|Ha Ji-won (right) and Bae Doo-na star in director Moon Hyun-sung’s upcoming film “Korea.” (CJ Entertainment)|
Based on the true story of Korea’s first-ever unified Korean national table tennis team in 1991, the movie features Ha as Hyun Jung-hwa, the South Korean player on the two-member team. Hyun’s team won the gold medal against all odds at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships.
Ha, in fact, received private lessons last year from Hyun, who now serves as the executive member of the Korea Table Tennis Association, just for the film. Ha had never played ping pong before taking on the role, according to the producer.
The actress, whose previous roles include a stunt woman, a Joseon gisaeng and a boxer, is famous for going through rigorous training to fully portray her characters. Aside from the ping pong lessons, she’s taken lessons in boxing, martial arts and even traditional Korean dance for her previous films and TV drama shows. Her latest film was last year’s 3-D monster thriller “Sector 7.”
Meanwhile, actress Bae Doo-na, who appeared in Park Chan-wook’s “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” (2002) and Bong Joon-ho’s 2006 monster film “The Host,” is starring as the team’s North Korean player Lee Boon-hee. Bae is said to have great ping pong skills, which was one of the reasons why she was chosen for the role. She is returning to the silver screen six years after her last film, “The Host.”
“Korea” is slated to be released in local theaters in May.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)