21 March 2008

궁 Palace

Title: 궁 Gung
English Title:
  • Palace
  • Princess Hours
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Year: 2006
Episode: 24
  • 윤은혜 Yoon Eun Hye
  • 주지훈 Joo Ji Hoon
  • 주지훈 Kim Jeong Hoon
  • 송지효 Song Ji Hyo

HowL and J - 사랑인가요 Sarang In Ga Yo (Perhaps Love)
Stay - 당신은… 나는 바보입니다 Dang Shin Eun... Na Neun Babo Ibnida (I'm a Fool)
It's the 20th century and South Korea is a constitutional monarchy. Because the king is in poor health, the royal family and the palace officials scramble to find a wife for the Crown Prince Lee Shin. Shin is given a chance to find someone he wants to marry but when the time period is up and he still hasn't found someone, the royal family will choose his future wife instead.

Shin proposes to Min Hyo Rin, an ambitious ballerina who is also his secret girlfriend. Although she loves him, Hyo Rin turns down Shin's proposal because she wants to pursue her own dreams, something she can't possibly do if she becomes the future queen.

The royal family discovers that the late emperor, Shin's grandfather, has already promised the marriage of his grandson (the future crown prince) to the granddaughter of his dear friend. After finding out the girl in question is from a middle class family, they hesitate but eventually honor the agreement.

Shin Chae Kyung is a typical Korean teenager in high school. She's quirky and happy-go-lucky but she has a strong will and a caring heart. She has never entertained the idea of being a princess and she's adamant that she doesn't want to become one. However, because of her family's financial troubles and to honor her late grandfather's wishes, she agrees to marry the crown prince.

After the extravagant wedding comes the marriage. Because what Shin and Chae Kyung has is essentially an arranged marriage, they are initially indifferent and sometimes hostile with each other. But because of her warm personality, Chae Kyung eventually wins the hearts of everyone in the palace, even Shin's.

정재욱 Jung Jae Wook & The One - 두 가지 말 Doo Ga Ji Mal (Two Words)
서현진 Seo Hyun Jin - Give Me A Little Try
I find the premise of the existence of a royal family in modern South Korea interesting. The fascination with royalty of the masses is probably what made this drama such a huge hit not only in South Korea but the whole of Asia.

Palace is a very entertaining drama, with a lot of funny moments. I hate that it was extended to 24 episodes when it was slated for just 20 episodes; the fact that it was dragged on longer than necessary is the drama's biggest drawback. Looking at it as a whole, it is still worth watching though.

There were some things in the drama that I did not really understand and it's probably because I don't know much about Korean history and culture. This is the main reason why I'm not caught up on the political intrigues, which is quite a main feature of the drama.

For example, I don't get why Lee Shin's father has to inherit the throne when Lee Yul's father died. Couldn't Yul inherit the throne? Why can't Shin's father be just a sort of guardian until Yul comes of age and ready to take the throne?

Anyway, I really enjoyed the interactions between Shin and Shin Chae Kyung around the time when although they are already married, they are essentially still strangers to each other. Although this is the first acting project for both the lead actors, I think they managed to portray their characters well.

궁 Palace