There are people who make you feel happy just by being with them. Actor Ji Chang Wook is a cheerful man who provides good energy to the people around him. Even when meeting him for the first time, he is a “multi-talented man” who makes you feel comfortable like you’ve been friends for 10 years. As he has been travelling around the provinces to film the movie “Fabricated City”, Ji Chang Wook laughs heartily, saying it has been a long time since he “came up to Seoul”. We present you an interesting interview that dramatically unravels the eight years of his acting career.
Q: How was the photo shoot today?
Firstly, it was very hot. The weather is good but the venue was (so hot it felt) like as if I had gone to Bali in Indonesia (laughs). Haha.
Q: Do you usually have a lot of interest in accessories?
I often wear bracelets. Just like wearing socks and clothes, I will naturally wear (bracelets) when I go out.
Q: Your popularity overseas is huge. Seeing pictures of you at the airport or fan meetings, you are surrounded by fans and Ji Chang Wook cannot be seen.
MBC’s “Empress Ki” and KBS’ “Healer” were well-received overseas so many fans will show up when I go to airports overseas. I’m really thankful when I see that. I’m also amazed about how they knew (my flight schedule) and came. So if possible, I wish to look at every fan in the eye and greet them one by one and sign autographs for them, but it gets very chaotic once I appear so that isn’t possible. I’m always sorry about that.
Q: Is there a fan who is the most memorable?
Rather than fans who are memorable, there are fans who make me worried. There are some fans who will follow me from the airport and I’m very worried about them. Because it’s very dangerous.
Q: I heard the ticketing for your July birthday fan meeting was like a war. All the seats were sold out within one minute.
I held the fan meeting for 1,200 people, but the tickets sold out faster than expected and even I was surprised. Usually there will be many things to prepare when I hold a fan meeting, but this time I just invited my close friends as guests and we sang and played together. Just like a birthday party with friends (laughs).
Q: Close friend? Who did you call?
2Bic’s Jun Hyung.
Q: How did you get close to Jun Hyung?
We met for the first time when we went to the same hair salon. I listen to 2Bic’s songs and I became a big fan of them so I suggested that we have a meal together. We immediately became closer after the meal. I found out that we are both of the same age. Jun Hyung, (Seo) In Guk, and a neighbourhood brother we know…the four of us get along very well.
Q: Oh~ that’s a rather unexpected combination.
I got to know Seo In Guk thanks to Jun Hyung. Our neighbourhood brother is really a hyung we know in the neighbourhood (laughs). Even I think this is an amazing combination. Our assembly place is always the noraebang (*a place where you sing karaoke). Because everyone can sing very well, so it is really fun when we go to the noraebang. It always feels like we are holding a concert.
Q: Do you all also snatch songs in between?
Of course. In between, we will interrupt or request for the second verse. Since I’m not a singer, I will pass the high pitch sections to Jun Hyung or In Guk. Advanced techniques should be handled by the singers. Yesterday, In Guk said he finally got to rest after a long time and suggested going to the noraebang together so we went.
Q: Not too long ago, you also appeared on the Chinese variety show “Happy Camp” that only top Hallyu stars appear in. How was it?
That variety programme is extremely popular in China. So when I heard the news about my casting, I felt a bit pressured. I’m not the kind who is suitable for variety, neither am I interesting. But fortunately, the emcees treated me kindly so I think I overcame it naturally.
Q: You should also appear frequently on Korean variety shows. There are many things about Ji Chang Wook that we are curious about.
I’m still a bit scared of variety shows. Actually even for my previous appreance on MBC’s “Radio Star”, I was forced by (Yoo) Jun Sang hyung to appear on the show. I’m very afraid of talk shows. I can’t talk well and I’m not funny either. Variety shows that use the body are better instead. I just have to go there and work hard no matter what. Ah, but thinking about it, I don’t think it’s good either. I once appeared on SBS’ “Running Man” and I almost died then. Because it was really tiring. Well, there’s nothing that is easy. Haha.
Q: I hear that you are busy filming the movie “Fabricated City” these days. What kind of movie is it?
It is a story about getting framed and getting sent to prison, then escaping from prison to search for the mastermind. The genre is crime action, but it isn’t as dark as it sounds; it’s a movie that’s both light and cheerful.
Q: You are working with capable actors like Shim Eun Kyung, Oh Jung Se and Ahn Jae Hong and there is already big anticipation for it. How is it like at the film set in reality?
Compared to dramas, movies are produced slower and every scene takes a long time, so there is slightly more time for me to think and that’s good. The atmosphere at the set is always harmonious as the director and other actors have amiable personalities.
Q: This seems to the be first time you are the lead in a movie. You must have received many offers all this while.
I tend to be rather careful when choosing movies. In between there were also a few times that the production was called off so I made my choice after thinking for a long time.
Q: We can’t avoid musicals when we talk about Ji Chang Wook. You were even doing the musical “The Days” and your drama “Healer” at the same time, so you seem to have a strong attachment to it.
I really enjoy doing performances. I think the stage is where the actor gets the most respect. Because no one can stop or bother you. I can also feel the response of the audience up close.
Q: The acting technique and tone are different for dramas and musicals. Isn’t that tough?
The fundamentals of acting are the same but the personality is slightly different. On stage, your actions must be bigger and more distinct because the audience is far away. Also your manner of speech, intonation or body tempo must be expressed well such that the audience will be able to feel them. But there’s no real need for over-action in dramas or movies. Each of them seem to have pros and cons.
Q: You ought to continue doing musicals.
Yes I will continue to do so.
Q: Looking at your works so far, from Song Eun Chae in KBS2 “Sons of Sol Pharmacy”, Oh Ji Eun in KBS1 “Smile Donghae”, Ha Ji Won in MBC “Empress Ki”, to Park Min Young in KBS2 “Healer”, most of the actresses you’ve worked with are older than you.
I didn’t insist on working only with older actresses, but it turned out this way somehow. Really, except for (Jin) Se Yeon-ie in SBS “Five Fingers” and Eun Kyung-sshi in “Fabricated City”, all of them were older than me.
Q: Why do you call Shim Eun Kyung “Eun Kyung-sshi”?
We still haven’t gotten close to each other….I’ve always been acting with seniors who are older than me, so I don’t know what to do once I meet a younger co-star. It’s too awkward. So now I’m at a stage where I’m extremely awkward with Eun Kyung-sshi. Everyone is annoyingly asking when are we going to get closer to each other, and I’m also on the lookout for a chance to get closer to her.
Q: Which older actor/actress is the most memorable to you?
Ha Ji Won noona! As Ji Won noona is my school senior and much more senior than me, it was difficult to approach her initially. At first, I thought a lot about what I should say to her. I ended up saying, “Senior, you are my school senior.” But noona only said “yes” which surprised me. Because her reply was very different from what I was expecting. Hahaha. Actually, I was expecting a reply like “Oh~ really? Who’s your professor? So you are my junior”, so I was very flustered when she only said “yes”. From that moment, I had a mental breakdown. I even thought “We are doing a 50-episode production, this is a big problem” and “She doesn’t really like school?” (laugh). Fortunately, there were many scenes where we had to appear together, so we got close very quickly. I get dizzy thinking about that time.
Q: In actual fact, what is Ji Chang Wook’s style among those who are younger, same age, or older?
I’m not particular about age. I don’t have a specific ideal type either.
Q: What kind of woman do you usually prefer?
It’s good if our conversations and laughing code match well. This is rather ambiguous, but I will firstly have a good feeling for her if we laugh and match in a certain way when talking. If we can’t have a proper conversation or if the situation becomes awkward, then I will feel uncomfortable no matter how pretty she is.
Q: Then the saying “love at first sight” probably doesn’t apply to Ji Chang Wook.
Thinking about this, it seems like I’ve never fallen in love at first sight before. Of course, my eyes will be attracted if there is a really pretty person next to me. I’m also human. But after talking to that person, I will think she’s not the one, definitely not the one.
Q: Looking at your filmography, you’ve been continuously acting without rest. Were there any slumps in between?
While doing “Smile Donghae”, it was a bit difficult emotionally. As I was acting everyday, I felt that I didn’t seem to have talent, and nothing seemed to work out. I would do well when practising, but I was terrible when in front of the camera. So I seriously thought of finding other work to do. I couldn’t bring out the feelings that I had in mind.
Q: But eventually, “Smile Donghae” was a successful piece of work right? The viewership ratings were also high.
The drama did well. The viewership ratings were also good. But regardless of the ratings, my image in it was shabby and it was difficult to overcome that. I had lots of ambition, but I couldn’t express what I wanted to.
Q: How did you overcome your slump?
I made effort to observe my seniors’ acting. A senior comforted me and said, “There are no actors with talent. Everything is possible with hard work.” Listening to that, I gained courage and straightened out my mind. Actually if I weren’t an actor, there was nothing else to do (laughs).
Q: Do you have a criteria for choosing your projects?
I look at exactly three things. Though all of them are subjective reasons. Firstly, the script must be interesting, my role must be appealing, and I must have the confidence to take on that role. Sometimes after reading about the show, there are roles that I’m not confident of playing no matter how interesting it is. Then it really won’t work out. But there are times when I can imagine myself acting in the show just by looking at the script. I will then gain confidence and I can also perform more easily during filming.
Q: Among your current works, which three are you most satisfied with?
“Five Fingers”, “Empress Ki” and “Healer”. Firstly I took the role of a villain in “Five Fingers” where I had to smash things and shout, which helped relieve a lot of stress. So it was memorable. In “Empress Ki”, I was able to portray what I had in mind, and I was able to act out whatever I wanted to express. In particular, I received a lot of praise from viewers which gave me a great sense of satisfaction. Finally in “Healer”, the scriptwriter had complete trust in me so I felt great right from the beginning. The result was also good.
Q: After “Smile Donghae”, people called you “Donghae” for quite some time. At some point in time, the name Ji Chang Wook started to get overpowered by your characters’ names in dramas. In which drama did this start to happen?
After “Smile Donghae”, people kept calling me “Donghae”, but this proportion reduced a lot while I was acting SBS “Warrior Baek Dong Soo”. Around 70% was Donghae and 30% was Baek Dong Soo? But after “Empress Ki”, Donghae was completely gone. But there are still some people who call me Donghae some times.
Q: When you were being called “Donghae”, I heard that you even seriously considered changing your name.
Really. Because people kept calling me Donghae. I’m no longer Donghae but people kept calling me Donghae, so I thought it would be to my benefit if I just changed my name to “Ji Donghae”. But Donghae got forgotten as time passed because of other shows.
Q: I heard that you’ve been working with your current staff members for a long time. Your manager is also your classmate.
When I was filming SBS “Warrior Baek Dong Soo”, the management agency only comprised of me and the president; just two of us. I didn’t have a manager so it was very tiring, so I roped in my friend who is now my manager. I asked him “Do you have a driving license?”, he said “I don’t”, so I told him “Then go get one” and he immediately went to get a license. Soon, I was taking him along to the film set. So he ended up working as my manager. Initially, this friend suffered a lot. Because he had to drive a large van, and he had to learn the job too. “Changwook-ah, what’s D?”, “DAY – day scene”, “Then what’s N?”, “NIGHT – night scene”… I had to explain to him one by one like that and teach him.
Q: Looking now, both of you seem to have a special relationship. Surely you all don’t fight over anything.
We fought a lot initially. But we don’t fight now. Because we are best friends so we know each other very well. But there’s one thing that I’m unhappy about recently. That friend says he’s rather big and doesn’t appear at the film set frequently. While I’m sweating as I work, he’s drinking coffee at Gangnam and having a meeting (laughs).
Q: In a certain interview, you said that your goal when working on a show is to get along closely with staff rather than (focusing on) viewership ratings. Those words made a deep impression.
Actually, whether a show does well or not is not something that can be done by me alone. Isn’t it better to have fun with the people I’m working with and make good memories?
Q: Talking to you so far, on a whole, it seems like you strive to be relaxed.
That’s right. Haha. Being relaxed is the best.
Q: You say that being relaxed is good, somehow that seems like a homebody.
It’s not that either. On rest days, I will definitely go out. But recently I’ve been raising a puppy so I spend more time at home. If it’s like last time, I would have gone out to meet friends on my rest day, but I’ve been busy cleaning dog poo and washing up, so I can’t go out often.
Q: What are you most concerned with these days?
My puppy. Because this is the period where I have to stay close and take good care of it.
Q: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing now?
An office worker? I’ll probably just ordinarily go to university and graduate, barely get myself a job and then start working at a company.
Q: I heard you studied a bit when you were in school.
When I was in school, I would get scolded if I didn’t do well or the people around me will call me a good student if I did well, so I only studied to manage that. I thought university was all that mattered to life. I thought that was success. But as I grew older and came to an age where I could think on my own, I realised that studying wasn’t everything. I didn’t rank first or second in the entire school, and it’s not like I’ll get to go to Seoul University just by doing a bit of that, so I totally lost interest. So while searching for something interesting, I ended up as an actor.
Q: Hearing the news today about Hallyu star Song Seung Heon dating Chinese actress Liu Yi Fei was shocking. Is cross-border romance also possible for Hallyu star Ji Chang Wook?
If I match well with that person and we can communicate, I think it’s sufficiently possible.
Q: You have a very good physique till that point that you are often called “gangster shoulders” or “Pacific Ocean shoulders”. Is there any exercise that you enjoy?
People think that I do weight lifting, but I hardly use weights. Instead, I like soccer so I often play that.
Q: I heard that you are the only son. What kind of son are you to your parents?
Honestly speaking, I’m not a good son. I wish to be a good son, but it doesn’t turn out the way I want it. Firstly, I can’t see them often because I have no time. So they feel sad some times. (*Note: He didn’t use the word “them” or “they” in his reply, neither did he specify if he’s referring to one parent or both parents, though we know that he only lives with his mother. While the Korean language allows for pronouns to be omitted in sentences, it is hard to do so for English, so I just used “them” and “they” in my translation since the reporter asked about his “parents” and not just his mother)
Q: You are 29 this year (*Note: Korean age). After a few more months and you will be 30. How do you feel now that the first figure (of your age) will be changed?
I don’t really have any thoughts. Because I’m not the kind who is very concerned about getting older. I only think that yet another year has gone by. Like I’ve always been so (laughs).
Q: 10 years later, how will Ji Chang Wook look like?
I will probably still be acting and meeting friends occasionally like now? Actually, living like that is my wish (laughs).
Translated from Korean to English by Gabby. PLEASE DO NOT REPRINT, REPURPOSE, SCREENCAP OR OTHERWISE COPY OUR CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION.
Source: @ Star 1