Open Thread: Chuno Episodes 15 & 16

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! We are officially in Show’s second half, and boy, does a lot go down. I hope you guys are ready to chat about Chuno episodes 15 & 16! 😱

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 15

Ack. This was an episode brimming with bloodshed, and it’s all (well, mostly) because of Commander Hwang. 😭

It was really hard to watch General Choi’s growing desperation as he fought Commander Hwang, and it was just as hard to see Commander Hwang’s increasing advantage over General Choi. Like I mentioned when we talked about the previous episode, part of General Choi’s disadvantage, besides being not as skilled as Commander Hwang, is his emotional investment in Wangson’s fate. That moment, when General Choi cries over Wangson’s motionless body, before Commander Hwang slices him down, is so heartbreaking. 😫

I’m not surprised that Dae Gil takes this all very, very hard, and is essentially one provocation short of actually losing his mind. He may have acted tough and gruff with General Choi and Wangson, but he really does regard them as family, and the thought that he’s lost them forever, is just too much for him to bear. I hate that he was mean to Seol Hwa (poor Seol Hwa), but I can understand that he’s in no frame of mind to take care of someone else, when his own world is falling apart.

Commander Hwang is so sneaky-evil. The way he uses the knowledge that Dae Gil is somehow connected to Tae Ha because Dae Gil calls out Tae Ha’s name, is terrible but clever. Sending Dae Gil a note in Tae Ha’s name – along with personal artefacts belonging to General Choi and Wangson no less – telling Dae Gil not to pursue him, is just the thing to send Dae Gil on Tae Ha’s tail in a big way.

It’s so poignant that Dae Gil now chooses to wear those personal artefacts on himself, to remember General Choi and Wangson. It feels like he’s using those items to signify their presence with him, even if they’re not with him in person. 💔

And just as Dae Gil’s determined to find Tae Ha, who’s supposedly killed General Choi and Wangson, in a similar fashion, Ji Ho is determined to honor his fallen boys, and take revenge for them. The way he goes to great lengths, just to be able to pay his respects to them, with the pouring of the wine, says a lot about his loyalty to them.

I’m a little nervous about Ji Ho being taken away by Constable Oh, though. Ugh. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since we’ve already seen what Constable Oh did to Horse Doctor, but his duplicity still shocks me. He’d been praising Ji Ho not too long ago, promising a long and mutually profitable partnership – and now he’s surrounding Ji Ho with men, to drag him to the capital bureau? Constable Oh deserves to have the same done to him, seriously.

Eonnyeon doesn’t manage to bring herself to tell Tae Ha about her slave background, but Tae Ha is gentle and understanding, assuring her that she doesn’t have to talk about it if she doesn’t want to. Tae Ha does strike me as a gentle and understanding husband, even though he’s coming across as generally very bland, at the moment. I do like his approach, of focusing more on the future than dwelling on the past.

Tae Ha does speak his mind at the meeting with the scholars, and he does embrace the Little Prince when Eonnyeon invites him to – which is a poignant callback to the flashback when he’d declined to embrace his child, and then the child had died – but unfortunately for him, Commander Hwang has no intention of letting them go about their way to accomplish their missions. The way he kills everyone on sight without even showing a shred of remorse or regret, even though some of these men are people whom he knows, is really cold.

It really feels like our key characters have all lost the people who are quasi-family to them. Dae Gil’s lost General Choi and Wangson; Ji Ho has lost his boys; Tae Ha’s lost his brothers in arms. This means that the number of characters in our drama world who are driven by deep loss, is only increasing.

The only group that actually appears to gain a member, potentially, is the rebel slave faction, with the appearance of the new guy, who saves Eop Bok and Ggeutbong after their targets trick them with a couple of decoys. It’s extremely suspicious that right after we see Left State Councilor talk to his lackey about a merchant named Hong who won’t give up his stash of water ox horns, our slave rebels receive instruction to make Merchant Hong their next target. Ugh. How devious, that Left State Councilor is basically using the slaves’ discontent at the social order of the times, for his own evil purposes. I grudgingly concede that Left State Councilor is something of an evil genius.

Eonnyeon and Dae Gil finally come face to face, and the way she clasps her chest, it’s almost as if she feels his presence before she sees him, which makes no sense, but if it’s true, is quite remarkable. Dae Gil’s expression is hollow and jaded, and his words, gruff and cold. Which is why I find Eonnyeon’s question about whether he’s thought of her, even just once, quite inappropriate. But, I rationalize that he was her one great love, and she’d carried him in her heart all these years, until very recently. I suppose she would wonder if he’d reciprocated that longing that she’d had for him.

Our episode ends with Dae Gil putting the head of General Choi’s spear to Eonnyeon’s neck, as Tae Ha holds the blade of his woldo to Dae Gil’s. I know this is supposed to be a dramatic, tension-filled moment, but my mind can’t help but irreverently see this as the Joseon version of the three-way wrist grab, ha. 😆😅

Episode 16

Even though we’ve talked about how Eonnyeon can be a frustrating character to watch sometimes, I do have to hand it to her for putting her own life on the line, to protect Dae Gil and Tae Ha from each other. Seriously, if not for her, one or both of them would have died, in that day-long duel that they engage in. Or, they might’ve never made it to that duel; they might’ve sliced each other down, right there in front of the seowon.

However, because she throws herself in front of first Dae Gil, and then Tae Ha, the signal she sends is clear: they are both important to her, and she doesn’t want either of them to die. And so, even as Tae Ha and Dae Gil battle it out, they both hold themselves back from actually killing each other, even though they both have the opportunity to deal the death blow.

On that note, I have to say, I found the fight between Dae Gil and Tae Ha quite funny, though I’m sure it was not intended to be funny. First of all, the way Dae Gil unleashes Tae Ha’s mane of glory is quite the stretch. I’m sure the slicing off of a top knot would not result in the wavy, billowy ‘do that Tae Ha gets. 😆 Also, as the two men tire, it’s sad-funny how they are literally so tired that they’re both struggling to keep standing, but neither of them will concede defeat. Their blows have gone from intense and powerful, to halfhearted and lame.

It’s telling, though, that Tae Ha cannot accept the truth of Dae Gil’s words, that Eonnyeon used to be a slave. The indignation with which he receives that information, which then drives the desperately aggrieved manner in which he attacks Dae Gil, essentially insisting that Dae Gil take back his words, practically blinds him. He literally can’t think straight, at the idea. I guess this explains why Eonnyeon was so hesitant to tell Tae Ha the truth; she was afraid he would react in exactly this way.

Aside from keeping both Dae Gil and Tae Ha alive, the other important thing Eonnyeon does this episode, is save the Little Prince. If she hadn’t gone after the scholars who’d abducted him, he would’ve died at Commander Hwang’s hands for sure. I have to give credit where it’s due; Eonnyeon kinda turns out to be at least one of this episode’s MVPs.

Another MVP, I feel, is Ji Ho. I kinda love how he basically wriggles his way out of the trap that Constable Oh set for him, in capturing him and taking him back to the capital bureau. The way he screams exaggeratedly, then twists around in his seat, and starts warming his hands over the hot coals, while still tied to his seat, is just iconic. 😆 And, he manages to talk Constable Oh into letting him go, too, by threatening to put the blame on Constable Oh, when a superior comes to question him. Then, he softens the blow, saying they should leave on friendly terms since they have a long journey to walk together. Smart move, Ji Ho. Very smart move.

If I weren’t already highly suspicious of the source of the hit instructions that our rebel slave faction has been receiving, I’d probably be more accepting of the New Guy, who claims to have been the one sending those missives. But, given that I already feel that it’s Left State Councilor who’s been behind everything, I feel like New Guy can only be an undercover agent also sent by Left State Councilor. Also, he’s too well-spoken and clean-faced to be a real slave, no?

The conversation between Eop Bok and Cho Bok is very thought-provoking, I must say. Eop Bok’s question, that in creating a new world, wouldn’t it better to not have yangban and slaves, but to have everyone as equals, makes so much sense. What a mature, objective line of thought, after he’s considered all the “change the world” talk that the rebel faction’s been engaging in.

However, it’s Cho Bok’s response that really gets to the heart of the issue, I feel. With all that she and her family’s suffered at the hands of the yangban, there’s too much unfairness and grievance in her, to not want the yangban to pay for what they’ve done. That’s so true. So many slaves have suffered so extensively at the hands of their masters, that it would be impossible to expect them to suspend their need for justice. I guess that’s exactly what they mean when they say, “An eye for an eye, and the world goes blind.”

Dae Gil’s egg-eating scene is as iconic as ever, even on my third viewing. That flashback that he has, of General Choi and Wangson bantering over the egg that’s always hidden in General Choi’s rice, is so deeply poignant, now that he’s sitting there alone, with only their personal artefacts keeping him company. With each bite of the egg that Dae Gil takes, his grief becomes more and more apparent, and his heaving sobs are so hard to watch. He looks so.. broken, even as he cries, while holding that remnant of egg. Sob. 😭💔

I seriously hate that in this most vulnerable of moments, Dae Gil gets captured like an animal, with a rope around his neck, and is hauled in for torture and questioning at the capital bureau, alongside Tae Ha. Talk about hitting someone when he’s down. This was definitely a hit below the belt, to my eyes – but I guess Constable Oh and his ilk haven’t ever shown themselves to be truly interested in fairness and justice.

When the interrogating officer demands to know if Dae Gil’s seen the Little Prince, it’s not all that surprising to me, that Dae Gil refuses to cooperate with a straight answer. For all of his dark talk about being the worst man in Joseon, he has a good heart, and it just feels in character for him to protect a child, even though it means that he will be beaten and tortured for it. Of course, it might also have something to do with the fact that Eonnyeon’s connected to the child, though I’d like to think that Dae Gil would have protected the Little Prince, even without Eonnyeon in the picture.

Also, Tae Ha’s dark eyes are back. It seems like he’s fiercest when Eonnyeon’s not around? Hur. I confess that in this moment, I thought Tae Ha looked pretty intense – until we see Dae Gil in a similar position. Now he looks positively ferocious. 🤩😅 How will Dae Gil and Tae Ha get out of this dicey situation, especially with Commander Hwang right there, ready and waiting to torture them to death? 😬

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Drama Fan
4 months ago

I’ve always enjoyed these episodes when Daegil and Taeha start interacting more. I love their dialogues but I admit that sometimes I have to repeat them in order to fully grasp what is been said, and even then I’m not 100% sure I’m understanding. So I’m going to transcribe some of those, to see if that helps me and I will post them here too, in case anyone is on the same boat. Sorry it’s going to be long

Dialogues between Daegil and Taeha while they rest, before Daegil takes Taeha to the police.
Viki version (Ill contrast with Dark Site’s version if the dialogue differs in interesting ways):

Taeha: For what reason are you relentlessly pursuing me?

Daegil: Why would slave hunters need reasons to do what they do? When slaves run away we just go catch, and bring them back

Taeha: Who gave you your orders?

Daegil: I don’t take things like that. I only take money.

Taeha: What do you think of just killing me? (Wow! Taeha was really in a mood huh? Was it because his friends just got killed plus the news of Unnuyn?)

Daegil, stares at him a bit and says “I will, but before that, just tell me where my men are”.

Taeha: I can’t say

Daegil puts his sword on Taeha’s neck “TThat’s why I’m going to kill you”.

Taeha: Now tell me, what you said about her being your house slave, what did you mean by that?

Daegil: Because you were once a noble, does it bother you? In the “Dark site” his answer is this: Why, is my having a past as yangban all that vexatious?

Taeha (almost like he is talking to himself) My wife… was a slave?

Daegil: What difference does that make? Separating nobles and commoners into different classes…what does that matter? All that matters is that you’ve give your hearts to each other

Taeha: Even so, people’s roots are an extremely strict matter

Daegil: It’s because of men like you that this world is such a hellhole. If men like you didn’t exist, then men like me would never have come into existence either. Dark Site – It’s because people like you are in power, that this world is wretched (Taeha reacted to this. It seems Daegil struck a nerve)

Daegil: I don’t know why you went to Jeju Island. You jerk, you only want to return to your previous position. There’s no other reason than that. To live nosily like you once did before. (Dark Site: You want to return to the past. You must be eager to return to all that luxury which surrounded your life) Could Daegil be projecting a bit here? Could he also be missing his own yangban life? The thought suddenly came to me.

Taeha: What rights do you have to say that? You who go around finding justice in Korea, you harmed innocent people and slugged around like a thug – Dark Site – You spuriously parade the streets on the pretext of restoring public order, but it is likely that all you do is torment innocent people (TH has a point)

Daegil: Of course, that is how I can survive. In this world where that is the only way to survive. The type of world that nasty people like you made.

Taeha: Then, what about you? Did you ever try to change this kind of world?

Daegil laughs his sarcastic laugh, Hey slave, I mean, slave noble, (Gosh I loooove his voice and sarcasm when he slowly says “Nobi, yang..ban” lol) You know Hong Gildong? (Korean Robin Hood) He used magic-like tricks but he still could not change the world. A slave hunter who can’t never do tricks like that, try to change the world?

Taeha: The world does not change due to tricks. It is people

Daegil: No matter what any loser says about this low down world. It will never change.

Taeha: The words, “the world will never change”, don’t’ say it so easily, there are people… who fear those words the most.
I meant to transcribe Chobok and Eopbok’s dialogue too, because it was very interesting but this is already too long

P.S Now that I rewatched, I take back what I said about Unnyun “knowing” that Daegil was not intending to kill her. I guess she did not know or feel what I thought (that was probably me, projecting lol) I see that Unnyun was literally just offering her life in exchange for Taeha’s. I was very happy when she told Taeha who Daegil was (and that Daegil got to hear from her lips, that she did love him. I know this probably hurts him more, since they can no longer ever be and also kills his “revengy buzz”, but just knowing that she was thinking of him like that, should be of some consolation (?)) Also, Jang Hyuk does that love/hate thing so so sooo well. How he can project both emotions at the same exact time.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Thank you, Drama Fan!

agent155
agent155
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Much appreciated, Drama Fan.

Drama Fan
4 months ago

I’m finally able to rewatch ep 16. I just wanted to say. Me and my mom always laugh at the Daegil-Taeha longest fight ever. It is hilarious and I suspect it wasn’t 100% supposed to be serious, maybe tragi-comic. Or maybe that’s how it came off. But especially towards the end when Daegil is resting on top of Taeha, its too funny to me. Like yeah yeah we’ll get to the killing each other part but let me take a break here.

agent155
agent155
4 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

@KFG;@Drama Fan: This is what I found confusing about the fight; it was not a great fight, didn’t seem really serious and at the end as they both collapsed from exhaustion, neither seemed like the winner and I was actually expecting them to walk away with a lot of respect for each other and to almost bond after this exhausting fight. To my big surprise, Tae-ha walks away meekly bound by Dae-gil; this has serious consequences which goes against any of the fight’s comic overtones. This is actually the most dissonant moment for me about an otherwise very good show so far.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  agent155

I would imagine Song Tae Ha feeling shocked because of EN’s true identity, but there is no way he would abandon his grand cause and the little prince because of that. Maybe DG could have played dirty and whacked TH unconscious, but then he’d have to drag TH all the way to Seoul. I guess the writer wanted both of them to end up in the torture chamber, but that was not the smoothest way to achieve this narrative goal. But the egg eating scene made me forget the plot hole…

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

I think our TaeHa should’ve looked more shocked. Like when Daegil used to get into a trance every time Unnyun’s name was mentioned. He was always out of it and one time he almost got killed. Since Unnyun is kryptonite I could’ve maybe bought it if Taeha had maybe fainted from the shock 🤣

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Tae Ha does love Eon Nyeon, but she is not his kryptonite. She does not have the same hold on him as she has on poor Dae Gil.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

I know I know! I was joking a bit, but also trying to find some justification for Taeha passively letting Daegil take him 😋 I have nothing!

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Tae Ha is also disappointed by the scholars’ attitude. He realizes that they are not really interested in changing the system, just seeking power. So maybe he knows that the whole grand plan is not going to end up well. He did express a desire to beg the current Crown prince to pardon the little prince, but the scholars would have none of that. Maybe by letting himself be captured and brought to Seoul he was hoping to get an audience with the current Crown prince and ask for the pardon? His brothers in arms were also not very excited at the possibility of armed conflict, because that would put them against fellow soldiers.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  agent155

Agreed! Now that I rewatched the scene I absolutely find the dissonance. Not a problem with the fight itself (since clearly they didn’t have an intention to kill each other, well Taeha certainly didn’t want to and Daegil couldn’t go through even if he wanted to want it) BUT! Why did Taeha so passively allowed Daegil to take him to a certain death all of a sudden? Recalling his words to Unnyun before going to the fight “It will end quickly and nothing bad will happen” lol (Ok now that sounds kinda funny given what actually happened)

agent155
agent155
4 months ago

It was very sad to see General Choi fall victim to Hwang like Wangson, and Dae-gil’s grief is unfathomable. I’m not sure how anyone can survive with their two closest friends/family members gone and the love of his life, Eon-nyeon in another’s arms, seeing all this in a short space of time. Dae-gil’s pain in just reaching for Eon-nyeon is conveyed so achingly just through his hand reaching out to touch her in the confrontation with Tae-ha. I agree with one of the previous comments that Lee Da-hae comes through strongly in these two episodes. Her pain and confusion in the interchange with Tae-ha and Dae-gil dominate that scene and manifest themselves in her willingness to sacrifice herself to prevent bloodshed between the two men she has strong feelings for.

Ji-ho continues to surprise and impress, native cunning gets him out of a tricky situation, and the depth of his loyalty to his crew is unexpected and surprising; he plots to avenge them even knowing he’s no match for Hwang in combat.

As another has commented, I didn’t really buy Dae-gil overcoming Tae-ha, the fight seems very even up to that point, and then Tae-ha being led meekly to the Left State Councillor by Dae-gil again seems improbable. Tae-ha has proven several times to be about the best warrior in the land and is he that taken aback by the news that Eon-nyeon was a slave that this allows Dae-gil to defeat him. Tae-ha continues to be a disappointing character as I suspected he might be, a great, tradition bound warrior with little character growth. As opposed to Eon-nyeon displaying considerable resourcefulness and inner strength in protecting the prince and in coming between her two loves. I don’t want to criticize Oh Ji-ho’s acting since I think he was directed this way but he’s kind of a dull, flat character.

This series continues to be emotionally draining and with unexpected twists, I certainly didn’t expect to see Dae-gil capture Tae-ha and turn him over to the authorities and then for both of them to end up jailed and potentially facing execution. Can’t wait to see how they escape this trap or maybe only one will, who knows? Ji-ho also ended up in the same place but talked himself out of it, can’t see either Dae-gil or Tae-ha achieving the same especially with Hwang preparing to torture them. Hwang casts a dark shadow over the whole show, an ominous, heartless, killing machine dressed in black, on a path of his own, a Frankenstein who has escaped his master’s control.

Leslie
Leslie
4 months ago

Does anyone have a link/source for a live performance of any songs on the Chuno OST? In particular Gloomy30s-Change and MC Sniper-Foal (any will do, though.) I listen to the ST on YouTube regularly, but am really interested in seeing the songs being performed by their artists. Maybe because the physical is so central to Chuno?

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

I have seen several piano covers, and also a haegeum performance of “Lovers” (accompanied by an orchestra), but I have never found videos with the original artists performing the Chuno songs. Stigma in particular is so emotional, I would love to see the singer’s facial expression…

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Leslie
BE
BE
4 months ago

Sorry so late.
So here are some things I really liked in no particular order.

I liked Jang Hyuk as Dae Gil in his scene with Seol Hwa, the fierce cruel to be kind brush off, and every bit as much, Seol Hwa’s heartbreaking–who has managed to escape such in an unrequited but powerful passion–inevitable loser of a love confession. The heart of the matter to paraphrase Dae Gil, even if he were so inclined, after his revelation of seeing Eon Nyeon and with Wang Son and the General gone missing, in his mind likely killed, after a decade living the violent life of a bounty hunter with its attendant guilt tucked under his skin, what could he possibly have inside for Seol Hwa, who however street wise, is nonetheless ten years his younger, a kid really. We say Dae Gil is in many ways an immature man, but in many others he is old, bitter, and cynical almost beyond repair. And yet he has the compassion for Seol Hwa to hit her with the hard truth, no sugar coating on it.
I liked Jang Hyuk as Dae Gil when he confronts Eon Nyeon. I spoke in an earlier post about Jang Hyuk playing Hamlet, and this scene particularly reminds me of the scene in which Ophelia returns Hamlet’s love letters, and Hamlet responds with the abject outrage with which a lover betrayed is bound to respond. So vindictive, so aimed directly at the brain, the heart, the gut, the nether regions. Especially when she speaks of happiness, and as we all know, right now and in part because of her, and in the moment played by Commander Hwang, her lover/husband–the personification to Dae Gil of her betrayal, even the word “happiness” lodged in his brain represents the worst sort of inaccuracy for his life in the moment, perched upon a branch of murdering his paramour and her lover in a fit of revenge,,,and her own impending doom and the doom of her husband. Where, indeed, is the happiness in any of that? Rage, despair, remorse, horror, all yes, but happiness? Happiness…well how much salt can one throw on that gaping wound? These two scenes are Jang Hyuk at his most ferocious and powerful iterations, just as his egg and rice eating scene before being captured among his very best at expressing grief.
I loved the way Eon Nyeon managed to protect Dae Gil and Song Tae Ha from one another repeatedly putting her own life on the line over and over. One can argue about the directorial restraint put upon Lee Dae Ha or her own limited emotional range as an actor, but one cannot argue with Eon Nyeon, still waters run deep. She is a marvel. And one must also applaud how she managed to save the Crown Prince.

(At his point, that while one wonders if the child was given the same pipe of opium from which one often thinks Oh Ji Ho has on occasion just before one of his talking scenes with Lee Dae Ha been smoking, I must say it is noteworthy how the director always manages to get the exactly correct facial expression from that child to match who or what engages him in any moment.)

Of course, I loved how Ji Ho in the torture room managed to wangle his way out of Officer Oh’s clutches by pointing out how a few quick words and then Oh would be in hot water himself with both Lefty and Hwang, and then even so much as inevitably getting him to go drinking. Team Cheon Ji Ho. I love the fella.

As I have said before, I have no love for Hwang, but while that is so, like everyone else I cannot deny how compelling a figure he continues to be in Chuno. Insofar as personalities go among the male leads, he does stand side by side with Dae Gil and Song Tae Ha. And in that light, I did like how he basically throws down his gauntlet at Minister Kyung Shik, pinning that note on the corpses of Wang Son and Gerneral Choi and returning the two of them on the wagon for Lefty’s perusal. Oh yes yon Hwang has a lean and hungry look!

As much as any of all that, I really liked how Eop Bok rose in stature and humanity. First with the fellow slave who started a fight with him on the eve of when that fellow’s daughter was about to be raped by their master and then sold for a cow to be repeatedly raped by another, how Eop Bok compassionately sits by the man’s side. And how in the course of these scenes the plight of those slaves is both humanized by Eop Bok’s fundamental decency and by the plight of that girl, her family’s plight, and then that of tragedy that had befallen her mother and Cho Bok’s father.

And I quite liked his very thoughtful conversation with Cho Bok, as KFG says ‘an eye for an eye and we all go blind.” Of course on a visceral level, we understand Cho Bok, so well. The raw, open, and festering wound of injustice cries out for retribution, and yet…Eop Bok’s deeper understanding goes to the very heart of the theme in Chuno surrounding Song Tae Ha’s dilemma, Dae Gil’s promise to Eon Nyeon, and the promise provided by the young, unearthly serene Crown Prince, the hope for a better world…one in which, using Biblical terms, the lion lies down with the lamb, the tension between Dae Gil’s now hypercynical view that the world never changes and Eon Nyeon’s abject dread of accepting that change will never occur. And of course, one could look at the long history of Korea, the history of the world, even our own contemporary reality and understand what a grand theme this conflict at the heart of the drama provides. I am with team Eop Bok on this, and wish that Cho Bok might cut him a little slack for not getting that she wanted a piggy back ride for its own sake.

What I did not like…at all.

I do not believe for a second in the fight between Dae Gil and Song Tae Ha. Yes Dae Gil was more desperate, yes Tae Ha was stunned by the news that Eon Nyeon had been a slave and was having difficulty digesting it, yes when it comes to pure boxing skills Dae Gil could compete. However, at a certain point, Tae Ha has much more important business to take care of. He had his mission. He had to wonder if he could realistically leave Eon Nyeon and the Crown Prince ungaurded. Sooner or later, he was going to pick that sword out of the sand, and inform Dae Gil: “enough punk!”
And then walking back to the capital. Give me a break. Maybe other people missed the scene when Tae Ha took down a dozen armed soldiers using only a rope, but I did not. The idea that Tae Ha would remain subdued given his situation and just blandly walk behind Dae Gil…I am willing to put up with the extreme derring do in this series, not to mention the occasional dislocations in time, but nothing I have seen in this drama so far convinces me that Tae Ha would so blandly go along with this.
And I cannot brook the idea that Dae Gil was allowed to leave Lefty’s entourage alive. What has previously occurred in this story to give a watcher the idea that such was possible.
All these scenes seemed to break the internal logic of the drama for me, and appeared more as contrivances to move the plot, thus taking me out of my immersion in it and abusing my willingness to suspend disbelief as a result.

What I understood, but found distateful: I found it a bit hard to stomach, given Dae Gil’s whole point of view about slaves that he lectures Tae Ha when the subject comes up. Dae Gil is the reason folks like Dae Gil exist. I suppose I can understand him getting on his high horse about it with Tae Ha given their respective roles in the drama, but it does not make me think of Dae Gil as some sort of acute observer, rather as a hypocrite.

Finally, what I don’t understand really, and it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I do not understand the purpose of the jumo kidnap scene all that much, except perhaps as a farcical element, maybe in a light way echoing how the Stockholm syndrome works in women in Joseon Chuno as does Eop Bok’s conversation with his fellow slave who swallows whole the worst of his fate. But it makes me uncomfortable watching it, especially given the strong moral element and feminist bend in the rest of the show.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

@BE, I mentioned this in another thread, but I am not sure if you read it. Anyway, how does Dae Gil compare to Hamlet?

Also, I agree with you on Eop Bok. I liked his conversation with Cho Bok. I understand where she is coming from, but it is his thoughtful response that has stayed with me.

BE
BE
4 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

In the particular scene I mentioned, the resemblance was how Dae Gil confronted Eon Nyeon and Hamlet had in perhaps the greatest scene ever written Act 3, Scene 1, confronted Ophelia–the over the top and venomous anger masking the emotionally rending heartbreak at perceived betrayal. Just the complete, implacable, and uncompromisingly hateful verbal attack designed to destroy her psychologically.

In general, I do not find, other than a certain tragic inevitability working in this, Chuno and Hamlet have all that many points of comparison. However, with regard to Jang Hyuk, I most whole heartedly think he would make a great Hamlet. Not the neurotic version, but the passionate, outraged, heart broken Hamlet–Denmark’s greatest genius, fashion plate, celebrity, intellectual, moral compass, all completely twisted by events, and never forget, its greatest swordsman. That Hamlet–I could see Jang Hyuk just wringing the last drop of juice from the role.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

I honestly never questioned that Daegil – Taeha fight before but since you guys emphasized the absolute superiority of Song Taeha as a warrior, then it made me question this. But, I also remember that Daegil defeated a dozen “storm trooper” like soldiers when he wanted to steal their horses. At the time he was fueled by the extra stamina he gets when he thinks he is about to find Unnyun. So maybe Daegil with “the force” is different than Daegil without it. Otoh STH was stunned and both were reluctant to kill each other so how else would this end? I’m not saying I understand why STH “gave up” but he obviously did. Maybe he’ll explain himself better in the next episodes. Also, Daegil and STH’s dialogues are one my favorites in the drama. And I don’t see Daegil as a hypocrite. Isn’t it consistent for him to not care about class systems or protocols? He was naive, now he is cynical but in the end his view is essentially the same “This is all BS”. Wasn’t he always that guy? The one that to me didn’t ring true was the Daegil who insulted the slaves in general when we knew perfectly well his vendetta was against two specific slaves.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

Also, since Daegil was willing to marry a slave, I can see why he finds Taeha’s aprehension, well, dumb. I also found the jumo scene uncomfortable.

BE
BE
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

I don’t know; go back and listen to what Dae Gil has to say about slaves in the entire drama up till now. Not to mention immediately preceding this conversation. The only time I have heard Dae Gil talk about changing the lives of slaves was when he was sparking up Eon Nyeon. Whatever Tae Ha’s perspective, Dae Gil is hardly enlightened, and again the reason there are Dae Gil’s is because of Dae Gil. And Dae Gil was willing to let his slave starve to death, so he wasn’t all that willing to do anything to save her from such a cruel fate, let alone really marry her.

And I do not care what Dae Gil was capable of as a fighting man–the idea that Tae Ha would just, given his situation, play by the rules and keep it all about boxing makes no sense to me, nor does his subdued following Dae Gil to the capital. This has more to do with Tae Ha’s prowess and situation than what I think of Dae Gil. For me, it does not read at all. I love Dae Gil, but I am not blinded to his flaws or limitations as a fighting man in comparison with Tae Ha, because of that.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

I don’t understand exactly what you mean by “the reason there are Daegil’s is because of Daegil” Well, maybe Im confused but I do think he was willing to marry Unnyun. I don’t think there’s anything in the drama that indicates he was lying to her. He had good intentions, he just didn’t have the means or power to fulfill his promise. I’m also (at least I think) not blinded about Daegil, but I just don’t see this in the drama, sorry. Again, maybe further episodes will explain Daegil’s “actual” views better, just like Taeha’s but to me he has been pretty consistent (and so has Taeha)

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

What Im trying to say is its hard for me to take Daegil’s insults at face value because he treats everyone in the same way. He hates the world, everyone is wretched, “Buddha, the world sucks” is the summary of Daegil’s worldview. Cynical, period. But he is not super hang up on social structures as Song Taeha is. Im not saying that Daegil is “better” or enlightened that STH is not perfectly logical provided that his existence is closely tied to defending that structure. But I think it is established in the drama that Daegil cared about said structure. Call him irresponsible, a romantic fool, a naive useless idiot, but how is he to blame for something he wasn’t even willing to participate in? I’d rather blame him for his actual sins, errors, which are plenty enough.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Ugh! Sorry. Writing from my phone is a problem 🙁 I meant to say “Daegil never seemed to care about that structure” But anyway, Ill pay closer attention to this in future episodes. Ive always found Daegil and STH’s exchanges very interesting but I can’t claim to be able to grasp their full depth. So I’m looking forward to everyone’s take on them.

BE
BE
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Dae Gil is formerly a scholar who becomes a slave hunter. He hunts slaves because he feels his family was betrayed by their slaves and because he is looking for Eon Nyeon, for whom he feels quite proprietary. He does these things because he quite upholds the system and its structures. He chooses his own life. He conscripts General Choi, a scholar, to be a slave hunter, and Wang Son, a street pickpocket to be a slave hunter. In the entire series up to this point, with the exception of the one scene where he makes promises to Eon Nyeon, promises he cannot keep even within his own family, a family in which his father raped the mother of his love, Dae Gil never ever shows anything less than contempt for slaves. Blaming Tae Ha because he has a rigid sense of societal structure strikes me as hypocritical whatever tunnel vision Tae Ha is suffering from. And of course, Tae Ha, unlike Dae Gil, is actually on a mission to make for a better world. Of course Dae Gil has no idea of that.
Dae Gil is such a complicated character, such a tragic character, and perhaps your take that a lot of his talk is just that, talk. But I would ask you to think what would you think of someone who similarly and in obscene terms continuously berated women or whatever ethnic group or religion to which you belong? Would you be willing to extend to that individual the grace that it is only bitterness and cynicism being given voice?

I like the back and forth between Tae Ha and Dae Gil too, but not because one character or another has any corner on “the truth,” so much as that they reveal things, as foils do when the writing is good, about each character. Unlike the fight scene, which I just cannot buy, this conversation seems quite in character for both. And reveals a startling tunnel vision that exists in both, at least to me.

An aside, the compassionate Buddha’s own First Noble Truth is, more or less, life sucks.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

Ok thanks for your patience explaining. I can see what you mean, better now. Words do matter (A lot!) so I guess I shouldn’t dismiss Daegil’s insults etc but its just that some of his actions contradict his words so often that I can’t take him too seriously, like when he says General Choi and Wangson are not his family but he acts like they are. Or how harsh he has been with Seolhwa but we know he cares for her. He is constantly pretending to be harder and meaner than he is, like a defense mechanism. Thats why Ive always struggled to know “exactly” how he feels about things, because he has so many contradictions and conflicted feelings. I suppose all of it is “true”, his love and his hate are both true. His generosity and his pettiness can co-exist. He is that complex, he is human, its just that I have a hard time wrapping my head around just how complicated he can be and unconsciously chose to hold on to the “good”. Song Taeha is a much simpler man really and he frustrates me much less. I have no trouble understanding that he has a code, he lives by that code, something disturbs the “order” of things, he struggles. Its pretty simple. With Daegil, “you never know what you are going to get” he is consistent in that too but oh he frustrates me. I can’t claim I totally “get” him. I would like to have known how Daegil actually was before he became a slave hunter. Was he one of those people who “thinks” of themselves as “good people” until he was put to the test and then his ugly side surfaced? We got glimpses of him through flashbacks but I guess I’ll always have trouble fully reconciling my idea of young Daegil and slave hunter Daegil. Like how did he get (internally) from point A to point B. And who exactly is he? Cause like I said, the way he speaks and the way he acts, quite often, don’t correspond.

Ele Nash
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

I agree with most of this, BE, especially inexplicable jumo wrapping and Cho Bok conversation. I think Taehae momentarily lost his head with shock, hence not properly fighting or getting back to the little prince. He’s so rigid in his thinking of slaves that reconfiguring Eunnyeon as one is blowing his mind. I don’t find Daegil hypocritical here. He was a dreamer when young, picturing a world where he could marry his Eunnyeon. Now, with those dreams ravaged, he’s bitter and snarky but fundamentally, for the dreaming young man he used to be, he still wants that world in spite of the fact he can’t now benefit from it. That’s the beauty of Daegil, I think. He can’t fathom why Taehae would care about Eunnyeon once being a slave when he has her in his arms. What does it matter? I’m sure if Daegil could go back in time, he’d raze his own house to the ground to have Eunnyeon as his wife. 😢

BE
BE
4 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

I don’t get this take on Dae Gil. He more than gets why Tae Ha would care. He has just spent every part of his conversation berating Eon Nyeon as a slave to her face, to Tae Ha with her as witness, and in their fight. This idealistic young fella has just spent a decade capturing runaway slaves and returning them to bondage, not to mention the tortures they are likely to endure upon return. The title of this series is not “Idealistic Young Man.”

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

But don’t you “feel” he actually does not mean one single word when he insults Unnuyun? I think the source of his anger is mostly pain and hurt that she didn’t love him enough (like he does) that she talks about happiness when that feeling is not possible for him once she wasn’t in his life. I honestly don’t see Daegil ever thinking Unnyun was “less” than him or as his slave. He is more her slave emotionally than she is his. I understand your view about Daegil being a young scholar and privileged and possibly seeing other slaves as less but I honestly can’t agree that his words to Unnyun were nothing more than him masking his true feelings of love and hurt and jealousy. If he actually felt she owes him anything, he would’ve killed her already and this drama would be over.

Ele Nash
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

Yes, that’s how I take his words to Eunnyeon, Drama Fan. He’s trying to hurt her because he’s in so much pain. How could she be glad he’s alive when he’s been living endless days in misery? That’s his attitude and he’s riled by any thought she’s happy – and with a wretch of a man he wrongly assumes has killed his Wangson and Choi. In Daegil’s frayed mindset, attacking the young dream he once shared with her is the best defence.

Your new title made me snort with laughter, BE. Maybe I am overly sympathetic of Daegil but, even with your argument, I simply don’t read him that way. I think he only became a slave hunter to find Eunnyeon – who better to know potentially where she is than fellow runaway slaves, for he doesn’t know she became a noble. And don’t forget in episode one we’re clearly shown how much trash he talked to the slaves, to everyone, and yet he went back and rescued the mum and her daughter. He is complex and funding his drug (Eunnyeon) habit hunting slaves is a contradiction indeed but I don’t think for one moment he does it because he hates slaves; he does it to find her. He enlists Wangson and Choi because he’s lonely and because he needs practical help and he needs them to go where he choses to go – i.e.: where he hasn’t yet looked for Eunnyeon.

His words are almost always awful but his eyes, his actions, often show his true feelings and I’d always argue his heart is good. Jaded, for sure, but loyal. Ah, flawed. He’s still to me an excellent antihero.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

You made me choke a bit with “attacking the young dream he once shared with her is the best defense” 🥺 I feel so much for Daegil. Also interesting how you compare Unnyun to a drug, ha! Thats so sad, but rings true. His behavior feels certainly self destructive, especially when it comes to his soul. There’s also much self hatred in him. And of course rarely anyone is fooled by his harsh words. Family, what family? We are just hanging together (General Choi knows what is truly in his heart) How can a cry for a mere slave? Hahaha Never! (SeolHwa knows exactly why his heart is bleeding) his eyes, his demeanor, his pain, his actions, almost always constantly contradict his words.

Ele Nash
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

We so all need to write the script for: Daegil, The Jiho Years! I imagine Daegil, scarred by a slash to the face, by his parents’ murders, by the destruction of his home and anything precious he owned in the fire, and by the loss of his Eunnyeon, must have been constantly choking on hard boiled eggs. Poor guy. Who can really blame him for becoming as snarly as a wounded dog. Actually, maybe we shouldn’t write the script. It hurts just to imagine how alone he must have been, not a noble, not a slave, no means to access training in a profession. Only Jiho, cackling like a mad thing, offering him a gig as a slave hunter. No wonder he fixated on the only pure dream he had left, reuniting with Eunnyeon. 😢

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

So well said, @Ele Nash.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  BE

Btw Unnyun knows perfectly well how Daegil actually feels about her and that she has power over him and that his words (in this case) are just words and him trying to hide his truer deeper pain (not saying he is not frustrating) If not, her standing in front of Taeha to protect him, would be pointless. She knows Daegil was not going to kill her.

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Regarding the world, Daegil may be a mess of contradictions but regarding Unnyun I think he has proven he loves her more than anything. His love for her surpasses any other feeling for her (or prejudice, if he ever had it) so obviously he does not understand Taeha. I agree 100% with this take.

Ele Nash
4 months ago

Ooh, these episodes are so good! Can I have a Jang Hyuk fangirl moment?! I saw something where he (jokingly) said he’d rather people thought he was handsome than a good actor. Maybe he is vain – aren’t we all – but what I love about him as an actor is that he leaves any vanity behind. The egg half-choke, half-cry is a perfect example. Daegil generally can’t help but look incredible but in despair he looks anything but. Grief in all its raw ugliness. Like the scene where Daegil brawls his eyes out on the street, it’s SO hard to watch but so honest and uncomfortable. This is why I love Jang Hyuk’s acting. No varnish. 😍

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

YES! To all of this. His commitment to the role is 100%

Princess Jasmine
4 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Totally agree on this one….Jang Hyuk is etched in my memory as Dae-gil forever…

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

I am watching Robber now and his facial expressions are mesmerizing. Not quite the same intensity as Dae Gil ( it would not have worked for a modern-day character), but still compelling. And the character is not that likeable to begin with!

Drama Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Snow Flower

Robber!!!! That drama is sort of a “guilty pleasure” for me. It’s my most rewatched JH drama even thought its not his best but I just love love love it.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  Drama Fan

I am now invested in the other characters too! It is painful seeing JH’s character getting beaten up in pretty much every episode…

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago

More impressions from Episodes 15-16:

Dae Gil has gone rogue. He was never quite sane to begin with, but Wang Son and especially General Choi kept him in check. With them gone, he has become unhinged. The emotional meeting with Eon Nyeon is one of the highlights of these episodes. Driven by anger, jealousy, and despair, Dae Gil chose not to to reveal his desperate longing to Eon Nyeon, but he still barely controlled his emotions.
The legendary egg scene is as powerful as ever. Compared to Daegil’s primal scream in Episode 13, the egg scene felt more like a final realization that his world has now collapsed completely. Eating hard boiled eggs has never been the same for me since my first Chuno watch…

Cheon Ji Ho warming his hands on the coals used for torture while talking his way out of prison is another classic scene.

At the gisaeng house, we now have Ms. Smile 2, who is even more Machiavellian than Ms. Smile 1.

I agree with Trent that Big Jumo’s plan was not cool. I am glad that it backfired on her. As for Artist Bang, he is as slimy as ever, but he is a pretty good artist actually. His renditions of Little Jumo and Commander Hwang were rather spot on.

How did Commander Hwang know that Dae Gil was literate? I agree with kfangurl that his plan to frame Tae Ha for what happened to General Choi and Wangson was devious, but his handwriting was rather elegant.

Poor Seol Hwa…I felt so bad for her when Dae Gil hit her. I understand that he was doing this to make himself repulsive to her, so that she would stop following him, but still…On the other hand, if she had followed him to Seoul, she would have been arrested too…

Trent
4 months ago

Alright, so here’s the thing. I’ve been generally enjoying this first-time watch of the show. There have been a couple points where I felt like it was taking its time getting to the point, but no problem sticking with it or staying engaged. But these two eps are the first where I’ve really been fully absorbed, and the first where I got to the end of the last ep (ep. 16) and wanted to immediately keep watching on ahead (I resisted, just because I want to try to stay in sync with the group watch). This was where a lot of the disparate threads and the building tension started to come together.

Not that I had really been predicting what would happen (beyond a general “yeah, this is not going to end well for anyone, is it”), but I definitely didn’t foresee, for instance, Tae Ho and Daegil captured and thrown in the torture chamber together. My mind was immediately abuzz with all the “bitter enemies discover that in mutual adversity they are bros” possibilities. We shall see, I suppose.

A couple of more minor observations, I guess. The first is that I had just assumed that Tae Ho already realized Eunyeon’s slave background when he was first treating her sickness and saw the burn scar on her upper breast. I guess I was giving him too much credit to think he would have figured out that that was a scar concealing her slave brand. On the one hand, it’s a bit disappointing to find him all “no way! my pure innocent Eunyeon could never have been a SLAVE,” but on the other hand, it’s probably a pretty realistic attitude for an upright Confucian dude like Tae Ho, even if it is disappointing.

Second observation, the epic Tae Ho – Daegil fight was great and all, but I was particularly pleased that this was the first example I can recall in this show at least that seemed to deal at all seriously with how utterly exhausting full out personal combat is. All of these “bad-ass warriors take down ten guys without breaking a sweat” scenes are unrealistic not just because of the skill involved, but because it is flat out super-tiring to fight like that. Back when I was a lot younger, I had a boxing class, full contact, and even though I was in pretty decent shape, you go three rounds all out in the ring with someone, and you can end up feeling like a limp noodle. So I’m not at all surprised to see these mighty super warriors stumbling around barely able to hold their hands up…I thought that was the most realistic part of the fight, to be honest. (I am a bit surprised that Daegil came out on top, because it never seemed clear to me the point at which he prevailed; felt more like Tae Ho at a certain point just didn’t care anymore?)

And finally, I have to say a few words about the Jumos, because I am deeply disturbed or at least unhappy with show’s treatment there…how elder jumo just blatantly tried to sell out younger jumo for what (lets not mince words here) would have basically been rape if it had succeeded. And is the show trying to tell us that it’s karmic justice that she got seized instead? (I did feel a real pang of sympathy when crusty old painter dude whipped off his dirty sock to gag her with). I mean, I get that she was trying to clear the field for herself for when General Choi returns (which, alas, unknown to her he is not going to do anytime soon), but that somehow excuses her conspiring to get younger Jumo abducted and debauched? Just…no. Not cool.

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago
Reply to  Trent

The fight between DG and TH was so exhausting, even the snow around them melted!

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
4 months ago

EonNyeon is really the MVP in these episodes. She is the only one who can stop Dae Gil and Tae Ha from killing each other. Also, her quick thinking saves the little prince from the deadly clutches of Commander Hwang. I liked how EN used Scholar Jo’s sexist attitude to her advantage.

Tae Ha’s world is turned upside down once he learns from Dae Gil that Eon Nyeon is a runaway slave. That revelation, together with his reluctance to kill Dae Gil, make it possible for Dae Gil to defeat him. He does not even try to escape on the way to Seoul. I did like the existential conversations between DG and TH. We really see how they are shaped by their different worldviews.

j3ffc
4 months ago

Oh my, so much death, so little time! Besides the ruthless cutting down of Tae Ha’s men, we had General Choi’s battle and Dae Gil’s truly heartbreaking meal “with” his lost comrades. Beautifully, beautifully acted and touching. (An aside: I’ve noted in so many dramas how the bestowment of an egg seems to be an act of high kindness and love : is this true IR(K)L or just a drama thing?) And the two major re-unitements we’ve been waiting for: Eonnyeon with Dae Gil as well as Dae Gil with Tae Ha. I thought the three-way swordfest was sort of Tarantino-esque, but I was really impressed with both Eonnyeon’s will to Stop Things and her faith in DG’s and TH’s skill to pull their blows when she got in their way. Wow. And one more thing with that scene: when Dae Gil was reaching toward Eonnyeon to push her out of the line of battle, you could just see how hard it was for him to even touch her for that purpose. Again, beautifully acted.

I found it a stretch that Tae Ha would essentially capitulate and let Dae Gill just drag him to town. On the other hand, Ji Ho’s survival skills are become more and more evident as w move along.

Finally, I understand that there must be some unwritten rule that you are allowed to introduce a new character 2/3 of the way through a 24 episode drama (even though he was spoken of earlier, this was the first time we saw kfangurl’s aptly-named New Guy). But there is also a rule that I am allowed to be annoyed by such introduction until it turns out to be dramatically awesome.

Continued thanks to all who suggested this watch. It has exceeded expectations and and eased the last few weeks. Take care, y’all.

Trent
4 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Yes, agreed on the Tarantino-esque part. One bit I forgot to include in my comment is that that bit reminded me of the big standoff in Reservoir Dogs, just with blades rather than guns.

And I give a lot of credit to Eunyeon here for bravely thrusting herself between the boys, not once but twice. That was a serious level of just don’t give a f— on her part.