In this episode we hear the rest of the story about Min Se’s troubled past. And it’s pretty grizzly. He has gone from being one of the top royal doctors in the country to a lowly monk determined to cure leprosy and repent of his sins. Meanwhile Do Ji’s mum manages to push Ye Jin out of their home which leaves Do Ji furious.
Still in the past we continue Min Se’s story. As a royal doctor happily married with a young son everything seems to be going well for him until one day his son disappears. Desperately searching for his missing son Min Se comes across a leper’s hut. To his horror he sees his son’s new shoes half buried in the ground in front of the hut, and so assuming that the family have killed his son he flies into a rage, storms into the hut with a pitchfork, and brutally murders the parents and child. 😮
Covered in blood he staggers away in shock over what he’s done. Near the hut he finds another member of the family – a young boy who for some reason is wearing Min Se’s son’s jacket. When Min Se realises he has just killed the boy’s parents and sister, he is full of remorse (even though he thinks the family killed his son) and he decides to adopt the child who is now an orphan.
The boy’s name is Gae Dong, meaning DOG POO. (Yes, you read that right!) but Min Se wants to change his name (understandably) and decides to call him Sanghwa – his son’s name. Unsure how his wife will react to the new child, he takes the boy to meet her. But they find her hanging in her room. Suicide.
Min Se is distraught and feels unable to continue to work at the royal hospital – even though the head doctor wants him to stay. He promises the child’s dead parents that he will dedicate his life to finding a cure for leprosy. And then he takes the boy away into the mountains and they leave their fine yangban life behind.
Min Se kills a family of lepers and takes their surviving son as his own
Back in Sanum, Do Ji is refusing to study or do anything else except look after Da Hee who is sick with a ‘broken heart’. Rumours about them spread around the workers as Do Ji refuses to leave her side and even makes her medicine himself! But his mum is not amused and as soon as Ye Jin recovers she tells her that she is no longer welcome. (She is such a cold, heartless woman). Da Hee arrives at the clinic begging for work telling Dr Yoo’s wife that she will do anything. So she is given the hard work of cleaning and washing blood-stained clothes and sheets in freezing cold water.
Do Ji’s mum pushes Ye Jin to leave
Back in the present, several years have passed since Min Se brought Sanghwa to the lepers temple. But Sanghwa has grown up and developed a grudge against the man who killed his parents. He is an angry young man who hates living as a leper and so one day he runs away from the temple with a young female leper. On the way down the mountain they bump into Ye Jin who is on her way to the temple. She looks worried when she sees them. How are they ever going to cope in the real world? Meanwhile, when Do Ji discovers that Ye Jin has left, he is furious with his mother and to her horror he announces that he will go to the temple and bring Ye Jin back to marry her.
At the temple Heo Jun seems flustered to see Ye Jin but she looks pleased to see him. Dr Ahn announces that he’s going off into the mountain to see if can find any dead bodies frozen on the mountain after the winter. (that he can dissect!) Sanghwa and his girlfriend don’t seem to have any plan on how to survive away from the temple. They go begging for food at a local’s house and get attacked by the frightened owners.
The runaways get into trouble away from the temple
A note at the end of this episode informs us that this leprosy story in the drama is fiction but based on information in the medical book Dong Eui Bo Gam (동의보감 ) written by Heo Jun. It wasn’t until later in 1873 that leprosy became curable.
It’s a grim sight when Min Se staggers out of the lepers’ hut drenched in their blood. But what is also disconcerting is that the only person concerned about his crime is he himself. Nobody else is bothered that he has just murdered three people in cold blood. When Min Se hands in his notice at the royal hospital, the head doctor tries to persuade him to change his mind and is prepared to sweep the murders under the carpet. He matter-of-factly states that it was understandable that Min Se killed the family since they murdered his son. But (unless I missed something) we don’t have any proof that they did murder him. (Although I admit that it’s strange that they have his shoes and jacket.) I’m not sure why the lepers would have killed his son though. This must have been discrimination against lepers at the time. Anyway, while everyone is very understanding about Min Se committing murders I’m sure it would be a totally different story if this were the other way around and it had been the lepers / commoners who had killed a yangban family. At the end of this episode there’s more discrimination when locals freak out at the sight of Sanghwa and his girlfriend. They attack him with pitchforks afraid that Sanghwa is going to take away their children when he is merely begging for food.
A NOTE ON COMMONERS’ NAMES: Gae Dong (Dog Poo)
The leper boy’s name is Gae Dong meaning dog poo! (I’m not making this up) The reason low class people often had ugly names like this was because these kinds of names were thought to bring good luck. It was better to have an ugly name (if you were low class) than a beautiful fancy name. Yikes. I may be common as muck but I still don’t want to be called dog poo.