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INTERVIEW: ‘Time to Hunt’ is custom-fit for Lee Je-hoon

By: Ruth L. Navarra

There was no way Lee Je-hoon was going to turn down working in the film “Time to Hunt.” How could he when the lead character in the film was written for him? Director Yoon Sung-hyun told him from the start that Jun-seok was his.  

Lee made a name for himself after starring in dramas such as “Signal,” “Tomorrow With You” and “Where Stars Land”

“Before I read the script, director Yoon told me, “I wrote the character ‘Jun-seok’ for you.” (That’s why) I could slip into the character as if he was me,” Lee said. “Being a leader among a group of friends and taking the lead is something I grew out of over the years—but I think I was more like that in elementary and middle school.” 

Jun-seok is the leader of aimless bandits.  He filled their heads with his dreams.  One last heist before they leave the dystopian Seoul and  go to Paradise.  That paradise is a house by the sea, fishing for their meals and running a shop to earn a living.  

Mastermind

Lee said that working as Jun-seok meant that he focused more on the interaction with the actors.  His character is the reason why Jang-ho (Ahn Jae-hong), Ki-hoon (Choi Woo-shik) and Sang-soo (Park Jeong-min) even did the heist.  On their own, the three would continue living their unremarkable lives. He also worked on the emotions of a person hunted down by an unknown nemesis.  

“‘How much I can push myself’ to express the fear of someone being completely cornered? That’s why I pushed myself to the extreme at every take.  I fine-tuned and shaped (the character) in a lot of ways according to director Yoon’s direction notes,” he said. 

Lee Je-hoon is Ki-hoon in “Time to Hunt” Photos from Netflix

The actor previously worked with director Yoon and Park in “Bleak Night.”  He describes the film as the cornerstone of his career which made him excited to work with the two again.  However, he said that there was a difference in the acting of Park.  He praised the young actor for his growth. 

“Jeong-min has grown so much as an actor over the years. He’s not the same guy I used to know. He’s become so much cooler and I relied on him a lot throughout the filming process. I was always happy to see him on the set,” he said.  

Lee said that the director Yoon has become more meticulous.  It made him want to work harder to bring his vision to life as an actor.  He said that the film was challenging and difficult but working with two people whom he previously worked with made it easier. 


“Time to Hunt” premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on Feb. 22. The actor describes the experience as surreal.  

“I will never forget the moment when I stepped onto the red carpet with director Yoon and the cast members. And I will continue to dream of going to these amazing film festivals through great projects. I thought to myself that I really, really want to attend these festivals again.  I’ll need to keep working hard,” he said.   

Face-to-face

On his favorite action scenes to shoot, Lee said that he has so many.  But he especially remembers how much he enjoyed shooting the scene when the group became aware of being chased by Han (Park Hae-soo) while they were in the parking lot.

 Lee remembers that he was freezing that day, but the moment they started shooting his body temperature went up.   We understand.  Han is a relentless hunter who kills for fun. 

“When you’re face to face with Han whose holding the cold, heavy, and dark gun, the only thing that comes to mind is, ‘“Oh, I’m about to die,’” Lee said. “So this sequence and this scene is the most memorable one for me. I think there were only about two shots fired, but the tension was definitely extreme.” 

Catch Lee Je-hoon in “Time to Hunt” on Netflix.

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