Gaksital aka Bridal Mask Episode 5 Recap

Heartbreak but more than could have been imagined. We set up for grander loss than we imagined for Kang To and while our hero has finally found his first love, she is long ways from finding him. Yet this seems just the beginning for a longer journey and arcs and twists are born here, preparing us for a rocky future. Onto the Recap!

Episode 5 Recap:

Kenji races up a flight of stairs until he reaches the first story and going to a window on the side, slides it open, hiding close to the wall to avoid being seen. He smirks as he becomes a spectator in the fight ensuing below between the circus workers and Kang To as the former try to assassinate the latter. Kang To easily fights off each and every attacker with ease while Kenji smirks above, hoping to see him crash and burn. A flashback shows that Gye Sook had come and warned him that Kang To’s life was in danger. While she came with the heart of saving him-purely for the monetary award, Kenji could care less and actually hopes to see Kang To finally die.

However, as he watches the scene unfold, he sees Kang To wield the advantage of being the better fighter and despite repeated attempts, no one is able to stab or even wound him. Gosh, he even dodges a dagger flying towards him. As the final masked assassin tries to stab him once more, Kang To fires, hitting in the chest. At that, the rest of the people scatter and abandon their attempt while Kang To catches sight of the dropped dagger.

Kenji curses, musing he’ll just have to kill Kang To himself and takes out his pistol to fire-with his bandaged hand, haha! Hence it’s no wonder he misses by a long shot. Kang To fires back at the window but Kenji hides well in time. Before Kenji can shoot Kang To again, the window pane shatters and he looks around to the other rooftop and finds himself the target of Gaksital. Forgetting Kang To, Kenji starts shooting at Gaksital.

Kang To unveils the bloody assassin and finds it is Dan, now unconscious. Quickly, he rushes her to the hospital in a panic, remembering the promise he had made to her in his childhood- ‘Just stay alive!’ he’d begged her. In voiceover, he begs her not to die and shouts at the driver to hurry. However, when he arrives at the hospital, the doctor takes one look at Mok Dan’s clothes and turns them away-they don’t treat common Koreans here; this hospital is for Japanese n Korean elite only. Kang To draws his gun, there’s little time to waste and he tells them he’ll take responsibility. The doctor tells him he needs to have special permission from the hospital director.

That very director is at the moment attending to the whiny Count Shi Young. The countess rolls her eyes at her husband’s childish acts and antics but Dr. Oh humors him. The Count has sickened himself because he’s cooped up at home for fear of Gaksital and the good doctor (good to him, that is, haha) tells him that problem’ll be over soon since an agent is coming down from Tokyo just to get rid of Gaksital. Into this scene bursts Kang To, who desperately asks the doctor to sanction the treatment for Dan. Dr. Oh snaps at him-what the hell? But Kang To words it with a credible reason: “This girl must be saved in order to catch Gaksital.”

The surgery happens and Kang To calls up Abe and tells him the details from the morning, asking him to find out more about which circus’s troupes were there today and tried to kill him. The doctor emerges from surgery, appearing disgusted and chafed at having to perform surgery on a native Korean and when Kang To asks about Dan, he tells Kang To he must catch Gaksital now in order to make his ‘sacrifice’ worth it. Haha, really doctor?

However, Dr. Oh finds his reactions a little too extreme and calls up Kenji, saying Kang To seems a bit too interested in the survival of his ‘bait to Gaksital’. Kenji hangs up with the new information and thinking back to this morning, when Gaksital interfered in Kenji’s attempt on Kang To’s life further strengthen his belief that Kang To is an ally of Gaksital. Meanwhile, Kenji and his sidekick Koiso torture Gye Sook because Kenji thinks she drew him there so Gaksital could kill him but she pleads innocent-she only wanted the reward money. Hence Kenji the creep, gives her another offer: “Want to be my secret spy? Want me to set you up in riches?” She takes the money he offers and in exchange, she is to report on the movements of the circus and Mok Dan in particular.

At the circus meanwhile, Boss Jo thinks its best to shut down the circus for now, telling the others he will take responsibility for Mok Dan’s safety and give an advertisement in the news once he deems it is safe for the circus to reconvene. And who should protest but Gye Sook-who needs the circus operating for her new job and argues that shutting down will make them look guilty and draw Kang To’s attention. The others are swayed by her logic and support her.

Kang To sits by Dan’s bedside, keeping watch over her as he clutches the dagger and begs her to wake up: “How you’ve lived all this while, how you got involved with Gaksital—there are so many things I have to hear from you.” He has another flashback to the time when they were running away from the bad guys and Dan had picked up his dagger when it had unintentionally fallen from his hold. She hands it over to him just before she faints and then the next morning, when they were finally cornered and he had handed it over to her. At the same time, Shunji broods over Kang To’s words that he will kill Dan/Esther from the day before. He finally shakes the thought aside, thinking his friend isn’t that cold hearted after all but Sun Hwa runs in with the bad news: Kang To shot Dan. Shunji runs out of there, tearing for the hospital, watched from afar by a spying Gye Sook.

Dan finally opens her eyes and finds herself cuffed to the bed. Recalling the circus fight and that Kang To fired at her, she struggles with her cuffs which is when Kang To walks in. Seeing her awake, he approaches her with relief and an eager smile, asking how she’s feeling, if she can recognize him-almost introducing himself by his other name. He mutters it’s a relief she’s awake but she scoffs at his manner and asks about the other members. He asks her which circus members they were, is Gaksital among them? If she confesses, he’ll save her and all her circus mates. She glares at him: “I don’t know! Even if you spared me, do you think I’d tell YOU?

He tells her to look at him closely, doesn’t she know who he is? She retorts-of course she does-he’s the bastard feeding off his own people and helping their enemy, their oppressors. An angered Kang To yells in frustration as he kicks a stool away then grabs her shirtfront. At that moment, Shunji enters and seeing the two like this, punches Kang To, sending him to the ground.

Afterwards, they sit outside and Shunji addresses him, telling him he thought he was his friend and had faith in him, he couldn’t have meant what he said, but no, he did it anyway. Kang To’s surprised and cannot understand what he means until Shunji shouts out: “You knew she was Esther and you shot her anyway!” He tells Kang To he can understand his ambition and his need to capture Gaksital but how could he shoot Esther knowing how Shunji felt? That widens Kang To’s eyes who realizes for the first time that Dan is Shunji’s first love. Kang To recalls the time he had seen Dan in the closet, her back bare and Shunji confirms it was Dan. He reels and Shunji adds: he is still Kang To’s friend and will always be, “But I can’t watch you trying to kill Esther. Do me this favor.”

Rie learns that Kang To is in charge of the Gaksital investigation and under orders of Kono. She tells her minion to find out everything about Kang To and intends to get rid of Kono. A flashback shows us five years ago, when she was Chae Hong Joo-a gisaeng in Kyungdung. On this particular day, she was required to serve some Japanese guests-which included Chairman Ueno but she had refused-it was the anniversary of the day her father was ruthlessly killed when men robbed her family under the pretext of raising funds for the independence army and hence she is in mourning today-wearing white. Ueno’s guard had refused to accept her excuse and wanted her to serve, drawing his sword while the owner of the place begs his understanding: Ueno was a yangban (nobility), having come here as a nine year old after her father’s murder.

Ueno still holds his cup to Hong Joo, telling her to have a drink but she refuses, eyes filling with tears as she tells him to slit her throat instead. The guard moves to do just that but she is saved at the last moment by Kang To’s interference. He’d fought off the guard, not with superior skills and even appearing frightened but holding his own until he was cornered with the sword at his own throat. Ueno intervenes at the last moment, sparing Kang To and Hong Joo. Hence, Kang To earns Hong Joo’s gratitude. Now, she mutters his name, “Lee Kang To, Lee Kang To. Is this fate?”

Kang To tries to process the fact that Dan is the girl Shunji likes and the one he saw at his house. He rushes back to her room to find it empty and Abe tells him Shunji took her out for a walk. That sends Kang To running out, imagining the worst (that Shunji may have helped her escape) but finds them in the yard; her on a wheelchair, him driving her around. He watches as Dan looks at Shunji in friendliness and smiles. Closing his eyes for a brief second, he turns around and heads inside.

When they are coming back in, their smiles simultaneously fade at seeing him and Dan pointedly looks away. An angry Kang To then proceeds to slap the officer behind them for letting Dan outside. Shunji tries to step in, telling Kang To he insisted and not to be so angry. Kang To tells him to stay away since he won’t be allowed in anymore. Dan cuts the argument short by calling out to Shunji, asking him to help her get back inside her room.

Meanwhile at the Count’s house, his wife and son (her stepson) chat regarding an upcoming party. Rie arrives and is presented as the singer recommended by Chief Kimura for the party. Charmingly, Rie thanks the countess for the opportunity to perform in front of the governor. While Tamao is completely smitten, the Countess takes offense at Rie’s wordings. Rie appeases her by offering a gift.

Meanwhile, Kenji wracks his brains trying to figure out the connection between Gaksital, Kang To and Mok Dan. He knows Gaksital and the girl are together and believes Kang To and Gaksital are on the same side too. So, what about Kang To and Dan? As he muses over it, for a moment his mind goes to Kang San but he dismisses the idea of the retard being the hero. At that moment, Gye Sook bursts in and tells him about Shunji. When Sun Hwa told him about Dan, he had gone tearing out to the hospital. That means, Shunji and Dan know each other quite well.

At that very moment, Shunji is being introduced to Boss Jo, Nanda anad Dong Nyeon who are wary of him at first-after all, he is friends with Kang To. Shunji plays peacemaker and tells them he hopes no one-not Kang To, not Mok Dan and not the circus workers will get hurt and assures them that Kang To will not treat Dan badly as before but warn them against trying to help her escape. Boss Jo is surprised and agrees with him but marvels at how Kang To could have such a friend.

Shunji arrives home to be confronted with Kenji who asks about his connection with Dan. Shunji tells him he knew her as a child and they met just again recently. Kenji isn’t sold and goes on, “That bastard saved that girl. He saved Lee Kang-to. He loves Joseon like it’s himself.” Shunji doesn’t see where the discussion is headed so Kenji goes on-he’s skilled with the sword and Shunji shows the other side loyalty that is insulting to his own father. At that he draws his gun and Shunji gapes at him, “You can’t think I’m Gaksital?”

Kenji challenges him to prove it otherwise and a fight breaks out with Shunji having the upper hand. He has his brother down and at his mercy within minutes. They are interrupted when Koiso walks in-Kenji is being called by their father. Shunji releases Kenji and heads inside while Kenji and Koiso head away. Except, they are waylaid by an interruption-Gaksital. Gaksital knocks the guns out of their hands but not before a shot is fired and Shunji comes running out. He comes across them just as Gaksital is cornering Kenji, ready to strike. Shunji gives chase to Gaksital but loses him.

Daddy Kimura gives the order for the Choil Bank to be guarded, anticipating trouble by the public. Kenji, however, gets another idea when his eyes fall on his relationship chart and realizing something, he sends Koiso in his stead. As it is, the bank freezes everyone’s funds. It turns out to be an orchestrated ploy since just a while ago the bank announced favorable interest rates, trying to get more people to deposit. At the club, the manager freaks out since he’s fallen ploy to the bank as well. Here, Rie arrives and once again, Tamao smiles at her while the others aren’t so welcoming.

Turns out the Bank President is one of the men in cahoots with Kimura and he splits the money with his fellows. The people who are protesting in front of the bank are dispersed by the police using force. The president also calls up Kimura who assures him he’ll support him. The president then sends out an armored car out with cash for the rest which gets intercepted by our knight in white armor!  Later that Chief Kimura opens his box-it contains rotten fruit. Hehe, the man making the deliveries was Kang San-so Gaksital was out making sure everyone got just what they deserve.

At the hospital, Kang To is still plagued by the image of Dan and Shunji together and can’t bring himself to go in and check on her. Inside, Dan pries open the window, removes her IV and heads to the window, hoping to escape but her wound starts acting up and in pain, she staggers back, knocking down the IV stand and crashing glass. Kang To bursts into the room at that, sizing up the surroundings and grabs her to stay clear of the broken glass on the floor. She tells him not to touch her but he counters that she’ll get hurt.

“What do you care if I get hurt or not?”

“Why wouldn’t I care? If you get hurt…” But he stops himself at that and thereon lies as he averts his gaze from her, “…then I can’t catch Gaksital.”


She scoffs at that so he picks her up and deposits her on the bed, reaching to handcuff her again but notices her reddened wrists from being handcuffed before. Instead, he orders the guard to block the window and station a guard below. He then sits on the couch opposite her. Trying to appear nonchalant, he grabs a newspaper and pretends to be reading it but then lowers it so he can see her. Dan watches him the whole time.

Abe bursts in at that moment to tell him of Gaksital’s latest stunt-stealing all the money from Choil Bank’s armored car. While Dan smiles at that, Kang To rushes out. In the village, Gaksital runs from house to house, dropping bundles of bills into each.

At home, Kang San startles mum as he jumps down the roof, his belongings falling to the ground. Mum, thinking of Kang San as the dummy, is at first worried about him- if he’s gotten hurt from the jump and tells him not to do something so dangerous again. His idiot persona, Kang San simply nods except mum spots the Gaksital mask on the ground. She picks it up and looks at him curiously. He awaits her response with baited breath. As she finally makes the connection, they hear voices in the background-it’s Kenji and his armory of troops. Just as they descend upon them, mum hides the mask and Kang San’s Gaksital clothes under her skirts.

Kenji draws his gun at Kang San, calling him Gaksital and commending him on the perfect crazy act. Mom fires back that he’s simply throwing accusations around-Kang San was such a wonderful person but they tortured him and made him a simpleton yet now they think he’s Gaksital. Kenji is ready to play the game and points the gun at mom.

That makes Kang San jerk forward, wanting to step in but mum turns around and holds him back. “Don’t be afraid. You are the eldest son of this Lee family. Your mother is so proud of you.” She tells him. In voiceover, Kang San whispers “Mother” to her, imperceptibly shaking his head, knowing she wants to sacrifice herself for him but she shakes her head right back. Kenji, seeing Kang San won’t come forward, retorts, “Harsh bastard. Are you really going to kill your mother?” he gives them to the count of three, during which mum keeps her hold on Kang San, strong as ever, not allowing him to move.

After the count is done, mum turns back to Kenji, taking his hand and challenging him to shoot her and the gun goes off. Kenji stumbles away in surprise and shock-the gun went off by chance and mum collapses on the ground, shot in the stomach. For a few moments, Kang San can simply stand there and stare horrified.

Slowly, he walks forward towards her and gently cradles her in his arms, silent tears streaming down until finally, he breaks down and cries out loudly, slapping himself with his hand and screaming out his sobs. As the officers around watch, Koiso walks up to Kenji, telling him Gaksital was just seen robbing another bank. Kenji is startled and mutters a curse, but heads off in a hurry since his father is calling him.

Kang San sits there, crying out in grief as his mother gasps out, “K-Kang To, your brother… Our Young… look after him…” and then her eyes close as life finally drains out of her. Kang San wails and sobs in his grief.



I was expecting Kang San’s death-hell, his death is what makes Kang To ‘Gaksital’ but I never expected this to go even deeper! One of the reasons I love this show is how even if we can anticipate what’s to come, we still get a good surprise and are left reeling from it. In this case, mum’s death is what makes things even worse for Kang To-he will have NO ONE when hyung is killed. Hyung’s death could have been a great catalyst for Kang To and mum to get back together as a family and be true to one another without any pretences, but now I can see her death as the added shove that sends Kang To tumbling down that precipice.

Another thing to note-Mum’s death is another death in the pursuit of ideology. She realizes Kang San’s truth-that he isn’t dimwitted but rather still carrying on a cause and in a split second, makes her own decision to stand by him, much as any other idealist would do. In terms of ideology-Kang To is the one who stands on the opposite side of the coin since he is the only one who has long abandoned ideology and would rather pursue practicality. And this journey is all about Kang To-the man who will go from being the enemy to being the person who protects against the enemy, who loathed ideology to the man who will fight for it. Right now, he’s simply the man who cares about right now and what he has-he wants to preserve whatever family he has left rather than to sacrifice all for the ‘overall good’.

Rie is an interesting character and I want to see more of her already! There’s yet more to be seen regarding her and Kang To but the one glimpse we do have of her character in this episode speaks a thousand words of future possibilities. And from what I can envision and imagine, I like her very much as a character and where she is headed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for her!

And most of all, I’m wondering what will happen when Dan will realize the true identity of Kang To and where the story for these two will converge from there! Yay to first loves!

About hitomiakiko

Architect and Aspiring Writer

Posted on June 19, 2012, in Asian Cinema, Entertainment, Korean Cinema, Potpourri, Recaps, Uncategorized, Written Excerpts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I have so much to say, lets start from the beginning

    I hate the whiny count, whenever he comes on screen, I want to fast forward or mute the sound. Of course I hate Gye Sook too and Kenji and all the Kishokai members (yup much hatred but I love the show)

    The happy moment when Mok Dan is awake and Kang To enters -that smile- (somebody help/save me) and there goes my happiness. Why just why Shunji had to enter at that exact moment and then he blabbers about Mok Dan being Esther. Yeah like it was Kang To’s fault not knowing your love life.

    I was confused when Rie had a flashback, from where did Kang To come from. Was he patrolling the area or something?

    When Kenji came to the conclusion the Kang San is Gaksital (panic mode on), for a second I had to praise him for being smart but when he dismissed the idea I was like “Thank you for being an idiot and stupid as well”

    Poor Shunji forgive your brother for being foolish and calling his own brother Gaksital and WHY point the gun towards him, when he is not sure himself.

    Have to say Kang San looked handsome in suit.

    When Kang To pretended to read the newspaper he was reading it upside down. hehehe

    I knew mom would be on Kang San’s side (after knowing his identity) but WHY OH WHY DID SHE HAD TO DIE and when Kang San cried and wailed, I was about to cry myself.

    And here I was thinking the angst will begin from the 6th episode.


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