The Hallyu wave carries with it a boat-load of actors who are charming and baby-faced, but there is Ji Chang Wook, who is not only remarkably talented but is also oozing with sex appeal. Maybe this is why he attracts hordes of fans in Korea and abroad.
Starting out in theatre, Chang Wook made his on-screen debut playing a minor role in a 2006 film. This is why he already holds a lot of projects under his name, both on the small and big screen. But, if you wish to enjoy his performance for a more extended amount of time, here are 8 dramas you can enjoy!
Smile, Dong Hae (2010)
Carl Laker (Ji Chang Wook), who was born as “Dong-Hae,” is a young man from the U.S. who comes to Korea with his mother, Anna Laker (Do Ji Won), to compete in a short track speed skating competition as a representative of the United States.
Anna is a Korean-American adoptee who fell in love with a Korean man while he was in New York for his studies. He promised to come back for Anna but never did and never knew that Anna became pregnant with his child. Anna is actually mentally-challenged due to a childhood accident. But despite that, she was still able to raise her son alone.
When Carl came to Korea to compete, he also wanted to use the trip to see his Korean girlfriend, Sae Hwa (Park Jung Ah), whom he intends to marry. He also wants to use this opportunity to search for his birth father. Unfortunately, Sae Hwa tells Carl that she has no intention of marrying him because of his mother. Dong Hae finds his affections divided when things don’t work out as he planned.
Seo Jung Hoo (Ji Chang Wook) is an illegal night courier who is known to his clients as the “Healer”. He’s the kind to use martial arts when he fights instead of weapons, and he makes bank by running an underground business where he executes his customer’s bidding for the right price—as long as it doesn’t involve murder. However, things went for an unexpected turn when his next case leads him to cross paths with a tabloid writer (Park Min Young) and a famous broadcast journalist (Yoo Ji Tae). They come together to uncover the truth behind a shared past and a decades-old incident that occurred while running an illegal pro-democracy broadcasting station.
Ji Chang Wook as Healer may look so brave and strong while he is fighting against his enemies, yet he still has this soft spot especially for Park Min Young’s character. Fans also enjoyed his persona as the “Healer”, which was all nerdy but also very intense. This is proof that “Wookie” (as most fans would like to call him), is indeed a versatile actor.
This role is one of the iconic ones Chang Wook had in his career because it revealed his capacity to be a real action star. Although the series earned modest success in South Korea, it was a major hit in other countries.
Suspicious Partner (2017)
In this drama, Ji Chang Wook plays a short-tempered district prosecutor turned private attorney, Noh Ji Wook. By some twist of fate, he meets Eun Bong Hee (Nam Ji Hyun), who is an aspiring attorney. The two end up falling in love, but their romance is riddled with trouble. They work together to solve a mysterious case of a psychopathic murderer that placed Bong Hee as the suspect!
Despite the circumstances surrounding their relationship, audiences fell in love with how this love story progressed. It pictures how Bong-hee finally wins Noh Ji-wook who had resentment for love because of a failed relationship in his past. As they run toward the truth, they realize that their lives have been connected far more than they expected.
While this may be a courtroom drama, the romance aspect was definitely one for the books. Many would even go on to say that Nam Ji Hyun was the best onscreen partner for Chang Wook.
The K2 (2016)
In this action-thriller series, Ji Chang Wook plays a former mercenary soldier who was stationed in Iraq. He goes back home to South Korea as a fugitive after he was framed for the murder of his girlfriend, Raniya, who is an Iraqi. He then becomes a bodyguard for the illegitimate daughter (Go Anna) of the presidential candidate after his wife, Choi Yoo Jin (Song Yoon Ah) notices his skills.
In this new role, he goes by the name K2, but he only takes the job with the full intent of gaining access to resources that will help him exact his own justice against the real suspect. But in a surprising twist, the hardened bodyguard starts to find love yet again, and this time, with his boss’ daughter. Fortunately, she also feels the same way, but this only led to several complications.
Viewers consider this to be Chang Wook’s most stylish dramas. It has an amazing plot that executes various social and personal problems. It is most recommendable to those K-drama fans with a penchant for solving logical mysteries creatively woven into their stories, which would leave you wondering as to what might happen next. The K2 will leave you with all the most important lessons in life, which is to love despite one’s painful background story and imperfections.
Empress Ki (2013)
The story centers around Ki Seungnyang (Ha Ji Won), a poor Goryeo woman who ascends to the throne as an empress of the Chinese Yuan dynasty. She was taken to the Mongol Empire against her will and despite the era’s class system working against her, she rose up the ranks after marrying Emperor Ta Hwan (Ji Chang Wook). He is a weak, puppet king who is deeply in love with his new bride and is determined to win her heart from her first love, Wang Yu who happens to be the king of Goryeo.
Chang Wook may have played a weak ruler in this drama, but his acting was anything but. This project not only cemented his reputation as a solid actor, not only in South Korea but internationally as well.
The character of Ta Hwan initially faced difficulties in casting, but it fully came to life after Chang Wook took on the role. It was a turning point in his acting career as he showcased distinct emotional shifts throughout the course of the drama. He showed a convincing performance in scenes where he revealed his lunacy after being eaten by jealousy. To top it off, he also showcased another one of his talents when he contributed to the series’ official soundtrack with the song, “To the Butterfly”.
Warrior Baek Dong-Soo (2011)
This time Ji Chang Wook plays the role of Baek Dong Soo, a carefree swordsman who is also a historical figure in the Joseon period. He was one of the pivotal characters who changed the fate of the nation after becoming a member of the royal guard. This story is inspired by the comic, “Honorable Baek Dong Soo” by Lee Jae Heon. Adding another layer of conflict between the two, they fall for the same woman, Yoo Ji Sun (Shin Hyun Bin).
In this drama, childhood friends Baek Dong Soo and Yeo Woon (Yoo Seung Ho) are both prodigies in combat. But while Baek Dong Soo became the top swordsman in the land, Yeo Woon would go on to serve a group of clandestine assassins whose aim is to overthrow the throne. The series revolves around brotherhood, friendship, loyalty, and honor.
You’d be interested to find Chang Wook’s character growth in this drama. At first, he was this cocky young man with the unerring belief that he was awesome. However, he evolved away from this as he journeyed to his true self. The change came for him when he started to commit to diligent training and worked hard to be the best swordsman around.
For those who are not familiar with Korean history, Baek was one of the three authors of Muyedobotongji, a pivotal martial arts work commissioned by King Jeongjo.
Melting me Softly (2019)
This drama is a romantic comedy that tells the story of Ma Dong Chan (Ji Chang Wook), a variety show producer, and Go Mi Ran (Won Jin Ah), a part-time employee who participated in a project to be frozen for 24 hours. However, due to a mysterious scheme, they end up being frozen for two decades!
Having been under cryogenic sleep for several years, they must contend with several restrictions and strictly follow a set of instructions. They must maintain their heart rate and a body temperature of 31.5°C for them to survive. What made things more complicated is that the scientist behind the experiment lost his memory due to an accident. This left Dong Chan and Mi Ran on a constant race against time and circumstance to resume normalcy and also catch up on lost time.
Melting Me Softly is Ji Chang Wook’s first drama after military training, and he sure did make a good choice with this series. The plotline was unique, the pacing was good, and it was definitely a treat to see Chang Wook in his element!
Can you just imagine his character waking up to his aged loved ones twenty years later thinking he was just frozen for twenty-four hours?
Backstreet Rookie (2020)
This drama is based on the hit webtoon “Convenience Store Saet Byul”, and it tells the story of a clumsy convenience store owner Choi Dae Hyun (Ji Chang Wook), and a strong-willed part-time employee Jung Saet Byul (Kim Yoo Jung).
It all started when Choi Dae Hyun runs into a group of female high school students, including Saet Byul. They all seem to stir trouble when they approached Dae Hyun to do an errand for them, which is to buy cigarettes from a convenience store. He buys the cigarettes but gets the fake ones instead. Saet Byul also gets her cellphone number, but he never gets a call from her.
4 years later, Choi Dae Hyun is now in his thirties and is running a convenience store after quitting his blue-collar job. He is looking for a part-time worker to work the night shift at his convenience store. Jung Saet Byul came to his store to apply for the opening and was accepted for the job. It seems that she has grown from her previous ways and is now a university student with strong morals.
Choi Dae Hyun is probably Ji Chan Wook’s perkiest character so far. We’ve seen him exude his machismo in The Healer and K2 but this role reveals more of his goofy side as he plays a clumsy but warm-hearted gentleman.
This webtoon is infamous for its adult content, which drove fans to be concerned over how the raunchiness would be handled in its execution. But it seems that many were not happy with it. Following the premiere of the first episode, K-drama viewers demanded the series be canceled. Fortunately, all 16 episodes were able to run in their entirety.