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Disney+'s 'Uncle Samsik' explores how S. Korea was shaped: producer

'Parasite' star Song Kang-ho stars in drama for first time

May 8, 2024 - 16:32 By Lee Yoon-seo
A scene from "Uncle Samsik," starring Byun Yo-han (left) and Song Kang-ho (Disney+)

Led by veteran actor Song Kang-ho, who has starred in numerous hit flicks, such as "Parasite" (2019) and "Cobweb" (2023), Disney+ original "Uncle Samsik" will aim to explore how Korea came to be what it is by exploring the fictional stories of those that lived through the 1950s and 1960s.

Set in 1960s South Korea, the 16-part period drama series narrates the story of Kim San, (played by Byun Yo-han) a young government official with ambitions to put his self-devised National Reconstruction Proposal into action. The story follows Kim as he is approached by Park Doo-chill (played by Song Kang-ho), a specialist in political brokerage nicknamed "Uncle Samsik," who aims to help Kim achieve his plan.

According to the director of "Uncle Samsik" Shin Yeon-shik, who previously scripted black comedy “Cobweb" and historical drama "Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet" (2016), "Uncle Samsik" was produced out of his personal curiosity about how South Korea came to be what it is.

"Despite having lived in South Korea for over 40 years, I still struggle to adapt, and feel a sense of unfamiliarity towards the country," said Shin, during a press conference held in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Wednesday.

"I've long wondered about the nature of the society I live in, and the individuals who comprise it. I was eager to investigate the underlying factors that shaped the current state of South Korea, and the people living in it," he said.

According to Shin, he chose the 1950s and 1960s as the backdrop for the series as he thought they were pivotal times in Korean history that significantly shaped the country -- with the country striving to rebuild itself in the aftermath of the Korean War.

"A new world was coming, and during this era, people were realizing their own identities via the process of accepting the new world -- which, I think, ultimately served as turning points in shaping society," said Shin.

A scene from "Uncle Samsik," starring Song Kang-ho (Disney+)

"Uncle Samsik," meanwhile, marks Song Kang-ho's debut in a drama series for the first time in his 35-year acting career.

Song said he chose to make his first appearance in a drama series as a part of his efforts to send messages to audiences via diverse channels.

"(Actors) try to share the value encapsulated in a piece of work with the audience. Living in such changing times, we experiment through various channels. I believed it was a period where we needed to embrace these changes," said Song.

"'Uncle Samsik' differed slightly from the popular streaming services' original drama series, so despite the risk, I deemed that there was potential for 'Uncle Samsik' to offer something new and refreshing," said Song.

Five episodes of "Uncle Samsik" will be released on Disney+ every Wednesday starting May 15.

Song Kang-ho (left) and Byun Yo-han pose for a photo during a press conference held in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap)