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Interview with ‘Hellbound’ Director Yeon Sang-ho

Posted November. 26, 2021 07:37,   

Updated November. 26, 2021 07:37


“We never thought it would satisfy the public in general. Our hope was to entertain at least some group of viewers who particularly enjoy this genre; we are amazed at how many people have watched our show.”

Director Yeon Sang-ho (43·pictured) has become a global star thanks to his latest Netflix hit “Hellbound.” “I woke up in the morning and was told that it topped the list on Netflix, so I was flabbergasted,” Yeon said during a video interview on Thursday, speaking about how surprised he was at the show’s overnight sensation on one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world.

According to FlixPatrol, an OTT content ranking site, “Hellbound” was ranked No. 1 on Netflix’ TV Show category as of Wednesday. It was ranked the first on Saturday when it was premiered, and it has been keeping its top status since it briefly came down to the second place on Sunday. Dubbed as “the successor of Squid Game,” Hellbound has recorded the fastest pace to reach the top for a Korean drama on Netflix.

“I believe that the trust our dramas and films have accumulated over in the global market over the past years has exploded,” said Director Yeon about the phenomenal popularity of Korean contents.

“I love this Korean word meaning the rupture of a dike,” he said. “Our contents have left cracks on the dike of global market over the past decade or so. Cracks have accumulated, and now the dike has collapsed.”

Critics say “Hellbound” has successfully struck the balance between the fun unique to its genre and philosophical profundity. “I ruminated over how I can reenact the balance I experienced from the Japanese comics “The 20th Century Boy,” which I really enjoyed reading in college, and that was the inception of Hellbound,” the director added.

The gist of the plot is where a person is notified of when they are going to hell by an angel before a group of grim reapers show up to them to demonstrate the pain one is bound to undergo in hell in real life. Viewers are almost forced to binge-watch the show to the end to quench their curiosity, but many of them expressed complaints about lack of explanations about the reason behind the notification to hell and atrocious demonstrations by the death angels. “Hellbound is a cosmic horror drama that aims to touch upon the fear of a human that they feel when faced with a massive, surreal cosmic terror,” Director Yeon explained. “The crux of the genre is to leave the mystery as is while focusing on the detailed description of humans who are faced with it

Expectations are high on the show’s sequels. The addition of a new scene in the end, which was not found in the original webtoon created by Director Yeon and Cartoonist Choi Gyu-seok, is another factor that cranks up the excitement. “I think the remaining stories will be unveiled in the form of cartoons first in the latter half of the next year,” Yeon said, adding “a drama adaptation” has yet to be discussed. Yeon is currently filming a Sci-fi movie called “Jeong Yi,” a Netflix original starring actresses Kang Soo-yeon and Kim Hyeon-joo.

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com