Ji Chang Wook said his hobby is to ride his bike. Although he doesn’t like speed, he likes the feel of the wind when riding on a bike, he said with a soft expression. At one point in time, the words used to describe Ji Chang Wook were “action”, “intense”, “fighting spirit” and “rough”, etc. But the Ji Chang Wook who is seated facing us in reality is a simple and ordinary youth who enjoys acting and dreams of having a happy family. We had an easygoing chat with the real Ji Chang Wook without grand modifiers.
Your movie “Fabricated City” drew more than 2.5 million audiences. It seems like Ji Chang Wook’s potential as a movie star has been recognised.
I didn’t think of myself as having received huge recognition. I just feel a sense of relief for completing this safely. I really had fun working on this. Although it’s a pity that it did not receive greater success, 2.5 million is not a small figure. I am grateful towards the audiences who watched the movie and those who helped out during the production of this movie.
You must’ve felt a great sense of accomplishment.
This is my first leading role in a movie so it holds significance. I think this will likely remain as a very big production to me. This was my first time doing promotions for a movie. Actually, I thought of it as nothing much, but I ended up working harder on it as I did more promotions. Unlike television ratings, we get to see the audience admission numbers together everyday, which made me even more ambitious while doing the promotions.
You’ve been starring in shows of the action genre consecutively.
My body isn’t that great because I’ve been doing too much action. I don’t even exercise when I’m taking a break from work, but my body hurts instead. I’m currently exercising to regain my health. I think I need to build up my fitness if I want to cope well when I start on a project these days. Actually, exercising to build up your body is not something enjoyable. You need to control your diet, shut yourself in the gym to do repeated exercises, which is a really agonizing thing. But despite that, I try to exercise consistently for the sake of my health.
You held a fan meeting in Taiwan.
Because it has been a long time since I visited Taiwan, I prepared many songs for my Taiwanese fans and also prepared my heart/prepared myself emotionally. Before meeting my fans, I thought a lot about how I should treat them. I’m always thankful. I’ve not done any special activities in Taiwan, but I’m able to hold a fan meeting because they enjoy watching Korean dramas. I’m grateful to them for coming to see me and for liking me.
What would be the reason for your popularity in Taiwan?
I heard that “Empress Ki” did well in Taiwan. I’m also aware that “Healer” and “The K2” were also aired there.
Ji Chang Wook’s charm also seems to have resonated well even in Taiwan.
Haha. I think they like me because of my shows. I think they like my characters in those shows. That’s also one of the reasons for me to work harder on my acting in the future.
Not long ago, ‘Fabricated City’ was sold to 31 countries including the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Have you ever thought about going to Hollywood?
I have never thought about it (laughs). I want to do better in Korea. Maybe I will have some ambition after that? If I have a bigger dream or a good opportunity, I will want to proceed with it naturally. But I don’t have such lofty ideas right now.
To what extent do you have a big picture of yourself as an actor in mind?
I drew a big picture when I was young. Apart from being an actor right now, I think more about what I should do as a person to live more happily. In the midst of that, I have my job as an actor. Right now, acting is something that I really enjoy and something that I want to do. But rather than the need to achieve a big dream as an actor, I ponder more about how I can live happily as someone’s husband and as a parent next time.
Maybe because you already have several successful works as an actor (laughs)?
It seems like people only remember that my shows did well. There are many people who are not aware that I perform in musicals also. Looking at that, I didn’t choose to act in shows for the sake of wanting to succeed. I hope that achieving success is not a purpose for acting. Although a job is tied to one’s livelihood, that is just fundamental; apart from that, I want to always enjoy working. Of course, it’s great when the show does well, and I do my job to help the show succeed, but viewership ratings and results are not something that I can control. I do not want success to become the focus of my job. Whether or not the show performs well, if I can be happy with the people I work with and do my best, there are no regrets even if the results are poor. When I suddenly look back on the past, that piece of work remains as a happy memory. It is sad if the mood at the film set turns bad because of poor viewership ratings.
Was there a character that made you consider with discretion for a long time when you received the script?
Always, I’m always worrying. There are not many times where I go “Woah, this is definitely okay” at once. I worry and ponder over it. In the case of my recent work “Fabricated City”, the things that worried me more ranged from whether I will be able to do a good job to what kind of emotion I should use to approach the audience.
Among the characters in dramas that you’ve played so far, which one are you most attached to?
All of them. All the shows that I’ve acted in so far are good experiences and good memories. These are characters who make me who I am today. I treasure every single one of them.
You’ve expressed interest in the romantic comedy genre before. Is there a character that you desire?
I want to do something interesting. I’ve not done romantic comedies before, so I think it will be enjoyable when I get to act in one. I don’t think of genres in a limiting way when I look at a piece of work.
What is your criteria for being “interesting”?
A piece of work that makes me think “It will probably be interesting if I act in this”, “I will probably be able to do this well” when I read the script. What I’m thinking now is that after I return from the army, I just want to play any role that is interesting, regardless of whether it is a lead or supporting role, even if it’s just a very small role. Besides dramas and movies, I want to do performances or theatre plays too. It could be a commercial play or even an experimental play. If there is an attractive supporting character, I wish to take on that challenge too. I want to choose freely without restricting myself.
In “Fabricated City”, your voice when narrating the poet Cheon Sang Byung’s “Tree” was good. Do you have any interest in narration or being a radio DJ?
I have interest, but I don’t get such offers (laughs). There is a burden of having to do things on a fixed regular basis as a radio DJ. But I appeared as a guest on “Jo Yoon Hee’s Volume Up” not too long ago and I found it interesting to interact with listeners in real time.
It has already been 9 years since you’ve debuted as an actor. What is the driving force for you being an actor?
If my ambition, dream and passion were the driving forces when I was younger, then my pride is also one of them now. A combination of passion, pride, sense of responsibility and stubbornness serve as the driving force for my life as an actor.
Have you ever imagined how you will be like 10 years later?
I do occasionally. But I don’t think I will be very different 10 years later. I think I will still work hard when I’m acting, and still meet up with friends during my break. If I’m married, I will be spending time with my family too. I will probably be still holding the exact same job.
You are definitely dreaming of having a harmonious family right?
Of course! If I were to have a family, I hope it will be a harmonious one. I have a romantic fantasy of having a happy family. I think I will be able to do that again.
There are probably a lot of people around you who are married now.
They are steadily appearing (laughs). There are people who have romantic ideals or fantasies about marriage, but there are also those who approach this in a very realistic manner. I think it differs for every person. There are also people who say they will get married as late as possible. I think the burden of family is very huge. My friend’s wife is pregnant with twins and they are worried. I got the sense that getting married was not easy for them at that time. More importantly, I could feel that he/she was like an adult. Although I do not have much thoughts about marriage now, I will approach it carefully if I suddenly feel that the time has come for me to do so.
You are enlisting in the army this year, how will Ji Chang Wook be like after returning from the army?
I will meet many people when I go to the army. I will probably gain more experience by living with people in all kinds of places and become a little more mature. I wish to create good memories with my friends there. I’m not as worried about the army as I thought I will be. I hope to complete my army stint in good health.
Scans and Korean-English translation by Gabby.
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