A war breaks out inside the palace, but it’s neither a rebellion of the masses nor an invasion of a foreign country. It is a defiance though — a righteous cause spearheaded by the historians. I gladly declare FINALLY! as they stand up for themselves and give the King a piece of their mind for punishing them in doing what is right.
A little bit of background is revealed before Hae Ryung’s untimely capture. It is revealed further that the Second State Councilor had confessed to the King that it is the Queen Dowager who has been plotting against his back along with Mo Hwa. Hae Ryung was not allowed to go inside the chambers and was dragged away by some court ladies. It was then that she snuck in anyway.
Word travels fast inside the palace as Hae Ryung is thrown inside a jail cell for eavesdropping on the King’s conversation. Even Prince Lee Rim, who is shocked and frazzled with the news, insists to have an audience with his father to help her. Sam Bo tells him that she’ll be released soon enough since she is a historian, but he imagines her getting punished by drinking poison and/or getting beheaded; so he gets more panicked and insists that he does something now. Jae Kyung also seeks aid from the Second State Councilor but he is obviously disinterested and tells him that just have to wait for the King to change his mind about his decision.
Poor Officer Yang who constantly has to put out the fires caused by his fellow historians😁 He scolds Officer Min for his insistence to send a historian to record a conversation inside the King’s chambers. They have conflicting opinions of the situation but having the highest rank among them, Officer Yang, has made a decision. He doesn’t say it verbally but the next few scenes play out his plan in a funny but decisive manner.
Officials waiting impatiently inside the Royal Court as they cannot start their meeting without historians. Two of them are merely standing outside and stalling, saying that they have no paper and thus cannot do their job to record the conversations. Other officials go to the Office of Royal Decrees and ask for the documents they need from them but they all pretend that they have a stomachache and leave the room. Even Officer Min, who is awkward and clearly out of his comfort zone, pretend that he badly needs to go #2, hahaha💩
The King is pissed off with this development and orders the Chief Royal Secretary to punish the historians. Armed with clerks, they march towards the Office of Royal Decrees to seize and inspect the administration records. The historians stand outside with books and brushes in hand, not letting them pass. It’s a stand off between the two sides as Officer Yang speaks up that no King has ever looked through the records and they will not back down from a fight. Officer Song takes the first blood as he repels the secretaries that come at him and an all out fight ensues between them. They punch, kick, scream, and pummel the living hell out of each other as the female historians join in on the fun.
Meanwhile, Prince Lee Rim sneaks inside Hae Ryung’s jail cell and brings her a platter of food and a pillow. She tells him that she is preparing herself mentally for her punishment. He replies that he’ll follow her wherever she goes if she’s exiled and she looks touched with his words. She manages to still tease him that he’s useless on practical knowledge though and she’ll just end up getting exhausted living with him. He takes offense and unintentionally leans closer to her face.
Prince Lee Rim leans in much closer to kiss Hae Ryung, but he misses her lips when Sam Bo calls for him and she dodges. He hits his forehead on the wooden jail cell as Hae Ryung giggles quietly when he has to leave. She kisses him on his cheek though and he is, again, stunned but ecstatic on what just happened. Hae Ryung is also thrilled when she saw that the rice he had prepared for had black beans in the shape of a Chinese character meaning “love”.
The historians are holed up in their office waiting for the female historians to arrive with food. It’s an official protest from them but there are 3 of them who feel uneasy with this. Officer Yang explains that once they let the King read the administration record even just once, it’s most likely to happen again. They will most likely be criticized for what they wrote and make changes here and there which is basically violating the very essence of their job. Not to mention altering history and eliminating the need for check and balance. They start to cry as they feel afraid but united they stand — the historians banded together to protect their duty and uphold their dignity.
Several petitions are written to the King to withdraw his order. As he discusses the issue with the officials, Officer Min suddenly marches towards his chamber wearing an all white robe and places an axe in front of him. He implores the King to change his mind in reading the administration records and that he can just take his life if he doesn’t change his mind. The King and the other officials go out to see him and convince him to leave the premises immediately. Officer Min is adamant in not letting the King check the records and repeatedly told them that historians are meant to write down the events without having to succumb to authority. The King becomes enraged as the other officials stop him from getting the axe.
Just then, a group of scholars march inside the premises performing a wailing protest. They support Officer Min’s stand that the King cannot inspect the records. Even the historians who were watching from afar joined in the protest. It’s such a profound scene as it shows that even a King can bow down to the people’s wishes. Especially when he is in the wrong.
The Second State Councilor advises him to draw back his order because people will start to wonder what Hae Ryung actually wrote in her sachaek instead of what happened to her. Given that their conversation is meant to be kept a secret, this convinces him to give in to the historians wishes and Hae Ryung is finally set free from imprisonment. She goes home to a crying Seol Gum and her worried brother as she is now safe and sound.
Hae Ryung and Jae Kyung talk outside for a moment on that night. He tells her that she should quit being a historian, but she refuses to do so. She expresses that she is now living a life that she wants and that she is determined to live it to the fullest no matter what the consequences.
A loud knock intrudes the house of Goo later that same night as Seol Gum and Hae Ryung go investigate who is at their door.
I think that someone should have spoken up that the very reason female historians were hired was to record conversations that took place in the Inner Palace. That it was hypocritical of the King to punish Hae Ryung for doing the job that they hired her to do. Perhaps it could cause a rift between the Second State Councilor and the King where the latter would start to get paranoid that the former (Since he was the one who brought up hiring female historians) could be spying on him as well.
Regardless of how they fought the King’s order, I’m happy to see that the historians took a stand to protect not just one of their own, but that they defended their right in having such an influential role. All this time, Hae Ryung was consistent in doing what was right even when no one was at her side. This time though, all of them knew that what the King wanted was wrong and if they didn’t (literally) fight back, it’s not just that their jobs that would be on the line, but also who they are as an individual.
I do feel like there’s still a catch for withdrawing the order but with what just transpired, I am confident that Hae Ryung won’t be alone in her battle against the oppresion and politics inside the palace💪🏻