Jug­gling act

How Song Joong-ki bal­ances pan-Asian fame, pri­vate life and his up­com­ing wed­ding.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By RUMY DOO

IT’S a chal­lenge try­ing to find a crack in the pris­tine public im­age of ac­tor Song Joong-ki, who has been en­joy­ing the most ex­plo­sive pan-Asian pop­u­lar­ity since last year’s hit drama se­ries De­scen­dants Of The Sun.

In his nu­mer­ous in­ter­views, he has been mod­est yet firm in his opin­ions and his self-de­scrip­tions are hum­ble. And he has taken on another dash­ing, heroic role in Ryoo Se­ung-wan’s war film The Bat­tle­ship Is­land.

The 31-year-old ac­tor is at the cen­tre of another me­dia whirl­wind – his up­com­ing Oc­to­ber mar­riage to ac­tress Song Hye-kyo, who co-starred in De­scen­dants.

“I never wanted to get mar­ried late,” Song says on what the public per­ceived as a sud­den an­nounce­ment last month.

The ac­tor had noth­ing but praise for his in­tended, say­ing he had learned from her pro­fes­sion­ally dur­ing the De­scen­dants shoot and later as a per­son dur­ing their off­screen re­la­tion­ship.

“She’s a very thought­ful per­son,” he says, also de­scrib­ing the vet­eran ac­tress as his se­nior when it comes to Hal­lyu fame.

“Ev­ery part of our lives is be­ing talked about. I’m only hu­man and there are times when I have my con­cerns. But I think we can deal with (the me­dia) wisely.”

The two are in the midst of “hap­pily pre­par­ing” for their wed­ding, he says. “Noth­ing is for cer­tain of course, but I’ll prob­a­bly be think­ing about my next project af­ter the wed­ding. Noth­ing is in the works right now.”

In The Bat­tle­ship Is­land, he plays Park Moo-young, an elite sol­dier of the Korean Lib­er­a­tion Army and an agent with the United States Of­fice of Strate­gic Ser­vices.

Park in­fil­trates Ja­pan’s Hashima Is­land, where hun­dreds of Kore­ans have been taken cap­tive and are forced into slave labour in coal mines, to res­cue a key in­de­pen­dence move­ment fig­ure.

The char­ac­ter is pro­pelled by a sense of com­pas­sion for the down­trod­den, Song says.

“At first, he’s a sol­dier whose duty is to fol­low orders and com­plete his mis­sion, and that’s it. But he’s later moved by the plight of the peo­ple on the is­land. His mo­ti­va­tion changes as the movie pro­gresses. He later feels he has a duty to save the Korean peo­ple.”

The strong sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity could be a trait Song shares with the char­ac­ter. As an ac­tor whose fol­low­ing has ex­panded over­seas, tak­ing on the sen­si­tive sub­ject of Korean-Ja­panese his­tory could have pre­sented a dilemma.

“Peo­ple ask me if I was con­cerned about for­eign fans’ re­sponses be­fore de­cid­ing to do this movie. Of course I pay at­ten­tion to fans’ re­sponses. I’ve reached a point in my ca­reer where one photo of me is up­loaded on the In­ter­net and all of Asia sees it.

“But I be­lieved that (what the film shows) was just. It’s the right thing to do, which is why I think I wasn’t afraid. It was a small ex­pres­sion of my be­liefs.”

The his­tory of Ja­panese op­pres­sion of the Korean peo­ple is still wor­thy of right­eous anger, he stresses.

On a day-to-day ba­sis, he de­scribes him­self as a so­cial crea­ture who is happy to en­gage in group ac­tiv­i­ties. “I think that’s why I was able to ad­just so well to life in the mil­i­tary,” he says.

His school years also point to a so­cia­ble per­son­al­ity. He was stu­dent coun­cil vice pres­i­dent in high school and an ac­tive mem­ber of an as­so­ci­a­tion of univer­sity stu­dents’ broad­cast­ing sys­tems while ma­jor­ing in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion at Sungkyunkwan Univer­sity.

Song says the thoughts and opin­ions of his con­tem­po­raries are im­por­tant to him.

“I go to the the­atres a lot to see the movies I’m in,” he re­veals.

“Some­times, I am sit­ting right next to some­one, so close that I can hear their breath­ing. It’s fun to see that I’m on the screen and they don’t know I’m right next to them.”

He takes note of the points in a film which evoke the col­lec­tive sighs, gasps and laugh­ter from the au­di­ence.

“Af­ter the movie, when peo­ple go out talk­ing among them­selves, I can hear ev­ery­thing. Some­times even the bad things.” – The Korea Her­ald/ Asia News Net­work

The stars of The Bat­tle­ship Is­land, Song, Hwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub and di­rec­tor Ryoo Se­ung-wan, will be at Pavil­ion Kuala Lumpur on Wed­nes­day at 7pm for the movie’s pre­miere.

Song rose to fame af­ter his star­ring role in De­scen­dants Of The Sun. — Hand­out

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