Saimdang takes a bold step to make the world better for her daughter. In the meantime, evil has been allowed to run loose and a King falters in illness and distrust. Can Saimdang and Lee Gyeom find their way through the now dangerous paths they see before them? Join Kate and me, Wendilynn as we discuss the tricky navigation of Confucian feminism in these episodes of Saimdang: Light’s Diary.

Kate: There’s definitely still some conflict going on here-Min Chi Hyung was particularly menacing towards Mae Chang at the market- but there were a lot of sweet moments in these two episodes where the characters were acting out of kindness or trying to help each other out. Saimdang and her family were kind to invite Whieumdang’s son to dinner and encourage him to dream. Mae Chang was kind to cook dinner and encourage her siblings to treat Mom with kindness because of how their father’s actions must be hurting her.

Wendilynn: Very sweet moments. I really liked that the family rallied around each other in this difficult time when their Dad was being stupid. I also liked that their warmth included everyone. When they brought Whieumdang’s son into their home with no fear or judgment, I admit I got a little teary. That little boy has had to see both sides of being the bully and being bullied and now he got to see warmth that is very much lacking at home. Hopefully, this opens a way for Whieumdang and Saimdang to team up because her husband is certifiably crazy.


Kate: Hyun Rong showed a great deal of maturity and grace by including his former bully into their activities when he showed up with no prompting from his mother and welcomed him with no evidence of ill will. Hopefully, in this case, the apple can fall a bit far from the tree and Whieumdang’s song can show greater empathy and kindness than she did when mistreated. I’m not sure she will last long enough to bury the hatchet with Saimdang, the way Min Chi Hyung is pursuing treason. Whiuemdang is still crafty and plotting, but like last week when she refused to participate in trafficking, it’s nice to see she does have some scruples. Min Chi Hyung’s banishment seems to have removed his entirely.

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Wendilynn: He’s obsessed with control and punishing his enemies. He was willing to slaughter an entire temple for power, what does he care about treason? However, now that the King distrusts Lee Gyeom, and they’ve dragged him into that government job, I see how we could find Lee Gyeom banished to Italy. I can see the theft of the boat plans being blamed on him and the Crown Prince forced to banish him to save his life.

Kate: That does seem like a realistic guess, yet we still have eight more episodes to cover before we hit that ending, which seems like a lot if that is the solution. I suppose we could spend some more time in the present-day storyline, something that was a lacking this week. I don’t mind spending the bulk of the time in the past, but it would be nice to get a short scene or two updating us a little. Speaking of endings, I wonder how the storyline with Won Soo will end in the long run. He finally seems to be figuring out that his new squeeze is more interested in opportunities for financial enrichment than making him happy. At first I was mad at him when he suggested to her that he could get Saimdang to paint more so that they could sell the paintings to finance her lifestyle, then as he interacted with her a couple more times, he increasingly questioned her about choices she was making, such as why she needed a silk dress, or why she didn’t tell him about Saimdang’s visit, or that she keeps buying on credit. He may not be the brightest bulb, but he’s starting to catch on to her greed and that he just be a means to fulfill it.

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Wendilynn: Which is dumb because you’d think he’d have clued in after sleeping with her for 2 years. It's not like she became this way overnight. But putting stuff on a tab with the merchants was a new issue, I think. She really had a lot of gall to buy stuff using her lover’s wife’s reputation. It was nice to see him finally see how she cared about him in her own way. Sure, she wasn’t ripping off his clothes in passion, but she was seeing to his needs and making him comfortable in her own way. His own inferiority caused the rest. Considering that Saimdang was awarded a “mother of the year” award in her real life, I’m assuming things will stay okay for her overall. Maybe her husband comes back to his senses. Maybe she and Lee Gyeom find a way to navigate a prickly King who will kill them without thinking about it.

Kate: I wasn’t sure if I was happy Saimdang was painting the king’s portrait or not since it meant that she would be under his watchful and temperamental eye that much more. One is less likely to be the focus of his hissy fits if one is not regularly meeting with him. Painting his portrait is an honor, but it is also dangerous. You can’t say that Saimdang isn’t tactful, though, which is a talent she has in much greater abundance than Gyeom. As a strong and capable woman in a Confucian society where men dominate, she has much more practice with it, too. Maybe she will be able to smooth things out in the relationship between the King and Gyeom more, and it will be the Crown Prince’s successor who has to get Gyeom out of the way.

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Wendilynn: Saimdang is a diplomat with amazing skill, this is true. I didn’t want her under the King’s eye, but I understand she had to show her daughter that chances for success can happen for women too. Just as she allowed her oldest to become a blacksmith, she’s giving her daughter the chance to dream in the closed world of Confucian society. Not an easy thing to do. She could have easily told her daughter that nothing would change and to just accept it, but she didn’t. She recognized that it wasn’t fair and counseled her to not give up hope, even when the night is long. I really loved that.

Kate: Mae Chang showed some of the same gumption her mother did dressing as a boy, using her older brother’s name, and competing to show off her artistic skills. I also thought it was a neat moment when Gyeom was telling her about how Saimdang had acted as a girl, how she had rebelled too. I had forgotten that we’d met her (and they’d met each other) when Saimdang had taken off her skirt to climb a wall. Mae Chang is more like her mother than she realizes.

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Wendilynn: When mom has spunk, it's going to show up in the kids as well. I appreciated the quieter slice of life this week because next week looks to be filled with all sorts of intrigue and danger. I have to wonder what Gyeom is thinking by giving all his wealth away.

Kate: That concerned me, but more for protective reasons. If Gyeom gives away all of his wealth, what will he do if he needs to help bail Saimdang out from trouble again? He helped to jumpstart her paper business by buying a bunch of her colored paper and then bought all of her artwork to give it back to her after her husband sold it. Sure, it’s philanthropic to donate his wealth to help give opportunities to the poor and all, but what if Saimdang’s in trouble? And I’m sure exile in Italy doesn’t come cheap.

Wendilynn: That’s a very good question. And I’m sure the King is looking for a way to get both of them if he can manage it. Giving away the only thing that can give you safety in a moments notice is perhaps not the smartest move. 

The King is suspicious of everyone around him. Will the paranoia caused by distrust of his ministers backfire on the Crown Prince, Lee Gyeom, and Saimdang?   How will this all tie in with Ji Yoon, Professor Min, and the elusive Rade?  What are you expecting from the story next?  Tell us in the comments below. 

For more from your Drama Club check out:

Wendilynn: As the Kimchi Turns | DF video drama club | My Shy Boss | Past Drama Clubs

Kate: Let’s Fight Ghost | Answer Me 1988 |Entertainer| Orange Marmalade| Fall in Love Like a Star

For past episode reviews



Saimdang: Light's Diary (Herstory)

Starring Lee Young Ae and Song Seung Hun

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