‘Assassination’ an ode to Korea’s 1930s independence fighters

By Won Ho-jung
  • Published : Jun 22, 2015 - 19:32
  • Updated : Jun 22, 2015 - 19:32

The year is 1933. A female sniper, a gun expert and a bomb expert are pulled into an unlikely ragtag team by a political mastermind to assassinate two key figures in the Japanese regime governing Korea. Their plan is slipped to a ruthless paid assassin, who begins to hunt them down.

The plot of the upcoming film “Assassination” is thrilling enough in and of itself to be a box office success, but according to director Choi Dong-hoon, the aim of the movie is to tell the story of those who fought for justice in Korea’s darkest era.

“I read a lot of books while preparing this movie,” Choi said at a press conference at CGV Apgujeong on Monday. “When I was looking through photos of the independence fighters, I came across a lot of people that have gone down in history, but also photos of people whose names we would never know. It gave me a strange feeling. I began to wonder how they lived, where their courage came from. I wanted to make a film remembering those who should never be forgotten.”

In order to bring those people to life, Choi, who helmed past hits like “Tazza: The High Rollers” (2006) and “The Thieves” (2012) brought together an all-star cast. Jun Ji-hyun (also known abroad as Gianna Jun) played the female shooter leading the assassination plot, while other key characters were played by A-listers such as Lee Jung-jae in the part of the mysterious mastermind, Ha Jung-woo in the part of the mercenary assassin, as well as Cho Jin-woong, Choi Duk-moon and Oh Dal-soo. 

The lead actors of upcoming film “Assassination” at a press conference at CGV Apgujeong, Monday. From left: Lee Jung-jae, Cho Jin-woong, Jun Ji-hyun, Choi Duk-moon and Ha Jung-woo. (Yonhap)

The film was long in the making. Choi first had the idea for the scenario while shooting “Tazza,” and scrapped an earlier version of the script in order to create a movie with more depth.

“We actually spoke about the movie quite a bit when we were promoting ‘The Thieves,’” said Jun. “When he told me about the film, I knew that it would be a truly unique story. I suggested a lot of different ideas to him, but when the final script came out I was so surprised. The characters were so diverse, and the plot was riveting. I was amazed that the story we had talked about could end up like this.”

“Assassination” was filmed over five months in Shanghai and Seoul, with elaborate action scenes taking place on sprawling, lavish sets recreating the ambience of 1930s Gyeongseong (Seoul‘s name at the time) and the Provisional Government of Korea in Shanghai.

“I felt that the best environment for the actors to bring out their characters required accurate recreations of the clothing and spaces of the 1930s,” Choi said.

All together, the film cost an impressive 18 billion won ($16 million) to make, bringing together Korea’s top names in costuming, set design, lighting and production.

“The Korean independence movement was a long fight, with heroes that are unimaginable for ordinary people like me,” Choi said. “I wanted to make this an entertaining film and a meaningful film. I tried my very best to express the rough, agonizing and lonely emotion of those years.”

“Assassination” opens in local theaters on July 22.

By Won Ho-jung (hjwon@heraldcorp.com)