[Actor Spotlight] Kim Ji-won
Kim Ji-won, star of the popular tvN drama Arthdal Chronicles, is in our spotlight this week. I don’t know about you, but to me, once you’re starring opposite Song Joong-ki in a pretty anticipated drama — well, you’ve made it to the big leagues.
Kim Ji-won debuted in 2010 around the age of nineteen, and was very successful in commercials at the start of her career, though she had been training as an idol for many years. Her first drama role came in 2011 in the popular High Kick sitcom. For the next few years Kim Ji-won had a string of second lead roles, some more visible than others (Heirs over Gap-dong), but of course it was 2016’s Descended From the Sun that catapulted her popularity. After the drama’s massive success, Kim Ji-won landed her first leading rom-com role in Fight My Way, and her first historical film, before joining Arthdal Chronicles.
Here are some dramaland moments from Kim Ji-won, followed by her full filmography.
Just when I think I’m done talking about Heirs it comes around again — but this time it’s about the female antagonist Rachel, played by Kim Ji-won. Rachel, and her bangs, tantrums, and sour expressions, made her the antagonist that was easy to dislike (or love to hate, perhaps?). I know a lot of people got a kick out of her role, and she surely did something right because to this day I still see hints of that Rachel sneer on her face and I have to remind myself that Kim Ji-won is not Rachel, and Rachel is not Kim Ji-won. To her credit, rather than get typecast as the snotty rich girl, Kim Ji-won’s next big role was one that would set her up to be a leading lady.
Descended From the Sun (2016)
The fact that this drama is still getting referenced and spoofed over three years later just goes to show the impact it had on the drama landscape. Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-gyo might have already been big stars, but they only got bigger — and so did second leads Jin Gu and Kim Ji-won. I might be in the minority, but the second lead love line didn’t do that much for me. Was I too swept away by the Song-Song romance to pay much attention? I’m not sure. Either way, this role was a huge one for Kim Ji-won, and she not only got a lot of attention (and awards) for it, but put a pretty good foothold on the kind of roles she excels at.
Fight My Way (2017)
What a fun drama this was! Granted, I was set up to like it from the start since Park Seo-joon playing an MMA fighter has enough of a draw to get me to watch anything — but this was a masterclass in how to do a rom-com without making it boring or relying on tropes. A feisty heroine (Kim Ji-won) and her best friend (Park Seo-joon) fall in love. Simple. And yet enough of a story to watch it unfold hour after hour and enjoy the evolution of their relationship, right along with the friendships, hardships, letdowns, and dreams that propel them forward. I liked the honesty about life in this drama and how it was mixed with comedy by way of fight scenes, aegyo, and some really great banter.
Kim Ji-won’s full filmography:
- Mrs. Saigon (2008) [Drama]
Kim Ji-won had a role in this early KNN drama prior to her debut.
- High Kick: Revenge of the Short Legged (2011) [Drama]
Kim Ji-won got her big break with her role in the third rendition of this popular sitcom.
- Romantic Heaven (2011) [Film]
Along with Kim Soo-ro and Kim Dong-wook, Kim Ji-won starred in this melodrama featuring three separate storylines and characters that eventually intersect at a hospital.
- What’s Up (2011) [Drama]
Lim Joo-hwan, Big Bang’s Daesung, Kim Ji-won, and more, starred in this weekend drama about a group of kids with troubled pasts that come together while studying music.
- Horror Stories and Horror Stories 2 (2012, 2013) [Film]
Kim Ji-won starred in two segments in both installments of these omnibus horror films.
- To the Beautiful You (2012) [Drama]
Sulli, SHINee’s Minho, and Lee Hyun-woo starred in this manga adaptation and teen drama that wanted to be the next Boys Over Flowers (but let’s face it, there’s no such thing).
- Heirs (2013) [Drama]
Ah, Rachel. All these years later and I still want to smack you (see above).
- Anticipate Love (2013) [Drama]
Also known as Hope for Dating, Kim Ji-won played alongside stars Choi Daniel and BoA in this short two-episode drama. I saw this ages ago, and my most vivid memory is of BoA in a raincoat carrying a bucket of live octopuses, about to make some trouble.
- The Reason I’m Getting Married (2014) [Drama]
A woman met a man from her past in this one-episode drama special, and Kim Ji-won had a supporting role.
- One Sunny Day (2014) [Web Drama]
In this little web drama from LINE TV, Kim Ji-won is paired with So Ji-sub, which I just can’t imagine no matter how hard I try. I guess I’d have to see it to believe it!
- Gap-dong (2014) [Drama]
Kim Ji-won played a young webtoon artist in this crime thriller that starred Yoon Sang-hyun and Lee Joon.
- Hidden Identity (2015) [Cameo/Drama]
Kim Ji-won had a cameo in this tvN crime drama that starred Kim Bum and Park Sung-woong.
- Descended From the Sun (2016) [Drama]
This smash hit wartime romance drama needs no introduction, and after its success, neither does Kim Ji-won. I find it funny that she’s now starring opposite Song Joong-ki after playing his fellow soldier just a few years ago. Second lead no more! Instant upgrade (see above).
- Fight My Way (2017) [Drama]
Best friends with the perfect amount of banter and honesty fall in love (see above).
- Mr. Sunshine (2018) [Cameo/Drama]
Kim Ji-won cameoed in as protagonist Kim Tae-ri’s mother in this acclaimed historical drama. It’s on the To Be Watched list!
- Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead (2018) [Film]
This historical action comedy sequel was Kim Ji-won’s first big historical role. She starred with Kim Myung-min and Oh Dal-soo, but FYI Lee Min-ki and Kim Bum were also here. *Waves*
- Arthdal Chronicles (2019) [Drama]
I know folks are loving this one, but I just can’t. Even for Song Joong-ki!
- Arthdal Chronicles: Episode 1
- Blockbuster drama Asadal Chronicle lines up Song Joong-ki, Kim Ji-won, Jang Dong-gun, Kim Ok-bin
- Detective K returns to catch a vampire serial killer
- Fight My Way: Episode 1
- Kim Ji-won, Chun Woo-hee up for same lead role in KBS’s Third-Rate My Way
- Descended From the Sun: Episode 1
- Gap-dong: Episode 1
- Heirs: Episode 1