[Actor Spotlight] Park Bo-gum
This week the actor spotlight falls on “the nation’s little brother,” Park Bo-gum. Currently starring in tvN’s Boyfriend alongside Song Hye-gyo, Park Bo-gum’s career continues on the upswing with another critical success, and an ever-growing fandom.
Born in 1993 in Seoul, South Korea, Park Bo-gum focused on music for many years until he turned his talents to acting. He made his debut in 2011 with a small role in the film Blind. He then built his resume with a wide range of supporting roles, gaining credibility and attracting notice. In 2013 he won a leading role in weekend drama Wonderful Mama, but 2015 was really Park Bo-gum’s breakout year. 2015 started with I Remember You, and ended with Answer Me 1988. Catapulted into fame after the huge success of both Answer Me 1988 and Moonlight Drawn By Clouds the following year, Park Bo-gum quickly became a household name and was given the nation’s little brother nickname.
Here are some dramaland highlights from Park Bo-gum, followed by his full filmography.
I Remember You (2015)
I watched I Remember You after I saw Answer Me 1988, and something felt wrong with the universe when Park Bo-gum didn’t play the smiling puppy. Did he even smile in thus drama at all? It wasn’t exactly lighthearted: Seo In-gook starred as a genius profiler with a pretty disturbing and secret past. There were a lot of great reveals and twists in the drama that I wouldn’t want to spoil, but suffice it to say that I Remember You makes the most of Seo In-gook’s and Park Bo-gum’s talents on the screen. Add Choi Won-young to the mix, and you have yourself a cast that can pretty much carry any story through the requisite layers of darkness (creepy basements, serial killings, etc.), and into light.
Answer Me 1988 (2015)
Ah, Answer Me 1988. This installment of the Answer Me series had my heart in a giant knot from start to finish. The story followed a group of families in yes, 1988, and Park Bo-gum was a great addition to the strong ensemble cast. He played one of the neighborhood teens who was a quiet, reserved, baduk-playing genius. Despite really enjoying Park Bo-gum’s portrayal of this character, with all his softness and spaciness and smiles, I think I’m still recovering from the first-lead-turned-second-lead-syndrome that this drama caused me (and so many others). The series is famous for telling a story of young teens, and then teasing out which characters wound up as couples. In Answer Me 1988, it did not go quite as expected. You were either really happy, or really unhappy. It’s unfair to make such a fantastic drama with so much depth just about the love line between two teens, though — the story was wonderfully rich, and no character was left unexplored.
Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (2016)
One of the biggest dramas of 2016, KBS sageuk Moonlight Drawn By Clouds topped 20% ratings and created “Moonlight syndrome” (the obsession that can sometimes occur when a drama hits all the right notes and becomes a pop culture sensation). Adapted from a serialized novel of the same name, the story followed the Crown Prince Yi Yeong, played by Park Bo-gum, as he came of age. Co-star Kim Yoo-jung, in a great transition role, played the girl brought up as a boy, who later became a “eunuch” at the court. In addition to having two leads that became even more popular in the wake of this drama, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds also had a strong supporting cast of newer actors like Chae Soo-bin and Kwak Dong-yeon, whose careers have been on the rise since. Every now and then there is a huge, beloved drama that I totally miss the boat on, and Moonlight was one of them. Half the fun is watching it live and getting immersed in the fandom, but I think Moonlight Drawn By Clouds is a soon-to-be K-drama classic that will bear the test of time (and some belated viewing!).
tvN’s currently airing noona romance Boyfriend has only a few more weeks left in its run. It has been consistent with not only its ratings, but with the pace of the storytelling. It’s deliberate and steady and purposefully told. For a story about a woman with a dating scandal and a chaebol organization at her throat, this drama somehow manages (at least so far) to keep everything even keel. While I sometimes find it slow, I will not say it’s without quality, and the pace and direction are a huge part of that (just contrast it to the high-rated makjang extravaganza of An Empress’s Dignity). Park Bo-gum plays the boyfriend in Boyfriend, and his character, though gentle as a mouse, is shaking up the chaebol world around him. When this drama first started I wasn’t sure what sort of a character he would play — honestly, I expected him to be a little more edgy/dangerous/swoony. Instead, Park Bo-gum plays a sweet and smiling lamb who becomes a calming shelter for Song Hye-gyo’s heroine. I love that this story is about character, class, and collectedness winning over jealousy, greed, and more greed, and I hope it stays as strong in its final weeks. Kill them with that innocent smile, Bo-gum.
Park Bo-gum’s full filmography:
- Blind (2011) [Film]
Crime action thriller starring Kim Ha-neul and Yoo Seung-ho where Park Bo-gum debuted in a small role as the heroine’s brother.
- Runway Cop (2012) [Film]
Park Bo-gum plays the younger version of star Kang Ji-hwan in this action/cop comedy.
- Hero (2012) [Drama]
Park Bo-gum has a side role in this futuristic OCN crime drama starring Yang Dong-geun (a.k.a, YDG when he’s rapping).
- Still Picture (2012) [Drama]
One-episode KBS drama special about a professor who re-meets his first love later in life. Park Bo-gum plays the young version of hero Nam Goong-min (I don’t quite get the age difference with this one).
- Gaksital (2012) [Drama]
Manhwa turned drama starring Joo Won in this story of a vigilante freedom fighter in 1930s occupied Korea. Park Bo-gum has a small role in three episodes. This is one of those dramas that I know is well-loved, but I somehow missed.
- Wonderful Mama (2013) [Drama]
Park Bo-gum plays the maknae son of wonderful mama Bae Jung-ok who rose from obscurity to become a self-made loan shark in this weekend drama.
- Wonderful Days (2014) [Drama]
Park Bo-gum plays the younger version of the Lee Seo-jin in this story of a successful prosecutor who tries to reconnect with his past friends and family. Park Bo-gum was nominated for a Best New Actor award — hooray for gaining recognition through the “younger version of the hero” channel.
- Cantabile Tomorrow (2014) [Drama]
Much-hyped drama version of the Japanese manga Nodame Cantabile led by Joo Won, Shim Eun-kyung, Park Bo-gum, and Go Kyung-pyo. Park was reunited on screen with Joo Won again, and would star with Go Kyung-pyo the following year in two more productions.
- A Hard Day (2014) [Film]
Edgy crime thriller starring Lee Seon-kyun and Jo Jin-woong that grew from word of mouth and had great critical reception.
- The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014) [Film]
Park Bo-gum has a supporting role in this high-grossing film about the legendary Joseon general Lee Soon-shin.
- Twinkle-Twinkle Pitter-Patter (2014) [Film]
Short film with Park Bo-gum and Lee Chung-ah. (I can see that pairing working quite nicely).
- Coin Locker Girl (2015) [Film]
Kim Hye-soo and Kim Go-eun headline this film about corruption, loan sharks, organ trafficking, crime rings, and more… seems to be missing fairy dust and sunshine. Park Bo-gum and Go Kyung-pyo are both here again in supporting roles – and Park was nominated for Best New Actor once again.
- The Producers (2015) [Drama/Cameo]
Cameo as himself in this meta-heavy drama starring Kim Soo-hyun, Cha Tae-hyun, and Gong Hyo-jin.
- I Remember You (2015) [Drama]
Park Bo-gum takes on a complex role in this Seo In-gook and Jang Nara drama about psychopaths and family secrets.
- Answer Me 1988 (2015) [Drama]
Bo-gum’s famous role as Taek, the genius baduk player. Team Taek or Team Jung-hwan? (see above).
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (2016) [Drama]
Big coming-of-age sageuk hit starring Park Bo-gum and and Kim Yoo-jung (see above).
- Boyfriend (2018) [Drama]
This drama should be given the subtitle: A Ode to Bo-gum’s Smile (see above).
- Boyfriend: Episode 1
- Fate turns to love in Cuba for Song Hye-gyo and Park Bo-gum
- Park Bo-gum bows out of Hong sisters fantasy rom-com Hwayugi
- Park Bo-gum, Lee Byung-heon up for potential matchup in Ansi City
- Park Bo-gum, grateful as ever
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 1
- The prince shakes his stuff for Moonlight Drawn By Clouds teaser
- Youths Over Flowers in Africa: Episode 1