I was craving me some Swe Dol, so I watched this movie, which has surprisingly young-looking Lee Jun Ki and an adorable Lee Moon Shik. I believe there is also a Japanese movie of the same name, and both are based on a manga… but anyway, this version stands out by virtue of Lee Jun Ki’s beautiful face.
The Spirit of This Place – Core of Soul (Do tell me if this doesn’t work for you.)
LJK plays recalcitrant high schooler Seung Suk, while LMS plays your typical white-collar father. When his daughter is beaten up by a high school boxing champion, LMS’s character, Jang Ga Pil, feels his own powerlessness and disappoints his daughter and wife by his craven behaviour. Stung by his daughter’s rejection, Jang goes to knife the bastard who did it. He is stopped by Seung Suk and two friends, who honestly wish to help him.
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…
Darlings! He’s not dead!
I know it’s confusing, but I’ll give you my take on it… but first I’d like to thank everyone who’s been diligently following the recaps and the drama, there are too many of you to name, but do know that I appreciate your feedback, encouragement and capslocked comments.
And sorry if this wasn’t as early as usual, there was a slight delay in csub release… and torrenting sucked more than usual…
I think an appropriate song for this episode would be Homecoming, by Vienna Teng. Especially that one phrase, when she says, ‘We all have our own endings, and we all have our own scars…” Anyway, on with the recap.
Episode 20, finale
The king comes back – as he remembers Yong as the one who came to voice the people’s complaints. The king comments that the look in his eyes is memorable, but wonders why he is here. Yong makes something up about building up a Korea that takes care of its people, and that he’s a guard because he wanted to contribute. He also adds that there weren’t enough people to help out at the banquet, so the extra guards are doing what they can. He tells the king his ‘real’ name (he made something up) and gets away with it.
The mafia dude and the hunter’s son tell him to do his stuff. They can take care of moving the stuff out.
Shi Hoo stares at the men to be shipped off and knows that Iljimae will come here for sure, however, he is called away. The guards for the men are tricked away by Yong in a palace soldier costume and the captured men make a successful escape. Shi Hoo runs back but is too late.
Iljimae continues searching through the different palace buildings while the captives dig at a particular spot in the palace. Escape tunnels ftw. Lol. The men’s directions come from Daeshi’s favourite wooden mask, which has instructions from Iljimae written on the inner side.
Having watched 20 live, I feel like spitting blood, but okay, here’s your recap. More thanks to the lovely people over at tsks for the subs!
Have some music! Iljimae OST track 4: Fate, by Woong San
Yay! Shi Hoo doesn’t die. The assassin can’t bring himself to kill Shi Hoo after all. I mean, his student just kneels there and accepts giving up his life, and the dude in purple has a heart. Assassin number 2 comes up with news that their troops came upon Iljimae in the mountain.
Yong looks for Bong Soon, but is intercepted by Shim Deok, who has a letter from Kunghe. The letter says, in Kunghe’s voice:
“Bong Soon only wants to find the person who killed her parents and brother and avenger herself. She lived for this all her life. But she has decided to abandon that and die for you. As for me, I will not let my daughter go to her death this way. If I die, Yong, please take care of her for me. She really is very pitiful.”
Cue Yong running frantically to the mountains to try to find Bong Soon. Also cue Bong Soon running like the wind (a very cute wind) in front of a mass of killers. She is cornered on the edge of a cliff, and unless I’m mistaken, it’s the cliff Kyum fell off years ago, and the one Hong Gil Dong fell off, in another time.
Oh, bad. Bong Soon is surrounded, and assassin 2 is a better fighter than she is. Damn it. Kunghe runs up, and asks to kill Iljimae, blaming his daughter’s death on him. Bong Soon is wounded and lying on the ground. Assassin 1 is happy at seeing his old ‘look’, which is his killing look, I guess.
This in from leejunkibar.com, home of LJK enthusiasts who translated the latest text spoilers.
Episode 19, spoilers ahead, you stand/sit warned.
The assassin is just about to bring his sword down on Shi Hoo when an underling brings in news about the other assassin facing down with Iljimae. He is surprised and wide-eyed.
On the other side of things, Yong gets a booklet of Kunghe’s from Shim Deok, and when he opens it, he too, is shocked.
Another day, Yongi gets close to Shi Wan to gather news about the placement of the troops and all sorts of info he’ll next for the raid on the palace. Meanwhile, the demoted Byun Shik (he’s a herder in Jeju now) finally opens up to Shi Hoo, and tells him what he has buried in his heart for a long time… Shi Hoo, upon hearing them, is shocked…
Oh my, things are getting all sorts of exciting! (And lots of shocking people in this episode too. )
Woke up at unholy hour to listen to a long thunderstorm. Brain now scrambled beyond belief. Don’t worry, this episode isn’t as bad as the last one for tears, though um… I think you’ll agree with me when you say, “Wah?”.
Byun Shik: I may be greedy, but I never lie!
Lol. Just as Iljimae is about to get the truth of his father’s murderer out of Byun Shik, Eun Chae comes up with a sword in her hand. She tells Iljimae that she’ll never forgive him, that she’ll kill him now. (Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, yo.)
Byun Shik’s brain is ringing alarm bells because his precious baby daughter is also in danger. Eun Chae moves to chop Iljimae in half (um, skull usually not best point of entry for sword) but Iljimae has the superior fighter skillz so he ends up holding Eun Chae by swordpoint. Lots of shrieking from Byun Shik, less shrieking from Eun Chae.
Byun Shik begs him to spare Eun Chae. Under threat, he tells Iljimae that he was under orders from the Lee person, who is dead. He also says that the fake Iljimae was killed because he overheard stuff from the two nobles. (He’s lying about the former.) Iljimae is like, do I look dumb?
He slices open Byun Shik’s shirt and lets Eun Chae go, and since they both thought he was going to kill Byun Shik, the two are gasping on the floor. There is no tattoo on Byun Shik’s chest. Iljimae wants to know who else was in the group, but Byun Shik lies through his teeth and says he doesn’t know.
Okay, so get your chocolate, alcohol, teddy bears, kleenex and whatever comforts you ready. Super intense stuff ahead.
Deep into the night, Shi Wan leads people with a stretcher. He tells Shi Hoo to take care of the rest. He comments that he doesn’t know what this guy overheard, to do this to him… Shi Hoo lifts the cloth cover and sees his father. He gets emotional. Shi Wan solidly avers that he doesn’t know what’s going on. (Looks as apologetic as he ever will.)
Shi Hoo carries his father home on his back. Shi Wan helps a bit.
Yong is in his lair, putting his armour and stuff away. He realizes that there’s something not quite right about his room, and notices that the paper is gone, and so’s his other costume. He sees the lockpick on his table and recalls all the weird stuff that’s gone on, and realizes his father was helping him.
Shi Hoo carries Swe Dol home, to Swe Dol’s own request. He asks Shi Hoo not to blame his mother, that it’s all his fault. Shi Hoo doesn’t want him to use more energy to talk, but Swe Dol goes on to ask him to take care of Yong, to see him as a brother, to not fight with each other.
Yong goes back to the noble’s house to check what went on, and overhears two servants gossiping about the fake Iljimae. Their descriptions confirm that it is indeed Swe Dol…
Sorry guys, this was all I could find…
Yong hears about Swe Dol being captured as Iljimae and is furious. He prepares everything he can think of to get his father out. Daeshi and Mr. Braids are going to help him…
On the other hand, Eun Chae hears about Iljimae’s capture (so they’re still telling everyone that they’ve caught Iljimae, but not that their person is fake?). She is devastated. A few days later she goes to her plum tree to mourn. There, she meets a man sobbing sadly under the tree…
It may be false, but here are some BTS pictures.
(I hope the boy is Yong, and not Shi Hoo. But why would Shi Hoo be there anyway? *is protective of her ship*)
Woah. This one is uh… slightly intense. TT
Shi Hoo discovers the pipe that was prominently featured in the last episode, illuminating the escape route – the water weakened the walls so that everyone could push the wall aside.
Everyone receives the news of Iljimae’s latest exploits with joy (except maybe the noble court). The hunter in particular is very grateful. Swe Dol rushes home, where the doctor is tending to Yong, and he remarks that his wound has worsened. Swe Dol is so touched he cries, though the doctor misinterprets this and tells him that his son isn’t going to die.
The king receives the news of the ambassador and his son being stuffed into a shipping crate bound for China with ill grace. The news has gotten so widespread that it’s no longer wise to keep shielding the two. The king exiles the father-son duo, while stripping five other nobles of their assets to pay the families of the wronged. He’s not happy though. He curses Iljimae for forcing him to do this.
And in the streets, even while everyone else is celebrating the exile, Shim Deok points out that the one who chased away the two idiots isn’t the king, but Iljimae. If it weren’t for him, she says, the king would have done his usual one eye open/one eye shut policy.