Jung Sung-il's Journey to Global Fame: The Glory of Netflix's Acclaimed Drama and the Rise of a Talented Actor
Actor Jung Sung-il. ©netflix
Netflix Korean Drama "The Glory" is a well-made genre show that gained worldwide acclaim with its dense plot, various symbols, poetic lines, and, above all, the actors' passionate performances. The footsteps of "Dong-eun" (played by Song Hye-Kyo), who seeks revenge by risking her life, are cold but her narrative coexists with warm comfort. The role of "Ha Do-yeong" which director Ahn Gil-ho praised like "the fluttering of silk that creates a typhoon." This role propelled actor Jung Sung-il to fame and his popularity grew along with the character's global fame.
Jung Sung-il mentions, "It's most pleasing to see my family, friends, and acquaintances proud and happy. Sometimes childhood friends from my hometown suddenly contact me, saying they don't believe we were friends and asking for my autograph or to chat. (laughs) But that was my dream when I was young. If I become famous, I can return to my hometown and be a source of pride for my friends by attracting attention."
Jung Sung-il said, "Although I had confidence in the work because writer Kim Eun-sook had constructed the script, and the actors were excellent, I didn't think I would receive much attention personally." He laughed and said, "I expected to gain a bit more recognition than before as an actor who participated in a good film/show, but not as much as what I am receiving now. I am grateful for the excessive attention and live with a sense of appreciation."
"Acting is still challenging, and it seems to be getting more difficult. I wondered how I could express 'Do-yeong's' emotions and thoughts. I hoped that the expressions that come out naturally when I have those feelings would be well captured on camera. However, I didn't really study my expressions. Although "Do-yeong" is a character who doesn't express himself outwardly, after seeing the completed work, I realized that I used my face more than I thought. (laughs)"
In "The Glory", revenge is pursued tirelessly towards the goal of punishing evil. The story unfolds with cold detachment and passionate solidarity, evoking deep sympathy and anger in the viewers. In the drama "The Glory," Ha Do-yeong, played by Jung Sung-il, exhibits a subtle tension with his sharp yet gentlemanly charm as he faces his wife Yeon-jin's (played by Lim Ji-yeon) Pandora's Box. Jung Sung-il introduces behind-the-scenes stories of his contemplations and enjoyable moments during filming as he portrayed the character of Do-Yeong.
"There were scenes that we finished in one take without any NGs because the actors I worked with were amazing at syncing their breathing. There were also scenes where their acting was so good that just exchanging lines made me annoyed. Above all, I had to coordinate with Park Sung-hoon, who played the role of Jeon Jae-jun, for the action scenes. Since I also enjoy exercising and Sung-hoon does too, we were able to shoot the action scenes without any difficulty."
Jung Sung-il, who has garnered attention in the media for his diverse and intense acting in dramas such as "Our Blues", "Bad and Crazy", "Birth care Center" and "Stranger 2," caused a sensation with his portrayal of Ha Do-yeong, the husband of Lim Ji-yeon's character Park Yeon-jin and the victim of Song Hye-kyo's trap, in "The Glory." In this interview, he talks about his character as a "nice jerk" in earnest.
"The Glory" is a drama filled with revenge, betrayal, tears, and malicious intent as adults wield their swords against each other. However, young Yesol, who everyone protects in different ways, for different reasons, and with different meanings, stands at the centre of it all.
"I've decided. From now on, I'll protect Yesol. I love you, Yesol." (Jeon Jae-jun)
"I stand by Yesol." (Ha Do-yeong)
"I tried to protect her, even if it meant hiding her." (Park Yeon-jin)
"Haye-sol, I'll apologize until the moment I die if you tell me to." (Moon Dong-eun)
"Of all the things happening right now, none of them are Yesol's fault." (Ha Do-yeong)
After finding out that 'Yesol' is his biological child, 'Jae-jun' shows awkward and distorted paternal love. Earlier, 'Ha Do-yeong' who knew that 'Yesol' was not his own child, comforted crying 'Yesol' by calling her "princess". 'Yesol' was included in 'Dong-eun's' revenge, who wished for no one to be left besides 'Yeonjin.' However, 'Yesol' did not directly suffer rejection from anyone and showed a bright smile while leaving.
The character 'Ha Do-yeong' whom Kim Eun-sook described as a "nice bastard," shows his niceness by taking off his shoes and entering Dong-eun's house with courtesy when he meets Yeon-jin. Even after that, his meticulous and gentlemanly demeanour is "nice." However, 'Ha Do-yeong' who ignores Yeon-jin's efforts to maintain their deteriorating marriage, is a "nice bastard."
'Ha Do-yeong' becomes a "nice bastard" to protect 'Yesol.' He justifies their divorce and her study abroad by claiming that he cannot condone 'Yesol' as a school violence perpetrator and a murderer mother. However, by killing 'Jae-jun,' he also becomes a "murderer father." 'Ha Do-yeong' who had been composed and gentlemanly, completes a "perfect crime" that is "aesthetically neat" with his lines.
Rather than immediately killing 'Jae-jun' after hitting him with a truck and bringing him to the rooftop while he's unconscious, Ha Do-yeong waits until he wakes up and feels fear before pushing him off the edge. He may be more frightening than someone who has been plotting revenge for a long time, such as 'Dong-eun.' In fact, a specialist in psychiatry, Yang Jae-ung, analyzed the character of 'Ha Do-yeong' as "a sociopath who is living well".
Behind-the-scenes cuts from the 'Arena Homme Plus' March issue photoshoot. - Jung Sung-il did a photoshoot for the first time since 'The Glory'. ©KEYEAST
Jung Sung-il said, "As a human being, I had agonizing thoughts about the choice to punish 'Jae-jun.' I couldn't tolerate the fact that it was considered murder." I think 'Ha Do-yeong' has a personality that finishes what he starts. As he is someone who wants a clear answer, he would have chosen to do it himself during Jae-jun’smurder.
There was a dilemma about whether "it was necessary to go that far," and that's why in "The Glory" Part 2, I referred to 'Ha Do-yeong' as the one who falls to the deepest abyss. I wondered if I could raise my daughter well if I took her and left after making the choice to commit murder. When I think about why I had to finish it with my own hands, I think there was also a lack of trust in other people.
In Part 2 of "The Glory," Jung Sung-il clearly showed the end of the predicted fall. He completed the "nice bastard" character with a mix of charm and creepiness in the intense revenge drama. He presented the intense charisma and expanded acting spectrum of the character 'Ha Do-yeong' increasing the immersion of the viewers. In a previous interview, he introduced his rampage and complete criminal destruction of "Sociopath 'Ha Do-yeong' and in this interview, he revealed his plans for the most unexpected scene and next work.
The scene where he personally eats triangular kimbap, which he refused from "Dong-eun" in the early part of the play, was another twist. His expression, reminiscent of when he answered the question, "Can Dong-eun be happy when this revenge is over?" with "I only hope to be happy enough to die, just that much," was complicated. There were various interpretations and opinions about the scene, including references to "The Lonely Gourmet" and "In the Mood for Love" parodies. Jung Sung-il introduced the behind-the-scenes story, saying, "I was most surprised by that scene in the script."
"I wonder why I'm eating this triangular kimbap here. Is it because I'm eating it after getting rid of 'Jeon Jae-jun', or because I'm eating it before killing 'Jae-jun'? Or am I just eating it while thinking only of 'Moon Dong-eun'? Have I realized my current reality?" I've had a lot of thoughts and worries like this. In the end, among all the thoughts I had about why I was eating triangular kimbap, I couldn't help but choose 'Moon Dong-eun'. When 'Dong-eun' handed me the triangular kimbap at the starting point, I wondered if I could understand this person if I ate it.
It was the convenience store where Ha Do-yeong' and 'Moon Dong-eun' met, the beginning of their revenge. The start of their downfall. He ate triangular kimbap, wondering what was different between them as he looked back on the start of their doom. He thinks of the process he went through to find the answer. By the way, writer Kim Eun-sook revealed that the scene was about 'Ha Do-yeong' realizing late that he had feelings for 'Moon Dong-eun' like a slight crush.
After the release of 'The Glory Part 2', Jung Sung-il fulfilled a bucket list item by throwing the ceremonial first pitch at a Hanwha Eagles baseball game. ©KEYEAST
"I haven't seen many interpretations of triangular kimbap, but there have been many viewers who have given a lot of interpretations and analyses for each scene in the work, so I also enjoy imagining and looking for those. 'The Glory' has achieved great success in many ways, receiving many offers for appearances and media contacts, but they don't want to rush."
As a platform that is broadcast in over 190 countries around the world, Netflix is referred to the 'world living room theatre'. Therefore, Netflix's entry means global expansion. Jung Sung-il's biggest wish is for it not to be wasted. He plans to choose his next work more carefully and cautiously.
Jung Sung-il, who simultaneously worked on the performance of 'Mio Fratello' and filming for the work, chose the play 'Beautiful Sunday' and the musical 'Interview' as his follow-up works after 'The Glory'. He said, "If I've used energy once, I need a basic time where I can go back to the stage as energy food and a resting place."
"Through the process of preparing for performances, I developed the fundamental skills of analyzing works and characters. However, as I continued to act in dramas/shows one after another, I sometimes forgot those basic skills and ended up doing things carelessly. Above all, I really love being on stage and I want to do well. It's also an area where I can learn a lot. I am still performing on stage, and I plan to continue because I love it so much."
Jung Sung-il is positively ecstatic and overflowing with gratitude for the incredible changes that have recently taken place in his life. For the very first time, he has ventured into the exhilarating world of professional photo shoots and has already received numerous alluring advertising offers. After years of diligently refining his fundamental skills and artistry through countless theatre and musical performances, he has finally discovered the ultimate representative piece of his life's work, a sensational achievement that has come 15 years after his initial debut. With this work, he has become the talk of the town, gaining unparalleled recognition and opening up a multitude of doors to a wider range of exciting opportunities. Yet, amidst his incredible success, he remains grounded by a profound sense of responsibility.
"I want to continue to choose good works at the same pace as before without impatience and present them to the audience. I am still carefully considering my next work. My criterion for selecting a good work is one that I find interesting to read, has a clear message, and has a clear purpose for me to act in. I sincerely thank my fans and wish you all good health."
Interview by Glenda Park, Editor-in-Chief at Avec G.
*This article is simultaneously published in Seoul Wire's 'Glenda Park's Blue Ocean'.
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