Today I joined the set of a Korean film as a movie extra. The movie, now in production and tentatively entitled "Korean Peninsula," is scheduled for Korean theatrical release in Spring 2006. Directed by Kang Je-gye, one of Korean’s most popular directors, the movie is the highly anticipated follow-up to "Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War" (2004) and "Shiri" (1999), two other films directed by Kang. "Korean Peninsula" will chronicle Korean history from the Japanese Colonial Period to the present. I do not know what the plot is or who will star in the film. Kang’s last film, "Taegukgi," received international acclaim and was shown in limited release last year in the United States (the word "Taegukgi" is the name of the flag of the Republic of Korea). I saw "Taegukgi" last August with my wife while we were in the Washington, D.C. In my opinion, "Taegukgi" is one of the best war films of all time. Very graphic, it is a poignant portrayal of the Korean War and the tragedies that befell the Korean people in the 1950’s. I am really looking forward to the release of "Korean Peninsula." Not only was it my big screen debut, but I anticipate that it will be an excellent film. If you’re in the United States, watch for "Korean Peninsula" in limited release there next summer. You might just see me if you watch the film.
I was an extra in just one scene. If the scene isn’t delete in the final cut, I will likely appear briefly in the movie. It is set in the Press Room of the U.S. Department of State, where the State Department spokesperson announces that the United States will not participate in the ceremony reopening the rail line between North and South Korea. I portrayed a reporter listening to the spokesperson make the announcement. I’m in the second row with a group of reporters. My role merely consisted of talking to the reporter next to me, watching the spokesperson enter the room, and typing on my laptop as the spokesperson speak. I don’t have any lines in the movie, but I did try to act like a reporter listening intently to the spokesperson. The scene was similar to when I was in the actual Press Room last year; I even sat in the same place when I listened to former Department of State Spokesman Richard Boucher address our group. I noticed several differences between the simulated Press Room and the real Press Room. As with most movies, the set did not quite reflect reality, and the spokesperson did not follow established protocol. You can’t too much from a movie portrayal.
How did I land this role? My wife heard about the opportunity and suggested that I give it a try. I responded to the casting call and was accepted as a movie extra. I thought it would be a great way to experience Korean film, a very important aspect of Korean culture. I was right; it was a great experience. GINA Entertainment put out the casting call and arranged extras for the scene. There were about 70 of us, and I was fortunate to be one of the primary extras in the scene. I posted some photos of the day’s events in a photo album. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take photos on the set, so the photos show the waiting period before the scene took place. We gathered at 6 a.m. this morning and arrived on the set at about 7:30 a.m. At 9 a.m. we went in for our first cut, and then at 11 a.m. we went in for the final cut. Cameras shot footage from all angles to frame the scene. By 1:30 p.m., we were finished and headed home. We actually worked for about half an hour–not bad for a day’s work. I did not see any famous Korean actors on the set, but I saw Mr. Kang, the director. Known as the "Korean Steven Spielberg," he controlled the scene like conductor leads an orchestra. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him and his crew work.
I hope I can do this again in the future. It wasn’t my big break in show business, but it was fun to do a cameo. I haven’t had such fun on the set of a media production since my wife and I were in the audience of "Late Night with David Letterman" when we visited New York City in 1998. If you have a chance to work as a movie extra, I highly recommend it. You wait around a lot, but it’s usually worth the wait.