Deep Rooted Tree Episode 16

Milbon are surprised to see Chae Yoon back in the palace and Jeong Gi Joon sees an opportunity to use him. Jeong Gi Joon thinks getting the king to give up the Institute of Learning will be the first step towards Milbon’s goal of gaining power for the bureacrats. Then it will only be a matter of time before they bring the king down completely. But they have failed to see the importance of the king’s new alphabet. And tension builds as they get closer to realising the full extent of the king’s plans…

Dol Bok promises to serve the king from now on. (After seeing how easy the King’s new letters are to learn, he has had a change of heart towards him.) He also has an idea about how to deal with Milbon. He suggests that they keep it a secret that the prince has returned to the palace. So they should pretend to keep looking for him. Meanwhile, Dol Bok will go back to being a guard (as Chae Yoon again!) as if nothing has happened. This will interest Milbon who know that he kidnapped the prince. So by acting as the king’s enemy he will be able to infiltrate Milbon and catch Jeong Gi Joon. The king eagerly agrees to his cunning plan. Chae Yoon just asks to have one wish when he finally captures Jeong Gi Joon. But what could that be? 

Jeong Gi Joon has got hold of the silk that So Yi wrote the new hangul letters on. The adviser, Han Ga, looks at it with interest. But Jeong Gi Joon has no real interest in the letters. He’s much more interested in working out what Dol Bok/Chae Yoon wants with the prince.


Chae Yoon is back in uniform and Mu Hyul tells him to be careful because there is one particularly dangerous assassin in Milbon. Chae Yoon thinks back to the incident with the twig that was pierced through the man’s heart. He notes the advice and then goes back to his regular duties and when he meets officials around the palace grounds he acts like nothing has happened!

Shim Jeong Soo is shocked when Chae Yoon casually walks by and greets him! So now he wants to check if the prince is back too. Chae Yoon joins Park Po who sweetly starts muttering (he must think Chae Yoon is Cho Tak) about Chae Yoon deserting him. Then he turns around and sees Chae Yoon and wipes away tears of joy! Chae Yoon smiles, but he’s focused and determined to catch Jeong Gi Joon.

Milbon know that Chae Yoon is back but that the prince is not. They wonder if Chae Yoon has killed the prince and now returned to take his final revenge on the king. Jeong Gi Joon virtually rubs his hands in glee at the thought. He suggests that Chae Yoon could join them and sends Shim to find out of So Yi is back too.

Chae Yoon drinks with Cho Tak and a nobi family. They wonder why he disappeared – was it because of a girl? Chae Yoon simply changes the subject and asks about the assassin who gave himself up and escaped. He’s surprised when he hears the name – Yoon Pyeong. He remembers he heard the name before when he was listening in to the head nobi’s conversation at the shrine. The head nobi happens to walk by at the same time and Chae Yoon looks at her suspiciously.

Poor Jeong In Ji is upset about the way the king is dealing with the uprising in the palace. He’s worried that things are going to get out of hand. But the king is focused and plans to win everyone over. He will show them that words are more dangerous than the sword. But when he arrives at the assembly, only the prime minister Hwang Hee, Lee Shin Chok, and Jo Mal Seng are there. The scholars from the Institute of Learning have boycotted the meeting as the head is dead against the new alphabet. Jo Mal Seng can’t understand why he is focusing on his alphabet when Milbon are still at large and his son is missing! The king refuses to comment and leaves..


Hae Gang and the scholars are still kneeling outside the palace demanding that the king stop his writing project. They argue that it goes against Confucianism. A chair is brought out and the king comes to sit in front of the crowd and he suggests that they discuss the philosophy behind their letters. First Hae Gang is invited to present the philosophy behind the Chinese characters. So with an example on the board, he explains how each character is more than just a letter – it can be broken down into smaller parts and each part has its own meaning. So when put together with different parts, the characters get a new meaning that also incorporate Confucian values. His example character has two parts:  spear+stop = fight 

Can the king’s alphabet do this? he asks.

No, the king replies.

Hae Gang staggers back in shock. Is the king trying to turn them into savages by abandoning the values of Confucianism?

The king puts his argument forward and starts by quoting from the book by Sambong (Jeong Do Jeon) on Confucian values. (This makes the scholars sit up and take notice!) His example quote on the board means: the king must listen to his people. The king quotes from Chinese history to make his point. But his argument in a nutshell is…

Yes, the king should listen to his people. But when the people can’t read and write (because it’s so difficult) they have to go through officials to communicate. But this can be a problem as officials can change and manipulate what the people really want to say. SO the people NEED their own easier letters so they can communicate directly. 

Hae Gang seems to have no argument to put forward now! And so the king goes to all the departments in the palace and uses the teachings of Confucianism to argue his point. He’s pragmatic and understands the teachings of Confucianism better than anyone, so the officials and scholars don’t stand a chance against him!

Song Sam Moon and Park Paeng Nyeon are summoned to see the head of the Institute who is busily writing his (very long) objections to the king’s new alphabet!! (although he hasn’t even seen it yet) He demands to know details of the new alphabet. How is it made? How many characters are there? They refuse to answer and in a rage he sends them out. I can’t help feeling that the king should have talked to the head of the Institute sooner though. He must feel snubbed by the king especially when younger scholars knew about the project. But perhaps he would never agree to it? 

Jeong Gi Joon is still convinced that even if the king goes ahead with the writing project, nobody will use it.  It can’t compete with the long traditions of the Chinese characters which have developed over thousands of years. SO they will let the king publish whatever he wants on his new writings system while they go ahead with their plans to replace the king with a bureaucracy. Meanwhile, Han Ga is working out how to read the new letters from the sample that So Yi wrote for Chae Yoon. And he seems to have discovered something…

Lee Shin Chok is really getting ambitious now and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Prime Minister is getting old and as he is the deputy, he is next in line for the job. And with the king out of the way won’t he be the most powerful man in Joseon? Oh dear… But it looks like he’s hoping to become leader of Milbon too and he tries to persuade Shim Jeong Soo to back him. He says that Jeong Gi Joon can’t openly be a nobleman now after living as a butcher. Shim Jeong Soo is angry at his disloyalty to the Milbon leader – it is thanks to him that Milbon is still going. But Minister Lee laughs and Shim storms out. He’s always scheming!

Head nobi and Jeong Gi Joon discuss Lee Shin Chok. They are well aware of his ambition too. Then a messenger comes to inform them that So Yi has returned to the palace. Jeong Gi Joon decides he must find out what Chae Yoon has done with the prince so he plans to send the old man Gok Se to So Yi and wants the head nobi to speak to Chae Yoon…

A flash around all the departments in the palace shows that they are empty and everyone seems to be on strike. Minister Lee is acting worried in front of the PM. Although he’s secretly overjoyed. He suggests to the PM that they must work together to persuade the king to do something. So they go to see him and beg him to make a compromise – close the Institute of Learning or give up the new alphabet. They think this will calm the officials and return things to normal. The king acts outraged but he is already one step ahead of everyone. (And the PM already knew he was going to close the Institute, didn’t he?)

The king knows what the officials are all thinking – they haven’t seen the letters and so they think no one will use them. So he plans to close down the Institute and create another organisation instead that will make sure everyone learns to read the new alphabet! He wants to publish books and make his letters the official writing system in the country!  Ha. This is even worse for the bureaucrats! MUCH MUCH worse…

But Minister Lee seems pleased with himself and informs the other ministers that they will find out tomorrow if the king has decided to close the institute. And if he agrees to do this, all the officials will return to work. Shim is sent to convince the head of the Institute to back the move too.

But the head is the only official (apart from the prime minister and possibly Jo Mal Seng) who seems to truly understand the king. He KNOWS what will happen if the letters are published. EVERYONE will learn to read them especially since the king has been working on this project for over 10 years. (OK. This must be WHY the king DIDN’T tell the head anything. The head doesn’t just feel snubbed. He really is against the common people learning to read.) Shim looks perturbed. Reality is finally sinking in …


Yoon Pyeong and his men barge into Chae Yoon’s room and throw the ‘tear gas’ powder in there, but Chae Yoon is not there. He’s with the head nobi and has a sword to her throat. He tells her that he knows she’s in Milbon. He blames Milbon for ruining his plans and he says he had to kill the prince. She blames him for causing Milbon trouble because he had their Scroll. He pretends to be their enemy and demands to know where Jeong Gi Joon is. She says she knows all about him and who he is. So why don’t they work together..(They are falling right into his trap!)

Meanwhile, Gok Se grabs So Yi. Why is she out late at night alone? She plays her role by tearfully telling Gok Se that Dol Bok killed the prince. And now he wants to kill the king. But even so, she can’t turn her back on him.

Yoon Pyeong and the men are outraged that Chae Yoon has a sword at the head nobi’s neck. But she just calmly tries to persuade him to join their side as they have similar goals. Why merely kill the king? That is not true revenge, she says. You should make him really suffer. Nice lady! She tells the men to put their weapons down and they unwillingly back off. Then Chae Yoon puts his sword away and ‘agrees’ to hear more about Milbon’s offer.

Later, So Yi tells Chae Yoon what happened with Gok Se and also wonders what it is that Chae Yoon wants from the king this time when he achieves his goal. But he doesn’t want to answer…


Chae Yoon asks the king if he can tell Milbon more about the letters so they will trust him. But the king doesn’t want them to know ANYTHING about the letters because he wants people to keep thinking they are useless. (Oh It was very careless to leave that silk with the letters in the barn)

The king notes that Chae Yoon seems very keen to help him now. He admits it’s because Chae Yoon knows the king wants even the common people to enjoy life. But until now he didn’t think life had anything to offer. (that’s so sad) And so the king gets an idea what Chae Yoon is going to request. (Could it be to do with So Yi?)

Han Ga is busy teaching the little girl and her friend the big assassin how to write the characters. And Shim tells Jeong Gi Joon his concerns after speaking to the head of the Institute. After all, they ARE agreeing to let the king publish something they HAVE NEVER SEEN. Then Han Ga comes rushing in. He is flustered and in a panic. And after he explains all about the new letters, Jeong Gi Joon looks flustered too. Boy, Jeong Gi Joon is interested in the alphabet now!

Meanwhile, Lee is confident his time has come as he heads off to the meeting with the king.

Jeong Gi Joon sees that even the assassin (who is not the smartest tool in the drawer) and the little girl have both learnt to write. Jeong Gi Joon and Han Ga contemplate a world where EVERYONE can read and write. And to them, it’s a frightening place! They know written words can be more powerful than the sword. Jeong Gi Joon says the ability to read is what MAKES the noblemen into noblemen. And if everyone can read this will take the power away from the nobility. SO THEY MUST STOP the alphabet spreading. But Minister Lee is already on his way to the meeting….




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