Kevin Woo’s Funny Short Film ‘Seoul Switch’ Reflects His Own K-Pop Life

Kevin Woo’s Funny Short Film ‘Seoul Switch’ Reflects His Own K-Pop Life

Kevin Woo couldn’t resist playing two characters in the short film Seoul Switch. It’s a story that made such an impression on him that when he first read the script, he wondered how the author had managed to capture his life story. The bilingual singer-actor plays a Korean-American visitor to Seoul, and he also plays a K-pop star. Woo is Korean-American, raised in California, and he’s also familiar with the life of a K-pop star in Korea.

“After reading the script, I was immediately fascinated by how much it reflected my own life experience as a Korean-American K-pop idol,” said Woo.

The short one is a Prince and the Pauper, Freaky Friday, The Princess Switch story where Moon, a washed-up k-pop idol, and DJ, a self-proclaimed “loser” from Ohio, accidentally meet in Seoul and talk about bartering. Moon needs a break from the female fans who are always ready to rip his clothes off, while for DJ this sounds like a dream come true. He has gotten more attention since arriving in Seoul than he ever did in Ohio. Moon describes himself as having the “most beautiful face in Korea.” while girls never noticed DJ until they thought he was Moon. DJ is so self-conscious that Moon gives him lessons in k-pop swagger. He knows all the moves it takes to turn an ordinary guy into an idol. Meanwhile, Moon longs to be ordinary.

It’s a funny premise, but as a former member of the K-pop group U-KISS, Woo knows all about the K-pop dream and the rigorous training it takes to achieve it. Discovered at age 15, he moved to South Korea. He performed with U-KISS from 2008 to 2017, then successfully built a career as a soloist in Korea and Japan. In 2022, he appeared in the New York City musical KPOP: The Musical, That’s how filmmaker Liann Kaye discovered him. She had written a script about a Korean-American boy who switched lives with a K-pop star. Because it wasn’t written from her own experience, she had some questions.

“When I saw K-POP: The Musical “On Broadway I found the one man who could answer all my burning questions,” Kaye said.

She couldn’t think of a better person to play “Lindsay Lohan” and both an American boy with a bad attitude and an overconfident Korean who has spent the last 15 years training in voice, dance and modeling. So Kaye sent him the script.

“It was an instant yes for me,” Woo said. “Before filming the short, we spent countless hours fleshing out the characters (the American teenager and the K-pop idol) from my personal experiences and adding more depth and authenticity to the already beautifully written script. I was grateful for Liann’s willingness to collaborate and refine subtle cultural details after listening to my story. Liann asked questions I had never asked myself, which gave me a new perspective on my own story.”

Blending Woo’s performances was a challenge. His characters are onscreen together for most of the short. Switching between characters required Woo to change hair, makeup, and costumes after each take. He also had to change accents and mannerisms. Playing DJ required him to remove his own voice and years of muscle memory.

“Because I was embodying both characters during the shoot, there were times when I didn’t know who I was playing at that moment,” he said. “We used advanced technology to capture both characters seamlessly in one frame. This meant using a robotic camera rig to capture every shot in every scene with the same exact movement and speed for every take. Finally, we used in-ear headphones that allowed me to hear my own recorded voice from the previous take, so I could act with myself against a green screen. In short, it’s an undeniable fact that Liann truly put thousands of hours and dedication into the final product. In the end, we not only achieved our goals, we exceeded our own expectations.”

For Woo, the film not only brings the colorful world of K-pop to life, but also touches on topics like masculinity and mental health. Hopefully, he’ll get more time to explore the subject.

“We look forward to turning our proof of concept into a full-length feature film,” Woo said. “And we can’t wait to share our unique story with the rest of the world on the big screen.”

Seoul switch will be screened at a few film festivals. The film will be screened at the Korean Cultural Center on July 18 at 6:00 PM as part of the New York Asian Film Festival. It is part of a series of Korean diaspora short films featuring unorthodox characters who take bold steps to rewrite their destiny. In addition, Seoul switch will be part of the lineup for the Asian American International Film Festival in August. The festival is a showcase for the best in independent Asian, Asian diaspora, and Pacific Islander cinema. The film will also be screened at the Greenpoint Film Festival in August. The Brooklyn-based festival is known for its eclectic and cutting-edge film selections.

Seoul switch has has already won a number of awards, including Best Narrative Short at the DisOrient Film Festival, Best Short Film at the Incheon Short Film Festival, and Best Actor and Best Editing at the Hollywood Shortsfest. It was also screened at Short Shorts Asia, the largest short film festival in Asia, and the Bentonville Film Festival, curated by Geena Davis.

“It is an honor to Seoul switch recognized by such prestigious festivals,” said Kaye, who also directed The blessing And Eligible. “This film is a labor of love and I’m glad its message is resonating with audiences in New York and beyond.”