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[K-Star’s Best Character] How ‘Empress Ki’ Became the Tuning Point in Ji Chang Wook’s Acting Career

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun

Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Credit: Megabox Plus M

Ji Chang Wook began his acting career in 2008 with an independent film Sleeping Beauty. Since then, he worked on broadening his field by appearing on drama My Too Perfect Sons and musical Thrill me. Then in 2010, he first played the lead role through drama Smile, Dong Hae, making his face known.

Ji Chang Wook rose to stardom with Smile, Dong Hae, but the images of the character Dong Hae was so strong that in an interview, he jokingly said that he considered changing his name to Dong Hae. Thinking that he needed to break away from the images of Dong Hae, he played his first villain role in drama Five Fingers and received favorable reviews. In 2013, he met MBC drama Empress Ki and challenged a new transformation, solidifying his position as a trusted “go-to” actor.

Credit: MBC

In Empress Ki, which told the story of Ki Seung Nyang, who went from low-level palace woman to Empress Ki, he played the role of Yuan Emperor Ta Hwan. After getting embroiled in the power struggle of the ministers, Ta Hwan recovers his authority with the help of Ki Seung Nyang (Ha Ji Won), but ends up wielding tyranny because his love for her has gotten too big. Ji Chang Wook portrayed Ta Hwan, who showed distinct emotional shifts, with many details. Especially, he showed flawless performances in the scenes where he reveals his lunacy after being blinded by jealously. The character of Ta Hwan that initially faced difficulties in casting, fully came to life after meeting Ji Chang Wook.

With his passionate performances, Empress Ki revived the MBC drama, which was unable to escape from the slump at the time. The drama surpassed 20 percent viewership, and Ha Ji Won, who played the role of Empress Ki, won the Grand Prize at the MBC Drama Acting Awards later that year. Ji Chang Wook was also recognized for his acting prowess by winning Excellence Award and successfully broke away from his Dong Hae images.

Credit: MBC

He also led drama Healer to success with Park Min Young, receiving positive responses at home and abroad. He became the next Hallyu Star, following Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun, and entering the mainland of China.

After joining the army in 2017, Ji Chang Wook was discharged not long ago and returned to the small screen with Backstreet Rookie. Unlike his previous strong and charismatic roles, he plays a clumsy and comic role, presenting a whole new side of him.

What do you think?

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  • JCW is really a versatile actor!He is excellent in every role that he portrays. He is also very humble and good person!

  • I loved empress ki, just didn’t expect the sad ending, I’ve seen quite a few with ji chang wook in and I absolutely love him as an actor, at the moment I’m into backstreet rookie and am loving seeing him in this role x

  • Ji Chang Wook is such an excellent actor in his generation who can pull off versatile roles. It is so refreshing to see how brilliantly he portraying Choi Dae-Hyun. I like this side of him too….nerdish & clueless always muttering to himself. His expressive gaze , his charismatic smile and his personality is just beyond words.

  • I enjoyed Empress Ki. Is a very good story line about love n betrayal on different levels. Reminded me of my school days and our setbooks in the classroom. Lovely story.

  • I like also his acting prowess in healer,melting me siftly and mostly in suspicioud partners. I lovr ji chang wook. I am looking forward fir his new projects tha bi included in Viu. Thanks.

  • I absolutely loved Empress Ki so much so I’ve watched 3 times already, it was dramatic, sad, thrilling and so many other things.
    It’s one of my favourite go to shows i enjoyed JI CHANG WOOKS performance especially as you watch him go through the different stages through the series.
    I just loved it

  • I started watching Korean dramas recently just by chance. (all the way from Johannesburg, South Africa). I am absolutely fascinated by the Korean storylines, the actors etc. This is all I watch. My favourite actor is Ji Chang Wook then Lee Min Ho and then Hyun Bin. The list goes on, on and on. Fantastic fabulous viewing ….. congratulations….
    And these guys are gorgeous….oh my word…..

  • Ji Chang Wook is a versatile actor… I’ve watch his shows and he’s just one of the best…. Congratulations!!!!

  • I really admire him as an actor,and i know he is a good person and gentleman too!more power to you my idol😍stay safe!!!😷

  • I really enjoyed watching your film,especially Healer and BackStreet Rookie you are indeed a great actor! Sarangheyo oppa😍forever Ji Chang Wook fan luv yah!!!

  • He is the most handsome, charming and talented actor in Korea and he is a very humble person who cares for his fan

  • I like Chang wook due to the drama of suspicious partner . Because in this drama he tells us that if someone defeats us , so it is not that all persons defeat. Some persons also like us not for our reputation , he loves us due to our positivity, caring, etc

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