The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Director Choi Dong-hoon felt like rookie after completing 'Alienoid Part 2'

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Jan. 9, 2024 - 14:59

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Director Choi Dong-hoon (CJENM) Director Choi Dong-hoon (CJENM)

Choi Dong-hoon is one of the most renowned filmmakers in Korea today, with two films that attracted more than 10 million moviegoers – “The Thieves” (2012) and “Assassination” (2015) – as well as a huge fanbase for his unique works like “Tazza” (2006) and “Jeon Woo-chi: The Taoist Wizard” (2009).

For this veteran director, the upcoming film, “Alienoid Part 2,” made him feel as if he was a rookie all over again. He debuted in 2004 with crime action flick “The Big Swindle.”

“I felt like a rookie director when I complete ‘Alienoid Part 2.’ I feel like I should suffer a sophomore slump after this,” Choi said in an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on Monday.

All five of his previous films were consecutive hits, except for “Alienoid Part 1,” a 2022 sci-fi flick incorporating traditional Korean folklore, his first-ever failure. The movie recorded a dismal 1.5 million moviegoers, far short of the breakeven point at 7 million.

“It’s all because of me. I’m responsible for such a result because I wrote and directed that film. It was the worldview that I created. I felt apologetic to many people,” he said.

“Alienoid Part 2” (CJENM) “Alienoid Part 2” (CJENM)

The shooting for the two-part film “Alienoid,” which is a rare attempt in the Korean film industry, ended in 2021. Although the first part was released the following year, it took another year and six months after the first part to release the second.

Choi said he edited the second part more than 50 times and watched the film more than 150 times.

“I tried tricking my brain into thinking I was watching the film for the first time. I watch the edited version over and over, taking notes every time. The final version comes out when I have nothing to take note of. That’s how I work,” he said.

Then there was the pressure of the audiences' high level expectation.

After the longest production period in the Korean film scene, 387 days, on top of writing, which took two-and-a-half years, and one-and-a-half years of editing, Choi said he learned that he is just a huge film buff.

“I would call this the fate of a movie director. Arduous editing reminded me that yes, I really love films. It hit home that the process, instead of the result, is what matters. My love and curiosity for films have been reset like a rookie director,” Choi said.

Just like any other movie director, Choi plans to soon move on to a different kind of story.

But, it will take some time to let go of “Alienoid,” Choi noted.

“I want to do a cool crime action flick once again. What I like about that genre is that even among villains, there are hierarchies of morality and of affection. …But it will take some time to let go of ‘Alienoid’ for now," he said.

"This film is my favorite ‘child’ among my children-like films, the one that I loved the most and the one that I went through ups and downs together with,” said Choi.

“Alienoid Part 2” hits local theaters Wednesday.