Home > TV and anime > 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 thirteen to sixteen

Well, we’ve finally come to the existential crisis at the heart of Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo (2011) and Kang Chae Yoon (Jang Hyuk) and King Sejong (Han Suk Kyu) take centre stage, albeit So-Yi (Shin Se Kyung) makes a vital contribution on the way. Our childhood couple have now been reunited and, for a mad moment, they throw away all their adult concerns and simply run away together. It doesn’t matter where they are going nor what they will do when they get there. They just take off into the wild blue yonder. In a moment of magical magnanimity, it’s the King’s decision to allow them to go. Yes, it will set his writing project back years if not make it impossible to realise. But this is something he has to do as a man. He cannot force people to work whole-heartedly for him. They have to be willing. This leads to everyone agonising. The King is suddenly taken with the notion he may never see So-Yi again. While it is not physical love, it’s certainly more than mere respect and affection. On her part, So-Yi finds regret building. It’s as much her project as the King’s and now she finds herself walking away. Kang Chae Yoon is still the twelve-year-old Ddol-Bok and thinks of nothing more than taking care of his lost love. It therefore comes as something of a shock to him when So-Yi announces she’s going back to help the King. It’s her way of dealing with the guilt she feels for not being able to read as a child.

Jang Hyuk showing he can also wear white with style

Ah, yes, I forgot to mention that she got her voice back when she confirmed Ddol-Bok was still alive. It was a traumatically-induced problem. Fortunately, this saved Ddol-Bok’s life — it’s silly but fun when you watch it on screen. Her departure leaves Ddol-Bok devastated. After taking a little time to get over the idea of simple suicide, he decides to die trying to kill the King. Anticipating this, the King withdraws all his guards apart from Moo Hyool (Jo Jin Woong). When Ddol-Bok suspiciously walks into the palace, the King blames the boy for making him into the man, reminding Ddol-Bok how he ranted as a boy that the King was all crap and should cut out the bullshit. Well, now Ddol-Bok faces the result. The young man who saved Ddol-Bok has become the King who cuts the crap, never bullshits (except when it suits him), and lives in Hell because of it. If only Ddol-Bok had kept his mouth shut, he would have become a King like his father and just killed everyone who disagreed with him. So the King walks up to Ddol-Bok and tells his would-be assassin to put an end to his worthless life. This is not at all what Ddol-Bok was expecting and he’s not a little upset that things are not turning out the way he wanted. He’s on a suicide mission but no-one’s going to kill him. So he tells the King in no uncertain terms that his plan to give the people a way to learn to read is bullshit, that he’s deceiving himself if he thinks this is going to help the people in any way. How can being able to read improve their lot if the nobles enslave them and kill them with the same disinterest as a butcher kills a cow? Lives only improve if the people can not only read but have a say in what happens to them. With this parthian shot delivered he stalks off into the night.

Han Suk Kyu feeling the darkness closing in around him

Meanwhile, Milbon’s leadership has figured out what the King is planning and they are appalled. This will completely undermine the scholars dominance of learning and, even more importantly, assert Korea’s status as a barbarian state. Because Korea matches China in using their written language and is consequently able to access two thousand years of accumulated wisdom, Koreans are a civilised people. If they have their own writing, they will be no better than their barbarian neighbours. This is not something up with which Confucius would have put. Milbon are against it and so send Yoon Pyung (Lee Soo-Hyuk) into the police to confess and to explain he killed the scholars because they were planning a new alphabet. With his plans threatened by premature revelation, the King must now move the project to a secret location. But Milbon captures all the documentation and kidnaps So-Yo and the young Prince. Now it’s Ddol-Bok to the rescue as he finally comes to terms with who he is as an adult. He has a positive purpose now.

Milbon’s inner circle looks to the future

The series at this point gets rather clever as we see the moral bravery of the King and the deep game he can play in refusing the disclose anything about the new writing system. Further, the King’s rejection of the use of violence puts Milbon on the back foot. Their members are drawn into a debate. They are negotiating with the King and having to scramble to keep up. Ironically, they believe they have the upper hand because it does not occur to them that the people will be able to use the new letters. With Ddol-Bok working for the King, he’s moved into undercover mode, claiming to have killed the Prince and looking for help to kill the King. It’s all boiling up nicely when Milbon suddenly cracks the secrecy surrounding the letters. Everything had been set up for the government to approve the publication of the letters. Milbon must now try to reverse course. They now know the letters are easy to learn and could, at a stroke, produce anarchy by making scholars redundant. Such is the paranoia of those who seek only power without considering the advantages to the people. According to Milbon, the people should never be given access to learning. It will only lead to them asking for reforms and taking power from them as the bureaucracy.

Jang Hyuk has finally come into his own. In these episodes, he goes from despair to joy, to suicidal to a new form of inner contentment (with a slightly ironic sense of humour). Han Suk Kyu continues to be the outstanding actor in his portrayal as the King. The decision on whether to negotiate with Milbon as the “terrorists” is wonderful. Interestingly, Shin Se Kyung remains a cipher. She has recovered her voice but still has little to say for herself. Obviously this reflects some degree of historical reality in that women would be expected to be more passive and not disturb the world of men. But it’s sad to see her marginalised in this script. Pleasingly we’re well passed the halfway stage and neither the pace nor the interest is flagging. I’ve no sense any of this has been padded out. Tree With Deep Roots or Deep Rooted Tree or Bboori Gipeun Namoo is taut and compulsive watching as we leaven hard-nosed politics with the odd fight or two.

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 nine to twelve
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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