[Magazine] Ming Weekly Issue 202 Interview

Battle of Popularity: Sexy Ahjusshi Cha Seung Won VS Yuan Emperor Ji Chang Wook

44-year-old sexy ahjusshi Cha Seung Won and 27-year-old flower boy Ji Chang Wook came to Taiwan one after another to meet their fans, competing for popularity and affinity (with the people). Ji Chang Wook came in advance to promote ticket sales, drawing more than 1,000 fans to his show and earning NT$7,000,000. With his handsome looks and sincerity, he won the hearts of the media and fans. Cha Seung Won made his 5th visit to Taiwan, and close to a thousand fans came out to support him. He did away with the singing and dancing and only spoke during the show, earning NT$5,000,000 worth of ticket sales. Compared to the situation during his visit 3 years ago, the turnout was smaller by a few thousand, and the venue was a little empty. 

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Ji Chang Wook changes clothes on stage and offers fan service

Although Ji Chang Wook’s acting experience cannot compare to that of Cha Seung Won’s, he does not lose to his senior when it comes to popularity. He rose to fame after acting as the affectionate emperor in Empress Ki, and he brought his mom along when he came to Taiwan, named his fan meeting “I Am”, saying that he hopes this will allow his Taiwanese fans to know him better.

At the fan meeting, Ji Chang Wook played his role as the emperor while fans acted as his empresses,  and they acted out classic scenes from the drama together. He even personally made rice balls for his fans and fed them, opting to be generous by adding lots of his favourite ham, tuna, mayonnaise etc. He even jokingly offered to play the guitar to help fans digest (the rice balls), but he let out a bitter smile after merely strumming a few notes, and admitted, “Actually I don’t really know how to play the guitar.” There was plenty of fan service throughout the show. He did 6 rounds of costume changes and changed on stage, appeared among the audience and gave out sweets, personally made a chinese-style fan complete with his hand print and signature, and even gave everyone a high-five at the exit after the show, showing his approachable style.

It was his first time coming to Taiwan to meet fans, and Ji Chang Wook showed complete sincerity, singing 3 songs including “To The Butterfly”. He who is confident in his vocals, will be starring in the musical The Days which will be staged in Korea in October. During the interview, he revealed that he prefers acting to singing. He said with a laugh, “I like my voice a lot, but I’ve never had any thoughts about releasing an album. But I’ve been having such a desire recently, not because I want to be a singer, but because music is something I like, so I want to give it a try.” He used to go to the KTV often to practise singing, and he also went once recently, but everyone who went with him were singers, “My ears were very happy that day. I’m not the kind who will keep hogging on to the microphone.”

Two years ago, Ji Chang Wook travelled around Taiwan with his friend who was learning snooker in Taiwan.  He was full of praise for Taiwanese food, saying the mango shaved ice and vermicelli with pig intestines were delicious. He claims to have put on 2kg because he ate too much this time, and even made a special trip to the gym to exercise. Besides food, he is especially interested in the temples, saying he previously visited the Koxinga Temple (鄭成功廟), and his mom is a Buddhist, so she made use of the time while he was at work to go praying at temples, “It’s an amazing feeling. Everyone was holding on to a joss stick and praying. It had a really exotic feel.”

Previously, Ji Chang Wook came with Running Man to experience the Flying Condor ride at Leofoo Village Theme Park. He laughed, saying that he usually does not enjoy sitting amusement rides. He felt very scared when he saw it the first time, and he was scared stiff. When the reporter told him that there are even scarier rides in the southern part of Taiwan, he exclaimed nervously, “Never mind, it’s okay even if I do not try it.” Regarding his performance on variety shows, he says his variety sense isn’t good.

Admits he is timid like Ta Hwan

The affectionate Yuan emperor Ta Hwan played by Ji Chang Wook is deeply rooted in peoples’ hearts, and he reveals his greatest similarity to Ta Hwan is that he is reckless sometimes, and soft and indecisive sometimes.  “Another similarity would also be our timidness!” As to which of his former female co-stars are most similar to his ideal type, he immediately picked Ha Ji Won, “In private, she is very cheerful and positive, gives strength to people and is a very hard-working actress. I learnt a lot from her.”

In real life, Ji Chang Wook says that he does not mind being in a relationship with an older woman, and he will also completely listen to his girlfriend’s wishes. If someone he likes already has a boyfriend, he will still bravely confess to her, but also respect her choice and wait for her reply, “After all, love has to be mutual.” His ideal type is not limited to those within the industry, and anyone is fine as long as they can relate to each other. In his past relationships, he was often the pursuer instead of the one being pursued, and says that instead of being loved, he prefers to love someone, “Speaking logically, it is certainly better to find someone who loves you more, but isn’t this kind of love too simplistic? Too relaxed? I want to spend my whole life with the person I love.” In his experience with his previous relationships, he often opts to wait to let the other party fall in love with him, “I think it is more important to listen more to that person speak and interact more with that person.” If he really gets into a relationship, he says he might choose to go public next time, but the time hasn’t come yet.

After Ji Chang Wook shot to fame, he did think about venturing into the Chinese market, but he admits that doing so is difficult, “There are many good actors in the Chinese market, and I wish to work with everyone, but there needs to be communication and mutual understanding of each other’s thoughts when acting. If I can find a way to to communicate with the other person, then I hope we can work together.” Although his results for Chinese language in high school were not too bad, he admits that he has forgotten most of it, “Learning Mandarin is not very easy. Compared to specially going to learn it, I hope that such communication is more intimate and can happen more naturally.”

After going back to Korea, Ji Chang Wook will be acting in a new drama Healer. Because his character in the drama has many action scenes and shirtless scenes, he has been working hard at exercising and has been attending lessons on kendo, sword fighting and Chin Na. He has already built up his muscles, and he says he looks forward to working with Park Min Young and his school senior Yoo Ji Tae.

PLUS: 40 Q&A Speed Quiz with Ji Chang Wook

Ji Chang Wook was very approachable when he visited Taiwan. He didn’t reject anyone who asked him very personal questions, and agreed to take on the challenge of Ming Weekly’s 40-question speed Q&A. He was funny at times, sometimes serious, sometimes worried, and burst into laughter at times, as he shared his little habits and views about life, letting fans get closer to the most humane Yuan Emperor.

1. A mantra that you have recently?
“I’m hungry” and “I want to eat something”….(because he’s dieting now)

2. An unforgettable dish that you’ve eaten recently?
The vermicelli with pig intestines that I got to eat again yesterday.

3. Something that you do not eat?
If you are referring to what food I dislike, then I dislike eating red carrots the most.

4. A dish that you like to cook?
I don’t usually cook actually. At the most, I’ll just cook instant noodles or a simple bowl of fried rice.

5. Besides exercise, how do you use food to control your weight?
I don’t pay much attention to this usually, but I’ll start dieting when I have a show or photo shoot. I will eat brown rice with chicken breast, and the beef has to be grilled till it’s totally dry before I eat.

6. Your most common reaction when you are nervous?
I will sweat, and twist my fingers continuously.

7. Any strange behaviour or habits when sleeping?
I like to wear loose clothing when sleeping. I don’t have many bad sleeping habits. I will snore or grind my teeth occasionally, but not to a very serious extent.

8. The first thing you do when you wake up?
Check my phone (laughs), because I want to turn off the alarm and continue sleeping.

9. The order that you bathe?
I’ll wash my face first followed by my hair, and then my body.

10. Use an animal to describe yourself.
Probably a rabbit! Because my zodiac sign is rabbit. Does Taiwan have this (zodiac sign) too? Is it the same as Korea?

11. A flaw in your personality?
I’m impatient and I belong to the reckless type. For example, when we go out, I will immediately ask, “Hold on, where are we going?”

12. A good thing about your personality?
I have the initiative. Once something has been planned, I will carry it out immediately. I’m someone who gets easily satisfied with the status quo, thinking that everything about me is perfect now.

13. Your most common reaction when you are angry?
My face will turn red.

14. Something that people around you always say to remind you?
“Take things slowly, slow down.” Because my personality is really impatient.

15. Which part of your appearance are you most concerned about?
My hairstyle. Don’t most guys pay a lot of attention to their hairstyle? I have a lot of hair, but I don’t really like looking at myself in the mirror often, I’ll only look when I’m in the toilet or when I’m putting on make-up.  Especially when filming, it doesn’t matter if the role requires me to look a little ugly. I think I will keep getting greedier if I keep looking at myself, so I don’t really watch the shows that I act sometimes.

16. Which part of your appearance are you most satisfied with?
Probably my eyes! But recently, I’ve gotten a stye a few days before coming to Taiwan.

17. Do you like singing or acting?
Acting. But I do like my own voice somewhat, so I love to sing too. I think it’s good to be able to sing a theme song for the character that I’m playing, after all, I know best about my character’s emotions.

18. From which angle do you like pictures of yourself to be taken?
I really like to take pictures, but the left and right sides of my face seem different. I prefer my left side.

19. Your favourite kind of dressing usually?
My frame isn’t small. Although I look rather suave when I wear a suit, I usually prefer to wear a complete sports attire. I’m more particular about the comfort of my attire.

20. A must-have fashion accessory?
Hats. My hair is rather hard to keep tidy, and my personality is one that dislikes inconveniences, so I usually like to wear a hat when I go out.

21. When you look at female appearances, which part do you look at first?
Rather than appearance, I’m more concerned about the girl’s personality and the overall impression she gives.

22. What kind of woman is more attractive to you?
A woman whose heart can connect with me is the most attractive.

23. A word of encouragement that you often say to yourself?
You can do it, you will be able to do it very well.

24. Your favourite sport?
Basketball. I can play basketball quite well.

25. What do you do to kill time?
Playing soccer, drinking coffee and chatting with friends.

26.  If tomorrow is doomsday, what will you do?
I’ll go and eat delicious food with the people I love and care! Haha, I really love eating delicious food.

27. When you were young, what did you think you would be doing when you grow up?
Going to work in an ordinary company after graduating from university, and live my whole life ordinarily.

28. What do you really want to be if you weren’t an actor?
I’ve never thought of it, because there isn’t really anything else that I want to do besides acting.

29. If you have a chance to talk to your idol, what questions will you ask him?
Seniors whom I’ve worked with previously and actors whom I’ve acted with are all my idols. There are many things that I can learn from them. I wish to listen to them talk about their life stories and share their life experiences.

30. Which show was the most tiring to act in?
Probably Warrior Baek Dong Soo! Because there were many action scenes, so we were often filming in the wilderness.

31. A character that you really wish to play?
I want to show a variety of characters. I want to try out all the characters that I’ve yet to play.

32. Which movie have you seen the most number of times?
I’m not the kind of person who will watch the same movie many times. Till now, I’ve only seen all those movies once.

33. Do you have a talent that most people do not know of?
I’m very good at running. Because I’ve been exercising regularly, so my fitness is good.

34. If you are about to be stranded on a deserted island, what are the 3 things you will bring along with you?
My closest friends, alcohol, and a game console.

35. Where will you go after drinking with your friends?
Eat rice balls. I love to eat Korean rice balls that we can grab and eat using our hands. They are really delicious.

36. If you don’t need to work tomorrow, what do you want to do most?
I want to go sightseeing, and go around exploring Taiwan.

37. What is happiness to you?
Although it’s a simple two words (*”Happy” is 2 words in Korean/Chinese: “幸福/행복”), everyone have a different definition of it. Compared to having lots of money, I think feeling contented is more important. We ought to have the mindset of feeling satisfied with what you have in front of you.

38. Which aspect of romance do you relish the most?
When we communicate, and when there is a lot to talk about with the other person.

39. Which aspect of romance are you most unable to tolerate?
When we cannot communicate well.

40. A word to yourself 10 years later?
Are you doing fine now? Are you happy? If you are living your life happily, then that’s good.

Magazine scans and Chinese-English translation by Gabby.
(I’ve merely translated what was written by the reporter. No offence intended to other actors mentioned!)

Article first published in September 2014. 

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