Childhood & Early Life
Seo In-guk was born in Ulsan, South Korea on 23rd October, 1987. His native name is Hangul, which after Romanization becomes Seo In-guk.
Seo’s parents weren’t particularly well off when he was young. His father worked as a welder while his mother collected recyclables. Seo is the eldest of the two children of the couple. He has a younger sister.
Early in his life, he showed a certain flair for wrestling and other contact sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts. He received training in all these disciplines. He is a trained ssireum wrestler, boxer and MMA fighter. He is also a dan Hapkido fighter.
However, soon he found his true calling. He became very interested in music and decided that he’d become a singer. His greatest inspiration was Kim Jung-Min, a fellow Korean rock legend.
After passing high school, he went to Daebul University to study Applied Music. During that time, he also auditioned for a number of shows but was rejected.
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The year 2009 was a breakthrough one for Seo. He was fresh out of college when he went to the audition of ‘Superstar K’, expecting another refusal. However, luck finally smiled on him and he was selected as a contestant of the music reality show which was itself in the inception stage. He went on to win the show and in the process created history as the winner of the inaugural edition of the show.
Recognition came almost overnight. Suddenly everyone was talking about him and offers for music albums and other things came flooding in. He did a number of recordings, both singles as well as albums. He also did non-musical stuffs such as photo-shoots and television interviews, which increased his recognition even more.
However, everything was not bright and sunny for Seo at the beginning of his career. With the massive recognition he got overnight, came in a barrage of criticism and rumors. It was rumoured that he had done a plastic surgery, a rumor that was never substantiated.
Seo made his acting debut in 2012 when he was cast in a supporting role in KBS’ ‘Love Rain’. The film was a massive hit, especially overseas. It became the costliest Korean movie to be presold to Japan. Seo played a small but critical role in the love story that spanned two generations. His acting was well received by the audience.
A chance to play the lead came soon after in the second half of 2012 with ‘Reply 1997’, a nostalgic television series, which announced the arrival of Seo on the big stage. The series was about the life of six friends in two phases - one when they are all young and the other 18 years later. The series was quite successful with the season finale generating the highest rating for a Korean cable drama. Seo did remarkably well and was highly praised by the general public and the critics again. His portrayal of a teenage boy who is in love with his best friend but cannot tell her is still considered as one of his finest works. Later that year, he also appeared in a drama series called ‘The Sons’ (alternatively known as ‘Rascal Sons’)
His musical career was also on an upward spiral with the release of two singles for the ‘Reply 1997’ album. Both of them were romantic duets with one of them, ‘All For You’, claiming one of the top spots on the Goan Single Chart for the year 2012.
In 2012, he entered into a contract with a Japanese talent management agency called Irving Entertainment. They helped him make an entry in the Japanese entertainment industry. His first tryst with the Japanese came in the middle of 2013, when he released a single called ‘Fly Away’.
Earlier in 2013, Seo was a part of a reality show named ‘I Live Alone’. The show aired from January to June of 2013. As soon as it ended, Seo was roped in by the Hong Kong Sisters to play the role of the head of security for a private company in their horror-drama series, ‘Master’s Sun’.
Later in 2013, he made his first appearance on the big screen with ‘No Breathing’. He was one of the protagonists in this coming of age movie that also starred Lee Jong-suk and Kwon Yuri.
The year 2014 started with Seo playing the male protagonist in a television mini-series called ‘Another Parting’. The five-episode show is about a man and a woman living the final few moments of their lives together. He also starred in another rom-com series by the name of ‘High School King of Savvy’ the same year. He plays the dual role of a high school hockey star and an IT executive in this series.
Seo also appeared in what would be his first period drama with ‘The King’s Face’. It was an intense drama where he plays the role of an illegitimate crown prince who becomes a contender for his father’s crown as well as his queen.
In 2014 Seo also released his first solo album. It was called ‘Everlasting’ and it featured some of his older singles and well as new tracks. The 12 track album did pretty well on most of the music charts in the country.
The year 2015 saw Seo enter the world of SBS’ show, ‘Law of the Jungle’. The multi-starrer show was already a hit and Seo made the most out of his role in it. It was followed by ‘Hello Monster’ where he was cast as a brilliant profiler with the police department. He returned to the ‘Law of the Jungle’ the following season as well.
In 2016, he was roped in by OCN to play a professional swindler in their office drama, ’38 Revenue Collection Unit’. Seo’s character was particularly well received and he won a special award for the same. He was also seen in the lead of another rom-com called ‘Shopaholic Louis’.