Ma Dong-seok, a burly actor who bears a striking resemblance to a grizzly bear, is quickly taking the Korean film industry by storm.

Ma, who also sometimes goes by his English name, Don Lee, has proved himself to be a rising star of Korean cinema since his breakout role in the 2016 action thriller Train to Busan.

국내최초 팔뚝 액션 #챔피언 ! 많은 기대 부탁드려요~^^

A post shared by 마동석 (@madongseok_) on Mar 20, 2018 at 8:16pm PDT

He is big, muscular, and not someone you would describe as conventionally handsome.

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In Korea’s perfectly composed entertainment industry (just think about the latest hotshot boasting beautiful skin, gorgeous Photoshopped looks and a slim physique to match), Ma is an outlier, an asterisk and an exception to the rule.

Since he first stepped onto the screen in Train to Busan as Sang-hwa, a dedicated father-to-be who risks his life to get his pregnant wife and the rest of the surviving pack of passengers away from a zombie apocalypse and towards safety, he has been recognised as a major hit with the crowds.

You certainly can’t deny the similarities between actors Ma Dong-seok and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson: they’re both big men with big muscles and even bigger fan appeal

He has certainly kept himself busy since then, with a series of successful projects.

They include a leading role in Champion (released in May in Korea, and now playing on screens in Hong Kong), to a surprise cameo in the hit film, Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (released in Korea last December), which delighted audiences and hinted at his starring role in the forthcoming sequel.

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Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days – which opens in Hong Kong on August 9 – will be quickly followed by Wonderful Ghost (opening on September 26 in Korea).

In the Along with the Gods sequel, he plays Sung Joo-shin, a guardian angel-like character, who has mysterious ties to the grim reapers of the underworld.

The biggest question though, however, is whether Ma can continue his string his successes to build his own empire – or whether he’s set to be remembered as a one-hit wonder.

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With acting roles that emphasise his comedic timing paired with bulging muscles, one can’t help but wonder if Ma is the South Korean version of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

You certainly can’t deny the similarities: they’re both big men with big muscles and even bigger fan appeal.

Yet whether he can emulate Johnson’s phenomenal success – that’s a whole different question.

Before we make up our minds, here are four reasons why the comparison might just be a deserved one.

They’re both pretty jacked up 

We present to you, exhibit A:

5월 1일 개봉합니다^^~ #챔피언 #스틸공개3편 #5월1일개봉확정

A post shared by 마동석 (@madongseok_) on Apr 18, 2018 at 1:47am PDT

And exhibit B:

We leave the case to you, dear reader, and your meticulous eye for detail.

They’ve both got great comedic sense

Impeccable comedic timing can’t be denied.

Whether it’s the Rock knowing when to smirk just the right way, or Ma rolling his eyes at the right time, they’ve both mastered the art of comedy without being comedians themselves.

잡히면 무조건 넘긴다! 5월 개봉하는 #챔피언 ^^~

A post shared by 마동석 (@madongseok_) on Mar 20, 2018 at 8:17pm PDT

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They both draw in the crowds 

Ma has shown off his bankable side with hits such as Train to Busan and the two 2017 films The Outlaws and The Bros.

Train to Busan attracted an audience of more than 10 million people, making it one of Korea’s top 10 most successful films.

His latest comedy, Champion, was seen by 1.1 million people in Korea, which is a smaller – but not an embarrassingly low – figure.

However, the film Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days, is expected to do better. The first in the series, Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds, was seen by a staggering 13.6 million people.

Dwayne Johnson’s latest offering, the action film Skyscraper, has raked in US$257 million worldwide so far.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle brought in US$404.5 million in the United States, a quarter of which was earned over the opening weekend.

Globally, it made US$950.8 million.

While some of his other films may not have performed as well as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (which will have its own sequel set to be released in 2019), you can’t deny the dude is a golden-egg-laying goose.

Leading man or team player? They can do both

Remember Skyscraper? That film rode entirely on Johnson’s muscular shoulders. Same thing for Champion, which was carried solely by Ma’s beefy arms.

While they do well as leading men, they perform just as well – maybe even better – when cast in an ensemble.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle boasted a stellar cast made up of Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, each playing to the strengths of each other. And don’t forget other films such as Get Smart (alongside Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell) and Fast & Furious.

For Ma, Train to Busan showed off his skills alongside veteran actors such as Gong Yoo and K-pop star-turned actress Ahn So-hee, formerly of girl group Wonder Girls.

In Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days, Ma will be starring alongside Ha Jung-woo, Lee Jung-jae, Kim Dong-wook and K-pop star-actor Do Kyung-soo of popular boy band EXO.

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