RIP Soon-Tek Oh
If you grew up watching anything war or military-related in the 1970s and 1980s, odds are, you saw diasporic Korean actor Soon-Tek Oh– several times. He was truly a gifted man of many faces:
Born in 1932 in Japanese-occupied Korea, he graduated with a degree in political science at Yonsei University in 1959, then flew to Los Angeles to study international relations at UCLA. By 1965 he was acting locally and soon moved into a series of TV and film roles, and somewhat sadly became typecast in roles that called for an “Asian in uniform” for many years, but always gave a good performance.
He was in Airwolf (as three different characters), MASH (as five different characters in both the ROK and DPRK armies), Magnum p.i as an NVA officer, Bond back-up Lt. Hip in The Man with the Golden Gun, Baa Baa Black Sheep as both Lt. Miragochi and the 20+ years older Col. Tokura, the list goes on.
One of my favorite roles was as IJN pilot Lt. Shimura in the sci-fi flick The Final Countdown, where the USS Nimitz gets zapped from 1980 to Dec. 6, 1941 outside of Pearl Harbor, and Shimura gets captured when he loses a fight in his Zero against a pair of Jolly Roger F14s (go figure)– but goes down fighting. (Also I am a sucker for carrier MARDETs and woodland camo, so there is that….)
Oh died earlier this month at age 85.