Why Kim Hye-jun almost quit ‘A Shop for Killers’

Why Kim Hye-jun almost quit ‘A Shop for Killers’

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:20 AM February 02, 2024

Why Kim Hye-jun almost quit ‘A Shop for Killers’

Deadly trio: (from left) Seo Hyun-woo, Geum Hae-na and Jo Han-sun —DISNEY+

Kim Hye-jun always digs deep to get to the heart of the characters she brings to life onscreen, whether it’s as Choi Irang in “Connect” or as Queen Consort Cho in “Kingdom.” But we learned at the recent press con for Disney+’s “A Shop for Killers,” which premiered on Jan. 17, that there were a few stumbling blocks for the actress’ participation in the eight-part series.

Hye-jun revealed that, for the first time since she began acting, she almost quit the project on her first day of training at the action school she was required to attend.


The 28-year-old actress recalled, “I had to do physical training for the show’s action sequences. It was so tough that I thought to myself, ‘Wait, will I really be able to pull this off?’ But the martial arts director helped me learn to let go of myself and just get into its physicality.”


Stunt training

In fact, Hye-jun trained at the stunt academy almost every day for about four months before production began. In a separate Q&A, she said, “For the first time in my career, I thought about giving up. It was incredibly hard for me because, prior to this project, I didn’t have any experience with any sort of martial arts.”

Director Lee Kwon also disclosed that Hye-jun passed up on the role the first time it was offered to her.

“Hye-jun actually declined when we first offered the role to her,” he disclosed. “She was already booked for Disney+’s ‘Connect,’ and so she was unavailable. But after a few months spent casting for the other roles, we learned that Hye-jun finished filming ‘Connect.’ So when we reached out to her again, she accepted the role.”

At the press con, Hye-jun explained what the series is about in a nutshell. She said, “My character Jian lost her parents when she was little, so she was raised by her uncle, Jinman (Lee Dong-wook). Now a college freshman at age 21, she is shockingly informed by the police that her uncle has passed.

“Suspicious about the allegation that Jinman committed suicide, Jian then finds out about the shop for killers that his uncle was operating in his nondescript house. But this revelation gets her neck-deep into trouble because, suddenly, all the killers are now after her.”


Spectacular visual elements

Aside from the deadly cat-and-mouse chase between Jian and her killers, Hye-jun said that it didn’t hurt that the series had glossy, spectacular elements helping move the narrative and “completing” the whole picture.

Hye-jun further explained, “I love the series’ spectacular visual elements. More importantly, I love the characters’ desperate struggles to protect the people who matter to them [regardless of which side they find themselves in]. I think their struggle and the very human moments created from that process are the true charm of this series.

“[In terms of characterization,] I found Jian’s growth throughout the series fascinating. Even in the midst of an extremely challenging situation where she desperately wants to run away from, she continues to push forward and grows from overcoming hardship. I also think discovering elements of Jinman in Jian’s personality will be a fun experience for viewers.”

‘Physical pluperfection’

Lee Dong-wook (left) and Kim Hye-jun

Lee Dong-wook (left) and Kim Hye-jun —EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS COURTESY OF DISNEY+

Another thing that we found amusing was the fact that Lee Dong-wook’s “physical pluperfection” presented a “slight casting inconvenience” for its director—and, as he himself explained matter-of-factly, here’s why: “To be honest, I wanted present-day Jinman to look like a pathetic loser, but Dong-wook is too good-looking for that. We had to rely heavily on makeup to achieve the effect, but no matter what we did, Dong-wook always looked handsome!”

Now on its third week, the action series dropped two more episodes last Wednesday, and will wrap up its first season next week. The fifth and sixth episodes don’t just show the lighter moments between Jinman and Jian—when he isn’t teaching his niece survival skills.

This article also comes with photos provided by Disney+ for Inquirer Entertainment’s exclusive use in the Philippines—but we’re digressing.

In the show, we also learn more about Jian’s childhood friend-turned hacker Bae Jeongmin (Park Ji-bin), as well as the string of assassins Jian and her unexpected allies cross paths with, including Lee Seongjo (Seo Hyun-woo), Beil (Jo Han-sun), the mysterious Brother (Lee Tae-young), Jian’s muay Thai tutor Pasin (Kim Min) and the all-around killer So Minhye (Geum Hae-na).

Asked to talk about his character, Hyun-woo said, “I play a very ruthless sniper. So to prepare for my role, I had to get proficient with the sniper gun. Jinman and I used to work together in the mercenary agency called Babylon.

“But all Jeongmin wants is just to survive, so he is often caught between Jinman and Beil. When forced to pick which side to take, I choose Beil.”

For his part, the good-looking Han-sun said that while he has portrayed mean characters in the past, they were never as ruthless as the psychopath Beil.

“Beil is very immoral,” he pointed out. “He fears nothing and feels no remorse. He’s never nervous, and he feels a sense of catharsis when he’s doing bad deeds. So that is how scary my character is.”

While Beil is unapologetically evil, Jeongmin likewise puts Jian through the wringer because, as the latest episodes reveal, he isn’t really who he initially seemed to be.

“My character Jeongmin majors in computer science, so he’s naturally tech-savvy,” Ji-bin stated. “Our show is a very stylish action series, but I don’t have much action scenes because all I’m seen doing is a lot of finger action (laughs) because I’m always hacking into systems.

“In the show, I bump into Jian, who was my classmate [in middle school] when we were kids … and I’m seen helping her out because I knew bad things were happening to her. She has lost all her family. But then, Jeongmin also gets into trouble because of his desire to help her.

“After he gets entangled in dangerous situations, there are a lot of unexpected things that happen. So you have to watch the show until the very end in order to really know the real deal about my character (laughs).”

‘Angelina Jolie of Korea’

Meanwhile, Hae-na is being called the “Angelina Jolie of Korea” because of all the hard action she displays as top assassin Minhye, who has a dreaded reputation even among other seasoned killers.

“I was actually going for Uma Thurman of ‘Kill Bill,’” Hae-na said, laughing. “Minhye is a very proficient killer. Because of her relationship with Jinman, she comes to find his niece after his mysterious death. Minhye has this mysterious vibe about her, so Jian has to choose whether to trust her or not.

“Learning all of the different skill sets to look convincing as Minhye was very difficult. But grappling action is something that requires you to really use your body. And so, I would do combat training with a lot of male actors. And because I was, in many cases, physically weaker than the men, I really had to train my muscles to become stronger.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“So, outside of that type of training, I also did triathlon and actually increased about 3 kilograms of muscle mass after that period—that’s how much I got into it. I tried to overcome my physical limitations, but it felt almost lonely because it was like a fight with myself.”

TAGS: Lee Dong-wook

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.