The director of “Peninsula,” the sequel to “Train to Busan,” recently sat down for an interview with the press to discuss details of the film ahead of its release.
“Peninsula” takes place four years after the events of “Train to Busan” and centers around a group of people who were left behind to fight for their lives in a ruinous land. Directed by Yeon Sang Ho, it stars Kang Dong Won, Lee Jung Hyun, Kwon Hae Hyo, Kim Min Jae, Goo Kyo Hwan, Kim Do Yoon, Lee Re, and Lee Ye Won. Kang Dong Won plays a former marine named Jung Suk, who returns to Korea on a mission and discovers survivors including Lee Jung Hyun’s character. They end up teaming up in a battle for survival against rabid zombies and sinister humans.
The film is expected to awaken the box office, which fell into a slump after the rapid spread of COVID-19. Yeon Sang Ho revealed that he never pushed back the release date of the film, explaining that it was always slated to be released in July. He remarked, “I think this film will mark the beginning of the revival of the film industry.”
As the sequel to “Train to Busan,” it is expected that the film will use zombies to enthrall its viewers. Yeon Sang Ho described the role of zombies in the film, saying, “The zombies in ‘Peninsula’ aren’t quite as threatening. If I think about Jung Suk and the audience as having the same point of view, then they will feel a kind of ghostly tension when he returns to South Korea, since the zombies in ‘Train to Busan’ have their own story.”
The director then explained more about the perspective of the characters in the film. “The tension in the air evaporates after the first action scenes,” he revealed. “This is because the perspective has to move from Jung Suk to the children who have lived there for four years. This is their daily life. In the case of [Lee Ye Won’s character] Yoo Jin, she has lived in this world since she grew up. So rather than seeing the zombies as threatening, she feels more threatened by the people living there.”
When asked how the film’s title was decided, Yeon Sang Ho said that it came about naturally since South Korea is situated on a peninsula. “The concept of a peninsula is also ambiguous,” he added. “It’s not completely locked in, and there’s hope of an escape, so I think those ideas rubbed off on the main characters in the film.” He said that “Train to Busan 2” was also considered, but it felt awkward to use as a title since the film doesn’t take place in Busan.
Yeon Sang Ho then shared more about the differences in the characters between “Train to Busan” and its sequel, emphasizing the strength of the children in the film. He talked about raising a child of his own and realizing how strong and adaptable they are. “When I look at my child, I worry about them, but I don’t think they worry as much about being in danger,” he reflected. “I think they adapt much more quickly than adults.”
One point of interest in the film is the car chase scene. Since “Train to Busan” was based largely around trains, Yeon Sang Ho said he put a great deal of thought into what would give him a sense of satisfaction in the sequel. “My first idea was to have a young girl driving a dump truck,” he commented. He said that the planning for the car chase was a drawn-out process that took over three months.
Yeon Sang Ho also had nothing but praise for the cast of the film, saying that all of the actors immersed themselves fully in their roles. He praised Kang Dong Won specifically, commenting, “He’s an actor who knows how to get the image he envisions. He expressed the emotions of his role very well and also knew exactly what to do while filming his action scenes. He was very easy to work with.”
The director also complimented Lee Jung Hyun as he said, “She’s similar to Kang Dong Won in that she also knows exactly what to do. She knows where the camera will go when filming, and when it’s time to film an action scene she flips a switch and changes modes instantly. I was really surprised by that.”
Yeon Sang Ho also showed his affection for Kang Dong Won, revealing that he had liked him since his previous movie. “As South Korea’s representative handsome actor, he’s done a lot of traditional roles, but he doesn’t stay trapped in that. He has many faces,” he explained. “He’s an actor who has taken on antagonistic roles as well as comedic ones. In the scene where he meets [Lee Re’s character] Joon for the first time, I told him, ‘You have to flop around in the backseat,’ and he really enjoyed that. He immerses himself in his role to the point of overdoing it. He’s really open.”
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Yeon Sang Ho shared his hope that “Peninsula” would become a good memory for moviegoers. “If you’re going to the movie theater for the first time in a while, ‘Peninsula’ will be a fun movie to enjoy with your close friends, children, or parents,” he said. “I hope this film will be a good event for the box office, like the beginning of a great celebration.”
“Peninsula” premieres in South Korea on July 15.
In the meantime, watch “Train to Busan” here:
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