Hellbound is set to be the newest K-drama on Netflix that will intrigue every K-drama fan out there. It comes from Train to Busan director Yeon Sang Ho, and presents a world where people are condemned to hell and executed by supernatural creatures. The 6-episode drama features a star-studded cast led by Yoo Ah In, Kim Hyun Joo, Park Jeong Min, Won Jin Ah, and Yang Ik Jun.
Watch the trailer here:
The K-drama is set in the middle of Seoul, where demonstrations of hell take place right in front of crowds. Following these occurrences is the rise of the religious organization The New Truth, led by the voice of Jung Jin Su, who claims that only sinners are marked for condemnation and that these events are the works of the divine to make humans righteous. Aside from this, a group of followers called the Arrowhead punishes those who go against the will of the divine.
While The New Truth and its followers try to preach their beliefs to more people, there’s the lawyer Min Hye Jin who challenges Jung’s claim, saying that the demonstrations of hell are simply supernatural occurrences. She then joins forces with a few people who protect the hellbound and go against the chaos brought about by the cult.
Before its premiere this Friday, we got to join director Yeon Sang Ho and the cast of Hellbound in a roundtable interview and a press conference where they talked more about the new series. Check out the highlights below:
On their first impression of the script of Hellbound
In case you didn’t know, director Yeon Sang Ho actually made Hellbound as a webtoon first before it became a drama. And when asked about their first impressions of the script and the webtoon version of Hellbound, everyone said that they were all attracted to the story because of how strong the title was. “When I first read the book, there were very realistic events that were happening in a very unrealistic setting, and that was quite shocking to me,” Won Jin Ah explained.
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The same goes for Park Jeong Min who said that he initially thought about how the events in the story felt realistic to him and how it’s almost “virtually what’s really happening around us” when he first read the webtoon. Another factor that made him say yes to the project is Yeon Sang Ho, who not only created the webtoon but also directed the live-action adaptation. “There are many series based on webtoons, but it’s not very common for the creator of the original webtoon to also create a live-action series,” he explained. “It was very meaningful that I became part of it.
On preparing for their characters
In the drama, Yoo Ah In plays The New Truth Chairman Jung Jin Su, who preaches to his followers that the demonstrations of hell are part of the divine will. Asked about the preparations he had to take to pull off such a character, Yoo Ah In said that he didn’t really put much thought into it, especially since “the script was perfect already.” Instead, he focused more on getting himself into the character of Jin Su and into the world of the story.
“[I] tried to act out what Jung Jin Su would have done and would have said,” he began. “While I did consult with the director and talk about who Jung Jin Su would be, I just tried to immerse myself into the environment, the shoot, the storyline, and the environment that Director Yeon created for me.”
Kim Hyun Joo, on the other hand, said that while she’s played lawyer characters before, Min Hye Jin’s character is unique because of how she’s put in a lot of “very fearful situations” in Hellbound. When it comes to preparing for her character, one thing she focused on was how to make her seem more grounded. “Because the story is a very unrealistic story in a way, I felt that if I wasn’t cautious, I might create a character that is too idealistic in her own right,” she said. “I focused more not so much on showing the strength that my character had, but showing the vulnerabilities.”
And then there’s Park Jeong Min and Won Jin Ah, who take on the role of a married couple in the drama. In preparing for their characters, Won Jin Ah said that instead of discussing things with each other, they encouraged one another and found ways on how their characters would react to the events. “While the two of us face the same events in the story, we each react differently and feel different emotions,” she said. “Sometimes, you would almost feel like his character and my character are at odds with one another, so we tried to focus individually.”
On the Executors and working with the drama’s supernatural creatures
In Hellbound, the supernatural creatures who burn the condemned ones to hell seem nothing like the ones that we’ve seen in films and books before. Asked about how the look of the so-called “Executors” came to be, Yeon Sang Ho said that the image came to him out of the blue, and is based on the “images that people in history have imagined.”
He elaborated, “I wanted people to feel extreme terror and think about hell when looking at these executors.” As to why he decided to have 3 Executors carry out the demonstration, he said that his goal was to make the condemned one look ganged upon. “I wanted it to seem like a bunch of people beating up one person. I think that is what triggers fear in a lot of people,” he explained.
Asked about what it was like to work with these supernatural creatures, Yang Ik Jun answered that he was really looking forward to being face-to-face with them. “When we were shooting the scenes, the actors that were acting out Executor did an amazing job in creating an overall ambiance with their facial expressions, their eyes, almost to a point where I felt like they were actually really cruel,” he said.
Adding on to this, he said that he also would like to have a more “hands-on” experience with them in the future. “As I was working with the supernatural beings, I would say that it was a very enjoyable new experience,” he added. “I wish one day I’d be able to be more hands-on with these supernatural computer graphic created beings.
On filming Jung Jin Soo’s 2-minute monologue
A scene that fans of Yoo Ah In should watch out for in the series is one that features him in a monologue that was almost 2 minutes long and was shot in one take. “There’s was a certain level of pressure that comes with that amount of lines. Rather than looking at it as lines per se, it’s really just words of speech when I think about my character,” Ah In said. “When I focused on what made my character say certain things and capture the moments that create that speech, just focusing on the character and in the moment, it’s extremely exciting and it brings me a lot of joy.”
Director Yeon also added on to this, saying that when they saw Ah In going at it during this one take, he and the rest of the crew knew that it was the one take they’ll use for the final cut. “We all felt like this is the take that we want, but we were worried at the crew who were bound to appear on screen,” he started. “Everyone clicked at the moment and everyone moved out the set because everyone felt it together at that moment. We all thought that this is it. This is the take that we’re going to have in the final version. I was completely in awe when we moved in the camera.
On feeling pressure after the success of Train to Busan
One of Yeon Sang Ho’s most notable works right now is the 2016 zombie flick Train to Busan. Asked about whether he felt pressure after the immense success that the film received, Director Yeon said that compared to his previous works, he didn’t feel much of this for Hellbound.
“I know it could be a nervous thing, like taking a test, to have your work shown in the audience. But I try not to feel that way because I really enjoyed the entire process. I tried to lay a platform in which the cast and the crew can unleash their full potential and their full creativity so I’m very thankful that this happened. I’m very satisfied with the result so I don’t have much pressure,” he finished.
All 6 episodes of Hellbound start streaming tomorrow, November 19, on Netflix.