Mr. Sunshine Episode 23 Recap
Hee Na (Kim Min Jung) visits the pawn broker brothers (Il Sik and Choon Sik) looking for subdued artwork for mourning. There’s one more thing she wants…explosives. Stunned, Il Sik asks what the explosives will be used for. Hee Na states she wants to blow up her hotel. She explains the Japanese soldiers are using it for living quarters. Understanding the intolerable situation, Il Sik agrees. Choon Sik can’t believe it. Hee Na is grateful.
It’s chaos in the streets. The Japanese capture and shot soldiers. The tailor’s assistant saves a soldier and is beaten. But a shot rings out killing the Japanese solider about to kill him. It’s Hee Na! Kim Hee Sung (Byun Yo Han) documents the event with his camera from an upper deck. A Japanese solider sees him and shoots. Hee Sung falls to the ground but is able to escape.
Hee Sung sees the seamstress searching for her brother. Hee Sung listens to her fears. He orders her to go home and let him search for her brother. She refuses. Hee Sung takes her hand and gets her to agree. He presses the camera into her hands. A shot rings out. She leaves. Hee Sung grabs the shoulder he landed on when he fell. He searches for the young solider. He sees the dead body of the man that worked for his family, was treated shabbily and confronted him (by tossing water on him). Hee Sung reels. He shuts the man’s eyes. He removes the rock from the man’s hands.
Hee Sung is a hero in his own right. The paper and photographs matter.
Hee Na gives Do Mi’s sister the bracelet that didn’t bring her happiness but she hopes will have a different result for her maid. Hee Na muses her sins couldn’t be ignored by the bracelet. Do Mi’s sister says she can’t accept such a lovely item. Hee Na firmly says she’s precious to her. She tells her to stay alive and run away. Hee Na presses important papers in Do Mi’s sister’s hands and wryly notes this isn’t the first time she’s had to protect documents. Do Mi’s sister agrees to safeguard the documents.
Hee Na does have a caring side.
Dressed in black Go Ae Shin (Kim Tae Ri) enters the Glory Hotel and startles Il Sik and Choon Sik planting explosives. The brothers don’t know it is Ae Shin behind the mask. Il Sik declares it is a bad day to rob because they are blowing up the hotel soon. Ae Shin asks who is behind this. Startled they realize she’s a woman and one of the rebels on the wanted photos.
The Japanese solider congratulate themselves on how they handled the day. Graphic details and pleasure abound. Hee Na listens and her stomach turns. The bell in 304 (Eugene’s former room, fitting) rings.
Hee Na is surprised to find Ae Shin there and demanding to know what it going on. Hee Na counters they are both seeking retribution tonight. She advises Ae Shin to flee. Ae Shin realizes that Hee Na intends to die and has a rebel’s heart. Hee Na confirms that her body must be found in the debris. Ae Shin declares while they have different tactics they share a mutual goal. She suggests they work together. Ae Shin offers to do what her cohorts’ job (Il Sik and Choon Sik). Ae Shin says they deserve to live, even if they die tonight. Ae Shin hears the celebrating soldiers and is firm that none of them will escape. Hee Na wryly notes after all they’ve been through, now they are allies.
Operation Lite it Up is underway. The dynamite is planted. Hee Na confirms all the employees have fled save her last two. She presses envelopes into their hands. She tells them to run and not look back. They leave her with tears in their eyes.
Il Sik and Choon Sik are ready to lite the fuses. They hear footsteps. The nerves get the best of Il Sik and he can’t lite the match. The Japanese solider opens the door and demands to know what they are doing. A shot rings out. The solider falls to the ground per Ae Shin’s true aim. Il Sik stares at her in shock.
Eugene Choi (Lee Byung Hun) and Goo Dong Mae (Yoo Yeon Seok) hear the shot and run to the hotel.
An unmasked Ae Shin orders the brothers to flee. Holding the fuse, they say they aren’t done. Ae Shin states she’ll light the fuse. Not needing to be told twice, the brothers flee via the balcony.
The Japanese soldiers rush up the stairs.
Ae Shin secures the door by shoving a chair under the handle. She elegantly lights the fuse with another shot.
Hee Na rushes out of the hotel. A Japanese soldier grabs her hair and demands to know where she’s going considering the gunshot. Ae Shin shots the soldier. She rushes to Hee Na and says they must flee as the dynamite has been lit.
Eugene and Dong Mae run to the hotel. They see two figures running away from the hotel. The hotel implodes. Eugene and Dong Mae stare in horror at the burning wreck of the Glory hotel. Hee Sung turns and sees the burning shell of the hotel from his vantage in town.
There is something completely satisfying about the women planning and executing this daring mission while the men in their lives are out of the loop and are in shock.
The Japanese soldiers rush to the hotel to investigate.
Eugene and Dong Mae search the grounds. Dong Mae spies Hee Na. They lift the debris off her. Dong Mae slings her onto his back. He tells Eugene to find the other woman.
Dong Mae rushes down the street with Hee Na on his back. The tailor opens his doors and sees them. He recognizes Hee Na as the woman that saved his life. He offers Dong Mae shelter from the pursuing Japanese soldiers.
The potter rebel leader grabs the hand of his dead friend Jang Seung Goo.
Eugene searches for Ae Shin. He finds her! He lifts her in his arms. He strides to the front of hotel. A man offers his rickshaw. The Japanese soldiers are rushing their way. They make their escape just as the soldiers arrive.
In the rickshaw, Eugene realizes that Ae Shin is bleeding. He informs the driver. He directs him to the apothecary. The driver says that is abandoned. Two soldiers force the driver to stop. Eugene aims from inside the rickshaw. Eugene tells the driver to stay still. The soldiers declare they have to check the inside. Eugene cradles Ae Shin’s head. We see his wedding ring. Two shots ring out. It’s another rebel sniper! He recognizes Eugene who tells him Ae Shin needs medical attention. The rebel declares the blacksmith is the best spot. Eugene says the soldiers’ bodies must be hidden. Eugene looks at the unconscious Ae Shin and tells the rebel to take care of her.
That darn wedding ring gets me every time.
Hee Sung stares at the remaining of the still burning hotel. A soldier demands to know why he’s there. Hee Sung informs him he lived there. He asks about Hee Na. The soldiers wonder if he’s in cahoots with Hee Na and drag Hee Sung away.
Hee Sung listens to the police chief report to the Japanese Captain they found a woman’s shoe in the debris. He looks at Hee Sung and asks who he is.
Flashback…Hee Na advises Hee Sung to take his valuables when he leaves the hotel the next morning. She declares her plan will have consequences. She thanks Hee Sung for his patronage. Hee Sung asks why she’s talking like this. Hee Na flashes her pretty red shoes she bought for the occasion. They smile at each other.
Hee Sung stares at the red shoe, the one he knows belonged to Hee Na. The police chief tells the Japanese Captain that Hee Sung was a guest at the hotel and is not a threat. He says Hee Sung’s family is pro Japanese. The leader sees the blood on Hee Sung’s shoulder and asks about it. Hee Sung states he was shot by the Japanese. He plays the role required and demands compensation for his ruined suit. Disgusted the leader orders him to leave.
Hee Sung’s acting is necessary but draining.
Dong Mae cradles Hee Na in his arms. She stirs. She stares. He stares. He smiles…she’s alive not dead as he feared. She smiles…he’s alive not dead as she feared. She is happy to see him. Dong Mae says medical care is on the way. Hee Na says her time is short.
Hee Na says her body is badly injured. Dong Mae gently strokes her face. He still her she’s still beautiful. Hee Na asks him to take her to her mother. She asks for opium to help with the plan. Tears flood Dong Mae’s eyes as he agrees to her request.
Awk! Tears! I knew it was too much to ask for everyone to survive. Dong Mae and Hee Na’s friendship was a small treasure in this series that wasn’t fully explored.
The hospital is inundated with patients. In the medicine room, Eugene demands medicine at gun point. It isn’t necessary, the nurse agrees to help. But she’s called to the main room where the Japanese soldiers demand treatment before others. The nurse directs them to the next floor up where the Japanese doctors are. She points out the beds are full. The leader shoots some of the patients dead in their beds! The leader declares if the nurse helps citizens, they’ll kill her too. Eugene appears behind her. The leader demands to know who he is. He strides to Eugene. They struggle for the gun. Eugene shoots several of the Japanese soldiers, but when one appears behind him, he’s saved by a Korean solider (one of the young soldiers from the royal academy) shooting his foe. Eugene stages the scene so it appears the Korean soldiers and Japanese soldiers got in a gun fight. The nurse agrees to tell the tale. Eugene helps the young soldier leave with him.
Eugene tends Ae Shin’s wounds himself. She stirs and looks at him groggily. Eugene says he knew she’d go into the flame but didn’t expect her to be involved with an explosion. Ae Shin asks about Hee Na. Eugene says Dong Mae is caring for her. Ae Shin is glad that Dong Mae is alive. Eugene asks if she’s happy to see him. Ae Shin murmurs she’s dreamed this moment many times. She knows this isn’t real. He’s not really in Korea. Eugene holds her hand (wedding ring hand) and assures her this isn’t a dream. Ae Shin shares that Seung Goo is dead. She tells him not to be here because Korea is hell on earth. She only wants not to think of him for one day. She passes out. Eugene cradles her face and cries. The rebel tells Eugene that the other will be there soon and he must leave. Eugene wants to go with them. The rebel refuses to let Eugene know where their base is. Understanding Eugene tells him to take the young solider with them. He agrees.
Perfect scene that embodied the love and total support from Eugene.
The potter puts Ae Shin on a cart and tells her to hang in there. The carts with their patients leave. The potter looks to rooftop and stares at Eugene. They nod slightly to each other.
Awk! Tears! The potter saved Eugene so long ago. Eugene has repaid that debt many times over.
Ae Shin lays on the cart and wonders if it was a dream. She spies the limp hand of the dead man next to her. She knows it is Seung Goo and sobs.
Hee Sung asks the brothers if they supplied the dynamite. They feign ignorance. He warns them an investigation will be forthcoming. They cave and admit their involvement. He tells them to leave. They worry he won’t be able to survive without them. Hee Sung declares he’s untouchable. They all smile at his bravado. Il Sik returns the watch Hee Sung once pawned and tells him to take care of the store. He tells them to stay safe. They shake hands and chuckle.
Returning the watch was a full circle moment for Hee Sung and Il Sik.
Hee Sung brings the seamstress and her younger brother to his parent’s home. His father isn’t impressed. Hee Sung declares he is going to marry the seamstress. Everyone is surprised at the declaration. Hee Sung’s mother welcomes the stunned seamstress. Hee Sung thanks his mother with a small smile. Hee Sung points out to his gob smacked father that he married a wonderful woman. He tells his father to keep them all safe. He hugs his father and leaves.
The evolution of Hee Sung’s parents and his relationship with them has been satisfying.
Dong Mae asks Hee Na is she has a message to relay to Eugene. Hee Na tells him to welcome him back with the handshake. She notes Eugene owes her a handshake. Hee Na admits that she no longer cares for Eugene, nor has she for a long time. Dong Mae didn’t realize. Hee Na reveals she was waiting for someone else to return to the streets, his room, and her life. She prayed for his return. She knows he only loves Ae Shin but she still waited for him. Awk! Tears! Dong Mae’s eyes fill with tears. He stops walking. Hee Na tells him this will be a beautiful place in the winter. Hee Na flashes back to the moment where Dong Mae held her hand. Her body reacts to the pain. She tells him to visit when it snows. Dong Mae says it won’t snow for a long time. Hee Na tells him to live until it does. She dies. Dong Mae calls her name. He cries. He starts to walk again. The red shoe falls from her foot.
Classy until the end. Hee Na died in the arms of the man she loved. She admitted her love. She pushed him to live.
General Ito is not happy about any of it – the hotel implosion, the rebels, the rebellion by the citizens. He declares retaliation will occur.
Japanese soldiers search for the rebels and hurt citizens without caring.
The nurse once again sees the Japanese soldiers shoot citizens that come to the hospital for help. She decides she’s had enough. She takes medicine and leaves. The tailor’s assistant gets smacked for blood on the floor. He decides he’s had enough. He throws the measuring tape on the floor and leaves. The rickshaw driver listens to the minister yell at him to go faster. He decides he’s had enough. He throws the rickshaw into the stream and leaves.
The rebels gather at Seung Goo’s grave. The nurse, the tailor’s assistant, the rickshaw driver, et all arrive to offer their service to the rebels. The potter smiles and accepts their offer to fight. Il Sik and Choon Sik arrive to support the rebels.
Do Mi’s sister delivers Hee Na’s letter to Emperor Gojong. Hee Na asks Emperor Gojong to care for the girl and explains about her response to the Japanese soldiers’ celebration. She asks him to name her as the culprit. She includes a confession written in Japanese that Emperor Gojong provides to General Ito. Emperor Gojong declares the confession should ends the endless searches and harassment of the citizens. General Ito claims he will stop those actions.
Nice touch, the gentle reminders from Hee Na that Emperor Gojong needed to do as requested to repay the tab he’d run for coffee.
Dong Mae returns to his doju to find it decorated by Hee Na as he’d instructed her to do for her living space. Flashbacks show Hee Na hanging the paintings and longing for Dong Mae’s return.
Dong Mae meets Eugene and offers his hand explaining it is from Hee Na. Eugene closes his eyes knowing Hee Na is dead. He grasps Dong Mae’s outstretched hand. Eugene states that Ae Shin is safe and with the rebels. He reports that Ae Shin was happy that Dong Mae was alive. Unable to deal, Dong Mae turns to leave. Eugene offers his support. He asks if Dong Mae is smoking opium. Dong Mae isn’t surprised that Eugene sees through him. Eugene encourages him to resume control of his business which is also where Eugene is staying. Dong Mae says he’ll engage soon.
Eugene’s quiet kindness and encouragement demonstrated his friendship.
The baker can’t believe his eyes when Dong Mae returns.
Dong Mae returns to his business and declares he’s back and will take over. The new gang isn’t happy to see him. Dong Mae draws his sword. The bloody fight ensues. Dong Mae knows that more men will arrive to replace those he’s dispatched. He estimates 10 days until they come for him. He declares he’ll live a lifetime in those ten days.
Yep, you don’t leave the gang nor do you defeat the gang without paying the price of your life. Dong Mae escaped once. Has his luck run out?
Rinoie’s former assistant, Mr. Lee, isn’t happy when Eugene arrives for a room. Eugene says he wants to meet with the owner. The man bristles he’s the owner. Eugene counters that he just left Dong Mae, the true owner. A gang member rushes in and informs the shocked man that Dong Mae is back. Mr. Lee demands police protection.
Gwan Su (Jo Woo Jin) reports to Emperor Gojong as the American interpreter. Emperor Gojong is dismayed to learn that the American papers don’t report any news about Korea. He asks if Eugene has returned. Gwan Su reports that Eugene was dishonorably discharged and is no longer a soldier. Emperor Gojong doesn’t care about that, he wants to know Eugene is alive. Gwan Su states Eugene’s soldier friend is stationed in Japan. He promises to write him.
Gwan Su writes Kyle sharing the news of the city. He asks if Eugene is alive. Gwan Su stares into the sky. Eugene comes up behind him and startles him. Eugene quips that he should have described him as handsome in the letter to Kyle. Overcomes, Gwan Su hugs Eugene and cries that he thought he was dead. Eugene tries to disengage but Gwan Su only hugs him tighter.
The potter meets Eugene by the graves. He boasts he’s become more famous since Eugene left, with all the wanted posters. Eugene offers the American beer he brought, much to the delight of the potter. As they drink the potter shares that Ae Shin doesn’t know that Eugene is back. Eugene isn’t surprised as the drugs he gave her were powerful and Ae Shin’s is grieving Seung Goo’s loss. The potter grouses Eugene should have stayed in America because he’s not there to help the rebels. Eugene admits the sovereignty of Korea doesn’t drive his actions but he wants those he cares for to live and be happy. Eugene tells the potter to keep on living. The potter admits they are outnumbered and outgunned. The traitors to Korea don’t take any risks while they sell out their own country to Japan. We see traitorous Minister Lee seething at the rebel wanted posters. The potter says they’ve fought and died for the cause. We see a montage of rebels dying for the cause.
Traitorous Minister Lee shows the list of rebels and the wanted posters to Mr. Lee who identifies Ae Shin. With a huge smile, Mr. Lee declares if they turn her in, they’ll earn a huge reward.
Mr. Lee reports he knows where the rebel camp is to General Ito and the Japanese Captain. Mr. Lee sweetens the pot with a list of rebels IF General Ito agrees to his demands. General Ito doubts the claim. Mr. Lee identifies Ae Shin from the wanted poster. General Ito loves it. He demands the Japanese Captain and Mr. Lee bring definitive proof. He warns that they will pay with their lives if he takes the information forward and it turns out to be false.
Gwan Su finds traitorous Minister Lee drinking his profits from the information he provided Mr. Lee. He demands to know what information was sold. Minister Lee admits he told the list of rebels. Gwan Su can’t believe it. He shakes Minister Lee yelling he just sold his country. Minister Lee says he was shocked to learn Ae Shin was a rebel. Gwan Su can’t believe it.
Gwan Su meets Eugene and tells him what the Japanese now know.
The potter learns what the Japanese now know.
Ae Shin works with her shotgun. She can’t believe her eyes when Eugene walks in. He takes the gun out of her hands. Ae Shin murmurs this isn’t a dream. Eugene says he warned the potter of the danger. He says he took care of her wound after the hotel explosion.
Ae Shin rushes to him and hugs him fiercely. She sobs. Eugene quips he must have done a good job with her wound. Ae Shin cries that she thought it was dream but she couldn’t get it out of her mind.
Eugene tells her he wants to see her face. Ae Shin stares into his eyes. Eugene tenderly brushes her hair. He reminds her he said they’d meet again. Ae Shin moans the situation is too dangerous. Eugene says he missed her too much. He tells her to focus on protecting her country. He’ll focus on protecting her. Swoon! Eugene says this is his decision and what he wants to do. She calls him reckless. He smiles. Eugene puts the shotgun back in her hands and says Mr. Lee is her target. He says if she can’t handle it, he will. Ae Shin says that Hee Na’s death added to her list of reasons for fight. She quips that she’s the better shot. They smile.
That scene that encapsulates our couple perfectly. They love each other. He supports her absolutely. His declaration of protecting her was a swoon worthly moment. Could Eugene be any more supportive of the woman he loves? What a fabulous man!
At the rebel camp, the seamstress’s brother directs the new members on the dos and don’ts. A little boy reveals he saw two Japanese soldiers while enroute to the camp. The potter gathers everyone to discuss what to do now that their camp location is known to the Japanese. Ae Shin’s faithful male servant tells the little boy it is time for him to contribute to the fight. The faithful female servant nods knowing this is the path he must walk.
Mr. Lee is horrified to find the rebel camp deserted. The Japanese Captain points his gun at Mr. Lee who blusters the rebels can’t be that far away. A solider brings a man that Mr. Lee declares a rebel but deaf and mute. He can’t believe it when the man speaks and promises to tell all. He claims certain rebels and others went to town for a special mission, to kill the Japanese Captain. Mr. Lee tells the Japanese Captain that he’s the rebel target. Mr. Lee assures him he can identify the rebels and others. The Japanese Captain orders his men back to town. He shots the man as he leaves.
The male servant jokes that he never even got to hold the female servant’s hand. She scoffs that her hand is old and rough. The others holding the palanquin tease them to grab the moment. They all chuckle.
Mr. Lee, the Japanese Captain and the soldiers arrive in town. Mr. Lee boasts he’ll lead the way confident Ae Shin is in the palanquin. The Japanese Captain divides the soldiers to search for the palanquin. He tells Mr. Lee the only thing that matters is the list of rebels. He grabs Mr. Lee’s throat and warns he’ll tell General Ito that he’s a traitor unless he provides the list of rebels.
The rebels make their way through the woods. The potter rebel leader pauses knowing good men and woman are sacrificing themselves tonight.
The male servant hears the footsteps of the Japanese soldiers coming their way. They say the deaf-mute rebel must have told his story perfectly. The female servant retorts the man wasn’t deaf nor mute. Surprised, the men chuckle appreciatively. They suggest they say the things they never got a chance to say. The female servant thanks the male servant for always being by her side. She offers her hand. He smiles in pleasure and reaches for her hand.
A shot rings out. The male servant is hit and falls backward. More shots ring out. She is shot and falls to the ground. We see the soldiers firing and killing everyone around the palanquin. As the male servant lies dying he spends his last moments staring at the woman he loved, who is already dead. He stretches his hand out to her, touching her in his mind, then he too dies.
Awk! Tears! Touching death scene. Ae Shin’s faithful servants merited such a sendoff.
Writer Kim couldn’t let everyone live. Director Lee perfectly staged death scenes. Hee Na’s death scene was sweet and quiet. The faithful servants’ death scene ripped me up. I savored this episode. We are poised for a final battle between the rebels and the Japanese. Who will live and who will die?
Eugene Choi (Lee Byung Hun) had swoon worthy moment when he pledged to protect Ae Shin. I love Eugene’s acceptance and support of Ae Shin’s path. This is role reversal. I love it. I love him. I love them.
Go Ae Shin (Kim Tae Ri) couldn’t believe her eyes when Eugene returned. She did not trust her memories from when he bandaged her after the explosion. I loved that she shared her grief about Seung Goo’s death baring her soul to the man she loved. Then when she saw him, she knew her memory wasn’t faulty. Their exchange highlighted everything I love about this couple. Joy at being together for the brief moments they have, acceptance of the other’s path, and gentle teasing. I love her. I love him. I love them.
Goo Dong Mae (Yoo Yeon Seok) learned that Hee Na loved him. The romance I hoped for between Dong Mae and Hee Na was brief and sweet. Dong Mae piggy backed Hee Na as he’d done long ago. When she told him she knew that Ae Shin was the woman in his heart, he didn’t deny the truth. And yet he was truly touched, that this woman, who accepted him AS HE WAS, loved him. It was a wonderful gift to receive and watch be bestowed on Dong Mae.
Hee Na (Kim Min Jung) told Dong Mae she loved him. In a lovely death scene, Hee Na admitted her love for Dong Mae. Hee Na was a fascinating female character. She had nuances and edges. Bully for her to end her life at the spot of her choosing with the man she loved.
Kim Hee Sung (Byun Yo Han) has my respect. It seems like a lifetime ago that he was shallow. Hee Sung has grown into a man I admire. I was pleased to see him pledge to marry the seamstress. Hee Sung’s evolution has been a bright spot.
What’s my wish list for the final episode?
* I would like Eugene and Ae Shin to survive. I’m not sure this is possible considering the dire situation of this timeframe.
* I expect Dong Mae to die a noble death. I use the word noble deliberately. Dong Mae has been marked by his lower echelon birth. But Ae Shin’s Grandfather knighted Dong Mae when he charged him to protect Ae Shin. Dong Mae knows the gang will come for him. The odds are low he’ll survive. I’d love that outcome, but I don’t expect it.
* Hee Sung marries the seamstress and lives a life that he’s capable of.
* The rebels have one final stand against the Japanese. If they taste victory, it won’t be permanent as this timeframe dictates. If they die in defeat, I’ll sob my eyes out.
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as excellent. My episode ranking chart is below.
The fourteenth song of the OST “If You Were Me” is a lovely ballad sung by Ben: