Han Hyo Joo took Asia and Hong Kong by storm with her role in W in 2016, and will be returning to the small screen with her upcoming apocalyptic thriller, Happiness, following a 5 year hiatus. Gracing the cover of Vogue Hong Kong’s summer issue wearing Burberry and captured by Hong Jang Hyun, the South Korean actress reveals 3 fun-facts about herself, including that she grew up in Korea’s countryside in Cheongju despite her now very urban image. Discover more details about her upcoming role as well as reflections on her growth throughout the years in an exclusive interview in Vogue Hong Kong’s June issue.
Returning to the TV with the new apocalyptic thriller Happiness after 5 years of hiatus, how would you describe your character?
My character is Yoon Sae-bom. She has quick judgement, and is a lovely character who sometimes can be more reckless than you’d think. At this age, I’m so glad I ended up meeting a character whose personality is so similar to mine.
Having made your on-screen debut 18 years ago, how has your state of mind evolved since?
Some things have changed, and some haven’t. As time flows by and eras transition, changes in a positive direction are of course good, but in that process there are things that remain the same. I don’t think the mindset I have when I’m working changes as time goes on. I often feel nervous and sometimes even feel pressured. My sense of responsibility about work has gotten bigger, so that could be why my feelings towards acting haven’t changed much. I still enjoy it and its still exciting, and even though it can be difficult at times I always have a strong passion to keep doing well.
From the girl in Shining Inheritance, the blind woman in Always, Queen in Masquerade, to a detective in Cold Eyes, a doctor in W and even a part in American action drama Treadstone, can you recall the most challenging role you have ever played?
It can be difficult to pinpoint one character, but out of the roles that I’ve played the most heartbreaking one was So-yool in Love, Lies. I’ve played a lot of characters who both loved and were loved, but in the end So-yool wasn’t able to find love which tore me apart. Even after some time as passed, when I try to empathise with her emotions I sometimes think she was a painful character to play. In a difference sense, Dong Yi was my most physically challenging production and role. Because I played the character Dong-yi, I felt that I had a great responsibility even at a young age. Since we filmed 60 episodes in total, for almost one year I had to shoot around the clock, blurring the line between day and night, so I couldn’t get proper sleep. That’s how difficult it was, which makes the role super memorable.
What type of role do you hope to challenge yourself with in the future?
There’s too many. There’s an infinite amount of people in the world and there’s a lot of diverse jobs that I’ve never experienced. Because I like to listen to music in my daily life, if an opportunity arises for a project through which I can heal people using music I’d want to do that as well. I also wish there was a chance to reach Korean people who have unique enthusiasm and emotion through films like ‘La La Land’ and ‘Begin Again.’ As an actor I want to play many roles and not be limited to any genre. I also have yet to play a proper villain, so I’d like to take on that challenge as well.
You are known for your gentle, feminine personality and beaming smile. Do you think this impression of you can be limiting? Can you tell us 3 fun facts about the real Han Hyo-joo?
I think the image that my overseas fans have of me is one part of my many attributes. Out of my many parts, I am always thankful that my fans like some of them. Even outside of that image I have many other parts to me as well, but I don’t want to get rid of the image that my fans like. However, just like many other people, I feel like I want to become more honest and easy-going with my close acquaintances and friends in my circle and show them that side of me. A fun fact? Even though my urban vibe is part of my image, I am actually originally from Cheongju in Korea’s countryside. In addition, even though I may seem very thorough and meticulous, I’m really not. When I’m not working I sometimes become very lazy as well. Do these count as fun facts?
What is your daily routine like when you aren’t working?
I do my regular workout routine and also take care of my skin. I like to meet coworkers and friends that I can’t see when I’m working and spend time chatting. Eating delicious food is also a great pleasure in my life.
What would you now say to your 18-year-old self when you first started acting?
Even though there are going to be times when you’ll have overwhelming worries, you’re going to do great. But I hope you start working out as soon as possible.
With Korean movies making success and waves in international awards such as the Oscars 2 years in the row, do you have any hopes for the Korean film industry as an actress?
This year and last year I’ve been filled with so much joy. I’ve been happy and proud as if it were my own work. When my friends overseas talk about Parasite and Korean actors and directors I feel so overwhelmed with pride and joy. Incredible senior actors and directors are displaying the strength of Korean productions and so I think I should follow them as their junior. I hope that this momentum doesn’t end with one era and that it can continue to thrive.
Is there anything you would like to say to your Hong Kong fans?
Hello, I’ve visited Hong Kong several times for work promotion, photoshoots, award shows, etc. It’s a pleasure to greet you like this through Vogue Magazine. I will continue to work hard in the future just like I’ve always done, so please keep an eye on me. The world is in a troublesome situation right now due to many different things, so I hope to make pieces of work that can strengthen my viewers’ courage, no matter how small, and help us persist together.
Photographer: Hong Jang Hyun
Creative and Fashion Direction: Sean Kunjambu
Stylist: Park Manhyun
Makeup Artist: Seo Hee Young @Jenny House
Hair Stylist: Baek Heung Kwon @HE:ARTS
Set Designer: Choi Seo Yun @Darak
Casting Director: Lee Youngmin
Executive Producer: Lee Kyung Kim @BL Creative House
On set coordinator: Park Hee Young
Cover Wardrobe: Burberry
EditorVogue Hong Kong