K-Drama

Actors Byun Yo-han and Song Kang-ho talk about K-drama Uncle Samsik

Song Kang-ho and Byun Yo-han delve deeper into their roles, their most memorable lines, and what Uncle Samsik means to them in an interview.

Zhuo Jia Wen

| June 21, 2024
Uncle Samsik
(L to R) Byun Yo-han and Song Kang-ho in a still from Uncle Samsik. Photo: Disney+

With its last episode just behind us, K-drama Uncle Samsik has concluded its broadcast yesterday (19 Jun).

Set in early 1960s, the South Korean period drama centres around Uncle Samsik played by Song Kang-ho. He is joined by co-star Byun Yo-han, who plays Kim San.

Read more: 5 iconic K-drama male leads we can’t forget

Kim had just returned to South Korea after studying Economics in the States, and aims to turn the country into an important industrial nation.

HallyuSG caught up with the two actors on the 16-part series, and here’s what they had to say.

Can you tell us about your character?

Song Kang-ho: My character is called Uncle Samsik. He’s an uncle-like figure who makes sure his people are well-fed, even during times of poverty and war.

Uncle Samsik
South Korean actor Song Kang-ho plays titular character Uncle Samsik. Photo: Disney+

Samsik means “three meals”, so his nickname carries a symbolic meaning and serves as the foundation for a very engaging story.

Byun Yo-han: Kim San is an Albright Scholar who’s on track to become an elite government official.

His dream of carrying out a national development project has been frustrated by a number of different situations, but after meeting Uncle Samsik, who claims to have a grand plan and shares San’s dreams, Kim San is persuaded to collaborate. Eventually, they pursue their plan together.

What would you say is the most memorable line in the show?

Song Kang-ho: We had a line that goes, “You got me emotional with a country where everyone is well-fed.” The line cites a phrase in a speech delivered by Kim San, who says that he dreams of building a country where people can afford three meals a day.

Disney+
Song Kangho makes first series debut in Uncle Samsik. Photo: Disney+

That’s the kind of world that Uncle Samsik dreams of. Having three meals a day, or being well-fed, was such an urgent need for Korean people in the early 1960s. The line is very concise, but it encapsulates everything this series is about.

Byun Yo-han: I would say it’s the line that goes, “I have a grand plan. I share your dream.” I think that line marks the beginning of the story and it’s really stuck with me ever since.

What does Uncle Samsik mean to you as an actor?

Song Kang-ho: In terms of filmography, this will be my very first series. In addition, working with wonderful actors like Yohan will be a memory that I will cherish for a long time.

From an industry perspective, I think this series will be a welcome addition to the diversity of serialised content available on streaming platforms. As I mentioned earlier, as meaningful as it is to produce a film as an art form, a film must condense everything into under two hours.

In contrast, a series allows for the exploration of character dynamics, individual character traits, and narratives with greater depth in a longer format. It’s a very different way of communicating with an audience.

Byun Yo-han: In my previous projects, characters had clear traits: the main character would be portrayed as someone cool, while a villain would be portrayed as evil.

Byun Yo-han as Kim San in a still from Uncle Samsik.

I think the character traits were quite clearly defined. In contrast, all the characters in this series have such complex inner worlds, much like actual human beings. I see overlaps between Kim San and Uncle Samsik, between Kim San and Ahn Gi-cheol, and between Uncle Samsik and Ahn Gi-cheol.

All the characters in the series have overlapping qualities with each other. I’m fairly certain that, when you see all these characters together, you will be able to recognize parts of yourself in them.

What should viewers expect from Uncle Samsik?

Song Kang-ho: I approached this project with the mindset of a rookie actor embarking on a new journey. I worked hard and poured an incredible amount of energy into this new medium.

I’m very curious to see how viewers will react to the series, but at the same time, I feel nervous as well. Most importantly, I feel incredibly happy that I got to be part of a series that features incredible actors and compelling stories. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

Byun Yo-han: Uncle Samsik delves into modern Korean history and it’s the first-ever series to star Song Kang-ho. In the series, Uncle Samsik and Kim San embark on a journey together in pursuit of their grand plans.

I encourage all of you to watch the series and enjoy it as you laugh, get angry, cry and more.

Uncle Samsik is now streaming on Disney+.

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