If you are a consumer of the Korean pop culture and the content that is churned out by the country’s entertainment industry, chances are that we will not have to introduce you to Park Seo-Joon. The handsome actor is one of the pallbearers of the South Korean Hallyu Wave. Park Seo-Joon is one of the most popular actors in South Korea. He has been a part of several hit television series and movies. Or, alternatively, we could say that the movies and series were popular because of him. Whatever be the reason, we are in love with Seo-Joon!
Park Seo-Joon has been very meticulous in the planning of his career timeline. The fact that every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 28 must go through Korea’s mandatory military service. While most men in South Korea choose to go for the mandatory service in the later years, Seo-Joon went for it when he was only 19 years old. He was discharged by the time he turned 20. This proved to be extremely helpful for him because he could now focus on his acting career entirely. He wouldn’t have to make any major career breaks. Seo-Joon then attended the Seoul Institute of the Arts.
The article today is aimed to focus on some of Seo-Joon’s best work over the years. His acting career spans over 10 years. He made his debut in 2011 by appearing in a music video. He has been unstoppable since. Read on to find out more about the 10 best movies and television shows where Park Seo-Joon stars, that you absolutely have to watch if you enjoy his acting.
1. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? (2018)
It is no surprise that ‘What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?’ has made it to the very top of our list. Secretary Kim, as it is also known, was one of Park Seo-Joon’s most famous work. It was with this romantic comedy-drama that the Korean Press started to refer to him as the ‘master of romantic comedy’. Secretary Kim received several positive reviews and topped charts with high rating. The storyline here follows the lives of a chaebol heir – Lee Young Joon (Park Seo-Joon) and his secretary Kim Mi So (Park Min-Young). The two of them went through a traumatic experience when they were younger. However, as they grow up, Mi So is unaware of the fact that they actually were together. Young Joon knows this and is in love with Mi So for several years. He never said anything to her though. When Mi So says that she wants to resign, Young Joon does everything in his power to stop her from leaving him. The rest of the drama follows the two of them as they fall in love with each other. You can watch the drama on Netflix.
2. Itaewon Class (2020)
It is no surprise that Seo-Joon’s latest drama comes a close second to ‘Secretary Kim’. Itaewon Class was released in January 2020. This series was also based on a webtoon of the same name. The cumulative readers of the webtoon – Itaewon Class on Daum and Kakao Page were about 10 million. After being released, the show received several positive reviews and also swept off many major awards. Itaewon Class won the award for the Best Drama Series in the 25th Asian Television Awards. Interestingly, BTS member V (Kim Tae-Hyung) sang of the original soundtracks of the series – Sweet Night that topped the iTunes chart in 118 countries and is the only song to have achieved this feat.
Itaewon Class follows the life of Park Sae-Royi, played by Seo-Joon. He goes to prison when he tried to kill a big industrialist who murdered his father. Meanwhile, his girlfriend gets a scholarship to go to college. Four years later she holds a powerful position in the same company whose founder ruined Sae-Royi’s life. Sae-Royi decides to open a restaurant in one of Seoul’s most happening neighbourhoods – Itaewon. However, he is not very good at running a business. This is when Jo Ye-Seo (played by Kim Da-Mi) comes into his life. You can watch Itaewon Class on Netflix.
3. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (2016-17)
Another one of Seo-Joon’s masterpieces, ‘Hwarang’ is a period drama. It has an ensemble star-studded cast starring several K-Pop idols from leading bands. It stars Kim Tae-Hyung (V) from BTS, Choi Min-Ho from Shinee and Park Hyung-Sik from ZE:A. Hwarang follows the lives of Kim Sun-Woo (Park Seo-Joon), Kim Ah-Ro (Go Ara) and Kim Ji-Dwi (Park Hyung-Sik). In the legendary Kingdom of Silla, it is the Queen who rules the people after the death of their King. She keeps her young son hidden in order to protect him. However, and inevitably so, with the passage of time, the people in the kingdom start getting very impatient as they wait for their young ruler to take over. However, the Queen is not ready to give up yet.
Meanwhile, there is a very cruel caste system in place in Silla and one man is determined to break free and soar high. Thereby, the Queen creates an elite group of warriors – called Hwarang, who are tasked with keeping the kingdom and the future heir safe. As they carry out missions together, the group starts bonding with each other. However, they are blissfully unaware of the fact that two people in the group carry big secrets of their own. Hwarang not only gave its actors prestigious nominations but also won several top awards. You can watch Hwarang on Netflix.
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4. Kill Me, Heal Me (2015)
Even though Seo-Joon’s career began in 2011, it was actually Kill Me, Heal Me that established him as a major actor not only in the industry but also in the entire country. Though his role is not that of the lead protagonist of the show, his character is a part of the main storyline. The series mainly deals with certain topics that are not usually spoken about in Korea’s mainstream society. Due to the country’s conservative society, the entertainment industry also tries to steer clear of any controversial content. Though the focus of the series on mental health issues like disassociative identity disorder and child abuse weren’t exactly controversial, they were still unheard of.
The main storyline of Kill Me, Heal Me follows the lives of Cha Do-Hyun (Ji Sung), Oh Ri-Jin (Hwang Jung-Eum) and Oh Ri-On (Park Seo-Joon). Cha Do Hyun is actually a chaebol heir who develops a multiple personality disorder, where he assumes different personalities. This is an aftermath of certain traumatic events that completely changed his life forever. A first-year student of psychiatric studies – Oh Ri-Jin helps him secretly to try and gain control over the mess in his life. However, Ri-Jin’s twin brother, Ri-On is a very overly curious writer determined to uncover the truth behind Do-Hyun’s strange demeanor. The drama unfurls whether Do-Hyun is exposed, or if he gets better.
5. She Was Pretty (2015)
Another drama that was released in the same year as ‘Kill Me, Heal Me’, She Was Pretty was one of the first major dramas where Park So-Joon played a lead role. She Was Pretty is a quintessential love story. It follows the lives of Kim Hye-Jin (Hwang Jung-Eum) and Ji Sung-Joon (Park Seo-Joon). The storyline of this series is set in a fashion magazine’s publishing house. The story is mainly based on the reversal of fortunes of the two main leads. Hye-Jin comes from a very affluent family. She is a gorgeous young woman who everybody is jealous of. However, her family goes bankrupt. Meanwhile, Sung-Joon used to be an unattractive boy who came from a poor family. However, as he grows up, his fortunes change and he becomes extremely handsome and successful.
Sung-Joon becomes Hye-Jin’s boss at the fashion magazine. When they were younger, Sung-Joon was in love with Hye-Jin. But when fate brings the two of them together again, Sung-Joon fails to recognize her. When they meet again, Sung-Joon openly reprimands her for her mistakes. The rest of the story follows how they fall in love with each other. ‘She Was Pretty’ received several positive reviews and topped many charts. The show was especially a major hit in China. You can watch She Was Pretty on Netflix.
6. Fight For My Way (2017)
Fight For My Way is one of the most popular romance dramas in the history of South Korean television. It is a workplace drama with four main characters. The show follows the lives of a group of friends who calls themselves ‘The Crazy Fantastic Four’. Park Seo-Joon stars as Ko Dong-Man, Kim Ji-Won stars as Choi Ae-Ra, Ahn Jae-Hong stars as Kim Joo-Man and Song Ha-Yoon stars as Baek Seol-Hee in the series. It is a slice of life drama that shows how these young friends grow together in life. They also fall in love with each other and go through life-altering experiences together. The four of them have very big dreams to establish themselves in a career that they choose for themselves and are yet very underqualified for. Meanwhile, Dong-Man and Ae-Ra fall in love with each other along the way.
Fight For My Way was a commercial hit. It received several positive reviews from critics and swept away major awards. This was the drama that helped Seo-Joon win some of the biggest, and most prestigious, awards of his life. Seo-Joon was also nominated for the coveted Baeksang Awards in 2018 for his role here. Fight For My Way won 8 KBS Drama Awards in 2017 after being nominated for a total of 15. You can watch the drama on Netflix.
7. The Chronicles of Evil (2015)
Park Seo-Joon made his movie debut with The Chronicles of Evil in 2015. This movie was a thriller directed by Beal Woon-Hak. Seo-Joon played the role of Cha Dong-Jae in this movie. The storyline of the movie follows the life of Choi Chang-Sik (Son Hyun-Joo), who is a celebrated homicide detective. His past record is impeccable and he is very well respected amongst all his peers. One day, just before the promotion was about to come his way, he was abducted by a taxi driver. Cha Chang-Sik was returning home after having a few drinks with his friends when he fell asleep in the taxi. When he woke up, he saw that the driver was holding him hostage in a remote trail along the mountains and pulling a knife on him. However, given the fact that Chang-Sik is well trained in defending himself, he manages to kill the taxi driver in self-defense. After the deed is already carried out, he realizes how this incident could affect his career negatively and send it spiraling down. Chang-Sik tries his best to remove any possible evidence that could connect him to the murder.
The next day, the driver’s dead body is found and, as fate would have it, Chang-Sik is assigned the case. He tries to stir the investigation in a different direction and remove any evidence. However, to Chang-Sik’s dismay, the young detective in the department – Cha Dong-Jae starts suspecting Chang-Sik’s strange behavior. Out of the blue, a man turns up and confesses to killing the taxi driver. He then blackmails Chang-Sik into opening an old case if he doesn’t want his lies to be caught. Park Seo-Joon won the Popular Star Award in the 36th Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2015 for his role in the movie.
8. Midnight Runners (2017)
Midnight Runners is a light-hearted comedy action film that stars Park Seo-Joon and Kang Ha-Neul in the lead roles. It was directed by Jason Kim. Again Park Seo-Joon won several awards for his role in the movie, including a Grand Bell Award for Best New Actor in 2017. The movie was a huge commercial success and went on to become the fourth highest-grossing movie of 2017 with total earnings of $39 million.
The plot of the movie follows the lives of two brilliant students at the Korean National Police University. Ki-Joon (Park Seo-Joon) ad Hee-Yeol (Kang Ha-Neul) are two students at the university. One day, around midnight, they witness a kidnapping on their way back home. The police are busy with the kidnapping of a chaebol heir and are hence least interested in another insignificant person who went missing. This is when the two of them decide to embark on an amateur investigation of their own to find the kidnapper. The rest of the story follows how the two of them manage to uncover a large racket of kidnappings related to young girls. There are several scenes where they are beaten to a pulp and locked up, however they manage to emerge victorious from every setback that comes their way. In the end, they do succeed in their investigation. However, they are given 500 hours of community service to complete as disciplinary action by their alma mater.
9. The Divine Fury (2019)
The Divine Fury was a horror-action movie that was directed by Kim Ju-Hwan. Park Seo-Joon, along with Ahn Sung-Ki and Woo Do-Hwan starred in the movie. The Divine Fury was a sleeper hit and did not do as well as Seo-joon’s other movies, however, you must add it to your watchlist if you are a Seo-Joon fan. The reason we are saying this is because this movie marks Seo-Joon’s debut in the horror genre. He is truly one of the most versatile actors in South Korea.
The plot of The Divine Fury surrounds Yong-Hoo’s life. He is played by Park Seo-Joon. Yong-Hoo is a martial arts champion. He has the uncanny powers of fighting evil forces. However, Yong-Hoo has deep-set childhood drama brought on to him from the death of his parents when he was a child. This trauma has caused him to harbor hatred towards God. It is this anger and desperation that Yong-Hoo releases by practicing martial arts. After a stint of two years in the United States, Yong-Hoo returns to Korea and meets a priest. Father Ahn (Ahn Sung-Ki) is also an exorcist. He sees potential in Yong-Hoo to defeat the cruelest demons of hell. Together, the two of them embark upon a journey to save their country from all demonic activity.
10. Dream High 2 (2012)
Dream High 2 marked the beginning of Park Seo-Joon’s acting career. This was his first-ever drama series in the main role. Park Seo-Joon played the role of Lee Si-Woo here. The drama also stars several famous K-Pop idols. You can see Jae-Bom and Jin-Young from GOT7, Jin-Woon from 2 AM, and Hyolyn from SISTAR here, among many others. Just like its first season, Dream High 2 follows the lives of several school children to aspire to become leading K-Pop idols. The story is set in Kirin High School which goes bankrupt and is taken over by Oz Entertainment. The entertainment company then sends its own trainees to this school so that they can complete their education. The storyline then develops by following how the different groups of students come together and become friends. Several love-hate relationships develop between them. This show was also a sleeper hit. However, you should add it to your watchlist since this was Seo-Joon’s entry into the industry.
Along with major roles, Park Seo-Joon also made several cameo appearances in different dramas and movies. One of his most notable cameos was with Choi Woo-Shik in Parasite, the only South Korean movie to have won two Oscars in major categories. As of April 2021, Seo-Joon has two movies lined up. Dream is set to release later this year while Concrete Utopia will have a release date in 2022. One interesting aspect of Park Seo-Joon’s life is his friendship with the Wooga Squad. This famous group of friends consists of V (Kim Tae-Hyung) from BTS, rapper Peakboy, Park Hyung-Sik from ZE:A, actor Choi Woo-Shik and Park Seo-Joon. These groups of friends cheer for each other and promote their works on their individual social media handles. They also support each other wholeheartedly, often by sending food trucks, which is a popular trend in Korea. You can also see them hanging out with each other often via their various social media posts.
Park Seo-Joon has worked very hard to make the reputation that he has today. We wish him nothing, but the absolute best in all his upcoming endeavors. We cannot wait to see everything that he has in store for his fans. He is yet to reach the peak of his career and we are very excited to see what comes next for this talented actor. Stay tuned to this page for further updates!