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New ‘Kingdom’ series aims to resurrect global zombie sensation

“Kingdom: Ashin of the North” (Netflix)
“Kingdom: Ashin of the North” (Netflix)

“Kingdom: Ashin of the North,” directed by Kim Seong-hun, will be released July 23 as a special episode of the global Korean zombie sensation.

“With the love and support from the audience, I was able to showcase this spinoff of the 'Kingdom' series,” Kim said during an online press conference held Tuesday.

A virtual press conference is held for “Kingdom: Ashin of the North” on Tuesday. (Netflix)
A virtual press conference is held for “Kingdom: Ashin of the North” on Tuesday. (Netflix)

The director had not expected the series to develop on such a grand scale. After receiving the four-page synopsis from screenwriter Kim Eun-hee, he was surprised and thrilled to shoot this episode and have the audience feel the same emotions he did when he first read Kim’s script.

“I am really glad to work with Kim Eun-hee once again after two seasons of 'Kingdom' and it is no secret that she surprises me every single time with her unreachable fantasy and scripts,” the director added.

The episode explores the backstory of “saengsacho,” or the resurrection plant, and the mystery behind turning people into zombies is highlighted with new character Ashin.

After the loss of her loved ones, Ashin (played by Jun Ji-hyun, or Jun Gianna, and Kim Sia) experiences a series of events which leads to the explanation of the secret of the plant. 

Actors Jun Ji-hyun (left) and Kim Sia, both of whom play Ashin, participate in the virtual press conference for “Kingdom: Ashin of the North” on Tuesday. (Netflix)
Actors Jun Ji-hyun (left) and Kim Sia, both of whom play Ashin, participate in the virtual press conference for “Kingdom: Ashin of the North” on Tuesday. (Netflix)

“I think people have become more curious about the resurrection plant. Saengsacho is a plant with a cold characteristic, so I thought the plant needed to be found in a cold area. This is the reason we moved the setting of this episode to the northern border of Joseon,” screenwriter Kim said in explaining the change in setting for the upcoming series.

In writing the global hit zombie series, she hoped to satisfy the audience’s curiosity about the plant, screenwriter Kim said.

At the press conference, Jun also talked about how she felt reading the script for the first time.

“To be honest, I decided to take the role when I received the script, because I was a fanatical fan of ’Kingdom‘ and writer Kim Eun-hee. I was willing to take any small role and I was even ready to become a zombie,” Jun said. “I was honored to be given an important role, the very figure who knows about saengsacho.

“Although I was involved in the series, as a fan I am also thrilled to see the upcoming story,“ the actor said.

“Kingdom,” the first Korean original drama series produced by Netflix, revolves around a prince in the Joseon era fighting against flesh-eating zombies and a mysterious plant, saengsacho.

Netflix will release the 92-minute “Kingdom: Ashin of the North” on Friday.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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