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Metro Talks With Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, Jin Kijoo, and Tiffany Young of Disney+ K-Drama "Uncle Samsik"

In this exclusive interview, the cast members talked about their preparations for this project and their characters, and shared what makes this period drama relatable today

Exclusive MetroStyle interview with Disney Plus series Uncle Samsik cast members Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, Jin Kijoo, and Tiffany Young
"Uncle Samsik" cast members (from left) Tiffany Young, Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, and Jin Kijoo during their Metro.Style interview


There's a new K-drama on Disney+, and it takes viewers back to the 1960s during a turbulent time in Korea in the years following the Korean War: Uncle Samsik


The fictional story shows the aftermath of the war that brought about an extended period of hardship, to the point where having three meals a day has become unimaginably difficult.

  


The period drama is written and directed by Shin Yeonshick who, like lead actor Song Kangho, is taking on his first series through Uncle Samsik.


"Uncle Samsik began entirely because of Song Kangho. About a week after Kangho returned from Cannes and the Academy Awards for Parasite, I contacted him with the idea for Uncle Samsik," Shin Yeonshick revealed. "That day we sat down and discussed everything about the series, from who should be cast to how to secure the budget for the series. It was my first time sitting down with him for a project and I was a little stunned by how easily the meeting went. I thought it was too good to be true." 


Exclusive MetroStyle interview with Disney Plus series Uncle Samsik cast members Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, Jin Kijoo, and Tiffany Young
"Uncle Samsik" cast members Yoo Jaemyung, Tiffany Young, Seo Hyunwoo, Byun Yohan, Song Kangho, Jin Kijoo, Oh Seunghoon, and Joo Jinmoo, with director Shin Yeonshick (middle) during the series' press conference | Photo courtesy of Disney+


While he already had the story in mind at the time, Shin Yeonshick said he was able to solidify the character he intended for Song Kangho after their conversation. That was when he came up with the idea for Samsik, which translates to "three meals." 


Shin Yeonshick also shared that his purpose for providing the historical backdrop for the series "was not about the representation of historical facts per se" but more on shining a light on "the individual relationships in the context of that historical background." 


Exclusive MetroStyle interview with Disney Plus series Uncle Samsik cast members Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, Jin Kijoo, and Tiffany Young
Song Kangho as Park Doochil in "Uncle Samsik" | Photo courtesy of Disney+


A relationship highlighted in the series is the partnership with Song Kangho's Park Doochil (Uncle Samsik) and Byun Yohan's Kim San. Uncle Samsik is described as "a social chameleon that blends into the background, gathering information and using it to sink his claws into those he can manipulate into making his dream come true." His dream? To see Korea flourish after years of economic hardship. Uncle Samsik crosses paths with Kim San who shares his goals of turning Korea into a successful industrial nation. Kim San is the best student at Korea's Military Academy who has received training in economics in the United States; having lived in America, he aspires to push Korea to reach the former's level of affluence. 


Exclusive MetroStyle interview with Disney Plus series Uncle Samsik cast members Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, Jin Kijoo, and Tiffany Young
Byun Yohan as Kim San in "Uncle Samsik" | Photo courtesy of Disney+


Also part of Uncle Samsik's cast are Lee Kyooyhung as Kang Seongmin, a manipulative politician; Jin Kijoo as Joo Yeojin, Kim San's lover and a wise elite woman who's the daughter of Reformist Party Leader Joo Intae (played by Oh Kwangrok); Seo Hyunwoo as Jung Hanmin, an elite soldier from the military; and Tiffany Young as Rachel Jung, director of the Albright Foundation. Also adding to the excitement of the series are the characters of Yoo JaemyungJoo Jinmoo, and Oh Seunghoon.


Uncle Samsik cast members - Lee Kyoohyung as Kang Seongmin in "Uncle Samsik"
Lee Kyoohyung as Kang Seongmin in "Uncle Samsik"
Uncle Samsik cast members - Seo Hyunwoo as Jeong Hanmin in "Uncle Samsik"
Seo Hyunwoo as Jeong Hanmin in "Uncle Samsik"
Uncle Samsik cast members - Oh Seunghoon as An Kichul in "Uncle Samsik"
Oh Seunghoon as An Kichul in "Uncle Samsik"
Uncle Samsik cast members
Yoo Jaemyung as Jang Doosik in "Uncle Samsik"
Uncle Samsik cast members - Joo Jinmoo as An Hyosub
Joo Jinmoo as An Hyosub


In an exclusive interview with Metro.Style, cast members Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, Jin Kijoo, and Tiffany Young talked about their preparations for this project and their characters and shared what makes this period drama relatable today:


For Song Kangho: Given that this is your first drama series after decades of being in the industry, how did you physically and emotionally prepare for it? Was it any different from your past portrayals in terms of preparation?

"The preparation process itself is quite the same. However, the difference would be that within a feature film, because you're given about two hours, give or take, you have to tell all the stories that you want to tell in a condensed manner or a concentrated manner. But when it comes to a series, you have to be able to maintain that level of attention and tension for a longer period of time. So, that was what was top of mind and probably one of the bigger challenges if I were to compare a film versus a series."


Uncle Samsik cast members


For Song Kangho: How exactly do you feel about your participation being one of the reasons your castmates wanted to be part of Uncle Samsik?

"So when I hear my co-cast members say that, while it is indeed very touching and moving, there's also a sense of burden that comes along with as well because I feel like I have to bring my best in my performance so that I will meet all of their expectations. And also, I want to do my absolute best to make sure that I don't take away from any of the hard effort that all of the people that I worked together with put into the content. So, it's definitely touching and I'm very grateful but at the same time, there is a very fortunate sense of pressure as well."


Exclusive MetroStyle interview with Disney Plus series Uncle Samsik cast members Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, Jin Kijoo, and Tiffany Young


For Byun Yohan: This is not your first period drama. What do you like about portraying characters in a different era?

"When I'm doing a period piece, there's definitely the need for me to study and research a lot. But just the fact that I'm able to experience a time where I haven't experienced personally一the set, the art, everything. And I think there's something about acting in the backdrop of a period where you just walk into the set of the art, and each of it has this very subtle charm to it."


Exclusive MetroStyle interview with Disney Plus series Uncle Samsik cast members Song Kangho, Byun Yohan, Jin Kijoo, and Tiffany Young


For Jin Kijoo: What were your first impressions of the series, and what do you like about your character, Yeojin?

"My first impression of the script was that it was a very cool, charming, and sexy script. And for my character, Yeo Jin, the reason I really wanted to portray this character is because she is someone who harbors a lot of thoughts and things that she wants to say inside her heart. However, she will pick and choose in terms of what she actually chooses to express externally. And I think that was one of the things I was most drawn to in my character."


Uncle Samsik cast members
Hwang Stephanie Young as Rachael Jeong


For Tiffany Young: What was the most challenging part of breathing life into the character of Rachael Jeong, and how has your approach to this character differ from your past portayals?

"I think being on set with such, you know, veterans and seniors itself was pressuring. But at the same time, I really, really invested as much as I could in terms of research on the background of American history and Korean history. And I don't know, I think, I mean, I'm definitely somebody who like, overdoes her research. But I definitely wanted to connect more on the human aspect of this story, where we are all coming out from a pandemic and just like the basic human, you know, instincts as hunger and longing and the privilege to dream and to truly feel loved and seen. That was what I really focused on in terms of Rachael and Kim San's relationship, the power of support and just being able to keep going in these turbulent times in the 60s. As much research as I did, I think I focused more on the human connection aspect as well."


Song Kangho and Byun Yohan during the press conference of "Uncle Samsik"
Song Kangho and Byun Yohan during the press conference of "Uncle Samsik" | Photo courtesy of Disney+


How do you think Uncle Samsik will resonate with modern-day audiences even though it's set in the past?

Tiffany: "As I mentioned earlier, we're all coming out from a pandemic. I think the story is about longing and basic human instincts and needs and how far would you go in order to achieve your dreams? And, you know, I think the background definitely, I mean, apart from that, I think everybody will connect from it because there is such a focus around K-everything. And this drama for me personally gave a really, really really good background of how the Korean DNA is built, 'cause this is the story of our grandparents, our parents, and our history lies within the '60s. And I feel like it'll be a really good history lesson for everybody in knowing, like, what the drive behind Korean culture and the ethnicity. And I think that plus the human experience of longing and, you know, know, chasing after hope and looking at the aspect, like, of the privilege to dream in such a turbulent time. So I hope people connect with that."



Uncle Samsik is now available for streaming on Disney+.


Photos courtesy of Disney+