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Ji Chang-Wook Talks About His K-Dramas, Plus Other Fan Meet Highlights

Here's everything new we found out about this Korean heartthrob and his projects during his recent "Reach You in Manila" fan meet

There is no doubt that one of the November 2022 highlights of many K-drama fans is the "Reach You in Manila" fan meet of Ji Chang-wook for Bench. And why wouldn't it be? It's one of the best fan meets headlined by a Korean actor in Manila, in my opinion. And he's very nice and humble, too, as I witnessed in my one-on-one interview.

His fans gathered early at SM MOA Arena on November 6, and they were ready with their Bench x Ji Chang-wook shirts on, accessorizing their outfits with concert headbands, carrying Wookie posters and banners. As I was in line waiting to claim my concert ticket and looking around my fellow fans, I was in awe of Ji Chang-wook's reach一he has captured the hearts of the young and the young at heart. I had to wear one of those glowing headbands with his name, too! 

Upon claiming the tickets, we were handed our freebie Bench shirts and a piece of paper on which we could write a wish. A dropbox was placed by the entrance for these handwritten wishes. 

As I made my way into the venue, it felt amazing to be surrounded by so many of his fans. We learned later on that there were 7,000 of us gathered there. Wow! The fan meet started at around 5:30pm, beginning with a slideshow of Ji Chang-wook's photos from his K-dramas.

An intro video was played with these texts flashed onscreen: "Magic doesn't make miracles, it makes them discover miracles. Today, our miracle begins. Do you believe in magic?" Anyone who has seen The Sound of Magic could easily relate. My seat mate was thrilled, especially because she came prepared wearing a magician costume.

As soon as the texts faded, Ji Chang-wook emerged from the side of the stage, serenading everyone with the song "Do You Believe in Magic?" from The Sound of Magic OST. Sam Oh introduced him and gave him the floor for an opening message. "You guys are so pretty. You guys are awesome," he told the audience. 

The program started shortly after with a segment that went over some of his remarkable shows throughout his 14-year-long entertainment career. With a Netflix-like interface, the segment also showed photos of Ji Chang-wook that are related to his shows and some that he took himself. 

Here's what Ji Chang-wook had to say about each of these shows:  

If You Wish Upon Me (2022)

"This drama, If You Wish Upon Me, is a drama that I filmed recently and has ended recently as well. Actually, I got comforted a lot through this drama and I actually enjoyed [it]. I had fun filming this series." 

In the series, he played the role of Yoon Gyeo-rye, an ex-convict who ends up volunteering in a hospice hospital. When asked what the saddest scene in the series was for him, he said it was when his dog, Sonny, passed away. (This scene made me cry too!)

The Sound of Magic (2022)

"It has very warm stories and good music. I actually had a difficult time filming it but it was also new to me, so it was very nice." 

This K-drama cast Ji Chang-wook in the role of a mysterious magician, Lee Eul, who lives in an abandoned amusement park. If he can be a real magician then, what is the only thing he would like to do? "If I would be a magician, I would do teleport…," he said. "Maybe I can teleport to Manila or Cebu."   

Lovestruck in the City (2020)

"Actually, this is one of my favorite dramas that I filmed. I reflected on myself a lot while doing this show, and I had so much fun while filming this drama."

As Park Jae-won in this romance series, Ji Chang-wook took on the role of an architect going through a complicated relationship with a woman who disappeared after making him fall for her. 

Backstreet Rookie (2020)

"It's a little bit different from what I usually film. I tried a bit of comic so you can watch it in a more comfortable way." 

With the series casting Ji Chang-wook as Choi Dae-hyun, a convenience store manager, he was asked for his recommended must-buy item at a Korean convenience store. To which, he said, "Actually, these days, I work out a lot, so I purchase a lot of protein shakes. I think I bought jellies a lot. The drama I'm filming will be aired next year, 2023, and I think you'll be able to see the results."

Melting Me Softly (2019)

As Ma Dong-chan, Ji Chang-wook took on the role of a variety show producer in this series. His character participates in a cryogenic project and is frozen in a capsule, only to wake up 20 years later. "This is the drama that I filmed after finishing my military service," he said, making it special for him.

Fabricated City (2017)

"It was really hard to film this movie but I felt really proud after finishing."

His character here, Kwon Yoo, is a former national taekwondo champion who is into playing video games. So what games does he enjoy playing the most these days? He said, "Actually, there is a game I started after coming here in the Philippines. Actually, it's a gun shooting game and until last night in my hotel, I played that game till late night." 

Suspicious Partner (2017)

In the series, Ji Chang-wook played the character of Noh Ji-wook, a prosecutor-turned-private attorney. That's the beauty of being an actor, one can take on different personas. 

But what if he didn't become an actor, what would've been his career? What was his childhood dream? "Actually, when I was in high school, I wanted to major in architecture or something that's related to the industry," Ji Chang-wook said. 

The K2 (2016)

This is a K-drama that cemented Ji Chang-wook's status as an action star, with a role as a bodyguard working for a security agency under the codename K2. When his topless photo from the series was shown onscreen, his fans erupted into squeals and screams, and the rapturous reaction got him giggling, saying, "When I actually came in the entrance, your shouting was not this loud, but after seeing my exposed picture, you guys are shouting."   

"There are a lot of action scenes," he said of the series. "There's a lot of love happening in the drama." Though his topless scenes here are among the most memorable, there's no denying, too, that he carries clothes very well. So, what is his favorite fashion style? He shared, "I think I like to wear comfortable [clothes]. Casual wear, street casual. That's what I wear usually." 

Healer (2014)

"Due to this drama, I was recognized by many foreign fans who loved the drama so much. I had a lot of fun and there are also a lot action and love contained in this series." 

Ji Chang-wook made his standout flair for the action genre known through Healer, which cast him in the role of an illegal "night courier" hired to carry on tasks. The show, despite its intense fight scenes, has provided comfort to many of his fans. But for Ji Chang-wook, what does he do to get that healing feeling? "At this moment, the healing for me are my fans," he said. "And usually, I just like to exercise, meet my friends to hang out and just have some coffee and just drink together. Those kinds of small things that I have are good feelings for me." 

The Days (2014)

Ji Chang-wook is not only a K-drama star, he's also a thespian, who has done several musicals, among those is The Days. "This is a musical that I actually performed for a very long time. It's already been 10 years since I performed this musical," he recounted. 

He doesn't remember how many times exactly he performed The Days: "I performed this musical for three years and I don't think I remember how many times was that." But here's a trivia about this theater "monster:" he performed this twice a day, 97 times in a row for six months! Wow, talk about dedication!

Empress Ki (2013)

"This is a history drama and I acted as a king," Ji Chang-wook recalled. "It's been a long time." 

As Toghon Temür / Ta Hwan, his role is the last Emperor of the Yuan dynasty whose love for a woman drove him crazy and drunk in love. So, how much can Ji Chang-wook drink and does he have any drinking habits? "Actually, I'm not a good drinker," he admitted. "So, I don't know if you guys know but soju, if I drink one bottle or one bottle and a half, I get drunk already. I get really hyped up when I'm drunk and all of a sudden, I get sleepy."

The Worst Evil (2023)

"This is a drama I'm working on right now. I guess I'll be filming from the first onto the second quarter of next year and it will be aired around the third or fourth quarter of next year. The genre of the drama is noir," Ji Chang-wook offers. "It's a detective story where he gets through a drug dealer community and he acts as a drug dealer so that he can catch them. So I hope you guys expect a lot from the series." 

These hints tell us we'll see the comeback of Ji Chang-wook the action star, perhaps with appearances of his abs and his broad back too! Fans can't help but be curious about his exercise routines, of course. He revealed, while sampling push-ups onstage, "I exercise quite a lot of times in the gym but it's not just about the external things. I'm doing it for my stamina and my health." 

After this segment, a treat for fans came through a fun game called "Ji Chang-wook With a Thousand Faces." There was a virtual roulette which showed the titles of his shows. Whenever he'd say "stop," the show the arrow was pointing to would be reenacted onstage. And this was where the dropbox of wishes now came into play, as Ji Chang-wook picked lucky fans who'd do those scenes with him. 

Two lucky fans got to reenact scenes from Backstreet Rookie and The K2 with Wookie onstage, and he was generous with hugs for them, too! 

What followed were a song number and a magic show. He changed into a magician costume and picked one lucky fan to join him onstage as his assistant. Later, he gave her a necklace he "magically" produced and even put it on her himself. 

As he stepped aside to prepare for the next part of the show, a video was played, showing Ji Chang-wook going around Greenbelt, shopping at the Bench store in BGC, and sampling the menu of Bench Café. He loved the Ube Brownie Flan and the halo-halo, saying it's "matamis" and "sobrang masarap." 

He also displayed his awesome swimming skills as he took a dip on the hotel pool, wearing red trunks! 

He performed another song number thereafter and talked about his experience going around the city. Next up was the "If You Wish Upon Me - The Sound of Magic" segment where he picked names from a fishbowl again and granted the wishes the fans wrote on the paper. Of course, the most requested was a photo opportunity with him which he gladly granted. 

As the "Reach You in Manila" fan meet was drawing to a close, Ji Chang-wook told the audience, "I really didn't expect that a lot of you guys will love me like this much. I'm really touched, and I'm having so much fun." He prepared another song number for his fans, performing a song from the musical The Days titled "Even Though I Loved You." 

After this song number, he thanked his fans, saying, "The fact that you guys are loving me became a really huge power for me. Thank you, thank you so much."

But the show didn't end there, as Ji Chang-wook had an encore and performed another song. He ended his fan meet by reading a letter to his fans: "Thank you for always staying with me. I'm always sad that I can't express all my feelings. I'm happy to meet you with a smile… I hope we'll be happy on many days. I love you. Till we meet each other again."

Till next time, Ji Chang-wook! Saranghae!

Lead photos from @benchtm