Some actors have a knack for fully immersing themselves in every character they play, and Shin Haesun is among those elite few. We last saw her as a woman going through 18 lifetimes to find true love and seek closure in the romantic drama, See You In My 19th Life. She brought the story of Yun Sim-deok, Korea’s first soprano singer, to life in the moving The Hymn of Death. She showed her innate comic timing in the time-travel drama Me Queen, as the queen whose body is possessed by the soul of a modern-day chef.
In her latest, Welcome To Samdal-ri, she is a hot-shot fashion photographer who gets involved in a scandal. Not only is her career in shambles, but she finds herself back home in Samdal-ri on the picturesque Jeju Island. To make matters worse, she also has to face her ex Yong-pil (Ji Chang-wook) whose heart she had mercilessly broken.
Produced by SLL, who have had hits such as Reborn Rich and A Time Called You to their credits, Welcome to Samdal-ri has scored high on the popularity charts with the onscreen pairing of Shin Haesun and Ji Chang-wook.
In an exclusive interview with HELLO!, Shin Haesun talks about working with Ji Chang-wook, being a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, and more…
HELLO!: After the highly intense and emotional drama See You In My 19th Life, what was it like to come on board for Welcome to Samdal-ri?
Shin Haesun: “Welcome to Samdal-ri is a story which is warmly comforting and will touch people’s hearts. I felt comforted while reading the script and I’m enjoying filming it.”
H!: Your character, Cho Sam-dal, is ambitious but also someone dealing with her insecurities, how did you approach her? Do you look for similarities or tap into your own experiences when playing a character?
SH: “There are moments in your life when your self-esteem is low and you need comfort. I encountered this work at a moment when I was fatigued without noticing it, and I think that led me to relate to Sam-dal easily.”
H!: What was it like working with director Cha Young-hoon? His dramas such as When The Camellias Bloom blend in romance and comedy, but come with a deep message as well.
SH: “Director Cha Young-hoon is a very warm-hearted person. Maybe that’s why his work also makes you feel warm. He has always worked with a smile on set, so we had a very happy filming schedule, thanks to him.”
H!: This is the first time you and Ji Chang-wook are sharing screen space. What was it like to work together? And what about the rest of the crew?
SH: “Ji Chang-wook was so pleasant and thoughtful that I leaned on him a lot during shooting. All the actors in this project were cheerful, so we naturally got closer and had fun working.”
H!: You have impeccable comic timing and are equally moving when it comes to displaying the emotional graph of your characters. Be it a fierce lawyer to a talented violinist, a girl leading many lives or playing a queen; you bring perfection to your characters. What is your method or process when it comes to acting?
SH: “I reckon the most important goal is to express what’s in the script as best as I can, so I tend to come up with the idea of how to express it effectively. Of course, sometimes I overly express or, on the contrary, express less than the script demands.”
H!: You have depicted very strong and independent women on screen, who are comfortable in their skin. Are you drawn to these roles? What is the one thing you look for in the characters you play?
SH: “I guess I am attracted to characters who have something that I didn’t have but wanted to have. However, the most important thing that I keep in my mind is, when I’m acting, I’m able to express these qualities well.”
H!: Does your popularity as well the fan and media anticipation for your work overwhelm you, or does it excite you?
SH: “Of course, there are times when it overwhelms me, but it doesn’t quite consume me. My goal is to have as much fun as I can, so I try to enjoy it as much as I can.”
H!: What are the most important factors that you take into consideration when accepting an acting project since you have a vast filmography spanning genres?
SH: “I want to have a wide range of experiences, not limited ones. However, I think what I most importantly consider is whether I can take on the challenge since I have to perform the character.”
H!: Korean dramas are hugely popular across the world. Your shows (previous and new ones) continue to top viewing records. How does it feel?
SH: “I’m happy that Korean dramas are popular worldwide. I feel a sense of satisfaction as a Korean for receiving favourable comments on them since all the staff members of Korean dramas and movies work hard literally night and day. I’d like to be an actor who can deliver better performances, consistently.”
H!: Any role or part that you have not played that you would want to star in the future?
SH: “Actually, I’d like to do any genre or role that I haven’t done before, like horror or villains.”
H!. You are very popular in India, have you had a chance to watch any Indian films, or try Indian food? Do you have any plans to visit our country?
SH: “I’ve been moved by Indian movies like Black, My Name Is Khan and 3 Idiots. Although I’ve never been to India, I like curry and tandoori chicken. If I ever visit the country, I’d love to get a taste of real Indian curry.”
H!: What are your expectations from 2024?
SH: “I hope it will be a healthy and happy year.”
H!: If you were to meet your character from Welcome to Samdal-ri, what advice would you give her?
SH: “I’d like to tell her, ‘Have an easy life!’”