K-Drama Couch Recap: “Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung” Episode 2
Totally not intimidating for a period drama, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung looks forward to impress with its woman-empowering message and family love.
On its premiere episode, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung introduced its main characters. Aside from that, it laid the foundation of what aspect of Joseon culture would be set as the series’ core setting.
With a blend of veteran and young actors, interestingly the drama opted to limit the usual abundance of government official characters. Instead, the focus on its main cast – being the historians and princes were highlighted. Ironically, the conflict heads to the direction of an apparent silent dispute between family members. The King to the princes and Second State Councilor Min to his son.
Fully introducing Park Ki Woong’s character as Crown Prince Jin, his role as Prince Yi Rim’s brother would spin the heavy tones designed to add emotional layers to story. Assisting him is Officer Min (Lee Ji Hoon), who has upright governance insights remotely different from his cunning father.
Rookies Historian Goo Hae Ryung Recaps
Special Note: Episode count follows Netflix’ format. Korean broadcast follows 4-episode run weekly.
Prince Yi Rim gets imprisoned
Recognizing each other, Prince Yi Rim rants on her audacity to criticize Maehwa, but there she is pretending to be the novelist she despises. Hae Ryung retaliates by purposely drawing him to admit that he is Maehwa. Cutely pointing out his narcissism in visiting book stores as soon as his new book went out.
Shoving him away, she asks for him to stay in a nearby room for her to properly apologize later. However, he draws her attention to the waiting fans with whom she should say sorry to.
Obliging to Yi Rim’s lecture, Hae Ryung apologizes to the crowd, but not with her signature mischievous attitude. After getting the crowd’s full attention, she introduces Yi Rim as the real Maehwa.
Cornered, Prince Yi Rim is saved when the officers rounding up the banned books arrive causing chaos. To save herself from imminent jeopardy, she throws Yi Rim to the soldiers and escapes hurriedly.
Recounting the series of misfortunate events that happened because of the brazen lady he met, Yi Rim promises to get revenge. In the morning, the soldiers continue to seize the banned books at local book stores and even the civilians’ collections.
The banned books
The order did not escape Hae Ryung’s collection which infuriated her. Meanwhile, Yi Rim is held in question by the police chief. Quick to sense the situation, the police chief realizes Yi Rim might be from an elite family. Just as he was about to disclose his father’s social rank, eunuch Sambo appears to his rescue.
Officer Min (Lee Ji Hoon) diligently works on the order given by the King. Painfully watching the books seized from the citizens including hers being burned, Hae Ryung heads to the local office to question the lack of sensibility in executing such order.
Chancing upon Officer Min, she demands the reason why the books had to be banned and burned. He responds that it was the King’s order to destroy lowly literature smuggled from China. Hae Ryung bravely remarks a passage from the Great Learning on how the King’s visions should be aligned to the people. But sadly, that is not the case happening in the country. Her brother Jae Gyung and servant arrive to stop her from more King-defying remarks. At home, she gets castigated by Jae Gyung for mindlessly saying ill words about the King.
Reasoning how her intentions meant to create small acts that might ripple in creating change, she tells her brother how she would be able to gain money to buy the books again. However, she just can’t tolerate the abuse of power for people who cannot fight it.
Excusing herself to go somewhere, Hae Ryung stops on her tracks, when Jae Gyung mentioned that he found her a husband.
Prince Yi Rim is grounded
While writing the reported and unreported events on the banned books situation, Officer Min recounts how Hae Ryung’s words scream real corruption happening in the kingdom.
Summoned by the King, Prince Yi Rim greets his father. Unbeknownst to him, the police chief tipped Second State Councilor Min about Yi Rim’s quick jail visit. Learning his son’s identity as a romance novelist, he orders Yi Rim not to ever read and write books again. Trying to bargain with his father, the King just walked away as he speaks about how books has been his solace all his life.
At night, Yi Rim wakes up to a nightmare of his father killing him. Sambo comes to his aid and stands by his side as he bathes in the night scenery. Refusing to challenge his father’s order, he tells Sambo how not following his father would make their already disconnected relationship grow wider.
Jae Gyung meets SSC Min and talks about catching the author of The Story of Ho Dam. To catch the writer, he orders Jae Gyung to submit a petition.
The petition to have female historians
Objecting the petition to have female historian at his chamber, Second State Councilor Min uses an ideology followed by the country for the Crown Prince regent to relent.
Appealing to disregard the petition, other ministers cite how female historians recording of mundane palace events need not to be included for future reference. But SSC Min subtly attack the honor of the Royal Family by mentioning Neoksodang, the place where his dear brother lives a recluse existence.
Through the wise words left by his grandmother Queen Im, the Crown Prince draws a decision for the petition raised by SSC Min.
Prince Jin protects his brother
Prince Jin visits his brother who has been torturing his servants with bad music while learning a new hobby of playing an instrument. Bringing him to a quiet place to have a drink, Prince Yi Rim tells him that he can scold him since he has already done so much for consoling him.
However, Prince Jin calms his woes by telling how he has read his novel and enjoyed it immensely. That if they were brothers who live a middle-class life, he would have gone to the neighborhood expressing how proud he is that his brother is Maehwa. But, since they live a life bearing heavy responsibility, he can’t do it. Prince Jin’s soothing reminder put a salve on Prince Yi Rim’s heart.
Joking how he thinks Prince Yi Rim uses him as the inspiration of the hero from his newest novel, the younger prince stops his delusion by quipping he uses himself for that perfectly sketched character.
Finally making his decision about the female historian request, Prince Jin acquiesces. But, only if the female historians can pass the civil service exam with a topic that will be decided by him. Quick to refute Prince Jin’s order, the officials cite nothing in Joseon history allowed women to participate the state exam. But the smart prince argue against not having any Joseon Kings state that women cannot take the civil service exam. Also, nothing prohibits women to do so according to the Code of Law. Backing up his argument, he mentions how King Taejo establish the exam for well-educated and well-mannered people, and that he did not specify that women can’t do it.
Hae Ryung Takes The Historian Exam
The night before her wedding, Hae Ryung gifts her brother with a new robe. Jae Gyung tells her that he will always be there for her.
In the morning, the servants at Hae Ryung’s house are all busy on her wedding preparations. Breaking the festive mood of the wedding though, the groom apoligizes for not being able to accept the marriage. At the same moment, Hae Ryung rushes to leave their house and heads to where the exam for female historian is.
As she runs to the examination place, Prince Jin gets an idea from Prince Yi Rim not to consult classic books for the exam. Advising how female historians require skills in capturing the faults and weaknesses of the Royal Family, she should be impertinent and outspoken – qualities that exemplify Goo Hae Ryung.
Episode 2 Afterthoughts
For a period drama, I like how Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is so light to watch. Of course, as the series progresses, and so is the weight of its conflict. But so far, I like the treatment of incorporating dispute within Joseon seat of power that does not involve warring brothers intent to become the heir to the throne.
Internal conflict among the Royal Family members was introduced in passing on the second episode. But, we are yet to confirm if the King is the biological father of the princes, or whether they were just adopted in the process of him seizing the power as reflected in the flashback. But seeing how cold he is to Prince Yi Rim, and how he aids to problems to be solved by the Crown Prince, I hope he is really not their father.
I am loving the bromance between the two princes, if Officer Min joins them, that would be even more awesome. Heading to Hae Ryung’s journey of becoming a female historian, it is curious to know how her connection to Prince Yi Rim will prosper.
Some lingering lessons…
As a lady from a noble family who speaks her mind, Hae Ryung would most likely carry the takeaway lessons of the series. Just like how she brave the odds in pointing out the King’s unreasonable order; to which at that time would have earned her serious punishment.
For its opening week, there were three shining moments that I felt was beautifully drawn. The first one was Hae Ryung’s soju night with Jae Gyung where she expressed how a woman’s worth is not achieved through marriage. The second one was Prince Yi Rim’s wisdom to understand his situation with his father. And the last one was Prince Jin’s heartwarming words of support to his brother.
Narrated with ample bright and retrospective scenes, I hope the mood would stay engaging in the next chapters.
Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung airs on MBC every Wednesday and Thursday.
ABOUT THE WRITER
abbyinhallyuland reads and sleeps a lot when she is not traveling. Her calendar reminders are mostly K-Drama broadcast schedules and birthdays of her favorite Korean actors. Promoting K-Drama watching as stress therapy is her life advocacy. She is fond of Spencer Reid, Gregory House, Kenshin Himura, Starwars saga, Haruki Murakami and Hunter x Hunter.
Recommended Korean Dramas: Reply 1988, Nine, Misaeng, Gaksital, Discovery of Love, Because This is My First Life, Descendants of the Sun, My Love from the Star, Healer, Punch, You’re Beautiful,Coffee Prince, Princess Hours, The Greatest Love, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, City Hunter, and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.