Song Joong-ki (Korean: 송중기; born September 19, 1985) is a South Korean actor. He is best known for being one of the original cast members of the variety show Running Man (2010-2011) and taking on diverse roles in television dramas such as Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010), The Innocent Man (2012), Descendants of the Sun (2016) and Arthdal Chronicles (2019), as well as the box office hits A Werewolf Boy (2012) and The Battleship Island (2017).
Song was Gallup Korea's Actor of the Year in 2017. He placed seventh in Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list in 2013, and ranked second in 2017 and eighth in 2018.The success of his television dramas internationally established him as a top Hallyu star.
Early life and education
The second child of the three siblings, Song was raised in the rural outskirts of Daejeon. He competed in short track speed skating and represented his home city of Daejeon at national level (he would go on to portray a national speed skater in the TV series Triple). An injury forced him to give up the sport during his first year of high school. He excelled in his studies all through high school and scored 380 points out of 400 on his national college entrance test, gaining admission to Sungkyunkwan University. While in Seoul preparing for the entrance test, he was scouted on the subway by an agent but did not immediately enter the entertainment industry as he was still ambivalent about his career path, and because his father had initially been against him becoming an actor. He continued to study part-time after deciding to enter the entertainment industry full-time during his third year of university, eventually graduating with a degree in Business Administration (minor in broadcasting) in 2012.
Song first appeared in a TV show as a contestant on KBS's Quiz Korea, substituting for a senior who was sick. Song eventually won second place. This brought him significant attention, and he became a cover model for the university magazine College.
2008–2011: Beginnings and breakthrough
Song made his acting debut in the 2008 period film A Frozen Flower. The following year, he appeared in the couple-swapping segment "Believe in the Moment" of omnibus Five Senses of Eros and continued to take on small but notable roles in Triple and Will It Snow for Christmas?. Song also became a regular host of KBS Friday music program Music Bank from 2009 to 2010. He then appeared in the 2010 medical drama OB & GY, and animal movie sequel Hearty Paws 2.
Song's breakout role came in the fusion historical drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal where he played the role of an 18th-century Joseon-era rich, indolent playboy. Despite stable but unspectacular ratings, the drama became a cult hit and his on-screen "bromance" with a then-unknown Yoo Ah-in was popular with viewers. Song also joined the cast of variety program Running Man from 2010 to 2011.
Song later released the book Beautiful Skin Project, a bestselling health and beauty guide for men (which was re-released in Japan in 2013). In late 2010, he went on a bicycling tour around Sydney, which aired two episodes on TV via ELLE, an offshoot of the eponymous fashion magazine. Moreover, a TV special of the actor's trip to Japan entitled I'm Real: Song Joong-ki aired two parts in early 2011. Song later became an MC for jTBC audition program Made in U.
In 2011, Song starred as a jobless deadbeat in the romantic comedy Penny Pinchers. His acting performance was praised by critics, declaring him a "charismatic, swoon-worthy leading man with a viable presence."
Song took on the role of the young king Sejong in Deep Rooted Tree (2011). Critics praised Song's performance, calling it a portrayal of a genius who "realizes the futility of power early in life" and hides in his books to cope with growing up under the rule of his tyrannical father Taejong. Song received the PD Award at the 2011 SBS Drama Awards for the role.
He later narrated the six-part documentary Tears of the Antarctic for MBC program Tears of the Earth (2012), which focuses on pressing environmental issues on the planet and donated his entire salary to charity. He reprised his role as narrator when the series was re-edited and released in theaters as Pengi and Sommi (2012). He later went on a fan-meeting tour called Song Joong-ki Asia Fan Meeting Tour – THRILL & LOVE, holding fan meetings in Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea.
2012–2015: Leading roles and military enlistment
Song described 2012 as a "phenomenal year" for his career. He played the titular character in fantasy romance film A Werewolf Boy, which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. In preparation for his role, Song watched nature documentaries and observed stray dogs on the streets to learn how to mime and imitate the body movements of an animal. He also repeatedly watched Tim Burton's 1990 romantic fantasy Edward Scissorhands, Matt Reeves' 2010 vampire flick Let Me In, and Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. The film was screened at the Busan International Film Festival, and became the most successful Korean melodrama of all time, with more than 7 million tickets sold.
The same year, he took on his first leading drama role in television, The Innocent Man. His assured and nuanced portrayal of an antihero received praise from critics and audience. The drama attracted high ratings, which along with the impressive box office run of A Werewolf Boy, cemented Song's image in the press as the "savior" of the melodrama genre both on the big and small screen.
In February 2013, after his contract with entertainment agency Sidus HQ expired, Song announced that he will be joining Blossom Entertainment.
Prior to his enlistment for his mandatory military service, Song held a fan meeting on August 17, 2013. He then enlisted on August 27 at the 102nd draft camp in Chuncheon. He served in an infantry unit assigned to patrol and conduct reconnaissance missions along the DMZ and was discharged on May 26, 2015.
2016–present: International popularity
Song made his small screen comeback in Descendants of the Sun alongside actress Song Hye-kyo, playing a military officer. The drama was incredibly popular in Korea with a peak viewership rating of 41.6% and in Asia, where it was viewed 2.5 billion times on iQiyi. The drama reestablished Song as a leader of the Hallyu, and he topped popularity polls in Asia.
Song was made the Korean Tourism Honorary Ambassador by the Korea Tourism Organization to actively promote Korean tourism worldwide. He was the first actor to be invited to the nationwide live prime-time news show KBS News 9 due to his tremendous popularity and that of the drama. He was also listed as one of the Top 100 Future Generation of Leaders, at #34. He became the face of over 30 brands in 2016 alone and was one of the recipients of Korea's "Brand of the Year" award. He then embarked on a series of sold-out Asian tour spanning 10 different cities, where he met more than 60,000 fans.
Song was then cast in the period action film The Battleship Island (2017). He stars alongside actors So Ji-sub and Hwang Jung-min and portrays a member of the Korean independence movement, who sneaks onto Hashima Island to rescue a fellow member.
Song made his small screen comeback in the historical fantasy drama Arthdal Chronicles, which premiered on tvN in 2019. The drama was a reunion project with his Descendants of the Sun co-star Kim Ji won.
In January 2020, Song left Blossom Entertainment and signed with History D&C, a newly-launched talent management and content production company founded by former SidusHQ executive Hwang Ki-yong.
Song is set to star in the science fiction film Victory Ship alongside Kim Tae-ri, which will be directed by Jo Sung-hee and criminal thriller film Bogota alongside Lee Hee-joon and Kwon Hae-hyo, which will be directed by Kim Seong-je. Song is also expected to reprise his roles (Eun Seom, Saya) for the second season of Arthdal Chronicles, reportedly to begin filming in September or October 2020.
Song has primarily been known for his "flower boy" or "pretty boy" image and elite education background, having majored business administration at one of the top universities in Korea, Sungkyunkwan University and worked as an active anchor of the campus broadcaster. He was called the school's "ulzzang" (best face) and "umchina" or "mom's friend's son" (perfect son).
Being casted in Running Man in 2010, he earned other nicknames such as "detective Joong-ki," "brainy Joong-ki" and "active/enthusiastic Joong-ki" for his eagerness and optimism in strategizing during the race missions; but often result in failure. His theme song is "Pretty Boy" by M2M. In 2011, after effectively playing the younger version of King Sejong in Deep Rooted Tree that made him trend in web portals, he earned the title "good actor Song Joong-ki." Song has been called the "Korea's DiCaprio" after the hit drama The Innocent Man and most watched melodrama movie A Werewolf Boy in 2012. The actor admitted that he is a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio since he was young and wanted to follow his career path. In 2016, two years after his mandatory military service, the "Song Joong-ki Effect" was coined upon his portrayal of the dashing Army Captain Yoo Shi-jin in Descendants of the Sun. He was made the Korea Tourism Organization's Honorary Ambassador, topped popularity polls in Asia, and became the CF King. However, Song insisted that he never wanted a meteoric rise in popularity. He said: "It's inevitable that popularity fades. That's why I must always be prepared." Dr. Jun Sung, author of Korean Masculinities and Transcultural Consumption, cited Song as the embodiment of "soft masculinity."
Former journalist Kim Young-ho said that he is more than just a Hallyu star and called him "a man of character." He stated: "He is humble, well-mannered and very polite. Even after he rose to stardom, there was no change in his demeanor and he's still humble." Actor So Ji-sub described him as "a manly man without any pretense." Other personalities in Korea that have been vocal of his good manners include Gummy, DinDin, Park Hoon, Kim Jong-kook, Onew, Moon Chae-won, Park Bo-young, Jo In-sung, and Lee Kwang-soo. He is also known for his regular donations to several causes and participation in philanthropic acts.
Song considers it his "responsibility" to be aware of his influence on fans that expanded overseas. He said: "I could have never made it to such a position without the help of many others. I think the effort and hard work of my predecessors, staff members, and fans have contributed to such a result. Thus, I do have a sense of responsibility. I want to live up to my reputation as a Korean citizen, actor, and person. I will try my best to be modest but confident at all times." In 2017, when asked about starring in the movie The Battleship Island that shows sensitive subject of Korean-Japanese history, he expressed that it was a small expression of his beliefs.
When it comes to social media accounts, Song does not have any for he is not tech-savvy. His fancafe, established in early 2006, becomes his way to communicate with his official fandom named "Ki Aile," which means "Ki's wings." Song said the fans are like his wings for they lift him up, emotionally and financially, by voting for him and buying the products he endorses as well as watch all his movies and TV shows.
In 2010, Song and Park Shin-hye were chosen as PR ambassadors for the 17th Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF). In 2011, Song was chosen as the PR ambassador for the Good Library Project, a talent donation campaign by the Standard Chartered that allows the public to participate in the production of audiobooks for the visually impaired. In 2013, Song and Ha Ji-won were appointed as honorary ambassadors of medical tourism by South Korea's Ministry of Health and Welfare. They appeared in regional cities on behalf of Medical Korea as they promote greater international co-operation for medical technology and positive medical tourism. In 2016, Song was chosen as the honorary ambassador and promotional model for Korean tourism under South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. From 2017 to 2020, Song is titled the honorary ambassador for Incheon International Airport.
Song has been a celebrity advocate for cancer-stricken children since 2011. This was later known in early March 2016 through the announcement made by the Korea Childhood Leukemia Foundation (KCLF) on their official blog. More than 10 children have received treatment anonymously provided by him. According to KCLF, he has participated in the "Yellow Ribbon Campaign" to raise awareness about childhood cancers. For the past 5 years, he has donated rice wreaths from press conferences and his pay generated from narrating the award-winning documentary Tears of the Antarctic. This has inspired his official fan club Ki Aile to celebrate his birthdays by donating transplant fees to help patients with leukemia and cancer. Song has since made donations to KCLF every year.
Song also extends support for humanitarian relief. In 2015, during his military service, he donated 100 million won to the UNICEF Korea Committee to help the children and victims of the April 2015 Nepal earthquake. In 2016, Song donated all of his proceeds from being featured on the May 13th episode of Hurry Up, Brother, a Chinese version of Running Man, to a Chinese charity organization. Song has also donated a portion of his profits from the 2016 Asian Fan Meeting Tour to a foundation that helps those affected by 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In addition, his revenues from Seoul and Thailand fan meetings were all donated to an unnamed charity. Subsequently, Song donated 20 million won to the House of Sharing in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, a shelter for elderly women who were forced into being comfort women by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. The actor is likely influenced while filming his movie The Battleship Island, a period action film about Korean workers under Japanese rule. Later in July 2017, his fans donated to the same center. In 2019, Song has donated 30 million won for the victims of wildfire in Gangwon Province. In February 2020, Song has donated 100 million won for coronavirus prevention. He contacted directly from Bogotá without notifying his agency.
Song has had endorsement deals in nearly every industry such as healthcare, cosmetic, clothing, food, travel and tourism, telecom, electronics and retail. He first appeared in a television commercial of Dunkin' Donuts in May 2008. After starring in drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal in 2010, Song became the face of fashion brands EZIO and TBJ,casual clothing brand AD HOC with Min Hyo-rin, sports brand Le Coq Sportif with IU, as well as foods Pizza Etang, a popular pizza in South Korea and Ottogi Snack Ramen. In the digital and technology sector, Song was chosen for the brand Xbox 360 Kinect because of his "child-like, innocent, and healthy" image that matches the new hands-free game controller and LG XNote with Shin Min-a in 2011. Song was also appointed as the official ambassador of the skincare Tony Moly and FUJIFILM polaroid for two consecutive years. Subsequently, he appeared in restaurant brand Sonsoo's advertisement as a prodigy cook alongside Song Seung-heon and Yoon Sang-hyun. Song was also chosen as the new model of the dairy brand Seoul Milk.
Soon after starring in drama The Innocent Man and film A Werewolf Boy in 2012, Blossom Entertainment reported that Song was on his way to become the next CF King with 10 endorsement deals under his belt. For two years in a row, he was the main model for the global soda brand Sprite.From 2013 to 2016, he was the endorser of the water purifier brand Ruhens. In February 2019, Ruhens selected Song as their endorser again.
Following the release of the pan-Asian hit drama Descendants of the Sun in 2016, Song became the face of more than 30 international and local products. The Korea Broadcast Advertising Promotion Corporation (KOBACO) "2016 Consumer Behavior Survey" picked Song as the best model to represent South Korean brands. Some of his ad include Baskin Robbins, LG Household & Health Care, KT, Forencos, Jeju Air, Hite Jinro, Cuchen, as well as lucrative Chinese products like Proya with Zhang Ziyi, Tencent, and VIVO. Song also worked with Park Bo-gum as brand models for Domino's Pizza and LINE Pay Card. In February 2017, Song was announced as the brand ambassador of the online market place "11Street" of SK Planet in Thailand. He was paired with Thai actress Mew Nittha on TV, digital, and outdoor ads on the busiest Bangkok Mass Transit System stations in Chit Lom, Siam and Phrom Pong. Cheil Tailand reported that it was a successful campaign as its Facebook page exceeded 1 million views upon its launching. In April 2018, Song was revealed as the new endorser of Hyundai LIVART, a Korea-based lifestyle culture company. They chose Song as its advertising model only 14 years after actress Kim Nam-joo in 2004.
On July 5, 2017, Song and Descendants of the Sun co-star Song Hye-kyo announced through their respective agencies that they were engaged. They married in a private ceremony on October 31, 2017 at Youngbingwan, Hotel Shilla in Seoul, amid intense media interest across Asia with his closest family and friends.
On June 26, 2019, Song Joong-ki filed for a divorce, which was finalized in July 2019.
|2011||"Enjoy A Rummy"||맛있게도 냠냠||tracks from Penny Pinchers OST|
|"The Water is Wide"
||바다가 넓어 건널|
|2012||"Really"||정말||track from The Innocent Man OST|
|September 20, 2009||Seoul||First Fan Meeting Birthday Party||Seoul Asian Art Hall|
|November 25, 2011||Kobe||1st Japan Fan Meeting||Kobe Portopia|
|November 27, 2011||Tokyo||Sanrio Puroland|
|April 28, 2012||Bangkok||Thrill & Love: First Asia Fan Meeting Tour||Paragon Hall|
|May 27, 2012||Singapore||Singapore Shine Auditorium|
|June 2012||Hong Kong|
|July 22, 2012||Seoul||Kyunghee University Crown Hall|
|August 17, 2013||Fan Meeting in Seoul||Sangmyung Art Center|
|April 17, 2016||5th Fan Meeting in Seoul: The Day We Meet Again||Kyunghee University Pavilion|
|May 7, 2016||Bangkok||2016 Asia Fan Meeting Tour||Thunder Dome, Muangthong Thani|
|May 14, 2016||Beijing||Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium|
|May 21, 2016||Wuhan||Wuhan Lobby, China Culture Expo Center|
|May 27, 2016||Guangzhou||Guangzhou International Sports Arena|
|May 28, 2016||Shenzhen||Shenzhen Bay Sports Center|
|June 11, 2016||Hong Kong||AsiaWorld–Arena|
|June 17, 2016||Chengdu||Chengdu Sports Centre|
|June 25, 2016||Taipei||National Taiwan University Sports Center|
|July 16, 2016||Shanghai||Shanghai Indoor Stadium|
|September 1, 2018||Seoul||Our Day Together: 10th Anniversary Fan Meeting||Kyung Hee University Peace Hall|
Awards and nominations
|2010||3rd Style Icon Awards||New Style Icon (TV Actor)||N/A||Won|
|31st Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best New Actor||Hearty Paws 2||Nominated|
|SBS Entertainment Awards||Best Newcomer in a Variety Show||Running Man||Won|
|KBS Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actor in a Mid-length Drama||Sungkyunkwan Scandal||Nominated|
|Best Couple Award||Won|
|2011||6th Asia Model Festival Awards||BBF Fashionista Award||N/A||Won|
|7th Korea Drama Awards||Best New Actor||Sungkyunkwan Scandal||Nominated|
|SBS Drama Awards||Producer's Award||Deep Rooted Tree||Won|
|2012||6th Mnet 20's Choice Awards||20's Male Drama Star||Nominated|
|5th Style Icon Awards||Style Icon||N/A||Won|
|20th Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actor||The Innocent Man||Won|
|1st K-Drama Star Awards||Won|
|KBS Drama Awards||Won|
|Excellence Award, Actor in a Mid-length Drama||Nominated|
|Best Couple Award||Won|
|2013||49th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (Film)||A Werewolf Boy||Nominated|
|6th Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Actor||Won|
|7th Mnet 20's Choice Awards||20's Male Movie Star||Nominated|
|50th Grand Bell Awards||Popularity Award||Nominated|
|8th Seoul International Drama Awards||Outstanding Korean Actor||The Innocent Man||Nominated|
|Outstanding Korean Drama OST||"Really"
(The Innocent Man OST)
|2016||8th Style Icon Asia||Style Icon||N/A||Won|
|52nd Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actor (TV)||Descendants of the Sun||Nominated|
|Most Popular Actor (TV)||Won|
|iQiyi Global Star Award||N/A||Won|
|Korean Consumer Forum Awards||Korea's Brand of the Year||N/A||Won|
|11th Seoul International Drama Awards||Outstanding Korean Actor||Descendants of the Sun||Won|
|5th APAN Star Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)||Won|
|Best Actor in a Miniseries||Nominated|
|Best Couple Award||Won|
|Best APAN Star Award||N/A||Won|
|9th Korea Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||Descendants of the Sun||Nominated|
|7th Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards||President's Award||N/A||Won|
|1st Asia Artist Awards||Most Popular Actor||Descendants of the Sun||Nominated|
|30th KBS Drama Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)||Won|
|Top Excellence Award, Actor||Nominated|
|Excellence Award, Actor in a miniseries||Nominated|
|Netizen Award, Actor||Nominated|
|Best Asia Couple||Won|
|Yahoo! Asia Buzz Awards||Asia Popular Artist Award, Male||N/A||Nominated|
|Korean Producer Awards||Best Performer Award||Won|