By: John M Jerva

Train to Busan Presents Peninsula is the highly anticipated follow up to the runaway Korean zombie thriller Train to Busan and the sequel is even larger in scale and scope with even more amped up action set pieces and a whole new cast of characters.

Korean actor Gang Dong-Won plays the lead role of Jung Seok who is a former soldier who has managed to escape the zombie outbreak and is tasked with going back to the hell he left for a film or die mission. Along the way, he meets a host of survivors and together they must battle a massive horde of undead to stay alive.

In a first for Action-Flix.com, Gang Dong-Won has graciously taken time out of his busy schedule to chat about the film as well as himself and his career. The answers below are in both English and Korean so enjoy!

Hello Gang, first of all thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Excited about the movie. 

1) 어떻게 연기를 처음 시작했는지 말씀해주세요. 배우님이 진정으로 원했던 것이었나요?

Tell us how you first got started in acting. Was it something you always wanted to do? 

처음부터 연기를 생각한 건 아니다. 길거리 캐스팅 되어서 모델 일을 시작했는데 이 일을 시작하자마자 바로 연기 수업을 들었다. 첫 연기 수업이 독백이었는데 집중이 엄청 잘 됐고, 바로 ‘난 연기자가 되어야겠다’는 생각이 들었다.

I did not originally plan on getting into acting. I started working as a model after being selected ona street casting, and shortly after, I started taking acting classes. My first acting class was a monologue and I was able to have great concentration, so I immediately thought to myself, “I have to become an actor.”

2) 좀비 영화의 팬이십니까? 맞다면 가장 좋아하는 좀비 영화는 무엇인가요?

Are you a fan of zombie films and if so what’s your favorite? 

사실 좀비 영화팬은 아니다. 호러무비는 많이 보긴 하는데 굳이 꼽자면 오컬트 장르를 좋아한다. 좀비는 서양 유령 같다는 느낌이라 덜 무섭다. 

Honestly, I’m actually not a fan of zombies. I do watch a lot of horror movies, but to be more specific, I watch occult genre movies. Zombies are less scary for me because they feel more like Western ghosts.

3) 속편은 더욱 군사적인 액션 테마를 가지고 있습니다. 이와 관련하여 어떤 트레이닝을 받으셨나요?

The sequel has a more militaristic action theme to it. What training did they have you go through to look the part if any? 

한국 남자들은 총기를 다룬 경험이 다들 조금이라도 있다. 특별히 총기 훈련 같은 걸 하지는 않았다. 이번 액션 시퀀스 같은 경우는 이틀 정도 연습하고 촬영에 들어갔다. LA에 있을 때 연락을 받았는데, 이 영화의 액션팀과 이전에도 작업을 많이 해봤고 그들도 나에 대해 잘 알고 있기에 몸만 잘 유지해서 들어오라고 하더라. 액션팀이 액션 장면에 대해 비디오로 의견을 공유했고, 이를 숙지하는 작업을 거치긴 했다. 

All men in Korea have some experience with guns during our military service. I did not do any special gun training for Peninsula, but I did for my past projects. I have done a lot of action acting in my previous films like “Kundo: Age of the Rampant,” “Master” and “Illang: The Wolf Brigade”. In Korea, I am known as an actor who is good with action acting. Truthfully, the action acting in this film was not more difficult than my previous works. This is because it was not a setting where I was a killer who skillfully handled guns, nor was it a sword master’s character.

4) 배우님이 연기한 정석 역에 대해 설명해주세요. 본인 자신을 본떠서 정석 역을 만들어냈나요?

You play the role of Jung Seok. Tell us about him in your own words. Did you mold him after yourself?

아니다. 철저하게 정석이라는 캐릭터에 맞추도록 했다. 관객이 정석이의 시선을 따라가며 영화를 보기 때문에, 관객이 잘 따라갈 수 있는 곡선을 만들려고 노력했다. 정석이 변해가는 과정을 잘 살려야 관객이 잘 따라올 수 있을 것 같아서 회의를 많이 했다. 원래 정석은 합리적인 사람인데 재난 상황을 거치면서 굉장히 비관적이고 염세적인 사람으로 바뀌었다가 다시 한국으로 와서 자기보다 어려운 상황속에서도 희망적으로 사는 민정 가족을 만나서 변화하게 된다.

No, I did not mold myself after Jung Seok. I worked very hard to match Jung-seok character,because the audience watches the movie through the eyes of Jung-seok, We tried to create anemotion arc so that the audience could easily follow. I wanted to correctly portray the changes that Jung-seok underwent throughout the movie,so as the audience could follow along.

To achieve that, we had many meetings to discuss how the best way to accomplish this emotion arc. In the beginning, Jung-seok was a very reasonable person, but after going through the disastrous zombies infections and, seeing his sister and nephew died in front of him, Jung Seok became very pessimistic and hopeless to live on. After he returned to Korea, he met Min-jung and her family, who have been living in a far worst circumstances but still living with a blink of hope. Jung Seok was later realized the importance of life and the hope to live on.

5) 부산행과 다른 점에 대해 말씀해주세요. 부산행이 기차라는 제한된 공간에서 이루어진 반면 반도는 공간적으로 더욱 커졌습니다.

Talk about how the sequel is different from the original. This one is bigger in locations as the first one was confined to the train for example. 

‘부산행’은 제한된 공간에서 좀비가 습격하는 지점에 스릴이 있었다. 반도는 포스트 아포칼립스라는 상황 속에서 인간이 어떻게 적응하고 사는지에 초점이 맞춰져 있는데 그것이 가장 차별화된 지점이다. 시나리오를 보고 그 지점이 가장 좋았다.

“Train to Busan” offered the thrill of zombies attacking in a confined space. “Peninsula” focuses on how survivors live on in a quarantined and zombies infested Korea. Peninsula also adaptedin a post-apocalyptic setting, which is the biggest differentiator.

6) 미국 영화 많이 보시나요? 가장 좋아하는 영화는요? 한국영화는 미국영화와 어떻게 다른가요?

Do you watch any American films and if so what’s your favorites. How do Korean films differ from American? 

세계 많은 사람이 그렇듯 미국 영화를 많이 본다. 제일 좋아하는 영화는 ‘이터널 선샤인 오브 스팟리스 마인드’. 100% 미국 자본 영화인지는 모르겠지만, 나도 이러한 사랑 이야기를 꼭 해보고 싶다. 한국영화와 미국영화 시스템은 지금은 비슷해진 것 같다. 다른 지점은 미국영화가 프리프러덕션이 한국보다 조금 긴 것 같은 정도라고 할까.

Like many other people, I watched a lot of American movies. My favorite is “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I am not quite sure if it is a 100% American movie, but I want to be able to tell a love story like in this movie one day. Korean and American filming systems seem to have become more similar these days. But in America, they tend to have a longer pre-production period compared with our Korean pre-production period.

7) 왜 좀비 영화가 이 정도로 인기있다고 생각하세요?

Why do you think zombie films are so popular? It seems like fans can’t get enough. 

좀비영화를 그리 즐기지 않는 사람으로서 이번에 영화를 촬영하면서 느낀 건데 조금은 그 인기의 이유를 알겠더라. 좀비 영화는 일단 액션 영화에 가까운 느낌이 있다. 괴물에 맞서싸우기도 하고, 눈에 보이지 않는 상대가 아닌 보이는 것과 싸우니 다른 호러 영화와 달리 심리적으로 쫄리는 고통도 덜하다. 또다른 스릴을 만끽할 수 있는 지점이다. 

I am actually not a big fan of zombie movies. But as I was shooting Peninsula, I started to see more of the appeal of these movies. Firstly, zombie movies seem similar to action movies. Unlike other horror movies, you see fights with actual monsters instead of fighting invisible enemies. With this difference, there is a less psychological fear because you are fighting with beings that you can see. It is where you can enjoy a different type of thrill.

8) 반도에는 뛰어난 액션 시퀀스가 많습니다. 스턴트만큼이나 그 장면들을 잘 해내기가 얼마나 힘들었습니까? 가장 좋아하는 장면은요?

The film has many Great action sequences. How hard was it to do them as well as the stunts? Do you have a favorite scene? 

전작들(‘군도’ ‘마스터’ ‘인랑’ 등)에서도 액션 연기를 많이 했는데 한국에서 나는 액션 연기를 잘하는 배우로 알려져있다. 사실 이번 액션 연기는 다른 작품들보다 힘들지는 않았다. 킬러들처럼 총기를 능수능란하게 다룬다는 설정도 아니었고 스워드마스터 캐릭터도 아니었기 때문이다. 물론 좀비와 합을 맞춰 싸우는 건 쉽지 않았지만 그리 어렵거나 힘들다고 생각하지는 않았다. 

카체이싱 신도 훌륭하지만 가장 좋아하는 시퀀스는 쇼핑몰 안에서 좀비들이 인간들을 사냥하는 장면이다. 인상깊었다. 상황에 적응하고 훈련된 인간들이 좀비들을 따돌리는 아이디어도 좋았다. 

I have done a lot of action acting in my previous films like “Kundo: Age of the Rampant,” “Master,” “Illang: The Wolf Brigade”. In Korea, I am known as an actor who is good with action acting. Thankfully, the action sequence in this film was not more difficult compared to my previous works. This is because it was not a setting where I was a killer who skillfully handled guns, nor was it a sword master’s character. Of course, fighting in harmony with zombies wasn’t easy either, but it wasn’t toodifficult or tiring. The car chase scene was great, but my favorite sequence is where the zombies are hunting the humans in the shopping mall. It was very impressive. I like the idea of trained individuals who have adapted to their environmentand started to bully zombies.

9) 연상호 감독님과 관련해서, 영화를 제작하면서 감독님이 보여준건 무엇이고 함께 일하는 건 어땠나요?

Talk about the Director Yeon Sang-ho. What did he bring to the making of the film and how was he to work for? 

연 감독님은 애니메이션으로 출발해서 그런지 비주얼라이징하는데 굉장히 능숙하더라. 무엇을 찍을지 뭐가 필요없는지 생각이 명확하기 때문에 함께 일하기 편했다. 가끔은 더 찍어야 하는 게 아닌가 할 정도로 진짜 필요한 것만 찍더라. 특히 다른 사람들을 편하게 해주려고 노력을 많이 하셨다.

I am not too sure if it was because Director Yeon started his career with animation, but he was very skillful with visualizing things. It was extremely easy to work with him because he had a truly clearidea of what to shoot and what was unnecessary. He only shot what was absolutely needed, so at times it was to the point where I even wondered whether we needed to be shooting more. He put forth a lot of effort to ensure others were comfortable.

10) 연기와 관련해서, 가장 좋아하는 장르는 무엇인가요? 특별히 좋아하는 장르가 있나요? 아님 장르를 가리지 않나요?

In terms of acting, what’s your favorite genre? Do you have a specific one or are you a fan of all? 

장르를 가리지 않는다. 호러부터 SF까지 다 좋아한다.

I do not favor one genre over another. From horror to Sci-Fi, I like them all.

11) 추후 예정되어 있는 작품들은 무엇이 있나요? 말씀해주실 수 있는 게 있을까요?

Finally, what projects do you have lined up for the future. Any you can chat about? 

아직은 말씀드릴 수 있는 게 없다. 인터내셔널한 작품을 중심으로 준비하고 있다는 정도만 말씀드릴 수 있을 것 같다.

I will be working with Hirokazu Koreeda in spring next year. The film “Broker” is about relationships formed between characters through a “baby box” which allows people to anonymously drop off babies that they cannot raise. Besides, “Broker”,there are a few international projects in discussion but due to the current pandemic situation, schedule must be re-scheduled, and plans must be re-planned. But I can say, I am always gearing myself for the challenges ahead.

Thank you so much Gang for a great interview! Best of luck with the film and all your future projects!

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula is now playing in theaters nationwide courtesy of Well Go USA!

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