It finally looks like Myunghwan is finished – or is he? Even with the death penalty he seems to lack any regret and manages to escape one last time. But the big problem now is what to do with Jinyung. the miserable officials at court want to see her return to being a slave – that’s the law of the land after all. Very harsh though. The princess is still her ally but the king must decide what to do. But poor old Jinyung accepts the situation with a stiff upper lip.
Myunghwan staggers back into the palace. First he stands alone and remembers his father’s words to him when he first entered the hospital – he told him to forget about his past as a horse doctor as he was destined for better things. (I wonder if his father really thought he would take his words so literally though! He didn’t even go home when his father was dying.) It’s a sad episode because it lingers on the past and what could have been. Myunghwan had choices but he took all the wrong ones.
Sungha rushes over to his father and begs him to leave. It’s dangerous here. What’s he thinking? But Myunghwan seems to be in a daze. Dusik and his guards arrive to arrest him but he asks for a favour – to be allowed to clean up so he can look his best – he is still the head of the hospital, sort of. So Dusik allows it.
Myunghwan tells Kwanghyun he has no regrets
Myunghwan tells Kwanghyun that he has no regrets about what he did and if he had his life over again he wouldn’t change! (Because basically he’s greedy and needs wealth and stuff). But Kwanghyun believes he will regret what he’s done.
Kwanghyun talks to Myunghwan for the last time
Myunghwan is taken away by the guards. And for the first time we see Lord Jung RUNNING. WOW he really must be desperate. 😉 He stops the guards and tries to persuade Myunghwan that everything will be all right. All he has to do is trust him. He will speak to the queen mother and court bla bla bla …. but Myunghwan KNOWS the game is up.
Let’s just go (to prison) together, he says
(since he’s handed over his proof of both their guilt!)
Lord Jung looks shocked and angry. But he’s not giving up YET.
Do you know who I am? he shouts after him!
(So he thinks even written proof is not enough to bring the mighty Dae-gam down.)
BUT then Dusik arrives on the scene and Lord Jung, the minister of defence, and then Doctor Choi are arrested. Myunghwan and the two ministers are tortured. But Myunghwan refuses to change his story: he insists that Lord Jung was aware that he murdered the doctor! But Lord Jung STILL tries to deny it even though the inquisitors have the proof! (Duh! He really is unbelievably arrogant.)
Myunghwan finally tells the truth
The guilty ministers and all medical staff connected with the crimes are exiled, but Myunghwan gets the death penalty. Jinyung wants to see him, but he refuses to let her see him in prison. Inju pays him a last visit – just as she did to Dojun before he was put to death. She is on official work from the hospital and checks Myunghwan’s pulse and will prepare some medicine for him.
Why bother preparing medicine for a dead man, Myunghwan wants to know?
aigoo. But Inju seems so sad even after everything that’s happened. She gives him Dojun’s box of acupuncture needles from Kwanghyun ( I don’t know why Kwanghyun wants to give this away?) After she leaves him, Inju remembers back to the time she visited Dojun for the last time too. The three of them were so close but then everything fell apart
Jinyung watches in tears as Myunghwan and the others do the walk of shame through town.
Even Lord Jung has to finally face reality
But later, Myunghwan asks the guard if he can stop off at his ‘childhood home’ to see it one last time before he dies. How can the guard refuse the request of a dying man? Next thing we know, word spreads that Myunghwan has escaped! Guards chase him but can’t find him.
He’s made his way to Kang Dojun’s grave. He repeats that he has no regrets – because he had no choice but to kill the crown prince etc. But he reveals that he has always felt guilty about what he did to his friend Dojun. So then he takes out Dojun’s acupuncture needles and commits suicide. When they hear where he escaped, Inju and the others guess where he’s gone and rush to the grave. But they are too late as he is already lying dead. (They all seem so shocked. But he WAS going to be killed anyway though!)
Back at court we see what’s happened to Myunghwan’s staff who didn’t get exiled: they’ve been fired or demoted and are struggling to get by!
Jabong and Kibae and the chef go to inspect Kwanghyun’s property. But will he be able to live here knowing that Jinyung used to live here. And now she’s a slave so they can’t even get married …
The king is under pressure to punish Jinyung
So the problem now is what to do with Jinyung. Kwanghyun begs the king to allow her to free her from slavery. But the king says that rules are rules. The princess asks the queen mother for help too but we can already guess that this is a waste of time. The king is under pressure from the officials at court, so he has no choice but to send Jinyung back to being a nobi slave – (so harsh).
Jinyung packs up her stuff at the hospital – she knows she can’t work here anymore. Most of the nurses are nice to her and still call her politely by her old title, agashi. (see how people addressed each other Joseon court here) But one of the nurses asks why she should call Jinyung agashi? Because she’s a slave not a noble lady. Just then the princess walks in and overhears this and the nurse is taken away to be punished for being rude to her friend.
But Jinyung seems ready to say goodbye to the princess as though she knows they can’t be friends anymore. But the princess says that status doesn’t matter – (Really? In Joseon??) She says it’s what’s inside that matters and that she learnt this from Jinyung. (If only that were true!)
The princess begs her mother to help Jinyung
Sungha resigns from his job. (I don’t think he had much choice there) Then while Jinyung is at the hospital, the king’s orders arrive on a scroll to announce that she is to be a nobi again and return to Yangju (where she escaped from as a child slave!) Dressed in her plain nobi clothes she stoically accepts her fate. But then Sungha arrives to step in.
Kwanghyun has had an idea. The king needs a reason to get Jinyung released from slavery, so what if the king freed her father for his service to the country? Then she would be free too. Kwanghyun hurries to see the king …
Poor old Jinyung. It’s pretty harsh to send her back into slavery. But she takes it well, though. We can really see how strict the rules of class structure were in Joseon. Even Jinyung’s strong connections with the royal family mean nothing now that there is proof of her low class!
The Death of Myunghwan
I like the idea of Myunghwan committing suicide with Dojun’s needles by his grave. It’s poetic justice. He caused Dojun to be put to death and now he dies by Dojun’s own needles.
And I think this way also emphasises how Myunghwan has always been in charge of his own fate. He could have made different choices (although he refuses to accept this) but chose to go to the dark side for titles and material gains. Even now when it seems that he will die at the hands of prison guards, he manages to control the situation and die the way he chooses to. Very dramatically.
And by symbolically going to Dojun’s grave to die, Myunghwan can be seen as a more three-dimensional character. He wasn’t just a baddie with no remorse killing people to get what he wanted, he actually carried the guilt of what he did to his friend to his own death.
However, although I like the idea of his death by Dojun’s needles, I felt that Kwanghyun giving Myunghwan the box of needles was very contrived. When he gave it to him I wondered why Kwanghyun would give him his father’s box of needles? I didn’t think this made any sense. But in the death scene I realised why he gave it to him – it was for dramatic purposes!
And in a way Myunghwan is lucky because even though he was so bad, there are still people crying over him at his death – only three people, but three is better than nothing. Remember Guard King’s desperately lonely death in the last episode?