Goong was enjoyable from start to finish. It was a bit slow in some areas and it annoyed me when the characters, when confronted, wouldn't speak up and readily defend themselves (and perhaps this is expected of the Korean culture that you don't react and to hold your tongue). Each character could have set things straight right at the onset instead of dragging it out and having the truth eventually reveal itself. But for the most part, it was a charming fairy tale, well acted and left me wanting more at the end of the series (and no, not in the form of Goong S).
Upon our introduction of Crown Prince Shin, the title characted played by Joo Ji Hoon, we find that he was promised long ago by his grandfather, the Emperor, to marry the granddaughter (Yoon Eun Hye) of his close friend. At the time this promise was made, the Crown Prince at the time was not Shin's father but his cousin Yul's father who had died in an accident when both Shin and Yul (Kim Jeong Hoon) were very young. Upon Yul's father's death, Shin's father was made Crown Prince, Yul and his mother were asked to leave the palace, and Shin became second in line to the throne, with Yul now shifted into the third position. When the Emperor passed away, Shin then became Crown Prince to the throne.
When Shin's father became ill, there was a sense of urgency in the royal family that Shin should fulfill his destiny and marry, and eventually produce an heir. He wanted to propose to Hyo Rin, a girl he met through a chance meeting and whom he had a deep affection for. He proposes to her but unfortunately is turned down. She wanted to fulfill her dream as a world class ballerina and knew that she would have to give up her dreams if she said yes. With that, Shin begrudging agreed to the arranged marriage with Chae Kyung (Yoon Eun Hye) but still can't get Hyo Rin out of his mind and continues to stay close to her. During all this, Shin's cousin Yul returns to Korea after spending many years in London.
At first, Yul was polite to Chae Kyung whom Shin was pretty much ignoring because he felt sorry for her. But eventually, his sympathy for her turned into love, even after she married Shin. Confused by Shin's behavior towards her and her best efforts to try and make their marriage work, the attention she was receiving from Yul which she expected should have come from her husband, and created more turmoil and confusion within her. She tried to be understanding of him, knowing full well that both entered into this marriage not by choice but out of honor in fulfilling an agreement made long ago. But the more he pushed her away and shut her out, the more depressed she became and Yul conveniently was there to offer her a shoulder to cry on and support. Yul was open with his feelings to Chae Kyung which didn't make it any easier for her and Yul had hoped that in time, she would come to him openly. What he didn't count on was the Crown Princess falling in love with the Crown Prince.
In the meantime, Hyo Rin, realizing the mistake she made in rejecting Shin's proposal, began a campaign to win him back and away from Chae Kyung with the help of Yul's mother (unbeknownst to Yul). Yul's mother had other motives which not only involved restoring her son's rightful position as Crown Prince but to also gain revenge on Shin's family for being ousted from the Palace 15 years ago. Both Shin and Chae Kyung, because of their involvements with Hyo Rin and Yul, were being criticized by the media and their actions, while innocent, was being perceived negatively by the citizens of Korea which endangered the status of the royal family.
Eventually, Shin falls in love with her but doesn't readily and openly admit to his feelings for her. They have their good days and bad days and plenty of misunderstandings between the two of them. We find out later that Shin is not versed in the ways of love, however, I find that hard to believe, considering how differently he treats his wife and how he treat Hyo Rin.
If you'd like to experience Goong for yourself, you can watch it online at DramaFever. This version of Goong is not to be confused with Goong S which are two totally different storylines and each starring different actors. Goong S is not a continuation of Goong.
Until next drama...
The Drama Princess