An Honest Review of ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’ (No Spoilers)

The King: Eternal Monarch, one of the most talked-about Korean dramas of the year, recently ended. However, I’m still experiencing a hangover from this romantic-fantasy drama, so I figured it’s time for an honest review.


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This is the first Korean drama that I actually watched from the premiere to the last episode because like other K-drama fanatics out there, I usually wait for the whole series to finish before watching it. This one was an exception, especially since it was Lee Min-ho’s first project after his military discharge. Kim Go-eun fans also have to admit that she needs to be back on screen after the success of her last acting project “Goblin” (Guardian: Lonely and Great God) four years ago. The pairing of these two Hallyu stars was a major turn-on and enticed many to watch it, heavily curious about how they would pull off their tandem.


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Another reason why almost everyone was lured to it is the writer of the project, Kim Eun-Sook, who is known to have brilliantly crafted many K-drama favorites, like ‘Descendants of the Sun’, ‘The Heirs’, and ‘Lovers in Paris’. As you probably already know, Lee Min-ho and Kim Go-eun have also worked with her on separate projects in the past.

Despite being highly-publicized, though, the drama still got low ratings in Korea. Still, I continued watching it because I missed seeing Lee Min-ho on screen and I wanted to know how the story would unfold.

The plot is literally and figuratively out of this world. It follows the story of an emperor in a fictional kingdom who discovers another universe where he meets the person he has been searching for since he was young. Although the parallel universe setting wasn’t a new concept, I was still excited to see how Kim Eun-sook would put flair into it. I was not disappointed because as the story progressed, I knew I hadn’t seen anything of its kind before.

Every episode is intriguing and it kept me thinking. I had to discuss it with a friend every weekend, so we could share our theories with one another and clarify scenes that we didn’t really understand. While this might be a turn-off to some, I realized that this is the very charm of the drama. You’ll keep guessing about what’s going to happen next; and the next thing you know, it has become your weekend habit.

I have to agree that the plot is complicated, but the details were obviously well-researched. The cinematography is what I liked the most, though. I found myself amused by many scenes. Considering the fact that Korean masterpieces are beginning to make their mark in the international scene, I am totally convinced that the trajectory of the production quality in Korea will only go up. That includes this drama; it looks so expensive. 

Like any other K-drama, I have to admit that this one had its flaws, and a lot of viewers will be able to easily point them out. Many have commented that almost all of the product inserts were awkward and forced. It also took several episodes for the two leads’ chemistry grew on me. There was a big reason for that, though, which will all make sense in the last episode.


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There are also some scenes that I felt were unnecessary and didn’t really contribute much to the story’s development. I can’t help but think that there were many details that could’ve been put to better use to make the story more impressive, as well. Also, because the two universes had character counterparts, it could get really confusing. It also rarely showed flashbacks, so I had to do Internet searches and rewatch episodes to remember certain characters and their roles. This may be an issue for some because the drama has a lot of characters in it.

It’s not surprising that the cast is great in what they do. Lee Min-ho’s portrayal of King Lee Gon/Lee Ji-hun suits him very well and he proves that his name comes with an expected powerful performance every time. On top of that, he is still one of our favorite oppas as seen in our reactions to those heart-fluttering moments and emotional scenes with his leading lady. Kim Go-eun, on the other hand, never disappoints as an actress. Here, she plays the detective Jeong Tae-eul/Luna. She’s faithful to her characters and with this project, her versatility was put into the spotlight once again. 


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Award-winning actor Lee Jung-jin, who plays the main antagonist, has been in the industry for a long time now. It’s no wonder that he can make you pissed off just by smirking. However, I find his character too weak for the villain in this story. I also found myself hating the persona of Jung Eun-chae, who plays the female antagonist. Kim Kyung-nam is also a great addition to the cast and plays a very relatable character.


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Aside from the two leads, the superstar and the ultimate charmer of this drama is none other than Woo Do-hwan with his amazing performance. He’s definitely a scene-stealer and anyone will agree that you could instantly fall in love with his characters. He’s someone you’ll surely miss when the show ends – next to the beautiful white Royal Horse Maximus.

If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s worth mentioning that you will probably have a lot of questions after each episode; but don’t fret! Everything will slowly make sense as the story reaches the end. I actually love that it keeps you hanging for a reason. You just have to be patient and enjoy those moments of uncertainty.

Overall, I enjoyed ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’. I was moved by the lessons in life and in love that came with it. It’s definitely worth watching, especially if you’re watching all of Lee Min-ho or Kim Go-eun’s projects, and also if you are into science fiction. I can assure you that every viewer will get a well-deserved ending, whatever kind you are preparing for.

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