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September 27, 2017


[Herald Interview] Kim Yoon-seok on playing principled Joseon minister


Veteran actor says ‘The Fortress’ is ‘uncompromising,’ authentic period piece


By Rumy Doo The Korea Herald


Kim Yoon-seok’s criteria for choosing film projects is simple. 


“I pick the best scripts,” he said in an interview Tuesday at a cafe in Palpan-dong, Seoul.


The acclaimed actor, known for his gloomy gravitas, has starred in films such as Na Hong-jin’s 2008 thriller “The Chaser.” 


French novelist Guillaume Musso proclaimed himself a fan of Kim, which is how Korean producers were able to obtain remake rights for Musso’s novel “Will You Be There?” The film, with Kim taking the lead role, opened in Korean theaters last year.


This time round, Kim stars in “The Fortress” as a loyal adviser to Joseon’s King Injo. The film, set to hit theaters on Oct. 3, is a 10 billion won ($8.77 million) endeavor directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk. 


It deals with the Qing invasion of Joseon in 1636, which prompted King Injo to flee the capital and take refuge in Namhansanseong, a mountain fortress located some 25 kilometers southeast of Seoul. 


Isolated in the fortress in the dead of winter, the king and his advisers desperately debate how to thwart the Chinese soldiers that surround the fortress. 



Kim Yoon-seok poses for a photo before an interview in Palpan-dong, Seoul, Tuesday. (1st Look)


“I was happy because it made no compromises. It had the original story (that Hwang) had intended, as an authentic period piece,” Kim said of the film.


Kim plays Kim Sang-heon, who was a minister of culture and education in the Joseon court in the late 1500s. A staunch practitioner of neo-Confucianism, the royal adviser upheld such values as honor and dignity. On the opposite side was Interior Minister Choi Myung-gil, played by Lee Byung-hun, who prioritizes practicality. 


Choi argues that it is better to surrender to the Chinese and preserve life rather than fight an impossible battle. Kim Sang-heon, meanwhile, argues that life without dignity is not life. The Joseon king cannot bow down to a foreign power, he argues. 



Kim Yoon-seok poses for a photo before an interview in Palpan-dong, Seoul, Tuesday. (1st Look)


Actor Kim said he shares similarities with his character. “I think life can have meaning when you are prepared to die fighting for something,” he said. 


Kim Sang-heon is also the most “humane” character, contrary to initial impressions, the actor said. In the movie, he is portrayed as a complex character who has firm principles but is also empathetic toward the people’s suffering. 


“He’s willing to learn,” Kim Yoon-seok said of his character. “He sees others and learns from them.” 


The conflicts the film depicts are also conflicts we face today, Kim Yoon-seok said. “I think they always exist in every period. People will always believe that they are right. You need to be considerate and try to understand each other.”


By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com

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September 27, 2017


Lee Byung-hun praises 'The Fortress' co-star Kim Yoon-seok



SEOUL, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- Star actor Lee Byung-hun has praised the performance by colleague Kim Yoon-seok in their upcoming movie "The Fortress."


"Shooting on that day was very important and there was a lot of dialogue to memorize. The mood was also very serious. I've put a lot of effort into preparing my lines," Lee said during a press conference for the movie on Sept. 26, in response to a question about how they prepared for a climactic scene with Kim.


Lee further explained, "Normally when doing rehearsals or takes, I get a sense of my opposite co-star and get a sense of what to expect from them. But I thought Kim was a very fiery actor."


"His interpretation and the points which he emphasized changed during each take. When comparing it to table tennis, for example, I wasn't sure if I had to go on offense or defense," added Lee.


Kim later explained his side of the situation, revealing that he had actually prepared for the scene with an outdated earlier script and had to memorize an updated version on set while shooting.


"The Fortress" is based on the historical events surrounding King Injo of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), who sought refuge in the Namhan Mountain Fortress, located 24 kilometers southeast of Seoul, for 47 days before succumbing to the invasion by the emperor of China's Qing Dynasty and his 100,000 troops.


The movie is an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same Korean title by Kim Hoon. It was directed by Hwang Dong-hyuck, best known for "Miss Granny" (2013). The film hits theaters Oct. 3.

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September 29, 2017


Many choices at theaters for Chuseok holiday:

‘The Fortress’ is a period piece, ‘I Can Speak’ a comic-drama


Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily



Moviegoers will be presented with a choice of films at theaters during the Chuseok holiday starting Saturday. From left to clockwise right are “The Fortress,” “I Can Speak,” “The Outlaws,” “Deep” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” [CJ E&M, LOTTE ENTERTAINMENT, MEGABOX PLUS M, 20TH CENTURY FOX KOREA, ISU C&E]


Over the past few years, period movies have become must-see films during Chuseok, Korea’s harvest festival. Period action thriller “The Age of Shadows” (2016) and historical drama “The Throne” (2015), both of which were selected as Korea’s contender for the foreign-language Academy Award in the year of their releases, sold 7.5 million and 6.25 million tickets respectively. In 2013, the period epic “The Face Reader” dominated the box office during Chuseok and sold a total of 9.14 million tickets. 


“The Fortress,” set against the backdrop of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and based on Jang Hoon’s best-selling novel, will be the movie of choice for many during the upcoming Chuseok holiday, which for some starts Saturday. 


Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, known for 2014’s “Miss Granny,” the CJ E&M’s release is set in 1636, when China’s Qing Dynasty invaded Korea with 150,000 troops to sever Korea’s ties to the Ming Dynasty. The Korean court flees the capital to take shelter in the Namhan Fortress, in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, which quickly gets surrounded by the Qing army, eventually forcing King Injo to surrender. 


Starring high profile actors like Lee Byung-hun, Kim Yun-seok and Park Hae-il, “The Fortress” sheds light on the internal conflicts among Joseon officials who desperately debate whether to surrender to protect the country and its people or to fight to the death to prove the country’s loyalty to the Ming Dynasty. 


“When I first read the novel, I thought there isn’t much difference between [Korea] 380 years ago and the country now,” said the director at a press preview held earlier this week. “I think it might even be the destiny of the Korean Peninsula. I hope people get a new look at the present after seeing what occurred 380 years ago.”


The movie is scheduled to hit theaters on Tuesday. 


The comic-drama “I Can Speak,” released Sept. 21, is a heartwarming tale about one of the victims of Japanese wartime sexual slavery, who are euphemistically referred to as comfort women. The movie is set in the present day and revolves around a public official named Park Min-jae (Lee Je-hoon) and a grumbling grandmother named Na Ok-bun (Na Muni), who bothers district office officials every day with complaints on even trivial matters. Though the two do not get off to a good start, they develop a close relationship when Min-jae begins teaching English to Ok-bun, and learns of her painful past as a comfort woman and the motivation that drives her to study so hard. 


Already having topped Korea’s weekend box office in its debut weekend, the film is expected to be popular over the Chuseok holiday, when many people seek a funny, feel-good flick to enjoy with their families. 


But if you prefer male-centered action, “The Outlaws,” helmed by Kang Yun-seong, will be a more satisfying choice. Opening on Tuesday, the film stars actors Ma Dong-seok and Yoon Kye-sang.


As anyone who has seen muscular Ma’s previous roles in “Train to Busan” (2016) and “Derailed” (2016) can guess, the actor leads the movie’s thrilling action sequences. 

Based on a true story, the film revolves around a merciless boss (Yoon) from a Korean-Chinese crime organization headquartered in Harbin, northeast China, who is willing to commit any crime for money, and a police detective (Ma) who tries to catch the ruthless criminal and his henchmen.


Some foreign movies are also expected to seize local moviegoers’ interests. 

The second installment in the R-rated “Kingsman” spy comedy franchise has already stirred up fans with a visit by its stars - Colin Firth, Taron Egerton and Mark Strong - to Korea last week. Though it seems heavier on comedy than action, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” already successfully debuted at the top of the Korean box office on Wednesday, taking the crown from “I Can Speak.” 


For parents who want to enjoy a movie with their kids, animations like “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” and “Deep” will be good choices. Both will hit theaters on Tuesday. 


While “The Nut Job 2” is an action-packed animated adventure filled with animal hijinks, “Deep” is a musical that combines a coming-of-age story with ecological themes in the deep abyss of the ocean.


Those who wish to laze at home will also be able to enjoy movies from the past few years on television.


KBS will air the period epic “The Map Against the World,” about Korean geographer and cartographer Kim Jeong-ho, on the small screen on Saturday at 9:20 p.m. JTBC will air “The Attorney” (2013) at 8:50 p.m. on Wednesday and “The Age of Shadows” (2016) at the same time on Thursday. Also, MBC is slated to air the zombie thriller “Train to Busan” on Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m. and the Oscar-winning romantic musical “La La Land” on Oct. 7 at 10 p.m. 


BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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Finally, the (English) reviews are in! user posted image


Here's an all-around positive feedback.. every aspect praised and everyone did a good job! 


September 29, 2017


(Movie Review)

'The Fortress' depicts defeated king and aides facing tough choices, existential threat

By Chang Dong-woo


SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- Mount Namhan Fortress on the outskirts of Seoul harbors one of the most shameful memories in Korea's history. In the winter of 1636, King Injo of Joseon Dynasty sought refuge inside the bulwark fleeing an invasion by the Qing Dynasty.


"The Fortress," a new film to be released Tuesday, illuminates the embattled king's 47 days of hiding which ended in a humiliating surrender to a conquering Chinese general.


Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuck and adapted from a best-selling novel, the movie is not simply about the tragic defeat, but a tale of patriotic assertion, persuasion and making impossible decisions in the face of a looming existential threat.


Movie poster for "The Fortress" provided by CJ Entertainment (Yonhap)

Movie poster for "The Fortress" provided by CJ Entertainment (Yonhap)


The film boasts an ensemble cast of strong character actors who add to the serious and tense tone throughout the period flick.


Park Hae-il of "Memories of Murder" and "Host" effectively portrays the conflicted, troubled young king faced with a choice between disgraceful submission or the total annihilation of his people.


But the true stars are the characters of his top aides, Choi Myung-kil and Kim Sang-heon, played by Lee Byung-hun and Kim Yoon-seok, respectively. Throughout the film's 11 chapters, Choi, the top personnel affairs official, and Kim, foreign policy chief, engage in a series of spirited debate on war and diplomacy.


Choi presses the king to cede for survival, while Kim argues for resistance even at the cost of national destruction. Though on opposite ends, both men are depicted as genuine patriots as they stand firm on what they believe is in the best interest of their king and nation.


A still from "The Fortress" featuring lead actor Lee Byung-hun (Yonhap) 

A still from "The Fortress" featuring lead actor Lee Byung-hun (Yonhap)


Lee once again proves that he is one of Korea's most versatile actors. Kim exudes an extra level of heft and gravitas required in such a tense film. Though given less screen time, supporting characters played by Go Soo, Park Hee-soon and Jung Myung-soo are never outshined by the main leads.


A majority of key scenes take place within a make-shift palace inside the fortress, where Injo and aides discuss survival options and resource distribution -- such as whether to use the last remaining hay to feed the starving war horses or use it to make makeshift blankets for front line soldiers.


The confined setting often renders the film in a theatrical atmosphere. Their long, highly oratory dialogue gives a feel of courtroom drama.


The film, shot beautifully, is not short of dynamism. Breathtakingly wide vista of the barren winter mountains fills up the screen. Visually exciting battle sequences spread throughout the film as much as they are consequential in terms of moving forward the plot.


Accompanied by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto's nuanced-yet-dramatic score, the movie's visuals also feel as if a sepia-tone filter was layered over it, apparently to highlight the dire mental and physical conditions the people within the fortress are in.


A still from "The Fortress" provided by CJ Entertainment (Yonhap)

A still from "The Fortress" provided by CJ Entertainment (Yonhap)




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Thanks to the highlight at PlanetBH0712, a clip highlighting the comments by movie directors, critics and THE FORTRESS novelist after the special screening last Monday. It's good to see Dir. PCW at the event as well as director of A Taxi Driver, if not mistaken. The novel author Kim Hoon in media articles had praised actors Lee Byung Hun and Kim Yoon Suk for their strong portrayal infusing the soul of 'Namhansanseong' into the sentences.

Published on September 28, 2017 by CJ Entertainment Official


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user posted image4 of THE FORTRESS main actors are in the top 25 listed below. Hopefully their rankings will move further up in October.


September 29, 2017


September Movie Actor Brand Reputation Rankings Revealed


Source: Soompi by D. Kim  

The Korean Business Research Institute has published September’s results for brand reputation rankings among movie actors!


The institute analyzed 119,034,743 sources of data from August 28 to September 29 in the categories of participation, media coverage, communication, and community awareness.


Lee Jong Suk topped this month’s brand reputation rankings with a total score of 8,620,701. Gong Yoo followed up in second place with a total score of 5,508,147, while Lee Je Hoon came in third place with a score of 5,454,665.


The top 30 rankings are as follows:


1. Lee Jong Suk
2. Gong Yoo
3. Lee Je Hoon
4. Kim Nam Gil
5. Ryu Jun Yeol
6. Song Joong Ki
7. Kim Soo Hyun
8. Sol Kyung Gu
9. Lee Byung Hun
10. Kim Joo Hyuk
11. Go Soo
12. Park Seo Joon
13. Jun Ji Hyun
14. Jo Jin Woong
15. Na Moon Hee
16. Han Hyo Joo
17. Jung Woo
18. Im Siwan
19. Choi Min Sik
20. Lee Jung Hyun
21. Kim Yun Seok
22. Kang Ha Neul
23. Yeo Jin Goo
24. Park Hae Il
25. Lee Kyung Young
26. Jung Woo Sung
27. Song Kang Ho
28. Jo In Sung
29. Kim Ok Bin
30. So Ji Sub


Source (1)

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October 1, 2017


Veteran actor touts 'The Fortress' as quality epic 



Actor Kim Yoon-seok poses after an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Samcheong-dong, in Seoul, Wednesday. / Courtesy of CJ Entertainment


By Kim Jae-heun The Korea Times


Before the forthcoming movie "The Fortress," actor Kim Yoon-seok had never appeared in an epic film. If he was to do this, he insisted it should be a classic. Today, he believes his dream has come true. 


"The Fortress," directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and based on the book of the same name, deals with the Qing Dynasty invading the Manchu region of Korea in 1636. King Injo and his retainers seek refuge in an isolated fortress in Namhansanseong, Gyeonggi Province, where the winter is freezing and food is running out because the Chinese soldiers have besieged the fortress. 


The leaders of two ideological cliques_ Choi Myung-kil played by Lee Byung-hun and Kim Sang-hun played by Kim Yoon-seok_ confront each other on how to deal with the enemy. 


"If I star in a historical film, I wanted to do a real classic one," said Kim told The Korea Times at a cafe in Samcheong-dong, Seoul, Wednesday. "I had been offered roles in historical films several times, but I turned them down. I chose ‘The Fortress' because I am about the same age as my character. 


"I also wanted to do a film that deals with a serious topic, not just an easy comic movie based on an old story. ‘The Fortress' is based on a real, significant historical event 300 years ago." 


In general, a movie with a heavy topic or sensitive issue does not easily attract investors or producers. But they gave full support to "The Fortress," with actors and directors guaranteed freedom of expression. 


"It is incredible that a classic historical film receives full support from investors and production company," Kim said. "Nowadays, we often see movies that are biased and lean toward the right or the left to appeal to the public. 


"Or directors make superheroes with exaggerated actions to entertain the audience. So stories get simpler and they become very similar to one another. 


"But ‘The Fortress' excluded all that and we go deep into the human story and try to depict what actually happened at Namhansanseong back in the Joseon Dynasty." 


To maximize reality, most of the movie was shot during the freezing winter in PyeongChang, Gangwon-do Province, the coldest region in South Korea. 


The actor said the movie focused on the psychological facet of people during wartime and the breakdown of the caste system when a country is nearly collapsing. 


"Kim Sang-hun is a character who undergoes the most changes," Kim said. "‘The Fortress" depicts the Joseon Dynasty's failure and defeat and incompetence, but at the same time, we wanted to show there were adults who fought hard to protect the country. 


"It's not so different nowadays. Among the people who lie and do not take responsibility for their actions, there are adults who take life-threatening risks to support the country." 


"The Fortress" will open on Oct. 3. 



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October 2, 2017


THE FORTRESS Tops Advance Ticket Booking Ahead of Nationwide Release


Source: Asiae


The highly-anticipated historical movie THE FORTRESS has overtaken 'Kingsman 2' in the ticket pre-sale ahead of the Chuseok Holidays opening on October 3. 


According to the integrated network of the film promotion committee, the real-time advance rate for THE FORTRESS is at 36.2% (150,877) on October 2 at 4:00 pm.


Photo: choahin__



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October 3, 2017


Wide variety of films attract moviegoers during Chuseok holidays


Source: The Dong-A Ilbo


During the 10-day-long Chuseok holiday period, movie theaters are offering diverse features ranging from human comedies, crimes, action and history films.


The fiercest competition in the run-up to the holidays was between action spy comedy film “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and Korean history drama “The Fortress,” which is based on Kim Hoon’s best-selling novel “Namhansanseong.”


The prequel of the Hollywood film attracted the largest number of moviegoers among foreign films with an R rating, which restricts anyone at age 18 or younger from viewing the move.


There are also films for families with children, including two documentary films based on true stories. “Life, Animated” is about an autistic boy named Owen who learned how to communicate with the outside world through his love of Disney films. Korean documentary film “Becoming Who I Was” tells the nine-year story between a Tibetan country boy named Angdu and his master who is 60 years older than the boy.


Other family films include Japanese movie “Birthday Card,” a coming-of-age drama of a girl who lost her mother grows up with hints and thoughts hidden on birthday cards, which are sent from her mother every year.


Animation films “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” and “Deep” will both open on Tuesday to attract kid viewers. The former is about a squirrel and his friends, who are in trouble after their nut shop exploded, working together to protect their park from being destroyed. “Deep” is a musical animation about an octopus named Deep and his friends having an adventure in their quest for a legendary whale in order to save their village in a future when all of New York is submerged.

Sun-Hee Jang sun10@donga.com

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