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Netflix 'Kingdom: Ashin of the North,' prequel to hit series, to be released
  • August 09, 2021

Netflix 'Kingdom: Ashin of the North,'
prequel to hit series, to be released

Updated : 2021-07-20 16:57

By Lee Gyu-lee "Kingdom: Ashin of the North," the special episode of Netflix's smash-hit original series, "Kingdom," is finally ready to be released on the platform on Friday.

"This episode will answer questions such as, 'where did saengsacho ― an herb that enables dead people to become undead ― come from?;' 'who started the epidemic?;' and about actress Jun Ji-hyun's character Ashin, which appeared at the end of the second season, as well as 'what happened in the North,'" Kim Eun-hee, the creator of the series and writer, said during an online media conference, Tuesday.

The apocalyptic thriller series, which garnered enormous popularity globally, revolves around crown prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) fighting against a mysterious plague that swept across Joseon. He traces the truth behind the herb, saengsacho, which caused the plague and turns people into flesh-eating zombies. This journey leads him to the northern end of the land and to encounter Ashin living in a tribe there.

Directed by Kim Seong-hun, who directed both seasons of the series, the special episode will unveil the stories behind saengsacho and Ashin, a mysterious woman who seems to hold the key to the secret of the herb and the outbreak.

The director noted that this episode, by far, has the most "perfect" story of the series. "I started planning for this episode while filming season 2, and thought that Kim Eun-hee has never-ending stories to tell," he said.

"You would think that she might run out of ideas, but it just gets deeper and better, which is awe-inspiring. I wondered how she was able to come up with the most perfect story of the 'Kingdom' series in such a short time."

Kim Eun-hee explained that the latest episode will act as a stepping stone for the series' third season. "I was looking for ways to add a backstory to season 3 and came up with an idea to make a special episode," she said. "The roles from this episode eventually continue on to the third season."

She described Ashin as a "strong and dangerous" character. "She is not like any other villain from previous seasons. She is the source that triggers the rest of the characters to grow and stirs up the tension of the plot," she noted.

Adding that she wrote the character with Jun in mind, she explained that she has been a fan of the actress. "Jun fits into such a wide spectrum of roles. Many know her as the 'queen of rom-com,' but I thought that the dark characters she played in 'Assassination' and 'The Berlin File' were memorable," the writer said.

"Ashin has her own trauma from the past, but she is a tough and fierce warrior on the outside. I was thinking of Jun when I was writing the script, but I was worried that she might not accept the role."

Jun, who is also known as Gianna Jun, expressed excitement to get on board with such a popular series.

"In my opinion, 'Kingdom' is not a zombie flick, but rather a genre of its own. Since I was such a huge fan of this series, I had to take the role," she said, adding that she had previously told the writer that she wanted to star in the series even as a zombie. "When I read the script, I could see that the series could endlessly expand its cinematic universe. And I was really thrilled to help start off that story."