“Kim Eun-hee, the writer of the series, is currently working on the new season, aiming to go into production in February, 2019. The plan is to renew the series annually,” said Kim Seong-hun, director of hit film “Tunnel.” “As director of the first season, I might have an advisory role, but will not direct it myself.” Kim was speaking at the Bucheon International Film Festival’s industry program on Sunday.
The series is set in Korea’s medieval Joseon dynasty, where a crown prince is sent on a suicide mission to investigate an outbreak caused by a zombie virus. Comprising six 50-minute episodes, the series’ first season recently entered post-production and is due to premiere in December.
“Netflix had contacted Kim [Eun-hee] first, as Netflix considers writers more important [than directors] to make original series. Then she suggested me to direct it because she wanted to make a story that she cannot do for Korean TV broadcasters,” said Kim. His “Tunnel” was a disaster flick with political metaphors and was a summer box office hit in 2016.
“Netflix gave me more freedom than any Korean company I have worked with. Netflix gave me minimal feedback on the script, and did not oblige me to incorporate their notes,” Kim said. The only condition was that the director could not control the budget.
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“Initially, ‘Kingdom’ was intended as an eight-episode series and production was supposed to be completed in four months. In the end, however, we took about six months on production and overspent the budget, for which we had to pay a penalty.” Kim said that each episode cost more than $1.78 million (KRW2 billion).
“When I first started working with Netflix, it was just making an appearance in Korea. The industry was not sure how big or influential it might be. Some even predicted that [Netflix originals] might be a storm in a teacup,” the director said. “Now that its presence [in Korea] has grown this significant, I think we shouldn’t judge rashly.”
Netflix’s first Korean series, “Love Alarm,” premiered earlier this year. The company’s previously backed Bong Joon-ho’s feature “Okja,” which premiered at Cannes in 2017.