Moorim School: Saga of the Brave 무림학교
Episode 11 [Gi Chae Sool]
Soon Deok’s father, Bong San, is shocked to find Dean Hwang and Shi Woo at his home. Dean Hwang asks if Soon Deok can continue to attend Moorim School, but Father won’t give his permission. The Dean recounts the day two years earlier that Soon Deok first came to Moorim with his daughter, Sun Ah. He has only good things to say about her. Bong San gets angry and shouts that she has no business there and he doesn’t want her to get mixed up with the chintamani. The Dean is shocked, how does he know about that?
Shi Woo fills in Soon Deok with news of the Moorim Competition that is underway. He mentions that alumni are invited, something that seems to make everyone nervous that outsiders will participate. Maybe because the successor of Moorim will be chosen based on who wins the competition. Dean Hwang and Shi Woo leave, unable to convince Shim Bong San to let his daughter, Soon Deok, return to Moorim.
Monk meets with Secretary Chang; they are both working for Chairman Hao and looking to identify the lost child of Chae Yoon. (It is Shi Woo, but they haven’t made that connection, yet.) Luna has followed Shi Woo and Dean Kwang to Soon Deok’s house. She reports that the girl she kidnapped before who she thought was Dean Kwang’s daughter, Sun Ah, is none other than Shim Bong San’s daughter, Soon Deok. Between Monk, Luna, and Secretary Chang (the bad guys working for Chairman Hao), they are trying to piece together the story of Chae Yoon, Hwang Moo Song, and Shim Bong San – the adults that had something to do with the children in the fire eighteen years ago. Chae Yoon tries to piece together his own story and wanders in the woods in search of clues of his children, Young and Joon, and Moorim.
Secretary Chang waits for Choi Ho, the student who left Moorim on bad terms. Unfortunately, the bad guys are just using him as a way to get into Moorim and create chaos. Secretary Chang knows that Choi Ho was embarrassed about his lack of skills and felt ashamed to be in the lower level martial arts class. With a chance to get his revenge, Choi Ho takes him up on his offer to receive top martial arts training and become the true winner.
Shi Woo returns for Soon Deok. He kneels before her father and says he won’t go back until he allows her to attend school again. Father yells at him to leave. Shi Woo remains on his knees into the night. When Bang Duk asks about his parents he replies that they both died in a fire. This startles Bong San who stammers, “Did you say f-fire?” Shi Woo says he was too young to remember, but that’s what he heard and afterwards, he was raised in an orphanage. It’s pouring rain and Shi Woo ends up spending the night there.
Flashback: Bong San recalls that night. He picks up a little boy and runs out of the house that is on fire. “Don’t cry,” he tells the child. The Juk Poong see him and ask, “Who are you?” but he runs off with the child. He hides in the woods and covers the boy’s mouth to keep him from crying so they won’t be found out. But, the boy is listless and Bong San panics and runs off thinking he is dead. It is his worst nightmare to find himself surrounded by the Juk Poong. With a swift and brutal slash across his face, he is left blind.
Bong San is troubled about Shi Woo’s story that his parents died in a fire, his connection to Moorim, the strong energy presence that is undeniable, could he be…? He was sure that little boy died. Or did he?
Soon Deok guesses her father might move far away to keep her from attending Moorim School. She doesn’t know why he hates it so much. She is conflicted knowing that she is drawn to Moorim but not wanting to hurt her father. As Shi Woo hugs her, she vows to return somehow, and thanks him for coming back for her. While their bond grows stronger, a bitter Chi Ang sits alone at the school holding the butterfly necklace that Soon Deok rejected. His one-sided love is causing him pain but I fear it is becoming a revenge factor against Shi Woo.
The next morning, Bong San realizes Soon Deok has gone back to Moorim with Shi Woo. Chi Ang waits at the school entrance as Shi Woo and Soon Deok return. But, wait! Another person comes running behind them at full speed just as the seal closes. “Sunbae!” He is greeted enthusiastically by Soon Deok and Sun Ah to the annoyance of Chi Ang and Shi Woo. Senior Kang Tae Ho has come to Moorim at the request of Dean Kwang for the competition. His reputation precedes him: he aced every class at Moorim and won the Moorim Competition two years ago. No one knows why he left and didn’t become the successor.
Tae Ho is briefed by Dean Hwang who wants him to assess and train the students for the competition. First, however, he asks the Dean if he has told Sun Ah everything. The Dean says that he hasn’t, but plans to tell her after the competition, whatever that means exactly. Tae Ho wastes no time identifying each student’s weakness. For Yub Jung, he has upper body strength but a weak lower body. For Nadet, he is fast but not good with defense. Focus, follow through, intent – one by one he points out the weaknesses that need work. For Sun Ah, it’s flexibility. For Chi Ang, he is so driven that he can’t control his strength. Soon Deok’s timing is perfect but she cannot only concentrate on that. When Tae Ho gets to Shi Woo he asks, “What are you?” There is no criticism. The students ask him to help them win but Tae Ho says that’s not the point. “What is the most important thing for this Moorim Competition?” He leaves them to come up with the answer.
Apparently Shi Woo doesn’t know his own strength as he knocks down Soon Deok with a wham. She is insulted when he says he didn’t even try that hard and makes sure to trip him on his way out. (Shi Woo didn’t mean to imply that Soon Deok wasn’t strong; he really didn’t know where his strength came from and is trying to figure that out. He is clearly gaining power the longer he is at Moorim – a power that he innately possesses but must learn to control and utilize.) Tae Ho observes them sparring. Dean Hwang has filled him in on the new students and he marvels at Shi Woo’s abilities for a student who has been at Moorim for only two months.
Chi Ang and Sun Ah practice with sticks outside. Tae Ho makes sure his presence is known as he observes them. Dean Hwang has filled him in on Chi Ang’s background as the son of Moorim’s sponsor, Chairman Hao of Sang Hae Group. The Dean hasn’t decided whether Chi Ang is friend or foe. Tae Ho assures the Dean that he will keep an eye on the students so that no one gets hurt physically or emotionally. He’s a good addition to the team.
Bong San hasn’t gotten out of bed or eaten since Soon Deok left. Soon Deok sits in her dorm room, phone in hand. Her father hasn’t called. Sun Ah encourages her saying, “Our dads don’t know how hard we work, do they? Cheer up.”
Shi Woo practices alone in the gym. Tae Ho comes along and asks him how he can be so good after only two months at Moorim. He is asking questions that he knows the answer to, but wants Shi Woo to dig deep to find out who he is and why he is at Moorim. Shi Woo doesn’t want to know what his weakness is and tells Tae Ho that he doesn’t know why the Moorim Competition is important. Tae Ho won’t let him get away with those answers and tells him that he knows the answers to both – and that is his weakness. He knows and therefore he attacks passively. He tells Shi Woo that he must think about what it is he is protecting.
Luna doesn’t hold back in training Choi Ho. “In the end, nothing beats the sword. If you want to win, grab it.” Choi Ho has gone over to the dark side. I’m worried that he won’t make it or will be ruthlessly sacrificed by the bad guys. With the Moorim Competition open to the outsiders, the school staff discusses the fact that the Juk Poong may show up. The Dean is willing to take that chance. The danger is that is leaves the grand prize – the chintamani – open to anyone’s taking if they can win. It is unfortunate that he puts Monk in charge of keeping an eye on the Juk Poong since he runs with them.
Each student gets to pick his or her specialty for the competition. They train hard. Chi Ang’s strength seems to put him at an advantage with Shi Woo, but he knows his rival is holding back. Shi Woo is at a crossroads: does he unleash his power without knowing exactly what it is or how to control it? He discusses this with Sun Ah – the one person who has seen a demonstration of his power when he stopped the lights and the wolf – and wonders why in the world he has such power? More important, what is that power all about? She says it’s hard to describe but there is something called Gi Chae Sool. Shi Woo has never heard of this. She explains that it is the skill to beat your opponent without having to touch him just by using your energy. It requires a tremendous amount of life energy. Shi Woo wonders if it is something he can learn to control. Simultaneously, Chae Yoon practices Gi Chae Sool in the woods, gathering his strength and power.
Not only is Chi Ang putting pressure on himself to win, Monk reminds him that his father, Chairman Hao, will attend the competition and is expecting his son to win. The determination in Chi Ang’s eyes says that he means business. As he and Shi Woo practice, Chi Ang’s anger rises. He accuses Shi Woo of holding back. Shi Woo says that’s not it, he just doesn’t want to hurt anyone, including him. Chi Ang is offended that Shi Woo is going easy on him as if he thinks he can really beat him. “I’m just trying to find a way not to hurt anybody and still win.” They argue. Shi Woo wonders what the point is in winning at the cost of crushing everyone else. Chi Ang angrily replies that it is a personal battle to win in the end and that winning is everything. Shi Woo is more philosophical in his answer that gaining the chintamani and winning means he loses his friend in the end. Why does it all matter? To Chi Ang, winning is the most important thing. His strength is his power, but that’s not the whole story. He also has a plan to save those who are precious to him – his mother and Soon Deok – and from his perspective this is the only way to accomplish that.
Tae Ho overhears their argument. Makes me wonder if he was in the same situation at one point – having to choose between power and losing someone who was precious to him. Shi Woo lies on the gym floor with he eyes closed. When Soon Deok quietly enters he can tell it’s her even without opening his eyes. He takes her hand, places in on his heart and tells her not to go to another guy. (He didn’t like that Tae Ho gave her an egg roll in the cafeteria. She laughs and thinks it’s cute that he is jealous.)
It is serious practice time. Tae Ho challenges the students to come to the front if anyone thinks he or she can beat him . Suh Ah, Chi Ang, and Yub Jung step forward. Since Sun Ah had the highest midterm scores, she is the first to take him on. They spar for 20 minutes but Tae Ho prevails. This isn’t just any challenge, though. Tae Ho wants the students to consider more than winning. What have they been doing the past week? He told them to find the answer to what is so important about this Moorim Competition and if they ‘re willing to fight for it. He wants them to be prepared physically and mentally. He asks Chi Ang if he can really fight to win even if it means hurting his friends. If so, then he should fight Sun Ah now. Suddenly Chi Ang says he knows the answer, “It will come down to us. It will come down to the people.” Chi Ang states that he can protect what he cherishes only if he wins the competition. He is willing to lose others (Shi Woo, mainly) in order to protect what he cherishes (his mother, Soon Deok). Tae Ho tells him that’s not right – that his thinking is faulty and says, “Wang Chi Ang, if that’s what you think, you can’t protect anyone. You will end up losing yourself.” If nothing else, that’s a life lesson worth watching Moorim School for. Tae Ho continues, “Even if everybody knows the way, very few take that road…the one who does will shine until the end.”
Shi Woo gathers his energy in solitude as he meditates. He goes to the Dean to ask, “Please tell me how we can all win together.” The Dean tells him that is something he has to learn on his own. What about Gi Chae Sool? he asks the Dean. Shi Woo wants to know how to use his power to protect something precious – isn’t that what power is meant to do? The Dean recalls that his friend, Chae Yoon, once spoke the very same words to him that Shi Woo is saying to him now. He tells Shi Woo that he has only known one person in his life who possessed Gi Chae Sool powers – it was his friend, and that friend is dead. As Shi Woo and the Dean talk, Chae Yoon is deep in the woods gathering energy and honing his Gi Chae Sool skills.
Invitations to the parents for the Moorim Competition have been sent. Bong San’s is in braille. Chi Ang calls his mother to confirm that she is coming. She tells him that his father is coming, too. There is a tenderness in Chi Ang’s countenance when it comes to his mother.
Shi Woo is ready to test his Gi Chae Sool skills. He asks Soon Deok to come at him with all her might and not to hold back. She is tentative, but he tells her it’s okay, to hit him with her best shot. Somehow, he is unable to block it and falls down.
Chi Ang is irritated at Shi Woo. No more Mr. Nice Guy, he will fight Shi Woo himself. As he pulls his arm back ready to deliver a direct hit, Shi Woo closes his eyes and gathers his life energy. His concentration is perfect and with energy only, he stops Chi Ang’s blow mid-air. Chi Ang, Soon Deok, Sun Ah, and Tae Ho witness the power of Gi Chae Sool.
- I like Tae Ho. He challenges the students to test their limits even if they don’t know what they are. In fact, he helps them identify and work on their weaknesses. It seems like he was in a similar situation when he was a student at Moorim and has remained a respected master even though he chose to leave Moorim.
- Sometimes I think I am too hard on Chi Ang. He has people he wants to protect, too – his mother for sure and Soon Deok in his own way – and realizes that in his father’s world, power is the answer. Moorim Competition offers him a chance to gain respect, position, and ultimately – his father’s blessing. Maybe his approach isn’t as philosophical as Shi Woo’s, but isn’t this really their fathers’ battle? I wonder if the showdown is actually going to be between Chae Yoon and Chairman Hao. Like I said before, it is a generational story of power, good and evil. I can’t paint Chi Ang as pure evil and Shi Woo as pure good – it is more complicated than that. So, I am willing to see how Chi Ang processes his strength and the philosophical questions that all the students have been asked to consider.
- I like the moral dilemmas presented in this drama such as are things always as they seem? Is winning worth what you end up losing? Does power have more than one face? How do powerful people treat those without power? I could go on and on.
- I am still interested in Sun Ah’s story. It seems as if the writer is leaving that for last. I like her a lot, too. Does Tae Ho have a romantic interest in her?
- How do you see the bromance factor at this point? For Shi Woo, it’s definitely there, although he is the one who crossed the love triangle line against Chi Ang. Maybe it’s buried down deep in Chi Ang’s heart, too?
- I’m worried about the talk of swords, especially with Choi Ho. I don’t think he is going to make it. I wonder who else will go into Moorim’s arsenal and grab a menacing sword or two to make their point. No pun intended. 🙂
- Onward to the competition. Fighting!