I take the metro everyday and one day I notice this big RED2 poster and I thought ‘Oh, I know this guy’. Yi Byeong Heon. Wow Is he really making a movie with Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker and Anthony Hopkins. Wow!’
Lately, we’ve seen more and more Korean actors taking part in international projects, notably in Hollywood. That is a very good thing. I think, these past years, Hollywood falls into some kind of lethargy, making prequels and sequels and adaptation of comics and other foreign movies and creativity is limited by the diktat of profit but, let’s face it, on one hand, the US need new blood and on the other hand, participating in such movies is really great for international exposure and get your name out there. So, it is a win-win situation.
Obviously the most noticeable is Yi Byeong Heon who had the role of Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: The Rise Of The Cobra (2009) and G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) and who now appears in Red 2, in theaters right now.
In 2010, Jang Dong Geon was in a SK – New Zealand – US feature, The Warrior’s Way.
There was of course Jeong Ji Hun aka Rain in the successful movie Ninja Assassin, back in 2009, featuring several Korean American actors like, Rick Yune who had to change his name for another Rick Yun was registered for the Screen Actors Guild, Sung Kang, famous for his role of Han in the Fast & Furious action movie series, Randall Duk Kim who featured in the Kung Fu Panda animation movies and TV series as the voice of Oogway and as the Keymaker in Matrix Reloaded (2003) or the less known Kim Il Yeong who evolves mainly in Germany.
More recently, Bae Du Na is making her name known in Hollywood by appearing in Chinese-US-German movie Cloud Atlas (2009). I’d like to see that one. It seems interesting. Earlier in time, Park Jeong Hak and Park Sang Gyu featured in the french movie Passe-Passe (2008). Not to mention many opportunities Korean actors get within Asia.
They are a lot of actors of Korean decent who were born and/or grew up in Canada or USA which make their access easier to the international market, although they play a lot of non-Korean characters (mainly Japanese and Chinese, sometimes Vietnamese, Hawaiian, well, pretty much any Asian characters). In US TV series, I can only think of one Korean American actress who plays a character clearly presented as Korean: Margaret Cho in Drop Dead Diva. I would be really interested in seeing actors like Grace Park, Randall Park, John Cho or Daniel Dae Kim follow the steps of Daniel Henney and appear in an all-korean production, actually. That would be awesome but that’s a pious hope…