Prince Hours (Goong S)


Reviewed by: sukting

December 19, 2007

Rating: three

Foreword
Alert – this story has nothing to do with Goong. It is also an imaginative story which has nothing to do with the comic. The producer only wants to eat on the popularity on the former drama. What does Goong S mean? It means start, special and secret (Xu’s true parentage). This is the promise given but can this meet our expectations?

Story

Kang Xu works in ‘gong’ Chinese restaurant opened by his uncle, Shang Zhe as a delivery boy. Although he doesn’t have much money, he has a group of friends. He boasts to be the most handsome delivery boy. He often has conflicts with a rival restaurant but he manages to use his wits to solve the problems. He cheats with his skateboard since he can’t catch up with Huo Li’s new motorcycle. Both often compete to be the winner to provide meals for the residents for a month.

But he never expects his life to get complicated when his parentage is revealed. He is the Lord Xiao Ren’s son. His father died before he was born and his mother also died 5 years ago. His own father doesn’t even know his existence. Lord Xiao Cheng is his father’s twin younger brother and his uncle. According to his mother’s wish, he is to be taken back into the palace when he reaches 20 years old. The queen sends her chief attendant to fetch him. But there are also 3 men who try to kidnap him. (Se7en shows off his motorcycle skills and fighting skills here.)

Luckily Shang Qi saves him on time and sends him to the palace. Lord Xiao Cheng treats him like his own son and he stays with him temporarily. The queen is in her early thirties and is still single. All clansmen worry about not having heirs so they want Jun, her cousin to be the next successor (naming him as the royal brother or crown prince). But the queen dislikes his ambitious father and her uncle, Lord Xiao Zhuang. Moreover, some question on Xiao Zhuang’s status to be the emperor in the past because his mother is a concubine. Xiao Cheng has no children so she sets hope on her long-lost cousin, Xu.

The queen gets Lord Xiao Ren’s ring and asks Xu to take out his mother’s ring. The two combine to be one. They are his parents’ wedding rings. The yare engraved with the words, feng lai jun xiang yi (which literacy means that both miss each other when the wind comes.) So Xu’s identity is confirmed. His handphone keeps ringing as Huo Li keeps calling him. The queen wants him to forget his normal life. The queen mother comes early next morning. Xu doesn’t have enough time to dress up and only puts a suit jacket over his pyjamas to receive her! (That is a funny sight.)

The queen mother is an ex-stage actress and knows that he can’t adapt to the life fast. So she assures him that he can come to look for her anytime. He has to learn court manners under a strict Court Lady Han. Even though he hardly knows etiquette, the queen gets him to attend a martial arts performance as he is interested in it. The queen mother and Xiao Cheng feel that she is overly anxious.

He is attracted by the intelligent and beautiful, Shi Ling. (I must say that she looks attractive with her swords.) When he is about to talk to her, he knocks into his primary school classmate, Shun Yi. Shun Yi mocks at him for being a pumpkin (they are used to pick on each other when young.) to attend the session. Jun also demonstrates martial arts and Xu is impressed.

The clumsy Shun Yi knocks into Jun. The palace clansmen can’t accept the intrusion of another prince for the crown prince competition - especially when Xu’s mother is a commoner. Shi Ling is Jun’s future fiancé. Xiao Zhuang assures a fluttered Jun that he will assist him to get the throne by all ugly means.

The queen introduces Xu to all. He becomes a laughing stock when someone calls him to order noodles. (His ring tone is a very funny one – brother, do you wish to order noodles?) The queen is angry over it and Xiao Zhuang has never been happier. The queen mother laments that she has missed a good show but the queen finds the consequence too serious. (How can such a playful woman become the queen mother?!)

So his cell phone is confiscated as he is forced to learn. Xu has a tough time as he can’t contact his friends. He has no choice but to approach Shun Yi. When she refuses, he snatches her handphone to call them! She is later tongue-tied to know that he is a prince! Shi Ling isn’t affected by the threat in Jun’s position. Jun is often reminded of 3 things since young – mannerism, sincerity and power.

Shi Ling brings Xu to the academy and he makes a fool of himself again as he is framed to be a peeping tom near the women’s changing room. Shun Yi keeps making mistakes to make Jun smile – he suspects that she is interested in him. The queen mother plays with Xu’s handphone and the caller asks if it is ‘gong’(the name of the restaurant) to order noodles. The queen mother thinks that it is the latest model. (Can’t believe she gets tricked too!)

Xu’s friends are harassed by Huo Li’s gang. Xu requests her to sneak him out of the palace. The photos are taken by the press. Both gangs end up fighting but Xu manages to save Huo Li from the police. They become friends and combine their forces. The queen is about to reveal Xu’s actual identity to the officials but his disappearance causes a big fuss. So the declaration is postponed. To make his identity confirmed, he needs 6 votes but he has only 3 – from Xiao Cheng, PM Han and the loyal officer. The queen is angry that she still needs Xiao Zhuang’s help to approve it. Rong Nan wishes Shun Yi to get Xu back soon.

Xu’s friends do not believe that he spends the past few days in the palace. Xu sighs that they have to get more orders on their own now but they think that he is joking. Xiao Zhuang is happy over Xu’s disappearance while the queen is worried. Jun learns that Shun Yi helps Xu out. Both sides are out to get Xu. Shi Yan follows Shang Qi but is nearly discovered.

Shun Yi wants Xu to return but he is indifferent. She scolds him for being irresponsible so he obeys her. PM Han announces Xu’s status but the clansmen are angry with Xu for leaving the palace without permission. The queen is worried with Xiao Zhuang’s spies around. The two return but the palace guards do not recognize Xu to block him out. When the chief attendant is out to receive him, he is missing again.
Shun Yi is detained for helping Xu so she cries and worries that she will lose her job. Jun consoles her.

Shi Ling is ambitious and gets close to Xu upon knowing that he is also a contender to the throne. She brings him out. Jun isn’t happy to see Shi Ling with Xu. An outstanding man must also have an outstanding woman. He sneers at him for causing his people to lose faith in him. Xu doesn’t know who Jun is and both nearly fight. The chief attendant stops them and reminds both of their status. Xu then realizes that Jun is his older cousin. The queen comes to the restaurant to look for him.

His friends finally believe that he is a prince. Seeing that she supports him, Xu is touched and returns with her. Xiao Zhuang’s men manage to take photos of her to send to the press. They even dig out Xu’s mother’s past of being chased out of the palace because of a monetary scandal. Xu wants to know the truth but the queen doesn’t tell him. Xu requests the queen mother’s help to release Shun Yi. She is still angry with him and splashes him with black ink. But it lands on Jun’s shirt.

Shun Yi wants Jun to remove it so that she can wash it. He removes his shirt, teases her and kisses her, causing her to fall. (I shake my head – this arrangement is too deliberate.) Xu sees this and gets jealous. (Many cited over the net that they find Prince Xin’s long legs nicer to look at when he takes a bath in Goong than to look at the two princes’ torsos here.)

Xiao Zhuang suddenly suggests letting Xu’s name to be included in the royal scroll. The exchange is to allow Jun to stay in the palace too to give him a better chance to gain more support. Xu returns to the palace but misses Shun Yi. The queen brings Xu to watch a ballet performance but there are strikes, protesting against Xu to be the prince.

Xu doesn’t know how to react but the queen helps him. Xu is uninterested in the performance and falls asleep. The academy arranges the queen to meet Professor Alexander to arrange Xu to study there. He is her ex-boyfriend who graduates with her together from Oxford university but pretends not to know her. As Xu will be the closer successor, many women wish to befriend him. Luckily Shi Ling helps him.

Shun Yi isn’t punished but becomes an actual attendant after promotion. She mistakens it to be due to Jun’s help. She and Rong Nan are arranged to be the princes’ attendants. Shun Yi decides to cut off all ties with Xu. Shang Qi sends Xu’s things to the palace – that includes his motorcycle and the delivery box. Xu places his mother’s photo near his bed. He learns martial arts after her death and Shun Yi pities him.

Xu doesn’t feel lonely as Shang Qi is his kin and he also has a family now. Shi Ling congratulates Jun for getting into the palace due to Xu’s existence. She notices that Jun treats Shun Yi differently from other attendants. He admits that she is cute to him.(Sorry but far from it, to me….) Xu doesn’t understand the lessons so he feigns to be sick. Shun Yi believes that he is homesick so she takes care of him. He falls on top of her when she tries to get the imperial physician for him.

Han sees this and warns to banish her out of the palace the next time. She forces him to study. Han is also the queen mother’s instructor when she was newly wed. Jun isn’t happy when the queen mother comments that Shi Ling matches Xu well. The queen mother wants Rong Nan and Shun Yi to serve Xu well. She also discloses that Xu helps her. Jun isn’t pleased that Shun Yi keeps from him that she knows Xu well. Shun Yi requests him to keep it a secret from the rest as she wants to keep her job.

Shi Ling finds that Xu is very concerned over Shun Yi. He tells her what happens and she thinks that they share an intimate relationship. Xu wants Shun Yi to looks for library materials. She isn’t allowed to enter but Xu helps her to prevent scolded by Guo. She is touched and Jun gets jealous. Jun is surprised that Shi Ling knows their past too. Shun Yi thanks Xu formally. Xu is overjoyed that she still keeps the bear that he gives her when young. Both become closer after this.

The seniors at the academy look down on Xu and Xu gets troubled. He kisses Shun Yi when he gets drunk. He can’t remember this and even tells her that it isn’t intentional if he does anything when drunk. This hurts her. The clansmen want the queen to get a successor soon. She wants more time for Xu to learn. Xiao Zhuang wants to bring forward Jun’s wedding plans. Xin knows that the queen wants Xu more than Jun so he isn’t keen. Shi Ling becomes Xu’s understudy.

When both are having a meal, Shi Ling deliberately makes life difficult for Shun Yi. (To tell the truth, I am so happy that I nearly want to open a bottle of red wine to celebrate! This attendant can deliberately cough to make noise to get their attention when the food is ready. Does she know who the real master is?! ) Shun Yi scolds Shi Ling behind her back. Jun overhears her and teases her about the kiss. Shun Yi hopes that he will not joke with her again as her job is at stake. (Then does that mean that she can badmouth others?!)

Shun Yi accidentally spills coffee on her dress and scalds her hand. (Too bad it isn’t burned….) Xu gets anxious and quickly brings her to pour cold water over it. Seeing him so concerned over her, Shi Ling sulks. (Se7en does this scene well but unfortunately his electric currents are wasted on her…) Jun passes Shun Yi’s room and sees her wanting to bandage with one hand. He quickly walks in to help her.

He tells her that he doesn’t joke easily and is truly interested in her. He apologises for making her unhappy. (Kang Do also does well in this scene.) Xu comes with the bandages happily and is down when seeing them together. He takes to heart that they become close. (All will feel sorry on how his expression can change within seconds…but why can’t Yi Jae act properly?!)

Xu practices a script with his classmates and recalls the kiss. He comes to look for her but Jun brings her out to an exhibition. He seizes the chance to take photos of her. (She gives the most unnatural and fake smile that I have ever seen, trying too hard to act cute.) Shi Yan doesn’t report this to Xiao Zhuang so he thinks that things go smooth between him and Shi Ling.

Xin wants to delay the engagement by claiming that his wife is overseas. But Xiao Zhuang claims that the date is chosen. Shi Ling doesn’t mind it. Jun is moody over it. Shi Ling is angry to find Shun Yi’s photo among his books. She invites Shun Yi to her birthday party. She is troubled with no clothes but someone sends a pretty dress to her home.

She becomes the centre of attraction in it. Jun is mesmerized by her beauty – so is Xu. Xu is angry that Shun Yi doesn’t tell him that she is coming and reprimands her for being sexily dressed. Both argue and part in anger (I moan when she can’t even show an angry face properly….) Shun Yi finds the dress too expensive and wants to return to Shi Ling. (Can’t she say this in private – she is definitely a moron!)

Shi Ling confronts Jun and he admits giving her the dress. Shi Ling is furious – what is he up to for giving a dress to another woman to attend his fiancee’s party? He reminds her that feelings must be mutual. He suddenly holds her waist and she protests – he shakes his head – this already shows her true feelings that she isn’t in love with him. (Sad to say, they are very wooden, unlike that way Xin and Cai Jing shows us.)

Jun offers to send Shun Yi home and Shi Ling gets mad to kiss Xu. The two witness this and Shun Yi leaves sadly. Xu understands that Shi Ling does it because she isn’t in a good mood and promises to forget it but she wants him to remember her first kiss. Xu apologises to Shun Yi over his kiss and she gets mad with him, wanting him to forget it. She even grabs the pot of flowers from him that she promises to give him and calls him a fool. Han overhears this and reprimands her.

She is only an attendant and must know her status. Even though Xu apologizes to her, her anger isn’t appeased. (What does she really want since he already feels so bad – this woman is too much….It is her fault for being so rude so she deserves it. )Knowing that Shun Yi is preparing for the exam to get into the academy, Jun forces her to accept his books. Shun Yi wants to return the dress to Shi Ling. She sneers at Shun Yi for being a two-timer. (I am very amused – the pot calling the kettle black.) Shun Yi then realized that it is from Jun and leaves it in his room with a thank you note. He frowns upon seeing it.

Han removes Xu’s things and he is displeased as they are part of his treasures. She refuses to return to him despite his pleas and he doesn’t wish to attend her classes. The queen wants him to obey Han as her job is to train him to be the crown prince. Xu complains about Han – they are trash in other people’s eyes but they are part of his memory. He requests for more breathing space. The queen mother also finds Han too much. Xu has his merits although he comes from an ordinary growing up process.

She tells Han that Xu is kind so she can be strict with him but can’t hurt him. The queen worries that Xu isn’t qualified enough as he resembles his soft mother. Shun Yi cheers Xu up and they reconcile. Xiao Zhuang deliberately mentions about the monetary case to attract Xu’s attention. Jun wants to break off the engagement but Shi Ling refuses. The queen attends a charity program in selling teddy bears. She arranges Shang Qi to come too. Xu feels like seeing his kin and is warm to him. (We can feel the closeness between the two in their interaction.)

Xu suddenly sees one of the kidnappers and runs after him. Shang Qi discovers that the man knows the palace marital arts. Xu listens to the walkie talkie that the man loses and realizes that the queen is in danger and rushes back to the scene. He stops her in time to accept the teddy bear to get electrocuted. He faints and is sent into hospital. Shun Yi and others are worried after watching the news. It is Xiao Zhuang’s plan to place the battery inside the teddy bear. Jun knows it as he sees Shi Yan around.

Xu doesn’t wake up even though he is in hospital. All are worried and the queen insists that he must be sent back to the palace. Shun Yi takes care of him the whole night. He mistakenly thinks that he sees his mother when he opens his eyes. He holds her hand and requests her to keep him company for a while. She obeys him as he closes his eyes to rest. Xu becomes a hero overnight and the media gives positive comments. The queen is grateful and the queen mother feels for the first time that she gains a son.

The queen doesn’t want Xu to risk his life again as he is important to them. He says no – how can he leave his cousin in danger? He is already in agony when sending his mother away and has vowed that he will protect his family. The poor prince has to drink the bitter medicine for a month. Xiao Zhuang pretends to be concerned when visiting him. He replies he also has the responsibility to protect the royalty since he is part of them. He is curious over the scheme. Jun wants a fair competition but Xiao Zhuang refuses to listen.

Xu’s friends treat him like a hero when he returns to the academy but Jun’s friends still don’t like him. Shi Ling learns that Xu learns astronomy because his mother likes it. The public sends flowers to Xu and the baskets occupy the whole room. Xu feels pressurized for being under a watchful eye but Shun Ye reminds him that he can do a lot of things for the people.

The queen manages to capture the suspect – he is a former bodyguard dismissed from his post. He claims to work alone but the queen still sends people to check Xiao Zhuang’s home. She finds nothing. Yun Xi learns that Shang Qi is the one who brings Xu up. She comes to ‘Gong’ to look for him – they are past lovers. She wants him to cut all ties with the palace but he refuses. Xu shows Shun Yi his mother’s necklace. It has a polestar – his mother’ star is him while Shun Yi is still searching. Shun Yi stays overnight to study. She is so tired that she oversleeps. Xu allows her to rest and cleans the room himself.

Shun Yi doesn’t want him to do that but Xu doesn’t see why she should be bothered as only both of them are around. Han is furious to see this. Although Xu does the work willingly, she wants to cane her. Rong Nan runs to Jun for help. He requests not to allow Shun Yi into Xu’s quarters as punishment. (I still think that she deserves canning for being insolent.) Shi Ling is sore over this – the hurt is already done to her even though he apologizes. Xu feels lost without seeing Shun Yi. Jun hints to Shun Yi that he likes her as he will try to set things right for her.

Mrs Xin can’t return for the engagement and sends her a present. She feels very lonely as it is the same as her birthday present. Xiao Zhuang rejects Jun’s thought of annulling the engagement. Yun Xi doesn’t like Shi Ling too but she has to get Xin’s support. Jun pities her – is she marrying his father because of power and not love too? Xu waits for Shun Yi to knock off from work to see her with Jun. Jun’s love declaration is overheard and he wants her to wait for him but she is indifferent.

Xu panics upon knowing this as Shun Yi is equally cold to him. She has her dreams but is interrupted by him and hopes that he will not look for her again. He leaves in disappointment but she has a sleepless night. Jun tells Shun Yi that he is not expecting an answer immediately but she feels burdened by it. The case is closed with no more evidence so the queen is sorry to let Xiao Zhuang scot free like this.

Yun Xi is disturbed by Jun’s change. Shi Ling tells her that he likes someone else and she guesses that it is Shun Yi. So she frames her for stealing her ring. The royalty makes 3 rings and it is one of them. Shun Yi is stopped from doing her duties. The two princes believe her innocence. Xu takes out his own ring to pass to Jun to claim to Yun Xi that he has found it.

Jun knows that it signifies Xu’s identity and losing it spells trouble. Xu doesn’t mind reverting back to his poor life as long as he can save someone. He wants Jun to keep it from Shun Yi as she is very stubborn. Jun obeys him and Yun xi is surprised to have 2 rings now. Xiao Zhuang deduces that Xu also likes the same girl and wants to attack this weakness. Xu knows where his father is buried and Shi Ling accompanies him. Shun Yi returns to work and can work in Xu’s quarters again.

A clip of Xu’s drunken piece with his friend is found over the net. Shang Qi discovers that the source is from a net bar and someone must have stolen it. He wants Xu’s friends to be more careful to prevent giving Xu more trouble. Xu pays his respects to his father. The caretaker scolds him for having a mother who disgraces the royal family. Xu is hurt but doesn’t want Guo to inform the queen. He is still polite to the old man when taking his leave quietly. Shi Ling holds his hand to give him comfort in the car.

The queen wants Xu to face the clip matter calmly as she predicts more to come. Xu checks from websites to know that his mother is kind. He is bothered that the royalty doesn’t protect her and what happens 20 years ago? Since the queen refuses to tell her, he approaches Xiao Zhuang late at night…without success too. The queen is enraged and locks him up in his room.

Xu feels terrible and wants Shang Qi to meet him. The poor man hugs Shang Qi and weeps as he can’t take the pressure anymore. (Se7en is excellent in showing Xu’s despair in not knowing who to approach for help.) Shang Qi can’t check on it as he doesn’t have the power and the matter shakes the whole nation to cut off Xu’s ties from his family. Xu needs to become the crown prince to know the truth. Xu is happy that Shun Yi can go to his quarters but she is still cold to him, wanting him to treat her the same way as he treats other attendants. His heart runs cold after hearing this.

Jun tells Shun Yi that it is Xu that helps her. Although he doesn’t wish to admit it, this shows how important she is to Xu. Jun doesn’t want to steal the glory so he tells her. The queen mother feels excited seeing Xu’s things. She gets Guo to return them to Xu and adds safety helmets to them. Xu replies that he doesn’t need them anymore as he wants to live, using his new identity.

The queen mother is angry with Xiao Zhuang announcing Jun’s engagement as she has the intention to pair Shi Ling with Xu. This must have gained the clansmen support before telling the queen. The queen is also displeased and wants her mother to go on her behalf. Jun tells Shi Ling that he will not appear but she tells him that she will wait for him and hopes that he doesn’t disappoint her.

Xu asks his friends out for the last time and bades them goodbye in tears. Shun Yi apologises to Xu (This conceited woman finally does this for the first time.) Xu tells her coldly that she needs not mention it since he is a prince and she is an attendant. (This is the time to let her taste her own medicine. ) Xu is angry with Jun for breaking their promise. This is not respecting him as he claims. Jun apologizes to him – he has treated him as a nobody but discovers that he has many qualities now. He also likes Shun Yi so he will compete with Xu in both areas. (Gosh – don’t these people feel tired apologizing to each other?)

Jun doesn’t turn up for the engagement. Xin leaves angrily with Shi Ling while Xiao Zhuang slaps Jun at home. Jun promises to win the crown prince status but he opposes to the engagement. Shi Ling has thought that both share the same goal but now he can forsake her for an attendant. She can’t forgive him as she can never give up her dream to become an outstanding woman. Xu overhears this and assumes that Shi Ling will help him if he wants her too.

The queen mother invites Alexander to the palace. He is cold to the queen as he can’t forget the pain that she has given him after her departure. The clansmen press the queen to announce her successor on the day she ascends the throne for the 7th year. She agrees to give both princes a test – the values that the academy teaches – poetry, martial arts, courtesy, wisdom and bravery. He also must have the ability too. She will come up with the questions. All are concerned on the test items.

Jun notices that Shun Yi looks haggard – she wants to try her best to get into the academy. He never has dreams as he has special privileges all along. But now he has a dream – he looks at her but she avoids his glare. The two princes are asked to help to restore a painting. The painting has the 5 words engraved on the 3 rings. They are given to the 3 lords by the emperor. The painting is destroyed in a flood. The artist (Bi Shui) and calligraphist (Yang Zhu) are arch enemies so the winner will be the one able to persuade them.

Xu is supposed to go to Bi Shui and Jun to Yang Zhu. Shi Ling knows that the calligraphy is more important and worries that Xu can’t handle. Shi Ling is jealous to see Shun Yi revising her work with Jun. Shun Yi points out that Shi Ling lacks confidence and isn’t righteous in front of Xu. (Does she think that she has the right to scold someone else? I am baffled by her insolence!) Jun overhears them and tells Shi Ling that he doesn’t give up on the contest but hopes that they don’t become enemies.

Both princes fail in their first attempt. Xu learns that both are under the same master. Their junior, Hui Lan loves Yang Zhu but is rejected so she kills herself. The master dies of misery too and both become enemies as Yang Zhu is expelled. Xiao Zhuang tries to bribe Yang Zhu with one of the master’s painting but fails. Jun tries to make him change his mind as it is part of the history. Yang Zhu finally agrees. Xu is concerned about Shun Yi but is still cold to her. Yun Xi wants Shi Ling to give Jun more time but Shi Ling knows that he will not change his mind. Xu fails again and due to Shi Ling’s hint, he detects a secret.

The queen is disappointed that Xu fails and is about to announce the winner when Xu appears with Bi Shui. Both teachers hug each other in tears. Xu has learned that Bi Shui also loves Hui Lan but hides his love. Yang Zhu is aware of this to reject Hui Lan’s love but the tragedy happens to cause the misunderstanding. Thus Xu helps him to learn the truth. (Why the two old men place their loyalty above everything else…)

Xu admits that it is due to Shi Ling’s help to know that the painting isn’t about love but to reminisce the happy times the emperor has with his cousins. But Bi Shui adds in his love for Hui Lan to include this in so the emperor makes the 3 rings for his cousins. The queen tells all - the purpose of this contest is for the princes not to hurt their relationship through the contest. Although Jun persuades Yang Zhu first, it is Xu who finds out the true meaning so he is the winner.

Xiao Zhuang and Yun Xi frown over the result – moreover Shi Ling helps Xu to win. The painting is restored so the queen wants to present the rings out for the exhibition. Xu is shocked but Xiao Zhuang gloats over this. Jun wants Shi Yan to help him find Xu’s ring. Shi Yan refuses so he has to do it himself. He is discovered and Yun Xi suspects it to be Shun Yi’s instigation. She scolds Shun Yi and she says that she doesn’t take the ring and knows that Han returns Xu’s ring to her.

She will follow Yun Xi’s instructions if she returns the ring – that means to leave the palace. She puts it secretly back on Xu’s table. Seeing him in low spirits, she tells him not to worry. Shun Yi suddenly asks for a transfer to work in the palace villa. All are surprised as she is studying so hard for the exam. She refuses to tell them why. Han guesses that she is evading love problems and tells her to face the problem bravely.

Jun demands to know if she has to leave because of the ring. She denies and says that she can’t cope with the job and the exam. Jun refuses to believe this. Xu suddenly finds the ring and knows about Shun Yi’s transfer. He confronts Jun angrily and Jun agrees to handle it. Xu is too late to stop Shun Yi at the train station as she has left. He becomes very upset when recalling her words.

Jun blames Yun Xi for chasing Shun Yi away. Xiao Zhuang claims that she offers to leave – the most important thing is she only has Xu and not Jun in her heart. Jun declares that he is unable to forget Shun Yi that she is the first woman he loves. Xu thinks that Shun Xi is forced to leave because of Jun and blames him but Jun tells him that it is the reverse.

The two princes miss her and the queen want both to have a martial arts contest at the villa palace one month later. That includes horse riding, fist fighting and archery. Many worry that Xu can’t reach the mark so he seeks Shang Qi’s help. PM Han resigns because of poor health so the queen has to let Xin to be the PM now. Jun improves with Shi Yan’s training and Xu also pushes himself to improve quickly.

Xu learns archery but doesn’t do well. Shang Qi encourages him to play with his skateboard to make sure that he can do what he wants. Seeing that he works so hard, Shang Qi warns him not to overwork. But Xu overstrains himself till he injures his right arm. He starts to ponder Shang Qi’s words and learns that he is overly anxious. Shang Qi is pleased that he finally knows that winning is not the most important factor.

Jun cooks up an excuse to be familiar with the place to steal a chance to meet Shun Yi. He hopes that she will return to the palace but she still rejects him. He knows that she still loves Xu and wants to change this fact. Xu also meets her but both suppress their feelings. Jun can’t concentrate because of her and insists to wait for her to knock off despite Shi Yan’s protest. Shun Yi tells him her thoughts – she will try to forget Xu but this doesn’t imply that she will accept Jun.

The two princes do not do well in archery. Xu recalls Shang Qi’s words on combining the human force and shooting into one and gets bulls’ eye. He wins the first segment. Xiao Zhuang warns Jun to buck up. Yun Xi is angry with Shang Qi for defying her. Why doesn’t he listen to her as in the past? How can he treat Xu like his son? He admits so as Xu’s mother gives him encouragement when he is down and out. Jun is unhappy to know of their past relationship to stand in the rain.

The princes spar with knives on horses. Shi Yan blows the flute secretly to scare Xu’s horse and he is thrown down from horseback so the result is even. The queen mother is happy to see Shi Ling chatting with Xu. He must find someone to suit his status, not to repeat his father’s mistake. Xu waits for Shun Yi to knock off to return the bear to her. He hopes that they can still be friends and is apologetic to dash her dreams. She still insists of walking her own way.

Shi Yan secretly takes photos of the queen and Alexander together. Xu and Shun Yi discover the media. Although Xu manages to take back the camera and Shun Yi brings Alexander out through a secret passage, Xu’s injury worsens. The queen confesses to the two that she can’t forget Alexander till now. Shang Qi helps Xu to clear the blocked arteries but this is only a temporary measure. The last segment is the fist duel. Xu improves tremendously but still loses because of the injury. Shang Qi consoles him for trying his best.

Shun Yi refuses to return to the palace with Xu. His voice makes her tired and hopes that he will leave her alone. Xu only hopes to see her daily and doesn’t harbour hopes of talking to her anymore. The queen doesn’t trust anyone but Shun Yi for helping her in Alexander’s case so she allows her to study in the academy. The princes are shocked to see her back. (I feel like slapping her. She deliberately walks in front of Xu with a haughty smile – as if expecting him to greet her first and fawning on her good fortune!)

Shi Ling misunderstands to be Jun’s idea to have her back while Jun thinks that Xu has arranged this. The queen has to go overseas for a king’s funeral and wants the princes to help the queen mother to rule the country. This is to test their wisdom. As for the arts, it is to arrange a show in the palace and see who enjoys most. Xiao Zhuang thinks that they are at the upper hand since Xu has no idea what it is.

Yun Xi finds excuses to visit Jun in order to check on the happenings in the palace. Alexander also pays his last respects to the late king so Xiao Zhuang knows that he will try to meet the queen in Europe so he wants Shi Yan to stalk them. Shi Ling tells Shun Yi that Jun is sincere to her and she should not hurt both men since she hinders Xu’s development.

Shi Ling offers to help Xu on his mother’s case. The queen mother wants to get Xin’s support. She crosses swords with Yun Xi as she points out that she interferes too much into politics. (This reminds me how the queen and Lu’s mother quarrel too in ‘Gong’ but you hardly feel the tension here.) The queen gives the royal library passes to both princes. This is a place where the queen or a person with authority can enter. She gives them the authority as they need more reading to help the queen mother.

Xu has no idea after watching last year’s performance till he watches over the net on a hip-hop band’s show. He decides to get their help and get the traditional folk music performers to come up with the background music. They reject him as they fear losing their jobs. Xu’s friends agree to find help. Xu always sees Shun Yi with Jun and grumbles that she isn’t close to him after her return. He has known of her actual feelings now. The queen mother is in charge of the performance.

She gets children to watch it. Jun gets the performers to play music pieces from the world, showing the use of different instruments. Xiao Zhuang causes Xu’s group to be hindered by an accident so he gets his restaurant friends to help. Many like the performance (even the clansmen tap their feet secretly.) but the queen will still make the final decision.

Shang Qi finds the ex-finance minister who accuses Xu’s mother to be involved in the money affair but he refuses to say anything. Jun wants to keep Shun Yi beside him so he applies her to be his understudy with the queen mother’s consent. Xu sneaks into the library to read notes on the monetary affair. The queen mother suddenly comes and Xu is fluttered. The chief attendant helps him to keep it a secret. The inner court and secretary departments have many disputes so the princes meet both representatives.

Jun only wants the officials to check on the work while Xu wants both departments to exchange their jobs for a day to understand their work better. The queen mother agrees to it and approves it. This makes everything nearly come to a stop due to the disruption but the dispute is solved. The librarian complains to the queen mother that Xu has read the royal notes. She confirms it with Xu. Xu admits and confesses that he doesn’t know who to trust even after reading it because the person to cause his mother to leave the palace is the queen mother herself. She does that to protect Xu’s father.

Reading the notes is a crime so he is deprived of the duties to return to his quarters till the queen is back. Xu wants to go out of the palace so he seeks Jun’s approval. Jun wants him to reconsider or the queen mother will think that he is rebelling her but he ignores his warning to take that he agrees to leave. Xiao Zhuang is delighted over the news and Jun keeps the news that Xu seeks his approval before going out from the queen mother. Shun Yi guesses from Huo Li that Xu might have gone to his mother’s grave so she takes early leave to search for him. Shi Ling also guesses the whereabouts to go with Jun.

They only witness Xu and Shun Yi hugging each other to feel hurt. The queen mother forgives the chief attendant for siding Xu. She doesn’t understand why Xu wants to seek the truth. The chief attendant understands as his mother is like the sun to him. Finding the truth is his personal life goal. Shun Yi tells Xu that the truth might be fake. Even if she might commit a mistake, he has to trust her.

Xu gets touched and arranges a romantic date with her to give her his mother’s necklace too. The other two decide to combine their forces together to break up the couple. The queen reprimands Xu for being reckless upon her return. The queen mother worries that Xu will lose his cool whenever he faces matters concerning his mother. She starts to doubt his ability now.

Alexander discovers that his home is searched by Shi Yan upon return. The chief attendant wants the queen to be careful as someone knows of their relationship. Xiao Zhuang wants to seek out the informer for the queen and Alexander. With Shi Ling’s help, the ex-minister decides to give the evidence to Shang Qi but he is killed on the way to see him. Xu is disappointed by the outcome.

The queen announces the arts performance winner as a draw. As Xu has backed out from the ruling contest, Jun wins. Now it leaves the courage and integrity items to be tested. The clansmen disagree as Xu keeps breaking rules and should lose his right to continue the contest. Xin gets the queen and the queen mother’s support to delay the meeting. The queen wants the chief attendant to go into her study to pass her letter to Alexander. She is discovered by Xiao Zhuang’s spy. She snatches the letter.

Just when Xu and Shun Yi are invited to Alexander‘s home, they see the chief attendant being robbed of Alexander’s reply letter. Xu saves her and pulls down Shi Yan’s scarf to see her face but the letter is being snatched by other men. (She could send any man to do it – why must she do everything herself?) They pass the letter to Xin. It is a big matter as the queen’s letter is missing. The queen mother knows the person must be someone from the inner court so Xiao Zhuang suggests another contest. The two princes can be given 3 days to find out the culprit to see who emerges the winner.

The queen approves his suggestion and Jun gets Shun Yi’s help as she knows the working hours of the attendants. They discover that attendant Jin knows off after 8 and asks her. She claims to stay to look for her working pass but sees the chief attendant walking out of the queen’s study. The chief attendant becomes the prime suspect but she keeps mum. Jun wants men to guard hard despite Xu’s protests. (It is strange but the two princes do not seem excited but are in fact restless over the competition.)

Shun Yi discovers that attendant Jin manages to clear off her credit card debts and overspends again. She replies that she doesn’t know anything under Xu’s questioning and this raises suspicion. Jun finally realizes that it is Xiao Zhuang’s doing again. He has to give in under his threats. The queen is sorry to implicate the chief attendant. She is not affected and says that it is an honour to serve her. She is an orphan but the palace allows her to stay and also complete her education here so she needs to repay her kindness.

Xu requests for one more day as he also believes her innocence. He finally knows why his mother confesses to the case. Maybe she is like the chief attendant – innocent but to protect someone to become the scapegoat. Xu discovers that attendant Jin has poor eyesight so she can’t even see who walks out from the study that night with the help of a desk lamp. He demands her to tell the truth – the poor woman gets so frightened that she pleads with another court lady to save her. (se7en is good in this scene showing Xu’s anger and wisdom.) Xiao Zhuang’s spy is discovered and eliminated.

The queen mother discovers that Xu loves Shun Yi and becomes worried. The chief attendant is grateful to Xu but he is only returning her a favour. Xu wins the bravery segment and gets the clansmen’s trust again. The queen wants the princes to write down the king’s requirement on a paper to test on how well they are prepared fro the throne. The princes are at par now after so many rounds so the queen is satisfied.

Xiao Zhuang sees that it is not in his favour and suspects that the evidence is in Xu’s hands. Xu guesses that he frames his mother and lies that it is with him indeed so he will want to pass to the queen later. The queen mother wants Xu to marry Shi Ling but he says that he likes someone else. She is upset as she can’t close her heart now after loving him.

The queen mother scolds Shun Yi for loving Xu. She later discovers that Jun is also in love with her. What is the matter with both princes over an attendant?! Shun Yi gets drunk but Xu requests her to stay by his side no matter what happens. Jun comes to look for Shun Yi to see her on Xu’s back. He tells Xu that she is scolded by the queen mother. If he has no power to protect her, he should let her go. Xu tells him off – he will protect her by all means as he is her man. (They declare war openly again.)

Jun agrees to help his father. He wants to get away from his power in the past but wants to get a woman now. Yun Xi asks Shang Qi for the evidence but he rejects. She then hints that he is hurting a person who has blood ties with him, hinting that Jun is his son. The ex-minister’s son passes the evidence to Shang Qi. Shi Ling does a research on the queen notes for Xu. She guesses that the word might be ‘de’ – integrity. Xu rejects her help as he owed her too much. He doesn’t even want her to be his understudy. She pleads with him to let her stay with him before the contest.

Alexander decides to resign and asks Shun Yi and Xu to join him for dinner. Shi Ling sulks when seeing Xu asking Shun Yi and both are intimate in the car. (He even touches her shoulder when opening the car door for her.) They go on a date but girls start to flock after them after discovering who he is at the café.
Shun Yi laments that they have to separate even in love. Xu thinks that shouldn’t be the case. Both quarrel over the different views. Xin sends the queen’s photos to the queen mother to make her think that it is Xiao Zhuang’s doing so that she will forward the marriage plans.

Shang Qi passes the evidence to Jun. He is the only one who can solve this case concerning his parents. Shang Qi knows that Xu only wants to seek redress for his mother and not to punish anyone. He hopes that Jun can persuade his parents to discontinue the feud between the two generations. Jun realizes that he is his father’s puppet and is shattered to confirm that he isn’t Xiao Zhuang’s son later. Xiao Zhuang wants him to be his son till death. Jun is in agony to know that Xiao Zhuang is aware that he isn’t his son but still brings him up as his own to make his emperor dream come true.

Xu arranges the queen to meet Alexander at a restaurant in the suburbs. Shi Yan tells the media the news and their photos are taken. The queen mother blames the queen and Xu for being reckless. A drunk Jun falls into Shun Yi’s arms. His life is ruined. She gets him to stay overnight at her home. Rong Nan and Guo see him leaving the next day so they think they share an intimate relationship. The public gives negative response to the queen’s meeting with Alexander. Some even want her to abdicate the throne.

Xin suggests either to bring forward the contest or a marriage plan. Xu refuses to marry Shi Ling so the contest is to be brought forward. The queen mother reminds Xu that he can’t be with Shun Yi and he can’t decide his fate. Besides her approval, he also needs nods from the clansmen and the officials. He can’t live based on his own feelings. Jun wishes to back out of the contest but Xiao Zhuang disapproves it. He will not be the royal brother but the emperor this time now as the queen can’t be on the throne soon.

Jun writes the word ‘zheng’ – righteous. It is locked with Xu’s answer into the safe but Shi Yan manages to break into the safe to find the queen’s answer. She changes Jun’s answer with another scroll. The queen’s scroll doesn’t have any word on it. She feels that it can’t be represented with a word. Xu writes ‘xi’ – sacrifice. A person must make sacrifices to be a head of a country. Jun is equally taken aback to see his scroll empty and knows that it is his father’s doing. Jun becomes the winner and Xu can’t accept it.

Shi Ling checks out that Xu’s mother is involved in donating funds to help in the elderly welfare to be involved in the scandal. Shi Ling informs that the evidence is now with Shang Qi. He wonders why Shang Qi has not mentioned this to him and goes to find him but he isn’t in. Shi Ling runs out of his car when discovering that Shun Yi calls him on his handphone. She hugs him from the back in tears.

Shun Yi can’t find him at his quarters but she is scolded by the queen mother. She forbids her to go there again. Xu returns and tells the queen mother that Shun Yi is most important to him. He can stay in the palace because of her. He doesn’t want to end up being unhappy like his father to get separated by his lover so he insists to be together with Shun Yi.

Just then news of Shun Yi getting involved with the two princes spread. The queen mother brings the prince for questioning. Jun confesses staying over at her home the night before. The queen mother decides to banish Shun Yi out of the palace. The academy students also find this unbelievable. Shi Ling blames Shun Yi for hurting the princes. Shun Yi admits that she only has Xu all along in her heart. The queen tells Shun Yi to give up her love as she wants Xu to ascend the throne. He is unlike other princes – he has mingled with the commoners so he needs a strong support.) So Shun Yi needs to leave Xu.

Xu brings Shun Yi to see Xiao Cheng. He learns that he needs to leave the palace once Jun becomes the crown prince. Although he admits having more desires now and feels ashamed to face the elders for letting them down, he ia also relieved to remove the burden as he can get to marry the woman he likes. The queen mother is unhappy with Xu’s act – Xu requests her to be more gracious. So is Han who feels for him as she recalls how the others oppose to Xu’s parents to be together too.

Xu brings Shun Yi to his parents’ ex-living quarters. They will be staying here after leaving the palace. So both will need to clean the place. They should live well for his parents’ sake. Shun Yi laments that he should tell her not to dirty her hands. He answers seriously that they should be satisfied with what they have to lead ordinary lives although he is royalty. She agrees with him. (Seeing how materialistic she is makes my impression of her sink to rock bottom.)

Xiao Cheng also tells Shun Yi to leave Xu and she cries, holding the necklace. Xu is disturbed that Shun Yi resigns from the academy but has not taken it seriously as he regards it as a temporary measure to dispel the rumours. She will still pursue her studies and he roots for her to do well. The queen bades Alexander goodbye over the telephone as he leaves Korea.

Jun is badly affected by his parentage that he goes to Shun Yi, begging her to leave the palace with him. She criticizes him for giving her turmoil to torture her. (but why don’t I feel it?) He gets drunk at the home villa. Shi Yan comes to look for him, recalling that he yearns to return to their teenage days when they are children and spending time there. She is alarmed to see the place on fire and dies when trying to get him out. Seeing that Xiao Zhuang is unrepentant after her death, Jun gives up on him.

The elders want Shi Ling to marry Xu but she refuses. She finally sees her problem and realizes that Xin will do anything to achieve his goal. She now understands why her mother leaves her. Xu apologises to Shi Ling for rejecting her. He gives her an air ticket, urging her to look for her mother.

Jun recovers and returns to the palace. Seeing how Yun Xi gloats over Jun’s victory, Jun tells her that he has known that he isn’t Xiao Zhuang’s son. She is shocked that he doesn’t trust them as he discloses that he is impotent. Since she has committed adultery with Shang Qi behind his back since he is so cold to her, Jun can’t be his son. She suggests a DNA test.

The queen is about to announce that Jun is her successor in front of the clansmen when Jun announces that he has won the contests using illegal means. The queen is mad when Xiao Zhuang tries to interrupt her and Jun insists of taking up full responsibility. She asks if he really hates her so much. His answer is yes – his parentage deprives him of the chance of the throne. So the crown prince status goes to Xu. Shun Yi is amused that everything goes back to him. Jun finally realizes how selfish he is to cause hurt to Shun Yi, only to care for his own feelings to neglect hers.

Jun passes the evidence to Xu. Xu requests Jun’s parents to own up but they are unrepentant, thinking that he has no hold over them. Xu has no choice but to inform the queen about it. The queen throws the evidence in front of Xiao Zhuang and Yun Xi. So Xu’s mother takes the rap for them and the finance minister. The queen clears Xu’s parents’ sentence without revealing Jun’s parents. Xu is grateful to Jun for his help while Jun is also thankful that his parents’ act isn’t revealed to the public.

Jun decides to go overseas and thanks Xiao Zhuang for raising him up. Suddenly Xiao Zhuang hugs him – the DNA test confirms that he is his son. Yun Xi has lied to Shang Qi in order to get the evidence. Xiao Zhuang has caused agony to Jun since young and can’t pay back to him. (Goodness gracious - she is so stony in this weeping scene.)

Xu and Shun Yi go out together – Xu promises to treat her the same as before. But Shun Yi sneaks away. Sensing something amiss to read the letter she slips inside his pocket – she has stated that she has to give him up as he is a dream to her – he rushes back to the palace. He is taken aback when Rong Nan tells him that Shun Yi has taken a study scholarship to go overseas.

2 years later, the chief secretary retires and the chief attendant replaces him. Xu helps out at his friend’s pizza restaurant and his academy friends stay back when he has to go to another venue. Shang Qi has become an Arab prince’s bodyguard and isn’t in Seoul now. Can you believe that Xu is so bored that he plays with x-box in the car? Xu goes to an exhibition with the queen mother. It is on building facilities for the old. She is pleased that he looks into details on their welfare.

The queen is displeased that Xin postpones the meeting again – no other PM does that in the past. He must be mad that the marriage plans fail. She asks Xiao Zhuang for help – she believes that he also doesn’t want royalty’s power to be challenged. Sure enough, he helps her.

The Czech prince comes for an exhibition with Shun Yi as his translator. Both arrive in the palace. Xu looks at her tenderly. (Now he looks intellectual with a pair of glasses.) Xu wants her to stay beside him but she still wants to realize her dream to depress him. Seeing Xu moody, Han knows that it is due to Shun Yi. He is speechless when she teaches him the way – since he is the crown prince now.

Shi Ling discovers the teddy bear that she has are made into many replicas at the exhibition. They meet Shi Ling who becomes a teacher and visit Jun together. Jun is a prince by day and a musician to play his music at the pub at night. Besides Xiao Cheng and the queen mother sponsoring her studies, Yun Xi also helps her – to reduce her guilt.(Is her studies so expensive that 3 royalties must help her?!)

Shun Yi becomes the new chief attendant after graduation and is back. She is afraid of making mistakes. Xu leads her into a room – the same model of the teddy bear that he has given to her are everywhere. He hugs her – Han has taught him that he is reaching 20 soon so he can do things his own way.

Introduction on characters
1. Se7en as Lee Xu
He is initially a delivery boy who dislikes studies and only concentrates on how to make the Chinese restaurant business prosper. He is vain and loves to decorate the delivery box with his photo. He claims to be the most handsome man in Chinatown so ‘the man’s most important asset is the face – just like getting noodles from ‘Goong’ restaurant. He is very optimistic and approachable. His hobbies are learning martial arts and reading the novels. His real identity of being a long-lost prince is revealed.

He is thrown into an unfamiliar environment to live up to royal reputation by handling heavy responsibilities. Being a man, he should not whine, sob or throw any silly tantrums but we see him doing that openly. Still, we see the change in him to become calm, sensible and also wise in the competition process. Cheer for him when he wins over his clansmen’s trust and his love.

I find him showing many cute moments – like how he throws a black tuxedo jacket over his pyjamas to greet the queen mother. He also shows off his famous hip-hop dancing skills and pulls off some powerful skateboard stunts. Se7en has tried his best in acting. We see him improving along the way and he does have the looks for a prince.

2. Heo Yi Jae as Liang Shun Yi
She is a spitfire but is innocent and weak. Her parents passed away due to a car accident. She comes to the palace as an assistant attendant. Although she has been there for 6 months, she often loses her way. She loves reading love novels and dreams of getting her love one day. We will shower pity upon Cai Jing for suffering but will be elated to see her being punished or reprimanded. She keeps saying that she is tormented but I always feel that she hasn’t suffered enough!

Never have I ever seen an attendant so conceited to jeer at her two young master. Moreover, they are not just rich – they are princes! Oh my, they show so much tolerance to her nonsense! It is very torturing for me as I go along with her over the 20 episodes to see how she struggles with the emotional scenes.

Yi Jae looks lost, blur and confused. She tries to be cute and kluzy but fails miserably. I detest her looks – it seems that her face – especially her nose looks fake. She looks so terrible in crying and angry scenes. Eun Hye is a very talented actress and is so good in comical scenes. But Yi Jae pales so much in comparison.

3. Park Shin Hye as Xin Shi Ling
Her father is a politician so she has everything since young. Her beauty doesn’t lose out to actresses. She dislikes lies and pretentious people. She is also daring, frank, selfish and ambitious, hoping to be the next queen. Many find her to be rude but she gets drawn to Xu to help him to adapt to palace life. It is too hard on Shin Hye to act like an adult as she is only 17. She doesn’t look scheming enough and lacks inner feelings – she only recites lines blindly.

4. Kang Doo as Lee Jun
He is an outstanding prince since young and shines wherever he goes. All expect him to be the automatic emperor-to-be but he becomes the second successor to the throne after Xu’s arrival. He is a perfectionist to make his dreams come true. But he is always under his father’s control.

The two princes fall for Shun Yi and war starts between them, not just for the throne but also for love. Yun Xi destroys all his guitars but Shun Yi is the one to make him pick it up again. Whose idea is that to let him wear those dark-rimmed and old-fashioned glasses? He looks so much older with them. Why not let him wear those silvery rimmed ones as seen in the poster to make him look intellectual but not bookwormish?

His performance is only passable as a newcomer. He has very restricted facial expressions too – he can’t do crying scenes well although the anger management part is fine. I also think that he lacks the elegance of a prince. The suits make him age more than 10 years! Please - why don’t make him look younger?

Extended Cast

5. Myung Se Bin as the Queen Hua Ren
She is the princes’ elder cousin and is the ruler of the country. She is wise but commits mistakes when coming to hiding her romance from the public. Se Bin makes an excellent queen, looking graceful at all times with her beautiful clothes and smiles.

6. Lee Gi Young as Zhao Shang Qi
He was a former bodyguard. Although he claims to be Xu’s uncle, he is a fatherly figure to him. He teaches him martial arts and also helps him to iron out problems. He is so daring to name his Chinese restaurant, Goong – does he miss his past?

7. Oh Min Hee as the Queen’s mother
She is the queen’s mother who understands Xu well. However, she can be too bored with palace life to want some excitement. That is why she tries to give Xu the freedom he needs. But she spares no chance sparing with Yun Xi when there is the chance. She acts well but if the tension still fades as we compare the rivalry shown between the princes’ mothers in Goong.

8. Yoon Ye Hee as Jiang Yun Xi (Lee Jun’s mother)
She is Jun’s mother who never stops to make her desires come true. Knowing that Jun loves Shun Yi, she still insists of carrying on with the engagement and chases Shun Yi away. She is also very selfish to her ex-lover to tell him to get out of her sight, fearing that he will help Xu. She doesn’t know that her secret affairs will lead to Xiao Zhuang to doubt that Jun isn’t his son. Good grief – this actress can’t cry at all! Can someone rescue her?

9. Ha Jae Young as Lord Xiao Zhuang (Lee Qian)
His mother is a concubine so he feels very inferior over his status. That is why he vows to make Jun the crown prince through ugly means although he knows that he isn’t his son. This actor is terrific – you will hate him whenever he appears.

10. Cha Hyun Jung as Lee Jun’s bodyguard Lu Shi Yan
She was brought into the Li family when she was 10 years old. She never smiled till she went to the holiday villa with Jun. Although Jun is her young master, she is his confidante. She is well versed in martial arts and is their bodyguard. She often keeps his problems from his father but has to do everything at Xiao Zhuang’s bidding. A pity she dies saving him – why are there no tears from this man? She has died in vain.

11. Ye Soo Jung as Court Lady Han
She is the person in charge of Lee Xu’s education, being the strict and absolutely no no-nonsense type. No wonder Xu turns out to be a fine and knowledgeable man under her guidance. Cold as she seems, she is concerned about Shun Yi’s well-being when she asks for a transfer. She also helps Xu when he needs too.

12. Song Baek Kyung as Ma Rong Nan
She is also another palace attendant and is Shun Yi’s close friend to support her when she needs. Shun Yi is clumsy but she is very careful on the job. This actress is so much more natural in her acting although she is not that pretty! Yi Jae should switch roles with her.

13. Professor Alexander - Mark
He is the queen’s ex-boyfriend and is hurt when she leaves him. Still, his love for her rekindles when he comes to teach in the academy. He is nice to Xu and Shun Yi for helping them to keep their secret romance from the public eye. Knowing that he will affect the queen, he leaves. It seemed that 29 year old Mark became the centre of attraction after this drama. He is an Eurasian like Daniel and Dennis. Like them, he speaks most lines in English.

14. Secretary Guo
He is loyal but can be very vain and nosey. I doubt anyone will comb his hair like him.

15. Chief attendant
She is the queen’s servant and also friend. She keeps her romance mum even though she might lose her job as she is grateful to the royal family for taking her in as an orphan. The actress acts as Court Lady Cui in Goong as Cai Jing’s trainer. It seems that Court Lady Han just reprises her role in here.

16. Li Xu’s friends in school
The two academy friends are knowledgeable and try to help him out in his studies and the competition.

17. Li Xu’s friends in school from the restaurant
They are not just delivery boys but are also hip-hop experts. Without them, the performance will not be so successful. One even opens a pizza shop to name it Goong too!

18. Xin Zai Man
He is Shi Ling’s father who is scheming and yearning for power. Initially he is the deputy PM who later becomes the PM. He is on bad terms with his wife so she flies overseas.

19. The clan elders
Many will be terrified by them as they are very traditional and conservative.

20. Lord Xiao Cheng
His elder twin brother is Xu’s father, Xiao Ren. He has no children of his own so he dotes on him as his own son. Worrying about Xu’s future, he has frequent meetings with the queen and the queen mother to help him out. Unlike Xiao Zhuang, he is a kind and approachable elder.

Favourite character
Xu, he treats everyone well and can even forgive his enemy. He only wants to clear his parents’ names.

Most hated character
Xiao Zhuang, he makes everyone suffer because he only wants to make his dream come true. To think that he can go so extreme to want to murder the queen at the bear exhibition! A close second is Shun Yi – who does she think to talk back to almost all her employers? Cai Jing knows her limits even as a crown princess but Shun Yi doesn’t. No wonder Han wants to cane her as a punishment.

Song
‘Miracle’ by Howl is equally enchanting. The theme music is also very smoothing too. It doesn’t lose out to the Goong themes.

Interesting facts

Goong2 was unable to get the original cast to act. So here comes GoongS, using Se7en to replace them. The director thought that the role was suitable for him. Se7en also enjoyed watching Goong. But his tension was missing when shooting it so he wanted to create his own image. He was always cheerful and could lift the spirits of everyone no matter how hard filming was. Although he was only 23, the director knew that he had learned hard for 6 years so he would be successful.

Many were doubtful with only having Se7en and Shin Hye as the people they knew. But they thought that Ji Hyun did not take part in acting too but could make Goong a success so they decided to give it a chance. Yi Jae only acted in 2 movies before this drama while Kang Do is a singer. Shin hye was only 17 but had 6 years experience in acting. She hoped to cast her weak image fixed for ‘Staircase to heaven’. She did not find her to be bad as she lives for her dreams.

This was Kang Do’s first attempt in acting and he found out more about himself. Many thought that he displayed a manly charm. He went for martial arts classes and lost a lot of weight. Both men went for acting classes and learn court etiquette. Their muscles ached after all this training. Se7en joked that they were newcomers so they had to keep up with the others’ rhythm.

Se7en had heard of the director to be a fierce person so he was very respectful to him. He was relieved when he discovered him to be so courteous and gentle. He smiled for worrying unnecessarily. The director found him to be excellent. He learned fast and was very observant as compared to other newcomers. He not only showed off his fighting skills, he also learned how to ride a horse and hold a sword. He acted so real that many thought he had a motorcyclist license!

For the whole week, he had to keep remembering ‘who asked for home delivery service’? He even read it in his dreams at home. He had never ride a horse and felt insecure. Even his 200 fans prayed for him when watching. Kang Do looked cool and many thought that he knew how to ride a horse. To their surprise, he only learned that morning! He had the look but he was also nervous over it.

Se7en suffered from gastric pains and needed to be hospitalized. But he still insisted to carry on acting after resting just for a day. He was not only an actor, He also took part in the costume, backdrop designing, lights and also props. Many gave him very nicknames – Choi PD, Choi instructor, Choi FD….. Yi Jae also learned horse riding while Shin Hye learned golf and fencing from the national teams.

Yi Jae was excited to work with her idol, Se7en. There was a year he went to her high school to perform. She and her classmates ran after his car. She even touched the car window but it went away swiftly. She could even remember that the car was a white Van model and Se7en was tongue-tied. (This shows that dreams can come true in reality.)

Unfortunately, this role arranged Se7en to be normal in martial arts. In reality, he carried out almost all the scenes himself – except the skateboarding parts. He has a black belt in taekwondo. A Japanese director was present to view how Se7en shot the scene where he tried to fend off his kidnappers. He had to be beaten by them. Se7en did come up with his own strokes to shoot this scene. He was surprised when he could communicate with him in fluent Japanese.

The scene where Xu tries to save the queen from being electrocuted and fighting with his kidnapper – Se7en requested a retake. It was shot with 100 extras in a real bear display exhibition till 2a.m. starting from 3.a.m. from the previous day. The part Xu revealed his torso to paste all the plasters on his back due to overstraining to learn martial arts – all marveled at his perfect figure trained under strict dancing and exercising routines. They also drooled over the scene where Xu danced with his friends.

The poster of him wearing the traditional costume and sitting on a royal chair wearing headphones – was very cheeky, youthful and different from Ji Hyun’s serious looking Prince Xin. He wore sneakers and stepped on a basketball like a hiphop prince. He even had a handphone and comics with him. Many thought that he was just being himself.

How did Se7en feel filming his first kiss scene? It went smoothly without any n.g.! He joked that she was fast to kiss him right after kissing Kang Do 2 days ago. They were initially shy before shooting as they did not know each other but they are close friends now.

Se7en and Yi Jae went to Japan to promote this drama. He would never forget how he shot this drama for 4 months. They went Jiju island to shoot the last 2 episodes. It might be his last drama too. The director chose him among the 3 actors shortlisted. Many traditional viewers did not like the idea of singers to go into acting as there are more failures than successful stories. But many others preferred all rounders.

Its rivals were ‘Da Zi’s spring’ and ‘Doctor Bong’. It initially surpassed the forever but later lagged behind both dramas. It also pitted against Super Junior member, Kim Ki Fun’s serial, ‘snowflakes’. It lost to ‘Lovers’ as many were interested to know if Suh Jin and Jung Eun became true lovers. Its ending was 21% as the finale to beat GoongS’s 15%. The competition was too keen with compare with the veterans.

It started with 15% but later dipped to 9% starting from episode 7 onwards because of the poor acting. It went down to only 5% for the last episode. Yi Jae kept crying and blamed herself for it. She became the Cinderella after shooting 2 movies. Even though she knocked against the glass door to injure her hand to put bandages on it, she still continued with the shooting.

The original Goong shooting team, Eightpeak described this work as total pirated copying. It would strongly affect the ratings for Goong2 since it drove loyal Goong fans away. They quarreled with Groupeight to threaten to sue them as they could not use the word Goong. MBC went ahead with the shoot although the case was brought to court. But it came to a conclusion after ironing out their different views.

Many criticized that impressive costumes and scenery were missing. (but I feel Se Bin’s queen’s dresses are well done.) They had looked forward to see how Se7en presented a cheerful man. But he appeared silly and also lacked bravery. They sighed whenever he appeared as he lowered his head. He gave weak acting and only Se7en’s fans gave him strong support. 64% thought he did well while the remaining 36% still doubted him. Still, some requested for a repeat on this drama.

Conclusion

More than 80% - or rather 99.9% of the story copied shamelessly from Goong - the bears, the palace props, the princes’ sports convertibles…..the entire skeleton! The two princes make a woman caught between them again. But their love story pales in comparison to the compelling love shown in Goong. The harsh reality is it loses since it can’t beat the original.

Even the posters of having the 4 leads are so familiar. Goong’s fans will not like to see this. It needs some skills to make an old story enchanting but alas the cast’s raw acting and the boring story fails to charm them. I braced myself for the disappointment. Being a sequel to the highly-successful Goong, it lends itself to comparison to its disadvantages.

The 4 princes are in their formal suits. Although they claimed to keep the royalty as the main development, but to Goong fans, it makes no difference. To present a person Xu who lacks bravery in an idol drama is like making this drama goes into a dead end. How can a hyperactive person becomes so quiet and easily deterred by setbacks after getting into the palace?! The two princes – one of them doesn’t fit the image well so it is too clear right from the start who the loser is.

Still, it wasn’t Se7en’s fault as he tried his best. It is refreshing to see how he acts for the first time. We could see how he improves towards the end so I don’t fault him for this. The problem lies on the others who can’t act. Moreover, many lost interest (like me) on palace stories – it was too familiar to Goong. I don’t think they make a new start. If Goong tells a Cinderella story, Goong S tells a Cinderfella tale. It just does not work the same for a guy this time.

On its own, it is quite fine but not just as good as Goong. Luckily there are no fashion disasters for both princes as the fashion designers do not dare to experiment anymore. I am thankful for that as I can’t stand Prince Xin’s horrendous dressings in some scenes.

It will be too cruel to label it a failure as it does offers insights on the training of palace attendants and simple life on where Xu uses to live. Credit must be given to the veterans who manage to hold the serial on its ground with their wisdom (or schemes) to make the competition on the throne between the princes exciting.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)

On story : *** (Scale of 5)

On songs : **** (Scale of 5)



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