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[Actor Spotlight] Seo Kang-joon

Seo Kang-joon is in the spotlight this week as one of the headliners of OCN’s weekend crime thriller Watcher. OCN is sure picking up some steady traction with their dramas of late — and so has Seo Kang-joon’s acting career.

Seo first debuted in 2013 as a part of the group 5urprise, which was originally as confusing to pronounce as it was to understand the purpose of. All the members were promoted as singers and actors, but really, the group seemed more like a way to add pizzazz and promotion to a bunch of rookie actors. Well, it worked, whether that was a merit of the marketing, or the talent of the members. Seo Kang-joon has been hands-down the most successful thus far, but Lee Tae-hwan (love), Gong Myung, and Kang Tae-ho (currently hilarious in My First, First Love) are pulling a close second. (The “leader” of 5urprise, Yoo Il, seems inactive of late.)

Putting some bit roles aside, Seo Kang-joon’s official drama debut was with a supporting role in the 2013 drama Suspicious Housekeeper. With a good number of side and supporting roles under his belt, and some success in variety as well, Seo Kang-joon gained recognition. His role in 2016’s Cheese in the Trap got him a lot of attention (for better or worse), and after that, his first starring role in Entourage. Since then he’s had several starring roles, and though I haven’t seen many of them, I’ve appreciated their diversity from afar. Watcher is another example of Seo Kang-joon stepping out of his comfort zone by trying out a new genre, so I might have to tune in at some point to see how it shakes out.

Here are some drama highlights from Seo Kang-joon, followed by his full filmography.

 
Sly and Single Again (2014)

I have had a fondness for Lee Min-jung ever since she monkey-climbed on Lee Min-ho’s back in Boys Over Flowers. In Sly and Single Again, she played a flighty divorcee with a revenge scheme against her ex, played by Joo Sang-wook. And because every K-drama rom-com needs a love triangle (and better yet throw in a nice noona romance element, too), Seo Kang-joon played the intern who falls for her, but is obviously destined for heartbreak. Like me, when I finally watched this drama. I didn’t catch it live, and I think it’s safe to say that Seo Kang-joon was a wee bit green at this point, but I’d rather have a green Seo Kang-joon than none at all.

 
Cheese in the Trap (2016)

Poor Cheese in the Trap had soooo much drama around it that the good parts of the drama were overshadowed by it. Among other issues that this webtoon adaptation faced, the biggest one was the sidelining of the male lead played by Park Hae-jin. While I agree with the disagreements on a story level, I was in the strange minority of loving Seo Kang-joon’s second lead character so much that I didn’t mind him taking over the plot. He brought this adorable, almost sloppy, emotion to the drama. Putting on blinders around the rest of the drama, I loved his interactions with the heroine (Kim Go-eun).

 
Watcher (2019)

There’s just too many dramas to keep up with these days, and unfortunately Watcher is one of those that I want to tune into, but ran out of waking hours and eye drops. It sounds like yet another drama of conspiracy and convergence — two of dramaland’s favorite things, especially lately! In the drama, Seo Kang-joon, Han Seok-kyu, and Kim Hyun-joo play our three protagonists. They’re from different backgrounds, but come together after a tragic event changes each of their lives. This is a crime thriller from OCN, though, so when we talk about tragic aftermath and grief, it won’t be heading in the Just Between Lovers direction (sadness). OCN already has a strong crime thriller going with Class of Lies, so why not add another one to the list!

 
Seo Kang-joon’s full filmography:

  • To the Beautiful You (2012) [Drama]
    Seo Kang-joon had a pre-debut bit part as a student in this youth drama that starred Minho, Sulli, and more.

  • After School: Lucky or Not (2013) [Web Drama]
    This mini drama seemed built as the debut vehicle for 5urprise, since they all starred here using their stage names. Kim So-eun starred here too, so now I’m intrigued.

  • Good Doctor (2013) [Drama]
    Joo-won starred as the savant doctor in this drama, and wow I can’t believe it’s been this many years since it aired. Seo Kang-joon had a bit part in Episode 12.

  • Suspicious Housekeeper (2013) [Drama]
    Choi Ji-woo starred as the eponymous main character who had an impact on a family of four children who had recently lost their mother. Seo Kang-joon made his official acting debut with a side role here.

  • Haneuljae’s Murder (2013) [Drama]
    A one-episode special about a Korean War-era romance.

  • My Love, My Bride (2014) [Film]
    Seo Kang-joon had a small role in this Jo Jung-seok and Shin Mina rom-com.

  • Sly and Single Again (2014) [Drama]
    K-drama artifact #48229: The perfect second lead male who is spurned in love for really no good reason (see above).

  • What Happens to My Family? (2014) [Drama]
    Seo Kang-joon had a supporting role in this weekend family drama about a widower and his three children.

  • The Best Future (2014) [Web Drama]
    Seo Kang-joon and Minah starred in this 5-episode web drama about a wannabe idol with stagefright.

  • Hwajeong (2015) [Drama]
    This 50-episode primetime sageuk starred Cha Seung-won and Lee Yeon-hee in a story of “splendid politics.” Seo Kang-joon had a secondary role here, in what was his first sageuk.

  • The Beauty Inside (2015) [Film/Guest Appearance]
    Seo Kang-joon, among many others, played a brief incarnation of the ever-changing lead character in this film.

  • Summer Snow (2015) [Film]
    Omnibus film with a really nice ensemble cast featuring three separate stories about saying (or being unable to say) “I love you.”

  • To Be Continued (2015) [Web Drama]
    Fantagio created another drama to showcase its next boy group (erm, ASTRO), and Kim Sae-ron and the members of 5urprise also appeared here.

  • Cheese in the Trap (2016) [Drama]
    Baek In-ho, sigh. The drama might have gone south for the winter, but there’s nothing I didn’t love about Seo Kang-joon’s performance here (see above).

  • Entertainer (2016) [Drama/Cameo]
    Seo Kang-joon cameoed in Episodes 7 and 8 of this Ji Sung drama that didn’t even remotely capture my attention. 5urprise member Gong Myung had a supporting role, so Seo’s appearance as his friend in the drama makes sense.

  • Entourage (2016) [Drama]
    Thanks to Cheese in the Trap, Seo Kang-joon won the lead in this super-buzzed remake of the American TV show of the same name. And I skipped it for that reason alone.

  • Idol Fever (2017) [Web Drama]
    Another Fantagio web drama vehicle for rising stars. Hey, it seems to work for them.

  • Are You Human Too (2018) [Drama]
    Probably forever known as the lesser of the robot/android K-dramas, since it was out-done by I’m Not a Robot.

  • The Third Charm (2018) [Drama]
    Seo Kang-joon and Esom starred in this rom-com that dug deep into the nature of relationships and followed the couple as they met at three different phases of their lives. I missed this one but felt the pairing was pretty unexpected (which could be good or bad, I guess).

  • Watcher (2019) [Drama]
    Seo’s latest role is his first in the crime thriller genre, and I’m thinking it might be a nice fit for him (see above).

 
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Are You Human Too (2018) [Drama]
Probably forever known as the lesser of the robot/android K-dramas

No, no, no it will forever be known as the robot/android K-drama that gave us Shinnamon Roll. Also, amazing acting by SKJ as the three versions of Shin.

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Shinnamon Roll has been dearly missed. Those were some good days.

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Hear hear! His portrayal of Shinammon Roll and Dog Shin/Original Shin was fantastic- he nailed the roles of a real robot and cranky human alike.

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@cloggie et al,
I also have to strongly disagree with the characterization of AYHT and I am speaking as an INAR fan also. SKJ gave a wonderful performance in AYHT. That was my first SKJ drama and I followed him to THE THIRD CHARM. There he gave a fine performance but was overshadowed a bit by Esom’s awesome performance.
As one of three leads in WATCHER (and not having to carry the whole load) SKJ is giving a us a terrific performance.

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Never forget Nam Shinnamon Toast Crunch, and his disaster human twin. Seo Kang Joon impressed me so much I'm always interested to see what he does next.

(I also really loved him as In Ho, loved his chemistry with Kim Go Eun, and had wicked SLS, but AYHT was where he made the unforgettable impression.)

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Ahhh I wish I was around on db then, I loved his acting in AYHT. His best performance till date.

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You handsome man—thank you for existing 💛

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He's the most beautiful man I've ever seen and this is coming from a girl who barely cares about looks. That said, it wasn't his looks that caught my attention, it was his not-so-striking presence. I had seen him at least twice and when Are You Human came out, I was like, "Ok, I gotta know what this dude's deal is. I never liked him before and I'd like to change that."

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Oh, that's interesting. I just realized I have seen him twice before AYHT came out too. I've liked him in the beginning since the first thing I look for in an actor is, well, their acting skills. If you can't act, your pretty face can only do so much. And so he made a himself a spot in my heart and currently doesn't want to leave. Not that I mind at all.

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Thanks @missvictrix loved the write up on Seo Kang-joon. I agree with you completely on Cheese in the Trap. My thoughts exactly. I'm surprised by all the credits he has for dramas here. I didn't know about a number of these. But I did think Are You Human, Too would be worth mentioning as I was impressed with his dual role in that drama and with the way he endeared himself to viewers as the robot. I, for one, decided then and there that I needed my own robot.

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After School: Lucky or Not... it was cheesy and had some gross humour. Still, I watched to the end because it was short.

I also enjoyed his role as the pianist in CITT, and as the unlucky second lead in CUNNING SINGLE LADY. He’s still improving, but I think he already has an impressive variety of roles under his belt.

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Entourage (2016) [Drama]
Thanks to Cheese in the Trap, Seo Kang-joon won the lead in this super-buzzed remake of the American TV show of the same name. And I skipped it for that reason alone.

Me too, high five!

Seo Kang Joon is one of the finest actors out there but just I can't seem to finish any of his shows.

Cheese in Trap : I have no regrets that this show was overtaken by Seo Kang Joon, which was bad for story but to be honest I was only there for Baek in ho! (okay, I really was invested in the plot and I even watched mam to man for Park hae jin but still this one I was watching for him)

Third charm: I totally loved the pairing but then they went for the overkill, maybe I should pick it up again.

Robot cinnamon Shinamon roll: Believe it or not, I made three mathematicians catch the premiere with me, next to leaning tower of Pisa! But I could never finish it! alas!

Watcher: ok, ok I am trying my best to watch it! Can I please finish one of his shows.... *stares into blankness then realizes it maybe better to stare at his face in watcher*.

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I want to watch his drama too. LOL!!!! However, I might try Watcher...

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The third charm is not convenient love story. So I understand the unappeal of majority audience. It's start silly and childish but end up abit heavy and unusual direction but handle with more mature approach in towards the end.

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I actually don't really remember why I did not finish third charm, it was totally my kind of show, where they learn to grow in relationships but then I did not continue... hmm... maybe it has better chances than watcher being finished ....

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Alot of people abit dissapoint in what the show turnout. So you might be cursing for continuing. Haha. Watcher is getting so good. But countless investigation Might turn some people off.

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He is getting so good in the latest episode 9 of watcher, given his grieve is look more apparent. He might be dehydrate after this show end if he keep that kind of acting till the end Lol.. The writer is abit cruel to his character.

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I just finished watching it! He was so good.

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His acting is getting more mature and fit to the genre as the show progress and his character gets something work to do. Man i get chils watching his character progression! The way he act opposite someone like Han Suk Kyu. Bow to your progression, Kang Jun. Hopefully his char won't blindly getting revenge.

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You know... The first thing I watched him in, was After School: Lucky or Not, which is like the weirdest drama ever and definitely on crack, and I thought he was cute. And then, like L, everyone seemed to only talk about how bad he was at acting. And then I watched Are You Human Too, which he did well in. And then that show slid sideways.
I didn't realize he'd been in so much though, wow.

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Lol after school lucky or not. It's so funny and weird. I think he get choosen as Baek In Ho due to this role, as he is so convincing as the rough guy.

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OMG I can't even begin to describe how wacky After School is. I wish I can gauge the thing right out of my brain.

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Looking at his portfolio now and the drama he was in, especially Are You Human Too, The Third Charm, and Watcher, Seo Kang-joon really improved on his craft!

But he will always be my Shinnamon Roll. He was a fantastic robot.

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Baek In-ho was my favorite character in Cheese in the Trap. Let’s just say I’m glad I wasn’t on DB at the time. I liked him in The Third Charm, and I love him in Watcher.

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Ah, good old, pretty Kang Joon. Well known in my Book of Faces as the guy who rarely wins in the game of love.
But does anyone know where I can have access to Haneuljae’s Murder? [eng sub preferably heh] I've been searching and searching but it doesn't seem to exist.

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He is becoming one of my favourite actors! The first drama of his that I watched was AYHT. I had no expectations with him and thought he was just a pretty face but he impressed me so much there. He was great in The Third Charm too (even though I didn’t finish it) and now he is playing a completely different character in Watcher and nailing it. I am already looking forward to his future works!!

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I've only seen him in The Third Charm, Cunning Single Lady and Cheese in the Trap, but he's definitely very charismatic. He also has the thirstiest fan girls I've ever seen of any K-drama actor. When The Third Charm was airing, his fangirls were writing the nastiest things about Esom because her character wasn't treating his character well.

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Really?? I had no idea. That's so horrible. It must have made filming pretty hard. But then again, it wasn't just Esom. The entire drama wasn't treating any of the characters very well. I dropped The Third Charm because it so unexpectedly became depressing.

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Yeah, they used to say she was "too ugly for oppa", etc. Like really, this girl is ugly? Here's a photoshoot they did for Cosmopolitan together and I think they both look pretty damn good.
https://mufalo.tumblr.com/post/178290093176/seo-kang-joon-and-esom-for-cosmopolitan

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Who in their right minds would call Esom ugly? *facepalm There must be something wrong with their comprehension haha

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To My Surprise, Esom and SKJ still in touch after the third charm. Though I'm not that surprise given watching their BTS, I was giggling watching them having fun. They look have good chemistry off screen.

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One of my favorite actors, perfect combination of good looks and talent. My favorite role is Are you human too? his most complex role so far, I believe. I am also watching Watcher for him, it's a good show but a little bit confusing.

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Well, I liked Are you Human too better than I am not a Robot. I am not really a fan of any of the actors in both the dramas but I could understand and AYHT's plot better and it raised deep questions too.
Was it overshadowed by INAR? I didn't know that.

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I started to know him as this quiet and very handsome roommate of Jackson from GOT7 in the variety show of the same name. I was wondering what had happened to him, because I couldn't see him in anything and there he was in CITT and I loved his character in webtoon and he did make an impressive entry to the head of netizens to not to be forgotten so easily. I loved Third Charm because it was simply life, what an impressive change to the repetitive plots of k-drama. He throws himself into the deep or shallow water and deals with it. He's still very young, it's nice to see an actor to grow in each of his works.

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I watch him in the first time in Suspicious Housekeeper, but his role was small. After that, as second lead male in What Happens to My Family (with Kim Hyun Joo too) and he had a great chemistry with Nam Ji Hyun.

But my favourite role was in Cheese in The Trap. I never was a big fan of the ML in the drama and in the manga. I found the way he acted made the FL to be more lonely. He always takes care of her issue in secret and let her handle it in front of people. When Baek In Ho always was here and helping her. This character had a better chemistry with her family too. Seo Kang Joon was really great and his chemistry with Kim Go Eun was perfect.

Entourage had bad reviews but it wasn't his fault... The drama was just bad, it was not a kind for Kdramas.
In Are You Human Too, it was frustrating to see this drama spoiled by the story when the actors were great and the production too. SKJ killed all his roles in this drama.

Third Charm was really great. The both actors were great in every steps of their story.

I really like him as an actor and I don't think he deserved it all the hate when some idol actors are worse and didn't improve at all...

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People tend to forget that when writing is bad and direction sucks it's not actually actor's fault. The hate from CITT made him a big favour because he is not classified as flowerboy who gets the roles just for his looks.

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KGE and SKJ chemistry in CITT makes me wish somehow they will reunited in their future works as the leads in a decent project. just my wishfull.It's not I ship them in real life. Though. Ha2

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I did a little squee when i saw SKJ name in actor spotlight. That hazel eyes melt my heart.

I was trully impressed by his acting in AYHT. I def don't see it as a lesser drama than INAR. With just a subtle change in eye gaze, a smirk in the face, the tenseness in the body, and he could transformed himself effortlessly from robot-Shin to human-Shin. Eventhough he didn't have the help of wardrobes/styling to help him differentiate the two characters, I was never confused on which characters he played at any given time.

I maybe in the minority that LOVE the Third Charm. I love the cute start, the passionate middle, and the mellow ending equally. SKJ nailed all three parts and i can feel his character growth going through them.

I'm not starting Watcher yet because i dont think i can bear waiting for new episodes every week. I'm patiently waiting for the weekend when i can binge them all at once (salivating just for the thought of it... )

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He has improved so much. He was so annoying in Sly and Single again. He was nearly unwatchable in Entourage. I didn't care for the premise of Are you Human too?. He was excellent in Third Charm and I'm enjoying him in Watcher. I like his progression and character choices. He is also only 25, I like it.

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I loved Baek In Ho more than Yoo Jung and in my opinion, SKJ stole the show from Park Hae Jin. Then the fiasco happened and after reading terrible reviews of Entourage and criticisms of his acting there, I wondered if his performance in CITT was a fluke. I didn't watched SKJ in another drama until The Third Charm came along but I dropped it quickly because I didn't like the female lead character.

When Are You Human Too was airing, I saw that people loved SKJ's role as the robot. I didn't watch it then because robot romance wasn't my thing. It was only when I was very dissatisfied with Yeo Jin Goo's portrayal of a human like robot in the recent My Absolute Boyfriend that prompted me to check out SKJ's portrayal for comparison. I was superbly impressed! There were these very subtle yet different characteristics that SKJ gave to Nam Shin III which made his robot role so believable. Seo Kang Joon's facial features also somehow gave him that perfect and flawless look that seemed unreal and therefore not human.

He is so different in Watcher, there was no trace of Nam Shin(human or robot) in Young Koon.

I really like that he's not just another pretty face, he's definitely talented and taking on diverse roles.

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wonderng about the CITT thing. i was always wary bc i didnt know what happened there and i didn't want to start liking him if he's an asshole lol. but yea, he's not bad at all. shown some growth. happy for him

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I can't believe no one has mentioned what a cute little puppy he is on Roommate! He seems like such a sweet dingbat and I absolutely fell in love with him on that.

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watcher is too exhausting. but he's doing a pretty good job

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I discovered SKJ in CITT and I only watched it in order to know what would happen to Baek In Ho. I thought he was talented since he made me care about that impulsive but earnest boy.
Later I checked AYHT because of him and loved it to bits. The story was thought-provoking and SKJ was pitch perfect in the dual role, I couldn't ask for more. Like others, I think AYHT is a turning point for his career and a great show. Maybe the chosen topic is not a favorite for the masses, but I disagree it should be labeled as "lesser" than anything.
Now I'm following Watcher and SKJ is great in it. It seems he likes to choose challenging roles to prove himself. So proud of him! Hope he gets recognition for his hard work. :D

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I'd like to see him in a swashbuckling sageuk role someday and widen his genre horizons.

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I first saw him in CITT. His acting was good and I thought the controversy was unfair to him. As a a rookie actor he didn't have the power to change the script or screen time. I tried watching Entourage but there was little plot and the characters were all unlikeable. The problem was the script, not his acting. Watched half of SP, acting was OK, didn't finish because Dramafever ceased to exist. Loved him in AYHT, the duel roles really let him show his skill. Watcher is a roller coaster, fast paced plot and great acting. I'm happy he is doing so well among veteran actors. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

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Whatever drama SeokangJoon is or are, I really like them all, for he delivers well his acting , he's enjoyable to watch, he has this enigmatic charisma.

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