Love Song For Illusion – K-drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Other One and the Last One

Episode 1 of Love Song for Illusion starts with a young boy, Sajo Hyun, sitting in his room happily painting hanbok designs. Suddenly, his father barges in, and it is clear from his reaction to Sajo Hyun’s drawings that he is not ready to have his only son showing no interest in the politics of war but only interested in drawing people without heads.

Sajo Hyun tries to explain to his father that his paintings are not just drawings, but the father does not hear any of them, and Sajo Hyun undergoes a bloody beating. 

Elsewhere, another young girl almost the same age as Sajo Hyun is playing happily with her friends, but her servant is not happy about it. Just as he tries to drag her back to her studies, the village exclaims joyfully, welcoming General Yeon Poong-hak and his wife from war.

The two are the young girl Yeon Wol’s parents, and she runs ahead of everyone to welcome them. Wol tells her parents that she has been busy learning martial arts. While her mother seems unhappy with neglecting her studies, she soon lets it go when her husband praises Wol and gifts her his precious dagger to symbolise that she is becoming a brave general. 

Later that night, Sajo Seung drags his son from the dark room where he had left him tied up and says he is taking him to become a man. Seung intends to teach his son a lesson by making him witness the slaughter of the last surviving family in his coup to become King, the royal family of Yeon Poon-hak. Wol survives through her mother’s sacrifice and Sajo Hyun’s help. 

After the slaughter, Sajo Seung locks up his son in a room as he celebrates his ascension to become the King of the Asatae Kingdom. Sajo Hyun is restless as the images of the event keep flashing through his mind. Suddenly, a cloud of black smoke appears in the room and heads towards Sajo, who becomes even more terrified of the mysterious smoke. 

Fast-forward 10 years later, a woman disguises herself as a dancer to secretly investigate the case of human trafficking in the kingdom. King Sajo Seung has given a royal decree for the capture of young beautiful girls and boys to be taken to the palace for his pleasure.

The woman, Gye-ra, has to fight through several guards when the Inn owner she is questioning calls for help. Although Gye-ra has impressive fighting skills, she is almost subdued, but someone comes to her rescue, and they successfully escape.

Since the King’s takeover, the country has been plagued with poverty and civil unrest as the rich men who supported Sajo Seung become more prosperous. At the same time, the poor continue to suffer with neither food, shelter, nor clothing. 

Later, Gye-ra wants to see the famous seamstress, but her assistant is not letting her through, so she decides to enter through the roof. Her plan does not go as she intends, and she falls through the roof into the arms of the designer. The designer is a man, and Gye-ra understands his plight better than anyone else, even though they have just met.

She talks about his family being against his work as a designer, which is why he disguises himself and does not meet with the customers. In addition, she guesses right that the person against his choice of profession must be his father, and she offers encouragement so he can stand up for him.

Gye-ra thinks that everyone should enjoy what they want to do, and others should not tell them that they should not. Coincidentally, the tailor also deduces that Gye-ra is an assassin disguised as a dancer. Gye-ra’s friend, Ha Rang, comes to pick her up, and she asks the tailor to repair her dress using the design model she gives him. 

The designer arrives home, and we learn that he is the grown-up Crown Prince of Asatae, Sajo Hyun, when Eunuch Neung rushes towards him, asking his bodyguard, Ji Jin-seo, why he brought him back late. Eunuch Neung tells Sajo Hyun that everyone awaits him inside his pavilion. By everyone, he means Sajo Hyun’s father, Sajo Seung, Consort Cheong Myeong, Geum-hwa, and Sajo Yoong. They discuss something about Sajo Hyun becoming bold and manly one day and half-witted a day later because of his madness. K

ing Sajo becomes angry to hear his son proudly talking about his madness and expresses his disappointment that his concubine’s son is better than the crown prince. Sajo Hyun remembers Gye-ra’s words about standing up to his father, but he dares not to, and soon after, he leaves for the assembly. Later, we learn that Geum-hwa is Sajo Hyun’s wife. 

The following morning is the day of the hunt, which only introduces us to Sajo Hyun’s second personality, Ak-hee. Neung mentions that the dual personality is awakened after the other falls asleep.

Ak-hee is the complete opposite of Sajo Hyun, the seamstress. He is skilled in archery and horse riding and is full of vigour and vibrancy. During the hunt, he overshadows the concubine’s son, Sajo Yoong, and his mother points out that Sajo Hyun’s madness is becoming more berserk. 

Ak-hee leaves after the hunt, goes to a fight ring, and coincidentally meets Gye-ra disguised as a man. She is doing well until he enters, and she decides to forfeit the match. Ak-hee follows her, and to his surprise, she knows who he is, at least not his version of him but Sajo-hyun.

Ak-hee realises that he did not look into Sajo Hyun’s memory but wants to know which version the woman prefers. Gye-ra tells him that he seems fake and that she likes the tailor since he has some aura around him, especially when he works. Ak-hee is surprised that someone prefers Sajo Hyun over him. 

Ak-hee secretly follows Gye-ra after their encounter and is impressed to see her work to help the people. She disguises herself as a dancer for a rich man’s party and steals the keys to his store. Her team works to steal food from the rich and give it back to the poor. Ak-hee likes Gye-ra, but she still thinks he is a fake, and later, she ponders why he looks so much like the person in the drapery yet so different. 

Later that night, Sajo Yoong meets up with Gye-ra, and we learn that Sajo Yoong is sponsoring a revolution and Gye-ra is part of the plan. Sajo Yoong keeps the truth about his real identity from Gye-ra, and she only knows him as Sir.

When she asks about it, he says he will tell her about herself once they succeed in the revolution. The rebels meet up to discuss their next plan involving King Sajo.

Surprisingly, Gye-ra is Yeon Wol, the only surviving Asatae’s royal family member. After the meeting, she steps away from the group, and in a flashback, we learn that she survived the fire and her only motivation to live is getting revenge for her parent’s death. It is finally time to achieve her goal and return Asatae’s throne to its rightful state. 

The plan will take place during the King’s birthday party. The strategy depends on the King choosing Gye-ra/Yeon Wol to accompany him after the party, and she will kill him once they are alone. However, the King does not choose her, and she still ends up in the bath. She is waiting for Sajo Seung to enter, but the person who comes in is Ak-hee, and he is the last person she sees before she passes out.

Wol wakes and learns from Hong Goon that she is in her Highness Consort Hyo’s bedchambers. Hong Goon calls her “Your Highness” when she tries to move and says she has been asleep for four days. It turns out that Wol is now Her Highness Consort Hyo, the Crown Prince’s concubine, and she seems to have lost all her memories. 

When the Crown Prince arrives, the events during the birthday party are shown in flashes. The Crown Prince, whose personality is still Ak-hee, tells his father that he wants the woman he chose that night, and his father obliges. He sees Wol and the other dancer changing places, drugs Wol, and carries her to his house to make her his concubine.

Ak-hee intends to make her his woman and make her see he is not a fake. He wants her to like him, not his other half-wit personality, Sajo Hyun. The episode ends as Ak-hee hugs Wol, who is wondering who he is. 

The Episode Review

The episode is thrilling from the get-go, with incredible martial arts fighting scenes and mesmerising dance sequences. Although it introduces the main characters and their backgrounds coherently, it does not give much to help us understand the plot.

So much is happening with so many intertwined subplots, making it hard to grasp what the series is all about. However, the suspense and the bits of confusion stimulate interest in the drama. 

The epitome of the episode is the dual personality and the immense differences between Ak-hee and Sajo Hyun. Ak-hee is so ruthless that he goes to the extent of wiping all of Wol’s memories just to make her his woman. What will happen when Sajo-hyun takes over and finds that Ak-hee found him a concubine? Why is Sajo Yoong planning a revolution?

Is it to help the nation or make himself King since he knows Sajo Seung favours Sajo Hyun? Is the story about revenge or the fight for Wol’s affection between Ak-hee and his half-wit personality, Sajo Hyun? What were some of your favourite scenes in this episode, and what are you looking forward to in the next episode?


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