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 16 of the series, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of previous volumes go here.)
Back Cover Blurb
Struggling with reconciliation, Shin and Chae-Kyung are suddenly stuck in awkwardly close quarters when the king orders that the pair stay put until he can defuse the situation with Yul. But when the king, preempting Yul’s plan, confronts the public with the truth about his brother’s final wishes and allows them to decide who should be crown prince, Chae-Kyung seeks to defy the king’s command and return home to intercede with Yul. But instead of running home, she runs right into a trap…set for Shin!
Volume 16 is packed with drama, both intimate and public. Bombshells explode so quickly on each other’s heels that these chapters could have come off as ridiculously over-the-top. However, previous volumes have laid the groundwork such that the story sweeps you along rather than drowns you in melodrama.
To start, the opening chapter concludes the romantic moment begun at the close of Volume 15. Given the never-ending obstacles in the Crown Prince and Princess’ relationship, I assumed something would dispel or interrupt the mood. I was wrong. As such, Volume 16 should be a memorable one for Shin/Chae-Kyung fans. There’s a lot of skin, but the tone is more poignant than hot and heavy. Of course creator Park can never let things get too sappy, and bawdy humor returns the next morning with Eunuch Kong and Lady Han barging in to serve breakfast in bed.
Then the drama returns with a surprise announcement from the king. Yul’s been plotting all this time to wrest the throne by painting his uncle as a usurper, but the king outwits him, foiling the prince’s plot. In doing so, the king inadvertently ruins another plotter’s plans, and the trap Yul’s mother laid for Shin gets sprung by Chae-Kyung instead.
It’s not a K-drama without someone getting rushed to the hospital. While everyone (with the possible exception of Yul’s mother) is deeply affected, the two princes are the most distraught. However, Chae-Kyung’s hospitalization provides another opportunity for Shin and Chae-Kyung’s romance to deepen. Meanwhile, Yul gets hit by mind blowing guilt when he learns why Chae-Kyung left her cottage and again when he learns his mother’s part in the accident. As usual, creator Park has to lighten the heavy mood with some laughs, and her rendition of Chae-Kyung’s post-accident face is pretty funny although I could have done without Eunuch Kong’s “Lady Mama” wedding dress.
Included as extras in this volume are Words from the Creator from the Korean Volumes 23 and 24, a four-page manga about creator Park’s trip to France, and another four-page manga about Park and Yul.
The emotional roller coaster that is Volume 16 brings Chae-Kyung and Shin closer than they’ve ever been. Yul, on the other hand, is as manipulative as his mother at times but so miserable you can’t help pitying him. He looks as if he’s blown his chances for winning Chae-Kyung’s heart, and things could possibly head toward a happy ending for Chae-Kyung and Shin. However, creator Park’s left a significant loose thread, namely the driver implicated in Chae-Kyung’s auto accident, that should fuel the drama for several more chapters.
First published at the Fandom Post.