The King Eternal Monarch Finale Recap & Analysis


Although I’ve already written a review, this finale deserves more detailed treatment, so let’s dive in deep to see how it all finally comes together. This entry takes us through the entire episode, with analysis shared throughout. Please feel free to also offer your own theories and explanations in the comments!

We start off the episode with Luna, messaging Tae-Eul’s father that she will be home late as she has a stake-out. His support, concern and love is evident through the messages. This is the last scene we see of Luna in the current timeline and it is a bittersweet closure for her – because of Tae-Eul’s mission for her to care for her dad, Luna finally has a family and someone who cares for her, yet she’s not fully ready to embrace it. She will carry out her task to watch over Tae-Eul’s dad, but from afar, from a distance.

Shijae sits by himself, heart-broken as Tae-eul has decided to take Lee Lim through the portal even after his confession of love. He recalls all the wonderful memories he has of Tae-Eul.

Tae-Eul holds a gun to Lee Lim’s head. She looks back on her world as she hears the rustling of leaves in the bamboo forest, and then she tells Lee Lim to walk and they both enter the portal together. This is Tae-Eul deciding to be brave – it would be easier for her to wait in Korea for Lee Gon’s return. However, she decides to act, and be brave.

Back in Corea in 1994, on the night of the treason, Yeong twists the neck of Lee Gon’s traitor uncle. Lee Gon instructs him to stay at the gate to stop the traitors who will be arriving in 20 minutes. However, Yeong tells him he cannot let Lee Gon go to Cheonjongo alone. Even though this is Lee Gon’s last order to him, Yeong tells him that he must go to Cheongjongo – because it is his last chance to protect his king.

I hoped everything would unfold exactly the same as it did that night,” Lee Gon voices over, “At what point did things start to change?” Beautiful occasions are always simple. Tonight I’m not alone, we just haven’t reached our destination yet”. He places the four tiger sword at the gate, then runs into Cheongjongo with gun in his hand.

This third return to Corea in 1994 is different in so many ways. Firstly, Lee Gon is no longer hiding his identity. He is proudly wearing his royal garb. Secondly, the four tiger sword is with him, a symbol of him embracing fully his destiny. Lastly, and most importantly, he is not alone – Yeong is beside him, and Tae-Eul is partnering him to hold Lee Lim hostage. All three of them – Lee Gon, Yeong and Tae-Eul – are embracing their fate bravely.

In the portal, Tae-Eul continues to point the gun at Lee Lim. She takes his half of the flute from him. She plans to wait here in the portal, until Lee Gon completes his mission. If he fails, she will then shoot him. Lee Lim laughs at her plan and tells her all her memories of him will disappear if he succeeds. She responds that she’s heart-broken, but all those radiant memories are etched deep in her heart. She’s willing to take the risk, even though time is at a standstill in the portal, to give it a go and shoot him.

Back in Corea, young Lee Gon is holding the sword, ready to take a swipe at Lee Lim. Lee Lim orders his henchman to shoot young Lee Gon. Just at that moment, the glass ceiling shatters and young Lee Gon runs away while a glass shard hits Lee Lim’s hand, causing him to drop the flute intact. Lee Gon thus managed to intervene earlier this time round, even before the flute was broken. Yeong takes down many of Lee Lim’s henchmen but is shot in the chest. Lee Gon takes fire at Lee Lim, but Lee Lim uses one of his men to block the shots.

Lee Lim in Corea manages to get a hold on the whole flute, causing Lee Gon’s chest to ache and his half of the Manpasikjeok disintegrates. Back in the portal, the Manpasikjeok also disintegrates in Tae-Eul’s hands, and Lee Lim looks on, bewildered but realising that he must have obtained the whole flute. In the portal, Lee Lim tells Tae-Eul that if the flute is gone, that means his nephew cannot come back, and that Tae-Eul and him are stuck in the portal for eternity.

In Corea, Lee Lim runs off with the flute and Lee Gon chases after him, leaving young Lee Gon in Yeong’s care. He reaches the gate, but sees that Lee Lim has fled. He picks up his sword and gives chase.

Yeong holds young Lee Gon in his arms and smiles as he realises he is alive. Young Lee Gon moves his hand up to touch Yeong’s hand for comfort. As the Royal Guards arrive, Yeong places young Lee Gon on the floor and hides at the side. Yeong recalls how in the previous timeline, young Lee Gon told young Yeong that he was the Unbreakable Sword – he has finally fulfilled his destiny and vision. Yeong and Eun Sop have been the only so-called positive pair of doppelgangers in the series, which also explains why they are so close. They have been partners in fulfilling that destiny, as Eun Sop was the one who protected adult Lee Gon from the gunshot. As the scene closes, we get a shot of Yeong’s face against the snow falling in the light from the glass ceiling, a sign of God’s approval.

Back in Korea, Hyeon-min has brought Shinjae’s mum to the nursing home to see Shinjae in a coma. He tells her that there’s someting dad has been hiding from her, and she breaks down, hugging her son and apologising. She asks him when he found out and how long he was hiding it from her. She asks him what he will do about it. He has no reply for her, and walks away, dejected and alone once again.

However, just as he is walking away, he hears his mum calling him, “Sin-jae!”. He turns back and calls her, “Mom”. She gives him the tightest and warmest hug and tells him she should have given him a hug as it was not his fault. She apologises to him and tears roll down his eyes and he calls her mum. From being abandoned by her, he is now tightly and warmly embraced by her – Shin-jae and his mum got the reconciliation and closure that he needed, even before the reset happened. While it was the original plan for him to bring Lee Lim to the gate, it was never his battle to fight. This act of reconciliation with his mother was what truly took courage for Shin-Jae.

In the bamboo forest, Lee Lim is running towards the gate, with blood all over him. He turns around and sees the gate. “I was right after all,” he says, “this must be the door to another world.” Old Lee Gon appears behind him and slashes his shoulder, causing him to drop the flute. He lies down and wonders who this man is and why he has the Four Tiger Sword. Lee Gon declares that he is the king of Corea, and the rightful owner of the Sword, and the one who will carry out the capital punishment.

Back in the portal, Lee Lim says that the nephew must have failed because he’s alive and well. Tae-Eul decides to shoot him, but the bullet does no come out. Lee Lim laughs and calls her ‘foolishly hopeful’, running towards her. However, we see the plant that Tae-Eul has planted in Korea sprouting, and time starts to move in the portal. The bullet comes out and hits him in the chest. The balloons are moving, petals are falling down, lightning is streaking in the portal and all the photographs are disintegrating.

Tae-Eul has all this while been the one who is ‘foolishly hopeful’, even more so than Lee Gon, planting seeds in the portal and in Korea. Her final hope that the gun will shoot Lee Lim has paid off. While there’s a lot about fate and following fate, Tae-Eul is not someone who just sits around and allows fate to happen. She’s one who takes action in pursuit of who she believes she’s fated to be with – she took Lee Lim into the portal because she did not want Lee Gon to be alone. Her actions are rewarded.

“The sky bestows the heart upon us, and the ground helps the spirit. The sun and moon are formed, as the mountain and stream form, lighting strikes,” declares Lee Gon in the forest. Hearing this, Lee Lim realises that he is the Crown Prince, and that must be the power of the flute. Tragically, he realises the power is not meant to be his, and that it is the flute that causes his death.

“A sage is moved to defeat the evil of the mountains and streams. Wield it with deep thoughts and make things right.” These lines are voiced by Lee Gon’s father and ends off with him – claiming that as his own destiny. He beheads Lee Lim and we look up into the darkness amidst the bamboo trees – a visual contrast to the light shining down on Yeong earlier.

The boy with the yoyo makes his appearance again. “I thought this would break, but it sprouted instead. The door will close and only the memories will remain.” We see scenes of him appearing at different points and places in both Corea and Korea. “Should I break it or just let it be?” he asks. Fortune indeed favours the brave – Tae-Eul’s bravery in entering the portal and taking on Lee Lim means the thread is not broken as she is joined by Lee Gon in fate. Both of them take down Lee Lim at the same time. As she is in the portal, her memories are also retained.

In Corea, we see Lee Lim, dead on the ground while Lee Gon looks on, silently looking on. In the portal, Lee Lim also lies on the ground, while his body disintegrates (a nod to Goblin). Tae-Eul realises heartbreakingly that Lee Gon has achieved his mission, which means he will not be able to come back.

Fates begin to change and Lee Gon’s scar on his neck disappears. However, he remembers what Tae-eul says about how she will not remember him once their worlds start to flow differently. Indeed, all physical evidence of Lee Gon and Shin Jae disappear from both worlds.

Back in Korea in 1994, we see Ji-Hun’s uncle (Lee Lim’s doppelganger) is still alive and his mum decides to put him in a nursing home. Hyeon-min’s mum decides not to end her life, because of Prince Buyeong’s intervention. Prince Buyeong tells Hyeonmin that his name means “to shine like jade” and that he will be someone who shines like a jewel. He tells his mum to change her choice as it will determine the boy’s fate. He invites her to a cup of tea.

In Corea in 1999, Luna tries to steal money from Seo-Ryung’s mum. Seo-Ryung stops her and asks her mum to punish her. However, her mum responds with compassion and offers Luna some food. Both Hyeon-min and Luna find family and a new lease of life in this world, which ultimately shows that the destiny is benevolent and works things for the good. While Lee Lim tried to play god to offer these people better lives, his offers destroyed their lives and brought chaos to the world.

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In Korea on April 25 2020, Tae-eul finds herself back in the bamboo forest and only a week has passed. She makes a call and realises while that the world seemed unchanged, but some things had changed because of what happened. Lee Gon and Shinjae no longer exist. She was still a lieutenant, and tried to do something nice for her dad each month. However, she still lives everyday with the memories of Lee Gon intact. To make things worse, she sees that Ji-Hun on the streets, but he does not recognise her at all.

However, Lee Gon has not given up. He has indeed been opening doors to every universe to fulfil his promise to come and find her. We see Lee Gon finding many different versions of Tae-Eul in the different universes – one where she’s in the army, one where she’s a bride who just got married and one where she’s a naval officer. In all the worlds, she’s mostly protecting others.

Finally, in 2021, Na-Ri gives Tae-eul a call, telling her that there’s a horse and a guy outside the Taekwando Centre. She knows it’s him and immediately makes her way there. Indeed, it’s Lee Gon and he has finally found her.

[The reunion scene deserves recapping in its entirety.]

Lee Gon: You exist across every universe. You still don’t recognise me. But you… Why are you crying? You seemed happy in every world I saw you. It was the only thing that comforted me. But you… why do you look as though you recognise me? Why do you look as though you remember everything about me? (holds up her police tag) Is it you? Jeong Tae-eul? Is it really you? Yes?

Tae-Eul: You came? You really came for me?

Lee Gon looks shocked

Tae-Eul: You really came for me?

[He hugs her]

Lee Gon: Finally. I finally got to see you, Lieteuant Jeong Tae-Eul.

TE: What took you so long? I kept waiting for you. Every single day, I waited for you.

LG: After I slew the traitor, I had to go back and get Yeong. So I had to find my way back again, which meant I had to open every single door in ithe universe. That’s why it took me so long. And I didn’t think that you’d remember me, even if I did find you.

TE: Yet you still kept looking for me?

LG: Even if you forgot all about me, I still wanted to see you. I was going to tell you again if you had forgotten me that I am the King, of the Kingdom of Corea, and that my name, which is not supposed to be called, is Lee Gon. But how do you still remember me when the worlds flowed differently?

TE: Let’s forget that. I’ve also been through many things myself. Now, this.

LG: Do you still hate flowers?

TE: No, I like flowers, especially this flower.

LG: I realized I haven’t told you this. I love you. I am deeply in love with you.

TE: So this is how everything comes together. I love you too. I love you so much too.

It’s such a heartwarming and sweet reunion that contrasts with the heartbreaking separation that happened in Episode 10. In the scene in Episode 10, Lee Gon has come from the future and has to go off. He vanishes from her grasp after giving her the flowers. However, this time round, their timelines are aligned – and Lee Gon arrives in her present, and he is here to stay for good. The depth of their love is so evident through their eyes and the way they hug each other so tightly. There are so many wonderful parallels and links to scenes from previous episodes in this finale.

I found it interesting that Tae-Eul chooses not to let Lee Gon know that she was the one who took Lee Lim into the portal and killed him. She brushes it off and just says that she went through a lot. What is in the past is no longer important – she just wants to focus on the present and their future together.

While Lee Gon is the one with the flute and control over the universes and time, Tae-Eul has managed to go beyond the rules that govern the universe, through the favour she has found with the deities (represented by the boy). In an exchange between Luna and the boy, we know they both share a special relationship – she seems almost like a big sister to him.

In Corea, 2022, Yeong is complaining to Lee Gon about taking care of the twins and his parents are back together. The names of the twins are Eun-bi and Kka-bi. Lee Gon asks Yeong if he misses him, but Yeong says he’s ok and Eun-sup wouldn’t remember him. He passes him a folder which shows that Hyeonmin is now working the Haeundae Police Station.

We see Luna walking past the Haesong Book Store, in the same outfit that we earlier saw in the video clip which Lee Gon had. As she is walking, Hyeon-min calls her and he’s going to buy her something for her birthday. She runs into the bookstore to choose something. Luna also goes to visit Seo-Ryung in prison and we realise she has been arrested for stealing people’s tax money as an assemblywoman. The roles have reversed and her secretary is now the correctional officer overseeing her. Haha! Luna’s name is now Koo Seo-Gyeong, revealing that she has been adopted by Seo-Ryung’s mum.

Interestingly, in a world without Lee Lim, Seo-Ryung ends up in prison for her crimes as an assemblywoman. Lee Lim’s involvement in Seo-Ryung’s life must have gone even deeper than we thought and he might even have had a role to play in her rise to power as Prime Minister. It’s unfortunate this angle was never fully explored and never fully clear as well, about what the deal between the two of them was.

After reuniting, Tae-Eul and Lee Gon have been using the magic flute to take weekend trips on dates to different time periods. They first find out which year they are in so they will not run into their counterparts. In 2020, they are at Corea Universe and they go to a café where Prince Buyeong is at, and he gets to see Tae-Eul. Our playful king also packs some leaves in the suitcase, in case they end up in ‘that time period’. Ha!

Lee Gon also sees Sin-Jae in Korea in 1994, who runs off to save someone in an accident. He also visits Eun-sup in 2022, who works with NIS, has a driver’s license now and is together happily with Na-Ri.

In a very fun sequence, they return to that moment earlier in the series where Yeong was looking for him and Lee Gon appeared with Tae-Eul on Maximums. They take a way through the beach so nobody can see them, but Court Lady Noh meets them again. They decide they have to erase video footage of her appearance, and they realise that Yeong is passing a secret note to Seung-A. It’s really cute and funny.

Back in Korea, we see Jangmi has joined the police force and this time, he’s macho and competent. In the Kingdom of Corea, Lee Gon appoints his secretary as the new Prime Minister.

The episode ends both Tae-Eul and Lee Gon going to watch a movie, “Barefooted Youth”, hand in hand.

“No matter what kind of a door opens before us in life
And even if the moments we share make us sad at times
I wish to be able to love tirelessly
Just like that, we decided to love the fate that chose us.
Just for today, and only for today. And forever.”

The idea of ‘loving tirelessly’ is a fitting one to end the series. For both Lee Gon and Tae-Eul, their love required so much from them – waiting, travelling across universes, battling with Lee Lim’s forces and doppelgangers. Fate may have chosen them, but loving that fate requires them to take many actions to ensure that fate came to pass and was not obstructed by Lee Lim. With so much uncertainty and danger, they had decided earlier to just treasure each day they had, and they continue to take this approach as they grow old together.

TKEM’s finale is well-constructed and meaningfully pieced together, tying together stories and scenes from many earlier episodes. While the show may have been less consistent in the rules of time travel, it has definitely been detailed and attentive in telling the stories of the different lives involved. Kudos to the entire team for making this such a wonderful and engaging drama!

The King Eternal Monarch Finale Review


The King Eternal Monarch delivers an emotionally satisfying finale, with Lee Gon and Tae-Eul emerging victorious against both Lee Lims, resulting in the fates of all the key characters in Corea and Korea being rewritten, mostly for the better. While logical inconsistencies still abound and the show largely undelivered on its premise, I really did enjoy the finale.

As Lee Gon returns to the night of the treason for the third time, he voices over, “I hoped everything would unfold exactly the same as it did that night. At what point did things start to change? Beautiful occasions are always simple. Tonight I’m not alone, we just haven’t reached our destination yet”.

Indeed, many things are different about his third return to Corea in 1994. Firstly, Lee Gon is no longer hiding his identity as the King. He is proudly wearing his royal garb. Secondly, the four tiger sword is with him, once again symbolising him fully embracing his destiny. Lastly, and most importantly, he is not alone – Yeong is beside him, and Tae-Eul is partnering him to hold Lee Lim hostage in the portal. All three of them – Lee Gon, Yeong and Tae-Eul – are embracing their fate bravely.

He manages to intervene in the treason much earlier, thus saving his younger self and keeping the Manpasikjeok intact. As Yeong is with him, Lee Gon is able to leave his younger self safely in his care, while he runs off in pursuit of Lee Lim. He manages to stop Lee Lim just before he enters the gate, and delivers the rightful punishment to Lee Lim of beheading him. Similarly, Tae-eul manages to shoot and kill Lee Lim in the portal.

As a whole, the demise and death of Lee Lim has ultimately been anti-climatic. There was so much build-up early in the series about him building up his army, getting ready for a battle with Lee Gon. However, ever since the big battle in Episode 12, we have hardly seen his army in action. Furthermore, he has not decisive steps to secure victory for himself. His plan with Seo-Ryung came to naught and him killing himself when he returned to Corea ultimately also effectively made him less threatening. Lee Lim has been one of the biggest disappointments of the series.

However, while Lee Lim’s final moments were disappointing, I like how we finally see the boy with the Yo-yo again. He has a certain enigmatic charm about him as he says, “I thought this would break, but it sprouted instead. The door will close and only the memories will remain. Should I break it or just let it be?”

The red string refers to the thread of eternal love between Lee Gon and Tae-Eul. With Lee Lim being killed, he thought that the red string that ties both Lee Gon and Tae-Eul would break and that their memories of each other would be erased. However, the boy must have decided not to break it and keep it intact, so that the both of them would find each other again. This hints that Tae-Eul has a bigger role in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps, it is her fate to be the Queen. I believe Tae-Eul also retains her memories of Lee Gon because she was in the portal, where the whole reset between both worlds was happening, thus escaping the reset.

For the rest of the episode, we see the fates of our different characters in a world without Lee Lim’s interference. Ji-Hun lives and his uncle remains in a wheel chair. Hyeon-min’s mum is stopped by Prince Buyeong and turns her life around. A young Luna is stopped by Seo-Ryung’s mum from stealing and is eventually taken in by the family. She becomes a police officer who works together with Hyeon-min. Eun-Seob is equally successful and has gotten together with Na Ri.

Tae-Eul returns to the world of Korea on April 25, 2020, and she still retains her memories of Lee Gon and Shin-jae. However, the world she returns to is different and Lee Gon and Shin-jae are not in her life. This is where the mood of the episode changes and it becomes more light-hearted and funny as we see Lee Gon traversing different universes, opening all the doors as he had promised, to find Tae-eul. He finds many different versions of ‘her’ as a soldier, a naval officer, and even a drunk bride.

He eventually finds her a year later in 2021 and they are finally reunited and spend their weekends together, doing all the things that Tae-eul wanted to do before, like travel, take photos, watch movies and grow old together. It’s a sweet and cheery way to end the series with plenty of laughs and fun moments that ultimately brings everything together in a hopeful way for our protagonists.

As a series, The King Eternal Monarch was an engaging and thought-provoking one, that lent itself to so much analysis on so many levels. Whether people like it or not, we cannot deny that this show has sparked off so much debate and discussion about its rules, the storyline, the characters, symbolism and the literary references.

I felt the show faltered because it did not always play fair with the viewers. With parallel universes, it’s already confusing enough, yet at the start, we were never quite sure which world we were in. Furthermore, there were moments when the sequence of events were not clear. Scenes were sometimes presented in a ‘chopped up’ manner, with us only returning to it half an episode later to realise what happened in the end.

Towards the end, the rules governing time travel became inconsistent and played more towards Lee Gon’s advantage. Of course, this could easily be explained as the boy in the yoyo (i.e. destiny) favouring Lee Gon as he wanted to restore the balance of things. However, it is less satisfying because it ultimately made Lee Lim a very ineffective villain. The flute, which was meant to give Lee Gon control over the universes and time, just became a means of going on dates.

The characters also did not particularly stand out in this series, except for Yeong, Eun Seob and Shinjae. The other characters, including our protagonists, did not leave much of an impression. There is a lot of focus on about Lee Gon and Tae-eul embracing their destiny. However, even though their destinies were tough, they never really struggled with embracing it. In terms of the cast, I would say Kim Go Eun shone more than Lee Min Ho, whose performance was mostly one-note (he was much better as Joon Jae in Legend of the Blue Sea). Kim Go Eun was able to play both Luna and Tae-Eul so effectively that you could tell from one look which one was which even before they spoke. Woo do Hwan was also fantastic as Eun-seob and Yeong.

With all that being said, I have to give props to Kim Eun Sok for once again presenting us with a very original and ambitious story-line that attempted to bring history together with fantasy. It was an enjoyable series that was dense in meaning and constructed in a way that often made viewers want to find out more and exchange theories. This is the type of show that you can discuss with fans for hours, because there’s so much to unpack. While there are aspects I was disappointed with, I am definitely looking forward to her next series.

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 15: Review


As the show reaches its end, the cracks in the show are also starting to show. It’s still enjoyable enough for me to follow, but the weight of bringing together parallel universes, time travel, doppelgangers has become a burden that’s too heavy to bear. In spite of many questions that linger in my mind, there are still many touching and meaningful moments that keep me interested in what happens in the end.

The most touching moment for me was the parting between Eun Seob and Yeong. I’ve always enjoyed scenes with both characters and they play off each other so well whenever they are together, that I did tear when hugged each other. Unlike the other doppelgangers who have been antagonistic to each other, both Yeong and Eun Seob have become like brothers to each other, helping each other to protect what is precious to them. Having to take on Yeong’s position has brought out the heroism and selflessness in Eun Seob without having him lose his fun and cheerful personality.

Another character whose journey continues to be deep and meaningful is Shin Jae, and in this episode, we finally gets to meet his mum at the same spot where they first met Lee Rim at the bridge when he was still young. He meets her not to get an apology from her – he meets her so that he can wake up from this ‘bad dream’. He tells her then that he’s abandoning her this time; for the first time, finally, he has some agency to decide how to confront this reality of his confused identity and parenthood. After drifting around for twenty over years, uncertain of who is he or where he belongs, he now knows. Even though the answer is not a happy one, he finally has one. I believe it’s this certainty and decision that also makes him ready to sacrifice his life for Lee Gon, and confess his love for Tae-Eul. Shin Jae’s story is the type of story I wish we had more of in the show, with such profound emotional and psychological impact.

Part of me thinks that this is not the last encounter we will see between Shin Jae and his mother. Given how things are building up towards the finale, I foresee one of our dear characters – be it Yeong, Shin Jae, Tae-Eul or Lee Gon – will have to be sacrificed in this big battle, and somehow I have a feeling Shin Jae will not survive our finale.

However, as to what that big conclusion will be, I’m still not sure. While that can be a good thing in some shows as it creates in suspense, for TKEM, the uncertainty of the ending is due to confusion. At this point, it’s not just the time travelling that’s confusing, but also certain characters’ motivations and decisions become less clear.

For example, in this episode, once the magic flute becomes whole, Lee Gon can no longer go back to that moment because he no longer hears the music. However, at that moment, he has Lee Rim right beside him, along with both Yeong and Shin Jae. It seems like he was already intending to travel back at that point. Why doesn’t he just split the flute and then get one of them to follow Lee Rim, while the other follows him? Also, why is Lee Rim so hell-bent on controlling the universe and eternity – what does he ultimately want to achieve out of that?

I’m also wondering Tae-Eul’s decision in allowing Luna (who has just stabbed her a few days ago to get her organs and poisoned Lee Gon) to stay with her dad in the world of Korea. Luna has not done a very convincing job of being Tae-Eul at all, and how could Tae-Eul even imagine that she would be a suitable replacement? Am I missing something? Was there a scene where Luna did something to win over Tae-Eul’s trust – because at this point, this is all bewildering to me.

Similarly, Seo-Ryung’s character is also a big disappointment for me. Having claimed that she wants to get the flute in Episode 14, she does nothing in Episode 15 except to threaten Lee Rim. We are one episode away from the series ending and we have no idea what her bigger plan is and how she intends to achieve it.

Putting aside all the confusion, the episode did give us plenty of sweet and meaningful moments between Lee Gon and Tae-Eul. It’s kind of bitter-sweet that even though Lee Gon visited Tae-Eul at different points of time in the past, that ultimately did not change where they are now in 2020. Yes, they did spend more time together, and she did go to his parallel universe quicker, while also accepting her fate quickly. However, tragedy ironically came earlier and fate didn’t change. Fate did not change, because Lee Gon was not ultimately trying to change it as he moved through time.

Unlike Lee Rim, Lee Gon is not intent on disrupting the order of the world and challenging fate. He certainly could have warned Tae-Eul of what was going to happen, since he did get to see her when it was Election Day and Lee Rim was already present. However, he knows his destiny and he knows that if he attempts to change anything along the way, it might result in more disaster.

We later learn in a conversation with Shin Jae about what Lee Gon has decided to do. He wants to go back in time again and kill Lee Rim straightaway at his moment of anger, rather than focus on saving his younger-self. By doing so, Lee Rim would not have been able to wreak havoc on both the worlds of Corea and Korea. That would definitely be a game-changer, but would it be so simple? Does that necessarily mean that Lee Gon and Tae-Eul would never meet again? Let’s hope that the finale gives us some satisfactory answers in this aspect.

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 14: Review


The King Eternal Monarch’s 14th episode takes us back to the start as Lee Rim and Lee Gon travel back to that fateful night where Lee Rim stages the coup and then Lee Gon travels through time till the moment Tae-eul and him first meet at Gwanghaemoon.

The first half of the episode focuses on Lee Lim and Lee Gon as their future selves return to 1994 and we finally get some answer on how time travel happens. The boy with the yoyo explains to Song Jung-hye, “When the Manpasikjeok becomes one inside the gate, both the axes for time and space simultaneously form inside the gate. When the Manpasikjeok becomes whole, it takes you to the moment when you wish to save yourself “.

That moment is the same for both Lee Rim and Lee Gon – the night of the reason. Lee Gon goes back because he wants to save both words from Lee Rim, whereas Lee Rim wants to go back to “save his foolish self from failing the coup”.

The difference between the two is that Lee Rim fails in his mission to save himself. His 2020 self returns to the moment before his 1994 self starts the coup. He tells his 1994 self to kill the 8 year old Lee Gon first, because he is the one who ultimately stops the coup. However, his 1994 self refuses to believe it. Seeing that his 2020 self only has half the flute, his 1994 self decides not to trust him and kills him. Ultimately, Lee Rim’s pride is his own downfall and the 26 years of scheming to ensure he can finally go back in time to save himself ultimately fails. There must be more to his plan though, given how things continue to move in 2020 with Luna and the attempt to kill Jung-Hye.

While 2020 Lee Rim returned to a point of time where he could have changed his future, Lee Gon returns to a point of time which is too late to save his father, or to get the entire flute. The coup is stopped, but Lee Rim runs away once again. As Lee Gon leaves to pursue Lee Rim, he meets Ok-nam and he tells her that he is her King and that just as she advised, he is pursuing his destiny. This certainly explains much of Ok-nam’s behaviour in previous episodes.

When Lee Gon travels across worlds to Korea, he realises he is also too late to also save his ‘Korean’ self. With only half of the flute, he can only move across worlds and will therefore take four months to get back to the present time. The second half of the episode then focuses on Lee Gon moving through time, meeting Tae-Eul at key moments and also planting the seeds to possibly ensure he is more successful the next time he gets to travel back in time.

Since he cannot go back to meet Tae-Eul immediately in the present, he first goes back to her when she’s 5 and tells her 5-year old self that he’s on his way to her and that he will be back soon. Following that, he visits her again on the day of election day on 2016, telling her that she will meet him next at Gwanghaemoon. He asks her to give him more time then, as they do not have much time.

Besides just going through time to meet Tae-Eul, 2020 Lee Gon also puts in place other plans to set things in place for success. He returns to the day of the boat race, where he first ran after Luna. There, he meets Yeong and tells him not to hold back from telling him about Jung-hye in 2020. He also places a rabbit jacket on the bench with a key card to the palace. We then see Luna again running in the jacket, but this time, we see her touching her pocket and realising that she has the key card in her pocket.

As all this time travelling is going on, we get only one scene with Seo-Ryung in this episode where we learn that she has big plans to find the Manpasikjeok and use it to her benefit. This is definitely an interesting development, but this should really have happened much earlier.

As the episode reaches a close, we go back to present day 2020 and see that Eun-Soeb and Tae-eul are tailing Luna – who is shopping with Tae-Eul’s father and Na-Ri. This scene confused me because if this is supposed to be happening after last week’s events, then why would Tae-eul even allow Luna to be close to her family members again? Putting this aside, Tae-Eul follows Luna to a dark alley and is eventually stabbed by Luna – which leads us back to Tae-Eul and Lee Gon’s first meeting. This time round, Tae-Eul already knows who Lee Gon is, so she takes the first move and runs towards him and hugs him.

With only two episodes left, there’s still plenty of plot to cover. We know Lee Rim has started his plan once again since the coup failed. The difference this time round is that Lee Gon is moving also through time and making plans to circumvent Lee Rim’s plans. Certainly, Tae-Eul will not die, so what will happen once Lee Gon arrives in 2020? What are his plans then?

As the show draws to a close, my biggest gripe with the show is how the characters are mostly unfleshed out, with the exception of Shin Jae. He is the only character whose back story gets the most attention as he grapples with his identity of whether he is Shin Jae or Hyun-min. For the other characters, a lot of time is spent figuring out how to outdo each other rather than exploring the motivations and emotions felt by the characters. This show could certainly be so much more if we could relate and connect more with the characters.

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 12: Key Moments


The King Eternal Monarch slows down in Episode 12, giving us much more OTP moments and some interesting revelations. There’s not much in terms of plot movement, but that is not a bad thing as we get more invested in our characters. Here were some key moments for me:

Court Lady Noh

The biggest revelation in this episode came like a punch at the end, in a quiet conversation between Tae-eul and Head Lady Noh.

She walks through her family history, telling Tae-eul that her name is Noh Ok-nam, her father is Noh Gi-seop, her mother is Shin Jeong-ae and her sister is Noh Yeong-nam. She was born in 1932, in Pyoksong of Hwanghae Province and she left her hometown at 17. Since then, she has not heard any news regarding her hometown for 67 years.

This opens up a huge storyline about what happened to Ok-Nam, why she came over to Corea and how that ties to the story of Lee Rim and Lee Gon’s parents. Of course, this also reveals that Lee Rim was not the first to travel across the universe and Head Lady Noh must be familiar with the use of the flute to travel across universes and its consequences. I am interested to see where this takes us.

Prime Minister Koo & The consequences of travelling

We were earlier led to believe that Lee Rim and Lee Gon were the only ones who experienced pain when there was lightning and thunder. However, in this episode, we see that it’s no longer just them, but also Lee Rim’s henchman. And not just them – but also Prime Minster Koo! This confirms that she was the one in the car that Yeong was chasing. And therefore that she too is somehow involved in Lee Rim’s bigger plans, as she drove away when Yeong was shot.

I’m still a little uncertain about Prime Minister Koo’s motivations and grand plans. Her scenes thus far have been brief and focused on her wanting to be married to Lee Gon – but why? We know in this episode that she is status-conscious and her term is running out soon. Once her term ends, she’ll be back to just being the daughter of a fish-monger. Yes, so we know she wants to marry him to continue having power and status. Why are these so important to her? Her character has not been fleshed out much and currently just seems like another chess piece in Lee Rim’s big plan.

There are many theories about why the pain from lightning and thunder only affect a few, but not others – like Shinjae, Tae-eul, Luna, Yeung or Eunseob. Right now, we can see that these are the four who have moved across the universe, but have not attempted to disrupt the order. They have not been involved in taking out anybody in the other universe and largely been there to maintain order. However, the pain also affects Gon. This points to the possibility that Gon may have also done some things to affect the order of both worlds, but this has not been shown to us yet.

Our OTP: Lee Gon and Tae-Eul

While I’m taking to them as a couple more, the timelines are getting wildly confusing. The scene where Lee Gon confesses his love to Tae-eul caused much confusion earlier as to whether it actually happened, given that he just disappeared. Thus far, we are led to believe that the confession and the flowers were given before the events in Episode 11 and 12.

Strangely, in this episode, Tae-eul says to Lee Gon after she’s first seen by the doctor that she was afraid that their moment in the bamboo forest would be their last. Okay, so that confession and flower-giving moment has not happened yet? However, later on, when Tae-eul is asked to choose her clothes, she sees the coat that Lee Gon is wearing being hung up and she remembers the moment he came to her with the flowers and confessed to her. If that’s a scene from the future, then why does Tae-eul remember it? Or was it a dream?

That point notwithstanding, I enjoyed their other interactions. Like mentioned before, Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun do have good chemistry and they are very natural and relaxed around each other. In terms of the writing, we see them getting to know each other more as they walked towards the church and took their first photograph together.

The time pauses are getting longer as we learnt in the previous episode. However, because these time pauses take Lee Gon away from Tae-Eul, he ends up feeling more lonely and a sense of loss during them. In this episode, as he is right next to Tae-eul, the reality of being forever in a time pause dawns upon him, which leads to him tearing.

Announcing my first webinar!

Having written over 200 blog entries, I have decided to launch a webinar very soon titled “Unlocking the Keys to K-drama” soon.

The webinar will cover my Genre, Characterisation, Technical Details approach using dramas like Healer, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Legend of the Blue Sea, Goblin, Suspicious Partner, Hotel Del Luna and The World of the Married. If you are interested to sign up, please indicate your interest by clicking this link and you will be placed on a mailing list to be notified once the webinar is up. Spaces will be limited since it is my first run. Thank you!

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 11


The battle heats up in The King Eternal Monarch’s 11th installment, culminating in an no-holds barred battle between Lee Gon and Lee Rim’s forces. Let’s look at the key developments in this very meaty episode.

Lee Rim and Luna

Having done away with Prince Buyeong, Lee Rim now proceeds to move more of his plan ahead.

After Luna gets hit by a car, she finds herself in front of Lee Rim, who plays god again by offering her a new life in a parallel world. Not having a home or a family and constantly on the run, Luna is miserable and angry in the world of Corea. Given that she already has no place or sense of belonging in Corea, it is no surprise that Luna takes up the offer. Kim Go-Eun shines in this episode, playing two very different characters very convincingly. As Luna, she’s edgy, frustrated and raw.

Thus far, Lee Rim has co-opted people into his force are often those who are displaced – with no status in the world of Corea. This idea of movement across world works on two levels. Firstly, Lee Gon had referred to this in earlier episodes as illegal immigration, which is an apt metaphor. While moving to Korea gives them a better life, they continue to feel a sense of dislocation (as seen by Shin-jae) and have to hide and remain untraceable like Song Jung-hye who declares a fake address and gives cash to the undertaker so she cannot be traced.

On another level, it also works on the supernatural level as a form of reincarnation or rebirth. They are ‘born’ into a new world with a new name, new family, new destiny. Yet, they remain trapped because besides Shin Jae (who was moved against his will), they have made a pact with the devil, and are thus stuck in a path of misery and darkness.

Coming back to Luna, we see that things are not so straightforward as she also goes to meet the girl with the yo-yo, whom we’ve already established earlier represents some form of godly figure. He passes her a jack knife, but she asks him to keep it to “protect what belongs to [her]”. We later know that this knife is passed to Tae-Eul to help her to escape, as part of the girl’s attempt to restore the balance. I’m very fascinated to see what’s going on with Luna, what her bigger plan is.

Prime Minister Koo Seo-Ryung

I’m not really liking her character much thus far, because her intentions do not seem pure. Her smiling during the wake of Prince Buyeong also cemented my dislike for her.

Her storyline in relation to the parallel universes has not been so clear, but we are led to believe that Lee Rim is co-opting her into his plan and has been sending her newspapers from Korea. How would he tempt her into that world though, given that her life in the world of Corea is much better than Korea? However, in this episode, it seems like she has gone over to the world of Korea. The person that Tae-Eul meets on the street, who looks like her, may actually be her, because we see her going to a store later to purchase stilettos. The involvement of Seo-Ryung definitely has potential, but her storyline has been quite unclear so far. Given that Korea is a democracy, is Lee Rim co-opting her to rule the world of Korea, while he rules Corea? How would he convince her? I’m liking how Kim Eun Sok plots this series – we see enough each time to get interested, but we also know bigger pieces are moving which keep us asking questions.

Shin Jae

Shin Jae learns more about Lee Lim in this episode and Lee Lim sends his henchman to pass him a 2G phone. This leads to a scuffle, where we know that Shin Jae has an important part to play in this plan and cannot be killed – yet.

We know though that Lee Rim referred to Shin Jae previously as the plan that did not work out well – why is he approaching him yet again? Similarly, what could he possibly tempt Shin Jae with? On a separate note, I was disappointed that we saw so little of Yeong in this episode. Wasn’t his role in this world to help defend it from Lee Rim’s actions? He should have been more proactively defending both Shin Jae and Tae-Eul then, but in both instances, Yeong was not there to protect them.


In terms of the romance, the Tae-Eul we saw in this episode was vastly different from the weepy one that we saw in Episode 10. I much prefer her in this episode, but am also hoping the writing of the romance can be more consistent.

Once again, we go back to that conversation which seemed to have taken place when they went to look Song Jung-hye and what I liked was Tae-Eul being more assertive in this relationship, not just swooning or crying over Lee Gon. Firstly, she tells him that he never asked her to marry him, he just told her. Then, she tells him that she has decided just to live for each day, rather than think beyond that. Of course, Lee Gon responds that couples usually pledge their love for eternity, but for her, she has decided just to appreciate what they have for that day that they are together.

If this scene supposedly took place before Lee Gon went back to Corea, then why was Tae-Eul crying so much when she saw him in the forest or outside her flat last week? There seems to be some inconsistency there, but I like this version of Tae-Eul much better. While she still does not understand how the worlds work, she knows how to make the most of it. I like how assured she is around Lee Gon, yet we know she still loves him and misses him. While the love story isn’t written well, I feel that Kim Go Eun and Lee Min Ho really have great chemistry and their interactions are fun and sweet to watch.

I really like the character of Tae-Eul, because she is constantly on the move and always taking action, whether it is in the world of Korea or Corea. Once she is kidnapped in the world of Corea, Tae-Eul’s determination and quick-thinking really shine. After the girl with the yo-yo saves her, she breaks out, drives herself away, uses her limited bullets to derail a car, then walks all the way to Corea where she makes a pay-phone call to Lee Gon. She narrowly escapes from a speeding lorry and that is when Lee Gon comes sweeping in to save her. Lee Gon riding in and declaring she’s the Queen of Corea was indeed a majestic and heroic scene.

Lee Gon

And of course, we have to end with Lee Gon. I’m a little frustrated by how he still always seems to be one step behind Lee Lim, but I guess his uncle has had 25 years of scheming and universe-travelling ahead of him.

In the privacy of his home, he crumbles and breaks down over the loss of Prince Buyeong, but when facing his guards and those against him, he is authoritative, decisive and is unafraid of bloodshed. In the world of Corea, while there may be laws, the King’s word is final. While beheading is abolished, he sentences Lee Rim’s henchman to beheading, because of his silence.

The camera work for this scene is particularly powerful – with many shots where Lee Gon’s head takes centre-stage in the frame, and he is looking downwards, almost in a God-like manner, deciding on the fate of these criminals. (Yes, of course these head-shots also capture Lee Min Ho’s chiseled looks.)

Unlike Lee Rim who plays god to disrupt the order of the worlds, Lee Gon’s authority aims to restore law and order and he is willing to get his hands dirty to do this. Once the bookstore is discovered, he also wastes no time and leads his royal guards there to take it down and it’s a ruthless takedown. While most of Lee Rim’s henchmen at the bookstore are taken down, he also has another group of them at a shipyard – just how big is his army? And this leads to the final showdown that concludes the episode. Lee Gon is unafraid to get his hands dirty – he is not a king who leads from the back, but one who leads the charge in front and he gets blood splattered all over him while he engages in the fight.

While being willing to fight, we also participate in Lee Gon’s thought processes and it’s always fun to watch him piecing the mystery together by remembering what happened in the past, and then applying his knowledge of the Euclid number this round to calculate how long the time stops are.This time, he realises that at some point, the time pauses will last for an eternity. He must either work to ensure that does not happen, or somehow gain control over the time stops.

The battle for victory definitely cannot just be won through a physical fight. In order to win over Lee Rim, Lee Gon cannot just eradicate all his henchmen – Lee Gon needs to claim control over the universes and in order to do this, the flute and the sword definitely must come into play. Certainly, the yo yo boy must also be involved. I’m looking forward to how these elements and characters start to come together.

All in all, this was an engaging, exciting episode where the plot pieces moved forward while we also got interesting facts on the parallel universes. I’m hoping we see more of the flute or sword in upcoming episodes. And please bring back more of Yeong and Eun Soeb too!

Announcing my first webinar!

Having written over 200 blog entries, I have decided to launch a webinar very soon titled “Unlocking the Keys to K-drama” soon.

The webinar will cover my Genre, Characterisation, Technical Details approach using dramas like Healer, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Legend of the Blue Sea, Goblin, Suspicious Partner, Hotel Del Luna and The World of the Married. If you are interested to sign up, please indicate your interest by clicking this link and you will be placed on a mailing list to be notified once the webinar is up. Spaces will be limited since it is my first run. Thank you!

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 10


The stakes get raised in Episode 10 of the series and things are heating up. With so many developments, let’s dive into the key moments of this episode:

1. Shin-Jae sharing the truth with Tae-Eul

I am enjoying Shin Jae’s storyline a lot because it explores the psychological impact of moving across the universes. Thus far, the movement between the worlds for the other characters has only been shown to be part of Lee Rim’s bigger plan. However, through Shin Jae, we see that such a movement is not so straightforward and has emotional impact on him.

He has been seeing a psychiatrist about it – this recurring dream that he has. He wonders if he is delusional. Always feeling as if he does not belong, he later tells Tae-Eul, while in front of little Lee Gon’s memorial, that he wanted to become a policeman, so that he could hold a gun and either shoot a person or himself if anyone asked who he was.

He explains to her why he could not find him in the other world and tells her that he is still unsure of who he is. Thus far, out of all the characters that Lee Rim has brought over, Shin-jae is the only one that was brought over as a child and the trauma of losing his mum and being transplanted was too much for him to simply fall in place. The scene ends off with a touching moment as Tae-Eul gives him a warm embrace when he asks her if she will welcome him. It’s a moment of courage and acceptance for him and I’m glad the show is willing to explore this angle.

2. The battle between Lee Gon & Lee Rim

While Lee Gon is fast and sharp, there’s still much for him to catch up on given that his uncle has had more than two decades of experience of universe travelling. In the last episode, we saw that he learnt that Lee Rim has used the portal to stop his aging. He sends his guards to the bamboo forests to ambush him. That’s when he realises that that is futile as Lee Gon and Lee Rim’s portals across the worlds are different.

Lee Gon is unable to stop Lee Rim’s movements, which ultimately results in two losses this episode – first, Lee Gon is unable to catch Lee Rim at Haeundae as Lee Rim has gathered his troops there to hold the public hostage. Secondly, and more tragically, he is unable to stop Lee Rim from taking out Prince Buyeong – the biggest move taken by Lee Rim since the start of the series.

Finding out about Lee Rim and Lee Gon having two different portals is very interesting for me. This definitely happened when the magic flute was broken into half, because I’m sure if the flute was intact, there will only be one portal. How does Lee Rim portal look like then? Or is the portal dependent on the person’s intent and mission in travelling across the worlds? When Lee Rim encounters Prince Buyeong, he also speaks of how he may be able to open multiple worlds once he has the complete flute. This is interesting and I’m hoping we have the opportunity to explore this in episodes to come.

We also learn more about Lee Rim’s history in this episode, that he was supposed to be next on the throne, but rejected because he was born to a concubine. He is returning to wrestle back power and the flute has enabled him to do so in two ways – firstly, by helping him to amass troops by concealing them in Korea and secondly, by helping him to achieve eternity. Lee Jung-Jin is really doing an excellent job as Lee Rim, able to convey pure evil and that complete lack of humanity through his words and expression. I’m loving his role so much.

I enjoyed the King Arthur and Excalibur references we get here, when Lee Rim speaks to the boy, who tells him that the one with the royal blood pulled out the sword and became king. However, Lee Rim disagrees – he says it is not the just who pull out the sword, but the sword which determines what justice is. The boy then gives Lee Rim an ominous warning that things in his world keep changing and he should be careful.

In the previous episode, we saw Lee Gon sharing with Prince Buyeong that he wants to face fate and not challenge it, Lee Rim is constantly playing god and speaking of taking fate and destiny into his own hands – which in the world that the world is creating, will definitely have severe consequences. Let’s wait and see how this unfolds for Lee Rim.

3. Lee Gon & Tae-Eul

On the romance front, Lee Gon and Tae-Eul only meet very briefly twice in this episode, because of Lee Gon’s duties and what he needs to do in Corea.

Every time they meet, they know it will be short-lived, hence we always see them running to each other, and holding each other tightly, treasuring and seizing those moments. While she loves him greatly, Tae-Eul knows she cannot be with him wholly while he is in Korea. When they meet in the bamboo forest, she asks if he is really here and he replies, “Not yet, not fully”.

Lee Gon is after all the king of Corea and he can never fully be in Korea – he will always have to travel between two worlds. A conversation with Yeong brings home that point as he asks her to think beyond what happens once Lee Rim is killed. Yeong asks her if she can give up everything in this world to be the Queen of Corea and keep the two worlds a secret – forever.

Between Tae-Eul and Shin-jae, they speak of the world of Corea as science fiction – something that can be explainable by theories and drawing of diagrams. However, between Tae-Eul and Lee Gon, the language they use when talking about Corea is that of belief and fate. Tae-Eul might not understand what’s going on, but she has decided to believe fully in Lee Gon and commit herself to him and his cause. However, she is only start to fully grasp what believing in Lee Gon and loving him means.

The ending scene of the episode left me confused initially – Tae-Eul sees Lee Gon from her home and runs to him, where he gives her flowers and confesses that he loves her – the first time he has done so. He also cries in front of her – which is what Head Court Lady Noh says is a sign that he loves someone. However, suddenly, he disappears from her arms and she’s crumbles into tears, leaving me to wonder if that exchange even happened – but it had to happen, since she had the flowers. Upon viewing the scene again, I realised he disappeared because he was “walking through the frozen moments in time” – suggesting that he is taking time out of his schedule, freezing time, just to meet her and declare his love. I prefer such emotional scenes to be more straightforward though and not require such unpicking.

I have to admit I’m not fully sold on their relationship as we did not get to see why Tae-eul started to like Lee Gon. However, I do think that Lee Min Ho and Kim Go-Eun have chemistry and are able to convince us well of their love and dedication to each other.

Final thoughts: TKEM has delivered two solid episodes in its second half, assuring me that the build-up from the first half of the series has paid off. Now that the worlds have been built up and relationships established, Lee Rim’s big plan will start to unfold and I’m sure we are in for a lot of pain and tears in the weeks to come.

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 9


The King Eternal Monarch (TKEM)’s ninth episode develops the mythology of the show further, dropping some fascinating clues along the way. Without further ado, let’s get into the key events of this episode.

  1. Lee Gon and Tae-Eul working together across universes

The episode starts with Tae-eul bringing Gon to locate Song Jeong-hye as she believes he’d like to meet her. She expresses a genuine desire to help him, but also a sense of loss as she feels helpless dealing with the scale of pain that Gon must have gone through. Gon assures her that a face is just a ‘symbol of a person’ – it does not represent a person. Even if Song Jeong-hye has the same face in Korea, she is not his mother. Or is she? Was she also swopped across the worlds?

Gon makes a comment about how Tae-Eul’s world is still flat – perhaps contrasting the flow of time in Korea, as Tae-eul sees time as something linear from past to present, whereas for Gon, time functions as something more cyclical. Given his ability to move across worlds and experience time stops, we know time works in a more complicated manner for him.

While Tae-Eul helps Gon to ‘see’ his mother in Korea, we also see Gon helping Tae-Eul regarding the case of Lee Sang Do, who was found dead in the car trunk in Episode 2. She believes the answer can be found in his world. Immediately, Gon remembers seeing him in Corea, in the stables.

Ever since the last episode, Gon has realised that Lee Rim has been moving many people across both universes and thus he decides to leave Yeong here to protect the world of Corea and for him to capture Lee Rim.

As their lives get intertwined further, we discover another mystery as Gon reviews video clips and sees something that bewilders him at Haesong Book Store on 27 May 2022. We have the boy once again playing with the yo yo, which was alluded to earlier in Episode 8 as symbolising fate intervening to restore balance. The boy certainly plays a crucial role in determining the fate of our characters as we was also the one who caused Tae-Eul to drop her police badge. What is also mysterious is that Tae-eul was not wearing that outfit on that date (was it not Tae-Eul but Luna instead in that scene?). The mystery thickens and we can only wait to find out what actually happened.

I’m not fully sold on the romance between our OTP, but I’m liking how their relationship across worlds and across time is unfolding. It has been hinted at already, but we know at some point, Tae-Eul will have to make a choice about whether to abandon the world of Korea to join Gon in Corea. It will be a difficult choice to make for sure, but certainly, it’s not just a choice about love, but about the continuation of the eternal monarchy in that world of Corea.

2. Confrontation between Lee Gon and Lee Rim

As Lee Gon takes on Lee Rim in this episode, he goes into full battle mode and I’m loving it. We see his authoritative side come out fully in the first encounter over the phone as he reads the poem on the Four Tiger Sword, clearly warning Lee Rim of the power bestowed upon himself as king.

I really like how the show takes us through Lee Gon’s thought process as he attempts to solve this mystery and understand the parallel universes. He initially asks to review all video footage of where he has been and look out for a man who should be in his 70s. However, he starts to piece together how the portal stops one from aging and realises that Lee Rim used it to make himself immortal.

The show certainly knows how to build up towards its dramatic moments and that showdown towards the end was powerfully done as the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Lee Min Ho did a fantastic job with his delivery of that final “Lee Lim” at the end – so full of authority, power, aggression, anger – conveyed through his voice and his eyes. Truly amazing work there.

3. Lee Rim’s big plan unfolds further

I thought this deserves a separate point on its own, though related to the confrontation. As a villain, Lee Rim is pure evil and thus far we have seen his actions to be well-planned and well orchestrated, but in this episode, we learn that his plan with Shin Jae did not go as planned. He calls Shin Jae the wrong move he made and Tae-Eul, the move he has not made yet.

I found this very interesting, though I was disappointed we did not find out more in this episode. Based on what we have seen, we know Shin Jae is still very attached to the previous world and possibly blames Lee Gon for the death of his mum in the world of Corea. He still retains that memory very strongly of the day when he lost his mum and was brought over to Korea by Lee Rim. I’m hoping we get more back story into subsequent encounters between Lee Rim and Shin Jae – what was Lee Rim’s plan for Shin Jae and how did it all go wrong?

As for Tae-Eul, we already know he’s asked to locate Luna, so we know that there’s a bigger plan in store for her. Did Lee Rim already know from the outset that she was going to be Gon’s love interest? Was he aware that the person who appeared in the first episode was holding her police badge? I am sure Lee Rim is going to up his game, now that he knows his nephew is aware of his plan. Let’s hope he takes more concrete action soon as the show would definitely become more engaging if the action is further ramped up.

I’m also curious to know his bigger plan with Seo-Ryung – why is he approaching Seo-Ryung’s mother? Why is he sending her the newspapers – what does he want her to do? Is he pushing her to marry Gon quickly, so that Tae-Eul does not take on the throne of the Queen?

4. Yeong and Eun-Sop swop roles

Woo Do-Hwan continues to shine in this episode, providing much needed comic relief as he is able to play the role of Eun-Seob acting as Yeong so well. The way he immediately puts on his game face in Corea whenever someone else is present is just hilarious. Yeong acting as Eun-Seob is also fun and it was cute to see Na-Ri saying that Yeong’s hair was strange and that he was not as charming as Eun-Seob. The humour comes so naturally and is not forced at all, giving the show much-needed lightness in the midst of all the heavy-going events.

Final thoughts

While I’m liking the story and the intricately-crafted script, the execution of the show can certainly be improved.

Having watched so many K-dramas and product placements, this is the first show where I feel the placements hamper the show greatly and sometimes make the actors/actresses seem like they are in an advertisement. From start to end, we are bombarded with so many cheesy lines from Paris Baguette bread not needing jam, to the delivery app remembering Lee’s order and then to the kimchi tasting so good. It’s so poorly and obviously done.

Secondly, I do find that the big pieces of the story work well, but when it comes to plotting the episode, somehow the flow seems a little off at times and there’s a lack of energy in the show. The show is fascinating to analyse and there is so much to put together, but the experience of watching it is not as enjoyable as it could be. I do feel that we can afford to be given more answers as there are several pieces that have stalled, for example, Shin Jae’s story line.

With all that being said, I’m still enjoying the mysteries of the worlds created and how our characters are being built up. I am looking forward to tonight’s installment and hoping we get many more answers!

The King Eternal Monarch Episodes 1-7

Image taken from

The King Eternal Monarch opened with high expectations, given that it was Lee Min Ho’s first return after his national service and written by Kim Eun Sok (KES) who gave us excellent drams like Descendants of the Sun and Goblin. The show has also been mired in various controversies to date, in the first episode due to the Japan-like architecture and in the sixth episode due to its portrayal of Korean warships as Japanese. These controversies have been serious enough that the producer has had to issue public apologies.

Besides these bigger controversies, the show has also received rather mixed reviews but the general sentiment is that the romance between the king Lee Gon (Lee Min Ho) and detective Jang Tae-Eul (Kim Go Eun) is unconvincing. Moreover, as a show about parallel universes, both universes are very similar, taking place at the same time period. As such, it is sometimes difficult to tell which universe we are in and thus confusing.

Having watched 7 episodes of the show, I agree that the romance is unconvincing, but I’m not one who requires a good romance to enjoy a series. Besides the romance, I have to say I’m really enjoying this show. What I enjoy about KES’s dramas is her ambition and her desire to tell stories that are larger than life. That was clearly evident from Goblin, where she told a story that transcended not just time periods, but explored deep concepts of life, death, faith and spirituality. As a writer, she is stronger at planning her major plot points, which often fit together beautifully after a few episodes, but the individual episodes can sometimes feel slow or boring.

For The King, KES once again shows her ambitious storytelling as she attempts to tell a story about two parallel universes with different histories. We have modern day Republic of Korea, a world familiar to us where Tae-Eul lives, and a Kingdom of Corea – an alternate universe where the invasions and wars of the 20th century did not take place, and the King continues to rule. This is all revealed in the second episode, in a conversation that takes place at BBQ Olive Chicken, a very familiar venue from Goblin. In Korea, Prince Sohyeon passed on early, but in the Kingdom of Corea, Prince Sohyeon continued to live and stopped the Qing invasion.

The Kingdom of Corea thus serves as the writer’s fantasy of what the political landscape would be like if the monarchy still reigned and had a female prime-minister, Seo-ryung, played by Jung Eun-chae. The scenes in Corea are filled with pomp, clearly aimed to highly exalt the King and his work for the people. Lee Gon is at the forefront of conflict and a hero for the nation, a message that hammered in so strongly in the sixth episode with an intense battleship warfare sequence between Japan and Corea. For history and politics geeks, the show should be quite fascinating.

However, beyond just history, the show also brings both science and liberal arts. The parallel universe is sometimes explained using Einstein’s Quantum mechanics, but also sometimes described using literary allegory, namely Alice in Wonderland. There’s a repeated line about being beheaded, clearly referencing what the Queen of Spades says. But there’s also reference to Tae-Eul being Alice, going down the rabbit hole into an alternate fantastical world. We even get treated to some poetry from Azaleas by Kim Sowol,

At this point, you might think that this is a heavy-going show that can only be enjoyed at the cerebral level. But it certainly isn’t – there’s enough light banter, funny moments and characters as well as warm relationships to keep the story going. I definitely love Jang-mi, the bumbling new police officer, in the world of Korea and the Noh Ok-nam in Corea. Animal lovers will also be charmed by Maximus the horse and the adorable foal version that appeared briefly in the earlier episodes.

The central conflict between Lee Lim (played by Lee Jung-Jin) and Lee Gon is also strong enough to hold the story together. As the show opens, we see Lee Lim murdering Lee Gon’s father. He stabs Lee Gon too and as Lee Gon is on the verge of dying, a mysterious person appears, holding on to Tae-Eul’s police tag. As the mysterious person takes down Lee Lim’s men, suddenly the music of a flute, the Manpashikjeok, is heard and Lee Lim disappears. The world thinks that Lee Lim is dead, because his body is found. However, what has happened is that much earlier on, Lee Lim has already uncovered the parallel universe and he goes to Korea to kill the version of himself there, then brings the body back to Corea. Now, Lee Lim is recruiting his own army in the world of Korea, while also killing off the alternate versions of people there.

One way to enjoy “The King: Eternal Monarch” is to see it as a KES spending time to let us as viewers explore the worlds she has created. Having spent so much time to build the worlds, she’s just having fun now by allowing her characters cross from one universe to the next, orienting themselves to both worlds and getting into awkward, funny situations. In episode 7, Gon brings his guard Jeong over into Korea, and that first encounter between him and Eun-sop (his Korean version) is hilarious. KES is not just trying to tell a story; she’s bringing us into her parallel universes in her shows and the lush, sweeping landscape and beautiful cinematography certain helps to make this show a visual feast.

Just like Goblin, The King Eternal Monarch is not the kind of show that will keep you at the edge of your seat, but is the kind of show you sit down to and savour at a leisurely pace. It is by no means perfect, but certainly a drama that has the potential to be a masterpiece.