Get ready for Space Sweepers, Korea’s first space opera

WHAT happens when you put together a gang of misfits and have them scavenge for space junk? The first space opera of South Korea, that’s what.

Space Sweepers, which drops on February 5 on Netflix, tells the story of said misfits who stumble upon a robot disguised as a little girl who they initially decide to kidnap to get a big ransom but the little girl’s secrets leads them to save the world instead. The film is set in the year 2092.

Written and directed by Jo Sung-hee, the film was conceived in 2009 after he heard stories about space junk and space sweepers from a friend.

“Back then, the storyline was a little different from how it turned out in the final product. I was really surprised by how fresh the idea was,” Song Joong-ki, who plays the spaceship pilot Tae-ho, said in an online press conference on February 2.

Mr. Song previously worked with Mr. Jo on the 2012 film Werewolf Boy.

Mr. Song is joined by actress Kim Tae-ri, who plays Captain Jang, the leader of the ragtag band; Jin Seon-kyu as crew member Tiger Park; and Yoo Hae-jin as the robot Bubs. English actor Richard Armitage plays the villain Sullivan in the film.

“At the first meeting, Jo (the director) told me about his vision and what he pictured the film would be. Seeing how much passion he had, I immediately trusted him,” Ms. Kim, said when asked about what made her agree to do the film.

As the director of what is largely considered as South Korea’s first sci-fi blockbuster, Mr. Jo admitted that the pre-production was difficult as they had to prepare a lot of things but the main challenge was how to have the actors act while imagining the scenes since much of the film is computer graphics.

“On the set when we were shooting the actual scenes, it really required a great deal of imagination from all of us. There were definitely challenges, however there was also a lot of excitement about what this was going to look like on screen, so that really drove us,” Mr. Jo said during the press conference.

The same is true for Mr. Yoo, who plays the robot Bubs, as he admitted that playing the character challenged the 51-year-old actor.

“At first, I thought I’ll get to the set and be able to do what I always do, but it was quite challenging…I had all types of sensors attached to my body and had to wear tights. But overall, it was a fun new experience,” he said.

Mr. Jin, who plays Tiger Park, also admitted that filming took some getting used to as it requires them to use their imagination.

“But going through the whole process, I actually saw outer space with my eyes on the screen,” he said.

Space Sweepers drops on Netflix on February 5. — Zsarlene B. Chua

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