Kingdom writer, director on the making of the zombie thriller series: Hunger was the starting point

As a fan of the zombie genre, Kingdom writer Kim Eun-hee says she’s always been intrigued by the hunger of the undead, the main theme running through her internationally popular Netflix thriller series of the period, as well as the upcoming prequel Ashin of the north.

In an exclusive interview with PTI, writer and director Kim Seong-hun spoke about the universe of Kingdom and why the Korean-language series, set in the medieval period of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), resonates with audiences about the whole world. world.

“I’m a huge zombie fan. When I watched other zombie series, they all run around to get some food. I may sound a little perverted, but I felt no fear, I felt a lot for the zombies because why would they run so fast to eat that little bit of meat? That’s why I ended up on the topic of hunger,” Kim Eun-hee said in a Zoom interview from Seoul, South Korea.

The 49-year-old writer, also known for the popular Korean time travel investigative drama Signal, said the original drama, which tells the story of a crown prince (played by Ju Ji-hoon) investigating a mysterious outbreak, has several themes. the concept of hunger jumps out at her.

“We have a lot of different themes like politics and power hunger, but what attracted me the most was hunger and that was the starting point for me,” said Kim Eun-hee, who adapted Kingdom from her webcomic series The Kingdom of the Gods. with the help of an interpreter.

Kingdom director Kim Seong-hun, who also helmed the 92-minute special episode Ashin of the North, believes South Korean zombie stories have become famous worldwide because the writers and filmmakers focus on telling original stories to differentiate themselves from their western counterparts, which have more money and technical know-how to invest.

South Korea has embraced the genre by delivering highly original content with the 2016 blockbuster movie Train to Busan, its sequel Peninsula, #Alive, Rampant, animated Seoul Station and Kingdom to name a few.

Kim Seong-hun, 50, credits Korean creators for the popularity of the country’s zombie stories.

“Usually it’s Hollywood that does the best job because they have the money and the know-how. So, to differentiate themselves from Hollywood, what the Korean creators are doing is getting more original and molding more original stories to the zombie genre, making them look great. I think that’s why so many people like the Korean style,” he added.

The director said it is challenging to direct local actors as flesh-eating creatures, as “Korean zombies are full of stamina and they are very fast,” which can lead to security issues on set.

“The other challenge was that this is a zombie genre, but it’s also based on a historical period, so there were a lot of visual effects and martial arts. Even if you only have one in the story, it can be difficult, but we had all three. So I think that was the most challenging part,” he added.

While there’s no clarity on Kingdom’s third season, fans will be eager to work up an appetite with Ashin of the North, a prequel story headlined My Love by star actor Jun Ji-hyun and streaming on Netflix starting Friday.

Ashin of the North will tell the story of its titular warrior from the northern frontier city of Joseon, who has vowed to avenge the deaths of her loved ones.

She clashes with Park Byung-eun’s Min Chi skirt, who made a lasting impression as head of the Royal Commandery in season two of the Kingdom. It also reveals the backstory of the resurrection plant, or “saengsacho” in Korean, which is responsible for the zombie epidemic.

In a global press conference on Tuesday, Kim Seong-hun teased a zombie scene as the climax of Ashin of the North, saying it’s a scene the entire prequel “really runs towards.”

“It’s a really sad, tragic but hugely charming scene,” he added.

Kim Eun-hee said she decided to set up the spin-off in the northern border town of Joseon to tell the story of “marginalized people of the time”.

In the press conference, the writer also spoke about feeling the pressure that comes with the expectation of a hit series.

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