I knew it. The frustration begins. at the horse ranch Kwanghyun is standing right behind Ji Nyung – the friend he is desperate to find. But he doesn’t recognize her in her fine clothes and she keeps her back to him, too worried about her injured new brother to even notice him. Oh for goodness sake – HE’S BEHIND YOU! Oh these scenes are killing me. And I know we are going to have lots more of them too. 😕
Kwanghyun has a special relationship with the horse
Myunghwan continues to watch the show unaware of the accident
The nurse Injoo arrives at the horse ranch looking for Kwanghyun. (It is all a bit too much of a coincidence, isn’t it? That Myunghyun and Ji Nyung should be there on the exact same day!) She asks the master if any new boys have joined the ranch recently. Of course the master says no. (What do you mean no? What about Kwanghyun. Duh!) He doesn’t want to tell her about Kwanghyun and risk losing his slave. Disappointed Injoo is about to leave when she sees the commotion around Myunghwan’s son, Sungha, who is lying lifeless in the field after being knocked down by the horse.
Injoo performs acupuncture on Sungha.
She rushes over, takes his pulse and realises what’s wrong. She announces that she’s a nurse and opens her tool kit and proceeds to start treating the boy with acupuncture. The crowd takes the stranger’s word for it that she’s a nurse and knows what she’s doing. Very trusting. And Ji Nyung is impressed as she watches her insert the needles and then cut the boy across his stomach to drain some blood. Yikes. By the time Myunghwan arrives she has finished the treatment and disappears before he sees her.
Of course someone must pay for the accident. The master (what a wimp he is) won’t take responsibility and blames his underlings – the vets. But he is the one who was adamant that the horse had to be presented and sold today. The head vet, Choo Ki Bae, knows that his life is in danger so tells Kwanghyun to hide but also gives him instructions on how to look after the horse. (He’s very honourable and caring thinking about the horse even when he knows he is probably going to die. This is a much more sober role for actor Lee Hee Do who played a more comic character in the last Lee Byung Hoon sageuk, Dong Yi)
The head vet prepares to be punished
Myunghwan’s guard, Kang Jung Doo, comes to punish the men. So far this episode has given me 10 minutes of frustration – first the kids are standing right next to each other and don’t notice each other and now this. But it’s classic sageuk – the poor always have to pay. The master easily puts the blame onto the vets – but it is his ranch and he should jolly well take responsibility.
And now for a shocker – The guard Jung Doo draws his sword to KILL the horse mercilessly by stabbing her in the neck. The poor animal falls to the ground and lies there lifeless covered in blood. Kwanghyun who is hiding behind the haystack, watches the scene trembling with fear but gutted about the horse. The head vet is led away. He is stoic whilst his underling, Ja Bong, begs for mercy. (oh shut up)
Kwanhyun watches helplessly as the guard kills his horse
But Kwanghyun is determined to help his horse get better. He doesn’t know what to do though as he doesn’t have the medical skills and knowledge yet. But he knows a man that does. But how is he going to get the horse up to the doctor in the mountain cave? He tries to pull the horse up but he’s not strong enough and he remembers how he struggled and failed to help his dying father too. But this time the horse seems to understand what Kwanghyun wants her to do so eventually the horse gets up by herself. They walk up into the mountain with the horse covered in blood-stained bandages.
Kwanghyun has to insert the acupuncture needle into the horse
This is another episode of contrasts. Whilst Myunghwan works in his spotlessly clean, cutting edge royal clinic with high quality herbs and a team of trained nurses, a scruffy and blood-stained Kwanghyun dressed in rags leads his sorrowful horse up to a squalid makeshift clinic in a cave.
The doctor refuses to help the horse at first – because he’s not a vet – but Kwanghyun’s desperate pleas work in the end. First they have to calm the horse before they can stitch her up, but she is nervous and won’t stay still for the doctor to put in an acupuncture needle. So Kwanghyun has to do it. The doctor guides him to the right spot on the horse’s leg and after several nervous tries Kwanghyun finally manages to get the needle in and the horse falls to the ground.
Kwanghyun is mortified. He thinks he has done something wrong. But the acupuncture has worked. The horse is knocked out and the doctor can treat her. Kwanghyun hasn’t had much luck with medicine so far but this moment is a turning point for him. He feels pleased that was actually able to help his horse.
Kwanghyun feels triumphant after helping the horse recover
Sungha is recovering well in the royal clinic and Ji Nyung is pleased to be allowed in to visit him. Myunghwan wants to find the nurse that treated his son so well, but he’s not having any luck. What woman could have such good skills? The thought briefly passes through his mind that it could be his friend Injoo. But then his attention turns to what to do with those responsible for the accident. Should they be punished? At first Myunghwan says yes. But then he discovers that it is the vets who must take the blame. (So now what are you going to do Myunghwan? You of all people knows about the sorry life of a horse doctor.)
Ji Nyung also becomes fascinated with acupuncture
To their surprise, the vets are allowed to return to the ranch. So Myunghwan has shown them mercy. (I should think so too) The master is in a tizzy because Kwanghyun has disappeared with the horse. But then they are all shocked to see him return from the mountain with his horse looking much better and well on the way to recovery!
Kwanghyun returns triumphantly to the ranch with the horse
Injoo still has not given up her search for the Kwanghyun and she meets the doctor from the cave to tell him about him. It turns out that this doctor is the one who taught her acupuncture skills. (What a small world!)
We see more similar and contrasting scenes as Kwanghyun comforts the horse in the stable and Ji Nyung comforts her brother Sungha in the royal clinic. But at the same time both children seem fascinated by acupuncture and healing. Kwanghyun is still on a high after helping the horse recover. He sits in the stable gazing up at the acupuncture needle and the camera moves up to the sky. (Aha, I think it’s time to say good bye to the child Kwanghyun and say hello to the adult.) The camera returns to grown up Kwanghyun sitting in the same spot in the stable gazing at the acupuncture needle.
Introducing Kwanghyun all grown up
As young adults, Kwanghyun and Ji Nyung are still interested in medicine. Ji Nyung practises medicine on people. Kwanghyun is working on animals. Kwanghyun is delighted when he helps a dog and runs off to tell everyone. Unfortunately nobody seems impressed or interested especially since they are in the middle of meeting some important guests from the palace.
The ranch is ordered to look after a horse from the royal stables – (oh no, I can sense this isn’t going to end well.) But when Kwanghyun rides the horse he confirms what the head vet was thinking – something is not right with the horse. They need some special medicine so they’ll have to make a trip the capital.
Introducing Ji Nyung all grown up
Looks like Ji Nyung has been studying medicine in Qing (see chart of relationship between Korea and China at that time) She returns to tell the King all about her time there. It seems King Hyunjong (see chart of Joseon kings) wants the sensible Ji Nyung to spend time with Princess Suk Hwi who right now is having a hissy fit because none of the palace vets know how to treat her kitten. (This is Interesting though – so they have doctors for horses and important animals but not for ‘unimportant animals’ like cats!)
The princess is pleased that Ji Nyung is back. but she’s agitated about her kitten and Ji Nyung suggests they take a walk. They go to an international part of town where there are many immigrants. What a coincidence that Kwanghyun and Ja Bong should be in the exact same place at the same time. Kwanghyun has come to buy medicine from the market. (Don’t tell me we’re going to have another slow motion passing each other moment? There’s a bigger problem now though as they won’t even recognise each other).
Ji Nyung and the princess go out without guard protection
The two ladies end up wandering into a geisha house full of uncouth drinkers. Ji Nyung realises they should probably leave – this is not the place for two nice Joseon ladies – but the princess is feisty and interested to see more. So they stay. At the same time Ja Bong persuades Kwanghyun to go for a drink before they leave the big city and so guess what? – they end up in the geisha house as well.
Kwanghyun is gobsmacked to see two well dressed Joseon ladies in there. And they do look totally out of place quietly eating their food surrounded by raucous drunks. A nearby table of rather seedy looking ‘foreign’ men starts giving them unwanted attention.
Kwanghyun steps in to protect the Joseon ladies from the ‘uncouth foreigners’
The ladies realise that this is their cue to leave, but the men stand in their way. They want to have some ‘fun’. Jin Nyung has some self defence skills but there are two many men now.
Suddenly Kwanghyun leaps to their aid in and there’s a commotion as a fight breaks out – tables upturned. They all have to run for the exit. Kwanghyun takes Ji Nyung’s hand and they run for the door – just as he took her hand and ran in the mountains all those years ago…
Of course they are definitely not going to recognise each other now though as adults. I predicted we would see the changeover from the child actors to adults in episode 4. OK so it was in episode 5. Close.
The contrasts continue between the doctor’s luxurious life at the palace and the lowly vet’s life on the horse ranch. And it feels more unfair since Kwanghyun should be the one at the palace! I thought the child actors did a great job – in this episode I was especially moved when the young Kwanghyun watches the horse slashed with the sword. Also later when the young Kwanghyun tries nervously to insert the acupuncture needle into the injured horse’s leg. I was totally believing it all.
The only thing I am struggling with is the heavy reliance on coincidence in the plot of this drama. Yes I know there is always coincidence and I suppose the characters are living in such different worlds that they need special circumstances to bring them together. But in this episode Injoo turns up at the horse ranch on the exact same day that Myunghwan is there. Then Kwanghyun and Ji Nyung end up in the exact same drinking establishment at the exact same time. Even though this is the capital and there are lots of other places they could have gone to. hmmm. That’s a bit much.