Only noblemen with extraordinary strength can grow up to become great generals. If a slave were to demonstrate such strength, it is an offense worthy of death.
Hong Gil Dong(Yoon Kyun Sang) is the second son of a slave, Amogae (Kim Sang Joong). When Gil Dong demonstrates extraordinary strength as a young child, Amogae tells him that he must always hide his powers in order to survive in Joseon Society. When Amogae loses his wife at the hands of the nobleman that he has served all his life, he kills his master and manages to get out of prosecution. Amogae escapes to a remote land and establishes a colony of bandits that becomes prosperous through trading and helps protect the common people from corrupt government officials.
Gil Dong becomes a traveling salesman who falls in love with Jang Nok Soo (Honey Lee), a performer in a gisaeng house, while her handmaiden Song Ga Ryung (Chae Soo Bin) falls in love with Gil Dong. When Gil Dong doesn’t return from one of his trips, Nok Soo thinks he has abandoned her and makes her way into the royal palace, where she catches the eye of the tyrannical King Yeonsangun (Kim Ji Suk) and becomes his consort.
When Amogae is attacked and tortured by government officials, Gil Dong returns to his father’s colony to become its reluctant leader to get revenge on his father’s enemies. Can he protect the common people from the unjust tyranny of the king?
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