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Kingdom: Series review, part 1

The highly-anticipated Netflix original series, Kingdom, finally dropped this past weekend, and it did not disappoint. It’s no surprise that it lived up to the hype, as the production had everything going for it: the star-studded cast, celebrated writer Kim Eun-hee, and a cinematic director. It’s a satisfying yet horrifying watch, with the show explicitly and graphically portraying this fresh concept of Joseon period zombies. If you’re not one for thrillers or gore, this may not be your cup of tea, but it’s worth a peek to appreciate how effectively the show can frighten you.

As the first Netflix original Korean series, this show sets a high bar by balancing its appeal for a wider audience. In the press conference, the cast and production staff made the case that this drama combined Eastern and Western concepts: the Joseon dynasty and zombies, respectively. Though I would argue that Hallyu isn’t that clear cut, I do think that this series manages to draw in viewers with various interests, whether it be in Joseon, zombies, or Joo Ji-hoon.

This series is halfway between a drama and movie — think Goblin or Mr. Sunshine — and the Netflix medium gives the show liberties that it wouldn’t have been afforded on Korean TV, even on some of the laxer channels. With a budget for movie-like cinematography and disturbing gore for restricted audiences, Netflix seemed to be the only viable platform for this production to deliver on its potential. Luckily, this fusion of content and platform created a noteworthy production, without sacrificing the essence of the K-drama.

We’re covering Kingdom in two parts, with the part one covering roughly episodes 1-4 and part two picking up from episode 5 through the ending. Please try to refrain from any spoilers — we promise that part two is coming soon! Without further ado, let’s sink our teeth into this story.

 
THE PREMISE

Set in the mid-Joseon era, Kingdom showcases a royal court rife with political tensions and tumultuous power struggles. Recent defeats against Japan render the king powerless and undermine the Confucian scholars, who are blamed for misleading the nation with their pedagogy. Power-hungry politicians seek control of the throne while the literally hungry civilians suffer through a famine — so severe that the civilians supposedly eat their dead neighbors who died of starvation. As politicians usurp the throne and political authority, the weak king falls victim to a strange illness that turns him into a zombie. The truth about the king’s demise is hidden for political advantage, and the crown prince sets out to uncover the disease that has overcome his ailing father.

 
MAIN CHARACTERS

Our hero is Lee Chang (Joo Ji-hoon), the crown prince, and first son of the king. While he is the prince, he happens to be the son of a concubine, so his status as an illegitimate son is the primary source of tension with the king’s second wife, the queen consort (Kim Hye-joon). The queen is pregnant with the king’s child, and the child — if it’s a son — will outrank Prince Chang and be next in line for the throne.

While the queen wields immense power, especially with the bedridden king, the real power belongs to the person behind her: Prime Minister Cho Hak-ju (Ryu Seung-ryong). Prime Minster Cho is the leader of the Haewon Cho clan that threatens to take over the royal court. He’s also the father to the queen and the head of the Royal Investigation Bureau, Beom-il (Jung Seok-won). His children are his pawns in the royal palace, and his cold manipulative nature makes him a terrifying enemy, even rivaling the zombies.

Though Crown Prince Chang has a heavy load of enemies, he’s also surrounded by good company. His royal guard, Moo-young (Kim Sang-ho), is a constant companion and protector, and their rapport is occasionally a source of comedic relief. Chang also meets other allies at the local clinic in Dongnae in his search to find the truth about his father’s illness, and they play pivotal roles in the spread of and battle against the zombie plague.

Seo-bi (Bae Doona) is a doctor at the clinic and a mentee of the Royal Physician Lee Seung-hee, who was charged with treating the dead king. She’s a warmhearted doctor with a visible compassion for people. She and a clinic patient, Young-shin (Kim Sung-kyu), are the first ones to experience the threat of the zombie plague, and they’re the two sole survivors from the clinic. After consulting her mentor’s medical journals, Seo-bi searches for the fabled resurrection plant that holds the key to this plague.

Clinic patient Young-shin is also an ex-soldier, and his nimble instincts serve him well in the fight against the zombies. He shares a hometown with Prince Chang’s mentor, Lord Ahn Hyeon (Heo Joon-ho). Young-shin becomes a guide for Chang as he seeks out his old mentor, who has retreated to his hometown to mourn his mother’s death. Lord Ahn Hyeon was a minister in the royal palace and played a large role in the nation’s victory against a Japanese invasion, but he has withdrawn from politics since his mother’s death. Crown Prince Chang believes that his mentor can cure the corrupt palace and sets out to find him.

 
THE STORY

At the king’s palace, Royal Physician Lee Seung-hee leads a young boy carrying medicine to the king’s quarters. As the physician prepares his treatment, the boy hears a menacing growl, and against the physician’s warning, he takes a nervous peak through the veil. The boy is dragged into the king’s chambers by a monster, and this first glimpse into the palace informs us that the zombie king is patient zero. This introduction appropriately sets the mood for the series: relentlessly chilling and mysterious.

Throughout Hanyang, posters speculating the king’s death cover the streets, and the scholars are arrested for conspiring against the king. Despite their painful punishments, the noble scholars stay resolute to their assertions that the greedy politicians — particularly from Haewon Cho clan — are the traitors, the true bane of the Joseon’s welfare. Prime Minister Cho, a skilled rhetorician and manipulator, deduces that the scholars’ conspiracy about the king’s death implies their demand for their new king and culprit of treason: the crown prince.

We first meet Crown Prince Chang kneeling in front of the young pregnant queen, as he begs for permission to see his ill father. The queen disallows it and humiliates him by demanding that he show more respect to his stepmother. Though Chang maintains his composure in front of the snide Queen, he privately expresses his annoyance to his personal royal guard, Moo-young. Chang is refreshingly more informal with Moo-young, and their banter balances out the political intrigue with welcome levity: To get Moo-young on board with his plan to sneak into the king’s palace, Chang bribes his guard with the quality beef for Moo-young’s pregnant wife.

The main conflict lies between Prime Minister Cho and Crown Prince Chang, but it’s interesting that they rarely interact in person. The only time they come face-to-face with each other is when Chang gets caught sneaking through the palace, trying to catch a glimpse of his ill father. Chang forces his way into his father’s quarters, only to find Prime Minister Cho, who validates the prince’s claims of seeing a monster but accuses the prince of being that monster — a power-hungry son wishing for his father’s death. Though it’s a short interaction, it encapsulates the core conflict: the thirst for power.

While it initially seems like Prime Minister Cho is unfairly trying to frame Chang, we later learn that the prince is actually behind the scholars’ movement to dethrone the king. Chang admits that he wanted to save himself from his inevitable fate if the queen were to give birth to a son, who would become the legitimate heir to the throne.

The Haewon Cho clan intends to seize the throne by keeping the dead king “alive” until the queen gives birth to the heir, and Prime Minister Cho does everything in his power to ensure that the king stays alive, even if it’s not in a human state. Without blinking an eye, the cold-blooded prime minister watches a shackled zombie king pounce and growl right in his face.

After discovering empty pages in his father’s medical records, Chang suspects that the physicians are hiding something about his father’s illness. Chang and Moo-young find a note that former Royal Physician Lee Seung-hui visited the palace from Jiyulheon, a local clinic located in Dongnae, and they leave the palace to find answers.

As Chang and Moo-young track down Lee Seung-hui, they learn that the former royal physician returned to Dongnae with a boy who fell ill. According to their source, the dead boy didn’t look ill; rather, it looked like it had been ripped up by an animal. Chang commits himself to finding what happened to his father by traveling to Dongnae, and Beom-il — head of the Royal Investigation Bureau and son of Prime Minister Cho — trails right behind him under his father’s orders to stop the prince, even if it means killing him.

The Jiyulheon clinic family eagerly greet Lee Seung-hui when he returns, but they’re met by a somber doctor bringing home a dead boy — the one killed by the zombie king. That day, Seo-bi finds patients happily eating a meat soup at Jiyuheon. Young-shin claims that he hunted a deer to cook, and Seo-bi believes him until she refills a bowl for a patient and finds a finger. OH HELL NO. These patients are eating the dead body that returned with the physician, and this is how the disease spreads. Truly horrifying.

Seo-bi scolds Young-shin for brewing up the dead boy, but Young-shin isn’t sorry. He asserts that this is their only way to survive this deadly famine. While they argue, the patients start to choke on the soup and pass out one by one, their eyes rolling to the back of their heads. All the patients lie dead, and the one remaining lady doctor cries in shock. Night falls, and the dead patients start to rise and viciously feed on the lady doctor. For our first impression of the zombie plague, it’s downright terrifying.

With the rise of the zombies, the power struggle for the throne seems secondary, but these two main conflicts are subtly woven together. The imminent danger posed by the zombie epidemic serves as a reflection of the menacing plague of corruption in the royal court. They’re intrinsically the same conflict, rooted in irresistible hunger.

Seo-bi and Young-shin somehow survive the zombie outbreak, but Chang disrupts their efforts to keep the zombies contained. Chang and Moo-young discover Jiyuheon in bloody shape, with bamboo spears surrounding the perimeter walls and a pile of dead humans under the floor. The dead bodies are taken to the office of Magistrate Cho, a newly appointed magistrate from the Haewon Cho clan. Magistrate Cho is a cowardly and incompetent pushover, but he offers some comedic relief and develops a cute crush on Seo-bi.

The only potential cure for this zombie outbreak is the purple resurrection plant — supposedly both the cause of and cure for this deadly disease. Chang and Moo-young find Seo-bi in the Frozen Valley, digging for this resurrection plant because this is the only source recorded in the medical journals. The mention of this mysterious plant is brief, but it will surely be vital to curing this epidemic, if that’s even possible.

At the magistrate’s office, the sprawled-out corpses contort and twitch as they wake up and begin to chase their human prey. At Jiyulheon, Beom-il, who had come to arrest the prince, falls prey to the zombie condition, and Chang effectively defends himself by decapitating zombie Beom-il. While the visual of the decapitated head is over-the-top, it shows us that decapitation is one of the few methods to eliminate a zombie for good.

The spread of the zombie epidemic is terrifying, with the cruel visuals of swarming zombies feeding mercilessly on their prey, but it’s also creative and engaging. There’s variety in how the zombies kill their prey, and while all the circumstances of zombie contact look equally awful, the family sacrifices feel the most sadistic: a son who gets bitten just as he tries to save his ill father and proceeds to feed on his father; a mother who hides one daughter in a chest after getting bitten, only to feed on her other daughter. The zombies are also great runners, and their pursuit of the humans feels like an actual life-threatening chase.

Meanwhile at the palace, Prime Minister Cho and the queen watch the zombie king feed on a young court lady. The queen tries to hide her discomfort while her father orders her to look at the weak king to teach her unborn child the consequences of losing power. He’s kind of the worst.

Chang and Moo-young just barely survive the zombie chase by jumping off a cliff and because apparently zombies can’t swim (taking a mental note of that). The few remaining survivors cower in fear through the night until the sun sends the zombies to hide in the shadows, which is just as repulsive of a visual as zombies swarming around to feed.

In daylight, Chang takes charge and orders the soldiers to destroy all the zombies before nightfall and evacuate the survivors onto their last remaining ship. Despite witnessing the wrath of the zombies, the higher-class villagers are resistant to the idea of burning their precious family members because it be disrespectful to their nobility. It’s a classic Joseon manifestation of classism, and it’s even more ironic in the context of a zombie apocalypse.

The Chief Scholar — head of Sungkyunkwan — hears suspicious reports about corpses being discovered in the king’s palace, and he plans on enlisting the support of Lord Ahn Hyeon. When Prime Minister Cho intercepts a letter from the Chief Scholar to Lord Ahn Hyeon, he doesn’t seem concerned about the Lord Ahn Hyeon influence in the opposition. His confidence that Lord Ahn Hyeon could never oppose him is curious and raises questions about what side this powerful figure would be on.

While the villagers prepare for their escape, Chang confirms through Lee Seung-hui’s medical journal that the resurrection plant brought the king back to life. He finally accepts that his father has passed, and we get a rare glimpse of the alive king giving the young prince to stay alive. It sounds more like a sad plea, one that the king doesn’t anticipate will come true, but it stuck with the prince and drives him in his battle to survive. The crown prince decides that he must go to Lord Ahn Hyeon to gather support for his fight against Prime Minister Cho.

The ship departs from Dongnae with only the aristocrats of the village, leaving all the poor civilians in the zombie-infested village. Though everything seems resolved on the ship, we later learn that an aristocrat mother brought on a chest with her zombie son in it, and they suffer the consequences. Serves them right.

Though justice may have been served against the cowardly aristocrats, the remaining villagers still need to find shelter from the zombies. With the sun quickly setting and nowhere else to go, the villagers rush to Jiyulheon. It was the only proven place that the zombies couldn’t escape from, so they couldn’t get in, right?

Luckily, this logic proves true, but the process of getting there is a heart-pounding race with zombies running at full speed. It’s in this chase that we learn of Young-shin’s expert shooting skills, as he shoots the heads of the zombies at their tail with perfect aim. Moo-young finds Young-shin’s gun-handling skills suspicious and dangerous, but he’s the perfect choice as their guide because he shares a hometown with Lord Ahn Hyeon. Plus, he’s an ex-soldier and could probably share a survival tip or two.

Chang proves to be a noble prince for the people, staying behind to ensure the safety of the elderly instead of running off to save himself. He’s also generous, giving away his food to the children and providing his meat to the hungry villagers. The relief from the zombies and hunger is short-lived, however, as the royal guards arrive at Jiyulheon to arrest the prince for treason and killing Beom-il. When the prince hesitates to surrender, arrows fly mercilessly into the former clinic, unfairly killing the villagers who have just escaped death. These people can’t catch a break!

Chang freezes in shock and guilt, but when Young-shin yells at him to take responsibility, he comes to his senses. While I agree with Moo-young that Young-shin seems like a suspicious lad with combat skills far too advanced for a commoner, he offers a nice balance to Chang’s noble idealism. His cynicism grounds the prince in reality and his role as a guide to Sangju also seems figurative. Chang and Moo-young sneakily mislead the royal guards and swiftly escape towards Sangju, with Young-shin and Seo-bi accompanying them for their journey.

The cascade of signal fires from Dongnae eventually alert Hanyang, and the Chief Scholar decides that he must defy orders and see the king in person. Prime Minister Cho unexpectedly allows this and leads them to the zombie king against the Queen’s orders. The tension between Prime Minister/Father and Queen/Daughter is palpable, but it’s clear that the Prime Minister is the true wielder of power.

Prime Minister Cho gets his way and reveals the terrifying state of the king as the sun sets. Once again, the prime minister uses crafty framing and rhetorical questions to insist that the king — despite being a zombie — is alive and undeniably still the king. Anyone who denies this has committed treason, including the crown prince and Chief Scholar Kim Sun.

We find out the true reason for Prime Minister Cho’s pivot in strategy, why he chose to reveal the king’s true state to the ministers. The royal army had brought back the decapitated head of his son, Beom-il, and he has a new prerogative to kill the king and anyone who gets in his way. He tells the queen that her only deed is to give birth to a son to inherit the throne and ruin Chang for good.

 
COMMENTS

When I first heard about the premise of Joseon zombies, I honestly chuckled a little. Joseon-era zombies seemed like a funny fusion concept to me, and boy, was I wrong. This show is terrifying. The director effectively captures the essence of the zombie to instill real fear and repulsion for these monsters, and I feel absolutely no empathy for anyone once they become a zombie. It’s an interesting process to feel bad for someone’s death and immediately turn on them, but I think that’s kind of the charm of it. The actors who play the zombies certainly deserve high praise for their extremely convincing performance and commitment to portraying these contorted ex-humans. This show could not have been this enjoyable without these chilling monsters running after you like Olympic athletes.

I found the theme of hunger to be well-embedded in the story through the hungry civilians, the hunger for power, and the blood-thirsty zombies. This constant thread ensured that the seemingly disparate storylines — the palace conflict and the zombie conflict — felt connected. Lee Chang and Prime Minister Cho navigated their “hunger” very differently, though they were direct enemies in the battle for the throne. I think their “hunger” manifested differently because their motivations differ. Prime Minister Cho is an ambitious and calculating politician who needs political power to fulfill his dark soul while Chang seeks political power for survival. Lee Chang is a more nuanced hero — slightly unqualified but has the heart to become a king for the people.

The cast really delivered in this series, but the compelling performances were expected. I knew that the veterans would deliver no less than perfection, but I was pleasantly surprised by the actor who plays Young-shin: Kim Sung-kyu. I could tell he was putting in 110% in all the action scenes, and I was impressed. He’s definitely a character to keep an eye on, and I’m curious to see how he contributes to the political side of this conflict. Also, I were to ever find myself in a zombie apocalypse, Young-shin would be my first pick to get me out alive. Maybe he’s kind of sketchy, but I trust my survival instincts, which are at their peak after watching this series. Dibs on Young-shin!

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I was wondering if there would be a post about this show and I am glad there is. Thanks.
Yeah sure, Joseon-era zombies could have been very odd but there is pure quality in this show regarding the visuals, the actings and the themes. I feel the same commitment that we may find in a movie and it is really gratifying... Can't wait for what comes next!

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Food safety tip of the day - eating "long pork" is dangerous because any disease it has is a disease you can catch, like laughing sickness. Consume only well-cooked, fresh-slaughtered meat from healthy individuals.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuru_(disease)

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Sound advice for every kind of meat ;)

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Thank you, Dramallama, for the excellent recap(s). I am not a zombie aficionado or a sageuk watcher, and I absolutely loved this series. It completely works; I am so impressed with how the storylines are believable and grounded in human behavior. Loved the actors, the story, and the phenomenal production.

Zombies rule.

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Agree, Minister Cho and Young Shin were scene stealers, but both are both of them are responsible for zombie plague. I liked whole Cho clan too, bunch of interesting individuals for sure. Zombie were terrifying because of the amazing speed and agility but scene with children were too much.

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This drama scared the hell of me! I kept wondering when did Zombies get so damn fast. I can't wait for the second session.

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"Without further ado, let’s sink our teeth into this story."

*giggling*

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Nooooo! You called dibs on Young-shin while I was distracted by your puniness! T___T

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I watched this show over two days and I loved it! The zombies are terrifying, but honestly I'm here more for the characters. Youngshin may be shady but the way he fights off zombies makes my heart skip a beat. The prince is also a well-written character, especially with the 'hunger' described here. His motivations in saving the people are not purely bc he wants to save them, I can sense that he wants to be seen as a hero more than anything else so that he can prove himself to be different as he said multiple. He's an interesting character to analyse for sure.

As for Seobi, honestly she's just a badass. We haven't really seen much of her character, but I can see that there's more to her. Idk if any of you mentioned, but when Youngshin mentioned that the villagers often fed on people she seemed shocked, which points that she isn't used to such things. So I wonder if she came from nobility

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The prince's guard is a huge marshmallow but I'm preparing myself in case he doesn't turn out to be the way he seems to be.

One other character I am interested in is the Queen. She's definitely heartless, but I can sense that it's more bc of her upbringing than actually being evil. There are times where she seems uncomfortable and she did stand up to her father. That doesn't redeem her though, especially not with what she does in the later episodes. But she'll definitely grow to be more interesting if they keep writing her that way.

Honestly I just want the second season to be here already so I can ding it but we still have a long wait. Plus if things continue to go well there'll definitely be a third season since I don't believe they can wrap up the story in twelve episodes though I might be proven wrong

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Coincidentally ep1-4 and then 5-6 is exactly how I watched this show.

I like this show a lot. The pace is fast, some characters died unexpectedly early (the little girl and the son of Prime Minister - the way they were set up feels like they would be around for much longer), the zombies are scarily fast, and the prince as a character is likable. Bae Doona doesn't quite have the sageuk speaking tone, but it doesn't quite bother me, I just find it quite cute haha :D Can't wait for season 2!

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decapitation is one of the few methods to eliminate a zombie for good.

Also reportedly quite effective on humans :)

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Also vampires, basically it's the best way to deal with enemy of any kind, unless it's hydra.

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The first time they showed a head actually come off (unlike the standard kdrama neck slices), I was like, whooaaa😳 this is not your typical sageuk.

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I love this show.

My only criticism is that for a while there in episode 3 (if I remember the episode number right), I may have simply fast forwarded over large chunks of the zombies chasing and knawing at the villagers and all that. And therefore gotten through it in some 15 mins. 😅 I'm bad at watching horror, and this was genuinely horrifying.

But because of the fast forwarding I realised that each episode can be broken up in large clunky bits - day, night, day, night. And night got a bit repetitive even if it remained horrifying. I'm glad they introduced a respite night in ep 4.

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At the discovery they ate a human my automatic geeky response was to yell at the screen "Soylent Green is people!" in just the right Charlton Heston voice 😅😂

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Haha! I immediately thought of Soylent green too when the whole scene was built up towards the suspicious "deer".

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Anytime someone says "this is the most delicious meat I've ever eaten" you gotta just assume they're eating human. It's a trope, I think.

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So how long was the king actually ill(or not dead)? Because I remember one of the flashbacks of the prime minister telling the physician to keep him alive just like he did 3 years ago. Does it mean he used the resurrection plant before or was it something else?

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The King was just recently dead (a couple months based on the royal physician's records). But PM Cho was saying that the physician did a similar "thing" three years ago, which I assumed was about using the resurrection plant on someone else?

I have a theory about that and Lord Ahn-hyeon. He's been in reclusion, mourning his mother for three years. That's probably not coincidence, right? And Minister Cho is confident that Lord Ahn-hyeon won't side against him when it comes to the zombie issue. Then there was that throwaway line during Lord Ahn-hyeon's introduction: he's famous for winning a war against 30,000 enemies with only 500 soldiers in his command. That's 1 soldier for every 60 enemies, almost impossible unless your soldiers can't die. *hint hint*

Gaaah, I have more theories but I can't remember if my supporting data is from before or after episode 4 so I'll save them for the next review. *wriggles in anticipation like a zombie at dusk*

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Wow! That actually sounds plausible.

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There was a scene with king decaying a time goes by, but he wasn't that bad in earlier episodes, so it seems that it wasn't that long since he was turned.
And the fact, that Minister Cho knew about this possibility to keep king ekhem "alive".

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You mean Lee Soon Shin also used zombies to fight againt the Japanese? *giggles*

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The show could be saying that hehe

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But you can’t control this crowd of zombies, leave alone wage a war with them. And then there is no ‘defeat’ since they don’t really die.
Seems like a convulated way to wage a war. But I agree, there is a tie back to 3 years back. But it always nags me if Young Shin made the soup knowing the repurcussions of his actions.

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I don't think Young shin had any ideas about zombies or consequences of feeding zombies to people- he just wanted to feed the hungry people

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If you know how to crowd-control them, you can weaponize them. Though it's a huge gamble (also inhumane), but some "great" leaders would think it's worth the risk.

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The biggest problem would be how to contain all that zombies after the fact, because they tend to multiply, so starting with let's say 10 well trained zombies, they would end with army of zombies on the enemy side, and logistic nightmare to find and destroy them before next sundown.
But I just remember that initial disease by bite wasn't so fast spreading as this one, so who knew.

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Lord Ahn-hyeon also knows how to kill the zombies as what Seobi is saying.

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Exactly. I think they used zombies before, and then took aggressive measures to keep them from spreading... well apparently the previous time the zombie bites didn't cause instant conversion. So they'd have time for a decapitation crew to come in behind and clean everything up.

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I like your theory and I agree with you. Lord Ahn-hyeon definitely is hiding something shady and may not be the noble hero people make him out to be.

One thing to note though, is that the doctor kept saying that 'it' is evolving. Because the boy remained dead even after being bitten and didn't turn, so that's something that did not happen 3 years ago when it was first used.

Maybe what happened to the king may not even be how it happened then. 'Cos Seo bi said that the doctor kept saying that the disease 'started' in Hanyang, which should be the king (unless it's alluding to someone else who was in Hanyang 3 years ago like Lord Ahn, but it wasn't a 'disease' then). And when the doctor came back he seemed shocked; and was holed up in his room looking through his notes which seems like he has no idea what the hell just happened

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I feel like the actor who plays Young-shin is definitely the break out star of this show. I googled him and was surprised that he has very little work to his credit, some of the characters he played in the past don’t even have names.

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I love this series! Tbh I had to skip around the scariest part so this review helps clarified a couple of moments for me (lols), but the characters and setting are so compelling I couldn't stop.

I had the same feelings toward Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House. So scary, but too good to refuse. xD

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I thought the series was just okay. I actually laughed in parts of it. I also think the zombie apocalypse could have been prevented by critical thinking and common sense. The acting was A+, while the storyline was C-.

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Never underestimate the banality of disaster.

"Memories of Murder" (one of SKorea's greatest films)_basically a story that "could have been prevented by critical thinking and common sense". I always read this as the critique of the tragedy inbuilt in Korean social hierarchy.

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But that's the thing. The author Terry Pratchett repeatedly brings up the question in his books how common is common sense.

Think about Typhoid Mary who not only refused to believe she might be the source or cause but refused to take precautions in handling food (although looking it up she did briefly stop cooking but returned because the money was too low as a laundress).

Or more recently the outbreaks of diseases spreading because the rate of being vaccinated is lowering.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/19/health/california-whooping-cough/index.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/measles-epidemic-europe-record-high-symptoms-vaccines-who-world-health-organisation-a8499491.html

Or during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
https://www.dailynews.com/2014/10/13/some-people-would-rather-die-of-ebola-than-stop-hugging-sick-loved-ones/

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Basically, there's a lot of factors that go into the decisions people make and they're not always going to be prioritzing what they might feel like is just a hypothetical risk, situation, or person.

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I actually think that much of the decisions made absolute sense in the era. Cannibalism is gross but during times of famine people have resorted to such desperate measures. The investigation of what seems to be a mass murder scene is also common sense. The old Yongban woman not leaving her nth-generation single lineage son behind is just typical conservative stubbornness.

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@geliguolu
Did Young-Shin spike the soup deliberately?
- He deliberately sought out the doctor after he created the zombie king
- We know there is a mole
- He came from Sangju (Lord An Hyun's villiage)
- Lord An Hyun knew of the zombies (past experience)
- Something bad happened to the people from his home
- Young-Shin knew about people in south eating people
- Did Young-Shin know about how zombies spread from experience?

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YoungShin knew nothing about the zombies otherwise he wouldn’t have served the boy’s flesh to the sick camp.

Everyone is skeptical of YoungShin simply because he has gun skills that’s uncommon. On top of that he’s from a region infamous for inhumane survival tactics — Like cannibalism or raiding wrecked ships, buried the bodies, and attempted to kill everyone who knew that happened.

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I can't say one way or the other...Happy for others to create a different reading. I am only asking the question as the show leaves too many pointers (without answers)

When I read your post...the obvious point also hit me:
- Notice - He did not eat the soup
- He managed to avoid being bitten and knew how to contain the zombies.

People often want to open Pandora's box just a crack to use its power....it never ends well

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That’s like asking how that clumsy magistrate still manage to be alive.

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Clumsy magistrate was saved by Seo-Bi who already knew what to do. After that, his is the classic survival of the throw everyone else under the bus to save yourself.

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That was a rhetorical question 😅

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These are the writer’s designated survivors.

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No I think ... well, I think we're getting into ep 5-6 territory.

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There is always the case, but during the famine even in XX century cannibalism still happened. And the boy was believed not sick, but killed by wild animal, same with investigation, what was more probable, that some horrible massacre take place by unknown assailant or zombie plague breakout?

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It wasn't even the cannibalism so much as it was taking the zombies out of the healing center. There are stakes everyone, everyone of the bodies is scratched up. My literal first instinct is burn them, burn them because of disease. Not a massacre or murder, but maybe that is a modern sensibility because I've read so much about plagues. So fair points to all. Ha

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Even in modern times, if government ppl see a scene like that, they’ll look for answers. They will take better precautions, like suit up avoid contamination but they’re not going to burn things down without knowing the slightest reason.

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I think this is different. The containment in modern times would be different, in that they have faster ways of knowing something isnt disease or mass murder. Although, i firmly believe they would only keep some samples, but not all 47. That being said in the middle ages at a certain point even they knew to burn the body. Burying simply wouldn't make sense. I may be wrong, but thwor reactions didnt follow for me.😊

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@kafiyah-bello Mass murder or disease, they still have to look at each corpse and identify the individuals. That’s why the corpses were laid out. They just didn’t have time to finish because the culprit was brought in and then sunset came.

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Haha, yes if we start with a notion of zombie apocalypse or even plague, but for unassuming civilian whatever happened in the clinic looked like man-made massacre not some weird illness, there was blood everywhere and bodies were hide from the sight, and it's not like a body can hid itself, right ;)

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This is true, but when they pulled out the bodies and they were all scratched up, i would have thought someone put them there. The stakes were also pointed inward to keep things in. The door was firmly locked. So i would have assumed disease. Im still not sure why Bae Doona's character and the other guy didn't burn them, honestly.

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@kafiyah-bello, Bae Doona character believed they can be cured, so they contained them and she was looking for "resurrection flower" the doctor talked about before he himself was turned.

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The instinctive thought to burn them was what we kept talking about as we watched the first few scenes. But it make sense that the characters might not be familiar with such options since zombies are new to them!

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OhMyGod!! Fast running zombies are TERRIFYING!! But the most chilling part for me was when Joseon cops were pulling out the dead from under the floors and how they were clustered into one tight bundle to avoid daylight..that was downright Horrifying! 😨
There are some aspects that iffed me though..like some shots are slightly unnecessarily prolonged. I don't exactly remember any examples but I encountered quite a few moments like that throughout the series..and another was BDN and the queen's acting..I know BDN is a fantastic actor but here, it felt kinda lackluster (I'm sorry 🙏) and the queen actress feels green to me..other than that KINGDOM is amazing and a must watch!

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Thank you @dramallama for the recap. I’m curious about the show but can’t tolerate horror or zombies. I’m always drawn in by horror premises but the images stay with me for way longer than they should. I decided a long time ago that peace of mind outweighs my curiosity. So your recap was a nice way to experience the story 🙂

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE this show!! Everything is perfect. I love the zombie premise! There was so much tension and boy, that 3rd episode had me at the edge of my seat. I never looked forward to sunrise as much until this show.
Love the casting, camera work, tight screenplay, locations etc.
I only wish Bae Doo Na had more screen time!!
How long do we have to wait for Season 2??!!

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One of the things I liked about this show is the portrayal of the crown prince. He is not the perfect hero of other saeguks (even in terms of fighting skills; I like how he struggled when fighting Minister Cho's son. I got the feeling that he could very well be wounded or killed). Our crown prince has the makings of a good king. He has both strengths and weaknesses, and his heart is in the right place.

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I agree, and this hero's journey has a lot to do with why I loved it so much

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Yes!! I love that he is such a non-hero protagonist.

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Is no one gonna bring up the fact that Yeong Shin was the reason why the disease even spreaded initially??? He messed up at the worst way possible.

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Unintentionally I think. He had good intentions to feed the sick but didn’t know the body was infected. From what was discussed about his character and the possibility that he was part of an elite squad, it made sense that he would resort to that solution to stay alive. Maybe that’s why he wanted to guide the crown prince to Sangju and stayed to help fight the zombies. He knew he messed up big time.

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It could have been unintentional. I am wondering if the doubt cast around his character is meant to mislead us. He does have his own secrets, but they may be unrelated to the outbreak.

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I also think his motive to save the crown prince is for redemption of his mistake. If he knew the boy’s flesh had such an effect, he would have fed it and left. He didn’t drink it only because he was too busy arguing. He also could have left the camp after that night, not collecting bamboo to make barriers to contain the zombies. If you suspect he did it to be entrusted by the prince for some reason, how would he have known the prince is coming?

My guess of his gun skills is that he’s a Japanese soldier left behind after the wars.

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But wasn't CP's guard guess that Young Shin is a tiger hunter? I don't remember in which episode it was, sorry if it's spoiler, and soldiers that came to the clinic had guns too.

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He did say that. He just guessed since they’re the only ones in Joseon trained to shoot rifles. If they thought outside of Joseon, the Japanese army is trained to shoot as well.

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@geliguolu, but wouldn't at least accent betray him, if he was Japanese?

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I’m just guessing, cuz he does act all
suspicious.

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@geliguolu, yes, it's just I think that if he wasn't Korean, someone would pointed it out, I thought he was marauder or army deserter because he was accustomed to taking initiative.

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So glad this show is being written about. I watched it in one sitting along with my husband who never watches Korean drama. The premise was interesting and the acting was awesome! Loved the cinematography of the opening sequence! It’s weird to think of a shot of a dead body and funeral rights as lovely but that’s what I thought when I saw the opening sequence 😬

I liked that even the good guys had shades of grey. The crown prince did commit treason which was surprising to me. Magistrate Cho’s crush on SeoBi was cute. YoungShin is an awesome character and I want to know more about his back story. MooYoung turns out to be a smart and observant bodyguard and his relationship with the prince is interesting. All in all a good show. I hope the second season comes soon!

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Yes, the opening sequence was eerily beautiful

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Scarily beautiful! Somehow I keep seeing it as the Prince getting treated for being a zombie. I've got to be wrong........right?!

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I though that it's the scene of King being turned into zombie?

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Same, but after watching again (and again) I'm beginning to think it really looks like the prince

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@mayhemf @shach
Potential spoiler! I just read an interview with Joo Ji hoon where he talks about his shock upon reading the script for season two. He then says, "...there are no guarantees that my character is going to live to the end. In season one of Game of Thrones the main character dies..."
Again, I would swear that is him being treated for zombie-ism in the opening.

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1st ep: watch at wrong time (during breakfast) and end up with not eating almost allday due to soup scene.
2nd & 3rd: watch with hubby. We were laughing so hard at scenes when zombies awake and poor the guy on the side of the same headlock with zombie ( totally hilarious 🤣).
4th: what a brilliant Minister Cho in his power. True king maker with most devilish action.

Conclusion for now: it was kind of predictable storylines (political striation and weak governance by true leader). But, I do hope for quick release of Season 2).

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just drop in to say I LOVE THIS SHOW! And cannot wait to see season 2 very very soon (they start shooting in Feb I heard)

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thanks
havent watched yet, don´t have Netflix subscription. hopefully I get to.

for now I am turning into a zombie myself from making too many fire sculptures using rusty wire and my hands all cut up

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Watched many K-dramas and plenty of zombie movies but this one is an interesting mix that is SO heart-stopping! Finished the season in 2 nights despite my super busy schedule 😄 The cinematography is crazy impressive, hands down! Great character building. Amazing acting by the cast (including those terrifying zombies!) Suspense level 10/10. Gosh this recap is so well written and the side comments are hilarious! Yeah, why are these zombies all Olympic-level runners??? (Terrified 😣)

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Watched many K-dramas and plenty of zombie movies but this one is an interesting mix that is SO heart-stopping! Finished the season in 2 nights despite my super busy schedule 😄 The cinematography is very impressive, hands down! Great character building. Amazing acting by the cast (including those terrifying zombies!) Suspense level 10/10. Gosh this recap is so well written and the side comments are hilarious! Yeah, why are these zombies all Olympic-level runners??? (Terrified 😣)

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