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Title of the show: Empress Ki (2013)
Episode: 1
Watched: January 13th, 2014

January 14th, 2014 

Salutations, ladies and gents,
How-do-you-all-do? As usual, I send you my hopes for your health and mental stability. School has only JUST started, guys, we should be stronger than this since we’ve already got a taste of what it’d be like in Fall!

By ‘request’ of my friend Mewtwo, I’ve decided to plunge myself into this Korean drama called Empress Ki. She told me a little bit about it and it got me interested.

Two clarifications you must know before reading : 

As a child, I used to watch a lot of dramas – mostly Vietnamese Dramas with my parents – but as almost each episode lasts around 1 hour, I found less and less time to watch. Also, I wasn’t as much into ‘watching’ [anime, TV shows, the news, dramas, etc.] as I was into ‘reading’ [comics, books, novels, webcomics, mangas, etc.]

So, you know how much of an addicted person I am at shipping. There’s a lot of stories where I ship characters and I continue series often just for the shipping. Because-I-can’t-get-a-love-life-I’d-like-my-favourite-characters-to-have-one. And, often, in Dramas, one can do little else than ship. So, readers, please know that it is very normal that, after the first episode, I had already started to ship a pairing in particular.

Background of History from what I understand: 

Salt is “contraband/illegal” in the country of Goryeo but the Yuan [who is a group of people who descend from people from Mongol and who occupy China and other Asian countries that we know, from what I understand, they’re very fierce and very powerful] buy it from illegal sellers.

The Yuan ruled the empire, which is comprised of [or at least is bigger than] several kingdoms, from what I understand anyway. Thus, the title of Emperor and Empress are much more impressive than titles of Kings and Queens. The next heir to the throne is called a Crown Prince [but from other drama or even TV shows I’ve watched, I think I knew that…].

As the emperor couldn’t be everywhere in his empire, he had a Censorate, a group of people (I haven’t the slightest idea if this is accurate) who are his ears and his eyes and report anything plot or coup related to him.

Goryeo is a kingdom [which later becomes Korea, do you see the phonetic similarities? Mewtwo pointed this out to me] which is highly influenced by the Yuan dynasty if it wasn’t indirectly ruled by them. As I understand it, the Goryeo and the Shenyang kingdoms are inside the Yuan empire? Like I said, this is how it feels like when I watch the drama and when I sometimes skim through the Wikipedia articles. I’m not sure-sure! 

The “original” Empress Ki [or Empress Gi] is a Yuan Empress who came from the kingdom of Goryeo, i.e. she married this guy, Toghon Temür, and became an empress. From the Wikipedia articles I find about her, there’s really not much about her other than her persistence with putting her son on the throne and her disappearance soon after becoming Empress Dowager. She was the last Empress of the Yuan Dynasty before it fell to the Ming Dynasty.

Fun-Wikipedia-fact-which-means-you-can’t-blame-me-if-it-turns-out-to-be-false-information-blame-Wikipedia-but-Don’t-because-Wikipedia-is-my-best-friend: It is said that the Emperor Toghon Temür was the last Yuan emperor of Khanbaliq, which ends up to be our modern Beijing! This might actually be because he was also the last Yuan emperor at all, since after that dynasty, it was the Ming dynasty.

This series will have 50 episodes and we’re only at episode 21 as I write this post. And below are my thoughts/predictions/clarifications/understanding (this means: this is what I understood of the drama so far) as to what happens in the first episode.

Recapituations [with comments in pink]: 

Wang Ko is already King of Shenyang. He means to rule over Goryeo at the same time by dealing with the Yuan by selling salt. He’s also responsible for the concubine being sold to the Yuan. He’s got some kind of good side in him, it seems to me, if he was able to take in Sungnyang, even though it was, ultimately, an investment from his part. Wang Ko believes himself so powerful he doesn’t fear Goryeo’s threats. Like I said, he means to rule over that kingdom and knows that the Crown Prince, Wang Yu, is, as he says, ‘worthless’. He bribes the Yuan castle with gifts in order to gain more favors in order to gain what he wants; the Goryeo kingdom.
[Is this the guy, at the beginning, who told Crown Prince of Goryeo, Wang Yu, to go and die in Yuan? Or was it Wang Yu’s father? I’m still having a very hard time with faces and names even after rewatching twice]

Sungnyang still holds a really big grudge against anyone who’s rich, which is why she didn’t take to Prince Wang Yu at the beginning, even when he was teaching her the musical instrument. I suspect it is also why, while drunk, she threatened to kill him.
When she discovers that King Wang Ko, whom she, at first, learned to like, was responsible for the concubines being brought to the Yuan and other horrible things, I bet she decided to get revenge. The first part of her plan was to gain King Wang Ko‘s trust [she works for him and reminds him often that she’s at his service (I doubt he knows she’s a woman, even], and then, the first opportunity she got, her goal was to warn the Censorate [probably the censorate of Goryeo, not of the Yuan] about the salt deal. She warned Crown Prince Wang Yu (whether she knows he’s a prince or she thinks he’s just a rich boy, she hasn’t shown yet, I think).
[I naturally like stories a la Mulan, and I love the fact that she’s practiced and a force to reckon with, armed with her Split Arrow technique]

Wang Yu is the Crown Prince of the Goryeo. He tried to free the concubines who were being brought to the Yuan as a young boy [Sungnyang and her mother were among these], and something has happened in his past to make him care less about his people [maybe the fact that no one likes him as a Crown Prince, not even his father/dude-who-insults-him-at-the-burial-site-of-the-ladies-who-were-murdered] and cares more about fights (or so I thought, until I discovered that he was working towards exposing Wang Ko for his crime in salt trafficking).
[Reasons why I ship this:] Wang Yu likes Sungnyang’s spirit and thinks it is wasted in the streets, so he proposes for Sungnyang to stay with him as a ‘little brother’. Then, when Wang Yu asked Sungnyang if he’d like to teach him the split arrow until he mastered it, I’m guessing it’s because he doesn’t mind spending 3 years in Sungnyang’s company!! He even rolled over when they were being attacked to protect his ‘little brother’, hahaha.
I found him pretty dumb, not to have noticed that she’s a girl yet, when all the signs, he has pointed out: She’s pretty shy even though she’s a guy, she slapped him for ripping his pants, she has no leg hair, she has smooth hands for an archer… does he need to see her boobs to finally get it?  Nevertheless, I find him pretty gutsy and smart, not telling his people that he’s actually the Crown Prince, and telling them that he’s just a Lord who’s in the Censorate? That’s smart. And telling Sungnyang that he knows the prince? Hahaha, classic. It reminds me highly of Cinderella Monogatari (which I love).

The Crown Prince Wang Yu didn’t go to Haewol because he knew that it was fake information (also there were men from Wang Ko waiting to ambush him; because his Informant [whom I strongly suspect is Sungnyang] told him). Instead, the prince stayed put and (somehow, because I don’t know how he found out about the true location, did the informant tell him? Will this be discussed? It’s rather convenient…) found the real place where there would be salt trafficking and told his men to attack the traffickers after the latter were shot at.

Things to see in the next episodes: 

The Joker is the spy who works for Wang Ko and who’s infiltrated the Crown Prince Wang Yu‘s men. Minutes before the arrow was shot, he was shown to have gotten up and disappeared. When the Prince ordered the ambush, the Joker was nowhere to be seen, neither was he appearing when Wang Yu looked at his men and asked who shot the arrow. The last scene shows someone picking up the black bandana that covers her forehead with a bandaged hand. It’s the Joker’s hand from when she shot an arrow at him!

Since, in the prologue-future-marriage introduction, we see Sungnyang with the two rings, I’m guessing that her father (whom we see only very briefly after the whole Concubines-escape-fiasco), dies sometime in the future episodes [because we didn’t see her father during the wedding-bit, did we?].
She has met him and she has retrieved the ring with his blessing, OR she has never even met him but somehow has gotten her hands on the second matching ring.
[Personally, I think that if she doesn’t get to meet her father at all in the end, it’d be pretty un-cliche. I mean, Goryeo is super huge, right? It’s normal that she can’t find her father after all these years…]

When Sungyang met the Crown Prince Wang Yu for the first time, when he challenged her to a duel in the middle of the street, she widened her eyes.
At first, I thought she was surprised that he was pretty handsome or maybe she recognized him as the prince who saved her as a kid. But then I realized, by the second time I watched the episode, that actually, she was noticing the red bandana. This strengthened my belief that Sungnyang/Nyang is the secret informant of the salt trading illegal King Wang Ko.
My other reasons include:
1) She was always busy, so she could never present herself as such to the prince [so she had to send ARROWS with messages on them]. Also she couldn’t get caught by King Wang Ko, betraying him right in his face!!
2) She HAS the blue bandana that the prince traded, as seen when the black bandana slips off her forehead at the end of the episode.

Since we’ve seen his Future-self, I expect to see the Emperor at least in the next episode!

Questions: 

Will anyone discover that she’s been a girl all this time?
Does anyone even know? It’s pretty hard to keep such a secret.
What about those monthly gifts mother Nature bestows to ladies? How’d she discover how to deal with it if she was raised as a man? There MUST have been some woman figure who knows and who helped her out… Unless her mother had already told her…

Other highlights: 

Thoughts at the end of the episode: AND WANG YU IS ACTUALLY THE KING WHOM SHE ENDS UP NOT MARRYING?! I’M SO SADDDDD!!! I WAS ALREADY STARTING TO SHIP THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I listened to the episode twice without the subtitles on and while I was doing a reading for school, and I realized they said “Sungnyang” a lot. This led to this realization:
When she chose the name Sungnyang for herself, she probably thought back to when her mother said that the world was cruel to women, once again, and she decided to impersonate a boy fully. Sungnyang means “Jackal” and her nickname on the STREET is The JACKAL! (I just think it’s pretty smart and wanted to point that out).

I absolutely love the song that plays whenever there’s something dramatic going on. It’s beautiful. I love it! [for example as the Emperor-What’s-His-Name-I-haven’t-Seen-Him-Enough-To-Remember and King Wang Yu talk at the beginning, or when she’s shot and he’s carrying her, that song brings me tears]

A Wild Cyndaquil appears!

Since we’re talking about historical things, this really much reminds me of the Three Kingdoms comic that a good high school friend of mine, Cyndaquil, told me about – that hasn’t updated since 2011, but I’m still patiently waiting for updates [although, I’ll be honest, I hadn’t thought about that comic in years, until now].
Perhaps I should do a real Webcomic post about this comic instead of just inserting that there… I’ll see if I remember, hahaha.

All right, guys! I shall get leaving now,
See you next time!!

¯\(º_o)/¯  Ponyout!  ¯\(º_o)/¯

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