Half historic political drama, half supernatural zombie horror, the South Korean sequence Kingdom proved to be a wise, heady, addictive delight when it debuted final yr, simply incomes a spot on our yr’s finest listing for 2019. It boasted gorgeous visuals, memorable characters, and a juggernaut of a plot, with the occasional moments of comedian aid. If something, S2 is even higher. Truthfully, between this excellent sequence and the Oscar-winning Parasite alone, South Korea has firmly established itself on the forefront of worldwide movie and tv.
(Spoilers for S1; some spoilers for S2 under the gallery.)
The sequence is predicated on a well-liked South Korean webcomic Kingdom of the Gods by Kim Eun-hee, who additionally tailored it for tv. Set in Korea’s Joseon interval, ), Kingdom begins as the present king has succumbed to smallpox. His conniving younger spouse, Queen Cho (Kim Hye-jun), and her household have stored him artificially alive—through a “resurrection plant” that turns the king right into a flesh-eating zombie—till her son is born. Her son would inherit the throne over the present Crown Prince, Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), who was born to a concubine.
The king’s “affliction” quickly spreads to the outer provinces. The zombie king kills the doctor’s younger assistant, and the physique is introduced again to his clinic within the distant village of Dongnae, the place the individuals are ravenous. One of many sufferers, a former soldier named Yeong-Shin (Kim Sung-kyu), makes a meaty stew with the lifeless man’s physique and serves it to the unsuspecting sufferers, turning them into flesh-eating monsters. The exiled crown prince groups up with a nurse, Search engine marketing-bi (Bae Doo-na), and different survivors to beat again the encroaching zombie horde.
That is an costly sequence, with very good manufacturing values—a lot so, that finances overruns resulted in simply six S1 episodes. Maybe that is why the six episodes of S2 really feel extra like a pure continuation than an entire new storyline. Per the official S2 premise: “As winter approaches, the battle between the residing and the undead in Joseon is simply starting. The royal courtroom is teeming with snakes, the zombies are coming, and the crown prince has a nation to avoid wasting. The worst is but to come back, and everybody might want to select a aspect with out figuring out who they’ll actually belief.”
Once we final left Lee Chang and his band of survivors, they have been in deep peril, outnumbered as an enormous military of the ravenous undead superior. Queen Cho had seized the throne in Lee Chang’s absence, regardless of the last-minute reveal that she had secretly miscarried and was faking her continued being pregnant. S2 opens proper the place we left off.
As I famous in my S1 assessment, these zombies have extra in widespread with the monsters of World Struggle Z than basic Romero motion pictures: they flip quick, they usually transfer quick. The people have been capable of get some respite in S1, as a result of the zombies appeared to hate daylight and have been dormant throughout the day. However we rapidly study that with the approaching of winter, the zombies can now assault in daylight. So the state of affairs has gone from very, very dangerous to downright apocalyptic.
In the meantime, again on the royal enclave, the Cho clan has solidified its energy. And Queen Cho has basically imprisoned dozens of expectant moms, ready for one among them to offer start to a boy that she will then declare as her personal. (Be forewarned: horrible issues are achieved to new child feminine infants and their moms in S2. Kingdom has all the time had loads of gore, however this is likely to be a bridge too far for American tastes, particularly, to cross.)
Like all one of the best choices within the zombie style, Kingdom is about far more than endlessly battling hordes of the ravenous undead. Kim Eun-hee has stated her webcomic (and the sequence) was impressed by an account she learn within the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty—a medieval dynasty that lasted some 500 years (1392-1897)—about tons of of 1000’s of inexplicable deaths that had occurred. She determined to make a zombie assault the reason for these deaths, utilizing the outbreak as a method of exploring broader sociopolitical themes. The final populace suffers from starvation and illness as their oblivious leaders vie for political energy. It is just becoming, then, that the ravenous commoners develop into the zombie horde, whereas the starvation for energy of sure leaders leads to rash selections that would mark the top of the Joseon Dynasty fully.
Luckily, there are simply as many (if no more) folks capable of finding the higher angels of their nature and rise to the event. Search engine marketing-bi is a real heroine, selflessly placing herself in danger to study extra concerning the resurrection plant and hopefully discover a remedy. And Yeong-shin leads a daring mission to deliver meals to these ravenous beneath siege, through a sequence of tunnels—with a number of of their firm nobly giving their lives to make sure the mission succeeds. Selfless sacrifice for the larger good will be the solely means the zombies shall be defeated—and that is maybe a message all of us want to listen to proper now.
Kingdom is at the moment streaming on Netflix. It is best to view each seasons (12 episodes in all) again to again, for those who’re in a bingeing temper, since one flows so seamlessly into the opposite. The S2 finale wraps up many of the narrative threads, however there’s a set-up for a attainable third season, with a recent storyline. So we might be getting much more South Korean zombie goodness sooner or later.