First Impressions: 6 Reasons That Make The Premiere Of

The highly anticipated “The King: Eternal Monarch” has finally graced our screens y’all! There’s so much hype surrounding this project and for good reason: This drama is Lee Min Ho’s first project since finishing his military service; it’s Kim Go Eun’s first since “Goblin” (she’s been doing movies); and it’s also from ratings-guaranteed scribe Kim Eun Sook (“Mr. Sunshine,” “Descendants of the Sun,” “Secret Garden,” etc). For this project, Kim Eun Sook reunites with her “Heirs” male lead and her “Goblin” female lead, and with this trifecta, this drama was bound to draw in the eyeballs.

And it does exactly that. The premiere of “The King: Eternal Monarch” set a new ratings best for SBS’s Friday-Saturday time slot and ratings for the following night rose even further. Unless the storyline suddenly goes haywire and falls into a makjang ditch, there’s no reason these ratings won’t continue to grow. So what exactly is it about this drama that is resonating so well with everyone? Well, here are some of the reasons that made the premiere so darn enjoyable.

Warning: Spoilers for episodes 1-4 ahead.

The mythically intriguing storyline

The story (literally) starts with an introduction to a mystical, powerful bamboo flute, one that was given to King Singmun by the Dragon King of the East Sea. It all sounds like a myth, but lo and behold, this flute is very real and is an important artifact that has great affect on our characters and their worlds. Yes, you read that right. Worlds. As in two.

That symmetrical reflection, so beautiful and so indicative of what’s to come. *chef’s kiss*

In one of the worlds, we have The Kingdom of Corea, which is a constitutional monarchy and is ruled by the sitting King; whereas the other world is basically modern day Republic of Korea. The two worlds’ history diverged at one point (one king died at an early age, the other grew into adulthood), and thus the very different outcome. These two parallel worlds also have doppelgangers of each other, and as we’ve learned, even familial structures can be the same. However, the fates of these doppelgangers on either sides are greatly different, and it’ll be fun to learn how our characters are doing in each world.

Now, while these two worlds are parallel and separate, there’s a way for the people on each side to crossover to the other, with the help of the mystical bamboo flute. And when young Lee Gon sliced the bamboo flute into two pieces 25 years ago while trying to avenge his father’s (the then-reigning King Lee Ho) death, there are now two people who have access to the powers of the flute — current King Lee Gon (Lee Min Ho), and treasonous murderer Lee Lim (King Lee Ho’s half-brother, played by Lee Jung Jin) — and both have discovered the secret portal that takes them to Republic of Korea.

As for what led these two men to discover this dimensional crack? For Lee Lim, he was trying to escape the Royal Guards after his attempted coup and happens to come across the bamboo field with mystical pillars. Seeing the portal opening, he takes the chance and escapes through it.

As for Lee Gon, he’s trying to track down his “Mad Hatter” when he comes across the same bamboo field. 25 years ago, during the night of the assassination, a person in a black hoodie sweeps in with a gun and lays waste to Lee Lim’s men, which inadvertently also saves Lee Gon from further danger. He grabs on to the mysterious person and happens to snatch their lanyard — one that identifies Lieutenant Jung Tae Eul (Kim Go Eun). Since then, he’s been trying to track his savior down.

Though, the ID cards are different. The one of the left is the one Lee Gon grabbed in Corea, and the one on the right is the one Korea-Tae Eul currently owns. Hmm…

There’s a lot of things going on in the first few episodes, and a lot of information is given to us, but the mythology holds strong enough that the story just flows smoothly from one exposition to another. There’s a feeling of epicness to the larger storyline, so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us down the road!

All the good-looking men

Now, not to say that the women aren’t gorgeous, because they are, but have you seen the men? In all honestly, this article was almost titled, “‘The King: Eternal Monarch’ has intrigue, beauty, and many, many hot men.”

Exhibit 1:

Exhibit 2:

Spoiler alert: This little pouting cutiepie grows up to be…. 

That little eyebrow twitch is so sexy! 

Exhibit 3:

Kim Kyung Nam plays Kang Shin Jae, the cute cop smitten with Tae Eul. 

The prosecution rests. (Oops, wrong genre).

The says-it-as-it-is Lee Gon

Lee Gon is undeniably a charming character. Why, you could even call him Prince Charming.

He’s literally riding a white horse here. 

He’s intelligent, persistent, thirsts for knowledge, and both young versions of him (Korea-version is called Ji Hun) are brave and aren’t afraid to confront the horrible Lee Lim. And on top of those great qualities, the most lovable thing about him is the way he just has to say what’s on his mind. He can pause his lecture about science and maths and parallel universes just to insist to Tae Eul that he most certainly has charming eyes.

He’s also very straightforward about his intentions with Tae Eul. Swoon-alert in 3…2…1:

Lee Min Ho does both the swoony and straight-faced humor well, and I’m glad we get to see him shine here too. He literally exudes charm, that even when Lee Gon is in an awkward situation, you can only go “Awwww… why’s he so adorable…” And that, my friends, is the power of Lee Min Ho.

Aww, he’s so smol.

The Lieutenant with many charms

With such a magnetic King/male lead, we’d naturally need a Queen/female lead that is just as interesting and complex. And we definitely have that in Lieutenant Jung Tae Eul. She lives in the Republic of Korea and works in the Violent Crimes Division. She has quite the personality and while not the leader of the team, she appears to have conditioned the men into going along her tangential whims.

She’s also self-assured enough even when taking good-natured ribbings from her team members, and has an excellent round house kick.

But the moment that really made me fall in love with this character was witnessing her unashamed-ness during that Taekwando scene, which happens during her high school years. Basically, her dad’s Taekwando school has trouble recruiting new students, so Tae Eul decides to use her God-given assets to her advantage. She sits by the window in her Taekwondo uniform with her long, black hair cascading down, while reading a book in the most elegant way possible. It’s hilarious to watch her put on this show, but her tactics work, and a mesmerized boy walks into the school.

Awww… Tae Eul accidentally flirts her way into Shin Jae’s heart! 

The bromance

One of the highlights during the premiere episodes is the relationship between Lee Gon and Jo Young/Jo Eun Seob. There’s a lot of straight-faced humor in their relationship, especially with the Lee Gon-Jo Young pairing. Jo Young (from Kingdom of Corea) is the Captain of the Royal Guards and a subordinate to King Lee Gon. But, as they’ve known each other for 25 years, their relationship is more than just that of a superior-subordinate. In fact, Jo Young so often matter-of-factly ridicules Lee Gon and even goes so far as to ignore him just because he wants to.

However, all this teasing and eye-rolling is built on a strong brotherhood. Since a fateful day 25 years ago, they’ve been each others’ support, and this brotherhood is one that can be depended on even in times of peril.

In fact, this bromance is apparently written in the stars, because when Lee Gon portals to the Republic of Korea, he also meets Jo Eun Seob. And thanks to Lee Gon’s unwavering persistence, the two strike up an unlikely friendship. Eun Seob takes Lee Gon shopping, takes him out for meals, (unknowingly) tastes his food for him (for, you know, poison), and even readily dishes out information about Tae Eul.

Let’s just say Jo Eun Seob is very, very different from Jo Young. LOL.

Also, can I just say how much I hate Woo Do Hwan’s Eun Seob-wig here? C’mon wardrobe department!

All the humor

As mentioned previously, there’s a feeling of epicness to this drama thanks to the mythical storyline, the sweeping music, and the beautiful cinematography. And that’s great and all, but it’s also the little dashes of humor that really add layers to the drama.

There’s the witty lines…

Just when you thought there was something important about the date of issue….

and the visual humor….

There’s something ridiculously funny about that toy sword in such a traditional setting. 

As is a horse strolling through a city. 

…and sometimes, it’s just allowing a scene to breathe. A little pause can land big punch(line).

“You just made it really awkward.” Ha! 

All in all, “The King: Eternal Monarch” hits all the right notes with a fantastical storyline, great characters, fun relationships, and with a promise of so much more to come! Be sure to not miss out!

Have you caught the premiere of “The King: Eternal Monarch”? How did you find it? Which world would you rather live in? Hit the comments below and let us know!

Currently watching: “Memorist,” “Eccentric! Chef Moon” and “The King: Eternal Monarch”
All-time favorite: “Kill Me Heal Me,” “Defendant,” “Hotel Del Luna
Looking forward to:  Any recommendations?

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