Choi Dong-hoon ‘Alienoid’ Interview: The Inspiration Behind the Korean Director’s 2-Part Sci-Fi Saga [Exclusive]

Showbiz Cheat Sheet got to sit down with one of South Korea’s most influential filmmakers, Choi Dong-hoon, for his new 2022 film, Alienoid. After establishing himself as a leader in Korean cinema, he received international praise from audiences and critics alike for his blockbuster films The Thieves (2012) and Assassination (2015).

Now, Choi Dong-hoon is back with his first film in over seven years, his most ambitious film yet, Alienoid.

South Korean director, Choi Dong-hoon stands in front of the 'Alienoid' poster.
‘Alienoid’ director, Choi Dong-hoon

2022 South Korean film Alienoid (also known as 외계+인 1부; Oegye+in 1bu; Alien+Human Part 1) starring Ryu Jun-yeol, Kim Woo-bin, and Kim Tae-ri, is part one of a 2-part saga that masterfully mixes sci-fi/fantasy, action, and time travel. This genre-bending, suspense-ridden blockbuster flick brilliantly draws audiences into Choi Dong-hoon’s fantasy world, where time is fluid and aliens possess people’s bodies.

Drawing influence from classic Hollywood comedies, John Wayne’s westerns, and superhero films, Choi Dong-hoon sheds light on his inspiration behind creating this ambitious 2-part sci-fi saga. Also, the Assassination director revealed what to expect from Alienoid Part 2 in this exclusive interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Alienoid has moments reminiscent of huge franchises such as Alien, Back to the Future, and Terminator. Were there any movies that inspired you to write Alienoid?

Choi Dong-hoon: Yeah, I mean, all of those films that you mentioned. These are the films that I watched when I was in high school, and that was the time when my life was basically about watching films every weekend in the theater. And whenever I saw a film like that, I was so thrilled, and I couldn’t even sleep for a couple of days. I was thinking to myself, ‘How could they come up with such great ideas and stories.’

I made this film so that I can share that kind of exhilaration that I experienced when I watched the film on the big screen like that. That’s why I made this project. I would say the biggest source of inspiration would be Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: In Alienoid, you combine many different genres, like traditional Asian martial arts, science fiction, and Hollywood-style superhero movies. Are you a fan of comics and superhero movies? Which superhero is your favorite?

Choi Dong-hoon: I remember watching the very first Iron Man, and that was so much fun to watch. He’s a great superhero. I used to love watching western films when I was growing up. I loved John Wayne; I loved films like Shane. So I always have this sensibility, the western sensibility, and I think that that also influenced my work.

A still from 'Alienoid' by Choi Dong-hoon of Kim Tae-ri as Lee Ahn holding up a pistol.
Kim Tae-ri as Lee Ahn in ‘Alienoid’

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Showbiz Cheat Sheet: All of your films have this innate comedic sense. They’re funny, despite them not being labeled as comedies. What role does comedy play in your life and your art?

Choi Dong-hoon: I think comedy plays a huge role in life in general. There are some moments that I’m just so happy to be human because of that comedy in our human life.

I love classical Hollywood movies. And I loved directors like Billy Wilder or Howard Hawks. Whenever I feel down, or whenever I have writer’s block, I always go back to their work and watch the films that they made and refresh myself.

A still from 'Alienoid' showing Ryu Jun-yeol as Mureuk in a fighting scene.
Ryu Jun-yeol as Mureuk in ‘Alienoid’

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Where did you get the idea for a two-part saga? Was it because the script was too long that you had to cut it into two stories? Or was it just that you wanted to have one big epic story?

Choi Dong-hoon: I had the idea of making my film into an epic saga, so that was the desire from the very beginning, so that was planned from the beginning to make it into a two-part story, and of course, it was a challenge to have this a two-part film. But the viewing environment is changing, so I thought, why not? It’s kind of makes sense also.

And I wanted to make sure that part 1 will have its own complete story arc. Right now, I’m working on the post-production of the second part. And when the second part comes out, then, of course, it will make a full circle, and it will complete the overall arc.

A still from South Korean film, 'Alienoid' showing So Ji-sub as Moon Do-seok holding a gun.
So Ji-sub as Moon Do-seok, ‘Alienoid’

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Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Speaking of part 2 of Alienoid, do you think that, in the case of Terminator, the second part could be better than the original?

Choi Dong-hoon: Yes! I believe that the second part will be better than the first one. But to let you know, all of the characters from part one will all move to the present time, and they will have a different battle.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: What else can you disclose about Alienoid Part 2?

Choi Dong-hoon: Of course, some of the mysteries that have been presented in part one will be solved and resolved in part 2, for example, where did Thunder go. And secondly, what happens to Mureuk? —who we now found that the aliens are inside of Mureuk.

So some of those unanswered questions will be answered in the end. This film, in a nutshell, is about how these people who are fighting against the aliens who have come to the earth and their destinies become intertwined, all together. Their destinies crossroads together. In part 2, you get deeper into their own destiny.

Ha Jung-woo, Lee Jung-jae, Jeon Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun), and Choi Dong-hoon attends the press conference for 'Assassination' at COEX MEGA Box on July 13, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.
Ha Jung-woo, Lee Jung-jae, Jeon Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun), and Choi Dong-hoon ‘Assassination’ | Han Myung-gu/WireImage, Getty Images

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Many amazing Korean actors have had the opportunity to work with you on some of your films. If you could choose anyone to be in your future films, who would you like to work with?

Choi Dong-hoon: There are so many great actors that I would love to work with. It’s a little bit hard for me to come up with any names right now because whenever I write a story, what happens is a name will pop up in my head. And that’s the person I want. So that’s why it’s a little difficult for me to give you any names.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: Are there any American actors you’d be interested in working with?

Choi Dong-hoon: Who’s the actor in Silver Lining Playbook? Bradley Cooper. I like Bradley Cooper.

A still from the Choi Dong-hoon film, 'Alienoid' by Caper Film.
‘Alienoid’ | Caper Film

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: You’ve quickly become one of our time’s most influential Korean filmmakers. What is your advice for people looking to become directors or storytellers like you?

Choi Dong-hoon: I would tell them two things. Read a lot. Watch a lot of movies. The second: make a friend to whom you can talk about your new ideas.

Alienoid debuts on Aug. 26, 2022, in select theaters across the United States.

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