If you’ve been watching K-dramas since the first Hallyu wave back in the mid-2000s (we’re talking Full House, the Endless Love series, and the like!) then it’s safe to say that Netflix’s Joseon era zombie drama is refreshing. But screenwriter Kim Eun-Hee reveals that Kingdom is a groundbreaking project for more reasons than one.
In a video conference with Preview, Kim Eun-Hee reveals that there’s a huge difference when working on a Netflix Original K-drama versus that of a typical series aired on Korean cable TV. To clarify, a Netflix Original is a series produced for and by Netflix exclusively and does not air on any other channel. It's not like, say, Crash Landing on You, which aired on TvN, from which Netflix secured the rights for global release (so the Netflix Original label at the start of the show is because of this distribution exclusivity.)
Since Eun-Hee previously created top-rating show Signal on TvN back in 2016, the award-winning playwright shares the liberties of writing a series for Netflix. “First of all, when it comes to working with Korean terrestrial broadcasters, we are never free from the pressure of ratings,” Eun-Hee explains, “And there's also the factor of having instant and very immediate feedback from the viewers, which sometimes results in having to make revisions to the script and whatnot.”
True enough, this might be the reason why some of your favorite K-dramas start off great but end quite anti-climactic or disappointing. Since social media makes it easier for audiences to voice out their opinions, this could also affect the writer’s decisions to the plot, character development, and overall story as the show airs. Not to mention, the network constantly wants the show to rate, thus urging creators to give viewers what they want or think they want. But when it came to writing Kingdom, Eun-Hee actually revealed having written season two already during the production of season one! So her story is completely unaltered by comments even by the show directors themselves.
Netflix also has little to no restrictions when it comes to censorship, according to Eun-Hee. Giving directors and writers the freedom to put out what they’ve initially envisioned without compromises. “There's of course, the freedom of expression. So, things like decapitation, for example, that will never be able [to be shown] on TV. In Korea, you know... even if you were just holding a knife, that has to be blurred. So that was a big difference,” she adds.
We honestly can’t wait to see how Eun-Hee’s horror political drama ends! Not too soon, we hope—we definitely still want a third season!
Kingdom season 2 premieres on Netflix on March 13.