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Every year this prestigious award celebrates one or more internationally acclaimed actors or actresses, who, through their work and talent, have enriched the cinema with their unique contribution.
A versatile performer who has no equals in representing the variety and intensity of Korean cinema for almost two decades, being equally at ease in comedies, period pieces and political dramas as well as the most extreme thrillers, Song Kang-ho is certainly the most emblematic actor of South Korea.
Having been trained in the theater, he made his film debut in the late 1990s, first as an extra and then in supporting roles for directors like Hong Sang-soo, Jung Sun-woo and Lee Chang-dong. Korean audiences first noticed him in the film No. 3 (1997), where he had a minor role as a zany gangster. He then appeared in the action movie Shiri (1999), which was the jump-off point for Korean cinema’s commercial rebirth. Starting in 2000, he embarked on a fruitful collaboration with Kim Jee-woon, Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho, who gave him major roles that link him closely with their respective films. Lauded for his tonal versatility, Song is not afraid to work with young filmmakers (Antartic Journal in 2005, The Show Must Go On in 2007) when he’s not partnering with established directors like Lee Chang-dong, with whom he reconvened for Secret Sunshine in 2007. A veteran of both box office hits – four of his films had over ten million viewers each domestically – and of the Korean film awards, Song Kang-ho single-handedly embodies an exceptional overview of Korean cinema, with a face and a body that have achieved audience recognition beyond the borders of his own country.