Guess who turns 30 years old today? Our very own Ji Chang Wook celebrates his birthday on 5 July, and Ji Chang Wook’s Kitchen sends along its wishes for a very happy day, with many more to follow! This day also marks our site’s second anniversary! Woo hoo!!
We both were racking our brains trying to figure out something special to commemorate this momentous event. For his drama debut 7th anniversary last year (here and here), we posted each of our personal favorite Ji Chang Wook drama characters, so this year we decided to flip that around and suggest what roles we would see Ji Chang Wook take on for any of his future dramas.
We’ve already watched Wook’s on-screen performances as a schoolboy, chef, warrior swordsman, vegetable seller, pianist, Emperor, and night courier. Hopefully soon we will see him portray an unemployed gamer, day-and-night twins, and a yuan wu dao instructor. You may be thinking, “Wow! So many characters have already been added to his career portfolio. What other roles would there be available for him to take on?” Well, fret no more – The Kitchen came up with four different possibilities for your consideration. Read along and see if any of these could also be your picks as well!
cherkell: If you’re that comfortable with who you are in life, why not transfer that to the small screen? The role Ji Chang Wook was born to play – but has yet to attempt in a drama to date – would be the obvious: Entertainer. Such character would encompass anything related to acting, singing, dancing (hm, maybe not), modelling… anyone playing a part in the entertainment world as we know it today. I can already hear you screaming “typecasting much?” but playing yourself is much harder than it looks.
Gabby: On the contrary, I’m not too keen on him acting as a celebrity, especially if the show is going to be about rookie entertainers achieving their dreams like “Entertainer” or “Dream High”. Somehow, high school and music dramas with pretty young things are just not my cup of tea. Ironically, “You’re Beautiful”, a rom-com involving a cross-dressing girl in a band, was one of the first few Korean dramas I loved, but today, I wouldn’t be as interested to watch such a drama. I guess I’ve out-grown that phase. If he stars as a musician, he will also be scrutinised for his singing. He may be a musical actor with decent singing abilities, but I wouldn’t rate his singing as superb, so having him star as a highly successful vocalist in a music drama would be quite a stretch for me.
cherkell: This drama could fall into any of the standard known genres: rom-com, melo, or makjang. Probably wouldn’t work well with a sageuk (unless there’s gayageum lessons in someone’s future). To make it even more interesting, a “mockumentary” format along the lines of “This Is Spinal Tap” would be awesome! But this is Korea we’re talking about, and most tongue-in-cheek comedy does not play well with the home folks so it would have to stick to the tried and true plotlines. (Breaking that ‘fourth wall’ with the audience didn’t work for “Producers,” so it probably would not work here either.) I think Wook would be able to play such a role only if the role was written where it didn’t mirror his own life too closely and make him uncomfortable. And an Uncomfortable Wook would not be a Fun Wook to watch at all.
Gabby: True, the drama need not be solely be about showbiz. I probably wouldn’t mind if he stars as a celebrity in a show that deals with a heavier topic. Good examples would be Kim Ki Duk’s acclaimed movie “Rough Cut” starring So Ji Sub and Kang Ji Hwan, which touched on the blurring of lines between reel and real life when a real mobster agrees to work with an arrogant actor in a movie; and the follow-up movie “Rough Play” by the same director, which showed the dark side of the entertainment world where an actor (played by Lee Joon) loses his morals when he suddenly gets famous. Disregarding the amount of sex and violence in both movies, I thought they were very contemplative and meaningful works with a strong message. I know we’ll enjoy seeing Ji Chang Wook look handsome and glamorous if he acts as a celebrity, but I’d definitely like some depth in the story rather than just the pretty alone.
Gabby: I LOVE crime stories, and I’m aghast that Ji Chang Wook still hasn’t gotten himself a role in a crime drama despite all these years that he has been acting. He stars as a fugitive in his upcoming movie “Fabricated City”, so I guess that’s a good first step into the crime genre. But I would still love to see him play a detective, prosecutor, criminal profiler, or anyone in the police force. Heck, he could act as an intern at the police station who ends up aiding the police on the side and I’ll still watch it! Ideally, I want to see him using his brains and sleuthing around like Sherlock Holmes with a trench coat in a crime procedural series like OCN’s “Special Affairs Team TEN” or tvN’s “Signal”. The crime dramas that I love usually have little or no romance at all, which is a good thing for me, but not a good thing for those who enjoy shipping the OTP couple in the dramas they watch. Last year’s “I Remember You” (which starred his buddy Seo In Guk) was a crime drama that had a good mix of romance and comedy though. Crime dramas rarely do well in viewership ratings too, but again, there are always exceptions like “Signal”.
cherkell: Until recently, Korean drama “crime stories” seemed to be an untapped genre, mostly because they hit too close to home with the country’s ongoing real-life corruptions. You cannot open a single newspaper these days without a new scandal blazen across the headlines, and I think drama viewers may want to watch a show for escapeism — shows that do not reflect what’s going on in real life. (I never watch legal-based dramas for that very reason.) Sadly, with the recent popularity of “Signal,” it seems everyone and their dog is now attempting to write a crime drama storyline to piggyback onto that show’s success. Maybe Ji Chang Wook should stay away from this genre for the simple fact that such a role may be unfairly compared to “Healer.” His character in “Healer” basically was a combination of detective and vigilante, and any future attempt to portray someone in the police field could also be unfairly construed as trying to make a “Healer 2.” But all in all, my interest would be piqued over a potential cop-bromance pairing with noraebang buddies Wook and Seo In Guk. (Any interested scriptwriters reading this? Give me a call.)
Gabby: Oh yes! I would definitely love to see these two on screen together, especially since Seo In Guk has already openly expressed his wish to work with Wook. But back to the topic. I wouldn’t consider “Healer” a crime drama, but more of an action drama since he wasn’t exactly on the “good” side of the law. While it is true that crime dramas deal with heavy subject matter that do not make for a relaxing watch after a hard day’s work, I will still prefer this over a melodrama. Just a personal preference. Well, if modern-day police dramas are too common, he can always be a Joseon detective!
cherkell: These three roles basically fall into the same legal-type category, so that’s why I’ve lumped them together. I think Ji Chang Wook would fit seamlessly into a role as a politician or some form of government official. Who would think that someone at such a tender age could be a prime candidate for public office, let alone joining the ranks with other Korean government officials. This fish-out-of-water storyline was recently aired by the KBS2 drama “Assembly,” in which a random blue-collar worker found himself in the not-envious position running for public office. Wook could be the perfect foil as the young neophyte with no experience whatsoever taking on the big bad world of the Political Elite and working towards the common good to make the country a better place. Yes, there will be trials and tribulations, ups and downs, maybe a tantrum or two after progress is stifled time and time again. But eventually good always handled with grace and efficiency… in a suit. Believe me, there will be a LOT of suits.
Gabby: Come to think of it, I’ve yet to watch a drama about lawyers or politicians, mainly because they don’t appeal to me. Wook will be the one to introduce me to this genre then. I always have this perception of politicians as old, burly men who are corrupt, so I can’t quite imagine Ji Chang Wook acting as one. He also doesn’t have the strong built or air of authority because of his lean figure. Even though he did a really impressive job as an emperor in “Empress Ki”, his character was ultimately a weak and powerless one. He may be able to project his voice in a way to suit such a role, but I feel his young age, handsome looks and lean figure don’t quite match that of a politician, or even a president. Maybe that can happen when he’s older? People often rise up to such positions when they are much older anyway. At this point, I feel he might be more suited for a role as a lawyer.
cherkell: My thoughts exactly. If Wook wanted to make me a really happy camper, he would truly be most fitting in a role as either a lawyer or judge. Again, with the same basic premise: Along with a trusty sidekick, both of them work tirelessly to rid the world of all the corruption and injustices; fight the good fight against the bad evildoers reigning their evil and badness upon an unsuspecting populace. His sidekick would have to be chosen very carefully, though — I’m SO over the “plucky female [insert type here]” character that ends up falling in love with the lead. There has been a dearth of dramas written where the two leads do NOT end up together at the end of the show, and a legal thriller fits the bill perfectly. This genre could be the perfect opportunity to showcase another great bromance like Wook had with Yoo Seung Ho in “Warrior Baek Dong Soo.” While wearing official judicial robes and official judicial suits. Did I mention suits? (So I’m shallow. Sue me. <g>)
Gabby: Ji Chang Wook has starred in a couple of sageuks, but we have yet to see him in the scholarly Joseon attire, even though it seems like most sageuks are often set in the Joseon Dynasty. Sageuks need not always be based on actual history and that gives room for a lot of imagination to even bring in fantasy elements. Sageuks such as “Arang and the Magistrate”, “Gu Family Book” and “Mirror of the Witch” are great examples. I would be ecstatic to see Ji Chang Wook star as a fox demon, a time traveller, a vampire scholar etc.
cherkell: It seems that Lee Joon Gi has pretty much had the corner on the market for fantasy sageuk characters over the past few years; it’s now time for him to relinquish that role for at least one drama, no? I don’t think we’ve ever seen Wook in a gat or yugun with flowing robes befitting his role as either a student studying for civil examinations or a yangban living under cover to hide his status from the monarchy, all the while floating through the woods and fields (robes still flowing in the breeze) while seeking out his prey or stealthily working undercover. We know Wook already possesses great sageuk hair, so no issue there. But I digress…
Gabby: Lee Joon Gi has the looks and the action skills, so he’s a tough match. But I’m sure directors will also want a fresh face to helm their sageuks. I just hope Wook doesn’t end up in one with cheesy special effects like “Night Watchman” or “Jeon Woo Chi”. I don’t have a specific role in mind that I’d like to see Wook take on in this genre. Maybe something more novel than a vampire or time traveller, since these have been done to death. Maybe a grim reaper in billowing black robes, a hotpot-loving goblin (HA!), or even a travelling magician? Throw in some forbidden romance and you’ll get the best of both worlds!
cherkell: This genre could suit Ji Chang Wook very well, if the story is written with a deft touch so it doesn’t turn into “what the heck?” territory. He already has two sageuks under his belt, so the speech patterns required for such a role should not be an issue. And we’ve already seen royal traits in the Emperor from “Empress Ki,” so starring in yet another historical would be second-nature (but then again, I worry about that pesky typecasting). What Wook would have to watch out for is not to play such character for giggles and grins, since he still has that ‘baby face’ that could make the viewing public think that he as a fantasy sageuk character could not be taken seriously. Also, the fantasy sageuk genre seems to be done to death lately, with “Mirror of the Witch” still on air and “Moon Lovers” on its way soon to our small screens. If this genre still is a hot topic in a few years, this character should definitely be one to investigate when Wook makes his comeback after his military service.
Hope you enjoyed our choices for future Ji Chang Wook roles. Maybe he could fit one of these into his already-packed schedule before he disappears for two years while serving his country? When we dream, we dream big!
Now it’s your turn! Let us know in our random, highly-unscientific poll below which one of our picks may be your favorite, or you may even contribute your own ideas in the comments below. Happy voting… and again, very Happy Birthday to Ji Chang Wook!