The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Actor Ju Ji-hoon couldn’t ask for more working with favorite team in ‘Ransomed’

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Aug. 7, 2023 - 14:02

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Actor Ju Ji-hoon in “Ransomed.” (Showbox) Actor Ju Ji-hoon in “Ransomed.” (Showbox)

For Ju Ji-hoon, his latest action comedy, “Ransomed,” means something different compared to his previous works because it was a project with two of his favorite colleagues, director Kim Seong-hun and actor Ha Jung-woo.

Ju and Kim have worked together on the global hit Netflix series “Kingdom” and with Ha on another megahit film, “Along with the Gods.”

“For the first time in my acting career, I decided to star in ‘Ransomed’ without even reading the screenplay, based on the deep trust in him (the director) and Ha, who had decided to star in the film before I made my decision. I knew that they are the kind of people who would pour 100 percent into what they commit themselves to,” Ju told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on Aug. 1.

“I would say that we three share similar colors and textures in our personalities,” he added.

“Ransomed” tells the story of a diplomat named Min-jun (Ha) and a local taxi driver named Pan-su (Ju) in Lebanon, the mission of which is to rescue another diplomat. The film was shot in Morocco.

Pan-su, who is mischievous and comes across as a swindler, has led an adventurous life outside Korea. Encountering life-threatening moments with Min-su as they try to evade those attempting to steal the ransom money, Pan-su gradually shows a softer side.

Pan-su’s colorful style, naughty and brash acting could not be more fitting for Ju. But the actor said the more he shoots, the more worries he has about acting.

Ju Ji-hoon in “Ransomed” (Showbox) Ju Ji-hoon in “Ransomed” (Showbox)

“It’s inevitable that you have more worries and thoughts as you gain more experience in this field. That sometimes leads you to gain support from it, or sometimes hampers your focus. So it is more like walking a tightrope, balancing between showing realistic acting and expressing joy and emotions to entertain the audience,” Ju said.

The 41-year-old said his friendship with Ha has not only impacted his acting in a positive way but also changed his view on life.

“I often go traveling with Ha -- we’re that close. Not just at shooting locations but also while traveling, he gives me this enlightenment, making me think ‘Wow, that’s how he interpreted it?’ or ‘How come I've never thought about that?’” said Ju.

“The moments I spend with him are truly gift-like,” he added.

Ju Ji-hoon (Showbox) Ju Ji-hoon (Showbox)

Regarding the four Korean tentpole films opening this week, Ju said that the current situation should not be one of competition.

“I even messaged director Kim Yong-hwa this morning, encouraging each other during our travels across the country promoting the film. The current cinema scene is not one where actors and directors compete. It’s as if we were cheering the Korean team to advance to the next round at the World Cup. With that mindset, I truly believe that movies like ‘Ransomed’ should exist for the diversity of the local cinema scene,” he said.

“I hope the audience, when leaving the theater, says that Korean films are not that bad to watch.”

“Ransomed” opened in local cinemas on Aug. 2.