Home > TV and anime > Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) — episodes nine to twelve

Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) — episodes nine to twelve

Setting up secret organisations is always a challenge given authoritarian states are not averse to using torture to elicit the names of the membership. The answer adopted by many is the cell structure so that each small group has no knowledge of the other cells nor what they are doing. This has been a part of my problem in teasing out which characters in Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) are in secret groups and which side they are on. I now realise this has been made more difficult because, in the mdst of all the action, we’ve been watching different cells of the “terrorist” Milbon. Finally, come episode 10, we get the air cleared by revelations of exactly who’s in Milbon. In this, I was strongly reminded of The Usual Suspects where Kevin Spacey’s walk changed. There’s a similarly charged moment in this episode. So what more general progress are we making?

Han Suk Kyu full of warm humanity

We need to take a minute to understand how an organisation like Milbon has to infiltrate government at all levels if it’s to understand what King Sejong (Han Suk Kyu) is doing and, where appropriate, to take countermeasures. Equally, the King’s problem is to find a hard core of people to trust. So, for example, from the lower classes he relies on Ga Ri-On (Yoon Je Moon), a butcher who also does autopsies and Oktteoly (Jung Jong-Chul — a Korean comedian turning to acting) to explore the different sounds made by humans and animals. It’s looking increasingly likely that, for all he’s a noble and so feels threatened by the King’s plans, Jo Mal-Saeng (Lee Jae-Yong) feels more at risk from Milbon and so is inadvertently on the side of the angels. So far, the King has not decided to trust him. Interestingly the Chinese secret service is also growing more interested in what’s going on. But the practical reality is that the King actually trusts only one or two with the inside view of his plan to create a new alphabet. This creates its own uncertainties because this could lead everyone else in positions that could be threatened to expect the worst.

Jang Hyuk not developing much in the range of his performance

So the series is evolving on to a slightly different track. As viewers, we now know the identities of most of the key members of Milbon. As in all inverted crime stories, we wait to see how Kang Chae Yoon (Jang Hyuk) will catch them. His plan relies on the fact that, as a boy, he accidentally came into possession of the Milbon Pledge, a document written by the movement’s scholar founder. With appropriate symbology, he keeps this buried under a tree. Believing the organisation will want to recover it, he puts up posters with a drawing of the pouch he lost at that time. This is the pouch made by So-Yi (Shin Se Kyung) as a child. When the posters are seen by Milbon and So-Yi, we’re drawn into a careful dance in which identities are of critical importance. However, there’s another major shift in tone as a philosophical debate begins on both sides of the fence.

King Sejong sets off to defend the creation of his alphabet which, controversially, includes the autopsy of a human to understand more exactly how we make the sounds for speech. His concerns and arguments are largely specious. He’s concerned that the fact he and his team have been secretly creating the alphabet is a flaw. He seems to believe the Chinese system of writing is more natural because it has evolved over generations, whereas his artificial system for representing sounds cannot be easily grasped by the “people”. This is, of course, rubbish. The selection of any written symbol to represent a meaning is always artificial whether the symbol has been designated with that meaning for ten minutes or a thousand years. Today’s digital technology can accurate record a sound and we can all agree what meaning to give it when we hear it. This is as “natural” a system as it’s possible to create. A manual recording system baed on pen and paper is always arbitrary. Milbon’s political posture is equally flawed. It asserts that a nation can only be great so long as scholarship leads thought and so guides action. Thus, instead of advocating a practical democracy in which the “people” are given a say in how the country is run, this organisation’s leadership effectively promotes an oligarchy by the elite scholars, i.e. it’s no better in substance from the status quo except it displaces some of the nobility in favour of those whose claims to scholarship are strong enough.

Shin Se Kyung earning sympathy points as the mute So-Yi

All this should tell you the action has slowed a little but, as we come into episode 12, things hot up. So-Yi sets off on her own to meet the unknown person posting details of the lost purse. She ends up kidnapped but, because of her eidetic memory, she’s able to engineer an escape by jumping into a river. All this is leading up to a meeting between the long-separated children and, in what looks like the start of the romantic element, we’re left with the cliffhanger of them about to meet each other properly (under a tree, of course). I’m tempted to say this is the first set of four episodes showing signs of padding. It’s stretching things out as the different factions maneouvre for position, but with the hook planted that a new martial arts expert is being called into play by Milbon. I expect to see who this is in the next quartet of episodes. The only reason why I’m not complaining is that, for all Jang Hyuk’s performance remains somewhat monotonous, we’re seeing more of Shin Se Kyung as So-Yi which is interesting, and Han Suk Kyu performance as the King remains deeply human and affecting. So, at the halfway point, I remain positive about Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011).

For other reviews of this series, see:
Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) — the first four episodes
Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) — episodes five to eight
Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) — episodes thirteen to sixteen
Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) — episodes seventeen to twenty
Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) — episodes twenty-one to end

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