Kingdom’s Gianna Jun (Jun Ji-hyun) and Ju Ji-hoon are reunited along with series writer Kim Eun-hee for iQiyi’s new series, Jirisan. Directed by Lee Eung-bok (Descendants of The Sun, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God), the series simulcasts with its Korean broadcast on the streaming site.
Jirisan is about the goings on at Jirisan National Park Haedong Ranger Station. Jirisan is the second tallest mountain in South Korea. The mountain not only has a geographical significance but has historical and cultural importance as well. It is a place “standing on the border of the human world and the afterlife”.
The series follows a group of mountain rangers who patrol the park and conduct search and rescue missions while facing the dangers from the elements. Gianna Jun plays Seo Yi-Kang, the top ranger who is so tough she earns the nickname “Demon Seo” from her colleagues. Ju Ji-hoon plays rookie ranger Kang Hyun-jo whose past might be tied to the mysterious events in the park.
Photo Credit to iQiyi
Talking about her role, Gianna Jun said, “Actually, I didn’t accept the role because I wished to play a strong woman, females today are stronger in character. I never thought I would play a park ranger, to me this is a brand new experience.”
At a press conference for the series, the actress said that despite the physically demanding action scenes, she did not have a hard time shooting for the series.
“I didn’t feel exceptionally tired or cold, I was very happy throughout the filming process. As I prepared well in mountaineering gear, there were not many difficulties,” she explained, adding that her work on the series might have improved her health.
For Ju Ji-hoon, he said he discussed his character with writer Kim Eun-hee to get a handle on how to play rookie ranger Kang Hyun-jo. Revealing that he while has enjoyed climbing from a young age and plans on climbing Jirisan in the future, he admitted that the shoot demanded a lot of energy and endurance especially whenever they had to climb up the mountain. He even added that it was three to four times more demanding than shooting on solid ground.
As for their working relationship, Gianna said of Ji-hoon, “It was a very good partnership, we were at ease.” Her co-star joked in return. “I’ve been a fan of Gianna Jun ‘since young’. Her charm has left me speechless and has always been a role model for me. In our collaboration, she was always trying to feed me, so I am very thankful to her.”
Another cast member at the press conference was Oh Jung-se (When the Camellia Blooms, Hot Stove League, It's Okay to Not Be Okay) who plays Jung Goo-young, a mountain ranger at the Haedong branch. While he might seem selfish on the surface, he actually a good heart under a gruff exterior. On accepting his role, he said, “Many are anticipating Jirisan, one can feel its charm from the show title alone, especially with writer Kim, director Lee Eung-bok and photography director’s Choi Sang-mook behind it, I had no reason not to accept the role.” As for shooting on Jirisan, he said that the mountain “enables him to feel nature and embrace its charm.” “This warmth is similar to a parents’ embrace and that will be felt by viewers,” he said.
Also at the event was Jo Han-chul (Hometown Cha-cha-cha, Vincenzo) plays team leader Park Il-Hae at the Haedong Ranger Station. The actor has a personal Jirisan story. At the age of 20, he climbed the mountain in an attempt to quit smoking and has return to the peak twice since then. But shooting on the mountain took a physical toll on him, the actor joked.
The friendly atmosphere between the stars could be seen at the press conference as well when Gianna Jun, Oh Jung-se, and Jo Han-chul talked about their ages. Han-chul joked, “The three of us in the series are of the same age, I’m very happy with that.” This made Gianna jump in to clarify, “After reading the script, I told writer Kim that I’m innocent, and asked why is my character as old as the uncles and that I could not convince myself.” The actor again countered, “What’s so difficult, what we see on screen is very convincing!” much to the delight of the audience at the event.
Photo Credit to iQiyi
Jirisan is based on interviews with national park workers by writer Kim Eun-hee. “When I wrote Jirisan at the beginning, it didn’t focus on rangers. I was more interested in stories about mountaineers. However, I was more intrigued about their work after interviews.”
Photo Credit to iQiyi
For her, Jirisan is “a drama series that saves people”. “Many amateurs often get injured or stranded as they let their guard down after reaching mountaintops. Rangers, instead, believe that ‘the top objective of mountaineering is leaving alive.’” With mountain rangers committed to saving lives even in rain or snow, “They are really the mountain keepers,” the writer said.
New episodes of Jirisan premiere Saturdays and Sundays. Aside from Gianna Jun, Ju Ji-hoon, Jo Han-chul, and Oh Jung-se, the 16-episode series also stars Sung Dong-il (Reply 1988, The Cursed), Jun Suk-ho (Kingdom), and Go Min-si (Youth of May).