Here's How Park Seo Joon Became Everybody's Favorite Leading Man

Here's a breakdown of Seo Joon oppa's career, from Dream High 2 to Itaewon Class.

  • Alyssa Kristine Bernardo


Image Source: @psjuniverse

As a K-drama addict, I witnessed Park Seo Joon’s meteoric rise to fame, from his humble beginnings as a supporting character to his ascent to leading man status. He may not have been acting for as long as our favorite oppas like Gong Yoo, Lee Dong Wook, or Hyun Bin, but his talent and good looks placed him in the same caliber as these amazing actors. As a testament to this, several Filipino celebrities expressed admiration for PSJ including Lovi Poe, Maja Salvador, Megan Young, Jolina Magdangal, and Denise Laurel.

Here, we break down his rise to fame through the films and dramas that made him everyone's favorite leading man.

Beginnings: Dream High 2

Image Source:@aboutpsj

Unlike most actors and K-pop idols, Park Seo Joon opted to enlist for his mandatory military service when he was 19 years old. This proved to be a very effective strategy because by the time he was discharged, he was old enough to land memorable roles but young enough to play high school characters in dramas and films.

His first acting stint in 2011 showed just how intense an actor Park Seo Joon could be. He starred in a music video by Bang Yong Guk of B.A.P., featuring Yang Yeo Sop of Beast (now known as Highlight). In that same year, he also appeared as an extra in the film Perfect Game, which was about South Korea’s top pitchers in the 1980s. He may have played small, bits but he made the most out of each role.

He got his big breakthrough in the 2012 drama Dream High 2 which, as you may have guessed, is a sequel of the coming-of-age series that launched the careers of Kim Soo Hyun and well-known K-pop idols like IU, Miss A’s Suzy, 2PM’s Wooyoung and Taecyon, and T-ara’s Eun Jung. In Dream High 2, he played the role of Si Woo, a student of Kirin High School and an idol in the making. He may just be a supporting character in the series but he completed an A-list casting which included Kang Sora, and K-pop legends Ailee, Sistar’s Hyolyn, GOT7’s JB and Jinyoung, 2AM’s Jinwoon, and T-ara’s Jiyeon. ICYMI, he danced and sang like a legit K-pop idol in that series.

This acting stint was quickly followed by a memorable role in the KBS sitcom Shut Up Family where he met Choi Woo-shik who eventually became a really good friend of his. They reunited recently in the Oscar-winning film Parasite where PSJ played the role of Woosik’s friend. (Oh and BTW, Woosik and PSJ are both part of the famous Wooga Squad with Peakboy, Park Hyung-Sik and V of BTS.) Between 2012 and 2014, he played various supporting roles and cameos in dramas such as Pot Of Gold, One Warm Word, A Witch’s Love, and Mama. He also became a host of Music Bank for three years.

Rise: Kill Me, Heal Me and She Was Pretty

Image Source: @killmehealme

It wasn’t until 2015 that Park Seo Joon got to be a lead actor in a drama series. He gained attention and received a lot of praise for his very convincing portrayal of Hwang Jung Eum’s annoying twin brother in Kill Me, Heal Me. In that same year, the two actors reunited for She Was Pretty, where Park Seo Joon got to play Hwang Jun Eum’s leading man. Both dramas ended up with high ratings and led PSJ to receive several awards by the end of the year. He also starred in the films The Chronicles Of Evil and The Beauty Inside.

She Was Pretty basically cemented Park Seo Joon’s leading man status in the land of K-drama. Between 2016 and 2017, he got to play amazing lead roles that showed his versatility as an actor. In the sageuk drama Hwarang, he played a warrior in the Kingdom of Silla opposite Go Ara and Park Hyung-sik. The drama also featured V of BTS, Choi Minho of Shinee, Do Ji Han, and Jo Yoon Woo. This drama was quickly followed by Fight For My Way where he played an MMA fighter and a childhood friend of Kim Ji Won’s character. He also played the lead role in Midnight Runner with Kang Haneul.

Peak: What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim and Itaewon Class

Image Source: @junghana_ss

From here on, PSJ’s shot to fame with back to back dramas and films that showcased his unique leading man charm. He starred as an arrogant chaebol opposite Park Minyoung in the TV adaptation of popular South Korean webtoon What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim. In 2019, he appeared in two films that were released back-to-back: “Parasite” and “The Divine Fury.” His latest drama is the JTBC hit “Itaewon Class” which was also based on a webtoon of the same title. In it he played the role of Park Saeroyi, an ex-convict turned CEO of a bar-restaurant franchise that started in Itaewon, Seoul. The drama ended in March of this year and became the 7th highest-rated drama in Korean cable TV history.

Image Source: Facebook

It seems that PSJ has a lot of surprises up his sleeve. Apart from becoming the newest brand ambassador of Smart, he’s also gearing up (and bulking up) for his 2021 movie “Dream” where he will be playing a soccer player opposite “Dream High” alumna, IU. It was also recently announced that he will be starring in a new drama called “Mount Jiri” as Jun Ji Hyun’s leading man.

This is just the beginning for Park Seo Joon. With his talent, humor, good heart, and charisma, we can assume he’s in for bigger projects in the future. While we’re waiting for his upcoming projects, why not check out his past work? You can watch PSJ’s dramas, films and more with Smart Giga K-Video! Enjoy a Viu Premium Subscription, plus 1GB access to Viu and YouTube every day. Be the first to watch your favorite Korean content, with no ads and unlimited downloads. It's really your K-Life, made better!