A target is placed on Bong Sam. Too many people want him dead for my comfort.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 15 Recap
The grain ship gets launched today. Everyone has gathered. So Sa (Han Chae Ah) is introduced as the most beautiful woman in the world and the Head Merchant’s wife. She and Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) lock eyes for moment, then look away. Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) arrives. Bong Sam is surprised to see her and she him. What a different the pale pink lipstick makes, it softens her face considerably. Mae Wol performs and blessing dance for the voyage. So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) looks at her with pride. So Sa and Bong Sam keep glancing at each other. Mae Wol notices. She remembers Bong Sam’s rejection and his reason that another was in his heart. She sees the surreptitious glances between So Sa and Bong Sam. Bingo! She knows So Sa and Bong Sam are lovers. She’s livid.
So Sa can’t take being near Bong Sam and runs away. Her maid follows.
Mae Wol stares at Bong Sam. Bong Sam drinks drowning his sorrows over So Sa. He leaves.
Bong Sam finds So Sa in the woods. He apologizes for being harsh and appearing in front of her again. He tells her the voyage commences in 2 days then his business with her husband will end after the voyage.
The Head Merchant wonders where his wife is.
Bong Sam wishes So Sa a happy life. So Sa is worried for Bong Sam’s life on the ship. She implores him to take care of himself. He thanks her. They stare the stare of longing. The Assistant brings the Head Merchant to find Bong Sam and So Sa together.
Bong Sam admits So Sa is and will always be in his heart. With tears in her eyes, she gives him a hand stitched bag (with tailsman?) and wishes him a safe voyage so he can regain the stables. She touches his face. She admits she’s thrilled to see him again. He grabs her hand. They hug.
The Assistant tries to stop the Head Merchant from seeing his wife hug Bong Sam. But he sees it. He’s taken aback. The Assistant reveals in his pain. He leaves. The Assistant giggles with glee.
The Head Merchant contemplates his next move. The Assistant suggests So Sa and Bong Sam are working together to take over the Head Merchant’s empire. The Assistant suggests they hire someone to kill Bong Sam during the voyage. The Head Merchant leaves without approving his idea.
Mael Wol finds Bong Sam and calls him bold. She cuts to the chase. So Sa is the woman in your heart? Mae Wol thanks Bong Sam for pushing her to her new destiny. She recommends that he worry about himself. Once the Head Merchant learns that Bong Sam loves So Sa, he will be punished.
The Head Merchant dreams he saw So Sa and Bong Sam kissing. He wakes angry and pushses a concerned So Sa away. He explains he’s nervous about the grain ship. He needs fresh air. She asks who is the man he wants to kill. He tells her to return to sleep. She gets the idea that the Head Merchant knows about Bong Sam.
Bong Sam sidestepped Mae Wol’s accusation. Bong Sam prepares to leave. She warns him he needs to run from the grain ship and the Head Merchant. He thanks her for the drink and leaves.
So Gae spies Bong Sam leaving Mae Wol’s hut. He asks if Bong Sam is the reason she became a shaman. she admits she’s desperate for Bong Sam like So Gae is desperate to become Head Merchant.
Bong Sam recalls So Sa’s admission she missed him. He tells himself to focus on the matter at hand, the ship and getting back the stables.
Sun Dol models the label vest the stable gang will wear to mark themselves as the same team. Early team jerseys. Bong Sam has to see the Head Merchant to get the weapons but he hesitates.
The Head Merchant sees a western doctor to see if he can father a child. The doctor says no. That isn’t the answer he wanted. The Head Merchant returns to the doctors office to find his Assistant laughing that the Head Merchant’s careless lifestyle in his youth is costing him the ability to father a child. It was jarring to see the doctor in the white coat.
Man Chi is angry his gang is becoming loyal to Bong Sam. He tells his head man to kill Bong Sam during the voyage. Good grief, who doesn’t want to kill Bong Sam during the voyage? She’s not happy with Man Chi. He doesn’t care. Bong Sam can’t take his gang too.
Man Chi’s head man can’t decide if he should follow Man Chi’s orders or ignore them. When Man Chi shows his head man his lack of privates and declares that it is Bong Sam’s fault, he makes his decision. He’ll kill Bong Sam.
Hak Joon’s brother, Bo Hyun, listens as So Gae explains how he’ll exchange grain for big money. So Gae suggests they imprision Bong Sam. No need, Bo Hyun tells So Gae to kill Bong Sam. He orders So Gae not to return with Bong Sam alive. So Gae agrees and leaves.
Tasked to kill Bong Sam by Bo Hyun and hurt Bong Sam by Mae Wol, So Gae tells himself that Bong Sam must die. He believes Mae Wol can move on if Bong Sam dies.
So Sa is happy to share tea with Mae Wol. So Sa asks what happened to her fiancee. Mae Wol admits she got dumped. So Sa declares the man stupid for not choosing her. Mae Wol tells So Sa to have a son. So Sa says that is her duty. Mae Wol says to sleep with her man today or tomorrow. She startles So Sa when she declares motherhood will no longer make her the object of desire for men.
Bong Sam meets with the Head Merchant and asks for his stamp so he can get the weapons. Head Merchant asks what he plans to do about the embezzling officials. Bong Sam says he’ll take care of that. The Head Merchant suggests Bong Sam get the weapons tomorrow it will rain tonight.
Bong Sam, Sun Dol and Gol Dae wonder about the wierd vibe around the Head Merchant’s men. The Assistant is grabbed and beaten. So Sa’s maid tells the women what is happening. Mae Wol watches the Assistant get beaten from afar. The Assistant tells the Head Merchant he was faithful for 35 years. The Head Merchant reveals he found opium in the Assistant’s room. The assistant recalls Hak Joon recommending opium sales for extra cash. The Assistant swears he only sold it once long ago. The Head Merchant doesn’t care. The Assistant declares the Head Merchant is only kicking him out so he won’t tell everyone about Bong Sam and his wife. Mae Wol perks up at that statement. The Head Merchant tells him opium is serious. His punishment will be according to the law. The beatings continue. So Sa’s maid tells her that the Assistant was an opium dealer. Yuck! No tongue, no lies.
Mae Wol and So Gae stare at the passed out Assistant. Mae Wol comments she told him to watch what he said. Now he’s paid the price. Mae Wol recommend they help the Assistant. He’ll be useful when they move against the Head Merchant.
Gol Dae tells Sun Dol and Bong Sam that Head Merchant’s Assistant’s tounge was removed and he was kicked out. Bong Sam looks stunned.
So Sa admits she’s nervous to her maid. So Sa doesn’t think the punishment fit the crime. She asks her maid get Bong Sam a message, his life could depend on it.
The Head Merchant finds her leaving. He questions her. She defends So Sa. She says that Bong Sam and So Sa share a bond because he saved her life. There is nothing else. The Head Merchant gives her a note to give Bong Sam.
When she arrives at the stables she gives him the note from the Head Merchant. The note threatens the lives of those that work in the stables. The maid declares the note is from So Sa not the Head Merchant. The maid tells him So Sa wants him to run away. She tells him So Sa’s life is in danger because of him. Catch-22 for Bong Sam.
Bong Sam goes to the Head Merchant. Bong Sam tells him to punish him not So Sa. The Head Merchant puts white powder in a cup. He tells Bong Sam to drink it. Bong Sam hesitates. The Head Merchant asks if he’s afriad of death. Bong Sam says he’s not afraid. Bong Sam takes the cup and tells the Head Merchant his death should wipe the slate clean for So Sa. He drinks. The Head Merchant is surprised.
Men abduct So Sa.
Bong Sam chokes and falls over. He tells the Head Merchant his dying wish is for Sun Dol to be appointed General Manager. If Sun Dol returns with the grain, then the stables will be rebuilt. He says it is all his fault. He asks her to forgive So Sa. He falls to the floor. The Head Merchant stares. That’s back to back episodes where Bong Sam ends it on the floor under the influence of drink or poison.
Pay backs hurt. This episode could have been titled “plot and/or take action to get rid of your enemy”. Bong Sam felt the wrath of the Head Merchant for his relationship with So Sa. The Head Merchant also delivered a silencing blow to his long time Assistant. So Gae had conflicting orders, hurt Bong Sam (Mae Wol) and kill Bong Sam (Bo Hyun). So Gae choose to follow Bo Hyun’s directive.
* Bong Sam swallowed what could be poison in hopes of saving So Sa. The Head Merchant was surprised he was willing to drink the mystery white powder. Bong Sam won’t die here but the Head Merchant has to make a stand with the upstart Bong Sam regarding his wife. I was surprised Bong Sam’s dying wish was to appoint Sun Dol in his stead on the ship. Loyal to the end, Bong Sam kept the stables in the forefront of his goals.
* So Gae was willing to kill for hire. Interesting how he is deferring to Mae Wol’s judgement and directions. He openly plotted against Bong Sam and the Head Merchant. So Gae is not a forgive and forget kind of guy.
* So Sa could not deny her feelings for Bong Sam. She afraid for Bong Sam and rightfully so.
* Gae Dong / Mae Wol quickly discerned that Bong Sam and So Sa loved each other. She was angry and wanted revenge.She asked So Gae to hurt Bong Sam. She urged So Sa to have a son and get pregnant within the next 2 days. Now that the Head Merchant got the news he’s shooting blanks or not shooting at all and therefore unable to father a child, what happens if So Sa is pregnant by Bong Sam? Mae Wol’s partnership with So Gae works and they are matched in their desire to hurt/eliminate Bong Sam.
Thanks for the recap! But I think the maid didn’t declare that the note was from So Sa. She said that note was from Head Merchant, but So Sa had another message for him which was to ask him to leave.
Thank you for the clarification.
Reblogged this on Stuck on Hyuk.
Hi: An excellent recap as usual. There’s a couple of things that were different on the subs I got. According to the version I saw, Head Merchant threatened Bongsam by saying something like this in the note: “If you run away, she dies”. And the girl Wol told him, that the message SoSa sent him was “Please, run away”. His dilemma was between letting SoSa die by running away, or risk his own life by confronting the Head Merchant and begging for her life. Also when Head Merchant asked him “Are you afraid to die?”, Bongsam answered “If I said I wasn’t afraid to die, that would be a great lie”. So according to my version he was indeed afraid to die but still chose to do so in order to save SoSa and the stables.
Yes I got the same understanding as you. The message from Head Merchant reads “If you run away now, only you alone can live”, implying that others will die if he does so. And Bong Sam did not say that he was not afraid to die, in fact he said he will be lying if he said so.
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Appreciate the clarification.
That dialog certainly makes the scenes stronger. Thanks for sharing!
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I really appreciate your hard work on the recaps and Im glad that we are sharing our views on the drama here. Im so happy we can help each other if we miss a detail.
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I was surprised too, to see the western doctor in the late 1800’s/post 1900’s lab coat. It actually made me Google the time period for this saeguk.
I was so glad to see Loose-Tongue get his (sorry,I really do try to get the names but my short-term memory condition makes remembering anything everything difficult and the Korean names throw me even more).
I liked that Gae Dong / Mae Wol had told him / predicted his mouth would get him in trouble. She was right!
It was great to see Mr. Snarky Assistant Head Merchant (a.k.a. Goo Bum) get his comeuppance after the sneering, jeering and raucous laughter about the old goat’s inability to become a daddy, let alone all his other evil deeds (what’s up with a Western doctor colluding with Goo Bum–is it really true or what Goo Bum wanted the old goat to hear?). Goo Bu, another old dude who somehow thinks he can be the next generation of a Gaekju, instead of a younger person with as good if not better skills than the current head merchant–old goat is rooting for his own son, which looks sketchy at the moment.
I was feeling a lot of compassion for the old goat until he gave Bong Sam the ultimatum of drinking the Kool-Aid or letting So Sa die. My Bong Sam suffers as he drinks the Kool-Aid and then So Sa gets taken anyway….GRRR
The Head Merchant is an interesting mix. You like him, you hate him, you like him, you hate him…and so it goes.
Great recaps! Thank you so much!
Thanks for the comment!
I really appreciate these awesome recaps and great discussions; I feel like I am getting clarifications for the questions I have as I watch the episodes and bonding with all of you!
I only started watching this drama last week–I have a very difficult time waiting for a new episodes to be released, so I usually wait until a drama is close to the end of airing before I start watching–then I can binge all I want!
I love binge watching too! Binge watching is a different experience from the weekly watching of a drama. I like both both methods.
@JaneTilly I feel the same way and prefer to marathon a series BUT,then if I have a question,especially about Korean culture, I’m on my own.
The good thing about this site is you can ask a question and it isn’t lost forever (very few people go back to the comments once a series has ended and sometimes I’m 2 years late!) But the “notify me” button on this site means we’re all seeing any future posts.