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 of the previous episode, they aren’t spoilers anymore.
(I used this same structure in my recaps of “Six Flying Dragons,” The King’s Doctor,” and “A Jewel in the Palace.”)
Episode 1: Jeonokseo prison
A pregnant woman and a man, presumably a warrior, are being pursued by about a dozen armed men. The man faces off the pursuers in a bamboo field, giving time for the woman to escape.
The woman gives birth in Jeonokseo prison, and the baby, named Ok Nyeo, grows up among the officials, staff, and prisoners of Jeonokseo.
One day, the abusive Chief Warden beats up an outspoken prisoner named Lee Ji Ham. Several days later, Lee Ji Ham is visited in Jeonokseo by Lord Yoon Won Hyung, a high-ranking court official and the Queen Mother’s younger brother.
1. Excellent cinematography: The pursuit scene is gorgeously shot, employing some aerial photography that I haven’t seen in other Korean dramas. The locations of the pursuit scene are lovely. The high angle, zoom-in shots of the prison are also great.
But the sword fight takes place in a bamboo field, which I read somewhere is quite standard for this genre of dramas.
2. The scene where Ok Nyeo is shown doing odd jobs in Jeonokseo reminds me of “Dong Yi” (end of Episode 4 and start of Episode 5, I think) where Dong Yi also does odd jobs in the Music Bureau. It’s maybe because the guy who directed “Dong Yi” now directs TFiP?
3. Familiar faces: The actor who plays “Officer Ji” played the role of Head Eunuch in “The Moon that Embraces the Sun.” I think he also played the bit role of Gaedura’s father in “Dong Yi.”
The actor who plays Lord Yoon’s assistant has been in so many Korean dramas — “A Jewel in the Palace,” “Yi San, A Wind in the Palace,” “Iljimae,” and “The King’s Doctor.”
The actor who plays “Lee Ji Ham” played Kwanghyun’s mentor in “The King’s Doctor.” I think he also played the bit role of the court official who congratulates Jang Geum in Episode 6 of “A Jewel in the Palace.”
4. Episode 1 video: Ok Nyeo’s mother being chased by assassins (no English sub, but the actions speak for themselves)
5. Episode 1 video: Ok Nyeo grows up in Jeonokseo (no English sub, but the actions speak for themselves)
Episode 2: Mistaken identity
But Ok Nyeo’s visit to Lord Yoon’s family later on brings her into trouble with the bandits whose leader is in prison.
Note: Familiar face - The woman who plays Jung Nan Jung’s chief maid played the role of bully Young Ro in “A Jewel in the Palace.” She also played the role of Seong-ra’s fellow “damo” in “Yi San, A Wind in the Palace.”
Episode 3: The secrets
Tae Won actually wanted Man Bo dead so he can take over the business of hauling goods in the market and docks, but Ok Nyeo’s plan works out just as well. He clears out Man Bo’s men from the market and docks and begins working for Gong Jae Myung, one of Hanyang’s head merchants. But the pay is so low that he makes plans to become rich.
Meanwhile, Ok Nyeo helps arrange a prisoner exchange. In the process, she finally learns the truth about how she was born in prison.
Later on, Ok Nyeo discovers a long-held secret about the prison.
1. When Tae Won leaves Jeonokseo, his men greet him and hand to him food that looks like tofu. I read somewhere that it’s traditional in Joseon culture to give tofu to someone who has just been released from prison. It’s supposed to represent a new life or new beginning.
2, Familiar face: The guy who plays Gong Jae Myung, the head merchant, played the role of the evil Choi Pan Sul in “A Jewel in the Palace." But he also played the good guy in “Yi SAn, A Wind in the Palace” (Seong-ra’s adoptive uncle) and in “Dong Yi” (Bureau of Music official).
Episode 4: Transitions
Through the double jade rings of Ok Nyeo’s mother, Park Tae Soo gives Ok Nyeo a lead as to who her mother could have been. Ok Nyeo begins following up the lead.
Five years later …
Yoon Tae Won has become more ambitious and steals goods belonging to Jung Nan Jung (Lord Yoon’s concubine and Hanyang’s most powerful merchant).
Ok Nyeo’s sword fight (no English sub)
1. Familiar faces: The actor who plays “Park Tae Soo” played the role of King Kumhwa in the highly-popular drama “Jumong.”
The guy who plays Police Officer Kang played the role of King Jungjong in “A Jewel in the Palace.” He was also Dan-won’s rival in “Painter of the Wind” and the Koryo loyalist in the recent “Jeong Do-jeon.”
2. Familiar theme: In “Jumong,” Sorceress Yeomiel locked up Haemosu in a secret cave prison for 20 years. In “The Flower in Prison,” the Queen Mother has kept Park Tae Soo locked up in a secret prison for the last 20 years. In fact, Haemosu looks like Park Tae Soo! (As I understand it, TFiP’s writer also wrote “Jumong.”) Haemosu taught Jumong sword fighting and archery, while Park Tae Soo teaches Ok Nyeo sword fighting and martial arts.
3. Familiar theme: In “Yi San, A Wind in the Palace,” the King gives Seong-ra double jade rings as his appreciation for Prince Sado’s painting. Later on, the Queen Mother recognizes the rings as those worn as a necklace by Seong-ra’s son. In TFiP, Ok Nyeo has double jade rings from her mother that she will use to identify who her mother was.
Episode 5: The choice
|Episode 4 recap: Ok Nyeo’s mother could have been a court lady who served the Crown Prince. But all the court ladies and maids who served the Crown Prince have all turned up dead, including the elderly court lady who Ok Nyeo visits. (Video below has no English sub, but the actions speak for themselves.)|
Yoon Tae Won and his head merchant Gong Jae Myung get the attention of Jung Nan Jung.
Ok Nyeo does extremely well in martial arts and the interview, but she fails to qualify for the Police Bureau.
Meanwhile, Ming’s envoy (its Head Eunuch) tells Lord Yoon that he is investigating the death of Joseon’s former King. The envoy turns out to be the former young master served by the parents of Gong Jae Myung.
In Jeonokseo, Park Tae Soo himself is given a choice that can mean his freedom.
Note: Video below shows Ok Nyeo being chased and captured by the masked men and contains some spoiler scenes on the identity of the spymaster; it also has no English sub.)
Episode 6: Spies
As cover for Ok Nyeo’s first official assignment, she is assigned as interpreter for Tae Won’s trade group that’s traveling with the Ming envoy.
Park Tae Soo begins laying out plans and acquiring weapons needed for the mission.
Episode 7: Betrayal
|Episode 6 summary: Park Tae Soo accepts the mission so that afterwards, he can help Ok Nyeo find the truth about her mother.|
Tae Won recognizes Ok Nyeo from their days in Jeonokseo.
When Park Tae Soo finds out that Ok Nyeo has become a spy and is actually a part of his team, he wants to abort the mission. But Ok Nyeo prevails upon him to continue.
Park Tae Soo and his team attack the envoy’s camp with fire arrows and explosives. Ok Nyeo finds the letter in the envoy’s quarters, but Tae Won saves the envoy’s life.
On their way to Yanjing, the envoy, his entourage, and Tae Won’s group stay at a heavily-guarded inn. But Park Tae Soo and his group attack the envoy again.
Note: Familiar theme - In Episode 7, Park Tae Soo and his team attack the envoy’s camp with fire arrows and explosives. There’s a similar scene in “Jumong” (Episode 31 or 32, I think) where Jumong and his men attack the Han army camp with fire arrows and kites laden with explosive. As I noted above, TFiP’s writer also wrote “Jumong.”
Episode 8: Change of fortune
|Episode 7 summary: Park Tae Soo kills the Ming envoy, but Ok Nyeo is caught by Tae Won. (Video below does not have English sub, but the actions speak for themselves.)|
Acting on Lord Yoon’s order, Kang Sun Ho’s subordinate kills Park Tae Soo.
Before Park Tae Soo dies, he warns Ok Nyeo about Lord Yoon and asks her to find his grandchild.
The Queen Mother questions why Park Tae Soo was the only one who died during the mission. And so, Lord Yoon orders Kang Sun Ho to frame Ok Nyeo for Park Tae Soo’s death.
Tae Won and his group continue on their way to try to sell their goods in Yanjing.
Tae Won and his trade group return to Hanyang after three months in Yanjing. Learning that Ok Nyeo is in prison, he visits her to confront her about what happened to the Ming envoy.
Meanwhile, Lord Yoon orders Chief Kang to kill Ok Nyeo.
Episode 9: The escape
Lord Yoo, Chief Kang, and his subordinate can’t find Ok Nyeo, and neither can Officer Ji.
Meanwhile, the Police Bureau raid Gong Jae Myung’s warehouse.
Episode 10: The confrontation
The Queen Mother and Lord Yoon are racing against each other in finding Ok Nyeo.
Lord Yoon pressures Sung Ji Heon (the Police Bureau’s chief administrative officer and his future son-in-law). The Police Bureau puts up wanted posters against Ok Nyeo all over the capital and offers a big reward for her capture. In time, the Bureau gets a lead and raids the hideout.
Ok Neo and Tae Won narrowly escape from the police, and Tae Won brings her to a new hiding place. Ok Nyeo suggests contacting the Queen Mother’s bodyguard, but Tae Won cautions her that the only person she can trust is herself.
Later on, the Queen Mother’s bodyguard visits Tae Won at the head merchant’s storage house. But at that very same time, the Police Bureau finds out about Ok Nyeo’s new hiding place.
1. Familiar dialogue – In this episode, Lady Kim tells Ok Nyeo about Tae Won: “I don’t know how close you are, but I hope you can soothe his spirit. He acts strong and cheery, but deep inside, he has many deep wounds.”
As I said, TFiP’s writer also wrote the highly-popular “Jumong.” In Episode 73 of “Jumong,” Lord Yuntabal tells Sosuhno about Jumong: “I’d like to think that the gods are finally giving you two a chance. This marriage will stop the feud, but you can also comfort him and share the pain he doesn’t dare to show.”
2. Familiar setting: The house where Tae Won takes Ok Nyeo has been used in numerous dramas before. In “Dong Yi,” it was the house of Lady Jang’s mother. In a later episode, Dong Yi met Chief Suh in this house. This house was also used in “The King's Doctor” in a scene involving Kayong and in “The Moon That Embraces The Sun.”
Episode 11: Back to Jeonokseo
The Queen Mother believes Ok Nyeo’s story about what happened to Park Tae Soo and so, she punishes Lord Yoon.
She also releases Ok Nyeo from her duties as a Joseon spy and reassigns her to Jeonokseo.
The Chief Warden wants to use Ok Nyeo to get promoted to a higher position. He assigns her as his personal assistant and then orders her to make lots of money for him from the prisoners.
Episode 12: The plot
|Episode 11 synopsis: The Queen Mother strips Lord Yoon of his positions and orders him locked up in Jeonokseo.|
Jang Nan Jung wants to regain the Queen Mother’s favor by killing the last of the court ladies and maids who served the Crown Prince some 20 years ago.
The Lady of Anguk-dong (estranged wife of Lord Yoon) begins to feel the effects of the poisoning. Ok Nyeo becomes suspicious of the kitchen maid.
Chun Doong continues his search for Park Tae Soo’s grandson, but the only lead he has is that the grandson was adopted by a rich family from Kaesong.
Ok Nyeo comes up with a plan to make money for the Chief Warden (and at the same time help Jeonokseo’s prisoners). With the Chief Warden’s approval, she releases a rich prisoner so he can run his business during daytime. But later on, the prisoner turns up dead.
Meanwhile, Ok Nyeo continues to investigate the reason for the failing health of the Lady of Anguk-dong (Lord Yoon’s legal wife).
Episode 13: Saving Tae Won
|Episode 12 synopsis: Ok Nyeo confirms that the Lady of Anguk-dong is slowly being poisoned by her kitchen maid. Tae Won follows the maid and sees her talking to Jung Nan Jung’s associate.|
Tae Won tells Ok Nyeo that he is Lord Yoon’s illegitimate son and that the Lady of Anguk-dong has been taking care of him since he was young.
Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung fabricate a treasonous plot that agitates the people and worries the Queen Mother. They have set up the merchant Lee Byung Woo as the plot’s financier. (As Lee Ji Ham tells Ok Nyeo, Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung have previously hatched these treasonous plots to get rid of their enemies.)
The Queen Mother releases Lord Yoon from prison so that he can deal with the treasonous plot. Lord Yoon orders Sung Ji Heom (Police Bureau Chief and his future son-in-law) to arrest and interrogate all government officials who have dealt with Lee Byung Woo and his business associates. Among those arrested is Tae Won.
Tae Won’s friends all try to help him. Ok Nyeo goes to the Palace to see the Queen Mother. So Jung, the gisaeng, sets up an appointment at Sosoru with Lord Yoon. And head merchant Gong Jae Myung orders his men to get him released from Jeonokseo immediately.
Meanwhile, Jung Nan Jung’s men attack Myung Seon, the kitchen maid of the Lady of Anguk-dong. On the other hand, Chun Doong spots in the market the court lady that Ok Nyeo has been looking for.
Episode 14: The revelation
|Episode 13 synopsis: Ok Nyeo tries to meet the Queen Mother and tell her about the fabricated plot, but she fails.|
Shun Hye, Lord Yoon’s daughter, bridges the gap between her father and the Queen Mother.
Myung Seon, the kitchen maid, is attacked by Jung Nan Jung’s men, but Ok Nyeo rescues her and hides her in Jeonokseo.
Jung Nan Jung cuts off the meeting at Sosoru between Lord Yoon and So Jung, the gisaeng.
Chun Doong finally meets the court lady with the double jade rings. But at knife-point, he is forced to reveal Ok Nyeo’s identity.
Head merchant Gong Jae Myung pleads with Lord Yoon to save Tae Won, his illegitimate son. Despite Jung Nan Jung’s objections, Lord Yoon orders her to release Tae Woon.
Ok Nyeo and Tae Won take Myung Seon to meet an officer of the Law Enforcement Bureau. But before Myung Seon can reveal who ordered the poisoning of the Lady of Anguk-dong, she is shot in the heart with an arrow.
To make matters worse, the Lady of Anguk-dong dies as a result of the poisoning ordered by Jung Nan Jung.
Drought hits the country, and food rations for Jeonokseo’s prisoners are cut in half.
Chun Doong has finally learned who Park Tae Soo’s grandson is.
Episode 15: The gold mine
|Episode 14 recap: Lord Yoon visits his wife’s funeral wake, and Tae Won confronts him by saying that Jung Nan Jung is responsible.|
Ok Nyeo plans to steal rice from Jung Nan Jung’s ship to help feed Jeonokseo’s prisoners.
The Queen Mother meets Ok Nyeo, who requests that Park Tae Soo’s status be restored.
Ok Nyeo finally learns that Sung Ji Heon (Lord Yoon’s future son-in-law) is Park Tae Soo’s grandson.
Because of the poor harvest, Jeonokseo’s food rations are further cut, and the prisoners are just about ready to riot.
Ok Nyeo meets Tae Won, Woo Chi, and Lee Ji Ham to map out their plan to steal rice from Jung Nan Jung.
Episode 16: The sting
|Episode 15 recap: Sung Ji Heon confirms that he is indeed an adopted child.|
Tae Won becomes the new head of Sosoru, the gisaeng house.
The king goes incognito to Jeonokseo and poses as a Law Enforcement Bureau official. Ok Nyeo rebukes him about the conditions of Jeonokseo’s prisoners.
Ok Nyeo and her group plan to trick Jung Nan Jung through her greed for gold and a fictitious gold mine.
The King wants to know more about Ok Nyeo.
Lord Yoon meets Gong Jae Myung and asks for his help in reaching out to Tae Woon.
Episode 17: Salt of the earth
|Episode 16 recap: Jung Na Jung falls completely for the scam, losing 10,000 nyang in the process. Ok Nyeo uses the money to buy rice for the prisoners.|
Tae Won rejects Lord Yoon’s offer of help or of a father-son relationship.
Ok Nyeo tells Sung Ji Heon that he’s the grandson of Park Tae Soo.
Lee Ji Ham advises Ok Nyeo to team up with Tae Won’s trade group about her plan.
Episode 18: The salt auction
|Episode 17 recap: Ok Nyeo takes Jeonokseo’s prisoners to work in the salt-making factory managed by Tae Won. With the cheap labor, Tae Won will be able to challenge Jung Nan Jung’s monopoly as salt supplier to the Price Policy Division.|
The King, posing this time as a Secret Inspector, has dinner with Ok Nyeo.
Tae Won meets Lord Yoon and asks him to ensure that the salt auction will be conducted fairly.
Sung Ji Heon wants to cancel his wedding with Lord Yoon’s daughter.
Ok Nyeo meets again the King (posing as a Secret Inspector) and tells him about Jeonokseo’s work-release program for its prisoners. She also tells him about the upcoming salt auction.
Jung Nan Jung plans to undercut Tae Won’s bid offer at the auction.
Episode 19: The secret ledgers
|Episode 18 synopsis: The lady with the double jade rings tells Ok Nyeo what her mother’s name could have been. Unknown to Ok Nyeo, her former spymaster observes her meeting.|
Jung Nan Jung wins the auction by offering the lowest bid, but she stands to lose some 8,000 nyang in the process.
Tae Won and his trade group are happy with the auction’s result. They tricked Jung Nan Jung because, through Ok Nyeo, they have already secured a buyer for all their salt — the King for the Joseon army.
Jung Nan Jung wants revenge for her huge financial loss, and so she connives with someone from Jeonokseo.
Later on, the Police Bureau Chief Sung Ji Heon arrests Ok Nyeo, Tae Won, Gong Mung Jae, and the Chief Warden.
Episode 20: The switch
|Episode 19 recap: Ok Nyeo fights off Jung Nan Jung’s men and escapes with the King/Secret Inspector. (Later on, the Queen Mother finds out that the King has gone incognito again into the city.)|
The Queen Mother scolds Lord Yoon for interfering with Jung Nan Jung’s fundraising activities for her.
Officer Joo breaks into the wall safe in the Chief Warden’s office. He steals the secret ledgers containing all the financial information on the salt-making activity. He then gives the ledgers to Jung Nan Jung.
Lord Yoon gives the ledgers to Police Bureau Chief Sung Ji Heon who then arrests Ok Nyeo, Tae Won, Gong Mung Jae, and the Chief Warden.
Everyone — Police Bureau Chief Sung Ji Heon, Treasurer Ji, and Chun Doong — tries to help Ok Nyeo in their own way.
When Jung Nan Jung finds out that Sung Ji Heon wants to cancel the wedding, she vows revenge against Ok Nyeo.
Episode 21: The judgment
|Episode 20 synopsis: Police Bureau Chief Sung Ji Heon tries to help Ok Nyeo (as his grandfather Park Tae Soo wanted him to do).|
Treasurer Ji and Chun Doong come up with a plan to switch someone else in the jail cell so that Ok Nyeo can escape. But Ok Nyeo refuses to leave Jeonokseo.
Meanwhile, Ok Nyeo’s former spymaster has been appointed to an obscure government office and secretly reports to the King. He tells the King about Ok Nyeo’s time as a government spy.
Gong Mung Jae makes a deal with Jung Nan Jung so that he can escape punishment.
Ok Nyeo tries to ask for help from the Queen Mother’s bodyguard, but he has been warned by Lord Yoon.
As revenge, Jung Nan Jung wants Ok Nyeo to be sentenced as a slave.
Ok Nyeo gets the severest penalty, but Sung Ji Heon appeals on her behalf.
When Jung Nan Jung finds out what Sung Ji Heon did for Ok Nyeo, she bluntly tells Lord Yoon to stick to their agreement about Ok Nyeo’s penalty.
Episode 22: Ok Nyeo and the bandits
The news that Ok Nyeo has been killed by bandits soon reaches Tae Won, Treasurer Ji, Lee Ji Ham, and the King himself.
As Lord Yoon fights for his life, the Queen Mother orders the arrest and interrogation of the suspects who are relatives of Prince Bongseong.
Tae Won orders Chung Doo to find out where the bandits are hiding out in Mount Chilsung.
Episode 23: A slave’s duties
|Episode 22 synopsis: The bandits plan to sell Ok Nyeo and their other female captives to slave traders from Ming.|
Tae Won and his men locate the bandits’s camp and attack it. But Ok Nyeo and the other women are no longer in the camp. Tae Won begins thinking that Ok Nyeo has already been sold as a slave to Ming.
Ok Nyeo and the other captives escape, but Ok Nyeo gets slashed by a bandit. She collapses at the gate of Haeju Provincial Office; luckily, the newly-transferred Sung Ji Heon recognizes her.
Lord Yoon offers to Tae Won any government position he wants; with the Queen Mother’s approval, discrimination against illegitimates is now banned.
As a slave, Ok Nyeo will be forced to have sex with government officials.
Episode 24: Digging up dirt and looking for treasure
|Episode 23 recap: Sung Ji Heon lies to the King’s bodyguard, telling him that Ok Nyeo is dead.|
Tae Won asks Lord Yoon to appoint him as the chief of the Price Policy Division.
Despite the Queen Mother’s anger, the King stands firm on his appointment of Lord Lee as Minister of Defense.
The King’s trusted court lady was close friends with Ga Bi — who might be Ok Nyeo’s mother.
Ok Nyeo pretends to be a spirit-possessed fortuneteller.
Sung Ji Heom asks Ok Nyeo to help him find Park Tae Soo’s treasure.
The governor remembers the Royal Decree giving Ok Nyeo as a private slave to Prince Deokheung. And so, he orders Ok Nyeo to entertain the Prince.
Meanwhile, Tae Won orders Do Chi and Chun Doong to go to Kaesong to dig up all the dirt they can on Sung Hwan Wook, Kaesong’s richest merchant and Sung Ji Heon’s father.
Episode 25: The Book of Changes
|Episode 24 recap: Ok Nyeo reads Prince Deokheung’s fortune and tells him that one of his sons will reach the “highest position” in government.|
Inside a cave, Ok Nyeo and Sung Ji Heon find Park Tae Soo’s treasure chest filled with gold; they also find a letter from the Ming Emperor thanking Park Tae Soo for his help against the Jurchens.
The former Chief Warden and Woo Chi trick Officer Joo into thinking that his bribe-taking activities have been found out by the authorities.
Tae Won finds out that Sung Hwan Wook has been trading illegal items like gunpowder. He and the officials of the Price Policy Division raid Sung Hwan Wook’s offices, confiscating documents and the illegal items. Sung Hwan Wook is found guilty, and all his trade goods and wealth are ordered confiscated.
But Sung Hwan Wook suffers from an apparent heart attack and dies. Sung Ji Heon thus vows vengeance against Lord Yoon and Tae Woon.
The Queen Mother imposes on the King a list of officials that she wants to be promoted.
The Commissioner of Sogyeokseo — government bureau in charge of rituals and prayers — is coming from the capital to Haeju to perform a ritual of blessing for Haeju’s fishermen.
Episode 26: The Queen Mother, the King, and Tae Won
The Queen Mother meets Lord Yoon and Tae Won. She asks Tae Won to find the money to pay for her latest project. Later on, based on a tip from Sosoru’s gisaengs, Tae Won comes up with an idea on how to raise the money.
The King, however, opposes the Queen Mother’s project.
Sung Ji Heon also goes back to the capital and then confronts Tae Won.
Episode 27: Paper chase
Tae Won uses Lord Yoon to get government officials to agree with his plan on monopolizing the supply of paper for the state exams.
Ok Nyeo and Sung Ji Heon begin organizing their own trade group. She gives Chun Doong and his minions different responsibilities.
Later on, Ok Nyeo meets the Secret Inspector (aka the King) to give him some vital information.
Episode 28: The plague
Sung Ji Heon and Ok Nyeo begin planning the next moves for their trade group.
Officer Joo is released back to Jeonokseo.
The conflict between the King and the Queen Mother worsens, with both sides calling on people who can support them.
The Queen Mother gives Jung Nan Jung the go-signal to start their plans involving Sogyeokseo (the government office in charge of rituals and prayers) and turning the people’s sentiments in their favor.
Episode 29: The ritual
|Episode 28 recap: To raise the funds needed by the Queen Mother, Tae Won increases dramatically the taxes on all trade groups in the capital — with Jung Nan Jung’s trade group exempted from paying the tax.|
Sung Ji Heon and Ok Nyeo want to integrate the small trade groups into their own group.
Lee Ji Ham also agrees to join Ok Nyeo’s group so that he can teach business skills to poor people.
Shin Hye continues to beg Sung Ji Heon for forgiveness.
The Queen Mother’s bodyguard releases Officer Joo back to Jeonokseo under a demoted status and orders him to find out why the hair pin ended up there.
The King asks his elder brother to support him against the Queen Mother.
Acting on Chief Kang’s instructions, the lady with the double jade rings enters Jun Nan Jung’s household as a cook.
On the Queen Mother’s orders, Jung Nan Jung’s men start poisoning the livestock and the water supply.
Ok Nyeo tells the Secret Inspector (aka the King) about how the Queen Mother and Jun Nan Jung could be involved with the plague.
As Ok Nyeo goes home after meeting the Secret Inspector, Tae Won confronts her at the bridge.
Note: Familiar setting - the bridge looks like the one where Kwang-hyun and Jinyung oftentimes met in “The King’s Doctor.”
News about the plague starts spreading, and people begin to panic. Businesses are shut down, and a whole village outside the capital is quarantined.
The Queen Mother meets Lord Yoon and Tae Won, telling them why she and Jung Nan Jung “manufactured” the plague. She also asks Tae Won to use the plague to raise money.
The Queen Mother then meets the King, telling him that, for the sake of the people, he must lead a ritual prepared by Sogyeokseo that will appease the angry spirits.
Ok Nyeo begins investigating whether the plague is real by bringing along a doctor (a former Jeonokseo inmate) to the quarantined village.
Jung Nan Jung begins raking in the profits from the business that she has put up to take advantage of the plague.
Shin Hye sees Sung Ji Heon together with Ok Nyeo and, in her jealousy, decides on a drastic plan against Ok Nyeo.
Episode 30: Tae Won, the Queen Mother, and the King
|Episode 29 recap: Ok Nyeo tells Tae Won that he has become just like Jung Nan Jung.|
Through the plague, the Queen Mother wants to control the King. The commonly-held belief has been that plagues are brought about by a king’s lack of moral virtue. In the ritual, the King accepts responsibility for the plague. Later on, the King is confined to the Palace to continuously pray for the lifting of the plague.
Jung Nan Jung has bribed doctors at the government-run free clinics to report common flu symptoms as that of the plague. With the ritual further fueling the people’s fears, she begins raking in the profits by selling medicinal herbs at exorbitant prices.
But the doctor that Ok Nyeo consulted confirms that there is no plague at all.
For reasons known only to himself, Tae Won orders the Price Policy Division to release from its storage all its stocks of medicinal herbs and to sell them at prices much lower than those of Jung Nan Jung. Meanwhile, Sung Ji Heon and his group decide to steal Jung Nan Jung’s incoming cargo of medicinal herbs.
An extremely-jealous Shin Hye pays some men to kidnap Ok Nyeo. But her mother Jung Nan Jung finds out about it and slaps her, ordering her to forget Sung Ji Heon. Jung Nan Jung then tells Ok Nyeo that they must end their ill-fated relationship once and for all.
Later on, Jung Nan Jung finds out that Tae Won has released the Price Policy Division’s stock of medicinal herbs, leading to her huge financial loss. She hurriedly tells the Queen Mother about it. The Queen Mother orders Tae Won to come to the Palace
Under the watchful eyes of Sogyeokseo officials, the King continues to be confined to the Palace, offering prayers for the lifting of the plague.
Episode 31: The art of politics
The Secret Inspector (aka the King) meets Ok Nyeo, who wonders where he has been all this time.
Tae Won visits the Gong Jae Myung’s trade group headquarters.
Lord Yoon appeals to the Queen Mother to help Jung Nan Jung.
After meeting Sung Ji Heon, Lord Lee and Chief Kang meet the King. Lord Lee advises the King about the art of politics and how he can gain the political power he needs in order to successfully challenge Lord Yoon and the Queen Mother.
1. I finished watching “Six Flying Dragons” several weeks ago, and I think that the “three censoring offices” mentioned in this episode refer to those offices created by Jeong Do-jeon. The offices were meant to serve as a checks-and-balances system among the ministers and the King.
2. The woman who plays the King’s attendant was one of the lady-physicians in “A Jewel in the Palace” and one of the damos in “Yi san, A Wind in the Palace.”
The man who plays the bodyguard of Jung Nan Jung’s head merchant played “Oi,” the pickpocket-turned-loyal friend and warrior in “Jumong” (2007) and also the minor government official hopelessly infatuated with Dong Yi in “Dong Yi” (2010).
Episode 32: The Queen Mother’s secret
|Episode 31 recap: Jung Nan Jung’s head merchant and the bodyguard are tortured, but they refuse to confess or implicate her.|
Ok Nyeo tells the Secret Inspector that her mother was a court maid and that Lord Yoon ordered her killed.
Treasurer Ji tells Ok Nyeo about her mother;s precious hair pin and how Jung Nan Jung got hold of it. Ok Nyeo tells the King’s attendant about the hair pin.
Lord Lee meets Sung Ji Heon and asks him if he wants to go into politics.
Lord Lee advises the King to release Jung Nan Jung. In exchange, the Queen Mother and Lord Yoon must allow the King to place someone of his choice as the head of the Ministry of Government Administration — a powerful office in charge of the three censoring offices.
The King asks his attendant Lady Han about the mysterious deaths of the court ladies and maids who served his half-brother, King Injong.
The King also asks the Queen Mother about these mysterious deaths and of Lord Yoon’s possible involvement.
Later on, the Queen Mother tells Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung that they must find and kill that person who is secretly telling things to the King and influencing him. The Queen Mother also tells her bodyguard to start tailing the King when he goes incognito outside the Palace.
Lord Yoon finds out that Tae Won told the King about how Jung Nan Jung faked the plague. At Sosoru, he angrily asks Tae Won why he did so and if he’s been deceiving him by acting like a good son.
Episode 33: Ok Nyeo’s father
Tae Won tries to convince Ok Nyeo not to meet with the Secret Inspector, but what Ok Nyeo says stuns him.
The King/Secret Inspector goes to Sosoru and later on, returns drunk to the Palace.
Sung Ji Heon is appointed as Minister of Government Administration. When Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung learn about his appointment, they become apprehensive.
Ok Nyeo now manages Sung Ji Heon’s trade group and begins taking in small merchants as partners. But their trade group’s activities begin to affect Tae Won and Gong Jae Myung’s own plans.
The King’s attendant Lady Han meets Chief Kang and the lady with the double jade rings. Lady Han tells them who Ok Nyeo’s father could possibly be.
Episode 34: Last words from Ok Nyeo’s mother
The Secret Inspector tells Ok Nyeo that people in the Palace are watching him, and that for her safety, they have to meet by some other means.
The elderly woman who helped deliver Ok Nyeo tells Chief Kang about the last words that Ok Nyeo’s mother told her.
Chun Doong and his minion beg Dong Chang to allow them to work again for Jung Nan Jung’s trade group.
Gong Jae Myung tells Tae Won that it is Sung Ji Heon and Ok Nyeo’s trade group that is partnering with all the small merchants in the capital.
Sung Ji Heon and Tae Won meet each other in the Palace.
Lady Min (Jung Nan Jung’s head merchant) goes to Jeonokseo to ask a favor from the Chief Warden.
The Queen Mother looks at the hair pin that Jung Nan Jung gave her. Her bodyguard later tells her that he has ordered Officer Joo to find out why the hair pin ended up in Jeonokseo. The Queen Mother suddenly remembers Ok Nyeo, and she orders her bodyguard to bring Ok Nyeo to her.
Episode 35: The legal officers
|Episode 34 recap: The elderly woman tells Chief Kang that Ga Bi (Ok Nyeo’s mother) told her to inform Palace guard Lee Myung Yeon that she had given birth. But when she went to the guard’s house, she saw soldiers arresting all his family members.|
Chief Kang reports these things to Lady Han and the woman with the double jade rings. They wonder if Palace guard Lee Myung Yeon is Ok Nyeo’s father. But why would Ga Bi have the hair pin with her?
Woo Chi orders Chun Doong and his minion to continue spying on Jung Nan Jung’s trade group.
Tae Won’s men at the Price Policy Division tell him that Jung Nan Jung’s man bribed them into revealing what his plans are for the upcoming harvest festival.
Sung Ji Heon warns Tae Won that with his new position, he can get Tae Won kicked out of the Price Policy Division.
Ok Nyeo meets Lee Ji Ham after his long absence.
Lady Min asks the Chief Warden to release a prisoner from Jeonokseo. (She plans on killing the prisoner to prevent him from talking to the authorities about the illegal activities of Jung Nan Jung’s trade group.)
The Queen Mother becomes upset upon learning that Ok Nyeo has been sent to Haeju as a slave. But she feels relieved upon being informed that Ok Nyeo is now working for Sogyeokseo. She orders her bodyguard to bring Ok Nyeo to her.
As Ok Nyeo is about to enter the Queen’s quarters, the King/Secret Inspector sees her. He quickly orders his entourage to turn around and go back to his Palace.
The Queen Mother shows Ok Nyeo the hair pin and orders her to find out why it ended up in Jeonokseo.
Lady Han tells Ok Nyeo that she must never tell the Queen Mother about what she knows about the hair pin.
Acting on the Chief Warden’s instructions, Treasurer Ji releases the prisoner. But later on, the prisoner is found murdered, and Treasurer Ji is arrested.
Ok Nyeo orders Chun Doong and her other men to find out all they can about Jin Soo Myung and his relationship with Jung Nan Jung. She also seeks Chief Kang’s help, but he has left the capital.
The Queen Mother and Jung Nan Jung meet to plan the Taoist prayer ceremony. The Commissioner of Sogyeokseo arrives later on with Ok Nyeo. After giving instructions to the Commissioner about the ceremony, the Queen Mother asks him and Jung Nan Jung to leave so she can talk to Ok Nyeo in private.
After finding out that Jin Soo Myung has been killed, Jung Nan Jung confronts her brother and head merchant Lady Min.
Lady Han tells the King that the Queen Mother is preparing the Taoist prayer ceremony with Sogyeokseo and that he is required to attend the ceremony.
Sung Ji Heon meets the King and proposes a radical solution to diminish the Queen Mother’s power.
Tae Won finds out about Treasurer Ji’s plight. He confers with Ok Nyeo about hiring a “legal officer” to defend Treasurer Ji. But there’s one problem as Gong Jae Myung explained — all the legal officers have been expelled by the government 10 years ago.
Episode 36: Ok Nyeo, defense lawyer!
|Episode 35 recap: The Police Bureau investigator says that several gisaengs witnessed how Treasurer Ji quarreled with Jin Soo Myung. Also, someone actually witnessed the murder.|
Ok Nyeo finds out that Jin Soo Myung secretly manages Jung Nan Jung’s funds and has several gambling dens. She also finds out that Treasurer Ji has gambling debts with Jin Soo Myung.
Chun Doong and his minion sneak into the crime scene and find Jin Soo Myung’s ledgers in a secret safe. They give the ledgers to Ok Nyeo.
Chief Kang has left the capital looking for Palace guard Lee Myung Yeon.
OK Nyeo tells the Queen Mother that a “damo” simply found the hair pin while she was cleaning up at Jeonokseo. When Ok Nyeo asks the Queen Mother about the hair pin’s significance, the Queen Mother’s answer stuns her — the pin was given to the court maids and ladies who shared King Jungjong’s bed.
Lady Min ordered the killing of Jin Soo Myung because he knew that she has been secretly taking kickbacks from Jung Nan Jung’s businesses.
Sung Ji Heon tells the King that the Queen Mother has long used Sogyeokseo to consolidate her power. He advises the King to abolish Sogyeokseo, just like what King Jungjong did.
The King then visits the Queen Mother and informs her that he will abolish Sogyeokseo.
Ok Nyeo tells her trade group that if it becomes necessary, she will leave Jeonokseo and act as Treasurer Ji’s legal officer.
1. To better appreciate this episode, please read the references below on “waeji bu” and the Joseon Dynasty’s legal system.
2. In Episode 60 of “Dong Yi,” Dong Yi leaves the Palace after her son is adopted by the Queen. She turns her private residence as a welfare center for the poor folks in the city. To the exasperation of the local officials, she also becomes a “waeji bu” in helping poor defendants.
3. In “Yi San, A Wind in the Palace,” Jeong Yak-yong (Dasan) is a Sungkyungkwan scholar who’s frequently cutting classes. But later on, he becomes Yi San’s favorite official and the architect of Hwaseong Fortress. Before he met Yi San, Dasan helped poor defendants with their legal cases for free. So he probably was also a “weiju bu.”
Tae Won finds and tries to convince a former legal officer to defend Treasurer Ji.
Chief Kang continues to look for the Palace guard who could shed light on Ok Nyeo’s real identity.
With Officer Yang, Chun Doong, and her other men’s help, Ok Nyeo investigates the backgrounds of the murder victim, the alleged eyewitness, and the autopsy examiner.
Later on, Ok Nyeo tells the Commissioner of Sogyeokseo that she will resign in order to become her foster father’s legal officer. But the Commissioner warns her that if she resigns, she will become a slave again.
References on “waeji bu” and the Joseon Dynasty’s legal system:
1. From website of Korea’s Supreme Court:
Joseon had an even more sophisticated system, in which petty civil and criminal cases were handled by local heads of administration, while the governor of each province took care of the appellate cases in addition to the first instance trials of serious criminal cases. Royal secret investigators sometimes took charge of local trials, serving as a sort of irregular circuit court. Citizens who lost an appellate case against a governor were able to appeal to the central government’s Ministry of Justice. The ministry handled civil and criminal trials in addition to general legal affairs, while acting as the final appeals court run on an agreement basis. Further, various government agencies carried out judicial functions: Saheonbu rectified false charges; Hanseongbu, the city government of Seoul, took charge of trials relating to family or real estate registration; and Euigeumbu handled crimes of the royal family members or treason.
2. From “Notes On The Development Of Korean Law” by Michal Tomášek
The Korean legal order of the Joseon period was elaborated on to great perfection in the sphere of criminal procedure. Criminal proceeding was governed by the principle of inquisition. The judge – the inquirer – centralized in his hand all procedural acts, and he himself collected all material pointing to conviction, but also to the defence of the accused, and he alone also made the decision in the matter. The accused was the passive party of the trial and his rights were very limited. The Korean judicial trial did not, in principle, have the form of a suit as is the modern accusatorial process, where the plaintiff is master of the suit (dominus litis).
The main goal of the process before the court at the time was not to prove the guilt of the accused, which was presumed, but rather to obtain his confession.
The court was supposed to obtain a confession above all with the aid of proof; if the means of proof did not suffice, even persuasive means of physical force were permitted. The degree of using physical force in obtaining a confession was mostly given by law or judicial precedent, but in practice it often depended on the volition of the court official.
3. From “Go Soo, Jin Se-yeon for MBC sageuk Flower in Prison”
The drama will deal with the Joseon legal system, in particular the people who argued on behalf of wronged citizens. They weren’t government officials who handled lawsuits, but would help ordinary people interpret the law and handle lawsuits for them, in a time when the legal code was written solely in hanja and thus out of the reach of understanding for commoners. In essence, it was a precursor to the modern legal system, with lawyers serving as intermediaries between the people and the courts.
Episode 37: Betrayal
While Ok Nyeo, Treasurer Ji, and the others rejoice over the King’s approval of the exhumation, the King himself becomes interested in the “waeji bu” system.
(Before they went into the trial, Tae Won advised Ok Nyeo about the techniques of conducting a trial that the former legal officer taught him.)
Tae Won meets again the former legal officer about his plan of training more legal officers to help poor defendants.
Lady Min and Mak Gae (Jung Nan Jung’s brother) panic over the exhumation and new autopsy. She orders Dong Chang to silence everyone involved.
The Queen Mother becomes sick and goes into a hunger strike against the King. She orders Lord Yoon to kill all those advising the King.
Sung Ji Heon meets his staff on their next move to weaken the Queen Mother’s power.
While Ok Nyeo and the others are waiting for the results of the new autopsy, the Commissioner of Sogyeokseo orders her arrested and reported to the Bureau of Slave Administration.
Episode 38: Royal scandal
Jung Nan Jung wants Ok Nyeo killed, but Lord Yoon says that he can use Ok Nyeo against the King. When they meet Ok Nyeo, Lord Yoon tells her to work for him since Sogyeokseo will reopen later.
Ok Nyeo tells Chief Kang about Lord Yoon’s offer.
Lady Min and Dong Chang visit Tae Won at the Price Policy Division to ask for help in transporting their goods.
On Tae Won’s instructions, Gong Jae Myung begins hiring men who will be trained as “waeji bu” (legal officers).
The Queen Mother refuses to see the Royal physicians, and so the King personally takes the medicine to her.
One of Ok Nyeo’s men tells her that Dong Chang ordered him to kill the Police Investigator and the eyewitness. Ok Nyeo then meets with Officer Yang.
Lady Min (the King’s attendant) is surprised that Ok Nyeo now knows about the hair pin’s significance. She tells Ok Nyeo the possibilities of who her father could be. (Later, Chief Kang receives news about the Palace guard who might know about Ok Nyeo’s father.)
Lord Yoon meets the King and tells him that rumors are circulating among the people that the King is meeting secretly and having an intimate relationship with a shaman (Ok Nyeo). Lord Yoon warns him that this could create chaos among government ministers and bring him down as King.
Episode 39: Ok Nyeo’s father revealed
|Episode 38 recap: Lord Yoon plans to use the King and Ok Nyeo’s relationship to stir unrest among the Sa-rim faction of government ministers. The faction supports the King but hates Taoism and superstition; with Ok Nyeo being a shaman at Sogyeokseo, Lord Yoon thinks he can manipulate the King to do whatever he wants. He pressures the King to punish Ok Nyeo severely.|
When Lord Yoon confronts Tae Won about his own relationship with Ok Nyeo, Tae Won says that he has feelings for Ok Nyeo. He also says that the King and Ok Nyeo are definitely not having an intimate relationship.
Tae Won tells his men at the Price Policy Division to order ship owners not to transport Jung Nan Jung’s goods to the capital.
So Jung, one of Sosoru’s gisaengs, wants to help Tae Won with his plans of training legal officers.
Based on Ok Nyeo’s information, Officer Yang arrests Mak Gae (Jung Nan Jung’s brother) for the murder of Jin Soo Myung. But Jung Nan Jung uses her influence over the Commissioner of the Police Bureau to have Mak Gae released.
The King offers the medicine to the Queen Mother, but she intentionally spills it and orders him to leave.
Lady Min tells Ok Nyeo that her father could either be King Jungjong or the Palace guard who disappeared together with her mother. Later, Chief Kang receives news that the guard has returned to his house from Ming.
Lord Yoon tells the King that the Sa-rim faction of government ministers will abandon him if they ever find out about his relationship with Ok Nyeo. The King decides that it’s time for Ok Nyeo to learn that he and the Secret Inspector are one and the same person. He orders his bodyguard to bring Ok Nyeo to the Palace.
The King hesitates in revealing himself to Ok Nyeo and so meets her in the Palace again as the Secret Inspector.
Chief Kang finally meets the Palace guard who disappeared with Ga Bi years ago. The guard tells him who Ok Nyeo’s father is.
Gong Jae Myung continues to work on Tae Won’s plans of training and fielding the legal officers, while So Jung suggests other areas where the officers can help.
Lord Yoon refuses to back down from investigating the truth about the King and Ok Nyeo’s secret meetings. The King thus begins firming up a plan to protect Ok Nyeo.
As Mak Gae is released from prison, Jung Nan Jung finds out from Dong Chang about Ok Nyeo and Sung Ji Heon’s trade group and how its operations threaten her businesses.
But all businesses in Joseon are threatened when Ming closes its borders to all trade groups. Lord Yoon tells his allies that the broken relations with Ming provide them an opportunity against Lord Lee as Minister of Defense.
Disregarding Lord Yoon’s plans of using Ok Nyeo against the King, Jung Nan Jung orders Mak Gae to find an assassin to kill Ok Nyeo.
When Ok Nyeo and her bodyguard reach Treasurer Ji’s house, they are attacked by the assassin and his men.
Episode 40: Ga Bi, the Palace guard, and King Jungjong
|Episode 39 recap: The Secret Inspector (aka the King) tells Ok Nyeo that she can become a court maid and then later on a Royal Consort. But Ok Nyeo says she’s in love with Tae Won. She says, “It’s a hopeless love. So the more I think of him, the more it breaks my heart.”|
The Palace guard tells Chief Kang that King Jungjong is Ok Nyeo’s father; thus, she is the half-sister of the present King.
But the King doesn’t know about his blood relationship with Ok Nyeo, and so when Lord Yoon refuses to back down, he orders Lady Han to prepare for Ok Nyeo’s appointment as a court maid and later as Royal Consort.
Ok Nyeo gets slashed several times by the assassins, but Tae Won and his group arrive just in time to rescue her.
Tae Won continues to look after Ok Nyeo. When the Royal Physician reports to the King that Ok Nyeo is critically injured, the King tells his bodyguard that he wants to visit her.
The Queen Mother, Lord Yoon, and their allies plot to use the broken relations with Ming to their advantage. Meanwhile, the King meets with Sung Ji Heon and his staff to plan their counter-moves.
Jung Nan Jung uses Ok Nyeo’s absence to retaliate against the merchants who have partnered with her and Sung Ji Heon’s trade group.
Chief Kang finds out who the assassin is and goes after him.
Tae Woon storms into Lord Yoon’s residence. After meeting Lord Yoon, he confronts Jung Nan Jung.
Chief Kang visits Ok Nyeo, who’s now recovering from her injuries. He tells Ok Nyeo that the Palace guard — who was with her mother before she died — is living in Icheon and wants to meet her.
Ok Nyeo travels to Icheon, under guard, in a palanquin. Arriving at the house, she’s totally surprised when the Palace guard calls her “Princess” and Chief Kang bows to her.
Episode 41: Ok Nyeo and the King
Ok Nyeo tells Chief Kang, Lady Han, and the others not to call her “Princess” or to reveal her royal status.
Despite her bodyguard’s objections, Ok Nyeo goes to Lord Yoon’s house and confronts Jung Nan Jung.
Ok Nyeo later visits Tae Won at Sosoru.
Treasurer Ji tells everyone that he and Yoo Geum are getting married. Meanwhile, Woo Chi and another guy begin practicing as “waeji bu” in Jeonokseo.
The Ming envoy is an old friend of Lord Yoon. Besides wining and dining the envoy, Lord Yoon bribes him with 50,000 nyang in silver.
The Ming envoy connives with Lord Yoon, and when they meet the King in the Palace, the envoy demands that Lord Lee — Minister of Defense and the King’s chief ally — must be sent to Ming and be punished according to its laws.
Episode 42: The Ming Emperor’s letter
The King apologizes to Ok Nyeo for hiding his true identity and pretending to be merely a Secret Inspector. In turn, Ok Nyeo gives to the King Park the letter of recognition bestowed on Park Tae Soo by the late Ming Emperor.
When Ok Nyeo leaves the Palace, she remembers all the things she said and did with the Secret Inspector. Later, she visits Tae Won at Sosoru.
Lord Yoon connives with the Ming envoy about threatening the King if he doesn’t finally order Lord Lee and the others to be taken to Ming.
Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung reveal to the Queen Mother that Ok Nyeo has been meeting the King in secret outside the Palace and that she has actually been foiling the Queen Mother’s plans.
Tae Won and Ok Nyeo continue to work on their plans for the legal officers. Later, Ok Nyeo is reassigned to Jeonokseo.
Ok Nyeo and Chief Kang decide that it’s time to fight Lord Yoon, Jung Nan Jung, and the Queen Mother with “blood and swords.”
Episode 43: Jung Nan Jung finds out about Ga Bi
The Queen Mother’s bodyguard takes Ok Nyeo to the Queen Mother’s quarters. When the King finds out about it, he hurriedly goes there to make sure that Ok Nyeo is safe.
Jung Nan Jung is pressured to pay back by the head merchants who provided her with the bribe money given to the Ming envoy. Knowing how financially-strapped she is, Woo Chi and the rest of Ok Nyeo’s men plan out a con against her using the ginseng trade between Joseon and Ming.
At Jeonokseo, Ok Nyeo and Tae Won try to help a young boy accused of trying to kill a nobleman (who’s a cousin of Jung Nan Jung).
Mak Gae and his men continue to search for (former court lady) Min Soo Ok, the one who poisoned Jung Nan Jung on Chief Kang’s order.
Chief Kang sends Min Soo Ok and her bodyguards to a safehouse, but on their way there, she is spotted in the marketplace by Song Geum (Jung Nan Jung’s servant).
At the Palace, something happens to the King.
Note: Familiar setting - In the scene below, Make Gae and his men raid the house of former court lady Min Soo Ok. This house looks like the house-in-exile of deposed Queen Inhyeon in “Dong Yi.”
Episode 44: The King’s critical condition; Jung Nan Jung and Ga Bi’s hair pin
Before OK Nyeo and her men can rescue Min Soo Ok, she cracks under torture and tells Jung Nan Jung that Ga Bi died in front of Jeonokseo.
Jung Nan Jung and Mak Gae plan to take revenge against Chief Kang.
At Eon Nom’s trial for trying to kill a nobleman, Tae Won acts as his legal officer. But the nobleman seeks the help of his cousin Jung Nan Jung.
The Royal Physician says that if the King doesn’t regain consciousness within three days, he will die. The Queen Mother, Lord Yoon, and the ministers are thrown into crisis because the King doesn’t have an heir.
Ok Nyeo finds out about the King’s critical condition. Through Lady Han, she secretly visits the King. But the Queen Mother, after praying in a Buddhist temple, also decides to visit the King.
Episode 45: Jung Nan Jung closes in on Ok Nyeo’s real identity
When the Queen Mother arrives, the King pretends to be still unconscious, and Ok Nyeo hides behind a walll. The Queen Mother “confesses” all her hurts and disappointments and her responsibility for what’s happening to the King.
Tae Won is charged for disrupting the Police Bureau’s proceedings. On his own initiative, Gong Jae Myung pleads with Lord Yoon to help Tae Won.
Ok Nyeo’s men take matters into their hands and deal with the nobleman.
At Jeonokseo, Ok Nyeo and Tae Won reflect on whether they’re really making a difference as legal officers.
Jeo Chool Gi (Chief Kang’s former subordinate and Ok Nyeo’s trainer) gives Chief Kang a final warning. Later, he orders his men to bring Cho Hee (Ok Nyeo’s bodyguard) to him.
Jeo Chool Gi also asks Jeonokseo’s Officer Yoo to find out everything about the woman who gave birth in front of Jeonokseo some 18-20 years ago.
Lord Yoon and the other ministers urge the Queen Mother to consider who the “heir to the throne” will be in case the King dies.
The King is informed by the Royal Physician that, because of the severity of his sickness, he can die at any time. Later, he orders his bodyguard to bring Tae Won to him.
Note: Familiar setting - This stairway was used in other dramas like “Dong Yi” (probably Ep. 28 when Dong Yi was trying to reach the King) and “The Moon That Embraces The Sun”(either Ep. 10 or 11 when the King discovers the similarities in handwriting and orders that shaman Weol be brought to him).
If I remember correctly, this stairway was also used in “Jumong” and in “Queen Seondok.”
Episode 46: The race for the King’s successor
|Episode 45 recap: Despite the Queen Mother’s admission of her faults that led to the King’s condition, she does not regret having killed all the court ladies and maids years ago.|
Hearing everything that the Queen Mother said, Ok Nyeo decides that it’s not the right time to tell the King about her royal status.
Ok Nyeo’s men beat up the nobleman. At Jeonokseo, Tae Won tells Ok Nyeo that “the law is a means and a weapon for those in power.” Recalling what her men did to the nobleman, Ok Nyeo says she’s thinking of an “eye for eye” retaliation.
Lord Yoon seems to be willing to help Tae Won, but Jung Nan Jung is angry and says that Tae Won must be taught a lesson.
Jeo Chool Gi asks Chief Kang to change sides over to Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung. He also tells Cho Hee to betray Ok Nyeo.
The Queen Mother refuses to consider any possible “heir to the throne” among the other princes and says that the King is young and can still produce his own heir. The other ministers tell Lord Yoon that they must take matters into their own hands and decide who will succeed the King.
The King orders Tae Won released from Jeonokseo and promises to look into Eon Nom’s case. He orders Tae Won to protect Ok Nyeo if anything happens to him.
Officer Yoo gets Treasurer Ji drunk, and Treasurer Ji tells him about an injured woman who gave birth to Ok Nyeo some 18-20 years ago.
Jung Nan Jung is stunned when Jeo Chool Gi tells her that Ga Bi’s child is none other than Ok Nyeo herself.
Later, Jeo Chool Gi stops Ok Nyeo as she is walking alone on a deserted street at night.
Jung Nan Jung orders Jeo Chool Gi (Chief Kang’s former subordinate and Ok Nyeo’s trainer) to take Ok Nyeo to her, but Ok Nyeo refuses to go. As Jeo Chool Gi draws his sword to threaten Ok Nyeo, Tae Won arrives.
Jung Nan Jung wants to be sure who Ok Nyeo’s father really is. And so she orders Jeo Chool Gi to look for the Palace guard who disappeared with Ga Bi some 20 years ago.
Young Ji (the damo at the Queen Mother’s quarters) reports to Ok Nyeo on how Lord Yoon and the ministers are pressuring the Queen Mother about a possible successor to the King.
The King meets with Chief Kang and Sung Ji Heon and, despite their misgivings, gives them a royal order.
The Queen Mother thinks about Lord Yoon’s suggestion for her to meet all the available princes and to choose from among them the King’s successor. Later, she visits the King and proposes something to him.
But the ministers have already decided by themselves who the King’s successor will be. They reason out: “The younger the successor is, the easier it will be for us to manipulate him.”
Episode 47: Tae Won and Princess Ok Nyeo; the King and Palace guard Lee Myung Yeon
|Episode 46 recap: Tae Won tells Ok Nyeo that the King has given him a royal order to protect her from Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung. He asks Ok Nyeo, “May I, as a man, protect you from now on?” Ok Nyeo replies, “I harbor resentments against Lord Yoon, Jung Nan Jung, and the Queen Mother. My mind is filled with grudges, and I have secrets that I cannot tell you yet. But I wish to be with you.”|
The Queen Mother asks the King to take in more concubines, with the hope that one of them will bear him a son.
Lady Min (Jung Nan Jung’s head merchant) discovers Ok Nyeo’s plan about the sale of ginseng. She plans to bankrupt Ok Nyeo’s group by buying the ginseng at extremely low prices and by threatening the other merchants not to buy from Ok Yeo.
The King orders Chief Kang and Sung Ji Heon to find out who among the princes has the merits to succeed him. But the ministers have already decided that Prince Deokheung’s youngest son must succeed the King.
On Jung Nan Jung’s orders, Jeo Chool Gi kidnaps Palace guard Lee Myung Heon, Treasurer Ji, and the midwife who helped Ga Bi. He also kills former court maid Min Soo Ok.
Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung promptly begin torturing Palace guard Lee to force him to reveal everything about Ga Bi.
Acting on the King’s instructions, Tae Won meets Chief Kang in the cave. While there, he overhears Chief Kang addressing Ok Nyeo as “Your Highness.”
Chief Kang explains to Tae Won that Ok Nyeo’s father is King Jungjong and that she is therefore the King’s half-sister. Tae Won begins speaking to Ok Nyeo using honorifics.
Chief Kang, Ok Nyeo, and their warriors raid the house where Palace guard Lee is being held.
Ok Nyeo’s trade group faces bankruptcy as they cannot sell their stocks of ginseng to anyone.
The King tells the Ming envoy that he can return home only if he reveals his dealing with Lord Yoon and the ministers. At the assembly, the King orders Lord Lee (Minister of Defense) to investigate the Ming envoy’s connections with the ministers.
But Lord Yoon sidesteps the matter; with the other ministers, he petitions the King to investigate Chief Kang for a treasonous act — harboring a Palace guard who escaped, together with a court maid, from the Palace some 20 years ago. Lord Lee and Sung Ji Heon try to defend Chief Kang, but the ministers gang up on them. Soon enough, soldiers are sent to arrest Chief Kang.
Episode 48: Tae Won as Special Prosecutor, Ok Nyeo as a bargaining chip
|Episode 47 recap: Tae Won tells Ok Nyeo that there’s no hope for a relationship between an illegitimate son and a princess. But Ok Nyeo says that nothing has changed between them.|
The rescue attempt fails because Lord Yoon has already moved Palace guard Lee Myung Yeon to the Ministry of Justice. But Ok Nyeo and her men find Treasurer Ji and the midwife.
Ok Nyeo’s business troubles are solved when a rich merchant from Ming arrives and buys all her stocks of ginseng.
Lord Yoon plans to use Palace guard Lee’s escape from the Palace together with court maid Ga Bi to bring down Chief Kang and Lord Lee. Sensing that Lord Yoon only wants to frame Chief Kang, the King orders Palace guard Lee to be transferred to Jeonokseo.
The King also secretly meets Ok Nyeo and Chief Kang. Ok Nyeo persuades the King to investigate Palace guard Lee’s story because it’s the only way to expose the poisoning attempt on King Injong (when he was the Crown Prince) and the deaths of the court ladies and maids years ago.
Lord Yoon visits the King and urges him to arrest the members of Queen Janggyeong’s family for harboring Chief Kang. But Lord Yoon is stunned when the King says that he already knows about his and Jung Nan Jung’s role in the poisoning attempt against the Crown Prince.
On Lord Yoon’s orders, Jeo Chool Gi sets about to kill Palace guard Lee and Ok Nyeo. He poisons Palace guard Lee’s food and arranges for Ok Nyeo to be brought to a secluded place where he and his men are waiting. But Ok Nyeo and Chief Kang have already set a trap for him.
The poisoning attempt against Palace guard Lee fails.
With the huge profits from the sale of ginseng, Ok Nyeo promotes Chun Doong, Man Sook, and her other men. She also rewards Gong Jae Myung and the other merchants threatened by Lady Min.
The King meets Tae Won at Sosoru and appeals to him, as a cousin, to help bring Lord Yoon, Jung Nan Jung, and even the Queen Mother to justice for the poisoning of King Injong and the killing of the court ladies and maids of the East Palace.
Tae Won accepts the royal appointment as Special Prosecutor of the Ministry of Justice. He promptly takes soldiers with him, and they barge into Lord Yoon’s house.
But even Sung Ji Heon’s own officials say that Tae Won, being the son of a concubine, cannot be appointed to such a high-ranking government position. Moreover, the officials say that Tae Won prosecuting his own father is the most un-filial thing in Joseon’s culture.
Episode 49: The King and Princess Ok Nyeo; the Queen Mother’s hit list
|Episode 48 recap: A hungry jail guard at Jeonokseo steals the poisoned food meant for Palace guard Lee and dies after eating it. Learning about the poisoning attempt, the King orders that Palace guards be sent to reinforce Jeonokseo’s security.|
Ok Nyeo assures Palace guard Lee that he will be able to avenge Ga Bi’s death by testifying against Lord Yoon.
Tae Won places Lord Yoon under strict house arrest. He begins interrogating Jung Nan Jung by asking Lady Han (the King’s attendant) to testify what happened to the court ladies and maids years ago.
The ministers become nervous that Tae Won might arrest them also. They beg the Queen Mother to help them. But the King firmly turns down the Queen Mother’s demand that Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung be released. The King tells the Queen Mother: “You’ve done so many evil deeds; now you must bear the humiliation. I won’t stop with just punishing Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung. Go back to your quarters and wait for your punishment.”
Jeo Chool Gi finally confirms that Ok Nyeo is King Jungjong’s daughter. He evades the soldiers guarding Lord Yoon’s house and sneaks in. Through him, Lord Yoon sends an urgent message to the Queen Mother.
The Queen Mother orders her bodyguard to take Ok Nyeo and hide her. The King learns from Tae Won and Chief Kang how the Queen Mother took Ok Nyeo; he demands that she release Ok Nyeo immediately. But the Queen Mother says that she’ll release Ok Nyeo only if Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung are released.
Later, the Queen Mother confronts a tied-up Ok Nyeo and says: “You betrayed me by siding with my enemies. You ignored all the trust and kindness I showed you and mocked me. I can’t let you live.”
The King orders the Palace guards, Chief Kang, and Tae Won to search for Ok Nyeo inside and outside of the Palace.
Failing to find Ok Nyeo, the King agrees to release Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung. After Ok Nyeo is released, she is summoned to the King’s quarters.
Jung Nan Jung nags Lord Yoon to immediately make plans to dethrone the King and replace him with Prince Hawon (the eldest son of Prince Deukheung).
Sung Ji Heon, meanwhile, brings Prince Hasong (the youngest son of Prince Deukheung) to the Palace to meet the King.
Ok Nyeo’s bodyguard urges her to transfer to the new safehouse that Chief Kang has arranged. Treasurer Ji and Yoo Geum arrive and overhear their conversation.
The King collapses again. The Queen Mother seizes the opportunity and orders Lord Yoon to kill or arrest everyone on her hit list — Lord Lee, members of Queen Janggyeong’s family, Chief Kang, Sung Ji Heon, Tae Won, and Ok Nyeo.
Episode 50: The Queen Mother; Princess Ok Nyeo’s counter-attack
|Episode 49 recap: Tae Won tells the King that Ok Nyeo is his half-sister. The King later on summons Ok Nyeo and offers to find a place for her inside the Palace where she can live and be protected.|
Jung Nan Jung wants to enthrone Prince Hawon; she also wants Shin Hye to marry him and become the next Queen.
But Shin Hye goes to see Sung Ji Heon and tells him about her impending marriage. As she says goodbye, she tells Sung Ji Heon, “My heart belongs to you.”
During their meeting at the Palace, the King is impressed with Prince Hasong.
Ok Nyeo tells Treasurer Ji and Yoo Geum that King Jungjong is her father. As they kneel before Ok Nyeo, Treasurer Ji reproaches himself, “Did I raise someone of royal blood in a place full of criminals?” But Ok Nyeo assures him that he is still the stepfather of a princess.
The Queen Mother’s bodyguard kills Lord Lee, while soldiers either kill or arrest the persons in the hit list. But Tae Won has been forewarned by Lord Yoon and rescues Ok Nyeo.
When the King regains consciousness, he finds out about all the arrests and killings done on the Queen Mother’s orders. He berates Lord Yoon and the ministers: “I never allowed you to use my army! Is my mother the King of this country?”
When the King meets the Queen Mother later on, he tells her that he is abdicating: “I’m a pathetic King who failed to protect my loyal subjects, let alone the people of this nation. If I can atone for my sins and honor the souls of those who died because of me, I will gladly abdicate or even pay with my own life.”
The Queen Mother begs on her knees for the King to reconsider his decision to abdicate. On her way out of the King’s quarters, she collapses.
Taking advantage of the King’s weakened condition, Lord Yoon tortures all those who have been arrested, including Sung Ji Heon and Chief Kang.
The soldiers put up wanted posters of Ok Nyeo and Tae Won all over the capital; they also raid Sosoru.
The King visits the ailing Queen Mother in her quarters; while there, he remembers his youthful days as a King with the Queen Mother acting as regent.
While Jung Nan Jung and Lord Yoon plan how to protect themselves, Ok Nyeo and Tae Won ask Gong Jae Myung and the merchants to gather all of their fighting men.
Ok Nyeo asks the damo at the Queen Mother’s quarters to give through Lady Han a letter for the King. But on her way to see Lady Han, the damo is recognized and accosted by the Queen Mother’s bodyguard.
Episode 51: Finale
|Episode 50 recap: The Queen Mother dies.|
While Lord Yoon is in shock over the Queen Mother’s death, Jung Nan Jung nags him into mobilizing all their forces to kill all their enemies. Lord Yoon tells her, “Your ruthlessness frightens me.”
To fight Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung, Ok Nyeo and Tae Won gather all the former spies, the security guards of the various trade groups, and even the scolundrels in the market place. Ok Nyeo says, “As a princess of the nation, I will lead you.”
Ok Nyeo’s letter reaches the King. While the King deals with Lord Yoon’s forces inside the Palace, Ok Nyeo and Tae Won’s fighters arrest the corrupt ministers.
Ok Nyeo and her bodyguard Cho Hee are ambushed by Jeo Chool Gi.
After Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung are captured, the King sends them into exile.
Episode 51 recap:
Ok Nyeo kills Jeo Chool Gi, but her bodyguard dies.
Jung Nan Jung is captured, tortured, and betrayed.
After Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung are exiled, Jung Nan Jung begins suffering from hallucinations. She eventually commits suicide by drinking poison, with Lord Yoon soon following her.
The King continues to mentor Prince Hasong (his chosen successor). When Prince Hasong asks about how to strengthen the monarchy after what happened, the King tells him to act like a former king who ate grasshoppers: “Take care of your people instead of thinking about how to become a strong king.”
Ok Nyeo enters the Palace as a princess, with the King welcoming her. But she chooses to live outside the Palace and to continue her work as “waeji bu” (legal officer).
|From Episode 4: rule of thirds; aerial perspective; color temperature|
|From Episode 4: rule of thirds; aerial perspective; color temperature|
|From Episode 1: natural frame; silhouette, rule of thirds|
|From Episode 1: natural frame; shallow depth of field|
|From Episode 2: diagonal lines, natural frame, linear perspective|
|From Episode 3: Low angle shot, keystoning|
|From Episode 4: sidelighting, low key lighting|
|From Episode 9: high angle shot, natural frame, sidelighting|
|From Episode 9: natural frame, sidelighting, rim lighting|
|From Episode 10: rack focus, selective or differential focusing|
|From Episode 11: shallow depth of field, focus on the eyes|
|From Episode 11: foreground blur (serving as natural frame)|
|From Episode 27: natural frame, shape, rule of thirds|
|From Episode 29: lines, diagonal line, anchor your diagonal line at a corner of your picture, aerial perspective, foreground element|
|From Episode 40: reflections, diagonal lines, partial frame|
|From Episode 40: reflections, rule of thirds, diagonal lines|
|From Episode 40: rule of thirds, patterns, compressed perspective|
|From Episode 40: rule of thirds|
|From Episode 43: out-of-focus foliage serving as natural frame; bokeh|
|From Episode 43: bokeh, shallow depth of field (notice how|
Ok Nyeo’s background and foreground are both blurred)
|From Episode 44: quality and direction of light|
|From Episode 46: sidelighting, bokeh|
|From Episode 46: sidelighting, bokeh|
|From Episode 50: rack focus (focus in, focus out)|
|From Episode 50: bokeh (out-focus-highlights)|