Cover Jun Ji-hyun’s newest K-drama marks her return to the small screen. Here’s why you shouldn’t miss it (Photo: tvN)

Jun Ji-Hyun, South Korea’s highest-paid actress is making her comeback in the new K-drama, Jirisan. Here’s why you shouldn’t miss it

Jirisan, the iQiyi original drama starring South Korea’s highest-paid celebrity, Jun Ji-hyun is finally gracing our screens this October 2021. The newest K-drama is one of the most anticipated this year especially as Jun makes her small-screen comeback after five years.

Riding on the wave of successful iQiyi original such as Yumi’s Cells and My Roommate is a Gumiho, Jirisan is surely here to bring the same level of production and appeal. Here, we list down some facts about the show and why you shouldn’t miss it.

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1. The return of Jun Ji-hyun

Jun Ji-hyun, one of Asia’s most recognisable actresses is making her return to the small screen for Jirisan. While Jun briefly appeared in the Netflix special episode, Kingdom: Ashin of the North, Jirisan marks her full-fledged comeback since 2016’s Legend of the Blue Sea opposite Lee Min-ho.

While taking on a role with action sequences isn’t new to Jun, she’s well-known for her goddess-like image. For Jirisan, Jun takes on a new challenge and sheds off her elegant image in her 24-year-long career. She will showcase a new side and skill in the K-drama. “Actually, I didn’t accept the role because I wished to play a strong woman as women today are already stronger in character. I never thought I would play a park ranger, to me, this is a brand new experience,” she reveals during the drama’s press conference.

She said that the filming process wasn’t as hard as she would’ve thought. “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.”

The production team also shared that first and only actress that they wanted for the role was Jun Ji-hyun.

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2. The master director and screenwriter

Screenwriter and playwright is one of the most well-known screenwriters in South Korean television. She gained prominence for her work in the sci-fi crime drama, Signal. The series received widespread acclaim from viewers and critics alike. It remains one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in TV history.

In 2016, Kim took on her most ambitious project yet—the political horror period series, Kingdom which is also one of Netflix’s first original Korean series. It received critical acclaim and was immediately renewed for a second season. Jirisan is the reunion project between Jun—whom she worked with for the special episode—and Ju Ji-hoon, who stars in the Kingdom series.

“I’ve worked with writer Kim for five years. She’s like a relative, someone who I will greet during a festival, and we meet often. Her scripts are extremely detailed,” said Ju.

In addition to screenwriter Kim Eun-hee, renowned K-drama director, Lee Eung-bok is helming the drama. Lee worked on some of the biggest hits of the decade including Descendants of the Sun, Goblin and Mr Sunshine. “I feel that I’ve only talked about murders, but I do feel a need for the show to heal the soul. That is why we have chosen to follow the story of park rangers among the mountain, trees and nature of Jirisan,” director Lee said.

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3. Jun Ji-hyun and Ju Ji-hoon’s first team-up

Jun Ji-hyun and Ju Ji-hoon not only have similar-sounding names but the two also exist in the Kingdom universe, although their characters haven’t crossed paths yet. It’s an exciting tease for fans to see the two work together in another series before their characters in Kingdom meet. During the press conference, Jun praised her partnership with Ju, saying she felt at “ease” during filming.

Meanwhile, Ju said that he has been a fan of Jun for a long time. “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.”

The two will be having a senior-junior relationship in the drama so it will be exciting to see how their relationship develops as the story progresses.

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4. The star-studded cast

In addition to the main leads, Jirisan also boasts a star-studded supporting cast including Oh Jung-se, Cho Han-chul and Sung Dong-il. They revealed that viewers can also look forward to their chemistry. Oh, Cho and Jung are teammates in the series and will have plenty of bickering moments.

Sung shared that Oh can bring on the laughs. “The three of us in the series are of the same age, I’m very happy with that. Jun jumped 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 three supporting cast members are notable for their roles in other Korean dramas. Oh is best known in It’s Okay to Not be Okay and When the Camellia Blooms—winning the Best Supporting Actor award for both dramas. Cho is most recently seen in Vincenzo while Sung has made numerous movies and TV shows since 1987.

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5. The OST lineup

Other than the stunning cinematography and landscape around Jirisan, we can also expect a great soundtrack. The OST is curated by Gaemi who has worked on the soundtrack of mega K-dramas such as Descendants of the Sun and The King: Eternal Monarch.

The lineup includes Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon, Nell’s Kim Jong-wan and Gaho. All three have worked on K-drama OSTs such as Hotel del Luna, The King and Itaewon Class. Meanwhile, the main theme song will be performed by BTS’ Jin and will be released halfway through the series. It will be Jin’s first solo work after previously working with BTS’ V on Even if I Die, It’s You from Hwarang.

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6. An exciting plot

Jirisan is a refreshing drama that follows a team of national park rangers who are responsible for the search and rescue on Jirisan. Jun Ji-hyun will play an experienced ranger, Seo Yi-gang while Ju Ji-hoon is a rookie ranger, Kang Hyun-jo. Together, the two will unravel the secrets of the peak. Viewers can look forward to the exciting rescue missions but also the mysteries and suspense as well as the heartwarming stories of the people they encounter.

Screenwriter Kim shared that Jirisan was inspired by a previous story she wrote where a police officer needs to find the cause of a murder. For Jirisan, instead of a murder taking place, she wanted to highlight how the rangers prevent incidents. 

“Few actors have worked with writer Kim consecutively. I am very thankful for that. The charm in her scripts is that details that seem unimportant at the start, turn out to be crucial at the end,” said Jun.

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Jirisan premieres on October 23 on iQiyi.



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