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Spirited art student Shin Chae-Kyung's life turns upside-down when she is told she has been betrothed to her classmate, Lee Shin, who also happens to be the crown prince of South Korea. To save her family from debt, she agrees to the marriage. But complications arise from all sides. The newlyweds can barely stand each other. Shin still pines for former girlfriend and ballerina Min Hyo Rin. Chae-Kyung finds adjusting to palace life difficult. And after years abroad, Lee Yul returns. A past family scandal had displaced him from the line of succession. Now, he is caught between his mother's machinations and his growing feelings towards his cousin's young bride.Written by
That sums up the problem with K-dramas. The producers said that it was hard to make a show based on a graphic novel that hadn't been finished yet. It doesn't seem that they struggled that hard with the challenge since The Palace is just a mindless regurgitation of K-drama clichés that should have been put out to pasture years ago. Here is the premise of this show - Boy loves girl, girl rejects boy so boy gets involved with another girl that he doesn't really like (the only bit of originality in any of these series is why the boy gets involved with the second girl). The first girl then decides that she made a mistake so she tries to get back with the boy. The boy finds himself pulled between his first love and the new girl (because she is cute and good natured). The cute girl leaves the country (to study abroad or for business) and the boy realizes how much he loves her. Sound familiar? It should, it is the exact same plot of every single romantic K-drama that has been released in the last decade (and maybe longer).
When The Palace started I thought it would be different. The costumes and sets are gorgeous and the directing riffs on anime style. But, within a few episodes, the lavish production can't hide the fact that there is nothing new here. Even worse, all the digital trickery of the first few episodes completely disappears.
Here is a breakdown of how a typical episode works. Character meets character and they talk. Next scene of characters sitting and talking. More characters talking while riding in a car. Characters talk while they eat. And finally, characters talk some more. Nothing is ever implied which can be stated. When characters are alone, they talk too. Throw in some tissue thin villains (a vengeful ex-crown princess and her "too pretty to be a boy" ex-prince) and much ado about a retroactive enthronment, and you have a series that would have been long at 12 episodes, but is torturous at 24.
The only person to come through this series looking good is Yoon Eun-Hye who is a Korean Audrey Hepburn. The rest of the cast, especially Kim Jeong-Hoon (boys should be handsome, NOT pretty) and Song Ji-hyo (washed out, mousy, and without an ounce of personality), will leave you reaching for the fast forward button.
And one more thing, if we are supposed to believe that a character spent their entire life in England, the least the producers could do is find an actor that can speak English. Listening to Kim Jeong-Hoon mangle English that he obviously doesn't understand is painful.
Skip this and watch My Name is Kim Sam-Soon. It is the same exact story, too. But at least all the actors are good in that one.
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