This is Janine Zhang, who plays Lan Xiying in Black & White (she’s basically an expert on everything having to do with the law, medicine, and a damned good sharpshooter into the bargain). I would love to be her, but yeah. I’m not that awesome.
A long time ago Thundie wrote an article-essay on the treatment of male secondary leads in kdrama, and I felt inspired enough that I promised myself that I would write up a similar one about the female ones.
This is just something I’ve noticed, but the amount of hate towards female characters almost always beats the hate for male ones. And while on one hand it’s seriously not cool, on the other hand I think the tired old tropes women keep being thrust into have something to do with it.
Without further ado:
Well, it’s come to that, really. (Spoilers until 15, you stand warned.)
Kang Mae makes a break with both Ru Mi and Gun Woo*, and goes back to his old asshat ways.
Which just annoys me, because we all know it isn’t going to happen, what with him being so heavily influenced anyway, this trying to cut away from these two will probably poison his music in a different way. And the title of this drama is, after all, Beethoven Virus. The virus is that same passion or love for music that drove Beethoven to continue on with his composition even after losing his hearing – and it manifests in different ways in the three main characters, but the fact remains that they’re tied together by that love for music. So, you know, the drama-rama is not all that necessary. There are subtler ways of conveying Kang’s inner conflict – and yes, I am a sucker for subtlety. However, I suppose I should have expected this, since BV has shown a propensity for the exaggerated since day one.
Right now, by rejecting Ru Mi and Gun Woo, and taking the easy way out, Kang isn’t being true to his music, and I hope the next few episodes show that. It’ll be different from the mellowing out that he was experiencing before – perhaps an over-strident tone à la ‘the lady doth protest too much’? (Also, his donning the same clothes as he did on arrival speaks to me a sort of self-reassurance gesture, and not an actual sign he’s gone back to his ground state.)
As for the relationship – well, he’s still wearing the ring, from his last, failed relationship when Beethoven was still a puppy. Which he needs to get over, perhaps with the help of the Hammer of Plot. Seriously, there is not a lot to say about Kangmi, because I think they’ll get back together, or at least, if it doesn’t work out, have a better end than the half-assed, “I’m too scared to commit.”
*My own pet theory about his stepping away from Gun Woo is that he’s actually, in the misguided way he’s prone to, trying to protect Gun Woo from his own contamination. Remember when he was having a conversation with That Genius Classmate Conductor Dude, and Kang told him to take Gun Woo under his wing because he’s afraid Junior will turn out just like him? *nods*
And… um, that’s about it for today.
Um, because the show causes me to think furiously. (Also have realized am unconsciously putting off watching BV, because god, that show kills the creative juices.)
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS UP TILL EP8. FEEL WARNED.
There’s the relationship stuff going on, which is particularly interesting and hard to tangle, as well as some speculation. Just a note, Shin Yoon Bok’s real name in the drama is actually Seo Yoon, so I may interchangeably use this one, don’t get confused. Although I think if I use cutiepie everyone would get it anyway, so…
My short analysis on each person who is really important in Yoon Bok’s life right now, with added random rambling, because, goodness, this is my blog, if I can’t ramble here then I can’t anywhere.
Kim Hong Do
Eh. He’s actually the most boring/stereotypical one of the list. Whatevs. Also, his constant shouting gets annoying, but on the other hand he’s kind of a father figure to her right now. (Which makes their impending romance even more squicky, eurgh.) Just to get this out of the way, a part of me is beyond annoyed by the whole Hong-Do-is-having-feelings-for-his-male-student-ohnoes – and Shy Exposition Girl’s (um, sister to the colleague) conspiratorial-homg-gossip whispering on how this one guy got his legs broken for ‘consorting’ with another male. God, I am so glad I did not live then, I would have died a quick death for my liberal thinking. Or possibly killed them all.
Also, does no one find it disturbing that Hong Do held little Yoon in his lap at one point and fed her candy, much like a benevolent uncle? Add that to the teacher thing, and we’ve got an abuse of authority situation coming up. Though it comforts me that Yoon Bok is such a prickly blossom (much like how she says Jeong Hyang is, lol) even at 18 that she doesn’t take Hong Do’s crap and talks back.
Um, so, episode 7 and 8 has him all flustered and stuff around Yoon Bok, though he’s doing a good job of keeping it to just glancing and random spaciness. (That’s how you can tell it’s love – he’s totally rude to other people.) Other than that, people, it’s just romance, nothing to see here, move along.
I wonder when the student will surpass the master (some argue that it’s already happened, but there’s so much she hasn’t learned yet). Also, when he will find out she is a girl, just because I want to see the look on his face.
Omm, I love this girl. People went all crazy about how Yoon Bok was a lesbian and stuff, but as the girl says herself (with the clarity only alcohol brings, *cackle*), Jeong Hyang is more than a mere lover, she is someone who is in tune with Yoon Bok – and whom Yoon Bok sees as a representation of her other self. It is probable, given that if she hadn’t been taken in by Shin, she would have been sold to a gisaeng house.
She’s not in love – Jeong Hyang’s more important than that, which gives me hope for the future, because had it been purely romantic love, dearest Hyang would have been axed so Hong Do could make an entrance. (Though Yoon Bok is in considerable danger from the evil merchant dude – doubly so, since he killed her parents and wants to kill Jeong Hyang’s ‘lover’.)
Jeong Hyang’s loveliness and the entire motif of the butterfly thing is a reference to the cocoon process. Yoon Bok came out as an artist (no pun intended), and male, while Jeong Hyang became a beautiful, graceful gisaeng.
Current speculation about if she finds out splits in four ways:
1) She doesn’t find out and goes to her grave loving the boy. (Ze most likely atm.)
2) She finds out and the two become artistic buddies. (Or soulmates, if you’re mushy.)
3) She finds out and things take on a distinctly lesbian tone, can be one-sided or mutual, I guess. (Aha, if only.)
4) She goes all crazy with vengeance. (Doubt that would happen.)
It’s a shame they won’t take the lesbian theme and run with it, but then S.K. society is highly conservative and heads would have rolled, so not that surprising…
See, the thing is, usually we have a brother-like figure who also likes the heroine, but because he is a nice guy (and not a Nice Guy), he doesn’t get the girl. I think Young Bok is more than that. Really – his own father only adopted Yoon the girl and turned her into Yoon Bok the boy because he saw her enormous potential and promptly got greedy for his own family and fortune. With a dad like that, who knew Yoon’s father’s fate and how unjust it was – their relationship is not going to end happily, and will stay one-sided forever. He might even die and concrete his status as a martyr on the brick road of success.
On the other hand, since Young Bok is written as a fairly nice guy, he doesn’t really get the Evil Character Chopping Block, and is given a relatively important supporting role. (He even gets his own peppery girl person! Who crushes on him and actively pursuits him!) However, his big losses (painting privilege and YB’s romantic love) are a form of repentance for the wrongs his father committed towards Yoon Bok. They’re big on fate and karma and stuff like that in sageuk writing, I believe, or I seriously will go over to S.K. and take a chunk out of those Legend scriptwriters.
Stuff I’m just throwing in for the heck of it:
- They mentioned in passing that Seo painter dude, Yoon Bok’s dad, married a kaya-expert gisaeng. It would then be kind of scary possible that Jeong Hyang’s teacher was Yoon Bok’s mother, thus deepening their already quite intense connection with each other.
- I swear to god, that Sasuke!Assassin woman is in love with her sleazy master. Poor thing has the same ill-placed loyalty thing going on as the other similarly-dressed assassin person in Iljimae. Remember how choked up she was when sleazy merchant dude told her to guard Jeong Hyang’s courtyard really well? I. AM. VINDICATED.
- Also, I love the motif that Jeong Hyang is associated with a caged bird – because as a gisaeng, of course she’s a kept woman. Yoon Bok’s mother was lucky enough to have escaped that fate, but then got knifed by evil bastards with agendas. *sigh* If only there weren’t so many of them out there.
- I love the soundtrack. I know I say this about almost all the sageuks, but this is one of the best I’ve heard out of even a sageuk for a long time. Repeat button, how I love you, let me count the ways…
- The king, people, is full of subtle hotness. Also, he and his gran are seriously so much love! While we’re on that topic, who thinks Moon Chae Won is one hot chick? Also, speaking of kings, the king in Dae Jang Geum is the snotty painter competitor person. (Who also acts like he’s better than the others because he’s been to China, omg, writers, please stop. It’s obviously self-deprecating and not good for you. Fucking let this go.)
- Um, dammit, when did this get so long?!
The other day, I was flipping through Time of Dog and Wolf when I was hit by the realization, “Dang, this show’s got tons in common with Iljimae.” Superficially and otherwise. Here’s a list of them:
- Both leads were played by Lee Jun Ki (aha, obviously).
- Both leads were named Lee something (Lee Soo Yeon and Lee Kyum).
- Both leads lost their memories.
- Both fell in love with the daughter of someone they wanted revenge upon (Eun Chae and Ji Woo).
- Had short love story with the girl when they were little. (Say what you will, finding true love at 8 is still kind of creepy.)
- Met by accident with the girl when they were grown.
- Both had several personalities going on at the same time.
- Becomes enemies with his brother under circumstances that the other does not know about.
- His biggest enemy was very close to his birth father once upon a time.
- Lives under the shadow of avenging his parent’s death.
- Both saw a parent die in front of his eyes.
- Identifies the murderer of his parents by some sort of symbol (tattoo and symbol on sword).
- The brother falls in love with the same person as he does.
- Both live with adoptive parents.
- The adoptive fathers die for their sons.
- Both had stones tied to their feet and thrown into a body of water.
- Both used the flashback narration at the beginning.
- The ending left both their fates somewhat hanging, though they were both shown to be fine and in action (but sekritly!) afterwards.
Conclusion: The PD/writers definitely watched TODAW.
Also? Lee Jun Ki managed to play two remarkably similar characters in very different ways. Kudos to him.
I was going to write out all my thoughts on the ending of Iljimae, but then life intervened. Anyway, I sit here with sore muscles to give you my take on what happened and why – disclaimer to tell you that you may not agree with or like what I say, but I am basing it on what happened.
In short, Iljimae is alive; Eun Chae just returned from exile in Jeju with her dad; Bong Soon is wandering around the country; Dani and Kyum’s mother are raising Ketong together with Yong visiting every now and then; the rest of the neighbourhood, which includes Eun Chae’s servant, helps when they can – but Iljimae goes deep underground to avoid getting people he cares about into trouble; Shi Hoo teaches kids martial arts and is happy; Daeshi found his dad. Also, the king is crazy.
When we come to the end, Iljimae is starting up his stealing again.
It’s too bad they didn’t have enough time to film the ending fully – according to the PD, they were filming the last episode on the day it was airing, and had no choice but to supplement the end with scenes from episode one. Aww.
First, who is Ketong?
Well, easiest question first. Ketong is the child of Dani and Swe Dol (R.I.P.). Remember when Swe Dol nearly named Yong ‘Ketong’ instead? Dani glared him down. In her beloved husband’s memory, she gives her child a name he’d chosen for another son that he gave his life for. He says he’s five because the Koreans count age starting from 1, not 0. He’s missing a front teeth not because the writers didn’t take science in high school, but because he’s probably old enough to be losing baby teeth now.
How do we know Yong is at least visiting his two mommies?
One word: Ketong. Honestly, this kid gives it away in so many ways. Living with two women, I think it would be very hard for a four-year-old to develop such outrageous mannerisms unless he had someone he admired to copy from. When Bong Soon mentioned ‘Yong’, he showed that he was familiar with someone named Yong, which might just have been his mothers telling him about his older brother. However, that doesn’t account for his slip with the random bystander at Daeshi’s performance troupe – he actually says he couldn’t memorize his version of what happened to Iljimae, but why would he need to, unless he’s covering up for Yong, in collusion with the adults? Also, his more accurate knowledge of Iljimae’s activities (to the annoyance of the shoemaker’s dad) indicates that someone’s been showing off his exploits.
By extension, Shim Deok, Daeshi, the shoemaker, Eun Chae’s servant, the mafia dude, Eun Chae’s servant’s dad all know Yong’s alive. (Awkward moments give them away.) They actually knew who the real Iljimae was, so if something happened to him, they would know the truth too. The only reason they would spread such outrageous rumours would be if they knew they were lying. And the only reason that fits would be Yong’s desire to make sure people around him weren’t being hurt for knowing who he is.
Who are the shoes for?
According to the director/producer, one pair is for Kunghe, and another pair is for Iljimae. So we know our dude is probably living on the island with Kunghe, with the blessing of Shim Deok (except when the gisaeng, Myeong something, comes over). The shoes aren’t for Bong Soon, unfortunately, because if you noticed, Kunghe has a pair that are exactly like the ones the shoemaker delivered this time but Bong Soon has shoes made of straw, customary of travelers at that time.
Which leads us to the topic of Bong Soon… what happened to her?
From her clothes, she’s dressed as a boy, and a traveler, by her shoes. She was probably unable to resolve her issues with Kunghe in the end and opted for wandering around and not seeing him. Remember when she was about to stab Kunghe? She apologized that she would not be able to go with Yong to wherever he was going to take her. I’m guessing she knew she couldn’t stay near Kunghe and gave Yong up too, especially as he was in love with someone else. I feel so bad. Where is our cheerful happy girl?
Dani’s expression upon meeting her suggest that they haven’t seen each other in a while. Furthermore, Dani’s really odd expression indicates that Bong Soon probably doesn’t know Yong is alive. Sadly, she isn’t reconciled with Kunghe either, or they would have shown that, or at least given hints.
Why does Shi Hoo say that not giving up the proof would protect those his brother wants to protect?
Probably Shi Hoo has as much faith in his government as I do in mine, and knows that handing over the proof will mean his death and everyone else’s, if not at the crazy king’s hand, then at the hand of some unscrupulous noble. Thus, having it keeps him safe, and it gives Yong the freedom to keep being Iljimae. (Imagine the most optimistic outcome, where he’s recognized as a noble, how much trouble he would have being Iljimae. Besides, we know his father’s name isn’t cleared because the king is nervous over not having kept his promise.)
Does Eun Chae know who Iljimae is?
Yes. Even as Yong. Why? Besides the whole thing in 19 when she sensed something about Yong, when her servant mentions her husband’s first love, Eun Chae is reminded of her own first love, and she doesn’t ask about Iljimae, she asks about ‘that child’, who is Yong. When her servant is slow to come up with a response, Eun Chae shows signs of worry. Later, she goes to the tree and recalls Kyum in the same time as she does Yong. I’d say that’s enough proof for us. Unfortunately, I think at this point Eun Chae believes Iljimae is dead, though with his latest raid on the palace, she won’t think that for long.
Finally, the big question, is Iljimae alive?
YES YES YES!
Besides the PD saying that Iljimae was slashed by his own sword and fell down due to the force of the blow, and that Kunghe’s order has a pair of shoes for him, the beginning and end quite obviously show he is alive. Just as Hong Gil Dong unequivocally indicated their main characters’ deaths, Iljimae shows him in action once more.
I think I’m still going to write my own version though…
The end is nigh!
Also, here’s some music for you to enjoy – Ginkgo Hillside, of the OST, which I really really enjoy. Download it here.
Several things that jumped out at me while I was thinking about this – of course, am wasting time. But what a pleasant way of doing it.
- The beginning of the episode tallying in with all available indicators as to be the last heist Iljimae performs. Remember that Iljimae broke into the palace in the beginning, with the help of all his guy friends? It fits. There’s also a banquet going on, and the people in the palace have been forewarned… since all this stuff that we’re seeing is technically in the past, I hope the writers let us have some stuff after Iljimae comes out to the plum blossom garden… if that happens, then the narrative will take over sometime late in 19 or starting from 20. Still don’t see how they’re going to tie up all those loose ends, but bless them for trying.
- Asshat king should die, but he probably won’t, given that Iljimae is doing his ‘must-not-kill-people’ thing. He’s still going for dragging the king to his tree and making him apologize, which would work only in a bizarre parallel universe where the king actually has a conscience. Iljimae will most likely use the incident with Qing to force the king to abdicate to another one of his sons.
- Eun Chae’s words: The first and last love of my life. Err. Not to jump to conclusions, but it sounds like she won’t live. And that’s kind of … not happy for anyone.
- Bong Soon and Kunghe’s fate. Besides their own conflict, Bong Soon’s currently in danger from about 40 highly trained fighters. Even with Kunghe’s help, that’s a tall order. And if Bong Soon dies, Kunghe will jump after her killer, and go for the assassin in purple in a big way. If Kunghe dies protecting her, Bong Soon will feel super sad and probably not be in the mood to see Iljimae and Eun Chae romance each other.
- I know people have this theory that if one girl dies, the other won’t, but doesn’t that depend on how the writers are feeling that day? What if a fly landed in their breakfast and they decided they wanted the world to suffer?
- What about Shi Hoo? Will his mentor kill him? If not, will he find out who he is (more like believe it, since he already knows about half)? What will he do if he does? Will he help Yong? Will he step in at a crucial moment and save Yong’s life by sacrificing his own? Will he go crazy (with such a tightly wound personality, also not too surprising)? WWSHD?
- Kyumi’s mommy… needs to show up and meet her son. I swear. Like, it’s just too cruel making her live her entire life out and not see her son. At least send her to Dani.
Worst possible ending: Bong Soon dies from imperial soldiers, Kunghe dies avenging her on the assassin. Shi Hoo finds out his history and fights the assassin, killing him, but then he goes crazy from being responsible for his father and half-sister’s deaths. Iljimae asks Eun Chae to take care of his mother(s) and goes to the palace, is killed by king because he believes in the theory of non-killage. Eun Chae is captured by the king and tortured to death (or is forced to marry the ambassador’s son and kills herself). She writes the story of Iljimae out for Dani before she dies and thus the legend is passed down for all generations. This ending is known as the Everyone Dies Ending.
Mediumly cruel ending: Kunghe dies protecting Bong Soon from the soldiers and assassin dude in purple. Iljimae robs the palace sucessfully. Bong Soon dies in being a decoy Iljimae, and Eun Chae is killed by the assassin dude to avenge the robbery. Shi Hoo finds out his family history after researching the symbols and goes after his mentor, killing him after an epic battle. Iljimae forces the bad king to abdicate to one of his sons, and goes on being a heroic thief.
Happy ending for Bongjimaes: Eun Chae gets killed by the assassin, Iljimae goes crazy, but Shi Hoo gets to the assassin first. All missions succeed, and Yong upholds his promise to take Bong Soon away with his two mommies and lives in the mountains forever and ever, with 2^125978 children. Shi Hoo does… something.
Happy ending for Iljichaes: Everyone survives, Iljimae clears his father’s name and is reinstated as a noble (evil king dies by one of his own plots, somehow) but decides to live far away from other people in society. Shi Hoo and Dani reconcile, and Shi Hoo does his best as an important minister to ensure things are fair. Kyumi’s mommy makes yummy food for her happy grandkids.
Honestly, I don’t know. Feel free to discuss!
Yay! More meta analysis, very late in the game.
A lot of people are slagging off on Shi Hoo (myself included) and swooning over Shi Wan (myself included too). On the one hand, there’s the palpable goodwill Shi Wan radiates whenever Yong’s around, on the other hand, there’s Shi Hoo’s obvious troubled past (and present).
So, if I had to choose between the two (Iljimae being paired off with Eun Chae, woe), I’d actually go for Shi Hoo. He’s nicer, fundamentally speaking, if somewhat mistaught.
Shi Hoo is in the peculiar place of not knowing who he is. Think about it – he’s the only person in the show who doesn’t know where he’s coming from, and even his life’s goal – to become a yangban – is a sublimated desire to make his mother happy and have her accept him again. So naturally he’s lost. And it’s really not even a question of good or evil – what’s good for Byun Shik was so totally evil for Lee Won Ho and family. He doesn’t have the information we do – Shi Hoo’s smart, but not omniscient.
He’s not evil just because he decided to follow the assassin dude in purple. He is merely doing the best he can, with the indicators he has. A lot of us really hated Shi Wan at the beginning because he was an elitist little shit, but he treated Yong nicely and we suddenly have people fainting over Shi Wan. We actually have no proof that Shi Wan is nice now, he’s just nice to Yong. (Will talk about him later, must not diverge from topic at hand.) Shi Hoo is working against Yong because he believes Yong was to blame for Swe Dol’s death, for Dani’s distance from him (every time he’s seen Dani, she’s chosen Yong over him) and also because it brings him closer to his own goal.
Besides, when he saw Eun Chae in danger, even when he didn’t recognize her as his own sister anymore, he still cared for her enough not to chop her hand off, and even went directly against his mentor (who’s really very important if he wants to be a yangban) for her sake. That’s not something a selfish cold murderer does.
So, Shi Wan? I’d say he’s still the nasty little boy he was in the beginning. He’s just nicer to Yong because he feels that Yong belongs to him in a way that no one did before. Remember when he tried to save Yong from the arrow-shooting ambassador’s son? He protested that Yong was his. And who ended up carrying Yong home? He’s not nice to everyone in general, he’s just okay with someone who’ll follow him around and say things he wants to hear.
All his life, he’s been overshadowed by Shi Hoo and outshone by Eun Chae. He considers that anyone not of purely yangban blood to be inferior, and so in finding someone who’s willing to accept him, thorns and stupidity included, he’s overjoyed. Doesn’t mean he considers Yong an equal, by any stretch of the imagination. (Someone in the same position, with slightly nobler blood – Shi Hoo? He still sneers at him.)
Anyway, the two ‘brothers’ are completely opposite, as one is nice almost exclusively to his family and Yong, and the other one wants his blood and ignores his mother, but seems to treat mostly everyone else with courtesy.
Really, these people are all written that way, so Shi Hoo can’t help doing what he does, though I do wonder if he somehow pissed off the writers. And he needs a psychologist. Possibly a girlfriend too.
Lols at thinking too much about this show,
They’ve finished filming for about two months now, and broadcast projections are everywhere from May (obviously impossible) to July, to after the Olympics, which would make it after September. I should know, I’ve checked on what feels like one thousand and one Chinese forums.
Since wordpress is dysfunctional about posting videos not from google, youtube or dailymotion, I have to link you. A word of warning: it’s 18:44 long.
Lawls. I know people have said this was the idol version of the Legend of Condor Heroes, but I didn’t think they were serious. Obviously, now I know better.
Still, Ariel Lin is sufficiently cute and charming to carry off the role of Huang Rong, even without being a stunning beauty (if Liu Yifei could actually act, I would like to see her in the role, but as it is, Ariel isn’t half bad – please don’t overact it!). Hu Ge is far too pretty but still passable as the dumb but honest Guo Jing, from what I see. Yang Kang is dashing, at least, this time around, which is an agreeable change from the last version. Mu Nian Ci is still very pretty, and very tragic – but much less screen time, so all I can tell you right now is that she handles a mean spear.
I loved the Mei Chao Feng from the 2003 version, and I think it will be terribly hard for anyone to beat that performance. Her hands were beautiful and the dancing too and I just loved everything! The new one looks more wild than anything.
I love that the Genghis Khan in the 08 version was a general of Khan’s army in the 03 version. I have this terrible urge to giggle every time I see him on screen. Hua Zheng and mommy Guo get more proactive roles, which I like, but the Jin army is depicted as much more powerful, which is slightly bothersome in terms of plot logic. (And to those who’ve wondered, yes, I do talk like that. It leads to confusion and adds to the fun of life.)
I’m worried about the changes they’re making to the script (and thus the original source material)… just little things that bother me. Like that Bao Xi Ruo was turned into a power-hungry beauty who didn’t want to be picked on, or that Yang Kang suddenly grew a conscience (he was mostly a selfish, craven bastard when we last saw him), and – this is really really detailed now – they’ve changed one of the names of the moves Guo Jing uses. It’s not 亢龙在天, people. It’s 亢龙有悔 and 飞龙在天. (That’s just three out of about eighteen, in case you’re wondering.)
Anyway. Comparison/parallel would be (yay descent into detail) – like having Voldie say abra cadabra instead of avada kedavra. Doesn’t sound so different, but kind of stupid and corny when you test it out. If they’re trying to outdo the source material, then they are in so much trouble. Seriously, and not from me.
(Of course I’m a stickler for exactitude, are you kidding? This is the girl who felt shafted by every Harry Potter movie except for PoA, and that had nothing to do with adherence to plot. And did you know Prince Caspian in NINE in the books? He sure doesn’t look nine in the movie.)
Still, I eagerly await this newest version of the oft-remade Condor series.
P.S. One day, I may be up to writing out a synopsis of the book. Maybe. ;P
So Lyn dearest asked for a clarification on the maze that is the relationship between people in Iljimae – I remember drawing charts for a friend about Hong Gil Dong, and uh, being deprived of a scanner, I shall have to explain in words. (It helps me keep things clear too.)
Okay, first off, we’ll start with the person the show’s named after:
- He’s more commonly known as Yong, son of Dani and Swe Dol. To those in the know, he’s actually the adopted son of Dani and Swe Dol. His real name is Lee Kyum and his father was Lord Lee Won Ho. He also had an older sister named Yeon. He lost his memory at a young age due to the trauma of watching his father die and then having to save himself by injuring his mother – Dani comes upon him and takes him home. When he grows up, he has no memory of who he really is, and is constantly picked on by a pack of young nobles he goes to school with. One day, in desperation to save Swe Dol’s hand from being chopped off, he accepts to fight. While being beaten into the ground, he remembers his past. As he doesn’t know who killed his father but does recall an etching on the man’s sword, he becomes Iljimae to search the houses of nobles who are part of an association called Friends of Heaven. He learns his thieving skills from Swe Dol and has mastered impressive martial arts skills from Kunghe monk. On the romance side of things, Bong Soon is helplessly in love with him, while Eun Chae only loves Iljimae, thinking Yong to be an uncouth thug and mourning Kyum as her dead love. (Interestingly, she’s the only character who’s met all three personifications – Bong Soon came too late for Kyum and has yet to come face to face with Iljimae.) He shows a partiality for Eun Chae but sees Bong Soon like a friend (and treats her like an annoyance). In daily life, he acts as a useless hooligan and frustrates the life out of his adoptive parents.
The Main Protagonists (aka, people who help Yong)
- A kindhearted and somewhat failed thief who raises Shi Hoo (until he was 9) and Yong like his own sons. He was hired by Lee Won Ho’s mother to get rid of Dani (see below), who was by then pregnant with Lee Won Ho’s child. LWH himself pays Swe Dol to take Dani away and keep her and her child safe. He does so. Later, Byun Shik forces him to plant evidence of treason in LWH’s yard, and in a strange twist of fate, Shi Hoo does so, to save Swe Dol. He’s felt guilty towards Yong ever since, and considers nothing too much for the repayment of his deeds against Yong.
Prime Minister and servants
- Close friend of Lee Won Ho. He never accepted the fact that LWH was conspiring against the king and discovered that his friend was actually framed. This leads to the annihilation of himself as well as his family at the hands of the people who plotted LWH’s murder.
I was going to reply to the questions in the comments section, and I realized, once again, that I would end up talking too much to be acceptable – so here I am – question and answer time!
Joy: Also, when Yong was telling the warbler story, do you think the writers are hinting the Eun Chae will die?
- I hope not. I have had enough of main leads dying off in my favourite dramas. Thinking objectively, her dad is this super powerful noble who’s obeying the king and quite close to him, she’s fairly smart and astute, she’s got one heck of a protective older brother (who will probably try really hard to kill Iljimae at the same time) and another fairly useless but also protective one. And if she dies, we know Iljimae does too, go drama logic. However, if you think about it – Kyum is the tree. Eun Chae thinks that Kyum is dead, remember? So she’s like the warbler, forever circling the tree and thinking of her dead love. One day a plum tree, aka Yong, pops up, and she is so happy. When she discovers that Yong = Iljimae, she’ll probably have to change herself to better protect the one she loves, and they’ll live with each other happily ever after. It’s my theory. (No dashing cold water on Sevenses, please.)
Emilia: the messenger was the dude trying to deliver the message that kyum’s dad’s friend wrote to kyum?
- No. The king remarks that the messenger was not in fact trying to get to Kyum. He thinks that he made a mistake in the beginning, assuming that Kyum was alive. He is now going to focus his attention on the nobles who have noticed Lee Won Ho’s strange death. The messenger was headed for, I believe, the person Kyum impersonated at the party (didn’t quite catch his name, Minister Kim something or other).
Everyone: What happens to him in the end??
- Lols. No clue. Assuming they don’t go down the HGD road, Eun Chae and Yong will probably get together and pretend to be prosperous hotel owners or something.
Really really itching for Wednesday,