KBS drama “Healer” held its press conference at the Raum Centre yesterday afternoon. The event was attended by director Lee Jung Seob and main cast members Ji Chang Wook, Park Min Young, Yoo Ji Tae, Park Sang Won, Do Ji Won and Woo Hee Jin.
With “Healer” being promoted as an action-packed drama, the action stunts in the show were the subject of much attention at the press conference. PD Lee said, “This drama contains many action scenes, and there were days where Ji Chang Wook filmed scenes of him running and rolling the whole day without any lines to say from the script. There are also times where the camera will be filming Park Min Young with Ji Chang Wook flying around at the back. This is physically very tiring, so I am thankful that he gave his all and persevered to film.” To this, Ji Chang Wook said, “I feel honoured to be able to work on this project. I will work hard to learn under such a good scriptwriter and seniors.”
With the show having such demanding action scenes, the reporters asked if he uses stuntmen, to which Ji Chang Wook said, “Actually, there are stuntmen for the action scenes. There are some aspects that are too much for me to do by myself. I will probably be able to show more different sides of myself if I do the stunts personally, so I usually make the effort to try my best to do what I can. But because the stunts are of a very high difficulty, it is actually dangerous and difficult for me to do the stunts from start till finish, so I receive a lot of help from the stuntmen. He also revealed his behind-the-scenes story for the action scenes, “For the sake of this project, I’ve been doing basic fitness training and attending action school at the same time to learn martial arts required for the role.”
“Healer” will also feature parkour in its action scenes. Although parkour action was made famous through the French movie “District 13”, it has not been properly featured in any Korean drama or movie as of yet. In order to portray the character Seo Jung Hu who possesses beast-like instincts and fighting skills, Ji Chang Wook will be taking on this new challenge to perform parkour action in the drama.
Ji Chang Wook said, “Parkour action itself is not very common and it’s difficult. I’m not sure how it will appear on TV, but I feel ashamed to say that I am performing parkour stunts. I won’t be continuously moving around by running and jumping. There are many scenes of me jumping across rooftops, so there are many scenes where I have to use wires.”
He added, “Although I attended action school because of parkour, there are not many people at the action school who are experts in parkour either. Although it is tiring, the camera director has to put on wires too when I use wires, and he also has to run along when I’m running, so I don’t complain about being tired.”
Besides action, Ji Chang Wook also had major concerns over playing two different characters — the messenger Healer, and Seo Jung Hu in daily life. Ji Chang Wook said, “What worried me the most was how big a gap I should leave between the character Healer and the clumsy character who has a fake job for disguise. The conclusion I got eventually was to make the transformation obvious. I am acting to show the differences in a way such that the two character appear completely different.”
Ji Chang Wook also talked about the pressure he has after receiving so much attention in the MBC drama “Empress Ki”. He said, “Not too long ago, I was in the car when I muttered to my manager ‘This project has to do well this time’, and he told me that I said the same thing one year ago during ‘Empress Ki’. Seems like I feel the pressure in every project I do. I am analysing to be more immersed in my role and to break free from that feeling.”
“I am really working hard to study my character. I’m trying hard not to bother about whether someone receives attention or not.”
He added, “Showing others that actor Ji Chang Wook is really hard working is more of a calling than a goal. I hope that audiences will have great enjoyment when they watch the drama. Just like the title ‘Healer’, the aim of our drama is to give healing.”
Reporters asked Ji Chang Wook about his thoughts of meeting his “Smile Donghae” co-star Do Ji Won again. He said,”meeting senior again after 4 years, she hasn’t changed at all since then. Senior Do Ji Won is still very pretty and I’m happy to see her. I have many good memories of ‘Smile Donghae’ and seeing senior Do Ji Won triggers those memories.”
Do Ji Won said, “Ji Chang Wook-sshi has become an actor who has grown a lot since then, so I feel happy and thankful. ‘Smile Donghae’ is an unforgettable piece of work for both of us.”
Ji Chang Wook also spoke about working with Park Min Young. He said, “Park Min Young noona is really pretty. I think she’s very suitable for the role that she’s playing now. She expresses the lovable and cuteness (of the character) very well. So I feel happy when I’m filming with Park Min Young noona.”
Park Min Young also said, “There are many scenes that cannot be filmed if I’m not close with Ji Chang Wook,” creating expectations about the chemistry between the both of them.
She added, “We are together almost everyday. Intitially, I had a strange misconception that Ji Chang Wook would be rather inflexible because he played the role of an emperor in ‘Empress Ki.’ But on set, he was very fun and treated me well. He was also very considerate. Because there are many seniors on set, there’s no one else I can talk to besides Ji Chang Wook. So we ended up talking a lot to each other while trying to develop our chemistry and there will be many scenes that cannot be filmed if we weren’t close with each other. As the show proceeds to the second half, we need to share a lot of feelings with each other, so we will film and help each other along the way.
Reporters asked Ji Chang Wook about the difference between working with Ha Ji Won and Park Min Young. He said, “Both of them are beautiful and have really good personalities. They give off a bright energy at the set. When I saw Ha Ji Won always smiling even when it was tiring during ‘Empress Ki’, I thought to myself that I ought to learn from that. That kind of appearance gives strength to the people around and makes it enjoyable. Park Min Young is also the same. I am the maknae in this team, so I try to be brighter, playful and act cute.”
Ji Chang Wook also touched on the topic of scandals and dating. He said, “I try my best to be careful about scandals. Living as a human, it is difficult not to fall in love. I’ve definitely fallen in love before and it’s not like I’ve not had girlfriends before. I think meeting up quietly will reduce the inconvenience for both of us.”
“In fact, this is a job that does not allow me to meet anyone comfortably. It is better to meet up carefully and quietly. Although I do not know how my heart will change in the future, for now I think it is good to meet up quietly.”
With regards to his criteria of finding a girlfriend, Ji Chang Wook said, “I don’t really look at external appearances. My ideal woman is someone whom I can talk to and who matches my code.”
Yoo Seung Ho, who worked with Ji Chang Wook in “Warrior Baek Dong Soo”, was also discharged from the army this morning, having completed 21 months of military service.
Ji Chang Wook said, “Before Seung Ho went to the army, he would ask about me occasionally, and I think his experience in the army will be a precious one to Seung Ho. This friend will probably do very well in the future. Congratulations on successful completion of his military service.”
He added, “I might enlist around next year. I hope to go enjoyably and come back. I like exercising so I will probably be able to exercise well when I go there.”
Ji Chang Wook was also quizzed about his thoughts towards revealing scenes.
“I did some exercise before filming. I exercised for close to two months because of this, but I had to film a revealing scene one month after we began filming, so I think it’s a pity because that wasn’t my best condition,” he said, drawing laughter.
When he was asked if he will be going topless, he said, “I won’t be removing my pants. I will show the front and back of my body. That will probably appear at the early stage of the show.”
Regarding the show, PD Lee said “Sandglass” was a show that he longed to work on, and receiving the script from Writer Song Ji Na was “like having a dream.”
He said, “I met Writer Song for the first time early last year. Writer Song said she wished to turn the story about the children of the Sandglass generation into a drama, so we ended up working together.
The production team classifies the drama’s genre as a “Korean-style emotional blockbuster”. The show is considered a blockbuster as it will show parkour action such as scaling buildings and jumping across buildings using the bare body.
PD Lee said, “There will be melo amidst the action, and this melo is not one that is rooted to the ground, but one that will develop across the three dimensional space.”
With 9 episodes already written, the excitement of the show rises to another level. PD Lee said, “Writer Song’s script slightly differs from the scripts of other writers. The inner feelings of the various characters are described in great detail, so the director and the actors have to study the script in greater detail up to 10 times harder.”
Recently, KBS is looking to “Healer” to help boost its viewers ratings. The previous show “Tomorrow Cantibile” earned a bad name for itself as a “failed remake”, having only garnered a viewership rating of 4.9%. The show before that, “Discovery of Love”, was a hit among viewers in their 20s and 30s, but did not fare well in the ratings either. As such, Moon Bo Hyun, the head of KBS’ drama department, proclaims “Healer” as “the most ambitious project of the year”.
To this, Ji Chang Wook said carefully, “I don’t know about the ratings yet, but it is not a problem that can be changed by my actions.”
Ji Chang Wook continued, “The script is interesting. The director is filming passionately and the actors are also having fun and doing their best to act. If we do it this way, viewers will probably enjoy watching the drama. My wish is for this show to be fun and give healing to viewers who watch the drama.
Meanwhile, “Healer” is also drawing attention for being similar in subject to SBS’ Wed-Thurs drama “Pinocchio. To that, Park Min Young said, “I’ve been watching ‘Pinocchio’ too and I think it’s very interesting. But ‘Healer’ is focused on action and romance while ‘Pinocchio’ is more similar to the American drama ‘Newsroom’. ‘Healer’ is centered on a case instead of journalism; the use of reporters merely help to serve the purpose of solving the case.”
Besides, “Healer” will be in direct competition with MBC’s “Pride and Prejudice” for viewership ratings. Ji Chang Wook responded to questions about competing with his former “Empress Ki” co-star Baek Jin Hee, who stars in “Pride and Prejudice”, saying that he feels happy.
Ji Chang Wook said, “Not too long ago, I got a message from Baek Jin Hee asking if ‘Healer’ is interesting. So I replied ‘Will it be as interesting as ‘Pride and Prejudice?'”
“Actually, it is good to compete against a show that is doing well. No matter how you look at it, a competition is a competition. It will be good if everyone does well together. I think ‘Healer’ will do well in the viewership ratings and will not lose out to ‘Pride and Prejudice'”, he said.
“Viewership ratings are given based on the judgement of viewers. I am merely working hard at filming. Before airing, the script for 9 episodes have already been written. That is how much the scriptwriter is passionately writing. So please show interest in our show.”
Ji Chang Wook added, “These days, ratings that exceed 20% are already considered good. Although it is just my wish, I hope the ratings for ‘Healer’ will be 20%.”
This post is a summary of various Korean articles and only includes the parts concerning Ji Chang Wook.
Sports dongah, XSportsnews, JOYNEWS, news1, Osen, Hankuk Gyeongjae TV, The Star, TV Daily, Hankooki, Yonhap News, NEWSWAY, MyDaily, Star News, Choson Ilbo
Photos credit as labelled.