This episode really delivered some powerful character developments for Tae-do who attempted to make some headway with Jung, despite the contrived plot elements that got in the way. However, it allowed Kim Beom to take the helm and carry the episode. He makes this drama interesting where it would otherwise be boring. His portrayal of Tae-do's devotion to Jung is pure and passionate. Tae-do carries the intensity of his love for Jung into the other parts of his life. The interactions he has with Gwanghae, Hwa-ryeong and everyone else crackle with the electricity of his strength of character. It's drama gold.
Unfortunately for the rest of the drama, it is unable to keep up with Kim Beom's performance. The plot is linear. It cannot seem to handle more than one problem at a time, which makes this show boring and predictable. Rather than focus on an object, this time the plot centers around the Ming envoys plans to murder the creator of the teacup. Why? Because the success of Joseon completing the teacup challenge bruised his fragile ego and that is a crime worthy of death.
Tae-do and Jung
What baffles me in this episode is how neither Gwanghae, Tae-do, nor the king figured out that the Ming envoy wanted to kill the creator of the teacup or at least deduce that the dude was up to no good. On top of the Ming envoy's shifty behavior, there is Kang-chun's strange decision. Why would Kang-chun, the head of Punwon Kiln, allow a mere laborer to accept a prestigious award in place of his son? Gwanghae, Tae-do and the king are supposed to be politically savvy and understand that relations with the Ming are tentative at best. It took a lot of running around for the truth to finally reach Tae-do, who then told Gwanghae, who then told the king. The episode ended with Jung being dragged away to be murdered after it took Tae-do and Gwanghae all episode to figure out that something was amiss. So clunky.
There is another idea that I can barely see running through the story, but it is worth pointing out: the concept of the word "orabeoni", or older brother. Tae-do is Jung's orabeoni by virtue of their lifelong friendship, not by blood. In Korean, the word has a lot of different meanings that make it a very volatile word. It can mean brother by blood, a brother by friendship, or an older man as a romantic partner. Jung calls Tae-do orabeoni because she considers him a platonic brother. Tae-do wants her to start seeing her as a romantic partner. In this episode he starts to make his moves on her, trying to change her perception of him and the use of the word, but he is interrupted by the appearance of Gwanghae. Gwanghae is not happy to learn that Tae-do is not Jung's orabeoni by blood because that means that Tae-do can have designs on her.
So much conflict over one word! The Korean language is amazing.
Another man who will eventually hold the title of Jung's orabeoni is Yook-do, Kang-chun's son. If you remember, Jung's mother was raped by Kang-chun and then murdered under Kang-chun's orders. He didn't want an illegitimate child to take any status away from his beloved Yook-do. Yook-do is Jung's actual orabeoni, her blood brother. His concern for her already mirrors that of a brother and I'm looking forward to that relationship growing. There were hints this episode that Yook-do may discover their relationship soon. Or, that Kang-chul will have to work very hard to keep the life and death of Yook-do's half-sibling a secret.
Let's turn to the "cute" in this episode of which there was quite a bit. Tae-do mooning over Jung was precious and definitely one of the more enjoyable moments. There was also the requisite fashion show scene where Jung is dressed up to be presented to the Ming envoy to receive "her prize". First Gwanghae, then Tae-do, get to gawk at how prettily she cleans up. I really loved Tae-do's reaction to her - his entire demeanor softened. I have a feeling I'm going to be seriously second lead shipping.
As for next episode, I foresee Gwanghae getting in trouble with the king for going after Jung. I see Tae-do getting in trouble with Consort Inbin for leaving his post beside the youngest prince. I bet Yook-do will come to her defense when she returns and Kang-chun will hate on her. More than all of these, however, I'm curious to see how the relationships develop. They are the most interesting part of this show
Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goddess of Fire Jeongi" Episode 11"
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