The Grand Prince Suyang attempts to build an alliance with his brother King Munjong’s trusted prime minister, Kim Jong-seo’s family. He proposes a marriage between his eldest daughter Se-ryung and Jong-seo’s son, Kim Seung-yoo. Learning of this, Se-ryung’s curiosity regarding her prospective husband is piqued. On hearing that Kim Seung-yoo is going to take over as her cousin Princess Gyeonghye’s’s new tutor, she persuades her to swap places with her so that she can catch a glimpse of her intended. Her first impression is not favorable and she is convinced that he is an arrogant womanizer. Later, as she attempts to master her current obsession with riding a horse, her horse runs away with her and Seung-yoo arrives in the nick of time to rescue her from being thrown off a precipice.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong-seo rejects Suyang’s proposal because he knows the Prince’s aspirations regarding the throne and allies himself firmly with King Munjong. King Munjong is impressed with Seung-yoo as a capable teacher and sees merit in having him on his side as a son-in-law, who is strong enough to protect the Crown Prince. He announces that Seung-yoo has been chosen as the Prince Consort. Seung-yoo, who still believes Se-ryung is the Princess, is glad of the decision because of his growing feelings for her. Beginning to understand her passion to escape the confines of her cloistered life, he offers to teach her how to ride. Their blissful time together is cut short, by an unexpected attack by bandits sent by Suyang to assassinate Seung-yoo as revenge against Kim Jong-seo. Seung-yoo is injured and as Se-ryung risks her life to save him, the Chief Magistrate of the Capital’s Police Bureau, Shin Myeon, chances to pass by and saves them. Shin Myeon also happens to be Seung-yoo’s best friend, along with Jung Jong, whose noble family has fallen on harsh straits. Meanwhile, Seung-yoo and Se-ryung meet outside the palace again. Even though Shin Myeon senses his friend’s growing admiration for Se-ryung, he too finds himself drawn to the brave and beautiful girl. His dilemma grows when Grand Prince Suyang offers Se-ryung’s hand in marriage to him in the hope of building an alliance with his politician father.
Se-ryung learns that Seung-yoo is chosen as the candidate for Prince Consort and is devastated. Her cousin, Princess Gyeonghye understands the political import of marrying Seung-yoo and orders her not to meet Seung-yoo again, suspecting that the two are falling in love. Meanwhile, Seung-yoo and Se-ryung meet outside the palace again. However, they are tailed by Suyang’s spies. Following their time together, Seung-yoo writes a letter to Se-ryung and sends it to the real Princess Gyeonghye understanding that they met despite her orders, is furious. At the next lesson, she locks up Se-ryung and takes her place, thereby revealing the deception to Seung-yoo. However she hides Se-ryung’s identity from him by calling her a palace maid who took her place.
The letter discarded by Princess Gyeonghye falls into the hands of Suyang. Using the letter, he demands that Seung-yoo be disqualified as a candidate for Prince Consort, insinuating that he dishonored the Princess by meeting her outside the palace. When interrogated, Seung-yoo says he did not meet the Princess outside but hides Se-ryung’s part in it to spare her danger. Learning of the danger to Seung-yoo’s life, Se-ryung begs Princess Gyeonghye to intercede for Seung-yoo. Despite her intercession, the penalty for Seung-yoo’s transgression is death. Suyang discovers Se-ryung when she secretly visits Seung-yoo in prison and is horrified to learn of their dalliance. Relieved that Seung-yoo does not know who she is, he agrees to save Seung-yoo if she never meets him again and never reveals her identity to him. Kim Jong-seo, desperate to save his son, approaches Suyang for help and agrees to pay the humiliating price of resigning his Vice Premiership. Seung-yoo’s sentence is commuted to temporary exile. In place of Seung-yoo, Jung Jong is chosen as Prince Consort, bringing a drastic change in his fortunes. He is smitten with the Princess from the beginning; however, she detests him. Se-ryung’s relationship with Gyeonghye is also strained, with the Princess blaming her cousin for all the misfortunes she has undergone.
King Munjong collapses on the day of his daughter’s wedding and his health takes a turn for the worse. Seung-yoo is summoned back by his brother, in order to assist their father in safeguarding the interests of the king. Seung-yoo runs into Se-ryung on his return but coldly severs all ties with her. However, Se-ryung’s concern for her cousin coupled with the fact that Jung Jong is Seung-yoo’s friend, force the two to meet again. Both find it hard to repress their feelings and finally Seung-yoo declares his love for her. However, at exactly the same time, King Munjong dies. Suyang and his cronies arrive at the palace, jubilant that they can now control the Crown Prince. However, their plans are thwarted by Kim Jong-seo, who was reinstated by the dead king to protect his son from Suyang’s machinations. Furious, Suyang vows to kill Kim Jong-seo.
As Se-ryung and Seung-yoo blissfully revel in their love, Suyang prepares to stage a coup against Kim Seung-yoo. Se-ryung stumbles on the plot too late and is foiled in her attempts to warn Seung-yoo and his family by her parents. Supported by Shin Myeon, Suyang ruthlessly murders his opponents, including Seung-yoo’s father and brother. Shin Myeon, believing that Seung-yoo is dead, stops the other men from beheading him claiming he wishes to do it himself. As he is about to bury him, Shin Myeon realizes that Seung-yoo is (barely) alive and attempts to kill him but fails. He turns around and leaves, giving Seung-yoo the chance to escape with his life.
Seung-yoo wakes up and walks into the town to find that his father has been beheaded. Reeling from his best friend’s betrayal, he tries to kill Suyang, only to be shocked to discover that Se-ryung is his daughter. Seung-yoo is sentenced to be killed. However, a last minute intercession by the Crown Prince saves his life and he is exiled to Kanghwa Island, along with the rest of Suyang’s enemies. When Se-ryung visits him in prison on the eve of his exile, his fury gets the better of him and he nearly chokes her to death. Se-ryung admits her identity and begs him to survive, even if it is just so that he can kill her.
En route Kanghwa Island, the ship is sunk to ensure that none of Suyang’s enemies survive. However, aided by a fellow prisoner, Jo Seok-joo, Seung-yoo manages to escape and return. Taking refuge at the gisaeng house Bing Og Gwan, owned by Seok-joo, Seung-yoo plots his revenge. Meanwhile, Se-ryung learns that Seung-yoo’s ship sank. Despite her mourning, her parents fix the date of her wedding with Shin Myeon.
In an attempt to bait Suyang, he kidnaps Se-ryung on the day of her wedding. He is mercilessly cruel to her, and reveals her father’s part in the sinking of the ship. Suyang shows up to claim his beloved daughter but he survives Seung-yoo’s arrow because of his armor. Meanwhile, Shin Myeon shoots an arrow at Seung-yoo, which is intercepted by Se-ryung who takes the brunt of it. Shaken by her sacrifice on his behalf, Seung-yoo is shell shocked and he escapes only because Seok-joo and his friend Noh-gyul save him by forcibly dragging him away from her prone body.
Se-ryung is taken home by her father and Shin Myeon is suspicious because she took the arrow on behalf of her kidnapper. However, the encounter with Seung-yoo and the kidnapping changes Se-ryung’s attitude towards her father and Shin Myeon, now that she is aware of the extent to which they will go for power. Seung-yoo reveals that he is alive to Jung Jong and he is relieved to have an ally in the fight against Suyang. Foiled in his attempt to kill Suyang, Seung-yoo starts assassinating those who were privy to his family’s murder. He leaves behind the alias of his deceased general father, Great Tiger, at each site to stir fear among his enemies. Se-ryung’s attempts to atone for her father’s atrocities gradually melts Seung-yoo’s anger, especially when he learns that she saved his sister-in-law and niece’s lives in the reprisal against the members of the rebel nobles’ families. Grand Prince Suyang forces King Danjong to abdicate, and becomes crowned King Sejo of Joseon. Se-ryung refuses to be crowned Princess and continues to bravely defy her father.
Seung-yoo gives up his vigilante assassinations at the behest of his old teacher, who urges him to join the larger cause of dethroning Sejo and restoring Danjong. Se-ryung inadvertently learns of the plot and is caught in a terrible dilemma. Saving her father comes at the cost of her love and vice versa. However, the rebellion which was led by Six Scholars of the Hall of Worthies, including Seung-yoo’s teacher fails, leading to their deaths and the exile of Princess Gyeonghye and her husband Jung Jong.
Seung-yoo manages to escape, but Shin Myeon discovers his identity. King Sejo learns that Seung-yoo is alive and that Se-ryung may have had knowledge of the plot. The rift between father and daughter grows. Se-ryung in a symbolic move, cuts her hair and renounces her ties to her father. When she takes refuge in a temple after leaving the palace, Seung-yoo takes her with him to Bing Og Gwan. However, when Shin Myeon and his guards nearly tear apart the place searching for her, she surrenders herself up to them. In his rage, King Sejo sentences her to become a slave of Shin Myeon. However, Seung-yoo and his friends rescue her in the nick of time. Shin Myeon refuses to give up his quest to possess Se-ryung and follows the pair to Princess Gyeonghye and Jung Jong’s place of exile. In the course of Jung Jong protecting the pair, Shin Myeon comes to learn that Jung Jong is plotting yet another rebellion. He is arrested and executed, leaving behind a devastated and pregnant Gyeonghye.
Meanwhile, in addition to their grief over the loss of Jung Jong, the lovers face more obstacles. The rebel leaders with whom Seung-yoo continues the plan for the attack refuse to accept her, because of her link to King Sejo. Seung-yoo and Se-ryung pledge their love as husband and wife and agree to separate till the battle is over. However, when Shin Myeon plans to use Se-ryung as bait to lure Seung-yoo, she escapes and warns her husband. In the battle that follows, Shin Myeon is killed and Seung-yoo’s side wins. Seung-yoo moves forward with his plan to assassinate the king and nearly succeeds, but for a momentary distraction caused by learning of Se-ryung’s pregnancy. Seung-yoo is sent to jail, and Se-ryung goes to see him, wanting her baby to at least know who his or her father is. Seung-yoo nearly dies and Se-ryung accepts her fate. However, Se-ryung’s mother orchestrates their escape.
Years later Seung-yoo has become blind after his brush with death. However, both of them now have a lovely daughter and are happy, even if they are poor. In the backdrop of their bliss, we see an aged King Sejo who has let go of his bitterness and who watches his daughter’s happiness in secret.
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