Jung Seok-won has been cast as the lead in a new war movie called Battle of Yeonpyeong, and interestingly, his marine corps background seems to have been a major reason he got the part. Hey, Hyun Bin shouldn’t be the only one to collect good karma points for being an actor marine.
The movie is based on the 2002 naval attacks between North and South Korea on the island of Yeonpyeong which sits right at the border. It’s a disputed boundary, and the site of many an attack (The most recent was in 2010.) and the subject is reportedly popular source material for many films still in development (in particular another film based on the same incident called Beautiful Us, which was courting Hyun Bin).
This production took off with director Kim Hak-soon at the helm (He produced White Night and the documentary Daughter of Chorolque, and directed Dandelion and Rewind), and plans to be a big-budget war epic. The specific battle depicted happened on June 29, 2002, during the 2002 World Cup, hosted in South Korea and Japan. Two North Korean boats crossed the limit line into Southern waters, and when South Korean ships approached to warn them back, the Northern ships opened fire. North Korea had 13 killed and 25 wounded, and South Korea had 6 killed and 18 wounded.
Jung Seok-won will play Lieutenant Commander Yoon Young-ha, a real officer who was there at the time, and a national hero. The producers said, “Jung Seok-won is an actor who served as a marine and has lived an exemplary life, and we decided to cast him because he would portray Lieutenant Commander Yoon Young-ha best. And more importantly, he’s an actor who has received the same training in real life.”
I’m sure that it’s not a strict requirement that the actor be a navy seal in real life or anything, but obviously the casting pattern across other films covering the same subject seems to be pretty clear. The incident is contemporary, hits as close to home as it gets, and they mean to honor the officers in a way that having a real marine up on the screen as your hero elevates. It’s not necessary for a good movie to make its point, but it doesn’t hurt either. This one’s gonna be a tearjerker, isn’t it?
Battle of Yeonpyeong starts shooting in February for a 2013 release.