While the last episode closed with Ji-yoon promising sweet, sweet revenge against Jeong-hak for all the suffering he's put her though, the framing device this episode is pretty subdued. That's a bit of an odd way to put it, considering the highlight is a nun rocking out with her guitar but no, really, all that happens is that Ji-yoon and friends manage to smuggle the art out of the nightclub without Jeong-hak getting a clear idea of what exactly it is they're doing. I don't know either, really, but whatever, that part was cute at least.
Then it's back to the era of Saimdang and that too, is surprisingly subdued. Yes, Saimdang and Lee Gyum are still trying to run off from assassins and that plot is never going to stop being ridiculous, but there's actually fairly little of them. Most of the screentime is focused on King Jungjong discussing the international implications of good art production and Won-soo struggling to adapt his bumbling goofiness to a new job and worrying about how he's doing as a single dad.
The King Jungjong segments are notable because they have at last, finally, given us a clear-cut explanation about why he or anyone else in the higher echelons of government should care about art. And there's decent historical basis for this too. With European imperialism, at least, the claims that native cultures did not produce "art" was supposed to be proof that they weren't real civilizations.
Of course, "art" is an entirely subjective measurement which changes from century to century- no one cares about calligraphy anymore. So once again I'm disappointed that "Saimdang: Light's Diary" makes no apparent effort to explain to us why Saimdang's art, specifically, was great. Still, this is more than I was expecting from this particular episode. And beyond that Won-soo is surprisingly relatable in his angst about being separated from Saimdang.
Once again, though, as is usually the case, we have to end with the lynch mob coming after Saimdang and Lee Gyum. And there was a swordfight in the middle somwhere- I think. I'm not totally confident about that because at this point I just block those scenes out as the pointless spectacles they are. While not as outrageous as the typical episode of "Saimdang: Light's Diary", once again this one just serves to remind me how much better this drama would be if the production team would stop spending so much time on conspiracies.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 16"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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