There is very little I can write here that won’t completely spoil episode 19 of The King 2 Hearts, so I’ll keep it short. This drama continues to climb towards a climax when most other dramas are crawling to a whimpering conclusion. A few more twists and turns are revealed, and the road to ever after for a King and Queen is still not a given. Faced with an opponent with unlimited financial means and influence, even when he’s outed as a murderer, Bong Goo doesn’t necessarily get his just desserts yet. I wanted all the angst to wrap up this episode so I could spend the final episode just watching the cute and happy. But it looks like I’m going to gear myself for more bumps even until the very end. I won’t be able to recap on my normal schedule tomorrow since I’ve got a flight to catch. If possible I’ll drop a baby recap, otherwise the recap will be up when it’s up when I land at the opposite coast.
Episode 19 recap:
Princess Jae Shin is attending a small birthday celebration for the head court lady. She is happy to be there, and gives a nice purse as a present, which makes the birthday lady quite pleased. Jae Shin smiles, remembering Shi Kyung’s homework for her to smile three times a day. Oh, my Koala sense is not liking what this is meant to juxtapose as foreshadowing.
Back to where the cliffhanger left off at the end of episode 18, which is literally taking place AT a cliff in China – Shi Kyung points a gun at Jae Ha, who stares back in shock and disbelief. Jae Ha is made to sit on a plush chair right across from Bong Goo, so Bong Goo can pretend they are two heads of state negotiating. Bong Goo repeats the same demand – abdicate his throne and break up with Kim Hang Ah.
Bong Goo threatens the people of South Korea if Jae Ha doesn’t comply, giving him 10-minutes to make up his mind. Hang Ah is in a car with her dad and she wants to go back, she’s worried about Jae Ha. Her dad assures her that Jae Ha will be fine, but Hang Ah reveals that she made a private promise with Jae Ha that she didn’t tell her dad about.
Jae Ha asks Shi Kyung if he really intends to shoot him? Shi Kyung admits that he was shaken before – when Jae Ha wanted to abdicate and when Jae Ha didn’t want him to come on this mission. But he didn’t serve Jae Ha because Jae Ha was the King, it was because Jae Ha never gives up even when faced with the most hopeless of circumstances. So True! Not necessarily Jae Ha being that tenacious, but more like he refuses to be practical and simply plows ahead on gut and grit alone when he sets his mind to it.
Shi Kyung tells Jae Ha that he’s made his choice, and his choice is…..Jae Ha. Shi Kyung turns the gun around and points it at Bong Goo, ordering everyone not to move. We flash back to Shi Kyung and Jae Ha planning his undercover mission and setting code words. Turns out the moment Shi Kyung called Jae Ha, he had already given the code, allowing for Jae Ha to send Dong Ha off to input the code into a computer and find out where Bong Goo is planning to take Jae Ha. Ah yeah, I love it.
Suddenly a bunch of soldiers and guards come rushing out on the cliff, the South Korean led by Dong Ha, and the North Koreans led by Young Bae. Immediately the tables have turned and Shi Kyung yells at Bong Goo’s out-numbered guards to lower their weapons NOW! The guards lower their weapons. Jae Ha says if asked to choose between himself or his country, he’s instead going to choose…Bong Goo. Checkmate.
We see Hang Ah calmly walking up to a lighthouse overlooking the cliff. She’s wearing a pretty feminine dress but carrying a sniper rifle. A woman of my heart. She deftly assembles the long range rifle and then looks through the eye piece and locks onto Bon Bon. Back on the cliff, everyone has put down their weapons except for Bon Bon, and Shi Kyung points his gun at her and tells her to put down her weapon.
Bon Bon slowly puts down her weapon, only to pull back up and attempt to shoot. Before she can pull the trigger, Hang Ah expertly shoots her in her gun arm so Bon Bon’s shot goes wild. Then she is pumped full of bullets by Shi Kyung and Jae Ha’s guards. Ding dong, the witch is dead. Bon Bon goes down all bloodied, twitching one last time for good measure.
Suddenly ICC agents arrive on the scene, obviously also having been alerted by Jae Ha earlier, and move to place Bong Goo under arrest. As they are arresting Bong Goo, Shi Kyung lowers his gun and turns to Jae Ha, and the two smile in relief and happiness. Bong Goo’s hand is handcuffed, but he suddenly pulls out a small derringer from behind his neck and shoots Shi Kyung.
WHAT!?!?!? Nooooooooooooooooooooo………… No no no. NO. It’s clear Bong Goo aimed for Shi Kyung purposely, and not Jae Ha, asking why Shi Kyung did this to him. Shi Kyung crumbles and Jae Ha grabs him. Jae Ha tells Shi Kyung to stop talking and calls for an ambulance.
Shi Kyung tells Jae Ha that this mission was his own choice, and he succeeded at it because Bong Goo has been captured. He reminds Jae Ha to never give up in the future. Jae Ha cries and screams at Eun Shi Kyung to not die. He keeps crying and telling Shi Kyung not to die. OMG, I cannot see through my tears. This is as bad if not worse than when Jae Kang died. Drama, you are so mean. I kinda hate you right now.
Shi Kyung flashes back to all his poignant memories with Jae Shin and his father. Shi Kyung takes his last breath and dies in Jae Ha’s arms. We see Dong Ha and Young Bae standing to the side, Team WOC almost all present. Hang Ah watched this all from her perch on the lighthouse.
After returning to South Korea, Hang Ah has the task of informing Jae Shin that Shi Kyung died. Jae Shin doesn’t believe her, Shi Kyung told her he was taking a vacation. He would never lie to her, and he promised to come back to her. He even gave her homework while he was away. Jae Shin cries, completely heartbroken, while Hang Ah holds her and cries as well.
Secretary Eun is sitting in Shi Kyung’s office, touching Shi Kyung’s name plate and looking around. It’s always heartbreaking when a white haired person sends off a black haired person. I suppose the Heavens are fair, now Secretary Eun and the Queen Mother are even in terms of losing a son.
Jae Ha walks inside and asks Secretary Eun if he thinks Jae Ha caused Shi Kyung death. Jae Ha also thinks that, Shi Kyung died because Jae Ha was the King, because he was serving Jae Ha. But because Jae Ha is the King, he can’t afford to think like that. Jae Ha asks what Secretary Eun thinks of him? He’s got a totally different personality than Shi Kyung, but will he do as a surrogate son? Jae Ha hugs Secretary Eun and tells him that he will be filial towards Secretary Eun in Shi Kyung’s stead, as if Secretary Eun was his own father.
Jae Ha, Secretary Eun, and a bevy of royal guards and military officials are all gathered at the cemetery for Shi Kyung’s service. It’s totally touching that he’s being honored and sent off with such honor and with the people who he loved and served with and for.
Dong Ha speaks up, asking Jae Ha to call Shi Kyung’s soul back since he died on an overseas mission. Jae Ha steps forward and orders Eun Shi Kyung to return to his troop and then salutes him. The guards give him a rifle send off.
Bong Goo sits across from the secretary of the ICC, who asks if there was a trick when the video was recorded. Oh COME ON! He asks Bong Goo if he tried to kill King Lee Jae Kang. Club M’s lawyers arrive and present a bail request for Bong Goo. Jae Ha finds out and says he can’t be freed on bail.
Daniel Craig tells Bong Goo that South Korea is objecting to his bail, claiming he is a strong flight risk. Bong Goo finds out powerful countries that have dealt with him in the past are not stepping up to help him, such as China, so he order Daniel Craig to start threatening those countries to back him up.
Hang Ah is at a public service event when she gets a call from the Queen Mother. After she chats and assures the Queen Mother that all is well, she gets a call from Jae Ha. He asks for a date after she’s done with her event, but she plays coy, claiming she’s too busy with wedding prep.
Hang Ah asks if they can date like a normal couple, go have coffee and walk around holding hands. They agree to meet up afterwards for a date. We see Jae Ha has saved a new picture of Hang Ah as his phone background.
Jae Ha gets a call from the US stating that over 200 politicians from various countries are putting together a petition for Bong Goo to get bail. The US guy says it’s a tragedy arresting Bong Goo since he’s indispensible to so many countries. Jae Ha retorts that Bong Goo is a murderer, but the US guy says it’s up to the court to make a judgment. He wants South Korea to help them on the bail petition, otherwise North Korea will experience more sanctions. Jae Ha refuses to play ball with the political needs of the US and China and he hangs up on the guy.
Jae Ha meets with some South Korean politicians, who say that refusing to grant bail to Bong Goo will affect the South Korean economy. This time Secretary Eun is on his side, saying they cannot agree to bail because Bong Goo will surely flee to a country without extradition laws. Bong Goo must face justice. Hang Ah walks by and overhears this.
Hang Ah sits down with her dad and asks if it’s true, that China has cut off aid to North Korea to pressure them? She tells him that Bong Goo can’t be released, doesn’t he know what Bong Good did to her? Her dad confesses North Korea is under immense pressure right now. Releasing Bong Goo on bail is technically something only South Korea cares about. Hang Ah tells him that protecting the King is her job, wasn’t he the one who told her to become a South Korean? Hang Ah begs him to be on her side, she loves South Korea.
Hang Ah finds Jae Ha all stressed out while reading documents in his room. Hang Ah walks in and tries to assure Jae Ha that everything will work out. He apologizes for not being able to keep his promise to bring Bong Goo to justice. Hang Ah tells Jae Ha that North Korea is on his side, and she’ll help as well. She can be a witness and testify before the ICC, since one of his alleged crimes is shattering the peace between North and South Korea.
Jae Ha doesn’t want her to do anything, just stay by her side until Bong Goo is punished. He is clearly worried about her and doesn’t want her to go anywhere. She wants to help him because right now there is no one else. She doesn’t want them to hide here because that would mean they are scared of Bong Goo. Hang Ah gets upset and stalks out.
Hang Ah grumbles about Jae Ha when she gets a call that she needs to head somewhere because there is an elderly person who needs to see her right now. Hang Ah gets out of the car at a completely dark location and the car drives off. Suddenly fireworks go off and all the lights come on in the pavilion before her, plus the water in the fountains all turn on. Jae Ha is standing there, doing his smooth guy thing. He walks up to her and apologizes her earlier.
Hang Ah smirks and asks “oh no, what is Kim Bong Goo suddenly shows up here”, pretending to be all scared. Jae Ha smiles, knowing she’s using his worry for her to mock him. He apologizes for always getting mad at her and speaking in a loud voice, and he’s sorry for that. He’s booked the entire amusement park for their date tonight. He tells her the reason he’s so afraid of losing her is because he’s nothing without her by his side. Hang Ah hugs him, and he hugs her back.
They climb on a roller coaster, though Hang Ah is initially reluctant and Jae Ha has to drag her on. After the ride, Hang Ah is super thrilled and wants to ride it again, while Jae Ha looks dazed and sick. They ride a car to tour an animal park, where Jae Ha feeds Hang Ah snacks.
As Jae Ha and Hang Ah are walking around the amusement park, suddenly he kneels down to tie her shoelaces. She looks down, completely touched.
Later they sit on a park bench. Hang Ah convinces Jae Ha to let her go testify, everything will work out. He confirms that she’s made up her mind and intends to go. She asks him not to see her just as a woman, but as someone who can assist him.
Jae Ha asks him how she plans to confront Bong Goo on the stand or if she sees him. He wants her to pretend that he’s Kim Bong Goo and practice. Hang Ah flips Jae Ha back on the bench and drives her arm into his neck, being all bad ass and fearless with “Bong Goo”. Jae Ha smiles and responds with the same words he said when she pinned him on the ground in the bathroom when they first met – I’ll do whatever you want, you just tell me what you want me to do. Heh, so cute. He relents and allows her to go, telling her to return in 3 days.
Hang Ah promises to come back safe and sound. Jae Ha gets up and pecks Hang Ah on the lips and she smiles. She leans in and returns the peck, which is when Jae Ha pulls her in for a long kiss.
Hang Ah walks into the ICC and greets the chief prosecutor of the ICC in charge of Bong Goo’s case. She starts her testimony and is curtly told to keep it short and simple. She’s then told that Bong Goo has been freed on bail twenty minutes ago because his health was deteriorating. Hang Ah is furious but nothing can be done. She’s told that the US is opposing them. When he gets up and leaves, Hang Ah asks why they are being disregarded. The douchy prosecutor says he deals with many countries, and there is no reason for him to speak with the North Korean delegation for more than two-minutes.
Hang Ah walks out of the ICC building when Bong Goo’s car pulls up and he gets out to talk with her. He asks if the North Koreans have gotten more powerful recently? Probably, since she got engaged to the South Korean King. Hang Ah looks him up and down, noting that he looks quite healthy. Bong Goo snerks that his heart is in pain. Hang Ah says that he ought to be in pain since he knows he’s about to go to prison.
Bong Goo asks how the wedding plans are coming along? Hang Ah says its coming along fine, as long as Bong Goo doesn’t disrupt it. He promises he will do so.
Jae Ha is in his office meeting with a US official, and asks in shock if Washington is planning military action against North Korea. The official says no, it’s just a physical action they are discussing at this time theoretically. Jae Ha says his video code word and starts the recording. The US official notes the video is on.
The US official refuses to divulge US military strategy to foreign countries. Jae Ha tells him that if Washington wants to invade North Korea, they will not be able to enter through South Korea.
Back to Bong Goo and Hang Ah, she tells him that Lee Jae Ha is a difficult opponent for him. He dismisses Jae Ha as just a King, as if he was just a street sweeper. Bong Goo advises Hang Ah to be docile and not cause waves. Bong Goo claims that he can see Hang Ah wavering in her eyes. Hang Ah calmly tells him that her training as a special ops agent taught her that her gaze was of upmost importance. Bong Goo leaves, not before telling Hang Ah that he’s sending an email to Jae Ha as a wedding present.
Secretary Eun discusses with Jae Ha and Hang Ah about tensions with other countries due to the North-South impending alliance. Jae Ha and Hang Ah get on a flight heading to visit other countries on their goodwill tour to win more allies.
Jae Shin is given a box by Dong Ha, who says it belonged to Shi Kyung and was intended for Jae Shin. It’s locked with a code, which Jae Shin cracks by entering her birthday. Inside is a video tape. OMG, it’s seriously a VIDEO TAPE. As in a VHS tape. Even better would be if Shi Kyung recorded it on Beta. Oh god, how out-dated is this silly boy. Oh Shi Kyung! I miss you dearly. We see Shi Kyung setting up this giant prehistoric video camera to record himself.
The video plays and Shi Kyung appears on the screen. He confesses that he initially wanted to write a letter but his writing was too ugly so…… He apologizes for the kiss earlier. He’s a coward, a stick-in-the-mud coward without any passion, so he was afraid the Princess would one day get tired of him. So he intended to just protect her, but it’s not working.
He started liking her from the first time he met her. She was so independent and free, so confident. All the things he was not. He knows he’s not suited for her. But if she sees this video………… No, she won’t ever see this video since he’s not intending to go on a suicide mission.
He promises to come back as a cool guy, come back with jokes to tell her. He will come back and tell her in person that he loves her. Jae Shin cries and cries and cries. I don’t blame her.
Bong Goo sits with Daniel Craig and discusses how Jae Ha is in Germany meeting with the Chancellor. They watch TV coverage of a bombing in the US that is being attributed to North Korea, with the bombers calling out “Death to the US” before blowing up a facility in Michigan and killing 40 US citizens. The douchey US official smiles to hear this news and calls the White House, demanding action for the North Korean attack.
Jae Ha is on a ship when Dong Ha runs out to show him news of the alleged North Korean terror attack on the US, with the US vowing physical retaliation as an option.
The North Korean Prime Minister meets with Hang Ah’s dad. The Prime Minister is pissed at Hang Ah’s dad for suggesting peace with South Korea in the first place. The South Korean President gets a call from the US joint command General in South Korea. Obviously is the US is prepared to take action.
The North Korean leaders are gathered watching South Korean news to hear how South Korea is reacting to be caught in the middle. They are upset to hear the South Koreans are cooperating with the US. The Prime Minister of North Korea orders action to be taken. We see the royal guards gathered to watch North Korean news reports that if the US attacks Pyeongyang, then the North will attack South Korea.
Dong Ha gets call about this tense situation. He’s told to get Jae Ha off the ship first and keep Hang Ah behind, because her dad is here to speak with her. Hang Ah and Jae Ha are initially confused but Hang Ah tells Jae Ha to go first, she’ll follow shortly.
Jae Ha disembarks and is taken away in a motorcade while Hang Ah watches from the ship railing. Her dad walks up to her but he looks solemn. It’s raining outside and Jae Ha dozed off during the drive. Hang Ah is in a car with her dad and notes that their car is not headed back to Seoul.
Jae Ha is driven not back to the Palace, but to base where a group of South Korean military leaders walk out and greet him. He asks what is going on, and Dong Ha tells him that war is breaking out. North Korea is preparing to attack Seoul.
Hang Ah is taken to the North-South border and forcefully dragged by her father back to the North. Hang Ah’s dad sadly tells her that war has broken out between North and South Korea so she needs to go back with him now. Jae Ha screams at Dong Ha, asking him where Hang Ah is right no! Hang Ah struggles, calling for Comrade Lee Jae Ha.
Thoughts of Mine:
Let’s discuss the giant ten-ton gorilla in the room first – the death of our beloved earnest little puppy Eun Shi Kyung. Surpised? Shocked? Enraged? Swearing off this drama forever? I’d say the writer did a great job of developing Shi Kyung as such a rich and meaningful character, staid and stoic, but everything good and decent about being a human being. He had courage and conviction, patience and thoughtfulness. He was a great son, friend, servant, and potential love interest. He left an imprint on me as strong as the main characters, making me cry buckets for the passing of a fictional character.
Was it necessary to kill him off? No, of course not. His death was not necessary to drive the narrative forward (like Jae Kang’s death), nor was needed as a catalyst to make characters reach a turning point. His death felt so meaningless and so cruel, which is how death always feel. Dramas like to write deaths like it has some overarching purpose, like we should expect it. But death of a beloved person is never expected nor do we care about its greater reason. We just hurt, hurt so much as we scream “why” over and over again. But the drama doesn’t owe us a “why”. His death didn’t need to have any meaning, as long as it was a logical development in the story, then that is what happens. It hurts, but the story doesn’t fall apart because we’re not given some grand purpose for Shi Kyung to die.
I’m upset at the drama but not angry at it. It’s rips me apart to know that Shi Kyung is gone, no longer there to be a friend and confidant to Jae Ha, to be a good son to his father, to be a good boyfriend to Jae Shin. If I tally up all the pain Bong Goo has inflicted on the royal family, it sickens me to the core. But as a villain he is truly a sociopath and it’s been a long time since a drama dared to have the villain keep inflicting more and more pain even as the drama nears the end. It wasn’t surprising that Bong Goo had another gun hidden or that he would use his last hurrah to take out Shi Kyung, who played him. Plus Bong Goo relishes in hurting Jae Ha any way he can. This was a devastating blow indeed.
I’m a bit dehydrated from all that crying, and somewhat numb inside if I think back to what I’ve gone through with TK2H’s for the last 19 episodes. It’s quite a roller coaster ride, yes? Am I disappointed Shi Kyung won’t get his happy ending, complete with Jae Shin by his side and a newfounded appreciation of his life after getting out from under his father’s shadow? Absolutely. But that disappointment isn’t in the drama electing to kill him off, the drama didn’t overreach and make his death improbable or out-of-the-blue. He’s the King’s right hand man directly in the line of fire when fighting a powerful mad man. He knew his life was on the line, and he did everything he could in his duty and to try and make it out alive. He didn’t, and for that I mourn him and miss him. But I don’t hate the drama for going there.
But then here comes the conspiracy theory – and I’m only going here because the PD recently said to the media to expect huge surprises and twists in the finale. What if Shi Kyung didn’t die but his death was made public so he could be considered dead by the world. Bong Goo clearly has it out for him, so that makes him no longer a target. And if he’s “dead”, he can operate under the fringes and potentially take out Bong Goo if the legal channels refuse to act. Since the ICC is a gutless institution and the major countries like the US and China don’t necessarily want to see Bong Goo taken out, perhaps the only route is to assassinate him. And phantom Shi Kyung is the perfect choice to do so. Of course, this is purely a theory based on zero evidence and would require Jae Ha and Shi Kyung to have planned quite a lot behind the scenes. But hey, just throwing it out there as a possibility. I would be thrilled if he could suddenly pop up alive in episode 20, but I’ve made my peace if it turns out he did indeed die in the line of duty.
As for the OTP of Hang Ah and Jae Ha, I continue to love them to pieces. I hope this war is just a feint, because I can’t handle too much angst when the OTP are apart since I’m all angst out from this episode already. I love how Jae Ha wants to protect her above all else, and how Hang Ah wants to protect him above all else. They have come a long way since their first meeting and ended with him on the floor in a bathroom and her threatening to kill him. I’ve loved this journey every step of the way, and I’m ready to send it off with a fond farewell tomorrow.