The fourth and final phase of the drama Dong Yi is all about who will become the future King. So the story centres around the two princes – Jang Ok Jung (JOJ)’s son who is the Crown Prince and Dong Yi’s son, Prince Youn Ing (the future King Yeongjo). JOJ has accepted that her relationship with the King is over and she must live with the humiliation of being demoted from Queen back to Hui Bin, a concubine. So she lives for her son to be King. But his position isn’t stable so JOJ is determined to destroy the competition – DY and her son. DY tries to make peace with JOJ who refuses to trust her and so in the end JOJ is the cause of her own tragic downfall.
King Sukjong meets his son
DY and Geum live outside the palace. DY learns that her son is very intelligent and is well ahead of the other boys in his class at school. She decides to take him out of regular classes as the other boys are already starting to bully him. Geum is desperate to meet his father and so one day sneaks into the palace with the local poor kids who go there for a feast. But he doesn’t find his father and bumps into the Crown Prince, JOJ’s son, instead.
The Crown Prince is nice to him thinking that he is merely one of the poor children who has got lost. But when JOJ turns up she is cold to him and wants the cheeky little low born child beaten up for daring to come near the Crow Prince! Thanks to the Crown Prince Geum is allowed to leave without getting beaten!
Outside the palace again Geum is disappointed that he hasn’t met his father yet. He meets a ‘yangban’ in the village and talks plainly to him since he is a prince and therefore the yangban’s superior. Poor Geum doesn’t realise that the yangban is his father, the King!
King Sukjong tries to impress his son playing ssireum!
It’s cute how the King is always trying to be macho in front of DY and now he does the same in front of his son. Geum is happy to skip school with the yangban (he needs a lesson in not to talk to strangers!) and they end up watching a sireum Korean sumo game in the village. The King ends up in the ring with a huge opponent to impress his son! The chief eunuch looks on in horror as the King gets thrown to the ground. But somehow he manages to win the next round and falls on top of the much bigger man. Geum jumps for joy!
Later DY takes Geum to a scholar who she hopes will teach her son as he can’t study with the other boys. They also want to keep the fact that he’s a child prodigy a secret as this could put him in danger too.
Geum is robust and intelligent unlike the Crown Prince who is a sickly boy and may not be able to have children. JOJ’s mother hears that the King has seen DY and is worried about the Crown Prince’s position so she orders her men to set fire to DY’s house! The men sneak there at night and lock the doors. But the Kings guards are on watch and they save DY and the prince who are inside sleeping.
JOJ’s mother’s plan has backfired because the incident helps the King to bring DY and Geum back to the palace as he points out to his government that it is unsafe for them outside! Also according to Confucian law, since his son is now 7 years old he must come back to the palace and have the education befitting his status. The officials complain but the King is adamant. He has been waiting all this time to bring DY back. JOJ is furious as she watches DY and the prince stroll back in …
Prince Youn Ing tries to persuade an unwilling scholar to become his teacher
Prince Youn Ing is shocked when he realises that the Yangban is really his father. He’s frightened that the King will shout at him for speaking to him so disrespectfully. But all is well and Geum starts getting used to life in the palace. DY is made a level 2 concubine.
DY wants Geum to keep a low profile and tells him to pretend in school that he doesn’t know anything! He doesn’t want to pretend but he does as he is told. JOJ hears that the prince is stupid and she wants the King to see this with his own eyes so she gets him to sit in on the princes’ exams. But her plan backfires because when the officials use DY’s low birth as an excuse to explain his lack of knowledge, Geum can’t control himself and shows off his knowledge instead. The King is amazed and realises that he is a prodigy and wants him to study with the CP! JOJ is furious.
The Queen, who is seriously ill herself now, has discovered that the Crown Prince is sick and so tells a shocked DY that she wants Prince Youn Ing to study with the Crown Prince so that he will also be fit to be King if need be ….
Chun Soo returns to the palace from exile
It’s decided that it wouldn’t be appropriate for Prince Youn Ing to study with the Crown Prince and so he studies with a famous scholar instead. But team JOJ are unsettled by the situation. JOJ’s mother goes to see a shaman. She wants to know the fortune of DY’s son but is told instead that her own family will come to a bloody end. She also tries to frame stupid Oh Ho Yang for the burning down of DY’s house by getting her assassins to hang him with a suicide note confession. But Chun Soo who has been in exile all this time is on his way back to the capital and saves him. DY is overjoyed to see him.
JOJ has realised that her son’s condition is no longer a secret. The Queen orders JOJ to tell the King and accept what he decides to do about the Crown Prince. Of course she doesn’t want to do that. But the next day the Queen collapses and JOJ is plotting to get rid of her.
JOJ’s family call in the evil help of a shaman to finish off the Queen
Team JOJ think that the the heavens are on their side since the Queen is sick. They get the shaman to do some black magic near the Queen’s residence as they want her to die. Then the Crown Prince’s position will be safe. But Lord Jang, who has been suspicious of JOJ’s behaviour for a while, has found the Crown Prince’s nurse and discovers the secret about his health. And he’s furious. He doesn’t want to back the Crown Prince if he’s sick.
Back at the palace Prince Youn Ing is out looking for herbs for the Queen’s medicine when he stumbles over the black magic doll used by the shaman. DY is shocked to see it. Then the Queen dies. Her last words to the King are to protect Prince Youn Ing.
DY mourns the death of Queen Inhyeon
The Queen also asked the King to make DY Queen so that both the princes would be safe. But the Namin join forces with the Soron faction and lobby for JOJ to be Queen since she is the Crown Prince’s son.
Prince Youn Ing and the Crown Prince are becoming friends. They hang out together and study together. The Crown Prince wants to know what is wrong with him so he sneaks to the pharmacy with the prince to find out what herbs are being used in his medicine. The princes then check the medical books and to his horror the Crown Prince finally discovers what his illness is.
DY goes to see JOJ. She wants a truce. She gives her the voodoo doll and promises not to reveal the Crown Prince’s infertility problem to the King. JOJ looks as though she might accept this offer as DY looks sincere. (this is the second point in the drama where JOJ has a chance to turn things around and be good) But her brother persuades her that it is a trap and not to trust DY. And when the King announces that DY will be promoted to a Bin level 1 concubine, (the same level as JOJ) JOJ is afraid that DY could become the next Queen.
JOJ smiles and tells DY that she will accept her offer so that they can all live happily ever after. But as she says these words, Prince Yeon Ing finds a strange book in his school bag. His teacher is shocked when he sees the book which has surely been planted by JHJ. The young prince is going to be in trouble.
Prince Youn Ing begs the Crown Prince to believe that he didn’t steal his books
JOJ confirms to DY that she is NOT going to accept her olive branch. They are enemies and she will do whatever it takes to get rid of DY and her son. Guards storm the Crown Prince’s palace as an ‘intruder’ has stolen some important books only meant for the Crown Prince. The prince was in the Royal Pharmacy at the time of the robbery so he has no alibi as he promised the Crown Prince to keep that a secret. The Crown Prince saves the day by telling the King that he gave the book to the prince. And so all is well.
Ambitious Lord Jang now knows that the Crown Prince is ill and so goes to see DY and tries to join HER side. He thinks they should reveal the Crown Prince’s illness and then maybe her son can become King instead. But she doesn’t want anything to do with that.
The Crown Prince and Prince Youn Ing sneak out of the palace one evening when they hear festival music. It’s coming up to harvest and people are lighting lanterns and making wishes. But the Crown Prince ends up getting arrested for being a thief and dragged away to the police station! The palace is in chaos when they find out that the Crown Prince is missing. Soldiers search for him and DY goes out incognito too, but the Crown Prince is about to be punished for stealing …
The palace is in chaos as the Crown Prince has disappeared
Everyone searches for the Crown Prince. He’s in prison and can’t tell the police who he is although he can hear the royal guards swarming around looking for him. He is worried what will happen when he is discovered. Chun Soo finally finds him after he takes the police on a wild goose chase around the village promising to take the police to his ‘parents’ house’!
JOJ discovers that the princes went out together and blames Prince Youn Ing. When the CP finally returns he is very weak and becomes very ill. His mother is furious and tells the King that the prince is to blame. But the King thinks everyone is overreacting. Boys will be boys. Of course the CP has never done anything like this before. Not until he met DY’s son…
The government – Namin and Soron factions lobby for DY and the prince to be exiled from the palace for putting the CP’s life in danger. But when the Crown Prince gets better he reveals to his mother that he knows what his illness is. He feels guilty for getting special treatment when he isn’t worthy of his position. He eventually goes to the King to tell him he is sick.
King Sukjong hears that during the palace fire Dong Yi has been seriously wounded
The king is furious that JOJ has kept their son’s illness a secret for so long. Lord Jang makes sure that the officials hear about the Crown Prince’s illness too so they stop supporting JOJ. If the Crown Prince will change there’s no point backing her. It’s a cold palace.
None of the officials back JOJ anymore and the Crown Prince may not be so for much longer. Her mother is arrested for attempting to kill DY and the prince. All JOJ has left is revenge. She wants DY and the prince dead. So she tells her brother to start a big palace fire. Then the palace will be in chaos as local citizens will be called to come and help put out the fire. At that time the assassins can come in and kill DY and the prince.
The fire is in the Crown Prince’s residence so while everyone including DY are worried about finding the prince, the assassins sneak in. The assassins find DY’s residence and DY throws herself over her son to protect him. But she collapses as the sword comes down on her.
Jang Hee Jae and his mother and accomplices are tortured
Just as the assassins attack the prince and DY, Chun Soo arrives just in time having noticed the suspicious group of men entering the palace earlier. DY is seriously injured and losing blood and the doctors are called. Chun Soo rushes off to catch the assassins who race to get out of the palace. But the soldiers have already locked the gates and the men are arrested not even having time to commit suicide by swallowing the deadly pills they are to take if captured. Soon it’s revealed that the men were ordered to kill DY and the prince by JHJ and guards arrive at JHJ’s residence to arrest him.
JHJ and Lady Yoon are tortured but they refuse to say that JOJ was involved in their crimes. JOJ arrives and is horrified to see the state of her family. They remain loyal to each other. She screams at Chief Seo but the King has arrived and she is silenced. Later she is arrested too.
DY is recovering from her injury but goes to see JOJ. She asks why JOJ couldn’t trust her. JOJ refuses to repent and blames politics and fate for the situation, not herself. DY says she made the choices and it didn’t have to end this way.
The King takes time to decide how to punish JOJ. It’s a sensitive issue because she is the Crown Prince’s mother. The earlier King Yeonsan never got over the death of his mother (the king ordered her to drink poison) and became a tyrant king. If the Crown Prince is psychologically scarred over this it could be Yeonsan all over again.
So the King tries to get JOJ to commit suicide! She refuses to make it so easy. She wants him to suffer too. She says her only crime was loving him so she must die by his hand. The King has no choice but to sentence her to death by poison. Her mother and brother also get the death penalty.
Jang Ok Jung cries as she finally realises this is the end
The Crown Prince is devastated that his mother is going to die and kneels outside the King’s room begging him to change his mind, refusing to eat for days.The King reveals that he never wanted to execute JOJ but since she showed no remorse he had no choice.
Finally on the day of her execution JOJ begs DY to promise to protect the Crown Prince. But JOJ is not going to die quietly. Her last request to the King is that he watch her die. Before she takes her final bow and drinks the poison, she learns that her mother and brother have been taken away in exile where they will also be executed. They were taken away in wooden cells and Oh Tae Poon’s wife stands by the road and encourages everyone to throw rocks at them as they go by.
The King weeps as JOJ drinks the poison. Afterwards the Crown Prince is angry and upset. The Noron faction back DY and want her to be Queen. And her son to become CP! DY does not want to discuss this. She tells the King that JOJ’s ambition was the cause of all the trouble so the King makes a law that forbids concubines from becoming Queen.
The new Queen arrives. Although Prince Youn Ing is still only young the new Queen decides he must marry. She obviously wants DY and the prince out of the palace because palace rules state that married princes (except the Crown Prince) must leave the palace.
King Sukjong’s third and final queen, Queen Inwon
DY is shocked that her son must marry so soon but manages to get permission to choose his bride rather than the Queen. She refuses all the suiters from noble Soron families. Nobody can believe it. And then she says she has someone in mind. But he is a scholar with no interest in politics.
Everyone laughs when they hear that she has chosen someone that has no power in politics. But there is a twist. The home of the scholar has ‘wang gi’ royal energy. Previous kings have stayed or lived at his house. That means that this could sway public opinion that the prince should also become king.
The Soron are worried about this and so they have to think that maybe the prince shouldn’t leave the palace after all! And then Chun Soo has been digging into Lord Jang’s past and finds that he’s been doing some dodgy stuff. So to stop this getting revealed Lord Jang has to encourage this marriage! The wedding of the two children goes ahead.
King Sukjong contemplates abdicating
The King is spending time alone deep in thought. Finally he announces that DY is to live outside the palace. The Soron faction are thrilled, others are shocked. But nobody knows that he plans to abdicate and live with DY – that way the Crown Prince can become King and Prince Youn Ing can become Crown Prince and both princes will be safe. He arranges to meet the Qing envoys outside the palace to tell them.
But while he’s away Lord Jang discovers what’s going on. The Soron faction don’t want a lowborn prince to become King in the future. So Lord Jang pushes the Soron leader to stop the King abdicating. Lord Jang (who is only worried about his own power) doesn’t want DY to become the Queen Mother since she would never support him.
Lord Jang is desperate to get rid of DY and her son, so while the King is away and security is low in the palace he plans to frame her. First he gets himself put in charge of the army so now Chun Soo and Chief Seo are powerless to do anything!
Lord Jang takes over the Royal Guards and controls the palace
Lord Jang is now in charge of all the soldiers except the Royal Guards but there are only about 20 left as most have gone with the King. Chun Soo is worried about what to do. DY also realises that he’s up to something. He seems to have the Queen wrapped around his little finger and she is eager to believe that DY is bad. He persuades her to have DY move to her new residence now while the King is away.
DY’s supporters think Lord Jang is going to attack and kill DY and her son as they leave the palace. But no, it’s more sophisticated than that -he is going to frame DY for the attempted murder of the Crown Prince since he is coincidently also travelling the same road outside the palace. The Crown Prince’s palanquin and entourage are attacked but ‘luckily’ the Crown Prince is not harmed. Chun Soo and his men are at the scene (waiting to protect DY) and are arrested.
Since the King is away, the Queen is in charge and has to issue an emergency decree to have DY and all those involved in the conspiracy arrested. DY refuses to leave her quarters and guards surround her residence ready to arrest her.
Lord Jang rocks up looking very smug indeed. He reckons she regrets refusing to join with him. But now for the twist. The guards are NOT there to arrest DY, they are there to arrest Lord Jang. The Queen was not so gullible after all and discovered what Lord Jang was up to.
Lord Jang is arrested and executed for treason
The Soron are in a panic as Lord Jang is about to be interrogated. We discover that DY told the Queen about the king’s abdication and persuaded her that it was Lord Jang who was the baddie and not herself.
DY has also sent word to the King who realises what’s going on. Since his army is already out of the palace, they secretly find and follow Lord Jang’s men and catch them trying to pay off merchants involved in the fake assassination attempt. Lord Jang is beheaded and his head displayed on the palace gates. His cronies are exiled and executed.
But everyone is against the king abdicating. In the end the Queen decides to adopt Prince Youn Ing. That way he will be safe and a legitimate heir to the throne. DY decides that she must leave the palace.
EPISODE 60 FINAL
Dong Yi moves out of the palace but continues her good work and they live happily ever after
And so for the final episode. DY has left the palace but she is busier than ever. She has set up her own citizen’s advice bureau and is helping the lowborn who have problems with corrupt yangban! Sometimes the King joins her and one night they out and we have the same fun scene when she steps on his back to get over a wall! The only difference is that now she KNOWS she’s stepping on the King!
DY discovers that the Finance minister and police chief are involved in corruption – allowing yangban to have twice as many slaves and charge them double tax. They’ve even framed a lowborn for the murder of an official. But thanks to her investigation he is released and the baddies are caught.
Years later… The King and DY are both dead and King Yeongjo is visiting his mother’s (Dong Yi) grave with Chun Soo. He is determined to be a good king. A young lowborn girl (played by the same actress as DY as a child) is picking caterpillars from the grave. She wants to protect the grave as she’s heard about all the good work that DY was able to do even though she came from the lowest class. Chun Soo tells the little girl – whose name is Dong Yi – that she could be a great person too when she gets older. And so for the moral of the story – It’s not class that matters, it’s what’s in your heart.
I liked this final episode particularly the scene when Dong Yi climbs onto the king’s back to climb over the wall. Their relationship has remained relaxed even though he’s the king. So cute. It’s nice to think that Dong Yi and the king continue their close and trusting relationship until the end. Historically, we don’t know if that was really the case. But let’s not be cynical! I feel bad for Chun Soo though – he spent his whole life protecting Dong Yi, never having a family of his own, and then he outlives her and now lives to protect her son, King Yeongjo.