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Song Il-kook (송일국)

OG K-drama fans will recognize Song Il-gook as the titular character in the massive historical k-drama hit Jumong (2006). The originally planned 60-episode series was so popular that it was extended to 81 episodes and won the Daesang (Grand Prize) in the Baeksang Arts Awards of 2007.

Birthday October 1, 1971
Instagram songilkook

Maybe it was written in the stars for him to take on the role as the founder of the kingdom of Goguryeo. He is, after all, the great-grandson of an independence movement general in the early 1900s and scion of a political family. However, it wasn’t politics that called to Song Il-gook but show business. He majored in Performing Arts in Cheongju University and later completed a master’s degree in Chung-Ang University.

Since his debut in 1999, Song Il-gook has starred in several historical dramas including Emperor of the Sea (2004), The Kingdom of the Winds (2008) and Jang Yeong-sil (2016). His other dramas include The Lobbyist, which in 2007 had one of the most expensive budgets, A Man Called God (2010), Detectives in Trouble (2011)—based on real-life criminal cases—and Kimchi Family (2011-12), where he played a gangster looking to start a new life.

Younger k-variety fans however know Song Il-gook as the father of fraternal triplets Dae-han, Min-guk, and Man-se. (The names said together mean “Long Live the Republic of Korea.” Given Song Il-kook’s background and the fact that his wife is a High Court judge, the patriotic names are hardly surprising.) From 2014-16, Song Il-gook and his sons were series regulars in The Return of Superman, a variety show that follows celebrity fathers taking care of their children for 48 hours while their wives take some time off. In the show, Song Il-gook was sometimes referred to as a “saint” for his calm, good-natured response to his sons’ antics. Apart from joining his sons on new adventures, he also showed how he trained for triathlons with his sons in tow.

After his family’s stint in The Return of Superman, Song Il-gook took a hiatus to join his wife and sons in France, where his wife had gone for further training. In an interview, Song Il-gook said that it hadn’t been the best decision for his career, but it was certainly the best decision for his family.

In 2020, he returned to the stage in the musical 42nd Street. Actor, model, sketch artist, triathlete, family man—there seems to be nothing this man can’t do.

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