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[Herald Interview] Ha Jung-woo calls shooting ‘Hijacking 1971’ ‘something sublime’

June 24, 2024 - 15:04 By Kim Da-sol

Ha Jung-woo plays Tae-in in “Hijacking 1971.” (Sony Pictures Entertainment Korea, Kidari)

South Korean actor Ha Jung-woo, the youngest actor here to have accumulated over 100 million ticket sales through 25 films he has appeared in since debuting in 2005, becomes the character he plays.

From a serial killer, to a top prime-time news anchor to a taxi driver struggling to make ends meet, Ha has never shown dull acting. His acting is always full of realism, energy and wit, consistently entertaining audiences over the past two decades.

In his recent action drama flick, “Hijacking 1971,” Ha zeroes in on portraying goodhearted man Tae-in in all his earnestness.

“The ensemble is very important in acting. No matter how talented I am, it is the co-actors who support my acting and make for seamless acting (throughout the film),” Ha told reporters in an interview in Seoul on June 14.

“Because the movie takes place inside a plane, we did much of the shooting on the set, which means that the actors could do as many rehearsals as they wanted. When I arrived on the set in the morning, I would see some 60 actors playing passengers already aboard the plane waiting for me to begin the rehearsal. I felt something sublime,” Ha added.

“Hijacking 1971” is based on the real-life hijacking of a Korean Air flight to North Korea.

For Ha, it is the third consecutive film in which he plays a role based on a real-life character. In last summer’s “Ransomed,” Ha played a young diplomat who is tasked with delivering ransom money to rescue an abducted diplomat in Lebanon. The film is a dramatized account of the abduction of a South Korean diplomat in Lebanon in 1986. Just a month later, “Road to Boston,” in which Ha played legendary South Korean marathoner Sohn Kee-jung, was released.

Ha Jung-woo plays Tae-in in “Hijacking 1971.” (Sony Pictures Entertainment Korea, Kidari)

What draws him to characters in real-life events?

“To be honest, I only knew that these stories were based on real-life after I finish reading the screenplay,” Ha said.

“It is much more difficult to act as a character based on a true event. But thankfully, director Kim Sung-han dramatized some of the parts, which allowed me to reinterpret the pilot, who sacrificed his life for the passengers aboard the hijacked plane,” he added.

The 46-year-old actor said what intrigues him is finding out how the director unfolds such real-life stories through cinematic techniques or mise-en-scene.

“I don’t select films based on real events, but I was curious what to expect from the director, how he will dramatize which parts,” added Ha, who is currently working on “Lobby,” the third film he is directing.

“Hijacking 1971” opened in local theaters on Friday.