Park Hae-soo in 'Yaksha'
Park Hae-soo in 'Yaksha' Image Credit: Netflix

Actor Park Hae-soo has credited the rising popularity of his latest Netflix film ‘Yaksha: Ruthless Operations’ to the recent worldwide reception of Korean pop culture led by ‘Squid Game’ and BTS.

‘Yaksha’ is an action-packed spy thriller, revolving around Kang-in (Sul Kyung-ku), a notorious leader of a secret operation team, dubbed Black Ops team, in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, and Ji-hoon (Park), an ambitious prosecutor assigned to inspect the Shenyang team.

According to Yonhap, the Netflix movie that was released on April 8 debuted at No 3 on the streamer’s official weekly viewership chart for non-English films for the week of April 4-10.’

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Park Hae-soo in 'Squid Game'. Image Credit: Netflix

“It is a unique spy movie made in Korea and set in the Chinese city of Shenyang,” Park said in an online media interview.

“Many Korean pieces have well met demand of global audiences and ‘Yaksha’ benefited from it, I think.”

Park plays Ji-hoon who seeks ways to complete his inspection as soon as possible. But he is forced to be deeply involved in a covert intelligence battle involving a high-profile North Korean official.

“He is a high-principled character who does not tolerate any illegal things or injustice,” he said.

“But he helplessly falls into the heart of the battle without even realising it. I tried to express the unintended consequences.”

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Song Jae-lim as Jae-gyu, EL as Hui-won, Yang Dong-keun as Manager Hong, Park Jin-young as Jeong-dae, Sul Kyung-gu as Ji Gang-in in 'Yaksha: Ruthless Operations'. Image Credit: Netflix

He said ‘Yaksha’, his fourth Netflix project following ‘Persona’, ‘Time to Hunt’ and ‘Squid Game’, has helped broaden his acting horizons once more as he had to act in foreign languages.

Some foreign actors, including Hiroyuki Ikeuchi from Japan, were cast in the film, and Ji-hoon plays a role in dealing with foreign spies as he is good at Chinese and Japanese.

“It is difficult to speak foreign languages, and much more difficult to act in foreign languages. I practiced them a lot,” he said.

“I could express emotions better in foreign languages if I were given another chance.”

The actor, 40, who gained international fame for his role in the global TV sensation ‘Squid Game’, said the recent few months were extraordinary for him, as he has spent most of his acting career on South Korean soil.

As ‘Squid Game’ has been nominated for and won prestigious US awards, including the Screen Actors Guild Awards, he participated in many of them as a cast member and met many big-name Hollywood stars.

In the critically acclaimed and brutal show, Park played the character Cho Sang-woo, the former worker at a securities company who is in debt after stealing money from clients and taking massive loans.

“I had great experiences thanks to ‘Squid Game,’ attending awards shows with so many stars I’ve seen on screens,” Park said.

“It’s an honour to be a member of this project.”

While mingling in the global entertainment industry, he said he felt the rising presence of Korean culture, which is open widely to global audiences through borderless online platforms like Netflix.

“Korean actors and creators have made quality TV series, films and shows for decades,” he said.

“Now they have their day. They gain access to global audiences, and viewers can see Korean shows.”

In an interview with Korea Times, Park opened up about how the popularity of shows from his nation has opened up new opportunities for Asian stories.

“I think international audiences are impressed by the original plots and screenplays of Korean cultural content. They also respond to how stories depict the reality of human condition. In the past, major Hollywood studios would say they are looking for Asian actors. But now, they specifically want Korean actors,” he said.

Asked if he wants to work on international projects, Park said it’s not something he has his mind set on.

“My concern is not whether the project is global or not. Nothing has changed, really. I still choose my works based on the script, the character and the director because I’m confident that our [Korean] original stories are good enough to arouse empathy from viewers around the world,” he told Korea Times.

Don’t miss it!

‘Yaksha’ is out now on Netflix.