New York Asian 2017 Interview: Superstar Gang Dong-won on VANISHING TIME, Upcoming JIN-ROH and 1987

Featured Contributor; New York City, New York (@TheDivaReview)
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New York Asian 2017 Interview: Superstar Gang Dong-won on VANISHING TIME, Upcoming JIN-ROH and 1987
At the moment, in Korea, there aren’t many stars that shine brighter or hotter than Gang Dong-won.  The leading man of more than 20 features creates frenzies everywhere he goes, as proven by his appearance to receive the Star Asia award at the New York Asian Film Festival.  
 
Gang spoke with me about his featured film, Vanishing Time, and his upcoming films, director Kim Jee-woon’s Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade and director Jang Joon-hwan’s 1987.
 
 
The Lady Miz Diva:  VANISHING TIME is a very interesting film with fairytale-like qualities.  What was your sense of the projects when you first read the script?
 
Gang Dong-won:  The first time I read the script, I was making a movie called A Violent Prosecutor.  When you read the script, it doesn’t look like a very commercial movie - of course, I felt like this was a commercial movie - but this is a new kind of genre in Korea.  We don’t like fantasy kind of movies that much.  So, I felt like it was going to be difficult again, because when I made a movie called Haunters, I felt a very similar feeling.
 
So, I needed to know about the director, get his information.  He came to my shooting place and I talked with him for an hour, and then I could believe him.  {I said,} “Okay, let’s shoot the movie together.”
 
I loved watching the vulnerability of your character, Sungmin, once he’s back in the world after so long, which is exactly the one he left, but is now alien to him.  What were some of the things you looked at to create those gestures and reaction?  
 
First, the reason why the character felt so scared of the environment was because he lived for almost 15 years alone and everything had stopped, but when he came back, everything started to move. 
 
I had a kind of a little bit similar experience in reality in New York, in SoHo; because it was too busy, and then in SoHo, everybody’s rushing.  Then, when I was walking in SoHo, suddenly I became totally covered in sweat and I got panic disorder.  I couldn’t walk, so I sat down on the street, and then I took 10 minutes break and then I could walk.
 
So, maybe, I thought this character would feel extremely the same feeling like my experience.
 
What are older Sungmin’s feelings toward Su-rin?  You have a walk a strange line there, because all this time has passed, but is Sungmin still a young boy in his head with his first big crush on Su-rin? 
 
That was a pretty difficult point, so the director and I, we talked about the kind of love, or friendship, we talked about a very deeply.  We felt, of course, that Sungmin would still have some feelings toward her, because she was the only one who believed him.  But he became older, he knows, because he studied a lot alone; so, he’s not a very social person, but he’s still a little bit of an adult, already.  
 
Yet, he knows that this cannot happen, so he’s controlling his feelings.  There is that scene in the bathroom where she’s cutting his hair and then they’re looking at each other; both of them felt something, whether it was friendship or love.  
 
Anyway, they are still friends; the little girl and the strange man, although they have this very confusing situation.  They cannot be lovers, but it is still very pure.
 
Tell us about working with your VANISHING TIME leading lady, the amazing Miss Shin Eun-Soo?
 
Actually, this movie, since this is the director’s first movie, we talked about the casting so many times, because he was not very sure about the casting.  Casting is so difficult, it’s the most difficult thing in movies.  And he showed a picture – we had a lot of discussions about this boy or this girl – and then when I saw Eun-soo’s picture – director Uhm Tae-Hwa had sent her photo by messenger, and when I saw her picture, I texted him to say, “She’s the one.  She’s the girl.”
 
With Director Kim, you’re doing JIN-ROH: WOLF BRIGADE and one of your first successes was called TEMPTATION OF WOLVES.  I sense a theme.  Please tell us about JIN-ROH.
 
Of course, the movie is based on the animation story.  We have changed it a little bit to a future story.  It was a story that took place in the past.  Not me, actually, the director and the producer and everybody discussed about which would be better; the past, or now, or the future, and then we decided to set the whole film in the future.  
 
I cannot give much information, because we haven’t even started to shoot, but my character will be the strongest character I’ve played in my career.
 
It has taken a very long time for director Kim Jee Woon to bring Jin Roh to production. Is it extra pressure to collaborate on something that has been gestating in an artist’s mind for so long? 
 
We talked about Jin-Roh from maybe five years ago, when I was in the military service.  He asked me, “Are you interested in Jin-Roh?” “Yeah, of course, it’s good.”  And then he said, “Okay, let’s make it.”
 
Today, he put up what looked like a costume test on his Instagram.
 
He did?
 
Yes, he did, it looks really cool, this really sharp-cut military uniform in green.
 
That’s me!
 
I’m very interested in your other upcoming film, 1987, directed by Jang Joon-hwan.  He is not only a great director and nice man, but he is my drinking idol.  Tell us about that film.
 
He is one of my best friends. We made a film called Love For Sale, and we became pretty good friends.  But actually, in Korea, we don’t call it friends; because we have senior and junior, and we are very strict, but he is not a person like that.  He is not strict, he is very open-minded and I think we became pretty close after doing the film.  And now, we talk about “Let’s make this,” and “Let’s make this,” during our drinking sessions. 
 
This movie, called 1987, when he finished the script, he first addressed it to me.  Now, it’s not a good timing to talk about the story.  Maybe he will announce it later, because we have some kind of schedule.
 
So the film is not in production yet?
 
No, we are starting around October 3.
 
This interview is cross-posted on my own site, The Diva Review. Please enjoy additional content, including exclusive photos there.

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1987Gang Dong-wonJin-RohKim Jee-woonVanishing Time