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Entry updated 27 December 2021. Tagged: TV.

["Palace"] South Korean tv series (2006; vt Princess Hours; vt Princess, circa 2007). Eight Peaks, MBC. Directed by Hwan In-roe. Written by In Eun-ah. Cast includes Choi Bool-am, Yun Eun-hye, Kim Jeong-Hoon, Joo Ji-hun, Ju Ji-hun, Song Ji-hyo and Kang Nam-gil. 24 episodes. Colour.

In an Alternate History of Korea that finds the country retaining its monarchy into the twenty-first century, the girl-next-door Chae-kyong (Yun) is promised in marriage to the Crown Prince, the dashing but arrogant Lee Shin (Joo). She finds herself adored by the people, despised by Hyo-rin (Song), the capricious ballerina who once spurned Lee Shin's proposal, and also loved by Yul (Kim) the former Crown Prince, recently returned from exile in exotic England.

Based on an ongoing Comic by Park So-hee (graph 2002 Wink), Goong is a modern fairy tale, strongly influenced by romantic Manga for girls. It offers Korean teenagers an aspirational super-class with even more impressive baubles and gaudier frocks, and the chance to boast of being on first-name terms with the British royal family. Like its near contemporary 2009: Lost Memories (2002), its genre potential is largely squandered as a flashy spin on pre-existing dramatic cliches, turning Korea itself into a twee, mannered Ruritania fixated on pomp and ceremony. Perhaps most striking is Goong's experimentation with Linguistics, dusting off antiquated forms of address and levels of politeness that have fallen into disuse since 1945. Entire areas of Korean vocabulary and verb-forms, once employed in aristocratic protocol, are dragged from textbooks and put back to work, reminding the viewer that the Parallel World of Goong, however histrionic and ludicrous, is tantalizingly close to our own timeline. With only part of the original comic adapted, a sequel was planned, but cancelled when the production company lost its hold on several of the stars. Goong S (2007) was a compromised spin-off, in which yet another exiled prince is lured back to the motherland as a consort to an unmarried royal. [JonC]


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