Kim Hee-ae says Netflix’s ‘The Whirlwind’ explores human flaws, not just politics

July 5, 2024

Actress Kim Hee-ae sees “The Whirlwind,” a Netflix political thriller, as more than a political drama.

In her view, the series explores timeless themes of moral decay and unchecked ambition that ultimately lead to self-destruction.

“It is not about politics, but about corrupt beliefs and vain desires that result in human downfall,” she said at an interview with local reporters in Seoul.

Kim Hee-ae from "The Whirlwind" is shown in this photo provided by Netflix on July 3, 2024. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Kim Hee-ae from “The Whirlwind” is shown in this photo provided by Netflix on July 3, 2024. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In the series, Kim portrays Economic Minister Jeong Su-jin, who clashes with Prime Minister Park Dong-ho, played by Sul Kyung-gu, in an intense power struggle following Park’s assassination attempt of the president.

The actress was drawn to her character whom she described as a former idealistic student activist who “inevitably” becomes deeply mired in political corruption due to her husband and increasingly compromised through a series of small decisions.

“She started to tell bigger lies to cover up a small lie and ended up on a path she never wanted,” Kim said, adding “I found myself empathizing more with my character rather than seeing her solely as a villain.”

Her character becomes who she is, “swept away by the whirlwind of fate,” she said.

The series is written by Park Kyung-su, the screenwriter known for political dramas such as “The Chaser” (2012), “Empire of Gold” (2013) and “Punch” (2014).

Impressed by the script’s incisive dialogue, Kim prioritized delivering her lines with precision, aiming to convey their full impact and depth.

“I loved every line and felt compelled to give my all in each delivery,” the 57-year-old actress said.

One of the top actors of her generation, Kim has consistently showcased her versatility since her 1982 debut, building an impressive career through bold transformations across a wide range of roles, including her portrayal of a wife seeking revenge on her adulterous husband in “The World of the Married” (2020).

Now, she embraces a more balanced approach to her career, allowing herself to “play more” and adopt a more relaxed attitude toward work. During the interview, she advised reporters multiple times to relax and enjoy life whenever possible.

“Have fun, you can still do it all,” she encouraged, adding, “You’d better empty a bottle to refill it.”

Simultaneously, she revealed her ongoing struggle to improve as an actor.

“I try not to be complacent and strive to constantly evolve. I believe I grow with each new project, learning from hard work and observing others,” she said. “Improvement doesn’t happen overnight but gradually, step by step.”