K-Drama Premiere: “Arthdal Chronicles” Astounds With Dynamic Characters & Imaginative Plot Proving Its Well-Deserved Hype
Parading an array of engrossing characters in a remarkably conceived fictional world, Arthdal Chronicles made its highly anticipated premiere!
Overwhelming with its scenic setting, warring clans, and a prophecy connecting the main characters of the story, spin the introductory episodes of Arthdal Chronicles. Designed to broadcast two parts from June 1 till July 7, the third part of the story will be aired in September this year. Additionally, the first two episodes scored an impressive 6.7% and 7.3% nationwide viewership ratings according to Nielsen Korea.
Premiere Week Rating:
Powered by the high-profile cast of Song Joong Ki, Jang Dong Gun, Kim Ji Won and Kim Ok Bin, tvN’s newest weekend offering intends to create a masterpiece that will be loved by the audience. From its production design down to character sketches, the series gravitates people to know more about the inhabitants of Arth.
Premiere Week Recap
The Land of Arth
In the land of Arth lives two groups of people. Neanthals, who are born with superior strength and quickness. They also have the abilities to see prophetic visions. Meanwhile, Sarams or the humans are divided by tribes, with leaders officiating a united council to protect their kinds. Though they lack mystical abilities, they are great fighters and strategists. By cultivating their skills, they had learned to farm, used animals to go to places, and created weapons. Innately ambitious, they also have the ability to scheme plans for territorial and resources extension.
When the leader of Neanthals, refused a pact to join forces with the humans in building a nation, the humans outlined an attack to obliterate their race. Planned by the brilliant mind of warrior and tactician Tagon (Jang Dong Gun), he devises an evil ploy using an envoy to appeal with bribe gifts. They use Asa Hon, who knows the blue-bloods’ language to deliver some fabrics and goods for them. Unaware that the items are poisoned to weaken the Neanthals, the planned downfall of the tribe happened on the day they were celebrating a festival. To redeem herself for the chaos she partly brought upon, she stays with the surviving members and even conceived children with Ragaz.
Strangely, Asa Hon gets a vision. Receiving chimeric dreams is a trait special to Neanthal so that baffles her. In the vision, Arth god Aramun Haesulla, who founded the land of Arth, urges her to kill her child because of a prophecy that he will cause destruction. She was also warned that if she won’t, her husband will be taken. Fighting off the Daekan Forces, Ragaz hides his older child which later was found by Tagon. Discovering an Igutu, a half-blood born from a Neanthal and human, he kills his minions whining about the baby and takes it back with him.
From afar, Asa Hon sees her eldest son taken by Tagon, and gets reminded by another vision of her to not follow the man who hums a tune. At night, she finds Ragaz’ hanged body and blames herself for his fate. Thinking it was her betrayal to her tribe and conceptions of half-bloods that caused the misfortune, she resigns to an idea of going to where Arth gods cannot reach her. For 10 years, she braves the odds to find the elusive passage of a mountain that will lead her to Iark. Barely surviving, Asa Hon faints due to the arduous journey. Young Eunseom searches for some herbal remedy. However, a pack of wolf threatens him as his purple eyes spark trying to protect his mother. Fortunately, a group of people from Wahan tribe come to his rescue and warded off the wolf pack. Asa Hon wakes up to the exact picture of her recurring dream. It dawned on her what her vision really meant. As strips of the vague picture finally came to light, she realizes the intertwining fate of her son Eunseom and the girl who dreamt of their arrival — Tanya from Wahan tribe of Iark. Both children were born under The Azure comet prophecy.
The Beautiful Place Of Iark
Ten years later, Eunseom (Song Joong Ki) who was adopted by Wahan tribe, is put on a tribunal questioning for his ability to dream and stealing a horse. Unaware of his birth origin, they run down all his curious mind’s adventure which led to the leader ordering him to ride the stolen horse, less he will be banished. As it seems an impossible task, the tribe people second the motion so Eunseom adheres.
With the nearing tribe festival, Tanya (Kim Ji Won) struggles on her task as the appointed future Great Mother of the tribe. Through Eunseom’s eidetic memory he guides her thoroughly to perfect the sacred dance. However, he hides his plan to fulfill his mother’s last words when she gave her necklace to him before her passing. Later on, Tanya becomes aware of his plan as she notices his back blue scab falling off, a signal that he should journey to find his real identity.
The Wahan tribe’s downfall
Over at Arthdal, Tagon and Daekan Forces celebrate the 10-year hunt for the last surviving Neanthal. His party gets halted when Taealha (Kim Ok Bin), daughter of pirate tribe’s leader arrives. Bringing a message from his father, Sanung of Saenyeok tribe, Taealha discloses an uprising by Ago tribe. She also briefs him about his father’s latest planned venture targeting Iark. Proving his unparalleled wit, Arthdal’s genius warrior was able to design a wooden lift for Arthdal’s plan to expand territory and human resources.
On the day of Wahan tribe’s special festival, they were attack by Daekan Forces. Eunseom who finally rides the horse which Tanya named, tried to rescue the tribe, but was asked by Tanya to escape so he can come back for them.
Chased by Daekan’s elite warriors, Eunseom escapes as his horse gallops fast to the surprise of Moobaek, one of his chasers. Peering at Eunseom his thoughts go to the legendary horse Kanmeoru — and wonders if the man riding him is Aramun Haesulla.
Premiere Week Afterthoughts
The production team was not joking on how extraordinary Arthdal Chronicles would be. The hype is worth it. I really had a “Welcome to the World of Arthdal” trance moments. In 10 minutes, a slew of characters were introduced, as well as a cryptic prophecy and visions. After that, a war outbreak begins spanning 10 years, to annihilate the once superior species of Arth. Ultimately, the first two episodes shed light to the main players to anticipate for. I say you take notes, because we are going to a lot of places and experience rapid plot upheavals based on the premiere week of this newest tvN treat.
Exploring the prophecy binding Eunseom and Tanya has already had me anticipate on its intricacies. Additionally, Tagon, who was depicted god-like in human form owing to his abilities, also piqued my interest. Did I mention how stunning Iark is and how I flinched a lot on the wooden lift that moves through the blood of the slaves moving together to make it work? A few emotional scenes were also shown just like how I felt sad letting go of the Neanthals when they were decimated mercilessly.
Attention to the rules of the little worlds inside the vast world of Arth made my heart skip a bit for this epic fantasy. I like the distinct qualities of the tribes, the insertion of mystic elements and the drawn connection that will bind the central figures of the story.
Given how epic stories in fantasy and historical themes are, viewers should equip themselves with a lot of patience. Because with the amount of characters and expected side and back stories to happen, Arthdal Chronicles will not be an easy watch. But is one that would really drive the audience to be with it all the way, even when sudden awkward k-drama plots erupt.
Arthdal Chronicles airs on tvN every Saturday and Sunday.
ABOUT THE WRITER
abbyinhallyuland reads and sleeps a lot when she is not traveling. Her calendar reminders are mostly K-Drama broadcast schedules and birthdays of her favorite Korean actors. Promoting K-Drama watching as stress therapy is her life advocacy. She is fond of Spencer Reid, Gregory House, Kenshin Himura, Starwars saga, Haruki Murakami and Hunter x Hunter.
Recommended Korean Dramas: Reply 1988, Nine, Misaeng, Gaksital, Discovery of Love, Because This is My First Life, Descendants of the Sun, My Love from the Star, Healer, Punch, You’re Beautiful, Coffee Prince, Princess Hours, The Greatest Love, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, City Hunter, and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.