Arthdal Chronicles[4] (Korean아스달 연대기) is a 2019 South Korean television series written by Kim Young-hyun and Park Sang-yeon and directed by Kim Won-seok, under the production banner of Studio Dragon and KPJ, starring Jang Dong-gun, Kim Ok-vin, alongside Song Joong-ki, Kim Ji-won in first season, Lee Joon-gi, Shin Se-kyung in second season.[5][6][7] Regarded as the first Korean ancient fantasy drama,[8] the story takes place during the Bronze Age and is loosely based on the story of Dangun, the founder of the first Korean Kingdom of Gojoseon.[9] The first season aired from June 1 to September 22, 2019, on tvN's Saturdays and Sundays at 21:00 (KST) time slot.[10][11] The second season premiered on September 9, 2023 on tvN and airs every Saturday and Sunday at 21:20 (KST).[12] It is available for streaming on Netflix for the first season and on Disney+ for the second season in selected regions.[13][14][12]

Arthdal Chronicles
Promotional poster for season two
Also known asArthdal Chronicles: The Sword of Aramun[1]
아스달 연대기
아스달 年代記
Revised RomanizationAseudal yeondaegi
McCune–ReischauerAsŭdal yŏndaegi
Developed byStudio Dragon (planning)
Written by
Directed by
Music by
Country of originSouth Korea
Original languageKorean
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes22 (as of September 17, 2023 (2023-09-17))
Executive producers
  • Kim Young-gyu (season 1)
  • Lee Ki-hyuk (season 2)
  • Jang Jin-wook
  • Jo Nam-hyung
  • Shin Ye-ji
  • Ham Seung-hoon
Production locations
  • South Korea
  • Brunei
Camera setupSingle camera
Running time75–80 minutes[1][2]
Production companies
  • Studio Dragon
  • KPJ Corporation
Budget₩54 billion (season 1)[3]
Original networktvN
Original releaseJune 1, 2019 (2019-06-01) –

In spite of the generally mixed to negative reception from critics, the series was the sixth most preferred Korean drama among viewers in the United States market in 2019 per Consumer Research Report by the Korea Creative Content Agency.[15][16]

Synopsis Edit

In a mythical land called Arth, the inhabitants of the ancient city of Arthdal contend with power struggles, while some encounter love along the way. Eun-seom goes through hardships to bring his tribe back to life and learns of his true origins in the process.[17][18]

Cast and characters Edit

Production Edit

Season 1 Edit

The cast and crew attended a workshop in Yangju, Gyeonggi-do, on August 21, 2018.[19] The first script reading was held on August 26, 2018.[20] Filming officially started on December 5, 2018 with the opening ceremony of the set in Osan,[21] whose construction took place for eight months.[22] The drama was also filmed overseas in Brunei, with Song Joong-ki departing first on February 24, 2019.[23]

The drama serves as a reunion project for Song Joong-ki and Kim Ji-won who both starred in the 2016 hit drama Descendants of the Sun.[6]

Season 2 Edit

On February 12, 2020, it was announced that the drama was renewed for a second season.[24] On June 11, 2020, it was announced that the production schedule was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been excluded from the 2021 lineup.[25]

In February 2022, it was announced that the second season was expected to be released in early 2023 along with a webtoon and an MMORPG.[26][27] Writers Kim Young-hyun and Park Sang-yeon would be in charge of the script again, with Kim Kwang-sik as director.[28] Titled Arthdal Chronicles: The Sword of Aramun (Korean아라문의 검-아스달 연대기), the season is set about eight years later;[29] thus, Lee Joon-gi and Shin Se-kyung replaced Song Joong-ki and Kim Ji-won as the adult versions of Eun-seom and Tan-ya,[30][31] while Jang Dong-gun and Kim Ok-vin reprised their roles.[32] Filming began on August 23, 2022[32] and took place in Jeju Island.[33] Shin finished filming her part on April 4, 2023.[34] Filming was completed on May 2, 2023.[35][36]

Reception Edit

Critical reception Edit

The drama received mixed reviews. It was criticized by Game of Thrones fans for sharing similarities with that series, while critics felt that it employs poor use of CGI, has a formulaic plot, is similar to other foreign fantasy dramas and films centered on ancient times, and has a slow-paced storyline, which can make viewers lose interest.[37][38] Viewers were also bewildered by the historical setting, as the drama is set in the Bronze Age but cast members are seen wearing armors and weapons that do not belong to that era.[39]

Conversely, the drama was praised for its intriguing storyline and unique setting, touching on subjects like the meaning of a tribe, an alliance and a nation, as well as religion.[39] Writer Park Sang-yeon said, "I wouldn't even think of comparing our series to [Game of Thrones] and I don't think our goal is to create something similar... I wouldn't try to claim to do anything similar to the show and I don't think it's an appropriate comparison." He added, "We tried to create a great series by building a fictitious world of our own with our imagination and I hope you see our series as it is."[40]

Although John Serba of gave the series a "Skip It" rating, he said, "Arthdal occurs in a more primitive time than [Game of Thrones], and appears to be set up to explore different ideas about the human creature and its thirst for power and possessions." He said that the show further differentiates itself from Game of Thrones by its absence of nudity and sex scenes.[41] Forbes contributor Joan MacDonald said, "Stunning camera work makes The Arthdal Chronicles a visual pleasure to watch, capturing sweeping panoramas that place fledgeling humans in the context of a wide world waiting to be explored—and possibly conquered."[42]

The series received lower-than-expected viewership ratings, in comparison to its massive budget,[43][44] but the first episode received ratings of 6.7 percent and peaked at 8 percent, placing it first for all dramas in its time slot, including non-cable broadcasting stations.[45] It achieved a ratings high on June 9, with its fourth episode, scoring an average rating of 7.7 percent nationwide, which was an increase of 1.3 percent from the night before.[46] The episode peaked at 8.9 percent nationwide.[47]

Staff mistreatment Edit

The production team was criticized for mistreatment of its production staff. The production team was accused of violating labor laws from local civic groups, including the Seoul-based Hanbit Media Labor Rights Center and Hope Solidarity Labor Union, as the drama crew had been subject to a "murderous" working environment that made them work up to 150 hours a week.[48] The organizations reported Studio Dragon to the Seoul Employment and Labor Administration. The standards were agreed upon and announced by the studio last September to enhance the labor environment of its staff.[37][49]

Studio Dragon responded to the allegations, saying they abided by its own labor rules, but admitted that they had filmed for 113 hours during the week they went to Brunei in order to make the most out of their time shooting overseas. The studio denied reports that an injured staff member was ignored and told to continue working.[50][37][51]

Original soundtrack Edit

Soundtrack album by
Various artists

Part 1 Edit

Released on July 6, 2019 (2019-07-06)
1."The Poem of Destiny (운명의 시)"
  • Seo Dong-sung
  • Park Sung-il
2."The Poem of Destiny (운명의 시)" (Inst.) 
  • Park Sung-il
Total length:7:18

Part 2 Edit

Released on September 22, 2019 (2019-09-22)
1."Bloody Dreams (붉은 꿈)"
  • Seo Dong-sung
  • Park Sung-il
2."Bloody Dreams (붉은 꿈)" (Inst.) 
  • Park Sung-il
Total length:7:10

Special OST Edit

Released on October 22, 2019 (2019-10-22)
1."The Poem of Destiny" (운명의 시)Ailee3:39
2."Bloody Dreams" (붉은 꿈)Hareem3:35
3."Arthdal Chronicles" (아스달 연대기)Kim Jun Suk1:09
4."Arth, The Prelude To All Legends" (아스, 그 모든 전설의 서곡)Park Sung Il & Kim Sun Kyung4:40
5."Arthdal, The Eternal Dream!" (아스달, 그 영원한 꿈!)Jeong Se-Rin5:09
6."The Beginning Of A Legend" (전설의 시작)Kim Joon Suk3:06
7."Tagon's Song" (타곤의 노래)Park Sung Il2:43
8."But I Want You" (그래도 나는 너를 바란다)Judah Earl3:04
9."An Unfinished Story" (끝나지 않은 이야기)Kim Joon Suk3:46
10."A Strong Will" (굳센 의지)Lee Yoon Ji3:44
11."An Unforgettable Name" (버릴 수 없는 이름)Judah Earl3:47
12."War In The Silence" (고요 속의 전쟁)Noh Yoo Rim3:53
13."Unexpected Intruder" (예상치 못한 침입자)Joo In Ro2:21
14."I'll Go Save You" (널 구하러 갈게)Shin Yoo Jin3:10
15."High Priest Niruha!" (대제관 니르하시여!)Lee Roo Ri3:24
16."To Their Glorious Deaths" (빛나는 죽음을 위하여)Park Sung Il3:23
17."Taealha" (태알하)Goo Bon Choon1:35
18."Inverted Sky" (뒤집히는 하늘)Kim Hyun Do3:41
19."The Chase Of Daekan" (대칸의 추격)Judah Earl3:13
20."The Man Who Killed His Father" (아버지를 죽인 자)Judah Earl3:03
21."You'll Kill Them All" (모두 죽이게 될 것이다)Kim Hyun Do3:17
22."The Advance Of Tagon" (타곤의 진격)Son Sung Rak2:43
23."The Edge Of The World" (세상의 끝)Lee Roo Ri3:04
24."A Land Of Conflicting Desires" (욕망이 부딪치는 땅)Greg Johnson3:57
25."Chaos Continues" (혼돈의 연속)Kim Hyun Do5:19
26."A Chasing Sword" (조여오는 검)Greg Johnson3:42
27."Alive God, Aramun Haesulla" (살아있는 신, 아라문해슬라)Park Sung Il3:16
28."Eunseom And Saya" (은섬과 사야)Lee Roo Ri3:11
29."People Fallen Into Grief" (눈물에 묶인 자들)Jeong Se-Rin2:42
30."The Great Black Cliff" (대흑벽)Lee Yoon Ji3:07
31."To The Sea Of Momo" (모모의 바다로)Kim Sun Kyung2:19
32."A Town In Ruins" (폐허가 된 마을)Lee Yoon Ji2:44
33."A Lonely King" (외로운 왕)Kim Joon Suk2:56
34."Fate Divided By Choice" (운명을 가른 선택)Jeong Se-Rin3:14
35."The Last Greeting Under Moonshine" (달빛 아래 마지막 인사)Jeong Se-Rin4:30
36."Unfocused" (어긋난 힘)Noh Yoo Rim3:09
37."The Blue Nova And The Foretold Child" (푸른 객성, 그 예언의 아이)Lee Roo Ri3:33
38."A Misfortune" (비운)Lee Yoon Ji2:41
39."Sad Confession" (슬픈 고백)Jeong Se-Rin4:02
40."A Child In The Tower" (탑 속의 아이)Park Sung Il3:26
41."Horrible Death" (참혹한 죽음)Lee Yoon Ji2:41
42."The Story Goes On" (이야기는 이어진다)Judah Earl3:01
43."The Three Of Us" (같은 날 태어난 우리 셋)Lee Roo Ri4:39
44."Chaos" (혼돈의 연속)Goo Bon Choon2:34
45."Hidden Story" (숨겨둔 이야기)Lee Roo Ri2:26
46."The Confrontation Of Anger" (분노의 대립)Noh Yoo Rim2:52
47."Capturing Race" (수 싸움)Kim Jung Wan2:33
48."The Power To Protect" (지키려는 힘)Goo Bon Choon2:49
49."Curse Of Death" (죽음의 저주)Shin Yoo Jin2:42
50."Bloody Bracelet" (피 묻은 팔찌)Lee Roo Ri3:13
51."Blood of Igutu" (이그트의 피)Joo In Ro3:11
52."Crisis Of Arth" (아스의 위기)Kim Hyun Do3:00
53."Sword Battle" (단칼의 승부)Joo In Ro3:22
54."The Judgment Of The Waterfall" (폭포의 심판)Kim Jung Wan2:18
55."Blood Oath" (피의 맹세)Kim Hyun Do2:22
56."Pure Souls" (순백한 영혼들)Seo Ye Rin1:34
57."The Xabara Of Momo" (모모의 샤바라)Kim Hyun Do2:57
58."Second Coming Of Inaishingi" (이나이신기의 재림)Shin Yoo Jin2:51
59."Conspiracy Of Asa Ron" (아사론의 음모)Joo In Ro2:17
60."Rising Ground" (일어나는 땅)Kim Hyun Do2:35
61."Blade Of Threat" (위협의 칼날)Seo Ye Rin2:14
62."Beginning Of Tragedy" (비극의 시작)Shin Yoo Jin2:30
63."Pursuit Of Blood" (피로 물든 추격)Joo In Ro2:46
Total length:3:16:24

Viewership Edit

The first episode recorded average ratings of 6.7% and peaked at 8%, taking first place for all dramas in its time slot, including non-cable broadcasting stations.[45] The drama's personal record of 7.7% was on its fourth episode. Its finale scored an average rating of 7.4% nationwide.[52] The series entered the list of highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television.

Arthdal Chronicles : South Korea viewers per episode (millions)
SeasonEpisode numberAverage
Source: Audience measurement performed nationwide by Nielsen Korea.[53]

Season 1 Edit

Season 2 Edit

Average TV viewership ratings (season 2)
Ep. Original broadcast date Average audience share
(Nielsen Korea)[55]
Nationwide Seoul
1 September 9, 2023 4.969% (1st) 5.363% (1st)
2 September 10, 2023 4.620% (1st) 4.676% (1st)
3 September 16, 2023 5.004% (1st) 5.617% (1st)
4 September 17, 2023 4.957% (1st) 5.369% (1st)
5 September 23, 2023
6 September 24, 2023
7 September 30, 2023
8 October 1, 2023
9 October 7, 2023
10 October 8, 2023
11 October 14, 2023
12 October 15, 2023
  • In the table above, the blue numbers represent the lowest ratings and the red numbers represent the highest ratings.
  • This series airs on a cable channel/pay TV which normally has a relatively smaller audience compared to free-to-air TV/public broadcasters (KBS, SBS, MBC and EBS).

Awards and nominations Edit

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2018 Korea First Brand Awards Most Anticipated Drama of 2019 Arthdal Chronicles Won [56]
2019 12th Korea Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress Kim Ji-won Nominated [57]
Asia Artist Awards Actor of the Year (Daesang) Jang Dong-gun Won [58]
9th Korean Wave Awards Cultural Tourism Grand Prize Osan Won [59][60]

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Korean예언의 아이들; RRYeeon-ui aideul
  2. ^ Korean뒤집히는 하늘, 일어나는 땅; RRDwijipineun haneul, ir-eonaneun ttang
  3. ^ Korean아스, 그 모든 전설의 서곡; RRAseu, geu modeun jeonseor-ui seogok

References Edit

  1. ^ a b "Arthdal Chronicles: The Sword of Aramun (2023)". CJ ENM. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Arthdal Chronicles (2018)". CJ ENM. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  3. ^ Moon Ji-yeon (May 28, 2019). [SC현장] "어렵지 않다"..장동건X송중기 '아스달 연대기', 540억 대작 韓'왕좌의 게임'(종합) [[SC site] "It's not difficult"..Jang Dong-gun X Song Joong-ki 'Arthdal Chronicles', 54 billion blockbuster Korean 'Game of Thrones' (comprehensive)]. Sports Chosun (in Korean) – via Naver.
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