Separating work and play

Song Joong Ki says it may be tough in future to work on the same production as Song Hye Kyo, whom he is marrying in October

South Korean television drama fans who would like to see stars Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo re-create their sizzling chemistry in last year's hit series Descendants Of The Sun will just have to watch the show again.

The chances of an on-screen reunion for them are slim, since they will be married soon and he thinks it would be tricky to mix their work and personal lives.

"Working with Song Hye Kyo in the future, I would have to give a little more thought (to it). It may be challenging because work is work. It may be a little tough to work on the same production," he says, speaking through a translator at a press event here yesterday.

The much-anticipated wedding of the celebrities will take place at The Shilla Seoul hotel on Oct 31.

Ahead of the wedding, he visited Singapore to promote his new wartime movie, The Battleship Island. At the press conference at Marina Bay Sands, he was joined by director Ryoo Seung Wan and his co-stars Hwang Jung Min and So Ji Sub. They were also scheduled to meet fans at a public event at Suntec City yesterday evening.

The Battleship Island, a highly anticipated World War II drama, is Song's first production after rocketing to superstardom with Descendants Of The Sun, where his army captain character romances a beautiful doctor (Song Hye Kyo).

  • Song Joong Ki's defining works

  • RUNNING MAN (2010-2011)

    Song (with co-host Lee Kwang Soo) was part of the original cast of Running Man when the variety show debuted in 2010.

    Out of the motley crew, he was known as the enthusiastic, but bumbling, rookie. He was nicknamed the "flower boy" for possessing delicate features and a milky white complexion that would make women jealous.

    The wacky game show is where Song scored his other soul mate, Lee Kwang Soo. Born in the same year, 1985, the bickering co-hosts are fast friends to this day.

    Song left the show in 2011 to concentrate on his acting career.

    THE INNOCENT MAN (2012)

    In one of his darker roles, Song sheds his sunshine persona to play a revenge-driven ex-boyfriend who was a promising medical student madly in love with his beautiful neighbour. Life does not go as planned and he takes the rap for his belle and goes to jail, while she leaves him for a rich man.

    SUNGKYUNKWAN SCANDAL (2010)

    Song was the sidekick in this period drama, which unfolds like a high-school romantic comedy, but his turn as an aristocrat playboy was popular with women in the show and among viewers at home.

    A WEREWOLF BOY (2012)

    There is no sign of the dashing hero. In this movie, a hit fantasy romance, Song is a wild, animal-like teen who is adopted by a human family. The family's teenage daughter takes it upon herself to train the scruffy feral orphan and a special bond develops between them.

    DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN (2016)

    Goodbye flower boy, hello hunk. Straight out of the South Korean army, Song was operationally ready for his role as a suave, sculpted solider. In between fighting crime and saving lives, his captain character finds time to pursue a beautiful doctor (Song Hye Kyo). In hindsight, the sparks flying on set were real and the Song-Song couple are real.

In the new movie, Song Joong Ki, 31, plays yet another heroic soldier. 

He says: "If you count the number of years - I served national service in South Korea, as well as played the role of a soldier in Descendants Of The Sun and The Battleship Island - I've been living the life of a solider for about five years now.

"It has become natural to me. I had short hair after serving national service, so I could comfortably immerse myself into the role."

His Battleship Island character is a special forces agent with the Korean Liberation Army, sent on a mission to a forced labour camp on Japan's Hashima Island, known as Battleship Island, during World War II.

Based on historical accounts, the thriller delves into the tragic plight of the captive Korean labourers, toiling away in a coal mine.

The inspiration to make the blockbuster - which has a star-studded cast and was produced on a massive budget of 22 billion won (S$26.6 million) - came when the director saw a photograph of the island in 2013.

Ryoo, 43, says: "The image was so powerful. It was so overwhelming. when I found out the history of the island. I was really moved to bring the story to the public."

Song says one of the challenges he faced in playing one of the malnourished labourers was having to lose weight, and the most memorable scene to film was one in which the workers attempt to escape the island.

"It was not only because of the fast images and the cinematography, but also because of... the suffering of the captive labourers," he explains.

Out of the three actors, who would be able to survive such harsh conditions and make it out alive?

Actor So, 39, chooses his younger co-star Song, saying: "Song Joong Ki probably has the best survival skills. He recently served his national service, so the memories of skills and training are fresh in his mind."

Hwang, 46, chimes in: "For the rest of us, any big, intense movement would cause pain."

•The Battleship Island opens in cinemas on Aug 17.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'Separating work and play'. Print Edition | Subscribe