Kingdom will probably rank top in the category of shows that confused potential viewers with its nomenclature. Without context, when the mention of ‘Kingdom’ is made, it will invariably point towards the epic-scale manga series by Yasuhisa Hara – which also coincidentally has one of the most ambitious art in contemporary manga, rivaling the likes of Miura’s work on Berserk. However, while Netflix’s Kingdom may share the name, or some of the aesthetics on a cursory glimpse, even, it is in no way related to Yasuhisa’s manga.
Kingdom, the manga, is a grim-dark and down-to-earth realistic look at its ancient Chinese setting during the Warring States Period, while Netflix’s show is an original production set in fifteenth-century Korea, and takes a sudden turn directly into the horror genre with fantasy and supernatural elements. The show made its debut on January 25, 2019, on Netflix.
Kingdom Cast: Who’s in it?
Kingdom will definitely come off as one of the biggest productions in recent years in terms of a star-studded cast, and it is no surprise given the high production value the show holds thanks to Netflix’s direct involvement in its making. For those of us not too familiar with the K-drama or South-East Asian entertainment scene in general, they will not come off as recognizable at a glance, but we do not exaggerate when we say that the stars in these show are nothing short of household names in South Korea and thereabouts. You may have figured out as much from the cover art if you have seen it, but for formality’s sake: the man at the forefront is Ju Ji-hoon, who has been landing one hit dramedy after the other in recent years, including Mask, Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds, The Spy Gone North, and Dark Figure of Crime.
Ju ji-hoon plays the protagonist in the show, next to Ryu Seung-ryong of Miracle in Cell No. 7 fame (also regarded as one of the most versatile actors who does supporting characters in K-drama), who plays Cho Hak-ju. There is a chance you will recognize Bae Doona as Seo-bi, because the veteran actress has starred in a Park Chan-wook film, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (2018).
The rest of the cast, including some recurring characters, includes Kim Sung-gyu as Yeong-shin, Kim Sang-ho as Moo-young, Heo Joon-ho as Hyun, Kim Hye-jun as Queen Cho, and Jung Suk-won as Cho Beom-il. Although the cast for season 2 has not been officially announced yet, we can safely surmise that at least Ju Ji-hoon, Ryu Seung-ryong, and Bae Doo-na will return as the actors representing the core leading figures of the show.
Kingdom Plot: What is it about?
On first look, Kingdom may seem like another period-piece that will settle itself over political intrigue, perhaps even militaristic conflict as a backdrop, enjoying its occasional clang of swords and battle of wits – but it is nothing of that sort. The trailer for the show itself chalks out on the forefront that the plot of the show is a heavily tweaked version of Oedipus Rex’s premise (although the comparison may be too far-fetched, given that it never sets itself up as a classical tragedy).