Song Kang Ho Tribute: The Male Muse of South Korea’s Most Prolific Directors

I am going against the flow. Instead of featuring cute or chiseled Korean Hallyu actors and idols, this week’s Pop Blog Crush is Song Kang Ho, Korea’s King of arthouse films.

Song Kang Ho is the only Asian actor to have won Locarno Film Festival’s Excellence Award. He’s also trending these days because his starer film, Parasite, is up for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Foreign Language film. That’s on top of winning Cannes’ Palme d’Or. Hence, he’s one of the internationally sought-after actors, with more possible Hollywood projects.

Who wouldn’t celebrate this actor? As the always go-to-actor or let me say, the male muse of prolific directors Park Chan Wook and Bong Joon Ho, Song Kang Ho has a lot to offer. While other actors still have to audition, Song Kang Ho, in one of his interviews, stated that his last audition was 20 years ago. He only had a meeting with the directors, and that’s it, most of the time, he gets the role. Aside from that, Song said that he tends to readily agree with the character that Bong Joon Ho gives him even before reading the script. This might also be the case in his long-time thespian-director partnership with Park Chan Wook.

We’ve seen it in Hollywood. Martin Scorcesse’s Leonardo (Dicaprio) and Robert (De Niro), Tim Burton’s Johnny (Depp), Wes Anderson’s Bill (Murray). These directors have the same actors to appear in each of their films. Oddly enough, this is more evident in the most awarded directors. It might be their (not-so) secret recipe, maybe?

It may mean that there have been no Korean actors at par with Song Kang Ho’s acting capabilities. Or that Korean directors have been playing safe in choosing roles for their main protagonists. But maybe it’s just because they don’t think an actor could do more justice to the character than Song Kang Ho. Song can play any role given to him with ease. I’ve never seen such a Korean actor so versatile that he can play an innocent barber, a vampire-priest, a King, and his latest being the family patriarch–just as amazing as he could become.

So, the question is, is there anything else that Song Kang Ho hasn’t done? Something that I wish he would? Yes. And that is to work with one of my most favorite Korean directors, Kim Ki Duk.

Art by Jim Morada

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