The Amazing Hae Joon-ie
translation for The Amazing Hae Joon-ie (= Ha Ji Won unnie) is finally completed~ (^^) (_ _);
Written by movie journalist Park Hye Eun, layout by Naver Movies
[Sector 7] is a movie that belongs to Ha Ji Won, for Ha Ji Won, by Ha Ji Won. And the girl knows it too. A movie that had been one of Ha Ji Won’s goals, as she climbed up the drillship of [Sector 7]. This ”Strongest Lady to the Max’, never been seen before in Korean movies. How she has a face-off with a monster as she stands on the drillship, an island towering above the vast sea, like a precipitous cliff above nothingness, above all expectations that all audience have of her. “That woman will definitely destroy that monster!” To become the warrior girl Cha Hae Joon, Ha Ji Won said “I did everything I could”. Just looking at her wearing her loose-fitting drillship clothes, one figures as much. She spent 7 months to train her body, earn a biking license and become a certified scuba diver, to convince viewers that even her muscles are firmer than men. She’s amazing? This, is just the beginning.
Interview with Ha Ji Won in Sector 7
“I fell in love with the idea of a ‘warrior girl’ just by listening to it”
Q: I heard that the press conference was the first time you watched [Sector 7] on the big screen. How do you feel, being the lead of Korea’s very first ‘warrior girl’ action 3D blockbuster?
A: I don’t know how the other actors feel, but personally when I watch my movies for the first time, I don’t have a sense of judgement – ‘How was my acting, how was the movie…’ I’m not in the right mind to judge it. I guess it’s because I’m too nervous, so it’s as if my head goes “ding~” (and nothing else), I think I’m the only one feeling this way. I watched it first during the press conference, and watched it the second time during the VIP preview. It was only then did I really see the details of the monster. (While watching for the 2nd time) During the press preview, I felt regretful about certain technical aspects of the movie. Because the movie previews were screened before the latter half post-production was perfectly finished, I felt that there were some inadequacies regarding the sound and 3D effects of the monster. When the post-production is finally finished and screened to audiences, it will probably be a more complete 3D movie for everyone.
(for the 2 images above and below) [Haeundae], [My Love By My Side], [Secret Garden] and [Sector 7]. In the past 2 years, Ha Ji Won really ran full-steam without stopping. And now, she’s practicing hard as table-tennis player Hyun Jung Hwa in movie [Korea] (working title). ‘Human Energizer’ – a nickname specially made for Ha Ji Won.
Q: Although the audience met ‘Gil Ra Im’ in [Secret Garden] (2010) before warrior girl ‘Cha Hae Joon’ in [Sector 7], I heard that you actually filmed [Sector 7] first.
A: Yeah. To put them in order, I filmed [Haeundae] (2009), then [My Love By My Side] (2009), followed by [Sector 7], before going to the filming location of [Secret Garden]. My schedule was so tight that at the last night of filming for [Sector 7], production staff from [Secret Garden] came directly to the set to fetch me. I realised they had all been waiting for my filming schedule to end. (laughs)
Among all these works, the first that was discussed about was actually [Sector 7]. Discussions for [Sector 7] started even before discussions for [Haeundae]. At that time, there wasn’t even a scenario (script). Not even plans about it being a 3D movie. There is actually a [Sector 7] drillship located south of Jeju Island, and it was not used for a long time. Although in existence, in this new and unfamiliar place, it was a story about the crew of the drillship battling with an unidentified creature. With a warrior girl as the main lead. Oh~ A warrior girl character rarely found in Korea! Just hearing this setting and I thought, “She’s cool”.
Q: [Sector 7] is a movie for Ha Ji Won, it is a film by Ha Ji Won. Because this is a movie which you did everything you could, to present to us the scenes of how lead Cha Hae Joon fights the monster.
A: Because this is a blockbuster that costs over 10 billion won, and that it is the very first actual 3D film ever made (in Korea). What’s more, in the later half (where she fights with the monster), the female character has to present the next 30 minutes of the movie without a single dialogue. The character must have strength and energy to do that. Thus I really exerted great effort in it. Personally, I prepared this for 7 months. Whatever I could do, I felt I really did all I could.
Q: What kind of character had you wanted Cha Ha Joon to be?
A: Ambitiously, I wanted her to be ‘a character that never been seen before in Korean movies’. A really strong woman. When she stands right before the monster, I wanted to her to be a totally undaunted, cool and strong character. You know, like, a scene where the tension between the monster and the human being is so intense almost to the point where everything will snap. I wanted to portray that to the audience. It’s not just in Hollywood where you can find women fighting with monsters. She must absolutely not be portrayed with one bit of vulnerability or weakness, but must be a very strong woman – that was the only conviction I held to create this character.
Director Kim Ji Hoon also requested the same, saying, “If Hae Joonie doesn’t leave an impression of strength, it’s unacceptable.” After I was cast for the movie, my head was filled with thoughts only of Hae Joonie. So the script had words like “Hae Joon the bike-rider”? Then naturally Ha Ji Won had to ride a bike as well. (laughs) I couldn’t even think of thoughts like ‘But what happens if bike-riding was difficult?’ I just do it. In 7 months, I drew up a schedule by myself, on the “Making of Cha Hae Joon’. Not even 1 minute was wasted. Everything was devoted to making Cha Hae Joon. Oh sheesh… no one even told me to do all these, I just invited trouble onto myself! (super-laughs) (*rofl*)
Q: Care to share some insider tips from your “Making of Cha Hae Joon” Project?
A: Firstly, you have to train your body. So I drew up an exercise plan. Initially I was very ambitious. To make the body healthy and buff, I wanted to be like the guys on the drillship, and have really big muscles. (laughs) Here’s how the schedule of each day was like: After waking up in the morning, I will do weight training, and then I’ll swim, do pilates, and in the afternoon I’ll do weight training again. I wanted to do weight training day and night but my trainer said “no way”, but I rebelliously did it anyway. So that was what I did initially. Of course, this (way of training) couldn’t last for long. (laughs) My muscles were suffering a lot so weight training was reduced to once a day.
Instead, I did other forms of exercises. So in one day, I will do weight training, then play tennis, swim, and scuba dive. The next day, I will do weight training, pilates, and bike-riding. And the next day, weight training again… (laughs) My schedule was planned around this, until it’s time to eat. If I had lost my self-control, I could end up drinking at night, which would result in waking up late in the morning, and then not exercising. If so, I could lose the character of Hae Joon too. I couldn’t do that.
Q: So you literally spent 7 months having a life just on muscle-making?
A: Yeah. (laughs) I think I had only one glass of beer with really close unnies (older girlfriends) during that time? Then one day I couldn’t stand the schedule I drew up for myself. That day I kept thinking, “Why did I make this schedule to tire myself out so much?” and then I kind of ‘loosened’ up my schedule. (laughs) Muscles should be rested for two days per week so I rested during the weekend. I developed a ‘know-how’ (knowledge) over time. So during the weekends, I changed my schedule and I just did light workouts. (laughs)
Q: In [Sector 7], there are so few scenes where Ha Ji won did not appear in, that these scenes can be counted on our fingers. These 5 months you have literally ‘lived’ at the filming set, what were the hardest things you experienced?
A: Because it is a 3D movie, so most of the filming was done at the ‘green screen’ set. There were also some outdoor filming opportunities, giving us a breather, but since most of the time we filmed indoors, I developed strange symptoms. There was one day when I felt that my chest was going to explode. It was something like a strong desire to speed away. When I could get 3 days of rest in the midst of filming, I would ride my motorbike to the sea, so that I could scuba dive. Though I lived like (Sector 7 character) Cha Hae Joon during my rest days, I think if I didn’t do that I would go crazy. (laughs)
“When standing right in front of the monster, I’m a warrior girl who can never be shoved aside. That was my goal.”
Q: Although you got your scuba diving certification because of [Sector 7], but aren’t the actual scuba diving scenes in the movie produced by computer graphics? I heard that they weren’t actual scenes shot in the water.
A: Yeah. I knew that was how it would be filmed. Oh well, it’s not as if someone instructed me to do it * …. (laughs)
* i.e. Ha Ji Won went to learn scuba-diving on her own accord
Hae Joon is in a drillship that rises from the sea, so if I don’t know anything about the sea, I don’t think I can focus on the role of Hae Joon. Also, it may be possible that there could be last-minute action scenes filmed in the sea too. Although it wasn’t a filming requirement, I did it to immerse (pun not intended ^^) in the character of Hae Joon, and I’m really proud of myself. The sea is so beautiful. It feels almost like the universe. I’m totally in love with it. Thanks to Hae Joon, I found a very great hobby.
Also scuba-diving helped in training my body for Hae Joon’s character. Anyway Hae Joonie has dark, tan skin, I would have had to go for artificial tanning otherwise. However, the effect of tanning by a machine and genuine tanning by the sun feels different. Scuba diving enabled me to tan, enjoy the sea, and become Hae Joonie. It was great.
A: Yeah. I have a driver’s licence already, so for the bike licence, I attended classes, took bike lessons and I actually passed the test in my first attempt! (laughs) After learning it, I find it very interesting. When I passed the test, people around me gave me a standing ovation, including the teachers. (laughs) They said it was rare for female candidates to pass the test in the first attempt. The bike tour I took also helped a lot for my biking expertise. After experiencing all kinds of hardship (‘산전수전’, lit. ‘struggles with the mountains and the water’) during the bike tour, now during an emergency my body will react (before my head) and grasp the bike handles first.
Q: Were there many scenes where you rode the bike yourself?
A: Offscreen, I bike a lot too. I sped on my bike while filming scenes in heavy rain in front of the green screen (for CG effects) at the Yangsoori outdoor filming set. People say that it’s ‘lunacy’ to bike on a rainy road. I didn’t know that while I was filming. I only heard about that after filming was finished. While filming, they said “It’s dangerous” at most, but nobody mentioned it was “lunacy”! (laughs) Everyday while on the way to the filming set, I always prayed in the car before I alighted. I prayed,”Please don’t let me get into an accident today, please save me.” (laughs) Everytime I went round a curve, I lose my senses to the point that I get dizzy. But of course under my clothes I wear protective gear.
Q: Besides the protective gear under your clothes, weren’t there any external safety equipment?
A: No there weren’t. It was really scary, but still, it was interesting. There was once when I got pinned under the bike. I’m not sure when I just suddenly became ambitious and “wanted to ride the bike well”. To tell the truth, I had made a promise to director Kim Ji Hoon that “I will never ever be too ambitious”. When the director watched the monitor indoors and watch me performing my bike scenes, he said he was so worried to the extent that he couldn’t breathe properly.
There was a day when we had to film a scene where the monster pushes Hae Joonie’s bike. Due to the monstor’s push, I had to lose my balance and then escape from my reeling bike, and from the (director’s) monitor, Hae Joonie also has to turn and give a glance to the monstor in a very cool way. At the moment (during filming) when I turned around, my bike was already speeding towards a wall. During this split second when I looked back before looking front, I suddenly find the wall right in front of me. Due to the sharp bend and slippery surface, I had been overturned on my bike. The director was very shocked and couldn’t speak. Again, this was how I realised I really shouldn’t be too ambitious. (laughs)
Q: That scene didn’t end up in the movie, did it?
A: Yes it did! Since it was all filmed already anyway, even if he was worried. (laughs) I wasn’t badly injured, just a little – like how my ankle is a little twisted? (super-laughs) Presently I’m filming [Korea] (working title) where I’m acting as a table-tennis player (Hyun Jung Hwa). To have to resume sports now, my past injuries are all exposed. So while I’m doing sports and filming, I’m also receiving rehab treatment at the same time.
Q: It’s not just simply about Ha Ji Won performing action scenes in [Sector 7]. There is a big outpouring of praise for you about it currently.
A: Throughout this interview, all the many good words you said really gives me much strength. I had invested much time and effort in this character, so of course I’m happy to be praised.
Q: There are a variety of warrior girl characters overseas. Did you refer to any of their works?
A: I didn’t specifically refer to a single character. I watched the [Alien] series. Although there were videos containing free visual storyboards describing the movements of the [Sector 7] characters, I couldn’t feel the details required when I face the monster. So for those feelings, I refered to the scenes where the alien confronts Sigourney Weaver, how she reacts when the monster moves. But I can’t ‘follow’ any character, that doesn’t seem to match Hae Joon at all.
Q: Some have called you ‘Korea’s Angelina Jolie’ or ‘Korea’s Sigourney Weaver’. Compared to Hae Joon, Jolie is too feminine, while Weaver seems too manly. How would you want Hae Joon to be recognized as?
A: She was acted with just one image in mind. When she faces the monster, from head to toe she must portray an image of a woman who is unshakable and will not back off – this was how I imagined her during my acting. The way she stands, the angle of her head, the movements of her feet, the way she walks etc and I also aimed to portray how how she tries to appear stronger and bigger in front of her male seniors. During rehearsals, I also looked at the monitor many times to see my portrayal of those characteristics.
After filming [Sector 7] (above), came drama [Secret Garden] (below). After being rigorously trained in [Sector 7], it’s almost as if Ha Ji Won’s stunt scenes were being replayed by stuntwoman Gil Ra Im in [Secret Garden].
A: The writer and director (of Secret Garden) liked me a lot. I already formed my muscles, know how to ride a bike, was a drillship crew member thus was very natural and comfortable like those gruff guys on the drillship. (laughs) That’s why in the drama script, scenes where I used guns and rode on bikes were intentionally added in specially for me.
“Even if they are roles that others try to avoid, these roles stir my heart”
Q: The filming of [Sector 7] was completed with much suffering. Personally, which scene were you most satisfied with?
A: The scene where I fight with the monster, at the later half of the movie. I hope the scene where I sped on the bike would turn out well. It had been really frightening and difficult, but it was worth it. In the (bike) scenes which were slippery, a stuntwoman acted instead of me, and in Korea, only 3 could do that. It was really dangerous. Although this profession is this dangerous, since we did it together it felt great. At the actual filming set, almost all the speeding and turning scenes were done by me. I also did many wire scenes. I started doing wire scenes since drama [Damo] (2003). Well, I guess because I started way earlier, it’s quicker for me to do wire scenes directly than having the martial arts team do it with a substitute for me. (laughs)
Q: If we look at your filmography, you have acted in nearly every genre. From horror, melo (romance), drama, comedy, to action, you always seem to be finding something new to try.
A: Being the first to try out new genres, naturally there would be hesitation. But whether the results are good or not, to be able to take on a role that no one has attempted before, it stirs my heart. That’s why I guess I always end up doing these roles. I love that feeling, even if they are roles that others try to avoid, these roles stir my heart.
Q: Did you know that they were roles that other actresses avoided? (laughs)
A: I did. (laughs) But these roles still excite me, stirring my heart, I couldn’t help it.
Q: Ha Ji Won is recognized as one of the “actresses with ticket power’ in the Korean film industry. If it’s a film that Ha Ji Won appeared in, it is expected that the movie would be above average, i.e. viewers believe you aren’t a ‘weak’ actress. Likewise, expectations of [Sector 7] on Ha Ji Won is equally high as the 3D monster. Don’t you feel pressured by these expectations?
A: Is it really like that? Is that correct? When I participate in films where I’m the ‘lead’, of course there is pressure. But I never placed more effort, or less effort, into acting based on the roles I get, I don’t do ‘calculated acting’ like this. People around me would say “You’re the lead of this movie, thus the movie will depend on you!” but whether it depends on me, or depends on all actors including me, the methods I use for acting doesn’t change accordingly. I just try to bring the character alive. Thus, things like “Because I’m the lead thus I’m more pressured, thus I have to work harder”, I don’t think like this. Frankly, you can’t film while thinking about the pressure. (laughs) Despite the pressures, after I have done my best, and viewers give me their recognition, love, and faith in me, this is how I continue to try new films, and be able to attempt films of bigger scale. Earlier when you mentioned that people “watch movies where Ha Ji Won appears” – of what people say, this one brings the most pressure. (laughs) It makes me feel that I must really do the movie well…
Ha Ji Won’s scenes from [Sector 7] (above) and in the press conference (below). After completing her struggle with the monster, this ‘actress who doesn’t rest’ shall be working hard for [Korea], due to be released by Chuseok this year.
Q: During the press conference, there had been a sudden incident. Ha Ji Won, you suddenly cried in front of everyone. I would like to know how much suffering you had endured, how much anticipation and pressure there must have been, to the extent that our ‘Almighty Ha Ji Won’ had to reveal her tears.
A: Wah hahaha! That incident. Can I make a confession? Though I’ve acted in really a lot of strong characters, I’m very easily frightened. Because I get frightened, I’m a person who can’t even go on rides in amusement parks. And I’m weak in (physical) strength. Till now, I haven’t won arm-wrestling before, not even once. However my mental endurance, mental fitness seems pretty good. While filming [Sector 7], frankly I went through a lot of suffering mentally. But I endured it thanks to my seniors and colleagues. They’re always treating me well, making me laugh. Now that I can wear pretty clothes and sit in the spotlight with my colleagues in the press conference, memories come back to me unexpectedly. Ah, I wouldn’t have been able to sit here if not for these people, because of thoughts like that, I cried! (laughs)
Q: One point that’s unique about [Sector 7] is that although it’s a movie by Ha Ji Won, there’s totally no melo (romantic) emotions involved. I guess it’s a first for you?
A: Yeah, this is the first. That’s ‘cos Hae Joonie isn’t a person, she’s a child who loves oil. (laughs) Me too, when I’m filming, I prefer works involving melo emotions. It’s interesting. I gotta fall in love next time (in the next work). To have a love that’s not typical, that’s special.
Q: But in your next work you’re table tennis legend ‘Hyun Jung Hwa’ in movie [Korea] (working title).
A: Ah, that’s right. Then after completing [Korea], I’ll have a little rest, and then I’ll do that. (laughs)
Love this photo~^^*
A similar Naver Movies interview of That Man can be found here…
You’re asking why? ‘Cos he isn’t a person whom you can just ignore, oh no never, Mr Bin! *rofl*