Spring Issue Extra: Jessika Van on Being Strong and Being Lost in Korea


In our latest Spring Issue we got to talk to the up-and-coming actress, Jessika Van, known for her role as Becca in MTV’s Awkward and more recently, as Grace Park in Seoul Searching. Here’s more on her experience while filming.


More on her character Grace Park:

Jessika Van: At the time, it was exactly what I was looking for. I really related to Grace and saw through what she was saying. She’d say she’s cool, but what I saw was that she’s really insecure and that she’s in a lot of pain. Her way of dealing with all that is trying to act like she doesn’t care [and she’s] too cool and too strong. I totally relate to that. I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but I feel like I spend a lot of my time growing up trying to find myself and experiment with what I think I should be. It’s a journey.

There’s a deep part of me that wants to be strong, that wants to represent women well, that wants girls and women to feel like they’re strong and in control and not repressed and not undermined and not degraded. I have a lot of these strong feelings that I’m very passionate about.



Most memorable moment while filming:

JV: As far as Korea itself, we were mostly filming in the countryside. Out in the boonies, four hours out of Seoul. Because my character in the film is independent in a lot of ways, I go off all by myself. I remember one day, I wanted to see nature. I did all this research and saw there’s a national park near by. I went to the hotel and I managed to ask for a taxi. I put on my dorky little hat, baseball cap and I put on some dorky clothes and a little backpack to hike with.

The taxi takes me to the base of this mountain and it looks like it’s going to be really beautiful. Then I realize, ‘Oh sh–. How do I get back?’ So then I take out my phone and I put into google translate, “How do I get back to the hotel when I’m done?” I show the guy my phone and he just takes out a business card with his number on it. I’m like, ‘Oh! Yes.’

I go in the park and take a million pictures– beautiful. I walk through the town and end up at this lotus garden… then my phone dies. I try to ask people in the street, they don’t speak english, they want nothing to do with me, they’re probably scared.

So I plug my phone into the bathroom outlet and call the guy. I’m trying to speak to him in English, ‘Taxi? Taxi?’ and trying to say the name of the place, [but] he’s speaking Korean and we can’t communicate. I have no idea if he understands me and if he knows where I am. I hang up and I’m franticly thinking ‘I shouldn’t have moved places. I don’t know where I am. This is so scary.’ I’m looking around and there’s no taxis. Then I start thinking maybe, for some crazy reason, he understood me. I walk to the side of the street outside the lotus garden and I wait. Lo and behold, this little yellow taxi drives up.

My faith in human kind has never been greater. I couldn’t believe that he figured it out and showed up. But it was crazy that here I am running around Korea and [I] speak maybe 10 lines of Korean. It was crazy, but kind of fun. I got really lucky nothing bad happened to me.


Photo by Daniel Nguyen
Read the original story published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here.