‘Midnight Runners’ prepped Kang Ha Neul for military service

WARNING: Loads of smiley, adorable photos ahead – proceed with caution

Director Jason Kim and Kang Ha Neul with a cardboard cutout of Park Seo Joon
Director Jason Kim and Kang Ha Neul with a cardboard cutout of Park Seo Joon
31 Aug 2017

Director Jason Kim and Kang Ha Neul with a cardboard cutout of Park Seo Joon

Photos: Tammi Tan, Golden Village Pictures
Video: Genice Ooi

There is a scene in South Korean film Midnight Runners where its two main characters, police trainees Gi Jun and Hee Yeol (played by Park Seo Joon and Kang Ha Neul respectively), are practising their best lady-killer smiles before heading to a nightclub to find love (minor spoiler alert: things hilariously don’t go quite as planned).

Ha Neul, who is almost as renowned for his megawatt beam as he is for his versatile acting chops, clearly does not have any grinning problems in real life. Well, except when you put him on the spot and get him to replicate the entire sequence in front of a room full of reporters, which is what happened to the poor lad at yesterday’s press conference in Singapore. He ended up guffawing in shame.

Another cheeky challenge that was imposed on him by the mischievous emcee had him making multiple attempts to utter the word “chio bu” (“pretty girl” in Hokkien), which also wasn’t exactly a smooth-sailing endeavour (poor Ha Neul). Still, the good-natured 27-year-old took it all in his stride, flashing his pearly whites so often our cheeks ached for him.

And this radiant, big-ball-of-sunshine-and-positivity behaviour from Ha Neul isn’t just one big PR display, if Midnight Runners director Jason Kim’s testimony is anything to go by. In a group interview after the press conference, Jason shared that even when facing harsh conditions on set, such as freezing temperatures or exhaustion, “I have not seen a single moment of [Ha Neul] losing his temper; he’s just a nice guy with a gentle heart.”

We’re sure fans of Ha Neul hope he will carry this attitude with him when he enlists for his mandatory two-year army stint on September 11, where he will serve as a military police officer. In fact, he stated that working on Midnight Runners has “prepared him mentally and physically” for enlistment, while clarifying, “There were no concrete plans for me to enlist when we were filming this movie, so I didn’t accept the role just to prepare myself for the army.”

Click on for more photos and to find out what else we learned from Ha Neul during the Midnight Runners press conference and group interview!

Kang Ha Neul
Kang Ha Neul
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul

There are a lot of action scenes in Midnight Runners. Were there any injuries?
Ha Neul:
A lot of people think that when it comes to action scenes, there are a lot of injuries, but in reality that’s not true. Everyone knows that it’s dangerous, so we put in a lot of extra effort and trained doubly hard to prepare for the action scenes. The director also emphasised on safety as a top priority, so there were no injuries and everything was perfectly executed.

Did Ha Neul and Seo Joon really undergo real police academy training for the movie?
Jason:
No, those [training scenes] were all made up, but there is a real two-week military programme just like it.
Ha Neul: Still, it was very difficult. (laughs) The director wanted everything to be as genuine as possible, so he made us feel as if we were really undergoing actual police training!

There is a scene where Ha Neul and Seo Joon are tied up, and Ha Neul tries to wake Seo Joon up by spitting on him. What was making that scene like?
Ha Neul:
It wasn’t done in one take but Seo Joon was very professional [about being “spat” on]. Of course, I didn’t really spit on his face, but I still had to be filmed doing it, and it was so hard to spit in the correct direction that I had to do it over and over again until we got it right! [Host: How did you prepare for that? Did you drink a lot of water?] I don’t think that’s something you can prepare for. (laughs)

Kang Ha Neul fools around with
Kang Ha Neul fools around with "Park Seo Joon"
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul fools around with "Park Seo Joon"

What was it like working with Seo Joon for the first time?
Ha Neul:
Our relationship went beyond just being co-workers – we felt like real brothers working on the same movie together.

Who is more likely to get arrested: Ha Neul or Seo Joon?
Ha Neul:
It would probably be me because Seo Joon is exactly like his character – someone who is righteous, upright and would never do anything that’s against the law. Now, I’m not saying that I’m someone who’s not afraid to break the law, but I think my thoughts are a bit more liberal than his! (laughs)

Your characters go out looking for girls early in the movie. What’s your ideal type?
Ha Neul:
A girl who is professional and really puts her heart into what she does. I also believe that communication is very important, so I hope she is someone whom I can communicate comfortably with.

Kang Ha Neul
Kang Ha Neul
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul

What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you at midnight?
Ha Neul: I remember being in Paris at midnight and being totally amazed that it was still so bright outside even though it was already so late. I’m not sure what it’s called in English…white night?

Were you, like your character, a very good student in school?
Ha Neul:
In terms of my grades, no. (laughs) My grades were definitely not as good as my character’s, but I was a student who tried to enjoy my school life to the fullest.

You recently starred in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo. Is it more challenging to act in period dramas or modern ones?
Ha Neul:
I can’t say which one is harder because I feel that regardless of the time period, every show revolves around human relationships and emotions, so the biggest challenges come from delivering those emotions and interactions. Whether it’s a period drama or a modern drama is just a genre.

Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim at the meet-and-greet session at Bugis Square
Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim at the meet-and-greet session at Bugis Square
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim at the meet-and-greet session at Bugis Square

A few lucky fans got hugs from Ha Neul at the meet-and-greet event
A few lucky fans got hugs from Ha Neul at the meet-and-greet event
31 Aug 2017

A few lucky fans got hugs from Ha Neul at the meet-and-greet event

Kang Ha Neul and a cardboard cutout of Park Seo Joon
Kang Ha Neul and a cardboard cutout of Park Seo Joon
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul and a cardboard cutout of Park Seo Joon

Kang Ha Neul salutes Park Seo Joon's cardboard cutout as it is carried off the stage (ha!)
Kang Ha Neul salutes Park Seo Joon's cardboard cutout as it is carried off the stage (ha!)
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul salutes Park Seo Joon's cardboard cutout as it is carried off the stage (ha!)

Kang Ha Neul (look at that smile!)
Kang Ha Neul (look at that smile!)
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul (look at that smile!)

A compilation of several of Ha Neul's (many, many) laughing shots. You're welcome.
A compilation of several of Ha Neul's (many, many) laughing shots. You're welcome.
31 Aug 2017

A compilation of several of Ha Neul's (many, many) laughing shots. You're welcome.

Oh, why so surprised, Ha Neul?
Oh, why so surprised, Ha Neul?
31 Aug 2017

Oh, why so surprised, Ha Neul?

Kang Ha Neul
Kang Ha Neul
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul

Kang Ha Neul attempts to re-enact his awkward grin from the movie...
Kang Ha Neul attempts to re-enact his awkward grin from the movie...
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul attempts to re-enact his awkward grin from the movie...

... but ends up being (adorably) embarrassed.

Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim share a laugh at the press conference
Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim share a laugh at the press conference
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim share a laugh at the press conference

Jason Kim and Kang Ha Neul
Jason Kim and Kang Ha Neul
31 Aug 2017

Jason Kim and Kang Ha Neul

Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim at a special screening of 'Midnight Runners'
Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim at a special screening of 'Midnight Runners'
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul and Jason Kim at a special screening of 'Midnight Runners'

Kang Ha Neul and Park Seo Joon looking sharp and smart in a still from 'Midnight Runners'
Kang Ha Neul and Park Seo Joon looking sharp and smart in a still from 'Midnight Runners'
31 Aug 2017

Kang Ha Neul and Park Seo Joon looking sharp and smart in a still from 'Midnight Runners'

Park Seo Joon and Kang Ha Neul on the set of 'Midnight Runners'
Park Seo Joon and Kang Ha Neul on the set of 'Midnight Runners'
31 Aug 2017

Park Seo Joon and Kang Ha Neul on the set of 'Midnight Runners'

Midnight Runners opens in cinemas on September 7.

Watch:
What is Kang Ha Neul’s ideal type?

Related:
Kang Ha Neul arm-wrestles fans at Midnight Runners premiere in Hong Kong
Kang Ha Neul wishes to be a young father?
Kang Ha Neul: Every moment with Baek Hyun and Ji Soo was fun

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