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Q&A with Lee Min Ho and His Co-Stars on New Netflix Series ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’

Just in time for the show's premiere, people from the press got to talk with Lee Min Ho, Kim Go Eun, Jung Eun Chae, Kim Kyung Nam, and Woo Do Hwan in a video conference!

From the writer of the well-loved dramas The Heirs, Descendants of the Sun, Goblin: The Lonely and Great God, and Mr. Sunshine, comes The King: Eternal Monarch, a new romantic-fantasy drama exploring the story of people whose lives are connected despite being in two different worlds. 

The drama, which is led by two of South Korea's most popular stars Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun, premiered on Netflix last night, April 17. 

The King: Eternal Monarch tells the story of people from two parallel universes who are all interconnected with each other. Lee Min Ho plays Lee Gon, the ruler of the Kingdom of Korea who wants nothing but to seal the gateway connecting the two worlds. Kim Go Eun, on the other hand, plays two roles: Jeong Tae Eul, a police inspector in the "real world" whose goal is to protect the lives of the people around her; and Luna who is a criminal in the parallel universe. 

Joining the two leads are joined by Jung Eun Chae, Woo Do Hwan, and Kim Kyung Nam, who will be playing the roles of Koo Seo Ryeong, Jo Yeong/Jo Eun Sop, and Kang Sin Jae, respectively. 

Written by Kim Eun Sook, the drama also marks Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun's comeback to TV after the success of the dramas The Legend of the Blue Sea and Goblin: The Lonely and Great God. 

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Just in time for the show's premiere, press people from the Philippines and Singapore got to join the main cast of the drama in a video conference, where they talked about the show. 

Check out the highlights of the interview below:

On their reunion with Kim Eun Sook and what they liked most about the story

Lee Min Ho: It was a few years since [I worked on] The Heirs that I had the chance to work again with the writer Kim Eun Sook. I am very happy to say that I think I have matured a little more since then, and we were able to communicate on a truer level for which I’m very grateful. As always, I couldn’t [help] but marvel at the abilities of the writer as I read the script, so I am really doing my best to make our second work great. 

Kim Go Eun: My character Jung Tae Eul is a detective, which is a first for me, so I was really excited about that. If I were to do this story [where I] had to play a dual role, that would have been a lot burdensome. But a lot of the other actors also have to play a dual role, it was not as burdensome and I actually enjoyed doing that. As for working with writer Kim Eun Sook for the second time, it is truly an honor, and I'm also very grateful to her. I feel that this means that she really enjoyed working with me on our previous projects so I was very happy to do that.

On his three-year break

Lee Min Ho: During this three-year break, I had the chance to look back at my decades or career as an actor and I was able to look back on what I wanted to do better, things that I believe I lacked in, as well as the values and purposes I want to set for my life as an actor in his 30s. Of course, as always, I spent a lot of time and put a lot of thought into how I can be better tomorrow than today and better next year compared to this year. I believe that my second chapter is opening now as an actor and because The King is the very first of this new second chapter. I really look forward to it.

Photo courtesy of Netflix
Photo courtesy of Netflix

On what sets The King: Eternal Monarch apart from his previous projects

Lee Min Ho: I would say that if I look at the work I have done in my 20s, I think that the characters I played, in a way, sort of portray a boyish character. It’s a coming-of-age story, portrayed by a boyish character. However, as for the role that I play in this project. It is a more mature adult. It does have the growth aspect of it but he is already a grown figure and also has a great burden on his shoulders.

On their similarities and differences with their characters 

Lee Min Ho: First of all, I'm not an emperor, obviously because we don't have emperors in Korea. But if I look at the similarities, Lee Gon thinks of the people and of the country, so the heavy weight that lies on [his] shoulders is probably something way beyond [than] what I can even imagine. I do have similar experiences [with Lee Gon] in that I debuted at a very young age. I am now in my 13th year as an actor, and I think the more my fan base grew, so did the responsibility that laid on my shoulders. In terms of the differences, of course, relatively I do have the privilege of leading a more free life, as well as being able to enjoy little things in my life, compared to my character.

Kim Go Eun: I would say that if I were to look at the similarities between Tae Eul and myself, I would like to think that I am also a person who likes to fight for justice. I may not be as active as her in real life, but I do like to play my part in trying to fight for justice. I also think that we share a certain energy together in terms of the pride that Tae Eul holds in her occupation. I think that also goes the same for me as well, in terms of what's different obviously I am not a detective. I also don't think I can fight as well as her. 

Photo courtesy of Netflix
Photo courtesy of Netflix

On playing dual characters for the show

Kim Go Eun: Because they were written in the script as such different people in terms of personality, I think I tried to be as loyal as possible to the script. In the story, I appear for the most time as the character Tae Eul, [so] I had to kind of newly meet the character Luna within that cadence. I think it was a little bit more fun, a little more challenging, a little bit more unique to play that role of Luna, because I think [her character] is something you won’t really commonly see in other K-dramas.

Woo Do Hwan: The challenge comes when I have to act out two different characters in one day. For example, I play the role of Jo Yeong in the morning and become Jo Eun Sop in the afternoon. They use two different tones in terms of language — Joo Young is using a very formal language and Jo Eunsop is using a dialect, so sometimes the dialect or some accent could flow into the other character. Even though the two characters are separate, I am the one person playing two different roles, so that is the challenging part. 

On what it's like to work with each other for the first time

Jung Eun Chae: As for the atmosphere on set, it is quite good. It is quite fun. We were actors and actresses of a similar age group so when we get to meet each other, it is always very delightful and energetic on set. In the case of Kyung Nam, I didn't really have any chance to get to see him on set. I really want to see him on set, but unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet. I really want to see him on set at one point. 

Kim Kyung Nam: As mentioned earlier, we were not able to see each other that often. But we were able to see each other in an informal setting, and we get to meet each other in press tours like this one. I can feel good chemistry already so I feel very supported and that I could depend on one another. I hope this chemistry is shown through the screen to the audiences as well.

Photo courtesy of Netflix
Photo courtesy of Netflix

On the preparations he had to do for the stunts in the drama

Woo Do Hwan: In terms of action, I didn't have to prepare separately for this particular role because I have taken on some action roles in the past and I felt quite confident taking this role. In the previous project, I worked on the heavy action drama for about a year so I felt quite confident. If I could say that I'd do something extra for this role, I could say I worked a little more on the posture, the attitude, and the tone of the character, because he’s the chief imperial bodyguard. 

On her role model and inspiration when playing Seo Ryeong

Jung Eun Chae: I cannot pinpoint one person that I refer to as a role model. I looked through many footage, records, pictures, and the journey that many female politicians have taken over time. What was quite impressive was that last year, Finland had its first and youngest female prime minister and it was quite inspiring. I was able to refer to her as my role model.


The King: Eternal Monarch is now on streaming on Netflix. New episodes air every Friday and Saturday at 10:30PM, right after it's aired in South Korea. 

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The King: Eternal Monarch
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Baek Sang-hoon
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