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Seo In Seon Woo is the former Left Minister (좌찬성, Jwachanseong) of Ga Guk during King Jin Won's reign. As the mentor of Crown Prince Yi Jeok and Yi Hwi, Seon Woo is loyal to King Jin Hyul and Queen Ahn Young. During the Jeogwa Revolution orchestrated by Yoon Yeon Lee following Jin Hyul's death, Seon Woo is instrumental in the escape of the two princes from the palace to Ju Wah Ae Rim as per his instructions to them. Subsequently, he devised a plan that allowed for the two princes to switch personas — Hwi as the crown prince and Jeok as his subordinate — that led to the foundation of Deung Ha Bul Myung, a rebel army aimed towards the reclamation of the throne.
Ten years later, he remains a minister in the king's government erstwhile led by King Jin Won, acting mostly as a spy for the members of the rebel army by supplying them with information vital to their main objective. After a successful rebellion that the rebel army initiated at the palace, Seon Woo is reinstated as a minister of King Jin Jeok.
Seon Woo is the son of a minister of Ga Guk and the betrothed of Sa Baek Hwa. Twenty-one years ago, he pleaded his father to help Baek Hwa and her family following the death of Minister Sa Hwa Hyeon under false charges. His father disapproved of this, advising him to forget Baek Hwa before becoming a threat to their family. Despite this, while Baek Hwa and her brother were imprisoned on the streets, he managed to find them to help them. As soon as Baek Hwa spotted him, she removed her engagement ring in order to not involve and associate him with themselves, ending their betrothal.
Three years later, Seon Woo went to Yu Hyang Ru with a companion, who advised him to forget his former beloved, Baek Hwa. After all those years, he still could not forget her and merely ignores his companion's remark. As he was about to leave, Seon Woo met Wol Young Hwa, Baek Hwa's gisaeng name, much to their unexpected shock and happiness. He introduced himself once again to her, and she did likewise, rekindling their relationship anew.
At some point in his life, Seon Woo was appointed as a minister of Ga Guk during the reign of King Jin Hyul. Sometime during his reign, Queen Ahn Young became pregnant with twins. However, the king did not wish for two princes to subsequently fight over the throne similar to how he ascended to the throne through a bloody rivalry with his twin brother.
As the queen gave birth to twin princes, the king and Minister Seon Woo were advised by a palace servant that one of the infants was barely breathing. The king immediately grasped the situation and ordered not to have the royal physician attend to the child, much to Seon Woo's surprise. In the end, Minister Yi Ha took the child away with the queen's discretion and without the king's knowledge.
Eight years later, Seon Woo met with Minister Ha at the latter's residence, meeting for the first time Yi Hwi, the second-born prince believed to have died at childbirth. Minister Ha then asked his foster son to prepare his belongings as they shall go to the Jin Hee Palace.
Upon introducing Hwi to Crown Prince Jeok, the latter instantly ordered his ministers to send the boy back home, as he did not want to endanger the child's life and because of his confidence in Bi Yeong Ship Mu's protection for him. Instead of doing so, Seon Woo recommended the crown prince to simply befriend the boy.
At the height of Yoon Yeon Lee's coup d'état, Minister Seon Woo woke Hwi and tells him to be quiet. He then escorts the confused child away from the palace, ordering him and Jeok to exit the Phoenix Doors and continue running westward to a red tile-roofed house.
After Jin Won's coronation was set, the other ministers protested to make the child as the king. However, Seon Woo was the first to side with Yeon Lee, earning her favor from then on. Nonetheless, Seon Woo realized the danger that was still looming over Jeok, especially after royal guards stormed their residence looking for the crown prince. Young Hwa suggested that a plan must be concocted to get him out of trouble as soon as possible. Jeok himself thought of fleeing to Nam Hyeon, a neighboring country of Ga Guk, but the minister had something else in mind. Initially reluctant, he proposed having Hwi act as Jeok's decoy, but the latter rejected this idea. However, Hwi volunteered himself to become the crown prince's decoy until Jeok would reclaim the throne.
Hwi's resolve further increased after knowing that his parents were assassinated by Yeon Lee's men, realizing that he and the crown prince were in similar circumstances. As a result, the plan was set: with Hwi taking the title of Crown Prince Jin Yeon, Gil Mu Jin and Baek Ho were to serve him with loyalty, Young Hwa and Seol Hwa were to keep the secret within themselves, and Jeok would serve Hwi as his liege until they could reclaim the throne of Ga Guk. As a final step, Seon Woo burned a mark on Hwi's nape, similar to Jeok's birthmark, to remove any trace that he was not the crown prince. From then on, Hwi struggled to treat Jeok as someone inferior to him, with Seon Woo strictly telling him to commit to his decision to act as the crown prince.
Seon Woo was a loyal minister of King Jin Hyul and Queen Ahn Young, whose sons he taught with utmost sincerity and sense of responsibility. He is a well-trusted mentor until the boys' young adulthood, taking this duty seriously that he somehow became intimidating and serious at times when Jeok and Hwi slacked off during their lessons and lectures. He was also the one who pushed Hwi to become committed to his chosen path of becoming the crown prince, despite the minister's initial reluctance to use the child as a sacrificial bait. In general, he greatly prioritizes their own welfare and safety even over his own life. Because of his loyalty, he became vital in the survival of then Crown Prince Jeok and Prince Hwi from the forces of Yeon Lee during and after the Jeogwa Revolution.
He is also apparently foresighted and shrewd, having thought of gaining the favor of Yeon Lee during her regency as a way not to make him suspicious and to have the trust of their enemy. Later on, as a minister of King Jin Won, he was described as one of the most loyal, honest, and dignified of all the royal advisors. He exuded this personality to the point that he is able to keep people out of suspicions to point to him, including Ja Gyeom and most likely the Queen Mother herself. As a result, he became instrumental to the rebel army by divulging important and relevant intel to the group about the happenings within the palace.
Upon his capture as a spy within the royal court, Seon Woo was tortured by having his fingernails and toenails ripped out during his interrogation on Crown Prince Jin Yeon's whereabouts. During the torture, Seon Woo exhibited a firm loyalty towards Jin Yeon, avoiding to divulge such information and denying his affiliation with him even if his neck were to be ripped off. He also has quite a strong, unyielding will, as he did not scream even once during his harsh torture.
Compact Heist Arc
Ten years after the coup one night, he is welcomed by Seol Hwa to Yu Hyang Ru during a rendezvous with some members of Deung Ha Bul Myung. He shows a map of the Chief State Councilor's residence where the compact was transferred from Yoon Yeon Lee's quarters. He adds that the chief state councilor has added more guards, making it more obvious that it is indeed in the place. He tells them that though the chief state councilor's residence is much easier to infiltrate than the palace itself, it will be difficult in terms of hiding themselves and the compact's exact location. However, he then agrees that the compact must be stolen.
With everyone else out, he tells Young Hwa that Hwi and Jeok have both become stubborn. He ironically thanks her for taking care of them despite risking their lives ten years ago. Their discussion is then interrupted by Seol Hwa where there is a ruckus outside. He tries to help but Young Hwa tells rejects his offer, saying that they can fix the problem by themselves.
Revolt Procurement Arc
Seon Woo and Young Hwa are strolling while talking about how many gisaeng are using Nabi's name after she was taken off the gisaeng registers. She then leaves him to have a discussion with the others. He tells them that the Crimson Moon was behind some farmers' uprising who were equipped with expensive weapons. After the chat, the Left Minister strolls with Jeok and Baek Ho who reports to them that the person constantly chasing Nabi is not an ordinary person and thinks that he might be the Duke's son. Jeok then asks the Left Minister if he can get a picture of the king.
Rebel Army Suppression: Setting in Motion
Per Jeok's request, Seon Woo tries to sneak into the Chamber of Eternal Life, where portraits of Ga Guk's kings are enshrined as tradition to prevent the incumbent king's face to be seen by the public and potential enemies. Seeing the tight security around the area, he thinks how it might be beneficial instead to merely commission a professional artist paint Jin Won's face. At that moment, he senses a presence tailing him, but fails to see the person.
That same day, Jin Won attends the assembly punctually, much to Seon Woo's and the other ministers' surprise. After they relayed all the agenda needed to be discussed, Jin Won decrees the final item, which is the mobilization of the Royal Army to suppress the royal army once and for all. Before sundown, he immediately heads to Yu Hyang Ru to inform the rebels of the upcoming attack by the Royal Army. Unbeknownst to him, a royal guard is tailing him who finds him suspicious.
Seon Woo informs Jeok and Young Hwa about the Royal Army's attack within a week. Jeok reports that preparations have been completed, but a cannon is yet to be procured to enter the palace gates. He adds that Hwi shall acquire funds within two to three days, but he also remarks that each day that passes must not be wasted. Young Hwa suggests selling Yu Hyang Ru to procure the cannon in advance, as the gisaeng house would cost roughly a hundred thousand nyang. Seon Woo thinks it might work, though he worries for Young Hwa about selling the place. She merely asks them to win the battle in order to repay her threefold.
Rebel Army Suppression: Execution
In the wake of the Royal Army's simultaneous attacks on Bi Hwa Rim and Yu Hyang Ru, Ja Gyeom corners Seon Woo and renders him incapacitated. He reveals to the left minister that he has deliberately fed him with wrong information regarding the Royal Army's attack.
Ever since Ja Gyeom began to suspect Seon Woo as a spy within the king's ministers, he started becoming cautious of him, sending out spies and feeding him wrong information for the spy to inaccurately tell the rebel army. Amidst Seon Woo's apparent speechlessness, Ja Gyeom finally asks him where Crown Prince Jin Yeon is.
Wishing to know whether Nabi had been caught in the attacks or, worse, killed in the chaos, Jin Won personally visits the prison. He does not find Nabi, but instead finds the tortured Seon Woo, whose nails and toenails were ripped out. After commending the ex-left minister's firm loyalty to Jin Yeon during his interrogation, the king then asks him where Nabi is.
Surprised, Seon Woo finally realizes that the man who had always been pursuing Nabi is the king himself. He merely chuckles at the king's question and answers that he does not know where the "insignificant girl" had been. Quite mockingly, he gives out two possibilities: either she was living with her partner far away during the attacks or she had been included in the slaughter.
Bridal Selection Arc
As per the king's order, Seon Woo is taken from captivity in the prison and moved elsewhere. His cohorts protest helplessly at the guards, but he assures them that he can still endure. The guard then moves him, leaving him to wonder whether he is to finally meet his end.
Minister Retrieval Arc
During a midnight mission, the Crimson Moon, Mu Jin, and Baek Ho search for Seon Woo throughout the palace, but to no avail. Baek Ho remarks how they had hidden him without a trace, which gives the Crimson Moon an idea that he may be hidden in the heart of the palace where he could be guarded with utmost safety and secrecy.
The Crimson Moon heads to the king's chambers with relative ease and finally locates Seon Woo. However, King Jin Won himself and Bi Yeong Pal Mu guards corner the masked rebel. Baek Ho and Mu Jin later arrive as backup and thwart the handful of soldiers. As Heuk Rang is ordered to take them on, Mu Jin releases a smoke bomb, allowing them to escape in an underground secret passage. Baek Ho then carries Seon Woo as they escape from the pursuing guards. Throughout the escape, Seon Woo is carried by Baek Ho while they swim through the canal and escape the tunnel that flushed out the pursuing soldiers.
Sometime during the postponement of the bridal selection, Seon Woo has been tirelessly persuading those who have turned against Jin Won in hopes of preventing the court from taking action before their proposed uprising. Due to the king's tyranny, Seon Woo is able to persuade quite a few to aid in their cause.
Crimson Moon Rebellion
In the aftermath of the rebel army's revolt in the palace, Jeok ascends to the throne as King Jin Jeok, the 14th King of Ga Guk. During his inauguration, Jeok asks Mu Jin — presumed to be appointed as captain of the king's guard — where Hwi is, but he also does not know where he had gone off to. Seon Woo, also reinstated as a minister, calls the attention of the king, though he keeps holding himself from proceeding. Jin Jeok asks him to tell him if he wishes to say something, but Seon Woo dismisses it to be nothing.
Sometime later, Seon Woo visits Baek Hwa's grave on a hill and notices fresh flowers placed at her grave, assuming that Seol Hwa had visited her before him. Opening some alcohol, Seon Woo apologizes for his tardy visit for her, though he informs her that Jin Jeok has ordered to reinvestigate her father's case. He assures her that his innocence shall finally be proven just like how she wanted, as well as for the sake of their Seol Hwa.
Seon Woo laments how he could not bring himself to tell Jeok about the truth of his true familial relationship with Hwi, wondering how he can ever ask for the latter's forgiveness. He admits how their actions have ultimately caused the children to suffer, quipping that the children do bear the weight of their parents' sins after all. In the end, no one knows the entire truth regarding the brotherhood except him.
- (To Hwi after volunteering to become Jeok's decoy) "It will be… a very difficult and painful road. We don't know… when and how the journey will end."
- (To Hwi while branding him on the nape) "There is no birthmark on the back of your neck. That shows… you are not the prince. If you get captured, it will be a problem. We need proof that you are the real prince. Let's erase the evidence… that you are a fake."
- (To Baek Hwa) "No matter what, I will always protect you and Seol Hwa."
- (To Baek Hwa's grave after their revolt) "His Majesty has given orders to reinvestigate your father's case. Now we can finally prove his innocence. I have no doubt that he will be reinstated just like you wanted… And for our Seol Hwa, too."
- (Referring to Baek Hwa) "Our selfish actions have caused the children to suffer. I guess the children… ultimately bear the weight of their parents' sins."
|Characters of Twelve Nights|
|Royal Family||Ahn Young • Hyun Bin • Jin Hyul • Jin Jeok • Jin Won • Unnamed Baby Prince • Unnamed Baby Princess • Yi Hwi • Yi Sae Gi • Yoon Yeon Lee|
|Ministers||Hwang Se Hyung • Kim Hak Gyu • Sa Hwa Hyeon • Seo In Seon Woo • Wi Ji Hyun • Yi Ha • Yoo Ja Gyeom|
|Bi Yeong Pal Mu||Baek Ah • Baek Ju • Baek Lin • Baek Ryung • Baek Sa • Heuk Rang|
|Bi Yeong Ship Mu||Baek Ho • Baek Yoo Shin • Gil Mu Jin • Yi Ha|
|Deung Ha Bul Myung||Baek Ho • Crimson Moon • Gil Mu Jin • Nabi • Seol Hwa • Seo In Seon Woo • Wol Young Hwa • Yi Hwi • Yi Jeok|
|Yu Hyang Ru||Nabi • Wol Young Hwa • Yi Jeok|
|Others||Chung • Hwang Se Ryeon • Hyun • Ma Mi Song • Nam Yang Heon • Sori • Woon • Yi Ha's Wife • Yoo Dan Ah • Yoo Dan Ah's Mother|
|Royal Family||First Prince • First Princess • Jang Rei • Jang Rok Ha • Jang Ryun • Second Princess • Three Wives of Jang Ryun • Unnamed Baby Prince • Unnamed Baby Princess • Yeong Bi|
|Others||Gwak Ji Ryeon • Meng Gyeom|