Moorim School: Saga of the Brave 무림학교
Episode 6 [Even a small body can defeat a greater force.]
Shi Woo is ready to confront his trauma and talk about it. “I see a child. In the fire, the child is crying. There is someone else there, too.” Sun Ah is surprised at his description. Dean Kwang looks on from the back door. Later, she talks with Dad Dean and asks how can “my Shi Woo” have the same trauma as her. Is it fate, she wonders? Dad Dean plays it down and says every kid plays with fire and dismisses her concerns. After she leaves, he glances over at the picture of him and Sun Ah on his desk.
Luna (who is she, anyhoot?) runs into Chae Yoon’s hospital room and finds him awake after 18 years in a coma. She reports it to Chairman Hao.
Shi Woo and Chi Ang have bathroom duty again. When Ariel dashes in to wash her hands, Chi Ang takes the opportunity to get a wish coupon from her: if he wins the competition (against Shi Woo) she owes him a date. She takes it lightly and brushes it off, but for him, it’s a promise he looks forward to.
The students play a game of rock-scissors-paper to determine laundry duty. Soon Deok tells Shi Woo to make a fist thinking they will win that way, but they end up losing and have to wash everyone’s dirty clothes. They decide to use the “experience” for basic training and set up the buckets for center of balance and strength practice. As they stomp in buckets of water, Soon Deok asks about the child in the fire. Shi Woo isn’t sure if it’s him or not. He heard he was abandoned in the forest as a child, he tells her. Soon Deok says the newspaper stories report his parents are in the States. Of course, the agency made that up for image sake, but he has actually lived as an orphan, he tells her.
Sun Ah trains Chi Ang. She’s put flour pockets on the end of the staffs to mark the opponent. Sun Ah is ranked number one and trains hard.When it’s quitting time, Chi Ang wants to practice more: a wish coupon is on the line.
Suh Ah has done some hardcore practicing herself, doubling up training Chi Ang with wearing wrist weights.The entire student body trains 24/7 for the upcoming martial arts exams.
“Know yourself and your enemy to win.” With that thought, Soon Deok has a brilliant idea. She uses kitchen prep time with Chi Ang to get information on the “enemy’s” strategy to help train Shi Woo. Chi Ang is a fountain of information, happy to have time alone with Areil and not suspecting a thing. He tells her they practice every day with wrist weights for strength and power. Armed with the enemy’s tactics, Soon Deok runs to Shi Woo’s room and tells him they need to change their strategy for tomorrow’s test.
Dean Kwang thinks over Shi Woo’s words from the meditation exercise that morning. He pulls out a picture from a drawer and wonders, “Is he alive?” He is referring to Chae Yoon, Shi Woo’s father who stands with him in the picture from the past.
Chairman Hao stands at the bedside of Chae Yoon. He tells him he was worried he wouldn’t ever wake up. Chae Yoon doesn’t recognize him and asks who he is to which Chairman answers, “I”m Wang Hao, the head of Sang Hae Group and the sponsor of Moorim Institute.” Chae Yoon asks where his children are, but Chairman Hao tells him he needs to get his strength back and to concentrate on that.
It’s time for some shut eye, exams are in the morning.
First round – Sun Ah, ranked #1 versus Yub Jung, ranked #2. Yub Jung draws for the event: it’s hand-to-hand-combat, his specialty. The two are skilled and evenly matched. The score: a tie. Feels a little uneventful and underwhelming.
Next, the teacher calls up the two lowest ranked students to spar. Chi Ang and Shi Woo are up, and their mentors give them a confident nod. Chi Ang is bigger and stronger and seems to have the advantage. The students talk that Shi Woo is getting overpowered by Chi Ang. But Soon Deok’s strategy hasn’t kicked in, yet. Last night, she taught that “even a small body can defeat a greater force.” Lie low, tire out your opponent, save your energy, and wait for the right moment to attack. That’s how to defeat a strong opponent. Soon Deok is happy that, in the end, he pulled it off.
In the end, it’s another tie. Ho hum. I find that boring. Chi Ang wishes to continue the match, but mentor Sun Ah tells him to accept the result. She acknowledges that Soon Deok’s training was top-notch.
Bang Duk fills in Chi Ang’s mother that it’s exam week. Mother wants to cook something delicious for her son and asks Bang Duk if she will get Soon Deok to deliver it to Moorim School. Bang Duk begins to wonder why the Chairman isn’t around. There are no men’s clothes in the closet. Chi Ang’s mother answers nervously that he does his business in China and they are temporarily apart, but she will join him soon. Odd. Wonder what’s up with that.
Both students and teachers wonder what the Dean has up his sleeve for the comprehensive exam. Even Sun Ah can’t get Dean Dad to give her a hint.
Someone’s playing a lullaby on the piano again and Chi Ang can’t sleep. He wonders how in the world Shi Woo can sleep so soundly. He wanders down the hall and is surprised to find Sun Ah playing. She can’t sleep, either, and apologies for keeping him awake. The song, she tells him, helps her sleep. He wonders if her mom sang it to her, but Sun Ah can’t remember her much about her mom so she’s not sure. Chi Ang is quiet for a moment, then tells her that the playing helps Shi Woo fall asleep. “My Shi Woo?” It makes her happy to hear that. Sure enough, Shi Woo dreams of Mother singing to two babies and sleeps soundly. Dean Hwang stands in the empty Bell Tower. He thinks about his earlier conversation with Sun Ah that day when she asked why her trauma and Shi Woo’s trauma were the same. He may be the only one who fully knows the identity of the new student and his daughter.
Sam posts the comprehensive exam announcement in the hall: it’s a…potluck party. Thud. That’s as bad as my leadership class in college where the final was a mandatory picnic. We tied knots. The little rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree, and back in the hole. Cooking, etiquette – well, perhaps there’s more to this than meets the eye. Because on face value, it is very un-fantasy and un-martial arts-like. Chi Ang informs the unenlightened students stuck deep in the mountainside who don’t know what a potluck is. It’s a casual party enjoyed by foreigners where the attendees bring their own dishes. They share the dishes and have a good time. Everyone’s pretty excited. Still, it doesn’t explain to the bewildered students how a party can be an exam.
The teachers discuss how they will grade their portion of the potluck party exam. Monk asks Dean about the meditation aspect as it seems to be missing in the potluck theme. Dean Hwang assures him that will all come into play. But it’s a surprise.
Chi Ang brags that attending a party is his specialty. He checks to see if there are any Chinese restaurants that will deliver all the way there (as his contribution to the potluck). Mother is ahead on that, stacking delicious dishes in a lunchbox for her son. Bang Duk calls Soon Deok to pick it up and deliver it to Chi Ang. When Soon Deok’s father finds out he tells them both to forget about Moorim School after this, and to not make deliveries there again. Soon Deok is still hiding from her father that she attends there.
You can’t blame the students for getting excited about selecting party clothes from the school costume closet. Sun Ah has her eye on a taffeta Tinker Bell number, but Chi Ang saves her and tells her to allow him to pick a dress for her. Soon Deok, having gone home, arrives late. When she gets to her dorm room, there a dress hanging with a note, For Soon Deok.
At the hospital, Chae Yoon is told by Chairman Hao’s yes-man that there were no children’s bodies found at the scene and that only his wife’s body was found. Apparently Chae Yoon has been asking about that night and trying to piece things together. It was the last thing he remembers before being in a coma. “I need to find my children” he repeats. He is told they are looking for them, but he has to concentrate on getting better. A tear rolls down his cheek as he remembers their names. Joon and Young.
Chi Ang compliments Sun Ah’s outfit (he picked it himself) and tells her that only she can pull off that look. (Okay, she is a model in real life and looks good in everything.) Arm in arm they enter looking high-end fashionable. The students walk down the red carpet, making sure Professor Daniel notices their efforts in etiquette and style. Shi Woo pops in red, black, and blonde all over.
Soon Deok is the cutest of all and the biggest transformation. She is the show stopper in an elegant white dress and poses adorably for the camera, although she claims to be embarrassed to death. When Chi Ang compliments Ariel on her good taste for fashion, she is surprised and says she thought he left the dress in her room for her. There is an exchange of glances between her, Chi Ang, and Shi Woo as is dawns on them that Shi Woo picked her dress. That leaves a bad taste in Chi Ang’s mouth.
Before the partying begins, there’s taste testing of the dishes each student provided. Chi Ang gets high compliments for his dishes, but minus points for not actually cooking them. Soon Deok has brought an unusual dish -sweet rice cakes with mugwort, hardly a festive dish – but it is 100% homemade and shows creativity and good energy. Dean Hwang notes that mugwort is particularly good for hearing – Soon Deok’s dash of love and TLC doesn’t get past him (or Chi Ang and Shi Woo).
DJ Sam gets the strobe going and tunes rolling. The Dean tells the kids to have a good time. In the meantime, the teachers meet in his office to review the scores and grade the students. The top 6 students – Sun Ah, Yub Jung, Soon Deok, Choi Ho, Shi Woo, and Chi Ang) receive a special bottle of champagne and toast to their accomplishments. Cheers! Soon it’s closing time and most of the students head back to the dorm a little worse for the wear. Disturbingly, the six top students are messy drunk, barely able to lift their heads and certainly unable to talk straight. Soon Deok notices something in their liquor, a strange plant root floating in it. Never mind, one last long swig and the bottle, like so many others strewn about on the floor, is empty. They pass out on top of each other like a football tackle pile-up.
The teachers wonder if the plan that Dean Kwang has revealed to them for the meditation part of the exam isn’t too soon for Chi Ang and Shi Woo. The Dean assures them that with their mentors they will get through the next part. Unfortunately, that means he basically drugged them and moved them while unconscious to the Bell Tower. I have to object here. It’s hard enough to watch the teachers and staff approve of an all-out drinking bash as part of an “exam,” but for the dean to drug the students for Part B – that’s a taboo I can’t get past. It’s just wrong.
Basically, Dean Kwang has unilaterally decided to throw the top students into a fight or flight situation. Shi Woo and Sun Ah have to face their shared trauma (which he is completely aware of), Chi Ang will have to decide if he will act as a friend or a foe to Shi Woo when he is in trouble, and Yub Jung will face working together in a desperate situation or taking his status quo approach of each man for himself. The students wake up from their drunken and drugged stupor and realize they have been moved to the Bell Tower. They don’t like it one bit.
Before they can collect themselves, smoke fills the room. Everyone panics.
- Drugging students? Fantasy or no, facing one’s trauma should not be a surprise trap set by someone in authority. I don’t on principle like the turn this drama has taken, and had hoped for some thrilling martial arts and fantasy elements that wowed. Sadly, this drama derailed. I’m disappointed in the carelessness of presenting a Dean who would drug students to make a point, supposedly, for their good. It is a misguided direction and I disapprove. It absolutely should have been a legitimate set up where the students have to use good skills to overcome traumas and character flaws. Adults drugging minors (or anyone) violates what’s morally and ethically right on every count. (Sure, villains might drug someone and drag them off and interrogate them or worse. And we would boo hiss them as we should, and root for the good guys to win. But not well-meaning adult figures of authority. How do you root for a good outcome when the set up is so botched?)
- I just wanted a fun fantasy kdrama. But, I object so strongly to this point that any other comments I might make are moot.
- Does anyone else feel this way? Comments? Thoughts?