Goong, based on the manhwa (Korean comic book) of the same name, is one of those dramas that are so colorful and beautiful that you can overlook how much it drags at times or how the characters talk so slow as if there is just too much time in the day.
The story is set in an alternative South Korea, where the country is still a monarchy instead of a democracy.
It begins when the King of South Korea dies. The Royals are losing popularity so they decide that Prince Lee Shin (Joo Ji-hoon) has to marry immediately and prepare for succession. His bride is the corky Chae-Kyung (Yoon Eun Hye), whose grandfather was friends with the former King and promised his granddaughter to the next Crown Prince. Chae-Kyung is reluctant to marry the cold Lee Shin as she witnessed him proposing to a girl.
The girl rejects Lee Shin and he's hurt but concedes that he loves her too much to keep her trapped in the palace (Goong=Palace). Chae-Kyung on the other hand, he doesnt care about and anticipates her hellish life in the palace learning it's infinite traditions and rituals. Seriously, the girl studies from morning to night time apart from going to high school.
Standing in the way of our couple is Lee Yul (Kim Jung Hoon) and his evil mother. Lee Yul is the son of the man who was supposed to be king after the granfather died. However, due to his death Lee Shin's father became king and Shin became crown prince. Thus, Chae-Kyung was originally Lee Yul's bride-to-be and he resents that she's married to Shin. His mother? She just wants to be Queen and does every evil deed she can think of to make it happen. She is a serious contender for the Most Evil Mom in K-dramaland Award.
I dont think any of the actors were at their best in this one but the drama is very entertaining and so much fun that you can overlook how utterly annoying Chae-Kyung is and how clingy Lee Yul is (She doesn't want you, man!).
What I like the most about this drama, aside from the romance and the broody Lee Shin, is the colorful, traditional clothing and the teddy bear people at the end of each episode. It somehow adds something more to an already beautiful drama that is epic purely because of the little details that draw the eye.
Aren't they cute?!
As always the manhwa and the TV series are available at the New York Public Library.