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 13-14
So after a long hiatus, I'm back to reviewing Goong. Through email and comments, I've received a few requests to continue the recaps and I've also got a K-drama vacancy in my schedule now, since my favorite summer show Big just wrapped up (read my disgruntled recap of the final episodes HERE).
Teenage Princess Chaekyung is feeling low because her husband Shin had been seeing his ex-girlfriend Hyorin. Sure, Shin and Chaekyung's marriage is a political thing and it's not "for real" in a lot of ways, but Chaekyung's feelings for Shin are the genuine article.
And He Tramples on Them Regularly.
The Queen Mother, Shin's grandma, is about the coolest little old lady ever, and in order to break the ice between Shin and Chaekyung, she suggests that the three of them go out for a drive without letting any of their subordinates know.
You Rule Breaker, You!
Queen Mother takes this fun spur-of-the-moment outing as an opportunity to remind the young couple that she would really like to have a great-grandchild. Aww, Grandma. Your heart is so kind and your intentions so good, but I don't think you'll convince Chaekyung to have babies with Shin any time soon. However, on this short trip, Queen Mother does get Shin and Chaekyung to sing the Korean version of the kiddie song "Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow". Love it. If she can't have little kids, she'll make the young people act like kids!
At school, Yul has lost his trademark blondish locks in favor of a conservative black hair color, which makes me wonder, is he just looking for a style change, or trying to be emo, or maybe even subconsciously trying to mimic Shin? Hyorin is now getting shunned at school, and I have very little sympathy for her. The girl willingly involved Shin in a scandal so he'd get kicked out of the palace and have no choice but to divorce Chaekyung and go to her. Hyorin can't see the big picture--all she focuses on is what she wants and how she can get it. Yul's a little more subtle about his manipulations.
Yul's Mom is now a Queen Mother, too, which necessitates her wearing an unflattering hanbok and headdress. Yul's Mom wants Yul to be a little more plotty for goodness' sake, because she's doing all she can to win him the throne, while he's not really getting with the program. In fact, he is being mopey.
Sad Yul is Sad!
Yul indulges in a hazy mental montage of all the cute moments that made him fall for Chaekyung. It's precious, but somewhat pitiful since we know that Chaekyung never thinks of Yul in such a dreamy way. Even so, Yul and Chaekyung hang out together on the palace grounds, playing mandolins and singing to each other, just generally having a great time.
Elsewhere, Shin's Mom is seriously worried about her son's reputation. The tabloids are full of stories of his marriage problems, and she wonders how to halt the rumors.
You'll Never Guess What Solution She Comes Up With.
Shin's Mom, the Queen Mother, and all the high-ranking household servants decide that it's high time for Shin and Chaekyung to ceremonially "share the marriage bed". Yes, that means what you think it means. It's a very old-fashioned, impersonal approach to something so very personal, but then again, this is a monarchy and there are heirs at stake. Chaekyung and Shin are both 19 and they are legally married, so there aren't any real moral issues here, yet these two kiddos really do seem like kids.
The worst part about these marriage-bed preparations? Nobody tells Shin and Chaekyung it's happening! No, they just treat Chaekyung to a makeover while giggling. And it's even worse for Shin, who gets fed a drink with some "special health-enhancing" ingredients added. He's nineteen! Are they trying to kill him with this?
I'm Scared of Where This is Going.
But since this is a comedy, nothing happens even after the prince and princess are locked up all night in the ceremonial room of royal snuggling. The Queen Mother is thrilled over the prospect of getting a great-grandchild, but Shin and Chaekyung are still as innocent as newborn lambs. Which is good, because it's clear they couldn't handle a more grown-up relationship.
A Picture of Chaekyung's Ceremonial Hat. Just Because.
But while it's funny for the audience, this is a dead serious matter for Yul, who looks like he's going to vomit when he hears about the royal family's plan for Shin and Chaekyung. The next day, when Chaekyung tells him that nothing happened, he's so relieved, he hugs her.
Her Reaction to the Hug Says So Much.
Shin sees the hug and shoves Yul away, saying, "She's my wife, so don't touch her!" Then Shin berates Chaekung for flirting with Yul, which is not conduct befitting a Crown Princess. Ha. That's rich, coming from a guy who ditched his security guards to joyride around Thailand with Hyorin a few episodes ago. Where was your love for propriety then, Shin?
Anyways, Shin's behavior is infuriating and hypocritical, but one thing it does clearly show is that Chaekyung is special to him. Though he has the worst ways of showing it, sometimes. Chaekyung tells him off good for it, as she ought to.
Yul and Chaekyung meet again, and Yul confesses that he likes her. No, more than likes--he wants to marry her after she divorces Shin. Yul says that he'll never leave her alone or ignore her like Shin does, and besides, he was the prince she was originally intended to marry, anyway.
These Are Compelling Arguments.
Chaekyung tells him to stop talking like this, and it brings up the question: Why can't she just like the nice guy who adores her instead of the cold guy who occasionally acknowledges her? But the choice is more complicated than that, and Yul has some secrets he's hiding, too.
At school, everyone's reading fresh tabloid stories with pictures of Shin and Hyorin in Thailand. Chaekyung's friends go and confront Hyorin for her shadiness, and the confrontation is kind of eerie because Hyorin has previously been a mild villain who sees herself as a victim, and now the bullying has made her an actual victim.
Still Don't Like Her, But I Do Feel Sorry For Her.
The sight of the others girls pushing and shoving Hyorin is definitely awful and highlights how disgusting bullying really is: even when characters we like are bullying characters we don't like, it doesn't feel like justice, it feels dirty and wrong.
Hyorin's mom is admitted to the hospital for a serious back surgery and it's also revealed that Hyorin and her mom don't have much money. Um. Then how does Hyorin afford the ritzy arts school, ballet training, horseback riding lessons, nice presents for Shin, and plane tickets to Thailand? I can understand the need for the story to make Hyorin more sympathetic, but it doesn't make sense to make her poor, not after we've seen her living the luxury life for so many episodes.
At the palace, Yul tries to talk with Chaekyung about his feelings, but she puts up walls. She says that she used to feel sorry for Shin, then she grew to understand him, then the more she understood him, the more she liked him. Without saying it outright, Chaekyung is making it known that Shin's the only one for her.
Those Are the Breaks, Yul.
But! After she says that, Chaekyung finds paparazzi pictures of Hyorin kissing Shin in Thailand. Good. Took forever for Chaekyung to know. She feels betrayed and all, but I think the revelation is happening a little late--the audience knew about this a long, long time ago.
Yul and Chaekyung resolve to remain friends after he says he won't mention his feelings to her anymore. They decide to skip school and go have fun, to alleviate Chaekyung's stress. It doesn't really work because Chaekyung still ends up crying over Shin's behavior. And she lets Yul hold her while she cries.
Might Be Sending Some Mixed Messages.
Chaekyung chills on her own for awhile, and Shin worries when she doesn't come back to the palace on time. Shin goes out to find her, with no results. Yul finds Chaekyung in a remote palace building and tells her that he's willing to drop all his royal responsibilities and run away with her if she really feels so stifled by the palace. Yul, I thought you weren't going to mention your feelings anymore? That resolution lasted all of three hours. Shin barges in and punches Yul for not bringing Chaekyung back immediately once he found her. Kind of thuggish behavior for a prince.
Things I Loved:
Music. I'm loving that classical violin that plays all the time in the background. It sounds Irish to me, but I guess it's a variation on traditional Korean music.
Yul's Mom: She's a good villain, I guess, but anything involving her is so frustrating.
You'd Be Grumpy, Too, If You Had to Wear This Headdress.
Watch Goong HERE on Dramafever.
Episode Evaluations: Still moving quite slowly. To use a footracing metaphor, the story doesn't so much run along the racetrack as it gradually shifts its posture toward the track, before strolling nonchalantly toward the finish line. The characters are nice, and the palace scenery is sure pretty, but it takes a minimum of 6 episodes for anyone to take decisive action on any important matter. But if you don't mind a leisurely pace, sit back and enjoy! We've got 10 more episodes to go.