuns Dae Gil into a trance. That gives Baek Ho his chance to kill Dae Gil as per Keunnom’s (Eonnyeon’s brother) orders, but General Choi comes to the rescue with a flying spear that basically impales Baek Ho. Gosh, that’s some serious thrust and velocity in General Choi’s spear throwing prowess!

It honestly does bug me a bit, that Eonnyeon is essentially Dae Gil’s kryptonite. Any mention of her, or painting of her, is enough to put him in a trance where he can’t think of anything else except tracking her down. Any and all badassery is gone in the meantime, and I guess it bothers me that she has such an inexplicable power over Dae Gil. 😅

I’d forgotten for a bit, that Dae Gil gets separated from General Choi and Wangson in his effort to find Eonnyeon, and I’m glad that Seol Hwa has the presence of mind and quick reflexes, to go after Dae Gil. Seol Hwa is right; Dae Gil does look like he’s going to do something mad dangerous, and I’m glad that Seol Hwa is there to ground him, even if it’s just a little bit.

Gah. The way Ji Ho’s two men get poisoned and then strung up at the pavilion, is pretty sick. I mean, I get that the food wasn’t given to them, and so, if they’d been smart enough to run away the minute they had a chance, they wouldn’t have been poisoned. But, I also have a feeling that Left State Minister would have then used other means to ensure that these two wouldn’t survive to tell the tale.

I have to say that even though I knew that Han Seom had a mission to protect the prince, I was quite shocked when he turned around and killed his fellow guards, so that he could take the prince and run, after seeing Commander Hwang. I rationalize that this was the fastest way he could get going, but it does feel rather hard to reconcile the fact that Han Seom’s one of the “good guys,” with him killing his innocent colleagues like that. 😝

I wasn’t as shocked when Commander Hwang slit the throat of Ji Ho’s righthand man, for daring to ask for more money, in the midst of an urgent situation like a missing prince. I mean, that I kind of expected, since Commander Hwang isn’t supposed to be one of the good guys. 😅

While Han Seom and his court lady go on the run, I can’t help but admire the gorgeous scenery, all over again. It’s just so expansive and panoramic, and just ups this show’s epic factor by a thousand. 🤩

When Dae Gil comes face to face with Keunnom, and we see the flashback of how Dae Gil had been stuck in the fire, it strikes me that he’d called out to Keunnom for help. And instead of giving him help, Keunnom had instead attacked him and slashed him in the face.

That makes the betrayal even worse, I feel, because Dae Gil had looked to him to save him. It’s no wonder that Dae Gil reacts with such strong emotion and starts charging at Keunnom with his knife drawn. This man had basically played a huge part in destroying Dae Gil’s life as he’d known it.

Episode 10

Augh, what an emotional, tense, complicated confrontation this turns out to be, between Dae Gil and Keunnom. It occurs to me that Keunnom must have not only killed Dae Gil’s family, but must have also stolen money from the household, otherwise how would he have had the money to buy himself into nobility?

Also, what a world-tilting revelation for Dae Gil, to realize that Keunnom is his half-brother. I’d forgotten that detail, and I legit gasped when Keunnom revealed that, because it means that he’d killed his own father, in order to save his half-sister. At first glance, that’s very dysfunctional indeed, but when we see what had happened via the flashback, I feel more sympathetic towards him. Like Keunnom said, he would not have turned on his master, if he hadn’t been desperate to save Eonnyeon, and the reason Eonnyeon had been in danger, was because Dae Gil had been foolhardy enough to declare to his father that he wanted to marry her.

In that sense, Keunnom is correct in saying that it all had happened because of Dae Gil. And I think that that’s part of the reason Dae Gil looks so blindsided. The thing that blindsides him the most, though, is the nugget of information that Keunnom passes on, that Eonnyeon has joined in conjugal ties with Song Tae Ha.

I feel like Eonnyeon is a dream that Dae Gil’s been holding onto for all these years, in order to keep himself going. His life has been so drastically changed, and he’s lost everything, so I think the only thing that he can hold onto, to motivate himself to keep on going and keep on living, is the dream of Eonnyeon. And this episode, Dae Gil’s finally being forced to let that dream go.

You can practically see the life force drain out of Dae Gil, the way he becomes a barely functioning zombie. There’s so many facets of emotion in his eyes; jadedness, derision, disappointment, sorrow, disbelief, hopelessness; it all leaks out from his gaze, and I feel like we are witnessing the beginning of a huge fundamental shift for him.

I know we’ve talked about how Eonnyeon is basically a catalyst – and that she definitely is – but I can’t help thinking, this episode, how so many things could’ve been different, if not for her. If not for her, Tae Ha could’ve moved so much faster, and then perhaps Court Lady wouldn’t have died, or perhaps Han Seom wouldn’t have gotten hurt. If not for Tae Ha going back to get her, Han Seom and the little prince could have left on the that raft, together with Tae Ha, and not have to stand around waiting, risking being found by everyone who’s on their tail. So while I’m reminding myself that Eonnyeon is a catalyst, so that these things can happen, I can’t help feeling frustrated at her for existing, heh. 😜

I find Han Seom’s arc with his Court Lady so, so affecting. Gah. I hated that Court Lady had to die. The way she struggled to tell Han Seom about herself with her last breath, because these were the things that he’d asked her, and the way Han Seom struggled to hold back tears, as he told her that she could live, and that he would let her bask in luxury, is so gutting. Gurgle. I found this arc so heartbreaking and haunting, despite its brevity. I will always ship Han Seom with his Court Lady. ❤️💔❤️

The fight between Tae Ha and Commander Hwang is gorgeously filmed. The slo-mo shots of swords slicing through water; the dance of the fight itself; the massive canvas of expansive scenery; it’s really beautiful.

Also, it occurs to me that when Commander Hwang is too wiped out to continue to fight Tae Ha, he still has enough strength left in him, to take down the entire group of soldiers that come after. This makes quite the statement about how formidable Tae Ha is – which I’m only realizing now, on this third watch.

Although it makes a very pretty picture, with colorful hanbok and romantic smooches set against an amazing backdrop of craggy cliffs and rolling waves, I can’t shake the feeling that Tae Ha stopping to romance Eonnyeon is a huge waste of time.

I keep thinking of Han Seom with the little prince, waiting for Tae Ha to hurry back – and all the while, Tae Ha’s making moony eyes at Eonnyeon and taking his time to kiss her. I just can’t get into it; I feel like there are much more pressing things at hand.

..Which brings me to the question of how Tae Ha, as a serious man of arms who takes his mission so seriously that he would die for it, could possibly be in the mood for romance, when things are so tense and urgent? This just doesn’t sit right with me.

The scene where Dae Gil sees a vision of Eonnyeon, still gives me chills. The way Jang Hyuk plays it, is so full of nuance and emotion. And the way his irises literally change size through the duration of the scene, still amazes me.

What strikes me this time, though, is that the vision of Eonnyeon that he sees, is wearing her hair up like a married woman. This means, that as she walks away from him in his vision, she’s walking away as a married woman. That gives a lot more meaning to the scene, I feel, and I’d never thought of this before, during my earlier watches.

57 thoughts on “Open Thread: Chuno Episodes 9 & 10

  1. Pingback: Announcement: Chuno group watch! | The Fangirl Verdict

  2. Jiyuu

    Such a richly written drama indeed! I find my own reaction to the series interesting because even if I love JH a lot and this is my first time watching Chuno, I have been watching the series perhaps a bit… detached? Appreciating everything but not letting myself be too attached to the characters because sageuks (especially the epic ones) are always, always written to break hearts.

    A bunch of thoughts:
    (1) THE GIRL – I am not a fan of Lee Da Hae’s role so far (standing frozen during battle scenes) but I envy her for being in all these gorgeous locations, shot cinematically from all angles. How it must feel to be the object of fervor from our two male leads in such an epic tale. (I envy her also for starring several times in dramas with Jang Hyuk and Lee Dong Wook)

    (2) THE PRODUCTION – Not sure if this has been asked/answered in the threads before but just how much of this series was pre-produced? I can’t imagine the amount of work needed to make it work like this, it feels impossible to shoot this live. I remember JH mentioning that the lower you are in the caste system (in dramas), the more you get to travel to interesting places because kings and royals are usually just stuck in the palace. How true!

    (3) THE OTHER GIRL – Unfortunately, I’m in the minority of not being a fan of Seolhwa for many reasons but especially with her losing the horses… again!? Her new outfit (pink and grey headgear) is much more becoming for her and I understand why our trio needs her to balance out the testosterone (and her previous hanbok provides a splash of color to their mostly brown outfits).

    (4) THE NOT SO BAD GUY – Huge fan of the actor who plays Ji Ho (have always liked his roles, good or bad, in all the other series including It’s Okay That’s Love) and for the first time in Chuno, I feel for him and root for him as he mourns for Mandeuk (and he doesn’t even know what has happened with the rest of the gang sent back to HanYang). I can hope/imagine him teaming up with Dae Gil later.

    (5) THE DETAILS – I love the little details of this drama, including the “character” of Song Tae Ha’s weapon, huge and chipped. And never have I seen such realistic slave clothing (and fleshing out of day to day living) in any other drama than this. Would it have killed the owners/masters to dress their servants in slightly better clothing? I doubt they pay them wages, right?

    (6) THE ROMANCE – If I were to view this show strictly disregarding Dae Gil, then I can totally root for the pairing of Unnyun and Song Tae Ha. It is epic in its own right, a guy on the run with a noble mission and a noble spirit, paired with a girl who has been through a lot and who deserves her own happiness at last.

    That said, while I haven’t watched JH and LDH’s other shows together (Robber and Iris 2) the show’s producers must believe a lot on their chemistry to bank on them having a romance that keeps them apart nearly half of the series (so far). Their reunion must be phenomenal too with all this pain and longing. And with how the show is moving, I both look forward to and dread what’s coming.

  3. Lamenteuse

    I’m starting my new year off by jumping back on the Chuno group watch bandwagon (albeit a little late). I have one question and one comment on this pair of episodes.

    Question: Towards the end of Episode 9, Eonnyeon hands back Tae Ha’s folded robes to him while they are on the boat, and he gives her a surprised look, as if there was something significant in the act. Was there? Am I missing something? It seems like something shifted in their relationship at that moment, but I’m not sure what or why.

    Comment: In Episode 10 during Dae Gil’s showdown with Keunnom, the more shocking thing to me, rather than the reveal about Keunnom’s parentage, was Keunnom’s description of Dae Gil’s reaction when his father sentenced Eonnyeon to death. The image of Dae Gil crying in his room over the injustice just didn’t compute with the swaggery character we’ve come to know. But then again, when I recalled some of the other flashbacks to Young Dae Gil hiding under a building during the big fight, staring at Eonnyeon as she cries out for him to save her, it becomes clear that Young Dae Gil was pretty spineless. That moment with Keunnom made me realize just how much Dae Gil has changed as a person over time, and how much the fire marked the divergence in Dae Gil and Eonnyeon’s paths. Other commenters have noted that Eonnyeon has always had the heart of a noblewoman, even when she was a slave. Escaping and reinventing herself as Hye Won was the path for her to manifest her true self. However, for Dae Gil, the fire marked a sharp divergence from the path he had initially set out on, and he ended up becoming someone very different from who he had thought he was, probably in part as a rebuke to himself for his past cowardice. Weirdly, to me, Tae Ha seems to be an idealized counterpoint to Young Dae Gil: also of noble bearings and with a similar desire to change the country, but a skilled warrior who would rather die on principle rather than accept something other than what he feels is right. In that sense, it seems almost natural that Eonnyeon would eventually settle with him. But even if Tae Ha doesn’t seem to have Eonnyeon’s heart the way Young Dae Gil did/does, the Dae Gil that exists now never would either.

    1. Snow Flower

      @Lamenteuse, I remember reading someone’s comment about this scene on the Dramabeans discussion thread. The commenter said that Eon Nyeon returning Tae Ha’s clothing to him, neatly folded, is something a wife would do for her husband. In an earlier episode, when EN and TH visited General Shin, they were both given new clothes. EN’s clothes included a hairpin and a hair piece, both items worn by married women only. We don’t know if TH requested clothes appropriate for a married couple or General Shin assumed that TH and EN were married. I think TH thought of the married couple clothing as a disguise, and was surprised by E N treating him as if he were her actual husband.

      And I totally agree with your comment on Daegil and Eonnyeon. He yearns for his past, but also feels guilty for failing to save her 2 times in a row. And he also hates what he has become…

  4. Princess Jasmine

    Happy New Year 2021 to all of you and hope the happy and fun-filled viewing of KDramas continues into this year as well; And I hope and pray for a healthy and peaceful year ahead for all of us;

    I have purposely watched only till episode 10 and this is my first time viewing of the drama and I have no idea what happens in the end; So with this in mind, I felt that episodes 9 and 10 were brilliant and has set the pace/tone for the next few episodes and beyond;

    Brilliant cinematography, great action sequences and fantastic acting at the right occasions; And special mention of the background score; Honestly in this drama background score is a character in itself;

    When I started out on the drama, I had a soft spot for Tae-ha (especially in the first few episodes) but by episode 6 I fell for Dae-gil and I am on team DG now; Something tells me that he is going to end up getting maximum sympathy by the time the drama ends. I already cried out in the last few minutes of episode 10 when they show the slow motion cut of Hye-won moving away; Jang Hyuk hit the ball so out of the park in that sequence with his great acting….

    I also liked the confrontation scene between Dae-gil and Hye-won’s brother and the secret revelation was well-timed; I really empathised with the brother character and he did what he felt was right at every occasion. Actually I wanted to know a bit more on what exactly Dae-gil did when his father imprisoned Hye-won. Indeed if he had closed out himself in the room then maybe he was a coward then at that point in his life. Of course I will wait for the drama to end before I say that conclusively.

    A special shout-out to the guy who rescues the little prince and his scenes with the royal helper is very touching. Actually I realised that most of the characters in this drama have gone through a lot in life and are either trying to set things right or just scrapping through life; Makes me feel much more thankful for my current life and its perks; Don’t know what I would have done if I was in that period;

    But I didn’t like that the friend of brother of Hye-won and Yoon-Ji getting killed so early on; Thought they would play more pivotal roles instead of being wasted away like that; Or maybe the further episodes have far more greater characters coming in…have to wait and watch;

    And finally Seol-hwa is so good and honestly I like her better that Hye-won; For someone who has gone through so much in life already and with nobody to protect her until DG comes in, she is so earnest and I really want DG to like her and they both have much better chemistry flowing in;

  5. Snow Flower

    I have been thinking about Kfangurl and BE’s statement that it was Daegil’s rather rash and irresponsible act (declaring that he wanted to marry Eon Nyeon) that put him on his tragic path. My question is, could he have done things differently? What other options did he have? How would someone else behave in the same situation?

    The first option for Daegil would have been to marry a girl of his father’s choice and make Eon Nyeon his concubine. That was a perfectly acceptable practice at the time. However, I just can’t see Daegil doing that. Yes, he is naive and irresponsible, but there is really a room for only one woman in his heart. I find his earnest faithfulness really innocent and touching. Also, becoming Daegil’s concubine would not have improved Eon Nyeon’s situation much. She would have been at the mercy of Daegil’s wife.

    Another option for Daegil and Eon Nyeon would have been to just run away, maybe go to a different city and assume new identities. But I still can’t imagine Daegil doing that. How is he going to make a living to support himself and Eon Nyeon? It is also very likely that his father would put slave hunters on their trail.

    Daegil and Eon Nyeon could also make a new life in another country, like China or Japan. But again, teen Daegil does not seem to have the resources or the forethought for something like that.

    So what really was left for him besides breaking up with Eon Nyeon? He tried to reason with his father, and ended up bringing a disaster on himself and his family, and losing Eon Nyeon. A happy ending would never have been possible for Daegil and Eon Nyeon…

    I also tried to imagine Song Tae Ha in a similar situation. He is from a noble family, so he probably owned slaves. I can’t picture him mistreating his slaves, but he would probably keep a distance between them and himself. I also can’t picture him having a wife and a concubine.

    1. BE

      I think once Dae Gil’s father had beaten and imprisoned Eon Nyeon, he had to act. Keun Neom told Dae Gil that she had wanted to die with him. And one is led to believe she left her groom at the altar because even after a decade she remained faithful to Dae Gil, even though she believed he was dead.That is the one thing about Eon Nyeon, however quiet and gentle she appears, she is strong in her faith in love. Whatever Dae Gil suffered from in original lack of planning, at the point when she was imprisoned by his father, Dae Gil should have saved Eon Nyeon and run or, however tragic, gone full Romeo to her Juliet.

      1. Snow Flower

        Daegil has failed to save Eon Nyeon two times already. I got reminded of another guilt-ridden Tragic Swordsman, Lee Bang Ji from Six Flying Dragons, brilliantly played by Byun Yo Han (and he can sing!)

        1. BE

          The added kicker is that Dae Gil also wounded her with his flipping dagger.

          And talk about your choreography Li Bang Ji! My fantasy sageuk Bang Won and Po-Eun on the Bridge. Jang Hyuk as Bang Won.

          Don’t we want a good new role for Byun Yo Han, a leading role in which the protagonist has a chance to stretch and grow? I see it is time for me to also go back to 6 flying dragons. I left off about six months ago at 36. These really long ones–where do they ever get the money for such spectacular productions?

  6. Snow Flower

    @BE, I think Tae Ha was referring to Commander Hwang when he said that his best friend betrayed him. He already knew that Han Seom was following his orders and was not really a traitor. I am still curious about Commander Hwang’s background and past. He accused Song Tae Ha of looking down on him and only giving him orders. So far Tae Has has been shown as a fair and trustworthy leader. In an earlier discussion thread we speculated about Hwang not being noble, or maybe being a noble’s son by a concubine. In other dramas characters of similar circumstances always have a tragic vibe to them. I thought about how different Hwang is from Han Seom, who is also of humble origin. And yet, Han Seom is loyal to Tae Ha. I can’t imagine Tae Ha treating his subordinates differently. So maybe Hwang has a deeply seated inferiority complex, and that’s not something that developed overnight. I can easily imagine how a lifetime of frustrated ambition and mistreatment could have turned him into a sociopath.

    1. BE

      Perhaps this has to do with the initial scene in which Hwang holds back from entering battle with the Chinese. I do find him utterly despicable but the way Lee Jong Hyuk portrays him is quite compelling, arresting.

    2. Drama Fan

      Yeah, I think its clear he has an inferiority complex and maybe because of that, he couldn’t even “see”, believe or appreciated Tae Ha’s friendship. However, Tae Ha did think of him as a friend and this is why he is not eliminating him. Imo, Tae Ha had chances to get rid of him but he is still in shock of his betrayal and probably wants to find a way to understand him, forgive him.

      1. BE

        Yes and also, remembering his duel with Baek Ho, using only a bamboo switch and then letting him go, Tae Ha’s code of honor as a martial artist kicks in. One could argue Tae Ho’s single flaw is that code of honor. He tells Hwang he “trusts” him to do the correct thing, when the audience is already quite aware, dramatic irony, that trusting Hwang to anything other than a ruthlessness furthering his own interest is dangerous.

  7. Leslie

    It occurs to me that while I’m a first-time watcher of Chuno, I’m not having a very typical first timer’s experience. Reading the comments here each week fills in gaps and draws my attention to points more quickly and completely than most first-time lone watchers could ever imagine. I hardly have time to think “I don’t understand” before I do. The next time I watch, likely on my own, may be more like a first time… because I’ll never remember all of these thought-filled
    contributions. 😉

    Gorgeous couples costumes this episode. I loved Seol Hwa and Dae Gil’s new clothes. They are a matched pair wearing coordinating colors and rustic yet elegant ensembles. The clothes say they go together in a colorful earthy way – whether or not it ever comes to pass. Similarly, Tae Ha and Un Nyun’s ensembles complement each other and underscore a shared nobility/gentility. Tae Ha’s screams masculine while Un Nyun’s cries feminine. Dae Gil and Seol Hwa’s are both far more androgynous. Though it’s impossible to miss their masculine and feminine charms. And notice how Han Seom and Court Lady’s outfits complement each other in color and design, as well. The crisp whites, the true blues, the slashes of red. They, too, were meant to be together…if only for a few minutes.

    While we were swashbuckling and torso-glistening through the first half of the show, I was distracted from the consequential, less light-hearted, stories unfolding. The spate of deaths of people with cast credits in these two episodes suggests we’re moving into more serious territory. I have some trepidation.

    1. BE

      For me the big differences between my initial watch and this are:
      I binged last time, whereas this time I am going at the pace of these posts.
      I am watching each episode twice, and the second time jotting down notes, which has the primary purpose of allowing me to remember what happened in detail so as to be able to talk about it better, and it has the secondary upshot of my paying much more attention to details and their significance the first time around.
      There is here the back and forth of the feedback, the various takes, plus I did not read KFG’s notes till I had seen the entire show the first time, whereas now I always read her commentary first before posting. The posters here cover so much that fills gaps for me. I really like your noting costuming, for example. And I would be adrift were it not for Snow Flower’s sense of history and her understanding of the chronology of the action itself.
      The first time thru I was like everyone simply entranced by Jang Hyuk’s charisma, so much so, I missed a ton about his character, not the least of which how incredibly nuanced his portrayal of Dea Gil actually is, and thus let some things slide, and generally idealized Dae Gil as THE HERO. Like everyone I was blown away by Seol Hwa, perhaps the single most lovable character I have seen in any sageuk. I hated Hwang. And got a big kick out of Ji Ho. But I missed so much. And I generally pooh poohed Tae Ha and Eon Nyeon, something I no longer do. Also somehow, even though Han Seom’s courtship of the prince’s maid in waiting was only briefly developed in actuality, I seem to have remembered it as having gone on through at least three or more episodes.

      1. Snow Flower

        @BE, I have read comments (not on KFG’s site) about Song Tae Ha and Eon Nyeon being the most boring couple ever, their lack of “chemistry,” etc. With every rewatch I realize that they act like a married couple, even though they are not married. I like that their most meaningful moments so far have been wordless. I have always liked the scene when Eon Nyeon gives Tae Ha a piece of her clothing to cover his forehead. It occurred to me that Song Tae Ha must have been terrified about his secret being exposed to Eon Nyeon. Every proper Confucian lady would have been scandalized by the mark on his forehead. But Eon Nyon’s simple gesture spoke of trust and understanding, so Tae Ha must have felt gratitude and relief.

        1. BE

          Yes that gesture with the scarf expressed so much. First, she wanted to understand his being chased by slave hunters, not because she looked down on him as a slave, but because she was unsure of trusting him. Once she heard his story, she completely understood him and his motivations. She knows all too well how there is nothing worse than being a slave. Again and again, albeit his gestures more grandiose, she does little things to protect him, and those all have an intimate quality to them.
          I am trying to view this as a kind of modern rendering of an old fashioned kind of romantic epic. If one wants to talk about chemistry in the contemporary sense, just as if one were to raise the issue of the action scenes being highly unrealistic–that Commander Hwang has some hops, does he not, twirling in mid air about ten feet off the ground–while I understand this take, our particular opportunity to really look at what must be one of the world’s great televised works of art with everyone leads me to try harder to take the whole on its own terms. No doubt by the end I will have some quibbles, even serious ones, but so far I am finding I am more amazed by the production just trying to get it as is.
          I found Lee Da Hae/Eon Nyeon sitting on that ridge, woldo in hands, that expression of placid, patient faith on her face, quite arresting. The more I realize her back story, the more I have begun to appreciate the direction and enactment in real time of that story.
          And…it is impossible to escape how simply gorgeous, idealistically so, heroically so, Tae Ha and Eon Nyeon are, especially highlighted by the landscapes in all their four dimensional, 360 degree glory, the kind of masculine and feminine beauty occupying legendary kinds of characters.

  8. Drama Fan

    Guys! I just wanna say I missed you all so much! lol! Ill be back later to read you all and comment. I’m just so excited to see the thread up, I had to say something. To me, the drama gets even more exciting from now on! I hope you had an amazing holiday.

  9. j3ffc

    So much to see in these shows; didn’t feel like filler to me at all. Starting with….

    The Body Count. Not one, but two consequential characters cut down in these episodes. Not gonna lie…aghast and sorry to see Lady Ninja go down so soon. I thought she was great. And Keunnom, following major exposition/secret sharing. From a dramatic viewpoint though, these losses bode well because they signal that Show is willing to Do What It Must and that Anything Can Happen.

    I share kfangurl’s shipping Han Seom with his Court Lady, only partly b/c I felt unnecessarily proud of myself for recognizing Seom from “Tree With Deep Roots”. It’s easy to forget that everyone has a life, not just Main Characters, and they all matter. It’s a sign of a good show that they can invest us in this side-story so concisely yet compellingly.

    I had serious suspension of disbelief issues with Commander Hwang defeating an entire troop after the interview with Tae Ha. I mean, really. This isn’t a superhero saga (or so I thought).

    I found Gae Hil’s respect for the recently deceased Baek Ho touching. May he, indeed, rest in peace.

    And while Cheobok may never be able to wash her face, her teeth look FANTASTIC! Actually, I suspect that Chun Ji-ho may be more the norm for the era than the rest of our group.

    And, I totally, completely, unequivocally agree that Tae Ha’s taking time for kissy-kissy made zero sense and made me crazy. I can say more about this next time, but man! Get your priorities straight!

    1. Snow Flower

      Not only did Tae Ha waste time kissing, he also left his woldo sword! When he showed at the beach, he was unarmed, and had to use Han Seom’s sword for the epic fight with Commander Hwang. I understand the symbolism of leaving the sword (telling Eon Nyeon that he would be back), but dude, there are so many people after you, and you just leave your weapon like that? The sword fight was awesome though.

      1. BE

        There are too many problems with suspension of disbelief–why did the first group of soldiers on the beach accost Commander Hwang? How did Tae Ha circle back without being noticed to Eon Nyeon? How did Han Seom get so much time to grieve over the death of the maid in waiting with Commander Hwang hot on the trail? and so on and so on, for me to question Tae Ha leaving his sword or kissing Eon Nyeon.
        I mean perhaps no one is noticing, but Tae Ha is the single baddest man alive. Period. And extremely confident. The sword was a covenant between him and Eon Nyeon. No sword, having seen the mayhem Tae Ha can deliver with only a rope just a few minutes earlier, pah. He’s coming back. And the kiss was the seal on the covenant. He, unlike Dae Gil, can protect Eon Nyeon. And to save one person is to save the nation. He has just saved the prince and Han Seom, and he cannot fail to save Eon Nyeon. And her seated waiting for him, woldo in hand, was a signatory of trust in that. Remember what Seol Hwa said to Dae Gil about what it means for a woman to declare trust in a man. Trustworthy, heroic, faithful–both of them so, so beautiful, depicted again and again in these two episodes against backdrops of staggering beauty. If Dae Gil is tortured by internal conflicts, Tae Ha & Eon Nyeon are utterly lacking any internal conflicts about either his mission and ability to pull it off against odds that would defeat any other man or their feelings for one another. I look at the kiss on the headlands as the single most transcendent moment of Chuno up to this point.

        As I say, there are so many glitches in this episode with respect towards realism with regard to action, this bit of romanticism especially contrasted by Dae Gil’s utter internal horror seemed fine by me.

    2. BE

      In re: Commander Hwang taking on the entire batch of soldiers after his midsection had been sliced by Tae Ha. I view this as revealing in regard to the pecking order of seriously bad men. No doubt, Tae Ha is in a category of his own. But Commander Hwang is a seriously great swordsman. Now of course some of this is part of the sageuk set of tropes, singular depth and death defying sword skills, quite common in these old historical dramas. But it does set up a perspective. Tae Ha is a giant whose skills even dwarf Hwang’s–he can do with a rope what it takes Hwang to achieve with a sword. And what a great fighter then Han Seom, holding off Commander Hwang while wounded and holding a small child in his arms.

      An aside: one can imagine a rather long heroic poem in praise of Han Seom’s tragic and heroic retreat, his love fallen at spearpoint, and then oceanside rocky canyon stand in defense of the young prince.

      By contrast with Hwang and Tae Ha, Dae Gil is a street fighter, best with his fists and a knife.
      This is a legendary kind of telling, and while not a comic book superhero deal, such derring do comes with this narrative genre. These men are not ordinary, nor are we meant to understand them as such. Their very otherworldly skills are meant for the audience to understand how epic the stakes of their characters.

      1. Snow Flower

        I am perfectly fine with the suspension of disbelief. As you mentioned, there is a certain epic, legendary vibe to the whole show, so I don’t really mind the superhuman swordsmanship of our characters.

        1. j3ffc

          BE and Snow Flower, thanks for the comments and perspectives. Don’t worry: I don’t think that we’re watching a documentary!

          Best wishes for a healing 2021, and thanks for sharing the journey.

    3. Ele Nash

      That’s funny, j3ffc, that you recognised Han-Seom as actor Cho Jin-Woong (Mu-Hyul in Tree With Deep Roots) as I didn’t at all!! I also didn’t recognise him as the same actor in Signal. He’s AMAZING! 😍

  10. Snow Flower

    The confrontation between Dae Gil and Keun Nom is a pivotal scene in the show: as BE observed, it is Dae Gil who is the catalyst of the story, not Eon Nyeon. I thought that the last words Keun Nom spoke to Dae Gil were the words of an older brother advising his younger brother, for the first and the last time.
    This is a rewatch for me, so I knew what was going to happen to Keun Nom, but I was very sad at the scene in Episode 2 when he told Eon Nyeon to be happy. This was the last time brother and sister were together…

    Dae Gil and Seol Hwa: Her one-sided love is so heart-breaking. I think he knows that she loves him, and has a soft spot for her, but he is unwilling to give himself a chance.

    Poor Court Lady and poor Han Seom…poor underlings of Cheon Ji Ho…

    Little prince Seok Gyeon has to be the best behaved toddler in history😀.

    1. BE

      Team Ji Ho.

      Ji Ho comes back for Man Seuk despite the danger, despite being in defiance of Hwang’s orders. While we do not see him do it, he manages to defeat two soldiers, meaning there was a reason Ji Ho was the jefe, so to speak–when he had to, Ji Ho could fight.
      When he buries Man Seuk in the rocks by the shore, the mountains for a backdrop, he not only puts one coin into his mouth but two, and tells his lieutenant about the scene he has given his spirit to rest in. He asks would Dae Gil have chosen such a location. Give Ji Ho his due: one wonders truly if Dae Gil would proffer such a location.
      Ji Ho has a kind of nobility coming to the surface. He does not pay back every debt, but he pays back blood debts (Man Seuk, then, he considers blood of his blood). Even if he had earlier declared he would follow Hwang to the ends of the earth in order to escape the pitiful caste of being a slave hunter, no matter the personal insult or humiliation Hwang threw his way, the frivolous slashing of Man Seuk’s throat was a step too far for he IS CHUN JI HO! Saying it so now for a second time in the series, this time with more passion.

      And then there is Sung Dong Il’s brilliant whine when combined with laughter, so animal, so emotional. Yes indeed, team Chuno Ji Ho.

      1. Snow Flower

        @BE, team Ji Ho indeed! I keep imagining what Cheon Ji Ho’s past must have been like. He seems to have a sense of loyalty and a moral code of his own. His casual remark to Commander Hwang about alcohol being necessary on a military ship made me think that he may have been a soldier or a mercenary before turning to slave hunting.

        1. BE

          Such a richly written drama, so textural, so much implication and inference, especially given how generally expansive just the surface of it all is.

  11. BE

    There is so much to unpack in these two episodes. And I have many different takeaways than you did.

    First and foremost, I think that we finally get the real reason for the title, to which I would add one thing. First I want to know if chuno is a singular form. I believe the title of the show should be The Chuno, A Tragedy. That this is not about slave hunters, but one slave hunter and the tragedy of his life in which the tragedy of his age was most dramatically embodied.
    First of all with all the carnage of these two episodes does anyone really doubt that as in all tragedies inevitability has set in. Whatever may happen to anyone else, it is clear to me at this point, based on what I know now about our main character, what has led me up through the first nine episodes, culminating in the confrontation at the beginning of episode ten, and what I know of how the arc of tragedies transpire, I cannot envision from this point in our tale that there can be any happy ending for Dae Gil.
    We now know for a certainty that Dae Gil put Eon Nyeon in mortal danger,by confessing to his father his love for Eon Nyeon, something that Keun Neom recognizes instantly. And we know Dae Gil did nothing, nothing, nothing, but weep and moan about it while she was first beaten, then imprisoned to die of thirst. This recognition has been prepared for in previous scenes as we have gone back and forth about earlier.

    We know on the other hand Keun Neom did something. He first begged Dae Gil’s father for mercy. Then he tried to leverage the reality that Dae Gil’s father had raped his mother, thus the fact of Keun Neom’s birth. And as he is telling Dae Gil this, he makes the point that such (rape) was ubiquitous behavior by such as his father. Dae Gil with all his arrogance about nobility and slaves, even right up to the moment of this confrontation, with his empty promise of a casteless society to Eon Nyeon, Eon Nyeon, who remembers that promise, then telling Tae Ha, there is nothing worse than being a slave–ah, it is not Eon Nyeon who is the catalyst of this story but Dae Gil himself, revealed as the pure embodiment of the worst, the most cowardly, the most privileged and hypocritical element of the outrageous injustice between the noble class and their slaves.
    And insult to injury, finding out that Eon Nyeon has wed Tae Ha, in denial, in screaming denial, before and after, Keun Neom forcing his hand by placing his trust in Dae Gil’s love for Eon Nyeon that Dae Gil on the blood of his self sacrifice will propel him to doing the right thing in the end, Dae Gil is overwhelmed by the abject shock of his situation.
    Irony heaped upon irony, Dae Gil’s denial bursts out of him upon the empty rationale of his emotions that Eon Nyeon has eloped with another slave, Tae Ha, whom we should not forget he was hired to hunt down by the Left State Minister, Evil Incarnate, that Dae Gil has been played by the epitome of the corrupt, avaricious, and murderous noble class.

    Much else to discuss–an elaboration on the theme of who is really noble; the heroic beauty of Tae Ha and Eon Nyeon; the mendacious but human evil of Commander Hwang; the epic poem of Han Seom; team Ji Ho; the problem of dislocation and sense of time; the relative sword bad assery of Tae Ha, Commander Hwang, Han Seom, whereas Dae Gil fists and knife; laughter as a dramatic device–think Dae Gil, Ji Ho, and Left State Scoundrel; Eon Nyeon disappearing from Dae Gil as she embraces Tae Ha; Han Seom’s comment about saving one person one saves a nation, commenting about Tae Ha’s nobility in going back for Eon Nyeon–but for me the single most important element of these two episodes is how they culminate all that went before and direct where we will be headed from here on out, and above all show us the abject complexity of Dae Gil. There is no other character half so conflicted or complex. I feel much warmer toward Tae Ha than I did in my first viewing, Eon Nyeon as well–something epic and heroic about the two of them, but I understand better than at any previous point why Dae Gil is the focus of this drama, and it has nothing to do with liking or disliking, simply there is more there there to Dae Gil as magnificently enacted by Jang Hyuk.

    1. Drama Fan

      @BE This is a very interesting take. Daegil has always confused me a bit, especially in these episodes. I guess its that complexity you describe and how I can’t completely decipher him, yet. But anyway, I feel I have a yet, new appreciation for this scene of the confrontation between Daegil and Keunom. I mean, that was a lot of information for Daegil to process. But more than the revelation that he was his half brother (Keunom’s version of things, certainly made me side with him completely) it was the accusation that Daegil caused everything by been naive and well, cowardly (at least in that moment, when he couldn’t confront his father to save Eunnyon) Daegil’s reaction, his expression, looked like acknowledgment. He might deny deny deny with his foul mouth and insults but his eyes betray him. I felt Daegil’s self loathing more than ever. Like, he knows what Keunom says is true (at least to him it is) I have this theory that Daegil hates the naive young master that he used to be.

      Also, didn’t you guys feel? (maybe its just me) that he was not only devastated of having lost Unnyun to Taeha (the dream, the hope) but doesn’t he also feel sad that she hooked up with another runaway slave thus putting herself in danger? like, why did you escape only to end up like this? That is how I felt it.

      1. BE

        Personally, I do not think he is sad in the way you do about Tae Ha, although I see what you are driving at. It is just that for me there are other issues. She has hooked up with the man he is being paid to catch. And he is still filled with his arrogance about slaves in general. Harkening back to his youth, he might somehow still believe his inherited nobility can protect Eon Nyeon, albeit he has just had to swallow whole how that was never so. And he thinks Tae Ha is a slave, and thinking they are wed, jealously, may be considering that she thinks Tae Ha even as a slave can protect her. I tend to think he is more obsessed with Eon Nyeon, as bottled up as she is in his unconscious with so much else haunting him internally than he is truly concerned on her behalf.

    2. Trent

      @BE I think you’re on the right track as far as the tragedy of Daegil goes; I’ve felt since fairly early on that this had glimmers of that air of inevitability driven by character flaw that is a hallmark of classical (Western) dramatic tragedy, and recent episodes, especially these last two, have strengthened that looming foreshadowing of doom. Interested to see what form it takes, and if/how it deviates.

      1. BE

        Watching Seol Hwa witness Dae Gil’s confrontation with Keun Neom, feeling as she does so much on his behalf, I could not help but think of a snippet of Ophelia’s commentary on Hamlet, albeit a much different context:
        “And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
        That sucked the honey of his music…
        Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
        Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh;
        That unmatched form and feature of blown youth
        Blasted with ecstasy.”

  12. Trent

    My thoughts:
    So, we’re into the second third of the piece, and it feels like a lot of deadwood getting cleared to launch into whatever comes next. Cosplaying ninja lady: ded! White tiger warrior dude: ded! Eunyeon (and Daegil! who knew?!) brother: ded! Most of Jiho’s disreputable crew of rogues: ded! Commander Hwang…unfortunately not ded! But wounded, at least!

    Yeah, so I know y’all have spilled a fair amount of ink trying to humanize Commander Hwang, or give some depth to the dude, and I have to say I’m just not feeling it. This guy is a jerk, and I have a hard time caring about if it’s because he wants to give his mom a better life or whatever. I mean, why you gotta throw a cut bamboo spear through the back of the hard-working nursing maid, for cryin’ out loud? You need that for your bucket list, or next promotion on up the villain tier or something? Also, I get that Commander Hwang is supposed to be a serious bad-ass in the warriorly arts, but wounded and still takes down an entire platoon of troops? Nah, we’re in fantasy-land now.

    Conversely, for maybe the first time, I was starting to sort of warm to Eunyeon a little as a character. I mean, she’s still kind of useless, but her warming up to Taeha and signalling support of his mission and goals made me feel like she was more there, more of a living breathing character with agency. And man, she sure made a pretty picture seated in that colorful hanbok against that incredible mountain panorama backdrop. That was pretty breathtaking. I don’t care overmuch for their romance-as-romance, but conceptually, seeing it run in parallel to the Daegil-Seolhwa pairing, I found myself wishing more than once over these two episodes that Eunyeon and Taeha would just get together, do their mission(s) or whatever, and live happily ever after together.

    Which brings me, yet again, to Daegil and Seolhwa, and I’m starting to sound broken record here, but man. Girlfriend is just yearning for that boy and he’s consumed with a brain rot named Eunyeon. Maybe that symbolic vision of her turning away and leaving will provide a temporary break in the fever? Can’t possibly hope for it to be permanent, but still find myself hoping for Daegil to get his head on straight (and his heart aligned) and notice what’s right under his nose, so to speak.

    (This reminds me, what happened with Kim Ha-eun, who played Seolhwa? Her career as an actress never seemed to really take off, and she–at least so far–has been a vibrant delight in this. ‘Tis a mystery).

    Anyway, that’s enough for now. Curious to see where we go from here, ’cause we still have over half the show to go.

    1. Drama Fan

      I also wonder about Kim Ha Eun (our SeolHwa) 🙁 I know she played a small role in Rebel a couple of years ago but what happened? She was so good in this! and she was also excellent in Conspiracy in the Court.

      1. BE

        “A funny woman is better than a beautiful woman.”
        And yet, Kim Ha Eun is also a beauty. Hard to understand why she has not had more great roles.

      2. Trent

        Huh, yeah, her Wikipedia article didn’t have any role listed for her past Miss Mama Mia in 2015, but asianwiki notes the 2017 role in Rebel (starring Chae Soo-bin, one of my current faves!).

        I’m not at all privy to the inner workings of how dramas get cast, but sure seems like she had the talent to make more of a mark. Same goes for Min Ji-ah (as smart slave girl Cho-bok), who has had a few more roles, most recently in the successful 2019 The Crowned Clown, but seems like had the presence and the looks to rise at least a little higher up the prominent roles ladder.

        Tis a bit of a puzzlement/disappointment.

        1. Snow Flower

          Both Rebel and The Crowned Clown are very good. I recommend them wholeheartedly.

          And Conspiracy in the Court (Seoul’s Sad Song) too, if you are willing to go to the Dark Side/Site…

            1. Snow Flower

              That’s a great list! I have seen many of the dramas listed. I have a soft spot for Tamra the Island, a gentle family comedy set in Jeju island ca.1640. If you want a classic sageuk with a brilliant villain and a a brilliant anti-hero, Queen Seon Deok has them! Damo is a short but powerful Greek tragedy set in 1692. I also liked Jumong (a classic hero’s journey), Jejungwon (a rare medical historical drama), and Bridal Mask (set in 1932). Hwang Jin Yi and Painter of the Wind deal with the lives and struggles of female artists in Joseon.


              The link above is a excellent resource about historical dramas and historical periods of Korea’s history.

              1. BE

                I chanced on Queen Seon Deok–what a spectacle, only third ep in. Thanks for the link and suggestions.You are the champ! Happy New Year. I think I will let Queen Seon Deok ring mine in.

                1. Snow Flower

                  Lady Mishil is the best sageuk villain! And I would like to hear your take on Bidam, who appears later in the drama. Happy new year!

                  1. BE

                    Okay well I did my largest binge of my life from New Years eve day through today on Queen Seon Deok, and got about halfway through it–Duck Man is now Princess and just reunited with So Wha. Sorry I have made up nicknames for the lot of them.
                    I think My Shield is a great villain because she is so smart, and because in many ways really is much more qualified to run things personally than anyone in the Royal family or the royal family’s retinue (goodness, that Yul Jay (ugly) is as reprehensible as any one in My Shield’s minion). Also even though, of course she is the villain and one despises her, the fact of the arbitrary nature of royal inheritance versus the fact of her non royal birth, let alone her gender, it kind of makes her sympathetic. And then she manages to have been consort to the late great king, sucking every last bit of his substantial wit while doing so, and husband to some high political mucky muck and lover of the commander of the armed forces all, the latter of which pretty darned formidable himself, and the latter two–husband and lover, and the sons of both, along with her kid brother all under her thumb–well that is one impressive individual. One feels for her as well because late King thought she was good enough for his bedroom in his dirty old man years, but wants to send her to a nunnery after he dies, a fate she does not in the least stand for. She makes for a great villain because she actually appears to be great period.
                    Be Damned has entered the narrative, but not so much that I see anything tragic about him, other than what you have said and general synopses have told me. So far he is mostly just entertaining with skills, movie star good looks, and a kind of unworldly and appealing foolishness attached. I am a bit at a loss about a couple things–it seems to me he looks a little like the one image given of My Shield’s first love Sad Damned of the Flowering Branch, and both My Shield and her brother seem shocked by how he looks, so that reinforces that impression I have. And somehow he is associated from infancy with Moon Hoe and how so is intriguing.
                    I like Duck Man very much, but don’t think that princess get up suits her half so much as the Nando outfit when she wore her hair down. I think the story could have ended right where it is (except that her whole legend in reality has to do with who she was as queen of course). I don’t know if Duck Man will be half so interesting or more importantly keep my rooting interest so riveted on her behalf from here on out.I had the same problem with 6 Flying Tigers, not wanting to watch Bang Won become less appealing and getting bogged down as a result.
                    I like Your Shin (sorry about the nicknames I have seen too many episodes in too short of time), but liked him even better as a kid, and am afraid he is going to become even more wooden–hope not. I have a soft spot for Algernon, who has an interesting internal conflict about what is right in theory and right in practice, but is so solid as comrade in arms. And love Yuk Bang as resident comedy relief.
                    And on the villain side, I kind of admire Soul Won because he always gives My Shield the best advice, even if he is a ruthless and cold blooded scoundrel as well.
                    I am worried now that Princess Jones M. Young has been killed, that there will be no real young or in their prime womanly characters to root for (can we give poor Your Shin somebody to love? Somebody to kiss? Somebody to miss? After all MZ Sang that ugly, weasly, crooked smile hound dog has a hundred kids! Where is there any justice in a world where Your Shin who can pound a huge boulder with branches from a tree till it splits in two, can’t get the love?).
                    Halfway through I think the show is epic, as good if not better than any sageuk I have seen, but I am afraid that it will lose some of its steam from here on out.

                    1. BE

                      So I kept on binging, and while still spectacular, as I suspected political intrigue while well done, would be a bit less exciting. My thoughts at this point, vis a vis QSD. While Bidam is certainly an interesting character, he does not as yet stand out to me as much as several other male characters, Yuh Shin, and to a lesser degree, Alcheon, and General Seol Won. He has the charisma, quirkiness and derring do, I get the attraction, but insofar as the story so far 2/3 the way through, I would in no way compare Bidam with Dae Gil, simply not in the same category. He is one of several interesting supporting male characters, but there is nothing he does that compares, so far, with Yuh Shin in the Bijae competion.

                      Chuno is the story of Dae Gil. Queen Seon Deok is the story of Mishile and Deokman. And I would go so far as to be on the side of those who would on the dint of Go Hyun Jung’s performance say it is actually the story of Mishile. She is a villain, but so much more, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, characters I have watched in historical K Dramas, enacted by an absolutely bravura performance. If you would ask me who I would compare to Jang Hyuk as Dae Gil, I would respond Go Hyun Jung as Mishile. You hate her and cannot ever take your eyes off her–that one-two-three punch of brilliant beyond comparison, dripping erotic power, and blatantly without apology ruthlessly charismatic, and in all those slow mo facial pans, because everyone else gets a lot voice overs, the lack of the same for Mishile also makes me constantly wonder what is she thinking. What is working in that amazing mind of hers?
                      I was interested to find that Kim Nam Gil (Bidam), besides acting has done production work as well, and is the CEO of a non profit dedicated to preserving Korean cultural heritage and providing emergency relief funding to people in need.

                    2. Snow Flower

                      @BE, I am happy that you are enjoying QSD. It is from the same writing team that gave us 6FD and Tree With deep Toots. Lady Mishil is quite something, isn’t she? And Bidam is as entertaining as only a handsome loose cannon or a sword without a handle can be.
                      To get back to Chuno: you quoting Hamlet got me thinking about parallels between Daegil and the Prince of Denmark. How do they compare? How are they different?

        2. BE

          The Crowned Clown is very good. I saw it after I had seen Masquerade, the film starring Lee Byung Hun, who does a bang up job, especially in the comedic sections, upon which The Crowned Clown elaborates. The root story is actually from Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper. I liked both film and series, but I am glad I saw the film first.

    2. BE

      While it is clear to me that Left State Minister is meant to be purely evil, nothing more. I think the show runners are trying to provide a human understanding with regard to Hwang. Hwang is perhaps the only someone in the show more psychologically screwed up than Dae Gil, albeit we at least are privy to the why with Dae Gil.
      Hwang as some serious inadequacy and inferiority issues; the twentieth century, especially in developing post colonial nations are riddled with men coming to power as outsiders even more ruthlessly violent than Commander Hwang. It caught my attention that when Tae Ha was explaining to Eon Nyeon how he became a slave he noted that he had been betrayed by a man whom he considered his best friend. Although there may be a case to be made he was referring to Han Seom, because Han Seom was not his actual betrayer, because Hwang was, and because in Tae Ha’s flashback Hwang was the one immediately on screen arresting him, I tend to think he was referring to Hwang. When Tae Ha confronts Hwang on the beach, Tae Ha refers to a previous friendship, and knowing the uncanny and complete honesty with which Tae Ha speaks, his code of honor, one can assume he was sincere in bringing that up. But Hwang remembers the whole relationship differently–he saw Tae Ha’s noble disposition as something other than some sort of chivalrous ideal, but rather a posture of arrogance. Easy to see why anyone might view Tae Ha thus, but especially someone so utterly lacking in self esteem (how else can we understand his previous murders, his skeezy ambition). Don’t get me wrong: next to the Left State Minister, for me Hwang is far and away the most despicable character in this drama, but I do think the writer wanted us to see him in more human terms as another victim of the social caste system of his age and how a lesser man with great ambitions and skills might become a sociopath.

    3. Snow Flower

      @Trent, I can totally imagine your first paragraph read by a character actor with a deep voice straight from a movie trailer!

      1. Trent

        “In a world where not all can breath the air of freedom, a few brave souls flee lives of misery and oppression, pursued by harsh, crafty men, men tormented by their own inner demons…the Slave Hunters. In the clash between pursuers and the pursued; hunters and the hunted, who shall prevail?”


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