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Ruler–Master of the Mask: Episodes 11-12

Using his position and new connections, Sun must figure out his enemies’ plans in order to protect the nation and get one step closer to bringing down Pyunsoohwe. Along the way, he runs into some familiar faces from his past, but will these old relationships bring joy or destruction to our prince as he continues his quest to reclaim the throne?

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

Sun spars with Chung-woon, putting on an impressive display of swordsmanship, but their training is put to a halt when a messenger arrives. Sun learns about the Water Bureau’s recent actions concerning their loan collections and finds Dae-mok’s aggressive tactics to be suspicious. Chung-woon mentions the recent information they received about Dae-mok storing something, so they go spy on Dae-mok’s son and find him with the chief of the Water Bureau in a room filled with boxes of copper.

A commotion from nearby disrupts their spying, and when Sun goes to check it out, he spots Ga-eun among the captured peddlers. The chief of the Water Bureau and Dae-mok’s son come out, and the peddlers explain that they were only passing by. Ga-eun recognizes the chief and tries to hide her face, but that only makes him notice her more.

The chief also recognizes Ga-eun, so when Dae-mok’s son warns him to keep this place hidden, the chief reassures him that no one will miss a criminal’s daughter. He orders his men to kill the captives, but Sun and Chung-woon swoop in to save them.

As they take down the guards, the chief of the Water Bureau tries to slyly draw his weapon, but Ga-eun picks up an abandoned sword and brings it up to his neck. However, the chief easily disarms her, but luckily Sun intervenes and stops the chief once again.

They use this moment to escape, but Ga-eun isn’t able to outrun their pursuers with her bloody foot. Just as the guards reach her, Sun and Chung-woon come galloping on horseback, and Sun holds out his hand to Ga-eun while Chung-woon keeps their pursuers at bay.

Ga-eun gets on Sun’s horse, but before they can escape, their pursuers bombard them with arrows. Sun shields Ga-eun with his body, and Chung-woon cuts down the arrows that fly their way. When none of the arrows make contact, the chief grumbles that his men are idiots. Ha!

As Sun and Ga-eun ride away to safety, Sun’s mask falls off, and Ga-eun gasps. Once they lose their pursuers, Sun lets Ga-eun down, and she asks if he’s “Chun-soo.” Sun simply denies it and rides off.

Sun rides into the peddlers’ town, where everyone waits for his return and greets him as their leader. He laughs at their welcoming and tells his old boss that this feels awkward, and the boss agrees.

During a meeting, Sun orders the main heads of the peddlers to stop using the current currency, and instead, he wants them to only barter for cotton, gold, and silver for the time being. He then asks his old boss about the circulation of copper, but Boss tells him that copper hasn’t been used in the market for years. In fact, most of the copper is imported from Japan, but the Trading Bureau keeps quiet about the issue for some reason.

Ga-eun finally arrives at the peddlers’ town and asks a townsperson if their leader is here. He tells her that the leader is in a meeting, so Ga-eun waits outside. She’s surprised when Sun steps out of the building, with others addressing him as their leader. She asks him again if he really isn’t Chun-soo, suspecting that he’s lying about his identity because of her letter. However, Sun vehemently denies it.

He turns to go, only to come back and lead her to another room. Having noticed her bloody foot, he sits Ga-eun down and replaces her straw sandal with a sturdier shoe. He tells her that he’ll still help her even if he isn’t Chun-soo, and in the back, Chung-woon walks in and silently watches.

In the evening, Sun stands outside lost in thought until Chung-woon comes and joins him. Sun explains that he feels disappointed even though he was the one who left her and lied about his identity. This surprises Chung-woon, since he expected the prince to feel relieved about keeping his identity a secret. Sardonically, Sun says that he does feel relieved.

Also unable to fall asleep, Ga-eun walks outside, thinking back to her encounter with Sun. She gets distracted by a firefly, and follows it through the town until she ends up in front of Sun. She stares at him while he looks at the old necklace he once gave her, and as he turns to leave, he finally notices her standing there.

He notes how she’s staring at him again, and asks if this “Chun-soo” person was her first love. She says he is, and admits that every time Sun tells her that he isn’t that person, her heart hurts. She asks if Sun will be heading into town tomorrow, and when he confirms it, she expresses her wish to accompany him.

Sun rejects the idea since it would be better for her to come slowly, but Ga-eun is set on following him to witness his problem-solving skills firsthand. She turns away while Sun is still talking, and he can’t help but smile, noting how Ga-eun is still as stubborn as ever.

A minister visits the queen in the night to talk about the current king and his passiveness when it comes to any orders related to the Water Bureau. The queen says that it would have been better if the king opened his eyes to politics by himself, but she agrees to talk to him.

Faithfully acting out the role of the puppet king, Lee Sun sits on the throne and automatically approves any new decree if the scroll has a marking from Pyunsoohwe. However, he suddenly stops himself when one of the orders asks for the execution of commoners who stole from the Water Bureau. It reminds him of his father, and he yells—authoritatively and with great conviction—at the ministers for only caring about the Water Bureau rather than the people.

Lee Sun meets with the queen, and to his surprise, she praises his actions today. She reminds him that the king must be strong in order to properly run the nation, and she tells him to continue ruling as a dignified king. Despite the praise, Lee Sun nervously avoids her eyes, unable to respond.

After his meeting with the queen, Lee Sun is led to Dae-mok, who asks him if saving those people was worth his own life. Lee Sun immediately apologizes for his actions and grabs his chest in pain as the poison takes action. Dae-mok warns him that he can be easily replaced, and places the vial containing Lee Sun’s lifesaving poison on the floor. He then kicks it to the side and makes Lee Sun crawl to the vial, reminding him of his place.

Dae-mok asks his son about Hwa-goon, but his son tells him that she won’t be coming today either, which frustrates her grandfather since he barely sees her once a month. Heedless, his son starts to praise Hwa-goon for successfully managing her own merchant group, and Dae-mok stares at him with disgust.

Elsewhere, Hwa-goon barters with a Japanese merchant and manages a successful deal. The merchant compliments her magnanimity, but once he leaves, she looks out towards the ocean with a downcast face.

Ga-eun rides with Sun on his horse to the town, complaining about their method of travel. He reminds her that she chose to come along against his advice, and Ga-eun questions all the rumors about his valiant character. She mockingly asks if he’s seeking fame, and Sun admits that he is, because he needs his reputation to reach his friend beyond the palace walls.

Unfortunately, that friend currently stands at the edge of a cliff as he slowly removes his mask. Closing his eyes, Lee Sun takes a step forward toward suicide, but a hand grabs him from behind, pulling him to safety. He yells at the guard who saved his life, accusing him of being a spy, but the guard explains that he’s only here to thank the king.

Earlier today, the guard explains, the king saved his father who was among those listed to die, and the guard’s gratitude weighs heavily on Lee Sun’s heart. He’s surprised that someone like him could have saved a life, but he still berates himself, since Prince Sun would have been a much better king than him.

Back in the village, everyone worries about not having enough money to pay back their debt, and Lee Sun’s mother tells everyone to wait until Ga-eun’s return. Meanwhile, Sun arrives in time to attend a gathering of wealthy merchants, and Ga-eun is shocked that he came to meet wealthy merchants.

She wants his help to solve the problem for tradespeople, not the wealthy merchants who she thinks can find some way to survive on their own, but Sun tells her that he isn’t a king or a powerful person. He asks how, then, does she expect him to solve this problem?

Hwa-goon leads the merchant meeting, and comes up with a plan to pay back their debt to the Water Bureau. She tells them to stop dealing with the Water Bureau for now, but a familiar voice asks if that plan will truly avert the crisis. Sun strolls into the room, and as he marches up to Hwa-goon, she stares in disbelief at seeing the prince alive and well.

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

One of the merchants recognizes Sun as the peddlers’ leader and asks why he’s here all of a sudden. Sun says that he heard rumors of the merchants falling apart and now sees that those rumors were true. He wonders if the merchants have really overcome this ordeal when they haven’t even figured out the Water Bureau’s schemes.

When Hwa-goon asks if he knows their plans, Sun begins to brag about his recent accomplishment of capturing a vicious villain and saving a merchant. He recalls the merchant’s tale, and describes how the vicious villain came into a market and killed a poor merchant for not paying him. After that, all the other merchants became afraid of the villain and began to pay him money. However, soon the merchant became the victim to the villain and wondered what would have happened if they stopped the villain from the beginning.

Addressing the merchants in the room, Sun asks how they’re any different from the ones in his story and asks them if they truly believe the crisis has been averted. He advises the merchants to lend money out to the tradespeople instead of paying the Water Bureau if they want to save themselves from the same fate later.

Holding back her emotions, Hwa-goon reminds Sun that they are business people and asks what they gain from his plan. Sun promises to distribute the merchants’ supply of licorice throughout the country, and the merchants decide to vote on the matter.

Ga-eun returns to the village, and everyone waits expectantly for the news. Breaking into a smile, Ga-eun declares that everything has been solved since the merchants have agreed to loan the tradespeople money to pay back their debts.

Rewinding back to the meeting, Hwa-goon added another condition to their deal: Sun must discover why the Water Bureau is collecting money. He agreed to the new stipulation, and at the end of the meeting, Ga-eun thanked Sun for helping the villagers. However, he rejected her thanks since he did not act on their behalf. Hwa-goon watched the entire exchange, looking troubled (and jealous).

Hwa-goon stares out at a pond, and Gon magically appears behind her. She says that she knew the prince was alive and that he would meet her again, and orders Gon to find out more about Sun. He wonders why she isn’t chasing after him, but she expresses her fears of losing him again if she gets too greedy.

As promised, the villagers pay back their debt to the Water Bureau thanks to Sun’s plan, and all the money is locked inside chests for storage. In the marketplace, Moo-ha visits Ga-eun to deliver good news: After all these years, he’s finally been able to get her a meeting with the royal physician.

Ga-eun goes to the palace, but before going in, she vows to figure out the reason behind her father’s death. Her meeting with the royal physician goes well, and he hands her a list of medicinal herbs he needs for next time.

As Ga-eun leaves the palace, she notices the greenhouse, which sparks her memory of Consort Lee and the mission she gave her to find the crock inside. However, before Ga-eun can get closer, the king and his entourage arrive, and Ga-eun stares angrily at the man she assumes killed her father before he walks into the greenhouse.

In the safety of the greenhouse, Lee Sun talks with his guard without his mask and learns that Ga-eun has been taking care of his mother and sister. When his guard suggests meeting his family, Lee Sun rejects the idea because Dae-mok mustn’t know about them. Instead, he asks his guard to watch over Ga-eun, since he’s the only one he can ask.

Meanwhile, the chief of the Water Bureau reports to Dae-mok about the leader of the peddlers and how he was able to negotiate with the merchants to pay for the tradespeople’s debts. When Dae-mok hears that the peddlers chose this leader, he demands to know more information about this man.

Sun turns to Woo Bo for advice, and the old scholar informs Sun that Dae-mok must be after the authority to print money. The pieces start to fall in place for Sun, and he goes to meet Hwa-goon to ask about the dwindling supply of copper.

Though Hwa-goon doesn’t know why, she says that she can introduce him to a Japanese merchant who may have the answers he seeks. However, the merchant is currently at the Trade Bureau, so Sun asks if she would be willing to write him a letter. Hwa-goon offers him a translator instead, and Sun happily accepts.

Hwa-goon continues to smile at Sun, which unnerves him, and she asks if he doesn’t remember her. Surprised, Sun wonders if she knows who he is, so Hwa-goon repeats what she told him years ago: “You once saved my life.” The words trigger his memory, and Sun even recalls her name.

Woo Bo confronts Moo-ha as he leaves work to ask him to join Sun on his trip to the Trade Bureau. Woo Bo and Moo-ha get roaring drunk, and Woo Bo tells the younger man to use this opportunity to get promoted to a high official position. Moo-ha doesn’t believe Woo Bo’s promises, but when Woo Bo says Moo-ha could become a court official, the possibility piques his interest.

Chung-woon takes out a contract, and Sun explains that Moo-ha only has to sign. Though drunk, Moo-ha reads the contract, which says he’ll get promoted if he retrieves copper, but if he doesn’t, then he’s responsible for buying Woo Bo drinks for the rest of his life. Ha!

Moo-ha drunkenly signs the contract, so Chung-woon carries him on his back as they make their way to the boat. On the dock, Hwa-goon runs up to Sun, much to his surprise, and she explains that she’s the translator. They board the ship, and as they sail, Sun gives his outer garment to Hwa-goon when she’s cold. This only makes her fall in love with him even more, and her behavior doesn’t go unnoticed by Chung-woon.

After they arrive at the bureau, Chung-woon gathers information and reports to the group that pirates are raiding ships with copper. Moo-ha decides to leave after hearing about pirates, but gawks when a beautiful gisaeng walks up the stairs and begins to sing while playing the gayageum. Hwa-goon informs the group that the woman is MAE-CHANG, and Moo-ha grasps Sun’s hand to thank him for bringing him here.

Hwa-goon meets with the Japanese merchant and learns that the pirate attacks may be a fabrication. Instead of seeking revenge, the ship owners are freely spending money, which seems strange if they were really plundered by pirates.

While Sun waits for Hwa-goon’s return, he sees Dae-mok’s son on the street, and is able to pull Hwa-goon aside before she runs into him. Hiding around the corner, he points out Dae-mok’s son (aka her father) to her, and explains his connection to Pyunsoohwe. He describes the group as a dark shadow harming the country, and resolves himself to figuring out why Dae-mok’s son is here.

That night, someone sneaks into Dae-mok’s son’s room and steals a couple of items, including something that looks like a map. Suddenly, the doors open, and Sun sneaks in to do some stealing of his own.

The two thieves meet eyes and start to fight as Dae-mok’s son continues to sleep a few feet away. They seem evenly matched as Sun blocks the spy’s attacks but is also unable to land any of his own blows. As the two lock swords, Sun notices the bracelet on his enemy; the same one the gisaeng Mae-chang wore before.

 
COMMENTS

These episodes show Sun after the time skip with his improved swordsmanship (which is impressive) and his new look (which is also nice). In some ways, he still feels like the same person from before. He continues to be smart and loyal to those around him. In addition, Sun has kept his ideals and has earned his title without compromising them. On the other hand, it does seem like he has shed some of his naivety, and has learned how to leverage his own power and status to create proper negotiations and plans. In addition, he carries himself as a leader now, and not just as a prince.

On the other hand, I don’t quite understand Sun’s insistence on keeping Ga-eun at a distance. It does seem like the letter and his own guilt are the reasons behind his behavior, but I’m not quite convinced that those are good enough excuses for his actions. He obviously still has feelings for Ga-eun, as displayed by his confession to Chung-woon that he felt disappointed by Ga-eun not knowing him, but I still don’t see why he can’t tell her the truth (at least about being Chun-soo) rather than make them both wallow in sadness and regret.

It seems like a cheap trick to continue the angst between the two characters, and I would rather see actual conflict between them if the writer wishes to keep them apart. Granted, I’m mostly indifferent by this mini-plot point because this just feels like a small pause, and I’m not quite invested in their relationship at the moment. They are definitely adorable together, but initial attraction and the idea of first love can only keep my interest for so long. The show still has to develop Ga-eun’s character more, and in a way, I want the characters to fall in love again.

Hwa-goon is definitely an interesting character, but I’m not sure how I feel about her. I agree with a lot of the criticism lodged against Yoon So-hee’s acting, and for the most part, I just considered Hwa-goon to be a slightly unhinged character, which helped explain her behavior (and the acting) for me. However, after the time skip, she seems much more mellow, and once again, I’m left on the fence. On paper, there are some interesting components to Hwa-goon. She’s the granddaughter of Dae-mok, possesses remarkable fighting skills, speaks multiple languages, and successfully manages the merchant group. It’s just that I still don’t understand her deep obsession with Sun.

In the case of Ga-eun, I can see how they fell in love because of their initial attraction, but for Hwa-goon, it’s not love, but this crazed fixation on the prince. While she says that he saved her life, I doubt Hwa-goon would have actually died if Sun didn’t intervene back then, so I don’t understand why someone like her would be willing to throw everything away for the prince. Maybe Hwa-goon secretly wants to be a good person and is attracted to the prince’s good nature. More likely, she’s just a crazy person. Either way, it looks like Hwa-goon will continue to be an important character in Sun’s quest for the throne, and I’ve resolved myself to just go with the flow when it comes to her.

In general, Dae-mok is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters to watch because he makes me feel strong emotions during his scenes (can’t wait to see his demise), and Yoo Seung-ho is gorgeous with his new hair. I may have one too many photos of him during the horseback riding scene, and I could relate whenever Ga-eun (or even Hwa-goon) kept staring at his face. Despite some plot holes and certain head-scratching moments (How did those two peddlers outrun the guards when they split with Ga-eun? How can Lee Sun walk in the woods alone when he’s the king?), Ruler continues to be an entertaining watch, and I look forward to see our peddler king rise to the throne and become the king of Joseon.

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I don't understand why the manufactured angst has to exist. Why doesn't the CP acknowledge GE? Why does he keep her at a distance? I don't think his guilt or the letter is the reason for his actions. He even acknowledges HG.

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I also scratch my head hard at that part. It looks like it's just there for the sake of angst. It doesn't look like he's upset because she rejected him with the letter, and it seems even more unlikely that any danger would come to her with him being the reason because apart from his personal bodyguard, her father, Lee Sun and Woo Bo, no one else knows his true identity. Obviously none of them pose a threat to her now to guarantee him feigning ignorance.

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I think he keeps her at a distance because his plans will put her in danger. Other people don't know who he is, but DM does. If he finds that GE is linked to the prince, she will not be safe for long.

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Oh, thanks for the explanation. This makes a lot of sense to me.

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especially when you consider GE saying that she misses him so much

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I'm guessing its one of those 'if you're close to me, you will be in danger' kinda thing. Esp after everyone involved with CP got killed, he wants to protect GE by keeping her away. Not that I like this drama trope....

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Not 100% sure, but personally, I think it is because she said he reminded her of her dead dad, and so the sight of him brought her pain and she didn't want to see him anymore. Imo, he's trying to protect her from being reminded of that by pretending he's not same dude. Of course, my theory does have holes in it, but maybe he's assuming HG and GE will never ever meet or something???

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the sight of him reminds GE of her dad and makes her sad, so he didn't want to reveal himself as Chunsoo, but it didn't make any sense since she already recognized him and even he didn't admit he was Chunsoo, she didn't buy any of his failed lie.

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Love can be both strenght and weakness,, if CP keep GE near him it wont be easy to fulfill his duties

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Maybe he's scared as to what ga eun would think once he tells her he's the real cp..

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Of course becoz he felt guilty and be too ashamed to face her (I've posted my analysis on this in my other comment here). Then again, eventhough I fully understand CP's reason, I agree that the execution could be better. The drama could show him being shocked after his face was revealed, in order for us to understand that he feared her and too ashame to meet her. That could give a better effect on how guilty he was

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i feel like hwa goon should have been the female lead played by KSY, that way there would have been a better reason to give the romance believable angst and conflict without it seeming contrived. it would kinda be like romeo and juliet, a girl who comes from a ruthless family bent on killing the prince and taking control and the boy who's family and friends were killed by her family,not a win win situation for either of them and the decisions they have to make plus she would have a moral dilemma and we would get lots of KSY x YSH interactions. it could have been like what was said here, she would have been attracted by his ideals and acts of kindness and heroism over the course of some episodes. right now im a bit dissapointed with the romance and KSY character. im gonna keep watching i wanna see if things will change.

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I am resigned to YSH playing the role of HG, though I secretly hope she will improve her acting skills in terms of her expressions and speech once she gets into the groove of acting in this show.

I am not sure if KSY would do better had she taken the role of HG, but right now, her character is so bland that she is unable to elevate it even if she tries to. Hopefully, there would be more development of her character in the future episodes, especially if she is gunning for revenge on the CP.

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iv seen people say YSH has gotten better slightly. KSY is definitely the better actress then YSH and maybe we could have seen more of her capabilites if she play hwa goon or if GE was more layered/was more of a meaty role. if she is gunning for revenge then that means she will go after peasant sun. its been 5 yrs i wonder what will set her off on the path of revenge unless she has been planning it for the last 5 years and thats why she wanted to enter the palace or it could just be she wanted to get into the greenhouse. guess we will have to see, i really hope she gets more to do

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Oh it's KSH not KSY please. I was wondering who is KSY 0.0

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In the heat of my emotions I often make that mistake, so I completely understand the OP XD

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I'm waiting for this. She's so calm and collected. Not that I hate characters like that. There are many calm characters that shine when developed well. But Ga-eun is just there, existing. I'm running out of patience and want to see her in action already.

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I also think Ga Eun still wishes to take revenge, hence her wanting to enter the palace. Why does it take that much time? Well maybe because to enter the palace she had to wait for 5 years (I guess that was the necessary time to make Sun a better hero) so she couldn't do what she planned. I think (or rather hope) that we will at least know more about her plan for revenge.

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Out of the plot holes out there, this one still makes sense. She is waiting for 5 years because the Dad's underling just gave her an answer, saying,"You asked this years ago, but I'm only able to give answers today". So, it's not becoz she decided to wait for that long, but becoz she just got the chance.

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I started watching for Kim So-hyun but It's good to see the other actors improve too especially our female actors who often get the short end of the stick.
I hate reviews that often praised the male lead as carrying the show after the "first" episode.
Well no duh...they get most of the screen time and attention right off the bat.

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I started this for her too, I don't see how YSH is carrying the show as many are saying either, everyone is good except Yeon Soo Hee, but the show is a mess it's the writer fault, i am hanging there for KSH.

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I think Hwa Goon was meant to be tragic heroine/second lead material. But, I don't really know whether it's written or acted poorly or both.

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I think she will die in the end, protecting her 'prince'.

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Hwa Goon is cruel by birth. She ordered her minions to arrest peasant Lee Sun's father, calmly watching his hand to be to be cut off just to make the Crown prince to show off. Yes, she is intelligent, good at trading, masters Japanese language, but she is definitely a big no to the crown prince. He deserves someone who is ood natured and positive like Ga Eun.

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as thankful as I am to HG for helping the CP, I have never forgotten this side of HG. But sometimes I think that maybe they were all young and foolish at that time. I still hope that her character will develop.

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The point about Juliet's (a Capulet) love for Romeo (a Montague) was that it was tragic because the two families were enemies. There was never any prospect Juliet would do Romeo harm and her love for him was such finding him dead on awaking from her drug induced 'sleep' she kills herself to 'be with him'. So any parallel between HG and CP exists only in so far as the two families are enemies. Love at first sight is not a rational process, though it can be one sided, and that is what we see in HG. I believe that, though spoilt, she is intrinsically a good person who understands that her grandfather has an evil streak and as head of Pyunsoohwe he is subverting the Crown and ultimately the people. She is pivotal to the CP understanding the aims of DM and neutralising them. She is serious about the CP and has matured enough not to act impulsively showing her feelings for him (fears of losing him again if she gets too greedy.) I think CP is keeping GE distant to protect her and because now is not the time for romance but serious endeavour.

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I have to say I disagree with you that HG sees her grandfather's evilness. I don't really believe she cares much for the general people of Joseon. She swears him off because he ordered the death of her love. To her, he betrayed her and she no longer sees him because she is angry. I think she is a good person under it all. But she is blinded because she does not understand those beneath her. So far her actions have completely been motivated by the CP. I think this is the first time we see her somewhat understand that Pyunsoo group (her grandfather and father) lie behind the issues that everyone is facing.

I wish that they'd turned her character into a redeemable part for KSH. GE hasn't done much for me so far. But I agree with many that we haven't seen her start to enact her revenge. She's been waiting for her father's underling to get her into the palace for five years. I think we'll see her return and get the crock eventually. She's been bidding her time, helping the village grow. I can't wait to see what she gets up to and be someone more interesting than just having a good heart that attracts the CP.

Personally I haven't had an issue with YSH's acting. I think she's been fun and interesting. And I loved her scene when she's yelling at DM as he's burying the CP.

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Waiting this ep recap. Prince sun is so handsome with new hair

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Yes! I said this in the last episode recap, and I will say this once again. I kept replaying the CP's scenes because I want to look at his new hairstyle again. Hahah

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he looks so good with long flowing hair

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By the time I finish typing this will I be the first comment. Absolutely, loving YSH new mane of glory. He is really one of a gem among the young actors. Cannot say it enough but I do want Kim So hyun's Ga Eun character to have a more meaningful role or characterization in the upcoming episodes.

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Did Crown Prince finally use a new name? Or people just called him "Peddler's Leader?"

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I didn't catch his name, if he has one. They usually refer to him as chief peddler or something along that line.

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When he was first assigned to be a Peddler by Woo Bo, he told other Peddlers that he didn't have a name, so they initially called him "Burden". But I guess it changed to "Chief" now. :)

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Isn't it too convenient that HG ended up leader of the wealthy merchants?? I feel like we were supposed to believe that she got there without Pyunsoohwe's help (based on Daemok and his son's conversation), but I don't see her motives/didn't see any interest in this 5 years ago. Maybe it's to put her in direct competition with GE (GE with poor tradespeople, HG with wealthy merchants)...

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Frankly, I thought she has what it takes to be the leader of the wealthy merchants. She has the right connections (her grandfather and the Pyunsoohwe group), she is wealthy by virtue of her family's wealth, and she has the right amount of ruthlessness and wit (orchestrating the execution of the fake CP's father just to see her beloved). She is also a master of languages, which is necessary and important when it comes to trading with other merchants.

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I agree, but I also agree with Shan is her motive was not explored properly. The thing we all remember the most about her is her obsession with the CP and becoming his wife, not her desire to take over her grandpa's group, simply because it hasn't been mentioned once afair

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*agree with Shan that*

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i think the writter did a poor jo at letting us see how these characters gained their power......thats why i say the writting is lazy its like these characters have just have thingss handled to them ..u just dont see the struggle when its not shown to u

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If it's showing all these it's definetly going to be more than 40 episodes drama.

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Agree!
The writers seemed to have a lot of stories in their minds, and they skipped the details so that they could jump into the main arc. We have 5/10-11 episodes of introduction/background story, while the main arc(5 years layer) starts at epi 6/11-12. Still, those 5 episodes couldnt cover the details needed to support the main arc. So they just jumped to the most important scenes

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I wonder how many people knows that Lee Sun is the fake king in the palace.. I am surprised that Lee Sun was talking to a guard without a mask and talking about his real family on the top of that. I am even more surprised that the guard seems to still fully respect Lee Sun as a king despite knowing that he is from a humble family... Can someone please explain to clear up my confusion??

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I am also surprised at the scene. Why doesn't the guard confused and questioning why he is talking about another family of his when his has already been killed in a prior episode? Maybe that particular guard is his confidante or something? After all, it has been five years, and there must be some people the fake CP has grown to trust implicitly.

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Just wondering.. is he the same guard that thanked LS for saving his dad from the Water Bureau? I couldn't really tell for sure.

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Yeah, I am pretty sure he is the same guard and they bounded over the fact that Lee Sun saved his father. I think in the guard's eyes he is the real king.

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I think he is the same guard that was thankful to Lee Sun for saving his father when he disapproved the deaths of the prisoners of the Water Bureau.
He seems suspicious though and may just be a mole of the Pyunsoohwe Group. Hopefully i am proven wrong since Lee Sun need a friend in that vipers nest of a palace.

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Oh no, I had never considered the fact that the guard was a mole. I hope that he is not. Poor LS if he is without a good person as a company in the palace

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I was scratching my head over that too, why and how did he tell him that he's fake! The writer is lazy there should've been a scene that shows how he told him that and his reaction and also I think it's not easy to have a minion beside him when DM is monitoring him!

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Yeah, too bad on this one. This is a good chance to highlight LS's loneliness on the palace before finding a friend (a true one that knows who he really is). Too bad that they skip that

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I wondered about that too. This doesn't make any sense at all: tell a stranger your weaknesses and tell to said stranger that you're scared the bad guy is going to use your weaknesses against you...

I also think he's that guard that thanked him. But that doesn't mean you can trust the guy. Even if I can understand why he would try to befriend someone. The poor guy must feel lonely since he has to live a secluded fake life. I really pity him

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Hi! I am not sure how I can summarize my thoughts for the latest four episodes, so I think I am just going to break them down like this. This became quite long

Crown Prince: I am proud of him for growing up and growing even smarter, and maybe stronger both physically and mentally. Though I wish I have been shown more on how he ended up being trusted to become a Chief Peddler. I really don’t understand why he was lying to Gaeun about his identity, despite Gaeun obviously recognizing him. It feels like it doesn’t serve any purpose and that he is complicating his own love story. I also hope they would make his plans to fight Daemok clearer in the upcoming episodes, it has been five years so surely there is some grand plan, right? Yoo Seungho looked really hot as a chief peddler, even better than he was the crown prince!

Gaeun: Despite what people said about her, I find her had grown up well and exceed in taking a lead, taking her father’s position and became someone other people relied on, even adults. She is reliable, smart, willing to take actions no matter how hard it will be, and I hope the show wouldn’t make her into a damsel in distress because I think she is capable of defending herself. She is an admirable woman, and perhaps her flaw is that she really doesn’t have an apparent flaw, which made people think she is boring. Perhaps, she would be more interesting if her need for revenge has blinded her slightly. Is it just me or Kim Sohyun is especially pretty in this drama?

Lee Sun: He took the backseat in these episodes, and I think he progressed the least out of all characters. He was still a scared boy, one who couldn’t do anything to change how he is currently living. I find him the most pitiful and loneliest character out of them all, all alone in the palace without being able to see his own family (though at least he has a faithful bodyguard by his side, now) and his life is being controlled, so while the others have became an active player, he is still a pawn. He is also the character with the grimmer future possibility. I think in the end he will die because of the poison, or because he is sacrificing his life for Gaeun/CP. But before that I want him to be able to stand confidently in front of Daemok, one day, instead of always cowering. Perhaps Gaeun’s reappearance is what will propel him to finally stand up for himself and become stronger, though that might put him on odds with CP.

Hwagun: Hwagun, oh Hwagun. I think she is a good female character, but the biggest flaw about her character that made me unable to completely adore her is how she is so in love with CP despite not fully knowing him. She has some good traits (she’s smart and good at strategizing, she managed to become a leader on her own and was respected despite how hard it was for women to become leaders back in the era), and also a lot of flaws, which made her a better character than Gaeun on paper...

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(cont) I think she would be much better if she is a full on villain, instead of someone who is almost possessive of CP. I wish they didn’t make her fall in love with the CP so easily. I am also getting used to Yoon Sohee’s acting, but I still wish she is acted by a much better actress who can make her love for CP more compelling. I randomly imagined how it would be if Chae Soobin acted as her, and I think she would do a better job as Hwagun.

Other Stuffs:
- I am not fully convinced by the love stories here. Maybe it’s more because I don’t believe that love happens so quickly. As I said before, Hwagun fell in love with the CP after one meeting, which I still laughed at until now. Even for CP and Gaeun, they were each other’s first love only after several days. At least I know why they are interested in each other, though I don’t even know when and why exactly Gaeun fell in love with CP. The most believable love out of the main four characters is Lee Sun’s love for Gaeun, as it’s something that's built over the years, over some believable reasons. But then again we haven’t been shown Lee Sun and Gaeun during their years learning together, and they barely barely has scenes where it’s just the two of them. I do think they are starting to build the love story more properly this time, and I hope I am not wrong.

- I really hope Daemok doesn’t get dumber as a villain, and will stay as dangerous as before. I think lots of people doesn’t expect him to be smart in the previous episodes, heck why they are surprised he found out so quickly about their identities. I hope he stayed surprising us with how cunning he is.

- These episodes and the writing felt weaker than the previous episodes, but I guess it’s because these are now the basis of the new timeline story. I hope it will pick up again and I will still be invested. (The fact that I can write this long is a sign that I am still invested :p I usually watch a drama but don't have clear thoughts on it other than "this is good" and "this is bad")

- Kkomool is so cute! I can see how she is Lee Sun’s sister, both physically and character wise!

- And I am curious about what’s up with the gisaeng! (Her eyes are so beautiful, by the way, I can’t stop staring at them at the last scene!)

- They have some several pretty scenery scene.

- The OSTs release this week are really good. I love both singers’ voice, and the lyrics are so sad. Out of four OSTs released, I liked these the most. I didn't expect Star and Sun to be Hwagun's theme song, though.

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The writing does feel a bit weaker in these two episodes. I think it's because of the time skip, and the writer isn't able to effectively transition the time skip without forgoing some details or adding them in. The writing should pick up after an episode or two when we settle down in the five years after the killing of the King.

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I am more interested in Lee Sun character. There are so many possibilities on how he will end up. Will hr end up as one of the crown prince enemy? I think he hold grudge towards crown prince even if it's tiny, also there is a love triangle. Or, will he become crown prince ally? So many possibilities. Make me excited.

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i will say this i do like yoo so-hee and Yoo seung- ho's chemistry especially in the last scene with them sword fighting, maybe i just like otp's in combat lol not to say they are my otp just, its just it ignites my love for enemies to lovers trope/romance.

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The woman in the last scene is not Yoon Sohee/Hwagun, it's the Gisaeng/Lee Chaeyoung

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i thought the last scene sword fighting was the gisaeng and not hwagoon?

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I am intrigued by the gisaeng's role in all this. Why she is sneaking into DM's son's room in the middle of the night, and where she learns her martial arts from? Maybe she will be another alliance for the CP.

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Agree! The new characters will probably make the story more interesting. Maybe she's another faction trying to fight against Pyunsoohwe.

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Her skills matches the prince's.
We mAy be right or wrong about the ninja being the gisaeg because this show is so unpredictable..

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Yes she was the gisaeng, since she wore the same bracelet that the gisaeng wore. I thought that she was HG too at first *lol*

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oh my mistake then lol, she does look similar to YSH with her face half cover like that. but nevertheless i did like that scene

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I thought it was Hwa-goon, too, at first! But then again, I thought it was Sun until the real one came in second. Shows how observant I am... Heh.

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Perhaps they are one and the same?

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I dont think he was in combat with yoon so hee though? It seems more like he was fighting with the gisaeng.

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he fought with the gisaeng...am looking forward to knw her story

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I hope more from ga eun but why i keep attract with hwa goon character ? I love YSH and his new hairstyle.. and thank you @lovepark for the recaps

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Love the leads.
But the story is not really selling it for me
I tried watching it... I think i will pass
Leads!! Lets meet again in your next projects!!

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i know its dissapointing when u are expecting A but u are being served with B.THE WAY THEY SOLD THE STORY IS NOT HOW i see it maybe things will change in the next episode especially character dvp..............L has to et stronger it doesnt make sense that he is the same after 5 yrs

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I am assuming that he might change after GE entrance to the palace, specially if she finds out who he is, i have a high hopes for an interesting things in the upcoming episodes.

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Right. With the way they hype it back then.. My expectation coz the lead cast is perfect for me.. The sypnosis is interesting.. Prince n d pauper mix w/ romeo n juliet concept is interesting but Sigh..... They didn't deliver it... I really tried but sigh... I will watch their next projects

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Okay, I get why they had to do it, but I was really sad that they hid Chung-Woon's face for most of the second half of the episode (at this point I should probably change my name to Chung-Woon's-Number-One-Fan... I have a problem).
Other than that, I don't really have much to say about this episode. The drama kinda lost me a little bit. The plot is still interesting, although the bad guys kinda grind on my nerves a little bit too much tbh, but the romance sub-plots.... The one between the CP and Ga-Eun is just a little bit too much full of drama. And Hwa-Goon's crush is kinda really annoying.

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Where initially HG's crush is annoying, I find it much more bearable now that her character has mellowed down, and even matured a little. I am pleasantly surprised at the contrast in her character five years before and after the killing of the King, and I thought YSH portrayed the contrast very well. Hopefully, her character arc can continue in this positive vein, and I will be fully on board with her character.

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nope am sure she will change a bit in the future especially towards ga eun......her character poster said i will win the CP and she said the prince was hers in episode 2...xo i dnt see her letting the prince go easily xo he can be with ga eun

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agree on why he has to keep his Chun soo identity a secret. It's like damn obv that she already knows. I felt that he's just angst at her fake hate letter. and I justttttt can't wait for the Dae Mok and Prince Sun real fight begins. The climax of all. I think Hwa Goon might die in the process. Idk but i felt it somehow she would.

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I am afraid I will never get on board with the romance at the rate things are going. All the supposedly romantic scenes end up cheesy to me. Hwa Goon behaves like a lovestruck saesang fan to CP and when Ga Eun stood dumbstruck in the firefly scene staring at CP, I wanted to scream. You can't manufacture swoons like this. I get that Yoo Seung Ho looks absolutely gorgeous especially in his new hairdo but the writer and PD shouldn't project our fangirling onto the female characters. Now with the possibility of the gisaeng joining in, they might as well start a Crown Prince fanclub already.

I still cannot understand the part where Sun said he was disappointed that Ga Eun did not recognize him. It doesn't make sense. She called him Chun Soo whose name he had used to lie to her(by the way, I was scratching my head at why the late Consort in her dying moments referred to her son as Chun Soo. Was it a sort of pretend game CP used to play?). Maybe he was disappointed by how easily she was led to believe otherwise? It's ridiculous to say the least. Was this one of the reasons why they did the time skip? If it's 50 years maybe I'll buy it.

If the issue is about his guilt, it is totally misplaced. Since he wants to be the noble idiot, why not go all the way? Own up to his 'crime', reveal his identity and let her decide on the punishment.

I don't understand Sun's game plan either. Why would the merchants' loans to the tradepeople help in the greater scheme of things? Aren't the merchants having problems themselves? By helping the tradepeople pay their debts to Water Bureau, aren't they indirectly helping the Water Bureau achieve their goal? It's a situation of damn if they do and damn if they don't. It should be considered as a very short term measure in a larger scheme which objective is to band together and destroy the Water Bureau's stranglehold. I don't know if I am missing something in the logic of CP's plan but looking at Hwa Goon and Ga Eun's gazes of utmost admiration, I supposed it must be brilliant.

I wonder why Sun never ask how did Hwa Goon end up in the palace as the Queen's guest. Talking about the Queen, I am disappointed that she didn't do anything much after all. I'd imagine she use her regency to her advantage or work with Lee Sun. Instead, she seemed to have passively waited for him to grow a backbone all these 5 years.

This is likely my last rant, I will probably put the drama on hold and just read the recaps. I had high hopes for this because I found the premise intriguing. Although I wanted the revenge story, I don't see how it can happen in a good way. It would mean more episodes of misunderstandings and a even more contrived plot keep CP and GE apart.

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I was also disappointed at the Queen. When she took control of the royal court in the prior episode, I really thought she was buying time in order to effect whatever plans she had at hand. I thought she would attempt to find ways to consolidate her power during the five years to defeat DM at his game of installing the fake CP on the throne, maybe work with the fake CP or something, but she seemed to have done nothing of the sorts all this while. It's such a waste of time.

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I completely agree with you on this. I think the main problem is this 5-year-old gap. It's putting every part of the drama on hold! The problem is that they expect us to pick things up 5 years ago as if the gap didn't exist (at least that's how I see things). I wonder about the Queen's plan, but I also wonder about Dae Mok's plan of showing the Queen the power of money. Because this plan also took 5 years to unfold and that just doesn't make sense to me

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on board with this...the love story are half baked........one is obsessive(hwa gun) with no base to justify the emotions and the other one is not fully cooked since the writter is stupid enough to separate the leads with no good reasons instead of letting them really connect

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You took the words out of my mouth. I don't know what this writer is thinking and I don't know what MBC was thinking when they hired them.

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Oh yes, cheesy is the right word for the supposed romantic scenes. Sometimes it is super cringey, like in that horse riding scene. Cue slow motion, slow song and a falling mask that doesn't budge in an epic fight scene but when the plot needs it, then it flyes away gently in the win. Oh, I forgot the big lovestruck eyes. Make this scene a couple of minutes long and here it is. What a writing!

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I like your post. Your critics are one of the most objectives ones *lol*. Here is my thoughts about the questions :
- CP pretending not to know her : imagine that you have made mistakes toward someone you really care about. You are really ashamed about what you had done, and you are scared about her reaction after knowing what you had done. This is what happened to CP. He said that he would protect GE, and that was the first time you were so idealistic about your role as THE CP who wanted to protect the people and uphold justice. But the result was like that. That was why we saw CP crying over and ocer and over again until he fainted (some ppl felt that the crying was too much, but I think they were necessary to show how regretful and childish he was at that time) . I also felt that he was pretending to be someone else was rather cheesy, but I could understand what made him do that. How could you admit what u had done when you were so ashamed of urself?

- CP's mom told GE to give the crock to Chun Soo : isnt that obvious? Becoz the mom didnt want to reveal the identity of CP, so she told GE to give it to Chun Soo.

- CP's play with the merchant : I dunno whether he had other bigger motive than this, but all I can see, he just wanted to help GE and the villagers. He talked big about everything, but the purpose was just to lend money for the villagers, implisitly threathening the merchants that if they let Water Bureu becoming big and big, then they woud target the merchants too (if the villagers couldnt pay, then their lands, business and everything would be belonged to the Water Bureu. The stronger they were, the more powerful they'd become). The merchants got benefit in return to, so they just complied

Anyway, yeah, once again, I noticed that this series has plot holes since day 1. I just found that this still has enjoyable elements ...*lol*. I love the characters, the artists, and the story. I mean, there are plot holes alright, but the 'idea' and the way the story is going is still interesting for me. So, yeah ..I'm still enjoying this :D

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I keep thinking the part about CP being disappointed may be a translation lost its meaning? I saw an alternative translation of GE's confession in the same scene and the alternative made a lot more sense. I'm hoping the Queen finds another way to get involved with the politics again - I keep feeling she has a hidden motive. As for why CP never asked why Hwa Goon was in the palace, I reckon he plain forgot, given twice now he forgot what Hwa Goon looked like while he was preoccupied with everything else..

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Yup, I agree about CP-HG. Sometimes we think too complicatedly while the answer is very simple : obviously, he simply forgot bcoz his mind was somewhere else. Meaning, he has never had any interest at her at all.

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My replies to a few comments by fellow beanies regarding the criticisms toward Ruler so far. I can only speak for myself, however. Other beanies who share the same sentiments as I do might have very different reason for their own criticisms.
1- Ga Eun is a weak character.
First, I don't know about other people, but let's agree upfront that I don't think GE is a 'weak' character, nor has she displayed severe signs of being a damsel-in-distress, though I can't guarantee about the future. The girl has shown some backbone and I hope the writers will not reduce this in the future. I, however, agree with many other people that GE is a weakly written character. The most interesting traits about her have been largely ignored or taken for granted.
Take the village building. We know that she came up with the idea of living an independent life in the barren land, and convinced the villagers and they could make a living by trading with the adjourning areas and making the most out of its location. Yet we are not allowed to see how that plan took shape. Did she seek out the merchants? Did she personally make a deal with them? Did she consult Woo Bo for help since she's not savvy in those dealings? There must be someone to initiate all of this, and there must be someone to guide the villagers, but we have to assume that it was Ga Eun who did all the legwork but can't properly admire her capability, when we were treated to HG's Japanese competency and her influence over the other merchants. Which then makes me mad every time HG is praised and hailed as smart because on paper GE is also intelligent but the story doesn't back it up with solid proof as to her leadership qualities. Which, in turns, lead to the second point.

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2- It's only ep 6, we've got 14 more episodes, why all the complaints about GE's (lack of) character development?
I'd rather word it as 'we're at ep 6 already' and the way I see it, most of the complaints have been about GE's lack of screen time and character exploration rather than development. Her character growth is meant to span the length of the drama, so I wouldn't expect any development right off the bat.
As to what I mean by character exploration, I tend to make a distinction between this and 'character development', though the two might overlap at times. What I mean is, the way the writers treat her character feels superficial. They pick a few traits for her, such as intelligent, elegant, kind, stubborn and morally upright and sew them together in a loosely manner. Ga Eun consistently displays some or all of these traits, but none was properly delved into. For example, she is supposed to have a distinct sense of justice, just like her father, but the show refuses to build her conflict based on that. The CP personally executed her father, then after ascending the throne, directly drove the whole village out of their home (the official at the Water Bureau said something to that effect: 'The former king turned a blind eye on the fact that you're living here. The current king [...] ordered me not to let you live here any longer'), but the show didn't let Ga Eun question the King's decisions and sense of morality or justice even once. We have to wait until 5 years later when she had the chance to sneak into the palace and saw Lee Sun under the disguise of the King, to remember that her hatred exists. In short, the show has missed a good opportunity to set up her conflict and builds up its impact. If later she is set out for revenge, we as the audience have to do all the homework (i.e. to remember all the injustice done to her and the villagers), because the writing and directing and editting have not woven the conflicts in a coherent manner, or explored them in-depth.

As for the impatience, I don't want to say anything more than this:
Do you remember Moon Lovers and the complaints about its pace? Some viewers then defended the show, saying it was too early on and the complaints were unfounded. But then let's look at how the show ended and the disappointment it caused to some of the most loyal and dedicated viewers. I'm not saying Ruler has as many plot to cover, but it does have many characters, each having their own trajectory that will contribute to the overall journey. As of now I'm not worried about the pace, but seeing how certain characters are largely ignored or dealt with only superficially, I think my fear that the show will sacrifice many, if not most, of its characters and turn them into cookie-cutter stereotypes to elevate the growth trajectory of only a few, is not completely unreasonable.

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Most, if not all the issues boil down to poor writing. I agree with you on everything except that I think even CP is badly written. I am probably the only one who is unconvinced of his growth and I'm not sure why I feel this way.

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You're not alone. I wrote about Ga Eun mostly because I feel more attached to her, as a result of liking KSH and coming into the drama for her in the first place. The CP's growth doesn't feel organic to me either (or even HG's for that matter), because the show skipped the most important part of it and what made them change. Suddenly we're here and they're all grown up and feel so different, yet we are not allowed to see what was so significant that it left such an impact. Their loss served as the condition, but it is their reflection and subsequent experiences that lead to gradual change. Actually, all of them remained the same after the loss happened, and we have to assume that 'something' happened during those 5 years to justify this 180 degree transformation.

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this writer dsnt know how to weave the tragedy and characters properly for max impact..........he leaves most of the stuff to our imagination thats why in some scenes u as an audience u are supposed to cry but u dont u just feel sad bcos u cant fully connect

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Who is the writer of this show, and what are her works? I feel this writer doesn't know which details to show on the screen that can effectively flesh out the character. The writer seems to think the audience is smart, and can infer for themselves the characters' traits and everything from the cursory/superficial details that she has set out on the screen.

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The devil is in the details. It is what makes great writing. Not everything needs to be set out for the audience but the benefit is not so much for the viewers to understand them but for the complexity and layering of the characters themselves.

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If i'm not wrong, the writers for Ruler are pretty new, and there aren't many works to their name. Prob why the story turned out as such, but I do wonder how they managed to snag both YSH and LSH to star.

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cant edit... *KSH.

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Moon Lovers also suffered from awful writing but many were too in love with the drama to mind.

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I wasn't among them then, but I know for a fact that many of those who stuck it out until the end for ML were disappointed at the writing of certain characters, its pace and its ending too. They were pretty vocal about their disappointment back then. For those who chose not to criticise, let's say they have different priorities. Unless I personally identify with certain characters or they are not too blatant, writing weaknesses get me pretty quickly.

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I think you make some very good points. Is this inexperience or incompetence on the write's part?

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This is how Wikipedia sums her writing up "Some critics have opined that Kim writes shallow characters, and she is as polarizing as she is successful. But not only do most of her dramas appeal to a wide age range of viewers and receive high ratings, but they often have that extra element that makes them pop-culture buzz projects, whether it's due to a particularly catchy line of dialogue or a recurring joke."

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3- KSH's chose this, so she must have known what the script requires
I beg to differ. We do not know for a fact that the script was finished by the time it was sent out to the cast. Even if it has been finished, we can see from previous trailers that some scenes were edited out, so KSH do not have full control over the screen time she has. She wouldn't have known beforehand how impactful her scene would be, since that depends a lot on the director. Plus, a 18-year-old girl, no matter how good of an actress she is, is not likely to tell between a 'good' and 'bad' script in terms of character exploration and development. It takes years of experience to arrive at that stage, and even more experienced actors/ actresses make bad professional choices sometimes. The agency might provide input, but it also depends on how money-oriented or philosophically-informed they are to provide sound advice for the girl. So no, I'm not convinced that KSH is fully aware of what the writers and directors have in store for her, though she did make conscious choice at the beginning. I therefore place most of the blame on the writing of this show and feel cheated because the more experienced in the industry didn't provide or help her with the right materials to bring the best out of her. If you think she's already good, I'd like to argue that the girl is capable of Much More, and as someone who supports her I'd love to see her get the roles where she can continue to mature and excel, roles with depth and intensity to bring out the intensity in her acting. Ga Eun is not among them.

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I remember she said that before filming, she didn't have access to the script of Let's Fight Ghost. Initially, she was also told that there weren't many kiss scenes, (just the part where they fall down the stairs) and we all know what happened. So it's highly possible that she was only informed of the synopsis of the drama and her character description when she accepted it. She may have had no idea how the story was gonna go, hance she had absolutely no time to think about it or reconsider it. Besides, it's not just her who chooses the projects for her. Her agency is also involved.

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I am not a fan of KSH but I was so sold by her short appearance in Goblin that I fist pumped when she confirmed this drama. Isn't it strange that I love her more in Goblin as the tragic young queen than in Ruler? I had thought Ruler would satisfy my need to watch KSH in a great saeguk role.

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That's because Kim Eunsook, as much as she sucks developing her main characters, has a knack for writing secondary characters. Take Heirs(eww), Secret Garden, DotS for example. Her secondary characters are more layered than the leads, and KSH was lucky for being on the receiving end of KES streak with writing secondary characters. KSH only appeared every other week for (sometimes, it doesn't even last a minute) but every second of her appearance had an impact because it actually added to the development of the story.

With Ruler, she appears on the scene in one moment and disappears in the next and I already forgot what happened with her.

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I'm a a veteran Kdrama lover who has been watching Kdrama for over 20 years since a teenager. I've watched some of Kim Eun Sook's works (Lovers in Paris, Goblin, Heirs, DOTS), but the only one I like is Lovers in Paris. Most of her plots seems to be too cheesy for me to root for.

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@Vanptc, I dont want many dramas but I also dont really like Secret Garden and DOTS. I feel that Secret Garden was too cheesy for my taste, while DOTS was better but still okay (not very good, just okay) for me. DOTS is okay due to the action and foreign country element there, not the romance.

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Correction : I dont watch many dramas, sorry

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If you really want to see her in sageuk that's not MTETS or Rooftop Prince, try watching The Last Princess(Korean title: Princess Deokhye). It's a movie starring Son Yejin and she was the child counterpart.

Now that I remember it, it makes me more mad that her 10-minute appearance in The Last Princess was more impactful and better-written than Gaeun.

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Sigh ... I'm hanging on just for Kim So Hyun here.
I feel like the writers set the bar too high, adding too many characters and too many subplots, making it hard for the viewers to follow the scenario and to connect with the protagonists. Sometimes less is more ... I can't believe I'm saying this, but Moonlight Drawn By Clouds was better shot, even though I can't count how many times I rolled my eyes during the cutesy scenes. It had a simpler story and less main characters. It really pains me to say this, as an absolute fan of Kim So Hyun. I wanted it to be her break out role.
I was so excited by the plot at the beginning, I wanted Ga Eun to hate the crown prince to the core and slowly fall in love with him, I wanted Woo Boo to be like Ruler's Dumbledore, I wanted misunderstanding scenes with the mask, I wanted Peasant Sun to turn bad. I thought it would a perfect mix of epic action scenes, romance and mystery.
But I realise now that it's probably the show's weakness, wanting to mix up too many genres.

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I was so excited by the plot at the beginning, I wanted Ga Eun to hate the crown prince to the core and slowly fall in love with him, I wanted Woo Boo to be like Ruler's Dumbledore, I wanted misunderstanding scenes with the mask, I wanted Peasant Sun to turn bad. I thought it would a perfect mix of epic action scenes, romance and mystery.

Thank you for this! I couldn't say it any better.

As for mixing up the genres, I believe that's their objective. I also read an interview where the PD said this drama was inspired by Game of Thrones. If that's not ambitious, I don't know what is.

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Yeah I saw that interview too ! Ruler is nothing like Game of Thrones lmao Sadly I think that the Koreans mostly like the good old type of hero/heroine, with a little bit of spunk at most, but I really doubt that they would have supported Ga Eun's character if she began to kill some people as part of the revenge plot (like Daenerys or Arya do in Game of Thrones).

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It's really strange to me, and I think it has more to do with the mindset of the writers honestly. I can name some previous projects, where we've got uniquely written heroines, which get decent, if not high ratings. I can think of I Hear Your Voice off the top of my head, then Queen of Ambition also had steadily increasing ratings towards the end of its run, starting from as early as ep 4. Suspicious Partner is also showing positive signs, and I might have missed some other amazing female leads too.
These shows' records show that Korean viewers actually welcome freshly written female characters, and their reception have been quite consistently positive. I think it depends a lot on the writer as well to break away from the mold of Candy-type heroines (version without a backbone).
Well, now that I type it out, Jang Na-Ra's character in Hello Monster is also a very refreshing one. Then we've got Individualist Ji-young and Jae-Yi of Tunnel too.

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I haven't watched that many korean dramas, but that was my impression after watching a few. I might have missed out on good female leads then ! ^^
Now that you mention I Hear Your Voice, I really like Park Hye-Ryun's female leads, I loved Hye Mi in Dream High, Jang Hye-Sung in I Hear Your Voice and Yoon Yoo-Seul in Page Turner. Sadly Page Turner only lasted 3 episodes, I really hope that Kim So Hyun has the opportunity to shine in a full-length Park Hye-Ryun drama. I don't know if Park Hye-Ryun is involved in the casting process, but Kim So Hyun has acted in 2 of this writer's dramas so I pray she'll be casted as the lead female some day !

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i would also add ae ra (fight for my way)in that list despite it only being 2 eps in, as well as park shin hyes character from doctor(no matter what you though of the drama), i think people do like and resonate with well written and strong female characters as well

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Game of Thrones really? If I wasn't at work I would burst out laughing. So far I don't think it's the worst drama ever and I enjoy watching it but to compare it to Game of Thrones is just unreasonable.

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omg u have said exactly what i was expecting and wanted from this show........L being cunning and ambitious,,,ga eun hating the cp then love him in a process not overnyt and woo boo being more involved in cp MATURITY than what is shown right now.....................omg so much potential wasted...i really am praying and hoping this show will redeem it self soon bcos many talented people put their faith in it(KSY and L...only YSH is getting meaty role so far...hope it changes soon)

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this drama was soldon the backs of kim so hyun and yoo seung ho with L as a cherry on top but now at episode 6 the story is sooo uneven with uneven screen tym and character dvp to all 4 characters it pisses me off
i think this drama will gv me a heart attack he stress from all the frustration am getting while watching it.....................i blame the writter........he is soo sloppy at character development and romantic story
i mean our main leads have a very weak back ground love story..they where so adorable in the first episodewith xo much potential he should have given them at least 1 to 2 episode to create a strong back ground story before all the disaster came in.
also hwa gun love story is not belivable..its abit possessive and no one gives up her entire family for a boy they hardly knew who hasnt made any type of comitment to her....i mean she fall 4 him and did all that based on their first encounter where they never talked and the CP never knew she existed for 5 yrs
the saving grace of this show is the veteran performance
the only character that is well written is that of yoo seung ho everyone esle is a side story with weak dvp
also L was xo side lined in the last 2 episode ...he was technically a supporting character

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I'm giving this show until next week. If this doesn't get itself together in two episodes, I'm out. I don't mind settling with KSH clips on YT.

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This show is so badly written. I actually wanted to see Yoo Seung Ho become the peddler, and gain the hearts of the people. I'm really upset that there was a time skip. I wanted to grow with the hero like in Rebel. And the characters are all so one note and not complex at all. It's so weird like some villains feel like they're villains to be villains and not for any reason that would work in real life. Hwa Goon is just a new level of crazy and confusing and maybe the actress this time around is so bad because she has no idea how to portray this girl. This writing is just really weird, the characters are weird, and it's all just... Weird. The romance wasn't even well built, so I don't care about the main couple, and why does hwa goon like the prince in the first place? It also sucks that you don't get to see L figure out how to be king, and Ga Eun figure out how to make her village successful. Once again, with Rebel you get to see how people change over time, and you change with them. Growth doesn't just happen off screen. The writer of the show needs to go into reflection. Maybe even quit his/her job. Also the cinematographer talent here is being wasted on a sub-par script. Poor everyone who is in this show.

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I think Heo Jun Ho is wasted here. I was looking forward to him in this after being acquainted to this actor in Beautiful Mind. I don't share the same sentiments as the recappers because I find Dae Mok very much a cardboard villain.

Don't get me started with Rebel, Thief Who Stole The People. I love the villains there even though I hated them, LOL. King Yeonsangun, Prince Choongwongoon, Lady Jo and Scholar Song were all evil but interesting in their own ways.

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Darn, the Rebel villains set a high bar. I can't for the life of me fathom why I could hate and empathise with Lady Jo at the same time.

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Aww. Gosh they are pushing so much politics at our throats and it is making us confused. Hope they balance romance, bromance and politics.

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Just came here to write that this episode made me realize the magnificence of Yoo Seung Ho. Apart from his amazing acting, the physicality of his acting drew me. After the time skip, his carriage his different, the way he walks and holds himself,without needing words, makes you realize the changes he has gone through. That said, I am still finding it difficult to become emotionally invested but I can't pinpoint why. Although I am gonna keep watching because - Yoo Seung Ho. On a side note, I think the maroon clothes suits him very well. Boy was looking fiiiiinnnneee. Everytime he was on the screen I was swooning.

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The plot was good in the first 2 weeks. When there was not so much Hwa Goon in the picture, and when the trio Prince Sun/Ga Eun/Peasant Sun was in the limelight. In the firefly scene I could really sense the bond forming between these 3 characters, and it kind of reminded me of the Harry/Hermione/Ron trio for some reason.
I feel like there was so much room for character development.
I would have liked to see flashbacks of Peasant Sun falling in love with Ga Eun and her kindness, as she treats him as her equal despite her being a lady and him being poor. Ga Eun being completely oblivious of her childhood friend's feelings. Peasant Sun and the crown prince's animosity could have been used for comedic timing in the first episodes, as we viewers grow attached to them, leading to many bromance/frenemies scenes. As time passes, Lee Sun would have been torn between his growing respect for the crown prince, his jealousy as they become rivals for Ga Eun's affections, and his frustration over not being to able to make a difference in the world or avenge his father (given his social status) and over the crown prince being initially too soft-hearted and naive to take the right measures to take down Pyungsoo-hwe.
I'm thinking it would have been cool if Ga Eun had reciprocated Lee Sun's feelings initially, without them ever aknowledging them in front of each other. Until Prince Sun comes into her life and slowly steals her heart ^^ I would have liked seeing Ga Eun being torn between her past feelings for Lee Sun, her growing fear of him as he becomes more and more ambitious and bitter, and her hate/love relationship with the prince.
And finally, the prince being like a fish out of water at the beginning outside of the palace, becoming as busy as ever between Ga Eun's revenge plot against him, Lee Sun turning on him and Pyungsoo-hwe wanting to kill him !
By reading the initial premise of the show there were so many possibilities that it baffles me how it turned out in the end.

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I agree with many of your points. I think a couple of extra episodes for our characters and for the story's setup would have been great. I would love to see, for example, a detailed flashback of Ga-eun and Peasant Sun's relationship. I wonder if we'll get that or not.

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This show is like Sageuk for Dummies. The writing direction, plot, love story, characters, acting all operate on the most superficial level. There's no depth at all. Once you try to to think about or make sense of the plot or the characters you just end up with a ton of questions. The writer and director seem to think all they need to do is throw event after event at us, sprinkle it with the usual Korean dramaland cliches and ooh and aah at how pretty the leads are but it's not enough.

I commented way back when the plot summary was revealed that the plot seemed to convoluted and confusing. It might possibly have worked in the hands of an experienced and talented director and writer but it's very obvious the writer and director on this show are subpar and out of their depth. No wonder the cracks are beginning to show already.

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I like this new attitude the prince has, he's regained confidence. He became a swordman and his new look is so cool, I like his loose hair.

Now for the angst, yes, I agree with you, just playing with noble idiocy is dumb for them, because even though he feels guilty and that letter thing, she's coming to him, it was out of coincidence but still, they met again and she's asking and even acknowledges that he was her first love. He has to tell her the truth right way before it gets boring -"yes you are" - "No, I'm not" ...

I thought the same about how did those men escaped the warriors and got to the same point almost at the same time than Ga eun did riding on horse. It beats me. come on.

As for the puppet king, It's nice to see Lee Seon hasn't sold his whole soul yet, I wish he was played by a more experienced actor, who could show the struggle he's in, L's work is so lacking, and forced it almost falls into sketching.

Last scene got me confused cuz I don't know who is the owner of the bracelet. If any of you noticed please tell me.

I enjoy this show so far, I hope it get better, the prince character is so lovable. Even the funny scenes are nice and Wiggly? She's the cuttest thing ever.

By the way, I am getting this Faith vibe. How is it that every single person in that palace gets poisoned so easily? seriously? How does it keeps happening?

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I am going to watch that episode again because I thought we were deliberately confused - from others comments above it worked!

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Why does Prince Sun have to distance himself from Ga Eun? Obviously, he still harbors feelings for her, but he doesn't ever let her get close to him. I'm just patiently waiting for that moment when he will admit everything to her so that their love can fully bloom. For Ga Eun, she seems to be a clever character, but I don't think we see enough of deeper complexity. After that time skip, she is a little bit more developed, but I think the impact from Prince Lee Sun is heavier. His sword fighting was upgraded and he became much more mature. I too am excited for the journey ahead when our peddler leader becomes a true king. Here's hoping to another great episode!

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I feel so shallow saying this but...
Let us spare a minute to thank the universe that Yoo Seung-ho's grown up to be a good actor who looks best in sageuk--whether he's playing god/king/prince/con artist/magician/commoner.

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I know right. So Hyun is so pretty in every hanbok she wears, too. Which makes them to be my best OTP so far ^^

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I got goosebumps when Ga Eun gazed at CP Sun after chasing after a firefly. Those are exactly the eyes of a girl longing for her love. I just love the way how Kim So Hyun portraits her character in such an elegant yet stubborn way like that. What an amazing actress.

She and peasant Lee Sun weren't given much screentime in ep 11-12 to show character developments, but from what I saw in the promo of ep 13-14, it will be their turn. I hope later on in the show, she can learn how to play dirty game with the bad (Pyunsoo-hwe), take revenge for her father's death, but stay to be good natured and keep on helping people.

Speaking of Hwa Goon, she appears to be mellow when she has growned up, but I daresay that she will turn extremely evil when she realizes that she will never get the CP's heart, and will try to harm Ga Eun for sure.

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I also love the way KSH portraits her character : elegant, smart and stubborn, just like u said. She also has that noble aura with her. Just like YSH, they both have this noble air with them that made them different than other characters, really like royalty.

I dunno about HG. I'm okay with her still being kind or turned to be evil. But, judging from the preview, it seems that she will have a confession soon. If she is rejected by CP, then ..yeah..the bigger possibility is for her to turn evil or obsessed to own CP. She could persuade LS to work with her and both turn CP-GE into enemies. Both GE-LS have the secret of CP's identity and the truth behind GE's father's death, so if they decide to separate CP-GE, they can fabricate the truth and make it as if CP was the one who executed Dad.

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Does anyone know the age they supposed to be now after timeskip?

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They were 17 yrs old + 5 years = 22 yrs old after time skip :)

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Thank you :-)

So half a decade and now in early 20s and fake prince hasn't learned anything. Not even how to stand up straight! Neither his or Gaeun's character seems to have changed from before really.

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I have a question though: 22 is actually quite old in sageuk. People in the period got married when they are teens. KSH has changed anything in 5 years. And she keeps cheating with that hairstyle, every other woman has right hairstyle, YSHee put her right hairstyle once in a while

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Yes I do want CP & GE together but more than OTp scenes together, I keep asking why is CP keeping his Chunsoo persona hidden from GE especially after GE "confession"?

Looking forward for more character developments for GE and LS.

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I was also a bit dumbfounded when, after saving Ga Eun, Crown Prince just abandonned her in the middle of a forest. And then the miraculously alive and unscathed peddlers just appear out of nowhere to take care of Ga Eun.

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This may be somewhat off-topic, but I have just imagined a drama starring Yoo Seung Ho, Bo Gum and Hyunsik as brothers. More specifically, The Eyes Brothers. Now I know the Dramabeans fairies can make anything happen so...

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Well I came to this without expectations or any investment in the actors, though I have a personal fondness for YSH, but watched it because none of the currently airing dramas take my interest. I thought I was going to like Suspicious Partners: I do like the female lead but there's something about it that irritates and I do not find it funny in the least.
So as I usually read the recaps after the episode I did so with RMOTM and what strikes me most about it is how many admit they are carrying a torch for a certain actor/outcome. The writing of this drama is patchy and weak. It has been from the start. The costume and cinematography are good. What it most lacks is adequate character development for the majority of the characters. No amount of competency as an actor can make up for this, so I find it especially irksome that some choose to overlook the fact and blame the actor. Finally equally irksome is the reference to MLDBC. I understand the two dramas draw on the same historic references but they were neither of them serious historically accurate works and MLDBC while it had many good things going for it was also badly written and a love fest for fans of the two leads (and others). The love angle quickly turned from sweet and cute to cliched schmaltz - well Kim yoo-jung was underage and when does kdrama ever do representative skinship? - but seriously these two dramas don't bear comparison! So far exasperatingly, Lady Han's character development and emotional involvement with Prince Sun has been ignored in recent episodes. Haw goon's is showing growth; her love of Sun, however obsessional and unexplained, resulted in her giving him the drug that put him into a near death state so fooling the guards and saving his life. By her own wit she has become the head of an influential and wealthy merchant group. Her personal charm and intelligence, along with her fluency in Japanese are driving that group's business. She/they are perfectly aware that the Water and Trade bureaus are threats to them not just the peddlers and lowly merchants. She is astute in realising the significance of the full debts being demanded in cash and making discovery of the reason why a condition of financing their otherwise unpayable dues. - CP's facial expressions seem to acknowledge that he fully understands why she imposes this condition and respects it and is therefore happy to concede. HG is not an unhinged character nor is her heart stolen by a crazed fixation. This is a misreading of the early episodes and the fault is in the writing and direction. The CP explicitly tells GE (and HG hears it too) that he was not doing a favour for the market, rather is is seeking to protect peddlers and merchants rich and poor alike. Following on HG instructs Goon to find out everything about the chief peddler. I think this plot line will have developments. GE's plot line development will surely return to the greenhouse and discovery of the hidden crock (containing written...

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MDBC directing and story development are miles better than ruler. You know the character well, where they from, how do they feel, the music are top notch. OTP is the real OTP. There is no bad actor in MDBC. You might not like the type of the drama but they give you exactly what they promised.

Ruler story development is bad, uneven screen time. Everytime KSH on the screen, YSHee gonna have more screen time, more backstory than her. And why, how they fell in love are still in question. Ruler hasnt delievery what it has promised, they character development is bad, we have to ask ourselves million times why why why

Just compare Ruler and Rebel - another MBC saguek just finish, which didnt have any star, but the quality is top notch, acting, music, directing, no matter small or big role - they are always well done.

Ruler has lots of expectation, and so far there is more on disappoinment side.

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I watched MDBC because of a fan of both Bo Gum & Yoo Jung. I was over excited until ep 8 or 9 (half of the runnning time), when the show became boring due to its plain & bubbly cheesy plot. I have to say that I forced myself to watch toward the end just to see my boy & girl onscreen. Then I came to a conclusion that the show did good in ratings because it has Bo Gum, who has become super popular after Reply 1988.

I like his character in Reply 1988 (baduk player) and Hello Monster (psychopath laywer) than prince Lee Young in MDBC, and I hope he will choose meatier role in his next project.

Yoo Jung's talent was wasted in that show, too. She is just "a lady that the prince loves" in that show, and the character became weaker and weaker every weeks. And she had to wear that eunuch costume most of the time which couldn't show all her beauty! She was awesome in May Queen & Moon-Sun series though. I still dream of her and Park Gun Tae to be paired up again in another show very soon (they didn't end up together in May Queen which drove me crazy).

OMG, Chae Soo Bin's talent was wasted in that show, too. Not the fact that she wasn't given enough screentime, her character is not solid, either. She is good but the prince doesn't reciprocate her love, then she doesn't turn evil, deciding to help the prince (but he declines it) but end up doing nothing to help. So does her father.

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Its a youth romance, high school drama in sageuk. The drama turns PBG into superstar, tks to writing and directing. CSB got rebel because of MDBC. Yoo Jung wished to play a man once and she got her wish, i love epi 13. Epi 13-14 was a good crying episode. Jinyoung got a chance to prove himself as an actor. KDW proved he looks good in sageuk. All of them are very young 91-93-94-97-99 but they turn very basic script, against more hype drama - moon lovers. MDBC is good episode after good episdose for about 2/3, national and international hit. PBG was able to do asia tour of 8 countries. MDBC is a very important step for all of them, because of it now they have choices.

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