The King: Eternal Monarch Episode 1 Recap

The King: Eternal Monarch Episode 1 Recap
Present Day…

Inside a police interrogation room Lee Rim (Lee Jung Jin) tells of an ancient magical flute from 682 that when played could cure illness, end drought, etc. Detective Gang Shin Jae (Kim Kyung Nam) states the records show Lee Rim was born in 1951 and is currently 70 years old. Obviously, Lee Rim is a young man. Lee Rim confirms he’s 70, but hasn’t aged since 1994. He claims the magic flute is the reason. He took the magic flute from his brother that didn’t believe in its magic. Detective Jung Tae Eul (Kim Go Eun) asks if he killed his brother for the magic flute. Lee Rim states the flute only appears every 20 years. Detective Jung asks again if he killed his brother. Lee Rim confirms he did. Lee Rim scoffs that his stupid half-brother, the lucky legitimate son, became king and didn’t realize he had the magic flute or its powers. A primary power is the two worlds.
Ancient times…

Emperor Lee Gon (Lee Min Ho) sits on horseback in front of two columns that face each other. He holds the 4-tiger sword.
1994… Kingdom of Corea…

Lee Gon’s uncle, Prince Geum, aka Lee Rim takes the 4-tiger sword from a case. He is wearing a signet ring. He learns where the king is.

Lee Rim goes to the location where his brother is and it is a blood bath. They have guns. Lee Rim approaches his brother, King Lee Ho (Kwon Yool) who is Lee Gon’s father. Lee Ho has just locked the case with the magic flute. Lee Ho declares this is treason. Lee Rim sneers he’ll game something valuable. Lee Ho yells the gods will retaliate. Lee Rim plunges the 4-tiger sword into his brother and kills him. He throws the sword to the ground. He takes the magic flute.

A young Lee Gon enters the room. He sees his bloody uncle. He sees his father on the ground and rushes to his dead father’s side. He tries to stem the bleeding but it’s too late. Lee Rim tells Lee Gon that his father is dead. Lee Gon picks up the 4-tiger sword struggling with the weight and size. He’s able to strike a blow, one that cuts the magic flute in two. Lee Gon order the guards to arrest Lee Rim and strips him of his title. Lee Rim tells his nephew he sounds like a real crown prince.

Young Lee Gon had moxy.

Lee Rim’s sidekick points a gun at Lee Gon’s head. In the hallway a masked man picks up a gun. Lee Rim declares he’ll kill Lee Gon himself. He pushes the boy against the column declaring he’s waited for this moment. He holds both pieces of the magic flute enraged that Lee Gon has messed with his plans. He cuts Lee Gon’s neck and chokes Lee Gon with half of the flute. Lee Gon falls to the floor. The ceiling glass breaks and showers down.

The masked man with the gun enters and dispatches many of Lee Rim’s men. He shots Lee Rim in the shoulder. Lee Rim drops half of the magic flute. A groggy Lee Gon sees it and pulls it to him. Lee Rim’s assistant declares they must return to the future as once the palace guards appear; they won’t be able to return. Lee Rim doesn’t want to leave with only half the flute. Lee Gon sees the masked man shooting his gun. Lee Rim and his remaining men after forced to retreat.

The masked man confirms Lee Gon is alive. The masked man doesn’t realize when Lee Gon tugs his police badge lanyard and badge into his hand. The masked man has to return to the future too.

The country mourns Lee Gon’s father.

News reports tell of Lee Rim’s murder of his brother. Crown prince Lee Gon is declared King. The next in line is Prince Buyeong, aka Professor Lee Jong In. Prince Beuyong arrives for the funeral. He asks about Lee Gon’s neck and Lee Rim whereabouts. Prince Buyeong believes Lee Rim had an escape plan.

I thought the kingdom would be in ancient times, but is 1994. This isn’t’ time travel backward/forwards, but to an alternative world, two versions of Korea.

Lee Rim stares at half the magic flute. The two columns (aka the time portal) appear. It glows.
2019… Republic of Korea…

A bloody Lee Rim walks the street. He sees this is the Republic of Korea, not the Kingdom of Corea. Lee Rim’s half-brother lookalike (Lee Ho in this world) bumps into him. They are stunned to see each other. The Lee Ho look alike can’t believe his brother is standing in front of him. Lee Rim pulls out half of the magic flute. He asks his half-brother lookalike where his brother (Lee Rim in this world) is. He finds Lee Rim in a wheelchair not able to articulate. Lee Rim declares he is him but he belongs in another world. He snaps Lee Rim’s neck. A young Lee Gon comes home. He recognizes his uncle standing. He sees his uncle slumped in the wheelchair. Lee Gon grabs the nearest item to defend himself. Lee Rim tells his nephew he has seen something he shouldn’t see and he is holding something he shouldn’t be holding. Lee Rim states even in this world, Lee Gon repeats the same mistake. He approaches his nephew.

Lee Rim this world was difficult to recognize.
1994… Kingdom of Corea…

Lee Gon is crowned King. Prince Buyeong is in the procession. Everyone shouts his long life. Lee Gon formally mourns for his father.

1994… Republic of Korea…

Song Jung Hye learns her husband Lee Ho was killed in a hit and run accident when she identifies his body. She asks if the republic will cremate him for free. She goes home. She’s thrilled his dead. She thought she’d have to kill him herself. She’s shocked when Lee Rim rises from the wheelchair and approaches her.

Sorting it out but it is somewhat confusing, I could use labels on these new characters.

1994… Kingdom of Corea…

A young Jo Young approaches him during public mourning and offers a cookie. Lee Gon tells him to go away.

A young Jo Young approaches him while he studies. Lee Gon tells him to go away. The boy yells his father was Lee Gon’s father’s good friend. That gets his attention.

Lee Gon burns his father’s bloody robe with Prince Buyeong and others watching. Court Lady Noh Ok Nam follows Lee Gon into the palace. She tells him formal mourning is over and he’s done well. Lee Gon falls to his knees and sobs he misses his father. She comforts him. A young Jo Young comes into the room and cries with Lee Gon. He rises and bring a sword. Lee Gon tells Jo Young that he is now the unbreakable sword. Jo Young asks what that means. Lee Gon laughs. Court Lady Noh smiles. Jo Young takes the sword. It glows. He smiles and thanks Lee Gon.

A fisherman finds body with the signet ring Lee Rim wore on the rocks.

Court Lady Noh meets Prince Buyeong and reports that it appears to be suicide and all the bones in the body are broken. She asks him to perform the autopsy. He tells her this can’t be the public story due to the chaos surrounding the young king and court. He knows he must lie to hide the truth. The palace must state the royal guards shot Lee Rim.

A fisherman reads the article about Lee Rim’s death and is angry.
10 years later…

Lee Rim meets with the fisherman (his assistant) who falls to his knees declaring he never believed Lee Rim was dead. He asks why Lee Rim hasn’t aged. Lee Rim says he’ll show him a new world.
2019… Kingdom of Corea…

Prime Minister Goo Seo Ryung (Jung Eun Chae) arrives at the royal palace.

King Lee Gon (Lee Min Ho) is dressed for the day. When the valet starts to button the top button of his shirt (where the neck scar is visible from the magic flute), Lee Gon stops him. Jo Young (Woo Do Hwan) snaps to the new valet that the King doesn’t like his skin touched. The valet promises not to make the mistake again. Lee Gon heads out to ride horses but first he says he’ll stop by his bedroom.

Court Lady Noh hides talisman in various spots in Lee Gon’s bedroom. She tells her helper the talisman will help Lee Gon find love. She’s startled to find Lee Gon holding the talisman. He says the prime minister must arrive early because of the power of the talisman. He muses she might become his queen. Court Lady Noh snaps she cannot become the next queen. She implores him to marry and produce heirs. Lee Gon declares he’s not interested in marriage. He puts the talisman in the trash. With a smile he calls her rude. He strides out stating he’ll meet Prime Minister Goo in 2 hours. Court Lady Noh retrieves the talisman from the trash muttering they are expensive. She hides them again.

Lee Gon rides. Jo Young meets him when he’s done. Lee Gon shares that Court Lady Noh hid more talisman in his room, making a total of 51.

Two fine examples of manhood in one scene.

Prime Minister Goo arrives early. She walks to Lee Gon and Jo Young steps aside. She claims she’s early because she missed Lee Gon’s horse who turns his head away from her. Lee Gon explains his horse doesn’t like women. Prime Minister Goo points out they are being filmed. Lee Gon suggests she stand next to him for the photo op. They talk about her report and she leans in to whisper in his ear. The cameras snap. When she pulls away Lee Gon lean to whisper in her ear. When he pulls away, she claims she’s interested in learning how to ride. Lee Gon says a horse can take you to the edge of the world. He asks if she really wants to learn how to ride. She smiles. Lee Gon says he’s read her report so they can wrap things up. He notes he must change for his next meeting.

He’s not repulsed by her, but he’s not hot for her.

Lee Gon is startled when he notices Jo Young behind him. Jo Young says to hurry or he’ll be late. They bicker.

In royal robes Lee Gon reads his favorite book, Alice in Wonderland, to a group of children. They aren’t impressed. Prompted by Court Lady Noh, one girl asks if the king as a girlfriend. With a pointed look at Court Lady Noh, Lee Gon sighs and confirms he does not.

A woman with red hair is chased. She dashes into a crowd, snaps a jacket with a bunny ear hood and blends in. The king participates in a sculling racing with the royal navy team. Jo Young watches from the booth. A young woman photographs him. The royal navy team wins. The crowd goes wild. The woman with the red hair runs through the celebrating crowd still pursued. She ducks behind a corner. Her hood has rabbit ears. Frustrated one of the pursing men fires his gun in the air. Jo Young covers Lee Gon. The royal guards surround the men with guns. Jo Young tells Lee Gon they need to exit. Lee Gon sees the woman with the rabbit ears hood. He flashes to Alice in Wonderland. He watches her run away. Lee Gon pursues her. Jo Young takes off after him. She rounds a corner and loses him. Lee Gon stares at his reflection in the window. Jo Young catches up with him. He asks why Lee Gon took off. Lee Gon says he saw the white rabbit with the clock. Jo Young asks if it was a clock or a rabbit.

Back at the palace, Jo Young presents Lee Gon with a bullet proof vest to wear. Lee Gon counters that Jo Young keeps him safe so he doesn’t need it. Lee Gon sighs and positions himself in front of Jo Young. He leans in. Jo Young leans back. Lee Gon teasing asks if they are having fun. Jo Young asks him not to do that. Lee Gon smiles and steps away. Jo Young says they captured the men with the guns and are still looking for the white rabbit with the clock. Lee Gon shares he’s trying to the find face only he can recognize. He flashes back to the masked man that saved him as a young boy. He says when things like this happen, he feels like that person is near. Jo Young points out it has been 25 years and Lee Gon’s savior has aged. Lee Gon admits he may not be able to recognize the face. He wonders why his savior has never visited him. Jo Young states Lee Gon has grown into a fine man and doesn’t need a savior anymore. Lee Gon suggests a beer. Jo Young suggests the bullet proof vest. Lee Gon tells Jo Young to go.

Jo Young is serious minded. I like their interactions.

Alone Lee Gon get out his Alice in Wonderland book. He pulls out the police badge from 25 years ago. It is Detective Jung! He flips the badge over. The date of issue is Nov 11, 2019. Lee Gon murmurs he’s a bit older than Detective Jung.

Nice twist!
2019… Republic of Korea…

Detective Jung Tae Eul (Kim Go Eun) gets into a car in an apartment parking lot. She backs up into the car behind her. The security guard (aka Head detective Park Moon Shik) calls the car owner’s apartment. Two men open a window and yell. Detective Jung bashes the car once more. The bumper falls off. She drives away. The police wait for the men to come downstairs. Three men examine the car and demand to know where the woman went.

Detective Gang Shin Jae (Kim Kyung Nam) calls Detective Jung to make sure she’s okay. He notes her outfit isn’t spot on. She begs to differ. She stops the car. She remembers a particular smell. She backs the car up into the parking lot startling the men. Detective Jung exits the car and takes down one of the men. He hits his car. The trunk opens. There’s a dead body. Detective Jung reports this is no longer an illegal gambling case but a murder. The man claims he knows nothing. Detective Jung starts to handcuff him. He pulls away. With a nifty spin move, she knocks him down and cuffs him. The other two men run away. Detective Gang apprehends one of them. Detective Shim herds the other man into the police van driven by Head Detective Park.

The trio of detectives tells Head Detective Park they need a new team member to lighten their work hours. Head Detective Park counters no one wants to join the violent crime unit. The trio isn’t happy. Head Detective Gang comments on Detective Jung’s subpar fashion skills.
2019… Kingdom of Corea…

At the paddock, Lee Gon sees the woman with the rabbit ears hood run past. He calls for his horse and mounts it. He informs the security team to tell Jo Young he’s off to see if it is a clock or a rabbit. He takes off. The security team scurries to mount their own horses and Jo Young is called.
2019… Republic of Korea…

Lee Rim stirs some paint. He has the half of the magic flute he attacked a young Lee Gon with.

Detective Jung reports they identified the body as a hardware store owner who was a member of the gambling website and stole money. She says the man put up his store for sale but he’s missing and they can’t locate his wife. Detective Shim tells her he’ll review security footage and meet her at the station.
2019… Kingdom of Corea…

Lee Gon rides hard. The security team monitors him via CCTV. His horse Maximus stops suddenly in the wood. Lee Gon asks what’s wrong. Lee Gon hears the a flute. He looks around. They proceed forward following the sound. He arrives at the two-column time portal. It glows. Lee Gon stares. He looks at his half of the magic flute. He directs his horse to enter the time portal.
2019… Republic of Korea…

Lee Rim drops a bowl of paint. It stops mid-air. Then shatters on the floor.

Detective Jung waits in a traffic jam. She sees a woman with red hair in the rear-view mirror. Is it her counter in the alternate universe? Lee Gon rides by on his horse. Detective Jung directs him to stop via the car’s loud speaker. Lee Gon continues on. Detective Jung puts the light on her car and follows. Lee Gon stares at his surroundings.

Detective Jung approaches. He stares recognizing her. She tells him to get down. Lee Gon positions his horse across from her. She puts on her badge and declares she’s the police. Lee Gon dismounts and walks to her. He looks at her badge. He stares into her eyes.

Detective Jung asks what he’s doing. Lee Gon says he’s finally met her… Detective Jung Tae Eul…and hugs her.
My Thoughts

Good first episode. Writer Kim Eun Sook created in intriguing first episode. I want to come back for more. Lee Rim looks like a good villain. Lee Gon and Jo Young are a good pair. Detective Jung’s flashback in the car makes you wonder if she’s the woman in the rabbit in the Kingdom of Corea. It took me a while to understand the show wasn’t going forward/backwards in time but hopping between two different worlds, the Kingdom of Corea and the Republic of Korea. The traditional garb confused me into believing it was back in time. I like these characters have counterparts in the other world. Small production quibble, the labeling which world was inconsistent during the episode. If you are going to label, do it all of the time. I wasn’t 100% sure I identified of all the characters correctly. It will sort itself out in the coming episodes. I’m looking forward to the next episode. The horse in the middle of Seoul reminded me of Queen In Hyun’s Man.

King Lee Gon (Lee Min Ho) commands the room. The fan girl in me loves Lee Min Ho’s ability to be firm and playful. Lee Gon’s stand against Lee Rim after seeing his father’s body on the floor was impressive. The kid had moxy. It’s logical that he’d be fascinated by the person that saved him from Lee Rim’s gun so long ago. The utilization of Alice in Wonderland was a good reference. I found it interesting he had his half of the magic flute with him at the paddock.

Detective Jung Tae Eul (Kim Go Eun) has some moves. She took down the criminal with a deft spin move. She was Lee Gon’s savior which I love. There’s not much to say at this point. I look forward to learning more.

Jo Young (Woo Do Hwan) is a serious security man. Jo Young’s mission is to protect Lee Gon. He doesn’t get distracted from that. I liked the interaction with Jo Young and Lee Gon. I liked the backstory that built their bond. No doubt he’ll find a way to follow Lee Gon into the alternate world.

Prince Geum Lee Rim (Lee Jung Jin) (Lee Gon’s uncle) is a patient and ruthless villain. He waited years to get his revenge against his brother King Lee Ho (Lee Gon’s father). He and his men were a force that overwhelmed the royal guards. He must have been shocked when Lee Gon welded the 4-tiger sword and cut the magic flute in half. No doubt he wants the other half of the flute to gain the power he craves. Lee Gon will have something to say about that.

The first song of the OST is sung by singer/song-writer Zion.T and titled “I Just Want To Stay With You”. The video is a good visual recap of episode 1.

I rank this episode as good, 7 on a 10-point scale.

Asian drama fan. I watch and blog dramas on

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Posted in Recaps, The King: Eternal Monarch
7 comments on “The King: Eternal Monarch Episode 1 Recap
  1. beezrtp says:

    I’m with you, kjt. Right now it’s a mumble-jumble. I’m going to watch these 2 episodes again just before the third episode to see if I can keep up.

    I think the “drowned” body with all the bones broken is Prince Rim’s doppleganger from the Republic brought into the Kingdom by Rim to fool police into thinking he’s dead.

    Minor quibbles: 1) they said the flute is why Rim hasn’t aged but the flute was broken so unless having just part of the flute can keep you from aging… ; 2) Rim made the scar on child Lee Gon’s neck on the left but our grown up Lee Gon’s scar is on the right.


    • the “drowned” body with all the bones broken is Prince Rim’s doppleganger from the Republic brought into the Kingdom by Rim to fool police into thinking he’s dead
      That’s a possibility.

      flute is why Rim hasn’t aged but the flute was broken so unless having just part of the flute can keep you from aging
      Good point.

      Right now it’s a mumble-jumble.
      I hope Writer Kim brings this into focus. I want to care about the characters and understand the obstacles they face.


  2. Jane Tilly says:

    Dopplegangers, dimensions and decades of time travel adds to the confusion. Yep, time travel with no explanation of how an adult Jung Tae Eul, born in 1990 rescued the young prince Lee Gon-C (I’ll use -C for Corea and -K for Korea in order for me to hang on to my sanity with the double cast of characters) from being assassinated by Lee Rim-C in 1994 … there is a time travel element. The police ID belonged to Tae Eul-K, but was the masked protector Tae Eul-K or Tae Eul-C❓⁉️ It seems the magic flute is needed is needed to travel between dimensions … how did an adult Tae Eul travel to 1994❓⁉️

    “I think the “drowned” body with all the bones broken is Prince Rim’s doppleganger from the Republic brought into the Kingdom by Rim to fool police into thinking he’s dead.” -Beez. I concur the Lee Rim autopsied in Corea was Rim-K.

    When Rim-C traveled to Korea, the man he bumped into was Lee Ho-K, who he dispatched somehow making it look like a hit and run … did Rim-C push Ho-K into traffic❓⁉️ Rim-C then easily dispatched the defenseless, wheelchair bound Rim-K, taking his place and later took Rim-K’s body back to Corea to be found and let the authorities think Rim-C was deceased, leaving Rim-C without pursuers and apparently stayed in Korea for 10 years before he returned. What did Rim-C do in that time and the additional 15 years that passed after that❓⁉️ Where did he spend that time❓⁉️

    It appeared that Rim-C also murdered Lee Gon-K and his mother, Lee Ho-K’s wife … did they both die or was Lee Gon-K as resourceful (or lucky) as Lee Gon-C and survive❓⁉️

    I concur with Beez’s quibbles 1) Magic flute was sliced into 2 pieces – how can it still be magic. Additionally, the broken magic flute kept Rim-C from aging … but Gon-C has the other half and he aged … why❓⁉️ 2) Lee Gon-C’s injury was on the left side, but the bandage was on the left side side as early as when the crown prince was mourning his father’s death.


    • time travel with no explanation of how an adult Jung Tae Eul, born in 1990 rescued the young prince Lee Gon-C…from being assassinated by Lee Rim-C in 1994
      Yes, I thought this was forward and backwards in time, not parallel worlds. Having both increases confusion.

      It appeared that Rim-C also murdered Lee Gon-K and his mother, Lee Ho-K’s wife … did they both die or was Lee Gon-K as resourceful (or lucky) as Lee Gon-C and survive
      I’m wondering the same.

      Gon-C has the other half and he aged … why❓
      Good point.

      Let’s hope Writer Kim clarifies the murkiness moments.

      Liked by 1 person

      • beezrtp says:

        Lee Gon-C said that he doesn’t exist in Korea. That could be the case if Lee Rim-C killed him as we think, as a child.

        My limited understanding is that everyone is fingerprinted in S.K. by the time they’re 18. I got that from a Kdrama but you know how the subs can be with numbers…


    • beezrtp says:

      I thought Lee Gon-K’s mother survived? Isn’t she the one kjt described as having followed Lee Rim-C’s advice that she would be suspected of murdering her husband and child?

      Also, I’m assuming that Wheelchair Lee Rim-K’s bones were already messed up and that’s why he was in the wheelchair. I could be wrong because the autopsy could reveal if the wounds were old and healed over or fresh.

      We should buckle up because I think that this is going to be a bumpy ride while the pieces come together. (I hope they come together)


      • Jane Tilly says:

        We don’t find out the disposition of Lee Gon-K’s mother until episode 2.

        Since Rim-K was found at the ocean shore in Corea, it is likely there was new bone breakage from being tossed about in the ocean current onto the shore … the autopsy results have not yet been revealed. A good coroner should have been able to tell there was old injury behind any new damage. Court Lady Noh must know the autopsy results. Would Rim-C and Rim-K have the same fingerprints and DNA❓⁉️

        I agree that things are confusing. I think they will become more clearer as time goes by. The writer has made attempts to clarify with Corea vs. Korea and the same faces from the parallel worlds seem to have different names in their respective worlds.


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April 2020

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