His appearances are not ordinary, but his personality is very ordinary. And that’s why he shines even more. Ji Chang Wook enlisted at the Gangwon Province Cheorwon training institute on 14 August. There are many problems concerning celebrities’ army enlistment these days, yet he enlisted coolly for active duty. We met up with him at a restaurant in Yeouido before he enlisted.
Sorry to start off by talking about the army, but how are you feeling?
I’d be lying if I said I’m not feeling uneasy, but I’m not feeling anxious only either. Everyone has to go to the army anyway. Actually, it’s not going to be for a very long time either. I think I feel relieved instead. There will be more interesting things after I return and I think I’ll be more relaxed. Moreover, I think there will be some changes in me during the 1 year and 9 months, and I have some anticipation of that for myself.
How are the people around you reacting?
My friends will start talking about the army the moment they meet me. They tell me this and that as advice, but I’m not sure if those are words of advice or are they teasing me (laughs). I had my birthday recently and they asked “Do you need anything when you go to the army? Shall I give it to you as a present?” I told them jokingly, “How about, a G-Shock watch? (a rough watch that is known as a watch for soldiers)” A staff member at the film set also joked, “Time seems to pass very quickly in the army right? It’s hell.” And someone also said, “The four seasons in Gangwon Province are summer, winter, real winter, and real real winter.” (laughs) I shall only think positively.
You are 31 this year. You are enlisting late right?
Since I’m enlisting late, I ought to face this diligently with fun and in good health. Compared to coming up with an ambitious plan, I wish to have a fun time with the friends I meet in the army. I wish to become a meaningful person in the lives of those friends, and I want to have a happy time in my life too. I don’t want to feel regret when I look back on those times.
Are there any special things you want to do before enlisting?
I want to spend time with my family and friends. Although there’s not much time left, I’m planning to have a holiday in Jeju with my parents whom I have to separate with for a while. I want to enlist after preparing my mind and body and spending my own personal time. For example, I’ve been thinking if I should settle my bank accounts, and because my house is rented, I need to decide how I should settle it too. I’m raising a puppy too, so I need to think about what is the best way to handover to my mother. There are more things to do than expected.
Do you usually manage your accounts personally?
I do, but I’m not good at it. I’m the kind who can’t do anything else other than work when I’m working, so I should make use of this opportunity and pay more attention to it.
You’ve worked with many female actresses. Are there any actresses who said that they will visit you in the army?
When I asked them upon meeting them, all of them said they will come to visit me…, I shall watch and see (laughs). Actually, I used to be fine with everything except for men visiting me, but I think I’ll be grateful to anyone who comes to visit me now. That’s how soldiers feel.
Another name for “enlistment” is “vacant period”. Do you have any special plans during this period?
I’ve pondered a lot about this personally. I even wondered if I should study English or Chinese, but I don’t think it will be easy when I enlist, so I’ve decided to go to the army at ease first. Come to think of it, I’ve not rested before in the past few years. I did not get to enjoy much as the “human Ji Chang Wook”. That’s why I do feel relaxed about going to the army instead.
Who do you think you will miss the most in the army?
My mother of course. And I think I will miss my friends even though they are “good-for-nothing” friends who will tease me whenever they meet me.
Shall we talk a bit about your work now?
My final piece of work before enlistment! It’s a meaningful show since it is my first romantic comedy and last one before enlistment. I feel happy and regretful too. I was actually very worried because this is my first romantic comedy, but I managed to meet good actors and a good production team and wrap it up safely, that’s why I’m able to enlist happily. Both my body and soul were able to have an enjoyable time because of the romance, comedy and all the little scenes.
The recently-concluded SBS drama is a romance drama about Noh Ji Wook (played by Ji Chang Wook), an unapproachable sexy and intelligent lawyer, and Eun Bong Hee, the external lawyer brimming with positivity, who get involved in a mysterious case and fall for each other. Ji Chang Wook has earned himself the title of “king of romantic comedy” through this drama.
Your sweet collaboration with your partner in the drama, Nam Ji Hyun, became a hot topic.
I worked hard to be comfortable with her. I behaved childishly with her even though I was older than Ji Hyun sshi. Thanks to that, we formed a relationship where we could joke with each other even on usual days, that’s why I was comfortable when acting. We also spoke a lot to each other, that’s why I did not feel awkward even when we had to film scenes with a high level of skinship.
Is that so? You’ve been described as a “master of kissing” and “master of romantic comedy”. (The silent kissing scene in the drama was a hot topic).
Although I don’t dislike it, I feel awkward and embarrassed and I cringe when I hear that (laughs). Actually, expressing the subtle emotions of a couple in love or being hurt by each other wasn’t as easy as I thought. Given that the genre is romantic comedy, I thought I had to do my best to make it look pretty and that there shouldn’t be any awkwardness. In reality, it would be embarrassing to kiss a girlfriend in a crowded area, and it’s even more embarrassing to kiss a partner at work. But we had to do it nicely since we are professionals. That’s why I created a comfortable atmosphere. By joking childishly with my co-star. I worked hard to find out what my co-star likes and dislikes and figure out her personality, and I also paid attention to my relationship with the staff at the same time so that they do not feel embarrassed.
Did you ever feel your heart flutter while filming?
There were many such moments. I acted while imagining how I’ll be like if this situation was real. I always imagine this way in every piece of work I do.
You received praises throughout your drama, and one of the comments that drew attention was “Even his cells are acting”.
I usually do not look at comments because negative remarks will affect me more than the good ones. Even if I happen to see malicious comments, I try to accept them calmly. Even my cells are acting? Those words leave me embarrassed. I’m thankful but it’s true that I feel burdened instead when I hear such words.
Through “Suspicious Partner”, Ji Chang Wook has become an actor who is capable of anything from action to melodrama.
I want to expand my scope of acting a little, and I hope it will increase in depth also. I want to become an actor who is capable of moving peoples’ hearts with just a look in the eye. There’s no other method to attaining that, but I think my life experiences are encapsulated in my eyes. So I have a vague hope that I’ll become such a person some day if I have an interesting time in the army.
After debuting in 2008 though “You Are Very Good”, Ji Chang Wook has steadily built up his filmography with shows such as “Smile Donghae” (2010), “Warrior Baek Dong Soo” (2011), “Five Fingers” (2012), “Empress Ki” (2013), “Healer” (2014), “The K2” (2016), “Fabricated City” (2016) and more.
Which will you pick as your best character?
This is a tough question. The character that made me the most excited when I was acting was Ta Hwan. Because there were many things I could show. Ji Wook in “Suspicious Partner” is my first rom-com character, so I had a lot of fun while playing this role. Seo Jung Hu was written as a very awesome character by the scriptwriter so I do think he’s awesome too. Kim Jae Ha in “The K2” is manly. All of them are very precious.
Your “hardworking” appearance is something we cannot leave out when we mention Ji Chang Wook. Do you like your own appearance?
That’s one of the things that make me embarrassed, but in my eyes I’m just… (laughs). Actually I think it’s a pity that my image is first determined by my looks. Take senior Go Soo for example, he’s an actor who is good at acting with depth, but his looks are outstanding so it seems to conceal his acting skills instead. I’m always thinking that I ought to overcome my “pretty actor” image too. So I set a thorough criteria of my own. I try my best to restrain myself from doing unnecessary things like handphone and games during filming, and focus on the script only. Because this is a habit I’ve had since debut, I hardly look at my handphone at the film set.
Ji Chang Wook is having his 10th debut anniversary this year. To borrow his words, it was “a period that was like a busy and rushed adolescence”. He didn’t know a thing during this stormy period and only ran around the “world of acting”, but now, he misses those times instead and reflects. This is the reason why we are looking forward even more to Ji Chang Wook 1 year and 9 months later.
Translated from Korean to English by Gabby. PLEASE DO NOT REPRINT, REPURPOSE, SCREENCAP, TRANSLATE INTO OTHER LANGUAGES, OR OTHERWISE COPY OUR CONTENT WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION. This interview was translated for the sole purpose of providing English content to international fans. No copyright infringement intended.
Credit: Woman Sense