Anyone who loves film - and in particular the thriller and horror genres - should definitely pay attention to some of the titles that have come out of South Korea over the past 10-15 years. Hollywood is certainly paying attention, with Spike Lee releasing his own version of Oldboy last year and a remake of Kim Jee-woon's I Saw the Devil currently in development by You're Next writer/director team Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard.
South Korea has also attracted some major Hollywood titles as a filming location, with both The Bourne Legacy and The Avengers: Age of Ultron shooting scenes in the capital city, Seoul (The Avengers star Chris Evans also played the lead in Bong Joon-ho's post-apocalyptic thriller Snowpiercer). This is part of a larger trend of Hollywood studios and directors choosing to film their upcoming titles outside of California, seeking out locations with more incentives and more competitive tax breaks.
The economic benefits of hosting film production are numerous and now the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, seems to have won a victory for the city by negotiating for a portion of upcoming sci-fi sequel Star Trek 3 to be shot there. In an announcement on his Facebook page, Park said that he had met with Star Trek 3 producer Jeffrey Chernov and that they had made an agreement for parts of the film to be shot in Seoul. The meeting took place during a visit by Park to Los Angeles, where he hoped to persuade studios of the benefits of shooting in Seoul, so it's possible that we may hear similar news about other upcoming releases.
Although Paramount Pictures has made no official statement regarding Park's claim, director Roberto Orci took to the TrekMovie message boards with the teasing comment that, "the Mayor was a lovely man." Seoul is certainly an attractive location, with the Seoul Film Commission offering a 25% cash rebate on production costs for filming in the city and covering expenses for any location scouting. Speaking to the LA Times, Park explained that during shooting for The Avengers: Age of Ultron the city was extremely accommodating, blocking streets and sometimes entire districts to give the production enough room to work.
This news offers a little bit of opportunity for speculation about Star Trek 3's plot. It's safe to assume that any filming that took place would be on location, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the film's characters would go to Seoul, since it could easily be dressed to look like an alien planet. After all, Star Trek Into Darkness had a significant amount of story set in London without the production ever setting foot inside the city.
Nothing in the franchise's canon or any of its character's backstories has particular ties to South Korea. Star Trek actor John Cho was born in Seoul, but in the tie-in novels Sulu is described as being American-born and of Japanese descent. With filming estimated to begin within the next six months (and Life of Pi cinematographer Claudio Miranda having recently boarded the project), it hopefully won't be too long before we find out a little more about Star Trek 3's story.
Star Trek 3 is expected in theaters sometime during 2016. We will keep you updated on its progress.