On 18 July, Ji Chang Wook met with reporters at the Sky Farm restaurant on the 50th floor of the FKI Tower in Yeouido, Seoul, where he expressed his opinions about his recently-ended drama “Suspicious Partner” and his upcoming military enlistment. Since many of the news reports were quite repetitive, the following is a compilation of several press interviews released that day.
What are your thoughts on the filming of “Suspicious Partner”?
“Suspicious Partner” ended its run last week. I’m thankful that we completed it without any problems. This drama is a very meaningful one to me. This was my first romantic comedy and my final project before military enlistment. I had fun working on this project so I feel very happy, but I also have a complicated mix of emotions as I feel sad and regretful too.
You said “Suspicious Partner” was meaningful. Please elaborate.
It was my first romantic comedy. Before starting on this, I had a lot of pressure wondering if I will be able to do well in this project. This was also a project without action scenes in a long while. But I still enjoyed myself on set nonetheless. The trivial little scenes made it enjoyable for my mind and body. That’s why the show carries deep meaning (for me).
Was there anything that you focused on while acting as Ji Wook in “Suspicious Partner”?
In the drama, Ji Wook may seem perfect but he has a personal charm. He has some deficiencies; his personality may be different from mine but it can’t be help that he also shares some aspects as my real self since I’m the one playing this role. You can see the man Ji Chang Wook through Ji Wook’s manner of speech, actions, and way of expressing things. The character’s own personality is different from mine though…
Your personality in reality seems to be the kind that dislikes cheesiness.
It’s tiring. But since this is a romantic comedy, even though it was cheesy, I tried my best to keep it light and make it not too burdensome. I had to do that so the audience can still accept the emotions entirely. For example, in a line such as “Don’t fall for me”, he clearly knows that he likes her but he does not tell her he likes her. Even a line like “I will love you all my life” may be cheesy, but I wanted to do my best to keep it light. I prefer a style like “You are dirty but pretty”. I prefer something brusque rather telling you that you are very pretty. I think my style on normal days is also like that.
How was your chemistry with Nam Ji Hyun?
We met as an adult actor and child actress in the drama “Warrior Baek Dong Soo”. I didn’t have any scenes with Nam Ji Hyun at that time. It was our first time working together in this show. Despite the age difference, I think I behaved like a kid and joked around. I wanted to be comfortable with her and communicate with her. We were able to film enjoyably because Nam Ji Hyun responded well to all that. We were able to develop a relationship where we could laugh and joke together regardless of our age. At the set, we worked together and we had to communicate because there was romance in the show, so I think we were comfortable with each other. I had a lot of conversations with Nam Ji Hyun.
There were also many scenes of silent kisses, skinship etc.
We could film the kissing and skinship scenes comfortably too because we were able to create an atmosphere that allowed us to do so. I received a lot of help at the film set. I will take the initiative to ask the director what I should do to express something well. I will also ask my co-star, “How about acting like this?”
When asked to choose his most memorable kiss scene in “Suspicious Partner”, he chose the scene where Noh Ji Wook rejected a kiss. “Eun Bong Hee tried to give Noh Ji Wook a kiss, but he avoided it unknowingly and Eun Bong Hee felt hurt as a result. I thought a lot about that scene. Even when reading the script, I wondered if it was okay for him to avoid Eun Bong Hee because of the past related to her father. I am acting as Noh Ji Wook but I thought it was a bit too much of him to do that. I tried to sufficiently understand Noh Ji Wook’s position but that scene made me think from Eun Bong Hee’s position.”
While acting in this drama, you earned yourself nicknames such as “King of romantic comedy” and “master of kissing”.
Being labelled as such makes me more embarrassed and shy than I thought. Be it kissing scenes or melodramatic scenes, I think of them as a kind of acting. That’s why I tried my best to make the scenes look pretty and without awkwardness, and I did my best in those scenes. The camera director filmed the scene prettily, and the acting director treated us comfortably on set. I think I was able to earn such nicknames because the scenes turned out well. I’m embarrassed and shy now that I hear it. I think I have to work harder next time.
The response to your romantic comedy was good. Are you the kind who will read comments often?
I try not to read them. After all, you are going to remember and be hurt by the bad comments more than the good comments right? I also try my best not to listen to praises. If by any chance that my acting is really bad, I will be bothered if I see the comments so I don’t read them. During filming, I wasn’t aware but I recently realised that a lot of young people watch this drama. My recent filming at Hongdae was also very hot and tiring but it was fun. Now I want to go to Hongdae to have fun.
A reporter noted that there are comments online about Nam Ji Hyun collecting puppy-like male actors, from Seo In Guk in her previous drama “Shopping King Louie” to Ji Chang Wook in “Suspicious Partner”. Hearing that, Ji Chang Wook asked, “A puppy face? Me?…It could be a certain taste or fantasy of the viewers. I don’t look that way if you see me in real life, but they probably perceive me that way because of the romantic scenes and scenes of me bickering with the female lead in the drama.”
Were there any difficulties while filming the drama?
The subtle scenes of love in romantic scenes were difficult. Falling in love, breaking up, feeling hurt…it was not easy to deliver these subtle emotions to the audience. There were emotions that I had to express during scenes of major incidents in my previous shows, but there was no such thing right now and I had to handle subtle emotions, which wasn’t easy.
Personally, I am not satisfied with my acting. I have big regrets. I would think if I had knew more about the girl’s feelings, “I would have acted this way in this part.”
While working on “Suspicious Partner”, I realised that it is not easy to depict the psychology between men and women, and that it is also difficult to portray such emotions. That’s why I want to try acting in a traditional melodrama. Men and women think very differently. I think it will be very interesting to express those subtle feelings through acting.
Are you able to pick your best character from the dramas that you’ve starred in thus far?
I think it’s hard for me to choose. What made me excited while acting was the time when I played the role of Ta Hwan in “Empress Ki”. It was a piece of work that made me excited because there were many things for me to show and act out. In the case of “Suspicious Partner”, it was interesting because it was my first romantic comedy character and I had been wanting to try out the comedy genre. I don’t think I am able to pick just one. I have affections for Seo Jung Hu in “Healer” because he turned out handsomely thanks to the writer who wrote such a handsome character. Kim Jae Ha in “The K2” is a role that a man would want to try playing. I can’t choose.
You are about to enter the army.
I will be enlisting in the army on 14 August. It’s very late, but I plan to have fun and do my best while staying healthy. After I’m discharged, I will greet everyone through interesting projects again. I ask of you to wait for me for 1 year and 9 months. Once I’m done with my schedules, I plan to spend some personal time on my own. Because I wish to prepare myself before enlisting and I also want to enlist in good health, I am thinking of spending time on my own. I want to rest before enlisting and I think I have exerted myself too much physically. I plan to have a trip where I can spend time with my friends and the family I love.
For instance, I thought of settling my accounts, and because my house is leased so I need to decide how to settle that. I am raising a dog too so I need to hand over to my mother. There are a lot more things to do than I thought so I’m worried.
How did the people around you react to your upcoming enlistment?
I had my birthday not long ago. My friends teased me about going to the army. For example, they would tease me saying “What should we give you as a present?” I’ve gotten used to it by now. The people around me told me a lot about the army, but I will get to know all these when I experience these myself when I enter the army anyway. There’s also a 10- to 11-year age difference between me and the people that I will be spending time in the army with. But I do think it will be fun despite that. When will I always get to hang out with younger friends (laughs)?
Will there be any actresses coming to visit you?
All the actors that I’ve worked with said they will come to visit me. But I wonder how many of them will come. Joking and being serious at the same time, I told my male friends not to come, but I will still receive him happily if a guy even comes. All the actresses that I’ve worked with said they will come to visit me, but I shall wait and see (laughs).
Among the actors you’ve worked with, who will you pick as your best partner?
I enjoyed being with all the friends I’ve worked with. Not once did I ever raise my voice at anyone on set before. In the case of Ji Won noona in MBC “Empress Ki”, she was always smiling on set. Even when it was tiring and we stayed up all night everyday, she would always smile and make the atmosphere brighter. I learnt a lot from noona about the attitude and responsibility of a lead role and the atmosphere of the film set. Likewise for Min Young noona, Yoona sshi and Ji Hyun yang. I’m thankful to everyone. So I am not able to choose just one person. If I were to pick one person, I’ll probably get scolded.
*”Noona” is a Korean term of address for older sister, “sshi” is a polite form of address for any male or female, “yang” is used to address a younger girl.
With regards to whether he is worried about this vacant period while he is away, he said, “I don’t feel as pressured as I thought.”
“I’m not too afraid. I’ve done a lot of projects all this while so audiences have seen my face a lot, but personally, I think of this as a time to take a break from projects and recharge, and also a time for me to do a lot more thinking as an actor. Also, army life is a new experience that I’ve not had before. I’m curious as to what kind of image I will have after I am discharged.”
“Actually, I am not too pressured about army. Everyone has to go there naturally. Many of my peers have gone, and now that the time has come, I feel relieved instead. And when I return, it will probably be more interesting. Life will probably be more relaxed and I will become a little more matured. I feel great instead.”
When asked if he will perform better in army since he has done a lot of action scenes last time, he said, “I wonder if life in the army will be different from action. Nonetheless, I think I will be good at doing physical activities.”
Looking back on his acting career, he said, “I think my acting has been very clumsy so far. But as I accumulate more experience now, when I look at things as a whole, I have become smoother and better at it. Because I was clumsy when I was younger, I think was able to be more passionate and run more fearlessly. I miss those days too.”
“I had the feeling of being chased in my twenties. I felt that I needed to keep working quickly and continuously, so when I look back on my twenties, I didn’t get to rest much. Either I didn’t receive many project offers or I had nothing and I would go search for something to do, so I didn’t have much free time and I wasn’t able to enjoy many things as a person. Although that is a bit regrettable, if I look at the work I’ve done, I have received so much love so I feel relaxed going to the army. I will be more relaxed in my thirties. I think I will think of myself as a person than as an actor.”
Additional interview photos here:
Korean-English translation by Gabby. PLEASE DO NOT REPRINT, REPURPOSE, SCREENCAP OR OTHERWISE COPY OUR CONTENT ON OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS. This interview was translated for the sole purpose of providing English content to international fans. No copyright infringement intended.