궁 (Gung)

As mentioned previously, I saw Gung (aka Palace, Princess Hours etc) – all 24 episodes of it – over a few days during the September break, instead of writing my essays as I should have been doing. The English translations from the dvds that SC brought back from Sydney were really pathetic…I eventually resorted to finding fansubs and reading them whilst watching, not very fun at all, but I did manage to understand it at least.

Gung (or Goong, as it is more often romanized, although SC and I both think that ‘Gung’ is more accurate phonetically) is about a girl (Chae Gyung) who, by an agreement between her grandfather and the Korean king during his time, marries the Seja (i.e. Crown Prince – Shin), thus entering into the palace (hence the title, ‘Gung’). Trouble is, as a commoner, her behaviour and way of speaking are completely unsuitable for the strict protocols of royalty (so much so that what the words that she uses cannot actually be understood). But more importantly…just before being notified of the marriage arrangement, she saw her husband-to-be propose to his ‘girlfriend’, who turned him down…

When I first heard about the planned adaptation of Park So Hee’s manhwa, I had absolutely no intention to watch it…I wasn’t even into live-action tv series anymore, from anywhere in the world, though I still appreciated good movies. However, after k_chan009 introduced me to j-doramas (and occassionally waxed lyrical about Gung, having watched it raw whilst in Japan), and SC obtained a copy whilst in Sydney, I was in trouble. All up…one quarter of my mid-semester break went into watching this series…(and this semester, I’ve obtained my worst marks ever, although there are other factors involved ^^;).

Back to the point…Gung was lots of fun to watch. The concept is perhaps a bit cliched (just how many Cinderella stories do we need?) but the characters are, for the most part, what makes the story. Yoon Eun Hye was endearing as Chae Gyung, whose character was so cute even in many of the early bad situations that it’s no wonder both princes fell in love with her… Joo Ji Hoon was quite appropriately condescending in the earlier episodes, but when he started smiling more…mm…

As for the unfortunate ‘others’… Kim Jeong Hoon made me feel sooo sad for Yul…(and he should smile ‘properly’ more often, looks better)…but hell, the scene of him making lunch just sold me…I mean, on top of being so considerate about how difficult life was in the palace, a guy who can cook? (although his awful behaviour as a child…ugh…I’d never want to be royalty.) I’m not particularly fond of Hyo-rin – although I pity her for being used by Yul’s mother, her own behaviour was…only as spoilt little rich kids can be. I particularly despised the way she took advantage of Kang In (the guy who liked her).

As for the adults – loved the Queen Mother (so cute, friendly, understanding etc), and really felt sorry for Shin’s mother – having that role thrust upon her, and without her husband’s love…I’d have left! But the King and Yul’s mother…detestable, though for different reasons. The King seems much worse in the manhwa (volume 11/12 or thereabouts) though, possibly because the relevant section has been drawn out much much more there. And Shin’s sister…is a bit of a strange addition, and a bit out-of-place as she really had the perfect character to be Queen. (Oh, but I LOVE her hair – but it has a bit of a curl in it, as my hairdresser confirmed, so it would be a bit harder for me, having dead straight hair, to pull off…).

The plot follows the manhwa for much of the story, at least initially, and the changes are fine with me (although, given that Yul has given up, I really wonder what they’re going to do in the planned second season). I really liked all those squiggles of writing pointing to various amusing things (*wishes she had taken screenshots, as it’s a bit troublesome now*) and I’m glad the really ugly WTF faces that Chae-gyung pulls in the manga can’t be represented (the art is a bit like Gokusen in that sense). However, a few details just seem to be overlooked, like Yul being able to go anywhere in the palace, particularly to the residence of Chae-gyung and Shin, without their retainers announcing him, and later, without his own retainers in tow. I know it annoyed Shin to have them around, but still… Unfortunately, the ending is a bit stretched out (reflecting the manhwa perhaps, as it seems that Park So Hee might have intended to end it at 12 volumes – 14 has recently been released), and all the internal conflict makes me wonder how monarchies managed to survive for so long.

The music and costumes were really wonderful (I want to visit Korea and have a set of their traiditional dress made for me! when I actually have money perhaps…). I’ve since been appreciating some other music by 2nd Moon which SC passed me (although not recently, given the amount of music I have to delete).

All up, I still have some reservations about live-action adaptations (watch Honey & Clover – the WTF moments sooooo cannot be represented by actors in a way that will retain the ROFLOL hilarity, can they? I’ll have to try the movie to see), especially since one hour episodes are really tiring to watch…but, particularly for girls, a series well-worth watching. 7.5/10

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

One Response to 궁 (Gung)

  1. Pingback: Review: Coffee Prince « opinionated? well…sort of…

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