Jang Dong-gun to blur line between good and evil in ‘Seven Years of Night’

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : Feb 27, 2018 - 16:10
  • Updated : Feb 27, 2018 - 16:10

Director Choo Chang-min managed to do something that nearly no one had managed to do: He made Jang Dong-gun, one of the most marketable figures and the perennial sex symbol of Korean cinema, somewhat unattractive.

“The point (of casting Jang) was how it would be if an actor whose face represents the good depicted the evil,” Choo said, in a press conference for the upcoming movie “Seven Years of Night” held in Seoul on Tuesday.

The thriller, based on a novel of the same name by Jung Yoo-jung, follows the story of two men. Choi Hyun-soo --played by Ryu Seung-ryong -- is a middle-aged man haunted by an unintended murder of a young girl seven years ago, and Oh Young-je -- played by Jang -- is the father of the murdered girl who seeks the most brutal revenge on Choi.

From left: Ryu Seung-ryong, Jang Dong-gun, Go Kyung-pyo and director Choo Chang-min pose for a photo during a press conference for the upcoming movie “Seven Years of Night.” (Yonhap)

The film seeks to be more than just an action-packed revenge story of an infuriated and deeply scarred father. Choo attempts to venture into the raw emotions of people with the most harrowing experiences.

After the massive commercial and critical success of his 2012 period piece “Masquerade,” he said he wanted to explore not only the good in human nature, but other sides as well.

Oh is a remorseless psychopath who will stop at nothing for his cause. Choi, on the other hand, is just an ordinary man who made “the irreversible mistake” in the worst timing imaginable.

Jang’s transformation extends beyond a makeover that included a receding hairline to make the still-stunning actor look old. The veteran actor said his focus was to make the audience follow an “incomprehensible character.”

“I tried to look past the fact that he’s a psychopath, and attempted to approach him (Oh) as a human being, I pondered how one would think while doing such things,” said Jang. “My thought was to not just depict him as pure evil, but to express the evil in the human nature that resides within everyone.” 

Ryu Seung-ryong (left) and Jang Dong-gun pose for a photo during a press conference for the upcoming movie “Seven Years of Night.” (Yonhap)

Ryu, coming off the movie “Psychokinesis” where he plays another ordinary man caught in extraordinary events, said he had to depict the diverse emotions that his character goes through.

“I had to depict the fear while being desperate, and dive into the deepest states of human emotions,” he said. “He (Choi), in the state of panic, made a wrong choice. He hides, defends, but is plagued by guilt and fear. Sustaining that level of emotion was hardest for me.”

Another actor who went through transformation for his character was Go Kyung-pyo, who shaved his head and shed 15 kilograms to play the son of a murderer suffering from the weight of his father’s sins.

“I wished to convey an image of a young, rebellious, son but also with a hint of longing (for his father),” said Go. His makeover included a scar on the forehead, which was his idea of showing the pain and immaturity of his character Oh.

In order to convincingly play a character that misses his father, he said he put up a picture of Ryu in his home and pretended Ryu was his long-lost father while he rehearsed lines.

Song Sae-byeok, while absent at the event, is expected to show his famed acting range in playing Choi Hyun-soo’s co-worker Ahn Seung-hwan. He hides a dark secret concerning the tragedy that takes place at Seryeong village.

The isolated village of Seryeong is another important element of the film, director Choo noted.

“It is the most attractive element of the novel, so depicting that place was important. We searched the whole country for locations with elements of Seryeong, and put them together on camera,” he said.

The brief video clips shown at the press event suggests that like the village, the film will be a dark story that will plunge deep into the darkest parts of human nature.

“Seven Years of Night” opens in local theaters on March 28.

By Yoon Min-sik