Home > Korean Dramas > Dong-yi Episode 3 recap

Dong-yi Episode 3 recap

Monday, April 5, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Okay, just, I’m sure y’all know this already, but the first few episodes of a sageuk is nearly always filled with what I call the path where the hero/heroine has to walk through a valley of angst and dead relatives before establishing themselves in a lifelong mission of finding out why. So, the bloodshed is expected?

*passes you pre-emptive tissue*

Episode 3

Dong-yi’s father and brother are being taken away to prison. Given the fact that they were seen at the site of a yangban murder and are leaders of the Geumgae (the Sword Society), the future is really not looking that bright for them. At this point, however, Dong-yi doesn’t know anything, and most of her distress stems from seeing her father and brother carted away like criminals.

She makes to follow them, but they both make clear, through facial expressions and not-so-subtle lip speech, that she needs to get away. (I do kind of wonder at how slow the guards are being, given that she’s literally walking after them, screaming ‘Dad’ and ‘Big brother’ at them.) The two Choi men have resigned themselves, but their worst fear is that Dong-yi would somehow get herself caught up in this and executed as well.

It’s a legitimate fear, given how people in power like razing entire villages to the ground for the putative mistake of one person.

Ahem. I digress.


Fortunately for Dong-yi’s continued survival, that Daoist soothsayer from last episode comes back and keeps her quiet as the procession of soldiers make its way to the central prison.

It’s the third time we’ve seen him, and from his apprentice’s reaction, it seems like he’s been taking an interest in Dong-yi and following her around. (Or at least her notable aura with its clashing futures.) Keep an eye out, since he seems to be relatively accurate with his predictions and thus it won’t be the last we see of him.

He takes Dong-yi to an abandoned pavilion, where a frantic Chun-soo finds her. (Baby, what happened to not taking candy from strangers??)

Dong-yi’s completely in pieces by now, and wants to know why he saved her, since she’s pretty much your average stranger. The soothsayer tells her that her aura predicts great things, and that everything will turn out to be alright, so both she and Chun-soo take their leave.

His apprentice asks him, once again serving as the audience’s mouthpiece, whether Dong-yi will be alright, and the soothsayer can only shake his head and sigh. According to him, everything hinges on the next few days: Dong-yi needs to survive in order to come into her own. To which I say: Dude, that goes for everyone else as well. Stop fronting!

Poor Inspector Seo is taking it hard. Father and beloved mentor gone on the same day! He blames himself for both: asking his father to involve himself in politics, and for trusting someone who was apparently lying to him from day one.

He’s not completely blindsided into passivity by his grief, however, as he notes that Oh Yoon has forbidden him all contact with Choi Hyo-won. Seo’s also been taken off the murder cases and is the subject of an internal investigation, but that’s just a formality given how close he was to the apparent suspect.

During the investigation, Seo shows that he still has faith in Choi Hyo-won, as he refuses to answer any and all questions until he has met with the latter. It’s a brave but terribly risky move on his part, as this could potentially implicate him in his own father’s murder, in addition to making him look unfilial.

He is aware of how badly it looks, and agrees to exile himself to a distant prefecture as soon as investigations wrap up. (The actor has an awesome face of iron resolve, I have to admit.)

As part of the ongoing campaign to bring as much angst as possible into the lives of the main characters, Seo is show a notebook with his particulars written down. It was seized during the raid on Geumgae headquarters, and serves as a final piece of proof to turn Seo against Choi Hyo-won.

And it works, wonderfully, as both men confront each other in the prison and neither is able to really say what is on their minds. Seo asks if Choi really killed his father, yearning with every fibre of his being for a denial, while Choi regrets ever involving Seo and causing him this kind of pain, so he goes with a noncommittal apology instead.

(This sort of thing drives me crazy. Bad communication kills in kdrama, people!)

Hurt, Seo then piles on his insecurity at having been lied to all these years, and demands to know if Choi had only been mocking him and taking advantage of his admiration.

On the same night, Dong-yi and Chun-soo make a fugitive’s home of it near the ruins of the Geumgae headquarters. She’s (not unreasonably) shaken by the day’s events, and rues her disobedience to her father. Chun-soo, in a move that warms the cockles of my jaded heart, takes little Dong-yi’s hands and promises her that everything will be alright.

And he adds that he’s never lied to her ever, so she should trust him.

Apparently Chun-soo’s foolproof plan for alrightness involves jailbreak. (Omg insert facepalm.) He knows Choi Hyo-won told him to stay away, but knowing also that the execution date has been pushed up to noon the next day, Chun-soo is unable to stand and do nothing.

There’s also an emotional reunion with Ge-dwo-ra’s father, who turns out to also be a member of the Geumgae. (Are you surprised? Say no.) He and the thirty-odd remaining members will rush the prisoner escort the next day and hopefully escape to safety.

While out buying munitions and other things needed for the attack, Dong-yi encounters a palace maid who used the same hand signal as the murdered noble. (The honorific title used here is slightly higher ranked than just a plain maid but I haven’t been able to find an approximation, unless it’s court lady, and that sounds like she’s an ajumma, which is so not the case, so…)

This girl, as we go on to discover, is Jang Ok-jeong, aka Jang Hui-bin of queen-ousting fame. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Naturally intrigued as to why she also knows the Secret Handshake (sorry, couldn’t help myself), Dong-yi follows the girl.

Dong-yi sees that she’s dropped a butterfly pendant, and picks it up, but discovers that the girl is nowhere to be seen. (Crouching maid, hidden ninja?) (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Anyway, Jang Ok-jeong comes out from behind Dong-yi and thanks her for giving back the pendant, adding that it’s very precious to her. When her escort of royal soldiers show up, Jang reveals that she recognizes Dong-yi from all the wanted posters, and gently reminds her to stay away from official personages, as they will know who she is faster. Then she turns around and distracts her guards so Dong-yi can make her getaway.

This encounter tells us several things: Jang Ok-jeong did not start out evil and plotty, she’s familiar with subterfuge, and I am surprisingly taken with the antagonist of this show.

The next morning Chun-soo tells Dong-yi to follow along with one of the Geumgae ajusshis quietly to the outreaches of the kingdom and that he’ll come for her when everything is over. Dong-yi is more sensibly dressed in boy’s clothing now, and nods cheerfully.

The audience, being wise to kdrama patterns, have by now inferred that Chun-soo is going to be separated from Dong-yi for a lot longer than a few days, and sob accordingly.

The rescue plan goes as well as can be expected, by which I mean, the Geumgae manage to break out the prisoners, but are chased to a cliff-top and killed by royal soldiers.

Everyone dies.

Chun-soo, utterly defeated, falls off the cliff.

Yes, that cliff. (He’s the second male lead, and will make a comeback, but just uh, this cliff seems pretty difficult to survive, even if one falls into water without life-threatening injuries – and you’re not Bella Swan? But of such stuff are the plots of sageuks made.)

Dong-yi hears of the execution of Geumgae leaders from gossiping boat passengers and runs out, following the trail of blood all the way to the cliff.

Most of the bodies have been cleared away, but it’s pretty obvious what happened here. Dong-yi finds a little cloth pouch that she had sewn for her father lying on the ground and Chun-soo’s shoe, both dirty with blood, and realizes that she has just lost her entire family.

The all-knowing daoist soothsayer is now invited to Lord Oh’s house (by a retinue of soldiers, way to not freak your guest out) for a reading. Turns out Lord Oh wants to know if Jang Ok-jeong is worth supporting, as the daughter of a South faction member and uncommonly smart and pretty as she is.

He tells Lord Oh that Jang has a singularly regal face, and is destined for great things (meaning royal status). He adds that for someone like her, becoming a mere court lady is only the first step to the ‘ultimate ascension’. (Okay, the more I listen, the more he sounds like a crackpot.)

However, out in the garden, the soothsayer has words of caution for Jang. He’s seen the same great destiny in someone else’s face, and warns her that if they were to meet, Jang would inevitably become that other woman’s shadow (uh, too late).



– I have to say, I’m fairly skeptical about the inclusion of all this soothsaying into the drama. As a firm believer of deciding your own life, I think it makes the stories weaker if destiny gets shoved into the mix – as if their interactions were foreordained from the very beginning, and not the results of the different choices they made in the course of their lives.

– Besides, I’d like to give Jang Hui-bin the credit of wanting to fight for her position in the court to her, and not some ‘fate of greatness’.


  1. moonytravels
    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 5:49 pm


    You’re starting to convince me to watch this.

  2. Bashful82
    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Up to Ep 3 and am loving the show. Thanks for the great recaps – this is my fourth sageuk and am loving it. (Though have also gotten into the modern drama too — which can really eat time.)

    Let’s see – revise for law exam or shout obscenities at the foolish idiots who don’t communicate! 😀

    The cliff of doom—for some reason, it looks like the one where Deok Man popped her clogs off in QSD.

  3. Bashful82
    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Ohhh…also the cave where our heroine fell into after hearing the family has been killed looks like the place where Jang Geum buried her dear old mum…

  4. dangermousie
    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I just checked out DY and it’s total total love. I blame you for my resulting lack of free time.

  5. estel
    Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I just stumbled upon your site, but I have to say, I’m glad I did! I love your witty recaps and your sardonic little comments about kdrama staple plotpoints. By which I mean things like this: The audience, being wise to kdrama patterns, have by now inferred that Chun-soo is going to be separated from Dong-yi for a lot longer than a few days, and sob accordingly. and Everyone dies. Heheh. Not that dying is funny, no.

  6. anastassia
    Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Hi sevenses,

    I have lurking your blogs for a while now. Since two years back I think. I just wanna ask several questions regarding Dong Yi ep 5 if I may:-


    m just beginning watching Dong Yi. Whilst I’m enjoying this seaguk drama very much I found myself confused for some detalis that have been a significant plot through ep 5-6.

    I wondered two things:-

    1) Why Court Lady Jung was exiled of the palace in the first place?
    2) Why she can return back.

    The character and plot movement from ep 4 to 5 was significant to the story but did not executed well. It made us confused.

    Thanks so much and I hope you can help me clear this question since its really bothering me. I can’t understand why such a vital plot left in the dark when it has cause a massive chaos on the drama from ep 5 onwards.

    • sevenses
      Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm

      1) Court Lady Jang (I’m assuming you’re talking about Jang Ok-jeong?) is of half-yangban/noble half-slave ancestry, and the queen dowager really didn’t like that she was so close with the king. She was sent away probably because the queen dowager and her political supporters pressured the king.

      2) I assume this is because the king, as of then, had no issue (girl or boy) so they preferred to having a royal child from Jang as opposed to no heirs at all.

      I’m unclear on this also, but there was documentation of the reasons, I think.

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