Actor You Need to Know: Park Seo-joon
Following a string of hits, the South Korean sensation is on his way to making his Hollywood debut
I first met Park Seo-joon in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim. With his sophisticated, dapper looks and refined mannerisms, he brilliantly embodied Lee Young-joon’s character, and although I’m not a big fan of cheesy storylines, Park managed to impress me. As I watched more of his work, I could see why he has such a massive global fan base. Park is a brilliant actor — a household name in South Korea, one of the most notable Hallyu stars — and our choice for this week’s ‘Actor You Need to Know’ series.
In 2011, Park made his debut in the entertainment industry after featuring in the music video for Bang Yong-gook’s single “I Remember.” This song came out a decade ago and has immense recall value (and for all the right reasons). Sadly, I saw the video really late. The song, the lyrics, the vocals, the rap, and, of course, Park’s presence in it made it such an entertaining package — a masterpiece of a collab between B.A.P and Beast. The intense plot and Park’s portrayal of the same established that he’s here to stay.
In the initial phase of his career, the actor was seen doing supporting roles in K-dramas like Dream High 2, Pots of Gold, and One Warm Word until 2014 when he bagged his first lead role in A Witch’s Love and was paired with Ban Ji-yeon. The year 2015 proved to be a breakthrough in Park’s career. While on one hand he was cast as a main lead in Korean dramas like Kill Me Heal Me and She Was Pretty, on the other, he starred in the movie The Chronicles of Evil. The success of these ventures not only led him to win multiple awards but also cemented his status as a South Korean hero.
With Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, Park received a nomination for the prestigious Top Excellence Award at the 31st KBS Drama Awards. His characterization of a downtrodden young man who overcomes his circumstances to become a legendary Hwarang warrior gained him greater fame. Besides, the series was praised for its star-studded ensemble and premise based on the Silla kingdom’s Hwarang warriors. One of the OSTs from the series “Our Tears” was sung by Park himself.
KBS2’s rom-com drama Fight for My Way (2017) gave the actor’s career a boost. He did an exceptional job portraying the character of Ko Dong-man, a taekwondo player with lost glory and a tragic past who fights his way to reinstate his position and love life. Park shared screen space with Kim Ji-won in the series, which topped the TV viewership ratings for three consecutive weeks. It was appreciated for a realistic plotline and excellent acting.
Park earned the Grand Bell Award for Best New Actor and the Korean Association of Film Critics Award for Best New Actor for his first big-screen lead performance in the action-comedy Midnight Runners with Kang Ha-neul in 2017. The former portrayed Ki-joon, a risk-taker who doesn’t look before leaping, in contrast to Kang, who thinks more and acts less. The film has been screened in several countries and is currently being recreated in Telugu, with Regina Cassandra and Nivetha Thomas in the lead roles.
In What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, the 33-year-old received positive reviews for his portrayal of a snooty, narcissistic vice-chairman of a conglomerate. The Korean press hailed his performance, labeling him the “master of romantic comedy.” Park Min-young appeared in the show as his secretary, who subsequently progressed to become his love interest.
In 2019, The Divine Fury actor made a guest appearance in Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film Parasite. In JTBC‘s 2020 webtoon-based drama Itaewon Class, he impressed his audiences as Park Sae-ro-yi, the owner of DanBam, a bar-restaurant in Itaewon. At the 25th Asian Television Awards, the series won Best Drama Series, while Park was nominated for Best Actor-Television at the 56th Baeksang Arts Awards.
Park has finished production for his next sports comedy-drama Dream, according to sources. He’ll be joined by Lee Ji-eun, aka IU. The plot follows Yoon Hong-dae (Park), a star footballer who is tasked with training a homeless national squad for the Homeless World Cup. The film is set to hit theaters later this year. In addition, Park will star alongside Lee Byung-hun and Park Bo-young in the upcoming disaster thriller Concrete Utopia, which is about earthquake survivors in Seoul’s ‘Imperial Palace Apartment.’ As public servant Min Seong, Park will guide the people through the catastrophe.
One of the most important projects he is working on right now is the Marvel Cinematic Universe film, The Marvels (2023), with renowned actors like Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and others. Park’s character is yet to be revealed, but the fact that this is his first foray into Hollywood is exciting.