Ha Ji-won: 'I Want to Share Feeling of Reunification'

The movie "As One" held a production presentation.

Actress Ha Ji-won revealed her feelings about playing the real life table tennis player Hyeon Jeong-wwa of the unified table tennis team in the movie "As One" at the production presentation held at Apgujeong CGV on April 4, saying, "I have not been interested in reunification or inter-Korea relations before, but I seem to have had a little change inside me while filming "As One".

I want to share those feelings with friends". She continued, "When I read the script, I cried after finishing reading it. The power of the script was huge enough to make me feel like playing the current table tennis coach Hyeon Jeong-wwa". She explained how she decided to appear in the movie.

"As One" is the story of the World Table Tennis Championship in 1991 in which South and North Korea formed the first unified team since its division and won the championship. The unified team was created suddenly by the decision made during summit talks, and the team had gradually become one perfectly unified team for 46 days during the championship. Ha Ji-won plays the star table tennis player of South Korea named Hyeon Jeong-wwa and appeared together with actress Bae Doona, who played the North Korean table tennis player Lee Boon Hee.

Ha Ji-won has shown her action acting in many dramas and movies before, but playing a table tennis player in the movie was actually a new challenge for her. She said, "I did not even know how to hold the paddle. I am fond of playing sports, but I am not good at playing any kinds of sports using balls". She mentioned that action scenes were relatively easy compared to playing table tennis. Ha Ji-won said, "Hyeon Jeong-wwa was watching me right beside me while I was playing her, and I thought that people would criticize me if I could not play her perfectly. I had many difficulties after beginning the filming of the movie". She honestly revealed how she felt.

Ha Ji-won had been trained by Hyeon Jeong-wwa the entire time while filming the movie to create a perfect representation of Hyun. She said, "I could not realize that table tennis was a tough sport before. I practiced so much, and I even felt pain in my knees". The main reason why she felt difficulties while filming those scenes in which she had to play table tennis was because she injured her ankles when she filmed the movie "Sector 7". But she still wanted to play this tough character because she enjoys the challenge itself. She said, "I do not know exactly why I like trials. When I feel like doing something, I usually do it anyway without considering other factors. I felt pressure about playing this role in the movie, but I finally decided to do it because I wanted to have a new challenge".

Ha Ji-won is achieving another success after the drama "Secret Garden" with her appearance in the MBC drama "The King 2 Hearts" by playing a North Korean female military trainer. She held a paddle with the North Korean table tennis player in the movie and now she holds a rifle with a South Korean soldier in the drama. Ha revealed that she can now understand the difficulty of playing a North Korean who speaks with a typical North Korean dialect. She said, "I played a South Korean in the movie and now I am playing a North Korean. I realized the difficulties of playing a North Korean now. I have suddenly come to play both South and North Koreans in the movies and dramas".

Ha Ji-won debuted with her appearance in the teen drama "New Generation Report - Adults Don't Know" in 1996, and she has now became a senior actress on the film set. She said, "I was the oldest among the female actors and I had agonized over how I could take care of the junior actors. I realized the role of a senior actress could be very hard". Actress Bae Doona, who played the North Korean player Lee Boon Hee, used to play table tennis in elementary school. Bae said, "I usually use my right hand, but Lee Boon Hee played with her left hand, which gave me some difficulty. Playing table tennis requires a lot of energy, and my toenail fell off while practicing table tennis".

"As One" is the first work by director Moon Hyeon-seong. Moon said, "I wanted to demonstrate the exact feelings that Hyeon Jeong-wwa had in 1991 during the championship. I emphasized 'humanism' from the beginning to the end while filming this movie. There will be stories of table tennis and inter-Korean relations, but I hope that the audience will naturally find meaning while watching this interesting melodrama".

"As One" will be released on May 3. [Yonhap]