Prankster finds it hard to be sweet

Playful South Korean actor Ji Chang Wook says that is his way of showing affection

Ji Chang Wook will be starring in a new Korean-Chinese production, My Male God.
Ji Chang Wook will be starring in a new Korean-Chinese production, My Male God.PHOTO: ANGIE NG

If South Korean actor Ji Chang Wook plays a prank on you, it is actually an act of affection.

"To be honest, I find it hard to be sweet to the people around me - be it my family or friends. That's because we are so close. Instead, I like to be playful, pull pranks on them and tell jokes," says Ji, 28, who was in town as the new brand ambassador of Japanese body foam Shokubutsu.

The boyish Ji's playful side was on full display during the media interview at The Westin on Sunday.

He spoke animatedly and bantered with the Singapore host through a Korean translator. When the lights in the room dimmed suddenly, he joked that it was a prank arranged by him.

The personable celebrity played games with lucky fans at a closed door fan meet attended by 160 lucky draw winners at The Westin. He later met 2,500 fans at a public meet-and-greet at Suntec City in the evening.

The self-deprecating star also had no qualms making fun of his less-than-proficient Mandarin.

The actor, one of many Korean stars trying to break into the China market, is taking Chinese lessons.

Candidly admitting that it is a steep learning curve, he says: "I'm not as fluent in Mandarin as compared to Korean. It can be quite frustrating. I carry on a conversation with the linguistic ability of a three-year-old.

"Thankfully, my colleagues in China appreciate the effort that I put in trying to speak in Mandarin. They often find me adorable, so I try to make the most of it."

Riding on his skyrocketing popularity in China, he released a Chinese EP titled Be With You last month. He will be also be starring in a new Korean-Chinese pro- duction, My Male God.

Unfortunately, he met with an unpleasant incident during his recent stay in China.

Without revealing details of which city he was in, he says: "I was pickpocketed near the place that I stayed when I was on the way to the market. I lost my credit card and identification document. It was quite a difficult time for me."

He made a police report, but does not have high hopes of retrieving his wallet.

The happy-go-lucky actor took things in his stride. He says: "I have decided to just forget about my missing wallet."

Before making inroads into China, Ji started out in the theatre scene in South Korea before making the successful transition to television.

The versatile actor hit the jackpot as a laidback emperor and devoted lover in period drama Empress Ki (2013).

He expanded his fanbase after starring in the thriller Healer (2014), where he plays an errand boy for hire.

In Healer, his character went undercover as an entertainment reporter. However, if he could be a reporter in real life, he says he would not want to interview celebrities.

"Movie stars and actors don't really have an interesting job," he says in jest.

Since he already knows show business, he explains that he would rather interview someone from a different industry.

He says: "It could be a reporter, teacher, farmer, student or policeman. I'd like to hear their thoughts, find about their lives and challenges. It would be fascinating to find out about people's lives."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2015, with the headline 'Prankster finds it hard to be sweet'. Subscribe