Park Seo Jun: ‘Some of my earliest memories are of me just trying lớn find my way.’ Photograph: Awesome Ent

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Park Seo Jun: ‘Some of my earliest memories are of me just trying khổng lồ find my way.’ Photograph: Awesome Ent
The actor talks about joining the MCU, his friendships with BTS’s V & the rest of the ‘Wooga Squad’, & the social và economic issues behind his TV hits Itaewon Class and Fight for My Way

In an early scene of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, a brief conversation between rich student Min-hyuk & his friend Ki-woo proves a crucial moment in the multi-Oscar winning film. “Tutor a rich kid. It pays well,” the scooter-riding Min-hyuk tells the impoverished Ki-woo, who lives in a semi-basement trang chủ with his family. Và when Min-hyuk offers Ki-woo the opportunity to lớn take over his job as a tutor for the rich Park family, he acts as a bridge between the two worlds, & sets the plot of the film in motion.

Min-hyuk is played by Park Seo Jun, and despite the brevity of Park’s appearance in Parasite, it will have been the first time most international audiences will have got a good look at him. Park is a big name in South Korea however, thanks to a string of successful domestic TV series – mostly thắm thiết comedies such as She Was Pretty & Fight for My Way – and the Netflix hit Itaewon Class. Now his international profile is about khổng lồ be raised, after it was confirmed he will be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Captain Marvel 2: The Marvels, appearing alongside Brie Larson, Iman Vellani & Zawe Ashton, making him the third South Korean actor to lớn join the MCU.

“When I first heard that the Marvel Cinematic Universe wanted lớn speak with me, I couldn’t believe it. I actually couldn’t believe it,” Park says. He remains tight-lipped over the actual details, however. “I’m just trying khổng lồ be careful with Marvel-related questions,” he laughs, looking a bit stressed. It’s no surprise, MCU actors are sworn to lớn secrecy. “I’m not someone who has a fear of challenges, but whether I am filming in South Korea or abroad, everything is a challenge for me. So, I did feel some nerves at first. But everyone was so helpful and welcoming that I was able to find my feet really quickly.”

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Park as Min-hyuk in Parasite. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/AlamyOn the day we speak, Park is in Seoul, having just got back from filming in London. He looks lively in a green bomber jacket and denim shirt, and is happy to lớn start talking before his LA-based management joins the điện thoại tư vấn to monitor any sensitive Marvel information. “I didn’t come from a wealthy family and we had to lớn move around a lot as a result, but I was able lớn meet a lot of different people at school & that made me more mature.” He pauses. “Some of my earliest memories from childhood are of me just trying to lớn find my way, instead of memories of being happy all the time.”

The themes of Korean social inequality & financial difficulties that Parasite so brilliantly exposed have also found their way into Park’s other work. In the 2017 series Fight for My Way, Park played a taekwondo athlete, Ko Dong-man, who is forced to cancel his dreams of going lớn the Olympics after being burdened by his family debts & his sister’s life-changing surgery. Dong-man quits his dream and becomes a pest exterminator. “People in their 20s in South Korea are actually having a lot of difficulties, when it comes to just living in general,” Park says. “During my early days of acting, it was very difficult for me. In your 20s you have to lớn work really hard but also be careful with everything. Life, love, career, passion – everything. Fight for My Way was one of the best dramas that could possibly portray these feelings. I could connect with Dong-man. At times, he failed and got frustrated with himself but he endured và showed up for himself. Among all the young people who were struggling, I got to express one young person’s hardships.”


Instant success … with Kim Da-mi in Itaewon Class. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/AlamyIn Itaewon Class, Park plays an ex-convict. On the surface it’s a story about revenge và retribution but it also features strong social commentary about how the rich abuse power. It was an instant success. “Itaewon Class appeared in the midst of the Korean movies and drama boom, & I got khổng lồ make a lot of international fans,” says Park. It was only a matter of time before the world woke up lớn the world of Korean film & TV, the actor believes. Netflix and other streaming platforms gave international audiences access to lớn these projects, and he says the Korean entertainment industry offered something new. “I personally feel that South Korea has been making a lot of effort và spending a lot of time creating good quality films & series, but it’s always been a bit of a hidden gem. There are a lot of good films và dramas và I want them to be recognised. I feel proud that I am able to contribute to lớn this Korean boom.”

Park is also part of Wooga Squad (“I don’t know why we named it that; it just happened”), a friendship group with actor Choi Woo-Shik (who starred as Ki-woo in Parasite), BTS member V, actor Park Hyung-sik & artist Peakboy. “They are really good friends to lớn me & very comforting,” Park says. It appears they help him giảm giá khuyến mãi with the intense pressure on Korean actors and “idols”. “Not only vày we mô tả the same values, thoughts and perspectives on things but we are in similar industries, & so we are able to nói qua advice. We try khổng lồ comfort each other as human beings, because what I am going through could be something that the others might go through in the future.”

I ask him what he does lớn relax. “I haven’t found the solution to that one yet!” he says. I tell him I picked up crocheting to lớn help cope during the early days of the pandemic. A little puzzled at what I am attempting to act out, he turns khổng lồ the interpreter. “Crocheting?” But once he realises what I am recommending, he laughs. “OK, I’ll try it!”