Narcotics lord story ‘Suriname’… ‘Propofol’ Ha Jung-woo before and after Chuseok comeback

[일요신문] ‘Prolific King’, ‘Ticket Power’, ‘King of Success’… . These are gorgeous modifiers that describe Ha Jung-woo. Ha Jung-woo is one of the protagonists of the Korean film renaissance, where two or three films with 10 million viewers a year were created. Each of the works he appeared in such as ‘Along with the Gods’ and ‘Assassination’ hit a box office hit one after another and became the star actor with the most greed for the cast. With his unique healthy and humorous charm, he was also loved by the audience.

Ha Jung-woo’s unshakable popularity was in crisis when he was tried for illegally administering propofol, a sleep inducer designated as a narcotic. Ha Jung-woo spent the longest period of hiatus since his debut, as none of his appearances were released during the past two years, suffering from related controversies and aftereffects. He was an actor who was considered a symbol of ‘production’ by digesting more than two works a year, but he is facing the biggest crisis since his debut due to the propofol controversy.

That Ha Jung-woo will appear in front of the public again. On the 9th, the first day of Chuseok holiday, Netflix’s six-part drama ‘Suriname’ is his comeback work. Returning exactly two years and seven months after the starring movie ‘The Closet’, which was released in February 2020, Ha Jung-woo joined hands with his longtime film partner, director Yoon Jong-bin, whom he had been with since his debut. He is put to the test to regain his former popularity as an actor with a strong ally who has been successful every time he works together.

‘Suriname’, in which Ha Jung-woo returns to the public, is based on the true story of Jo Bong-haeng, a Korean who became a drug lord in Suriname, a country located in the northern part of the South American continent. Photo = Captured from the official trailer for Netflix’s ‘Suriname’

#Ha Jung-woo, who was on the verge of winning, is the key to overcoming the image blow

In August 2020, Ha Jung-woo, who was actively appearing in the movie, stopped his activities when he was handed over to trial for illegally administering propofol. The public was shocked by the allegations that he illegally administered psychotropic drugs, who was loved for his passionate and healthy image that he is usually known as a ‘walking evangelist’.

At the time, the prosecution revealed that Ha Jung-woo illegally administered propofol 19 times at a plastic surgery clinic in Gangnam-gu, Seoul from January to September 2019. Ha Jung-woo immediately protested against these allegations. It was an explanation that he was under sleep anesthesia while receiving a procedure to treat troubles such as facial scars caused by special makeup. However, during the prosecution’s investigation, Ha Jung-woo made a reservation at the hospital under a car’s name, and the controversy spread out of control as it was further confirmed that he had written false medical records nine times.

In the end, Ha Jung-woo was sentenced to a fine of 30 million won for violating the Narcotics Control Act at the first trial in September 2021. Some pointed out that Ha Jung-woo’s illegal drug charges were serious as the sentence was higher than the sentence the prosecution had previously requested (a fine of 10 million won). Ha Jung-woo gave up the appeal and the verdict of the first trial was confirmed.

Propofol, used as a sleep inducer, is classified as a psychotropic drug and is strictly managed. Celebrities who were previously accused of illegally taking the drug caused a lot of controversy in society, and in the aftermath, there were frequent cases where they stopped their entertainment activities. Ha Jung-woo also couldn’t stop his image from falling. The appearance of the star actor, who had received full support from the public for his image full of health, bowed his head in court, came as a shock in itself.

Ha Jung-woo, who attended the first trial sentencing, was also unfamiliar. He was loved for his confident appearance, but he also showed a nervous expression when he attended the trial. At that time, Ha Jung-woo bowed his head to the reporters he met at the courthouse, saying, “I’m so sorry to show this to you.” After that, Ha Jung-woo disappeared for about a year. The release of the film that had finished filming was delayed, and the CF that served as his model stopped all at once.

Ha Jung-woo, who attended the first trial sentencing, was also unfamiliar. He was loved for his confident appearance, but he also showed a nervous expression when he attended the trial. At that time, Ha Jung-woo bowed his head, saying, “I’m so sorry to show you this way.” Photo = Reporter Choi Jun-pil

Jungwoo Ha directly suggests material ideas

‘Suriname’, in which Ha Jung-woo returns to the public, is based on the true story of Jo Bong-haeng, a Korean who became a drug lord in Suriname, a country located in the northern part of the South American continent. It is ironic that Ha Jung-woo, who was fined for violating the Narcotics Control Act, is making a comeback through the story of a drug lord.

In fact, Ha Jung-woo’s role was decisive for the production of ‘Suriname’. This project started when Ha Jung-woo, who heard that a Korean drug godfather existed in a South American country whose name was unfamiliar, presented his idea to director Yoon Jong-bin, a ‘movie comrade’. It was originally planned as a movie, but in the process of rising production costs due to the spread of Corona 19 and the location in South America, it turned to a Netflix series rather than a movie, and it was born as a six-part drama. It is a blockbuster with a total production cost of 35 billion won.

‘Suriname’ is the story of a private businessman who is framed by a Korean drug lord and cooperates in a secret operation with the National Intelligence Service. Ha Jung-woo takes on the role of Kang In-goo, a private businessman who came to South America to earn his big money, and Hwang Jung-min plays the drug godfather Jeon Yo-hwan, who got a motif from the real person Jo Bong-haeng. This is the first time Ha Jung-woo and Hwang Jung-min have appeared in the same work.

Ha Jung-woo has high expectations for his comeback work ‘Suriname’. It is a work that will fill the gap of two years, the longest period since his debut, and his attachment is also strong because it is a story that was born from his own ideas. Through the production team of ‘Suriname’, Ha Jung-woo expressed his expectations, saying, “The overall story and development are interesting” and “the characters are also very attractive.” Just before the release of the work, it seems that he will meet with reporters to introduce the work and reveal his feelings about the past controversy.

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Jung-woo Ha and director Jong-bin Yoon (pictured), who are seniors and juniors at Chung-Ang University, made their splendid debut in the film industry in 2005 with the feature film ‘The Unforgiven’. Since then, he has worked with four episodes, including ‘The Beastie Boys’, ‘The War Against Crime: The Age of Bad Guys’, and ‘Kundo: The Age of Rebellion’. Photo = Reporter Park Jung-hoon

Jungwoo Ha and Jongbin Yoon, will the collaboration succeed again this time?

Now, attention is focused on whether Ha Jung-woo will achieve a satisfactory return through ‘Suriname’. Industry expectations are positive. This is because the trust in the partnership between Ha Jung-woo and director Yoon Jong-bin is so thick. Director Ha Jung-woo and Yoon Jong-bin, who are seniors and juniors at Chung-Ang University, made their splendid debut in the film industry in 2005 with the feature film ‘The Unforgiven’. Since then, he has worked with four episodes, including ‘The Beastie Boys’, ‘War on Crime: The Age of Bad Guys’ and ‘Kundo: Age of Rebellion’.

Of course there are risks. It is not easy to predict whether Ha Jung-woo will be able to recover the image he has lost with one piece of ‘Suriname’. If the completeness of the work is excellent and the actor demonstrates his true value, it is relatively easy to regain the public mind, but the opposite situation cannot be overlooked. In particular, considering that Netflix’s original series, ‘Paper House: Common Economic Zone’, ‘Carter’ and ‘Exemplary Family’, have been criticized one after another, even as ‘Suriname’, I cannot be optimistic.

There is another reason why ‘Suriname’ is important to Ha Jung-woo. This is because, in addition to the symbolism of a comeback, it also serves as a test bed for estimating the public’s reaction to other works that are about to be released later. Ha Jung-woo finished filming the historical movie ‘Boston 1947’ before getting embroiled in the propofol controversy, and continued filming the movies ‘Night Trip’ and ‘Abduction’ right after receiving a fine in 2021. Each episode is a masterpiece, with production costs ranging from 10 billion won to 20 billion won.

Prior to the controversy, it would have been considered a highly anticipated Korean movie just because it was a work by Ha Jung-woo, but now the situation is different. As the result of ‘Suriname’, which is a comeback work, is highly likely to affect Ha Jung-woo’s activities in the future, the filmmakers ahead of the release are also not able to let go of their tension.

Ho-yeon Lee, pop culture critic


The article is in Korean

Tags: Narcotics lord story Suriname .. Propofol Jungwoo Chuseok comeback

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