‘Kingdom’ Brings Korean Horror Back to Netflix
The Second Korean Netflix Original will combine two things young audiences all love: zombies and Medieval Times
One can’t deny that South Korea is the master of drama. Most people watch Korean dramas here and there, but they’ll never announce it. Let’s be real for a second—these works are the epitome of a guilty pleasure.
Something that I admire about Korean filmmaking is how versatile it is when producing quality films. One of the first Korean movies I’ve ever seen is the film Hope, which left me in tears. Following the trial and true story of a little girl who was raped, Lee Joon-ik’s film revealed that people in your community are capable of being nasty, as well as can get away with anything easily. It’s a different kind of horror movie that goes beyond its genre, and I’d argue that makes it more frightening. When you realize that the world is full of real monsters, it can be worse than watching a film with surreal creatures.
This doesn’t mean I think Korean horror films are prestige.
From getting hooked to favorites like The Host and Train to Busan, I learned that monster movies, both good and bad, have their charm. However, both of those films are compelling because they combined familiar elements with terrifying creatures (the giant fish-like creature in The Host was more adorable than terrifying…until it ate most of the city alive). Still, it’s important to watch these films with an open mind. It is also interesting to notice the importance of relationships within these movies because that is where the horror really lies.
Relationships aside and the jump scares put to rest, Korean horror becomes a tragedy. These films construct an emotionally powerful bond between the audience and the movie’s main characters—all to just throw it away at the last minute.
Why? Well, to make it sting.
Kingdom is the latest film that combines drama with horror. Inspired by Train to Busan‘s success, Kim Seong-Hun’s film grabs zombies and throws them into Korea that is set in Medieval times. The appeal of zombie movies is that they play around modernity. The outbreaks always cause an apocalypse, so it wouldn’t make any sense to put these films in a historical context because we are alive today…Unless our history avoids telling the “true” story.
The film stars Korean actress, Bae Doona, who plays a servant from the Joseon period. She finds herself on the imminent collapse of her feudal system, as their king dies and is replaced by the crowned prince, and that’s when an illness conquers the land. Next thing everyone knows, the king is back from the dead, and he’s hungry. The film will focus on the crowned prince’s struggle to rebuild the kingdom after the death of his father and a strange sickness that is causing cannibalism.
This film offers a new take on the zombie genre, which I appreciate. I have no doubt that it will be scarier than Train to Busan, which also managed to give its own spin on the monsters (by confining our characters to a narrow train). I hope that Kingdom explains its historical context by expanding its world and giving the audience a reason to believe that this was actually history—that would be the icing on the cake.
…Or who knows. Maybe the film concludes that there are still zombies out there now feeding on us today, but we choose to ignore it.
Kingdom premieres on Netflix Friday, January 25th.