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Home » Jewel in the Palace Recaps (Dae Jang Geum) 31-40

Jewel in the Palace Recaps (Dae Jang Geum) 31-40

by AcklinEHuey

Feeling nostalgic? Here is the 4th instalment of Jewel in the Palace recaps (MBC 2004) starring Lee Young Ae as 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 my notes from the director’s book.

Jang Geum became an orphan at a young age but rises to become the first and only female doctor to a king in Joseon history. She does this through hard work and honesty always refusing to use her skills to cause harm to anyone – even her enemies. A main theme of the story is to never use food or medicine as a weapon…

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It’s two years later and Jang Geum is still exiled in Jeju Island. But she has a plan to retrain as a doctor and return to the capital and clear Lady Han’s name. (They were exiled for treason after being accused of trying to poison the king). But she’s having a hard time now. And punishing herself for making a mistake doing acupuncture that could have killed a patient.

Jang Geum treats Duk Gu with moxibustion

Then her adoptive father Duk Gu arrives. But he’s suffering from severe seasickness after the journey to the island. However, Jang Geum is still too scared to to do any acupuncture, so she carries out a moxa treatment on him instead. Happily his health improves. But Jang Geum hears that he lost his job at the palace after Lady Choi became the head court lady. And times are hard for him and anyone related to Lady Han. 😞

Japanese samurai invade Jeju in Jewel in the Palace recaps episode 31

Suddenly there’s a crisis when the Japanese invade Jeju. (This is before the Imjin wars 1592-1998)  And Jang Geum finds herself in the difficult position of having to perform acupuncture on the sick Japanese leader. The invaders threaten to kill Duk Gu if she doesn’t help them. So she has to play along. But she is secretly in contact with Sir Min and manages to lead the invaders straight to the Joseon soldiers! Sir Min hurries to Hanyang to report the attack.

The good news is that Jang Geum has got over her fear of acupuncture! The bad news is she is arrested for saving the leader of the enemy. Bit unfair!

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Lord Oh wants to punish Jang Geum for helping the enemy. But Sir Min proves that she is not a traitor as she wrote to him with intel during the invasion. In fact, the king wants to reward her. Sir Min can return to the palace too. But actually he’s not keen since he’s enjoying his innocent romance in Jeju. 💕

Jang Geum returns to give Lady Han a proper burial in Jewel in the Palace episode 32

Jang Geum persuades Sir Min to stay in Hanyang while she returns to Jeju. On her way back, she stops off at the grave of Lady Han to make a proper mound for the grave. There she happens to meets a young sick yangban boy. No doctor has been able to help him. But Jang Geum recognises his symptoms and cures his illness. And to thank her he promises to give Lady Han a proper burial.

Jang Geum cures a young yangban

The yangban family are surprised to hear that she isn’t taking the Physicians Exam for ladies. By a happy coincidence it’s taking place the very next day! Of course Jang Geum had no idea about the test! (info was sparse in the pre-internet days) Jang Geum rushes back to the capital. And yes, she passes the test. So this means Sir Min and Jang Geum are back in the capital together. Still, Dr Jung (who’s now working at the palace) is worried. He believes she has no business being a doctor when she has revenge in her heart…

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In the Court Medical School, the new recruits meet an assortment of teachers. The head trainer is very strict, but the Confucian classics teacher leaves Jang Geum to teach his class for him. She’s so smart and he clearly doesn’t see the point of a teaching a bunch of girls himself!

Later, things get even worse when he wants to send the lady doctors to act as ‘hostesses’ to entertain the minister of finance! Shockingly, this work will include offering sexual favours. The king has tried to ban this habit continued from Yeonsangun’s time. Clearly, without success.

Only two students Shin Bi and Jang Geum refuse to entertain the ministers. They turn up for practical study with Dr Shin and have to diagnose several patients. But Jang Geum is too hasty and over confident and she makes the wrong diagnosis. Now it’s not only Dr Jung who has doubts about her suitability to work in medicine. Dr Shin is concerned that she is too arrogant to be a doctor.

Ladies training to become doctors in Jewel in the Palace recaps episode 33

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The training period is over and exam results announced. The Confucian classics teacher tries to fail Jang Geum and Shin Bi for refusing to become sex workers last time! (Oh the cheek of him!) The king is furious when he hears this practice is still going on. He tried to ban it after Yeonsangun’s reign. But Lord Oh defends the decision saying that not letting the female doctors do this is bad for morale! 😡 (Whose morale are we talking about here?)

the new female doctors in Jewel in the Palace

Jang Geum passes and moves to the Royal hospital. Everyone in Joseon times needed an ID and she gets her pass to enter into the palace. Lady Doctor Jang Duk is also joining the hospital again but warns Jang Geum that a female physician is not the same level as a male doctor. But for now,  Jang Geum is happy to fulfil her wish and get back in the palace. She soon discovers that the hierarchy of female doctors is just as bad (if not worse) than at the kitchens. AND the court ladies look down on female doctors!

Lee Young-ae as Dae Jang Geum in Jewel in the Palace

Suddenly there’s panic as news arrives that the queen is SICK. The head eunuch and heads of department meet to discuss what to do. Meanwhile, we see that Geum Young has become the Head of the Kitchen. And she is shocked to see Jang Geum!

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Dr Jung visits the queen’s quarters. He stands behind a bamboo curtain and gives advice to the female doctors who are treating her. But they can’t help the queen and she has a miscarriage. Lady Choi is now Head Court Lady (after ousting the other head) but she hasn’t changed. She has to make sure that her family remain at the top and so the miscarriage is proclaimed to be ‘good news’ for them!

She has demoted Jang Geum’s old friends from the kitchens to the king’s toilet (복이궁녀). Not a pleasant task! Meanwhile, Yeun Saeng is struggling in the hierarchy too. She’s a special court lady (승은상궁), but the king never sees her and so the court ladies don’t respect her. All she does is pray everyday for Jang Geum’s safe return. 😔 

Special Court Lady Yeun Saeng prays for Jang Geum's safe return

Meanwhile in politics, the king is still trying to balance power in the government as the hungu faction continue to be very strong. Sir Min is investigating Merchant Choi Pan Sul. He serves duck soup to Lord Oh and Pan Sul. (The same duck soup that Lady Han made the king) And he points out they know the CHOI FAMILY set Lady Han and sarim official Jo up.

Meanwhile, Jang Geum is starting to make enemies in the hospital as she disagrees with the head lady physician about the queen’s diagnosis. Geum Young tries to humiliate her by making Jang Geum massage her feet. But Jang Geum merely massages her whilst giving a critique of her health! Geum Young has stomach and spleen problems. Stress has taken a toll on her it seems. 


At a medical meeting, Jang Geum admits that she felt a different pulse to the head of the female doctors. She thinks the queen still has another baby inside her – from the miscarriage. At first the others don’t believe her. But she’s right. Later the queen recovers and hears that it was the new assistant Jang Geum who helped her.

Sir Min is working on improving security in the country. Weapon development has stagnated since the golden age of King Sejong. So Joseon is becoming vulnerable to attack from neighbouring countries. But they need money and don’t want to burden the people with any more tax. They suggest some land reforms. But of course Lord Oh is AGAINST anything that will penalise wealthy noblemen! Lady Choi says she will stop the land reforms going ahead. Next thing we know the queen mother is on strike refusing health treatment!

Lee Young-ae as Jang Geum and Ji Jin-hee as Sir Min in Jewel in the Palace

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The queen mother is refusing to take her medicine. She suggests the king is trying to kill her as he has allowed a dodgy doctor (on the side of the Sarim officials) to treat her! But it’s all just a ploy to get the king to stop the land bill going ahead. And the plan works. The king fires Dr Shin and is prepared to stop the land being returned too. All for filial piety!

Dae Jang Geum

But the Queen Mother’s health is getting worse. Jang Geum begs her not to gamble with her life! In the end the queen mother agrees to gamble with her instead. Jang Geum gives her a riddle to solve. If the queen mother can answer the riddle, Jang Geum will pay with her life. If she can’t answer it, the queen mother will take the medicine. But the answer to the riddle is ‘mother’ so the queen mother realises she should help her son no matter what. So she has to take the medicine! But then she vomits! She’s getting worse.

Jang Geum and the Queen Mother


The queen mother has beriberi. The ruthless Choi family have always had the support of the queen mother. But they are not bothered if she dies – as long as it will reflect BADLY on the opposition! Meanwhile, Jang Geum realises that the foods that are good for curing beriberi are the same foods the queen mother doesn’t like.

The queen mother in Jewel in the Palace

So she uses her culinary skills to make a tasty garlic snack. The queen mother likes the snacks and soon her health improves. The head eunuch announces that Jang Geum and her team will be rewarded with a feast from the king. The queen recognises Jang Geum and admits the whole duck soup debacle was a mistake and that Lady Han should never have been punished. There’s good news for Special Court Lady Yeun Seung too, as the king finally comes to see her…

But there’s trouble brewing for Jang Geum as the head of the female doctors is getting jealous of her. She approaches Team Choi and bows to Geum Young offering her services to help her deal with Jang Geum in return for wealth. 

The King visits the Special Court Lady


The queen asks Jang Geum to make her an evening snack. But technically that’s Geum Young’s job as she is head of the kitchen. So we have an awkward moment as the queen tells Geum Young that she wants to eat Jang Geum’s snack instead! AND tthe queen also wants Jang Geum as her personal doctor, too. 

a plague in Jewel in the Palace

But suddenly there are bigger problems than who is going to make the queen’s snacks. An epidemic is spreading through the country and they have to contain it. Jang Geum goes to the plague zone. But then she can’t get out. She’s trapped in the quarantine area and it’s all thanks to the head female doctor. But Sir Min realises she’s missing and rushes off to look for her. He finds her upset and feeling abandoned…

Ji Jin-hee as Sir Min in Jewel in the Palace

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Episode 40 JANG GEUM & SIR MIN ❤️ 

Sir Min and Jang Geum get surrounded by disgruntled and armed peasants. Everyone feels abandoned in the village and they are looking for someone to blame. Jang Geum persuades the angry mob to let Sir Min leave to get medicine from another village. But then she gets sick. The peasants lock her in a barn for quarantine. But then a fire starts…

Sir Min helps Jang Geum after she falls ill

Sir Min finds nothing in the neighbouring village and he realises that Jang Geum knew this and was trying to save him from being killed by the peasants. He hurries back just in time. He saves her from the barn and they hug – FINALLY! They also realise that this is not a contagious disease but good old fashioned food poisoning. After the floods, the people were starving and started eating vegetables that had gone bad.

Back at the palace,  people think Jang Geum and Sir Min have run away from fear of the plague. The head of the female doctors is feeling jolly pleased with herself as she orchestrated the whole thing. Now she wants the Choi family’s herb garden as a reward for getting rid of Jang Geum. And she is just about to get the contract for the herb trade when Jang Geum and Sir Min return. 😂 

finally a hug between Jang Geum and Sir Min!

Lady Choi refuses to believe that innocent vegetables can cause food poisoning. And at the same time tries to suggest there are inappropriate relations going on between Sir Min and Jang Geum. She’s so confident that she agrees to eat the  mouldy vegetables! She gets sick and Jang Geum turns up with medicine!

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