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'Steel Rain' takes 'cool-headed' view on inter-Korean relations, says director

All Headlines 14:55 November 15, 2017

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- The director of the new action blockbuster "Steel Rain" said on Wednesday he wanted to raise the need to take a "cool-headed" look at inter-Korean relations through his new action movie.

"North Korea is a country of the same tribe but clearly is our enemy at the same time, which makes it difficult for us to look at inter-Korean relations in a cool-headed manner," Yang Woo-suk said during a news conference for the forthcoming film.

"We can find a solution when we look more cool-headedly at the relations imagining the worst-case scenario. I thought my film would be of help in that sense."

Director Yang Woo-suk listens to a question from a reporter during a press conference for "Steel Rain" at a Seoul theater on Nov. 15, 2017. (Yonhap)

What does the director imagine is the worst-case scenario? Nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.

"We cannot escape from a nuclear war should a second war break out on the peninsula," he said. "When that happens, at least one of the two Koreas would disappear from Earth. So, that kind of war should not happen."

In the movie, the Korean Peninsula is on the brink of a nuclear war following a military coup in North Korea and a pre-emptive strike on the North by the United States. The country's "No. 1" leader is found seriously wounded by an elite North Korean agent Um Cheol-woo (Chung Woo-sung). The agent then secretly takes the leader to South Korea with him seeking shelter and encounters Kwak Cheol-woo (Kwak Do-won), the country's chief presidential secretary on diplomatic and security affairs. The two combine forces as they struggle to prevent nuclear war.

This image shows a still from "Steel Rain," released by Next Entertainment World. (Yonhap)

The movie is based on the popular 2011 webtoon of the same English name by the director, who is also a prominent webtoon author. The webtoon depicted a Korean Peninsula at crisis following the death of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Yang said he changed the political setting and characters in the original story to make a film adaptation years later because Kim actually died after the webtoon went into circulation.

"So, the film doesn't start with the death of Kim Jong-il but with the occurrence of a military coup."

After making the film, Yang also amended the original webtoon to reflect the current political situation on the peninsula. The comic series is currently available online both in Korean and English, according to him.

It marks the director's second film after he had a big success with "The Attorney" (2013). Loosely based on the life of the late President Roh Moo-hyun's early years as a lawyer in Busan in the 1980s, the film starring Song Kang-ho sold about 11.4 million tickets across the country.

"Steel Rain" is set to open in local theaters Dec. 20.

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