Recap: Sungkyunkwan Scandal Ep. 9

A burglar has broken into Sungkyunkwan and for some strange reason, all evidence points to Yoon-hee, which means that our heroes have to play detective and find the real culprit. But first, we need to get the angst out of the way. God help me.
Lesson 9


You have been warned

We continue with the pre-lover’s spat between Yoon-hee and Seon-joon. Being the socially inept, though well-meaning, rich boy that he is, he tells her that he paid for the advance because she needed the money, adding that she can return him the money in her own time. Of course, this isn’t what Yoon-hee wants to hear right now and because it’s her turn to wallow in angst, she pulls out the whole “pride/you rich-me poor/were you pitying me?” spiel. I know her pride’s hurting but recapping this is about as fun as weeding the Serengeti so you’ll excuse me if I skip ahead? Their conversation ends with her giving Seon-joon a verbal bitchslap: he’s worse than In-soo because at least the latter knows he’s an ass. *Sigh*

Seon-joon returns home to angst.

Yoon-hee returns to the bookseller and angsts. She even accepts the love letter job because isn’t she the sort of person who will do anything for money?

Seon-joon and Yoon-hee: angsting like it's going out of fashion

Seriously, where’s Yong-ha when you need him?

Yoon-hee eventually returns home, where she has a tearful reunion with her mother and brother.

Meanwhile, over at Moon Manor, we have awkward relationship #2: Jae-shin’s injuries at the Dae Sa Rae have not gone unnoticed by his father and he enters his son’s room with a tray of medicine. Poor Minister Moon, I feel really sorry for him. He’s stuck between trying not to end up a casualty in the Norons’ political games and protecting his son, with whom he has a strained relationship. It doesn’t help that everything he says is misconstrued by Jae-shin, who is still angry with his father for what he perceives to be a betrayal of his brother. To him, his father is just a power-hungry politician who’s willing to be the Norons’ puppet so he can move ahead in his career.

The minister is clearly hurt by Jae-shin’s remarks but replies that he will protect him with the power he has. I sense major heartbreak coming up before the series is over.

He tells his son not to get too close to Yoon-hee, revealing that the Minister of War suspects that she is the Hong Byuk Seo. He also tells him that Kim Seung Hun, the man who died together with his brother, is her father.

Back at Chez Kim, Yoon-hee asks her mother what made her fall in love with her father and go against her family. Did she ever regret her decision to marry him?

Every single day of her life, her mother answers. Ever since Yoon-hee left to attend Sungkyunkwan, she’s been regretting her decision to marry him. If she had not gone against her family, she wouldn’t be so helpless now.

Lee Manor. Seon-joon is learning that doing the right thing doesn’t always pay off. Thanks to his little act of chivalry towards Hyo-eun, he’s now engaged to her. Alarmed, Seon-joon tries to explain his actions but his father will have none of it: He’s a man. Didn’t he think about taking responsibility for his actions? Predictably, Hyo-eun is over the moon about this arrangement.

It’s back to school for our scholars and everyone is showing off their spoils from home. Do-hyun has plenty of snacks, Hae-won has an amulet made of precious white porcelain and Tak Woo has a fancy quartz strap for his expensive new glasses. But none of them can trump Yong-ha, who after waiting a year, has finally received his new toy. It’s a handmade replica of the Forbidden Palace, he tells the three stooges, showing it off with smug satisfaction.

Jae-shin enters the room looking for Yoon-hee but no one has seen her. Also, everyone is too engrossed in their own affairs to notice the mysterious figure lurking in the background.

In another part of school, Seon-joon and Yoon-hee cross paths for the first time since their little spat.

He grabs a hold of her as she tries to walk past him, telling her that they need to talk. Because she isn’t done with being an emo teen, she plays dumb and apologizes for being rude to him, promising to return him the money in due course.

Seon-joon: This isn’t what I’m talking about.

Yoon-hee: Er, how about thank you for all your help so far? *Sigh* Yoon-hee, whatever happened to the big girl panties you had on in Episode 6? Could you please go find them? This is getting very tedious.

Their awkward moment is interrupted by In-soo, who has come to torment his soon-to-be brother-in-law. Seon-joon tries to backpedal his way out of his sticky situation but In-soo is not going to let him get away so easily. What does he mean it’s all a misunderstanding? Doesn’t he know his own father? Even the King can’t do anything once the Left Prime Minister has made up his mind.

Meanwhile, Jae-shin finally finds Yoon-hee but because he hasn’t yet gotten used to the fact she’s a girl, he’s having a bit of trouble spitting out what he wants to say.

Moon Jae-shin: Fearless in the face of danger, a mouse when it comes to girls

Well, pull yourself together, Jae-shin because there are more important things to deal with at the moment—like who’s stolen the students’ valuables and meds from the school?

We cut to find Yong-ha tut-tutting the burglar’s lack of fashion sense. If he was going to steal his clothes, he should have taken matching sets out of outfits, at least! (Oh, Yong-ha. Not everyone has so much time in the world to care about things like colour coordination!) And then it occurs to him—his new toy! Alas, it is gone. But the culprit isn’t getting away that easily, not if he has anything to say about it!

The many (okay, three) faces of Gu Yong-ha

The professors go around asking the students to verify their whereabouts during the time of the burglary. Yoon-hee, who was alone angsting at the time, doesn’t have anyone to be her alibi and things take a turn for the worse when her ID tag is found at the marketplace.

Oh no!

Seizing his chance, In-soo immediately lays it into her, telling her that she should be ashamed of herself since the medicine comes from the state clinic (i.e. they’re paid for with taxpayers’ money.)

In an attempt to help her, Seon-joon reasons that she probably took the medicine for her brother. However, Yoon-hee refuses, for obvious reasons, to let them check her house, which only makes suspicion grow on her even more.

Very well, since that’s the case, In-soo proposes that she be tried by the Student Council. He assures the professors that they will punish her severely when she is found guilty to uphold Sungkyunkwan’s reputation. In In-soo’s world you are guilty until you are proven guilty.

Put a lid on that un-righteous fury for a second, In-soo, because the King is here to mess with your plans. He tells the students that their task for the exam is to find the real culprit. If Yoon-hee is really guilty as charged, she will be expelled. If not, her accusers are not fit to study in Sungkyunkwan either.

In-soo find out that his death glare doesn't really work on the King

He then tells them that they have his permission to investigate this case as Han Sung Bu (think of it as the Joseon equivalent of the CID) interns.

In-soo throws out a few more disparaging remarks before leaving and then Yoon-hee finds herself starring in every teen girl’s fantasy: having two hot guys (almost) come to blows over her.

Seon-joon wants to know why she refused to let them check her house. It would have been the easiest way to prove her innocence. Jae-shin, of course, knows her reason for doing so. It might have been the easiest way, but it would also have blown her cover. He insists that she is innocent. Can’t he see that she was set up?

Those are just pretty words, counters Seon-joon. It doesn’t change the fact that everyone thinks she’s guilty. What they need is hard evidence. Jae-shin is just about ready to punch him into next Sunday for being such a Noron nerd—is failing the King’s examination all that he has on his mind?

Aw hell, Yong-ha, and I was just about to go get the popcorn...

Fortunately for Yoochun’s JYJ tour ambitions (and date with David Letterman), Yong-ha stops him. There’s nothing more amusing than seeing a fight take place, he tells them, but since they’re the only ones who believe Yoon-hee is innocent, why don’t they try and get along?

Everybody leaves and Jae-shin storms off to have a little chat with In-soo: Was this the reason he gave her the medicine the day before? Because he had planned to set her up from the very start?

In-soo proceeds to insult Yoon-hee again, telling him that the poor are always going to bite the hand that shows them kindness because that’s just the way they are. Again, Jae-shin raises his fist, only for In-soo to go all Clint Eastwood on him: Go ahead, make his day. Jae-shin will end up in detention and by the time he’s released, Yoon-hee will be gone.

Over in the library, we see that our two idiots are still having their cold war. Hellbent on convincing herself that Seon-joon thinks she’s guilty, Yoon-hee tells him he needn’t bother helping if he’s just feeling sorry for her.

An exasperated Seon-joon tells her that he’s never questioned her innocence at all. If she’s going to get all defensive over being asked a few questions, how is she going to survive the grilling from In-soo and the King? If she wants to prove her innocence at the council, she had better start preparing herself because even if she goes to Han Sung Bu, no one is going to believe that she’s innocent.

Thank you for not mincing your words, Seon-joon. It’s high time someone drummed some sense into Yoon-hee because her angst is about to grow legs and walk away.

Meanwhile, we find out that the King’s test is a means to a greater end—crime has been on the rise in the Merchant District, and the King suspects that there’s a greater power (i.e. the Norons) behind this. By catching the burglar, they’ll be able to find out who the real culprit is. The person who’s able to accomplish this will be given the task of finding the Geum Deung Ji Sa.

It’s the next day and Centre Room Two-gumi are on their way to Han Sung Bu. They are met by Yong-ha who is, as usual, dressed in an outfit that can be seen from a thousand miles away.

Keeping a low-profile is not part of Detective Gu's modus operandi

He scoffs at their uniforms: no wonder Joseon is in the dumps. How can the officials come up with any good policies if they’re forced to wear the same boring uniforms? Well, good luck at Han Sung Bu. He’s off to do some sleuthing of his own so he can get his toy back. We find out from Jae-shin that he was raised in the Merchant District. If there’s anyone who can weasel information out of the merchants, it’s Yong-ha.

Yoon-hee soon spots a young boy in the marketplace wearing Woo Tak’s quartz strap.

Chaos breaks out when a woman realizes that he’s filched one of her apples and the guards in the marketplace give chase. Oh no, they’re running straight into Yoon-hee! Guys, what to do? Seon-joon is all ready to shield her with his body but Jae-shin is just that one split second faster. Wanna guess who’s got the hiccups and who’s stewing in conflicted emotions?

Jae-shin, the crisis is over. You can let go of her now...Jae-shin? Hello?

Well, you can deal with your hormones later, boys. Who wants to run after our lead suspect and help Yoon-hee clear her name? In what is clearly an excuse to dump that hideous outfit, Jae-shin volunteers himself for the job and sprints off, leaving our two idiots to steep in their awkwardness.

Time to strip the innocence off our little lambs’ eyes. Yoon-hee and Seon-joon are given a rude introduction to how things work in Han Sung Bu.

The officials are not in the least interested in helping them with their case (mainly because In-soo has already bribed them) and spend their time sleeping and gambling in between mocking them.

Yong-ha, on the other hand, is having much better luck. His contacts lead him to a ragtag bunch of street kids who point him to a black market merchant.

In a fight, who do you think would win?

Bingo! He’s found his Forbidden Palace and by the looks of it, Jae-shin as well. Is this Fate or what? Jae-shin, however, doesn’t share Yong-ha’s enthusiasm and punches him in frustration for letting the suspect get away. Ha ha.

Fret not, old friend. Yong-ha assures him there’s still hope, pointing to the stall where his toy is on display. But not for long because the palace guards soon come and tear the whole market apart, arresting the illegal stallholders.

It’s a crash course on how the law really works for our four heroes, who can only stand by and watch as the illegal merchants are beaten and hauled away by the guards. The chief official tells them that this is the law—only authorised merchants are allowed to sell goods in the city—and it is their job to uphold it.

The King, along with Professor Jung and his followers, has arrived on the scene incognito. Turns out that this was what he wanted to expose the students to—the corruption in Joseon. He wants them to feel anger at their helplessness so that it will spur them on to become better officials.

Meanwhile, the Minister of War and his son are having a meeting with Merchant Song, the leader of the merchants.

He gripes that the King has been making a nuisance of himself by promising to establish a free market so that everyone, not just the merchants, can do business. Since they have always supported the Norons, he asks the minister to assure them that none of this free market nonsense will come to pass at the banquet they’re having later that night.

Over in another part of town, Yoon-hee is drowning her frustrations in alcohol. The merchants should be the ones being punished for driving prices up and forcing people to steal to survive. Yong-ha tells them the reason why the royal guards turn a blind eye to the merchants is because the latter are the ones who pay their salaries. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Also, the money that the merchants earn goes straight to the Norons’ political chest.

Speaking of royal guards, look who just trooped in! A mischievous grin breaks out on our heroes’ faces (well, except for Seon-joon who is having misgivings about this whole operation.)

And finally, we are back to the Sungkyunkwan Scandal that I know and love.


They tie the guards up and Seon-joon tries his hand at being naughty:

Ethics? Um, well, it’s a start at least.

As they make their getaway, they are spotted by Cho-sun’s girls and the legend of the Jalgeum Quartet is born as everyone swoons over Joseon’s first idol group.

Note: The guy on Seon-joon's right is a disgruntled Idol reject who insisted on being in the picture. Sorry.

Ever the entrepreneur, the bookseller comes up with an idea for a bestseller: The Jalgeum Quartet’s Secret Outing. Ha!

Fun’s over. Now it’s time to think of a plan. Their task is to infiltrate the home of Merchant Song, which is where all the confiscated goods are being stored. They’ll be re-sold to the citizens at a higher price later. What they need to do is retrieve the accounts book, which holds a record of all the transactions between the thieves and merchants. Find the book and they’ll be able to clear Yoon-hee’s name.

Naturally everyone wants to play hero. Yoon-hee insists she should go because it’s her name that they’re trying to clear; Seon-joon tells her it’s too dangerous and offers to go instead; Jae-shin tells them both to shut it. He’ll take care of things. Yong-ha plays the peacemaker: Fine, fine. They’ll all hold hands and go as one big happy idol group. Never mind that they’ll all be killed if they get caught because what the heck, solidarity in numbers, right?

They agree on a time to meet, only for Yoon-hee and Jae-shin to find out that they’ve been had. Yong-ha and Seon-joon have already gone on ahead, the latter reasoning that Yoon-hee is too slow and Jae-shin too hot-tempered—it’s better if they stay behind. Well, you’re going to have to do better than leave them a note because they’re not going to listen to a piece of paper.

Speaking of which, OMG Seon-joon, haven’t you heard of a disguise? You might as well paint a bullseye on your robe because guess what? You’ve been spotted.

Seon-joon, just because In-soo is going loopy doesn't mean he's blind

Smelling a rat, In-soo confronts Yong-ha, asking him why he’s at the banquet when it’s meant only for the marketplace merchants. The latter responds that well, he likes women, he likes to drink and his father is the merchants’ landlord. What’s In-soo’s excuse? Oh right, the Norons and merchants are practically family!

Not convinced that Yong-ha is alone, In-soo asks his father to call in the royal guards. It’s time to teach their future son-in-law a lesson.

Meanwhile, Jae-shin is trying his best to convince Yoon-hee to stay put. To his credit, he’s not having any hiccups at all.

However, they overhear a troop of guards talking about a crazy idiot who’s broken into the merchant leader’s warehouse, which can only mean one thing—time for Plan B. Jae-shin tells her to go warn the others while he holds the guards off.

However Merchant Song’s house is harder to get into than Cliff Richard’s underpants. And then she sees Cho-sun’s girls walking toward her and the bouncers…

It’s another race against time for all involved. Seon-joon has found the accounts book but is still in the warehouse, the royal guards have arrived at the merchant’s house, and Merchant Song is telling Minister Ha that the burglar has to be apprehended without fail. If he makes off with the books, it’s not the merchants who will be in trouble but the ministers, since the books contain records of all their transactions.

Obviously, Seon-joon didn’t hear Yong-ha telling them that they will DIE if they get caught because he’s still taking his time to read the accounts book. This is not the guy you want to be partners with on Amazing Race: Joseon.

He hears the doors to the warehouse opening and grabs a candlestick (really, Seon-joon?), only to be stunned into silence:

And then she runs towards him and does what Yoochun’s fangirls can only dream about, causing his brain to short-circuit.


Okay, it looks like I was wrong about Yong-ha’s father. I wonder if Gu Sr will be making an appearance soon.

And did anyone notice the belts on the Han Sung Bu uniforms? Really? Is that how they’re supposed to be worn? Seon-joon looks like he has a beer belly. No wonder Yong-ha didn’t want to wear it.


  1. J’adore! Too many funny inserts in your recap, I was really lmao, esp at Micky Mouse Jae Shin, beer belly Soonjeon, the Idol reject in the picture, the angst of the lovers- to- be, the popcorn moment that didnt happen and Yeorim’s gaudy costume plus what every Yoochun fangirl can only dream of! and yes, Cliff Richard, is he still alive? My grandma was crazy about this dude! I’ve been reading any and every recap I can get hold of because I’m a Sungkyunkwan Scandal junkie and I need my fix, but your recaps are the best! Houston, I’m gonna have a major problem, when this drama ends! Bisoux!

    1. Merci, merci! Er, according to the Scotsman, Sir Cliff is still charming the octogenarians in Derbyshire, so it looks like your grandma’s in luck!

      On another note, now that I look at the picture again, Seon-joon looks like he’s three months pregnant in that uniform.

      I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when SS ends either. I sense some major withdrawal syndromes coming on.

  2. OMG…you’re absolutely hilarious! I enjoyed every moment you made fun of the characters (or made bulls-eye comments or wrote whatever that little voice in you tells you to).

    And yes, those uniforms are for real. So is the belt! They’re influence from the Han Dynasty of early China. Neeways, those uniforms are meant for old men whom sit around all day pawning money, not boys (or girls pretending to be boys) whom gallivant around every inch of joseon reading philosophical trash and wondering if they’re bending the wrong way.

    The Cassies and Yoon Hee can have Seon Joon. Jae Shin is mine~~♥ XD

    1. Thanks for clearing up the bit about the belts, Niki!

      Well, I wrote these recaps for fun and I’m glad that you guys are enjoying them as well.

      You know, if I were just reading the character descriptions on paper, I’d have thought that Jae-shin would be my favourite character. I love all the guys but I have a very special place in my heart for Seon-joon. He’s so adorably hopeless and so fun to tease.

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