The Life List: 5 things to know about South Korean blockbuster Space Sweepers

Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri and Jin Seon-kyu in Space Sweepers. PHOTO: NETFLIX

SINGAPORE - Space Sweepers, said to be South Korea's first space blockbuster, was due for a summer release in cinemas last year but it was delayed due to Covid-19.

You can now catch it on Netflix from Friday (Feb 5) instead.

Set in the year 2092, the movie stars Song Joong-ki (drama series Descendants Of The Sun, 2016) and Kim Tae-ri (The Handmaiden, 2016), who play crew members of Victory, a spaceship that scavenges for space junk. The crew stumble on a robot disguised as a little girl and unearth secrets that can save the world.

Along with director and co-writer Jo Sung-hee, the cast held an online press conference on Tuesday (Feb 2).

Here are five things to know about the film.

1. The idea for the film was conceived more than a decade ago

The premise came to director Jo back in 2009, even before he scored his first commercial hit with A Werewolf Boy, which also starred Song, in 2012.

The 42-year-old says he had heard stories about space junk and space sweepers from a friend.

2. Song and Kim were won over by the film's premise

Even before reading the full script, Song, 35, had agreed to star in the film. He heard about the story idea when he was working with Jo on A Werewolf Boy.

"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," he says.

Kim, who stars as Captain Jang, the charismatic and level-headed leader of the ragtag crew, was also sold by the story.

"At the first meeting, Jo told me about his vision and what he pictured the film would be. Seeing how much passion he had, I immediately trusted him," the 30-year-old actress adds.

3. This is Song's first movie since his divorce

Jin Seon-kyu, Yoo Hai-jin and Song Joong-ki in Space Sweepers. PHOTO: NETFLIX

While he did not give details, Song hinted that he was feeling down when filming started in 2019.

He and actress Song Hye-kyo, who started dating after starring in Descendants Of The Sun, divorced in 2019 after less than two years of marriage.

Song describes his character Tae-Ho - the spaceship's pilot whose life spirals downhill after being kicked out of the Special Force Squad - as being "devastated" and having "lost all hope in his life".

"I think I was in a similar state as Tae-ho when I started shooting the movie," he adds.

4. The robot role was challenging

While motion capture is a technology widely used in Hollywood films, it is not as common in South Korean productions.

And Space Sweepers is the first to use it for a robot character, played by Yoo Hai-jin (Luck Key, 2016).

The role was a challenge for him, admits Yoo, who is known as one of the country's top supporting actors.

"At first, I thought I'll get to the set and be able to do what I always do, but it was quite challenging," says the 51-year-old.

""I had all types of sensors attached to my body and had to wear tights. But overall, it was a fun new experience."

5. English actor Richard Armitage plays the villain

Jin Seon-kyu, Kim Tae-ri, Song Joong-ki and Yoo Hai-jin in Space Sweepers PHOTO: NETFLIX

Best known for his role in The Hobbit trilogy (2012 to 2014), the 49-year-old stars in his first South Korean movie.

In a pre-recorded video message shown at the press conference, he said: "Thank you for inviting me to play Sullivan, for bringing me to Korea, a place across the other side of the world... and introducing me to a new country and all of the sights and the culture, but most importantly for including me in a film which I think the Korean film industry is going to be extremely proud of."

• Space Sweepers is available on Netflix from Friday (Feb 5).

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