Yeon Sang-ho (Seoul, 1978) premiered ‘Peninsula’ in South Korea on July 15, in the middle of the pandemic, and still broke box office records. The director admits that the protagonists try to reinvent themselves in hope after suffering a desolate world, a message that he considers important in the coronavirus crisis.
-Did you guess that the world was going to undergo a transformation due to the pandemic?
-I didn’t have a premonition at all, I wrote the script before the pandemic. Each film exists for a reason and, in this case, the circumstances that have surrounded the premiere are very similar to its content, it is part of its destiny.
-Your films are analyzed and become an object of worship. Do you think we are obsessed with new Korean directors?
-I suppose that due to the success of ‘Parasites’ there is more information about us. I lived with great joy what happened with ‘Train to Busan’ and I will not deny that international audiences respond well to our films. I would like Korean cinema to have a wider audience and help diversify the industry in these circumstances.
-Can you see ‘Peninsula’ without having seen ‘Train to Busan’?
-Of course, they are two completely independent films. Both stories focus on courage, solidarity, how humans react to disaster. A message very faithful to the moment in which we live. During the pandemic, we have realized that people depend on each other to survive, especially if we want to achieve a better world.
-‘Peninsula ‘was going to premiere at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, which was canceled. Do you think that the film has been damaged by the circumstances in which the industry is at the moment?
-‘Train to Busan ‘was very well received around the world because the zombie genre provides the opportunity to expose reality without feeling the cultural differences. When I first started developing the idea, I didn’t think it was attractive and yet it became an international cult film, so I hope the same will happen with ‘Peninsula’. When a film is received with satisfaction, it is the public’s word of mouth that really gives it wings and makes it a success.
-What led you to shoot a sequel?
-I had many ideas that had been left out of history and the producer knew them. They were the ones who encouraged me to shoot it.
-‘Peninsula ‘seems to be inspired by other post-apocalyptic films:’ The Day of the Dead ‘,’ 1997: Rescue in New York ‘and the’ Mad Max ‘saga. Was it inspired by any one in particular?
-I grew up seeing those titles you mention. I am a fan of Hollywood cinema from the 80s and 90s, so it is easy for parallels to emerge in some scenes. But I’m a much bigger fan of animation and the second part of the movie is inspired by ‘Akira’, when Special Forces infiltrate post-apocalyptic NeoTokyo. Those sequences were a source of motivation for this film.
-Did you feel obliged to shoot ‘Peninsula’ under the effects of ‘Train to Busan’? Let’s say so as not to disappoint the public.
-Not. As a director, he didn’t want to create the movie in the same way. While planning ‘Peninsula’, the general wish was to make a completely different film than ‘Train to Busan’. It is true that both narratives share the same vision of the world, but they are within different genres with an independent destiny. Jung-seok’s character as a former military man and the emergence of Unit 631 were instrumental in portraying the collapse of public authority. Showing the loss of authority of public officials provided a significant impact in describing the despair felt by survivors.
-He didn’t even feel pressure.
-Yes indeed. ‘Train to Busan’ was a huge success, but public attention has not influenced what I wanted to do with my film. I debated whether the sequel should be made with the same original concept or created with a completely new one. As a creator, I wanted a new genre for the film. The texture is different, it has more action scenes and it focuses more on the fear of the survivors.
Review of ‘Peninsula’:
-Posts your actresses in non-traditional roles for women.
-The main concept of the film was a mother trying to raise her children in a city in ruins. The idea of kids driving in an apocalyptic world full of zombies struck me as fresh and interesting.
-Have you thought about your next project?
-I always have something in mind, but we are going to wait for the premiere of ‘Peninsula’ before talking about the future.
#realized #depend #survive