This episode is all about fan service. Locking your OTP up in the same room? Check. Putting them in various suggestive situations? Check. Having two hot guys clash butts over a girl? Check. Forget about the plot. It’ll be back in the next episode.
Byung-choon and Go Bong are learning the hard way that messing with Yoon-hee is never a good idea, especially not when Jae-shin has appointed himself her personal bodyguard and is holding a big stick.
Over at the Creek of Overflowing Feelings, Yoon-hee has finally regained consciousness. Seon-joon, on the other hand, looks like his brain has been fried.
It doesn’t take her long to realize that her secret is out and to add to her problems, Three Stooges & Co show up. Shit! Whattodowhattodowhattodo?
Fortunately, Seon-joon manages to pull himself together and leads her to a nearby boulder to avoid being seen. My God, you could hack at the sexual tension with an axe and not make any headway. It’s essentially a mirror of the first episode except now a) he knows she’s a girl, b) she knows he knows she’s a girl and c) she’s wet and her robe is undone.
The students eventually decide to take their drunken selves somewhere else. Yoon-hee gets her clothes in order, after which she awkwardly tells Seon-joon that she’ll, uh, make a move first. Seriously honey, even if he wasn’t in love with you, do you think he’d just let you walk away without so much as an explanation? Sure enough, Seon-joon tells her she’s not going anywhere, not after having put him through so much anguish.
Meanwhile, satisfied that Byung-choon and Go Bong won’t be causing any more trouble, Jae-shin goes looking for Yoon-hee. Needless to say she’s nowhere to be found and he rushes back to the campsite in a panic, only to learn from Yong-ha that she is with Seon-joon. And right then, he knows he is out of the picture for good and whatever remaining hope he has promptly dies.
Because Yong-ha is a perverse little bugger, he tells Jae-shin if he is so worried about her, he can go check on them. Like hell he’ll do that. Jae-shin tries to mask his hurt with indifference but his expression as he walks away says everything.
Jukjeong. Yoon-hee has changed into one of Seon-joon’s robes and I guarantee you he is never going to wash it. It’s going to go into his secret treasure chest along with his other Kim Yoon-hee collectibles.
Ever the gentleman, Seon-joon tells her he’s going to sleep outside so she doesn’t have to worry about having her virtue compromised. If this were Novel Yoon-hee, she’d have told him to hell with her modesty and we’d all be staring at our screens slack-jawed.
Thank goodness we still have Soon-dol. Throwing open the door, he tells Yoon-hee that she has to convince his young master to return to Sungkyunkwan otherwise he’ll go nuts if he continues staying in his room. And then Seon-joon pretty much wishes the ground would open up and swallow his manservant whole as the latter proceeds to fill an embarrassed Yoon-hee in on every single detail of his recent illness.
Note: Soon-dol is not someone you should trust with your deepest and darkest secrets.
Because he isn’t In-soo, Seon-joon has to resist the urge to clobber him over the head and bury his body in the woods. Instead, he tries to gather whatever is left of his dignity and tells Soon-dol very firmly and politely to STFU.
Too bad no one told Seon-joon that this episode is all about fan service. Soon-dol blithely locks them in the room and reminds Yoon-hee that she has to convince his master to return to the university, causing Seon-joon to panic. There’s only one blanket in the room. Soon-dol’s response? Just deal with it. It’s not like they need to keep their distance from each other.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Seon-joon looks like he wants to crawl into a hole and die. Honey, if you’re really serious about not sleeping in the same room as her, just break down the door. After all, it’s only made of wood and paper.
Wolchol Mountain. As the rest of the scholars gather around a campfire, Jae-shin quietly nurses his broken heart. What are the chances he’s rueing his decision to come on this stupid trip, which is getting suckier and suckier by the minute?
Just when things couldn’t possibly get any worse, Yong-ha bounces over and starts annoying the hell out of him. Why so glum? It’s because his heart is with Yoon-hee, isn’t it? OMG, Yong-ha. Can’t a guy brood in peace? Jae-shin warns him to stop it, telling him that he may just find himself with a broken wrist if he continues assuming things.
Ha! Like that’s going to stop him. Yong-ha tells Jae-shin to drop his cool, macho act. If he really likes Yoon-hee all that much, then just do something about it already! Why waste so much energy pretending that he’s not jealous? Now’s the time to act since he still has the advantage over Seon-joon. Yong-ha, love you as I do, that is the most colossal load of balls. You know what the score is between those two. What do you mean he still has the advantage over Seon-joon?
Clearly being friends with Yong-ha for ten years has made Jae-shin immune to his BS, and knowing better than to get his hopes up, he goes off to be alone with his own thoughts. Poor baby.
Jukjeong. Yoon-hee is doubtless wondering if she heard Soon-dol correctly because not only are they fully awake, they’re also fully clothed and nowhere close to being horizontal with each other. Unbeknown to her, Seon-joon is resorting to his tried-and-tested solution for all of life’s thorny problems. When stuck in the same room with a girl you’re crazy about, crack open your book and study. Do not rip off each other’s clothes. Do not make out till you both pass out from the lack of oxygen.
Seon-joon, you twit. You did not just put me through five episodes of angst to act all coy now. Aren’t you going to hold her hand and whisper mushy things in her ear?
Aren’t you going to serenade her with ‘My Girlfriend’?
Trying to play it cool, Seon-joon tells her to go to sleep first because he hasn’t finished the day’s reading assignment. Of course not, honey. You’ve been too busy spazzing your time away.
Since that’s the case, Yoon-hee tells him she’ll do the same and heads to his bookshelf. We finally find out what’s really occupying Seon-joon’s mind as he asks her what she had wanted to say to him before she fell into the river.
Maybe she should tell him now before she forgets. *facepalm* If Yong-ha were here, he’d be snerking so hard only the dogs could hear him.
Yoon-hee is not paying any attention to him because she has found his Red Book of Porn. So this is what he has been reading so diligently the past few days.
Seon-joon panics. Oh, crap. Honey, this isn’t what it looks like. That book belongs to Yong-ha sahyung. I have no idea how it got here!
They get into a tussle as he tries to grab it from Yoon-hee. The planets align again and they fall onto the mattress with him landing on top of her.
With her pinned underneath, he asks, “Who do you think I got it for?” Well said, son. Please put the book to good use before this episode is over.
However, because Seon-joon’s self-control is insane, they end up sleeping like this:
Seeing him curled up on the floor, Yoon-hee covers him with her blanket. However this won’t do for cro-magnon Seon-joon, who tells her to take it back: “Me, man. You, woman. Puny woman fall into water. Catch cold.” Yoon-hee tells him to shut it. Who was the one who got a fever after getting damp on Chestnut Island?
Besides, growing up poor has taught her to be resourceful. She rolls herself up in her mattress, bringing a smile to his face. And then they have their first real conversation of the night and he finds out that she’s been disguising herself as a man since she was twelve to help pay for her brother’s medicine. She started by copying medical records for his doctor, who later found her work at the bookseller’s shop. It is here that he finds out her real name: Kim Yoon-hee.
Chez Minister of War. In-soo is trying to find out the truth about his sister’s failed engagement. However Hyo-eun, knowing how much he dislikes her erstwhile fiancé, refuses to tell him anything. Could he please forget this ever happened? Seon-joon’s such a good and proper man…
In-soo’s blood pressure spikes. Dammit, stop telling him that Seon-joon is a paragon of virtue. Was Mr Goody Goody being respectful when he asked her to break off the engagement? Hell no! Hyo-eun tries to exercise some damage control. This whole affair has nothing to do with Seon-joon, she insists. She’s the one who isn’t good enough for him. But In-soo isn’t interesting in listening anymore and stomps out of the room to scheme anew.
Jukjeong. Most newly minted couples would wake up to a brand new day exchanging ILYs. Yoon-hee and Seon-joon aren’t most couples.
Actually, I’m sure Yoon-hee is all for this but Seon-joon isn’t exactly a genius in the romance department (not yet anyway) and proceeds to initiate a fight by telling her that she has to leave Sungkyunkwan because it is—wait for it—against the law for a woman to study there.
Way to upset your girlfriend on Day 2 of your relationship, Seon-joon! Her hackles raised, Yoon-hee asks: Who’s the one who had her dreaming the impossible and believing miracles could happen in the first place? Is he changing his tune now that he knows she’s a woman? It’s not as if she asked to be born one. Seon-joon sighs in frustration as she leaves him once again.
Catching up with her, he tells her he’s worried for her. If she gets found out, her life will be in danger. Yoon-hee reminds him that even if she were to leave Sungkyunkwan, she’d have to continue disguising herself as a man to support her family. The only other option is for her to marry so she can ease the burden on them. Since what she has right now will never come to pass again, she might as well make the best of it and experience as much as she can.
Wolchul Mountain. Yoon-hee returns to the campsite to face an angsty Jae-shin and apologises for ditching him the previous night. Things…just turned out the way they did. Not in the mood to talk, he turns to leave but Yoon-hee calls out to him again. Without turning round, he chides her for being so thoughtless and tells her to spare a thought for those who are worried about her as well.
Even Yong-ha knows better than to mess with his friend now and he wisely gives him the space he needs, staying behind with Yoon-hee. So, did she meet up with Seon-joon? Yoon-hee is surprised. How did he know? *sigh* Don’t you know the answer to that by now, Yoon-hee? He’s Gu Yong-ha. He knows everything.
On their way back to Sungkyunkwan, the scholars find Cho-sun waiting for Yoon-hee. There’s something she wants to tell her. Yong-ha and Jae-shin leave to give them their privacy but just as he is walking past Cho-sun, the latter stops in his tracks. That scent…
He asks Yong-ha if the perfume she is wearing is a common one. Nope, turns out that it is no ordinary fragrance. It’s so strong and distinctive that only someone with Cho-sun’s kind of swag can carry it off.
Moran-gak. Yoon-hee finds out that Cho-sun has decided to remove her name from the gisaeng registry so that she can be with her. Putting her heart on the line, the latter tells Yoon-hee that she’s the first man to treat her with respect and that being with her would allow her a chance to live a life worthy of respect. She knows that Yoon-hee doesn’t love her but will she at least allow her to wait for the day she can return her affections?
Oh dear. Thankfully, unlike a certain minister’s son, Yoon-hee has a pretty good sense of tact and trying to let her down as gently as possible, she tells Cho-sun not to squander her time and feelings on someone so unworthy. It’s basically a variation of the “It’s-not-you-it’s-me” excuse but phrased really gracefully (guys, please observe and learn.) Ever so poised, Cho-sun smiles sadly. How is she supposed to let her go when she treats her so kindly?
Meanwhile, standing outside Moran-gak… Ever since he made the connection that Cho-sun is the fake Hong Byuk Seon, Jae-shin’s been waiting around for Yoon-hee (as if he could stay mad at her forever. Ha!) Upon seeing her, he all but orders her to stay away from the gisaeng. Of course, Yoon-hee doesn’t know why he’s so hard on Cho-sun and defends her, telling him that she’s a good person. Poor frustrated Geol-oh snaps, “It’s not right for a young scholar to spend all his time at a gibang, dammit!” (Oh ho, I’d like to know what Yong-ha has to say about this. Then again, Jae-shin would probably say that his friend is a lost cause.)
Glad to see that he isn’t giving her the cold shoulder any longer, Yoon-hee tells him not to worry. She’s Daemul after all. Jae-shin, bless his tender, hurting heart, replies, “That’s why…it’s because it’s you that I worry.”
We soon find out that it’s time for the Hwang Gam Je (another major examination) and the prize for the top student is a basket of royal tangerines from Tamra Island.
Royal Palace. Finding out about your son from other people, especially in front of the person you’re trying to outmanoeuvre, is never a good look. And this is exactly what happens to Minister Lee, who learns that Seon-joon has returned to Sungkyunkwan without informing him. Cue awkward silence as the King looks at him expectantly. Forced to fib, the Left Prime Minister says that it was all part of his plan; Seon-joon was doing nothing but studying (er…isn’t this what he usually does, anyway?) so he told him to return to Sungkyunkwan to be closer to the capital. Ah…the joys of parenting a teenager. Well, be grateful that the stereo hasn’t been invented yet, your Excellency, otherwise you’d have to listen to emo-rock on loop 24/7.
Library. Yoon-hee sees the announcement about Hwang Gam Je and goes to ask the only other student in the building what it’s about. Gee, I wonder who it could be?
Seon-joon tells her there’s no need for her to prepare for the Hwang Gam Je because he’s going to help her leave Sungkyunkwan before anyone finds out that she’s a woman. Darling, I hate to break it to you but you’re about 16 episodes too late.
Yoon-hee looks at him incredulously. So he came back just to kick her out?
Jealous Cro-Magnon Seon-joon is so lacking in lady skills that it is hilarious. She didn’t think he’d let her stay in a place that’s infested with men, did she? She’s his woman. Of course it’s his duty to protect her! What other right does he need?
Trust Yoon-hee to come up with a better idea. How about helping her finish her education in Sungkyunkwan instead? She’ll show him how much she deserves to be here by placing first in the Hwang Kam Je.
Her? First in the Hwang Kam Je? Seon-joon politely tells her to dream on because to accomplish this she’ll have to beat him. He tells her that since he started school, he has never been ranked anything but first. Well, I suppose that’s why you’re lagging behind in the EQ and social skills department?
Yoon-hee’s all, “Whatever. So if I place first, you’ll stop asking me to leave?”
Extremely turned on by this intellectual battle of wills—and with the woman he loves, no less!—Seon-joon agrees.
Seon-joon’s formula for happiness
Books + Intense studying + Yoon-hee + Friggin’ difficult exam = Orgasmic bliss
Unlike Yoon-hee, the rest of the scholars, particularly Woo Tak, aren’t all that thrilled to learn that Seon-joon is back. So much for thinking they could come in first in the exam. Not that Scholar Lee gives a hoot. He goes to look for his seniors and finds Yong-ha playing with Jae-shin’s hair. Why are we not surprised?
Oh ho, smirks Yong-ha. Was Yoon-hee really that effective in convincing him to return? Seon-joon clears his throat awkwardly.
Hang on, Jae-shin has something to say too! In his customary brusque manner, he gruffs out, “Oi, Noron. Quit coming and going. It disorients me.”
Er…can someone translate that into plain Korean, please? Yong-ha, who is totally fluent in Geol Oh, tells Seon-joon that this is the first time in ten years that Jae-shin’s welcomed anyone back. Altogether now: Aww…
Centre Room Two. Now that Seon-joon knows Yoon-hee is a girl, there’s no way in hell he’s letting Jae-shin sleep in the middle. He snags said spot, earning a wtf look from Jae-shin. Is he crazy? Does he not know who he is dealing with?
But love has made Seon-joon bold and he throws Jae-shin’s words Right. Back. In. His. Face, “There’s no such thing as your spot or my spot. Wherever one lies down, that is that person’s spot.”
Nothing can adequately describe the squee-worthy insanity of what happens next. Please relive the moment below:
Library. Oh look, our lovebirds are having their first study date studying for the Hwang Kam Je! As usual, Yoon-hee’s lips immediately wreck havoc on his concentration and the close proximity of her feet doesn’t help things either.
Seon-joon, instead of erecting a tower of books and changing seats, I have a better solution for you: just get it out of your system and make out in the stacks already!
Even though she knows he likes her, Yoon-hee is all too aware of their difference in status and his engagement to Hyo-eun continues to weigh on her mind. No doubt he’ll be marrying Minister Ha’s daughter after he completes the civil service examination? Seon-joon reveals that they’re no longer engaged and that he has no intention of living a lie ever again.
Meanwhile, Hyo-eun has sought Yong-ha out for some much needed advice. How can she change Seon-joon’s feelings about her? She’ll do anything. She’ll jump through hoops, walk through fire…just say the word and she’ll do it.
So she wants to be a woman that Lee Seon-joon likes. Very well, first, quit meeting male strangers. Second, have broader reading interests i.e. no more trashy romance novels. Third, stop picking on people smaller and weaker than her. If she’s still unable to win his heart after doing all these things, she should just move on.
OMG, thank you, Yong-ha! Je t’adore! <3
He continues that she should just accept that there’s no happy ending for her in this particular love story. Not only will she feel better but she won’t need him to give her such brutal advice anymore.
Upset, Hyo-eun asks him why he is being such a jerk to her. He replies that it’s about time someone told the princess the truth.
Over in another part of town, we see Cho-sun and her girls shopping for accessories. However, it soon becomes obvious that someone is following her. No prizes for guessing who it is.
She manages to give Jae-shin the slip and as he wanders around the alleyways, thinking he’s lost her, he gets a note telling him to meet her at Gwangtong Bridge.
However, before he can rush off on another suicide mission, he is accosted by some imperial guards. Looks like Daddy Moon wants to have a word with him.
Jae-shin tries to butter his father up by pouring him wine but the latter sees through his bluff and tells him to quit playing Hong Byuk Seo. His two devious colleagues have been trying to lure him out with the fake messenger and until the imposter is caught, he’s the one who’ll have to shoulder all the blame for the crimes committed in his name.
Jae-shin replies that he’ll do it on one condition—that the minister tells the King the Norons killed brother while he was delivering the Geum Deung Ji Sa.
Centre Room Two. Since Jae-shin is planning his next move at home, it means our two idiots have the whole room to themselves. Instead of jumping each other, they build a barricade.
Forget Twilight. You want abstinence? Watch Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Seon-joon tells Yoon-hee not to cross over the line, to which she replies that she wouldn’t do it even if he were to beg her. What is wrong with the both of you?!
Their conversation turns to Jae-shin and they both wonder why he isn’t back yet, which prompts another of Seon-joon’s “this is why you should leave Sungkyunkwan” spiel. Yoon-hee tells him he can nag all he wants because this is the last time he’ll be able to do it. She’s going to beat him at Hwang Gam Je and shut him up for good tomorrow.
As they settle in for the night, Seon-joon tries once again to find out what she wanted to say at the creek but is so FAIL about it. He tells her it’s not like he’s dying to know but since he’s a scholar, he has a duty to find out the truth. Not curious, huh? Yoon-hee decides to let him sweat a bit longer and pretends to be asleep. *sigh* You’re hopeless, Seon-joon, but I love you anyway.
And so it’s the day of the Hwang Gam Je. Yoon-hee and Seon-joon sweep everything before them while everyone else asks, “Why are we even bothering?”
Soon it comes down to the final round of the examination. The question: What is the attitude that government officials should adopt towards their people? Yoon-hee and Seon-joon’s task is to answer the question using the Chinese characters they’ve been given. The catch is they have to answer it in reference to a particular passage in The Book of Rites.
Only problem is Yoon-hee can’t remember the passage in question. However she gives it a shot anyway. In the end, their answers, which reflect the differences in their personal opinions, turn out to be quite similar.
Seon-joon’s answer is Xin Min (new people). Yoon-hee’s is Qin Min (close to the people). His rationale is that the nobles have a duty to set an example for the public to follow. Yoon-hee, on the other hand, believes that a wise official should be sensitive to public sentiment.
Jae-shin, who is waiting together with Yong-ha in the courtyard, learns of their answers courtesy of the latter’s little helper (i.e. Bock Dong). Well, that settles it. He knows who’s nailed that basket of tangerines. Before they can leave, In-soo, who’s been very quiet in this episode, pops up with his posse to talk shit and more importantly, fixate on Jae-shin’s bracelet. Who wants to bet that they’re going to exchange notes on accessories in the next episode?
Seon-joon is announced the winner of the exam and Yoon-hee immediately dashes off to the library to look up the passage she forgot. Naturally, he follows suit to needle her. No point wallowing in regret now. Shouldn’t she be spending the time packing? Yoon-hee pleads for one more chance. Again, Seon-joon is no match for those Bambi eyes but like hell he’s going to let her think he’s easy. So in his ass backwards way, he tells her she’s a troublemaker who’s bound to get into trouble if he lets her loose outside…
Yoon-hee cuts to the chase. So is this his long-winded way of telling her she can stay?
Relieved, she walks away. Seon-joon balks. Wait! Can’t she remember what she was about to tell him at the creek? Think harder, woman!
Yoon-hee asks him if she has to put it in words and silly, silly Seon-joon is like, duh! Just tell me already! I’m about to die of frustra—
Yoon-hee gets on her tiptoes and…
Seon-joon: ……… (We apologise for the break in transmission. Normal programming will resume as soon as we re-establish a signal.)
Embarrassed, Yoon-hee dashes out holding her face in her hands. However, her reverie is cut short by mysterious men in black, as is Seon-joon’s…
We cut to find Jae-shin resuming his masked avenger duties. This time though, the Minister of War’s men are waiting for him and as he escapes to his hideaway, he is met by Yong-ha, who tells him that the road to from Gwangtong Bridge to Woonjong Street is heavily guarded so why not postpone his vigilante activities for now and have a sleepover at his house?
Uh-oh, no can do. Jae-shin’s bracelet is missing and he tells Yong-ha he has to go back and retrieve it since it was a gift from his brother. What are the chances In-soo is way ahead of him on this front?
However, when Jae-shin returns, what he finds instead are more mysterious men in black. And how can our Jalgeum Quartet be complete if they don’t make a detour for Yong-ha as well?
We cut to find our fair heroes in a secret underground cell filled with maps and a model of a city. And then the King, followed by Professor Jung, appears and tells them the reason they’ve been gathered: to create a new Joseon.
If you’ve read my past recaps, you’ll know where I stand on the issue of angst. I’m not a big fan though I will suffer through it if I feel it has a place in the story. Despite bitching constantly about Seon-joon’s Abyss of Despair, I could see the trajectory it was taking and the role it played in his character development:
Episode 10: Awakening
Episode 11: Denial
Episode 12: Depression
Episode 13: Anger & Self-loathing
Episode 14: Acceptance
Episode 15: Resignation to fate
Now, I am aware that there are quite a number of people out there who are comparing his situation with Han Kyul’s in Coffee Prince. I’m sorry, I just don’t get this. We’re talking about two completely different stories, two completely different men, two completely different eras and two completely different situations. If we were talking about a remake of Coffee Prince, then it would make sense to compare the two. As it stands, the only thing they have in common is that they have a cross-dressing girl at the heart of the story, and even then, we are talking about two completely different women, two completely different eras and two completely different situations. So to cut a long story short, I don’t see why Seon-joon’s angst should be on a par with Han Kyul’s.
At any rate, I’m perfectly happy with his relatively angst-free acceptance of Yoon-hee’s gender. Use your imagination: he probably angsted all he wanted off-screen. I’m quite sure someone out there is going to write a fanfic about the Angst-that-did-not-make-its-appearance-in-Episode-16. Wait for it. As far as I’m concerned, there are only four episodes left. I’d rather they use whatever precious little time they have left to focus on Cho-sun, Jae-shin, or Yong-ha’s back story.