Lee Dong-wook on ‘A Shop for Killers’ stylish action, new hairstyle

Lee Dong-wook on ‘A Shop for Killers’ stylish action, new hairstyle

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:15 AM January 18, 2024

Lee Dong-wook on ‘A Shop for Killers’ stylish action, new hairstyle

Lee Dong-wook as Jeong Jinman —PHOTOS COURTESY OF DISNEY+

He played the gorgeous Grim Reaper opposite Gong Yoo in “Goblin,” a dashing detective in “Bad and Crazy,” and a suave gumiho in “Tale of the Nine Tailed.”

In Disney’s stylish new actioner “A Shop for Killers,” Lee Dong-wook portrays Jeong Jinman, who retires as a mercenary and returns home after eight years. To his surprise, he ends up raising his suddenly orphaned niece Jian—played by Kim Hye-jun (“Connect,” “Kingdom”) as a grown-up—after an unexplained tragedy.


In the eight-part series, which premiered with a two-episode rollout yesterday (and will stream two episodes weekly till it wraps) on Disney, the high-octane action follows the events in the life of Jian, now a college freshman, after she’s told about her uncle’s shocking demise.


Jian suddenly finds herself getting shot at and chased around by a cabal of assassins in her childhood home just hours after she lays her secretive uncle to rest.

Terrified and clueless as to why so many gun-toting and knife-wielding people are determined to kill her, Jian is left with no choice but to fight back, armed only with the specialized survival skills she learned from her uncle.

Jinman’s past may be shrouded in secrecy, but Jian refuses to believe that he was capable of committing suicide—no matter what the police report says. But the mystery deepens further when Jian discovers a hidden phone revealing that her uncle had amassed $14 million from a website for killers masquerading as an agricultural supply business.

“My character Jinman operates a shop for killers,” said Dong-wook at a press conference held early this week when asked to describe his relationship with Jian. “As her uncle, Jinman wants Jian to learn to stand on her own feet and be independent.

“[In real life,] I’m a sweet and humorous person. I like to joke around. But as my character, I had to be very controlling and strict to my niece. I had to be ruthless.”

At the press conference, Dong-wook was joined by Hye-jun (who plays Jeong Jian), Seo Hyun-woo (sniper Lee Seongjo), Jo Han-sun (dagger expert Beil), Park Ji-bin (hacker Jeongmin, Jian’s childhood friend), Geum Hae-na (S-class killer Minhye) and writer-director Lee Kwon.

Scene from“A Shop for Killers”

Lee Dong-wook in a scene from “A Shop for Killers.”

Departure from the usual

Explaining his decision to cast Dong-wook in a role that is very different from the one described in Kim Ji-young’s novel “The Killer’s Shopping Mall,” director Lee said, “In the original novel, Jeong Jinman is a bald and very heavy built man, so there wasn’t really an actor who could portray him in terms of looks.

“And unlike the novel, we built a backstory for the character in our show. Moreover, I wanted a good-looking guy to bring him to life … someone who’s fierce, with a combative spirit. I wanted him to have a very ice-cold vibe. And I thought Dong-wook was just the perfect fit.”

The script was another huge draw for Dong-wook, as he explained in a separate Q&A. “The story is structured in a way that sees the plot jumping between past and present,” he said. “While shifting timelines can often make a story feel too hectic or disorganized, the script was written in a way that made the transitions seamless.

“The role is a departure from the usual action scenes I do. Because Jinman is a former mercenary, I had many discussions with the martial arts director about how we wanted to bring the sort of action that is used in the Special Forces, the type that is actually seen within the military.

“You see, most of the action that I’ve shown until now have a lot of fantastical elements to them. So I did a lot of wire action. I would sometimes use magic, right? All I had to do was stretch out my hand [and voila].

“I also did a lot of action using long swords [in my previous projects], but this time around, I used firearms and knives as well. I worked with shorter daggers, so the scenes really look more realistic. It was very tough [preparing for them], but it was a lot of fun trying these new types of stunts.

“There was one scene where Jinman had to fire a machine gun, which initially worried me. While most men who complete their mandatory military service in Korea have basic gun training, rarely do we get to use a machine gun.

“Plus, the machine gun that my character fires was an old model … I wasn’t sure how to handle it. But when I actually tried using it, it turned out to be a great stress reliever! I probably ended up doing three more takes, firing about 200 bullets that day.”

Dong-wook in “A Shop for Killers”

Lee Dong-wook in a scene from “A Shop for Killers.”

Building chemistry

During the press conference, Dong-wook was asked to describe what it was like building his chemistry with Hye-jun as uncle and niece.

He answered, “Yes, we play uncle and niece in the show. But other than that, Hye-jun and I were very close friends on set. We felt at ease with each other. You know, I could sometimes be very clumsy, but Hye-jun would be very agile, often coming to my rescue in moments like that and clearly caring for me. So yeah, she helped me out a lot.”

Flattering words

Dong-wook had nothing but good words for his young costar.

“Hye-jun has such a positive and uplifting energy,” the 42-year-old actor noted. “The show’s story carries a serious and somber tone, with numerous scenes that would make us feel down. Plus, we had a male-dominant cast. But whenever Hye-jun was on set, everyone, from the actors to the crew, was so delighted to have her around, it almost felt like Hye-jun had a glowing light about her. I loved having her around.”

The actor also had flattering words for director Lee Kwon.

He shared, “Director Lee is a meticulous person, paying attention to every detail. In contrast, I tend to overlook things. To be honest, I thought he was overly focused on minor details that didn’t seem to demand the level of scrutiny he was giving them. But over the course of this project, I realized that his meticulous attention to detail had purpose.”

Which scene is he most excited for viewers to see?

“There’s a scene where we discover why Jinman wanted to leave his mercenary life behind. And there’s another one where his house comes under attack. Although I wasn’t involved in the latter, I know the scene took a considerable amount of time to bring to life.”

On a lighter note, the actor was also asked at the press conference about the new hairstyle he wore and its lighter color.

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“I changed my hair color just to make it fun for my fans,” Dong-wook quipped, laughing. “I recently had a meet-up with my fans and I asked them if I should change my hair color, because this look is also kind of new to me. I don’t really think of it much until people like you bring it up (laughs).”

TAGS: Lee Dong-wook

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