“The King: Eternal Monarch” Premiere Is Fun But Doesn’t Exceed Expectations- Episode 1 Recap And Review

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“The King: Eternal Monarch” has aired its first episode a couple of hours ago and it’s safe to say that the kdramaland community was over the moon. We have been waiting for this moment for a while now, it’s finally here and twitter went crazy.

If you’re on Twitter, then you’ve probably already seen this. “The King: Eternal Monarch” hashtag is at number two on twitter worldwide trends, fans can’t stop gushing about the first episode.




Since I was – like most of you- super excited about the drama, I felt it would only be right for me to share my thoughts on the first episode.

In short, “The King: Eternal Monarch” premiere was fine. I wouldn’t call it outstanding but that could be because I am not a diehard Lee Min Ho fan. I like the actor but I’m not head over heels for him like many kdrama fans.

“The King: Eternal Monarch” wasn’t shocking or out of this world, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Kim Eun Sook drama. Its visuals are top-notch, the first episode lays the ground for the heartbreaking back story of the lead male, and it does a good job introducing the main characters while keeping you entertained and curious about what will come next.




Despite the hype, I can’t say “The King: Eternal Monarch” exceeded my expectations- thus far, personally speaking. It followed the format I had expected from the screenwriter and did well, but I found nothing special about neither the premiere nor the idea as well. The two parallel worlds is an interesting thought but not out of this world.  

Related: “The King: Eternal Monarch” Actress Jung Eun Chae Past Involving An Alleged Affair With A Singer Comes To Light, The Singer Gives A Shocking Answer

The biggest issue I had with the first episode was how lame the evil character was and how cartoonish it felt at times. He was narrating what he was going to do like a mad man you’d see in a superhero movie.

Remember when the villain gets overly excited about his evil plan and explain it to the hurting/struggling/in-captive male lead? except this time, he gets away with it.

I would’ve appreciated more silence from the evil character for the first half of the drama, I would’ve loved to be led by cameras and explore what was happening for myself instead of having everything spoon-fed to me. But I highly doubt the majority had issues with this.

Another cringy moment had to be the hug at the end of the first episode when I saw the teaser trailer I cringed and I cringed again when watching the first episode.

I thought we could’ve done without it. It felt so forced and unexplained to me. Even if you believe she saved your life, you don’t just come hug her like that… didn’t he say he didn’t like to be touched? But it’s a kdrama so such scenes were expected, I just thought it would’ve taken us a bit more time to get to one of these.

Onto performances

As you’d expect, Kim Go Eun steals the spotlight despite her brief screen time. I am glad she’s not playing the weak female lead but instead taking charge. I wish, I WISH, the writer won’t make her to be the damsel in distress later on that needs a saving from the prince in shining armor.

This will get me in trouble with fans but Lee Min Ho’s performance was my least favorite of the entire episode. I think I expected a bit better from him but I don’t see any difference character-wise or performance-wise. Let me explain:

I’ve long been a fan of Lee Min Ho, not as hardcore as some but a fan. I see potential that is, unfortunately, being wasted because he likes to play it safe. I can’t remember the last time he tried to challenge himself as an actor.

He has always played the same character, a hot over-achiever who has a heartbreaking past but is rich and desired by women of all walks of life. He always played a mesmerizing character and I have long wanted to see him play something different. Something a bit less charming, and more challenging would’ve done it for me.

I’ve re-read the description of the characters and it seems that Lee Min Ho is only taking on the emperor role while most of the other main cast is taking on double roles. I would’ve loved to see him take on a more grounded character but we’re still only one episode in, so this could change as the plot progresses.

Woo Do Hwan does wonderfully with the little screen time he has, the same goes for Jung Eun Chae and Kim Kyung Nam. It’ll be interesting to see how “The King: Eternal Monarch” evolves from now on.

I am looking forward to the next episode but I wouldn’t say on the edge of my seat.

What about you guys? What did you think of “The King: Eternal Monarch” first episode?

15 COMMENTS

  1. Lee minho has played different characters. Just because two of tmit were similar doesn’t mean all were the same. Just because he can easily take over his character mad act with ease, don’t judge that. Please!
    My opinion- the “villain” didn’t seem to be lame. Rather he looks to be the psycho power hungry villain who is going to be very challenging.

  2. With your honest review, am no longer eager to watch, i think i will wait till the drama gets along or even finish to watch.
    Thank you though abd i hope it gets better

  3. This article is on par! Like you, I’m not a huge LMH fan. I think he’s the same in every role he’s ever played and can’t understate hype. However, KGE and JEC (who’s gorgeous) are the two that’s drawing me to this drama and did they deliver?! Fighting, girl power!

  4. I only watched this because i love kim go eun’s acting. I personally did not like any of this writer’s film. Its too unrealistic, clicche and cringy for me. Yeah i did not like “legend of the blue sea”, “descendants of the sun”, “the heirs” etc. And yeah goblin too. Even tho i liked kim go eun. Its just too corny for me. I prefer dramas like cheese in the trap, while you were sleeping etc. And i wanted to give this a try coz i kinda liked lee min ho. And a huge fan of kim go eun. And as i watched episode one i did not feel like lee min ho is really a king. Like you know? He did not have the king atmospehere or aura around him. So itck kinda hard to get into. But i understand that this is what the general public wants. So yeah. Onto Kim Go euns scene… AND I REALLY LIKED HER PERSONALITY. LMAO. SHE APPEARED LIKE 5 MINS BUT HER SCENE IS THE MOST MEMORABLE, FUNNY SCENE. Just her simple gestures. Expressions.. will make u believe that shes really acting her character. And i also like her team. So Im still gonna watch it. I JUST HOPE IT GETS BETTER.

  5. i like fantasy,sci fi,travel in time, so yes i like the story, a little confusing but overall great and intriguing.The hug didnt get me cringe but i was wondering so you dont like people to touch you but you can touch them? i want to say yeah kdrama thing but i dont know ,they can manage to make this have sence ) but wathever. I do believe he was kind of obssesd with her trough all this time(probably the math problems are a way to try to figure up why a person who wasnt borned yet save him, and he was waiting for the date they finally can meet ), so hugging her was kind of like a fan who managed to hug his idol?you know you can handle the feeling of hugging and this is true ….hahaha kidding but really that scene didnt get me to cringe.
    the villan for me wasnt that bad, he saying the things was necessary so people can understand faster and i didnt dislike it that much(he acts like a villan from a comic? kind of but this story is not realistic so i dont see much problem in that, and does he have a purporse ? well we dont know much about him yet , why he turned like that ? was he always like that? will see this in future episodes. I like the characters , they are interesting , the king seems like a person who cant be in peace ,he knows theres something else, thats why he study so he can understand( the rowing part is bonus for fans i guess being a king makes you good in many things blabla, i personally dont care much about this stuff but what i like is his math and literature part, i want to see him share his knowledge), the detective is great funny and lack of fashion hahaha, she is someone who have the duty first and doesnt hesitate, we will know more about this two in the future. I believe they will be a great team

    i read lee min ho agreed with the writer before knowing the plot (this also happened with lotbs) , he didnt read the script he didnt knew anything he said yes because he believes in the writers, and because of that probably the way this 2 writers see him is similar (the image you mentioned), but i like his performance because he manage to make this characters different even tough they are similar in some ways(mostly the tragic past and the money ), the guy knows how to tell the story of each character and managed to make you empathise with them.

    i believe he will show more sides of him, because he said that in a recent interview, i think the way he talks is different( more educated )so thats a change, and he never acted as someone that good in terms of math,sciene, he hadnt act as the one in charge of things (goo jun pyo and kim tan were teenagers, in faith he was the guard, in city hunter he did what his dad said,in personal taste he was the ceo of a petite emprise and in lotbs he was a con artist that didnt have responsability ) so he have many things to show with this new character and of course the way he interacts with others

    well i hope that for the next project he read first the script ( so he can choose something more realistic its beeing a while seeing him in a normal drama) i prefer movies for challenge himself ,he proves he was great in gangnam blues so yes movies are best for this .

    • I totally agree with your comment.
      Right on point, true observation, non-judgemental answers to every scene/character/acting concern that was put on the table by this article writer. In fairness to LMH, yes he acted very well in Gangnam Blues, challenged himself there, which his role was very far different from all other characters he portrayed in Kdrama. Nevertheless, he still successfully brings justice to every role he potrayed. I pretty much like the writer also, how creative she twists scenes to leave you hanging and want to wait for the next episode.
      Definitely looking forward and excited to see the next episode of The King, how it will evolve

  6. I completely agree. Didn’t meet my expectations either. If felt forced and overly dramatic, especially the murder scene. I am hoping for it to get better as I really want it to be great. Completely agree about Lee Minho. Thanks for your honest review 🙂

  7. I do not agree with the opinion that lee minho plays It safe everytime. Look at the varied roles he tried. City hunter was an action role, In personal taste he played a regular guy who pretends to be gay, In faith he played a strong & commanding warrior. In blue sea, he played a guy from joseon era & a con man. He played a rich guy in heirs but the role was different from boys over flowers.

  8. I agree. I am die heart fan of Lee Minho but expected more from him this time. Looking forward to your review for coming episode of the drama.please provide your very constructive feedback on the drama. I love your writing.

    • I watched movies & dramas based on my favourite actors & its storyline.
      I like period movies or dramas which has action or thrillers or romantic comedies like Crash Landing which as action, romance, funny & touching moments.
      I like Lee Min Ho as he is tall handsome & rather good.

      I dont fancy movies or dramas about travelling to future or going backwards or about Reapers. But I am watching the King Eternal Monarch to watch Lee Min Ho as I missed him.

      I dont quite understand this drama as it is a bit confusing. Suppose Lee Min Ho had to act the way he did, bland. 2 episodes are not exciting to me, for now.

      I like Lee Joon Gi, good looking, multi-talented, action star & yet able to exhibit various emotions.

  9. I agree tho! I wanted to know how the story going to evolve, but this drama doesn’t give that desperate + anxious feeling of waiting the next episode to be on air. Go eun’s acting is what makes me want to watch this.

    • I agree. I dont think theres a chemistry between him and leading lady but then again its only the 3rd episode .kinda disappointed compared to the other kdramas ive watched ,i didnt get the same excellent to watch the next episode. O

  10. Ahh! A review I can agree with!!! I also thought lee min ho character was getting toooooo similar and his acting was quite bland. I just couldn’t really convey his character that’s why some parts were cringey to me. I definitely think the female lead stole the show the first two episodes. Fans got me hyped too much however something that did exceed my expectations is the visual quality. Very captivating. However we have many more episodes to go I hope I can continue watching lol!

  11. Not all dramas are measured by their first few episodes. I appreciate this one for making viewers think. It is so CEREBRAL I enjoy it so much! I also hope it’s about time people review dramas as a whole and not via the premiere only. Especially when it’s thriller or mystery theme. It’s like eating and telling food is not good when it is not yet cooked.

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