Lee Sun-kyun, who appeared in 2019 Oscar winner “Parasite” and now stars in Apple’s first Korean show, “Dr. Brain,” said he’s not surprised that the world is embracing Korean drama right now.
“Recently with the rise of [boy band sensation] BTS and the show ‘Squid Game’ and film ‘Parasite,’ this really sparked the curiosity and the global audience for Korean culture,” Sun-kyun, 46, told The Post through a translator.
“There are many platforms that provide easy access to Korean content, so I think it seems fresh and new to people who haven’t been acquainted with the culture — and we have common grounds despite the differences. And now Korean creators know that their content will be shown to the global audience, they feel more pressure to really live up to those standards. So, I think it’s a virtuous cycle.”
Now streaming on AppleTV+ (new episodes premiere each Friday), “Dr. Brain” (which is in Korean with English subtitles) is a sci-fil thriller about Sewon Koh, (Sun-kyun), a brain scientist with an unspecified neural condition who experiences a tragedy when he loses his family in a mysterious accident. He tries to probe into what happened by developing a process to do “brain syncs” with the deceased — in order to comb through their memories and search for clues.
Soon, however, he begins losing sense of his own memories and sense of self as he starts taking on traits of people he syncs his brain to. Along the way, he’s helped by a police officer, Lt. Choi (Seo Ji-hye).
“Sewon is a character who doesn’t feel emotions or empathize with others [because of his unlabeled condition]. But through these brain scan technologies, he finally understands the emotions that people feel, and he finally understands love for his family. So, I think it’s also a coming-of-age story for Sewon, which I really like,” said Sun-kyun.
He wanted to get the role to work with director/screenwriter Kim Jee Woon (“A Bittersweet Life,”) who ended up providing inspiration in more than one way.
“I’m a big fan of director Kim, and the fact that this is his first series ever really caught my attention,” he said. “He’s a cool guy but doesn’t speak that much, so he reminded me of Sewon to some extent. So, he was one of the role models that I used.”
He said he thinks he landed the role in part because of his prominence from “Parasite,” which became the first non-English-language film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
“It was a total honor for me to be part of such a global hit,” he said. “It also still feels surreal to me that it was such a big hit. I think the reason I was cast in this series in the first place was part of the global fame that ‘Parasite’ brought me, but this is something that happened in the past. I don’t want to be stuck in the glory of the past, I want to go on with my life.
“So, I think of it as a really nice adventure that I had.”
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