Seo In-guk has certainly made his mark as both a singer and an actor, but it took much grit and hard work to become the star he is now. Having grown up poor, Seo performed and competed in singing contests for money until he moved to Seoul at 20 to try his luck. As a student of music at Daebul University, Seo kept auditioning for music companies such as JYP Entertainment but earned no contracts. Yet, he persevered.
In 2009, Seo competed in Superstar K, and won the show's first season. He then released "Calling," composed by Bang Si-hyuk (yes, BTS' "dad"), and then signed with Jellyfish Entertainment. Since then, he's released a studio album, five EPs, and 14 singles.
Seo debuted on the small screen in Love Rain, which led to his first major role in Reply 1997. As a boy with an unrequited love, Reply 1997 cemented Seo as a legitimate actor despite his rookie status. He then forayed successfully into variety shows such as I Live Alone and Law of the Jungle. He also began to work with the big leagues of k-drama such as So Ji-sub (Master's Sun), Ma Dong-seok (Squad 38), and Jung So-min (The Smile Has Left Your Eyes), winning awards for acting along the way.
Seo has certainly come very far from his singing contest days. Here, we'll be taking a look at his more notable drama performances and track his rise as he goes from campus crush (Reply 1997) all the way to funny conman (Café Minamdang).
Reply 1997 / Answer Me 1997 (2012)
Seo earned his first main role in the 90s nostalgic high-school drama Reply 1997. Set in 1997 Busan, the drama was the first of the Reply series and showed the fan culture in the 90s, a time when the first idol groups started to gain popularity. The show is also one of the highest-rated dramas in Korean cable TV history, and made big stars out of its cast.
As Yoon Yoon-jae, Seo played the smart but shy dude in class who harbors a secret crush for his female best friend Sung Shi-won (played by Apink's Eunji). He started out as the classic example of the noble idiot trope, opting to give way to his older brother who dated Shi-won. Seo is a master of the sexual buildup and when his character finally decided to pursue the girl, their chemistry proved why he is a mainstay in k-drama’s best kisser lists.
The Master's Sun (2013)
In this 2013 Hong Sisters horror-comedy, Seo plays Kang Woo, the head of security in Joong-won's (So Ji-sub) shopping mall. He later becomes attracted to Gong-shil (Gong Hyo-jin), and becomes an unexpected third wheel who tries to whisk her away from his own boss!
Hello, Monster / I Remember You (2015)
Seo is profiler Lee Hyun who returns to Korea only to find himself investigating a case that unearths his old traumatic memories. While the show didn't get high ratings, critics praised the storyline, as well as everyone's performances, especially from Seo, Do Kyung-soo, and newcomer Park Bo-gum.
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes / Hundred Million Stars from the Sky (2018)
In the remake of the 2002 Japanese TV series Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi, Seo is Kim Moo-young, a mysterious man with a suspicious past. He eventually falls in love with Yoo Jin-kang (Jung So-min), but it doesn't take long before her older brother (Park Sung-woong) suspects that Kim may be more dangerous than he appears.
Doom at Your Service (2021)
In this fantasy romance, Seo is Myul Mang, a messenger between gods and humans. He meets Tak Dong-kyung (Park Bo-young) who would like to "end the world." He eventually signs a hundred-day contract with her, and a supernatural romance ensues.
Café Minamdang (2022)
Based on the popular web novel Minamdang: Case Note, the ongoing Netflix k-drama follows the adventures of a profiler/shaman Nam Han-joon (Seo In-guk) and his rowdy crew. Team Minamdang would have had smooth sailing solving cases and "conning" people if it were not for detective Han Jae-hee (Oh Yeon-seo), who is suspicious of their operations and methods.