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Kingdom: Series review, part 2

If you’ve made it here, you are a brave soul. As discussed in the first part of the series review, Kingdom isn’t a show for the faint of heart and weak stomachs. From the intro credits to the very end of season 1, we’re promised intrigue and paralyzing fear, as the zombie epidemic spreads uncontrollably to the civilians of the south. These last two episodes are full of twists and surprises, as well as a few hints on what to expect with the next season.

I welcome all those who wish to watch through this recap to avoid nightmares, but if you want to experience the physical startle and possibly mistaken a dropped glove on the street for a human hand (read: you plan to watch the series), then please note that this recap will contain critical spoilers. You’ve been warned. And now, to the zombie epidemic survivors and viewers: Onward, brave souls!

  
THE END OF SEASON 1

On their way to Sangju, Prince Chang & co. set up camp for a night, and luckily their journey has been zombie-free. Chang wallows in guilt for failing to protect the villagers who died in the attack from the royal guards. He wanted to be different than the others who ran away, and Seo-bi affirms that he was different in her eyes.

We learn that Young-shin’s shooting prowess is credited to his experience as a member of Chakho — a skilled and dangerous group of tiger hunters who do anything to stay alive. Moo-young grows increasingly wary of Young-shin, but Chang relates to the Chakho and seens convinced that Young-shin’s background makes him a qualified guide and guard. I’m more with Chang on this one, and I think that the prince is intuitive enough to read Young-shin’s intentions.

Meanwhile, Seo-bi digs for herbs in the nearby forest. She hears a rustling behind her and suddenly screams! We assume the worst, and so does the rest of her group, as they run toward the forest with their weapons ready. She runs out of the forest with a supposed zombie at her tail, but it’s none other than Magistrate Cho, who looks so disheveled that he might as well be an undercover spy among the zombies. The pathetic coward somehow survived the zombie infestation on the ship of aristocrat traitors, but I’m not mad about it — he’s fun to keep around, especially with his growing crush on Seo-bi.

Magistrate Cho is also the messenger about the imminent threat of the zombie-filled ship heading toward Sangju. Due to the poor signal fire communication between the towns, Sanju will be blindsided by the incoming zombie attack. Prince Chang gives Magistrate Cho a well-earned beating before rushing onward toward Sanju.

The sun rises in Sangju, and Prince Chang’s mentor Lord Ahn Hyeon continues to mourn his mother’s passing at an isolated mountain until one of his underlings informs him of some strange news: rumors of the dead who come alive. At this news, Lord Ahn Hyeon decides to descend the mountain to the village and gets led to a beached ship, which is mysteriously covered in blood but completely empty. Based on the state of the ship, Lord Ahn Hyeon deduces massive bloodshed, but there are no victims to validate his theory.

On their way to Sangju, Prince Chang and his group (which now includes fumbling Magistrate Cho) come across a rural village feasting on meat and lavish goods. Though the villagers try to lie that they fairly received the goods, Young-shin knows that these poor villagers could never afford such expensive food and goods during this famine. Sure enough, a woman showing off the expensive fabric from the scavenge tips off Magistrate Cho that the villagers looted the washed-up ship. The villagers lie prostrate to beg the prince for mercy, but the prince has no interest in punishing the villagers for the looting — he’s more concerned with the dead bodies.

The villagers tell Chang that they buried the dead bodies and lead the group to the burial site per the prince’s orders. The sun begins to set as the villagers lead the zombie hunters into the fields, and suddenly, they stop. The villagers face Chang and tighten their grip on their sickles. They know that their looting is punishable by death, and they won’t allow their children to suffer the punishment. They’re willing to kill the only witnesses of this deed, even if it’s the crown prince.

Just as the villagers gear up for their attack, they hear movement behind them. Dusk signals the rise of the zombies, and we see the buried ground shift as the buried dead come back to life. The poor villagers don’t stand a chance against the zombies, and the rest of our zombie fighters — mainly Young-shin, Moo-young, and Chang — slay the incoming wave of zombies. The bloody battle is full of gore, but Magistrate Cho provides a sprinkle of juxtaposed humor in his incompetent fight against the zombies. I’m rooting for him to stay alive despite his incompetence because he provides a dose of realism to this situation, with his entire being expressing fear. He screams like a wimp, fights only with clumsy gestures, and squirms like a coward, but it’s exactly how I would react.

Chang just barely survives an attack by a zombie and looks defeated as he sees their grossly outnumbered battle. The world slows down around him as he realizes their impending doom, but his despair is interrupted by a fire arrow that lands right in the middle of their battlefield. A new army of zombie fighters led by Lord Ahn Hyeon arrive, and they swiftly attack the zombies. It’s curious that these fighters and Lord Ahn Hyeon don’t show any hesitance in their battle, as if they are familiar with killing zombies, and Seo-bi later notes this as well.

Once the combined zombie fighters defeat the enemies, Chang recognizes his mentor, Lord Ahn Hyeon, who drops to his knees to greet the crown prince. Chang thinks back to his youth, when he cried for his late mother and in fear of vicious palace life. Lord Ahn Hyeon embraced the boy tightly and led him back to the palace to claim his rightful place. He instilled a sense of responsibility and nobility, instructing the young prince to protect his own life, to fight injustice, and to guard the throne from those who greedily seek its power. It’s clear that Lord Ahn Hyeon is the prince’s father figure and the one who shaped Chang into a virtuous human.

Chang shows his mentor Doctor Lee Seung-hui’s medical journals and pleads for Lord Ahn Hyeon’s help to depose Prime Minister Cho. Without responding to the prince’s request, Lord Ahn Hyeon notices that the prince looks like he hasn’t slept in days and tells him to rest in his home. He reminds Chang that he’s the crown prince and must always look worthy and confident of that title. As they retreat to their quarters, Moo-young expresses his doubts about trusting Lord Ahn Hyeon, but Chang dismisses them.

Meanwhile in Hanyang, Prime Minister Cho feeds a prisoner some zombie stew as an experiment, and his inhumane research confirms another mechanism of infection and that he’s batshit crazy. It’s a subtle comparison in how man loses the essence of humanity, and I think that Prime Minister Cho’s decline is more bone-chilling because he consciously chose to be psychotic.

Young-shin revisits his abandoned home village of Sumang, and he spits on a stone memorial commemorating Lord Ahn Hyeon’s historic defeat against the Japanese. He remembers hugging his younger brother — who had bandages around his face and body — tight and promising to return. Young-shin walks to the graves and finds incense burning, indicating that someone had recently visited the memorial. It’s likely Lord Ahn Hyeon, and it will be interesting to see the connection between these two Sangju natives.

In Hanyang, pregnant ladies are collected in a home to be fed and housed, which is suspicious but not sketchy enough to the hungry pregnant widows. One of the ladies notices another pregnant lady who exhibits more decorum than the rest of them, so she explains that her husband sent her here while he’s off to work for the crown prince. Aha, so this is Moo-young’s wife. This pregnant widows’ house is weird, but we realize that it’s not so random by the end of this series.

The queen ascends the throne under Prime Minister’s Cho decree, to fill the vacancy in the face of the king’s illness and the crown prince’s charge of treason. He also announces the closure of all southern gates at the Gyeongsang/Hanyang border in order to contain the rampant disease. This is yet another example of Prime Minister Cho’s powerful grasp on the throne and a private debrief further proves this point. Prime Minister Cho reminds the queen that he placed the power in her hands, so he can also take it away. Prime Minister Cho orders the queen to keep the Gyeongsang gates closed until he decides otherwise, and he vows to kill the crown prince with his own hands.

The magistrate of Sangju demands that Lord Ahn Hyeon surrender the crown prince in order to reopen the gates to Hanyang. Lord Ahn Hyeon surprisingly agrees quite easily because his expected guests — the royal guards chasing the prince for arrest — have arrived. Before the guards can arrest the prince, Lord Ahn Hyeon intervenes and accuses these guards of treason. Then, his army shoots down these traitors.

The crown prince watches this unaffected, and we see the tail end of his conversation with Lord Ahn Hyeon the previous night: There’s a mole on the prince’s side who tipped off the guards that Chang was headed to Sangju. Though I would hate for this to be the case, my bets are on Moo-young because he was the only one to truly know all of the prince’s plans. To spark my suspicions even more, Moo-young hesitates to finish off the leader of the guards, so Chang takes his sword to kill the guard himself. It’s not an obvious hesitation, but it seems like an intentional moment to plant suspicion.

Civilians from other villages desperately knock on the closed gates of Sangju for refuge, but the magistrate of Sanju wants to keep the gates closed for self-preservation. The prince refuses to let people die, as no person is more valuable than their neighbor, and dismisses the magistrate of Sangju to take control of the situation. He acknowledges the conundrum of taking shelter with a finite amount of food to sustain the wave of refugees, but he has a plan. The zombies fear fire and water, and luckily, the southern part of Sanju is surrounded by water. As long as they guard the openings between the water, they can survive.

In preparation for their battle, soldiers, civilians, and even noblemen are enlisted to defend Sanju. Sharpened bamboo stalks, weaponry, and trenches are prepared to the border to execute their defense strategy, which is to trap and attack the zombies at all angles. The villagers urgently prepare their weapons in daylight, and a few servants ride out on horseback to scope the zombie situation.

The queen tell her court lady to only notify her when a son is born at the pregnant widows’ home. The pregnant widows worriedly wait as a fellow pregnant lady painfully gives birth, and they look delighted to hear the cries of a newborn. Then suddenly, the cries stop, but the midwife assures the ladies that both the mother and child are healthy. We see another midwife cleaning the blood from the birth, but part of me wonders if that blood is just from childbirth…

The queen orders a servant to help her bathe, and the servant timidly disrobes the queen, as the job is usually done by a court lady. When the servant takes off an inner garment, she gasps at the ball of cloth wrapped around the queen’s torso. THE QUEEN AIN’T PREGNANT! This is what the pregnant widows’ house is for, and my guess is that Prime Minister Cho doesn’t even know this truth.

Magistrate Cho proudly drops a basket of herbs for Seo-bi, but they’re all weeds, ha! He tries to flex so hard, but it only further proves his incompetence. Seo-bi heads out to collect the actual herbs to treat the prince’s wounds, and Magistrate Cho tags along for no other reason than to share seemingly extraneous information that means everything to Seo-bi: the existence of the Frozen Valley that’s restricted to the villagers.

Seo-bi fearlessly crosses the hanging human-like scarecrow and ropes of shaman caution tape to reach the real Frozen Valley recorded in her mentor’s medical journals. Magistrate Cho hesitantly follows Seo-bi into the cave, where they finally find the purple resurrection plant — the magical cure to death. As Seo-bi begins to dig for the plant, Magistrate Cho points out broken shackles in the cave, and they hear a rustling behind them.

As evening approaches, Young-shin trains the defense army on shooting, and he’s pointed out to Lord Ahn Hyeon as the one from Sumang Village. Lord Ahn-hyeon looks pensive at this information, but he claims to Chang that he doesn’t know Young-shin. Hmm, but I think you do.

Darkness falls, and Prime Minister Cho arrives at one of the closed southern gates in Moongyeong. The guard informs him that Sanju is still safe, and he notices a strange shaking chest that the Prime Minister brought with him. Oh my, is he going to release the beast?! I wouldn’t put it past him.

At the Sanju border, the night remains silent, and it’s almost sunrise. One horse returns from the scoping trip with only a hand gripping the harness — elbow up, the body has been bitten off. This creative and gross message signals the defense to prepare for battle, but thankfully, the sun rises before any signs of zombies reach the border.

The sunrise comes as a relief to Chang and the defense army, who celebrate day one of survival. But at the border wall, Prime Minister Cho asks the sinister question: “Did you think it was over?” Something is on the horizon, and the abnormal flock of birds turns heads.

At the Frozen Valley, Seo-bi and Magistrate Cho cower in fear as the zombies stay awake even in sunlight. Seo-bi realizes that it wasn’t the sun triggering their retreat — it was the temperature. YIKES, this is a twist I was not expecting. Even in daylight, it’s a cold day, and the rumbling of the zombie stampede nears the Sangju border. *gulp*

  
FINAL THOUGHTS & SEASON 2 THEORIES

This 6-episode first season introduced us a compelling story and served as more of a prologue to the impending doom. We learned about the players, the conflict, and the zombie transformation mechanism, but this story arc has just begun. This ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but thankfully, we’re due for a second season, which will surely be more action-packed. I like how the two major twists — the queen’s fake pregnancy and the temperature mechanism to wake the zombies — were just dropped in this last episode. It leaves us with plenty to speculate, and we’re given just information to discuss all the fun possibilities outside the obvious zombie plague arriving in full force.

I have a slight speculation that Moo-young is the mole on the prince’s side because there was no other person that Chang trusted with his plans and itinerary. Moo-young’s hesitance and insistence that the prince to return to Hanyang seemed like normal concern as the prince’s guard, but in retrospect, his behavior arouses some suspicion. After learning about the possible mole, it also seemed like Lee Chang was more closed off to Moo-young. Was his purposeful distance due to his suspicion of Moo-young as the mole? Or was it just a distance that he adopted for everyone around him? Chang’s muted behavior is more evident around Moo-young because they have such a close and trusting relationship, and I fear that we haven’t seen the other side of unassuming Moo-young.

Despite my suspicions, I don’t think that Moo-young’s intentions are completely sinister. If he ends up being the mole, I would assume that he made that decision under extenuating circumstances. His relationship with the prince is genuine, and I doubt that he could be bribed to betray the prince. If he’s the culprit, I presume that he was threatened to provide information, lest his wife be put in danger. Speaking of Moo-young’s wife, that pregnant widows’ house is wrong and creepy on so many levels. It shows that the Queen takes after her father and is much more nefarious that she lets on. She’s going to take the first son that comes out of that house, and my bets are on Moo-young’s wife to birth that son. That would be an interesting turn of events, and I’m curious to see how this truth unfolds for Prince Chang and Prime Minister Cho.

It’s clear that Prime Minister Cho and Lord Ahn Hyeon are familiar with the zombie disease, and I wonder how they were first introduced to the plague. Prime Minister made some vague references to an event that happened three years ago, and I think he’s referring to the first use of the resurrection plant that created a zombie. Somehow, Lord Ahn Hyeon was involved in this, and I wonder if the zombies have anything to do with Lord Ahn Hyeon’s historical defeat of the Japanese. As the pieces are coming together in my head, I have an inkling that the zombies were involved in this commemorated battle and the wiped-out village. This would be an interesting connection to forge between Young-shin and Lord Ahn Hyeon, who’s suspiciously vigilant of Young-shin while keeping his distance.

Now that we supposedly have all the pieces on the table, I’m looking forward to seeing how these elements clash and manifest in the conflict. We don’t have an exact date yet on the release of the second season, but I hope that we’ll get the second half of this story within the next year to ride the momentum of this standout first season. I have no doubts that the second season will be just as tightly written and incredibly directed as this first season, and dare I say that it will be more frightening than this first season. I’m eager to be shaken and chilled to the bone again. Hope to see you sooner than later, season 2!

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how are we supposed to wait for an entire year!!
With a new twist on the zombie rule, it looks like the war won’t end until summer.

The pregnant women house - it was truly horrendous.

This show brings the stark class divide and how the powerful were running the show. Truly Depressing.

Also, that last shot of the Prince swallowing his fear and ready to face the zombies at dawn was brilliant execution. He was such a Reluctant hero and am loving how his growth is shaping up.

And season 2: we need more Bae Doona.

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Always down for more Bae Doona.

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Is there a book with the ending for Season 2 that I could get somewhere? Haha, or the manuscript, the draft,whatever. I wish I'm Miranda Priestly... Well, we wait along with the Zombies chillin' somewhere in faraway Joseon. I come here for some insightful comments nothing to be had in the comment section of drama sites.
So it's not the sun only water and fire. So they must find a way to ship them all to the Sahara, haha. No, just burn the lot but problem is, it's hard to find them in daylight coz they would get in every dark nook and cranny they can fit their decrepit bodies into. Doesn't matter anyway, bones all broken by now and it does not hurt!
We are so fascinated by the whole ideas of Zombies much more than ghosts or Godzilla coz if this becomes a reality - God help us all.
Jo Ji Hoon is just so perfect for the role, manly but trying to be courageous amidst the fear. Magistrate Cho is just so perfect for the fearless Bae Do Na, yea, it's her charm indeed! How she managed to stay alive in spite being a woman and with no weapon at that, is truly astonishing.

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Oh snap! I did not see two of those revelations coming!!!

1. I had assumed the queen was pregnant and only had the ladies in waiting in case she had a girl and needed to pull a switch-a-roo. Not that she needed an entire baby!!
2. The zombies aren't like vampires at all!!! It's not the sun but the temp!!

I do have a question regarding logic. I had assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the city was walled in or otherwise surrounded by water to create a natural barrier. This is why defending certain entry points was a top priority because those were the vulnerable parts. However, where was Seo-bi in relation to the protection afforded by the city? I had assumed they were inside the gates. But clearly a hoard of zombies were at their heels. Am I over thinking? How did the zombies get in? Did PM Cho deliberately unleash zombies inside the city and we just haven't been given this information yet? His motives and means are definitely hard to parse out!

If anyone has any insight into how zombies could be at the Frozen Valley I would appreciate it.

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You mean in the earlier episodes??
SeoBi was in a hospital like building located inside the forest. It’s not part of the city fortress.
She and YoungShin were in the kitchen when the zombies awoke. So they managed to escape.
Not sure if I got you right.

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No the last episode. When they discover the flower.

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The frozen valley is outside the fort. I think she felt safe to stay there because of the water which protects her form zombie.
I think zombies can smell living human flesh.

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Oooh!! It's outside?? Damn there goes my theory but I still believe Ahn Hyeon's mom was or still is a zombie. He isn't as good as prince might think

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Ok, take this w/ a grain of salt bc I might not be correct.

But I think the entire southern province is being blocked by the government? That includes the hospice, the town next to it and the city that they’re currently in. So Seo-bi is inside the area. The zombies, excluding the ones in Hanyang, are only limited to that area southern because the hospice was where it started, and the “disease” spread to places. The Frozen Valley seems to be close to the hospice so that’s why Seo-bi went back to find the flower in the first place, otherwise how would she have gotten past the royal troops. There was a scene where they showed a map of where Minister Cho would set up a blockage. He traps them inside with the zombies.

I don’t know if I explained it well or not, though.

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Any explanation is helpful in parsing things out. I can sometimes get hung up on perceived faults in logic. It must make sense!

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I think that the cold valley is not near the hospice, I think it's on Lord Ahn Hyeon's land. I think the fort/walled city is near the water for transport reasons and that the defenses are probably more set up to repel like, river bandits or Japanese invaders but it might not be a 100% encirclement. I think the cold valley is to the east/behind it heading toward the mountain that Lord Ahn Hyeon was on. (Remember Korea is pretty mountainous.) Meanwhile I think that yes, the entire province has now been quarantined by the Prime Minister who is intent on killing like the entire quarter of the country to avenge his son. (Who he somehow has not realized was killed by zombies and not the prince?)

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I knew the Queen was not pregnant because in one of the earlier episodes, she had period blood soaking both of her socks, which her own court lady burned along with her entire robe.

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Good catch! I thought it was her having a miscarriage but then I thought maybe she stepped on the blood of the person that got eaten

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I thought that she's stepped in blood as well.

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I believe the queen lost the baby and has been having her cycle. Remember in an earlier episode she had blood on her shoe and the main lady in waiting burned the clothes

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I think the whole pregnancy thing was a ruse from the get go. Her father wanted a grandson on the throne and her guaranteeing a son born also guaranteed her place in court. She clearly is only viewed as a way to a means. I do not think this was miscarriage blood. Whether it is period blood, or as I am remembering, blood from the king eating someone in front of her, it makes her much more cold and calculating. She needed a baby and was ruthless enough to make it happen regardless.

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The first assumed frozen valley was from Dongnae's area. But, in Sangju they also have something called frozen valley. So Seobi hearing about it immediately decided to see. She assumed she will be safe since it's still day time. That cliffhanger ending of season 1 will haunt me months and moths after until I get to see season 2.

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But if it was triggered by temperature, why didn't they just make the king's room hot enough that he doesn't wake up when it gets colder after sunset? Am I missing something?

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I don't think he follows the same patterns as those zombies that were created by consuming infected flesh. The kings "zombism" is a result of the flower. None of his victims had ever turned into a zombie too. He isn't infectious in that sense. However, these newly created zombies seem to be some kind of mutation.

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Can someone explain why Bae Doona's acting was criticised? I thought she was brilliant, but I'm not Korean obviously and the criticism had something to do with sageuk tone(?) which I didn't understand.

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Someone dare criticize her?? He he.
She can do no wrong in my eyes.
Herscrewntime was very limited is the only criticism I can think of.

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*claps* Agreed. 200%

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Acting wise I think she’s fine, it’s just that she doesn’t have a sageuk tone, so it sounds awkward like a modern person living in Joseon era. Even Joo Jihoon teases her for it.

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AH! That makes sense!

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My question as well. Apparently it has something to do with tone? I am not too sure. I wonder if there is an English equivalent to better put it in perspective. To me, her acting was great as usual. Here is her response to the criticism: https://www.soompi.com/article/1300494wpp/bae-doona-humbly-responds-to-criticism-for-her-acting-in-kingdom

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So it is the tone of how gentry spoke but the public is used to hearing how the nobility spoke in sageuks? Thanks for the link, I think I kind of get it.

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From what I can understand people weren’t criticizing her acting in regards to her emoting but her sageuk tone- the way she enunciates and how clear and natural her diction was, which they found lacking. There’s a niusance to sageuk tone- I normally can’t really tell unless someone is really bad but for most Korean viewers it seems like a big deal and they finding it distracting when it’s not good. I think I remember Moon Chaewon was criticized for the same thing for The Princesse’s Man.

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This is her first sageuk and she is in this show with some of the best sageuk veterans like Ryu Seung-ryong and the rest of the supporting cast so I guess it'd be obvious if she makes a mistake.

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I personally didn’t find it bad but I’m not super fluent in Korean either. I’m sure my mom would have said her tone wasn’t great but for someone like me as long as you don’t sound like you came from modern day Seoul I find it ok

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Thanks ladies, I get it now. Can't catch where and how its wrong obviously, but I understand how that can be off putting to a native speaker of the language.

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I don't know Korean but even I can tell her speech is apparently too modern. It's like me watching Chinese actors in dynastic dramas and it bugs the hell out of me when someone speaks with a "lazy" tone or have “no tail" in their speech. She definitely has the “no tail” problem, like each sentence is truncated a second too soon.

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What does "no tail" mean?

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Ah I get it. Thanks. In which case I can see how it would be distracting. So I guess the critical comments make sense. now I wonder why the director didn't correct it

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The screencaps are absolutely stunning! The colors and focus convey the mood of Kingdom perfectly, and they're all so high quality! Hopefully, in the future of drama cinematography, all video might reach this level of awesome.

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I was just about to say this! The show is gorgeous.

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So if temperature is part of the problem, maybe we can blame it on the Little Ice Age

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

And global warming might help us out :)

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what else can I say except that I'm hype for season 2, and to pray that six months will fast forward 🙏

i wanna know how seo-bi and the magistrate will escape from the cave and also how the prince and evryone in sangju will defeat the entire horde of zombies coming 😱

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I finished this last night, at 12.20 am, to the sound of firecrackers and explosions outside my house. Happy Chinese New Year to beanies everywhere, and Happy Lunar New Year to everybody else celebrating it.

My thoughts on the drama

1. Joo Ji hoon is the heart and core of this show. I love his portrayal of the Crown Prince. My favourite scene is where he strides forward and punches the useless noble in the face, and the bunch of corrupt, decadent nobles fall to their knees in front of him. He looked gorgeous in that scene, so royal. I live for his moments, and he never disappoints, from his pained cry: I am different from everybody else. I want to protect my people, to his tears at his father's passing, and his grief at the monster he has become, to his contempt for the young queen, calling her "that wench".

2. Bae Doona is not doing it for me. She is flat, and disinterested, and in her own world, blank-faced at critical parts of the drama. There is a scene where the villagers are rushing out of the barricades, and she stands, frozen at the side, with her arms stretched out, and this blank look on her face. It was jarring, watching her, and I worried that she had caught the zombie virus, but a few scenes on, and she's still fine, so I don't know what's going on with her.

3. I found the zombies hilarious, and unrealistic. The zombies in The Walking Dead and Train to Busan are way, way scarier. The first episode of The Walking Dead still haunts me with its chilling scene of the first zombie, the little girl with the raggedy teddy bear in her hand. Train to Busan's zombies were terrifying as well, and the manic speed at which they hurtled through the carriages of the train was just heartstoppingly horrifying.

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I'm glad the zombies weren't scarier!!! I want to be able to watch this!!! I am a wuss!

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Your point #3 is exactly why I'm having trouble with Kingdom. I keep reading rave reviews/comments but I just don't see it. Will keep trying...
My other complaint is that since it's on Netflix it's too much like American tv seasons that you have to wait for a year for the next season, especially when they use cliffhangers. And the cliffhangers are usually resolved in about two seconds.

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Bae Doona has definitely played some very dynamic characters in the past and I do think it's a very big change of pace for her here. The way I was interpreting her character is that she is one of those people who is very cerebral and not very emotional. Basically she's your typical scientist whose curiosity exceeds their fear. Her motivation is "find a cure" and panicking is not going to help that. Also, think about her reaction to the bumbling (but let's be honest, good looking) magistrate. Maybe she was not putting him off with false compliments - maybe she's oblivious or has a lack of social dynamics because she's been too busy studying medicine?

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Even I think there's something fishy with the lady who gave birth at the home. The amount of blood and also the way in which the baby stopped crying suddenly, and the hesitancy of the midwife in answering the other ladies. Why do I feel that she actually gave birth to a son and was killed soon after that?

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More likely it was a daughter and both were killed. I agree with our intrepid recapper that the son will be Moo-young's.

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I also believe they killed the mother and daughter. There's too much blood. And also Moo Young's wife will be the one who delivers the baby boy.

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The way the midwife/servant nonchalantly cleans up the pool of blood..*chills*

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Anybody know what time of year season 1 was set in??? I don't recall lots of snow, so probably not winter. Best case, it's in spring and summer will take care of their problem, but that's not dramatic enough. Worst case, it's autumn, "winter is coming" and they are screwed if they don't fix things fast :)

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I think it's autumn, because they say that the flower of resurrection blooms in the autumn so that might explain why it's warmer in some places

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Its definitely autumn, note the color of trees! South korea has temperate climate. So its easy to tell by looking at trees.

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Yes, it is fall. Look at the gorgeous maple colors at the pond scene!

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Yup, it's autumn as the other beanies mentioned. I think almost the end of autumn too, 'cos in the last ep when Seo-bi and the magistrate entered the Frozen Valley, Magistrate Cho commented "It's chilly. It already feels like winter here" which makes me think winter is indeed coming

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I was screaming at my computer with that ending!! How long will we be waiting?

I've also start rewatching it so I can enjoy this time more calmly(or less scared)

It was a great first season done beautifully, the director, writer, actors, all the cast did it really good but also the people who play the zombies deserve their own congrats because they scared me so much!!!

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The thing with the queen I did expect that the first time I saw the blood on her socks. I thought maybe it was her period. Still not sure if it's blood of her period or no.

So about the questions. My heart will hurt so much if Moo Young is the mole because the relationship between him and the prince is one of the many things I've liked in the show. My bets are on him or the joker one(can't remember his name) because they say he's from the same clan the queen and the minister are.

About Young-Shim, in last recap they left me wondering if Young-Shim did on purpose the soup. Right now I don't think so because he does look shooked and scared about the zombies.

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About Ahn Hyeon, my thoughts are that he tried to resurrect her mom that time and that's why he stayed there for three years. I also believe this is not the first time him and minister Cho did this, the zombies, however prime minister Cho might have more experience with them than we believe.

Maybe the zombies Seol-Bi found there are people that Ahn Hyeon's mom fed on because I can't find other logical explanation why there are zombies inside the barriers. Or maybe it wasn't his mom who became the first zombie. Idk

Also the temperature thing really shooked me because I thought they were on spring but rewatching it they say the flower blooms on autumn so that might explain why it's warmer on some places and colder on other ones which will mean winter is coming and dear god what's going to happen to this people inside the barriers.

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Three years mourning period was part of Confucianist philosophy, it was mandatory of officials in China to leave their post for that period of time after parents death.

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Oooh!! I didn't know that!! Thank you so much for the information!

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I thought she miscarried and lost the baby.
But it looks like she never had a baby. She was faking it from the beginning.

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Yes! I believe she never was pregnant but had to use this scheme for her to survive in that world. Because she had a flat belly, with no signs of stretch marks or anything.

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I thought the blood was from when she visited the king during "meal time". Blood leaked down to where she was standing if I am remembering correctly.

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I thought at the time that she was miscarrying (blood appeared to soak down rather than a splatter from afar), so the continuation with a fake pregnancy made sense to me. There was NO way she was going to give that up.

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The blood on her socks was from court lady feeded to king earlier in that episode.

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Oh yeah, those poor mother's and newborns are being murdered. Queen leaves no trail behind. Just like the lady in waiting finding out the pregnancy was fake....they become the King's dinner.

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That’s exactly what I thought. And the lady in waiting who was helping bathe the Queen was also the one gossiping about finding/seeing bloody clothes being burnt. So the queen is efficient-use the maid who is going to be killed to help with the bath where the secret will be revealed and then send her to be the King’s meal.

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From her reaction to the blood on her socks, I knew the queen wasn't pregnant. If she was having a miscarriage, she should be more concern since she's supposedly carrying the heir to the throne. And if it was splattered blood, the maid didn't have to burn her full wardrobe. The baby farm is chilling. The newborn daughter was probably killed. Seeing her extreme style of covering things up, none of the remaining preganant women will live beyond the day that first male is born.

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And one of the women is Moo Young's wife. Man, what was he thinking thinking she would be safe there.

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Lord A definitely knows about zombies. My guess is that Lord A’s some or mother or some close family member is the zombie who was tied up in the woods.
I didn’t think MooYoung was the mole but his wife being in the widows house was interesting. Especially when she said that her husband told her to be there for her safety. This raises a conundrum for me, how did MooYoung know about the widow’s house if he is not a spy or a Cho crony but if he is a Cho crony why would he think the house will be safe for his wife and child 🤔
YoungShin continues to be enigmatic and awesome🤩 I can’t wait to find out the back story of our badass gunner and Lord A.
My only gripe is that Bae Doona is not being given enough to do. Her role seems to just be someone who is shipped/supportive with Magistrate Cho or YoungShin or the crown prince. What a waste of awesome talent! 😣

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"he is a Cho crony why would he think the house will be safe for his wife and child "
Because I don't think Minister Cho would know of it either. I think he does not know that his daughter is not pregnant. And whats her plan. Because it would be hard to imagine for him to try to gain this much power to not put his OWN grandchild on the thrown.
But his daughter is on another level ahead of him. She wants it for herself.

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Yes. I too think Cho doesn’t know the daughter is faking it.

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I don't think it would someone from his family, he would test "the cure" on some slaves first. Maybe it where "patient zero" was kept?
For me it looked like MooYoung put his wife in the "baby farm" because he was worried of her wellbeing. Throughout the first episode CP keeps accusing him of stealing food from him, and it was for his wife, and the women at "the farm" talked how well fed and taken care of they are, so I took as he heard about it place and thought it would be great for his wife during his absence.

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It's difficult to say if Moo Young is the mole. I definitely don't think he knows his wife is in a dangerous position. I think it's possible he was blackmailed by the Cho clan and they said that in exchange they will look after his wife…but that was a trap too…

And I definitely hope that Bae Doona gets more to do too…not just searching for roots hahah. Hopefully she will be the person who will find a permanent cure and we'll see her manage an army of doctors to help the poor people or something like that...simply said I want her to have more responsibility and relevance in the storyline.

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I kept wondering wht's the Queen deal, she is so sure she will have a boy, like girl or complications during birth (after all it was main cause of death for women in that times) won't happen, be she has it covered in the whole baby farm kinda thing. Impressive.

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Yes, I could not believe her confidence but I am completely impressed by her schemes. All hail the queen. She is even ahead of her father.

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Woah! What a great episode!
The wait is going to be long and hard but please be good, season 2.

Fav Characters: The queen, she is cunningness exemplified. I want to see her backstab her father for more power.
Minister Cho: Wow, controlled experiments, he is completely power hungry.
So who will be in the box?
1. The king himself?
2. The lab controlled zombies?

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Queen is pretty amazing, a little shame that the actress is bit stiff, and doesn't seem to have a full hold on the character.
I'm so curious where the idea of zombie came from, as it wasn't some natural accident but fully man made experiment. And why, oh why, they let the doctor take the dead boy back, instead of buring him in the lake with the rest of king's "meals".

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To me the zombie part of the story as an illness/ disease, resembled a lot how rabies works and spread!

I guess he had sentiments attached with the boy, he was not intended to be some kings meal.

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That's very! In recent years there wasn't procedural that didn't explore that angle, even Korean God's Quiz: Reboot did that.

Yes, but he was the one who "resurrected" the king it's not like he didn't know how it could end, and btw now that I think about, why the boy didn't become a zombie before they reach hospital? The travel must took days. I hope season 2 will shed some light on zombie's lore in this world.

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That was explained in ep 5, the whole controlled experiment and the doctors medical book:
In the original case of the king, he eats the human flesh and the human dies. The human he eats do not become zombies as you know they are just buried in water, they don't wake up and get out of it, they don't like water but can get out. But in the controlled experiment they checked that if a person eats one of these semi eaten humans, he becomes a zombie and bites another person, who also becomes a zombies, so the comment that the disease changed. That is also what the doctor remarked when he zombies in his hospital. Before that he also had no idea that this will happen.

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@oppafangirl, oh, I didn't catch that, I thought that they bury the bodies in the like to contain the disease, and during the experiment with feeding the prisoner I thought that they talked about that OG infestation take a longer time to manifest.

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Poor boy - when he was alive he was eaten by the king. And dead, he was eaten by his comrades. Should we say his fate was to end up serving as a meal for humans? Conversely, the person who I feel should shoulder the most weight of the blame for this outbreak is the idiot who thought it would be a good idea to dig up a week old human carcass and cook it for beef stew. :-(

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But I loved the queen already, now I am super excited about her character in S2. Thanks for sharing.

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Thank you dramallama for this excellent review!
I confess I hadn't seen as far as you, so you might I've spoiled me with your speculations, because what you say makes a lot of sense (using zombies to defeat ennemies when you are outnumbered? genius, yet crazy!!). And I really hope Moo-young is innocent (but now I have to doubt him!).
The filmography of this drama is so pretty; it must have been easy (yet hard!) to select the best pictures for this recap!
Thanks again, and let's happily wait for the next season together (hopefully before too much times passes!!!!)

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The 6 episode season is SUCH an impressive beginning. I am completely engaged with the overarching storyline and I find I deeply care about our characters (vs. my lukewarm meh for MotA).

I am willing to give some leeway to those involved; I think there has to be a steep learning curve when new things are tried (Netflix + Korea). Language, budget, social mores all impact the production with two companies, much less than two countries!

I am very content to wait; all I want is a guarantee season 2 will be as good.

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I was one of those people who waited over two years for this series to come out. I'm so happy that it was worth the wait!!! The premise is like nothing else we have seen before but I had faith in writer Kim Eun-hee. The story really managed to refreshen the zombie genre imo.

What I would love to see in season 2 is more relevant and active female characters…and perhaps some hints of romance (other than the comic relief type) but unfortunately the writer doesn't believe in love…sooo ^^'

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I'm not surprised that a drama this bloody would be on netflix. No public channel would show scenes this gruesome where people are beheaded and newborns with their mothers are killed. Every public station would have toned it down a notch. I watched it weeks ago and it still puts shivers down my spine. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike most, I can wait for the new season. I want it to be as good as this one, so they can take their time with it and deliver a quality product. I'm just hoping they can keep the same actors. That's always a challenge with Korean serial dramas.

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I have enjoyed the series very much until now. I just have two issues with it:
- What do they mean Season 2? I've grown used to my k-dramas having just one season and a more or less satisfactory end, so that I can move on to the next. I wasn't expecting a cliff hanger and a long wait.
- Machine stitching!!! I've definitely seen clothes and bed sheets with decorative double machine stitches, similar to those in jeans. Although the styles of costumes in historical series are often criticized by beanies in the know for not being accurate, at least the robes usually look "hand stitched" and, thus, plausible to me. Visible machine stitching ruins the 'historical' effect for me.

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I was suspicious that the queen might have miscarried when the camera focused on the blood staining her socks in one scene. She was in the king's chambers and the king was eating a court maid, if I am not mistaken. The queen then had one of her maids burn her robes. I then briefly doubted my initial suspicion. The way the scene was played, the blood could have been mistaken for the poor maid eaten by the king. And by burning the robes, one could think that the queen was hiding the crimes taking place in the palace. But she could also have been burning the evidence of a miscarriage.

Regarding the use of another woman's child....I guess I was expecting this to happen. Sure, one can be confident that she would have a baby boy, but confidence is not a guarantee. I, therefore, was expecting possible baby-switching shenanigans. I first saw this contingency plan put into effect in the drama, Cruel Palace. And when it comes to saeguks and political subterfuge resting on the birth of a new a contender to the thrown, I've grown to expect baby-switching-- whether or not it actually occurs. LOL

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Edit *the blood could have been mistaken for that of the poor maid eaten by the king.*

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이 드라마는 대박! 연기가 너무 너무 좋고 스토리를 재미있다. 대부분의 좀비 드라마들은 매우 비현실적이다. 하지만, "킹덤" 스토리가 현실적이다. 하지만, 가난한 사람들이 인간을 먹는 장면은 매우 역겹다. 그 장면은 또한 아주 슬프다. 왜냐하면 사람들이 굶주리다. 그래서 사람들이 모르고 인간을 먹었다. "킹덤"은 사회적 불평등을 묘사한다. 좀비 대참사가 일어나는 동안 양반들은 안전하지만 가난한 사람들은 좀비의 영향을 받는다. '킹덤'에서 왕도 좀비다. 궁궐은 왕을 먹여 살리기 위해 가난한 사람들의 생명을 희생한다. 좀비 apocalypse 권력에 대한 탐욕 때문에 시작되었다. 왕세자는 쿠데타를 계획했다. 새 여왕은 권력을 유지하기 위해 임신을 속였다. 궁전에서 이 익살극이 진행되는 동안, 가난한 사람들은 고통을 받고 있다. Poor governance 보는 것은 속상하다. 하지만, 그것은 현실적이다. "부산행” 처럼 "킹덤"도 마니아를 보여준다. 마니아 기간 동안 사람들은 더 이기적이 된다. 액션 장면은 매우 스릴있었다. 좀비 장면 보는 게 너무 무서웠다. '킹덤'의 작가 김은희도 유명한 드라마 '시그날'을 썼다. 김은희의 스토리 스타일을 좋아하다. 또한 배두나의 연기는 쩐다! 시즌1은 6회밖에 없었지만 저 그 드라마를 즐겼다. “킹덤" 시즌 2에 매우 흥분된다. 이 드라마를 강력히 추천한다.

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I agree!

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Do you mind translating then... ?

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translate.google.com

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At first, I was so familiar with the Queen and it turn out that "The Queen" played by JunHo sister in Between Lovers. Idk that she is so great....

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I'm super hyped for season 2, especially with this cliffhanger. This season feels more like a long set up, which is totally fine since it's so beautifully shot and the characters are compelling.
It's chilling to see how the Prime Minister descends further into madness while Prince Chang continues to fight to hold onto to his humanity. What the Prime Minister does is absolutely horrifying but it's mesmerizing to watch him being consumed by his lust for power. (He would make one freaky zombie.) And the Queen, holy moly! The second the roomful of pregnant women were wondering why they were being taken care of, I became suspicious. To see that confirmed when the midwife shakily lied that the woman and her daughter were safe sent chills down my spine.
My biggest complaint is just about how little of Bae Doona's character we see. I hope Seo-bi has a larger part in the next season~ because I always want to see more Bae Doona <3

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Arghhh when will season 2 be??? I hate zombies but I love a good production. I have faith in the Signal writer. One thing I wish for is Bae Doo Na to have more scenes. I want her to grow in character in season 2. Maybe a scene where she swings a sword at a monster. Scene-stealer is the gunman definitely for me. All I need is him to survive in the zombie plague. Joo ji hoon is tall and handsome and he and Bae Doona are two good reasons to why I decided to give Kingdom a try. I slept at 4am watching this and I wished I could continue until episode 16 is there is one. Whyyyyyy is there season 2?

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Gah! Season 2 can't come any sooner!!!

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How do you make the concept of zombies fresh and much much more terrifying? Put it in a historical setting where the complete absence of modern conveniences means there is hardly any hope for the victims to escape, which makes it more thrilling to see how they will survive. The idea alone that messages will take days to get to where it needs to and they're pretty much sitting ducks? Argh

I was as skeptical as dramallama when I heard sageuk + zombie, but I was keeping my faith in writer Kim Eun-hee and anticipating how she was gonna make it great and I'm glad I wasn't disappointed. This is really an awesome show! I will say it again, I'm glad Joong-ki passed on this 'cos Ji-hoon is so right as the Prince

I agree with the other beanies, there definitely was something 3 years ago that makes Lord Ahn fishy as hell. One thing that bothers me though, is that when the doctor treated the king, it was as if he didn't know what was happening. If he'd done the same thing 3 years ago, why was he all shocked? Was it the craving for human flesh? Maybe 3 years ago, using the plant didn't make them zombies

Also, the Queen is as bad as her father. Just when I was beginning to feel some pity for her and the way her father treats her. Tsk.

I really hope Season 2 lives up and that it remains consistent. This waiting is really excruciating

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I am rather glad that Joo Ji Hoon took up this role too! Joongki is good and all but I like a less pretty actor for the role. I can't seem to imagine Joongki swinging a sword to behead a zombie.

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True. Sometimes, I find a pretty face can be detrimental to a character that needs grit and starkness and realism. And as much as I like Joong ki, I'm also not quite sure he can be on par with such a veteran cast 🤔

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Ji Hoon is... Less pretty? Eh. Say what now?

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Lol.. Well I for one meant that Ji-hoon is more manly-mature-handsome than a pretty man type. hehe

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Plot twist: Lord Ahn Hyeon is Prince Chang's real father. The Lord was in love with the concubine and had a baby with her first, shortly after the King had sex with her and she gave birth to Prince Chang but the King doesn't know he is not his real son.

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It's gonna be interesting to see how the zombies or the plant was utilized in the war, I'm sure the prime minister and the Lord did some experiments.

Now I think what the prime minister's experiment showed was that the change in the way the plage spreads has to do with the cooking of the flesh, contact with fire perhaps. That way is plausible that the plage was contained before and that the doctor could travel across the country with boy's body without it turning.

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I love this series, and I even got my friends who don't watch many Asian films/series to watch it and they enjoyed it a lot. It's a breath of fresh air and each episode is hauntingly beautiful. I'm looking forward for the next season.

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I just realized that this show is going to be 'The Walking Dead' meets 'Game of Thrones'.
Zombies that are faster than the TWD walkers, but slower than the cocaine monkeys from WWZ, so about the speed of CoD zombies. They activate in the cold, light levels be damned. No fancy-ass blue-eyes white Night King to lead them though, and thank God, I don't ever wanna see zombies as 'cool' enemies.
Winter is coming, everyone. I just hope the next season comes at the same time, if not before.

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OMG I thought it was an SK production and all episodes are in but nooooo I have to wait almost a year. I got suck in to K dramas again only to suffer like this whyyyy???? I stopped watching dramas for 4 years now because life got a little more complicated and time seemed to get less. K dramas was one of the pleasures I had to give up. Then I got Netflix found Kingdom and I'm all in even if in my my most hated seasonal format. I think this show is worth it.

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