FrightFest 2023 - Interview with Yong-ki Jeong director of The Ghost Station

A chat with the talented creative

James Whittington
August 27, 2023

The chilling South Korean movie The Ghost Station is showing at FrightFest today so we decided to chat ti its director, Yong-ki Jeong.

NYX: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

YJ: Movies have been my dream since I was young. I fell in love with Hollywood and European classics such as "Gone with the Wind," "La Strada," and "The Wages of Fear," and after watching Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones," I became desperate to make a movie. After majoring in film in college, I entered to the film industry without any hesitation.

NYX: Can you recall the first time you saw the Oksu Station Webtoon and did you know then it would make a great movie?

YJ: The original webtoon was a short story with little story. But the intensity was enormous. This is because the webtoon "Oksu Station Ghost" presented the world's first moving flash video. I was used to webtoons that had no movement like cartoons, but I remember screaming and being surprised when hand suddenly popped out of the computer. At the same time, I was confident that it would be a perfect movie material.

NYX: What’s it like to work with Hiroshi Takahashi?

YJ: He is a very famous writer in the Japanese horror film industry. But I've never actually met him. Just got the scenario he worked on. The scenario was excellent, but it was so Japanese horror movie style that it needed an adaptation to go well with Korean sentiment. In the West, you may think that the fear of Korea and the fear of Japan will be similar, but in reality, many parts are different. I tried to add Korean sentiment and fun while catalysing the merits of his scenario.

NYX: Was it written with a cast in mind?

YJ: I worked with the two actresses in mind since I had started to adapt the scenario. They were Kim Bo-ra as Kim Na-young and Shin So-yul as Tae-hee. I think the eyes of an actress are the most important in a horror movie, and the two actors had the eyes I wanted. In particular, actor Kim Bo-ra's big and mysterious eyes perfectly played a news reporter who approached the truth to dig up the horror.

NYX: Kim Bo-ra is amazing as hard-working journalist Kim-Na-young, she’s going to be a huge star.

YJ: I think so without a doubt. She led the whole play in a stable manner, controlling the pace of her eagerness for success, but at the same time trying to protect her conscience and to save her friend. In addition, through the last scene, the character Na-young's will was firmly expressed. I am always grateful for that.

NYX: What’s it like filming on location at what seems to be a working train station?

YJ: In fact, subway stations have electric currents on the bottom of the tracks. We could only shoot for three and a half hours from 12:00 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. at night. I couldn't let go of the tension throughout the three days of filming, and I made a shooting schedule in minutes to get an accurate shot in a short time. Fortunately, I feel grateful to God for finishing the shoot without any accidents.

NYX: Most of the effects seem to have been on set, is this true?

YJ: "THE GHOST STATION" was a very low-budget movie, so there was no budget to make its own set. So we found each location for almost every scene and filmed there, and several special effects had to be manually worked in the field. Indeed, CG was a minimal piece of this work. One more thing to add is that the more CG, the worse the mood of horror movies is and look less real. Therefore, in that respect, I intentionally excluded CG.

NYX: The score is fantastic, will it also get a release?

YJ: Unfortunately, there is no plan to release the song. I worked with KIM Woo-chul, the music director, and he worked on the music for almost every movie I have made. He is a very talented music director.

NYX: Are you a fan of horror movies?

YJ: Originally, I was a person who couldn't watch horror movies because I was scared. I used to watch horror movies with all the lights on in broad daylight. However, I tried to enjoy horror movies because I knew that horror movies were a great genre that can convey the message very strongly. Now, unless it is a very gore-like work, I’m on a level where I can enjoy it.

NYX: Will you be nervous when The Ghost Station has its UK premiere at FrightFest 2023?

YJ: I'm always excited and nervous when my movie is shown to others. I am also very curious about what British audiences think about Korean horror movies. I hope that British audiences can enjoy the "THE GHOST STATION", hoping that the gap between East and West cultural differences will be overcome well.

NYX: Do you believe in curses or paranormal events?

YJ: I believe in the influence of the curse because I believe in causal relationships. In addition, I believe in supernatural events. The world is already full of scientific and unexplainable phenomenon.There is no reason not to believe.

NYX: What is the film industry like in South Korea?

YJ: There are many movies that have not been released because of Covid 19. In addition, due to the expansion of the OTT market during the same period, the Korean film market is currently in a bad situation. However, even in the past, the Korean film industry overcame difficulties well. I think it can overcome well again this time. The movie audience will return.

NYX: So, what are you working on at the moment?

YJ: I'm preparing for romantic comedy movie and comic action TV drama. I hope that these works will also have an opportunity to be introduced to British audiences. I'm so happy to be able to introduce "THE GHOST STATION" to the UK once again and I hope more British audiences can enjoy the movie.

NYX: Yong-ki Jeong, thank you very much.

YJ: Thank you.