A Curse & The Damsel in Distress
Episode 1 of Our Blooming Youth starts with a man walking in the forest hunting with a bow and arrow. He accidentally gets hit by another person and drops his bow. Luckily, this is a dream and the man wakes up shaken by what he’s seen.
A servant calls out to him, asking if he is awake. We learn that the man is a Crown Prince. He gives his permission and the servants enter his room and start dressing him.
Through the grapevine at the palace, we learn that the Crown Prince can’t use his right hand. A year ago, he was hit by a poisoned arrow. It wasn’t a dream but a traumatic nightmare. Of course, the rumours distort the actual incident. Some believe his hand is rotten and that a ghost cursed him. According to the rumours, the Crown Prince killed his brother so he can take his position.
The rumours reach the king through Jo Won-bo who asks the king to allow the Crown Prince to lead the royal hunt. He plans to prove that the Crown Prince, Lee Hwan, is unable to use his right hand and have him deposed for being disabled. His niece is one of the king’s concubines and he hopes to make her son, Prince Myungan the next Crown Prince.
The king asks the Chief State Minister, Kim An-jik for his opinion and he seconds Jo Won-Bo and says it is a good idea for the Crown Prince to prove he is healthy and do away with the rumours. The court officials appeal to the king to have the Crown Prince lead the royal hunt and the king is left with no choice but to concede.
Meanwhile, the Crown Prince is in a bad mood and dismisses his servants for petty reasons. The king meets with the Crown Prince and informs him of the court’s officials’ wish. Lee Hwan tells the king that the request was bound to come and he will fulfil the court’s wish. The king is worried if he will be able to do it and Lee Hwan says it is the only way to keep his position.
Elsewhere in a different home, a woman is ordering her staff and it looks like they are preparing for a celebration. A man comes in and asks if he has arrived at the Left State Minister’s house. A servant affirms that he is at the right house and the woman looks worriedly at the guest.
Back at the palace, Lee Hwan and the Left State Minister’s son, Han Sung-on, are chatting about his upcoming nuptials. The Crown Prince teases Han Sung-on about a girl they met when they were young. It seems like Han Sung-on was quite taken by the girl. He assures Han Sung-on there is no reason to worry about his fiancee. It is said that his fiancee is a charming intelligent woman from a good family.
As they chat happily, a servant interrupts them and asks Han Sung-on to return home. Han Sung-on is taken aback by the request and immediately asks what is wrong. The servant informs him that the family of his fiancee, Min Jae-yi has been killed. Han Sung-on asks about the status of Min Jae-yi and he is told that she is the main suspect in the murders. Apparently, her lover gave testimony that she bought arsenic and poisoned her family.
The government officials found corroborative evidence but were unable to arrest Min Jae-yi. They are currently tracking her down in the forest. The Crown Prince asks his servant to send a man to Min Jae-yi’s village, Gaesong to assess the situation. He also asks Han Sung-on to head home.
His parents are saddened to hear what happened to the family but they are also embarrassed that their son nearly married a murderer. The servants are already jumping to the conclusion that Min Jae-yi must have killed her parents to avoid marrying Han Sung-on since she loved her lover so much. His dad warns him to be cautious and put his personal feelings behind him.
On the other hand, Min Jae-yi is cornered by the government officials chasing her. She manages to fight two of them but she is soon outnumbered. She does her best to escape but ends up cornered at the edge of a cliff. She fights courageously to save herself while pleading her case but the soldiers are set on capturing or killing her. She accidentally falls off the cliff and lands in a lake.
At the palace, the Crown Prince is unable to sleep and he finds a mysterious letter on his table. In the letter, he is accused of killing his brother and cursed that he will never be king. It also says that he will not be able to use his arms or legs. He will grow old and lead a lonely life where even his friend will betray him. It condemns him and adds that his foolishness will lead to the death of many. In the end, he will be deposed and walk around mad.
He calls his servant and demands to know who entered his chambers. The servant is adamant no one came into the room. They have been alert standing watch because this is Lee Hwan’s first day in the Crown Prince’s Palace. They didn’t sleep because they were afraid of neglecting his needs.
The next morning, a servant informs the Crown Prince that the Calvary dispatch he had sent before the Min Jae-yi misfortune to deliver a wedding gift has been found dead. The Crown Prince is curious if he was killed before or after he made the delivery. Unfortunately, no one knows for sure. He asks for the body of the man to be delivered to him. He also asks Tae-Gang to pay attention to Min Jae-yi’s case. He believes all the murders are linked.
Han Sung-on is of the same mind and refuses to believe Min Jae-yi killed her family. He sends someone to find her before the army gets to her. He also asks him to find the whereabouts of her alleged lover too.
In the capital, government officials are trying their best to find Min Jae-yi as they never recovered her body. There are numerous checkpoints to all gates leading in and out of the capital. Fortunately, Min Jae-yi survived the fall and is treating her wound while hiding in a cave.
After two weeks, Min Jae-yi is healed and ready to find answers. She believes there is a connection between the Crown Prince and the murder of all her family members. She plans on meeting the Crown Prince and asking him about it. She remembers that before the killings, her father had asked her to read a secret letter the Crown Prince sent along with a wedding gift. It was her father’s dying wish that she protects Lee Hwan.
Min Jae-yi sneaks into the capital in disguise and meets with her former servant, Ga-ram. Ga-ram is the only person who believed her innocence and asked her to escape. They had planned to meet but she only came to set Ga-ram free and say her goodbyes. Ga-ram is reluctant to let her go alone but Min Jae-yi insists it is for the best.
While in the capital, she meets Kim Myung-Jin, the Chief State Minister’s youngest son. He is tearing up the wanted portraits of her. He believes she is innocent but fails to recognize her.
In the meantime, the Crown Prince gets ready for the Royal hunt. He is determined to ignore the rumours of his curse and prove everyone wrong. On the day of the royal hunt, Min Jae-yi disguises herself as a member of the Ohhoe Troop Byeol and joins the royal hunt.
At the royal hunt, Jo Won-bo is happy that his plan is going according to plan. The Left State Minister, Han Joong-eon worries about Lee Hwan being deposed by the king if he fails to prove he can use his right hand. The Crown Prince puts up a brave face but he is worried too. Min Jae-yi secretly follows him when they spilt to hunt and the Crown Prince is left alone.
The episode ends with the Crown Prince remembering the words in the letter and his right-hand starts shaking. He hears a noise behind him and turns, drawing his arrow. He sees Han Sung-on behind him with his arrow drawn. He once again remembers the prophecy in the letter that his friend will betray him.
The Episode Review
Our Blooming Youth delivers an entertaining and intense first episode. It perfectly sets the tone for this intriguing K-drama and I can’t wait to see what unfolds next.
Conflict in the Royal court is not a new thing in historical k-dramas but there is a twist in this one. The mother of the Grand Prince, Prince Myungan, is not ready to support Jo Won-bo’s treacherous plan. Is this an act or does she really wish Lee Hwan the best? It is too early to tell.
I also love that Min Jae-yi is a damsel in distress but she is fighting her way out. She can defend herself and is resourceful on her own. It was satisfying to see her sword-fighting skills and her determination to find the truth.
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|