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 14 of the series, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of Volume 13, go here.)
Back Cover Blurb
When a leisurely hot-springs trip with the Queen Mother intended to bring the future royal couples closer throws Prince Shi, Hyo-Rin, Yul, and Mi-Roo together, fireworks are on the horizon. It quickly becomes painfully clear to all involved – especially Hyo-Rin – that Shin has his ex-wife, Chae-Kyung, on his mind. And when Yul and Shin find themselves alone, Shin confronts Yul, asking him to come clean about his part in Shin’s divorce from Chae-Kyung! To make matters worse, Shin isn’t the only one with sneaking suspicions about the divorce. The king is about to throw himself into the fray by taking Yul to task!
The Queen Mother takes the future royal couples with her on a hot springs trip, but her plans to spark romance between the pairs fall flat. There’s angst on Hyo-Rin’s part as she yearns for Shin’s attention, but Mi-Roo is the one who dominates the trip and, actually, the first half of the book.
Mi-Roo is hardly endearing, especially when she bickers with nasty Eunuch Kong, but she’s the type of character that makes things happen. She’s bold enough to knock Yul off a yacht, sly enough to manipulate the Queen Mother into doing as she wants, and clever enough to use the resources at her disposal (we finally find out why she wanted that pharmacist and mimic) to create an otherwise impossible opportunity for Shin and Chae-Kyung to meet. Her meddling’s rather entertaining, and when Chae-Kyung realizes what she’s up to, it’s pretty funny watching her try to wriggle out of Mi-Roo’s trap.
But once Shin and Chae-Kyung lay eyes on one another, the humor drops out, and it’s emotion and romantic tension all over again. Mi-Roo succeeds in taking Shin’s attention away from Hyo-Rin, but her meddling has an inadvertent and explosive consequence between Chae-Kyung and Yul.
The royals have been desperately pursuing the mastermind that demanded Chae-Kyung and Shin’s divorce. First the Queen, then Shin, and now the King joins the hunt (though it’s rather convenient how he just happens upon the mention of Yul in the Royal Annals). Now Yul and his mother are the ones backed into a corner. The Queen’s confrontation of the Daebi, which has been a long time coming, is quite satisfying, but the King’s visit to Yul is a complete surprise. It’s a dramatic moment, and even more dramatic is what follows between Chae-Kyung and Yul. Still, even though Yul deserves what he gets, you can’t help feeling sorry for him when he goes crying to his mom.
Despite this revelation, things can’t just go back to where they were for the victims. A royal divorce isn’t easily undone, and making public the how and why behind it would plunge the royal family into deeper scandal. However, the truth strengthens Shin’s resolve to get Chae-Kyung back. His drunken appearance at Chae-Kyung’s mansion isn’t his best moment, but Chae-Kyung/Shin fans should appreciate the passion and determination that drove him there.
Included as extras in this volume are Words from the Creator from the Korean Volumes 19 and 20 and the short story The Crown Prince’s Secret Diary, a humorous glimpse into the first days of Chae-Kyung and Shin’s marriage from Shin’s perspective.
Mi-Roo dominates the first chapters of this volume with her outrageous yet solidly devised plan to bring Chae-Kyung and Shin back together. However, royal family drama swiftly follows on the heels of her rich-girl meddling when the King realizes that Yul was behind Chae-Kyung and Shin’s divorce. Our lead couple is still separated, but Shin/Chae-Kyung fans will be gratified with two emotional encounters between the pair and one fiery confrontation between Chae-Kyung and Yul.
First published at the Fandom Post.