Doctor, singer, actor, husband — Cho Jung-seok tries his hand at all

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                          Doctor, singer, actor, husband — Cho Jung-seok tries his hand at all

                          Cho Jung-seok [JAM ENTERTAINMENT]

                          Cho Jung-seok [JAM ENTERTAINMENT]

                          It’s one thing to be married to a singer and another to actually try to release music oneself, says actor Cho Jung-seok who played a doctor and musician in the recently concluded first season of the tvN and Netflix series “Hospital Playlist.”
                           
                          “It felt a little awkward at first to be singing on set, but, as they say, practice makes perfect,” Cho told Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, shortly after the final episode of the season aired on May 28. “My wife has been encouraging me a lot through the process. I shared the song ‘Aloha’ with her before we released it, and she said that it goes well with the feeling of spring and that it could be a hit.”
                           
                          “Aloha,” sung by Cho, hit the top of local music charts for 12 days when it was released in April.
                           
                          The five doctors who appear on the series are medical professionals at work but musicians at heart. The drama takes the viewers into the everyday life of the doctors, not necessarily focusing on the technical details of their jobs but more on their love life, their passion for music and what goes on in a doctor’s life outside of the hospital wards.
                           
                          The 12th and last episode of the first season concluded with a 14.1 percent viewer rate, according to Nielsen Korea, the highest ever for the show.
                           
                          “I think the series was loved because it’s about finding happiness in one’s everyday life,” Cho said.  
                           
                          But the series was not the first time that Cho sang for an audience. He debuted in 2004 as a musical actor, appearing on screens for the first time in the film “Architecture 101” (2012). He has been beloved by his fans for his quirky ad-libs, which are abundant in his other works like tvN drama series “Oh My Ghost” (2015) and film “Exit” (2019).
                           
                          Cho, 40 this year, got married to pop diva Gummy in 2018 after they dated for five years. They are expecting their first child later this year. 
                           
                          In the recent interview with the Ilgan Sports, Cho spoke of his favorite moments working with the crew, what it meant to take on the role of a young father in the series as he awaits the birth of his first child and his hopes for the second season of the series, which is scheduled to be filmed from later this year.
                           
                          The following are edited excerpts of the interview.
                           
                          The first season did really well in its viewership. How did people closest to you respond?
                          I got a lot of calls from my friends asking for my autograph (laughs). I was thankful for the response.
                           
                          What aspects of the main character, Lee Ik-jun, did you focus on?
                          I saw Lee as a very personable man, and I wanted to bring that out onto the screen. I also had a lot of leeway in trying different things with Lee’s character.  
                           
                          Are you happy with your acting?
                          I don’t think I am ever happy with my acting. I think the moment I am satisfied, I may stop challenging myself. But I loved portraying Lee and who he was.
                           
                          Did you find any similarities between yourself and Lee?
                          We both try to stay positive and we don’t hold grudges against people. But where we are very different, if I may add, is that Lee seems to be this superhuman able to pull off everything — not at all who I am.
                           
                          Each episode had its own story and the series felt more like a collection of episodes.
                          We had to get used to that as well. As time passed, however, we felt that that was the strength of this series — the episodic nature of the story. And I think it’s a true reflection of our daily life, too. No two days are alike and no one day is less important than the other.
                           
                          Cho acts doctor Lee Ik-jun in the tvN drama series "Hospital Playlist." [TVN]

                          Cho acts doctor Lee Ik-jun in the tvN drama series "Hospital Playlist." [TVN]

                          Some criticized the way the doctors’ lives are portrayed in the drama as unrealistic.

                          Well, it’s not completely unrealistic. Apparently doctors don’t eat together all the time like we do in the series. But apart from that I heard feedback that said it’s a pretty realistic adaptation of a doctor’s life.
                           
                          What was it like to act with the four other main characters?
                          Kim Dae-myung is like a powerhouse — he has a knack for uplifting the moods of the people around him. Jeon Mi-do has a way to make people feel comfortable around her, Jung Kyung-ho has a knack for turning an awkward moment into something to laugh about. Yoo Yeon-seok was the youngest among us, but he had this overwhelming composure of a leader, you could always count on him.
                           
                          Your skill as a singer seemed to improve with each episode.
                          Well, I had experience in musicals before. But I did have to get used to playing the guitar while singing.  
                           
                          A scene from tvN drama series "Hospital Playlist." [TVN]

                          A scene from tvN drama series "Hospital Playlist." [TVN]

                          What songs stuck with you the most?

                          "With My Tears" was the song that stuck with me the most. I am a fan of the original singer of the song, Seo Ji-won.  
                           
                          Which song was your wife's favorite?
                          She said she likes “In Front of City Hall at the Subway Station” the most.
                           
                          What do you sing in noraebang [singing rooms]?
                          Usually songs by Lee Moon-sae.
                           
                          Do you have any plans to release music or sing in public?

                          No. And no, I would not sing at award ceremonies. But I could sing at fan meetings, of course (laughs).
                           
                          What’s changed the most since you got married?
                          That I have a time at the end of the day to take a walk with my wife. Two can do more than one, and two are more stable than one — at least this has been my experience.  
                           
                          What was it like to portray a young father and actually be expecting your first child?

                          It was a strange coincidence. I think that helped me play my role better. There are many aspects to Lee as a father that I want to be like as well in real life.
                           
                          What are your plans in the near future?
                          To be a good father and an actor who can make my child proud.
                           
                          BY KIM JI-HYUN, ESTHER CHUNG   [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
                           
                           
                           
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