What if modern Korea was a constitutional monarchy similar to England’s? That’s the backdrop for Goong: the Palace, a manhwa that got turned into a wildly popular drama and musical.
Set in an alternate world where the Korean monarchy still exists, the story follows Chae-Kyung Shin, a strong-willed commoner who attends the same high school as Shin Lee, the crown prince. After accidentally witnessing Shin proposing to his girlfriend Hyo-rin and being rejected, Chae-Kyung unexpectedly learns that she will marry Shin and become crown princess due to a promise between the former king and her grandfather.
Yen Press has just released Volume 13 of the series, and you can read on for the review. (For my Fandom Post review of Volume 11, go here.)
Back Cover Blurb
As Prince Shin and Chae-Kyung carry on separate lives away from each other in the aftermath of their divorce, the schemes and manipulation continue behind their backs! When the pair meet by chance at an orphanage, the fireworks go off just as the political factions – to say nothing of the conniving Yul – intended. Chae-Kyung’s outright rejection of Shin leads the Crown Prince to go running into the arms of his ex-girlfriend, Hyo-Rin – and propose to her a second time?!
Shin and Chae-Kyung’s divorce is official, but that doesn’t put an end to their feelings. The separation of lovers means angst, and the first half of Yen Press’ release of Volume 13 has it in spades with Shin rebelling against everyone and everything to have her back. Meanwhile Chae-Kyung’s in agony having to thwart his desperate advances. And of course there’s Yul, trying to capitalize on a situation where Chae-Kyung’s emotionally weak and Shin’s forbidden to see her. What makes it worse is that the royal family seems to think that throwing a new crown princess at Shin will help matters so Hyo-Rin and Chae-Jun get added to the mix. On one hand, the actions of the royals seem callous, the way they’re trying to replace Chae-Kyung, yet you can’t really hate them because SoHee makes clear how much they all miss her. It’s the kind of tangled emotional torment Korean dramas are famous for.
But SoHee can’t keep us wallowing in misery forever. By the middle of the volume, their post-divorce life takes on a comic flavor. Chae-Kyung is no longer crown princess, but she’s not exactly a regular person either. SoHee seems to take a kind of twisted pleasure in torturing Chae-Kyung at a group date gone horribly wrong with Shin stalking about under the pretense of a driving lesson. Mi-Roo also serves up a huge chunk of comedy. The rich brat is conniving and up to no good, but the way she twists her father into canceling plans to marry her to an Arab prince and helping in her ploy against Hyo-Rin is pretty funny. And SoHee continues in the super bizarre humor (?) that is particular to Eunuch Kong. (That character seriously disturbs me.)
Of course, things can’t end so sadly for our lead couple. Toward the end of the volume, the Queen and Shin are feverishly but separately trying to get to the bottom of the intrigue that led to their current predicament. Between that and Mi-Roo’s somewhat juvenile plan to get Hyo-Rin booted as crown princess by forcing Shin and Chae-Kyung back together, the divorced pair’s definitely got another encounter in their future, but it’s bound to be a tumultuous one.
Included as extras in this volume are Words from the Creator from the Korean Volumes 17 and 18 and the short story Confession, which delves into the past of one of our more villainous characters. Usually, this kind of back story makes me more sympathetic toward the individual in question, but this did not, although it did provide insight into the royal love triangle of a generation ago.
Nothing like forcibly separated lovers to tug at the heartstrings. Shin earns points as a lead male for his persistence in pursuing Chae-Kyung despite everything driving them apart while Chae-Kyung is the consummate tragic heroine. Anguish abounds, yet SoHee keeps the mood from getting overly depressing with comic moments involving blood sausages, sleepless eunuchs, conniving rich girls, and the worst group date ever.
First published at the Fandom Post.