Bong Sam and So Gae are walking parallel paths, though they don’t know it.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 6 Recap
So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) struggles to avoid the punishment that was warranted when the Head Merchant’s assistant found ledgers that So Gae took to learn how the Head Merchant made money. So Gae grabs a burning stick and holds off his pursuers and runs to the Head Merchant’s room. He demands the Head Merchant tell him if the punishment came from him or his assistant. The Head Merchant notes that women, wine, and gambling don’t cost lives but looking into your boss’s secrets does risk your life. So Gae pleads for his life. Head Merchant scoffs that So Gae tried to learn his secrets and kill his business, there will be no mercy. So Gae is hit repeatedly. So Gae grits out that he will return and become the greatest merchant of all. Head Merchant throws 2 coins to the ground and says that was the same amount he started with 40 years ago. He tells So Gae to see what he can do with it. He is forced to drink the water. His body is dumped on the road. Gae Dong finds him. So Gae grabs her leg so she doesn’t leave him.
Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) proudly proclaims he sold 3 cows. The head merchants, Jo Sung Joon and Song Man Chi, doubt this. The purchasing villagers come forward. Man Chi gets angry, the villagers are too poor. They don’t have the 30 coin down payment. Bong Sam argues the cow will increase the yield on their farm land, so the merchants will be paid. No go, this is a cash upfront business. If the cows die before they are paid off, they lose profit. Bong Sam refuses to nullify the agreement. Sung Joon agrees the villagers can have the cows with the 90 coin deposit IF Bong Sam agrees to be indebted for the remaining 810 coins. That gives Sung Joon the cash upfront and the risk/debt to Bong Sam. Unfortunately Bong Sam can’t take the risk. Sung Joon tells him to send the villagers home and leaves.
So Gae wakes remembering his father’s words to become the greatest merchant of all. So Gae is upset that the 10 years he spent with the Head Merchant are all for naught. He vows to returns and take down the Head Merchant. He cries that he misses his father. Gae Dong watches.
Bong Sam realizes that discriminating the cows Sung Joon sells is important. To that end, he draws picture of the cows he plans to sell. Everyone thinks he is crazy.
So Gae vows to protect Gae Dong to repay the debt of Gae Dong saving his life. It is obvious Gae Dong is a girl, not a boy. Is there a historical drama that does not utilize this plot point?
Now we find out why Bong Sam did the drawing. He intends to brand the cow. Sung Joon demands to know if Bong Sam will assume the debt if the villagers cannot pay in the next 2 years. Bong Sam says he will take responsibility for the debt. Bong Sam invokes his father’s last words – to be diligent and earnest – to argue he is worth the risk. Sung Joon says if he cannot pay back the debt then he if forever indebted to be his cook. Bong Sam is confident that branding the cows and selling on credit are the necessary next steps.
8 year time jump….
We learn that Bong Sam’s branding and credit for cows has been a successful. People want to buy cows from their stables. Bong Sam is still drawing pictures of the cows for sale, along with pertinent characteristics of each cow.
So Rye (Park Eun Hye) and Hak Joon are impressed with the detail of the records Bong Sam keeps on each cow. So Rye and Hak Joon are surprised to learn the cows are sold on credit. They are further surprised the cows are kept healthy after purchase so the debt can be repaid. So Rye’s ears perk up when she hears that “Mr. Bong” is the genius behind the initiative. Hak Joon is intrigued as well. They agree to go and visit the stable.
So Rye tells Deuk Gae she’s got this feeling the Mr. Bong could be Bong Sam. The upfront credit is just like her father. The accounting book is just like her father. Deuk Gae leaves to check out Mr. Bong.
It’s like a festival of fun when the stables celebrate selling 10,000 cows. Sung Joo’s smile is erased when Hak Joon shows up. He demands reimbursement on the 2400 coins he loaned Sung Joo. Deuk Gae arrives looking for Mr. Bong. Hak Joon wants to meet the heir to the stables. Man Chi comes forward. Hak Joon doesn’t want to meet Man Chi, he wants to meet Mr. Bong. Man Chi takes that as an insult. He throws Hak Joon to the ground. Man Chi then grabs Bong Sam, irritated that he is perceived of as the next man in line. Hmm, I see the parallel between the Head Merchant’s Assistant jealously over So Gae and Man Chi’s jealousy over Bong Sam’s rising status. Sung Joo tells Man Chi to take his hands off Bong Sam. Man Chi demands that Sung Joo declare who is next in line to run the stables – him or Bong Sam? Sung Joo hesitates, hating to hurt his partner, but declares Bong Sam is the next in line. Bong Sam is stunned. Man Chi is livid and throws things including Bong Sam. Hak Joon tries to distract Man Chi but to no avail. Sung Joo is furious that Hak Joon opened his big mouth and created this mess. Hak Joon claps his hand over his mouth. Man Chi is knocked down by Bong Sam. They stare at each other. Bong Sam declares he won’t take the position of Head Merchant and walks away. Man Chi and his anger issues can’t let Bong Sam simply walk away. Man Chi demands to know why Bong Sam stayed for 8 years and increased his personal cattle herd to 17 if he wasn’t interested in being next in line. Man Chi throws a rock at Bong Sam. Tired of Man Chi’s anger, Bong Sam lets him have it. He declares Man Chil doesn’t realize that the Head Merchant takes care of the entire organization. Bong Sam yells “Don’t you know how my father died? Don’t you know how So Gae’s father died? Why would I want that position? I won’t become Head Merchant!” Bong Sam strides away.
Hak Joon and his brother seem to have a more positive relationship. They both agree living long is a primary goal.
So Rye wants the details on Hak Joon’s visit to the stables. He tells her there was an issue on who would become the next Head Merchant. He wonders if the 30 year business relationship between Sung Joo and Man Chi has been permanently impaired. Hak Joon laughs with zest at the revenge he wrought on Sung Joo and Man Chi by upsetting their relationship. So Rye tells Hak Joon he is clever.
So Rye does not believe that Bong Sam is not related to her even though Deuk Gae tells her this is what he learned at the stables. She decides to go see for herself.
Bong Sam observes Man Chi’s anger at Sung Joo’s support for Bong Sam. Sung Joo tells him it’s time for the younger generation to take over, they can be the cornerstones. Man Chi counters that while the stable has grown in size, the personal touch is gone. They don’t even know the names of all their employees any more. Sung Joo counters now their business is legitimate and supports 87 families that have a good living. Man Chi cries, seeing his relationship with Sung Joo crumbling before his eyes. He cries his frustration that Bong Sam is the problem. Bong Sam looks to the heavens and decides his next move.
The six episode gave us parallel paths for Bong Sam and So Gae. So Rye will be too late to find her brother. I said last episode that So Gae was ahead of Bong Sam and So Rye in becoming a powerful merchant. This episode was the reset. It is even between both men now.
* Bong Sam’s natural merchant abilities shone. I was pleased to see him quote and respect his father. I liked his innovations – credit for cattle and branding the cattle. I’m actually glad that Bong Sam left the stables solo. He will now truly blaze his own path. That’s what I want to see. The Jang Hyuk highlight for me? When he overheard Man Chi blaming him for the discord and dissolution of his business relationship to Sung Joo. When Jang Hyuk looked to the heavens and sighed, you knew his decision. He couldn’t take the position, the only option was to leave. I note he only got 1 coin to start his journey. So Gae got double that!
* So Rye has spent 18 years being with Hak Joon! She sent the faithful Deuk Gae to determine if Mr. Bong was Bong Sam. I was actually surprised that she did not go on the trip herself. She said she wanted to go and Hak Joon did not object. I’d rather the writer had Hak Joon block her from going to the stable so Deuk Gae was her only option. Now she seems a bit reactive. She didn’t get the confirmation from Deuk Gae, and now she’s going to journey alone to find Bong Sam at the stables? She appears the weakest and will only find out that it is too late, Bong Sam will be gone. What I’m saying is there is little to be impressed with So Rye yet. She’s survived, good for her, but her cage has cost her.
* So Gae’s decision to investigate what made the Head Merchant successful by nosing around private ledgers cost him. I agree that the Head Merchant could not allow So Gae to stay. The Head Merchant’s Assistant enjoyed the beating, water torture, and kicking So Gae out! Again, I don’t dislike So Gae, He is diligently trying to achieve his father’s final wish. Can you blame him?
Female pretending to be a Male. Been there, done that. Historical dramas have a rinse, lather, repeat mentality on this particular plot point. Let’s see if this series does it well. It is obvious she’s not male.