Visually impressive and rather complex, The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 1 gets off to an impressive start, introducing us to parallel worlds.
This recap and breakdown of Netflix Korean series The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.
How does The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 1 open up?
The opening episode opens up with a story about King Sinmun, who came across a magical object called the Manpasikjeok — apparently, it is a myth. It then cuts to Lee Lim, who looks young, but apparently is 70 and was born in 1951 — it’s 2020. The investigator asks Lee Lim how he looks so young. Lee Lim explains that he got his hand on the Manpasikjeok and admits to killing his brother to get the object for not using it to its full ability.
Yes, Lee Lim sounds like a psychopath.
We are then given further context.
The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 1 then cuts to the Kingdom of Corea, Winter of 1994. Prince Imperial Geum, Lee Lim is looking at the Four Tiger Sword. With his men, he heads to the King who seems bemused that his brother has shown up. Lee Lim raises his sword to the king, instantly committing treason, and kills him; he takes the Manpasikjeok off him. The King’s son enters and sees what happens and starts crying at his dead father. Lee Lim mocks the child, calling him an orphan.
The child states this is treason and picks up a sword and hits the Manpasikjeok. A furious Lee Lim strangles the child, making him bleed, but then someone saves him by attacking Lee Lim’s men, so Lee Lim has to flee. The child still has a pulse. It’s all over the news that the King has been killed by the Prince Imperial Geum and a new King must take his place.
Understandably there’s a massive search for Lee Lim.
So Lee Lim heads to the other world?
Yes, Lee Lim is in some woods and he opens up the portal — he enters the Republic of Korea. Someone recognizes him as Lee Lim and is confused — it’s Lee Lim’s alternate younger half-brother in the parallel universe. Lee Lim visits his parallel self who is severely disabled and kills him. A young boy walks in and wonders how his father is standing but then sees his real dead father in the corner.
The wife of the alternate Lee Lim returns home and learns of her husband’s death. She talks to herself hysterically while washing up — she seems happy that he’s finally dead and that he is not a burden. Lee Lim then approaches her.
So there’s now a new King in the Kingdom of Corea?
Yes, The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 1 tells us that Lee Gon (the son) is presented as the King of the Kingdom of Corea. Lee Gon mourns publically but a little boy keeps bugging and interrupting his grieving. Afterward, Lee Gon is praised for completing the funeral process and then he breaks down into proper tears. The little boy returns and cries with him — Jo Yeong is his name and Lee Gon gives him a toy sword.
And then The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 1 heads into the future?
Yes, there’s no time to breathe in the opening episode. Prime Minister Koo wants to meet an older King Lee Gon. She trades niceties and asks him to wave hands as the cameras are watching. Koo explains that the country is in peace as her report details. The King cuts the meeting short and starts his busy routine; he reads to a group of children in front of the press and then he participates in a rowing team and obviously, winning. At the rowing event, there’s a disturbance in the crowd. which alerts security.
King Lee Gon sees someone in the corner of his eye and chases after them through the streets but loses that person. He tells Jo Yeong (who is chief security now) that he saw the white rabbit with the clock.
Who is the white rabbit with the clock?
Well, King Lee Gon tells Jo Yeong that its been 25 years and he’s still never managed to meet his savior from the day his father was killed. He wonders why his savior has never come to meet him. He opens up an old children’s book and sees an ID for Jeong Tae-eul from the national police agency. He talks to himself, stating he’s older than her now.
So I’m guessing the white rabbit with the clock is Jeong Tae-eul.
Are we introduced to Jeong Tae-uel?
Yes, but possibly the parallel version of her in the Republic of Korea. She’s a cop in this world too, showing a good swivel kick on the way to a murder case by a possible suspect of Kim Bok-man who runs an illegal gambling website.
How does The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 1 end?
In the Kingdom of Corea, King Lee Gon sees the white rabbit with a clock again and chases after this person. But suddenly, in the woods, he comes across a portal. He looks at his sword and understands what is potentially happening. He rides through the portal with his horse. While he does this, Lee Lim notices a small shift in time.
Suddenly, in the Republic of Korea, Jeong Tae-eul sees a man on a horse ride through the traffic and tells him to stop. King Lee Gon looks taken back by the city. He looks behind him and sees the alternate Jeong Tae-eul and he is suddenly alarmed. She proves she is a police officer, so Lee Gon gets off his horse, walks right up to her, checks her ID and says, “I’ve finally met you Lieutenant Tae-eul,” hugging her.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.