Having interviewed a total of 6 females and 1 male (i.e. Chew Tze) who had completed the entire series, I could pick out a few common threads that emerged in their responses as to why they enjoyed Goong. So, what are the main appeal factors?
1) Memorable soundtracks
2) Good-looking cast
3) Novel concept of a modern monarchy
Social impact — an imagined community
Goong facilitated connections among people of different nationalities, especially Asians, and this can be inferred from the conversations people had on social media platforms like YouTube and forums like Soompi. An imagined community is a group of members who, though not knowing each other, share an image of their communion (Eriksen, 1993). Here, such a community emerges as fans define themselves as members of the Goong camp, even though they will never know most of their fellow members.
Mutual support and encouragement
Fans shared their views as the show progressed and helped each other manage their emotions. For instance, those who posted anti-Hyo Rin comments on the Soompi forum were soon backed up by the responses of other fans who later aired similar sentiments. An example of a fan expressing her anger:
Some attempted to lift spirits by assuring the others that Shin and Chae Kyung would have a happy ending, just as was written in the manhwa. Fans also anticipate each episode’s rating and rejoice when it is good. When some post graphic mashups, others would express their gratitude to those users.
Fans sharing information and addressing each other’s questions:
Clearly, there is much support and encouragement within this community, as if they knew each other in real life. This serves to strengthen the bonds among the users and reinforce their allegiance to this Goong community.
Durability of Goong
Despite the show being 10 years old, there are still some who only began watching it in recent years, and others who are re-watching it, pointing to its durability. This can be inferred from the slew of comments that were recently posted under each episode upload on YouTube. The laggards have only caught on pretty late probably because of the show’s listing on the ‘Recommended Videos’ bar on YouTube, or due to recent content sharing on social media sites like Facebook. It could also be the by-products of the show (e.g. the musical) that led them to watch it. For instance, a TVXQ fan could be browsing through videos of her beloved U-Know Yunho and chance upon his act in the Goong musical. This then stirred her interest in the show, making her decide to watch it.
That the Thai remake of Goong is about to be released in 2016 further drives the message that it can withstand the test of time — of a decade, at least. Obviously, there must still be a strong demand for it and the producers recognise its profitability, hence leading to this production, reflecting the durability of the show.
Fans share content with each other in a bid to contribute to the fan community and establish oneself as a “true follower” of the show. Watch a parody made by students in Indonesia:
And a video montage created by another fan:
Numerous “mashups” can be found all over the Internet and the number of them indicate the popularity of the show. This reflects the strong presence of the Goong fandom and builds the fan identity.
However, compared to other dramas like Dae Jang Geum, Princess Hours did not offer any drama tours to fans, nor did it have any fan meet sessions.