The most hyped show of the year has arrived! At least I cannot think of a more hyped show than this one considering it is my the writer juggernaut Kim Eun-sook (Mr. Sunshine, Goblin, Descendants of the Sun, Heirs, Secret Garden, etc.). She is a super hit maker and I don’t expect this show to be any different, especially since she is collaborating with the director of Descendants of the Sun again. So this drama should be pretty, y’all.
It is also the return of Lee Min-ho in his first role from the military and the first drama that Kim Go-eun has been in since Goblin. So this is a huge drama for the year star wise.
This drama was also pushed up to premier this month instead of sometime this summer so SBS must have high hopes for it to take over the current ratings scape. it wasn’t for The World of the Married eating up all the ratings, then I would think that would be true.
Caution: Be wary of typos
How to Watch: Netflix
Shorthand Character Chart: coming up
How we do this: This live recap will be in two parts and we segment each post around every 10 minutes. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later depending on the scene. There will be typos which we have fantasies of fixing once the episode finishes airing. Also, if there is a preview then we will try and translate it. Look for that at the bottom or on a separate post!
KOREAN DRAMA THE KING: ETERNAL MONARCH EPISODE 1 – PART 1
We open with a close up image of bamboo. Dew is on several bamboo shoots. The camera starts to zoom out to show more of the bamboo until we see a bamboo forest.
VO – This story begins from the Shilah Dynasty (like 1500 years ago). The history books say that in the spring of the 682 the King got a bamboo pipe from the Dragon god of the Eastern Sea.
The King looks at this pipe inside the palace in the trophy room. The pipe is in the center as the most prized possession.
VO – When the King lows this pipe, enemies will retreat and it will cure disease and dry land will have rain. and the wind will stop and the waves will calm down.
We see up close of this pipe that is made of bamboo and looks very dark and old and resilient.
Then we cut in on a man talking. he has blood splattered on his face. His name is Lee Rim.
LR – The King called it Man-pa-shik-tuk and made it a National treasure.
He leans in and locks his fingers.
LR – Of course to non-believers, it is just a legend.
He is talking to two people. One is Jang Tae-eul and the other is Kang Shin-jae. They are both detectives and this man is being interrogated in a room.
SJ – Name, Lee Rim, born 1951 in February. Right now he is 70 years old.
But Lee Rim looks a lot younger than that. He looks like he is in his 40s. Shin-jae tells him to explain it to him, you do not look 70. Lee Rim says he is 70 as of this year. I do not get old since winter 1994. My time runs very slowly now, not like you guys.
Chin-jae asks him why? Lee Rim tells him that he got the pipe from his brother who had it but did not believe it.
TE – Did you kill him? Your brother?
LR – The pipe was exposed to the public only once in the last 20 years. It was for the countries peace and well being.
TE – Tell me yes or no. Did you kill your brother?
LR – Yes, I did. My brother who had everything and became the King only because he was born as the proper son. He was my step brother. Even though he had the world in his hands, he did not do anything. He didn’t even know the pipe he had in his possession was the world itself.
The camera cuts to the bamboo forest again and we see two large stones facing each other. They look like the relics of a gate. Lee Gon is on a horse looking at this gate.
VO – In exact terms, it is two different worlds. Of course I knew that one day my nephew would face the legend.
Lee Gon looks at the gate. He is in full Royal attire and holds his sword.
WINTER 1994, KOREA EMPIRE
Lee Rim goes to the trophy room and opens a sword from a case. He unsheaths it partially. There are Chinese characters written on it. A man comes up behind him and tells him that the King is in the library. This man looks like right hand man.
Lee Rim tells him, he has something he wants from there.
He walks to the Kings room. Everything is in slow motion as his people shoot the Kings guards. Blood splatters all over the old relics in this room.
The men are in suits and walk all the way up to the King who is putting the pipe back inside the case. This is Emperor Lee Ho. He asks what this all is!
Lee Rim walks up and tells him that they are helping him. The Emperor asks his hyung-nim what he is doing? Don’t do this. Just put it down, this is a coup.
Lee Rim has blood all over him. He pulls out his sword and tells him that to him it is a coup, but I have this to get something bugger. He takes out his sword.
The Emperor asks him if he worried about the gods!
Lee Rim walks right up to him and says, god punishment? I will become the one that gives the gods punishment. My brother, it is wrong that gods made humans. Weak people made gods.
He shoves the sword into the body of his brother, the Emperor. Then he pulls it out unmercilessly. His brother falls. He is holding the key to the chamber housing the pipe in his hands. Lee Rim takes the key and opens the case.
Then the little boy comes walking in. He is half sleep and blood is all over his feet and pajama bottoms. He kind of wakes up and sees his father almost dead on the ground. He runs to him crying.
Lee Rim tells his nephew that he is sorry he is orphaned now. The prince grabs the sword and lifts it up. it is heavy for him. But he pulls it and swings it at Lee Rim. Lee Rim asks if he thinks he can hurt him with that?
The boy swings the sword atLee Rim, butting the pipe in half. Lee Rim’s blood falls onto the pipe. The boy then tells all the royal guards to arrest Lee Rim! Punish him with the highest sentence following the law!
Le Rim tells him that he looks like a prince for the first time, my nephew. All the men hold their guns to the prince and ask Lee Rim for his order.
In the hallway, a mystery man comes up and grabs one of the dead men’s guns.
Inside the room, Lee Rim says he will do it himself. He pushes his nephew against the wall and tells him that he has hidden his desire and he grabbed people that could help him. He hasn’t even breathed, waiting for this moment to kill his stupid father and his stupid brother to die.
He starts to dig the pipe into his neck and tells him that he is a stupid brat that ruined this moment! The blood oozes into the pipe as well. The nephew struggles to stay awake and pus him off, but he passes out.
Suddenly the stained glass above the room crashes to the floor and the mystery man comes walking inside from the front.
The mens tarts to try and shoot him, but he is too fast for them and takes them all out one by one. But the right hand man protects Lee Rim from getting shot and gets hit int he shoulder himself.
The other guards come in, the mystery man has to get out of there. The right hand man tells Lee Rim that he cannot run away from the palace.
The little boy looks at the mystery man shooting everyone. Then he passes out completely. Lee Rim tells his people that they have to run away.
The mystery man goes up to the little boy and checks his pulse. The radio says that there is an emergency! All the royal guards go to the library! The little boy pulls the name tag in his semi conscious state and it falls to the ground. He grips it unconsciously. It looks like the name tag says Jung Tae-eul.
A man yells on the rooftop of the palace that the King is dead. The nation is in mourning. Everyone from busses to shops to everywhere wears black. They all know that Lee Rim’s Royalty is revoked. They will follow the next heir.
Everything start to get set up to have Lee Gon the new King.
A man gets off the plane, his name is Lee Jong-in. He is a Royal family elder in his mid 70s. He might be the fathers cousin. Everyone is there to greet him from the palace and the government.
No Ok-nam, the head maid is there to great him. She walks with him.
JI – The prince woke up? I heard that the injury on his neck is very deep.
Nam – It is bad timing for you to worry about the princes health, just in case people suspect your motives.
JI – Whether I mention it or not, whoever wants to talk about it will talk about it. Did you find Lee Rim?
Nam – As long as he is in Busan, we will find him.
JI – I hope that happens, but this coup was carefully planned. So he should have made a plan to get out.
Lee Rim stumbles through the bamboo forest. He looks like he can barely walk another step. He holds the broken pipe in his hands and then looks in front of him.
But a noise sounds, thunder claps, and two stone pillars appear behind him. He turns around and looks at them. In-between the pillars the space starts to crack like a mirror is breaking.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA, WINTER 1994
Lee Rim appears on the streets of Seoul. It is Seoul from 1994. he looks around, things look different so he is a little confused. But he is wearing a suit so he fits in perfectly. The only thing off is that he has blood splattered on his shirt.
He wonders, what is this? The Republic of Korea?
He goes to a booth to look at the newspapers. A man knocks into him and falls to the ground. Then he stands up to curse at Lee Rim about hitting him.
This guy is the King that died! But in this world he is a common thug. However he recognizes Lee Rim as his brother. Lee Rim says he knows him, do you know me? The thug is confused and asks how he is out like this? How can you? What is going on?
Lee Rim asks if he is his step brother?
The man says, how can I not be? How can you walk like this, hyung?
Lee Rim pushes him off of him and then pulls the pipe out of his jacket and looks around. He tells himself that he was right, this is the Republic of Korea so, where is your brother?
Lee Rim goes to the brothers place. The brother is an invalid and cannot get out of his wheelchair. He cannot talk either and it looks like he can barely move.
LR – you live lowly like this? Okay, you and me are very similar. But you are me are not similar. I am you from a different world.
He walks behind him.
LR – But I am very different from you.
He puts his hand on his shoulder.
LR – My blood is more noble than yours.
He kills him quickly.
But then the little prince comes in. He is a normal kid in this world. He sees his uncle and asks how he can stand? But then he sees his uncle behind this gut that looks so much like his uncle.
The boy grabs something to swing at him just like he did in the alternate world.
LR – You saw something that you should not have seen in this world also. And you hold things that you should not hold in this world.
Lee Rim drops a frame of a photo he is holding and then walks to the boy.
KINGDOM OF KOREA
We now have the ceremony for the third emperor of the Kingdom of Korea. It is the coronation ceremony.
The little prince is being crowned and is in all the proper attire with full pomp and circumstance of the Royal Kingdom. He walks to the throne and everyone stands to watch. And there are a ton of people here from other nations as well as Korea.
The prince sits at the throne. Everyone cheers for him. One of the people is a little boy and his military father.
The news lets us all know that the little King has to cry for 26 days following the Royal customs.
So we cut to the little King crying on his knees, or more like wailing Aigoooo. Over and over again in the courtyard of the palace while everyone watches him. The Royal nurse looks like she is in pain from watching.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
At the police station, the wife of the thug version of the King has to go to the police station to identify her husband. They tell her that it was a hit and run. She does not look sad at all and says that she came from work. I identified him so can I leave?
The officer is a bit taken aback but says that she can take him tomorrow. She asks, well I heard that if I sign a document then the government can burn him.
She goes home and sits at the table. She looks over and sees that at least her husband ate and left. She takes a swig of one of the shot glasses and then starts to clean up. Lee Rim is pretending to be the brother in the seat behind her.
The wife starts to clean and then starts to laugh hysterically as if this is the best thing that has happened to her. She starts to talk to herself and says that maybe God really exists. He died. I wished it every day for him to just go out and die. I really thought either I would kill him or they would kill me. But…. someone killed him for me….*giggles*….the government will burn him so with my son I ~.
But then the Lee Rim stands up and starts to walk toward her. She is shocked and falls to the ground.
KINGDOM OF KOREA
The little King is still crying on the ground as he has to due to custom. The general’s son goes to give him something to eat. But the little King says he doesn’t want it.
The general looks to the head maid and says that it might not work. But the head maid says that this is actually their plan. Watch it a little longer.
Later on, the little King studies math in the library. he is writing on the chalk board, solving a problem when the generals son goes up to him again. This kids name is Jo Young. he is a pretty happy go lucky kid.
The Little King asks how he snuck in. Jo Young asks if all this is his? Lee Gon says it is. Go away. The other kid says he is lying. The King asks, what is your father doing! (He says this in a Busan accent, that is from the Chingu movie). The little boy tells him, your fathers friend (in Busan accent also). So maybe they are instant friend now.
Later on, Lee Gon walks outside in the snow and dark with the elders of the family and burn his fathers King clothes that he died in.
He and the head maid go back inside. She says that the funeral has finally ended. You have finished up your first official work well.
Lee Gon falls to his knees and starts to cry like the little boy he is. He wails, I want to see appa! The head nurse cries right along side him and comforts him.
Little Young comes in as well and starts crying and asks why hyung is crying and sits and cries a lot Which actually makes Lee Gon stop crying. Gon goes out and gives Young a light saber sword and tells him to stop crying. From now on you are the best swordsman in the world.
Yong – What does that mean?
Gon – What is your name?
Young – Jo Young, what about you hyung?
Gon – I am the Emperor of the Kingdom of Korea, Lee Gon.
Yong – Okay….thank you for this.
He takes the sword lightsaber and they appear to be besties.
Then the body of a man with the same ring that Rim has turns up in the ocean.
In the palace, the head maid, Nam, goes to the head doctor ands ays that this is a secret, so you should do the autopsy. The doctor says that the guard said it was a suicide. The head nurse says that is the guess. Maybe he had nowhere to go. Maybe he was in the waves, all his body parts are broken.
The elder doctor says that it should not be suicide. He should have been killed by the Royal guards, not suicide. It means that I should be a bad doctor for the stability of the empire and the emperor, okay?
She looks shocked but says yes, your highness.
In the salt fields, the right hand man is working and tending to his shoulder wound and sees the news that Lee Rim died. he throws the water and starts to go back to work.
He works in the salt water farm all day and all night (wow how time changes is super cool, it is like a ticking clock but the light also shines pinkish).
Then Rim comes back. The right hand man is an old man now. He sees Lee Rim, still looking young, and bows to his feet.
Man – Your highness, you are still alive?
LR – You believed it right?
Man – Yes I believed you were alive.
He looks up at him.
Man – How can you still look the same? it has been 19 years. How are you exactly the same?
LR – Good job surviving. From now on I will show you a different world.
Man – Yes, your highness.
He bows to him and Lee Rim looks off into the sunset.