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Netflix’s ‘Black Knight’ depicts post-apocalyptic Seoul in 2071

Netflix’s ‘Black Knight’ depicts post-apocalyptic Seoul in 2071

Posted May. 11, 2023 07:41,   

Updated May. 11, 2023 07:41


In 2071, Seoul was desolated by the collision with an asteroid. Han River is covered with desert sand, and Namsan Seoul Tower has been broken into two pieces. People cannot live without masks because of severe air pollution. Those who managed to survive the asteroid collision are rationed to oxygen based on their status in the hierarchy. Chunmyung, a giant business monopoly, controls the distribution and allocation of oxygen. The protagonist, only referred to as numeric code “5-8,” portrayed by actor Kim Woo-bin, is a legendary deliveryman working for Chunmyung. He delivers oxygen and daily necessities during the day, turns into a “black knight” at night, and fights to make the world fair and just.

Based on the namesake webtoon by Lee Yun-kyun, the Netflix original series “Black Knight” is set to be released globally on Friday. “I loved the post-apocalyptic world portrayed by the original webtoon,” said Director Cho Eui-seok in a press conference held in Seoul on Wednesday. “It was ingenious that a deliveryman delivers oxygen and daily necessities.”

“Not too long ago, we all wore masks. I thought there is every chance that this would become a reality,” said actor Kim Woo-bin. “I thought of the hardships of refugees and imagined a world where everyone would be happy.”

With a production cost of 25 billion won, computer graphics technology was used to vividly recreate the devested parts of Seoul, including Han River Bridge, Gangnamdaero, and Lotte World Tower. West World, a visual effects studio that worked on “Sweet Home” and “Squid Game,” worked on CG features. Around 180 artists worked for more than 10 months. “It would feel very unfamiliar and strange if you watch Seoul, which we are all familiar with, recreated by CG,” said actor Song Seung-heon starring Chunmyung’s heir, Ryu Seok, the anti-hero who fights against 5-8.

There are many other interesting details. A selected few in the world where oxygen is rare live in the “Core Zone,” where they can breathe freely and even trees grow, whereas people in the lower rankings live in cuboid-shaped container boxes and are rationed to oxygen and daily necessities. Refugees, who are the lowest in status, subsist on whatever they can get, either as day laborers or hunters. People’s status is proved by the QR code tattooed on their bodies.

Some critics say that “Black Knight” shows a semblance of the Hollywood movie “Mad Max.” However, Director Cho said “Black Knight” has a different tone compared to Mad Max in that the main character dreams of a utopia even though his reality is dystopian. “I hope that my wish for a happier world could get across to the viewers,” said Cho.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com