“Hellbound” won the hearts of global viewers with its stellar cast of seasoned Korean stars and its universal themes that address life and death, crime and punishment, and justice in the world we live in. The series focuses on supernatural events caused by otherworldly beings who issue decrees condemning individuals to hell, bringing mayhem and enabling the rise of a new religious group called The New Truth.
Director Yeon Sang-ho has added another global phenomenon to his roster as the series has recorded a whopping 43.48 million hours watched 3 days after its release. It has also landed in the Top 10 list in 71 countries, including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Jamaica, India, US, France, and Germany.
Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients that went into bringing this supernatural series to life:
1. Yoo Ah-in filmed a 2-page script in its entirety in one take.
Yoo Ah-in, who leaves a strong impression with every character he undertakes, plays Jung Jinsu, the Chairman of The New Truth, an up-and-coming religious organisation that comes into power amidst the panic befalling society. Yoo chisels into perfection the unique and eccentric qualities of a charismatic leader and an unreadable mystic.
Director Yeon also developed the character of Jung Jin-su with Yoo in mind as he had great confidence in his ability to become one with the character. He had lengthy discussions with Yoo in refining the character and his traits in order to create someone powerful enough to shake people’s beliefs.
2. The content for Episodes 4, 5, and 6 was developed before any other material in “Hellbound”.
While Jung Jin-su (Yoo Ah-in) and Min Hye-jin (Kim Hyun-joo) embodied the conflicts in a society befallen with supernatural calamities, Episode 4 introduces a turning point in the plot with Bae Young-jae (Park Jeong-min) and Song So-hyun (Won Jin-a), a couple struggling in the troubled world, holding on to what is important to them.
Director Yeon shares that the character of Bae Young-jae is the most connected to the audience as the story is navigated through his eyes as a documentary producer who investigates The New Truth.
3. The TV and internet broadcasting scenes in “Hellbound” were filmed with video cameras and mobile phones.
In order to create an authentic supernatural experience, the filming crew wanted to create an atmosphere that appeared as realistic as possible. With the impossible task of turning inconceivable events into something that could occur in real life, realism was added through mobile phone footage for scenes of the otherworldly beings captured by onlookers, and using actual press photography cameras for on-screen news coverage of hellbound demonstrations.
No shortcuts were taken, almost in the literal sense; the actors’ vivid portrayals of their characters’ angst in facing anomalous situations were filmed in long, uninterrupted takes. On top of that, backlighting and dimmed lights helped to put the finishing touches on the stark tone of the series.
4. The executors appear as a trio for a reason: one is not threatening enough, two is insufficiently so, and more than three is too big a group.
If the images of angels and demons as we know them were based on something we actually saw and imagined, what would they look like? The masterminds behind the series drew inspiration from paintings by numerous artists in history and filtered that through the imagination of artist Choi Gyu-seok.
Director Yeon wanted people to feel extreme terror when looking at these Executors. Therefore, the Executors would come in teams of three to mimic a group of people hunting down one individual.
5. The city of Jinyang where the murderer of detective Jin Kyung-hun’s wife was caught was the same city as in the director’s previous film “Train to Busan” where the zombie virus had first appeared.
Catch the darkness in “Hellbound”, now streaming on Netflix.