K-Drama Review: Netflix Series “Kingdom” Reigns With Nimble Plot & Chilling Momentum

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Ingenious fusion of horror and Korean history maneuvers a breakthrough series in Netflix’s Kingdom.

A solid concoction of suspenseful plot staged in Korea’s traditional period guarantees viewers a scary but sweet ride — when Kingdom begins its rule on Netflix beginning January 25.

Title: Kingdom
Streaming Platform: Netflix
Theme: historical, horror, supernatural
Length: Season 1 – 6 episodes
Broadcast Date: 25 January 2019
Main Leads: Joo Ji Hoon, Bae Doo Na, Ryu Seung Ryung
Overall Rating: 

Layering history-inspired fiction with modern supernatural element, Netflix original series Kingdom takes you to switching level of thrills which decelerate quickly, only to upsurge the tension with its impressive cliffhangers.

Evidently proving why Netflix chose Kingdom as one of its pioneering Korean series production, the first season grips your attention fast with its dynamic yet clearly-pictured narrative.


(Joo Ji Hoon as Prince Chang/Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Quick Plot Roundup

A mysterious malady causes Crown Prince Lee Chang to journey to a province, South of the country. After stumbling onto a strange record of his father’s health, he intends to get answers by going to where the King’s former physician lives.

What he did not expect is a terrifying epidemic, which endangers the kingdom he is bound to protect as an heir to the throne. Amidst the cryptic strange illness slowly breaking out in the country, Prince Chang also has to confront a formidable clan lead by Lord Cho, who has long desired to become Joseon’s most powerful man.

READ: Joo Ji Hoon Stumbles On Eerie Creatures In Teasers Of Netflix Series “Kingdom”

A historical K-Drama that won’t bore you!

Korean period dramas take the reputation of being a tedious watch, owing to elaborated narrative that ceaselessly runs several conflicts and side stories.

But – not with Kingdom. Cutting the usual sageuk’s overused impressions, the writing straightforwardly presents the focal problem. Consequently, it will lock the audience that may not particularly like Korean historical drama.

Furthermore, by limiting the mini setbacks garnished in the story, it amplifies the main conflict which helps in keeping the flow of the oeuvre neat and engaging.

Viewers get to experience the staple dysfunctional royal family relationships, political conspiracies, and governance failures usually present in historical productions. Fret not, because the inclusion of the spooky tweak makes the story easier to digest.

Deftly limning the horror twist, Kingdom goes full force with its terrifying scenes. Consider you are forewarned on wincing moments induced by savage fight scenes.

Spread in intervals, the heroes’ struggle to protect their lives against the human corpses, revs up the addictive thrill of the series.

Additionally, the series makes sure there is ample “real story” surrounding the main characters, alongside the frightening frames they have to traverse.


(Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Stimulating Hero versus villain Trope

Sketched in an epic landscape, inferable outwitting battles between the good and bad camps abound in Kingdom.

Joo Ji Hoon, portraying Prince Chang, is keen to challenge the cunning clan of the Queen and Lord Cho, by embarking on finding the truth about his father’s illness. Renowned actors Bae Doo Na and Ryu Seung Ryung take on roles of the female lead and the villain respectively.

Depicting notorious antagonist is common for period Korean series, but Ryu Seung Ryung easily amazes with his evil countenance determined to make life harder for the hero out of his unyielding greed.

Refusing to go overboard by bombarding taxing misfortunes for the heroes moving in the story, Kingdom strategically makes use of cool-down moments to highlight the emotional upheavals of the characters.

With the throne-tug-of-war premise clearly established, Prince Chang races to clear his name to claim his rightful throne. Unfortunately, the cryptic plague he is trying to fight with, seems escalating on a level that is hard to match.


(Ryu Seung Ryung as Lord Cho/Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Why you should add Kingdom on your Netflix bingewatch list?

Kingdom steers a rewarding complexity, which befits its intention to present a paradigm-shifting Korean historical drama.

Admittedly, I am not particularly eager to watch zombie stories. So I am surprised to be able to finish it in one sitting. As a K-drama fan who is used to watching historical K-Drama productions, utilizing power struggle and romance themes; Kingdom is such a breather, not to mention stimulating.

Famous for her riveting screenplay, writer Kim Eun Hee made sure that fans will feel her devotion for her craft after missing out the last three years to work on this project.

As she worked with film director Kim Jeong Hun, the polished helming of the storyline left clear points on what to anticipate when Kingdom returns for its second serving.

Unambiguously intending to expound the human-corpse outbreak, as well as the contention over Joseon’s seat of power; Kingdom strongly introduces the extent of limitless possibilities the series can delve into.

Tautly executed, the rendering of the oh-no-the-zombies-are-coming moments has had me at the edge of my seats countless of times. Yet, it makes me return for more.

Inevitably, expect to crave for its second installment after watching the first season of Kingdom. Even the knowledge of when it is, will surely haunt you — as is the case for me.

Set your calendar on January 25 for the premiere of Netflix’s first Korean series — KINGDOM.


Bae Doo Na as Beo Mi/Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Hellokpop extends gratitude to Netflix PH for the exclusive preview to Kingdom.

*All photos courtesy of Netflix PH.


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.

E: abby@hellokpop.com