It’s such a pleasure recapping Joseon Gunman, with only interesting and narratively sane things happening in every episode. The revenge plus romantic separation has progressed on equally solid footing and it’s amazing how much better the OTP romance gets now that Soo In is in the know and can help Yoon Kang. This drama delivered on doing compelling angst when keeping Soo In in the dark about Yoon Kang’s identity as Hanjo, and once she knows it’s a different but equally stirring emotional draw between them. This episode moves everything forward into the second half of the drama run with the continued upbeat momentum and even some game changer being alluded to. The Machiavellian calculations of the cackling Leader Kim has dominated the landscape for so long I half expected him to stay the Big Bad until the end. But suddenly the slave-turned-amoral-hunting-dog that is Merchant Choi isn’t going to be taken out without a fight, and he’s looking around for another master and lo and behold the fallen Minister Kim is perhaps the perfect candidate.
I love how Yoon Kang’s revenge plan to find out the truth about who set up his dad and catch the gunman who killed him is starting to be aligned with what’s happening to the people who are still alive that he cares about. The gunman threat is now aimed at Minister Jung, Soo In’s dad, and with it Yoon Kang not only can lay a trap to catch the gunman but he can also prevent Soo In’s dad from getting killed. I need Yoon Kang to remember that even if he lost his dad, he has a lot of people still alive that he needs to protect such as Soo In and Yeon Ha and it’s not worth dying for vengeance or putting them in danger. This episode was chock full of great Soo In-Yoon Kang moments from the hilarious reaction of her maid when seeing the Yoon Kang doronim doppleganger to Yoon Kang getting jealous over Soo In’s gratitude towards Ho Kyung for taking a bullet to protect her dad. In so many little moments, JG retains a sense of sweet humor even when it’s business most of the time with Yoon Kang taking step after step to find out the dangerous truth.
Episode 11 recap:
Yoon Kang walks Soo In home despite her suggesting he doesn’t need to. He hurries her inside to rest more which is when Soo In’s hilarious maid runs out to chide her charge for leaving the house when she’s still recovering.
Adorable maid is struck dumb as everyone has been who knows Yoon Kang and then sees Hanjo for the first time. She calls out Yoon Kang doronim but this time Soo In is the one to try and shush the maid that she’s mistaken. Soo In tries to push her maid inside but she won’t go and keeps nattering about Yoon Kang doronim being alive and having a really crappy hairstyle now.
Soo In shoves her inside and turns to apologize to Yoon Kang while the maid runs back out and yells at he even has the same voice! LOLOLOL. Soo In fairly drags her maid inside while Yoon Kang slowly cracks an amused smile.
Yoon Kang spots bestie Officer Han lurking outside and demands to know why he’s here right outside Soo In’s house. Officer Han tries to clain it’s official secret business but eventually tells Yoon Kang that he’s tasked to keep Minister Jung safe with the suspicion that a gunman may be ready to take him out. He reveals that there is a ministerial meeting tomorrow at the Palace and he’ll be there keeping watch.
Yoon Kang prepares his bullets and thinks back to what Soo In said to him earlier that she’s sure Yoon Kang is alive and is the gunman who saved Yeon Ha. He opens his drawer where he hid the broken compass and finds it still there seemingly untouched. A flashback shows us that Soo In snuck it back into the hiding place after sending Yoon Kang out for tea.
Soo In stands in her courtyard and remembers her interactions with Yoon Kang in the very same courtyard such as when he wandered by and she showed him the neat stuff she had such as her globe.
Ho Kyung gives a report on the new department’s initiatives including sending a group of young men to the Qing dynasty to learn new weapons making techniques as well as placing an order with Japan for 500 of the latest model guns for the new Joseon army division. Minister Jung is pleased and reminds the gathered ministers to do their best at tomorrow’s meeting with the Qing envoys.
Leader Kim meets with his Sugu faction ministers who are pissed about the formation of the new army which is basically going to be personally used by the King. Leader Kim cackles that he won’t let it happen and is certain his man will succeed this time since his life is on the line in this task.
Merchant Choi leaves the residence to go assassinate Minister Jung while Hye Won sees him off thinking he’s going to do business. The new department ministers are meeting with the Qing envoys while Officer Moon patrols the environs and checks off all his undercover officers stationed around the area to protect the ministers. He spots hapless Officer Han on a rooftop and sighs.
Yoon Kang is also there in his gunman disguise and sees the other guards are protecting the ministers attending the meeting. The meeting wraps up successfully and everyone prepares to depart. Merchant Choi and his gunman are on one roof and he spots Officer Han on another roof. Yoon Kang also spots Officer Han and lets out an amused head nod. He turns to look elsewhere and when he looks back Officer Han is gone from his rooftop perch.
Yoon Kang rushes to that roof area and finds Officer Han laying unconscious on the ground. He drags the still alive Office Han off to the side and runs off to stop the assassination of Minister Jung. Merchant Choi has his gun pointed at Minister Jung’s head when suddenly another gun is aimed right at him and it’s Yoon Kang ordering him to put his gun down. Merchant Choi puts down his gun but turns and engages Yoon Kang to try and snatch his gun away. In the tussle the two of them tumble off the roof.
The ministers all walk out and the other gunman is still out there and he points his gun at Minister Jung. Ho Kyung happens to see him on the rooftop and darts in front of Minister Jung just as the gunman fires the gun and takes a bullet in the back shoulder for Minister Jung. Ho Kyung collapses in Minister Jung’s arms while the gunman makes his getaway.
Yoon Kang is still fighting with Merchant Choi for control of his gun. Merchant Choi grabs the gun after tossing Yoong Kang over his shoulder but Yoon Kang is the superior fighter and manages to overpower Merchant Choi in hand-to-hand combat and wrests back control of his own gun.
Yoon Kang points the muzzle of the gun directly at Merchant Choi’s face before pulling off his left sleeve to confirm that there is a scar there and this guy is the one who killed his dad Commander Park. Yoon Kang moves to pull of Merchant Choi’s face mask but Merchant Choi grabs his hand to stop him. The other gunmen arrive and start firing at Yoon Kang who has no choice but to duck for cover while Merchant Choi escapes with his gunmen brigade.
King Gojong is alarmed to hear that the gunman appeared and worried about Minister Jung. He’s relieved to hear Minister Jung is fine because Ho Kyung took a bullet for him. He orders the royal physician to tend to Ho Kyung before raging to his Queen about how the opposing faction is so brazen as to send assassins to the official negotiations between two countries. He is barely able to control his anger and wonders how long he will have to endure the ambitions and misconduct of his opponents.
Minister Jung walks the royal physicians out who have patched up Ho Kyung and Soo In hears that he’ll be fine. Minister Jung takes his wife off to calm herself down while Soo In goes to sit by Ho Kyung’s side. Yoon Kang returns to his gunman lair to brood over getting so close to capturing the gunman who killed his dad but letting him get away.
Merchant Choi is nursing a bruise on his forehead and Hye Won frets when she notices his injury. He claims to be fine after falling off the horse on his way home. Hye Won is here to talk about the reappearance of gunman in the city, this time intending to assassinate Minister Jung. Merchant Choi tamps down his alarm when he hears that the attempt failed after Ho Kyung took a bullet for Minister Jung. Hye Won goes on to discuss how a lot of gunmen showed up today and the area was a mess. She wonders how the city is such a mess but Merchant Choi tells her not to worry and the law enforcement will take care of it. Hye Won takes note of her dad’s dismissive attitude about this situation.
Ho Kyung wakes up to find Soo In sitting by his side. When she moves to leave he asks her to stay and thanks her for keeping him company so that her face was the first thing he saw when he regained consciousness.
Yoon Kang reveals to Sang Choo that he finally saw the gunman who killed his dad but let the guy get away. Sang Choo tells him to do business with Merchant Choi again since he needs to stay by his side if he wants to catch that gunman.
Leader Kim warns Merchant Choi that he has no use for a hunting dog who can’t catch prey and he’ll pull Merchant Choi from leading the merchant group if he fails one more time since there are plenty of others waiting in line for this opportunity.
Yeon Ha overhears a woman from the city telling Sang Choo’s nun sister about the appearance of gunmen in the city again.
Kanemaru tells Yoon Kang that he received a letter from Yamamoto asking about the progress of the business in Joseon. Perhaps Yamamoto may come to Joseon personally and Kanemaru is worried he’ll think they’ve made a mess since the gold mine project with the Kyung Gi Merchant Group has been called off again. Yoon Kang tells Kanemaru not worry and then tells Sang Choo to fill up the warehouse and have Je Mi finish all the unfinished account books. Kanemaru points out that the worse cast scenario is that Yoon Kang is called back to Japan and Yoon Kang should be prepared for that.
Hye Won arrives and has a private meeting with Yoon Kang to apologize for her dad again and ask for another chance. Yoon Kang asks Hye Won to raise her head since there is no need for her to do this. Yoon Kang wonders why her dad is constantly doing things she needs to apologize for and feel back about. He decides to do business with them again but asks for actual results now. Hye Won breaks into a relieved smile and thanks Yoon Kang profusely, promising not to let him down. Yoon Kang is happy to see Hye Won smiling and tells her that she’s prettier when she smiles. His compliment leaves Hye Won’s heart aflutter.
Minister Jung checks in on the recovering Ho Kyung who is now able to sit up. Ho Kyung assures him that he’s doing fine thanks to Soo In taking care of him. Minister Jung owes Ho Kyung his life but Ho Kyung is just happy that nothing bad happened to Minister Jung.
Soo In tries to convince her dad not to work for the government because he’s in danger but Minister Jung is uncowed by the threats of those who aim to destroy people to hold onto their own power. This is a battle between those people and people like him who wants to change their country for the better.
Yoon Kang pays Merchant a late night visit claiming to be passing by. Merchant Choi invites him to sit down and Yoon Kang notices his facial bruise and that he is moving gingerly. Yoon Kang asks if anything happened and Merchant Choi gives his fell down a horse excuse. Yoon Kang is happy to hear he’s doing better though his injuries look much more like he got in a fight with another person. Merchant Choi laughs it off and changes the subject to thank Yoon Kang for giving them another chance. Yoon Kang reveals he did it for Hye Won who saw her dad kneel to him and that must have hurt her so much. He tells Merchant Choi to do well and not disappoint his daughter anymore. Merchant Choi thanks Yoon Kang for the advice.
Yoon Kang goes back and tells Sang Choo that he used to suspect the gunman worked for Merchant Choi but now he suspects that Merchant Choi is the gunman himself. He asks about the stolen document from last time which had a portion torn off and he’s certain it contains something important.
Yeon Ha arrives at Yoon Kang’s place to see him and is about to approach Sang Choo when Je Mi runs out to give him ginseng steamed buns to help him recover from the last gunman battle. Sang Choo can’t explain he’s not the gunman so just eats his gun while Je Mi natters on.
Yeon Ha sneaks around the residence and luckily runs into Yoon Kang while he’s along. He pulls her to talk in private and hears that she’s here because she’s worried about him. Awwww. Yoon Kang assures his little sister that he’s fine and there is nothing for her to worry about now or in the future. Yeon Ha is reassured and is ready to head back and not cause problems for Yoon Kang if she stayed too long.
Yoon Kang walks Yeon Ha out and happens to run into Hye Won and Merchant Choi walking into the residence. Hye Won lifts her head and stares in shock to see Yeon Ha who immediately turns around. Yoon Kang whispers for his sister to leave and Yeon Ha runs off through a side door. Merchant Choi wonders what Hye Won saw but she says its nothing. Merchant Choi catches a glimpse of Yeon Ha’s departing figure. Yoon Kang explains that he was interviewing a servant but this one was too young so he sent her back. Yoon Kang and Hye Won walk off to talk business but Merchant Choi sneaks away through the door that Yeon Ha left from.
Merchant Choi is about to corner Yeon Ha when she’s pulled aside. Yoon Kang arrives and asks what Merchant Choi is doing? He explains that he saw a familiar child who looked like the one he sent to the minister of justice’s residence. Yoon Kang assures him it’s not the same slave girl since he would have recognized her. He wonders why Merchant Choi is so concerned about the child and hears that he felt bad so much happened to her after he sent her away.
Turns out Soo In was the one who pulled Yeon Ha to safety and after Merchant Chou leaves, Soo In quickly takes Yeon Ha out of the residence. When they are safely alone, Soo In finally gets a chance to reunite with Yeon Ha and the two girls tearfully greet each other. Soo In can see the healing scars on Yeon Ha’s hand and knows she suffered so much. Soo In embraces Yeon Ha and apologizes for not finding her sooner and bringing her back. Yeon Ha is just happy to see Soo In again.
Soo In feeds Yeon Ha a meal and hears that she came because she was worried about her orabeoni. Yeon Ha thanks Soo In unni for saving her and asks if she’s known all along that Hanjo is Yoon Kang. Soo In reveals she recently found out but doesn’t want Yoon Kang to know that she knows. She’ll wait for him to reunite with her when he’s ready and asks Yeon Ha to keep it a secret that she’s met with Soo In. Yeon Ha promises to keep Soo In’s secret.
Hye Won puts two-and-two together from seeing Yeon Ha here with Hanjo to Yeon Ha telling her that Hanjo looks like her brother Park Yoon Kang. Yoon Kang informs Merchant Choi that the gold mining progress has to be sped up even if the worker work extra shifts. He also reveals that Yamamoto is personally coming to Joseon to check on the business progress so everything must be ready.
Soo In personally delivers Yeon Ha back to the temple and promises to visit soon. She quickly darts away when she sees a worried Yoon Kang arriving. Yeon Ha sits with Yoon Kang and assures him that no one saw her and promises not to leave the mountain anymore. Yeon Ha wonders how long her orabeoni is going to keep his identity a secret? Yoon Kang needs to do this until he overturns his father’s false sentence as a traitor and gets revenge for him.
Yeon Ha asks why he’s keeping his secret from Soo In unni as well and hears that he’s doing it so she’s not placed in danger. Yeon Ha knows Yoon Kang misses Soo In and Yoon Kang admits that he misses Soo In a lot. Every day he dreams about the moment when he can see Soo In again as Park Yoon Kang but he doesn’t want to place her in danger because of his own desire. Soo In listens to this and cries.
Merchant Choi keeps thinking about the girl he saw earlier with Yoon Kang but has to deal with more pressing concerns with Hye Won tells him that their suppliers are not dealing with them anymore. She heard a powerful Lord Kim (Leader Kim) has reportedly thrown his backing behind their rival merchant group. Hye Won asks if her dad knows who Lord Kim is and how he has the power to change the balance of business so swiftly. She wants to meet Lord Kim but her dad tells her that she doesn’t have the clout to see him but assures her that he’ll take care of it.
Ho Kyung pays a visit to his dad the now disgraced former Left Minister Kim who is living in a shack. Dad tells Ho Kyung to dispense with the fatherly bow greeting since he’s still injured and asks about his injury. He calls Ho Kyung useless for not even taking care of his own health and wonders why he’s here? To laugh at his dad who has been sent away and all because of Ho Kyung’s feelings for some girl. Dad sneers at Ho Kyung’s fake concern since his fate was due to Ho Kyung betraying him. Ho Kyung apologizes to his dad but doesn’t feel like he did anything wrong since Minister Jung and Soo In were innocent.
Dad screams at Ho Kyung to shut up and asks what that girl means that Ho Kyung would still take her side now! Ho Kyung says he loves Soo In and she’s the woman he wants to marry. Dad scoffs at that but Ho Kyung intends to marry her even knowing his dad will object. Dad orders him to leave now and refuses to see such an unfilial son. Ho Kyung takes his leave but promises to come by to see his dad again. As Ho Kyung leaves he crosses paths with Merchant Choi who is dressed down like a peasant and has a straw hat covering most of his face.
Merchant Choi sits with Minister Kim and is here to make a deal. He promises to get Minister Kim back to his official position but then wants Minister Kim to let him serve him. Minister Kim is surprised since Merchant Choi has long worked for Leader Kim. Merchant Choi calls himself a hunting dog who is about to be put down so he’s looking for a new master. He thinks he’s in the same boat at Minister Kim since Leader Kim has now elevated Right Minister Choi to his sidekick with Minister Kim out of power. Merchant Choi suggests Minister Kim become his own master and he’s willing to be his right harm. Minister Kim orders Merchant Choi to leave and stop spouting nonsense since he’s merely a businessman. Merchant Choi assures him that he’s not talking nonsense and once he gets Minister Kim back to the capital he can change his mind about this offer.
Ho Kyung watches Soo In happily brew medicine for him and wonders why she’s in such a good mood. Soo In reveals she saw someone today she’s been missing for a long time but doesn’t tell Ho Kyung that it was Yeon Ha. She brings Ho Kyung his medicine and tells him to drink it after it’s cooled but he takes it immediately. She takes it back to cool it down for him and Ho Kyung remarks that he should have gotten sick earlier.
The guard Son falsely accused Commander Park of being a traitor sneaks back home to see his wife and ask for money. She feeds him and then claims to be getting him money but then brings back Officer Han who finally gets a chance to play hero.
Officer Han tells Yoon Kang that Son has been taken in for question and tells him to be patient as the truth will come to light soon. Yoon Kang asks Officer Han to help him see Son in person. Merchant Choi’s spy also informs him that Son has been arrested and is undergoing interrogation right now.
Officer Moon personally handles the interrogation and demands to know who told him to falsely accuse Commander Park. Son refuses to talk here because he’s sure there are spies and tells Officer Moon to take him to a safe spot and promise not to kill him before he’ll confess everything.
The Sugu faction is freaking out that Son has been arrested and the King is reportedly going to personally interrogate him. Leader Kim cackles and tells him not to worry.
Officer Han moves Son to a secure location and we see Yoon Kang is disguised as a lowly guard who Officer Han orders to personally move Son inside. Once inside Yoon Kang immediately reveals himself as the gunman from last time and warns that he’ll kill Son for real this time. Son tries to laugh it off but Yoon Kang points a pistol at Son’s head and demands to know who was behind Son’s false testimony.
Son begs for understanding and he can’t tell the truth otherwise his whole family will be killed. Yoon Kang cries that his whole family was destroyed because of Son, his dad died and his sister taken as a slave and he almost died in the water. Why does Yoon Kang need to give Son any understanding now! Yoon Kang counts down while cocking his pistol and Son finally tells Yoo Kang the truth. When he went to give testimony, he found out that everyone was in on it and the false testimony was prepared for him. Leading the work was Minister Jung.
Yoon Kang asks why Son was trusted to do this and before he can say anything he’s shot dead with a bullet to the back. Yoon Kang chases after the gunman but to no avail as the killer makes a getaway. Afterwards Officer Moon demands to know who Officer Han allowed to meet Son while disguised as a lowly guard. Officer Han tries to explain that guy has nothing to do with it but Officer Moon demands to know the truth otherwise he’ll toss Officer Han into jail as an accomplish of the gunman. Officer Han keeps Yoon Kang’s secret so Officer Han has him tossed in jail.
Sang Choo tells Yoon Kang that Minister Jung is holding a yangban meeting tomorrow and leaving his residence to attend. He hands Yoon Kang a map from the residence to the meeting place so he can intercept him. Soo In arrives and Yoon Kang meets with her to discuss how her dad escaped the gunman’s assassination. Soo In is comforted that Ho Kyung saved her dad and she’s really grateful to him. A jealous Yoon Kang asks if gratitude is all Soo In feels for Ho Kyung. Ha! Before they can keep chatting, Sang Choo arrives with the bad news that the explosives expert got injured in an explosion.
Yoon Kang and Soo In rush to the mines where Merchant Choi and Hye Won are already there to handle the situation. Hye Won notices Soo In arriving with Yoon Kang who points out that they need to be on track by the time Yamamoto arrives. Soo In offers to do the explosives since she learned it properly already. Yoon Kang refuses since even the explosives expert got hurt and tells her not to involve herself in this. Merchant Choi is all for Soo In doing this with the explosives expert giving her pointers as he’s recovering. Yoon Kang agrees to think about it.
Soo In follows Yoon Kang back and doesn’t want Soo In helping when he didn’t ask for her help. Soo In wants to help and she claims its to thank him for letting her learn explosives from the expert. Yoon Kang goes quiet and warns her to be extra careful and not get hurt. He walks away and Soo In smiles at his concern for her.
Soo In runs into Je Mi bringing a snack for Yoon Kang and offers to do it for her. Soo In walks into Yoon Kang’s study and finds him sleeping on the table. She set the snack tray down and can’t help herself and lightly strokes his hair.
As Soo In walks away suddenly Yoon Kang’s hand shoots out and grabs her wrist. OMO! Soo In turns back while Yoon Kang sits up and they stare at each other.
Thoughts of Mine:
Guh, way to leave me dangling there Joseon Gunman! That scene ending totally calls for making out afterwards but since this is a sageuk and it’s not yet time for Yoon Kang and Soo In to openly reunite, I guess there might be some more staring before these two lovebirds call it a night. I can’t decide what I loved the most about episode 11 there was too much good stuff. Soo In’s maid deadpan reaction when she met Hanjo was priceless, even better was watching Soo In take the opposite approach and be the one to shush her. Yoon Kang cracking a smile afterwards was lovely, reminding us that he’s still normal inside and able to chuckle at his situation even after enduring so much tragedy. Officer Han is also this drama’s second best comedic effect, his haplessness combined with loyalty and affection for Yoon Kang renders his fate important to the audience rather than as a dispensable supporting character. He’s also serving some really handy use as Yoon Kang’s liaison to government workings and another source for him to tap into whenever he needs an extra hand. It’s also heartwarming to see Yoon Kang taking care of Officer Han and making sure he’s alright. Friendship hasn’t been emphasized as much as love and political loyalty and power play in this drama but it’s nicely tucked into the narrative through Officer Han.
The love in this drama gets screen time without the typical overflowing excesses of emotion. Whether it’s Soo In or Yoon Kang missing each other, it’s always deftly presented without overstaying its welcome. Even nicer is letting them act on it in subtle ways such as Yoon Kang protecting Soo In by keeping her away from danger and Soo In protecting Yoon Kang by trying to help him accomplish his tasks. The second leads are also greatly appreciated in how they approach their own feelings, with Ho Kyung never imposing himself on Soo In whether as an older brother figure or as a man who loves her, and Hye Won is similarly nursing her crush without any overt pressure on Yoon Kang. It’s refreshing to see unrequited feelings be shown in such an adult way, with sincerity and respect for the other person. I hope both Ho Kyung and Hye Won continue to acknowledge their feelings without it turning covetous. I wondered if Ho Kyung was presented as a fall back option for Soo In if Yoon Kang dies at the end of the drama, but then he doesn’t seem all that safe to survive this upcoming political battle either since his dad is down but not out. My gut tells me that Hye Won dies in the end because her character is so resilient and tough but at the same time brittle. I worry that the discovery of her dad’s full actions and learning that the first guy she’s ever loved in Yoon Kang is a hopeless pipe dream, she might turn bad only to die without regrets.
The political elements are thrumming along nicely now that Leader Kim has broken with Merchant Choi and perhaps turned his loyal hunting dog into a rabid beast that will destroy its owner. I like that the old man gets taken down by his own side, removed summarily the way he’s been snuffing out his enemies like they are gnats to squash. It’s more compelling that power in this world isn’t absolute and the King’s powerlessness is the perfect example. By building a new department the King is acquiring power, but with the death of a major supporter or the reorganization of his opponents, the King’s tenuous hold can collapse and he’s back to being a puppet. Yoon Kang quests is so personal but he’s involved in something that can help or hurt all of Joseon. He’s starting to realize that powerful forces colluded to sacrifice his dad and his path to revenge may need to get bigger if he has a chance of succeeding. So far he’s got a great group of friends and allies around him but the more I like his gang the more I fret that bad things will soon happen to more people he cares about.
Click here to watch Joseon Gunman.