Beyond the distilled and distinguished exterior, Park Seo Jun barrels through, redefining the standard of beauty according to who it matters the most—you.
When one conjures an image of a larger-than-life personality blessing us mere mortals with a dazzling presence that seemingly beckons a hallelujah chorus and the parting of a sea of people, the requisites are all drawn up: a thick barrier of human security protecting their ward at all costs, the incognito staples of dark-tinted sunglasses and a baseball cap tipped way beyond the point of comfort, and a hunkered down posture as to keep a low profile. Sightings of this sort are not your average everyday thing, especially in our celebrity-obsessed culture where the simple rumor of a star sighting is enough to send a swarm of fans in exponential droves to the marked spot. Rare as it is, they’ve populated our daydreams and fantasies so much that when the apparent possibility presents itself, the chances are, we are likely to miss it from right under our noses. That or we have somehow fashioned a designation of respect to give these people a space to exhale as their true selves away from the microscopic scrutiny, assuaging a level of respect, especially since by all mean necessary, these stars have relented much of their lives to us, the adoring public.
Far from our reach, it is the kind of thing to not only expect, what with their place in our rabid fanaticism, but to give them as their due. They can posture around in their semblance of normal, while we content ourselves with, on a lucky day, breathing the same air as they do. However, this was far from the reality for Korean actor and perennial leading man, Park Seo Jun, as he casually strolled along a mall complex in Manila’s central business district—in broad daylight no less. As seen in the YouTube video published on his channel, Record Park’s, a hairline shy of a year ago with 3,107,704 views, the cap was well in place and less than a handful of people around him, but there was no brazen effort to conceal himself from plain sight. In fact, if you were consumed in the doldrums of your mundane, you will have most likely missed him completely, dismissing him as another foreigner taking a break from the stifling heat the country can be known for.
Here, he wasn’t out of reach in the way we had imagined. He was, for lack of a better way to describe it, just like the rest of us. Cool, calm, and charming by the bucketloads, Park Seo Jun recorded his free day in Manila, away from the fanfare–eating a scone, enjoying a vase of ice cream, and marveling at local handicrafts at a specialty store. As it appears, this is what the South Korean heartthrob likes to do when he has time off. “I try to do the best I can in a given situation, and when I rest, I try to do nothing and take a full rest. They said that relaxing your mind is the real relaxation than relaxing your body. So, I try to empty my mind as much as possible and eat delicious food and also sleep well,” he says. “That way, I get energy again when I start a new job.”
On paper, he is every bit of a distilled, decided, and distinguished gentleman, exuding a grace and restraint that only makes his every move more pronounced and well, profound. But as we see on several of his roles, as well as of his social media trails, he is anything but just that. Truth be told, he is as nuanced as his portrayals on Kill Me, Heal Me, Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, Fight For My Way, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, and Itaewon Class, but also raw and real as that friend you have known for quite a while. “I think it’s really important to live being yourself. There is a line from Itaewon Class that says, ‘It is natural that I am the subject of life, I want to live such a life,’” he begins, poring through this exclusive electronic exchange that spans a fair amount of time and space. “When I first saw the script, I could relate to it. I think the realization of true beauty is the way you know yourself and keep your own personality.”
In a role unlike anything he’s done before, Park Seo Jun, a bastion of romance on the filmed front, is flipping the switch, this time essaying the concept of beauty as the new face of BYS Philippines. A groundbreaking endeavor by all accounts necessary, this partnership is a testament to how beauty and cosmetics have reached an unparalleled equilibrium in modern-day society that a man can freely talk about it and stake his own claims, for the benefit of those around him, not necessarily for himself. Known to focus on those around him, putting them first ahead of him, Park Seo Jun is putting this endeavor to good use, by underscoring how beauty, a long contested and hotly argued facet to a highly subjective society, is a lot less perfection and more of self-realized confidence. “I think beauty starts with knowing yourself well. Rather than following external standards, efforts to create a healthy inner side with your own standards seem to make the person most beautiful,” he asserts. “The standard of beauty can vary depending on the situation and the person, so I think it’s more important to know yourself and love yourself than to simply pursue perfection.”
A stickler for excellence and purpose, espousing the irrevocable gospel of being your best self regardless, Park Seo Jun is the perfect embodiment of what beauty should be to people. “I believe the products of BYS Philippines can help you express and bring out your best selves, and allow you to move ahead and be the extra in the ordinary,” he says. “Extraordinary starts with you and I’m here to cheer you on.” It is all about you, so anything that doesn’t concern it should not be held to the same regard.
This is perhaps why there is a rooted connection and cathartic humanity to his portrayals on screen. Despite it being a playing field of pretend, there is much of him in it as it is written as fiction and entertainment. “I think I’m the only one who knows me the best, and only if I know myself, I can make the best choice under any circumstances,” he explains. “I think it’s more important to have time to focus on yourself than anything else.” So, when it comes to creating that persona outside of his own, Park Seo Jun makes sure that is an extension of himself rather than just pure make believe. “When I act, I meet several characters, but since they all start from my own appearance, I think it’s good to be natural so it will not feel different.”
In everything that he does, he makes sure to hero and honor those who have brought him to where he is now—his fans. It can be said, this endeavor with BYS Philippines is his love letter to his most ardent Filipino supporters. “I’m always surprised and thankful for all the love and support from the fans since I debuted. I feel happy and proud when there are people who feel encouraged by my projects or character. I think the love from my fans make me shine more, so I think I should not disappoint them and show them a better side of me,” he mulls. “Thank you so much for your support and interest from the Philippines. I hope we can meet in the Philippines as soon as possible, and I’ll try my best to give you better news until then.”
Recognizing the persistence of an abrasive reality weighing down on us in this span of our history, the cognizance of Park Seo Jun is perhaps that crack of light we desperately need to see and pierce through the pervading gloom, that proverbial hope in a box that will make things even just a touch more bearable and yes, beautiful, as defined by no one else but you.
Until then, that is the whole truth and nothing but.