It’s been just over a year since the South Korean zombie period drama Kingdom wowed us with its masterful mix of horror, history, martial arts, and political intrigue. That all-too-short first season ended on a nail-biting cliffhanger, and we’re finally about to learn what happens next, since Netflix just dropped an action-packed trailer for the second season.
(Some spoilers for S1 below.)
The series is based on a popular South Korean webcomic Kingdom of the Gods by Kim Eun-hee, who also adapted it for television. Set in Korea’s Joseon period, a medieval dynasty that lasted some 500 years (1392-1897), Kingdom begins as the current king has succumbed to smallpox. His conniving young wife, Queen Cho (Kim Hye-jun), and her family have kept him artificially alive—via a “resurrection plant” that turns the king into a flesh-eating zombie—until her son is born. Her son would inherit the throne over the current Crown Prince, Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), who was born to a concubine.
Naturally, the king’s “affliction” soon spreads to the outer provinces. The exiled crown prince teams up with a nurse, Seo-bi (Bae Doo-na), and other survivors to beat back the encroaching zombie horde. When we last left them, they were in deep peril, outnumbered as a vast army of the ravenous undead advanced. And Queen Cho had given birth and seized the throne in Lee Chang’s absence.
Kingdom proved to be a heady, addictive delight, easily earning a spot on our year’s best list for 2019. “The production values are stunning, bringing the historical period to life in rich detail,” I wrote in my review last year. “Plot-wise, it’s a juggernaut, with plenty of sword-play, suspense, and hints of comic relief.”
Netflix Korea released five ultra-short teasers for the upcoming season in December, but this new trailer is the first in-depth look we’ve had. Per the official premise: “As winter approaches, the battle between the living and the undead in Joseon is just beginning. The royal court is teeming with snakes, the zombies are coming, and the crown prince has a nation to save. The worst is yet to come, and everyone will need to choose a side without knowing who they can really trust.”
The trailer boasts plenty of zombie-fighting action, albeit few details regarding the narrative arc of the upcoming second season. We do learn that the zombies are evolving. Before, they would mysteriously fall asleep in dark nooks and crannies when the sun came up, but apparently no more. And we know from S1 that there is a master in a remote village who might know the secret to ending the plague. We’re betting that will be a key subplot going forward, given that there is a brief shot of a mysterious flower—the “resurrection plant,” or perhaps its cure?
Queen Cho still sits on the throne, although it seems the palace, too, might be battling zombies. (It is Ground Zero for the outbreak, after all.) We see Lee Chang arrive at the palace and confront her with drawn sword: “The throne does not belong to you.” She merely offers a contemptuous smile. Most intriguing of all, we are told, “There is someone else who has committed a mortal sin and deserves to die.” Could it be the queen’s father, Cho Hak-ju, who heads up the Haewon Cho clan? Or perhaps Lee Chang will have to confront (and quite possibly kill) his own zombified father, in the tradition of all good tragedy.
We’ll know soon enough, since Kingdom S2 begins streaming on Netflix on March 13, 2020.
Listing image by YouTube/Netflix Korea