Main photo from Netflix Facebook page
First things first, have you seen Netflix’s Kingdom? The zombie series currently has two seasons released in 2019 and in 2020. I ask because Kingdom: Ashin of the North, a bonus tale of an untold backstory is now streaming on Netflix.
You can watch it even if you have not seen the original series; however, I do not recommend it. If you are a new viewer, I feel it would be best to be familiar with the series before delving into Ashin’s tale.
Kingdom: Ashin of the North
Original title: Kingdom: Ashin-jeon
2021 | 18+ | 1h 33m
Director: Seong-hun Kim
Writer: Eun-hee Kim(screenwriter)
Tragedy, betrayal and a mysterious discovery fuel a woman’s vengeance for the loss of her tribe and family in this special episode of “Kingdom.”
Yes, it is an hour and a half long, which is not bad for a, let us call it, special episode. It is considered a prequel or a TV special as IMDb calls it. I only feel “special episode” is the perfect description. This is also the term Netflix used in its opening.
Going back to my first point. Kingdom: Ashin of the North features a different set of characters, stories and settings. If you watch Kingdom season one first, you will be well-prepared.
You may read my Thoughts on Netflix’s Kingdom Season 1 and 2 here.
Netflix’s Kingdom is set in the medieval Joseon dynasty, a politically troubling time for both citizens and royalty. This season is fast-paced and more engaging than any other zombie film or series. From the title sequence, we were already given so many clues or Easter eggs. With the ominous music, dark colour and incense smoke, the title sequence helped establish the setting and tone of the series.
This setting and tone carried on over to the next season. The material was executed well giving the viewers a satisfying end leaving a door open leading to a bigger plot.
Then Journey North
Season 2 left a MAJOR cliff-hanger when ex-Crown Prince Lee Chang and Seo Bi journeyed north to find the truth and about the origin of the rare purple flower they call the resurrection plant. To their surprise, they face a zombie horde in a seemingly empty village where they also come face-to-face with Ashin.
The Northern Lands of Joseon
Let me tell you now, Kingdom: Ashin of the North, or rather, Ashin gave the words tragedy, betrayal and vengeance a whole new meaning.
It all started with the tale of two tribes – the Pajeowi tribe and the Seongjeoyains – and the Joseon Kingdom. At the beginning of the special episode, it was explained that the Japanese invasion left the southern lands of Joseon in ruins and a new problem rising in the northern lands.
The Jurchens that lived across the Manchurian Plain North of the Amnok River are gathering at the basin of the Pajeo River under the flag of the vicious, powerful Pajeowi.
Apparently, when 10,000 Jurchens gather, no army in the world can defeat them. The warriors of Joseon feel threatened by the suspicious move prompting them to scout a spy from the Jurchens living in Joseon called Seongjeoyain.
They lived in Joseon for over 100 years and were loyal to Joseon. Unfortunately, they were not accepted by the people and was shunned. But they did what they can to be accepted. In fact, it was Ashin’s father who was taking the step for his people by going undercover and checking the Pajeowi’s movements.
The Beginning of Everything
With the base story, you can see the complicated state of the Northern lands and how miserable the Seongjeoyain’s fate is. But it does not end there. Ashin’s people were caught in the middle and sadly, faced with the repercussion of something they did not do.
All the while this is happening, Ashin has already discovered the rare plant. She took these as she wanted her mother to heal. But with the tragedy and betrayal, she used it for something else.
Seeking and knowing the truth is her breaking point. And revenge is the only thing someone who is in Ashin’s situation can desire. It was beautiful in a cinematic sense but frightening in real life.
With the direction and execution, Kingdom: Ashin of the North is able to support the series and excite the viewers. I honestly can wait for the third season. At the time of writing, Netflix’s has not been officially renewed Kingdom.
But who knows? Kingdom: Ashin of the North was just released yesterday, July 23. Netflix might (*hope, hope) announce it soon. FOr now, let us stream seasons 1 and 2 whilst waiting.
P.S I’m holding back a lot from this review. I wanted to share my frustrations. But I did not know how to write my feelings down. Anyway, you will understand what I’m saying once you’ve watched the entire special episode. 😭😭😭