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[Review] The King: Eternal Monarch

This is my second kdrama in six months which would have been an impressive show of control if I had actually been controlling myself. The truth is I just didn’t have the time. After Fight for My Way, I started Pinocchio but left it after two episodes. And now this. The pairing was the most enticing factor. The rest I knew wouldn’t surprise or impress me much, and I was right.

It was the same crap about fate and past selves, though it was approached a bit differently which was a small relief. I think South Koreans would have digestive problems if 8/10 of their dramas don’t show some version of people having doppelgangers. Usually, it’s in the form of past lives, this time it was about the same people living in parallel worlds. Fine, do whatever you like. The rest of us will still gobble it all up like a bunch of lovesick morons.

Despite the fact that I love both of the main leads and their acting skills, they were lacking in chemistry somewhat. I can’t put a finger on it but something was missing there compared with other kdrama couples. Still, there’s Gum Jeun-di and Go Jun-Pyo so I guess this couple wasn’t too bad. What I’m trying to say is, sparks didn’t fly between them and on the rare occasion they managed to do so, the level wasn’t ‘off-the-charts’. I found Jeong Tae-Eul’s falling in love with Lee Gon to be quite sudden.

The show also seemed a lot similar to Goblin. Yes, the heroine is the same but so is the uber-cool-and-powerful male love interest who defies all odds and breaks all barriers in order to find his true love. Blegh. (The crawling-through-time-and-space-to-your-girl trope does wonders for the ovaries and feels but I’m capable of rational thought no matter what my hormones tell me; this trope is overdone). Also, there is one song whose opening notes are similar to the ones in a Goblin song.

The music was okay-ish too. They weren’t super catchy or dreamy, unlike Goblin, for example, whose soundtrack was chock full of spectacular songs.

The show had its moments, but few and far between. I found it unremarkable and not a little disappointing. When the plot fails, as it usually does in kdramas, I put all my faith in the romance which often does not. With this drama, I did the reverse, tried to invest in the love story and when that failed, turned to the story.

As epic as the concept of parallel dimensions is, infuriatingly it’s always set up as a background for a love story, and I HATE that. I’m not sure I followed all the little ‘details’ that the crossing between the worlds entailed. And while I accept my incompetence, I also know that in typical kdrama fashion, this mythology-thingy was sketchy, had holes, and was vague in places.

The love triangle. Yeaaaahhhh, not a fan. Second leads are so, so … wasted. They’re as caring and as good-looking as the main lead, and half the time they are also childhood buddies of the girl. This unrequited-feelings cliche does nothing for the overall plot except perhaps to add some drama. Kang Sin-Jae had a larger role to play in the story and it would have been the same if he was shown to act like Jeong Tae-Eul’s big brother.

The characters are mostly meh. The uncle is evil and that is that. A tall glass of water, but evil. Lee Gon is the typical kdrama alpha male: boring. Kang Sin-jae is his copy, only less important. Jeong Tae-eul is a police officer and that’s about the only thing that makes her different from some heroines. The characters are all boring, and the acting is also boring. I have massive respect and admiration for Woo Do-Hwan after this, though. Not only were his two portrayals polar opposites, their mannerisms, their way of speaking and carrying themselves, but the drama also provided clever opportunities for the actor to switch between roles and it was incredibly fun to watch.

From a cutie to wow 😍 the king eternal monarch | K-Drama Amino
The King Eternal Monarch Woo Dohwan GIF - TheKingEternalMonarch ...

And okay, the bromance was nice. This is one thing kdramas always nail.

Before I started the show, the title led me to believe that the Kingly stuff and the Royal Court whatever would take place in an old era like it happens usually. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Kingdom of Corea was in modern times.

The drama had an underwhelming wrap-up, to say the least. All of that planning, killing people from another world, and getting their doppelgangers to assume their identities, all that hard work! It came to naught too easily. There was no epic showdown. Once Lee Lim was caught, Lee Gon made quick work of him. The last episode was about the couple, which is another kdrama recurring thing. The baddies are defeated in the second last episode and the final episode is just about the boy and the girl. Sigh.

My Rating: 6.5/10

This KDrama Review is by Sara

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