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SECRETLY GREATLY's Hidden Story

by JANG Sung-ran   05.24.2013
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Greatness of Mise-en-scene Expressed on Screen
 
 
Film fans are expectantly waiting for Secretly Greatly, which is going to be released on June 5th. During its almost five months shooting, many things might have happened at filming locations. Take a look to see what was behind the ‘secret and great’ mission to make the film.
 
“Form a North Korean top elite spy team”


Secretly Greatly is a film about North Korean elite spies selected through a competition of 1 in 20,000 hiding in a poor village. The film crew definitely had to search for appropriate actors and make them look like perfect agents. The first thing they needed to be good at was action. For that reason, the producer went to met the stunt coordinator PARK Jung-ryul and showed him two volumes of a webtoon based comic book. It is because the producer thought he was the right person for the film considering that he opened a new chapter of Korean action with the stylish action in The Man From Nowhere.

PARK is basically against action without emotions, so he decided to join when he learned that the film embraces a warm drama of elite spies mixing themselves in a poor village. He talked a lot with staff including director JANG Cheol-soo and actors to find the right action style for each. PARK guided each of the three leading actors to his own style of action under the principle that the simplest and quickest action creates the most critical damage to the opponent. Finally, they transformed into ‘revolutionary warriors of DPRK born as wild dogs and raised as monsters’.


‘Dong-gu’, a silly boy wandering around a corner store of the village yet who actually is the top elite agent of North Korean Unit 5446 ‘Ryu-hwan’ (KIM Soo-hyun) uses bare hands to beat his opponents quietly and quickly. ‘Hae-rang’ (PARK Ki-woong), a would-be rocker and free spirit, uses any sort of weapons at will from a brick to a lethal tool. ‘Hae-jin’ (LEE Hyun-woo) is relatively small, so light and quick moves are suitable for him. This action film with KIM, PARK and LEE is expected to fascinate audiences with its own style different from that of The Man From Nowhere.

Since it’s a story about spies from North Korea, they needed to get correct information about language (accent and tone), classes and costumes of North Korea. A North Korean defector who advised for The Berlin File and The Front Line gave them a hand once again. As an ex-soldier in North Korea, he taught them about every detail about the North Korean military such as the picture frames at the offices of top brass and distinctive insignias, not to mention accents and costumes. The actors didn’t naively stick to North Korean accents. Because they were to act as spies who were trained to speak with South Korean accents and in fact spent years in South Korea, they spoke in South Korean accents with very slight North Korean accents to maximize authenticity.
 
 
“Create the perfect space for spies”


The poor village is where the story begins and ends. The crew made a lot of effort to find the best location. They scanned about 60 places all over the nation for four months to look for a poor village that has a drama simply with the way it looks. Finally, Sipjeon-dong, Incheon was picked. About to be redeveloped, the village has narrow alleys and small houses nestled with each other, which instantly reminds viewers of the village in the webtoon.

Director JANG said, “A poor village is probably the only place with warmth in a city. I wanted to contrast the warmth to the coldness of the city.” The art team led by KIM Jong-woo, the art director, made the space even more dramatic by building four additional houses. The key places like the play ground where the spies often get together, the corner store which is the strategic point for achieving their mission and their neighboring buildings were also created by the art team. The filming set looked so natural that it looked as though it had always been there. The village looked warm and humane during the day and was full of tight tension at night. The drill site of Unite 5446, where Ryu-hwan and Hae-rang are trained, was built from scratch on a closed fish farm.


Even the highly skilled and committed staff couldn’t stand against the force of nature. The shooting for Secretly Greatly was conducted from October last year to March of this year, so they had to fight the cold and snow. The exceptional amount of snow last year gave the staff a hard time as they had to constantly clear it up. Before filming the whole view of the village, they had to clear the snow on top of tens of houses.

Although the process of making Secretly Greatly was as cold as the weather, the passion of the actors and the staff was hot. Their hardship was fruitful. The teaser trailer was viewed by 630,000 people on the first day it was released and the film’s photos and film clips are ranked at the top among soon to be released films. This demonstrates how high the expectations of film fans are. The mise-en-scene of the film made after overcoming the severe cold and violent weather will prove its value on screen.
 
 
 
 
 

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