Few Korean actors command the level of respect and admiration that Song Kang-ho does. Ranked 6th in the New York Times' Greatest Actors of the 21st Century list, this ahjussi has a filmography as enviable as his acting chops. While many now know him from the Oscar-winning tragicomedy Parasite and the 2013 blockbuster Snowpiercer, critics and fans have long held him in high regard for his electrifying performances in his older films. Bong Joon-ho has often called Song Kang-ho a genius and his acting "explosive... and magical."
Birthday: January 17, 1967
As one of the most prolific and talented actors in South Korea, Song has appeared in over 80 films and television dramas. He made his acting debut in the film The Day a Pig Fell into the Well in 1996, and has since become known for his powerful performances and versatility. From a humble theater background, he shot to popularity when he starred in Park Chan-wook's now-classic Joint Security Area (2000). His profile rose even higher when he starred in the auteur's follow-up film, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), where he played the father to a murdered daughter. Ultimately, he seeks vengeance on her killer in the most harrowing ways. Since then, he has worked with many other notable directors such as Lee Chang-dong in Secret Sunshine (2007), but he has collaborated most frequently with Bong Joon-ho, who cast him as the lead in Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006) and of course, Parasite (2019). Other notable films of Song Kang-ho include the Oscar entry The Throne (2015), the period film The Age of Shadows (2016), and the political film A Taxi Driver (2017).
Some of his most notable films include:
Joint Security Area (2000), in which he played a North Korean soldier who becomes friends with a South Korean soldier. The film was a commercial and critical success and helped establish Song as a leading actor in South Korea.
Memories of Murder (2003), a crime thriller based on the true story of the first serial killings in South Korea. Song played a detective trying to solve the case, and the film received widespread critical acclaim and awards.
The Host (2006), a creature feature film that tells the story of a mutant monster that emerges from the Han River in Seoul and begins attacking the city. Song played the patriarch of a family who try to rescue their daughter from the creature. The film was a huge box office success and received positive reviews.
Thirst (2009), a horror-drama film directed by Park Chan-wook, in which Song played a Catholic priest who becomes a vampire after a medical experiment gone wrong. The film received critical acclaim and won the Prix du Jury award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Parasite (2019), a dark comedy-thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho, won the Palme d'Or award at Cannes, and it was the first Korean film to win the award. Song played the patriarch of a poor family who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family. The film was a massive commercial and critical success, receiving numerous awards and nominations.
Song Kang-ho is known for his ability to play diverse characters and his performances in his movies are always considered as the highlights of the films. He has a large and dedicated fanbase and continues to be a respected and influential figure in the South Korean film industry.