We’re not just talking about her flawless skin and flourishing career. Since her small-screen debut in 1996 in the teen drama Adults Don’t Know, the actress has romanced some of Korea’s most popular and eligible actors, including Hyun Bin and Lee Seung-gi, on screen. In her latest period drama Empress Ki, Ha plays a girl who is caught in the middle of a tussle between the Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty and the King of Goryeo, played by Ji Chang-wook and Joo Jin-mo.
Yet, she says it actually took her some time to realise how lucky she was to be working with such good-looking men.
“To be honest, when I was young, I didn’t know that the actors I was working with were good-looking, until a lot of people around me told me that I was really lucky to be working with a lot of handsome actors,” the 36-year-old said during an interview to promote Empress Ki in Singapore. “But now, I definitely know (my onscreen partners) are good-looking!”
Even though she’s constantly surrounded by suave men, the Korean actress says it hasn’t affected her love life.
“It’s definitely good to (be with) someone who is good-looking,” she said, thoughtfully. “But in terms of my ideal type of men, it’s not the first thing I look out for, because I like guys who are humorous and fun to be with. That’s definitely the No 1 thing that I look out for in a partner. Looks are always second!”
Q: You played a man trapped in a woman’s body in the popular television drama Secret Garden. Now, you play a girl who pretends to be a man in the early episodes of Empress Ki. Have you wondered why you’re always cast as men?
A: I can’t be a man in real life, so the idea of playing a male character is really attractive to me. It’s really fun, and when I am on set, I tend to observe the men around me — the way they walk and the way they move their bodies. I must say it is a lot easier to play male characters, because I can be very comfortable. When I sit, I don’t have to close my legs all the time! (Laughs) All these things are little perks. So I wouldn’t mind, even if there are other roles that require me to play a man in the future. I love living in the fantasy of being a man.
Q: Your costume in Empress Ki looks really elaborate and heavy. Was it difficult to use the bathroom?
A: It was definitely not easy. I tried to eat and drink less, so I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom so many times. (Laughs) It’s not just the costume, the hairpiece was also really, really heavy, so moving about was actually really difficult. Whenever I used the bathroom, two of my stylists would follow me in, carry my costume and wait for me while I (was inside).
Q: What would you do if you could be ruler of South Korea for a day?
A: It’s not easy to be someone who is in the highest position of power. In terms of politics, it’s really about the mind games that go on between different parties and having your stance in the midst of all the conflict. And having gone through that in the show, I know that it’s not an easy path at all. So if I were to imagine myself as the President of South Korea … I am not sure what I would do! Hon Jing Yi
Ha Ji-won is really a woman
SINGAPORE — Ha Ji-won may be known for her gender-bending roles in the popular Korean series Secret Garden and her latest period drama Empress Ki, but the actress claims she is actually much more womanly than she appears to be on-screen.
“If you talk to my friends who have known me through primary school, middle school, high school and university, you would know that I am nowhere near the roles that I play because I am not a tomboy,” said Ha, at a press conference in Singapore to promote Empress Ki, where she plays a girl who survives by pretending to be a boy and eventually ascends to power. “I used to be a quiet girl (in school) and I am probably the most feminine out of all my friends, so they are really surprised that I’ve taken these roles.”
The 36-year-old added: “But this is what I want to do as an actress because I can be someone I am not, and someone I want to be. And I want to keep doing it, because I enjoy it — it’s fun!”
[COVER] Ha Ji Won shares tips on beauty, diet and exercise for her role in Empress Ki
Singapore, 26-27 September 2014 – Korean actress Ha Ji-won is in town for the telecast promotions of Empress Ki (奇皇后), a 51-episode historical drama which she starred in as the female lead. On preparing for her role as ‘Ki Seung-nyang‘ in Empress Ki, the actress expressed that the drama was the longest, yet one of her happiest involvements thus far.
Said Ha Ji-won, “I like action scenes. It’s definitely not easy for me since the drama involved many challenging action scenes throughout the filming. Horse-racing for example, was particularly difficult for both Ji Chang-wook and I. We had a horse-racing scene on a beach and this scene was filmed for close to 8 hours. We ended up with bruises all over, to the extent that we couldn’t walk properly for the next 3 days.”
“As my role slowly transforms into an Empress in the drama, I also got to pick up elegant gestures that could complement the role of an Empress.”
At the press conference, Ha Ji-won also shared some tips on maintaining her complexion to look her best during filming, saying that she had lots of healthy nuts, fruits and yogurt for her diet and added, “My mother made lunch boxes for me too. I didn’t had much time to exercise. Whenever I’m feeling tired, I just try to heal myself by listening to the music that I like.”
Ha Ji-won, who is known to have one of the most muscle masses among the South Korean actresses, further added that she would recommend all females to do weights in order to maintain a healthy shape.
“It does help a lot. I can really see the difference by doing more weights. Cardio exercises are very important but it’s very hard to tone up the body and muscles. I don’t have to eat chicken breasts all the time and I can have muscles thanks to doing weights. It makes me feel young too!”
When asked which part of her body she is most satisfied with, the actress smiled shyly and replied, “My arms and hips”.
Speaking at the press conference, Ha Ji-won talked about working with various actors including her Empress Ki co-stars Joo Jin-mo and Ji Chang-wook. She couldn’t name any particular actor when asked who she had the most chemistry with, “This is a very difficult question… To be honest, I enjoyed working with all of them so I can’t really point out on any one person.”
The actress further commented, “I have never worked with both Joo Jin-mo sunbae (“senior”) and Ji Chang-wook prior to Empress Ki, so this drama marks my first time working with them. Joo Jin-mo sunbae was being very considerate and kind, and he often lighten up the mood at the entire set which I really appreciated.”
“As for Ji Chang-wook, the chemistry between us is really something that we do not exhibit that well initially because in the early scenes of the drama, there was a bit of bad interaction to build up the emotions between these characters. Later on as the drama developed, our chemistry turned out to be unexpectedly well, so I think Joo Jin-mo sunbae was a little surprised at the sudden acceleration of love between the characters.”
Ha Ji-won continued and added that both actors have their own charms, comparing Joo Jin-mo to the ‘ocean‘ and Ji Chang-wook to ‘flowers‘ (probably owing to his flower boy looks).
When asked if she had any regrets on any particular scenes in Empress Ki, Ha Ji-won answered, “To be honest, I always put in my best on set. Human beings are not perfect and neither am I. I may have flaws here and there, but I definitely have no regrets on the projects that I’ve worked on. I know deep inside that I have put in my best effort in the roles I played.”
Although this visit is her second trip to Singapore, Ha Ji-won expressed that she was so excited that she could barely sleep on the night she arrived. Being a huge fan of the Transformers, she revealed yesterday at the Meet & Greet event, “I visited the Universal Studios Singapore and had a fun time on the Transformers ride!”
The actress also revealed that she’s an animal lover and hoped to visit the Singapore Night Safari if time and schedule permits.
“I met lots of fans at the airport on Thursday evening which was an unexpected surprise. I love Singapore so much! I wish I could stay here for another 10 more days but time is passing by too quickly. There are just so many things to see, to do, to shop, and to eat here!”
At the Meet & Greet event, Ha Ji-won broke the news that she will be returning to Singapore very soon for a fan meeting on January 9th, 2015, and added that she’s looking forward to do all the things on her wish-list if she doesn’t get to achieve during this trip. Looks like the Singapore fans will be in for another treat in January next year!
We thank StarHub for the media invitation to attend Empress Ki press conference and Meet & Greet event in Singapore, where we met the gorgeous actress in person.
Ha Ji Won ‘Empress Ki’ Media Conference in Singapore 2014
Dressed in a gorgeous red dress, Ha Ji-won (female lead of Empress Ki) appeared at the Conrad Centennial Hotel on the afternoon of 26 September 2014. The female actress made her entrance through the front door, wowing the press with her beauty and stunning appearance.
When asked about the preparation process for her latest drama – Empress Ki, Ha Ji-Won explained that it is the longest drama she has ever filmed. Not only does this drama clock in a total of 51 episodes, it is also emotionally demanding. As the show progresses, Ha Ji-Won’s character undergoes lots of changes. From a boy to a palace gong nyeo, to a mother and the political ruler of the country, Ha Ji-Won finds that filming had been tough but the happiest time for her.
For her past several on-screen characters, Ha Ji-Won has been heavily involved with action scenes. When asked on her opinion, she expressed that she has always enjoyed action scenes, despite the risk of sustaining injuries. When filming the horse-riding scenes with fellow co-actor Ji Chang Wook, she suffered from bruises all over her leg. In addition, she took up ballet and stretching lessons prior to the filming to aid in portraying the elegance and confidence of her character.
Many have been curious as to how Ha Ji-Won managed to maintain her flawless complexion despite her busy schedules. To this, she explained that because of filming, she had been sleep-deprived for 6-7 months. However, she placed an emphasis on her diet, taking in lots of nuts and yogurt. Her mom even makes her doshirak (lunchboxes) during the filming process. She encourages all women to do weights to train their muscles and maintain a healthy lifestyle. She even mentioned that she’s proud of her toned arms, and also her hips.
When asked if she’s similar to her characters in real life, Ha Ji-Won smiled and said, “If you talk to my childhood friends, you would know I am no way near my character. But acting is something I really enjoy doing, and I think this is what I can offer to the audience.”
When asked about her opinions on her co-actors, she thanked the two male leads for their consideration and kindness at the film scene. She shared good chemistry with both Joo Jin-Mo and Ji Chang-Wook, and goes on to say that both their characters were distinct but charming.
Ha Ji-Won was surprised to see so many fans at the airport, and she planned on visiting a good restaurant for dinner. She also mentioned that on the 27 September, she will be meeting several fans at the Universal Studios Singapore, and she expressed her excitement in riding the Transformers ride. As she will be visiting Singapore fans again on 9 January 2015, she promised herself to plan in advance and travel around Singapore more the next time.
Thank you Starhub for the invitation to this media conference.