In the latest volume of Goong, the ladies of the royal court think they have discovered the perfect solution to Shin and Chae-Kyung’s marital woes: sex. The young couple finds themselves locked in a bedroom on a cold winter night with just one set of bedding and single heating mat. Their options are pretty clear: sleep together or freeze. And freezing is looking like a pretty good choice, given how strained their relationship has become.It may be tempting to roll one’s eyes at this development, but to do so would be a little unfair. Goong has been a soap opera from the very beginning, and any readers who have stuck with the series this far have probably embraced the melodrama. In fact, Goong is arguably at its best when it sticks to its soap opera roots. The romantic and political intrigues–from Shin’s lingering attachment to Hyo-rin to Daebi’s scheming on behalf of her son–are more consistently entertaining than the attempts at comic relief, which almost all misfire. I’ll take another face-off between Shin and Yul over poop jokes any day. (I wish I was making up the poop jokes, but I’m not.)
And there is plenty of intrigue in this volume. Events in volume 5 sometimes seemed stuck in a holding pattern, but here the plot is moving forward. Unfortunately, few of these developments have anything to do with growth on Chae-Kyung and Shin’s parts. Shin continues to be a prat, while Chae-Kyung still shows no signs of having a backbone. She is less put upon than she is in volume 5, but her main role continues to be that of a victim. The characters actually taking action in volume 6 are Yul, his mother, and their supporters. Yul finally makes some decisions regarding his feelings for Chae-Kyung, while his mother continues to put Yul forward as a better choice to be the next king than Shin. The rivalry between Yul and Shin is becoming more and more open.
When I read volume 5 of this series, I offered it a qualified recommendation, and volume 6 is only encouraging me to add more qualifiers. At this point, I’m not convinced that any of the four leads are ever going to be particularly likable, nor do I think I will ever care about the resolution of the love quadrangle; this is not a romance for the ages. On the other hand, the rest of the premise still shows promise. Which prince will end up on the throne, and on what political terms will he make it there? Readers with an interest in plot and setting may want to stick with Goong to find out, but those who primarily read manhwa and manga for the love stories would probably be better off trying their luck with another series.
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
Review originally published at MangaLife.com