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The King: Eternal Monarch: Episode 1

It’s here, people. The King: Eternal Monarch is the highly anticipated post-army comeback for Lee Min-ho and expectations are high as this is also the latest from writer Kim Eun-sook. The premiere episode sets up the pieces in our dramatic tale, introducing us to our parallel worlds and the key players. So let’s dive right in, shall we?

 
EPISODE 1

In an interrogation room, LEE RIM (Lee Jung-jin) relates an ancient tale from “Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms.” In the year 682, during the Silla period, the Dragon King of the East gifted King Sinmun a mystical bamboo flute. When played, it could repel enemies, cure diseases, bring rain…you get the idea. King Sinmun named this magical flute “Manpashikjeok” and declared it a national treasure.

Rim sits, eerily calm and streaked with blood. Despite appearing to be in his forties, he confirms that he was actually born in 1951. According to his file, he died in 1993. He explains to officers JUNG TAE-EUL (Kim Go-eun) and KANG SHIN-JAE (Kim Kyung-nam) that he hasn’t aged normally since 1994.

And why is he aging so slowly? The magic flute, of course. He smugly informs them he took it from his brother who was a nonbeliever. He rambles about how it only appears once every 20 years to bring peace to the world and freely admits he murdered his brother to obtain it.

Anger slips through the cracks as he spits that his half-brother, who became king because he happened to be the legitimate heir, didn’t even realize that “the Manpasikjeok in his hands would bring the world to him. To be exact, two different worlds.”

He never expected that his nephew, like him, would face the legend. Cut to LEE GON (Lee Min-ho) looking royal and determined astride his steed in a thunderstorm. Before him are two massive stone slabs facing one another.

It’s the winter of 1994 in the Kingdom of Corea. Rim (a.k.a. Imperial Prince Geum) takes the Four Tiger Sword from its glass case. Engraved on the blade are the words: “The sky and the ground help the earth balance. Defeat the evil and enact justice.”

Sword at his side, Rim leads his men into the palace, slaughtering the guards to get to KING LEE HO (Kwon Yul). The king pleads with his brother to stop. Does he not fear retribution from the heavens? Rim sneers that he intends to be the one doling out any retribution. “Deities didn’t create humans. Weak humans created deities.”

He runs his brother through with the sword. Unlocking the glass case behind the king’s body, he retrieves the flute and holds it reverently. Young Gon wanders in and runs over to his father’s body. He sobs and presses his little hands over the wound. His uncle cheerfully notes, “You’re an orphan now, Your Highness.” Geez.

Gon laboriously wields the sword that’s much too large for him. Rim taunts him. Does he think he can hurt him? The kid swings. His uncle throws his hands up defensively, and the blade slices the flute clean in two.

Gon declares his uncle’s actions treason and orders his arrest, stripping him of his royal status. He sentences him to the maximum penalty under law. But the men are all his uncle’s, and their guns turn on Gon instead.

A shadowy figure takes a gun off one of the dead guards in the hall as Rim declares he’ll kill his nephew himself. How dare Gon mess up the moment Rim spent his life planning? Rim pushes the broken flute against Gon’s throat, it’s jagged edge drawing blood, until he loses consciousness. A gunshot rings out, and the stained glass ceiling shatters. A masked someone in all black enters and expertly takes out the guards.

Amidst the chaos, Gon manages to grab one half of the flute. With an alarm sounding and royal guards on their way, Rim has no choice but to leave with his remaining men. The black-clad fighter checks Gon’s pulse. As the fighter stands, Gon reaches out and accidentally pulls a Seoul Metropolitan Police ID out of their pocket.

Rim is now a wanted criminal and publicly stripped of his title. Lee Gon is officially declared as the inheritor to the throne. Second is line is PRINCE BU-YEONG ( Jeon Mu-song). Upon his arrival, NOH OK-NAM (Kim Young-ok) – head court lady – informs him the royal guards and local police are cooperating to locate Rim.

Prince Bu-yung doesn’t have confidence they’ll find him. His preparedness suggests Rim must’ve had an escape plan. We see a bloodied Rim stumbling through a bamboo forest, gripping one half of his precious flute. He hears flute notes followed by a crack of thunder and streaks of lightening. The two stone slabs appear, and between them, light shines through fissures like cracks in glass.

Rim is transported the Republic of Korea. He walks through Seoul, taking in the strangeness of his surroundings. A newspaper headline about the president of Korea catches his eye, and he knocks a man down in his haste. The man is looking for a fight and turns Rim to face him. It’s the former king, very much alive but looking rough.

Lee Ho is shocked to see his half-brother and asks how he can be walking around like this. Rim roughly pushes his brother off him and pulls out his broken flute. He revels in the knowledge that he was right about its power.

He goes to see his alternate self, who is in a wheelchair and unable to speak. Rim bad-guy-monologues at his alternate about their difference in status, his being noble while his alternate’s is lowly. Then, he snaps his neck. Well, then.

Since little Gon apparently can’t escape being traumatized by his uncle, he walks in to see Rim standing in front of his alternate’s body. Mirroring what happened in the other world, Gon brandishes…is that a fire poker? His uncle notes his nephew’s chronic unfortunate timing. He advances on Gon.

Back in the kingdom, they hold Gon’s coronation ceremony as the third king of Korea. His first duty as king is to mourn the passing of the previous king for 26 days. In mourning garb, the child prostrates himself in the courtyard per tradition.

Meanwhile, in the republic, Lee Ho’s wife is called to identify his body. She’s informed that he was the victim of a hit-and-run. Her face bruised, she’s remarkably calm and detached as she identifies him. Before leaving, she enquires about having the government cremate him.

At home, she calmly does housework and unexpectedly begins laughing. There must be a god since her prayers for her husband’s death have been answered. She assumed she’d be the victim or perpetrator and laughs joyously that someone did it for her. Whoa.

In the room behind her, Rim rises from the wheelchair. She turns and falls to the ground in shock as he stalks toward her.

In the Kingdom, a little boy approaches Gon – calling him hyung – while he’s mourning and offers him a snack. Gon refuses. The little boy approaches him again, later, when Gon is studying. Gon orders him to leave, but the boy won’t. He’s apparently the son of the late king’s friend.

Gon watches that night as they ceremoniously burn his father’s robes and mark the end of the mourning period. Ok-nam tells Gon he did well. He sinks to the ground, sobbing. “I miss Father.” Ok-nam comforts the grieving child.

The little boy from earlier comes upon the scene and cries to see Gon crying. Gon gets up and hands the little boy a toy sword, telling him to stop crying. He proclaims the boy to be the “Unbreakable Sword” from now on. Gon asks for his name; it’s Jo Yeong. When Gon introduces himself as the king, Yeong adorably responds, “Okay. Got it.” He thanks Gon for the sword, and they smile.

A man walks along the water and discovers Rim’s body, which has washed up on the shore. Wait, what? Prince Bu-yeong performs the autopsy. Although it’s deemed a suicide, to quell chaos in the court, he confides to Ok-nam he’ll falsify the records to say Rim was shot by royal guards.

Rim’s head guard reads a headline that declares Rim dead. He hides out and, after more than a decade has passed, Rim comes back for him. He offers to show him another world.

It’s now 2019 in the kingdom. The chic Prime Minister GU SEO-RYUNG (Jung Eun-chae) arrives at the main palace in Busan. A grown Gon, still sporting the scar on his neck, dresses for the day and terrifies a new attendant who tries to help him button his shirt. Gon’s bodyguard JO YEONG (Woo Do-hwan) grabs the attendant’s arm and informs him the king doesn’t like being touched.

Before heading out to ride his horse, Gon decides to stop by his room. Unbeknownst to him, Ok-nam is busy sneaking talismans (for finding love) around his room. She’s startled to see Gon sitting there when she turns around.

He jokes that maybe the talismans are drawing in the prime minister and she’ll be queen. Ok-nam is quick to shoot that down but argues finding a wife could help with the instability of the court. Besides, it’s his duty to produce an heir. Gon couldn’t care less, and she laments this apathy. He observes she’s the only woman to behave so rudely to him.

He makes her trash the talismans and deadpans she’ll be beheaded for her rudeness. Gon leaves with a smile. The second he’s gone, Ok-nam retrieves the talismans and instructs her subordinate to put them clockwise this time.

Gon goes for some scenic horseback riding, after which he chides Yeong for letting Ok-nam get carried away with her talismans. Seo-ryung walks over, early for their meeting. Their relationship seems strained as they fake smile for cameras and trade veiled barbs.

Seo-ryung suddenly leans in intimately – the cameras click ferociously – to say that the country is peaceful and the people happy. This photo will make them even happier, she presumes with a smile. Responding in kind, Gon leans in and says it’s all thanks to her.

She casually remarks she’s considering taking up horseback riding. Does he think she’d do well? Gon replies that the first thing you learn is that you must be honest to gain your horse’s trust. “Prime Minister, are you honest?” Gon politely suggests ending their meeting; he received her report and posed for enough pictures.

Later, Gon gets out of the shower and almost has a heart attack when he sees Yeong standing statue-like behind him in the mirror. He reminds Gon of the time, saying he’ll be late. Gon asks how long he’s been standing there. “Do you really want to know?” Gon mumbles to himself Yeong is definitely getting beheaded.

Yeong tells him this is what he gets for always trying to bolt. Yeong ignores Gon’s reprimand for disrespecting the king and reports that the term “single-parent family” as well as the banners have been removed. Gon is not easily dissuaded and reiterates how powerful he is. Expressionless, Yeong bows his head and walks out. Gon trails after him, “Unbreakable Sword, you aren’t going to respond?”

Gon reads his favorite book “Alice in Wonderland” to a group of children at an event. But the kids aren’t fans and whine in unison that it’s boring. Gon notes that’s the most honest anyone’s been to him as king.

A little girl throws up her hand and asks if he has a girlfriend. He marvels that even this child is worried about court affairs as he stares accusingly at Ok-nam who avoids his gaze. Ha. When he responds he doesn’t, the kids giggle. The little girl encourages him to “follow the White Rabbit” himself. In that case, he supposes he should keep reading. The children protest, and he laughs.

During a rowing competition Gon is participating in, a woman runs through the crowd, pursued by a group of men. In the stands, MYUNG SEUNG-AH (Kim Yong-ji) photographs Yeong as he works, clearly enjoying the view. We see Yeong smile for the first time as he watches Gon and the team celebrate their victory.

Still pursuing the woman, one of the men shoots into the air to disperse the crowd. The gunshot leads to panic as Yeong protects Gon and dozens of guards surround the men at gunpoint. Gon sees the woman, wearing a rabbit hoodie, and chases after her barefoot when Yeong has his back turned.

Gon loses her and stands wearing an odd expression. When Yeong catches up to him, Gon claims he saw the “White Rabbit with the clock.” Yeong is naturally confused, and Gon chides him for not listening when he was reading to the kids. Yeong fires back he was busy.

At the palace, Yeong presents Gon with a bulletproof vest, but Gon responds with playful disregard. He thinks Yeong’s protection is enough. Yeong informs Gon they caught the troublemakers at the event and are still looking for the person in the bunny hoodie. Then he’ll confirm whether it’s a rabbit or clock.

Gon clearly enjoys ruffling his feathers and leans in super close to concede, “You caught me.” Yeong chastises him for personally trying to catch the culprit. Gon denies it, claiming he’ll leave that to Yeong as captain of the royal guards.

Serious for once, Gon clarifies that he’s just trying to find “the face that only I can recognize.” He thinks back to his black-clad savior that night. With a far-off look, he shares that these incidents make him feel like that person is there. Yeong gently reminds him his savior must’ve aged since it’s been 25 years.

Gon admits he might not be able to recognize that person now. “But why hasn’t that person come to see me once?” he asks vulnerably. Yeong thinks it’s because he grew up well and can handle himself. Gon smiles softly and remarks Yeong’s anger has subsided.

Alone, Gon opens his copy of “Alice in Wonderland” to reveal Jung Tae-eul’s police badge. He notes that he’s the oppa now. On the back of the badge is her birthdate: May 27, 1990. Wait…that would’ve made her four at the time. Are we dealing with time travel too?

Meanwhile, at an apartment complex in the republic, Tae-eul gets in her car and rams into another car. What the heck? The owner of the car stares in shock from his apartment window as she does it twice more before driving off. It turns out to be a plan by the cops to draw the car’s owner out, and it works.

Shin-jae radios Tae-eul from the roof and ribs her about her outfit which she dubs “urban chic.” Tae-eul thinks of the odd scent at the scene and abruptly slams on the brakes. She gravely tells Shin-jae to come down and speeds back to the scene. Tae-eul knocks aside the criminal to reveal a dead body in the trunk of his car. The illegal gambling case just became a murder investigation.

The man insists he has no idea what’s going on and tries to run, but Tae-eul swiftly takes him down and cuffs him. The other cops take care of capturing the two accomplices who bolted. The team complains about working overtime and pesters team leader PARK MOON-SHIK (Park Won-sang) for a new team member. They squabble like a family.

In the kingdom, Gon sees (or thinks he sees) Rabbit Girl while he’s by the stables. He hops on his horse Maximus and takes off after her. Meanwhile, Rim stands at a cauldron wearing an apron and looking like he’s brewing some toil and trouble.

We cut back and forth between the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Corea as Tae-eul investigates the murder case and Gon chases down rabbit girl. And poor Yeong rushes after the missing king who finds himself in a bamboo forest. Maximus stops, and Gon hears a flute playing.

He rides slowly through the trees and hears sounds of a storm. Suddenly, he reaches the two stone slabs and is transfixed. He urges Maximus forward through the portal. In the middle of dying fabrics, Rim witnesses a brief pause in time.

Tae-eul is stuck in traffic and gets a fright when she sees a reflection in her rearview mirror of a different her in the backseat. But when she turns, no one is there. Beside her car, Gon rides Maximus through the traffic as everyone stares.

Tae-eul uses her radio to command the man on the horse to pull over. He completely ignores her, fixated on the world around him. She turns on her siren and pursues him. Once he’s stopped, Tae-eul manages to get his attention. Gon turns toward her and is stunned when he recognizes her.

She assumes his intense stare as she lists his infractions is due to him not realizing she’s a cop, so she puts on her badge. Tae-eul orders him off the horse and asks for his ID. He dismounts and marches up to her. Tae-eul grits her teeth and asks what he thinks he’s doing when he grabs her badge. “I’ve finally met you, Lieutenant Jung Tae-eul,” Gon says softly. To her shock, he grabs her in a tight hug.

 
COMMENTS

So we got a lot of background information and set-up in this premiere. The overarching plot isn’t clear yet, so I’ll wait to comment on that until we know more. Now that Gon has discovered the parallel world and met Tae-eul, it looks like we’re moving into our main story, so hopefully we’ll get into the plot more in the next episode. We were introduced to a lot of characters this episode and only got glimpse of who they are. One of the main draws of this drama, for me, was the cast, so I hope we get some good characters that make use of their skills.

Of the leads, Gon was the main focus, but I don’t have a great read on him yet. He seems to only let down his guard with Yeong and Ok-nam, both of whom he clearly regards as family. Yeong is so strait-laced and stoic, but he was a spirited kid, which suggests there’s more beneath the surface. I hope that means he doesn’t remain the stereotypical expressionless but loyal guard and Woo Do-hwan gets more to do than look serious all the time. All we saw of Tae-eul was her in tough cop/fighter mode, so I’m anxious to learn more about her. Evidence points to Tae-eul being Gon’s savior, but how is that possible? So far, the portal has only taken people to the other world without messing with timelines. Even if it was a different officer who happened to have Tae-eul’s badge on them, that still indicates they came from the future in the other world. And then we have the weird moment where Tae-eul saw that reflection of a different version of her in the car. What’s her link to all this?

It’s looking like Rim is our ultimate baddie here. So far, he comes across as your typical, narcissistic I-will-rule-the-world type. I’m assuming he’s biding his time to steal the other half of the flute from Gon. I guess, since he faked his own death – that’s supposing the body that washed up belongs to the alternate he killed – he can’t exactly waltz in and take the flute from Gon. Or maybe all he wanted was to have access to the alternate world? Nah, he probably wants all the power.

The only other character that strikes me as potentially antagonistic is Seo-ryung. She’s smart and hides behind affability, but I get the idea she’s the type to play the role that will give her the upper hand. Gon obviously doesn’t find her trustworthy, but it’s hard to tell if she’s just ambitious or actually dangerous. I’m intrigued and want to know what her deal is. And how she got to be so fashionable.

Kim Eun-sook is good at creating dramas with a strong atmosphere and sweeping stories, and this is no exception. She certainly enjoys the dramatic, as you can tell just by the stylistic choices: the intense soundtrack, the occasional odd shot (like the image flipped sideways during the king’s death scene), the life and death stakes. While I don’t necessarily have a problem with some dramatic flair, I do worry that it takes itself a smiiidge too seriously, which is something I often feel about Kim Eun-sook dramas. When you’ve got a premise that includes parallel worlds, murderous uncles and magic flutes, just embrace the fun. Trying to be all serious about it can make it come off as pretentious, which is less fun.

I’m drawn to unique premises and high concepts that have a 50/50 chance of going awry, so I’m already interested in learning about the parallel worlds that are so similar but different in key ways. Most of the same people exist in a world that isn’t immediately distinguishable from its alternate version, but their lives are vastly different, as we saw with Gon’s family. Speaking of distinguishing, I do wish it’d be clearer when they pivot back and forth between worlds. Without the chyron telling us when and where we were, it was sometimes hard to tell. I’d be nice to have more visual cues like different color palettes or something to help distinguish between the two places.

And then we’ve got our magic flute which seems to be the catalyst. Both Rim and Gon – who each have a piece of it – were led to the portal after hearing notes from a flute. Rim mentioned the flute facilitates peace, but I don’t know how the portal fits into that. Did the flute create the portal or is it just connected to it somehow? And why is the flute magic? Curiouser and curiouser.

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When Gon comes to the Republic of Korea, he is just like Disney's Giselle lost in New York City lol...

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I thought he was calm and already figured out that he crossed over into another world. He somehow believed in multiverse before that incident. Gon studies alot which is how he figured it out nowadays it was quite an interesting premise altogether

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I forgot to give my own thoughts on the show as awhole. There is so many things I have on my mind but I am gonna share it with you guys.

I had low expectations going in but as soon as I began watching I realize what I was watching was a big production value series. I was hooked from there on. Never looked back and on top of that the premise is quite interesting and has alot of mystery that needs to be solved which makes you want more and more.

Lee Min-ho: What can I say this was him at his best element. The man always delivers. He looks the handsomest as ever in this series. His acting was great and he did his part quite great. If you want a hit his the right man to call. He just has something ''IT' I don't know what it is just yet.

Kim Gu-Eun: She did her character justice and makes her side of the story come alive. I like the fact that she is badass. I now understand why they give her alot of work. Simply gets the job done

KES: This is probably the most world-building madness we have seen from her. I am afraid she might go all avengers in her next drama with even bigger scale

All in all kudos to the rest of the cast that did a wonderful job in making this come to live

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My exact sentiments.

I loved the world building involved in this and the scale of it. Seems like an effort went into this. I didn't watch anything else with KES accept this one. I think this is her at her absolute best.

As for Lee Min-ho the myth, the man and the legend himself. A drama with him is always an extra addition factor. I loved him in this role and he was looking as sexy as I have ever seen him. Great visual + talent. He makes his acting subtle you don't notice his acting he just roles with it and makes things subtle following what the character should be doing as demanded by the director.

Kim Go eun was great in this I have watched several of her projects and she definitely dose get the job done. I didn't like Goblin because she had a rather less interesting character and due to age-cap the main couple was not suited for each other but this is an ideal couple due to age being similar. LMH-KGE fight into each other like a pair of socks and they seem to be in the same age range which is why they fit together so good.

Aside from all that I enjoyed the drama and the first 2 episode started with a bang especially 1st episode while second 2 episode setup more adventure and keeps you coming

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I didn't really have much to expect when I decided to watch and I don't watch drama in general so I was not the target audience.

I went in without any bias or anything just hoping to catch a refreshing Series. My expectations was on the low end but I was surprised by the 1st episode in a pleasant way as I loved it and got immediately hooked due to the premise and plotline being rather interesting and adventurism. I wanna explore the worlds and see how the time travelling goes.

As for the actors I thought they did great. The casting was generally good and as mentioned above age-cap is very important when it comes down to creating a compatibility between FL and ML. This is one thing this drama gets right and I loved it.

I can't wait for that 3rd and 4th episodes next week I was lowkey wishing that they dropped all of it at once on netflix rather than going with SBS method and selling commericials but all in all they gotta make money can hate on that.

I will definitely finish this drama as I am hooked

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I kinda agree with you all here. I came into the show having absolute no expectations whatsoever, but I found the first episode much more interesting and I liked it much better than I thought I would. I also agree that the age gap makes the chemistry between the leads believable. I guess one reason I found Goblin uninteresting and I couldn't really relate to any character was because of the age gap between the leads. Here they've done it right.

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The police badge issue date & Tae-Eul's birth date might've given him the idea since years ago.

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The very beginning gave me serious Queen In-Hyun's Man vibes because honestly: heroine stuck in her car in an evening traffic jam, other-worldly princeling comes galloping up on his fine steed, heroine gets out of her car, hero dismounts, and they confront each other face-to-face ... this is exactly the opening for QIHM! But that's fine with me, if KES is going to channel one of my favorite kdramas of all time I am all for it

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I had a little chuckle over yet another time/world traveling character appearing on the street in front of the palace as if that's the only place for world jumping/time traveling people to appear.

Also, LMH dressed as a prince on a white horse feels somehow like an already well-worn cliche. It's a very good look on him but it made me giggle.

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Same. "Queen In-Hyun's Man" was my first KDrama (and still a favorite), so when I saw a still from this show that reminded me of that one, I knew I had to watch!

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Aigooo......that drama remains one of the best time travel Korean drama for me......it had such a smart leading man.....not to mention chemistry, acting, OST

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Hi...

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Hi.

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Anyeong~

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So how is everyone? Doing ok?

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Good days. Bad days. Really really need a good fun drama to watch to block out some reality.

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I commiserate with you intensely, @egads.

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Hello!! I've just registered, but i have been reading all of your comments and I really like them!!! Thanks for sharing the honest opinion

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Hello, it’s been a while. Hope you’re doing well?

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Hello!!!! Have been better actually, but Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg. You?

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🙋🏼‍♀️

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🤙

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Hi Sic! How are you doing?

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Hey ho, all. We going to camp here?

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Apparently. Hi st! I'm alright. How are you two?

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This is as good a place as any right? Doing okay here in isolation....
Trying to stay away from the news so watching dramas and camping here.

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I lost it when the former king said don't you fear the heavens? 🤣 🤣 🤣 🤣
Is this joseon? Or goryeo? Dudes about to kill you & you want him to fear the skies? Hahaha even believers of karmic retribution aren't that thick in face of treason.
😂😂😂😂😂

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It’s not Joseon. It’s 1994 and it’s in alternate universe. The present kingdom still retain some attire, traditions, beliefs, etc from Joseon Period. Certainly not goryeo.

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Uhh that was the whole point... A 20th century King with modern amneties talking about superstitious bull in face of death ☠

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Yeah I guess they retain lots of the speech, mannerism and beliefs from their Joseon ancestors.

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Actually I think it IS Joseon. In alternate history they didn't fall on schedule.
The royal family seems to have the same name as Joseon royals. ("Lee" is an alternate spelling of "Yi". The "Lee" in Lee Min-ho is written with the same Chinese character as the "Yi" Joseon royals).

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Yes. In their alternative world, they would consider their kingdom as the part of the Joseon reign

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It confused the heck out of me. I thought it was the past, but it turned out to be the future. The only constant was the beauty of the King. It eclipsed everyone else's, except Maximus the Horse.

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I think both worlds are Korea, but one is a republic and the other one is a kingdom. It's just like how England's also ruled by the King and Royal Family. That applies to the Kingdom of Korea. In 2019, it's pretty much a modern city but still ruled by a king. But yes, their clothes bring saeguk feeling a lot. Also, have you watched "Princess Hours/Goong"? It has a similar governance concept.

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No no no what are you saying, the King eclipses everyone, an eclipse itself. He'll live *yeong-wonhi* because of yknow, he's the eternal monarch.

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"A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!"

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I read...the reason King Tan is still single is because he's in love with Maximus. He prioritize Maximus over anyone else. Heh

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I'm sorry Magic Horse is not available. You'll have to find a different one.

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Maximus is unfortunately not magical. If only Maximus can shape shift into a human....wait different drama 🐈.

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You are talking about «Welcome», that cat human love story?

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Uhm no I would rather all horses remain horses thank you very much.

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"If only Maximus can shape shift into a human...."
But what if he could? And he's non other than Won Bin, holding a cup of Maxim coffee.

;)

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*none*

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Mister Ed. Talking horse trumps magic horse.

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Wok of Love had a talking horse, but alas, they abandoned him for standard kdrama fare.

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Wok of Love's lobotomy will be the second greatest tragedy of 2018 following the fillet of Your Honour.

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The talking horse had such potential!

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*gasps* nobody trumps Magic Horse, how dare you.

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I've been informed this reference is too 2019.

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#MagicHorseForPresident2020 is too 2019?
*casts a hand over her eyes dramatically*
Ungrateful plebeians. The services I render you only to be treated thus. The ghost realm shall welcome none of ye!

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@leetennant no no no. Carrot boy is 2019 not Magic Horse~

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@katakwasabi Magic Horse is forever.

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Yes sic. Long live Magic Horse!!!

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Huzzah huzzah!

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So maybe we can get a show with Magic Horse, Talking Horse and Maximus all together? what would that be like?

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Nice groundwork episode.. Lee Min Ho keeps getting richer in his dramas.. btw that palace is 😍😍😍 , I want to know who the set decorator was.. Some people said the story was confusing but I was able to follow just fine... the only thing I am confused about is how time works in the parallel universe.. Time seems to go faster in the Kingdom instead of the Republic.. IDK... BTW Woo do hwan is a yummy snack!!

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I agree. I am impressed with the set too. Timeline pace is the same in both kingdoms. Only rim remains unchanged and unaffected by the flow of time as he is having the flute by crossing over to the second universe. His guard had grown a decade older and expressed surprise upon seeing him.

However lee gon also has the flute and he grew up normally as he did not cross over. Will lee gon remains unchanged now that he already crossed over to the republic of korea?

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Agree.
The time pace is the same in both realms. They just tell the story in retrospect and obviously there must be some time traveling elements involved. I think the effect of the flute on Rim's aging (and probably, later, on Gon's too) has something to do with them being outside of their own universe, i.e. being in South Korea instead of the Kingdom of Corea.

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Woo Do Hwan's eyes, tho!

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Omona! It's out. Where do I start. Here it goes:

1. I foresee evil bro will drive the plot.
2. Evil bro stabbed mini King Tan on the left. But the wound/scar is on the right. Maybe because of the camera angle or just a pure mistake or intentional? Dun dun dun.
3. What is time in this drama?
4. How did mini King Tan (1994) grabbed Goblin’s bride nametag from 2019? Isn’t it a parallel world only? Is it also a time travel drama?
5. The final hug….does he believe she’s his guardian angel or something? I mean…he has her nametag (refer point 4) from the night he was nearly killed.

Ps: everytime he talks about the name tag...he sounds cray2. He likes a noona/ahjumaa since he was a tiny kid. Then he grows up, he talks to the name tag: I'm older than you now. Me: you are always older than her. Did you not read her birth date?! Pfft 🙃

pps: the name tag King Tan has and the one Goblin bride wore are different tags. Her hair style is different, one with long hair loose, another her hair tied.

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The name tag isn't issued until November 2019, which the time shown September 2019 (It is shown first time we know the tag's id in this episode, so it is not a spoiler--By the way, the nametag he has having her wearing casually in the photo, which is also different from the tag she wear in the end of this episode, in which she wear uniform). If my theory is right, the Empire and the Republic times go together (So September 2019 in the Empire is also September 2019 in the Republic), so the flute may initiate the time travel?
Just a guess, don't hit me ...

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Thanks for the explanation. Let me get this straight...so when he travelled to Korea, it was September 2019. The ID he has from 1994 will be issued in November 2019. So he travels to a parallel world with memories of the past and future. Hahaha...i'm confusing myself.

My theory is he's gonna try save himself and maybe change history to save Goblin's bride. I have a feeling the beginning of ep 1 will be the intro to the 2nd half of the drama. (Making drama theories/spinoffs is my thing. Hehehe)

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It’s good to see the theory that the mysterious saviour is Lee Gon himself. I think it’s very plausible.

But I thought it might be Tae Eul too. Only cops are allowed to carry guns, and she seemed pretty adept and agile. And she didn’t give him her name tag. It was lee gon who pulled the tag from her.

So I believe it might be her as he sent her back to rescue him while he was probably trying to hold the portal open and prevent baddie Rim from chasing her.

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I rewatch the first episode and this time I can see that the saviour is tall and lanky. And does appear to look like an adult lee gon.

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I suspect she may have lost her badge during one of her upcoming pursuit of villains so the police dept issues her a new tag. And that’s the tag he has.

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My head is spinning, too... back to the future we go!

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I also am pretty positive the figure who saved baby king Tan was a man. I was thinking it was either his adult version who saves himself and plants the nametag or WDH characters. Either that or the director made another boo boo in using a male stuntdouble.

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I'm getting Reply 1994 flashbacks. The husband body double didn't match any of the husband candidates height. Hahaha

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I really hope it isn't a mistake!

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Nahh..I also think it's a guy. I also think it's King Tan avenging KGE's character. She might be killed or something. By going to the past, he's changing the course of the future. It's like Harry Potter saving himself in Prisoner of Azkaban. He thought it was someone else, but it was actually him. Could also be KYK, since he really likes KGE. And I also think KYK is working undercover with evil uncle.

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Oh I wanted to call that one, but you did it first :)) Yes, I think that the Harry Azkaban case is the most probable scenario.

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You know what would be awesome? If King Tan can use his time travelling machine to save Royal Hotness from being shot by his evil mum in The Last Empress. Drama crossover!!! Muahahaha. Cc: @yyishere

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@katakwasabi I enjoy the Harry Potter reference :) When I watched the scene of the figure shooting the bad guys, I also thought that it was a man, not a woman. It would definitely be nice if that person is Gon's future self.

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Also the flute is similar to the Elder Wand.. or all Hallows together!

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Peel off the layers and the gloss, and you will see what I see: a tale of forbidden love, about a king torn between love for himself, and love for his horse, and the woman who comes between his horse and himself, literally.

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If it is a horse drama, I'm definitely out.

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You are reminding me of the opening lines for Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties: "He loved Nell, but Nell loved... his horse!"

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Adult Emperor come back to save his young self, bringing Goblin's Bride ID with him so that his young self can take it?

Not a very wild theory.

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I have a wilder one;
The king finds out that he's already died 25 years ago but Tae-Eul sacrifices her life in the process of helping him open the portal and enable the time travel machinery for him to go back and save his younger self. So, he took her badge, purposely leave it there for him to grow up thinking she's his savior and go find her and finally help her back.

How does this sound?

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@joosushin Best. Twist. Ever. The King is a ghost, drifting through time and parallel worlds to find the woman whom he thinks saved his life. Except that he died all those years ago. The horse is white because it is an angelic steed, sent from Heaven to guide him to The Truth. Wings will sprout at the end, and The King 's soul will finally be at peace. The bamboo forest is an in-between realm for wandering souls who refuse to believe that their physical bodies have died.

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@yyishere
ha ha ha ha...

But, I honestly don't think there's any ghost involved. Rather, time-traveling creates, yet, another alternate universe within the existed alternate universe. Now we have 3 of them.
1. The Corea Empire we are exploring.
2. The Republic of Korea where the story is happening.
3. The Corea Empire with the Crown Prince Gon died since 1994

I'm referencing IL Mare and getting crazier and crazier.

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I also think the assassination is both the beginning and the end of the drama, so make the whole thing a circle.

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And why is he chasing what he calls a white rabbit when it is a black rabbit?

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I believe in the drama he calls it "the clock-rabbit". "White rabbit" must be from Alice for pure ref.

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YY. He is not chasing. He's finding.

His words. Not mine. He really said that. 🤭

I'm amused that he's saying he's searching for a white/black rabbit with a 'clock'. I did not see a clock. The rabbit just ran with no clock in hand. Hmmmm. Is it a translation error?

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@leetennant took time off working on her third joke to explain that the white rabbit is a metaphor for something that lures you to another world. In Alice in Wonderland, the white rabbit was holding a watch. The only watch in the drama is the King's watch.

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I kept wondering if "clock" was supposed to be "cloak" (??)

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2.I thought I was mistaken about the scar being on the wrong side. The child was definitely stabbed on the left side but scar was on the right. I watched it on netflix so the video being duplicated one is ruled out I think.
4.I think this is indeed time travel as in harry potter, he saved himself. I think I saw that slight limp when he walks similar to LMN.

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The cut and the scar match. Watch carefully to see. Rim's pressing down on the left and cutting on the right.

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Imo the confusion for the positioning of his scar and where he was stabbed is valid. At first it was clearly shown Evil Uncle held the flute using his right hand, pressed on the left side of King Tan's neck. But the positioning changed when they shift the camera focus. He went from holding the flute in his right hand, to holding the flute with his left. It's probably an editing error where they filmed it in multiple takes with multiple postions and joined the scenes afterwards.

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He's holding one half of the flute in each hand.

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1. I think "evil royal driving the plot" is a given. He's a rather one-dimensional character, at least for now.
2. The neck wound/scar changing locations was one of the first things I noticed after the opening scene. I was and still am very confused about how they managed to overlook that mistake.
4. The (clearly male-figured) rescuer in the opening scene was carrying the name tag. I assumed from the moment I saw the character that it was an adult Lee Gon saving his child self.

I suppose I didn't read the synopsis clearly enough because I assumed the drama was first and foremost a time travel drama and later when I realized it mentioned parallel worlds, I just added that to the equation rather than replacing "time travel" with "parallel worlds." So I don't really feel thrown off or confused by the idea of world jumping AND time jumping in one story.

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I was aware it was a parallel world drama it was promoted as such: doppelgangers in two parallel worlds. Parallel worlds is confusing in itself, add ambigious time travelling to the mix and my confusion piled up. It will be interesting to see how the show balances both worlds and time travelling. Not only can they time travel, apparently the royals can also stop time.

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Your #2 - "Evil bro stabbed mini King Tan on the left. But the wound/scar is on the right. " THANK YOU FOR NOTICING! This totally distracted me the entire episode 1 (and 2). Come on people...either this is the biggest mess-up, or what is going on here - is the grown-up King not the actual King who was stabbed as a kid? Did they bring in a substitute King to flush out Rim? I am excited about this possibility, but with my luck, the right/left side scar is probably a really bad production mistake :( On a lighter note, I feel bad for Kim Go-eun...she ends up with really weird BFs in k-dramas - they are either psychotic or time-travelling super natural humans! Give the girl a break and set her up with a regular chaebol as a normal OTP, why don't you??

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When a chaebol is considered "normal". XD

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I enjoyed it overall. I came in with low expectations and I knew about the hype and the buzz but it was pleasant surprise as it delivered and one of these rare occasions where a Drama justifies it the hype by simply meeting the expectations.

Aside from that the cinematography was great, the production value was great, scenary, camera angles, and the forests they used was also something great and not to forget the world building.

As for the cast I thought they all did wonderful in making this drama come alive. We are only in 2nd episode can't wait for the 3rd episode and I can't wait how it's gonna play out

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The first ep was a bit of a rough start for me, especially in regards to the directing. Then I learned from Mindy's post that the director was the assistant director for Goblin, which was so beautiful visually. Now I feel like part of my watch going forward is going to be just rooting for him to find his feet and own style, what a big undertaking this must be. *Fighting*

Most of this ep just seemed to be set up and I guess fair enough with a fantasy that has two worlds and multiple characters.

I've seen many mention that LMH seems to be recreating his Heirs character and I'm wondering if at this point in the series if that is a very purposeful choice. Sort of a wink to the audience but also just a place for the character to start his journey from....hopefully.

The other thing I noticed is the lack of OST. Goblin in my head is so tied to the music that maybe I'm inflating how often it was actually used in each ep?

KGE! Oh, she is the stand out for me so far and I'm so glad. Besides the story, because I'm in the mood for some blockbuster escapist fun (I'd so walk through a portal right now and get a cup of coffee, stand in a crowd to cheer at a sporting event, sneak peeks at WDH, and order coffee without fear in Corea) I was mostly here for KGE......and then WDH.

While it didnt grip me and completely immerse me in its world I'm still interested. I'll definitely be back next week.

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He was the assistant director for DOTS, actually, not Goblin! DOTS had the same head director as Goblin but as far as I know this director was not involved in Goblin whatsoever. He did, however, do Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (I think he was again an assistant director there). This seems to be the first drama where this guy's head director.

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Thank you for clarifying.
I haven't seen DOTS yet, want to watch it for a few reasons, but also curious about the look of it.

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No No LEB only directed Goblin and Mr Sunshine he didn't direct DOTS. That is a different person entirely.

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Source? AsianWiki tells me differently

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+1 your comment Beverly. While there's a lot the show could have done better, overall I found this a satisfying first episode. There's so much world-building, character introduction and back story to tell here that I felt the show didn't give us enough information, even though it did give us a lot of information. So far, I'm looking forward to the show unraveling its mysteries over the coming weeks. Hope it does a good job!

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Off topic, but I like your user name.

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You're right about the lack of OST. Goblin has such good music, whereas here, I found the background music heavy handed and obtrusive. I realize they're trying to set a mood with it, but would prefer to not be hit with it like a sledgehammer. Additionally, the transitions between scenes often meant the transitions in how it the drama sounded was jarring. I guess what I'm saying, is there was a decided lack of subtlety here. I was never drawn into a scene, I was always very aware of the gears and pulleys that the director was utilizing.

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Lack of OST is what I have noticed too. I missed the somber and foreboding music of Mr. Sunshine as well.

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King Tan needs a better looking royal bathrobe. The brown robe doesn't look good. Huhuhu

Meanwhile Prime Minister needs a wardrobe revamp to make her look professional and office-suitable. In addition to that, she also needs a character transplant, her superficial remarks about men is just....no. Come on KES writernim, give us a competent female prime minister who does her job and isn't trying to only woo the king.

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Indeed. It's such a waste of the prime minister's character. :/ Why do writers do this to female characters, ugh

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I am amazed. You have not mentioned a certain someone. Not once.

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Who YY? Who? 🤔

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I think the wardrobe was because she was going to see the king, who she has a thing for.

Now, if it contiunes one, then yeah, agree.

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I think the Prime Minister has the potential to go real bad cooperating with the evil uncle.

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Some of my first impressions of the first episode is it definitely is pretty and has an interesting start to the drama. You can tell it's a high production. Lee Min Ho looks good when he sits there being broody but, as @leetennant has mentioned, he always looks like he is acting in a photoshoot and not a drama. Which is a very apt description. Kim Go Eun character was much more interesting but it's like they were trying too hard to make her a badass that it came off poorly (side kicking that handcuffed guy in the head was straight up police brutality and overkill). Sadly very little Woo Do Hwan scenes. They do know everyone is watching for him alone right? And the antagonist is an over-the-top cliche. I hope they flesh him out more. Also the first impression of the prime minister pissed me off. Her flirting unabashedly with the king in front of cameras. I'm all for female empowerment but she is supposed to be a powerful political figure but so far she comes off as just a thirsty piece of eye candy. I really hope they show there is more to her then the brief introduction we got.

And that ending scene with the hug was unneeded. I know they are trying to show that he doesn't want people touching him, but look he is so thrilled to find the woman he's been searching for that he is hugging her! Thank you show for being Mr. Obvious, we get it. I really hope she knees him so hard in ep 2 that the old court lady wont need to harp on him about producing an heir, as KGE destroyed any possible chance of him being able to make babies.

(P.S. I wrote this before seeing ep 2)

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I dont mind the PM being thirsty, I mean they are both hot and single, but I need/want more layers to her.

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My issue is she is a political figure who is purposefully throwing herself at King Tan in front of the cameras. Even in ep 2 she says only she can be seen as his woman. Which annoys me as instead of her being shown as standing on her own 2 feet as a strong and powerful political figure her character comes off like she is using her sex appeal instead. If there ends up being deeper layers to her that will be awesome as I'm all for women empowerment, especially sexual empowerment, but so far in the first 2 eps she is shown to be very shallow instead.

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Completely agree. I want more from her and hope they show that.

But you know what kept happening to me? I kept thinking of how no politician would dress that way or act like that in front of cameras, just too unrealistic.
Then a certain politician kept popping into my head.

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Thank you...

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"He always looks like he is acting in a photoshoot and not a drama."
Can't agree more with you, @trinpie as well @leetennant. I guess that's why Lee Min-ho can only play rich man or, in this case, an emperor.

I guess Kim Eun-sook is more skillful writing buddy love than romantic love. From Yoo Si-jin/Seo Dae-young, Kim Shin/Grim Reaper, to the 3-buddies in «Mr. Sunshine», they sometimes more memorable than the romance, so I am looking forward to more Jo Young.

I don't think the hug in the end is "unneeded". An Emperor who never allow others to touch him initiate to touch someone, so she must be very special (in this case, a savior of his own life). But if I am that girl (and she is even a police), I would probably slap him, maybe even cuff him in the process.

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Tbh, I feel that the great bromance in Goblin is largely due to the preexisting friendship of Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook. After I watched the bts of Goblin, I noticed a lot of the time they expand on the script to make it funnier. The bts of the King shows none of that, so maybe it's also down to experience.

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Never enough WDH.

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Controversial opinion: I really like Lee Min-ho. He's really not the best actor (by miles) but he's very charismatic. And clearly, the show intends to utilize this casting to a maximum. We were given numerous...almost gratuitous...shots of Lee Min-ho. Lee Min-ho in different outfits, Lee Min-ho's muscular arms, Lee Min-ho riding a white horse, and so on. As someone who likes Lee Min-ho, I am not averse to this directorial decision, but I'm hoping there's more to the show, which also has two of my other favorite actors, Woo Do-hwan and Kim Go-eun.

Also the murders - esp of Lee Gon in the Republic - gave me anxiety for some reason.

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Sadly I think the big letdown is the directing and the writing which really shows in ep 2. LMH can do funny and charming but his character really falls flat and comes off like an uninteresting narcissist. He isn't charming at all in this. Hopefully the drama finds its feet more in ep 3 because the overall plot has so much potential. Even WDH is a bit bland so far (I know, blasphemy!) LMH certainly does look good as the broody king though (as the drama likes to tell us over and over and over....).

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Too bad he loses all his gumdrop buttons!

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Not the gumdrop buttons!

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I couldn’t agree more!

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@greenfields my thoughts exactly.

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This episode 1 is good but I couldn’t help comparing Lee Min Ho in Legend of the Blue Sea. The storyline, the directing and goddess Jun Ji Hyun.

I think Lee Min Ho has not taken up very challenging roles or characters. But I am not complaining coz he is so pretty to look at... as long as he can make my heart flutter with his gaze I am happy.

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I appreciate @quirkycase's recap, even so detail down to the names (Corea vs. Korea, which thanks to Japanese--between 1910 and 1945--as they want their colony's spelling goes after themselves--C is before J, but K is after J, to make it simply), but I guess "제국" means "Empire" instead of "Kingdom". If you watched Kim Eun-sook' last drama, i.e. «Mr. Sunshine», you know that is the name of the country between 1895 and 1910, as they were freed from being a tributary of Ching China. So I guess they will call themselves "Empire of Corea" if the Emperor (and not "King", same reason) so exist today.
Sorry, I may be just picky ...

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Wow, thanks for the interesting info. Just that the drama itself chose the term 'The King' to be its title, I guess other things need to be adjusted accordingly.

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I wondered about that, too - when was the ruler of Korea 'demoted' from emperor to king? Right now I am not particularly confident that we will get an answer.

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You are right, @joosushin. The problem is, I don't see the screenwriter do those adjustments. Some comments up there even ask if the Empire/Kingdom side is still Joseon era, this is the result of confusion of the name ("더킹" is in fact the transliteration of the English "The King"). The problem is, if the subtitle note it is "대한 제국" (Empire of Corea), then it is not Joseon era anymore, because "Joseon" is the name when the country still a tributary state to China (either Ming or Ching Dynasty). When Corea/Korea call herself "Empire", it means the country is out of the sphere of influence of China (because no tributary state is allowed to call own ruler "Emperor", which is exclusively for Chinese Emperor). This is also why I am serious about it (and one of the reasons I complaint why Kim Eun-seok not serious about it: «Mr. Sunshine» is a story happening in Empire of Corea, and she absolutely knows and understands the difference).

(Another note: News comes out that in the opening credit, one of the buildings that should represent the Empire of Corea is in fact a Japanese temple, which has get a lot of negative press coverage and comment, and you know how sensitive "Japan" is for Korean. Another Emperor/King confusion--shouldn't they take good care on the consistency issue?)

(Just checked, "Emperor" in Korean is "황제", I guess it is hard to blend into the title logo, so they use "더킹" instead?)

(In case you are confused, "Titus" is the name I used when I'm not registered yet, because I have some email issue then, so the comment up there is mine)

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@imperialtitus
My 2 cents would be;
- people were mistaking the Corea Empire to still be in the Joseon era because King Lee Ho was wearing 곤룡포, the dragon robe, as we've always seen in Joseon sageuk.

- the korean script has been consistent about the country being an Empire, they clearly know and intentionally set the country to be at that state. It's the translation that is confusing. Because they chose 'The King' as the title of the show so the country goes from Empire to Kingdom, etc.

- as for why they chose 더킹 instead over 황제 on their tilte, at first I thought that it's because the dramatic effect, the term sounds more appealing. Then suddenly I have some hope they would bot be that superficial and there'll be a significant meaning behind the word choice they made. I'm still leaning on my theory about another alternate universe and could that one be ruled by a king?

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The first episode was all over the place, I liked the start but what is the probability that murderous half brother goes to parallel universe and immediately runs into his innocent half brother, his parallel self and parallel nephew and commits murder like 5 times...the probability is so small...it felt weird that they forced that scenario....Lee Min Ho is good looking from every angle, that is basically it...his character is a disappointment having seen both episodes as is his lackluster acting...Woo Do Hwan and Lee Min Ho....where is the bromance??? Am I blind, was it there and I missed it. Jung Eun Chae's PM is setting thirst traps with wired bra...what was that about??? Only likable character is Kim Go Eun's Tae Eul...I have much more rant but will hold my piece for 2nd episode recap.

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To state it simply, Kim Eun-sook has passed her prime. Using 2 actor/actress whom she used before is one of those sign. Lee Min-ho being a rich (or, being an emperor this time) person is something he always does (Some even joke that, we never see a poor Lee Min-ho in any drama). The villain is pure serial murder/power hunger/devil without dimension, the Two Worlds setting is like recycled (We have «W» set on 2 worlds, and «The Last Empress» featuring a modern-day Korean monarch). I am not sure how long she develop this story. Her last drama, «Mr. Sunshine» took her 10 years ... I guess «Mr. Sunshine» would be her peak.

I hope it is not. Maybe we watch some more to decide ...

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I don't think that using the same actors/actresses again is a bad sign, at all - not only does the Reply/Playbook/Playlist team use the same actors over and over, famous directors such as Alfred Hitchcock were also known to prefer to work with a known quantity when it came to acting.
And in terms of "peaking," I think KES has had a lot of highs and lows over her career, so it looks more like a mountain range to me. Whether this is going to be a peak or a valley in that range remains to be seen, but with a KES drama things don't seem to hit on all cylinders until about episode 6 so I reserve judgment for now.

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I see The Last Empress hehehe 🤴🏻. I like TLE. The fictional modern monarch setup was simple and easy to understand (even when the royal family was so twisted). Totally loved the set design for the palace interior, it was traditional with a modern touch. I'm not feeling the royalness of Eternal Monarch setting yet, I felt the childhood scene setting and adult King Tan setting were vastly different. It went from traditional to very modern, and it lost it's royal touch. I also think its because there is only one royal family member, unlike TLE, Goong and also King 2 Heart's where there is an extended royal family (aka more hanboks, more royal family dinners). Which suddenly makes me feel sad for King Tan, he's a very lonely person.

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You know someone is lonely when they talk to a police badge. And as far as we know he only has two close friends and one of them is a horse.

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Lol. The badge. Each time he talks to that badge he sounds slightly crazy. It was so weird when he said to the badge he's now older than her, like he wasn't before 🙃.

Well...thinking about it again, Hyuk in TLE was far more lonely even when he had a family (which is even sadder) and he went cray2. I hope King Tan does not go psycho, leave the psycho part to his evil uncle. I want to know more about evil uncle, his motive and the end game he has in mind. He can't be king, because he's basicly dead in both worlds. Hmmm

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Thank you @quirkycase for the recap. I'm glad I was not the only one that was a bit lost with the back and forth of the two worlds. I am rooting for this drama to be good. It's been a while since I have seen a very good addictive kdrama. So let's cross our fingers.

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