I understand that the WOC arc in The King 2 Hearts may be a bit rough to keep our interest, and much too elementary to pose any genuine thrills. The Avengers would be the same old soulless smashing of villains akin to a Transformers type big budget circus if we didn’t care about the characters, but because Marvel spent years building up all the individual heroes so we care about their fates and love their bickering when they do get together, and that is how the WOC arc plays out for me (minus some decent machinations).
This is not a type of drama where anyone cares about the war games, but since I care about most of the Korean team members, and added to it Jae Ha and Hang Ah’s engagement on the line, it becomes a must-win situation. I’m glad this episode quickly wraps it up so that everyone goes back to Korea to continue the fight against Bong Goo, the insecure villain with delusions of grandeur. Shi Kyung gets deeper into the thick of things while Jae Shin makes one huge confession, one impossibly brave public appearance, and finally takes her life back from those who have frightened her into giving up.
Episode 15 recap:
A quick flashback shows us that Jae Ha called the South Korean commander back in the WOC base to ask about the rules of the game. Other than stopping them from leaving the island, they need to find another way to make the US team lose by gaining more points on them. The South Korean commander gives some examples: getting them to surrender, killing all the opposing team members, fomenting dissent, destroying communication and supply facilities. Anything is fine other than injuring the opposing team with any injury that requires over four weeks to heal. Jae Ha gloms onto the destruction of facilities strategy.
Jae Ha makes a decision and assigns everyone (minus hostage Young Bae) to their respective tasks. Hang Ah is against it, it’s too dangerous. Jae Ha suggests planting explosions one by one and setting it off only when they need to. When asked how they can set an explosive, Jae Ha pulls out his cell phone. Jae Ha’s army buddies included guys adept at reconfiguring cell phones, and that is something he can do. He was a captain in the South Korean army, and because he was so bored, he learned many skills. He wants the others to lure the US team away from their bunker so he can sneak in and plant the explosion triggers.
Kang Seok rides an ATV as he lures the US team to chase him because he’s got the boat’s motor. Awesome, they didn’t just hide the boat, they removed the motor as well. One of the US team member’s rides his ATV over a mine and gets mocked killed. Jae Ha has snuck into the US bunker to place the cell phone bomb trigger. Young Bae is still being held hostage by the US team, who shows him the lighter the Korean team dropped and asks if its from the Korean team. When Young Bae sees it, he knows it’s a signal from Dong Ha.
Young Bae screams for Dong Ha to alert Dong Ha where he is being held and a smoke bomb is tossed into the bunker. Dong Ha rushes in and subdues the US team member. The two teams start to exchange mock gunfire outside the US team bunker facility. In another part of the island, Hang Ah and the South Korean team member who is not Shi Kyung are exchanging gunfire with two other US team members. The South Korean team member who is not Shi Kyung gets pretend KIA, but two US team members are also taken out by Hang Ah.
It’s nighttime and the US team captain decides they just need to keep control of the command center and wait it out until the time is up and the game ends. Jae Ha and Dong Ha have captured a US team member and are discussing what to do with Hang Ah. Kang Seok gets taken out as well and falls off the barb wire fence. The US team member that was pursuing Kang Seok helps him, asking if he wants to get himself killed?
Hang Ah and Jae Ha talk in the bunker as they check the time. They decide that they need to lure the US team out of the command center so they can continue with their plan to explode the facility, otherwise they can’t do it and risk injuring the US team members still inside. Also Jae Ha needs to sneak in there to plant the final explosive trigger. Jae Ha tells Hang Ah to trust him. The US team gets a call from Hang Ah and looks out the window to see Hang Ah walking the US member hostage over. Hang Ah goes to negotiate with the US team to lure the remaining US team members out of their bunker.
The US team captain gives the dog tag necklace containing both keys to the boat to another US team member before walking outside to negotiate with Hang Ah, leaving the US member in their supply bunker. The US captain reminds the other member that they have both keys, and when the time runs out, they win on points. Plus the organizers are watching on CCTV and the Korean team won’t try anything crazy.
Hang Ah negotiates with the US captain, she speaking in Korean and him in English, but their ear pieces are providing translation for them. Hang Ah throws down her weapon and promises not to shoot. She calls him out to talk to her as one captain to another and not to hide. Once the US captain walks out, she asks why he walked out alone. She tells him to surrender the US team since there is no boat anymore and they can’t leave the island. The US captain points out there is just ten minutes left, they want to wait for the decision.
Hang Ah says the US team is at a disadvantage now since they only have two members left. The US captain says that winning isn’t in the number of team members left. Hang Ah brings up what will happen in a war if all the command facilities are blown up. Hang Ah says the rules stipulate that anything can be used on this island, so they are just using the supplies given (cell phone, gas stove).
Jae Ha takes a gun and barges into the US supply bunker and tells the US team member to drop the weapon. The US team member in the bunker radios the US captain that Lee Jae Ha is in their bunker. Jae Ha calls for him to get away from the wall otherwise he’ll get hurt. There is a small explosion in the communication center and the US team member is knocked unconscious. Jae Ha takes the boat keys, but his ear piece is damaged so he no longer can communicate with Hang Ah.
The US captain asks why the Korean team is making such a big deal since this is just a game. Hang Ah replies that it may be a game to the US team, but it’s a critical win for the Korean team. The lives of a loved one, the position of King, the separation of a common people with shared history but are not politically divided. All of this is what the Korean team’s win will represent. Hang Ah blows up the US supply bunker and tells the US to surrender again. He says that if there is a bomb in the command bunker, it’s too late for Jae Ha to get out as well so he doesn’t believe they will detonate another explosion. Plus if the bomb actually injures the remaining US soldier inside, the Korean team automatically loses.
Jae Ha is finishing the bomb while Hang Ah remembers what Jae Ha told her. Jae Ha told Hang Ah that they can do it, as long as they explode the US facility before the game ends at 8 pm. If the US team refuses to surrender, then they will cause the explosion. Hang Ah tells the US captain that because they are a team, she believes in Jae Ha. The US captain warns Hang Ah that her King, her fiancee, Lee Jae Ha, will die inside if she causes the explosion.
Hang Ah remembers Jae Ha promising that he will succeed, and when he comes back, he will get engaged to Hang Ah. Jae Ha has asked Hang Ah to press the detonation button on her cell phone before 8 pm no matter what. If her heart is aligned with his heart, then she must push because she trusts him. Jae Ha makes Hang Ah promise to push the button is she loves him. We see Jae Ha finish setting the explosive and pull the US team member out of the building. Hang Ah says that she loves Comrade Lee Jae Ha before she pushes the button and the bunker explodes and Hang Ah runs towards it screaming for Jae Ha.
Dong Ha comes running down to stop Hang Ah from running into the fire. Hang Ah sees Jae Ha has escaped, and he’s pulled the US team member to safety as well. Jae Ha complains that she’s really loud and is she crying because someone died? Hang Ah cries and runs to embrace Jae Ha.
They hug and Jae Ha teases that she didn’t believe in him until the very end. Hang Ah cries while Jae Ha just hugs her tighter. Guh, such an effective awesome hard-earned hug. LOVE.
The Queen Mother is informed by Secretary Eun that the Korean team caused an explosion during the WOC competition and now the organizers are hotly debating what to do about it. The Queen Mother is just relieved the first round is over.
The Queen Mother asks about Club M (detaining Bon Bon) and Secretary Eun says he has handled it. Jae Shin is defiant, asking why they need to pander to Club M. The Queen Mother chides Jae Shin for speaking so rudely to an elder like Secretary Eun. He tells the ladies that Shi Kyung has learned a lot from this experience.
Shi Kyung is out jogging and thinks back to his father bowing before Club M, Bon Bon taunting him about what she did to Jae Shim. When he trips, he finally breaks down and starts crying. The camera pulls back and we see Jae Shin watching him from the Palace.
Jae Shin summons Shi Kyung and confirms that she’s met the man John Mayer who killed her brother Jae Kang earlier. Jae Shin agrees to resume her treatment, which she stopped because it was so painful. But now she vows to regain her memories. Shi Kyung asks that she not do it if it’s really that painful.
Jae Shin asks if Shi Kyung has given up on her, but he hasn’t. Jae Shin comes out and says that she likes him, she likes the world’s most boring royal guard captain Eun Shi Kyung. Shi Kyung is stunned and doesn’t answer. Jae Shin gets up even more courage and tells Shi Kyung that she wants him by her side initially because she was vulnerable and weak. But then she realized that she liked him. She asks him not to give up on her. She wants to become someone as courageous as he is, she wants to become a woman worthy of him. She asks him to please protect her.
It’s been three days and the organizers are still debating the outcome of the US-Korea match. During those three days, the US team has been staying in the Korean team’s bunkers. Hang Ah says they ought to have taken them in since the Korean team blew up the US team’s facilities. Hang Ah gets up and offers an extra plate of meat to the US team. They give her some dessert.
The US team tosses a jar at Kang Seok which almost hits his head, and he’s angry until he realizes its ointment for the cut on his head. He gets up and thanks the guy after some prodding with the most awkward “thank you.”
Shi Kyung hears that Jae Shin is planning a public appearance again at the Jeju Peace Conference. Jae Shin watches the TV showing Bong Goo speaking at the Jeju Peace Conference as she’s getting prepped for her public appearance. Secretary Eun and the Queen Mother also watch.
Jae Shin is announced and she wheels herself out. Jae Shin apologizes for her previous appearance. She was not fully prepared back then. She admits that the two Koreas might go to war at any moment, but she believes they can achieve peace. It’s not something that will fall from the sky, but is something built up little by little with time. Shi Kyung arrives and rushes into the auditorium. He stops when he sees Jae Shin calmly making a speech on stage.
Jae Shin dramatically stands up using crutches and shows the people that she can stand just ten minutes now, but with time she can stand up longer. Korea is just like that. To achieve peace, the two Koreas participated in the WOC and is also planning a marriage alliance. But she needs everyone’s help to support Korea. She asks everyone present to continue to watch and see how they can one day succeed. Everyone in the audience except for Bong Goo claps for Jae Shin, and the Queen Mother watches with tears in her eyes and is so proud, turning to Secretary Eun and saying “that’s my daughter.”
The WOC organizers are in a meeting with the commanders of the various teams discussing the US-Korea match. The Korean commanders argue that the explosion didn’t violate the rules since it was not intentionally trying to hurt the opponent, plus Jae Ha got the US soldier to safety. They say the explosion was very creative. The Chinese commander sides with the US team on saying the Korean team pushed the limits on the rules and shouldn’t win. The WOC organizer decides to put it to a vote since they’ve been debating for 3 days now.
The Korean team has reattached the boat motor and inserted the two keys as they get ready to leave. The US team is waiting for another boat to pick them up in 30 minutes. Jae Ha walks over and tells them to come with the Korean team. Why wait for another 30 minutes to shoot the breeze? The Korean team waves at the US team and welcomes them over.
The US team comes over and gets on the boat. Hang Ah offers her Korean patch to the US captain and everyone exchanges their patches, rather like the jersey exchange after a World Cup soccer match. Kang Seok is awkward about it until the US team member offers his US patch first, and they shake hands. The boat leaves and returns to the Mainland with both teams onboard. It’s cheesy but effective, and manages to preserve the allies relationship between the US and Korea.
A female voiceovers that the joint Korean Team won over the US but lost in a later round to Egypt, though they won over Russia. In the end, the Korean team got fourth place, after China, the UK, and Egypt. The US and Korean teams are celebrating together. Jae Ha is interviewed and he says that they won so got a bit cocky, but winning 4th place in their first appearance at the WOC is already quite an accomplishment. He grabs Hang Ah during her interview and declares that they are getting engaged and she’s his fiancee. Then Kang Seok comes by with champagne and everyone toasts. Bong Goo watches this interview and then asks for his phone.
Shi Kyung is planning the upcoming engagement with the other guards for when Jae Ha and Hang Ah come home. He gets a call from Bong Goo and he takes it privately. He asks what Bong Goo wants? Bong Goo asks why Shi Kyung likes Lee Jae Ha, who Bong Goo thinks is no different than himself. Shi Kyung doesn’t want to talk and tells him to communicate with the Secretary’s Office going forward. Before Shi Kyung hangs up, Bong Goo asks if he trusts his father? He encourages Shi Kyung to try and surpass his father, as that is what a son needs to do.
Secretary Eun calls Jae Ha while he is on his flight back to Korea, telling him that Kim Bong Goo wants to meet with him. Jae Ha agrees despite Hang Ah’s objection. He promises to be careful, and knows that Bong Goo cannot be dealt with so easily.
Shi Kyung talks with his father in the car about Club M.
Jae Ha meets with Bong Goo, with both of them smiling like they are shooting the breeze. Bong Goo congratulates Jae Ha on his major victory, and then asks if they can just call it even and let it go. Jae Ha retorts that Bong Goo killed people, it’s not something he can apologize for and expect to get let off the hook. Bong Goo says that Club M suffered a billion US dollars in losses since then. Is Jae Ha’s brother work a billion dollars?
Jae Ha sees Bong Goo as a direct guy, so he asks if Bong Goo shot Tara so that he could be more like Jae Ha? There is still a huge difference between them, because Jae Ha knows to be upset and embarrassed about shooting Hang Ah and he’s reflected on what he did. But Bong Goo? He eats when he wants, he poops when he wants, he does whatever he wants. There is a name for animal like that – Bong Goo is just like a pig, and equally without shame.
Bong Goo stands up and asks Jae Ha if this means Jae Ha wants to keep on playing? Bong Goo had wanted to let Jae Ha go, but now it’s not possible anymore. Jae Ha retorts that he’s going to continue to disregard Bong Goo, and wouldn’t that destroy the very purpose of what Bong Goo wants to do? Bong Goo points out that Jae Ha is about to get engaged to Hang Ah, right? Jae Ha asks if Bong Goo is threatening to blow up the engagement ceremony? Bong Goo smirks and tells Jae Ha to happily get himself engaged and extends his hand for a shake, which Jae Ha does not accept.
Guests are arriving at the engagement ceremony while the royal guards are checking the arrivals carefully. Dong Ha radios Shi Kyung that there hasn’t been anything out of the ordinary and has been very quiet. Shi Kyung reminds him to be extra vigilant. Hang Ah’s dad bows to the Queen Mother and sits down next to her. All the guests arrive, including Kang Seok and Young Bae. Aww.
The announcer calls out that the happy couple is arriving and all the guests cheer. We see Hang Ah and Jae Ha pulling up in a white convertible waving to the guests.
Jae Shin is in physical therapy as we watch her get out of the wheelchair by herself to move her body over to a bench. She falls down and is helped back up on a bench. She promises that she will attend the wedding ceremony of her Jae Ha oppa and Hang Ah unni.
Jae Ha walks up to the stage and everyone cheers, with Kang Seok and Young Bae standing up and clapping extra hard. Bong Goo is playing with tarot cards and laughs as he flips over the Queen of Swords. Hang Ah walks out onto the stage and Jae Ha walks over and reaches out his hand to her. She takes his hand and they stand before the guests. Everyone claps enthusiastically.
Suddenly Jae Kang’s voice starts talking and everyone turns around in shock. A video is playing of Jae Kang practicing what he will say during the wedding of Jae Ha and Hang Ah. Jae Ha turns to look at Secretary Eun and nods his thanks.
During the video, Jae Kang acts as the officiant for Jae Ha and Hang Ah’s wedding. He asks Jae Ha – Lee Jae Ha of the Republic of Korea, are you willing to take Kim Hang Ah as wife, to have and to hold, accepting each other’s differences, respect each other, and forever support each other? Jae Kang then asks Hang Ah – Kim Hang Ah of the North Korea, are you willing to take Lee Jae Ha as your husband, to have and to hold, accepting each other’s differences, respect each other, and forever support each other?
Everyone watches in silence as Jae Kang concludes with one final oath of the couple. The two of them promise to protect and maintain the peace of the Korean peninsula. Even if war breaks out, they are willing to believe in each other until the end. Jae Kang talks to the camera, asking if he’s pretty cool doing this?
Bong Goo grabs another tarot card and this time he gets the King of Swords. He cackles gleefully. Hang Ah and Jae Ha turns to look at each other before they answer yes to Jae Kang’s question. The Queen Mother has tears in her eyes. Everyone claps.
Thoughts of Mine:
I found the entire WOC arc just too cloddish and awkwardly executed to really bring the angst and tension that it should. What worked was the payoff, knowing that Jae Ha and Hang Ah have both learned to trust and rely on each other, and seeing how the Korean Team united to salvage a victory for Korea. I liked seeing Jae Ha, who we first met trying to whine his way out of an army simulation, actually showing off his military skills and stepping up big time as a soldier and team member. He wasn’t asked to turn into Rambo, he used his brains and think-outside-the-box strategy to find victory when all appeared lost. I’m glad the competition is over and that the Korean team got the empowering symbolic victory they needed.
Jae Shin really took a giant leap forward in this episode, both in terms of her feelings for Shi Kyung and her willingness to face her fears. She confessed she liked Shi Kyung and asked only that he help her become a woman who is worthy of him, though she probably doesn’t realize that she already is. I think he’s too overwhelmed right now to handle any emotional considerations, but its clear he really cares about her and has feelings for her as well, however impossible for him to identify at this point.
It’s pretty neat having Bong Goo and Jae Ha fighting each other openly, and talking to each other without beating around the bush. It’s really Jae Ha’s “You killed my brother, prepare to die” attitude that is always just simmering below the surface, waiting to exploit Bong Goo’s insecure nerves. Because Bong Goo is a villain with such deep pockets and far reaching tentacles, Jae Ha needs to get Bong Goo to strike before Jae Ha can take him out. It’s a dangerous course of action, but Jae Ha’s steady and sure rise to a King worthy to lead a country means that he continues to have more and more people support him. Looking back fifteen episodes ago, what a long way he’s come, and we’ve been along for the nail biting ride. With five more episodes to go, I’m steeling myself to continue to expect the unexpected. TK2H continues to win on the emotional story lines and wonderful acting that it hits all my sweet spots and satisfies every drama craving.