궁 (Goong / Princess Hours)

Wiki | DramaWiki

Starring: Yoon Eun Hye, Joo Ji Hoon, John Hoon, Song Ji Hyo

When I just got into dramas, I saw a poster for this at an Asian store. My uncle told me that this show was really popular in the Philippines. I later decided to see it after Coffee Prince, since I liked YEH’s performance so much. It was both a good and a bad move.

Like Full House, it’s based off a manhwa of the same title. It’s a Cinderella story set in an AU Korea that is a constitutional monarchy. Shin Chae-kyung accidentally falls into the lives of the royals when it is revealed that her grandfather saved the King’s life, and they vowed that their grandchildren would wed. Chae-kyung happens to go to the same school as Crown Prince Shin, and overhears him proposing to his longtime girlfriend, the ballerina Min Hyo-rin. Unbeknownst to her, Prince Shin is actually her fiancé. Despite being every girl’s dreamboat, Shin is spoiled, arrogant, and cold. The royal family is facing declining popularity, and has them marry right away. They slowly fall in love, but will it survive in spite of politics and tradition, and the reappearance of the former Crowned Prince, Lee Yul (John Hoon)?

Acting-wise, this series is very well done. YEH does a fabulous job conveying how a teenage girl might feel, suddenly thrown into the lap of luxury, where all eyes are watching her. To top it all off, she is married to the most difficult man on the planet. Imagine her surprise when she discovers that when the pact between the grandfathers was made, Yul was in line to be the next Crowned Prince – making him the man she was originally intended for!

JJH was also skyrocketed into popularity because of this show, and with good reason: he makes a damn fine prince that has trouble with things like “emotion.” And he makes such a good couple with YEH, that they have their own fanbase.

And John Hoon is positively swoon-worthy, playing the Hamlet of the palace. He falls in love with Chae-kyung, who could have been his, if only he were Crowned Prince! However, the woman he puts before all others is his scheming mother, who only wants revenge for being kicked out of the palace when she had claim to the throne. Apparently, 14 years of being in England didn’t do anything to help erase that hatred.

The Grand Prince-Crowned Prince-Crowned Princess love triangle isn’t news, either. The palace walls have hidden secret affairs that only Prince Shin is apparently aware of. He finds traces of illicit love long past, and wants to erase all traces of it.

The plot of this drama, however, gave me a headache. It drags on and on and on, until you really couldn’t care less if Chae-kyung and Shin get divorced or not. You just want it to be over, for the love of God. Shin, Yul, WHO CARES. PICK ONE, AND BE DONE WITH IT. Also, Yul channels way too much emo. “I’m so lonely, and have a bit of an Oedipus complex.” Seriously, his affection for his mother was borderline obsessive. Mama’s boy = huge turn-off.

The only funny part at the end is when Grand Princess Chae-kyung introduces Grand Prince Shin as her “boyfriend,” and he gets angry, saying, “I’m your husband!” I laughed briefly, and then cried tears of joy and sorrow: tears of joy, because it was finally over, and tears of sorrow because I can’t get back the hours spent watching this show.

If you’re a fan of anybody in this show, you should see it merely for comparison’s sake. The acting is really good. But if you’re just wondering if you should watch it because it looks good, I advise that you stay away from this migraine waiting to happen. You’d think that the palace intrigue would have been dealt with better, but it was just sloppy and hastily resolved.

Overall, a disappointment.

Rating: 2/5

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