Thursday, May 17, 2012

K-Drama Review: Princess Hours/Goong, Episodes 3-4















Read Episode reviews for:

Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 1-2
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 3-4
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 5-6
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 7-8
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 9-10
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 11-12
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 13-14
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 15-16
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 17-18
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 19-20
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 21-22
Princess Hours/Goong--Episodes 23-24

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 3-4

Chaekyung is getting princess lessons, and I'm officially having flashbacks of Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries. But Chaekyung's transformation is less about appearances than about manners, although seeing Chaekyung in hanbok is just too funny, since this is the girl who likes to wear sweatpants under her school uniform skirt.

Exhausted By Life. And By Hanbok.

The rest of the royal family is currently worrying about the king's secret disease. I now begin to notice that this is not the healthiest royal family. The old king died just after his oldest son died in a car accident, and now the new king is probably dying. It makes me feel a pang of concern for Shin and Yul. They're not destined to live past 40, are they?

During the pre-wedding preparations, Crown Prince Shin goes to see his bedraggled fiancee Chaekyung. He brings her a present of some candies and chocolate, but Shin also tries hard to cultivate an aloof, unfeeling image for himself. So even while they should be becoming allies, there's always a distance between Shin and Chaekyung.

Metaphorical Distances: He's Outdoors and She's Indoors.

Shin makes a deal with Chaekyung: in a few years, if she can't bear the pressures of palace life any longer, he'll grant her a divorce so that she can escape. He doesn't say it in the sweetest way, but it's actually a kind offer, when you think about it. Then it's time for the internationally televised royal wedding ceremony! It involves a lot of calmish, inexplicable things like drinking tea slowly and holding a live dove in a brightly patterned scarf.


The Bird is the Word.

Prince Yul shows up in the crowd at the wedding, looking wistful. I can't tell if he's missing his deceased father, or wishing that he was the Crown Prince, or what. Surely he can't be wishing it was him going through this endless formal ceremony to marry a near stranger? It's hardly an enviable position.

And the Ceremony is Essentially a Parade of Large Hats.

After the wedding, Chaekyung is trying to figure Shin out. He tells her that he's a cold type who doesn't care for others, but then when she looks sad, he sweetly offers her a handshake and tells her to come to him if she's having problems. He has his moments of jerkishness, but Shin never seems to stick to them for very long. And yet, I think it's kind of awesome that Chaekyung BITES his hand because he's offering her a pittance of attention and courtesy, and she doesn't need it.

This Handshake Does Not End Well.


The marriage isn't consummated because they're underage, and they move into a small palace (more of a summer house) with separate quarters. Yul transfers to Chaekyung's class at school, but because he wasn't visible at the wedding, she still doesn't know who he is and before long, they're good buddies.


And we're back to Hyorin again. She gets all upset because she's losing Shin, so Hyorin turns down an 8-year scholarship to the Royal Ballet School so she can go home and confront a boy who has already married someone else. Oh, Hyorin. Whatever happened to that strong young woman you were in episode 1?

We also finally establish that Yul is jealous of his cousin. He quietly says to Shin's departing car, "Hey you, that's my seat. I should be sitting there." I tend to think that Yul means sitting by Chaekyung as well as sitting in the limo and on the throne.

Channeling His Jealous Energy Into Ironing.

Things I Loved:

1. The Costumes. I may joke about the ceremonial garb, but it honestly looks quite fabulous. So cool and exotic and traditional. It makes classy people look classier and awkward people look more awkward, which is great for a drama.

I Am So Distracted By This Hat.

2. Yul. What a mystery he is. He's a good friend to Chaekyung, but despite the Goong POV-camera following him all the time, we still know so little about Yul's heart and motivations. Is he gonna be a supportive bro to Shin, or a villainous plotter who brings him down? It's too soon to tell. 

I Can't Read This Guy.

3. Wish Fulfillment. I can't help it. I am charmed by the pretty-pretty palace and the spacious rooms. This part of the wish-fulfillment fantasy is so dead on! It taps into that part of every girl's imagination that secretly wants a canopy bed, a white pony, and a room with flowy curtains and cushy carpets. Chaekyung walks around the mansion in a daze, still wearing her puffy PJs from home, and it's easy to step into her shoes and feel the awe.

Complaints:

1. Pacing. There's no getting around it; the show moves slowly. Episode 3 is mainly just the wedding, without a lot of side plots going on. Sure, Yul looks sad, Shin looks reserved, Chaekyung looks uncomfortable, and the nation gathers to watch, but really it just amounts to an hour of wedding-watching.

It Can Get a Bit Drowsy at Times.


2. Hyorin. Warning: rant incoming.

Hyorin has a nice rationale for returning to school. She says she would rather come home and experience all that life has to offer, so that her dancing will be more authentic. A good reason, right? But then she delivers this little gem in a speech to Shin--"For the rest of your life, you're going to regret that you didn't wait for me." 

Excuse me, Hyorin? You told everyone you weren't coming back, period. Also, the Crown Prince can't even sneeze without asking permission. Did you think he could halt his arranged marriage on the small chance that you might one day move back to Korea and decide to promote him from buddy to boyfriend? I don't think Hyorin is a jerk so much as she is spoiled. She wants perfection, spontaneity, a ballet career, and Shin, and she can only have two of those things at most.

Make Up Your Mind!

Themes:

Failed Overtures of Friendship: Shin opens up and tells Chaekyung that he agreed to the marriage only on the condition that they be allowed to relocate to a palace away from the adults. Shin says that if the two of them are living in the faraway palace, she'll get to sneak off and visit her parents, as he knows she wants to do. It's his first real gesture of kindness, I think.

And then Shin produces a whole written-down list of fun "princess" things for Chaekyung to try, like inviting her friends over to the royal resort, but Chaekyung shuts him down hard, not at all impressed with his friendliness. And he's like, "Whatever. It was Yul's list of ideas anyway." Oh, it looks like our boy Shin does not take rejection well.

He Doesn't Take Boredom Well, Either.


Runs in the Family: Chaekyung gets her horrible study skills from her dad. Neither of them are good at recalling their super-formal and super-important parts in the royal wedding. You think it's just a Chaekyung issue, but then you discover it's a family trait!

Dad, Struggling With His Partially Memorized Speech.


Cultural Observances:


New words:
Shikeureopda is "silence!"
Halaboji is "grandfather"

Watch Goong HERE on DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations: The plot still moves at an ultra-slow pace, but Chaekyung's charm and Shin's cool distance are keeping me interested. And the pretty hanbok and luxurious palaces aren't hurting, either!

7 comments:

  1. So do you think that Shin and Chaekyung will actually fall in love or are they destined for Hyorin & Yul?
    (I hope I got all the names straight)

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    1. You got all the names right on the first try! You are awesome. :-)

      I'm pretty darn sure that we're getting Shin/Chaekyung. Their interaction has the most tension, and usually where the tension is, there lies the main couple.

      I also think there's a 50/50 shot of getting Yul paired with Hyorin. It's a little too neat, but they've met by accident like 3 times now, which seems like a hint from the writers.

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  2. Gong is just plain AWESOME!!! Yeah, it's quite slow moving at first but it picks up pace after the marriage, it made me laugh my head off and cry like a baby all at the same time! Chaekyung and Shin are just such a cute couple ;)

    I'm now a proud new follower of your blog, do drop by my blog @ bookaworld.wordpress.com too!

    -Alicia
    bookaworld.wordpress.com

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  3. In regards to Yul keep an eye on him. and if this follows the manga also keep an eye on his mother. Plotting runs in the family.

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  4. thanks for the episode summaries i've been looking for summaries and reviews for this drama. since this drama is so high praised in the first few episodes it was a drag so i was just seeing what everybody else thought and what happens to decide whether or not i should continue watching this drama but your reviews really helped esp. since you watched and gave your perspective on each esp. helps thanks=]

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    Replies
    1. You're so welcome! Hope you enjoy the drama. :-)

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  5. Well, I think that Hyorin isn't really spoiled, but she hates Shin for marrying Chaekyung. Hyorin said that Shin didn't wait for her, I think its because she thinks that Shin understands that once she is a ballerina star, she can come back. But Shin doesn't. :/

    ReplyDelete