The morning greeted Soyong with a horrible headache and regrets. Her memories of last night were blurry but she remembered just enough to understand that she made a terrible mistake agreeing to the drinks. She thought she could manage it: leading the King to drink more than her and end the night early. But to her disappointment, the King refused to fall for her tricks.
Her head felt like it was about to explode and she didn’t want to open her eyes and welcome a new day. All she wanted was to stay in bed and pity herself a bit more.
“Ugh, why…” Soyong moaned in embarrassment, kicking a blanket without her eyes open.
She remembered the exact moment when she gave up and drank more. In the moment she felt like drowning her sorrows in wine. All while hopping the King won’t guess she returned because he was drinking himself. It was too risky on her part but what choice did she have? If she would chase him away it could rise suspicious and she desperately needed more time to come up with her survival strategy.
Unfortunately, that meant she couldn’t spend the whole day in bed no matter how much her head hurt. With another disappointed groan, Soyong stretched her arms up and finally opened her eyes only to shudder at the sight of the King beside her smiling widely as he observed her.
“Did you sleep well, Chingu1Chingu – a friend.?” The King asked with sheer curiosity. He lay on top of the blanket, resting his head on his bent arm looking pleased with himself as a cat.
“Wh… What are you still doing here?” Soyong squeaked, tugging her blanket as high as possible, leaving only her eyes uncovered. Suddenly she wanted to be tiny and disappear. Or for the King to disappear because she doesn’t know how to react to him sleeping in her room.
“I felt so sleepy from alcohol that I didn’t have any energy to return to my residence,” The King explained, sitting on the bed and stretching his arms sideways. “It’s good that I could stay with my Chingu,” he added with a wink.
With every word leaving the King’s mouth Soyong’s brows raised higher because she knew his residence was next to Daejojeon Hall2Daejojeon Hall – Queen of Joseon’s residence after the wedding. in less than five minutes’ walk. It must be some form of mocking only close friends could have but it didn’t make Soyong feel any better.
She wanted to escape the unfamiliar awkward situation as fast as possible. Soyong jumped from her bed throwing her side of the blanket to the King’s face but he masterfully caught it with a laugh.
“What’s the matter?” He definitely sounded teasing to her ears and it made Soyong almost lose her mind. What the hell was his relationship with the Chef?
“Nothing,” Soyong puffed not even trying to hide her frustration anymore. Things getting too unpredictable for her and hungover didn’t help at all.
She needed an excuse to chase him away until she spilled the fact, she was not Bong Hwan anymore. The King made her too uncomfortable, he was too friendly and teasing. She got used to his mockery but it had a hostile tone unlike now.
“I was just thinking…” Soyong stopped abruptly, suddenly having an idea. She could use his friendliness to her advantage. “I was thinking it would be reasonable to finally consider the reputation I have here.”
She clasped her hands behind her back as her brother used to do, so she could appear as still having a male soul inside: “Who knows how long I would stuck here. Better have some reputation than none at all.”
The King rose to his feet as well, walking to stand opposite her. He crossed his hands behind his back copying her posture: “That’s a very random thought, Chingu.”
Oh, if she would hear that word one more time, Soyong swore she would definitely lose her temper. But she composed herself and forced a crooked smile: “It’s not random at all. Just logical.”
She sighed, pouting her lips: “I must be prepared for the worst. This leads me to think that it’s very suspicious of the daughter to never visit her father when he’s having a hard time.”
Soyong attentively observed the King’s reaction, the way he narrowed his brows and pouted his lips before nodding in agreement. She still felt some unserious vibe from him but couldn’t tell for sure. If only she could have the opportunity to know him better. There were things which the King was spontaneous about and there were things in him that were as solid as a cold stone. And his refusal to get close to his future wife was in the latter category.
“I see where you’re coming from,” The King finally voiced out. “However, it’s very dangerous to leave the palace without the guards,” Soyong opened her mouth to argue but he didn’t let her, continuing in a strict tone: “I’ll arrange everything myself and let you know later.”
“But…” Soyong still wanted to try to persuade him to let her go. She maybe could do it in disguise however the look on the King’s face told her there was no room for discussion.
Another wave of headache caught her and with a groan she put both hands on her head, trying to keep it from hurting.
“Oh-ho, how can you go anywhere in such a state?” The King clicked his tongue and shook his head. “I know what you need… a spicy ramyeon…”
Soyong gasped suddenly, hearing about ramyeon which she knew people in the future use for a romantic call. She clasped her hands above her chest, closing her nightwear even more. How could he suggest this? Soyong felt offended and embarrassed at the same time, both led to her cheeks heating.
The King looked confused but suddenly changed in face: “That’s not what I meant,” he mumbled, waving his hands before her. His ears turned red in obvious embarrassment which told Soyong he knew about the meaning of the dish. “It’s good for hangover,” he explained. “I’ll ask the royal chef…” he started walking backward to the doors. “He will prepare a pot of ramyeon for you…”
Soyong turned her head to the side, watching in bewilderment how the King awkwardly retreated from her bed chamber and almost tripped on his way out.
“Just wait,” was the last words he said disappearing from her room. Or rather running away once servants opened the doors.
Both Choi Sanggung and Yeon shared confused looks: “What happened with His Majesty?”
Soyong shook her head, refusing to discuss the embarrassing misunderstanding. It seemed the King was even more flustered than she was. They obviously had a different experience with the dish and deep down in her heart, Soyong was happy the King knew ramyeon more as a hangover remedy.
As the King promised, soon a bowl with spicy noodles was before her. Soyong inhaled a marvelous aroma first before taking a little sip of the broth.
“Ahhh,” Soyong let out a satisfied sigh. “I thought once I will be back home, I’ll never taste something so amazing again…”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying it, Your Highness,” Choi Sanggung smiled at her warmly. “But you shouldn’t eat something so spicy and unusual too often.”
Soyong chuckled: “I’m not going to complain about your nagging Choi Sanggung because I missed you a lot.”
“But you never said a word about it before?” Choi Sanggung looked puzzled. “And it’s not nagging, I’m simply sharing my wisdom”
“Well, I always wanted to,” Soyong confessed mixing the noodles better with her chopsticks. “After everything I’ve been through, I made a decision to do as I please.”
Soyong took a big bunch of noodles in her mouth, sipping it all in one go. And only when she swallowed it all she noticed an almost terrified expression on Choi Sanggung’s face. The Yeon by her side let out a nervous chuckle as well.
“It’s not going to be that bad,” Soyong promised. “Besides, I will leave once the opportunity occurs…”
“You want to leave?” Yeon shouted suddenly.
Soyong didn’t plan to shock them so much right away. She decided it while she was in the future, if she managed to come back to Joseon, she would leave the palace and find a way to live as freely as she wished.
Soyong put chopsticks back on the table and took a deep breath in before voicing her intentions: “Nothing is keeping me here. I wanted to escape the loveless marriage and chose the drastic way out. I won’t ever try harm myself like that again.” Her friends looked relieved hearing that. But Soyong continued: “However, my goal didn’t change. I must leave this place.”
“Aigoo3Aigoo – “Oh my” or “Oh my God”, Your Highness really think you can escape my nagging,” Choi Sanggung shook her head. “I lived in the palace enough, maybe it’s time to start fresh behind those walls.”
“Me too,” Yeon nodded smiling widely.
Soyong smiled: “Yeon-ah, you were here only a couple of months. Have you had enough already?”
“I know you miss your mother, especially at times like that,” Yeon looked like she was pitying her again. It’s always been like that when Soyong’s mother was mentioned.
“We at least make sure we going to be by your side and you won’t miss us,” Choi Sanggung smiled.
“I really need to visit home today,” Soyong blinked, trying to hold her emotions in place but tears treacherously gathered in her eyes.
“You should eat first and take a nap,” Choi Sanggung suggested. “You can’t visit your mother in the state you are now.”
Soyong nodded smiling. Of course Yeon knew how important it was for Soyong to visit her late mother, especially now. But knowing that Choi Sanggung, the one Soyong considered a motherly figure she so needed in her life, also doesn’t try to talk her out of it means the world to her.
The King stalling her visit to her natal home means that she must break his royal command and leave in disguise. Her loyal friends assured her that they would prepare everything while she rested.
Even after ramyeon she felt like she could sleep for a week and still be tired. Maybe it was all the stress from her sudden come back or maybe it was another side-effect of time-traveling. Soyong didn’t know which one it was but she must abide by her body’s wishes so she can visit her mother looking good and healthy.
Luckily for Soyong no one disturbed her for the whole day and she had time to rest. And later after she woke up, she decided to leave when it started getting darker. At daylight she might meet too many people who can recognize her even in male attire. And finally, after having an evening supper, Soyong changed into a dark-green male hanbok and was ready to go.
“Your Highness must come back before the curfew; the bell will ring 28 times,” Yeon reminded Soyong tying a hat under Soyong’s chin.
“Do not worry, Yeon-ah, I will come back safe and in time,” Soyong assured her.
Choi Sanggung looked worried: “Your Highness should be careful. His Majesty is right, it’s dangerous outside of the palace.”
“That’s debatable,” Soyong mumbled so that only she and Yeon could hear.
Her maid chuckled at first but became serious again: “She’s right, you must be very, very careful!”
Soyong put both hands on Yeon’s shoulders: “Yeon-ah, nothing bad is going to happen to me.”
She turned to look at Choi Sanggung and nodded to her, assuring she really meant it.
Soyong left the palace through the main gate, showing the fake identification tag. Guards gave her suspicious looks, observing her from head to toe but let her go when she started boasting about an important “meeting” with kisaengs4Kisaengs were women from outcast or slave families who were trained to be courtesans, providing artistic entertainment and conversation to men of the upper class..
Instead of taking a main street full of people, Soyong chose a shortcut to her house. She wasn’t afraid at first because people still were around but after a few turns she entered the empty street. Dark street looked ominous and gave Soyong goosebumps so she paced through it as fast as she could until she walked to the crossroads. The bright moon illuminated the opening much better than the narrow street and Soyong felt herself safer here.
However, the quiet footsteps behind her made the hair on the back of her neck rise. She relaxed way too soon, Soyong understood that the moment she turned and saw three men with swords in their hands approaching her.
“We don’t need your money,” one of the men said, completely destroying Soyong’s hope of a simple robbery. They came specifically after her.
“Who sent you?” Soyong asked walking backward but the men moved also, taking her into the circle with no way to escape.
“Your Highness knows who,” the same man smirked. He slowly approached her, raising his sword to put it at her neck. “They told us you won’t miss today to sneak out and they were right…”
Her family, Soyong bitterly thought. Only her family could tell him how important this day was for her. But her family always thought of her as a fragile woman who couldn’t put up a fight and they would be right if she still was a depressed girl from the palace. She might not know how to defend herself but she still going to fight for her life like a tigress.
“You might think I’m an easy target,” Soyong straightened her back, looking the man in front of her straight in the eyes. “But I assure you, it’s not the case with me.”
Soyong whole body tensed, ready for the attackers’ first move. They were overly confident which could give her an advantage. And she’s going to use anything that could help her survive this night.
The man before Soyong swung the sword in his hand and she twirled right under his raised arm to escape the circle her attackers got her into. But she of course couldn’t move far, the same man reacted faster and caught her by the collar from the back with his free hand. Soyong turned abruptly and kicked him under the ribs with her knee. The man let out a whining sound, releasing her from his grip.
Unfortunately for Soyong, there were two more men to help him catch her and there was the only thing she could do: cry for help and hope someone nearby heard her plea.
She screamed at the top of her lungs as she tried to put more distance between her and the attackers. But they approached her fast and her screams were silenced with a hand over her mouth. Without hesitation, Soyong bit the man’s hand, making him scream in pain. The next thing Soyong knew was that she was thrown on the ground with such force her hat fell back.
Soyong felt her hand hurting from hitting the ground but she had no time to take a look. She turned to face her attackers again, breathing heavily. With grim satisfaction, she noted how their joyful mood disappeared now. However, she was still in distress with no one to help her.
“Three against one,” she spat out with disgust. “How it’s fair?”
“Life is unfair as you see,” the man she hit before said, walking closer to her. “In a fair world, I would fight a decent opponent, not some woman…”
As he said that, the shadow jumped out of nowhere between them. Without saying a word, a man in black unshed his sword and attacked Soyong’s offenders. Masterfully he blocked the swords of two other men and with a low groan, pushed them back and kicked one of them in the side. The man screamed, falling on his one knee. It was the same man that Soyong kicked before, it’s probably hurt to be hit twice almost in the same spot.
With Soyong’s mysterious savior keeping two of the attackers occupied, she had to take care of the third one who walked towards her now. Soyong untied her hat, that hung behind her and threw it in his face. As the man pushed it away, Soyong threw dust into his face next. He groaned, trying to clean his eyes and it let Soyong enough time to run aside.
Meanwhile, the man in black kicked one of his opponents, turned, and injured the other with his sword. His moves were so mesmerizing and smooth as if the swordfight was as easy for him as breathing. For a moment Soyong stood simply watching the fight in awe.
Soyong used to watch how her cousins trained, from times when they used wooden swords to the real ones when they grew older. Her orabeoni, Byeong-in, was the most skillful swordsman she ever saw. Then she used to spy on the King and saw his attempts to fight that usually ended with him whining his hands were hurt.
The man in black was twirling as he masterfully fought two men at the same time and his sword was shining in the moonlight, making Soyong’s heart rejoice that at least someone in this world could just protect her.
However, three against the one was still too many. She saw how the one who tried to attack her before, cleared his eyes and ran to help his pals who were obviously losing.
Soyong could’ve run away to safety at this point but how could she let her savior deal with them alone? Cursing under her breath, she ran after the third attacker and jumped on his back, trying to pull him away.
He screamed in rage and tried to throw her off his back but Soyong only scratched his neck with her nails, refusing to give up so easily. The man turned from side to side and eventually, Soyong had to let go, jumping on the ground. But she didn’t have time to move away from his raised hand. He slapped her across the cheek so hard that Soyong lost her balance and fell down.
Her offender’s neck was red from blood showing from the scratches Soyong left on him and with pure hatred in his eyes, he swung his sword at her. Soyong shut her eyes, tensing with her whole body, ready for the pain but the pain never came. When she opened her eyes, the man had fallen flat on the ground and the man in black already turned away to continue his fight with the other two.
Breathing heavily, Soyong very slowly got up, taking the stone from the ground. With the roar, she ran towards the remaining men, in the hope she could hit one of them unconscious but her savior already defeated them both. One fell on the ground with his thigh bleeding, the other was hit in the head, just the one that tried to kill Soyong just a moment ago.
Soyong froze with the stone in her hand, looking around and realizing that the only people left standing were her and the man in black. She still felt alert, holding a steady grip on the stone: her only weapon now.
Her savior breathed heavily, his broad shoulders rose and fell with each breath. Slowly, he turned around and, in the moonlight, Soyong finally saw who really saved her.
She breathed out, relaxing from the tension all at once, seeing the King look worriedly back at her.
==== POST CREDIT SCENE ===
The unfortunate thing in the Joseon era was a downgrade of the day even if it started sunny and good. Bong Hwan didn’t want to be involved with the palace’s intrigues at all but being in a position of the Queen made it inevitable.
His deal with the King finally started working as many palace attendants started filling the lake with water. For that, he and the King had to work together and persuade the Great Queen Dowager that she wouldn’t get any heir otherwise. Of course they had to trick her, talking about the imbalance of power and spirits but it worked eventually.
Bong Hwan finally got the hope he needed that he could come back without falling too deep into the personal life of the Queen. But the different fate waited for him and he couldn’t just ignore what he found out.
Today Jo Hwa Jin got caught in a difficult situation where she had to give false testimony to save her loyal maid. The King was desperate, falling on his knees and begging to spare the concubine’s life because she was innocent. Like Superman in action, the King was ready to stop the sword’s blade of executor with his bare hand to protect someone he loved.
Bong Hwan was the only one who could save them both and his feelings for the King’s concubine played a big part in it. Not just because he can’t stand another man being cooler than him. No, that wasn’t the only reason.
Bong Hwan sighed, lowering his head as he recalled how he revealed Kim Soyong’s secret before the whole court. The secret she probably wouldn’t want people to know. That at the night before her wedding, the future Queen tried to commit suicide.
That saved the day but put Bong Hwan in a difficult position when Soyong’s family threatened to depose the Queen or worse. The head of the family and Queen’s uncle, Kim Jwa Geun gave Bong Hwan creeps, that man would easily kill his own blood relative to gain something useful. If it was what Kim Soyong endured before trying to end her life, Bong Hwan could understand her desperation.
“I shouldn’t have interfered,” Bong Hwan mumbled to himself.
“His Majesty is here!” Choi Sanggung announced behind the doors and when Bong Hwan rose to his feet, the King entered the room.
Bong Hwan felt so much pity for himself and anger toward the King that he didn’t want to see his face. Superman my ass, pfff, that’s ridiculous!
“I heard Great Queen Dowager was harsh with words,” The King started. “However, there are no words to describe how grateful me and Hwa Jin are for your help today!”
Ah, at least beautiful Lady Jo Hwa Jin is grateful, Bong Hwan thought. Not everything is that bad.
“You’re a quick thinker, Chef Jang! I couldn’t even imagine you could come up with a believable story so fast…” The King continued enthusiastically.
His voice full of joy only pissed Bong Hwan off.
“And that embroidery…”
Oh yes, Bong Hwan still had it. A piece of red silk with dark by its meaning words embroidered on it: Defy your false self. He took it out from his sleeve, wondering how long Kim Soyong worked on it. How long did she embroider those words, thinking the end of life is also an option in her situation?
“I think the story of the incident on the lake came too far…” The King suddenly added and this is when Bong Hwan couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Too far?” Bong Hwan turned to finally face the King. If he wasn’t in a rage before, he is now!
“It was a bit too dramatic,” The King slowly added, looking surprised at Bong Hwan’s hostility.
Bong Hwan threw the embroidery to the King and the latter caught it awkwardly.
“I don’t know how to do embroidery, my skills are in a different area,” Bong Hwan coldly said. “Too dramatic? Well, I guess the truth of someone trying to commit suicide before marriage could sound dramatic…” He mocked the King’s words.
“What are you implying?” The King didn’t raise his eyes from the red silk in his hands. “Do you think she’s really…”
“That matches up better than a theory of a great setup your brother came up with,” Bong Hwan smirked bitterly. “Maybe it never was about Jo Hwa Jin at all. Ever thought about it?”
“The Queen often acted cruel towards those she found below her. Didn’t you hear about the palace’s witch?” The King raised his eyes to look at Bong Hwan. His voice sounded defensive but his eyes got him away, he knew deep down that the suicide was a believable version too. “A vicious woman like her was capable of preparing the trap like the lake incident. It just went wrong and she almost drowned…”
“Ahhhh, right, I see,” Bong Hwan laughed. “So this woman is stupid enough to expose her “true” nature as a cruel witch but also an evil mastermind who can prepare a trap for Lady Hwa Jin and play the victim?” He mocked the King. “Jusang5Jusang – the King, usually someone of higher rank could call the King like that, Great Queen Dowager for example. On the show, BH thought of himself higher and called him like that., I thought you only pretended to be ignorant.”
Bong Hwan shook his head. The answer was simple but no one even tried to think it through. Kim Soyong’s sudden change in behavior and the tears she shed with her closest attendants could be explained only by depression. No one ever asked what happened to her.
“Even her family didn’t believe that Jo Hwa Jin could push her rival into the lake. They had to kidnap a maid to fabricate this version,” Bong Hwan concluded sadly.
The King stayed silent, clutching his fists with the embroidery still in one hand. He looked like he was about to burst out with emotions and barely held himself back.
“There was no one to protect her. Nor her family nor you didn’t care,” Bong Hwan sighed, feeling a bit of sympathy for the Queen. “On the other hand, it wasn’t your job, right? She could’ve only counted on herself.”
“You’re right, I have enough things to worry about,” The King tried to defend himself. “What should I have done for her?”
“Her life wasn’t an easy one as it is,” Bong Hwan said sadly. “You could have at least not made it harder for her.”
The King stormed out of the room without saying a word. And Bong Hwan could swear he saw tears ready to fall from the King’s eyes but neither Choi Sanggung nor Hong Yeon could later confirm it. Maybe because after what they found out today, they are not the King’s biggest fans.
According to a Korean MrQueen fan, the King’s residence is next to the Queen’s, probably ancestors thought it would help to make the heir faster lol I saw the picture and it was like, steps down from one residence, two steps and then stairs up to the next residence. So when you rewatch MQ and see CJ saying he’s “too tired” know how bs his words are. This adds more layers to the scene and explains why no-touchi could work, it’s easy to sneak out and into the next villa unnoticed.
I was thinking for a long time, which fb put in post-credit, maybe tell a fun story how SY discovered about ramyeon but decided to highlight the changes in CJ. He rescued her now but on fb was so ignorant about her suicide. I understand he wasn’t obligated to love her back and save her but he definitely made her life in the palace worse. So much that there wasn’t any light for her to see.
The next chapter is CJ’s pov, worried hubby to the rescue! Also, we find out why it was important for SY to leave the palace that night.
- 1Chingu – a friend.
- 2Daejojeon Hall – Queen of Joseon’s residence after the wedding. in
- 3Aigoo – “Oh my” or “Oh my God”
- 4Kisaengs were women from outcast or slave families who were trained to be courtesans, providing artistic entertainment and conversation to men of the upper class.
- 5Jusang – the King, usually someone of higher rank could call the King like that, Great Queen Dowager for example. On the show, BH thought of himself higher and called him like that.