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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