When I use j or k with operators, they make the operator act line-wise - acting over two whole lines, as if I had used Vj/Vk. I want them to act character-wise so that they act until the current column in the line above/below, as they do with vj/vk, or when used as motions on their own.

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    :help forced-motion – Matt Feb 5 at 15:03

As Matt says, use {operator}vj as per :help forced-motion. You can force line-wise, character-wise, and block-wise (think of it like "casting" the motion).

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