Category: Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian

Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 39 & 40) – Ending

History has proven that dictatorships or countries with a King can fall and be rebuilt into a new nation for the people. The Second State Councilor has his own plans to put into action but our protagonists will not go down without a fight. The only constant thing in this world is change, whether we are ready for it or not — we can either embrace such an occurrence, or die trying to reject it.

Episode 39

We are treated to another flashback 20 years ago showing how the Second State Councilor caught and threatened Jae Kyung as a kid to change the contents of the King’s letter. King Yi Gyeom patiently awaits for his child to be born as Mo Hwa congratulates him for having a son. No time to celebrate though as the invasion happens moments after and King Yi Gyeom is killed for supposed treason. Although Jae Kyung reports back to Seoraewon about what he did, it was still too late. Yeongan entrusts him to take Hae Ryung far away so they can live a new life, just as Prince Lee Rim was saved by Sam Bo and Mo Hwa.

An officer and several guards barge into the Office of Royal Decrees and arrest Officer Min for causing “trouble” at the Royal Court. Despite the historians’ protests, Officer Min doesn’t fight back and simply turns himself in quietly. He has a stare down with his father outside, the latter being pressured by his minions to punish his own son for reading the petition.

Also worried for the Prince’s safety, Hae Ryung seeks aid from the Military Commander to sneak Prince Lee Rim out of Nokseodang. They successfully dodge anyone who can catch them in the Palace and hand in hand go to a safe hideout once outside. Both are greeted by the Queen Dowager and the Prince’s loyal followers, swearing their allegiance to help him. Mo Hwa discloses to the Prince that they plan to end things once and for all at the banquet to commemorate the King’s 20th year of reign to be held in a few days. She warns him that if things go awry, they cannot protect him anymore and must therefore escape.

A discussion occurs between opposing side between the King, Crown Prince, and the Second State Councilor. As usual, the latter insists on continuing the banquet to front that the Royal family is not affected by the issues plaguing them. The Crown Prince worries when he declares that he and his father should accept whatever happens to the Queen Dowager and Prince Lee Rim that day, but the Second State Councilor reminds them that it is because of him that they can be in their positions now. Unnerved and burdened, Crown Prince Lee Jin visits Sa Hui that night to ask her a question about the daily records. He doesn’t ask to see it but Sa Hui does not mind letting him read a copy of the actual text.

The Prince and Hae Ryung discuss their future, with the latter telling the former that she’ll follow him whereever he goes if things go south. In a role reversal, it is Prince Lee Rim who declines her offer saying that she shouldn’t move with him. It’s not a blatant rejection but he explains that he was never locked up in Nokseodang but rather, he was waiting for the right person, Hae Ryung, to come find him. If he ends up running away, he can get through anything knowing that they’ll meet again one day. He seals his promise with a kiss. Selfless and content, I think the Prince wouldn’t want Hae Ryung to have a hard time as they run away together and he understood what she meant when she said the exact same thing to him a few episodes ago.

Episode 40 (Last Episode)

It’s the day of reckoning as the banquet is held with officials, historians, eunuchs, and court ladies witnessing the event. Jae Kyung bravely walks to the middle of the place, on his knees, confessing to the King that the letter allegedly sent by the King was fabricated. He points to the Second State Councilor as the culprit and even presents evidence that the King did not believe in Catholicism and simply wanted Seoraewon to be a place where they can study different cultures. The King is unable to speak yet and the officers argue on whether or not to believe Jae Kyung or not.

In a heated exchange between the Queen Dowager and the Second State Councilor, Prince Lee Rim surpisingly marches inside and announces that he is the son of Prince Huiyeong. He bravely states that the reason why his Majesty hasn’t killed him after all this time is because he also thought deep down that stealing the throne and death of his own brother was unjustified. The King stands up in fury and orders the historians to stop writing or else they’ll be beheaded. They don’t listen though and continue to jot down history unraveling before their very eyes.

Side by side, Hae Ryung kneels beside Prince Lee Rim and unwaveringly speaks that killing them will be of no use because the truth will live and resonate in the hearts and minds of the people of Joseon. All the historians join in the protest, backing up Hae Ryung. The Second State Councilor brands them all as traitors and orders for their death but the Crown Prince orders the guard to drop his sword aimed at Hae Ryung’s neck. He walks down from the steps and gets down on his knees himself, pleading the King to investigate the truth of what happened before. Other officials bow down and in a majestic moment, they all simultaneously chant and ask their leader humbly to right the wrongs of the past and move forward with a just conscience.

The next scene shifts to the Second State Councilor telling Officer Min in his room to pour him a drink in his memorial ceremony yearly. This must signal our heroes’ success in persuading the King and our villain’s acceptance of his fate. His son asks how he could change from someone noble to becoming an insatiable man seeking power. The latter explains when he gained influence himself, it was hard for him to let go of it. He does stand by the decision he made to have killed the King before as he believes that Yi Gyeom violated the principles and pillar teachings of Joseon with the study of Western culture. Officer Min cries in disagreement saying that a new world will arise and pays his last respects to his father.

Mo Hwa and Hae Ryung visit Jae Kyung in prison and inform him that the special investigation will commence with every person involved in the dethronement process will be interrogated. Hae Ryung tells him that she is trying to keep it together despite everything and Jae Kyung assures her that he never took care of her out of guilt. They are each other’s brother and sister no matter what happens.

Meanwhile inside the Palace, the Crown Prince announces to the Queen Dowager that he will step down from his position once the investigation has finished. Suddenly, Prince Lee Rim goes inside her room and asks for his dethronement as a Prince because he wishes to live life as an ordinary and free man. The Queen Dowager does not accept his decision and convinces him otherwise. I know that she means well but like I said in the previous episode recaps, her forcing him to be King is annoying! He can always learn the ropes in governing a nation, yes, but he clearly doesn’t want to involve himself in politics.

*** 3 years later ***

It’s business as usual for our hardworking historians!✍🏻 Hae Ryung looks to have been promoted as she has her own table now while A Ran and In Im have also become a junior ninth rank. They aren’t as afraid to speak their minds when Officer Hyeon, who is no longer a historian but is the same rank as Officer Yang, barges in the Office and tries to bully the girls. Sa Hui is not a historian anymore and is teaching kids instead. Her father comes bearing books saying that someone from the Palace (*Ahem* Lee Jin *Ahem*) keeps sending these for her. She smiles and graciously accepts the gift.

We can assume that the Second State Councilor had been executed as Officer Min and the now single and annulled Crown Princess is in mourning clothes. All the historians visit Officer Min and asks him to come back and work as per the order of his Majesty. They all laugh in unison as Officer Min grins back at them. The Crown Prince is now King and he has taken on the task to introduce Western beliefs and practices to Joseon. He remains optimistic and vows that Seoraewon shouldn’t only be a dream that they cannot attain.

Lee Rim comes back from his travels and surprises Hae Ryung with a trail of flowers leading up to him on her mat. He expresses how amazing it was to see dolphins on his trip but doesn’t reveal anything more so she ought to buy the travel book he wrote instead. It seems that the book isn’t doing too well compared to his romance novels, haha, but at least he is doing what he loves for a living. Lee Rim pretends to leave to give Hae Ryung time to rest but she asks him to lock the door instead for some sexy time, haha!💋 They aren’t married yet but that’s okay as they are taking their time enjoying each other’s company.

The next morning, Hae Ryung is awakened by Lee Rim realizing that she is late for work. She gives him a morning kiss on the lips before running off to the Palace. Once inside, she stops for a moment and takes a deep breath to prepare herself for what would be another great and eventful day working as a historian.

Thoughts

A happy ending for our lovers and Joseon🎉 I thoroughly enjoyed watching Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung for its fresh story, plot twists, and girl power!🌸 In the end, the power of the people overruled the tyrant that is the Second State Councilor and the truth shined as bright as the sun. Timing is everything and perhaps it will still take time for the people of Joseon to accept another culture; but after 23 years and no other villain in sight, I’m sure the future of their country is headed toward a positive direction.

If I had to nitpick this kdrama, maybe it would be that I wished some of the side stories would be further explored or solved. Like the stipend corruption that was never mentioned again, what happened to the kid that Hae Ryung helped in the first few episodes, and that Jean Barthelemy was simply a passing foreigner who wished to bid farewell to his brother but was never a crucial part of the overall story. I guess these instances are just meant to be accepted for what they are, an experience that may not mean so much in the big picture, but individually helped shaped our characters’ development.

Cha Eun Woo, the actor playing Prince Lee Rim, could have displayed more facial expressions in some of the show’s more tense or dramatic moments. I read that he was criticized for his poor acting skills earlier when the show just premiered but there’s always room for improvement. His character was sweet and loyal but also didn’t give up even when he had to eventually escape if they did not convince the King of their cause.

Hae Ryung had her fair share of right and wrongs as a character but the fact that she was consistent in speaking the truth & doing what’s right is her best trait for me. She and the Prince never really had a major conflict except of course when he was forced to marry but other than that, their personalities and beliefs always complemented each other. I’m glad that they showed a unique angle where women were emphasized and given a bit of power in a male dominant time proving that women, just like men, are capable of doing work equally and have valid opinions as well.

Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 37 & 38)

Will the truth tear people apart or unite them together? Knowing the facts is one thing, but choosing what to do with such information (Do nothing or stand up for it) is a whole different matter. Courage is so much more than laying your life on the line for something you believe in. It’s also being able to endure the consequences of your actions, no matter if the result is good or unfavorable to you.

Episode 37

Eunuchs and court ladies that were involved in distributing the books are captured by the order of the Second State Councilor. The matter is discussed at the Royal Court and confessions from the captives hold the Queen Dowager accountable for the deed. The Second State Councilor connivingly requests the King to close off the Queen Dowager’s chambers and investigate her court ladies to get to the bottom of things. The Crown Prince counters this plea stating that doing that is the same as accusing her of treason. The King does not give a decision at the moment and wants to think it over first.

Once alone, the Crown Prince implores the King not to give in to the Second State Councilor’s request as it will cause a rift between the Royal family. His father finally comes clean about Prince Lee Rim being the legitimate son of the dethroned King, Prince Huiyeong/Yi Gyeom, and that he is doing this to protect the Crown Prince’s position. It’s such a bittersweet moment because at least he now knows the truth but his words come off as a tool to manipulate his own son. He is speechless with this revelation and does not argue with the King anymore.

With the Nokseodang records in her hands, Hae Ryung resumes the search for Historian Kim Il Mok’s daily records after her and the Prince’s 1st failed attempt earlier. She reads that other parts of Nokseodang had been repaired in less than 20 years so she deduces that it couldn’t have been placed there as someone would have found it by then. She takes a closer look at the signboard and notices that it is not as old like the other components of the building. Sam Bo makes a comment that it is strange that the sign does not rot or discolor as well. The Prince pokes the board and the sign, along with a blue cloth with some papers spits out of it.

Hae Ryung stops the Prince from reading because it is forbidden for anyone to else read a historian’s record. She beseeches him not to read it yet his voice rises on why he should wait any further when the answers that he has been so desperate to find is right in front of him. He takes the daily records in his hands and Sam Bo gets down on his knees exclaiming that he will instead tell him the truth as long as he doesn’t commit a crime.

Despite a guard stopping him in his tracks; Prince Lee Rim pulls out the guard’s sword and puts the blade near his neck warning the guard that he can easily kill him if he doesn’t let him see his grandmother. He is brimming with a wave of emotions and confesses to her that he always blamed himself for the reason that the King disliked and exiled him to Nokseodang. He confronts her about the promise she made with the King that in exchange for the throne, he would spare the Prince’s life. The Queen asks for his forgiveness and says that she couldn’t lose her grandson too. Prince Lee Rim is a bit spiteful because despite being alive, he has lived such lonely years, thinking that he is being punished for no reason. The Queen dissuades him from giving up and that he should try to endure the pain, as much as she has endured all these years of losing her son too.

The next day, Hae Ryung speaks to Officer Min about finding Kim Il Mok’s daily records. She says that someone edited the records because there is a disparity of details between what is known now and Kim Il Mok’s words. Officer Min is initially reluctant to do anything and Hae Ryung calls him out that it could be because his father is involved on why he wants no part in revealing the truth. She exclaims that a historian who refused to submit his daily records was killed and that those who took advantage of the situation are now living a good life. Hae Ryung will lose respect for Officer Min if he refuses to take this up with the Royal Court.

Episode 38

After a night of contemplation, Officer Min talks to Hae Ryung the following morning that he wants to be a historian who can write the truth even if the effect is not immediately seen. They show the daily records to the rest of the historians and they are dumbfounded with the new details of what they have always known as history and because it means that the current King propagated lies just to claim the throne. To justify the rebellion, a letter claiming that the King then wrote to a French priest that he wanted to make Joseon into a Catholic nation and that he wished to send priests to spread the word of God. But as stated in Kim Il Mok’s records, it was simply a harmless note – which means someone changed the contents of the letter.

Officer Yang, Officer Min, and Hae Ryung go meet with the Chancellor as he was in charge of the historians at the time. They tell him of their discovery of the daily records and that a historian manipulated the facts before. He angrily dismisses their claims but Hae Ryung reminds him that he was also a historiance once in his life. She uses this fact to stir his heart into helping them reveal the truth at the Royal Court. I honestly think it worked!

At the royal meeting, Officer Min reads a petition with Hae Ryung’s name representing the historians. They ask for a reinvestigation of the past records as they have proof of a daily record that presents different details of history. They wish to know who is responsible for possibly threatening the historians to alter such facts and ask that all 42 officials involved in the dethronement of the King then be inspected. Of course, the Second State Councilor’s minions retaliate except the Chancellor who backs up Officer Min’s request. In a twist of events, the Crown Prince turns down the petition and declares that he doesn’t want to hear anything more about the topic. Cowaaaarrrdd!!😡

Elsewhere, Jae Kyung scolds Hae Ryung that the situation has escalated to more than she can handle. She says that she’s always thought it was strange how the 2 of them could survive the raid at Seoraewon and how he could still get a government position despite being actively involved there. She tells Jae Kyung that she forgives him for being the one who changed the contents of the letter and that he must have had a difficult time too in taking care of her and carrying the burden of his betrayal alone. Hae Ryung holds his hand in hers as he holds hers as well, a sign that she is at peace with her brother.

Prince Lee Rim visits his older brother and asks him to reconsider the historians’ petition. The Crown Prince scowls that he must want the truth of the dethronement to be revealed and not to simply discover what really transpired back then. He agrees with Prince Lee Rim when the latter retorts that is it his duty to just do nothing and be powerless. The conflict in the Crown Prince’s face is apparent but he doesn’t let himself be swayed by Prince Lee Rim and orders palace guards to not let him out of Nokseodang.

Hae Ryung gets wind of this development and goes to Nokseodang to see the Prince. She is not allowed entry despite being a historian, but she and the Prince lock eyes from his balcony.

Thoughts

I didn’t think that the Crown Prince would feel threatened about his position, hence not giving in to the historians’ request. I know that he loves Prince Lee Rim; but I suppose the shock that his seat in the throne, his known identity, is actually not legitimate thus making him anxious to hold onto it more. I’m not sure if it’s a misdirect and he’s actually trying to protect the Prince from danger but with this development, I’m uncertain if he’ll go against his own father or support the Prince. I honestly don’t think Prince Lee Rim wants to take over as King; he simply wants justice for his real father and for history to be rightfully restored.

It was also such a heartwarming moment between Hae Ryung and Jae Kyung because I know that the latter was fearful of the former discovering the truth that he was the one who sparked the revolt and ultimately lead to the deaths of many innocent lives. Hae Ryung understanding his predicament back then shows just how mature and insightful she is. This was the best kind of closure they can have with their past and to move forward to a happier future.

Feeling chills over the united front of the historians, I hope that their passion and loyalty influences others to join their side. I’m not sure if the Second State Councilor will employ force to threaten them now but with Jae Kyung, Mo Hwa, and the Military Commander at the same side, I hope that they officially all band together to fight him. I would like to see instead though is a democratic rebellion, one where the people of the Palace persuades the King and Crown Prince that they can no longer bury the truth.

Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 35 & 36)

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?

Episode 35

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.

Episode 36

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.

Thoughts

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!😊