[Interview] Lee Byung-hun and Kim Nam-gil Talked About Emergency Declaration, Leaves Messages to Fans

If an aircraft faces a potential disaster, and the pilot determines that normal flight can no longer be maintained, an ‘Emergency Declaration’ is issued to call for an unconditional landing.

Emergency Declaration is a realistic airline disaster movie about a plane that faces a never-before-experienced crisis situation, leading the pilot to call for an unconditional emergency landing.

We got a chance to interview Lee Byung-hun and Kim Nam-gil, the stars in Emergency Declaration. Check them out below.

Q: Why did you choose this film?

Lee Byung-hun: This is my first time working with director Han Jae-rim. I’ve always wanted to work with him when I watched his previous films. When I received the script and read it, it was so tense and exciting that I read it all at once. Just because it is a disaster film, doesn’t mean it simply has spectacular visual effects. Like what Song Kang-ho mentioned, the story talks about and makes you think about humanity.

Kim Nam-gil: This is also my first time working with director Han Jae-rim. There were actually a few times we almost got to work together. He was working on the storyboard and I met him by coincidence at the studio. So I said, “Is there a role for me? I’d love to be in the film, even if it’s a minor role.” In some ways, the reality we’re in now is even more similar to a disaster, having gone through it and we’re all in the midst of overcoming, so I was curious how the disaster would be portrayed. Also, it felt like this film would be able to provide some comfort so I decided to choose this film.

Q: Please introduce your character and what your focus was when acting.

Lee Byung-hun: Basically, Jae-hyuk has a really serious fear of airplanes. It’s so serious that he has to continuously take medication. He had no choice but to board the plane together with his daughter to seek treatment for her. Even in normal circumstances, he already requires medication and when the emergency starts in the plane, he tries his best to overcome his own fears, and think of what he could do in that situation. That is what I felt was the most important for this character.

Kim Nam-gil: Me? I was the first officer. While in the plane, Lee Byung-hun was having wild thoughts and looking nervous…

Q: So you were the one watching him.

Kim Nam-gil: Yes, I was the one watching him. I focused a lot on the bromance between my character and Lee Byung-hun.

Q: You act as the first officer in the film. What did you find difficult or paid extra attention to when acting in this occupation?

Kim Nam-gil: The character has a very strong sense of responsibility. Lee Byung-hun mentioned this earlier as well, the cockpit which we were acting in is, in some ways, a very lonely space. We were responsible for the lives of all those passengers and had to lead them to safety so I tried my best to act with authenticity, like it was a documentary. Also, along with Lee Byung-hun, we went into the simulator and also studied a lot but it isn’t something we can easily get access to. For example, a lot of the situations aren’t something we experience in life and yet we must look like we are familiar with it, so that was difficult as well. For the simulator, I had to try landing the plane, and every time it showed that all the passengers died. So I tried hard to act naturally despite that.

Q: What was the toughest or most difficult point, having to act in a small space, like in the airplane, or on a serious topic, like a disaster?

Lee Byung-hun: The pandemic started not long after we started filming. The airplane was really narrow for close to 100 actors and staff to fit into. And we had to be masked, even though the actors would remove our masks before filming started. So we were all worried, even though all of us had to be tested before filming started. But as confirmed cases started appearing, we had to hurry up with filming while continuing to be worried. When we used a machine to move the plane, everyone had to be really careful. An accident could happen if someone didn’t put on their belt properly. Even the cameraman, who had to stand while filming, had to be tied to somewhere like a pillar before he could be spun around. So I think we were all very worried that an accident might happen. That was what we paid the most attention to.

Q: Please say something to your fans who are looking forward to the movie.

Lee Byung-hun: Right from the start of the film, till the end of it, you’ll probably continuously experience a lot of strong emotions, be it tension or feeling touched. Anyone who watches this film will definitely be thinking how they would react in that situation. That’s the kind of film this is and I hope many people will look forward to the film.

Kim Nam-gil: “Emergency Declaration” is Korea’s first aviation disaster film and I think that itself makes it worth watching. The scale and technology used, makes me feel that our industry has really made a lot of developments. How people come to accept this disaster, how they react and respond to it, there’s no right answer and it differs from person to person, but the film explores how people sacrifice themselves for the community and face the disaster with intelligence. I hope you’ll look forward to the film. Thank you.

That’s the end of our interview. Don’t forget to check out “Emergency Declaration” premieres Monday 23 January, 10pm on tvN Movies (Astro CH416 & Astro GO | unifi TV CH201 & unifi playTV | Tonton).


Veteran chief police detective In-ho receives a tip about a man threatening a terrorist attack against a plane. While investigating, he discovers that the suspect has actually boarded flight no. KI501.

Despite his phobia of flying, Jae-hyuk decides to go to Hawaii for the sake of his daughter’s health. At the airport, he is distracted by a strange man who hangs around, speaking to them in a menacing way.

Flight no. KI501 departs Incheon Airport for Hawaii, but soon afterwards a man dies for mysterious reasons. Fear and chaos spread quickly, not only inside the plane, but also on land.

Hearing this news, Transport Minister Sook-hee sets up a counterterrorism task force and calls an emergency meeting in order to find a way to land the airplane.

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