He is probably not as well-known as other Hallyu stars, but you’ll definitely recognise his face! He has acted in so many K-dramas, films and theater plays, and he is none other than Kim Dong-wook!
Kim became a star through the popular drama Coffee Prince. Kim Dong-wook’s acclaimed performance as an obsessed and tormented king in the 2012 period drama The Concubine catapulted him to fame. Since then, he has also starred in the massively popular fantasy blockbuster Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds and its sequel, Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days, winning him several Best Supporting Actor accolades.
His recent ongoing drama is called Special Labour Inspector, Mr Jo. The story tells about Jo Jin-gap (Kim Dong-wook) was once a promising judo athlete. He protested corruption at a game and was forced to retire from the sport. After that, he became a gym teacher, but lost his temper against the son of the school’s chairman and was once again retired from his job. Now, after passing the exam to become a public officer, Jo Jin-gap faces many people wielding their powers unjustly, causing him to revert to his old self.
Thanks to Oh!K we secured a short Q&A with the man himself, Kim Dong-wook.
Q : Thank you for taking the time to attend this press conference for your upcoming drama, Special Labour Inspector, Mr Jo. Can you describe your role in it?
Kim Dong-wook: I play the role of the titular character, Inspector Jo. My character, Jo Jin-gap, used to be a judo master but was forced to retire due to him losing his temper. After his retirement, he chose to teach at a high school but that also eventually failed following a series of unfortunate events. Thereafter, he takes on the role of a public officer, working as a special inspector dealing with breaches in labour laws. I tried my best to maintain a comedic figure and portray this heavy topic of injustice in the labour market with some light humour.
Q : We read that you gained a lot of weight to star in this series. Could you explain why and how?
Kim Dong-wook: Before we started filming, I went to the director and asked if I should gain weight since Inspector Jo used to be a professional judo athlete before he became a desk-bound service officer. He thought it was an awesome idea, and so I gained 10kg to portray a more realistic character for the role. I never skipped a late-night meal throughout the filming process to maintain the weight gain.
Q : We’re noticing a pattern in the characters you play from previous dramas, as well as this one. It is that you get incredibly attached to the other male characters in the show and portray what we usually call “bromance”. Could you explain why this keeps happening? Did the director put you up to it?
Kim Dong-wook: (laughs nervously) That seems to be a pattern doesn’t it? I don’t know why I keep playing such roles, but it was not an order from the director. This just keeps recurring with me and my roles. I should go home and think about this further. Maybe there’s something deeper (audience laughs). Thank you for accepting my roles and supporting my bromances.
Q : Your previous roles were characters of power and charisma. Although this role of a special inspector does hold some power, it appears that this role is more of a comedic one. Why did you choose to transition to playing this character from your previous roles?
Kim Dong-wook: Again, I would like to mention my weight gain. I gained 10kg to portray Inspector Jo, and the weight made me more comical. Jokes aside, as everyone in Korea knows, this power struggle in the corporate world is a pressing and dire issue, so as soon as I read the title, I was hooked, and I could not pass up the chance to star in this drama regardless of who I had to portray.
That’s the end of the Q&A seesion. Special Labour Inspector, Mr Jo airs on Oh!K (Astro Ch 394), within 24 hours of the Korean telecast, every Tuesday & Wednesday at 7.50pm. Don’t miss it!