In the on-call room for cardiothoracic surgery residents on the set of MBC medical drama "New Heart"
in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, Ji Sung
, who plays careless trouble-making resident Lee Eun-seong, is smiling. The new drama got off to a good start with 20 percent ratings after three episodes. Besides Lee Eun-seong, it features all the usual characters of any medial drama, including chief Choi Gang-guk who overwhelms residents with his charisma, woman resident Nam Hye-suk, who is strong but arrogant, and Min Yeong-gyu, who has political ambitions and suffers from an inferiority complex.
Still, for Ji the character is unusual because he usually plays exemplary good men. Watching the actor show an unusual side, viewers have responded by saying that they have never seen him play cheeky, but that is why he looks manly more than ever. Making a successful comeback after a three-year hiatus to finish his military service, Ji said, "After all that absence, I can't believe I'm even appearing on TV. At first, I was worried that I would make viewers turn their eyes away by overacting".
"In real life, I am not playful like Eun-sung. I'm quite a shy person who doesn't make friends easily. And I'm kind of taciturn", he says. "But the new drama made me find a different side of me". He confesses he felt a little burdened playing serious characters before he was drafted. He felt most regret about the character he played in mega hit series "All In"
. "I feel I could have done better in almost every scene", he said. "I failed to show me as I was. I should've been more open".
Then, how does he feel to play a doctor? "I have observed a cardiac operation in a real operation room. I could see the heart beating just under my nose. I felt scary at first, but now I feel sorry for patients to think how painful and hard they are", the 31-year-old actor said. In the latest episode aired on Wednesday, viewers were moved to tears to see him crying for failing to save the life of a former comfort woman for Japanese soldiers during World War II. "When I started to shoot the drama, my maternal grandma suddenly passed away. She had lived with my family since I was young, so I felt very sad and shocked", he said. "When I shot the scene, I couldn't help thinking about my grandma. When I was in the military, she told me that her only pleasure was to watch the rerun of "All In"
. So, I wanted to show my new drama to her first".
About the time he spent in the military, Ji Sung
says it was like he took a long rest. "It makes us lead a regular life and exercise regularly. I learned that life is hard not only for me but also for other people" he says. "The biggest virtue in the military is to enjoy it".