MANILA — Upon receiving the script for the crime action series “The Worst of Evil,” its lead star Ji Chang-wook initially had doubts about the story. After all, tales of cops going undercover to take down criminal groups have been told time and again.
“But after reading the script, that [concern] was completely gone,” Ji said on Tuesday via an interpreter during an online press conference.
Set in 1990s Seoul, “The Worst of Evil” follows police officer Park Joon-mo (Ji), who infiltrates a crime organization that has been responsible for illegal drug trade in Korea and its neighboring countries.
Realizing the perils of the mission and wanting to speed up the process, Joon-mo’s wife and fellow cop Yu Eui-jung (played by Im Se-mi) joins the operation. Through this, she reunites with Jung Gi-cheul (Wi Ha-jun), the drug group’s leader who considers Eui-jung as his first love.
“So the three characters are sort of intertwined, and emotional turmoil and confusion arise and carry out the story. It’s going to be quite entertaining,” said Im, who previously starred in shows such as “True Beauty” and “Duty After School.”
Ji, who has starred in a number of action films and TV series, said “The Worst of Evil” has “its own uniqueness to it.”
“First of all, the overall visual mood is very different and the way the emotions are weaved into the story is very different too,” he explained.
For Ji, the cast members also brought something new to the table. “Because the main cast members, we are a younger generation so I have that level of confidence that we do bring a different kind of mood,” he said.
“And the character dynamics and the way they are portrayed in the undercover cop story is very different from how you have seen it before,” he added.
Im also described the show’s script as “a page turner.”
“I read it in one sitting,” she recounted. “We have this stylish action and everything, but there are different moments where there’s this whole turmoil of emotions, which really reeled me in.”
Ji said the action scenes do not merely show off brawls but also highlight the characters’ emotions. “The style of action in the show is not really about the choreography. We focused more on the emotions and how to portray those emotions through the action sequences,” he said.
“Action is basically fighting with someone but we wanted it to go deeper into why they're fighting. So what is the most effective way to show such emotional turmoil? That’s what I really focused on while doing the action sequences,” he said.
Executing fight scenes while expressing one’s emotions was something that Wi learned from Ji.
“Watching him do these action scenes, it was not just about the movement and technique. The emotions and narrative were really portrayed through the action so I think that was really amazing and I learned so much from him,” said Wi, best known for starring in the survival series “Squid Game.”
But even a longtime action star like Ji learned from Wi. “Watching Ha-jun do those action scenes, I thought his movements were so swift and great. I was really surprised at how good he was,” Ji said.
“I don’t think I’m as expressive as him in terms of the movements so I wanted to focus more on the emotions, but I learned from Ha-jun because he had such great movements,” he said.
“The Worst of Evil” is set to premiere with three episodes on Disney+ on Wednesday, September 27, with new episodes slated for release in the succeeding weeks.
Director Han Dong-wook said he was “very happy” with the show’s release date, which comes in time for the Chuseok holiday in South Korea. But he also admitted to feeling worried because “The Worst of Evil” arrives shortly after the hit superhero K-drama “Moving.”
“[Disney+] has a huge hit with ‘Moving’ so I’m thankful for that but also a little worried too… but I want to tell you that ‘The Worst of Evil’ is also a good show,” Han said.
Ji said he also felt pressure during the show’s filming but he has gotten more confident.
“I think there was a greater level of pressure while I was shooting because I wanted to do it better... I would say that there’s less [pressure] now than how I felt on set because Disney+ is backing us up and our show has a unique color,” he said.
For more news and features on K-pop, K-drama, and K-stars, visit the Hallyu Corner microsite.