Gaksital aka Bridal Mask Episode 1 Recap

Okay, I just love this series! Exactly my cup of tea! Yup, this is definitely getting recapped people! 😉 My Korean might not hold up at times, but let’s hope we can get through this okay! Gaksital, You ROCK!!

Episode 1 Recap:

The episode opens on a funeral procession on a street for some ‘patriot’.  At the same time, soldiers are overturning people’s stalls and holding them back, arresting and using violence on the ones who resist. Some of the people speak up-“Patriot to whom?” calling the officers ‘turncoats’ for selling out their own country. As the soldiers load an old grandfather into the arrest van, his grandson comes up, wanting to stop them and gets beaten with a whip. As the arrest van drives away, in rides Officer Lee Kang To.

Addressing the crowd that goes silent, Kang To announces that a patriot has passed away and orders the people to mourn as his soldiers unsheathe their swords. Kang To’s voice is forceful and the people bow in sight of the swords as the procession draws up. Getting off his horse, Kang To also bows. Cutting back, someone is holding a stone and hurls it towards Kang To. Kang To sees it coming and moves away just in time but the stone ends up hitting the picture of the patriot on the funeral procession. Everyone halts and the people look up in surprise. Turning around, Kang To looks for the source of the commotion and finds Mok Dan standing upright and defiant, glaring at him. He starts towards her, ordering her to be caught just as she starts to run. And may I just say I love the way she’s dressed, hehe!

A chase ensues with Mok Dan throwing whatever she can get her hands on to escape her pursuers-from fruit on peddler’s stalls to vegetables and poking Kang To in his eyes when he finally does catch up with her. At the end, she’s surrounded but improvising, she jumps over a peddler’s stall to his head and onto the balcony above. However, the officer with a whip strikes her hand and she falls back down onto the ground. Soldiers help her up as Kang To smirks at her for finally getting caught.  He tells her he’s been searching high and low for her and asks where Damsari is. She’s like, who’s Damsari? He answers with a slap for her audacity but their chit chat is cut short when people start shouting, “It’s Gaksital!”

And in rides Gaksital-the man in the bridal mask wearing white and easily evades the soldiers by swinging on and off the saddle. Oooohh! Throwing daggers with tags attached to them towards the procession, he launches himself onto the ground, heading towards the long red funeral banner in the corner while some of the elite in the funeral procession cower in fear. (I don’t know what’s on the tags.) Gunshots ring out but he’s too fast to get caught and twirling and jumping, dodges all bullets, finally mounting a horse as he makes getaway after slashing the funeral banner.

As he’s making his getaway, Kang To arrives with Mok Dan in tow and is about to shoot Gaksital when she kicks him instead. By the time, he gets back up, Dan is running away and Gaksital sends him to the ground again with a swift blow to the back. Gaksital stretches out his hand to Mok Dan who takes it and they both go riding off while Kang To fires at them from behind. Bloody hell, one bullet misses them by a mere inch! Dan watches her savior with awe. Watching them ride away, Kang To fumes, “Gaksitttttaaaaaaaaalllllll!!!!”

One Month ago

Kang To gets awarded a medal in service while another officer-the one who uses the whip, looks on with barely veiled menace. Flashback shows the medal he earned is for catching Damsari-a fugitive who wears black and had just blown up a government building. The officer with the whip had tried to catch him first but Damsari had slipped through his fingers. As it is, the officer giving him the award announces that no distinction will be made between them based on heritage and all men will be judged by merit and encourages the others to do well. An officer in the back is not so happy at the words-or the award. Kang To is given the go ahead and there on, leads all the officers in a salute, “Banzai!!”

And off to dance! Haha, what a celebration! 😉 Kang To and his friends celebrate as one of them says it’s a pity he couldn’t see Kimura Kenji’s face. (That’s the whip guy.) Kang To tells his friends, “Who says only the Japanese can become chief of police? As long as you have skills, this is the world where a slave can become a Prime Minister. Keep watching, just how far I’ll rise!” His friends playfully suggest making bets on how far he can rise. And then it really is dance time! Lol, and Kang To has the habit of saying ‘Bingo’ every time he’s happy-like when he caught Mok Dan and when the club girl with him-Meri says he’ll rise far.

In a small marketplace, a woman is setting up her stall when the other merchants around throw her stuff on the ground and curse her, telling her only Koreans can set up stall here. Does she wanna die? How many times must they tell her. They call her out for raising a turncoat son. A woman and her son are most aggressive in their treatment of her, while others simply watch. Just then, a man runs through the market, yelling out, “Mother! Mother!” He’s dimwitted and trips over his own feet and his mother-the woman who is being cursed, calls him Kang San.

Dimwitted, Kang San realizes the people are calling his brother bad names and tries to defend him, launching himself at the guy. Passing nearby, Kang To offers some children sweets but they run away, realizing who he is. He hears his mother crying out Kang San’s name and runs over to find his brother being beaten. Kang To launches himself at that man who runs off, calling Kang To a dirty dog, even holding out his tongue and panting like one before he runs away.

Kang To shouts at the people around for standing by while is mother and brother got beat up. Mom shuts him down though-she never raised a son like him so he should just go his own way-what will he do-round up all the people and kill them? Seeing his mother’s goods littered on the ground, Kang To tosses money at his mother and tells her to just take it and stop selling the rice cakes.  The way he throws it and sounds is condescending but in reality he means well. His brother perks up at the sight of the money, collecting it but his mother orders him to leave it and turns to Kang To: “How could I face your dead father if I took it?” He defends himself-he’s doing much better than most people around him even though he was uneducated! A frustrated Kang To yells back, “What am I supposed to do? Father died, and hyung is like this—what am I supposed to do?!” Mom slaps him as he half says that at least playing the role of dirty mongrel earned him a living. At that, Kang San steps in between, hugging his little bro and crying for Mom not to hurt him.

Stalking home in anger, Kang To throws his award at the family photo in his room and aloud, grumbles that his family didn’t even congratulate him on his big day, it took so much to get this far. Mom and Kang San arrive just behind and hear as he shouts, asking if he has to devote everything to the independence movement and die like his father, or become an idiot like his brother, for everyone to be satisfied. “What the hell is Joseon anyway?! What is it? Has it ever bought me a bowl of rice?”  Packing up, he grabs his award and heads out, telling mom he’ll heed her wishes and leaver her to her filial son. As he leaves, Mom thinks back to the time when Kang To was younger and his brother wasn’t the way he is now. Kang To had been so idealistic and idolized his brother, hugging his brother’s cap and getting worried over his brother’s torn shoes. She traces her hand over the photograph and cries. Kang To drives away while his brother chases him on the street, finally falling down. Worried but steeling himself, Kang To drives on. *Teary*

Elsewhere, Kimura Shunji is teaching his students a song and is surprised and happy to see a visitor-Kang To. They talk freely and in banmal-means good friends and Shunji wonders why he’s here. Kang To replies, “Let’s fight one round.” Dressed in relevant Japanese attire to boot, both friends fight Kendo, equally matched and skilled. Finally, they both collapse onto the ground. How awesome is it that Kang To is the one dressed in black! 😉

Kang To finally lets out his worries. He was promoted and given a raise. “If I do well just one year more, I can buy mom a new house and send hyung to the best doctors in Tokyo.” He says it all with a straight expression but a flat voice. “If I could just fix hyung, then who cares if people call me names?”Awww… Shunji understands him and playfully lightens the subject. Soon they’re both tickling each other until an old woman walks up, calling, “Young Master! Young Master!” Shunji perks up-it’s his nanny and all smiles, heads over to meet her. Kang To teases him back this time.

Somewhere else at a circus, Mok Dan looks at the crowd from behind the curtains backstage and her friend, Sun Hwa asks who she’s looking for. Dan lets the curtain fall and whispers, squeezing a dagger close in her hands, “He will come someday. He will!” It has some character written over it and Sun Hwa wonders if it belongs to the person she loves. Mok Dan smiles as she gets a flashback. Two men are cutting through a field as nearby, two children, bruised and battered, huddle in fear. The boy gives the girl a knife, telling her, “No matter what, you have to survive. You can’t, you definitely cannot die!” The girl refers to him as “Young Master” and asks what he is going to do, scared at the implications. He calls her “Boon” and tells her, “Let’s definitely meet again! Definitely!” and turns to leave but she stops him, panicking, asking where he’s going to go. He promises that if she stays alive, he’ll find her and heads off alone, drawing the pursuers away and leaving her behind.

At the circus, we see a man who was also present in the opening scene. His name is Shin Nan Da and he’s the ringmaster who is pro Gaksital. The whole circus is anti-imperialist, i.e. the Japanese rule and pro independence. Mok Dan performs on stage-an elaborate show of swapping faces, her real face being revealed at the end.

At Shunji’s place, where Kang To is crashing for a few days, Shunji shares the story of his first love, which is still warm in his heart. It was for a girl names Esther and he tells Kang To, “You could say I became a person thanks to her.” Kang To laughs and tsks tsks at his friends story. Shunji doesn’t say any details despite his prodding but wonders to himself, “Will they have met by now?” And a flashback shows a church where a young Dan, dressed in nun’s habit prays while a young boy in a kimono-Shunji looks on. “Lord, please let me meet my father quickly, and keep the young master who gave me this knife safe. And I pray that we meet again, as we promised.”

Next day, Mok Dan is shocked to find out Mok Damasari has been caught. Nearby, Kang To dresses up in a new suit musing that he has to look good since he’ll also be in the paper soon enough too. He passes by Mok Dan but neither notice each other’s presence-he’s smiling and in a happy mood, her world is just about to fall apart.

At the courtroom, Dan begs to be let in so she can see her father but isn’t let in. She sneaks in when a crowd of officers walks out and the soldiers turn their attention to them, ignoring her. She reaches inside, hiding in the balcony above just as the judgment is being read- guilty and sentenced to death! Kang To smirks at that judgment, “Bingo.” Dan falls back for a moment, too stunned and shocked.

Kang To poses for a picture with her father for the papers, smiling next to the man sentenced to death and an angry Dan bursts out from her hiding place, screaming “You son of a bitch!”, her ire directed at Kang To. She leaps out and tackles down all the officers that try to stop her, heading towards Kang To and her father. Lol, I love the way she actually pulls at an officers hair before throwing him into a pillar. This girl fights dirty so well. Unleashing a dagger, she charges at him but he barely moves much as he tackles her. Her dagger falls to the ground as he gets into her face. She spits into his face before he can say anything and angry, he turns to strike her but a commotion causes their eye. A dagger flies straight into the judgment sign on the wall. Everyone looks up at the source on the balcony-it’s Gaksital!

Kang To moves into to fight Gaksital who mostly evades instead of fighting back. Dan easily evades the grasp of the soldier charged with leading her out and grabbing her dagger, frees her father and the other rebels. She tells him, “Father, it’s me! Your daughter Boon!” They make their getaway as a soldier tries to shoot Gaksital but is stopped by a fugitive getting away. Dan and her father make their getaway just in time through the windows of a judge’s office. They are saved by discovery when the judge, about to walk in, is stopped by a woman who has come to meet him. The woman is some high influential persons wife and looks on disapprovingly as Kang To requests to see inside the judge’s chambers. Although he declines, Kang To insists and gains entry. Inside, there is nothing but a look outside the window shows Damsari and Dan running away. Kang To sounds the alert, runs downstairs and shoots a fugitive running away while Damsari passes right by him in a disguise.

The judge and the woman seemingly have an affair and she has come to ask him for a favor-let her husband off for the charges he is facing for vehicular manslaughter. He argues at first but then relents, giving him a present-cash in a box of food. As the judge relishes the money once the woman is gone, he calls up the authorities, asking for her husband to be released-citing the victim was really at fault. As soon as he turns back, he comes face to face with Gaksital.

Gaksital calls him, “Choi Myung Suk.. No, Kwon Su Jung!” The judge freaks out at the second name, asking how he knows that name. Gaksital tells him it’s time to atone for his sins. As Kang To looks around for Damsari, a window breaks in the building behind and a person falls down from the second story-the corrupt judge-a Gaksital cut on his breast. Kang To runs up to scour the area and Gaksital runs away. Outside, he only sees soldiers running around and his dimwitted brother, here to see him. Frustrated, Kang To asks his brother to please stay home and tells him to leave but his brother objects, “You come too! I want to play with you! Hyung is bored! Let’s go together!”

That night, Dan stares at the news poster about her father and thinks back to the escape, wanting to run away with dad but he tells her to stay put for now, he’ll come back for her later! She tells him she’s with the circus, which had relieved him since he knows the ringmaster Jo. Staring at the newspaper, she whispers, “I’ll be waiting, Father!”

Kang To and his fellow officer the whip guy, Kimura Kenji report the news of the day to Police Chief Kimura Taro-the man who had been frowning when Kang To was being awarded the medal. And he’s the dad of the whip guy. Dad immediately slaps his son for not reporting it right away. Son shakes in his boots while replying and glares at Kang To when Dad is gone-angry that he is the only one who got the slap. Boy, you have some serious anger issues! They check out the body and Dad puts Kenji on the case, despite Kang To’s pleas to be put on the case himself. And back to the opening funeral procession scene.

Losing Gaksital again, a furious Kang To heads to the judge’s chambers to look for any clues he or the others might have missed when he pieces Gaksital’s cut on the funeral banner as the same on the judge’s chest. He finds nothing and slumps in a chair in frustration until he spies a photograph hidden behind the Japanese flag on the wall. He reports it to his boss. It’s a picture of the judge along with Kimura Taro. Even his boss is surprised at the relationship between the two. Moreover, the signature letters embroidered on their kimonos are the same as the sign Gaksital uses. Kang To derives that they are somehow related and names a third person-Lee Gong.

Now they both think it strange Kimura left the case to son as if he had something to hide. When the Kimura’s walk in for a meeting, Kang To wants to keep their discovery a secret and his boss hides the photograph. He then proceeds to reprimand Kenji for not having found Gaksital yet even though he had a month. Using that as an excuse, he puts Kang To on the case. Back at the police station, father son Kimura duo discuss Kang To. Kenji presses that Kang To is a liability and ‘before our organization is discovered, we have to kill him!’ Dad tells him to do it perfectly so Kono doesn’t have any suspicions and son perks up-he has just the method for it.

Kang To receives the files on Judge Choi and reads through them as Kenji watches with a glare. He calls someone up: “It’s tonight. You can do it, right?” As Kang To carries out the box to his car that night, a pistol is put straight to his head from behind when he moves to open his door. The man behind him is …Gaksital?

Except, a close look at the face beneath the mask and the smirk shows it isn’t Gaksital after all…



Okay, first of all, how badass is Kang To! As in truly badass-the kind who isn’t hurt by violence on others and who doesn’t bat an eyelash on anything-just as long as it doesn’t concern him or his family. He’s not concerned with other people since they have given him little in return-his mother is victimized because of him and his brother has already been made a dimwit because of an incident in the past. From the idealist Kang To, the events around him have transformed him into the Kang To who will do anything for his own means. And yet, even though he serves the Japanese Imperialists, it is more with a desire to see better by his mother and brother, rather than personal greed. When he gets promoted, what does he say, “If I toil harder just one year more, I can get a house for my mother and send Hyung to the best doctors in Tokyo.” He doesn’t have a heart of steel, not literally, he’s just taught himself not to care. “As long as hyung gets better, what does it matter that people call me names?”

Like he says, what has Joseon given him? It killed his father and turned his brother into what he is! Why does he have to follow the same path- a path he believes is of doom and will lead to nothing but even worse grief! It’s the circumstances around him and his personality to simply blend himself as per them. No, he’s not a good person and nor does his selflessness towards his family and himself excuse his inhuman behavior towards others but that’s the whole beauty of it- watching a man like him, who has no faith in Joseon, in the people he can call his countrymen and in the ideals of his forefathers change into a person who will protect those very things he looks down on today. The him now looks down on them and smirks when they’re sentenced to death-let’s see what happens when things change and he is standing on the other side of the coin!

And best of all I like are the scenes of fight between him and Gaksital. How awesome is it that he’s always the one charging into the fight like a raging bull while Gaksital is calm as you may please! Gaksital never even come close to hurting him although if he were to not hold back like he does, I’m sure he could easily surpass Kang To. I can’t wait to see how things develop and Kang To takes the one path he hates the most-the path of being noble and choosing ideals over realism to survive in this world. It’s how he is today-he’s foregone ideals and is focusing on survival by whatever means he can. Yet Gaksital represents the exact opposite picture-where ideals are the means and the reason for survival. Let’s see how the little kid grows up to fulfill his hyung’s and Gaksital’s shoes!

And Aye Unni, here’s a present for you! 😉

About hitomiakiko

Architect and Aspiring Writer

Posted on May 31, 2012, in Asian Cinema, Entertainment, Korean Cinema, Potpourri, Recaps, Uncategorized, Written Excerpts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. YAY!!! I agree with you completely. TBH, though, it was hard for me to finish the first episode. I was having internet problems and you cannot believe how many times I opened it, only to watch like 10 minutes or so before having to close it. Graah, and I didn’t really catch on that well, about what was going on, who where the bad guys and who the good guys were. I was a bit confused, esp since I was watching it in intervals lol. And yes, the transformation into Gaksital. Very very well done. I expected it to go there within the first ep, you know, how in rom-coms especially, the first episode lays everything out that was already told in the plot synopsis. I realized that this drama would take it slower, and boy was the pay-off good! I’m on ep 9 I think, and have to take a break from watching, but I really can’t stop thinking about it! Will use your recaps as a substitute. 🙂 And thank you! I can’t believe how much effort it takes to write proper recaps like this. Just know that your effort is most appreciated!

  2. well that’s the effect of Kang To’s screaming that I have lost my mind hehehe.

  3. YAY Gaksital, and OMG Joo Won dancing -screams- wait that’s Kang To’s “speciality”. Ager mein itna cheekhoon mera ghala bandh ho jaye.
    All in all an awesome episode and thanks for the recap.

  4. Mari ur the beeeeesttt!!!! Thank you dongsaeng!!!! I am seriously loving Joo Woon as Kang-to. After SK in K2H I started to really appreciate men in uniform. JW is rocking the white uniform. I’m so excited to see how our anti-hero becomes our hero. Its a real surprise that the lead can be so villain (which I love). The story seems very promising, so let’s hope for the best. Hwaiting!!!!

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