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[Herald Interview] Bae Doo-na and Gong Yoo believe ‘The Silent Sea’ mark meaningful step for Korean sci-fi genre

Bae Doo-na and Gong Yoo take the roles of space explorers on a classified mission to the moon in “The Silent Sea” (Netflix)
Bae Doo-na and Gong Yoo take the roles of space explorers on a classified mission to the moon in “The Silent Sea” (Netflix)
With the success of Korean original content on Netflix in 2021, the makers and stars of “The Silent Sea,” the streaming provider’s last Korean release of 2021, might have felt under pressure.

But actors Bae Doo-na and Gong Yoo are more than satisfied with their Netflix sci-fi mystery and hope the project can lead to the development of the genre in Korea.

“I am well aware of the different opinions from the critics and the viewers. And I totally respect them all,” both actors said in separate online interviews Friday, using identical words.

But they said they believed all cast and staff were satisfied with and proud of ‘The Silent Sea,’ adding that it was a meaningful step for the Korean sci-fi genre.

For Bae, 42, starring in a Korean sci-fi project was not an easy choice to make.
Bae Doo-na (Netflix)
Bae Doo-na (Netflix)
With her experience in sci-fi film “Cloud Atlas” (2012), set partly in Seoul in 2144, Bae witnessed the difference in budget and technology. The actor said she often questioned and thought about the limits of Korean sci-fi projects until she saw director Choi Hang-yong’s short film, “The Silent Sea.”

“I thought the director’s work was tackling the sci-fi genre in a very smart and unique way. Instead of chasing fascinating graphics and scientific technologies, the director led the viewers to be absorbed in the story with the characters’ psychological state and unique setting,” Bae said.

“After watching the original short film version of ‘The Silent Sea,’ I was confident that the director could make an amazing sci-fi drama series,” the actor added.

Though the series might not have satisfied some viewers’ expectation, Gong thought that “The Silent Sea” presented a Korean interpretation of the sci-fi genre.
Gong Yoo (Netflix)
Gong Yoo (Netflix)
“Though the project was a sci-fi genre, the stories are closely related with the humanities,” Gong said, adding that he was drawn to the juxtaposition between the main characters’ initial mission and what ultimately happens to them.

Bae and Gong took the roles of the two key members -- biologist Song Ji-an and the team’s captain Han Yun-jae, respectively -- of a group of space explorers on a classified mission to harvest water from the moon.

“I think acting in a sci-fi series is an interesting challenge and experience for the actor as well. The spacesuits were extremely heavy to wear. The actors were performing in front of a blue screen, imagining how the scenes will be put together with the acting,” Bae said.
An actor performs in front of the blue screen in “The Silent Sea” (Netflix)
An actor performs in front of the blue screen in “The Silent Sea” (Netflix)
Gong’s excitement was crushed after putting on his spacesuit.

“When I was shooting the elevator scene, I actually felt sorry for the production staff and crew members who were holding the ropes to make my actions more realistic. I was surprised by the suit, which was much heavier than I had expected. My movements were a bit restricted as well. It was a challenging experience,” the veteran actor said.

Bae, who starred in Netflix’s “Sense 8” and its first Korean original series, “Kingdom,” shared her mixed feelings at the end of the interview.

“I laughed a lot after reading a netizen’s comment, which said that I had become a daughter of Netflix after starring in ‘The Silent Sea.’ Netflix definitely offers an environment for content creators and actors to focus on their project, and I am grateful for that,” Bae said.

“I learned that there is a chart to rank the released series. As an actor, this limits my freedom and is something to consider. But I am happy that our work is doing fine on the chart as well,” the actor said.
Bae Doo-na (Netflix)
Bae Doo-na (Netflix)
Gong Yoo (Netflix)
Gong Yoo (Netflix)
The eight-part series ranked in the fifth place as of Monday on the global Netflix chart, according to the US-based streaming analytics firm FlixPatrol.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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