K-idol Rain says he did not do much preparation for topless scenes in new K-drama


'Red Swan' stars Rain (left) and Kim Ha-neul. Photo: Handout

He is no stranger to action flicks, having carved out a career in his native South Korea and even Hollywood as an action hero.

However, Jung Ji-hoon, better known as Rain, steered clear of the action genre in his last two K-dramas, Ghost Doctor (2022) and Welcome 2 Life (2019).

With the new revenge thriller Red Swan, the 42-year-old – also one of South Korea’s top music artistes – returns to his action roots.

Rain plays tough-as-nails bodyguard Seo Do-yoon, who is assigned to protect Oh Wan-soo (Kim Ha-neul), a former pro golfer who now runs a charity foundation after marrying the heir of the Hwain Group conglomerate. Amid a terrorist attack, an attempted assassination and power struggles within the family, Wan-soo finds herself relying on Do-yoon not just for physical protection, but also emotional support.

While Rain has demonstrated his deft fighting chops as the titular killer in the Hollywood flick Ninja Assassin (2009) and as a private investigator in K-drama The Fugitive: Plan B (2010), he declared that the realistic action sequences in Red Swan are not what his fans have seen him do.

Apart from a story that features “many twists and turns”, the 10-episode series boasts intense and fierce action, which naturally fell on the leading man’s shoulders.

“I wanted to do something that looked really impactful,” said Rain via an interpreter at a virtual press conference from Seoul on July 2.

The heartthrob said he spent much time talking to South Korean director Park Hong-kyun about the action sequences, as they were “something on the top of my mind as we were working on it”.

As both wanted to show them in full, Park, 53, shot them in long takes, which meant Rain had to perform most of the fights himself.

“I feel guilty about using stunt doubles. I really want to do everything myself,” said the K-idol.

“Plus, I think I should be earning my pay cheque by doing as much as I can,” he added with a chuckle.

In Red Swan, Rain plays a bodyguard who is assigned to protect a former pro golfer. Photo: Handout In Red Swan, Rain plays a bodyguard who is assigned to protect a former pro golfer. Photo: Handout

South Korean actress Kim, 46, was full of praise for her co-star. She knew she was in good hands in all the action scenes because she had complete trust that Rain could pull them off.

“There was a scene where he had to carry me. I did not have to worry if I was too heavy for him. He is so strong, so I knew I could rely on him,” said the star, best known for films like My Girlfriend Is An Agent (2009) and Blind (2011), as well as dramas such as On Air (2008).

Fans can expect Rain’s famously chiselled physique to be on display in Red Swan, though he denied doing much preparation for his topless scenes.

If he did push-ups or pumped iron before shooting, the muscles would appear “too fake, and would not look good”, he reasoned.

The hunky entertainer – who is married to South Korean actress Kim Tae-hee and has two children aged six and four – added: “I tried to refrain from channelling too much of myself into the character. Thankfully, Ha-neul and I had great chemistry and we got along very well. She helped me a lot.”

What Rain found challenging during filming was pulling off the emotional scenes, as his character does not have much dialogue. Portraying a bodyguard, he needed to maintain a poker face and had to rely on his eyes to emote.

“The script would say, ‘Do-yoon looks at Wan-soo and he understands everything’, and that’s it,” said Rain, explaining that he needed to do a lot of “eyeball” acting.

“As you know, my eyes are not the largest, so I would skip dinner because I couldn’t afford to have a puffy face,” he said with a laugh, adding that it would make his eyes look even smaller.

“I would also go for morning runs before filming... that’s how passionate I was.”

Said Park: “A lot of the spotlight is on Rain as an action actor, but he is also very emotionally expressive. He has validated himself as an actor in many shows. I have no doubt about his acting ability. He is a master at what he does.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Red Swan is available on Disney+ Hotstar.

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