The King-Eternal Monarch- Episode 1 Recap
A man narrates that during the Silla Dynasty, in the spring of 682, King Sinmun received a bamboo flute from the Dragon King of the East Sea. He claims that if the flute is played, enemies would retreat, diseases would be cured, rain would fall during droughts and rainy season would end, the wind would stop and strong waves would subside. The man says the King named the flute “Manpasikjeok” and designated it as the national treasure.
The man Lee Lim (Lee Jung-Jin) is in bloodstained clothes and sits handcuffed in an interrogation room. He says that to most people, this story is just a myth. Jung Tae-Eul (Kim Go-Eun) sits across the table, listening to him. Detective Shin stands besides her. He states that Lee Lim was born in 1951 and is aged 70 as on the year 2020.
Lee Lim claims that he stopped aging since the winter of 1994. Detective Shin Jae asks him to explain. Lee says it is because he got his hands on Manpasikjeok. He says he took it from his brother who had it, but didn’t believe in it. Tae-eul asks if he killed his brother. Lee says he did and says Manpasikjeok appears once in 20 years to bring peace. He says his half-brother became the King just because he was the legitimate son. He says his brother didn’t know that what he had in his hands would bring the world to him- two different worlds. He says he expected his nephew to one day face this legend too, just like Lee.
(In the woods, King Lee Gon (Lee Min-Ho) (with his four tiger sword) is on his horse watching the portal in front of him.)
KINGDOM OF COREA, WINTER OF 1994
The busy city is lit up at night and Prince Imperial Geum Lee Lim (King Lee Ho’s half brother and Lee Gon’s uncle) is inside the palace. He picks up the four tiger sword. It has the words “The sky and the earth help the earth balance, defeat the bad and make things just.”engraved on it. He is told that the king is in Cheonjongo.
Lee Lim and his armed men shoot the royal guards and walk up to the king.
Meanwhile, the King places Manpasikjeok in a glass cabinet and locks it. He hears the gunshots and is shocked to find Lee walking towards him holding the four tiger sword. He asks if Lee isn’t scared of the punishment from the skies. Lee leaves behind bloody footprints as he walks up to the King. Lee says he wants to become the one who gives punishment from the skies. He says God never created humans but weak humans created God. He drives the four tiger sword through King Lee Ho. The King falls down as the blood pools around him. Lee Lim takes the Manpasikjeok from the cabinet.
Young crown prince Lee Gon comes into the room, his feet drenched in blood. He runs to his father crying. He tries to shake his father awake. Lee Lim comments that Lee Gon is an orphan now. Lee Gon picks up the heavy four tiger sword.
Lee Lim is amused as he asks if Lee Gon plans to hurt him with that. Lee Gon swings the swords and chops the Manpasikjeok in two pieces. He also slashes Lee Lim’s hand in the process. His blood drenches the flute.
Lee Gon orders Lee Lim’s arrest and says he deprives Lee Lim of his royal status. He sentences Lee Lim with maximum penalty. Lee Lim says he sounds like the crown prince for the first time. The royal guard points the gun at Lee Gon. Lee Gon is shocked. Just then, a masked figure walks into the palace and picks up one of the dead guard’s gun.
Lee Lim says he will do it himself. He takes the broken flute and holds it against Lee Gon’s neck, pushing him against the pillar. The flute cuts into Lee Gons skin as Lee Lim strangles him.
Lee Gon loses consciousness as a bullet strikes the glass ceiling, sending a rain of glass shards down. The black masked figure walks in shooting the guards. The figure dodges the bullets fired in its direction.
Lee Gon moves his hand and slowly takes one broken half of the Manpasikjeok.
The figure fires more shots at Lee Lim. Lee Lim runs away with his men.
The figure walks up to Lee Gon who lies on the floor with the snow falling over him. The figure feels Lee Gon’s pulse. The emergency dispatch is heard over the radio. The figure gets up and walks away. Lee Gon clasps the figure’s Lanyard (Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency). The figure doesn’t notice the ID card fall into Lee Gon’s hand as it walks away.
The Kingdom mourns the King’s murder. It is announced that Lee Lim has fled and is wanted for murder. It is announced that crown prince Lee Gon will be crowned King of Corea. It is announced that the second in line to the throne is Prince Ipyeong’s eldest son Prince Buyeong, Professor Lee Jong In.
No Ok-nam greets the Prince at the airport. He asks her about the crown prince. She says asking about the crown prince will lead to misunderstandings. He says people will gossip about him anyways. When asked about Lee Lim, she says the investigations are on. Buyeong says it looks like Lee Lim has planned an escape route too.
(The previous night)
Lee Lim staggers into a bamboo forest. He has the other half of the Manpasikjeok flute. He stops at one point in the forest. A portal erupts in front of it. He looks at the flute and walks into the portal.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA, WINTER OF 1994
Lee Lim walks on the road. He doesn’t notice anything different at first. He sees the news about Seongsu bridge collapse. He reads the banners and wonders what “Republic of Korea”means. He reads the newspaper about the President of South Korea.
A man bumps into him and picks up a fight with him. The man (he isn’t well-to-do) immediately recognises Lee as his half-brother. Lee Lim is shocked to see his Half-brother (King Lee Ho in the parallel universe who Lee Lim had just now killed) alive. He pushes the man away and looks at the broken flute saying he was right. Lee asks to see the man’s older brother.
Lee Lim later walks into a house and finds a disabled version of himself (from Korea Republic Universe) sitting in the chair. Lee walks over to the man. Lee comments that he has been living such a lowly life. Lee says both of them do look alike. Lee tells the man, “I am you, but in a different world. But I am very different from you. I am much nobler than you.” Lee breaks the man’s (disabled Lee Lim of the ‘republic Korea’ universe) neck and kills him.
Just then, a young boy (crown prince Lee Gon in the parallel universe) walks into the house. He identifies Lee Lim as his uncle and asks how he is standing. His eyes immediately fall on the dead disabled Lee. The boy immediately takes a cane from the side and points it at Lee Lim.
Lee comments that even in this world, the boy has seen something he shouldn’t have and is holding something he shouldn’t. He walks towards the boy.
KINGDOM OF COREA
CORONATION OF THE THIRD KING
The coronation of young Lee Gon takes place. The foreign dignitaries are present. Court Lady No Ok-nam watches the ceremony.
Lee Gon then mourns his father’s death for 26 days according to law.
(Looks like the scene changes to Republic of Korea)
A woman is at the morgue. She confirms that the dead body of the hit-and-run case is her husband’s (King Lee Ho in parallel universe and half brother of Lee Lim). She then asks the government to cremate the body, as she has to get back to work.
The woman gets back home. She comments that her husband had at-least eaten a full meal before he died. She then does the dishes. She laughs out saying that she is happy her husband is no more and comments that she would’ve either killed herself or killed him if this hadn’t happened.
Behind her, a man sits in a wheelchair (belonging to disabled Lee Lim). He wears a bloody bandage on his right hand.
She is startled by a noise. She turned around and is shocked see the man on the wheelchair get up and walks towards her. She falls down in shock as she stares at the man in horror.
The next day, Lee Gon continues to mourn his father’s death loudly. He has a bandage on his neck from the wound made by the flute. A young boy Jo Young approaches him and offers him food. Lee Gon is annoyed.
Jo Young’s father tells No Ok-nam that it isn’t working. She says it is planned and to give it time.
Later, Lee gon is in his study working on mathematics. Jo Young walks in and tries to strike a conversation. Lee Gon asks how Jo managed to get in here. Jo asks if he thinks the entire place is his. Lee Gon says it is. He is annoyed and asks who is Jo’s father. Jo says he is Lee Gon’s father’s friend.
At night after the funeral service is over, No Ok-nam says he has done his first duty very well. Lee Gon falls to his knees and starts crying.
Jo Young comes up to him and bursts into tears. Lee Gon stops crying and brings his toy saber. He gives it to Jo Young and says Jo should stop crying. He says Jo is hereafter the unbreakable sword. Jo asks what is an unbreakable board and Lee Gon starts laughing. They get introduced to each other. Jo takes the saber and thanks Lee Gon.
Meanwhile, a man finds Lee Lim’s body washed to the shore by the waves. He starts yelling.
Lee Lim’s body has the same ring and scar but the bandage isn’t there.
At the Royal Hospital of Corea, Lady Noh speaks with Buyeong. She says she asked him to do the autopsy as the news can’t be made public. She says the royal guards think Lee committed suicide. She also mentions that the waves have broken his bones.
Buyeong says it is actually shooting by the Royal guards and he will have to make a false statement for the young king and the chaotic court.
Meanwhile, Lee Lim’s assistant is working at the salt pans. He is angry when he reads the news of Lee Lim’s suicide. He continues to work on the salt pans.
(the scene tilts upside down denoting the shift in the parallel universe or time lapse?)
Lee Lim walks up to the assistant and the assistant is shocked to see him. He falls to his knees and asks how Lee still looks the same as it has been over a decade since he saw Lee. Lee says he wants to show the man a new world.
KINGDOM OF COREA, BUSAN MAIN PALACE, FALL OF 2019
Prime Minister Koo Seo-ryeong’s aircraft lands in Busan. She walks into the palace.
Lee Gon (Lee Min Ho)gets dressed. He still has the scar on his neck. His attendant helps him button up his shirt. JoYoung (Woo Do-Hwan) stands beside Lee Gon. Both Lee and Jo stop the attendant as the man tries to button up Lee Gon’s collar. Lee Gon says he will do it himself. Jo tells the man that Lee Gon doesn’t like his body being touched by others. Before going to his horse riding course, Lee Gon says he will drop by his room first.
Meanwhile, in Lee Gon’s room, Lady Noh is busy hiding talismans that are supposed to bring a love-life for Lee Gon. She tells the maid to make a note of all the places so that they can be replaced a month later. She says Lee Gon shouldn’t hear about it. Lady Noh turns around to find Lee Gon watching her.
She is startled and asks why he is here. She says the Prime Minister is waiting for him. Lee Gon says that the talisman might be working and Prime Minister Koo might become the Queen. Lady Noh calls Koo a bitch but stops herself from saying further.
She tries to take the talismans from him but he holds them out of her reach. She explains that the court is unstable and it is the King’s duty to produce an heir. Lee Gon says he isn’t interested. She calls him unbelievable. Lee Gon says that she is the first woman to be so rude to him since he ascended the throne.
He throws the talismans in the dustbin and says she will be beheaded. As he walks away, he tells her to tell Koo that he will meet her in 2 hours as planned earlier. After he leaves, Lady Noh picks the talisman from the trash and asks the maids to hide it in clockwise direction this time.
After his horseriding course, Lee Gon walks his horse back. He tells Jo that he found 8 talismans again which brings the total to 51. Seeing Jo’s expression, Lee Gon asks if there are more. Jo says he didn’t take active part in it. Lee Gon threatens to punish Jo when Koo’s car drives in.
Koo walks up to him and says she is early. She says she missed his horse Maximus. Maximus turns away as she greets it. Lee Gon says Maximus doesn’t like women and it bites. Koo says she bites people as well. She asks him to wave his hand for the paparazzi that are filming them.
Lee Gon asks her to walk beside him. She stands beside him and says he shortened their meeting time to half an hour. Lee Gon says she reports to him only for 18 minutes so half an hour is ample time. She whispers in his ear that the country is peaceful. She says the people will be happy if they see more photos of them. The paparazzi click photos. Lee Gon leans in and whispers his thanks to her.
Koo says she wants to learn horse riding. Lee Gon says that “If you have trained honestly every time, your horse will take you to the edge of the world.” He asks Koo if she is honest. He says he received her report and took photos. He says they should end it here.
Later, Lee Gon comes out of the shower. He wipes the mirror and is shocked to see Jo standing behind him. Jo says it is time for the next appointment. Lee gon asks him how long he has been standing there. Jo asks if he really wants to kno. Lee Gon threatens to behead him.
Jo says Lee Gon bolts every time and he wouldn’t be surprised if Lee Gon had dug a tunnel from his bathroom. Lee Gon asks how Jo can dare to talk to his King in that manner. He says everything here is his. Jo walks out without a word. Lee gon follows Jo calling him unbreakable sword.
Later, the appointment turns out to be “Fairy tales told by the King”. Lee Gon reads the story “Alice in Wonderland” to the children. In the end, he says this is his favourite book and the author was a mathematician. The children say the story is boring and he laughs.
A young girl in the crowd asks Lee Gon if he has a girlfriend. Lee Gon catches Lady Noh’s eye and says he knows who put her up to this question. He says he doesn’t have a girlfriend. The girl says he should follow a white rabbit too. He says he should start reading again and the kids object in chorus. Lee Gon starts laughing.
A dark blonde haired girl runs from two men chasing her. She picks up a rabbit hood on the way and wears it as she tries to lose the men in the crowd.
Meanwhile, Lee Gon takes part in a rowing race and his team wins.
The girl runs into the place where the crowd has gathered to watch the race. The men lose their patience and one of them fires his gun in the air.
Jo pushes Lee Gon to the floor as the guards cover them. The guards surround the two men.
Lee Gon spots the hooded rabbit figure sitting by the wall.
Jo looks away for a moment. As he turns around, he finds that Lee Gon is no longer there.
Lee Gon chases after the rabbit figure (reminds him of the white rabbit in Alice in wonderland). The rabbit figure is too fast for him. He chases after her for a really long time and finally comes to a stop.
Jo catches up to him commenting that he has great stamina as he ran such a long distance after a rowing race. Lee says he saw a white rabbit. Jo seems clueless. Lee learns that Jo wasn’t listening to the storytelling session earlier.
Later at the palace, Jo tells Lee Gon to wear a bullet proof vest hereafter. Lee says he won’t, as he has Jo to protect him. Jo is persistent. Lee asks Jo to wear two vests in that case.
Jo says he got a warning. Lee asks who warned him. Jo says his sense of duty did.
Jo says they caught the men who caused a scene earlier but they are still searching for the white rabbit with the clock. He tells Lee not to try to catch the culprit on his own. Lee says he isn’t trying to catch anyone. He says he wants to find the face that only he can recognise. He says every time something like this happens he feels like the masked figure is present (from the day his father was killed), whether it was 25 years ago or now.
Jo says it’s been 25 years and Lee’s saviour might have aged a lot. He asks if Lee Gon can recognise the face. Lee says he isn’t sure. He says they might have already met unknowingly. He wonders why his saviour hasn’t come to see him. Jo says perhaps it is because Lee has grown up well and doesn’t need anyone’s help.
Lee Gon smiles and says Jo isn’t mad at him anymore. He asks if they can have a beer. Jo refuses and holds up the vest. Lee asks him to go home.
Later, Lee Gon helps himself to a beer. He takes the book Alice in Wonderland. He opens the page and takes the ID card that he has saved from 25 years earlier.
It has Lietenant Jung Tae-Eul’s image on it with her name. Her date of birth reads May 27 th 1990. (Looks like it has been issued on 11.11.2019) Lee Gon looks at today’s date. It reads 2019-09-10.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA, FALL OF 2019
Jung Tae-Eul walks down the parking lot and starts her car. She loses control of the car as she reverses and bangs into another car. The security calls up the owner as she drives away. the guard requests the owners to come down fast.
The pizza delivery man says those men never come down. The guard says they will if they find someone else breaking the law. The owners rush down to check the damage.
Detective Kang Shin Jae watches from afar. He speaks into his listening device asking Tae-Eul if she is okay. She says she is fine as she has done this many times. He comments that her clothes are mismatched. She abruptly stops her car saying she smelled something.
She immediately reverses the car in full speed back into the parking lot. The men in the parking lot are alarmed seeing the car reversing towards them. They stand rooted to the spot as she stops inches before them.
She climbs out of the car. The man tries to tackle her but she hits him and he falls on the cars trunk. The trunk opens and they find a dead body inside. Jan Tae Eul speaks into her mike that this has turned from a illegal gambling website case into a murder case. The man starts yelling that he has no idea as to who that person is.
The suspect (who has a wound on his head) tries to flee but the team manages to arrest him.The team has a chat after arresting the suspects. They later make fun of her outfit which annoys her.
Meanwhile, Lee Gon is at the riding course. He notices the rabbit figure running behind the building. he whistles and Maximus comes to him. He climbs on Maximus and races behind the rabbit figure. He tells his guard to inform Jo that he wants to find out if it the rabbit or the clock.
(Republic of Korea)
Lee Lim is at a painting studio as he makes red paint.
Jung Tae Eul says that the dead body is that of a hardware store owner named Lee Sang Do, age 45. She says he is a member of the gambling website. Detective Shin goes over to check the CCTV.
Jo meanwhile, checks the CCTV for feeds on Lee Gon whereabouts.
Lee Gon reaches the bamboo forest and Maximus stops. Lee wonders what is wrong. Lee Gon hears the thunder and rustling of the bamboos. He rides further into the forest.
Suddenly, the portal opens in front of him. Lee Gon rides through the portal.
Meanwhile, Lee Lim knocks over a bowl of paint. As it falls, it freezes in time. he watches the bowl of falling dye suspended in air before it falls and shatters.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Jung Tae Eul is stuck in traffic. She is startled as she sees through the rearview mirror, an image of herself in rabbit hood. She turns around but sees no one there. Tae Eul comments that she must be getting old.
Just then she notices Lee Gon riding Maximus past her. She tries calling out to him but he doesn’t respond. She switches her siren on and follows him
Lee Gon stops Maximus by the city square. People crowd around commenting that he is handsome.
He notices the changes in the surroundings. He sees the billboard stating “Queen Yuna. The beginning of a new legend.”
He turns around as he hears Tae Eul telling him to get down from the horse. Lee Gon recognises her instantly from the ID card. He doesn’t respond as she continues to tell him off. She asks him why he is staring at her. The she puts her ID card out and says she is a cop.
Lee Gon gets down from his horse and walks up to her. She leans backward as he stops close to her. He holds her ID card in his hands and checks it. She asks him what he is doing.
Lee Gon says, “I’ve finally met you Lieutenant Jung Tae Eul”. Tae Eul gives him a confused look. She is caught off guard as he pulls her into a hug.
Image Courtesy- SBS
The story takes place in parallel universe and its different from the the usual time-travel theme. It is interesting to see just the governments changing in parallel universe while everything else remains same. But, it looks like time-travel is also happening because Lee Lim doesn’t age. Lee attributes it to the flute. He also travels back and forth between the universes.
There are a lot of scenes where the transition between the universes are not shown properly and it is left to the viewers imagination to decide whether it is Corea or Korea. Also, there is a scene at the sea pans where Lee Lim visits his assistant. I wonder if it is time travel or time lapse or traveling between worlds.
The first episode raises a lot of questions.
After umpteen number of time travel books and movies, I couldn’t help but think that the masked figure was Lee Gon’s as an adult who came back to save himself. It may also be possible that he deliberately left Tae Eul’s ID card behind to put Lee Gon on the right path. But considering the storyline, there seems to be many other options too. I am sure the guessing is going to keep going throughout the series.
Looks like not much has changed between the two worlds. The industrial development seems to be the same. The clothing too seems to be the same. Also, Lee Lim has the same family in the parallel universe as well. It looks like Lee Lim may have succeeded in killing Lee Gon and his father in this universe though. Technically technically he killed himself too.
I am curious to know if the wife of the hit and run victim (King Lee Ho in Corea world) was the queen in the Kingdom of Corea and if she harbored the same hatred for her husband in Corea as well.
The character sketch of Lee Lim is well written. He is portrayed as a formidable foe who doesn’t hesitate to kill himself if necessary.
Brave as a child, Lee Gon has grown up to be a clam and composed person. Not much was shown about Lee Gon or Jun Tae Eul in this episode. Jo and Le Gon’s friendship is good to watch.
This drama has to be watched attentively as the shifting between the parallel universes are sudden and it takes time to get the hang of it.
The first episode makes one curious to see what lies ahead.
-By Soul Sword-