Netflix Beefs Up 'Kingdom' Zombie Series With 'Ashin of the North'

Anyone who has caught Kingdom, the Netflix South Korean television horror series, knows it is addictive. It’s also a must for any fan of the zombie subgenre.

The series features fast-paced action and on-the-edge-of-your-seat tension. It has palace intrigue, beautiful and lush settings, good fight scenes, and some amazing costumes.

It’s set in the Kingdom of Joseon, Korea’s last dynastic kingdom, which lasted from 1392 to 1897. It’s a turbulent period. The Japanese are a constant threat, while villages at the kingdom’s borders have to make peace with the warring tribes.

The best part, of course, are the zombies. These aren’t George Romero’s shambling automatons. The Kingdom zombies are quick, nimble, nasty, single-minded, and very, very hungry. The makeup is superb, and their movements when they awake is creepy as hell.

If you’ve seen Train to Busan (2016), you know Koreans know how to do zombies.

For fans (including myself) eagerly awaiting Kingdom’s Season 3, Netflix has thrown us a bone in the form of a prequel. The special episode, Kingdom: Ashin of the North, premiered July 23. It’s an origin story of how the resurrection plant, which brings the dead back to life, came to cause the zombie outbreak.

After watching Ashin, I’m watching Kingdom’s first season again. It actually makes more sense now.

I would recommend Ashin even if you haven’t seen a single episode of the series. No spoilers here, but the heroine is an eminently relatable character. You get it. You know what motivates her.

The special episode also has the same qualities that make Kingdom so watchable. Kudos to the Ashin filmmakers for managing to maintain the same speed and mood as the series.

I do have a minor critique. It still is a challenge to do zombie animals well. Ashin does as well as it can in that regard.

While Netflix has yet to indicate when (or even if) Kingdom Season 3 will be released, the good news is the streaming giant may have another special episode in the works: the backstory of Crown Prince Lee Chang. Korean media is reporting that filming is scheduled to take place later this year.

I can’t wait.


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