Kingdom is a 2019 South Korean political period horror thriller streaming television series, created and written by Kim Eun-hee and based on the webtoon series The Kingdom of the Gods by writer Kim Eun-hee and artist Yang Kyung-ilAs Netflix’s first original Korean series,[b] it premiered on January 25, 2019 It stars Ju Ji-hoon, Ryu Seung-ryong, Bae Doo-na, Kim Sang-ho, Kim Sung-kyu and Kim Hye-jun. All the episodes in the series were directed by Kim Seong-hun, with the exception of most episodes of the second season, directed by Park In-je.

Set in the 16th century and three years after the end of the Imjin War, Kingdom takes place in a fictional, medieval-inspired Joseon (modern-day Korea) and blends political thriller and elements from zombie horror. The story follows Lee Chang, the Crown Prince of Joseon, who attempts to investigate the mysterious illness recently afflicting the King, only to find himself caught in the middle of a deadly epidemic ravaging the Kingdom of Joseon. While trying to save the Kingdom from the plague, he must also stop his political opponents from seizing the throne.

The series was positively reviewed, and renewed for a second season which was released on March 13, 2020. A special feature-length episode of the series, titled “Ashin of the North”, was released on July 23, 2021, presenting a focus on the supporting character played by Jun Ji-hyun. The episode acts as a sidequel to the second season of Kingdom and explores the backstory of Ashin, the mysterious character Lee Chang’s group encountered on their journey north to discover the origins of the infected


Set during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty, three years after the Imjin War, the first season of Kingdom follows the story of Crown Prince Lee Chang and his subordinates, who stumble across an unnatural plague that resurrects the dead amidst their investigation of a brewing political conspiracy and rumors of the King of Joseon’s death. Amidst the chaos and death that ensues, Chang meets allies who try to make a stand in the city-state of Sangju before it spreads further into the province, only to discover that the plague has already adapted. The second season picks up during Lee Chang’s struggle to save his people from the spread of the plague and his dynasty from the machinations of the powerful Haewon Cho clan who hides a sinister secret.


Historical horror drama about a zombie outbreak in Joseon.

Review : by txc_vertigo (link)

The Good:

(1) The drama looks absolutely stunning and keeps that movie-like quality going throughout the series. The budget is insane for a kdrama as each episode is reported to have cost more than 1,78 million dollars and it really shows. (Although, believe it or not, it is not the most expensive kdrama this year counted, even when counted per episode). It looks absolutely gorgeous in terms of photography, set design, make-up and CGI.

(2) The writing is absolutely incredible. The drama is an adaption of the webtoon “Burning Hell – Land of God”, written by the screenwriter Kim Eun Hee back in 2014. For those of you unfamiliar, Kim Eun Hee wrote the acclaimed hit drama Signal (2016) and she is one of the best, if not the best, screenwriter currently active in the Korean drama industry. The premise of the show is pretty unique in that it combines the zombie apocalypse with a historical setting. Normally, I would be quite sceptical about an adaptation of such a story to the small screen. However, I can imagine having the original writer of the story central in the production process as well as a large budget backing them is partly what made this adaptation so successful. The drama tells a grim and sinister story in the best way possible as it is full of brutal, ugly and terrifying moments of death, revenge, lies and betrayal which showcases the darkest parts of the human psyche.

(3) The show gets pretty philosophical if you start looking into it as it asks us some pressing but frightening questions. Like many good monster/apocalypse movies, the show asks the viewer: who are the truly dangerous ones, the monsters or us humans? Perhaps the people in power who will do any vile action in order to stay in power are more like monsters than the actual brainless zombies feasting on any living being they come across. Not all people throughout the show view the zombies as monsters but still see them as their neighbors, their friends and family as well as fellow humans and urge for them not to be harmed. This leads us to the question: What makes us human? Consequently, it also makes us wonder: What would you do in order to survive? Would you be willing to cast aside your humanity in order to stay alive? All in all, this drama is very thought provoking all though it might not seem like it from the synopsis and genre.

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(4) The action and the gore is unmatched by any other kdrama I’ve seen. It keeps you on edge and makes everything look as real as possible for a series with fantasy elements. As it is a Netflix production, they can get away with things that would not fly on prime-time Korean television and it is one of the few shows that I can think of in recent history, other than Children of Nobody, that received an age restriction higher than 15+. I suppose the gore could be a turn-off for some people but I think it is used in a fitting way and not just to be edgy or cool. It helps with world building, showing what the world has become in the apocalypse and also provides further insight to how different characters are reacting to going through these traumatic experiences since we get to see and hear the uncensored events.

The Bad:

(1) There were apparently some production issues and a couple of the production staff even died during the filming. The overworking of production teams is probably a more common occurrence than we think in the Korean entertainment industry, but it still sucks seeing something like this happen. Although it doesn’t affect the quality of the show, it is still a flaw of the production cycle as such a tragedy should have been avoided.

(2) Although the acting is very good, some of the great actors feel a little underutilized, mainly Bae Doona and Ryu Seungryong. Their characters have been a bit in the periphery of the story. I’m hoping that will get better in season 2 which seems to be happening as actor Ryu Seungryong actually said in interviews that he will have a bigger role in the upcoming season. Bae Doona received a fair bit of criticism for her tone being different than the standard saeguk tone, however, as it turns out this tone is closer to how the people outside of the nobility spoke at the time. For being her very first historical drama, I think she did just fine.

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(3) Some of the horror elements are a bit cheap, such as the jump scare in the opening throne room scene in episode 1. However, some of the horror is brilliant psychological horror such as the soup scene in episode 1.

(4) There are some comic relief characters and moments thrown into the story. I personally don’t mind it but if you are looking for a dark show that is 100% devoid of any comedy, then this would be a drawback.

(5) The drama is very short, as there are only 6 episodes spanning roughly 45-60 minutes each and ends on a major cliffhanger for a season 2 that is scheduled for 28 February 2020. If you are a fan of longer stories or feel the need to watch the story in its entirety, this would be a clear drawback of the series.

Score: 10 / 10 – No drama or piece of medium is flawless, and if that was the requirement for a 10/10, then no drama would get 10/10. I think this drama is truly genre defining and will stand the test of time as long as season 2 doesn’t royally screw things up.

5/5 - (3 votes)

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