Buckle up, kiddos, cos’ we’re going for an emotional rollercoaster ride! First up, comedy hour in Centre Room Two, followed by the return of Darth In-soo. Will his nefarious plan to lure Seon-joon over to the dark side succeed? More importantly, will Seon-joon finally use that big, BIG brain of his and figure out that Yoon-hee is a girl? Given that it’s only episode 8, probably not.
Picking up from where we left off, Jae-shin is now recovering what’s left of his brain from the ground as he tries to come to terms with the fact that Yoon-hee is a girl. To complicate matters, Seon-joon shows up looking for their roomie. Ever so chivalrously, Jae-shin blocks his path, explaining that the building he is trying to enter is Hyangkwanchung, a sacred place where memorial services for the university’s big shots are held. He tells Seon-joon that there’s no reason Yoon-hee should be in there at all since it is out of bounds to everyone save Sungkyunkwan officials.
Poor Jae-shin is a wreck and is barely holding it together, which is unfortunate because look who has just arrived to join their little pow-wow? Yong-ha snerks that if Yoon-hee has a secret, what better place to hide than in Hyangkwanchung?
Frazzled, Jae-shin insists that there’s nothing in the building except incense pots, banging on the door as he does so in an attempt to warn Yoon-hee. OMG, I can’t believe she’s still in the tub. Yoon-hee, a little more urgency, please?
However, he’s a bit too overzealous in his efforts because the latch holding the doors together drops off.
What we get next is plenty of fan-service as Yong-ha and Jae-shin start wrestling with each other on the ground leaving the way wide open for Seon-joon to open the door…
…only to find out that there is no one in it, much to Jae-shin’s relief and Yong-ha’s dismay as the latter darts around the room, sniffing the hot tub and checking the back door to see if Yoon-hee has escaped.
Wondering if he should deign to show up for the evening’s roll-call, Jae-shin is about to leave when he sees droplets of water falling close to where he is standing. Sure enough, Yoon-hee is hiding on top of one of the shelves and he immediately moves to cover up the evidence before the others can see it.
While Seon-joon is satisfied that there’s no one in the building, Yong-ha is not so easily convinced. He insists that he saw a light in the building, thumping the shelf on top of which Yoon-hee is hiding in frustration. Fortunately for her, the moment is interrupted by Professor Yoo, who reprimands them for causing such a ruckus in Hyangkwanchung. It’s five points off the records for everyone! This is enough to convince Yong-ha to leave the room, but not before he gives the shelf another thump.
Our three muchachos head back to Centre Room Two only to find that Yoon-hee isn’t there either. Seon-joon immediately leaves to look for her but is stopped by Jae-shin, who tells him to stay put. Kim Yoon-shik’s a grown man. He can take care of himself, dammit! At his outburst, Yong-ha smiles one of his devious little smiles.
Meanwhile, Yoon-hee has changed into her nightgown and is on her way back to her room, but not before she gets an earful from Professor Jung.
News travels fast in Sungkyunkwan and he’s heard all about the commotion that happened in Hyangkwanchung. Reminding her that she was the one who made the decision to stay, he tells her just because everyone assumes she’s a man doesn’t mean she can let her guard down—her life is at stake every minute she spends in Sungkyunkwan.
Chez In-soo. Weather status: Miserable with a chance of shit storms
Still smarting from his loss to the Jalgeum Trio, In-soo mulls over the bet that Yoon-hee made with him before the tournament. Now that they’ve won the admiration of the King, he’s got to make good on his word. He’s the president of the Sungkyunkwan Student Council, after all. Byung-choon is practically falling over himself (and Kang Moo) to make amends for screwing up at the Dae Sa Rae, but it’s too late because In-soo clearly has one foot in the deep end already.
He warns them not to do anything. Wouldn’t it be better if the King were to expel them from Sungkyunkwan himself or if they started turning their backs on one another?
Chez Jalgeum Trio. Weather status: Confused
Both Jae-shin and Seon-joon lie in their respective corners of the room, their minds filled with thoughts of Yoon-hee. You’ve heard of women’s monthly cycles syncing, looks like something similar happens to men too. Really, you have to wonder what would happen if you were to throw Yong-ha into the mix.
Eventually, Yoon-hee returns to the room and unfortunately for Jae-shin, he gets another attack of the hiccups the moment she lies down. Unable to contain them, he exits the room, only to find Yong-ha lying in wait.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Seon-joon is still awake. Taking advantage of Jae-shin’s absence, he starts grilling Yoon-hee on her whereabouts: Where has she been and why did she come back so late? Plus, he heard she got into a fight…OH GOD, SEON-JOON. When did you become her FATHER? Are you going to tell her she’s grounded for the next six months?
Surprised that she’s not telling him to mind his own beeswax, he turns around to see that she’s fallen fast asleep.
He tucks her in properly (aww…) and because it’s just them in the room, takes the opportunity to admire Yoon-hee’s features. Once again, when are you going to start questioning your— oh, never mind.
Poor Jae-shin is, in the meantime, gallantly trying to protect Yoon-hee’s identity, which is easier said than done because Yong-ha is like a piranha with blood on its mind. He wheedles his friend into confirming his suspicions that Yoon-hee is a girl, telling Jae-shin that he can’t fool him because he is none other than Gu Yong-ha, womaniser extraordinaire. He can guess the colour of a girl’s panties just by smelling her make-up. (Yes, I’m sure those are very valuable life skills, Yong-ha.) Also, they’ve been friends for 10 years. He knows what makes Jae-shin tick, or in this case, hiccup. However Jae-shin refuses to cave. Unperturbed, Yong-ha smirks, telling him that he’ll be waiting to see how long Jae-shin can last in that room with Yoon-hee.
Answer: Less than 30 seconds. It doesn’t take much for Jae-shin’s heated imagination to get the better of him and soon, he is picturing Yoon-hee like so:
Mind you, it’s all very G-rated though given the way he’s behaving you’d think she was giving him come hither glances in a bikini. In an attempt to ward off his hiccups, he reaches for his overcoat (I know, I’ve never heard of this cure for hiccups either) and out drops a handkerchief. Recognition dawns on his face as he makes the connection between Yoon-hee and the girl who gave it to him.
Meanwhile, Yong-ha is tossing and turning about in his room, annoyed that a mere slip of a girl has gotten the better of him. If only his stupid friend hadn’t gotten involved…
And speaking of friend, we see that our fearless rebel has gone from being a wild stallion to a giant caterpillar as he swaddles himself with his mattress and stuffs his mouth with Yoon-hee’s handkerchief. Seriously Jae-shin, I don’t know whose virtue you’re trying to protect—yours or hers. It’s not like she’s going to molest you in your sleep because look! She’s snuggling up to Seon-joon.
You’d think he would be happy having all that space to himself but nooooo. If he can’t sleep next to her, neither can Noron Boy, which is why the next morning sees the three of them like this:
Still completely out-of-sorts, Jae-shin (who, it must be said, is also a piss-poor liar) tries to explain away his strange behaviour by telling them that that he has malaria. I know, wth? This isn’t exactly welcome news for Seon-joon, who
is a closet hypochondriac moves very slowly away and surreptitiously feels his forehead for signs of a fever, since God only knows how long Jae-shin spent sleeping next to him.
Cut to the next scene: It’s time for Yoon-hee to get her own back at Yong-ha. They bump into each other in the toilet and she tells him that she decided not to go to Hyangkwanchung after hearing his story about the ghost. Since Yoon-hee’s no ordinary man—her nickname is Daemul, after all—she figured it would be better if she stayed away. Who knows? The ghost could have been waiting for her. She adds that since Yong-ha has broken more than his fair share of hearts, it would be best if he didn’t enter Hyangkwanchung either. Ha ha.
Clearly spooked, Yong-ha tells her that he definitely saw a light coming from Hyangkwanchung. Well, that was probably the ghost calling out to him, replies Yoon-hee. Shouldn’t he start mending his ways and leading a more wholesome life from now on?
It’s the students’ day off (they get to go home on the 8th and 23rd of each month). Like the good boy that he is, Seon-joon is all dressed up, looking adorable in his spiffy yellow robes (I don’t know about you but I just want to ruffle his hair and give him five gold stars), and waiting for Yoon-hee, who is looking as pleased as punch with the allowance she’s received.
Teasing her, he remarks that even though she’s a Sungkyunkwan scholar, she’s still as obsessed with money as ever. Predictably, Yoon-hee snits that she has nothing to say to him but before she can leave, he holds out a parcel of meds, telling her that they are for her brother.
She’s surprised (and touched) that he remembered this, but damn if she’ll admit it to his face. She takes the parcel from him—since he’s already bought it, no point letting it go to waste, right? But the smile on her face as she walks away from him says EVERYTHING.
Because In-soo has been AWOL for nearly half this episode, who better to ruin the moment than him? Turns out he too has a present for Yoon-hee. Byung-choon and Gong Bo throw several parcels at her feet. They’re leftovers from the school’s kitchen, he tells her, adding that he’s sure as a future government official, she won’t let the people’s blood, sweat and tears go to waste. He’s essentially mocking her by twisting Seon-joon’s words from the student initiation ceremony.
Seon-joon tries to come to her defense but Ha Junior is ready for him. Referring to the medicine that he gave her, In-soo asks him why he should be the only one to help her, adding that since she asked to be acknowledged as a Sungkyunkwan scholar, it’s only right that she gets to enjoy the luxuries they enjoy as well.
Jae-shin has heard enough and is ready to rearrange In-soo’s face but Yoon-hee stops him. She thanks In-soo for his gifts and leaves taking them with her, much to Seon-joon and Jae-shin’s chagrin.
As a parting shot, In-soo tells the two of them that their idea of political harmony is just wishful thinking. They can never truly understand Yoon-hee because as sons born into wealthy political families, they have never had to suffer like her. Whether they want to admit it or not, they have more in common with him than with her.
And on this unhappy note, everyone goes their separate ways with Jae-shin trailing Yoon-hee and Seon-joon returning home where he finds out, to his surprise that preparations are underway for his father’s birthday. It’s the first time that such a thing has ever happened.
As they play a game of Go, Seon-joon’s father praises his son for getting on the King’s good side with his talk about political harmony—there’s no reason to make him their enemy just yet. This unsettles Seon-joon, since he’s not just talking about political harmony for show. He expresses his concern that going against the King may not be the right path to take.
And here, we see where their views diverge. Joseon, as Lee Senior explains, belongs to the aristocrats; they were the ones who led the people out of chaos during the wars with the Japanese and Manchus. All the royal family ever did was abandon the people in their time of need or kowtow to the invaders’ demands. What the King is preaching as political harmony is in reality an attempt to isolate power in the hands of one person by accusing the noblemen of creating a political rift.
That’s not all Daddy Lee has to say though. He tells Seon-joon to distance himself from Yoon-hee and Jae-shin as they come from different backgrounds. Naturally, Seon-joon tries to defend them but Lee Senior will have none of it. His word is law.
Cut to Yoon-hee, whose mood has lifted some as she goes around shopping for treats and presents. She stops at an accessories stall and is about to buy a ribbon when she sees Hyo-eun standing next to her. Not wanting to stand in the presence of her rival-in-love, Yoon-hee leaves. Jae-shin, who is still trailing her, notices a few men behaving suspiciously in the background.
He ambushes one of them and finds out that they have been sent by the Minister of War and that their target is Yoon-hee.
Chez Minister of War. Minister Ha is throwing a shit fit over his men’s failure to capture Yoon-hee, despite his lieutenant’s repeated assurance that she is not Hong Byuk Seo. But it’s as good as talking to a brick wall because the minister has his shriveled heart set on seeing Yoon-hee gagged and bound.
[Enter In-soo. Exeunt relieved lieutenant.] Ha Junior, upon learning that his father will be attending the Left Prime Minister’s birthday banquet, comments that it’s the latter’s way of showing the King who’s the one with the real political influence. He tells his father not to worry about Yoon-hee—she isn’t capable of doing anything to harm him. And as for all that talk about political harmony, he has the perfect plan to make Seon-joon one of them—Hyo-eun.
And speaking of Hyo-eun, just where is the minister’s daughter? Still set on becoming Mrs Lee Seon-joon, she is consulting a medium to find out when they’re getting married. His answer? Bitch, please. Hell will freeze over before he sends a matchmaker to your house.
She gets all huffy but her attendants tell her that the more he cusses, the more accurate his predictions. Haha.
Unknown to Hyo-eun, Yong-ha is listening in on her session with the medium. He scoffs at her gullibility—how can a few cards change someone’s heart? But the girls he’s with tell him that this medium is DA BOMB—he’s driven all the other fortune tellers out of business with his predictions. Yong-ha muses that maybe he should give it a try as well, revealing that it’s his heart he wants to change. No matter how well they hit it off at first, he always gets bored with the girls he meets. How nice it would be if his heart could remain constant—for starters, he’d no longer have to spend so much money seducing girls. Ha ha.
In the meantime, the fortune teller has moved on to insulting Seon-joon. He tells her that the latter is an idiot who’s too blind to realize that there’s a girl standing right in front of him.
SING IT, MISTER.
He tells Hyo-eun that the only way to get through his thick skull is to show him that she’s a woman. (Methinks Yoon-hee should be the one listening to all this.) He whispers something in her ear, only to earn a look of horrified disgust from her.
There’s no way she’s going to do that. No, absolutely not!
Over in another part of town, Yoon-hee is telling the bookseller that it will be a cold, cold day in hell before she writes Hyo-eun’s love letter, much to his dismay. Whatever happened to the person who said she’d do anything for money? He rants that it’s for her sake he’s even accepting jobs like this—every cent he earns goes not into his pockets but young Master Lee’s. And then he lets it slip that the 50 nyang he gave her in advance was paid for by Seon-joon. Yoon-hee, whose pride has received enough battering for one day, leaves to give young Master Lee a battering of his own.
As she storms off towards Lee Manor thinking of all the ways she wants to wring Seon-joon’s neck, she doesn’t notice Cho-sun standing by the wayside.
Crestfallen, the gisaeng tells her companions that she’s returning to Moran-gak. There’s no point in buying new clothes or dolling herself up if the man she loves doesn’t even want to look at her.
Lee Manor. Unaware of the shit storm hurtling his way, Seon-joon sits in his study, pining for Yoon-hee replaying the afternoon’s events in his mind. But hang on, put those feelings on hold, son, because you have a visitor.
His initial gladness turns to dismay when he finds out that it is Hyo-eun in that get-up. She explains that she is dressed like this because she has come alone and as a nobleman’s daughter, she has to be careful not to be seen by others.
Meanwhile, Lee Senior’s banquet is underway and the Norons are putting on quite the show.
The Minister of War tells the Prime Minister that he should let the King know how well-attended it was (translation: look how many supporters we have.) However the Prime Minister is no fool and deflects this by saying he doesn’t want people to gossip about how this extravagant party was just an excuse for the Left Prime Minister to flaunt his influence.
Prime Minister: 1 Norons: 0
Not to be outplayed, Lee Senior laughs off the Prime Minister’s insinuations and remarks that surely the King isn’t the kind to be swayed by vulgar gossip. After all, His Majesty knows how loyal he is to Joseon.
Prime Minister: 1 Norons: 1
While his father is taking part in a verbal ping-pong match, Seon-joon is telling Hyo-eun to put a stop to all her visits. Not only is it improper, it is also disrespectful to him. In future, if she has anything she wants to say to him, she can send a message through his servant.
Instead of leaving, however, she puts her hands around his neck with the intention of slipping a talisman into his robes.
The medium had told her to leave it in his possession for 15 minutes but her attempt is foiled by Seon-joon. We all know how much he hates superstitions and he immediately dashes her dreams of a Happily Ever After by telling her that he has no desire to have anything to with her ever again.
Absolutely heartbroken, she confesses that she can’t help it even though she hates herself for doing stupid things like. This is her first time experiencing the kind of feelings she had always thought existed only in romance novels. She adds that it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t share her feelings because she loves him so, so much. OH MY GOD. Someone pass me a baseball bat so I can beat the crap out of something.
Seon-joon turns to look at her, looking like he wants to say something (if you take back everything you just said, I swear I’m going to brain YOU with my bat!) However either she’s too embarrassed by her confession or she doesn’t want to have her heart broken into even smaller pieces because she walks away before he can open his mouth. Still distraught from their encounter, she walks straight into a servant carrying a tray of food, sending everything crashing to the ground and attracting the attention of all the ministers present.
Like a deer caught in the headlights, Hyo-eun stands rooted to the ground, unable to move. Because he has been genetically programmed to Do the Right Thing™, Seon-joon tries to lead her away only to find that she has gone all catatonic on him. So, with all the ministers’ looking on, he does the noble thing and carries her away.
*Sigh* Seon-joon, I love that that you’re so chivalrous and all but this is not going to end well.
Once they are alone, he tells her not to worry because everything is going to be okay. Hyo-eun is now more in love with him than ever and she kisses him on the cheek, telling him there’s no way she can give up on him now. *le sigh*
Being the perfect gentleman, he walks Hyo-eun out, only to see Yoon-hee storming up to the entrance of his house. Uh-oh, she doesn’t look very happy.
He catches up with her as she stomps away and the floodgates open: Did he have fun watching her get all excited about being a Sungkyunkwan scholar? What, has he succumbed to that fatal K-drama disease and contracted amnesia? Very well, does 50 nyang ring a bell?
And then she tells him she never wants to see his face ever again. Oh dear.
Okay, let’s get my beef with Hyo-eun’s confession out of the way first.
<Begin rant>Look, I think Hyo-eun is great—she’s a riot. I can understand that she has a crush on Seon-joon. Hell, 85% of the viewers watching this drama do. What I don’t understand is when K-drama characters decide that the solution to having their feelings spurned is to crank up the juice and LOVE the other person into submission. Like, this is the surest way to guarantee that you end up sleeping in separate beds after you get married. Maybe this is why there are so many cheating spouses in K-dramas?
If you’ve ever been the subject of another person’s unwanted affections, you’ll know it’s one of the most uncomfortable situations in the world. At first, you’re a little flattered, and then things get awkward and you’re avoiding the phone like it’s the ebola virus. And then the awkwardness festers into resentment, and you’re saying nasty things like ‘Which part of I. Don’t. Like. You. do you not understand?’
All I can say is that someone needs to drop a copy of He’s Just Not That Into You into a wormhole and make sure it reaches Hyo-eun. <End rant>
On another note, I really like how the issue of pride and class differences was handled in this episode. What In-soo says to Yoon-hee & Co. is nasty but not totally baseless. We all know that Seon-joon has been living in a little glass bubble, but so has Jae-shin. Even though he’d like to think that he’s down with what’s going on in the real world, the fact remains that he was born into privilege. It’s precisely because of this that he’s able to roam the streets as Hong Byuk Seo; if he had been raised in poverty, tormenting the Norons would be the least of his concerns. While he may not be as idealistic as Seon-joon, his views have nevertheless been shaped by his environment, which is very different from Yoon-hee’s. He’s a loyal friend and a very sweet person, but whether he really understands Yoon-hee better than Seon-joon is debatable.