Korean Narrative: Medieval Korean Pandemic

Su Un Taeh Kim

When the global pandemic COVID-19 seemed to be under control in South Korea, recent appearances of the virus in Seoul proves that it’s still not safe to roam around the streets and parks. As we are once again trapped in our homes, it seems adequate to recommend an interesting Netflix series to enjoy. The Netflix original ‘Kingdom’ is a Korean-made series on the mysterious zombie uprisings set during the 16th century Joseon Dynasty.

 While yet another ‘zombie’ series might sound dull and obvious concerning the multitudes of zombie films and TV series already on Netflix, the ‘Kingdom’ is a fresh entry with never-seen horror scenarios alongside a Korean historical scent. Although the series is with some pretty hard-core violent and gore content proving its zombie nature, the combination of political schemes and plots like GoT(Games of Thrones) and the clashes between social classes similar to Parasite is the ingredient behind the huge success of the series.

Rather than being full of bloody flesh ripping scenes, the ‘Kingdom’ is full of suspense centered around the actions and minds of the ‘people’ and the differences in behavior from royalty to the low-class mob. Thus, even though the set ‘enemy’ in the series is the monstrous zombies, watching 2 series of ‘Kingdom’ makes us think of who the actual ‘enemy’ is besides the obvious bloodthirsty creatures. The multi-dimensional motives behind the character’s action gives the audience a hard time establishing the good and the bad and actually is the reason ‘Kingdom’ is so interesting to watch.

Besides the complicated character plots, the ‘Kingdom’ is the first medieval zombie series in Netflix and is proving to be gateway for foreigners to experience the Korean medieval history with its intriguing customs and culture. Watchers from the west are fascinated with the traditional hats(Gat: 갓). Koreans wore during the time period alongside the beautiful silk dresses and gowns worn by the aristocratic characters in the series.

So, if you are yet again bored and stuck in your bed, try some ‘Kingdom’ and travel to the medieval Korea going through a horrific pandemic. Maybe you’ll learn a lesson or two on how to overcome the modern pandemic going wild around you or just enjoy the fascinating clashes and plots of characters with the coolest hats in the block. 

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