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(Yonhap Interview) 'Steel Rain' star Jung doesn't consider N. Korea as enemy

2017/12/14 16:56

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SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- Jung Woo-sung, star of the new North Korean-themed action espionage thriller "Steel Rain," said Thursday he has never perceived North Korea as an enemy of the South, and he underscored the need to provide better lives for its impoverished people.

"I've never considered North Korea the enemy. We (South Koreans) have always hoped for a reunification. I'm worried about the regime's exploitation of its people, as it is virtually a feudal state that has relied on a dynastic succession," Jung said in a group media interview in Seoul. He added that the people in the North "need to be offered better lives."

   In "Steel Rain," Jung takes on the role of agent Um Cheol-woo, who takes on a covert mission to eliminate North Korean military leaders plotting a coup. He witnesses an assassination attempt on North's "No. 1" during the leader's visit to a border town near the South. Jung rescues his unconscious supreme leader and seeks refuge across the border.

A publicity photo of Jung Woo-sung, star of the North Korea-themed action thriller "Steel Rain" (Yonhap) A publicity photo of Jung Woo-sung, star of the North Korea-themed action thriller "Steel Rain" (Yonhap)

Jung recalled a scene he shares with co-star Kwak Do-won, who plays a senior South Korean presidential aide and security analyst, in which they eat noodles side by side at a restaurant, each with one hand cuffed to the other.

"It felt like the current situation of the Korean Peninsula. We were this close but also emotionally distanced from one another (by the handcuffs)," said Jung.

The veteran movie star also spoke in a North Korean accent in the film. Jung said he studied the North Korean dialect by watching documentaries about the communist country. According to Jung, Pyongyang men tend to talk fast. He considered speaking slowly for clearer delivery but ultimately opted to speak fast for realism.

Jung is also one of the more publicly outspoken South Korean celebrities when it comes to social and political issues. During a publicity event for "Asura: The City of Madness" last year, he actor shouted in front of the press, "Park Geun-hye come forward!" referring to the former South Korean president who was impeached and is currently being tried over a corruption scandal.

"I wasn't trying to publicize my political leanings. Aren't people afraid to voice their opinions because they become framed as leftists for voicing their frustration with the government?," Jung asked rhetorically.

"As a citizen and someone now in his middle age, I think about what type of person I should be as a member of society's older generation," Jung said. He explained that he doesn't want to feel ashamed in the face of the younger generation.

The South Korean actor recently visited refugee camps for Rohingya people in Bangladesh in his capacity as a National Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Everything from drinking water to medical support is insufficient. One out of four people suffer from malnutrition. Refugees of war normally have a place to return to after a war ends. But the Rohingya people face a fundamental uncertainty in terms of their home country," Jung said.

The actor added, "It is a serious problem and requires understanding, attention and political mediation by the international community."


A still from "Steel Rain" provided by distributor NEW (Yonhap) A still from "Steel Rain" provided by distributor NEW (Yonhap)