wow thank you for your detailed explanation! but i have a question if you dont mind me asking……….. if his first love was only infatuation, why did daejung slept for 7 years after her death? was it because he lost the love of his life or was it because he found his life meaningless?
And in the lake where we see our daejung and his father fishing…and his father asks ” is she still in there?” and our daejung answers ‘ she is in there’ ? what do you make of it? it happened after he met Eun Soo. This part is quite confusing! when actually did daejung fall for eun soo is just quite hard to pin point!
Sorry I thought you were referring to a later conversation between Daejang and his Father. So I update my explanation to include that. I forgot that I have read Book 2 and you have not. In B2C4 and C5 where this conversation took place, there are details not in the drama about his relationship with girl comrade leading to my assumption. Because I forgot you have not read it, and I caused the incoherence and confusion. My fault totally.
So I added some lines from Book 2 here to clarify. (in bold below)
at 9:57 or B2C4
“Is she still in your heart,” his father asked.
“Yes, she is still …” answered Choi Yong.
In the book this was followed by:
Then melancholy surged in his heart.
(flashback to moments leading to girl comrade’s suicide)
Here, Choi Yong asked the girl to believe in him that he could protect her.
(But we know he could not, otherwise, the senior Daejang, his teacher would not have to die and she would not have been humiliated.)
Girl comrade said she did not want to be his burden.
Choi Yong said a burden was a burden and he could only carry on if he has to bear a burden.
(Imagine the theme song playing at this time.)
Choi Yong hated the vow he made before his dying teacher, senior Daejang. He promised to take care of everyone in the Red Moon Gang. The twenty-two year-old Choi Yong was afraid of and hated the vow which was an unbearable weight on him, like it was killing him. So he said something else to the girl, and he thought she would understand.
“Mae Hee, I beg of you to save me,” beckoned Choi Yong.
But she did not show up at the place they promised to meet.
The next month…
Choi Yong was looking at her corpse…
Choi Yong remembered the time he first kissed the girl and afterwards she was not shy anymore, but then the author wrote:
That girl who used to look at him, smiling like an older sister.
Though it may mean she no longer felt like his older sister, but when I read this, what I thought was going hot went completely cold. (But that is just me.)
This was followed by a long description of him getting angry perhaps at himself or at her because she chose the tree special to them to hang herself. (cruel girl) Most of all, he was in despair because she would not believe he could protect her.
Protecting her was what he kept repeating and he could not understand why she did not trust that he could. (no faith) And he thought of thousands of things he could have done differently to protect her at the time she was humiliated at the palace. (overwhelmed with regret to the girl, to teacher and gang members)
My explanation (updated in italics)
I am only posing this assumption, that when Daejang met ES, he fell in love for the first time. To say this, girl comrade had to be in a different kind of relationship with him and feelings he had for her should be different. The above explains my opinion, and it is only my opinion. Daejang’s relationship with girl comrade rested on a burden he carried and this burden was his promise to be responsible for everyone in the Red Moon. He asked her to save him as he needed her to be alive, to save him from losing her and not being able to keep the vow he made to his teacher.
Burden, the object of his protection, his vow to his teacher, his salvation from failure to fulfill an oath, an older sister – he said them all but he did not say he loved her. But sure, they were supposed to get married had this not happened, so they were close to each other, like family and friends, and much more.
In removing the headband made by girl comrade, the relic that symbolized his ties with his past, he was actually letting go of his regrets about his teacher, his former mission, and his comrades, again, girl included, which kept him frozen in time. It is just a story and you can interpret it in another way. So he could have lost the love of his life and having found another but still remember one and feel very much in love with another.
To explain my assumption, consider the impact on a young man who was in high spirits with a bright future in mind and a song in his heart on the way to the palace, only to lose that dream and everyone he was close to and had relied on in an instant in a most a horrifying way. For him to carry on, he must have a very strong personality, but certainly he was scarred for life. Twist of fate.
He was young. He lost his teacher who died by the hand of the king who sliced him out of mere pleasure and drunkenness and worse still, he saw his teacher letting the king do this because ‘his sword became heavy’. He watched how the king humiliated his betrothed and he was helpless. He lost his betrothed who took her own life out of guilt and out of shame. He then got separated from his comrades who were scattered to different places. And in the course of those seven years, he carried on because his teacher entrusted his comrades to him, but he lost them one by one as they were killed or retired. So the other characters might simply say it was about the girl he was going to marry, but it was more than just losing his girl. He lost everyone and his mission in life. Would he not be in despair? I think that was how he himself had explained to the King.
And the 7 years? The number 7 is one of those magic numbers associated with myth or legends in different cultures, like lucky number 7, 7 deadly sins, the 7 year itch, 7Up, etc. Also, note the magic number 3, or for that matter, number 9 for longevity and number 6 for good fortune, etc. We count 1, 2, 3 – go and we have the 3 wise men or the 3 blind mice, but not 4 or 5 or 6. Here, 7 years probably meant nothing, or was just a way to say a long, long time had gone by, but short enough to keep Daejang young in his twenties so that LMH could portray him.
To me, whether it was the drama or the book, Daejang was smitten and it was love at first sight. It was pretty clear, but he did not know it. This was because he did not compare his feelings for ES with his feelings for the girl comrade, so I think he had experienced love for the first time. And the fact that he brought up the intense feelings he had for the tiger and his teacher meant his feelings for ES were even more intense but he did not know what it was. What then? No intense feelings for girl comrade other than the shock of finding her hanging on a tree by the neck? If we knew this became love for ES, then he never had the same feeling with girl comrade, otherwise, he would have known because he would have had the experience, but he did not. And this is just my opinion, not the author’s.
“You still have not found it? ” asked his father.
This also explained the long wait. In all those years, Daejang was searching and had not given up. He was ‘asleep’ in those years, not dead. Sleep is symbolic of waiting and eventual awakening. The character sleeps in order to awake. Being frozen is symbolic of being constant or remaining unchanged, that is, until the change arrives. Being frozen works the same way, it is symbolic of an eventual inevitable change – melting, from inanimate to fluid and free. A catalyst is needed to start the change or break the constant or the spell, hence, the teardrop. (The kiss is another well-known catalyst.) Daejang slept enough times in the story or the drama to make this ‘sleep, wait and awakening’ process a little too obvious.
His father’s words symbolized his awakening. ‘Seek and you shall find.’ ‘Lost and found.’ Obviously we know that his father is a symbol because he appeared in a dream. All dreams are symbolic. He or his subconscious was asking that question, not his father, telling him that he should wake up to the change. He was asking himself if he had found ‘it’. He did not ask this in the past 7 years. What has changed? You should know by now.
His realization of the fact that he was no longer in that cold, forlorn and meaningless state symbolized by the imagery of a vast frozen lake of nothingness came when he was awakened by the tear drop.
And why does it have to be a tear drop? (That would be another chat on folklore tradition, symbolism and mythology… long lesson, so perhaps another day.)
In other words, the frozen lake was Daejang. He was waiting and searching, and then he broke through the ice and ended the wait when he found ES and more.
So he has found it. The search has ended. That was the answer to his father’s question.
My heart shattered into pieces when I read B2C5. It was very sad and full of despair. The way Mae Hee died was horrible. I thought, “How could someone be this cruel?” Well she had to be so that Eun Soo could play her part in the story. Just a ghost haunting Daejang’s memories in the book paving way for the story. Poor Mae Hee.