Netflix‘s upcoming Kingdom spin-off episode Ashin Of The North is finally set to premiere tomorrow (July 23), featuring scenes that sent “chills down [the] spine” of lead actress Gianna Jun during filming.
First announced in early November last year, Ashin Of The North will reveal more about the popular Korean TV show’s fictitious zombie epidemic and its origins, including the mysterious resurrection plant that featured heavily in the latest season of Kingdom.
For Ashin Of The North lead actress Gianna Jun (also known as Jun Ji-Hyun), who is also a self-professed fan of the show, learning the secrets of the resurrection plant were some of her most memorable moments of filming the 93-minute-long episode.
In the show, Jun portrays the titular character Ashin, who discovers the resurrection plant and uses it to wreak havoc, ultimately unleashing hordes of zombies across the land in an attempt to seek vengeance on those that have wronged her.
“Every time I was shooting those scenes [about the resurrection plants], I felt like that was really penetrating through the entire Kingdom series, so as a fan myself, I really enjoyed shooting those scenes, and I really got chills down my spine in those particular scenes,” she said during a virtual press conference earlier this week.
The press conference, held on July 20, also featured co-star Park Byung-eun, director Kim Seong-hun and screenwriter Kim Eun-hee.
When asked about the physical demands of playing the archer Ashin, Jun revealed that she was already in physical shape, instead highlighting how she had to interpret the anguish and hurt of the character, and how that influenced Ashin’s path to vengeance.
Jun also spoke about coming face-to-face with the zombies on set during the filming process, revealing that it was one of the things she was most excited about before beginning production on the show.
“When I got there on the set, I realised just how much trouble the actors were going through in order to present themselves as convincing zombies. I begged them for pictures as well, so I was able to take pictures with the zombie actors and really brag about it to my friends and family,” she said.
Ashin Of The North will serve as a prequel to the two main seasons of Kingdom, which ends with the former crown prince Lee Chang (played by Ju Ji-hoon) travelling north to discover the origins of a mysterious resurrection plant that is suspected to be behind a zombie outbreak. When they arrive at a deserted village, they discover numerous zombies kept in cages, and a mysterious woman Ashin.
Kingdom: Ashin Of The North will dive into Ashin’s background and origins, and her connections to the resurrection plant and the zombies. A trailer released earlier this month revealed Ashin’s path of vengeance and mission to “kill every living thing on Joseon and Jurchen soil”, referring to the areas known today as East Asia and Korea.
In the press conference, screenwriter Kim Eun-Hee explained the rationale for filming Ashin’s backstory as a feature-length episode, instead of incorporating it into the plot of the third season: “It would be more audience-friendly and also something that will be more conducive to higher quality content if we to provide it in a special episode.”