Song Joong-ki is one of the rawest talents to ever grace the small and big screens of South Korea. Every emotion he portrays on screen is rooted in his gut: strong, visceral, real. His good looks may have won him entrance onto the competitive K-drama and K-film playing field, but his skills have kept him on top.
What makes Song stand out as an actor is his keen intelligence and his deep understanding of his roles. He takes great pains to understand the characters he plays while also truly enjoying his work. Song has always chosen roles that challenge him. His first role was in a sageuk film, a period film, which is never an easy place to start. Despite the challenge, he showed an affinity for the camera. As the years progressed and he accumulated experience in front of the camera, Song became not only a talent in front of the camera, but a fine-tuned one.
Song started with smaller roles in drama and film where he performed incredibly well, but the small roles did not garner him much attention. Roles like Yoo Jae-hyuk in the film "Five Senses of Eros" challenged the young actor to stretch his new acting abilities. He fell easily into the sensual role that required the depth of curiosity as well as indecision. It was a great exploratory role for him that showcased his versatility.
In the drama "OB and GY" his role was more run-of-the-mill - a pretty boy doctor who must learn to take life a little more seriously. It wasn't Song's most solid role choice and didn't showcase him very well. However, another pretty boy role brought him prodigious Hallyu fame in 2010 - Gu Yong-ha in "Sungkyunkwan Scandal". This was his breakout role that allowed him to win hearts with his effervescent nonchalance and to prove himself to his peers with the depth required of him. It was here that the layered performance from "Five Senses of Eros" was manifested. His acting was entirely in the moment, showcasing each raw emotion through his eyes, a talent many veteran actor spend years cultivating.
"Sungkyunkwan Scandal" opened doors for Song and he received better role offers in films and dramas. One of the larger films he worked on, 2011's "Penny Pinchers" helped him further solidify his reputation as a serious actor and helped to prove that he wasn't just pretty boy "Gu Yong-ha" from "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" - he was whoever he wanted to be in front of the camera. Good looks can often pidgeon hole actors into certain roles, but not for Song. His charisma was strong enough to carry "Penny Pinchers" on his shoulders and help it make it past the duller moments.
The year of 2012 was Song's strongest year. He was in the film "A Werewolf Boy" and the drama "Nice Guy". These roles really tested Song. "A Werewolf Boy" was a mostly nonverbal role and required a physical efficiency of Song that he hadn't yet been asked for. He spent time training to move like a canine and was remarkably effective as Chul-soo, the feral wolf boy who slowly learned to live with people. The lack of speech in the role challenged Song to express everything through his face and body placement. This role made him grow more than any other and he rose to the occasion.
"Nice Guy" 's Kang Ma-ru was the darkest of the roles he has played to date. It required a deadened affect and empty eyes that Song portrayed with such realism that it was scary. Throughout the drama, no matter how crazy the script got, Song kept Ma-ru consistent in how he changed and overcame each obstacle. Like in "Penny Pinchers", he was a grounding force in the drama.
After Song returns from the army, he will have high expectations to live up to, but he will be able to fulfill them. He has the natural charisma, the inborn drive, and the talent to take on whatever comes his way. I would love to see him continue to challenge himself as he has in the past.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Song Joong-ki"
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