K-drama Reborn Rich star Song Joong-ki gives his performance a B+
South Korean star Song Joong-ki may not look much different from the days of his debut with his baby face, but still, the 37-year-old star says he felt “guilty” playing a 20-year-old university student in several episodes of his drama Reborn Rich.
While in Singapore to promote the series, which is available on Viu, Song says to local media at a group interview on Wednesday: “I regret parts of my acting, maybe in episodes three and four. I watched it when I was in Jakarta for work and I whispered to myself: ‘Joong-ki, why’re you acting like that?’ I think in trying to seem younger, I wasn’t natural at some points.
“I’m almost 40, I’m not the Song Joong-ki in (period drama) Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010) any more. But this drama needed me to act from when I’m a university student all the way to my 40s, so I did it. I’ll give myself B+, not A, because I feel guilty.”
In Reborn Rich, Song plays Hyun-woo, a loyal employee of a corrupt mega corporation run by the Jin family. Someone from the Jin clan attempts to kill him, but instead of dying, Hyun-woo wakes up in 1987. He has been reborn into the body of Jin Do-jun, the youngest grandson of the Jin patriarch. Retaining all the memories of Hyun-woo, he embarks on a journey of revenge.
The actor says: “I always consider the story, not my role. If the story isn’t interesting or attractive, then it’s a failure for audiences. If it’s only my role that is interesting, then no one will watch it.”
Stories premised on revenge are not uncommon in South Korea. Vincenzo (2021), which also starred Song, had the same theme. But Reborn Rich is special, the actor says, with the fantastical “rebirth” set-up and how the plot is tied to actual historical events.
He adds: “Maybe it’s because people have difficulties in their real lives, which is why they find it cathartic to watch a revenge story.”
The leading man was all smiles throughout the interview, going beyond just answering questions. He was asking reporters questions and even engaged them in small talk. And all of it was done in English.
He has been picking up the language from watching the British royal family drama, The Crown (2016 to present), which recently released season five in November.
“I’m obsessed with it. I’m on season four right now,” he says.
The Crown is not the only drama obsession of Song’s. In a previous interview, he compared Reborn Rich to American political thriller House Of Cards (2013 to 2018), which he says he has watched from start to end four times.
“I think that show portrays human emotions cruelly but precisely and deeply. It’s realistic about people’s ambitions and how much they want to succeed. Reborn Rich and House Of Cards may not have major similarities, but it’s similar in terms of what the writer wants to describe - how ambition can lead you to betray your family, lie, commit crime, be jealous. These are very real emotions.”
Such epic family dramas are his favourite. He has watched the film Legends Of The Fall (1994) some 20 times and his favourite Japanese drama is the Takuya Kimura vehicle The Family (2007).
Song rose to fame through his supporting role on the period coming-of-age drama Sungkyungkwan Scandal and a one-year stint on the long-running variety series Running Man (2010 to present).
His most well-known films and dramas include fantasy romance A Werewolf Boy (2021), Vincenzo and the military-set romance Descendants Of The Sun (2016), where he starred opposite A-list actress Song Hye-kyo. The two Songs fell in love off-screen and became one of the biggest news stories in South Korea when they married in 2017. The pair divorced in 2019.
Aside from the attractive story of Reborn Rich, Song says he was also glad to finally film overseas. Part of the series was filmed on location in Istanbul, Turkey.
“It’s such a great thing to not be in front of a screen, but to actually be in a country. I had a project that was supposed to be shot on location in Colombia but because of the pandemic, we had to finish shooting in Korea with a blue screen,” he says.
He was so looking forward to travelling that he felt jealous of director Kim Hee-won and actress Kim Go-eun, who filmed Little Women (2022) in Singapore.
“I appeared in a cameo for Little Women and a few weeks after shooting that, the director told me they were going to film in Singapore. I was so jealous because I love Singapore.”
When asked if the weather might be too hot for him as South Korea is in the midst of winter, he replies with a bright smile: “I like the heat.”
- Reborn Rich is available on Viu, with new episodes every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.