Deep Rooted Tree Episode 11

The milbon members finally gather for a meeting. But the valuable Milbon Scroll is still missing. The king causes uproar in the palace when he turns to some gruesome techniques to research and develop his writing system. And Chae Yoon discovers a way to get his father’s will back…

Lee Shin Chok walks out in a daze after Jeong Gi Jeon reveals his identity. And Jeong Gi Jeon marches back to the butcher’s place but has to quickly act humble again when he sees Mu Hyul waiting for him. Mu Hyul asks him to prepare a tray of food and drink and then they go off to a cliff where the king is waiting. Jeong Gi Jeon falls to his knees and now we know he’s just acting bowing humbly to the king. But he looks shocked that the king will see him since he is supposedly only a butcher. The king beckons him closer to have a drink with him and seems slightly frustrated that he won’t stop bowing! The king feels bad about him being arrested and is pleased and impressed that he kept his secret – he didn’t reveal his orders to anyone.

As the king gets him to pour a drink for him he refers to Jeong Do Jeon the traitor and says this is the place he met with the scholars before they built the learning institution, Sungkyunkwan. He also knows that the scholars that follow Jeong Do Jeon still meet her to grieve for him. The king stands and holds his cup up towards the heavens. But he’s standing on the edge of the cliff (and could so easily be pushed off! Is Jeong Gi Jeon thinking the same thing?) Then he performs a ritual pouring the liquor out over the cliff – he must be paying his respects to Jeong Do Jeon. (JDJ was the first prime minister of Joseon after all)

He says he has read Jeong Do Jeon’s book over and over. (He refers to Jeong Do Jeon as Sambong – that was his pen name. He was the leading scholar at the time on the teachings of Confucianism and his writings are known today as the Sambong Collection) The king knows that the scholars think that his (the king’s) work goes against the teachings of Confucianism but he believes that Sambong would understand what he is doing. But Jeong Gi Jeong just looks confused.

The king orders him to come to the palace the next night secretly and bring his tools to perform a dissection. And the king wants to watch. He asks the king what animal they will be dissecting. But the ominous reply is that it is not an animal.. Meanwhile So Yi is ordering a dead body..

The head nobi explains to a still traumatised Shim Jeong Soo that the butcher really is Jeong Gi Jeon. She explains that he has spent years gathering scholars together and gaining their trust and now milbon is starting up again after 24 years.

Chae Yoon sees So Yi and she gives him a note thanking him for solving the crime involving Ka Ri On. He tells her not to live her life for the king. She should let everything go and maybe then she can sleep. But he hasn’t been able to do that either. She grabs his arm as he walks away and writes that she trusts the king more than  anyone and helping him will help her find peace. Chae Yoon gets back to his Banchon house where Park Po and Cho Tak are arguing – they were supposed to keep an eye on the head nobi but they keep losing her. Park Po mentions that someone came looking for Chae Yoon earlier – he didn’t give his name but he left the message ‘Dol Bok’.

Jeong Gi Jeon is still at the cliff thinking about the king’s orders when the head nobi arrives with Shim Jeong Soo who wants to meet him. He respectfully kneels on the ground but Jeong Gi Jeon simply looks on. I guess he’s realised that more people are discovering his true identity.

The servant who was sent by the assassin to find Master Lee Bang Ji comes back to say he couldn’t meet him but that one of his men has come to Hanyang (present day Seoul) They realise he has come to see Chae Yoon. Master Lee’s man goes to the palace but sees the assassin suspiciously hovering nearby and so he tries to lose him. But the assassin captures him. He manages to leaves a trail of white powder as he is dragged away. Chae Yoon and the other guards wonder where he’s gone but then they see the signs of chul sang sul and follow them.

The assassin questions the man wanting to know Master Lee’s connection with Chae Yoon. He refuses to answer merely saying Master Lee was never the assassin’s master. The assassin puts a sword to his throat. And then stabs him and gags him. He’s ruthless. But Chae Yoon and the guards are on his trail. They see the white powder used by soldiers to leave a trail for each other. Park Po has never heard this word for powder and he wonders if it’s just northern dialect. He goes to eat some of the powder but Chae Yoon stops him – if you eat it, you’ll die, he warns. (Poor Park Po –  he’s so hopeless compared to the hardier northerners because he hasn’t been on the battlefield. The life of the palace guards must be a lot more pampered than on the front-line.)

They follow the trail to where the man is being kept prisoner. He’s hurt and bleeding and the milbon guard suggests that it’s better he just tell them how he knows Chae Yoon. He looks like he is trying to say something so the guard comes nearer to hear but then he bites the guard’s ear and escapes!

He bursts out of the barn and into the arms of Chae Yoon. But he only manages to say the name Lee Bang Ji before the assassin kills him with an arrow. Then the assassin aims for Chae Yoon too. But Chae Yoon blocks the arrow with his dagger. Meanwhile, Cho Tak knocks the milbon guard down with his metal ball trick. But then a hand behind them picks a twig and stabs the guard through the heart! It looks like the hand of the weird butcher’s helper. The Ming agent happens to be there and sees what’s going on too and looks shocked. Later the head nobi is annoyed with the assassin for taking matters into his own hands.


Chae Yoon and the guards look over the two dead bodies. (It’s a gruesome sight – one body has an arrow sticking out of it and the other is stabbed with a twig. So I don’t know why I find this scene amusing? Perhaps it’s the look on Chae Yoon’s face and the sight of even more dead bodies..) They didn’t even manage to see the face of whoever killed the guard. He was stabbed from behind and through the heart. But who could do such a thing with a mere twig?

Chae Yoon has an idea and goes to see Jo Mal Seng. He asks if there were any highly skilled soldiers in milbon. He’s surprised to discover that his master Lee Bang Ji was once the best swordsman in Joseon ( even better than Mu Hyul) and Jeong Do Jeon’s bodyguard. But he disappeared the night Jeong Do Jeon was murdered. And the Milbon Scroll disappeared with him.

The yangban meets Shim Jeong Soo and introduces himself as Han Ga Reum. He’s a milbon supporter and explains that he fails the government exams every year on purpose. (As we’ve guessed, he’s only pretending to be a fool) But he’s worried that the scholars who supported Jeong Do Jeon may not support Jeong Gi Jeon or will have their own agendas – so they REALLY NEED the Milbon Scroll written by Jeong Do Jeon. But Shim Jeong Soo doesn’t seem bothered about the scroll and doesn’t know what it is. But they must have the scroll to unite the milbon members. But right now all they know is that a servant called Dol Bok has the scroll …

Minister Lee receives new orders from milbon – Milbon are having a meeting that night and he is to attend. Minister Lee doesn’t know what to do. Should he betray milbon and join the side of the king? But he can’t because of the Milbon Scroll. Chae Yoon goes to look at his hidden Milbon Scroll again and thinks back to the night his father’s will was taken. He strokes his knife – what is the significance of this scroll he wonders. But what does it matter, anyway?


The court ladies chat to the scholars as they prepare to work with the king. The mood is good but it won’t be for long when they find out what the work is…  Jeong In Ji and the prince nervously discuss what the king is about to do. The prince trusts his father but it seems they are both confused about how necessary this is.

Ka Ri On ( AKA Jeong Gi Jeon ) is sneaked in to the palace disguised as a guard. He has brought his tools. They have set up a room and a dead body is there. He’s wondering what the king wants to do first – the king says to start at the neck. Ka Ri On cuts open the neck with a shaking hand and the court lady draws what’s inside. (trying not to be sick!)

As the king is coming out after the work is done he finds Lee Shin Chok nervously waiting for him – is he about to tell him about the milbon meeting!? The king seems worried to see him – perhaps he’s heard something about the dissection. But just as Minister Lee is about to speak, Jeong Gi Jeon reveals himself behind the king – oooh creepy. Minister Lee is shocked to see him and of course now can’t say anything. He says it’s late and he will come and speak to the king tomorrow instead…

Ka Ri On/Jeong Gi Jeon and the king look over the diagrams of the workings of the throat.  Jeong Gi Jeon tries to find out what the king is really doing – he says that if he knew what the king was actually doing then he would be able to help more… Mu Hyul scolds him for his impertinence. But the king agrees and calls for So Yi. He explains that So Yi can’t speak because of what happened to her father and it was the king’s fault. That’s why he wants to learn about speech. Jeong Gi Jeon doesn’t believe all this work by the king is just for So Yi. Meanwhile there is uproar when the other court ladies and scholars hear what happened.

The king goes to work but finds the atmosphere’s bad – court ladies crying, and dirty looks from the scholars. They can’t understand why the king wants to cut open a dead body to see what the vocal chords look like. How is this related to making letters? They ask him to explain. But he gets angry and demands to know why they can’t just  trust him. So Yi says he must try to explain.

The Milbon members gather for their meeting at the cliff wearing nets to hide their identities. Shin Jeong Soo arrives and looks around recognising other scholars with surprise. The yangban, Han Ga Reum, begins to open the meeting but is shouted down by Hae Gang who is in the crowd. Scholar Hae Gang takes off his hat and everyone bows when they recognise him. He demands to know where their leader, the Root, is.

And then they turn to see him arrive. Jeong Gi Jeon stands on the cliff and repeats the philosophy of milbon – the country should not be ruled by the king but by the scholars. They must protect the rights of the noblemen. Shim Jeong Soo demands to know what they should do to make this change happen. The first thing they will do is get rid of the Institute of Learning as the king’s scholars seem to have more power than the government. Then Lee Shim Chok asks Jeong Gi Jeon to read out the Milbon Scroll written in Jeong Do Jeon’s own hand. Now he can see if this is really Jeong Gi Jeon perhaps? Jeong Gi Jeon closes his eyes and repeats what Jeong Do Jeon wrote  –  the king is just a flower but the root of Joseon are the noblemen. But Lee is not convinced – he merely repeated it; he didn’t show the scroll.

The king tries to explain why it was necessary to dissect a dead body: The new Joseon characters have been developed over 10 years and have no history. They have not been developed over thousands of years and passed down through the generations like the Chinese characters have. So he wants these letters to be universal representing the shape of the tongue and mouth to make their sounds.  He’s doing this for the people. But is this wrong, he asks?

Jeong Gi Jeon and the scholars hold cups of liquor just as the king did earlier and do the same ritual. Afterwards, Hae Gang sits down with Jeong Gi Jeon convinced that he doesn’t have the scroll. But Jeong Gi Jeon is afraid that the king is changing the system that Jeong Do Jeon set up for the good of the country. He points out that the king is already doing things in secret behind the ministers’ backs. So does the scroll really matter that much? Yes. Hae Gang demands that he present the Milbon Scroll because he doesn’t want to go down in history as a traitor.

But Jeong Gi Jeon may be in luck because Chae Yoon puts a sign up with a sketch of the pouch that So Yi gave him. He wants his father’s will back from Milbon. And they want their scroll back. Jeong Gi Jeon and So Yi both see the sign and of course they are both shocked…
















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