Before he read the script for Moving, actor Ryu Seung-ryong was a fan of the popular Kang Full webtoon that the series is based on. Ryu knew all about the tortured life of his character, the indestructible and yet vulnerable Jang Ju-won. He was eager to play the role.
“When I was offered the role, I was very grateful and I thought it was a nice challenge that I can take up,” said Ryu. “And I was just very excited and exhilarated that this webtoon is being translated into a drama series and onto the small screen.”
His character Jang Ju-won is very strong and survives endless assaults. He’s stabbed, he’s crushed, he’s pummeled, he suffers multiple broken bones, but his injuries heal in record time, which makes him a fighting force to be reckoned with. Altogether the actor has at least three episodes’ worth of non-stop action scenes in which he survives multiple assaults and takes down hordes of assailants. Ryu doesn’t like to think too much about his action scenes before he jumps in.
‘If I think too deeply about the action scenes, it becomes more difficult and perplexing,” said Ryu. “So what I try to do is just put my all into the work every single day. I think what’s really important about preparing for those action scenes was a lot of stretching and warming up and getting my stamina up so I can pull off those scenes. The stunt team and the VFX team really helped me out a lot so that I could safely take on these scenes. So, while it was quite difficult, I feel very proud that I pulled them off. In episode 11, I was washed in blood and in episode 12 it was a lot of soil and mud. In episode 14, I’m going to be in the water. So I’ve done everything from in the air to on the ground and inside the water. I think I’ve done everything I could do as an actor in terms of action scenes.”
As satisfying as the over-the-top action scenes were to film, his favorite scenes in the drama were the tender emotional ones. When Ju-won is still using his superpowers to aid criminals he meets Hwang Ji-hee, played by actress Kwak Sun-young. It changes his life forever. The character works hard to course correct, becoming a devoted husband and father.
“My favorite scene is when I met the love of my life for the first time,” he said. “It was when I was lost and then she kind of appears like a ray of light on a scooter. That was one of my favorite scenes. And she really has become that ray of light in my life and she became a milestone for me. So I enjoyed all the happy scenes I filmed together with her. And also, I would definitely have to say the times with my beloved daughter, Hui-soo, in which she becomes my heart and has my heart. I love the scenes that showed off the chemistry between us as a father and a loving daughter.”
One of the most memorable scenes in the drama happens when Ju-won is rushing to a funeral hall and breaks down in the middle of changing his clothes. It captures the reality of grief so beautifully and demonstrates Ryu’s gifts as an actor.
“I was just watching that last week,” said Ryu. ‘And my heart ached because I could refresh my memories at that time.”
He’s done a few crying scenes in his career and the one in Moving has an interesting back story.
“I actually have a lot of crying scenes in my past work, such as the films Miracle in Cell Number Seven and Seven Years of Night. These are some of the films where I really cried my eyes out. So, I thought that maybe I should stop filming the kind of content that has so many crying scenes. But then I read the script for Moving and there was this one whole page of description about this crying scene. Ironically, I chose to take part in Moving because of this very scene. I really loved this scene, and as an actor, I think it was a scene that I wanted to pull off. It was a good healthy challenge for me to take on. So I couldn’t wait to film this, but it was really difficult when I was filming it. It was emotionally very exhausting. So I actually threw up twice while filming the scene. I was getting headaches, I was dizzy, but I heard that a lot of people were moved by the scene. So I’m very happy.”
Ju-won can survive any physical injury but he’s almost broken by his emotional pain and it takes him a long time to heal. While Ryu thinks a superpower like Ju-won’s could be a blessing if it’s put to good use, it should not be used selfishly. For example, his character could be a firefighter, since he can regenerate and that way he could help people. Put to good use it could be a blessing, but it’s not the superpower that he would choose for himself.
“If I could have a superpower, I would want to make people open up to me and heal their inner wounds,” said Ryu. “Because I’m not talking about wounds that we see outside. But even for my character, he can regenerate and heal from wounds, but his emotional wounds are something different that he can’t heal instantly from. So if I could help people heal from their emotional scars, that would be great.”
Moving quickly became the most watched Korean original project on Disney+ and Hulu, topping Disney’s charts in several countries, including Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. Ryu thinks the series’ success has to do with its thoughtful storyline.
“Everything nowadays is very fast paced and we’re used to that,” he said. “But this series is different in that it provides a lot of food for thought and the time to think about things and to relate to the characters and the narrative. At the core of it lies family, which we all can relate to. They are just ordinary people like us and on top of that we have fantastical aspects like superpowers and sci-fi action. So I think it’s a very well-crafted concoction of all those different genres together. So, people are amazed and also they find it very grounded at the same time.”
Ryu’s two-decade long acting career includes film and drama roles in a variety of genres. He played a police squad chief in the hit comedy film Extreme Job, a confused writer in Perhaps Love and an admiral in Roaring Currents. He’s had roles in dramas as different as Personal Taste, Kingdom and Iris. In 2023 he can be seen in the TV drama Sweet and Spicy Chicken. Despite his multiple successful roles and awards, he’s not entirely sure why he became an actor.
“At first I just wanted to be in other people’s shoes and try living their lives as an actor,” said Ryu. “I just liked acting. I don’t know why. I didn’t even aim to become an actor. I just loved acting. So, I just acted and acted. Now that I’ve been working in this field for quite some years, I feel a sense of responsibility to bridge the gap between the generations. So I am very much attracted to stories that help to bridge the gap between my generation and the younger generation.”
Moving does just that with its younger cast of superheroes and the actors, such as Ryu, who play their superhero parents.
“Moving is 20 episodes long,” he said. “I think a lot of people are loving it right now. I hope people stay tuned and keep loving it.”
The series, which also stars Zo In-sung, Han Hyo-joo, Lee Jong-ha, Go Youn-jung, and Kim Do-hoon, airs on Hulu in the US.