Director Yeon Sang-ho appreciates live-action remake of his feature debut

Renowned director-writer Yeon Sang-ho said Tuesday he thinks it is so fortunate that his lesser-known first animated feature has been remade into a live-action series more than a decade after its release.

“After 11 years, ‘The King of Pigs’ is remade and shown to a new audience. It’s very fortunate, I think,” Yeon said during a media interview held online. “To reflect the decadelong change in our society and industry, the production crew and cast have created a new story.”

“The King of Pig” is a 2011 animated film that revolves around Kyung-min, a businessman recalling his traumatic memory as a middle school student who keeps being bullied by his classmates. It was critically acclaimed for a realistic portrayal of school violence and classification by wealth and grade.

It was invited to the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first Korean animated feature to be screened in the world’s most prestigious film fest.
Directed by Kim Dae-jin and written by Tak Jae-young, its 2022 TV adaptation with the same title was launched on Tving, a local streaming service, on March 18, as a sequel to the 2011 original. Four out of 12 episodes have been released as of Tuesday.

Yeon, who rose to international fame for the smash hit zombie thriller “Train to Busan” (2016), said he had asked screenwriter Tak to expand his debut film to a longer TV series a few years ago to tell stories of victims and bullies about 20 years later.

And he suggested weaving a new plot centered on the protagonist’s quest for revenge as a way to adapt the 97-minute animated film into a 12-episode series.

“When my animated film was released, many people asked me how the perpetrators would live after graduation. And I would answer, they must be living well as normal people around us,” he said. “I was curious about their current life and the victim targeting them.”

In the first four episodes of the TV series, Kyung-min (Kim Dong-wook), who was the biggest victim of the school bullying 20 years ago, starts his horrible revenge on the offenders who currently lead a quiet life and have forgotten about their past wrongdoings.

But Yeon, who also wrote and directed his first Netflix series “Hellbound” (2021), did not get involved in the latest remake project, although he has participated in some TV series, including tvN’s “The Cursed” (2020), as a screenwriter.

Still, the versatile director said he is very satisfied with the remade version of his film for its quality portrayal of the childhood trauma that Kyung-min is struggling with and the thrilling sequences of his vengeance.

“It seems that the show draws a clear line between the victim and offenders and advocates Kyung-min’s outlawed behavior,” he said. “But it’s more complicated than that. The show does not simply point the finger at one side. It’s worth watching more to check how Kyung-min will take action further.”

Screenwriter Tak said he tried not to lose the satirical tone of Yeon’s original, which criticizes social stratification and meritocracy through students.

“Viewers will be excited to see Kyung-min’s revenge in the first few parts, but he will be in a dilemma over the legitimacy of his activities,” he said. “In the latter parts, viewers might feel betrayed but soon ask themselves questions over the right way Kyung-min took.”

“The King of Pigs” is now available on Tving, with two episodes released every Friday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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