The King: Eternal Monarch – Episode 1 Recap & Review

Two Worlds, One Purpose

After one episode it’s fair to say The King: Eternal Monarch is good. Really good. Although confusing to begin with as we jump between the different timelines, The King: Eternal Monarch does a wonderful job setting the scene for the season to come and doing so with enough wit, charisma and intrigue to keep you coming back for more. Whether it’ll be another smash hit like Crash Landing or not remains to be seen but there’s certainly scope here for this one to challenge that illustrious 2020 title!

We begin episode 1 of The King: Eternal Monarch with an intriguing story told by a man named Lee Lim, complete with blood stained hands and handcuffs in the police station. Only, his police file reads that he’s 70 but yet, he doesn’t look a day over 25. The reason for his happens to stem from a rivalry involving his brother and obtaining the Manpasikjeok, a fabled flute of old that allows one to transport between worlds.

We then cut across to the Kingdom of Corea, in Winter 1994. A group of armed guards, led by Lee Rim, show up and confront his Father. Lee Rim stabs King Lee Ho in the heart and takes the Four Tigers Sword for his own. Only, a young Lee Gon turns up and demands Lee Rim be imprisoned and given the maximum sentence. Soldiers surround him and it leads Lee Rim to stab the boy in the throat against a pillar.

Suddenly, a strange man arrives, leading to a big shootout. Lee Rim bemoans the lack of time left and hurries out the palace, leaving behind the shattered glass and two bodies.

In the morning, word gets out about the murder and Lee Gon is crowned King. Prince Buyeong arrives to oversee affairs and the subsequent manhunt for Lee Rim. Only, our antagonist makes his way into the forest with the shattered remnants of the flute, which conjures up a portal to a parallel world.

That world takes him to the Republic of Korea in 1994; a world that’s far different from his own and much more like the Korea of today. Instead of the current royal appointment is a President. In this reality Lee Rim is disabled and confined to a wheelchair while Lee Ho is a beggar in the streets. Killing his alternate self, Lee Rim watches as this reality’s Lee Gon arrives and sees firsthand what’s happened. Sensing this could be bad news, Korea’s Lee Gon is killed.

In the Kingdom of Corea, the new King is crowned as our wounded Lee Gon steps up and mourns his Father. As he weeps in the palace, he meets Jo Yeong and hands him the “Unbreakable Sword”, a token to help him feel better and forge their friendship together.

In the Republic meanwhile, Lee Rim’s body (the one from that world) is shown to his wife and she confirms his identity. Back home she thanks the heavens for his death, given how much of a burden he was to her. Only, listening from the other room is the imposter Lee Rim, who stands up from the wheelchair and towers over her as she cowers in the corner.

Lee Rim’s body washes up on shore in Corea and with it, a declaration of his death and confirmation that every bone in his body has been broken. As we then skip forward to the Fall of 2019, Lee Rim returns after an extended absence and hasn’t aged a day. King Lee Gon however, certainly has. He has no interest in getting married and instead, busies himself with his duties as King.

At the Rowing Boat competition, someone shoots at Lee Gon, prompting his Head Of Security, Jo Young, to protect him. Holding two suspects up at gunpoint, Lee Gon spies a man dressed in a black rabbit suit behind them and is immediately reminded of his favourite fairy tale – Alice In Wonderland. After chasing him through the streets, the rabbit manages to get away but it doesn’t stop Lee Gon from being weighed down by the issues that have haunted him all these years, a lot of which stemming from the traumatic moments involving his Father.

Back in the Republic Of Korea, Tae-Eul works with the police to root out a criminal at his house but doing so in a pretty brash way. However, this does bring with it its own rewards, as she uncovers a murder scene in the parking lot. Underhanded and with little manpower in the force, Tae-Eul and the others refuse to do overtime to handle this new workload.

Lee Gon meanwhile, finds the rabbit again and grabs his horse Maximus, charging through the forest to try and catch him. He doesn’t find the rabbit but does happen to stumble upon the portal to the parallel world. Racing forward, he’s transported into Korea where Tae-Eul asks him to park his horse by the side of the road. He doesn’t listen though and instead, looks around this new world some more. Tae-Eul confronts him face to face and, realizing he knows her face, hugs her tightly as he whispers that he’s found her. This is where episode 1 comes to a close.

The King: Eternal Monarch sets the scene beautifully in its first episode. With lots of nods to Alice In Wonderland (the white rabbit, the actual book and the looking glass being the more obvious ones) plus plenty of glimpses for how this one is likely to play out going forward, The King: Eternal Monarch does a wonderful job setting the foundations for what’s almost certainly going to be a really dramatic season ahead.

Given this is Lee Min-Ho’s first drama after returning from military service, he slots into the role of Lee-Gon perfectly and his counterpart, Lee Rim, is certainly shaping up to be a formidable opponent going forward. At a guess, I’d imagine the cloaked figure we saw during the early parts of the episode is Lee Rim himself, possibly finding a way to travel through time as well as parallel dimensions and causing a time paradox to occur where this always happens on a loop.

Of course, take this theory with a pinch of salt but it’s not all serious doom and gloom here either. There’s some wonderful bits of humour injected into this one and the music really helps heighten the tension too. Quite what tomorrow’s episode has in store for us remains to be seen but based on what we’ve seen here, if it’s even half as good as this premiere then we’re in for one heck of a treat.

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22 thoughts on “The King: Eternal Monarch – Episode 1 Recap & Review”

  1. The King: Eternal Monarch
    I totally loved this movie and have watched it several times, especially with Lee Min Ho acting in it. I am a huge fan of his and have been for years! In the first episode, when the young Prince Imperial Guem received the neck injury, apparently, the prince was stabbed in the neck by the flute on HIS left side. However the wound further into the movie shows it on the RIGHT side of his neck. OOPS….somebody missed that! It’s just me being a stickler for details……AGAIN….I totally love ALL of Lee Min Ho’s movies! Thank you for being so Great!

  2. I still cant u derstand why it seems that luna accompanied lee gon to see tae ul and why luna appeared at the back seat of tae ul’s car. I cant’t hahahaha

  3. @Monika – computers are already available in 1994. Remember it’s a parallel world they call. Don’t misconstrue it as a Joseon Era of some sort. It’s the same time, technology but different dimension in the universe. 🙂

  4. Oh oh ..I thought I was the one not understanding the story …but just for Lee min-hoo

  5. The morning after the murder in Winter 1994, why are people tapping on laptops??? Does this alternate universe have advanced technology in 1994?

  6. I am 30min into the first episode episode but I’m sorry to say that I don’t feel it at all. So far, most of the interactions between the characters seem so fake and unrealistic. It’s very noticeable with the kids, their lines are extremely unlikely to happen in real life
    Anyway, I keep watching. I hope it will get better

  7. @Ian Yap @Lime, agreed with both of you, it seems like suddenly the injury is on the right side now.

    @Greg Wheeler The person that died is Lee Ho, he is wearing the army green jacket. She seems to be talking to her disabled brother-in-law about her feeling. She knew he is there but what startled her is that he stands up.

  8. I think the savior is Lee Gon (Min ho) saving his younger self. Then he intentionally left the ID of (Go Eun) so that he can help him in the future to catch the killer (Lee Rim) Though the 2 worlds and timeline are bit confusing.
    Remember the series of “Tomorrow with you” they had the same vibe. Time Traveller/Parallel Universe etc.

  9. I think the saviour is future Lee Gon, saving his kid self ala Barry Allen / The Flash. Having the ID of the girl with him is maybe part of a bigger plan, something he purposely did so kid Lee Gon will eventually find the girl when he grows up. Going back to the past to preserve the future.

  10. The plot and characters are just confusing as they both exist two different worlds.. Still trying to figure out.. Ugghhh!! Hope would make more sense in the next episodes.

  11. @Ian Yap, you are not the only one who noticed it haha! I saw it too and had to see the scene again to make sure I was not hallucinating.

  12. Why no one is talking about lee gon’s wound that was inflicted by lee rim on the left side of his throat. Suddenly it was on the right side during his father’s funeral and as he grew old? Please tell me i’m not the only one who saw it.

  13. I also can’t sleep tonight. The king was killed in 1994 right? And someone came to save the crown prince (lee gon). Lee Gon took the ID. On the later part, they revealed that Jung Tae Ul was on it. But her birthday is May 1990. How come? All of those happened in 1994.

  14. thanks, but got really confused on this part “A group of armed guards, led by Lee Rim, show up and confront his Father. Lee Rim stabs King Lee Ho in the heart” should be his BROTHER**

  15. >In the Republic meanwhile, *Lee Rim’s body (the one from that world) is shown to his wife and she confirms his identity.
    >Should this be Lee Ho?

    Hey Antonnete, I’m not 100% sure to be honest! I’ve rewatched the scene several times and it appears that it is Lee Rim’s body. When the Lee Rim from Corea jumped over and killed him, I think this may explain why his wife was called into the station to identify him.

    As it was established earlier in the episode that Lee Rim of this reality was disabled, her being happy is a very cold way of basically being glad of not having to take care of him anymore. That was my interpretation anyway.

    If this is incorrect however and it definitely is Lee Ho, more than happy to get it corrected!

    -Greg W

  16. Ugh! Another Korean series with pretty boys paired with less-pretty girls. LOL! The lead man is prettier than his lead lady OMG! The story looks interesting but this part is such a bummer.

  17. Yes, the jump between the 2 different timelines was quite confusing.. and thank you for this review .. it helped me to understand it better and can’t wait to watch future episodes🙂

  18. I really thought the King was wounded at the left side…I’ve watch the episode again and again but when the King was older, the scar was on the right side. I wonder if I got it wrong or if I was right, was it intentional? I can’t sleep tonight thinking about it hahaha

  19. In the Republic meanwhile, *Lee Rim’s body (the one from that world) is shown to his wife and she confirms his identity.

    Should this be Lee Ho?

  20. Wow thank you so much for this fast recap, you know its not easy easy to concentrate while reading those sub, with this, it’s big help for those can’t understand hangul
    Much appreciated
    Again thank you

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