Ji Chang Wook- How An Unknown Musical Theater Actor Became An International Representative Of Hallyu Wave

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Ji Chang Wook, a name that is known among many people who watch Korean content whether it is dramas, movies or Kpop.

The beloved Korean actor managed to transition from being a musical actor to finding huge success in films and dramas, he became so successful that he is labeled one of Korea’s hallyu wave representatives alongside many other big names such as Kim Soo Hyun, Lee Min Ho, and Song Joong Ki.





Today, we’re taking a look at the life of Ji Chang Wook and how he was able to make the impossible possible despite his humble beginnings.

While most Kdrama fans know something or two about Ji Chang Wook, many don’t actually know that he got his start as a musical theatre actor. His road to becoming who he is today was bumpy indeed, and it also took him a long time before reaching his current status.

He made his first onscreen debut in the 2006 film “Days,” and got a minor role in the 2008 TV series “You Stole My Heart.” However, he didn’t ‘officially’ debut until 2008 with a role in the film “Sleeping Beauty.”

He hit the jackpot when in 2010, he landed his first leading role in the daily drama “Smile Again,” his dedication for his role and acting abilities landed him on many people’s radar,  “Smile Again” was a commercial hit, it topped ratings and even won Ji Chang Wook his first-ever ‘Best Actor’ award.

This was followed by another hit drama, he played the leading role in the historical drama “Warrior Baek Dong Soo,” it was a smashing success and the drama did so well in ratings.

He took the second leading role in the 2012 melodrama and challenged himself to play his first villain role in “Five Fingers.” The drama did well in the ratings but didn’t have the same impact his previous dramas did.





Since he began his career as a musical actor, he was bound to want to return to it. In 2013, he returned to musical theatre with “The days.”

For now, many international fans hadn’t ever heard of a rising actor called Ji Chang Wook. His breakthrough to mainstream success would come with his outstanding performance as the 16th emperor of the Yuan Dynsty in a drama known as “Empress Ki.”

Considered one of the biggest and best historical dramas in recent years, “Empress Ki” enjoyed massive success and throughout its run enjoyed an average viewership rating of 35%.

Ji Chang Wook had mainly focused on long kdramas for now but he was about to capture every woman heart with his performance in the 20-episode action thriller “Healer” opposite Park Min Young. “Healer” was in no way as successful- ratings-wise- as some of his other dramas, but it gained him many international fans who fell for his charms. He gained fame in China and many other countries in Asia, that dedicated following would continue to grow with each drama he put out.

He even took on two drama projects in China following the massive success with “Healer.” After establishing himself as an action star, he returned again with another action thriller, “The K2,” opposite YoonA.

This drama was more successful and topped viewership ratings, it did exceptionally well for a cable drama in 2016. He returned to movies in 2017, he took on his first leading role in “Fabricated City.” The movie found average success in the box office, but was panned by movie critics who called it ‘a mediocre piece,’ the movie plot was pretty average for an action film.

In that same year, he returned with “Suspicious Partner” on SBS. The drama average rating was 7% which is modest considering Ji Chang Wook’s previous success with other dramas, but it did beat other dramas by topping 20-49 year old demographic. It was popular among international fans and did way better on streaming sites internationally.

This would become Ji Chang Wook’s final project before his military enlistment. He took a hiatus for almost two years from 2017 to 2019 to serve his country.

In mid-2019, he was discharged from the military welcomed by many fans. Ji Chang Wook took on his first-ever romantic comedy project “Melting Me Softly” in which he played a PD who wakes up 20 years later due to an error from a human freezing project.





“Melting Me Softly” was a failure in terms of ratings in South Korea. The cable drama did below average in terms of ratings averaging a simple 2.1%, it fell behind its competition and wasn’t able to generate the same interest other Ji Chang Wook dramas have.

It is considered Ji Chang Wook’s least favored performance among fans.

What does the future hold for Ji Chang Wook?

Ji Chang Wook has already decided on his next projects. 2020 is going to be a busy year for the beloved actor, he is set to starr in an action film where he’ll play a rookie police officer in “Two Policemen,” and will take on the role of the convenient store owner in “Convenience Store Saet-Byeol.”

Are you a fan of Ji Chang Wook? Which one of his works is your favorite?

12 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe raitings is a failure in Korea, but internationally i don’t think so! And whatever they say, INTERNATIONAL FANS will always here to support JCW, SOLIDLY! ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Whatever happens in his shows.we always here for jichangwook, we support him always, for jichangwook please take care and stay healthy always, we love you

  3. I’m big fan of ji Chang wook!!!!
    He’s an amazing actor!!!!
    I really liked all his dramas except the latest one:
    Melting me softly. It wasn’t so good as story and it wasn’t interesting..Im sure in his new drama he’ll be perfect!!

  4. Healer remains one of my all-time favorite K-dramas. Wookie is one of my favorite K-drama men. I also loved his role in Suspicious Partner. Next up is K2. I will watch anything Wookie does with glee.

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