"Gung (Princess Hours
)" was a major hit television drama last year, propelling Yoon Eun-hye
and Joo Ji-hoon
into stardom. This time, it is K-pop star Se7en
's turn to cash in on the popularity of the romantic comedy period drama, but early signs are ominous - at least for now.
Last Thursday, "Gung S" ("Prince Hours
") featuring Se7en
recorded an 11.7 percent viewer rating, according to TNS Media. The figure means the ambitious television drama of MBC is stuck with the lowest ranking while its competitors from rival stations sprinted ahead.
"Gung S" posted a 15.3 percent rating on its debut on Jan. 10, thanks largely to the attention of viewers who remember the innovative storyline and entertaining characters in its original drama series.
But rating quickly began to decline, with viewers and critics pointing to the not-so-innovative plot and poor acting performances of the main characters including Se7en
's drama debut drew keen interest from his fans and television viewers because he has built up an impressive career as a top-rated singer and dancer.
The four episodes of "Prince Hours
" so far aired have played out the initial part of the key plot in which an obscure Chinese restaurant delivery boy discovers his true identity as a member of the royal family and enters the palace.
The major problem with the sagging ratings is that Se7en
's acting abilities have failed to impress viewers. Even the original Gung series fans expressed disappointment about the similar plot and drab characterization.
The negative response came amid the ongoing dispute between production houses and MBC television station. Eight Peaks led by director Hwang In-roi
produced the first season of "Gung". Things got complicated when Hwang quit and formed his own company Creative Leaders Group 8 to produce the second season.
But Eight Peaks took issue with the license contract, which bars Hwang from using the original title "Gung". Eight Peaks and Hwang's production company, as well as MBC are still in talks to resolve the conflict.
Although MBC and "Prince Hours
" production company assure viewers that ratings will recover, rival dramas - "Dalja's Spring
" and "Surgeon Bong Dal-hee
" - are faring better than expected, casting a cloud over a possible ratings recovery for "Prince Hours
The key is whether Se7en
can adapt himself to the drama format quickly, calling upon his considerable talents as a versatile entertainer.
Set in an imaginary 21st-century reality where Korea has a royal family, the original "Gung" revolved around the lives of Crown Prince Lee Shin (Joo Ji-hoon
) and his new bride, Chae-kyeong (Yoon Eun-hye
The story is based on the popular comic series created by Park So-hee
. "Gung" is still serialized in a local cartoon magazine, and Park has so far published 13 volumes.
By Yang Sung-jin