There seems to be no shortage of lessons being learned this week in Hanyang. Saimdang finds a paper maker to teach her the process of papermaking, Lee Gyeom blossoms as a teacher at Hyun Rong’s school, and Saimdang offers a lesson in kindness and respect to her family and the community of wanderers as she offers them work and a chance to better their lives. While all the teachers have a different style, in the end the community gains from these lessons. Though making beautiful paper, the drawing contest, and the music and painting at the Legendary Bird school often take the foreground visually, our characters are finding teaching to also be an important art in their lives as well. Will the lessons be learned? Ignored? Taken to heart? Find out with us as Wendilynn and me, Kate, discuss this week’s episodes of Saimdang: Light’s Diary.

Wendilynn: Of all the lessons this week, I think the one that made me smile most was the one where our little smart boy had to learn that his mother wasn’t omniscient. I started laughing when, in tears, he asked Lee Gyeom why didn’t his mother know his heart and Gyeom had to remind him that mothers don’t know everything. How much love for his mom must that little boy hold to have such faith in his mother. That moment just stole my heart.

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Kate: Coming on the heels of his proud speech about how his mother was his hero, it was particularly disappointing to see his feelings hurt so quickly. Then again, I felt for Saimdang in this situation too. She’s working her posterior off trying to feed her children and support her family, she stops that to go to the mothers’ contest, and then Whieumdang hits her with a whopping trigger for her PTSD. She’s got a lot to cope with. It’s amazing she’s doing so well, and it says something about her that her son doesn’t understand she can’t do everything.

Wendilynn: Whieumdang really tried to screw her over this week. I felt really worried as both Saimdang and Gyeom figured out that she was the tavern owner’s daughter. The secret that both Whieumdang and Saimdang carry about that old temple can get them both killed. Min Chi Hyung won’t blink twice killing both of them if he thinks it will keep him safe.

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Kate: I’m not sure Whieumdang will think that far ahead if she makes a jealous decision to reveal this information to one-up or punish Saimdang somehow. We saw this week how far she was willing to go to win a painting contest, and to eliminate her competition when her husband started eyeing the servant girl. It would not be surprising if her temper ran away with her and she found both herself and Saimdang in the same rough spot.

Wendilynn: At first I didn’t understand why Saimdang had put away her brush, but then I realized that they were hunting a girl who paints. The safest thing she could do for herself and even for Gyeom was stop painting. That kept them alive. Clearly something is going to change all that next week. At this point, I’m just waiting for the moment when karma takes care of Whieumdang. I figured Saimdang would not be able to sell that paper because there is a paper monopoly. Those merchants won’t let her sell it, not even in the streets. She’ll need someone they can’t touch to buy it.

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Kate: I had thought that she’d put away her brush for a number of reasons such as setting aside her love for Gyeom to get married, the usual commitments that come with being a new wife and mother (which I imagine would be even more time consuming without a washing machine!), associating painting with this one terrible experience was another reason I’d considered. However, I hadn’t thought about how it might be protection, too. She probably doesn’t want to call too much attention to herself and her art. The ribbon alone has already gotten Min Chi Hyung thinking. Now with Gyeom asking similar questions (but from the other side of the mystery) I’m worried too many memories are being stirred up.

Wendilynn: Lee Gyeom is good at stirring things up. It's only a matter of time before Min Chi Hyung realizes that he needs to kill Saimdang. Let's just hope that the King doesn’t also decided he needs to kill people again. In the meantime, I like that Gyeom is just trying to get those boys to open their eyes and realize that memorizing Confucius is not truly learning about him or his way of thinking.


Kate: Lee Gyeom is really blossoming as a teacher. He seemed reluctant to take on the role last week, but being able to help Saimdang’s son pushed him into it and may have helped him to discover a calling. From mentoring Hyun Rong about his disappointment with his mother to encouraging students to approach their studies in a new way and working the moms so he could adopt those non-traditional tactics, he was able to bring a breath of fresh air into the curriculum. However, speaking as someone who has worked in daycare, substituted and student taught at the K-12 level, when he told the students to empty their minds it looked a little bit like he was trying to get a few moments of silence by teaching them the quiet game. It doesn’t usually work for long, but can be golden when it does.

Wendilynn: (falls over laughing at mention of quiet game) Memorization is all well and good, but if you don’t know how to use what you’ve memorized, it does you no good. Confucius had a lot of hidden meanings in his work and trying to get them to learn how to contemplate even their own empty head is a good starting place. Although, I think the mother’s tolerance will only last as long as they think Lee Gyeom is in favor with the king.

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Kate: I think that he has a certain charm that the mothers are affected by as well, but you’re right, that charm won’t go too far if the king no longer supports him. That may disappear soon too, though not necessarily in truth. The king wants to use Gyeom to discover any plots against him, and it looked this week like he may have realized he can’t keep Gyeom too close if he hopes that Gyeom will be able to make the kinds of contacts he needs to be a better informant. I wonder if the king may offer a colder shoulder in the future.

Wendilynn: That’s very possible. We know the King has a problem with paranoia due to how his brother was deposed. So what the ministers think is important to him in a way. But he wants to bring Min Chi Hyung down and to do that, Gyeom needs to be able to work freely. I wonder if Saimdang and her paper making helpers will provide the art school with new paper? That would give them a money source and get him out of Chi Hyung’s “control” as far as paper needs go. And if the art school isn’t buying Chi Hyung’s paper…..well, people like to go where the trendy people go.

Kate: We’ve barely touched on the papermaking, which was a huge step forward for Saimdang this week. She worked so hard to learn and make her first batch of paper, and I was hoping that she would at least find a small source of regular income from it. However, Chi Hyung and Whieumdang have a lot of power over that market. Do you think she was the one to tell that merchant to contract for her colored paper? Was she trying to raise and dash Saimdang’s hopes once again? It was such a hard won success that she was able to get all the colored paper made on time, to see the paper being tossed about at the very end of episode ten was depressing.

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Wendilynn: Very depressing. Yes, Whieumdang set up the bonus deal in order to railroad her. She wanted to create a large debt that Saimdang could never hope to repay. Keeping her poor and probably get the son kicked out of school as well. However, kicking out that paper merchant is what led him to go snitch to Lee Gyeom about the corruption. Although, it looks like he was discovered before he could spend even a dime of his payout.

Kate: To compound the situation and make it even worse, making that colored paper had provided a little inkling of hope for the community of homeless wanderers. I hope something can be worked out and they can get the income they earned by making that paper. They may hold Saimdang responsible for this as well, or at least their leader might.

Wendilynn: They are used to being swindled by the higher classes, so I can understand why their trust is thin. I also hope this works out for them. But someone is going to have to stop those soldiers first. 

How will Saimdang (and her papermaking employees) survive this setback?  Will Lee Gyeom face a colder shoulder next week?  When will Whieumdang's past start to catch up with her and will her orchestration of Saimdang's downfall assist in hers?  Let us know in the comments.