‘Kingdom’: Is the South Korean Zombie Series Returning for Season 3?

When Netflix’s first South Korean original series, Kingdom, premiered in 2019, the horror series was met with positive reception. Created and written by Kim Eun-hee, the fictional tale takes place during the Joseon Dynasty. Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) embarks on a journey to find the source of a mysterious plague that turns humans into zombies. The second season premiered on the platform in March 2020. Since then, there has been no news regarding a third season. So, did the popular South Korean zombie series get canceled?

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers from Kingdom]

‘Kingdom’ was an international smash hit

Kingdom has received positive feedback from critics, earning 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.4 out of 10 on IMDb. The Netflix series is based on the 2015 webcomic, The Kingdom of the Gods, created by Kim Eun-hee and illustrated by Yang Kyung-il.

In an interview with Forbes, Kim shared that the Kingdom was inspired by the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty – the annual records of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty, kept from 1392 to 1865. The documents detailed thousands of people dying from a mysterious illness. 

Kim decided to draw inspiration from those events and created the narrative for Kingdom. In this case, the mysterious illness was transformed into the zombie plague. “I thought, ‘Maybe I can portray the plague with zombies,’” said Kim. “‘It’ll be a very interesting way to convey the sufferings and pains of the people of that time.’ That’s how I came up with the idea of writing Kingdom.” 

When will ‘Kingdom’ return for Season 3?

Ju Ji-hoon standing with a sword in 'Kingdom.'
Ju Ji-hoon from ‘Kingdom’ Season 2 | Juhan Noh/Netflix

Netflix has not renewed Kingdom for a third season. However, the show has not been canceled either. In July 2021, a special episode titled Kingdom: Ashin of the North was released on the streaming service. The episode serves as a prequel to season 2 – it delves into the origin story of Ashin (Jun Ji-Hyun). Ashin is introduced at the end of the second season. Her journey for revenge ultimately leads to the events that take place in Kingdom

Although Netflix has not renewed Kingdom for a third season, the special episode proves the streaming service is still interested in the series.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kim revealed she has enough ideas to span beyond three seasons, if possible. “Strangely enough, Kingdom is a series that gives me more energy the more I write it,” she explained. “The cast and crew all have great chemistry, and there’s so much more to tell. If viewers allow, I would love to see it develop even up to season 10.”

Kim is grateful for the global success of ‘Kingdom’

Doona Bae staring at an object in 'Kingdom.'
Doona Bae from ‘Kingdom’ Season 2 | Juhan Noh/Netflix

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Kim has expressed her gratitude for the success of Kingdom worldwide. “Through social media and online comments, I felt extremely grateful to see even the smallest of roles getting so much love,” she told THR. 

“What was interesting with season one was how global fans reacted and related to the Korean elements in the show, such as Confucian values, hanbok (traditional Korean attire), hanok (traditional Korean houses), or the palace,” she added. “I also really enjoyed watching the series dubbed in other languages.

Although the show is set in a pandemic, Kim hopes viewers connect to the characters and storyline. “While Kingdom deals with a plague, I tried to put more focus on the story of the people that respond to it rather than the plague itself,” she said.

“Some fight it, some give up, and some use it to rise to power,” she continued. “If viewers were to focus more on those characters, I think it could alleviate the fear toward the epidemic.”

Kingdom is streaming now on Netflix.