Despite being one of the most well-known faces in Asia, acting never gets easier for South Korean superstar Jun Ji-hyun. “I feel like I climbed the mountain 1,000 times,” she says about filming her latest drama series, Jirisan.
Jun plays Seo Yi-gang, a mountain ranger at Jirisan, a mountain four hours south of central Seoul. Jun and her team of rangers are responsible for search and rescue while also tackling mysterious events.
The 40-year-old has fronted dozens of beauty and fashion campaigns for brands including Alexander McQueen and Gucci.
Jun, best known for her hit 2001 film My Sassy Girl and the 2014 drama My Love From the Star, spoke about Jirisan, whether she’ll join a social media platform like TikTok and being one of the few Korean actresses in their 40s capable of playing the female lead in a show.
Jun promoting the film Windstruck in 2004 in Tokyo, Photo: Getty Images
What was the most challenging scene in Jirisan to film?
According to the script, there [is a scene] with rain, then fire. I thought, “What’s the next natural disaster?” When I received a script every day, I thought, “What comes after the fire? Snow?!” I was scared whenever I received a script. We [also] filmed a fire scene inside the set for several days. My eyes were burning, and black water came out of my nose whenever I showered at night.
I read a Korean article which said that, despite a relatively low rating for Jirisan, you are one of a handful of actresses in their 40s who are able to lead a genre series.
Really? [laughs] I’ve only seen negative press coverage these days.
Do you think there is more room for female creators and actors in Korean cinema compared to the past?
Two decades ago, not really. But now, there are many series with female lead characters.
Do you feel much pressure when choosing your next project?
Not really. Not every film I star in will be a success. But I have never chosen a project thinking it’d tank. So I pick the next movie and move forward. In line with that, I had My Sassy Girl in my 20s, Cheon Song-yi [her character in My Love From the Star] in my 30s, and Seo Yi-gang in my 40s.
I am just performing roles that fit my age so there is no big pressure on that.
Jun at the launch of luxury sunglasses designer Gentle Monster in 2019 in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Getty Images
Have you thought about being active on social media platforms like Tiktok or Instagram?
I enjoy them, but don’t think I’m specialised in that field, so it would be difficult for me to give it a try. But I try to stay informed.
What’s your goal as an actor?
Instead of having a specific goal as an actor, I want to age well, as a person. Of course, I start wanting more whenever I see recent hits. It’d be a lie to say I am not tempted by potential hits, but as long as I take my time to prepare myself and wait, I am optimistic that I’ll find good projects.
Can you elaborate on what you mean by ageing well?
I think ageing well means that my mind is at peace at the moment. Tomorrow is important. But I think as long as your heart is at peace, it reflects on your face. Also, I have kids, and they have their happiness. I have my own happiness, and furthermore, my family and people around me have their own happiness.
It varies. But for me, I think ageing well is nothing special but being comfortable and happy with where I am right now and spending time feeling happy.Internet Explorer Channel Network