Opened with cameo by Ryu Seung-ryong as leads Gianna Jun and Ju Ji-hoon risked their lives in search and rescue
Revealed: Jun ends up in a wheelchair, Ju hospitalized and in a coma
Jirisan, iQiyi’s Original Korean drama series starring Gianna Jun and Ju Ji-hoon, and created by director Lee Eung-bok (Descendants of The Sun, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) and writer Kim Eun-hee (Signal, Kingdom), premiered globally last weekend on iQiyi. In Korea, the series opened on Saturday (Oct 23) to an average nationwide rating of 9.1 percent, peaking 10.7 percent to become tvN’s top-rated weekend drama premiere in history. Meanwhile on Sunday (Oct 24), the second episode saw its average nationwide rating rise into double-digit figures, and peaked at 12.5 percent.
Playing as star park ranger Seo Yi-gang, Gianna Jun made a stunning debut with a nerve-wracking scene; swinging off a cliff to save a teammate from falling amongst the rocks, and leaving rookie ranger Kang Hyun-joo (played by Ju Ji-hoon) captivated. The first episode also opened with a cameo performance by Blue Dragon Film Awards winner Ryu Seung-ryong, who introduced the Jirisan National Park to viewers. New episodes of Jirisan air on Saturdays and Sundays, 8,00pm (SGT), in a simulcast with Korea.
Among the unfolding mysteries, Ju Ji-hoon was revealed to possess the amazing ability to see people in need at precise locations within Jirisan. Just as viewers were getting into Jun and Ju’s budding romance on their first mission together, the first episode jumps abruptly forward in time by two years. Jun, now wheelchair-bound, is seen returning to the Jirisan Haedong ranger station after having left her duties for some time. Meanwhile, Ju is seen hospitalized and in a coma. Through flashback memories, Ju is shown being hit heavily on his head; implying that both have suffered injuries with lasting and severe consequences.
As Ju Ji-hoon lies in hospital, Gianna Jun discovers recent photos of Jirisan search and rescue operations which show signs – signs that only she and Ju knew about – pointing to the precise locations of people in need of search and rescue. Wanting to know who or what is sending her these signals, Jun asks to be reinstated as a park ranger. Additionally, a mysterious figure seen in a blood-stained cloak is revealed to be Ju Ji-hoon – leaving viewers in suspense of what is to come in future episodes.
The premiere also showcases the various relationships among characters, set to be developed as the series unfolds. At the Haedong branch station, Gianna Jun and Ju Ji-hoon are not the only pair as Oh Jung-se and Ju Min-gyung are also developing a romance that brings a smile to viewers. Ju Min-gyung may not be as physically strong as to join the rangers at the frontline of search and rescue, but she is the administrative backbone of the team. It remains to be seen if and how the feelings between Ju Min-gyung and Oh Jung-se could progress. Having joined at around the same time as park rangers, Jun, Oh Jung-se and Cho Han-cheul’s friendly bickering with each other brings a lively and jovial spirit to the team.
The highlight however, is Korea’s ‘National Grandma’ Kim Young-ok in her role as Gianna Jun’s grandmother Lee Moon-ok, who runs a restaurant in the Haedong village near Jirisan. About 20 years ago, Lee lost her son and daughter-in-law, and raised Jun single handedly. The loving grandmother-grandchild bond between Lee and Jun is not to be missed.
The production of Jirisan took approximately 1 year and 7 months to complete, and involved more than 250 cast and crew members. In the behind-the-scenes special released today, viewers can see spectacular production sets designed for the series, as well as footage of action scenes, including storms and floods, being shot.
In a crossover of timelines of 2018 and 2020, the mysteries of Jirisan and what happened to Jun and Ju are set to unravel. Jirisan follows a team of national park rangers who are responsible for search and rescue on Jirisan. Experienced ranger (played by Gianna Jun) and rookie ranger (played by Ju Ji-hoon) are set to uncover the secrets of the peak. The iQiyi Original K-series exclusively airs on Saturdays and Sundays at 8.00pm (SGT) on iQiyi International app and iQ.com worldwide, in a simulcast with Korea.