On the popular travel-reality show Youth Over Flowers: Iceland, South Korean actor Jo Jung-suk was the more reserved of the fun travel bunch. He exuded quiet confidence and came across much like a very sensible traveller instead of a cast member on a light-hearted variety show.
That composed demeanour is apparent in an exclusive e-mail interview with the actor. Jo punctuates his response with one-liner answers in the earlier questions before finally warming up in the later ones.
The Seoul native is currently starring in Jealousy Incarnate, a drama series that centres on the cut-throat competition in a broadcast network. Jo plays a star news anchor in the 24-episode offering which also stars A-list hallyu actress Gong Hyo-jin.
When asked what was it about the news broadcasting business that surprises him the most, he matter-of-factly replies: “Since I’m in the TV industry as well, I think it wasn’t really that surprising.”
Although, that hasn’t always been the case. Jo’s breakthrough was in the stage play when he starred in the 2004 staging of The Nutcracker.
He continued to impress audiences with vocal chops and funny dance moves in musicals such as Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Grease and You’re A Good Man, Charlie.
Jo’s screen popularity only started in 2012 in Lee Yoon-joo’s moody romance film Architecture 101. He’s been appearing in a number of movies and drama series since then. But don’t bank on him dismissing his theatre background.
“All the time spent on the stage is so valuable because it’s what that makes me the actor I am today,” the 35-year-old actor reveals. “Even now, acting on the stage is such a precious experience for me and will continue to be in the future as well.”
While his contemporaries found success early on in their careers, Jo chose to hone his acting skills through theatres and musicals instead. But the thespian doesn’t regret the decision.
“I think it’s more suitable for me to say that I did my best in every moment because exerting effort never betrays you,” he offers.
If anything, the Seoul Institute of Arts graduate’s on-screen presence has been moderate at best. That could probably be attributed to the actor’s selective nature when it comes to projects. It’s something that the actor is quick to concede.
“First of all, the storyline has to be something unique and interesting. Rather than the character, I’m drawn to the plot first,” Jo reveals.
Last year’s drama Oh My Ghostess for instance, revolves around a female ghost who intends to lose her virginity before embarking into the afterlife. Its quirky plot and witty dialogue aside, that particular series managed to show off Jo’s leading man capabilities.
The actor charmed female viewers with his brooding persona. But then again, Jo’s romantic side is a well-known trait to girlfriend singer Gummy.
The popular vocalist – who contributed to the soundtrack of K-dramas such as Descendants Of The Sun and That Winter The Wind Blows – once revealed in an interview that Jo has the ability to make her feel infinitely loved and pampered. On the professional side, his female co-stars have also spoken fondly of Jo’s charms and work ethics.
Ultimately, it’s his professional conduct that has made Jo the prolific actor he is today. Responsibility, according to the man, is something that one learns to pick up from show business.
“If you’re an actor, you get to live another person’s life. Well, of course it’s an imaginary person. But I think it’s very important for an actor to show this imaginary person as if he’s a real figure to the audience.
“That’s where the responsibility comes from. I believe responsibility really changes and develops lots of things in my life,” he concludes.
Jealousy Incarnate airs every Thursday and Friday at 8.10pm on One HD (Astro Ch 393).