Park Hae-soo (박해수)
Berlin, a fan favorite in Spain's "Money Heist," once ordered his merry band of burglars to refrain from calling him a psychopath. "Call me an intellectual psychopath," he admonished. "Put some taste into it." Truthful yet terrifying, Berlin shouldn't have been a fascinating character, yet Spanish star Pedro Alonso makes it work. So who better to pick up the mantle of creep and conman than someone who is known for his own brand of complexity?
In the Korean version of "Money Heist," the burden of becoming Berlin falls squarely on the shoulders of one Park Hae-soo. Having seen what the man has done in the roles he's portrayed thus far, we trust that this is going to be a fine casting choice. His acting fingerprint — a fascinating trademark 15 years in the making that hovers between characters you want to protect and redeem (like in "Prison Playbook") and someone you despise and want to see punished (as in "Squid Game")— is so seamless and skillful that it people remember his characters over his own name. For actors, achieving such is a mark of technical brilliance, and no praise is higher.
It surprises many people to know that Park Hae-soo first came into the industry via musical theater. He soon gave up singing for the small screen and took on one small role for another, until his depiction of a baseball player-turned-prison detainee in "Prison Playbook" (2017) galvanized him as leading-man material in Korea.
When he transformed into the ruthless killer Han in "Time to Hunt" (2020), he proved he had box office mettle as well. For both portrayals on the opposite ends of the acting spectrum, he was nominated in the Baeksangs for Best New Actor in both film and for television.
The next year, he would also prove that he was meant for the world stage, as he took on the tricky role of Cho Sang-woo in "Squid Game." Thanks to his flawless depiction of the despicable Seoul Uni grad, the actor was rumored to have earned over 800,000 followers on Instagram the day after "Squid Game" premiered.
These days, the 40-year-old is a happy husband and doting dad to his infant son (nicknamed "Baby Squid"). But he'll have to work extra hard at balancing work and family life, as he's going to be extremely busy this year. After finishing his stint as a detective in the murder mystery "Chimera" (2021), he returns as a Korean spy in BOTH Yaksha: Ruthless Operations and the ultra-expensive and star-studded Netflix 6-episoder "Narco-saints."
It seems that the trajectory of this man's career is just getting higher and higher. Whatever the role and however dark it can be, we trust that Park Hae-soo will put his own spin — and very good taste— into it.