So Gae believes he pays his debt to Bong Sam.
The Merchant Gaekju Episode 22 Recap
The Merchants blame Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) because no one will trade with them. So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) the man behind preventing the trade is happy to see his plan in splintering the merchant’s solidarity. So Gae shows Bong Sam the flood of merchants using the ground transportation route. So Gae tells Bong Sam no one will trade with the flood of merchants and it’s all his fault. Bong Sam asks for mercy for the merchants. So Gae tells Bong Sam he’s not enough of an opponent to receive mercy. The weight of responsibility for the other merchants weighs on Bong Sam.
The Head Merchant brings Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) to see So Sa (Han Chae Ah) . She’s suffering. She can’t eat or sleep. Mae Wol asks everyone to leave the room while she works with So Sa. Mae Wol cries while performing ministrations on So Sa. She stops Mae Wol and asks if she hates her for being pregnant. Mae Wol says she’s human but doesn’t want her pity. So Sa notes they want the same man they can understand each other. Mae Wol urges So Sa to embrace being the Head Merchant’s wife. Mae Wol tells So Sa if she doesn’t Bong Sam could die, her child could die, and she could die. Those words upset So Sa. Mae Wol tells her to maintain her place and not make her hate her. She leaves. So Sa cries, trapped in the comfortable cage, with no way out that she can see.
Bong Sam, Gol Dae, and Sun Dol face angry merchants who declare they will force entrance into the markets. They are mad and not going to take it anymore. They aren’t the only unhappy merchants. If something doesn’t change, it’s going to get ugly. Bong Sam promises to help. Sun Dol doesn’t know how Bong Sam will manage to get trading good when the merchants are blocking the trading. Bong Sam promises his stable merchants he’ll bring the trading goods.
So Gae tells Bong Sam he should have accepted the Head Merchant’s offer. Now So Gae’s task is straightforward, crush Bong Sam. He retorts he wants to help the merchants not watch them explode. He implore So Gae to help. No dice, says an impassive So Gae. Bong Sam proceeds to get drunk. In his stupor he tells So Gae though he is repulsed by him, he’s fond of him too. So Rye died becuase of So Gae, and he was blamed for the stolen rice, but Bong Sam cannot hate So Gae. He passes out. So Gae watches Bong Sam sleep.
The next day Bong Sam has a headache. He is given a note that identifies a village. Bong Sam et al head to the village. The elders tell Bong Sam they’ve been infested by crickets. Bong Sam pledges to purchase the merchandise for the merchants. Some how, some way, Bong Sam is going to make this work.
So Gae is not happy that Bong Sam managed to purchase silk from the village.He begs for village silk holders to sell to them. Bong Sam promises he’ll give the village preferential treatment. All the new merchants using the ground transportation will bump sales too. Bong Sam urges them to stop illegal trading and sell to his merchants.
Bong Sam and his merchants are happy about the purchased silk from the village. Smiles all round.
So Gae interrupts their celebratory shopping. He and Bong Sam have a drink. So Gae tells Bong Sam he did nothing to help him. Bong Sam smiles and promises to consider any request So Gae would make. So Gae warns Bong Sam that the mental high he’s one now will come crashing to an end when Bong Sam realizes he cannot defeat the Head Merchant. Bong Sam believes his merchant group can survive. So Gae disagrees with a smile.
The Head Merchant is not happy to hear that So Gae helped Bong Sam.
Back at the stables Bong Sam et al do the math of their sales. Gol Dae asks when will they make enough money to buy back the stables? Man Chi shows them the bill for taxes.
The Merchant Group elections are coming up. It is likely that the Head Merchant’s current candidate will win. Bong Sam Goes to pay the taxes. Sun Dol is inspired and proposes that Bong Sam become a candidate. Everyone is surprised at the idea.
Man Chi decides throttling Bong Sam for becoming a candidate is the best way to be his message across. Elections take money. They don’t have money to waste. Bong Sam notes that an official position would be helpful. They can’t survive with only the silk trade.
The debt collections come to the stables. Man Chi tells Bong Sam they cannot afford to be in an election. The debt collectors aren’t here for the debt, they are here to endorse Bong Sam!
The Head Merchant berates So Gae for helping Bong Sam. He demands to know why. So Gae believes the silk trade will be insufficient to turn the tide. So Gae says he had to pay a debt to Bong Sam and this did it in one fell swoop. The Head Merchant’s candidate reports that Bong Sam has entered the election race. Everyone in the room is shocked.
So Gae heads to the Government office.
The Head Merchant wonders what So Gae’s debt to Bong Sam was. His former assistant decides to find out.
Sun Dol tells Bong Sam the time has come to make his candidacy official. Bong Sam hesitates. Sun Dol tells him to break the current stranglehold the Head Merchant has, he must become a candidate. Aww, his merchant buddies went out and raised money for his candidacy. Bong Sam says he can’t accept the money. The merchants beg him to make further changes. Only he can change the status quo. Tears in his eyes, Bong Sam agrees. The trust, the cash, convince him to become an candidate.
Bo Hyun is not happy about Bong Sam’s candidacy. The Head Merchant tells his candidate to withdrawal. He doesn’t have the ability to beat Bong Sam. He proposes So Gae become the new candidate. So Gae accepts the challenge. Another head to head moment for So Gae and Bong Sam looms!
Bong Sam learns that the Head Merchant’s candidate withdrew. Everyone thinks he’ll win by default. Gol Dae bursts that bubble when he says that So Gae is the new candidate. Mae Wol appears and says the So Gae is part of the regional merchants and an acceptable candidate.
Mae Wol warns Bong Sam that So Gae will play dirty and win. Bong Sam wonders why Mae Wol is trying to dissuade him. Bong Sam needs money to by the stables. He needs to break the monopoly the Head Merchant created to do that. Mae Wol is resigned that she can’t stop him. She notices the glass candy dish. She guesses he bought it for So Sa. Bong Sam says his heart had him but it, but his head tells him he cannot give it so So Gae. She leaves with the candy dish to eliminate the temptation to give it to So Sa. She wonders if So Sa would accept it and leaves.
Mae Wol meets So Sa. She pushes the candy dish to So Sa who thinks that is it a gift from Mae Wol. The smile is wiped from her face when Mae Wol tells her it is from Bong Sam. So Sa puts the candy dish down. Mae Wol is pleased at her choice. Boldly So Sa takes the candy dish and leaves. Mae Wol is not happy with her choice. She decides she needs So Sa’s midwife under her control. Mae Wol’s assistant happens to be an excellent midwife. Mae Wol smiles, So Sa will likely want her assistant to aide in the birth.
So Sa holds the dish and ponders. She is bummed that she’s stuck with the Head Merchant and cannot have Bong Sam. She stares at the candy dish. She knows what she wants and that she cannot have it.
Bong Sam walks in the forest and happens to see So Sa holding the candy dish. He sees her eat the candy. So Sa tells her maid to apologize to Mae Wol. She spots Bong Sam. He spots her. They are both surprised to have this moment.
Bong Sam approaches. So Sa’s maid walks away.
So Sa offers the candy dish to Bong Sam. He wonders why she can’t accept a simple gift like this. He asks if there anything in the world that he can give her. So Sa stares at the father of her baby. Bong Sam, Bong Sam, if you only knew you’ve already given So Sa the most precious gift of all.
So Gae considers his debt to Bong Sam paid. We knew that So Gae felt he owed Bong Sam for So Rye’s death (Bong Sam’s sister). By allowing Bong Sam and his merchants to trade silk the debt was paid in So Gae’s mind. Not sure Bong Sam would agree IF he knew the full extent of the injustices his sister suffered at So Gae’s hands.
* Bong Sam is persuasive. Bong Sam talked the irate Merchants into calming down, assuring them trade would work out, the blockage was only temporary. Bong Sam convinced the village silk producers to trade with his merchants. Bong Sam picked the perfect gift for So Sa, one that turned out to be irresistible much to their mutual surprise once it was discovered. I can understand Bong Sam’s plea, why can’t I give you this small gift? Bong Sam does not see So Gae clearly yet. He knows much about him but the unvarnished truth has yet to be revealed. Bong Sam has it locked in his head that he and So Gae are brothers, it makes you wonder if faced with the truth, would Bong Sam accept it? I liked the plot point of Bong Sam running for office. It weaves in a political aspect to Bong Sam’s story.
* So Gae’s debt is paid…in his mind. So Gae allowed Bong Sam to trade with the village. He didn’t cower in front of the Head Merchant. That is an upside to So Gae, he thinks for himself. He’s more than willing to use whoever he can, but the plan and the actions to make it happen, that can be all So Gae, or an extension of the bidding of others. He’s not a docile follower.
* So Sa couldn’t resits the candy dish and contents. So Sa is feeling trapped by her marriage and status. The candy dish was alluring once Mae Wol told her it came from Bong Sam. Mae Wol dangled it in front of her, hoping So Sa would walk away from the candy dish (and Bong Sam).
* Mae Wol’s plan to get So Sa to turn her back on Bong Sam backfired. It worked…at first, when So Sa walked away from the candy dish. But So Sa couldn’t keep the promise and had to obtain the candy dish. I like the parallel women versus men interactions. Bong Sam & So Gae versus Mae Wol and So Sa. So Gae has typically has the advantage over Bong Sam while Mae Wol almost always has the advantage over So Sa.