The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Restraints are off for return of ‘The Zone: Survival Mission’

By Lee Si-jin

Published : June 21, 2023 - 19:42

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TV directors Cho Hyo-jin (left) and Kim Dong-jin of TV directors Cho Hyo-jin (left) and Kim Dong-jin of "The Zone: Survival Mission 2" (Walt Disney Co. Korea)

Disney+’s “The Zone: Survival Mission,” has scaled up the set pieces for its second series.

Using escape room-style games, the first season of “The Zone: Survival Mission” threw a star-studded cast of Yu Jae-seok, Lee Kwang-soo and Kwon Yuri into catastrophic situations such as a zombie apocalypse, water shortage, gambling addiction and more, for four hours.

In an interview with local reporters at a cafe in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, directors Cho Hyo-jin and Kim Dong-jin said the second season allowed them to create more spectacular scenarios.

"As many COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, the production team was able to try a lot of exciting things and bring large-scale missions to different cities," Kim said.

According to Kim, the makers of the show faced challenges of their own.

"We had to make different sets to transform an empty hospital building, create a specially designed elevator and even install a telecommunications network to make phone calls inside the deserted cave," Kim said. He believes that the production team also benefited from the new challenges and experiences.

The directors said most of their ideas came from ordinary conversations rather than formal brainstorming sessions or group meetings.

“There is a famous meme in Korea, 'everywhere beyond your blanket is dangerous.' I asked my colleagues about making the cast stay in bed for four hours,” Cho said.

“And I thought that it would be interesting if the cast had to stay in bed, while the bed was moving around different places,” Kim said, explaining how the third episode of “The Zone: Survival Mission 2” came about.

"The Zone: Survival Mission 2" (Walt Disney Co. Korea)

Cho shared that sometimes challenges developed in unexpected ways.

“I have worked with Yu and Lee for a long time. I thought I knew them really well and could see through them. But, I knew nothing,” the director said.

“I never thought Lee would press ‘give up’ button so easily. And one day, we finished the shooting in 2 1/2 hours, while the mission was supposed to take four hours. There were many unexpected situations, which will be featured in the upcoming episodes,” said Cho.

And the pair are not out of inspiration yet. They did not hide their desire to make another season of their reality game show entertaining the viewers.

“Everything is up to Disney+,” said Cho. “But, I think we have enough ideas for more exciting missions. We can apply the concept of multiverse, for instance.”

Meanwhile, Cho explained that the current state of the creative content industry is like the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a historical Chinese epic.

“There are viewers who prefer TV shows with high viewership ratings, users of streaming services who wish to enjoy content of their choosing and young YouTube users. I believe this situation will last for quite a long time,” the director said.

“In the fast-changing environment of the content industry, I hope directors try various things,” Cho added, hoping the creators will look beyond dating show and travel programs.

The eight-part reality game show, which premiered on June 14, hit the No. 2 slot on the Disney+ chart in four countries, including South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“The Zone: Survival Mission 2” is available exclusively on Disney+.