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Home » Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace) episodes 21-30

Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace) episodes 21-30

by AcklinEHuey

Here’s the third post in this nostalgic series looking back at the blockbuster historical drama Dae Jang Geum. (AKA Jewel in the PalaceMBC 2004

More Dae Jang Geum recaps: 1-10 / 11-20 / 31-40 / 41-final

The drama stars Lee Young Ae as Dae Jang Geum and Ji Jin Hee as royal official Min Jung Ho. It was directed by famous sageuk director Lee Byung Hoon. For more information on the making of the drama, see notes from the director’s book.

We start off in the heat of the Royal kitchens where Lady Han and Lady Choi are battling for the prestigious position of Head of the Court Kitchen.

Well, Lady Han should be leading her team in the kitchen, but she has ‘disappeared’. So Jang Geum takes over while Lady Han is incapacitated. 

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Dae Jang Geum

Episode 21  


It’s round 4 of the cooking competition in the Royal Kitchens.

Stakes are high as the winner will be promoted to the coveted position of Head of the Court Kitchen. Currently, Lady Choi is 3-1 up and she storms further into the lead with her magnificent  ‘drunken prawns’. 🦐

She’s on a roll now and is super confident that her baby boar (that apparently melts in the mouth) will be a winner, too!

On the other hand, it seems that her competitor Jang Geum has made a rather pedestrian dish. Baked chicken with spices. But to everyone’s surprise, Jang Geum’s dish wins! And she is praised for the unusual, tangy flavours.

Of course, Lady Choi is speechless. 😶 And things go downhill for her when Jang Geum wins the next round too. Her rice cooked in a stone pot scores points for innovation.

Meanwhile, Sir Min has rescued Lady Han from the kidnappers and she returns to the palace.

But now the score is 3-3 and so she encourages Jang Geum to finish the competition by herself.

The Choi family are up to no good in the kitchen in Jewel in the Palace

We move on to dessert.

And it’s time for Jang Geum to present her best dish: wild berries. She tells the king how she fed berries to her mother on her deathbed.

With a backstory like that who could deny her the prize? Especially when she explains that she prepared the dish for the king as though she were making it for her mother.  

Sure enough, the king is moved and quick to choose her dish! So Lady Had has won the competition!

But Lady Choi is not having this and stages a strike

First she complains against the decision since Lady Han didn’t actually compete herself.

She bullies and bribes other court ladies until they all refuse to accept Lady Han.

Then they decide that Lady Han can’t be the head because of her ‘low birth’. (her mother worked in a gisaeng house and was raped by a yangban) It’s funny how nobody mentioned any of this before! Anyway, it’s all too much for Lady Jung who collapses from stress.

Meanwhile, although Sir Min caught the kidnappers, he later hears that they were released as they were ‘just merchants‘ and it was all a ‘big misunderstanding’. He realises there is something fishy going on between Choi Pan Sul and Lord Oh.

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kimjang making kimchi time for Dae Jang Geum


Episode 22  


This is a sad one.

Lady Jung is ill and weak and leaves the palace again.

But the court is in chaos as the kitchen ladies are on strike AND it’s kimchi making season. Jang Geum finds a few ladies to help her make all the kimchi.

Lee Young-ae as Dae Jang Geum

But they need to resolve this soon as there’s a party planned for the king’s concubine. 

Lady Han is ready to resign as people are starting to complain about the state of the kitchen staff! But Jang Geum refuses to let her resign.

In the end Lady Han asks the queen mother for a REMATCH. But if she wins, she wants to have FULL authority! (that means the Head Court Lady won’t be able to interfere in the kitchens!)

Lady Jung dies. 

Lady Jung in Dae Jang Geum

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Dae Jang Geum

Episode 23  


The queen is put in charge of the rematch for Head Kitchen Lady.

The task: cook a pot of rice!

This seems very straightforward. Perhaps too simple.

But the court ladies will judge which rice is best. And the key to success is to please ALL the ladies.

Lady Han knows how all the ladies like their rice cooked. Some prefer to add more water at the beginning so that the rice is softer. And some ladies don’t!

Court ladies judge the rice cooked by Lady Han and Lady Choi

Lady Han realises this problem and manages to cook the rice in different ways in one pot! So everyone is satisfied and Lady Han wins. She is now officially Head of the Kitchen. And Lady Choi has to go to the sauces department. Ouch! 😆

After all the excitement, Jang Geum has time to think about her mother’s friend who made the persimmon vinegar with her.

She wants to meet her and hides a letter for her with the buried vinegar! (She doesn’t realise that Lady Han is her mother’s friend!)

Meanwhile, the Choi family have to cover their tracks
Jang Geum is put in charge of accounts in the kitchens

Sir Min has moved to Internal Affairs and is investigating Choi Pan Sul’s monopoly on sales to the palace.

Jang Geum must help him by keeping an inventory of the products that come into the kitchens. It soon appears that there are dodgy things going on in the kitchen accounts.

Even though King Jungjong is frugal compared to the previous king Yeonsangun, the accounts don’t reflect this.

Lady Choi realises something must be done otherwise many of the court ladies (especially she herself) could be in trouble. She instructs Young Ro to steal the account books from Jang Geum’s room.

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Lady Choi discovers the truth about Jang Geum

Dae Jang Geum

Episode 24  


Jang Geum is desperate to get her mother’s recipe book back after it’s stolen from her room.

But Lady Choi has got it and soon works out that Jang Geum must be Lady Park’s daughter.

To make matters worse, Young Ro then finds the unopened letter from Jang Geum’s mother hidden in the palace grounds which reveals everything that happened to her at the palace. Lady Choi wants to destroy the letter.

Meanwhile, with Jang Geum diligently keeping the accounts, everyone is being more careful with their budgets.

This is affecting Choi Pan Sul and of course Lord Oh who he financially supports. Lord Oh wants to get rid of whoever is investigating them.

The Choi family discuss how to deal with the tighter controls in the kitchens

Geum Young tries to warn Sir Min and begs him to back off from the investigation. He refuses.

And he says he’s disappointed to see that she’s no different from the rest of her family. Ouch.

But then she threatens to reveal his illegal relationship with Jang Geum.

(He would be sacked and Jang Geum would be killed.) Later she hears that he has taken another job. But it’s bitter sweet as she knows he did it to save Jang Geum.

Finally, Lady Han finds the letter from Jang Geum with the buried vinegar and realises who she is. So the secrets are coming out! 

Chart of Joseon Kings and related Joseon dramas

Who is the King in Dae Jang Geum?

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King Jungjong in Jewel in the Palace


Episode 25  


Jang Geum and Lady Han hug each other.

And they catch up on the past. Lady Han hears how her old friend died with the arrow. And she’s sure the Choi family had something to do with it.

Jang Geum wants to show her the letter from her mother. But it’s GONE.

They realise the evidence must be written in the letter and the Choi family could be very dangerous now.

Jang Geum and Lady Han discover their true identities
Poor Geum Young gets a mystery package from her uncle.

The family clearly have a dastardly plan. But before the Choi family can do any damage, Lady Han sends Geum Young and Lady Choi to the guest house. Hopefully they can do less damage there. Lady Choi is in tears!

Now Sir Min is working as a secret agent in the capital. Jang Geum asks him to help her find justice for her mother and find out what happened to her father. But surprisingly, there is no info about him in the official records…

The king takes a party to the hot spring for his health. And while they are out of the palace, Choi Pan Sul sees an opportunity to get rid of Jang Geum and Lady Han. He sends his assassin to follow them.

Luckily Sir Min also sends bodyguards after them and the royal guards protect Jang Geum and Lady Han.

Lady Han makes the king a duck soup. But after he eats it he collapses! (Why do they keep making duck soup? Especially after the duck soup debacle in episode 11!)

King Jungjong falls ill after eating duck soup


Episode 26  


The court is in panic now that the king is sick.

The doctors are worried that it’s their fault and have misdiagnosed him.

But Merchant Pan Sul suggests they blame the FOOD instead of the DOCTORS. So they set Lady Han up by finding someone who is willing to say that they sold her poisonous mushrooms. Lady Choi gets ready to take over the kitchen.

Lady Han is arrested for treason in Dae Jang Geum episode 36

But they don’t even need the mushrooms. An investigation reveals that the ducks drink the hot spring water which contains sulphur – a poison

Lady Han is arrested.

But no one else is getting sick, so it seems the ducks can filter out the poison. Still, the duck seller and Jang Geum are also arrested and interrogated for treason.

Eventually, the ducks are found to be harmless. And as always, Sir Min is there to help.

But Sir Min is becoming a pain to the Choi family. And now they want to get rid of him. But Geum Young refuses to let them touch him and admits that she loves him! Poor Geum Young. 😔

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Jang Guem and Lady Han are in prison for treason

Dae Jang Geum

Episode 27  


Jang Geum and Lady Han have to remake the duck dish to prove that it’s NOT poisonous.

A kitchen girl is chosen ‘randomly’ to taste the soup. But the Choi family give her dodgy abalone BEFOREHAND. So after eating the soup she gets a fever just like the king did…

Guards torture Lady Han and Jang Geum until they ‘confess’. And Sir Min is also locked up for aiding and abetting Jang Geum and the other ‘traitors’.

Lady Han and Jang Geum are exiled to Jeju

Lord Oh wants them to admit they committed the crime because they support the ‘traitor’ Jo Gwang-jo,

(a member of the sarim faction who made political reforms and tried to get rid of corruption in the government. He was framed by the hungu faction officials and exiled and then forced to drink poison by the king’s command. This part of the story is based on the Third Literati Purge of 1519.)

Evidence presented at the last minute by Sir Min helps Jang Geum and Lady Han escape the death penalty but they are demoted to servants and will move to Jeju.

But on the way to Jeju, Lady Han dies…

Lady Han dies on the way to Jeju


Episode 28  


The soldiers bury Lady Han on the side of the path.

And Jang Geum becomes a slave in Jeju.

But she wants to get back to the palace and clear Lady Han’s name. So she tries to escape. Sir Min turns up and persuades her to stay – for now. He left his post in the capital to be with her and has got an official position in Jeju!

Lady Choi finally becomes head of the kitchen and promises to put everything back to how it was before including getting rid of the accountant lady position!

Chart of Joseon Kings and related Joseon dramas

Jang Geum and Sir Min

Dae Jang Geum

Episode 29


In Jejudo, Jang Geum is working for a lady doctor called Jang Dok.

At first, Jang Geum just wants to leave Jeju but then she realises that the lady doctor is a famous doctor head hunted by the palace. She is building a well for rain water as there is not enough clean water on the island so the poor people suffer. (the water is too salty).

Jang Geum realises that if she retrains as a doctor she can get back to the palace…

Sir Min spends lots of time with her and encourages her to study and get back to the palace and take revenge! He is in charge of dealing with the invasions from foreign pirates.

Sir Min in Jeju
medical training in Jeju

Dae Jang Geum



And now for some fun.

As part of her medical training, Jang Geum has to study face complexion to diagnose health.  She tells Sir Min that his face is ‘red’ meaning he has a fever.

He takes her hands agreeing that he does have a FEVER! Jang Geum runs away embarrassed! 😂 

And now for a blast from the past.

Dr Jung from the herb garden turns up!

But he has a tumour and has discovered new ways to use ginseng to treat himself. Jang Geum tells him that she wants to go back to the palace as a doctor and get her revenge. He is angry to hear this and doesn’t think she is fit to be a doctor.

Back at the palace Jang Geum’s friend Yeon Saeng cries because she misses her.

One evening the king passes by and notices her. Next thing we know she’s become a special court lady.

Lady Choi is now in charge but to her annoyance Geum Young still follows Lady Han’s teaching methods and believes they are the real losers as they didn’t win the competition fairly…

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Jewel in the Palace episode summaries (41-final)

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