[Press Conference] Gong Yoo, Bae Doona, Lee Joon and more talk about The Silent Sea

One sci-fi thriller that follows a perilous 24-hour mission on the moon where space explorers try to retrieve samples from an abandoned research facility steeped in classified secrets. The Silent Sea stars Gong Yoo as Han Yun-jae, the exploration team leader who must carry out a crucial mission with limited information. Yun-jae puts the safety of his team members above all else and does not refrain from putting himself in jeopardy to do so. On the other hand, Bae Doona stars as astrobiologist Doctor Song Ji-an who joins the team, determined to uncover the truth behind an accident at the now-abandoned Balhae Base research station on the moon.

The casts, the director, the writer and the executive producer gather on December 22 for the online press conference to talk about their latest series. Hosted by Park Kyung-lim, let’s check out what happened during the press conference.

MC : The elite expedition team has just arrived here at the Balhae Station. Please welcome the cast and creators of the Netflix series, The Silent Sea. Wow, it’s so great to have you here, welcome. The K-content spacecraft that has been launched by Netflix has finally arrived on the moon. Now, the press waiting for all of you back at home, on Earth, please say hello.

Bae Doona : Hi everyone, I play the role of Song Jian, I am Bae Doona.

Gong Yoo : Hi everyone, it’s been a while. I am Gong Yoo, and I play the role of Han Yunjae in The Silent Sea. Great to be here.

Lee Joon : Hi everyone, I play the role of Ryu Taesuk, I am Lee Joon.

Kim Sun-young : Hello everyone, I play the role of Dr. Hong. I am Kim Sun-young.

Lee Mu-saeng : Hello everyone, I play the role of Gong Soohyuk. I am Lee Mu-saeng. Great to be here.

Lee Sung-wook : Hello everyone, it’s great to be here. I play the role of Kim Sun, I am Lee Sung-wook.

Choi Hang-young : Hello, I am the director of The Silent Sea, I am Choi Hang-yong.

Park Eun-kyo : Hi everyone, I am the writer of The Silent Sea. My name is Park Eun-kyo.

Jung Woo-sung : Hello everyone, I am the executive producer of The Silent Sea. I am Jung Woo-sung.

MC : Wow. It’s so great to have you all here. This elite team and top creators of The Silent Sea have visited the surface of the moon. How does it feel to be back on the moon?

Bae Doona : Well, it brings me a lot of memories. I love it. It’s bringing back a lot of memories on set. And I feel like Netflix, you’re really putting it all out there. I mean, this is such an amazing set.

Gong Yoo : I haven’t felt this low-gravity in quite some time, so I’m happy to be back on the moon, and this set is amazing here, but if you could see the set that we filmed on, it is just truly amazing and so realistic, so I really hope that you get to check it out on The Silent Sea, on the 24th.

MC : As Korea’s first sci-fi mystery thriller series, it has not only perfectly captured the huge and desolate, vast moon, but it really gives us an intuition that something intriguing, mysterious, and amazing is about to happen. Now, I want to ask you, the director, the original is based on a short film with the same title? 

Choi Hang-yong : Yes. The Silent Sea is actually based on my graduation work. When I was back in school, and immediately before graduation, I really wanted to create something that was true to my passion, something that I really wanted to create, and there were a lot of movies that depict outer space, but not something that was literally and physically on the moon. So I wanted to create a story with the backdrop being the surface of the moon, and during the research, I found out that even though the moon is the closest to us, there’s not much that has been revealed to us. And that’s how I came about creating the story, about the moon.

MC : I see. So this was a short film that you created for your graduation, and that’s how we are here today. And of course, that had to do with the very important person here, Woo-sung, you saw the short film and you were immediately mesmerized? Tell us more. 

Jung Woo-sung : Yes. When you look at the setup of a story that really makes or breaks the entire film, and this very unique setup of the story, I just fell in love. And while there are a lot of sci-fi films out there, we really didn’t think to create something like that of our own in Korea. In this very smartly created setup, I felt like we could really create something special here.

Gong Yoo

MC : Writer Park, you have been there to witness the beginning, when the first story was first conceived. Tell us a little bit more about that process.

Park Eun-kyo : I had the opportunity to take a look at the script for the short film, and when I saw that and read it, compared to other commercial films, this is a genre that is very difficult. It’s quite a challenge to take on a sci-fi film even if it’s a very large scale one. And so the fact that director Choi was wanting to do that as part of his graduation piece, it was just amazing, very ambitious. And it really spurred curiosity. And the script was so well-written that it led the readers to know more, to want to know more. And it was something that really brought about a want to take on a challenge, and I think it provided a great motivation to create something special.

MC : It’s great that you mentioned it being an element of motivation. The fact that all of this started out from a short film, and now we’re seeing it as a new Netflix series, I feel like this is definitely going to be delightfully shocking to all of the audience. Now, I feel like you definitely have a message you want to convey? 

Choi Hang-yong : Yes. With The Silent Sea becoming a Netflix series, I had hoped and believed that we could tell a bigger story. In the short film, we talk about only what happens in the station. But with it becoming a series, we were able to depict what happened on the Earth, how the other people were living. So it’s no longer just a story about the expedition team but about survival and mankind and how their lives ended up being. So, a larger story.

Bae Doona

MC : So when you first read the script, how did you feel?

Bae Doona : When I first read the script, because sci-fi and outer-space series is not that common in Korea, and I thought it was a big challenge. Prior to having seen this script, I would have been, I would have thought this was a challenge, but I did watch the short film, which The Silent Sea is based on, and after watching the short film, I thought that, you know, making a sci-fi for your thesis, for your graduation work, that wouldn’t be really easy because you don’t have that much input, you don’t have that much investment and money, you have this limited budget, and you’re using this limited budget to come up with this short film. And I think this was amazingly done. The emotional development of the cast was perfectly drawn on to the screen, so I was very surprised at the perfection of the short film. So I thought, if it is this director who made this short film, a space sci-fi created in Korea would be worth a challenge as an actor. That’s what I thought. So I wanted to take part. So I really enjoyed that short film, I was very amazed by the quality of it. The atmosphere of the short film, and the emotions of the cast were perfect, and it was something that we could believe. So that’s why I decided to take part.

Gong Yoo : Personally speaking, I wanted to do a genre drama, so it was perfect timing because that’s when I was offered the series, and when I read the script, I shouted out, “Eureka!” It felt like there’s ten exclamation marks popping in my head. In short, I would say that there was brilliant imagination, perfect setup and themes, plus the genre drama that I wanted. Plus, Jung Woo-sung, who is executive producer. I’m just joking. Yeah, I really liked it in all aspects. There was no reason to say no to it, and there’s different elements to the script, and I could imagine how this would turn out. And when I can imagine just by the script, I always said yes to that script.

Lee Joon : Even before knowing of the series, I was a big outer space fan. So I would look up documents about outer space, it was like one of my hobbies. I looked up things about outer space and I was just so surprised by this chance, there was no reason I would not want to do this, because this is going to be a fun challenge for me, so that’s why I wanted to take part.

Kim Sun-young : I heard that the executive producer is Jung Woo-sung, and that’s why I decided to take part. Yes. Whenever Jung Woo-sung executively produces something, I’m going to take part in that project.

Lee Mu-saeng : Honestly speaking, when I read the script, I felt excitement. That’s the feeling that I came across first. It was such a fresh and novel approach, and I was curious about how these scenes are going to be made into, so I really wanted to take part. And I really remember the first shoot, I was counting down for the first shoot.

Lee Sung-wook : When I first read the script, I thought it was very immersive, even from the very beginning, the very first scene. So I was totally immersed into the entire script, and I just read it really quickly. I was, of course, up for the challenge, but I also liked the character Kim Sun. I thought he had a really nice character because he is an elite crew member, but he’s not perfect. So he’s someone that I want to befriend. That’s why I wanted to take part in this project. When we had the first meeting with Woo-sung and the writer and the director, I told them that I could do a good job of this.

MC : Okay, this perfect cast line-up is something that we’re all looking forward to. And when the cast was finalized, producer Jo said that he used up all his luck on the cast for The Silent Sea. How did you feel, Jung Woo-sung, as the executive producer, when you heard that the line-up was fixed? 

Jung Woo-sung : I was also taking part in the process of having this cast. I love the brilliant imagination of the short film, the challenge that took, but when we translate that into a series, that’s a whole new approach that we have to take, that’s a whole new challenge. We have this limited budget, we have to make sure that things are portrayed well, and I thought of actors and actresses that would perfectly portray this series. You know, when you read the script, you can imagine. But it’s not really like that on the set because there’s sometimes the bluescreen and you have to act by your pure imagination and that could be a lot of pressure to the actors and actresses, and I thought about who would be a perfect fit for Jian, a perfect fit for Yunjae. And I had the first choices, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make them because when we have the cast, that’s perfect, we love it, but when we are on set, we have to make sure that the actors will realistically portray all this. And the producer also has to try his best to make sure that this is portrayed perfectly. So there was a lot of excitement and happiness, plus a little bit of fear, too. This is a series that we want a lot of people to love, but I wanted to make sure that the actors – the cast – actually love the project itself. It was really difficult for me to ask them how they thought of the final product because I’m very afraid, because I wanted to make sure that they were satisfied with the project, but the actors were all very satisfied with the product, I was very happy.

Lee Joon

MC : Through this project, all of you have met Jung Woo-sung not as an actor but as an executive producer. So how did you feel about that?

Bae Doona : I have never seen someone so diligent. He would be on set every single day, on every single shoot, and he would take care of every minor detail. I’ve never seen an executive producer who was so diligent, who took such good care of us. Because he is an actor too, well he is an executive producer with this project, but because he is a seasoned actor, he understands where we might feel uncomfortable, so he is very keen on realizing or checking on how we feel. So we were so happy shooting.

Gong Yoo : Yes, quite similar to what Doona just said, because he knows how an actor feels himself, he knows exactly how an actor would feel comfortable on set, and he would help us in that way. And as Doona just said, he was always there on set with us. I didn’t think he would be so diligent, so I could feel his passion in this project, and I could feel his affection towards all of us. You know, acting, shooting, it could be tiring, but because we had such a perfect executive producer, the presence of him was just a morale booster. So I really respect him. It was actually my first encounter with him because I haven’t worked with him together, so Jung Woo-sung was like a big celebrity to me. Because anyone of my age, especially for men, he was like an idol.

I wanted to be like him. He was like a celebrity of the celebrities. So he was just like a big star, someone I didn’t know well. But through this project, The Silent Sea, I knew of him who is not just an executive producer and a seasoned actor but he seems like a really good old friend to me. So he feels
like a brother to me, maybe we’re too close. So I have a lot of mixed feelings for him.

MC : The Silent Sea which started from a short film with the same name has gotten even bigger in scale. The incredible imagination and the tightly-knit acting, they all have created this masterpiece. And we’re together with the wonderful cast and the crew up here on stage. The one thing that we should really look into is this set itself. There’s a resource-depleted Earth, there’s a desolate Moon, and there is a spaceship that had a crash landing. And then we have the Balhae Station which is mysterious, so it’s really immersive. Director Choi, can you tell us how you created this lifelike set?

Choi Hang-yong : Yes, in order to create the moon or the Base on the moon, we needed vast-sized studios. So we used about five studios, and in total, they were like 10,000 square yards. So not only the size matters, but it was technically difficult. And when we were making the set, we wanted to make sure that it could provide an immersive environment to the cast. So, we really put a lot of thought into the texture, the weight, and everything.

Lee Mu-saeng

MC : We’re going to look deeper into each of the characters. Tell us about your character.

Bae Doona : Jian is a renowned astrobiologist. She is a very renowned scientist, so she’s asked by the Space and Aeronautics Administration to join the Balhae Station mission, and she comes on board. The other members are really fixated on the mission, but unlike the rest of the crew, she wants to uncover the truth behind an accident that happened 5 years ago, at Balhae Station.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I think a Korean sci-fi is a big challenge, and I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to take that challenge. But reading the script for The Silent Sea, I knew that this was going to be great. So I wanted to be up for the challenge. It could have the Korean sentiments, and it would give a lot of food for thought. There could be some social issues we could cover, and it could really intrigue the viewers, and trigger our imagination. So I was really up for the challenge.

Gong Yoo : Well, the character Han Yunjae is the youngest ever expedition captain of the SAA. And he is referred to by others as a legend of the administration. He is a very duty-led kind of person, who always puts his other teammates first, and he is a very stoic kind of character who does not reveal his emotions.

Well, you have to think about the former story, the history of the character. He is a former veteran, so I wanted him to have a more rugged and tough look to him, able to see how tough of a life he led through his appearance. So I got a little bit tanned, and if you look at the tattoo he has on his neck, he has an insignia of his former military unit. So it’s not so much that I tried to create a “tough” appearance, but I just wanted it to hint at the history that we don’t really see in the series, the history this character had. And in the past, I have done a lot of more romantic roles where I had very polished looks, with a little bit of curl in my hair and things like that. I wanted to get rid of all those aspects in this character this time because he is a former veteran, I had a much clean-cut hairstyle.

And at the time, because I had this new haircut, I know that fans had different opinions about that particular haircut. But I want to let the fans know, that hair was not for Gong Yoo, it was for Han Yunjae. When you see the character in The Silent Sea, you’ll understand.

Lee Joon : My character, Ryu Taesuk, is an elite head engineer, who used to serve in the Ministry of Defense. And he is very close to the character Captain Han, played by Gong Yoo. We have a very special bond. Okay, so the character Ryu Taesuk, I interpret him to be someone who has a good heart, who is diligent, but a little bit shy, too.

Well, you know, but after it’s all been done, now that I look back at it, I don’t feel like it was that challenging. I just remember all of the fun that I had on set, I don’t think that I’ve ever had this much fun on set. It was almost – because we were dancing a lot, it was like we were in a Bollywood movie.
We were really dancing all the time. Even wearing the heavy spacesuits, with even the backpacks. I mean, it’s really heavy. Unfortunately, we don’t show off any of our moves in the series. But when the cameras were not rolling, we – a lot of us, the whole team, the whole crew – we were really dancing a lot. And we had such a blast.

Kim Sun-young : I play the role of Doctor Hong, who joins the expedition team as a doctor, a genius doctor at that, someone who has that uniquely Korean sentiment. Trust me. It’s not really shown off a lot in the series, but in the script, it said there literally, that I was a genius doctor, so I’ve been holding on to that. No, I’m kidding, it’s not on the script, but yes, that’s who I am.

Yes, so I’m part of a theatrical troupe, and Woo-sung came to see one of our plays back in the day. And this was a project that I was very very passionate about. And this was when Woo-sung and I didn’t know each other at all. Of course, I had made some cameo appearances in Woo-sung’s movie, but it was very small, and we were not personally friends, but he still came to watch the play. And that was before COVID, so he took the whole theatrical troupe, treated us to a great meal, and came up to me and said, “I really wish you guys could do this in a better, higher-quality theater so that more people can see it.” And the next morning, he contacted me again and said, “I wasn’t joking when I said that over drinks last night. I am really willing to do this.” And he was actually offering financial help. It wasn’t even investment, it was not that he wanted to recoup anything from it, he gave it to us. And we earned a lot from the show.

But he really supported us a lot, and it was such a huge amount of money, too. And it’s not just about the money, but I was truly touched by his approach. He’s a true artist, and I was happy to find out that his company’s name is actually Artist Company. But I’m not joking when I say that Woo-sung was a true artist because he saw the show and he truly loved it, and he wanted the show to reach a lot bigger audience. So I have just the deepest respect for him, and I was not kidding when I said I’ll do anything that Woo-sung wants to do in terms of the production.

Lee Mu-saeng : Okay, I’m very pressured because we had some good stories before me. But let me just talk a little bit about my character. He’s the chief security officer for the crew. He is stoic, he doesn’t talk much, but he always tries his best to fulfill his missions. And he goes to the mission together with his younger brother, Gong Soochan. So he really puts his life on the line to fulfill his mission, and he always keeps his composure at all times and carries out his duty.

He is a really cool person because if it were me under these dire situations, I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my mission. So I think he’s such a wonderful, cool guy, and I wanted to make sure to portray the coolness of this person. And in order to do that, I had a lot of conversations with the director and the writer, and they really incorporated my ideas into the project, so I’m very thankful for that. And using this opportunity, I want to once again thank the director and writer. Thank you, director Choi and writer Park.

Lee Sung-wook : Yes. Kim Sun calls himself the Top Gun of the Space and Aeronautics Administration. He is the spacecraft pilot. He’s quite frank about everything, he’s quite nosy about everything too. He’s curious, nosy, and he would just blurt out whatever he feels. So I guess he kind of brightens the day with his wit and breaks the ice among the team.

Yeah, I did talk about the character, not me! He’s actually quite similar to who I am.

Lee Sung-wook

MC : So to Gong Yoo, you are finally back with a drama series. Is there a particular reason you chose The Silent Sea as your next series, and what can we look forward to?

Gong Yoo : I’ve mentioned this before, but the reason I chose to be a part of The Silent Sea is because I alwayse wanted to challenge myself to play a role in a genre series, and as a member of the audience, I like to consume content, and I’m very interested in the dystopian backdrop. So, everything kind of came together, in terms of the subject matter, the story, the backdrop, and it all felt very refreshing. And you know, I would even say that there was no particular reason not to join the production and Doona said this as well, but it really made me want to take on a new challenge. I wouldn’t say always, but I am a person who wrestles with the idea, who looks into the idea of diversity, often. And there were a lot of times where I felt like we could do better, right? But we did not have a diverse range of content from Korea, I think. We hear a lot of stories that are within the same genre, so as an actor, I always thought a lot about expanding the horizon in terms of the genres. And if I could take part in a project that could
do that, I wanted to do that. So that would be why.

MC : And what can we look forward to, in The Silent Sea from you?

Gong Yoo : Well, I think it’s going to be very different. I play a role that is different from my previous roles, and it’s a unique character, not like anything I’ve played before. I don’t want to bombard you with words, but I will leave you with this – if you watch the series, you’ll know.

Gong Yoo

MC : Now, the next question goes to the director and writer. Now, I’m sure the research process took a lot for you to create something out in space, and what was the biggest challenge in creating a series that is based on a short film? So, maybe writer Park, you can first answer the part about the script?

Park Eun-kyo : I can’t even remember when I first read the script for the short film. It’s been a long time in the making and there were so many different versions of the script along the way. So, the process of creating it into a series, because there were so many stories I wanted to tell, I wouldn’t say that that process itself was difficult. But in the process of research and investigation, the difficulty was that in Korea, in our industry in Korea, we didn’t have that much accumulated experience in this particular genre. That was the biggest challenge. And so, I had to be the trailblazer, so to speak, to experience these things for the first time as part of the Korean content industry. So it was tough, but very enjoyable.

MC : Tell us about how it was, directing a space sci-fi. Were there many challenges?

Choi Hang-yong : Yes, indeed, there were a lot of challenges. The lunar environment is completely different from that of the Earth, so I first had to organize exactly how different they are, and how I’m going to express that on the screen. For example, obviously, on the moon, we don’t have air, so the texture of light, the way that light reflects, it all had to be different. And because you don’t have wind there, we have to make sure that we don’t see any kind of wind blowing someone’s hair away, or any part of the costume being moved because of the wind. So these were some important challenges.

Lee Joon

MC : This next question is for you, Joon. So you were now part of this new series The Silent Sea, but you’ve also appeared in Bulgasal: Immortal Souls and The Red Heart. How does it feel?

Lee Joon : Well, I first want to say I’m very happy to be able to be in so many productions. And The Silent Sea was, we wrapped up The Silent Sea the earliest out of the titles that you mentioned. And at the time, I was a little bit concerned because I didn’t want the audience to think “Joon, your acting is similar in all of these works.” So that was a personal fear that I had. But I’d like to think that I played them very differently, all the roles, and I am very grateful to be in this string of wonderful productions. And I’m very grateful and very happy.

MC : Now, the next question is for you, Jung Woo-sung. So you took part as an executive producer and not as an actor. Can you tell us why? Because with a great story like that, I feel like you might have wanted to play a part as an actor yourself, so can you tell us what were some of the lessons learned as the executive producer? And what grade do you give yourself as EP?

Jung Woo-sung : Well, as an actor, you do want to be a part of something like this on the screen, too. And about seven years ago, I did explore versions of the story where I was the main lead, too. But I think that all of the different thoughts that I had in the process, it was just all necessary steps that you had to take in order to see the completed version that we see today. And if I had to play a role, you might think that I wanted to play Captain Han, but I will tell you now that I would never have been able to play the role of Captain Han the way Gong Yoo captured the character. And I truly believe that the role of Captain Han was Gong Yoo’s from the get-go. I have never imagined wanting to play that particular role as an
actor. Watching all of the production, watching the set, thinking about what do we need more and what do we need less of – I think it was just a truly learning experience and it was truly enough.

MC : What do you think is the most important trait of a producer?

Jung Woo-sung : We are talking a lot of challenges here, the word pops up all the time in this press conference. And this is something that was a challenge for all of us, it was a short film, and we had to translate that into a series, and then, it’s a new genre, a new series – so everyone was up for a challenge for this project. And I think when you are on a challenge, you might doubt yourself, but when you have chosen this challenge, we need this trust in ourselves. And I’m very thankful for the cast for having that trust in themselves and I think that is the most important thing about this project. And you said how would I grade myself as an EP? I think that could be assessed by others after The Silent Sea is released. It’s not something that I could give a score to.

Gong Yoo : Ten! Ten out of ten. I’m not joking. He is over ten out of ten.

MC : Okay, the last question is directed to all of the cast. Is going to the moon or the space on your bucket list, and if you do get to go to the moon, what do you want to bring with you? 

Lee Mu-saeng : Hmm. That’s a difficult question. Maybe a stuffed animal that I feel comfortable with. I’m scared of heights, so I need a stuffed animal to hug.

Kim Sun-young : I’ve been there already, so I don’t think I have to go again. I’ve been on the moon for six months.

Gong Yoo : Do you mean, do I go to the moon and live there, or do I come back? If I can come back to the Earth, I just want to watch the NBA games, the basketball games, so maybe a device that I can watch NBA games with. NBA games, and Netflix.

MC : So on 24th of December, The Silent Sea will be released on Netflix, and everyone is waiting for that. Can everyone say a last few words?

Bae Doona : I’ve been waiting for this for so long, the Netflix original series, The Silent Sea, will be released the day after tomorrow, on the 24th of December. I’m so excited for that and I hope you guys all tune in for that.

Gong Yoo : There has been some time for post after we were done with the shoot, so now that we’re back here at the press conference, the memories are brought back to me – the way we inspired each other, the fun we had with each other. So it’s actually quite a touching experience for me. And I can’t wait to see it. I’m so happy that it will be released for the global audience, two days from today, on the 24th of December. It is very exciting that it will be able to be watched from all across the world, so I’m very thankful for that. and I know that it was a long wait, so I think you will really enjoy it. Everyone, please tune in and I hope you can love and support our series.

Lee Joon : Yes, it’s the 24th of December. So I think that’s great timing, right? You can have a warm, heartwarming Christmas with The Silent Sea.

Kim Sun-young : It’s a teamwork that you can never see anywhere else. I’ve never been in such great teamwork, I think it’s going to be a masterpiece, so please stay tuned.

Lee Mu-saeng : I was always so excited for this series, and it’s your turn to be excited. So, it’s the 24th of December, see you on Netflix.

Lee Sung-wook : Yes, I feel pressured. I don’t know what to say. First of all, I also feel very touched because this set for the press conference reminds me of shooting for the project. I’m very excited and thanks to the viewers, maybe I started off the sentence wrong, I would just like to thank the viewers, the fans. I hope you have fun watching The Silent Sea, and hope you keep your interest and support in Korean content.

Choi Hang-yong : Yes, I have very mixed feelings. The Silent Sea was a big challenge for me. A lot of people’s passion was poured into this series, and I think the viewers and fans across the world can see how much love we put into the show, I hope you enjoy.

Park Eun-kyo : For us creators, it was a big challenge, but it was a fun challenge. And for the viewers, I think this could be something new and novel, but I’m sure it’s going to be enjoyable.

Jung Woo-sung : In Korea, we say you should eat slow and really savor the taste. I think this show is something like that. It’s something you can really savor. I hope you can just sit down and follow through the path of The Silent Sea, and for every episode, there’s an intriguing story, so I think it will be very satisfactory to all of you.

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