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What You Need To Know About Netflix’s Latest #1 Korean Movie, “Space Sweepers”

today10 February 2021


Funny, colourful and impressive with its CGI – ‘Space Sweepers’ is quickly sweeping aside this month’s new releases to take the top spot on Netflix’s “most-watched” list. It may not be a Star Wars/Marvel kind of blockbuster but it’s impressive in its own right – with emotions that only South Korean productions seem to be able to perfectly encapsulate. Not only do you see a father-daughter like bond explored, you see greed, humanity and morals questioned. The movie’s premise introduces use to Earth in 2092, an almost completely uninhabitable planet and ‘Eden’ – a colony that orbits the earth that’s been built by a megacorporation for the worlds richest. Our leads make up a band of “space sweepers”, scavengers who collect and sell space junk to make their living in between the two. Not only is the premise alluring, here are some facts about the movie that’ll make it an even greater watch!


It’s the first attempt by South Korean moviemakers at a movie set in space.


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Movies and TV shows set in space may not be anything new to us, but it’s the first attempt by South Korean moviemakers at a sci-fi blockbuster that’s set in space. Sure, we’ve had dystopian movies from the nation, but nothing actually set in space until now. With it being the first of its kind in the South Korean movie industry, they’ve pulled out all the stops in making it. And in doing so…



It took a decade to get the movie out into the public.

Initially titled ‘Lightning Arc’, award-winning director Jo Sung-Hee wrote the story back in 2009, after a friend brought up the dangers of “space junk”. In an interview, he elaborated,


“It started with the idea of space travellers collecting space junk that is moving faster than a speeding bullet. I heard about how these fast-moving fragments of space debris are growing and leading to in-space collisions. I realized that this subject has already been dealt with in animations and games, but never in a film. I started writing the script wondering how Koreans, who possess a tenacious mentality, would approach this problem.”


While Jo went on to craft critically acclaimed movies like “A Werewolf Boy” and “Phantom Detective”, his idea for “Space Sweepers” never left him. He even brought up the idea to current lead, Song Joong-ki, while filming the hit 2021 movie, “A Werewolf Boy”.



Its leads are powerhouse South Korean actors.


Yes, you may already recognise the leads of ‘Space Sweepers’, Kim Tae-ri and Song Joong-ki. The latter, has previously worked with director Jo (it is said that Song had agreed to work on ‘Space Sweepers’ with Jo when he first pitched the idea during filming in 2012, even before reading the script for it) while also starring in “My Fair Lady” and “Descendants of the Sun”, amongst other hits. As for the talented Kim Tae-ri, she became a household name with “Mr. Sunshine”. While ‘Space Sweepers’ sees the duo returning to the big screen after a few years, it also sees Yoo Hae-jin (‘Tazza: The Hidden Card’) and Jin Seon-kyu (‘The Outlaws’ and ‘Extreme Job’) alongside ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy star Richard Armitage.



It’s heavy on representation


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Being a South Korean movie, the cast and crew are all people of colour – rare for movies such as these. Another great aspect of the movie is the fact that it’s filmed in the language of the people who’re involved. The dialogue is predominantly Korean, with breaks for English when dealing with Richard Armitage’s character. Then there are the other characters who represent different nationalities from Earth 2092 –  French, Brazilian, Chinese – who are all left speaking their own languages. PLUS – the movie goes a step further by including a particularly notable characteristic to their CGI-robot, Bubs. While Bubs is voiced by Yoo Hae-jin – a man – we see Bubs wanting to save up to buy “skins” (like in video games, the accessories appearance for the character) that are feminine. Even on Wikipedia, the character is described as a”former military robot trying to save up for her gender confirmation services”. and they all speak their own languages, after an early scene establishes that translation devices are so commonplace that everyone can understand each other without any issue. This isn’t done in an aggressive or shocking way, rather, it’s an interesting way to introduce the notion of transgenderism to a markedly conservative country like South Korea (and other parts of Asia).



Watch the trailer for the impressive movie here:


Have you seen the movie? Let us know what you think! What was standout? What could have been improved on? What would you have liked to see more of?


*Cover image credit: Instagram / @netflixkr

Written by: Marissa Anne

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