On a cold winter day in January, director Kwak Jung-hwan of KBS TV series "The Slave Hunters" was at Unju Temple in the South Jeolla Province. It is the place, mentioned in the tenth episode, which Dae-gil (played by Jang Hyuk) guessed correctly right away when told Tae-ha (Oh Ji-ho) went to where a statue of Buddha lies on its back facing the sky. "There is a statue of Buddha laid on the ground and facing the sky in the Unju Temple. It is said to hold the unattained dreams of the commoners. I couldn't not go to shoot there after hearing that story," Kwak explained of his reason in choosing the temple as a location which would also symbolize Tae-ha's world which has yet-to-unfold and the dreams of the slaves.
But there is more significance to Unju Temple than the symbolic meaning it has for "Hunters." It is also where many of the main characters gather after a large number of supporting actors are killed off the show in the ninth and tenth episodes. Tae-ha holds the baby king in one hand as he meets his old friends and Dae-gil's clan gathers at Unju too. About five scenes were shot at the Unju Temple this day. And each scene focused more on the meeting and the parting amongst the characters rather than focusing on its usual spectacular action. The atmosphere on set too was as somber and sincere as the emotions involved in the meetings and partings.
"Turn around as soon as you take a step forward," Kwak instructed Tae-ha, played by Oh Ji-ho. He then explained, "We didn't rush in the beginning because we started shooting the first few episodes several months ago but these days, we're always fighting against the clock." At the same time, he looks into every detail with such insistency that once he goes into shoot, it is as if he has forgotten all about time. He does not miss a single thing, down to the smallest movement a character makes to the most trivial historical fact. To Kim Ha-eun, playing the role of Sul-hwa, he will direct her to "breathe harder after running here." And after receiving confirmation that "in the past, nobody, other than the chief monk, entered the main temple building through the central door," Kwak reflected this fact into the scene where a boy monk greets Dae-gil who is chasing Tae-ha. With a little exaggeration added, it could be said that the amount Kwak exercises almost equals the workout Dae-gil and Tae-ha get from shooting their actions scenes. He endlessly checked the monitor, went onto the set, checked everything, gave orders, and then went to monitor again.
Not a single loud sound was made on the set of "Hunters" but such an intenseness was also the atmosphere amongst the actors. The Chuno clan, composed of Jang Hyuk, Kim Ji-suk and Han Jung-soo, huddled together ahead of going into shoot to quietly discuss the scene they would be shooting while Oh Ji-ho and Lee Da-hae focused on rehearsing their own parts, not speaking a single word to each other. The moment they finally smiled and talked to each other was when Oh Ji-ho finished shooting his scene. "You're leaving before I am because you're done? That's not fair!" Lee jokingly said to Oh.
Shooting began at 8 a.m. but it was already nearing 8 p.m. And the crew of "Hunters" had been shooting a single scene since late afternoon -- the moment when Dae-gil breaks down. It was for a scene in the twelfth episode where Dae-gil's emotions explode like they have never done before. Hence it was also the moment director Kwak and Jang Hyuk's energy collided at its highest point. Ahead of going into shoot, Jang Hyuk watched romantic scenes of him and Hae-won on his PDP to focus on his emotions. And once in shoot, Kwak continuously and repeatedly shot the scene from various angles -- full shots, close-up shots, with the Jimmy Jib, and on-the-move. The staff moved swiftly too, operating every piece of equipment in time with Kwak's orders. Jang Hyuk repeatedly cried, laughed, shouted and gazed up into the sky. Only a few minutes of this hours-long shoot would go on air but Kwak, Jang Hyuk and the staff continue to focus, knowing the importance of the scene. Like the slave being chased by a slave hunter, the cast and crew of "Hunters" are being chased by time but they too were chasing after the best result, giving their all to the shoot for the best result.
Senior Reporter : Kang Myoung-Seok firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk email@example.com
Editor : Jessica Kim firstname.lastname@example.org, Jang Kyung-Jin email@example.com
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