The series follows King Lee Gon (Lee Min-ho) of the Kingdom of Corea, who discovers the existence of a parallel universe.
In 1994, tragedy strikes 8-year-old crown prince Lee Gon as his power monger Uncle Lee Lim kills the King (Lee Gon’s father) to obtain Manpasikjeok – legendary flute that gives the possessor immense power. Lee Lim almost succeeds in killing Lee Gon too but a mysterious figure enters the scene and saves Lee Gon. Lee Lim flees the scene with one-half of the flute while Lee Gon manages to keep the other half. The mysterious figures leaves behind an object (ID card of Lieutenant Jung Tae Eul) which Lee Gon procures. Lee Gon is puzzled as the ID card has been issued at a future date. Lee Gon grows up with the intention of meeting his saviour one day.
Meanwhile, Lee Lim vows to get what he wants and starts working on it while laying low. King Lee Gon is raised by Court Lady Noh and Prince Buyeong amidst tight security. Captain of the Royal Guard Jo Yeong is Lee Gon’s closest aid and confidant.
Tae Eul (portrayed by Kim Go-eun) is a Lieutenant at the Police force in Republic of Korea (Parallel world). She lives with her father who runs a Taekwondo centre. She works in the violent crimes department along with Shin Jae, her friend from the school days.
One day, Lee Gon comes across the portal that connects the parallel world and meets Tae Eul. Lee Gon realises that Lee Lim is still alive and plotting something sinister. What happens from there forms the rest of the storyline.
What sets The King-Eternal Monarch apart from the other stories with time-related plotlines is the concept of parallel universe. The contrasting worlds of Kingdom of Corea and The Republic of Korea were well made. For starters, both the worlds are set in the same timeline. The attire and technology are the same in both worlds. The Kingdom of Corea has Constitutional Monrachy Government while republic of Korea has a Democratic Republic.
Seeing the title, I assumed it would be having a historical touch to it. But this series came as a surprise. It is more of an urban fantasy with a touch of scientific fiction.
The Kingdom of Corea is interesting to watch, as it is more of an alternate reality. The functionality of the Constitutional Monarchy was well portrayed. The justice system was well-managed when compared to Republic of Korea (our world). It was interesting to see how the Kingdom wasn’t a divided nation and how the political situation was penned.
Another interesting aspect of this series is the use of doppelgangers. Almost every character has a doppelganger since it is a parallel universe. Every character has an important role to play in the plot and that was well woven into the script.
The first few episodes of the series were disoriented and confusing. The switching between the universes was unclear as one isn’t familiar with the characters early on. The screenplay in the beginning could’ve been better as it was more of a by-the-numbers execution of the script. It took time for the viewer to relate to the characters and their emotions and at the same time understand the plot.
After the initial hiccups in the first few episodes, the story picked up pace and there was no looking back after that. The plot was deep and gave a lot of food for thought, as it was engaging and interesting. The plot twists were unpredictable which made them thrilling. As the story progressed, it made up for the tardiness that it had at the beginning.
The entire series has a looming sadness around it. Each character has his/her perception of fate and destiny. The dialogues in scenes where the characters talk about destiny and fate were well-written.
Though the drama started off with the romantic storyline first, the relationship between Lee Gon and Jeong Tae-eul takes time to develop. They are depicted as star-crossed lovers with the two of them being from two different worlds. Their relationship moves from compassion to affection to fondness and then love. What starts off as an ordinary romantic plot later develops into an emotional and strong love story that gels beautifully into the main plot.
The scientific fiction and urban fantasy part of the storyline was what kept me hooked to this series. It always had that mysterious air about it and was fascinating. The legend of the manpsikjeok by itself, the portals and the time-stop were some of the parts in the series that hit the mark right from the start. The Time-travel part which comes towards the end of the series was amazing as it was depicted in an amazing manner.
Thoughout the series, there were many scenes that are often revisited (Courtyard scene, night of the treason etc).These scenes were my pick of the scenes from the series. They started off by being normal scenes but towards the end of the series one realises that they hold a lot of significance to the plot and character development.
There are quite a lot of characters that the viewer takes an instant liking to. Maximus (goes by his real name Benjamin), Lee Gon’s White horse is always pleasant to see on the screen. It is always nice to see Lee Gon’s secretary Mo, the P.R team, staff and Royal Guards work efficiently around the Palace. Their performance is what gives a regal atmosphere to the Kingdom of Corea. The setting and cinematography were a treat for the eyes.
Kim So Wol‘s poetry excerpts are quoted throughout the series and they were a good addition.
Lee Gon’s bond with Head Court Lady Noh (Kim Young-Ok) was well made. The unbreakable sword- Jo Yeong’s fierce loyalty (since he was 4 years old) concern and towards Lee Gon was a great watch from the beginning till the very end. One always likes watching Jo Yeong on screen. He is literally Lee Gon’s human shield.
The story has a slight reference to fairytales. For instance, Maximus shares the name with Maximus from Tangled. Lee Gon makes a reference to Alice in wonderland rabbit hole and even chases after a rabbit with a clock and black coat.
This series was splendid because of the outstanding performance by the cast.
Lee Min-ho portrays Lee Gon, the frank, composed and wise King of the Kingdom of Corea. Lee Gon is quite different from the usual Kings who are portrayed as dynamic and ambitious. Being an intellectual mathematician, he is more of a responsible and compassionate King who puts his people before anything. There is always an air of sadness looming over him, which is a burden that he carries from his past. At first, his character seems unassertive but that comes as a tip of the iceberg. As the series progresses one sees that Lee Gon is a man of his word, an unyielding and strong-willed King. The character gains respect through his prompt Kingly actions and presence of mind. Lee Min-ho’s portrayal of Lee Gon as the monarch (who has pent up rage on Lee Lim and the traitors) was noteworthy as it shows a different side to Lee Gon’s otherwise calm and serene nature.
Kim Go-eun portrays Jeong Tae Eul, a Lieutenant at the Police force in the Republic of Korea. At first, Tae Eul comes across as unkind and dull but later grows into a caring and loving character. Tae Eul who claims she still believes that the earth is flat, finds it impossible to believe that Lee Gon is from another world. But once she believes it, we see that she is a wilful and loyal person who will stop at nothing to keep her loved ones safe. Tae Eul is a practical character who doesn’t lose her sense of direction at any point. She grasps the intensity of every situation and supports Lee Gon all the way. This made the romantic aspect of the plot a good watch. It is admirable how Kim Go-eun has portrayed Jeong Tae Eul, who gradually shifts from being a total stranger to Lee Gon ( and the concept of parallel universe) to a person who joins Lee Gon in his battle against Lee Lim. Kim’s portrayal of Luna (Tae Eul’s doppelganger) is commendable as she carries off what seems to be a negative role with ease.
Woo Do-hwan portrays Jo Yeong and Jo Eun sup. It is a delight to watch the contrasting personalities of both Jo Yeong and Eun sup whenever they are on screen. Woo Do-Hwan’s portrayal of the characters which are polar opposites is laudable. His command over the two dialects was a treat to watch. The scenes where Jo Eun sup and Jo Yeong interact are the most hilarious parts of the series.
Kang Shin-jae is portrayed by Kim Kyung-Nam. Shin-jae is a Police Officer working with Tae-Eul. Having a harsh past, he is one of the most significant supporting characters in the series.
Koo Seo Ryeong played by Jung Eun Chae, is a challenging rival to Lee Gon. With her striking wardrobe and high heels, Koo is a dynamic personality who will go to any length to attain what she wants. Jung Eun Chae does a great job in bringing the character to life.
Lee Jung-Jin portrays Lee Lim, the mysterious antagonist who seems to be having a sinister plan on his mind. Lee Jung Nim has delivered the role very well as Lee Lim gives the look of the evil and blood-thirsty cold-hearted villain.
The drama more than made up for its slow start with the episodes in the second half of the show and the finale. It is remarkable how the concept of time travel and parallel worlds were added into one script.
The series ended on a happy note with all characters getting a good ending. A telltale sign of a good fantasy genre drama is to leave the viewer lost in fantasy. After watching ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’, it makes one fantasize about the existence of a parallel world ruled by a King who is loved by all. It also makes one fantasize about the existence of so many alternate unverses and that makes The King: Eternal Monarch a drama worth watching.
-By Soul Sword-