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Korean Wave

Must-watch: K-drama 'Jirisan' sets record-breaking premiere week

Seph Asong - Philstar.com
Must-watch: K-drama 'Jirisan' sets record-breaking premiere week
Ju Ji-hoon and Gianna Jun in 'Jirisan'
iQiyi/Released

MANILA, Philippines — Mountaineering action drama “Jirisan” is one of the most anticipated K-drama series to land this second half of 2021, securing the highest premiere ratings of any weekend drama in the history of tvN. 

The K-drama’s pilot episode was released globally last October 23 through iQiyi and has been steadily building momentum of excitement and good reviews, all thanks to a powerhouse team behind it, and we’re not just talking about its lead stars Jun Ji-hyun and Joo Ji-hoon, who are two of South Korea’s highest-paid award-winning actors.

“Jirisan” was dubbed as the “golden lineup” as it also includes other notable stars such as Oh Jung-se (“It’s Okay Not to Be Okay”), Sung Dong-il (“Reply 1988, “Reply 1994”), and Go Min-si (“The Witch”), and was directed by Lee Eung-bok, prominently known for the mega-popular “Descendants of the Sun.”

In addition, the main theme song “Mount Jiri” was sung by no other than BTS’ Jin, and joined by Taeyeon (who performed the OST for “Hotel del Luna”), Kim Jong-wan (who performed the OST for “Weightlifting Fairy”), and Gaho (who performed the OST for “Itaewon Class”) for the first original soundtrack of the series. These songs are yet to be released globally on YouTube and other streaming platforms. 

 

 

With such blockbuster credentials, it’s no surprise that “Jirisan” will soon be on everyone’s binge-watch list. Here are four reasons why this iQiyi original K-series will surely live up to its reputation:

It was set against the idyllic backdrop of Jirisan National Park

You would have figured out by now that the series was named after mount Jiri located in the Southern part of Korea. A little-known fact is that mount Jiri is the second-tallest mountain in Korea after Jeju island’s Hallasan mountain. 

With its heart-thumping action scenes paired with spectacular mountain scenery, “Jirisan” promises to immerse the audience into the epic adventures and perils of the rangers who climb through the mysterious and unchartered regions of mount Jiri, rescuing lost trekkers and survivors. 

Hiking is an immensely popular activity all over the world, as such, it became a staple theme in K-dramas, but no other K-drama has ever depicted such an intense and mesmerizing tale that focuses on a mountain adventure than “Jirisan.” 

Korea is covered almost entirely with mountains, whose striking morning hues have earned them the moniker “blue mountains,” due to their vastness and otherworldly landscapes. 

So, for those who are into hiking and breathtaking-action television series, you’ve got yourself a treat. 

You’ll never get enough of Jun Ji-hyun 

Her name alone is a showstopper. She is an iconic and all-time favorite actress whose domestic and international success stood the test of time. At 39, Jun Ji-hyun has achieved countless accolades from a long list of successful movies and television shows that earned her the title of “The Nation’s First Love.” 

Jun, who appeared earlier this year in Netflix’s standalone prequel of “Kingdom,” subtitled “Ashin of the North,” takes on the role of veteran national park ranger Seo Yi-gang, who becomes the partner of rookie ranger Kang Hyun-jo, portrayed by Joo Ji-hoon. 

Jun’s character has a lot of intricacies, which she will expertly unravel as the show progresses. Unlike her well-known rom-com characters, she showcases a new side of strength and skill in “Jirisan.”

Speaking of her role during an APAC press conference organized by iQiyi, Jun said: “I accepted the role because I wished to play a strong woman, females today are stronger in character. I never thought I would play a park ranger. To me, this is a brand new experience.”

Jun also felt that the entire filming process wasn’t as tough as she thought it would be, “I didn’t feel exceptionally tired or cold, I was very happy throughout the filming process. As I prepared well in mountaineering gear, there were not many difficulties,” she added. 

It’s not surprising that Jun is able to meet the high physical demands of this new project as she has rightfully proven so, time and time again. In case anyone might have forgotten, Jun starred in her 2009 international debut film “Blood: The Last Vampire” as the warrior vampire Saya, who spent a considerable time cutting other vampires and monsters into pieces with her samurai sword throughout the film. Then, there’s the 2015 espionage-themed “Assassination,” where Jun played the character of a ruthless female assassin. 

It features notable personalities from other popular K-dramas

You may call it K-drama-verse as most cast members have worked with one another, at some point. Both Jun Ji-hyun and Joo Ji-hoon previously acted in Netflix’s “Kingdom.” Joo Ji-hoon as crown prince Lee Chang in seasons 1 and 2, while Jun Ji-hyun as Ashin in its prequel. Both actors have also worked with Kim Eun-hee, who wrote the screenplays for “Kingdom” and “Jirisan.” 

To boot, fans will see other familiar faces like Jo Han-cheol, who was in another popular tvN show, “Hometown Cha-cha-cha,” Go Min-si who starred in “Sweet Home,” and Jeon Seok-ho, who coincidentally was in “Kingdom” as well. 

The first episode will leave you wanting more

In its opening episode, “Jirisan” manages to heighten the tension through its mountain-face adventure sequences, following the golden period search and rescue mission.

The general guideline in such rescue operations states that chances of survival are greatly reduced after the golden period, which became the focal point of how the park rangers have bravely weathered mount Jiri’s harsh environment and imminent danger, racing against the clock to save lives. 

Another important thing to note is that the audience will meet all the characters in high-pressure action scenarios during the first few episodes, so it may take a while to unpack their characters beyond the valiant facade. If anything, this will further contribute to how each character will be developed, especially how the story explored the burgeoning relationship between the characters of Jun Ji-hyun and Joo Ji-hoon. After all, K-dramas wouldn’t be what it is today without the ever-present clichés. 

The 16-episode “Jirisan” can be streamed via iQ.com on any device or by downloading the iQiyi app. 

K-DRAMA

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