Yonggary's name comes from the Korean word for "dragon" (yong) and a monster from Korean legend, Pulgasari. The English spelling of Yonggary's name is inconsistent: materials for his debut film spell his name as "Yongary" with one "g," while materials for Reptilian spell it as "Yonggary" with two.
A team in Japan led by Masao Yagi constructed the ₩1.2 million Yonggary suit for Yongary, Monster from the Deep from South Korean specifications. It initially lacked a nasal horn. Director Kim Ki-duk was underwhelmed by the suit, feeling it should be more fearsome, but the production lacked the funds or time to construct a new one. Suit actor Cho Kyoung-min received ₩100,000 for his efforts.
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In Yongary, Monster from the Deep, Yonggary is a bipedal reptile with a long horn on his snout, tusks on the sides of his mouth, and a single row of dorsal plates similar to Godzilla's dorsal fins, but shorter. He has red glowing eyes and spikes on his tail, similar to a Stegosaurus.
In Reptilian, Yonggary's head is more feline-looking and he retains his basic shape, but with a smaller nasal horn, three larger horns on the back of his head, and spiked shoulder pads.
Disturbed by a nuclear test in the Middle East, Yonggary tunneled to South Korea, generating earthquakes in his wake. He surfaced at Panmunjom and traveled to Seoul, dispatching a tank column along the way. in search of gasoline and oil, his favorite foods. After rampaging through the capital, he drank oil at a refinery, observed by young Icho. The boy closed the valves to shut off the flow of oil, sending the monster into a frenzy. His tail destroyed one tank and released a cloud of white powder which weakened him. Icho returned to the laboratory of scientist Illoo Nami with his observations. Illoo convinced the government to postpone a missile attack and lure Yonggary to a less populated area. Later, he determined that the powder that injured the monster was a precipitate of ammonia.
Yonggary was unmoved by the military's enticement of burning oil, but Icho goaded him forward using a light ray invented by Illo. The scientist dropped the ammonia precipitate on the monster just before the missiles struck. The monster collapsed, but survived. Illo refined his formula while Icho tried the light ray on Yonggary again. To the boy's delight, the monster awakened and began to dance to a silent tune. Another missile barrage failed to stop him, and he sliced a fleeing Jeep in half with a laser from his horn. Next he faced a squadron of fighter jets, downing all but one of the planes. As the surviving craft retreatd, Illoo entered the fray in another helicopter. He doused Yonggary with more precipitate while staying beyond the range of his flame. Thrashing in pain, the monster toppled into a nearby river and died, bleeding from his anus. Icho felt pity for Yonggary in his final moments, and he and his family questioned whether the monster really meant to harm humanity.
In this incarnation, Yonggary is a 200-million-year-old giant dinosaur, approximately 50 times the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex, that is reanimated by Galaxion aliens set upon taking over Earth. Upon reanimation, the aliens use Yonggary to attack several cities and cause destruction via controlling him with a diamond, known as the 'daemon,' in his forehead. When the military manages to break Yonggary free from the aliens' control over him by damaging the daemon and Yonggary demonstrates his non-hostile nature by protecting humans from a collapsing building, the aliens send their personal monster, Cycor, to battle Yonggary, now supported by the military. Yonggary eventually defeats Cykor and the aliens retreat. The next day, the military transports Yonggary to an island where he can adjust to the modern age.
The original Yonggary is impervious to tank shells, missiles from fighter jets, and long-range missiles.
In Reptilian, Yonggary is immensely durable, able to shrug off attacks from jet fighters and airborne soldiers. His durability also granted him great strength, enough to even keep a very large skyscraper from collapsing onto the ground below.
In Yongary, Monster from the Deep, Yonggary can breathe a concentrated stream of flame from his mouth, sufficient to set tanks on fire and destroy fighter jets. Its range is limited, as he was unable to shoot down a helicopter hovering overhead. The Reptilian Yonggary was seen to breathe fire breath instead of fireballs during a TV commercial of a tied-up chicken nugget.
In Reptilian, Yonggary displayed the ability to produce fireballs from his mouth. It is unknown how many he can fire at any one time, but they possessed enough force to destroy jets and blow limbs off of Cycor.
In his debut film, Yonggary was able to fire a thin yellow beam from his horn, capable of slicing Jeeps and fighter jets in half.
Within Reptilian, the Daemon appeared as a control device of the aliens for Yonggary. It enabled Yonggary to be teleported with electricity running on Yonggary's body, and emitted a light and an energy, which caused a pilot of a jet fighter to lose control and crash.
In Reptilian, Yongarry has a protective barrier that interferes with attempts to target him with missiles and similar weapons, causing most attacks to veer off course.
An anatomical illustration of Yonggary included on the Japanese DVD for Reptilian noted that he could launch his claws at Mach 3.5 as projectiles.
Near the end of Reptilian, the aliens noted that they should flee before Yonggary discovers his unspecified "true strength". It was also suspected that Yonggary was unaware of these powers, as the aliens were afraid of what he could do if he ever discovered what he was capable of.
The original Yonggary has one major weakness: a precipitate of ammonia. He was first exposed to the substance on accident while attacking an oil refinery, which caused him to itch violently. The scientist Illo Nami weaponized it by dropping it from a helicopter, which caused Yonggary to collapse but failed to kill him. A more refined ammonia precipitate, delivered with the same method, made him bleed violently from his anus, either rendering him unconscious (in the South Korean version) or killing him (in the American version).
- Main article: Yonggary/Gallery.
In other languages
In Reptilian, Yonggary sometimes emits an edited stock roar which dates back to the 1957 Universal Pictures films The Land Unknown and The Deadly Mantis. It was also used for King Kong in the 1976 remake and Toto in Gamera the Brave.
- Screenwriter Yun-sung Seo envisioned the original Yonggary as a single-celled organism from outer space mutated by radiation. However, this is never suggested in the film.
- The original Yonggary suit was constructed for $5,000 by Equis Productions co-founder Masao Yagi, who was heavily involved with the Showa Gamera films. Like many of Daiei's kaiju, the original Yonggary has glowing eyes which could open and close. Yonggary also has the same primary weapons as the two title characters in Gamera vs. Gyaos, released earlier that year: fire breath (Gamera) and a thin yellow beam which can slice cars and planes in half (Gyaos).
- The low weight of Yonggary in Reptilian corresponds closely to monsters from the Gamera series, and the descriptions of Yonggary's abilities on the anatomical illustration recorded in the film's Japanese DVD release were somewhat similar to those of Showa-era Gamera monsters; comparing his physical strength to real wrestlers', for instance. The illustration also states that Yonggary can launch his claws at Mach 3.5, which is Gamera's maximum flight speed in the Heisei trilogy.
- The partially-lost South Korean version of Yongary, Monster from the Deep implies that the monster survives his exposure to ammonia, with Yoo Young (Icho's original name) wishing that the world's scientists would find a way to launch Yonggary into space, allowing him to live peacefully on another planet. A rocket is visible in the final shot of the film, but is left unexplained in the English dub.
- The original Yonggary suit was modified and reused for the 1969 film Lady Hong.
- The original Yonggary's head makes a brief appearance in Pacific Rim Uprising, during the scene where Hermann Gottlieb examines PPDC records in search of a match for the image Mako Mori transmitted.
- Prior to making Reptilian, Shim Hyung-rae directed the 1993 film Young-gu and the Dinosaur Zuzu, whose titular monster strongly resembles the original Yonggary.
- An animated Yonggary features as a mascot with other animated monster characters for the snack brand Yonggari Chicken by Harim.
- The 1999 Yonggary's height varies between sources. A bonus feature included with the American DVD release of Reptilian states his height to be 500 meters, and the official Korean promotional site for the film says he is 150 meters (nearly 500 feet). However, the English version of the site instead calls him a "350 foot tall [...] monster," and the Japanese theater program for the film places him at 106 meters (about 350 feet). Furthermore, Yonggary's height is estimated in the film itself as "50 times the size of a T. rex". As the largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen currently known is just over 4 meters tall at the hip, this would place Yonggary's maximum height at around 200 meters.
- The 1999 Yonggary's weight is given as 170 metric tons on the Korean promotional site for Reptilian.
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