South Korean actress Suzy smokes and swears as a retired K-pop idol in Doona!
In the new coming-of-age romance series Doona!, South Korean actress Bae Suzy returns to her K-pop girl group roots.
The 29-year-old, better known by her mononym Suzy, stars as the titular vocalist of a K-pop girl group called Dream Sweet who quits at her peak for unknown reasons.
The troubled star moves into a sharehouse to hide from the world and develops a romance with her neighbour, innocent university student Won-jun (Yang Se-jong).
Here are five things the leads and director Lee Jung-hyo tell the regional press over an online conference call on Wednesday about the K-drama, which premieres on Netflix on Friday.
1) Idol once more
Suzy (Start-Up, 2020), a member of the now-disbanded girl group Miss A from 2010 to 2017, says: “It’s been a long time since I’ve sung and danced onstage, so those scenes in Doona! brought back fond memories.”
But her character Doona’s anxiety over fame is not unfamiliar to Suzy as well.
She adds: “There were moments when I was struggling, but I ignored them and still tried to be a bright and bubbly person. But Doona is different. She will let herself feel the pain and I quite admire that.”
Fans can also expect Doona’s scenes as an idol to be authentic, given that they were filmed at K-pop music festival KCON Japan in October 2022, during a pre-show event.
2) “De-ageing” for a comeback role
While Yang may not be in his early 20s like Won-jun, director Lee Jung-hyo (Crash Landing On You, 2019 to 2020) still found him perfect for the role.
Lee says: “There’s such a naivety and childlike quality to Won-jun. When I was speaking to Yang, I really felt that quality in him and thought, ‘Wow, he’s really Won-jun.’ I love that about him.”
3) A smoking, swearing “stray cat”
Suzy may have earned the moniker of “Nation’s First Love” in South Korea for her beauty and sweet disposition, but Doona smokes and swears and is incredibly rude to Won-jun at the start of the show.
The actress had no qualms switching up her image, saying: “It was exhilarating for me. Director Lee was concerned because I had a lot of smoking scenes, but when I’m choosing a project, I think about showing a new side of me, so I was actually quite excited. Cigarettes are one of the key things that define Doona.”
Despite the character’s less than favourable first impression, she hides a broken soul.
Suzy says: “She has her guard up because she’s been abandoned so many times, like a stray cat. To this day, I am reminded of Doona when I see stray cats on the street.”
4) It’s complicated
While the central couple both consider Doona! a romance with plenty of moments between Doona and Won-jun that would make viewers’ hearts flutter, do not expect a fluffy and smooth-sailing love story. Instead, it will be complicated.
Suzy says: “Their relationship is a little bit unstable – it feels risky and fragile. The overall mood will be one of uncertainty.”
Yang recalls: “There were moments between them that made me choke up, even moments that were not meant to do that, because of the layers of complex emotions that were really hard to put into words.”
5) Love thy neighbour?
While they share a passionate connection on-screen, Suzy and Yang are much more playful when the cameras stop rolling.
When asked if they would make good neighbours if they stayed in the same sharehouse like their characters do, Yang makes a big cross over his chest to say no.
“She’s always messing with me,” he laments.
Suzy explains: “Because of the way our characters are set up, I try to act as if I’m older than him, so I’ll mess with him and make fun of him to maintain the tension needed on-screen in real life as well. Even though I call him Se-jong oppa (Korean for big brother), he still feels younger than me.”
Doona! premieres on Netflix on Friday.