Jung Ryeo-won and Wi Ha-joon, who played teacher-student turned lovers in “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon,” helped paint a hyper realistic world of “hagwon” or Korean academy.

In an email interview, the talented actors look back at their drama and their chemistry. Wi Ha-joon, who is set to hold his fan meeting in Manila in September, also talks about starring in his first romantic lead role and what comes next for him. 

“The Midnight Romance in Hagwon” is streaming on Viu Philippines.

Jung Ryeo-won and Wi Ha-joon in "The Midnight Romance in Hagwon"
Jung Ryeo-won and Wi Ha-joon play teacher-student turned lovers in “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon.” Viu Philippines

Watching the drama, we see that the hagwon culture is a microcosm of the dog eat dog society. What were your thoughts about this while shooting the drama?

JRW : I didn’t have the opportunity to experience Korean academy culture when I was young, so through this project, I’ve come to truly admire the dedication of students in Korea preparing for college entrance exams.

WHJ : Academy instructors went beyond my expectations to become trendier and more approachable to students, paying a lot of attention to their appearance as well. As a new teacher myself, I tried to show that lively, fresh charm, but it seemed a bit too much because our drama has its own unique tone. So, I found a middle ground and adjusted my tone.

Jung Ryeo-won is an academy instructor in "The Midnight Romance in Hagwon."
Jung Ryeo-won is an academy instructor in “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon.” Viu Philippines

The romantic scenes seemed so real. How were you able to build that kind of chemistry with each other?

JRW : I think it’s thanks to the director’s excellent direction skills. Our production involves many long takes, so during filming, our real personalities and habits gradually show through. There are many small mistakes (NGs) as well, but it seems like those parts are also included in the final cut. That’s why I believe viewers perceive the drama as more natural and seamless.

WHJ : Because noona treated me modestly, we were able to become close more quickly. Thanks to that, we discussed the script and our characters a lot, and from the first shoot, our chemistry was excellent. We also joked around and teased each other on set, creating a friendly atmosphere. I think those interactions naturally reflected in our acting, allowing us to improvise naturally and create richer reactions and scenes than what was written in the script.

Wi Ha-joon and Jung Ryeo-won in "The Midnight Romance in Hagwon"
Jung Ryeo-won and Wi Ha-joon play teacher-student turned lovers in “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon.” Viu Philippines

What can fans of the drama look forward to in the second half of the series?

JRW : The English title is “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon,” but in Korea, it’s titled “Graduation,” which signifies the concept of “graduation.” I think it would be great if viewers consider what this “graduation” means to the characters while watching.

WHJ : After their secret relationship is exposed, Jun-ho undergoes significant changes and growth. Watching how he overcomes this crisis for his beloved Hye-jin, I believe you will enjoy an ending that you will never regret.

Wi Ha-joon in In "The Midnight Romance in Hagwon"
In “The Midnight Romance in Hagwon,” Wi Ha-joon is an ex-student who reenters the life of his former teacher and first love. Viu Philippines

This is the first time we’ve seen you perform as a romantic lead. Was it challenging for you and can your fans expect to see this side of you more in the future?

WHJ : Even though my character Lee Jun-ho is a teacher now in the drama, Jun-ho used to be a student long ago, and now he is younger than Seo Hye-jin. I’ve often heard that I look older than my age, and Ryeo-won noona looks too young. So, I worried a lot that my youthful charm wouldn’t come through. That’s why I sometimes wear bright clothes and let my hair down in the middle.

I used to be more drawn to the action genre because I enjoyed physical activities and thought I was good at them. However, now I find romance genres appealing as well. I like bright romantic comedies and want to continue doing melodramas like ‘The Midnight Romance in Hagwon.” So, I think I’ll continue to greet you often in the romance genre.

Myla writes news stories for a living and watches K-dramas for leisure. She enjoys doing both for Hallyudorama.

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