Seo Yi-gang (played by Gianna Jun) in Jirisan

A KOREAN thriller on mountain climbing and the lives of rangers premieres tomorrow on iQiyi.

Written by Kim Eun-hee and directed by Lee Eung-bok, the 16-episode series centers around a mystery surrounding the mountain’s many visitors; those who come to kill, and those who come to end their lives.

Seo Yi-gang (played by Gianna Jun) is Jirisan National Park’s top ranger who has vast experience in navigation, a useful skill when tracking down lost individuals. She is partnered with rookie park ranger and military vet Kang Hyun-jo (played by Ju Ji-hoon).

“Before I wrote about Jirisan, I had never set foot on that mountain. So, I had a very abstract idea and admiration for that mountain. But I have read and heard about Jirisan so much in school and from other books,” writer Kim Eun-hee said of the show’s setting, Mount Jiri, the second tallest mountain South Korea.

“It was a mountain where everybody went to pray for their wishes. And for over the years, I felt that those wishes and prayers had accumulated in that mountain. It’s a mysterious mountain with so many secrets buried on it. So that was the feeling that I had when I approached this [project],” she said in Korean (interpreted into English) at a virtual press conference on Oct. 13.

While doing research on the mountain and the local community there, Ms. Kim said she learned that whenever there was an accident on the mountain, it was the mountain rangers who went the rescue.

“In the past, I have written about the cyber police. One common thread of all these genres was that the investigation started after people were dead. But the rangers, their mission is to be there to save people,” Ms. Kim said.

“I loved her script, that’s why I decided to work with her. I did not in any way intend to intentionally depict a strong and independent woman but I think it’s a trend. These days, we have a lot of dynamic women characters on the media,” Gianna Jun said of playing a mountain ranger.

“I never thought that I would play the role of a ranger before, and I don’t know any rangers myself… You will be taking a sneak peek at the lives of the rangers through this drama.”

Meanwhile, Ju Ji-hoon revealed that he enjoyed climbing from a young age and expressed enthusiasm to climb Jirisan in the future. Mr. Ju added that it was tough shooting the scenes when ascending the peak.

“[Ms. Kim’s] script is very detailed,” Mr. Ju said. “And also, there are a lot of challenging scenes, but she makes it somehow entertaining for the viewers.”

Joining the cast are Oh Jung-se and Cho Han-Cheul.

“[Jirisan] shows you a lot of the beautiful landscape of the mountain itself. But there is also fear elements that come from Mother Nature. I wanted to portray both the beauty and the fear. And I wanted to show how the characters were interacting with the mountain especially during rescue missions,” director of photography Choi Sang-mook said.

The iQiyi Original K-series will be simulcast on Oct. 23 on iQiyi International app and worldwide. New episodes will premiere on Saturdays and Sundays. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman