There are consequences for leaving your husband if you are a merchant…and it isn’t pleasant.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 8 Recap
Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) courageously saved So Sa (Han Chae Ah) by jumping from a cliff, diving into a river, and extracting her from a sinking pallet. She is grateful. She wants to escape her father, who sells her to the highest bidder, and follow Bong Sam to become a merchant. Bong Sam is flustered. It is moot, when her father appears and drags her away. He’s so cheap that a bow is all Bong Sam gets as a thank you.
Head Merchant stares at the drawing of So Sa with longing. The assistant to the Head Merchant whines to Hak Joon. He fuels the assistant’s insecurities by saying the Head Merchant is fit enough to sire a child which would put the assistant out of the line of succession. Hak Joon recommends the assistant gather money and overthrow the Head Merchant. How could the assistant gather money without the Head Merchant’s knowledge? The answer is the old standby…become an opium dealer. That’s illegal and the assistant has the consider that as the consequences would be grave (recall Bong Sam’s father was killed for supposedly smuggling opium, though it was So Gae’s bag with the illegal opium).
So Rye takes Hak Joon aside to convince him, this is the time to go big or go home. He must go outside his comfort zone and purchase the stables. Hak Joon correctly states that going into new areas shouldn’t could cost him his life. Hak Joon declares this deal is nothing like his 3 year stalk, bribe, and ruin plan for Chun Merchant Group. This deal is cattle brokers who are ignorant, violent, yet loyal only to themselves. No, Hak Joon declares, he will not lose his life. So Rye chides Hak Joon that he will never beat the Head Merchant by playing it safe. She pricks his pride when she asks how long will he cow-tow to his brother. This is the deal of lifetime. Hak Joon reverses his opinion pleasing So Rye.
Hak Joon’s offer is only 10,000 coins. Man Chi is insulted. So Rye states only Hak Joon will offer for the deed to stables. This is a take or leave it moment. Man Chi ups the demands to 20,000 in the form of a promissory note and travel cash. Hak Joon agrees and writes the agreement. He giddily reads what he gets – stables and cattle. Bang Geum tells Man Chi the cattle aren’t his to sell, those belong to Teacher Bong. Man Chi declares that Teacher Bong’s cattle are a bonus. So Rye perks up as they discuss Teacher Bong. Hak Joon hands over the promissory note and travel cash. Man Chi and Bang Geum depart.
So Rye is stoked. She tells faithful Deuk Gae she’s waited 18 years for this moment. Hak Joon has made the fateful decision that will lead to his death and her freedom. She orders Deuk Gae to follow Man Chi and Bang Geum, take back the promissory note and let those searching for the couple know their whereabouts. When Hak Joon is found with the promissory note by the Head Merchant…her long awaited revenge will come to fruition. As Deuk Gae starts to leave she asks him to find out about Teacher Bong.
Head stable merchant Jo Sung Joon is literally sharping his knife when he learns that his thieving partner, Man Chi and his wayward wife, Bang Geum have been located. Sung Joon’s face tells you that he will extract his revenge once he finds them.
Man Chi and Bang Geum, find So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) and Gae Dong preparing supper. Man Chi suggests they share the food. So Gae remembers Man Chi from a less than positive childhood encounter. So Gae isn’t thrilled with sharing but Gae Dong is agreeable. When the merchants hunting Man Chi and Bang Geum arrive, they want to read the warrant.
Bong Sam and his traveling companion eat supper. Bong Sam is flustered when a woman from So Sa’s entourage walks by. He declares he will ask for her hand tonight! When the merchants hunting Man Chi and Bang Geum arrive, they want to read the warrant.
With the reaction of Man Chi and Bang Geum as the warrant is read, So Gae quickly ascertains that his supper companions are wanted. Gae Dong understands this as well. The reader states that death is the punishment for these crimes. Man Chi almost gives them away. Gae Dong suggests they exit the camp. Man Chi and Bang Geum agree they need to depart. So Gae sees the opportunity.
Bong Sam is gobsmacked when he learns Man Chi and Bang Geum ran off together after taking the stable deed. He must sort out the situation. His travel companion asks if this is more important than marriage. Bong Sam the stable mess wipes his finances anyhow, he couldn’t afford So Sa. He and his travel companion switch shirts in a show of friendship. Sorry but I liked the blue shirt versus the swapped brown shirt.
So Gae searches Man Chi’s belongings while he sleeps. He finds the promissory note. Man Chi wakes up. They fight over the promissory note. The struggle involves So Gae squeezing Man Chi’s man parts. That went on a bit too long for my taste. So Gae has Man Chi’s surrender. Bong Sam, hidden in the trees, flings a rock and knocks out So Gae. Man Chi grabs the promissory note and hobbles away.
The stables’ merchants want their money. They threaten to grab what they can to repay their debt. Bong Sam arrives and convinces the merchants to leave. The stable is part of their economic fabric. Looting it won’t help. Bong Sam declares he must leave immediately to stop Sung Joon from killing Man Chi. His friend comes with him.
So Gae is nursed back from unconsciousness by Gae Dong. So Gae bemoans that being an honest merchant hasn’t brought him the big money. He’ll never be the best merchant at this rate. He needs cash. Man Chi’s promissory note is big money. Gae Dong tells him, go big or go home. Steal the promissory note. His thievery will be on a grander scale and offers big rewards. Nice touch Gae Dong’s advice to So Gae mirrors So Rye’s advice to Hak Joon. Gae Dong believes Man Chi and Bang Geum are still close by. So Gae rushes out to catch them.
Bong Sam finds Man Chi. Ever the hot head, Man Chi accuses Bong Sam of convincing Sung Joo to put out a warrant. Bong Sam tells him to forget that and give him the promissory note. The men fight. Man Chi nicks Bong Sam’s arm. Bong Sam disarms Man Chi and asks “how many have to die because of your temper?” He tells Man Chi that if the stables go bankrupt the ripple effect will hurt hundreds of families. Nice that Bong Sam referenced his father in the argument.
Jung Soo’s traveling companion finds Bong Sam and Man Chi fighting. He bangs his pot which Jung Soo hears and comes running.
So Gae is tracking Man Chi.
Bong Sam tells Man Chi to run before Jung Soo finds them. Man Chi gets angry at that. Bong Sam says that Man Chi saved his life when he was a boy. His gratitude will not end. He urges Man Chi to give him the promissory notes and flee.
Too late, Sung Joo arrives. Bong Sam tries to diffuse the situation but to no avail. Jung Soo looks at his wayward wife, Bang Geum, and draws his knife. She rushes in and tells Man Chi it’s over. Man Chi drops his weapon.
But it’s not over. Sung Joo is set on punishing Man Chi and Bang Geum. She pays with her feet. Yuck! When Sung Joo draws his knife to punish Man Chi, Bong Sam intervenes. He tells Jung Soo to stop this. Sung Joo stares at Bong Sam and he stares back.
The eighth episode could be called “Man Chi’s Folly”. Man Chi personifies the phrase “Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.” This was a good episode.
* Bong Sam set aside his desire to marry So Sa to save the stables and his mentors. Bong Sam fell hard for So Sa but AFTER her father snatched her back. I loved the realization when he couldn’t sleep and decided to get her back. Nice touch to have him retrieve the braided item from the shrine as he left the camp. He was adorably nervous when they reached the town. But then the warrant for Man Chi and Bang Geum was read and Bong Sam’s priorities shifted away from his needs to helping his mentors. That is likely the big difference between So Gae and Bong Sam. So Gae is only thinking of himself while Bong Sam is thinking of others.
* So Rye got managed to push Hak Joon to buy the stable. She did a terrific job of subtly swaying Hak Joon’s mind to embrace not run from the deal. Best episode of the series so far for her. She appeared smart, she believes Teacher Bong could be her brother, and she sent Deuk Gae to retrieve the promissory note so she can frame Hak Joon. Bravo So Rye. I don’t know if her plan will work but it was great to see her proactive not reactive.
* So Gae immediately knew the promissory note could be his ticket to wealth and power. The fight with Man Chil was too long. So Gae didn’t appreciate Gae Dong’s tender care of him. He doesn’t seem to value Gae Dong. This does point that So Gae’s priority is his wishes, others are tools to get what he wants. Yep, that can morph into a villain.
So Sa was a mere blip in this episode before her father swept her away She has no idea that Bong Sam has fallen for her. I don’t envy her situation. It seems likely that her father will try and sell her to the Head Merchant.
Man Chi actions – taking Sung Joo’s wife Bang Geum and the deed, when he fled the stables had consequences. Man Chi’s temper has consistently been his achilles heel. He was unable to comprehend Bong Sam’s sound logic to turn over the promissory note and flee. He was unable to comprehend that Bong Sam cared for him. He was unable to comprehend the lengths that Jung Soo would go to for retribution. How can he live what his actions cost Bang Geum? Just like the fight between So Gae and Man Chi went on too long. Sung Joo’s punishment of Bang Geum went on too long and was too severe.