The Merchant Gaekju Episode 35 Recap

Mae Wol strives to avoid getting blamed for So Sa’s murder. She’s willing to strangle, muzzle and ditch to keep her secret.

The Merchant Gaekju Episode 35 Recap

We start with Bong Sam (Jang Hyuk) making his way to pay respects at So Gae’s father’s new grave marker. Unbeknownst that Bong Sam is behind him, So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) tells his father he should be proud of him. He’s become Head Merchant and he’s gotten revenge against the Chun family.  Stunned Bong Sam drops the wine. He asks if So Gae betrayed his father. So Gae, bolstered by power and a “you can’t get me back” mentality, FINALLY admits it. Yes, he betrayed Bong Sam’s father. Bong Sam takes the direct approach and punches him. Yes! Bong Sam kicks him. Yes! Bong Sam pushes him away! Bong Sam yells to his father “Why did you save a person like this?” Bong Sam kicks So Gae who manages to rise and kick Bong Sam back. So Gae staggers away. Bong Sam pursues him. Folks, we’ve waited a long time for this moment. I especially liked Bong Sam questioning his father’s choice in sacrificing his life for So Gae. Bong Sam gave So Gae a well deserved smack-down!

Mae Wol (aka Gae Dong (Kim Min Jung)) learns that So Gae and Bong Sam were fighting. Startled she heads to the fight location.

Yep, they are still going at it. Mae Wol spots the brawl and hurries to the men. Bong Sam is NOT holding back. Bong Sam defeats an exhausted Bong Sam. So Gae gasps that Bong Sam’s father forgave him. Bong Sam retorts he will never forgive So Gae. In fact, he should have killed him before, when Sung Jung died. Bong Sam stares at So Gae and has a horrible thought. He demands to know if it was So Gae that killed So Sa. Mae Wol overhears the question as she finally reaches the two men. So Gae states he had no reason to kill So Sa. Mae Wol shakes her head at So Gae pleading with him not to tell. Bong Sam raises a rock ready to smash So Gae. Instead Bong Sam gets smashed by Mae Wol. Both men lay on the ground. Mae Wol escorts Bong Sam to the stables. Team Bong Sam are stunned to see Bong Sam on a stretcher. Mae Wol explains Bong Sam fought with So Gae. Mae Wol cups Bong Sam’s back with everyone watching. Mae Wol states Bong Sam was hit by So Gae’s guard (that seems like a dumb lie that Bong Sam can easily expose). Gol Dae (proving he is not stupid) points out that So Gae doesn’t have guards. Sun Dol asks Mae Wol why she was so upset the day the Head Merchant died. Mae Wol answers the question with a question – why are you curious. Bong Sam mutters he was curious her tears on that day too. Bong Sam asks what happened between Mae Wol and the Head Merchant. Mae Wol says the Head Merchant was important to her and helped her path. Wol doesn’t look satisfied with the answer but the others do.

Mae Wol prepares to return home. Sun Dol tells her it is too late to travel and presses her to stay overnight. He offers So Sa’s room. Wol takes exception to this offer.  The compromise is for Mae Wol to sleep in the baby’s room.

Mae Wol plays with the baby. Mae Wol takes the baby away from Mae Wol. She’s blunt “how can you hold the baby after killing his mother”? Mae Wol takes a firm grasp around Mae Wol’s neck and tells her she’s reckless to make such an accusation.  Mae Wol releases her death grip and tells Wol to watch her tongue in the future if she wants to live. Wol leaves the poor helpless baby with Mae Wol and exits the room. Mae Wol grasps her head.

At So Sa’s grave, Wol complains that everyone has a short memory about how she died. Sun Dol overhears and advises Wol to get over it. Wol declares she cannot. She knows the truth. She cannot look at Mae Wol and pretend all is well. Taken aback, Sun Dol asks what she means. Wol declares it was Mae Wol that killed So Sa. Sun Dol is stunned.

Mae Wol asks the baby why no one will leave her alone.

Bong Sam remembers So Sa asking Mae Wol if it was her and how could she. He rejects the thought, it cannot be Mae Wol. He remembers gagging So Rye and putting her in the trunk with So Gae. He remembers So Gae’s words at the grave. His focus turns to So Gae as the likely suspect. There aren’t many people that it could be – it must be So Gae or Mae Wol or a combination of both. Is this an example of Bong Sam’s anger blowing out the candle of his logical thought process about So Sa’s death?

Wol tells Sun Dol she may not have the evidence to convict Mae Wol but that doesn’t alleviate the fact that So Sa was murdered by Mae Wol. Sun Dol tells her not to be foolish. Wol can’t believe that Mae Wol is untouchable and allowed to be at the stables. Sun Dol states the Queen loves her nephew and Mae Wol. He worries that if the Queen learns they believe Mae Wol killed So Sa, they could all be killed. Not worth the risk, Sun Dol declares. He tells Wol to forget it and he’ll looks for evidence. They head back.

Bong Sam asks Sun Dol where he was. Bong Sam states So Gae killed So Sa, even if it was indirectly, he knows the truth about So Sa’s death. Sun Dol recommends a cautious approach due to So Gae’s power. Bong Sam is blunt – he’ll find the evidence, kill So Gae, and reveal the real So Gae.  Bong Sam vows revenge for So Sa’s murder. Sun Dol is a bit taken aback by Bong Sam’s anger then grabs his head.

The Nephew, So Gae, and other royals  discuss how to interact with foreigners. So Gae has no advice. The Nephew calls So Gae on his silence. So Gae states he’ll build a new meeting place for foreigners.

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The Japanese want the rice ban lifted to they can freely trade for the rice their famine struck country needs. The Nephew rejects this idea.  They aren’t flush with rice either and the people will freak if they sell it all for profit and let their own people starve. The royals argue about it. The Nephew warns if they focus on profit, they’ll lose everything. The greedy Government official (a royal) declares he can do whatever he wants. So Gae asks to use the rice tax to sell to the Japanese. The greedy Government official likes the bold idea.

Bong Sam wants to give rice to the hungry. Gol Dae argues they barely have enough to feed themselves.  Bong Sam declares they may need to trade with the Americans. They are shocked to learn the tax rice is being sold. Bong Sam correctly assumes this is So Gae’s doing. Bong Sam states they need to retrieve the tax rice. Team Bong is nervous with that declaration.

Yep, steal the rice is the plan. Bong Sam urges his team not to make mistakes. They have to feed the starving people.

Gol Dae tries to search So Gae’s office but Sun Dol stops him. Oh no, they hear So Gae!  The rice receipt is given to So Gae. He puts it on his desk unaware Gol Dae and Sun Dol are hiding behind the screen. So Gae sees the greedy Government official off.

Gol Dae urges Sun Dol to take the rice receipt now. Sun Dol refuses if they take it too early, the storage will be shut down. On the other hand if the rice receipt is hidden they are screwed. Sun Dol decides to wait until So Gae falls asleep then take the rice receipt. Everyone is nervous waiting for night.

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Sun Dol waits for So Gae to sleep. Bong Sam waits for Sun Dol to return. So Gae finally puts the rice receipt in his desk. Mae Wol enters and tells So Gae she wants to talk about So Sa. The peaks Sun Dol’s interest. Mae Wol starts the discussion but So Gae cuts her off. The eye issue plagues Sun Dol and he stumbles back a step. Mae Wol investigates and sees Sun Dol. She decides not to reveal Sun Dol and tells So Gae is was only the wind. So Gae wants to talk but Mae Wol cuts him off. So Gae tells Mae Wol that Bong Sam is not her destiny. He states with So Sa dead, Mae Wol still has no chance. Mae Wol cuts him off firmly. She gets up and tells So Gae to greet her traveling partner. They leave the room. Mae Wol leaves an item in the room and returns just as Sun Dol is retrieving the rice receipt. Mae Wol tells Sun Dol he owes her now. Sun Dol asks how much she was involved in So Sa’s death. Mae Wol quips how much time do you have. She reminds him…he owes her for her silence.

Bong Sam provides the rice receipt to the official. He hesitates but allows them to retrieve the rice. Team Bong Sam grabs the rice.

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So Gae can’t find the rice receipt. He learns the rice was emptied the previous evening. So Gae believes Mae Wol is the culprit. He accuses her. So Gae says he is her brother and friend, how can she betray him? Mae Wol says she couldn’t help but choose Bong Sam. So Gae is hurt. He cries, she was his little sister. She’s tossing him away. Mae Wol touches his hand. So Gae tells her she cannot go to Bong Sam. Mae Wol tells them their shared destiny ends. Livid So Gae stands up declaring he will kill Bong Sam. Mae Wol stands and states So Gae got what he wanted…he’s the Head Merchant. So Gae states he wanted her too. Mae Wol feels terrible BUT Bong Sam beats So Gae, every time. Mae Wol admits So Sa’s shadow is weighing her down. She asks So Gae if he can lift that burden. The unmitigated gall of that request is astonishing! So Gae cries. She tells him to let her go. He leaves upset. Outside the room he declares he will NOT let her go. Mae Wol cries. Of course, she’s crying for herself. She’s used So Gae for many years. Not that she didn’t care. That is Mae Wol’s secret sauce…she cares…she’s evil…but she cares.

So Gae learns that the folks at the stables are not acting out of the norm. He calls them evil. I have to laugh at the ludicrous statement, So Gae calling someone else evil.

The royals are angry that the rice is gone…and to the people not the rich foreigners. The greedy Government official claims NOT to have been involved. The Nephew stares at him with patent disbelief. So Gae tells the greedy Government official he’ll refill the rice storage.

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The nephew sees a picture of the man that took the rice (it is Bong Sam). The nephew wonders is this man his friend or enemy. He orders Bong Sam watched 24/7.

Team Bong Sam is back from pretending to purchase rice. Bong Sam suggests they Mae Wol’s help to release the rice. He asks Sun Dol to go with him. Sun Dol tries to avoid the trip, but cannot.

Mae Wol receives Sun Dol and Bong Sam who thanks her for her help. Sun Dol claims he has a headache and steps out of the room.

Mae Wol follows Sun Dol. She details all she has done for Bong Sam and Sun Dol. He’s grateful for all she’s done, but murdering So Sa is a different matter. Mae Wol dispute the difference, all the stable people lives were in her hands. She warns him not to be ungrateful. Bong Sam shows up worried about Sun Dol. Mae Wol hands over something to help his eyes. She stares at Sun Dol. He stares at Mae Wol.

Later Sun Dol thinks about Mae Wol’s words to So Gae and Mae Wol’s words to him. He head aches. He realizes he’s in a tough position and not sure what is the right decision to make.

The merchants come to Bong Sam and ask them to be their leader. Bong Sam defers saying they already have a leader. That leader is dead. He was greedy and the hungry people beat him to death. Bong Sam hesitates and comments that greed is not a winning strategy. He states being a leader is greed to him.

The Nephew learns the merchants want Bong Sam to become the next leader. He wants to see Bong Sam.

Man Chi backs Bong Sam. The merchants plead. They are the front line and in danger. The beg Bong Sam.

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Bong Sam meets with the Nephew. He tosses the artist’s picture of Bong Sam. The Nephew says that Bong Sam played it perfect. He took the rice. But he didn’t do it without someone realizing he was the culprit. Sun Dol begs for mercy. Bong Sam, on the other hand, says the tax rice belonged to the people. The Nephew doesn’t care about the rice. Then what Bong Sam asks? The Nephew cares about the 20,000 merchants. He wants Bong Sam to become the leader and bring the merchants under his thumb. Is this a deal with the devil? Can Bong Sam refuse to offer? What will Bong Sam do?

My Thoughts

So Gae got played and I loved it! So Gae’s rice receipt got lifted right under his nose. Mae Wol helped Sun Dol retrieve the rice receipt. She proposed a simple concept…I keep quiet…you keep quiet. Is Sun Dol going to make it to the end of this series or will we watch him exit stage left soon? I like Sun Dol, he’s smart and offers Bong Sam solid advice. I’d hate to see him to go but in this show, everyone eventually dies. Can Sun Dol escape this fate?

* Bong Sam decided thievery for the people was the right thing to do.  Even Team Bong Sam was shocked by his choice but helped him execute it. He continues to go to Mae Wol for help. He cannot believe she would plot against him or So Sa. He believes So Gae is the mastermind. I liked the fight between Bong Sam and So Gae. Bong Sam was serious and gave So Gae a good smack down…about time!

* So Gae had something stolen from him.  So Gae had to endure the humiliation of being bested by Bong Sam. Loved it. So Gae had to endure Mae Wol picking Bong Sam over him. So Gae had to endure Mae Wol asking him to help her even after she kicked him to the curb. Ouch! Couldn’t of happened to a more deserving slime ball!

* Mae Wol ditched So Gae and blackmailed Sun Dol. I’m still floored that Mae Wol asked So Gae to help her after she rejected him. These self-centered people amaze me with their narcissistic actions. The one thing you’ve got to give Mae Wol is that she has feelings and does care. It doesn’t stop her actions, but she has feelings about them. I really liked how Sun Dol did not allow her to equate all the “help” she’s given Bong Sam with murdering So Sa. But she managed to slip away from that logic and demand his silence. Mae Wol’s obsession with Bong Sam isn’t going to end. Her choke hold on Wol demonstrated once again she’s willing to use or abuse anyone to achieve her goal.

Asian drama fan. I watch and blog dramas on

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Posted in Merchant Gaekju, Recaps
21 comments on “The Merchant Gaekju Episode 35 Recap
  1. Drama Fan says:

    Reblogged this on Stuck on Hyuk.


  2. Drama Fan says:

    You nailed it when you called MaeWol narcissistic. Many of these villlains fit that description.


  3. […] Episode 35   Episode 34   Episode 33   Episode 32   Episode 31   Episode 30   Episode 29   Episode 28   Episode 27   Episode 26   Episode 25   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 […]


  4. prettysup says:

    It’s Wol at So Sa’s grave, not Mae Wol… But its the writer’s fault for using such similiar names for its characters. We have 2 Wols (Mae Wol, Wol), 3 Sos (So Rye, So Gae, So Sa) and 2 Gos (Gol Dae, Gom Bae). I get confused all the time. Luckily there is only one Bong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beez says:

      @prettysup – For realz. If there was a like/thumbs up button for your post… I understand that when it comes to family/clan names, Korea does not have a lot of diverse names, but they have enough that in one drama they can afford to use all of them, can’t they? Not only this drama but several I’ve seen where non-related individuals are given the names “Kim” “Yi/Lee” and “Choi”. But I try to tell myself that since the shows are originally produced for Korean audiences, maybe it’s just natural for them. Maybe as they start to take into account the international audiences they’ll begin to use a wider selection of family names.


  5. A.D.DO! says:

    Kicking someone when they’re down never seemed more honorable…and no one deserved it more than SoGae.
    I am worried about SunDol and also Wol…MaeWol may have a pang of conscience now and then, but she is as deadly as that viper. Trying to picture what her ‘end’ will be, but nothing bad enough comes to mind.
    There had better be a big ‘pay off’ when BS remembers all the times he was hoodwinked.
    Better be!


    • kjtamuser says:

      What would be a good punishment for Mae Wol “the viper” (excellent choice)?


      • Beez says:

        She should have to watch Bong Sam perpetually fall in love with anybody but her, no matter how often she kills his new love. (Uncool to Bong Sam’s loves but I would love to watch her be frustrated over and over.) And along the way, force her to marry Sol Gae or be a lower concubine to any one of the disgusting guys like Mumbles or Gom Bae (those teeth – yikes!)


  6. Beez says:

    I know this post is waaaay to long but if I can’t rant this out, I will explode!
    Okay, I know absolutely nothing about filmmaking but since I do know these are some excellent actors and the book was a best seller (wasn’t it?), then I have to conclude that the directing and/or editing must be the problem. Look at the opening scene where So Gae is screaming in terror from Bong Sam weilding the rock. Yet, does any threat seem eminent in that scene? If you look at it, Bong Sam is standing so far away from So Gae that So Gae’s reaction almost seems ridiculous. This is not the first time I’ve noticed scenes where the set up feels like I’m watching very bad community theatre. (I would’ve said like watching a high school play but I’ve actually seen high school plays done better.)

    Also, I haven’t said much about the way the actors deliver their lines but everybody yells so I thought perhaps this is their ancient way of speaking since I’m unfamiliar with the culture. But no other saeguks that I’ve watched take it to this level. Again, maybe this show is more accurate and I’m just ignorant. Please, feel free to correct and inform me if I’m wrong and this is the way they spoke back then.

    Why did Wol wait to say anything? True, she has no hard evidence but she can voice her suspicions and Mae Wol’s attitude toward SoSa that everybody knows about and, as I continually scream at the tv screen SHE KIDNAPPED THE BABY AND THEY ALL KNOW THIS IS A FACT!

    And then she leaves the baby in the room with a murderess who may decide Bong Sam would be a better candidate to her “destiny” with no encumbrances.

    Then everyone is suspicous that MaeWol was so upset and crying over Head Merchant when that is the LEAST suspicious thing she has done since they’ve known her. He was an old man and she worked with him off and on, her specialty apparently being KIDNAPPING BABIES!

    Then Bong Sam’s backflashes of suspicions for Mae Wol weren’t even the right ones! What about her gripping SoSa’s arm, not allowing SoSa to bow at the appropriate time during the wedding and BS noticed it (and he even mentioned it to SoSa)? What about all of SoSa’s uneasiness when Mae Wol was around? And what about, you know, her KIDNAPPING THE BABY?

    Thank you, ktjamuser for mentioning Bong Sam’s overly waxed logic candle. It’s like he has one of those trick birthday candles only in reverse – his won’t stay lit.

    And when SoGae realized MaeWol had betrayed him, was he all out of gut punches? If ever there was a time to punch a woman in the gut… But I love that the betrayer is betrayed.

    They finally mentioned the king. I’ve been wondering where he’s at in all this?
    Queen’s nephew has good taste calling Hyukie handsome but the artist in no way captured JH’s good looks. I don’t know how they ever caught anybody.

    Sun Dol gets to see how Wol felt when he knows MaeWol is evil and can’t say anything
    MaeWol thinks because of her few good deeds she has the right to decide to lives and who dies.

    Sun Dol –nooooo. Don’t take the eye medicine!

    SoGae should know who stole the rice because who else would leave money after stealing but Bong Sam?

    Okay. Whew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kjtamuser says:

      Your passion is wonderful. Yep, there are holes in the plot as far as everyone not buzzing about Mae Wol’s obvious obsession with Bong Sam, her dislike of So Sa, and then So Sa’s suspicious death by a trained venomous snake. Is the writer’s rationale that everyone is afraid of Mae Wol because she is a shaman?

      I too was surprised when Wol left the baby unattended with wacko Mae Wol to go complain at So Sa’s grave.

      I had to laugh when you pointed out that artist’s sketch looked nothing like Bong Sam…”I don’t know how they ever caught anybody”!


    • Drama Fan says:

      Lol! They have been defying logic way too often in these later episodes! I have caught myself rolling my eyes and going paaahlezzeee way too often lately. This drama always some soap opera moments but they been abusing them lately right? Also, the screaming yeah! Its one thing that turned me off from the beginning and I never got totally used to it. I hear this PD favors screaming and that some old sageuk also does. I haven’t watched many old sageuk and none other from this PD so I wouldn’t know for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A.D.DO! says:

    Oh boy, Beez in on the warpath…and with good reason…they are insulting our intelligence with some of this stuff! When SunDol suggested that MaeWol spend the night, ‘honorable Mama needs a good rest’ , I almost died., and when she whines, ‘why is no one leaving me alone?’, I had to laugh! Maybe the editors are just getting tired of cranking out 2 shows a week…but it is frustrating for us, when it is all so obvious.

    I thought at first that Do Seung-Ji might be attracted to our Bong Sam, (who could resist?), when at seeing him the first time and then looking at the picture, he says”you are so handsome, you are so talented…,,Sorry, DO Seuung Ji, don’t think our Bong Sami swings that way. But the he kissed Mae Wol as well…(DOSeung, that is)

    I’m thinking MaeWol may take a high dive off a cliff…maybe even taking her own life after one final turn down fromBS…..I don’t know, I just want revenge..big time…but BS is just too soft hearted it looks like to do the job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kjtamuser says:

      When Bong Sam believes someone is wrong, he can be an avenger. Look what he did to his own sister. Now that he has a list of those So Gae killed, he’s willing to be judge, jury and executioner for So Gae. But it took a long time for Bong Sam to conceive his friend So Gae would betray him beyond the business realm. Correspondingly, Bong Sam is taking a long time to grasp Mae Wol is cut from the same cloth as So Gae. And yes, he doesn’t look like the brightest bulb during the process.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Drama Fan says:

        Awww poor Bongsam but yeah LOL, the episode’s logic has definitely declined and Bongsam’s brain seems duller too lol ash

        Liked by 1 person

        • Beez says:

          Many times I wish there were easily available English translations of Korean books that have become movies/dramas. I have to imagine that the book for Merchant is really good. I feel so bad for my favorite stars when they choose a project thinking it will be good but then…

          I also tried to see if Hyukie’s book “Hot Blooded Man” was available in English…sadly…no. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

    • prettysup says:

      Haha it’s so funny when you pointed out that Do Seung Ji is attracted to our BS. And I agree that BS is too soft hearted to do the job. Even when he thought the old goat killed his wife, he didnt have the heart to kill him for revenge.


    • Jane Tilly says:

      I think he heart was softened when he learned his rush to judgement pushed his sister over a cliff–I know he only had regrets because it was his sister, but I think it gave him an altered paradigm when it comes to justice–he won’t be quite so quick to execute justice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beez says:

        @Jane Tilly
        Good insight. I was so pissed while watching this that that never even occurred to me.

        Always love it when somebody makes me see characters’ actions in another light. That’s the second reason I come to blogs/forums. The first is hoping I’ll get info explaining a culturalism that I might not understand in a show.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Tilly says:

      Seriously what is wrong with Sun Dol? I can kinda see he feels an obligation the DIShonorable mama, as my sister and I call her, as she likely saved his life. Why in the world would he suggest she stay overnight? Why would Wol leave Yu Su with a known kidnapper? (except maybe now the old goat is gone, the motivation is also gone?)

      I want Dishonorable mama discovered, judged, and punished. Capital punishment please!

      Liked by 1 person

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February 2016

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