Actor You Need to Know: Byeon Woo-seok

Together with his sultry, romantic looks and endearing on-screen persona, he is an actor who acts with the panache of an artist

Photo: Courtesy of Varo Entertainment

There is always a risk that an actor won’t be able to stand out in a stellar cast of characters; therefore, the stakes are always high. This is especially true if you’re a budding actor. Nevertheless, despite a minor role in Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart RyeoByeon Woo-seok shone thanks to his attractiveness and talent. He portrayed Go Ha-jin’s (IU’s) ex-boyfriend, a role that Byeon amazingly etched out and that had its own distinct brand of eloquence irrespective of its short runtime.

In the realm of Korean dramas and films, Moon Lovers marked a defining moment for Byeon, who made his debut in Dear My Friends in 2016. At the time, he was a rookie actor, but also a known model, frequenting the camera for different modeling assignments. Between his first and most notable roles, the actor proceeded to alternate between several stints in a series of films and dramas, including Midnight Runners (2017), Ashfall (2019), Welcome to Waikiki 2 (2019), and Search: WWW (2019), to name a very few. Byeon accomplished each of his roles with the dexterity of an artist who is confident enough in his abilities, eventually landing the main role in Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency (2019). He played Do Joon, the Flower Crew’s informant, sought after by women because of his good looks, a quality he exploits to his advantage to gather information in and around Hanyang in the historical romantic comedy television series. The portrayal gained rave reviews, popularizing Byeon considerably.

A string of other roles in between cemented his reputation as a household name in South Korea. There is something hypnotic about his sultry, romantic countenance. The way his deep stare is beautifully defined by those double eyelids, together with his endearing on-screen persona, which gives off an air of sincerity, is perhaps why it didn’t take him long to hit his next big break in the youth romance drama Record of Youth in 2020. He shared screen space with Park Bo-geum and Park So-dam as Won Hae-hyo, a model-turned-actor from a wealthy family whose mother dominates his professional life. Byeon, speaking about Hye-hyo, revealed in an interview with The Korea Times that he began to see similarities between himself and Hye-hyo since both are models adamant about breaking into the acting world notwithstanding challenges. “I came to understand his determination and passion to make his own success, despite his mother’s interference,” Byeon added.

Surely, the actor’s zeal is intense because he gradually ventured into uncharted avenues by accepting meatier roles that called for strong acting abilities. His performance as the dissident crown prince Lee Pyo in the period drama Moonshine (2021-2022) highlighted his performing mettle. Byeon kind of blossomed as royalty and added extra appeal with his easygoing demeanor as he slid into the skin of Lee Pyo, who frequently snuck out of the palace to have a drink even during a time of prohibition, upsetting the kingdom. The more I watched him in the drama, the more I realized that Byeon is an actor who acts with the panache of an artist.

He nailed it in 20th Century Girla comedy of errors with a moving undertone. The film came as a welcome surprise near the end of last year, and kudos to director Bang Woo-ri for crafting such a beautiful story filled with even more beautiful characters. We encounter a high-school girl named Na Bo-ra (Kim Yoo-jung) who keeps her gaze fixed on a boy named Baek Hyun-jin (Park Jung-woo) at school as a stand-in for her best friend Yeon-du (Roh Yoon-seo), who is in love with him. Even so, when Bo-ra meets Hyun-jin’s best friend, Poong Woon-ho (Byeon), she becomes quickly enthralled in romance. Byeon seemed an expert at capturing viewers’ hearts, just as he made his heroine’s heart skip a beat. He was the perfect fit for Woon-ho, attributable to how effectively he carried out all the demands of his character in rendering the plot shifts, romance, and tragedy.

The 31-year-old actor, who recently starred in the film Soulmate with Kim Da-mi and Jeon So-nee, seems to have a fondness for stories that explore the fundamentals of human relationships. Nevertheless, it is also clear that he is gradually learning to experiment with other genres. I think Byeon’s deep-seated enthusiasm for creativity is what drives him to feel the need to develop a collection of works that genuinely fulfills his appetite for innovation. This collection of work is unquestionably taking shape, slowly but surely. For instance, he will play Ryu Shi-oh in the upcoming drama Strong Woman Gang Nam-soona sequel to the highly successful classic K-drama Strong Woman Do Bong-soon (2017), which is about a new drug trafficking ring in Gangnam. The television series is slated to premiere this year.

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