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Kim Seong-hun

Posted on March 11, 2020

The Zombies of Kingdom are Better, Faster, Stronger

Guest Post

I happened upon Kingdom during a particularly gloomy Saturday afternoon. It was in some post-lunch delirium that I picked it out from one of Netflix’s algorithm-generated line-ups, titled “Korean Thrillers”—generated entirely from my recent viewing of Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan—fully intending on drifting into my afternoon siesta during the opening credits. Little did I know that 56 fraught minutes later I’d be wide, wide awake. Kingdom demands your attention: set against the backdrop of Korea’s Joseon dynastic kingdom (for which the show is named), this show breathes fresh air into an over-saturated zombie sub-genre.

I’ll try and give as little away as I am able in this review. Fortunately, Kingdom isn’t a show that really lends itself to spoilers. The show’s full force is felt in its technical mastery of the horror genre, having perfected the fine balance between excruciatingly drawn-out anticipatory tension and the inevitable—but nevertheless effective—jump scare. Kingdom holds you in its affective clutches for 50ish minutes, 6 times in a row. At least, that’s how I watched it: all in one sitting. Much of the show’s special sauce comes from its return to folklore as the basis for the supernatural, suggesting that evil is produced through contravention of the natural order, or faith, or the sins of man. Yet Kingdom’s undead are anything but mythological: they are political, and assertively so, about which viewers are left with little doubt. Read more

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