[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).
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).
- Storms and danger lie ahead in OCN’s Watcher
- Tied by tragedy and putting aside differences in OCN’s Watcher
- The Third Charm: Episode 1
- Seo Kang-joon and Esom’s seasons of love in The Third Charm
- Are You Human Too: Episodes 1-2
- Seo Kang-joon takes the lead in webtoon adaptation Between Us
- Seo Kang-joon confirms webtoon adaptation From A Distance, A Green Spring
- Entourage: Episode 1