Ji Sung (born Kwak Tae-geun on 27 February 1977) is a South Korean actor. He is best known for his roles in the television dramas All In (2003), Save the Last Dance for Me (2004), New Heart (2007), Protect the Boss (2011), Secret Love (2013), Kill Me, Heal Me (2015), Innocent Defendant (2017), Familiar Wife (2018), Doctor John (2019), The Devil Judge (2021) and the film My PS Partner (2012).

Ji Sung
180212 지성.png
Ji Sung in 2018
Born
Kwak Tae-geun

(1977-02-27) 27 February 1977 (age 45)
Seoul, South Korea
EducationHanyang University - Theater and Film
Years active1999–present
AgentSurpass Entertainment
Spouse(s)
(m. 2013)
Children2
Korean name
Hangul
Hanja
Revised RomanizationJi Seong
McCune–ReischauerChi Sǒng
Birth name
Hangul
Hanja
Revised RomanizationGwak Tae-geun
McCune–ReischauerKwak T’aegŭn

Early lifeEdit

Kwak Tae-geun's parents were both educators, and they expected him to also enter the teaching profession. But in his sophomore year in high school, his father bought him a VCR and the first movie he rented was Rain Man. Dustin Hoffman's acting left such an impression on him that he decided to become an actor, despite his father's objections.[1][2] He later studied Theater and Film at Hanyang University.

CareerEdit

1999–2002: BeginningsEdit

Ji Sung first auditioned for the 1999 campus drama KAIST, where he met screenwriter Song Ji-na. Song took an interest in the young upstart and wrote a new character for him, leading to his acting debut.[1] Upon the suggestion of his then-manager, he began using the stage name Chae Ji-sung, then decided to drop the surname "Chae," and became known simply as "Ji Sung"[1] After several minor roles, he began playing bigger parts, notably in the television dramas Wonderful Days (2001) and Sunshine Hunting 2002),[3][4] as well as the North-South romantic comedy film Whistling Princess (2002).[5]

2003–2004: BreakthroughEdit

Ji was then cast in the 2003 gambling drama All In.[6] Producers were having difficulty casting the second male lead because most actors were afraid to be compared to lead actor Lee Byung-hun. Ji Sung approached director Yoo Chul-yong, saying he wanted the role.[1] All In was a big hit, and Ji Sung's popularity rose and became known as a Hallyu star.[7] Wanting to challenge himself, he next appeared in his first period drama The King's Woman, playing Gwanghaegun of Joseon.[8]

In Save the Last Dance for Me (2004), he played a rich amnesiac businessman who falls in love with a girl running a bed and breakfast who nurses him back to health (played by Eugene).[9] He then made a guest appearance playing Bae Jong-ok's college boyfriend in "Outing", a two-episode arc written by Lee Kyung-hee for the omnibus drama Beating Heart (2005),[10] followed by a supporting role in Kim Dae-seung's period thriller Blood Rain (2005).[11][12]

2005–2007: EnlistmentEdit

Ji Sung enlisted on 7 June 2005, for his mandatory military service. Though he initially enlisted as an ordinary soldier,[13] the Military Manpower Administration transferred him to the military promotion ("entertainers") unit in February 2006, for which he served as "public ambassador of military affairs".[14] He was discharged on 6 June 2007.[15]

2008–2014: Comeback and lead rolesEdit

He made his comeback in the medical drama New Heart (2007–08), playing a cardiothoracic surgery resident.[16] During a scene where his character cries after failing to save the life of a former comfort woman, Ji Sung said he thought of his maternal grandmother who'd recently died, remembering that she'd told him her only pleasure was watching him in reruns of All In. Contrary to his cheeky, playful character, Ji Sung said that he's taciturn and shy in real life, but that the drama made him find a different side of himself.[17]

He then made an extended cameo as the sophisticated right-hand man of the mob boss in action noir Fate (2008).[18]

In 2009, Ji Sung collaborated again with writer Choi Wan-kyu and director Yoo Chul-yong of All In in the revenge drama Swallow the Sun, adapted from the novel by Kang Chul-hwa, and shot on location in Jeju Island, Las Vegas and South Africa. Ji Sung trained hard to play the tough, strong-willed protagonist who goes to prison for his boss and later becomes involved in the city development of Jeju.[19][20]

In February 2010, he signed with a new management agency, Namoo Actors.[21] Several months later, he played another historical character in Kim Su-ro, The Iron King, as the titular founder of Geumgwan Gaya.[22][23][24]

In 2011, Ji Sung starred alongside Yum Jung-ah in Royal Family, about the power plays within a chaebol family.[25] Later that year, he was cast in the workplace romantic comedy Protect the Boss.[26] In a departure from his usual serious roles, Ji Sung played a dorky man-child with a panic disorder, who matures and learns to run his father's business after meeting a feisty secretary (played by Choi Kang-hee).[27][28][29]

From 2012 to 2013, Ji Sung played a gifted seer/geomancer in The Great Seer. His fictional character becomes a "kingmaker" to Yi Seong-gye (played by Ji Jin-hee), the general who leads the overthrow of Goryeo and establishes the Joseon Dynasty, becoming its first king Taejo.[30]

In late 2012, he starred in adult romantic comedy My PS Partner, playing an aspiring singer-songwriter trying to get over a breakup, who becomes the wrong recipient of a phone sex call from a woman (played by Kim Ah-joong) trying to seduce her boyfriend into proposing.[31] Ji Sung said he found the script intriguing, despite the discomfort of appearing in bed scenes. And after he saw Love & Other Drugs, he wanted to be in a movie that portrayed a romantic relationship in a realistic manner.[32]

In 2013, Ji Sung starred in melodrama Secret Love. He said he chose the drama because he found the script "fresh, honest, and sophisticated."[33] He played a chaebol "bad boy" whose girlfriend is killed, then falls for the woman who went to prison for the crime.[34] Ji Sung next appeared in Confession, a 2014 neo-noir film that brutally explores the aftermath of three men's friendship after the death of one's mother.[2][35]

2015–present: Career resurgenceEdit

In 2015, he reunited with Secret Love co-star Hwang Jung-eum in Kill Me, Heal Me, in which he played a chaebol millionaire with dissociative identity disorder formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder from DSMIV-TR who has seven different identities.[36][37][38][39] The series was a hit and developed a cult following, winning Ji Sung the "Daesang (Grand Prize)" at the MBC Drama Awards.[40]

However, Ji's next work Entertainer, where he played a cunning and self-centered manager of an entertainment company, failed to be successful.[41] Ji bounced back in 2017 with legal thriller Innocent Defendant, which was a hit and topped viewership ratings.[42] Ji earned acclaim for playing the diverse emotions of the character, an amnesic prosecutor who finds himself on a death row.[43] He received the Grand Prize award at the SBS Drama Awards.[44]

In 2018, Ji starred in the fantasy romance comedy drama Familiar Wife.[45] The same year he starred in the period comedy film Feng Shui.[46]

In 2019, Ji starred television series Doctor John.[47] It is his first medical drama in 11 years.[48]

In 2020, Ji appeared in tvN's travel show RUN alongside Kang Ki-young, Lee Tae-sun and Hwang Hee.[49]

In 2021, Ji Sung starred in the mystery legal drama The Devil Judge with his previous co-star Kim Min-jung who he worked together 13 years ago in the drama New Heart. In August 2021, Namoo Actors' contract expired and Ji Sung decided not to renew it.[50][51]

In January 2022, Ji-sung signed an exclusive contract with Surpass Entertainment.[52]

Personal lifeEdit

He met actress Lee Bo-young on the set of 2004 TV series Save Last Dance for Me, and they confirmed their relationship in 2007.[53][54][55][56] On 2 August 2013, the couple announced their engagement by uploading handwritten letters on their respective official fan sites.[57][58][59][60][61] They married at Aston House, W Seoul Walkerhill Hotel on 27 September 2013.[62][63][64] Their first child, a daughter named Kwak Ji-yoo, was born on 13 June 2015.[65] Their second child, a son named Kwak Woo-sung, was born on 5 February 2019.[66]

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2002 Whistling Princess Joon-ho
2004 Phantom Master: Dark Hero from the Ruined Empire Ending narration Animation [67]
2005 Blood Rain Du-ho
2008 Fate Park Yeong-hwan
2012 My PS Partner Lee Hyun-seung
2014 Confession Im Hyun-tae
2015 The Vampire Lives Next Door Short film [68]
2018 Feng Shui Heungseon Daewongun

Television seriesEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1999 KAIST Kang Dae-wook
March Guest
2000 Popcorn
I Want to Keep Seeing You Lee Ji-soo
2001 Delicious Proposal Oh Joon-soo [69]
Open Drama Man & Woman Lee Soo-hyun episode: "A Couple of Hours
Before Breaking Up with Her"
[70]
The Rules of Marriage Hwang Won-soo
Wonderful Days Jang Seok-jin
2002 Let's Go Guest, episode: "Monkey"
Sunshine Hunting Lee Seung-joon
2003 All In Choi Jung-won
The King's Woman Prince Gwanghae
2004 Terms of Endearment Noh Yoon-taek
Save the Last Dance for Me Kang Hyun-woo
2005 Beating Heart Kim Woo-jin / Kim Seok-jin Guest, episodes 9-10: "Outing"
2007 New Heart Lee Eun-sung
2009 Swallow the Sun Kim Jung-woo
2010 Kim Su-ro, The Iron King Kim Su-ro
2011 Royal Family Han Ji-hoon
Protect the Boss Cha Ji-heon
2012 The Great Seer Mok Ji-sang
2013 Secret Love Jo Min-hyuk
2015 Kill Me, Heal Me Cha Do-hyun / Shin Se-gi / Perry Park
/ Ahn Yo-na / Ahn Yo-seob / Nana / Mr. X
2016 Entertainer Shin Suk-ho
2017 Innocent Defendant Park Jung-woo
2018 Familiar Wife Cha Joo-hyuk
2019 Doctor John Cha Yo-han / John Cha
2021 The Devil Judge Kang Yo-han
2022 Adamas Ha Woo-shin / Song Soo-hyun [71]

Television showEdit

Year Title Role Ref.
2020 RUN Regular member [49]

HostingEdit

Year Title Notes Ref.
2002 Live Music Camp Host [72]
2004 Music Bank [73]
2008 STAR N the CITY: Ji Sung in Dubai [74]

Music video appearancesEdit

Year Song title Artist Ref.
2000 "Leave Me Alone" Lee Kang-shin
2002 "Cold" Lee Ki-chan
2004 "Black and White Photos" KCM [75]
2008 "The Practical Usage of Sadness" Kim Bum-soo [76]
2009 "Trickling" Wheesung [77]
2019 "We" Baek Ji-Young [78]

DiscographyEdit

SinglesEdit

Title Year Album Ref.
"Confession" (고백) 2004 Terms of Endearment OST
"Sexy Jingle Bells" (섹시 징글벨) 2012 My PS Partner OST [79]
"Show Me Your Panty" [80]
"Wuthering Heights" (폭풍의 언덕) 2013 Secret Love OST [81]
"Violet" (제비꽃) 2015 Kill Me, Heal Me OST [82]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Name of the award ceremony, year presented, category, nominee of the award, and the result of the nomination
Award ceremony Year Category Nominee / Work Result Ref.
APAN Star Awards 2014 Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Secret Love Nominated
2015 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Kill Me, Heal Me Nominated
Asia Model Festival Awards 2010 BBF Popular Star Award Ji Sung Won [83]
Asian TV Drama Conference 2015 Special Award, Actor Kill Me, Heal Me Won [84]
Baeksang Arts Awards 2015 Best Actor – Television Nominated
DramaFever Awards 2016 Best Actor Won [85]
Grimae Awards 2017 Best Actor Innocent Defendant Won [86]
Han Il Culture Awards 2008 민간외교부분 수상 Ji Sung Won [87]
KBS Drama Awards 2013 Top Excellence Award, Actor Secret Love Won [88]
Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Nominated
Netizen Award, Actor Nominated
Popularity Award, Actor Won
Best Couple Award with Hwang Jung-eum Won
Korea Best Dresser Swan Awards 2010 Best Dressed, Movie Actor category Ji Sung Won [89]
Korea Drama Awards 2015 Grand Prize (Daesang) Kill Me, Heal Me Nominated
Korea PD Awards 2016 Best Performer, TV Actor category Won [90]
MBC Drama Awards 2001 Best New Actor The Rules of Marriage Won [91]
2008 Excellence Award, Actor New Heart Nominated
Golden Acting Award, Actor in a Miniseries Won [92]
Popularity Award, Actor Nominated
Best Couple Award with Kim Min-jung Nominated
2011 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Royal Family Nominated
Popularity Award, Actor Nominated
Best Couple Award with Yum Jung-ah Nominated
2015 Grand Prize (Daesang) (Determined through viewer's votes) Kill Me, Heal Me Won [40][93]
Top Excellence Actor, Actor in a Miniseries Won
Netizen Popularity Award Nominated
Best Couple Award with Hwang Jung-eum Nominated
Best Couple Award with Park Seo-joon Won
Top 10 Stars Won
SBS Drama Awards 2001 New Star Award Wonderful Days Won [94]
2003 Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special All In Won [95]
2004 Top Excellence Award, Actor Save the Last Dance for Me Nominated
Top 10 Stars Won [96]
2009 Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Swallow the Sun Nominated
Best Couple Award with Sung Yu-ri Nominated
2011 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special Protect the Boss Won [97]
Top 10 Stars Won
Best Couple Award with Choi Kang-hee Won
2012 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Drama Special The Great Seer Nominated
2016 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Romantic Comedy Drama Entertainer Nominated
2017 Grand Prize (Daesang) Innocent Defendant Won [44]
Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Monday–Tuesday Drama Nominated
2019 Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries Doctor John Nominated [98]
Producer's Award Nominated
Best Couple Award with Lee Se-young Nominated
Seoul International Drama Awards 2015 Best Actor Kill Me, Heal Me Nominated
Style Icon Awards 2011 Style Icon Actor / Bonsang Ji Sung Won [99]
The Seoul Awards 2017 Best Actor (Drama) Innocent Defendant Won [100]

State honorsEdit

Name of country, year given, and name of honor
Country Or Organization Year Honor Or Award Ref.
South Korea[note 1] 2017 Prime Minister Recommendation [104]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Honors are given at the Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards, arranged by the Korea Creative Content Agency and hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.[101][102] They are awarded to those who have contributed to the arts and South Korea's pop culture.[103]

ReferencesEdit

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