5 Killer Moments in Kingdom Ashin of the North (킹덤: 아신전)
Spicy scenes of the movie
Now that my spoiler-free review is out (which you should review first here), we can start talking about the nitty-gritty scenes of Kingdom: Ashin of the North, and there’s quite a lot to talk about. This will naturally have spoilers so look away if you haven’t seen the Netflix special episode yet, and then come back once you’ve finished the 90 minute movie. You have? Awesome, let’s dissect 5 of my Ashin of the North killer moments that will have you feeling a spectrum of feels. Buckle up.
This was an intense scene as the gathered villagers along with members of the Royal Guard head into the mountains to kill the tiger, blamed for slaughtering the Pajoewi people. It was only a matter of time before limbs would fly in all directions… and yeah, that’s exactly what happened. It’s no ordinary tiger they’re dealing with after all. The tiger clawed, bit, stabbed and sliced the few running villagers it managed to prey on, each in pretty raw fatalities.
The Royal Guard aimed to find the tiger first, only for a group of Paejowi Jurchens hiding among the villagers had their sights to avenge the tiger that killed their brothers. The tiger led onto the field before peering out of the tall crops, sorting its decaying head and oozing skin. After being confronted by both the Jurchen and Royal Guard, who spears the tiger to die (for real), a Jurchen splices open the tigers guts, revealing decomposed organs, decayed internals and black blood… but no bones of any sort.
The moment when Ashin breaks into the Joseon Royal Commander’s quarter was the moment Ashin we once knew no longer existed. Ashin discovers the truth behind what really happened to the killed Pajeowi in Pyesa-gun and her village people: the Haewon Cho clan murdered the Jurchen people and to cover up for the Joseon Kingdom’s mistake, the Royal Commander threw the village Jurchens under the historical bus and placed the blame on the village people. The Pajeowi butchered and massacred the village in retaliation after believing it was their doing, only for it to really be the Joseon.
Ashin staggered outside, trudging within the lightly guarded Joseon camp, thinking about how she has slaved away all these years patiently waiting for the day Joseon would avenger her father’s death. Lest to say, after all the years of Ashin’s struggles within Joseon, this was the final nail in the coffin and gave birth to bloodlust Ashin and the zombie onslaught she would unleash upon Joseon.
When Ashin is told to go back over Amnok river and spy on the Pajeowi once again, she decides to infiltrate the camp, rather than look from afar. The main Pajeowi force are seen riding out, before Ashin crouches within to avoid patrolling guards. After seeking to hide in one of the wooden shelters, a Jurchen heads straight towards her. He opens the door as Ashin hides in the corner, watching the Jurchen. Here, we see him drag something out from the ground in what looks like a prisoner, mockingly ‘feeding’ him by slushing whatever gloop over his face. It’s hard to make out from Ashin’s view but once the guard leaves the building, Ashin lurks from the shadow and slowly approaches the prisoner.
Her father Tahab – who we thought was killed by the Pajoewi after Ashin found his necklace hung with corpses of the villagers – was actually held captive all these years at the Pajoewi Jurchen camp. While I kind of thought it was the father, nothing could prepare me for what we saw next. The hope seen in Ashin’s eyes – finally seeing her father after all this time – were short-lived, as you could hear her heart swiftly breaking into a thousand pieces. Her voice choked at the sight of her father Tahab, who has lived through torturous hell all this time, in some of the worst ways possible. Both his arms and legs were completely chopped off. His smiling face seen at the beginning of the movie is a shadow of his lifeless face, overgrown grey beard and hair with bits of food, notched with a wooden block cuffing his neck. It read ‘traitor to his own people’. He struggles to muster energy to speak, and is barely able to look and recognise his beloved daughter Ashin. Feels. Huge feels.
Ashin cries agonising, distressing pain as she struggles to come to terms with seeing her father and his limbless body. The outcry speaks of all the questions racing through her mind and the resulting despair he must have been feeling all this time. Ashin weeps, chaotically tugging on the chains that bind him, all while tears flow down. He lays against the wall, lifelessly asking Ashin to kill him. ‘Let’s go home’ she cries. In which he replies ‘No more.. just kill me’.
Ashin cannot even grief as she tries to quieten her cry. Heartbreak is a huge understatement. She manages to break the chains, cradling her father ‘아빠’ in her arms to find some comfort for each other. He sheds a tear before asking Ashin to finally kill him, having experienced hell beyond measure that life is no longer worth living, even after reuniting with Ashin. She holds him tight before putting his misery to an end with a knife to the neck. She concedes the idea of breaking out and living together once again was more than a hopeful wish. Family was everything to her and after losing everyone she loved in the worst of ways, having to kill her father is another burden she has to bare.
The end presented a shocking revelation that we’ve been blindsided all this time about. It’s easy to define when Ashin went cray-cray, killing every Joseon in the camp. But it also revealed how Ashin was psychologically disturbed much earlier, just clinging onto sanity before the events tipped her over the iceberg. With all but one Joseon slaughtered as he weeped for his life, Ashin dragged a sack along the ground as she made her way back from the camp to her Boundary Village home. She reminisced the village, and her family arrived to the once shelter that was her home… only to flip back to reality in the burned down grounds. Her shelter is still somewhat standing and inside is the shocking discovery that she did indeed bring her entire village back to life!
Chained and as disgusting as ever – even Ashin’s little sister viciously craving for human flesh – it revealed three important points. It tie to the ending of Season 2, explaining why unchained zombies rushed to our season 2 crown Prince after entering the Pyesa-gun mountains, it meant Ashin knew what she was doing when she handled the mysterious and deadly plant. Less experimental and more of her intent to plague the Joseon country. She followed the ritual of the shrine in the mountains to ‘resurrect’ her village, tracked down the once reputed military leader Ahn-Hyeon to share word of the plants resurrection power, witholding the fact they come back as the undead. Her promise to kill every Joseon before joining her family to fully ‘reunite’ with them only speaks of how mentally fargone Ashin has become, all the while being a deadly marksman.
Phew. Crazy, right? Those are my 5 moments in Kingdom: Ashin in the North core to the story, the brilliance and the emotional genius of the prequel special. Watching it several times back reveals a few more details we as viewers can appreciate more, making the incoming season 3 as exciting as ever to see where we go from here. There are still a few questions pruposefull left within Ashin of the North so check out my next article on what we hope season 3 will answer. Whats your favourite moment? Share them down in the comments below!