Playing a magician fun but challenging: Ji Chang Wook
South Korean superstar Ji Chang Wook, highly accomplished in the world of K-drama; thanks to the hit shows such as 'Empress Ki' and 'Healer', plays the role of a magician in his new musical show 'Sound of Magic'
Popular South Korean star Ji Chang Wook says he had a great time essaying the role of a magician in his new show 'Sound of Magic', but it was also challenging to blend the fantastical elements of the character with the story.
Chang Wook, who is a famous star in the world of K-drama thanks to the hit shows such as 'Empress Ki', 'Healer', 'Suspicious Partner' and 'Lovestruck in the City', is playing the role of a magician for the first time in the show directed by Kim Sungyoun of 'Itaewon Class' fame.
Describing his character of Ri-eul as a mysterious magician who wants to remain a kid forever, Chang Wook, 34, said while most of the tricks in the drama were designed by illusionist Lee Eungyeol, he focused on the emotions of his character.
"Ri-eul is a very frank and fantastical character and I think that was the most fun part. But at the same time, it was very challenging because he might seem off or unreal. I wanted to blend him nicely into the show. That was the part that I discussed the most with the director. I was always smiling or cracking up on the set, so it was a fun experience for me," the actor said in a virtual roundtable interview.
"What is most important is not the magic in itself, but how my character feels about magic. I think it is a medium to portray who he really is. I had many discussions with director Kim about the wardrobe, hairstyle, tone and manner of my dialogues," he added.
Asked whether there was any particular trick that he wanted to master, Chang Wook said, "I would definitely say pulling a rabbit out of a hat. When I get to learn that trick, it is going to make me really happy."
Described as a touching drama about a girl who had to grow up too fast, and a mysterious magician who - although grown-up - wants to remain as a kid, the drama is based on the Naver webtoon 'Annarasumanara' by Ha Il-kwon. The show started streaming on 'Netflix' on May 6.
Choi Sung Eun, best known for her supporting roles in 'Start Up' and 'Beyond Evil', plays the lead character of Yoon Ah-yi, a poor high school student forced to grow up due to her circumstances.
The 25-year-old actor said the drama will comfort everyone who has been forced to abandon their dreams.
"Not everyone is in a difficult situation like I am (in the drama). But I think everyone is quite busy getting by, instead of reaching for their dreams. In that aspect, I think everyone can relate to the story. And it was the same for me, I really got consoled by the words of the magician. For people, who are having difficult days, instead of just saying, 'You can do it', I really want to help them dream again. I want to make sure that they can have fun with me and become that person who they can come to, and who has their back. And I think that could be a good consolation and advice for people who are struggling," the actor said.
Rising South Korean star Hwang In Youp, who dons the school uniform again in the drama after his critically praised roles in '18 Again' and 'True Beauty', said his character of Na Il-deung is completely opposite of who he is in real life.
"He is a boy who does not know how to express his emotions. And he does not really know what he truly wants or what he really desires. When I was a student, I got along with a lot of friends really well.
So, I think I'm quite different from him in that aspect. Because I was not forced a dream upon myself by my parents. I'm quite different from Il-deung," the 31-year-old actor said.
In Youp said he always wanted to become an actor and decided to give it a try in his late 20s.
"I always loved TV shows and dramas. But I was very shy in my adolescent years As I got to the end of my 20s, I thought maybe it is time that I give it a try and I did. I started learning acting and now here I am with director Kim, Chang Wook and Choi Sung Eun," he added.
Chang Wook, who has also sung in the drama, praised director Kim for being tenacious and a perfectionist.
"I think that is exactly why I can really trust him. Because I know that he has the attention to every detail. So, when he says 'Okay, this scene is done', then I can trust him that it really was okay, it really was good. At the same time, he made sure that the ambience on the set was very laid back and fun." he stated.
Director Kim said he ensured that music was used as a medium to provide more depth to the fantasy and emotions in the story despite the challenges like VFX and choreography.
" 'The Sound of Magic' has a lot of magic and the musical elements to it, so it is very entertaining but as the Little Prince once said, 'The most difficult magic is to win the hearts of people' and that is what we want to do through this show," the director said.