Lee Hwi and Ji-Woon are starting to face the consequences of their feelings. How much more blood needs to be spilled to protect Lee Hwi’s identity?
This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series The King’s Affection season 1, episode 17, contains spoilers.
It’s heartbreaking how everyone in The King’s Affection is a victim of affection. I wonder how the writer will wrap everything up because honestly, I hardly picture a rational and ending for this series. After the death of Commander Yoon, things are starting to shift within the Palace. It turns out it is Seok-Jo who reveals Commander Yoon’s resting place to Lee Hwi. He is secretly present during the memorial service and cries at Commander Yoon’s tomb. This explains why Seok-Jo unexpectedly appeared to rescue Lee Hwi and Ji-Woon, who Chang-Woon is cornering. Seok-Jo and Chang-Woon go into a fierce sword battle with a raging fire in their eyes. Seok-Jo even puts down his royal hat and orders Ji-Woon to protect Lee Hwi. Unfortunately, Lord Chang-Woon manages to escape himself.
After the intense situation, Seok-Jo comes back to reassure Lee Hwi’s condition, but he can’t seem to face her, keeping his gaze down. Lee Hwi orders to keep everything that happens a secret.
The King’s Affection season 1, episode 17 recap
Lord Chang-Woon goes back to Prince Wonsan’s chamber after failing to reveal Lee Hwi’s identity, which upsets Prince Wonsan. He reveals how Seok-Jo interrupted his plan. Meanwhile, Eunuch Hong passes the news regarding Lord Chang-Woon attacking Lee Hwi to Hyun. Everyone is shocked after finding that Chang-Woon is still alive after his death penalty. Well, thanks to Prince Wonsan, the man has returned from the “dead.”
Back to the Palace; Lee Hwi is anxiously thinking about Seok-Jo’s sudden change. Court Lady Kim assumes that he might discover her secret, but Lee Hwi doubts it. Hyun comes to visit Lee Hwi after hearing the news from Eunnuch Hong to confirm Chang-Woon’s involvement. On the other side, Ji-Woon asks his father about his relationship with Commander Yoon after encountering one another at the burial site. Seok-Jo dodges the question and urges Ji-Woon to rely on messages to Lee Hwi that he will report back to her after finding out the truth about Lord Chang-Woon. Ji-Woon can’t keep his suspicions and informs Lord Sangheon about what’s happening, but Seok-Jo finds it wiser if Lee Hwi is the one who informs Lord Sangheon himself.
A familiar scar
Ji-Woon recommends Lee Hwi send Kang Eun-Seo (Ga-On’s real identity) to Samgembang, where his friend will treat his wounds. At Samgaebang, Eun-Seo awkwardly encounters Jil-Geum and Yeong-Ji. Jil-Geum brings Eun-Seo to one of the best herbal markets to heal his wound. While Jil-Geum busily chats with the market lady, another riddle comes to the surface. Eun-Seo sees a man with familiar scars on his wrist, which he sees after he finds the late body of the Eunnuch’s that kills the King. He secretly trails them.
Meanwhile, Prince Wonsan steps up his game by confronting the Grand Queen Dowager regarding his findings of the twin’s placenta after a physician tells him. Dowager quickly shuts down his assumption and denies the existence of the twin since there’s no way a twin is born within the Palace. She warns Prince Wonsan that his words might cause a fuss and misinterpret as an act of rebellion. After Prince Wonsan dismisses himself, Queen Dowager travels back to the memory where Lord Sangheon informs her that the late King has the order to kill everyone who knows about the twin. “This secret must be taken to the grave,” warns Lord Sangheon.
The calm before the storm
After heading back from Grand Queen’s Dowager’s quarters, Prince Wonsan encounters Hyun, who straightly asks the reason behind his visit since it’s been a long time. Prince Wonsan dodges Hyun’s question and asks about Lee Hwi’s condition. For a while, there were no words spoken, only the eyes and the devilish smile that engraves in Prince Wonsan’s face.
His mind wanders back to when Chang-Woon assured that Lee Hwi is a woman. Prince Wonsan immediately plans to head back to the Palace, where Chang-Woon stops him. “The Palace must be on full alert by now [after the attack],” says Lord Chang-Woon. But Prince Wonsan thinks otherwise, “What if all is quiet at the Palace? It would confirm that he is a woman,” says Prince Wonsan. Hyun already senses something is off with his brother. Moreover, after he sneaked into his room and found the ring that Hyun had prepared as a gift for Lee Hwi, the rumors between Lee Hwi and Ji-Woon spread throughout the Palace.
“The King prefers man than a woman!”
So the rumors about the King preferring men to women have finally started to take its blow within the Palace. It all begins with the court maids gossiping about how they witnessed Lee Hwi and Ji-Woon coming back to the quarter at dawn several times. One of the Queen’s trusted court maids finds it suspicious and relies on the rumors. “Is it possible that His Majesty prefers men to women?” says the court maid. Ha-Kyung quickly asks her to shut down the ridiculous rumor while reassuring herself. But Ha-Kyung is not the only one in denial; the Royal Instructor also starts to grow suspicious after hearing the rumors from the court maid. Things get more suspicious after they unexpectedly encounter Lee Hwi and Ji-Woon, who sweetly interact with one another, especially after they notice how Ji-Woon is the only person who does not follow the five-step rules.
The royal instructors hilariously interrupt their interaction to save their face from the rumor. Finally, the rumors reach our protagonist. In the middle of the night, Ha-Kyung secretly comes to the King’s quarters unnoticed, but Lee Hwi is out for a walk. It turns out, Lee Hwi is in the middle of a secret meeting with Eun-Seo and Ji-Woon. Eun-Seo reports about his encounter with a mysterious man who possibly killed Eunuch Cho due to the same scars on his wrist. The man is a royal physician and goes with the name Seo Seung-Gyu, the one who is also responsible for Lee Hwi’s health.
Ji-Woon asks Lee Hwi to head out first, and he will follow later, but Lee Hwi says, “Rumours like this do not phase me anymore.” Despite Lee Hwi’s stubbornness, Ji-Woon insists both of them stay cautious all the time. After Ha-Kyung witnesses Ji-Woon and Lee Hwi leaving the secret meeting together, things get pretty complicated. She already knows what’s coming for her and cries after realizing that she’s stuck on one-sided love.
“Fulfill your duties as the King of the nation,”
The rumor has finally reached Grand Queen Dowager. She begins to pressure Lee Hwi about producing the heir as a solution to shut down all the rumors and avoid all the threats that might happen to her. “I urge you to act cautiously,” warns the Queen dowager. She also uses an idiom, Gwajeonbulnapri, which means “Not to do anything that can raise suspicion.”
After their archery game, Queen Dowager arranges tea time between Lee Hwi and Ha-Kyung to tame the rumors. More than anything, their relationship frustrates me the most. Despite her clumsy and naive attitudes, Ha-Kyung is also a victim. The girl wastes her love and time without knowing that the person she marries is a woman. But I am glad that the writer is still putting sense into her. “I will not ask you for the truth. I will not ask you to accept my love. Let me produce an heir. I am the queen of the nation, let me fill my duties, and I urge you to fulfill your duties too as the King of the nation.” says Ha-Kyung and leaves Lee Hwi overthinking during the night.
Looking at it from a different perspective, Lee Hwi has been investing herself in revenge on Lord Sangheon and neglecting his role as a King. It turns out, Ha-Kyung’s words significantly affect Lee Hwi. You can’t hide your identity forever.
The price of loving the King
The rumors have finally taken a toll. It’s about time where our leads face the consequences of their feelings. To protect his family, Seok-Jo arranges a marriage between Ji-Woon and So-Eun. At first, So-Eun’s father is unpleasant with the marriage arrangement due to Seok-Jo’s political association with Lord Sangheon, but he insists that his request is solely to protect Ji-Woon from the rumors. Of course, So-eun finds this as an opportunity to finally grasp her love and follow her heart, even though she already knows the consequences. She insists to his father that she wishes to marry and be a part of Ji-Woon’s family.
Meanwhile, Ji-Woon confronts his father about the arranged marriage and opposes it. Seok-Jo counters back and confesses that he already knows about Lee Hwi’s identity as a woman. Seok-Jo asks Ji-Woon to do what he says; build a family of his own, and leave the capital. He will not interfere with his life after the marriage because that’s the only way for Seok-Jo as a father to protect him and their family alongside Lee Hwi from Lord Sangheon. Otherwise, Seok-Jo will have to go to the extent of killing Lee Hwi and losing Ji-Woon at the same time. Ji-Woon is bewildered after hearing that he will not hesitate to kill Lee Hwi, “How can it be treason when the King is a woman?”
We still need to testify Seok-Jo’s stance. He sincerely wants to protect Ji-Woon and his family. We still don’t know about his real intention towards Lee Hwi, but Commander Yoon’s death might take a toll on him. That’s why he is willing to compromise so Ji-Woon does not have to carry the pain of losing someone, but at the same time, the pressure pushes him to make dramatic choices for Ji-Woon.
The next day, after knowing his whereabouts, Seok-Jo finally kills Lord Chang-Woon. Of course, Chang-Woon has been digging his own grave by going out from the safe place that Lord Wonsan prepared for him.
Meanwhile, at the Palace, Ha-Kyung passes the news of Ji-Woon’s marriage to Lee Hwi. Ha-Kyung notices the subtle changes of emotion in Lee Hwi’s eyes. Later, Lee Hwi goes for a walk in a state of denial. She encounters Ji-Woon. He decides to confront her with the truth regarding his marriage. “This is the only way for me to protect you, His Majesty.” Lee Hwi commands him to stop twice, but Ji-Woon, suppressing his ego, says, “forgive me, His Majesty,” and keeps on walking ahead while Lee Hwi breaks down in tears.