When I first talked to Seo Kang Joon on the DramaFever Awards Ceremony red carpet, I wasn’t sure he was leading man material. Recently debuted with the actor-idol group 5urprise, he was nervous, and had not yet made his mark on drama land. His latest drama “Are You Human Too?” proves I can’t always see the future.
In his dual role as chaebol-robot clone, he proves that he’s not only lead material, he’s a drama star.
This romantic sci-fi drama stars Seo as two characters, the ill-tempered chaebol Nam Shin, taken from his loving mother at an early age, and his robot counterpart, who, despite his supposed lack of human emotions, is a better man than the original Nam turned out to be.
It’s an entertaining “Prince and the Pauper” fantasy you can’t enjoy unless you’re willing to believe that robots could look that good and be that desirable to hug, but it does ask one important question that many recent robot TV and films scripts pose. In a world of quickly developing AI, could robots turn out to be more human than humans? Maybe. Humans don’t always have the best track record for humane behavior.
Nam might not have feelings but he knows how important it is to hug someone when they’re crying and to repay friendship with loyalty. Most of the humans around him can’t be trusted. Even his mom has her ulterior motives and, after lovingly raising him like a human, thinks he’s only second best.
His personal guard, Kang So Bong, played by Gong Seung Yeon, is an irritating character at first, but once you start seeing her through Robot Nam’s eyes, she becomes an object of affection. With her support, he learns to think for himself and make some decisions that worry his controlling scientist mom. He’s a robot going through a very human-like coming of age. His mom doesn’t trust the robot’s free will but she should. She made him and, like many humans, his coming of age actions will be inspired by the ethics his mother hard-wired into him.
The not-human version of Nam Shin is so much more appealing than his human counterpart that viewers can’t help but root for him, as he tries to ethically solve the problems at his grandfather’s company, while surrounded by less-than-human villains who would destroy him.
Maybe the AI version of Nam Shin should be referred to as super-human, rather than not so human.
Seo Kang Joon had a breakout role in “Cheese in the Trap,” did well in “Entourage,” and “Hwajung,” but with this role, he’s become a star, an even better version of the actor he was before.
You can see this drama on DramaFever.