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 15 of the series, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of previous volumes go here.)
Back Cover Blurb
As Shin and Chae-Kyung try to pick up the pieces of their marriage in the wake of learning the truth behind their divorce, Yul is far from content to hang his head in defeat. Postponing his plans to study abroad, he positions himself near Chae-Kyung by taking classes at her school and even resorts to teaming up with the heartbroken Hyo-Rin to blackmail the former crown princess. But when Shin happens upon evidence of his cousin’s newfound treachery, will Yul’s plotting blow up in his face?!
Those who have been dying to see Yul’s mom get her just deserts will be somewhat gratified in Volume 15. Although Daewang-Daebi retains her position, she’s lost everything else, including the consideration of the King and Queen Mother. She gnashes her teeth so much it’s a miracle she has any left as she’s ousted from the royal inner circle. Of course, like any K-drama villainess, she’s not accepting her fate meekly, and she’s already laying the groundwork for a new scheme to get revenge.
Like mother, like child, and Yul is wreaking his own particular havoc upon the former royal couple. Having lost all chance at winning Chae-Kyung over, he’s out to make everyone miserable, too. Stalking Chae-Kyung isn’t enough; now he’s openly threatening her. With him resorting to extremes and terrorizing Chae-Kyung, it’s difficult to feel sympathy for him any longer. On the other hand, Shin and Chae-Kyung’s separation becomes more poignant, with Chae-Kyung suffering on Shin’s behalf and Shin throwing caution to the wind to bring her back.
In typical K-drama irony, Yul’s scheme to drive the desperate pair apart ends up pushing them together. Shin/Chae-Kyung fans will be gratified by a number of sigh-worthy moments, including one where Chae-Kyung is naked in the tub. However, though Park creates great melodrama, she’s always quick to dispel the pathos. Eunuch Kong’s appearances are fortunately kept to a minimum, but the way Park constantly shatters the romance with her particular brand of bawdy humor gets a bit old.
Included as extras in this volume are Words from the Creator from the Korean Volumes 21 and 22 and a three-page manga about creator Park meeting the Goong actors.
Yul and his mother may have gotten caught by the royal family, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to roll over and play dead. Rather, Yul’s resolved to ruin everyone else’s happiness even if it means hurting Chae-Kyung. Ironically, his efforts result in Shin and Chae-Kyung running off together. A romantic getaway it’s not, but the amount of longing and angst should delight any Shin/Chae-Kyung fan.
First published at the Fandom Post.