K-Pop and K-Dramas: ATEEZ’s ‘Kingdom:Legendary War’ Storyline

Promotional image of Jeong Yunho, Choi San, Kang Yeosang, Kim Hongjoong, Jung Wooyoung, Choi Jongho, and Park Seonghwa. Copyright goes to ATEEZ and KQ Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

‘Kingdom: Legendary War’ is now over and with that ATEEZ has finished up the storyline spanning all of their performances. Unlike most other contestants of this show, ATEEZ used every single performance for their group to tell one full story. Over everything else ATEEZ came to ‘Kingdom’ to demonstrate who they are, and nothing is more true to ATEEZ than an epic story. A lot of this is still theory, but it does demonstrate how everything connects. So let’s look at what ATEEZ gave us!

Performance 1: (“Symphony No.9”) “From the Wonderland”

This performance was more of an introduction to ATEEZ for the show. However, it already sets up the rich storyline with the first shot. In it we see an unknown person dressed in black handing Hongjoong an hourglass. The hourglass is ATEEZ’s symbol and it’s also an object that has the ability to travel between parallel universes. The man handing over the hourglass is wearing an interesting outfit. Fans will notice that the black fedora and suit is reminiscent of the outfits ATEEZ wore in the music videos for “HALA HALA” and “Say My Name”, the latter of which explores the idea of parallel universes. This means this man is likely a member of Halateez, the fan name for the parallel versions of ATEEZ introduced in “Say My Name”. We don’t see much of Halateez after this, but we do see ATEEZ on their pirate ship fighting off a sea monster and being general badasses. With hints from their final performance we know that Halateez gave ATEEZ supplies to help them fight off the sea monster. After Seonghwa kills the sea monster with a gun given to him by Halateez, it appears that Halateez needs them to help take down the government from their parallel universe. Which leads to the next performance.

Performance 2: (“The Awakening of Summer”) “Rhythm Ta”

This performance starts with the world building we needed for Halateez’s parallel universe, showing that multiple instruments have been taped over with red tape reading “PROHIBITED”. We hear over the radio that human emotion has been declared a disease. In other words, this universe’s government has decided that free expression leads to crime. Then ATEEZ breaks in, staging a heist for an unknown object. But the ATEEZ we see here isn’t the real ATEEZ; It’s Halateez. This performance appears to be a flashback, showing why Halateez needs the help of the real ATEEZ in the first place. In it we see through newspapers that the government has been searching for Halateez because they have been deliberately acting against their anti-art laws. We get to see them in action too as they inspire revolution, convincing others to join them in their rebellion against the government and its new stance against art. While they generally encourage anarchy, they also use music and speeches to get the masked dancers not only to aid the revolution, but also to help with the heist. At the end of this performance we see Halateez Hongjoong steal the hourglass we saw from the first performance. This confirms that Halateez Hongjoong was the masked figure in the first performance who handed over the hourglass to the real Hongjoong and recruited the real ATEEZ. All that’s left now is the final battle.

Performance 3: (“Ode to Joy”) “Answer”

This performance finishes off the storyline. To be honest, it’s probably the most confusing performance for those who haven’t been following the story so far, which may be why so many viewers were confused by the storytelling here. It starts with Yeosang in the translucent box seen in the music video for “Say My Name”. He appears in the box with Halateez Seonghwa, who activates the hourglass during a full moon, which is when they apparently need to use it, to take the real ATEEZ to Halateez’s parallel universe. Once they arrive, masked and chained figures who serve as the government’s forces attack Yunho. In the next shot we see both versions of ATEEZ together. The real ATEEZ are dressed in white and are portrayed by, of course, the real ATEEZ. Halateez are portrayed by backup dancers dressed in black outfits and masked, but they mimic the movements of the real ATEEZ to make it clear that they are parallel versions of them. They clink glasses while they prepare to fight. Once Hongjoong’s verse starts we see the backup dancers behind him act out Halateez’s involvement in the other performances, giving ATEEZ weapons in performance one and recruiting the masked dancers in performance two. After this the fight ensues and we see some amazing fight choreography between the government forces and ATEEZ. Meanwhile, Jongho rejects the crown handed to him. This seems to be more symbolism for the competition than it is part of the story. It shows that ATEEZ didn’t need to win to be proud of what they accomplished here. As the fight finishes, we see that Halateez lies with the government forces among the fallen. The real ATEEZ is the only group that stands triumphant in the end.

With all this talk of parallel universes, it’s no wonder so many people were confused by the story. But it’s such a creative story that you can’t help but admire ATEEZ for using it for the entirety of ‘Kingdom’. Maybe its climax was the type of thing that mainly fans would understand, but that’s who ATEEZ dedicated their performances to, anyway. They wanted to make a story that was just as important to them as it was for Atiny. And even though they didn’t nab the first place position, they succeeded. Third place is also really amazing! They did so well!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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