Manhwa Review: Goong Vol. #18

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 released the final volume, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of previous volumes go here.)

Back Cover Blurb

During the royal family’s first public interview with Prince Sun, the nation is shocked when the youngest prince accidentally reveals Shin’s intention to get married and leave the palace! Recognizing Sun’s voice from her mysterious phone call a few nights before, Chae-Kyung drags her new boyfriend to the royal family’s parade. Shin spots her from the car, and Chae-Kyung follows him to the palace, where they are reunited…

The Review

The tale of the commoner girl in the Korean palace finally comes to a close. With the series wrapping up, Creator Park needs to tie up loose ends, and there are a lot  to be addressed. The first three chapters bring resolution to the Hyo-Rin/Chae-Jun, Eunuch Kong/Lady Han, and King/Queen pairings. Even Yul’s mother gets a kind of resolution although it makes the fuss over her medicine to the king look like the molehill that got turned into a mountain.

Having addressed the secondary characters, the focus turns to Shin and Chae-Kyung. The previous volume made it look like Chae-Kyung’s new boyfriend really had a shot at capturing her heart. At the very least, he seemed genuinely attracted to her, but then we learn they haven’t even kissed. In addition, he so understanding when Chae-Kyung starts obsessing over Shin again, he’s more like a super supportive guy friend than a serious contender for her heart. Meanwhile, Shin hasn’t picked up anyone new despite the Eagles’ attempts to get him with another girl so the last hurdle in the relationship is simply Shin’s position as Crown Prince. That doesn’t quite create the same drama as torn heartstrings or diabolical plots. As such, it’s a bit anti-climactic when they reunite, especially when the solution to their problem has been in the background the entire time. Even so, our lead couple has been through so much it is satisfying to see them finally achieve a happy ending.

Yen Press’s Volume 18 consists of Volumes 27 and 28 of the Korean release. The main story concludes in the Korean Volume 27, and Volume 28 is comprised entirely of side stories. These include “A Concubine’s Confession,” a time travel tale; “A Crown Princess’s Secret Diary,” in which Chae-Kyung pokes fun at her stuffy husband; “Debating with the Enemy,” a Yul-centric piece that goes off the deep end; “The Story of Spending a Night Together,” an extended account of the royal adults’ failed attempt to get Chae-Kyung and Shin to sleep with each other; and a couple of mini-manhwa about Park’s various experiences. Except for “A Concubine’s Confession,” these extras are heavy on Park’s particular brand of raunchy comedy, and if that’s been your favorite aspect of Goong, it’s not a bad way to close out the volume.

In Summary

The long-running palace dramedy comes to an end. There are more happy endings than not, and of course, our main couple finds a way to be together, although their reunion is less dramatic than I expected for a series finale. The Goong characters did a great job of keeping the audience hooked, but it does feel like it’s time for them to retire. For those who aren’t quite ready to let them go, Goong’s conclusion is followed by a number of short stories, which revisit the past and provide a possible (?) glimpse of the characters’ future.

First published at the Fandom Post.

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