Song Joong Ki rose to Hallyu superstardom when he captured fan hearts across the globe through his role as Captain Yoo Si Jin in 2016 drama Descendants of the Sun (DOTS). He made headlines (and shippers’ dreams come true) a year after when he married DOTS co-star Song Hye Kyo (UPDATE: September 19, 2019: Sadly, the couple ended up finalizing their divorce on July 22, 2019). 2018 marks Joong Ki’s 10th year as an actor. True to his commitment to his fans, this Korean actor came out of his hiatus to celebrate this milestone on September 1, 2018 with members of his loyal fan club, Ki Aile (a Korean name that translates to “Song Joong Ki’s wings.”)
Early life, pre-stardom
Longtime fans know that there is more to Joong Ki than talent and good looks. The actor traces his roots to the rural outskirts of Daejeon, a city located in the central region of South Korea. Born as the second of three siblings (he has an older brother and a sister seven years younger than him) on the September 19, 1985.
Joong Ki was a shy child who excelled in sports and academics. He brought pride to his hometown by representing it in several track speed skating competitions and scored top marks in school. To help him overcome his shyness and boost his social skills, his parents enrolled him in acting classes. Joong Ki was a consistent model student and his high grades gained him admission to Seoul’s prestigious Sungkyunkwan University where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration in 2012.
Song Joong Ki's most memorable roles
Joong Ki made his acting debut in the 2008 historical film A Frozen Flower, headlined by Jo In Sung, Song Ji Hyo, and Joo Jin Mo. The year after, he starred in a film short called Believe in the Moment from the film Five Senses of Eros. His exposure to the small screen came in the form of modest roles in Triple, Will it Snow for Christmas?, and medical drama OB/GYN Doctors.
Steadily gaining recognition for his flower boy features, his breakthrough role came in 2010 when he played the part of charming playboy Yeo Rim in historical K-drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal alongside Park Min Young (from drama What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?), Park Yoo Chun (from K-Pop group JYJ), and Yoo Ah In (from drama Six Flying Dragons). Fan attention to Joong Ki’s onscreen bromance with Yoo Ah In was one for the books—garnering the pair the Best Couple Award at the 2010 KBS Drama Awards.
Joong Ki sustained his rise in popularity by giving fans a weekly glimpse of his athletic, competitive, and down-to-earth personality through iconic K-variety show Running Man. His one-year stint with the show still ignites a lot of great memories because of the strong ties he built with his co-stars, especially with funny man and real-life BFF Lee Kwang Soo.
Korean beauty brand Tony Moly took notice of Joong Ki’s rise in popularity and his picture-perfect skin. He became an official spokesperson for the brand in 2010. More endorsements followed until Joong Ki landed his first lead role in rom-com film Penny Pinchers in 2011. His charisma in the movie went off the charts and led to more high-profile projects such as his role as the young King Sejong in Deep Rooted Tree and his pivotal performance in award-winning tear-jerker A Werewolf Boy (a must-watch for true fans) where he starred alongside Park Bo Young (from Strong Woman Do Bong Soon). A Werewolf Boy gave Joong Ki a chance to shine like no other because it stripped him of glamour and allowed him to showcase his acting chops mainly through facial expressions and gestures. His speaking lines come towards the end of the movie and definitely hit the right spot (be sure to have a box of tissue on hand).
Joong Ki’s last drama before enlisting to fulfill his army duties was The Innocent Man where he romanced Moon Chae Won and cemented his prowess as a swoon-worthy leading man. Fans had to wait two years to see him again when he enlisted to serve in an infantry unit in Chuncheon City in August 2013.
The two years were definitely worth the wait with K-drama hit Descendants of the Sun marking Joong Ki’s return to the entertainment industry. Through the drama, he was able to prove that his acting chops and onscreen charm were as strong as ever—earning him admiration from fans both old and new.
The “Song Joong Ki Effect,” which swept the world as a result of DOTS, earned the actor a rightful spot as the Korea Tourism Organization’s Honorary Ambassador in 2016. It resulted in a brand model all-kill with Joong Ki endorsing products that ranged from food, fashion, and cosmetics to airlines and rice cookers.
Fans clearly could not get enough of the actor. The world’s 2017 Joong Ki fix was fulfilled by action movie Battleship Island where he starred alongside acting legends Hwang Jung Min and So Ji Sub. The movie’s promotional completion marked a halt in Joong Ki’s activities and led to his hiatus. After working non-stop after his army discharge, it was time for him to get some well-deserved rest and devote time to personal commitments.
Joong Ki’s simplicity, authenticity, and concern for fans are traits that separate him from his Hallyu colleagues. The letter he wrote to fans when he confessed his love for Song Hye Kyo and shared news of their October 2017 marriage plans was truly personal, raw, and heartfelt. In a cover story interview for Esquire Korea’s September 2018 issue, he revealed his romantic side by confessing, “Some men may find riches or fame important in life, but I think that for a man to become the manliest he must love his woman until the end, without changing.”
Song Joong Ki's big comeback?
As a mark of his Hallyu return, Song Joong Ki’s first priority circled back to where it all began—with his fans. His fan meeting, dubbed “Our Day Together,” which he held on September 1, 2018 at the Kyung Hee University Peace Hall was flocked by Korean and international fans. The event was supported by his close friends Lee Kwang Soo, 2PM’s Junho, and actor Kim Min Seok (from DOTS) who participated in games and shared insider facts about Joong Ki, which made the audience scream with delight.
One of the highlights of the event was when Joong Ki’s read a letter he penned for his fans. In it, he thanked them for their support and promised to come back with a new look, a better performance, and more activities. He talked about how it was an honour for him to meet and spend the past 10 years of his career with his fans and how he loves them all.
For global fans like us, the wait will soon be over. The countdown begins as Joong Ki preps to reunite with fans through TVN’s historical drama, Arthdal Chronicles. Named after the mythical capital of Gojoseon, Korea’s first kingdom, the drama promises to be a blockbuster that will keep fans glued to their screens with Jang Dong Gun (from Suits) and Kim Ji Won (from DOTS) joining Joong Ki in its star-studded lineup. Fan feels are at an all-time high as anticipation builds for Joong Ki’s return through this drama, which hits the small screen in 2019.