The heat is on our protagonists as Saimdang attempts to produce goryeoji in time to pay off the drifters’ trumped up debts, keep out of jail, and keep her home. Join Wendilynn and me, Kate, as we discuss the action-packed episodes thirteen to sixteen of Saimdang.

Our heroes face many obstacles, but we still hold out hope Saimdang's paper will win the contest. But that’s not the only deadline that is hanging over the heads of the characters. We finally get a glimpse back into the plot in present day, where Seo Yi Joon and her allies are racing to authenticate their find and in the process, save her professorship and discredit the professor who screwed her over--and maybe save Yi Joon’s husband to boot. Oh, and if that isn’t enough then there’s the growing tension between the king and Lee Gyeom, and the blows Lee Gyeom and Min Chi Hyung come to. Will this race lead to justice, or will it lead to more pain?

Wendilynn: So much goes on in these episodes. I kept getting up and walking around because I would get so nervous. I understand intellectually that Saimdang is supposed to win.. But you know...Kdramas just are not safe and this show makes me nervous for her. Here she is trying to find the secret to that special paper and she’s got soldiers trying to kill her the whole time. I could not watch that sitting down.

Kate: Oh yeah, I was thinking along some of the same lines as you. There usually is some kind of win for our heroes in a k-drama, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a whole lot of pain getting there. We’re just over half through at the moment, which leaves a number of episodes to go through more trials and difficulties. And of course, we mustn’t forget the pitiful condition Lee Gyeom will later find himself in while in Italy. We know /something/ pretty bad must happen to wreak that kind of emotional distress.

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Wendilynn: You know, these episodes had some interesting flashback usage. We flashbacked to Gyeom in Italy while they were peeling the burned but surviving section of the Mt. G. painting. And that whole sequence was both scary and hilarious as you have Professor Min trying to find out the truth while in a club dressed as movie stars. I have to wonder why he talks to her like he deserves to know what she is up to. He has no right to the information she has, yet he seems to be under this delusion that she is supposed to still respect him. As if.

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Kate: I understand why Professor Min is following them and intimidating them, but I too wondered why they continued to let him. He’s already ruined their career paths. They don’t really have anything left to lose from him other than physical custody of the journal and painting Yi Joon found in Italy. It was, however, incredibly satisfying to see her yell at him about all the jerky things he’d done to her in the past. All those costumes were hilarious too! Particularly the wink at Lady Vengeance. I wonder, though, what will come of Sang Hyun’s friend at the club also being the daughter of Director Sun.

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Wendilynn: Director Sun is proving to be an interesting character. We’ve got her sort of hanging. We have her and Ji Yoon bargaining but we don’t know yet what the results of that meeting are. I also was intrigued when we discovered that her daughter is infatuated with Sang Hyun. There’s a twist that could be interesting. I sort of hope that once we take down Sun Group she writes that book that takes down Professor Min. Even though taking down one will take down the other. He should be held responsible for his sins.

Kate: Professor Min is more dastardly than Director Sun, at least as far as we know at the moment. It does seem she is up to some shady business practices as well, but the Professor chose the nuclear option against Ji Yoon when she merely questioned him, and only seems to motivate his students through fear. He seems almost as unbalanced as the king.

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Wendilynn: It's not always good to be the king. We know the King lives in perpetual terror at all times. That’s going to unhinge a person. And he really doesn’t love anyone because he knows they can at any time be taken from him. And we’ve already seen his love for Lee Gyeom get shaken many times. I don’t really understand why he doesn’t trust Gyeom every time he is not at home. You put him in charge of investigating corruption, if he’s gone, he’s probably doing his job. Lol But no, we had to bring in a old concubine who will be more than happy to slit Gyeom’s neck.

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Kate: Ugh, that development definitely made me angry. What kind of a reason is it to stop the execution of a traitor because you need different kinds of people to make a kingdom? A balance of good and bad? That seems bonkers to me, and more so that it convinced the king to let Chi Hyung off. This woman is bad news for Gyeom, and probably bad news for the king, even though he’s not self-aware enough to realize it. There were a few times that the king reacted angrily to Gyeom’s absence when I wanted to shake him. Gyeom was off doing his job! The job you asked of him! Oh, that and running for his life.

Wendilynn: I get dividing and conquering your enemies. If they can’t organize then they can’t come after you. And in that regard, Min Chi Hyung will kill everyone who let him face beheading. So, in that regard, it might have been a smart move. However, it makes life very difficult for our heros. I loved that little moment in the cave they got. I get they can’t be together, but oh.. How I long to have them connect just a little. He loves her so much and she works so hard to not give in which would really make their situation worse. If she ever said she loved him out loud, he’d never let her go. He’d throw away everything for her right then and there.

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Kate: It was a little disappointing that their romantic moments running for their lives were interrupted. Saimdang is incredibly upright, though. It’s hard to believe she’d do anything that would violate her duty to her husband and children, or to make things more difficult for Gyeom. Which is of course, why she can’t say. But maybe it can come out in her painting, no? I’m also interested to see where Whieumdang is headed next. She has been beaten by Saimdang and Lee Gyeom (who even saved her life!), and she is not in a good place. Further, it won’t take much for her husband to turn on her. She’s pretty cunning, and she’s going to need to put that to work for her to survive. Barring some skillful plotting, I can’t see her last very long. She’s a pretty good antagonist, though, so I’m sure we’ll find she comes up with some kind of tactic that gets her a reprieve.

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Wendilynn: She’ll survive for awhile. I’m sure Chi Hyung will toss her as soon as he thinks she’s not useful. So she’ll have to have something up her sleeve. But she is the mother of his children and so she won’t abandon them too quickly. Although, I can’t imagine how their household was doing through all this. Dad on the chopping block and Mom disappeared. Speaking of households, the very minor side story of Saimdang’s husband getting a job was just pathetic. He really is a spineless buffoon. How long do you think it takes before they get him mixed up in some corruption crap? He’s so stupid that he’d be such easy prey. We’ve already got that tavern couple playing him.

Kate: I found that sub plot incredibly frustrating. I had to stop watching the episode whenever the tavern couple came on screen. Saimdang deserves so much better than him, though at least he seems to be a simple buffoon who truly cares for her rather than a petty or vicious tyrant. I can understand now how he got cheated out of their house, that’s for sure. It doesn’t take much effort to fool him. It was lovely, though, to see him raise a force to try and find her. He does truly love her, though I think he also would have a difficult time muddling through without her, and at least half of his panic over finding her missing was due to that.

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Wendilynn: His love for his family is his one redeeming quality. This marriage is not evenly yoked in any way. Her strength intimidates him quite a bit. And I think she knows that he does love them in his own weak way. But, ugh, I’m ready to get rid of him because Saimdang deserves so much more. Lol But, I honestly don’t know if Lee Gyeom is worthy of her either. That reminds me… I didn't think we’d ever see Lee Gyeom in the modern story. We have Sang Hyun who is the young version of him, but did you notice that the thorn in Professor Min’s side seems to be our adult Lee Gyeom? I guess Song Seung Heon gets to play two characters too.

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Kate: I was hoping that the new job for Lee Won Soo would be truly a time for celebration or at least ease the money problems at home, but he managed to muck that up too. And you’re right, Lee Gyeom has his weaknesses as well, but they would have been more evenly matched than Saimdang and Won Soo by a long shot. It will also be interesting to see how Seung Heon’s character adds to the modern plot. Maybe that is a mark against the theory that they’re modern reincarnations, though, since there are now two modern Gyeoms. Making him a photographer is a nice call back to Gyeom’s artistic talents, however. There seem to be some continuities or connections between those past characters and present day ones, which is why I too was leaning towards there only being one incarnation of past Gyeom in the present. I guess it was just too tempting to see more of Seung Heon on screen, eh?

Wendilynn: It’s not like her modern story is any easier. She’s still married to a husband who she can’t depend on. I honestly don’t know what I’m wishing for with all these storylines. Lol

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Kate: All I really want to see is justice for the good guys and retribution for the bad. We know that Saimdang doesn’t end up with a different spouse, so as long as she can stabilize her family’s situation and return to her art I would judge that a good ending for her in the past. My guess is Lee Gyeom either gets exiled or exiles himself, which is why we find him in Italy. And in modern day? I hope that Yi Joon’s husband, even though he was financially manipulated and tricked like Won Soo, is a bit smarter and better match for her than he has appeared in the past, and that they can find their way back to one another after clearing both of their names, and winning her a professorship through the groundbreaking discovery she has made. It’s a pretty tall order, but I think those may be the happiest endings we can possibly get with the framework we’re working with now. What’s your guess?

Wendilynn: We’re at the halfway mark. My guess is that whatever splits Saimdang and Lee Gyeom permanently is what sets up the modern situation that allows her to win against Professor Min and Sun Group. I agree with your assessment that it's the best we can hope for. Saimdang dies with a reputation as an ideal woman and mother who was a gifted artist so we know she isn’t ruined in her life, and that does help me when I’m busy gnawing off all my nails as Whieumdang and Chi Hyung vie to kill her. But I know it's going to get worse for them before it gets better and that has me all in knots. Lol

What do you think of all these recent developments? Where do you think our characters will end up? Let us know in the comments.

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