Star Trek 3, which is slated for 2016, will be filming in Seoul, according to Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.
On Sept. 29, Park spoke with Hollywood producers during the last leg of his U.S. tour in hopes of attracting more studios to film in Seoul, reported Korean media outlet TV Report. Apparently, he succeeded in wooing Hollywood.
“Today I met with Jeffrey Chernov, producer of Star Trek 3, at the Paramount Pictures Studio and agreed to film a portion of the upcoming movie in Seoul,” Park said in his Facebook post.
Seoul has been gaining popularity as a prime filming location with its appearance in the upcoming film Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is expected to be released next year.
“The shooting of Avengers 2 was a great opportunity for local filmmakers and producers to learn about Hollywood’s filmmaking system on top of promoting Seoul at the same time,” the Seoul Metropolitan Government told the Korea Herald.
Written and directed by the Wachowski Brothers, the forthcoming sci-fi drama series Sense8will also film around Cheonggyecheon, a stream that runs through downtown Seoul, later this year. Korean actress Bae Doo-na, who’s known for roles in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Cloud Atlas, is reported to star in the series.
In addition to meeting Hollywood producers, Mayor Park also visited the Los Angeles’ emergency operations center to survey the city’s disaster plans in hopes of improving Seoul’s emergency preparedness.
For Ki Hong Lee, it all started at camp. The Korean American actor first flexed his acting muscles while performing a skit at a church retreat.
“I just had so much fun with it,” says Lee. “I knew from that moment on, in the back of my mind, that I really wanted to give acting a shot.”
Lee, who was born in Korea and lived shortly in New Zealand before moving to Southern California (“That’s why I don’t have a New Zealand accent, unfortunately”), is a firm believer in doing what you love and never giving up. This mantra carried him through his first years of acting.
“I just went all in and started training and doing everything I could,” says Lee. “I did as much theater as I could, and I read every play that I could get my hands on.”
With the constant support of his parents, whom he calls his “biggest fans,” Lee gradually built his resume with a slew of small acting gigs, including playing a busboy in a Modern Family episode, a main character lead on ABC Family’s Nine Lives of Chloe King and various love-entangled roles in rom-com shorts by YouTube channel WongFu Productions. Already, the actor in his early 20s can count his stints of acting at camp retreats a thing of the past.
And when Lee found himself pitching tents and making s’mores over a campfire again, it was while bonding with castmates on the set for upcoming action thriller The Maze Runner.
The highly anticipated film, which hits theaters Sept. 19, marks Lee’s debut on the big screen. Set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society, the film (based on the best-selling, eponymous book by James Dashner) centers around a group of boys who end up trapped in an open expanse called The Glade. Surrounded by high stonewalls, the space is enclosed by a dangerous maze that changes its pattern every night—it’s virtually impossible to escape.
“I play this character who is the head leader of the maze runners, the group of boys who are selected to run the maze and figure out a way out,” explains Lee of his character, Minho.
A scene from ‘The Maze Runner’
He is focused on one goal: to help his friends survive and find a way out. Lee definitely breathes life into Minho, not only taking on the character’s personality, but also committing to almost every physical feat described in the novel.
“It was definitely an artistic challenge and a physical challenge every day… but we were so passionate about the project, you know? We had stunt doubles, but we never used them, Dylan and I. When we were running in the maze, that’s us running,” says Lee, referring to his co-star, Dylan O’Brien. “When Dylan was tired, I tried to push him, and when I was tired, he’ll push me. We kept each other accountable.”
The camaraderie that developed between Lee and his co-stars happened overnight. “It was bromance from day one,” confesses Lee, who says that the natural chemistry helped to translate the story credibly from paper to screen. “These characters have been in this place called the Glade for three, four, five years, so in order to get that kind of fluidity between characters, you need to spend time with your co-stars. But thankfully it kind of happened organically, it wasn’t forced at all.”
Lee says it was especially gratifying, as an Asian American actor, to get to play such a strong role in a major feature film. “We have this Asian character who is one of the leaders,” he says. “I really liked that it was different from any other role that I’ve crossed.”
Notably, the character of Minho was based on author Dashner’s real-life relative of the same name.
“I thank God mostly for that guy,” says Lee, laughing. “Without him being involved in James Dashner’s life, this would not have happened. It’s crazy how some of these things work out, and I’m just thankful for this opportunity to bring this character to life.”
‘The Maze Runner’ premieres in theaters today.
This article was published in the August/September 2014 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the August/Sept. issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).
In a world of YouTube and viral videos, smartphone footage is found aplenty online. But among the masses, there are those who push the boundaries of what stories can be filmed with a smartphone camera, and when it’s done correctly, the results can be quite interesting.
It’s a fitting contest for a country that has 80 percent of its population using smartphones. A jury of Korean filmmakers handed out the awards this year to a diverse group of films and contestants, ranging from elementary school students to a 73-year-old man representing 43 countries. Nearly 1,000 films were submitted, marking a 30 percent increase from last year’s submissions.
In the 10-minute category, Kim Tae-yung’s Artificial Intelligence and Sylvain Certain’s Cercle Vicieux took the $8,000 cash prize and smart device. Yoo Su-jin’s The Prayer and Sathapranavan Sathasivam’s God is Dead took the top honors for the one minute category.
The Future of Tongue:
Four special prizes of $3,000 and a smart device were given to filmmakers from Korea. You can view the rest of the winning films at the festival’s website.
Joe Hahn has directed more than 30 music videos for Linkin Park, along with a number of other projects, so turning his skills over to film probably was a pretty natural transition.
The Linkin Park musician will be making his directorial film debut with Mall, based on Eric Bogosian’s 2001 novel. The story follows five dissatisfied suburbanites who find themselves in a shopping mall when a man begins firing at people. The incident not only radically changes his life, but also those of the others who are forced to deal with the life-threatening situation.
“It’s about the cycle of self-destruction,” Hahn explained to Mashable. “I find it refreshing to see this kind of point-of-view in contrast to today’s society that interacts digitally.
“The thing with life through devices, Internet and apps is that people are self-editing themselves. They are picking the best selfies and showing how cool they are, very one-sided. … When I read this script, it felt real and refreshing to show how ugly people can be, as they hide their inner beasts after cracking their facades.”
Mall will receive a North American theatrical release on Oct. 17, according to New Noise Magazine. The film will be distributed via Paragon Pictures. The movie stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Gina Gershon and Cameron Monaghan.
Hahn hosted an exclusive screening of the film, plus a question-and-answer session, during the 5th annual Nerd HQ event at Petco Park in San Diego. The video for the Q&A is below.
Dear White People has been garnering buzz ever since it sold out all of its screenings at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and with the release of the first full trailer, we can get a taste of what festival goers were raving about. Director Justin Simien’s satire, which is due in theaters on Oct. 17, follows four black students who attend Winchester University, a fictional, predominantly white school.
KoreAm earlier wrote about Korean American actress Naomi Ko, who makes her film debut in Dear White People as Sungmi, an art major with a lip ring who lives at a traditionally black residence hall, and hangs out with mostly African American students. Though Ko’s role is small, the film’s contemporary exploration of the nuances of racial identity on a college campus will no doubt resonate with Asian American audiences—as it did for the actress.
“Dear White People really hit home, in the sense of what it’s like to be a minority in such a white world,” Ko told KoreAmlast winter. “You may have a particular theme where somebody wants to touch one of the African American character’s hair. I feel like it’s very easy to switch that out and say, ‘Oh, where are you from?’ It’s a question that I’m asked many times, even though I was born in Minnesota.”
The plot follows activist Samantha White (Tessa Thompson), as she is unexpectedly elected the head of the black residence hall. When the college announces plans to diversify the hall, Samantha takes to the airwaves, using the campus radio show she hosts, called “Dear White People,” to protest the decision. She delivers biting PSAs such as, “Dear white people, please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you?” and “Dating a black person to piss off your parents is a form of racism.”
The drama comes to a head when the college’s influential humor magazine hosts its annual Halloween party with a very ill-conceived theme: “Unleash your inner Negro,” which throws napalm onto an already unstable campus environment.
The film also stars Tyler James Williams, Brandon P. Bell, Dennis Haysbert and Teyonah Parris.
A private committee in South Korea is raising funds for a documentary on the Sewol ferry disaster, according to Yonhap News. Director Im Jong-tae announced plans to release A Goose’s Dream on the first anniversary of the disaster, which would be April 16 next year.
The committee plans to raise 400 million won (approximately $393,000) through crowdfunding until Oct. 10. Around 300 million won will go towards production costs, and another 100 million won to advertising.
Im told the Korea Times that the two-hour film will delve into a variety of topics, from what actually happened during the sinking to the ongoing rescue efforts, as well as corruption in South Korean society as a whole. Im said film would also be a tribute to the victims.
The title of the documentary refers to a song performed by Lee Bo-mi, a student at Danwon High School who was one of the 293 people who died in the accident. She apparently had aspirations to become a singer. You can listen to a segment of Lee practicing the song below.
The Sewol sank off South Korea’s southwest coast on April 16 earlier this year, leaving 293 dead, many of them high school students who were on a field trip to Jeju Island. As of last Friday, 11 people remain missing as rescue efforts continue.
For more information on A Goose’s Dream, you can stay up-to-date with the film’s Facebook and Daum pages.
“Our story takes place in a world where all relationship activity is documented and monitored by the Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI),” reads a description on the Wong Fu website. “Much like a credit score is given to represent financial responsibility, a relationship score is given to keep individuals accountable for the relationship activity and choices. The score is public for all to see, and affects various aspects of daily life.
In the film we follow two couples who are experiencing different challenges in their relationships. Seth and Haley are two high schoolers who are registering their relationship for the first time, and Ben and Sara, a former couple in their mid twenties who must meet again to settle an old report.
Through these two stories we are going to explore how love changes over time, and how to believe in your heart again after it’s been hurt.”
Hollywood rarely portrays North Korea in a positive light (see Red Dawn, Olympus Has Fallen and Die Another Day), but James Franco and Seth Rogen’s upcoming movie, The Interview, has touched a particularly sensitive nerve with the regime.
A spokesman for Kim Jong-un told the Telegraph that the comedy, starring Franco and Rogen, showed the “desperation” of American society in its “ironic storyline.” Two talk show hosts are tasked by the U.S. government to kill Kim, played by Randall Park, when they are granted an exclusive interview with the leader.
“A film about the assassination of a foreign leader mirrors what the U.S. has done in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine,” said Kim Myong-chol, executive director of the Centre for North Korea-US Peace. Though he also said that the dictator would probably watch the film.
“In fact, President [Barack] Obama should be careful in case the U.S. military wants to kill him as well.”
In addition, Kim dismissed Hollywood films as being “full of assassinations and executions” and said British films are better and more realistic. Discounting Die Another Day, which was immediately described as “dirty and cursed” by state media, 007 still apparently remains a staple in North Korea.
“James Bond is a good character and those films are much more enjoyable,” he said.
Previews of The Interview have apparently attracted mixed reviews, and many have raised concerns the premise of the film.