December 24, 2012

Damo – Episode 9 – Korean drama recap

The damo (Ha Ji Won) does not, of course, give up her plan of seeing the King to plead Hwangbo’s case. But first she writes Hwangbo a letter, telling him how much he has meant to her, and how much she regrets her baffling inability to kill Boss Jang, even to save Hwangbo’s life. Then, it’s off to the palace.
The King looks down on the kneeling damo with a concerned expression;
After a lot of swooping, slinking, swimming, and close calls, Chae Ohk finds the King. His guards pounce on her, and she is severely wounded. Her battered body is dumped at his feet. He is amazed that such a low ranking woman has gone to such lengths to meet him. The damo manages to gasp out the story of a conspiracy against the throne, insisting that Chief Joh and Hwangbo are innocent, and demanding their release.

We don’t see how this conversation ends. The next thing we know, Chae Ohk is alone, stumbling up a river bed. The thief and his wife are crossing a bridge, arguing on their way to the execution. They recognize the damo, and rush her to the Police Station, but the clerk/herbalist thinks she is past saving.

At the palace, the King broods for awhile, then confers with his security chief, the only other person to hear Chae Ohk’s story. They agree that there is a conspiracy from inside the court. The security chief speaks highly of the late General, Chief Joh, and Hwangbo, saying that they alone were untainted by court politics. The King blames the prisoners for the death of the General, but the chief points out that executing them would just play into the hands of the rebels.
Hwangbo and Chief Jo in white prison clothes and messy hair receive news of their release;
Chief Joh (Park Yeon Gyu) and Hwangbo (Lee Seo Jin) are led to be executed, or so they expect. Instead, without turning to face them, the security chief reinstates them to the Left Police Bureau, and orders them to perform their duties at all costs. Hwangbo asks whether this is a royal command. The security chief doesn’t answer, saying only that Chae Ohk was a fine but reckless subordinate.

He walks away, leaving Chief Joh to open a silk-wrapped parcel that contains a golden belt and a note from the King, commanding them to investigate which of the court advisers is behind the plot. Their release and reinstatement creates an uproar at the court, but the King pulls rank and insists on giving them another chance.

Back at the Left Police Station, the clerk tells Hwangbo that Chae Ohk’s only hope is the King’s personal physician. Hwangbo waits all day to see him, but he declines to treat the damo without the King’s order. Hwangbo then pulls his sword and threatens to kill the physician and himself. Way to thank the King for letting you go!

The royal physician examines Chae Ohk. Since she is so loved, he tells Hwangbo, he would’ve been pleased to save her. However, she cannot truly be called alive, as all of her spirit lines are cut. Everybody wails except Hwangbo, who loads her onto a horse and gallops off, telling the others not to look for him if he doesn’t come back. Riding all night, he takes the unconscious damo to the river where they played as children, holding her close, washing her face and feeding her river water. Then he takes her to the old monk who raised them.
A monk with long white hair and bear meditates in the foreground as Hwangbo stands in the doorway with the unconscious damo;
At the Left Police Station, Chief Joh is angry that they haven’t heard from Hwangbo, and takes over the duties himself. Officer Lee (Kwon Oh Joong) is sent to attend community events undercover and locate Boss Jang.

Near the mountain camp, in a drenching downpour, Officer Lee meets with other plainclothes officers for an update on the rebels. They are winning support by punishing power abuses and redistributing stolen wealth. No one has returned to the mountain camp.
Dressed in villager clothes and a thatch raincoat Officer Lee meets with guards at the mountain camp;
Officer Lee steps away alone, as this is the site of the disastrous raid. Flashing back to the day when so many of his comrades died, he pours wine on the ground to pay his respects. Then he sees a couple passing nearby and follows them to the leper camp. When he realizes what it is, he starts to leave, but he hears metal hammering metal, the sound of a forge. Following the sound, he peeks in a window, and sees counterfeit coins being made.

Officer Lee rushes back to the Left Police Station to inform Chief Joh. The Chief orders him to quietly station an elite force outside the capital city, and to capture the counterfeiters and their molds without killing anyone. Officer Lee is surprised. Capturing Jang Sung Baek (Boss Jang) is not the problem, the Chief says, without further explanation.

Despite their efforts at secrecy, someone informs the Magistrate (Jung Ho Keun). He meets with the Lord who is behind the whole operation. The Lord orders a special force of Japanese soldiers to raid the leper village ahead of the Left Police Forces and kill everyone. Even the Magistrate is shocked by this, protesting that Boss Jang will not remain in hiding if the lepers are attacked. The Lord instructs him to inform Boss Jang the government troops are coming.
The Lord sits at the head of a table with the Korean flag behind him while the Magistrate reports on the planned raid of the leper village;
Jang Sung Baek reads an upsetting message, and immediately races off towards the leper village. But the Japanese exterminator has already arrived. Lee Hak Chul puts up a fight, taking a hostage, but the leader of the Japanese assassins stabs right through his own soldier to kill him. With his dying breath, Lee Hak Chul shoves a Japanese sword under his body where it won’t be seen.

Chief Joh arrives by daylight, surveying the carnage with dismay. No one has escaped, and all evidence of counterfeiting has been removed. The Chief give orders for a cleanup, and his forces withdraw.

Naturally, this is when Jang Sung Baek arrives. He finds the body of the man who rescued him in childhood and weeps – his troops are also devastated. Soo Myung (Kim Min Kyeong) notices the foreign sword. Boss Jang takes one look at it and is livid. He and Soo Myung dash off to the Magistrate, where he demands to see the Lord. The Magistrate protests that everyone at court is being closely watched, but Boss Jang insists, stabbing the bloody Japanese sword into the table.

The damo lies covered with a sheet while Hwangbo tends smoking moxa cones on her back and limbs;
In a room filled with candles and gold Buddha statues, the monk performs shiatsu on a still-unconscious Chae Ohk. Later, Hwangbo tends her as she receives a moxa treatment. In her pocket, he finds the note she wrote to him before setting out for the palace. He reads and weeps, telling her how much meeting her meant to him as a flashback montage plays. He begs her not to leave him.

Boss Jang, Soo Myung, and the Magistrate meet with the Lord in the woods at night. Jang greets the Lord respectfully, but then confronts him with the foreign sword. The Lord makes a great show of grief and remorse that he didn’t learn about the raid in time to save the villagers who had worked so hard for their cause. He reproaches Boss Jang for believing he could be that monstrous.

Jang Sung Baek has spotted the Japanese soldiers concealed in the woods all around them. The Lord calls them out of hiding, and the Magistrate serves as translator. Their leader confirms the sword is one of theirs. One of his men identifies it as a sword he lost on an earlier visit to the leper village to transport counterfeit coins. The Lord and the Japanese assassin leader glare at him. The soldier understands the unspoken order. He says he will prove he speaks the truth with his life, and stabs himself.

Jang Sung Baek holds out the bloodstained Japanese sword to the Lord;Jang Sung Baek is shocked and a little sickened by this, but not convinced. Why would government soldiers kill everyone without taking a single prisoner to torture for his whereabouts? Since he, the Minister of Defense, was not informed, the Lord asserts it was vengeance for the deaths in the mountain camp raid. He promises to make them regret it, and tells Boss Jang that the day for him to raise his sword is drawing near.

When Boss Jang has gone, the Lord slaps the Japanese leader, then draws his sword on the Magistrate. Magistrates are a dime a dozen, but he needs Jang Sung Baek to win the hearts of the people. Out in the forest, Boss Jang pauses, then continues, then pauses again. Soo Myung turns away, as he vents his wrath and grief on an innocently bystanding tree.

The monk stabs Chae Ohk’s upper lip with a toothpick-sized acupressure needle. He tells Hwangbo that he put all of his spirit into the damo, but couldn’t reach her. Hwangbo asks whether she must live out her life in a coma. The monk tells him to deliver a finishing blow, which will either awaken her protective energy, or kill her.

Hwangbo broods over this while he ties back Chae Ohk’s hair, and pulls her into his arms. The monk has warned him that the threat must be real to trigger the defensive response. He must put all thought of saving her from his mind.
Hwangbo ties back the damo's hair looking anguished as he prepares to deliver a killing blow that may revive or kill her;
Then he squinches up his face, and gathers his energy. A high wind rises inside the room as he concentrates, and he is suddenly blown backwards out the door into the yard. That’s good, right? He pulls himself up, afraid to look, as the episode ends.

See all Damo and Lee Seo Jin reviews

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