K-Drama Review: “The King Eternal Monarch” Twists Fantasy, Romance, And Action Into A Sensational Watch
The King: Eternal Monarch had something to offer every viewer as it blended genres in its diverse plot!
SBS drama, The King: Eternal Monarch, received immense hype online and for good reason. Featuring a star-studded cast led by beloved actors Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun, the show also possessed a unique plot including doppelgangers and parallel worlds.
Title: The King: Eternal Monarch
Network: Netflix | SBS
Theme: Fantasy, Action, Romance
Length: 16 Episodes
Broadcast Date: April 17 2020 – June 06 2020
Main Leads: Lee Min Ho | Kim Go Eun | Woo Do Hwan
Highlights: Doppelgangers | Star-crossed romance | Mystery to tackle
Related Dramas: Born Again, Chicago Typewriter, Tomorrow With You, Familiar Wife
Quick Plot Round-Up
The series follows its main character, Lee Gon, who lives in a parallel world. This alternate universe resembles the Republic of Korea. However, in this world called the “Kingdom of Corea”, the constitution still exists with Lee Gon as Emperor. Lee Gon’s father who was originally King, was murdered by Lee Gon’s power-hungry uncle named Lee Lim.
8-year-old Lee Gon unfortunately stumbles upon the murder in progress. While Lee Lim attempts to kill Lee Gon, a mysterious savior steps in and saves him. The savior whose face is not revealed until the series’ end, forces Lee Lim to make a hasty getaway.
Lee Lim escapes the palace with one half of the King’s magical flute. The flute has the power to open a portal into the alternate world of the Republic of Korea. One of The King: Eternal Monarch‘s main storylines shows an adult Lee Gon following Lee Lim into the parallel world, seeking to kill him and retrieve the other half of the flute.
Additionally, when Lee Gon’s savior left the palace, they dropped an ID badge. Lee Gon has kept the ID badge into adulthood, hoping to find the identity of the woman on it as well as his savior. Using his half of the magical flute, Lee Gon stumbles finds her in the alternate world of the Republic of Korea.
Jung Tae Eul is a cop living in the Republic and is the same woman he has been looking for since he was a child. Curiously, she is the same age on the ID badge that he has had since he was a child. He falls in love with her and realizes she is his destiny.
The show follows their budding relationship as the two team up to defeat Lee Lim.
One of the show’s unique aspects was its setting in two parallel worlds. As a result, the drama included doppelgangers into its plot. Their inclusion kept viewers on their toes as actions made by characters in one world affected their doppelganger in the other.
The twist was an interesting addition that allowed viewers to see the characters’ lives in different fates. As the show explored the characters’ different paths, it prompted viewers to think about their own. Drawing attention to both actions and their consequences in contrast to inevitable events, The King: Eternal Monarch entertainingly investigated the concept of destiny.
While the doppelganger plots invited viewers to think about life more deeply, it also opened the opportunity for humor as they met each other.
A fan-favorite breakout of the show was Woo Do Hwan’s brilliant performance as both Jo Yeong and Jo Eun Seop. Though completely different, the doppelgangers formed a hilarious and close relationship throughout the series’ run. As Woo Do Hwan’s roles illustrated, the concept of doppelgangers was a great opportunity for actors in The King: Eternal Monarch to showcase their acting strengths.
The King: Eternal Monarch received strong reception before its premiere once news broke that Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun would be its leading couple. Both actors have accumulated strong fanbases due to their acting skills and participation in popular romance dramas.
Their performances in The King: Eternal Monarch received glowing feedback from fans online. While the show focused on Lee Gon’s rivalry with Lee Lim, it was also dedicated to exploring his relationship with Jung Tae Eul. Upon finding Tae Eul after searching for so long, Lee Gon falls hard and fast for the down-to-earth cop who charms him with her bluntness. After finding out that Lee Gon’s stories about a parallel world is indeed true, Tae Eul falls for him too.
The couple face life-threatening challenges as Lee Lim and Tae Eul’s doppelganger named Luna, continually try to kill them. However, the drama balances high-stakes situations with quieter moments of tender romance.
Although the couple’s fate seemed doomed, time and time again they prevail against all odds. Even after being separated across time and space, Lee Gon searches every universe to find Tae Eul.
The couple’s heartwarming dedication to one another and their happy ending truly proved their destiny was to be together.
Mystery To Tackle
The central conflict of The King: Eternal Monarch between Lee Gon and Lee Lim intensified through the show’s mysterious plot. Instead of presenting a clear-cut feud, the show complicated the storyline by hiding the identity of Lee Gon’s savior, showing the doppelgangers’ shocking travels between worlds, and adding confusing murders along the way.
Even more surprisingly, by the latter end of the season, The King: Eternal Monarch included puzzling time-travel during Lee Gon’s trips to parallel universes.
By heightening the tension this way, every week kept audiences on their toes.
Additionally, the drama kept every episode interesting by including sub-plots as The King: Eternal Monarch investigated the lives of the doppelgangers too. In this manner, viewers remained enthralled not only in the main plot but also in the stories of its supporting characters.
The drama cleverly withheld characters’ identities at times, forcing audiences to guess which doppelganger they were watching.
Series Afterthoughts & Recommendation
The King: Eternal Monarch definitely served an interesting watch that surely would appeal to any viewer. The drama seamlessly combined a multitude of genres such as romance, mystery, action, and fantasy, into its show without any seeming out of place. As a result, the pacing of the show was fast and never had a dry moment.
Furthermore, its star-studded cast carried the momentum well. The chemistry between not only the leading couple but also its supporting ensemble made audiences connect to the characters. This connection caused viewers to root for them and want to continue following the show through each episode.
However, it felt as though The King: Eternal Monarch was attempting to do too much in 16 episodes. From parallel worlds to doppelgangers, murder mysteries to time-travel, romance to even politics, the show covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. While entertaining, its ambition resulted in many questions that were never answered, or sub-plots that could have been fleshed out more.
Moreover, whenever time-travel or parallel universes are thrown into a plot, logic becomes blurred. How did Tae Eul retain her memories after undoing the past? Why did Lady Noh never disclose seeing an adult Lee Gon on the night of the coup? Did she even remember it? If the little boy was a deity and supreme being, why was he affected by Lee Gon and Lee Lim’s time travel?
Instead of cohesively explaining events, the show often relied on scenes of Lee Gon wordlessly doing math calculations or simply chalking events up to fate, rather than tackling questions. The confusing plot aspects and holes became distracting to the overall watch, making the show difficult to follow.
Despite its shortcomings, it cannot be denied that The King: Eternal Monarch was a special watch. Considering the many dramas that came before it, it featured a refreshing plot, unlike the rest.
Whether you are new to the world of K-dramas or a seasoned watcher in search of something unique, The King: Eternal Monarch is a show that should be added to your list.
Image Source: SBS | HWA & DAM PICTURES | Netflix
Video Source: The Swoon Official YouTube channel