Hurrah! The masked avenger lives to see another day. However, because life in Sungkyunkwan is rarely boring, our fair heroes soon find themselves embroiled in a sex scandal. In other words, business as usual.
Picking up from the previous episode, Yoon-hee pulls herself together and somehow manages to drag Jae-shin’s bleeding ass to Hyangkwanchung without arousing any suspicions. She returns to cover up her tracks but unbeknown to her, is spotted by Seon-joon.
Hyangkwanchung. Jae-shin and Yoon-hee share a moment as they bond over his near-death experience. Being the macho fool that he is, he tells her to leave. Don’t *gasp* worry about him, he’ll *choke* survive. This isn’t the first time *splutter* something like this has happened to him *croak*. She calls him out on his stupidity. How can he expect her to leave when he’s practically bleeding to death? Some Hong Byuk Seo he is.
As she tends to him, neither of them sees Seon-joon standing behind them.
Considering what Yong-ha normally gets up to when he’s around Jae-shin, this is practically G-rated in comparison. However because Seon-joon is viewing everything through angst-tinted lenses, the scene before him takes on added dramatic significance. Two men together this late at night…and in Hyangkwanchung of all places! What else could they be doing if not humping the hell out of each other? *sigh* Seon-joon, they’re not even in the correct position.
Traumatised, he leaves, only to come across the three stooges, who are on their way to Hyangkwanchung to score some divine assistance from the virgin ghost for their upcoming examination.
But turns out they’re not the only ones. In-soo and his groupies, who are hot on the trail of the wounded Hong Byuk Seo, are also headed to party central.
Hyangkwanchung. Despite Yoon-hee’s best intentions, she’s not exactly doctor material. Fortunately for Jae-shin, Yong-ha is three steps ahead of everyone and has already arranged for a doctor to arrive on the scene. Blindfolded of course because knowing his friend’s rotten luck, this situation isn’t going to resolve itself prettily.
Sure enough, the good doctor runs into In-soo and his groupies just as he is leaving the Memorial Building. He tells them that though he couldn’t see the man’s face, he knows for sure that he has a wound on the left side of his stomach.
Byung-choon and Go-bong arrive at Hyangkwanchung, only to find Yong-ha’s fan, which puzzles the former. Yeorim couldn’t possibly be the masked avenger—getting sweaty is just not his style. However Go-bong, showing a rare flash of imagination, thinks this could actually be part of his disguise—you know, bored playboy by day, masked vigilante by night. Something like Joseon’s very own Bruce Wayne.
What better way to put their doubts to rest than with a visit to said suspect’s room?
However, it turns out that the fan is just a red herring and part of Yong-ha’s elaborate plan to trick In-soo. How could he possibly be the Hong Byuk Seo? Smirking, Yong-ha tells him that in his haste to get himself re-instated, his sense of logic has gone to the dogs. This does not sit well with In-soo but he tells him he’ll let it slide on account of their past friendship/history. Insult him again and Yong-ha won’t get off so easily the next time.
Next stop for In-soo: Centre Room Two. But no one’s there either. It’s all very strange. Where the devil could he be hiding? And then it occurs to In-soo—the screen in Yong-ha’s room. He makes an about turn, only to run into his nemesis, Professor Jung. So, he’s looking for the injured Hong Byuk Seo, is he? Very well, lead the way.
*sigh* In-soo, it pains me to see you looking so pleased with yourself. Seriously, with your track record, you should know better than to get your hopes up. Sure enough, In-soo pushes the screen aside, only to find Yong-ha’s stash of adult novels, much to the delight of the school servants.
As In-soo gets hauled away to receive another dressing down from Professor Jung, Yong-ha breathes a sigh of relief. Looks like Ha Jr won’t be back to bother them anymore. He pulls aside a curtain to reveal Yoon-hee and Jae-shin hiding behind a secret door. Time for everyone to come out of the closet.
Yoon-hee asks Yong-ha how he knew this would happen. He’s Gu Yong-ha, answers Jae-shin wryly. The guy’s been following him around like a puppy shadow for the past ten years. Can someone please start writing Brokeback Sungkyunkwan now?
In a move that is to cause much grief and misunderstanding, Yong-ha tells Yoon-hee that she must not, under any circumstances, tell anyone, not even Seon-joon, about this incident. Jae-shin will be as good as dead if word gets out that he is the Hong Byuk Seo.
In-soo’s room. Kang Moo is overjoyed that he finally gets to utter more than two syllables.
As In-soo glowers in impotent rage over being thwarted yet again, Kang Moo advises him not to pursue the matter for the time being lest he gets stripped off his position for real. There will be other opportunities for him to do so in the future. Are you kidding me, Kang Moo? Are you not aware of his miserable run against the Jalgeum Quartet? Current score >> In-soo: 0 Jalgeum Quartet: 542095
Shady secret hideout. The Minister of War tells Cho-sun that she shouldn’t return to Moran-gak until she is properly healed. As he turns to leave, she reminds him not to forget his promise. (Huh? What promise?) Just for once, she’d like to live like a proper human being. Way to leave Cho-sun’s back story till the final few episodes, Show!
Lee Manor. Once again, the Minister of War finds himself squirming before the Left Prime Minister thanks to his latest failure. He explains they would have caught him if not for the sudden appearance of the mysterious men in hats.
But Minister Lee already knows all this. They were sent by the King to protect the masked avenger because he holds the key to the Geum Deung Ji Sa. Minister Ha is puzzled. But wasn’t it destroyed? Summoning up the last reserves of his patience, Minister Lee asks him: why do you think the King despatched Jung Yak Yong to Sungkyunkwan? Why does he visit the university so frequently himself? It’s because the Hong Byuk Seo is a Sungkyunkwan student, you old windbag! He reminds his colleague that they will all be doomed if the Geum Deung Ji Sa is found.
Royal Palace. We find out that the King is dying. His condition has deteriorated to the point that he is now smoking poppy to numb his pain.
Well, what kind of a bastard would deny a dying man his last wish? Professor Jung tells him that he will inform our fair heroes of their Geum Deung Ji Sa mission. However, he has a request: should their flaws, whatever they may be, come to light one day, he would like the King to punish him and not them.
Chez Jalgeum Trio. Seon-joon had his moment with Yoon-hee on Temptation Island so now it’s Jae-shin’s turn to enjoy his invalid status as she fusses over him.
Satisfied that all is well with our resident rebel, she returns to their dorm, where Seon-joon, who has been drinking all night to dull his own pain, lies slumped over his study table (still fully clothed, sadly). Her attempts to break the ice fail miserably and deciding that she’s had enough of seeing him sulk for Joseon, she tells him fine, have it his way. They can just treat each other as ordinary roommates from now on.
She crashes into Soon-dol as she leaves the room and predictably, his announcement that he’s here with Seon-joon’s engagement date sends her mood on a downward spiral faster than you can say, “Jealous much?”
Soon-dol misinterprets this and promptly nags Seon-joon the moment the latter appears, telling him he has to be less critical of other people’s shortcomings. He can’t keep going through his friends as if they were tissue paper. Yoon-hee is the 23rd one he’s sent packing. So what is it this time? What faults does she have?
Unable to wallow in denial any longer, Seon-joon finally owns up to his feelings. It’s not because Yoon-hee is lacking in any way. Rather, it’s because his feelings are overflowing…*sigh* There’s hope for you yet, Seon-joon.
Library. Apparently being in love, no matter how one-sided it is, makes your wounds heal faster. Despite being close to dead the night before, Jae-shin manages to hobble down to the library to look for Yoon-hee (oh please, like he’s there to read.)
Naturally, she starts fussing over him and in an attempt to get her to shut up before the whole school knows that he’s the masked avenger, he pulls her towards him, telling her to shush.
This is witnessed by the three stooges, who have obviously never seen the way Yong-ha plasters himself all over Jae-shin, and they start speculating that the two of them are gay.
So that’s why Seon-joon looked so shell-shocked when they saw him at Hyangkwanchung. The things he must put up with in their room! Oh honey, you don’t know the half of it.
The rumours spiral out of control and soon start resembling something out of a DBSK slash fic. As with everything between the Norons and Sorons, they become yet another excuse for them to punch each other’s lights out, on account of Jae-shin being a member of the latter and all.
In-soo, sensing an opportunity here, plays peacemaker and tells the students that violence is never the solution to anything. They should behave like civilised Confucian scholars and settle the matter agreeably by taking it to the Student Council, for example. Unfortunately, there’s no one to preside over it because he is still serving his suspension…
Being impressionable morons, the scholars take their case to the Chancellor and ask for In-soo’s sentence to be lifted so he can preside over the council.
Naturally, Jae-shin is incensed to find out about the hearing and immediately goes to confront In-soo, falling right into his trap. If these are just stupid rumours, what was he doing in Hyangkwanchung that night? Was doing something naughty — is that why he can’t tell the truth?
Jae-shin’s attempt to connect his fist to In-soo’s face is foiled by the Sorons’ faction leader (who is really cute, btw.) The latter tells him that this matter doesn’t concern just him but every student in the Soron party (i.e. if he’s gay, it puts them in a bad light by association.)
Library. Yoon-hee finds Seon-joon haunting the stacks and tries to assure him that nothing happened between her and Jae-shin at Hyangkwanchung. This whole conversation would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic for Seon-joon, who having finally come to terms with his own feelings and sexuality now finds them being torpedoed as she tries to convince him of her innocence.
Yoon-hee: You can’t possibly believe I’m gay, can you?
Seon-joon: Actually, I’m kind of hoping that you are.
Yoon-hee: But I’m a guy. How can I possibly like Geol Oh sahyung?
Seon-joon: So what you’re saying is that you’ll never fall in love with another man.
Yoon-hee: No! That’s just gross.
Seon-joon: Why, God? Why?
To add to Seon-joon’s roiling inner turmoil, In-soo appears to let him know that he’s being called as a witness because a) he’s their roommate and b) he saw the two of them at Hyangkwanchung that night.
We cut to find In-soo and Yong-ha having tea. Because the former is so predictable, Yong-ha has no problems guessing his motive for appointing Seon-joon as a witness. Since Scholar Lee is such an upright and noble person, his presence will make the trial appear fair and legitimate.
In-soo smirks and tells Yong-ha that it would be a pity if they were to become enemies since they understand each other so well. Needless to say, Yong-ha is far from flattered. *sigh* In-soo, if you want him to be your friend, all you have to do is be nicer to Jae-shin. Seriously, this is just like being in a sandbox with a bunch of five-year olds.
In-soo continues by saying that he doesn’t really care if they are gay or the Hong Byuk Seo. Either way, they’ll end up getting kicked out of Sungkyunkwan. Even better, Seon-joon will want to have nothing to do with them because everyone knows how obsessed he is about doing the right thing. There’s no way he’s going to stand for such disgusting behaviour. Oh honey, you have no idea.
Yong-ha laughs. So he’s planning on getting the three of them with one swoop? Impressive. In-soo tells him he’s forgetting one other person. When this trial is over, Yong ha is not going to have any friends left in Sungkyunkwan.
Over in another part of the university, Jae-shin comes across Seon-joon and remarks off-handedly that he’s worried about her, which ticks the latter off.
If he’s really that worried about her, he shouldn’t have gotten her into this mess and put her reputation in jeopardy in the first place. Amused at his outburst, Jae-shin tells him that he’ll take care of things, which only upsets Seon-joon further. Then do it right so he doesn’t have to get himself involved any further.
Meanwhile, Professor Jung is trying his best to save Yoon-hee’s ass. He knows there’s no way those rumours are true and asks her to tell him the truth so he can help her. Once the Student Council makes its decision, not even the King can do anything about it.
However Yoon-hee stubbornly sticks to the oath of silence she took in Yong-ha’s room. She tells the professor the only thing she can say is that they did nothing wrong. Okay, what I want to know is why Professor Jung doesn’t make the connection that one of them is the Hong Byuk Seo. Come on, how many people can fit this profile? If In-soo can narrow it down to the Jalgeum Quartet, I’m sure the professor, who is a hundred times sharper, can too.
Centre Room Two. Yong-ha is telling Jae-shin that if he confesses to being the masked avenger at the hearing, he’ll kill him with his bare hands. (Btw, I love seeing Yong-ha all angsty and fighty. Isn’t it cute Jae-shin’s the only one who can get him all riled up?)
Jae-shin snorts. It’ll be like watching a mosquito go up against a brick wall. He tells Yong-ha that he’s still thinking of the best course of action, not for himself, as the latter rightly guesses, but for Yoon-hee.
Meanwhile, Seon-joon finds himself in the Chancellor’s office. The latter is trying to persuade him not to take part in the trial since getting implicated in this scandal could ruin his future; for an aristocrat, being accused of homosexuality is akin to being sentenced to death.
However, Seon-joon is determined to see the trial through, much to the Chancellor’s dismay.
As he walks out of his office, he sees Yoon-hee being bullied by the other scholars.
Once again, Seon-joon finds his brain fighting a losing battle with his heart. Unable to help himself, he steps in and shields her from the bullies, silencing them with a look.
Jae-shin sees him leading her away from the other scholars and puts the two together. How awesome is it that he doesn’t get jealous but stays behind to teach those boys a lesson?
Far from curious eyes, Yoon-hee asks Seon-joon to help them at the trial. However, as with Professor Jung, she stubbornly refuses to tell him what happened at Hyangkwanchung. And it doesn’t help either that she keeps telling him it’s for Jae-shin’s sake.
Seon-joon can’t believe what he’s hearing: even now, she’s more concerned about him than herself. Doesn’t she realise she could be spending the rest of her life in disgrace because of this? Unaware of how besotted he is with her, Yoon-hee misinterprets his concern and continues to stab him in the heart, telling him she doesn’t expect him to understand her situation because he is such an upright person, but please could he help her out just one more time?
Just once more? Already emotionally and psychologically drained, he snaps. Because of her, he’s done so many things he would never even have dreamt of doing. “How much more do I have to do? Because of you, how many more stupid and pathetic things do I have to do?” However, even as he walks away, he already knows the answer.
Yoon-hee stares after him, at a loss. She can’t help it. He’s the only person she can think of to ask for help.
Meanwhile, over in town, Yong-ha is doing his bit to help save his friend’s wretched neck. He tries to bribe the students by buying everyone food and all the soju they can drink, and asks them to vote in favour of Jae-shin and Yoon-hee.
However, his plans are foiled by Byung-choon and Go-bong. It’s no use, they tell him. The fact that the Student Council is being called into session shows that they are already guilty. Besides, no one would dream of going against In-soo.
Time for everyone to swoon over Jae-shin again. Yoon-hee sees Seon-joon leaving the university to attend to his engagement and goes into voluntary self-exile in the study hall. Not that this escapes Jae-shin, who’s appointed himself her personal bodyguard and by the look of things, cheerleader.
He tells her she can’t fool him. He knows that she’s got her book open so the other scholars won’t disturb her. Come on, he’ll show her something that’s twenty times better.
Jae-shin practically gives her the key and password to his heart as he brings her to his Tree, smiling like a bashful schoolboy when she tells him that it’s a hundred times better than the book. Why, Drama Gods, do you enjoy toying with him so?
His brother used to tell him that Sungkyunkwan’s doors open to Banchon, the poorest neighbourhood in Joseon, and not the King’s palace. (Underlying meaning: the scholar’s true purpose is to serve these people.) Jae-shin muses that it’s probably because he doesn’t want people to forget his brother that he’s risking his life as the Hong Byuk Seo.
And then he reveals that there’s another reason he brought her here — to apologise for dragging her into this scandal. He assures her that come hell or high water, he will find a way to protect her name. (Why do I get the sinking feeling that you’re planning to play the martyr, Jae-shin?)
Chez Minister of War. Minister Ha is over the moon that he and the Left Prime Minister are going to be in-laws. He offers Seon-joon a piece of advice: to succeed in life, he needs to be more flexible. No good can come out of being so rigidly righteous all the time. If Seon-joon thought he could cast his own personal feelings aside and steel himself for a lifetime of matrimonial indifference, it looks like he is having second thoughts now.
Those thoughts continue to eat at him as he and Hyo-eun take a stroll. As she rambles on about romance novels and stuff, Seon-joon takes on the look of a man who’s just been sentenced to life imprisonment in a labour camp. He moves his arm away as she tries to hold on to it and OMG, I want to shake Hyo-eun till the teeth rattle in her head.
Look, honey. This guy is not interested in you. He is never going to have hot sex with you—not on your wedding night, not EVER. You will end up hating each other if you persist with this deluded fantasy of yours. Please stop this nonsense now and reclaim your self-respect. ARRGGHHH!
Lee Manor. Seon-joon’s haunted expression has not escaped his father’s notice and the latter comments that the fact he’s gone ahead with his engagement despite knowing that his in-laws are difficult people proves that he’s a man. (Are you seriously trying to send your only son to the psychiatric ward? I assure you at the rate he’s going, Seon-joon’s already halfway there.)
He tells his son that though he may dislike Minister Ha and find him greedy and unscrupulous, the man has his uses. For a start, he’s someone who will do anything for him, and that’s not a bad trait to have in a father-in-law.
Seon-joon tells his father that he intends to withdraw from Sungkyunkwan after the engagement ceremony as he feels he’s not ready to take on a government position (which is what he’d have to do after graduating.) But as it is with everything Seon-joon, there’s more to this decision than meets the eye.
The day of the Student Council hearing has arrived and once again, In-soo reminds Yoon-hee and Jae-shin of the consequences if they are found guilty—expulsion, disgrace, blah, blah, blah.
Since they are reluctant to explain what happened that night in Hyangkwanchung, In-soo calls on his trump card.
Seon-joon takes the stand, looking like he’s the one who’s been condemned instead of Yoon-hee and Jae-shin. Micky Yoochun, on the other hand, lays to rest all those accusations that he cannot act.
In-soo asks him to confirm that Yoon-hee and Jae-shin are gay. However, nothing can prepare him for Seon-joon’s answer: “The homosexual…is me.”
In-soo cannot believe his ears. What?!
Seon-joon repeats his answer: “I am the homosexual.”
In-soo: 0 Jalgeum Quartet: 542096
After watching this episode again, I am convinced that In-soo has the shittiest role in the show. Consider this if you please: 1) The woman he loves hates his guts 2) he is surrounded by morons 3) his schemes fail before they can even take off 4) the person he (vaguely) considers a friend has defected and now mocks him all the time. Good God, In-soo. Either hold a recruitment drive to replace all the people in your little gang or rethink your ambition to be a full-time villain because I can’t watch you fail anymore. It’s too painful.
On an entirely different note, I think this episode, if anything, shows that Seon-joon has the potential to be an equally effective second lead. I thought that the scene he had with JS was an interesting one because not only did it show the difference in their approach to caring for the people they love, but it also had Seon-joon taking a step back and observing things from the background.