Park Seo Joon open to do more than acting

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Park Seo Joon open to do more than acting
The 32-year-old actor behind the hit K-dramas Itaewon Class and What’s Wrong Secretary Kim interacts with his Filipino fans.
STAR / File

South Korean star Park Seo Joon bonded virtually with his Filipino fans over the weekend via Smart Hallyu Hangouts, where he answered some of the biggest questions they had about his career and personal life.

The 32-year-old actor behind the hit K-dramas Itaewon Class and What’s Wrong Secretary Kim spent two hours of his Saturday afternoon in the event presented by local mobile services provider Smart with pan-regional streaming service Viu, despite still feeling jet-lagged from a two-month shoot in England.

One of the queries that started off the virtual meet was whether he noticed that his popularity has increased especially overseas, given his recent international projects such as the Captain Marvel movie sequel alongside Brie Larson.

He said that “physically, it’s kind of hard to feel that, with the times being what they are right now.”

Seo Joon added that he misses being here in the Philippines because in the last fan meeting at MOA Arena in 2019, so many fans came out to see him. But since he doesn’t go out that much either “the next best thing, again, is to do an online fan meeting so (I’m) so happy that we’re all doing this right now.”

The Park Seo Joon fan meet was the latest in the Smart Hallyu Hangouts, a series of virtual events that lets Filipino fans interact with their favorite Korean celebrities. Following the successful hangouts with Smart endorsers Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin last July, it was Seo Joon’s turn at the Hallyu Hangouts, which aired live and exclusively on GigaPlay App last Nov. 13. Seo Joon was introduced last year as the international celebrity endorser for Smart’s Giga K-Video data promo in collaboration with Viu.

During the fan meet, the actor gamely addressed the “most searched questions” about him on the Internet.

When asked about the “secret” to being an effective action star, he said, “In a show, it’s really more like choreography, so you get to practice that.” He noted that with help of good editing, action scenes work out pretty well for him. He also thinks that since in real life, he likes to be active and exercise, he is drawn to roles that can also be physically demanding.

Fans were likewise interested to know more about his language skills, as he apparently made it to several lists of Top 10 Korean stars who are good at foreign languages. He particularly impressed his followers when he communicated in Spanish in the Korean reality show, Youn’s Kitchen 2, in 2018.

He shared he was told to fly to Spain at the last minute. He used the short time prior to the trip to learn as much conversational Spanish as he could because he didn’t want to be a burden to fellow castmates. Nevertheless, he admitted he’s “not really super fluent in any of these languages” and that what audiences saw in the show “was really like a mode of survival” for him.

The topic of his being considered a style icon was also raised by fans. Fashion used to be a huge area of interest for him, but not so much anymore. Currently, he wears just what he wants to wear, including casual clothes during his private time. Sometimes, he enlists the help of a stylist and dresses up according to occasion over what’s trendy. “It’s actually like good etiquette to dress up appropriately for those occasions,” he said, adding that he makes sure to pack a suit whenever he travels abroad.

Seo Joon had the chance to talk about a selfie he took in Boracay that went viral. “This was a few years ago,” he said, recalling that he did a photoshoot and enjoyed himself at the island-paradise. He noted that Boracay is a “very well-known” destination in Korea so he was glad to be there and see the place for himself.

Meanwhile, Seo Joon shared never-before-heard stories behind the scenes of some of his most popular works.

For Fight For My Way (2017), a memory that stood out was that the show was shot in Busan. He had to commute back and forth from Busan and Seoul just to shoot the series.

With She Was Pretty (2015), another romantic comedy, he confirmed that they had a lot of bloopers on the set. In a fan-favorite scene where co-star Siwon touched his butt, it was so unexpected that he recalled how much he had to suppress his laughter just to pull it off. He added, “I don’t try to make people laugh because I find that when I do that it’s not funny, but I am the type who is constantly observing my surroundings because I want to make it enjoyable and fun for the people who are working with me.”

In What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? (2018), he said that his character was the exact opposite of his own personality and that portraying a narcissistic boss in the series was actually very exciting for him.

What’s next for Seo Joon? Among his upcoming films are Dream, for which he will be returning to England to finish filming with IU, and Concrete Utopia, which was shot before he left for England.

Before, when choosing his next film or series, he used to look for character-driven roles. Right now, he still goes for such roles, but also takes into consideration if the project is entertaining enough for the viewers. He also believes it’s important to think of the message it’s trying to bring across to the audiences.

On the personal front, he said he has many goals but he thinks “maybe that can all be summed up in trying to be a good person.” Asked what his idea of a good person is, Seo Joon stressed that “it’s someone who does his work well. It’s someone who is a good influence because he is not blind to the fact that his fans are influenced by him, and so he wants to make sure that he is a good influence to the fans.”

When it comes to his family life, he shared he just wants to be a good son. He even revealed that he is presently staying with his parents.

When asked what his job would be if he weren’t an actor, he said there really was no answer because since he was young, he always wanted to be one. But these days, he does think that maybe being an actor is not a lifetime job.

“There’s a saying that when you do something for 10 years, you become an expert at it,” he said. “I have more years to live after those 10 years and I should be open to doing other things.”

He clarified that it doesn’t mean he is an expert at acting, but his doors are definitely open to other possibilities.

One of the most fun and funny parts during the virtual hangout was when Seo Joon read the messages of his fans — from one asking him out on a date, to another throwing pick-up lines at him.

As one fan after another expressed love and appreciation, the actor responded that he can’t verbally express everything that he feels because he gets shy when he hears things like this. But he wants his fans to know that it is because of “your love and support that all of this is possible, and it’s difficult enough when you are working for your personal gain alone.”

Having all of them pour out this much affection on him is what gets him going, Seo Joon said.

“I’m really not anything, so when I hear from fans that this is the effect that I have on them, it moves me very much.”

(The Hallyu Hangout with Park Seo Joon will be available on Smart’s GigaPlay App under the video-on-demand section.)

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