[Interview] Ji Chang Wook, a magical invitation to awaken a sleeping child

Magic is a trick. “How did you do it?” If you look at it with a suspicious eye, you can’t fully enjoy magic. It’s just good to follow the magician with a comfortable mind. Then, an incredible dreamy world unfolds. The charm of magic is that you can forget the harsh reality for a while and let yourself be immersed in pleasant fantasies.

In my childhood, I could see the world as I believed. Sadly, as I became an adult, my clear eyes gradually became murky and I couldn’t fully believe what I saw. The Netflix series “Annarasumanara” tells the story of someone on the way to adulthood, and people who have grown up but have yet to find their meaning, while taking care of each other. The subject that connects them is magic.

Based on the webtoon of the same name, “Annarasumanara” added more attraction by converting black and white paintings into colorful videos. In addition, the musical genre was combined to incorporate the emotions of the characters into song and dance, creating a genre called “musical drama.” Ji Chang Wook was in charge of “Lee Eul,” a magician who presents special moments to “Yoon Ah Yi” (Choi Seung Eun) who lives in a difficult reality, and teaches magic to “Na Il Deung” (Hwang In Yeop) who has no dreams.

Ji Chang Wook is an actor who has established himself as a Hallyu star by being recognized for his acting skills in the dramas “Warrior Baek Dong Soo” and “The Empress Ki.” He continued to show his potential in “Healer,” “Suspicious Partner,” “The K2,” and even showed excellent singing skills through the musicals “Jack the Ripper,” “The Days,” and “Shinheung Military Academy.” “Annarasumanara” can be said to be a work that intensively contains the charm that Ji Chang Wook has accumulated. Needless to say, acting has strengthened his position as a Hallyu star through Netflix and made it a stage to boast solid singing skills. In particular, Ji Chang Wook’s unique playfulness and innocence of Lee Eul, who lives in his own world without losing a child’s innocence even as an adult, are detailed.

Everyone has a child in their heart. Ji Chang Wook, who became a magician, sends an invitation to adults who have lost their dreams and innocence. It’s time to wake up to the fading presence of a child’s mind.

[Ji Chang Wook interview with Top Class Magazine, June 2022 issue]

Q: When I heard about your appearance in “Annarasumanara,” I was surprised that it was quite different from your filmography so far. In the meantime, there have been many cases where you have played a role with a strong impression or a romance character.

A: When I received the script, I was moved by the way Ah-yi and Il-deung looked. I could relate to this because it could be my story, everyone’s story. There was a burden on the original and musical difficulties, but I chose the work because it was so touching. I wanted to convey a message such as what childhood innocence or dream we had when we were young, and how we were happy to live.

Q: What part of the story do you relate to?

A: There was a time when I too struggled with money and was under academic stress. I once sat at my desk without knowing what I wanted to do. When I was a senior in high school, I decided to become an actor. Why am I studying all of a sudden? I wondered if it’s because they’re having fun. I didn’t study because I had a clear purpose. I was just preparing for a career path according to the characteristics of the aptitude test, and I was like, ‘Is this right? Will I be able to do it for the rest of my life?’ I also doubted.

Q: You have been recognized for your singing ability in musicals such as “Jack the Ripper,” “The Days,” and “Shinheung Military School,” but “Annarasumanara” is a music drama that you’ve never tried before, and there are many things to show. Didn’t you feel pressured?

A: It was okay at first. ‘Is magic hard? Is music difficult?’ I thought it was easy, but when I started practicing, it wasn’t easy. After that, I trusted the power of directing and trusted my colleagues. The preparation period was longer than other works because it went through numerous rehearsals and meetings for the singing scene.

Q: Lee Eul is a magician who wants to remain a child forever. There are many magic scenes in the drama, but did you play most of them yourself?

A: I practiced for three to four months with the help of Illusionist Lee Eun Kyul. Fortunately, most of them are magic tricks that I can pull off. Lee Eul is not a great magician. Skill wasn’t that important because we did magic tricks against children in abandoned amusement parks. But I practiced a lot so that I didn’t look awkward or uncomfortable. There’s no magic trick. I was just practicing and practicing until I got used to it.”


Q: The original webtoon of the same name drew a lot of attention. How much did you refer to the webtoon to express Lee Eul?

A: I didn’t read the original webtoon until the end, judging that it wasn’t very helpful for my acting. It is true that the webtoon was so loved that it was a burden. I didn’t want to embody the original Lee Eul exactly the same, even though I hoped it didn’t blur the essence of the original. That was impossible. Instead, I tried to reinterpret it in my own style.

Q: As Lee Eul is a mysterious character, it must have been difficult to realize the unknown facial expressions and gestures in real life.

A: The director looked at the overall tone and manner. It was coordinated a little bit more mischievous, exciting, or this time, let’s hide it, let’s reveal it, let’s coordinate it. I wasn’t trying to play mystique or mystery. If I deliberately acted to appear as such a character, it would make it even weirder. I just took it honestly. Then I thought that the scenes would pile up and naturally convey a mysterious atmosphere.”

Q: What did the author Ha Il Kwon say?

A: Thanks to him, I was able to produce a good work and I contacted the writer first to say thank you for allowing me to play the charming Lee Eul. After that, I’m embarrassed to say it with my own mouth, but the writer was also moved and praised me after seeing the acting several times. There was no choice but to be burdened by the evaluation because of the large fan base of the original work, but it was comforting to hear that the original author liked it.

Q: The lines “Erase numbers in my head” and “I do what I want to do as much as I do what I don’t want to do” seem difficult in reality. It’s more like that as you grow up.

A: That’s right. It’s impossible to live with numbers out of your head. However, I think it’s the message that Lee Eul wants to convey the most to do as much as he does what he doesn’t want to do as you want to do. I think it’s definitely necessary to think about what I really want to do in real life and relax.

Q: Are there aspects that you want to keep unchanged even when you become an adult?

A: I felt that I was hiding myself more and more because of hurting someone and getting hurt. I didn’t do that when I was younger. I want to be as honest as possible, but I must have already lost a lot. Because of people’s gaze, I can’t do what I want to do and I can’t say what I want to say, so I pack up and live. Still, I want to live my life honestly.

Q: The scene where he took Yoon Ah Yi back to her childhood and comforted her was impressive. Is there a moment you want to take yourself to the past and comfort him?

A: Meet me when I was young? Then I don’t know what to say. What kind of talk will help? Of course, there are difficult moments and mistakes, but it’s a precious experience and process for me, so I don’t think I need to talk about anything else. I think it’s okay if you tell me to secretly watch from afar.

Q: What if you met Ji Chang Wook when he was a rookie, not when he was young?

A: Well… just tell me you’re doing great. It’s okay to make mistakes or be wrong, so you can do whatever you want.

Q: It’s already been 14 years since your debut. When do you look back on your acting career, would you pick the most magical moment?

A: When I was informed that I was accepted to the Department of Performance and Film. I still remember. I got a pass text message on the bus, but I got off the bus right away and called my mom. I had to go further to my destination, but when the bus door opened, I got off without realizing it. Also, the emotions I feel at every moment, I think meeting a good person and being happy is a magical moment.


Q: The heart of a child hurt by adults is also connected to the theme of the work. If there was only one good adult around, the reality could have changed a lot. What is a good adult?

A: That is a difficult question. Of course, it’s something I’m constantly thinking about, but I don’t think anyone can tell me the answer. It will not be easy to give the right answer because each person has a different situation and style. Even if there may be an answer, I can’t seem to get it right. If I could just have fun with them, I think I would be a good adult.

Q: Are you a fun-loving adult? Haha. There must have been a lot of juniors, but what kind of senior do you want to be?

A: Suddenly, I noticed that the stylist, hair and makeup artist were all younger than me. I have reached an age where I can comfortably call myself “hyung” if I drink with the director. That doesn’t mean I want to become a senior. I just want to be a fun and comfortable person to work with. However, as an older person, what I want to do is to make sure that I don’t work because I’m young. I don’t want to create an atmosphere that prevents junior actors from doing that, even though they can express themselves more. I try to make the site feel that it is a warm and enjoyable place.

Q: What kind of person do you want ‘Human Ji Chang Wook’ to remain for the people around you?

A: Because of my appearance, many people think that first impressions are difficult and cold. Even director Kim Seong Yoon said he had a prejudice against me. I’m not that kind of person. I just want you to think of me as a comfortable and fun person.

**************

In the last part of “Annarasumanara,” Lee Eul disappears. Where did he go? Ji Chang Wook imagined for a moment. Lee Eul, who escaped from the amusement park, reappeared in an inconspicuous place, dusting off the dust. Then, he would magically appear in front of other children having a hard time and ask? “Do you believe in magic?” A hopeful imagination arose from the heart of cheering for Lee Eul, who forgot the harsh reality for a moment and showed the world unfolding as he believed. He resembles Ji Chang Wook’s wish, in which he still does not want to lose his honesty and innocence even after becoming an adult.

Source: Top Class Magazine

Translated from Korean to English by cherkell; there may be slight inaccuracies. PLEASE DO NOT REPRINT, REPURPOSE, SCREENCAP OR OTHERWISE COPY OUR CONTENT WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION. 

5 thoughts on “[Interview] Ji Chang Wook, a magical invitation to awaken a sleeping child

  1. Ji Chang Wook has truly the ability to turn any script into looks like reality .I loved sound of magic .. awakened the child dreams again that one so sadly forget his songs very good his voice very romantic …i wish him all the best for his future he is a charming and humble caracter

  2. I love all his work and keep looking for more. Thank you to the Chefs that put this site together and do such an excellent job of providing the translations!! I have learned so much about JCW; I am very grateful!

  3. Wonderful interview , sincere and honest from JCW for whom my admiration as an actor and singer has grown over the years following him . Annara Sumanara is a brilliant series , truly inspiring and moving and beautifully acted. The music leaves me with an earful of catchy tunes and melodies and the choreography was amazing and original . A great achievement for all concerned . Thank you for making this available to us . Annara Sumanara is magical !

  4. Thank you Cherkell for translating JCW thoughts. His interviews are so revealing of his inner feelings. It must have been challenging for you.

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