ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Netflix’s Arthdal Chronicles: An Epic Saga

Updated on June 17, 2019
Larinna profile image

Larinna is a movie buff and aspires to be a movie critic, hopefully. She also loves Korean dramas.

'Arthdal Chronicles' episodes are released weekly on Saturdays and Sundays on Netflix
'Arthdal Chronicles' episodes are released weekly on Saturdays and Sundays on Netflix | Source

Recently released internationally through Netflix, South Korea’s Arthdal Chronicles is a fictional historical epic saga that boasts of prominent and popular Korean actors and of a gargantuan production budget. It is a large-scale production that promises to deliver a fantasy drama series of epic proportions. It is currently on its third week of airing, with six episodes already released.

The series stars Song Joong Ki (from the hugely popular, in and out of South Korea, Descendants of the Sun), Kim Jiwon (of Descendants of the Sun fame as well), Kim Okbin (who starred in the action-packed The Villainess, which had its world premiere at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in 2017) and Jang Dong-gun (of Hallyu’s All About Eve in 2000, and more recently, of “Gentleman’s Dignity” where he starred with Kim Ha-neul).

The Story of Arthdal

Set in a mythical historical world, the four main characters - Eun Som (Song Joong Ki), Tanya (Kim Jiwon), Tae Al-ha (Kim Okbin) and Tagon (Jang Dong Gun) are the moving forces that will change the fate of Arthdal.

Eun Som and Tanya are born cursed as signified by the falling of the Azure Comet when they were born. Born of a Neoanthal (a human-like creature that is stronger and more powerful than humans) and of a Saram (a human), Eunsom together with Tanya, of Wahan descent (who can speak the same language as the people of Arthdal) are destined to end the world, as prophesied.

Tae Al-ha, from the Hae clan – migrates, from another land across the oceans, who successfully established their own stronghold in the upper echelons of Arthdal through their knowledge of science – is beautiful, ambitious and intelligent, cunning even, who has both the Union Chief of Arthdal, San-ung and his own son and perceived rival, Tagon, in the palm of her hands. Her decisions will prove vital and influential to the power clash between father and son.

Tagon, the main antagonist to our protagonist, Eun Som, in the story, is a powerful and brilliant strategic warrior who leads the Daekan forces of Arthdal to its victory and probably, to its eventual doom? He was instrumental to the demise of the Neoanthal and Wahan race, and will, predictably, receive the wrath of vengeance and retribution in the foreseeable future.


In spite of its grandiosity, why the lukewarm response from the Korean audience?

As of this writing, it has received a dismal 7.7% rating as its highest since its first week of run in South Korea. Despite the hype, it has performed below expectations, to everyone’s surprise. It has great promise but failed to entice the South Korean audience.

From what I’ve gathered in various forums and discussions, some of the possible reasons for the low rating in Korea could be any of the following:

  • Low quality CGI. Given the hype and the production costs, there were high expectations in the graphic effects, but it was subpar and incomparable to other great productions.
  • Convoluted story . There are too many characters to fully immerse yourself in the story. It is not that kind of drama where you can afford to miss one episode then pick up on it a few episodes later. You have to devote time.
  • It’s a historical drama but it has no relation to Korean history at all. While this may seem absurd to some (most specially to international fans), the concept and plot of the series is too foreign to the Korean audience. Koreans love their historical dramas. Most of the time, historical dramas do very well in Korea, even if they were the type to seem to go on forever, having 50 to 100 episodes. Koreans are strong nationalists and they love watching their own history unfold before them in the screens. Some historical dramas are actual depictions of Korean history while others are adaptations, sometimes also infused by magic, but always inspired by their history. However, as historical as Arthdal Chronicles may seem, it is a complete fictional story that has no roots to Korean history.

It is, fortunately, making waves in the international arena

We love Korean dramas and thus, the CGI is somewhat forgivable and tolerable. Added to this fact is that there is no expectations with its CGI. The Korean actors cast in this drama, specifically Song Joong Ki, has a massive international following, and would be more than enough for the potential viewers to give this a chance.

Consequently, its timing could not be any more perfect. The epic giant of a series, Game of Thrones, has not too long ago released its final episode, putting a close to the heart wrenching saga which spanned eight long years. The fans of said series – which is a BIG fandom and which means there is a big market to tap into - are most probably looking for something to fill the drama void. The similarity in genre makes Arthdal Chronicles a welcome reprieve to quench the drama thirst.

There are a lot of characters and you have to truly follow the story to be able to understand, but it helps that Arthdal Chronicles has subtitles for the foreign audience. It does a lot of wonders and you can also always go back and replay what you missed. Unlike, I would imagine, for the majority of the Korean audience who watch it as it is aired on tvN – a cable channel. Although yes, it is also available on Netflix for streaming, the bulk of the TV audience share makes a huge difference.

The nuances of the culture that is shown or not shown in the drama, that can be off putting for Koreans, may or may not seep in the translation, which can be a plus for the foreign audience. It may be too presumptuous to state, but whether or not it is anchored in Korean history, may also not be a factor for the international viewers.

What then?

Despite and in spite of it all, it all boils down to one thing and that is, lucky or unlucky for Arthdal Chronicles, there is a significant difference in viewing preference and taste between the Korean and the international audience.

The game is not over yet, though. The saga has not yet ended and it will continuously run for three seasons. The second season starts next week, June 24. There is still the possibility of a reversal in audience share and reaction in Korea in the coming weeks.

But for now, the saga continues.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)