Princess Hours (Hangul: 궁; Hanja: 宫; RR: Goong; lit. “Palace”) is a 2006 South Korean romantic comedy television series, starring Yoon Eun-hye, Ju Ji-hoon, Kim Jeong-hoon and Song Ji-hyo. It is based on Korean manhwa Goong by Park So-hee. It aired on Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) from January 11 to March 30, 2006 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 for 24 episodes.
Princess Hours was one of MBC’s most popular dramas of 2006, second only to Jumong.
Overall, the show was the tenth most popular drama of 2006, according to TNS Media. Due to its success, a spin-off series, Goong S, was broadcast on January 10, 2007.
Set in an alternate 21st-century reality where Korea possesses a royal family, since 1945 to present, this show revolves around the lives of the Crown Prince Lee Shin, and his new bride, Chae-kyeong.
The series starts off with the news that the King, Shin’s father, is very ill. There is a grim outlook on the King’s health, the royal family scrambles to find a wife for Shin, so as to allow him to take over the royal throne if the situation requires. Despite being in love with another girl, the ambitious and talented ballerina Hyo-rin whom Shin initially proposed to (she rejects him to pursue her ballet dreams), he eventually marries a commoner to whom he was betrothed by his late grandfather in an old agreement with the girl’s grandfather. He marries the headstrong yet lovable Chae-kyeong after Hyo-rin’s rejection. Despite initially feeling nothing for Chae-kyeong, love eventually blossoms between the couple as time passes.
In the meantime, however, matters are further complicated with the return of Lee Yul and his mother Lady Hwa-Young, who was once the Crown Princess before the death of her husband, the late Crown Prince, older brother of the current King. Yul and his mother were chased out of the palace some time after the death of his father, and it is later revealed that this was due to the King’s discovery of an affair between Yul’s mother and the current King who was his father’s younger brother. Yul’s mother has returned with a sinister motive in mind; to restore her son back to the throne, which, in her mind, is rightfully his. A series of events befall the palace with the schemes Yul’s mother carries out. It is further intensified by the various scandals involving the royal family, which are inclusive of the Shin’s continuing relationship with his old flame Hyo-rin, and the budding love Yul develops for Chae-kyeong, his cousin’s new-found bride. Things get out of hand and the royal family takes matters into their own hands.
- Yoon Eun-hye as Shin Chae-kyeong (신채경)
- Shin Chae-kyeong is a very creative and outgoing, normal high school girl. She attends the same school as Lee Shin, the Crown Prince of Korea. Her grandfather was best friends with the former king. To honour his friend, the late king dictated that Chae-kyeong is to become the Crown Princess, meaning that she is to marry whoever is the Crown Prince at the designated time of the marriage (Lee Shin). Although she often seems immature and irritating, she is a kindhearted, innocent, honest person. Often called “pig” by her younger brother, Chae-kyeong marries the Prince because of the promised arrangement made between her and Shin’s grandfather. Her initial reaction to Lee Shin is one of irritation as she does not want to marry this young and to the unemotional Crown Prince. However, she falls in love with him since the earlier part of the series, not knowing that he, in turn, starts to feel the same way, and is revealed toward the end of the episodes. Although she sees Lee Yul only as a close friend and cousin-in-law, he falls in love with her.
- Ju Ji-hoon as Crown Prince Lee Shin (이 신)
- The Crown Prince of Korea, Lee Shin, is seen as a smug, indifferent, insensitive young man. After getting rejected by his girlfriend when he proposes to her, he decides to go along with his elders’ arranged marriage with Shin Chae-kyeong. At first, he is irritated by her naivety and enthusiasm, but as he recognises how genuinely sweet she is, he begins to open his heart to her, and falls in love. Throughout the series, it becomes obvious that he is just a lonely, sensitive, warm and kind young man. He also owns a teddy bear, Alfred, the only ‘companion’ that allows him to let his guard down, which serves as a focal point throughout the series. As his cousin re-enters the picture after being forced out of the country many years earlier, the Prince quickly butts head with him, as Lee Yul is a contender not only for the throne, but also for the Crown Princess-to-be Chae-kyeong’s affection.
- Kim Jeong-hoon (김정훈), as Prince Yul [Hwi-Sung Dae Goon]
- Yul left Korea at the age of 5. He was supposed to be the next Crown Prince (behind his father), but his father, then Crown Prince, died in a car accident and he and his mother were kicked out of the palace to England. He falls in love with Chae-kyeong and tells her that he was her fiancé but because of the accident, he was not able to. His mother is trying to get justice and revenge for him. Towards the end of the series, he tells his mother to stop and he feels tired. He is also best friends with Prince William; which makes them call each other “hyung”.
- Song Ji-hyo as Min Hyo-rin (민효린)
- Hyo-rin is a talented and gifted ballet dancer. She is beautiful, intelligent, accomplished—basically, perfect in every way possible, but she is also poor. Prince Shin and her ballet instructor paid for her tuition fees at school. In the beginning, she is Shin’s girlfriend, and he proposes to her. However, she rejects him, because she does not wish to give up 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 Diana, Princess of Wales), she regrets her hasty decision, and does everything she can to draw Shin back to her, including a “chance” meeting in Thailand, but simply ends up hurting herself, resulting in attempted suicide by pill overdose. Later, however, she recognises that Shin does truly love Chae-kyeong, being the first one to know what Shin feels for her. She ultimately gives up on him and instead decides to pursue and concentrate on her career as a ballerina.
- Shim Hye-jin (심혜진), as Lady Hwa-yong (Yul’s mother)
- After being kicked out of the palace. she and her son Yul go to England. Years later she returns with a sinister plan to get back the throne. She causes chaos by releasing photos to the press of Hyo-rin and Shin in Thailand on a date and creating numerous rumors about the Crown Prince (and Crown Princess) to doubt him of being a suitable Crown Prince and a heir to the throne.
- Kim Hye-ja (김혜자), as the Queen Mother/Tae Hoo mama (Yul and Shin’s grandmother)
- Park Chan-hwan (박찬환), as King Lee Hyeon (Shin’s father)
- Yoon Yoo-seon (윤유선), as the Queen/Wang Hoo mama (Shin’s mother)
- Lee Yoon-ji (이윤지) as Princess Hye-myung (Shin’s sister)
- Kang Nam-gil (강남길) as Chae-kyeong’s father
- Im Ye-jin (임예진) as Chae-kyeong’s mother
- Kim Suk as Shin Chae-joon (Chae-kyeong’s younger brother)
- Jeon Ji Ae as Lee Kang-hyun
- Nah Eun-kyeong (나은경), as Kim Soon-young
- Dan Ji (단지) as Yoon Hee-soong
- Choi Seong-joon (최성준), as Kang-in (강인)
- Lee Yong-joo (이용주), as Jang-kyung (장경)
- Uhm Seong-mo (엄성모), as Ryu-hwan (류환)
- Lee Ho-jae (이호재), as Gong Nae-kwan (공 내관)
- Jeon Su-yeon (전수연), as Choi Sang Gung (최 상궁)
- Kim Sang-joong (김상중), as Lee Soo (Yul’s deceased father)
- Choi Bool-am (최불암), as Emperor Seongjo (성조 황제) (Shin and Yul’s deceased grandfather)
Awards and nominations
- 2006 Seoul Drama Awards: Best Art Director (Min Uhn-ok)
- 2006 MBC Drama Awards: Best New Actor (Ju Ji-hoon)
- 2006 MBC Drama Awards: Best New Actress (Yoon Eun-hye)
A spin-off series, Goong S, revolves around a young worker at a Chinese restaurant who suddenly discovers that he is a member of the royal family and subsequently enters the palace. Hwang mentioned that he would be looking for Yoon Eun Hye‘s male counterpart, of sorts. This spinoff has no relation to the first season since there is a new cast and plot.
In October 2006, Korean pop star Se7en was chosen to play the leading role in the spinoff. He will play the character of “Yi Hoo”, while others in the drama’s second season include Heo Yi Jae (who plays Yang Soon-Ae), Kang Doo (who plays Yi Joon), and Park Shin-hye (who plays Shin Sae-Ryung). Many of the supporting cast, including those who played the royal family, are expected to join Goong S. Filming started in November 2006.
The name for the spin-off changed from Goong 2 to Goong S – Prince Hours (궁 S) due to copyright infringement problems. Filming continued despite Group 8 facing lawsuits due to the unlawful use of Goong in the title.However, MBC has looked into this issue with Eight Peaks and have stated that the channel station and original production company both own the rights of the name.Goong S will still be used for this season, with the subtitle of “Prince Who“. Goong S was broadcasted from January 10 to March 15, 2007, with only a few minor characters returning for this spinoff.
This popular 2006 TV drama was later adapted into a hit musical titled Goong: Musical (Hangul: 뮤지컬 궁). Producer Song Byung-joon, CEO of production company Group Eight collaborated again with TV drama writer In Eun-ah for the stage rendition, then brought in theater director Kim Jae-sung. The creative team constructed flamboyant stage sets, which were visualized through digital devices to show off the dramatic effects and fantasies on stage. A variety of music genres from the traditional court music, classics, hip-hop and jazz was used, along with ballet, court dances and b-boying.
Kim Kyu-jong of SS501 played Shin during the musical’s run at the Minami-za Kabuki Theater in Kyoto, Japan in June-July 2011, and Kangin of Super Junior alternated with Sungmo of Supernova to take over the role at the Gotanda U-Port Hall in Tokyo, Japan in September 2012.