A Korean Wave Rises in Hollywood

Korean-American actor Aaron Yoo

More and more young Korean-American actors and actresses are making their presence felt in Hollywood, the global Mecca of the movie world. One of them is Aaron Yoo. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Yoo entered the entertainment industry and made his name with a supporting role in Paramount Pictures’ "Disturbia" last year. Now he’s enjoying growing popularity with his latest work in Columbia Pictures’ "21", which opened in the U.S. last month.

In a recent interview with the Chosun Ilbo, Yoo acknowledged that good fortune has played a major part in his success so far, but he also believes his confidence in his acting ability has been another contributing factor. An admirer of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Cary Grant, the young actor expressed a hope to appear in a Korean movie if he gets a chance.

Yoo is only one of several ethnic Koreans who have made their names in Hollywood of late. Leonard Nam, who was born in Argentina and studied acting in New York, recently appeared in "Vantage Point" alongside actress Sigourney Weaver. In "Dragonball," based on the Japanese manga series of the same name, Jamie Chung plays Chi Chi, the girlfriend of Goku. Tim Kang was cast as a mercenary soldier working for Rambo in the recent "Rambo 4." Sung Kang starred in "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," and two ethnic Koreans — Rick Yune and Will Yun Lee — appeared in "Die Another Day." Will Yun Lee also appeared in the TV drama "Bionic Woman." Karl Yune, another Korean-American actor, appeared in "Memoirs of a Geisha."

Among TV entertainers of Korean origin are Daniel Dae Kim and Kim Yun-jin, who both rose to stardom with ABC’s blockbuster drama "Lost," and James Kyson Lee, who stars in NBC’s hit show "Heroes."

More and more Korean stars are also seeking to work in Hollywood. Pop idol Rain and Joon Park, a member of now-defunct boy group G.O.D., will appear in the upcoming "Speed Racer" movie. Half-Korean actor Daniel Henney has been cast in a role in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," while Jang Dong-kun will appear in "The Laundry Warrior," and Lee Byung-hun will appear in "G.I. Joe."

Other ethnic Koreans are making their presence known on the other side of the camera. Daniel Chai is a co-executive producer of "Fire Bay," a movie inspired by the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro during the John F. Kennedy presidency.