Goong Review

Happy girl meets unhappy guy who becomes a happy guy because of happy girl


Though “To the Beautiful You” was the first drama I ever completed, Goong (which I won’t put in quotation marks) was the first drama I’d ever seen. You always remember your first…haha. I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw it. Probably early high school. For most of my peers, this is normally the drama that got them into dramas in the first place. For at least one celebrity, watching Goong is how they started learning Korean. But because it was so enormously popular, it got taken down before I could complete it. Now many years later, I decided re-watch the whole thing.

Holy turnips it blew me away. Not to say that there weren’t any bad parts, but it left a far greater impression upon me than it had when I’d first seen it. I bet it’s because I just have more hormones now. I feel like I’m better with pros/cons charts, so here you go. And of course, spoilers aplenty.

What I didn’t like:
-Repetitive plots.
How many times does Shin end things with Hyorin for good? How often does Yul confess to Chaegyong? Will they never make up their minds? I mean I can understand since I hear the drama was supposed to be 14 episodes before the popularity pushed it to 24 and they had to find some way to drag it on. But maybe a shorter span would’ve benefited the plot. Perhaps they were trying for realism in a way since letting go is often harder than we need it to be. And I suppose I can’t really complain about their indecisiveness since I myself change my mind about as often as I change my clothes.

-Shin’s big sister. I felt like they could’ve done more with her. She just seemed like some stock character for the smart and pretty noona who conveniently was able to take on the crown. I felt like I was supposed to admire her for being intelligent and all, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything more than mild annoyance because she didn’t have any stated flaws.

-Chaegyong’s family. They had their moments, but I just thought that they lacked some serious noonchi. I couldn’t really understand why Chaegyong missed them as much as she did, or why she often called out for her mom in her sleep. The mom didn’t really seem like the coddling type.

-The End. To me the ending was a bit of a puzzler. Why exactly Chaegyong had to leave Korea and for how long wasn’t really clear to me. The totally abrupt ending is somewhat understandable as well since everyone thought a sequel was coming. We were sadly very wrong, but that’s what fanfiction is for. In fact, I found this series because of fanfiction.

What I Liked:
-The Pictures where they imitated the manhwa.

-The Soundtrack. Despite the fact that it sounds kind of Irish at some points, it’s beautiful. I never really realized that the celli had such a warm, round solidity in its tone. I’ll probably try to find the CD while I’m here so I can put it on my iPod. It also wasn’t as jarring as “To the Beautiful You” (comparisons are inevitable) where the mood whip-lashed you more often than it needed to.

-The Clothes. Some of the designs were taken straight out of the manhwa! Some of Chaegyong’s clothes were flat out gorgeous and reminded me a lot of some of the things I’d seen Kate Middleton wearing. Not to mention the lovely and super elaborate hanboks.

-The Love Square. Unlike “To the Beautiful You,” I could actually understand how the characters fell for each other and see sort of when the they did.

I imagine Hyorin finds similarities in Shin since they’re both unhappy with their homes and their lives. I think they could’ve had a shot together, but I’ve found upon past observation that when unhappiness brings two together, it’s often what also pulls them apart. Like the song. Not healthy.

For Yul, he doesn’t really have friends, and he doesn’t seem like he’s had a girlfriend before judging by how his mom reacts when she realizes she’s not first in his life anymore (Their relationship had some rather incestuous undertones to me). He’s also never had a stable life since his dad died, he lost his crown, got kicked out of the country, and to top it off his mother tried to kill herself at least once. Then out comes Chaegyong who’s pretty much the embodiment of affection and stability. No wonder he’s a goner. Though honestly even if he hadn’t had a seriously unhappy childhood, I think he would’ve fallen for her anyway. I think guys like happy girls.

Once Chaegyong remarks to Yul that the only reasons she really had for falling for Shin was because she was lonely, saw him everyday, and she falls for people easily. She could have loved Yul if she’d met him first. I was pretty surprised by this since it’s probably the wisest thing I’ve ever heard a drama character say. I honestly believe that we could can fall in love with anyone if we see them often enough (Mere exposure effect and Stockholm Syndrome). But that’s another post, and probably on a different blog.

Shin’s reasons are probably a combination of both Yul’s and Chaegyoung’s. He doesn’t get much love from home, he sees Chaegyoung all the time, and she’s pretty much hope for a happier life. Down he goes.

-The Friends. Not so much the comic relief friends, but I did appreciate the insight and blunt humor the glasses girl brought.

-The Visuals. Made my eyes happy. I was also pleased to see the Korean style watercolors in their fancy arts high school.

-The Teddy Bears. At the end of every episode, the key scenes were reenacted with Teddy bear pictures. I heard you can see them at the Teddy Bear Museum at Namsan Tower.

In the end, this drama will probably always have a special place in my little stone heart. Exploring Korea definitely helped me to appreciate the drama better since I’ve visited Gyongbukgoong (five minutes away from me by bus) where I think the characters are supposed to live. I was also happy to see Namsan Tower in the backgrounds. It’s kind of comforting for me to see Namsan Tower anywhere I am. At one point they mention that Shin has some activity at U-plex and that’s just a 10-15 minute walk away in Shinchon. Unless there’s another U-plex that I don’t know of.

And watching it was also kind of sad too. Since I learned of the tragic ways the Korean royalty met its end, I kind of wanted to believe that somehow they were still alive. That somehow either Japan never took over, or that Korea might have modernized itself in time. I think maybe if the royalty existed today, I could see it happening the way I saw it in Goong. Beloved figureheads with no actual power trying to keep tradition alive. Maybe if they’d been around today I might’ve been able to spot them on streets walking around the way I sometimes see celebrities.


4 Responses to Goong Review

  1. Melonpop says: i watched “goong s” thinking it was the sequal to goong. it was just a spinoff (according to wikipedia). i still kept watching it because i like the main character, seven (yes, his name is a number). but i lost interest after the second episode. dont waste your time.

  2. Caitlyn says:

    I recently watched this, after hearing about it for years, and everyone telling me to watch it. I wonder if, had I watched it as one of my first dramas, i would have liked it more. I’m not sure. It was much too long. And that’s not their fault, it’s the idiot studio for giving it an extension (it went from 20 to 24), but it doesn’t change how the drama ended. Plus, now Yoon Eun Hye (in my head) has to leave her boyfriend for no good reason and go overseas/away from him. Lol, i wonder if she realises that she has a common thread to the shows she does. Anyway, back to Goong. It was much too repetitive, as you say. And I got so sick of Hyorin! She dumped him, and then decided she wanted him back, even though he was already married when she decided that! She was such a bland character, too, and I was so glad when she finally left.

    I thought it was cute how Shin’s friend ended up having a crush on one of Chaekyung’s friends. They were just time fillers, lol, but the scenes that we got were pretty fun.

    I do think Yul liked Chaekyung too quickly. He hadn’t even met her properly before he’d decided he liked her. They should’ve had them meet and become friends before he started making “i’m jealous” faces to Shin. Also, his reason for wanting to become King was because he thought he and his Mum had been treated unfairly as a kid. I totally get that. But why does he blame Shin for that? He said that it wasn’t enough for Shin to give up the throne. Yul wanted to take it from him. What did Shin ever do to Yul that would make him think like that? Even the mum never really seemed to talk about hating Shin, which might have given me a reason why Yul disliked him. I guess it was just because Shin had what Yul should have had, but just that doesn’t seem enough.

    I did like Yul though. Even when he was being a bit manipulative sometimes, he was never really that bad. He genuinely cared for Chaekyung. And he stood up to his mum in the end, even though his Mum was the only other person he cared about. He cared too much, considering what a brainwashing bitch she was.

    I also liked that comment of Chaekyung’s, that she liked Shin because she was always around him and she felt sorry for him. It did make me feel for Yul though.

    I ended up liking Goong, but not loving it. If it was a 16 episode drama, I think it would have been fantastic, probably one of the best. But being 24, it just dragged everything out too much.

    • matoki says:

      Haha thanks for such an awesome long reply! After reading another blog or two, I think I have a little more sympathy for Hyorin now. I think when you’re a senior in high school it’s pretty hard to consider marriage straight out of the blue. I know I had dreams at that age too, and I wonder if I could’ve given them up for a guy. Besides, she was apparently good enough to get a full scholarship to the Royal Ballet School and that’s pretty beast (I’m a balletomane haha). I do agree she should’ve backed off earlier though.

      Besides dreams, Shin didn’t even propose out of love. He even says that he’s only proposing because he’d rather marry someone he knows over a stranger. I believe he also described them as friends. And Hyorin at one point said that she never once felt like his girlfriend when she was with him. I feel like I’d be pretty insulted by that, so I’m certain I would’ve rejected him too. Seriously, what a blow to someone’s ego. And her getting jealous after the wedding? Well we always want things more when we can’t have them ;D Maybe she was hoping Shin would care enough for her to persist instead of immediately dropping her in rather cold indifference. Now that I think about it, that’s gotta hurt…date someone for two years, and they clearly don’t care enough to give you a half-hearted proposal or even bother to try again when you reject them once.

      For Shin’s friends, I thought they didn’t reach their redeeming qualities till near the end. I wasn’t even sure why Shin kept them around until they expressed loyalty to him in the end and developed their humorous little crushes ❤

      I think Yul just wanted to fall for someone, and Chaekyoung just happened to be there with all the qualities he lacked in his youth. Sometimes when that I happens I feel we romanticize the object of our affection into having traits they do not possess. So I could understand why he fell as fast and as hard as he did. Why Yul hated Shin? Once Shin had a flashback of when he called Yul by his name instead of his proper title and baby Yul completely lost it and told him he'd kill him if he said that again. My guess is just that it's a pride issue, especially if they weren't in an amicable sort of relationship.

      I too was fond of Yul to some extent. I thought he had cute little expressions, and there were times when I wanted to reach through the screen and cuddle him or ruffle his hair :3 He sort of reminded me of a stuffed animal. But what kept me from loving the character was sort of for the same reason as Hyorin…..he really should've backed off earlier. Shin even mentions the selfishness of this a few times to him. If he and Chaekyong pursued a relationship, Chaekyoung would definitely have more to lose considering the major blow her reputation could take. I wonder if she'd ever live it down considering how famous and admired she was all over the world. I haven't watched the entire series of You're Beautiful yet, but from what little I've seen of their Nice Guy was that he actually respected the heroine's boundaries by keeping his feelings hidden to avoid causing her undue stress. She wasn't even in a relationship at the time, and he had every right to confess to her. But he was patient and considerate enough to do otherwise. I'm considering not even going through with that drama, because I cannot fathom why she'll end up (probably) with the angsty dude. I can even feel my contacts fogging up in my anger haha.

      And while I did express my meloncholy from the lack of a sequel, I do think now that it probably wouldn't have been too great. Especially since Yul and Hyorin were going to return. I probably would've hit my head on my desk if they continued the same issues that ran on for way too long in this series.

      …..I also can't believe I wrote this essay, but thanks again for commenting.

  3. Pooja says:

    Your review of Goong is spot on. Having just watched the drama, its really fresh in my mind. Shin -Chaegyung couple has become one of the top romantic couples I have watched so far in all the dramas (Japanese and other languages).

    Regarding Yul, I never warmed up to him from the beginning. He looked shady right from the start. He was bitter about the past (though his mother was probably more than him) and he was power hungry. That was evident when he expressed his opinions about how the monarchy should be after that family dinner they had. Then again he stressed that point before the council of elders. So he was hardly the considerate type. His obsession with Chaegyung was just that…an infatuated obsession. If he wouldn’t have had to give up his position as Crown Prince then she would have been his bride. So she was yet another ‘thing’ that Shin ‘took’ from him. He got close to her because of his agenda to take over the crown. He might have developed feelings for her but still they weren’t because he saw her as Shin did. He did not want to get her hurt but in the end he hurt her more than anyone. Admittedly he was just 19 so all the maturity that comes with age regarding deeper feelings and love was not yet there. The actor who played Yul did a fantastic job with the part though.

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