Deep Rooted Tree Episode 13

So finally Dol Bok and Dam are reunited. But it must be a bit weird after all these years. Especially after everything that happened. Before they have time to get to know each other again, the assassin arrives demanding the Milbon Scroll. Luckily, Mu Hyul and his men are not far behind. Dol Bok and Dam are saved but cast out of the palace. The king sadly returns to contemplate his work without So Yi. Dol Bok starts to imagine a new life with Dam but it’s not meant to be because she wants to go back to the palace… 

So Yi hides in the trees wondering why the guard Chae Yoon has arrived. But then he starts calling out her childhood name ‘Dam’. With a romantic modern ballad playing in the background, she steps out and he staggers towards her in tears and puts his arms around her. She tries to say his name and a little sound comes out – does this mean she’s going to be able to speak soon? Oh it’s so sad and so complicated. How do they feel about each other now?

Milbon is mad to hear that So Yi escaped. Jeong Gi Joon orders the Milbon army to go and find her. The assassin hears that the Internal Affairs division are looking for Chae Yoon. Meanwhile Dol Bok is with Dam carefully bandaging her sore foot.  He asks her why she can’t speak and suggests it’s because she saw her father and all the nobis killed that night years ago. But she shakes her head. So she knows exactly why she can’t speak? He thinks back and in horror realises that it’s because of the way he blamed her for her mistake and his father’s death. He feels terrible and cries. Poor Dol Bok. They were just kids after all. 

Dol Bok is angry with himself and goes to the water to wash his face. Dam watches him and wants to call out his name and a little sound comes out to her surprise. But when she stands up she finds a sword to her throat – it’s the assassin.

The king wants Dol Bok and Dam found. Mu Hyul informs him that the two have gone to a mountain near where they lived as children. They are ordered to search the mountain.

The assassin has come for the Milbon Scroll of course and Dol Bok produces it from his collar. But he comes towards them and demands that they let Dam go first. The assassin produces his father’s will but drops it near the fire distracting Dol Bok and in a flash throws white powder in the air (is this an old version of tear gas?) which goes in Dol Bok’s eyes so he can’t see. The assassin intends to kill them both.

The dual begins but Dol Bok can’t see and only has a small knife compared to the assassin’s sword. Let’s hope he’s trained blind-folded like they do in the martial arts movies. He gets cut and injured, but Dam is watching in horror and suddenly manages to call out to Dol Bok helping him. He manages to get a few jabs back at the assassin and the fight is more even until Milbon soldiers arrive and surround them. They are told to finish Dam off first So Dol Bok runs to protect her. Ahh.

They must be preparing to die when arrows come flying from above and we see the impressive silhouette of Mu Hyul. Hurray! I love his pose. His men are there too and make short work of the Milbon men. But the assassin escapes. The soldiers part and everyone bows as the king comes forward.

But the king just looks at them for a moment and then turns to walk away. Dam calls out to him. He stops and turns in shock. After all his efforts to hep her to speak, suddenly she can speak by herself. And after a few words with her in private he realises that it was never a physical problem at all – it was emotional. Chae Yoon tries to tell the king about the latest info on Milbon but he’s cut down – the king knows he is Dol Bok – and so Dol Bok reaches for an already blood-stained sword. Mu Hyul is there ready to stop him. Dam also realises that the king knew all along. (Isn’t she annoyed that he told her he was dead?) But the king apologises to Dol Bok for what happened to his father.

The king knows that up until now Dol Bok’s only reason to live was to kill the king, but he hopes that now he has another reason to live (Dam). So he should take Dam far away and start a new life. Oh this is so sad. Dam’s eyes fill with tears and she calls out to the king – but he simply tells her to live well; that’s his order. Then he sadly watches from a distance as they go off together. Dol Bok has been stabbed in the legs but he’s still walking while she sits on the horse. Can’t they both fit on that horse?


The king thinks back to when he first had the idea of making a new writing system. There was some kind of epidemic in the country. So he went  to inspect what was going on in the countryside. But even though he had sent instructions on which herbs should be used to treat the illness, people were still dying. The leader of the village said he sent out notices but the people didn’t pay any attention to them. Mu Hyul as always tried to protect the king and stop him going into the infected areas to see what was going on and as always he insisted on going in. Poor Mu Hyul.

But one of the men explained that the notices had not even been put up because nobody could read them anyway. The king demanded to know why nobody could read when he had ordered them to learn – they ONLY needed to learn 1000 characters (!) But they were all too busy working all day long. The king was angry and frustrated as the people bowed on the ground in fear begging him to save them.

Back at the palace he was frustrated about not being able to help his people. So Yi was there and the only one who didn’t react to his tantrums. Her eyes looked hard and emotionless. The king was upset  with her too because she had been living in the palace all this time but didn’t open up or seem to forgive the king for what happened to her family even though he had tried to explain.

Finally he asked her what she thought of his idea – make a new writing system that is so easy that anyone can learn to read. She approved. Then as they began to research and plan this new system So Yi proved to be invaluable. Because she had memorised all the thousands of Chinese characters she was able to tell them how many characters began with certain sounds – without her they would have had to start counting somehow… The king remembers back to how impressed he was. She seemed to warm to him after that too.

Lee Shin Chok is getting ready to go to the Milbon meeting. The deadline for Milbon to present the Milbon Scroll has arrived. But he has a plan. If the Milbon Scroll is not produced then he will inform the Government about Milbon. But if they do have the scroll then they will kill Jeong Gi Joon! So there is some reason why the scroll is so important..

Minister Lee and Hae Gang and the other older scholars wait for Jeong Gi Joon to arrive with the Milbon Scroll. The assassin is on his way with it as we speak. But Minister Lee is convinced that they do not have it.  His men are hiding outside waiting for Minister Lee’s signal.  Jeong Gi Joon arrives and the scholars demand to see the scroll. Meanwhile, it’s all going on outside – the strange butcher’s helper (as I still call him) stands menacingly in front of Minister Lee’s men.

As the scholars insist that the Milbon Scroll is shown to them, Minister Lee’s men are quietly getting killed outside. But ignorant of this, Minister Lee is cocky and confident sure that there is no scroll. Suddenly the door opens and a body is thrown into the room. Minister Lee is shocked but tries to pretend he has nothing to do with this. Jeong Gi Joon checks with the scholars that the reason they want to see the Milbon Scroll is that Jeong Do Jeon’s philosophy and so Milbon’s mission statement is written on it. He dramatically takes out the scroll from his collar and flings it at the scholars. That doesn’t seem very respectful considering it was written by their leader. So this is not what is important. Aha! He takes out another piece of paper from the case – THIS is what the scholars are all concerned about.

It’s a paper with all the names of the scholars who signed their allegiance to Jeong Do Jeon when they joined Milbon. So it confirms that they are members of Milbon and therefore traitors in the eyes of the king. But in fairness they offered their allegiance to Jeong Do Jeon NOT Jeong Gi Joon. And now they seem to want no part in it. Have they got older and just want a quiet life? Or are they not so discontent now as King Sejong is very different to his father King Taejong. Jeong Gi Jeon criticises Minister Lee for sitting back while the king gained more power and built the Institute of Learning and carried on projects behind the ministers’ backs.

Now he can blackmail them all because he has their names so they will have to do as he says. But it’s just a piece of paper. Couldn’t someone have said ‘Can I have a closer look at that?’ and then ripped it up into tiny pieces?


In a hut somewhere in the country, Dol Bok gets a fire going and makes something to eat. They’ve both changed since they met again – he seems to have calmed down. Some of his anger has gone. She can speak again but does not seem content. They eat together. It’s emotional. He’s cooked barley with chestnut and what looks like radish on the side. Ahh. She asks if he stole the ceramic pot. He has to admit he did – he couldn’t make it, after all, he says. ha ha. BTW why are his clothes different when he is outside and then inside? Outside he is wearing red guard uniform but inside it’s brown. Is this under his uniform? 

They walk outside together both still healing from their physical wounds. He seems to have lost his drive for revenge. And he starts to imagine them living together happily and having a quiet life growing food on the land. For the first time he’s thinking of something else apart from killing the king. Even his face has softened. But she is thinking about helping the king back at the palace.

She tells him that they must go back. There’s important work to be done with the King. He doesn’t understand what’s so important and why she feels that her work is related to the king’s great cause. It’s related because all their family died (because they couldn’t read) she tries to explain. She wants to help the king finish his writing system for the people partly because she couldn’t read and so she didn’t know that the court girl lied to them about what was in the letter his father had to deliver. But Dol Bok doesn’t think being able to read will make a difference to slaves – they will still suffer in the end.

Dol Bok walks away in disgust. He seems so weak – apart from still being injured he has lost his focus. All the training and work he did was to get revenge. What can he do now? Oh noooo. It’s so sad. He has nothing to live for. They go their separate ways. And he goes back to the empty hut.


Dol Bok FINALLY reads the will he was so desperate to get back. What were his father’s last words to him? But he cries  as he reads the will and crumples it up – this is what he has been waiting so long to read, but it seems his father did not have much to say to him. He stands up and puts a knife to his own throat but he can’t kill himself.

Meanwhile, So Yi has gone back to the palace but the king is still upset. She says she has come to finish the work that she started. She says Dol Bok will come back too. The king wanted Dol Bok to judge his writing system too and so tells Mu Hyul (to his shock and horror) to hold back the guards so that he can enter the palace when he comes. Sure enough Dol Bok arrives in the dead of night all in black (where is he getting all these nice outfits from?) with his sword ready to strike…He knows (hopes) he will be killed too. But the king is waiting for him…














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