Korea's Angelina Jolie loves action

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South Korean actress Ha Ji Won, 36, usually pulls off action stunts on her own during filming - be it racing on a horse or shooting arrows.

The gutsy actress always plunges headlong into her roles and has no qualms training to execute difficult moves to make the scenes look more realistic.

For her latest show, the hit period drama The Empress Ki, she was so immersed in the role that she fell off a horse during horseriding lessons.

Nothing gets in the way of this actress - not even her fear of heights.

"Although I'm scared, I'll make sure I condition myself till my fear goes away. I will practise till I'm 100 per cent confident of doing the stunt,' she tells Life! She was in town to promote the highly rated historical romance series The Empress Ki.

"Once I screamed in fear when I was hanging on the wire. So I got the action team to pull the wire to make me go up and down till I got used to it."

The new show emerged tops in viewership ratings when it aired earlier this year in South Korea. The 51-episode  series' ratings peaked at 29.2 per cent in March, according to Korean entertainment site mwave. 

Ha plays  an enslaved palace maid from Goryeo Kingdom who rises through the ranks to become the empress of China's Yuan Dynasty.

Fans can catch her at a public meet-and-greet at Plaza Singapura today at 5pm.

Unlike most of her dainty female counterparts, she is known for playing feisty, independent characters, such as a stuntwoman in the highly rated Secret Garden (2010) and a  North Korean Special Forces Officer in  King 2 Hearts (2012).

When she met the press yesterday, she wore a siren red gown and looked nothing like the plucky, tomboyish characters she often plays. In fact, she declares herself to be no tomboy.

She says: "If you talk to my friends from my school days, they will tell you I'm nowhere like my roles in real life. I'm a quiet girl and probably one of the most feminine among my friends. This is why I enjoy acting, I can be something that I am not."

She is single and coy about whether she has a boyfriend but admits that she has thought about tying the knot after working on her recent movie, Chronicle Of A Blood Merchant, which is based on a bestselling Chinese novel by author Yu Hua. The story is about a man who lives in a village where men have to sell their blood to prove they are healthy and ready for marriage.

She says: "I had never really thought of marriage previously. But I've been working with a lot of children in my recent movie. The kids are really adorable and I enjoyed working with them and playing with them. I can envision myself starting a family and having kids. If I meet the one, I will settle down."

"The one" for her is ideally a younger man, unlike in The Empress Ki where her character is torn between a mature, manly warrior (played by Joo Jin Mo) and a younger cute admirer (Ji Chang Wook).

"I feel more comfortable hanging around younger guys. I like fun and funny guys. The pressure is not there with younger guys. I'm pretty immature myself," she says with a bashful laugh.

But marriage plans for her seem to be taking second place at the moment due to her Hollywood ambitions.

Last year, she was reported to be the first Korean artist to sign with American agency The United Talent Agency, which represents A-listers such as Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow.

She says: "I'm looking forward to showing off the Asian part of me as an actor in Hollywood. It could be any genre of film, not just action.

"I love Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep because both of them are amazing actors. They are so convincing in their roles that I often wonder how they can transform themselves completely."

Perhaps with her love for action roles, she could possibly be South Korea's answer to Angelina Jolie.

She says with a hearty laugh: "If I were to be an Angelina Jolie, I would have to be sexier."

 
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