Director Lee Joon Ik Reveals Why He Didn’t Give “Dongju” to Yoo Ah In + More International Festivals For “The Throne”


“The Throne” (“Sado”) is traveling around the globe. While the movie is playing in Japan since June 4th, and has screened at Shanghai International Film Festival on June 11 to 19, “The Throne” is also enjoying the screen time in two international film festivals this month.

“The Throne” will have a special screening at the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) this Thursday, June 30. Director Lee Joon Ik flies to New York to be the special guest at the movie discussion as well. Tickets are available here

In addition to that, “The Throne” has been screening at the 2016 Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF). The festival, which runs from June 23 to 30, is one of the most prestigious film festivals, along with the ones in Berlin, Cannes and Venice.

This year’s Moscow International Film Festival holds a retrospective dedicated to Korean films directed by Lee Joon Ik, such as “The King And The Clown”, “The Throne”, and “Dongju: The Portrait of Poet”. Some 300 movie fans including filmmakers gathered to watch one of his latest films, “The Throne”, starring Song Kang Ho and Yoo Ah In, on the opening day of the respective last week.

“I am honored that my films were invited to the festival that boasts 80 years of history”, director Lee Joon Ik said.

Both “The Throne” and “Dongju” are critically acclaimed movies directed by Lee Joon Ik. Many people were curious about the reason Lee didn’t cast Yoo Ah In to play Dongju, despite knowing his acting skill. Here are some interview snippets translated by our fellow translator from Yoo Ah In International Fans Community


On the interview with SportsQ, director Lee Jun Ik was asked about his refusal to allow Yoo Ah In play the poet Dongju.

He said, “During the filming of Sado (The Throne), it was scheduled for me to start filming Dongju after I wrap up Sado. I haven’t told anyone about needing actors for the movie. Yet, Yoo Ah In came to me and asked, ‘you’re not going to let me do it?’. I told him, ‘no, punk!’ (laughed).”

“During Sado filming, I knew that Yoo Ah In will become the “it” actor. He told me that he has worked on Veteran for director Ryoo Seung Wan right before starting Sado. During shooting Sado, the staff and I were really really blown away when we saw his acting. He took us by surprise. Now after the release of both films, he became the number one actor, but we already knew that this will happen [weren’t surprised by his success].”

“If Yoo Ah In played Dongju, I think that he will play the role wonderfully. But because of his super star status, if he played the role, people would say, ‘Yoo Ah In as the poet Dongju’. If Yoo Ah In played him, Dongju will always be remembered by the people as Yoo Ah In. So, I felt sorry for the poet Dongju,” he smiled.

“Now Kang Haneul is a rising star because of the movie Twenty but he’s been cast prior to the release of Twenty. I chose Haneul because of the movie Age of Innocence. The Kang Haneul I chose is not the Kang Haneul you know today…hahaha. My criteria for choosing the actor who plays Dongju was someone unknown, but who acts well. But one year and a half after casting him, Haneul has become very famous. I’m so proud of him,” he said laughing.

He went on, “In the case of Dongju the movie, I was worried that Dongju the poet would be overshadowed by the leading actor. I wanted to hear ‘Dongju played by Kang Haneul’, I didn’t want to hear ‘Yoo Ah In playing Dongju’. As for Ah In, I apologize to my really beloved actor for not giving him the role. He also has never turned sulky over this issue. And, didn’t he already win best actor for Sado?”.

Then he added while smiling, “I really love Yoo Ah In, and I really like him. He’s a cool chingu, but he’s too popular to play Dongju.”

The journalist said, “With Yoo Ah In playing Crown Prince Sado, we felt that he was totally in his element [note: journalist said “like fish in water”, a Korean expression]. It felt like he wanted to show us all of his capabilities as an actor.”

Lee Jun Ik answered, “When I watched Wandeugi (Punch), I already saw Sado’s heart in Yoo Ah In. He’s an actor with so much dissatisfaction and anxiety. An actor who has an internal flame bottled up inside. The restlessness of people in their 20s is so beautiful, because it sustains youth [it keeps youth alive]. It’s as beautiful as an arrow flying into the air [note: a quote from The Throne].”

He added, “Prince Sado, as played by Yoo Ah In, seemed to be at the peak of his instability. He’s an actor who flings the zipper to human nature wide open, exposing it in its entirety. He gets soaking wet [note: he referred to the water scene in the movie] and acts with all his heart. He showed the essence of people in their 20s.”

[Note: in one of his interviews, Lee Jun Ik said that the water scene was his most favorite scene in The Throne. He was so overwhelmed by Yoo Ah In’s acting that he kissed his cheek right after finishing the scene].

Last but not least, here’s an excerpt from an interview with actor Park Won Sang, who played Moon Geun Young father in Sado.

“I liked that the scenario was really good. Even when we saw the film at the first screening, the scenario came out really well as I hoped it would be. The movie turned out really good, yet so heavy. Movie-goers could expect to see many things in the movie. Just by seeing the performance of Song Kang Ho and Yoo Ah In, they are surely going to have a good time.”

Especially Yoo Ah In has left a deep impression on him. He said, “Regardless of age, really, this chingu is really extraordinary. The way he feels, his acting, the way he spits out his lines… he doesn’t need any adjustments with all these things [from the director]. I wish for him to go and come back from military as a bigger more tremendous actor.”

That’s our actor YOO. Always makes us proud! πŸ˜€

The Throne DVD already released worldwide. Go grab it!


5 Responses to “Director Lee Joon Ik Reveals Why He Didn’t Give “Dongju” to Yoo Ah In + More International Festivals For “The Throne””
  1. primie94 says:

    “Lee Jun Ik said that the water scene was his most favorite scene in The Throne. He was so overwhelmed by Yoo Ah In’s acting that he kissed his cheek after finishing the scene” So sweet!!

    Oh! Yes!! we all wish for him to go and come back from military as a bigger more tremendous actor.

    Thankz πŸ‘ΌπŸ»translator & πŸ‘ΌπŸ»Furbabe 😘…πŸ’•

  2. Sophia says:

    I respect Lee Joon Ik director nim for wanting unknown actor to play Dongju, but if only he knew that Yoo Ah In is a poet himself, there was no one but him who could play Dongju the best πŸ™‚

  3. AnnabelGrahamNZ says:

    유 sure does love those period roles. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜Š I can see the rationale in the director’s decision and makes a valid point.

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