Let no man deceive you by any means: ‘Narco-Saints’
Netflix’s adaptation of true story of Korean drug lord operating in Suriname presents another tense crime thriller
Published : Sep 7, 2022 - 15:00
Updated : Sep 7, 2022 - 15:00
From left: Actors Yoo Yeon-seok, Park Hae-soo, Hwang Jung-min, Ha Jung-woo and Jo Woo-jin pose for photos before a press conference at Josun Palace in Gangnam, southern Seoul. (Netflix)

Netflix’s upcoming “Narco-Saints” is set to present an explosive crime saga in a new setting with a dynamic story and a pseudo religious leader.

“I thought the series held a powerful story. A Korean becoming a drug lord in a country on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America? This is an exciting setting for a movie,” Ha Jung-woo, who makes his return to a drama series after 15 years, said at a press conference held at Josun Palace in southern Seoul, Wednesday.

“When I first heard about the story, I hoped it would make a jump into either a crime film or a drama series. Because the series had a mesmerizing storyline, I was able to wait for six to seven years, handing out ideas for ‘Narco-Saints,’” Ha added.

Still image of "Narco-Saints" (Netflix)

Based on a true story about a South Korean man in Suriname who smuggled cocaine from South America to Europe using Koreans as carriers, the six-episode series revolves around Kang In-gu (Ha), a hard-working man who does not want his children to live in poverty.

Hoping to change his life, Kang starts a new business with a friend in the unfamiliar locale of Suriname.

After Kang unexpectedly encounters Korean pastor Jeon (Hwang Jung-min), who is also a drug king, he becomes a pawn in the international drug trade. A new mind game begins when Kang is caught by Choi Chang-ho (Park Hae-soo), a South Korean government agent.

A still image shows Hwang Jung-min (left) as Pastor Jeon and Ha Jung-woo (center) as Kang In-gu at a church in "Narco-Saints." (Netflix)

Director Yoon Jong-bin, who was behind hit crime films “Nameless Gangster: Rules of Time” (2012), “A Violent Prosecutor” (2016) and “The Spy Gone North” (2018), said that he decided to make his drama debut with “Narco-Saints” because two hours would not be enough.

Director Yoon Jong-bin attends a press conference for "Narco-Saints" in Seoul, Wednesday. (Netflix)

“When I read the script written for a 120-minute film, I recognized that many exciting points had been left out. I felt that producing a crime film will be difficult and this eventually led me to make a drama debut,” Yoon said.

The director added that the character of Pastor Jeon was created to help viewers understand Kang’s situation and empathize with the character.

“When I heard the real story, Kang was simply a person who passionately wished to help the drug king. And I didn't think this was convincing. I thought about a type of job that could easily win people's trust,” Yoon said. "A pastor was the answer."

Thrilling stories aside, the director said that shooting the top actors in the same scene was a dream-come-true moment.

“The energy that these actors -- and Taiwanese actor Chang Chen -- brought to the scenes was tremendous,” the director said, expressing confidence that the cast’s outstanding performances will capture people's attention.

“Narco-Saints” releases on Netflix on Friday.

By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)