Will Bong Sam have to pay for the missing rice with his life?
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 17 Recap
Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) pushes So Rye (Park Eun Hye) (his sister though he does not know this) away from him. Sung Joo isn’t pleased with the inconsiderate treatment. So Rye asks if he can forgive. Bong Sam’s murky answer is Sung Joo can be killed at any time for stealing the rice and he will die if the 200 bags of stolen rice isn’t returned. But the rice cannot be returned, it has already been distributed to starving people. Bong Sam strides away angry that he’s in a terrible position. So Rye watches her brother go with tears falling down her face.
Sung Joo decides they must find out how much of the rice can be regathered. So Rye promises she’ll make the rice. How?
Trusted Deuk Gae is given the task of buying the rice with the money So Rye gives him.
Sung Joo wants to know why she’s doing all this to save Bong Sam, who hates her and almost killed her. She’s making retribution. He asks if she’s Bong Sam’s sister. Bingo! She tries to deny it. Does Sung Joo believe her lies?
So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) finds Bong Sam and asks if he found Sung Joo. Bong Sam lies that Sung Joo is not a bandit. So Gae wonders how they can replace the stolen rice within the 4 day window they’ve got. Bong Sam says the rice won’t be found and leaves.
Sung Joo advises So Rye to tell Bong Sam who she is. She begs Sung Joo to let her help Bong Sam behind the scenes. Sung Joo won’t accept her request. Family should not hide from each other. If she doesn’t tell Bong Sam, he will. She frets that Bong Sam will suffer if he learns the truth.
Bong Sam and Sun Dol ask merchants if rice has been sold to them recently. Sung Joo’s assistant bumps into Bong Sam and hands him a note which asks him to meet and he’ll get the replacement rice. Gol Dae is thrilled. Sun Dol tells him not to take the rice. He thinks So Gae, who will inspect the rice, cannot be trusted. Bong Sam, who still is unaware that So Gae is not to be trusted, declares So Gae is a dear friend from youth and completely trustworthy. Dude, you are going to eat those words one day.
They meet the bandits and hope they can get the rice on the boat without the authorities finding out. Bong Sam is rude to So Rye telling her to hide herself. Sung Joo tells Bong Sam that she was the one that bought the rice. Bong Sam mocks her for wanting his apology or thanks. She cries. He tells her to disappear. Sung Joo can’t take it and tells Bong Sam this woman is So Rye his sister. Bong Sam laughs. Impossible. Sung Joo is adamant. So Gae spots So Rye and knows. He changes the plan. They now will kill everyone including the woman. So Gae loves to cross the line, again and again.
Bong Sam stares at So Rye. He finally sees his sister. He reaches out a hand. Then he turns and sits down. Sung Joo says the siblings need a moment of privacy. So Rye apologizes for abandoning him. She asks him to look at her. They both are crying. They hug. Finally the reunion occurs.
So Gae and his minions get ready to fire on the unsuspecting group. Deuk Gae recognizes the odor of gun powder. Sung Joo sounds the alarm. Run! The guns fire. The pursuit begins. Gol Dae is hit by an arrow in the leg.
So Gae and his men catch up. He barks that everyone in front of them aligned themselves with bandits and must be killed. Deuk Gae fights the men single handily. That ends with Deuk Gae skewered with arrows and gunshots. Down goes Goodman. I liked Deuk Gae. For a quiet character he had a fierce edge. So Rye screams his name. So Gae, thinks of himself, and orders his men to reengage. The fighting melay begins. Sung Joo drags So Rye away. Bong Sam enters the fray. Sung Joo gets an arrow in his back, but his continues to drag so Rye to safety. Sun Dol watches, So Gae watches, how will the fight turn out?
The next morning So Gae reports to Hak Joon’s brother, Bo Hyun, that the bandits and those that worked with them have been captured. Ok, so the fight did not go Bong Sam’s way. Bo Hyun is pleased.
The punishment is underway for the 2000 rice bags stolen. Bong Sam counters it was only 200 rice bags. So Gae overrides his claim with the lie that 2000 bags of rice were stolen by the bandits. They are beaten repeatedly to elicit the “truth”.
Everyone wasn’t captured by So Gae and his men. Sung Joo and some of his bandits are breaking camp to flee. It is only a matter of time before they are hunted down. So Rye doesn’t want to leave Bong Sam. Sun Dol arrives and says that Bong Sam and Gol Dae will be put to death soon.
So Gae advises Bong Sam that he had no choice but to steal the 2000 bags. Bo Hyun would kill him otherwise. He lectures Bong Sam that everything in this world can be bought. Their fathers are examples. So Gae is matter of fact. In this fight, I won and you lost. Head Merchant lost and Bo Hyun won. Bong Sam says he perpetuated a fraud. So Gae laughs, much of business is fraud. Bong Sam calls him rotten. So Gae hits him yelling 2000 sacks.
Sun Dol explains that So Gae claims 2000 bags of rice were stolen. Sung Joo realizes So Gae set this all in motion to cover his thievery. So Rye asks Sun Dol if he can ride a horse. She gives the ledger to Sun Dol to give to Bo Hyun. Not sure I’d trust Sun Dol to relay this crucial document, but her choices are slim.
Bong Sam asks So Gae if he knew who So Rye was when Bong Sam threw her into the river. Is anyone surprised when So Gae lies? He was supposed to marry So Rye. He could never hurt her. Bong Sam vows to kill So Gae if he finds out he is lying. So Gae says this is all Bong Sam’s fault for not reporting Sung Joo when he found him. So Gae declares Bong Sam’s feelings cloud his judgement. Bong Sam repeats that So Gae will die if he is lying about So Rye. So Gae sheds crocodile tears.
The judge is not excited about giving a death sentence until he finds out that Bo Hyun needs a harsh judgement. So Gae promises to extract a confession out of Bong Sam.
The ledgers will prove Bo Hyun’s embezzlement. Sun Dol promises to deliver it so it will stop Bong Sam’s execution.
The Mead Merchant continues his workouts. So Sa (Han Chae Ah) tells him to slow down. The Head Merchant tells her he has to stay fit for his future son. Bo Hyun appears upset they are in trouble. He claims Bong Sam worked with bandits and stole the rice. So Sa is stunned. The Head Merchant is surprised and not happy. He speaks privately to Bo Hyun. The Head Merchant doesn’t believe Bo Hyun’s words but cannot stop the execution.
So Sa’s maid, Wol, believes Bong Sam is being framed. So Sa believes she must beg for mercy. That is certain death for the baby Wol cautions.
The Head Merchant is not happy after his conversation with Bo Hyun. He visits So Sa and tells her not to speak without considering the impact of their words. She wants to speak but he leaves without allowing her to.
The Head Merchant surprises Bo Hyun when he recommends that Bong Sam should die.
Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) learns that Bong Sam is accused of stealing rice. She can’t believe it.
Bong Sam and Gol Dae refuse to confess to actions they did not commit. The torture continues. So Gae wishes they’d confess, this is taking too long for his liking.
Gol Dae admits that he is ready to confess so he wants Bong Sam to kill him now. That is surprisingly touching. Bong Sam refuses. Gol Dae can’t hurt others with his confession. Bong Sam promises he won’t die. If you had told me Gol Dae’s tears would get me, I would not have believed it.
Sun Dol arrives and flings himself at Bo Hyun’s feet. Bo Hyun assumes So Gae sent him. He is stunned when he reads the note that Sung Joo wrote that states his brother Hak Joon’s mistress was Bong Sam’s sister. He is furious that So Rye now threatens him with the embezzlement ledgers. Sun Dol promises the remaining ledgers will be sent to the authorities if Bong Sam dies. Bo Gyun is sick of everyone trying of save Bong Sam. Sun Dol then produces the promissory note (remember the note from long ago?), Hak Joon produced. Sun Dol says that note is the price for Bong Sam’s life.
Sun Dol and Mae Wol stare at each other. She shakes her head willing him not to recognize her. She finds Bo Byun’s story funny. She tells him that he is slated for good things. He doesn’t believe it. He wants her advice. She advises him to grab the money. Hmm, similar advice that So Rye gave Hak Joon. She believes the Head Merchant will kill Bong Sam. So why not pardon him and take the money? The lure of cash beguiles Bo Hyun.
So Sa is upset. She’s pregnant and in love with Bong Sam who is close to execution. The man that saved her, loved her, and put her in his heart.
Mae Wol is upset and worried about Bong Sam.
Bong Sam wishes So Rye is safe and away from this mess.
At Deuk Gae’s grave marker, So Rye apologizes to her faithful servant. Sung Joo says tonight Bong Sam must confess or die. Sung Joo suggests he turn himself in. So Rye says that won’t work. She decides to meet with So Gae to buy time until Sun Dol returns.
So Gae tells Bong Sam it is now or never – confess or die. Dangling his friends lives as a lure, So Gae states if Bong Sam confesses he acted alone, the others will not die. So Gae is given the abacus from So Rye. Bong Sam recognizes it. So Gae has Bong Sam dragged away as he yells why did So Rye send this?
So Gae meets with So Rye. He throws the abacus at her feet. She asks if he wants money. He doesn’t want her money. He thinks if he took that deal he’d die like Hak Joon. She asks if he missed her. So Gae says he doesn’t love her. She claims to miss him and touches his face. So Gae tells her he can’t save Bong Sam. She tells him, they can talk about Bong Sam…later. She kisses him. She hugs him. She prepares to stab him with her her hair pin.
Our three leads finally understand who is friend and who is foe. Bong Sam finally learned that the woman he tossed off the cliff was his long lost sister. He finally bought a clue that So Gae was only concerned with himself and lying was second nature. So Rye finally confirmed she was Bong Sam’s sister when Sung Joo outed her to Bong Sam. So Gae finally was unmasked to Bong Sam and had So Rye in his arms. So Sa reeled from the news that Bong Sam was accused of a crime whose punishment is likely death. Mae Wol reeled from the news that Bong Sam was accused of a crime whose punishment is likely death.
* Bong Sam learned his trusted brother So Gae could not be trusted. So Gae pulled Bong Sam’s strings until this episode when he saw that So Gae’s professions of honesty and trust worthiness were lies. Bong Sam is willing to kill So Gae for his part in So Rye’s cliff dive. That’s good because So Gae has been willing to kill Bong Sam for most of this series if it meant advancing his own personal agenda. I was glad to see our siblings finally reunite. She cried, he cried, then they were separated as So Gae’s minions attacked to kill.
* So Gae lies without fail when it advances his own agenda. So Gae is not your typical super evil villain. He’s man on a single cause, advance himself. Ridding himself of obstacles in his path are completely justified. So Rye – expendable. Bong Sam – a pawn to be blamed for his stealing actions. He recognizes the bonus, kill the children of the man who killed his father, but that isn’t his primary objective. A super evil villain would focus on the sibling’s death equally with his own rise to power. You have to be impressed with So Gae’s ability to quickly shift gears and rework his plans when unexpected events arise.
* So Sa feels stuck. The Head Merchant is telling everyone that baby is his. The Head Merchant would love Bong Sam to die. But is So Sa really stuck? Would the Head Merchant really kill her if she ran away?
* Gae Dong / Mae Wol tried So Rye’s trick. To save Bong Sam, she lured Hak Joon’s brother with a similar argument that So Rye used on Hak Joon, take the money and leave the punishment to another. She wants Bong Sam dead, but does she? Or does she only want his death on her terms? She charged So Gae to squash Bong Sam and he’s doing that well. This is a case of be careful what you wish for.
* So Rye confirmed she was Bong Sam’s sister. Thank you Sung Joo. You figured it out and you didn’t let her wimp out and continue hide the truth from Bong Sam. So Rye also had the embezzlement ledgers to manipulate Hak Joon’s brother with. Her emissary, Sun Dol, had a hard time delivering the message but he got the job done. So Rye also realized that killing So Gae might be necessary to save Bong Sam. She was willing to do that.
Dol Gae’s confession that he couldn’t take the torture much longer was surprisingly touching. This big lug of a character has not been my favorite but he scored with his honest admission that he was about to crack and say anything to stop the torture. He sincerely wanted Bong Sam to end his life so he wouldn’t betray his friend. This was a lovely moment under awful circumstances for both men. Their friendship and respect was evident.