From first time director Justin Chon, Gook tells the story of two Korean American brothers who befriend a young African American girl around the time of the 1992 Rodney King riots. The film stars Chon, David So and Simone Baker and premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
Justin Chon is an actor and director from Irvine, CA. Chon has appeared in films such as Twilight (2008) and 21 & Over (2013) and will be in the upcoming ABC crime series Deception (2017). He co-starred and directed his most recent film, Gook (2017).
Born in South Korea and raised in Sacramento, CA, David So is a YouTube comedian and actor who starred in his first film, Gook, this year. So owns and operates his own soft serve joint, Drips & Swirls, in Koreatown, Los Angeles.
It’s been a several years since actor Justin Chon first approached his friend and YouTube comedian David So about co-starring in Gook. At the time, Gook was no more than an idea simmering in Chon’s imagination, but the film came to fruition this year as his impressive directorial debut. Starring Justin Chon, David So and fellow newcomer Simone Baker, Gook follows the unlikely friendship between two Korean American brothers and a young African American girl during the 1992 Rodney King riots. The two friends discuss the road to Gook, YouTube and what they hope to accomplish next.
Justin Chon: Alright, David. We already know each other, but tell me about how you came up in the game.
David So: Where can we begin? Sacramento, I was terrible in school. My GPA average was 2.7, which mind you was pretty good considering the quality of my work. And then I went to college begrudgingly, didn’t want to be there.
JC: You went to UC Riverside, right?
DS: Yeah. UCR at that time was a shithole.
JC: But now it’s really good.
“I took this sociology class that had to do with new age media, and I saw this like YouTuber do something and was like ‘That guy’s famous?! He sucks!’ So I was like, ‘Cool, I’ll do my own!’”
— David So
DS: Yeah they took my tuition money and built all this shit. I went to UCR for a little bit, and during that time I was trying to do music and stand up comedy—acting wasn’t something I’d ever wanted to do. After UCR, I went to a community college for a couple of years, then I was at Sac State. I took this sociology class that had to do with new age media, and I saw this like YouTuber do something and was like “That guy’s famous?! He sucks!” So I was like, “Cool, I’ll do my own!” Created content, video blew up, moved to LA. I actually met you during the first year and a half that I was in LA, and the rest is history. What about you?
JC: Caused a lot of trouble when I was young. I went to USC with a 3.2 or 3.1 GPA, which was good enough to get into USC at the time. Now, it’s like you need…
DS: Like a 4.8.
JC: I majored in business, but after an internship in Silicon Valley I realized I didn’t want anything to do with finance or tech. So I started acting at 19. I enrolled in school, fell in love with it and just climbed the ladder. Then through being in other people’s projects, I realized I didn’t want to always be someone’s bitch.
DS: What’s the first thing you ever booked?
“When I would sing, I was so nervous that I would just talk and be doing stand up anyways. I remember people saying, ‘Oh, you’re that stand up comedian that sings, right?’ ‘No, I’m a musician!’”
— David So
JC: In the beginning, I booked a bunch of commercials. I did a commercial for Toyota. It was right here in Little Tokyo, at the Japanese Center with all the glass. Basically there’s different spots: “You’re going to represent Tacoma as the rugged guy. You’re going to represent Camry…” And I was like, “Oh, so what’s mine?” They’re like, “You’re going to represent Corolla.” “Damn it!” But yeah, I did a bunch of commercials and got my SAG card from doing extra work, so I have a lot of sympathy for extras because I know what it feels like. Then directing just came naturally from being on set so much. Tell me about your dreams of wanting to make music.