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) 83%

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

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