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(Yonhap Interview) Yeon Sang-ho shows off his versatility in 'Peninsula'

All News 17:23 July 15, 2020

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- This summer, versatile director Yeon Sang-ho has returned to the big screen with "Peninsula," a sequel to the smash-hit zombie thriller "Train to Busan" (2016).

"There have been requests for a follow-up to 'Train to Busan,' and I liked the idea but didn't expect to direct it at first," Yeon said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday. "After rounds of brainstorming, I decided to make it a post-apocalyptic action film like 'Mad Max 2' (1981) and 'Waterworld' (1995)."

Taking place in the same universe as its predecessor, "Peninsula," starring Gang Dong-won, features the abandoned land of South Korea, where the government collapsed after a zombie outbreak four years before.

A scene from "Peninsula" by NEW (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Jung-seok (played by Gang), a former soldier who escaped the country four years before, returns to the peninsula and fights against the walking dead, which get stronger and faster, and a group of human hunters in the zombie-hit land.

The director said his latest movie portrays people who struggle to survive in the hopeless country where humans lose their humanity and hope.

Soldiers of a military unit, who were first assigned to protect the lives of people from zombie attacks but become human hunters, represent the reality of the post-apocalyptic dystopia, he added.

"In a zombie movie, the first outbreak causes great tension and it's interesting," he said. "But after that, survivors or zombies are under the spotlight."

Director Yeon Sang-ho in this photo provided by NEW (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

To materialize the post-apocalyptic world in "Peninsula," he displayed his ability as a jack-of-all-trades who has had many titles other than film director -- producer, animation director, web cartoon writer and TV series screenwriter.

As a surefire animation director whose first feature-length animation, "The King of Pigs" (2011), was picked up by Cannes, Yeon created the eye-catching car chase scenes of "Peninsula" in 3D animation first as a playbook before going into filming.

He just filmed some scenes of actors and actresses driving or shooting in the car and wove the cuts with the computer-based version later.

"It must be very expensive to build all the settings of my movie in the real world to present the imaginary post-apocalypse," he said. "Nearly all settings and backgrounds are computer graphic works."

A scene from "Peninsula" by NEW (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Even though his third full-length film project, which was invited to this year's Cannes Film Festival, has been completed, the multifaceted director is still busy with his crossover works on other platforms.

He is now working on dramatizing his webtoon "Hell" as a Netflix original series. Earlier this year, he also wrote the 12-episode mystery horror "The Cursed" (2020) on tvN.

"I've been thinking of the characteristics of each platform as a commercial content creator," the all-around director said. "Some TV dramas have cinematic styles, and streaming services make their own movies as well."

Thanks to those off-screen projects, however, Yeon knew what he needed when creating a film to attract more people to theaters.

"When I was a child, I was so excited to go to theaters to see American sci-fi series like 'RoboCop,' 'Terminator' or 'Jurassic Park,'" the 41-year-old director said. "I made the film while constantly trying to recall those memories. I hope people feel excited and entertained after watching 'Peninsula.'"

"Peninsula" is showing in theaters from Wednesday.


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