Korean ’Escape from Mogadishu’ Reinterprets True Events of Somali Civil War


Somalilandsun: Korean action film “Escape from Mogadishu,” directed by Ryoo Seung-wan, features a story based on a true event involving South and North Korean diplomats in Somalia during the 1991 civil war.

“Dexter Studios had plans to create a movie based on a true event. The company proposed to me to be part of the project,” director Ryoo said during an online press conference held on Thursday. “I only knew briefly about what happened in Somalia. As I did more research I became fascinated by the dramatic events that took place.”

Ryoo added that it was not easy to gather information about what happened to the Koreans in Somalia back in 1991.

“There were not much details on what happened,” Ryoo said. “Fortunately we could find a book, which was written by Somalia’s former state-run TV executive who escaped from Mogadishu at the time. It helped us to find out more detailed information.”

He added that the US Embassy’s records about the civil war was also helpful when writing the script.

Finding the right location where they could film was another difficulty Ryoo faced during the preproduction process.


A scene from upcoming Korean action film “Escape from Mogadishu” (Lotte Entertainment)

“We could not shoot the movie in Somalia because it is still dangerous there,” he said. “Then I found out that film ‘Black Hawk Down,’ which is set in 1993 Mogadishu was shot in Morocco.”

At first, Ryoo had some doubts about shooting his entire film in Morocco but his concerns disappeared when he visited the country.

“We found all the architecture that we were looking for there,” Ryoo said.

“Escape from Mogadishu” is a highly anticipated film here as it features many veteran Korean actors including Kim Yoon-seok, Jo In-sung and Huh Joon-ho. During the conference, the director expressed gratitude toward the cast members for their hard work and cooperation.

“They all worked hard to make sure other actors’ performances stood out. It was a true ensemble.”

Ryoo added that everyone could work together harmoniously because veteran actor Huh was such a great leader.

“When it was his day off, he still came on set and made coffee for all the staff,” the director said.

“I thought making coffee for them was the least I can do,” Huh said.

Jo also added that the coffee that Huh made helped him a lot when filming and shared a difficulty that he faced when performing for “Escape from Mogadishu.”

“There were days that we only performed in English. It was awkward and stressful. I felt pressured,” Jo said.

“Escape from Mogadishu” will hit local theaters in South Korea on July 28.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)