Deep Rooted Tree Episode 19

Jeong Gi Joon has had enough talk and orders Yoon Pyeong to kill the king. But then Chae Yoon arrives… I’ve lost count how many times people have been threatened with swords held to their throats in this drama!  It must be heading for a million times? But this episode really goes all out and we have a classic four-way sword stalemate situation with the King, Jeong Gi Joon, Mu Hyul and Gae Pa Yi all just a moment from death. It’s left up to So Yi to calm the tense testosterone atmosphere!  

I thought the king was naive to think he could persuade Jeong Gi Joon to see his point of view. But for a while after their meeting, it looks like there is a chance that Jeong Gi Joon now understands the king and won’t try to stop him publishing his new alphabet. But this doesn’t last long and he is soon the king’s enemy again. Desperate to stop the king, Jeong Gi Joon targets the prince. Even after everything he’s done, it’s still shocking when Jeong Gi Joon gives Yoon Pyeong the order to kill the prince. And it’s a very sad scene at the end with the king grieving for his son. 

Mu Hyul and Gae Pa Yi remain with swords drawn as Jeong Gi Joon stands up menacingly before the king. The king looks up at him and realises that he – Karion the butcher –  is Jeong Gi Joon. So Yi’s jaw drops in shock too. But even in this potentially dodgy situation, the king isn’t worried about his safety. He’s pleased that he’s finally got to meet Jeong Gi Joon and immediately asks him if he’s seen his new writing system. Of course Jeong Gi Joon has seen it. And he explains that he will make sure that it NEVER gets published. The king looks pleased that Jeong Gi Joon is impressed and he sits down wanting to talk more.

This is a long and intense scene as both men present their arguments and get into a heated debate. So in a nutshell,

the king’s view:

He loves his people and he wants them to have a better life and create balance in the country.

The king thinks that Jeong Gi Joon is worried that the sadebu, bureaucrats, will lose their power when the people become stronger, but he argues that it’s important for the order of the land that the people have a voice.

He acknowledges that Jeong Gi Joon’s uncle, Jeong Do Jeon (the first prime minister of Joseon) set up the structure of Joseon based on Confucian teachings. And bureaucrats rule the country. But over time (Joseon is still very new) the bureaucrats will want more and more power and will become corrupt. This is human nature.  So if the people can read and write, they can communicate directly without going through (possibly corrupt) officials. This will give them more power and keep a balance in the country – stopping bureaucrats from becoming too greedy and powerful with no one to answer to.

And if they can read, the people will also be able to study Confucianism – ethics and proper ways of behaviour. So it’s a win win situation.

Jeong Gi Joon’s view:

Power will make the people greedy for more. And the king doesn’t love his people. He just wants them to be able to take the blame when things go wrong. 

If the people study they will get wisdom and THEN they will want to become active in the ruling of the land – politics. They will EVEN want to have A SAY in WHO leads their country! (Shock, horror!) All the religions including Buddhism and Christianity try to control the desires of the people. But the king’s writing system will upset this order. So Jeong Gi Joon wants to save the people by stopping the writing system being published. 

He’s proud of the Joseon sadebu bureacrats and says they are different to the sadebu of Goryeo (the dynasty that ruled before Joseon). Joseon Bureaucrats can’t inherit their title from their father. This is the difference between the aristocracy (he includes the king here) and the bureaucracy. Bureaucrats have to study hard and have the right mind and pass exams to rule the country. (I think Jeong Gi Joon is being a bit hypercritical since the only reason he’s the leader of Milbon is because his UNCLE was Jeong Do Jeon. And he hasn’t passed the kwago civil service exam either, has he? So technically, he’s not a sadebu bureaucrat!)

Anyway, his point is that you can’t just have anyone ruling the country. And you certainly can’t let the people CHOOSE their own leader. Because who will take responsibility if the leader is not any good? The king thinks Jeong Gi Joon doesn’t have faith in the people. But Jeong Gi Joon argues that he has lived as a butcher amongst them, so he knows they are hopeless (so must be led by the responsible bureaucrats).

Meanwhile Chae Yoon and Cho Tak are in Karion’s place. They realise that this is Milbon’s HQ so Karion must be part of Milbon. They find another secret area and discover that there is an underground passage from Karion’s place to the head nobi’s. Then they discover that Karion is on the cliff with the king and So Yi! In a panic, Chae Yoon hurries to the cliff whilst Cho Tak goes back to the palace to get help.

The atmosphere on the cliff gets tense as the king and Jeong Gi Joon reach a stalemate. Jeong Gi Joon seems determined to find a darker more sinister motive behind the king’s plan to teach the people to read: he thinks the king is sick of his people and just wants them to look after themselves. (I like the way he explains this though – the king is like a man who says he loves a woman but he can’t be bothered to walk her home safely at night anymore, so he gives her a sword instead and tells her to go home alone and defend herself!)

The king angrily denies this. He stands up and shouts that he does love the people.

Just then Yoon Pyeong flies up onto the cliff and draws his sword close to the king’s neck. But the king isn’t bothered about the sword and he steps forward. He still thinks he can convince Jeong Gi Joon to see his view. But Jeong Gi Joon has made his mind up and isn’t interested in any more discussion. He will do whatever it takes to stop the king and his writing system. So he orders Yoon Pyeong to kill the king

BUT just in time, Chae Yoon flies up on the cliff and his sword is now at Jeong Gi Joon’s throat! Yoon Pyeong has a predicament – kill the king and Jeong Gi Joon dies too.

The king STILL DESPERATELY tries to talk but Jeong Gi Joon just orders Yoon Pyeong again to kill him. Yoon Pyeong hesitates again. He can’t do it. So Jeong Gi Joon tries to work on Chae Yoon -taunting him. Because if Chae Yoon kills Jeong Gi Joon, then Yoon Pyeong will kill the king. At least Jeong Gi Joon is prepared to die for what he believes in. Even if he is misguided.


Nobody wants to back down and it could be a long night. But finally, So Yi steps in to calm the situation. She persuades Chae Yoon and Yoon Pyeong to put their swords down at the same time. They do and Jeong Gi Joon is furious. So Yi tells the men to throw their swords to the ground which they do. Mu Hyul and Gae Pa Yi have had their swords drawn this whole time too (their arms must be aching) and So Yi asks them to throw down their swords. They do.

The Milbon team are invited to leave the cliff first. But on his way, Jeong Gi Joon turns around. He glares at the king promising again that he will do whatever it takes to stop his alphabet ever being published. The king equally angry replies that he can’t stop him.

They all walk solemnly back to their bases. The king looks glum. Jeong Gi Joon looks determined.

Milbon hear that the prince has moved to a temple nearer to Seoul where he is working on printing and publishing the alphabet. But Jeong Gi Joon is  thinking about his conversation with the king: If the people learn to read will they really be able to study and understand Confucian teachings such as 삼강 오륜  samgangoryun – the three fundamental principles in human relations (how to show respect etc.) Will they be able to understand this and follow it if they don’t learn the Chinese characters? It could be possible. Han Ga points out that even if they learn to read their lives may be enriched but nothing much else will change. They will still have a hard life. Is Jeong Gi Joon changing his mind about trying to stop the king? 

Meanwhile, there’s shock in the palace as the identity of Jeong Gi Joon is revealed. The guards ask for the king’s permission to search Banchon for more evidence on Milbon. And they are worried about the prince as he is at the temple printing the letters. But the king is still thinking about Jeong Gi Joon’s words too. And he is starting to doubt his own motives!


Wanted posters go up around Banchon for Jeong Gi Joon and the head nobi. The guards search everywhere for them and all the nobi are arrested and tied up and put in cells.

Meanwhile, Jo Mal Seng goes into his room and hears someone in there. He gets his sword out but finds Lee Bang Ji collapsed behind the screen. He looks on the verge of death. Oh no.

The guards interrogate the nobi. Chae Yoon wants to find out more about the assassin Gae Pa Yi. So he asks So Yi to question the little girl, Yoon Do.


Yoon Pyeong and his men arrive at the temple and kill the prince’s guards…

So Yi takes the frightened little girl away from the prison. She finds out that Yoon Do played with Gae Pa Yi at an abandoned temple in the mountain. So Chae Yoon gets her to take him there. He’s trying to be friendly with her but she’s not buying it (!) She stands on a trigger that sets off the bell to let Milbon know someone is coming. Han Ga and Shim Jeong Soo are having a meeting at the temple. Han Ga confirms that Jeong Gi Joon is having second thoughts about trying to stop the king publish his alphabet since the people may be able to learn Confucianism if they can read. But when Chae Yoon arrives with his sword drawn, all he finds are some clothes and a shoe.


But just as it seems that Jeong Gi Joon may change his mind about the writing system, things take a turn for the worse …

He’s shown a book that the king has published – on BUDDHISM; a biography of Buddha’s life. (Buddhism was the main religion of the Goryeo dynasty before Joseon. The Joseon bureaucrats wanted to stamp out Buddhism in favour of Confucianism.) He looks as though he is about to explode with rage…

Meanwhile, the king is still thinking over Jeong Gi Joon’s words. Maybe Jeong Gi Joon is right? Has he put his love of his alphabet before his people? He has a conversation with Jeong Gi Joon as if they are both in the same room and he explains that yes, he lied – he didn’t really care about spreading Confucianism to the people at first. He just wanted the people to learn to read quickly so he chose easy-to-understand stories about Buddha. (since the people had been familiar with Buddhism during the previous Goryeo period) Jeong Gi Joon is angry and convinced the king has lied to them pretending that it is all in the name of Confucianism.

Jeong Gi Joon visits the prince who is now a prisoner and tied up. He bows to him but explains that there is no way he will allow these letters to be published because the king lied to him. After all, if he wanted to teach everyone Confucianism, why has he published a book on Buddhism? The prince cries with frustration. But he is convinced that Jeong Gi Joon will not be able to find the key that explains how to read the new alphabet. Because the prince has never even seen it either. Jeong Gi Joon is sure that he can find it. He apologises to the prince (!) then gives Yoon Pyeong the nod to kill him.

Outside the palace gates, the guards see a palanquin…

When they go over they find a note attached to the palanquin with the dead prince inside. The king is told and he comes out in his stocking feet – he hasn’t put his boots on. He peeks into the palanquin and everyone collapses in tears at the sight of the prince’s lifeless body.

The king breaks down in his room blaming himself for the death of his son. So Yi stands helplessly by not knowing what to do. But Chae Yoon comes calmly in and sees the king collapsed on the floor laughing like a madman. He takes So Yi’s hand to lead her away but she refuses to go demanding to know why he’s acting like this in front of the king. Chae Yoon simply says, King? Who is the king?

Chae Yoon criticises the king for crying and being weak when his son was so proud to die for the cause. (He’s being tough on the king but must be doing this on purpose to make him pull himself together) The king grabs Mu Hyul’s sword and in anger goes to strike Chae Yoon. Chae Yoon punches his chest asking, does is hurt here? Well, you don’t have the right to be sad or shed a tear. Because the prince was so proud to die. The king screams in agony but it looks like he will now toughen up…


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