Song Seung-heon sheds ‘pretty boy’ image

By Korea Herald

Hallyu heavyweight toughens up to play reformed thug in new drama

  • Published : Mar 28, 2013 - 19:47
  • Updated : Mar 28, 2013 - 19:47

It is hard to believe over a decade has passed since veteran actor Song Seung-heon earned his place in the Korean Wave firmament with the now-iconic “Autumn in My Heart.”

After Song melted many a female heart as the singularly devoted and sweet not-quite-brother to Song Hye-kyo’s ill-fated heroine, he went on to star in five more television dramas, most of which fell into the same genre that propelled him to international fame ― the heart-searing melodrama. 
“A Man in Love” (working title) stars Song Seung-heon (left) and Shin Se-gyeong attend the drama’s press conference in Yeouido, Seoul, Wednesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

Song’s latest work is no exception, but, according to the 36-year-old actor, MBC’s upcoming “A Man in Love” (working title) is his roughest role to date.

Though he played a gangster in his popular small screen comeback “East of Eden,” Song said, “This character has it tougher than other characters I’ve played and that might be why I was drawn to this role.”

Confessing he wanted to shed his “pretty boy” image at the drama’s press conference in Seoul on Wednesday, Song put it quite simply that as a man well into his 30s he felt playing a man’s man was the right fit.

In this case, his man’s man is a cold-hearted loan shark, a thug who survives his boss’ betrayal and steps up from right-hand man to head of the gang, only to leave it all behind in the name of love and morph into a successful businessman.

The twist comes when his sweetheart, played by “High Kick 2” actress Shin Se-gyeong, betrays him for another man, leaving him bent on revenge, and suddenly it all becomes quite clear that “A Man in Love” is no picnic. It is a bona fide melodrama with all the requisite trappings ― unrequited love, betrayal and revenge.

While none of this is new to Song, the actor revealed that he had been gnawing over his role, worrying about it because it presented something of a challenge to him.

“What I am most concerned about is how to go about playing a thug who has never been in love and yet suddenly finds himself in love, having to express it in his own awkward way,” Song explained.

Indeed, portraying a man whose day-to-day life is steeped in high-stakes violence and yet who is in the dark when it comes to true boy-meets-girl love requires a certain complex duality that cannot be taken lightly.

Pulled off right, it would be a poignant role of the kind that could up Song’s star power, and judging from how costar Shin described his character as a “Daddy-Long-Legs” of sorts, it appears as though Song’s hero will display a sweetness that might just have viewers rooting for him to the end.

“A Man in Love” starts airing April 3 on Wednesday and Thursday nights on MBC at 9:55 p.m.

By Jean Oh (oh_jean@heraldcorp.com)