Deep Rooted Tree Episode 21


Milbon has always been shaky, but the murder of the king has weakened them even more. So while some members are unhappy about Jeong Gi Joon’s methods, other members see an opportunity to steal the leadership position. The shrewd king anticipates this will happen and does everything he can to encourage it! Splinter groups break away but they are ALL after the same thing – the book that explains how to read the king’s new alphabet. And it will be a race to see who gets to it first. But then Chae Yoon is told that the explanation is NOT written in a book. He realises that So Yi is in danger …

The king is now even more determined that his writing system will spread like a plague just like Jeong Gi Joon said. And Jeong Gi Joon is determined to stop him. But it’s going to be tough as  in the countryside the king’s plan is already taking shape. The court lady Mok Ya is going to take the role of a 무당 mudang, shaman. (Shaman had a strong influence over the people in those days. And the modern version often appears in contemporary dramas too) so in this role she can easily spread the pronunciation to the people in the form of a kind of lucky chant. She practises chanting the 14 consonant sounds followed by the 10 vowels. (At the time there were actually 28 sounds altogether but 24 are used today.)

consonants: 그느드르므브스으즈츠크트프흐

vowels: 아야어여오요우유으이

They will hand out the paper with the letters on it and tell the people that if they say this chant every morning and evening for 100 days then their dreams will come true. Cho Tak tries to read the letters but he’s not so good. On the other hand, Park Po gets the idea straight away. It’s ironic since he is not good at remembering the Chinese characters.


So Yi explains to Chae Yoon how they plan to teach people to read the letters by using the kaksori, singing beggars, and teaching songs to the children. But Chae Yoon is impatient and wants to teach the people as quickly as possible. And So Yi has guessed why – Flashback to the king with So Yi and Chae Yoon. The king reveals there are two parts to his plan – banpo (반포 頒布) and yupo (유포 流布) (publish and circulate) – the king plans to publish books but in the meantime So Yi must teach the people how to read so it can spread through the people. It is dangerous work so Chae Yoon’s job is to protect her. But after the job is done he will be free to leave the palace with her – this is why he’s in a hurry!

Meanwhile, back at the palace, the king is giving orders to Jo Mal Seng, Jeong In Ji and Mu Hyul about how to deal with Milbon. He predicts that Milbon are weak and will start fighting amongst themselves confused over Jeong Gi Joon’s leadership. He kind of suggests that they must encourage this. But he’s being vague and Jo Mal Seng is confused. Obviously Jo Mal Seng has been kept at a distance up till now and he’s not used to the ways of King Sejong. But the other two seem to understand perfectly!


In the Milbon camp, Yoon Pyeong is sent off to look for the court ladies. But just as the king predicted, Jeong Gi Joon’s leadership is in question. Murdering the prince has weakened Milbon and some of the older members are unhappy. They meet with Lee Shin Chok who is keen to condemn the murder of the prince. But they all know that they must be careful because Jeong Gi Joon does have loyal followers too and he is the ONLY ONE who knows who ALL the members of MIlbon are! (This could be a problem for Lee Shin Chok taking over!)

The nobi leader and Han Ga are still loyal to Jeong Gi Joon and they try to persuade him to show the letters to Milbon and explain his reasons for his actions. They know that Lee Shin Chok has met with the older scholars and he must be plotting something. But Jeong Gi Joon is adamant that the most important thing is stopping ANYONE from seeing the letters. This is even more important than MILBON!

But Shim Jeong Soo agrees with Lee Shin Chok that Milbon must be saved. He believes they must get a new leader. But first they must find out who all the members of Milbon are. So if they can find the court ladies and get the book with the explanation for the new writing BEFORE Jeong Gi Joon, then they can use this to negotiate for what they want from Jeong Gi Joon. Minister Lee suggests that Shim Jeong Soo should take over as the leader of Milbon and he will support him. And he will be useful because after all, even the king trusts him. (really?) They are interrupted as there is an order from the king to attend a meeting.


The king informs everyone that today’s meeting is confidential. And he will deal with three things – an apology (사죄 謝罪 sachwae), a declaration (선언 宣言 sonon), and a proposal (제언 提言 chaeon)

sachwae: First the king reveals that his scholars have been creating a new alphabet in secret. He apologises for keeping this work secret from the ministers and and to the shock of the room he bows his head. Everyone in the room bows their head quickly too!

sonon: Next he declares that he will not blame the death of his son on Milbon. He blames himself for the prince’s death. Jo Mal Seng reacts with dismay. But the king wants the Milbon members to come out in the open and make a new party so he can have debates and discussions with them! Oh this is amusing. Does Lee Shim Chok or Shim Jeong Soo have the guts to debate with the clever king?? I don’t think so.  😀  Anyway, now we can clearly see that they don’t actually have a cause, they just want power. This is a brilliant strategy. By accepting Milbon, the king de-glamorises them. And exposes their true motives. 

chaeon: So finally his proposal: The king will accept Milbon as a political party if they come out in public. He says he has ‘received information’ (really?) about Milbon members but promises they will not be punished just for disagreeing with him. Only Jeong Gi Joon will be charged with murder as he ordered the killings.  HOWEVER, if they continue to play dirty and secretly try to stop him publishing his letters – then they must suffer the consequences. There is nervousness around the room. NOW let’s see who the real men are! It appears there are none!

As Lee is leaving the meeting he is called to see the king. He looks very nervous indeed! But the king offers him the position of PM as Hwang Hee wants to retire! Lee gleefully tells Shim Jeong Soo this later.


But everything is not as it seems! The king’s plan to mess Milbon up is underway and it seems to be working well! Jo Mal Seng tells the head of the Institute, Choi Mal Ri, that Minister Lee ‘is suspicious’ of Shim Jeong Soo – he could be in Milbon. When Shim hears this he is obviously FURIOUS. And even MORE furious when he hears from the PM that he is NOT retiring!! So Minister Lee must be lying to him…

Doubt is in Shim Jeong Soo’s mind and he can’t trust Minister Lee. But he acts like everything is fine. But Shim has a big ego and is easily rattled – we have seen this in earlier episodes. This trait will lead him to act without caution. He can’t be trusted to stay loyal to anyone. Sure enough he decides to break away from Lee Shin Chok AND Jeong Gi Joon.

Lee Shin Chok realises Shim has betrayed him. So he decides he must find the court ladies BEFORE Shim Jeong Soo! He asks the Ming agent for help. So now we have Jeong Gi Joon, Shim Jeong Soo, and Lee Shin Chok in a race to find the court ladies!

Chae Yoon sets off to visit Cho Tak and the others to give them an update. He looks loved up with So Yi.  (But too much happiness is always a bad omen, isn’t it?! And it’s not good that he’s leaving them on their own!)

Mok Ya, the ‘Shaman’, starts her show in front of the locals. Park Po is part of the act and the locals are impressed when the shaman ‘knows’ about his family circumstances. She shows them the paper with the new letters and tells them to come back with their families the next day and she will teach them the special way to learn the chant to make their dreams come true. The locals enthusiastically agree.

But then Yoon Pyeong and Mak Soo arrive in the village. Milbon think the ladies are printing books so they ask at the shop to see if anyone has ordered lots of paper. The shopkeeper tells him that some women ordered 괴황지  gwaehwangji – yellow paper written on by shaman and used as charms. This info is reported back to Jeong Gi Joon. And he soon guesses that the king is NOT planning to print books to spread the new alphabet but instead the letters will be taught through word of mouth directly to THE PEOPLE. Now he is more desperate than ever to catch the court ladies!

Shim Jeong Soo sets off on his search but the palace guard and the Ming agent are hot on his heals. Shim manages to lose the guard but the agent is still onto him.

Yoon Pyeong notices Cho Tak in the village. He knows he’s getting closer. But Mak Soo, the Milbon guard with him, is now on Shim Jeong Soo’s side and so wants to get to the ladies first! Cho Tak realises he’s being followed and leaves a sign on a pillar. Then he asks a local man with a cart to hide him – but the local man is Mak Soo, the Milbon soldier!

When Cho Tak arrives, Park Po is enjoying himself with the ladies as they break hard boiled eggs on his head! But Cho Tak doesn’t realise that he has unwittingly led Milbon right to them. Mak Soo puts a sword to Cho Tak’s throat.  Why doesn’t he just kill him though? And more soldiers appear from nowhere and surround them. The women run away leaving the two guards to fight off all the soldiers. Park Po comes up with a couple of impressive moves too! He seems to be doing better away from the palace!

But on the mountain the ladies are helpless and are soon caught by Yoon Pyeong. They are tied up and put in the cart. But as Yoon Pyeong leads the cart away Shim Jeong Soo arrives. A fight ensues. Yoon Pyeong drags the court ladies out of the cart on the ground and puts his sword to their throats. Shim simply tells him to kill them if he is going to kill them. He really is despicable!

But we know Yoon Pyeong is not all bad. He raises his sword but just cuts the ladies free. They run away while the Ming agent watches in the shadows. Shim sends the soldier to catch the ladies. Shim and Yoon Pyeong fight but suddenly Yoon Pyeong disappears.

Mak Soo catches Geun Ji but then the Ming agent arrives and snatches her away. Mok Ya is caught by Yoon Pyeong. Meanwhile Chae Yoon arrives to find Cho Tak and Park Po looking very dishevelled after their battle.

Geun Ji is drugged by the Ming agent and she reveals that there was never a book that explains how to read and write the new letters. She also tells her that So Yi is in Chang Am Gol. The agent rushes off to find So Yi leaving orders for Geun Ji to be killed. But Shim Jeong Soo arrives just in time. But he just wants to know where the book is too. This time Geun Ji says it’s in Chang Am Gol. So HE rushes off in the same direction after the agent leaving orders to Mak Soo to kill Geun Ji! (She’s having a hard time!) Yoon Pyeong looks on from the shadows.

Meanwhile Chae Yoon and the guards search the mountain. Mak Soo is about to kill Geun Ji when Chae Yoon jumps him. She is still drugged up but finally she gives them the scary news – it’s NOT a book  that they should be looking for – it’s So Yi. So Yi is the one with all the information about the alphabet … Chae Yoon looks worried. He knows So Yi is in danger –  the agent followed by Shim Jeong Soo followed by Yoon Pyeong are all on their way to Chang Am Gol …





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