Director Yeon Sang-ho, best known for his popular Korean films like Train To Busan and its sequel Peninsula, said on Tuesday that he hoped his debut series Hellbound would force viewers to reflect on their belief system and its wider impact on society. Hellbound, a Korean-language Netflix original series, follows a series of supernatural events that take place in Seoul causing a clash of beliefs.
Starring Yoo Ah-in, Kim Hyun-joo, Park Jeong-min, Won Jin-a, Yang Ik-june, the series is based on a webtoon created by Yeon.
“These characters are the people we see in society. They have different beliefs and emotions. Viewers can resonate with them, depending on which belief they choose to believe in. It’s fun to watch a clash of these beliefs, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our society… I hope that Hellbound is not only consumed but also gives food for thought ”, said the director during of a global press conference from Seoul, which was virtually attended by PTI.
Hellbound, written by Choi Kyu-sok, may be Yeon’s first series, but the experience of working on the long storytelling format was not as different from making films.
“It’s a live action series, but the staff was the same as when I shot the movies. I don’t think it was that different, it was like shooting a few movies back to back. I enjoyed it even more, ”he added.
The universe of Hellbound is interesting, Yeon said, adding that he wanted the project to be “a playground” for his films.
“The first game in this playground is this live action series. I could add a lot of cinematic aspects to it… The setting is realistic and drastic, and within this world we can see different types of people.
According to the official synopsis, Hellbound is a story about otherworldly beings who appear out of nowhere to issue a decree and condemn individuals to hell.
“These supernatural events cause great chaos and allow the ‘The New Truth’ religious group to gain influence. A few people, however, are suspicious of his activities and begin to investigate his involvement in mysterious events. As the world turns into chaos, it turns into a living hell.
When asked how he conjures images of these terrifying angels and tormentors, the director said the characters came to him “out of the blue.”
“They could have existed in history a long time ago. The ones (angels) that we know are based on the imagination of our predecessors and it is on this basis that I came up with the idea of angels and executioners. For the executioners, I wanted people to feel terror and think of hell when they look at them.
Yoo, who plays Jeong Jin-soo, a “mysterious” cult leader and leader of the emerging religion “New Truth Society”, said he was simply relying on the “perfect” script to perform his role. The actor is known for films like Burning, Voice of Silence and the Chicago Typewriter and Sungkyunkwan Scandal television series.
“He has a distorted psyche and is twisted in a certain way. He is determined to preach his belief to the world. He has rage, maybe despair. I think he is alone, so I tried to find out what led to his loneliness, ”he added.
Kim plays lawyer Min Hye-jin in Hellbound, who opposes religious extremists.
The actor, known for his shows Glass Slippers and I Have a Lover, said working on the show gave him a chance to reflect on what faith means.
“… There are beliefs that mask his flaws and insecurities. That’s the power of faith. For my character Hye-jin, that (faith) was the law, ”she said.
For Yang, playing the role of a father was “difficult” because he is single and childless. The actor plays Jin Kyeong-hoon, a cynical and troubled detective who attempts to investigate these supernatural events. Lee Re plays his onscreen daughter, Hee-jeong.
“I have nephews, so I thought about when I went to Jeju Island with them when they were young. But nephews are different from your own child. I was nervous about playing this character, but Lee Re cheered me up when I was struggling, ”he said.
The screen adaptation of Hellbound stays true to the webtoon, the director said, except that the character played by Lee was originally written as a boy.
“When I was looking for an actor who could capture that essence, I wanted Lee Re to play the character regardless of gender,” he said.
Yang, who starred in the Yeon animated films The King of Pings and The Wrong, said the director started filming without rehearsals.
“He kept us on our toes all the time,” he added.
Famous Park of Deliver Us from Evil said that his role as Bae Young-jae, a broadcast station producer, is a common family man. He said he hopes the show will be well received not only in Korea but also in other countries.
“People in Korea and the rest of the world can resonate with fear in Hellbound,” he said.
On his thoughts on the six-episode series, Won said that when the majority in a society is “twisted,” that place itself could be hell. She plays the producer’s wife, Song So-hyun.
“In this society, how can I decide what is good and what is not? So I thought about that a lot while filming the show, ”added the actor, known for shows like Rain Or Shine and She Would Never Know.
Yeon said he was so impressed with Won’s performance that she could “almost be in contention for an Emmy.”
The series pilot premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival on the Primetime television series. It has also been screened at the BFI London Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival.
Hellbound premieres on Netflix on Friday.