Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 15

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Unless you have been living in a cave, you will know by now that Sungkyunkwan Scandal has aired its last episode (and that the best live recap party was hosted right here on Thundie’s Prattle). And if like half the k-drama-watching world you have already watched the ending, you may be asking yourself: What? Episode 15? Again?

Yes! Episode 15! Because this was a good one. And because we can’t let go of SKKS, we are going to revisit Episode 15 with our dear friends.

Kim Yoon Hee:

I will never forget that day. I sat in the middle of the accusing ranks of scholars, and I thought that that must be what hell felt like. I felt sullied, unjustly accused. And trapped, unable to defend myself. And worried sick that my over-noble friend Jae Shin might do something so dumb as admit being the Red Messenger in order to protect me or even just in furious defiance. Above all, I felt sick in my heart because Sun Joon had walked away when I had begged him to help me. My life in danger, my friend in danger, surrounded by peril… in all this, what hurt me and weighed me down the most was the thought that Lee Sun Joon didn’t care.

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When Sun Joon declared himself a homosexual, you could have knocked me over with a feather! What was he saying? What was he doing?

And as it became apparent that he was using this as a clever way of exonerating us, a cloud lifted and my heart soared. He had not ignored my appeal! For all his distaste at my supposed wicked behaviour, for all that I had been a pest and nuisance to him, he was staking his reputation and his gravitas in a game of brinksmanship with Student President In Soo.

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And he won! My clever, book-learned, earnest, resolute Sun Joon looked everyone in the eye and won his argument, beating off every In Soo attack and putting him to flight; securing our acquittal and even putting in a word for tolerance and brotherly love. I was so proud of him and so happy that he was back on my side.

And I found out later that in a flash of his quick mind he had there and then worked out that Jae Shin was the Red Messenger and that I had been protecting him.

See this man? This is my man. The man I love.

Gu Yong Ha:

I love a good show! I was more invested emotionally in this tribunal than I cared to be, for the fate of my precious Crazy Horse was at stake, you understand. But once I knew the danger had passed, I could sit back and bask in the sheer glory of the drama. The great reversal of fortunes! The clever (and revealingly intense) persuasiveness of that uptight scholar. That great bore In Soo routed! Tribunals are generally ugly and hideously indignified affairs, but this one was beautiful. Beautiful!

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And the sub-text. The sub-text, my dear! The righteous and scrupulous Sun Joon mounting a not-so subtle defence of love between men? Oho, sat the wind in that quarter? Ha, the boy was clearly in love with Kim Yoon Shik. Ha ha, what convoluted processings and justifications the boy must have been putting himself through. How delicious! And throwing himself in front of the speeding carriage for her? How dramatic!

And now, throwing himself away altogether? Getting engaged to In Soo’s sister?

My dear, I couldn’t resist it. I confronted him, pulling no punches.

“You lied when you said you were with the two of them that night. Most uncharacteristic! And risky! Why did you do it? I hear you’re getting engaged to In Soo’s sister tomorrow. Why? Do you just not care who you marry? Are you running away? Tell me, are you happy now? And are you going to keep on lying? Whose sake is it for?”

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He made no reply. Of course not! I was spot on. He who set so much store by integrity and courage and all that, when confronted with an untenable situation was himself going for the easy option. Not that any one of us would have done much differently, but it was so gratifying to see that when complicated, messy, messed-up life caught up with the Great Lee Sun Joon, he was human just like the rest of us. Most interesting, wouldn’t you say?

Moon Jae Shin:

I’ll hand it to him, he deserved it. He single-handedly saved us, that cool-headed Lee Sun Joon. He deserves her adulation – the joy and adoration was leaking out of her pores as she soaked in his eloquent words.

And when it was all over, she had only one thing on her mind – to find him. Yes, I could read the signs. Though my heart was slowly breaking, I could read the writing on the wall.

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That night I had dinner with Yeorim. He was fussing again, drinking my alcohol so that I wouldn’t, for the sake of my wound. The silly boy.

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Yoon Hee walked in looking like her world had come to an end. “Did you know? That Sun Joon has left Sungkyunkwan?” She tried to pretend to be merely annoyed that he didn’t say good-bye, but anyone could tell that she was stricken.

She sat awake in her room all night. I know, because I watched over her from outside. I wanted so badly to help her, to ease her pain. But I knew that she didn’t want me.

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Even then, I could see that Sun Joon had feelings for Yoon Hee. I felt certain that he didn’t stick his neck out at the student tribunal for me! And I was fairly certain that Sun Joon had fled because of her. But of exactly what nature and depth were his feelings? And would it make her feel any better to know that he had left because of her, because he still thought her a boy? The best I could do for her at that time was to let her grieve in peace.

And the next day, when I bumped into her on campus, there were tears in her eyes. What had those stupid students been saying to her? Damn. When was the hurting going to end?

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His Excellency the Left State Counciller:

This was when I first had an inkling that I might be losing my son.

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I had raised my son strictly, scrupulously schooling him in all the tenets of Confucianism. The boy soaked it all up. But when I recently started taking him to Level Two, i.e., the realities of politics and power, I had sensed that he baulked. No matter, I sent him off to school. I thought some experience in the wider world might help him grow up a bit. But lately he had been coming home with even more fire in his youthful idealism. What had school been teaching him? I planned to have a word with that Sungkyunkwan principal. Or was it the company he had been keeping?

That night, he announced to me that he was leaving Sungkyunkwan. For no apparent good reason. I was surprised, but I didn’t think it of huge consequence in the bigger scheme of things. It might even have been beneficial to remove him from whatever had been influencing him in Sungkyunkwan. I swiftly made arrangements for him to continue his studies privately, get married soon, and take the civil service examination. But even as I was telling him about the arrangements, his attention was drifting and he was not attending to me. Not attending to me! That was the first time ever that my filial and scrupulous son did not attend to my every word. But I merely thought him preoccupied and didn’t refine too much upon it. In retrospect, I should have been much more watchful.

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Especially when he asked me that stupid question: “Are you happy?” I discounted this as a youthful, callow lapse, and gave him a mild telling off. But I should have paid it more attention. I should have seen that for what it was – the first sign that my son was cracking, and that I was losing him.

Ha Hyo Eun:

It was like a fairy-tale! So exciting! My very own knight in shining armour! So handsome, so upright, so well-mannered, so well-connected, so eager to get married… I felt like a princess! The princess who got Prince Charming! So exciting! Squee! I couldn’t believe it! It was like a dream!

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Lee Sun Joon:

I live for doing the right thing. I am not frivolous or flippant, and I am good at doing the right thing.

So if the right thing was marrying an eligible and eager girl and getting myself away from the boy who made me think inappropriate thoughts, why did it feel so difficult? Why did my feet drag? Why did my heart feel heavy? Why did my head hurt? And why did I feel as if I were walking onto the gallows?

Just as I got to my fiancée’s house, with my wretched engagement gifts in my train, my sixth sense twitched. I thought I sensed someone lurking behind a tree. Someone I wanted to see…

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He was flustered and tried to make light of being there. But I was in no mood for games or pleasantries, and he soon had to drop his pretence. And perhaps I should have just played along, for what he said in his uncalculating honesty cut me to the quick.

“I wanted to say good-bye. Because we may never meet again. I just wanted to see you one last time.”

The puppy-dog look on his face belied the lightness of his tone. I was caught up in swirl of emotion. He had missed me! He didn’t want to let me go. I had missed him. I didn’t want to let him go.

This was not good! I was supposed to leave him. I had realised by then that there was not much I could do about my feelings. But I could at least protect him. Ensure that he never knew that he was the object of a love that should not have been and ensure that he never came within my toxic orbit again.

“It would have been better if you hadn’t come today. Go. We’ll never see each other again,” I said as sternly as I could. It hurt me more than I can say to utter those words which I so didn’t mean. It was for his own good, I told myself. But if it was all for the good, why did it feel so ill?

Damnit. He was starting to cry.

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I set my face, turned away, and walked resolutely toward my fiancée.

Who was a girl. Just a girl. Who ran towards me and clung to me as if I were her saviour. And said, “I will be your worthy wife.” I could see her yearning, her trust in me and her joyful anticipation. And I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. My heart was chilled towards her. Stone cold.

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And I remembered Yong Ha Senior asking whether I intended to live a lie forever.

And I suddenly realized I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t live the lie. So long as Kim Yoon Shik lived, he would be on my mind and I could never make this woman happy. And I couldn’t let her suffer. I realised that I had been using her to solve my problem. And that was just not right.

Before I fully realised what I was doing, I was telling her I couldn’t do it. I was breaking my promise! But it felt right. Absolutely right. It was the right thing to do, being honest.

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Well, as honest as I could be in the circumstances. How could I tell her that I loved a man? I merely said that I was not a man who could love a woman. And I asked her to release me from my promise.

And with that, I felt liberated. Yes! I would be honest! I, Lee Sun Joon, Scion of Noron, Princeling, in this crazy and chaotic situation was helpless and hopeless, thwarted and tossed. But the one thing I could do, was to be honest and true to myself.

I ran out and found him on the streets.

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“I like you, Kim Yoon Shik. I who have always walked the right path, who believes propriety of utmost importance, have started to like you, a man. This is why I can’t have you by my side, neither as a friend nor a roommate. With you by my side, Kim Yoon Shik, I don’t have the confidence to continue living a lie. Don’t worry, Kim Yoon Shik, I’ll make sure you won’t come to any harm because of me. This will be the last time I’ll appear before you. I can still do this much for you.”

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I poured it all out. Recklessly, with abandon, with no regard for pride or consequences. Me, who had always avoided risk and loved proprieties. I completely bared my soul and stood entirely naked before him. I think I shed a tear.

And then, I walked away.

This really was the end. We could never ever meet again, not after such a declaration as this. Not after my heart had burst uncontrollably – how could I ever trust myself to behave as I ought with him? Not after he had seen my duplicitous heart – how could he bear to face me?

I felt burdened. I felt release. I felt I was floating. I felt I was sinking into the farthest depths of the sea.

Ha Hyo Eun:

It was like a nightmare! A complete nightmare! Like, the stupidest, dumbest badly-written romance novel that had ever been badly-written. So rude, so cruel, so hateful… I felt like a gisaeng. A gisaeng who was thrown aside for no good reason! Argh! I couldn’t believe it! It was my worst nightmare!

I had to save face, at least. And stall. I lied to Father, saying we couldn’t carry on with the engagement that day because I wasn’t feeling well. Break off the engagement? Never! Over my dead body!

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His Excellency the Left State Counciller:

The day he broke off his engagement, I realised that something was seriously amiss. Broke off the engagement he had been eager for! The engagement which would have cemented our power base by aligning us with the Minister of War!

But he was immovable. He looked me in the eye. And defied me. Defied me!

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And I learned from his loyal and garrulous servant that he had been hanging out with Kim Yoon Shik. Son of the late Professor Kim Seung Hun. The professor who was known to be protecting the Geum Deung Ji Sa which could bring me down. What ill fate bound my son to the son of a mortal enemy?

Moon Jae Shin:

She had been morose since the day Lee Sun Joon left. And since the day of his engagement her daze seemed to take a more serious turn. She was less frantic but more pensive, more inward-looking, with more of a bitter edge and a whiff of hopelessness.

I found her moping in the library. I would have been happy to leave her in peace, but she asked me: “What should I do? I lied to someone and he has to carry a burden and give up on his dreams. I want to tell him the truth so that he can put down his burden, but I’m afraid that it’s too late and I won’t be forgiven.”

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Ah. So, that’s why she was in such a deep funk. She knew that he left because of her, and she somehow knew that he had feelings for her. Well, I told her to tell the truth and simply ask for forgiveness. I felt certain that Lee Sun Joon would forgive her. After all, I would.

Why did I do that, you ask? I am no fool. Not only was I the smartest student in Sungkyunkwan, I was mature for my years. I knew it was totally pointless trying to get in the way of the love between Sun Joon and Yoon Hee, which had sprung up brave and strong in the unlikeliest of circumstances. What would have been the point? I could never make her love me, to try to do so would have been plain stupidity. But because I genuinely loved her, I could watch out for her. I could give her sound advice and help her find happiness.

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Manservant Soon Dol:

What on earth?

It was as if icky bitty worms were eating the Young Master’s brain, chomp chomp. He turned the pages of his book, unread. He sat in the dark for hours. He couldn’t concentrate on a simple game of go. He stirred his food listlessly. I was so worried! What if he pined away altogether? Had strange creatures abducted my Young Master’s soul and left behind his shell? What on earth was going on? Someone save my Young Master!

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Gu Yong Ha:

The game was getting very interesting.

The sycophantic proctor decided that the school outing should be near where Lee Sun Joon was studying in the hills. He begged me to help entice Sun Joon back. I wished he weren’t quite so effusive and didn’t maul my hand quite so much. I was perfectly happy to help him retrieve Lee Sun Joon! There was no way I was going to let that fascinating bundle of nobility, prickliness and passion fall off my Yeorim-radar so easily.

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Kim Yoon Shik had been moping for days. And Jae Shin had been watching over her like a faithful hound, including consenting to the indignity of a school outing to be with her! And now we were off! Unknown to them, to where Sun Joon was! Oh, the delectable possibilities for Interesting Meetings and Developments, heh heh.

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And it would have been fun enough even without the Sun Joon Factor. Daemul sitting prissily by the water, fully dressed, feigning inability to swim, perpetually in delicious danger of being found out. Crazy Horse hovering about her, roasting sweet potatoes for her and generally behaving like a blooming male mother hen, ha ha.

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But even the fun of watching Jae Shin’s delicate courting / non-courting dance couldn’t tempt me to stick around in the hot sun and sully my nice clothes. Before long I had found the nearest gisaeng house and was doing what I do best: Having a cosy drink and chat with some lovely ladies. And bribing Sun Joon’s servant to bring Sun Joon to the waterfall…

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Kim Yoon Hee:

Sigh. Pool-side parties are always such a trial to a well-brought up girl.

I got tired of fending off attempts to get me into the water, and wondered off for a bit of me-time. I had a lot to think about. Still.

On the one hand, joy. Joy that Sun Joon loved me. He loved me! Even as a boy, he loved me. I still couldn’t quite believe it. I walked through every moment, every conversation, in my mind. When did it start? Could I have read the signs? Where was he now and what was he feeling?

On the other hand, fear. Didn’t I need to confess now? But, what if he hated me for my lie? I wouldn’t have blamed him if he did, he must have gone through hell on account of his feelings for me. And even if I wanted to tell him, where would I find him and how would I get to him? What if he refused to see me?

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Lee Sun Joon:

I saw him. My heart overflowed. It wasn’t a dream – he was really there. The person I had longed for. The person I had thought about for days on end. The person who possessed my thoughts and my dreams.

My first instinct was to go to him. Then I remembered myself. And walked away.

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Kim Yoon Hee:

I sat on a rock by the stream, in the sun. No one else was there. I gazed at the trees and the flowing water. The abundance of life surrounded me. Could I live again? Could my life be abundant too? Could my soul ever find rest, like this peaceful place?

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Lee Sun Joon:

My heart pounded as I walked away. My head hurt. My heart screamed, “No!!” I had to see him one last time.

I turned back.

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Kim Yoon Hee:

I thought I heard scuffling behind me. When I turned round I could see no one.

But the mood was broken. What if I really were not alone? I should go back to everyone else.

In my haste to get up, I dropped a shoe into the water. My shoe!

Lee Sun Joon:

I looked for Yoon Shik. I saw a shoe float by in the water, a shoe about the size of Yoon Shik’s foot. I panicked. I ran and searched. I shouted for him. For my life. For my heart.

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Then I saw him.

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Kim Yoon Hee:

Then I saw him.

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My beloved whom I thought I might never see again! And he ran towards me and hugged me close. And all at once I felt I could find peace again, that I might have hope for a full life again.

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“It’s no use, Kim Yoon Shik,” he said. “No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but come to you like this. So now it’s your turn. Run away from me, Kim Yoon Shik.” And he let me go and turned to walk away.

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This was the time. Now was the time to do it. “Wait!” I called. “You have to listen to my answer before you go.”

I ran towards him. But my unshod foot slipped…

Lee Sun Joon:

I saw him fall into the water. I dived in after him. The water was freezing, my heart was frozen with fear.

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I fished him out. He was unconscious. I had to loosen his clothing…

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… which was when I saw… that Kim Yoon Shik was a woman.

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I will never forget that day. The day that changed my life forever.

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40 thoughts on “Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Episode 15

  1. Awesome, great, wonderfull, brilliant,beautifull, lovely, perfectly and passionately written serendipity!! I feel that i am reading a novel. Looking forward for the next, next, next….

  2. What you’ve watched you have translated it seamlessly to writing. It was great fun reading this though its been some time since I saw this ep.

  3. wow. O_O this is the first time that i enjoyed reading the recap, as much as i enjoyed watching the episode. your choice of words are very flowery and beautiful, i love how you played each character’s POV. just, wow. keep it up! i love reading recaps here!!! 😀

  4. Hi Serendipity (and Thundie)!! I hope you both had a great Christmas! I know I did, because as a gift to myself I bought a set of SKKS dvds and re-watched the whole series (yey, merry, merry indeed!). Not content with that, I re-read all the recaps of the episodes posted on JB and here. And I just had to comment on this – one of my very very favourite recaps. Thank you so much! I love (and envy) your talent. Please don’t stop writing! Here’s wishing the writers on this site all the best for 2011!!

  5. Hi Serendipity. I just saw your recap (abut one year after SKKS has ended on TV) for the first time and wow! what a clever and uniqiue way to do a recap. So different from the norm.

    For someone who has watched SKKS for 19 times, I simply savour and hang on to every word of your recap.Thanks so much for this. This recap dwells more on feelings than just reporting events which really is what I love.

    You write so well , like Thundie and I am so grateful you use your talent for our enjoyment. Where do I find the rest of the SKKS recaps in this blog ? Are they done by different writers? I just got to read them. It’s addictive.

      • Thanks a lot , Thundie for your detailed instructions on where to read the recaps.

        I am not IT savvy and so I just google “SKKS” and read whatever I could find when I was into SKKS last year .

        Even when I stumbled across your blog not too long ago, I am not confident how to navigate my way around it , to find what I need ! It must shock you that there are specimens like me still living under rocks ! I haven’t even graduated to living in caves yet.

        I will get cracking on Episode 1 recap right away. No drama has captured my fancy as much as SKKS has. And I have 12 years of K drama watching under my belt. LOL!

        And that 20,000 word epic review sounds suspiciously like a thesis for a post graduate degree. I have to sink my teeth into it quickly.

        O, last night, I started my 20th viewing of SKKS after watching Baek Dong Soo on cable TV. Call it Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

  6. This was an awesome recap! I just love the insights, they are very unique, some i didn’t think of but still remained very true to character. And that’s what I love about this drama; even though its a light-hearted trendy drama, the characters are very well sculpted and after 10 or so episodes, I feel like I am living in Joseon times and I go to Sungkyunkwan and these people are actual people whom I know.

    yes, I am reading this recap in 2011 btw, had decided to watch skks again. haha

    may I add that this was one of the prettiest episodes so far. The gorgeous people (how does Jaeshin blink ever so slowly and coolly in that library scene with Yoonhee???) dressed in gorgeous clothes (the reason I love watching sageuk; i loved what SunJoon wore in the last scene, as well as geoloh and Yeorim. Makes me wonder how much of their budget they spent on costumes, the quality of fabric is great! and yongha wears at least a hundred different hanbok in this series????) in gorgeous scenery (this place in just beautiful) shot gorgeously by gifted cameramen (not that the camera angles are really great or anything but they worked heavily with principles of balance, which in this case added to this period drama greatly)

    reading some of the other recaps too, grreat work guys. And since this drama is long over…and most people may have moved on… and poor JaeShin may be sitting all alone in a poor little tree…now I can’t let him be that way right?? As a proud member of the Moony faction, imma just grab him and we shall live in those mountains together, haha.

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