Episode 12 of The King’s Affection begins with the King spying Hwi and walking away silently. When Hwi realizes what’s happened, she’s shocked. Of course, this is made all the worse by the scholars and ministers wanting the Crown Prince to be dethroned. And after what the King witnessed at night, he agrees to their demands.
In secret, the King tells Hwi that he’s always known she was a woman, ever since the moment her mother passed away in the palace. It turns out the King was actually at the door and overheard their conversation. He’s kept this secret from her all this time.
With tears running down her face, Hwi asks whether he would go back and do things differently “Leave the palace. And live your own life.” He says sternly, deflecting her concerns.
Out in the courtyard, Ji-Un notices Hwi and follows her into the courtyard. As the pair lock eyes, Ji-Un hurries forward and throws his arms around her, promising never to leave Hwi alone. As he touches her face tenderly, the pair share a really beautiful kiss. After, Hwi pushes him away, wanting Ji-Un to live a happy life and telling him to grant her final favour of leaving her.
Meanwhile, the Left State Minister receives a ledger full of military supplies being moved by Lord Changcheon. With the King bound for Ganghwa, the minister sets to work enacting his plan, tasking Seok-jo with bringing him back as soon as she catches word of him.
With Hwi leaving, Commander Yoon approaches the King, who’s grateful for him keeping Hwi’s secret too all these years. And with that, Hwi leaves the palace, noticing red ribbons tied to tree trunks. This is, of course, Ji-Un’s doing and he’s been paving the way all this time for her; a constant reminder that he’ll never leave her side.
Only, as he heads in front of the caravan, he notices numerous assassins out in the woods preparing to strike. Of course, all hell breaks loose and the assassins strike. Ji-Un jumps in just before Seok-jo can get a shot away with his bow and arrow. As the pair trade blows, he pleads with Ji-Un to head back to the palace, otherwise he’ll be framed for this.
Now, it turns out this was all planned by the King. Hyejong actually ordered Seok-Jo to ambush the caravan and was happy to have Hwi’s resentment in exchange for keeping her safe. As Hwi reads the note, she sobs but knows she must leave.
Down on the docks, Seok-Jo remains determined to find Hwi. Despite her wearing women’s clothing, Ji-Un just narrowly misses Hwi, brushing her shoulder. Soldiers head aboard the boat though, determined to find Hwi. Just before she’s forced to show her face, Ji-Un hops aboard and pretends to be her wife, shielding Hwi’s face from view.
Eventually though, Hwi decides to stay aboard and keep Hwi safe, taking her to safety. While alone, Hwi looks set to break the news that she’s actually a woman… until guards show and find the pair together. The soldiers chase them through the streets, eventually shooting arrows. One grazes across Hwi’s shoulder and as she turns, she locks eyes with Seok-Jo.
He flashes back to those moments in the past in the woods following his attack, realizing just who Hwi really is.
Alone, Hwi and Ji-Un share a moment by the water. Realizing they’re alone, Hwi reveals her true self and how she’s actually a woman.
The Episode Review
So Hwi’s secret is finally out and that ending leave things wide open for where next week’s double-bill may go. It’s a big twist and one that’s been coming for quite a while too. However, Seok-Jo seeing them is a massive spanner in the works and that’s almost certainly going to be an important point to make going forward.
Meanwhile, the King’s final statement and letter to Hwi is absolutely heartbreaking to see and Park Eun-Bin does a really great job squeezing as much emotion out of that scene as possible.
Will Hwi and Ji-Un end up together in the end? Seok-Jo looks set to make sure that’s not the case and with soldiers closing in, can Hwi and Ji-Un withstand this attack?