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Recaps of Jewel in the Palace (Dae Jang Geum) 41-54

by AcklinEHuey

Here’s the final post of the recaps of Jewel in the Palace (MBC 2004), a Korean historical drama that I can watch again and again! The drama stars 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.

For previous recaps see episodes 1-10 11-20, 21-30, 31-40,

It’s getting more and more exciting as we come towards the end of the drama! Jang Geum and Sir Min have just managed to survive a plague. (they had their first hug, too!) But it turns out that it wasn’t a plague after all, it was a bad case of food poisoning! Lady Choi refused to believe that vegetables could cause food poisoning. So she agreed to eat the diseased veggies. But now she is sick, herself! (serves her right!) And she has no option but to accept medical treatment from Jang Geum!

Jang Geum and Sir Min hug after surviving a plague


Recaps of Jewel in the Palace Episode 41 SUK WON CONCUBINE

At first, Lady Choi worries about Jang Geum treating her. After all her shenanigans, she must think that Jang Geum has good reason to poison her in revenge! But then with bravado, she accepts the treatment announcing that she has ‘nothing to be ashamed of!’ (REALLY?!)  All the baddies are disappointed that Sir Min and Jang Geum managed to survive the plague. So now Lord Oh tries another tactic by trying to fire Sir Min for disobeying orders. (Technically he is guilty of this, but by doing so he discovered the real cause of the illness). Luckily, when the king hears what happened, he promotes Sir Min to the second highest pharmacy official.

Concubine Suk Won played by Park Eun-hye

Meanwhile, there’s good news for the king’s concubine Yeon Saeng. She’s pregnant and and gets promoted to fourth class 8th in rank concubine and gets the name Suk Won. Amusingly, the court ladies who treated her badly before, now beg for her forgiveness. Geum Young struggles too as every time she serves food, Suk Won pretends to feel sick at the sight of it. 😂

The head lady physician is put in charge of caring for Suk Won. But this pregnancy is not good for the Choi family and Lady Choi instructs the physician to make sure that she has a miscarriage. So the head physician treats Suk Won for anaemia when she actually has high blood pressure knowing this should kill the baby. But when Jang Geum sees the medicine, she soon realises something is wrong. Meanwhile gossip is also spreading about Sir Min’s relationship with Jang Geum.

court ladies bow to newly promoted concubine Suk Won in Jewel in the Palace
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concubine ranks of the Joseon period

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Jang Geum consults with Dr Shin about Suk Won’s symptoms. They realise she has high blood pressure and raise the alarm. The physician claims ignorance of the situation and gets demoted. and Jang Geum tells her not to use food or meds as a weapon again. (a theme of the drama)

Jang Geum consults Dr Shin in Jewel in the Palace

Meanwhile, Jang Geum is thinking about that duck soup again. Why DID the king get sick after eating Lady Han’s duck soup? She can’t check the king herself because only male doctors can treat him. So she pretends she needs to see the queen’s medical records and then cheekily smuggles the king’s medical records out instead! It’s bad timing though because the king is showing flu symptoms and the head physician needs his records. He notices that a book is missing from the library and the eunuchs promptly arrest Jang Geum.

It’s bad news for Sir Min too as Geum Young has finally decided to let him go. She cooks him a meal and then tells Lady Choi to do whatever she wants with him. They plan to get rid of him for good!

Sir Min and Geum Young eat together in Jewel in the Palace


Jang Geum is in big trouble for stealing the king’s medical records. She is taken out of the palace by eunuchs with what looks like a bottle of poison. (Could this be history repeating itself?) The Choi family congratulate themselves on FINALLY getting rid of her! But then the king collapses after eating Geum Young’s food! And the eunuchs come for her too.

Jang Geum in gagged and taken out of the palace

Lady Choi and the head doctor argue over whose fault this is! Is it because the kitchen serves food from Ming (not Joseon), or did the doctor misdiagnose the king’s illness? Fortunately, Jang Geum is not dead. She finds herself in front of the queen who wants to know why she took the king’s medical records and if she can really cure him …

Jang Geum is questioned by the eunuchs


The meeting with the Queen is hush-hush. Everyone in the royal court is told that Jang Geum has gone back to Jeju, but really she is in hiding trying to find a cure for the king.

The king is ill in Jewel in the Palace

Things are looking very bad for Geum Young when the investigators find dodgy poisonous mushrooms in her special sauce. But Jang Geum realises this is not the cause of the king’s illness. So it must be a set-up. Get ready for a TWIST because the head lady physician planted the poisonous mushrooms! She’s only been pretending to side with the Choi family and is really working for the ousted head of court ladies, Lady Park, who wants revenge – and her job back…

The Chois are tortured. Jang Geum visits them in prison. She insists they apologise for what they did to Lady Han. Of course they refuse. Still, Jang Geum and Sir Min step in and stop the torture by revealing that the king’s health is not related to the food.

Kyeon Mi-ri as Lady Choi in Jewel in the Palace


The Chois realise that Jang Geum is still alive. AND now their lives are in her hands. The head physician scrambles to find the real cause of the king’s sickness as he has just been covering up his ignorance so far. Yet, with his limited knowledge he still disagrees with Jang Geum about what they should do.

Lord Oh is appalled that anyone is listening to a FEMALE doctor. So eventually the queen has to go with the male head doctor’s prescription. But Jang Geum’s predictions come true and the king’s health gets worse. Jang Geum takes over.

Ji Jin-hee as Sir Min

The King gets better and the Chois are released from prison. But then Jang Geum and Sir Min are arrested because the king has gone blind. Jang Geum predicted that this would happen and assures everyone that it’s just temporary.

In a historical moment, Jang Geum is finally allowed to check the king’s pulse.

She realises there is something wrong and inspects the king’s water well, bathing pool, and finally the king’s cows. Time is running out, and she gets arrested when the king doesn’t improve. The Chois are in the next cell. Jang Geum announces she is only afraid of dying without clearing Lady Han’s name.

The torture is just about to begin, when the queen announces that the king is getting better. Jang Geum leaves prison and soon performs acupuncture on him. His skin is better but he is still blind. She performs a back massage on him for a LONG time until he can see again!

Recaps of Jewel in the Palace scene with Jang Geum and the king


Jang Geum explains the king had Behcet’s disease just as the head doctor said. But it was due to liver problems. And he also had arsenic poisoning after drinking milk from cows that drank from the hot spring with small traces of arsenic. The head doctor is humiliated as he misdiagnosed the king. He is now a liability for the Choi family, so of course they send a masked assassin to kill him. But the head doctor has already committed suicide.

Jang Geum and Sir Min hug in public!

Sir Min is released from prison and Jang Geum hugs him IN A PUBLIC PLACE! But then it’s business as usual. He continues his investigations and realises Lord Oh is involved with illegal silver mining. He catches his men trading with the Japanese which is also illegal.

Duck Soup

Concubine Suk Won serves the king Lady Han’s sulphur duck dish with no problem. Then she begs him to clear Lady Han’s name. But he doesn’t want to open old wounds as he knows that bringing this up again will cause more bloodshed.

Happily, evidence against the Choi family is growing. Jang Geum tells them she has a letter of confession from the doctor. They don’t believe her and refuse to admit anything. Still, Lady Choi sends Young Ro out of the capital for a while – she is the only one who knows everything. But Lord Oh’s men bribe her to go to the police and tell them what she knows. Young Ro doesn’t know what to do.

assassins in Jewel in the Palace

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FINALLY, Lady Choi asks Jang Geum to take her to Lady Han’s grave where she kneels and asks for forgiveness. She thinks this apology is enough but Jang Geum still insists she go to the police and confess and be punished!

Recaps of Jewel in the Palace episode 47

Young Ro doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t trust Lord Oh and offers to help Jang Geum IF she in turn helps her become head court lady. Jang Geum refuses. Young Ro eventually decides to go to the police but is intercepted by the Chois who force her to report Lord Oh’s wrong doings to the police instead! Then they send her out of the palace promising to bring her back when things calm down. But later she is found murdered.

Lady Choi apologises at the grave of Lady Han Jewel in the palace episode 47

Internal Affairs are presented with the head doctor’s (forged) will (from Lady Choi). The king discharges Lord Oh for the minor offences that Young Ro revealed. Trying to save himself he announces what he knows what Lady Choi did to Jang Geum’s mum and Lady Han. Lady Choi claims she is innocent and everything is written in the ‘will’. Then all are shocked when Dr Jung the head doc walks in – he didn’t commit suicide after all!


Lady Choi finds a ribbon and leans over to grab it

The investigation reveals Lady Choi’s guilt. But she escapes and is still determined to get back into power! She visits Lady Park’s grave again still claiming she had no choice. Then she changes her mind and plans to hand herself in to try to save Geum Young. But on the way back to the palace she sees a red hair ribbon. It reminds her of her childhood. There’s a sense of regret as perhaps she thinks back to more innocent times before she turned to crime and corruption. She tries to grab the ribbon but she slips and falls to her death!

Lady Choi falls over the edge of the mountain

Meanwhile, Lord Oh is still claiming he’s innocent. Sir Min points out that he traded with the enemy, gave Choi Pan Sul a monopoly on trade with the palace, AND received land illegally! He can’t argue with that and Lord Oh is exiled to Huksan Island. Choi Pan Sul gets 20 floggings and is sentenced to life as a nobi labourer in a mine in Hamkyung but he collapses and dies on the way there. The head doctor is discharged and forbidden to work as a doctor again.


(Hamkyung is now part of North Korea. The area is the setting for the real life stories in the book Nothing To Envy by journalist Barbara Demick.)

Geum Young is fired but before she leaves she gives Jang Geum the letter from her mother. She couldn’t burn it although Lady Choi told her to. Jang Geum is rewarded by the king with 77 bushels of rice, 77 bushels of beans and 3 pounds of ginseng. She has three wishes from the king – restore Lady Han’s name, restore her mother’s name, and let her become the highest kitchen lady for a few days (so she can write her mum’s story in the head kitchen lady’s diary.)



The king admits that if Jang Geum had been born a male she would be his personal physician now. But she simply asks the king to be sent to the public health centre because she wants to help the people and improve her skills.  Other doctors are promoted but Jang Geum treats the very needy even sucking the pus out of boils with her mouth! Sir Min often comes to visit her.

Queen munjeong and her son the future King Myeongjong, Yi Hwan (r.1545-1567)

But then the queen (Queen Mungjeong) is upset after finding a bad luck charm aimed at her son, the prince. She asks Jang Geum to come back and cure her ‘ill heart’. The queen is speaking in code. She wants Jang Geum to kill the crown prince (son of the late Queen Jang-kyung and future King Injong r. 1544-1545. He died in mysterious circumstances and there were rumours that Queen Munjeong was to blame)

Jang Geum knows she can’t do what the queen asks. And tells her that she can’t use medicine as a weapon – so the queen must take her life. But the king overhears part of the conversation and guesses the rest. He decides he can trust Jang Geum and wants to make her his personal physician. But Jang Geum  doesn’t know this and prepares to run away with Sir Min.

Sir Min and Jang Geum in the green tea fields
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The Royal Court is in uproar at the idea of the king having a female doctor! Jang Geum has no idea any of this is going on and prepares to leave with Sir Min who has given up his yangban status and resigned to be with her. But just as they are about to get on a boat, guards arrive. They are instructed to return to the palace so that Jang Geum can formally ‘refuse the Royal Physician position’.

Sir Min wants to leave the palace with Jang Geum but he has duties at the palace

Jang Geum overhears the minister telling Sir Min about the problems that will arise if he leaves. She feels guilty and ends up accepting the job so they both stay in the capital. But of course, scholars gather outside the palace to beg the king to change his mind. Doctors in the pharmacy – including the women – are writing letters of resignation in protest!

Sir Min and Jang Geum try to leave the palace

Suk Won is dragged into the situation too and the stress brings on premature labour. She has a difficult birth and nearly dies. This makes Jang Geum rethink. She wants to decline the king’s offer now since it’s killing people! But now there’s another crisis – Queen Munjeong’s son is sick.

The story of King Jungjong and the fight for the position of Crown Prince appears in the drama Mandate of Heaven where Jang Geum is the king’s doctor.


Queen Munjeong’s son is sick with fever (he becomes King Myeongjong later but died young without an heir and his mother ruled while he was too young). The queen is frantic with worry, but when the king suggests Jang Geum take a look at the prince, the queen is upset and insulted (since Jang Geum is ONLY a woman). She feels the king does not have the same feelings for her son as he does for the crown prince.

Jang Geum turns down the job and things get back to normal but Sir Min is disappointed. But he is in trouble for supporting her and the officials want to impeach him and have him exiled for leading the king astray.

Jang Geum helps the future king

There is an outbreak of smallpox and the prince has smallpox too. At first there’s no cure. But Jang Geum finds a cure and the king rewards her with rice and cloth and THEN CONTROVERSIALLY makes her a level 9 official and his personal doctor. The officials complain, but the doctors agree to accept her. The king has adopted an interesting strategy to deal with the officials’ complaints – He promotes her again up to a level 7 official. The officials complain again and so in frustration the king moves her up to a level 6 and Sir Min is told to deliver the message. 😂

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The opposing political sides join together (for once) to go against the king’s command.

They tell Sir Min not to execute the order and remind him that the job of the officials is to correct the king when he strays from the right path. They think the king is going against the gyeongguk daejeon (constitution).

The queen mother sits on a cushion outside the king’s quarters in protest too and the king backs down.

The king starts to spend time with Jang Geum.

He apologises to her for being weak and reveals that he didn’t want to be king and wasn’t prepared to be king and became a puppet of the officials who put him on the throne.

Jang Geum and the king

But Jang Geum encourages him to talk about the things he has achieved: he revised the national geographical book, rebuilt the astronomical observation device which people use to plant their crops, and built thunder canons to drive out the Japanese. He also restored the palace from its weakened state caused by Yeonsangun. Sir Min watches them jealously.

The queen mother has heard the rumours about the king spending time with Jang Geum and suggests he make her a concubine. That will mean she can’t practise medicine so the officials think this is a great idea. They also still want to exile Sir Min.

But Suk Won begs the king not to make Jang Geum a concubine because she is in love with Sir Min! The king looks shocked. The king asks Jang Geum if it is true and she says yes!

Related posts:

Why do some Joseon kings have the title JO and other JONG?


Jang Geum worries about what will happen to Sir Min now that she admitted she loves him. 💕

But he is happy that she admitted her feelings to the king. The king hears this and makes them both meet him the next morning for an archery contest! He suggests a wager and bets his good bow for Jang Geum’s father’s knife! (Jang Geum gave this to Sir Min) We hear earlier how Yeonsangun put an arrow in a eunuch, so the atmosphere is tense.

The competition is a draw as they both shoot bulls-eyes until the last arrow. The king misses but just as Sir Min is about to shoot, the king says he is in love with Jang Geum too!

Jang Geum and Sir Min in Jewel in the Palace
a love triangle …

He aims his bow and arrow at Sir Min’s face but Sir Min just closes his eyes ready for the hit. The king throws down the bow and marches off. (He’s not like his half-brother Yeonsangun!)

Later Sir Min begs the king to allow Jang Geum to follow her true path: she should become the king’s doctor and it is his job as a scholar to put her there. He also asks the king to put him to death as he should not come between the ruler and a woman. The king stops the concubine order at the last minute.

Finally, the king reaches a compromise. Jang Geum moves up to level 3 in the government a has a new title: Dae Jang Geum. (BIG Jang Geum) But her position is not hereditary and she will not be in charge of the royal pharmacy. But the officials still want to exile Sir Min for causing problems for the nobility. The king agrees…

Dae Jang Geum starts to look after the king and continues to improve her skills. But the king has weak bowels which are getting worse as he gets older. He has blocked up bowels. And there’s no way to help the king now. But Dae Jang Geum wants to cut out part of his blocked intestine. The king is horrified!

Im Ho as King Jungjong in Jewel in the Palace


The king needs the operation to survive but Dae Jang Geum can’t operate on the king as surgery is still in its experimental stages! As the King’s Physician Jang Geum’s life is also in danger – if the king dies on her watch things could get serious for her. The king knows this. So after revealing his feelings – telling her he could bear all the fear and loneliness as king thanks to her – he sends her away secretly via the eunuchs to Sir Min.

Several years later… history is repeating itself as Jang Geum is just like her mother and Sir Min is just like her father. They have a daughter who is clever like Jang Geum was and they are always on the run.

But this changes when palace officials come to find them. Jang Geum and Sir Min finally return to the palace and get their titles back. There’s no problem for them to return now as Queen Munjeong is Regent (while her son is too young to rule) as the previous King Injong died early.

Leaving the palace

But they decide to leave the palace anyway. Jang Geum wants to continue being a doctor for the ordinary people. Sir Min begs her not to try any dodgy operations as this is taboo in Joseon. She agrees but on the way they find a pregnant woman in labour needing a caesarean section. Jang Geum has no choice – she has to do the operation. the operation is successful and Sir Min proudly admits she is ahead of her time. 🙂


For more info on the making of Dae Jang Geum see here. I also have some notes from Director Lee Byung Hoon on the making of Heojun and how he changed sageuk in Korea, and the director’s approach and views on making sageuk.

see more from dramasrok about life in Korea on Facebook Pinterest and Instagram 


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