If there is 1 thing that is to be said about the K-drama world, it is that we can’t seem to get enough of good K-dramas to watch. The good news is, Netflix has blessed us with a brand new original Korean drama series, titled “Kingdom” (킹덤).
So what can viewers expect from “Kingdom”? A Joseon zombie apocalypse filled with lots of gore. Given the budget that has been poured into production (each episode reportedly costs more than $1.78 million), binge-watchers are in for a treat. “Kingdom” features some pretty stunning visuals on a grand scale.
Directed by Kim Seong Hun, here are 7 reasons to get excited for Netflix’s “Kingdom” series:
1. What is “Kingdom” about?
Set during the 15th & 16th century of the Joseon era – one of the most culturally influential periods of Korean history – “Kingdom” follows a prince’s struggles in dealing with the passing of his father. The problem is, the king hasn’t exactly passed. He has risen from the dead but this news is being kept from the prince and Korea at large. However, the kingdom is thrown into chaos once the undead starts multiplying at rapid speed.
“In a kingdom defeated by corruption and famine, a mysterious rumour of the king’s death spreads, as does a strange plague that renders the infected immune to death and hungry for flesh. The crown prince, fallen victim to a conspiracy, sets out on journey to unveil the evil scheme and save his people.”
2. “Kingdom” is Netflix’s 2nd original series from Korea
Following “Love Alarm”, “Kingdom” is the 2nd South Korean original TV series being picked up by everyone’s favourite streaming service. “Kingdom” consists of 6 episodes, with approximately 50 minutes per episode.
3. Zombies during a medieval period
Why zombies you asked? After the success of “Train to Busan” and “The Wailing”, there seem to be appetite for more full scale zombie entertainment outbreak. Writer Kim Eun Hee wanted to show the contrast between popular period dramas with the bloody undead carnage by mixing genres together. As Unilad puts it, the story essentially reflects the fears and anxieties of modern times through the lens of an historic setting.
“I was interested in the zombie genre. The zombies that I had seen were creatures full of hunger. I wondered what it would be like if it was portrayed as a plague. I came to create this while wondering what it would be like if zombies appeared during the Joseon era where it would be harder to control than now,” Kim Eun Hee on her preparation for “Kingdom” since 2011.
She continued, “In ‘Kingdom,’ people’s necks get cut off, they bleed, and many people die. These kinds of expressions were impossible for existing drama platforms and it was difficult because there were many cruel scenes. I came to do this on the Netflix platform because of the freedom of expression.”
4. Key elements from this era
The Confucianism ideologies at the time dictates that you were not allowed to damage any part of the body, corpses could not be cremated, and also the citizens did not cut their hair. These elements were included because this was the reality of the people living in this particular era. So it’ll be interesting to see if foreign viewers will be able to pick up on these not so obvious tidbits.
5. Meet the cast
The main cast are:
- Ju Ji Hoon as the Crown Prince
- Bae Doona as Seo-bi, a nurse
- Ryu Seung Ryong as Jo Hak Jo, a powerful governor
After Song Joong-ki reportedly turned down the leading role, Ju Ji Hoon was a no brainer to take on the role of a prince who had reclusive charisma. In the beginning, the prince doesn’t really has any ambition and is oblivious to the people’s needs. When reality hits, we see his conflict in wanting to save his people versus saving himself.
He is placed in a predicament where he has to fight the war on 2 fronts – against his political enemies and the living dead. Thankfully, he’ll have some help from a kind hearted nurse named Seo-bi. Despite facing limitations to being a woman in that era, Seo-bi holds the key in solving the problem.
For Ryu Seung Ryong’s character, director Kim Seong Hun wanted someone who could portray Jo Hak Jo as not just a mere evil person but someone with complex undertones. Jo Hak Jo uses his skills of manipulation as his weapon to hold tight to power, and that means eliminating those in conflict with his interest – by any means necessary.
6. Seo-bi’s character arc and her motivation
Seo-bi is from a very low social class who chose the job of a nurse after the war, seeing as how there are a lot of people who are injured and young ones who have become orphans. It is a time when a lot of compassion can be felt, and Seo-bi has the drive to put that into action. With the ability of empathy, Seo-bi is also better at detecting people’s hurt and being a source of comfort to the wounded.
7. Season 2 has already been confirmed!
Netflix believes in “Kingdom” so much that season 2 was confirmed even before the premiere of season 1. The 3 main stars – Ju Ji Hoon, Bae Doona, Ryu Seung Ryong – are expected to return and reprise their respective roles. According to Wikipedia, production for the following season will begin in February 2019.
Watch the trailer here:
“Kingdom” season 1 debuts on Netflix 25th January 2019.