Saturday, June 18, 2016

[DAEBAK REVIEW] The ahjumma and the new eel series: Review, thoughts and impressions of Daebak drama episode 21

In chat mode.
By Esther Noloc and Kaye Taozen
Collaboration: Val Kaze Teozen and Saranya GS eel, (collages)
Edition: Val Kaze Teozen

Another interesting episode of Daebak, more twists and changes.Yeoning suffers more this time while Dae Gil acts like the big brother protecting Yeoning and the people.

ESTHER: Hi, I invited Kaye Taozen  for chat with me about the drama today. She’s from USA and expert in Joseon era,  Let‘s start now.

KAYE: Hi, Esther. Thanks for inviting me. I’ve been enjoying Daebak so much so it’s a pleasure to discuss an episode with you. Oh, and I’m really not an expert on the Joseon era. I’m just a very curious person and read a lot.

ESTHER: Hahaha, an expert for me and other eels who don't know a lot. I love your articles about it. Episode 21 starts with the same intense scene at the end of episode 20, King Gyeongjong is trying to kill his brother, Yeoning, with his sword. Daegil is there too and really has to think very fast to come up with King Sukjong’s dying wish. He is so clever. How did he recall that? I forgot that part, and I watched a lot of times. Shame on me, Esther. Kkk. Aish, the King doesn’t believe Dae Gil because he calls the twins to confirm to what Daegil said.

KAYE: Don’t feel bad about missing Sukjong telling Dae Gil his dying wish. It was never directly stated. Remember when Sukjong spoke to Dae Gil and told him that an older brother must act like an older brother and a younger brother like a younger brother? Then, Dae Gil, outside looks at Yeoning, and asks himself if he should be an older brother? I think that is what this pledge he mentions is all about. But we weren’t privy to the entire conversation, obviously. Anyway, I’m shocked by Dae Gil’s statement actually worked. King Gyeongjong is so furious, I didn’t think anything could stop him. But, then, again if either Dae Gil or Yeoning get killed, that’s the end of the I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Dae Gil successfully intervenes to save his brother.

ESTHER: Oh, wow, that kingdom likes to punish people for everything, even to death. Look at this one, Kaye, all beaten and the rest too. They were calling the King, but I think he is so angry that he can't hear them right now. In Jwa? Celebrating with the others ministers, laughing and drinking. Too sad. Dae Gil goes to speak with the King...oh, my God, he has the oath in his hand and he is reading it. But it’s in vain, he will continue with the execution. He is blinded by fury, I think, but at least he says he will kill In Jwa too.

KAYE: I can kind of understand how he feels. The Norons controlled the government while his father was king, and he never got any respect from them. So, yeah, he’s got a lot of pent up rage and resentment. Nevertheless, he does go way overboard. He didn’t have to torture and execute all of them. Minister Kim tried to stop his idiot colleagues. It’s a shame Gyeongjong was so blind with fury that he couldn’t or wouldn’t talk to Kim first. Oh, of course, In Jwa is celebrating with the Sorons. He thinks his great plan is working, and he’ll be able to control the Sorons and Gyeongjong, if he can only get rid of the Norons and Yeoning. Dae Gil seems like the only sensible brother right now. I know he’s working hard to save Yeoning and prove In Jwa is the real traitor. But Gyeongjong is so stubborn in his belief of In Jwa. Foolish. So, regardless of the evidence, the Norons are going to die and maybe In Jwa will get punished for treason. Not sure I believe that. In Jwa has a way of manipulating people with words to get what he wants, regardless of whom he hurts in the process. Nothing is ever his fault. He is totally incapable of introspection and compassion which is what makes him so different from Yeoning and Dae Gil.

ESTHER: Oh, wow, this scene is very sad and scary. A line of Noron ministers, all in white, waiting to be executed and that man dancing with the dague before killing them. I know it’s a ritual, but I don‘t like it too much. Dae Gil went to speak with the King, but all was in vain. The execution will take place the next day. He said the bad news to Yeoning who was sad and furious, even threw the table.

KAYE: You mean that huge blade the executioners dance around with? Heavens, what an ugly weapon. I can’t say I blame you, though. I see this same kind of performance in all the historic k-dramas whenever the king orders someone executed, and I’ve never understood it. Why all the dancing around? It doesn’t make any sense to me, but, then, I’m from another culture. I feel bad for Dae Gil. I think he really cares for both of his brothers...or maybe he just has a really kind heart. He never seems to want to hurt anyone. He has to let Yeoning know he’s failed to save the Norons. I really feel sorry for him, and for Yeoning too. Neither one seems able to save anyone they care about. They keep losing people they care about.

ESTHER: Poor Yeoning, he is down on his knees, begging for mercy for the Norons, from the King. But he will not forgive them. He will do it, even if it is Yeoning, his own brother. Dae Gil and his master are there too, both looking good in their guards uniforms. Kaye, was it obligatory to see the execution? Don't expect me to observe that. I don't like to see blood. Aish, that hurt, the sound of the dague. Dae Gil is soo kind. He really loves his brother, going over there to hug him strongly. I started to cry when Dae Gil says those words to console him. Huhuhu.

KAYE: Gyeongjong has all those years of pent up resentment in him, and he’s letting it loose. He even resents Yeoning because he thinks his father loved Yeoning more than him. So, no, Yeoning can beg and plead, but Gyeongjong is not going to change his decision. He is king now and will do as he wishes. Yeoning better be careful. Esther, our Dae Gil looks good in anything he wears, even the old clothes he wore in the forest while training. Ahem…. How is it possible...uh...nevermind! Back to the episode. Anyway, I don’t think it was required that he or his master be at the execution. I think they were there for moral support or something. I’m with you on not watching something so gruesome. I can’t understand why people like to watch others being killed. No, thanks. I’ll stay home. Oh, when Dae Gil grabs Yeoning and holds him back? What a heart rending scene. Both brothers looking on while the Norons are being slaughtered for the stupidity of a few members. Minister Kim’s last words to Yeoning just before the blade came down. Oh, so hard for Yeoning to hear. And Dae Gil tries so hard to take care of his younger brother, holding him and lending his strength. Yet, I get the feeling Dae Gil is hurting almost as much as Yeoning. He hurts for his brother and for the loss of the innocent Noron ministers’ lives. Vengeance has such an ugly outcome.

ESTHER: After the execution, Yeoning promised vengeance for the Norons and was very devastated. He wants to be alone, so he goes to speak with his parents (both dead), but that is part of his culture, and we respect that.You know about that ritual, Kaye?

KAYE: I don’t know if I’d call it a ritual so much as a natural human need to reach out to those we’ve loved and lost. After my own parents died, I talked to them because it made me feel better as if they weren’t gone or had left me. I felt like they were still with me somehow. I think that’s how Yeoning feels. I guess it’s fairly normal to want to return to the place where we were loved most to seek that kind of solace. And Yeoning needs and wants it now. So, yes, he seeks solace in his mother’s residence where he felt so loved and was so loved. His mother was a huge light in his life, and he wrote many loving poems to her. I’m sure he felt her warmth and love there even though she was gone, and he’s so utterly miserable at having lost so many people he cared about that her residence is the only place he can go for solace. Poor Yeoning. I feel so sorry for him.

ESTHER: Dae Gil goes back to his home where his grandpa said he should not leave Yeoning alone. But Dae Gil says the truth: he can’t do anything for him now. He needs time to heal from that loss.

KAYE: Poor Dae Gil. He knows there’s nothing he can do right now to help his brother. Still, you can tell, Dae Gil feels miserable that he can’t do more to help his younger brother. His brotherly love seems to grow by the minute, watching everything that happens.

ESTHER: Ahh, I was waiting for this moment: In Jwa explaining about the oath to the King, but as I expected, he denies everything. The King asks if he is an easy or weak person in In Jwa’s eyes. Of course you are, Gyeongjong. He shows the oath to In Jwa and immediately In Jwa drops to his knees, begging  for his life. Well, past experience tells us that he will get out of this too, although I don't know how.

KAYE: I’m so glad Gyeongjong really does carry through with confronting In Jwa. He posed a really sneaky question to In Jwa: what should he do about Yeoning, knowing full well, I think, what In Jwa would say about pulling out the roots of a rebellion to keep it from happening again. Gyeongjoing led In Jwa into trapping himself. And that blood oath Gyeongjong shows! In Jwa can’t escape his own words this time.

ESTHER: Dae Gil goes to see his brother, even though Yeoning doesn’t wanted to see anybody. Yesss! He gives him good news: In Jwa was kicked out the palace. Wonderful news, but wait, the king heard and saw In Jwa’s crocodile tears and tore up the oath. Wow, I can‘t believed that: only kicked him out the palace? The rebel Jeong will be executed too. Dae Gil recalls what happened. It’s not the In Jwa’s best day. The ministers, too, decide not do any more business with him. He threatens them, and they kick him out of there too.


KAYE: Dae Gil hopes the information about In Jwa being kicked out of the palace and losing everything will make his brother feel better. But Yeoning is so far down in his depression that he can’t feel much of anything yet, except sorrow. As for letting In Jwa off that way, tearing up the blood oath, Gyeongjong knows the guy is a traitor, but he just can’t seem to let go of him. I keep wondering what was that In Jwa did all those years to protect and help Gyeongjong that he should be so grateful for. Teaching him baduk? Come on! Now as for the Soron ministers! What a sneaky bunch of miserable wretches they are. They’re a lot like In Jwa, using anyone and everyone to maintain their own power and control and, of course, their own wealth. These guys have been bleeding the nation dry for generations. Now that In Jwa’s been caught, they’re ready to dump him to save themselves. It’s a shame Sukjong couldn’t get rid of them since he knew they were corrupt.

ESTHER: In Jwa goes to the prison to talk with the rebel Jeong at their dinner time, so he threw a little black ball in his bowl. Oh, is he supposed to be unconscious for a while and then wake up out of the jail? In Jwa has a great twisted mind. At the same time, Dae Gil is still trying to console Yeoning when the guard comes in with the news: Jeong and the others rebels committed suicide. Yeah, right.

KAYE: Don’t you just love the way In Jwa says that Jeong must die for him - In Jwa - to live and then the metaphor about the body dying but the spirit won’t leave the body? Jeong knew as soon as the pellet dropped into his bowl that it was poison, but his face when the other prisoners start coughing up blood and dying.... He’s totally shocked. I wonder went through his mind...or did he understand what In Jwa implied and that one pellet wouldn’t kill him? I can only guess that he did. Boy, when the guard rushes in, saying the criminals all committed suicide, Dae Gil’s eyes popped wide open. He’s completely dumbstruck while Yeoning still looks forlorn.


ESTHER:Yes I noticed. Maybe he suspects something fishy. He has his father’s wisdom now. Dae Gil runs to the scene for see all with his own eyes and then goes to speak with the King. He asks for all the security offices to catch In Jwa, and, yesss, the King removes the veil that made him blind. Dae Gil will have all that he needs. In Jwa looks humble when he explains his situation with regards to the King to his minions. So the oath Hong Mae burned was fake? Ah, she is not stupid. Waaa... The guards come with a Royal command to confiscate all his things. Wow, all the chief inspectors together.

KAYE: I am so glad Gyeongjong listened to Dae Gil this time. It seems no matter how many times Dae Gil said In Jwa was a traitor, a murderer and a thief, Gyeongjong closed his ears. This time, he listens, although he does make Dae Gil explain why or how the death of the rebel Jeong doesn’t spoil his plan to catch the ring-leader, In Jwa. Finally, Gyeonjong! There’s hope for you yet!

ESTHER:The shaman is there too and asks for his Plan B. He says he will leave Gyeongjong alone now - ha - because he can't use the King anymore???. The back up plan? Jeong comes back to life and goes to see the new man in town, Park Pil Heon. Who is he, Kaye?

KAYE: Park Pil-Heon was a disaffected noble. His family was one of those that Sukjong purged many years before. Like many Sorons including Yi In Jwa’s family, who lost everything because of Sukjong, they nursed a hatred of him and his entire family and sought revenge. But Park Pil-Heon played a special role in the Mushin (In Jwa’s) Rebellion because he was an organizer and leader of the Rebellion in the Jeonju and Jeolla-do regions. Yes, leave it up to In Jwa to have a back-up plan. He always does. I bet he’s been making these plans ever since he first learned how sick Gyeongjong was.

ESTHER: Jeong and Park say that tomorrow will be the day for the rebellion, but they don’t  know that Dae Gil suspects this event too and is talking about it with his master Kim Chae Gun.

KAYE: Yeah, Kim Chae Gun asks Dae Gil if he is he is certain In Jwa will make his move the next day. Dae Gil replies that he will or In Jwa will die. Dae Gil is turning into a pretty smart go along with his pretty good looks. Kkkk.Traitor Jeong and In Jwa’s sworn brother, Park Pil Hyeon, think they will gain easy access into the palace to help kill the King and take over. They don’t know Dae Gil is watching them and is preparing to catch them.

ESTHER: Seems like Yeoning is not eating well, because the maid and the guard come with food for him. Kaye, look, In Jwa is very intrepid. He has the nerve to go to the palace again. How come? He is traumatized because he did a lot for the King, and now the King betrayed him and he wants revenge. Oh, one guard there is a rebel, and kills the other guard so In Jwa enters easily and rings that giant bell. Everybody is asking why the bell is ringing. You know when it is supposed to ring, Kaye? And how on Earth does Dae Gil count the times the bell rings ? I lost my counts already, and what is Mu Shin? Now, the King is looking the painting In Jwa made before, the one with the two fishes. How did the King get it ? I forgot that.

KAYE: Well, there are a couple of things here. First, In Jwa ignores what the King said and decided to go ahead with his back up to take over the throne. Ringing that bell is the signal for all his traitors in the palace. To back up a bit, the giant bell in Daebak, may have been like the giant drum in King Sejong’s time where he installed a large drum common people could use. The idea was that if ordinary people had a complaint, they could sound the drum and get a hearing from the King. So, maybe that bell is supposed to act that way...which kind of makes sense since In Jwa gains such easy access to it. But I’m only guessing. Regarding Yeoning, he’s still depressed over the Noron’s being killed, but when he hears the bell sound 5 for Mu and 9 for Shin he, too, knows the meaning, just as Dae Gil and Gyeongjong do, which is why leaves his residence. He’s no dummy. Dae Gil, of course, expects some response from In Jwa, so when the bell unexpectedly sounds, he keeps count, and I’m guessing, he informs everyone on his side what he suspects. The second point is In Jwa, himself. He just doesn’t seem to understand people as much as he thinks he does. For example, he keeps expecting Dae Gil to come over to his side when Dae Gil continues to say, “No”. It’s kind of the same in the palace. He thinks a few people can overcome the majority protecting the King? What a fool! The person I feel sorriest for is the King. After spending the night looking at that painted drawing of the two fishes, he’s both furious and sicker than ever. It had been confiscated during the raid on In Jwa’s residence and means rebellion. It even has the red stamp from In Jwa, so he knows he’s been manipulated and conned by In Jwa. The assassination attempt by In Jwa’s minions seals the deal for him. His eyes are fully open now. Can we say, Yippee!?!

ESTHER: No way, the rebels stole the guards’ uniforms too! Sorry, but the only one who looks handsome and elegant in that uniform is Suk - oops, Dae Gil. Hahaha. Others rebels try to kill the King, but his twin eunuch guards put their blades to the rebels’ throats. Dae Gil confronts In Jwa, hat to hat, man to man. He knew the rebels were inside the palace and prepared for that. All are musicians, no party, In Jwa.

KAYE: I have to admit when Dae Gil strides out onto the balcony where In Jwa stood awaiting the successful conclusion of his rebellion, I was pretty impressed. Dae Gil’s training turned him into a Tiger that his father would have been proud of. No wonder he asked Dae Gil to protect Yeoning. Come to think of it, though, none of Sukjong’s sons are exactly losers when it comes to looks...although I have to admit I am kinda partial towards our hero, Dae Gil. But we really shouldn’t go there…. Kkkkk Nevertheless, I was pretty surprised that Dae Gil figured out In Jwa’s plan so fast and countered it so effectively. Of course, he knew In Jwa would try something and made sure the right people knew. Still…. One smart dude, this Dae Gil!

ESTHER: So, the twins eunuchs stop the two palace traitors who try to kill the King. Game over for In Jwa, but he still refuses to give up. He tries to kill Dae Gil, but he can’t. Palace guards show up too, along with the King. But In Jwa, fresh like a lettuce leaf, has the courage to say that was a misunderstanding and that the King doesn’t have any evidence. The king has proof of all.

KAYE: Oh that scene is just too cute...sarcasm alert, Esther. Here is In Jwa caught straight out committing treason and attempting to kill the King, and he still thinks he can talk his way out of it. Raising the sword against Dae Gil is such a losing act at that point; nevertheless, his ego just won’t accept reality when the King confronts him. Thank heavens Dae Gil had the foresight to get the twin eunuchs and the officer in charge of the Office of Investigations involved in his plan to counter In Jwa. I loved the “Oops” expression on In Jwa’s face when the King confronts him with all the traitors, tied up in ropes. It’s like, “Sorry boss, I really didn’t mean it. I was just trying to save killing you.” Right! Sure! He really does think everyone is utterly stupid except himself. There’s an old American saying that goes, “You can fool some of the people all of the time. And all of the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all the people all of the time.” Obviously, In Jwa never understand that maxim.

ESTHER: The moment of the truth arrives. In Jwa is tied to a post and surrounded by guards in the middle of the town square, awaiting his punishment. He will be hanged in public. The people there are saying he’s a traitor and even throwing eggs at him. Ouch. Kaye, you noticed? Hong Mae is there, too, insulting him. DaeGil comes and mentions Park Pil Heon and what his father, Man Geum has been doing. He also mentions that he knows the rebel Jeong is alive and even the medicine he gave to him. Wow, he is really a brain.

KAYE: Don’t you just love his comeuppance? I mean, the townspeople have absolutely no pity for the guy. And Hong Mae is almost hilarious, standing in the crowd and whipping up their anger. And the eggs thrown on In Jwa!!! When Dae Gil confronts him, all In Jwa can say is why didn’t Dae Gil kill him immediately rather than making him endure this humiliation. I think Dae Gil enjoys his humiliation. Kind of an additional well-deserved penalty for all the harm he caused so many people. I’m beginning to think that all those years in the forest with his master and traveling around the kingdom gambling taught him a lot more than we suspect. He’s become pretty darn good at strategy planning.

ESTHER: At least the king recognises that Dae Gil worked very hard. He seems very sick, so the doctor added some medicinal herbs that should help. But I think will not help, and I don’t need to be a doctor to says so. The ministers started to speculating about the future of the King.

KAYE: When Gyeongjong asks the doctor how long he has, the look on his face is pretty bleak. He knows he hasn’t much time left. He’s coughing up a lot of blood. And the Soron ministers are getting pretty worried about losing their heads if the King embraces Yeoning again and leaves the throne to him. They’re worried, too, that all their ill-gotten gains will disappear. They should be scared after all the scheming and lies they’ve committed. I have no pity for any of them.

ESTHER: While Yeoning is in his room, a shadow  passes, running near the window (running man), and he notices. When that person enters, the room is empty. Yess! He saved his life doing that. In Jwa is still in the sun, waiting for the execution. Oh, his thugs come...they are planning something for sure.

KAYE: The Sorons aren’t going to sit around and wait for the blades to fall on their backs. The only way to prevent Yeoning from taking the throne after Gyeonjong dies is to kill him. Their first attempt with the soldier fails. Yeoning’s smart enough to realize the shadow bodes ill for him. I wonder how In Jwa let his guys know what to do. They certainly look like they have a back-up plan to save him.

ESTHER: Dae Gil arrives for talk with Yeoning, and while he is eating, he suddenly feels sick. Dae Gil gets desperate, but gosh, what a relief. It is not poison, only the wrong taproof of the plant. He recovers fast and goes to talk with the King.

KAYE: I’m guessing Yeoning decided get back in the game again and begins eating. Good thing Dae Gil arrives when he does to save Yeoning. When I saw the bowl of leaves the doctor held, I thought what is that? It seems like the ministers are getting desperate.  


ESTHER: Yeoning begs the King to stop the Sorons from trying to kill him. But the King says there is nothing he can do. Yeoning has to deal with it all by himself. That’s harsh.

KAYE: Boy, being a Crown Prince in those days was no easy matter. Yeah, Gyeongjong basically says too bad the Sorons are trying to kill you; get used to it. There’s nothing I can do about it. I mean, Wow!

ESTHER: Kaye, what happened with Jeong and Park?

KAYE: Oh, they both escape. Jeong tries to get into the palace, but he sees Chae Gun checking people’s identification tags and leaves. Park, too, got away. He says he’s going to escape through one of the gates of the city.

ESTHER: The King is meditating and his wife, I think, comes to speak with him. Eehh, he holds her hands. A skinship...but not with Dae Gil.

KAYE:  Hahaha. Poor Dae Gil. Doesn’t look like our hero is going to get any romance any time soon. You know, I like the part when the King sees the sunset as the twilight of his life while his wife, the Queen, sees the sunset as beautiful. You almost have to feel sorry and sad for Gyeongjong. He seems to recognize not only his mortality but is also sorry for his failures and for leaving her alone. She tries to cheer him up, but it doesn’t do much good. I think he’s getting himself ready to die.

ESTHER: When Kim Chae Gun is walking along with Daegil, some very strange things happen. Jin Ki suddenly cuts the ropes around In Jwa, Moo Myeong helps In Jwa onto his horse, and they all escape. Dae Gil and Chae Gun pursue them to the forest. They run to the river. Jin Ki ties to stop Dae Gil and Chae Gun. He and Chae fight, and Jin Ki gets injured and finally jumps from a cliff. Oh, Dae Gil hit In Jwa with an arrow!

KAYE: I can’t believe the guards around In Jwa were so incompetent that they let In Jwa’s minions cut him loose and escape. It’s a good thing Dae Gil and Chae Gun were nearby and saw what happened. I wonder how far Dae Gil, Chae Gun and the guards had to run to catch up to In Jwa, Jin Ki and Moo Myeong at the river? Nevermind. My curiosity again. Anyway, when Dae Gil “borrows” the bow and arrow from the soldier and shoots perfectly, I thought those guys in the military need a lot more training. Seems they can’t hit anything. Good thing our well-trained sharp-shooter is there. Kkkk

ESTHER: The shaman feels when In Jwa is hurt by Dae Gil’s arrow. She calls to him saying,  My Lord, that means they have strong ties because they were far away.  Yeoning tells the King he needs to eat something since he heard the King has not eaten for three days.

KAYE: Did you notice the look on the King’s face when the plate of food is put in front of him? It’s like he already knows that the raw crab in soy sauce and persimmons will kill him, and he accepts it. He even apologizes to Yeoning, using Yeoning’s childhood name of Geum, as if he knows he’ll never have another chance. That was very sad. And Yeoning says to himself that he will have to apologize first to his brother.

ESTHER: Oh, look, it’s not In Jwa that got shot. It’s Moo Myeong! In Jwa got away again!

KAYE: You know, I wondered what Moo Myeong had in mind when told In Jwa to stop. He’s one guy I can’t really figure out. He’s not all bad. Look at how he cared about Dam Seo and couldn’t understand, let alone approve of, In Jwa’s sending her off to the palace maybe to be killed. Still, though, he chooses to sacrifice his life to save In Jwa?

ESTHER: Yeoning is standing outside the palace when the news comes: the King is dead.

KAYE: I’m having a hard time with this scene. I can’t decide if Yeoning really knew the meal would kill his brother, the King, or if Yeoning is becoming really hard-hearted. He looks so cold and uncaring now.

ESTHER: Let’ s wait if will be cleared up in the next episode. Thanks, Kaye, for been here with me.

KAYE: My pleasure. Talking about the episode was fun.



  1. thanks ladies...good read..
    wasn't it an open invitation the king gave to crown prince.. he had to fend for himself..there is nothing he could do for him... well he fend for be able to do something he needed to be on the throne...all things happening made his heart become cold and hard..

  2. Thank you! Daebak the best!! Jang Geun suk ❤️Dae Gil perfect actor! Eel forever! Pride eel๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿ™‹

  3. Impressive recap dearest Esther and kaye. Thanks for bring and share with us your amazing chat. I enjoyed a lot. As Esther said ,kaye gave to us an interesting information about the Joseon era. Really appreciated your great efforts.Thank you so much dearest sissies for the magnificent job. ZIKZIN.๐Ÿ’–


Thank you for sharing with us, Cri!