Koo Kyo Hwan continues to be on a roll with Kingdom: Ashin of North and Escape from Mogadishu. First received attention as a star in independent films like Maggie and Jane, he made his commercial film debut with Yeon Sang Ho’s Peninsula, boasting a strong presence.
In Kingdom: Ashin of North, Koo turned into Pajeowi Tribe leader Ai Dagan. Ai Dagan is a character who quickly gathers forces around the border to threaten Joseon in the midst of its chaos. And in Escape from Mogadishu, he plays Tae Joon Gi, a counselor at the North Korean embassy in Somalia. He pulled off intense action sequences with Jo In Sung, who is at odds with him, and in the second half of the movie, he intensified the tension with thrilling car-chasing action.
To mark the release of Escape from Mogadishu, Koo conducted a video interview.
First, Koo expressed his joy about Escape from Mogadishu, scoring the highest Korean film opening record of this year. “I was very grateful for the hearts of the audience who waited for the movie. I saw the movie one more time on the day of its release, and I want to watch it again. The reason I like to watch movies in theaters is the feeling of people gathering in one place to stare at the same thing. People laughed with me in the part where I laughed, and when I got tensed up, so did they. I was grateful for that.”
He showed great respect for director Ryu Seung Wan. “I met him as a director for the first time when I was making a short film. I have sent love letters to him since 2013. He’s my role model. So I was psyched when I first received an offer from him. What are the chances of being cast in your favorite director’s movie? I feel like I’ve become a successful fan.”
What was it like working with Kim Yoon Seok, Jo In Sung, and Heo Joon Ho? “From the moment I decided to become an actor, they have been the icons. All three of them showed different reactions to my character, and that inspired me. Whenever I read a comment about our ensemble, It made me smile. It’s amazing that we made a scene together in this great movie, and that’s being conveyed to the audience.”
How did he approach his role? “Counselor Tae Joon Gi has an uncompromising attitude and always prioritizes the safety of the North Korean embassy. Showing the character’s grit was the most important. The lines were important, but expressing that with my body was more important. He needed to look solid, and I also had to prepare for the action scenes. So I trained in the action school for a long time. That was the healthiest period in my short acting career.”
After Kingdom: Ashin of North and Escape from Mogadishu, Koo also starred in the new Netflix original series D.P., scheduled to premiere in August. Doesn’t he feel pressured? “I don’t feel pressured. I’m just grateful. I’m getting more excited about the characters I’ll meet in the future. I get the strength to do more when someone’s cheering me on.”
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