The King: Eternal Monarch (2020, 16 Episodes on Netflix)
Screenwriter: Kim Eun-Sook
Actors: Lee Min-Ho, Kim Go-Eun, Woo Do-Hwan, Kim Young-Ok, and others
Exposition: Where is the KOC? Who is Lee Gon? Why is Jung Tae-Eul? How is the future name tag? (my apologies to Marvel fans.)
setting: the Kingdom of Corea and the Republic of Korea; from October to November 11 of 2019
Ep 1: Why does Prime Minister Gu aggressively exploit her femininity by mentioning her "wired" bra? Why does the King ask her if she is "honest"?
Lee Gon is the man of all seasons, who does not miss a beat in riding, reading, rowing, and running with that cool head of a mathematician. We know Lee Gon is in the eye of the storm, at the heart of royal intrigue, family tragedy, and cosmic mystery. Deep down in his heart, what emotional need drives and motivates the King?
Ep 2: What or who enables the two KOC men to seek their places in ROK?
Lee Gon’s court scrambles to cover up his absence and Lee Lim assembles his army of tools while biding time for another coup. Police Inspector Tae-Eul exhausts every possible means of securing the stranger’s ID in vain and reluctantly, she helps the stranger.
Ep 3: What does the burning crack on the King's flesh signify?
In what ways is Time connected to Space? Why does Time slow down or stop when somebody travels through the portal between the parallel worlds?
How does cross-cutting establish the yo-yo boy's preternatural authority?
Why is Tae-Eul's banter about a poem cross-cut with Lady Noh's recitation of a poem by the same poet?
Screenwriter Kim Eun-Sook throws in a meta-theatrical joke about another show about time travel (Signal penned by her friend Kim Eun-Hee). In what ways is The King similar to Signal? How does rectifying the past wrong restore justice and balance?
Ep 4: Tae-Eul commands respect from colleagues and the King. On the other hand, in what ways is PM Ku's moral authority undermined throughout this episode?
Why do the King's formal duties often revolve around state funerals? Why is the first official duty of the King resume with an attendance at a funeral of his mentor's father? Does this mean Lee Gon as a king is a profoundly unhappy person?
The King returns to the KOC, but Tae-Eul's world is already deeply affected by his visit. On November 11, Tae-Eul cannot help but to accept what all the evidence points at as reality. The King drops by to pay back debts and takes his lady back to the KOC.
The library scene and the OST are seamlessly integrated to accentuate how each strives to touch the other’s time (space).
The way the King inquires about the autopsy report to Prince Bu-Yong reveals the inner strength and inward virtue of his character and I started to fall with gravity for Lee Gon at this moment.
Loose ends or foreshadowing devices? Why and how is Kim Bok-Man framed for murdering Lee Sang-Do? Similarly, why is the pickpocket case relevant?
Why is Lee Gon's GPS relevant? Will Sin-Jae play a role as a partner for Tae-Eul when she travels back to the past? Is gambling a metaphor of Lee Lim’s coup d’etat and a way of characterizing his minions?
Rising Action: Criminal intents encroach the bounds of reality
Ep 5: the KOC and ROK; night of November 11 and the next day
This time it is Tae-Eul’s stint in the wonderland. Lee Gon is in his element.
Still Rising: Gon anticipates, plans, and executes every step of the royal mandate
Climax and Resolution: How to reset the past and the future
Ruler's Identity Ideated by Euler's Identity
It Is Okay to Not Be Okay (2020, 16 parts on Netflix)
Kim, Soo-Hyun and Seo, Yea-Ji
Spring comes again to Moon, Kang-Tae who has acquiesced to becoming the keeper of his brother. But this spring brings the girl from his buried memories back to his life and Ko, Moon-Yung starts to prod and pierce him, demanding him to reclaim his heart. In It Is Okay to Not Be Okay, we are treated with the Theatre of Cruelty, romantic comedy, Gothic-comic horror, murder mystery, and psychotherapy. In sum, this drama is a hefty knife that slices layers of tissues so swiftly that only after it is lodged next to your rib cage you would know what has happened.
Setting: early spring in Seoul
Ep 1: MY tells a story about a boy who was haunted by nightmares and failed to feel happy even after making a pact with a witch. She urges her readers to carry on while facing their nightmare. Will KT decide to face his trauma and ultimately become happy? KT's first "I liked her" was a belated confession; his second "I liked her" was closure.
Ep 2: Sang-Tae has an episode at MY's book signing and MY tilts the balance by attacking ST's attackers. Later, MY strikes at a venal literary critic and KT calms down MY by teaching her the butterfly hug method, a breathing method trauma patients can use, and bids her another good bye. MY puts on red shoes to pursue KT in her own way and heads for Sung-Jin. (The plot thickens: why does Jae-Soo insist on accompanying the Moon brothers whenever they move to a new town? What happened to MY's mother?)
Setting: Okay Psychiatric Hospital, Ju-Ri's house, and MY's mansion in the City of Sung-Jin
Ep 3: After this episode, I will no longer deny my girl crush on the actor Seo, Yea-Ji--she is just phenomenal in this episode. MY is drawn to the sanatorium. MY steals an amulet to ward off her nightmare and returns to the accursed castle of her childhood. MY starts teaching a literary class at the clinic and ST works on a mural. Psychotherapy Case 1: The repressed is bound to return as in the case of the exhibitionist (Kwon, Ki-Do). How does this case affect the main characters? Will KT stop suppressing his own needs and start to enjoy his life for his own sake?
Ep 4: Groomed by her mother, MY has been deemed to be a borderline psychopath and in her book, The Zombie Kid, she questions whether such a creature is motivated only by survival needs or is capable of reciprocating human emotions. This question lingers and mars the first date MY could have enjoyed with KT.
Ep 5: This delightfully wacky episode ends with KT owning up to his emotional attachment to MY that began some twenty years ago.
Ep 6: KT has to accept ST's autonomy when MY offers ST a job as her illustrator. The Moon brothers inhabit the accursed castle and KT shields MY from her nightmares.
Ep 7: On the romantic front, KT no longer has an internal brake in regard to MY. KT reconciles with his memories of maternal neglect and MY crashes the mirror, a symbol of the control her spectral mother has on her. The ending scene of this episode is so blissfully harmonious I am a bit apprehensive. If KT and MY arrive in rapport this early in the series, does this mean a fateful hurdle is in store, some variation of a Romeo-and-Juliet motif? I just hope the series does not rehash such a cliche. If MY's father (or mother) killed KT's mother, that will be a huge let down. Psychotherapy Case 2 (Kang, Eun-Ja, a patient with a fur shawl): Guilt can be equally strong as love and with MY's help, she lets go of the shawl and her guilt with it. MY finally is able to sever the psychological leash her mother has put on her and cuts off her tress.
Kingdom (2019 and 2020, 2 seasons of 6 parts each on Netflix)
Screenwriter: Kim Eun-Hee
Nine: Nine Time Travels (2013, 20 episodes)
Screenwriters: Song Jae-Jung and Kim Yoon-Joo