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K-rush of the Week: Ji Sung

Updated: Jun 26

Winner of two Daesang (Grand Prize) awards, Ji Sung has been a master of challenging roles. A prolific actor, he has appeared in a drama almost every year, racking up over 20 series, 6 films, and over 20 awards.

Every day this week, we trace his most notable K-drama roles, including his award-winning and most recent performances.

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Ji Sung

He won his first Daesang when he played not just one but seven distinct characters in a single drama, Kill Me, Heal Me (2015). His performance as Cha Do-hyun, a kind chaebol heir diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, has been truly iconic. His portrayal of a prosecutor framed for the murder of his family in the 2017 hit thriller Innocent Defendant earned him his second Daesang.

He has been married for nine years to fellow top star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lee Bo-young, whom he met on the set of Save the Last Dance for Me (2004).

Save the Last Dance for Me (2004)

Ji Sung first met his wife, Lee Bo-young, on the set of this 2004 melodrama. In Save the Last Dance for Me, he plays Kang Hyun-woo, a chaebol heir engaged to Yoon Soo-jin (Lee Bo-young). He loses his memory in a car accident and meets Ji Eun-soo (Eugene), with whom he falls in love as she nurses him back to health.

Complications ensue when another accident brings back his memories but causes him to forget Eun-soo.

A classic melodrama with all the elements its era is known for, Save the Last Dance for Me was so popular that it inspired remakes in Indonesia, Taiwan, and China.

Secret Love (2013)

Available on AppleTV, Kocowa, Viki (territories and periods vary)

In this KBS melodrama, Ji Sung plays Jo Min-hyuk, an unkind chaebol hungry for revenge after his girlfriend is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Kang Yoo-jung (Hwang Jung-eum) goes to jail for the accident, even though it was the fault of her boyfriend Ahn Do-hoon (Bae Soo-bin). After emerging from prison, fate brings her and Jo Min-hyuk, who is now engaged to Shin Se-yeon (Lee Da-hee), together.

One of the most popular dramas of 2013, Secret Love more than tripled its initial rating of 5.3%, ending with viewership ratings of 18.9%. Its four main cast members earned acting trophies from the KBS Drama Awards that year.

Kill Me, Heal Me (2015)

Available on AppleTV, Kocowa, Netflix, Viki (territories and periods vary)

It’s hard to wrap one’s head around how Ji Sung played not just one but seven distinct characters in a single drama, Kill Me, Heal Me. As a kind chaebol heir with a deeply traumatic childhood, his character Cha Do-hyun was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), a condition that gave him six other identities, including a k-pop idol-loving teenage girl, a suicidal young artist, a violent hothead with a penchant for black eyeliner, and a 7-year-old girl. For his extraordinary ability to tackle each identity convincingly, he earned a Daesang (Grand Prize) at the MBC Awards and several nominations, including the Baeksang.

Although this drama reunited him with his Secret Love leading lady Hwang Jung-eum, it was his hilarious relationship with Park Seo-joon’s character that led to a Best Couple Award.

Innocent Defendant (2017)

Available on Kocowa, Netflix, Viki (territories and periods vary)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Ji Sung, "Innocent Defendant"

One of the highest-rated dramas of 2017, Innocent Defendant had viewers on the edge of their seats weekly throughout its 18-episode run. In this suspenseful crime melodrama, Ji Sung plays Park Jung-woo, a prosecutor who finds himself on death row with a bad case of amnesia to boot. The crime? Murdering his own family. With the help of his lawyer Seo Eun-hye (Girls’ Generation’s Kwon Yu-ri) he must face off against a formidable opponent (Uhm Ki-joon) and race against time to prove his innocence.

Ji Sung won his second career Daesang (Grand Prize) for this drama and Best Actor awards from the Seoul Awards and Grimae Awards.

The Devil Judge (2021)

Available on Netflix, Viki (territories and periods vary)

In a not-too-distant future where chaos and lawlessness have taken over the streets of Seoul, Kang Yo-han (Ji Sung) is a sensational judge who holds live broadcasts of his hearings. But we never really know Judge Kang's true motivations. Is he a hero? Or is he just a vigilante carrying out his vendetta in plain sight? Soon, a rivalry builds between him and the ambitious corporate director Jung Sun-ah (Kim Min-jung, Mr. Sunshine). Judge Kang's life is further complicated by the entrance of rookie Judge Kim Ga-on (GOT7’s Park Jin-young, Yumi's Cells) and police officer Yoon Soo-hyun (Park Gyu-young, Dali and Cocky Prince). Will their idealism be able to take down both the scheming director and the "Devil Judge" himself? Or will Judge Kang get to them first?

This 2021 dystopian legal drama was a hit series for tvN, praised for its performances, social relevance, and high production values. The bromance between Yo-han and Ga-on was also popular among fans.

Adamas (2022)

Available on Disney+ (territories and periods vary)

Ji Sung is stars in dual roles in the tvN drama Adamas. In this thriller, he plays twin brothers: popular mystery novelist Ha Woo-shin and prosecutor Song Soo-hyun. The drama follows their attempt to clear their father's name, who was wrongfully accused of committing murder 22 years ago.

Streaming on Disney+ in select regions, Adamas co-stars Seo Ji-hye (Crash Landing on You), Lee Soo-kyung (Law School), and Heo Sung-tae (Squid Game).

Connection (2024)

Available on Kocowa, Viki (territories and periods vary)

GwenchaNoona | K-rush of the Week: Ji Sung, "Connection"

When a police officer who fights against drugs becomes addicted to the very substance he's trying to eliminate, things get complicated. Ji Sung plays Jang Jae-kyung, a highly skilled narcotics officer who gets kidnapped and forcibly drugged with a new substance. Upon his return, he realizes that he now has to deal with his new addiction while continuing his work as a cop. Along the way, he meets reporter Oh Yoon-jin (played by Jeon Mi-do), who believes that the new drug is much more dangerous than the police are letting on. Together, they try to uncover the truth about the drug trade, but can they hunt the culprits down without risking everything they've worked for?

Which of Ji Sung's roles is your favorite?

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