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Comment: Akatsuki no Yona 154 — Concerns

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Hahahaha Shin-ah still isn't wearing his mask, my soul is saved :')

[WARNING!] Spoilers for Akatsuki no Yona 154 (duh!)


Quick Summary

Zeno suggests they go back to Kuuto so that the dragons may heal faster, because Hiryuu's mausoleum is where the Dragon Gods' divine protection is strongest. Yona thinks back to the time when her father used to take her with him to the mausoleum, and remembers she once took Su-Won there with him. However Il got angry at Su-Won and told him this wasn't a place he could set foot in, which made Yona very sad, but Su-Won made no complaints and never stepped into the mausoleum again. Yona wonders now why her father was so opposed to Su-Won being there.
Back at Kuuto, the information brokers tell Ogi that people are whispering about Princess Yona and her involvement in the bloodless battle with Xing. Rumour has it that she "descended" to Xing with the Four Dragons of legend, and people are comparing her to King Hiryuu. But Ogi is unmotivated and doesn't pay attention to him, until a visitor knocks on their door. Ogi's spirits are raised momentarily, but he soon meets with disappointment when he realises the visitor is Lili. Lili sees Yona's hairpin decorating Ogi's hair and they both realise that Yona is a mutual acquaintance. When Lili asks Ogi if Su-Won knows that he helped Yona, Ogi not only tells her that he does, but also explains that Su-Won / Won probably won't be coming back here. Ogi had been keeping in contact with him under the pretence that he didn't know who Su-Won was, but the cat is out of the bag now. Furthermore he helped Princess Yona, who si considered a threat to the crown. It wouldn't be strange if they executed him for this, and Ogi suspects Su-Won is cutting ties to protect him.
Lili sees how discouraged Ogi seems and decides to strike a deal with him: she'll buy the hairpin off him at a discounted price, and in return she'll give him updates on how Su-Won is doing. Ogi agrees and thanks her for this, and Lili thinks to herself that even though Su-Won has done horrible things in the name of the nation there are still people out there who care deeply about him.
Back at the castle, Lili spots Su-Won going into Hiryuu's mausoleum. She follows him and startles him. She asks him if he's come to the mausoleum to pray, and Su-Won says that's not it. He tells her he wasn't allowed to come here and was curious as to what it was like, but now that he's here he doesn't see what's so special about it.
Moving on to Saika Castle; Tae-Jun is in deep trouble for setting off that flare. Kyo-Ga is fuming at him, saying that they can't aford to make any more blunders, especially now that the other tribes' trus in the Fire Tribe has hit rock-bottom because of their father's rebellion Kyo-Ga demands to know where Tae-Jun saw Kai's army and what direction they're coming from, and Tae-Jun keeps trying to deflect the subject and come up with a good excuse. Just as the situation seems hopeless, a soldier runs in with an urgent report: a town from the far north says Kai's troops have crossed the border and are invading Fire Tribe territory.

Comment

Kyo-Ga's face when he hears Kai is actually invading
"You mean he wasn't fucking around?"

Phew... This chapter jumped around Kouka so much even I'm tired. The dreaded P.O.V. change we all knew was coming is here, alas, to cockblock our romance and take us on a trip from the Xing border, to the streets of Kuuto, to the inside of Hiryuu Palace, and lastly all the way to Saika Castle... what a ride.
There's a shit ton of stuff I want to talk about, so I apologise beforehand for the essay I'm about to barf onto my keyboard. (seriously, how do any of you put up with me?)
First of all, let's not dawdle around and strike the heart of the chapter: the issue of Su-Won and Hiryuu's mausoleum. I am honestly shook by the fact that Kusanagi dropped some key clues in this chapter — I was not prepared for this attack. There's a tinge of disdain —contempt, if you will— in Su-Won's glare and in his words (my translation was "how disappointing," but the literal translation is "is this all it is?"), yes, but I also sense an underlying resentment somewhere in there. To whom or what, though? The way I see it, this flashback confirms something I've been suspecting since the bean-jam buns malarkey in the novel: chances are Il was openly hostile towards Su-Won, and his rejection isn't limited to this moment in the mausoleum.
Furthermore, the way the scene is framed suggests that this is Su-Won's first ever visit to Hiryuu's mausoleum. Clearly if it's taken him this long to check it out it wasn't on the forefront of his mind, but his reaction shows that he had some expectations of it. Seeing as this takes place almost immediately after he returns to Hiryuu Palace, after witnessing Yona's... shall we say, Hiryuuness? for the first time, I feel that there's meaning in the timing of his visit. What is he feeling in this moment, stepping into a place he was once forbidden from entering; a place that, not being a pious man, he had no reason to care for? What is it that has suddenly compelled him to set foot in it? 
What puzzles me the most, though, is the idea that Il wouldn't let Su-Won in. Like, WHY??????? Why specifically Su-Won???? What makes Su-Won so dangerous??? I mean come on, look at him!! He's a baby peanut with the threat level of a goldfish!!!!!!!!!!!!! He can't be any older than eleven in this time frame!!!!!!! Sure, nine-year-old Su-Won was already displaying amazing leadership skills and was influential enough to get people like Ogi to do his bidding, but seriously Il, why are you being such a dick?? 

(Also, totally off-topic, but can we appreciate how heart-wrenching it is that Ogi genuinely cares about Su-Won's well being? who's up for an Ogi as foster-father figure headcanon??)

However truth be told, the most exciting mausoleum-moment for me was Lili scaring the shit out of Su-Won hahaha what dorks Yona questioning, for the fist time, the why behind Il's attitude towards Su-Won. Though she's come to understand Su-Won is the king Kouka needs and has witnessed first hand how her father's pacifist attitude has harmed the kingdom, I'm pretty sure this is the first time she's considering his relationship with Su-Won. I feel this could lead to some major plot reveals, my spidey-senses are tingling.
Furthermore, with Yona&co. heading in the general direction of Kuuto and news of the the Kai Empire's invasion arriving, it's easy to see how Yona and Su-Won's paths could cross again. And if the Kai Empire's troops start pillaging Fire Tribe lands it's unlikely that Yona (or Yun, for that matter of fact) will sit down and quietly observe the situation. The question right now seems to be what the Kai Empire is here to do and who is commanding these troops. Is it Li Hazara, as Su-Won suspected in 138? If they're crossing through the Fire Tribe then this means we're definitely talking about Northern Kai, a land divided by internal conflicts where noble families have each taken their piece of the cake. Li Hazara knows that Su-Won isn't to be taken lightly, so it's unlikely that he's come here with some half-arsed army of drunken soldiers — could he have allied himself with other Northern Kai nobles? Either way, seeing as Su-Won was expecting Li Hazara to strike back I doubt we'll see him run around like a headless chicken at the news.

Setting the matter of Kai's invasion temporarily aside, it would seem Kusanagi has decided to put a pin in the issue of Yona's confession (cockblocked by a P.O.V. change, how sad is that?), and as I had suggested in my 152 comment we might be walking out of the onion of misunderstanding without any romance... there are still layers left to peal. I suspect a good portion of the fandom is currently groaning and getting ready to set their computers on fire, but I consider it a small mercy that Kusanagi gave us even a few chapters of post-confession Hak&Yona's adorkable interactions before focusing on what could easily be the last arc of the series. And with this, I'm back to thinking the romance ship might not sail until the final stages of the manga... and well, I'm okay with that.

Okay, alright, I just dropped three bombs in that last paragraph that deserve some explanation, please put those knifes and torches away.
If you follow my tumblr you'll know the SS YonAk has been the hot topic of debate ever since 151 rolled on and almost pushed us off the edge of the Earth, and while I'm as excited as any other at the prospect of the main ship in the series FINALLY SETTING SAIL I don't think stalling the departure is a bad thing. (I know, I know. I'm digging my own grave here, aren't I? Should I say some final words?) Some of you might recall that after the 151 fiasco I highlighted on tumblr that part of my reluctance to see the romance setting sail was rooted in my fear of the story deviating from it's central themes — i.e. Yona's journey and growth. It's not that the story will be rendered pointless should the romance come to fruition... it's that there is so much besides the romance that needs tackling that letting the ship run wild could potentially distract us from other more important matters. AkaYona is the kind of series where I'm content with letting the romance simmer, because it was never meant out be just about pairing off the main characters.
However it's not that I don't understand the feeling of frustration, because really... sometimes I think both Yona and Hak need a liiiiiiittle push in the back... from a bullet train :))))) (fucking kiss already goddamn it.) Truthfully speaking I'm fine with getting this party started as long as it doesn't retract from my badass princess time. And who knows, Yona might still confess on their way to Kuuto? Not all hope is lost, so don't throw the towel in just yet.
Regardless of whether the winds of romance are just around the bend or postponed until further down the line... I don't think we'll have to wait too long, seeing as it looks like time's a ticking bomb for AkaYona now. Which neatly brings me to the first alarming statement I dropped: the possible conclusion of the series.

With the Xing arc coming to a closure, it became clear that by process of elimination the only baddie left to tackle that could pose a threat worthy of mention is the Kai Empire. AkaYona has followed a smooth and escalating pattern of danger, where in Yona's quest to help her kingdom the stakes have progressively been raised from one mission to the next: We've gone from saving a boy from his village, to bringing down the tyrant governor of a port-town, to uprooting the narcotic drug traffickers messing with an entire tribe, to defending Kouka's national border in a small-scale battle, and finally outright saving an entire kingdom from waging a war that meant self-destruction. Following this pattern it's evident that for the story to remain interesting whatever Kusanagi pitches at us next has to logically be bigger than the stakes at Xing, and there is no larger threat than the Kai Empire.
Unless Kusanagi pulls something else out of thin air, this means that Kai, in all likelihood, is the Final Boss of the series. Seeing as they've been meddling with Kouka since the very start —the human trafficking, the Fire Tribe rebellion, and the nadai trafficking— it feels most appropriate to make them the ultimate danger Kouka must face. Even Hak pointed out during the Xing arc that with both Sei and Xing under his control Su-Won would finally posses the military strength to fight the Kai Empire — you don't need Sherlock Holmes's brainpower to see that Kusanagi has been building up Kai as a major threat. There's little reason not to think Kai will be the catalyst that sets the The End™ in motion. So if this isn't The End™, then it's at least a prelude to it.

But there's another reason why I'd like to believe that we're heading towards a conclusion, and it's... milking.


I think I'm not alone when I say that I feel that AkaYona has been treading dangerous territory for the past couple of years. As it stands, the story has reached a point where it's alarmingly close to feeling like it's being milked-dry for its popularity. Though I personally don't feel that any of the recent arcs are expendable, now that Kusanagi has addressed the core overarching story points —the issue of Il & Su-Won, and Yona's & Hak's lingering feelings on the betrayal— the directions in which Kusanagi can drive the story, speaking in terms of narrative construction, are very limited.
This is why I'm partially relieved that Tae-Jun's act of defiance is possibly going to go without severe punishment now that Kai is actually invading — it eliminates the possibility of a Tae-Jun rescue arc. Now, as much as that would've been interesting and engaging in its own way, I can't help but think that this would have fallen into the milking category.
However it's not like I'm expecting the issue to be swept under the rug. Both Su-Won and Kye-Sook know that Tae-Jun lit the flare for Yona to raise a false alarm that would delay Kouka's troops, even if Yona never explicitly confirmed their suspicions. They're not stupid, and Kye-Sook is especially wary of Yona's growing sphere of influence. The issue is that none of the other tribe leaders (Kyo-Ga included) know that Tae-Jun lit the flare as a distraction, and on the surface it now looks like he actually did it to alert of an incoming invasion. It's unlikely he'll be formally questioned and punished, especially because fighting Kai's troops is top priority and Su-Won can't afford to lose the military support of the Fire tribe, but I sure as hell don't want Tae-Jun's betrayal to go unaddressed — I don't care whether it's Kye-Sook or Su-Won, but I want someone to react to it and show us some consequence to his actions.

That's it from me, peeps. We're eeeeever so close to unveiling more of the truth! I feel like a kid on their first trip to Disneyland; if you raise my level of excitement any higher I might pee myself (I said that). I know the YonAk fanservice has become the fandoms breath and raison d'êtere in the last three chapters, but oh boy, this is the kind of stuff that really shakes me up!! See you lovelies for the next chapter on the 20th of February!

Make sure to read the About Kira Kira and F.A.Qs pages before commenting so that your comments may follow the rules of the blog!

Posted on: 05/02/2018

PS. Kija fanboying over Hiryuu talk, bless his little cotton socks :')



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13 comments:

  1. Thanks, Laura!

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  2. Thank you so much for the translation and for your comment! :D

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  3. I am sooooooo interested in whatever went down with Suwon and Il. Up until now, I never really got much of an indication that Il had a problem with Suwon other than not wanting him to marry Yona. But this. THIS suggests hostility from Il... was it because he considered Suwon an outsider who shouldn't have been in that shrine? Was it because he knew Suwon had absorbed his father's ideas about religion? Would he have acted the same if, for example, Hak had been the one down there with Yona? There's something so crazy about Il breaking that perpetually smiley mask... not even when Taejun was swinging a weapon at his daughter and her friend did he drop the facade, but when tinier Yona brings a tiny Suwon into the shrine he loses it? It blows my mind. Whatever the case, it seems like Lili is going to be our vessel for finding out.... I'm excited!!

    As for Hakyona... I'm less thrilled. Their interactions are adorable and all but I still fail to see why hakyona finally tying the knot and becoming a real couple would end up taking center stage. I mean, they could just confess, kiss and then things could go on like normal. They already flirt like every 2 seconds anyways, it's just that now it'd be sprinkled with the occasional peck on the mouth or hands held. I really don't see what would need to drastically change with their couplehood. If they don't end up getting together soon... well, I'm inclined to say that Hak's love confession should have waited. Because right now, Yona's just sitting on her confession--with no fear of rejection holding her back--for no reason at all. It doesn't really make any sense to me, and feels like a tease to fans (though I'm sure that wasn't the intention). I just think that if Hak was going to confess when Yona's already well-aware that she likes him too, that should have been the commitment to them getting together very soon. It's coming across to me as sloppy writing if Kusanagi doesn't either a) Have Yona confess back or b) give a reason why she isn't; because right now they're apart arbitrarily and I kinda wish it wouldn't have gotten this far if we were going to just stop 3/4s of the way anyways.

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    1. Hi other Anon. Thanks for that paragraph about HakYona. I also don't see why it would have to take center change if they got together now. I mean they are practically a couple already anyways, nothing drastic would change with Yona confessing back. And it's honestly just maddening that we are 3/4 of the way there and then it just being held off for no apparent reason.

      I would understand if Yona didn't love him back, but she does. So I really do not get why she is staying silent. I'd also rather we didn't get this far at all if it just ends up being held back literally in the last second, for god knows how long now. I mean, at this point, Yona might not even find time to say something.

      Honestly though, I just hope that if it continues to be held off, then we at least get a reasonable explanation on Yona's silence, because this way it does come off as bad writing. (Although personally idk what that explanation could be, nothing seems to make sense.)

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  4. It is true that the reaction of the king Il is strange, his face even scared me. SooWon being the son of Yu-hon was he considered impure by King Il to enter the sacred place? Or was the King's attitude to protect SooWon from the anger of the gods of the sacrilege that Soowon would commit on entering because of his impurity? Zeno says that Yu-Hon could not do anything to the mausoleum, but without more precision. In the chapter, SooWon has nothing coming in, but when going out will he get to spit blood or something like that? The coming bow looks interesting, I can not wait.

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  5. Hi! First off, I love this page and your discussion about the chapter. Reading it is as much a pleasure as reading the chapter itself, so I decided Im going to participate in some of the conversation this time too. So hello :)
    There’s a lot I could say about the whole Il and Su-won thing so I won’t get into all of it now, but I’ve always felt in my gut that there was a LOT behind both characters actions and attitudes that we don’t know about yet. Especially Su-won’s (although after this chapter I started thinking about Il a lot too, why did Il’s father chose him instead of Yuhon anway? We’ve been given several possible reasons but haven’t been told outright). There’s a lot left unexplained. This chapter seems the beginning of getting answers because the questions are finally being acknowledged by the characters themselves.
    Personally, I feel like the story is a ways out from completion, but I agree that Kai may be part of this “darkness that falls on Earth” spoken of in Ik-soo’s prophesy that will lead to a major change in the story line. Like the beginning of another act in a play. The reasons I don’t think it’s near the end is because we still have no clue about the sword and the shield, but also because in the very first chapter, the opening scene depicts Yona in the moutains with a sword she does not yet have, and long hair. To me this indicates that there’s more likely to be a time skip than the completion of the series. The way she holds herself and the sword with more ease and confidence that she’s shown even up to this point, as well as the serious look on her face makes me think think that we’re in for even more character development. We also don’t know what is really behind Su-won’s actions yet. I just think that there’s too much to cover in a single arc. Of course, I could just be projecting my own desires onto the series (I really don’t want it to end yet hahaha). Also, so much has happened that I think it’s very easy to forget that not much time has passed in the story itself. It hasn’t even been a single year yet. Honestly, I’m not sure it’s been more than 6ish months. In this sense, sometimes I feel like the story and character development goes a bit too fast. I feel it more when I reread the series than when I experience it chapter by chapter. I love the story anyway though.
    Again, great review. I enjoy feeling the story along with other readers. Looking forward to the 20th!
    ~SMT

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  6. O boy! The main thing I get from this chapter is that we are getting to the real meat of the whole series, why Ill didn't want Soo Won to get into the tomb? What kind of feeling is Soo Won having about such place? (probably he believes that Ill rise to power and the death of his father was somewhat related with religious fanaticism on Ill's part? That would help explain why he disregards the Gods in a deeply religious society, which if he was not a great military leader would probably affect the perception of his in the people) I share your opinion that Akayona is not a romance manga, it is very eclectic it has a lot of physiological development for the characters, action, adventure, drama, social and political trama and a bit of romance, which at the end is driven by the rest (Hak admiration of Yona for her action and not just as the damsel in distress) well, I don't know how the new adventure will fall on us but I really appreciate your translation they capture a lot of beauty of the original text and I thank you deeply for that.

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  7. Thank you for your awesome translations and your summaries!
    I was thinking back to the beginning of the series when Yona was being chased by a hidden stranger & she ran into Soo-won, I think it was Kye-Sook. I was also thinking that since Yu-Hon got rid of all the priests & wanted to destroy King Hiryuu's tomb that he was angry about Yona being born a red head. I also suspect that this is why Yona's Grandfather choose King Il as his successor, especially after this last chapter when Lili was thinking about how important the dragon religion was to the water tribe. I think it was one of those passed down with the crown type of secrets of just how important having red hair is, as it is meant to be a visible cue of King Hiryuu's reincarnation, I mean look how Kija's village reacted when they saw her hair.
    I don't remember it being known why Yona's mother died, but part of me suspects this was why Il was so against weapons, war, & often giving up the kingdom's land. Although it kind of seems contradictory of not wanting Yona to handle weapons & yet knowing she is the crimson dragon's reincarnation...idk, just seems like there is more history there than what has been revealed or probably ever will be.
    Based off what Zeno has been saying about how important the castle is & the limited area as to where the dragon warriors are their best might have something to do with Kai Empire being such a huge threat to the kingdom. I also think this is why Zeno wants to be back in Kuuto. I think you're right about a major battle coming & the series ending. Zeno knows far more than he lets on, but guess that comes with being around for 2000 years.
    While it is depressing to think that this is the end coming, I look forward to reading it! I think we're going to have to wait on our favorite ship to sail, but I'll just have to take comfort in Hak's tear-inducing confession. It was just so adorable watching Yun & the dragon warriors crying & hugging!

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  8. Thank you so much for posting these as always ^^ I enjoy reading your thoughts as well as appreciate the translations you post from the goodness of your heart :) I agree with the majority of your points, particularly with the fact that we're reaching the end of the AoY series. Kusanagi is not really the type of manga author to draw out the plot without specific reason. She never has filler chapters really, and if she does they're placed in between major arc happenings and don't take up more than one chapter really. She sticks to the plot she has written and doesn't use minor characters to develop the major ones and then toss them aside. I especially loved how in this chapter she went back to Tae Jun because what he did was most certainly not something that can just be set aside easily. However, I'm very curious to see how this war with Kai will turn out. Definitely Kai is the ultimate enemy nation for Kouka, that much has been stated since the beginning, so I'm looking forward to seeing how Kusanagi will write this new Kai War arc. If you think about it this is the 3rd arc with the war against Kai, so as they say third time's the charm ^^ I am slightly anticipating the combining of minds of Yona and Soo Won when it comes to Kai's ultimate defeat, as we have seen in previous arcs. Usually Soo Won fixes things on the surface and Yona does things behind the scenes.

    One thing that you forgot to mention and I think is kinda important for the remaining series is the fact that more and more people now know Yona is alive. That moment with Ogi and his buddy there we know that more and more people are figuring out that she's alive, especially when she publicly appeared in front of so many people. And I understand this was a couple chapters back but when Kye Sook told one of the soldiers to go investigate Yona and Co., it leads me to suspect that they're perhaps being followed and that may play a vital role later on as the war against Kai develops. I mean I could just be reaching there though, but I'm still uneasy with Kye Sook's interest in the four dragons. This holds particularly true since Kusanagi does not randomly insert dialogue without purpose.

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  9. GUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRLLLLLLLLLLL I just stumbled upon your blog and I'm reading all your Akatsuki no Yona posts like a mad person. I'm so happy to find another person who suffer the same as me (Son Hak is the sole reason of my hormonal turmoils) and I think it's also safe to assume that we're stepping into the finale arc of Akatsuki no Yona (which I welcome very much with open arms). I really wish Yona can find (or make) some moments for her to properly answer Hak's confession, though. Because she clearly wants to tell it across.. and I hope next time Hak won't be such an idiot to stop it from happening.

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    1. WOOP, welcome to my blog! Glad you like my content :D

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  10. While you may be right about AnY potentially reaching its conclusion soon, I think there are still a few questions that need to be answered (for me, at least).

    (This is quite a long post so TL;DR for anyone who wants to know the gist of it: Kye-Sook is mighty suspicious. I don’t trust his motivations and agenda one bit. Think he has a greater stake in erasing Yona’s influence than Kusanagi-sensei lets on.)

    A significant question being that of Kye-Sook's origin. I mean, who IS that guy?? There is hardly much information on him, apart from him being Soo Won's advisor. He just pops out of the woodwork in Chapter 1, is portrayed to be in on the plot to kill King Il, and becomes Soo Won's advisor when he ascends the throne. I've tried to re-read the entire series in order to understand his motivations, but it hasn't been mentioned anywhere. Unless I'm missing a really obvious chapter/arc (please let me know if that's the case).

    Also, I don't understand the irrational vehemence he shows wherever Yona's concerned. This particular behaviour was amply displayed during the Xing arc, be it when Princess Tao demanded of Soo Won that Yona be a part of the negotiations, or when Yona and Algira (who were on their way to meet Soo Won to request him for bilateral talks) were ambushed by the Sky Tribe soldiers and the Kye-Sook ordered the soldiers to kill them, after declaring them to be Xing spies (although it’s a different matter that Lili spoiled that plan of his by calling out Kye-Sook’s bluff and securing Yona’s safety by telling the Water Tribe army about Yona’s efforts for the Water Tribe, thereby earning their gratitude). This kind of behaviour is highly suspicious, especially as even Soo Won does not show any interest in persecuting them the way Kye-Sook wants to.

    This can't possibly be a coincidence. Kye-Sook has shown his desperation to dispose of Yona countless number of times. While Joo Doh wanted to keep them far away, he NEVER wanted to kill Yona and Hak. However, Kye-Sook wants them out of the picture altogether, in the most permanent way possible. This shows that he considers Yona to be a huge threat to whatever agenda he has. He’s certainly NOT doing this for the sake of maintaing Soo Won’s legitimacy as King; he must have some stakes in keeping Soo Won on the throne and in eliminating Yona and whatever influence she might have in the kingdom’s affairs. Hopefully, Kusanagi-sensei will shed some illuminating light on this aspect in future chapters and thrash out his character a little more.

    Thanks to anyone who put up with my long rant! (^_^)/

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  11. I still think IL blamed his brother for the Queen's death and, by extension, Suu-won

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