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[ Drama 2017] Saimdang, Light's Diary 사임당, 빛의 일기 (Lee Young Ae, Song Seung Hun)

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List of deleted scenes from GMA7 “Saimdang” broadcast September 13:

- Saimdang finds lipstick on Lee Won-su’s clothes


- Willow Village scenes (after time skip of two years) : Mae-chang painting; Hyun-ryong teaching fellow children; Woo two years older (played by different actor); Sun working at the foundry; the drifters and Saimdang now prosperous with their paper business


- Hwieumdang’s son Ji-gyoon getting bullied by his schoolmates in Jungbu School


- Marital counseling sessions at Biikdang presided over by top Confucian scholar


-  Biikdang staff meeting about their activities, inviting Saimdang to conduct art workshops, and wondering if Lee Gyeom will ever come back


- Lee Gyeom fights off the Japanese raiders


- Ji-gyoon listens in to the discussions at Bikidang between Hyun-ryong and the top Confucian scholar


- Jillian’s mother-in-law sells cosmetics and getting a headache


- Saimdang’s eldest son tells her that he doesn’t want to study anymore; Saimdang reassures him that it's okay with her

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@plainenglish I wish they had not deleted the heart-to-heart talk between Saimdang and her oldest son, because of the profound message that it carried. And I am surprised they deleted the scene where she finds the lipstick mark. I guess it will just go directly to her catching them at the tavern. 

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Chapter 27 has to be the longest chapter yet, bringing us through MCH's deal with the Japanese, to Saimdang's kidnapping, MCH's death, Gyeom's confrontation with Jungjong and at last, the lovers' reunion at Mt. Geumgang, and the fateful burning of the paintings. The events are familiar, yet dissimilar. Saimdang left no painting for Gyeom on Mt. Geumgang, nor was there any mention of the second Biikjo seal that he carved secretly for her, or any paintings they might have done together on Mt. Geumgang. Here too, we see Gyeom specifically say that he would be like the moon that stayed beside the sun... thus confirming the theory that Gyeom was the moon to Saimdang's sun after all, one who was condemned to be alone. Just as heartbreaking is how desperately Gyeom fought to save the paintings in front of Saimdang, and having to hear her decision from her own lips, without a glimmer of hope that she wished they might be together in the next life, once again reaffirming to me that  Gyeom in the novel suffered even more than in the drama.



Novel Vol 2: Part 5 Fallen
Chapter 27


1. Hwieumdang stared at her haggard reflection in the mirror, bruises at the corners of her eyes and traces of blood on her lips. Since his return from exile, there was not a moment when MCH was like a normal person. If he was not drunk with wine, he would be drowning in drugs. The moment he started drinking, he would either beat her up or destroy everything in sight, leaving her to clean up the mess after him. The costs of wine, drugs, furniture, and bribes to government officials all fell on Hwieumdang's shoulders.
Short of her own body, she had sold everything of value to the Japanese who had infiltrated into Hanyang, including items she secretly stole during her visits to the palace. When she was first appointed as Princess Jeongsun's personal tutor, she thought that everything would be restored to the way it was. However, she was gravely mistaken. There was not even the slightest glimmer of hope to be seen in the man who expected everything to fall on his lap without lifting a finger. Her only hope now rested on her children, and all that they had lost could be recovered if Ji Kyun and Ji Seong topped the state examinations.


2. With her reflection in the mirror, Hwieumdang began to apply her make-up. It was almost time for her sons to go to school and she would not permit her desolate appearance to be revealed to them. She applied white loess powder at the corners of her eyes to hide the bruises, and rouge made from safflower flowers to her lips to give it a dazzling red colour, hiding her wounds. Her make-up done, she lifted her hand to her hair to put on the pearl hairpin. Just then she caught sight of a scar on her fingertip, almost imperceptible with the passing of time. Yet, the twenty year old scar on the back of her hand had been the driving force that pushed her to single-mindedly seek revenge on Saimdang and Gyeom.
It mattered not whether it was a person or talent. If it was something she could not possess, she would rather see it utterly destroyed. However, the moment she laid eyes on the royal portrait that Gyeom and Saimdang produced, a crack began to form in her heart once more. That was talent that she could never hope to attain, no matter how hard she tried, and in that instant, she was drained of all energy. Propelled by the fervent cries of the crowd, she had staggered blindly in the direction of her home. However, this time, there was no feeling of fury in her, instead tears streamed down, tears which she herself could not explain, pouring unceasingly from the recesses of her shattered heart.


3. After arranging her hair, she put down the mirror and removed a document from her sleeve, the "Warship Blueprint" that she had stolen from the Bureau of Paintings, containing the improved warship blueprints. The Japanese had promised untold riches as long as she could procure this document, and when she opposed MCH's decision, she was reprimanded by him for several days and nights. This was no longer mere theft, but turning traitor and plotting against the country, and she protested vehemently until he held a sword to her neck. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Hwieumdang could only sneak into the Bureau of Paintings and appropriate the document. However, she still could not bring herself to hand the document over to her husband, realising that one false move would cost her and her sons' lives.


4. Furious at the realisation that Ji Kyun had skipped school and gone to Yangryu Paper Mill, Hwieumdang hurried over. Festivities were underway to celebrate Saimdang's achievement, and Hwieumdang looked around, fervently hoping that the servants were mistaken. At the sight of her son laughing happily with Saimdang's children, Hwieumdang's blood shot to her head and she stormed towards the boy, who stiffened when he saw his mother approaching. Grabbing ahold of his wrist, she dragged him out without a word while Ji Kyun, stunned, did not even realise that he had dropped a shoe, merely complying dumbly. Saimdang who was busy distributing steamed rice cakes, stopped when she saw them.
"Are you insane? What are you doing here instead of going to school?" Hwieumdang berated Ji Kyun the moment they stepped out of Yangryu Paper Mill.
"I came to offer my congratulations!"
"Whatever for?"
"What's wrong with congratulating a friend on a happy occasion?" Ji Kyun shook off his mother's hand and retorted in anger. 

In the three years that he was tossed from one relative to another after his family fell out of favour, Ji Kyun had had to endure all kinds of taunts in the Central District School. Those who once stood by his side and claimed to be his friends, now turned around and sneered at him all day long. He no longer cared about his education, until one day, just when he began entertaining thoughts of suicide, it was Hyun Ryong who held on to his hand.
"Friend?" Hwieumdang could barely speak out of anger. Three years ago, Ji Kyun and Hyun Ryong were arch-enemies at the Central District School, and it was because of this that she had Hyun Ryong removed from the school. To think that they now called each other friends! What exactly had happened to her son that things turned out this way!
"Do you know what I want, Mother?"
"What on earth are you talking about?"
"Do tell me."
"Passing the state exam, of course."
"You know nothing at all, absolutely nothing!" Ji Kyun stomped his foot in anger.
"For whom have I endured so much up to now!"
"I never begged you for anything! We never sat down to have a peaceful meal together... are we truly a family? My wish is to have a happy, peaceful meal with my family, that is all!"
"You brat!" Hwieumdang raised her hand up in fury.
"Excuse me! You dropped this!" Just then, Saimdang approached with Ji Kyun's shoe in her hand.
Shocked and embarrassed, Hwieumdang's hand froze in midair and she glared. Seemingly oblivious, Saimdang walked over to Ji Kyun then kneeling down, brushed off the dirt from the shoe and wore it on the boy's foot. At her actions, Hwieumdang's hand fell weakly to her side. Gasping out of breath, Hyun Ryong who had rushed out, carefully watched Hwieumdang's expression before pulling Ji Kyun's hand and running off. Hwieumdang was disgusted to see her son run off without a backward glance, leaving her with no way to face Saimdang.
"It is such a comfort to see Ji Kyun and Hyun Ryong getting along so well," Saimdang quietly spoke as she brushed the dirt from her hands.
"What are you trying to say?" Hwieumdang's anger remained unabated.
"Come to think of it, the children are better than us adults. I too have many faults, unable to set aside my grudge towards you, never even trying to understand what had caused you so much hurt. If I had hurt you in the past, please forgive me. I too will try to do the same."
"Is this your compassion towards someone weaker?" Hwieumdang snorted in contempt.
"I am very sorry if you feel that way, please forgive me! Flowing water would often encounter potholes in its path, which it has to fill to the brim before continuing its flow, isn't that right? No matter how wide the gap between us, we should try to bridge it. Let us think of our children only. You and I are both mothers after all, aren't we?"
Hwieumdang knew that Saimdang's words were sincere, for thus was her nature, one who would still risk her life to save others despite facing grave danger herself. And it was exactly her character that incurred her utmost hatred. Not waiting for her to finish speaking, Hwieumdang spun around and walked off, eyes filled with tears. She wanted desperately to scream and let out her anger, but as the gaping hole tore at her heart, her tears would not stop falling. Terrified of being seen crying in such a manner, she dared not even reach out to wipe her tears.
At last, having sufficiently calmed down, she returned home, only to be met by the sight of MCH's drunk state and the destruction he had wrought in the home. Ji Kyun's words "I wish to have a happy, peaceful meal with my family" immediately resurfaced in her mind.


5. Each time dusk fell, MCH's emotions began to boil, unable to control his fury. It was these moods that drove him to drink and drugs, without which the unbearable pain he suffered was equivalent to throwing himself against the wall to kill himself.
As autumn drew to an end, the fields had transformed into a vast expanse of land, the falling leaves leaving behind bare branches on the trees. Soon winter would be upon them and the seasons would continue to change. However, MCH's experiences over the past three years had etched the cold of winter deep within his heart, which remained even now.
The subtle fragrance of alcohol and cloying scent of rouge from the gisaengs filled the streets. Like a vagabond, MCH staggered along, until he suddenly came face to face with shadowy figures, the gats shielding the faces of Jungjong and the Royal Security Attaché. MCH followed them into a secluded lane.
"Another person's hand is needed in order to lure a snake from its den. This time round, I want to use yours," Jungjong spoke up.


6. "Ah! Ah! Ah!"
A woman's piteous cries broke out from the back alley of Soojinbang, followed by the sounds of running feet and someone being dragged off, yet no one could be seen leaving the alley. It was thus that Saimdang was kidnapped by MCH and the Japanese.


7. Hwieumdang, her face covered by a veil embroidered with black peonies, watched from afar at the brightly lit courtyard of Biikdang. The rustle of dried leaves falling in the wind was akin to the faint sounds of weeping by someone sitting desolately among the trees. What loss could have brought about such grief; what missed opportunity could have caused such sorrow? Hwieumdang reached out to grasp the branch beside her tightly then released her hold, causing it to shudder momentarily before returning to its original position. She slowly controlled her emotions as the tears that welled in her eyes fell. Then, drawing the bow, she shot an arrow into the air.
Carried by the wind, the arrow lodged itself in the pole of the pavilion in the courtyard. Gyeom who was taking a walk by the lily pond under the moonlight was shocked to discover the arrow and the message tied to it. "MCH has kidnapped Saimdang as a trap to lure Prince Euisung there. If you fell for it, both of you would die. The Japanese pirates are also involved and the stolen Warship Blueprints will soon fall into the hands of the Japanese." As Gyeom read, his hands began to tremble violently. Summoning Hoo, he ordered him to deliver the message to the Crown Prince, after which he drew his sword from the study and flew off on horseback.


8. "The one who sent you to kill me, was His Majesty?" Whatever answer MCH might have given was lost when an arrow shot threw the air and pierced his heart, cutting his life short. MCH's eyes rolled backwards, and blood spurted from his throat, his body shuddering violently before falling backwards. Seeing the man who had lived his life with greed meet such an end, Gyeom could not help breaking into a cold sweat. 
From the hands of the Japanese, Gyeom retrieved the warship blueprints and instructed the soldiers to search for Saimdang. As night fell, thunder rumbled and rain began to pour in torrents, against which the burning torches began to wan. Where could Saimdang be? Was she still alive? Stretching out the fingers that he could not even see in the pitch black darkness, Gyeom continued to call out her name.
Stepping over muddy terrain, the deafening thunder reverberating in the ears, Gyeom traversed the mountains multiple times looking for Saimdang. At last in the depth of the mountains, he discovered an encampment. His sword outstretched, he approached the camp only to be met with bodies of Japanese pirates who were shot down by arrows. Could the solders have already covered this area?
With unhuman strength, he pushed open its doors. Apart from a Japanese slumped against the wall covered with blood, there was no sign of Saimdang. Rope once tied around the pillar was strewn on the floor, evidence that Saimdang had been held captive here before. An arrow protruded from the neck of the man.
"Where is Saimdang?" Gyeom threw the question to the man.
"Saimdang! The woman who was here, where has she gone?"
"Hwieumdang... saved her... help me." The Japanese coughed out blood as he replied.
Gyeom raised his eyebrows in disbelief. Suddenly he recalled the message on the arrow in Biikdang and recognised its head to be identical to the one on the Japanese. Could that woman really have saved Saimdang?
As the man continued to beg Gyeom to save him, the latter reached out and pulled out the arrow without hesitation. His body jerked in pain for a moment, then his eyes slowly closed. After covering his body with a straw mat, Gyeom turned and walked out. The storm that raged earlier, had finally stopped.


9. With a blood-stained sword in hand and a face as white as a sheet, Gyeom walked down the dark, eerie corridors of 康寧殿 Gangnyeung Palace step by step. The Royal Security Attaché stood at the end of the corridor, blocking his advance.
"Put down the sword." The Royal Security Attaché raised his sword to Gyeom who appeared not to have heard a single word.
"Put down the sword." Rather than complying, Gyeom tightened his grip on the sword instead.
"Let Prince Euisung enter." Jungjong's voice came from within the quarters.
Pushing the doors open, Gyeom entered. Just then the Royal Security Attaché struck Gyeom's sword aside. In that instant, the eyes of the two men met. The Royal Security Attaché withdrew his gaze first, and with a meaningful look, stepped aside.
In the gloomy quarters illuminated by a single candlelight, Jungjong sat on the bed.
"Have you come to claim my life? Or have you come to lose yours?" At the sight of Gyeom who looked like a ghost, Jungjong's eyes were cold.
"Having come all the way here, I had no thought of leaving alive!" Gyeom walked up to the king without any hesitation and sat down.
"Saimdang and I... why do this to us?" Outrage and depression laced his voice.
"Do you really not know?"
"Your Majesty... didn't you once say that I was your closest brother and most precious friend?"
"Yes... we had those times once!"
"Didn't you say that you could not find someone with whom you could let down your guard and discuss state matters with? Didn't you once say that you missed me so much! Didn't you say that I was the only one whom you could confide in? Why did you do it?"
"You went against me with your actions."
"I never had any designs on the throne, nor have I instigated a revolt or planned a rebellion. Isn't that so?"
"I once warned you not to interfere in political affairs. By ignoring my warnings, it was your own careless misconduct that has brought you to this!"
"How could you continue to cover your ears and eyes? Could you not hear the young scholars' counsel and the people's earth-shattering cries!"
"Being surrounded by cunning ministers, I have endured humiliation and fear in order to protect my throne. I have done this for 40 years! Do you know why? This is because of deposed king Yeonsan. Even a king could be dethroned and killed by his own subjects. I saw this with my own two eyes."
"Would you continue to live under the shadow of the deposed king even now?"
"You! What effrontery! How dare you insult me!" At his words, Jungjong flew into a rage and trembled uncontrollably. Reaching under his mattress, he drew out a sword and slashed it towards Gyeom's face. With his bare hands, the younger man caught the blade of the sword and blood began to drip from them.
"You brought this all upon yourself. I was merely trying to protect the foundations of this country, and my dignity as the king."
"That is utter nonsense! Is your dignity so important that it warranted sacrificing the lives of innocent people for it?" With a flourish, Gyeom forcibly snatched the sword away from Jungjong and held it against the king's neck. This was it. There could be no other outcome. Gyeom's face was pale and filled with dismay, tears flowing from his bloodshot eyes while Jungjong glared at him with eyes filled with rage.
"Uncle, please don't!" The doors of the palace suddenly burst open and the Crown Prince rushed in, tears streaming down his face. He continued to beg for his father's life as he stood before Gyeom's sword, and the hand holding the weapon began to shake.
"Uncle! He is my father. Please spare my father's life! I beg you, please stop..." His grief-stricken eyes held Gyeom's gaze and he choked on his tears. The future of Joseon was weeping. The sword fell from Gyeom's hand to the ground, and turning, he dragged his feet into the unending darkness of the outer corridors, like he would never look back.
"I will take back everything I have ever given to you. I will snatch away everything that you want to protect! You just wait and see. Next time, I will let you die a slow, painful death!"
Gyeom's retreating figure cast a long shadow, gradually disappearing like a dream, while Jungjong's spiteful words carried, following unceasingly at its heels.


10. Three or four days had passed since the events on Choan mountain. As autumn drew to a close, the weather gradually turned cold, and the wilderness took on a barren appearance, while frost settled on the farmlands. Saimdang stared absently at the grey skies and the clouds that gathered as she walked, looking back every now and again at Hwieumdang's sons Ji Kyun and Ji Seong who tailed behind her with grief-stricken eyes.
"My overwhelming hatred for you even exceeds the pain of death. However, I know that now, you are the only one in this world that I can trust. Please take care of my sons, my poor children." These were Hwieumdang's parting words to her.
"Because of their father, I will not be able to escape death. There is no way I can avoid the punishment for crimes of being in league with the Japanese, plotting against the country. In that case... please bring up my children, and help them obtain a government post!" Hwieumdang wept as she loosened Saimdang's bonds, entreating her to leave quickly without a backward glance, and save her pitiful children. Her heart choked with sorrow, Saimdang went to Ji Kyun and Ji Seong who had become orphans in the space of a night, their faces streaked with tears.
"From here on you are my children. Seon, Mae Chang, Hyun Ryong and Wu will definitely accept both of you." Saimdang reached out and wiped their tears. Perhaps it was the warmth they felt from her touch, for the boys started to tear up once more, upon which Saimdang opened up her arms and held them both in a tight embrace for some time to comfort them. In the far distance of the hills, Saimdang caught a glimpse of Hwieumdang.
"Hwieumdang, if we could meet again in the next life, I hope we could become kindred spirits and closest of friends." Saimdang thought wordlessly as she gazed towards Hwieumdang's direction.
Could the wind have carried Saimdang's thoughts with it, for Hwieumdang seemed to understand and nodded her head. Saimdang then instructed Ji Kyun and Ji Seong to kneel down and bow towards their mother in the distance before leaving reluctantly. If they managed to survive, there was a chance they would meet again one day with the slow passing of time. In that instant of grief and hopelessness, all hatred dissipated, to be replaced by the hope of surviving in anticipation of that reunion.
Seon, Mae Chang, Hyun Ryong and Wu all accepted the two brothers with open arms without asking for any further explanation, saying only that that they should get along like a real family and lead their lives together from here on. Saimdang broke into a satisfied smile to see her children's behaviour and got up, intending to steam some sweet potatoes for the children as a snack. Just then, Hyang burst into the courtyard, out of breath, saying, "My lady, there is trouble."


11. In the novel, Saimdang gave the drifters the deeds to lands in their hometowns and sent them on their way after Yangryu Paper Mill was shut down. In the drama, the drifters had already left with their land deeds before Gyeom confronted Jungjong and Yangryu Paper Mill was closed.


12. Alone in the mill at last, Saimdang took in the state of destruction that was left, and the tears she had held in for so long finally fell. Collecting herself with difficulty, she turned around and left.
Without realising it, night had fallen and Saimdang's sleeves fluttered in the night wind. A bunch of drunk ruffians staggered towards her. Involuntarily reminded of her plight at the hands of MCH and the Japanese pirates, Saimdang was gripped with fear and quickly leaned face inward against the wall. 
"What was the reward for catching Prince Euisung?"
"But what crime has Prince Euisung committed?"
"They say it is treason, and he even tried to assassinate the king!"
At their words, Saimdang froze. Prince Euisung guilty of treason! Her mind drew a blank at the shocking news, unable to think. She must see him. Braving the cold wind, she hurried towards Biikdang, only to find that it had been sealed off and she could not open the doors. She peered through the cracks of the doors but saw nothing except dried leaves fluttering in the wind.
"Is anyone there? Is there really no one here?" Saimdang collapsed down the steps of Biikdang and began to sob, covering her mouth with her sleeves and weeping bitterly without a sound.
Things had come to such a state all because of me. If I had not started drawing; if I never became the painter of the royal portrait, all these would not have happened. Why was I so competitive? Why must I harbour such ambitions? Why did I beg the king to make this a country where dreams come true? Why did these arrogant, reckless lips utter such words. See what outcome this has wrought. Yangryu Paper Mill has been destroyed, while Gyeom is on the run for his life. Saimdang wept quietly, gasping for breath as she did so, beating her chest repeatedly. She could give up everything - the seeds of her delusional dreams could all be cast to the wind, consumed without a trace by the fire. If she could do this, dear God! Please save my man.


13. Saimdang had no idea how many days and nights she walked, relentlessly continuing on despite stumbling, falling, tripping over sharp tree branches. With muddied feet and a tear-streaked face, unaware of night or day, she walked in the direction of the summit of Mt Geumgang, each step taking her closer to 毘盧峰 Birobong Peak. Vast, majestic, filled with a mysterious aura, Mt. Geumgang and its twelve thousand peaks unfolded beneath her feet; the sight of the steep, savage mountains and wide, sweeping realm before her moved Saimdang to tears.
"I wish to visit Mt. Geumgang. It is really unfair that I cannot go there just because I am a girl." In her mind, the obstinate words she uttered in her youth when she first saw An Gyeon's Mt. Geumgang painting resurfaced. How true that for every beginning, there was an end. So this was the end of the road for everything! Saimdang wiped her years and gazed at Mt Geumgang with a resolute expression. The mountain breeze at Birabong Peak wrapped around her body, and it seemed she heard Gyeom's voice in the wind that caressed her cheeks and fluttered her sleeves, saying "It is okay. Everything will be fine." Was it her imagination? Saimdang slowly turned around, to Gyeom standing behind her like a dream.
"Prince Euisung..."
The tears that she had managed to dry with great effort welled in her eyes and began to fall once more. Eyes filled with compassion, Gyeom gazed at her and slowly walked towards her. Was this a dream or reality? As Saimdang reached out a trembling hand towards him, he broke into a sad smile and caught her hand, placing it upon his face, his hot tears flowing down her cold cold hand.
"Are you okay?"
"I am fine."
"Are you really okay?"
"It does not matter anymore."
They stood facing each other amid the quiet mountain breeze and the scarlet sunset that gradually descended. Then, taking the darkened mountain trail, they went up the mountain and came upon a small temple concealed within a lush forest. A monk approached from the temple and put his hands together in greeting, and led them to a room at the furthest end of the temple. He opened the door for them, revealing a darkened room with two pillows and two blankets neatly arranged, obviously mistaking them for husband and wife. Saimdang began to blush furiously while Gyeom let out an awkward cough. Things being what they were, they were too ill-at-ease to disabuse him of his misconception, so Saimdang walked resolutely to the furthest end of the room and unloaded her bundle. After a momentary hesitation, Gyeom followed and closed the door.
"Let me light the candle." Gyeom stuttered, as he sat hesitantly beside the door.
"I will prepare us some food!" With that, Saimdang got up and walked out of the room, upon which Gyeom finally breathed a sigh of relief. Never in all his years of wandering had he ever lost his presence of mind or been as nervous as he was right now, he who was unmoved even when a sword was held to his neck. As he lit the candle, he drew several deep breaths in an effort to try and calm himself.
After being accused of high treason and placed on the wanted list, Gyeom had managed to hide out in this place temporarily with Baek In Geol's help. However, in spite of a bitter hatred for Jungjong's betrayal, his anxiety for Saimdang made it impossible for him to flee. Upon receiving word that Yangryu Paper Mill was shut down, he had hurried to Saimdang's home, driven by a sense of impending doom.
Just as he was torn by indecision and dared not approach, worried that his appearance might cause awkwardness, he had suddenly noticed Hyang who was on her way back from doing the laundry. The moment she caught sight of him, she immediately threw the laundry basket aside and ran over to pour out all that had happened, sobbing as she did so. At the same time, she also told Gyeom how Saimdang had packed all her painting tools and headed for Mt. Geumgang.
Upon hearing this, Gyeom had immediately borrowed a horse from Baek In Geol and raced to Mt. Geumgang. No thoughts passed his mind save that he had to see her one last time before he died, properly look at her, and engrave her in his heart.


14. Saimdang pushed the door open and entered, carrying a simple meal of soft barley rice, and wild vegetables mixed with pickles. Since the soban (portable dining table) was meant for only one person, Gyeom did not pick up the spoon but lifted his head and looked at her.
"Please eat first! I will wait..." Saimdang rearranged the goreum on her clothes and stood up.
"Let us eat together! Like a normal couple." Gyeom quickly reached out and grabbed her hand.
Indecision wracked her for a while before she finally sat down by the soban. Smiling, Gyeom emptied the wild vegetables into another bowl, before taking half of his own rice and putting it in front of her. Then, appearing dissatisfied that Saimdang's rice had remnants of the gravy from the side dishes, Gyeom swapped his rice with hers. Faced with his unpretentious behaviour, still as straightforward as ever, Saimdang could not stop herself from laughing. At her laughter, Gyeom too joined in, and this time, they were able to settle themselves down.
In an instant, the perilous life of yesterday seemed to fade away into the distance. Had he braved the treacherous mountains and stormy seas, taken a journey fraught with danger just for this simple moment, to be able to sit down for meal with her under a single flickering candle light? The silence between them was precious, and they communicated wordlessly, as if any spoken word would shatter the bliss of the moment.
When dinner was over, they sat side by side below the balcony of the temple, admiring the moonlight. Time relentlessly moved on, and the brilliance of the full moon overlooked the treetops, looking almost like a sketch.
"What beautiful moonlight," Gyeom noted quietly.
"The moon suffers such loneliness, facing the dark night all by itself to light up the world." Her words were veiled with sorrow.
"Do you know that the moon is always waiting by the sun's side? I too will always stay beside you." Gyeom said teasingly. The words were meant to make her smile and ease her pain, but instead, her tears began to fall, crystal-clear tears streaming uncontrollably down her cheeks.
"Please get some sleep! You've been busy the entire day." Hastily wiping her tears, Saimdang walked back into the room.
"You are such a disappointment..." Gyeom scratched the back of his head and let out a sigh.


15. The moonlight that crept through the paper of the window shone on Gyeom's face where he sat, leaned against the wall. His body felt like it was being set on fire, his breathing laboured and rapid. Yet no movement could be detected from Saimdang who had turned in much earlier, not even the slightest breath was audible. Surely she was not dead? With extreme caution, Gyeom moved to where she slept and reached out his hand to check her breathing. Right at the moment, he felt her body start violently and stiffen. Narrowly knocking into her forehead, Gyeom withdrew his hand in a rush and fled back to lean against the wall with his knees drawn to himself once more, rubbing his face vigorously as he did so. The surrounding sounds seemed deafening, like the passion that both shamed him and left him at a loss. Abruptly, he got up and went outside. As he gazed at the moonlight, his heated body began to gradually cool down at last.
The mountain wind moaned amid the seemingly shifting landscape of the mountains. At the sound of the wind, Gyeom's eyes shot open in shock, and the robe slid off him onto the ground of the balcony. From the looks of it, Saimdang had covered him up yet he never even realised it, having fallen into such a deep sleep. He alighted hurriedly and picked up the robe, his gaze unconsciously falling on the stone stairs. Saimdang's shoes were gone. His mind went blank and he immediately threw open the door to the room. The room was arranged neatly, and there was no sign of Saimdang's bundle that had been placed in the corner. She had left! She was gone, just like that! Stumbling backwards, Gyeom whirled and dashed wildly into the darkness.
"Saimdang! Saimdang! Where are you? Saimdang!"
There was no light in the sky as Gyeom ran and cried out for her in panic and anxiety along the dark mountain trail. Just then, he saw pale smoke billowing upwards from Birobong Peak, and he ran without stopping towards its direction, uncaring of the branches that slashed his face as he ran.
There she stood in front of a blazing bonfire, throwing painting upon painting into the flames and watching them turn into ashes in an instant.
Gyeom tore past her towards the fire and reached into the licking flames with bare hands, trying desperately to save the paintings, just as if he was saving her from brink of death.
"What... what are you trying to do? Why are you doing this?" Gyeom roared as he gripped the partially burnt Mt. Geumgang painting in his hands. Tears flowed down Saimdang's pale face.
"I have to go back. That is the life I have chosen. I thought of taking your hand and running away with you, but if I did so, my children would always live their lives in shame. I don't believe I would be able to live as a mother who longs everyday for the children she abandoned. I choose to live as a mother, and I will never regret this decision. Therefore, please forget me! Saimdang the painter, is dead."
Saimdang took one step, two steps backwards, then with a gaze that conveyed her respect, she turned and departed. Just like that, Saimdang was gone, leaving Gyeom standing there, stunned and at a loss. With tears pouring down his face, he watched her retreating figure slowly disappear into the darkness until it was a mere dot in the distance. At last, he lifted his face to the heavens and howled in desolation.



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1. GMA7 SLD September 20 broadcast did not translate "Dianthus Chinensis" into Filipino but used the English phrases "China pink flower" and "China pink."


You can view the scenes of Eun-soo (Jason) buying the bracelet and giving it to Ji-yoon (Jillian) in Part 5 of http://celebtime.us/saimdang-september-20-2017-hd-replay-full-episode-watch-video/


2. I found two different paintings by Shin Saimdang on the topic of watermelons, pink, butterflies. and mice.


The painting on the left is at the Harvard Arts Museum since 1994, while the painting on the right is at the National Museum of Korea.


Based on the details of the butterfly and the direction in which it's flying, the painting in Ep. 21 SBS version used as its basis the painting in the National Museum of Korea.


The questions are, why would these two paintings be attributed to Saimdang? Is one of these paintings a forgery?


The Harvard Arts Museim says that the painting was once attributed to Yi Am but is now considered as Saimdang's work.


The National Museum of Korea describes the painting in its collection as "Attributed to Shin Saimdang."




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@gerrytan8063 Hi! Good to see you back again! :) Thank you for your kind words. Hopefully I will get the remaining chapters completed before you leave again... tall order but let's see if time permits.


@plainenglish You raise a good point, one that I had been wondering about as well. From my understanding, apart from royalty, women in Joseon were not permitted to have their own seals. As such, apart from the works which were owned by her descendants, how were works identified as hers, since there is no stamp on them @gerrytan8063 Would you be able to shed some light to this?

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"Hi! Good to see you back again! "


I will be off for 3 weeks to Australia in October with Mum


"Would you be able to shed some light to this?"


Joseon women especially Mistress of the Manor should have leisure seal (wood seal) known as "Nakwan (낙관, 落款), putting their seal in accounts or salary of servant or even acknowledgement of receipt for sundries like IOU, as for Saimdang not putting her seals on her paintings is that her painting were not meant for public viewing & she paints her painting at her leisure or as a tool of education to educate her children about nature


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@gerrytan8063 I see. Are all her known works which are being displayed, now the property of the museums which hold them, or merely on loan? If I remember correctly, her works were appreciated by later Joseon kings, so I wonder whether some of those belonged to the royal family at one time or another.

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"I see. Are all her known works which are being displayed, now the property of the museums which hold them, or merely on loan? If I remember correctly, her works were appreciated by later Joseon kings, so I wonder whether some of those belonged to the royal family at one time or another."


I think that Saimdang children could have kept her paintings


Yi Wu kept Saimdang's landscape painting until it was donated to the museum by his descendants

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Chapter 28 marks the final chapter of Part 5 Fallen. While shorter than the previous chapter, I probably ended up transcribing more than 90% of its contents, with the modern day events diverging further and further away from the drama. From how SJY's attention was drawn to Rubens' painting and the man in Korean costume, to the visions she saw, the dreams she had, the supernatural elements were far more pronounced here, and her conclusions as to Gyeom's journey to Italy and the need to ensure he did travel there brings us along a different narrative path. As such, I eagerly await the events of the last two chapters, not quite knowing what to expect of the journey that would bring us to the end of the road.



Novel Vol 2: Part 5 Fallen
Chapter 28

1. SJY put down Saimdang's memoirs and opened the window. Winter had enveloped the world outside in a white haze. Purposefully, she let out a deep breath and watched the pure white mist becoming as one with the snowy ground and slowly evaporate. She closed her eyes for some time before gradually opening them, needing time to digest the information; the events in the memoirs having drawn her in so much that they were indelibly etched in her mind, not fading with time.
In the memoirs, Saimdang had come to the pinnacle of her life, be it in her art, her suffering or her desolation, all having accumulated to insurmountable heights. What could have been going through the mind of the Saimdang who threw her art into the blazing flames of the fire? To an ordinary person, art remained outside of the normal day-to-day life. However, to an artist, her art was her life, and for an artist to burn her own works was no different from cremating herself. Saimdang must have wanted to throw herself into the fire along with her works, in the hopes of abandoning this life, and seeing it scatter into the wind. Unable to turn her back on the art that was in her blood, an undying passion that consumed her and was too much to bear for her weary heart, she must have hoped to just disappear from this life.
However, in spite of this, Saimdang was also a mother; mother to Seon, Mae Chang, Hyun Ryong and Wu, as well as foster mother to Ji Kyun and Ji Seong. Her motherhood was the reason she could not elope with Gyeom, nor abandon her own life. SJY could well understand Saimdang's feelings, and it was this heartwrenching empathy that saw her tears flowing now.
SJY closed the window to the balcony and laid down beside the sleeping Eun Soo. The sensation of warmth from her son's body, and the sounds of his gentle breathing at her ear gave her a sense of stability. She reached out to caress his soft cheeks, and planted a kiss on his forehead. Just as Saimdang chose to live for her children, it was her son who enabled her to continue on living. If not for Eun Soo, she could never have been able to rouse herself so quickly. "I love you, I love you." SJY whispered softly in his ear as she gradually drifted off to sleep.


2. In her dream, SJY wandered into a room with high ceilings and Western paintings hanging all over the walls. Sheer curtains swayed gently by the windows, painting tools were scattered all over a round table, and moonlight crept hazily through the windows. The sounds of a harpsichord being played carried into the room and echoed faintly. SJY could not explain why but the scene before her did not feel unfamiliar at all.
"Where is this place? Have I been here before?"
Just as these thoughts were running through her head, a man suddenly appeared like a illusion created by the moonlight. A man with a topknot and long flowing robes who seemed like he belonged in that place, was intently focused on his painting. It was a Joseon man. SJY slowly shifted her gaze to the painting he was working on, and the moonlight seemed to automatically zoom in and focus on the painting. It was Portrait of a Beauty!
Right then, SJY woke up with a start. The scene from her dream remained vividly before her eyes, clear as day. The Joseon man in a European-styled room, totally concentrated on painting the Portrait of a Beauty - that man could only be Saimdang's eternal love, Yi Gyeom. As the revelation hit her like a shock of electricity coursing through her entire body, Eun Soo cried out for her.
"Mother! Are you alright?"  His cries drew her back to reality.
SJY's eyes opened and focused, finally looking at her son. Eun Soo who had awoken earlier than her, was lying prone beside her, looking at a book of paintings.
"I am fine. What is our Eun Soo looking at?"
"This painting! Isn't it the painting Nello wanted so desperately to see in 'A Dog of Flanders' [a children's classic by Ouida]? However, Nello and Patrasche died in front of the painting in the end. It is so heartbreaking!" The book in Eun Soo's hand was of Rubens' paintings.
"Um... this work is called 'The Descent of the Cross'."
"The painting is so vivid."
"It is, isn't it? This is a special characteristic of Rubens' works. Light and shadows are especially defined in the colours he uses, and his lighting technique is excellent, even the smallest objects are lifelike in its details."
"Mother! There is even a man in Korean costume here! It appears to be someone from our country!" Eun Soo who had been scrutinising the paintings after hearing his mother's explanations, suddenly cried out in excitement.
The painting Eun Soo had been analysing was called "The Miracles of St. Francis Xavier". In it, St. Francis (a Christian missionary, also one of the Christian saints. Rubens' painting was in commemoration of St. Francis' missionary activities in India and Japan before he continued his evangelistic work in China) was clothed in black priest robes. As he preached before people of all descriptions, angels were depicted descending from the sky and destroying the idols, while the sick were healed and the dead made to rise again.
Eun Soo pointed out a person in the painting with his little finger - a man whose hair was tied up in a topknot, with a gat on his head, and wearing Joseon robes. As SJY looked carefully at the man with the Korean costume, the man whose face was lifted up to gaze at St. Francis in the painting, suddenly turned his head to stare intently at her. Overwhelmed by the illusion, she drew a sharp breath involuntarily and gasped.
"Mother, are you alright?" Eun Soo stared wide-eyed at his mother in panic.
"It's nothing, I'm sorry. I am fine." SJY smoothed her disheveled hair, calmed herself down and looked once more at the painting, but the painting had already reverted to its original state. Just then, her handphone rang. It was GHJ, informing her that the president of the Korean Art Association had contacted them, and an appointment had been made with him in the afternoon.


3. After their bitterly disappointing meeting with the president of the Korean Art Association, the three of them left in GHJ's car. At the sight of an art storage tube at the back seat, HSH threw a question to GHJ who was in the driver's seat.
"Both of you had taken out the Portrait of a Beauty?"
"It was high time it was ventilated. The painting would deteriorate if it continued to be kept in the vault. So we should just hand it over to Jiyoon." GHJ snuck a glance at SJY as she spoke. 
SJY nodded wordlessly and continued to look out the window. It was 7PM, the time when everyone was getting off work, and unending streams of people passed by outside. There would certainly be times when those people suffered unfair oppression and atrocities, and of these people, there would certainly be those who sought only their own benefits, with no regard for truth and shame. Good and evil would always coexist in this world, two faces of the same coin. As this depressing reality struck her, SJY let out a faint sigh, to which HSH gently patted her back.
"What do you think happened to Prince Euisung in the end?" At HSH's question, SJY's mind flew back to the Gyeom she saw in her dream, and Rubens' painting.
"Could he have gone to Italy? After all, that was where it all began, where I discovered Saimdang's memoirs and the Portrait of a Beauty." SJY murmured uncertainly.
"Italy? Surely that is too far-fetched?" GHJ stepped on the brakes, stunned.
SJY had expected their reactions since she herself was at a loss to explain it as well. Her dreams, visions, hallucinations and blind conjectures, the scenes that played out before her eyes were pieces that could not be explained by science, and her mind was confused. She needed time to properly collect her thoughts.
"That's true! That was not the era of trade with Italy... The first European to step on Joseon soil was Father Cespedes, but that was in 1593!" HSH shook his head in incomprehension. Silence fell upon the three of them like a misty blanket. Before they knew it, the car had arrived at the entrance of Ogin-dong.
"All of you must be tired, so quickly go home and get some rest! Let's meet again on Monday morning to discuss what our next course of action should be!" GHJ told them as she parked her car in front of the apartment block.
"Morning? Don't you need to work, sunbae?" HSH asked while retrieving his bag.
"Didn't I mention it before? I have lost my job," GHJ replied matter-of-factly.
"What?" SJY and HSH exclaimed simultaneously.
Almost like telling someone else's story, GHJ described how without a word of explanation, the museum director forcibly terminated her employment, citing the completion of preservation management and investigation analysis activities.
"Surely it couldn't be... Prof. Min's doing again?" SJY's face was ashen.
"Who else could it be? He must have pulled some strings!"
"Hyejung ah..." SJY's expression towards GHJ was extremely apologetic.
"That's enough. I did not say anything previously exactly because I was afraid you would think this way. Aren't such minor situations to be expected for the sake of justice? Am I not right, Han Sang Hyun?" GHJ broke into a wide smile when she addressed HSH. He in turn gave her a pat on the back before alighting from the car. SJY's heart was heavy as she gazed at GHJ, who wordlessly broke into a warm smile and returned her gaze.
"Everything will be fine, don't worry. Eun Soo is waiting, hurry up and go in!" GHJ placed the storage tube in her hands and urged her to go.
SJY stood for a long time at the entrance of the lane, staring at GHJ's car as it drove off. Was there really no way that she could win in this fractured situation? Must she really admit defeat? Above her head, the lamp light began to flicker, then suddenly shattered with a deafening sound.


4. Asst. Nam mused what he could do if he had 1 billion won. Undoubtedly he could afford to leave this hated basement which cost him a 500K won deposit and 20K won monthly rent! No, more than that, he could at least enable his aged father who suffered from rheumatism to stop working as a security guard of an apartment building, and live comfortably in his remaining years! He could also help his younger brother who worked hard every day at his job to pay off his education loan. On top of that, he could be free of Prof. Min, no longer having to live with the disgust of doing criminal deeds. As these thoughts turned in his head, Asst. Nam laughed bitterly.
Earlier, after delivering cash amounting to 1 billion won to the Korean Art Association president in an energy drink box, he had promptly thrown up uncontrollably in the washroom. His condition had been going on for several months, and despite undergoing all kinds of tests, all the doctors concurred that there was nothing wrong with him physically. Instead they advised him to seek psychological help since they believed the cause was due to immense psychological stress that gave way to uncontrolled retching and breakout of hives. Nonetheless, Asst. Nam was extremely aware what the real cause was. As he recalled HSH's words, his whole body broke out in hives, feeling as if a swarm of unseen bees were crawling all over his body. Asst. Nam scratched furiously at his body until it was covered with angry welts like red ants.
It must stop immediately. I did not do put my all into my research just to end up like this. he told himself. Reaching for the bag he had thrown to the floor, he took out his handphone and navigated to an audio recording. Prof. Min's voice spoke up:
"How is it possible for Min Jung Hak to burn the real Mt. Geumgang painting? I was only showing you who's boss!"
Asst. Nam scrolled down the contacts until he reached SJY's. With a sigh, he attached the audio recording and pressed resolutely on the send button.


5. At the same moment, SJY was sitting at the study table, trying to piece together the Portrait of a Beauty and the events in Saimdang's memoirs. What exactly had happened after Saimdang and Gyeom parted at Mt. Geumgang? Saimdang who had resolved to abandon her life as an artist and dedicate herself to being a mother, would surely have returned to Soojinbang. In that case, where had Gyeom gone to? SJY had gone over "The Veritable Records of King Jungjong" in its entirety, but there was no mention of Yi Gyeom who had been responsible for the royal portrait. How had the Portrait of a Beauty and Saimdang's memoirs ended up in Italy? The paper with John Donne's poem within the pages of Saimdang's memoirs - what did it mean? Who was the man wearing Korean costume in Ruben's painting?
"Our two souls therefore, which are one, Though I must go, endure not yet. A breach, but an expansion, Like gold to aery, thinness beat."
SJY recited John Donne's poem in a low voice. Was it possible there were certain truths which diverged from the facts of science and history, only visible in a subsconscious, unpredictable realm? A realm of the soul which could not be described by mere feelings; certain dreams and hallucinations which could not be proven with logic; perhaps these only existed within the confines of imagination. Nonetheless, she had no way to persuade the entire world based on such grounds, nor be able to use them to recover the Mt. Geumgang painting, much less topple Prof. Min from his post as chancellor.
SJY sighed in frustration then picked up and gazed at the Portrait of a Beauty. Under the faint light of the lamp, Saimdang in the painting gazed at at SJY with distressed eyes as well as a sense of urgency. This was something SJY had never felt previously. Had the painting changed? Or had her view of the painting changed? She could not tell.
Intending on casting aside such thoughts, she held the painting up for a closer look. Her ears picked up the delivery notification of an email on her phone. The email was abrupt with no contents save for an attachment, which was a voice recording of Prof. Min. SJY replayed the recording over and over, and her initial bewilderment gave way to a sliver of hope, like a balloon which slowly inflated after being blown. It was 6:30AM and through the grey mist, a hazy light appeared, gradually clearing away the darkness of the previous night. Opening up a new window, SJY entered the email address of Director Sun.


6. It was 3PM by the time Director Sun read her email. The contents merely stated that once the truth of the genuine Mt. Geumgang painting was made known to the media, there would be no way to save the situation. As such she should announce as soon as possible that the Mt. Geumgang painting on display at Sun Gallery was a forgery, thus cutting her losses to protect herself.
SJY would never make empty threats, so she must have gotten ahold of irrefutable evidence that the real Mt. Geumgang painting still existed. Director Sun thought things through carefully. Prof. Min was a conniving person. Could he have forged the real Mt. Geumgang painting and had it burnt, then hidden the genuine painting? Slapping her forehead, Director Sun viciously dialed her husband's number.
"Didn't I tell you not to depend on that fellow Prof. Min? He did not burn the real Mt. Geumgang painting. It was just a big act for our benefit!" Director Sun barked out each word into the phone.
"What nonsense are you talking about?" On the other end of the line, Chairman Heo too raised his voice.
"That was merely Prof. Min's scheme to pull wool over our eyes." Having said her piece, Director Sun hung up.
For a long time, Chairman Heo stared at the disconnected phone with a preposterous expression. It is said that 胳臂往裡彎 "The arm bends inwards". No matter how much he detested this woman, he could not disregard her words lightly. He immediately made a call to Prof. Min.
"Min Jung Hak, did you not burn the real Mt. Geumgang painting? Why are there such rumours flying around!"
"Chairman, what are you saying?"
"Shut up! The moment the authenticity of the Mt. Geumgang painting is ascertained, your downfall is at hand since you signed the certification of authenticity! Have you not heard of the saying 兔死狗烹 'Cook the hounds once all the hares are bagged' [trusted aides are eliminated when they have outlived their usefulness]?" Without waiting for his answer, Chairman Heo hung up angrily.
"How on earth did he find out? How did this fellow figure out the real Mt. Geumgang painting still exists!"
Prof. Min muttered repeatedly, glaring at the phone as he did so. The truth regarding the continued existence of the real Mt. Geumgang painting was only known to him and his assistants, and he never even mentioned it to his wife, fiercely guarding the secret. His suspicions aroused, he wondered if the forger was the one who leaked the information. Throwing another glance at his phone, he strode out the chancellor's office and headed for the research lab, needing to verify for himself that the painting was still safely in his possession.


7. He pushed open the door leading to the secret room in the research lab, and removed a large painting from the wall to reveal a safe. Upon entering the security code, the door of the safe opened with a swish. Prof. Min's face was ashen the moment he verified its contents.
"Mt. Geumgang painting.... my Mt. Geumgang painting!"
Hysteria edged Prof. Min's voice and his mind was in turmoil. Hands shaking, he picked up his phone and called Asst. Moon, yelling at him to show up immediately. Soon after that, Asst. Moon arrived, barely able to catch his breath.
"Were you looking for me, Chancellor?"
"This... the Mt. Geumgang painting that was originally here... where has it gone to?" Prof. Min roared at his assistant.
"The Mt. Geumgang painting... is really missing?" Asst. Moon paled as he surveyed the empty safe.
"Where is Asst. Nam?"
"I-I do not know..."
"Track him down and find out what had happened. And bring me the CCTV footage of the lab, and figure out who has been in and out of here. Hurry up!"
"Yes!" Asst. Moon dashed out the door immediately.
"The person who would dare do this to me... Seo Jiyoon, it can only be her, this arrogant woman!" Prof. Min slammed the door of the safe in fury and called SJY.
"Is anything the matter?" At the first ring, SJY's voice answered, as if she had been expecting his call.
"Seo Jiyoon, you!" His grip tightened on the phone, as if grabbing hold of her collar.
"Why are you yelling over the phone. I am not deaf yet, so please lower your voice."
"What have you done to my Mt. Geumgang painting?"
"What Mt. Geumgang painting? If you are referring to the one which certification of authenticity you falsified, that painting is still on display in Sun Gallery, and there are talks of it being designated as a national treasure." SJY's mocking remarks serving to reaffirm Prof. Min's suspicions.
"No matter what you have set in motion behind my back, return the painting to me at once! The real Mt. Geumgang painting!"
"Aiya! Wasn't the real Mt. Geumgang painting already burnt? Are you then saying that the Mt. Geumgang painting in your possession is the genuine article! The one you hijacked from me, and later burnt in the director's office, was a forgery? Of course, Prof. Min has always been been an expert in forgeries!"
"Cut out the crap, I am telling you to return the real Mt. Geumgang painting to me!"
"I am no longer your student and have not been for some time. So you can quit the threats and accusations!"
With that, SJY hung up, Prof. Min's outraged roar still ringing in her ears. She navigated to the audio recordings - their conversation had been recorded in its entirety. Even if it had no standing in the court of law, its contents, coupled with the audio recording from the email, would be more than sufficient to be revealed to the media for public review. Just in case, she backed up copies of the recordings on her phone and computer.


8. Just then, her phone rang. It was from Eun Soo, saying that he would be staying on a while longer at his friend's house, only coming home after dinner. SJY checked the time on the clock upon the wall - it was past six in the evening.
"In that case, I will go and fetch you at 8PM. The roads will be dark later, so don't come home by yourself. Just wait there, okay?" Following his mother's instructions, Eun Soo put down the phone.
After all the upheaval at home, Eun Soo found it difficult to acclimatise himself with school life. Then, one day during school extra curricular activities, he got to know a friend whom he could talk to. The boy Ha Yun was quite good in art, so both of them bonded over common interests and similar personalities. Eun Soo was always animated each time he mentioned Ha Yun, which set SJY's mind at ease. In life, one could be hurt by others, but similarly, one could also derive comfort from others. If one could find friends whom they could get along extremely well, even if it was just one, that person would become a source of great comfort.
Before leaving to fetch Eun Soo, SJY cooked herself a packet of ramen for dinner. Suddenly the doorbell rang. She quickly went to the front door and asked who it was, but did not hear an answer. To be on the safe side, she hooked the security chain on the latch before opening the door. There was no one there, only an express delivery box placed on the floor. Stepping outside, she stared at the box - there were no sender details. She picked it up and looked around, confirming that there was no one there. Nonetheless her heart continued to slam nervously against her chest.
SJY brought the box into the living room and bent her head to stare at it, as if faced with Pandora's box. The box was sealed with layers of transparent tape. Would the contents bring hope or disaster? No matter what, she would have to open it to find out. There was no other way. Drawing a deep breath, SJY ripped off the tape.


9. "Ahhh..."
SJY fell down on the floor of the living room in shock, unable to believe her eyes that it was the genuine Mt. Geumgang painting inside the box. With trembling hands, she spread it open. Gyeom and Saimdang's poem, the Biikjo seal, the burn marks from the fire on Mt. Geumgang, it was all there. She put down the painting and ran out the door once more, wanting to know who had put hope in her hands, but there was no one there.
Going back inside, SJY forced herself to calm down, then holding up the Mt. Geumgang painting, she looked at it over and over again. Suddenly hope and excitement rekindled within her, but it seemed as if she was suffering from hypoglycemia, her whole body weak, her hands shaking uncontrollably, and she could not decide what to do next.
"Calm down, calm down," she told herself repeatedly as if reciting a mantra before placing the Mt. Geumgang painting side by side with Portrait of a Beauty. Right at that moment, the Portrait of a Beauty started becoming hazy, almost as if it had been gently wiped off by a pair of unseen hands. SJY could scarcely believe the scene that played out before her eyes. Rubbing her eyes with cold hands, she opened it once more and confirmed what she saw. She began to switch the lights on and off neurotically, even shaking the Portrait of a Beauty vigorously, but the blurred Saimdang in the painting gradually faded.
"Please save him." The voice of a weeping woman was suddenly heard, and SJY lifted her head to look around in shock.
"I beg you, please save Prince Euisung. Let me take on the suffering in his stead!"
As the desolate voice carried clearly to her ears, SJY covered them with both hands and lowered her head to look at the Portrait of a Beauty. The woman in the painting looked as if she would step outside it, while the ancient manuscripts began to roll up. Just then, a gust of wind turned the pages of Saimdang's memoirs, finally stopping at John Donne's Valediction poem.
"Yi Gyeom will die soon... I must save him, I must save him and send him to Italy. That's right. Yi Gyeom survived, and went to Italy. That must have been where he met Xavier. This is the only way... this is the only way that I can see the Portrait of a Beauty and Saimdang's memoirs once more. But... what should I do? How can I save him?"
SJY was frantic and babbled incoherently as she paced up and down. Suddenly the lights that were working fine a moment ago began to flicker as if someone was shaking them, similar to the strobe lights of a night club before going dark with a crash.

Feeling her way around in the darkness, SJY reached for her phone and pressed its button, and a ray of light broke through. 7:40PM. The moment she saw the time, she finally got a grip on herself, remembering the time she agreed upon with her son.


10. In a rush, SJY put on her coat and rushed out the door, disoriented. It was only when she reached the bus stop that she noticed something strange. There was not a soul on the streets, the eerie silence unexplainable on a weekend. The shops near the bus stop were all closed, and every signboard was dark. SJY shoved her cold hands into her coat pocket and shrank back to see fog curling at her feet. Blue-green fog covered the entire road, and she was struck by a sense of déjà vu.
"What is this? I have definitely experienced this before, green fog." Bemused, SJY pushed the strands of hair back from her eyes, trying to pinpoint the memory that eluded her. A single strand fell from her hand as she recalled the thick fog over Incheon Bridge which caused the car accident. As a result of the accident, SJY who narrowly escaped death took over Saimdang's body and experienced her life for a brief moment. Perhaps this green fog would now enable her to travel back in time to where Saimdang was.
Just then, the blinding headlights of a car cut through the fog. Raising her hand to block out the harsh light, she turned. Suddenly the sound of screeching tyres cut through the silence. SJY's body was thrown up in midair, but she felt no pain. Right before she lost consciousness, she heard someone scream "Mother!", the voice sounding very much like Eun Soo's cries.



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Last 4 or 5 days for SLD on GMA7 (Philippines); tonight's episode (10-11 PM) Saimdang and Lee Gyeom finally realize their teenage dream of painting together in Mount Geumgang.

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Am currently watching this drama after binge rewatching dae jang geum and I just wanted to watch anything with lee yong ae in 

And what a surprise

It's a perfect show

Am on episode 18 and I want it to last forever not only 28

Young ae hasn't changed a bit from dae jang geum days . The same beauty , elegance , innocence

SSH is really really handsome , I always hear negative comments about his acting potentials but I find him totally capable that I believe him and get immersed in their tragic love

The thing I enjoy most is how we see the same people in the past and present times with totally different appearances, costumes. it's clever and addicting

Plus the painting theme is beautiful

The OST is great

Actually on dramabeans they didn't like the show so I wasn't gonna watch it but I iam very happy I didn't listen to their opinions and watched it .. It's a GEM

I hope Lee young ae gives us another masterpiece,  she is out of this world seriously

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@mjfan Welcome! It is always such a joy to see someone else loving this underrated drama, so I am very glad that you chose to check it out for yourself. Definitely agree with all the points that you mentioned... and I hope that you find even more to love as you watch the remaining episodes. I noticed from the episode count you mentioned that you are following the SBS version. If you are able to, please do check out the original (international) version with 30 episodes, which has a far more balanced approach to both the events in the past and present timelines. As far as I know, the English-subbed international version is available on iflix. There is also a 2-volume novelisation by Park Eun Ryung, the scriptwriter, with official translated Chinese and Japanese versions available.


From what I read, LYA will be returning with another drama this year, while SSH's most recent project was Black. Having fallen in love with the amazing, unforgettable chemistry they gave us in Saimdang. I am holding out hope that one day, they will collaborate once more in the near future.

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After a long hiatus due to real life commitments, I finally managed to resume the transcript of the novel once more. With Chapter 29 the penultimate chapter of the final part Light's Diary, we are almost coming to the end. As with its predecessor, I find myself translating practically the entire chapter, as we are privy to more details, many of which diverge from the drama, from the family's fate during their house arrest, to Saimdang's meeting with SJY in her dream, to Gyeom's liberation, the far more emotional parting at the pier, and Saimdang's words of wisdom to all her children, paving the way for reconciliation with their father, and tying back to the gift of unfettered imagination Saimdang once gave her children in the same barren wasteland many years prior, when they could not see a light in their present hardships. 



Novel Vol 2: Part 6 Light's Diary
Chapter 29


1. In the hazy mist of dawn, Gyeom sat by the pond amid the ruins of Biikdang, carving a Biikjo seal, scrutinising the Biikjo seal he received from Saimdang in his youth on the one hand, and carefully chiseling away with a burin on the other. He felt no suffering, only desolation. He understood Saimdang's choice. If motherhood was the only thing that gave her the will to continue living, then his remaining years would be lived with the sole purpose of missing her. It was impossible to erase her from his existence, and it would always be so, even if his physical body was destroyed, and all that remained was his soul.
At last, he completed the Biikjo seal and placed the two seals neatly side by side on the ground. Biikjo, the bird which could soar high only when the male and female halves were together, was finally one body. Gyeom tied the two seals together with a string, and wore it around his neck before getting up. All fear of death was gone, and his heart was calm and unshaken like still water.
Carefully, he kept An Gyeon's partially burnt Mt. Geumgeang painting inside his robes, then stepped out of the courtyard, and into the streets. Those who recognised Gyeom snuck furtive glances at him, but he merely continued walking. Step by step he walked, carrying with him the memories of writing poetry on the Mt. Geumgang painting with Saimdang; treasuring the love that was engraved into the Biikjo seals. With each step he took, his yearning and love/hate towards this life lessened just a little more.
The gates of the palace opened eerily like the doors to hell itself. Gyeom approached the palace gates as if embarking on the road to the underworld. The palace guards aimed their lances at him.
"Who are you?"
"Go send word! Tell them the traitorous criminal Yi Gyeom is here!" Gyeom flung the gat on his head aside and shouted ferociously. Shocked at his demeanour, the palace guards shrunk back as Gyeom raised his head with a resolute expression.


2. Upon being dragged before the Department of Justice, Gyeom was immediately thrown into prison. Although it was midday, the prison was dim and dark, with only a handspan of light shining weakly through the small window on to his figure. Under the light, Gyeom's expression was extremely haggard. Just then the familiar rustling of footsteps approached his cell.
"Why did you return once more..." Jungjong's voice was sombre.
Gyeom lifted his head and fixed on Jungjong's face. The king's eyes were lifeless and empty. I am the one who has returned to die, yet why is your expression even more hollow? Gyeom lowered his gaze and quietly expressed his willingness to accept death.
"You say... you are here to accept your death sentence?"
"You insolent fellow! Death is not for you to decide, but for me to order! It is I who determine whether you live or die!"
"Let it be according to your will! Your Majesty..."
"According to my will?" Jungjong stared at Gyeom. Here was a criminal guilty of treason who was imprisoned, yet how could he still maintain such an imposing manner? As hatred seeped into his gaze, a woman's anguished cries carried from outside the prison.
"Please let Prince Euisung go! Please arrest me instead! Prince Euisung has done nothing wrong!"
It was Saimdang. Gyeom's expression was stunned and the man who had not wavered in the face of the king's decree, gradually collapsed at the sound of her weeping.
"It sounds so sorrowful! The cries of your lover..." At Jungjong's mocking smile, Gyeom's eyes welled up in tears.
"Please sentence me to death quickly, Your Majesty! Crimes of deceiving young people and deluding the world! Crimes of interfering in politics with my shortsighted ideas! Forming factions in Biikdang under the pretext of flourishing the arts of Joseon! I confess to them all! As such, I beg you not to harm Saimdang and her family... please protect them!"
Pleading and bowing prostrate before the king, Gyeom looked as if he would vomit blood. In the end, his life was but a flower that could only bloom once, falling by the roadside once it had withered. This he neither resented nor feared. At the peak of his life, he never once fully embraced or enjoyed it, so there was no need for bitter tears or regrets now that it had ended. Only you, please do not weep for me. Please do not suffer because of me. Henceforth, I will no longer be able to wipe away the tears you shed, so please cherish your tears. The words which Gyeom could not verbalise, could only find its expression in the tears that fell in reluctance at their parting.
"Yi Gyeom ah... I have no intention of touching that woman. However, I want her to live in agony for the rest of her life! I want her to live with guilt towards you who chose to sacrifice your life for her!"  At Jungjong's cold words, Gyeom's eyes filled with resentment.
"You would soon meet the demise you so desired, but ultimately, you would still not be able to die in peace!" Jungjong enunciated each word harshly, before turning on his heel and leaving.


3. After her pleas to Jungjong for Gyeom's life fell on deaf ears and Gyeom's sentence was pronounced, Saimdang cried bitterly until her voice was hoarse.
She had always thought that despite bitter regrets, her quiet endurance would bring about a peaceful life. Even if her body grew old and her spirit carried wrinkled scars, as long as she could endure the heart-wrenching suffering, shoulder the incredible hardships that bore down on her, the torment, sorrow and yearning could be buried deep within the crevices of her heart. This was the reason she hardened her heart to abandon it all, turn a blind eye to him and walk away. It was the only way to save you, and enable me to continue on living. So why did you come back into the jaws of danger? Why couldn't you given up on me, instead of choosing to embrace death because of me? What else do I need to give up in order to save you? If I prayed even more earnestly, would heaven hear my heart's cries? Or are my pleas always be lacking in sincerity? Heaven! You must let him live!
Saimdang gripped her chest tightly as tears streamed down her face. Just then, as if moved by her pleas, the skies were covered with dark clouds, and amid lightning and thunder, rain began to fall.
Her cries muffled by the falling rain, Saimdang bent over on the ground, her entire body trembling as she whimpered while the rain continuously beat down on her back. The prison guards had scrambled for cover at the sudden torrential rain. Only Saimdang's frail form bore the brunt of the downpour, until at last she collapsed, her consciousness melting away in the rain. 


4. White mist surrounded her in every direction, just like flawless anemone cathayensis blooms 銀蓮花, covering the landscape that appeared to be without end. What exactly was this? Was it hell or fantasy? Saimdang looked around, confused and disoriented, burst of flashes appearing before her eyes. Upon realising that her feet was stepping adrift the water surface, she panicked. Just then, she noticed a woman approaching from afar.
As each step brought the woman closer, Saimdang retreated involuntarily. The woman looked familiar, like someone she knew. Yet where had she seen her before? As Saimdang stared at her without blinking, it dawned on her - it was a mirror. That was the face she had seen before in the mirror. Comprehension washed over her. Although the hairstyle had changed, and the clothes were different, the woman standing before her eyes was clearly herself.
"Sai... Saimdang?" The woman moved her petal-like lips and spoke.
"Do you know me?"
"I... I guess I do. No, rather, I should say that I know you pretty well.."
Then am I dreaming right now?"
"I guess you could say that... yet it might not be a dream..." 
Hearing her ambiguous reply, Saimdang let out a faint sigh and continued her questions.
"In that case, who are you?"
"I am... I am from the distant future. Your diary brought me here."
"至哀至悲極天                        The wretchedness reaches the heavens
恨深而斷腸                             Deep hatred and agony
不捨晝夜                                wrack me day and night
肝枯血                                    and depletes my life

因為極深的哀傷                      Such immeasurable grief,
極深的憾恨                             immeasurable regrets
叫人肝腸寸斷                          result in misery
肝血日夜不分地侵蝕枯竭        Eroding my soul day and night
"How did you know of this?" Saimdang asked, stunned. The woman's eyes became even more grieved.
"You have a way to save Prince Euisung. No, You must save him!" Her gaze was filled with compassion.
"But what can I do... I can't think of a way!"
"Prince Euisung will take the Silk Road and arrive at a faraway country called Italy. There he would continue to live on as an Oriental artist! As long as you could help him escape safely, it will definitely happen!"
"I... Italy?"
"That is a free, open country far away where any artist could fulfil their dreams - Italy!"
"If you were to save him, you must make sure he arrives a place called Goa in Tianzhu 天竺 (current day India) before the fifth month of the Year of the Water Tiger (1542)! There he must meet a foreign missionary Francis, also known as Xavier. Only then would Prince Euisung be able to survive!"
"Francis? Goa, Tianzhu..." After saying words that made no sense to her, the woman removed the bracelet on her hand and wore it on Saimdang's wrist, a bracelet embroidered with Dianthus Chinensis flowers. She then procured a writing instrument Saimdang had never seen before and scrawled on her palm. After that, she dug into her pocket and passed her a piece of paper. Smoothing out the paper, she saw that it was filled with words that were similar to Hunmin Jeong-eum.
"What are these?"
The woman did not answer, merely gazed at her unwaveringly.
"It was your earnest prayers to save Prince Euisung that enabled both of us to meet." With these words, she broke into an infinitesimal smile, one that was so filled with sorrow and heaviness that it moved Saimdang to tears.
"Mother! Mother!" From a distance, a child's voice echoed. At the sound of her child searching for her, Saimdang spun around in search wildly. Just then, the woman suddenly held her hand in a tight grip.
"There is not much time left! Arrive Goa, Tianzhu before the fifth month of the Year of the Water Tiger. And Francis. You must remember!" The woman stressed her words earnestly to which Saimdang nodded involuntarily.
"Mother!" The voices of her children drew nearer, and at last, Saimdang turned back for a glance.

5. She gradually came to. Her eyelids trembled as she slowly opened her eyes but when sunlight shone into her eyes, she reflexively shut them once more. Her body regained her senses, and waves of her children's voices broke through her consciousness. 
"Mother, wake up!" Mae Chang's voice called.
"Mother!" Hyun Ryong and Woo's childish weeping pulled violently at her.
Forcibly, Saimdang opened her eyes and looked around to find she was at home. Stretching out her hand from under the blanket, she noticed the piece of paper given by the woman in her dream, was gripped tightly in her fist, while upon her wrist was the same Dianthus Chinensis bracelet. Was she still dreaming? The lines between reality and illusion blurred.
"Mother, how are you feeling?" Hyun Ryong asked tearfully.
"Please help me up." At her words, Hyun Ryong and Mae Chang immediately helped her to a sitting position.
"How did I end up here?"
"You passed out in front of the Department of Justice, so the soldiers carried you back. Mother, are you truly fine? How did you end up fainting at such a place?"
At Mae Chang's words, Saimdang mutely looked down and stared at the paper and bracelet, her memories still vivid and fresh in her mind.
"Arrive Goa, Tianzhu before the fifth month of the Year of the Water Tiger! And Francis...." Quietly, Saimdang recited the words that the woman in her dream had repeatedly reminded.
"What?" Hyun Ryong asked, his eyes widened in confusion.
"Nothing, all of you please leave first."
Bemused, the children shook their heads and left the room. Once alone, Saimdang secured the door with a spoon before opening the cabinet on the wall and taking out a scroll. This was Jungjong's poem which her father had copied on Goryeo paper. She carefully folded the paper and put it inside her robes, then left immediately to seek an audience with the Crown Prince.


6. Ever since her return from Mt. Geumgang, so much had befallen Saimdang. All their property was confiscated and the family put under house arrest, with soldiers in full armour guarding the door, barring them from even going to the well. Thus they lived for two whole months, and if not for Deposed Queen Shin who furtively threw food over the low wall, they would probably had all already starved to death. Just as they had begun to lose all hope, suddenly their house arrest was lifted and all confiscated property restored. While the children were overjoyed, Saimdang could not muster up any joy, being unable to shake off an ominous premonition.
True enough, she soon heard the news of Gyeom's arrest. Rumours spread far and wide that Gyeom had already been given the death sentence by the king, and she knew that it was to save her that he chose to die. Casting everything aside, she immediately hurried to the Department of Justice, but no matter how hard she pleaded, she could not see him, instead coming face to face with Jungjong's stony face. From the coldness in his eyes, she finally understood that this time, Jungjong would show Gyeom no mercy.


7. When Saimdang gave the last copy of the poem to the Crown Prince and begged for him to save Gyeom and send him to a faraway land with no Joseon people, at first the prince could not bring himself to agree. His misgivings were not out of fear for his own position, but the fact that as a son, he was unwilling to go against his father's wishes. Nonetheless, after Saimdang's tearful pleas, he began to waver.


8. Life went on as usual all around, be it for the farmers, traders, butchers, gisaengs, yangbans, beggars or children. Even if they had experienced moments of turmoil and upheaval, those who survived still continued on their lives like nothing had happened. All this was solely in order to forget, because only by forgetting, can one continue on living. Without pretending to be fools or simpletons, life would be too unbearable, so they did their best to cast the memories behind them.
However, unlike them, Gyeom only had one thing he refused to forget. Be it the person, or the bitter tears he had shed for her, at the moment of his death, he wanted to engrave them deeply in his mind. His memories were the only evidence that he was alive. Although he was bound up as a criminal and being escorted into exile, he still never considered his life unfortunate. As long as he was willing to sacrifice everything to love this woman who belonged in this world, as long as he had the memories of every single moment he had with her, that in itself was enough to keep him alive. Saimdang... it was as if every breath he took had her name, and the very thought of her, the very act of saying her name, was sufficient to let him continue on living.
"Make way! Make way! Escorting a criminal!"
Remarks were rife among the crowd that gathered all along the road. Some shed tears of pity while others jeered. Yet even if Gyeom was left bleeding from being pelted with stones, he remained staunch, the expression in his eyes unshaken, and it appeared that no words or actions could harm his heart. Thus, the prison cart that carried him passed through the capital, exited the city, embarked on the low mountain trail and went through the mountain road by the cliff.
"We will take a short break here before continuing on!" At the order of the Royal Security Attaché, the guards stopped. Right then, the Royal Security Attaché disembarked from his horse and slowly approached the prison cart.
"We have a long way to go. Why don't we take a little break?" Gyeom laughed silently at his tone, which seemed to consult his opinion.
"Haven't we already passed the path leading to exile on Tamna Island? Did His Majesty order you to kill me on the way?"
Taken aback by Gyeom's piercing words, the Royal Security Attaché averted his gaze and coughed discretely.
"Prince Euisung attempted to escape on the way to exile, so he had to be killed! I guess this was His Majesty's plan all along!"
Expressionlessly, the Royal Security Attaché yanked open the door of the prison cart and Gyeom stepped out with dignity. There was no more hope left, and only the thought of the grief his death would bring Saimdang, filled him with unbearable pain. However, the moment he stepped off, to the dumbfounded shock of the royal guards, and Gyeom's astonishment, the Royal Security Attaché immediately pushed the cart with all his might, trying to topple it off the edge of the cliff.
"Come and give me a hand!" he roared to his uncomprehending men. Throwing glances at each other, they quickly lent their strength and pushed. At last the cart careened down the cliff and shattered into pieces.
"The prison cart carrying the criminal Yi Gyeom fell off the cliff when the wheel dislodged! The criminal Yi Gyeom met his death on the spot! Do you understand?" the Royal Security Attaché issued the stern order to his men.
"Commander?" At this unexpected turn of events, Gyeom called out uncomprehendingly to him. The Royal Security Attaché threw him a glance before returning his attention to his men.
"Do you understand?" Faced with his ferocity of his stance, the men responded uncertainly.
"Are the voices of Joseon soldiers so weak? Once more!" the Royal Security Attaché thundered.
"Yes!" This time their answer was a resounding assent.
Just then, Gyeom spun around at the sound of approaching horses, to see a group of men rushing towards him and jumping down from their horses. It was the Crown Prince's Left Royal Guard and his men.
"You did not see anything today. Do not remember any of this. Anyone who disobeys my command will receive no mercy from the sword in my hand!" The Royal Security Attaché exchanged a look with the Left Royal Guard and issued the stern command.
"Yes!" the guards responded with renewed vigour.
"Please escort Prince Euisung on his way!" the Royal Security Attaché addressed the Left Royal Guard. 
"Commander!" Gyeom's gaze was fixed on Royal Security Attaché, his eyes brimming with tears.
"His Majesty... please forgive His Majesty." The Royal Security Attaché bowed in respect to Gyeom before turning around and alighting his horse.
"Let's move out!" The guards followed the Royal Security Attaché and went back the way they came.
"We should also make a move quickly. This is the command of the Crown Prince." At the Left Royal Guard's urging, Gyeom finally got on his horse.


9. Beyond the West Sea, the crimson sunset blazed amid the darkness. A small boat swayed gently on the water. The boatman, paddle in hand, stared at the distant sunset, the sea breeze breathing gently on his face. On the sea, the boat and boatman seemed to blend into the landscape. Before long, Gyeom too would disappear into that landscape! Saimdang stared blankly as the thoughts flooded her mind.
Saimdang waited painstakingly at the pier with a bundle in her hand. Not knowing if any mishap might have occurred on the journey, she was tormented by anxiety and fear that threw her into turmoil. Just then, the faraway sounds of approaching horses reached her, and making out Gyeom's figure, her fear abated, giving way instead to sorrow. As she saw Gyeom drawing closer, she could no longer control the tears that welled in her eyes. I cannot cry, I must send him off with a smile! Saimdang wiped her tears with her sleeve and broke into a smile.
Gyeom alighted from the horse and flew towards her, crushing her in an emotional embrace, holding her so tightly that she felt as if her bones would shatter. Overwhelmed, the bundle fell from her hand, and she too clung on to his waist. His ragged, heavy breathing was on her neck, but was the furiously pounding heartbeat hers or his?  Saimdang placed her ear against Gyeom's chest, listening to the beating of his heart, trying to reconcile the fact that he was alive, stifling the involuntary tears that threatened to choke her. He caressed the back of her head gently, patting and comforting her, saying "Don't cry, don't cry." She lifted tear-filled eyes to meet his eyes, and found that his too, were brimming with tears. He reached down to her cheeks and gently wiped away her tears.
At the unmistakable love in his voice, Saimdang started and detached herself from his embrace.
"Once you reach the open sea, there is a ship waiting for you. You must reach a place called Goa in Tianzhu before the fifth month of the Year of the Water Tiger. Look for a blue-eyed foreigner called Francis. He will bring you to a faraway country." Panic edged her words as she wiped her tears away with her hands.
"Are you really asking me to leave like this? It is impossible. Even if I die, I want to stay by your side."
"You must live, for me. Please do this for me. Whatever the case, you must choose to continue on living."
"Even if we are apart, that is not a separation! No matter where we are physically, our souls will be together forever! Nothing can ever separate the connection of our souls!" From her sleeve, Saimdang procured an embroidered pouch filled with Dianthus Chinensis seeds and placed it in Gyeom's hand.
"These are Dianthus Chinensis seeds. Please scatter them in the open land of your home in the new land! When the Dianthus Chinensis flowers bloom and cover the expanse of the land, I too will be there!"
Tears flowing unceasingly, Gyeom took out the Biikjo seals and placed one of them around Saimdang's neck.
"This is the Biikjo seal. It has taken me 20 years... to finally carve it!"
Controlling her tears, Saimdang forced a smile. In the distance, the boatman signaled Gyeom to quickly board the boat.
"You must go now! Please go. Please live a free life in a bigger world for me."
Saimdang collected the bundle from the ground, placed it in Gyeom's arms and pushed him urgently.
"I will forever be by your side. Always remember, we are not two people, but one body. Wherever you are, I will feel all that you feel, and everything you see, I will see too. Even though we are physically apart, we are not separated. Please remember this." Saimdang's soothing words brought a fresh wave of tears to Gyeom's eyes. 
"So you must go now! Hurry!"
Once more, Saimdang pushed him with her might. Left with no choice, Gyeom turned and with heavy, reluctant steps, took one, two steps towards the small boat. Turn back! Turn back once more! He finally stepped into the boat. With strong strokes, the boatman manoeuvred the boat carrying Gyeom further and further, over the horizon towards the pitch black distance, disappearing in the blazing red of the sunset. At last, Gyeom's figure faded into the landscape.
Saimdang crumbled on to the ground, her body wracked with sobs as the horizon melted into the darkness and stars scattered across the sky.


10. It was an afternoon in 1551. Saimdang, now in her forties, finally could laugh once more without restraint. Be it the dazzling blue-green sky, or the blooming Dianthus Chinensis flowers in the land with its gentle fragrance; or feeling the sunlight on the face, or the sounds of her children's unfettered laughter in the distance... all these drew involuntary laughter from her.
"It's been so long. Let us all go for an outing." Mae Chang came up and sat by her side, her arms filled with fresh flowers.
"You're right! How wonderful." Saimdang gently caressed her daughter's hair.
"Mother, thank you."
"For what?"
"You once told me that the world would be a better place one day, and night would slowly become a little brighter. So, thank you for that."
"Become a little brighter?"
"Yes! Look before you. This used to be a wasteland... now it is covered with flowers!" 
At Mae Chang's words, the barren wasteland rose once more in her mind's eye, and the memories of working with the drifters to manufacture paper flowed back, fresh as ever.
"Mother, do you feel that you are now a little happier?" Mae Chang fixed bright, wide eyes at her mother.
"Of course I am happy. I was then, and I am now... together with our Mae Chang, Seon, Hyun Ryong, Woo... even if it was just being able to protect the people that I love, I would already feel extremely blessed. Thanks to the hard work and blessings of the people who once needed me, I am now able to live well... it is truly wonderful."
"I hope that I would be able to be like you... being able to live to protect the people I love!"
"Our Mae Chang would definitely be able to do it. Thank you for growing up well into a thoughtful person." Her gaze carried a trace of sadness. Removing the Dianthus Chinensis bracelet from her hand, she wore it on her daughter's wrist.
"What is this, Mother?"
"Even if we try our best, we will still encounter times of suffering. This gift was given to me at a time... when I felt that life was so difficult that I could no longer take another step forward, and was ready to give up."
Seon, Hyun Ryong, Woo as well as Ji Kyun and Ji Seong rushed to Saimdang's side, buzzing like bees and sat around her.
"This is Mother's favourite flower, Dianthus Chinensis!" Woo's hands were filled with the flowers.
"Thank you."
She held up Woo's hands and breathed in the fragrance of the blossoms.
"This is just like the first time we came here. Hyung, do you still remember?" Hyun Ryong who had aced the Imperial examinations, was now a lot more mature.
"Mother used to be at her wits' end because of me!" Seon could not help chortling as he recalled the past.
Saimdang placed her oldest son's hands on her knee and caressed it for some time. His palms were filled with calluses from his apprenticeship with the blacksmith.
"At the time, I did not understand your feelings... I am truly sorry."
"It's alright, Mother." Seon gently drew his hands back and smiled.
"We have a gift for you." Ji Kyun and Ji Seong revealed what they had been hiding behind their backs and placed it before Saimdang. Inside was a pair of elegant embroidered shoes.
"What is this?"
"We prepared this from the pocket money we saved up. Thank you for caring for us when we had nowhere to go."
"It is natural for a mother to protect and care for her children. Both of you are also my children whom I love!" Saimdang drew the brothers into a tight embrace and patted their backs. From afar, Hyang approached huffing and puffing with a large basket. Seon and Hyun Ryong immediately rushed over and took the basket from her. It was filled with rice balls and side dishes, the sight of which whetted everyone's appetites. Saimdang and her children sat on the grass and tucked in amid the sounds of insects, laughing and chatting as they did so. As if in response to their joy, the birds in the trees also joined in with their chirping.


11. "Children! I have a request to ask of you." At the end of their meal, Saimdang wiped the sides of her mouth with a handkerchief and spoke up.
"Please... never resent your father."
"But... he... " Mae Chang put down her half-eaten rice ball and raised her eyebrows.
The girl was full with hatred for her father who had taken up with the tavern mistress Gwon. When Yangryu Paper Mill closed down and the family was placed under house arrest to the point of starvation, their father never once showed his face. In addition, the thought of her half-siblings filled her with rage.
"I understand... I know what all of you wish to say, and I know why you are all so disappointed in your father. However, without him, there would not be you. Your father is like the source of your existence. No one has a perfect life, and may experience hurt due to their family. Likewise, perhaps we may not realise it but we might have caused our father to feel lonely and hurt? Such is a family. We may always wish to do our best, and if we manage to do so, well and good. However, when there are times where mistakes are made, causing disappointment, do not end up resenting one another. Instead, one should first try to properly understand that person first. Fathers, mothers, siblings... rather than burdening each other with roles and duties associated with the status, just treat each other purely as a human being. This is what it means to be a family."
"It will take time, but I will try my best to understand." At the conclusion of his mother's long speech, Hyun Ryong responded earnestly. The rest of the children also nodded and said that they would do likewise.
"I am already very contented even if you merely listened to what I said." Saimdang wore a warm smile as she looked at them.
"Mother, do you remember a long time ago, you once asked us at this very place how we wished to fill our lives?" Hyun Ryong's eyes fixed upon his mother.
"Yes... that was the case. Have all of you found your answer?"
"Yes, I wish to fill my life with your dream."
"My dream?"
"The dream that as long as one is alive, anyone could look forward to a better tomorrow... you have demonstrated it to us once before, so I too would be able to fulfil it!"
"That's true! As long as one is still alive... that is something anyone can accomplish."
At her son's words, Saimdang lifted her head and gazed at the distant horizon. Yes! As long as one was alive, no matter who it was. His face suddenly appeared before her mind's eye... no matter where he was, in this uncertain, vast world. Across the dazzling blue sky, a bird spread its wings and flew vigorously. Then, the petals of the Dianthus Chinensis flowers Woo plucked earlier too floated to the faraway distance, carried by the wind.



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