Japanese director Miike Takashi and Korean actors Jung Hae-in, Ko Kyung-pyo, and Kim Hye-jun of Disney+’s latest Korean mystery thriller Connect attended a press conference in South Korea held on Friday (7 October).
Connect follows the story of Ha Dong-soo (Jung Hae-in), who has the ability to heal from any injury, no matter how serious. One day, he was kidnapped by a gang of organ harvesters, leaving him with a missing right eye. He later discovers that he can occasionally see snippets from his missing eye, which is now being used by a serial killer (Ko Kyung-pyo). Determined to get back what was taken, Dong-soo pursues the serial killer, taking whatever steps necessary to make himself whole again.
Apart from its interesting plot, Connect marks not only a Japanese-Korean collaboration, but it is also Takashi’s first Korean production. He is best known for depicting revolting scenes of extreme violence. Some of his notable works include the Japanese supernatural horror film As The Gods Will, and the Japanese sci-fi film Terra Formars.
At the start of the press conference, Takashi displayed his sense of humour, recalling his first impression when the Korean production company Studio Dragon — known for producing the acclaimed Crash Landing On You — contacted him.
“When I first received the call from Studio Dragon, I thought I was going to direct the second season of Crash Landing On You. But they said, “Oh no, it’s a different series,’ and it turned out to be Connect,” he chuckled.
Although his visit to Korea was delayed by the pandemic, Takashi was appreciative of online platforms like Zoom. In addition to bridging their distance, the digital technology also aided their communication, such as having his assistant director go to the site and show him virtually what the filming locations look like, as well as holding virtual meetings.
Initially, he was anxious whether everything would turn out well with a virtual collaboration. But he was encouraged by Jung’s words, “I am always on your side, and I will have your back. Please do everything that you wished.”
The post-production, particularly the computer graphics, was also partially done in Japan. Amidst dividing up the work and sending things digitally back and forth between the two countries, Takashi reflected that the workflow was nevertheless perfect.
Despite the apparent language barrier between the Japanese director and the Korean cast, Jung said that they were able to overcome the issue with the help of an interpreter and some body language. He could tell what kind of scenes the director wanted, and likewise, the director understood what Jung wanted to portray.
Jung also revealed that his eyesight might have deteriorated a little as he had to keep looking through one eye when wearing the eye patch. Filming action sequences with the eye patch proved to be challenging too, as it made him nauseous, on top of not being able to tell how far people are from him. But since they had a lot of rehearsals, there wasn’t any dangerous moment.
As for Ko Kyung-pyo, who has been busy with multiple projects this year, he highlighted that he had been wanting to try something new all the time and to take on various roles. Connect will see him in a vastly different role, specifically a cold-blooded, psychopathic killer.
When it comes to directing Connect, Takashi said that he didn’t follow the horror trends in the world but instead, relied on what he was interested in producing. He also hoped that the gory scenes would come across differently to the audience as there was more to it than the blood. There were other aspects to the scenes, such as sadness or the other variety of emotions.
In fact, as an audience, Takashi said that he was not a fan of gore. He remarked that he made horror films simply because he received the offers.
Takashi also praised the three actors, saying that Jung was someone who poured his heart and soul into acting. He knew that his acting would affect the atmosphere of the set, so he was always a nice guy on the set. He was also warm-hearted and open to collaborating.
On the other hand, Takashi quipped that Ko was sometimes late for filming, but he was an adorable person. He could strike a great balance between his ability to focus during acting and quickly switching back to himself when the filming ended.
Regarding Kim Hye-jun, Takashi said that she would put herself in the shoes of the character. Instead of just acting out the character, she became the character herself, providing a natural performance. She was also a bubbly person, who was good friends with the crew.
When asked about what makes Connect different from the other dramas, Kim replied that Takashi is a master of genre films, who has his own brand of style, and Connect has a very innovative theme. She believed that they could bring to the viewers something unprecedented in the history of Korean series and films.
The exact release date for Connect, which will be available exclusively on Disney+, has not been confirmed. But it will be an exciting K-drama that is worth waiting for.