Go Away With … Suk Park

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By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
June 23, 2015

Born in South Korea, raised in Spain and educated in the United States, entrepreneur Suk Park now resides in Manhattan’s Upper West Side with his wife and two children. Park, 41, is the co-founder and president of DramaFever, a popular multilingual video streaming service that offers viewers subtitled foreign content.

Park, who’s always looking for the next big thing to add to DramaFever’s lineup, says that when he gets on a plane, “I travel with screeners of television shows to get a sense of what the world is watching — usually one or two episodes subtitled into English and originating from non-English speaking countries. Scandinavian noirs, Turkish historical soaps and Japanese taigas are a few of the great content categories that I personally would like to see get more global distribution.”

Q. When you’re not watching things for work, what will you tune into when you’re taking a trip?

A. At home we watch Korean dramas almost exclusively — a lot of romantic comedies sprinkled with some melodramas and the occasional thriller. However, when I travel alone, I’ll watch entire seasons of shows from the United States, United Kingdom and Spain. I’m big on scripted television miniseries, procedurals like “Sherlock,” “Luther” and “True Detective,” and period pieces like “Mad Men,” “Tiempo Entre Costuras” and “The Tudors.”

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. I work closely with my wife and my brother, and the three of us curate the content that makes its way to DramaFever. Every year for the last seven years, the three of us have attended a content licensing conference in the Haeundae district of Busan, Korea. Every time we go, we make sure to stay the weekend to unwind and enjoy some of Busan’s laidback atmosphere and amazing food.

Busan is the epicenter of fresh fish in Korea and there are countless times when I’m in New York dreaming about the Hwaheo Hwe (Korean sashimi) from the restaurants in Nampodong or the small restaurant shacks within the Jagalchi Fish Market. It’s also hard to beat grilling some Korean barbecue next to Dalmaji Hill or having some C1 soju (which is local to Busan) with grilled oysters and scallops at one of the many pojangmachas that line the Haeundae beach. If there are a lot of foreigners in the restaurant, you will be missing the point.

Q. Besides eating, what else would you recommend in Busan?

A. Attend the Busan Film Festival, catch a few movies and make friends with local cinephiles. If you want to go shopping, go to the Shinsegae Centum City — supposedly the largest department store in the world. And take walks by the beach any time of the year, by Dalmaji — especially during cherry blossom season — by Yonggungsa or Beomeosa (two of the many Buddhist temples in this district).

Q. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?

A. I strongly believe that traveling allows you to discover new opportunities, not only professionally, but also at a more personal level. Previous to starting DramaFever, I worked for an American media company that allowed me to travel extensively, mainly throughout Asia. It was then that I discovered the popularity of Korean dramas throughout the entire continent. I could be in Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur and at least one broadcaster dedicated their primetime television to a Korean drama.

Q. If you’ve ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?

A. This past Christmas, my brother and I took our respective families to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, where we grew up and where our parents reside. It was a long trip from New York, with a three-hour layover in Madrid. That would have been fine if we weren’t traveling with a 4 year old and a six month old. However, once in the Canary Islands and away from the harsh New England winter, we were all very happy. The kids loved hanging out in the traditional Spanish plazas eating churros for breakfast and the adults enjoyed wine and local canas (draft beers) at noon for long and lazy lunches. If you ever happen to be in Gran Canaria, I would recommend any of the restaurants in the fishing town of Agaete, where they will pan fry, deep fry, saute or salt bake the local catch with a generous side of hand-cut fries and ice cold bottles of Tropical.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. For culture, Barcelona; for food, Seoul; for love, Paris; to relax, Las Palmas; to live, New York.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I made it to Athens back in the day, but I’d love to visit one of the Greek islands with my wife. Paros? Naxos? Kos? So many to choose from.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. In New York, I gravitate toward Japanese and Greek cuisines. I like the cleanliness of the way the seafood is prepared and the absolute need for quality ingredients. We’re fortunate that as New Yorkers we share a home with Yasuda, Sushi of Gari and Sushi Nakazawa. For estatorios, there is MilosAvra and Nerai. However, when we celebrate, it’s usually Korean BBQ in K-town on 32nd Street. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is probably our favorite spot right now.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?

A. I’ll forget I have high cholesterol.

© 2015 JAE-HA KIM


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