Happiness is another exciting episode of Joseon Gunman. So far this drama hasn’t had a single misstep yet for me yet as the drama progresses without surprises but delivering plenty of fantastic narrative. Yoon Kang starts reuniting one-by-one with the people from his past, first with best buddy Officer Han and now with his little sister Yeon Ha. Soon it’ll be Soo In’s turn to get confirmation that her Yoon Kang doronim isn’t dead in the least and is back awesomer than before. Yoon Kang is a male lead that needs to use equal brains and brawn to survive and watching him outwit Merchant Choi is always cathartic. I’m forever going to hold a grudge with Merchant Choi killing Commander Park and leaving his two kids orphans and traitors, and now watching him still piling on the pain for Yoon Kang and Yeon Ha. I love watching Leader Kim chew him out as a mere dog that needs to obey his master because that’s the price Merchant Choi needs to pay for doing the dirty deeds for a corrupt faction.
Episode 9 wraps up the Yeon Ha rescue nicely with a slew of well-earned reunion tears, though my gut tells me little Yeon Ha isn’t fully in the clear yet. If Yoon Kang wanted to keep her safe he should have packed her on a ship bound for Japan. Yoon Kang also turns himself from a revenging gunman with a fake traitor’s son brand to a bona fide killer after offing the sleazy minister of justice. That does not bode well for my Yoon Kang even if the minister totally had it coming. I guess he was bound to get his hands bloody in this revenge scheme and the baddies aren’t going to be that easy to apprehend and brought to justice. I loved progression of Yoon Kang and Soo In’s interactions back to him encouraging her to keep on gaining new knowledge and expertise despite being a woman in Joseon. She also spends this episode picking up on more clues about Yoon Kang’s identity and finally putting two-and-two together. This drama has plenty of shades of gray but the OTP remains the beacon of goodness even when bad people may have some decency and good people are forced to do bad things.
Episode 9 recap:
Yoon Kang finds Yeon Ha just as the sleazy minister is about to kill her with a sword and pumps a bullet into his chest. The gunman killing the minister of justice will clearly come back to haunt Yoon Kang later but for now he’s saved Yeon Ha and reunited with her. Yeon Ha cries to see her orabeoni and they share a quick tearful hug before Merchant Choi’s gunmen spot Yoon Kang and start shooting at them.
Yoon Kang manages to run and shield Yeon Ha from the bullets fired at them, and they’re probably lucky that the smoke is obscuring the gunmen who are firing since neither get shot. Yoon Kang’s fighting skills really are no joke as he takes out some gunmen all while keeping Yeon Ha safe. Yoon Kang tells Yeon Ha to run first and he’ll follow behind and she takes off while Yoon Kang turns to deal with the pursuing gunmen.
Yeon Ha catches the eye of one of the gunman who chases after her out of the residence. Yoon Kang manages to fight off the gunmen and grabs his horse before riding out of the residence and dramatically shooting the gunman about to capture Yeon Ha. He pulls Yeon Ha up on his horse and the two successfully escape.
Yoon Kang takes Yeon Ha to a temple and the siblings soak in their bittersweet happiness at finally being reunited after enduring such a tragedy. He promises that he will protect her from now on and her suffering is at an end.
Sang Choo is there with his older sister who is a nun at the temple and she’s agreed to keep Yeon Ha safe and hidden at the temple for the time being. She is grateful to Yoon Kang for saving her brother Sang Choo’s life which explains why Sang Choo is so loyal to Yoon Kang.
Yoon Kang says his farewells to Yeon Ha and promises that when he takes care of everything then they can be together again. He is devastated to see all the scars on her hands during her three years as a slave but Yeon Ha forces a smile. He apologizes again for not finding her sooner but she’s fine now that they’ve been reunited and she has no regrets. She teases him about cutting him hair and how their dad would have flipped a table if he saw it.
Merchant Choi rushes to Yoon Kang’s residence to ascertain his whereabouts and finds Yoon Kang dressed in casual peasant Joseon clothing coming back with Sang Choo. Merchant Choi wants to know where Yoon Kang was tonight? Yoon Kang explains he went out of the city for a last minute business trip to An Sung and wore this outfit for ease of travel. Merchant Choi explains that the minister of justice was killed by a gunman tonight and explains to Yoon Kang that he handed over the slave girl Yeon Ha to that minister but she’s also disappeared after the minister was killed.
Merchant Choi thinks that Yeon Ha’s brother might be the gunman and saved her but Yoon Kang points out that everyone says that guy died. Merchant Choi isn’t sure since his body was never recovered. Yoon Kang snarks that if Park Yoon Yang was alive then he would clearly come after the person he thinks is to blame for his father’s death. Yoon Kang wonders why Merchant Choi came so late just to tell him this and Merchant Choi pointedly says he ought to know as well. Yoon Kang laughs at that and then takes his leave to go to bed since he’s tired. After Merchant Choi leaves, his man is sure that Hanjo was the gunman so Merchant Choi orders him to go to An Sung to investigate if Hanjo met with any businessmen like he claimed.
King Gojong is told about the death of the minister of justice and orders an investigation. The Sugu ministers appear to want to pin the blame on the reformists. The King hears from his undercover agent Officer Moon that the gunman is not like the former gunmen and doesn’t appear to be working with the Sugu faction. The King orders him to investigate because they were also secretly investigating the minister of justice and his sudden death leaves another avenue closed to them.
Leader Kim is not pleased that the minister of justice is dead especially since his secret gunmen brigade were seen that night at the residence to catch that gunman. Merchant Choi apologizes but says the gunman was there to look for Commander Park’s daughter so he had to catch him. Leader Kim is furious and storms over to warn Merchant Choi that he had no right to act without orders and if he ever did it again then he better watch out.
Officer Moon takes Officer Han along to handle the aftermath of the minister of justice being killed by a gunman. Officer Han tries to privately ask the maid where Yeon Ha is but she doesn’t know since a lot of slaves ran away in the commotion. He shushes her away when Officer Moon walks over. He explains that everyone heard gunshots but in the smoke no one saw the gunman. Officer Moon orders Officer Han to investigate where the smoke came from and Officer Han grumbles about how he’s always assigned these hard tasks.
Soo In asks her dad to allow her to learn how to properly make explosives and explains that she’s finally interested in learning again. Dad is worried about her learning something dangerous but she assures him that explosives don’t need to be dangerous and can be of very good use. Dad remains very understanding and is convinced so allows her to do it but asks her not to get too buried in this new project and worry her mom. Soo In’s mom sees her husband and daughter talking and thinks they are keeping something from her and they in fact don’t tell her about Soo In’s explosives lessons.
Officer Han goes to ask Soo In if its possible to make explosives that won’t explode but just let off smoke. Soo In explains it’s possible and hears that the minister of justice was killed last night during the commotion after a smoke bomb was released in his house. Soo In quickly backtracks after she hears that and tells him that she needs to take a look. She goes to the minister of justice’s place and picks up a remnant of the smoke bomb and sees that it’s the same as the one she made for Yoon Kang. The maid comes back to tell Officer Han that the slave he was asking about was seen leaving with the gunman. Officer Han pulls her aside to talk and later when Soo In asks why the gunman would take a slave Officer Han feigns ignorance. Soo In then claims she doesn’t know if a smoke bomb can be made and covers for Yoon Kang.
Yoon Kang and Sang Choo discuss what to do now that Merchant Choi is more and more certain of Yoon Kang’s real identity. He decides that he needs to take the initiative to allay his suspicion once and for all.
Soo In finds Yoon Kang to start her explosives training and as they are walking to the warehouse Soo In keeps staring at him. Yoon Kang asks what’s going on and Soo In wants to know what he did with the smoke bomb she made him. Yoon Kang explains he used it all where he needed it. He reminds her to keep this a secret but she wants to know where he used it. Yoon Kang reminds her that she just needs to stop asking questions if she wants to learn how to make explosives.
The explosives expert refuses to train Soo In because having a woman around causes problems. He also buys into the old wive’s tale about how women at the gold mine will cause the mine to dry up. Yoon Kang angrily berates him for his backward thinking because such lies are made up by men to keep women down. He orders the expert to teach Soo In and cut it with the nonsense talk. Soo In stares at him and is clearly touched by his support.
Soo In privately thanks for backing her up with the explosives expert but Yoon Kang claims to merely be keeping his end of the bargain. As for what he said, it wasn’t to help her but he was just saying the truth. He wants to know if she can rise to the challenge and she assures him that she will do her best to the point the men can’t look down on her as a woman. He warns her that it might be hard if she wants to quit now he won’t hold it against her. Soo In’s got her gumption back and intends to do this all the way.
The new department is hard at work in discussing trade with the outside world over new munitions to strengthen the country’s defense capabilities. King Gojong arrives and is pleased with his new ministers and takes notice of Ho Kyung and wants to know his family background. Ho Kyung struggles to answer the question about who his father is until Soo In’s dad extricates him from the bind and explains to the King that Ho Kyung has cut off ties with his family.
Minister Kim privately confronts his son Ho Kyung later and hears that the King asked about Ho Kyung’s parentage but he didn’t say anything. Ho Kyung wonders if that was the only reason his dad wanted to see him. Minister Kim doesn’t want Ho Kyung to use words like new weapons and new army to create confusion in court and bring more problem on himself. Minister Kim warns that building a stronger armed forces isn’t something that Japan or the Qing dynasty will just let happen. Minister Kim tells him to stop creating confusion for the King and warns that a 500-year country like Joseon won’t change just because of Ho Kyung’s efforts.
Soo In is having tea with Hye Won and the friends talk about how Soo In is now learning explosives making directing from Yoon Kang’s explosives expert after he caught her secretly trying to learn. Soo In probes Hye Won about the minister of justice’s death and how a slave went missing afterwards who was sent over from Hye Won’s residence. Soo In wonders who that slave was who was taken away by the gunman and reveals that the slave supposedly came from Hey Won’s residence. Hye Won feigns ignorance on that matter and says her dad probably sent the slave over.
Hye Won privately calls her dad’s right hand man in to ask what he knows about the gunman who rescued Yeon Ha and killed the minister of justice. Earlier the gunman invaded their residence when Yeon Ha was there as well. She asks if her dad already knew the gunman was after Yeon Ha. She gets nothing from him so excuses him. He reports to Merchant Choi about Hye Won’s questions and Merchant Choi reminds him to never let Hye Won know about his secret activities.
Hye Won and Yoon Kang take a walk to view the merchant activities for their business deal. Yoon Kang takes particular note when he hears that one warehouse contains all the documents for the merchant group including all the identification papers for all its workers. Yoon Kang notices Hye Won’s somber mood when she’s talking about an upcoming merchant group celebration gathering and asks to hear about her problems and offer advice. Hye Won brings up how a slave from her residence was sent to the minister of justice and is now missing, if she had known then she wouldn’t have sent her. She reveals the truth that they traded the slave for the explosives expert.
Yoon Kang brushes it aside as the fate of a mere slave and nothing for her to fret about but Hye Won brings up her own past a slave. Hye Won doesn’t believe a slave child deserves such a fate just because she’s a slave. A slave is a person as well. Hye Won reveals she was once beaten and hurt as a slave but in the end she ran away because she couldn’t endure it anymore. She’s ashamed to talk about her past with Yoon Kang but he sees nothing for her to feel shame about. She is now successful and capable and an accomplished woman, she should be proud of her past because she changed her life to become the woman she is today. He tells her the slave girl is probably fine somewhere and she shouldn’t worry anymore.
Hye Won thinks about Yoon Kang complimenting her today on being a woman who shouldn’t be ashamed about her past because she did nothing wrong. Merchant Choi finds Hye Won outside and asks if she’s still upset about Yeon Ha. She tells him that she let it go since there was nothing they could have done. Hye Won reveals that her past has become something that she shouldn’t be ashamed of before and he always manages to touch her with what he says or does.
Merchant Choi hears that no one in An Sung saw Hanjo that night and has his right hand man plan a trap for Yoon Kang. Merchant Choi decides on using his fan as a signal and when he opens it is when he wants him to shoot Yoon Kang. Sang Choo doesn’t want Yoon Kang to accept Merchant Choi’s invites out but Yoon Kang is clearly aware and planning his own response. Yoon Kang wants to use this to dispel Merchant’s Choi’s suspicions once and for all.
Merchant Choi takes Yoon Kang to the countryside intending to show him something. Talk turns to Yoon Kang taking Soo In in to teach her how to make explosives. Yoon Kang brings up the gunman who killed the minister of justice and wonders if he’s been captured yet? He also brings up the rumor he heard that Merchant Choi secretly was training a group of gunmen. Merchant Choi turns around to ask Yoon Kang once again where he went the night the minister of justice was killed. He asked around and no one saw Yoon Kang that night where he said he went.
Yoon Kang is upset that Merchant Choi still thinks he is Park Yoon Kang and even secretly investigated him behind his back. Merchant Choi is about to signal to his gunman hiding in the bushes to take out Yoon Kang when suddenly a servant arrives to report that the gunman stormed their document repository warehouse today and made off with documents about the latest guns. Yoon Kang declares that business is over with the Kyung Gi Merchant Group due to Merchant Choi’s continued doubting of his identity and the insult to investigating him repeatedly.
We see that it’s Sang Choo dressed in the gunman’s uniform who publicly made an appearance thereby giving Yoon Kang the perfect alibi since he was out with Merchant Choi.
Je Mi catches Sang Choo sneaking back home dressed as the gunman and is super impressed with his so-called alter ego and agrees to keep his secret. Yoon Kang tells Kanemaru that their business deal is called off with the Kyung Gi Merchant Group for insulting him by accusing him of being a criminal. If they do business then it might bring shame to Yamamoto.
Merchant Choi goes back to the merchant group and hears about his worker giving up the document to the gunman and not even getting a look at him and letting him get away just like that. Merchant Choi scarily loses his temper in front of Hye Won as he tries to strangle his incompetent underling. Another worker arrives to announce that the Japanese have called off the deal and want their investment back in three days and will also move their explosives back right away.
Soo In brings food for the explosives expert and tries to use that to butter him up so he’ll teach her willingly. Suddenly officers show up to arrest the explosives expert and take him in for questioning because of the smoke bomb that was set off when the minister of justice was killed. The officer orders the warehouse explosives checked to see if the amount matches what was registered.
Soo In rushes to Hye Won to tell her what just happened only to stumble across an officer interviewing Hye Won about the slave girl who disappeared from the minister of justice’s residence. Hye Won gives her name as Yeon Ha and Soo In is stunned to discover that Hye Won found Yeon Ha already and kept it from her. Hye Won tries to explain but Soo In asks to hear her explanation later and runs off.
Soo In puts all the clues together and realizes that Hanjo really is Yoon Kang and rushes to his place to see him. Je Mi lets her in to wait for Yoon Kang and Soo In secretly goes to Yoon Kang’s residence to look for the confirming evidence.
Soo In finds the compass she gave Yoon Kang inside a drawer and realizes that Hanjo really is Yoon Kang alive and back. She’s overcome with emotion and breaks down crying while clutching the compass.
Yoon Kang comes back and hears that Soo In is here to see him. He walks into the waiting room and Soo In turns around to just stare at him with a smile and teary eyes.
Before Soo In has a chance to get a word out, suddenly a commotion arises outside and a bunch of officers barge into the room here to arrest Soo In. They claim a tip outed Soo In as having stolen some explosives so she’s been brought in for questioning in the death of the minister of justice.
Yoon Kang is furious but is held back as the officers drag Soo In out. She can only give Yoon Kang silent pleading stares while he is absolutely freaking out as she’s taken away.
Thoughts of Mine:
Save her Yoon Kang! Save your Soo In before she gets tortured by the baddies! Joseon Gunman keeps giving me episode ending cliffhangers that made me sit up and go “noooooooo!” It’s clear Soo In’s explosives knowledge was going to be a problem for her but I’m shocked at how quickly she got caught up in the growing political maelstrom. Yoon Kang hopefully has a rescue solution at hand otherwise he really took a big risk in asking Soo In to make the smoke bomb for him. I thought Soo In would get on the villains bad side through her dad’s involvement in the new government department but maybe it’ll be the other way around and Soo In will be used to remove her dad. Luckily she has her dad and Ho Kyung in court to help out while Yoon Kang can figure something out from his end. The way Yoon Kang was staring and screaming in worry as she was led away would have erased any doubt that he was Yoon Kang even of Soo In didn’t already know. I hope they reunite now and get in some private romantic cuddling because I worry poor Yoon Kang might have a mental breakdown soon with how tightly wound he is by all the various identities and plots he’s got going on. I’m glad Soo In also realized that Yeon Ha was the slave who got sent from Hye Won’s house to the minister’s residence and was later taken away by the Yoon Kang gunman. At least that’s one less thing for her to worry about and her attempts over the years to find Yeon Ha remains such a valiant and heartwarming thing to do. She really cares and tries so hard at everything, just one of the many reasons why I adore Soo In so much.
Hye Won is such a well-written character even if emotionally she does nothing for me. I appreciate her painful past and agree with Yoon Kang that she has nothing to be ashamed about. The issue I have with her is that she showed through the Yeon Ha case that she’s as complicit in the very chains of oppressing slaves as she was once oppressed. I would have loved if she showed me that she’s not only overcome her own personal pain, she’s working hard now not to perpetuate it. It’s asking a lot of her, and even Yoon Kang doesn’t hold her accountable for going along with her dad’s plan to exchange Yeon Ha for the explosives expert. I find Hye Won smart but not all that sympathetic, so her conversation with Yoon Kang left me unmoved by her present sadness over Yeon Ha’s fate. It’s the same feeling I get from Merchant Choi, he probably was someone who also suffered in his past rather than living up high his entire life and always stepping on others. The problem is that he’s become a monster to serve a monster and that’s not something which can be brushed aside. Yoon Kang looks at a gun now as a weapon for defense but otherwise abhors the very instrument which can be used to kill so easily. I hope the minister of justice’s death is not the start of Yoon Kang being forced to kill his enemies more and more because that’s going to twist his quest for justice.
Soo In’s confirmation of Yoon Kang’s identity happened at just the right pace for me narratively. It was prolonged but didn’t detract from their great interactions during the time she thought he was just Hanjo. She really is one persistent little thing and rifling through his things was probably a no-no but I doubt he’ll mind since right now he’s got more pressing matters to attend to which is how to save her from the clutches of Minister Kim and his ilk. I worry more about Soo In because er kindness and book smarts render her a sharp contrast to Hye Won’s practicality and street smarts. I don’t want to label Hye Won totally evil for going along with sending Yeon Ha to be raped by the sleazy minister but then feeling bad about it afterwards doesn’t wash away her complicity. I wonder when Yoon Kang will reunite with his father’s trusted subordinate Officer Moon, and when that happens is probably when Yoon Kang will likely take his personal quest to a higher level and perhaps even help with the King’s greater reform plans. Officer Han remains the drama’s best exposition fairy, always around to pass along important information with a side of comic relief. Yoon Kang really is starting to use the people are him more in his strategy but hopefully it won’t start to put them in danger. I like all the supporting characters so much I’m already imagining a happily ever after when everyone works and lives nearby and gets to hang out together.
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