Hallyu fans were sent into a tizzy when Korean actors So Ji-sub, Song Joong-ki, and Hwang Jung-min, together with director Ryoo Seung Wan, were in town yesterday to promote their latest war action movie The Battleship Island.

The Battleship Island is based on true events which happened during the Japanese occupation of Korea in 1945, and the real island is Hashima, an uninhabited island 15 km from Nagasaki, Japan.

The movie features Hwang as a bandmaster at a hotel in Gyeongseong (what Seoul used to be called), who is sent to the Hashima labour camp with his only daughter. S0 plays the part of a coarse man who is said to be the best street fighter in Gyeongseong. Song plays a Korean independence guerrilla fighter who infiltrates the island to rescue a comrade.

The three male stars dutifully fielded questions at a one-hour closed-door press conference well-attended by members of the media, who were firmly told that questions unrelated to the movie were off-limits. (i.e. We couldn’t ask 101 kaypoh questions about their personal lives. Aww!!)

Director Ryoo Seung-wan addresses the audience during The Battleship Island press conference.

Director Ryoo Seung-wan addresses the audience during The Battleship Island press conference.

The press conference started on a note so solemn, a friend joked that they looked like they had had soju for breakfast. Thankfully, they later lightened up, with Song even bursting into giggles at intervals. We bring you the best of their responses* here.

Q: In the movie, we see Mr Hwang Jung-min as a man of many talents. He plays the clarinet, he dances, he sings, and he spoke beautiful Japanese. How did he prepare to play the character in the movie?

Hwang as Lee Kang-ok, a bandmaster who plays the clarinet, and Kim Su-an as his daughter So-hee. (Credit: GVP)

Hwang as Lee Kang-ok, a bandmaster who plays the clarinet, and Kim Su-an as his daughter So-hee. (Credit: GVP)

A: I have been playing the clarinet for years, even before I was cast in this movie. As for the Japanese language, I memorised (my lines) without question.

Q: How did Mr Song Joong-ki feel about reprising the role of a solider, seeing that your part as a soldier in Descendants Of The Sun charmed audiences around the world?

Song Joong-ki at The Battleship Island press conference.

Song Joong-ki at The Battleship Island press conference.

A: If you count the number of years I’ve served national service in Korea as well as playing the role of soldier in Descendants Of The Sun and in The Battleship Island, I’ve been living the life of a soldier for about five years now. It has become something natural to me. It’s grown on me. I had short hair after serving national service so I could immerse myself comfortably into the role.

Q: A most memorable scene for me (host Chen Liyi) is Mr So Ji-sub’s fight scene at the public bath. He really bared his all, with almost nothing on except his underwear. What was the preparation needed for that scene?

So Ji-sub shows his fans some love at The Battleship Island press conference.

So Ji-sub shows his fans some love at The Battleship Island press conference.

A: It really took me a lot of training and preparation time to film that scene. And because it was the very first action scene of the movie, so a lot of emphasis was placed on re-enacting the fight. He spent a lot of time with the director working on this scene.

Q: Were there a lot of NGs in the course of filming?

A: No, not in particular.

Q (to director Ryoo): The film ends with So-hee (Hwang’s character’s daughter) looking into the camera. Is there any intended meaning behind this ending?

A: The scene makes a transition from being in colour to black-and-white. This signifies the past and the present, and the future even. The girl who survived the atrocities on the island, and escaped, eventually, she signifies our history, our past, and at the same time, she also directs us to our future… As she stares into the audience, into the camera, I really wanted her eyes to meet those of the audience, because I wanted the audience to put themselves into the shoes of the character, and think of where she should be going in future.

Q: Out of the four of you, who has the best survival skills?

Song Joong-ki, Hwang Jung-min, Ryoo Seung-wan, and So Ji-sub.

Song Joong-ki, Hwang Jung-min, Ryoo Seung-wan, and So Ji-sub.

So Ji-sub: I feel that Song Joong-ki has the best survival skills, probably because he’s the youngest, and only recently served his national service. So the memory of the skills and the training he picked up are still fresh in his mind.

Song Joong-ki: I agree.

Hwang Jung-min: An aggressive movement can cause pain in the rest of us.

Hwang Jung-min at The Battleship Island press conference.

The cheeky Hwang Jung-min at The Battleship Island press conference.

Q (to Song): Would you consider working with your fiancée, Song Hye-kyo, on future productions? Will you be inviting your co-stars and the director to your wedding?

A: Yes, I will certainly invite them to my wedding and would be honoured if they will come. As for working with Song Hye-kyo in future works, that’s something I have to give a little more thought to because I feel that it will be challenging, as work is work. So it may be a little tough to work on the same production.

Q: Given that this is the first time the three of you are working together, could each of you share what you find most charming about your two other co-stars?

Hmm, only So Ji-sub is wearing socks.

Hwang: Are you asking a man to feel charmed by another man? (laughs teasingly) Is this right? Haha just kidding. So Ji-sub’s actual character is very gentle, so that makes me feel that he’s someone who’s responsible and reliable. Whereas for Song Joong-ki, he’s very considerate. As I worked on the set with him, I felt that his parents have raised him really well, because he’s very well-mannered and very considerate.

So: I find one of the most charming things about Mr Song Joong-ki is his looks, which can charm both men and women. As for Mr Hwang Jung-min, he exudes great leadership. He is a very big person, in his capacity as a human and as an actor.

Song: I feel that Mr Hwang has this immense level of concentration when he’s acting. That’s something I really felt as a junior actor and want to learn from him. For Mr So Ji-sub, he has a very concrete, solid character, and a lot of depth to his character. He doesn’t talk much, so instead of saying a thousand words, he shows (what he means) with actions. I really look up to him in that aspect, and as I reach his age, I would aspire to be someone like that, someone with a very solid character.

(*Questions have been paraphrased. While the original answers were in Korean, published here are the English translations rewritten in the first person.)

The Battleship Island sneaks into Golden Village cinemas from August 11 to 13 and officially opens on August 17.

Sources: Wikipedia, Golden Village Pictures