South Korean action specialist Ryoo Seung-wan is shooting in Europe for the first time with his $9m spy thriller In Berlin which is filming in the German capital for nine days before moving to Latvia’s Riga for another 15 day of shooting.

The production by the director’s own company Filmmaker R&K has been shooting various exteriors, including on the roof of Berlin’s Westin Grand Hotel, in Schöneberg, at the Hackescher Markt and on Pariser Platz in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in full view of the US and French Embassies.

Speaking to Screen Daily during the film’s shoot at the Brandenburg Gate, Film Base Berlin’s Mathias Schwerbock, the film’s German service producer, described In Berlin as “action mixed with strong drama” with North and South Korean secret agents pitted against one another in the midst of a financial espionage intrigue which also attracts the attention of heavies from the CIA and Israel’s Mossad.

The cast includes Ryoo’s younger actor brother Ryoo Seung-beom and such Korean stars as Ha Jung-woo, Jeon Ji-hyun and Han Suk-kyu and Irish-born, Berlin-based John Keogh as a CIA agent.

Schwerbock said that Ryoo came to him for In Berlin after seeing his work on the Shahrukh Khan action film Don 2 where his company had served as a co-producer with India’s Excel Entertainment.

Don 2 was a pretty good reference because it showed we could set up such a film,” he explained. “Around 80 crew members have come from Korea, and they have brought their entire equipment. Even the gaffers are from Korea, and that’s quite surprising.”

Another innovation for Schwerbock was that Ryoo does the recces of the locations with the actors so that they can get used to the settings: “What’s more, he is very thorough and precise in his preparations. They are fast at shooting and very efficient,” he said.

After the Latvian shoot, the production will have 35 days of interiors back home in South Korea.

CJ Entertainment will distribute in South Korea and sell the film internationally.