- "There is a saying is Korea. Saying something a hundred times is not as good as living it once."
- ―Kang Yeonsak saying to Ruth McMillan [src]
He masterminded the takeover of the White House in order to unify Korea and turn America into a nuclear wasteland using a top secret fail-safe protocol called Cerberus, but hadn't counted on Secret Service agent Mike Banning sabotaging his plans.
As a child born on August 12th, 1976, Kang Yeonsak and his mother were brought across the Korean Demilitarized Zone shortly after his father was executed for crimes against North Korea. However, while attempting to cross, his mother was killed by an American landmine.
When he reached adulthood, Kang founded the Koreans for United Freedom (K.U.F.), a terrorist paramilitary organization through whom he brought uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan to Pyongyang in 2002. In 2004, he and his group bombed the British Embassy of Seoul, and were involved in a hostage crisis in Seoul in 2007.
Due to his reputation, he became one of the most wanted terrorists in the world. He kept himself under the radar to avoid being photographed or identified by any Western Intelligence agency. Then, he blended to the South Korean government and posed himself as a chief of security and primary aide to South Korean Prime Minister Lee Tae-Woo under the name of Park.
Attacking the White House
By July 5th, 2013, Kang still disguised himself as the head of security and aide for South Korean Prime Minister Lee.
To ensure a reunified Korea, he and former Secret Service agent Dave Forbes take President Benjamin Asher, Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Hoenig hostage in the underground Presidential Emergency Operations Center in the East Wing of the White House.
Kang orders the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Allan Trumbull who was now Acting President, to withdraw the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet and 28,500 soldiers that are actively defending South Korea to allow North Korea to invade its southern counterpart to end the civil war while also seeking to destroy the country by self-destructing their silo-based nuclear weapons as payback for the untimely death of his parents. To accomplish this, Kang needs three codes from Asher, McMillan and Hoenig that will allow him to activate a highly-classified fail-safe U.S. military protocol called Cerberus. He got two of the codes, once from Secretary of State Ruth McMillan and another from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Joe Hoenig. He tried to leave before time after being threatened by Mike Banning but Mike shot up his men from the staircase, killing them and letting McMillan successfully escape the the Marines but Kang escaped back to the Bunker in the confusion. Once a helicopter landed on the lawn per his requests, he sent the hostages and two men (all wearing face masks) to the chopper and had them suicide bomb, making it look like him and the President died with the other hostages.
Final Fight and Death
- "Look like you've failed again Mike."
- ―Kang's final words before his death. [src]
Kang managed to crack the final Cerberus code by himself without getting it from President Asher and set it to explode in 5 minutes, allowing them to escape into tunnels under the White House. However, Mike Banning ambushed them and killed his men before fighting Kang although not before he shot Asher in the stomach. A brutal hand to hand combat fuel ensued, leading to Mike disarming Kang but being overwhelmed long enough for Kang to draw two knives. Mike disarmed him and, after a short punching march, Kang managed to pin Mike to the wall and remind him that everything he did failed. However, Mike got him by the shoulder and grabbed him between his legs before snapping his wrist. With Kang disabled, Mike grabbed a nearby knife and stabbed him through the eye, killing him instantly and fulfilling an earlier promise by Mike to stab him in the brain. Mike then deactivates Cerberus in time, and saves everyone living in America from being killed by nuclear weapons.
Kang's radical plans for Korean reunification never came to fruition as Asher would survive his wounds and America was saved, thus making his final act a ultimately futile one. With Kang and all of his henchmen killed, the K.U.F. was no more and Mike Banning was reinstated to the Secret Service. His death at the hands of Mike also avenges all those killed during his assault.
- "I don't need to launch them. The explosive force within each hardened silo will detonate the missiles. Tens of millions of Americans will perish. Your country will be a cold, dark nuclear wasteland. Now, too, America shall know suffering and famine."
- ―Kang reveals his true plans to the President [src]
Kang Yeonsak was a violent and callous psychopath with all of the signs: violence, grandiosity, high intelligence, incapacity for remorse, a complete lack of empathy, sociopathic methods of thought and extremism. He was powerful, resourceful, predictive, ruthless, arrogant, self-assured, confident, sadistic, malicious and highly intelligent to the point of megalomania. Kang was also vengeful and devotedly obsessed with revenge against the United States for the deaths of his parents, to the point of fanaticism for Korean liberation. He was also sophisticated and enigmatic, showing extravagance on the subject of speech, clothing, methods of movement and also he was extremely unpredictable.
He showed no regret in massacring hundreds of people during his attack on the White House. Kang had incredible technical knowledge, able to predict how the U.S. missile codes were changed daily and able to commandeer immensely complicated technologies such as the Cerberus fail-safe protocol and the Hydra 6 air defense system, during the course of the film. He was completely ethical and subtle, carrying out his plans only once they were fully calculated, both risks, strengths and weaknesses. Kang was also manipulative, able to impersonate as the head of security and aide to Prime Minister Lee, and also recruit Dave Forbes, a former federal agent, to his cause. It is confirmed that Kang suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder, and is also suffering from a superiority complex, as he believes himself to be invincible in the face of his enemies. However, his behavior caused Forbes' loyalty to waver and he later proclaimed to Mike Banning that Kang was insane.
Although it is unknown where he received training, Kang was extremely skilled in unarmed combat. Although, at first, it appears his only weapon is his genius-level intellect, he defends himself brilliantly against Mike Banning during their climatic fistfight. He showed proficiency in karate, jujitsu, taekwondo and judo during the fight, also capable of impressive acrobatic and gymnastic feats despite his age, mentality and the injuries he suffered during the fight. He could also overpower the President, but to be fair he had a gun in his hand. Kang's signature weapon was a flick knife, two of which he carried during his fight with Banning. His fighting style suits his intellectual genius, sadistic tendencies and also the advantages of his age. He was also skilled with a handgun, shown during the resolution of the White House Siege. However, his arrogance and overconfidence proved to be his downfall as he underestimated Mike several times when he gloated him with Mike's previous failure of saving First Lady Margaret Asher, proclaiming that he would fail to save the President as well and when he believed he had triumphed over Mike during their fight, gloating him with "Looks like you fail again, Mike". These words and his momentary distraction allowed the motivated Mike Banning to finally overpower and kill him.
- Because Olympus Has Fallen is partially science fiction, North Koreans in real-life cannot be as dangerous towards the United States or South Korea as Kang Yeonsak. It is virtually impossible for North Korea to make a full-scale invasion on Washington, D.C. or Seoul as the film depicts. South Koreans have confirmed in legitimate polls that they do not see North Korea as effectively dangerous.
Behind the Scenes