The director and cast of Apple TV’s first Original Korean series reveal the process of filming the show in a virtual press conference.
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When I heard about Dr Brain, Apple TV+’s first original Korean series, I was intrigued to find out more about the show because it reminded me of an old American scifi drama series titled Stitchers.
The six-episode series masterfully combines two genres that I like: the scifi genre and a murder mystery thriller.
Based on a webtoon of the same name, the story follows a neuroscientist Koh Se-won who suffers a personal tragedy when his family fall victim to a mysterious accident.
In a desperate attempt to find out what happened, Se-won embarks on a risky experiment using ‘brain syncs’ with the dead to uncover clues in their memories.
Adding realism to a fictional technology
Although the ‘brain sync’ technology is fictional, director Kim Jee-woon took the time to consult a brain scientist Dr Jaeseung Jeong, who’s also a professor at Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
Based on the research by Dr Jeong, we try to adapt this [fictional] idea into something that’s more realistic. The concept of looking into the consciousness and brains of other people [is] very new and innovative. I used a lot of scientific hypotheses to try to add authenticity to our work.Director Kim Jee-won during a virtual press conference
Adding realism to the show was also important to actor Lee Sun-kyun who plays the brilliant neuroscientist Se-won.
In order to convey a sense of realism to the audience, he decided to focus on showing the experience of being under a ‘brain sync.’
“The phrase ‘brain sync’ in itself sounds unfamiliar and strange. I focused on how I should express the character’s state and reaction after going through the brain sync,” Lee said.
He also explained that a ‘brain sync’ is more than just obtaining memories. “Even the emotions and the characteristics or habits of the other person are transferred [to my character],” Lee explained.
For those who are still not sure what ‘brain syncing’ is, Lee said “The closest metaphor that [the director and I] can find was the AirDrop function in Apple devices.”
Despite his character’s brilliance, Se-won actually has trouble engaging with the people around him due to his autism.
What makes his character compelling is that he begins to gain empathy when he undergoes several brain syncs while trying to solve the mystery.
“He realizes that he hasn’t been a good father or good to his family. He starts off as a seemingly cold-hearted person and it ends on a passionate note. I really like that about Se-won,” Lee said.
Creating a compelling story
As it is with adaptations, there are some elements of the show that slightly differs from the original webtoon.
Director Kim said the webtoon moves at a faster pace and focuses more on the murder mystery. For the show, he tried to bring in more layers to the story and the characters in order to also give it a heartwarming side.
One of the ways it differs from the webtoon includes slightly changing the way the character Kangmu, who’s a private investigator, is portrayed in the show.
Park Hee-soon, who plays the charismatic investigator, shared that he had to strike a balance between his character that is portrayed in the webtoon and the series.
“In the original webtoon, my character is a mysterious and charismatic man. But in the series, you can see some humanity in him. [While helping Se-won], he squabbles with him and sometimes gives him advice and hints.”
Park also added that Kangmu has a more humanistic side as compared to his character Mu-jin in another Korean series titled My Name. He had fun portraying Kangmu as a more witty and laidback character too.
The cast expressed their excitement to have the original series air on Apple TV+, and hope fans will enjoy watching Dr Brain as much as they did filming the series.
Directed and co-written by Kim Jee-woon, Dr Brain stars Lee Sun-kyun, Lee You-young, Park Hee-soon, Seo Ji-hye and Lee Jae-won.
Dr Brain can be streamed on Apple TV+ every Friday with new episodes published weekly.