Lee Min-ho reunites with star writer Kim Eun-sook for sci-fi romance
Whatever her faults, one thing I do appreciate about star writer Kim Eun-sook is her willingness to experiment with genres. Romance is always at the center of her stories, but, at least recently, her stories have been set against some really interesting backdrops, whether that’s in a disaster zone, or pre-colonial Joseon. This time around, she’ll be trying her hand at sci-fi for the first time (unless you count Secret Garden or The Lonely Shining Goblin as sci-fi), and the writer will be reuniting with her Heirs star Lee Min-ho (Legend of the Blue Sea) in his first project post-army duty.
The drama, titled The King: Eternal Ruler, will center around a door between two dimensions, and two very different Koreas. In one dimension, Korea is still an empire, and the ruling emperor fights against demons in order to close the door linking his dimension with another. On the other side of the door is the Korea that we know, where a detective does his best to protect the life, love, and loved ones of someone dear to him. The detective and emperor will work together and, I expect, find love along the way.
The emperor is described as the rational, logical type, whereas the detective is more creative and emotional. Specifically, the show’s synopsis labels them as ‘STEM’ and ‘liberal arts,’ which is shorthand in Korea to describe ‘left-brained’ and ‘right-brained.’ From the casting reports, it sounds like Lee Min-ho will be pulling double duty and playing both the emperor and the detective, which should make for some interesting mistaken identity shenanigans. I always love the fish-out-of-water situations when Joseon-era characters find themselves in modern-day Korea, so this should be an interesting take on that trope.
I have to say I am intrigued by the concept of parallel universes, and I would be fascinated to learn how these alternate dimensions came to be: Did the realities split at a certain point in time? When did that split occur? Does that mean in the dimension where Korea is an empire, the peninsula was never colonized by the Japanese? Knowing Kim Eun-sook, I know there’s a good chance that these questions are never answered in the show, but it’s an interesting subject to ponder about at the very least.
Kim Eun-sook will be teaming up with director Baek Sang-hoon, who is credited as a co-director for Descended from the Sun and whose other works include Who Are You—School 2015 and Secret. I’ll be interested to see how working with a different director than PD Lee Eung-bok will affect the style of Kim Eun-sook’s latest entry.
The King: Eternal Ruler does not yet have a broadcaster, though I’m sure the stations will be lining up their bids soon, and is planning to premiere in the first half of 2020.