Vagabondâs Suzy, from K-pop star to K-drama darling
Bae Suzy on Filipino fans: I went to the Philippines quite often… They’ve waited for a long time for this series (Vagabond) to come out. So, I would like to thank them for their patience.
Lee Seunghee for Netflix
Vagabond’s Suzy, from K-pop star to K-drama darling
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2019 - 12:00am

‘As a Korean, I feel proud of the fact that Korean content is being so loved around the world and I feel like I should work harder. And I think that was possible because those who came before me worked so hard to open up more opportunities for us.’

SEOUL — K-pop star turned K-drama darling Bae Suzy said she has been to the Philippines “quite often” and very much aware of the Filipino fans’ long wait for her action series Vagabond.

The high-budget spy drama, which reportedly cost 25 billion Korean won (or roughly P1B) to make, finally world-premiered via Netflix on Sept. 20. In South Korea, the press had reported about its successful premiere drawing 1.78 million viewers based on data from Nielsen Korea.

Prior to the pilot episode, The Philippine STAR and other media from Southeast Asia flew to the South Korean capital to interview the 24-year-old actress, along with her leading man Lee Seung-gi. It’s their reunion project after their hit series Gu Family Book six years ago.

When asked for a message for her Pinoy fans, Suzy (who was still with her girl group Miss A when she came here in 2015) said, “I went to the Philippines quite often and I would like to ask for a little more patience from the Philippine fans. They’ve waited for a long time for this series to come out. So, I would like to thank them for their patience, and also for the series Vagabond, the spectacular action scenes are definitely something that they can expect for.”

In Vagabond, the South Korean star plays a secret agent who sets out to uncover a conspiracy.
Photos courtesy of Netflix

In Vagabond, now on its fourth episode on Netflix, Suzy plays the National Intelligence Service (NIS) operative Go Hae-ri, who is deployed to Morocco as a “punishment.” While there, she gets involved in a suspicious plane crash and meets a civilian working as a stuntman, Cha Dal-geon (Seung-gi), who lost a family member to the tragedy. They find themselves working together to uncover the truth about the incident, which from the first episodes, suggests a grand conspiracy that might involve political figures, multinational companies and quite possibly, even family members of “crash victims.” Hae-ri hopes her undercover work will earn back the good graces of her higher-ups and lead to a reassignment to the NIS headquarters. As of Episode 4 (spoiler alert!), however, she fails to convince them.

In a separate presscon, Suzy said that when the role was offered to her, she was immediately intrigued because she never acted in an espionage-action project before. “I decided to join the project because I fell in love with Hae-ri’s character the moment I read the script,” she further said.

Suzy was also happy to star opposite Seung-gi, as well as excited to learn from director Yoo In-sik (Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim) and other co-stars. “Just like (how) Hae-ri’s character develops in the series, I hope that you will be able to see me grow and mature in terms of acting skills in the series as well.”

According to Vagabond director Yoo In-sik, Suzy joining the cast was like the icing on the cake. “Shooting action scenes can be very demanding physical work for female actors, but it seems that Suzy had her mind set on starring in an action film production. She was supportive of the project, saying she thought that it ‘would be fun,’ and it was thanks to her that the project really took off.”

For at least two months, Suzy trained in an action school to prepare for her action-packed drama.

For two to three months, Suzy prepared for her role by training almost daily in an action school and learning martial arts, stunts and gun-shooting skills. With high expectations for such a series, she said she embraced all the pressure that came with it. “I think such pressure is there in whatever project. I embraced it, and looked at the same direction with all the staff members for the past year or so to successfully complete shooting.”

Vagabond took almost a year to finish and saw filming in overseas locations like Lisbon, Portugal and Morocco.

It proved to be quite a challenging shoot for Suzy, but perhaps, it helped that she was working with Seung-gi again. During our roundtable interview, their friendship wasn’t hard to miss. When asked about some behind-the-scenes moments, they revealed that they bonded over dinner, coffee, some drinks and even carpet-buying while haggling for discounts in Morocco. All these, obviously, translated to an “improved” chemistry between the leads on-screen.

Director Yoo said, “They had great chemistry, perhaps because they had already built a relationship while filming Gu Family Book together. We all spent a lot of time together while filming abroad on location, and I was able to see that they were both very likable and down-to-earth. We had no issues, and all the actors got along fine, despite the long time we ended up spending together.”

He added, “I’d describe them as candid, wholesome young people who don’t put on any airs. When filming, the mood on set is determined not only by the crew, but by the personalities of the lead actors, too. And in that sense, both Lee Seung-gi and Suzy are very down-to-earth, determined and hard-working people. They managed to surprise me again and again.”

Suzy is reunited with Lee Seunggi in Vagabond. They first worked together six years ago in Gu Family Book.

Expect more from Suzy as the story progresses (with episodes streaming Fridays and Saturdays on Netflix). Yoo noted that the first half of the series is “a political action drama, while the second half focuses on Suzy’s character.”

Meanwhile, with the streaming giant’s global reach, The STAR asked for Suzy’s thoughts on being regarded as one of the “frontliners” of the Hallyu ­— the Korean pop culture wave that’s sweeping across and beyond Asia.

“I didn’t start off my career thinking of reaching the global stage. But then, I was thinking, if I work hard enough, then the chances and opportunities will present themselves, and Netflix and South Korean content is being loved around the world,” Suzy said.

“As a Korean, I feel proud of the fact that Korean contents are being so loved, and also I feel like I should work harder. And I think that was possible because those who came before me worked so hard to open up more opportunities for us,” she ended.

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