Ji Chang Wook to Play the Yuan Emperor and Completes the Cast of Empress Ki

I’ve got some good news and some bad news, with the bad news dependent on whether you can spot the difference or can’t/don’t want to see it. The good news is that the upcoming 50-episode ambitious MBC sageuk Empress Ki (formerly known as Hwatu) finally has a full main cast. The remaining character of Yuan Emperor Huizhong has finally been cast and its someone who may not yet be a sageuk veteran but at least isn’t foreign to the genre and experience. Ji Chang Wook just signed on to complete the main love triangle which includes Ha Ji Won as Empress Ki and Joo Jin Mo as King Chunghye of Goryeo. First off – Ji Chang Wook was NOT one of the six guys rumored to be in the running. But secondly – apparently this role was impossible to cast because the Yuan Emperor is Mongolian so the look isn’t exactly going to be aesthetically pleasing, plus playing a non-Korean character is always a drawback. What? You didn’t know sageuks are jingoistic? All shows produced by one country is inevitably going to favor said country’s history vis-a-vis foreign powers. The reason why Empress Ki even merits her own sageuk was because she was a Goryeo born woman who married into the Mongolian Yuan dynasty and rose to the top female position and produced the next Emperor. But her husband the Yuan Emperor? He’s either going to be portrayed as a puppet on her string, especially if he’s younger, or else he’s just going to come off as somewhat conflicted and mildly antagonistic. But I still see this as good news for the production since it’s already filming. and with Ha Ji Won onboard I’m rooting for this to be good and entertaining, even if it will have zero historical accuracy. If anyone wants to learn late Goryeo history, please do not learn it from watching this sageuk, and in general do not learn your Korean history from watching any sageuk and go read a history book. So what is the bad news? The bad news is that Ji Chang Wook seems to have disappeared from our television screens for a long time only to re-appear with a brand new face. That picture above? Does not look like what he used to look like. A vague resemblance, but the proportions have all changed, the skin is pulled taut, and in general the baby-faced Ji Chang Wook suddenly looks tense and frozen. I am really sad about it since I liked him and he had a lot of potential. Yet another one falls to the knife.

In Empress Ki, the love triangle forms when the future Yuan Emperor is exiled to Goryeo when his younger brother steals the throne from him. While in exile, he is befriended by noble lady future Empress Ki as well as Emperor Chunghye, and those two grew up together and are first loves. I don’t know how she ended up married to the Yuan Emperor and off to rule the court in Yuan dynasty China, but I’m game to watch a fictional take and not take it too seriously.


Ji Chang Wook to Play the Yuan Emperor and Completes the Cast of Empress Ki — 37 Comments

  1. omg… I was thinking that the name sounded so familiar, then I looked at the picture and was wondering did I remember wrong. I then googled his name and saw the pictures and he was indeed the guy I was thinking. I even checked to make sure he was the guy who played Baek Dong Soo… He seriously looks so different…

  2. I though he looked somewhat familiar and then I googled him, what did he do to himself? He was such a cutie before. He made himself look more mature and not in a good way….

  3. I don’t know him but he’s got beautiful sexy eyes. I actually prefer the mature look to the boyish look. I think in addition to getting some work done, he grew up and matured. Five years is a long time in a young man’s life.

  4. I love JCW but I would rather they pick a chinese actor to play the Yuan Emperor. That way I won’t cringe everytime they speak chinese with Korean accent.

  5. I must be blind or something, because I am not seeing that much difference. Someone has to spell it out for me what he did, because no matter how many pictures I look at him (in his WBDS days) and now I am still not seeing it… do I have to go further back? is it his nose? what is it? I just thought he has lost some babyfat (is that the right way to say it, sorry not a native English speaking person here) or something.

      • me too, i see the other pics but can’t see any different at all. While he disappear from TV, he did a lot musicals, he is busy, he may lose some weight

    • You have a point here, but as someone who knows the industry, I can assure you that this face is a product of a long-time procedure consisting of multiple surgeries and non surgical applications – all of them brilliantly performed in technique, as well as timing. Due to the deepens and severity of the resculpturing process the face looks somewhat frozen, or at least with a reduced capacity of expressiveness. Be it so, the grave problems will occur in long run when heβ€˜ll reach a certain age. Though I admire his strong will and endurance to stay on top of the entertainment industry. Wish him good luck with his new life mask.

  6. I stared at that picture for a good five minutes trying to figure out what was wrong with Ji Chang Wook’s face. I thought it was because I was still sleepy that he looked different, but I guess I’m wide awake. He was so cute, why did he do that? He’ll probably be completely unrecognizable once he gets in the Mongolian costume.

  7. Sorry to disappoint everyone, but My Precious has NOT undergone any plastic surgery. Having met him in person a few months ago, he still remains as fresh-faced and sweet as ever. It’s just that he’s 27 (Korean) years old now, and he’s finally growing into his looks by getting older. And that pictorial didn’t exactly shoot him in the best lighting… I think the photographer was going for some sort of ‘concept’ and it didn’t quite translate to the printed page. If anything, he looks exhausted! πŸ™‚

    Saying all that, I’m more worried about JCW overextending his reach again, with still being on TWO musical stages through September and filming this show at the same time. Not to mention all the controversy over the script so far — scholars are making waves over the revisionist history they’re afraid of being portrayed. Bah humbug.

    I say BRING IT ON. I’m looking forward to the interactions between our three leads! Woo hoo!!!

    • It could be because we haven’t seen him in ent-news for a bit and the change seems all the more pronounced. I agree – he looks horribly exhausted in the pics (his eyebags!) so that probably aged him a lot. Also, methinks that the photo’s angle is a bit weird.

  8. LMAO @cherkell – you met him? *spazz* I agree, I think his face looks completely different when he does his huge, adorable grin than it does when he’s trying to look all serious. I can’t wait for this!
    Thanks for the update on casting, Koala!

    • Yup, three times while I was in Korea. I was the first international fan invited to his birthday party/fan meeting, and then we met up again during the last performances of ‘The Days.’ Epic to say the least. πŸ™‚

      I can see the pairing with Ha Ji-won working quite well, especially when they’ll be playing the younger versions of themselves. Besides, JCW will be under a ton of getting-older makeup as the show progresses so who cares what he looks like now.

      But let’s stop the ‘under the knife’ rumours. Ain’t healthy for me to get my blood pressure off the charts so early in the morning…

      • OMG
        You had a

        I am jealous…but I don’t think I could handle meeting, let’s see…Ethan Ruan, Song Joongki, Lee Minki…OMG Mark Chao I would die.

      • Ha, being a fan of his(and already meeting him a few times), i’m very pleased you cleared things up calmly and collectively. Most other fans are like My oppa?! How dare you! Stop bashing him! Bitch!

  9. I don’t think he looks all that different…

    And the idea of pairing him with Ha Ji Won is ridiculous. The girls on DCInside seriously went crazy at the thought of Joo Jin Mo being a second lead but the truth of the matter is that Chunghye will probably be a much more important character than the Yuan emperor.

    Also, I thought Empress Ki was brought over to Yuan as a servant and then the emperor raped her and took her as a concubine? Jang Young Chul would have to be seriously messed up if he formulated some kind of ‘love’ story between them as opposed to one sided obsession.

  10. He look more skinny with the new face. I miss his cute face before. I wonder will why king of hairstyle he will in this drama. It is intriguing so far that I might watch this drama.

  11. whewww! almost had a heart attack
    I said to myself not Chang Wook..
    but then i really look on the picture
    yess he slim down, no more baby fat
    his face really slim down plus the way
    his hair was parted does not complement
    his slim face..he probably did some serious

  12. It is this photo shoot that makes him look different. Bad lighting and maybe photo editing. Recent pics of him at events or candid…he looks the same.

  13. He looks a bit different, but individual features seems to be the same, maybe just a not-so-flattering photoshoot. And he looks sleazy on the picture.

  14. Yes, he looked more lovely and lively before. I am mongolian. I tell u Joo Jin Mo is more like mongolian look alike than Chan Ji Wook.

  15. Fell in love with Ji Jang Wook in Smile, Dong Hae, then Warrior Baek Dong Soo. Mad at him from being a baddie in FF but still love him. Talented & so good looking. At last, I’d see him again, & with my 2 other favorites HJW & JJM. Best news!

  16. Finally the main role is named, although I thought it would be someone more experienced or more familiar to international fans. However, most importantly he does seems to be able to act. As long as the story well written, HJW always is able to bring out the best in her leading man, hence looking fwd to seeing this love triangle and the chemistry btw them. Just like I was skeptical about king2heart initially but fell in love w the couple chemistry after watching. One o the best couple thus far despite the huge age gap.

  17. ^^ I agree with few here who said they don see much difference..i dont too..he just looks like he has lost some baby fat and hes got a more chiselled look now.if anything he has just gotten more goodlooking..and it might just be me,but i think he looks quite handsome and manly in this pic.and i also agree with the other person who said he resembles Hu ge..for a wild moment i did think it was indeed Hu ge then i realised it was JCW.Anyways thanks for the update Koala.Looking forward to the drama.

  18. Oh my, this happens to air at the same time slot as YEH-LDG-YongHwa’s ‘Future’s Choice’. Will just watch them both after they complete airing in Korea. But I like Yoon Eun Hye more than Ha Ji Won.

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