No character popular South Korean actress Gianna Jun has played before in her nearly two-decade career could prepare her for her hardest role to date - a mother.
Jun, 35, gave birth to her first child, a son, in February last year, four years after marrying a longtime friend, Mr Choi Joon Hyuk, who reportedly works in finance.
She says: "You can never be ready to become a mother. I thought I knew how it would be like by watching videos, talking to friends and reading about it.
"But experiencing it first-hand is just so different. It is by far the hardest, but most satisfying, role I've taken." The Straits Times interviewed her by e-mail.
Six months after childbirth, she plunged back into work, playing a mermaid in the drama series Legend Of The Blue Sea.
The lanky actress loves swimming and taking dips in the cool sea, but she struggled with flapping around in a mermaid tail in the water.
"This is my first and last time playing a mermaid," she says.
"It is always interesting to play characters that are out of this world, but it was really physically taxing to have to film underwater in the mermaid costume.
"At first, I was struggling to open my eyes wide underwater. It is a natural reaction for my eyes to squint underwater, so I had to keep practising till I looked natural on camera."
What seems to come naturally to her is comedy.
She tickled viewers with her mermaid's clueless antics on land - digging into spaghetti with her bare hands and repeatedly pulling out sheet after sheet of tissue paper from a box like an amused child.
The last episode of the series airs tonight (Jan 26). Legend has rated well in Singapore, topping the ratings in its time slot on Thursday and Friday nights on StarHub TV.
In her previous megahit series, My Love From The Star (2013), she put her gift for comic timing to use as a bimbotic superstar actress with a habit of using accented English words for dramatic effect.
Creating comedy for the two K-dramas was challenging for her. She says: "I have to always be proactive and enthusiastic. I felt the pressure to come up with a different funny antic to entertain the audience in each episode."
In fact, she had already proven to be a talented comic actor over a decade ago, in the romantic comedy hit My Sassy Girl (2001), where she played the brash girlfriend of a meek college dork (Cha Tae Hyun).
The duo reunited on the set of Legend, where Cha made a cameo as a conman attempting to cheat her mermaid character.
Jun says she felt nostalgic meeting her Sassy Girl co-star: "He is still as comical as ever.
"We've both grown up so much over the years, it's unbelievable how long it has been since the movie.
"He is a big boss of an entertainment agency now and I jokingly said I won't dare to bully him now like I did before in My Sassy Girl."
This article was first published on Jan 26, 2017.
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