The Different Faces of Bravery: Lessons from The Princess’s Man



1. I was born and raised to think highly of democracy

2. As I’ve matured, I have come to think of democracy as one of the better ways of governing (really, running most institutions including family) SO, I don’t believe in the right to rule being passed along through blood relations.

3. I did not know anything about the historical figures presented in “The Princess Man,” SO I was not particularly partial to any faction.

4. I know enough about coups to know that they are very, very, very rarely bloodless transitions of power, so many of Suyang’s political and murderous machinations did not surprise me SO I wasn’t **horrified about how many people the new King decided to depose of – that is how you ceased power in those days.

I’ve read a few essays and many of them noted the great plotting, character development, and the importance and nobility of sticking to your values even in the face of opposition.

There were many instances of heroic bravery in the series – examples of people standing up to certain death for their beliefs. And for most of the series, I admired the instances of such type of bravery.

However, by the final episode, I was ready for another type of bravery. People have reported breaking into smiles and cheering when (former Princess) Se Reuyang and Seung-yoo rode through the fields (which I did find touching).

But no, I cheered at the jail scenes and the palace scene/throne room when Queen Consort—, the mother of Se Reuyang, told both of her husband and her daughter to put their ideals in their pocket and to consider what they really wanted in life and the people they valued and how their ideals would ultimately destroy everything.

It is suppose to be the height of cowardice to run away, to give up. And indeed a great many things can be accomplished if someone is willing and able to push through the pain, not become mired in past fires and keep moving forward – usually something is gained for their efforts.

However, it is also brave to look forward without flinching and consider your future. It is wise to consider the consequences of achieving your goals and considering what will be gained and what will be lost from them.

There were a few scenes were it seemed that Se Ryuang and Seung-yoo could truly see the tragedy and the hopelessness of their chosen paths – however, both characters were willing to push aside the questions of “what comes after I get what I want?” and instead redoubled their efforts of getting what they want. They became stuck in their own choices.

For Seung-yoo, what he wanted most was vengeance for his father and the many others that lost their lives. And my goodness, that body count ensured by Suyang’s rise and maintenance of his rise to power, was nothing to sneeze at. But as I thought about it, I became less convinced of the ‘nobility’ or even ‘rightness’ of Seung-yoo’s quest.  The opposition STAYED losing. Every time, you turned around there was one loss after another. AT some point in the series, I think it was after the death of the Prince Consort and King Danjang, that I began to hope Seung-yoo would cut his losses and run. But no, blood must beget blood – really that was his logic. There was no objection to what kind of ruler Suyang would be.And with his cunning, foresight and ability to mobilize his administration to carry out his plans – well, Suyang seemed like he had a solid foundation for a good leader. However, the opposition only objected to how he came to power – that’s it!

For Se Ryung – her goal was to make her father see reason and stop killing so many people. More or less, she never whole sale signed off on having her father killed. But she strongly endorsed that he have a change of heart. But one point, her father told her point blank that the man who had murdered countless people was the same man who had been a nurturing and kind father to her. It was at that point that I knew that Se-reyung’s battle was a lost cause. You cannot “save” someone who does not want to be saved, or even thinks that they need to be saved. Ultimately, I think Se-Reyung gave up her battle and cut her losses, but she would not tell her spouse to give up or “compromise his values,” which really were only about vengeance upon one person.

Suyang too at some times seemed blinded by his own ambition – to attain and maintain power. Watching his continual “purges” for the sake of getting rid of traitors/conspirators helped me see how easy it is for rulers to become paranoid and resort to chronic mass killings of their enemies.

Everyone had picked a path and were determined to stay the course.

Enter my sheroe. I cannot find her name right now, so she will be labeled honorably as Se-ryung’s mother (SM). SM reminded her husband and her daughter of the consequences of their actions and to consider what they would really gain and lose if they continued on this path.

**My hands shot up and I shouted out “Yes!” Finally, someone who is talking some pragmatic sense.
It was her her words that allowed the major characters to experience varying measures of peace and happiness. Without, her there would have been no real “happy ending” for Princess’s Man. And for giving a well deserved, yet still believable happy ending to a series I really liked, I salute Se-ryung’s Mom.

***IMAGINE HER PICTURE HERE-It’s a shame her picture from the series isn’t that easy to find ;(

**But I still found it abhorrent. One death in particular that made me tear up was King Dahjong. I knew it was coming – its rarely enough to dethrone a King — but still, how the the teenager looked to the sky and called for his older sister and father…ack. I was praying for a last minute rescue mission.

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