Jump to content

[Drama 2010] Secret Investigation Record 기찰비록

Guest fanda4000

Recommended Posts

I finally finished the series and I say that this is the best drama I have ever watched, hands down. It's hard to write down everything since so much happened in the last two episodes.

In the last two episodes, all the mysterious plots connect and we even have a reappearance of the magical floating ball from episodes 1-2. This man gets struck by lightening and receives the ability to bring back people from the dead by electrocuting them with his hand. He starts to gain a lot of supporters and the nobles don't like that so they order for his death. Ji-seung ends up being the one to kill him. Now years later, the man's daughter has inherited his powers and is looking for a way to bring her dad back to life. (She kept his head frozen.) In order to do that she need some ashes and threatens Hyung-do with Ji-seung's life to bring them to her. He does but it turns out to be the wrong container and she orders him again. In the final showdown, he learns that the ashes are in the mysterious floating ball we saw in the beginning of the drama. He brings  a gun with him because Yoon-yi and Jang-man have been captured and wants to barter for their lives. He scares the men by shooting a couple of them dead and the lady who wants revenge sneaks up to him and is about to kill him with the slash of her knife when he blocks it with the metal ball. Electrical sparks start flying between them and that calls the spaceship. Then Hyung-do and the lady get abducted. 

I'm not sure about the ending. I think maybe Hyung-do died because he and Yoon-yi both ended up in a land where you decide if you want to remain dead or if you want to be resurrected. Yoon-yi chooses to be resurrected again and when she asks Hyung-do if he will follow her, he replies no, saying that he knows who she really is. (I think this is referring to the New Land Yoon-yi.) The last scene had me crying so hard.  

I guess we'll just have to wait until dramabeans comes up with a better explanation.

- Kyu

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 120
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I really enjoyed the ending of this drama...it was so beautiful.

Hmm, I think YY was an alien lifeform that kept returning in the human body that went missing eons ago and became a "researcher" and recorder of human nature....much like the water creatures mentioned through the little girl or when HD was drowning and one passed through his body exposing him to their memories and/or knowledge....I was glad he chose not to participate any further in their  resurrection from the dead process to collect and record more info.  Impregnating people who then give birth to alien beings who grow exponentially and live among us??

I like that HD was true to his nature and character as a man of those times...I believe the death of his mentor weighed heavily upon his pysche....I found it sad that he was left on that shore alone.

I am truly sad that this drama has ended. :tears:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joseon X-Files: Episode 9 by javabeans | November 11, 2010 | xf9-00194a.jpgThis episode starts out seeming more disconnected from the others, making me think at first that it was a filler-type episode — but trust this drama to find a way to tie it to the secrets of the bigger picture as well. I’ll never doubt you again, Joseon X-Files!

This was also a pretty funny episode, despite the subject matter. It reminded me of Episode 4 in that respect, finding ways to sneak in dry bits of humor in between the tension-building and mystery of the case. Kim Ji-hoon really is great doing grouchy humor.

(I did, however, miss not having Yoon-yi and Jang Man around this time.)

EPISODE 9: “Attack of the Chang-gwi”

Knocking sounds at the door of an out-of-the-way inn. An elderly woman opens the door to a tired-looking couple and welcomes them warmly. The dour-looking man chops some wood for the grandma innkeeper, who takes up some food to the sickly wife.

The woman is skittish and turns away from the grandma as the baby nurses, and the elderly woman interprets her wince of pain to mean that the baby is teething.

Until, of course, blood drips on the ground.

Realizing that this is no ordinary baby, the innkeeper’s eyes open in shock, and she stutters, “M-m-monster!”

xf9-00013.jpg xf9-00017.jpg

Behind her, the husband raises his ax and says, “I’m sorry.” He swings the blade.

Not too far away, Hyung-do walks through a sandstorm, covered up to protect himself from the harsh winds. He’s fatigued and worn, his lips chapped from the exposure, and finally, he collapses in exhaustion.

His vision blurs out of focus, but he does see the dark outline of a figure in the distance who approaches.

When he wakes, Hyung-do finds himself in bed in a familiar-looking inn. Well, familiar for us, right down to the hatchet used for chopping wood. He makes his way down to the main room and finds the woodcutter-husband there, who explains that he found him outside unconscious, and brought him in.

Hyung-do thanks him for saving his life, and learns that this place is not far from Baekdu-san (a famous mountain located in the northeast, right on what is currently the border to North Korea). This places them in Hamgyeong Province, the significance of which is only to say that he’s a fair distance from his home base in Hanyang.


The woodcutter has taken on the position of innkeeper, but Hyung-do isn’t particularly suspicious until he hears a woman’s gasp sounding from one of the upstairs rooms. The man explains that his wife is ill, but he sighs in seemingly genuine sorrow that he doesn’t know what she suffers.

Intuition kicking in, Hyung-do’s curious and a bit unnerved, but first things first: He’s missing his identity tag and asks if it’s been seen. The innkeeper advises him to ask the man staying next door to his.

The man isn’t acting especially strange, but Hyung-do does notice blood staining the back of his hat.


Knocking on his neighbor’s door gets no answer, but it does draw out another guest, who pokes his head out of a room. Only… it’s Hyung-do’s room he’s in.

Well, isn’t that odd. Hyung-do’s bafflement increases as the man blithely goes about rearranging the furniture as though this is completely normal behavior — and then he mentions Shinmuhwe. Given that their organization is super-top-secret, this means that this man, who introduces himself as Lee Bang-hyun, is also part of this Joseon X-Files project; he’s affiliated with their Hamgyeong Province branch.

Lee directs Hyung-do to peer through the hole he’s drilled in the wall, but it turns out to be useless (unless all he really wanted was a close-up of a candle). Lee declares that he’ll have to drill another, which brings out Hyung-do’s grumpy-faced exasperation.

As they eat downstairs, Hyung-do listens to Lee’s speculations of what happened to their missing neighbor with his trademark skepticism, wearing his classic “O RLY?” face (at above left).

Lee leans in to ask pointedly how his meat soup tastes, asking “what kind of meat” he thinks it is. Hyung-do knows what he’s getting at but takes it as some kind of immature prank, retorting sarcastically, “So are you suggesting I’m eating human meat?”

But hilariously, just one moment later, Hyung-do reassesses the situation and spits out his mouthful and casts a doubtful look at the innkeeper, noting that his companion is sticking to crunchy vegetables.

xf9-00073.jpg xf9-00075.jpg

Lee lays out his theory, saying that the guest next door disappeared a few days ago, prompting Hyung-do to make a sarcastic crack about digging up graves out back. Lee is on the case of a person/monster that drinks human blood, and his implication is that the innkeeper is involved.

There’s a technicality at work here — if the innkeeper is killing men and selling human meat, it’s “simply” a matter of murder and trade. The government can handle that. But if he’s somehow feeding on human blood before his victim dies, that makes him a monster, which is a matter for Shinmuhwe.

Hyung-do is skeptical of this flimsy conjecture — but, it must be noted, not skeptical enough to resume eating. The problem is that Lee’s just working on a theory with no proof. It IS strange that they hear the wheezing sound again, though neither of them has seen the sick wife.

xf9-00067.jpg xf9-00086.jpg

A new party of travelers arrives in the inn, tired from weathering the sandstorm outside. There’s something odd about their behavior as well, as they whisper to each other and remain secretive about their activities. Plus, one of them has a conspicuously bandaged face, which he tries to hide by keeping his head down.

Hyung-do makes a casual comment about their appearance, asking if they’ve been in battle, but the leader deflects. Stranger still, the two subordinates check out the inn and report that nothing is amiss — and that whatever they’re looking for could not have made it here in this weather.

The leader puts his men on rotating guard duty, warning them to be alert. Curiosity piqued, Hyung-do approaches the group and speaks in a chatty tone. These men are hunters, but aside from that they won’t say anything about their business here. In fact, when one mentions that they’re coming from Baekdu-san, the other shushes him, and they advise Hyung-do to go talk to their leader if he’s curious.

Back in Hyung-do’s rented room, Lee is busy drilling another hole in the wall — oh, the jokes I could make — and this time, the view is much better. On the other hand, this actually further dissuades Hyung-do, because he sees the innkeeper giving his sick wife medicine, which suggests that all is just as the man says and they are being needlessly suspicious.


Lee sticks to his belief and tells Hyung-do about something called a chang-gwi, a type of malevolent ghost or spirit that leads you to food, or to bad deeds in a metaphorical sense (whoops, almost wrote meataphorical, which would also be apt). The story goes, if the spirit of a dead child is possessed by a cat, it becomes a chang-gwi and feeds on human blood.

Unsurprisingly, Hyung-do isn’t buying it, scoffing to even call this a proper “case.” Lee argues that he was an eyewitness and tells a story of a woman who was walking home carrying fresh beef, who felt the uneasy sensation of being watched despite seeing nobody around her. Then she looked down at the meat, and stuck there was a shaggy child, sucking on the blood.

xf9-00105.jpg xf9-00107.jpg

Seeing that Hyung-do is unconvinced, Lee shows him one bit of hard evidence. Shoving the bed back, he reveals a bloodstain on the ground. How to explain that, then?

And… out digging graves they go. (Love the deadpan humor of this episode, which is as much about witty editing decisions as it is about wry commentary by Hyung-do.) They’re looking for evidence of the missing man, although they’re not sure what to expect. If the body is drained of blood, they’re dealing with the chang-gwi. But failing to find any body at all isn’t automatically good news, either, since that supports the idea that Hyung-do really WAS eating human. Lovely choices, aren’t they?

As Hyung-do digs (and Lee just sits there, shirking work — Hyung-do even calls him on it, lol), Lee shares the story of the first time he ran across this monster. It started ten years ago when he was called to investigate a cow born with seven legs. He ran into a band of savage people who killed the people living in a neighboring village for their blood, and he’s been pursuing the chang-gwi ever since.

Hyung-do grumps at doing all the dirty work himself and leaves the shovel with Lee, heading off to pee. Hilariously, Lee joins him in relieving himself — never has a pissing scene been so beautifully lit, am I right? — and they aim down into a ditch.

xf9-00124.jpg xf9-00127.jpg

Let me just say: How frickin’ hysterical is it that they discover the dead body by peeing on it? (More specifically, on his face? And it doesn’t even end there, because then they have to go down and uncover the pee-spattered remains from the dirt. Oh, Korea. Will you never tire of the almighty toilet gag?)

Hyung-do recognizes the man as his disappeared neighbor, but makes a curious note: the tooth marks are small. Not like a man’s.

Meanwhile, the hunter assigned to guard duty squats in the outhouse, minding (and doing) his business, when the barrel of a dart gun pokes inside and shoots him in the back. Down he goes.

This puts the hunter team on high alert, and they accost Hyung-do and Lee the moment they enter the inn, demanding to know what they’ve been doing. Per their secretive Shinmuhwe rules, Hyung-do and Lee can’t divulge the truth so they lie about being in the outhouse (together — snerk! — because Lee was scared and wanted company — double snerk!).

The agitated leader asks if they killed the guard and fed off his blood, assuming that our Shinmuhwe guys are both chang-gwi. Conversely, the mention of blood has Hyung-do’s attention, because it means they’re aware of the monster and are looking for the same thing.


Thankfully for our guys, the situation defuses when the so-called missing guard stumbles in, a little groggy but alive and well. He explains that he’d been in the outhouse and must have fallen asleep there, and is unhurt except for a cut on his hand that probably came from the fall.

Hyung-do, on the other hand, notices that the cut looks like the work of a knife, and Lee mutters that the chang-gwi got to him.

All is not well, however, because another member of their party (the man with the bandaged face) bursts in, gasping about something he found. One of their men is dead in the stables, his throat slit.

Ignoring Lee’s warning not to mention the blood-sucking monster — since they don’t have the proof to present this as fact — Hyung-do tackles the matter head-on. He identifies himself as an investigator of the state and brings up the chang-gwi, figuring it best to share information.

The hunters are more forthcoming with their own information now, and say that they are from this province, where a few days ago they came upon an injured man (the bandaged man in the party) who’d had his whole team killed.

A noise sounds from outside, putting everyone on alert. The men all grab weapons and head outside into the dusty night, where visibility is obscured by the thick, sandy winds.

Inside, the innkeeper finds the bed empty, to his dismay — the boy who had been chained there is now gone.

All this while, Lee has been curiously silent as Hyung-do speaks with these men. Separated from the group, Hyung-do senses a presence behind him and whirls around, only to find that it’s Lee. He’s relieved, but by now we know enough to be wary of him…

The lead hunter suspects that the monster headed back inside and returns to the stable, where he finds the boy feeding from the dead body. Lighting the fuse on his gun, he aims at the boy and shoots. The boy darts away, and the bullet misses.

xf9-00165.jpg xf9-00168.jpg

Not far away, one of the other men falls, attacked by some unseen person.

Inside the inn, Hyung-do steps inside the room they’ve been spying on — the sick wife’s — and sees the shackles attached to the wall, which are now empty. The mother lies in her bed, covered in bloody bruises and cuts.

A weary voice cuts in and tells Hyung-do to leave her alone, because she’s dying anyway. It’s the innkeeper, resigned to his fate and out of ideas. Hyung-do is horrified to hear that his wife has been feeding the boy her own blood all this while, but the husband asks what else he could do about it — the boy was born that way. The innkeeper begs to be let go to find his son and to escape from the hunters. Hyung-do can’t agree to that, because while he can sympathize for the man’s fatherly heart, he can’t condone that he has killed.


In the stable, the lead hunter grabs a second fuse and stealthily tracks down the boy, who has taken cover and warily watches his predator. The boy leaps straight for the hunter and flies at his head, but the gun fires midair, the bullet landing in his gut.

The boy writhes on the ground, grunting and wheezing, until a second gunshot puts him out of his misery.

xf9-00181.jpg xf9-00184.jpg

The ugly deed done, the hunter staggers out of the stable… only to be stabbed himself. The man holding the dagger is Lee.

Hyung-do makes one startling observation as he examines the bite marks riddling the mother’s body — they don’t all come from the son. For instance, one set of marks is too big to come from a boy, and belong to an adult. He suspects that there’s another chang-gwi among the group, who probably freed the boy from his chains and killed the man in the stable.

The innkeeper is horrified, never suspecting additional culprits, and pleads to be allowed escape. He swears that he never killed — if he had, would his wife be in such a condition? He insists he’s innocent of the murder from ten years ago as well, and says he only came here in order to escape their hunters.

The man explains that he came from a village that witnessed many peculiarities, like a cow born with seven legs. Men came from Hanyang to investigate, then left mysteriously without a word. Shortly thereafter, a group of men wearing black clothes came and burned their village to the ground.

Hyung-do reacts to this news, recognizing what it means and realizing Shinmuhwe’s involvement. But just then, Lee’s voice cuts in, followed by a gunshot.

The father is shot in the chest and crumples to the ground. Hyung-do is outraged, explaining that the man didn’t pose a danger, but Lee corrects him to say that the danger would be to Hyung-do himself — if he found out too much, he could be putting his own life at risk.

This is all because Hyung-do revealed secrets that ought not have been revealed, which means he’s responsible for the lives that have been lost tonight. Lee speaks frankly, as though sorry to have done this but dispassionate about his duty all the same.

Lee lights his fuse for one more shot to finish off the dying man, but just as he fires, he’s fired upon. The bandaged man has shot him from across the hallway, hitting him in the arm, then charging him with a sword raised. But Lee is unperturbed — cool as you please, he points a second gun over his shoulder and fires off a series of shots, downing his attacker sight unseen. Wow, Shinmuhwe, you’re pretty badass.

xf9-00201.jpg xf9-00202.jpg

It’s only now that the bandaged man reveals his identity by commenting that Lee failed to recognize the person he’d been chasing all these years — it’s him. He’s the adult chang-gwi, but he defends himself by saying he was only trying to survive.

The man falls back, dead. Hyung-do looks at Lee with indignation, calling him brutal, only to get back Lee’s response that Truth is brutal.

Lee informs Hyung-do that their work isn’t just about investigation and records — they need someone to clean up the dirt as well. Hyung-do is appalled that the “clean-up” extends as far as killing those who know too much, but Lee answers that there’s a time for everything.


As Lee turns to leave, he cautions Hyung-do that people will come by tomorrow to clean up and get rid of the evidence here. It’s best Hyung-do avoid them. And with that, he saunters off clutching his injured arm, while Hyung-do looks after him in disbelief and disillusionment.


For the first time, I have a complaint — albeit minor and ultimately not that much of a complaint — in that I thought this episode was familiar. The monster and even the setup weren’t that far off from Episode 4′s man-eating mutant boy, whose father lured men to their deaths so his son could eat them. I suspect that without the memory of that (very moving, poignant) story, this one would have packed more punch.

What mitigates that feeling of letdown, at least, is the fact that this episode actually ties into the larger mystery pretty well, and does manage to fake us out about the ending (somewhat). I thought pretty early on that we’d probably be wise not to trust Lee, and about halfway through I thought that it was clear he was going to be the baddie. It was kind of disappointing to have such a tightly plotted and complexly written show give us such a… straightforward villain.

But then it surprised me by keeping Lee who he said he was — only the twist wasn’t in his identity, but in the role he played as a member of Shinmuhwe. He contrasts with Hyung-do’s principled worldview, and despite Hyung-do’s skepticism about the paranormal, he is really an idealist. Whereas Ji Seung and Shinmuhwe are coldly, even heartlessly, logical. Their motto may as well be “By any means necessary,” which is not the way Hyung-do operates.

It’s always fascinating to see the moment that a hero (or any character) is disillusioned, as he is here — about his work, his purpose, even the cause he thought he was working for. Is Truth still noble when all manner of ugly deeds must be carried out in the preserving thereof? Will his noble, honorable self be able to continue with Shinmuhwe? Will he find his own morals being compromised? Can he reconcile himself with the cause he has found himself entangled in?

All great questions that are raised by the episode, which is why I am not more bothered by the simplicity of this particular plotline.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Drama Recaps Joseon X-Files: Episode 10 by javabeans | November 21, 2010 | I liked this episode a lot. I appreciate that the writers have taken the care to alternate lighter, funnier episodes with the darker, creepier, and/or more intense ones.

The plot in this one is of a stand-alone nature, but since it involves all three members of our Team X-Files, I’m happy. Plus, even though the entire drama has been a feast for the eyes, this episode in particular, with its beachside locale, was stunning to look at.

EPISODE 10: “Soldiers’ Homecoming from the Dragon King’s Palace”

We start out floating in space, hovering over Earth, giving us the hint that this episode incorporates an element of the alien, before landing miles below on a remote beach.

A young girl runs toward the water, scanning the shoreline and calling out for her mother, who’s somewhere out there. But she stops in her tracks when a great rumbling noise sounds in the distance. A huge light shines down from the clouds and beams down into the ocean.

xf10-00005.jpg xf10-00009.jpg

The girl’s mother runs from the water and grabs her daughter as the light disappears, followed by the rumbling. Dead fish bob at the surface of the water, landing ashore in large numbers. Out of view of the mother-daughter pair, a transparent tentacle wriggles from the mouth of one of the newly beached fish. Yum.

News of this oddity reaches our team, who are dispatched to this remote island off the southern coast of the Korean peninsula. The island was once home to a navy post a decade prior to this drama’s timeline, during the Japanese invasions.

The ride is pleasant enough for both Yoon-yi and Jang Man, but Hyung-do…well, he spends most of the time feeling sick to his stomach and gagging over the side of the boat. He does not appreciate the sight of Jang chewing an octopus tentacle with gusto, but the other two look on in amusement to see their gruff leader humbled by something as mundane as seasickness.

The boat pulls in to the dock — to Hyung-do’s great relief — and they plan to secure lodgings for the night. Before they can even leave the pier, however, they are greeted by a smiling village elder, who welcomes them to their humble island.


The elder speaks with extreme (perhaps exaggerated) politeness, but there’s something in his smiling, solicitous manner that tickles Hyung-do’s Spidey sense. For instance, the man is aware of Hyung-do’s title as government inspector despite the fact that they hadn’t sent advance notice of their trip.

Furthermore, the elder presses rather insistently — though it’s couched in polite language — that they come with him. It’s all in the name of hospitality, but Hyung-do is not won over by his obsequious behavior. (Simple-minded Jang, on the other hand, is easily swayed. Heh.)

The elder seems to be under the impression that they’re here on official business about the island’s salt tax, and has taken it upon himself to act the part of the grand host. But his smile fades the moment Yoon-yi asks about something that fell from the sky a month ago. Suddenly the elder’s laughing tone turns shaky; he hems and haws before grudgingly answering that there are rumors of such an occurrence, but he didn’t see it himself.

He dismisses them as superstitious beliefs of the “Dragon King” coming down to the ocean from the sky, adding that at least the event brought about the boon of extra fish for the villagers. That’s enough to be thankful for.

The next day, our teammates take a look around, walking along the beach as they speculate on possible explanations for the great light. Yoon-yi suggests that it could have been a meteor — there’s no crater, but if it landed in the sea, they wouldn’t be able to see one.

Team X-Files notices a curious trend as they walk around, because all the villagers hastily turn away to avoid talking to them. Hyung-do calls after a few villagers that he only wants to talk to them, but without fail, everyone ignores his calls and hurries away.

Are they afraid? Or is there another reason for the avoidance? Hyung-do is sure they’re hiding something, and resorts to a new tactic — Bad Cop, Good Cop. That is to say, he yells harshly at a woman trying to run away from them, and berates her (using rude language) for ignoring him. This gives Jang the chance to approach consolingly, so that she might talk more willingly to him.


The woman has dropped her basket of fish in her anxiety, and as Jang helps pick them up, she explains that she technically didn’t catch them — she picked them up off the ground. In fact, there have been lots of fish coming ashore ever since “that day” — the day the Dragon King came down from the sky.

The woman confirms that something fell out of the sky and into the sea with a great noise, and sighs sympathetically for the plight of the mother-daughter pair — what crime did that little girl commit to end up in such a condition?

Before they can ask for clarification, the village elder shows up and cuts into the conversation. It’s pretty clear (to us, and to the team) that he’s trying to keep a tight rein over what his villagers reveal, but he’s shrewd about his methods of diversion, and offers them a tour.

He takes them to a salt refinery, which is the village’s primary commodity. Now that mention of the Dragon King has been made, the elder shares that they believe that the sea deity has chosen to come to dwell with them, and blessed them with their bounty.

Hyung-do is puzzled about the man’s reverence, particularly given the “condition” suffered by one of their own. But the elder replies that he’d told his people not to talk of it to their guests, thinking their beliefs would be misinterpreted.

xf10-00105.jpg xf10-00108.jpg

The elder invites them to ceremonial rites, so they watch as the old man leads his villagers in a procession to the shore and preaches of the generosity of their Dragon King. People pray as he delivers a sermon about the Dragon King welcoming the souls of the dead soldiers who fought to defend their country, who make their new homes in his sea palace.

(It’s interesting how this sounds like the fables of provincial folk, but the florid imagery has a lot in common with Christianity — God the Father embracing the souls of the deceased to his eternal bosom in heaven, and so forth.)

xf10-00111.jpg xf10-00112.jpg

At dinner, Hyung-do watches in disgust as Yoon-yi and Jang eat enthusiastically, the latter particularly excited to eat delicacies he can’t get in Hanyang. Hyung-do can’t bear the smell and taste of the seafood and nibbles at a pepper, but the other two smile in amusement — given how he got seasick, he clearly doesn’t have a strong enough stomach for this kind of stuff.

I like that this is played for humor here, because its use as a recurring joke masks a more important point. The camera lingers on a shot of the fish Jang is picking at to reveal one of those clear, slimy tentacles poking out, but nobody notices.

Feeling sickened, Hyung-do goes out for air and sees a woman — the same one he’d scolded earlier — being approached by the elder. Only, she’s pregnant now, when she hadn’t been earlier.

Curiosity piqued, Hyung-do follows as the woman is led away by the elder and his men…but looks like our investigator has to work on his stalking skills, because as he arrives at a house, he finds the elder waiting there for him.

He’s welcomed inside, where the elder starts speaking of the naval war against the invaders where so many of their men died. Among those was his own son, but the elder just chuckles ruefully and says that all those fallen soldiers have been since welcomed by the Dragon King. Though he knows that it must sound silly to the fancy folk from the capital, his people believe that the thing that descended into the sea was the Dragon King.

The elder pauses to confirm that the state still beheads those people who cite bizarre stories, as though about to divulge a secret but wary about its consequences. Hyung-do answers that that’s true, but he is here to make sure no such occurrence happens.

That opens the door for the man to speak — but just then, his man interrupts their conversation with some news. The elder excuses himself, citing a problem with the salt refinery.


And yet, strangely enough, the elder doesn’t go straight to the refinery but instead heads to a gated area. The strange sight catches Hyung-do’s eye, and he watches in growing alarm as he sees that a number of villagers are being kept there. And they’re all pregnant — even the very young and the very old.

And, more shockingly, even some men. The group sits in dull silence, being fed fish, which makes the next scene all the more creepy:

xf10-00141.jpg xf10-00140.jpg

Hyung-do returns to their quarters to see Yoon-yi and Jang eating ravenously. While earlier they’d been eating with a normal amount of enthusiasm, now they tear into the seafood with voracious appetites.

That night, he dreams an unsettling dream involving a corpse at the salt refinery, and awakens in a cold sweat. He doesn’t have time to reflect on what this means, because anguished groans sound from the other room. Rushing to Jang’s quarters, Hyung-do finds him crouched in a fetal position, moaning.

xf10-00154.jpg xf10-00155.jpg

He tries to ascertain whether his friend is hurt, but the answer is much worse: He’s…pregnant?

Hyung-do angrily confronts the village elder first thing in the morning, which officially makes him a lot more polite than you or I, since I’d be tearing down doors, night be damned. His anger is aggravated by the realization that the elder is not at all surprised.

The man explains that he knew of such things happening, but had assumed that it only concerned his people. Unfortunately, now that Jang is also in the, uh, family way, he’s going to insist that he retain custody of him.

The elder assures Hyung-do that he will be taken care of, speaking as though only he and his people know how to handle the matter. Hyung-do, on the other hand, is not about to relinquish his colleague to a bunch of shifty types, and refuses to hand him over.

Too bad he’s outnumbered, and to complicate matters, Yoon-yi also starts feeling faint. She keels over, and Hyung-do rushes to catch her — but that means he can’t go after the men taking Jang away.

Curiously, Jang has been quiet this whole time, standing there in a lifeless daze. Now he addresses Hyung-do in a dull voice, saying that it’s fine — he will go willingly.

Yoon-yi is still of sound mind, but after Hyung-do leaves, she looks down at her belly worriedly, suspecting that the process has already begun for her as well.

Hyung-do goes back to the elder to demand some answers. Is this affliction contagious? What is it? The elder responds that it’s not something to worry over — those involved are being well cared for, and they’re not sick. They’re pregnant.


Sure, that might explain the adult women — but what of the young children? And, you know, the MEN?

Ignoring Hyung-do’s incredulity, the elder answers that the babies-to-be are the precious children of the Dragon King, as though that explains everything. The woman and her young daughter were the first to be impregnated — the two from the opening sequence — but alas, the mother unfortunately miscarried the other night.

That night, Hyung-do discusses this with Yoon-yi, who describes one occasion involving similar circumstances wherein a Baekje king was said to be the son of a dragon. She tries to keep up with the conversation, but feels out of sorts and has to warn Hyung-do that the same fate may await her. She can feel her thoughts dulling and a change coming over her. Sometimes strange memories pop up into her mind, as though something is inhabiting her body.

Yoon-yi feels that her time is running out, and sure enough, she’s soon overcome with headaches and dizziness. As she collapses, her eyes lose their focus, and her stomach inflates all at once, like a balloon. (Those stretch marks have got to be killer.)

Hyung-do tries to rouse her, but like all the others, she is now essentially catatonic. Even when she’s awake, she has no awareness — it’s like she’s lost all control over her mind.


Hyung-do decides that enough is enough and furtively leads her to the dock the next day, determined to take her back to the mainland and figure out something there. But he’s not fast enough, and a mob of villagers catches him on the pier before he is able to set sail. The elder confronts him with righteous anger over his “theft” of the Dragon King’s child. He believes that all the pregnancies are actually reincarnations of their young soldiers who died fighting in the war, and are the Dragon King’s “gifts” to them.

Hyung-do argues that this isn’t a problem that can be solved here — but he knows people who can help. If they let him go, he can consult with them to find a solution. But the elder is suspicious, accusing him of laying a trap that would end in his villagers being executed as traitors.

Hyung-do tries to appeal to the villagers, pointing out that for a Dragon King who is supposedly so benevolent, how could he bring the “pregnancies” upon little children and men? Would he grace the people with such a gift, only to require them to cut the babies out of people so brutally?

The elder cuts him off, but Hyung-do presses, reminding him that the dead soldiers in the sea are not only stalwart Joseon patriots but also the foreign invaders. Doesn’t that mean that they could very well be nurturing the reincarnation of their enemies?

The elder talks over him, preaching to his people that the Dragon King is reviving their dead soldiers, who will in turn protect their people from further invasions.

As the man pontificates about the Dragon King’s deeds, Hyung-do breaks free of his captors and grabs Yoon-yi, but his escape is prevented. Someone strikes him, and the blow pushes him off the dock and into the water.

xf10-00222.jpg xf10-00224.jpg

Hyung-do struggles underwater, and a curious light shines from its depths, glowing bright and illuminating little creatures that swim up to him. They are the same little tentacles that had wriggled from the dead fish, and now one of those slivers of alien material shoots into Hyung-do’s nostril.

The moment of impact is marked by the following images:

xf10-00228.jpg xf10-00233.jpg

In a few frames, we shoot through outer space, interspersed with frames of what can only be described as a computer screen that loads in response to making contact with Hyung-do. Just like in the opening scene, we see Earth from an outer-space perspective, reiterating the point that we’re dealing with some sort of extraterrestrial force.

Thankfully, Hyung-do is rescued by someone who dives in after him and drags him out to the surface. It’s the mother of the young girl, who was said to have miscarried.


The elder had considered her miscarriage an unfortunate loss, but unlike the other villagers, she is of clear mind and lacks the distended belly.

Hyung-do asks how the being left her body, and she outlines her symptoms as the same dimness of thought and lack of energy that Yoon-yi had described. But then she began to crave salty food, so she went to the refinery and ate the salt, and that brought her back to normal.

Aha, finally a breakthrough! Hyung-do rushes back to the elder’s estate to address the villagers being held there. He declares that the babies are not the souls of the dead soldiers, nor are they the Dragon King’s children. They are creatures from a faraway world who dropped into the ocean, and have borrowed the villagers’ bodies.

Promising to prove his point, he shoves salt into Yoon-yi’s mouth. The moment the salt makes contact, it has an effect, and the organism living inside her reacts.

Yoon-yi starts to retch, and then — to the horror of all the villagers gathered there — starts to spew a massive amount of water, like a fire hydrant suddenly tapped. As the water gushes from her, we can see the little tentacles of alien matter slithering along in the resulting puddles, heading toward the ocean.

xf10-00261.jpg xf10-00262.jpg

Hyung-do feeds Jang salt too, and gets the same reaction — Jang retches a stream of water, then returns to his normal faculties.

Spurred into action, the rest of the villagers grab at the pile of salt and consume, ridding themselves of their parasitic visitors in the same way. As the tentacles squirm their way back to the sea, a loud, low roar sounds from the ocean.

Hyung-do’s relief is cut short by the elder, who has watched the proceedings with bleakness, knowing that it — whatever he believed IT to be — is at an end. He holds a sword up to Hyung-do’s neck, and draws back to deliver a blow — only to be stopped by the young girl, their Patient Zero.

The girl looks at him calmly and speaks with words that are mature for her young age, saying, “It’s time to go now. Thank you for taking care of us all this time. We’ve healed enough to return.”

The man looks up at her, devastation mixing with hope, and asks, “Are you my son?”

xf10-00282.jpg xf10-00281.jpg

The girl answers, “You people are quite interesting, strange creatures.” And then, she adds (perhaps to lessen the blow), “Thank you. Father.”

The elder clutches the girl to himself tightly, sobbing his son’s name.


Upon the discovery of salt’s potent effects, Jang leads his group of liberated villagers to the salt mill for more, while the roars increase from the sea. They pause at the sight off in the distance of a bright light much like the one from the opening scene — whatever brought them down into the sea is now calling them back up to the skies.

They watch, fascinated, and Jang wonders, “So that’s what was in my belly?”

After a cleansing rain, our trio makes their way back home, their work done here. Hyung-do’s in a much happier frame of mind now, positively giddy, while this time it’s Jang who fights his nausea — no doubt more psychological than physical as he deals with the idea of what had happened to him.

Hyung-do has decided there’s no reason to report the elder, who could technically be tried for treason, because it seems he’s suffered enough. These events have affected him severely anyway.

Seeing that Jang is making friends with the boat’s railing, bracing himself with it as he retches, Hyung-do can’t resist teasing him and brings out something from his pocket. Shoving it in Jang’s face, he asks cheerily, “Would you care to chew on another octopus tentacle? I remember how much you enjoyed it before, so I brought one for you.”

xf10-00297.jpg xf10-00300.jpg

Jang gags and heaves over the side of the boat. Chuckling, Hyung-do takes it for himself.


This episode is less complicated than some others, but I found that there are still little details worked into the plot that fleshed out the story, and I appreciate the attention to detail. For instance: the issue of salt, which is a curious thing given that the village is located right on the coast of a huge body of saltwater. But maybe that’s why the beings needed refuge in healthy, hearty human bodies while they “recovered” from whatever ailment required such convalescence. In the scene when Hyung-do attempts to eat seafood, he notes that the fishy smell is made worse because the food is so bland and unsalted. You’d think that a salt-making village would be liberal with their seasoning, but it goes to show you that the parasites were looking out for themselves, and working their way into their hosts’ bodies via unsalted fish.

What this series has always done so well is injecting these stories with a healthy dose of pathos, which is remarkable given that they have less than an hour to introduce character, set up plots, and tell a story. To do so with emotion and humor is really pretty remarkable. Yet they manage to do it again here with the village elder, who is really a grieving, broken man. It would have been so easy to make him into a simple villain, and a lot of other shows would have stopped there, figuring that it was enough to explain that the alien being was controlling the humans.

But in this episode, we are given a story set up against some rich cultural backstory — the Japanese invasion and the naval ports are well-known bits of Korean history, and also where Admiral Yi Soon-shin fought and died — and the elder is a man grasping at straws out of sheer love for his dead son. It’s interesting that when he first mentions his son’s death, the elder says so with a light, almost casual tone — it’s enough to make you wonder how he can be so blasé about it. So the revelation that his fervent preaching of the Dragon King was all based in a desperate desire to believe his son was returning to him is all the more touching and sad.

Not content with that, the drama also drops some of our funniest moments into the episode, ending with that fabulous bit of taunting by Hyung-do, who’s finally let himself unwind. It’s pretty great.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Joseon X-Files: Episode 11 by javabeans | December 3, 2010 |xf11-00199a.jpg

Episodes 11 and 12 are really two parts of one story (as were Episodes 7 and 8 ) and aired on the same night, so I considered writing them up together. But I think there’s enough to talk about in this one alone, although I plan to have 12 up shortly so we can get to the ending soon enough.

EPISODE 11: “Rebirth of the Dubak God” (Part 1)

xf11-00001.jpg xf11-00004.jpg

The door opens to the vaults of the secret records, the X-Files after which this series is named, and Ji Seung makes his way inside. Once in its depths, he locates a hexagonal red box amongst all the sealed scroll tubes, which is labeled Dubak-gyo, or Cult of Dubak. He takes it and leaves the record hall.

xf11-00014.jpg xf11-00015.jpg

Next, it’s business as usual for our Team X-Files, who gather in the coroner’s office to inspect their latest case, involving a strange corpse. The coroner explains that there are three peculiarities about this man’s body. First, the hand-shaped scorch mark on the man’s chest, which Yoon-yi holds her own hand against and declares as a woman’s handprint.

As Jang heaves up his lunch, the coroner points out the stitching that goes all the way around the man’s neck, connecting severed head to body. Only, the head and body are mismatched; they belong to two separate people.


However, Ji Seung steps in to quiet the coroner before he can explain the third oddity, and curtly dismisses the team. He tells them to keep their mouths shut about this case and step away; it’s something they can leave to the state authorities.

Yoon-yi and Hyung-do exchange perplexed glances; this is uncharacteristic behavior from Ji Seung. Yoon-yi confirms that this is the first time she’s ever seen him act like that.

They talk it out amongst themselves as they eat, and although the matter seems to bother Yoon-yi more than Hyung-do, they both conclude that they want to continue working on the case. Hyung-do agrees to ask Ji Seung for permission to proceed with the investigation — and the camera lingers on a diner at a nearby table who takes particular note of their conversation.

While Yoon-yi hits the books about possible past cases, Hyung-do makes his way to Ji Seung’s office at the government building, only to be told that he’s not here. He hasn’t been seen in a few days, but a subordinate officer recalls Ji Seung planning to make a visit to a particular mountain location, as he does every year.

xf11-00046.jpg xf11-00051.jpg

Hyung-do waits in Ji Seung’s office, where he finds documents illustrated with the image of a man bearing a handprint on his chest. Clearly Ji Seung recognized something about the case and for whatever reason deemed it unsuitable for his team to inspect.

But even stranger is the pipe Hyung-do finds dropped on the floor — the pipe Ji Seung is never seen without. Recalling that Ji Seung is always escorted by an assistant, a formidable guard, they try to locate him — only to find him dead.


All signs indicate that Ji Seung is likely in mortal danger, which puts Shinmuhwe in emergency mode. Another official steps up as interim leader and debriefs the members, instructing them to spread out and search for Ji Seung, making sure to keep their movements secretive.

Although there’s no concrete evidence linking the disappearance to the latest case of the scorched corpse, Hyung-do suspects that Ji Seung has been investigating on his own, without the rest of Shinmuhwe. Jang wants to believe he’s just off in a gibang, being coddled by an attentive gisaeng, but that’s just wishful thinking fueled by his own cowardly desire to avoid further creepy encounters. You can always count on Jang to opt for the path of least scariness.

xf11-00079.jpg xf11-00087.jpg

Agreeing to meet up with Yoon-yi tomorrow, the team splits up and the men head to the mountain location to which Ji Seung makes his yearly pilgrimages. It turns out to be a Buddhist temple, and a curious tablet set at the altar piques Hyung-do’s curiosity. The monk has no insight into the meaning of the symbol on the tablet, which is a star set within a group of concentric circles, but Hyung-do’s intuition tells him it’s worth noting.

xf11-00092.jpg xf11-00090.jpg

And so it is, as Yoon-yi discovers upon meeting with the coroner, who shows her the body’s third peculiarity. At the base of the neck, just above the stitches connecting head to body, is a small tattoo bearing exactly the same mark.

Busily, she gets to work researching the mark and her books, and comes up with the symbol — which Hyung-do and Jang both immediately recognize.

xf11-00106.jpg xf11-00113.jpg

Yoon-yi links the mark to the Dubak-gyo, which is the name given to a cult that created an uproar 20 years ago and was subsequently wiped out by the government, who viewed them as a state threat.

It began when a man named Kang Yu-seok was struck by lightning, after which he developed mysterious powers, which he attributed to the god Dubak. He found that with his electrified touch, he could revive the dead and heal the sick, and therefore amassed a large following of believers.

xf11-00117.jpg xf11-00121.jpg

The government felt they were a danger to the peace, and declared Kang and all of his followers traitors, executing them as well as their families.

Or at least that’s how the story goes. Yoon-yi states that although Kang Yu-seok did exist, he didn’t create the cult himself.


To gain further insight, the team visit’s the official state shaman at the palace, asking her for more background on Kang and the cult.

The blind woman answers in a detached, semi-cryptic way that the victors are the ones who write history, implying that the official opinion on Dubak-gyo has been distorted by those in power. In fact, she states that the religion had brought solace to those who died unjustly, and did not arise a simple 20 years ago but dates as far back as the reign of King Taejo (in the 14th century, three centuries prior to this drama’s timeline).

xf11-00134.jpg xf11-00136.jpg

The shaman adds that some people don’t believe the truth that is right in front of them, and even may hide the truth to create injustice. Hyung-do bristles at her answers, which border on treasonous, and asks her to clarify — is she saying that Dubak-gyo was in the right, then? And does it still exist?

The shaman backs off with ambiguous responses, and the team decides that they’ve gotten as much information as they will from her. Rising to go, they file out of the room — which is when a bunch of round metal bells tinkle from their resting place, despite a lack of provocation. Hyung-do looks at them with suspicion before making his exit.


They debrief with the interim Shinmuhwe leader that night, trying to make sense of Ji Seung’s involvement with the cult. Hyung-do argues that Ji Seung isn’t the type of person to associate with such wicked types, and deduces that the government, afraid of the cult’s growing influence with the people, would have put Shinmuhwe in charge of suppressing them. Which means Ji Seung would have been in charge of that role, as the head of Shinmuhwe.

The interim leader confirms his suspicions, and Yoon-yi suspects that Dubak-gyo still has active followers, even if they’re not as visible as they once were.

xf11-00162.jpg xf11-00173.jpg

She’s right; the group has been driven underground but is still active, as we see when a group of them assume a false cover to head to their secret meeting spot.

A body is prepared at the altar, a man’s head sewn to the corpse of another, under the careful watch of their leader. Then another leader is called forth — the state shaman, not blind after all — and she holds up her hands, which spark with electricity.

xf11-00187.jpg xf11-00191.jpg

Placing her hands over the man’s decayed flesh, the shaman shoots sparks into his chest. Acting like some sort of ancient magical defibrillator, the current jolts him back to life. The followers look on in excitement as the man gets up and walks along the table haltingly… until he crumples and falls off, dead again.

Ah, so the cult is trying to revive their old leader, but they have been unsuccessful. This is their sixth failure, and the shaman decides that it’s time to bring in the big guns. Reviving mere flesh and blood isn’t enough; true revival means resurrecting the spirit of the Dubak god. In order to do that, they need their sacred artifact — some mysterious object that is currently out of their possession.

As Hyung-do works, an arrow is shot directly into the room, lodging in a nearby post. A message is tied to the shaft, and he reads the demand that calls for him to show up alone at a particular meeting spot in the mountain — a message that is signed by Ji Seung, but whose voiceover is given by a different person, we might note.

Hyung-do keeps this information from Yoon-yi, who returns from a research mission after finding out that the Dubak records have been classified. They suspect that Dubak followers have managed to work their way into the palace, which means they must take additional care to keep their movements secret.

xf11-00211.jpg xf11-00214.jpg

Hyung-do heads out to the designated meeting place, telling Yoon-yi where he’s going but not why, explaining that he’ll fill her in when he’s back. There, he is greeted by a shady-looking man (the Dubak cult leader), who starts to lead him away to meet Ji Seung.

Hyung-do is, naturally, extremely wary of being at their mercy, although it’s hardly like he has much of a choice. The leader produces Ji Seung’s identification tag to prove that he is telling the truth — and the instant Hyung-do reaches for his sword, hidden men emerge to hold their own swords to his throat.

All pretenses of fair negotiation aside, Hyung-do is blindfolded and bound, led through the mountains by his captors. He has enough foresight to drop little green balls in the road behind him at periodic intervals, marking the way like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of breadcrumbs.

He is taken to the same meeting place where the cult’s failed ritual took place, which is also where Ji Seung is being held. As Ji Seung jolts awake from unconsciousness, a flashback shows us how he was taken in the first place — his tobacco, prepared by his trusted assistant, was drugged. Hence the dropped pipe.

xf11-00239.jpg xf11-00254.jpg

Hyung-do’s blindfold is removed and he sputters in righteous indignation at their treatment. The cult leader seems to find his anger quaint and gets to the point: Ji Seung harbors a particular object within his vault of case files. That is the cult’s sacred artifact, and if he wishes to emerge from this alive, he will hand it over.

Ji Seung remains stoic and instructs Hyung-do not to negotiate, but Hyung-do’s panic drives him to consider the deal. He argues to his boss, “There is nothing more precious than life.” Ji Seung counters, “The secret files are more important than my life.”

But against his boss’s will, Hyung-do agrees to their condition, leaving Ji Seung shouting after him, trying to insist that they stand their ground. As Hyung-do is led away, he asks Ji Seung if he was the one who killed the cult leader 20 years ago. Ji Seung doesn’t answer, but his look of despair and hanged head give us his answer.

In the morning, Hyung-do awakens to find himself untied, and hurries back to the city.

xf11-00268.jpg xf11-00269.jpg

Yoon-yi and Jang have more questions to ask of the shaman, but they are informed by an assistant that the shaman is out to perform ceremonial rites elsewhere. With no reason to hang around, the two head out, but as Yoon-yi closes the door she catches a glimpse of the assistant turning away from her — and the woman bears a Dubak tattoo at the base of her neck.

This serves as confirmation that she and the state shaman are both affiliated with Dubak-gyo.

Hyung-do arrives back in the city, tired and out of sorts, and shares his dilemma with his team. He only has until midnight to comply with the cult’s demands to produce the artifact, and although he’s pretty sure that Ji Seung is still hiding something, he has no idea what. And with his own limited knowledge, he isn’t sure what the right thing to do is.


Still, he can’t just abandon his boss to certain death, so he heads to the record vault that evening, pretending he’s just there to file a record. He finds the red box marked Dubak-gyo and takes it with him.

Naturally the guards won’t let him carry anything out of these high-security records, so Hyung-do surprises them with an attack — though he precedes it with an earnest, “I’m sorry for this.”

xf11-00295.jpg xf11-00303.jpg

While Hyung-do makes his way back to the cult’s meeting place — alone, of course — Jang and Yoon-yi also head into the woods, with a team of police in tow as backup. They follow Hyung-do’s trail of breadcrumbs, growing more excited as they collect 11 of the 12 total.

Hyung-do is again blindfolded as he is led to the cult base, but when he is allowed to remove the blindfold once there, he looks around in confusion. The leader smirks and informs him that his officers haven’t followed him here, so he can give up on that hope — he’d noticed the dropped balls and sabotaged the trail.

Sure enough, when Jang picks up the last marker, the team discovers that they’ve been led on a false trail culminating in a dead end. The police are angered to be taken on a wild goose chase, but worse yet, this leaves both Hyung-do and Ji Seung in mortal peril, without any hope of rescue.

The cult leader takes the sacred artifact from Hyung-do and presents it to the shaman, who accepts it excitedly.

xf11-00320.jpg xf11-00318.jpg

Somewhere in a cave dotted with icicles, the shaman sets the red box in front of an altar, where she kneels and addresses her father. Opening a black box reveals a severed head — Kang Yu-seok, the old cult leader — preserved in a block of ice.

With tears in her eyes, the shaman says that in two days, he will be resurrected — through his enemy’s body. She assures him that preparations have been completed, now that they have their artifact. And their enemy.

xf11-00333.jpg xf11-00336.jpg

Turns out that Ji Seung is the enemy in more than a symbolic sense as the head of Shinmuhwe. A flashback to Kang’s execution shows us that the man who delivered the deathblow was Ji Seung himself.

With face covered, the shaman makes her way to the room where Ji Seung is being kept, watching as he seems to doze. But when he raises his head to see her, she whirls away quickly, as though not wanting to be recognized. He demands to know why she won’t look him face to face — where’s the bravado that led to his kidnapping?

And so, she turns back and glares at him fiercely, angrily, before stalking out.



I love all the little clues and puzzle pieces that fit together — there’s enough room left for interpretation, but enough careful planning that shows they know where they’re going with everything. I’m sure some points will be explained in further detail in the finale, but even if they weren’t, we’re able to draw the connections here.

For instance, take Ji Seung’s yearly pilgrimages to the temple, which we can link to his lingering reaction to the execution he performed. Although we aren’t told so explicitly, we can read his conflicted feelings in his response (or non-response) to Hyung-do’s question of whether he was the one to kill the leader. It makes sense if he is still haunted by that, even if those feelings don’t supersede his loyalty to his overriding cause, Truth.

Also, note the parallels in this scenario and the one in the series opener, when Hyung-do was put in the position of saving his mentor, only to realize he’d been used as a pawn when the Gangwon-do governor was executed anyway. Hyung-do can’t let it happen again and agrees to the deal to save Ji Seung — and yet, this situation is so similar. He has to play their game in order to get Ji Seung back, but without the assurance that they’ll honor their promise anyway. There’s a good chance Hyung-do will face the same result, because why would the cult give back the man whose job it is to hunt down the cult? But he has to try, and so he does.

I only hope that it isn’t a fruitless gesture, because I notice that Ji Seung carries out the red box in the beginning of the episode. We don’t see what he does with it, and perhaps he was just examining it for clues — but there’s always the possibility that he has swapped out the contents, or done something with them to prevent the cult from getting their grubby hands on it.

I don’t suppose the finale is going to answer all the questions raised by the series thus far, and I don’t expect that it will, but even if we must leave some things open-ended, I like seeing hints of linking threads between episodes. For instance, although this episode had nothing to do with monsters, aliens, or ghosts, we still have motifs involving electricity, metal, and water, which recur in most if not all of the episodes.

Recall the haunted house episode (#6), where strange things happened in stormy weather, culminating with lightning striking the metal rods and metallic objects acting of some other force. Or the episode after that, where rain erased “traces” of people in New Land. Or Yoon-yi falling into a dry well that contained a magnetic metal pole. Or the compass needles that went crazy in the presence of water (Episode 4) or metal (Episode 6). While the motifs aren’t played as strongly in this episode, they’re still there, which I appreciate: Both father and daughter have the power to conduct/command electricity, and there’s even a brief moment when the metal bells jingle in the shaman’s quarters.

Only one episode left! I hope it’s a good one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joseon X-Files: Episode 12 (Final) by javabeans | December 8, 2010 |


Finally, we reach the end of what I feel confident declaring one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent memory. I’ve seen a lot of dramas in the past year, and although there have been a lot of disappointments, just having one this good come along every year makes it worth it. (Last year I had two such dramas: Story of a Man and Return of Iljimae.)

The ending didn’t wrap everything up in a neat bow, and I suspect some may not be happy with the open-endedness. I’ll join you in having wished for a few more answers, but ultimately I’m too impressed with this drama to be upset. I do have some lingering questions, but they’re questions that really can’t be given concrete answers anyway. What this drama did do was raise them in an intriguing, thought-provoking way with wit and style, which is pretty remarkable in and of itself.

FINAL EPISODE: “Rebirth of the Dubak God” (Part 2)


Having been led astray in the woods, Hyung-do’s teammates despair, since they have no way to save him or Ji Seung. In their distress, they don’t notice that a man watches them from a distance.

Hyung-do awakens in the cult’s lair, tied to a column and utterly helpless. The leader receives confirmation that his would-be rescue team has retreated.

With the cult’s secret artifact in her possession, the shaman sits at the altar before the frozen head of her father (never thought I’d type that sentence), praying to her predecessors who were wrongly accused and killed, promising that resurrection is near. With barely contained excitement, she cuts through the seal and opens the red box, revealing… nothing.

xf12-00027.jpg xf12-00034.jpg

It’s empty. Ji Seung had, in fact, made sure to swap out boxes prior to his kidnapping. Now the shaman starts to sob, screaming in her fury.

Angered to be thus thwarted, the shaman has Hyung-do brought before her. She doesn’t get the answer she wants, however, because Hyung-do is utterly confused when his captors accuse him of messing with their artifact. He risked much, and violated laws in the process, to bring it to them. The shaman sees that he’s telling the truth, and decides to try another strategy.

As Ji Seung sleeps in his chair, the shaman creeps up behind him and places her hand at the back of his neck. She shoots electricity into his body, her face twisting in hatred. She doesn’t kill him, though it’s undoubtedly painful, because she has bigger plans in store for him.

xf12-00055.jpg xf12-00061.jpg

Yoon-yi and Jang meet with Shinmuhwe’s interim leader, who warns them that Hyung-do is wanted for stealing from the official archives. Deciding that their best way into the cult is to make use of the court shaman’s apprentice, Yoon-yi paints a false tattoo on Jang’s neck to match those on the cult members. He makes his way to her chambers, disguised as a cult member disguised as a police officer.

Jang makes it a point to show the tattoo to the apprentice, who immediately understands that he’s an ally. She asks if has a message from the leader, and Jang fumbles to answer correctly. He’s not so good at this masquerade business, which gives this scene a humorous tone as he tries to maintain the ruse without giving himself away. He flubs the moment by referring to the shaman by the wrong term, but thankfully the apprentice isn’t too suspicious.

For instance, when she asks where she is supposed to meet the shaman — which Jang has no idea how to answer — he blusters, “You should already know that!” Lucky for him, she accepts that and hurries away to the cult headquarters.

xf12-00077.jpg xf12-00082.jpg

Yoon-yi and Jang follow her, excited that their plan is working — but they fail to see that someone else has seen them, and that they are in turn being followed. It’s only when they’re far along the mountain trail that Jang spots their pursuer, but it’s too late. The man raises a whistle to sound an alarm.

Immediately, armed men emerge from their hiding spots, surrounding the duo, and hold them at swordpoint.


When Ji Seung comes to his senses following the electric shock, the shaman instructs him to look at her, and asks, “Do you recognize me?” He does: “Su-hee. So it’s you. Kang Yu-seok’s daughter.”

Ji Seung had spared Su-hee’s life twenty years ago, but she scoffs at it now, calling it a petty mercy to keep her alive after her father and the entire cult had been wiped out. Was it an act of pity, or did he perhaps realize that the cult had been right along? Na matter; that Dubak and her father will be revived soon, on the night when the energy in the heavens is at its peak. She has waited twenty years to avenge her father.

Ji Seung urges her to stop these “meaningless acts,” but she laughs in his face and demands the return of her artifact. By now, she has even greater leverage to use against him, because Yoon-yi and Jang are dragged into the building, as well as Hyung-do. Ji Seung may not value his own life above the artifact, but perhaps he’ll change his mind to have the lives of these three at his mercy.

Well, they say all’s fair in war (also love, but something tells me we won’t be bringing love into this argument), but still, Ji Seung finds this a low blow and accuses Su-hee of repaying his mercy with wickedness. He tells her insistently that there was nobody to blame for her father’s death.

She understands that he’s not going to hand it over, and gives the signal. A noose is slipped around Yoon-yi’s neck and her head pulled taut against a wooden beam. She screams in pain as the rope is pulled.

xf12-00115.jpg xf12-00110.jpg

In a panic to save her, Hyung-do shouts to Ji Seung about divulging the artifact’s true location — is it truly so important to him that he would sacrifice Yoon-yi? With a haunted expression, Ji Seung looks at Yoon-yi crying against the rope, his inner principles fighting with his desire to save her life.

For long moments it seems he may sacrifice her, but finally, Ji Seung can’t take it and yells for them to stop, tears in his eyes.

The shaman smirks in victory, but still she holds back, not giving the signal to let go of the noose, wanting more from him. So reluctantly he gives in, telling Hyung-do to go and fetch the artifact. It’s at the temple — the one in the mountains that he visits every year.

Ji Seung hangs his head in defeat, and a flashback takes us back twenty years, when he had faced Kang Yu-seok, then a more junior government official. The cult leader had been condemned to death for inciting rebellion, and Ji Seung had tried to persuade him to admit that everything he had been saying was merely lies, in order to spare his own life and save the lives of many.

Kang had refused to renounce his beliefs, and stated that his powers began ten years ago, on the day he saw a grand light in the sky. Declaring that he has not been telling lies, he insists that he is innocent of any crime.


Ji Seung had countered that he stirred up the people an incited rebellion, but Kang argued that as the “Lightning Man,” all he had done was heal injuries and bring stopped hearts back to life. What is there to fear? Him? The citizenry?

What they fear is the unknown, Kang had said, bursting into wild laughter.

On execution day, the executioner had had trouble delivering the deathblow; his blade had stopped at Kang’s neck, where electricity had shot through the metal and paralyzed the man. Ji Seung, standing behind them, had stepped up swiftly to finish the deed with his own sword — and that’s when he felt the electricity himself.

xf12-00129.jpg xf12-00133.jpg

Later, Ji Seung had sought out the monk at the temple.Realizing that Kang had been right about man most fearing the unknown, he had announced to the monk his intention to record the things they don’t understand. That’s the only way he will be able to move past fear, and to atone for his sin against the young daughter.

As he had said this to the monk, playing out in front of the temple had been young Su-hee — who had begun to discover her own power to shoot electricity through her hands, and to command metallic objects toward herself.


Hyung-do leads two cult members through the woods to the temple, hurrying because his team’s survival depends on the success of his mission. He periodically casts glances back at his guards, but it’s not a good time to attempt escape.

The cult prepares for their resurrection night, during which Dubak will be resurrected through the body of his enemy: Ji Seung. However, since Daddy Dearest’s head is on hand to be sewn onto the new vessel, they can discard his head.

With his usefulness nearing an end, Ji Seung is led outside to a noose. He bears his fate with silent dignity, although Yoon-yi and Jang struggle in vain against their ropes, understanding that he is being led to his death. It won’t occur for a while yet, though, because he is placed on a block of ice, ensuring that his strangling will be long and slow as it melts in the sun.

Arriving at the temple, Hyung-do begins searching for the artifact’s hiding place. Recognition sparks when he sees the monk’s gourd — that wooden sphere that monks strike in rhythmic chants. There’s a hole in its side, revealing a glint of something metallic inside. But Hyung-do acts casual, not immediately alerting the guards as he takes a closer look.

One of his captors slowly reaches for his sword behind Hyung-do’s back, but his shadow gives him away, and Hyung-do whirls around in time to avoid injury. He knocks him out with a blow to the head, then turns to deal with the second guard, who comes at him with a sword.

xf12-00174.jpg xf12-00183.jpg

Hyung-do evades, managing to unarm him and knock him to the ground. It’s only then that he sees the gourd that has split open, revealing the metal ball lodged in the center. He recognizes this object, having seen several of them up close in Episodes 1 and 2 — first at the deserted village, then on the mountaintop where they whizzed by to join the strange ship in the sky, and then when it lodged itself into that hunter’s chest and killed him with an electric charge. He recalls how the man had shot the ball, which was the lifeless hunk of metal Ji Seung had pretended not to recognize on his first official meeting with Hyung-do.

xf12-00187.jpg xf12-00193.jpg

Leaving the guards unconscious at the temple, Hyung-do races back with the ball tucked in his sleeve. Briefly changing his mind, Hyung-do turns and starts on another path — is he heading away? Fighting his exhaustion, Hyung-do powers through and keeps running.

Ji Seung spends the day awaiting his doom on his icy pedestal, forced up on his tiptoes as the block gradually shrinks. The cult members anxiously await Hyung-do’s return, swearing in frustration to see that their promised storm is already beginning to brew — they can’t proceed with the resurrection without their artifact, and they’re running out of time.

Finally, Hyung-do bursts through the gates and holds up the ball, later than intended but here after all. He demands Ji Seung’s release before handing over the ball, while the cult demands just the opposite. Since neither side trusts the other, they find themselves at a standstill, the quickly approaching storm infusing the exchange with added urgency.

Both sides order the other to let go of their quarry first, but since neither side has cause to trust the other, they’re at a standstill.

xf12-00209.jpg xf12-00211.jpg

Hyung-do draws out a gun — ah, the thing he must have turned back for — and points it at the metal ball like a robber taking a hostage. The cult members scoff at his threat to shoot their precious artifact if they don’t release Ji Seung first, and the man closest to Hyung-do advances to claim the ball by force. Hyung-do shoots him without a moment of hesitation.

That momentarily shocks the man, but the leader points out that he’ll have to reload the gun. The gang advances again, albeit more cautiously this time. Yet Hyung-do smirks and tosses the gun away — and then produces a second gun. He shoots the man in front, and now the cult baddies are genuinely worried.

The gang backs away fearfully when Hyung-do produces his third gun, which he wields while making his way to Ji Seung, whom he releases from his noose. And then the thunderstorm breaks.

Still inside, Yoon-yi and Jang struggle against their ropes. With their backs to each other, they are able to free each other, and make their way outside.

The shaman retrieves her father’s head from its box, announcing that the time has come, and carries it outside, she finds her men engaged in standoff. Hyung-do’s advantage is slowly slipping away as the cult gang’s confidence grows, while his diminishes. Ji Seung is conscious but weak, and can offer no help.

The shaman orders her men to retrieve the artifact, urging them not to fear death because they will be revived. With that, her Number 2 gives a battle cry and starts to attack. Hyung-do shoots him.

xf12-00234.jpg xf12-00229.jpg

He has used his last gun, but he grabs the man’s sword and threatens to smash the artifact to pieces. The men stay back warily, but the shaman advances steadily. Registering the intensity of her gaze, Hyung-do asks incredulously, “Do you really believe in resurrection?”

Ji Seung realizes too late what the shaman means to do when she reaches up to touch Hyung-do’s sword with her bare hands — he yells a warning, but it’s no use. The shaman’s hands shoot electricity into the blade and into Hyung-do, who tries to hang on as long as he can, finally letting go and falling to his knees in pain.

Deciding to rid herself of the pesky troublemaker, the shaman grabs Hyung-do’s sword. She swings it at Hyung-do in a downward slash…

At the last moment, he reaches up to block the blade’s path — with the alien ball. Both metallic objects spark, conducting the current along its surface and into Hyung-do. Still, he refuses to let go and powers through the agony.

xf12-00238.jpg xf12-00244.jpg

Behind everyone, Yoon-yi and Jang creep out of the building quietly, and knock down one cult member from behind. They’re outnumbered but at least they’re armed, and start fighting from the rear. Yoon-yi loses her sword and a man holds his blade up to her neck…

But she’s spared as the secondary battle pauses while the primary one — between the shaman and Hyung-do — escalates.

The light grows between the metallic objects, and is such a surprising sight that everybody stops fighting as they watch the showdown in shock and awe. And then, an even greater light emerges, this time coming from above. It’s the great vessel in the sky, arriving as though summoned.

xf12-00250.jpg xf12-00251.jpg

xf12-00248.jpg xf12-00253.jpg

The white light blinds everyone for long moments, transfixing everyone, and then disappears with a loud whoosh! Just as it did that day atop the five-peaked mountain.

We fade away from the scene, and when we resume, we pick up with Jang walking through the marketplace. It’s an ordinary day, but he pauses to cast a long, saddened look up into the sky. And then he calls himself back to normal life, continuing onward with a happy smile to regard his food purchases for the day.

xf12-00254.jpg xf12-00261.jpg

Ji Seung enters the record hall to add another sealed file into his vault of secrets. He lingers there for a moment, taking out an identity tag with a sorrowful expression. The tag is Kim Hyung-do’s… which he can only have if Hyung-do is dead.

And yet, perhaps he’s not entirely dead… Elsewhere, we join Hyung-do as he opens his eyes in the sunlight, as though he’s just becoming aware of his surroundings.

xf12-00266.jpg xf12-00268.jpg

Hyung-do looks along the deserted beach, his body the only one dotting the long expanse of sand.

And then, turning his head, another face becomes visible in the mist. Yoon-yi stands a short distance away, and he calls out her name.


She smiles at him and says, “I knew you would come. Do you believe in rebirth of the dead?” (The words she uses connotes that she’s really asking him, “Now will you believe in rebirth?” as though asking him to believe.)

His reply is in keeping with the logical Hyung-do we have come to expect:

“Might not the truth hidden in those library records be merely illusions created by our own desires? However, our lives have not for one moment been illusions — because it is something precious that I am given only once. I will live not for those illusions but for reality.”

xf12-00282.jpg xf12-00285.jpg

A wise answer, or perhaps more of a decision. Yoon-yi understands the implication, and asks, “So will you leave this place?”

He looks out at sea, and this scene is perhaps just as eloquent in its pregnant pauses as it is in its words. Hyung-do answers, “I saw it.” Yoon-yi asks, “What did you see?” He replies, “I know… who you are.”


Facing her now, Hyung-do walks toward Yoon-yi, closing the gap between them. He stops when he’s an arm’s distance away, and they both turn to look out at the sea.

The intense whiteness washes over them, and Yoon-yi disappears into the light, so that when Hyung-do turns back to face her again, he’s finds that he’s alone.



First, the ending:

What does it mean? Is it an allusion to rebirth, just as the episode was about spiritual rebirth? Is the beach a representation of the afterlife, or maybe some spiritual in-between? Are he and Yoon-yi from different dimensions? And most pressingly, did Hyung-do die?

Honestly, I don’t think there are solid, definitive answers, and I’m not even sure that the writers intended that. The finale didn’t wrap everything up in a pat way, and I expected as much because that has been the pattern in the individual episodes: the mystery was solved in one sense, but often it opened the door to an even greater mystery. Which is in keeping with the spirit of the original X-Files, a show I went back and started watching after beginning this one.

Speaking of which: At the outset, I’d wondered if Joseon X-Files (aka Secret Book aka Secret Investigation Record) would be too much of a ripoff of the X-Files concept, and you can’t deny the obvious inspiration and similarities. But the whole Joseon part of it? That’s a hugely compelling part of this drama, because it imbues the paranormal question with added significance, back in a time when questioning the official government line was tantamount to suicide.

But back to the ending. At first I was left puzzling over what it meant, but as is the case with a lot of the episodes, the more I think about it, the more I like it, and am even moved by it.

Hyung-do seemingly “awakens” on the beach — not from sleep, but as in awareness. He squints, looks around, and finds himself in this strange place. Is it real? If he’s the one who died, why is Yoon-yi also here? Is she here to guide him to the next dimension, or to send him off?


He has spent the series battling between the physical truth and this hazy, confusing Unknown Truth out there that Ji Seung is set on pursuing. In an early episode, just after he has failed to save his teacher and is drinking in depression, Jang offers him up some startlingly wise advice: that the “truth” is not as important as reality. Even if the dead governor’s words were true, if everybody believes him to be a traitorous insurgent, that is the reality that matters.

Ji Seung occupies the other end of the spectrum, always choosing that elusive, eternal, absolute Truth. He’s not so cold and principled that he doesn’t falter at times, because he cares for Yoon-yi enough to cave for a moment, but ultimately he sides with the greater truth. He says that uncovering the unknown is the way to defeat man’s fear of it, and is therefore the way to defeat the ugly weakness of human nature that drives man to hurt his fellow man. Perhaps in that sense he’s the noblest of them all, because he wants to get to the root of the problem, and is willing to make smaller sacrifices in pursuit of the greater good.

I don’t argue that Ji Seung’s is the right way, because that line of thinking can lead us down some slippery slopes; I just point out that Hyung-do makes the opposite decision, to do good in his own life. That he can’t be sure of that greater Truth out there, and what if it turns out that he’s been pursuing a falsity all this while? No, he chooses to act for what he values precious, his reality.

So Hyung-do chooses life over Truth. Or rather, he decides that more important than Truth is living his life with meaning.

In short, we give our lives meaning. We decide what we value, and we fight for that.

That’s why I’m inclined to believe that the beach is where he parts ways with Yoon-yi and Ji Seung — physically, sure, but also ideologically. Maybe you can see it as akin to taking the blue pill and returning home to the familiar rather than pursuing the big black vastness out there. But I think it’s a bit nobler than that, because he makes his choice with open eyes: perhaps he isn’t convinced that Ji Seung’s ends-justify-the-means outlook is the way that gives his life most meaning. So Yoon-yi, on the side of Truth, goes back to wherever she was. After briefly sharing the same plane of existence with each other (as they did in New Land), they’re off pursuing their separate truths.

At least, that’s how I see it. For now. Other interpretations welcome!

xf2-00214.jpg xf7-00175.jpg

That sort of takes care of the question of who Yoon-yi is. I hadn’t initially thought of the New Land episodes (7 & 8 ) beyond the plot level, but it sort of fits with the overall message, doesn’t it? New Land Yoon-yi tells Hyung-do, as she ushers him back to his own reality, that she cannot go with him but that perhaps they might meet again someday. They seem destined to cross each other’s paths in various “realities,” but not to stay together.

I read a Korean blog where the writer wondered if Hyung-do were destined to keep being “reborn,” and that things would repeat. I’m not sure I subscribe to that theory, but it’s an interesting one to consider, particularly since rebirth is such a big theme.

In that way, I love that the drama went out on a message rather than a plot. Because I’m not sure that there’s a way that the plot of an X-Files type story — this one, or any other — could be resolved to satisfaction. It was enough for me to see that there was an overarching theme, and to admire the way that we gradually saw how the seemingly disparate plots were linked together.

For instance, the mark of Dubak-gyo: We saw it in the haunted house in the red talisman dating back to the Goryeo era, as well as painted on the wall underneath the mural of the many-armed god. (It’s not the main large circular painting, but off in the corner.) It’s also the mark in the prophet’s den, the pattern that indicated where to find Hyung-do when he was lost in the well, after he’d made his trip back from New Land.

xf9-00178.jpg xf1-00189.jpg

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a tiny part of me holds out hope for a season 2, which isn’t SO outlandish because it’s a cable show, and generally cable dramas are more likely to produce multiple seasons (see: Rude Miss Young-ae, Chosun Police). But with Kim Ji-hoon off to the army for two years, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

I’ve liked Kim Ji-hoon for a while, since seeing him first in the underrated 2007 drama Flowers For My Life, after which he acted in a string of dramas playing good-looking but somewhat flat characters (Golden Age of the Daughter-in-Law, Love & Marriage). He didn’t blow me away here, but I do think he was solid in the role, and it’s the best I’ve seen him act. His dry sense of humor and his gruff, sorta-stodgy air really worked with Hyung-do’s straitlaced personality.

This is also my first time seeing Im Jung-eun act, and even though the romance angle was given almost no time at all to play out, I loved the relationship between the two characters, and the unspoken bond that sprung up between them. It’s not a love story; their affection, or however they choose to define it, is one more thread connecting them, but it doesn’t take the fore in this story. There are bigger decisions to make and realities to pursue.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched a drama that’s been so well-written and -executed — often dramas can be entertaining and addictive without being written strongly — so I’m happy to have found one in Joseon X-Files, and a little sad to let it go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest thunderbolt

An epic review of Joseon X-Files by four reviewers:


Includes discussion of the ending. ENJOY!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest si-murg



* Title: ???? / Gichalbirok

* Also known as: ??X??: ???? / Joseon X-Files: Secret Book

* Episodes: 12

* Genre: Period, mystery, sci-fi

* Broadcast network: tvN

* Broadcast period: 2010-Aug-20 to 2010-Oct-29

* Air time: Friday 24:00


Secret Investigation Record is based on cases detailed in the Annals of Joseon History with a bizarre twist; these incidents incorporate mysterious, supernatural elements that cannot be explained through science. Kim Hyung Do is an inspector of the state whose single-minded focus on his investigations into administrative misdeeds bring him into direct contact with these strange mysteries. Heo Yoon Yi is a government employee who aids him and attempts to understand these scientific impossibilities with an open mind, in contrast to his cynicism.


General           : Joseon.X-Files.E01.720p.HDTV.x264.mkv

Format            : Matroska at 3508 Kbps

Length            : 1,09 GB for 44mn 36s 544ms

Video #0          : AVC at 3054 Kbps

Aspect            : 1280 x 720 (1.778) at 23.976 fps

Audio #0          : AC3 at 384 Kbps

Infos             : 2 channels, 48.0 KHz

Language          : Korean

Subtitle          : English (srt)

IMDB              : N/A
RS | No Pass | % 3 Recovery Record | English subtitle | Enjoy!
























Episode 1


Episode 2


Episode 3


Episode 4


Episode 5


Episode 6


Episode 7


Episode 8


Episode 9


Episode 10


Episode 11


Episode 12



Link to comment
Share on other sites



French subtitles → CHAN Version

Based on WithS2's translation

Here you go, my first subtitles' release ever ^^

I won't translate all the episodes of this drama (the subtitle part is fine but it took me forever to write the side notes lol ) but it was really interesting to dig the cultural references, I learned so many things in just one episode... At least, I will try to translate the 2nd one.

So far (I'm up to episode 06) I really like this drama and I just wanted to share a (tiny) part of it in my mother tongue, so... ENJOY !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
Guest iluvjin

Does anyone know where I can find the OST for this drama? Just watched this drama recently and am totally amazed by it! I really love the OST but can't seem to find it anywhere. Thank you so much if you can help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
Guest kaedejun

Secret Investigation Records is now on DramaFever! Full episodes subbed!


And on Hulu!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..