Whenever North Korea makes the news, John Cho is overcome with sadness and by what he calls a sliding-doors effect — an eerie vision of a parallel life had his parents not escaped to the South.
“I mean, there but for the grace of God go I,” he said.
The Korean War, which erupted five years after the country was divided in 1945 — the United States supporting the South, and the Soviet Union the North — was rarely discussed in front of the young Cho, who at 6 emigrated with his family to America from Seoul.
But its shadow still looms, and he leapt at the offer to narrate “Korea: The Never-Ending War,” a two-hour chronicle of Korean Peninsula history airing April 29 on PBS (check local listings).
“My life was very much changed and strangely continues to be shaped by this event,” he said. “It’s the defining experience of modern Koreans.”
“Korea” is the second part of a weirdly wonky Cho double-bill in the coming days: On April 25, he’ll play a presidential campaign strategist in “The Wunderkind,” an episode of Jordan Peele’s revival of “The Twilight Zone” on CBS All Access.
In 2016, Cho — then best known as the stoner Harold Lee in the “Harold & Kumar” comedies and Hikaru Sulu in the “Star Trek” franchise — became the unwitting beneficiary of #StarringJohnCho, a social movement that imagined Cho standing in for, say, Tom Cruise in “Mission: Impossible” and Daniel Craig in “Spectre” as part of a wider calling for diversity in entertainment, and an Asian-American leading man.
Hollywood has responded. In 2018, he became the first Asian-American actor to head a mainstream thriller in “Searching” — with a performance that A.O. Scott of The Times deemed Oscar-caliber.
More recently, Cho was tagged to helm a motley crew of bounty hunters as Spike Spiegel in “Cowboy Bebop,” the coming Netflix live-action spin on the space Western anime in which he’ll flex some martial-arts skills.
In a phone interview fresh from a training session in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, the actress and director Kerri Higuchi, and their two children, Cho, 46, spoke about coming to America and how Hollywood has surprised him. [More at Source]
Feature: John Cho for the NY Times
Written by Mouza on April 21
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Feature: John Cho for Glass Magazine
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