Sept 22, 2006
The actress Ha Ji-won came close to despair while practicing the wide range of skills needed for her role as "Hwang Jin-I," a famous Chosun-era gisaeng or female entertainer, in a new KBS mini-series. Her head endured the leaden weight of a big decorative wig or gachae. Ha confessed to the suffering, saying, "The gachae is too heavy. My neck is already stiff, although I’ve only filmed three episodes. It’s too painful to sleep." Her fingers are blistered and bruised due to hours of practicing the gayageum, a 12-stringed Korean harp, and geomungo, the six-stringed zither at which the Chosun-era entertainers excelled. Ha is even practicing even tightrope-walking.
To keep up her strength, she is eating eels, which are believed to be good for stamina. And her pains are rewarded with a sense achievement: after all, she now has several skills she never dreamed of. "I want to break away from the typical image of gisaeng and create a new one to win approval from women," she says.