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Entertainment

Nothing can stop Han So Hee in Netflix’s My Name

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Nothing can stop Han So Hee in Netflixâs My Name
From The World of the Married, the highest-rated cable drama in Korean TV history, where she first rose to fame playing a sultry and audacious mistress, Han So Hee now enters the world of action — and without any hesitation.
STAR / File

One of K-drama’s fastest-rising stars Han So Hee plays a woman who can’t be stopped in her quest to avenge her father’s death in Netflix’s My Name.

Yes, even if it meant having to fight for survival in a “savage” man’s world.

In the female-centric action series, So Hee is Jiwoo, a young woman who joins an organized crime syndicate and later on assumes a new identity to become a mole in the police force, while trying to ferret out the truth about her father’s passing.

During a virtual presscon attended by The STAR, the 26-year-old actress said, “Jiwoo is everything. That’s the kind of character she is. Jiwoo has to witness her father’s death at a very young age, and she has no choice but to go on this path. I feel for her, but at the same time, I admire her determination and the strength that she carries.”

From The World of the Married (2020), the highest-rated cable drama in Korean TV history, where she first rose to fame by making audiences’ blood boil as a sultry and audacious mistress, So Hee now enters the world of action — and without any hesitation.

Director Kim Jin Min, best-known for megging Netflix’s dark high school drama Extracurricular, said, “This is the story of someone seeking revenge. Han So Hee’s character meets all of these different characters while she walks the solemn path of getting revenge for her father’s death.”

When she was offered the lead role, the director recalled asking her two questions, “Do you want to do it or not? And are you going to practice? I told her that it will be a lot of responsibility and there is a chance she could get injured.” At the same time, he told her, the series “could be a great opportunity for her as well.”

Director Jin Min was grateful that the actress was all-in, doing more than she was asked for such as training at an action school earlier than her co-stars.

Disclosed veteran actor Park Hee Soon, who plays a gang leader who becomes Jiwoo’s mentor and father figure, “Han So Hee actually started training a month before the rest of us.”

She had to, as per director, 99-percent of the action was done by the actors themselves. These scenes were as real as they get, less reliant on computer graphics, and emotionally-charged.

So Hee said, “I would describe the action in My Name as that of risking their lives. The action scenes are very desperate. They are trying to protect their lives and survive.”

For her character, she had to train in different forms of martial arts. One technique was similar to the long-form, long-take sequences in the female-oriented actioner Atomic Blonde.

“So, I looked at different titles like Atomic Blonde and The Old Guard for inspiration,” So Hee said, referring to the Charlize Theron starrers that are also known for their hardcore fight scenes.

“The biggest challenge regarding action was hurting others. If I didn’t practice enough, I could hurt others and I really didn’t want that, so I practiced a lot to finish the series safely,” she added.

For all the badass action she got herself into in My Name, co-star Hee Soon said, “So Hee practiced a lot and gained 10 kilograms of muscle.”

So Hee reacted, “I exercised a lot and I ate what I wanted, so I gained 10 kilograms from the weight I was during The World of the Married,” musing, “I think I can do 30 sit-ups in one sitting. I’m learning kickboxing these days.”

Meanwhile, in a separate roundtable interview with The STAR, So Hee shared that what she learned about the acting craft after doing My Name was the importance of focus.

“I mean, I try to maintain a level of focus on set... whenever I’m working on different projects. But this time around, my character had to portray a lot of emotions through her bodily moves. So, when I lose a little bit of a focus, then somebody could get hurt. I had to maintain a level of focus the whole time, consistently,” she told The STAR.

Asked why people should watch her series, she said, “You must have seen a lot of action genre pieces. But then, not many of them are led by a female. That could be something of a unique charm of my series. And if you like the theme of revenge, then in the series, you can see how far one can go for the sake of it, how much you can get destroyed by it and how much you can go to achieve that revenge.”

Before So Hee’s first big break in The World of the Married, which incidentally is getting a Filipino adaptation on ABS-CBN, the actress was an arts student and then debuted on screen via music videos of K-pop idol groups.

Becoming one of the most in-demand among young Korean actors today, she recently topbilled the Netflix romantic-drama series Nevertheless, where she played an arts student stuck in a no-label relationship. In both above-mentioned series, her gorgeous looks are hard to ignore, but in My Name, she underwent a “transformation.”

“An actor as a profession is, in fact, a storyteller and (acting) deals with a lot of, you know, genres. And it is a great opportunity to grow as an actor, to take on a challenge to play something new, and to break away from the limitation that you put on yourself,” So Hee reflected.

“When I read the script of My Name, at first I thought that this is going to be something that will make me grow as an actor. I wanted to break the limitations of my previous images. I wanted to, in fact, visit the viewers with a completely different image from my previous roles. And that’s how I chose to be part of this project.”

My Name premieres on Netflix come Oct. 15.

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