If you’ve been keeping up with “The King: Eternal Monarch,” then you already know to a certain capacity that it hasn’t been doing as well as people had hoped for in South Korea.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” is also airing on Netflix and is doing well, but the hype in its origin country isn’t as strong as anyone would’ve expected.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” 8th episode which aired last night has recorded its lowest numbers to date; the first part recorded 6%, a new low for the highly publicized series. A number that no Kim Eun Sook drama has seen in a long long time.
But what went wrong? And why is it that “The King: Eternal Monarch” is struggling to do so well despite the hype, the cast, the writer and the budget? Today, we’re here to discuss what we believe went wrong.
1. The controversies relating to Japan
“The King: Eternal Monarch” has had its fair share of controversies early on the series.
While it might not seem like a big deal for an outsider, it is better understood in the context of the long history of conflict between the two countries. This is tied to Japanese war crimes during the time it colonized Korea in 1910 which led to many issues such as Japan’s use of Koreans as forced laborers and “comfort women” (sexual slaves) during World War II.
There were two controversies linked to Japan for “The King: Eternal Monarch,” the first time was when the drama was under fire for using images of Japanese buildings to model the fictional Korean Empire.
In the introduction part, the two parallel worlds are split into contrasting opposite sides with the imperial part facing modern-day Korea. Netizens noticed that the imperial part eerily resembles Japanese architecture design and modules after a famous Japanese Buddhist temple.
Others also saw similarities between the imperial seal for the fictional Korean empire and the real imperial seal of Japan which caused even more backlash. The production team apologized and edited the footage so that it doesn’t appear anymore.
The second time happened with its 6th episode; it contained a naval battle scene between the Korean Empire and Japan. It was pointed out that the Japanese warships with Japanese flags were similar in design to current Korean warships.
Following the controversy, “The King: Eternal Monarch” producing director (PD) Baek Sang Hoon released an official long detailed statement apologizing for it.
2. Jung Eun Chae’s Controversy
The two previous controversies we talked about aren’t the only ones that happened, another controversy happened in relation to the second female lead.
On April 17, WikiTree published a report that claims they found evidence that Jung Eun Chae and singer Jung Joon Il had an affair 10 years ago. However, per their report, they claim that a source close to Jung Eun Chae told them that it’s true they dated at the time but she was also a victim and had no idea that he was married while they dated. However, Jung Joon Il’s agency claimed that she knew he was married and that he never hid his marriage from her, leading to an even worse backlash.
Netizens heavily criticized her for her alleged involvement in ruining the marriage of a singer and his wife and what made it worse was her response.
Her agency issued a statement and they didn’t deny the news, they basically stated that it’s her private life; since the agency didn’t deny the affair but instead threatened to sue malicious commenters, it made netizens even more furious and critical.
3. The slow-paced introduction
“The King: Eternal Monarch” didn’t exactly start off as big as netizens had hoped.
The series was heavily advertised as the next Kim Eun Sook masterpiece and as expected, netizens had high hopes that the series would be as good as her previous ones. This also meant that people were going to be more critical because it’s a drama by the biggest Korean screenwriter, you wouldn’t expect less from the best of the best.
But that turned out to have been the wrong way to go. Aside from the first episode, “The King: Eternal Monarch” took time introducing its characters, its 2nd, 3rd and 4th episodes were all slow in terms of pace and filled with filler scenes that served little purpose to push the narrative the writer was going for.
This meant that Kim Eun Sook wasted the four most important episodes of the series on things that could’ve been introduced in a quicker fashion; she trusted the public would be patient enough with her series to stick around but that proved to be wrong because the ratings haven’t been as good as the premiere of the series.
Since its premiere the ratings have gone down and they have never picked up or even rivaled the first episode ratings.
4. The PPL dilemma
PPL stands for Product Placement and it’s a very important thing for every kdrama you see.
They can enhance the series quality because the companies pay for the production company to have their products featured in the drama’s episodes which in turn gives a bigger budget for the production company.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” drew attention as soon as the news was announced and many companies lined up to have their products featured in the series. Episode 8 of “The King: Eternal Monarch” drew criticism for that specific issue, there were about 5-8 PPL in this episode alone, and the camera zoomed in a lot on these products.
The issue is, it breaks the flow of the drama and completely takes viewers by surprise. The 8th episode featured the most PPL thus far and it was getting too obvious and too intrusive.
5. The competition
“The King: Eternal Monarch” is getting compared to “The World Of The Married” a lot. The two dramas don’t share the timeslot for the most part except for the last 20 minutes which are always the most crucial in any episode.
“The World Of The Married” is a fast-fast-paced drama with a lot of things going on all at once, the drama is a massive success with viewers and critics alike, both dramas air on the weekends but “The World Of The Married” came out as the winner on top.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” couldn’t avoid getting compared to the series that had a kick start and the issue is that they’re so different from each other but “The King: Eternal Monarch” had a bigger budget and more known cast, director and writer but failed to generate the same interest.
6. The Weight Of Expectations
A lot of international fans have issues with this particular point of discussion but it’s perfectly normal in my opinion.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” has a massive budget for starters, second, it has a stellar cast both in main and supporting, third, it has the biggest Korean screenwriter working on it, fourth, it had PD Baek Sang Hoon who previously worked with Kim Eun Sook on “Descendants of the Sun.”
It’s not wrong to have high expectations of such a production that seems to have everything going for it. It’s the perfect recipe for what could’ve become the biggest kdrama of 2020.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” also advertised itself as the next big hit, when you’re constantly hyping something up, you should expect people to become more critical of your production.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” released countless teaser photos and videos up to two months prior to the airing date which also got people even more amped up for the premiere.
Lee Min Ho’s post-military comeback project was this, Lee Min Ho has only led successful dramas thus far and many thought he could only pick a project good enough to be labeled his first post-military work.
The same goes for Kim Go Eun, who last appeared on TV with the massive hit “Goblin,” when she chose this project, people naturally assumed it must’ve been good enough to make her choose this as her first comeback to the small screen in four years.
When you attach a prestigious title to your work, people tend to want to validate that title and determine whether it earned it or not.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” started off slowly and the slow start took people by surprise, it wasn’t able to make up for the slow start because it kept going on for three more episodes, netizens then began to give up on the series which led to the decline of ratings.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” has finally picked up and the series has a lot less filler scenes in its 6th, 7th and 8th episode but is it enough to revive interest?
So these are the reasons we believe “The King: Eternal Monarch” failed to do as well as people had expected it to.
What do you guys think of the series so far? Do you have a reason you want to add?