Filmmaker Lee Joon-ik on Thursday highly praised veteran actor Song Kang-ho's portrayal of a Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) king, who starved his own son to death in a new film depicting the tragic story in Korean history.
"Although the film is titled 'Sado,' it is also a film of King Yeongjo whom Song played," Lee said during a news conference after the film's press preview.
He was referring to the original Korean-language title of the "The Throne." Sado is the posthumous epithet given to the crown prince who was deposed of by his own father King Yeongjo and later starved to death at age 28 confined in a rice chest.
In the period drama, Song portrayed the complex inner world of King Yeongjo, who was one of the greatest kings leading the peak years of the Joseon era but drove his son to death because of his perfectionist inclination.
The 48-year-old actor previously appeared in "The Host" (2006), "Snowpiercer" (2013) and "The Attorney" (2013).
Rising star Yoo Ah-in of "Veteran," the current box-office sensation, played the freewheeling crown prince, beloved by his father for his unusual brilliance in childhood, who increasingly gets to confront the father, wanting to run away from his fate.
"I'm not entitled to evaluate Song's acting," said the director, best known for the 2005 period drama film "The King And The Clown."
"I deeply thank him for honestly describing Yeongjo as a man with many stories but who tries to overcome them."
But the filicide, one of the eeriest chapters of Korean history, is well known to Koreans, often dealt with by many local TV series.
"I also had the same thought," Lee answered when asked why he decided to make a film about the historical story. "But I questioned myself if I knew all the stories of the people involved in the incident, and the answer was no."
That was when he became curious about what led the king to lock his own son in a wooden rice chest and to slowly kill him over eight days.
After playing the king, Song said that he now thinks that the king's "obsession to the throne" and "excessive love" toward his only son caused the tragedy.
"I felt that portraying such a side of King Yeongjo in two hours of short running time was the biggest responsibility given to me as an actor," he said.
"The Throne" is one of the most highly anticipated Korean films in the second half of the year. It is scheduled to open in local theaters on Sept. 16. (Yonhap)