The Korea Herald


‘Space Sweepers’ signals first blockbuster K-sci-fi flick

By Lim Jang-won

Published : Feb. 3, 2021 - 08:43

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(From left) Actors Jin Seon-kyu, Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri and Yoo Hai-jin pose before an online press conference Tuesday. (Netflix) (From left) Actors Jin Seon-kyu, Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri and Yoo Hai-jin pose before an online press conference Tuesday. (Netflix)

Anticipation for Friday’s worldwide Netflix release of the first Korean sci-fi blockbuster movie set in space, “Space Sweepers,” could be felt by the cast members and director during an online press conference and fan meeting held Tuesday.

Set in 2092, “Space Sweepers” from director Jo Sung-hee revolves around a space cleanup crew trying to sell a weapon of mass destruction: humanoid Dorothy.

“Around 10 years ago, a friend of mine told me about the trash in space. From then on, I started writing the scenario and honed the idea to make this movie,” said director Jo during the online press conference.

After a number of delays due to COVID-19, a theatrical release for “Space Sweepers” had been set for Sept. 23, but that notion was scuttled and the film eventually landed at Netflix.
Song Joong-ki poses before the “Space Sweeper” online press conference on Tuesday. (Netflix) Song Joong-ki poses before the “Space Sweeper” online press conference on Tuesday. (Netflix)

“Many days have passed since the initial date we first planned the release of ‘Space Sweepers,’” said star actor Song Joong-ki during the online press conference. Song plays the role of pilot Kim Tae-ho of cleanup crew’s spaceship Victory. “I think of it this way. The job that we do is a commercial art. The most important thing is how we communicate with the audience. From that perspective, I only had the thought of wanting to meet the audience as quickly as possible, so I really didn’t think too deeply (about the Netflix release).”

Kim Tae-ri, who plays captain Jang of Victory, was also elated at the movie finally being released.

“Of course, a part of me feels sad because I also enjoy watching in theaters. But I’m happy that we can at least meet the audience through Netflix. I want to advise people watching at home to raise the volume and watch as if in a movie theater, because it’ll make the viewing experience much better,” Kim said.

Director Jo hoped that as the Netflix platform means a simultaneous release in 190 countries, the audience will come to know that many different types of films are being made in Korea.

“Korean actors speak Korean, while spaceships fly around. I focused on the dissonance audience members might feel between the two while making the movie,” said Jo.

The significance of the movie as the first blockbuster Korean sci-fi movie set in space could be felt by the cast as well.

“When we think of sci-fi movies, we think of Hollywood movies. I think our movie does a fine job showing what a space sci-fi movie would look like if it were made in Korea. I think our movie is very Korean. I look forward to other sci-fi movies that will come out in the future,” said Kim.

Veteran actor Yoo Hai-jin, who plays the reprogrammed military robot Bubs on Victory, also felt immense pride in the movie.

“This is the first sci-fi movie, and I feel the movie came out well. I am proud to have taken part in the movie and am proud of the movie,” said Yoo Hai-jin.

However, the first attempt at a sci-fi blockbuster set in space meant challenges for both actors and staff.

Acting against a green background while imagining being in space was challenging at first for many actors, including Jin Seon-kyu and Kim, but they were able to adjust as shooting went on. It was Yoo’s first time as a robot too, and he was curious to see the final product, he said.

For Song, who had more experience with computer graphics, the fact that the movie is set in space was the challenging part.

“The acting with computer graphics wasn’t too difficult because the staff prepared a lot in advance,” said Song. “For me, it was my first time acting floating in space. I had to express zero gravity and never having had a chance to do such a thing, it was pretty difficult to do.”

“Compared to other movies, there were many things to test and prepare from the early stages. At the shoot, all the cast and staff needed imagination. Although there were difficulties, I feel everyone looked forward to the outcome and pressed on,” said director Jo.

Meanwhile, the cast of the movie also participated in a live online fan meeting with viewers around the world on Tuesday night through YouTube.

By Lim Jang-won (