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

Janggeum’s Dream: Episode 34 Commentary

Childhood Friend

Collage of Janggeum's Dream screenshots.

It wasn’t quite what I expected, but this is the episode I’ve been waiting for since the first series. Too bad I didn’t understand more than a few words in the whole episode.

Why was young Jeong-ho on the ground? It doesn’t matter, I suppose; what matters is his meeting Suro. Had Jeong-ho never met Suro, Jeong-ho might have become a scholar or something. Just look at his clothes. While Suro and the other boys have patched clothing, showing their families cannot afford to buy a new outfit when a patch will do, Jeong-ho’s outfit looks less commonplace. He looks like the son of a scholar.

With young Suro being the top of his class, it’s no wonder he’d feel depressed losing to a newcomer. I’m going to take it he won against Jeong-ho fair and square by the episode’s end, but young Jeong-ho’s smile can be a bit deceiving. Is he smiling because he lost in a fair match? Is he smiling because his new friend was able to defeat him again? Or did he throw the match, so Suro would feel better again?

Nothing has been said about Sin-ssi since the calling card was found in her place. If young Sin-ssi was royal playmate to young prince Jungjong, this would mean her family had a high status as well. Not as high as the royal family, but higher than Jeong-ho’s family (certainly lowly scholars).

I did think it was strange for one of the small sacks to peg Jeong-ho as hard as it did, but seeing the blood on the bandage, it felt over the top. That is, it would have been if it wasn’t a rock striking Jeong-ho in the head. Could Hwan’s reaction before the impact be because he saw a rock about to hit Jeong-ho? I don’t imagine he saw who threw it.

Putting the pieces together, Lady Choe (as well as Pansul) hopes to up Geum-yeong’s status over Janggeum’s. They hire Hwan to carry out some deeds. He goes so far as to put something in Jang Gyeong’s food. This moves Lady Han out of the way, but why put the blame on Sin-ssi, and why isn’t this blame enough to clear Lady Han’s name?

Further, Hwan or Pansul locked Janggeum and Yeonsaeng in the ice house, leading to Hwan’s rescue. Unfortunately for Hwan, Jeong-ho appeared as well. This wouldn’t be Hwan’s first heroic rescue, as that happened at the agriculture festival. The question is: was the event with the bull set up as well?

Finally, there’s Jeong-ho being hit by a rock. It couldn’t have been thrown by Hwan, and there’s no way Pansul could be the one. Who else could get in and throw a rock unnoticed? It’s difficult trying to be a 명탐정 (great detective) when there are so many holes and unresolved situations pending. Not knowing Korean doesn’t help, either.

As children, Jeong-ho and Suro trained under the big-eared old man seen in the opening segment. And even back then, Suro’s hair was standing on end when he thinks he’s seen a ghost. Without a name for the old man, I’ll have to call him Elder Floppy-ears. One method of training from Elder Flops is catching a rock one cannot see being thrown, which the boys quickly adapt to. When they are expecting a rock, both are able to catch it without a problem. A couple of unexpected rocks, on the other hand, are enough to peg them each in the forehead. This was as children, so by today (well, today in 15XX), Jeong-ho should be able to catch anything coming his way. Even with the sacks being tossed back and forth all around him, he could have heard one coming his way. His level of distraction looking at Hwan must show a deep lack of trust.

Jeong-ho has always been a silent fellow, even though his voice is deep and can be commanding. This traces back to his youth as a quiet child. By how he acts and is dressed, I wouldn’t imagine he has many friends, let alone friends he’ll run around and play with. Perhaps Suro was his first friend. Being the quiet type, Jeong-ho could also be non-confrontational, which goes in line with his not wanting to sword fight Suro on Jeju Island. He does have a competitive spirit, though, as seen with his first phenomenal sword fight against Suro, as he kept getting back up again until the teacher stepped in.

What interests me is Jeong-ho’s fighting. Suro’s the skilled swordsman, and Jeong-ho does learn this way of battle quickly, but the latter also shows an impressive show of martial arts against the thieves. I don’t think this is something Jeong-ho picked up quickly in school. No, he had to have had training prior. Maybe being dressed in an outfit that looks like something a scholar’s son would wear requires one to take some form of martial arts.

Elder Floppy-ears reminds me of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. His taps to wake Suro aren’t quite the same has Miyagi’s hand-rub to relieve Daniel’s pain, but the tapping and the blindfolded rock toss give a similar impression. Since he’s seen in the opening animation, I gather he’ll appear again in present day (at least, for Janggeum and company). Too bad he doesn’t seem very realistic to me. Maybe once he has more screen time he will, but even Granny Pot had a realistic feel which I just don’t get from Flops. Maybe it’s his short height and big head, but that’s a realistic look for some people. I’ll give ‘im more time before making any judgments.

Is the class Suro is in simply a class on sword fighting, or is it a class for future soldiers? If it’s the former, then perhaps the duo’s capture of the thieves put them in good status with royalty, leading to them getting jobs as soldiers later on in life.

Going along with the idea of Jeong-ho being a nobleman’s son, young Jeong-ho bows before the young prince and Sin-ssi after hearing Jungjong’s name spoken. Young Suro doesn’t seem to fully understand who’s before him initially.

Suro isn’t the only one who looks different without his headband on. Jeong-ho is almost not recognizable. I’d still like to see how some of the other characters look without their hair in a braided ponytail.

The next episode preview shows Hwan getting even closer to Yeonsaeng, whether he realizes it or not. Hopefully things won’t end too badly for Yeonsaeng after Hwan is revealed to be the enemy.

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