Risk-taking escape from Mogadishu

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In 1991 when South Korea made a sophisticated diplomatic effort to join the United Nations by winning over the heart of U.N. member states, Mogadishu in Somalia got embroiled in a civil war, which has since continued up to date.

At the middle of a battlefield bombarded with shells were South Korean and North Korean embassy staffs with communication channels out of order. South Korean film director Ryoo Seung-wan’s “Escape from Mogadishu” to be released on July 28 describes an adventurous journey of South Korean embassy workers locked in an alien country evacuating with their life at stake. Although the film was scheduled to be released last summer, the premiere has been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director Ryoo unfolded what the shooting was like in an online streaming press conference on Thursday, accompanied by eight actors including Kim Yoon-seok, who performs the role of a South Korean ambassador, Jo In-sung, who acts an adviser, and Heo joon-ho, who takes the role of a North Korean ambassador to Somalia.

Director Ryoo was offered by producing company Dexter Studio to take on this film. He just heard of this event, but once he skimmed through historical records, he was immediately fascinated by a dramatic situation. “Most records kept by the South Korean embassy were lost while embassy staffs escaped from the nation. Fortunately, a senior at the state-run Somalian broadcasting company kept records. Scenes of the civil war were reenacted successfully based on the historical references,” said the director.

The on-location shooting of the film was done in Essaouira, Morocco. As the South Korean government has a travel ban on Somalia, the film crews discovered an alternative and they chose Essaouira. “Escape from Mogadishu” attracts our attention to its exotic atmosphere and all-star casting.


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