BY Joan MacDonald | Aug 09, 2013 10:17 AM EDT
So Ji Sub's new drama "The Master's Sun" is killing it in the ratings. But the star of "Phantom" and "What Happened in Bali" never wanted to be a star. As a shy quiet teen, he thought he might be a professional swimmer. He started modeling because he wanted to pose with hip-hop artist Kim Sung Jae.
"I was never really interested in becoming a celebrity," said So. "My life was all about swimming and hip-hop music."
Here are a few facts about the actor that may surprise you.
1) Even though he never wanted to be an actor, he has become so good at it he can define what it means to be professional.
"When a person is professional, it means that person gives his all in what he does," he said.
He doesn't believe acting is merely pretending.
"When an actor acts, he pulls out whatever he heard, saw or experienced," said So. "It could be something he's done before or not. I believe acting is using that one percent of truth you can find to cover up 99 percent of what's false. Audiences know when an actor is acting a lie instead of the truth. You have to work really hard to find that truth within yourself.
2) When he spends time with his good friend and fellow actor Song Seung Hoon, they rarely discuss acting.
"Because our work styles are so different, we rarely talk about work when we meet," said So. "We just talk about normal life, like other people do."
3) He is the first Korean actor to have a road named after him. He published a photo essay collection called "So Ji Sub's Journey, which includes photos taken during his trips to Korea's DMZ and Gangwon province. The book became a bestseller and he was named Gangwon's goodwill ambassador. They named a road after him.
4) He has business smarts, having launched both a magazine and a drink. His magazine SONICe features interesting locations, as well as food and book recommendations. At the coffee shop branch he owns, he introduced a vanilla latte that became a bestselling item. His citron ginger tea has also become a bestseller.
5) He has no problem with idols that become actors.
"When idols come on set, they act like they are actors rather than idols," he said recently. "They are a pleasure to see because they work hard to make sure they don't hear any comments and fundamentally they all act well."
That's welcome news for Infinite L who plays the young So Ji Sub on "The Master's Sun."
"No one is great when they first start," added So. "I also have a lot to learn and I was really bad when I started.
If the ratings for his show are any indication, he's not bad any more.
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