Mr. Sunshine episode 23 shows the tragic consequences of Joseon’s shortlived revenge, as the Japanese army responds with violence and brutality.
Putting aside the characters we have grown fond of these last 7 weeks, Mr. Sunshine episode 23 confirmed what we knew all along – Joseon is a minor state in the political landscape, and war is judged to be a higher priority. Despite the efforts to keep sovereignty intact and the Emporer desperately trying to cling on to the little power he has, this week we were reminded that Japan has the real power, and despite the small outburst from the Joseon people, the Japanese army showed their response with cold-hearted, impressive violence.
Mr. Sunshine episode 23 showed us a glimpse of what happened before the Glory Hotel was destroyed by the owner Kudo Hina. You get to witness in the end where her real loyalties lie, and I believe in her last moments her love for her friends gave her allegiance to Joseon. The explosion damaged her, leaving Gu Dong-mae to carry her to the beach for one last serenade amongst the waves, as she confesses her feelings. Gu Dong-mae looked woefully wounded. Mr. Sunshine did not prepare for his emotional breakdown as she died whilst he carried her.
This episode demonstrated the pinnacle; tensions were extinguished and Japan’s response to the Glory Hotel explosion was bordering genocide. There were horrifying, shocking events as soldiers entered hospitals and cleared floors by killing Joseon citizens that needed aid in order to give their own army medical attention. When it led to children getting murdered in cold blood, you sense the extent that this war had caused; war crimes were evident.
Mr. Sunshine episode 23 does not give you moments to breathe amongst the self-made slaughter created by the Japanese Army. It was heartwarming to witness all the characters we have seen before enduring personal conflicts, band together for a common cause. Joseon’s response to the growing Japanese presence was a vengeful once, but their short, dull victory resulted in an epidemic that outlives hotel explosions. In moments of chaos, Mr. Sunshine drives the characters together; survival is more important than squabbles over love and political opinions.
Eugene, who has fled America romantically to help Lady Ae-sin, carries the wounded noblewoman to a hospital taken over by Japanese, showing his accurate eye with a weapon, and gathers supplies to help her overcome the injuries. In times of pain comes love, as Lady Ae-sin believes she is in a dream as Eugene helps relieve her pain with drugs and bandages. The scene was comical in a sense, as Eugene still wanted to know if she still missed him – it did not feel that important at that moment.
Whilst this is near the end, Mr. Sunshine still felt it was important to understand the relationships between the characters. The Righteous Army still have a sense of companionship, even in difficult times, reminding us of their fight for honour in episode one. What is clear is that despite the personal anguish suffered by Eugene in Joseon, in the end, his story comes full circle. He is no longer a soldier but his love for Lady Ae-sin has allowed him to form a connection with his birthplace, and without the words being spoken, he is now a member of The Righteous Army.
You walk away from Mr. Sunshine episode 23 feeling a weight on your chest, and sadness overcomes you with each death taking a heavy thud. The Japanese army manages to get hold of a list of The Righteous Army members, putting the entire group at risk. Lady Ae-sin’s house workers place a diversion, whilst the others flee the land. At this point, I get the sense that the next episode will be centred around the survival for the remaining members.
As I sit writing here after a long journey, piecing together the jigsaw pieces, I wonder if there will be any happy ending, or will Mr. Sunshine end with a bittersweetness overhanging the entire story? This story has been tragic, but it has been wonderfully articulated. See you tomorrow.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.