Ha Ji Won has it all: Beauty, brains and brawn

Empress Ki actress Ha Ji Won is nothing like the strong and masculine onscreen characters she plays in real life

Ha Ji Won has it all: Beauty, brains and brawn

Photos: Joanna Goh & Teo Sijia
Videos: Vina Chia

She’s always game to do an action-based drama or role, has no qualms roughing it out on a horse’s back for hours or sparring with her co-actors with sword in hand. That’s the Ha Ji Won we’ve all grown to know from her masculine-type roles on TV and movies that she’s so popularly known for in recent years, as seen in Secret Garden, Sector 7, The King 2 Hearts and, Empress Ki – just to name a few.

But beneath that steely stare and masculine image she masquerades herself in, Ji Won is evidently characterised by these two words in real life: giggly and girlish. She’s easily tickled by the slightest remarks and self-proclaims to be the “most feminine” person amongst her school mates while growing up, during her Empress Ki press conference yesterday, at Conrad Hotel.

Sharing a few comments made by her friends, whom she said were all surprised by her tough image on TV, Ji Won quipped: “If you talk to my friends who were with me through primary school, high school or university, they’d know that I’m nowhere near all the roles I play. And my friends tell me ‘what a surprise that you’re doing this’ and make remarks like ‘this is really not like you.’ But this is something I want to do as my career because it’s something I can be and I’m not, and I probably long for.”

Candid in her words, Ji Won was very genuine and thoughtful with her answers, and she was more than ready to share a few beauty tips and tricks with the media, when the topic of her smooth complexion was brought up.

She even spoke about coping with sleepless nights (five nights a week, she says) for the 6 to 7 months of filming Empress by maintaining a good diet which consisted of “a lot of nuts, fruits and yoghurt and homemade lunch boxes” from her mum, and dealt with stress by healing herself with “good music, books and design magazines I enjoy to read.”

And of course, filming in the great outdoors helped too, said Ji Won, with the copious amounts of fresh air she got at work.

Playing a character who is caught in the middle of a love triangle with two kings (played by Joo Jin-mo and Ji Chang-wook) of two warring countries in Empress Ki, Ji Won was put in a spot when she was asked to name a fellow male actor whom she shares the most chemistry with.

“That’s a difficult question,” she mused in reply, “I can’t really say who is better or worse, probably because I had great chemistry with all the actors I worked with.”

Explaining that she’s friends with her co-stars and still keeps in touch with them, she surmised, “I never had trouble with them or fought with them. So to really point out one person would not be nice to the rest (laughs) so I think I’d keep the comment to myself,” shrouding her answer in complete secrecy.

While that’s a mystery we’ll never know the answer to, Ji Won namedrops a male actor whom she hopes to collaborate with again, to satiate our curiosity, in our interview with her after the press conference. Read on to find out who this lucky guy is.

WATCH: Is Ha Ji Won a stunt woman in real life?

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