Episode 11 of Our Blooming Youth begins with Tae-gang doing some training while thinking about the red letters spread around the capital. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince summons officials who hail from Byeokcheon trying to see if they remember anything about the alleged treason. Most of them were young and offer him no clues.
At Hanyang, Man-deok finds Bok-Soon trying to hide another letter asking him to prepare to come home. This time they are given a mission to send Jo Won-bo and Jo Won-oh a message. They manage to send the letter through an arrow and a startled Jo Won-oh runs to his hyungnim to report the letter. He arrives to find Jo Won-bo also received the same letter and is angry his man failed to capture the culprit.
Jo Won-bo takes his anger on Jo Won-oh and blames him for failing to recognize the words in the letter. The letters say: “Duk-guk-byeong-min”. These words were in a letter written ten years ago to Jo Won-bo asking him to save Byeokcheon from Jo Won-oh who was plundering government resources as the Magistrate of Byeokcheon and making people suffer.
Jo Won-bo regrets stepping in to save his brother who he calls an idiot and spanks to relieve his frustration. Jo Won-oh is sure that the letters are the works of the remnant of Byeokcheon and promises to help Jo-Won-bo find them.
Back at the palace, the Crown Prince is frustrated that his summons have not given him any answer. He takes Min Jae-yi along with him for a walk and they goof around. The Crown Prince finds it strange that Song, the so-called leader of the bandit was captured but never interrogated.
He also questions how and why Song managed to turn everyone in Byeokcheon and five surrounding villages to become bandits. According to him, the Royal Secretariat Journal is compromised. The Crown Prince is hoping that the people from Byeokcheon are not involved in killing Min Jae-yi’s family, the ghost letters or his poisoning.
In his heart, he views them as his people and is afraid of the curse in the ghost letter coming true. Min Jae-yi understands where he is coming from but hopes he will still punish the involved parties. She believes the peony blossom incense is key to solving the case. While on their walk, the court lady who is spying for Jo Won-bo sees them.
The next morning, Myung-jin visits Man-deok asking if he knows when Monk Moojin will stop by again. Man-deok explains that he is not in the know but will inform Myung-jin if he shows up. We see Monk Moojin at his home feeding his mysterious fish blood. Myung-jin returns to his lab where he seats nursing heartbreak until Scholar Park and Min Jae-yi pay him a visit. They are sorry for his heartbreak but are more concerned about what he discovered in his investigation of the peony blossom incense.
Ga-ram informs them that they are waiting for Monk Moojin as they believe the incense is used in India and Monk Moojin has been to India. As they talk, Man-deok stops by to let them know Monk Moojin is in town. They sit to talk about the incense and Monk Moojin tells them that it is nothing special. Before he can delve deeper into the incense, a commotion is caused by a young boy trying to steal food from Man-deok’s tavern.
They all rush out to stop the boy and chase him through the streets. Unfortunately, the scared young boy runs into Jo Won-oh and accidentally breaks a valuable vase. Jo Won-oh proceeds to kick and beat the boy. Ga-ram unable to see the unfairness of the situation steps in and tries to protect the boy from the beating.
Jo Won-oh turns on her and questions how a lowly person like her can dare to teach him about unfairness. This forces Myung-jin to step in and he tells Jo Won-oh that he should do better as a government official. Jo Won-oh insists that the vase was expensive and wants the boy to pay the 200 nyangs he used to buy the vase. Obviously, the poor boy can barely manage to get food leave alone pay him back. Jo Won-oh decides that the boy was running because he was stealing. He argues as the Minister of Justice it is his job to punish the boy.
He questions Man-deok about what the boy stole but Man-deok doesn’t want the boy punished. During his interrogation, Jo Won-oh tries to remember Man-deok as he thinks he has seen him before, luckily his memory falls short. Jo Won-oh asks his men to drag the boy and take him to prison and against Min Jae-yi’s wishes, the Crown Prince opts to take the matter into his hands.
Jo Won-oh recognizes him and tries not to blow his cover. The Crown Prince threatens to out Jo Won-oh for buying banned vessels if he fails to show the boy some benevolence. Cornered, Jo Won-oh is left with no choice but to let the young boy go. The Crown Prince and his friends take the boy home where he lives with his sick sister. Their parents died in Byeokcheon and they are barely surviving. The Crown Prince gives the boy money for his sister’s medicine and pays in advance for the children in that camp to eat at Man-deok’s tavern.
Man-deok, Bok-soon and even Myung-jin are impressed by how Scholar Park handled the situation and his kindness. However, Bok-soon is angry that Jo Won-oh managed to become a minister when he destroyed the innocent lives of the people of Byeokcheon. Monk Moojin asks them to clean up the incense that fell over during the commotion. I believe that Monk Moojin lied to the Crown Prince about the incense but what are his motives?
On their way back to the palace, the Crown Prince and Min Jae-yi joke around with their shadows noting they look close and friendly. Elsewhere, Jo Won Bo finds the letter sent to him 10 years ago imploring him to save Byeokcheon from his corrupt brother. He finds the same words. The letter was written by a man named Hong Jae-yong, a civilian from Byeokcheon.
The next morning, Jo Won-bo meets with the King and asks him to ban the people from Byeokcheon from taking the national exams or holding a position in government offices. He advises the King to deal harshly with the people from Byeokcheon as they are rebels and probably the ones who send the shaman and the curse.
The King agrees to his request even though other court officials from the Han side don’t agree. A notice soon goes out across the capital that the people of Byeokcheon should be fired from any government position and banned from taking the civil exam. Some civilians feel that it is only right when others, mostly the affected find it unfair but don’t dare to say it. Myung-jin is the only one who tries to defend the Byeokcheon people in the capital.
The queen is also unable to save a loyal servant from being fired. The Crown Prince is saddened to have to see his eunuchs forced to leave. They plead with him to help but he is not in any position to do so. Sung-on and his dad are also deeply troubled by the discrimination against the people of Byeokcheon.
Moved by the plight of the Byeokcheon people, the Crown Prince seeks an audience with the King to plead for their mercy. However, Jo Won-bo tries to listen in on the conversation. Min Jae-yi decides to interfere and announce his presence. The Crown Prince asks Jo Won-bo to excuse them so they can finish their conversation. The Crown Prince admits to the King that he is feeling ashamed because his dad has become a puppet king. He questions why his dad trusts the Jo family more.
The king reminds him that he had already warned him to stay out of politics. He points out that Jo Won-bo is not an enemy he can go up against and win. He brings up the death of the former Crown Prince and acknowledges that Jo Won-bo played a hand in his death. He asks the Crown Prince why he thinks he is a worthless king. The Crown Prince tells him he has been trying to follow his advice to doubt everyone and nearly lost his friend. He is not sure anymore what he is fighting for if his dad is allowing himself to be a puppet king.
The king takes a drastic decision and bans the Crown Prince from leaving the Eastern Palace and performing his duties. As Jon Won-bo expected, the King abandons the Crown Prince to protect himself and the throne. The confinement leads the Crown Prince to be depressed and he cries wondering why his dad chose to abandon him. He feels that he is no longer a Crown Prince as he has already been deposed by his father.
As Jo Won bo rejoices over the Crown Prince being confined in his palace, Sung-on, Tae-gang and Min Jae-y worry about the effects of the confinement on the young Prince. Days turn into a month and Myung-jin and Ga-ram wonder what happened to Scholar Park and Eunuch Go Soon-dol. They are unaware of the confinement, while Ga-ram is also unaware that the slave traders are following her.
The Episode Review
It is highly possible that the King is trying to protect the Crown Prince from Jo won-bo. I imagine he doesn’t want to lose another child. Sadly, his method of saving the Crown Prince is more hurtful and will tear them further apart as father and son.
The reality of what happened in Byeokcheon is slowly starting to take form. Jo Won-bo chose to save his brother and killed countless people and the effects are still being felt today. I can’t help but feel that the King created the monster that Jo Won-bo is at the moment. He allowed himself to become a puppet because he feels insecure as his mom was a maid.
He got power because he was supported by the Jo family. However, he is pathetic because what good is the throne if you can’t even save your children? What joy is there to be a king who keeps mourning the death of his kids and has the enemy so close but is too cowardly to strike back?
Monk Moojin is becoming more interesting and I can’t wait to learn more about his past. Is there a possibility that he is actually Song, the rumoured bandit leader?
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