The Reasons Why “The King: Eternal Monarch” Is Struggling To Do Well In Ratings Despite The Hype, Budget, Writer And Cast

Published Categorized as Kdrama and Movies, Kdrama Buzz

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.

Related: What “The King: Eternal Monarch” staff had to say about Lee Min Ho’s dedication to his role will make you love him even more

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Related: “The King: Eternal Monarch” Under Fire For Its Excessive Use Of Product Placement, Is It Too Much Or Are Netizens Overreacting?

What do you guys think of the series so far? Do you have a reason you want to add?

By Jass K

Hi, I am Jass k. the founder of Jazminemedia, in this site, I share my thoughts on the stories me and my team cover. I also review and recap kdramas, all the reviews and recaps in this blog are written by me. I've been a fan of kdramas since 2012 and counting~ Join me as I discuss some of the hottest currently airing kdramas, and if you have any requests for a kdrama review, please let me know in the comment section of any article.


  1. I’ve read that The King: EM is available on Netflix Sth Korea, true? Then perhaps its “home-country audience” choose to watch it at a later (more convenient time). And Netflix has never released any view-count?

    Anyhow, as I’m fond of Kim Go-eun, I’ll happily continue watching.

  2. First of all I have to say I’m enjoying this drama because of its mystery & the fact that you can’t guess what’s going to happen next but at the same time I think it’s building too many plots and the story just keeps getting more and more complicated and confusing. This is a bit annoying. I think the female lead had better chemistry with the lead actor in Goblin than she does with Lee Min Ho but they both act so well that I am willing to overlook this. Overall, it’s worth watching in mu opinions despite not being perfect

    1. I think the plot is very interesting. It’s unique and LMH and KGE are actually good together. I think the best thing about this drama too is its cinematography. The visuals it gives are all so beautiful.

      1. Regarding the issue about the lead actors having no chemistry, I don’t agree with that. I think they have good chemistry (with the little the writers allowed us to see). The problem is that the show didn’t give them enough time for that chemistry to be evident to we the viewers and then all of a sudden female lead is saying , “사랑해”.
        Problem number 2 is that there have been a lot of scenes that are ill-fitting to the story. For example the almost war with the Japanese. I’m still wondering about it’s relevance in the story. They’re trying too hard and it’s running the show. I read somewhere that this drama had competition. Now I had seen the drama world of the married though I hadn’t watched it. I decided to watch and see what the fuss was about. I found it hard going back to watch King eternal monarch but I’m certainly sticking around to watch the king because of the leads some other great supporting actors too. Please show writers, producers please if you see this, do something about this drama since it’s dear to our hearts. Much love from Ghana, West Africa.

  3. The acting is great. So it’s not the actors. It’s probably the story. Drawn out. Waiting each week doesn’t help. All in all again the actors are great.

    1. His acting hasn’t changed in 10 years. He is overrated and doesn’t suit the role of a king. At least he is not playing the king in an historical drama. H

  4. À Mon Avis, for this king monarch I had high expectations but the lead role didn’t have enough karma to bring the viewers together. Despite that I tried watching the first episode due to LMH but couldn’t get why I don’t just like it. I got caught up with TWOTM which it’s storyline is very diverse and filled with tension and not like the frequent stories we watch from Korean dramas. It’s not until you have famous drama that it will be rated high so I think it’s the storyline that’s affecting the monarch compared to TWOTM. I hope from 13th episode of the monarch it can rise because it’s competitor would have finished it’s own drama.

  5. I think these guys would have just opted for the usual Korean historical drama concept, usual costumes,pops etc to avoid controversies that’s my opinion

  6. … we don’t bet for the leading lady ,she’s no face for the kind of Title. Eternal Monarch sounds to be like playing in a kingdom,leads are expected to be appear that way, as elegant visually ,as etherial. The lady doesn’t have the face like queen…and she’s not that beauty.

  7. 1. The storyline like you mention slow and almost there is no content.
    2. Seriously It didn’t bother me about images portraying Japan etc. The cinematography is not bad at all.
    3. What bothers me is .. LMH pairing with KGE was a big mistakes. They do not have chemistry. Still this is only personal opinion, everyone have own preference. I love KGE, the character she brought in Goblin so perfectly fine and I suggest probably stay in Goblin. Bring the same character to his series I feel is a flop.
    4. Hero and Heroin play the very important part in the success of the movies than comes the story lines.
    5. If you do not have the famous hero and heroin, makes sure the storyline step up the game. The best example is right in front of us The world of marriage.. you don’t need big stars.
    6. I will still watch this series because I’m a big fan of LMH.. I will still support.. even though i already in verge disappointment.

    1. I don’t think it’s LMH best movie but I love the series it’s doing well on Netflix it’s been no 1 here in Nigeria every week … supporting my baby no matter what. Hopefully he picks is a better project next

  8. I just watched episode 1 and 2 it was slow and a little bit confusing I was really excited for this series cause I just finished watching iteawon class and I was like yeah another fantastic kdrama but I lost interest quickly after episode 2 I duno if it’s because I keep comparing iteawon class to other kdrama lollll

  9. Kim go eun does not fit lee min ho, no spark, no chemistry… She has no kilig2x factor, face is too blunt for the love story effect. If lee was paired with a cuter actress that might change the rating.

  10. It’s one of the best kdrama despite of all the negativr feedbacks.It was incredible.I could see all the hardwork and dedications of each actors and actresses.I hope they could keep it up.This makes the episodes much more enjoyable,fun as well interested for the next episodes each time.The King cast.Fighting!!

  11. Have to really enjoy the details and subtleties of each episode and the plot to appreciate the beauty of the drama Its a drama that makes one think and analyse, keeping one in suspense.. Not just some in your face romance. Also its unpredictability is really what keeps me on my toes episode after episode. One of the best k drama plots I’ve seen in a while! Hang in there.

    1. Agree here… it’s not your everyday drama… maybe fitted for us who have strong minds… 🙂
      I bet, the screenwriter had her goal to keep us puzzled yet pinned with this extraordinary drama…

    2. thou I arrived late to see this conversation, I finished watching this drama in July… and honestly, I noticed that it was not a cut out for an average Korean Drama fan . The plot, the story, the dialouges, all need to be watched with complete attention and interest. The visuals are really good too. Overall, it involves Relativistics Motion theory which is just too much science for someone who is just looking forward to a really good Kdramas, with a stereotype killer story and a lot of cute romance. People cannot just watch something with a realistic essence to it in terms of the romance story. It ended like it should have. For me, it was far from ‘boring’ or ‘failure’. and let me be honest, Kim Go Eun is just right for the kind of role she was supposed to play. Had it been a pretty face actress, she wouldn’t potray the strong detective kind of character as good…

  12. After a hiatus of close to 6 years, I’m back to watching k drama again. What a wonderful surprise to watch goblin and being introduced to KGE. I know of GY’s work from Coffee Prince plus others including train to busan. He’s an incredible actor and in the goblin I really felt the chemistry between the 2 leads. This is just my opinion but I it was kinda flat between LMH and KGE. I’m not saying they are not acting well in TKEM, I just didn’t feel it. I like the storyline so far and am hoping better surprise are in store as the drama moves forward. BTW this is my first introduction to LMH!! lol. So now I’m watching the heirs plus TKEM at the same time. I’m not fazed with the ranking so long as TKEM captivates me. Fighting!!

  13. I don’t know why some People in Korea would make it a point to find fault in this drama.. what they do in their private life has nothing to do with the drama… as if they are perfect!!!.. guys they are just trying to entertain us… why do you have to bash them for an affair a long time ago? Seriously??? And it’s all fiction.. what’s wrong with using similar sign or whatever?? You are sick people!!!

  14. Honesty, all your points seem like speculations and a drama that only has 13 episodes so far shouldn’t be so intensely censured. I’m not talking about the controversies but I am an international viewer and i am obsessed with it. I watch too many shows and very less shows have become my favorite because I am severely picky. This show has one of the most attractive and impressive story-line I’ve seen or read in years. I was literally searching for books with similar plot line. This series is definitely going to be a massive hit internationally and on Netflix.

  15. The Cinematography might be the main reason I’m watching it. I was actually googling to find out the budget of the show. The actors have done the best they can with their characters from my view. The story line is interesting, captivating. The war scene felt like a scene filler, but I didn’t mind it. It brought some good drama to it. I suppose you’ll enjoy this show if unwrapping a gift gives you a bigger thrill than the gift itself, or you still enjoy reading a book whose outcome you can almost predict. It’s the journey that I am enjoying.

  16. I don’t understand the low ratings, maybe your points are valid with Koreans feeling offended with the Japanese “materials/props (I’m not sure what to call it).” As an outsider (non-Korean viewer), I paid less attention on those details and focused on the A class acting from Lee Min-Ho, Kim Go Eun (favorite actress btw) and the rest of the cast. Despite viewers complaining of the slow start, I’ve seen slower in k-dramas, yet this series has captivated my attention throughout. I’m in love with the plot, the contrast of the two worlds and even their similarities like the bakery they get their bread from. Also, I love when Eun Sub and Yeong meet and how their dynamics play off each other to give you two different characters played by one actor. Honestly, I’ve been itching to find a site for me to boast about this series as it has been one of my favorites in quite some time. The last dramas I’ve recently seen that’s piqued my interest were “CLOY and Itaewon Class.” And that’s after watching a dozen of great dramas like “Hi Bye, Mama.” I hope after this drama is completed more fans flood in and give this series the love it deserves. My biased rating due to Kim Go Eun being the lead actress would easily be a 8.5/10. However, if I were to recommend this series to someone who may be more of a critic, then a 7.5/10 would be my alternative rating for the sake of the general public.

  17. Personally the fact that the monarchy and that entire world wouldnt even exist completely took me out of the story. Also the fact that he kept threatning her with execution really rubbed me the wrong way. I dont like stanning toxic relationships

  18. Thats the problem with Hyped up adverts- expectation is high. But unfortunately the development of plot of the King never thickened, the dev of the characters were lousy esply for the 2 lead stars. (Saving grace was the head Royal guard Eun Sup/Jo Yeoung)- he was funny! This 16 Ep drama shld hve cut to 12 instead or maybe 10.

  19. I am checking and was not surprised at all at the reasons for this shows issues. It started off so slow that I almost gave up on it. Knowing how bad some K-Dramas are at setting up characters and situations, I sometimes skip the first three or, four episodes (fast forwarding and occasional pauses).

    With Crash Landing on You – I skipped the first six. After finishing the drama – I went back and watched the earlier episodes with a different eye. For other KDramas – I really hate it when they make the female lead really annoying, irritating, a clown, etc. Look at Itaewon Class – while the series worked hard to humanize his love interest – I didn’t like the way she treated people and could never believe she could change. People don’t change that much.

    I will finish this drama. I am on episode 11 but, I keep finding myself getting up to make popcorn, leaving the room to do something, etc. Knowing – that it moves so slow – I won’t miss anything.

    And, don’t get me started on the product placement. Awful. Why don’t they just turn to the camera when they are finished with the plug, smile and have the website of the company put across the bottom of the screen?

  20. I binge watched a lot of KDramas recently; most of which are romance centered. The romance in TKEM felt cliched and dated, having watched countless KDramas that relied on Chaebol and Cinderella tropes; ie fall-in-love at first sight even though ML knows nothing about FL, wide eyed flustered look kiss, ML cooking for FL, collateral damage from ML and FL eternal love for each other, ML gifting poor FL beautiful and expensive clothes – “Cinderella-ify”…. So TKEM got really boring for me and I dropped it after 12 episodes. In fact I fast forward a lot of scenes between ML and FL and only watched for the non-romance bits but that also got uninteresting after a while. I think FL is a great actress; she portrayed the doppelgänger with subtlety and nuance. (I couldn’t watch Goblin bec I have a problem with adult men falling in love with high school girls.)

    I’m a sucker for great looking ML and FL when I watch romance kdrama. FL unfortunately isn’t the ethereal beautiful type so the romance falls flat here. The mysterious air and fantasy bits were way too affected as well.

    Production value for TKEM is high and cinematography is beautiful. Woo Do Hwan also stole the scenes. Good acting from other casts as well.

    The one complaint I have about most romance themed KDramas are the lingering and long drawn shots which focus on the actors’ face (esp when they are ruminating) and can hold as long as 3-4 seconds, sometimes accompanied with needless flashbacks. I think I shall give romance themed KDramas a rest for a while.

    Do watch Hot Stove League. I thoroughly enjoyed that one. Well written drama and no romance.

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