Why Netflix’s Kingdom: Ashin of the North special is the ‘most perfect’ episode yet – according to director Kim Seong-hun, anyway

The cast of Netflix’s Kingdom: Ashin of the North attend a press call. Photo: @netflixkr/Instagram
Kingdom: Ashin of the North, the special episode of Netflix’s record-breaking smash-hit original series Kingdom, is finally ready to be released on the platform on Friday.
Kingdom stars Kim Seong-hun and Kim Eun-hee. Photo: @netflixkr/Instagram

“This episode will answer questions such as: ‘Where did saengsacho – a herb that enables dead people to become undead – come from?’, ‘Who started the epidemic?’ as well as ‘What happened in the North?’” Kim Eun-hee, the writer and creator of the series, said during an online media conference.

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
Jun Ji-hyun
The apocalyptic thriller series, which garnered enormous popularity globally, revolves around crown prince Lee Chang ( played by the dashing 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.

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Jeon Ji-hyun in a still from Kingdom: Ashin of the North. Photo: Netflix.

Directed by Kim Seong-hun, who helmed 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 has the most “perfect” story of the series. “I started planning for this episode while filming season two, and thought that Kim Eun-hee has never-ending stories to tell,” he said.

Byeong-eun Park in Kingdom. Photo: @netflixkr/Instagram

“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 three 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.”

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Jun Ji-hyun in a still from Kingdom: Ashin of the North. Photo: Netflix
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 romcom’, 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.”

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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.”

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K-drama news
  • Gianna Jun Ji-hyun and Park Byeong-eun star in this one-off special episode of Kim Eun-hee’s apocalyptic zombie smash – dropping on Netflix on July 23
  • Sitting between seasons two and three, Ashin of the North promises to answer gripping questions about mystery herb saengsacho – and who started the epidemic