Five Favorite Films

Parasite Star Song Kang-ho's Five Favorite Films

The celebrated South Korean actor shares his love for Steve McQueen and stories told from unconventional perspectives.

by | October 22, 2019 | Comments

Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images
(Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images)

It’s a shame Song Kang-ho isn’t better known to international audiences, because he has been quietly dominating South Korean cinema for the past couple decades and change. Though he never underwent any professional training as an actor, he clearly possessed the kind of singular talent required to move seamlessly between genres, and he found willing partners in some of the most gifted directors to come out of Korea. This led to fruitful partnerships with people like Lee Chang-dong (Green FishSecret Sunshine), Park Chan-wook (Sympathy for Mr. VengeanceJoint Security AreaThirst), and Kim Jee-woon (The Foul KingThe Good, the Bad, the WeirdAge of Shadows), but his work with one Bong Joon-ho may be his best known and most significant.

It was Bong’s 2007 creature feature The Host that propelled both him and Song into the international spotlight, and when they later reunited for Bong’s English-language debut, 2014’s Snowpiercer, the film was widely hailed as a brilliant, ambitious dystopian vision — this is nothing to say of their very first film together, 2003’s serial killer mystery Memories of Murder, which is a decidedly smaller film, but an equally compelling and masterfully told story. To be clear, all three of those movies are Certified Fresh at 90% on the Tomatometer or higher, but it’s their latest collaboration that has people talking about the Oscars.

In Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Song Kang-ho plays the patriarch of a family of con artists who bamboozle their way into a wealthy household by providing needed services; everything goes according to plan until, of course, it doesn’t. To say the film has earned rave reviews is an understatement, as it earned the Cannes Film Festival’s coveted Palme d’Or by a unanimous vote, and many predict the darkly comedic social satire will win a host of other awards en route to the Oscars. We chatted with Song Kang-ho ahead of Parasite‘s release, and speaking through a translator, Song gave us his Five Favorite Films, revealing a dry sense of humor in the process: “I didn’t really have time to think about what my favorite movies are. I guess I’ve been busy.”


Son of Saul (2015) 96%

If you ask me about my cinematic preferences, a few years ago, there was a Hungarian film called Son of Saul. It’s a bit of a dark story, but I remember being impressed by that film. I think the filming technique expresses the message of the film very accurately and very effectively.

Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) 99%

Since I picked a movie that’s not one of mine, let me pick one of mine for my second choice. There’s this movie called Parasite. [laughs] A lot of people seem to like that movie; I think I agree with them.

Secret Sunshine (2010) 94%

I’ll pick another one of my movies. It’s directed by Lee Chang-dong and it’s called Secret Sunshine. The matter of saving humanity — human salvation — that narrative was not told from a religious perspective. It was shown through humanity, the world where we live currently, through other humans. So I think the movie showed how we as people can truly be saved.

Oldboy (2005) 82%

I didn’t appear in the movie, but Oldboy, directed by Park Chan-wook. That’s one of my favorites. The movie’s narrative talks about human desires that are taboo — you’re not supposed to talk about them. You think about them, but you’re not supposed to think about them. The movie tells these forbidden stories with daring, experimentally and artistically, and it tells them very well.

Papillon (1973) 79%

This is an old movie, and though he’s not with us any more, I really love the actor Steve McQueen. This movie, Papillon, I would call it his signature movie. The reason it’s one of my favorites is simple: it’s a Steve McQueen movie. He appears in it. I don’t think I need to say any more than that. [laughs] Of course, I like Bullitt, I like them all, but if I have to pick one, Papillon is my favorite Steve McQueen movie.


Ryan Fujitani for Rotten Tomatoes: You’ve been able to work with some incredible directors even from the very beginning of your film career. How have you been so good at choosing who to work with?

Song Kang-ho: To be more accurate, it’s not that I’m choosing to work with them. They chose me. They have chosen me.

Does working with each of them — from Lee Chang-dong to Park Chan-wook to Bong Joon-ho — bring something different out of you?

They’re all different. Everyone’s different. I find all the differences among them exciting, and I respect that. I respect all their differences.

What is it that Bong Joon-ho specifically brings out of you?

Something weird! [laughs]

Thumbnail image: ©Sony Pictures Classics, NEON, ©Cinema Service, Tartan Films


Parasite is currently playing in select theaters.

Tag Cloud

CW Seed justice league TV renewals casting scary movies satire CNN Oscars YouTube Endgame Ovation BET Martial Arts HBO Go vampires asian-american comics canceled TV shows psycho E! cancelled television BBC PaleyFest sitcom 2019 Bravo Dark Horse Comics Valentine's Day Video Games Sneak Peek TIFF sequels zero dark thirty Family transformers Cartoon Network WGN technology Mary Tyler Moore book Teen X-Men Black Mirror joker boxoffice aliens historical drama ratings quibi History name the review Holiday TLC Super Bowl hollywood fast and furious thriller Epix spanish language Marathons anthology cats APB biography CBS rotten FXX miniseries docudrama screen actors guild documentaries Shudder talk show Nat Geo video on demand hispanic Mudbound Tumblr ABC TruTV Arrowverse indie Drama Amazon Studios Mary Poppins Returns GIFs 4/20 Captain marvel GLAAD SXSW Turner Classic Movies mockumentary cars Academy Awards Hallmark CMT based on movie christmas movies Photos Countdown Netflix NBC elevated horror Pixar hist Sundance TV Mystery Character Guide SDCC TV Land sag awards Trivia Ellie Kemper Turner 2016 award winner obituary Peacock Black History Month travel spain cancelled TV shows Elton John PlayStation Binge Guide Pride Month Musical Freeform reboot cops Cannes Western Trailer The Witch BET Awards facebook Opinion crossover comiccon The CW DGA Chernobyl Universal Paramount Adult Swim crime Creative Arts Emmys Columbia Pictures El Rey animated Fox News zombies Film Festival mission: impossible cooking Marvel FOX Lifetime tv talk OneApp Star Wars Comic Book Starz 24 frames series Food Network Amazon Marvel Television Amazon Prime Video comedies BAFTA Avengers cults renewed TV shows spider-man singing competition RT21 First Reviews Logo DC Comics period drama The Arrangement dc FX worst Tarantino discovery Music Action BBC America Lionsgate San Diego Comic-Con OWN DC Universe Women's History Month doctor who Reality Travel Channel NYCC dramedy franchise Nominations Classic Film Winners teaser Awards Tour Esquire Rock Quiz Christmas 2020 Set visit 45 21st Century Fox Mary poppins Election golden globes stop motion Television Academy Heroines Pirates child's play TCA Winter 2020 Box Office 2018 cancelled screenings green book 007 south america Fantasy Apple TV+ strong female leads Podcast Fall TV GoT nbcuniversal social media crime drama documentary ABC Family video Apple Sundance comic TCA Awards films CBS All Access batman Rocky Nickelodeon Calendar disaster MCU Musicals Spectrum Originals best Red Carpet DirecTV Emmy Nominations universal monsters Masterpiece latino HBO Mindy Kaling movies VOD Baby Yoda Brie Larson Funimation Netflix Christmas movies versus blockbuster Horror Television Critics Association unscripted Holidays festivals LGBTQ MSNBC cartoon Disney streaming service Winter TV dogs Comedy blaxploitation all-time zombie USA Network directors Pop TV New York Comic Con Watching Series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt criterion Comics on TV diversity a nightmare on elm street Reality Competition Rocketman Pet Sematary RT History what to watch Grammys FX on Hulu theme song laika romance ESPN cancelled TV series DC streaming service space adventure television Chilling Adventures of Sabrina children's TV Tubi Star Trek romantic comedy Trophy Talk anime Disney+ Disney Plus Sci-Fi streaming die hard See It Skip It Crunchyroll Interview parents indiana jones TCA police drama Showtime Infographic Schedule Summer Writers Guild of America National Geographic TCM AMC spy thriller superhero VICE Hear Us Out Disney Plus Lifetime Christmas movies movie Spring TV Lucasfilm political drama YouTube Premium natural history werewolf game of thrones cinemax Emmys Rom-Com Polls and Games Song of Ice and Fire emmy awards crime thriller Premiere Dates Discovery Channel nature USA dragons harry potter 20th Century Fox Superheroes science fiction Apple TV Plus stoner Marvel Studios critics Crackle serial killer dark First Look Anna Paquin richard e. Grant YouTube Red PBS Kids & Family concert Country The Purge Amazon Prime ghosts Vudu medical drama TNT Shondaland A&E canceled Pop politics 72 Emmy Awards Paramount Network VH1 Animation revenge war WarnerMedia rotten movies we love Tomatazos E3 stand-up comedy YA BBC One free movies Cosplay Stephen King President 71st Emmy Awards TV TBS IFC adaptation slashers HBO Max halloween Disney Channel 2015 Britbox Hulu composers Walt Disney Pictures Acorn TV twilight game show Biopics finale independent American Society of Cinematographers Hallmark Christmas movies news jamie lee curtis chucky psychological thriller foreign breaking bad Thanksgiving LGBT Superheroe Extras kids Spike Syfy binge Comedy Central IFC Films Sony Pictures Warner Bros. A24 classics true crime witnail sports 2017 Disney Film ITV spinoff Awards Certified Fresh Best and Worst Year in Review MTV supernatural The Walking Dead dceu Ghostbusters reviews mutant sequel SundanceTV Toys Sundance Now robots TCA 2017 toy story