Soo Kyung (Kwon Yuri) declares she won’t put them in danger again should she ever be recognized. Ba Woo (Jung Il Woo) admits he’s over what was troubling him that made him push her away. Soo Kyung points out he risked his life for her yesterday. She won’t let him do it again. Ba Woo urges her to stop being stubborn and leave with him. Soo Kyung says nothing. Ba Woo changes tack and declares he’ll forever worry about her. Again, and again, he’s proven her best protector. He points out she was thrilled to see him when he got on the boat with her. Soo Kyung admits that was a fantasy come true, but things are different now. She reminds him he wanted never to see her again. Ba Woo scoffs things are different now. Soo Kyung says his words and actions are etched into her mind. They stare into each other’s eyes. Ba Woo hugs her. Soo Kyung asks for space. Ba Woo backs away and apologizes for his impertinence. Soo Kyung agrees he was impertinent. She steps away.
Ba Woo follows Soo Kyung. He apologizes for the hug. They agree to pretend it didn’t happen. Ba Woo refuses to let Soo Kyung go solo. He tells her not to waste her breath. He leans toward her. Soo Kyung calls him impertinent. Ba Woo reminded her of her declaration that she was no longer a princess but a commoner. Ba Woo declares she’s the woman he will protect. He asks her to stay with him so he can protect her. He walks away.
When Ba Woo enters the hut, he grapples with his declaration. Soo Kyung enters the hut. Ba Woo grabs her bag and says he’ll use it as a pillow. Court Lady Jo, Chun Bae, Chun Bae all agree sleep is the next step.
When everyone else is asleep, Soo Kyung murmurs her thanks to Soo Kyung. He thanks her too.
Lee Dae Yeob (Shin Hyun Soo) remembers Soo Kyung divorcing him and telling him to move on. He cries. His aunt Haeindang Lee hears him crying. She hopes he gets over it or else she’ll tell her brother Soo Kyung is alive.
Everyone enjoys a day at the shore. Soo Kyung thanks him for bringing her to the beach this first time. She admits knowing him has enriched her life in many ways. Ba Woo stares. She asks why. Ba Woo gets flustered and move away. Soo Kyung smiles.
The city of Jemulpo has many attractions that amaze everyone.
Chun Bae goes to the book shop owner Sa. They hug. Then book shop owner Sa kicks Chun Bae out for a 10-year absence. Chun Bae begs book shop owner Sa not to make his family homeless. Court Lady Jo, Cha Dol, Soo Kyung and Ba Woo look pitiful. Book shop owner Sa takes to a hut he lets them rent. He asks Chun Bae who his wife is. Chun Bae points to Court Lady Jo. She’s forced to play alone. Chun Bae declares Cha Dol is Soo Kyung’s son and she’s married to Ba Woo. Everyone pretends Chun Bae is telling the truth. When book shop owner Sa leaves, Court Lady Jo hits Chun Bae for his falsehoods.
Ba Woo goes to town to look for work. He runs into Geo Jeong who knows him from another town. He tries to hire Ba Woo. The work isn’t strictly legal, but it pays well. Ba Woo declines keeping his promise to Soo Kyung that he’ll only take honest work.
Vice Premiere Lee and is pleased when Lee Won Yeob (Dae Yeob’s brother and the Vice Premiere’s eldest son) provides the evidence that will force the king to lose some power.
The Vice Premiere shows the minister the evidence that provides the king’s minister of defense committee fraud.
The Vice Premiere takes the evidence to King Gwanghae (Soo Kyung’s father) and requests the minister of defense be dismissed. The king doesn’t believe the evidence is conclusive. The ministers ask the king to eliminate the royal architect as the new palace is straining the kingdom’s coffers. The king declares the palace is his legacy and it will continue to be built. He dares the ministers to feed the poor from their own lauders if they are so concerned about the people.
In a private meeting a trusted minister warns the king not to fire the Vice Premiere. Without him, who will protect the kingdom?
The Vice Premiere shows Court Lady Kim the evidence that she pilfered construction funds. She’s outraged. The Vice Premiere orders her to do what he wants or else.
Court Lady Kim tells the king to make a deal with the Vice Premiere. Once he does, he’ll be able to position himself for the next counter move that will eliminate the Vice Premiere. The king is frustrated at being boxed in. He agrees to speak with the Vice Premiere.
Court Lady Kim tell the Vice Premiere the king will make the deal. She asks for the evidence against her. The Vice Premiere hands it over.
The king makes the deal with the Vice Premiere. Drop the charges against the minister of defense and the king will rescind the order that Soo Kyung’s grave not be moved. the Vice Premiere accepts the offer. The king talks paying the debt he owes the western faction which the Vice Premiere controls. The Vice Premiere wonders what the king really wants. The Vice Premiere agrees to help the king.
Soo Kyung pricks her finger during mending clothes for money. Court Lady Jo frets. Soo Kyung reminder Court Lady Jo not to call her highness but rather little sister.
Outside, Court Lady Jo complains that Ba Woo is working but Chun Bae is not doing anything. Chun Bae takes her aside and shares he used to smuggle goods with the book shop owner. Chun Bae admits being back in his hometown is good. Chun Bae suggests smuggling is the best way to earn big money fast. Soo Kyung wouldn’t have to work. Chun Bae asks if Court Lady Jo has jewelry to sell. Chun Bae claims she doesn’t.
Geo Jeong asks Ba Woo to work for him. Ba Woo refuses. Geo Jeong points out money is more important than ethics. Ba Woo refuses again. Ba Woo sees Geo Jeong talk to a top official of the town. Later he spots Chun Bae hanging out with Geo Jeong. He wonders what the two men are scheming.
Chun Bae arrives home with fish. Everyone confronts Chun Bae’s illegal activities. Chun Bae isn’t sorry. He says his schemes will bring them wealth. Even the top officials of the town are supportive of the scheme.
Kim Ja Jaeom is taken aback when his office is raided by palace guards.
Court Lady Kim tells the king the Vice Premiere is leveraging the raid to investigate Kim Ja Jaeom. The king doesn’t care. Kim Ja Jaeom lost his daughter imploding the king’s careful plans. Court Lady Kim notes that while Kim Ja Jaeom blew his assignment to keep Soo Kyung safe, he can still be a valuable tool. The king states he wants the Ming to recognize his mother’s monarch status. Only the Vice Premiere has the connections to make that happen. If Kim Ja Jaeom can facilitate, the king will save him.
Kim Ja Jaeom shares his troubles with Court Lady Kim. She scoffs she’s taking heat for recommending him in the first place. Kim Ja Jaeom swears to do what it takes to make the king see he’s value added. Court Lady Kim reveals the king wants the Ming to recognize his mother’s monarch status. The king wants to continue to walk a neutral line between the Ming and Jin. If Kim Ja Jaeom can make the king’s wish come true, the king will save him. Kim Ja Jaeom must convince the Vice Premiere to recommend the king’s mother’s status upgrade to the Ming’s right hand man. She orders Kim Ja Jaeom to make it happen no matter what.
Kim Ja Jaeom wonders how he’ll accomplish the tricky task.
Kim Ja Jaeom tells the Vice Premiere that he has a secret that the Vice Premiere will want to know. In return for the secret, the Vice Premiere must recommend the king’s mother’s status upgrade to the Ming’s right hand man. the Vice Premiere notes that the secret had better be good. Kim Ja Jaeom assures him it will be worth it. That gets the Vice Premiere’s attention.
Dae Yeob practices his sword work in the bamboo forest. He acts the dutiful son when he greets his father. He swears he’ll become the son his father needs. His father invites him to discuss a matter.
The Vice Premiere explains to Dae Yeob and Won Yeob the situation Kim Ja Jaeom presented. Dae Yeob urges his father to agree to Kim Ja Jaeom’s demands to learn the secret that could undermine the family. Won Yeob disagrees noting it will be too expensive. The Vice Premiere decides to make the request to the Ming’s right hand man. He orders Won Yeob to gather the money while he writes the letter.
The book shop owner has heard Soo Kyung can draw. He asks Chun Bae to convince Soo Kyung to draw erotica. Knowing erotica sells well, Chun Bae understands the request but declares Soo Kyung would never consent. Chun Bae declares once the ships with the smuggled goods return to the harbor, their lives will improve tenfold.
A storm comes across the sea and into land.
Cha Dol reports that the main hut’s roof is leaking. Chun Bae and Ba Woo see bowls placed throughout the main hut to catch the drips. Soo Kyung watches Cha Dol catching the drips. She decides to do the same. Ba Woo shields her head from the drips. They lock eyes. Everyone notices. Soo Kyung pulls away. Ba Woo apologizes for the roof. They all agree to sleep in the main hut. Soo Kyung chuckles this is another first experience. Chun Bae motions that she’s crazy. Court Lady Jo bashes his head. Everyone laughs. Turns out Court Lady Jo’s laugh is boisterous. Everyone laughs more.
The next morning, the book shop owner arrives livid that the money he invested with Chun Bae is gone. Chun Bae rushes away. The book shop owner warns unless he’s paid back, he’ll kick them out. Ba Woo assures him they’ll pay him back.
Ba Woo finds Chun Bae on the beach fretting. He says the boats were sunk with only one survivor who is badly hurt. Chun Bae cries that death may be his best option. Ba Woo tells his friend not to worry.
Chun Bae promises the book shop owner he’ll pay him back. Ba Woo swears he’ll help pay the man back. The book shop owner tells Ba Woo if his wife draws one book of erotica, the debt will be forgiven. Ba Woo is shocked and horrified at the request. Chun Bae chides his friend that it will never happen. The book shop owner vows to make them pay.
Ba Woo lies to Soo Kyung, Court Lady Jo and Cha Dol their negotiations with the book shop owner went well and they have time to pay back the money.
Chun Bae report to Ba Woo the former erotica drawer has a respectable job and refuses to draw again. Chun Bae states the erotica was the primary sales for the book shop owner. Chun Bae wonders if they should bring it up to Soo Kyung. Ba Woo refuses. Chun Bae shows Ba Woo a book of erotica and suggests they draw a new one. Ba Woo can’t believe it.
The next day on the docks, Ba Woo works the manual labor for little money.
That evening Chun Bae struggles to effectively draw erotica. He asks Ba Woo if they should run away from the debt. Ba Woo points out this is Chun Bae’s home. He’s willing to see if another solution can be found.
The next morning, Soo Kyung brings rice for the men. When she enters their hut, she finds the discarded papers around a book. She opens the book and yells in shock. She looks at the discard papers and recoils from the drawing. Court Lady Jo rushes into the room. Soo Kyung pushes her out. Ba Woo and Chun Bae arrive and ask what is going on. Soo Kyung snarls at him and goes into the main cabin. No one know why Soo Kyung is acting that way. Ba Woo rushes into the men’s cabin wondering if Soo Kyung saw the book. Court Lady Jo grabs Ba Woo’s ear, sure that he’s the culprit.
Chun Bae explains the situation to Court Lady Jo. He begs her to talk to Soo Kyung about drawing erotica.
Court Lady Jo talks to Soo Kyung about drawing erotica. Soo Kyung is dismayed.
That evening as everyone sleeps, Court Lady Jo sits outside and considers. Court Lady Jo wakes and finds Soo Kyung outside. Soo Kyung tells Court Lady Jo she has to draw, after all their livelihood depends on it.
The next day Soo Kyung tries to draw the erotica but she can’t do it. Court Lady Jo watches and realizes Soo Kyung isn’t going to be able to make the drawings.
Court Lady Jo shows the uninspired drawing to Chun Bae. He’s not impressed. Court Lady Jo explains that Soo Kyung is still a virgin as her husband died unexpectedly the night before they married. Chun Bae can’t believe it. Chun Bae asks Court Lady Jo if she’s a virgin. Court Lady Jo hits him. Chun Bae suggests Court Lady Jo share her knowledge with Soo Kyung. Court Lady Jo barks one conversation won’t enlighten Soo Kyung. Chun Bae asks how court ladies learned the erotic arts. Court Lady Jo explains that court ladies in the queue to sleep with the king were educated depending on their age. What was difficult to explain in words were explained through explicit art. Chun Bae vows to get a book of explicit art. He asks again if Court Lady Jo is a virgin. She hits him. He dashes away.
That evening, Cha Dol joins Chun Bae and Ba Woo in the men’s hut explaining the women wanted privacy.
In the main hut, Soo Kyung picks up the book of explicit art. She peeks and is dismayed. She hands the book to Court Lady Jo. Then she demands to see the book. She opens the book and closes it. Court Lady Jo opens the book and flips the pages, while they stare in shock. Soo Kyung tells Court Lady Jo to flip the pages slowly from the beginning so she can fully grasp the process.
When Ba Woo announces he’s entering the hut, Soo Kyung hides the book by falling on it. Ba Woo asks why she’s on the floor. Court Lady Jo offers a lame excuse and order him to leave. Ba Woo leaves.
The two women take the book in hand to study once again. They spend the entire evening scrutinizing the book. Soo Kyung admits the explicit art helped with the mechanics but she can’t fathom how to make an erotic book. Court Lady Jo suggests that Soo Kyung imagine a scenario of erotic delight then draw it. What happens when two people meet and are instantly attracted to each other? Court Lady Jo asks what Soo Kyung imagined. Soo Kyung denies imagining anything. Court Lady Jo doesn’t believe her. Soo Kyung declares she didn’t. Court Lady Jo looks chagrined. Soo Kyung exits to make breakfast. Court Lady Jo wonders what Soo Kyung imagined.
The Vice Premiere finds Dae Yeob studying. The Vice Premiere tells Dae Yeob to stick close to home. The Vice Premiere shares he’s going to meet with Kim Ja Jaeom.
The Vice Premiere gives Kim Ja Jaeom a letter from Ming’s right-hand man approving the king’s mother’s monarch status. He wants the secret. Kim Ja Jaeom declares Ba Woo is the grandson of the prince and father-in-law of the previous king Seon Jo. Ba Woo’s real name is Kim Dae Seok. The Vice Premiere is shocked. Ba Woo’s grandfather was Kim Jae Nam, the man the Vice Premiere framed and had killed for treason. Kim Ja Jaeom assures the Vice Premiere this is true. He further states Ba Woo was the one that bossamed Soo Kyung. He suggests Ba Woo did so to strike at the Vice Premiere. That gets the Vice Premiere’s attention. Kim Ja Jaeom swear on his life this is the truth. Kim Ja Jaeom takes the letter from Ming’s right hand man and leaves the Vice Premiere behind.
The Vice Premiere meets with Won Yeob and Dae Yeob to divulge the secret. Won Yeob is sure Ba Woo bossamed Soo Kyung with intent of vengeance. The Vice Premiere reveals Ba Woo’s sister and mother are slave servants. the Vice Premiere asks where they are living. Won Yeob is sure the guard commander Tae Chul would know but he’s currently in Jemulpo handling the other matter. The Vice Premiere tells Won Yeob to send someone to Jemulpo to find Tae Chul. Dae Yeob asks what the other matter is. the Vice Premiere tells Dae Yeob the less people that know, the more secure the secret is. Dae Yeob understands.
Chun Bae finds Ba Woo on the docks and reports Geo Jeong was the lone survivor of the boat disaster. Chun Bae reveals Geo Jeong has disappeared in spite of serious knife wounds. Both men wonder why knife wounds were the results of the boat disaster. Ba Woo orders Chun Bae to go home and keep everyone safe.
Ba Woo finds Geo Jeong. He sees the blood on the chest bandages. He asks what happened. CJ says the boats were wrecked. He warns Ba Woo to leave, he could be in danger too. He refuses to say more.
Ba Woo decides to follow the top official of the town he saw talking to Geo Jeong. He almost makes a move against the man but spots Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul and ducks out of sight. The top official begs Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul for his life. Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul demands to know where the shipwreck survivor is.
Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul and his men arrive where Geo Jeong was but no longer is. He orders his men to find and kill the survivor. the Vice Premiere’s man arrives and shares the Vice Premiere’s message. Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul and his men change course while Ba Woo and Geo Jeong watch.
Ba Woo orders Geo Jeong to tell him everything. Geo Jeong admits men boarded the ships, took the secret cargo, then deliberately killed all the crews and sank the ships.
Flashback…Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul’s men board the boat and kill the crew. Geo Jeong suffers knife wounds and falls overboard.
Ba Woo asks what the secret cargo was. Geo Jeong reveals it was cooper and sulfur. Ba Woo realizes those components are required for gun powder and guns. Geo Jeong tells Ba Woo to forget about it and not to stir up trouble.
Ba Woo is surprised to see the monk in town. The monk reports Ba Woo’s sister Yeon Ok is getting married and he came for the ceremony and celebration. The monk believes it is best for her to marry.
Ba Woo makes his way to the house where his mother and sister live and work.
Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul make their way to the house where Ba Woo’s mother and sister live and work.
Ba Woo arrives and sees his sister getting married. His mother spots him outside the fence and smiles. He nods. Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul arrives. His men grab Ba Woo’s mother and sister and drag them away. Ba Woo can only watch helplessly.
Erotic art wasn’t a plot point I expected. Writers Kim Ji Soo and Park Cheol mixed in erotic art, humor into palace intrigues, the Vice Premiere’s machinations, and Ba Woo’s family history. We learned Soo Kyung never married her husband and is indeed the virgin widow her mother mourned. As such supposedly she couldn’t draw erotic art without experience. Court Lady Jo had Chun Bae procure explicit art to tutor Soo Kyung. The scene where both women pursued the illicit book with shock and fascination was marvelous. On the serious side, Kim Ja Jaeom betrayed Ba Woo’s confidence in his identity. I found it surprising that Ba Woo revealed his long-held secret to Kim Ja Jaeom last episode. Now the Vice Premiere knows who Ba Woo is. He immediately ordered Ba Woo’s mother and sister captured. Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul efficiently got the job done. We also learned the Vice Premiere is amassing his own supply of guns and gunpowder. Is a coup d’état in the offing?
Ba Woo (Jung Il Woo) convinced Soo Kyung to stay with him. Ba Woo’s hug didn’t elicit a return hug from Soo Kyung. She told him not to crowd her. Ba Woo stepped back and accepted that she wasn’t ready for physical contact. It’s obvious he cares for her and she’s drawn to him. They move forward slowly. Ba Woo kept his word and worked legal though low paying jobs. The ships were wrecked and Geo Jeong was the lone survivor. Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul hunted Geo Jeong. Ba Woo demanded to know the truth. Geo Jeong reluctantly told Ba Woo the secret cargo of guns/gunpowder components were taken by murdering guards that boarded the ships. Ba Woo was surprised to see the monk in town who reported his younger sister was marrying. Spidey senses tingling, Ba Woo rushed to the house where his mother and sister served. He saw the ceremony. His mother saw him. The happy moment was destroyed when Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul and his men arrived and dragged Ba Woo’s mother and sister away. Just like when he was young, Ba Woo could only watch from his hiding spot as the Vice Premiere took control of his family again.
Soo Kyung (Kwon Yuri) couldn’t draw what she didn’t know. With the reveal that Soo Kyung was a virgin as her husband to be died prior to their marriage, her shock and fascination of the explicit art was more delightful. Soo Kyung and Court Lady Jo couldn’t tear their eyes away. I loved when Court Lady Jo told Soo Kyung to imagine what a passionate interlude would be like. Court Lady Jo wondered who Soo Kyung imagined. Was it Ba Woo? Soo Kyung inches closer to Ba Woo but she’s not ready for the physical side…yet.
Lee Dae Yeob (Shin Hyun Soo) tried to cope with losing Soo Kyung. He cried and his aunt worried. He told his father he was onboard with becoming a government official and dutiful son. His father listened to Dae Yeob’s counsel about learning Kim Ja Jaeom’s secret.
The ninth song in this prolific OST is the soulful “Beautiful Enough” sung by Gonia. “Beautiful Enough” lyrics (link).
I rank this episode as terrific, 9 on a 10-point scale.