The year is 2020. It’s been nine years since Park Yong-kyu, more popularly known as Park Seo-joon, officially debuted as an actor in South Korea. Since appearing in his first onscreen project in 2011, the now-31-year-old’s slow yet steady rise to fame is showing no signs of stopping—largely due to his brilliant talent, irresistible charm, undeniable good looks, and great personality; not to mention, his humble heart. It may sound like we’re overhyping, but we’re sure everyone agrees!
Despite debuting late compared to his contemporaries, Park Seo-joon’s solid body of work already includes a number of highly successful films, dramas, variety shows, commercial films, singles, music videos, and more. He’s also lauded for his charity work, having made donations and lending his voice to several causes in South Korea. When off-duty, he shares regular glimpses of his life on Instagram where he’s one of the most followed among Korean many actors on the platform, as well as on his own YouTube channel managed by his agency Awesome Entertainment.
While he seems to be good at everything, from doing double unders for KRW10,000 to making our hearts flutter, and just looking so damn fine, acting remains to be his biggest passion. In fact, his recent performance as Itaewon Class’s Park Sae-roy earned him a Best Actor nomination in the 56th Baeksang Arts Awards.
We’re excited to see whether he’s taking home the nod, so we’re tracing back to where it all began for South Korea’s “Master of Romantic Comedy” with a look at his onscreen evolution so far!
Park Seo-Joon Evolution
Park Seo-Joon Evolution
By Metro.StyleDecember 11 2023, 8:11 AM
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At less than a year old, Park Seo-joon already knows how to turn on the charm for the camera with those bright eyes and chubby cheeks!
Unlike most Korean male leads and idols, Park Seo-joon debuted in his early 20s as he enlisted for the country’s mandatory military service at 19. Even then, he already had the makings of the Seo-joon we know and love: the subtly tinted hair, those expressive eyebrows, and, yes, those lips.
(1/2) His first project was released in 2011 where he starred as the other half of a troubled couple in Bak Yong Guk’s “I Remember.” The four-minute music video for the B.A.P. rapper’s solo single introduced us to a familiar mushroom cut, a style we’d still see him wearing a few more years into his career.
(1/2) The next year, he officially debuted in ‘Dream High 2’ with high expectations. He played the role of Lee Si-woo in the popular teen musical drama where he starred alongside GOT7’s JB and SISTAR’s Hyorin.
He then went on to play Cha Seo-joon in the 50-episode family drama ‘Shut Up Family’ where the mushroom cut came back with a vengeance. (Trivia: This is also the drama to credit for his friendship with actor Choi Woo-shik!)
(1/2) A very different Park Seo-joon then greeted fans in ‘Pots of Gold’ with Park Hyun-tae, a spoiled young man hailing from a rich family, and a newly married young man. Here, he debuts a cleaner look with a more tapered cut and a bit of hair color.
Around this time, Park Seo-joon was announced as the MC for ‘Music Bank’ alongside SISTAR’s Bora. At the press conference for what will be a two-year stint for him, he sported a modern take to the ’shroom cut of his past two years.
Park Seo-joon then starred in one episode of MBC’s Drama Festival, playing the male lead Kim Him-chan. While the drama received lackluster reviews, Seo-joon shined as usual with an excellent performance and a bit of a blowout to boot.
His next role in a drama was Song Min-soo in ‘One Warm Word,’ the show that first earned him a Best New Actor nom at the 50th Baeksang Arts Awards. The 20-episode series featured more of a mature Park Seo-joon with a cleaner, brushed-up ’do. Plus, he’s flawless as ever!
Park Seo-joon then starred opposite Uhm Jung-hwa as 20-something Yoon Dong-ha who falls in love with ‘noona’ (older woman) Ban Ji-yeon in ‘A Witch’s Romance.’ Here, the actor proved his mettle as he held his own alongside one of South Korea’s most influential female artists. He looked great doing it, too, showing off a fresh new cut and color that defined Dong-ha apart from his previous roles.
Nominated for Best New Actor at the 50th Baeksang Arts Awards for his role in ‘One Warm Word,’ Park Seo-joon looked every bit the dapper, budding actor on the red carpet with a casual flip to his sleek side-parted hair. He didn’t win, but we thought he won the red carpet anyway!
(1/2) It was going to be a big year for Park Seo-joon being cast as the second lead role in ‘Kill Me, Heal Me.’ In this breakthrough, he proved just how good-looking he is as he pulled off a middle part and highlights for his character Oh Ri-on.
No, that’s no Park Sae-roy and his ‘appa.’ That’s actually Son Hyun-joo as Choi Chang-shik and Park Seo-joon as Cha Dong-jae in ‘The Chronicles of Evil.’ In his first film since debuting, Seo-joon played a rookie detective and looked every bit the part with his mushroom cut—if only a straightened version of it!
A Korean adaptation of an American film, ‘Beauty Inside’ is about Woo-jin—a man who wakes up in a different body every day. He can be a man, woman, young, or old, and he was also Park Seo-joon at some point in the story. We can still see tinges of his colored hair from ‘A Witch’s Romance’ and ‘Kill Me, Heal Me’ and a subtly parted version of his favorite ’shroom cut.
(1/2) Park Seo-joon, looking better and better as the years go by, had another breakthrough in ‘She Was Pretty’ where he transformed into the tough but lovable Ji Seong-joon. At the script reading with the rest of the cast, he flaunted his glowing, poreless skin and flawless comb-over with subtle highlights in preparation for his role as Most Magazine’s youngest deputy chief editor in Korea.
By year’s end, the actor celebrated big wins at the MBC Drama Awards where he took home several awards including an Excellence Award (Actor in a Mini-Series) for ‘Kill Me, Heal Me’ and ‘She Was Pretty,’ a Popularity Award (Actor), and Best Couple Award with Ji Sung for their hilarious “love story” in ‘Kill Me, Heal Me.’ He looked every bit an award winner on the red carpet with slicked back hair and a three-piece suit.
As ‘Hwarang’ hit TV screens in South Korea, Park Seo-joon—joined by co-stars Park Hyung-sik and Choi Min-ho—also guested in a two-part “Flower Boy Winter Camp” special that showed off the fun side of him we know and love. We love the cute crew cut he had going on here, too!
For most of 2016, the actor spent filming his first historical drama. Donning a wig for his role as Moo-myung and Kim Sun-woo, a long-haired Park Seo-joon filmed the KBS series between March to September 2016 and basically proved to us all that he looks good no matter what period in time he’s in.
(1/2) After filming for ‘Hwarang’ wrapped later in the year, Park Seo-joon hied off to Los Angeles for a much-deserved breather and shocked everyone with his most drastic transformation yet: He went blonde.
(2/2) He revealed in one of his best interviews to date, “I know people talk a lot about my hair. I don’t exactly know what kind of image they have of me, but I never decide to do anything because of other people’s opinion of me.” Yes, king!
As December rolled around and ‘Hwarang’ was set to hit screens in South Korea, however, Park Seo-joon showed up at the press conference alongside now-good friend Park Hyung-sik without his blonde locks. In its place was a shorter ’do, cropped into an Ivy League cut that’s just...yes.
Park Seo-joon started a successful year with the much talked-about ‘Fight For My Way’ where he played every struggling young adult trying to make it in the world as Ko Dong-man. His cropped hair has grown a bit, tapered but still textured to keep it as casually cool as Dong-man is.
After ‘Fight for my Way,’ Park Seo-joon started his appearances in film with a cameo in the Kim Soo-hyun-starrer ‘Real.’ While you can barely see him and his split-second appearance, the gritty gunman he portrayed was just a taste of what more was coming for him in 2017!
‘Midnight Runners’ received high praises throughout its run in theaters and earned Park Seo-joon his first major Best New Actor award in film. At the red carpet for the 54th Daejong Film Awards, he looked fine and flawless without a hair out of place!
37th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards (2017)
A month later, he took home another Best New Actor award from the Korean Association of Film Critics for his performance in ‘Midnight Runners.’ He’s growing his hair out for his next role at this point, and we can see the beginnings of the floppy bangs of his next iconic character!
After making the rounds of the awards circuit, Park Seo-joon was next seen starring as a part-timer in the second season of ‘Youn’s Kitchen’ shot in picturesque Garachico, Spain. He studied a bit of Spanish and learned the ropes of working in a restaurant for the two-week stay during filming. While at work, he turned customers’ heads with his clean-cut, brushed-up hair and sweet smile.
The actor next made a special appearance in the So Ji-sub and Son Ye-jin top-billed film ‘Be With You’ as the grown-up son of the couple. Despite recently turning 29 (in Korean age), he somehow looks just as young as he did when first debuted! Is it the mushroom ’do? Maybe.
(1/2) Park Seo-joon then flexed his rom-com muscles to death in the tvN drama ‘What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?’ as the adorably narcissistic and irresistibly clueless vice-chairman Lee Young-joon. Yes, he knows he’s perfect. His iconic bangs know, too.
As ‘What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?’ ended its successful run with high ratings, Park Seo-joon continued to receive acclaim for his performance in ‘Fight For My Way’ as he won Outstanding Korean Actor at the 13th Seoul International Drama Awards. We must say, we love him and his slick faded and tapered hair the most!
He next graced us with his presence in Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film ‘Parasite.’ Though just a cameo, he played a pivotal role as Min-hyuk, a friend to the family’s son Ki-woo, who ultimately linked the Kims to the Parks and set the whole story in motion. At 31, Park Seo-joon still served us college boy feels with his middle-part and boyish smile.
(1/2) Park Seo-joon then top-billed the occult film ‘The Divine Fury’ as Park Yong-hoo, an MMA pro who harnesses divine powers to fight evil. He trained with an actual professional fighter for the role, nailing his action scenes and getting super buff in the process.
He then made us fall in love even more when he guested on ‘3 Meals A Day’ and, as previously mentioned, proved to us all that he’s just good at everything and looks good doing everything. He did more than 20 double unders to the amazement of the cast and production. You just know he takes time to keep in shape!
(1/2) In his most recent drama, Park Seo-joon transformed into the now-iconic Park Sae-roy. Not only did he shed the rom-com lead stereotype, he did so with full commitment and giving birth to the chestnut hairstyle everyone’s been trying to copy.
(2/2) Though it was a pain to maintain, having to cut his hair every four days to keep the length just right, Park Seo-joon powered through seven months of filming to give us the best performance and most memorable face of his career yet.
After filming and promotion for ‘Itaewon Class’ wrapped, Park Seo-joon didn’t waste any time shedding his chestnut cut and moving on to a pineapple style as seen in a photo he shared while shooting. All these fruits, but we’re only hungry for PSJ!
All these problems with the global pandemic, but this hottie gives us life. His regular Instagram updates (especially these mirror selfies!) are a real gift. We’re loving how his hair is growing out, too! What’s going to be next for Park Seo-joon? We can’t wait to see him star in ‘Dream’ with IU, for sure!