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Jason Ko

30, Gold Coast 

Real-life role: Plastic surgery resident  
Starring in: Basic Instinct

How do you say “hip-hop” in Korean? These days, Ko stays busy as a third-year plastic surgery resident at Northwestern. But before med school, he had a brush with an unexpected alter ego. While teaching English on a Fulbright grant in Chungju, South Korea, the Duke grad met and fell in love with a budding Korean pop star. “[Another American] friend and I joked about how, through her connections, we would make the illest Korean hip-hop duo ever, even though we didn’t speak Korean,” he says. Alas, despite encouragement from the girlfriend, Ko chose to abandon his dreams: “My mom basically said she would disown me if I did it.”

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Favorite movie hero? The Dude, from The Big Lebowski—an antihero, in fact.

Childhood nickname? Koko Puffs. That was embarrassing.

What do you do every day? Brush my teeth, floss, bathe, and drink Starbucks coffee: a medium coffee with a shot of whatever the lady who works at the Starbucks gives me. It’s a daily surprise from her to me.

Worst advice you’ve been given? Me, as a little kid: “Daddy, my head hurts.” My loving dad: “Cut it off.”

Where would you like to get engaged? Cinque Terre, Italy. So gorgeous.

In a dream world, who would you look like? I’m happy with myself. Write like? David Sedaris. Dance like? Anyone who can break dance reasonably well. Cook like? My mom. She makes the best Korean food ever. And sing like? Bono.

Most quotable movie line? Lately, the line from Anchorman when Ron’s friend is talking about how the ladies react to his Sex Panther cologne: “They’ve done studies, you know. Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.”

Last movie that made you cry? I’m not a big crier.

Most recommended book? Lately it’s been The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Name one thing that’s overrated: Beauty.

Who are you a secret groupie for? Ryan Reynolds. Is it bad to say a dude?

What song will be played at your wedding? Wonderful Tonight, by Eric Clapton.

Fill in the blanks: Vacations are for lying on a beach somewhere, not worrying.

You pull a Ferris Bueller and call in sick on a beautiful July day. What do you do? Some of the touristy stuff I’ve never done, such as going to the Art Institute or the aquarium. Then I would take a stroll in Grant Park and take a quick nap in the shade. I would walk along the lake and chill at the beach, just enjoying a rare opportunity to relax. And I would coax some friends to go out and hit the town.

What Chicago neighborhoods have you lived in? Just Gold Coast and Streeterville; Gold Coast is a little more happening and lively.

How long is too long to spend looking for a parking spot? It’s always too long.

Teacher’s pet or class clown? Class clown.

What did you think you’d be when you grew up? A doctor.

Name one thing you have in your house from your childhood: I have a couple of old toys: a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and a Scooby Doo miniature from a McDonald’s Happy Meal. I don’t know why I kept these.

And one embarrassing thing you hide when guests are coming over: Probably these toys.

Describe the state of your closet: Organized chaos.

What’s your power outfit? An array of button-down shirts I wear with jeans. And at work, I wear the white coat every day, so that’s a quote-unquote “power outfit.”

How much is too much to pay for jeans? I’m able to find nice jeans for under $100, so $120. I didn’t wear jeans, though, between the ages of 18 and 28. But then I moved to Chicago, and all I do is wear jeans. Evil jeans-wearers.

What’s in your pockets right now? I’m on vacation, so nothing. But generally, my lip balm (Blistex), spare change, my wallet, keys, cell phone, plus or minus a pack of gum.

Last time you jumped up and cheered? During Duke’s last basketball game.

Last time you told a lie? I told one today.

Last time you Googled yourself? It’s been a while—like, a few hours. I’m joking.

If you could give someone a talking-to, who would it be? Coach K [Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski].

What do you do when a server at a restaurant brings you a horrible dish? That happened recently, and I very politely asked them whether or not this was meant for another table. I thought, What can I say so they won’t spit in my food?

Gutsiest thing you’ve ever done? Going away for [boarding] school. It was kind of tough at age 14 or 15.

Do you have any tattoos? No.

But if you did? I’d want to design it myself, and I’d get it in the middle of my upper back.

What time is your alarm clock set for? These days, 4:45 a.m.

And how many times do you hit the snooze button? At least 12. But I’m still up by 5 a.m.

Dive bar or nightclub? Lately, it’s been nightclubs because they play great dance music. But don’t get me wrong; I also love a good dive bar, especially if there’s a foosball table.

Drinks before 5 p.m.: always, sometimes, never? Never.

What’s your remedy for a tough day? Loud, good music. Hip-hop cheers me up the most.

Fill in the blanks: I’d rather have a significant other who makes me laugh than who looks like a model.

How do you show someone you’re not interested? Don’t respond to calls or texts immediately.

What did you do on your best date? For a recent second date, we decided to go dancing, which, in my opinion, is a potentially awkward scenario. But we ended up having an amazing time.  

What makes someone a Chicagoan? The attitude. There’s a lot of Chicago pride in the community, the sports teams, the food, the culture, everything. There’s so much love for Chicago here. It’s contagious.

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