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(LEAD) New historical film depicts king and his people growing together in chaotic era

All Headlines 17:04 April 25, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 2,4, 11-15)

SEOUL, April 25 (Yonhap) -- Fox International Productions' new Korean production "Warriors of the Dawn" was unveiled to media for the first time during a press event on Tuesday.

Fox International Productions is the local-language moviemaking arm of the Hollywood studio, 20th Century Fox. It previously invested in four Korean films, including director Na Hong-jin's award-winning supernatural thriller "The Wailing."

Based on a true story that took place after the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592, "Warriors of the Dawn," also known as "The Proxy Soldier," follows a group of mercenaries coming to fulfill the military duties of the ruling "yangban" class for money they badly need to support their family or earn their own living.

The mercenaries fight against Japanese soldiers while guarding the newly crowned prince Gwanghae tasked with temporarily leading the royal court in place of his father King Seonjo who abandoned his people to flee the war-torn country. Gwanghae later became the 15th king of Korea's last kingdom, the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

The main cast of the Korean historical film "Warriors of the Dawn" pose for the camera during a news conference for the film in Seoul on April 25, 2017. (Yonhap)

This marks the first film directed by Chung Yoon-chul, best known for the 2005 hit film "Marathon" after "A Man Who Was Superman" in 2008.

Chung said the new historical action flick tells the story of a young crown prince growing to be a new leader through a long journey during which he endured all the trials with the people.

"I thought we need this kind of story in times like this," he said of his motive of coming to make the film during the news conference to promote it at a Seoul theater.

He said it was two years ago when the nation suffered from a lack of proper leadership to contain an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome that he was asked to helm the film.

Director Chung Yoon-chul speaks during a news conference for the Korean historical film "Warriors of the Dawn" in Seoul on April 25, 2017. (Yonhap)

"Then many people had a tough time, and I also felt gloomy. It was the very time that I received the screenplay for the film, and I was drawn to the fact that the situation during the Japanese invasion was very similar to today's."

Actor Lee Jung-jae, most recently seen in "Operation Chromite" (2016), stars as To-wu, head of the prince's guards, and Yeo Jin-gu of "Hwayi: A Monster Boy" (2013) features as young Prince Gwanghae.

Yeo said he tried to show as much of the personal side of the king as possible when asked how his character is different from other kings featured in films.

"The film initially portrays the 18-year-old prince as a man gripped with a sense of anxiety and fear," he said. "Gwanghae doesn't even believe in himself but gradually comes to gain trust from the people while sharing all the joys and sorrows with them."

Lee said he had mixed emotions while filming the story of "the nameless people in the era's lowest class who serve other people's military duty for money."

Just like the domestic election movie "The Mayor" set to premiere on Wednesday, "Warriors" is set to get a timely release on May 31, weeks after the election of new president following the ouster and arrest of the scandal-ridden former President Park Geun-hye.

"Nobody intended this of course, but we're currently in the process of picking a new leader after taking down a bad one with the power of the people. I think this timing would be good for better delivering the movie's message -- It is the people that make the king," said the director.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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