Netflix’s original horror-thriller K-Drama Series Kingdom is set in the 16th century during the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 to 1897. The story of Kingdom revolves around the crown prince of the Joseon Dynasty, who uncovers the political conspiracy while dealing with the mysterious illness affecting his father, the King.
As the crown prince gets deeper into the truth behind the illness, he discovers the secret of the horrifying outbreak that threatened to bring down the entire dynasty.
Kingdom, written by Kim Eun-hee, known for her work in the K-drama Signal, and directed by Kim Seong-hun, features political intrigue with the zombie outbreak that spreads across the Kingdom, with the infected being bloodthirsty and hunting down the living.
Determined to find a cure and restore order in the Kingdom, Crown Prince Lee Chang is on a journey with his followers. The journey unfolds through treacherous territories, battles with the deadly zombies, and the pressure of unraveling the secrets of the zombie plaque.
1. The Hallyu star cast
The star cast of the Kingdom has all the Hallyu stars of the Korean industry. Ju Ji-hoon, a prominent Korean star in the K-drama industry since his debut in 2003, featured as the main lead along with Bae Doona, who appeared a second time on Netflix after her debut and became famous after her role as Seo-bi in the Kingdom. The main and supportive leads included Kim Sung-kyu, Jeon Seok-ho, and Ryu Seung-Yong.
2. A concept of zombies inspired by Chinese Jiangshi lore.
Kingdom presents a thriller story with the zombie apocalypse. In the drama, the villagers become bloodthirsty zombies after being infected with their brains. The nature of zombies in the Kingdom is taken from the Chinese Folklore Jiangshi.
The Chinese Jiangshi Lore is about the “hopping vampire” in Chinese legends and folklore. As the jiangshi, the vampire, is stated to rest during the daytime and come out of the coffin during the night, the same concept was adopted for the zombies in the Kingdom, which were not the characters of zombies as shown in the Western movies.
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3. The lead role was given to actor Song Joong-ki.
For the role of the main lead, The Crown Prince of Joseon, Lee Chang, actor Song Joong-ki was first approached for the role, but he declined, so the role was given to actor Ju Ji-hoon.
When the role of the crown prince in the Kingdom was given to actor Song Joong-ki, he was preparing for his wedding with actress Song Hye-Kyo, so he denied stating that he would be focussing on the wedding. Actor Song Joong-ki is known for his role in the K-drama Descendants of the Sun and Vincenzo.
4. Adapted from the webcomic
Netflix’s originals Kingdom is adapted from the webcomic written by Kim Eun-hee and illustrated by Yung Kyung-il, Kingdom of the God, published in 2014. The webcomic is a 4 volume series based on supernatural creatures and action in the Joseon dynasty.
. Though the series has been adapted from the webcomic, writer Kim Eun-hee stated that besides the basic concepts, the webcomic and the series don’t share any similarities.
5. Kingdom is set in the Joseon Period.
Kingdom presents a serene environment and captivating scenery of the Joseon dynasty bringing it back to like in the series. Each detail and element has been looked upon carefully while making the series.
The Kingdom is set in the 16th century, three years after the Imji War (the war held when the Japanese invaded Korea) in the Joseon period. Showing the culture, social aspects, and politics of the Joseon period Kingdom, it follows every detail of the period and the storyline of the zombie invasion.
6. Writer Kim Eun Hee researched the Joseon Period before making the series.
Writer Kim Eun-hee, known for her work in thriller dramas such as Signal, worked on the story of Kingdom precisely, stating that it is her best writing ever. When Kim Eun-hee imagined the resurrection plant for the Kingdom, she thought of the plant’s property as “cold.” With this, she gained interest in the four outposts of the northern territories of the Joseon, which were abandoned by the Seongjeoyains who lived there in 1459.
Kim Eun-hee envisioned the resurrection plant growing in a vast abandoned land with restricted access. To this end, she built the story limited to the four abandoned outposts and the segregated garrison forts established between the Amnok and Duman rivers for military administration.
7. The plant with cure and cause
No doubt the resurrection plant holds a major mystery in the series Kingdom as it has its importance and mysteries that develop around it. The resurrection plant is called and is a rare purple flower said to have the power to resurrect the dead, but there is more to it.
The resurrection plant, which was shown to have a dual nature, is both the cure for bringing the dead back to life and also has white eggs of worms that hatch when ingested and turn the man into a bloodthirsty zombie, which becomes the cause of the zombie outbreak in the story.
8. Mixture of Korean Sageuk and Zombie
Sageuk is the term in Korean for historical dramas, films, or television series. With a rich history of South Korea and a current interest in thriller and zombies, Kingdom is a series that brings both together, emulsifying the storyline.
The Kingdom is a mixture of the themes of Sageuk-Korean historical drama and the zombie outbreak. Writer Kim Eun-hee wanted to depict the political intrigue and the culture of the Sageuk, and to make it more compelling and unique; she added the zombie outbreak story in the Kingdom of Joseon.
9. How was the zombie outbreak caused?
No doubt, in each film or drama, the zombie outbreak is caused due to human interference and, in the least cases, is supernatural; the same goes in the Kingdom. Due to power greed, politics, and self-ego, the zombie outbreak was caused altered by human interference.
To bring the King back to life, people started researching and came across the resurrection plant. They made the King ingest it without knowing the facts behind the white eggs, and with that, the zombie outbreak started as the white eggs hatched and the worms infected the brain.
10. The Global Sucess and Season 2
With its unique blend of historical drama, zombie outbreak, and political intrigue, Kingdom made its fans loyal to the storyline worldwide and became a global success.
With the success and praise for the storyline, complex characters, and high production value, season 2 of Kingdom was built with more intense action, plot twists, and an expanded story towards the complexities of the Joseon Dynasty.
11. Gianna-Jun was excited about her role as Young-Shin.
Gianna Jun, in an interview, said she was excited to see the zombies and play along with them. She said when writer Kim Eun-hee approached her, she told her that she would love to be a zombie or could take a minor role too, but since she gave me the lead role of Ashin, Gianna was thankful.
Gianna added that for Ashin, she was ready in terms of physique and stamina, and the only thing she had to focus on was the emotion of “Han,” the anguish, the resentment, and the frustration of Ashin.
12. The meaning behind the released posters
The posters released for Kingdom have a meaning behind them, depicting the characters’ emotions. The poster showing the crown prince with a sword and the reflection of a zombie depicts the determination and struggle of the crown prince amidst the zombie outbreak.
The second poster, showing the blooming of the resurrection plant in the dark forest, depicts that there is still hope amidst the chaos caused by the zombie outbreak.
The third poster, showing the court members in the royal palace with the zombies coming towards them, shows the power intrigue in the series and how the royals fight for power amidst the zombie outbreak.
Each poster of the Kingdom shows the themes of perseverance, survival, and struggle.
13. The details of history
With the richness of the Politics of the Joseon dynasty, Kingdom is a power-pack not only in terms of the story of capturing the political intrigue but also the details, the law, and order followed in the Joseon Dynasty.
The Joseon Dynasty was a period in Korean history characterized by political intrigue, social upheaval, and economic growth. With meticulous attention to historical accuracy, the series portrayed the unique culture, customs, and social hierarchy during the Joseon period.
14. Praise for the cinematography and storyline
Kingdom, with each scene, develops a story that is completed by its visuals and cinematography, immersing the viewers in it. Not only Kingdom provides impressive visuals, but the visuals are in 4k HD quality.
With its compelling narrative and intriguing visuals, Kingdom received widespread praise for its stunning cinematography and storyline. The series has impressive attention to detail, bringing the historical period of the Joseon Dynasty to life, but it also stands out because of its well-developed and bold characters.
15. The strong female leads.
The strong female leads of the Kingdom bring in a competitive storyline. The Hallyu stars of the K-drama industry not only play the lead but also the complex and compelling characters give way in the series’ story.
Kingdom is praised for the strong female leads that defy the societal norms of the Joseon Dynasty. From the brave and fierce nurse Seo-bi, cunning Queen consort, to the cunning and determined warrior, Ashin showed herself as the sole survivor of her tribe and on the way to seeking vengeance. The on-screen portrayal of the female leads has inspired and caught the eye of viewers worldwide.
16. How Ashin-the-character was written
Ashin is introduced in the special episode of the Kingdom, “Kingdom: Ashin of the North.”Ashin is shown as a mysterious girl with a dark past and trauma whose story is interlinked to the main story of Kingdom, as Ashin was the one who knew everything about the resurrection plant and that it was the cause of the zombie outbreak.
The character of Ashin was developed when Kim Eun-hee was researching the northern territories of the Joseon Dynasty; Kim Eun-hee stated that she came across a group of marginalized people known as Songjeoyains,” meaning that they didn’t belong anywhere, and found that interesting because of Kim Eun-hee wrote the character of Ashin of the north and incorporated it into the story of “Kingdom.”
17. Criticized for its portrayal of Buddhism
Even though Kingdom gained global attention and was a huge success, it also gained criticism for portraying the Buddhist monks as power-hungry, corrupt, and zombies, which netizens believed was against the teachings of Buddhism. Also, the use of the Buddhist monasteries as a backdrop for violent and gore fights was criticized.
The show has been accused of perpetuating negative stereotypes about Buddhism also; some believe that in the Joseon dynasty, the era in which Kingdom is set, Buddhism was the major religion in Korea, and showing Buddhism in a negative light with monks as cowardly and not able to defend themself is not historically correct.
18. The Costumes of the Joseon Period
The details mattered for the Kingdom, which was set in the Joseon Dynasty. Even in women’s clothing, the ideology of neo-Confucianism was followed, which was adopted in the Joseon Dynasty. To follow that, the costumes were designed accordingly, and also the hairstyles were followed.
As you have seen in most Korean historical dramas, married women have a hairstyle with a hairpin, and the hair is rolled up in a bun, and for unmarried women, the hair is made in a braid with a ribbon on the end.
19. Kingdoms explore social inequality.
Highlighting the vast gap between the rich and the poor in the Joseon Dynasty, Kingdom explores the facts and issues of social inequality. With the zombie outbreak, the show highlighters how the outbreak inappropriately affects the marginalized group and how political power and social inequality perpetuated oppression.
The series depicts the struggle for survival and the hunger of the people living in the Kingdom dominated by the ruling class. With this portrayal, “Kingdom” shows the harsh realities of the people living in the Joseon period.
20. Netflix’s 1st original K-Drama
Kingdom is the first original K-drama on Netflix, released in 2019. With the huge success of Kingdom, Netflix produced various original K-dramas, including Vincenzo, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, and much more.
Kingdom, a Korean-thriller and historical drama, gained popularity domestically and internationally, too, being Netflix’s first original drama giving huge success.
21. The RPG of the Kingdom
The Korean developer and Netflix game announced that the series would get an action RPG named “Kingdom: The Blood” and made available for iOS, Android, and Windows.
The game will have multiplayer, PvP, boss battle, and conquest mode. The game is set in the same 16th-century Joseon era as the zombie outbreak. The game also gives the player the freedom to develop their character and delve into the world of the Kingdom.
22. The high-budget episodes
Kingdom’s show creators didn’t spare a signal penny while making the series. They created a great cinematic experience of the Joseon dynasty bringing it home to the viewers during the series. The high production value and the visual effects are a delight and a testament to the hard work of the creators of Kingdom.
The episodes of Kingdom with outstanding cinematography went over budget. As the series Kingdom was filmed, each episode cost more than $ 1.78 million, and due to this, the series, which was planned to have eight episodes in each season, was shortened to 6 episodes each season.
23. Irony lies behind Dongnae, where a zombie outbreak broke out.
Dongnae was the territory in the Joseon period, which is shown in the Kingdom as a small isolated, remote village that lies far from the center of the political intrigue and is overlooked by the elite rulers, where the first zombie outbreak broke out.
Dongnae and Busan (Credits: Netflix), The city of Dongnae, mentioned as where the zombie outbreak broke out in the Kingdom, is the last name of Busan in Korea. The irony is that, though Dongnae in the Kingdom is shown as the center of the zombie outbreak, Busan is the safest place in real life in Korea.
24. Accidents and deaths occurred there while filming the series.
Writer Kim Wun-hee and Director Kim Seung-hun presented a series whose story is to be praised and looked upon, but while making the series, they faced hardships and the loss of their crew members.
The director said that during the filming of Kingdom in 2018, one of the crew members in the art team died due to overwork. In 2019, there were recurring deaths on the set. Amid the filming of the second season, a staff member of the production team died in a car accident.
25. The deep thought behind the storytelling
For the unique and compelling storyline of the Kingdom, Eun-hee stated in an interview that the core of the series is politics. She said the political environment drives many decisions and leads to actions and that the pain that comes from the politics—the resentment—is what the message is in the series.
Furthermore, for the genres, Kim Eun-hee stated that if we focus on the elements of politics, then politics and the living dead are not separate. The concept of plague is nothing but a narrative that reflects the political corruption, greed, and injustice of the ruling class.”
26. The concept of Han
Han is a Korean term for deep-seated sorrow, resentment, and anguish. The theme of Han has been used in every episode of Kingdom to describe the feeling of the villagers being oppressed and mistreated by the ruling class.
Writer Kim Eun-hee stated that she wanted to write a story including the feeling of “Han.” Eun-hee added that in the starting episodes of Kingdom, the Han focused on the dominating power, such as Prince Chang and the established people. Still, after learning about the people of the northern part of Joseon, Eun-hee thought that the villagers or the people dominated by the ruling class would also have the feeling of Han.”
27. The Betrayer
Each drama has a hero and a villain; the same goes here. Kingdom, with its bold and well-developed characters, presents a deep understanding of the political intrigue of the Joseon dynasty, which presents a betrayer in the series who was behind the zombie outbreak in the Kingdom.
Now the betrayer, the main antagonist, and the mastermind behind the plot were Minister Cho Hak-ju, one of the most powerful political figures behind the zombie outbreak. Along with the Queen Consort, he seized power, hid the fact behind the King’s illness, and was behind the spread of the epidemic throughout the Kingdom, creating chaos.
28. The Awards and Mentioned in the New York Times
Kingdom has received a lot of love from its fans and has been nominated for awards since its release. With its unique story and visuals, the kingdom has been a drama of talks, leading to its being featured in various interviews, including interviews with Forbes,, and made into the New York Times.
With global success, Kingdom has been awarded the 2nd Asia Contents award for best actor, best writer, and the technical award for visual effects. Also, the New York Times mentioned the Kingdom as “the best international show of 2022,” which made the series a global hit.
29. The thought behind the story
Kingdom is undoubtedly a series with a well-developed storyline, but the storyline has a thought to it. Writer Kim Eun-hee in an interview, stated that through Kingdom, she wanted to depict various themes through narrative devices in the series.
Kim Eun-hee said that the theme behind the first season of Kingdom was “to tell the story about hunger.” For the story of season 2, Kingdom: Ashin of the North,” the theme was “to depict people who were mistreated by those in power and were struggling with starvation and poverty through the monsters.”
30. The seasons of kingdoms are connected.
With the series’ massive success with each season, Kingdom has a deep impact on the industry and its fans. But the seasons of Kingdom are not only a huge success but also a spinoff of each other.
The stories in the Kingdom are like linking bridges to each other. Writer Kim Eun-Hee said if the story of “The Kingdom” is the cornerstone for season 2, “Kingdom: Ashin of the North,” then season 2 is the stepping stone for the story in season 3.
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Kingdom is a series of breathtaking cinematography, stunning sets, and a unique viewing experience that combines historical drama, horror, and political intrigue. With a high production value, a talented star cast, a captivating storyline, and rich Korean history and culture, Kingdom is a powerhouse. Not only does it navigate through the intricate details and seriousness of politics, but it also deals with the horror and mysteries of zombies.