7 Glorious Innings: Song Hye Kyo K-Dramas To Check Out
She’s played the ambitious drama producer making her way in the chauvinistic world of showbiz, the doctor in love with a soldier, or the heiress who escapes a loveless marriage. With every role she has played, Song Hye Kyo’s two decades in the industry can be best described as glorious.
In her latest revenge thriller “The Glory,” Song Hye Kyo plays Dong Eun, a victim of merciless bullying and violent abuse in high school. Though embittered and scarred by the events of the past, she channels her rage into an elaborate scheme to seek redemption. The hardened Dong Eun carries an air of mystery and reservation, and the icy glint of her eyes is the only giveaway of emotion on her bare, unsmiling face. Dressed in monochromatic colors of brown, grey, and black depicting her colorless life, Song Hye Kyo plays Dong Eun to perfection, winning accolades by critics and fans.
Here’s a look at seven of Song Hye Kyo’s best dramas which have showcased different facets of her repertoire as an actress.
A drama about dramas, “Worlds Within” takes one behind the scenes into the competitive world of television, deadlines, ratings, and the daily hustle of survival in the entertainment industry. Former lovers Jung Ji Oh (Hyun Bin), a senior production director, and Joo Joon Young (Song Hye Kyo), a drama producer, find themselves working in the same production company. Their distinct socioeconomic backgrounds and childhoods find reflections in the work they create.
Joon Young comes from a wealthy family, but her childhood has been anything but warm. Her mother’s ostentatious lifestyle, string of affairs, and gambling have driven a chasm between both mother and daughter. The dysfunctional relationship between the two is reflected in Joo Young’s dramas, which lack warmth and are described as austere. On the other hand, Ji Oh, though grown up poor, was brought up by loving parents. His shows reflect warmth and are popular amongst viewers, scoring better ratings than Joon Young’s dramas. As sparks fly again between Ji Oh and Joon Young, the two rekindle their romance. But there’s the question of whether their relationship can stand the test of time as they find themselves subject to misunderstandings due to the interference of Joon Young’s mother and Ji Oh’s personal issues.
Song Hye Kyo’s Joon Young is an independent and ambitious woman who stands tall in a male-dominated industry. Joon Young is a three-dimensional character who seamlessly draws you into her world. “Worlds Within” is an unmissable drama, giving a realistic take on what unfolds behind the scenes in showbiz as the lives of everyone are interconnected. And a special mention for Hyun Bin and Song Hye Kyo’s crackling onscreen chemistry, which is bound to make you go weak in the knees.
“Autumn in My Heart”
Love, longing, and heartbreak: “Autumn in My Heart” is a masterpiece and an evocatively moving story of shattered dreams, human follies, and frailties.
The drama tells the story of mistaken identities when two baby girls are swapped at birth, only to discover their real identities as teenagers. Yoon Eun Suh’s (Song Hye Kyo’s) world falls apart after an accident when she discovers that she is not the biological daughter of her family, but Choi Shin Ae (Han Chae Young) is. Eun Suh returns to her birth mother, who is a single woman running a tiny restaurant and living in abject poverty. Years later, she meets her so-called sibling Joon Suh (Song Seung Heon), now a successful artist through his friend Tae Seok (Won Bin), who is in love with Eun Suh. Though to the world they may have been at one point siblings, Eun Suh and Joon Suh are drawn to each other and fall in love. But their happiness is shortlived when a jealous Shin Ae exposes their relationship. And fate has other things in store for these star-crossed lovers.
Song Hye Kyo and Song Seung Heon give searing performances as Eun Suh and Joon Suh, and their eyes articulate the pain and pathos of their characters. This show was a defining moment in Song Hye Kyo’s career, and it catapulted her to fame after her moving performance as Eun Suh. “Autumn in My Heart” is an outstandingly crafted classic which should not be missed. Keep the box of tissues handy though—you will need them.
Start watching “Autumn in My Heart”:
A fabulous blast from the past, “All In” is a romance drama starring Lee Byung Hun and Song Hye Kyo, and it has all the ingredients which make a good watch.
An orphan named Kim In Ha (Lee Byung Hun) has been raised by his gambler uncle. He takes a bullet for love when, along with his best friend Jung Won (Ji Sung), he tries to avenge the killing of his love interest Su Yeon’s (Song Hye Kyo’s) father. He is jailed while Jung Won goes scot free thanks to his wealthy family. In the meantime, Su Yeon enters a convent and decides to become a nun. However, seven years later the three are reunited under different circumstances. In Ha is a mafia hit man, and Su Yeon works at a casino. Sparks fly, and the two decide to get married, but fate waves its cruel hand when In Ha gets shot, leaving Su Yeon waiting at the altar. Will they ever find their happy place, or will Jung Won make his move on Su Yeon?
Filled with the classic struggle between love and betrayal, friends turning into foes, and gang wars with dangerous stakes, “All In” has often been called the Korean version of “The Godfather.” Its fast pace draws you into its dramatic scenario seamlessly, and the charismatic Lee Byung Hun is captivating as In Ha, projecting his swag, angst, and helplessness impressively. Song Hye Kyo as Su Yeon stands resolute and strong in the face of adversity despite the cards dealt to her, and her chemistry with Lee Byung Hun scorches the screen.
“Descendants of the Sun”
“I believe that life is sanctified, and that no value or ideology is above it,” says Doctor Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) to Captain Yoo Shi Jin (Song Joong Ki).
Yoo Shi Jin aka Big Boss, the leader of the special task force Team Alpha, is smitten by Doctor Kang, a trauma surgeon. However, Shi Jin and Mo Yeon have conflicting opinions when it comes to human lives. As a soldier, he can kill to protect his country, and as a doctor, it’s her mission to save lives at all costs.
Mo Yeon, weary of the nature of Yoo Shi Jin’s job, which translates as highly confidential and dangerous missions, keeps a distance. However, in spite of her reservations, she finds herself falling for the self-righteous soldier who is also a caring and endearing man. Dealing with deadly viruses and natural disasters in a foreign land, the two are drawn close. They are a couple who are not just in love but are also each other’s strongest support when it comes to work and commitments.
Song Hye Kyo is perfect in her portrayal of Dr. Kang. She is an accomplished woman who stands up for herself in the professional space and is also confident to express her needs to her partner. And Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo complement each other on screen with their sparkling chemistry.
Start watching “Descendants of the Sun”:
Lonely rich girl Cha Soo Hyun (Song Hye Kyo) is the stylish and introverted CEO of Dong Hwa Hotel. As the daughter of a prominent politician, Soo Hyun for the most part of her life has lived like an asset to be pawned and manipulated. Her overly ambitious mother and calculating mother-in-law have constantly exploited her for their own vested interests, but she takes the bold step of walking out on her marriage of convenience and devotes herself to building her business, the Dong Hwa Hotel given to her as alimony. Soo Hyun can never escape the spotlight; her entire life has been spent under the lens, and her every move has been scrutinized. However, a trip to Havana changes the course of her life, and a chance encounter with a free-spirited young man named Kim Jin Hyuk (Park Bo Gum) finally gives Soo Hyun the wings she needs to fly. Following her heart, Soo Hyun allows herself a second chance at love and happiness. As she evolves into a confident business woman, Soo Hyun breaks the shackles which bound her and lives life on her own terms.
Song Hye Kyo charms as the reserved Soo Hyun whose life has been constantly lived according to the standards dictated and imposed by society. Her restrained performance articulates her character’s reservations, fears, and insecurities.
Start watching “Encounter”:
“That Winter, The Wind Blows”
This one is an underrated drama with an unusual premise. A blind and lonely heiress named Oh Young (Song Hye Kyo) is looking for her brother Oh Soo but meets an imposter instead. A debt-ridden con man (Jo In Sung) takes on the identity of his dead best friend Oh Soo, and he manipulates his way into the lives of the Oh family. The despondent Oh Young, who lives a melancholic existence, makes up for her loss of vision with a strong sense of hearing and perception while being untrustworthy of those around her. As Oh Soo tries to wrangle a large sum of money from Oh Young, the inevitable happens. He falls in love with her and commits himself to protecting her from her scheming fiancé and extended family.
“That Winter, The Wind Blows” is not your quintessential romance. It’s slow, wistful, and even dark in some parts. The characters are flawed yet forgivable, and though it lags in parts, it makes up for it with the performances and aesthetic production. Shot in muted tones of blues, gray, and white, it echoes the yearning and heartache of its characters. Song Hye Kyo plays the cynical and disgruntled Oh Young to perfection, bringing out her character’s pathos and insecurities.
Start watching “That Winter, The Wind Blows”:
A golden oldie, “Full House” is a drama which has been synonymous with the Hallyu Wave. Ji Eun (Song Hye Kyo) is an aspiring script writer who is so naive that she gets tricked into a vacation by her two friends, only to end up losing her home. The twist in the tale is that the new owner of her house, Young Jae (Rain), is an arrogant famous actor whom Ji Eun had run into on her vacation.
Both enter into a contract marriage as Ji Eun wants her home back and Young Jae wants to make his crush Hye Won (Han Eun Jung) jealous. But the inevitable happens as Ji Eun and Young Jae find themselves drawn to each other, and full on dislike is transformed into full on love.
“Full House,” though predictable, is a light and fun watch. Song Hye Kyo as the positive yet gullible Ji Eun and Rain as the incorrigible superstar will win you over. Their chemistry as the show progresses is relatable and convincing, and if you are in the mood for a no fuss watch, this is the one for you.
Start watching “Full House”:
Hey Soompiers, which one is of these is your all time favorite Song Hye Kyo drama and character? Let us know in the comments below!
Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Song Joong Ki and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min Ho, Gong Yoo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.
Currently watching: “The Interest of Love” and “Summer Strike“