K-drama’s new avenger: on the upcoming show, ‘My Name’

Meet Han So-hee and her co-stars in Netflix’s new revenge thriller, ‘My Name’, as they talk about finding inspiration in ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Old Guard’

As Netflix’s bloody survival series, Squid Game, continues to break viewing records across the world, it is apparent that OTT viewers are developing an insatiable appetite for the crime and thriller genre. And who doesn’t like a good revenge story, especially if the protagonist is a woman who chooses to eschew moral codes and laws for justice?

The streaming platform’s latest title, My Name, promises to be an edgy, high-octane drama. It tells the story of a high school student — bullied and ostracised for being a gangster’s daughter — who later becomes the sole witness of her father’s murder. Driven to seek revenge, she puts herself in the line of fire. My Name premiered at the Busan International Film Festival on October 6, under the newly-curated ‘On Screen’ category for OTT platforms.

Helmed by Kim Jin-min — known for taut thrillers such as Time Between Dog and Wolf (2007), Lawless Lawyer (2018), and the critically-acclaimed Extracurricular (2020) — the eight-episode crime thriller brings together actors Han So-hee, Park Hee-soon and Ahn Bo-hyun. Describing the series as “an intriguing revenge story”, the director says, “Though vengeance is a widely used theme, dominated mainly by men, I thought watching a female character on her journey to avenge her father’s death will be thrilling”.

So-hee’s transformation

The petite actor may not come across as your classic action hero at first glance, but she admits to training hard in martial arts and gaining over 10 kilos of muscle weight to headline My Name as Yoon Ji-woo. In the drama, her character gets help from her father’s close friend Mu Jin (Park Hee-soon), who also heads the biggest drug cartel. Under his guidance, she joins the police force as a mole and takes on the identity of Oh Hye-jin to investigate her father’s death.

As So-hee’s character learns to fight and defend herself, she transforms from the meek Ji-woo to the ruthless Hye-jin. Playing the central character came with a sense of deep responsibility says the actor, a fan of the action noir genre herself, and recently seen in Nevertheless and The World of the Married. She says there was no room to fake any aspect of her character — physically and mentally. On a video call with a translator, she adds, “When we started, I thought I could pull it off easily but once my training began, the realisation of the responsibility I carried struck me. I had to strike a balance and exude energy to lead the whole series. While that made me tense and nervous, it motivated me to give my best.”

So-hee reveals that Charlize Theron’s action scenes in Atomic Blonde and Old Guard inspired her, but she also looked within for references. “My character Ji-woo is a lot like me — we are driven to get to our destination once we have set a goal for ourselves.” As Ji-woo charts her own journey of self-discovery, her portrayal of competing in a world of toxic male violence is nuanced. The intense action scenes aside, what strikes one is the eerily blue tone of the scenes which reflect the narrative’s cold and dark theme.

The Godfather effect

Meanwhile, co-star Hee-soon describes his character Mu Jin as a “very complex man”. He says it was tough to play such a role on-screen. “The director and cast members helped me tide through the challenges I had in expressing my character.There are not many movies or shows I could refer to for the role of a drug lord, so I had to rely on classics such as The Godfather over and over again,” he says.

Incidentally, it was the idea of working withdirector Jin-min that drew the third actor in our interview, Ahn Bo-hyun (Itaewon Class), to this project. Playing the brusque detective Pildo investigating drug cartels, Bo-hyun says he had to work on looking the part physically. “He upholds his values and ethics, and I tried to find similarities between the character and myself to make him as real as possible,” says the actor, who is currently a part of psychological romance, Yumi’s Cells.

My Name will stream on Netflix from October 15.

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