We start with a brief review of Dong Soo beating Gwang Taek in the blindfolded fighting exercise and then parting with Gwang Taek on the road to town. Dong Soo heads over to the bandit hideout for a visit, but sees the government troops headed there as well.
Then we are back with Ji and Jin Ju as Chun throws Jin Ju out the back door, and then is stunned when Ji tells him that Jin Ju is his daughter.
Out in the courtyard, Un and Jin Ki are fighting. Un wins, his knife at Jin Ki’s throat. Chang has followed Chun towards the building, but a hidden Chun tells him that if he comes in, Chun will kill him. Chang follows some assassins in. They find Ji apparently alone, however this was merely a ruse to enable Chun to get behind Chang. Chun holds a knife to Chang’s throat and tells him that they’ll take this up again another day. At Ji’s urging, Chun leaves her there, escaping to find and help Jin Ju.
The assassins have Ji tied up, and Un has a knife to Jin Ki’s neck. Dae Un urges Un to kill Jin Ki, but Ji tells him to stop. As Un once again starts to strike, Dong Soo shows up and tells Un to stop. He tells Un to put his sword up, and Chang puts his sword to Dong Soo’s neck.
Dong Soo repeats to Un that a sword moves with the heart, not the hand, and in one move flips Chang’s sword away from his neck. Chang tells him that he is skilled, but young. He puts his sword up, and leads the assassins off. Un tells Dong Soo that he has improved, and Dong Soo tells him that he’ll hear that he’s Joseon’s best swordsman…Baek Dong Soo. (snicker, it never fails to amuse me the way they work that in.) Un puts his sword up, and Dae Ung, who has nervously been urging him to kill Jin Ki asks him what he’s doing. Un points out that their reason for coming was to kill Chun, there is no reason for killing anyone else. He bows to Ji, and leaves.
The government troops also leave, their commander following his orders not to get too involved. Finally, Dae Ung, the little rat, leaves, and Dong Soo rushes to help Jin Ki and Ji.
Dong Soo takes a look at Ji’s wound and determines that it was a poisoned arrow. He gives them a vial of medicine that will help, and asks where Jin Ju is. Ji tells him that they sent Jin Ju on an errand before this all happened, not to worry about her. Jin Ki says that now that everyone knows where the hideout is, they have to move.
The other bandits rush in and ask what happened, Jin Ki tells them to go into hiding.
Meanwhile, Chun takes care of Jin Ju’s ankle as she sleeps. Then just watches her sleep. He then treats his own arrow wound by lancing it with a flaming log. (yikes!)
Dong Soo helps Ji and Jin Ki towards Sa Mo’s. Jin Ki insists that Ji take the medicine, which he figures she’s saving for Chun.
Elsewhere, a report of a military ship sinking arrives. Wreckage is reported to be coming ashore. And there on the beach is the wreckage and some survivors, including Lord Hong’s underling. The royal forces arrive to find out what happened, but Hong1 spots them and runs away. The commander opens some of the wreckage and finds ginseng.
Dong Soo, Ji and Jin Ki arrive at Sa Mo’s and Ji collapses. Jin Ki fills them in on what happened. Sa Mo asks what happened to Jin Ju, and Jin Ki tells them that she was sent away on an errand before the attack. When he’s alone with Ji, Jin Ki offers to go look for Jin Ju. Ji tells him that it’s not necessary because if she lived, she will be with Chun, and if she died, she is already dust.
Dong Soo makes his greetings to Sa Mo, who is amazed to hear Dong Soo acting properly and politely. Sa Mo asks if Dong Soo really learned well, and so they go out into the courtyard to spar. Dong Soo easily disarms Sa Mo.
Sa Mo explains that Ji Sun has been processing ginseng, and tells Dong Soo that she’s at the market but should be back soon. He starts looking at the ginseng, when Ji Sun arrives. She doesn’t recognize him from the back, and so picks up a bow and arrow and then threatens him. When he stands, and she does recognize him. She releases the arrow, and he catches it as it sails past him.
She shows him around their storehouse (I do have to admit that, as someone said, it does look like a Pier 1 Imports). He is impressed by it all.
Chun, looking like something the cat dragged in, goes to the market to get some food and medicines. He also stops at a merchant with pretty things, and asks the merchant to pick out something for a young lady.
Jin Ju awakens and is rather disoriented. She draws a sword on Chun when he comes in with breakfast. He tells her to eat, he’ll be outside. She demands to know why he is there, and he tells her it’s too dangerous outside, so she should wait a day or so. When she tries to get up, she can’t, and he points out she can’t really go anywhere like that. She thanks him, but says she has to go to her father. He asks if this was how Jin Ki taught her, and she wants to know if he’s insulting her father, because that’s the one thing she can’t stand. He smiles at that and says that her mother said to take care of her, and that’s what he’ll do.
She insists that her mother wouldn’t have told him that, and he says that if she stays here and recovers her mother will come for her.
Gwang Taek and Dong Soo arrive at the palace, where Dong Soo is attacked by 3 masked men in one of the courtyards. They spar until the Prince arrives and tells them to stop. It’s the mountain boys!
The Prince takes them to the King and offers to serve them a meal. They go to the kitchens and collect a tea service, and go see the King. Dong Soo wonders why the court lady who served the tea is acting a little odd, but lets it go.
The Prince serves the tea, and the King asks Gwang Taek how his quiet life has been going. Gwang Taek recommends his disciple, Dong Soo, to an official position. Just then, the Queen collapses. The King calls for the physician, and the boys all run in to see what they can do.
Dong Soo takes a look in and sees the unconscious Queen. He rushes over to take her pulse, breaking a whole bunch of palace rules in the process. Dong Soo apologizes, and Gwang Taek explains that this is the disciple he was speaking of.
Dong Soo apologizes again and says that the Queen will be dead by the time the physician arrives. The King starts yelling again, but Dong Soo asks if the King can delay punishing him until after the Queen gets treated, and begs to be allowed to treat her first. The King agrees, and a few acupressure points later, she has barfed and is breathing better.
The physician shows up and determines that the queen should recover, but it was lucky that treatment was done immediately. Gwang Taek tells the King that he didn’t teach Dong Soo medicine, he had learned it on his own.
Since Dong Soo saved the Queen, the King gives him a pass on breaking the palace rules. Now, what caused it? The doctor says he doesn’t know. However, just then, the Queen’s father, Lord Kim, comes in, and he suspects the tea was poisoned! That would be the tea served by the Prince. Oops.
When he insists on an investigation into the tea, Dong Soo speaks up to say that the tea wasn’t poisoned. When pressed to explain how he can claim that, Dong Soo chugs down the rest of the tea. There you are! Not poisoned.
Jin Ju starts to leave the huts, still steaming about wanting to see how her father is, when she sees that Chun has collapsed. She remembers that he was hit with an arrow, but on the other hand, she knows he’s a killer. She also finds the little ornament he had bought for her. In the end, she just can’t leave him there, so now it’s her turn to nurse Chun back to health.
Lord Hong gets the report from Lord Kim that the Queen is unconscious, and his underling asks if this isn’t a good time to take out the Prince. Hong berates him. Then he hears that Gwang Taek returned with a disciple. When he hears that the disciple is Dong Soo, Lord Hong agrees to keep a close eye on them.
When the Lord Kim leaves, Hong draws his sword on his underling. It seems that the ginseng for the palace comes from the Hongs, and about half of it is false ginseng (also known as Siberian ginseng). The underling begs for mercy. The underling is told to go to the kitchens and destroy all the false ginseng. They scuttle off as Lord Hong mutters nasty threats towards Gwang Taek and Dong Soo.
The nobles assembled before the King insist that the collapse of the Queen is clearly a terrible affront and some sort of plot and must be investigated. Lord Hong insists that anyone associated with the tea should be interrogated. The King asks if he means to interrogate the Prince. When Lord Hong starts to go on, the King tells him to shut up, it wasn’t the tea, they’ve shown that already. He asks Lord Kim, who agrees that’s right.
However, granted that there was no poison, they insist that the kitchens must be at fault and should be investigated! As they leave, Lord Kim stops Lord Hong to remind him that since all the ginseng for the palace comes from Lord Hong, he will not forgive any problems with the ginseng.
The underling reports that they got to the kitchens and cleared out the false ginseng in time. They’ve also grabbed the maid that brewed the tea and have her gagged. He sends off the guards, and asks her what happened with the tea. She says that only real ginseng was used, and she doesn’t know what the heck happened.
He tells her that as long as she’s quiet then there is no problem. Well, no problem for him, because the way to keep her quiet is to kill her, and he sics the creepy bodyguard on her. But then he wonders if she may not have cleaned up enough, and asks if the leavings were thrown away. She can’t remember, so she’s cut loose to go to the kitchen and make sure everything is cleaned up.
Jin Ju tries to get Chun to eat, and ends up talking with him. She tells him she’s paying him back double for the kindness he showed her. He thanks her and she gets up the nerve to ask him what his relationship is to her mother. He tells her that her mother is in his heart. She asks why he’s smiling at her, and he tells her that she’s pretty. She sighs as she remembers Jin Ki telling her that as well.
Lord Hong calls for Dae Ung, but Un goes instead. Lord Hong tells Un that some of the ginseng in the palace was false ginseng. It turns out this is a problem for the Assassins as well, because they helped bring it in. Even though Hong tries to put some of the onus on the Assassins, Un doesn’t see how he can do anything about it. Hong orders him to kill anyone who has anything to do with false ginseng.
Dae Ung gets a list of all the merchants who have dealt in false ginseng. He rips out a page of the list and hands it to Un for him to take care of. They hunt down and kill one fellow. Un suddenly realizes that Ji Sun may have dealt in false ginseng and he asks if her name was on the list. It turns out that she had bought a small amount, and her name is on Dae Ung’s side of the list.
As Jang Mi, Ji Sun and Mi So stroll down the street, they are followed by Dae Ung, who remarks that fate has brought her back around. Dae Ung corners them in an outbuilding. Ji Sun tries to bargain to let Jang Mi and Mi So free, if it’s only her that they wantm but they refuse to go. As Dae Ung starts to strike, a blade is held to his throat.
Sa Mo comes running out into the courtyard to find Dae Ung there, and a masked figure behind him. Sa Mo tells them he doesn’t know what’s going on, but go ahead and kill Dae Ung, he deserves it. Dae Ung starts sniveling, and Sa Mo offers to kill him instead. Un (who of course is our masked man) knocks Dae Ung down, and leaves him there. The assassins who Un had earlier disarmed momentarily join in, and then as Dae Ung raises his hand, he can’t move it – there is an acupuncture needle in it. The other assassins run off, leaving Dae Ung there, as Dong Soo and Gwang Taek come in. Turns out that this time it was Dong Soo who had thrown the needle. He pulls another out of his sleeve and uses it on Dae Ung’s neck.
As Dae Ung recovers, he is surrounded by the assembled crew. Sa Mo again offers to kill him. Dong Soo says to just let him go, he can’t do anything now. When Dae Ung can barely move, Dong Soo explains that he left the needle buried in Dae Ung, and that from now on, he’ll hardly be able to hold a spoon, let alone a knife. Un watches from over the fence.
Sa Mo asks how Dong Soo knew the tea wasn’t poisoned. While he says that the Prince wasn’t likely to have poisoned them, it turns out he also tested it to see. Cho Rip shows up for a visit, and is glad to see Dong Soo. While everyone else is outside, Ji stays in, still worried about Jin Ju but not wanting to let on. The Prince and the mountain boys also show up. Cho Rip has a bit of an explanation to pass on about the ginseng. He went to the storerooms to investigate the ginseng and was shown what was there. He took one jar as an example. When he went back to ask a question, he startled the maid, who dropped this other jar. Ji Sun examines the two jars.
Meanwhile, Hong1 makes his way back home, followed by Un. Alas! It appears that the military ship had not only been used for smuggling, but was smuggling the false ginseng. Now that supply is in the hands of the guards who were at the wreckage. The Hongs are in deep trouble if this gets discovered, it will be treason and 3 generations of the family will be wiped out. (oh, the irony)
Over at Sa Mo’s, Ji Sun says that one jar is false ginseng and one is the real thing of a particular variety the Prince likes. However, she points out that even the false ginseng isn’t poisonous, it shouldn’t have harmed the Queen even if it was what was in the tea. The Prince says that the Norons will be trying to pin blame on him no matter what, since he’s the one who served it. So the truth must be found!
Dong Soo volunteers to investigate. The Prince agrees and invests him with a low level soldier’s title that will give him the access that he needs. Dong Soo accepts the position and the sword that goes with it….and with that we end episode 17!
For those who are already sick of the ginseng wars, yeah, it’s not the most fascinating of conflicts, but it was a big thing back in the day, and it’s actually kind of a big thing still. Where I live, ginseng is called “sang” and is both cultivated and hunted in the wild. You still have to get a license from the state to hunt it, and you can only sell to a licensed dealer. Ginseng poachers are some of the scarier people to run into in the forest.
Of course, the earth needs to open up and swallow Dae Ung. I couldn’t be more tired of him. He’s had last chances from every single one of those guys, and no one has bothered to finish him yet. Just kill him already and spare us all his stupid screeching.
I have to admit, this wasn’t one of my favorite episodes. There was way too much set up, and sitting around tables talking. But this episode gave me the lovely scenes where Chun and Jin Ju take care of each other, so I’m okay with it.