Cover Here are five things to know about "Kingdom: Ashin of the North" (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)

From the plot to the cast, here are five things you need to know about the upcoming Kingdom: Ashin of the North special episode

Netflix's first original Korean series, Kingdom, premiered to critical and commercial success, prompting a second season and now a special episode that follows the origins of a new mysterious character, Ashin. Kingdom provided a refreshing take on both the historical and horror genres, highlighting political struggle set against the backdrop of zombies.

The highly anticipated special episode, which premieres on July 23, has been the talk of the town ever since Ashin made an appearance at the end of the second season and is set to provide an expansion of the Kingdom series. Curious to know more? Keep reading.

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1. The Plot

Towards the end of season two, Chang and Seo-bi find the resurrection plant near the Chinese border and are told by the villagers that someone from China is selling it. We see the final shot of a woman, Ashin, smiling mysteriously. It's theorised that Ashin is spreading the virus on purpose. But the question is: Why?

In this "sidequel", that question and many others will be answered as we follow the backstory of Ashin, who seems to know about the origins of the resurrection plant that brings people back from the dead. Ashin’s identity and the part she plays in the events that take place in the Kingdom series will also be explored.

In the short but tense teaser, the footage also shows a young Ashin holding a torch as she enters a dark, eerie cave. Inside, she discovers strange markings on a rock and the resurrection plant. An accompanying text reads, "To revive the dead, a price must be paid".

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2. The Cast

We already know that hallyu star Jun Ji-hyun (or Gianna Jun) will be headlining the drama from her cameo appearance at the end of season two. This marks Jun's highly-anticipated small screen comeback, five years after her last Korean drama, Legend of the Blue Sea.

Other than Jun, only two other cast members are confirmed. Park Byung-eun is returning as Min Chi-rok, member of the Royal Commandery who encounters Ashin in the freezing cold northern regions. He later becomes the Head of the Royal Commandery Division and helps Crown Prince Lee Chang fight against the conspiracy to seize the throne in Kingdom. Kim Shi-a will be playing the young Ashin.

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3. The Teaser Photos

Netflix has released five teaser posters for the much-anticipated special episode. One of the teaser photos shows the young Ashin from the first teaser trailer. In the other image, the resurrection plant takes on a mystical, ethereal image with magenta-hued blossoms.

Other images include the mesmerising eyes of an infected tiger and a reflection of the resurrection plant, the gruesome bodies of those who suffered cruel and mysterious deaths and the young Ashin standing in a field of resurrection plants that can revive the dead.

4. The Crew

Screenwriter Kim Eun-hee and director Kim Seong-hun—the duo who worked on the Kingdom series—are also helming this special episode. Writer Kim is also writing Jirisan, Jun's upcoming Korean drama together with Ju Ji-hoon (who plays Crown Prince Lee Chang in the Kingdom series). Kim also wrote the critically acclaimed drama, Signal.

Meanwhile, Kingdom is director Kim's first television series. He previously worked on movies, The Tunnel (2016) and A Hard Day (2014), the latter earned him several Best Director awards.

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5. The Official Poster

The official poster sees Ashin covered in a dark robe, facing incoming enemies. Her stance looks calm, not alarmed but she's holding the bow in her hand. Smoke is also coming from the enemy lines and part of the grass is covered in fire. The words, "Vengeance is coming", is wirtten at the top of the poster.

The special episode summary describes Ashin as "the woman abandoned by all" which is most likely why she's the only person facing the enemies in the poster.

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