More than a year since the project was confirmed, the highly-anticipated K-drama The Silent Sea is finally premiering on Netflix today, December 24! The new title is Korea’s first sci-fi mystery series and is set to take viewers on a special mission to the moon alongside Bae Doona, Gong Yoo, Lee Joon, and more.
Watch the trailer here:
The Silent Sea comes from director Choi Hang Yong, with a script by writer Park Eun Kyo (Mother). It’s set in a future Earth that has undergone desertification and follows a special team who must obtain a mysterious sample from an abandoned research facility on the moon. The team is comprised of astrobiologist Song Jian, Captain Han Yun Jae, Chief Engineer Ryu Tae Suk, Doctor Hong Doc, Chief Security Officer Gong Soo Hyuk, and pilot Kim Sun.
It’s when they land on the moon and arrive on the research base that they encounter unimaginable mysteries that lurk in the station they’re trapped in.
Just in time for the drama’s big premiere, we got to join the APAC press in a virtual press conference with the main cast, director Choi Hang Yong, writer Park Eun Kyo, and executive producer Jung Woo Sung, where they talked about the concept of the drama, filming “on the moon,” and more. Here are just 8 things you definitely need to know about Netflix’s newest sci-fi offering:
1. The Silent Sea is actually based on Director Choi Hang Yong ‘s thesis film
Yup, The Silent Sea is actually the extended version of Director Choi Hang Yong’s graduation work The Sea of Tranquility. Asked about how the concept came to be, he said that the project came because “he wanted to create something that was true to my passion” and as he was thinking about it, he realized that while there are many movies set in outer space, there’s not a lot of movies that happen in the moon. “I wanted to create a story with the backdrop being the surface of the moon. During the research, I found out that even though the moon is closest to us, there’s not much that has been revealed to us,” he said. “That’s how I came about creating the story about the moon.”
Bae Doona also talked about the short film, saying that she was very surprised at the perfection of Director Choi’s short film and that it was the main reason she joined the project. “Making a sci-fi for your thesis, for your graduation work, that wouldn’t be really easy because don’t have that much input, you don’t have that much investment and money. I think this was amazingly done,” she said. “I thought if it’s this director who made this short film — a space sci-fi created in Korea — it would be worth a challenge as an actor.”
2. Actor Jung Woo Sung executive produces the K-drama
Jung Woo Sung, who starred in films like A Moment to Remember, The Good, The Bad, The Weird, is trading his actor hat to take on the role of executive producer for The Silent Sea. In fact, it was all thanks to him that we got such an amazing cast headed by Bae Doona and Gong Yoo, who were all just the perfect fits for their characters.
Asked about the process of choosing the actors who’ll be starring in it, he said that his main priority was to make sure that they themselves feel passionate about the project. “This is a series that we want a lot of people to love, but I wanted to make sure that the actors — the cast — actually love the project itself,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that they were satisfied with the project, but the actors were all very satisfied with the product.”
Speaking about working with Jung Woo Sung, Bae Doona said that she’s “never seen someone so diligent.” Woo Sung was on set every single day, and she said that he made sure that he takes care of the entire cast, using his experiences as a seasoned actor to check on how they felt and where they might feel uncomfortable.
Gong Yoo agreed, adding that he, as an actor, can feel Woo Sung’s affection towards all of them. He said: “Acting, shooting, it could be tiring, but because we had such a perfect executive producer, the presence of him was a morale booster.”
3. Joining the cast was a “Eureka!” moment for Gong Yoo
Speaking about why he agreed to star in The Silent Sea, Gong Yoo said that he’s always wanted to challenge himself by starring in a genre series. This is especially since he’s also one who’s very interested in stories set “in the dystopian backdrop.” And so when he was offered the series, he had a Eureka! moment, and he said that everything came at perfect timing. “It felt like there are ten exclamation marks popping in my head,” he said.
He also mentioned something about “expanding the horizon” when it comes to the genres of K-content, and how he wanted to be a part of a project that could do just that. “Everything kind of came together, in terms of the subject matter, the story, the backdrop. It all felt very refreshing,” Gong Yoo said. “There was no particular reason not to join the production.”
4. Gong Yoo even had to change his appearance for the role of Han Yun Jae
In The Silent Sea, Gong Yoo plays Han Yun Jae, the “youngest-ever expedition captain of the SAA.” Referred as the legend of the group, he’s a duty-led person who may be very stoic but actually puts his teammates first. To convey his character’s story and personality, Gong Yoo made certain changes to his appearance, which is something that’s very different from his more romantic and polished looks. “I wanted him to have a more rugged and tough look to him, [so the audience can see] how tough a life he led through his appearance,” he said.
Speaking more about how he changed himself for Yun Jae’s character, he said: “He is a former veteran, so. I got a little bit tanned, and if you look at the tattoo he has on his neck, he has an insignia of his former military unity. It’s not much that I tried to create a “tough” appearance, but I just wanted it to hint at the history that we don’t really see in the series — the history this character had.”
5. The cast had great chemistry on set
When asked about it, all the cast members were quick to agree that they had amazing chemistry with each other. Gong Yoo said that this might be because all of them were about the same age. “We’re about the same age, every one of us, and we have a lot of experience. So naturally, we had this chemistry among us,” he explained. “There wasn’t one person who stood out. It was just a great dynamic between all of us. We felt like we were good old friends, so it was really comfortable on set.”
Lee Joon, who plays Ryu Tae Seok, also said that he remembers dancing and having a lot of fun on set. “I don’t think that I’ve ever had this much fun on set. Because we were dancing a lot, it was like we were in a Bollywood movie. We were dancing all the time,” he recalled.
And then there’s Kim Sun Young, whose fondest memory on set involved them doing role-playing conversation. Everyone, according to her, would join in on this, as if the entire thing was natural for them. She said: “I kind of like role-playing conversations, so I would just, out of the blue, start off a conversation. I think me as someone, I would say, I would ask Gong Yoo, ‘Hey, how much is this, mister?’ and then Gong Yoo would just naturally follow. And everyone would just laugh at our conversation, and then Joon would also just join in, everyone would join, and Doona would just run away, saying “Don’t torture me!” but she was laughing really hard.”
6. The space suit that the cast wore weighed 8.5kg
One of the things that made the cast immerse themselves in the role better is their spacesuit. When asked about it, Bae Doona said that although the team tried to make sure the spacesuit is as light as possible, it was still quite heavy and that it still took some time for her to get used to it. “I actually weighed it, and except for the helmet and life support, the suit itself was 8.5 kilograms,” she said. “It was quite suffocating. I couldn’t breathe well in the helmet, so it took me some time to get the hang of it.”
She added that even though they struggled with their costume at first, it was still one of the factors that contributed to the cast’s great dynamic on set. “We had that comradery between us. We know how it feels to be in one of those spacesuits, so we would just joke around and boost our morale because it was quite tiring.”
7. The Silent Sea was filmed in 5 studios
To create the moon and make an environment that’s very immersive for the cast, Director Choi said that they actually shot the drama in 5 studios, with a total of 10,000 square yards. The challenge in creating the set, according to him, was expressing just how different the lunar environment is from that of the earth. “Obviously, on the moon, we don’t have air, so the texture of light, the way light reflects, it all had to be different,” he explained. “Because you don’t have wind there, we have to make sure that we don’t see any kind of wind blowing someone’s hair away or any part of the costume being moved because of the wind. There were some important challenges.”
Another piece from the set that is worth mentioning is the LED screen that lets the cast see the backdrop of the scene physically, instead of having the backdrop added through VFX. Talking about what it’s like to be acting in front of a massive LED screen, Lee Sung Wook, who takes on the role of pilot Kim Sun, said that it was pretty immersive and helped them get into character. “Sometimes, when we would be joking around among ourselves and the camera started to roll, we could immediately just snap into the role and get fully immersed. That was thanks to the LED wall and technology,” he said.
8. Some of the cast members would definitely want to go back to the moon
During the press conference, the cast was playfully asked whether they’d be willing to go back to the moon and what they’re bringing with them if given the chance. Bae Doona and Kim Sun Young were quick to say no. “I’ve been there already, so I don’t think I have to go again. I’ve been on the moon for six months,” Sun Young said with a smile.
Meanwhile, Lee Moon Saeng said that he’ll be willing to go. As to what he will be bringing with him, here’s what he had to say: “Maybe [I would bring] a stuffed animal that I feel comfortable with. I’m scared of heights, so I need a stuffed animal to hug.
Lastly, there’s Gong Yoo who had things planned out depending on how long he’ll be staying on the moon. “I’m not sure if I should say this, but I think I need a woman who could be my wife, right?” he said. “If we can’t come back, we need a new kingdom there. We need to make a community there. I think I need a lady there if I go to the moon for good,” he said. “If I can come back to the earth, then I just want to watch the NBA games, the basketball games. [I would bring] a device where I could watch NBA games and Netflix.”
The Silent Sea starts streaming on Netflix today, December 24.
Homestream image from Netflix.