Kingdom is an enthralling story in a historical setting with loads of zombies.
Kingdom is a Netflix Original South Korean zombie series that takes place in the Joseon era in Korea. It’s a very gorgeous looking series, with lots of action, humor, political schemes, and of course loads of zombies.
In the beginning it can be a little confusing who is who, who wants what and why, and where some scenes take place. It takes about half of the season to really understand all the characters, their motivations and their place in the hierarchy, but when these introductions are over, it’s full on zombie time. But the real life horrors, and power struggles of the noblemen are just as horrifying as the hoard of zombies, and makes Kingdom even more interesting.
The first season consists of 6 episodes each with a duration of 43-56 minutes. It’s one long story while the mystery of the zombies unravels, schemes are uncovered and crown prince Lee Chang evolves on an epic journey to save his people. It is highly recommended to watch the series with its original Korean audio and with subtitles in your own language if possible.
After the king falls ill, his son crown prince Lee Chang goes on a quest to find out what is happening to him. Accompanied by his friend and personal guard Mu-yeong they travel to Dongnae to find the royal doctor Lee in search for answers. But when they come across a small hospital Jiyulheon, where nurse Seo-bi and Yeon-sin are the only survivors after a massacre, they’ll find that the disease his father suffers from has turned all the patients into flesh eating and killing monsters. They team up to warn the magistrate Cho Beom-pal.
But Chang is declared an enemy of the thrown for treason by Cho Hak-ju the leader of the Haewon Cho-clan the great noblemen of Hanyang. While his daughter, the Queen is pregnant and her son will be the official next in line for the thrown, and Chang’s life, being the mere son of a concubine, is in danger.
So Chang, Mu-yeong, Seo-bi and Yeon-sin have to find out more about the mysterious disease, find a cure, find a save place, find allies and save as many people as they can.
Why you should watch it
The series looks fabulous. The art decoration, the settings and the costumes make the Joseon era come to live. It maybe starts out a bit slow, but the series takes its time to tell the story of different characters, and how the power is distributed and how the political and royal hierarchies work. But when the four main characters finally meet up, the real action and quest is about to begin.
It’s an adventurous series with lots of action, edge of your seat moments, and loads of zombies. Although there are called monsters, they act like real dangerous and creepy zombies. They’re fast, lethal and one bite turns you into one of them. They are excellently filmed, and bring in real horror. It doesn’t sheer from very heavy scenes. While a mom is bitten by zombies a baby is rescued, but other little children are bitten and go full-on zombie on their parents.
But the zombies do not even provide the most gruesome and sickening horror in the series. The noblemen and the army of Cho Hak-ju are relentless and ruthless. There are scenes when people and children and elderly people are rescued in a most brave way by our heroes, only to get killed moments later by the soldiers in a brutal way. That’s the real horror of the series.
It combines the political schemes and the arrogance and egotistical behavior of the noblemen, that are comical as well as disrespectful, with the zombie horror in a great way. The noblemen’s action and their greed result in famine and deaths to the people, turning them into zombies which is as symbolic as it is very real.
It’s an epic story, about the coming of age and wisdom and heroism of Chang and about his friendship with Mu-yeong. Their relationship can be funny at times, and they are at the heart of the series.
Seo-bi is a very decisive nurse, who is afraid but not too afraid to fight or to find a cure. When she saves the life of Cho Beom-pal, he falls for her, changing him somewhat in a more likable person, but still remains an arrogant and egotistical and cowardly man even if he doesn’t realize it himself. That makes him a welcome comic relief in the series.
Yeon-sin is a mysterious character and although we find out some more about him, he still has hidden depths, we hopefully get to learn about in the next season.
It is a well-balanced out series with as much focus on the characters, and the schemes as on the zombies.
My favorite part
My favorite part is the scene when they have to flee from Dongnae to Jiyulheon. They take all the remaining people, run with children in their arms, and take the elderly on two carts with them. It’s a race against time, because when it gets dark, the zombies awake. It is such a thrilling scene, a real nail biting piece of work. It’s heroic and epic and shows what the characters are made of.
Also the ending when Chang, Mu-yeon, Seo-bi, Yeon-sin and Cho Beom-pal arrive at Sangju to ask help from Ahn Hyeon and they prepare the city to withstand an attack of the zombies, it feels like an epic effort, only to have an enormous twist at the end, you don’t see coming and neither did they. It changes everything and leaves us with a very teasing cliffhanger.
Epic factor: ★★★☆☆
Thrill factor: ★★★★☆
Gruesome factor: ★★★★☆
Entertainment factor: ★★★★★
Read more about Kingdom:
Cast and crew
Kingdom is based on the webcomic series The Kingdom/Land of the Gods written by Kim Eun-hee and drawn by Yang Kyung-il. The series is directed by Kim Seong-hun and written by Kim Eun-hee. It stars Greg Chun (Chang), Sang-ho Kim (Mu-yeong), Doona Bae (Seo-bi), Kim Sungkyu (Yeon-sin), Suk-ho Jun (Cho Beom-pal), Ryu Seung-ryong (Cho Hak-ju) and Hye-Jun Kim (Queen).
Production company: AStory. Original network: Netflix.