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Filming XO, KITTY in Korea

Jul 06, 2023
  • Source by Seoul Film Commission
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Korea in the Era of Global Content


 ​Image provided by Netflix


by Taejin “TJ” Kim, Production Manager & Bong Hoon “Bong” Cho, Location Manager of XO, Kitty


"I completely forgot about this! We need it by tomorrow morning. Can we get it now?"

It was around 4 p.m. one day, right before the shoot, when an American crew member approached me in a state of agitation and asked the above question. I expertly navigated my phone and turned the crew member into a “K-Delivery” devotee, after she experienced overnight delivery.



  ​Image provided by Netflix



Whereas the foreign film crews who came to Korea five to six years ago to shoot projects such as Sense8 and Black Panther were surprised by the internet speed and how safe the streets were at night, one of the things that caught people by surprise recently was the delivery system. Crew members were absolutely amazed and envious of how everything could be delivered within two days, whether it’s daytime, late at night, or whether you’re next to the Han River or on an island. In addition to the delivery system, they also experienced the top-notch processing speed and hospitality of government offices and other services here, so it was natural for them to be amazed.


I presume this fast processing speed might have been one of the reasons the producers of XO, Kitty decided to film the first season in Korea. When talks about the filming of season one emerged around mid-2021, we emphasized the appeal of Korea by highlighting the fast location searches and feedback from relevant institutions. I believe this led to the decision to shoot in Korea.



 ​Image provided by Netflix


Since Korea was already introduced in To All the Boys: Always and Forever, the decision to film in Korea was not all that surprising. However, although the producers could have tricked viewers like other foreign shows do by having most of the scenes shot in the US and making it seem as if the entire series was filmed in Korea by only capturing Korean landmarks, they chose to film everything here, including the indoor sets. Perhaps it was thanks to the continuous development, accumulated experience, and infrastructure we had built along the way.


Filming in Korea took place from February to June 2022. It was during a period when the number of COVID-19 cases were increasing exponentially. We underwent PCR tests twice a week, along with strict preventative measures, social distancing, and mask-wearing to ensure safety, but it was impossible to avoid the unexplained outbreak. Although we always had one or two people among the cast and crew testing positive each week, we were able to safely complete the filming by responding promptly and taking preventative measures.



  ​Image provided by Netflix


During filming, we were able to experience many locations that are not often used for Korean films. We rented expensive clubs, campgrounds, hotels, government offices, and schools - locations that would put a strain on the budget even if you rented them for one day - for days at a time to shoot scenes. The American crew members were happy about being able to create fabulous scenes at each location and have a Korean experience. They left highly satisfied, saying that they would take lifelong memories with them.


However, we did run into one difficulty: the meals for the foreign crew. They all claimed to like Korean food at first, but it turned out that they preferred fusion Korean food rather than the more traditional Korean dishes you would get from a food truck on set. We prepared both Korean and Western meals, but the Korean food wasn't what they had in mind, and the Western food didn’t suit their palate. We continued to make improvements throughout the duration of the shoot, but food remained a challenge until the end. As someone who has experienced disappointing meals while filming overseas, I wanted to provide better care for them. I felt bad that it didn’t work out the way I would have liked. If they come back to shoot a second season in Korea, I have hope that we can prepare delicious meals they can thoroughly enjoy.



  ​Image provided by Netflix


 I mainly go abroad to film or oversee the filming of foreign movies and shows shot in Korea. I always have this one thought when I go overseas for work. I remember the uncomfortable and upsetting experiences I had and think, “We should provide better assistance and be kinder to foreign crews that come to Korea.” We are all they have to rely on while they’re here. Although there may be cases of people misusing that power, I believe most Koreans would not do that. Why? Because we’re Korean.



Link: http://sfceng.easymedia.co.kr/naa/na/index.asp?no=2&mode=view&IDX=713&p=1

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