Photo: Warner Bros

If the Oscars are to be determined by fans, then The Age Of Shadows will surely be a nominee in the Best Foreign Film category for the sheer reason that Gong Yoo is starring in it.

The 37-year-old South Korean actor is one of the most recognisable faces in K-drama land, and TV series Goblin can thank him for its high ratings.

Gong, who headlined last year’s blockbuster hit Train To Busan, is now sharing the big screen with Song Kang Ho (The Host, Snowpiercer) in The Age Of Shadows, which opens here tomorrow.

Set in 1920s, the South Korean espionage drama sees a group of resistance fighters trying to smuggle explosives from Shanghai into Japanese-occupied Korea. Gong is Kim Woo Jin, the leader of the group, while Song plays a Korean-born Japanese officer, Lee Sung Chul, who has divided loyalties.

The Age Of Shadows, which also features Lee Byung Hun, has been selected as South Korea’s contender for the foreign-language Academy Award race. Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan 24.

Photo: Gong Yoo, Discovery Expedition / Instagram

Here, Gong shares his thoughts about the movie:

How did you get involved?

I was interested in a historical play. Furthermore, I wanted to act with Song, who I really respect. Having Kim Ji Woon as the director made it even more appealing.

To be able to work with the two of them helped me decide without any hesitation.

What is the most memorable moment in the movie?

It is the scene where (our three characters)… were having a drink together. Lee sat on my left, and Song was on my right.

I wondered will there be any chance like that again. To be between the two acclaimed actors was such an honour. I wondered if my younger colleagues will see me that way when I get to Song and Lee’s level.

Which is more important – great box-office results or winning awards?

You can’t really choose, and you can’t tell too. Many people cooperate to complete a movie. If the viewers are satisfied, then that’s the reward for my efforts.

I’m not greedy for any awards. If they grant me an award I worked hard for, that’s great. I’d love for my work to be more recognised and the staff working at the back be more appreciated.

Hollywood may be interested in The Age Of Shadows since it has been picked as South Korea’s submission to the 89th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. What do you think about this?

When I heard it was chosen to represent South Korea, I was so happy as an actor and a viewer. It was a good celebration.

I feel that it reflects the reputation of Korean movies, which has risen abroad recently. I hope they will constantly support Korean movies.

The Age Of Shadows is very classic, and you can see the beautiful, historical mise en scene. Kim is known as a master of movie visuals. The work shows a great combination of Kim’s artistry and popularity.

The Age Of Shadows was invited to be screened in various world film awards, such as the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.

I hope that not only Hollywood, but also the world, will pay more attention to South Korean movies.

The original version of this story was published in The New Paper on January 4, 2016.

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