‘Phantom,’ spy thriller set in Japanese colonial-era Korea, says director

SEOUL– The upcoming Korean film “Phantom” is a spy thriller set in Seoul in 1933, when Korea was under the brutal Japanese colonial rule, its director said Monday.

It revolves around three men and two women who are confined to a remote hotel, who are suspected of being a spy code-named “phantom,” planted in the Japanese Government-General in Korea by an anti-Japanese movement organization. They all struggle to be cleared of the suspicion and leave the hotel, while the real spy continues his or her mission uninterrupted.

“Reading historic records of Korean independence fighters, I realized how intense their struggle was,” Lee said during a press conference at a theater in Seoul to promote the film. “As a movie director, I can play numerous videos (about their activities) in my mind. I had a desire to portray my feelings toward them as splendid and passionate activists in the film.”

The historical drama is also filled with entertaining elements as a spy thriller, according to its director and cast.
The ensemble of suspects are led by veteran actor Seol Kyung-gu, who plays Junji Murayama, a communications supervisor of the colonial government’s police bureau.

“Since there are many Korean films set in the Japanese colonial era, I hoped this one would be different from them. I was drawn to the project after the director said he intended to make it into a genre flick,” Seol said.

He was then quick to join the new commercial film by Lee, who achieved success with his previous work “Believer” (2017).

He was joined by actors Lee Ha-nee, Park So-dam, Park Hae-soo and Seo Hyun-woo in the cast.

Lee plays Park Cha-gyeong, who is in charge of recording coded messages at the police’s communications department, while Park So-dam’s character is Yuriko, a secretary of a high-ranking official within the colonial government. Seo’s is Mr. Cheon who works for the same department as a cryptographer. Park Hae-soo of Netflix’s megahit series “Squid Game” rounds out the cast as Kaito, who is the mastermind behind the Japanese operation to catch the spy as the chief security guard of the new resident-general of Korea.

Park said he was drawn to the project by the multilayered Japanese character but planned to reject the role at first because of the language barrier.

“I was very much afraid of playing the character who only speaks Japanese, so I called Seol to ask if I could do this,” he said.

Seol then recommended that he decide after meeting the director first and the director gave him confidence.

“Afterwards, I practiced Japanese lines just like an Olympic athlete or a student who prepares for a college entrance exam,” he said with a smile.

The film opens in local theaters Jan. 18.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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