A rapidly spreading plague that resurrects the dead into zombies? Hints of a political conspiracy underway? Yes, please!
Since its debut in January 2019, Kingdom, the first original Korean series by Netflix, has been well received by critics and viewers alike, prompting a second season last March 2020. This hybrid South Korean political period horror thriller set in the Joseon Period follows the adventures of Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), son of a concubine and heir apparent to the King, who dies of smallpox. An herb known as the “resurrection plant” brings the King back to life as a ferocious zombie with an insatiable appetite for humans.
As the Queen Consort Cho (Kim Hye-jun) and the late King’s evil adviser block the Prince’s ascendancy to the throne for their own personal gain, the Prince attempts to stem the spread of the unusual pandemic while getting to the bottom of his father’s suspicious death. (Read: 5 Things to Know if You Want to Study in South Korea)
When Season 2 ends, the Queen is eaten alive, an antidote against zombification is uncovered, and a baby supposedly sired by the Queen is crowned king after seven years. Meanwhile, the former Crown Prince (who fakes his own death) and his allies enter a deserted village in the northern province, where they come face to face with Ashin (Jun Ji-hyun). Who is this mysterious woman, and why is she watching over people kept in wooden boxes?
All will be revealed on July 23 as Netflix airs Kingdom: Ashin of the North, a special feature-length episode that puts the spotlight on this new character.
Here’s what to know about this highly anticipated sidequel:
It stars Jun Ji-hyun
The enigmatic Ashin is portrayed by Jun Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun in English), the South Korean actress and model who delighted fans in such popular K-shows as My Sassy Girl (2001), Assassination (2015), and Legend of the Blue Sea (2016, with Lee Min-ho).
“There’s no need to mention what a brilliant actor she is. She’s put on a wonderful performance over the years and she is one of the most loved actresses in Korea,” said director Kim Seong-hun of the star. “When we shot in Jeju Island for the first time, not only myself but all the staff members instantly knew why she is receiving so much love from the global audience. You will be able to see more of her brilliant acting in Ashin of the North.” (Read: Meet the Stars of New Netflix Korean Movie, ‘Sweet & Sour’)
It focuses on two backstories
Early reports on the sidequel describe Ashin as an heiress to a northern Jurchen town. A young version of her (played by Kim Si-A of The House Of Us and Miss Baek fame) is seen in the trailer discovering a strange plant in the forest said to bring the dead back to life. Vengeance is also in the mind of this bow-and-arrow-wielding warrior who says “Make them shed blood…Please avenge them” towards the closing of the teaser video.
Curious about the forest herb that brings the dead back to life—only as ravenous, human-eating zombies? The trailer goes all the way back to when Ashin first tries to find the resurrection plant to cure her mother’s serious illness.
As the special episode explores the origins of the plant, more questions will be answered as the viewers are taken to the backstory of Ashin and where the resurrection plant really came from.
Introduction to Season 3
The sidequel will be helmed by screenwriter Kim Eun-hee and director Kim Seong-hun– who also both worked on the Kingdom series.
In an interview with Netflix, Seong-hun said the “Kingdom: Ashin of the North” “serves as a building block” on what to expect in the third season. (Read: LIST: All the Netflix Series Starring Park Shin-Hye)
With text by Gab Barron.