Popular South Korean historical television drama Jewel in the Palace has Ji Jin-hee playing an intelligent scholar, a role that catapulted him to international stardom.
Off screen, the Korean heartthrob takes an intelligent approach to time management.
“I try to manage my time by the minute. Depending on how I manage and plan my time, I can live one day with 24 hours like [I have] 12 hours or 48 hours,” he says.
Ji got his start in show business by appearing in a music video at the age of 28. Prior to that, he worked as a photography assistant for three years. While some may consider him a late bloomer, Ji says the timing of his entry into the industry couldn’t have been better.
“I was mature and already had work experience dealing with a lot of different people,” he says. “If I was immature and young, I would be very emotional during work. But I wasn’t. I could manage my emotions, and could be more reasonable in all I do.”
Having acted in historical and modern dramas, Ji hasn’t developed a preference for either style. He finds it easier to manage modern dramas as they are more like real life. “However, they have very short episodes, and we do the shooting until the very last minute. So I do not have enough time to prepare for the character,” he admits.
“Most of the historical dramas have long episodes so that I can prepare adequately for the character. And [they depict] the old times that I could never experience, so it really depends on my imagination and creativity. It is fun. And I can learn a lot.”
Playing historical characters has also provided Ji with insights on how to lead his life. “I [have the opportunity to] play some excellent leaders whom I could only imagine in books and through history. And I am very impressed by how strong and great they are,” he explains. “The leaders I’ve played were the ones who could help the poor and the weak, and fight against the strong who misuse their power. I sometimes think if they were alive nowadays ...”
Ji is working on another historical Korean drama right now and is learning how to bow for his role as king. He is also planning a small pottery exhibition to be held at the end of the year to support charity.
Married with two sons, Ji spends most of his spare time with his family, who usually accompany him to international promotions and events. He thinks that all this exposure will help his sons in their development.
“I do not push them to study hard. I think the important thing in their future is their talent,” he says. “I always say try your best and do not regret.”