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Jul 02, 2015 | 10:05 AM EDT

How Sam Okyere Became A Star In Korea

BY Julie Jones

So, who was the African actor who impressed viewers with his mastery of Korean in "Warm and Cozy?" His name is Sam Okyere. He's 24 and he comes from Ghana.

Besides playing a man who wanted to study at the Jeju Island Ladies Diver School, Okyere has appeared on a few variety shows, including "Real Men," "Happy Together," "Master Chef Korea: Season Three," "SNL Korea," and "Quiz To Change The World." He has modeled for Vogue Korea and even serves as a global ambassador for a Korean seaweed company.

Even though he always admired actors, Okyere first came to Korea with a less glamorous plan, to study computer engineering.

"I have dreamed of becoming an actor for a long time, and my role model has been Will Smith," he told the JoongAng Ilbo in a recent interview.

Besides his cameo appearance in "Warm and Cozy," he can also be seen in the 2015 film "Intimate Enemies," with co-stars Go Joon Hee and Ryu Seung Bum. In that film Okyere plays a migrant worker from Africa that is struggling with racial discrimination. Okyere was drawn to the role because he wanted to illustrate the kind of discrimination that immigrants face.

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He came to Korea in 2009 through a program that helps foreign students study computer engineering. He meant to go home after five years but he's been there for seven and has increasingly become more fascinated with Korean culture.

In that time he has learned the language but it wasn't easy. The characters on "Warm and Cozy" were surprised and pleased at his character's language skills. But in an interview with K Colors of Korea, he said it took him a few years to become fluent.

"My Korean didn't pick up after a good three years in Korea," said Okyere. "Compared to my fellow friends who I came to Korea with, I was the last to pick up on my speaking. However after I started university and lived in the all-Korean dormitory a lot of things changed for me. My Korean went from beginner to intermediate in a very short period of time. I still consider myself as a learner as there are more dimensions of the Korean language that I want to explore."

Okyere has noticed a change in attitudes toward foreigners during his seven-year stay there.

"Korea has changed drastically over the last couple of years I've been here. Five years ago, there weren't so many foreigners who spoke Korean. But the number has grown rapidly over very little amount of time. Koreans are now very open to foreigners and they are more aware of the fact that a good number of foreigners speak Korean."

In an interview that Okyere did for Okay Africa, he said that Korean TV has opened doors to foreigners as a way to get them involved in Korean culture.

"They have many awesome TV programs and the standards are very high," he said. "So once the opportunity presented itself, I couldn't resist."

You might say that Okyere has fallen for Korea.

"There is always something about Korea that makes you want to stay even longer. It's like wine; the longer you stay here, the better your experiences get to be."

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