Tuesday, May 03, 2016

“A Jewel in the Palace” aka “Dae Jang Geum” spoiler-free synopsis by episode and theme-based recaps


Scenes from “A Jewel in the Palace”


“Saimdang” trailer


Part 3 of “I am Lee Young-ae” 2008 documentary where she remembers the drama’s filming, plus the drama’s international popularity (Iran, Turkey, Zimbwabe, etc.), while in Part 2 at the 4:19 mark, she visits the “Dae Jang Geum” set. For the English sub, watch this video on Youtube.
(Jump to spoiler-free synopsis by episode or to lessons in photography from “A Jewel in the Palace”))

I’m writing this post for two reasons:

(1) I love this Korean drama and its lead star Lee Young-ae; and

(2) Lee Young-ae’s newest TV drama “Shin Saimdang” will be shown later this year.

“A Jewel in the Palace” was first aired in Korea more than ten years ago and has been broadcast in 96 countries. In the Philippines, it has been aired three times already. It’s a huge commercial success, having earned more than US $100 million. Lee Young-ae has since then become Korea’s most-loved actress and an ambassador of goodwill. She’s also well-known for her generous acts of charity.

“Shin Saimdang” is currently being filmed and will run up to 36 episodes. Expectations are so high for this new drama that it has already been pre-sold to 11 countries based simply on Lee Young-ae’s reputation. If it becomes a critical and commercial hit, today’s generation of high school and college students might become interested in watching “A Jewel in the Palace.”

“A Jewel in the Palace” is 54-episodes long, and I’m writing two kinds of synopsis: a spoiler-free synopsis by episode and a theme-based synopsis.

Spoiler-free synopsis by episode: meant for people who are watching “A Jewel in the Palace” for the first time or who may have seen a few episodes but are not completely familiar with the drama’s storyline.

Jump to Episode 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 50; 51; 52; 53; 54
Theme-based synopsis: meant for people who have already seen “A Jewel in the Palace” but would like watch again certain scenes or episodes.

For example, Jang Geum’s father gave her when she was eight years old a triple trinket (writing brush, ink well, and knife). The trinket played a big part in the relationship between Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho. I will point out and describe the scenes or episodes in which the trinket appears.

How I made these synopses spoiler-free


I assumed that you will be reading these recaps and watching the videos chronologically.

(1) I narrated the main actions in each episode without revealing the plot’s twists and turns.

(2) At the beginning of each synopsis starting with Episode 2, I placed in a table some of the major twists and turns of the previous episode. But because you have already watched the video for the previous episode, they aren’t spoilers anymore.

http://www.hancinema.net/korean_drama_Dae_Jang_Geum.php

Episode 1: The prophecy


Seo Chun Soo is a Royal Guard assigned to the group of court officials and soldiers tasked with carrying out Queen Yiun’s execution by poisoning. Haunted by the Queen’s death, he falls while wandering aimlessly in the forest.

He wakes up inside a cave where a hermit has taken care of his injury. The hermit then prophesies about how his fate will be determined by three women: “The first one, you killed her, but she didn’t die. The second one, you will save her, but she will die because of you. The third one, she will kill you, but because of this, will be the savior of many.”

A Buddhist monk tries to understand and explain to him what the hermit’s prophecy means. Years later, a guilt-ridden and fearful Seo Chun Soo resigns from the Royal Guards and begins working at a temple.

Meanwhile, Park Meong Yi is a junior court lady working at the Royal Kitchen. She reports to a Court Lady what Choi Cheng Qing, another junior court lady, did with the food meant for the Queen Mother. But the Court Lady betrays Park Meong Yi to the Highest Kitchen Lady; they take her to the forest and force her to drink poison.

Seo Chun Soo finds the unconscious Park Meong Yi in a river. He brings her to the temple and nurses her back to health. Realizing that she is the second lady in the prophecy, he begins avoiding her.

Episode 2: Jang Geum


In Episode 1, Seo Chun Soo explains to Park Meong Yi that, based on the prophecy, she will die because of him and that she should therefore stay away from him. But Park Meong Yi says that their fates are now intertwined.
Eight years later...

Seo Chun Soo and Park Meong Yi are now married. They live under false identities to escape from King Yeonsan’s intensifying persecution of all the people responsible for the death of his mother, Queen Yiun.

Their only child is Jang Geum, a bright child who always gets punished for her inquisitiveness and desire for learning.

During a festivity in the village, Seo Chun Soo gets arrested. Park Meong Yi takes Jang Geum to Hanyang – Joseon’s capital – to try to save him. She secretly contacts her best friend in the Royal Kitchen, who’s now Lady Han.

But before Lady Han could help out, Park Meong Yi and Jang Geum are captured by the henchmen of the merchant Choi Pan Sul – the brother of Choi Cheng Qing, who’s now Lady Choi.

Episode 3: Survival


In Episode 2, Park Meong Yi gets hit by an arrow while trying to protect Jang Geum. In her dying moments, she realizes that Jang Geum is the third woman in the prophecy. She writes two letters to Jang Geum, asking her to become a court lady and to eventually become the Highest Kitchen Lady.
After burying her mother, Jang Geum tries to survive on her own. After a few misunderstandings, she later on gets “adopted” by Gang Duk Gu’s family. She helps out with the household chores and in selling their home-brewed wine.

After King Yeonsan is overthrown in a coup, Jang Geum is taken in, with other young girls, as a “new bride” in the Royal Palace. If Jang Geum passes the test and the training in court etiquette, she can be assigned to further training in one of the departments, including the Royal Kitchen.

Jang Geum becomes friends with Yeung Seng, another new bride, who’s being bullied just like her. One night, they begin searching for the Middle Kitchen where Jang Geum’s mother hid her book of recipes. On their way, they meet a a new bride they have never seen before.

Notes:

1. King Yeonsan was Joseon’s most cruel king.

2. Watch Episode 3 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.


Episode 4: The selection


In Episode 3, while Jang Geum is searching the Middle Kitchen for her mother’s book of recipes, Yeung Seng gets injured, and they are discovered there by Lady Han.
The head trainer lady becomes angry with Jang Geum because of the trouble she caused at the Middle Kitchen and thus bans her from attending the training sessions. But Jang Geum perseveres.

After some hardships, Jang Geum is finally selected by Lady Han, who promptly begins testing her.

The senior girls start bullying Jang Geum, piling on her all their assigned work. As she endures the bullying, the Royal Kitchen is thrown into chaos when the food begins becoming spoiled.

Episode 5: Lady Jung


In Episode 4, Jang Geum prevents the food from becoming spoiled by washing all the dishes in boiling water. Lady Han begins seeing her in a new light.
Jang Geum’s bullying by the senior girls gets worse because of the pine needles competition where the mysterious new bride participates.

The Highest Kitchen Lady, a member of the powerful Choi family, is removed from her position. With the Head Lady and Lady Choi thinking that they can manipulate the elderly and eccentric Lady Jung, they get her appointed as the new Highest Kitchen Lady. But Lady Jung proves to be independent-minded and turns things upside down in the Royal Kitchen.

After the sugar vs. persimmon incident, Lady Han finally realizes Jang Geum’s potential and begins training her in a unique manner.

Episode 6: The golden pheasant


In Episode 5, Lady Choi trains Keum Young according to the traditions of their family from which has come the last five Highest Kitchen Ladies. On the other hand, Lady Han trains Jang Geum to be resourceful and inquisitive.
Ten years later, Jang Geum has grown into a beautiful young woman with a boundless curiosity about anything related to food. One of her experiments leads to solving the problem with the Princess’s loss of appetite.

Keum Young loses the golden pheasant that is supposed to be served to the entourage of Ming officials. With Jang Geum’s help, she escapes from the Palace to try to find another golden pheasant with her uncle Choi Pan Sul’s help.

Jang Geum also sets off on her own to get a golden pheasant through Gang Duk Gu, her adoptive father. After a long wait, she’s able to get a golden pheasant, and she hurries through the mountain to get back to Keum Young.

Episode 7: The herb garden


In Episode 6, Jang Geum chances upon a deadly fight in the mountain. She treats the unconscious man’s wounds but, in the process, fails to make it back to Keum Young on their agreed time. (She also loses the triple trinket her father gave her.)

With Lady Choi’s insistence, Keum Young goes back to the Palace, leaving Jang Geum behind.
Jang Geum gets caught trying to sneak back into the Royal Palace. But because of Lady Jung and Lady Han’s sacrifice, she isn’t cast out of the Palace but instead is exiled to the herb garden.

There, Jang Geum meets men and women who either sleep or drink wine all day, having lost all hope of ever leaving the herb garden.

Battling despair, Jang Geum sets about getting the herb garden organized. She pesters the garden’s supervisor about all the plants that the garden was tasked to grow and cultivate. She sets as her personal goal the growing of astragalus, a precious medicinal plant from Ming. But it’s a daunting task because no one has ever successfully grown astragalus before. What’s more, the import of astragalus from Ming is monopolized by the merchant Choi Pan Sul.

Notes:

1. Memorable scene: Jang Geum and the man she saved in the mountain pass each other by, not knowing who the other one is.

2. Watch Episode 7 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 8: The cooking competition


In Episode 7, Jang Geum successfully grows astragalus. The Royal Court finds out about it through the herb garden’s supervisor and rewards her by reinstating her to the Royal Kitchen.
On her way back to the Royal Kitchen, she stops by the library on an errand from the herb garden’s supervisor. There she meets Ming Jung Ho who, unknown to her, is the wounded man she helped in the mountain. (He is an officer with the Royal Guards in charge of tracking down some Japanese spies.)

Jang Geum is happily welcomed back to the Royal Kitchen, but Lady Jung cautions her that if she loses in the competition, she will be forced to leave the Palace.

On the night before the dumpling-cooking competition, someone steals Jang Geum’s flour. She finds the girl who stole the flour, but after knowing her reason, she lets the girl keep the flour. She decides to use, instead of the flour, some vegetables from the herb garden. But the competition’s judges, led by the Head Lady and Lady Choi, argue that using ingredients other than flour violated the rules.

Episode 9: The hunting trip


In Episode 8, Jang Geum loses in the competition and must therefore leave the Palace.
The Queen Mother arrives. She tries Jang Geum’s dumplings and then commends her for using ingredients that are not only nutritious but also affordable by common folks. She orders the officials to allow her to stay.

Jang Geum finally becomes a court lady, and after seeing her adoptive parents, she visits her mother’s grave.

Meanwhile, Min Jung Ho learns from the Japanese spy that the woman who saved him had a golden pheasant with her. He starts questioning people in the villages, and his search leads him to Gang Duk Gu’s house.

After the solemn induction ceremony, Lady Han is ordered to supervise the cooking for the King’s hunting trip. She takes along with her Lady Min, Jo-bang, Keum Young, and Jang Geum.

But disaster strikes when Lady Han, Lady Min, and Jo-bang all fall sick. Before losing consciousness, Lady Han orders Keum Young to take over the kitchen, with Jang Geum helping her out.

Episode 10: Back to the Middle Kitchen


In Episode 9, Keum Young starts to prepare the cold noodles, while Jang Geum runs off to get some spring water from the forest.
The King enjoys the cold noodles that Keum Young and Jang Geum prepared, and Lady Han commends them.

Later on, Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho meet each other again, and Keum Young finds out about it.

(Jang Geum and Keum Young first met each other as new brides in Episode 2; the boy whom Keum Young loves and was saying goodbye to back then was Min Jung Ho.)

Lady Min and Jo-bang are punished for their carelessness, and Lady Han allows Jang Geum to work in the Middle Kitchen. Jang Geum uses this opportunity to search again for her mother’s book of recipes.

On the other hand, Lady Choi forces Keum Young to secretly put in the Middle Kitchen a pouch containing a curse against the Queen.

Notes:

1. Cute scene: Min Jung Ho notices that Jang Geum is using a brush that’s too big for writing. He begins searching in his pockets for the triple trinket.

2. Watch Episode 10 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 11: The Crown Prince


In Episode 10, Jang Geum finally finds her mother’s book of recipes.

But when the pouch containing the curse against the Queen is found, Lady Jung orders that Jang Geum and Keum Young be confined. Later on, she orders that they be brought to the authorities for interrogation.
The Head Lady protects Keum Young by ordering Lady Jung to cover up the matter. Lady Jung reluctantly agrees, and Jang Geum and Keum Young are allowed to resume their duties.

Later on, Gang Duk Gu, as a royal chef, prepares duck porridge for the Crown Prince. But when the Crown Prince becomes paralyzed and the doctors can’t find out why, he is accused of poisoning the Crown Prince.

Lady Jung and Lady Han try to help Gang Duk Gu, and Jang Geum sets about to prove his innocence.

Notes:

1. Touching/funny scene: Jang Geum’s adoptive mother breaks down and begs her to save Gang Duk Gu. She says that although he’s a henpecked husband, she can’t live without him.

2. Watch Episode 11 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 12: Sense of taste


In Episode 11, Jang Geum finds out that the doctors had given nutmeg to the Crown Prince as medicine. She tries to learn what nutmeg is all about by borrowing a book of medicine from Min Jung Ho.
Jang Geum discovers that the combination of nutmeg and ginseng caused the Crown Prince’s paralysis. She herself became paralyzed when she drank the combination.

Knowing the cause, the doctors are now able to treat the Crown Prince. Jang Geum, after being treated by a lady physician, is rewarded by the King.

Later on, however, Jang Geum begins to lose her sense of taste.

Episode 13: The bean paste


In Episode 12, Lady Jung suggests to the King that a cooking competition be held between Lady Han and Lady Choi to determine who will succeed her as the Highest Kitchen Lady.

Despite Jang Geum’s loss of her sense of taste, Lady Han still chooses her as her assistant for the competition.
Inspired by the fish merchant’s ability to select fresh fish despite his blindness, Lady Han begins teaching Jang Geum how to “draw up a taste” or to combine ingredients without tasting the food.

Lady Choi, on the other hand, teaches Keum Young all the culinary secrets handed down from members of their family who have previously been the Highest Kitchen Lady.

As the competition’s first part, Lady Han and Lady Choi are assigned to find out why the taste of the bean paste has suddenly changed. The change is an omen that bad things are about to happen to the kingdom.

Notes:

1. Funny scene: Alarmed by the omen, Gang Duk Gu sneaks into the Palace to perform a ritual for changing back the taste of the bean paste.

2. Watch Episode 13 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 14: Drawing up a taste


In Episode 13, Lady Jung finds out that Choi Pan Sul has been cheating the Palace with the quality of salt that he has been delivering.

Lady Han and Jang Geum visit a village where the taste of the bean paste is much better than that of the Palace.
Lady Han and Jang Geum discover that the cutting down of the trees near where the jars of bean paste are stored has disrupted the fermentation of the paste.

Later on, Jang Geum goes to the herb garden to see Jeong Woon-baek, the supervisor and doctor who helped her when she was exiled there. She begs him to try on her the bee sting treatment that he has been experimenting on. But he refuses because he can’t control where the bee will sting her; it’s dangerous and can cost Jang Geum her life.

In the herb garden, Jang Geum meets Min Jung Ho who comforts her and later lends her more books on medicine that might provide the solution to her problem.

Lady Choi finds out that Jang Geum has lost her sense of taste. She tells Lady Jung that Jang Geum and Lady Han must be cast out of the Royal Kitchen. But Lady Han claims that Jang Geum can cook anything well even if she can’t taste it. To determine if Lady Han’s claim is true, Lady Jung arranges a cooking test using whale meat.

Notes:

1. Funny scene: Preparing for the new dish competition, Jang Geum carries with her a big saw.

2. Watch Episode 13 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 15: Food for common folks


In Episode 14, Jang Geum finally convinces Dr. Jeong to try the bee sting treatment on her tongue using a method she suggested.
Lady Jung picks Jang Geum’s dish to be served to the King.

Lady Choi believes that Jang Geum and Lady Han cheated in some way and angrily demands that Jang Geum be tested on differentiating tastes in front of the kitchen ladies.

For the second part of the competition, Lady Han and Lady Choi are assigned to cook the food for the Prince’s birthday. They are told by the Queen Mother to prepare food that common folks eat.

Notes:

1. Romantic scene: In gratitude, Jang Geum prepares food that she gives to Min Jung Ho.

2. Watch Episode 14 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 16: Love triangle and the secret to cooking


In Episode 15, Lady Han loses the competition because Jang Geum used milk, something that common folks can’t afford and thus do not use.
Lady Han scolds Jang Geum for focusing only on how to beat Keum Young and forgetting all the principles she has taught her.

As a punishment, Lady Han sends Jang Geum away to a temple to help take care of a sick, elderly court lady who was the Queen’s nanny.

In the temple, Jang Geum meets her adoptive father and Min Jung ho. She and Min Jung Ho spend time together – in happiness, in solemnity, and in danger.

Jang Geum regains her zest for cooking when she meets the man who prepares the food for the sick court lady. She begins following him around and asking him his secret to cooking.

Notes:

1. Funny scenes: Yeung Seng, Young Ro, and Chang Yee apply to become Lady Han’s new assistant.

2. Romantic scene: Jang Geum meets Min Jung Ho on the beach, and they frolic in the surf as the sun goes down.

Episode 17: The journal


In Episode 16, Keum Young goes to the temple to visit Min Jung Ho, the man she has loved since childhood. But she finds him and Jang Geum happily talking to each other.
Keum Young finally realizes that Min Jung Ho’s heart belongs to Jang Geum.

The Queen Mother has set as the final competition the preparation of fresh seafood that’s available all throughout the year. Lady Choi and Keum Young leave the Palace to ask for Choi Pan Sul’s help in getting the ingredients.

Meanwhile, the Palace guards chase a man who snuck into the Palace and has hidden himself in Lady Choi’s quarters. With Lady Jung supervising the search, the kitchen ladies discover the journal that’s handed down from one Highest Kitchen Lady to the next. She gets mad that the journal has been kept away from her.

Lady Choi and the Head Lady scheme together on how to prevent Lady Jung from revealing how they kept the journal away from her.

Notes:

1. Funny scene: Gang Duk Gu tries to bribe his way into becoming Min Jung Ho’s wine supplier. Jang Geum comes to his rescue.

2. Watch : A Jewel in the Palace" with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 18: The Ming ambassador


In Episode 17, an infectious disease spreads throughout the Palace. The Head Lady and Lady Choi use this opportunity to get Lady Jung out of the Palace.
Lady Han, the other kitchen ladies, and Lady Jung herself can’t understand why she was forced to leave the Palace when she doesn’t have the symptoms that other sick people have.

In Lady Jung’s absence, Lady Choi is appointed as the interim Highest Kitchen lady. To permanently get rid of Lady Han and Jang Geum, she orders them to supervise the kitchen at the residence of the Ming Dynasty’s ambassador. (No one in the Royal Kitchen has ever wanted to serve in that residence because of the outrageous demands of the Ming officials.)

As expected by Lady Choi, Lady Han soon gets arrested for offending the Ming ambassador. Jang Geum pleads for Lady Han, but she herself gets into trouble.

Episode 19: The final competition


In Episode 18, Lady Choi prepares for the Ming ambassador a three-day feast that’s only reserved for the Ming Dynasty’s imperial family. But the ambassador honors his promise to Jang Geum to eat only her vegetable dishes for five days.
The Ming ambassador is pleased with and feels refreshed by Jang Geum’s vegetable dishes. As a result, he gives Ming’s seal of approval for Joseon’s Crown Prince. But Lady Choi and the Head Lady claim all the credit.

Lady Han is released from her arrest. Meanwhile, Lady Jung finds out about the Head Lady’s scheme against her. When she threatens to expose the scheme, the Head Lady agrees to send her back to the Palace.

The revised final competition is for Lady Han and Lady Choi to present their best dishes during the Queen Mother’s birthday. Lady Han and Jang Geum prepare their ingredients and supplies, but on the eve of the competition, they find that their kitchen has been totally messed up.

Notes:

1. Memorable scene: In fairness, Lady Jung offers to let Lady Han read the journal. As Lady Han refuses, Jang Geum stares at the journal that her mother told her about some 20 years ago.

2. Watch : A Jewel in the Palace" with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 20: Jang Geum vs. Lady Choi


In Episode 19, Lady Choi orders Young Ro to ruin Lady Han’s kitchen.
The Head Lady wants to cancel the final competition, but Jang Geum says that she will take Lady Han’s place until she returns. (Unknown to her, Lady Choi and Choi Pan Sul have ensured that Lady Han will not be able to return.)

With Yeun Seng’s help, Jang Geum tries to get whatever ingredients she can within the Palace. Lady Min and Chang Yee also help her out.

The competition begins.

Episode 21: The wild berries


In Episode 20, Jang Geum loses the first three rounds.
The Queen Mother finds out about what happened to Lady Han’s kitchen and wants to disqualify her, but the Queen urges her to let Jang Geum continue the competition.

Jang Geum finds out that Lady Han has been kidnapped, and she has no choice but to continue the competition by herself. She turns to her mother’s recipe book to inspire and strengthen her.

Min Jung Ho rescues Lady Han, and she hurries back to the Palace. The competition’s outcome hangs in the balance with the serving of the last dish – Lady Choi’s mixed fruit bowl vs. Jang Geum’s wild berries.

Episode 22: Dissension in the Royal Kitchen


In Episode 21, Jang Geum touches the King’s heart with her story about how she fed her dying mother with wild berries. Because of the King’s enthusiasm, the Queen Mother appoints Lady Han as the new Highest Kitchen Lady.

But Lady Choi and the Head Lady cause dissension among the senior court ladies in the Royal Kitchen. They all boycott Lady Han’s induction ceremony.
Lady Jung finally retires as the Highest Kitchen Lady. Because of her frail condition, Jang and Yeun Seng accompany her to take care of her needs.

The senior court ladies continue to boycott Lady Han. She’s left to deal with all the duties with only a few assistants like Jang Geum, Yeun Seng, Chang Yee, and the new brides. She begins thinking of quitting as the Highest Kitchen Lady.

To finally put an end to the boycott, Lady Han asks the Queen Mother and the Queen to hold one last competition between her and Lady Choi.

Episode 23: The final competition


In Episode 22, Lady Jung dies, and her ashes are scattered to the winds on the mountainside.
The Queen arranges a rice-cooking competition between Lady Han and Lady Choi, with the senior court ladies acting as the judges.

Later on, Min Jung Ho, now an official with the Bureau of Investigations, asks Lady Han for help in investigating the corrupt activities of Minister Oh and merchant Choi Pan Sul. Agreeing to help, she appoints Jang Geum to account for all the supplies coming into the Royal Kitchen.

Notes:

1. Emotional scenes: Lady Han visits with Jang Geum the place where Lady Jung’s ashes were scattered. Later on, they visit the cave where Jang Geum buried her mother.

2. Watch “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 24: The secret revealed


In Episode 23, Lady Han wins the rice-cooking competition and officially becomes the Highest Kitchen Lady. Although she has been given full powers by the Queen Mother, she refuses to take revenge against those who boycotted her. Lady Choi, on the other hand, asks to be demoted to the pantry.

Jang Geum tries to get in touch with her mother’s best friend among the court ladies by leaving a note at the jar of persimmon vinegar.

Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho’s investigations are now causing fear and apprehension among the senior court ladies in the Royal Kitchen and the other court officials under Minister Oh.
Besides Jang Geum’s accounting books, Young Ro has also stolen her mother’s recipe book. Lady Han gets hold of the recipe book after seeing Yeun Seng and Young Ro fighting in the kitchen.

Piecing things together, Lady Choi realizes that Jang Geum is Park Myeong Yi’s daughter. She and her brother Choi Pan Sul therefore decide to kill Jang Geum and Lady Han.

Minister Oh, on the other hand, orders his men to stop Min Jung Ho at all costs.

Episode 25: The revelation


In Episode 24, Keum Young warns Min Jung Ho that if he doesn’t stop his investigation, she will report to the authorities his relationship with Jang Geum.

Jang Geum finally finds out that her mother’s best friend is none other than Lady Han.
Jang Geum and Lady Han have a tearful meeting, having found out their common bond.

But Lady Han also realizes that Lady Choi knows now who Jang Geum really is. She must act quickly to prevent Jang Geum from falling into mortal danger.

Jang Geum seeks out Min Jung Ho and asks for his help in finding out what happened to her father.

Later on, the King and his entourage decide go to the hot springs of the village that Lady Han suggested. Lady Choi finds out it and tells his brother; Lady Han and Jang Geum will be vulnerable once they’re outside of the Palace.

Notes:

1. Tender scene: Min Jung Ho asks Jang Geum if he can start sharing her burdens.

2. Watch “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 26: The sulfur ducks


In Episode 25, Lady Han protects Jang Geum by banishing Lady Choi, Keum Young and Young Ro to the Ming ambassador’s residence.

Lady Han takes Jang Geum to vist the place where Jang Geum’s mother spent her childhood. On their way back, they’re attacked by Choi Pan Sul’s men.

For an unknown reason, the King has collapsed.
Lady Han is accused of poisoning the King. She and Jang Geum are arrested.

From Min Jung Ho’s investigation, the ducks served by Lady Han didn’t cause the King’s sickness. But Lady Choi connives with the Head Lady and one of the Royal Physicians to place all the blame on Lady Han.

Meanwhile, Choi Pan Sul finds out that Min Jung Ho has been investigating his illicit activities with Minister Oh.

Episode 27: The confession


In Episode 26, Jang Geum finally learns, through the triple trinket, that Min Jung Ho is the man she saved in the mountainside.

Keum Young warn Lady Choi and Choi Pan Sul not to harm Min Jung Ho.
Keum Young devises a plan to make it appear that the ducks served by Lady Han caused the King to collapse.

To save Jang Geum, Lady Han falsely confesses that, together with followers of the exiled Jo Jung Ahm, she planned the King’s poisoning.

Notes:

1. Emotional scene: Lady Han tells Jang Geum why she falsely confessed to poisoning the King.

2. Watch Episode 27 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 28: Jeju island


Min Jung Ho has been ordered locked up by his superior to prevent him from being implicated in Lady Han’s case.

Instead of being sentenced to death, Lady Han and Jang Geum are sentenced to become slaves and to be exiled to Jeju island. But on the way there, Lady Han dies.
Jang Geum pleads with the soldiers to bury Lady Han. Later on, she’s put into a boat that will take her to Jeju.

Min Jung Ho finally learns that Jang Geum is the woman who saved him on the mountainside.

In Jeju, Jang Geum tries time and time again to escape.

Notes:

1. In Episode 16, the ocean brought joy and a sense of freedom to Jang Geum. But in Episode 28, the ocean has become her prison walls.

2. Watch Episode 28 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 29: Jang Duk


In Episode 28, Min Jung Ho follows Jang Geum to Jeju. He offers her a way to escape, but she stays, relying on his word that he will work even for years to clear Lady Han’s name.
Min Jung Ho becomes the highest military officer in Jeju. Jang Geum, on the other hand, is assigned to work for Jang Duk. But she rebels against what she sees as corruption and the exploitation of the poor and sick. She impresses Jang Duk, however, with her intelligence and experience.

Meanwhile, Yeun Seng continues her rebellion against Lady Choi’s authority. On the other hand, Gang Duk Gu still can’t believe that the sulfur ducks caused the King to collapse.

Later on, Jang Duk is informed by Jeju’s governor that she must go to Hanyang, Joseon’s capital, to work for the Royal Pharmacy.

Notes:

1. Cute scene: Chastised by an official for talking to Min Jung Ho in a familiar way even though she’s a slave, Jang Geum starts acting and talking with Min Jung Ho in a formal manner. Min Jung Ho pleads with her that she can talk and act in a friendly manner when they’re alone, but she refuses. But her tone and demeanor change when he mentions that he brought sulfur with him.

2. Watch Episode 29 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 30: The training


In Episode 29, Jang Geum learns that becoming a lady physician is her way back to the Palace.
Jang Geum begins her training under Jang Duk. She also learns why a talented person like Jang Duk is in a place like Jeju.

Later on, Jang Geum meets an old friend. But her friend and Jang Duk soon begin to oppose each other.

Episode 31: The pirates


In Episode 30, Jang Geum is torn between Dr. Jeong and Jang Duk, between her desire for revenge and medicine’s noble purpose.

In the Palace, Yeun Seng has become one of the King’s concubines.
Two years after …

Jang Geum is traumatized by her mistake in acupuncture that nearly caused Jang Duk’s life.

Min Jung Ho, his soldiers, and Jang Duk are ordered to go to another island. Jang Geum is left in charge of the pharmacy, but she refuses to accept the responsibility.

That night, Japanese pirates invade Jeju. They threaten to kill everyone unless Jang Geum treats their leader.

Episode 32: The young master


In Episode 31, Jang Geum is forced to treat the pirates’s leader when they threaten to kill the prisoners one by one, beginning with Gang Duk Gu. Despite her trauma with acupuncture, she’s able to treat the leader. She’s also able to contact Min Jung Ho, and their plan succeeds in driving away the pirates.
Jang Geum is ordered arrested and brought to Hanyang for supposedly assisting the pirates. But she passes this crisis through the help of some unexpected people.

While in Hanyang, Jang Geum is visited by her adoptive parents and by Dr. Jeong. Min Jung Ho wants to return to Jeju with Jang Geum, but she tells him that he must stay in Hanyang for her sake.

On the way back to Jeju, Jang Geum visits Lady Han’s grave. While Gang Duk Gu and the Jeju officer are building a mound for Lady Han, a young master orders them to stop.

Episode 33: Dr. Shin and the training for lady physicians


In Episode 32, Jang Geum correctly diagnoses the young master’s sickness and treats him. In gratitude, the young master’s father offers a better resting place for Lady Han. He also informs Jang Geum about the selection and training for new lady physicians.

Despite Dr. Jeong’s misgivings about Jang Geum and her desire for revenge, he allows her to become part of the training.
Dr. Shin, the professor in charge of the medical training, warns Jang Geum that he will surely fail her. On the other hand, she earns the praise and trust of the professor who’s teaching the Confucian classics.

Despite Jang Geum’s excellence and her persistence that includes washing the laundry of the other trainees, Dr. Shin tells her that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a lady physician.

Episode 34: The conflict


In Episode 33, Jang Geum becomes friends with Shin-bi, a fellow trainee. By observing how Shin-bi methodically questions patients, she learns what her mistakes are and how to become humble.
A conflict arises between Dr. Shin and the Confucian-classics professor. As a result, Jang Geum, Shin-bi, and all the other trainees, fail the training.

The court minister in charge of the training decides to intervene and to give Jang Geum and Shin-bi a re-examination.

Episode 35: The reunion


In Episode 34, Jang Geum and Shin-bi pass the re-examination, and they’re both assigned to the Royal Pharmacy. Jang Geum, her adoptive parents, Min Jung Ho, and Jang Duk celebrate her accomplishment.

At the Palace, Jang Geum and Shin-bi are treated coldly by the senior lady physicians. They are also humiliated by the junior court ladies who order them to wash their feet.
At a meeting called to discuss the Queen’s health, Jang Geum and Keum Young meet each other again. Keum Young, who’s now the Highest Kitchen Lady, is shocked to see Jang Geum back in the Palace.

Later on, as Jang Geum attends to the Queen, she also meets Lady Choi, who is as equally shocked as Jeum Young.

As Jang Geum begins searching for Lady Min, Chang Yee, and Yeun Seng, Lady Choi plots with the head of the Royal Pharmacy on how to kick Jang Geum out of the Palace.


Episode 36: Jang Geum’s diagnosis


In Episode 35, Jang Geum meets both her friends and her enemies. While Yeun Seng tearfully welcomes her, Keum Young humiliates her by asking her to massage her feet.

The Queen suffers a miscarriage, and Jang Geum tells Shin-bi that something’s wrong with the Queen’s pulse reading done by Yul-yee, one of the lady physicians.
During a meeting of the Royal Pharmacy, Jang Geum startles everyone by what she thinks is wrong with the Queen.

Despite opposition from the Chief Royal Physician and the senior lady physicians, Dr. Jeong acts according to Jang Geum’s diagnosis.

Meanwhile, Min Jung Ho and his superior lay out plans to improve Joseon’s weaponry. But their plans threaten Minister Oh and other court officials.

Notes:

1. Funny scene: Lady Min scolds Jang Geum for not keeping her mouth shut and Shin-bi for being another troublemaker.

2. Watch Episode 36 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 37: The riddle


In Episode 36, Jang Geum is proven right that the Queen had a dead fetus in her womb. She is praised by Dr. Jeong and Dr. Shin. But she becomes Yul-yee’s enemy.
The Queen Mother refuses to accept any medical treatment, despite the King and Queen’s pleas. She also wants Dr. Shin fired.

To save Dr. Shin, Jang Geum audaciously asks the Queen Mother to to gamble with her. If the Queen Mother can’t answer her riddle, then she must accept medical treatment. But if she can answer the riddle, then Jang Geum will forfeit her life.

Lady Choi, Keum Young, and Young Ro immediately set about to find the riddle’s answer.

Notes:

1. Funny scene: Gang Duk Go and his wife try to find the answer to the riddle.

2. Watch Episode 37 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 38: The medicine pills


In Episode 37, the Queen Mother accepts medical treatment even though she knows the answer to Jang Geum’s riddle.

But the delay in treatment has worsened the Queen Mother’s condition. She can’t eat the food that the Royal Physicians prescribe, and she vomits the medicine given to her.
The Royal Pharmacy doesn’t know how to deal with the Queen Mother’s condition. But Jang Geum studies the list of food that the Royal Kitchen has been serving the Queen Mother. She comes up with a plan that Dr. Shin approves.

Yul-yee spies on what Jang-Geum is doing with the Queen Mother’s medicine, and the Queen demands that Dr. Shin and Jang Geum stop what they’re doing.

Episode 39:The plague


In Episode 38, Jang Geum skillfully hides the garlic in the Queen Mother’s medicine pills by using her culinary skills.

The Queen Mother’s condition improves, and she praises both Dr. Shin and Jang Geum.

The Head Eunuch recognizes Jang Geum and promises to help in some little ways. Jang Geum asks him to get the King and Yeun Seng to meet each other again.

The Queen also recognizes Jang Geum and asks her to make for her the buckwheat cakes that she prepared during the competition.
Keum Young feels humiliated when the Queen prefers Jang Geum’s buckwheat cakes over what she has prepared for the Queen’s late-night snack. She asks Yeul-yee to help her get Jang Geum kicked out of the Palace.

As a result of Yeul-yee’s intrigues, Jang Geum is punished and is sent to a village where she gets into more trouble.

Later on, all of the Royal Physicians and the lady physicians come to the village to help deal with a plague that has started to spread.

Episode 40: The quarantine


In Episode 39, all medical personnel have been ordered out of the village because the plague can no longer be controlled. But Yeul-yee misleads Jang Geum by not telling her about the order.

Min Jung Ho leaves his responsibilities and breaks through the guards to get to Jang Geum.

The villagers think that the government has abandoned them, and they turn their anger towards Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho.

When the medicines run out, the villagers allow Min Jung Ho to leave to get some from another village. But they lock Jang Geum up and threaten to kill her if Min Jung Ho doesn’t return the next day.

Episode 41: Yeun Seng


In Episode 40, Min Jung Ho rescues Jang Geum from the fire. He has returned to the village not only with medicine but also with Jang Duk.

Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho find out that what has been causing the people’s sicknesses is not a plague but food poisoning. They rush back to the Palace, but their disappearance for 15 days causes a stir among court officials and the Royal Pharmacy. Their finding is confirmed, however, when Lady Choi gets sick after she eats an infected vegetable.
Because Min Jung Ho abandoned his duties and disappeared for 15 days, Minister Oh succeeds in demoting him. But Jang Duk and the grateful villagers protest this demotion.

Later on, Jang Geum is assigned to take care of the Queen, while Yul-yee is assigned to Yeun Seng.

Yeun Seng becomes pregnant and is promoted to a higher rank. But Lady Choi and Keum Young connive with Yeul-yee to cause Yeun Seng’s miscarriage.

Notes:

1. Memorable scenes: Yeun Seng humiliates Lady Choi and Keum Young by venting all her anger at what they did to her beloved Lady Jung.

2. Funny scene: After Yeun Seng’s promotion, the kitchen maids profusely apologize to her. Lady Min scolds them using Lady Han’s words in Episode 24.

3. Watch Episode 41 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 42: The King’s records


In Episode 41, Jang Geum finds out Yul-yee’s deliberate mis-diagnosis of Yeun Seng’s condition. She reports it to Dr. Shin.
Dr. Shin questions Yul-yee for her mis-diagnosis, while Jang Geum warns Lady Min and Chang Yee about Lady Choi’s plans against Yeun Seng.

Jang Geum decides it’s time to investigate why the King collapsed during the sulfur ducks incident that led to Lady Han’s death.

She gains access to the King’s records that are kept inside a room closely guarded by eunuchs. Secretly, she begins taking records out, with Jang Duk copying them overnight.

2. Watch Episode 42 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 43: The blame game


In Episode 42, Keum Young asks to see Min Jung Ho and prepares a table for him. She tells him that she has loved him all these years.

Jang Geum is caught by the eunuchs. The Head Eunuch intervenes on Jang Geum’s behalf, but Lady Choi confronts him.
The Head Eunuch defends Jang Geum and tells Lady Choi that the matter is outside of her jurisdiction.

The King becomes sick, and to Lady Choi’s surprise, the Chief Royal Physician blames the Royal Kitchen. Keum Young is arrested.

Meanwhile, the Queen is informed that Jang Geum has stolen the King’s medical records. Jang Geum is snatched by the eunuchsand brought to the forest. One of the eunuchs is carrying a bottle of poison.

Notes:

1. Déjà vu: In Episode 1, Jang Geum’s mother was forcibly brought to the forest to be poisoned to death. Now, it’s Jang Geum’s turn to be brought to the forest.

2. Watch Episode 43 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 44: Betrayals and alliances


In Episode 43, the Queen fakes Jang Geum’s death. She secretly meets Jang Geum and tells her that if she can’t find out what’s wrong with the King, she will disappear forever.
Jang Geum is brought by the Head Eunuch to the herb garden where she meets Min Jung Ho and Jang Duk. Their assignment from the Queen is to find out the cause and the cure for the King’s sickness.

The conflict intensifies between the Chief Royal Physician on one hand and Lady Choi and Keum Young on the other.

The former Head Lady appears and allies herself with Minister Oh against Lady Choi.

Episode 45: In and out of jail


In Episode 44, Yul-yee acts on behalf of the former Head Lady and frames Keum Young by planting poisonous mushroom in the Royal Kitchen.

Minister Oh orders the arrest of Lady Choi, Keum Young, and Choi Pan Sul.

Jang Geum faces a dilemma: if she reveals the truth about the King’s sickness, it will affect Lady Choi and Keum Young. She visits them in their jail cell and asks them to asks for Lady Han’s forgiveness.
The Queen is torn between the contrary advice given by the Chief Royal Physician and by Jang Geum.

Later on, the Queen allows Jang Geum to treat the King. But when the King becomes blind, Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho are arrested.

Episode 46: Revealing the truth


In Episode 45, the Queen releases Jang Geum but keeps Min Jung Ho locked up.

Jang Geum continues investigating the cause of the King’s sickness by reading books and doing field work under guard.

She applies acupuncture on the King and then massages him throughout the night.
The King regains his sight, and Jang Geum explains what has caused the King’s sickness all these years.

Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho decide that it’s time to reveal how Lady Choi and the Chief Royal Physician connived with each other during the sulfur ducks incident that led to Lady Han’s death.

But something happens to the Chief Royal Physician.

Notes:

1. Emotional scene: Jang Geum rushes to see Min Jung Ho as he is being released from jail. He tells her he regrets having encouraged her all these years since it has brought her to danger.

2. Watch Episode 46 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 47: The tug of war


In Episode 46, the Chief Royal Physician is found dead.

Jang Geum tells Lady Choi and Keum Young that she has the Chief Royal Physician’s will and that she will give it to the Queen unless they confess.

Young Ro’s loyalty is torn between Lady Choi and Minister Oh who both offer large bribes to her.
Young Ro wants to give Jang Geum the large bribes she got in exchange for being appointed as the new Head Lady.

Later on, the tug of war between Lady Choi and Minister Oh escalates with Young Ro caught in the middle.

Both the Queen Mother and the King learn that the Chief Royal Physician left a will.

The King orders an investigation of everyone involved, and Minister Oh and Lady Choi begin hurling accusations against each other.

Episode 48: Lady Choi


In Episode 47, Lady Choi orders that Young Ro be killed. She also forces Yeul-yee to forge a will of the Chief Royal Physician that implicates Minister Oh.

Lady Choi asks Jang Geum to take her to her mother’s grave.

While the accusations are flying back and forth, the Chief Royal Physician suddenly turns up alive.
The Chief Royal Physician faked his death, according to Min Jung Ho’s plan. He begins telling about Lady Choi and Minister Oh’s participation in the sulfur ducks incident.

The King orders the arrest of Lady Choi, Minister Oh, Choi Pan Sul, Keum Young, Yul-yee, and the Chief Royal Physician.

But Lady Choi disappears.

Episode 49: The Highest Kitchen Lady


In Episode 48, Lady Choi revisits the grave of Jang Geum’s mother. Later, walking around in a daze, she plunges to her death.

Minister Oh and Choi Pan Sul are sentenced to death, while Keum Young is stripped of her position and banished from the Palace.

On Jang Geum’s request, the King restores the status of Lady Han and of her mother. The King also grants Jang Geum’s wish that she be appointed temporarily as the Highest Kitchen Lady. She is finally able to write her mother’s grievances in the secret journal.
The King finds out that Jang Geum was the little girl who brought him the wine the day before he was enthroned.

The King reluctantly grants Jang Geum’s wish that she be assigned to a public health center outside of the Palace. She begins learning how to treat diseases that she did not encounter while she was at the Royal Pharmacy. But her days are clouded by some misunderstanding with Min Jung Ho.

Meanwhile, in the Palace, a new competition is held to choose the next Highest Kitchen Lady.


Later on, the Queen reminds Jang Geum that she owes her life to her. Jang Geum must therefore do something for her.

Notes:

1. Emotional scene: Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho go out to the field at night, and Jang Geum reminisces about everything she has gone through.

2. Watch Episode 49 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 50: The runaways


In Episode 49, the Queen wants to protect her position and that of her son. She asks Jang Geum to end the Crown Prince’s life.

But Jang Geum refuses, putting her life on the line. She and Min Jung Ho decide to elope.
Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho elope, but Min Jung Ho’s superior sends soldiers to pursue them.

Meanwhile, at the Palace, the King’s plan to appoint Jang Geum as his personal physician causes an uproar among the court officials, the Royal Pharmacy, and the Queen Mother.

The Queen Mother and the Queen call Yeun Seng to ask her about the meetings she arranged between the King and Jang Geum. Because of the Queen Mother’s stern words and demeanor, Yeun Seng becomes agitated and goes into labor prematurely.

Episode 51: The measles outbreak


In Episode 50, Yeun Seng nearly dies giving birth prematurely, but Jang Geum saves her.

Because of Yeun Seng and Dr. Shin, Jang Geum decides to decline the King’s appointment.
The Head Eunuch rushes in and says that the Queen’s son has been stricken with measles.

The measles soon spreads throughout the city. Jang Geum quarantines all the sick children in her area and risks her life taking care of them.

In desperation, the Queen visits Jang Geum and begs her to come back to the Palace and treat her son.

Episode 52: The King’s concubine


In Episode 51, the Royal Pharmacy staff, acting under Jang Geum’s directions, are able to save the Queen’s son.

The Queen gratefully thanks Jang Geum and asks her to forget what she asked her to do with the Crown Prince. She promises Jang Geum that she will from then on be a source of strength to her.

Dr. Shin shocks the court officials by endorsing Jang Geum as the King’s personal physician.
The King is forced to stop insisting on making Jang Geum his personal physician.

The King and Jang Geum begin spending time together, with Jang Geum helping the King to relax and unburden himself.

The Queen Mother orders the King and the Queen to make Jang Geum the King’s concubine.

The news that Jang Geum will be made the King’s concubine spreads like wildfire. Jang Geum pleads to the Queen that all she wants is to practice medicine.

Episode 53: The sacrifice


In Episode 52, Yeun Seng learns about Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho’s love for each other. She visits the King to plead in Jang Geum’s behalf.
The King confronts Jang Geum on whether she really loves Min Jung Ho. Later on, at the archery range, the King points his bow and arrow at Min Jung Ho.

The King sends Min Jung Ho into exile.

Notes:

1. Emotional scene: As Min Jung Ho is marched into exile, Jang Geum runs after him and gives him the triple trinket.

2. Watch Episode 53 of “A Jewel in the Palace” with English subtitles or Tagalog-dubbed.

Episode 54: The finale


In Episode 53, Min Jung Ho tells the King that he is willing to die if that will allow Jang Geum to be all that she can be.

The King promotes Jang Geum to be his personal physician despite opposition from the court officials. But he bows to the court officials’s demand that Min Jung Ho be sent into exile.
The King orders Min Jung Ho to take Jang Geum to Ming in order to escape the wrath of the court officials and for her to continue practicing medicine.

Eight years later …

Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho have been leading the lives of fugitives, moving from one village to another to evade the authorities looking for them.

They now have a daughter, who’s as inquisitive, bright, and willful as Jang Geum was at the same age.

Jang Geum hasn’t given up practicing medicine and treats people from all walks of life. But she gets into trouble when she suggests a radical way of treating a woman in labor. As the villagers pursue Jang Geum, Min Jung Ho, and their daughter, Gang Duk Gu catches a glimpse of them.

Yeun Seng musters up her courage and asks the Queen Regent to restore Jang Geum’s status.

Lessons in photography from “A Jewel in the Palace”



Rule of thirds, natural frame, cool colors

Golden hours, sidelighting, focus on the eyes

Sidelighting, shallow depth of field, out-of-focus highlights

Rim lighting, out-of-focus highlights

Form and depth through light and shadow

Golden hours

Stacked or compressed perspective

Partial natural frame, rule of thirds

Shooting portraits

Rule of thirds, quality and direction of light

Quality and direction of light

Shallow depth of field, out-of-focus highlights

High contrast sidelighting, light and shadow

Natural frame, backlighting

Silhouette, rule of thirds, natural frame

Silhouette, rule of thirds

Silhouette, rule of thirds

Rim lighting, rule of thirds, high-angle shot

Linear perspective, natural frame

Color temperature, warm and cool colors

Partial natural frame, rule of thirds

Patterns

Natural frame

Natural frame

Linear perspective, natural frame

Diagonal lines, high-angle shot, rule of thirds

Low-key lighting, high-angle shot, hidden geometric pattern

Partial natural frame

Rule of thirds, high-angle shot

Rule of thirds, diagonal lines

Low-angle shot, rule of thirds

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