Thirty-Nine EXCLUSIVE: Kim Ji Hyun on Son Ye Jin, Jeon Mi Do being 'perfect partners' & Lee Tae Hwan chemistry
In an EXCLUSIVE chat with Pinkvilla, Thirty-Nine star Kim Ji Hyun spoke candidly about how she built the endearing wo-mance with her co-stars Son Ye Jin and Jeon Mi Do, what she thought of her character Jang Joo Hee's ending with Lee Tae Hwan's Park Hyun Joon and a special message for her Indian fans. Read her interview below.
*SPOILERS ALERT* If there's a drama in 2022 that managed to tug at everyone's heartstrings, oscillating between laughing out loud and sobbing uncontrollably, it has to be Thirty-Nine. Led by a powerful, talented female cast, Thirty-Nine stars Son Ye Jin, Jeon Mi Do and Kim Ji Hyun as childhood friends on the brink of turning 40. However, their friendship hits a roadblock when one of them develops a terminal illness. The supporting cast includes Yeon Woo Jin, Lee Moo Saeng and Lee Tae Hwan.
In Thirty-Nine, Son Ye Jin plays Cha Mi Jo, a leading dermatologist, who is as confident as she is loyal to her loved ones. Jeon Mi Do is Jeong Chan Young, an acting teacher, who is struck with metaphorical lightning when she's diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Finally, we have Kim Ji Hyun as Jang Joo Hee, a cosmetics manager, who is the definition of "sunshine on a cloudy day" to her dear friends. While Jeong Chan Young's arc hits deep on an emotional level, it's Jang Joo Hee, who comes in as that much-needed comic relief for both the characters and the viewers.
The reason why Jang Joo Hee became an instant fan favourite character in Thirty-Nine can be attributed to Kim Ji Hyun's endearing performance, as she masterfully balanced the funny and emotional sequences, never missing a beat. Kim Ji Hyun, who made her acting debut in 2006 has steadily made a name for herself in dramas, movies and musical plays with notable appearances in Backstreet Rookie, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes and Justice. With Thirty-Nine, her first leading role, Kim Ji Hyun put on a stellar act that translated into tons and tons of love from a growing fanbase. Even in India, Thirty-Nine was adored and watched religiously, while Thirty Nine's ending broke and healed many a hearts.
I had the humble opportunity to interview Kim Ji Hyun, post Thirty-Nine's successful series finale. The 40-year-old actress spoke candidly with me about how she wants people to remember Thirty-Nine, years from now, her own personal experience from turning 39 to 40, how she mentally prepared and balanced to act out Jang Joo Hee's extreme emotions between being funny and particularly sad, depending on the scene at hand, her positive working experience with her Thirty-Nine co-stars Son Ye Jin and Jeon Mi Do (and Nam Gi Ae!), building on the trio's wo-mance and funny behind-the-scenes from the drama, her playful chemistry with Lee Tae Hwan aka Park Hyun Joon and their on-screen happy ending, and a special message for her Indian fans, who loved her heartwarming performance in Thirty-Nine.
Check out Kim Ji Hyun's EXCLUSIVE interview with Pinkvilla for Thirty-Nine below (Translated from Korean to English by Ayushi Agrawal):
Congratulations on Thirty-Nine's successful finale which left fans very emotional. My first question is; Years from now, how do you want people to remember Thirty-Nine?
First of all, thank you for congratulating me. If there are people who were moved by Thirty-Nine, it seems that we have already succeeded. Even after time goes by, I hope that Thirty-Nine will be remembered as a drama that warms your heart whenever you think about it. And I hope it will be a meaningful drama that can make you look back on your life, like a fun photo album.
Now that you've entered your 40s, is there a lesson you've learned from your Thirty-Nine character Jang Joo Hee? How was your own personal experience, as Kim Ji Hyun, from turning 39 to 40?
Just like Jang Joo Hee quit the department store and started doing nail art, I want to learn to have the courage to try new things. Everyone thinks that 39 is too late, but through JangJoo Hee, I once again learned that it is not so. My personal experience is that doing the drama Thirty-Nine is special. And I don't have any other special experiences because I have no fear of turning 40. This is because, whether you are 39 or 40, regardless of age, I focus on doing my best every day. Age is just a number.
Given how you had to enact many emotional scenes due to Jeong Chan Young's terminal illness, how do you mentally prepare yourself as an actor for such sequences? Moreover, how difficult was it to shoot the moment in the finale when Jang Joo Hee finds out that her best friend Jeong Chan Young is no more and she breaks down with her mother (Nam Gi Ae)?
Actress Jeon Mi Do, who played Jeong Chan Young, has been very close to me for a long time, so it was very difficult because it felt like she was really leaving. So, I tried to distinguish between acting and reality. Nam Gi Ae sunbaenim also felt like a mother to me, so it was very sad. Even if I didn't force myself to act, the tears flowed naturally.
Along with the emotional scenes, Jang Joo Hee is also the comic relief for her best friends. How did you balance out the extreme emotions between being funny and also sad, when a scene demands it?
To be honest, I didn't pay attention to the emotional balance. When the three of us laughed and talked together, or when we were filming a sad scene, even by just looking at each other's faces, the emotions could be delivered naturally. There was no need to force out the emotions. So it was okay to not have to balance. As an actor, it was a very blessed filming site.
How are Son Ye Jin and Jeon Mi Do as acting partners? Have you taken back anything from your working experience with them?
They were the perfect partners. They have good personalities, so when we met, we couldn't stop talking and laughing. And I could feel that everyone was acting passionately by analyzing every scene in detail. I learned a lot about how to make it look natural on the screen. I want to say thank you to both actors.
How did the three of you work about building such an endearing wo-mance (friendship) in Thirty-Nine, between Cha Mi Jo, Jeong Chan Young and Jang Joo Hee - that fans fell in love with and wished they were friends with as well?
Because of COVID-19, we could not meet often before the filming began, and so after filming began, we became closer. Even if I didn't try to get close, we got to know each other through the story. Even in real life, we got along so well, that just looking at each other's faces naturally filled us with emotions.
Which was your favourite scene to shoot with Son Ye Jin and Jeon Mi Do? Any funny behind-the-scenes story that you can share with fans (like the hilarious nightclub dance sequence or even the nail art practice scene!)?
All the scenes with the three of us were good. If I were to pick a scene that was particularly good, I liked the everyday scenes like the one at the very beginning where the three of us had a conversation while eating ice cream, or the scene where Jang Joo Hee tries to go to a nightclub and fails because of their clothes. This is because I think it is a scene that shows the relationship between the three friends really well.
Fans especially admired the playful chemistry between you and Lee Tae Hwan in Thirty-Nine. How did you establish that on-screen relationship with Lee Tae Hwan and how was it working with him? What did you think of Jang Joo Hee and Park Hyun Joon's happy ending in Thirty-Nine's finale?
The actor playing Park Hyun Joon is very good and neat. I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to lead and follow, but my worries disappeared after I started filming. I was able to concentrate naturally because Park Hyun Joon's neatness rubbed off on me. My relationship with actor Lee Tae Hwan was excellent. Because they're such a happy couple, I am happy that Jang Joo Hee and Park Hyun Joon could have a happy ending.
Is there a message that you'd like to send to your Indian fans who can't stop raving about Thirty-Nine and especially, your heartwarming performance as Jang Joo Hee?
Hello. This is actress Kim Ji Hyun, who played the role of Jang Joo Hee. Thank you so much for loving the drama Thirty-Nine and Jang Joo Hee. I’m surprised and happy that even from a country so far away, people recognize and love me. Thanks to the love and support that you sent, I was able to finish Thirty-Nine well. Thank you again. I will work even harder so that I can see you again soon. Thank you.
We can't wait to see Kim Ji Hyun in more dramas!
Which was your favourite Kim Ji Hyun moment from Thirty-Nine? Share your personal picks with Pinkvilla in the comments section below.