As the Queen Dowager officially makes a move, the whole Palace will be suffused with doubts leading others to seek the facts of what truly transpired in the past. Now that we’re nearing the end of Rookie Historian: Goo Hae Ryung, what further revelations will be discovered now that our leads are slowly piecing together the truth of their identities?
Hae Ryung opens up to Prince Lee Rim about moving to Qing as a child by Jae Kyung to save her life. She confesses that Yeongan must be her father’s pseudonym and that he was accused of treason back then as well. She starts crying and it takes all of Prince Lee Rim’s might not to hug her. She wonders why the King couldn’t do anything to help her father before and now wishes to know what really happened everything. She further remembers her childhood where Ho Dam carried her while trying to find a book in her father’s library room.
The King tries to clear his name to the Queen Dowager that he had no hand in the attack against Prince Lee Rim. She accuses him of protecting the Second State Councilor because they have the same goal and warns him with a suicide threat. He does genuinely looked hurt and seems concerned about her, which is strange because he’s done things or have been doing acts that he must know upsets her.
A group of men convene with Mo Hwa and Jae Kyung and it is revealed that they are the ones who actually planned the ambush against Prince Lee Rim. Their plan was to have the King suspect the Second State Councilor being the mastermind behind it to cause a rift between both men. I think it worked as it did plant seeds of doubt in the King but the Second State Councilor is too smart to fall for it as proven by the last episode.
Hae Ryung searches through Jae Kyung’s things and finds an old government newspaper. She copies the contents into a new sheet of paper and finds out that a historian named Kim Il Mok who refused to submit his daily record and was therefore decapitated. The next day, Hae Ryung asks Officer Min if he knew Kim Il Mok and Officer Yang butts in their conversation narrating that he was a historian who took his job very seriously, leaving late but starting early. The story that he died not wanting to submit his daily record was echoed by another officer. Officer Min cautions her not to ask anyone else about it because others might misunderstand her intentions because he was also accused of high treason.
Marching into the King’s chambers, Prince Lee Rim asks the King boldly if he was not concerned of his well-being after being shot by an arrow. He gets down on his knees and declares to stay in that position until the King agrees to talk to him. Hae Ryung goes to him that night and he still hasn’t budged from his place. When the King finally comes out, the Prince earnestly asks if he ever cared for him, even for just a short moment. The King does not respond and orders Sam Bo to escort him back to his chamber. I guess that pretty much sums up his answer.
Prince Lee Rim is in a daze and is teary eyed remembering that even as a child, the King never showed any kind of affection towards him. I guess deep inside it confirms his suspicion that they might not be related but it still must hurt to know that the person you treated as your father all this time doesn’t love you back. Hae Ryung hugs the Prince as he cries in her arms.
We get a glimpse of how Sa Hui is doing as she is preparing to go back to work. Her father wants her to quit her job. She assures him that she can protect herself and that once she opens her mouth, the Second State Councilor will get in trouble too. I love how her dad is showing how much he really cares for Sa Hui, despite their misunderstandings, family is still family… even if the person they are in conflict with is the Second State Councilor.
Late in the night, court ladies and eunuchs are shown leaving books in different parts of the palace. The Queen Dowager’s plan is continuing to unravel as Jae Kyung, Mo Hwa, and the rest await what ensues next. The next day, every essential room in the Palace has the book, The Story of Ho Dam, easily available for them to read. The King is astonished how the book could have circulated and orders the immediate seizing of all copies. It is too late however as several officers, eunuchs, scribes, scholars, and court ladies are already turning the pages of the book. Officer Yang warns the historians not to read the banned book and Hae Ryung cleverly volunteers to hand over the books to the Royal Secretariat. She hides 1 copy behind a rock under a nearby tree just in case.
The compiled copies of the books are gathered inside the Royal Court. The Second State Councilor advises the King that it’s not those who have read it that ought to be punished, but the ones that brought the book and spread it inside the Palace are the ones to blame. His minions are bewildered on how detailed the book is and if this means that the Queen Dowager has found the missing daily records. It seems that the only way to verify the truth is through Kim Il Mok’s sachaek.
Depicted through a flashback, Hae Ryung narrates The Story of Ho Dam that a scholar named Ho Dam realized that Neo-Confucianism was not enough to sustain Joseon anymore. With the help of his friend Yeongan, they established Seoraewon to learn and better understand how Western practices can help better the nation. Anyone who wanted to study here was of equal rank and it signaled the future of their country. But other villagers, even the King’s own advisors, were wary of this assimilation to a foreign culture and the tragedy of Seoraewon getting shut down occured. Along with its destruction, both Ho Dam and Yeongan also died protecting their beliefs.
Jae Kyung and Hae Ryung have a heart to heart talk about the book. She confronts him on why he wasn’t upfront about her past to her but he responds that she should get on a boat to Qing the next day. She outright refuses and doesn’t want to run away anymore. She demands to know the whole situation but Jae Kyung combats that he made a promise to her father to protect her and doesn’t want her involved in this battle.
Being the stubborn girl that she is, Hae Ryung goes back to the Palace to dig up more information herself. She visits Prince Lee Rim and they talk about the book. Although it reveals a colorful picture, The Story of Ho Dam is still historically unverified and both of our leads seek to pursue the accuracy of the details. They go find a historian who had quit when Kim Il Mok was executed to help them shed light on what happened. They are first met with resistance but when Hae Ryung confesses that she is Yeongan’s daughter, he eases up and welcomes them.
He informs them that Hae Ryung’s father was his mentor but that only Kim Il Mok accompanied the deposed King to Seoraewon. He reveals that Officer Kim remained adamant to the end in not giving up his daily records because it will be distorted by those who betrayed the dethroned King. He also told both of them a riddle that Officer Kim told him about finding the truth in the island of green forest.
Prince Lee Rim has an epiphany and hurriedly goes back to his quarters. He asks Hae Ryung if she ever thought about the meaning of Nokseodang and she realizes that it means the island of green forest! The key clue that they needed to turn the tide was literally within reach this whole time, hehe.
FINALLY! It seems like such a slow burn to get to the climax but our heroes/heroines are prepared for a fight. I appreciate the fact that they didn’t just believe what was written in the book, even if their instincts tell them otherwise, and that they still want to confirm the story’s authenticity. I know Hae Ryung can be a bit reckless but these are moments where her bravery is needed the most. It’s nice to see her and the Prince share their thoughts with each other like friends. To me, it shows that they are mature enough to set aside their romantic feelings and solve a bigger problem at hand.
I do hate the fact that the Crown Prince, Jae Kyung, and the Queen Dowager are “protecting” our main couple by keeping them in the dark. It is a dangerous mission once they get involved but isn’t it better to know the truth, no matter how hurtful, than to live in a comfortable lie?
With the main theme revolving around historians, I know that they will band together again to expose Kim Il Mok’s daily record. Maybe this is the beginning of democracy for Joseon? Hmm.. probably too forward thinking of me, haha! My prediction is that the Crown Prince will take over the role of King completely and that improved checks and balances will be implemented to prevent another revolt. Aaahhh, last week to go for our Rookie Historian! Can’t wait!😊