Upcoming Netflix original series 'Narco-Saints' takes inspiration for real drug lord
A drug lord active in Suriname and secret agents working undercover to capture him seems like the perfect plot for an action film.
However, the upcoming Netflix original series “Narco-Saints,” which is based on this narrative, is actually adapted from true events about a drug lord named Cho Bong-haeng who operated a massive trafficking organization in Suriname between the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The series is director Yoon Jong-bin’s first-ever drama. Yoon is known for portraying society’s dark sides such as military violence and crime cartels as seen in his prior films “The Unforgiven” (2005),” “Nameless Gangster: Rules of Time” (2012) and “The Spy Gone North” (2018).
The series adds one more protagonist - an ordinary entrepreneur named Kang In-gu, portrayed by Ha Jung-woo, who chooses to cooperate with the National Intelligence Service and go on a secret mission to capture the Korean drug lord Jeon Yo-hwan, portrayed by Hwang Jung-min, who disguises himself as a benevolent pastor.
Director Yoon fronts this protagonist as his series’ unique charm that distinguishes itself from other similar works about spies.
“There is no content, I believe, about a civilian being deployed to a secret operation led by a government organization,” he said at a local press event on Thursday held at Josun Palace in Gangnam district, southern Seoul. “That’s what I think is original about this series. In-gu isn’t professionally trained [to go undercover] and he pulls through the mission using only his guts and his instinct for survival [...] What’s more, the biggest attraction about this series is that it’s adapted from a real-life event, so I think that makes our story feel more grounded.”
The series features a star-studded cast including one of the leads of hit Netflix Korea series “Squid Game” (2021), Park Hae-soo who plays NIS agent Choi Chang-ho who is in charge of the operation to capture Yo-hwan; Jo Woo-jin as Yo-hwan’s ruthless second-in-command Byun Ki-tae; Yoo Yeon-seok as David Park, the brain of the drug organization and an attorney who is multi-lingual and helps Yo-hwan operate his drug ring; and Taiwanese actor Chang Chen as Chen Jin, another leader of a crime ring dominating Suriname and Yo-hwan's biggest competitor in the crime world.
“Narco-Saints” will be released on Netflix worldwide on Friday.
BY LEE JAE-LIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]