I completely understand the urge to compare Joseon Exorcist to Kingdom. I was among the first to do so, but I was completely wrong; the only commonality between them is that they're both during the Joseon dynasty. And rather than zombies, the living corpses, as the drama call them, far surpass the evil that existed in the drama Kingdom in their abilities. It's like they are evil spirits infused with zombies and vampires, quite exciting.
In the first episode, I struggled to understand the story's premise of how and why these evil spirits (saengsi) came to exist. But this episode cleared quite a few things in that I've at least come to understand what these living corpses are, if not how they've come to existence. I've reconciled that somehow, ten years ago, these saengsi manifested themselves. The now King, Prince then, fought them, captured their leader, Azazel, a devil who steals souls by cultivating human greed and darkness. The Prince sealed Azazel away, preventing it from being reborn. But a decade later, it was able to escape, coming back to terrorize the dynasty and the King. And what better way to do it than possessing his youngest son, Prince Gangyeong (Moon Woo Jin); ingenious indeed. Kudos to Moon Woo Jin for his admirable acting at such a young age impressive.
I love King Taejong (Kam Woo Sung); he's exactly what a nation's leader should be, calm, calculating, and precise in his intentions and rulings. But like all Monarchs, despite loving his children, he fails to demonstrate that love and unknowingly drives a wedge between them. And, of course, his sons are a total contrast to him. Prince Chungnyeong's (Jang Dong Yoon) only interest in life has been the pursuit of academics. At the same time, Crown Prince Yangnyung (Park Sung Hoon) would do anything for his father's approval.
From the living corpses to the chaos of politics, it all seems to work towards driving a wedge between the King and his sons. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see the path the King and each of his sons' take in their fight against these evil spirits; it almost feels like the leader is mustering up an army of evil spirits. I wasn't sure what to make of this drama from its first episode, but it's hooked me with its second; now I cannot wait to see what the next episode brings. Watch Episode 2 here.