HT Exclusive | South Korean actor Jung Ryeo Won on similarities between India and Korea; The Midnight Romance in Hagwon | Web Series - Hindustan Times
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HT Exclusive | South Korean actor Jung Ryeo Won on similarities between India and Korea; The Midnight Romance in Hagwon

Jun 03, 2024 06:09 PM IST

Jung Ryeo Won reflects on the evolving working environment in Korean entertainment industry and her approach to roles, emphasizing warmth and cheer for viewers.

Actor Jung Ryeo-won makes her long-awaited comeback in the drama genre with The Midnight Romance at Hagwon. She plays Seo Hye Jin, a sought-after instructor at a “hagwon”(private academy). Known for her devotion and astuteness when it comes to training her students, the arrival of her former star student Lee Jun Ho (Squid Game’s Wi Ha Joon) creates ripples in her ordinary life. (Also read: HT Exclusive | South Korean star Wi Ha-joon: 'I would love to star in a Bollywood movie')

Jung Ryeo Won on The Midnight Romance at Hagwon. (Studio Dragon)
Jung Ryeo Won on The Midnight Romance at Hagwon. (Studio Dragon)

Following the phenomenal success of Queen Of Tears, Studio Dragon once again gives us the classic“noona” romance (older woman and younger man), set against the backdrop of Korea’s educational system, a formula which previously worked with their 2022 hit Crash Course In Romance.

In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times from Seoul, Jung Ryeo Won confesses it was the opportunity to work with director Ahn Pan-seok, who had directed the 2018 mega hit Something in The Rain.

On shooting The Midnight Romance at Hagwon

“I chose this project because of the opportunity to work with director Ahn Pan-seok. After making the decision and reading the script, I was drawn to Seo Hye-jin's arc, she wasn't one-dimensional. She is an ordinary person, neither good nor bad, but someone who could grow through love, which I found rather appealing.”

Wi Ha Joon and Jung Ryeo-won in The Midnight Romance at Hagwon. (Studio Dragon)
Wi Ha Joon and Jung Ryeo-won in The Midnight Romance at Hagwon. (Studio Dragon)

With over two decades in the industry, Jung Ryeo Won shot to fame with her performance in 2005 Hyun Bin and Kim Sun-starrer My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. With titles such as Bubblegum, Witch’s Court, and Wok of Love to her credit, she is delighted that Korean content is finally getting its due.

“The working environment has evolved. Due to the overseas demand and the popularity of our shows, actors, producers, directors, and writers feel a greater sense of responsibility and pride. However, we believe in staying true and diligent in what we've always done. It's only now that such efforts are being widely recognized, and we're grateful for that acknowledgement coming our way.”

On a new approach to roles

Last seen in the 2018 crime comedy Gate and the web series May It Please The Court”, Jung Ryeo Won says she no longer has a self-serving approach to her craft. “When I was younger, I used to focus more on the roles I wanted to play, but now I find myself wanting to do roles that the public wants to see. I used to think, 'I hope others like what I like,' but now my thinking has changed to 'I hope I like what others like. I want to play parts that bring warmth and cheer to the viewer”.

Having grown up in Brisbane, Australia, Jung Ryeo Won had openly spoken about facing discrimination. Fluent in English and a graduate in International Business, she says the cross-culturalism shaped her as an artist.

“Growing up, I was fortunate to have experienced a diverse range of cultures and lifestyles, which enriched my childhood. While it's hard to compare being more creative or more excellent, I'm certain that my upbringing has greatly contributed to my growth as an actor and has fostered my ability to imagine and think creatively.”

Familiar with Indian content, she says the cultural similarities between India and Korea, have made her want to visit India soon. “Several Indian films have been hugely popular in Korea. I feel there are quite a few cultural similarities between India and Korea. I haven't had the chance to experience Indian culture up close, but India is a country I want to visit. If given the opportunity, I would come visit”.

The Midnight Romance at Hagwon is currently streaming on Viki.

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