The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] 'Ransomed' director trusts ‘familiar duo’ of Ha Jung-woo and Ju Ji-hoon

By Kim Da-sol

Published : July 20, 2023 - 14:20

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Director Kim Seung-hun of “Ransomed” (Showbox) Director Kim Seung-hun of “Ransomed” (Showbox)

Director Kim Seung-hun, who returns to the big screen for the first time in seven years with “Ransomed,” said his pick for Ha Jung-woo and Ju Ji-hoon in the starring roles was based on his deep trust in the two actors, despite some concerns that this “familiar duo” is a bit cliche.

“When this film was first planned at around 2020, there were already mixed reactions about casting these two as the stars. Some said their chemistry is guaranteed, while others said the audience is fed up with that combination,” director Kim told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on Wednesday.

“I don’t know how many more films I will make in the remainder of my life, but I always question myself when casting actors. Are they the actors that I would want to shoot for my very last project? I’m sure that Ha and Ju are the most suitable for the roles in this film,” Kim added.

“Ransomed” tells the story of a diplomat named Min-jun (Ha) and a local taxi driver named Pan-su (Ju) set in Lebanon whose mission is to rescue a fellow diplomat. The film was shot in Morocco.

Because of some moviegoers’ high expectations for guaranteed chemistry between the actors onscreen, Kim said he had to focus on the details during the editing process. He had worked with Ha on the 2016 thriller “Tunnel,” and with Ju for the Netflix hit series “Kingdom."

“I had to let go of my anxiety. Since I've also been a moviegoer at the cinema, I also had a deep trust and hope in Ha and Ju as a duo. I’m sure that at least some other audience members share my sentiments,” said Kim.

Regarding the film’s familiar plotline of a hostage crisis and rescue mission – as seen in films like “Escape from Mogadishu” (2021) and “The Point Men” (2023) -- Kim said the film is ultimately about humans saving another human's life.

“From long ago, I wanted to tell a story about a group of people who are connected by a bond of trust. It’s a story about humans saving another human. I’m sure that there are people who are saving others even at this moment, and they’re the true heroes,” said Kim, adding that he used his imagination after hearing a brief news report on how a diplomat who went missing in Lebanon two years ago was rescued during the 1980s.

A scene from “Ransomed” (Showbox) A scene from “Ransomed” (Showbox)
A scene from “Ransomed” (Showbox) A scene from “Ransomed” (Showbox)

Other than the dramatic storyline depicting the urgency of a diplomatic rescue operation, the film’s climax is a car chase through narrow street alleys. It’s a breathtaking sequence during which Ju desperately drives his broken taxi to get away from armed gangsters.

“About 250 staff members gathered from Korea and Morocco and prepared all we can do to shoot the best car chase scene. We prepared 10 backup taxis over a 14-day shoot just for this scene. I wanted to show the best version possible for this 2-minute car chase scene,” the director noted.

“Ransomed” opens in local cinemas on Aug. 2.