Lee Min Ho-Kim Go Eun’s The King: Eternal Monarch turns 4: Exploring themes of parallel worlds, romance and open ending

Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun’s fantasy romance The King: Eternal Monarch celebrates its fourth anniversary today. Let’s explore the themes of romance, parallel worlds, and open endings.

Updated on Apr 17, 2024  |  03:17 PM IST |  208.2K
Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun in The King: Eternal Monarch; Image: SBS
Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun in The King: Eternal Monarch; Image: SBS

The King: Eternal Monarch is one of the most iconic fantasy romance K-dramas ever aired. One of the biggest actors in the industry Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun essay lead roles in the show. The casting undoubtedly made the fantasy a treat to watch from leads to villains to supporting actors was above par. 

Today, April 17 marks the fourth anniversary of The King: Eternal Monarch. Looking back at the K-drama one of the main highlights of the ingenious series remains its parallel world concept, the mysteries, doppelgangers. In addition how Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun’s romance across two worlds remains one of the most beautiful love stories. 

3 reasons why Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun’s romance in parallel worlds remains exceptional

1. Love divided by two parallel worlds

One of the overarching and uncommon themes in The King: Eternal Monarch was that the story was set in two worlds. These parallel words were made even more interesting by the fact that two people with the same faces (aka doppelgangers) existed in both worlds. However, their lives and personalities were drastically different from each other.

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Lee Min Ho as Lee Gon becomes the king of the Kingdom of Corea whereas, in the parallel world, the Kingdom of Korea, Kim Go Eun as Jeong Tae Eul is a detective in the Crime unit. Lee Gon’s friend and bodyguard Jo Yeong (Woo Do Hwan) is one of the few characters who is simultaneously shown present in both worlds. At one point, when they saw each other, the meeting was well placed. In Kim Go Eun’s world, he is her close friend Jo Eun Seop. The idea of having two worlds and the balance therein was threatened by the malicious power-hungry uncle of Lee Gon, Lee Lim was impeccable. 

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The King: Eternal Monarch deals with underlying themes of greed, fate, and humanity. Manpasikjeok, a mythical flute that has the power to connect worlds, remains at the center of the drama. This mythical flute in the wrong hands can cause catastrophe, to stop Lee Lim, his uncle from his devious plans Emperor Lee Gon does everything to find a way to save both worlds. 

With the magical flute, not only world crossovers but time travel is also possible which in the end serves a greater purpose. Lee Gon and Jeong Tae Eul’s love faces the biggest problem as they stand divided by two worlds. Their love story seems bleak as there is no way they can go against nature and live together. But in the end, love prevails.


2. Lee Min Ho’s unwavering resolve

Lee Min Ho who plays Lee Gon, the eternal monarch is the protagonist who just doesn’t know when to give up. Struck in an ending loop where he is losing against the malicious Lee Lim who is using the mythical flute to gather an army. This army is made up of people who kill their counterparts in the other world and take their place, when called they fight till the end for Lee Lim. 

When Lee Gon changes the timeline, he ends up removing himself from Jeong Tae Eul’s life but in a fateful twist, she still remembers him. However, in this new timeline, Lee Gon and Jo Yeong never came to Korea. Lee Gon’s love and unwavering resolve do not let him give in and he travels to different worlds to find his Jeong Tae Eul. He visits innumerable worlds and possibilities but their love never dies. One day, Lee Gon finally enters the day in 2021 with his horse and he reunites with Jeong Tae Eul who says, ‘You finally arrived.’ It becomes the beginning of an extraordinary end to their otherworldly love story. 


3. Open Ending

The beauty of open endings is hardly appreciated in the world of conventional happy endings. The special charm of open endings remains in the possibility of how things might turn out is left to the viewers' perspective. Secondly, open endings are a great way to conclude a story that stands apart from what the world might accept. 

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The King: Eternal Monarch, like most of the fantasy K-dramas, ends with an open ending. However, its open ending was different from what one might have seen in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, Hotel Del Luna, and others. Open endings don’t necessarily mean sad endings, they rather stand for an ending that seems to answer almost all questions but leaves one or two for interpretation. 


At the end of The King: Eternal Monarch, Lee Gon, and Jeong Tae Eul decide to live in their own worlds but find a creative way to make it work. You don’t see a wedding or a family in this ending but one does see the Lee Gon(Lee Min Ho) and Jeong Tae Eul tirelessly loving each other and making it work even when two parallel worlds separate them. 

Lee Gon and Jeong Tae Eul for their remaining life, continue their roles as a king and a detective respectively but they meet every weekend to spend time with each other. Using the mythical flute they travel different timelines and worlds to spend time with each other and they continue the same for the rest of their lives. 

The last scene in the most beautiful moment shows Lee Gon and Jeong Tae Eul’s hands getting old with time as proof they made it work till the end. Their romance was not your conventional love story it had the biggest obstacles and it deserved nothing less of a majestic end. And this ending with them loving each other through times, worlds and every hindrance was the most majestic end The King: Eternal Monarch could get.

Maybe it's time to rewatch the beautiful story of Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun unfold in The King: Eternal Monarch.

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ALSO READ: Top 15 best Korean actors of all time: Lee Min Ho, Park Seo Joon, more

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Tanya, on this side of the screen, probably with a Bangtan Bomb and my K-pop playlist on the play.

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Credits: SBS
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