My Love From The Star actress Jun Ji-hyun confesses being big fan of Kingdom
Popular South Korean star Jun Ji-hyun, best known for playing lead roles in the hit K-dramas “My Love from the Star” and “Legend of the Blue Sea”, says as a fan of the Netflix zombie thriller series “Kingdom”, it was an honour to feature in the upcoming prequel “Ashin of the North”. The actor, whose English name is Gianna Jun, featured briefly at the end of season two of “Kingdom” as a mysterious warrior.
Slated to arrive on Netflix this Friday, the official logline of the 92 minute-long series reads: Tragedy, betrayal and a mysterious discovery fuel a woman’s vengeance for the loss of her tribe and her family. Jun, who plays the titular warrior in the special episode, said she was ready “in terms of the physique or the stamina of the character” before she started playing the role of Ashin.
The challenge, however, was to interpret her motivations. “I tried to focus mostly on how to interpret the personal anguish and hurt, which we in Korean refer to as ‘Han’ and how to interpret that emotion into wanting to avenge for the whole land of Joseon,” she said in a global press conference from Seoul, also attended by PTI from India.
Adapted from the webcomic series “The Kingdom of the Gods”, which was authored by Kim Eun-hee and drawn by Yang Kyung-il, the original drama is a fictional show set in the medieval Korean dynastic kingdom of Joseon. Starring Ju Ji-hoon, Bae Doo-na, Kim Sang-ho, and Kim Sung-kyu, “Kingdom” masterfully uses the zombie pandemic as a storytelling device to explore the universal themes of politics, power dynamics and corruption.
The prequel episode will reveal the secrets surrounding the resurrection plant, a rare purple flower with the ability to revive the dead but those who are brought back to life turn into bloodthirsty, flesh-eating monsters. The plant is central to the story of “Kingdom” as it is responsible for starting the plague in the medieval Joseon era that began in 1392.
Jun, 39, said Ashin is a woman who knows the secret of the resurrection plant and certain scenes in the special episode hint at that fact. “Every time I was shooting those scenes, I felt like that was really penetrating through the entire ‘Kingdom’ series. So as a fan myself, I really enjoyed shooting those scenes and I really got chills down my spine in those particular scenes,” she said.
The actor said she was not scared of the actors dressed as zombies and was keen to meet them face to face. “When I got there on the set, I realised just how much trouble all of the actors were going through in order to present themselves as convincing zombies. And I don’t know if I can say this, but I begged them for pictures as well. So I was able to take pictures with zombie actors and really brag about it to my friends and family.”
“Kingdom” is created and written by Kim Eun-hee. Kim Seong-hun has returned to direct “Ashin of the North”, after helming season one and collaborating with Park In-je on season two. Jun said she loves “Kingdom”, an internationally popular series from South Korea, as it does not depend on star power but on “an immaculate script, amazing direction, and fascinating art”.
“‘Kingdom’ can be referred to as a total or comprehensive art in its own form. And it’s truly an honour and it brings me great joy to think that something like ‘Kingdom’ was created in Korea and is brought to the entire world,” she added. As someone who came to the beloved series at a later date, Jun said there was a lot of “positive pressure” while working on the show.
“I didn’t want to make it look like I was just kind of joining and enjoying the ride that was propelled by what was already a great show before I joined. I really tried to focus more on bringing everything I had into the series.”
Ashin is a descendant of a tribe residing in a northern border town of Korea and has vowed revenge for the loss of her loved ones. She clashes with Park Byung-eun’s Min Chi-rok, who made a lasting impression in “Kingdom” season two as the head of the Royal Commandery.
Actor Park, who has previously worked with Jun in the 2015 espionage action movie “Assassination”, said it was great to reunite with her on “Ashin of the North”. As a seasoned fishing enthusiast, he caught different types of fish for the actor and the team of the show.
He described his character as someone who is ready to give his all for the nation. “In this special episode, I try to focus more on the relationship between him and Ashin and also the relationship with the resurrection plant and how all of that ends up unfolding into this outbreak of zombies, of this disease of the undead into the land of Joseon,” he said.
The 44-year-old actor said when they worked on the movie, there was a “bit of awkwardness” between them, but they were looking forward to working side by side on the special episode.
“I think she’s an amazing actress. It’s such an honour and joy to be working alongside her at such a wonderful piece of work that an amazing director and writer have created together and also with an amazing and talented crew.”