The King: Eternal Monarch Korean Drama Review

The King: Eternal Monarch is about parallel worlds with one being the Empire of Korea and the other the Republic of Korea. The emperor (Lee Min Ho) of the Korean Empire teams up with a detective (Kim Go Eun) from the Republic of Korea to try and stop an evil man from gaining control of the kingdom and causing havoc in both worlds.

Lee Min Ho plays the emperor of Korea, Lee Gon. He was thrust into power when he was a child after his father was murdered during an attempted coup. Those events have haunted him as well as piqued his curiosity surrounding a mysterious person who saved him during that time.

Kim Go Eun is Jang Tae Eul who is a detective. Her reality gets shaken up when Lee Gon suddenly appears and she discovers he’s from a parallel world. As she works to help him stop a traitor from his world, she begins to fall in love.

Next is Woo Do Hwan in dual roles as Jo Young, the stoic right hand man and close friend of the king as well as the good-natured Jo Eun Sub in the Republic of Korea.

Then there is Kang Shin Jae (Kim Kyung Nam) as a conflicted man who works with Tae Eul. Next up we have Yi Rim (Lee Jung Jin), the man from the Korean Empire who attempted the coup and still seeks to gain power by traveling between the worlds.

Goo Seo Ryung (Jung Eung Chae) is the Prime Minister in the Korean Empire. Finally, Head Court Lady Noh Ok Nam (Kim Young Ok) is always looking out for Lee Gon and has his best interests at heart. And I love this talented lady so much! This was a fantastic role for her.

The latest drama from hit writer Kim Eun Sook is The King: Eternal Monarch. As usual, there was a lot of anticipation for this one. I usually fare well with her dramas, and luckily, that was the case here.

The opening episode was strong with a good hook as we were introduced to the back story that sets everything in motion. The next few episodes move into more set up as we learn an interesting story of parallel worlds with one being the Korean Empire and the other the Republic of Korea. A bit of a mystery and a struggle for power is also introduced.

Then there’s the romance. Of course, love between worlds has the makings of a grand story. Lee Gon and Jang Tae Eul have a fun banter in the beginning that nicely progresses into a very dedicated and powerful relationship.

Lee Gon is very regal with a matter-of-fact type personality. He’s kind but blunt and doesn’t hesitate to say what’s on his mind. I found this to me a mix of charming and bland. I definitely liked it when he relaxed a bit more and had fun. He never becomes super engaging, but I liked him more as the drama progressed because of how much he had to overcome and what a honorable and dedicated man he was.

Jang Tae Eul is also very straight forward. She’s a solid character with a bit of roughness around the edges. I enjoyed seeing her soften some as she grew closer to Lee Gon while also maintaining her strength and never-give-up attitude.

Their personalities actually makes their relationship grow more easily. Honesty will do that for you. There are plenty of little sweet moments between them too. Most of the big romance comes later from all of the dramatic events that get in their way as well as grand reunions between the pair.

This duo has to face some epic challenges in their relationship. They have to protect their worlds, their loved ones, and themselves. It’s hard to balance everything out, and much heartbreak befalls this couple. Their love is strong though, and it carries them through an incredibly difficult journey.

We also get a bit of a bromance here between Lee Gon and his right hand man Jo Young. Gon was more playful while Young was completely serious. It made their relationship fun to see. These two also completely trusted each other which was a great thing.

And be prepared for a serious villain here with Yi Rim (Lee Jung Jin). There’s not much to him other than the fact that we wants the throne, and he will stop at nothing to get it. He mostly works behind the scenes moving the pieces of his plans into place and appearing at key moments. He’s not the most thrilling of villains, but he does his thing and causes plenty of trouble for everyone.

There are a few things to be aware of concerning this drama. First, it really takes some paying attention to catch everything. Some parts of the story were a bit confusing because of how the information was presented. There are several times you may be left feeling a bit perplexed as to exactly why things happened a certain way.

This drama also has plot loopholes galore. Mixing in parallel worlds and time travel just opens things up for all sorts of problems. I think the show tried to do a bit too much as a whole. There were so many characters and plot lines mixed in with some iffy rules as to how the worlds worked. The story is grand, but in a very messy sort of way. I think this is definitely a case that you just have to role with it or you may end up very frustrated with how things play out.

I most enjoyed the latter third of the drama where everything really ramps up. The stakes become even higher with Lee Gon and Jang Tae Eul trying to save their worlds and constantly having to avoid death. It gets quite dramatic in a fun way. I’m all for epic goodness, so it was just my kind of thing!

So in the end, I had the exact same experience I do with all of Kim Eun Sook’s dramas. I always love the grand plots and world building with interesting stories to explore. I tend to find the humor on the dry side which is not my favorite, and the characters are very matter-of-fact at times. The finer details are a little rocky too.

The grand stories and high stakes romances tend to outweigh those things for me though. So with an interesting story, a big romance, a good writer, and solid production, The King: Eternal Monarch was a very entertaining watch.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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About Kay

Greetings! I’m Kay, creator and author of Kdrama Kisses. Kdrama Kisses is dedicated to bringing you the latest in kdrama casting news, drama trailers, reviews, and more. Happy drama watching to everyone!
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21 Responses to The King: Eternal Monarch Korean Drama Review

  1. kissingsun says:

    To be brutally honest I lost interest in the main couple fairly early on but kept on watching for Woo Do Hwan. IMO he stole the show, absolutely brilliant in both his roles. I just felt something was lacking, maybe it was the plot holes I dont know. Definitely not going to be a rewatch for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kay says:

      You’re not alone as I’ve seen a lot of people had a similar experience to you with the romance. This drama definitely has a lot lacking, including lots of plot holes. Luckily, a lot of the other elements worked for me to make up for that. Hope you have better luck with your next drama 🙂

      Like

  2. Snow Flower says:

    To me this drama was like many beautiful pieces of a puzzle that did not click quite right. Watching it was still an enjoyable experience. I think that a rewatch may help clarify some details, but I also think it may reveal more plot holes. My favorite characters were Shin Jae and Court Lady Noh. Woo Do Hwan in a dual role was also a treat!
    I liked this drama better than Goblin, but I think it never reached the glory of Mr. Sunshine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      That’s a really good way to describe this drama. All of the pieces were definitely there, but they didn’t quite fit together. Like you, I still enjoyed it despite that though. And I absolutely loved Court Lady Noh! She was my favorite character, and I loved every time she was on screen 🙂

      And by the way, looks like Woo Do Hwan’s enlistment has been just confirmed, and he will be going in early July. So no new dramas from him for awhile 😦

      Like

  3. Snow Flower says:

    Well, looks like both Yang Se Jong and Woo Do Hwan will be out of dramaland for a while. On the upside, Kim Soo Hyun is back!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kate says:

    I enjoyed this one but always find time travel confusing and this was no different. The cast was so good and the grand story was interesting but like you said, it seemed to be trying to do too much in the time allotted. Might have been better to have a few more episodes to flesh out some of the stories and give the characters some more depth. The villain was particularly one dimensional and I could have used some more of the twins hassling Jo Young 🙂 The leads were good but lacked some intangible something to make this work like it did in Goblin. All in all I enjoyed LMH’s return to dramaland and look forward to his next project!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      You summed up the drama well Kate 🙂 They definitely tried to do too much and could have used fewer stories/characters or more episodes to flesh things out. The villain was also particularly uninteresting in this drama. Despite the shortcomings, I did really enjoy seeing Lee Min Ho back in a nice romance that had a grand story that was mostly engaging. I’m excited to see what he does next too 🙂

      Like

  5. Fred says:

    I knew you would give it a low rating. But I still hoped that would not be the case. I was hoping this would be a drama I can watch. Oh well. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Haha, well, 7.5 isn’t really low. Just a nice, enjoyable drama. But I know you were hoping more for the epic, amazing kind of drama with the really high rating. It’s definitely a bit different from what’s out there though, which is a plus, but your mileage may vary as to just how much you would like it, hehe 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. D says:

    Hi Kay – thanks for the review. I was reluctant to start this one and was literally waiting for your review. I have never been a fan of this writer’s dramas such as Mr Sunshine and Goblin. But after reading your review though, I’m intrigued and so I will pick it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      You’re very welcome 🙂 Well, this drama definitely has a lot of similarities in style and structure to Kim Eun Sook’s other dramas. It’s the stories themselves that I usually find unique. So maybe if the story itself interests you, that may be enough to make up for what you disliked about her other dramas. If anything this is the kind of drama that leaves plenty talk about whether one likes it not, lol. Best of luck with it! 🙂

      Like

  7. Pingback: Korean Drama Update for June 2020 | Kdrama Kisses

  8. Fred says:

    RANT WITH SPOILERS. Read at your own peril.

    Hehehe. Hi, Kay. I remember the first time I commented here in kdramakisses was when I was so pissed with Goblin. So first of all, I will say that Goblin was WAY BETTER than this. So imagine how disappointed I am with this. I think I just confirmed that Kim Eun-suk dramas are not my thing. Goblin: disappointed at the potential vis-a-vis the actual drama. DOTS: dropped around episode 7. Mr. Sunshine: so-so. The King: would have dropped at episode 2. I only decided to finish this because I was a bit bored and knew that I had nothing else to watch.

    This drama is so bad I have already forgotten about this. So here are the problems as far as I can remember. No real character development, no romance build-up, no build-up of events leading to important decisions, no “world sense”, no thrill, no serious roadblocks, no resistance from characters, a lot of unnecessary events, no amazing characters, and just like you mentioned LOOPHOLES GALORE.

    I will try to explain each one. Honestly, you can skip this part. I am just so disappointed with this drama that I have to write these. LOL.

    1. NO REAL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
    – Mr. King for example never really developed other than the fact that he now eats non-King food. He is pretty much the same the whole drama. Same with Ms. Detective, Mr. Traitor, Mr. Loyal Bodyguard (at least he now is less stiff) and Mr. Won’t-Get-The-Girl.

    2. NO ROMANCE BUILD-UP
    – They just all of a sudden start kissing. Huh? You are now lovebirds? Since when? 20 minutes ago Ms. Detective was not even interested with Mr. King.

    3. NO BUILD-UP OF EVENTS LEADING TO IMPORTANT DECISIONS
    – I can’t seem to remember an example of this. But the point is they just start doing stuff that does not necessarily make sense both for the storyline or the character.

    4. NO “WORLD SENSE”
    – In creating a sci-fi (or is this fiction?) world, the writer can’t just keep adding “world rules”. The whole world she created must make sense. One very blatant rule she broke is the part where Mr. King kept traveling inside the gate when the Power Stick already disappeared. Huh? He needs the Power Stick to go in and out of the gate. So now he can just do it whenever he likes to? Since when? And he can’t use the other half of the Power Stick because it has the blood of Mr. Traitor??? Okay???

    5. NO THRILL
    – This is the complete opposite of “always being on the edge of your seat”. You are just waiting for when Mr. King and Mr. Traitor will fight it out so this whole thing will be over. Just get it over with please!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fred says:

      Why did this get sent already? I haven’t finished ranting. My Mac has a problem. LOL.

      I guess it’s a sign for me to end this rant.

      Biggest loophole of all: HIS FUTURE SELF WENT BACK TO SAVE HIS PAST SELF

      How in the world can he save his past self? If his past self was shot, then there is no future self. How can he save himself when his future self does not exist?

      I was contemplating on whether I will write a very long essay or just write a maximum of 2 paragraphs. Now my comment is so broken. I’ll just end it here. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kay says:

        Wow, Fred! You did have bad time with this one! I’m surprised you stuck with it, lol. People do tend to be very divided on how they do with Kim Eun Sook dramas, and it does sound like her style may not be a great fit for you considering your track record with her.

        Yep, this is a very messy drama with loopholes all over the place. And if you didn’t enjoy the other aspects of the drama, that would definitely make this a hard watch. For me, this is the kind of show that I realized early on that I kind of just had to take it as it as roll with it. I actually agree with many of your negatives but I think I was able to just look over them in this case. I think it’s a requirement for enjoying this kind of drama, hehe 😂 We really need to get you an amazing drama for next time around!

        It’s funny that you mention the classic time travel loophole of a future self saving a past self. It’s been used throughout stories so much because of how much a romantic and thought provoking idea it is along with some big stakes. I always think of one of the most notable instances being in the movie Terminator (spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen it). John Connor basically sends his own father back in time to protect his child self so that he can eventually lead the resistance. But how was he born the first time around if he hadn’t been able to send his father back yet? It’s the classic conundrum of that plot device. It sure is a fun one though if you can overlook the logistical issues 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fred says:

          Fortunately/unfortunately Kay, I haven’t seen – or just don’t remember watching – Terminator. I grew up with older sisters. They/we used to watch Princess Diaries and other Lindsay Lohan movies. That’s what I remember. No Terminator nor Lord of the Rings. They were not fans. LOL.

          I did get to watch an amazing drama after this. I watched Triad Princess. It’s a Taiwanese Netflix Series. Amazing! I loved it! Unfortunately, I was not aware that there is supposed to be a Season 2. I should have done more research. The Season 1 ending had a cliffhanger. But it was still amazing. At least a 9 or a 10. Just my type of drama. I recommend you watch it – after Season 2 ends of course.

          So I just broke 2 rules: (1) Do not watch a Netflix Series and (2) Do not watch a Kim Eun-suk drama. LOL. I just hope I get lucky with Her Private Life since you gave it an 8.5.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Kay says:

            Ah, I put that in the unfortunately category I think! lol It’s a lot more violent than I like, but it’s definitely a classic. Extremely well done movie in the action/sci-fi genre. It definitely has some of those time travel issues though, hehe I actually saw Terminator 2 first when I was quite young, completely unaware it was a sequel. I loved it (and was scared of it! lol) and eventually watched the first one 🙂 Aside from the time travel, movies like that are not my usual cup to tea.

            Yay! I’m so glad you were at least able to follow it up with a great drama 🙂 I’ll have to add that one to my list. You do gotta watch those cdramas and twdramas though. They do love those cliffhanger endings!

            Oh, so you’re going for Her Private Life? I’ll be curious to see what you think of it. I think a lot of enjoying that one comes down to how much you like the main couple. They have great chemistry and are the main reason to watch. I enjoyed everything else too, but fan reaction was bit more mixed concerning other elements. Good luck with it!

            Liked by 1 person

  9. MyKDramaticLife says:

    Finally I am able to share my thoughts to you for this drama.

    *The King: Eternal Monarch

    The King: Eternal Monarch follows the story of Lee Gon, a modern-day Emperor of the Kingdom of Corea, who discovered the existence of a parallel world where Republic of Korea existed instead, through the use of half of the flute called Manpasikjeok. He came across with Detective Jeong Tae Eul whom he recognized because of a mysterious ID card he obtained during his childhood. Through crossing the other universe, he also found out that traitor Lee Lim, his half-uncle, who assassinated his father King, is still alive and is spreading evil by traversing between two worlds, using the other half of Manpasikjeok.
    Now, talk about a makjang fantasy! The writer of this drama once again gave us an incredible and well-written romance fantasy. And to be honest, when I first heard that Kim Go Eun and Lee Min Ho with Kim Eun Seok (this drama’s Author, who also wrote the successful dramas, Goblin and Mr. Sunshine) would be collaborating in one drama, I was more than excited for it! But when it started airing, and hearing very mixed feedbacks from the viewers of this show, made me a little skeptical to begin it. Plus the buzzes from its viewers of how it is very confusing and very hard to understand, made me even more skeptical to it. I wanted it to finish all its episodes so I could binge-watch it. I don’t really mind the controversies the show was facing that time though.
    So let’s talk more of the show before concluding my verdict.
    The King is an all-star series with so many great actors collaborated to create such piece. Lee Min Ho (as Lee Gon), in his comeback drama after 3 long years, successfully quenched the thirsts of his fandom. With his ideal, brave and romantic character as Lee Gon, it definitely brought out the girlishness and gayness of his fans. Now my subjective feelings though towards his performance as Lee Gon lies more on the ‘okay’ category. While yes, he definitely gave justice to the character, and lived up the eternity of Lee Gon, I quite don’t like Lee Gon. I don’t exactly know how to point it out. His unemotional and almost-robotic portrayal of the character (or maybe that’s the nature of his character) did not click on me. Nevertheless, I just liked my Lee Min Ho ❤ so it was fairly forgivable.
    Second, we have Kim Go Eun as Jeong Tae Eul, of the Republic of Korea (or Luna, in the Kingdom of Corea). I liked Kim Go Eun in Goblin, so I am sure she could nail another phenomenal character in the Dramaland. And I was right! Maybe not phenomenally, but I could easily remember Jeong Tae Eul as a good character. She felt natural and very distinct in both her characters as Tae Eul (in Republic of Korea) and Luna (Kingdom of Corea). However, although she looked cute together with Lee Min Ho, and they have enough onscreen chemistry, I didn’t see sparks. That even to their kissing scenes, and that Gon-kissing-neck-of-Tae Eul scene, I didn’t feel anything at all. It should have been very sexy and romantic, but gosh! I could feel nothing. HAHA. (Haha, I am sorry if I could offend the fans of this couple, but 'twas my personal feelings towards this pairing though. Haha. They are dating in real life though! That means, Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun see some sparks between themselves off-screen, that not all see on-air. And that’s what matters most. )
    The King is also packed with many memorable characters brought to life by great actors. We have Jung Eun Chae as Kingdom of Corea’s Prime Minister. This actress is really good. I’ve only seen her in Return before, and I can only tell positive things of this actress. She’s versatile! Kim Kyung Nam is also great as Kang Shin Jae. I am always apple-eyed to Kyung Nam. He’s just so damn hot! And I am very excited for this actor’s next project, and hopefully he’ll get the girl next time. And my most favorite is Woo Do Hwan. I didn’t get it before why many fans were so obsessed with Woo Do Hwan until I see him in this drama. Oww.. That was it! Woo Do Hwan really did a fantastic and unforgettable performance as the short-spoken, serious Jo Yeong (Chief Royal Guard and friend of Lee Gon) and the cheerful and talkative Jo Eun Seop (Jeong Tae Eul’s friend). He nailed both characters. And watching him in two personas almost felt like I was watching two different actors. Just wow. Very great performance!
    The concept of its parallel world was also amazing. If you could pay full attention to every single detail of the show, you might not miss any important clues. My bad though, because I wasn’t that invested to all of its happenings, I felt very confused and left questionable many times. The fact that I was not able to sink in all scenes and plots and twists of the show probably because of my lack of interest in it. Yes, it was undeniably good, but something about the flow is making me bored sometimes. So many characters (in both worlds) and every character has his own story to tell, and it was behind fast-paced, that it sometimes almost made me forget what happened the previous episode. Hahaha exaggerated! But yes, I did have those kinds of experience while watching it. The drama also kept on delaying the important scenes. (SPOILER ALERT!) Say for example at the previous episode, Jeong Tae Eul woke up, shockingly and fearfully found out she’s at Kingdom of Corea without her knowledge. Lee Gon saved her like her knight. End of the episode. Then in the next episode, it took at least 20 minutes to show us the continuation of that thrilling and heart-wrenching scene. They inserted prerequisite scenes before they showed it to us. It’s making the show more confusing. My own experience was that, instead of feeling thrilled, I was left uninterested anymore (in that supposed to be blockbuster scene) because I felt like the show made me wait for another twenty minutes and I somehow lost my patience. Hahaha.
    I won’t be talking more of the remaining casts, because this review is getting awfully long. 😀 Just so you know that everyone, every actor did great job in portraying their characters. My favorites were Lee Jung Jin as Lee Lim, and Kim Young Ok as Head Court Lady Noh Ok Nam, and Seo Jung Yeon as Lee Ji Hun’s (Lee Gon’s counterpart) mother.
    So that was my The King experiences. Despite my own shortcomings towards my overall watch, if you could actually brought out all the logic and the science behind the writing, then you would probably feel amazed by it. It was well-written, and the tying of the plots is very creative and inventive and intelligent. (Thanks to its amazing writer!) Our main leads, Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun, and the rest of the ‘eternal’ casts, didn’t disappoint us in their all-out performances.

    OVERALL RATING: 7/10

    Like

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