Dong Yi

Scarlet-dong yi

Overview

Childhood

Set during the reign of King Sukjong in the Joseon dynasty, the series is based on real-life historical figure Choi Suk-bin.

Dong-yi became an orphan after her father (the chief of the sword fraternity and a corpse handler) and brother (a member of the fraternity) was killed after they were accused of killing the nobles. To hide her identity, Dong-yi adopted the surname Chun, becoming a maid and working in the Bureau of Music. She had an exceptional mind that helped her in solving difficult cases.

As a court lady inspector

While solving a case, she meets the king who introduces himself as a court judge. He enjoys her treatment of him as an ordinary person, and falls in love with her. She also gains the favour of Queen Inhyeon and becomes her trusted confidante, then meets Jang Hui-bin, a concubine who was first her ally but later a bitter enemy.

In her quest to survive in the court and bring justice to lowborn commoners like herself, she makes many allies such as her devoted protector Cha Chun-soo (whom she considers an older brother despite not being blood-related), the police chief Seo Young-gi (who was her father’s friend), and the court ladies Jung and Bong.

As a royal consort

The new Sword Guild and the past exposed

Rumor regarding the Sword Guild being resurrected, but this time fighting for a wicked cause. Numerous nobles were assassinated, posting fears and uncertainty in the capital. Dong-yi and Chun-soo, feared that their past would be exposed, set to solve the mysterious dying message from the old man as well as finding whom framed the former Sword Guild in the 1681 massacre. The new Sword Guild’s marshal, whom none other than Dong-yi childhood’s friend Ge Dwo-ra, decided to assassinate Consort Chun without realizing she was his childhood friend. Dong-yi only escaped death by exposing identity to the killers and rushed them into hiding when the police guards were investigating her residence.

Her actions, while well covered, could not escape the eyes of her opponent, now including Jang Mu-yeol, an old classmate of Seo Young-gi and a talented Viceroy for the Southerns. He quickly realized the unusual connections between Dong-yi and the Sword Guild. It now became a race against time between Dong-yi’s camp to figure out the past cases and Jang Mu-yeol’s camp to expose her identity and eliminate the Sword Guild. Eventually, Dong-yi solved the riddle: the mastermind of the past cases was Oh Tae-suk, whom murdered his competitor in the Southern faction and then framed the Sword Guild. But while she was getting evidence to arrest Oh Tae-suk, her opponent was one step further: Jang Mu-yeol staged an assault to kill Oh Tae-suk and framed the new Sword Guild, while letting a wounded Ge Dwo-ra escape. Dong-yi, in a desperate attempt to help Ge Dwo-ra escape, fell into Jang Mu-yeol’s trap and exposed her identity and her past to the King.

Facing with inevitable evidence, the King was forced to punish Dong-yi for her crimes. Ge Dwo-ra was executed, and so would be Dong-yi if not for her son’s untimely death. Nevertheless, Dong-yi was banished from the palace, never to be seen by the King again.

In exile

The King, sending Dong-yi away with a heavy heart, couldn’t forget her. One night, in a drunken state, he wandered to Dong-yi’s residence and spent the night with her. This gave Dong-yi her second child, named Yi Geum.

Fast forward by six years. Yi Geum showed his prodigious talent, being able to quote not just “Basic Concepts” but also Doctrine of the Mean and Great Learning, books that even scholars have trouble memorizing. Meanwhile, the King, through an incident, recognized Geum without the kid’s knowledge that the former was his dad. Like the old days, the King posed himself as an administrative officer to spent time with his son.

Meanwhile, inside the palace, Jang Hui-bin and co, while enjoying the temporary relief, still grew wary about Dong-yi and her son as a threat for her crown price. Jang Hui-bin’s mother, once again decided to hire assassins to kill Dong-yi and Geum, setting their residence on fire and locked the door to prevent them from escaping. The plan only failed by the last minutes when the royal guard spotted the fire and rescued them.

It turned out, the King, while not seeing them for six years, always missed them and requested the guards to secretly secure Dong-yi’s residence without them being seen. He was biding the time to bring them back, which finally came when Geum turned seven and by law was required to receive royal education. Once again, Dong-yi and her son returned to the palace to face her friends and enemy for one more time.

Return to the palace

Dong-yi and Geum returned to the palace, with the later now named Prince Yuning. Geum’s prodigious talent soon broke out and the palace knew he was no ordinary prince. Meanwhile, rumors had started that Crown Prince Yun might be infertile, ringing the possibility that Prince Yuning might replace him as the King’s heir. However well covered by Jang Hui-bin’s camp, news gradually leaked out and her bases started abandoning her, from Jang Mu-yeol now pledged allegiance to Dong-yi and the Chancellor withdrawing his support. In desperate situation, Jang Hui-bin and her brother attempted to assassinate Dong-yi and Prince Yuning; the assassins almost succeeded if not for Chun-soo’s quick thinking and reaction. Jang Hui-bin and co were arrested and eventually executed.

Facing with the chance to become the Queen and her son replacing Crown Prince Yun as heir, Dong-yi declined both, rejecting the pledges from Jang Mu-yeol. But she and the King knew the only way for Prince Yuning to survive was to become king. The King, after serious contemplation, made preparations for the unthinkable: abdication, which would put Prince Yun as King and Yuning as Crown Prince, thus protecting both princes. Unable to comprehend the terms, Jang Mu-yeol and co attempted to eliminate Dong-yi and her son by staging an ambush against Crown Prince and framing Dong-yi. However, their plan was seen through by then Queen Inwon and they were arrested, eventually executed. King Sukjong finally announced his intention to abdicate, but saved by the last minute with Queen Inwon finally adopt Prince Yuning, ensuring the way for both princes to enthrone in the future.