After his latest stint in the Marvels Cinematic Universe, South Korean actor Park Seo-joon is back to dominate the Netflix algorithms of K-drama fans. The first part of the Seo-joon-starrer, Gyeongseong Creature, was released today on the OTT (over-the-top) platform.
An original two-part Netflix series, it also features the new ‘It’ girl of K-drama, Han So-hee.
The story of Gyeongseong Creature is set in 1945 during the Japanese colonial rule in South Korea and follows the lives of Jang Tae-sang (played by Seo-joon) and Yoon Chae-ok (played by Seo-joon and So-hee, respectively).
According to Netflix, the story looks at how “an entrepreneur and a sleuth fight for survival and face a monster born out of human greed”.
Using Tae Sang's intellect and sociability and Chae-ok's survival skills, the duo track down the creatures for their gains.
Directed by Jung Dong-yoon, known for successful dramas like ‘It's Okay to Not Be Okay’, the first part has seven episodes. The second part of the series include three episodes, which will be available on Netflix UAE from January 5, 2024.
Who is Park Seo-Joon
Long flowing hair, dressed in a colourful regal suit with shoulder pads resembling wings, Marvel in their recent movie cast Seo-Joon to play Prince Yan. With one of South Korea’s most bankable actors, it was a sure shot way to get the growing crowd of K-culture lovers diving headfirst into the theatres.
Park Seo-joon has proven time and again that he is one of South Korea’s top actors, consistently earning praise for brilliant performances in high-rating dramas and box-office hit films.
With a keen eye for good scripts and inimitable chemistry with his leading ladies onscreen, the 35-year-old actor has been nominated for numerous acting awards.
But, who would imagine that there was a time when this he suffered from “crippling shyness”.
According to Korea Herald, in a 2017 interview, Seo-joon said that he decided to begin acting in middle school as “a means to escape his crippling shyness”.
“I couldn’t even order food at a restaurant, I was so embarrassed,” he said of his younger days.
“I wanted to change that. And I have to confess I was drawn a little bit to the glamour (of acting).”
So he joined the animation club at his school and participated in his first cosplay event at a school arts festival.
“That was the first time I wasn’t afraid of people’s attention. It was surprising,” he recalled of his first stage experience. “I went to an acting academy for the first time when I was in high school. They told me it was too late.”
From debut to Oscar entry
After pursuing theater in university, he enlisted to finish two years of South Korea’s mandatory military service before officially debuting in the entertainment industry.
His first onscreen appearance was in the music video of Bang Yong-Guk's single ‘I Remember’, in 2011. He was 24 when he first debuted as an actor in Dream High 2, in 2012. And, he hasn’t stopped working since.
He went on to play varied roles – he was a magazine editor named Ji Sung-joon, in ‘She Was Pretty’ and a knight in the ‘Kingdom of Silla’, he was seen as Moo-myung or Kim Sun-woo, in ‘Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth’, and an aspiring MMA (mixed martial arts) professional fighter, Ko Dong-man, in ‘Fight for My Way’. He was also the adorable yet narcissistic chaebol, Lee Young-joon, in ‘What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim’ and the righteous, hardworking Park Sae-royi, in ‘Itaewon Class’.
Seo-joon also shines with his roles in ‘A Witch's Love’ and ‘Kill Me, Heal Me’.
The Korea Times dubbed him as the “master of romantic comedy” but he has convinced audiences that he can play action roles just as well.
His first lead role in a movie, Midnight Runners, was a success, making US$13.6 million (nearly Dh50 million) in the first five days of its release.
In 2019, the Hallyu actor made a cameo appearance in the Oscar-winning film Parasite, which has raked in more than US$264 million (Dh969 million) worldwide.
Earlier this year, the South Korean thriller ‘Concrete Utopia’, starring Seo-joon alongside actor Lee Byung-hun and actress Park Bo-young, was selected as South Korea’s official Oscar entry.
The film’s distributor Lotte Entertainment announced in August that the Korean Film Council (Kofic) had selected the post-apocalyptic thriller to be submitted in the International Feature Film category for the 96th Academy Awards.
Concrete Utopia was picked unanimously by a seven-judge panel that indicated in a statement that the film’s plot is in line with the ongoing debates around recession and global warming, and “expertly explores the topic of class conflict”.
A social media star too…
Seo-joon’s fame extends to social media too. He was the first Korean actor to receive a YouTube Gold Creator Award, commonly known as the Gold Play Button in June 2019. However, later that year, his YouTube channel was hacked, leading to the deletion of all his videos.
Following a social media meltdown from fans, prompt action was taken and Seo-joon soon regained access to his channel and has been actively posting since.
His YouTube account now has close to 2 million subscribers. He is also one of the South Korean actors with the most number of Instagram followers, with 25.7 million followers on the media-sharing app.
With his dossier of hits, it’s no surprise that many brands clamour to get Seo-joon for endorsements.
South Korean entertainment website Soompi.com reported that, in 2018 alone, he appeared in 20 commercial films across TV, print, and online and was ranked “the most beloved by consumers” that year.
Today, the 6’1”-tall actor is globally in-demand to endorse everything from clothing to skincare and luxury brands.
Creator of the famed Wooga squad
The A-list actor was also the reason behind the ‘Wooga Squad’, one of the most popular friend groups in the Korean entertainment industry. It consists of five Korean stars Park Seo Joon, Park Hyung-sik, BTS’ V, Choi Woo Shik, and Peakboy.
Wooga is an abbreviation for the phrase ‘Woori-ga Gajok-inga?’, which means ‘Are we family?’.