Acclaimed director Yeon Sang Ho has returned to the big screen with a new nail-biting film to follow ‘Train to Busan.’ The new zombie thriller ‘Peninsula’ ('Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula') takes place in a post-apocalyptic world after South Korea’s decimation in ’Train to Busan.’
Jung Seok (played by Gang Dong Won), a soldier who was able to successfully escape the diseased wasteland, is forced to relive the horrors of the past when South Korea is swept by another zombie outbreak. On his way to a ship leaving South Korea, he encounters a family begging for refuge, but he ignores the family’s pleas and embarks on the ship alone.
Four years later in Hong Kong, Jung Seok and a few other Koreans are sent on an operation to return to Incheon and find an abandoned truck filled with cash totaling $20 million USD. After returning to the zombie-ridden wasteland, the team unexpectedly stumbles upon survivors. Now, their fates are dependent on whether the best — or the worst — of human nature will prevail in the direst of circumstances.
In celebration of the movie’s release in the U.S. on August 21, the main actor Gang Dong Won, who plays the role of Jung Seok, answered a few questions with allkpop about his experience filming the movie.
Allkpop: Did you ever feel scared while filming the scenes?
Gang Dong Won: No, I was not afraid nor scared during the filming. The zombies were not scary at all as I have been working closely with special effect makeup. I was more worried about hurting [the actors who played the zombies] while filming since ‘Peninsula’ is an action-packed movie and the zombie actors cannot protect themselves while shooting the action scenes.
Allkpop: What scene took the longest to film/was the hardest to film and why?
Gang Dong Won: There were quite a few scenes that were hard and took a longer time to complete. For example, the shooting inside Unit 631’s compound took a long time to complete. The Colosseum take was complicated, and it took slightly longer as it involved more actors and stunts, all in an extremely limited space. But it ended up very well. I also had a long action and emotional scene in the movie and Director Yeon wanted me to complete it in one take. This was harder than I expected, and it took at least 11 to 12 attempts for me to complete the scene. Another difficult scene was the ending scene because it had strong emotion and action at the same time. But besides that, like many other movie, the emotions and atmosphere during the end of the shoot made it harder to film.
Allkpop: What was your favorite scene to film and why?
Gang Dong Won: I have to say that the car chasing scenes in the movie were my favorite scenes. They are by far some of the best car chasing scenes in South Korean films, as is hard to shoot big car chasing scenes in Korea because of the budget and location constraints. Nevertheless, Director Yeon did a great job in Peninsula.
Allkpop: Please share any memorable moments/episodes from filming.
Gang Dong Won: The first and last day of shooting were the most memorable days. I remember the team had already started shooting before I joined in. My first day of shooting was a difficult action scene and I was nervous because it was my first day on set. However, it turned out to be a good take.
Allkpop: How was filming ‘Peninsula’ different from filming other movies?
Gang Dong Won: Acting with zombies was definitely different. There were a lot of drooling scenes and saliva wars between the actors because the zombies had to scream and continuously open their mouths during the action scenes. After filming the scenes, we were all kind of embarrassed.
Allkpop: There were a number of scenes that required great skill. Even aside from the heavy action scenes, you had to speak in English. How did you prepare for the action scenes and other challenging scenes?
Gang Dong Won: I was living in LA for some time before I returned to Seoul to shoot ‘Peninsula.’ I got myself geared up and the dialogue in English was dealt with easily. As for the heavy action scenes, I have worked with many action-packed movies. I communicated closely with the action director and the action team to get myself well prepared while I was in LA. It was challenging to memorize the stunt choreography in a short time, especially because I had limited time to practice before I started the shoot.
Allkpop: Considering how much praise ‘Train to Busan’ received, there must have been a lot of pressure to create an equally-as-good or even better experience for the audience. How did you deal with that?
Gang Dong Won: To be very honest, I was not under pressure because this is a good script and an exciting post-apocalypse movie, which is fresh to the audience. I was more worried about if I can deliver a better movie than ‘Train to Busan.’ I think Director Yeon might have been in a more pressured position than myself, but we are confident with ‘Peninsula,’ despite the hard times everyone is going through globally because of COVID-19. My slogan is “if you can’t avoid stress and pressure, then you might as well just enjoy the stress and pressure.” I also believe that by enjoying the stress and pressure, I will be able to deliver a better movie for the audience.
*Interview has been edited for clarity.