Open Thread: Chuno Episodes 21 & 22

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Our Little Prince is such a cutie pie that when he picked up Seol Hwa’s haegeum, I couldn’t resist letting him headline this post. Isn’t he adorable? 🤩

I hope you guys are ready to chat about Chuno episodes 21 & 22! 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 21

Well. It’s been long enough since my last watch, that a lot of events – particularly at this late juncture of our story – feel fresh to my eyes. I’d been expecting Commander Hwang to storm our Mt. Worak community, but instead, Tae Ha and Dae Gil leave separately, only to agree to journey together – thus accidentally luring Commander Hwang and his men away from Mt. Worak.

I’m relieved for our Mt. Worak community, certainly, because they aren’t at all equipped to face-off with a highly skilled killing machine like Commander Hwang or any of his merry men. Also, I’m actually sincerely surprised that Dae Gil essentially volunteers to accompany Tae Ha on his journey. Given that he isn’t that fond of Tae Ha, and especially given that Tae Ha’s now Eonnyeon’s husband, I’d imagined that Dae Gil would have wanted nothing to do with Tae Ha.

Because of this, I’m quite moved, really, by Dae Gil’s reason for choosing to journey with Tae Ha. He says that it’s because he can’t bear to see Tae Ha and Eonnyeon prancing about under his nose anymore, and therefore wants to help them get out of his sight for good, but that’s basically a gruff way of saying that he’s going to help keep Tae Ha safe, because he’s Eonnyeon’s husband, isn’t it?

Given that this is the pained, tearful expression that Dae Gil gives General Choi, as he tells General Choi to take care of himself and Wangson, as a parting shot, I can only imagine the depth and complexity of Dae Gil’s heartache. And yet, in the midst of that acute heartache, where he admits that he can’t bear to look at Eonnyeon everyday now, even though in the past, he couldn’t bear being separated from her, Dae Gil chooses a path that will contribute towards Eonnyeon’s well-being and safety. Guh. That’s selfless and noble of him, I do think. 💔

Speaking of heartache, there sure is a lot of it going around, this episode.

I really felt for Seol Hwa, as she wrestled with the realization that even when she changes her behavior to be more genteel like Eonnyeon, Dae Gil simply won’t look at her. The way her eyes shine with tears, even as she forces a smile on her lips, is heartbreaking.

It moves me too, that part of the reason Seol Hwa cries, is because of Dae Gil’s pain. She sees it, and even asks Eonnyeon why she appeared, only to tear Dae Gil’s heart into pieces. Even though Dae Gil resolutely won’t look at Seol Hwa romantically, it’s clear to see that she would actually make a good match for him, not least because she sees him and understands him, even though he puts up gruff walls all the time.

I do like the budding sisterhood between Eonnyeon and Seol Hwa, though, and I appreciate Eonnyeon for being gentle and gracious with Seol Hwa. I especially like how Eonnyeon tells shows Seol Hwa what her name likely looks like, and explains to her what it likely means, telling her that she’s as beautiful as a snow flower (which she is). It’s no wonder Seol Hwa wants to address Eonnyeon as “Unnie.”

Elsewhere, Cho Bok suddenly finds her world falling apart, as she gets the news that she’s soon to be married, because her master has made a deal to exchange her for a calf and a male varlet. The tearful way she watches Eop Bok from afar, is full of pathos too. It’s too bad that Cho Bok won’t tell Eop Bok what’s bothering her, and Eop Bok is all befuddled at Cho Bok’s foul mood and insistent questions about when they will actually change the world.

New Guy is getting our slave rebel faction ready to attack the Tribute Bureau and the Slave Tribunal, and I’m getting nervous, especially at the part where he takes Eop Bok aside to ask him to personally take down any of their own, if they were to get caught. Gah. I know that this is practical and all, but New Guy’s nice facade is starting to show some cracks, I think.

The arc that I found most affecting this hour, though, has to be the loss of Han Seom. 💔

I think it was Snow Flower who said that Choi Jin Woong just has a way of making you feel, when he’s on your screen, and in Han Seom’s final arc in particular, I have to wholeheartedly agree.

Han Seom doesn’t actually say a great deal, in the grand scheme of things, but the earnestness in his expression, and the way his eyes seem to be so full of shining, sincere tears, just gets me in the heart. I can feel Han Seom’s deep shock at Scholar Jo’s betrayal, like it reaches his very bones, and in the way that he throws himself into fighting the soldiers in the end, it’s clear that he’s prepared to fight to the death, even though he knows that it’s a battle he will not win.

My only consolation is the scene that Show gives us, of Han Seom envisioning being reunited with his Court Lady, in the afterlife. It’s so poignant that even in death, Han Seom seems to be unable to forget his pledge and duty, because he keeps looking over his shoulder. And then it’s bittersweet but liberating, to see Han Seom finally make the decision to leave everything behind, at the gentle urging of his Court Lady. I am gutted that we lose Han Seom, but this silver lining, of him reuniting with his lady love, is the best silver lining I could ask for. 😭💔

Later, when Tae Ha finds Han Seom’s body and weeps at the loss of his dear friend, Dae Gil’s respectful distance, as well as his proactive assistance in fighting off the newly arrived soldiers, in order to give Tae Ha space to grieve, kinda-sorta reminds me of how Eop Bok had spared Dae Gil’s life, when he’d been grieving over Ji Ho. It feels like a code of honor of sorts, to give a man time and space to grieve, regardless of one’s grudge with him.

Speaking of Tae Ha and Dae Gil, it’s actually quite refreshing to see them be on the same side now, instead of constantly fighting each other like they did for a while. I also like the philosophical bent that their conversations sometimes take as well. When Dae Gil talks about not trusting any human being walking the earth, it makes me think of that moment when he’d realized that the very slave to whom he’d called for help, was the one who’d set his family home on fire. I feel like this was likely the moment that caused Dae Gil to lose trust in people. Tae Ha’s response, that if Dae Gil trusts no one, then he can’t trust Dae Gil either, is thought-provoking too. A person who doesn’t trust others, doesn’t invite trust either. Tae Ha and Dae Gil unexpectedly make pretty good philosophers, heh.

It doesn’t look like they will have much time for conversation, though, with Commander Hwang hot on their tail. I’m a little perplexed that Commander Hwang is so good at trailing them, but, I’m also relieved that this means that Commander Hwang isn’t attacking Mt. Worak. It looks like things are going to amp up next episode, so I’m bracing myself for what’s to come.

Episode 22

Looks like Jjakgwi is more than all talk; I’m quite shocked, actually, that he manages to trounce our Qing Ambassador’s capable righthand man in a one-to-one fight. Much more impressive than I expected, certainly. It also tickles me that part of the reason Jjakgwi triumphs, is because he doesn’t play by expected rules, and fills his blows with lots of feints, thus throwing off our much more straitlaced, by-the-book Qing Dude. Credit to Seol Hwa, for being thinking and acting fast to get help from Jjakgwi, the moment she saw the intruders.

Also, shout-out to Eonnyeon for the way she questions Qing Dude; I like that she talks and carries herself with dignity and confidence, and never shows that she’s at all intimidated by his claim, that the Little Prince will not be able to survive in Joseon. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Eonnyeon really has grown into her own since we first met her at the beginning of our story. Before, she’d always been so breathless and flaily, and now, she’s consistently grounded and wise, and speaks with a gravitas that’s very different from her early breathy yelps.

One of the best things about this episode, though, has to be the sight of Dae Gil and Tae Ha not only traveling together, but working together, and sometimes just hanging out and sharing philosophical bits of conversation.

What Dae Gil says in response to Tae Ha’s question about having dreamed of changing the world in the past, is so poignant, “Before I experienced reality, I did.” That tired, jaded look in his eyes speaks volumes about how painful the experience was, of experiencing that reality, and losing his dreams.

It says a lot, I think, that even though Dae Gil is completely cynical about the effectiveness of Tae Ha’s plan to seek out the Crown Prince, he goes along with it anyway, and acts as Tae Ha’s lookout and comrade in arms. This is a huge deal, considering that not that long ago, it had been Dae Gil’s burning desire to take down Tae Ha.

Clearly, Dae Gil’s doing all of this for Eonnyeon’s sake, but along the way, I do think that Dae Gil and Tae Ha grow a grudging measure of respect for each other. It’s like seeing a panther and a tiger suddenly getting along, when before they’d been at each other’s throats; it’s novel, fascinating and quite thrilling.

It does amuse me, at the same time, that Dae Gil isn’t above grumbling at Tae Ha for being suffocating, to the extent that he can’t bear the thought of spending a whole day with Tae Ha while sober. Ha. 😆 He’s so casually sarcastic and derisive, and yet, the way he drawls it all, I don’t actually find him offensive. (This, of course, is quite possibly due to my Jang Hyuk-favoring eyes. 😅)

Elsewhere, our rebel slave faction meets fellow rebel slave factions, and New Guy rallies them to attack the Tribute Bureau.

With all that New Guy has done to train the various groups of rebel slaves and gather them together, it does make a pretty convincing case that he’s truly on their side. But then, the very dark, very sly look on his face, just before he slays Cheater Trader, hints otherwise.

My heart was in my throat, watching our rebel slaves storm the Tribute Bureau; they’re armed and all, but in the grand scheme of things, they are quite a small group and they are vulnerable in the face of the law, so I worry for them. It feels like so much could go wrong at any time. 😝

I feel really bad for Eop Bok, who has to make good on his promise to New Guy, to shoot any of their own that gets captured, so as to protect the group as a whole. Augh. The way Eop Bok struggles to do the deed, and the way he bawls like a baby afterwards, makes it clear how traumatic this is, for him. Poor Eop Bok. And at this point, he doesn’t even know that Cho Bok is about to married off by her master either. 💔

I had to giggle at the stark difference between the way Tae Ha greets the Crown Prince, with a deep bow to the ground, and the way Dae Gil greets him, with a reluctant side nod of his head. It’s almost like it’s so awkward for Dae Gil to let go of his swag, even if it’s to greet royalty. 😆

While the Crown Prince dashes Tae Ha’s hopes of assistance (really, though? Tae Ha was hoping that the Crown Prince would help Tae Ha oust himself? I gotta say, Tae Ha’s very naive, for a general..? 🙄), Dae Gil busies himself being their cynical sentinel, and picks up on Commander Hwang’s presence, with his men.

I do love the visual of Dae Gil and Tae Ha fighting side by side against a common enemy. They are so in sync at it, it feels like they’ve fought alongside each other forever. Also, nice twist there, Show, with presenting our last shot as if Tae Ha and Dae Gil are rushing headlong at each other, ready to direct their blows at each other, but really each aiming for the enemy behind the other. I love the knowing looks they throw at each other, after all the enemy guards have been felled; there’s acknowledgment, respect, and even a bit of grudging partnership in their gazes, and I love it. 🤩

35 thoughts on “Open Thread: Chuno Episodes 21 & 22

  1. beez

    @Jiyuu – the sooner you accept the typos (and especially the grammar errors) the more you’ll enjoy Kdramas (and any foreign movies/shows). Especially on Vicky there will be errors because of the nature of how their subtitles are produced. Anyone can be a subber on Vicky. The subbers are volunteers and I’m so grateful to them. You’ll learn to appreciate them during times when real life interferes for them (like holidays in their countries or, if they’re students and its finals time) and your drama sits there with no subs.😭

    Reply
  2. beez

    @j3ffc – Yes, Korea adapted to many modern things later than other Asian nations because of Korea’s isolationist (from the west) policies. Have you seen Mr. Sunshine? It shows Korea finally embracing street cars and electricity, mainly though the influence of Japan practically forcing it upon them.

    I find it really interesting how the United States used force to instigate trade with Japan and Korea. When I first learned of that as a young adult while reading a Reader’s Digest as I waited at my doctor’s appointment, my once naive self was shocked!

    Reply
  3. beez

    Hi DramaFan! 🤗
    I just searched and responded to your email. I didn’t see it amongst all the spam and junk. In my response, I gave you my newer email address that I use mainly for important stuff like bills, etc. So while this blog is important to me, it goes to my junky email because I can’t miss paying a bill because of my love for Kdrama and Jang Hyuk now, can I? ☺😆

    Reply
  4. beez

    I’ve missed you guys lots!
    The pic of Daegil pushing Taeha away from Eonnyeon shows that underlying charisma that will usually make a woman choose the guy who’s willing to give it all despite what the “right thing” is to do. Whereas Tae ha will stop to consider and self sacrifice to give her up of the correct, important enough, reason came along. Someone asked (I think it was BE) what’s the big deal about Jang Hyuk’s looks. I often ask myself that too. But I think it all comes down to what’s on display in this picture. Since this is behind the scenes, but this is how I think we fangirls envision Jang Hyuk’s real life character. The charisma. The competence that he’s standing his ground and handling his business when it comes to his woman. (I’m probably fantasizing but that’s my personal take on his magnetism.)

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  5. beez

    @BE – Nope. Because the evil dudes in the choices you’re giving me are gross 😆 whereas the good guys here each have some “bad boy” in them. 😉 Women who like bad boys want them to have big (hidden) hearts. I guess it’s the equivalent of the “hooker with the heart of gold”. 😂🤣🤣 (Or the reason guys like women who can kick butt but most don’t want a long-term relationship with them. I’m thinking Rhonda Rousey or Gina Carraro.) lol

    Reply
  6. Drama Fan

    And finally my favorite Daegil – Taeha dialogues from Ep 22

    Daegil and Taeha taking a break, Daegil drinks some wine.

    Taeha: Did you deliver the message?

    Daegil: This really doesn’t sit right with me.

    Taeha: What are you talking about?

    Daegil: Meeting the Crown Prince, Daegil tosses some food to Taeha “Eat, we have a long way ahead of us”.

    Taeha: We’ve got work to do, how is it that you are drinking?

    Daegil: Anyway, there is nothing for us to do before midnight. Furthermore, when I think of spending the whole day with you while sober, it’s suffocating. Daegil offers some wine to Taeha but Taeha just looks at him 😀

    Taeha: It hurt me when I heard

    Daegil: Heard what?

    Taeha: That all you need is to have at least one reason to stay alive.

    Daegil: You remember such crazy stuff!

    Taeha: Living my whole life from one battle to another, I told myself that, all I had to do was die when I couldn’t take it anymore, and since I have my all in battles, I had no regrets. But now, even if I cannot take it any longer, I have to survive. This is more difficult than just dying.

    Daegil: Even if you have some great ambition, life is the same for everybody anyway. Expectations increase but ability decreases. So, just take it easy, but putting aside your ambitions. How good is it to have a wife and kids, and some land to farm. This is all you need. Such simple happiness is enough. Such a quiet, warm life.

    Taeha: Yet, didn’t you once want to change the world? You wanted a world where there is no difference between the nobles and the ordinary people didn’t you? You were dreaming of a world where you were allowed to live quietly with your wife, didn’t you?

    Daegil: Before, I lived in the real world. I dreamt about it. Daegil, with teary eyes sips some wine, and the offers it to Taeha again, this time, Taeha accepts it. (I love this moment)

    Taeha: If you love the world, you get enough courage to change it.

    Daegil: Even if the water flows, the slope doesn’t change. It is beautiful, isn’t it?

    Taeha: Even if the slope is strong (resolute), it cannot stop the water from flowing.

    Daegil: Nobi- yangban! You are funny guy. (Taeha smiles, showing his cute dimple lol)

    This dialogue between the Crown Prince and Taeha was interesting and Daegil’s expression while listening to it. It seems like he is moved by Taeha’s words it but also feels like Taeha is referring to him, he who once had a dream of changing the world, despite not being a king. Taeha wants people like Daegil, to recover the hope, that they can also make a difference, that it is possible. He wants to inspire that hope.
    Crown Prince: You used the young prince to push my out and now you’re here asking for help? Is that your idea of filial love?

    Taeha: You never asked what happened after, If I still believe prince Wonson should be enthroned and if I am going to continue in that line
    CP: What are you thinking of now then?

    Taeha: Im trying to keep my promise to protect the prince, by surviving and being by his side long enough to change this nation.
    CP: Are you speaking of treason?

    Taeha: No, your highness. I intend to show the world that you do not need to be king to change this nation. Even if you live a nameless life, I intend to show that a small hope is all it takes for the new world.
    CP: So you are speaking of treason then!

    The CP could only see “treason” in Taeha’s words (one track minded selfish a hole), but Daegil was listening and registering the true meaning of his words.

    Reply
    1. BE

      I think the line of Tae Ha’s about showing the world and living a nameless life might be relevant to our discussions in the finale vis a vis Tae Ha. No spoilers.

      Reply
  7. Drama Fan

    Two dialogues between Daegil and Taeha from ep 22, as they prepare to meet the Crown Prince

    Taeha: There is something that you can do

    Daegil: It’s not going into the palace is it?

    Taeha: It’s similar, I need you to meet somebody. He is someone who has served the crown prince.

    Daegil: If people hear of this, then what?

    Taeha: That won’t happen

    Daegil: You know, we don’t trust the people up there. They have to many too many thoughts, there are none that’s for us.

    Taeha: Don’t be so cynical.

    Daegil: Drop the attitude. If I meet this person, will that smooth out things for good?

    Taeha: I’m trying to make it so.

    Daegil: Might as well meet the king if you are going to meet someone.

    Taeha: I have known him for a long time. I did not serve under him directly but he is a noble and respectable
    person. Also, he is quite sympathetic.

    Daegil laughs “Sympathy is useless here”

    Taeha: A palace is also a place where people live.

    Daegil: No, it isn’t. Were there true people at the palace, they wouldn’t turned our world in a shitty place.

    Daegil: What if the prince doesn’t come?

    Taeha: He will

    Daegil: What if he comes but it’s a trap?

    Taeha: If such a thing happens, It means there are no answers in Joseon.

    Daegil: No way out

    Taeha: If necessary, I’ll go to China

    Daegil: So far?…It would be better to go there, if you go there, do you think you’ll be safe?

    Taeha: It would be the last resort

    Daegil: The last resort should be used at the very last minute. Because after everything else failed, you’re done, nothing else would matter.

    Taeha: I do not intend to fail. You should know what it means to put your life on the line in order to save someone’s life. That’s why you followed me, didn’t you?

    Daegil: Hey, what if I tell you something about the slaves? The slaves, they escape when they cannot take it anymore. Then they get caught and they get beaten to death. Do you know what happens afterwards? They attack using what they grab, be it a knife or an axe. Let’s all die together! You, from the very beginning, didn’t follow the correct order. You don’t run away after a quarrel, you keep fighting till you cannot run anymore!

    Taeha: War is not over yet and I haven’t abandoned it.

    Daegil: Then don’t talk about “the last” before that “last” really comes.

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  8. Drama Fan

    A dialogue from ep 21

    Daegil and Taeha are temportarily covering Han Seom’s body. Previously, Tahea was so disraught by Han Seom’s death, that he didn’t realize that he was getting attacked. Daegil protected him and beat up the soldiers but also found out that traitor Scholar Jo came with the soldiers who killed Han Seom.

    Taeha: Wait for a while. I’ll come back for you.

    Daegil: Do you know of a Scholar Jo or something for a change?

    Taeha looks at him

    Daegil: So it was really that guy, the one who was locked up with us in the interrogation room.

    Taeha: What about Scholar Jo? What are you trying to say?

    Daegil: The guard said that he came along on this capture mission.

    Taeha, incredulous “Scholar Jo?”

    Daegil: Those whose head are in the noose, they are all the same. When a way to survive opens up, everything becomes clear.

    Taeha: There is no way, Scholar Jo would not

    Daegil: He came along with them, all dressed up in fancy clothes.

    Taeha: That can’t be. Humans can’t behave like that.

    Daegil: It is because they are human that someone can be like that. Animals, they are not capable of betrayal.

    Taeha thinks about Daegil’s words and stays silent for a bit

    Daegil: There is only one thing you can trust in the world, a dead person. No one alive can be trusted.

    Taeha: Would you be happy, living like that? Living, trusting no one? Not even trusting yourself?

    Daegil: It’s better than getting stabbed in the back in your sleep.

    Taeha: That’s why I can’t trust you.

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    1. BE

      Missed you beez….but my question here would be….so you would choose Commander Hwang over Han Seom? Fake Slave Boy over Eop Bok? Left State Minister over General Choi? Just asking. Yuk.

      Reply
    2. kfangurl Post author

      I’ve missed you, Beez! ❤️ So glad to see you pop by! I hope you’ve been well! 😘

      I love this photo. They look like they’re having such a good time, and that good-natured way that Jang Hyuk’s poking Oh Ji Ho’s side with that stick made me giggle. 😆 Schmexy, charismatic rogue. 😍

      Reply
    3. Drama Fan

      Hi Beez! Im so happy to see you. I wrote you an email but not sure you had a change to see it (or if that email is still your email lol) That picture is funny, it looks like Daegil is social distancing but only from Taeha

      Reply
  9. BE

    Most of my response has to do with episode 21, which after the almost complete standstill of the previous two episodes, is really chock full. For the most part I am going to leave Dae Gil, Tae Ha, Eon Nyeon, and the young prince and their plot, which is getting more claustrophobic by the episode with an arrow that certainly seems pointed toward, mmmmn, no way out but tragedy or some sort of unbelievable deus ex machina wrapping paper.

    But a coupla things about our main man to begin with. Dae Gil can be such a charmer. When he pinches Seol Hwa’s cheek, it is such a recognition of her and her feeling for him, not just in general but in that specific moment. And his farewell smile to General Choi, with all the loaded depth of the unspoken, we may never meet again in it, and his profoundly loving and brotherly feel for the man. Without speaking directly, Dae Gil (once again the magnificence of Jang Hyuk as a physical actor, a gestural actor, really so wonderful) is able to communicate with people he cares about so much affection.

    And Eon Nyeon; in the scene between her and Seol Hwa when Seol Hwa completely breaks down, we once again see what a worthy woman Eon Nyeon is (even Seol Hwa chooses her and not for her grace but for her substance) encouraging her to simply cut loose while delivering the essential thematic line of the entire series: “there isn’t a single person in this world that doesn’t feel pain.”

    And do I really need to specify General Choi? With Dae Gil, with Wang Son, with Jjak Gwi. A man among men.
    For all her foolishness, young Jumo has her sights on THE right guy among all the guys in this series, the one in ten thousand.

    Everyone else here so far has spoken about Han Seom–Han Seom, The Handsome; Han Seom,The Bold; Han Seom, The Honorable. As I have noted in previous posts, there is something completely poetic about his character, and more bang for the buck in it than in any other character in the series. Heroic, true, utterly present, two things stand out as he is pitching for money, soldiers, and arms with the yangban scholar. The first is his telling how he left the woman he loved to die in pursuit of this mission; that indeed in doing so, he left himself behind, there with her, to do so. And secondly, that unless the scholar was willing to make the same extreme sacrifice, he would not accept any assistance whatsoever from him, he would not take what was not given from the standpoint of the man’s soul. The first part, how he had left himself with his love is so beautifully then spelled out in his death scene. I do not know if afterlife is exactly what was presented. It reminded me more of the Tibetan concept of the bardo, the place between life and death, rather than death itself. Most people in the bardo are confronted by demons of their painful death, which they must see for what they are self inflicted illusions. But Han Seom had left himself with his love in her dying. And there she. Jang Pil Soon, has been all that time, but what is time to her, waiting, waiting for Han Seom to promise he will spoil her, waiting to tease him one last time about his weight, as if that matters other than the affection proffered in the jibe. And when he looks back not once but twice…regret? unfinished business? something, she tells him to think of that back there–Han Seom in the land of the living–was something he had bequeathed to that world. The writer, the actors, the director making use of this almost supernatural moment the one time here, given so many other deaths, bring Han Seom so far forward, despite his small role in the narrative, we are totally prepared for Tae Ha’s grief (“Han So-Ma, why are you here?”) when it occurs, despite having seen the two together only a handful of times over the course of this long series.

    The politics: I know this is the least favorite part of the series for most if not all of us, but without the politics of it there would be no Chuno, given the history of Korea, especially that element of Korean culture in which Confucianism with its compelling paradox of idealistic and humane philosophy combined with its extreme class bigotry is so deeply embedded in every part of life and language, the high ideals, humane aspirations, side by side with unspeakable cruelty, the kind of cruelty that makes life on earth so hellish for the characters in this drama; so hellish that the Crown Prince can straight facedly impugn Tae Ha for pretending that the murder of a child family member was a fact of life kind of thing for royalty, while declaring to Dae Gil his ignorance of the existence of slave hunters; the kind of cruelty that can take the life of a woman and force her into marriage with a stranger or worse a raptor’s bed at any moment. So in this light, while some of these characters seem to be caricatures of evil, Officer Jo’s drunken declaration in which he himself openly reveals that his betrayals, the ensuing tortures, imprisonments, and murders of his former comrades, was all about his hunger for fame and power, just as Left State had already surmised, or the revelation that all of Left State’s conniving, the ruthlessness of it, the corruption, the killings, even the bringing of Joseon to war with the mighty Qing Empire, the a to z of it were in the end nothing more than a complicated plan for making a killing at war profiteering, as extreme and one dimensionally evil as that seems, has such a grain of truth in it, and the why Dae Gil is a true antihero.

    Finally, Eop Bok. Another of my favorite characters in this. So humane, the conscience of Chuno. I would like to say one thing on his behalf with Cho Bok, whom he loves. When she, heartbroken as she is that they will be separated, that she will have to marry (and bed) an elderly stranger, asks him what he will do without her, his immediate response is “has something happened; is something wrong?” That is, he is not concerned for himself at all. As he says after they are separated, “of course, he would go looking for her.” But in this scene it is Cho Bok whose faith in Eop Bok, whose fierce need for independence, fails her and him–miscommunication, such a bugaboo of any romantic relationship in everyday life, the result of their horrific reality. She will not tell Eop Bok what has befallen her. And at the end of episode 22, the two of them, each alone, crying their eyes out, such a decent and courageous pair, we wish they could be in the shelter of each other’s arms, but instead left alone in the night in despair. Such great and moving storytelling.

    Reply
    1. j3ffc

      Very keen observation re the bardo: as good an interpretation as may be. I wonder if you’ve read “Lincoln in the Bardo”, one of the more original books I’ve read in a while

      Reply
    2. Ele Nash

      Thank you, BE for such an insightful comment. Your interpretation of Han Seom in the “between” place makes so much sense and, as you rightly point out, the focus on this seemingly peripheral character is a credit to his sensibilities and his relationship with Tae Hae. A General Choi of sorts. A Good Man. The actor is incredible too to have imbued such honesty and emotion into a comparatively small role 😍

      Reply
  10. Snow Flower

    Ah, all the story arcs are coming together!

    I composed a Chuno-inspired piano piece and posted it on Episodes 19-20 open thread. I have another piece in the works, for the grand finale next week.

    Reply
  11. Jiyuu

    And so we’re at the penultimate week and I’m debating with myself whether I should just watch the remaining two hours and get it over with.

    Chuno is a drama that I’ve heard glowing reviews of and upon half plowing-through and half gobbling-up the series, I agree that it fully deserves all the accolades. I love and dread watching it at the same time.

    I’m not sure if I’ll have the courage to sit and watch it again in full but I think it’s something I’d readily recommend to two groups of people:
    (1) To serial kdrama watchers who have been jaded with the usual kdrama and are looking for something special. Chuno is a gem. It has broken a lot of tropes and continues to surprise me.
    (2) To first-time kdrama watchers who are interested in a show with substance and heart. The few tropes/cliches used in Chuno would be enjoyed from fresh eyes and without expectations.

    I marvel at its cinematography, soundtrack, the different threads of storylines woven through and knitted together as we reach the end. But most importantly the characters. These awesomely written characters that are layered and complex, with Lee Dae Gil at the top. Other dramas have had layered, complex characters too but not as much as in Chuno, where each character (major or supporting) are given their moments of goodness and detestability (with the sole exception of General Choi whom I can’t remember a single “bad moment” other than his occupation as a slave hunter).

    It’s interesting because Chuno aired immediately after IRIS but last year was the first time that I’ve heard of it (when I started my Jang Hyuk-binge during the pandemic). IRIS had the biggest budget for a kdrama at the time and I watched it as it aired and raved with friends. It was a kdrama of the moment though, something not mentioned anymore in the list of greats and must-watch while Chuno, on the other hand, has withstood the test of time and will continue being mentioned/recommended in lists to come. Sageuks have a tendency to withstand the years better, yes. But Chuno, even when I compare it with other sageuks, probably because of its subject-matter and production treatment, still shines.

    On a side note, I’m disappointed with the Kocowa/Viki subs though. A lot of grammatical and typographical errors that could have been avoided if they had a quality-checker before publishing. The subbing team are volunteers and I don’t expect perfection but a proofreader should have been employed at the least.

    Now that I’ve got all these out, I am glad I got to watch the series with all of you. Thank you! And I am glad there’s still IRIS 2 and Robber for me to look forward to.

    Reply
    1. Snow Flower

      I just watched Robber and thought it had aged well. It felt like watching the love child of I’m Sorry I Love You and Thank You.

      I agree that there is nothing quite like Chuno in the kdrama universe.

      Reply
  12. j3ffc

    Shit, meet fan.

    Sorry to be so crude, but here comes the denouement of this drama and, with only two hours to go, I still have no real idea of all of this is going to come together. I mean that as high praise: it is a hard thing to juggle all of these disparate plot lines so entertainingly and compellingly while, although we know convergence is coming, it is the How that keeps us on the edge of our seats. To connect it with a very different art form, it is similar to the time-honored situation comedy format of entwining three plot lines into a 22-minute episode but spread out over 24 actual hours. Well done, Show, well done.

    I was most affected by Han Seom’s inevitable but still-gutting demise. Our first glimpse into the afterlife was, ambiguous and affecting (as it’s not clear if he’s dead-dead or having final visions in his last breaths). And later, as we witness Tae Ha’s intense mourning, it is clear that HS was beloved in a special way as well.

    I continue to be suspicious and uneasy about our slave army, under the thumb of New Guy, although I am impressed by Eop Bok’s moral uncertainty about the big mission (while incredibly un-impressed by his cluelessness regarding Cho Bok). EB’s struggle with offing his captured colleague – whom he barely knows, as they have JUST met – speaks to a highly developed conscience. I am haunted by BE’s observation that there must have been many slave uprisings in Korea over the years, and few got anywhere. Sometimes, reality just bites, and that may well be the final moral of our tale.

    Why don’t the regular armies have guns yet? Are they just late adopters? And while I’m sorta whining, I will say that I’ve thought it over and, though I love them to death, the fact that apparently only two of Commander Hwang’s “victims” ever lived to tell the tale, and for the story’s sake, they happen to be Wang Son and General Choi, is just too conveeenient. Sorry, but it’s a bit of lazy storytelling on the part of our writers.

    Which they totally made up with the awesome end of the episode, where the fists of DG and TH, which would formerly have been directed at each other, are instead aimed at the deserving faces of CH’s minions.

    Looking forward to next week, although not to the end of this community watch. Be safe, all.

    Reply
    1. Leslie

      Neither do I know how Show is going to end, which is astonishing given how much attention I’ve paid to these episodes. I admit, though, it may be as much about my denial of most likely conclusions as anything. For these last 2 episodes, I waited to skim Fangirl’s summaries before watching so that I could prepare myself for the worst. Luckily, the worst of the worst didn’t happen (but RIP Han Seom)…

      The only thing I feel pretty certain about is that the slaves are not going to fare well, which is unfortunately consistent with their reality. Almost all the other free characters have a theoretical way out of their predicaments. But the slaves will have no place to hide once government turns its attention on them.

      Lee Jong-hyuk as Hwang Chul-woong – what steadfastness of character portrayal. What a steely gaze. What fighting chops. He is effortlessly menacing without devolving into caricature. The last screen shot in Fangirl’s summary of Ep. 19 says it all. I paid him little heed, in fact hardly noticed him in the first quarter of the show. Now I’m riveted when he comes on screen. I will be looking for new shows to watch him in when we’re finished here.

      Reply
      1. agent155

        We’re close to the end and it’s really not clear how each character’s situation will be resolved. My premature thoughts:

        Like most of us, I suspect the slaves will not end well but I’m hoping Eop Bok and Cho Bok make it out. New guy is probably revealed to be Left State Councilor’s agent and I think/hope Eop Bok finishes him off.

        The fates of the main protagonists are most difficult to see. I can see the King being killed (by Daegil?), his brother ascending to the throne and the little prince becoming the crown prince. Tae Ha survives in this scenario as does Eon Nyeon. I just don’t see Tae Ha, Eon Nyeon and the little prince going into exile nor do I see them all being eliminated. The Qing ambassador helps with this scenario, I suspect.

        It’s difficult to see any happy ending for Daegil, he’s weary of his life, cynical about his future and lacking any joy in his life with Eon Nyeon married to Taeha. He’s already on the way to help Tae Ha, for Eon Nyeon’s sake, perhaps? Or maybe Tae Ha doesn’t survive? I’d root for Daegil rather than Tae Ha to make it to the end but it’s difficult to see them both surviving.

        General Choi and Wangson retire as planned by Daegil but little Jumo’s and Seolhwa’s fates are really uncertain, maybe little Jumo ends up with General Choi and Seolhwa ends up partnering in Wangson’s bar but not as a romantic pair, just bickering as usual.

        The villains get their just desserts but I’m curious to see if the despicable local official Oh gets his too, hope he ends up in the Capital Bureau being tortured.

        This is part of the fun, speculating how things will unfold. Other comments:

        I’m quite disappointed in Tae Ha, he turned out exactly how I feared, wooden, rigid, tradition bound, unworldly but there seems to be some hope for him opening his mind.

        The female characters are all drawn well and display as much or more courage and resourcefulness (Eon Nyeon’s transformation is welcome) as their male counterparts despite their very inferior role in Joseon society. Even the kisaeng come off cunning and devious though those painted on smiles freak me out.

        Best supporting actor, toddler who played the little Prince! He is so cute and has such an unwavering gaze.

        Any other thoughts on the above, no spoilers please.

        Reply
        1. Snow Flower

          You are right about some of the developments, but I am not saying which ones! Some stories’ resolutions are similar to what you anticipate, while others may surprise you.

          Reply
          1. agent155

            Now, you have me really curious. I just thought of a wild scenario, the slaves end up helping the slave hunter, Daegil, and Tae Ha getting rid of the old regime though I’m not sure how their different story arcs would intersect. But what irony, slaves and slave hunter working together! However, what happens to the slaves after that (those who survive), I don’t know. Maybe they’re freed and end up farming Daegil’s lands?

            This is the first time in a few weeks that I’ve been able to keep up with the Group Watch and I’m just “marinating” in these episodes before plunging into the last two. Upcoming lunar new year will keep me occupied until early next week, leaving me plenty of time to think about how the show unfolds.

            Reply
  13. Trent

    In my humble opinion, these two episodes are the best yet, where a lot of long-drawn threads are being woven together in really satisfying ways. This was the first block of eps where I had to really restrain myself from immediately rushing off to start the next block.

    I agree about Eunnyeon, she’s really developed some depth and wisdom to go along with the innate grace and beauty. I can see her (hypothetically) presiding as lady over some high official’s household, no problem. I love how she sees right into Seol-hwa and her youthful angst and where she’s coming from, and is just kind and friendly to her. I love that Seol-hwa’s Chinese character name (at least the ones that Eun-nyeon assigns her) are “snow flower” (雪花) , they’re such pretty characters (my innate Chinese-language bias always makes me appreciate it when I get to see the Hanja for Korean names). And of course, Seol-hwa continues to be awesome. I so have my fingers crossed for her these last two episodes….

    Of course I felt terrible for Cho-bok. She’s been one of the most capable and intelligent characters from the beginning, and she’s been trying to patiently lead the guy she likes to water and get him to drink (to mangle a metaphor), and now we confront the terrible injustice of slavery, being married off with no say whatsoever (of course, we saw it a few episodes ago, with the teen daughter sent to the terrible master).

    The best part, though, is the whole Daegil-Taeha thread. I’m just such a sucker for a “sworn enemies become comrades in arms” trope, so this scratches my itch at a deep level. I love these two bad-ass dudes philosophizing and kicking butt and watching each others back and showing grudging respect. I don’t know where it will end these last two episodes–nowhere good, no doubt–but at least Show has gifted me this much.

    Alright, so I’m primed for the end of all things. Let’s do it. Onward.

    Reply
    1. Snow Flower

      @Trent and anyone who knows Chinese characters: I would like to know the meaning of the characters’ names. We saw Seol Hwa embroidering Dae Gil’s name on the vest she made for him. Was the translation correct?

      Reply
      1. Trent

        I haven’t been really keeping track of the hanja that make up our characters’ names, to be honest, and the only way to see what they are is if the screen happens to show a bit of writing where their name is referenced. I don’t remember if there’s any place, for instance, where Eun-nyeon’s name is written (I think there might have been an earlier episode with her new name, Hye-son?). I do know that there’s an earlier episode where there’s a letter or report or something on screen that shows Tae-ha’s name, and I paused the show to look at it, but now I don’t remember what characters they were, alas.

        I spent a few minutes poking around in the last several episodes to try to find the scene where it shows Seol-hwa’s embroidery of Dae-gil’s name, and I couldn’t find it. But I’ve just finished watching the final two episodes, and with this very minimal spoiler can say that there is a scene where that embroidery shows up again on screen, so: Dae-gil is just 大吉, which is just (first character) “big” or “large” (it’s the same character as in the official name for the Republic of Korea: 대한민국 (daehan minguk) or 大韓民國 (dahan minguo, in Mandarin pronunciation)); and second character “fortunate,” “auspicious”. So his name would carry the meaning of “great fortune” or “lots of good luck.” A bit of irony, no doubt, but since parents often tend to give their kids positive, aspirational names, it’s the common sort of irony that arises whenever someone with a happy name lives a hard life…

        Reply
        1. Snow Flower

          Seol Hwa is embroidering the vest in Episode 22, I think. Thank you for looking the hanja characters up!

          Reply
        2. Drama Fan

          Im so behind! Must catch up! But I can’t believe the irony of Daegil’s name meaning. I want to laugh like Daegil and Jiho at this new piece of information 😆 Ya! Buddah! You have quite the sense of humor!

          Reply

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