Miserable, apocalyptic yet magnetic on screen: Netflix’s newest Korean drama shows how the ‘Kingdom’ has fallen

Stories of the walking dead aren’t at all new. It starts with an impossible endemic to stop, and we are all left to follow the survivors’ strife in a decaying city. But it was the South Korean film “Train to Busan” that introduced a new breed of zombies—ones that are lightning fast and blind in the dark—and, for our viewing pleasure, made a once worn out narrative exciting again.

South Korea clearly isn’t done telling its tales about these flesh-eating monsters, especially with the growing popularity of its thrillers internationally (among them “Okja,” “The Battleship Island,” and “The Prison”). And when you put the genre of historical drama and apocalyptic thrillers together, you’re sure to have a new show to binge-watch.

Netflix original “Kingdom” explores a new take on how period dramas are done—quite an ambitious undertaking for the streaming giant’s first-ever K-drama production. Well, the Joseon era had to have more problems than just the assassination of its emperors, right? In this horror series, the royal family is once again at the center of a power struggle, with the crown prince (played by Ju Ji-hoon) framed for treason.

Ju Ji-hoon plays the crown prince in Netflix’s newest horror series/Netflix

But here’s the unveiled twist:  The prince also takes on a quest to uncover the origins of an infectious plague turning his subjects into the undead. His journey towards the truth is much rooted in familial redemption—because from what the trailer suggests, the king himself has become a monster of the palace.

Joseon is facing famine, but the unfruitful land isn’t just what strikes fear in the masses—now they are forced to satiate an evil hunger that lurks in the night. 

“Kingdom” does seem to be cut from the same cloth as “Rampant,” a film by Kim Sung-hoon (the same man behind the famous movie with Gong Yoo as its lead actor), with its shared historical setting and the zombie narrative defying its dystopian archetype.

But one shouldn’t tag the series as an unoriginal concept. After all, the “Kingdom” unites two of Korea’s most compelling industry names—“Signal” screenplay writer Kim Eun-hee and “Tunnel” director Kim Seong-hun. The two industry greats are known for their exhilarating storytelling methods, often surprising fans and viewers alike with the unconventional and breathtaking twists they set.

All episodes will be available for streaming on Jan. 25 next year, and we know we’re putting this drama on our 2019 must-watch list!

Watch the trailer here:

Photos courtesy of Netflix

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