It’s the return of Lee Jun Ki as Iljimae version 2! Hahaha, just kidding, but doesn’t he look like it? A tiny bit of frustration and annoyance descended on Joseon Gunman in episode 6 but it’s understandable and doesn’t really cause any lasting damage to Yoon Kang’s revenge plan that wasn’t already built into his scheme. Or at least I sure hope he was expecting this and had all the right reactions in place to deal with it. Soo In takes her first long look at Hanjo and immediately recognizes him as her Yoon Kang doronim. Her instinctive reaction was expected but then she goes off and spends the entire episode coming at Yoon Kang in every way possible to try to suss out if he really is Yoon Kang. I would hope she’s smarter than that, and might actually figure out the possibility for why he’s pretending not to be Yoon Kang. The most obvious reason being that there is an execution warrant on Park Yoon Kang’s head that hasn’t been lifted yet. I figure the script needs Soo In to be this persistent gnat because hidden identities always need the narrative to revolve around trying to suss out who the person really is.
Truth be told, it really isn’t just Soo In, Officer Han immediately recognizes Yoon Kang as well and despite his limited brain cells also doesn’t buy that he’s not Yoon Kang that easily. The whole point isn’t that Soo In outed Yoon Kang to Merchant Choi and put his identity in question, the nicely written part of the drama is that Merchant Choi had already wondered why Hanjo looked familiar. After Soo In’s ID connected the dots for him, he revealed that he met Park Yoon Kang once but it wasn’t a face that he could easily forget. It makes Yoon Kang’s quest more exciting that he’s not coasting around easily selling his Hanjo persona, he has to work hard to keep it up and at a great cost to his own emotional well being. I feel like Soo In is written to be unable to figure things out on her own so that she serves a narrative purpose and also to deliver angst confrontation scenes with Yoon Kang. The revenge side moves swiftly as Yoon Kang takes out one major gunman from the past but unfortunately doesn’t get any closer to finding the Big Fish calling the shots.
Episode 6 recap:
Hye Won asks Soo In for a favor to show off her explosives expertise to the Japanese businessman Hanjo. Soo In is visibly shocked to see Yoon Kang and calls him “Yoon Kang doronim” but Yoon Kang immediately asks what nonsense she’s talking about? Merchant Choi apologizes for the child mistaking Hanjo for someone else while Hye Won drags Soo In out. Kanemaru asks what that was about and Yoon Kang explains that she mistook him for someone else.
Soo In tells Hye Won that Hanjo looks identical to Yoon Kang doronim from his face to his voice to his mannerisms. Hye Won explains that Hanjo is a Japanese citizen who grew up in Osaka and his identity has been confirmed with the Japanese embassy. She believes Soo In that Hanjo looks just like Yoon Kang but he’s not so Soo In needs to control herself. Her dad needs this business deal desperately and is willing to endure repeated insults from Hanjo to make the deal. It’ll all be ruined if Soo In doesn’t behave and Hye Won asks Soo In to please do this for unni.
As Merchant Choi walks Yoon Kang out, talk turns to how Hanjo looks a lot like Yoon Kang. Come to think of it, Merchant Choi sees the resemblance since he also met Park Yoon Kang once three years ago. Yoon Kang is impressed one meeting and Merchant Choi remembers the face so clearly, he usually needs to meet people many times to remember. Merchant Choi explains that the young man just lost his father and was filled with rage and sorrow which is why his face was so memorable to Merchant Choi.
Hye Won brings a composed Soo In out to apologize to Hanjo. Soo In apologizes and Hanjo lets it go since it’s understandable that Soo In would be upset to lose the man she loved. He’s more curious whether she’s really an explosives expert? She seems more like a girl more interested in makeup to him. Soo In offers to show Yoon Kang but he doesn’t want to see small demonstrations. He wants her to demonstrate by blasting the entrance to the goldmine. Merchant Choi explains that he doesn’t have enough explosives on hand to do that and will need a permit from the government to acquire so much. Hanjo offers to bring the explosives and asks that the test be conducted in the next two weeks. After he confirms they have the explosives capability, then he’ll agree to the investment. After he walks off, Hye Won asks Soo In to look the part for the next two weeks and she’ll make sure to find a real explosives expert before then.
Yoon Kang hides near Soo In’s house and watches her go home. She almost spots him but he avoids being seen and flashes back to how he went from Yoon Kang to Hanjo. Scholar Kim told him that Park Yoon Kang is now dead and from now on he would have to live like he’s never seen the people from his past before. Yoon Kang takes a knife and cuts off his Joseon topknot.
Soo In sits with her maid and is certain that the man is Yoon Kang doronim. Her maid has heard this before and encourages Soo In to let Yoon Kang go so he can enter the afterlife. Soo In is certain that Yoon Kang might not have died which is why this guy is him. His body was never found and she needs to confirm it now.
Merchant Choi quietly compares his memory of Park Yoon Kang and Hanjo and notes the similarities. He sends a subordinate to the Japanese embassy to ask Haneda for a full background report on Hanjo.
Sang Choo informs Yoon Kang that the traitor Son has vanished completely and Yoon Kang wants him to stop looking for Son and direct his attention to searching for Yeon Ha. Sang Choo already put out a notice that their merchant group wants a slave girl who can read. Yoon Kang wants Sang Choo to keep digging for information on Yeon Ha while he’s certain the gunman will reappear soon.
Minister Jung suggests to the King to create a new government department not under the control of the existing powerful government ministers. The King approves the idea and tells Minister Jung to quickly establish it without altering the existing factions to the plan. Minister Kim notices Minister Jung leaving court and demands to know what he is doing here? Minister Jung claims he was just reporting to another minister and he’s warned to not overstep himself as a lowly translator minister and believe that he can meet the King directly.
Yoon Kang hands the proposed investment contract to Merchant Choi to review and all that remains is seeing the explosive capability. He asks Soo In how the preparation is coming along and she nervously claims it’s going well. Merchant Choi asks to dine together but Yoon Kang needs to go out to look for a location for their merchant group as an office. Merchant Choi offers to give him office space but Yoon Kang isn’t interested since they may do business with other merchant groups in the future, especially since this deal isn’t inked yet.
Soo In boldly offers to act as a guide to Yoon Kang touring the city to look for office space. Yoon Kang declines but Merchant Choi tells him to take Soo In so she can apologize for yesterday plus it’s not the best environment for two Japanese men to wander around the city. After they leave, Hye Won worries that Soo In might do something wrong but Merchant Choi reassures Hye Won that Soo In is a smart girl who knows how to behave. He’s more concerned that Hanjo may sign a deal with another merchant group before their deal is finalized.
Soo In pesters Yoon Kang with a barrage of questions about his background but he doesn’t answer any of her questions. Soo In stops in front of a globe and talks about the world being round and Yoon Kang snaps back that he knows and even a child knows that. She offers to take him to places that have real quality goods but Yoon Kang cuts her off and knows what she’s interested in. Claiming he looks like someone, taking him out today, chatting on and on, she’s clearly interested in him because he’s a rich Japanese merchant and she’s trying to flirt with him.
Yoon Kang finally succeeds in pissing Soo In off but before she loses her temper she remembers Hye Won begging her not to ruin this business deal. Soo In explains that she wants to get to know the person she is working with but Yoon Kang points out that she ought to be using her time preparing for the explosives test rather than wandering outside with him. Soo In claims she can prepare slowly since she’s an expert which makes Yoon Kang smile at her before toddling off.
Hye Won is leading a group of men to block the way of other merchant groups to enter the city and try to meet Hanjo. Hye Won isn’t cowed and plays hard ball, drawing swords on the other merchants until they turn back. The merchants vow she won’t get away with this.
Yoon Kang finds an empty residence that he wants to use as the merchant group’s office though Kanemaru finds the layout too complicated with too many doors. Soo In snerks that Yoon Kang’s taste runs towards the slightly creepy but then stops him with a gift of a Joseon yangban hat. She asks him to try it on as a gift and then puts it on his head just like Yoon Kang put a hat on Soo In’s head years ago to conform she was cross-dressing.
Officer Han happens to see Yoon Kang wearing the hat and launches himself into Yoon Kang’s arms giddy with happiness that his best buddy is alive. Kanemaru pushes Officer Han away from Yoon Kang and Soo In pulls Officer Han aside to talk. Yoon Kang yells at Officer Han if he also mistook him for Park Yoon Kang! Officer Han is confused and wonders why Yoon Kang doesn’t recognize him, he’s Jung Hoon! Officer Han adorably says that he’s been working hard lately so probably looks a bit wan.
Soo In tells Officer Han that the man is not Yoon Kang doronim and is a Japanese businessman. Officer Han walks towards Yoon Kang and he pushes him aside and screams that he won’t forgive them if they make the same mistake again. He yells at Officer Han one more time to never mention that Joseon man’s name in front of him ever again. He throws the hat down and storms off. Officer Han can’t believe that man is not Yoon Kang, wearing the hat he looks identical. Yoon Kang has to compose himself after walking away and explains to Kanemaru that he’s fine but merely mistaken for someone else he resembles greatly.
Soo In talks to a picture of Yeon Ha and believes that she would recognize her orabeoni when she saw him.
Sang Choo brings back another slave girl who can read but it’s not Yeon Ha. She looks really mistreated and Sang Choo asks Yoon Kang if they can just employ her here. She can cook and clean for them while they are looking for Yeon Ha. Yoon Kang relents and lets her stay which makes Sang Choo happy. Sang Choo apologizes later to Yoon Kang for not being able to find Yeon Ha this way and suggests finding a connection in the government to look for Yeon Ha. Sang Choo and the slave girl send Yoon Kang off to his scheduled meeting with the gunman and he tells the slave girl to just call him Hanjo and not add a my lord. The slave girl is taken aback with how nice Yoon Kang is while Sang Choo is clearly taken with her but she remains aloof towards him.
The gunman is laying in wait for Yoon Kang with his many minions all with guns.
The Sugu faction meet to discuss the latest happening in the Palace. The Queen switched out the ladies in waiting that reported back to them. Leader Kim laughs that the King is clearly growing a backbone and starting to take action.
Minister Jung meets with his scholars with Ho Kyung presenting to him a proposal for a new law enforcement agency. He wonders whether the King will actually implement their plan and the Minister assures him that the King fully intends to. He takes out money to pay the scholars for their hard work, and later Soo In’s mom complains to her daughter that Minister Jung is so into helping the scholars out of his own pocket that he’s going through their family wealth so that their eight warehouses are now down only owning one residence. Mom asks what Soo In has been up to these days and she explains that she’s doing Hye Won unni a favor so she’s acting as a guide for a guest of Hye Won unni.
The gunman orders his minions to go back to the mountain fort and Yoon Kang is watching them and takes note of how many total gunmen are out there. When the gunman rides off alone, Yoon Kang stalks and openly engages him to lure him deeper into the woods. Yoon Kang is faster and more accurate and his first shot shoots the hat off the gunman while the second shot strikes him in the arm. The gunman goes down and struggles to reach his gun but Yoon Kang shoots the gun away from his reach.
The injured gunman asks who Yoon Kang is and Yoon Kang angrily asks how come he can’t recognize him? He sold his sister into slavery and killed his father! The gunman can’t believe he’s alive and Yoon Kang asks if he’s the gunman who killed Commander Park? The gunman says Yoon Kang would be dead now if he was that gunman and Yoon Kang points a gun at him to demand the identity of the other gunman. Too bad this gunman is willing to die than to out Merchant Choi and warns Yoon Kang to give up now and he can still live his life.
The gunman stabs a dagger into his heart and dies. Yoon Kang screams in thwarted rage and remembers that his dad injured that gunman’s left arm with a sword slash. He pulls the gunman’s sleeve down and doesn’t see a scar so vows to continuing searching for the gunman who killed his dad.
The remaining gunmen report to Merchant Choi that the head gunman is supposed to be back to the mountain fort by now. Merchant Choi smartly deduces that he might already have been ambushed and taken out.
Officer Han is mulling over how come Yoon Kang doesn’t recognize him? Maybe because he died and then reincarnated into a Japanese person. Ha, this boy’s brain is so limited. Officer Han receives an anonymous note to go to the mountains and get the corpse of a gunman.
Yoon Kang goes to watch the renovation of the new office and chats with Hye Won about how her explosives expert seems to have a lot of free time. Soo In notices him looking at her and quickly talks about how the warehouse is too damp to house explosives. Hye Won assures Yoon Kang that the explosives test will go well and wonders why he doesn’t like Soo In that much. There is no like or dislike, he only cares about ability. Hye Won asks where he wants to store the explosives and explains to him that he won’t be allowed to store it in the city since the Palace is here. She offers to let him store it in her merchant group’s warehouse outside the city. She takes Yoon Kang to check it out and Yoon Kang shoots Soo In a look which she finds annoying.
Officer Han takes Officer Moon to find the corpse and keeps talking about how it’s his reward if there is a corpse there. Officer Moon shoots him a shut up glare and they find the gunman corpse shortly ahead. Office Moon sees no shoulder scar so this is not the gunman that Commander Park wounded first, but he does have a stomach scar so this is the gunman that Commander Park wounded before he died. Officer Moon orders hapless Officer Han to drag the corpse back.
Ho Kyung asks Soo In to stop with doing the explosives test for Hye Won. It’s dangerous and he knows she’s doing it also because she suspects the Japanese businessman is Yoon Kang. Ho Kyung reminds her Yoon Kang is dead otherwise he would have contacted them. Ho Kyung won’t ask Soo In to forget Yoon Kang but asks that she stop this endeavor now.
On the way to the warehouse, Yoon Kang mentions how he’s impressed that Hye Won is running a merchant group and she explains that she learned from the ground up. When she was just working the warehouse she carried more goods than even the men. She did it because she wanted to remember the exhaustion deep in her bones.
They are suddenly attacked by men with swords who kill Hye Won’s guards and reveal that someone paid them to kill Hye Won. She agrees to go with them and asks they not harm Yoon Kang since he’s a Japanese businessman. She leaves with her head held high going to her death and pauses to tell Yoon Kang to be careful. Yoon Kang suddenly flies into action and takes out ALL the men with swords and I swear Hye Won stares at his awesomeness with stars coming out of her eyes.
Officer Han pays Soo In a visit to reveal that Yeon Ha has been spotted in by a slaver selling underage slaves to the Qing dynasty. He promises to go save Yeon Ha before she’s sails on the ship tomorrow night. He wonders if that Japanese guy who looks like Yoon Kang….if he really is Yoon Kang then he would definitely save Yeon Ha.
Merchant Choi hears that his gunman was killed and the government officers took the corpse away. He’s about to read the background report on Hanjo when he hears that Hye Won was attacked and almost died. He rushes out in genuine concern and finds Hye Won is well because Hanjo saved her. He thanks Hanjo as does Hye Won and she’s clearly totally crushing on him now.
Soo In waits outside the Inn for Yoon Kang to come back and he’s immediately dismissive towards her and tries to go in. Soo In asks again if he’s Yoon Kang and he says no one more time. Soo In can’t believe it because he looks, talks, and acts like Yoon Kang, the man she’s never forgotten for the last three years. Can he claim that he doesn’t recognize her? Yoon Kang yells that he doesn’t recognize her! Soo In brings up Yeon Ha and asks if he’ll also insist that he doesn’t know Yeon Ha? She reveals that Yeon Ha will be sold to the Qing dynasty tomorrow night on a ship leaving Joseon. She’s been dreaming of her orabeoni saving her from slavery.
Yoon Kang steels himself and tells Soo In that none of this has anything to do with him. He doesn’t care if she’s sold into slavery to the Qing or to Japan, it’s none of his business. He stalks off leaving Soo In crying on the street. We see someone has been watching their conversation, likely sent by Merchant Choi. Yoon Kang goes back to his room and collapses at the emotional toil in keeping up the denial. Soo In decides that if he even won’t recognize Yeon Ha then he’s not Yoon Kang. She’ll stop it now as well and forget him. Yoon Kang cries as he tells himself that he’s still not Park Yoon Kang even if she brings up Yeon Ha.
Soo In tells Ho Kyung that she needs to go to the port to confirm if the slave is Yeon Ha. Ho Kyung refuses to let her go since she’s gone multiple times upon hearing of the possibility of Yeon Ha being found but is disappointed each time. Soo In begs him for this one last time. Merchant Choi also hears about Yeon Ha being sold to the Qing and decides to go check on her since if Hanjo is Yoon Kang then he won’t hesitate to save his sister. Merchant Choi hears that Hanjo is drinking in the inn and we see Yoon Kang hanging with a gisaeng drinking while Merchant Choi’s spy keeps an eye on him.
The slavers take the teen girls to the port and he does have Yeon Ha with him. He taunts the girls to take a good last look at Joseon since they are leaving soon forever. Back at the Inn, Yoon Kang offers his gisaeng wine from Japan and drugs her so that he can sneak out. He manages to avoid being seen by Merchant Choi’s spy as he takes off to save Yeon Ha.
Soo In and Ho Kyung meet up with Officer Han at the port and he assures her that he’ll save Yeon Ha and doesn’t want her involved in the dangerous rescue. Merchant Choi is told that Soo In is also here at the port looking for Yeon Ha. He orders his subordinate to look for the slavers and also pay attention if Hanjo appears which means he’s Park Yoon Kang.
Yoon Kang runs around the inns looking for Yeon Ha and finds her being kept in storage room. Before he can rescue her, Merchant Choi and his guards surround Yoon Kang.
Thoughts of Mine:
This episode continues the fast but not frenetic pace of Joseon Gunman, a drama that recapping takes massive amounts of appreciation and concentration because every scene is important and so much happens. The King is starting to take more action beyond sending Officer Moon out to reopen the case into Commander Park’s death. He’s also got translator lowly Minister Jung secretly advising him on reform plans and I wonder why he couldn’t have done everything secretly three years ago so he didn’t get all his important scholars killed? I suppose he had to learn the hard way the lengths his opponents would go to in order to stymie his reformation dreams which is why he’s doing things on the down low now. Unfortunately his enemies are plugged in and powerful and appear always one step beside him.
I don’t know if his goal to create a new law enforcement agency will come to fruition, but I’m not feeling terribly comfortable that the Sugu faction is eyeing Minister Jung. If he becomes the second Commander Park then I’ll be super sad because he’s pretty awesome and if the enemies take him out then it’s yet another great blow to the King. It’s reassuring that Minister Jung is nurturing the scholars with his own dime and Ho Kyung will be a capable successor one day to carry the mantle further. What worries me for Yoon Kang is that Merchant Choi is just the brute force but the real danger is the Sugu faction and the King’s battles way on top. Right now he’s aiming for the immediate enemy but isn’t even aware of the greater forces above. For now I’m happy with each hard won Yoon Kang victory, and hopefully the next one he achieves is extricating Yeon Ha from slavery.
Yoon Kang is such a busy busy man, acting like asshole Hanjo during the day and then running around as the hidden gunman at night. He’s smart and savvy but I’ve yet to see his business acumen on display other than playing hard-to-get with Merchant Choi. Aside from Merchant Choi being the lap dog to Leader Kim, I actually like him and I like his daughter Hye Won even more. I like their intelligent thoughtfulness when it comes to running their thriving merchant group, not to mention the warm caring father-daughter relationship that speaks of being respectful equals. The merchant group is ambitious and unafraid of making enemies, but at the same time doesn’t run away when the conflict hits back. I’ve never seen Merchant Choi speak to his daughter with censure or treat her as a child who doesn’t know better.
Hye Won really shined in this episode with her cold unflinching balls in blocking the other merchants from getting close to Hanjo, and later her calm demeanor in going with the men sent to kill her after first saving Yoon Kang from the same fate. It was a bit cheesy the way she literally developed a newfound appreciation of him as a man when she saw him singlehandedly take down all the men with swords, but that’s been the romance so far in this drama. It’s delivered straight up without any coyness. That worked for Soo In’s more childlike character but when the love bug hits Hye Won part of me chuckles at seeing this smart aloof girl shoot stars from her eyes. Not that I blame her, that scene of Yoon Kang battling five men with swords was kickass.
I’m still going to circle back to Soo In because she’s the female lead whether some folks like it or not, and her character has remained absolutely consistent through six-episodes. She’s idealistic and sheltered but given a lot of intellectual freedom from her doting father. That leads to her having a bold personality but not much practical common sense. She’s also not the type to suspect conspiracies around her or to doubt people, even now when she’s been through the tragedy of losing Yoon Kang and disillusioned with the reformist ideals. Her warmth and goodness is part of what drew Yoon Kang to her, and it would be out of character for her to not question whether Hanjo is Yoon Kang. I don’t think she went overboard since she merely kept trying to ascertain his real identity, and her reaction mirrors that of Yoon Kang’s best friend Officer Han who was also immediately sure of who he was.
Yoon Kang must expect it since a makeover and new identity isn’t going to change his face and voice and there are plenty of people in the capital who still remember him. If he showed up at the Jung household or ran into Ho Kyung, he would face the same reaction. Merchant Choi was bound to hear quickly from one person or another that Hanjo looks just like Park Yoon Kang. So Soo In didn’t undermine his revenge plans, but I do wish that her reason for giving up on him wasn’t because she bought his crock of hoodoo that he wasn’t Yoon Kang, but instead she reached the conclusion that he had a reason for the deception and she was going to help him. I’m sure that will arrive soon and it’s actually good to watch Yoon Kang deal with the sadness of picking revenge over living his life freely. The moment he “killed” Park Yoon Kang to become Hanjo, he was choosing the harder path that comes with a price to pay.
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