This is a episode commentary. It is intended for someone who has seen this episode, and will contain episode spoilers.

Janggeum’s Dream: Episode 20 Commentary

Strange Cook

Collage of Janggeum's Dream screenshots.

A lot of character building and friendship building has gone into the characters, allowing for a very strong opening segment for this episode. When Janggeum, Yeonsaeng, and Changi are kicked out of the palace, left standing alone in the rain, how can one hold back the tears?

Simply sitting outside the palace walls isn’t enough. Without learning anything, without true humility and sincerity, any forgiveness for Janggeum would be more harmful than good. It would give acceptance to her actions, and would lend to an even lower view of her in the eyes of the other apprentices.

The silent struggle is within Han. She’s always been there to help out Janggeum, always been there for Janggeum, but this time Janggeum must resolve things on her own. To be given help would defeat the purpose, and no lesson would truly be learned. She may be strict with Janggeum on the outside, but it’s painful for her on the inside. That may very well be why she’s being as strict as she is. If she were to ease up even just a little, it might be too difficult for her.

With Janggeum’s shoe left behind (and congrats to Suro for lending Janggeum his), this ensures Janggeum and Han will see one another again sometime. Han has to return the shoe sometime, after all.

There’s another item to be returned, as well: Janggeum’s ring. At any time, Jeong-ho could easily return it. He might be waiting until he can find a way to set things right before handing it over again. Unfortunately, the king’s hands are tied, the king unable to act upon his own wishes for the situation. Jeong-ho looks fed up over it, hopefully with the system and not with King Jungjong. If it gets to be too much for him, he could always consider getting his own show, travelling the lands of northern Korea, setting right all the wrongs he finds. His partner, equal-to-him-and-definitely-not-a-sidekick would be Suro, and Suro’s comedic sidekick would be Dongi.

Actually, you could add Janggeum and Yeonsaeng into this new show, as well. Two banished apprentice court ladies, travelling to learn not just about cooking, but about growing ones own crops as well. A strong soldier and his sidekick, along to protect them. And Jeong-ho, wondering how he just went from star of his own series to background character.

I can already see the episodes in my mind. The group travels through Jeolla-do, and spend time there with Changi. Elsewhere, Yeonsaeng faints to learn the process involved in going from “cute chicken hopping around” to “main course”. Maybe not, though, as she is a cook. She might even take the axe to the chicken’s neck herself, a look of sheer determination in her eyes.

As for the episode at hand…

Court lady Choe has to be careful. She’s putting herself at risk to propel Geum-young’s status. If Yeong-ro slips up about how Geum-young’s been reading a (probably illegal) copy of the Gungjungmiseo book, then Geum-young could be kicked out as well. How’s that sound, Geum-young? You stand to be praised and promoted for doing the exact same thing Janggeum was banished for. Looks like you’ve finally won, Geum-young. Think about it a little.

Janggeum looking up at the moon and Jeong-ho looking at the ring in the moonlight recalls the scene when Dongi’s father first told Janggeum about the invitation to try out to become an apprentice court lady, when Janggeum ran to the tree on the hill outside, and looked upon the rings. This time around, happiness is replaced with sorrow for all sides involved.

Even though Yeong-ro seems to take delight in the plight of the trio, I’m hoping to see a bit of deep thinking and character growth from her as the days pass by, and she continues to see those three empty chairs in class. With her personality, it has to be difficult to find and retain friends. Janggeum never treated her as an opponent. While Yeong-ro and Yeonsaeng have had their fair share of rivalries, things were looking up while they were in captivity (of course with no hope of that carrying over to when they were free). Come on Yeong-ro, let’s see some thinking out of you, too.

Changi had to leave to make for a smaller group when Janggeum and Yeonsaeng travel with the expert in foods, Kim Yu. Being the author of the book Janggeums’ group destroyed, Janggeum can learn a lot from him. Hopefully this means she’ll learn what she’s been doing wrong lately, using tricks without fully understanding them. Really, serving salty apples for desert? Yu needs to bop Janggeum on the head with something for that one.

The book Janggeum looks at in Yu’s house is called Suunjapbang. I’d say more about this if I knew anything about it.

There’s no way Yeonsaeng could stay behind while Janggeum left. No matter how sick she may feel, both physically after between being out in the rain and mentally after being banned from the palace, she’ll put out the strength to travel alongside her friend. It’s all she can do right now.

While Yeonsaeng’s joining Janggeum shows her loyalty and continued friendship, I can’t help but feel she’s being put in a position to be a vital asset to things before Janggeum returns home. The journey can’t take too long, as Yu has crops and livestock to care for, and it may only last for one episode, if not two or three (I’d give it three episodes tops), but that should be enough time to give Yeonsaeng a nice role while still focusing on Janggeum’s growth.

It’s one thing for Janggeum to know about preparing foods, but what good is preparing a food if the food is not available to prepare? The next step is to learn how to grow the foods she knows how to prepare.

Oh, and Dongi’s father is Mr. Deokgu. I imagine this was said in an early episode, and I simply didn’t catch it due to all the new names at that time.

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