By Han Eun-jung
In a fantasy MBC drama "Kung (Palace)," modern day Seoul is still ruled by a monarchical government. The heir to the throne is an unhappy prince named Shin-yi, who gives into the ways of royal life while secretly dreaming of becoming a film director.
His life changes when he meets his bride-to-be, a bubbly, high school girl.
Chae-kyung joins the Queen for dinner at the palace. The set overall makes use of a majestic palette of forest green, magenta, mahogany and sand, and mixes western and eastern decorative styles in the furniture, wallpaper and ornaments to exude a glowing, elegant atmosphere. /Courtesy of MBC
The marriage between the two is an arranged affair agreed upon by their grandfathers years before they could have a say in it.
MBC makes the out of the ordinary story of Shin-yi (Joo Ji-hoon) and Chae-kyung (Yoon Eun-hye) work with the help of cinematic imagination for the primetime hit drama.
The exquisite interior design of the set of the modern-day royal palace featured in the production is being credited as one of the crucial factors in the drama’s popularity.
"Palace" is currently the second most watched drama on the air.
The drama brings cartoonist Park Soh-hee’s comic book series of the same name, which the series is based on, onto the screen.
Though the piece features a monarchical government and therefore requires many scenes to be shot in quarters likely to have been lived in by a royal family, producers say it was denied permission to enter palaces in Seoul to shoot on palace grounds.
However producers now look back on what was then thought of as a setback and describe it as a "a blessing in disguise."
The series’ artistic director Min Un-ok said while she values the importance of making reference to historical documents, the limitations the drama met in its initial stages gave her the opportunity to "think out of the box."
"It gave me the freedom to go all out with the colors," Min said.
While many have the preconception that Choson Period aesthetics were all about understatement, in actuality they were rich in colors and dynamics, she said.
Min describes the set of "Palace" as a fusion that incorporates traditional Korean decorative styles, which are evident in the windows and walls, and western styles, which are shown with table pieces, upholstery and floral arrangements.
Min is best known for her work in movies. "Palace" is not her first period piece.
She was behind the artist direction of the feature film "Chunghyang" and "Blood Rain," the latter for which she was recognized with an award at last year’s Daejong Film Festival.
However "Palace" is not the result of Min’s efforts alone. Food stylist Ko Young-wook and hanbok designer Bae Young-jin are two names that have been offering their expertise throughout the series’ two years of pre-production to today.
"Palace" airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:50 p.m. Out of popular demand, MBC has extended the series run from its original 20 episodes to 24.
The 18th installment will air next Wednesday.