Warner Bros. is set to co-finance and distribute the Kim Jee-woon directed Secret Agent as its very first Korean-language film, according to Variety. The story will take place in 1930s South Korea during its Japanese colonization period. It will star Kim’s former The Good, The Bad, The Weird actor Song Kang-ho (who also appeared in Snowpiercer), as well as Gong Yoo (The Suspect), and starts production this October in South Korea and China.
Kim is one of South Korea’s most popular and respected directors. He made his English-language film debut in 2013 with The Last Stand, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator) and Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland). He is also known for his gruesome drama I Saw The Devil (2010) and the classic Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters (2003). New Regency Pictures is currently in the process of remaking his film A Bittersweet Life, with Kim attached as screenwriter.
On top of working with the highly sought-after Kim, Warner Bros.’ decision to back Secret Agent can be owed to South Korea’s vibrant and growing film industry. They are ranked sixth in box office returns around the world, a lot of which comes from locally-produced films. 20th Century Fox was the first studio to invest in Korean cinema with Intimate Enemies, Slow Video, and additional involvement in The Yellow Sea. Other studios will likely be following suit as the demand increases and talent such as Kim come forward to helm the projects.
Harbin CEO Lee Jin-sook pitched Secret Agent to Warner Bros. when the project was at its script stage and now has the backing of the studio as well as director Kim’s Grimm Pictures moving forward.