Friday, June 24, 2016

“Six Flying Dragons” spoiler-free synopsis by episode and theme-based recaps (Eps. 1-50)

Warrior Moo-hyul! (fight scenes)

Jump to synopsis of 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; Historical backgrounders on “Six Flying Dragons” and other information; Theme-based recaps in text, graphics, and videos; Lessons in photography from “Six Flying Dragons”

How I made these synopses spoiler-free

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

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

3. 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 synopses of “A Tree With Deep Roots” (aka “Deep Rooted Tree”), “The Flower in Prison,” “The King’s Doctor,” and “A Jewel in the Palace.”)

Episode 1: War clouds, secrets, and betrayals

War threatens to engulf Goryeo’s citizens as the government ministers led by Prime Minister Lee In-gyeom and Baek Yoon want to form an alliance between Goryeo and Yuan against the Ming Dynasty.

But other ministers belonging to the “Sadaebu” want to avoid war, and so they ask Yi Seong-gye, a highly-respected general, to join Goryeo’s legislative assembly (“Dodang”).

As Yi Seong-gye arrives in Gaegyeong (Goryeo’s capital), Lee In-gyeom receives a secret letter stamped with a mysterious symbol.

Boon-yi and her brother Ddang-sae are in Gaegyeong looking for their mother who has been kidnapped. To survive, Boon Yi and her brother join a group of street children in begging for or stealing whatever they can. Seeing the brightly-dressed and wide-eyed Bang-won gawking at all the goods in the market, Boon-yi targets him.

Later, while chasing a suspicious man, Boon-yi, the other beggars, and Bang-won end up in Dohwa Mansion, the house of Lee In-gyeom.

Episode 2: The Jangpyeong Gate incident

Episode 1 recap:

Lee In-gyeom forces Yi Seong-gye to decline his appointment as government minister by threatening to reveal how he betrayed and killed his closest friend Jo So Saeng.

As Yi Seong-gye bows in submission to Lee In-gyeom, his son Bang-won watches in disbelief and dismay.

Boon Yi and her brother Ddang-sae escape from Dohwa Mansion. Meanwhile, after confronting Lee In-gyeom, Bang-won tries to join Boon-yi’s gang of beggars and thieves.

Jeong Do-jeon (aka “Sambong”) organizes some of his fellow Confucian scholars-government ministers and Sungkyungkwan students to protest at Jangpyeong Gate against the Yuan emissaries.

While hiding, Ddang-sae overhears Jeong Do-jeon tell Hong In-bang how to end Goryeo's corrupt government.

Finding out about Jeong Do-jeon’s plan, Lee In-gyeom and his cohort Gil Tae-mi (a famous swordsman) lay a trap for Jeong Do-jeon and the other Confucian scholars.

Episode 3: Sungkyungkwan

Jeong De-jeon is arrested and then tortured by Gil Tae-mi. His friends try to save him by petitioning the King.

Jeong Do-jeon meets Boon-yi and Ddang-sae along the road. The kids want to know if he knows their mother — the song that their mother used to sing to them is the very same song that he and the other scholars sang at Jangpyeong Gate. Jeong Do-jeon tells them who their mother could really be.

After witnessing the heroic acts of Jeong Do-jeon and the other Confucian scholars at Jangpyeong Gate, Bang-won decides to study at Sungkyungkwan (Goryeo’s most prominent Confucian academy). Chaos erupts, however, on Bang-won’s first day at Sungkyungkwan.

And soon enough, Bang-won and his friends are harassed and humiliated by another group of students led by Gil Tae-mi’s son. Bang-won finds hope later on upon learning that Hong In-bang has come back to teach at Sungkyungkwan. (Along with Jeong Do-jeon, Hong In-bang is one of the heroes of Jangpyeong Gate.)

Bang-won plants trees representing all those who have done an injustice to him, his family, or his friends. Cutting down a tree means that he has dealt with an injustice.

Episode 4: Crossroads

Episode 3 recap:

Bang-won cuts down several trees that he has planted.

To his disappointment, Bang-won learns that Hong In-bang has sold out his ideals and has become a corrupt official.
As Ddang-sae follows up a lead about his missing mother, he runs into danger.

Meanwhile, Moo-hyul (the eldest in a very large family) begins learning how to become a swordsman in order to help feed his younger siblings.

Ddang-sae, later on, returns home to Boon-yi, and he begins spending some happy days with Yeon-hee, a beautiful and kind girl in their village who has become interested in him.

Through Hong In-bang’s idea, the ministers and nobles begin confiscating land from Goryeo’s citizens, beating up or killing those who resist.

Episode 5: New Joseon

Episode 4 recap:

Gil Seon-mi (twin brother of Gil Tae-mi) entrusts Ddang-sae to martial arts master Jang Sam-bong.

One of Hong In-bang’s men rapes Yeon-hee, with Ddang-sae watching helplessly.

Six years later …

Bang-won, a despondent student at Sungkyungkwan, witnesses the assassination of Baek Yoon, a high-ranking government minister. The assassin turns out to be Ddang-sae; Bang-won follows him to a cave in a mountain overlooking Gaegyong.
Chaos erupts among the government ministers over Baek Yoon’s assassination. To help calm things down, Lee In-gyeom appoints Hong In-bang as Baek Yoon’s replacement. Hong In-bang promptly gathers support for himself from the other government ministers.

Bang-won has discovered in the cave a map and documents referring to a country to be called “New Joseon.” Amazed by what he has read, he wants to know who the author is, and so, he begins searching for the swordsman/assassin known only to the common folks as the “Viper.”

Moo-hyul tries to save a damsel in distress and, with a wooden sword, gets into a fight with street thugs armed with real swords and led by an expert swordsman who was once a Royal Guard.

Boon-yi, now a young woman, leads a group of villagers in secretly cultivating some wasteland.

Episode 6: Biguk Temple

Episode 5 recap:

Bang-won, his bodyguard, and Moo-hyul rescue some villagers captured by men posing as Japanese pirates. Among the captured villagers is Boon-yi, but she and Bang-won don’t recognize each other.

In despair over the villagers who died, Boon-yi burns down the government storage containing the grains confiscated from her and the villagers. Having lost her way, she decides to start looking for Jeong Do-jeon.

Bang-won catches up with Boon-yi, and just like when they were just kids, they end up fighting on the ground. (But they still don’t recognize each other from their childhood days.)

While Boon-yi is looking for the man who can lead her to Jeong Do-jeon, she gets captured by monks from Biguk Temple.

Bang-won and his bodyguard disguise themselves as monks and enter the temple. At the temple, Bang-won flashes back to his days in Sungkyungkwan when Hong In-Bang was trying to break his spirit.

Unknown to Bang-won, Ddang-sae and Moo-hyul have separately come to the temple.

Spoiler alert: Video below shows Ddang-sae fighting the Biguk Temple monks. (After clicking the “Play” button, click “Watch on Youtube” for the video to open in a new tab. The video doesn’t have English sub, but the superb fight scenes do not need any sub.)

Episode 7: The plan

Episode 6 recap:

Both Bang-won and Boon-yi are able to decode the secret message using Jeong Do-jeon’s wooden toy soldiers.

Boon-yi asks Moo-hyul to go with her to Hamju where Bang-won’s father, General Yi Seong-gye, has set up his headquarters.
Boon-yi and Moo-hyul are accepted into General Yi Seong-gye’s camp and assigned to do menial work.

Bang-won and his bodyguard have also come to Hamju but do not let their presence become known to his father.

A document called “Border Stabilization Plan” has circulated among the soldiers and causes concern when it reaches Yi Syeong-gye and his staff.

Bang-won sets up a meeting between his father and the plan’s author.

Episode 8: Moment of decision

Episode 7 recap:

Bang-won is captured by monks from Biguk Temple, but Moo-hyul saves him.

Yi Seong-gye and his men accuse Boon-yi of being a spy. When they threaten to kill her, Jeong Do-jeon reveals himself to Yi Seong-gye.
Jeong Do-jeon tells Yi Seong-gye about his plans to establish a new country to replace Goryeo. But Yi Seong-gye refuses to have anything to do with these plans.

Bang-won confronts his father about his fear of taking responsibility and of betraying someone.

Later on, with a bound and gagged Boon-yi beside him, Bang-won thinks out loud about his hopes and dreams, doubts and frustrations.

Episode 9: Heaven’s rain

Episode 8 recap:

Bang-won takes matters into his own hands and stamps the Border Stabilization Plan with his father’s seal. He then tells Jeong Do-jeon’s aide that Jeong Do-jeon must leave Hamju at once and present the plan to the government ministers.

Boon-yi finally recognizes Bang-won as the boy she met in Gaegyeong several years ago.

Lee In-gyeom is misled by a fake astrologer who’s secretly working for Jeong Do-jeon. The astrologer turns out to be Yeon-hee — Boon-yi and Ddang-sae’s childhood friend.

The battle lines are drawn between Hong In-bang and Gil Tae-mi on one side and Lee In-gyeom and General Choi on the other side.

Hong In-bang is unsure if Jeong Do-jeon can really convince Lee Seong-gye to work with him and Gil Tae-mi, and so, he sends Jukryong (master of Biguk Temple) to Hamju.

Jeong Do-jeon increases the pressure by asking Yeon-hee to hire a master storyteller to spread a rumor about Hong In-bang and Gil Tae-mi.

Confusion breaks out in Hamju when Yi Seong-gye finds out that Bang-won sealed and gave the Border Stabilization Plan to Jeong Do-jeon.

Episode 10: The trios

Episode 9 recap:

Ddang-sae (aka “Yi Bang-ji”) and Yeon-hee meet each other again.

Together with Boon-yi and Moo-hyul, Bang-won escapes from Hamju to stop his brother from withdrawing the Border Stabilization Plan.

Thinking that Lee In-gyeom sent the assassin, Hong In-bang and Gil Tae-mi double cross him and vote to approve the plan. (After clicking the “Play” button of the video below, click “Watch on Youtube” for the video to open in a new tab. The video doesn’t have English sub, but the fight scenes do not need any sub.)

Jeong Do-jeon meets with Hong In-bang and Gil Tae-mi about an alliance with Yi Seong-gye; he also tries to find out who the assassin is.

Yi Seong-gye wants to withdraw the Border Stabilization Plan, but his son Bang-gwa and his sworn brother Ji Ran try to talk him out if it.

Bang-won speaks with Jeong Do-jeon for the first time. Unknown to them, somebody else is in the cave with them.

Episode 11: The dilemma

Episode 10 recap:

Jeong Do-jeon meets Bang-won and Ddang-sae in the cave.

Ddang-sae confirms what Bang-won said — that he killed Baek Yoon. He adds that he did so according to Jeong Do-jeon’s instructions. But Jeong Do-jeon doesn’t know him or understand his motivations.

Bang-won confesses that he alone sealed the Border Stabilization Plan. Jeong Do-jeon berates him, saying that kind of rash behavior led to Goryeo to its current rotten state. He rejects Bang-won’s offer to become part of his cause of establishing Joseon.

Later on, Yeon-hee finds out that the Viper is none other than Ddang-sae, her childhood friend.

Note: Video below on Ddang-sae singing “Mu-yi-yi-ya” contains at the 2:41 mark some spoiler scenes for later episodes. (This song was sung by Jeong Do-jeon and the defiant scholars, at a much faster pace, in Episode 2.)

Lee In-gyeom fights back against Hong In-bang and Gil Tae-mi. He also challenges Yi Seong-gye by having Bang-won arrested and tortured.

Jeong Do-jeon faces a dilemma on what to do with Bang-won, but Boon-yi and Bang-woo (Yi Seong-gye’s eldest son) move on their own separately to save Bang-won.

Episode 12: The confrontation

Episode 11 recap:

Yeon-hee tells Jeong Do-jeon that it’s better for their plans if Bang-won dies.

Bang-woo (Yi Seong-gye’s eldest son) decides unilaterally not to submit the letter withdrawing the Border Stabilization Plan; he then convinces his father to mobilize their army to rescue Bang-won.

Jeong Do-jeon orders Yeon-hee to switch the letter forged by Lee In-gyeom with the letter that Ddang-sae left in the cave. The unsigned letter will make it appear that Bang-won plotted with his father to assassinate Baek Yoon.
With Yi Seong-gye and his army’s victory over the Jurchens, the government ministers become afraid to challenge him about the letter found in Bang-won’s room.

But the State Tribunal officer (nicknamed “Dumbhead”) insists that he will continue interrogating Bang-won. Later on, he allows Yak San (the thief who planted the letter in Bang-won’s room) to escape.

Yi Seong-gye confronts Lee In-gyeom and demands that Bang-won be released the next day.

Episode 13: The world of politics

Episode 12 recap:

The State Tribunal officer interrogating Bang-won turns out to be Jeong Do-jeon’s faithful comrade.

Knowing that Yi Seong-gye has come to Gaegyeong without his army, Lee In-gyeom plans to ask the assembly to arrest and interrogate him. But he’s surprised when Yi Seong-gye appears in the assembly dressed as a government minister.
With Jeong Do-jeon as his adviser, Yi Seong-gye decides to enter politics in order to protect his family.

As Yak San (the thief who planted the letter in Bang-won’s room) turns up alive and is about to confess everything, Hong In-bang pressures Lee In-gyeom to resign as Prime Minister.

Yi Seong-gye unilaterally breaks off the alliance that Jeong Do-jeon has been working on between him and Hong In-bang.

Meanwhile, along with the Bigeuk Temple monks, Gil Tae-mi begins searching for the assassin who killed Baek Yoon and threatened Hong In-bang.

Episode 14: The power play and the confession

Episode 13 recap:

Bang-won finally learns that Boon-yi is the spunky girl he met in Gaegyeong several years ago. But when he expresses his affections for her, Boon-yi rejects him.

Ddang-sae is hunted down by the Biguk Temple monks. He hides in Hwasadan — a gisaeng house that’s actually a front for Cho-young’s spying business. There, he learns that Yeon-hee is a spy and a double agent.
Before resigning as the Prime Minister, Lee In-gyeom appoints Hong In-bang to a higher position with greater power and influence. Hong In-bang begins planning to enlarge his power base by using the apolitical but influential Haedong Gap clan of nobles.

But Bang-won offers to his father and Jeong Do-jeon a way of stopping Hong In-bang’s plan.

Ddang-sae continues to plead with Yeon-hee to cut off her ties with Hwasadan and Jeong Do-jeon and to lead a normal life. But Yeon-hee refuses and tells him that Boon-yi is also involved with Jeong Do-jeon’s organization.

Episode 15: The numbers game

Episode 14 recap:

Hong In-bang shrewdly proposes a marriage between his son and Min Da-kyung, the only daughter of Min Jae, leader of the Haedong Gap clan.

But Bang-won boldly and directly offers to marry Da-kyung, and she accepts for political reasons.

Bang-won and Boon-yi confess their love for each other.

Rebuffed, Hong In-bang orders Jukryong to send an assassin against Jeong Do-jeon.

Meanwhile, Ddang-sae has learned from Yeon-hee that his sister Boon-yi is a dedicated follower of Jeong Do-jeon.

Ddang-sae pleads with Jeong Do-jeon to let go of Yeon-hee and Boon-yi. He warns Jeong Do-jeon that if he doesn’t, he will kill him.
Yeon-hee recognizes the assassin and warns Bang-won and Moo-hyul of the danger facing Jeong Do-jeon. Yi Seong-gye musters his men and goes to the rescue himself. Boon-yi also runs to warn Jeong Do-jeon. But the assassin reaches Jeong Do-jeon first.

Later on …

Bang-won marries Da-kyung in simple ceremonies.

Hong In-bang begins confiscating lands belonging to Elder Jo, a member of the Haedong Gap clan. Jeong Do-jeon concludes that Hong In-bang has gotten drunk with power and begins convincing the government ministers to impeach Hong In-bang.

Episode 16: The treasonous plot

Episode 15 recap:

Ddang-sae and Moo-hyul help each other in fighting the assassins sent against Jeong Do-jeon.

Boon-yi finally meets her long-lost brother Ddang-sae and her childhood friend Yeon-hee.

Yi Seong-gye renames Ddang-sae as “Yi Bang-ji” and appoints him as Jeong Do-jeon’s bodyguard.

Despite their children’s marriage, Min Jae of the Haedong Gap clan refuses to help Yi Seong-gye.

Before the assembly can vote on the impeachment, Hong In-bang proclaims that Elder Jo is involved in a treasonous plot.
Despite the flimsy evidence that Hong In-bang presents, the assembly orders Elder Jo’s arrest and interrogation.

Hong In-bang then threatens all the Haedong Gap clan members that if they do not sign a document naming Yi Seong-gye as the mastermind of the treasonous plot, he will destroy them all.

As Yi Seong-gye’s sons and officers learn how to use gunpowder, Boon-yi scolds Bang-won into using his marriage with Dakyung to fight against Hong In-bang.

Episode 17: Attack and counterattack

Episode 16 recap:

In their 700-year history, the Haedong Gap clan has never been threatened the way Hong In-bang is threatening them. They’re about to sign the document implicating Yi Seong-gye when Bang-won and his men barge into the meeting place.

Bang-won puts a box of gunpowder in the middle of the meeting place and then lights the fuse. He tells the clan members that they have been cowards throughout their history. He threatens them that if they do not sign a petition charging Hong In-bang and Gil Tae-mi with their crimes against the people, everyone in the meeting place will die when the gunpowder explodes.
Based on the petition signed by the Haedong Gap clan, the King orders General Choi to arrest Lee In-gyeom, Hong In-bang, and Gil Tae-mi.

But Hong In-bang doesn’t give up easily and deceives the State Tribunal soldiers into attacking Yi Seong-gye.

Yi Seong-gye and his men surround Gil Tae-mi’s house and demand that he surrender.

Through her network of informants, Boon-yi monitors Hong In-bang’s and Gil Tae-mi’s movements and locations.

Episode 18: The choice

Episode 17 recap:

Hong In-bang is caught as he tries to escape on a smuggling boat.

Gil Tae-mi kills dozens of soldiers before he is cornered in the marketplace. But no soldier dares to come near him. Bang-ji arrives and challenges Gil Tae-mi to a duel.

Bang-ji v. Gil Tae-mi (Ep. 18 full fight)
Bang-ji and Gil Tae-mi battle each other in an epic swordfight.

Jeong Do-jeon visits the imprisoned Hong In-bang on the eve of his execution.

Yi Seong-gye wants Lee In-gyeom to be executed and his lands confiscated. Agreeing with him is Jung Mong-joo (a government minister and long-time friend of Jeong Do-jeon).

On the other hand, Jeong Do-jeon wants Lee In-gyeom to be exiled rather than executed. He tells Yi Seong-gye that they need Lee In-gyeom’s allies in the assembly for their coming fight with General Choi.

Episode 19: The Ming Empire’s demand

Episode 18 recap:

Based on his conversation with Hong In-bang at the State Tribunal, Jeong Do-jeon conceptualizes three offices that will serve as checks and balances.

While in prison, Jukryong secretly receives a letter stamped with a mysterious seal. He then gives to General Choi his journal detailing all the spying activities he did for Hong In-bang and other government officials.

General Choi now believes Lee In-gyeom’s warning. He confronts Yi Seong-gye, demanding that he abandon Jeong Do-jeon or else …
The King approves General Choi’s proposal for Lee In-gyeom’s punishment.

The Ming Empire sends a letter demanding that Goryeo must return the northeastern region. Uproar erupts in the assembly, but General Choi says nothing and instead, goes on a hunting trip with the King and a reluctant Yi Seong-gye.

Meanwhile, Bang-won, Boon-yi, and Moo-hyul investigate on their own a strange incident in Hong In-bang’s residence.

Episode 20: The two horses

Episode 19 recap:

Bang-won, Boon-yi, and Moo-hyul find out that the gold taken from Hong In-bang’s residence has been used to buy ox horns — the best material for bows. The horns are now stored secretly in Biguk Temple.

The King and General Choi tell Yi Seong-gye that they want him to lead Goryeo’s army of 50,000 men in conquering Liaodong.
Despite fierce opposition, the King and General Choi stubbornly push through their plan of conquering Liaodong.

With the lives of 50,000 conscripted Goryeo soldiers at stake, Jeong Do-jeon agrees with Bang-won that the only solution is an uprising. Bang-won secretly mobilizes his brothers and his father’s private soldiers, and Jeong Do-jeon assigns them specific tasks and locations.

Episode 21: Wihwado Retreat

Episode 20 recap:

Yi Seong-gye rejects the uprising planned by Jeong Do-jeon; a white horse gallops through the places where Bang-won and his men have been waiting.

As predicted, the Liaodong expedition meets numerous difficulties — the failed river crossing, food shortages, rampant disease, and mounting desertions.

But the King repeatedly orders Yi Seong-gye to push through; General Choi has also taken hostage Yi Seong-gye’s sons, his wife and small children, Da-kyung, and their household staff, including Boon-yi.

When a government inspector threatens to execute the deserters, Yi Seong-gye orders him arrested and then proclaims that he will withdraw the army.
General Jo, the other commanding general, agrees to withdraw the army only after Yi Seong-gye accepts his condition.

When General Choi learns about the withdrawal, he orders Yi Seong-gye’s family taken to more secure locations. He also warns Yi Seong-gye that if his army marches into the capital, he will execute his family and hang their heads on the Palace walls.

Jeong Do-jeon, Bang-won, and Bang-ji scramble to find where the hostages have been taken.

Episode 22: The song

Episode 21 recap:

The hostages have been taken into Dohwa Mansion and are guarded by dozens of soldiers.

Boon-yi finds the secret passageway by observing how the wind blows the candle she has lit; Bang-won, on the other hand, threatens Cho-young (head of Hwasadan) to reveal where the passageway is.

Bang-won and Bang-ji rescue the hostages; Moo-hyul also rescues Bang-won’s brothers who have been locked up in a different location and are about to be executed.
The combined armies of Yi Seong-gye and General Jo attack the capital, with Bang-won and Boon-yi doing their share to topple the King and General Choi.

Later on, a song first sung by children in the marketplace spreads throughout the people in the capital. The song agitates the government officials because it prophesies that Yi Seong-gye will become King. Jeong Do-jeon worries that the people will see Yi Seong-gye as a usurper and turn against him. He orders Bang-won and Boon-yi to find out who’s spreading the song.

An unseen hand places General Jo, Minister-Scholar Lee Saek, and Queen Jung together. Based on a mysterious letter, they decide on who will become the next King.

Episode 23: The reformation

Episode 22 recap:

Lee In–gyeom died 15 days ago, and it’s his nephew Ha Ryun who has been spreading the song among the children. He also manipulates General Jo, Minister Lee Saek, and Queen Jung into naming the 7-year old Crown Prince as the new King — contrary to General Jo’s agreement with Yi Seong-gye.
Jeong Do-jeon finds out that it’s Ha Ryun who has been manipulating things, and he warns Ha Ryun to stop.

Later on, Jeong Do-jeon meets a scholar named Jo Joon (“Woojaek”) and tries to convince him to share his comprehensive research on land ownership in Goryeo. He promises Jo Joon that Yi Seong-gye will implement their dream of equal and fair land distribution among Goryeo’s citizens.

Ha Ryun finds out about Jeong Do-jeon’s grand plan of land distribution, and he warns General Jo and other ministers about it.

Episode 24: The land reform plan

Episode 23 recap:

Ha Ryun hires thugs and Cho-young’s female warriors to steal the research.

While Bang-ji and Moo-hyul are fighting the thugs, they are suddenly attacked by Gil Seon-mi.

Bang-won runs off with the research, but he is captured by Cho-young’s warriors. They take him to a hut where he meets Ha Ryun.
Bang-won and Boon-yi help each other in escaping and regaining the stolen research.

Ha Ryun tells Minister Lee Saek that he needs to cooperate with General Jo in opposing the land reform plan that Jeong Do-jeon will present to the assembly.

To lessen the opposition to the land reform plan, Jeong Do-jeon wily presents a way of proceeding with the reform that splits the factions among the ministers.

But General Jo firmly opposes the land reform and, on Ha Ryun’s suggestion, mobilizes his army to fight against Yi Seong-gye.

Episode 25: Brothers-in-arms (Warrior Moo-hyul!)

Episode 24 recap:

General Jo mobilizes his army to pressure Yi Seong-gye into backing off with the land reform plan.

Yeon-hee meets on the street the man who raped her when she was a child, and Moo-hyul learns by chance about the sordid event that has scarred Yeon-hee and Bang-ji’s lives.

General Jo invites Yi Seong-gye, his sons, and officers to a banquet in Dohwa Mansion. But his real plan is to kill Yi Seong-gye and everyone with him.
Disappointed that the land reform plan has been put on hold, Bang-won refuses to go with his father to Dohwa Mansion. He spends the time with Boon-yi and her followers.

Ha Ryun invites Jeong Do-jeon to a late-night dinner.

During the banquet, Bang-ji, Young-kyu, and Moo-hyul are at their best behavior because Officer Nam orders them not to cause any problem.

General Jo’s men are ready to kill Yi Seong-gye and all those with him once General Jo gives the signal. But before the signal could be given, Moo-hyul overturns a table and starts a fight.

Spoiler alert: Video below shows Moo-hyul fighting numerous assassins. (After clicking the “Play” button, click “Watch on Youtube” for the video to open in a new tab. The video doesn’t have English sub, but the terrific fight scenes do not need any sub. And besides, the only real “dialogue” is when Moo-hyul shouts “Musa Moo-hyul” or in English, “Warrior Moo-hyul!”)

Episode 26: The unseen hand

Episode 25 recap:

Jeong Do-jeon realizes the danger facing Yi Seong-gye at Dohwa Mansion, and he hurriedly tells Bang-won to mobilize their soldiers.

Bang-ji and Moo-hyul recognize one of General Jo’s men as Yeon-hee’s rapist.

A savage fight erupts all over Dohwa Mansion. Despite being outnumbered, Yi Seong-gye and his men force General Jo to surrender. But at the very end, someone — acting on orders by a mysterious Leader — tries to assassinate Yi Seong-gye.

Yeon-hee kills the man who raped her. (After clicking the “Play” button for the video below, click “Watch on Youtube” for the video to open in a new tab. The video doesn’t have English sub, but the actions speak for themselves.)

While General Jo is being led away from Dohwa Mansion, someone tries to assassinate Yi Seong-gye.

Yi Seong-gye and Jeong Do-jeon realize that, for political reasons, they can’t execute General Jo for trying to kill him and his men. With Minister Jung Mong-joo (Jeong Do-jeon’s long-time friend) acting as mediator, they bargain and counter-bargain with Minister Lee Saek and his allies in the assembly. For starters, Lee Saek wants to reinstate the former King.

When Bang-won and Boon-yi report about the assassin, Jeong Do-jeon realizes that a highly-secret organization could have sent the assassin. He orders everyone to quickly find out more about this organization and the people behind it.

But the organization has already made its “most fatal counterattack” against Jeong Do-jeon and his plans for Joseon.

Episode 27: Nameless

Episode 26 recap:

Jeong Do-jeon agrees with Minister Lee Saek’s proposal that an official government survey be done for the land reform program. Lee Saek thinks that with intentional delays, the survey will take at least five years to complete, and the King, once reinstated, can cancel the survey. But Jeong Do-jeon knows that with Jo Joon’s research as basis, the survey will only take two years.

Bang-won at first thinks that Ha Ryun sent the assassin. But when they examine the assassin’s tattoo, Ha Ryun says that it symbolizes the organization that had secretly helped Lee In-gyeom.

Jeong Do-jeon calls this organization “Nameless” and associates it with King Gonming, Princess Noguk, and Yeon-hyang (Boon-yi and Bang-ji’s mother).
The “most fatal counterattack” turns out to be Minister Jung Mong-joo. As he gapes at the cave wall with the map of New Joseon, he asks Jeong Do-jeon, “What’s all this?”

Jeong Do-jeon regards Minister Jung (“Poeun”) as the most important person in his plans of creating the new nation of Joseon strictly under the principles of Neo-Confucianism.

But awestruck as Minister Jung is with Jeong Do-jeon’s planned reforms, he wants these reforms implemented to re-establish Goryeo.

Later on, the survey experiences its first delay.

Episode 28: Breaking the ash flower’s stem

Episode 27 recap:

Jung Mong-joo tells Yi Seong-gye that he and Jeong Do-jeon must abandon their plans of creating Joseon. He also begins thinking of re-establishing Goryeo by replacing the current 7-year old King with Prince Jungchang — who was Yi Seong-gye’s choice for King.

The government officials assigned to do the survey have all been assassinated, and no one wants to take their place. The ministers use this incident to further delay the survey.

Through Yi Seong-gye, Jeong Do-jeon gets a Royal Decree allowing him to field his own surveyors. He uses Bang-ji, Master Hong, Officer Nam, and others to act like surveyors in order to draw out whoever might have killed the government surveyors.

Gil Seon-mi falls for Jeong Do-jeon’s trap, and while he escapes, Jeong Do-jeon and Bang-ji follow him to a Buddhist temple. There, they see a cloaked woman escorting an elderly woman. The cloaked woman turns out to be Yeon-hyang (Bang-ji and Boon-yi’s mother).
Bang-ji tells Boon-yi that he saw their mother in the temple. Boon-yi then reveals something that she has never told Bang-ji about their mother.

The ministers opposed to the land reform program boycott the assembly, but Jung Mong-joo says that he will get the survey going if Jeong Do-jeon promises something.

Meanwhile, the former King wants to send a royal gift to Yi Seong-gye.

On Jeong Do-jeon’s order, Bang-won and the others stage an operation involving the Nameless warrior they captured. To Moo-hyul’s surprise, Boon-yi doesn’t want to join the operation, but she ends up right at the center of things.

Episode 29: The royal gift

Episode 28 recap:

Bang-won allows the Nameless warrior/prisoner to escape so that they can follow him. But the prisoner gets slashed by an assassin who proves too good for Moo-hyul to handle. Before the prisoner dies, he tells Boon-yi, “One must break the ash flower’s stem before it blooms.”

Boon-yi is then threatened by the assassin, but quick-wittedly, she recites the phrase that she heard from her mother when she was a child. The assassin replies and then backs down, thinking that Boon-yi is also a Nameless member.
Bang-won deciphers the expression “One must break the ash flower’s stem before it blooms” as an assassination attempt against his father.

Jung Mong-joo tries again to persuade Prince Jungchang to become King.

Young-kyu spots at Prince Jungchang’s residence Baek Geun-soo, the man who betrayed him and Bang-won many years ago in Gaegyeong. Bang-won sends two men to kidnap Baek Geun-soo.

That night, Prince Jungchang escapes from his residence with his gisaeng-bride Yoon-rang so that he cannot be pressured into becoming King.

Episode 30: The Five-Point Plan

Episode 29 recap:

The royal gift for Yi Seong-gye turns out to be a Goksan assassin who fights off Bang-ji and Moo-hyul. Although wounded, the assassin is able to escape to the mountain. (After clicking the “Play” button, click “Watch on Youtube” for the video to open in a new tab. The video doesn’t have English sub, but the superb fight scenes do not need any sub.)

Prince Jungchang is shot with a poisoned dart and then pressured by Yooksan (a high-ranking Nameless member) to become the next King. When the cup containing the antidote is accidentally thrown up into the air, the gisaeng-bride Yoon-rang grabs a sword and catches the cup, un-spilled, with the flat side of her sword. When Bang-won’s men attack, she flings the cup up into the air, kills the men, and in one fluid motion, catches the cup again with her sword — something that Bang-ji has never been able to perfect.

Yoon-rang reveals to Prince Jungchang that she is really Cheok Sa-kwang, the last heir to the Goksan Swordsmanship Method. She persuades him to take the antidote and become King. She promises to protect him with her life.
Prince Jungchang takes the antidote, and Cheok Sa-kwang tells him her story. At that same time, Master Hong tells everyone about the Cheok family’s history.

Based on his talk with Ha Ryun, Bang-won gets an idea on how to lure Nameless out of the shadows.

Yi Seong-gye hosts a banquet for his sons, Jeong Do-jeon, Bang-ji, and Moo-hyul.

Later on, Jeong Do-jeon meets and discusses with Jung Mong-joo his plans for Joseon.

Episode 31: The turning point

Episode 30 recap:

With Yi Seong-gye and Jeong Do-jeon’s approval, Prince Jungchang becomes King Gongyang.

Cho-young, head of Hwasadan, is also Ji Chon-tae, a Nameless member.

Yooksan and Cho-young fall for Bang-won’s trap. After saving Yeon-hee, Bang-won catches Cho-young secretly listening to Jeong Do-jeon and Jung Mong-joo’s discussion of Jeong Do-jeon’s Five-Point Plan.
Jeong Do-jeon pleads with Jung Mong-joo to help him establish Joseon. He promises Jung Mong-joo that he will have the most important responsibility in the new nation.

Cho-young talks with Bang-won, and later on, Bang-won lays out before Jeong Do-jeon a plan on how he will infiltrate and destroy Nameless from within.

Jung Mong-joo talks to King Gongyang about Minister Lee Saek and the land reform plan.

Episode 32: What is politics?

Episode 31 recap:

Bang-won is shocked to hear Jeong Do-jeon say that the King’s family and relatives will have no power in Joseon.

Cho-young tries to sow discord by reminding Bang-won that he will be powerless once Joseon is established.

Bang-won tells Jeong Do-jeon that he will fool Nameless by making it appear that he’s breaking off ties with him. He then moves out of his father’s estate into an estate provided by his father-in-law and begins forming his private army.

King Gongyang agrees with Jung Mong-joo about approving the land reform plan and exiling Minister Lee Saek.

Cho-young falls for the fake rescue and Bang-won’s sincerity in breaking off with Jeong Do-jeon. After meeting Gil Seon-mi, she then reports the break-off to Nameless.

Bang-won and Boon-yi share some tender moments as things are about to change drastically for them.

Later on, Bang-won meets with the Nameless representatives — the old woman, her female escort, and two men. They trade questions about Nameless’s history, about Jeong Do-jeon’s Five-Point Plan, etc. Then Bang-won asks a question that later on divides the members of Nameless.

Meanwhile, the land reform survey has been corrupted by the nobles who stand to gain more lands, leaving almost nothing for Goryeo’s common people. Jeong Do-jeon faces a dilemma on what to do, and he asks some people for their opinion. Later on, he asks Boon-yi to assemble her people.

Episode 33: The Buddhist temples

Episode 32 recap:

Yeon-hyang (Boon-yi and Bang-ji’s mother) is the leader of Nameless. She is shocked that her children are still alive and are looking for her.

Moo-hyul saves Sa-kwang from the Biguk Temple monks, but once he leaves, the monks and Jukryong attack her again. They prove, however, no match for Sa-kwang.

Jeong Do-jeon asks Boon-yi’s people to gather all of Goryeo’s tax records and land titles. He urges the people set fire to the records and titles. Now, Goryeo can start over with a clean slate, with no one owning anything.

With all the land registers burned up, the assembly has no choice but to use Jo Joon’s research as the basis for the survey. Jeong Do-jeon is imprisoned but released shortly after.

The nobles, however, find a way out of the land reform plan by “donating” their lands to corrupt Buddhist temples. Jeong Do-jeon therefore proposes sweeping laws against these Buddhist temples and against Buddhism itself.

Jeong Do-jeon’s proposals are opposed by everyone — King Gongyang, Jung Mung-joo, the ministers, and even Yi Seong-gye.

Jung Mung-joo decides that he must stop Jeong Do-jeon once and for all.

Episode 34: The two palanquins

Episode 33 recap:

Boon-yi finally meets her mother Yeon-hyang, leader of Nameless. Yeon-hyang tells Boon-yi that she and Bang-ji must stop looking for her or else their lives will be at risk.

Bang-woo is arrested for killing a former government official who said that his father will become King. He tells his father that he will reject being Crown Prince or King.

King Gonyang tells Yi Seong-gye that he will support the reforms only if Jeong Do-jeong slows down on his plans against Buddhism.

Yooksan discloses to Jung Mong-joo his identity as Nameless member and how they steered him to Jeong Do-jeon’s cave.

Jung Mong-joo impeaches Jeong Do-jeon on the ground that he hid from the assembly his status as lowborn. Jeong Do-jeon is arrested and taken away.
While his father is absent, Bang-won becomes responsible for rallying everyone to save Jeong Do-jeon. Jung Mong-joo urges the King to move quickly before Yi Seong-gye returns.

Later on, Yi Seong-gye threatens Jung Mong-joo with a sword and demands that Jeong Do-jeon be released immediately.

Nameless sees these events as a great opportunity to finally put an end to Yi Seong-gye and Jeong Do-jeon’s reform plans.

Episode 35: The longest night

Episode 34 recap:

Yi Seong-gye resigns as Goryeo’s military commander but warns Jung Mong-joo that he still has his private army.

Bang-won also confronts Jung Mong-joo as to why he betrayed Jeong Do-jeon.

Jung Mong-joo visits Jeong Do-jeon at the State Tribunal and tells him that he will be remembered as a revered Confucian scholar.

The King decides to exile Jeong Do-jeon.

On a hunting trip, Yi Seong-gye is threatened by Gil Seon-mi; he is critically injured as he falls off his horse while dodging an arrow shot by a lurking minister.

Office Nam and Jo Joon are both arrested and exiled.

Jung Mong-joo urges the King that while Yi Seong-gye is hovering near death, he should order Jeong Do-jeon’s execution. When the King hesitates, Sa-kwang tells him that she will assassinate Yi Seong-gye.

Sa-kwang and the government minister’s men attack the two palanquins. But unknown to them, Bang-won has escaped with his father on a different route.
While Jeong Do-jeon is being transferred from his place of exile back to the capital, Bang-won and his father are able to find refuge in a scholar’s house.

Jung Mong-joo tells King Gonyang that he will take full responsibility for executing Jeong Do-jeon, Officer Nam, and Jo Joon. The executions are then set for the next morning.

Episode 36: The bridge

Episode 35 recap:

The scholar in whose house Bang-won and his father find refuge turn out to be Jung Mong-joo’s follower. But Bang-won manages to convince him of his father’s righteous cause and Lee Saek’s failures. The scholar later on helps them get back to the capital.

Sa-kwang warns Moo-hyul to stay away from Jung Mong-joo, or else she will kill him.

Yi Seong-gye meets Jung Mong-joo and tries to convince him of the need for establishing Joseon. But Jung Mong-joo refuses to betray Goryeo and is unapologetic about ordering Jeong Do-jeon’s execution.

Despite his father’s order, Bang-won takes with him Bang-ji, Young-kyu, and several other men to kill Jung Mong-joo.

While Bang-ji and Sa-kwang are fighting to the death on the mountain, Bang-won confronts Jung Mong-joo at the bridge. When Jung Mong-joo refuses to change his mind about Goryeo, Bang-won orders Young-kyu to kill him.

Except for Boon-yi and Da-kyung, everyone else blames Bang-won. The Sungkyungkwan scholars incite the people and petition the King to execute Bang-won. Government officials start resigning en masse in protest against Jung Mong-joo’s murder.

With the people’s sentiments turning against them, Jeong Do-jeon proposes to Yi Seong-gye a radical solution.

Episode 37: Changing the sky

Episode 36 recap:

Moo-hyul joins Bang-ji’s fight against Sa-kwang. Charging head-on, he falls over a cliff with Sa-kwang (see the 2:57 mark of the video below).

Enraged, Yi Seong-gye reprimands Bang-won for killing Jung Mong-joo, and Jeong Do-jeon says that Bang-won no longer has a place in establishing Joseon.

Jeong Do-jeon blames himself for Jung Mong-joo’s death and questions Confucianism’s validity.

But later on, Jeong Do-jeon proposes to Yi Seong-gye that they petition the King to proclaim Jung Mong-joo as a traitor and to hang his head on the Palace walls.

With Jung Mong-joo dead and Sa-kwang missing, King Gongyang gives in to Jeong Do-jeon and Lee Seong-gye’s demand. He declares Jung Mong-joo a traitor and orders his head displayed on a pole outside the city gates.

Later on, Yi Seong-gye becomes King Taejo, the first King of Joseon.

But government services are crippled with Jung Mong-joo’s followers resigning en masse. And scholars begin disappearing mysteriously.

Episode 38: The Crown Prince

Episode 37 recap:

Jeong Do-jeon meets Yeon-hyang who tells him that Nameless will oppose his plans for equal land distribution.

King Taejo (“Yi Seong-gye”) immediately uses one of Jeong Do-jeon’s reforms — the civil service examinations that aim to select people for government positions based on merit, not on class status or influence. But the reform fails when the scholars boycott the exam.

Some 300 to 400 scholars have resigned and put up their own village outside the capital. With more people arriving at the village, Jeong Do-jeong allows Bang-won to talk to and try to persuade the scholars to return.

But at the village, Bang-won orders his men to burn it down.
After burning down the village, Bang-won continues to pressure the scholars who are still holding out.

King Taejo’s eldest son Bang-woo refuses to be the Crown Prince, putting the royal succession in crisis. All of King Taejo’s sons are now eligible to be the Crown Prince, with various people and parties — Minister Jo Joon, the Queen, Nameless — advocating for their respective choice.

Episode 39: Alliances

Episode 38 recap:

Bang-won orders the food supply cut off, and soon, the starving scholars give up and resentfully return to their posts.

Moo-hyul and Young-kyu discuss the morality of their recent acts.

A Buddhist monk (who turns out to be part of Nameless) warns Queen Sindeok that her son Bang-seok will die at an early age if he doesn’t become the Crown Prince.

Yeon-hee tells Boon-yi that she must take orders only from Jeong Do-jeon and King Taejo.

Bang-won finds out that Nameless manipulated the choice for Bang-seok as Crown Prince. But Yeon-hyang assures Bang-won that their larger plan is for him to seize power later on.

Jeong Do-jeon tells King Taejo that he will support Bang-seok as Crown Prince only if he’s appointed as military commander with full power and authority.
Jeong Do-jeon wants to be the overall military commander in order to protect Bang-seok from his brothers.

At the next assembly, King Taejo appoints Bang-seok as Crown Prince and Jeong Do-jeon as the Crown Prince’s tutor. (Moo-hyul and Young-kyu are also appointed to government positions.)

Yeon-hee tells Boon-yi that she must return home to prevent her from being torn between Bang-won and Jeong Do-jeon.

Later on, Jeong Do-jeon goes on a secret mission.

Episode 40: The two envelopes

Episode 39 recap:

Bang-won orders Moo-hyul to kill a Hwasadan spy. When Moo-hyul hesitates, Young-kyu kills the spy.

Bang-won’s name is excluded from the government posters crediting all those responsible for establishing Joseon.

Boon-yi tells Bang-won that she chooses Jeong Do-jeon. Bang-won pleads with her, and Da-kyung tells Bang-won that he must take Boon-yi as his concubine.

Jeong Do-jeon disguises himself as a merchant to contact the Jurchen chiefs. While on the mission, he meets Yooksan.
Jeong Do-jeon suspects that all of the Mansang merchants are part of Nameless and orders them arrested.

He sends to Yeon-hee the red envelope containing the secret deal that he made with one of the Jurchen chiefs.

But the red envelope gets stolen.

Episode 41: Cho-young

Episode 40 recap:

A Nameless agent kills Seon-dol (Boon-yi’s follower), but Seon-dol has already passed on the red envelope to somebody else.

The red envelope ends up in Boon-yi’s hands. After grieving over Seon-dol, she meets Bang-won and Jeong Do-jeon in the cave.

Boon-yi presents two envelopes containing information vital to Bang-won and Jeong Do-jeon. She wants no more killings and wants to leave with her followers.

After a tense verbal confrontation with Bang-won, Jeong Do-jeon offers to settle Boon-yi and her followers in Banchon, the village of servants for Sungkyungkwan.

Bang-won gets caught in a trap with Shin-jeok and Cho-young (former head of Hwasadan). Arresting him are Jeong Do-jeon and King Taejo himself.
While Shin-jeok and Cho-young are being tortured, Bang-won pleads his innocence with King Taejo.

Bang-ji and some soldiers follow a Hwasadan spy who’s in turn following a Nameless spy carrying Cho-young’s letter.

Bang-won finally gets King Taejo’s permission to interrogate Cho-young.

Episode 42: The Hidden Root

Episode 41 recap:

Gil Seon-mi kills the Hwasadan spy, and Yooksan escapes. Inside the cave, Bang-ji finally meets his mother Yeon-hyang. She tells Bang-ji that if he and Boon-yi continue to serve Jeong Do-jeon, then he must kill her someday.

Shin-jeok turns out to be secretly working for Jeong Do-jeon, assigned to get close to Bang-won and to find out who the Nameless leaders are. Before Bang-won reaches the State Tribunal, Shin-jeok kills Cho-young.

Instead of a five-year exile to a faraway province, Bang-won takes Jeong Do-jeon’s offer for him to be Joseon’s envoy to Ming.

But as Bang-won and his party reaches Liaodong Fortress, they are arrested.
Bang-won and his party are arrested by Zhu Di, Prince of Yun and fourth son of Hongwu Emperor. When Zhu Di threatens Bang-won, Moo-hyul breaks free and threatens Zhu Di with a spear.

Meanwhile in Banchon, Boon-yi and her followers are leading peaceful and prosperous lives. But that peace is soon threatened when a Nameless spy steals something from Sungkyungkwan and then hides in Banchon.

Episode 43: Bang-won’s move

Episode 42 recap:

Moo-hyul wins the gladiator match against Zu Dhi’s warrior. With Yeon-hyang’s help, Bang-won and his party are allowed to pass through Liaodong. But Moo-hyul must be left behind to serve as Zhu Di’s bodyguard. Bang-won tells Moo-hyul that he must, with Master Hong’s help, become the best swordsman in Zhu Di’s army.

King Gongyang is strangled to death.

Hanyang is now Joseon’s capital, and Jeong Do-jeon establishes “The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty.”

Boon-yi refuses to allow government officials and soldiers to search Banchon for the Nameless spy. (The spy is later on killed by Gil Seon-mi.)

Jeong Do-jeon and other Confucian scholars establish the “Hidden Root.”

Bang-won is on his way back to Joseon after his Ming exile.

King Taejo has approved Jeong Do-jeon’s reform of banning private armies and establishing a unified Joseon army. But some government officials and nobles refuse to disband their private armies.

Later on, Bang-won is accused of misrepresenting himself to Ming as Joseon’s Crown Prince. Those who went with him like Ha Ryun are arrested and tortured.

Episode 44: Jeong Do-jeon’s counter-move

Episode 43 recap: Bang-won visits Boon-yi in Banchon and gives her an ornate Ming hair pin.

Moo-hyul sees Sa-kwang in Banchon; she pleads with him not to disclose her identity.

To save Ha-Ryun, Master Hong, and Moo-hyul, Bang-won prostrates himself in front of the Crown Prince Bang-seok’s Palace. Bang-seok rushes to him and pleads with King Taejo to release Bang-won’s men.

At the next assembly, a letter from Ming is read before King Taejo and the ministers. Ming demands that Jeong Do-jeon be sent there to answer for his crime of insulting the Emperor.
Bang-won, Da-kyung, and Lord Min prepare their people and the resources for the coming fight with Jeong Do-jeon.

Government ministers and Confucian scholars are divided on whether to send Jeong Do-jeon to Ming. But Bang-won through Ha Ryun and the Sungkyungkwan scholars increases the pressure on Jeong Do-jeon.

Jeong Do-jeon tells Bang-won not to be too sure of himself since he (Jeong Do-jeong) hasn’t made his move yet. That remark begins to torment Bang-won.

Later on, King Taejo leaves the Palace, and Jeong Do-jeon disappears.

Episode 45: The gifts

Episode 44 recap:

Bang-won asks Boon-yi about the contents of the red envelope that she gave to Jeong Do-jeon.

Bang-won and Ha Ryun can’t believe that Jeong Do-jeon is seriously thinking about planning an expedition to conquer Liaodong. They think that he will just use the expedition to push through with his military reforms.

King Taejo and Jeong Do-jeon secretly meet at the old assembly hall in Gaegyeong. Jeong Do-jeon says that the circumstances of the Ming royal family favor the Liaodong expedition.

At that same time, Bang-won meets with the Nameless leaders who tell him that Jeong Do-jeon’s Liaodong expedition must be stopped at all costs.
King Taejo approves Jeong Do-jeon’s plans for a new Liaodong expedition, which will effectively dismantle the private armies and solidify Joseon’s unified army. The whole nation prepares for war.

A distracted Bang-won visits and gives an ink stone to Crown Prince Bang-seok and herbal medicines to Jeong Do-jeon.

When King Taejo’s sons and other nobles who have private armies boycott the grand military training, King Taejo vows to punish them all. Later on, he orders his sons, Ji Ran, and their military officers to attend a formal ceremony.

Episode 46: The preparations

Episode 45 recap:

As King Taejo’s sons, Ji Ran, and their military officers are put on the spot and pledge their allegiance, soldiers raid their houses and confiscate their weapons. Their private soldiers are mustered into Joseon’s unified army.

Young-kyu finds King Gonyang’s son inside the weapons storage room. In an ensuing fight, he is killed by Sa-kwang.

Bang-won reveals to Moo-hyul that, years ago, he killed several of his classmates in Sungkyungkwan. He says that now, he must kill Crown Prince Bang-seok and Jeong Do-jeon.
Bang-won uses the 49-day mourning period for Young-kyu to plan his moves and to organize his forces.

Boon-yi discovers the weapons hidden in Banchon; at Young-kyu’s wake, she confronts Bang-won.

Moo-hyul and Master Hong take over Young-kyu’s responsibility over the weapons.

When news comes of the Hongwu Emperor’s death, Jeong Do-jeon and King Taejo move quickly to get Joseon’s army to Liaodong.

Episode 47: First strife

Episode 46 recap:

Bang-won tells Boon-yi that she’s free to report to Jeong Do-jeon about the weapons she found.

Bang-won wants to kill Jeong Do-jeon, Officer Nam, and Crown Prince Bang-seok’s father-in-law before the expedition begins. His forces will arrive in the capital on the day before the expedition sets off.

Moo-hyul and Master Hong are moving the weapons out of the storage room when Moo-hyul’s grandmother Myo Sang comes upon them. She makes Moo-hyul promise that he will not fight Bang-ji and to leave with her if things get worse.

Yeon-hee gives Bang-ji a suit of armor he can use, while he gives her in return the necklace that grandmother Myo Sang gave him.

As the curfew bell tolls, Bang-won and his men start moving out.
Gab-boon overhears from Boon-yi and grandmother Myo Sang’s conversation that Bang-won and his men are moving that night. She runs to warn Bang-ji and Jeong Do-jeon.

Jukryong and his men lure Bang-ji away from Jeong Do-jeon.

Bang-won, his brothers Bang-gan and Bang-gwa, and their combined forces attack Officer Nam’s vacation house and the Military Affairs Office. Later, some of their forces surround the Palace.

While Bang-won and his men are able to kill most of their targets, they can’t find Officer Nam and Jeong Do-jeon.

Episode 48: Revenge

Episode 47 recap:

Bang-ji catches up with Yeon-hee who’s being held hostage. Yeon-hee tells Bang-ji to leave her and rescue Jeong Do-jeon. When Bang-ji hesitates, she sacrifices herself by cutting her throat with the sword held against her.

King Taejo finds out about the attacks but is too weak physically to do anything.

Jeong Do-jeon and Officer Nam escape into Sungkyungkwan. Officer Name later on escapes, but Jeong Do-jeon calmly stays behind to face Bang-won and his men.

With Boon-yi watching, Bang-won kills Jeong Do-jeon.

Bang-ji sneaks into Sungkyungkwan but is met by Moo-hyul.
When Moo-hyul tells Bang-ji that it was his idea to use Yeon-hee to lure Bang-ji away from Jeong Do-jeon, Bang-ji attacks him more ferociously.

Later on, Bang-won and his forces attack the Palace. He then confronts a confused and crying Crown Prince Bang-seok.

Note: Video below of the sword fight between Bang-ji and Moo-hyul has some spoiler scenes starting at the 1:38 mark on how the fight will end.

Episode 49: The banquet

Episode 48 recap:

Boon-yi and grandmother Myo Sang arrive and beg Bang-ji and Moo-hyul to stop fighting.

Bang-won executes his brother Crown Prince Bang-seok.

King Taejo tries to kill Bang-won, but Ji Ran stops him. Later on, he abdicates, and Bang-gwa becomes King.

On the run, Officer Nam tells Shin-jeok to kill him and earn Bang-won’s trust.

Bang-ji is ambushed by soldiers at the place where Jeong Do-jeon’s body has been dumped. Wounded, he escapes and is tended to later by his mother.

Contrary to Jeong Do-jeon’s last wish, Bang-ji vows revenge against Bang-won.

On the other hand, Bang-won tells Ha Ryun that he will destroy Nameless.
Bang-won plans to wipe out Nameless by first eliminating its three bases.

Bang-gwan (now King Jeonjong) is confronted by his brother Bang-gan for doing everything that Bang-won wants.

Banchon’s residents are arrested and tortured at the State Tribunal. Boon-yi asks Moo-hyul for help, but he can’t provide any. Later on, she pleads with Bang-won to help her people.

When Yeon-hyang and Yooksan confirm that Bang-won will continue Jeong Do-jeon’s reforms, they start planning to kill him.

Episode 50: The finale

Episode 49 recap:

Moo-hyul tells Bang-won that he can no longer serve him. Bang-won allows him to leave.

Boon-yi pleads with Bang-won and says that she’s willing to become his concubine if he will save her people. Bang-won doubts her sincerity; later on, he orders Shin-jeok to set Boon-yi’s people free.

At the banquet, Yeon-hyang plans to poison Bang-won, with Bang-ji and dozens of Nameless warriors lurking nearby. But Boon-yi arrives to warn Bang-won. As they’re trying to escape, a fight breaks out between Bang-won’s men and the Nameless warriors. Bang-ji arrives to kill Bang-won, but Sa-kwang appears also, intent on kiling Yooksan and Yeon-hyang. Bang-ji turns to defend his mother.

Gil Seon-mi catches up with the fleeing Bang-won and Boon-yi. But Moo-hyul comes to their rescue.
Years later, Bang-won (now King Taejong) and Da-kyung (Queen Wongyeong) have three children — the youngest of which is Li Do.

When King Taejong orders all of Li Do’s books burned, Li Do pleads with him. Echoing Boon-yi’s words, Li Do says, “As long as I live, I must be doing something." When asked what politics is all about, Li Do says it’s all about distribution — who to get from and who to give to. (These words shock King Taejong because it’s what Jeong Do-jeon said a long time ago.)

King Taejong finds Moo-hyul and asks him to become Li Do’s bodyguard. Moo-hyul, later on, asks King Taejong if he wants to visit Boon-yi.

Episode 50 recap:

After killing Gil Seon-mi, Moo-hyul joins Bang-ji in fighting and killing Sa-kwang.

Yeon-hyang orders Jukryong to lie low and wait for further orders. She and Bang-ji leave for Ming.

Years later, at the island, Boon-yi and her people practice communal farming, following the equal land distribution system that Jeong Do-jeon started. When she meets King Taejong, she says that she’s happy with her life.

Many years later, an old and silver-haired Boon-yi goes to the capital. She meets some people who are trying to teach children how to read and write using the 28 characters that King Sejong (Li Do) has created. She remembers what Jeong Do-jeon said about Minbon — if people learn to read and write, they will truly become the root of the nation.

Boon-yi finds the forgotten grave where Jeong Do-jeon is buried. As she looks at the paper containing the 28 characters, she dies there peacefully.

Theme-based recaps by text, graphics, and videos

These theme-based recaps are meant for people who have already seen “Six Flying Dragons” but would like watch again certain scenes or episodes. For example, Bang-won gave Boon-yi two gifts — a pair of shoes (after they escaped from Hamju) and an ornate hair pin (after his Ming exile). For the romantics among you, I have embedded two videos below that show the scenes involving these two gifts.

Also, I have posted several graphics in this post relating to what some of the characters said about politics, government, the people, etc.

Overview/summary of “Six Flying Dragons” (8 minutes, no English sub)

Bang-won: from idealism to ambition

Bang-won and Moo-hyul bromance (with focus on gladiator fight in Ep. 42 but with flashbacks to scenes from other episodes)

Bang-won’s gifts to Boon-yi (shoes and hair pin)

Mark: from .28 onwards

Marks: from start to .06; .28; .34; 1:24; 1:37; 2:33

Mark: from 1:36 to 2:13

For Moo-hyul and Cheok Sa-kwang shippers

“Mu-yi-yi-ya” various versions

Ep. 2 Jeong Do-jeon and the defiant scholars sing

Korean male choir version
(as sung in Ep. 2)

Lyrics video

Byun Yo-han version

Historical backgrounders on “Six Flying Dragons” and other information

Historical characters among the six dragons: Yi Seong-gye, Jeong Do-jeon, and Bang-won

Fictional characters among the six dragons: Boon-yi, Moo-hyul, and Lee Bang-ji

Fictional characters based on historical characters: Gil Tae-mi (fictional) based on Yim Gyeon-Mi (historical); Hong In-bang (fictional) based on Yeom Heung-bang (historical); Lee In-gyeom (fictional) based on Yi In-Im (historical).

Other historical characters: Young-kyu (Bang-won’s bodyguard who killed Jung Mong-joo); Nam Eun (Jeong Do-jeon’s aide); Ha Ryun; Jung Mong-joo

References: Asianwiki and Bodashiri
1. “Why people are so fascinated by Jeong Do-jeon” interview by Korea Joongang Daily with Choi Sang-yong (emeritus professor at Korea University and Korean ambassador to Japan 2000-2002)


“Jeong was pretty much the architect behind the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), helping Yi Seong-gye (1335-1408) build the new dynasty and become its first ruler, King Taejo. However, Jeong died just six years after the foundation of Joseon, killed by Yi Bang-won (1367-1422), the son of King Taejo, in a political struggle.

“As is usually the case, history is written by the winners — and Jeong was not one of them, which is why, until now, the public and academics weren’t interested in Jeong.”

2. Related dramas:

“Deep Rooted Tree” (aka “Tree with Deep Roots” (2011)

“Jeong Do-jeon” (2014)

3. Historical backgrounders on “Six Flying Dragons” from Bodashiri

Episode 01: General Yi Seong-Gye’s family history; Jo So-Saeng is not his sworn brother; The political situation in 1375

Episode 02: Jung Do-Jeon’s song “Mu-Yi-Yi-Ya” Lyrics; The Work of Mencius; Jung Do-Jeon’s exile (1375)

Episode 03: King Gongmin and Princess Noguk; Mencius’ view on politics

Episode 04: Hong In-Bang’s “War sale”

Six answers from the SFD production team (up to ep. 4): Are they real historical figures?; What is ‘Zantgar’?; Piglets breast-fed by human milk, Is it real?; The meaning of the farce prepared by Yi In-Gyeom; Jung Do-Jeon’s song; Hong Ryun vs. Gil Tae-Mi

Episode 07: The Border Stabilization Plan (August 1383); Ancient Asian Horoscope

Episode 09: Goryeo’s two meanings; General Choi Young’s accusation against Hong In-Bang’s servant (1388)

Episode 10: Sima Wi and Zhuge Liang; Haedong Gapjok #1; The tragedy of 4 war heroes in the Red Turban invasion (January 1362); The rebellion of Heungwangsa temple (March 1363)

Episode 11: The Invasion of Hobaldo (1383)

Episode 12: Yi Seong-Gye’s siege; Nam Eun (1354-1398)

Episode 13-14: Bang-Won’s north Korean dialect; Commoners’ names - Boon-Yi and Tang-Sae; Lady Min / Queen Wongyung (1365-1420); Haedong Gapjok #2; Yi clan’s status; The courtesy in aristocratic marriage / Saju

Episode 15-16: Aristocratic names: Tang-Sae vs. Yi Bang-Ji; Yi Ji-Ran (1331-1402); Jo Ban’s rebellion (January 1388); The similarity between Hong In-Bang and Yi Bang-Won; Gunpowder in Korea / Choi Mu-Seon (1325-1395); Dynastic revolution; Mongol invasions of Korea (1231-1259)

Episode 17-18: Dodang Triumvirate - Yi In-Gyeom, Gil Tae-Mi, Hong In-Bang, Baek Yoon; The various names referring to Korea; Mokja will get the new nation; Gil Tae-Mi and the Rebellion of Heungwangsa temple (1363); Jo Min-Soo (?-1390) with Yi In-Gyeom; Mencius and Human nature; Jung Do-Jeon’s check and balance system: Samsa

Episode 19: King U of Goryeo (1365-1389); The conquest of the Liaodong peninsula (April 1388); Lady Gang / Queen Shindeok (?-1396); Rhino’s horn and composite bow

Episode 20: Choi Young (1316-1388); Tai Gong Wang (11th century BC), the angler; The meaning of “Nation” in Confucian ideology

Episode 20 Fact Check: “A white horse vs. a black horse” part is a fiction; Bang-Won and Bang-Ji were not drafted. Why?; Did Choi Young really take Yi Seong-Gye’s family hostage?; How accurate are the descriptions of Wihwa island retreat in ep. 20?; Why couldn’t Choi Young stop Yi Seong-Gye’s military coup?

Episode 21-22: Yi Seong-Gye’s character in the real history; Was his coup accidental? or premeditated?; The Seige of Gaegyung (June, 1388); Yi Bang-Won’s whereabout during the battle; General Jo Min-Soo’s choice; A children’s song to frame Yi Seong-Gye; Ha Ryun (1347-1416)

“Ha Ryun” in the history

Episode 23-24: The Red Banquet, is it true?; Ha Ryun : A Face Reader (physiognomist); Yi Sook-Beon (1373-1440); The Land Reforms #1; Jung Do-Jeon’s idea); Yi Saek’s idea; Jo Joon’s idea

Goryeo’s Land System

Episode 25-26: The bloody banquet at Dohwa mansion; Jo Min-Soo (?-1390); The social status of palace maid; Nameless, the secret organization / Buddhism; Poeun Jung Mong-Joo (1337-1392)

Episode 27: King Gongyang (1345-1394 / Reign: 1389-1392); Traitor Kim Yong (?-1363) / Joseon-era interpretation; How to appoint the government officials: Goryeo vs. Joseon

Episode 28: Kim Jeo’s rebellion (November, 1389)

Episode 29-30: Cheok Sa-Gwang; Cheok Joon-Gyeong (?-1144) - Cheok Sa-Gwang’s ancestor Pye-Ga-Ip-Jin; “Depose the fake and enthrone the authentic”; Gyu-Mok-Hwa-Sa; The flower called "Gye” will die.” Maeng-Do-Chil-Yak A meaningless phrase; Their dreams at the banquet / Yi Ji-Ran, Jo Young-Gyu, Jung Do-Jeon, Yi Bang-Woo; Classic of Changes / Book of Changes / Joo-Yeok; Jumping techniques : Chool-sang-sool vs. Chool-ha-sool; Tree with Deep Roots reference “If a king is a flower, its root is a minister.”

Episode 31-32: Topknot; “Never call my name.” / Pen names / Sambong; Jung Do-Jeon’s Constitutional Monarchy; Gyeongdeokgung Palace - Bang-Won’s new residence; Yacha - Moo-Hyul’s new nickname; The Land Reforms #2; The history of Nameless / Bidam and Yeomjong in “Queen Seondeok”

Starting with Bidam? “Nameless” in SFD Universe

Episode 33-34: The Expulsion of Buddhism - Bulssi Japbyeon (‘Buddha’s Nonsense’); Jung Do-Jeon’s Family Tree; The impeachment of Jung Do-Jeon (September, 1391); Goryeo‘s Slave System / King Taejong’s slave law; Yi Seong-Gye’s injury (March-April, 1392)

King Taejong (Yi Bang-Won) and Buddhism

Episode 35-36: Jo Mal-Saeng (1370-1447); Jung Mong-Joo (1338-1392); The Murder on Seonjuk Bridge (April, 1392); Ep. 36 Fact Check

Yi Bang-Won’s poem vs. Jung Mong-Joo’s poem: Yi Bang-Won’s Hayeoga (What if song); Jung Mong-Joo’s Dansimga (single-hearted devotion song)

Episode 37-38: The establishment of Joseon (July 17, 1392); Dumoon-dong village; Hwang Hee (1363-1452); The Crown prince issue / Joseon’s royal family (August, 1392)

Ep. 37-38 Q and A: Who is the Queen Dowager (Lady Ahn)? Why they petitioned to her?; Why do the princes get other names instead of their real names?’ Why didn’t Yi Seong-Gye pass the throne to Yi Bang-Won?; King Taejong’s abdication; What is the Hwado Gaekbang?; Who is Cheon-Ji-Bi?; King Taejo’s daughters; King Taejo’s sons - Yi Bang Ui, Yi Bang Gan

Episode 39-40: The list of founding contributors; The relationships between King Taejo and Jung Do-Jeon; The secret treaty with Jurchens; Banchon village; Boon-Yi‘s future in Tree with Deep Roots?; Bang-Won in the next episode? / Yongle Emperor

Episode 41-42: The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty; The Massacre of Wang Clan (April, 1394); The diplomatic tension between Joseon and Ming China (1394); Yi Bang-Won was sent to Ming China (June, 1394); Yi Bang-Won’s meeting with Zhu Di; Zhu Di, aka Youngle Emperor (reign 1402-1424)

Episode 43-44: Was Yi Bang-Won mistaken as the Crown Prince in Ming China?; Jo Young-Gyu (?-1395); Gwon Geun (1352-1409); Jung Do-Gwang and Maeng-Soon; Jung Do-Jeon’s Military Reforms (1396); Why did the Ming Emperor get angry? (1395-1397); Jung Do-Jeon’s Liaodong expedition; Jo Joon (1346-1405); Weapons in Banchon?; How many children does Bang-Won have by this point in time?

SFD Civil War match-up

 Episode 45-46: King Gongmin, and Sambong’s Constitutional Monarchy; Jo Young-Gyu’s death; The First Strife of Princes (August 26, 1398) - Part. 1; The Participants in the First Strife of Princes – Princes; The Participants in the First Strife of Princes - Lieges- Ha Ryun, Yi Sook-Beon, Min Brothers, Yi Geo-Yi, Yi Cheon-Woo, Park Po, Jo Mal-Saeng; Woo Hak-Joo; Minbon (“The people are the roots of the nation”); Other Tree with Deep Roots (TWDR) references; Yeon-Hee = Sambong’s woman?; How did Jung Gi-Joon get to know Yi Bang-Ji?; Why did Milbon (Hidden roots) turn nasty?

Episode 47-48: The First Strife of Princes - Part 2. History distortion; Jung Do-Jeon’s death (August 26, 1398); Jung Do-Jeon (1342-1398); King Jeongjong (1357-1419 / reign: 1398-1400); The First Strife of Princes - Part 3. Victims - Crown Prince Yi Bang-Seok (1382-1398) - Yi Bang-Beon (1381-1398) - Yi Je (1365-1398) - Nam Eun (1354-1398)

Episode 49-50: Baek Dal-Won (?-?); The Second Strife of Princes (January, 1400); The collapse of Min Clan and Queen Wongyeong (1365-1420); King Sejong the Great (1397-1450); Jung Do-Jeon’s grave; Tsushima Expedition (1419)

4. Behind the scenes

Byun Yo-han aka “Lee Bang-ji” or “Ddaeng-sae” in sword fighting practice; after clicking the “Play” button, click “Watch on Youtube” for the video to open in a new tab (no English sub).

Fans love“Cheok Sa-kwang” because she’s the only female who can challenge Bang-ji, Moo-hyul, or Jukryong in a sword fight.
(It would have been a lot of fun if she had fought Gil Tae-mi!) The video below shows the stunt double in action; after clicking the “Play” button, click “Watch on Youtube” for the video to open in a new tab (no English sub).

Promising action star — video below shows the actress who plays Hwasadan’s chief warrior; after clicking the “Play” button, click “Watch on Youtube” for the video to open in a new tab (no English sub).

Lessons in photography from “Six Flying Dragons”

Differential or selective focusing, shallow depth of field, natural frame

Line of direction, natural frame, focus on the eyes


Silhouette, natural frame, rule of thirds

Quality and direction of light, light and shadow

Warrior Moo-hyul! (natural frame)

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