A letter from a state penitentiary arrives, addressed to a veteran detective. The sender, a convicted murderer, boasts of the details of unknown murder cases for which he claims responsibility.
And down the rabbit hole goes the determined detective, filtering through the pebbles of truth and lies the criminal has littered in front of him.
Upcoming crime thriller “Dark Figure of Crime,” directed by Kim Tae-kyun, is based on the incredulous but true story from 2010. The murderer, who had already been serving 15 years for homicide, lured in a detective with the promise of solving murder cases that had not seen the light of the day until then.
“Dark Figure of Crime” (Showbox)
A dark, or hidden, figure of crime is a term used to describe an unreported or undiscovered crime.
“What caught my attention was that the scenario is based on a real-life story. Instead of the (theatrical) exaggeration that is typical of the (thriller) genre, the story is dense and grounded in reality, while being unique at the same time,” said Kim Yoon-seok, who plays the detective Kim Hyung-min who gets hooked in by the murderer’s confession.
At a press conference Tuesday, the cast and the producers emphasized that the basis in brutal reality is what differentiates the film from other mystery or thriller flicks. In order to do that, they attempted to make it as authentic as possible.
The entire movie was shot in Busan, where the actual event took place, and the crew visited many of the crime sites to make it look more “like a documentary.”
“I came across the story around the fall of 2012,” said director Kim, referring to a TV documentary that told of the story.
“I met the detective, his informants -- some of whom were doing illegal business -- and tried to figure out who he was, and what kind of person the murderer was. I wrote the story based on that.”
The upcoming movie is the first crime flick for Kim, whose previous works include family drama “Twinkle Twinkle Pitter Patter,” but joining him as co-writer and producer is veteran director Kwak Kyung-taek. Kwak is best known for 2001 hit crime film “Friends,” which depicted the life, friendship and tragedy of gang members based in his hometown Busan.
He was also the one who gave Busan dialect lessons to Joo Ji-hoon, who plays the role of the murderer Kang Tae-oh, and who is not from Busan, unlike his co-star Kim.
“The Busan dialect was completely foreign to me. ... For months before the shoot, I took daily lessons from Kwak, and additional hours of practice during the shoot,” Joo said.
In addition to sounding the part, he made sure to look the part, shedding all makeup and shaving his head.
“He (Kang) is the ultimate bad guy. He is unsympathetic, does not have a sense of righteousness, and the only thing that he works for is his own self-interest. ... He has no regret or urge to reflect upon himself,” Joo said on how he built his character.
Standing on the opposite end of that spectrum is Kim Yoon-seok’s detective, who he described as “the most ideal detective character that he ever played.” The veteran actor has played some iconic and charismatic characters in his tenure -- most recently a corrupt high-ranking police official in “1987: When the Day Comes” -- but what stands out in his newest role is his heart.
“I loved the way he approached the case. He doesn’t focus on the criminal -- which is unnecessary as he is already behind the bars -- but on the victims. I think that should be the ultimate goal for detectives,” said Kim.
“Dark Figure of Crime” opens in local theaters in October.
By Yoon Min-sik