K-Drama Review: South Korean Kingdom In The 21st Century Modern Era In ‘Princess Hours’

궁-Goong-Princess Hours
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Flashback to The Tenth (10th) most popular drama of 2006 – Princess Hours

Korean drama fans from the 2000s must know about this drama, and some of you have probably even been big fans of this drama. Based on Wikipedia, this drama was the tenth most popular drama of 2006, with a peak rating of 28.3%. It also became a hit across Asia, contributing to the Korean Wave.

How could this drama be so popular and even contribute to the increased spread of the Korean Wave? Let’s find the answer to these questions and the details of this drama in the article below.

Princess Hours: Review

궁-Goong-Princess Hours
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Princess Hours, or also known as Goong (궁) is a South Korean Television series that aired in 2006. It aired on MBC from January 11th to March 30th, 2006, on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 for a total of 24 episodes.

This very popular drama is based on the Korean manhwa Goong by Park So-hee. Princess Hours is set in an alternate, 21st-century Korea which has retained its monarchy and imperial family since 1945. The series focuses on the lives of Crown Prince Lee Shin (Ju Ji-hoon) of Korea, and his new bride, Shin Chae-kyeong (Yoon Eun-hye).

The series starts off with the news that Shin’s father, Emperor Lee Hyeon of Korea (Park Chan-hwan), is seriously ill. There is a grim outlook on the Emperor’s health, driving the imperial family to find Shin a suitable consort that will allow him to ascend to the throne if the situation requires. Despite being in love with the ambitious and talented ballerina Hyo-rin (Song Ji-hyo, whom he originally proposed to and was rejected), Prince Shin eventually marries a commoner to whom he was betrothed by his grandfather, the late Emperor Seongjo (Choi Bool-am), in an agreement with the girl’s grandfather. His new wife is the headstrong yet lovable Chae-kyeong, and despite initially feeling nothing for each other, love eventually blossoms between the two.

Matters are further complicated with the return of Lee Yul (Kim Jeong-hoon) and his mother, Lady Hwa-young (Shim Hye-jin), who was once the Crown Princess before the death of her husband, the late Crown Prince Lee Soo (Kim Sang-joong), and the older brother of the reigning Emperor. Yul and his mother were driven out of the palace sometime after the death of his father, and it was revealed that this was because the Emperor discovered an affair between Lady Hwa-young and the current Emperor, who is his father’s younger brother. Lady Hwa-young has returned to restore her son’s place in the line of succession to the throne, which she believes remains rightfully. A series of events befall the palace with the schemes Yul’s mother carries out, and these are further intensified by the various scandals involving the imperial family. Shin maintains an extramarital affair with his old flame, Hyo-rin, while Yul himself is developing feelings for Chae-kyeong. Things get out of hand and the imperial family takes matters into their own hands.

Princess Hours
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One of those sweet moments between Shin Chae-kyeong and Prince Lee Shin. In episode 11, after Lee Shin finished his official work in Thailand, Lee Shin returned back to the palace. In the evening, Lee Shin was lying on his bed while reading a book, Chae-kyeong came to Lee Shin’s room, to ask what he was doing and claimed to be cold. At that time, Chae-kyeong was not fit and sneezing. Seeing this, Lee Shin offers Chae-kyeong to go up to his bed so Chae-kyeong doesn’t feel cold.

Though initially embarrassed, finally Chae-kyeong climbs into Lee-shin’s bed and warms herself. While lying down, Chae-kyeong asked Lee Shin about whether it was true that she was supposed to get married to Yul. Hearing Chae-kyeong’s question, Lee Shin looked uncomfortable, but then answered, “Grandfather’s promise was to arrange a marriage with you and the next prince to be king. The crown grandson wasn’t me but Yul at that time. You were only his future wife for a period of time.” After hearing Lee Shin’s answer, Chae-kyeong answered, “I see. After hearing that, I’m a bit embarrassed to face him.” Then Lee Shin responded irritably, “Why? Are you regretting now?” but before Lee Shin finished his words, Chae-kyeong had fallen asleep beside him.

Seeing Chae-kyeong asleep, Lee Shin kept staring at her and fixing Chae-kyeong’s blanket to keep her warm. Lee Shin also rubbed Chae-kyeong’s head and intended to kiss Chae-kyeong’s forehead, but before that happened, Lee Shin’s mother, the queen came to Lee Shin’s room and ruined the mood.

Princess Hours
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In episode 15, there is a scene where Chae-kyeong disappears and can’t be contacted. The two princes go to look for Chae-kyeong and find her in the secret place of prince Yul.

Lee Shin, who learned that Chae-kyeong had seen a picture of her while in Thailand with Min Hyo-rin, took Chae-kyeong to a place and talked together. Lee Shin revealed that he was very worried when he discovered that Chae-kyeong was missing, but Chae-kyeong responded coldly by saying “Thanks for actually worrying about me.” Then Lee Shin said not to get hurt because of those meaningless pictures. Hearing this, Chae-kyeong got angry and said, “Even if it’s not me, I thought you’d be more worried about Hyo-rin. You probably really never had a serious relationship with anyone.” Then Chae-kyeong continued “I really feel sorry for butting into the relationship between you two, when I moved to the palace, I needed someone to rely on, no matter how cruel you were and how mean you acted, sometimes when you were beside me, I was happy and sometimes it gave me courage. But now, I no longer feel that way.”

Hearing this, Lee Shin asked what she meant, and then Chae-kyeong revealed, “I feel exhausted by your side.” And then Chae-kyeong got out of the car. While chasing Chae-kyeong, Lee Shin also got out of the car, then Chae-kyeong said, “You said to wait for 2 to 3 years. Okay, Let’s divorce after 2 to 3 years.” Lee Shin was shocked to hear that, and said, “What?! What if I refuse?” And then Chae-kyeong answered, “I’m not a doll who will follow all of your biddings. So, those days that you wanted to go to Hyo-rin, I think it’s better to respect each other’s limits or else… we might want to forget the past memories we had.”

Then Lee Shin said, “Is living inside the palace that hard for you? If you really want a divorce, then I’ll divorce you.” Hearing this Chae-kyeong returned angrily and said Lee Shin was the first to bring up the divorce, then Lee Shin explained that at that time, Lee Shin did not like Chae-kyeong. But he sometimes thinks that he can’t be able to live without Chae-kyeong, because the presence of Chae-kyeong has become a habit for him. But after hearing a long explanation about why Lee Shin felt, Chae-kyeong answered, “So that’s it. You can fix habits.” Then Lee Shin replied, “How can you fix habits? You should at least tell me why you left before.”

But Chae-kyeong answered, “I don’t know, a know-it-all like you should go and find it yourself. You didn’t even have a single bit of sincerity, you are a standard non-cell biological animal!” Chae-kyeong turned and walked away, but as soon as Chae-kyeong turned around, Lee Shin hugged her from behind and asked her to stay that way for a while, then both of them embraced.

Princess Hours
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In the last episode, according to everyone’s expectations, Chae-kyeong is free from the strict court regulations and lives as herself where she can ride and do things like a normal person. Chae-kyeong also lived happily with Lee-shin and at the end of the scene showed that Chae-kyeong who remarried Lee Shin in a church and suddenly felt sick, gave a clue that she was pregnant. Happy Ending 🙂

Princess Hours: The Cast

궁-Goong-Princess Hours
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Of course, the success of this drama is inseparable from the hard work of the actors and actresses who were able to provide the best quality of their acting. This can be proved by seeing that the characters they portray look very natural and not awkward at all. The acting of the actors and actresses in the drama Princess Hours makes the storyline very lively as if the characters they portray are their true selves. Let’s get acquainted with the actors and actresses who play a role in this drama.

궁-윤은혜-Yoon Eun-hye
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Yoon Eun-hye as Shin Chae-kyeong

A normal high school girl, who has an interest in drawing and art. Though seemingly immature, she is kind-hearted and honest. She is betrothed to Crown Prince Lee Shin, who attends the same high school as her, by the late Emperor Seongjo of Korea, who was best friends with her grandfather. Though she was initially annoyed by her seemingly unemotional new husband, Chae-kyeong gradually falls in love with him, not knowing that he harbors similar feelings. She sees Lee Yul as a close friend. At the end of the series, it is revealed that Chae-kyeong is pregnant with Lee Shin’s heir.

주지훈-Ju Ji-hoon
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Ju Ji-hoon as Crown Prince Lee Shin

A smug, indifferent and insensitive man, who is actually lonely on the inside. After getting rejected by his girlfriend Min Hyo-rin, he decides to proceed with his arranged marriage to Shin Chae-kyeong. Though he was initially annoyed by her naivete and enthusiasm, he gradually begins to open his heart to her. He owns a teddy bear called Alfred, the only ‘companion’ that allows him to let his guard down, and which serves as a focal point throughout the series. He quickly becomes rivals with Prince Lee Yul, who not only fights for the throne but also Chae-kyung’s affection.

김정훈-Kim Jeong-hoon
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Kim Jeong-hoon as Prince Lee Yul

The son of Crown Prince Soo. After his father’s death, he was exiled to the United Kingdom with his mother, Lady Hwa-young. After returning to Korea, he fell in love with Shin Chae-kyeong, who was initially betrothed to him. A kind-hearted and gentle person, Yul was not interested in fighting for the throne. He is best friends with Prince William of Wales.

송지효-Song Ji-hyo
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Song Ji-hyo as Min Hyo-rin

A talented and gifted ballet dancer. She is Shin’s girlfriend but rejected his proposal as she did not wish to give up on her dreams of becoming a star ballerina. When she sees Chae-kyeong and Shin’s wedding and how much Chae-kyeong is loved by the people (similar to the rapport of Diana, Princess of Wales), she regrets her hasty decision and does everything to win Shin back, including engineering a “chance” meeting in Thailand. She ends up hurting herself, driving her to attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. She later recognizes that Shin does truly love Chae-kyeong, and ultimately concedes and instead decides to concentrate on her career as a ballerina.

Kim Hye-Ja
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Kim Hye-ja as the Dowager Empress/Tae Hoo mama

Park Chan-hwan
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Park Chan-hwan as Emperor Lee Hyeon of Korea

심혜진-Shim Hye-jin
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Shim Hye-jin as Lady Hwa-young, Yul’s mother, and the former Crown Princess

윤유선-Yoon Yoo-sun
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Yoon Yoo-sun as the Empress Consort/Wang Hoo mama

Lee-Yoon-ji
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Lee Yoon-ji as Princess Hye-myung

Kang Nam-gil
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Kang Nam-gil as Chae-kyeong’s father, unemployed, really good at cooking

Im Ye-jin
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Im Ye-jin as Chae-kyeong’s mother, works as sales insurance

Kim Seok
Channel-Korea

Kim Seok as Shin Chae-joon, Chae-kyeong’s younger brother, obsessed with having a muscular body.