Exciting news! Acclaimed writer Kim Eun-hee of Signal, Three Days, Ghost, and Sign is in talks to team up with director Kim Sung-hoon of award-winning films A Hard Day and Tunnel for her next drama. The new historical series is called Kingdom, and plans to be shot more like an 8-episode movie rather than a traditional drama. The project is currently in discussions to be a Netflix original series, which would take it outside of the traditional broadcasting model entirely.
Kim Sung-hoon is reportedly a longtime friend of Kim Eun-hee’s husband, director Jang Hang-joon (Ghost, Harvest Villa, Sign), so the collaboration between the writer and director came about naturally after years of joking that they should work on something together. If he signs on, it will be the director’s first foray into dramas on the heels of two hit films—the Jo Jin-woong/Lee Seon-kyun suspense thriller A Hard Day, followed by the Ha Jung-woo human drama Tunnel.
It was reported initially that the project would have a whopping 40-billion-won production budget, but the director stated that the budget, while very large for a drama, wasn’t nearly that high. He does plan to shoot it entirely in advance, and described his method for shooting the drama as “shooting a long movie.” I don’t know whether to be worried or excited. I guess I’m worried for him, and excited for me! He said that the current script is planned as 8 episodes, and they’re considering lengthening it, though he projects that it will still be shorter than 16 episodes.
Kim Eun-hee has been very tight-lipped about the story, but she has dropped hints about it being a sageuk unlike any that we’ve seen before, and that many of her characters will die, as they often do in her dramas. Other descriptions say that Kingdom will include political elements, and that it will be a thriller. Well, I don’t think anyone expected a rom-com from the thriller specialist, but it’s good to know.
I’m a little bummed about the shorter series length, but I can only imagine the scale of a thriller from this writer-director team, and I’m assuming that the blockbuster budget has a lot to do with the limitations on length. I’m curious about the blurring of film and television production in a project like this, and if it’s successful as an original Netflix production a la House of Cards, we could be seeing the start of a very interesting shift in the Korean entertainment industry as well.
Kingdom is currently looking to shoot in the summer and fall, and premiere by the end of 2017.
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