rin + san = rinsan [part 3]

rin + san = rinsan [part 3]
I’m following currently-showing dramas but at the same time, rewatching The King Loves. Not to write these gushing reviews but to slowly appreciate how consummate Song Ji Na was in terms of telling and developinng RinSan’s love story. For those who haven’t watched the drama, it would be understandingly difficult to emphatise my lasting attachment to it. There is just a wealth of emotions and so much raw, heartfelt sincerity between Rin and San. Their love is understated, so subtle… it just creeps into your soul and lodges there forever.
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HJH is a natural master of restrained emotions and keeping his feelings in check, which is why Song Ji Na wrote Rin as such. There is a rare, controlled intensity to Rin that would be incredibly hard to protray convincingly if the actor wasn’t inherently made in the same way. HJH had no problems abiding to how Rin expressed his thoughts and emotions, and the few subsequent outbursts, because he is similar in real life.
This review is based on Episodes 20-30 – or Episodes 11-15 going by the international version.
We continue where we left off. San is locked up after being caught by the king in her attempt to escape the palace grounds with Rin. Won visits her in prison and the first thing he notices is that she is wearing Rin’s clothes. This obviously bothers him since it seems like an oddly intimate gesture though I’m certain Rin didn’t mean it as such. He had been in a hurry but at the same time, if it had been another woman and not San that he was ordered to rescue, I’m even more certain that that Rin wouldn’t have considered lending his clothes to her. He would have grabbed Dan’s clothes or stole something from some female living in his household.
I’ll reiterate that Rin is a stickler for propriety and he’s not one who would go around letting random people wear his clothes. Won is aware of that and thus it disturbs him that Rin had no qualms letting San wear his clothes, which speaks volumes of his friend’s feelings towards her. Poor Won is further upset when San confesses without guile that she had asked him not to choose her as the Crown Princess because she knew Dan had to be chosen in order for Rin to be able to stay in Goryeo. She is determined that Rin stays, even if it means she is the one being shipped to Yuan.
San doesn’t defend herself even as Won rails at her for making such a rash decision. What is more telling is the fact that she doesn’t answer or contradict him when he questions whether she is being honest when she stated she was in love with another man. Her subdued politeness and gratitude rile him, and when she brings up Rin again, worrying that he would get into trouble since he fought against the king’s guards because of her, Won snaps that he’ll handle everything. Rin later asks Won whether San is all right, to which Won replied that he was relieved that San wasn’t crying. But figures San isn’t one who would cry in front of him.
We skip to the part where San is released from prison and given the task to help Won by Teacher Lee. Rin leaves to gather more intel to rescue Minister Eun, but San runs after him. She trips over fancy skirts and lands squarely in his arms. It just disturbs Won each and every time he sees the two of them together.

Rin and San aren’t exactly in a rush to untangle themselves, even as Rin gently steadies her by putting one of her hands on his shoulder for balance. I swear I just swooned at this gesture even though it is innocent enough. The BTS cut for this scene was sooooo cute since Hong Jong Hyun had this tiny smile on his face throughout shooting it. San urgently informs Rin that her father needs medication for his heart condition and when Rin assures her he will get it, San just gazes at him rather yearningly in this perplexed, adorable manner, as if she is reluctant to see him go but just can’t figure out the reason why she is feeling that way. Rin returns the favour with a steady, warm gaze of his own before interrupting the moment, saying he has to get going. He turns to leave and San, again, watches his departing back absently, which doesn’t escape Won’s keen eyes.
I realise San just can’t help seeking out Rin all the time. Besides the fact that he is too handsome not to oogle at, she is pulled to his solid reliablity and gentle strength, which seems to soothe and comfort her. She doesn’t want to look at him, yet she can’t help herself, and it befuddles her. Oh man, the chemistry simmering between Yoona and HJH in this scene… how can they be so sweet yet so have so much physical tension crackling between them?

And what follows is absolutely one of my fave Rin scenes where he goes hunting for Minister Eun – swaggering down the hallway all the royal bad-ass in him. HJH is beyond cool there, with even cooler music playing in the background. Anyway, he saves Minister Eun. Meanwhile, San sets to work on charming the Yuan envoy to steal the tribute list. She succeed and later, Won manages to convince the Yuan envoy to drop the case. Won assures San that she would be released from prison soon, and Rin sweetly adds that he’ll be outside waiting for her. AWWWWWW… HJH can be so super duper super duper sweeeeeet! His expression and his tone here… SIGH. San nods happily at Rin, pleased to hear that, while Won justs give them one of his disturbed stares.
Won drapes his royal robe over San, citing that the guards won’t dare to mistreat her if she is seen with his clothes. Rin studies Won keenly while San, though uncomfortable, lets Won have his way. Yup, Rin definitely knows that Won is one-upping him through clothes. When Rin offers to walk San back, Won cuts in and asks Rin to stay and orders his eunuch to do the job. Won acts all casual but nothing really escapes Rin when it comes to Won, and he eyes Won sharply. Ya know, rewatching doesn’t make me sick of looking of HJH – it just bumps up my appreciation of him and how awesomely he played Rin.
So as San is being ambushed, the boys are drinking and trash-talking. Rin tells off Won for even considering keeping San by his side even if she doesn’t wish to. Won snaps back, demanding to know why Rin thinks San would be unhappy with him. URGH. They are interrupted by the news that San has been kidnapped.
Cut to Rin nervously spying on Song In’s men from the rooftop with Jang Ui beside him. Jang Ui tries to comfort Rin, saying that San would be fine since she is a strong person. Rin doesn’t answer him… but instead confesses that San makes him question his decisions and makes him keep thinking back of events past, which has not happened to him before. Heregrets lying to her about his feelings, pushing her to Won, and sending her away coldly. He softly confesses he keeps thinking of her and each time he does, he feels he is going to mess up. OMO… Rin-ah….
Rin goes after San, who manages to escape and runs around the town while Song In’s men give chase. Rin appears and pulls her to safety. AND… this was when I was pretty sure RinSan was a huge possibility because the scene was just spewing the flames of romance. Rin, knowing San is worried about her father, quickly informs her he is fine. San wilts with relief and her composure cracks. She starts to tear and Rin does a quick sweep of her person and inquires anxiously whether she is hurt.

She shakes her head but Rin spots the gash on her forehead and ommmph… it looks as if the wound is breaking his heart. Well, it breaks his restraint and he embraces her, admitting he was terrified that he wouldn’t be able to find her. San just sags in his arms, finding security with him. I think this is the point Rin makes up his mind he doesn’t want to lie to San and himself anymore about his feelings for her.
Rin takes San back to his place. Dan fusses over San, and does her best to create an opportunity for her older brother by ordering him to clean San’s wound. When Dan leaves the room, Rin throws San a piercing gaze. GAH. His intensity rattles San and she mumbles that she can clean her own wound. But Rin has already made up his mind not to avoid her any longer so he plants himself in front of her and begins to clean her wound.
San suggests Rin return to Won since he might be in trouble but Rin orders her to stay still. He is confident Won can manage the situation. When he leans in to inspect the wound, San looks up and suddenly, they are within kissable distance. I remember squealing at this point while watching the drama the first time. I squealed further when Rin caught San’s hand when she tried to touch her wound. GOODNESS. The chemistry between Yoona and HJH is pure crazy. The way they looked at each other… the tension… the attraction. AHHHHHHHHHHH. I was FOREVER RINSAN from this moment on.

Rin releases San’s hand after a long beat and says in that half stern-half gentle way of his that the wound will get infected if she touches it. He then gets to him, issues a curt “good night” before leaving San alone. San stares after the frustrating yet intoxicating man, and stares at the blood-stained cloth. She seems to be resigned to the fact that Rin is genuinely growing on her and she can’t deny that she feels nothing for him.
When San wakes in the morning, she has that famous conversation with Won, where he asks her to run away with him. I swear San is exasperated at this point because she believes there are greater things for Won to worry about… and because she knows she has developed a tendre for Rin. She tries to return the bird hairpin to him but he brushes her off.
So Won enlists the help of San and Teacher Lee’s fellow disciples. It’s hard not to NOT notice Rin when he is involved in everything Won plans, and with him pulling cool fight moves. So Won manages to overwhelm his father enough to get enough power to do what he wants – that includes building his aviary for San. Though Won narrates the part where we see he and Rin heading to the mountains to find San, we see Rin’s reaction and expression when he sees San, and when they interact.

I love RinSan, but I admit I love them more because their fate with Won is just so twisted and ridden with bittersweet pain and joy. Because of their entanglement with Won, I love and appreciate RinSan more. At the same time, I appreciate Im Si Wan for portraying Won so masterfully. AND Song Ji Na for writing the most heart-tugging lines, especially all the voiceovers. The drama is so lovely because of what is being out loud, and in their hearts. It’s just crazy how simple and impactful the script is. There isn’t really much fanciness or buzzy slants to the script – it is just sincere, thoughtful and meaningful.
The scene at the temple. RinSan is basically adorable here and I recall how adorable the BTS was. Yoona was nagging at HJH not to eat the pancakes for real – I gues they were really bad. HA! – and HJH was so charmed and tickled by Yoona’s enthusiastic portrayal of San. So Rin tastes the pancakes San has made and his reaction is priceless and he asks in the gentlest – I swear only HJH can be THIS swoony gentle- tone as to not hurt her feelings whether she has tasted her handiwork. When she cheerfully replies that everyone who has tried the pancakes praised them, Rin just smiles back in amusement. Awww…
The three indulge in their favourite pastime and San announces she is leaving for a faraway land with her father to seek treatment for his chronic illness. Both boys are shocked and Won, in an attempt to make San stay, admits he and Rin were at the scene of her mother’s death eight years ago and had not done anything then. He offers to make it up to her by finding her mother’s murderer… but Minister Eun, who has been listening to the conversation, declines. Won orders San not to leave, while Rin looks on disturbedly.
Minister Eun knows his daughter too well and questions her bluntly whether she is dropping her search for her mother’s murderer because Rin’s brother is involved, and she doesn’t want to hurt Rin. San answers that Rin’s family is all good except the dastardly second son. San begs her father to let her stay in Gae Kyung for 10 more days. She practises her martial arts and Teacher Lee drops by, knowing what she has in mind. He casually advises her to choose revenge or love – she can’t have both. Teacher Lee, who seems to know everything, seems to know San likes Rin, which is why he advised her as such. He also tells her she can do want she wishes if she helps with one task.
Rin finally tells Won that he suspects his brother is involved in San’s mother’s murder eight years ago and because he didn’t make known his suspicions earlier, he can be considered an accomplice. The queen considers San a better choice as the crown princess because of her wealth and assures Won all they need to do is find a tiny flaw in Dan’s family in order to replace her. Won walks out of the meeting and studies Rin with a mixture of guilt and frustration.
San returns to the boys’ side as part of her task, and they are happy to see her. Love how San greets Rin, “Master Rin, we meet again.” and he just barely smiles in relief. It is exactly how she greeted Rin when in the first few episodes when she posed as a maid in his household. There is something sweet about how San always ensures Rin gets a separate greeting from her. Anyway, San hands over some financial assistance to Won and later requests that he doesn’t investigate her mother’s death further. Rin is stunned and when he pursues the issue, Won, who is more than happy to close the case to save Rin, tells him to shut his mouth. But Rin observes San rather suspiciously while San doesn’t look all compliant either.
San trails Jeon to where Song In is and before she can make a move, she is stopped by an irritated Rin, who gruffs he knows she was not going to give up. HA. I kinda love how grumpy and annoyed he is here, yet his hand rests on San’s knee in a familiar manner while chewing her head off. I swear this tiny gesture is a Freudian slip by HJH – who just needs to touch Yoona in some way whenever they are together. I don’t think he is being Rin here since Rin isn’t that on close terms with San yet.

It was HJH being HJH, and getting all sweet on Yoona. HEH. Rin orders San to follow him and when she questions him, he gets even more irritated and just barks at her to follow him. Hahaha. Love a grumpy Rin. But at the same time, it’s cool when he gets all assertive on San. The strange thing is, Rin’s assertiveness works on San while Won’s brand of assertiveness doesn’t. I believe it is because San believes that Rin has bona fide reasons when he insists she does something (which is usually for her good) while Won is mostly preoccupied with keeping her by his side.
Rin takes San to the vagrants who modify their story – we know they are under Won’s orders to do so to prevent Rin from implicating his brother, himself and his family in the process. But Rin is determined to let San find out the truth and drags her to the salt merchant. By this time, San is bewildered as to why Rin is so dogged about the matter. She stops him and explains she rejected Won’s help because she was worried that Rin may get into trouble since his brother is involved. Rin is angry and stunned at the same time that San is worrying about him when he is way more worried about the fact that San intends to tackle Song In on her own. AWWWWWWWW… these two.

Rin figures San needs to get the bottom of the matter and San confesses as much that she needs to know the truth in order to move on with her life. She and Rin share a lingering exchange of gazes. That and how they take turns with the wrist grabs. SIGH… the chemistry between Yoona and HJH…and the cute BTS of HJH treating Yoona’s wrist like a bike ignition… HEH..and their animated conversations in between takes. I love HJH in this scene…his stoic quietness is so magnetic. Song In hears how Rin and San were together the entire night and decides to switch tactics and drive a wedge between Rin and Won instead, using San.

San is back to assisting Won. When Rin gets over-protective about San going about herself, Won cuts in that he will protect her. Rin realises he has overstepped his boundaries, admits as much to Won, and apologises. The queen’s lackeys appear and informs Rin that he has been summoned. He passes San on the way out, and the latter is worried when she finds out that Rin is not being summoned to the queen’s chambers but to the investigation bureau.
So the queen questions Rin and the truth comes out that Jeon is indeed partially responsible for the attack on San’s mother all those years ago. Rin is pretty much destroyed by the truth but he senses San’s presence and is horrified to see her standing there. San is inconsolable as she stares in hurt accusation at Rin, while Rin is equally devastated. This is THE scene that convinced me that Yoona and HJH’s chemistry in the fluffier scenes were not a fluke – their chemistry was electrifying in this scene, powerfully emotional and sooooooooo perfect. I remember raving about this scene in my initial review… I just love how the bar was being raised in terms of acting chops for both actors, and how Yoona seems to respond instinctively to HJH’s intensity as Rin.

Rin desperately struggles to get to her though he is being held back by soldiers. San appears pained at the sight of Rin being capatured, yet she is overwhelmed by the knowledge of how significant a part Rin’s family played in her mother’s death. She runs off as Rin sees her go with a sinking heart. ARGHHHH…LOVE. The song played truly belongs to both San and Rin – as they both showed later in the drama how unconditional their mutual love was for each other. Yoona was very good here, but HJH… was near sublime. His eyes… GAAAAAAAAAH. This was the turning point for HJH in my opinion… he was simply unstoppable after this scene. The emotional and physical reasonance he had with Rin spilled over to incredible rapport with with both Im Si Wan and Yoona.

Re-watching this scene, it hit me that this was probably the moment both Rin and San realised they actually harboured a fairly deep attachment, affection and love for the other party. The more you love, the more it hurts. And in this scene, both Rin and San looked as if they were drowning in pain. If they had dismissed their feelings earlier for whatever reasons, they both could not deny here that they had inadvertently fallen in love with each other. Which makes the discovery of Jeon’s treachery even more hurtful, unforgiveable and painful to both parties. This scene would not have been so mind-blowing and charged if HJH and Yoona didn’t have crazy chemistry – the scene worked on pure chemistry in motion. The exchange of gazes, their panicked breathing…everything was in place.
You know what? I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be the scene that HJH had difficulties with – the scene which he mentioned in his interview, and how Yoona helped and consoled him. This was the most emotionally challenging and testing point for RinSan up to this point in the drama. HJH also commented that he asked the PD whether they could re-shoot the scene if there was time. If my guess work is accurate, the final version we watched could have been shot after HJH’s good night sleep, thanks to Yoona’s thoughtfulness and empathy. Well, as I said, I’m just guessing. Haha.
Won finds out about Rin’s situation and when he is informed that San had followed Rin to the investigation bureau, he knows what her next move is. He stops her from plunging her knife into Jeon, saying that both she and Rin would get hurt if she does so. San’s shock manifests into her falling sick and inn ajumma comments if Rin knew she was suffering this way, he would come running over immediately. HA.
Anyway, Rin is not going anywhere since he is all tied up. When Dan comes to see Won, she is upset when she sees San with him. She begs San to forgive her family, especially Rin. She divulges that Rin is in love with San and implores San to overlook whatever happened. Her plea sets San’s temper off and San explodes, saying she was going to kill Jeon and leave for good. She was going to do that for Rin… even though her mother and guards were killed that fateful day. Dan is astonished the extent her family has wronged San’s…and is probably stunned to find out San does like Rin, too.
Queen persuades San to stand witness in the trial against Jeon and his family. Won tries to dissuade San, but to no avail. As San waits for her turn to testify, she recalls all those tender moments that Rin swooped in to save her, even at his own peril.
When it is time for her to take the witness stand, she walks in dazedly. She stops in front of Rin, but is unable to look at him in the eye. Rin doesn’t look at her either, though both are painfully aware of each other’s presence. San answers the questions fired at her until it comes to the all-important question, “Did she see Jeon communicating with the assasins?”

San musters up the courage to look at Rin this time, gazing at him shakily. He returns her gaze with heartbreaking steadiness and breaks my heart when he adds a tiny, warm, encouraging smile. You can’t not love Rin, seriously. Apparently, San feels the same way since she looks equally shattered upon seeing Rin’s encouragement to tell the truth as she knows it. She knows that she cannot bear for anything untoward to happen to this beautiful, honourable man.

San goes on to stick to the original story she always knew – since she didn’t see Jeon interacting with the assasins – and Rin is stunned. The emormity of what she has done hits San and she stumbles. Won catches her while Rin strains against his binds helplessly. As Won leads her away, San looks over her shoulder at Rin. Her message is obvious – she changed her story because of him, only him. Because she wanted to save him. Because she loves him. Rin gets the message, and is humbled and surprised. I guess it really never struck him that San could fall in love with him or would notice him since he was always in Won’s shadow. ER… you like like a million bucks each time with those glorious clothes, hair and facial features, Rin-ah…. just sayin’…

The queen muses to Won that her plan failed because she failed to factor in the depth of San’s feelings for Rin. She has seen the way they look at each other…
Rin heads to Minister Eun’s household to offer an official apology for his family’s wrongdoings. He kneels for forgiveness – which is breaking protocol because Rin is royal. But Minister Eun warily waves off his apology, citing that Rin didn’t do anything wrong. He suggests Rin visits San instead, who hasn’t been feeling well.
Rin stands outside San’s quarters, and thanks her profusely for saving his family. He shares he is worried for her safety since she didn’t testify according to the queen’s instructions. He would like to protect her but he is being sent away to a faraway province… and San appears next to him. Rin then explains why he is going away and that he is leaving soon… San numbly wishes him a smooth journey and walks past him. Rin grabs her wrist and earnestly asks whether she is fine. San answers that she isn’t and Rin quietly responds, “Don’t be sick.” ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH. So gentle, so sweet, so Rin. Or So HJH? I’m getting all confused now. Hahaha.

San bursts out Rin didn’t do anything wrong: he caught her when she fell, saved her when she was in trouble, and watched over her when she cried. But she can’t bear to stay by his side when she recalls how traumatic her mother’s death was. That said, they part sadly. We later find out that San cried her out heart after Rin left her place. It was a beautifully done scene, and so delicately portrayed by both HJH and Yoona.
Minister Eun decides to betroth San to Rin and send them away from the palace, and takes his plan to Rin’s father. The latter agrees but states they need approval from the queen since Rin is of royal blood. Minister Eun says he will handle the queen.
Well, we know what happened after that. Poor Minister Eun gets poisoned and dies. San is devastated and thinks the queen is behind her father’s death. Rin charges into the palace , looking all fierce and glorious in his red-silver robe – and demands that Won let him look after San. Won refuses but an enraged Rin growls that he is going to escort San, hell or high water, and dashes off to look for San.

Rin finds her in the room with her father, and San whimpers at the sight of Rin. It does seems as if she feels that she is finally with someone who understands her – and that someone is Rin. Rin crouches down next to him and suggests firmly that she takes her father home, together with him. I kinda love that he goes all banmal here, dropping honorific speech in this time where San needs solace and comfort. I believe he wants to relate to her in amore familiar, intimate manner, rather than maintain his usual distance from her.

San nods and staggers her to feet. Rin catches her with one hand, and offers her his other hand for support. I can’t even… this is so classic Rin yet each time he pulls this sorta gesture, my heart just flips and turns at his incredible thoughtfulness. Won arrives in time to see San place her hand trustingly in Rin’s and they stand up together to face him. For the very first time since the trio had gotten to know each other, it’s Rin and San versus Won. They glare at him rather defiantly, daring him to stop them from leaving. Won succumbs and lets them go. Rin watches his best friend carefully as he leaves in a huff.

Back home, San readies for her father’s wake. And of course, we have the most AWESOME scene ever. I think this scene may go down in my books as my fave OTP scene ever. San’s hand trembles as she attempts to write her father’s name on a banner and Rin stoops down next to her to hold her hand steady. She looks up at him, and he stares back tenderly at her, wiping her tears. JONG HYUNIE… if Yoona didn’t fall half in love with you with this point… she is made of steel, cast iron, granite and reinforced concrete.

HJH is just so, crazily, phenomenally, incredibly gentle – he is the epitome of the word – and I know I keep using the same adjective to describe him but I haven’t come across an actor who could be so gentle and manly at the same time. It was something I noted in We Got Married and continually raved and gushed about this side of him. It is such a innate part of him that it can’t be faked or orchestrated – which is why we all agree that HJH is Rin, and Rin is HJH.

San draws strength from Rin and manages to finish the banner, with the best man in Goryeo by her side. The scene was just so heart-rendering and beautiful… though Yoona and HJH didn’t say a single word. Their chemistry said it all. All the turbulent feelings and emotions were transmitted to the audience through their expressive eyes and gesstures.
Rin laters hangs the banner in its rightful place – he is so acting like a dutiful son-in-law and San is letting him. It is telling that even the household staff quietly accept his authority and contribution. Rin goes to San and assures her softly she can take her time to mourn for her father. San huddles in Rin’s embrace and he holds her tightly. GAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Rin leaves for the night and Bi Yeon anxiously frets whether he will return to San. Rin promises to return before dawn and instructs the maid to pack a getaway bag for her mistress. Ron goes back home and his father is horrified that Minister Eun has been killed. He notes that San wouldn’t be safe too, in this case. He also confirms that Minister Eun had his sights set on Rin as his future son-in-law and deemed him trustworthy enough to to look after San. Upon hearing this, Rin drops to his knees and informs his sire he intends to leave with San. He intends to give up everything to be with her, including his family and Won. Urgh. The pained expression in HJH’s eyes when Won is brought up…. OUCH.
The Eun household is prepping for the funeral procession and San sits silently in front of her father’s altar. Rin enters in a matching mourning outfit and reminds San that all her father wanted was for her to be safe. It is stupifying how handsome HJH is in this drama. Every outfit is made for him.

The funeral procession takes place and all the players scramble to snitch Rin, San or both persons. Meanwhile, San leads the procession stoically while Rin is protective and alert walking behind San. The way HJH walked here was totally bad-ass. Damn it.

How can a love story be so soul-destroying? There is nothing dramatic about RinSan – their love flies under the radar from start to finish yet its presence can be felt throughout, quietly adding a layer of sublime intensity to the main plot. It is not really about the second lead getting the girl for once – it was about who deserved to be loved and cherished by her, who loved her more, who she loved more. And I believe Song Ji Na went with that thought as she wrote the script. She set up the parameters of each character but it was up to Rin, Won and San to decide the matters of the heart.
RinSan is unique in dramaland because it isn’t affected or orchestrated – it was left to develop organically. After these episodes, it was almost impossible for San to switch sides to suddenly love Won instead of Rin. Rin was so emotionally attuned to San, which led her to be emotionally invested in him. Rin always exercised restraint and control when it came to her because of his position, but for San, she couldn’t. Her feelings for Rin simply became too strong for her to ignore and set aside, and Rin was eventually moved by her love for him. Rin loved San from the beginning and he was rather contented with that unrequited love until San started to display signs that she loved him in return. That was the pivotal point of their romance and it is something I appreciated in the sense that Rin never forced himself or his feelings on San. It was she who grew to appreciate he as a person, and he as a man.
AND… absolute madness… the beauty of Hong Jong Hyun in this drama… utter nonsense, really. Hogwash!
How could a man be so beautiful?

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