Saturday, February 16, 2019

“Haechi” synopsis, Eps. 1-48 (no spoilers)

“Haechi” is a Korean historical drama from SBS. It's written by Kim Yi-young who also wrote the hit dramas “Yi San” (2007), “Dong Yi” (2010), and “The King’s Doctor” aka “Horse Doctor” (2012).

“Haechi” will trace the rise to the throne of Yi Geum aka Prince Yeoning. You might remember Prince Yeoning as (1) the son of
Dong Yi and King Sukjong in “Dong Yi” and (2) the old king in “Yi San” who’s the father of Crown Prince Sado and grandfather of Yi San.

(Click the picture above to view
or download a bigger copy)
Jump to synopsis of Episodes 1-2 (1); 3-4 (2); 5-6 (3); 7-8 (4); 9-10 (5); 11-12 (6); 13-14 (7); 15-16 (8); 17-18 (9); 19-20 (10); 21-22 (11); 23-24 (12); 25-26 (13); 27-28 (14); 29-30 (15); 31-32 (16); 33-34 (17); 35-36 (18); 37-38 (19); 39-40 (20); 41-42 (21); 43-44 (22); 45-46 (23); 47-48 (24, Finale); Historical backgrounders and other information such as “Is Prince Mil-poong a historical character?” (each episode summary also has its own historical notes); Lessons in photography from “Haechi”

Clarification: The 48 episodes of “Haechi” were aired in only 24 broadcasts. Each broadcast had two episodes, with each episode running for 30 minutes or less. Korean law prohibits the airing of commercials within a one-hour broadcast, and so, some studios shoot their dramas by using two episodes in one broadcast. This allows the airing of commercials between the episodes. Thus, some websites numbered this drama’s episodes as Ep. 1 (which was actually Ep. 1 and Ep. 2), Ep. 2 (actually Ep. 3 and Ep. 4), and so forth.

How I wrote these episode summaries with no spoilers

1. I assumed that you will be reading these summaries 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 summary starting with Episodes 3-4, I placed in a table a recap of the 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,” “The Princess’s Man,” “The Flower in Prison,” “Saimdang, Light’s Diary,” “The Moon That Embraces The Sun,” “Moonlight Drawn By Clouds,” “Jumong,” “Dong Yi,” “Rebel: Thief Who Stole People,” “Yi San,” “Jejoongwon,” “Six Flying Dragons,” The King’s Doctor,” and “A Jewel in the Palace.”)

Ep. 1 “The Lowly Prince” and Ep. 2 “Death Ledger”

Backgrounders and characters introduced in Eps. 1-2:

Haechi: legendary animal that looks like a lion with scales and a single horn, that can judge between good and evil

Saheonbu: powerful judicial authority whose job is to investigate crimes and arrest criminals; because of its reputation and integrity, common folks refer to it as “Haechi.”

Yi Geum (aka “Prince Yeoning”): you might remember him as (1) the young son of King Sukjong and Dong Yi in the 2010 hit “Dong Yi” and (2) the old king in the 2007 hit “Yi San” who’s the father of Crown Prince Sado and the grandfather of Yi San; in history, he was Joseon’s 21st king who ruled for 52 years.

King Sukjong: Joseon’s 19th king

Crown Prince: later, King Gyeongjong, 20th King of Joseon; you’ll remember him as the son of King Sukjong and Lady Jang in “Dong Yi.”

Yi Tan (aka “Prince Milpoong”): direct descendant of Prince Sohyun (son of King Injo); he wants to be the next king and is supported by the Noron faction of ministers.

Yi Hwon (aka “Prince Yeon-ryeong”): next to the Crown Prince in the line of succession; supported by the Soron faction

Queen Inwon: King Sukjong’s third wife, after Queen Inhyun and Lady Jang (“Jang Hui-bin”) died

Minister of Personnel Min Jin-heon: leader of the Noron faction of ministers; along with Prime Minister Kim, the principal supporter of Prince Mil-poong

Han Jung-seok: a courageous and upright inspector of the Saheonbu

Hwi Byung-joo: an inspector of the Saheonbu who belongs to the powerless Nam-in faction

Park Moon-soo: a dorky and pesky friend of some Saheonbu inspectors; he has failed the civil service exams for the last 10 years.

Yeo-ji: female investigator (“damo”) of the Saheonbu

The power struggle intensifies between the Noron and Soron factions of court ministers as the problem of the Crown Prince becomes public knowledge. The Noron faction supports Prince Mil-poong, while the Soron faction supports Prince Yeon-ryeong.

Led by Inspector Han Jung-seok, the inspectors from Saheonbu suspect that Prime Minister Kim has been covering up Prince Mil-poong’s crimes; they raid his house, despite the political risks.

After arriving in the capital, Yi Geum (“Prince Yeoning”) agrees to do a favor for his friend, the stable owner; he takes the civil service exams as a substitute for someone named Roh Tae-pyeong. But during the exam, his seatmate Park Moon-soo finds out about his deception. (Moon-soo is the dorky and pesky friend of some Saheonbu inspectors; he  has failed the civil service exams for the last 10 years.)

During a celebration in the palace, Prince Yeon-ryeong enters the palace, together with Prince Yeoning. Later, Prince Yeoning gets into an altercation with Prince Mil-poong. But the altercation stops when King Sukjong announces that he has restored the status of Prince Sohyun’s wife, who is Prince Mil-poong’s great-grandmother. Prince Mil-poong and the Noron faction rejoice at the distinct possibility that he will be invested as the next Crown Prince.

At a gisaeng house, Prince Yeoning learns from his friend about the rumors of Prince Mil-poong’s crimes. He decides to investigate these rumors by joining the royal hunt. But unknown to him, Inspector Han Jung-seok has sent to the hunt his “damo” Yeo-ji, in disguise, to look for Prince Mil-poong's “death ledger.”

Notes: 1. At the 47:22 mark of Ep. 2, we first come to know that the gisaeng with the tangerines is Yeo-ji, a “damo” (female investigator) at the Saheonbu.

According to the article “Joseon cops similar to police today” (Korea Joongang Daily), a woman could become a police officer during the Joseon Dynasty. She had to be more than 5 feet tall, able to lift a bag of rice weighing more than 40 kilograms (88.18 pounds), and capable of downing three bowls of “makgeolli,” a Korean rice wine.

2. If you’re wondering if Prince Mil-poong and Prince Yeon-ryeong are historical characters, then please read my discussion in the historical backgrounders section below.

Ep. 3 “Your Name Is ..” and Ep. 4 “Welcome Back, Prince Yeoning!”

Eps. 1-2 recap: Because his mother was a slave, Prince Yeoning is ostracized by the royal family; his only friend is Prince Yeon-ryeong.

Prince Mil-poong is an evil man who kills and rapes anyone whom he pleases. Among those whom he has killed is Roh Tae-pyeong, who tried to blackmail him. 

Conflicts arise among the Saheonbu’s inspectors as the Noron faction tries to block their investigation of Prince Mil-poong.

During the hunt, Yeo-ji is caught stealing a locked box from Prince Mil-poong’s tent.
As Prince Yeoning and Yeo-ji run away from Prince Mil-poong and his men, they agree to meet later on to discuss what’s inside Prince Mil-poong’s locked box.

When Roh Tae-pyeong takes first place in the civil service exams, Moon-soo becomes more obsessed with catching the man who substituted for him. Later, after seeing the wanted poster that Moon-soo had asked for, Yeo-ji realizes the connection between Roh Tae-pyeong and Saheonbu’s investigation of Prince Mil-poong.

King Sukjong becomes even more disappointed with Prince Yeoning after learning about his explanation for his fight with Prince Mil-poong during the hunt.

When a storyteller begins spreading in public places the stories of Prince Mil-poong’s crimes, the Noron ministers panic, and Prince Mil-poong orders his men to dig up Roh Tae-pyeong’s grave in the woods. But Yeo-ji has already found out the meaning of the objects that she found inside Prince Mil-poong’s box.


1. In Ep. 4 (46:41 mark), Yeo-ji identifies the buried corpse as Roh Tae-pyeong through his identification tag (“hopae”).

During the Joseon Dynasty, all men above 16 were required to carry the “hopae” on which were inscribed the bearer’s name, place of birth, status, and residence.

The “hopae” system was initiated by King Taejong in 1413, apparently on the basis of a similar practice by the Yuan dynasty in China.
Hopae Sool is a Korean weapon system which uses
the Hopae, or ‘Name Tag’, as a weapon.
It was originally
called Dantaebong or Bantaebong.

The “hopae” was also used for self-defense, as you can see in the scene on the right from Ep. 6 of “A Tree With Deep Roots.”

2. At the 47:13 mark of Ep. 4, we can see that Minister Min Jin-heon is wearing glasses.

From “Ensuring to be seen” (The Korea Times), historian Robert Neff says:

“During the close of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) era, glasses were often viewed as a symbol of rank and prestige rather than a tool to enable the elderly to see.”

“... there were rules on the proper etiquette of when to wear glasses. Similar to smoking tobacco, one did not wear glasses in front of one’s elders and superiors. To do so in front of the monarch was even worse.”

“King Jeongjo (r. 1776-1800), who may have been the first Joseon monarch to wear glasses, was faced with the dilemma of choosing whether to wear his glasses in front of his council or forego them and basically be unable to read the documents before him.”

3. In Ep. 4 (starting at the 44:48 mark), Yeo-ji defends herself against Prince Mil-poong’s men by using a six-sided, wooden club (“cudgel”). The cudgel was used by night watchmen and police officers during the Joseon Dynasty. It had various shapes and sizes, depending on the rank of the user and its function.

The cudgel can be highly-effective in the hands of an expert, as you can see in the GIF below from the 2017 Korean historical movie “The Age of Blood.”

Ep. 5 and Ep. 6 “The Misfortunes of Virtue”

Eps. 3 and 4 recap:

Among those whom Prince Mil-poong has killed is Roh Tae-pyeong, the man for whom Prince Yeoning took the civil service exam; he is also the uncle of the widow whom Prince Mil-poong raped.

Moon-soo finally finds out that the man whom he has been chasing is none other than Prince Yeoning.

Yeo-ji, Prince Yeoning, and Moon-soo find the body of Roh Tae-pyeong in the woods.

The grand council of the Saheonbu forces Inspector Han Jung-seok to reveal his evidence against Prince Mil-poong.
Prince Yeoning appears before the Saheonbu grand council and confesses that he took the test for Roh Tae-pyeong on Prince Mil-poong’s order. Despite the anger of the Noron officials, Inspector Han Jung-seok demands that Prince Mil-poong be arrested.

Yeo-ji and Moon-soo rush to Gae Dol’s house to arrest him and bring him before the Saheonbu. Later, as turmoil rocks the royal court over Saheonbu’s demand to arrest Prince Mil-poong, Prince Yeoning arrives and requests to speak to King Sukjong and the ministers.

Prince Yeon-ryeong visits Prince Yeoning late at night and pleads that he withdraw what he asked King Sukjong to do.

Minister Min Jin-heon orders Inspector Hwi Byung-joo to strike back against Inspector Han Jung-seok. But after Inspector Hwi Byung-joo leaves their secret meeting place, Dal Moon suddenly appears and threatens Minister Min Jin-heon.

King Sukjong meets in secret an official from the Ministry of Justice. But later, the official reports the meeting to Minister Min Jin-heon.

With Gae Dol under arrest, Dal Moon takes over his people and his businesses. Later, the storyteller begins spreading all over the capital rumors about Prince Yeoning’s reckless ways and corrupt activities.

Note: The game that Prince Yeoning, Yeo-ji, and the others were playing is called “seunggyeongdo nori” which means “climbing the government career ladder.”

For more information about how this game was played, surf to “Hidden Facts You Didn't Know About Joseon Dynasty and Korean Empire ...”

A similar game to “seunggyeongdo nori” is “seongbuldo” or literally “drawing of becoming Buddha.” Instead of bureaucratic rankings, players advance through Buddhist eschatology; first played during the Goryeo Dynasty, it’s still played today among Korean Buddhists.

Ep. 7 and Ep. 8 “The Night of Fate”

Eps. 5-6 recap:

While Prince Mil-poong is being arrested, Prince Yeoning asks King Sukjong to exile him to Tamra (Jeju) Island.

King Sukjong secretly tells Saheonbu’s Chief Officer that he wants Prince Yeoning to succeed him as King.

Minister Min and the Noron faction decide to support Prince Yeon-ryeong, on the condition that Prince Yeoning must frame Inspector Han Jung-seok.
Stunned by Minister Min Jin Heon’s words, Prince Yeoning staggers towards Inspector Han Jung-seok’s house where he meets Yeo-ji. Meanwhile, at the palace, the Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector asks King Sukjong why he has chosen Prince Yeoning as his successor.

Inspector Han Jung-seok explains to Yeo-ji and his wife about the pile of money that was delivered to his house. But later, he’s arrested on charges of bribery.

At the palace, Minister Min Jin Heon tells King Sukjong that the Noron faction will support Prince Yeon-ryeong as the next king. Meanwhile, together with the royal guards, Inspector Hwi Byung-joo ransacks the office of Inspector Han Jung-seok on the ground that he instigated the false testimony against Prince Mil-poong.

Prince Mil-poong is released from prison, but he finds out that the Noron faction has abandoned him. Pressured by the Prime Minister’s concubine, he vows revenge against Prince Yeoning.

Because of the chaos in the Saheonbu, King Sukjong gives to the Chief Inspector the Ministry of Justice’s records against Prince Mil-poong. Later, Yeo-ji, Moon-soo, and the other investigators start searching for Prince Mil-poong’s “death ledger.”

King Sukjong meets Prince Yeon-ryeong and tells him that he has chosen Prince Yeoning as the next king. In reply, Prince Yeon-ryeong asks for a few days to consult with the Soron faction.

Prince Yeoning finds out about the connection between the storyteller and Dal Moon. But while he confronts Dal Moon and as Yeo-ji, Moon-soo, and the other investigators raid a temple, Prince Mil-poong carries out his revenge.

Notes (with spoilers):

1. At the 1:04 mark of Ep. 7, Minister Min Jin Heon says: “I remembered how intelligent you used to be when you were young.”

As I noted above, this drama’s writer also wrote the 2010 hit “Dong Yi.” You might remember the delightful scene in Ep. 45 when Geum (aka Prince Yeoning) amazes his teacher by reciting the Confucian classic “Elementary Learning.”

2. At the 1:04 mark of Ep. 7, Prince Yeoning’s wife tells the servant to “spray some salt” after Yeo-ji and Moon-soo leave the house. During the Joseon Dynasty, throwing salt on the ground was used to block or cast out bad luck.

3. Beginning at the 57:00 mark of Ep. 8, after King Sukjong dies, a eunuch goes up to a roof of the palace and begins waving his robe and shouting. “Return to us, Your Majesty!”

The eunuch is performing a ritual in traditional Korean funeral service known as “chohon” or “kobok.” Immediately after a person dies, the person closest to the deceased brings the outer garment of the deceased up to the roof. The garment is then waved towards the north, and the name of the deceased is called out three times so that the departing spirit may come back.

If the call does not bring the deceased back to life, only then is he or she officially declared dead. The garment is used to cover the deceased.

From the poem “Calling Back the Spirit” by Kim So-wol, one of Korea’s most-beloved national poets: “Oh, (the name) that has been scattered! Oh, (the name) that has vanished in air! Oh, (the name) that has not answered my call! Oh, (the name) that I will surely die while calling out!”

Ep. 9 “Back To The Living” and Ep. 10 “Prince Mil-poong Is Back”

Eps. 7-8 recap:

At the temple, Yeo-ji, Moon-soo, and the other investigators fail to find Prince Mil-poong’s “death ledger.”

Prince Mil-poong kills Prince Yeon-ryeong.

Inspector Hwi Byung-joo kills Inspector Han Jung-seok.

Shocked by Prince Yeon-ryeong’s murder, King Sukjong collapses and dies.
Yeo-ji and the other investigators are kicked out of the Saheonbu, and Minister Min Jin-heon warns Prince Yeoning to keep quiet about Prince Yeon-ryeong’s murder. As he stumbles on the street under the rain, Prince Yeoning remembers the words of Prince Yeon-ryeong and Inspector Han Jung-seok.

One year later ...

When several prisoners escape from Jeonokseo, the Noron ministers use it as an excuse to continue attacking King Gyeongjong and their rival Soron faction.

Queen Seonui decides that one of the royal princes must be adopted to become King Gyeongjong’s heir. Later, the Prime Minister’s concubine begins visiting the palace.

Moon-soo continues to study for the upcoming civil service exams, while Yeo-ji does odd jobs to earn a living. During the memorial service for Inspector Han Jung-seok, they start bickering, with Moon-soo saying that Prince Yeoning has forgotten about them.

The Soron faction begins petitioning King Gyeongjong to restore his mother Jang Hui-bin’s status. In retaliation, the Noron ministers decide that they themselves must choose who the next Crown Prince will be. But their plans are thrown into disarray when the Qing entourage arrives in Joseon, together with Prince Mil-poong.

Note: Ep. 9 mentions that several dozen prisoners escaped from “Jeonokseo.” You’ll probably remember that Jeonokseo is the prison in the 2016 hit drama “The Flower in Prison.”

From “The old central prison of Joseon Seoul” (JoonGang Daily): It was a prison that used to house common criminals. But during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), independence fighters were incarcerated there, one of the great injustices of Korea’s colonial past.

The nine-cell prison stood where Gwanghwamun Post Office in Jongno, central Seoul, is located today.

1st picture: the historical Jeonokseo; 2nd picture: the fictional Jeonokseo
in “The Flower in Prison”; 3rd picture: modern location of Jeonokseo
(click the picture to view or download a bigger copy)

Ep. 11 “Wavering Alliance” and Ep. 12 “The Civil Service Exams”

Eps. 9-10 recap:

Prince Yeoning finds out that the Noron faction and Inspector Hwi Byung-joo planned the escape of the prisoners from Jeonokseo.

Yeo-ji sneaks into Saheonbu’s records room, but Prince Yeoning catches her.

Prince Yeoning tells Minister Min Jin-heon that he can be the prince and the king that the Noron faction wants.
While Prince Yeoning offers himself as a prince and a king that the Noron ministers can use, Queen Dowager Inwon storms into Queen Seonui’s quarters and demands to know why she suggested that Prince Mil-poong be adopted by King Gyeongjong.

Along with Yeo-ji, Moon-soo interrogates the scholar who was paid to help him, but they stop and rush to the public square where the results of the civil service exams have just been posted.

Conflict arises among the Saheonbu officials over a case filed by Prince Yeoning in a corruption case that involves the Office of Royal Genealogy and the Noron faction. When Inspector Hwi Byung-joo confronts him, Prince Yeoning reminds him that he still has in his custody the prisoner who escaped from Jeonokseo.

Minister Min Jin-heon blames the Prime Minister and his concubine Yoon-young for the Noron faction’s problem with Prince Mil-poong. Meanwhile, the Soron ministers question King Gyeongjong for his decision to adopt Prince Mil-poong.

A junior Saheonbu inspector named Yoon Hyuk continues to investigate the irregularities in the civil service exams. As he talks with a subordinate, they hear about someone who’s making trouble at the government office where the answer sheets for the exams are kept.

While Prince Mil-poong and the Qing envoy are hunting for tigers, Minister Min Jin-heon orders all of the Saheonbu officers to thoroughly investigate Prince Mil-poong and the Prime Minister’s concubine.

Yeo-ji tricks the owner of the food-catering business into revealing who has been helping her and Moon-soo.

Prince Yeoning meets Inspector Hwi Byung-joo to turn over the prisoner from Jeonokseo, but Prince Mil-poong and his men ambush them.

Note: In Ep. 12, Moon-soo gets King Gyeongjong’s attention by banging a gong to signify his protest.

As I noted above, this drama’s writer also wrote “Yi San” (2007) and “Dong Yi” (2010). At the end of Ep. 2 of “Yi San,” she has a similar scene where the young Yi San bangs a gong as he runs after King Yeongjo to present the evidence of his father Crown Prince Sado’s innocence.

Korean traditional music uses two kinds of gongs: the “jing” and the smaller “kkwaenggwari.” For more information, surf to “Traditional Korean Music: Pungmullori” and “Rooted in Korean Folk Music Tradition, Samulnori Finds a Home in the 21st Century.”

Besides banging the gong, there was another way called “Kukmin Sinmumgo” by which Joseon commoners could get the king’s attention to their problems. Anyone with a complaint could bang the big drum called “Shin-mun-go” which was located in front of the palace. The system was set up by King Taejong  (3rd  Joseon) in 1401 A.D. Read more about the “Kukmin Sinmumgo” in the historical notes for Eps. 25-26 below.

Ep. 13 “The Art Of Propaganda” and Ep. 14 “Prince Yeoning for King”

Eps. 11-12 recap:

Yeo-ji finally finds out that it’s Prince Yeoning who has been helping her and Moon-soo. As she walks away, Prince Yeoning’s concubine thinks about how Prince Yeoning’s romantic feelings for Yeo-ji.

While Prince Mil-poong mocks Minister Min Jin-heon and the Noron ministers, King Gyeongjong meets Moon-soo who’s protesting the irregularities in the civil service exams.

Prince Yeoning sends to Inspector Yoon Hyuk all the documents that prove that the Noron faction has been manipulating the results of the civil service exams.
Flashback ... The night after the deaths of King Sukjong and Prince Yeon-ryeong, Prince Yeoning meets Crown Prince Hwiso and promises that he will bring down the Noron ministers.

Inspector Yoon Hyuk and his men arrest the Noron ministers who are involved in the anomalies in the civil service exams. Meanwhile, Moon-soo has also been arrested and is being flogged.

Prince Yeoning reveals to Yeo-ji and the others how people cheat during the civil service exams and how the Noron faction has corrupted the system.

Minister Min Jin-heon meets King Gyeongjong in private and warns him about Prince Yeoning. On other hand, Yoon-young pressures Queen Seonui to assert her authority by moving forward with Prince Mil-poong’s adoption.

As the Saheonbu investigates more government officials in the anomalies, Minister Min Jin- heon instigates the Noron allies in the “Saganwon” (Office of Censors) to protest what’s happening to King Gyeongjong.

Dal-moon and his storyteller try to shift public opinion in the Noron faction’s favor. But Yeo-ji and Moon-soo find out about it, and they report it to Prince Yeoning.

Moon-soo believes that there are thousands of scholars who are also fed up with the corrupt government officials and the anomalies in the civil service exams. And so, Yeo-ji comes up with a plan to influence and mobilize these scholars. After dressing up and with some instructions from Prince Yeoning, Yeo-ji and the others proceed to Banchon, the slave village that’s located right beside Sungkyungkwan.

Prince Mil-poong feels that he’s losing in the power struggle, and so, he orders Yoon-young to get his “Death Ledger.” Later, as Yeo-ji leaves Prince Yeoning’s house, Minister Min Jin-heon’s assassin follows her.

Note: In the early minutes of Ep. 13, Crown Prince Hwiso looks at the Royal Portrait of King Sukjong.

Only seven portraits of five Joseon kings remain today as the others were destroyed during the Korean War (1950-1953). These surviving portraits are those of King Sejong, King Yeongjo, King Jeongjo, King Cheoljong, King Gojong, and King Sunjong. You can view these portraits at the Royal Portrait Museum in Jeonju, Korea.

The 2008 drama “Painter of the Wind” shows in detail the requirements for a Royal Portrait. You might also remember that Saimdang and Lee Gyeom painted the Royal Portrait of King Jungjong in “Saimdang, Light’s Diary” (2017).

Ep. 15 “The Beginning of the Counterattack” and Ep. 16

Eps. 13 and 14 recap:

Prince Mil-poong kills the prisoner from Jeonokseo who could have implicated the Noron ministers.

Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector Yi Yi-gyeom reveals to the Prime Minister, Prince Yeoning’s father-in-law, Queen Dowager Inwon, and King Gyeongjong that the late King Sukjong wanted Prince Yeoning to succeed him as king.

While Yeo-ji fights for her life in Banchon, Dal-moon rescues Prince Yeoning from the assassins.
Dal-moon raises his sword to kill Prince Yeoning; meanwhile, in Banchon, the assassin drags Yeo-ji to his secret place.

King Gyeongjong is stunned by the appeal of the Prime Minister and Saheonbu Chief Inspector Yi Yi-gyeom to appoint Prince Yeoning as his successor. As the news spreads quickly about the secret meeting, the ministers from the warring Noron and Soron factions rush to the palace. Minister Min Jin-heon seeks an urgent audience with Queen Dowager Inwon, and eunuchs block Prince Mil-poong from seeing King Gyeongjong.

The conflict soon reaches the Saheonbu when Minister Min Jin-heon demands that Prince Yeoning be charged with treason.

Moon-soo finds out what happened to Yeo-ji and rushes to rescue her.

King Gyeongjong becomes suspicious of everything that Prince Yeoning has done so far and of his real relationship with the Noron faction. After Queen Dowager Inwon promises to obey his decision, he sends his royal guards to carry out his order.

After failing to find Prince Yeoning in his house, the royal guards rush to and surround the place where Moon-soo has taken Yeo-ji. Despite Moon-soo’s objection, Prince Yeoning says that he won’t hide from the royal guards.

Notes on head gears for men during the Joseon Dynasty:

1. Picture no. 1: You'll notice that Moon-soo's hat (“gat” or “heukrip”) is wider than those of his friends from the Saheonbu.

That’s because during the Joseon Dynasty, hats indicated a person's social status: the wider the hat, the higher the status.

Pictures no. 2 and 3: The head gear that Prince Yeoning and King Gyeonjong are wearing is called “myeonryugwan.” It was worn during special events; the more the number of strings, the higher the rank.

Picture no. 4: The ministers are wearing a ceremonial crown known as “yanggwan” (aka “geumgwan” because of its color).

2. From “Hats offer glimpse of Joseon culture” (Korea Times):

The late Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) was called the `”Nation of Hats'” by foreigners. American astronomer and author Percival Lowell (1855-1916), who visited the Joseon Kingdom, particularly noted that its hats were the most impressive among others for their diversity, originality and practicality in his book “Choson (Joseon), the Land of the Morning Calm'” in 1885.

The hats served a variety of purposes ― protection from cold and heat, decoration and fashion and a means to represent social status and formality.

3. From “Breaking down the hats and hairstyles of ‘Kingdom’: The hit Netflix series has viewers curious about Joseon-era accessories” (Korea JoonGang Daily)

From commoners to noble scholars, nearly all men of the Joseon era wore hats. According to “Joseon Era Hat Dictionary” author Yang Jin-sook, a professor in the department of textile design at Hanyang University, these hats were not usually worn for practical reasons, such as protecting someone from the sun. Instead, they reflected Confucian values — formality, authority and dignity — which was the foundations of politics at the time.

“From a philosophical perspective, people at the time considered their hair to be equivalent to the mountains and the sky. Mountains were considered ‘high’ and ‘honorable’ so wearing a hat was like having this honor bestowed upon their heads. From a practical perspective, hats were meant to show one’s social class. Just by looking at the hats, people could distinguish whether a person was a girl or a boy, or a high-class scholar or a commoner who worked in the fields.”

4. For more information, especially on the numerous head gears and hairstyles for women, surf to “A Guide to Joseon Hairstyles and Headgears” (The Talking Cupboard).

Ep. 17 “The Strike of Man” and Ep. 18

Eps. 15 and 16 recaps:

Because Yeo-ji was wearing Prince Yeoning's clothes, Minister Min Jin-heon's assassin mistakenly attacks her.

Dal-moon vows his allegiance to Prince Yeoning.

Prince Yeoning is adopted by Queen Dowager Inwon, and despite fierce opposition from the Noron and Soron factions, King Gyeongjong appoints him as the Crown Prince.

Moon-soo finally passes the civil service exams and becomes a Saheonbu inspector. Yeo-ji is also reinstated to her former position.
As a young girl escapes from Qing slave traders, a government official is found murdered in his own house.

While the hazing rituals of Moon-soo and the other new inspectors continue, Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo urges the Chief Inspector to kick Moon-soo out of Saheonbu.

Scholars gather in front of the palace gate to protest Prince Yeoning’s appointment as Crown Prince. As the Noron and Soron factions continue to oppose Prince Yeoning, conflict arises between Queen Seonui and Dowager Queen Inwon.

To catch the slave traders, Inspector Yoon Hyuk assigns Yeo-ji to an undercover operation in a newly-opened gisaeng house. Owned by a man named Do Ji Gwang, the gisaeng house is popular among men from Qing and Japan.

Dal Moon’s men have also gone to the gisaeng house in disguise, but they’re recognized and get caught. Do Ji Gwang and his men beat them up, and later, they attack Dal Moon's headquarters.

Note (with spoiler): As I stated above, “Haechi” is written by Kim Yi-young who also wrote the classic dramas “Yi San” (2008) and “Dong Yi” (2010). In “Haechi,” she seems to be continuing a theme that she used in “Yi San” and “Dong Yi,” that is, a secret organization that kills abusive nobles and government officials.

In “Yi San,” a slave gang known as the “Saljoogyeran” kills several Noron officials who have abused their slaves. In “Dong Yi,” the Sword Fraternity, under Gaeduara, kills abusive slave owners. The slave gangs have their distinctive symbols — the tattoo on the hand/wrist in “Yi San” and the headband in “Dong Yi.”

As we can see in Eps. 17 and 18 of “Haechi,” there again seems to be a secret organization that’s targeting abusive nobles and government officials. This time, the distinctive symbol is the tattoo “Murder the master” on the shoulders of its members.

Ep. 19 “The Girl with the Black Tattoo” and Ep. 20

Eps. 17-18 recap:

The Soron ministers boycott the morning lectures with Prince Yeoning; they also warn King Gyeongjong about Prince Yeoning’s ambitions.

As Yeo-ji and Moon-soo fight off Do Ji Gwang’s men, Prince Yeoning witnesses the murder of another government official. He sees on the back of the killer the tattooed words “Murder the master.”
As the assassin changes disguise and slips away, Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo orders the Saheonbu officers to arrest Prince Yeoning. The news of Prince Yeoning’s arrest soon spreads like wildfire among the ministers and the royal family.

Officials of the Department of Justice rush to the Saheonbu to claim their jurisdiction over Prince Yeoning. As he steps in between the opposing sides, Prince Yeoning tells Yeo-ji about the assassin.

As Prince Yeoning refuses to cooperate in the investigation, chaos and confusion break out with the Noron ministers fighting among themselves. When the Saheonbu officials and inspectors rush to the palace and threaten to resign from their posts, King Gyeongjong agrees to hand Prince Yeoning back to them.

After finding about the events, Prince Mil-poong leaves the Buddhist temple where he has been staying and goes back to the capital. Meanwhile, Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo seeks the help of disgraced Minister Min Jin-heon in solving the case.

Prince Yeoning’s faithful servant (who’s now a palace guard) finds out what kind of knife was used in the murder. Meanwhile, Yeo-ji, Moon-soo, Dal-moon, and the others find out that the murders of the nobles and the government officials have all been carried out by children.


Kuk Sool Won rope technique
1. In the opening scenes of Ep. 19, Yeo-ji fights against Do Ji-gwang’s men and bodyguard by using a rope. While several Asian martial arts use the rope (or a belt) as a weapon, Yeo-ji’s techniques are probably based on two Korean martial arts — Kuk Sool Won and Hapkido (“pho bak” or rope).

From “The Weapons of Hapkido: Rope techniques”:

“In Ancient times the palace guards of the Korean Royal Court employed rope techniques to subdue and control any trespassers.  It was forbidden to carry any bladed weapons within the Royal Court so the guards adapted a harmless looking length of rope into a weapon.

“Rope techniques are rapid, circular wrapping techniques designed to effectively wrap any part of the attacker’s body.  The rope is also used to block kicks and punches just before wrapping and trapping the opponent’s limbs.”

2. In Ep. 20, some children were hired to fix the heating system for King Gyeongjong’s quarters. The traditional system for heating houses during the Joseon Dynasty and even today is called “ondol,” which uses heated stones.

For more information about this heating system that’s uniquely Korean, surf to “Ondol (Korean Home Heating System) an ancient heating system lasting millennia.”

3. After Prince Yeoning was appointed as Crown Prince, his nemesis Minister Min Jin-heon was demoted to an administrative position in “Hanseongbu,” which is present-day Seoul. In “Haechi,” the term “Hanseongbu” is also used to refer to the bureau that ran the capital. (In October 1394, Joseon transferred its capital to “Hanyangbu” later renamed as “Hanseongbu.”)

1st picture: the fictional Gwanghwamun in “Haechi”; 2nd picture: the restored, present-day Gwanghwamun

4. Several scenes in “Haechi” show the Saheonbu office as being located right outside “Gwanghwamun Gate.”

From Wikipedia: Gwanghwamun is the main and largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea.

Gwanghwamun was first constructed in 1395 as the main gate to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main and most important royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty. During the 1592 Japanese invasion, it was destroyed by fire and left in ruins for over 250 years.

5. During the Joseon Dynasty, there were several slave revolts, the most famous of which was the “Donghak Peasant Revolt” that occurred in 1894.

A Korean historical movie about a peasant revolt is “Kundo, Age of the Rampant” (2014). This movie earned 7 million US dollars and won numerous awards: Blue Dragon Film Award for Best Music, Grand Bell Award for Best Costume Design, and Blue Dragon Film Award for Best Cinematography/Lighting.

Ep. 21 “The Limp, The Face with Smallpox Scars, and Nine Fingers” and Ep. 22 “The People”

Eps. 19 and 20 recaps:

Prince Yeoning refused to reveal to the Department of Justice and the Saheonbu who the assassin was because he didn’t want the chaos of the previous slave revolt to beset the country again.

As Prince Yeoning finds the assassin who’s helping clean up the heating system in the palace, Moon-soo and Dal-moon find the headquarters of the children-assassins.

The Soron minister assures Dowager Queen Inwon that Prince Yeoning has the qualities of a king that Joseon needs.

As Prince Yeoning faces the Saheonbu grand council, Minister Min Jin-heon arrives and presents the assassin. Meanwhile, Prince Mil-poong intervenes as Inspector Hyun Yuk, Moon-soo, Yeo-ji, and their men attack Do Ji-gwang’s gisaeng house.
Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo reveals to the Saheonbu grand council the tattooed words “Murder the master” on the girl’s shoulder. Meanwhile, as Prince Mil-poong stops Inspector Hyuk Yoon, Yeo-ji, and their men from arresting Do Ji-gwang, Moon-soo draws his sword in anger.

After finding out what’s happening at the Saheonbu, King Gyeongjong orders the Soron ministers to send the royal guards to protect Prince Yeoning and bring him back to the palace.

On orders of the Saheonbu grand council, the inspectors raid the camp of the children-assassins.

The opposition against King Gyeongjong and Prince Yeoning increases when Soron’s highest leader appears and makes a deal with Minister Min Jin-heon. But as the ministers gather at the grand hall, King Gyeongjong sneaks out of the palace.

Noblemen gather at the palace gate to denounce Prince Yeoning, but the commoners begin their own protest.

Note: During the Joseon Dynasty, all men above 16 were required, under penalty of law, to carry the “hopae” on which were inscribed the bearer’s name, place of birth, status, and residence. The “hopae” system was initiated by King Taejong in 1413, apparently on the basis of a similar practice by the Yuan dynasty in China.

From “The Korean Mind: Understanding Contemporary Korean Culture” (2012):

The “hopae” was made of different materials to indicate the social status of the bearer: noble class (“yangban”) - ivory; middle-ranked government officials - deer horn; lower-ranking officials - yellow poplar wood; commoners - ordinary wood (small tags); outcasts, slaves, etc. - ordinary wood (large tags).

The “hopae” served many purposes:

1. For keeping track of farmers and slaves, who were not allowed to change residences;

2. For the national corvée (unpaid labor) system, where males between 16 to 60 were required to provide labor for government and civil projects;

3. For taxation and the rounding up of men for military service.

If you have seen “Chuno, The Slave Hunters,” you will remember that episode where Dae-gil and his buddies were trying to raise money for their expenses. They pretended to be secret inspectors and extorted money from those men who could not produce their “hopae” or who had fake “hopae.”

The “hopae” was also used for self-defense in a Korean weapon system known as “Hopae Sool,” as you can see in the scene (right) from Ep. 6 of “A Tree With Deep Roots.” “Hopae Sool” was originally called Dantaebong or Bantaebong.

Ep. 23 “A Criminal Transaction” and Ep. 24 “Prince Mil-poong’s Backfire”

Eps. 21-22 recap:

Prince Yeoning wins over the commoners but outrages the noblemen by saying that, if he becomes the next king, he will impose taxes on the landowners who have been exploiting the tenant-farmers. As a symbol of their support for him, the commoners (and later, some noblemen and government officials) throw their “hopae” or identity tag into a pile outside the palace gate.

Prince Mil-poong tries to win Dal-moon over to his side; his concubine Yoon-young is shocked to hear Dal-moon's name.

To protect Prince Yeoning, Yeo-ji offers to enter the palace as a court lady. But Prince Yeoning says no, holds her hands, and pulls her close to kiss her.

Prince Yeoning shows and tells Yeo-ji what could happen if she becomes a court lady in the East Palace.

Two policemen on patrol come upon a group of men who are violating the curfew and carrying a palanquin. Later, the group leader reports to the Section Chief of Personnel what happened.

In the palace, King Gyeongjong, Prince Yeoning, and the Soron ministers observe the agricultural rite at the royal field. Afterwards, the peasant-farmer who helped in the rite bows down before Prince Yeoning and thanks him for his concern for the commoners.

Dal-moon goes to Prince Mil-poong’s house to discuss whether he will sell his information-gathering services; there, he meets Yoon-young, a woman from his past.

Moon-soo investigates the strange case of a woman who refuses to bury her dead husband. His investigations alarms the Section Chief of Personnel, who then asks for help from Senior Inspector Hwi Byung-joo.

The Soron ministers inform King Gyeongjong and Prince Yeoning about an opportunity to wrest power away from the Noron faction.

After asking Yoon-young to use her past relationship with Dal-moon to their advantage, Prince Mil-poong wines and dines his followers. Later, he asks someone to submit a petition to King Gyeongjong and then goes to the palace to confront Prince Yeoning.


1. Starting at 7:34 mark of Ep. 23, King Gyeongjong, Prince Yeoning, and the Soron ministers observe an agricultural rite at the royal field.

Referred to in the drama as “Chinkyeongrye,” the agricultural rite was also known as “Seonnongje,” or “Gyeongjeongnye” (ceremony of cultivating the royal field), or “Jeokjeonnye” (ceremony at the royal field). After the worship ritual, the king performed another ritual at the royal house’s private farmland called “jeokjeon.” This second ritual, referred to as “ochurye” was meant to set an example for the agrarian nation with the king personally attending to the rice paddies. (From “Korean Seasonal Customs: Agricultural Rite,” Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture)

From “The Surprisingly Little-Known History of White Rice in Korea”: Korea was always a largely agricultural country. According to R. Malcom Keir, by the beginning of Japan’s occupation, 75 percent of Korea’s population was engaged in farming, with 94 percent of the arable land devoted specifically to rice fields. The Japanese catalogued over 1,400 varieties of rice indigenous to Korea at this time, but by the end of the occupation, virtually none of them would remain.

2. Spoiler alert: The rookie policeman was killed by his partner with the trident (three-pronged spear) known as “dangpa.”

From “How metal, iron and steel changed history” (Korean JoonGang Daily): “The most distinct weapon of the Joseon Dynasty is the dangpa, or trident, which was used by foot soldiers. Since it had three points, it had higher accuracy to hit the target and the points were also crooked, so it was easier to grab and trip enemy soldiers.”

The “dangpa” was first described in the “Muyejebo” (Compendium of Several Martial Arts), the oldest extant Korean martial arts manual that was written during the reign of King Seonjo (d. 1608).

Ep. 25 “Temptation” and Ep. 26

Eps. 23-24 recap:

Because of Ah-bong, Yeo-ji misinterpretes Prince Yeoning's actions.

Prince Yeoning recommends Inspector Yoon Hyuk to become the next Section Chief of Personnel; this agitates the Noron ministers because the position has authority over the Saheonbu and other critical government offices.

Prince Mil-poong seeks to create intrigue between King Gyeongjong and Prince Yeoning by asking, through the petition, for Prince Yeoning to act as the king's regent.

Prince Mil-poong’s anonymous petition for regency outrages Soron’s highest leader and re-ignites King Gyeongjong’s suspicions of Prince Yeoning.

Yoon Hyuk, the new Section Chief of Personnel, also upsets the officials and men of the three critical offices (Saganwon, Hongmoongwan, and Saheonbu) by threatening to fire all officials who are involved in corruption. Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo and the Saheonbu officials rush to meet at Do Ji-gwang’s gisaeng house to plot their countermove.

As Dowager Queen Inwon becomes aware of the growing conflict between King Gyeongjong and Prince Yeoning, Dal-moon finds out about the petition for regency. He confronts Yoon-young, who assures him that serving Prince Mil-poong will benefit him much more.

Minister Min Jin-heon also finds out about the petition for regency and tells the other Noron ministers that they should just wait and watch from the sidelines the conflict between King Gyeongjong, the Soron ministers, and Prince Yeoning.

After winning Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo over to his side, Prince Mil-poong sets into motion his next attack against Prince Yeoning.

Notes on Joseon Dynasty’s politics and its system of addressing complaints or filing appeals with the government:

1. Prince Mil-poong’s anonymous petition for regency was sent to King Gyeongjong through the Royal Secretariat (Seungjeongwon). The Royal Secretariat served as a liaison between the king and Six Ministries. There were six royal secretaries, one for each ministry, of senior third rank. Their primary role was to pass down royal decree to the ministries and submit petitions to the king, but they also advised the king and served in other key positions close to the king. (Wikipedia)

From “e-People, One-stop Online System”
2. From “Efforts and Achievements of the ACRC Korea in Protecting Vulnerable Classes of the Society”:

About 600 years ago, the Ancient Joseon Dynasty had a system for ordinary people to file their complaints by beating a big drum, called “Shin-mun-go” located in front of the palace so that their king could listen to the sound, and help solve their problems. This system is the origin of the Korean government’s system to address people’s problem.

3. From “E-People: Initiative – Facilitating Communication and Conflict Resolution between the Government and the People”:

The original Korean name of the “e-People” system is Kukmin-Sinmoongo, which means people’s Sinmoongo. Sinmoongo was actually a name of a big drum and the e-People was originated from the system that the 3rd King Taejong initiated in the Joseon Dynasty in 1401 A.D. At that time, people were supposed to appeal their complaints to the regional government offices they belonged to. However, not all the complaints were resolved at those regional offices. In that case, people could appeal their unresolved complaints by beating the “Sinmoongo” drum letting the king listen to their petition, directly to help them.

Based on the history, the name, “Kukmin Sinmumgo” was given to the system, meaning that it is a system to solve people’s grievances and difficulties in the promptest and the most precise way.

4. The politics of the Joseon dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 to 1897, were governed by the reigning ideology of Korean Confucianism, a form of Neo-Confucianism. Political struggles were common between different factions of the scholar-officials. Purges frequently resulted in leading political figures being sent into exile or condemned to death.

Purges in Joseon Dynasty were often violent, leading to the execution and internal exile of many members of the losing side. In some cases, even the graves of their ancestors were desecrated. Purges were especially widespread during Sukjong's reign, when there was change of faction in power four times, each time accompanied by cycle of revenge for earlier wrongdoings. (Wikipedia)

Ep. 27 “Decisive Battle” and Ep. 28

Eps. 25-26 recap:

Because of Yoon-young’s sweet words, Dal Moon wavers in his loyalty towards Prince Yeoning.

The Saheonbu officials order the arrest and investigation of Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo, with Moon-soo leading the investigation.

Prince Mil-poong creates a treasonous plot that involves the son and grandson of the Noron ministers who initiated the move to appoint Prince Yeoning as the Crown Prince.
As he suffers through the repentance ritual, Prince Yeoning begins to have visions of the late Prince Yeon-ryeong.

With the arrest of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Personnel, and a dozen others, King Gyeongjong creates a special judiciary agency to investigate the treasonous plot. He also orders that Prince Yeoning be locked up in the Department of Justice.

Moon-soo finds the autopsy report on Inspector Han Jung-seok’s death and begins investigating. Meanwhile, acting on Prince Mil-poong’s order, Dal-moon orders his men to spread rumors about Prince Yeoning all around the capital.

Dal-moon visits Prince Mil-poong at the gisaeng house to claim his reward. But before he can say what’s the reward that he really wants, Do Ji-gwang asks Prince Mil-poong to meet some Ming traders. Meanwhile, in the palace, Minister Min Jin-heon refuses Prince Yeoning’s offer of cooperation against Prince Mil-poong.

After the alleged plotters have been tortured all through the night, the Soron Chief Justice demands that Prince Yeoning be finally brought before the special judiciary agency and be interrogated.

Notes on Joseon Dynasty’s legal system:

1. 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. [emphasis by boldfacing supplied]

2. 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.

3. In Ep. 28, Dowager Queen Inwon shows her unwavering support for Prince Yeoning by giving him the eyeglasses of the late King Sukjong (Joseon’s 19th king). But this is historically inaccurate because respected historian Robert Neff says that it was King Jeongjo (Joseon’s 22nd king, aka “Yi San”) who was the first Joseon king to wear eyeglasses.

From “Ensuring to be seen” (The Korea Times), Neff says:

“During the close of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) era, glasses were often viewed as a symbol of rank and prestige rather than a tool to enable the elderly to see.”
King Jeongjo in “Yi San” Ep. 77
“... there were rules on the proper etiquette of when to wear glasses. Similar to smoking tobacco, one did not wear glasses in front of one’s elders and superiors. To do so in front of the monarch was even worse.”

“King Jeongjo (r. 1776-1800), who may have been the first Joseon monarch to wear glasses, was faced with the dilemma of choosing whether to wear his glasses in front of his council or forego them and basically be unable to read the documents before him.”

Ep. 29 “Decisive Battle 2” and Ep. 30

Eps. 27-28 recap:

Through Dal-moon, Prince Mil-poong spreads the malicious rumor that King Sukjong isn’t Prince Yeoning’s real father. But Prince Yeoning and Moon-soo find a secret message in the posters that Dal-moon asked his men to put up all over the capital.

Moon-soo tracks down the Saheonbu inspector who was present when Inspector Han Jeong-seok died.

At the special judiciary agency, Minister Min Jin-heon surprises King Gyeongjong and the other ministers by defending Prince Yeoning.
After remembering his sister Queen Inhyeon who was deposed and his elder brother who was beheaded, Minister Min Jin-heon speaks up and objects to King Gyeongjong’s interrogation of Prince Yeoning.

Enraged at the turn of events, Prince Mil-poong turns his anger towards Dal-moon.

Moon-soo continues to investigate Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo's connection to Inspector Han Jeong-seok’s death. Later, he and his fellow inspectors decide to publicly accuse Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo of murder, but the Saheonbu’s senior officials block their way.

When the Soron ministers tell him that he was wrong in accusing Prince Yeoning of treason, King Gyeongjong drinks the night away; later, he issues a mission order for the royal guards.

After finding out about the recent events, Do Ji-Gwang decides to escape from the capital; he orders his men to immediately gather all his money and valuables. The Ming merchants who provided the poison to Prince Mil-poong also escape.

Ep. 31 “The Trace of Evil” and Ep. 32

Eps. 29-30 recap:

Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo is arrested by the Saheonbu.

King Gyeongjong gives Prince Yeoning the authority over the royal guards to arrest Prince Yeoning.

While Moon-soo and the Saheonbu raid Do Ji-gwang’s gisaeng house, Dal-moon and his men prevent the Ming merchants from escaping.

Prince Mil-poong kills a palace guard and, with a knife, approaches King Gyeongjong.
Despite being surrounded by Prince Yeoning and the palace guards, Prince Mil-poong remains defiant and says that if he dies, Prince Yeoning will surely die too.

After the interrogations, King Gyeongjong hands down his punishments against Prince Mil-poong, Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo, and the others who were proven to have joined in the treasonous plots against him. The royal guards raid Prince Mil-poong’s house, but Yoon-young has already escaped.

Prince Yeoning celebrates by going on a night out with Moon-soo, Dal-moon, and the others.

After consulting with Dowager Queen Inwon, King Gyeongjong institutes major reforms; a new Chief Inspector and a new team leader are appointed to restore the integrity of the Saheonbu.

Prince Yeoning becomes confused when he finds out that Prince Mil-poong could have escaped from the palace on the night that he was captured. And his faithful servant/palace guard has found blood stains on a post that leads to the Royal Pharmacy.


1. Yoon-young wears a “jangot” (“changot”) to cover herself, like other noble women in Joseon as they went out in public.

From “Veiling of Korean Women: The Neo-Confucian Influence in Comparison to the Veiling of Muslim Women” by Hye Ok Park (Claremont Graduate University, Department of History):

“There were several different types of veils, Sseugae, worn by Korean upper-class women: Nuhwool, a black sheer silk framed veil to cover from head to waist (Figure 3), Jangot, a head and face-covering in the shape of overcoat, usually made of green pure silk with purple collar and chest straps to be tied at the chin (Figure 4), and Sseugae chima or shorter Jangot, worn by the lower-ranking upper-class women (Figure 5).”

Related article: “Korean Dress and Adornment” by Marilyn Revell DeLong and Key Sook Geum

2.“Irworobongdo” (folding screen commonly seen in historical K-dramas)

“Irworobongdo” is a Korean folding screen with a highly stylized landscape painting of a sun
and moon, streams, and five peaks which always was set behind the king’s royal throne during the Joseon Dynasty. It literally means “Painting of the Sun, Moon and the Five Peaks.” The sun and moon symbolize the king and queen, while the five peaks denote a mythical place. The screen serves to display the majesty of the Joseon royal court. (Wikipedia)

Ep. 33 “A Sorrowful Duty” and Ep. 34

Eps. 31-32 recap:

Dal-moon helps Yoon-young and hides her. But Yoon-young says that he will regret helping her.

King Gyeongjong appoints Prince Yeoning as his regent.

Before getting caught, Prince Mil-poong has placed the poison in the Royal Pharmacy. With Yoon-young’s help, someone from the Royal Pharmacy slips the poison into King Gyeongjong's medicine.
Despite the protests of Queen Seonui and the Soron’s Chief Justice Joo Tae-koo, Prince Yeoning tells them not to give King Gyeongjong the medicine from the Royal Pharmacy. Meanwhile, Yoon-young meets with the Royal Pharmacy’s chief nurse who put the poison in King Gyeongjong’s medicine.

Dowager Queen Inwon herself becomes suspicious of the Royal Pharmacy; she orders her attendant to bring to her Prince Yeoning’s most-trusted assistant.

Through the Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector, Prince Yeoning gathers all of the kingdom’s finest private doctors. But during the meeting of the ministers, Chief Justice Joo Tae-koo bluntly warns Prince Yeoning of the consequences of his actions. Later, Minister Min Jin-heon of the Noron faction advises him on how to evade responsibility should King Gyeongjong become worse.

Before leaving for Prince Mil-poong’s place of exile, Moon-soo asks Dal-moon to intensify the search for Yoon-young. While Inspector Yoon Hyuk goes to check up on Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo, Moon-soo’s colleagues at the Saheonbu (Jang Dal and Ah Bong) interrogate Do Ji-gwang.

Prince Mil-poong mocks Moon-soo about how he poisoned King Gyeongjong and trapped Prince Yeoning. In anger, Moon-soo strikes Prince Mil-poong with his sword and then rushes back to the palace to warn Prince Yeoning.

Dal-moon secretly follows Yoon-young as she meets the chief nurse to give her the promised reward for poisoning King Gyeongjong.

Notes with some spoilers:

1. This drama fictionalizes the way that King Gyeongjong died.

From Wikipedia: There was some speculation from Soron party members that his half-brother, Prince Yeoning, had something to do with his death due to the earlier attempt by the Noron faction to have him replace Gyeongjong on the throne, but several historiographers now conclude that he could have died of eating spoiled seafood, as described in Homer’s book, The History of Korea. “But we may well doubt the truth of the rumour, for nothing that is told of that brother indicates that he would commit such an act, and in the second place a man who will eat shrimps in mid-summer, that have been brought thirty miles from the sea without ice might expect to die.”

2. In Ep. 34, Prince Yeoning tries to save King Gyeongjong by cutting his palm and dripping his blood into King Gyeongjong’s mouth. But Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector tries to stop him, saying that it will endanger his own life.

What was Prince Yeoning trying to do? Well, according to gerrytan8063 of Soompi, “in East Asia medicine, blood is considered mother of ‘qi’ or life energy.” Prince Yeoning was thus trying to revive King Gyeongjong by giving his blood, but in so doing, he is giving away his life energy. (“Qi” is also known as “ki,” “chi,” or “prana.”)

This guy “gerrytan8063” is the premier expert on Korean language and culture as they relate to historical dramas. I had the privilege of interacting with him during the broadcast of “Saimdang, Light’s Diary” back in 2017. You can read his insightful and informative posts about “Haechi” in Soompi.

3. Ep. 33 introduces a new character named “Yi In Jwa” (in history, he was one of the leaders of the Musin Revolt against King Yeongjo). If you don’t mind the spoilers, you can read “Yi In-Jwa – Villain and Rebel” from Epiphanyblog.

Don’t be confused with the new character “Yi In Jwa” and the Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector who is named “Yi Gwang Jwa.” In history, Yi Gwang Jwa was Prime Minister of Joseon from 1724 to 1729.

Picture no. 1: bowl of “sayak”; Picture no. 2: wolfsbane;
Picture no. 3: Lady Jang sentenced to death by “sayak”
in Episode 55 of  “Dong Yi”
4. What were Prince Mil-poong and Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo doing in exile?

They have been sentenced to death by King Gyeongjong and, as part of the procedure, they have been banished or exiled as far away as possible from the capital. Later on, they will be executed by poison (“sayak”).

From “Ingredients of poison used during the Joseon Dynasty to kill traitors” (KBS World):

The main ingredient of “sayak” was arsenic. Also oftentimes used was “wolfsbane” (with hooded bluish-purple flowers, its roots contain a toxic alkaloid compound called aconitine, which causes muscle paralysis). The same substance is used on poison arrows in Africa.

Interesting discussion on “sayak” as depicted in Korean historical dramas: “Old School Executions Part 1: Sayak (Korea/Joseon Dynasty)”

5. Spoiler alert: If wolfsbane was poisonous, why did the Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector recommend to Prince Yeoning the use of wolfsbane and ginseng in treating King Gyeongjong?

In small doses, wolfsbane was used in Oriental medicine to treat various ailments. For more information, read “Medicine and Wolfsbane” (University of New Mexico).

6. Death by “sayak” was reserved for royals, nobles, and high-government officials.

From “How was a criminal punished in the Joseon Dynasty?” (Korea JoonGang Daily)

The Joseon Dynasty had a system of punishment of criminals called “ae jang do yu sa.”

“Taehyeong” - a criminal was beaten on the bare buttocks in public from 10 to 50 times, according to the severity of the crime

“Janghyeong” - a more severe form of beating

“Dohyeong” - imprisonment accompanied again by a beating

“Yuhyeong” - banishment or exile for nobles or government officials

Death penalty - beheading, strangulation, being torn apart by horses

Please read “Penal System in the Joseon Period” for more detailed information about these punishments.

For more information about the exile system during the Joseon Dynasty, please read “Exilic Experiences and Creative Practice: Insights from the lives and art of Scholar-Artists exiled on Cheju Island during the Choson Dynasty (1392-1910)” dissertation by Keumhee Oh, 2012, Curtin University (Australia)

Ep. 35 “The Rights To Become A King” and Ep. 36

Eps. 33-34 recap:

Queen Dowager Inwon takes Yeo-ji as her court attendant to help protect Prince Yeoning.

Yoon-young kills the chief nurse, but Dal-moon finds out how she and Prince Mil-poong plotted to poison King Gyeongjong.

With King Gyeongjong becoming more critical, Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector proposes a radical medical treatment that uses wolfsbane and ginseng. In desperation, Prince Yeoning approves of the treatment, but King Gyeongjong dies.

The Soron officials blame Prince Yeoning for King Gyeongjong’s death; they implore Dowager Queen Inwon that Prince Yeoning must not become the next king.

The Soron faction splits into two opposing sides, with Chief Justice Joo Tae-koo leading those who oppose Prince Yeoning and Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector leading those who support Prince Yeoning. With the split, Prince Yeoning begins to waver in his determination to become king.

Yi In Jwa secretly meets with his fellow Namin faction leaders to plot their moves in view of King Gyeongjong’s death. Meanwhile, Moon-soo meets Yeo-ji in the palace.

With Prince Yeoning’s enthronement as the next king scheduled after six days, the conflict intensifies when Chief Justice Joo Tae-koo’s Soron faction contacts and puts into place their military and police forces. The Noron faction likewise prepares for whatever happens in the next six days.

With the balance of power shifting in favor of Chief Justice Joo Tae-koo, Saheonbu’s Chief Inspector decides to make a deal with Minister Min Jin-heon of the Noron faction.

Ep. 37 “A Black Chaos” and Ep. 38

Eps. 35-36 recap:

To foil the plans of Chief Justice Joo Tae-koo, Prince Yeoning convinces Dowager Queen Inwon to immediately proclaim him as king.

As part of the deal with Minister Min Jin-heon, Saheonbu’s Chief Officer and Moon-soo resign from their offices.

Yi In Jwa and former Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo poison the well in the village where Prince Mil-poong is being held in exile. They kill the guards and then ask Prince Mil-poong to escape with them.
People start dying because of the poisoned wells, and Yi In-jwa’s “plague” starts spreading from the outlying provinces into the capital. King Yeongjo (aka Prince Yeoning) orders the medical offices — Hyeminseo and Hwalinseo — to sequester and to treat the rising number of patients. While Minister Min Jin-heon and the Noron faction support King Yeongjo in dealing with the plague, the Chief Justice of the Soron faction hesitates.

Dal-moon orders his men to investigate the plague; he also asks the itinerant merchants to continue searching for Young-yoon. Meanwhile, Yi In-jwa takes Prince Mil-poong and former Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo to his secret mountain base.

All over the capital, Yi In-jwa’s men put up posters that accuse King Yeongjo of bringing down heaven’s anger upon the people because he poisoned his brother, the late King Gyeongjong. People become agitated and demand to be released from the hospitals.

Things become worse when rice begins disappearing from the public markets. As Minister Min Jin-heon advises King Yeongjo to marshal the soldiers to deal with the potential riots, they find out that Dowager Queen Inwon has also become sick with the plague.

As Moon-soo wanders aimlessly at night, he sees former Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo talking with a local police officer. Later, Yi In-jwa begins secretly meeting with government officials from the Soron faction.

Notes with some spoilers:

1. In history, Yi In-jwa was of royal lineage; his father was the 4th son of King Sejong. He was a member of the Namin faction and one of the leaders of the “Musin Revolt.”

From “The 1728 Musin Rebellion Politics and Plotting in Eighteenth-Century Korea” by Andrew David Jackson (2016, University of Hawaii):

The 1728 Musin Rebellion was the largest rebellion in eighteenth-century Choson Korea, and an armed attempt to overthrow King Yongjo’s government. The rebellion proved unsuccessful but during three weeks of fighting the government lost control of large swathes of territory, and the rebels drew significant popular support. The Musin Rebellion had its roots in the factional conflicts surrounding Yongjo’s troubled succession to the throne. The book analyzes an aspect of the conflict neglected by researchers, namely how the rebels managed to create an armed rebellion. The book explores the political and military context and demonstrates that the Musin Rebellion was not driven by systemic breakdown, regionalism, or ideology, but was a failed attempt by political players to take control of court. Central to the eruption of violence in 1728 was the intervention of key rebel plotters, several of whom were serving officials with access to state military resources.

2. In Ep. 37, Yi In-jwa surprises Prince Mil-poong and former Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo by showing the propaganda posters that his men are creating by using movable type. For more information on movable type during the Joseon Dynasty, surf to:

Joseon : The Movable Type Dynasty: The National Museum of Korea: Home to The Largest Collection of Movable Type in the World

The National Museum of Korea is holding the first-ever exhibition presenting a complete picture of the Joseon Dynasty movable type housed in its collection. Most of the more than 820,000 pieces of movable type were used by the royal court and in government offices at some point from the seventeenth to early twentieth centuries. It is an extremely rare case for such a large volume of movable type originating within a single dynasty to have survived. Notably, in terms of both quantity and quality, over 500,000 of the pieces of metal movable type in the museum collection have no parallel anywhere in the world.

Movable type represents the ambitions of the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty as they sought to govern the nation through Confucian principles. Chests for storing movable type pieces allow a glimpse into Joseon typesetters’ unique system for classifying and storing movable type pieces.

Metal movable types from Joseon unveiled (The Korea Times): In 1403, King Taejong produced “Gyemija type,” the first metal type of Joseon. Since then, millions of metal and wooden movable types were produced during the Joseon era.

Joseon metal type revived in exhibit ( The ancient Korean kingdom of Joseon (1392-1910) is known as “kingdom of type printing.”

3. As the plague spreads to the capital, King Yeongjo orders the medical offices — Hyeminseo and Hwalinseo — to deal with the patients. Briefly stated, “Hyeminseo” was the medical authority of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, responsible for treating the general population and the provision and sale of medicines to the public (Wikipedia). On the other hand, “Hwalinseo” was a public health center established for the poor, prisoners, and those with infectious diseases.

From “Medical licensing examination (uigwa) and the world of the physician officers (uigwan) in Korea’s Joseon Dynasty” by Nam Hee Lee, Department of Korean Culture, College of Won Buddhism, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Korea:

During the Joseon Dynasty, different social sectors of the population were served by specific physician officers. The Royal Hospital (Naeuiwon) was in charge of managing the royal family’s medical care, occasionally offering such services to members of the King’s court as well. The state health minister (Jejo) was in charge of medical treatment for the common people and soldiers, as well as serving members of the royal family and courtiers. Hyeminseo mainly undertook medical care of the general population, while the hospital for the poor (Hwalinseo) primarily served patients with infectious diseases, prisoners in the city, and the poor. Medical students were dispatched to the medical care facilities in the provinces, and they took charge of medical care.

Much of the story in the 2012-2013 hit “The King’s Doctor” takes place in Hyeminseo (referred to in the subtitles as “The People’s Clinic”). On the other hand, in Ep. 49 of “A Jewel in the Palace,” Jang Geum surprises everyone when she asks the King to assign her to the Hwalinseo.

If you have seen “The Moon That Embraces The Sun” (2012), you’ll remember that, in Ep. 15, Yeon-woo was sentenced to serve in Hwalinseo.

Photo from MBC Drama

Ep. 39 “A Black Chaos 2” and Ep. 40

Eps. 37-38 recap:

King Yeongjo (aka Prince Yeoning) finally meets Yeo-ji in the quarters of Dowager Queen Inwon.

Dal-moon and his men find out that the wells have been poisoned and that there is no plague.

Several government officials from the Soron faction join Yi In-jwa’s rebellion; they begin creating intrigues in the royal court.

Moon-soo secretly follows the police officer whom he saw earlier talking with former Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo.

King Yeongjo goes to Hwalinseo to reassure the people that he will not abandon them.
King Yeongjo stops the people from rioting, but the Soron officials who have allied themselves with Yi In-jwa become bolder in their opposition towards him.

Through Dal-moon, King Yeongjo meets again the former Saheonbu Chief Inspector and his subordinate. Meanwhile, Moon-soo finds out that the police officer whom he has been following holds the key to the armory of Cheongju province (about a hundred kilometers away from the capital Hanyang).

In the secret mountain base, Prince Mil-poong mocks Yi In-jwa for the failure of his staged plague. As Yi In-jwa assures former Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo that he has allies and bases in several other provinces, Prince Mil-poong finds out that someone has infiltrated the base.

With the rebellion about to be exposed, Yi In-jwa orders his men to attack the capital.

Ep. 41 “Rebellion” and Ep. 42

Eps. 39-40 recap:

Moon-soo infiltrates the secret mountain base.

King Yeongjo appoints the former Saheonbu Chief Inspector as the new War Minister. With the help of Minister Min Jin-heon and the Soron Chief Justice, he also captures Yi In-jwa’s spies in the palace.

Yeo-ji fights with the spy who wants to assassinate King Yeongjo.
Yi In-jwa proclaims Prince Mil-poong as Joseon’s real king, and as the rebellion spreads, Prince Mil-poong works to win the people’s hearts and minds.

With the support of Minister Min Jin-heon and the Soron Chief Justice, King Yeongjo (aka Prince Yeoning) mobilizes all his forces in the capital to launch a counterattack against Yi In-jwa.

Moon-soo leads a squad of soldiers on a scouting mission to find Yi In-jwa’s camp, while Dal-moon gathers intelligence from the fleeing civilians.

With the capital now being threatened by the rebel forces, the people panic, and government officials abandon their posts. Yeo-ji decides to leave the palace and join the fight.

King Yeongjo proposes “Tangpyeong” (a political solution) to the rebellion, but the Soron Chief Justice says that the Noron faction will never agree to his proposed solution.

Based on Moon-soo’s scouting report, the Minister of War plans how and where to defend the capital. He also gives Moon-soo and the royal forces the go-signal to ambush Yi In-jwa and his men. But a spy betrays their plans to Yi In-jwa.

Notes on King Yeongjo’s “Tangpyeong” policy and the Musin Rebellion:

1. Spoiler alert: In Ep. 41, King Yeongjo tells the Soron Chief Justice that he will offer government positions to the disenfranchised Namin faction members. In history, this was known as “Tangpyeong” or “Magnificent Harmony” Policy that King Yeongjo and later his grandson King Jeongjo (aka Yi San) implemented throughout their reigns.

From “King Yeongjo's policy achievements” (The Korea Times):

“The most prominent among his undertakings was the Tangpyeong policy that aimed to root out political factionalism, orbungdang. The king was deeply aware that the split and conflict between political factions could lead to bloody carnage, which in turn could become a seed for the collapse of the nation state.”

From “Tangpyeong and Hwaseong: The Theory and Practice of Jeongjo’s Politics and Hwaseong” by Kim Sung-Yun (Department of History, Pukyong National University):

The eighteenth century politics of Yeongjo (1724-1776), the 21st king of Joseon dynasty, and Jeongjo (1776-1800), the 22nd king of Joseon dynasty, are often called the “tangpyeong politics.”

The political management style of selecting government officials regardless of factional affiliation was also termed tangpyeong during the reigns of Yeongjo and Jeongjo. This simple meaning signifies merely the means for the ultimate goal of tangpyeong. At the time, conflicts among different factions were severe enough that the king had no alternative but to dissolve their conflicts as a prerequisite to achieving tangpyeong. The only way to do so was to implement the policy of selecting government officials from all factions.

2. “The initiation of the 1728 Musin rebellion - Semantic Scholar”
In 1728, a rebel organization launched the largest military rebellion of the eighteenth-century in an attempt to overthrow King Yeongjo’s government. During the Musin rebellion (Yi In-jwa’s rebellion), the government lost control of thirteen county seats to the rebel organisation ....

In these areas, the rebel organisation killed local officials, installed their own magistrates, and expanded its army thanks to local popular support. Despite a short period of gains, the rebel challenge was brutally crushed by government suppression forces within three weeks.

3. “The Punishments of the 1728 Musin Rebellion Leaders” by Andrew David Jackson, Korean Studies, University of Hawaii Press

The 1728 Musin Rebellion, an attempt to overthrow King Yeongjo, erupted out of intense court factionalism. Over 1000 rebels were investigated and punished by Yeongjo’s special tribunal.

4. “The 1728 Musin Rebellion Politics and Plotting in Eighteenth-Century Korea” by Andrew David Jackson (2016, University of Hawaii)

The 1728 Musin Rebellion was the largest rebellion in eighteenth-century Choson Korea, and an armed attempt to overthrow King Yongjo’s government. The rebellion proved unsuccessful but during three weeks of fighting the government lost control of large swathes of territory, and the rebels drew significant popular support. The Musin Rebellion had its roots in the factional conflicts surrounding Yongjo’s troubled succession to the throne. The book analyzes an aspect of the conflict neglected by researchers, namely how the rebels managed to create an armed rebellion. The book explores the political and military context and demonstrates that the Musin Rebellion was not driven by systemic breakdown, regionalism, or ideology, but was a failed attempt by political players to take control of court. Central to the eruption of violence in 1728 was the intervention of key rebel plotters, several of whom were serving officials with access to state military resources.

5. The 1728 Musin Rebellion - Diacronia

6. “Secret Door: History Bits (Part 1)” from The Talking Cupboard

While this article discusses the 2014 historical drama “The Secret Door,” it has lots of information about King Sukjong, King Gyeongjong, King Yeongjo (aka Prince Yeoning), Crown Prince Sado, and Yi San (later King Jeongjo). It also discusses the reasons for the Musin Rebellion.

Ep. 43 “Triumph” and Ep. 44

Eps. 41-42 recap:

Yoon-young gives to Prince Mil-poong the titles to all his properties; he uses them to settle the conflict between Yi In-jwa and former Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo and to finance the rebellion.

To destroy the rebellion from within, King Yeongjo decides to meet the remnants of the Namin faction; he offers to appoint them government positions.

The spy within the royal forces tells Yi In-jwa about the defense plans of the War Minister; Yi In-jwa thus leads his forces on another route towards the capital.
Moon-soo and the royal troops meet Yi In-jwa, Prince Mil-poong, and their army on the battlefield. Meanwhile, the battles continue to rage in Gyeongsang, Jeolla, Hamgyong, and Pyongan provinces.

Yi In-jwa calls for his supporters among the nobles and local population to meet at their rendezvous point. Meanwhile, King Yeongjo proposes still another way of ending public support for the rebellion. But even the War Minister opposes his plan.

After Prince Mil-poong assures her that the people will rally to his side, Yoon-young sneaks out of Yi In-jwa’s camp and goes to the capital.

Ep. 45 “An Old Hope” and Ep. 46

Eps. 43-44 recap:

Minister Min Jin-heon finally agrees with King Yeongjo’s “Tanpyeong” (“Magnificent Harmony”) policy and allows the Namin leaders and members to be appointed to government positions.

Through the Namin leaders, King Yeongjo learns about the spy in the War Minister’s camp. He immediately sends someone to warn the War Minister and Moon-soo.

The royal troops retake all the provinces from Yi In-jwa’s tebel forces.

Dal-moon begs King Yeongjo to let Yoon-young live.

After betraying Prince Mil-poong, Yi In-jwa is captured later on by Moon-soo. Meanwhile, instead of escaping, Yoon-young warns Prince Mil-poong.

Yoon-young warns Prince Mil-poong that Yi In-jwa has abandoned him and has set a trap for him. Meanwhile, in the palace, King Yeongjo confronts the bound but defiant Yi In-jwa.

In their hideout, Yoon-young bribes someone to arrange for their escape to Qing, while Prince Mil-poong remembers all the people who have mocked and belittled him all through the years.

King Yeongjo calls for a meeting of the ministers, but dissension arises when the Noron and Soron ministers see among them the newly-appointed ministers from the Namin faction. Later, Minister Min Jin-Heon warns King Yeongjo that his “Tanpyeong” (“Magnificent Harmony”) policy is doomed to fail.

Despite King Yeongjo’s royal order against recriminations, the Saheonbu officials arrest Yi In-jwa’s father-in-law. The Noron and Soron ministers also boycott the next meeting of the royal court.

Dal-moon finds out where Yoon-young has been hiding out. But when he arrives there, Yoon-young and Prince Mil-poong have already escaped.

Ep. 47 and Ep. 48 Finale (with spoilers)

Eps. 45-46 recap:

To counteract the protesting ministers, King Yeongjo appoints the War Minister as the new Prime Minister and his subordinate as the new Saheonbu Chief Inspector.

King Yeongjo professes his love for Yeo-ji and kisses her.

Yoon-young dies as she and Prince Mil-poong try to escape. Taking a knife from a blacksmith, Prince Mil-poong goes to the palace, but he’s captured.

While Prince Mil-poong is being led away, he grabs the sword of one of the soldiers. As he attacks, Yeo-ji rushes in to protect King Yeongjo.

Yi In-jwa and former Saheonbu Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo are executed.

Dal-moon sends off his beloved Bok Dan (aka Yoon-young) on a boat bedecked with flowers.

Minister Min Jin-heon of the Noron faction retires from politics and devotes himself to his pottery.

Moon-soo becomes an “Amhaeng-eosa” (Secret Royal Inspector) and fights corruption all over Joseon. (Notes: His seal indicates the number of horses that he can get anytime from the government stables or “saboksi” in pursuit of his duties. For more information, surf to “Amhaeng-eosa: secret royal inspector in Joseon Kingdom” from The Korea Times.)

King Yeongjo and Yeo-ji ....

Historical backgrounders and other information

1. Episodes 1-2 of “Haechi” introduce to us four princes who are historical figures but who have been heavily fictionalized:

A. Prince Yeoning (Yi Geum): the son of King Sukjong and (Royal Noble Consort) Choi Suk-bin, who’s known to K-drama lovers simply as “Dong Yi”; he later became King Yeongjo, Joseon’s 21st king.

B. Crown Prince Hwiso (Yi Yun): the son of King Sukjong and (Royal Noble Consort) Jang Hui-bin and who later became King Gyeongjong, Joseon’s 20th king.

C. Prince Yeon-ryeong (Yi Hwon): the son of King Sukjong and Royal Noble Consort Park Myeong

D. Prince Mil-poong (Yi Tan): father - Prince Imchang; grandfather - Prince Gyeongan; great-grandfather - Crown Prince Sohyun.

Crown Prince Sohyun was the son of King Injo (16th king of Joseon). It’s alleged that, because of his pro-modernization views and tolerance of Catholicism, he was murdered by King Injo. Then, instead of appointing Prince Sohyun’s eldest son as the next Crown Prince, King Injo instead chose his second son, Grand Prince Bongrim. After executing Prince Sohyun’s wife for treason, he then exiled Prince Sohyun’s sons.

If you have seen “Chuno, The Slave Hunters,” then you’ll remember that Tae-ha, constable Saheom, and Hye-won rescued the only surviving son of Prince Sohyun from Jeju island. That son was Lee Seok-kyeon (Prince Gyeongan), who was later on considered by some ministers and Confucian scholars as the rightful successor to the Joseon throne, instead of Grand Prince Bongrim (who became King Hyojong, Joseon’s 17th king).

Prince Mil-poong was adopted by King Gyeongjong (previously, Crown Prince Hwiso or Yi Yun) and became an envoy to the Qing Dynasty. But he was implicated in the “Musin Revolt” that was launched by the Soron faction in 1728 against King Yeongjo (previously, Prince Yeoning). The Soron faction claimed that Prince Mil-poong was the rightful successor to King Gyeongjong. (Based on a Dramabeans comment that’s in turn based on a Namuwiki entry.)

For more information about Prince Gyeongan’s claim to the Joseon throne, please read “Intellectuals And The State: The Resilience And Decline Of Neo-Confucianism As State Ideology In Joseon Korea” by Sun Kwan Song, Department of Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea, University of London, 2013. The graphic below comes from Sun Kwan Song’s dissertation and shows the conflicting claims to the Joseon throne.

2. Saheonbu (Wikipedia): Authority that administered inspections during Goryeo and Joseon dynasty in Korea. The organ inspected Hanyang, the capital and periphery. It has several nicknames. It was also responsible for licensing officials, impeachment and legal inquiries, which also extends to the control of King’s relatives. The strongest duty is to directly criticize king’s order.

Since the organ took charge of judicial responsibility for officials and the subjects, the ethos was strict.

The board of inspection actually began several centuries earlier. During Silla dynasty, the title was converted to Saganwon during the reign of Gongmin of Goryeo.

Taejo of Joseon established the organ right after the foundation of Joseon Dynasty in 1392. The standard organization was 1 head officer and 12 officials with about 40 other bureaucrats.

The system began in China, where the organ played a wider role at the royal court. In this sense, the organ and its responsibility was in line with Saganwon where the subjects remonstrate the order of King.

The issue of royal court was to control over the power between the king and the subjects, keeping abreast of the order of the government, which later produced severe side effects in some cases. Its work is quite similar to the board of audits and inspection in current time.

3. Sukjong of Joseon (7 October 1661 - 12 July 1720) was the 19th king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea from 1674 to 1720. A skilled politician, he caused multiple changes of political alliance throughout his reign, switching among the Southerner, Westerner, Soron, and Noron political factions.

King Sukjong was a brilliant politician, but his reign was marked by some of the most intense factional fights in the Joseon dynasty. Sukjong frequently replaced faction in power with another one to strengthen the royal authority. With each change of government, which was called hwanguk, literally turn of the state, the losing faction was completely driven out of politics with executions and exiles. Nevertheless, the chaotic changes of government did not affect the general populace significantly, and his reign is considered one of more prosperous times.

In 1718, Sukjong allowed the crown prince, soon to be Gyeongjong of Joseon, to rule the country as regent. Sukjong died in 1720 supposedly after telling Yi Yi-myoung to name Yeoning-geum as Gyeongjong's heir, but in absence of a histriographer or recorder. This will would lead to yet another purge which led to the execution of four Noron leaders in 1721, followed by another purge with the executions of eight Noron people in 1722.

4. Gyeongjong of Joseon (Wikipedia)

Gyeongjong of Joseon (20 November 1688 - 11 October 1724, reigned 1720 - 1724) was the 20th king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. He was the son of King Sukjong by Royal Noble Consort Hui of the Jang clan.

In 1690, Gyeongjong's designation as heir to the throne precipitated a struggle between the Noron and the Soron political factions, which supported Gyeongjong of Joseon.

5. Yeongjo of Joseon (Wikipedia)

Yeongjo of Joseon (31 October 1694 - 22 April 1776, reigned 16 October 1724 - 22 April 1776) was the 21st king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. He was the second son of King Sukjong. His mother was Consort Suk of the Choi clan. Before ascending to power, his name was Prince Yeoning. In 1720, a few months after the accession of his older brother, King Gyeongjong as the 20th King, Yeoning became the Royal Prince Successor Brother. This induced a large controversy between political factions. Nevertheless, four years later, at the death of Gyeongjong, Yeongjo ascended the throne.

Yeongjo’s reign lasted 52 years and was marked by his persistent efforts to reform the taxation system of Joseon, rule by Confucian ethics, minimize and reconcile the factional fighting under his “Magnificent Harmony” Policy (Tangpyeong). His reign was also marked by the highly controversial execution of his son, Prince Sado, in 1762. In spite of the controversies, Yeongjo’s reign has earned a positive reputation in Korean history due to his sincere efforts to rule by Confucian virtue.

Lessons in photography from “Haechi”

Background blur, line of direction
Dynamic symmetry, baroque diagional
Conveying depth through overlapping forms
Dutch angle, foreground blur
Foreground and background blur
High angle shot, partial (foreground) frame
Low angle shot, foreground blur
Low angle shot, Dutch angle
Low angle shot, Dutch angle, lens flare
Low angle shot, Dutch angle
Out-of-focus, partial (foreground) frame
Foreground blur
Rule of Odds
Establishing shot, leading lines
Lens flare
Compressed perspective
Dutch angle shot at 90 degrees
Dutch angle from low point of view
Dutch angle shot from low point of view
Natural frames
Lead room, nose room, looking space, lines of direction
Bokeh (aesthetic quality of blurred areas of a photograph),
quality and direction of light