In 2007, Korea is under the rule of its first Queen in the history of the nation. Kang
Hu, who happily rides a battered motorcycle along his Chinese delivery routes, is
the self-proclaimed “handsomest delivery man of Chinatown.”
The monthly “Chinese Delivery Battle” is an important event in Incheon’s Chinese
food industry. The winner enjoys exclusive delivery rights in the harbor area, which
is the industry’s largest customer base, for an entire month?a reward that cannot be
given up without a fight. Cho Sang-gi, the owner of the Palace Chinese Restaurant
where Kang Hu works, is like family to the orphaned Hu. Mr. Cho and Hu join forces
against Bul-bam and his cohort, from a rival Chinese restaurant, in a no-holds-
barred faceoff. Thanks to Mr. Cho’s superhuman cooking speed and dexterity, Hu
receives the requisite bowls of noodles and reports to the battle starting line. But
Bul-bam’s top-of-the-line motorcycle ends up leaving Hu far behind.
Meanwhile, a messenger carrying the queen’s secret missive visits the Palace
restaurant. At the same time, Hu, who is out on a delivery, is ambushed by a group
of unidentified men in black suits...
Kang Hu unexpectedly finds himself living in the palace by the order of Queen Hwa-
in. Threatened by Hu’s unexpected appearance, the extended royal family decides to
hasten the appointment of Lee Jun, son of the powerful Lee Gyeom and an ideal
candidate for the throne, as the Crown Prince.
The Queen introduces Hu for the first time at a banquet attended by the entire royal
family and the aristocracy. However, Hu’s uncultured behavior offends the party
guests. Despite the extended royal family’s objections, the Queen moves to bestow
the title of “Prince Yeongseong” on Hu and formally adds his name to the royal family
register. As a direct descendent of the previous king, Kang Hu must now change his
name to Lee Hu. Divining the Queen’s unspoken intention to make Hu the Crown
Prince, Lee Gyeom tries to deter her by enlisting Shin Jae-man, who is the
candidate to be the next Prime Minister, and proposes that his son Jun become
betrothed to Shin’s daughter Se-ryeong.
Meanwhile, Hu starts to undergo rigorous training to acquire the dignity and
discipline required of a member of the royal family. Court attendant-in-training Yang
Sun-ui, who happens to be Hu’s childhood friend, gets in constant trouble due to Hu’
s antics. At the Royal Academy, a prestigious university for royalty and the
aristocracy, Hu develops an instant crush on Se-ryeong and devotes his efforts to
wooing her rather than to study...
Hu makes an irretrievable blunder shortly before the policy council for deciding
whether or not he will be incorporated into the royal family. Owing to Lee Gyeom’s
machinations, Hu’s mistake becomes known to the extended royal family and his
incorporation into the royal family is postponed. The Queen, who sets out to fix the
problem herself, also suffers a blow.
Jun, who has been groomed his whole life for the position of Crown Prince,
watches Hu’s unruly behavior with a troubled mind. Although Hu is completely
unsuited to be a member of the royal family, he has emerged as the next in line for
the throne on the sole claim of being a direct descendent of the royal bloodline.
Unable to suppress his anger toward Hu, Jun lets his fist fly.
Se-ryeong, who has been watching Jun and Hu’s fisticuffs with interest, informs her
father that she wishes to postpone her engagement to Jun. She intends to wait and
see who the true winner turns out to be. Meanwhile, Sun-ui, who became involved
in Hu’s accident(?) against her will, may have to leave her position at the palace...
The Queen tells Hu that in order to live as a member of the royal family, he must
forget the 20 years he lived outside the palace walls. She adds that the choice is up
to Hu himself. Moved by her sincere words, Hu promises to do his best to adjust to
palace life. However, each day sees another of Hu’s antics splashed across the
media headlines, and the public’s opinion of Hu suffers a continuous decline.
After much deliberation, the Queen makes a deal with Lee Gyeom to allow Hu’s
incorporation into the royal family and manages to win the approval of the extended
royal family. Meanwhile, Jun becomes witness to a series of blunders by Sun-ui
and starts to look with affection on the artless attendant-in-training.
Waiting with her heart in her throat for the decision of the Disciplinary Committee,
Sun-ui vows never to consort with Hu, who has landed her in this mess. On the day
that the promotions for attendants-in-training are announced, Sun-ui’s name fails to
be called out till the very end...
Finally, after many trials and tribulations, Sun-ui is promoted to the post of royal
attendant. Unfortunately, far from relishing her success, she is hard put to hide her
perturbation in the face of Jipyeonggak’s new occupants. When Se-ryeong comes to
the palace to visit Jun, she senses a strange tension between the two young
princes and Sun-ui. She observes the hapless attendant with a wary eye, and
comes across an unexpected revelation.
After being assigned his own quarters, Hu begins to attend the Royal Academy and
embarks on his palace life in earnest. Not a day goes by without some sort of mental
or physical challenge. He also tries hard to make up for his previous mistake, which
had landed Sun-ui and Queen Hwa-in in trouble. Still, he cannot help wondering
why his mother, who had left the palace of her own will, wished to send him back
here. His mother’s hidden story and the royal family’s troubled history are both
mysteries he must unravel.
Bul-bam and Chu-ba come to see Hu at the Royal Academy. Delighted to see his
old friends, Hu tries to hang out with them as he used to but only succeeds in
reminding himself of his radically changed circumstances. As his loneliness and
insecurity deepen day by day, he finds Sun-ui to be his only consolation. They still
argue at every turn, but the more time they spend together, the more Hu finds himself
growing interested in his childhood friend. Soon, he begins to be troubled by Sun-ui’
s familiarity with Jun...
Now that Jun knows about Sun-ui’s longstanding history with Hu, he feels
uneasiness at the sight of them together. Still, he is unable to restrain his deepening
attraction to Sun-ui. Grand Prince Hyo-jang and the extended royal family, buoyed
by Jun’s successful entrance into the palace, apply redoubled pressure on the
Queen to name an heir. She manages to put them off with an uncharacteristically
strong response, but realizes that she needs a more practical means of protecting
Hu’s royal training is intensified by the addition of a dedicated instructor. The Queen
and the Queen Mother appoint Se-ryeong as an aide to assist in Hu’s education.
Despite her father’s objections, Se-ryeong accepts the post, which allows her to
frequent Jipyeonggak and keep a watchful eye on Sun-ui.
Sun-ui, in turn, is irritated by Se-ryeong, who constantly accompanies Hu and
issues all sorts of difficult orders. Receiving an invitation to Se-ryeong’s party, Sun-
ui considers turning down the offer, but cannot bring herself to ignore the gesture of
goodwill; in fact, Se-ryeong has even sent her a dress for the occasion. Se-ryeong,
the queen of the party, wows her guests with her natural gift for dancing. But when
Sun-ui, decked out in a dress instead of her usual uniform, enters the room, the
spotlight suddenly shifts and even Hu and Jun are unable to take their eyes off her...
Hu attempts to restore his suddenly-awkward relationship with Sun-ui, but it isn’t as
easy as it might seem. Whenever he comes near her, she ends up being scolded or
placed in a predicament. Sun-ui, on the other hand, berates herself for repeatedly
hurting Hu’s feelings with words she doesn’t mean.
Amid a constant barrage of lessons, including martial arts and schoolwork, Hu finds
the palace taking up more and more of his daily life. He searches for his own
answers even as he is thrown against towering walls and seemingly
insurmountable obstacles. However, he clashes fiercely with Court Lady Han, who
demands that he not only abandon his treasured belongings and friends but turn his
back entirely on his life outside the palace walls?a conflict that plunges the royal
family into deep concern and anxiety.
Se-ryeong becomes aware of the subtle changes affecting her in regard to Hu: she
finds herself excited and flushed at the sight of the young prince. At the same time,
she is unsettled and hurt by the alteration in Jun, who has returned to playing his
long-abandoned guitar. Meanwhile, Court Lady Han continually drills into Sun-ui the
difference in status between royalty and a mere attendant. Sun-ui laments her
position and regrets not going further in school. When she becomes interested in
applying to the Royal Academy, Jun encourages her. It also causes him to looks
back on the straight and narrow path he has thus far walked in life...
A terrorist attack breaks out at a charity auction that the Queen attends with Jun and
Hu in tow. The assault, which was aimed at the Queen, fails thanks to Hu’s
intervention, but Hu is rendered unconscious as a result and the Court suffers a
serious shock. The incident, however, greatly improves the public’s perception of
Hu; it also allows him to forge a stronger bond with his newfound family. On the
other hand, it brings home to him the existence of hidden antagonistic forces, which
instills him with a sense of responsibility.
Se-ryeong receives a gift from her mother, with an accompanying note conveying
her regrets at not being able to attend her daughter’s engagement party.
Unfortunately, the gift is the same one she sent Se-ryeong on a previous occasion.
Se-ryeong’s loneliness deepens at this evidence of her mother’s indifference, but
seeing Hu, who is cheerful and courageous even though he has also grown up
without a mother’s care, makes her consider her own situation in a new light.
The Queen Mother, who secretly covets Se-ryeong as a potential spouse for Hu,
tries to divine the young prince’s feelings for the girl. However, Hu is increasingly
taken with Sun-ui, with whom he has become far closer since the terrorist attack.
Finding Sun-ui asleep while cleaning his room, Hu lays her down on the bed and
finishes her job for her. Jun goes up against his father, adjuring him not to sacrifice
Se-ryeong to his ambitions, but the irate Grand Duke Hyo-jang merely orders Si-
yeon to discover the cause of Jun’s changed attitude.
Driven by an inexplicable sense of urgency, Hu braves significant risk to visit Sun-
ui. But Sun-ui sends him away with cold words, only to spend the whole night
tossing and turning. Jun conveys a message of encouragement to Sun-ui regarding
her application to the Royal Academy. Sun-ui is confused by Jun’s confession, but
finds herself paying increasing heed to his earnest advice.
Troubled by the change in her son, Yun-hui goes to see Se-ryeong, but the girl’s
evasive replies only strengthen her dark suspicions. Yun-hui visits Jipyeonggak and
observes Sun-ui closely. While returning from school, Hu learns from the agitated
atmosphere among the royal attendants that Sun-ui has once again landed in
trouble. Sun-ui appeals her innocence, but Hu and Jun are the only two people in
the entire palace who believe in her blamelessness. Sun-ui’s predicament causes
the two princes to form an unexpected alliance.
Meanwhile, the incident surrounding Sun-ui reminds Hu of his parents. He visits his
father’s grave, but suffers humiliation at the hands of a group of elderly people who
have been angered by some leaked UCC footage. Hu rails against a world that
would insult his mother for his mistakes, but the Queen sternly tells him that such
injustices should impel him to ponder what his own course of action should be...
Hu turns to his trusted father figure, Sang-gi, for more information about his mother’s
past, but the older man refuses to investigate the issue. He tells Jun that even if
there is a hidden truth, it would be useless if Jun cannot defend it before the world.
The lips of the elder members of the royal family are likewise sealed tight. With each
passing day, the path that Jun must take becomes clearer to him.
To console Hu, the Queen Mother persuades Court Lady Han to return his former
belongings, including his motorcycle and the Chinese delivery case. Hu thanks the
Queen Mother for her kind gesture, but remarks that he no longer has need for such
things. Instead, he asks her for a special favor.
Se-ryeong is distressed to see Jun heading down a path that will likely bring him
adversity and regret, but Jun tells her that he would like to try treading that path
without her help. After overhearing their conversation, Hu asks Se-ryeong if she
would offer him help should he ask for it.
With the release of the Prime Minister’s statement, the members of the extended royal
family flock to the palace. Faced with their clamor for the announcement of an heir,
the Queen declares that she will name her successor at the ceremony celebrating
the seventh anniversary of her coronation. She shocks everyone present by stating
that she will select the person most qualified for the position, regardless of their
place in line for the throne.
Before the royal family elders and the members of the policy council, the Queen
announces that Hu and Jun are to undergo a test to measure their qualifications for
the position of Crown Prince. The test will evaluate the two princes in the fields of
literature, martial skill, art, intelligence, and bravery, which are the educational
ideals of the Royal Academy, and the quality of virtue, which is indispensable for
someone who is to succeed to the throne. The battle between the two would-be
Crown Princes finally begins.
All eyes both within and outside the palace are bent on the battle between the two
princes. Sun-ui, busily preparing for her entrance examination to the Royal
Academy, and Se-ryeong, whose interest in Hu has intensified after the breaking off
of her engagement to Jun, are also anxiously awaiting the outcome of the battle.
The first task in the battle is announced: the restoration of the damaged artwork,
“Gunsangeokdo.” “Gunsangeokdo” is an illustrated poem, but the illustration and the
calligraphy are the works of two different people. The artwork would lose its
significance if the painting and the poem do not achieve a perfect harmony;
unfortunately, the illustrator and the calligrapher hate each other. Hu is charged with
persuading the artist, while Jun is charged with winning over the calligrapher, but
the task proves to be far from easy...
Thanks to Hu and Jun’s efforts, the misunderstanding and secret surrounding
“Gunsangeokdo” come to light; the illustrator and the calligrapher reconcile and
collaborate in the restoration of the artwork. In the process, the secrets shrouding
the creation of the three sets of royal engagement rings and their transmission to
Grand Princes Hyo-jang, Hyo-in, and Hyo-seong are also revealed, causing Hu and
Jun to ponder the meaning and intention behind them. Meanwhile, the Queen finds it
difficult to declare a winner for this first task...
The Court decides to place “Gunsangeokdo” and the three sets of royal engagement
rings on display together, to commemorate their shared significance. Hearing the
news, Jun goes to his mother to recover Hu’s set of rings, but she refuses to hand it
over. Sun-ui, also worried that Hu will be placed in a difficult position on account of
the rings, seeks out Jun’s mother as well. Armed with a steely resolve, she
proposes a deal to Yun-hui...
In exchange for returning the engagement rings to Hu, Sun-ui submits to being
transferred to a vacation palace in the countryside. At Jipyeonggak, Hu and Jun
keenly feel the void left by Sun-ui’s departure. As their hostility toward each other
mounts, the Queen orders the two princes to engage in a martial arts battle as their
second task in the contest for the royal succession.
People close to Hu express concern about the difficulty of the challenge, knowing
that he has next to no experience in martial arts combat and is only just starting to
learn the basics. Hu turns to Cho Sang-gi for aid, and embarks on intensive training.
Meanwhile, at the vacation palace, Sun-ui is alarmed to hear the news that the two
princes will battle each other. Hu and Jun devote themselves to training both day
and night. In contrast to Jun’s seasoned skills, Hu’s knowledge of martial arts
remains basic at best. Se-ryeong encourages and cheers for Hu.
After witnessing Jun’s impressive prowess, Hu throws himself even deeper into
training. In response, Sang-gi counsels him that the only true opponent is one’s
own self and that martial arts is an expression of the spirit. Hu takes Sang-gi’s
words to heart.
However, with the battle just a few days away, Hu experiences paralysis in his
Under the watchful eyes of not only the Queen but also the Court and the entire royal
household, the two princes meet in a martial arts battle?the second task in the test
for the royal succession. The spectators look on with bated breath, among them the
nerve-racked Sun-ui and Se-ryeong. The contest consists of three events: archery,
sword fighting, and bare-hand combat. Everyone is amazed at the vast improvement
in Hu’s skills, but he still struggles to keep up with Jun. The battle between the two
princes continues, with no one managing to gain a significant lead...
As the contest proceeds from one day to the next, Hu seeks out Sun-ui and asks
her to accept his help in pursuing the dream she gave up over his engagement
rings. But Sun-ui declines, saying she must take responsibility for her own choice.
Hu and Sun-ui both feel frustrated that their good intentions toward each other keep
bringing them into inadvertent conflict.
While enjoying a date with Alex, the Queen finds herself unexpectedly pursued by a
band of suspicious men. Hu and Sun-ui, who happened to be nearby, rescue the
Queen and go after the ruffians. Unfortunately, Hu gets hurt again on the same arm
that had been injured previously. With only the last event in the martial arts contest
remaining, Hu’s injury serves as a severe disadvantage in his battle against Jun...
Meanwhile, Sang-gi finds and brings before Hu a person who holds the key to his
Sun-ui, who had been out of contact with Hu since parting with him at the vacation
palace, reappears at the Royal Academy as a student. Hu is delighted to see her
again, but is baffled by her cool and indifferent attitude. Min-hyeok and In-wu chide
Hu for reacting as he did to Sun-ui’s confession. Meanwhile, Sun-ui speaks with
Court Lady Han, affirming her resolve to repay the Queen for believing in her.
Sun-ui’s return makes Se-ryeong anxious on the one hand, while awakening her
feelings for Hu on the other. Finding Hu asleep over the incident report regarding his
mother, Se-ryeong gently caresses his face. The awakened Hu is reluctant to
speak, protesting that it’s too dangerous, but she holds out her remaining hand in
her desire to help him.
Forced to leave on a sudden tour abroad, the Queen issues her orders for the tests
of art and intelligence at the same time. When the contest becomes even more
challenging due to the sudden turn of affairs, Hu’s buddies from Incheon join in the
effort. Seeing Hu smiling for the first time in ages, Se-ryeong enjoys herself as well.
Meanwhile, Hu, who has been named a temporary co-regent alongside Jun in the
Queen’s absence, finds his way into the archive containing the royal family’s
The memoirs reveal new truths that Hu never expected, throwing him into shock and
confusion. The Queen divests Hu’s rights as regent for abusing the privileges of his
position, but Hu casts a deep shadow of concern over the Queen’s heart by
rebelling with unprecedented vehemence.
In the early morning hours, Hu leaves the palace after asking Jun to deliver a
message for him. However, Lee Gyeom demands that Jun use this opportunity to
crush Hu and become the Crown Prince, and Jun, unable to ignore his father’s
injunction, turns his back on Hu’s request. The Queen is enraged by Hu’s departure,
and Sun-ui sets off in search of him.
Hu goes to his mother and asks for the truth, but the dead offers no reply. Seeing
Sun-ui, who has come to find him, Hu finally sheds the tears he has been
desperately holding back. When Se-ryeong comes upon the sight of Hu weeping in
Sun-ui’s arms, her heart sinks, but Hu stops her as she turns to leave. After
returning to Seoul, Hu gives Sun-ui a North Star pendant and kisses her forehead,
saying that he will look at her every time he loses his way from now on. Sun-ui
turns away, not wanting to show her tears, when Hu’s car stops behind her once
Hu is both pained and irritated by the fact that Sun-ui works at the Royal Academy’s
cafeteria. He is unable to tear his eyes off her. Alex invites the two of them to dinner
to thank them for their assistance at the Onyang Palace. With some time remaining
until the dinner appointment, Hu and Sun-ui enjoy an all-too-brief date.
The Queen requests the Lord Chamberlain to convey a letter to Alex. On his way
back to the palace with Alex’s reply and a photograph, the Lord Chamberlain is set
upon by a ruffian. Hu and Sun-ui, who witness the scene, come to his aid, but the
ruffian makes off with Alex’s letter to the Queen and the Lord Chamberlain is placed
in a difficult position.
The Queen’s personal missive to Helvertia is stolen. Lee Gyeom proposes that the
investigation into this theft should be the fifth test, the test of bravery, for the contest.
The Queen accepts this proposal, and the two princes embark on a competition to
find the culprit who stole the letter from the Queen’s office.
Jun succeeds in finding a witness and Hu obtains evidence concerning the crime.
But the respective culprits brought forth by the two princes are two entirely different
The piece of evidence that would clear Su-yeong’s name, which had been in the
late Secretary-General’s possession, goes missing. Hu goes to see Lee Gyeom and
tells him with a steely gaze that everything will soon come to light.
The Queen ignores Hu’s love for Sun-ui and makes plans to wed him to Se-ryeong.
Resolving not to repeat the same mistake twice, the Queen summons Sun-ui. Jun,
learning the news, tells Hu to give up Sun-ui if he can’t protect her, but Hu remains
Driven into a corner, Yun-hui goes to Sang-gi and reveals the entire truth, hurtling
him into shock and bewilderment. It is in this state of confusion that he receives
word of the evidence’s whereabouts...
Hu continues to long for Sun-ui, and ends up going to her house. While he’s
enjoying himself, eating the ramen she has cooked for him, Jun receives an
unexpected phone call from Sang-gi and meets with him in a secret room at a cafe
on the outskirts of Seoul...
When the Queen’s relationship with Alex is exposed, the extended royal family
demands her abdication and the elder members of the Court convene to devise a
countermeasure. Jae-man suggests that the people’s attention could be diverted by
announcing Hu’s betrothal to Se-ryeong, but Hu firmly states that his thoughts
regarding marriage remain unchanged. At this, the Queen Mother chides Hu for
being selfish and stresses his responsibility as a member of the royalty.
Meanwhile, the test of virtue, the final trial in the contest for the royal succession,
comes to a close. When the final results are announced, Lee Gyeom and Yun-hui
smile in satisfaction. But their delight turns out to be short-lived when the rumor
sweeping the Court lands them in a sticky situation. As the incident snowballs, the
conflict between Jun and his father reaches a climax. Driven by his rage, Jun
disappears from the palace...
Having lost the contest, Hu prepares to leave the palace. He feels saddened on one
hand, but is delighted on the other at the thought of spending his days with Sun-ui
outside the palace as average royalty. Meanwhile, Sun-ui becomes troubled when
Grand Prince Hyo-seong approaches her with an unexpected proposal.
Hu presents Se-ryeong with a plane ticket to New York, saying he wanted to give
her what she needed most. Moved by his gesture, Se-ryeong shakes his hand and
asks him to be her good friend.
Si-yeon comes looking for Jun, only to find him in despair and surrounded by
flames. She rescues the inebriated prince, but meets her death in the process.
Jun feels deeply reproachful of his father, who is only concerned about the throne
and appears indifferent to Si-yeon’s death. He goes to Hu and asks him if he is still
interested in bringing to light the truth about his mother...