Here we recap and discuss episodes 17 of The King 2 Hearts. Caution, spoilers below. Don’t read if you don’t want to know what happens.
I’m sure by now most of you have seen the finale for this series, but for those who are just following the recaps, sorry for the delay. SM Town last week and D3 have kept me from keeping up with the recaps for this, but I promise I’ll catch up soon. Anyway, on with the show!
Jae Ha has thrown in the towel now and tells Shi Kyung to contact Bong Gu so he can admit defeat. However, before he can do so, Dong Ha storms into the room and says that Club M will let him talk to Hang Ah. Back at his evil hideout, Bong Gu has her seated in front of the TV for the video chat with three guys off screen pointing guns at her head. He tells her to act pitiful and scared, which isn’t exactly Hang Ah’s strong suit given the whole you know, Special Forces training, and all.
At the palace, Shi Kyung tells Jae Ha to make sure he stays composed and to keep him on the line as long as possible so that they can trace the call. He turns on the screen and is relieved to hear from Hang Ah that both she and Mom are safe. He tells her not to do anything rash because he’s already made the decision that they should “live comfortably”. Hang Ah immediately breaks into tears and tells him that he made the right decision because she wants to live, which confuses the hell out of him at first. As Hang Ah plays the weeping maiden role, she mentions to him how she told him the type of man that she wants during the WOC. Jae Ha flashes back to that moment, and immediately realizes it’s an act on Hang Ah’s part. Bong Gu also realizes something’s up, and Hang Ah drops her facade once and for all. She tells Jae Ha that Bong Gu’s “where they sent their present” and that she knows that they’re only bluffing about trying to kill her. Right before Bong Gu disconnects the call, Hang Ah tells Jae Ha that if he gives up the throne, she’ll kill herself.
After the call, Bong Gu demands to know what exactly she told him. Hang Ah nonchalantly flips her hair and asks him if he remembers the flash drive they sent him. She calmly tells him that she knows that Bong Gu won’t do anything rash to them since the US and China are watching them closely. Kidnapping is one thing, but neither country will likely just sit by and let him get away with killing them. Which, uh, is odd considering they did just that with Jae Kang and his wife. Maybe it’s a 2 royal limit for the year. Bong Gu admits that she’s right about the killing thing, but he can still hurt her in ways that won’t be so visibly seen. When the body guards move to take Hang Ah back to her room, Hang Ah takes out both of them and steals one of their sunglasses. She snaps off a piece of it and points it right at her jugular, demanding that she’ll kill herself if she doesn’t get to be with Mom.
Bong Gu does give in to this little demand and Hang Ah is reunited with Mom. Once Mom sees the condition that Hang Ah’s in, she tells Hang Ah that they should do like she said and try to escape. Back at the palace, Jae Ha is going over surveillance photos and data on Bong Gu’s villa with Shi Kyung and Hang Ah’s dad. He’s told of how Bong Gu copied the “Phantom of the Opera” setup and built hidden tunnels under the complex. Jae Ha then gets a call and is told that the Chinese government refuses to help them or allow their troops on the ground since there’s no proof that Hang Ah is there. Her dad suggests asking the North Korean government to appeal to China since they’re on better terms, but Jae Ha knows that they won’t risk that relationship for them. Instead, they’re going to send in a surgical strike team of five members to go in under tourist visas. It’s the WOC all over again, except of course for real this time.
Now that Mom’s determined to escape, Hang Ah comes up with a plan. They lure in the guards by dropping a vase on the floor and Hang Ah knocks one out with a kick and snacks the neck of another. As they escape, Hang Ah takes out two more guards with a gun she took from them, but is shot in the arm. They make their way through the underground tunnels, which Hang Ah just happens to know the layout to for some reason. Mia realizes that they’ve gone that way as well and sends the guards down to look for them. Outside the villa, Dong Ha, Young Bae, and the rest of the strike team are observing the guards and overhear that Hang Ah and Mom have escaped.
Speaking of our escapees, they’ve made it outside of the complex and find themselves in front of what is pretty much a shallow pond that can’t be more than, let’s be generous and say 50 yards across. Hang Ah makes a big fuss about Mom not being able to cross it but opts to just stand there watching her “struggle” swimming across it rather than, I don’t know, helping her? At any rate, precious time is wasted and they hear the guards and search dogs coming behind them. Meanwhile, Young Bae and the other strike team members have engaged the guards to allow Dong Ha to sneak up and search for Hang Ah and Mom.
The two of them hear Dong Ha yelling for them and Hang Ah urges Mom to run ahead while she, for some reason, decides she needs to drag them away even though they have a pretty sizeable head start. By the time, Mia and the dogs show up outside of the cave, Mom is nowhere to be seen, but Hang Ah is there wasting bullets as a distraction. Dong Ha manages to find Mom, but Hang Ah is not so fortunate. As she’s climbing up a hill, she slips and tumbles down, but is completely covered by leaves so she can’t be seen. That wound is so getting infected.
After Mom’s been successfully extracted, Jae Ha visits her in her room and apologizes for what she’s gone through. Mom, however, is more concerned about Hang Ah. Jae Ha tells her that he’s sure she’s safe somewhere and that he won’t rest until he finds her. Meanwhile, Bong Gu’s minion tells him that they’ve escaped and show the gun that Hang Ah had as proof of it. Guess those are just guard dogs and not tracking ones if they lost her scent.
We now cut back to the palace and see Jae Ha pleading the Prime Minister to ask China for help finding Hang Ah. When the Prime Minister mutters something about diplomatic relations, Jae Ha grabs him by the collar and tells him to start actually working instead of just stealing money from the citizens. He threatens to reveal all of the dirty secrets, and the Prime Minister agrees to try his best. Of course, Bong Gu has had the same idea and is already calling the Chinese government. They mobilize their troops and go around asking if anyone’s seen Hang Ah, saying that she’s a North Korean defector. One of the North Korean spies reports this back to headquarters, and Hang Ah’s dad passes the information along to Jae Ha.
Later, Jae Ha is talking to Shi Kyung alone and asks him if he thinks that they can prosecute Bong Gu in the ICC (International Criminal Court). However, both know that this would be an uphill battle if they try to do it now without much evidence. Which is true. They have Mom’s testimony, but most of the other stuff is circumstantial enough that Bong Gu’s high-priced lawyers and bribes can throw them out easily. Shi Kyung suggests calling his dad for help, but Jae Ha doesn’t want to yet. This frustrates Shi Kyung to no end, especially since Jae Ha still refuses to tell him what happened.
As he storms out of Jae Ha’s office, Shi Kyung thinks about his last conversation with his dad as well as what Bong Gu told him about blind trust. Using his super-secret investigation card, he goes to the Hall of Records and looks at his Dad’s resignation letter. Uh oh…this is not good. Shi Kyung’s eyes go wide after reading just the first line and he quickly stops for a moment to try to compose himself. Trembling, he starts reading it again and you can see the betrayal he feels in his whole body as he finds out about his dad’s transgressions.
At the same time, Jae Ha is busy signing documents when Secretary Eun gives him a call. He tells Jae Ha that he heard about Hang Ah and suggests that they prosecute Bong Gu in the ICC. He’ll even testify against him. Jae Ha, however, says he already thought of that, but without any hard proof, it’ll just be his word again Bong Gu’s. Realizing that his son was right about Jae Ha being smarter than he thinks, Secretary Eun says that Jae Ha’s assessment is probably right. During the call, Jae Ha discovers a record of Shi Kyung checking out his dad’s resignation letter and tells him that Shi Kyung found out and that he’ll look into where he is.
Of course, Shi Kyung has gone to confront his dad about the matter. Saying screw the umbrella, he rushes out in the rain and finds his dad about to step out for a walk. Props to the filming team by the way as you see Secretary Eun hidden in the shadows whereas Shi Kyung is out in the light. Shi Kyung holds out a copy of the resignation letter and asks his dad if it’s true. Secretary Eun tells him to come in first, but Shi Kyung refuses. He starts saying all the things that his dad taught him about being good and righteous, and you can see the image he had of his dad shatter as he yells at him to explain. However, Secretary Eun has nothing to say in his defense and tells his son that this is his true nature. Even though he told Shi Kyung not to be a shameful person, he should instead take a lesson from what happened to him and learn to recognize what is shame instead. Shi Kyung doesn’t want to hear the lecture, though, saying that he already knows what shame feels like because it’s what he feels right now. He then tells his dad that this is the last time they’re going to meet and thanks him for the memories. Damn, that moved even my cold and jaded heart.
Back at the palace, Jae Ha mobilizes the royal guards to find Shi Kyung. Jae Shin overhears him and thinks he found Hang Ah, but Jae Ha tells her that Shi Kyung found out Bong Gu and his dad. We cut back to Shin Kyung sitting in his car, feeling regret about how he said he wanted to punch Jae Ha and not going on vacation with his dad like he told him to. He then thinks about how Jae Ha needs proof against Bong Gu and has a plan.
Dong Ha bursts into Jae Ha’s room and tells him that they found Shi Kyung. As he’s walking through the airport, Shi Kyung is surprised to see his fellow royal guards suddenly run up and surround him. When he turns around, he sees that Jae Ha is marching purposefully towards him. They go to a room to talk and Shi Kyung tells Jae Ha that he planned to get captured by Bong Gu to be a double agent. He claims he’s not doing this because he feels guilty, but because he knows that Bong Gu’s shown an interest in him. Meanwhile, Jae Shin tells her therapist that she wants her memory back so she can use it as evidence against Bong Gu. All of them have suffered enough up to this point and she won’t let it happen anymore.
As Jae Ha and Shi Kyung are arguing about what to do, Dong Ha interrupts them again to tell them that Jae Shin’s going to undergo hypnotherapy have her memory retrieved. They immediately go back to the palace and meet with Mom, who tells them that the doctors don’t think Jae Shin’s ready for it yet. Shi Kyung is concerned for Jae Shin and begs Jae Ha to stop her. Jae Ha ignores him, marches into his sister’s room, and orders everyone out. Jae Shin tells her brother that she’s been thinking about this for a while and that she wants to be helpful. Seeing her resolve, Jae Ha sits down on her bed and asks if she wants Shi Kyung to come in and support her during this. However, Jae Shin doesn’t want him to come in because she doesn’t want him to see this side of her. Aww.
Now that it’s been decided, Jae Shin’s therapist gives her some final instructions before starting on Jae Shin’s command. She brings Jae Shin back to the moment when she first entered the pension where Jae Kang was staying and when she runs into Mia. Jae Shin starts to panic at this point, alarming both Jae Ha and the medical staff. They want to stop, but Jae Shin motions that she wants to keep going. We now see Mia talking to Bong Gu and handing the phone to Jae Shin. He tells her that one of his minions is holding something and to place some of it into the fireplace. A gunshot is too messy so they’re going to kill her brother peacefully instead.
As Jae Shin is dragged kicking and screaming to the fireplace, Bong Gu holds the phone next to his music player and we finally get the connection to “Ride of the Valkyries”. After they force Jae Shin to pick up a handful of the soot, Bong Gu explains to her that the Nazis played this song in their gas chambers during the Holocaust. They force Jae Shin’s hand into the fireplace and give her a choice: drop the ash in or get shot in the head. As this is going on, Jae Shin thinks back to happy memories with her brother and slowly opens her hands. Her eyes open again and she starts rambling about how she killed him.
Outside, Shi Kyung can hear her screaming in complete and utter grief and you can see how much it kills him that he can’t be there for her. It’s only after they sedate her that Jae Ha allows him to go up to the room to see her. He sees the restraints on her arms, as well as the bruises and cuts she gave herself. He gently places a hand on her wrist and silently tears up while watching her sleep. Shi Kyung then gently brushes her cheek and starts sobbing when he can’t hold back anymore.
Meanwhile, Jae Ha tells Mom all about what Bong Gu did to Jae Shin. They can no longer afford to ignore him and have to bring the fight to him. On behalf of the family and the nation, he has to confront Bong Gu or else he can’t go on living. If he doesn’t do this, he knows he won’t see Hang Ah ever again. Speaking of Hang Ah, we see her in China with her wound bandaged up and escaping notice from the guards.
Wow, this episode absolutely belonged to Jae Shin and Shi Kyung. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been as emotionally invested in characters as I have in this drama and my heart wrenched for the two of them.
Let’s talk about Shi Kyung’s moment first. When he confronts his dad, you can just see his world shatter around him. It’s like the moment when you tell a kid that there is no Santa. A fundamental belief that shaped his world is now a lie, and you can see the devastation it brings to him. I mentioned this before as well but I really liked the juxtaposition of Shi Kyung in the light and Secretary Eun in the shadows. Don’t think that he’s actually not going to see his dad anymore, but for someone like Shi Kyung to even utter that statement just shows how deeply he values his sense of justice. If you’re evil, you’re dead to him. If you’re good, he’s the best friend you’ll ever have.
As for Jae Shin, wow. I was a tad curious about them dragging out revealing her memory for as long as they did, but now I see why they did it. Everything makes sense now and it’s definitely been Bong Gu’s most dastardly act as a villain to date in my mind. This scenario never even crossed my mind too. By forcing Jae Shin to be the one to first drop the poisonous soot in her brother’s fireplace, it makes absolute sense as to why she locked that memory away. It’s like the ultimate insurance policy. Get her to “kill” her brother and use the guilt to keep her silent. Granted, they also tried to uh drive her off a cliff to keep her silent, but this way they don’t have to finish the job now. Even if she did reveal it, the damage is done and this isn’t something that she’d get over easily. I also really liked Shi Kyung’s moments with her after finding out. Though he won’t admit it, we as viewers know how much she really means to him and Jo Jung Suk does a remarkable job portraying the emotions involved in this.
I have a bad feeling about him volunteering as a spy though. I like Shi Kyung and all, but this is not a guy who’s going to be good at being a double agent. I worry about his ability to sell the fact that he’s going to betray Jae Ha, especially after stating his loyalty to him to Bong Gu himself. You can almost feel the conviction in his voice and his face when he rejects Bong Gu, so it’ll be interesting to see if Jae Ha will send out his knight to the enemy lines.
The one thing I hated about this episode was the idiotic escape. Like I said, rather than be all worried about Mom being able to swim across, why not uh swim with her to support and save time. What’s the use of wasting time just staying worried while watching her. Let’s be honest as well, there was no need for her to stay back and draw them off. Mom was nowhere in site by the time Mia and the guards showed up. They had a huge lead on them, certainly more than enough for both to escape. This is dramaland though and this drama certainly doesn’t like making things easy. Especially when it comes to Jae Ha and Hang Ah.