The Merchant Gaekju Episode 24 Recap

Bong Sam is in a life or death situation. He needs help to extract himself. The odds are not good. 

The Merchant Gaekju Episode 24 Recap

Good grief Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) is being flogged but good. His claim of being framed and request to see So Gae go unheeded. The plan is simple…beat a confession out of him. Bong Sam’s response is simple…endure and not confess.

Taking a break from the flogging the official and Bo Hyun yell each blaming the other for the unsatisfactory position they are in. Bo Hyun says this mess isn’t his fault, it is the Head Merchant’s fault.

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So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) tells Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) this time even she won’t be able to save Bong Sam’s life. The Head Merchant put Bong Sam in jail and no one can get him out but the Head Merchant. So Gae says too many people have placed a target on Bong Sam’s back. Mae Wol declares Bong Sam is her destiny and she will save him. So Gae, ever pragmatic, watches her go and muses if Bong Sam dies then Mae Wol will start her next destiny…with him. I wonder if So Gae is capable of love, or is it possession of Mae Wol that he wants?

Meanwhile back at the stables, everyone frets about how long Bong Sam can endure the torture. Sun Dol decides action must be taken. He wants money to bribe the officials. He removes the bandages from his eyes not caring about his own sight but rather Bong Sam’s life.

Sun Dol meets with the officials representation the will of the local merchants who request for Bong Sam’s release in writing along with a promissory note for 30,000. The official pretends outrage at the bribe. Unfortunately, the false accusation cannot be proved, therefore Bong Sam’s innocence cannot be proven either.

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So Gae offers Bong Sam drink. Bong Sam asks if So Gae planted the leather at the stables. Did So Gae want him dead. So Gae pins the Head Merchant with the death wish for Bong Sam. So Gae is candid about his confusion why the Head Merchant wants Bong Sam dead. So Gae advises Bong Sam to confess and die peacefully. Bong Sam utters the Head Merchant’s name. Does he realize the Head Merchant wants him dead because Bong Sam is the father of So Sa’s baby?

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Mae Wol tells So Sa (Han Chae Ah) that she is the only person that can save Bong Sam. She tells So Sa to beg the Head Merchant for mercy for Bong Sam. So Sa refuses. Mae Wol is stunned. Mae Wol declares this whole mess is because of her. So Sa resolutely says she cannot intercede. Mae Wol accuses So Sa putting herself before Bong Sam. So Sa denies this. Mae Wol then calls her a chicken. So Sa counters that she is a mother, the baby comes first. So Sa cannot save Bong Sam without the possibility of the Head Merchant killing her baby, Bong Sam’s baby. She cannot and will not intercede.

Mae Wol is majorly bummed. What to do?

Bong Sam and So Sa think about each other. Mae Wol ponders her next move.

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Mae Wol asks Bo Hyun to spare Bong Sam. He laughs. No way, he’d stick his neck out for Bong Sam. Mae Wol suggests Bo Hyun could use Bong Sam. No way. Mae Wol goes for the ego…didn’t you lose the tax position you loved? Wouldn’t having Bong Sam under your control bring 200,000 merchants under your power? She sees Bo Hyun is interested. Similar to So Rye’s manipulation of Hak Joon in the past. The woman’s power is behind the scenes through manipulation and influence.

Good grief, the flogging is tough to watch. So Gae claims to have no knowledge of what Bong Sam claims. Everyone stares at Bong Sam. Will he confess? Nope, Bong Sam refuses to confess to illegal leather selling. Confess or die are the presented options. Bong Sam recalls So Gae’s claim that it is the Head Merchant’s orders that have him here.

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Bong Sam is in a world of hurt when the guards dump him in his cell. Mae Wol wants to administers medicine but Bong Sam is unconscious. She chews the medicine and administers it mouth to mouth. Bong Sam stirs. He imagines he’s seeing So Sa NOT Mae Wol. She’s stoked. He imagines So Sa while Mae Wol tells him their hearts are united even if they live separately.  He imagines So Sa urging him to live. He calls So Sa’s name. Ouch! Mae Wol drops his hand. She looks away, gobsmacked that he didn’t see her but saw So Sa instead.

Bo Hyun arrives and So Sa wants to know why. He refuses to say.

Mae Wol urges Bong Sam to make a deal to live. Forget honor, live. Bong Sam utters he wants to live.

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They bring Bong Sam before Bo Hyun. He’s surprised to see So Gae and Mae Wol in attendance sarcastically thanking them for their support.  They flop Bong Sam into a chair. Bo Hyun asks if Bong Sam saw death’s door. Bong Sam disavows illegal leather trading. Bo Hyun gets mad. Don’t you get the situation? Bong Sam declares he can’t die. Bo Hyun tells him to offer anything to save himself. Bong Sam crawls to Bo Hyun and begs for his life. Mae Wol turns away. So Gae does not turn away. Bo Hyun asks Bong Sam if he can lead the 200,000 merchants while serving him. Bong Sam starts to respond but So Gae interrupts. Bong Sam will say anything to save himself. Bong Sam has a grudge. Mae Wol interrupts. Grudge or not, Bong Sam is willing to deal. So Gae is angry at Mae Wol’s words. Bo Hyun asks Bong Sam to swear on his father’s name, can you lead the merchants while serving him? Bong Sam grapples with the situation. The merchants trust him. He pulls himself up right. Bong Sam declares he almost caved but he cannot betray the trust of 200,000 merchants. Mae Wol cannot believe it. So Gae grins. He loves the predictability of Bong Sam’s high ethics. Bong Sam tells Bo Hyun to have him killed. Bo Hyun laughs and agrees death is the only option for Bong Sam. I’m seriously wondering how Bong Sam can escape this trap.

So Sa begs Mae Wol to help her see Bong Sam one last time. Mae Wol cannot believe her gall. Mae Wol declares she did everything in her power to save Bong Sam while So Sa did nothing. So Sa begs for the chance to say goodbye to the biological father of her baby. Mae Wol rolls her eyes at the request.

Mae Wol sneaks So Sa out of the house allowing her to pose as her assistant. I like the framing of the scene with both women that love Bong Sam heading to the prison. 

Mae Wol and So Sa arrive at the prison. Mae Wol bribes the guard to open the door. So Sa enters Bong Sam’s cell. Mae Wol looks into the camera, she’s too nice sometimes.

So Sa implores Bong Sam to wake. They stare at each other. He reaches out. She takes his hand. She cries. He realizes she’s really there, this isn’t a dream. She helps him sit upright. They stare at each other.

Mae Wol watches discreetly and thinks to herself, she only has one option to save Bong Sam. She leaves.

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So Sa offers a meal she made herself. Bong Sam doesn’t have the coordination to work the chop sticks. She stares stunned. He thanks her for the meal and apologizes for not being able to eat it. She spoon feeds him. She cries. He struggles not to cry. He declares the food delicious. He tells her not to cry. He needs her to be strong. He’s going to meet his father and sister. He doesn’t want to think of her crying as he prepares to join them. She cries harder. She can’t do it…she can’t let him go. Bong Sam shakes his head. He’s going to die.

When So Sa returns home the Head Merchant is in her room and mad.

Mae Wol prays at the temple for Bong Sam’s life to be spared.

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So Sa gives the Head Merchant a noose. She’s firm. She’ll kill herself and the baby if the Head Merchant allows Bong Sam die. She is resolute. Save me, kill me, you choose. She apologizes to her baby. The Head Merchant stares at her pregnant belly. That is tons of moxy for So Sa! 

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Sun Dol and Gol Dae ask if it is the Head Merchant is behind his death sentence. Bong Sam says he cannot prove it even if it is. He cannot shame So Sa by pointing the finger at the Head Merchant.

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The Head Merchant is stuck. So Sa won’t bend. He declares he must be old. Everyone is beseeching him. He knows that love cannot be severed at his whim. He will save Bong Sam. In return So Sa must give birth to a healthy baby. He’ll raise the child and send So Sa to live with Bong Sam. She cannot believe it. She won’t leave her baby. She’ll stay with the Head Merchant. She thanks him. He doesn’t look happy about being forced to make this choice.

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The Head Merchant gives Bong Sam’s release note to his assistant to take to the government officials. The stable boys hear that Head Merchant has sent his assistant. They hurry to find out what this is about. They decided to relieve the assistant of the note. They stage a distraction and the assistant’s pocket is picked. Sun Dol reads the note. The Head Merchant asks that Bong Sam be killed. Wow! I’m surprised. The Head Merchant says one thing and does another. I know I shouldn’t be surprised but I am. I felt the Head Merchant was sincere when he told So Sa he’d save Bong Sam. Hatred and jealousy have gripped the Head Merchant. Welcome to the dark side.  Sun Dol and Man Chi ask a man to forge an alternative note. The forged note is slipped back into the assistant’s pocket. As he walks away, he’s relieved the note is where he left it.

The assistant delivers the Head Merchant’s note to the government official.

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So Gae waits for Bong Sam’s verdict and subsequent beheading. His assistants wonder why all the stable guys are in town. So Gae, who is NOT dumb, immediately understands something is afoot.

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The verdict is read. The charge was not matched with a confession. The merchants stand behind Bong Sam. Therefore Bong Sam is declared innocent. The crowd goes wild. So Gae can’t believe it. Bong Sam can’t believe it.

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The Head Merchant can’t believe it. He asks the government official what happened. The official did as directed, he’s come for the promised money. The Head Merchant asks to see the note. He sees it is a forgery asking for Bong Sam’s release. The government official asks if anything is wrong. The Head Merchant laughs. Bong Sam is like the little engine that could.

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Back at the stables, Bong Sam reads the real note from the Head Merchant asking for Bong Sam to be killed. Bong Sam burns the note. They can’t believe it. Why is Bong Sam destroying the evidence? Bong Sam declares the paper does not matter. The words, the intent, only matter and are engraved on his heart. He will fight the Head Merchant head to head now. May the better business man win!

My Thoughts

Bong Sam lives because his friends forge a note. I love the irony of the ethical, won’t budge an inch Bong Sam, was saved by trickery from his own team. Go team Bong Sam! Fight fire with fire! Once again, Sun Dol steps up and saves Bong Sam. I loved how So Gae immediately knew something was wrong when the stable merchants came to town. I loved how the Head Merchant realized he’d been bested and could not explain the situation to the government official. He was stuck.

* Bong Sam refused to confess. That flogging was tough to watch. Bong Sam bent but did not break. He refused to confess to crime he did not commit. He refused to work for Bo Hyun and betray the trust of his fellow merchants. Bong Sam’s ethical standards are high. I liked how Jang Hyuk played the scene in the prison cell when So Sa visited. Stunned, realization So Sa was real, being unable to grasp the chop sticks and eating rice from a spoon and declaring it delicious. Then he told So Sa he was meeting his father and sister very soon. The emotion in the scene played real and raw.

* Sun Dol and Gol Dae are true friends to Bong Sam. Sun Dol threatened his recovery to deliver the forged note that saved Bong Sam. Gol Dae realized last episode that Bong Sam could be the baby’s father and said so. So while I say Gol Dae is a big lug, and he is, he does have moments of insight and his loyalty cannot be questioned. This episode Gol Dae and Sun Dol wanted Bong Sam to name the Head Merchant as controller of Bong Sam’s situation. They knew someone was the puppet master and correctly assessed it was the Head Merchant.

* So Gae’s hope that Bong Sam would die fizzled at the end.  So Gae isn’t dumb and realized that the stable merchants in town did not bode well for team Evil. So Gae loves to blame others for his actions and the Head Merchant received his full blame for Bong Sam’s situation. Here’s a positive point for So Gae. When he loses, he moves on quickly to the next opportunity and does not tarry in what could have been. This “water under the bridge” (let bygones be bygones–to move on from the past) mentality serves So Gae well.

* So Sa got finally used the power of her pregnancy. So Sa has been trapped by her marriage and feeling powerless. But she put the Head Merchant in a vice when she threatened to kill herself and the baby. I liked how she quickly rejected the Head Merchant’s plan to raise her baby solo when he dangled a solo life with Bong Sam. No thank you was her swift response. That shows the measure of this woman.

* Mae Wol tried everything she could to save Bong Sam. Mael Wol shamed So Sa for not doing more to save Bong Sam. She did not understand the So Sa’s reticence was because of the baby. Mae Wol declared to So Gae that he needed to help. So Gae quickly and firmly refused. Mae Wol enticed Bo Hyun to save Bong Sam. She noted controlling Bong Sam would offer Bo Hyun power over 200,000 merchants. And yet when So Sa begged for a visit with Bong Sam, Mae Wol did not turn her down. She helped So Sa see Bong Sam. I like that. That gives me hope for Mae Wol where I have none for So Gae.

Shout out to kdramadreamer (aka zhaoul) for giving me the Three Day Quotes Challenge. I’m identifying my favorite quote of the episode for 3 blogs. For the Day 2 Quote I choose Bong Sam’s defiance of becoming Bo Hyun’s puppet “I almost flipped over to show my stomach and barked aimlessly like a mixed-breed mutt to live. But I cannot.” Bong Sam could not and would not betray himself and the other merchants who implicitly trusted him. That shows the measure of this man.

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Posted in Merchant Gaekju, Recaps
26 comments on “The Merchant Gaekju Episode 24 Recap
  1. prettysup says:

    I thought the Head Merchant will save BS too, didnt expect him to go back on his words with So Sa.

    And btw am I the only sadistic one who enjoyed watching BS being flogged? Hehe…

    • Hyukfan says:

      No, you’re not alone. I like to see my hero afflicted too but not crushed… haha..

    • Beez says:

      @prettysup – And you guys say I’M the sick one because I thought SolGae was kinda hot in Faith? X-D

      • prettysup says:

        @Beez haha you were the one who said you were sick yourself, we didnt say it lol…

        • Beez says:

          @prettysup That’s true, but now I can feel better about my affliction. You know what they say – once you see someone that’s got bigger problems…

    • kjtamuser says:

      This show embraces flogging and other interrogation methods.

      • Jane Tilly says:

        Gotta say embracing flogging is sick!

        Thinking that Yoo Oh Sung (Gil So Gae) was hot in Faith just isn’t right! I will say that early on in the series when he smiled (not a devious or evil smile) he did look handsome and he has definitely aged better than most Korean men.

        • Beez says:

          @ Jane Tilly. Funny, I’m African American and, in general, our skin ages slowly. But I’ve noticed that, also in general, Asians (even non-celebrities) also seem to develop wrinkles much later in life (past 40 in a lot of cases).

          And I can’t explain my weird attraction to this actor is Faith. I mean,I know I like the bad boys but not usually the dementedly evil ones. lol

  2. […] Episode 24   Episode 23   Episode 22   Episode 21   Episode 20   Episode 19   Episode 18   Episode 17   Episode 16   Episode 15   Episode 14   Episode 13   Episode 12   Episode 11   Episode 10   Episode 09   Episode 08   Episode 07   Episode 06   Episode 05   Episodes 03 & 04   Episode 02   Episode 01 […]

  3. Beez says:

    “Mae Wol looks into the camera, she’s too nice sometimes.” @KTAmuser, you amuse me. lololololol Mae Wol is as much a psychopath as Sol Gae. The only difference is Sol Gae is just greedy and evil. Mae Wol isn’t evil, she’s just insane in the way stalker “I-want-to-LOOOOOOOVE-you-and-KEEEEEEEEEEEP-you-against-your-will. Oooo. Look at da pwetty kitty. I’m going to HUGGGGGGG and LOOOOOVE him so tight! Why aren’t you moving, kitty?”

    I totally agree with KTAmuser and Prettysup about Head Merchant’s ability to seem sincere while totally being a betrayer. But when you think about it, there had to be a reason why he became Top Dog Head Merchant. And thinking about him blocking an entire road-passage for years by keeping bandits on the payroll to rob and murder innocent merchants.. oh yeah, I guess he is Joseon’s Darth Vader.

    Jang Hyk’s acting! And SoSa actress grew on me a bit here with her shock at seeing how debilitated Bong Sam was that he couldn’t eat (although script-wise, what she expected when she knows he’s being tortured for days is beyond me, but good job portraying it.)

    I’m still always amazed to think of how most ancient countries believed guilty until proven innocent. I mean, you’re torturing (“investigating”). I know I would say anything they want the first time they pull my hair. (You should see me tweezing my eyebrows – *pluck*, fall back on the bed and recoup for a while.) By the time they got to pulling a toenail I would confess to all crimes throughout the annals of history! So only if you die under the torture without confessing, then you’re innocent? It’s like the old witch hunt thing where if you throw her in water and she drowns, then she’s not a witch.

    • kjtamuser says:

      You made several excellent points.
      a. I’m not joking when I say I think there is more humanity in Mae Wol than So Gae. Taking So Sa to prison to see Bong Sam was one example. Is Mae Wol obsessed with Bong Sam and willing to kill So Sa to get her man. Yes, yes she is. But still she has inklings of humanity.
      b. I like your comparison of Head Merchant and Darth Varder. The Head Merchant has managed to not have everyone hate him though they do fear him because he is so powerful.
      c. Concur the So Sa / Bong Sam prison scene was well done by both actors.
      d. Guilty until innocent…glad we don’t live under that.

      • prettysup says:

        I agree that MW has a soft side in her amidst her tough outer shell. She is an interesting character to watch out for.

    • Drama Fan says:

      MW is totally delulu but it’s totally Bongsam’s fault for being such a cute kitty! I WANT THAT KITTY TOO! Ok bad joke! She is totally crazy. However, Bongsam doesn’t help by being super gentle with her and asking her for help over and over with puss in boots eyes. It only tortures the poor delulu woman. That’s when I feel her pain.

      • Beez says:

        @DramaFan I agree that Bong Sam tried to be gentle (which just makes him more loveable (gullible?). But he really had no choice but to seek her help with his friends eyes and this time, they had nowhere else to go. She is the resident shaman/kind of a doctor, right?

        Too bad Bong Sam is so naive/gullible with his “friends”. I’m OK with blind trust for the friends that have never betrayed you, but friends that show you over and over that they are toxic (at least) and dangerous (at worst) – he needs to stop being so sweet and patient and trusting to them.

      • prettysup says:

        I think its ok for BS to be gentle with MW – i wont want him to be harsh and cruel towards her! Oops got to edit out my next comment coz I realised its for the next episode, maybe I should follow Beez and prepare my comments first in case I forget later lol..

        • Beez says:

          @prettysup – I prefer people to always be kind, too. But as far as relationships – kind only the first time or two. Being too kind to obsessive people who imagine an imaginary relationship adds to their delusion and causes problems with the OTP (in real life, too) and is bad for the stalker as it reinforces their delusion and ups the crazy. After they don’t get the clear message that “I’m not interested”; the next step has to be harsh for everybody’s own good including the obsessive/stalker/crushe.

          In Mae Wol’s case, she’s the worst. I think she’s made it clear she’s an “If I can’t have you, nobody will” type of girl. First,she’ll kill whomever is in her way, then if that didn’t bring him to her, she’ll kill him. That is what makes her evil, regardless of the few moments we see where she does a good deed. I bet she even had a reason for letting SoRa into the prison to see Bong Sam. She probably wanted to see just how deep BS/SR go so that she can see what/how she needs to split or some other self serving reason. Not being a mother herself, she probably thought that how in love can they be since SoRa was unwilling to risk the baby to plead for Bong Sam. Oh, mark my words, she’s always plotting and everything she does is going to be about how she can “fulfill her destiny”.

  4. Drama Fan says:

    For some reason I totally cracked up with the “Bongsam is the little engine that could” comment 😀 It’s so accurate too! Speaking of torture and favorite scenes, I’m worse than all of you because I laughed a little at the first flogging :p My mom was like “Why you so cruel?” But during the second flogging Bongsam looked exhausted and really hurt so I felt it more. I know everyone loved the scene with SoSa but I liked passed out feverish Bongsam with MW even more :p I guess that’s my favorite cliche. Feverish hero being nursed. Jang Hyuk did this perfectly and when he was looking at MW but imagining SoSa his eyes looked like he was delirious and it was perfect. Then another favorite scene of mine was when he begged Kim Bo Hyun for his life and then changed his mind. I loved the switch in his expression. I just also love the kind of hero he is, super vulnerable, very human, with lots of fears but still, he has this strong spirit that prevails. Still, there is always the possibility that he might cave, because he is human like that! It makes watching his journey much more interesting.

    • Beez says:

      @DramaFan – EXACTLY! I have already written my comment for the next episode because I’ll forget if I don’t note it while I’m watching and I’m waiting for the recaps to catch up so I don’t spoil anybody. But what you said about the type of hero Bong Sam is, is what I was trying to express about Jang Hyuk’s acting in my notes.

      As you guys have seen me say, I’m a sucker for an Alpha personality so at first this show and character were not resonating with me. But now, he’s got me even more because he’s NOT that alpha and yet he stands up and gathers grit he doesn’t have in order to be loyal and not betray his fellows. You’ve expressed it far better than I was planning to – other than I was going to say that Mister-Hot-Blooded-Man-Alpha-Jang-Hyuk-has-become-someone-else for this role. I’m now fully on board.

      (I think that’s the name of Jang Hyuk’s book? I so wish there was an English translated version of it out there. Although I’ve also heard it’s content is not what the title seems to imply.) 😉

    • kjtamuser says:

      You capture Bong Sam’s internal evolution perfectly.

    • prettysup says:

      @DramaFan hey I prefer that feverish scene with MW over the SS scene too! Really love my hero sick and injured haha…

  5. To be honest I actually like bong Sam and Mae wolf to gether then him so sa I believe it more Mae wol more that she really loves him

    • kjtamuser says:

      I understand why Mae Wol loves Bong Sam. He sees her as a person. Others see her as a shaman but forget she has feelings too. While Mae Wol loves Bong Sam, So Sa loves Bong Sam. He has made his choice and loves So Sa. You’ve got to appreciate that Bong Sam is clear and kind to Mae Wol that he does not return her feelings.
      Thanks for the comment!

      • Beez says:

        But even before Mae Wol ever saw Bong Sam with his eyes open, something shamannie made her decide he’s the one. The only problem is…he has no say-so in the matter.

        My first impression was that MaeWol, back when she was Gal Bong, did not want to embrace her “calling” and believed Bong Sam would relieve her of that burden & give her a normal life with children. But the show never elaborated.

        • kjtamuser says:

          I agree that the series originally portrayed Mae Wol as believing the Bong Sam could save her from her shaman path and provide a normal life. But as you noted that got dropped when Bong Sam embraced So Sa, rejected Mae Wol, leaving her to embrace her shaman path.

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