original published date: 27 December 2020
There are always some dramas that are the highlight of the year (highlight not best). The King: Eternal Monarch was one of the dramas that we will associate with 2020.
When The King was airing, I wrote a review for the drama but I just didn't feel like putting it out in the world because I was very undecided about my feelings for this drama. But I cannot end 2020 content in good conscience if I didn't acknowledge the drama that defined 2020 for Korean Dramas. So here is a mixed review of The King: Eternal Monarch (where I make an attempt to explain what worked, what didn't and what was tolerable).
What Is It About?
Yi Gon is the King of modern-day Korea. His world is well-developed and rich and everyone adores their king. One day he accidentally travels into a parallel universe where he meets Police Officer Jeong Tae Eul (Kim Go Eun).
The Good, The Bad, and The Tolerable
The King was one of the most anticipated Kdramas of the year and for all good reasons!
- It was the comeback of the king of kdramas Lee Min Ho after his military service.
- The cast was amazing (Lee Min Ho, Kim Go Eun, and Woo Do Hwan were in it).
- And it was written by screenwriter Kim Eun Sook - the writer who gave us Goblin.
Needless to say, everyone was hyped up for The King: Eternal Monarch which was reflected in the high ratings of the drama. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the high expectation. Well, at least mine.
Let me explain why!
The Eternal King of Korean Dramas: Lee Min Ho
Is there anyone who is not enchanted by this man? Lee Min Ho is truly the King of the Korean drama world. He was my first proper introduction to Korean Dramas with Boys Over Flower about a decade ago. He is one of those iconic actors who just needs to accept a drama to make it a blockbuster.
Truly, every single role he has ever done was iconic and memorable. This particular role felt like it was made just for him. There is nobody who could have done justice to the character of King.
The Unbreakable Sword: Woo Do Hwan
Not gonna lie I watched this drama for Woo Do Hwan and he was my biggest if not the only motivation to continue the show. Seriously, have you SEEN HIM???? Talent, beauty, and that damn smile. Honestly, I might watch it again just to see him.
I mean...just LOOK at him!
The King has one of the best casts in dramas this year. Every single actor in this drama brought their A-game on screen. From the villain to the side characters, all had something to add to the screen. The chemistry between the cast on-screen and off-screen was one of the best parts of the drama.
The entire drama was beautifully shot, CGI was also stunning, and all the locations added to the beauty and fantasy of the drama. The cinematics of this drama was exceptional. The colours and concept for the parallel universe looked beautiful and fantastical as they should. It was so pretty, I ended up screengrabbing a lot f these beautiful scenes for no reason.
Worldbuilding and Timeline
If you have seen Goblin you must know how amazing the world-building was in the drama: each character, their history, myths, and timeline somehow made complete sense. In the King, there was a good idea. King in an alternate universe. It could have been very very interesting if not for the lazy worldbuilding.
The worldbuilding and timeline of the drama had so many plotholes, confusing plot points, and magic rules that didn't make sense. As the story progressed it kept getting confusing and annoying. And don't even get me started on the plotholes. Because what was that??
The writers just created a whole mess with the villain and swapped people only for them to pull all the mess under the rug at the last hour of the episode in the hopes people will not notice the big pile of plotholes that were right in front of theirs.
Writing for the Rest of the Characters
Not one of the characters got the proper screen time they deserved - especially the main cast besides the leads. The drama had such a big star cast, but none of their characteristics and story arc was well flushed out, and none of them got the character growth they deserved. They were all just forgotten about the mess of the plot except when they had to move the lot ahead.
The Love Story
They were cute of course but even this felt forced for some reason. They were in love just for the sake of being in love. I also might be biased because I felt Woo Do Hwan's unbreakable sword was a better love interest for Lee Min Ho's King hehe. They had the kind of history and romance that the drama needed.
The Overall Drama
Regardless of the mess, it was watchable, and I got attached to some of these characters along the way. I am a big sucker for this kind of blockbuster drama and unfortunately, we haven't had many of these in recent times. So I will take what I can get.
The King: Eternal Monarch is not a bad drama in any sense if you love kdramas and if you can overlook (or understand even a little bit of) the complicated time concept it is worth a watch. Perhaps the drama's popularity was the reason it got as much hate as it got. Either way, watch it and decide for yourself.
I would like to end this review with the hope that somewhere in one of the parallel universes Woo Do Hwan is waiting for me. LOL, just kidding. But not really - WDH, please come get me.