The abandoned concrete buildings on gloomy Hachima Island, 15 kilometres from Nagasaki in Japan, have appeared in several movies over the years, most notably in the horror flick “Hachima Project”, “Skyfall” and “Attack on Titan”.
Now it once again has a starring role: playing itself in South Korea’s “The Battleship Island” starring So Ji-sub and Hwang Jung-min and Song Jung-ki.
Hachima is also known as “Gunkanjima” or Battleship Island and was added to the List of Unesco World Heritage Sites for its historical value based on its industrial heritage in 2015, as a component of “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Japan)”.
Hashima flourished as a coal mining community from the 1890s. During the Second World War, conscripted Korean civilians and Chinese prisoners-of-war were put to work under very harsh conditions at the Mitsubishi facility as forced labourers under Japanese wartime mobilisation policies.
During this period, it is estimated that about 1,300 of those conscripted labourers died on the island due to underground accidents, exhaustion, and malnutrition.
“The Battleship Island” tells the story of Korean forced labourers taken captive on Japan’s Hashima Island during Japanese colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.
During the Japanese colonial era, roughly 400 Korean people who were forced onto Battleship Island to mine for coal attempted to escape.
Lee Kang-Ok (Hwang Jung-Min) is a bandmaster at Kyungsung Hotel. He decides to go to Japan to protect his daughter, but he is drafted to Battleship Island by force, having been deceived by talk to send him to Japan. So Ji-sub plays a top fighter in Kyungsung (as Seoul was formerly known) and he makes trouble on Battleship Island. Song Joong-ki portrays Park Moo-Young, a member of the Korean Independence group who infiltrates Battleship Island to rescue another member of the independence group.
Thanks to its story and star-studded cast, the film has been sold to 113 countries including North America, France, Italy, Russia, Japan and Thailand. The film distributor CJ Entertainment told The Korea Herald that the cast is the main reason why the film appeals to foreign buyers. Hwang is one of South Korean biggest movie stars while So Ji-sub and Song Joong-ki are more recognised to international audiences for their work in TV dramas, especially Song Joong-ki who shot to fame in the international drama hit “Descendant of the Sun”.
The film is slated for release in South Korea next month and in Thailand in August.