Monday, August 22, 2011

EXPLOSION OF GENUINE ACTION CHARISMA - in-depth interview with Sector 7's Ha Ji Won

[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.

 Whether she’s among the guys, or confronting the monster, she’s never intimidated nor easily shoved aside. She is ‘warrior girl’ Cha Hae Joon, by Ha Ji Won.

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)

 Ha Ji Won appears in nearly every scene in [Sector 7]. No matter how you see it, this movie belongs to Ha Ji Won, for Ha Ji Won, by Ha Ji Won.

For 7 months, Ha Ji Won did everything she can, for Cha Hae Joon.
For the combination with computer graphics, a green screen wraps around a filming set where Ha Ji Won carried out bike stunts by herself.

After filming [Sector 7], came drama [Secret Garden]. 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].

“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)

 At the filming location (above) with Oh Ji Ho, Director Kim Ji Hoon and Ha Ji Won; at the press conference (below) with Ahn Sung Ki, Ha Ji Won, Oh Ji Ho, Park Chul Min.

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 movie). 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)

 Written by movie journalist Park Hye Eun, layout by Naver Movies


  1. I enjoyed reading this interview. The way she answered all questions reflect her high IQ and intelligence. An A++ actress. She is blessed with beauty and brain + in and out good characters. God bless HJW

  2. Thanks to our dearest Admin for this very special interview.. To our dearest Ha Ji Won sshi, what more to say?? She's truely AMAZING!!! :-D

    *sharon simbulan**

  3. AY team.. thanks for this... really appreciate it and also to people who researched for it... THANKS!

    Yah i agree.. HJWshiii is an A+++ actress. Beauty and brains..

    wahhh. cant wait for the melo HJW... Who will she partner this time... waiting is killing me... :) (forgot where i read it but she talks about doing melo/drama and settling down after this 2 movies, S7 & Korea)

  4. I'm speechless, thank you so much to Goddess of Beauty and Talented Jiwonie for her effort in Sector 7. She is a super grade actress from Korea. After her rugged movie Korea, I'm yearning to see her falling in love again. I miss her dainty, pretty and cute character role.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful pc of news.

  5. Wonder woman of Sector 7 only HJW can deliver!

    I have a strong feeling that pretty Ha Ji Won is seeing someone special, her beau right now but she wont tell...haha

  6. Hi!This is kinda irrelevant (i think)... but may i request for an English translation for this video... Thank you! ^_^

  7. She's not only a great actress, but very kind and genuine. You don't find many actresses like that. I hope to see this film whenever it decides to make it's way to the 50th State of the United States. :)

  8. yes i agree she smart,what i proud to her is because she know how to manage her body and mental..she can challenge her self at many roll..i heard jiwon unnie has a weak chochlea(jae suk in family outing reveal) how she can balance when do motorcyle bike..she can fight with her frightened..i like her attitude..

  9. that's right.. ha ji won is really an intelligent woman.. that's why there's a lot of people admire her a lot...

  10. nice interview.. she is really pretty cool... and i like the title.. "EXPLOSION OF GENUINE ACTION CHARISMA"

  11. thanks for translating!!!!its a lot of information about jiwonies sobrang bucy sa dapat lng pahinga ka muna.kc grabe na pagod mo...