“A chance meeting that started at a gap in time. That meeting already ended a year ago…”
It’s a busy day in Seoul, ONE YEAR LATER.
Hee-Jin’s house is a mess and Soo-Kyung is on the phone with the movers. She hangs up and promptly receives a call from Hee-Jin. Hee-Jin wants to make sure that Soo-Kyung didn’t throw away tea set. Soo-Kyung complains that Hee-Jin never used it anyway but Hee-Jin claims she was just saving it until they moved to a nicer house. Hee-Jin makes Soo-Kyung swear and Soo-Kyung just tells Hee-Jin to worry about the photo shoot.
When Soo-Kyung hangs up, the hair stylist asks Hee-Jin if she is moving. Hee-Jin confirms. It’s the first time she has bought a house and moved. The hair stylist exclaims that Hee-Jin must have earned a lot of money, considering the number of commercials she has done in the past year. Hee-Jin clarifies that she actually didn’t make that much money since her appearance fee was so low.
The hair stylist gets a phone call and leaves. Right after, Hee-Jin gets a phone call from the director of the drama, “New Jang Hee Bin.” He is calling on behalf of his colleague, a director in the educational programming department who wants Hee-Jin to narrate a documentary for him. Hee-Jin agrees to do it since the director is asking her for a favor.
Hee-Jin meets with the documentary director and she asks why he wants her to narrate. The director explains that they are starting to film the next part of a documentary series called “The Untold Stories of History.” The series generally highlights hidden figures in history. The title for the next part is called “Queen In-Hyun’s Man.” Hee-Jin asks what the title means. The director replies that there was a rumored unofficial history of Queen In-Hyun having a lover. Hee-Jin is surprised. The drama she filmed didn’t mention anything of that. The director explains that because it was such a small event, it was probably taken out of the script. It was also only given a brief mention in the Annals. But last month, some very interesting evidence was discovered so the director hopes make an interesting story out of it. (Is it the letter?! Omg, it’s the letter!).
Hee-Jin is one her way to another job when she takes out the script for the documentary. She reads. “In 1694, on the twentieth year of the reign of King Sukjong, if you look at the Annals for the fifth month, you will find a interesting passage. Kim Boong-Do, who was a royal scholar, was rumored among the citizens to have frequently visited the Queen during the time she was stripped of her status.”
Hee-Jin repeats the name. “Kim Boong-Do? It’s my first time hearing that name. It wasn’t in the script for the drama. Kim…Boong…Do.” (My heart. Every time she says his name like that with no recognition, I bleed.)
Soo-Kyung has come home after a long day and Hee-Jin is still reading the script. Soo-Kyung asks why Hee-Jin agreed to do it when she doesn’t have that much time. Hee-Jin thinks it will be fun. “It’s called Queen In-Hyun’s man, not Jang Hee Bin’s Man. It’s strange, isn’t it?” Soo-Kyung asks, “Isn’t Queen In-Hyun’s man Sukjong?”
“Nope,” Hee-Jin explains. “Listen. At that time there was scholar named Kim Boong-Do and he is the ‘Queen In-Hyun’s Man.’ There were rumors that at the time when Queen In-Hyun was stripped of her status, Kim Boong-Do was her lover. This rumor reached the King. So the King brought Kim Boong-Do in for questioning and he died in the process. It was later revealed that the rumor was untrue. So eventually it was recorded in the Annals that he died an undeserved death. But this documentary is about what happened after that…” (Heart. Stopped. Beating.)
Hee-Jin continues. “It’s interesting starting from here. It was written in the Annals that this man died but records of him alive have been discovered recently. The descendants of Nam Goong Man Prime Minister revealed the minister’s journal last month (Nam Goong Man is the man with the daughter who the King wanted Boong-Do to marry). In the journal, the minister wrote that he saw Kim Boong-Do alive. Nam Goong Man saw Kim Boong-Do coincidentally one day while he was taking a survey of the country. This was a year after it was written in the Annals that Kim Boong-Do died.”
(I want to see Kim Boong-Do’s face so badly, guys. Only five minutes into the show but it feels like forever!)
It is Joseon and the subtitles read, “1695, fifth month, Pyeong-An province, Eui Ju.” The Prime Minister is walking the streets with his men and takes a break to eat. He wants to go wash his hands first so he heads out into the back alleyway where he bumps into a tall man, his face covered by a large hat. The minister asks if the man is alright but the man remains silent and tries to pass on. But the minister stops him, saying, “You look like someone I know.” Kim Boong-Do hurriedly pushes the minister away and runs. Soldiers come to the minister and ask him what’s wrong. The minister says, “What is this? I saw a dead man. Chase that man. Find out who he is!”
The soldiers chase after Boong-Do through the streets. (I want to see your face, Boong-Do! I want to hear your voice!) Boong-Do manages to find his way back the guesthouse and starts to pack his things. He hears the soldiers outside, however, asking for a tall man with short hair. The owner replies that a man of that description is here; he’s been hear about five days. Boong-Do steps out and the soldiers ask him if he knows that he just bumped into the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister wants to see him. While it first looks like Boong-Do will go with the men, he then quickly pushes them away and starts to run. The soldiers try to chase him.
The soldiers eventually just bring the only thing left from Boong-Do’s room to the Prime Minister. He looks it over, noting it is not a book that can be read by commoners. He flips the pages and sees a white document. He opens it and exclaims that the handwriting belongs to Kim Boong-Do. “How can this be?”
Boong-Do is once again running away on a horse. He comes across a divided road and asks his horse, “Where should we go? Where do you want to go?” (Why does it break my heart to hear him say this?!) The horse picks the left road and Boong-Do says, “This way? Okay, let’s go.” (Ugh, making a choice when it doesn’t make any difference. My poor Boong-Do.)
The Prime Minister reports to the King that country seems to be in a good state. The King asks if there was anything else and the minister answers that one strange thing happened. He saw someone who looked like Kim Boong-Do. It wasn’t just the physical appearance but also the handwriting and his writing style. He thought that perhaps Kim Boong-Do was alive so he wanted to question the man but the man ran away.
The King asks with a sad smile, “Did he look like he suffered?” The Prime Minister is surprised by the King’s reaction. The King continues, “I have a debt to Kim Boong-Do.” The Prime Minister tries to question the King but the eunuch interrupts him. The King warns the Prime Minister to not say anything about this to anyone. “That man is already a dead person.” The Prime Minister complies.
The Prime Minister later writes in his journal, “I don’t know what happened between the King and Kim Boong-Do, but I am sure that he is alive and that he is traveling around the country in order to not be caught. Because I know that due to the scholar’s sacrifice, the country has regained stability, my heart is saddened to think about his difficult life. But the fact that he lives must forever be kept a secret.”
Soo-Kyung asks Hee-Jin why she is not sleeping but Hee-Jin is too absorbed with the script. Hee-Jin feels bad for the man, Kim Boong-Do. Seeing that the King didn’t kill him but just secretly chased him away means that it wasn’t an actual affair but a one-sided love story. “I mean, how did a man from a well-known family, who passed the civil examination with top score at the age of nineteen and received the respect of the King, come to fall in love with the Queen? Tsk, tsk, tsk. This is totally a case of a life ruined because of a woman.” (That woman is you, Hee-Jin! You!!!!!!!!! My poor Boong-Do! Please remember him Hee-Jin. Please!)
Boong-Do is refilling his water container at a temple. He quietly passes the ladle to a couple behind him and walks away. The man thinks he recognizes Boong-Do.
Boong-Do is getting his horse ready to leave when a monk approaches him. It is the same monk that told Boong-Do about Sook Myung monk’s death. They bow to each other and the monk asks why Boong-Do is here. Boong-Do replies, “I thought Joseon was fairly large but after traveling for a year, I have passed the same places many times.”
The monk asks, “Until when will you keep running away? Aren’t you tired?” Boong-Do replies, “I am tired. But funnily enough, it has become the reason for living. Being chased is not bad. If I didn’t even have the goal of running away, I don’t know how I would have lived each day.” (I am weeping blood for this man.)
The monk looks on sadly. “If you have committed a crime, isn’t it right that you pay the price of the crime?” Boong-Do replies, “I want to do that too but getting caught is actually a larger crime.” The monk does not understand Boong-Do’s words. Boong-Do simply says, “I think I have stayed too long. I don’t want to bring trouble here too.”
Right at that moment, soldiers with the man who recognized him come for Boong-Do. Boong-Do tells the monk to say that he doesn’t know him. Boong-Do tries to run away but soldiers surround him. The head officer comes and proclaims that Boong-Do is to be arrested on the charges of murder. Boong-Do, without any weapons of his own and only using a rope, takes down a few men. He is then able to steal a weapon from one of the soldiers and holds it a point. He looks around his surroundings, however, and sees the soldiers all around and regular citizens watching in fear. Boong-Do drops his weapon.
It is the recording studio. Hee-Jin is in the sound booth, recording the narration. “Last month, the Prime Minister’s journal was revealed. In it was written the surprise meeting with the “dead” Kim Boong-Do and his conversation with the King. Kim Boong-Do’s letter that was found along with the journal is also drawing attention. In this letter, written in the sixth month of 1694- a month after his recorded death- we can feel a deep affection and the sadness of a separation towards a nameless person. Scholars speculate that this letter is addressed to Queen In-Hyun, the rumored receiver of his affection.”
Another narrator reads the letter. (OMG, nice deep voice but Boong-Do was not that old!) “This letter is written to both me and you. I may forget that I wrote this letter or this letter itself might disappear. But this letter is written for me and you, either one of us who may live on holding onto memories… My final wish is that I want to remember you. Not even having those memories in an aimless life will be hell. And you…I hope that even if you read this letter in the future, you won’t know who it is for.” Hee-Jin is watching and listening to this in the studio. (Ha! So this how Hee-Jin doesn’t need to know to read the Hanja. Brilliant, writer, brilliant.)
Hee-Jin continues her narration. “A man who wanted his love to forget him. It is probably because she was out of his reach. How about the man? Was he able to keep his memories? It seems that he didn’t forget. The woman is mentioned a few times in other documents found along with the letter.” (Aw, Boong-Do kept on writing about her.)
The director calls cut. They are done for the first episode. The actor who narrated Boong-Do’s letter is going out for a drink. Hee-Jin looks on wistfully at the screen in front of her, portraying “Kim Boong-Do” writing the letter.
The director comes into the sound booth, followed by Dong-Min. He winks at her and calls her out.
Dong-Min and Hee-Jin sit drinking coffee. Dong-Min comments that Hee-Jin seems to be doing all sorts of stuff these days. Hee-Jin replies that since the director asked for a favor, she couldn’t decline. Hee-Jin asks, “I read you were shooting overseas. When did you come back?” Dong-Min is happy her question. “So you were curious about me? You must have missed me in order to read news about me.” Hee-Jin clarifies. “I don’t want to say this because you’ll act even more superior but whenever I go on the internet, your news is everywhere.” Dong-Min replies, “It isn’t acting. I am just really superior. Only you call it acting.”
Hee-Jin asks, “Why are you here?” Dong-Min answers Hee-Jin with his own question. “You don’t have anyone these days, right? I’m so lonely. Let’s date again. Do you just want to work until you die? What the point of making all that money? I’m lonely and you’re lonely.”
It looks like this isn’t the first time that Dong-Min has asked within the past year. Hee-Jin says, “I read that you are dating someone in a girl group who is ten years younger.” Dong-Min whispers into Hee-Jin’s ear that the girl was too immature. “No matter where I look or how much I think about it, there is no other woman like Choi Hee-Jin.”
Hee-Jin just says, “Do I look that easy to you?” Dong-Min pulls out the aegyo. “What about a drink tonight?” Hee-Jin looks over to the other side of the lobby to see Na-Jeong walking. She says to Dong-Min, “How about her? I think you guys are perfect for each other.” Dong-Min yells to Na-Jeong. “Do you want to go out with me? Hee-Jin claims we are perfect for each other.” Na-Jeong can’t believe what she is hearing. Dong-Min continues, “If you want to date me, I will comply. Since I’m so lonely, I can’t be picky.” (Wow. Now that’s a proposal a woman can’t refuse. *Snort*)
Hee-Jin whispers, “You’re crazy,” and Na-Jeong denies the man with a very clear “X.”
Dong-Min turns to Hee-Jin. “See, there is no hope for her.” Hee-Jin asks, “When will you grow up?” Dong-Min answers, “I don’t want to.”
Chun-Soo calls Dong-Min away but when it looks like he is going to leave with Dong-Min, Chun-Soo comes back and quietly asks Hee-Jin, “What is Soo-Kyung up to these days? Is she meeting someone?” Hee-Jin asks, “Why do you want to know?” Chun-Soo answers, “Because I’m lonely these days.” Hee-Jin tries to save Soo-Kyung from Chun-Soo. “She hasn’t said anything but it looks like she has a boyfriend.” Chun-Soo is disappointed.
Soo-Kyung and Hee-Jin are in the van together. Soo-Kyung exclaims, “If he can’t sleep at night, he should take a sleeping pill. Why is he asking about me? Why are those two so similar to each other and why us? Do we look that easy to them? Are we their plaything?” Still, Soo-Kyung can’t help but feel a little flattered as she brushes out her eyelashes. “That old man does have a good eye for people though. So what did you say?” Hee-Jin tells her that she told Chun-Soo Soo-Kyung has a boyfriend. This is not what Soo-Kyung wanted to hear, however. She cries, “When did I have a boyfriend?” Hee-Jin explains, “I told him that so he would give up and not bother you.” Soo-Kyung’s expression shows that she wants to chew Hee-Jin up and feed her to the dogs. Hee-Jin asks, “Did I say something wrong?” Soo-Kyung pretends that nothing is wrong. “You did well.” Soo-Kyung whispers to herself, “She is no help to my life.”
Hee-Jin scolds the driver. “We’re going to be late.” Soo-Kyung yells at Hee-Jin, her bitterness finding an outlet. “I told you to not do this documentary! Why the heck are they doing an outdoor shooting when it’s just a few lines of narration? Are they trying to milk you for everything they can?!”
The documentary production team is at the palace courtyard and the director explains to Hee-Jin that she is to walk down the path and narrate. Hee-Jin tells her stylist that she used to come here every day when she was filming the drama but it’s been a year since she last came. Hee-Jin slowly looks around the palace courtyard as we see Boong-Do, back in Joseon time, being led into the palace by soldiers.
Boong-Do is stopped at the same place that Hee-Jin stands in the future. Boong-Do looks around with a wistful smile on his face. The soldier asks, “What are you looking at?” Boong-Do replies, “It’s been a while since I was last here.” The soldier laughs. How can someone like him have been to the palace before? Right at that moment, the Prime Minister and other officials enter the courtyard. Boong-Do quickly turns his head.
Hee-Jin starts to film. “The battle between the Western faction and Southern faction. The entangle destiny of In-Hyun Wang Hoo and Jang Ok Jeong. We are familiar with their story that has been retold many times in dramas. In the recorded bloodbath in the spring of 1694, there is a record of an interesting figure. Because of a scandal with Queen In-Hyun, the man had to prove his innocence through death. Kim Boong-Do, a member of the Western faction, a royal scholar, and 27 years of age. He is today’s main figure- Queen In-Hyun’s Man.” As Hee-Jin narrates, she walks through Kim Boong-Do and stands back-to-back to him. We also see the buildings of Seoul rising in Hee-Jin’s time.
Hee-Jin continues, “Did that man really love Queen In-Hyun? Or as it is written in the Annals, was it just a false charge?” As the screen color fades back and forth to signify the thinning veil between the two time periods, Hee-Jin suddenly starts to feel pain in her chest. She looks around a bit but composes herself. She starts to narrate again.
“Kim Boong-Do. A figure recorded in history as man from a great family who passed the civil examination with top score, received respect from the King, and died after loving the Queen.” Tears start to fall from Hee-Jin’s eyes while at the same time, tears form in Boong-Do’s eyes. “Starting from now, we will take a look at his short life.”
The director calls cut. “What’s wrong?” Hee-Jin tries to explain but can’t stop from crying.
Boong-Do is led to prison to wait for his questioning tomorrow. The director comes over to Hee-Jin and Hee-Jin explains that it was just dust in her eye. But Hee-Jin can’t shake away the strange feeling so she once again looks around.
Boong-Do sits in prison, waiting. The prison guard throws Boong-Do his satchel and informs him that the questioning will start early tomorrow. Boong-Do asks who will question him and learns that it will be the head investigator, Yoon Sung-Moon. Yoon Sung-Moon is the man who was with Boong-Do on the day he disappeared from the city streets after being shot by arrows.
Boong-Do remembers what he said to the King. “Asking you to kill me is in order for me to live. I will live. I want to live. So please let me die honorably. Then I will never reappear in this land again.”
Boong-Do repeat the words, “I will never reappear in this land again. I will never reappear in this land again”
Hee-Jin is driving home and gets a call from Soo-Kyung. Soo-Kyung heard from the director that Hee-Jin cried while filming the opening of the documentary. She asks why. She heard Hee-Jin cried very sadly. Hee-Jin replies that she doesn’t know herself the reason for her tears. “Tears just suddenly started to fall and I was surprised myself. Suddenly, I was so sad without any reason.” Soo-Kyung asks, “Did you drink? What is so sad?” (There are different levels of “sad” in the Korean language and the word being used here describes a sadness that really comes from within.) Hee-Jin thinks she needs a beer when she gets home. She hangs up but she is still finding it hard to breathe. She turns on the music to distract herself.
Boong-Do opens his satchel and sees his cellphone and necktie. Boong-Do carefully holds the necktie and remembers Hee-Jin putting it on for him, teaching him that the purpose of the necktie was for kissing. Boong-Do repeats, “The purpose of the necktie.” He starts to tie the necktie from the ceiling, standing on a barrel. (What the $%#&*!)
It starts to rain in Seoul and Hee-Jin sits at the red light. She says to herself, “Why does it rain so frequently.?”
Boong-Do tearfully places the necktie around his neck. The pain in Hee-Jin’s chest worsens and tears pour out from her eyes. Back and forth we go between the two people until Boong-Do, with finality, drops his hand from the necktie and prepares to step off the barrel. Hee-Jin cries uncontrollably, “What is this? What is this?”
Boong-Do pushes away the barrel. He hangs. Hee-Jin holds her head and chest, sobbing, “What is this?”
Suddenly, Hee-Jin remembers typing “sun soo” into a cellphone. “Who is sun-soo?” She looks up the contact list on her phone but can’t find the name. She remembers the number, though, and dials it.
On the floor near Boong-Do’s dangling legs, his phone lights up. The screen shows Hee-Jin’s face with the title, “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman.”
Hee-Jin’s phone rings but no one picks up. Hee-Jin drops her phone because she is hyperventilating. She has to get out of the car and as she stands in the rain, memories flood back to her. “You’re a player over there too, right?” “Mr. Player calls ‘The World’s Most Beautiful Woman’.” Boong-Do’s voice- “I will definitely return after solving everything.”
Hee-Jin breaks down.
Hee-Jin is back at the television station, dripping wet. She runs into the director of the documentary. He asks her why she is here. She asks to see the footage of “Queen In-Hyun’s Man.”
The director leads her to a theater to watch it. (It’s a room where audiences pre-watch a show and they record the audiences’ reaction for the background soundtrack.) The director shows her how to work the equipment. He looks on curiously at Hee-Jin but turns the lights off for her.
Hee-Jin starts to watch the documentary. She sees herself in the opening of the documentary, at the palace. Hee-Jin fast-forwards to where the she is talking about the letter. “Kim Boong-Do’s letter that was found along with the journal is also drawing attention. In this letter, written in the sixth month of 1694- a month after his recorded death- we can feel a deep affection and the sadness of a separation towards a nameless person. Scholars speculate that this letter is addressed to Queen In-Hyun, the rumored receiver of his affection.” Hee-Jin hears Boong-Do’s words, now knowing whom the letter was addressed to.
“This is letter written both to me and you. I may forget that I even wrote this letter, or this letter itself might disappear. This letter is for me and you, either one of us who may live on holding onto memories. When I obtained this amulet by chance, I wanted to know what the cause and effect/reason was. First, I thought the reason was so that I would be able to fulfill my dream. Then I thought perhaps the reason was for our fateful meeting. Then I thought it must be for me to live in a new world. But now I have belatedly realized the real cause and effect. In order to save my own life, I would have to lose everything. My future, my name, my values… my people…and also you.”
Outside in Hee-Jin’s car, her phone lights up. The screen shows Boong-Do’s number.
“I don’t know what will happen now. Will we forget each other or will we suffer forever, unable to let go of our memories? My final wish is to be able to remember you. To not have even those memories in an aimless life will be hell. And you.. even if you read this in the future, I hope you won’t know who this letter is for.”
The letter ends and Hee-Jin’s narration is heard once again. “A man who wanted his love to forget him. It is probably because she was out of his reach. How about the man? Was he able to keep his memories? It seems that he didn’t forget. The woman is mentioned a few times in other documents found along with the letter.”
Hee-Jin cries softly in the theater. The door opens but Hee-Jin doesn’t look up. She says, “I’m sorry. Just a moment please.”
A familiar voice is heard- “Why won’t you pick up after calling me?” Hee-Jin turns around slowly.
Boong-Do is standing by the doorway, in his black suit. Hee-Jin freezes. She can’t believe her eyes. Boong-Do speaks first. “I had to search a long time. Didn’t you call me? One hour ago?” Boong-Do smiles as he holds up his phone. Hee-Jin is still a statue.
Flashback to Boong-Do hanging from the ceiling but in his final moments of consciousness, he hears the phone ringing. He opens his eyes and sees the phone lit up with Hee-Jin’s face on the screen. Boong-Do desperately pulls at the necktie and struggles to break free. Because of his long legs, he can brace himself on the prison doors while the necktie loosens. (There has never been a greater use of long legs. Never! And thank god the necktie material is silky!) Boong-Do falls to the ground and he struggles to answer. Just as he slides the call connection on, he transports to the future. He places the phone to the ear and struggles to say “Hello” but Hee-Jin at that time has just dropped the phone and run out of her car.
Boong-Do focuses his eyes and he sees Seoul bustling around him. He starts to laugh in joy and sits himself up. Boong-Do’s voice has found his strength again and he cries into the phone, “Hello? Answer please, ‘The World’s Most Beautiful Woman.” Boong-Do continues to laugh in joy despite the silence on the other side.
Hee-Jin is still in freeze frame while Boong-Do tries to hold back his tears. “Are you going to keep staring at me like that? If you called out someone who was living well, you have to take responsibility.” Hee-Jin finally unfreezes. She orders, “Close the door.” Boong-Do obeys. Hee-Jin then commands, “Come here.” Boong-Do obeys. Hee-Jin slowly walks toward Boong-Do and gently caresses his face. “You’re real. You’re really alive.”
Then Hee-Jin simply asks, “How have you been during the past year?” Boong-Do replies, “I traveled the country, leaving a lover in every province. The year went by really fast.” Hee-Jin laughs. “You’re lying. The evidence is all here.” Boong-Do looks at the screen that is now showing his letter. He pretends to not recognize the letter and just asks, “What is that?”
Hee-Jin brings Boong-Do’s face back to her. “What happened? The talisman?” Boong-Do answers. “I burned the talisman.” Hee-Jin asks, “How did you come here?” Boong-Do replies, “I said I came because you called.” Hee-Jin- “Me?” Boong-Do- “You.”
Boong-Do cups Hee-Jin’s face and memorizes every curve and every eyelash. He gives a long blink, like the one he gave at the red carpet, the blink that conveys more than words ever can. Hee-Jin blinks back.
Boong-Do speaks. “The purpose of the necktie. I missed the purpose that you taught me. I almost used it for something else.” Hee-Jin asks, “You missed the purpose of the necktie?” Boong-Do answers, “So much that I could die.” Hee-Jin pulls at Boong-Do’s tie. “You mean this?” Hee-Jin start to pull Boong-Do in, but Boong-Do has waited too long and leans in quickly for a kiss. Hee-Jin holds on tightly to his tie.
Hee-Jin narrates, “A chance meeting that started at a gap in time. That meeting already ended a year ago. Right now, we did not meet because of a monk’s strange talisman but because of our very own link of memories. So we start this second meeting. Now I am his savior and the price for that is being by my side forever.”
Boong-Do stops kissing to look at the screen. It is showing his letter. “My letter still exists? How?” Hee-Jin explains that it was found with the Prime Minister’s belongings and his descendants revealed it last month. Boong-Do is indignant. “Why would they do that with someone’s private things? I have to get rid of it.” Hee-Jin informs Boong-Do that the letter is in a museum now. He can never get rid of it. Forever. “Or at least until the museum falls down.”
Boong-Do is angry. “I’m losing my taste.” (Meaning he is going to go crazy.) Hee-Jin laughs and they proceed to kiss again (heating up my screen).
On the theater screen we see poor Soo-Kyung sitting once again with Boong-Do. “I’m REALLY going crazy here. You just suddenly appear and say you are Hee-Jin’s boyfriend. I have never heard about you from Hee-Jin before.” Soo-Kyung sighs and folds her arms. “From now on, you have to tell me truth. Do you understand?” Boong-Do replies yes. Soo-Kyung starts the all-too-familiar line of questioning. “What school do you go too?” Boong-Do answers the first few but can’t help but laugh. Soo-Kyung asks him why he is laughing. Boong-Do just tells her what she wants to know. “My parents are both dead. I live alone. I have an inheritance.” Soo-Kyung says this time, “Oh my god, how perfect. You’re a perfect man.” (She is echoing the voices of fangirls all around the world.) Boong-Do continues, “My father worked for the country.” Soo-Kyung- “Wow, politics?” The fourth wall breaks and we see the actors start to laugh.
Ah, love that transcends time and memories that are more powerful than a talisman.
Time is both the enemy and friend to this couple. Three hundred years separate them but it is also the time they have spent together, and the memories they have made, that creates a connection that can’t be severed, be it swords, assassins, death or fire.
The first time the talisman was torn, it was through no will of their own and Hee-Jin retained her memories as if it was a dream, while Boong-Do’s memories were suppressed. When the talisman was burned by Boong-Do for the sake of Hee-Jin, he was able to keep his memories while her memories were lost. But once again they came back to Hee-Jin, unable to be suppressed forever.
*EDIT- I have to add here, after reading the comments, my theory regarding time, memory, and the talisman.
My theory is that memories transcend power, time…everything. So even though the talisman burned and time was reset, Boong-Do and Hee-Jin remembered it (eventually) both times. The writer has shown through the first instance of the talisman breaking that memories are ultimately unaffected for Hee-Jin and Boong-Do, whether time is reset and the talisman torn apart. The second time when it is burned, memories still last even though once again, time is reset and the talisman is gone. It makes sense in this story that Boong-Do was able to retain his memories and that Hee-Jin’s came back to her.
Boong-Do has been written as the active figure in this drama, while Hee-Jin is the reactive character. He is the one who gets to travel back and forth, fight villains, and risk life and death. So many decisions and the ability to choose rests in him, and in a lesser character or in a poorly written drama, we would have found this unfair and unequal.
The rules of time-travel were laid out by the writer and we could have blamed her for leaving Hee-Jin so helpless and powerless to do anything. This aspect of Hee-Jin would have been a glaring flaw in the drama if Hee-Jin was not such a functional human being. Yes, Hee-Jin waited at an empty park and cried, but she only went when she had time. She still continued filming and doing what she had to do in her daily life.
I have said this before but I love Hee-Jin’s reaction every time when Boong-Do returns to her. She never dramatically drops the phone or rushes over to Boong-Do. She always quietly asks after him, wanting to know what happened,
While Boong-Do can physically move back and forth through time, it is Hee-Jin that can spiritually (for the lack of a better word) connect with Boong-Do. She is the one that feels Boong-Do through time and not the other way around. Hee-Jin is doing what she can, opening up the gap in time so her phone call reaches Boong-Do and saves him from dying.
As for Boong-Do’s choice to die… Boong-Do is a man of his word and his promise to never appear in Joseon again has to be kept through his death. I am incredibly happy with this writer who has laid out our characters and their choices so carefully throughout the drama, so that an action never feels like it was a last-minute stunt to keep the drama going.
As you may be able to tell, I am happy with ending. While we didn’t get to see Boong-Do and Hee-Jin make a life together, we got a little bit of that in the previous episode and we also got some major kissing in this one. This episode was not as emotionally packed as the previous one (at least for me) but it was incredibly well-suited to the entire tone of the drama.
The verdict has come in and this drama is now my number one drama of all time. “Damo” has been my number one for nine years and while many dramas have come close, none have been able to topple her place. But here is “Queen In-Hyun’s Man,” a wonderful balance of comedy, romance, and thriller. The writing was subtle, the direction sure-handed, and the acting was tailored to the characters. “Damo” tore my heart out but “Queen In-Hyun’s Man” did that and piece it back together again.
Dramas are made for entertainment and many remain at that. But once in a while, a special gem comes along that will latch itself onto your heart and head, and remain there for a very long time. There is no doubt that my experience of the drama was enhanced by the readers of this blog. Thank you so much for reading through my uneven writing and inexperienced recapping. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions. Thank you for sending me virtual hugs and cookies. I felt and ate them all. Thank you for loving this drama as much as I did, even if you perhaps didn’t as much. Thank you for sharing Boong-Do and Hee-Jin. I will keep them safe in a little corner of my heart.