[Actor Spotlight] Jin Ki-joo
This week it is Jin Ki-joo’s turn in the spotlight. She’s a newcomer to dramaland, and her starring role in SBS’s rom-com The Secret Life of My Secretary is only her second leading role in a drama.
Jin Ki-joo was born in 1989 in Seoul, South Korea, and made her debut in 2015 with a supporting role in Twenty Again. The quick rise of Jin Ki-joo’s career is a testament to her skill as an actress — and also her dogged determination. Before becoming an actress, she not only had a successful career at Samsung, but as an SBS reporter. However, she wound up leaving both careers to pursue her dream of acting.
Jin Ki-joo’s first leading role was in 2018’s Come Here and Hug Me, where she starred with another new drama headliner, Jang Ki-yong. The drama was made all the better because of the fresh cast, and after her performance in the drama, it’s easy to see why she has won her way to her leading lady status.
Here are some dramaland highlights from Jin Ki-joo, followed by her full filmography.
Wednesday 3:30 PM (2017)
Low-budget and fluffy, like the best of web dramas, Wednesday 3:30 PM starred Jin Ki-joo as a woman who was cruelly dumped by her boyfriend, all at 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon. Did you know there’s a theory that this is when women across the world are at their most exhausted, worn out, and that it acts as sort of a bewitching hour where they show their true age? Me neither. Well, that was the premise of the drama, and VIXX’s Hongbin (in the male lead role) was on a mission to make her look her best when other women were looking their worst. While I kind of disagree over the premise of taking advantage of people’s weak spots (or times of day, according to the logic of this story), the two leads are pretty adorable as childhood friends who reconnected, cohabitated, pretended to date for the sake of revenge, and… well, you can guess the rest. (Aside: if the jerk of an ex-boyfriend looks familiar, that’s because it’s Ahn Bo-hyun, who’s playing Park Min-young’s “oppa” in Her Private Life).
Come Here and Hug Me (2018)
As mentioned above, I believe one of this drama’s strengths was the leading cast. Without fresh, earnest actors in these roles, the drama could have easily felt like the thriller melo we have all seen versions of a hundred times. But Jang Ki-yong and Jin Ki-joo not only played off of each other beautifully, but breathed life into the storyline. Jin Ki-joo played the daughter of a famous actress. The family relocated to the countryside, but wound up in the domain of a psychopath serial killer. After her family was brutally murdered, Jin Ki-joo’s heroine decided to become an actress, like her mother, in order to bring visibility and closure to her family’s trauma. Jin Ki-joo gave a great performance as the sweet and bubbly actress who, at the same time, was haunted by her past. There are so many things I enjoyed about this drama, but one of my favorites was how the heroine refused to blame those around her or be defined by what had happened to her.
The Secret Life of My Secretary (2019)
I haven’t caught the first few episodes of this drama yet, but my hopes are high. I actually really get a kick out of the grumpy boss/sassy worker trope, and I’m hoping that this drama has a fun and fresh take on it. Kim Young-gwang has already proven that he can do the role pitch perfectly (watch him in the web drama Gogh’s Starry Night for some prime material), and I’m a big fan of Jin Ki-joo. She’s a rookie, yes, but she comes off as confident onscreen, and I like her vibe. This drama seems like it can go either way, but let’s hope that with some good direction and a fun script, it will be an enjoyable ride. If it’s anywhere as good as the styling for Jin Ki-joo’s heroine, I think we’re in good shape. Let the tropes begin!
Jin Ki-joo’s filmography:
- Twenty Again (2015) [Drama]
Choi Ji-woo re-experienced her youth with the help of Lee Sang-yoon, and Jin Ki-joo made her acting debut.
- Splish Splash Love (2015) [Web Drama]
Jin Ki-joo had a side role as the friend of Kim Seul-gi’s character in this delightful time slip web drama.
- One More Happy Ending (2016) [Drama]
This drama told the story of girl group members whose lives after being idols was not exactly what they pictured. Jang Nara, Yoo Inna, Seo In-young, and more, starred as the Angels members. Jin Ki-joo played a side role as Jung Kyung-ho’s deceased wife.
- The Good Wife (2016) [Drama]
Jin Ki-joo had a small role in this Korean remake of the American show of the same name. It starred Jeon Do-yeon, Yoo Ji-tae, and Yoon Kye-sang.
- Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016) [Drama]
Though this drama belonged to IU and the cast of [amazingly good-looking] princes around her, Jin Ki-joo played a supporting role as her maid and friend.
- Ruler–Master of the Mask (2017) [Drama]
Another small sageuk role for Jin Ki-joo, this time with Yoo Seung-ho and Kim So-hyun in the lead, though it was not terribly well received.
- Wednesday 3:30 PM (2017) [Web Drama]
Cutesy web drama with lots of dimples (see above).
- Misty (2018) [Drama]
This drama was an important role for Jin Ki-joo — she played a prominent supporting role as Kim Nam-joo’s rival and junior anchorwoman.
- Little Forest (2018) [Film]
Based on the manga series of the same name, this film starred Jin Ki-joo, Kim Tae-ri, and Ryu Joon-yeol in what sounds like a sweet homecoming story. Jin Ki-woo was nominated for both the Baeksang Arts Award Best New Actress, and the Grand Bell Award for Best New Actress.
- The Unknown Woman (2018) [Short film]
Jin Ki-joo also appeared in this short, experimental art film.
- Come Here and Hug Me (2018) [Drama]
Melodrama thriller that featured Jin Ki-joo and Jang Ki-yong as one of the best couples ever, and told a pretty spellbinding story (see above).
- The Secret Life of My Secretary (2019) [Drama]
In Jin Ki-joo’s latest drama she plays the secretary of grumpy (and face-blind) Kim Young-gwang. They might not be able to top the chemistry in the similar-sounding What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, but maybe they can top the plot (see above)?