Netflix’s “The King: Eternal Monarch” has begun its reign over K-drama streaming, with one episode dropping every Friday and Saturday. Super will devote itself to make sure you’re fully informed about each episode, so Super’s Ruel S. De Vera and Ruth L. Navarra will recap and break down every episode for you as soon as it comes out. Make way for the king!
Tae-eul is weirded out by Lee Gon’s decision to ask her to become his queen, refusing to believe anything he says despite his earnestness. Tae-eul challenges him to prove he can travel between worlds and they go to the forest, but because he does not have the half of the magic flute, it does work.
He does, however, figure out how it does work and he starts to plan in his head. She just thinks he’s deluded and that they’ve wasted their time. In the cold, Lee Gon puts his coat on Tae-eul.
In a flashback, Shinjae remembers when Tae-eul began training him in taekwondo. Back in the present, Shin-jae notices Lee Gon’s sadle; the symbol on it (the royal seal of Corea) resembles the symbol he found in the crime scene that he’s drawn on his notebook.
Lady Noh is interviewing Syeung-a for the royal public affairs job. She gets the job because Lady Noh turns out to be a fan of Syeung-a’s fan fiction, making something from nothing.
Prime Minister Koo is in her car when she recalls a conversation with the king about politics and good intentions. It’s clear they have been clashing. In the cabinet meeting, the cabinet members demand to know why she has vetoed a proposed salary increase and she says it is because she wants the politicians to look like they care about the people.
At the police station, they are talking about how Shin-jae’s mother has a bad gambling habit and because of this, Shin-jae’s salary has been seized again. The investigation of the junk dealer’s death continues. The new member of the team arrives, handcuffed to a suspect.
The team mistakes the ne detective for the suspect because of how he dresses. His name is Jang Michael, Jangmi for short. He’s very earnest and says it has been his dream to do this. His name means “rose” in Hanggul.
They visit scrapyard after scrapyard until they find the crowbar they suspect is the murder weapon. Gangsters attempt to bribe Shin-jae but he refuses to accept the bribe, becoming angry and threatening the gangsters.
In a flashback, Shin-jae is now the one teaching kids, but his stern, strict manner scares the children, so Do-in asks him to stop teaching. Knowing Shin-jae would become a gangster in left without anything to do, Do-in tells him to go to police academy.
Back in the present, the crowbar has been given to forensics. Tae-eul receives a call on her landline. It’s Lee Gon. Eun-sup is at the supermarket with Lee Gon, complaining that Tae-eul put him in handcuffs for giving Lee Gon her office number. He appoints Eun-sup chief of his royal guard in this world with the name, “Unbreakable Sword.” So now the same person has the same appointment and moniker on both worlds.
Lady Nohis meeting with the staff, and they’re worried that people will start speculating about the king’s absence. Syueng-a has an idea and she meets Captain Jo. She asks for his phone and finds a photo of Captain Jo and the king in military dress.
This photo is uploaded and people in Busan, where the palace is, start shipping the two. Lady Noh finds the Tae-eul ID and asks Captain Jo to find out everything about her. Captain Jo said the king had already asked him and they couldn’t find anything about her. Lady Noh said she asked him not to, but Lee Gon never gave up. Jo says Tae-eul is not Lee Gon’s type; she’s not smart enough.
Tae-eul can’t get through to Shin-jae’s phone. The DNA results are back and Lee Gon does not show up in any database. She gets a call from the Korean Racing Authority who ask to see Maximus because he is a rare horse from Spain and they can’t understand how such a horse can be in Korea.
She is drinking with Lee Gon and shows him what an MSD, the mix of soju and beer. She’s frustrated because everything he said before is turning out true despite her efforts at debunking them. He has figured out how the door to Corea works.
He explains how and why the palace is in Busan and the government in Seoul. It turns out the statue of Admiral Yin-shin, found in Seoul in Korea, is in Busan in Corea, standing guard to warn enemy Japan from invading across the sea. “I’m missed you for 25 years,” he starts. “Shut up,” she interrupts him. “You’ll be beheaded for that,” he answers.
Jo is looking at the king’s study, wondering where he has gone. He remembers that the king kept looking at the autopsy performed by Prince Buyeong on the corpose of the man identified as Lee Lim. The king theorizes that the body, though it has the same DNA as Lee Lim, was only used to fake his death. At Eosu Bookstore, a boy is playing with a yoyo outside when a woman arrives.
It’s raining hard and thunder crashes. Lee Gon feels a terrible pain in this left shoulder and he can see the scars lighting up even as he sees flashes of the forest. The next day, Prime Minister Ko is walking through a market when she turns into a small stall, where a woman is chopping food.
This is her mother, and she berates her, saying she should only pretend to cook. She has a room just beyond the stall, and it appears to be her childhood bedroom. The Prime Minister final relaxes on the bed and asks for some food. She sees and umbrella there and asks what that it is. Her mother says a customer left it and would be coming back for it. We can see it is Lee Lim’s umbrella.
Later, Lee Lim can be seen walking on the pier. He is back.
Tae-eul’s car breaks down. She dials her father’s school and Lee Gon picks up; it turns out he’s been going there since he arrived in this world. Just as he arrives, Lee Gon sees that time has once again stopped, giving him a chance to appreciate Tae-eul’s beauty. She leaves her car in his care as she leaves on foot. He’s figured out that time stops when someone uses the door—meaning Lee Lim has used it again. “Thanks to that, I have seen something beautiful.”
Lee Lim walks into the bookstore. He opens a book and finds a note left for him. “The king left the palace,” it read. He has a mole in the palace. The proprietor walks up to him and clearly knows who he is. “The world is peaceful, so I couldn’t feel the time passing by,” Lee Lim says. The proprietor confirms their coconspirators have been coming to the bookstore at the agreed time.
Lee Gon is driving Tae-eul’s car to the forest. This time, he has the flute. The door between the obelisks appears. He’s figured out that Lee Lim is not only still alive but is using the half of the flute to travel between the worlds.
Lee Lim meets his loyal soldiers.
The Violent Crimes Squad Three celebrates that the DNA on the crowbar has come back positive meaning their suspect did indeed kill the hardware store owner. Tae-eul isn’t convinced; it’s too convenient, she says. She makes a refernce to the crime show “Signal,” pretending to be the character Jin-woong, even making the buzz of the walkie talkie.
She and Shin-jae will work this angle. At the junk shop, Tae-eul and Shin-jae find a burner phone. The victim’s wife isn’t answering Tae-eul’s calls. Just then, they are confronted by more gangsters, Shin-jae’s former classmates whom he sent to jail, who want to beat up Shin-jae.
Tae-eul intends to fight alongside him. It turns out Lee Gon is also there. He says he will not fight but just watch. The fight begins, and Shin-jae and Tae-eul handle themselves well, until the gangster pulls out a knife.
Lee Gon then intervenes and proceeds to knock out all of the attackers by himself. “I hate it when people touch me,” he says. They nurse their wounds at the convenience store as the two guys kind of stand off for her attention. Lee Gon is annoyed because Shin-jae bought twin popsies—remember those?—and thus he is left out.
Lee Gon is saying goodbye, telling Tae-eul he is going back to his world. “I left the palace empty for too long, and you didn’t share the ice cream with me.” He says he knew how to go back, but he just didn’t want to yet. She brushes him off, clearly not believing him. Lee Gon stares after her.
Shin-jae drives Lee Gon to Tae-eul’s house where the detective asks him about the symbol on the saddle. Lee Gon says there is no way Shin-jae could have seen the symbol. When Lee Gon tells him that he is king of another world and the symbol—and saddle—were from there, Shin-jae just walks away in exasperation. At the station, Tae-eul pleads with the backed-up crime lab to take a look at the data on the burner phone.
At the grocery store, Na-ri is telling Tae-eul that she lent Lee Gon money because he was checking out of his hotel. Na-ri says she sincerely believes what Lee Gon says. Tae-eul is slowly realizing that Lee Gon may be serious about the whole going back to his world thing.
Lee Gon is looking at a book case and checks “Azaleas: Selected Poems of Kim So-wol.” He reads one of the poems:
Oh, shattered name
Oh, the name that parted in the air
Oh, the name without an owner
The name I will die calling
I could not finish the last words
I had in my heart
The one I loved
Kim So-wol is a real person, one of the greatest Korean writers. This poem is called “Invocation for the Dead.”
We hear Lady Noh ’s voice reading it. Tae-eul arrives home to see Maximus is no longer there. Lee Gon is riding Maximus back to the forest. Once there, he rides through the door
Ruey: After the last episode, which was remarkably slow, things have picked up considerably on all fronts. They did something I didn’t expect, which is make travel between the worlds relatively convenient, meaning it can be done multiple times in an episode, as it is here. I had expected it would be some kind of obstacle but instead it is a story device. We get character building moments for both Shin-jae and Prime Minister Ko, both of whom have obviously escaped difficult pasts to get to where they are. This clearly establishes back stories and story mechanics moving forward, answering some questions and setting up some more. Ruthie, what did you think of this episode?
Ruthie: I had goosebumps when time stopped for Gon. Why stop at that moment? Is time connected to their thoughts? Is it random? Did it stop because Gon’s heart skipped a bit? The autumn scene with all the maple leaves falling is very Goblin-y.
Ruey: The show has started shifted between the two worlds without warning, and I find it very hard to keep up with in which world we are in. It is probably deliberate, but it may be a little too fast. Maybe they can give us some kind of visual cue so we can tell immediately in which world we’re in? On the Fox sci-fi show “Fringe,” which was also about parallel worlds, they used color, with one world’s palette being more saturated than the other, so you could see right away. Ruthie, do you think the confusing world-shifting is something they’re doing on purpose?
Ruthie: I think most of the confusion comes in whenever Lee Lim is on the screen. Besides Gon, he’s the only one who can move to the two worlds freely. But understanding his motivation can give you clues of where he is.
Aside from that, I take my visual clues from the buildings and the billboards. If it’s a huge courtyard in the middle of tall buildings, it has to be Corea. Also, the top view of the Kingdom often looks superimposed.
Ruey: We see more development for Kim Go-eun’s Tae-eul who seems to be warming up to Lee Gon just a little bit more. She still displays more rough edges than we’re used to, but it’s endearing. We can also see that the serious Taekwondo training she had is paying off as we get another great kick from Go-eun during the fight. You can clearly see that’s her. We got a very good look at her during the time stop sequence. We can also see the show’s visual vocabulary, as her tying her hair is a sign that she is about to make a decision or take an action. Ruthie, what did you think of Tae-eul this episode?
Ruthie: I know. And you know what’s cute about that scene? Gon is not an idiot! He immediately recognized what that tying of her hair into a pony means.
I feel bad that Go-eun is getting criticized for her looks. People are saying that she got lucky to have handsome leading men. I think it’s unfair and shallow especially because she has more talent than what people give her credit for.
Ruey: Finally, So, now we get the math thing. Lee Gon is constantly using mathematics both as a metaphor to “explain” what Tae-eul is to him and how the parallel worlds thing works. The show doesn’t just go there—it goes there hard.
It doesn’t just explain away the physics of the parallel worlds thing conveniently. It establishes that Lee Gon, being a mathematician, is figuring out in his head, how the thing works as both theory AND application.
It also firmly states that Lee Gon the king is both trained in the martial arts but also a scientist. It is rare for a TV show anywhere to feature a mathematician unabashedly as its lead; K-dramas usually feature robotics professors or computer programmers. It is also important to note that he has been in no hurry to leave Korea. He just didn’t want to, and we can clearly see why. Ruthie, what did you think of Lee Min-ho this time?
Ruthie: Right, right. Gon is smart and sometimes I have to research on things that he says. This is what I look like sometimes.
I like the fact that they made him smart because it means he can catch up to Lee Lim. Last time I said that Lee Lim is ahead of him in terms of knowledge and understanding on how the worlds work. Now, we see that Gon can catch up to him.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget that new episodes of “The King: Eternal Monarch” streams on Netflix every Friday and Saturday night. Come back and see us break down every episode. Till then, stay Super.