Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Cho EK
In the summer of 2021, Ji Chang Wook returned with a new role. In the movie Hard Hit, he transforms into a blackmailer who uses no caller ID to call the protagonist and adds tight tension throughout the 94-minutes of running time. The film is on a good run at the box office, peaking at number one on the first day of its release. Ji Chang Wook has played in a variety of genres, from the filial piety of Smile Again, historical dramas, mystery plays, and romantic comedies. Here are some of his best works that show his versatility.
Smile Again (2010)
Smile Again is a daily drama about a woman who was adopted to the United States and her son returning to Korea to find her biological father. Ji Chang Wook, who was just starting to get attention, took on the lead role for the first time in Smile Again. He gained so much recognition that he was called ‘Donghae’ wherever he went.
Donghae stimulated viewers’ maternal love as a character who never holds a grudge and has a warm heart. As his character was described on the official website as ‘a cool guy like white dongchimi kimchi’, he laughs and cries a lot. In the absence of his father, he drew the audience’s sympathy by intimately portraying the figure of a character growing up with his mother. Her mental age is slightly low due to an accident she had as a child. Smile Again was such a popular series that it achieved 40 percent in the viewership ratings.
Empress Ki (2013)
Ji Chang Wook was able to take off his iconic image of Donghae in his previous work thanks to his passionate performance in the historical drama Empress Ki. Empress Ki is a drama about the love and power of a Goryeo woman who becomes the Empress of the Yuan Dynasty and reigns as its ruler. Ji Chang Wook plays Emperor Hye Jong (Ta Hwan) of Yuan, royal blood exiled in a power struggle. His character evolves from a weak-minded man into a solemn monarch. Ji excelled in showing the transformation in the scenes where Ta Hwan loses his mind in his craziness and suddenly becomes unable to speak. His love for Ki Seung Nyang was an essential motive for Ta Hwan’s achievement. In the drama, they eventually show their feelings to each other, but shortly after that Ta Hwan dies.
The K2 (2016)
In Ji Chang Wook’s filmography, action works such as The K2 cannot be left out. The K2, co-starred by him and Yoona, is the story of a bodyguard, a former war mercenary, the wife of a presidential candidate who hired him, and a girl who lives apart from the world. Ji Chang Wook takes on the role of Kim Je Ha, the bodyguard, captivating viewers by going back and forth between action and melodrama. To play the bodyguard role, he mastered the martial arts of each country and played in fight scenes. Plus, he portrayed deeper sentiments through his loving eyes and facial expressions, especially in the blanket kissing scene. At the production presentation, Ji Chang Wook even said that it would be his ‘last action movie,’ but he proved his name by capturing the emotions of a wounded character through his touch actions.
Suspicious Partner (2017)
Suspicious Partner is a romantic comedy in which a successful prosecutor and a loner judicial trainees student fall for each other as they go through a mysterious incident. The unpredictable development that crosses over romance and thriller and the witty lines have earned it continuous popularity. Ji Chang Wook went on a first foray in a romantic comedy to play Noh Ji Wook, a sarcastic and cynical prosecutor, increasing the viewers’ excitement every time. The chemistry with the actress of the other role, Nam Ji Hyun, was also thrilling. In addition, Ji Chang Wook sang the insert song “101 Reasons Why I Like You” himself and showed off his vocal skills. He actually sang in the musicals Thrill Me, Brothers Were Brave, and The Days.
Lovestruck in the City (2021)
Kakao TV’s original Lovestruck in the City is a work depicting the love story of a young man and woman who live fiercely in the asphalt jungle. It premiered at the end of last year and received an explosive response as it gained sympathy with its various love stories that young people these days can relate to. Ji Chang Wook, who played a romantic guy this time, also contributed greatly to the movie’s popularity. He takes on the role of Park Jae Won, an architect who can’t forget the woman he met and fell in love with, in Yangyang city. He realistically portrayed the charm of a person who is passionate about his work and love. The sweet chemistry with the other actor Kim Ji Won was palpable enough. Ji Chang Wook once again proved his excellence as the master of romance.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies.