In the past few years, the Korean entertainment industry has introduced Filipino audiences to many on-screen heavyweights, but it takes a truly inimitable performance to earn a solid fan base here. Actress Son Ye Jin may have had her breakout moment internationally by way of the epic drama “Crash Landing on You,” but as proven in Smart Communications’ “Hallyu Hangouts” virtual fanmeet, she’s had a devoted Filipino following long before playing CEO Yoon Se-Ri, who falls in love with Captain Ri (Hyun Bin).
The actress and Smart brand ambassador, now 39 years old, has been in the business since she was 18, and her career has spanned several dramas and films. During “Hallyu Hangouts,” her fans gamely joined the Son Ye Jin trivia game, where they answer questions about her debut lead role (“The Classic” in 2003, where she plays both the mother and the daughter in the film) the title she was given by Korean audiences to prove how beloved she has become (“Nation’s First Love”). She also talked about her viral Smart commercial in which she rides a motorcycle, and admits that the action scenes were shot by a stunt double and she only appeared to dismount from the bike. We love an honest queen.
Though Son Ye Jin may not be able to fly to Manila to meet her fans just yet, she was able to interact with many of her fans, some of whom tearfully admitted that watching her shows helped them cope through the difficulties of lockdown. Of course, a hangout with Son Ye Jin would not be complete without a brief retrospective of her work, which shows the versatility of her acting skills. And if you need any convincing as to why she truly is one of the best in the business right now, here are three examples of how the actress can pretty much ace any genre she’s given (and soon, will be given).
Her chemistry with her co-stars
It’s been years since a Korean drama broke out in the same way that “‘Crash Landing on You” did — partly because being streamed on a global platform made it accessible to millions, but also because the chemistry between Son Ye Jin and her co-star Hyun Bin was a huge part of why fans tuned in to watch the series. With the two stars reuniting through Smart Communications’ “Simple, Smart Ako” campaign, Filipino fans have gotten an opportunity to relive the romance somehow.
Her willingness to take on unconventional roles
Something that makes Son Ye Jin such a compelling actress is how she chooses characters that are complex and intriguing (Interestingly, they’re not always likeable.) In the film “My Wife Got Married,” she charms audiences as a party girl who gets roped into marrying a fairly traditional guy, but turns the tables on him when she admits that she’d like to have an open relationship. In the drama “Something in the Rain,” she plays a working woman who falls in love with her younger brother’s best friend. The show deals with a lot of taboos and prejudice that are prevalent in Korean society, and Son Ye Jin’s Yoon Jin-ah shows a lot of strength even as she struggles to be a good worker, sister, and daughter.
Her physical acting is just as powerful as her emoting
As an actress that can show off her comedic and dramatic chops in the same film, Son Ye Jin’s physicality is also one of her strong traits. Not a surprise, considering that she’s been practicing pilates for years. She not only starred in the revenge/drama/thriller “Don't Look Back: The Legend of Orpheus” (the third part of director Park Chan-hong’s revenge trilogy), but she was also in “The Negotiation,” a 2018 film that is actually Son Ye Jin’s first film work with her co-star Hyun Bin. In it, she plays a cop that’s trying to negotiate with a ruthless hostage-taker.
Her ability to embrace her age, even onscreen
In South Korea, plastic surgery and skin care are some of the biggest drivers of the economy, which has made youth and physical beauty extremely important in society. Though she is conventionally beautiful, Son Ye Jin has fully leaned into her age. In fact, her next drama is entitled “Thirty-Nine,” in which she plays a dermatologist alongside a cast of women who, just like her, are also in their late thirties (or older). No word yet as to how the story will unfold, but if Son Ye Jin herself is happy with the script, it’s hard to imagine anything less than the best.