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

Janggeum’s Dream: Episode 35 Commentary

Wistfully, Love Begins

Collage of Janggeum's Dream screenshots.

Hwan is starting to make a believer out of me that he might actually not be a bad guy. If there’s a ninja who looks similar to him (something very easy to accomplish with the limited number of hairstyles worn, especially by young men his age), then it could be that Hwan’s been innocent all along. I’m not giving him a complete pass just yet, as there are questions waiting to be answered. How did he know to rush to the ice warehouse to save the girls? Also, what did he see right before the rock hit Jeong-ho — perhaps he did see who threw it?

I’m also waiting to find out what’s become of Sin-ssi. Even Lady Han has an appearance again (and good show by Janggeum, helping her out). There’re are still plenty of episodes left to work with, so there’s no rush.

The punishment Lady Eun gives Yeonsaeng and Janggeum resembles the punishment seen with Japanese students in other series. If Koreans in the 1500’s actually did the whole “hold a pot of water over your head” (assuming the pots are not empty), and Japanese students of the last century have endured the same with a pail of water, I am left to wonder: did the two punishments develop independently, or did they originate from the same base? I’m still waiting for Lady Eun to turn to Yeong-ro and say, “Since you obviously find their punishment so funny, why don’t you join them?”

As Suro and Dong-I followed after Hwan, he had to have known they were following after him the entire time (unlike the unnoticing girls later on when Suro eavesdrops on their conversation). Suro may be underestimating the warrior, and if he’s keeping his full attention on Hwan, he might miss a more dangerous adversary. I don’t doubt for one second that Hwan has been hired to stir up trouble for Janggeum in some way, so it’s only a matter of which incidences Hwan has been behind.

Even though I don’t know what Janggeum said to Yeonsaeng while the two were in trouble, I gather Janggeum understood why Yeonsaeng was spaced out, and can relate. She puts forth the effort to make a special dish for Jeong-ho, only for Suro to ruin it. With a choice between Janggeum’s dish (made into what looks like meager leftovers thanks to Suro) and Geum-yeong’s as-of-yet unknown item, what is Jeong-ho do to? He obviously likes Janggeum in some way, but the two gifts surely make it look as if Janggeum doesn’t feel Jeong-ho is worth more than a minor effort, whereas Geum-yeong’s may show the input of time, skill, and energy. On top of that, Geum-yeong has the cute “very subtle” blush.

The Chinese character on the book Eunbee holds up looks to read 秘. In Japanese, this character means “secret”. Perhaps the girls are trying to convince Janggeum, Yeonsaeng, and Chang-I that this is a special book of secret, or of answers they can use in class?

Again and again, not knowing what characters are saying gets in the way. One can only get so far by watching the animation, listening to the tones of the voices, gathering names spoken, and hearing a few known words. What is the significance of the book Yeong-ro takes to Janggeum, Yeonsaeng, and Chang-I (although the latter two are out at the time), and why are the other girls placing bets over it? Yeong-ro is less than obvious showing off the book, so she’s clearly trying to get a reaction from Janggeum over it. Because of everything Yeong-ro’s done, I’m afraid I can only sit back and laugh when Chang-I unwittingly knocks her over.

I wonder if the two girls Suro and Dang-I overhear talk about something related to a flower falling into a bowl of water. Unless this is a common Korean ritual for good luck, it fits for the girls to have talked about it, as Suro proceeds to try it out after listening to the girls talking. Maybe Suro should have tried moving the bowl under a falling flower, unless that would have invalidated whatever he would have gotten out of it.

Now both Chang-I and Yeong-ro have had a candle-collision while falling asleep. Since Thomas Edison won’t be around for hundreds more years yet, they really need to find a new way of handling candles. Hanging from the ceiling, or mounted on a wall perhaps? Or a taller candle holder bolted to the floor? Any one of these would solve Chang-I’s knocking the candle over in a prior, first series episode, and Yeong-ro’s catching her hair on fire this time around.

A couple of episodes ago, Janggeum clapped after hearing Little Red playing his instrument. I wondered to myself how many cultures “invented” clapping. This episode brings something very common to any American, so I’m again wondering about how far back it goes for various cultures. Yeonsaeng, and then later Yeong-ro, plucks the petals off flowers, and while I have no idea what she’s saying, repeating the same phrase every other petal gives the impression of “he loves me, he loves me not”. Yeong-ro, on the other hand, is trying to determine whether she should pick Suro or Hwan, and keeps ending up with Suro, no matter which of the two she beings with. The flowers must not all have five petals. Isn’t it easy enough to tell which the result will be just by looking at the flowers? Lady Eun needs to cut back on teaching how to bake bread long enough to teach the girls how to count to five, and then cover the basics of probability and predictability. (Another cultural curiosity would be Yeong-ro’s finger swirl to show Janggeum is crazy. She did something similar in series one, on the pirate’s island, referring to Lady Choe.)

By returning Dan-I to Yeonsaeng, Hwan shows not only that he knows Yeonsaeng exists (which is probably more than Yeong-ro can say), but he knows the turtle belongs to her. This may also show he knows Yeonsaeng left the water for him and the other two (at least, that’s what I took from her watching them, and Dan-I being beside the pot.)

The scroll Lady Eun holds up reads “sanghwa” (상화). Subtitles appear to read 상화(床花): 종이나 비단으로 만들어 진치상에 꽂아 놓는 조하(造花)”, which seems to say something about flower arrangement, and maybe silk. The Chinese characters in parenthesis beside “sanghwa” reads “flower bed” according to my kanji dictionary. Reading up on sanghwa, they are flowers which stand for national peace, everlasting happiness, and longevity when used at court events or on the table for a royal banquet. Because of this, I expect the next episode to have nothing to do with flowers.

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