STORIES TIMEKEEPERS: KOREAN ACTOR WI, HA JUN
In this series of interviews, we are meeting people for whom time really is of the essence. Our guests are real-life examples of how critical a millisecond can be. And it doesn’t hurt that they have some truly fascinating things to say on the subject… from entrepreneurs to some of the world’s best athletes, via time-walking wonders of all stripes (many of whom might as well be part-time philosophers), to discover how the best of the best keep, bend, or travel through time as we know it.
We talked to Squid Game sensation and TAG Heuer local brand ambassador Wi, Ha Joon about the show’s viral success and his rise to stardom. Having grown up on an abalone farm on the island of Soando in South Korea, the thirty year old actor recalls an idyllic childhood between the sea and the mountains and his journey to becoming a household name. Here at TAG Heuer, we admire his unstoppable passion and unmatched style, and managed to catch him for an exclusive interview.
You’re practically a household name now, but how did you get your start as an actor?
It started with a dance club in middle school. I was so delighted to stand on stage and receive cheers and applause. And then, when I went to Seoul to attend an acting academy, I discovered my own passion for theatre. My dream of becoming an actor naturally grew and solidified.
What was your first role?
As Edmund, a character from Shakespeare’s King Lear, a part I used to audition for university. When I think about it now, I smile at my 19-year-old self, just getting started.
In general, how do you prepare for your roles?
I train and practice a lot, doing research, too. I also tend to prepare by discussing the detailed emotions of the character with the director. Sometimes I have to learn new things, like for my role in Gonjiam from 2018, I had to overcome a fear of swimming.
Talk to us about your experience shooting Squid Game.
It was a really amazing experience with an incredible team. The atmosphere was good, so shooting difficult scenes often went smoothly, because we were all able to rely on one another.
Wi, Ha Jun wearing the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4
How do you feel about the sensation that the show has become?
It’s like a dream. I thought it would be recognized as a good work, but I never expected it to be this successful. I feel really lucky, and also happy and overwhelmed. I want to say thank you to everyone who has watched and loved Squid Game!
How is time or timing a factor in your work as an actor? And how do you experience time on set versus in real life?
As with every job, being on time is important! I also feel that time flies much faster when I’m on set.
In terms of how you keep time, what was your first watch, if you can remember?
Wearing a watch really means a lot to me. It’s not just a fashion item, but a tool. My first watch was a G-Shock which I wore in the army.
How does the TAG Heuer Connect Calibre E4 fit into your lifestyle?
TAG Heuer is a brand with history and style. The new Caibre E4 looks good whether I’m going for something more casual or formal. It is also very comfortable and practical, with innovative functions, so it’s useful especially when I’m exercising.
We’re glad you mentioned exercise! Tell us about your routine.
There is nothing special about my exercise routine. I just try to do it as often as possible. I tend to train at high intensities and at short intervals, with a focus on building muscle.
How does time play a role in your exercise regimen?
Time is really important. I don’t like to be pressed for time when exercising, but I can always adjust the intensity as needed, especially if I’m short on time, while shooting, for example. When I’m not on set, I have more flexibility.
Would you describe yourself as competitive? What are your goals when working out?
I used to be! But now, rather than focusing on competition, I focus on doing my best. I know that I have a small frame, so I do workouts that fit me. My aim is always to maintain health and strength.
What do acting and sport have in common, in your opinion?
I consider both acting and sports as art forms, expressing themselves through delicacy and dynamic behavior. Also, you need effort and tenacity to make it in both!
What advice do you have for aspiring actors and fitness junkies?
I’m not used to giving advice, but what I would say to those who dream of becoming actors is to keep trying even though the reality is difficult. Don’t give up! And for sports enthusiasts, exercising is so good, but above all, be sure to value your health, to find a healthy routine for you.