Netflix's The King: Eternal Monarch Has a Bit of Everything—And That's Why It Works
You could say that Netflix's The King: Eternal Monarch is overly ambitious since it taps into almost every genre possible. But seeing as this isn't the streaming service's first rodeo—Kingdom, and all—it's nothing the cast can't handle. And standards are definitely high.
The cast—Lee Min-ho (Lee Gon), Kim Go-eun (Jung Tae-eul/Luna), Woo Do-hwan (Jo Eun-seob/Jo Young), Kim Kyung-nam (Kang Shin-jae), Jung Eun-chae (Goo Seo-ryung)—juggles two parallel universes. Lee Min-ho plays the role of an emperor, while Kim Go-eun plays a detective and a criminal alternately.
The King has become one of the most awaited releases for fans since it is Lee Min-ho's comeback after a three-year acting hiatus. After playing more "boyish" roles in his early 20s, Lee Min-ho steps into a more grown-up figure with a great burden on his shoulders.
"I would say that if, I look at the work that I have done in my 20s, I think that the characters I played in a way sort of portray a boyish character—a coming of age story, portrayed by a boyish character. However, the role that I play in this project is a more mature adult," says Lee Min-ho.
This time around, Lee Min-ho had to think about the heavy weight that lies on the shoulders of an emperor—something he compares to having a following.
"Although it is a lot smaller, I do have similar experiences in that I debuted at a very young age," he says. "I think the more my fan base grew, so did the responsibility that laid on my shoulders so I think I can draw some similarities in that aspect with my character. In terms of the differences, of course, I relatively do have the privilege of leading a more free life, as well as being able to enjoy little things in my life, compared to my character."
It's also a homecoming of sorts with writer Kim-Eun-sook who Lee Min-ho previously worked with in The Heirs. And with The King, the two were able to communicate on a "more truer level." Actress Kim Go-eun also reunites with Kim-Eun-sook after working together in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.
"My character is a detective, which is a first time for me as an actress so I was really excited for that," Kim Go-eun says. "I would say that if I were to do this story who had to play a dual role that would have been a lot burdensome. But because a lot of the other actors also have to play a dual role, it was not as burdensome and I actually enjoyed doing that."
For her role, as the daughter of taekwondo studio owners, Kim Go-eun had to learn the Korean martial art. "I actually went to one that was in front of where I live and I actually took some classes with my manager as well," Kim Go-eun says.
The actress also approached her dual roles in a different way. "In the story, I appear at him for the most time as the character Tae-eul. And I had to really kind of newly meet the character Luna, which was a little bit more fun a little more challenging," she says.
The ambitious approach of a historical fantasy drama adventure works, to say the least, as the series plays out like an epic. The King: Eternal Monarch is on Netflix, with new episodes every Friday and Saturday.