Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love Episode 12 Recap

With episode 12 of Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love, the rumblings of the last few episodes are finally complete in its transformation. This drama has jumped the shark, people! It is now no longer a fusion sageuk romance with thoughtful political intrigue and subtle power plays. It’s now a full blown daily makjang drama wearing pretty hanboks and produced with the money and quality of a prime time drama. If the ratings don’t rise because of this then I have no choice but to accept the domestic audience hates a complicated and sympathetic Jang Ok Jung, because otherwise the makjang is through the roof now. Everyone is suddenly shouting, screaming, publicly battling, and making decisions without any careful consideration. Episode 12 reminded me so much of those daily drama moments where the mother-in-law hates her daughter-in-law and spends time devising pointless but cruel put downs, all while the poor hapless son is caught in the middle. I have to preface by saying I’ll probably keep watching JOJ despite this drama going off the rails of its original trajectory, made all the more obvious by being MIDWAY done and still Jae Hee’s second male lead has not appeared. Forget feeling bad for him as an actor, clearly there was some major script reworking going on.

if this is what the brain trust decided to turn JOJ into, then I’m game to see how it all unfolds. But the love is gone, I can’t even feel the passionate tumultuousness between Ok Jung and Lee Soon. Their love was supposed to be the emotional centerpiece of this story, so that we feel how the world is against them as they strive to find a measure of simple happiness together. Now I just think Lee Soon is a terrible thoughtless King, one who hasn’t a clue about how to balance all the elements and find the right way to earn his love with Ok Jung. As the King he’s not supposed to have simple happiness, his father’s dying words explained that love is a luxury and not a right as the ruler of Joseon. Yet Lee Soon tries to cram his love with Ok Jung down everyone’s throats, all while treating his classy Queen with no respect and thumbing his noses at the ministers in power. How can I root for him when I think he’s an idiot? I hope the drama rights itself in at least making Lee Soon more strategic, because right now Ok Jung is the brains of this show.

Episode 12 recap:

Dowager Queen Kim orders Ok Jung forced fed medicine that will sterilize her and keep her from bearing a child for the King. Ok Jung struggles and manages to grab the jade knife that was a present from Great Dowager Queen Jo and holds it against her neck, threatening to kill herself.

Dowager Queen Kim is stunned by her intensity and realizes she will not get away with this if Ok Jung ends up dead. She backs down and leaves with her maids.

Great Dowager Queen Jo actually arrived in time to intervene but she doesn’t once she sees Ok Jung pull the suicide threat. The Palace is a dangerous place and Ok Jung needs to learn to survive on her way. Her only security is to bear a son for the King so she is right in fighting back, because if she chose her life rather than the ability to bear a son, then Great Dowager Queen Jo will discard her as well.

Ok Jung goes back to her quarters and finds Lee Soon anxiously looking for her. She hugs him and cries while he worriedly asks what happened?

Dowager Queen Kim goes back to her quarters and voices her realization that Jang Ok Jung is stronger and more formidable an opponent than she thought. She calls her “the witch of all witches”. LOL. She asks if Ok Jung will tattle to Lee Soon but her court lady says no because she knows better than to meddle in mother-son affections.

Lee Soon holds Ok Jung’s hand and puts her to bed. He keeps asking what happened by Ok Jung says nothing, only that she was out for a walk and was so happy to see him. He doesn’t believe her and she assures him that no one would dare harm the King’s woman in the Palace. He allows her to maintain her silence but when she wants to tell him, know that he will always be on her side. She asks him to keep her company until she falls asleep. Lee Soon asks Court Lady Uhm to take good care of Ok Jung and leaves. Afterwards he asks his eunuch to check on the status of the project, he wants it done as quickly as possible.

It’s morning time and looks like Ok Jung didn’t sleep a wink. She thinks back to the whole laundry list of mistreatment she has endured, from being tossed out of the Palace, almost getting burned alive, and now almost forcefully sterilized. She vows to herself that one day Dowager Queen Kim will pay for what she’s done to her. She decides that she cannot tell Lee Soon what his mother did to her, one day she will make his mother confess. She vows to give birth to the cutest most beloved grandson for Dowager Queen Kim.

Minister Min dines with Minister Kim to discuss what is happening with the King and his women. Minister Min claims that when Queen In Kyung died, she died horribly because Lee Soon was already shacking up with Jang Ok Jung. He even embraced Queen In Kyung on her deathbed with Ok Jung beside her. That’s a smart move, turn Minister Min angry at his former son-in-law. He tells Minister Min they need to make up and not let the King drive a wedge in the Soron faction. Minister Min says if the King has cut off their funds through the liquor trade, they will cut off his source of funds.

At Court the next morning, Minister Min brings up stopping the use of coins and letting the peasants revert to bartering goods in trade. Minister Jo says the Qing dynasty is already well in control of their coin currency. Minister Min says the use of coins is pushing the citizens into poverty. Lee Soon asks if he has proof? Minister Kim suddenly arrives and says there is proof with the influx of counterfeit coins into the market.

Minister Kim dumps out a bag of counterfeit coins, saying it is driving prices higher and sending the citizens into poverty. The Sorons urge him to stop the use of coin currency despite it being a source of funds for the royal family. Lee Soon is pushed into a corner.

Lee Soon later asks why Minister Kim is not aligned with him anymore? Minister Kim says he is following his own beliefs. Minister Jo urges Lee Soon not to get rid of coin currency and he agrees since it will ruin his other plans. He tells Minister Jo that he plans to go to the market to check himself and also to meet with Jang Hyun.

Jang Hyun is holding a meeting in his residence with business associates and subordinates. Some minions overstep and congratulate him on soon becoming the father-in-law to the King and says they don’t need to work has hard. Jang Hyun smacks him down.

Jang Hyun picks up a coin and says he loves it because one’s birth is ordained by Heavens but coin and power belongs to those who obtain it first. He is interested in having more control over the flow of currency in Joseon, as a way to garner from favor from Lee Soon.

Some court ladies are walking through the Palace at night and get spooked thinking they are ghostly fires floating, which really is the lamplight being held by guards. But this gets everyone nervous and worried.

In Ok Jung’s residence, she hears from Court Lady Uhm that Lee Soon is planning a romantic outing for them and he’s built a residence just for her.

Lee Soon goes to see Queen In Hyun to discuss the Soron’s opposition to his latest reforms. In Hyun was worried hearing about the conflict but Lee Soon says conflict is what drives progress in the nation. Lee Soon says a King needs to be fair and apportion jobs to his ministers to help run the country. She is no longer the daughter of a minister but is instead his wife and member of the royal family, and she needs to start thinking of their position first.

Lee Soon’s eunuch comes to get Ok Jung and leads her to a date with Lee Soon. All long the way there are candles lighting the path, and when Ok Jung arrives at a new residence Lee Soon is waiting for her.

Ok Jung and Lee Soon spend a romantic night out in the garden amidst the candle light. He embraces her and shares his dreams of living together in their own new residence and having a rabbit warren of babies.

Ok Jung realizes that the ghost fires occurring recently were simply workmen building late in the night. She worries building this will cause strife in court but he says he will handle it. Ok Jung looks worried.

The court opposes Lee Soon giving a Court Lady a residence, so Lee Soon says he can just made her a royal consort so that she matches up to the residence. Minister Min brings up that King Hyeonjong never elevated a court lady that received his attention to such a high rank.

Lee Soon laughs that he loves Ok Jung more than that and he’s going to make her a fourth-level Consort. He tells all the ministers that they are men so they ought to understand. All the ministers kneel to beg him not to do it which only enrages Lee Soon more that they are trying to control even his personal life. He says this residence was build with his personal funds so they have no say and he doesn’t want to hear another word of opposition from them.

Lee Soon gets his way and Ok Jung is elevated to fourth-level Consort. She is led out in purple noble robes with her hair piled high to receive the royal decree.

Ok Jung hears the royal decree read to her and kneels to accept the royal honor. All the maids and court ladies bow deeply to her and congratulate her on being elevated.

At the new residence, Ok Jung has tears in her eyes and Lee Soon comes to join her. They holds hands and walk inside. Queen In Hyun stands outside looking very resigned.

Hee Jae informs his mom that Ok Jung has been elevated to fourth-level Consort. Mom is shocked that her daughter could attain such status in Palace. Hee Jae has grander dreams that Ok Jung will continue to rise through the ranks, and will summon him into the Palace soon to assist her.

Ok Jung goes to pay her respects to Great Dowager Queen Jo in her new status. Great Dowager Queen Jo is ecstatic that the Norons will rise again under Ok Jung. But she grows somber and reminds Ok Jung that all her glory comes from having the King’s love, but she’s in a dangerous place since Dowager Queen Kim hates her. To cement her position in the Palace, she must bear a son for the King.

Ok Jung goes to pay her respects to Dowager Queen Kim, who flat out refuses to receive her. She demeans Ok Jung’s new position and refuses to acknowledge her and says she is nothing but a low born court maid. Dowager Queen Kim calls her a woman who will bring strife to the Palace. Ok Jung orders the maid to announce her again.

Ok Jung goes to pay her respects to Queen In Hyun, who receives her graciously albeit coolly. In Hyun asks if she did not present herself to Dowager Queen Kim? In Hyun suggests this will take time and Ok Jung’s genuine heart will touch Dowager Queen Kim one day. In Hyun has planned a party for Ok Jung’s ascension and Ok Jung thanks In Hyun for being so gracious.

Dowager Queen Kim is annoyed In Hyun is too nice and throwing Ok Jung a banquet, as long as she is alive she will humiliate Ok Jung. She orders a meeting of all the court ladies.

As Ok Jung walks through the Palace, she appears to spot Court Lady Joo, the one who arranged her abduction. She chases after the woman but loses sight of her. She finds out from Court lady Uhm than her banquet for her rank promotion is empty because Dowager Queen Kim pulled everyone away.

Prince Dongpyung meets with Lee Soon, who asks why he’s not visiting the Palace lately? Prince Dongpyung makes excuses that he’s too busy enjoying life. Lee Soon sighs that the ministers are really stepping all over him and he needs Prince Dongpyung’s help. He wants him to attend court. Prince Dongpyung says he is not allowed to attend court as a member of the royal family.

Lee Soon will make it happen and asks Prince Dongpyung to think about it. Lee Soon changes the topic to how happy he is to have Ok Jung by his side. He invites Prince Dongpyung to a banquet celebrating Ok Jung’s elevation to fourth-grade Consort. Prince Dongpyung makes an excuse and declines.

Dowager Queen Kim holds a banquet to meet and greet with all the court ladies and women of the Palace with rank. Queen In Hyun is there but fourth-level Consort Ok Jung is purposely not given an invitation. Court Lady Uhm wants to discourage Ok Jung from crashing the party but Ok Jung insists she has the right to be there. Ok Jung crashes the party claiming she is there to pay her respects to Dowager Queen Kim, who uses the chance to publicly humiliate Ok Jung again.

Ok Jung gets angry and talks back, telling Dowager Queen Kim that she may be a Noron but she is still a beloved member of the King’s back Palace. Queen In Hyun tries to defuse the situation and tell Ok Jung to leave for now, she’ll throw her another banquet later. Ok Jung refuses and instead chews In Hyun out for being the Queen but not stopping the Dowager Queen for such breach of Palace etiquette. Dowager Queen Kim loses it and orders Ok Jung seized!

Lee Soon arrives at that very moment and screams at what is happening. He angrily tells his mom that he elevated Ok Jung’s rank properly and she is a member of the back Palace so Dowager Queen Kim cannot treat her this way. Lee Soon is upset that even the usual classy Queen In Hyun is part of this plot to humiliate Ok Jung. He tells his mother that Ok Jung isn’t just his consort, her role is a member of the back Palace and assist Queen In Hyun.

Lee Soon grabs Ok Jung’s hand and leaves, which is when Dowager Queen Kim spits up blood and faints. She orders him to get rid of that woman and demands to know how he could talk to his own mother this way.

Dowager Queen Kim is being tended to by the royal physicians while Lee Soon and In Hyun keep vigil by her bedside.

The Sorons are meeting and think up a brilliant plan to use Dowager Queen Kim’s illness and this incessant rain as an excuse to get ride of Jang Ok Jung. Minister Min claims that history shows that floods are caused by the misbehavior of the lord. Minister Kim says its enough just to blame the weather on her, so they add to it the illness of Dowager Queen Kim which happened when she got upset at Ok Jung. These guys are pretty good schemers.

Lee Soon receives official proposals claiming that Consort Jang is an evil seductress who has brought strive and danger to the Palace. They beg the King to get rid of her. Lee Soon reads all the requests to get rid of Ok Jung and is furious. He asks if getting rid of Consort Jang will cure all the problems in the country. Minister Min fans the flames and says that if she’s not disposed of, then even the scholars in Sungkyunkwan will revolt.

Ok Jung walks with Prince Dongpyung in the Palace says that the rumors about her are getting out of hand. She’s supposedly a snake demon wearing human skin who has seduced the King. Ok Jung knows they want to get rid of her because she presents the hope of the Noron faction to return to power.

Ok Jung intends to use political backing to cement her position in the back Palace, and her only source of support is the Noron faction. Ok Jung reveals that she is doing to kneel before Dowager Queen Kim to beg forgiveness. Minister Min and the Sorons discuss their need to get rid of her before she grows stronger. Tomorrow they will get the Sungkyunkwan scholars to join in their calls to get rid of her by holding a sit-in and refusing to go to Court for morning session.

Lee Soon goes to talk with Prince Dongpyung about how all around him are the calls to get rid of Ok Jung, and even though he is King he cannot protect her. He thanks Prince Dongpyung for doing what he can to protect her.

Ok Jung is dressed in all white with her hair down in a simple braid. When she walks out, Minister Min happens to walk by and Ok Jung stops him.

The next scene has Ok Jung kneeling before a grass mat in front of Dowager Queen Kim’s chambers begging forgiveness. Dowager Queen Kim ignores her and lets her continue kneeling.

Court Lady Joo is captured.

A flashback shows up that before Ok Jung went to speak with Minister Min, she went to meet with Jang Hyun and told him her suspicions about Court Lady Joo. She asks him to capture her.

Dowager Queen Kim continues to ignore Ok Jung, who continues her atonement vigil and is close to collapsing by the next day. She then hears from Court Lady Uhm that the Soron ministers have called off their sit-in and are in Court.

The Soron faction wonders why Minister Min is not meeting with them to lead the discussions on getting rid of Consort Jang, and instead they are told to call if off and go to Court as usual. Minister Min is at home and furious that Jang Ok Jung dare threaten him

Turns out Ok Jung told Minister Min before she went to kneel that she knew he was behind her abduction using Court Lady Joo. She has told her uncle Jang Hyun to find her, and once she does, the King will know what Minister Min tried to do in killing her. She offers to make a fair trade – she’ll forget what he did to her if he calls off the sit-in that is aimed at getting rid of her.

Minister Min realizes that Ok Jung has his by the balls and capitulates and calls off the Soron faction sit-in. He tells her that she must forget this ever happened and if she ever brings it up again then her life will be in danger. Ok Jung laughs and says of course. Minister Min clenches his fist in anger and you know its ON between him and Ok Jung.

Ok Jung calls out to Dowager Queen Kim that the sit-in is over and the King can return to work. She tells her to hurry up and heal so she can discipline Ok Jung, but to remember to have affection even to someone she despises. Dowager Queen Kim comes rushing out and is angry that Ok Jung appears taunting her. Dowager Queen Kim says she will never ever accept Ok Jung, the witch who stole her son from her.

Ok Jung says Dowager Queen Kim lost her son to a woman, but she almost could bear a son because of the medicine the Queen almost forced her to drink. So who has more reason to be angry? Ok Jung sees that Lee Soon has arrived from the corner of her eye and she quickly starts crying and adopting a victim attitude. She says that she would never dare to threaten the Dowager Queen, in fact she’s never going to reveal that the Dowager Queen tried to force her to drink sterilization medicine so she cannot bear a child for the King. She understands the Queen did it to preserve the traditions of the Palace that a Court Lady could not bear the son of a King.

Lee Soon hears this and is stunned.

Dowager Queen Kim admits she did that and Lee Soon hears it all. He storms over furious and demands to know how his mother could do that, and why Ok Jung didn’t tell him? He demands that Ok Jung tell him the truth right now, while Ok Jung cries very prettily and asks the King to put her to death.

Thoughts of Mine:

LOL, where should I even start? Did almost every single character have a lobotomy in the last few episodes? A character transplant from deliberate and delicate to wielding giant hammers of obviousness? Let me say that Queen In Hyun has turned out to be the most watchable character for me – her thought process makes sense, her behavior is consistent, and her motivations are understandable. She is the gold standard in character development in this drama. Conversely Dowager Queen Kim (and in some instances Great Dowager Queen Jo) appear like she-bats out of hell flapping their wings and cackling around the Palace. It was okay in small doses in earlier episodes, but now it’s just out of control. There is not a shred of resemblance to even the “sageuk” portion of this fantasy re-telling of the life of Jang Ok Jung. It really is a daily drama masquerading as a interesting sageuk, except its no longer interesting. I want to send Lee Soon to Kingly re-education boot camp, because he’s seriously a total inept moron when it comes to getting what he wants in the confines of his life. He wants Ok Jung? He needs to work with his enemies to get them to accept her, not shove her down everyone’s throat. He’s winning battles but totally losing the war, and for that I’ve lost all interest in him (for now). He’s like a child who spends all his time playing with his favorite toy and forgets he has a country to run.

I’m more ambivalent about Ok Jung’s transformation. I don’t find it forced though it did feel rather abrupt, but it is understandable given how much mistreatment she endured at the hands of Minister Min and Dowager Queen Kim. What I’m pondering is how drastically she went dark, how she seems to be relishing winning over her opponents rather than the ultimate goal of becoming powerful for the sake of her security in the Palace. Old Ok Jung was so Candy-esque I didn’t see even that inkling of smirky satisfaction in her, yet now she appears to be an old hand at it. In electing to make her orchestrate her own rise to power, it does empower the female lead though conversely it makes Lee Soon seem like a tool of the women around him. Prince Dongpyung has also completely disappeared from the narrative, while poor Hyun Chi Soo probably got lost on his way back from the Qing dynasty hence he can’t show up in this drama. What really annoyed me the most, and is really the backbone of those daily dramas and my beef with them, is how heavy-handed all the plotting and backstabbing that was going on here. Sageuks are all about subtle strategic scheming, and right now that has been thrown out the window. To get what everyone wants, there are different ways of going about it. Everyone appears to be choosing the scream very loud and make lots of threats method. For a drama where initially all the characters appeared intelligent and scarily competent, it’s now staffed with people competing to see which one falls flat first. What a disappointment JOJ has turned out to be as it heads into the second half.

© 2013, ockoala. All rights reserved.

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Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love Episode 12 Recap — 50 Comments

  1. thats sad to hear. im guessing the ratings had a should impact on the rewrite of this script.. too bad. i wonder what could have been if the ratings were higher in the beginning. :(

  2. One thing that has been bothering me the past few episodes, aside from the makjang switch is how shoddy the camera work has been.

    The camera work in the first 10 episodes was actually really good. The previous 2 episodes have some really terrible and in your face shots. I wonder if they actually had a really great script which they butchered in the last minute and then hurriedly film. There is a considerable drop in standard which is disappointing given how promising this drama was and still can be.

    How ironic the domestic ratings have increased as most of the koalasplayground community simultaneously agree with the drop in quality and the ill-fitting makjang elements. Why would anyone prefer this over the masterful first 9 episodes of the series?

    Still crossing my fingers that this is just an off week for the drama. Otherwise I am going to sob buckets of tears that one of the most promising dramas of the year was butchered to suit the tastes of the domestic, remote control yielding viewers.

  3. Watched without subs and I couldn’t stand KTH’s graling eyes. From work of art and hidden gem to makjang fest. I could see it coming. I feel sorry for the scriptwriter who’s work being butchered for the sake of ratings. Feel sorry for the PD and all actors who’ve worked hard and I know they enjoyed the process. And even when the producers turned this piece of work to crap, ratings for this episode fell down. I’m sensing a cut off, no more 24 eps. And don’t expect CS or Dongyi to appear. I guess Jaehee is glad he didn’t have to. However, I’ll keep watching JOJ only for Yoo Ah In.

  4. The first nine episodes I thought this was the best Korean drama I had ever watched. The 10th was a let down and now I may just read your recaps and not bother to watch and eventually drop the whole thing! As you said, “Only it’s not interesting!”

  5. On the bright side: at least the ministers and the king still have government things to discuss, with all the currency/coins debate. I’m interested in political issues here more than the domestic cat fights.

    • YaY! I do agree, from now I think it’ll be the same in ‘Dong Yi’, Dowager Queen will die, Ok Jung gives birth to the first Prince then she becomes Jang Hee Bin.
      I’ll still carry on watching it for my beloved SIK.

  6. I have been trying to contain my disappointment. It was like the first 10 episodes were a whole different drama all together. After today, I know for sure it’s like watching a daily or a weekend drama. The evil folks do super evil things, are loud about it and get away with it until a point where the truth comes out but does that stop them? No! They will come back with even crazier things. Trust me. If one dies, there will another one to fill in their place. I am so tired of these crazy makjang circles. I just had too much hope in the reintrepretation of JOJ. I have to just step back from this.

    While OJ is doing this a lot for the king’s benefit, I still don’t see a lot of difference from dong yi’s intrepretation of JOJ. I felt like I was watching Dong Yi. Lots of screaming, crying and scheming and a weak king in the center of it. Meanwhile, it’s the women who are cat fighting back and forth. Blech… Not what I wanted to see again.

    Sigh… I am seeing a really low increase in ratings… What a worse way to go. Has CS been written out completely? :(

  7. The day that I scare the most is come. By the end of episode 9, I already know this drama will turn like this. OJ’s glare to In Hyun is unusual and vindictive. This project annoys me the most after it hit 9 episode, PDs, writer, cast and crew be charged for everything for the shake of good rating. People needs to be payed after all. I’m not going to blame anyone here.
    I just hope can help us to translate the novel and we’re can understand what is the main trajectory which is far from mak-jang phase. So i can make my own imagination for this drama, where OJ is a lady that fight for her pure love and LS is the King who rules Joseon who really love OJ

  8. I’m sad that they have to resort to this for ratings. I guess it kind of works because the ratings have improved a bit.

  9. I was wondering why this drama was not a hit in Korea, this is one of the best watch drama in the Phils. Thanks a lot KOALA for bringing an early review. Truly appreciate your effort. Sincerely love you!

  10. I agree that Okjung’s transformation in the last few episodes gave me whiplash from the abruptness, but am I actually starting to dig her role as a femme fatale done right (ahem..well, at least it’s better than Miss Ripley’s characterization of one…). Other than that, the growing makjang of the palace drama is giving me a headache. What happened to the cool and calculating Lee Soon? Don’t even get me started with where the heck Chi Soo is. Sigh, I guess this drama’s [more or less] solid start was too good to be true.

  11. ugh, I’m so glad were on the same page koala and I appreciate you just throwing out all its flaws.
    seriously, the reason why I am so disappointed iis the fact that I love JOJ, loved its first 10 episodes, and with any show you love, the second it strays from perfection you can’t help but feel like someone let you down, even if this show didnt owe me anything to begin with. What the heck is with this sudden change in genre?? Is it the ratings?? The writers proved us she can do subtle but now everything is full blown Makjang. It’s obvious there have been major changes in the script since chi soo was supposed to show up in ep.6, and sukbin in this episode.
    I am crying buckets of tears because JOJ was MY underdog show… Which I shared with the small and passionate fan base. As JOJ goes downhill in quality, ratings rise… And you have not one, but severall unhappy international campers.
    I still have about an ounce left of hope for the next episodes to improve but I highly doubt it, considering the path this show is taking…..
    I was so glad to fully immerse myself in the world of JOJ after finals so this is a huge disappointment

  12. I actually don’t think the “makjang” a bad thing at all. This is the Jang Ok Jung I was looking forward to the moment I heard about the show. Yes, the transformation itself is a tad jarring and the actions of the Dowager Kim is hands down insane, but the Ok Jung is exactly where she needs to be. She’s an intelligent woman, and she will only take the mistreatment for so long. True Candy-girls are most likely airheads, and in the context of the politics of a palace, this is fits right in. She’s a real person. The interactions between the members of the palace are also very real. Really, the only thing truly makjang about this is Dowager Kim’s antics (which I think are just childish at this point). The actions of Jang Ok Jung, on the other hand, not makjang. She’s taking the insanity of the palace and spinning it to her benefit.

    Royalty do crazy things for power folks, it nothing more than that.

    In my opinion Sukjong of history was as much an idiot as Lee Soon is here and I’m glad they’re keeping him an idiot. There is no way the madness that went on in the palace if he actually had common sense along with the political mind he has. When it comes to women, he’s a complete dunce.

    In-hyeon and Ok-jung are my favorites here. These ladies are smart and playing the game right.

      • *madness would have occurred had he actually had common sense along with a political mind.

        Boy am I making mistakes today.

    • I second that. If this story is gonna stay true to the historical facts, then this is JOJ and SJ based on the written history. One ambitious woman and one crazy king, despite my first hope that the novel will give justice to their characters by “re-imagining/re-telling” their story.

      • Yoo Ah In DID mention before he’ll be a bad guy in this drama. These are well known historical characters, therefore I don’t see how the main players’ characters can be written differently, yet fit into the actual history.

        I think someone mentioned in Soompi that the title of this drama is JOJ, Live in Love. Whatever she’s doing now, she is doing (in the hope of) securing her love. She’s a victim of consequences.

      • I think that the real re-imagining going on here is making JOJ sympathetic. And the show has done it very well. History has painted her as a villainess; but here, she’s just fighting to survive.

  13. This week’s episodes really had me reeling. How is this a retelling of Jang Ok Jung’s tale if they are just going to spin it like every other story? The writer seems to have rewrote the script to satisfy the local audience. Which isn’t wrong, but it’s also not what they were trying to sell the drama as in the first place. I really wanted a creative retelling of a popular historical topic, like BBJX did with Yong Zheng’s ascension. It’s been a real letdown.

    I can accept Ok Jung turning sly and cunning, but she is manipulating Lee Soon without him knowing it. It’s a complete U-turn from 2 episodes ago, where they were in love and happy. In Hyun continues to gain my respect as she seems like the only person who remains grounded. Don’t even get me started on the Queen Dowager. I thought I might throw something at the computer at all her shouting.

  14. I can’t help but wonder how amazing this drama would be if a cable station picked it up instead. They would not have cared about ratings. Honestly, after ep 6 I felt it going down the drain. Its basically a fanservice drama. Nothing different to MoonSun, or To the Beautiful You. I’m just so disappointed that there is still no Jaehee. Yes, I’m a butt hurt fan, but I don’t see what everyone else sees with this drama. But thank you koala unnie for the recaps. Saves me a lot of time :’)

  15. Thanks for the recap Koala. For me the drama peaked at episode 8 and then calmed down in episode 9 and 10. It is disappointing to see the drama move in a completely different direction when it was going swimmingly well previously. However, I’m already invested in the show due to the beautiful past episodes and so I will continue watching it for the sake of seeing JOJ and QIH,whom as you say has been consistent so far.

    I’m sad to see the drama departing from it’s subtle and beautiful direction and descending into the usual makjang which I now tend to avoid. Sigh, I’ve had to change to a different thinking cap now when I watch this drama to enjoy this show and thankfully it’s working for me. So I was pleased with episode 12 and it gave me closure for the transformation of this show that was beginning to unravel from episode 10. I’m keeping this hat on right till the end, though I wouldn’t mind if they kept to the previous pace and writing as in episode 1-8.

  16. To be quite frank, I really don’t mind Ok Jung’s sudden badassery, for the lack of a better word. Yeah, this drama was great with her being the shy but quietly noble poor daughter of a slave who fell for the handsome king. But as I mentioned before, that romance went a little too fast for me since he basically learnt her name by one episode and then slept with her in the next. Nevertheless, I still really do like this drama. I’ve taken to reading your recaps rather than actually watching it though for reasons other than the political and family drama of the show. I will eventually get around to it but right now, not quite yet. I know for sure that should the MIA Chi Soo ever decide to deign an episode with his presence, I’ll definitely be there to witness the moment I’ve been waiting for since Episode 2 when they put everything in place for his arrival and then – nada.
    Yoo Ah In is as beautiful as he ever is but Lee Soon, while adorable in his love for Ok Jung, is giving me a bit of a headache. Seriously, where did the unfeeling king go? I get it; he fell in love but that doesn’t mean he’s lost his brain, only his heart. Though that seems to have taken away other crucial aspects of his anatomy. And boy, does Ok Jung know how to play on his little besotted heart as evidenced from that last scene. His witch of a mother did deserve it however. Someone who does not deserve his disdain is his wife -oh you know, Lee Soon, In Hyun? Really, they – Ok Jung, Lee Soon AND In Hyun- could do so much good together in this since Ok Jung’s got the brains and manipulative talents, In Hyun’s got the charm and queenly goodness and Lee Soon – well, he’s the king so he’s basically the power. And Dongpyung…I’ve never been mum on my admiration for Lee Sang Yeob in this drama and his character is forever being overlooked and mistreated. At least in my opinion. Must Lee Soon glorify over obtaining Ok Jung in front of the poor man? And must Ok Jung constantly play on the man’s sympathies? He’s acting as another layer of protection for her mainly because he loves both her and the king. Does he get no reward in this?
    I still recall seeing somewhat of a bromance between Dongpyung and Chi Soo in the opening of the drama. Is it ever going to happen? I dare to hope.
    Well, JOJ, it’s been an interesting run thus far. 12 episodes gone, 12 more to go! Hopefully, the story regains some of the innocent charm that it had before rather than the palace bacchanal.
    And Koala, once again, THANK YOU so much for your updates! And you do them so fast too! I’m so grateful for you!

  17. While this sounds way over the top, at the same time, I can see s situation like this, wife, concubine, in laws, all turning into a right royal mess.

  18. I don’t know I actually like this.. I thought the storyline is supposed to be like this.. You know how she went from nice to slowly evil for revenge? I thought that was the premise? The ratings went up though so I guess citizens like evil Jang ok Jung. Or they just like makjang.

    Can Chi Soo get written off in the project? There’s like no point in his character now.. Prince Dongpyung pretty much took his place. I guess Chi Soo could be the one that “tries” to change ok Jung back?

    Oh Dong Yi! What will happen to her too? Though I don’t care that much since episode 1 shows she’s a scheming beauty too.

  19. I actually thought that the Dowager Queen was in line with her character. Loud, Brassy, only her husband (Lee Soon’s dad) let her get away with it. She showed no respect for her “Mother in law” so her treatment of a lowly concubine was quite expected

    still enjoying the show, but i think the strain of live shooting is taking a toll on the production

  20. If the crew still decides to switch quality for quantity, I will be very disappointed….. After all, it wouldn’t be as captivating to me anymore. I wouldn’t even want to sacrifice my studying time to watch such a low quality drama every week.

    Hope the quality will improve next week…. P.S. I don’t want another disappointing drama from Yoo Ah In after last year’s Fashion King.

  21. I agree with your point of view. I think you should consider recapping GFB of Lee Seung Gi bz this drama has been doing a good job. As for JOJ, I appreciate the beauty of drama but the plot became off tracks, I tried to watch two dramas even though I don’t like the way KTH acted.

  22. It’s funny that when the show was perfectly in good shape from ep.1-10, most media in Korea criticized it and avoided it like this was a leprosy. But when it hit makjang elements starting from episode 11 they’re now praising the drama. Poor JOJ drama crews. I will still watch JOJ till the very bitter end because I’m already attached to the OTP. Yoo Ah In is still one sexy king I’ve ever seen.

  23. Really a big thank you for recapping JOJ so quickly- the best I look forward to Tue and wed mornings my location.

    I like all episodes till mid episode 12 where LS showed OJ her residence.

    If this drama is to cont the direction of the past episodes where everyone is intelligent. I would like LS to perhaps ask to set a banquet for all officials and their wives. Then OJ can design all clothes for the ladies to wear for the banquet, including the queens. This can help to showcase her talents, and help to ease officials into seeing her from another light. They may not accept her but there can be some warming up, like “oh, u dress my wife so well”.
    And the queens may not like her, but are impressed w her designs esp since the queen dowager likes head accessories.
    It will better than LS shoving his love for OJ down officials’ throats.
    But I guess the team are really worried abt the ratings…

  24. thnk u!!!! I’m loving this drama!! lol!! things r picking up n full of action! hehe :D can’t wait for OJ to get pregoooo!!! :)

  25. Lee soon’s coolness died cuz of the so called ‘love’ for ok jung, and those ugly hairy scheming ministers lol LOVE ok jungs GLARES i mean wow CHANGE for the better pay back time, witch of the witch glare with innocence victim type… Kim tae hee does it good…!! Love it NOW we can see She’s gettin greedy aiming for power to get what her revenge!!! Lol

  26. Queen kim die, Okjung gets preggy,Inhyun and Okjung fight heads on!! Wootwoot i want CAT FIGHT. Im assuming sukbin and chil soo entrance of the drama be in the same episode…LEE SOON infactuation of suk bin and OK JUNGS first love and money back up comes…

  27. The main central role is oj so I think in this drama SJ is represented from OJ’s perspective, how SJ keep her pure first love but he still concerns to goverment too, but it’s not the point of story, so in my opinion the scriptwriter made the strength of SJ loving OJ. He is not stupid king too and once again this drama doesn’t tell about full of SJ’s characteristic but about his love to OJ, but I agree if this drama is toward to makjang drama. But I feel the. Dowager queen is too overacting to act as villain . KTH show acting skill better than before and her villain character is consistent enough . Keep watching to next episode, maybe makjang will end after dowager queen die

  28. why i feel the title of “Jang Ok Jung: Live in Love” is no longer relevant. should just change the title into: “Jang Ok Jung: Live in Angst”

    I definitely can’t see Ok Jung’s feeling towards Lee Soon is a true love anymore, she is more manipulative of Lee Soon’s love to her & use it againts all people wanted to get rid of her from the palace.

  29. I haven’t watched episode 11-12 with English subs. Sometimes I get the better feelings/understanding with the characters after watching with Eng subs. So I’m hoping this will be still my cup of tea. All in all, SoonJung Couple when they do romantic things together, like romantic night out in the garden in the middle of candlelight, I’m still giddy. Their chemistry is still on and I’m rooting for that.

  30. no ChiSoo, no DongYi, and the drama has been turning into The Moon That Embraces The Sun,,where the king forget that he’s a king of country, he only cares about his beloved girl

  31. There must be the reasons for this dramatically changes from beauty to the beast :(
    We have seen ‘higher-order’ networks or shows lead the way into anew Golden Age of television by trying to appeal to everyone at the same time in order to rake in more ad revenue. By turning each and every show into a rat race for syndication, they have dug their own grave when it comes to actually putting out art, the shows have to be both popular and lucrative. Sadly JOJ is not popular in Korea, low ratings which is not good enough for SBS.
    I won’t jump off the ship in the middle of the sea.
    Thank you Ms Ockoala for your recap

  32. I recently spoke to a Korean friend who actually felt the drama had gotten better with the last two episodes. I guess the ratings also reflect Korean viewers preferences then. Perhaps Candy Ok-Jung is unappealing and it’s the bitchy, scheming Jang Hee-Bin they can’t get enough of.

    • Don’t they ever get fed up with, when there were lost count of villain Jang Hee Bin in previous movies and dramas, do they? S O _ S A D that what they have to mince the Best tasty Steak and add more cheap mince in order to make as many many tasteless Hamburgersss. :(

  33. Just finished watching episode 12 with English subs. And to be fair, I enjoyed the first half of this episode. The conflict between LS and ministers, how they’re trying to cut off his fun by opposing his coin/monetary policy is interesting. Also I think it’s smart that LS uses minister Min’s word to elevate OJ’s status from special court lady to level Sukwon. However, I find the last half of this episode where the ministers asking LS to get rid of OJ to stop natural disasters is absurd, and OJ’s sudden burst in to the queen’s banquet is so out of her character and reckless. That’s makjang to me.

    In the other hand, the inner thought of OJ has been showing since episode 11 that she has no choice other than defending herself alone because nobody can help her except herself. Yes, she once dreamed to be the best Joseon fashion designer but her initial decision to come to the palace was to free her mother from the slavery. Meeting LS who’s the king of the country could be unexpectedly a “bonus” for her. So no more fashion designer dream. Because now she’s just trying to save her position beside the king and she realizes she needs power to do so. As LS told Dongpyeong, OJ as Jang Sukwon has started a way of politics from her position, a politics to “look after” him. From his point of view, I don’t think LS just sit back and do nothing as some people perceived. He let OJ doing her thing because he knows she’s smart. But as I said before, OJ needs to play it out smoothly. She doesn’t have to be so frontal toward her enemies or talking out loud threatening them. The best schemer still can play people’s mind without loosing her grace or doing frontal actions. Just like Shakespeare’s Iago. It’s too bad that she turns to use the king’s favor/love toward her to get rid of her enemies.

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