Gyeongseong Creature : In the spring of 1945, a young man and woman struggle for survival while fighting monsters born out of human greed.
TV Network: Netflix
Premiere Date: Dec 22, 2023
Genre: Mystery thriller
Press Conference with Actor Park Seo-joon, Actress Han So-hee, Writer Kang Eun-Kyung, Writer/Director Chung dong-yoon
Q. What made you accept the role?
Park Seo-joon : Gyeongseong and that historical period fascinated me, and the story was very compelling. My character, as well as all the other characters, was so intriguing. The creature element added intensity and suspense, and I thought, “that’s a great story for a series.” So I decided to accept the role.
Han So-hee : I was most drawn by the fact that Chae-ok is a strong, self-reliant character and that the project is set at a historical period in time not many get to experience. I also had a ball watching the director’s previous show, “Hot Stove League” and that sealed the deal.
Q. What made you take on this project?
Chung Dong-yoon : I had met with writer Kang Eun-kyung a few times to discuss the story. The storyline and the characters in the draft of the screenplay she sent me later were very intriguing, down to the sub-stories of diverse people. I was drawn to these characters who made me feel like I was experiencing that era.
Q: What was the starting point for “Gyeongseong Creature”?
Kang Eun-kyung : It’s a story about young people struggling to survive. I wanted them to be not just figures representing a painful era but real people like us living at that time in history. So I wanted to begin with the question, “What were the people living at that time like?” The time period by itself, however, would not differentiate this story from many others. That’s what I was thinking when I met up with director Chung Dong-yoon, who has so much insight into different genres. So my love of the narrative and his gift for genre work came together, and “Gyeongseong Creature” was born.
Q. Tell us about Tae-sang. What were some things you did to get into character?
Park Seo-joon : When you consider Jang Tae-sang’s wealth, business and influence, he is certainly a self-made man of a scale that’s rare in those times. That period is marked by so much lack and struggle for survival, and in that context, he is a man who lives by his own rules, a man of strong will and upright character. But in some scenes, he shows that he has the flexibility to adapt to diverse situations, and that’s what makes him so appealing as the story’s protagonist.
And I tried to make him witty. As the master of the House of Golden Treasure, he is well recognized everywhere he goes, looking impeccable at all times. When I first learned of the role, I began researching the period clothing for that time. I thought the confidence he exudes can be shown through his appearance, like his perfectly groomed hair and 3-piece suits with wide trousers and exaggerated shoulders.
Q. Tell us about Chae-ok. What were some things you did to get into character?
Han So-hee : As a single-minded person pursuing one goal, she suppresses many emotions underneath her tough facade. It’s those traits that make her truly shine. I tried to depict her as someone who doesn’t lose sight of her mission and purpose. At the same time, I tried to provide balance so that she didn’t seem one dimensional. For Chae-ok, loving someone is a luxury she cannot afford. It’s not easy for her to open her heart and let Tae-sang in, so I focused on the details of that difficult process.
Q. What were your areas of focus in directing this series?
Chung Dong-yoon : The most important aspect was making things seem very real. Yes, there is a creature but I wanted it to be more than an oversimplified sci-fi figure. The backdrop, too, had to be real to draw viewers in and get our message across. The protagonists had to look real in running away from the creature or fighting it, so I avoided giving them unreasonable, unbelievable powers. The creature also received painstaking attention. I was constantly asking, “Would this movement have more of an impact?” or “Would this appear more realistic?”
Q. What was the idea behind the concept of “between” in the series?
Chung Dong-yoon : “Between” is such a fitting word for our chosen setting of the spring of 1945. There were many gray areas and two sides to everything, requiring everyone to question which direction they should be headed. Writer Kang Eun-kyung instilled this theme in the characters, and I tried to show it to the best of my ability.
Kang Eun-kyung : The word “between” can have many meanings. It can be used to distinguish one thing from another or from one phase to another. We experience many such “between” experiences in the times we live in now. Take good and evil, for example. We ask, “Do I choose this or that?” or “How should we live as human beings? What comes first, survival or humanity?” Depending on which side you choose, discernment between good and evil takes on different meanings. Aren’t we all navigating through life in this way, constantly choosing sides? Jang Tae-sang is a prime example of someone caught between two sides. His survival necessitated him to get along with the Japanese but he must have asked how much his pride could take and how far he could be pushed. For me, the “between” concept doesn’t really mean differentiation here. It signifies a person trying to decide which side to stand on, like Jang Tae-sang.
Q : What was it like being on set? Any memorable spaces?
Park Seo-joon : The hard work put in by both director Chung Dong-yoon and art director Choi Ki-ho could be seen as soon as I walked on set. Some spaces were beautiful, some mysterious, some eerie and some downright bone chilling, especially without any lighting. It’s really helpful for actors to feel the space as realistically as possible, and I applaud how they went beyond our imagination in creating the period feel. The Bonjeong district was amazing. When walking there, I felt at times like I was truly living in that era. It was as if the spirit of those times lingered on.
Han So-hee : The colors were so beautiful, and the contrast between the vibrance of the House of Golden Treasure and the bleakness of the dungeons really put focus on that particular space. The buildings and the people were beyond anything I’ve seen before, and I felt like I was in Gyeongseong during that time.
Q. What were your main considerations for the various spaces presented in the series?
Chung Dong-yoon : All historical periods have two sides to them. Even during the toughest times, people find happiness and laughter in little things. So for the Bonjeong district and the House of Golden Treasure, I tried to convey the little moments of joy and kindness in people’s lives. Those were difficult times, but I wanted to show that they were living their lives to the fullest, even indulging in some luxuries. To contrast that, I wanted to highlight the other side of frightening, atrocious events taking place. That’s why Ongseong Hospital appears so dark and ominous as opposed to the bright and light Bonjeong district and the House of Golden Treasure.
Q. What characteristics were given to the creature and why?
Kang Eun-kyung : Conceptualizing the creature began with the idea of a mouse striking out against a cat. A parasite in a prey’s head making it fearless against its predator was an interesting concept to me. Working with the idea of a parasite, I freely imagined how powerful that parasite could be and all the possibilities that could happen.
Q. What was it like working with Han So-hee?
Park Seo-joon : I watched “My Name” and thought she was an actor with so much passion for her work and competence to match. I wanted to work with her in the future, and that opportunity presented itself sooner rather than later. And as I expected, she always gave her very best and her work was inspiring. I think we had great synergy that resulted in many great scenes together.
Q. What was it like working with Park Seo-joon?
Han So-hee : There’s quite a bit of tension between the characters Chae-ok and Tae-sang. Breaking that tension could have easily muddled the balance, but on set, Park Seo-joon was so grounded as Tae-sang. I could really focus on Chae-ok and look upon him through her eyes. We were also constantly running together, which naturally helped us build rapport.
Q. What was it like working with director Chung Dong-yoon and writer Kang Eun-kyung?
Park Seo-Joon : I worked with director Chung Dong-yoon for “Hot Stove League,” so I was ecstatic about working with him again. He’s the first director I became close enough to call each other by brotherly terms of endearment. We’d talk candidly while eating together, and I could tell he trusted me. When he showed me a presentation of what he was preparing for this project during the casting phase, I thought, “I can put my trust in someone who does this much preparation beforehand. I’d be able to focus more on my acting while we film.” And as expected, it was amazing working with him. There was never a dull or uninspiring moment throughout this project. As for writer Kang Eun-kyung, she needs neither introduction nor explanation. Her work speaks for itself, and of course when I read the screenplay, it was nothing short of perfection. Her words drew me in, and I was moved to feel everything from pain to humor. I thought, “The only thing needed from me is doing my part, and how can I do an excellent job of that?” I thought about how I could deliver each line in the way that does justice to her writing.
Han So-hee : It’s easy to bond over a mutual appreciation of a beautiful picture but quite hard to do so with feelings of the uncanny. In that sense, director Chung and I were on the same wavelength. I enjoyed how we were on the same page regarding things that instinctively made one think, “There’s something wrong here.” Above all, his heartfelt affection for Chae-ok, Tae-sang and all the characters filled me with appreciation for the show. As for writer Kang’s script, I remember thinking, “How did she come up with this?” Her work made me wonder about its origins, and whether she had planned every scene from the beginning. There were many instances when a single dialogue was enough to capture the characters in their entirety, which made for an extremely interesting read.
Q. How does it feel to showcase “Gyeongseong Creature” worldwide to viewers in 190 countries?
Park Seo-joon : I’m filled half with excitement and half with anticipation for showing what we worked on through Netflix. The series is filled with fascinating images that recreate what life was like in our country during that time. The series is about people living through those times, with the added suspense of the creature theme and the courage of young people overcoming difficulties. To bring this amazing story to life, all of us gave our heart and soul for months on end, and we have no regrets. I’m absolutely confident that viewers will revel in the fruits of our labor and hope they enjoy it to the full extent in the comfort of their homes.
Han So-hee : I’m excited, happy and even a little sad that “Gyeongseong Creature” will finally see the light of day. Viewers can delight in the unusual blending of the creature and the period genres. They can look forward to how the lives of these characters are affected by the creature, the relationship that develops between Tae-sang and Chae-ok as well as the connections among other characters. We hope you enjoy and love the show as much as we did.
Chung dong-yoon : This project was everything I had hoped for and more so I gave it my best. I feel like I exhausted my full brain power so I have no regrets. This story was the first of its kind for not just me but for writer Kang Eun-kyung and the staff, and I’m so grateful that I got to share that experience with the most amazing actors and staff members. I’m so curious about what viewers here and abroad will make of our story. I can’t wait to see their responses.
Kang kun-kyung : I almost cried thinking how many people worked so hard on this project. As someone who devoted her life to writing screenplays, I was so grateful. The two lead actors, Park Seo-jun and Han So-hee had great onscreen chemistry and delivered stellar performances. I hope viewers will find the intertwined lives of these two delightful characters and the romance that develops between them captivating.
Here’s the trailer of the series.