Deep Rooted Tree Episode 20

Well this episode has a big twist. The king gets back on track and decides to do whatever it takes to find out who murdered his son. The scholars are dismayed to hear that he will also go ahead and print his book on Buddhism. And there is further shock and horror around the court as Jo Mal Seng is put in charge of the investigation. Because with him in charge, there is sure to be bloodshed. There are certainly arrests and torture galore. And the court ladies are first in line. The king has toughened up and changed so dramatically that Jeong Gi Joon is suspicious. Especially when Milbon realise that the court ladies are not where they are supposed to be …

The king is in pain and blames himself for the prince’s death. At the same time, Jeong Gi Joon’s words have shaken him so he’s questioning his own motives for creating the new alphabet for his people. It seems like he plans to give up. Chae Yoon is angry – Is Dam’s dream over just because of what Jeong Gi Joon said? Is the king really so weak? Chae Yoon reveals his wish – permission from the king to take Dam away after all this is over so that they can have children and live happily. His speech even brings a tear to Mu Hyul’s eye! In disappointment Chae Yoon turns to take Dam away.

The king calls after him arguing that So Yi is strong, so different to other people: ordinary members of the lower classes can’t cope with responsibility. (These are really Jeong Gi Joon’s words.) But Chae Yoon just laughs – the poor people have to be responsible all the time. Why can’t the king let them choose how to use the gift of reading and writing that he will give them? He calls the king a coward! But the king just smiles. It’s like Chae Yoon has just confirmed what the king really thinks. The king was playing devil’s advocate and taking Jeong Gi Joon’s role while Chae Yoon was taking the king’s role! 

Chae Yoon leaves looking solemn. Meanwhile, the king sits on his throne deep in thought with So Yi loyally by his side. Then she watches Chae Yoon crying alone.


The king looks thoughtfully at his new letters as he remembers Jeong Gi Joon’s words. He writes out 4 Chinese characters 訓民正音 – hun 훈 (teach), min 민 (people), jeong 정 (correct), um 음 (sound). This is the name of the original text that explained in Chinese characters how to read this new writing system. So it looks like the king is back on track.

Meanwhile Jeong Gi Joon is more determined than ever to stop the letters because they are like ‘a plague’. He knows the king plans to spread books, which explain how to read the new letters, all around the country. So they must watch everyone and find out who is involved in the printing project.

But there’s a general feeling in Milbon that Jeong Gi Joon went too far by killing the prince. And there is unease when he says he doesn’t care what it takes to stop the king. Han Ga tries to defend Jeong Gi Joon’s decision by explaining the book the king was printing was about Buddhism and not Confucianism. (Oh well, that’s ok then?)

The king is making his plan of attack –  a combination of direct attacks with secret ambushes. In other words, someone will quietly leave the palace to carry on the printing work in secret. But it can’t be the young scholars. That’s too obvious and they will soon be killed. So who could go?


Jo Mal Seng hears from the dying Lee Bang Ji that Karion is Jeong Gi Joon. He marches to the assembly with a face like thunder. In front of everyone, he demands to know from the king if this is true. There is horror around the room and the Milbon members look uneasy as the truth comes out – Karion/Jeong Gi Joon must have killed the prince. He’s fuming. He TOLD the king NOT to TRUST ANYONE. And now the prince is dead. He says HE WILL investigate Milbon himself now and he doesn’t care if the king punishes him for it. I love Jo Mal Seng’s reaction here. He’s one of the few that the king can really trust.

The king reacts too. He angrily agrees they must bring the murderers to justice. To everyone’s surprise (including Jo Mal Seng) he puts Jo Mal Seng in charge of the investigation. He also insists that now he will definitely go ahead with the proclamation of his new alphabet. And explains that the scholars are already working on it now. The head of the Institute tries to object, but since the prince has died for the cause he can’t really say anything! Oh this has really backfired on Jeong Gi Joon.

Back in their office, all the ministers are shaken. The king has kept Jo Mal Seng at a distance to show he is different to his father, King Taejong, but now suddenly he calls on his services? Everyone knows that with Jo Mal Seng in charge of the investigation, there will surely be bloodshed.

The king talks to Jo Mal Seng and Lee Shim Chok in private. He admits that he tried to work things out with Jeong Gi Joon but couldn’t.  Lee Shin Chok looks very uncomfortable right now! And he looks even more uncomfortable when the king gives Jo Mal Seng the power to do whatever it takes to uncover the truth. They must find out who knew about the prince’s whereabouts. Then the king looks at Lee Shin Chok and asks him to step outside. Minister Lee looks very nervous indeed as he gets up to leave!

At the Institute of Learning, the head of the Institute storms in to find preparations for printing the book on Buddha are openly going ahead. In a rage he orders his men to stop this and they storm inside turning the room upside down throwing printing stamps on the floor.

But suddenly Mu Hyul marches in followed by the king! Everyone stops! The head furiously asks the king to kill him instead rather than print a book on Buddhism. So the king has him and the other scholars arrested and thrown into prison! Bet he didn’t see that coming!


Milbon are surprised at how the king has changed allowing arrests and torture.  But Jeong Gi Joon is not – Everyone has the capacity to become evil under the right circumstances he explains. (I agree)

The court ladies are gathered up by Jo Mal Seng. Their rooms are ransacked while he demands to know where So Yi is.  She’s immediately arrested and tortured. Chae Yoon rushes to her side. But Jo Mal Seng just criticises him for not doing his job properly so now the prince is dead. Milbon spies are watching and inform Jeong Gi Joon what’s going on.

Chae Yoon demands to see the king but he’s stopped by the feisty court lady. Normally he would just barge past her though, wouldn’t he? He’s done that before! The king has got tough and when Chae Yoon tries to speak to him again later, the king merely confirms that he gave permission for So Yi to be tortured. He angrily blames Chae Yoon for everything and has him arrested too!

In prison, the head of the Institute and his scholars sit on the floor in neat rows. (most amusing!) The head is affronted at being in prison! 😀  The court ladies plead innocence again as they are interrogated by Jo Mal Seng with Milbon spies in the background (!) But they admit that they did talk to each other about the prince in the laundry rooms one day …

In prison, the court ladies are told that as a punishment for this they will be demoted to nobi slaves and sent off to the countryside! This is a bit harsh. The head of the Institute and his men don’t look too bad but Chae Yoon looks a complete in a mess. What’s going on with his hair? Finally the head and his men are released. But he is NOT amused. 😡

The court ladies are now dressed in regulation white nobi clothes and tied together as they walk solemly to a boat that will take them away from the palace. Chae Yoon is brought tied up and thrown in front of the king.

So is the king becoming evil as Jeong Gi Joon predicted? Milbon think that the king is acting just like his father – King Taejong. But now Jeong Gi Joon is not convinced. He sits wondering what is going on as this is TOO out of character for the king. Has he really broken so easily?

At the palace Chae Yoon gets up off the floor. In slow motion his hand wipes away a stray hair and he changes from a tortured prisoner to a grinning guard. It was all an act. Jo Mal Seng smiles too – ah. I think this is the first time we have seen him actually chuckle.


We get a flashback to Jo Mal Seng sitting with the king. The court ladies appear from behind the screen. They must carry out the printing work in secret but the king needs Jo Mal Seng’s help. But can they cope with being tortured? All the ladies agree to be tortured but one asks, Will you really torture us? The king chuckles and Jo Mal Seng looks at them and shifts uncomfortably. He’s a big softy really. I think we can guess there won’t really be any torture. Just a lot of good acting! Then we see Chae Yoon given his orders by Mu Hyul. It’s his turn to act. On his way he practises his lines to Jo Mal Seng – What are you doing? What are you doing? But when he enters he fluffs them up a bit!

The court ladies arrive in the countryside and their solemn expressions change to smiles as they laugh and joke about their good acting. Milbon have no idea that this was all an act so they could leave the palace to finish the printing!

Chae Yoon is back in black (this is his best look) ready to join the court ladies. The king gives him a badge that acts as the king’s order. Chae Yoon pays his respects to the king before he sets off. We see a flashback to Chae Yoon crying on the step after shouting in frustration and disappoint at the king. But he was crying from happiness not sadness as the king had decided to go ahead with the project after all!


On his way Chae Yoon bumps into Jo Mal Seng who takes him back to his house. Lee Bang Ji is there on his deathbed. It’s a moving scene as the teacher and apprentice get to spend a few moments together. (I cried)   Chae Yoon cries holding his master’s hand as he dies. Jo Mal Seng sits quietly by.

Chae Yoon pours liquor at the graveside. It’s sad that Chae Yoon seems to be the only one mourning his death. He tries to laugh and smile as Lee Bang Ji told him not to be sad because it was an honourable death for a warrior. Cho Tak and Park Po stand quietly by. It’s the first time we see them in civilian clothes too.

Lee Shim Chok is sneakily planning again. He suggests to Shim Jeong Soo that they are both thinking the same thing – with the death of the prince, Milbon is in trouble. What are they going to do? Jeong Gi Joon has put his life on the line to stop the letters being published.  So who will take over from Jeong Gi Joon after he is gone! Lee Shin Chok is thinking ahead!

At the palace, the king asks Jo Mal Seng which of the ministers are suspicious. Who could be Milbon? Jo Mal Seng says Shim Jeong Soo. The king thinks Lee Shin Chok. But neither of them have any actual proof.

Milbon – Han Ga has got a list of names of people outside the palace in contact with the king. They must keep an eye on all these people.  Yoon Pyeong lingers in front of Han Ga. He suggests that since the court ladies have been chucked out of the court maybe Milbon could persuade the ladies to join them?  It’s a softer side of him that we haven’t seen before. Cute.

But Han Ga just bursts out laughing. He guesses there’s a romantic reason for Yoon Pyeong’s interest. Yoon Pyeong denies this and looks embarrassed. Poor Yoon Pyeong. I’m actually starting to feel sorry for him. But Jeong Gi Joon overheard the conversation and tells Yoon Pyeong to go and find the ladies.

Chae Yoon arrives in the countryside at the court ladies’ camp. So Yi has called on some kaksori to help them with their task. Chae Yoon is sent out to tell them what they have to do but they are more interested in eating and they are certainly ‘not the sharpest knives in the drawer’.

Milbon realise that the scholars connected to the publishing have not left the palace. Then they hear that the court ladies are not where they are supposed to be either. This is suspicious!

Jeong Gi Joon realises that it must be the court ladies who are going to do the printing. The king smiles and says that’s right, the alphabet will spread like a plague…..




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