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'Mogadishu' director captures drama, thrills behind true story

Yonhap
Friday July 2, 2021

                   

Star director Ryoo Seung-wan said Thursday that he was fascinated by the dramatic story and characters in the true story that inspired his upcoming action film "Escape from Mogadishu."

 "Mogadisu" is based on a real event of the life-and-death escape by diplomats in South and North Korean missions in the capital city of Somalia during the civil war in 1991.

 Veteran actor Kim Yoon-seok takes the role of Han Sin-seong, South Korean ambassador to the war-torn African country, and Jo In-sung plays spy agent Kang Dae-jin, while Heo Joon-ho appears as the North Korean ambassador.

Since its early stage of production, the film has drawn media attention for its big budget of 20 billion won (US$18 million) and all-star cast. Its other key selling point was its star director Ryoo, who has created many box-office hits, including the action thriller "The Berlin File" (2013) and the action comedy "Veteran" (2015).

"When I first got an offer for this project a few years ago, I just had an inkling of the incident," Ryoo said in a press conference streamed online. "During research for the filmmaking, I was deeply impressed by its dramatic story, characters and events. I really dared to make it into a movie."

"Mogadishu" is Ryoo's first directorial project in about four years since "The Battleship Island" (2017).

He said he put his utmost efforts into recreating a lifelike escape story from the gunfire-filled city streets, and dramatizing the political and tribal situation in Somalia before and after the civil war.

His crew referred to piles of documents and materials about the Somali civil war, including a memoir written by a Somali journalist and the recently declassified document by the U.S. government.

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And the 47-year-old filmmaker picked out Essaouira, a western coastal city of Morocco, to shoot his film as the city provides the perfect urban setting for authenticity. Currently, South Koreans are banned from traveling to Somalia.

"We worked with a Moroccan production manager who has participated in Hollywood projects filmed in the country, like 'Black Hawk Down' and 'Gladiator,'" Ryoo said. "He suggested Essaouira, and that city looks really like Mogadishu in its buildings and streets. It was what I really looked for."

On top of that, a number of local stunt actors featured in mass action sequences and difficult explosion scenes after weeks of training, he added.

Ryoo said he is satisfied with the ensemble of his actors, who made efforts to look more like diplomats who have long stayed in Africa during the four-month shooting in Morocco.

"Before we get to Morocco, actors already got tanned as if they were African residents," he said. "They showed great teamwork and viewers will feel their onscreen chemistry."



 





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