Song Kang, A (Visual) History: How to be Crowned the ‘Son of Netflix’

Song Kang. Two words that make up a name in the K-Drama universe that has basically took over trending topics and Netflix watch lists since that first major leading role back in 2019.

The actor behind the name has completely, and quite quickly, established himself in the industry with iconic roles that even non-watchers would more or less know. With four consecutive dramas meeting global recognition and attaining viral status—his first four lead roles, no less—he has completely swept the world off its feet with his undeniable good looks, and positively moving acting prowess.

In fact, the name “Song Kang” has grown into something so catchy and iconic, the names can never be taken apart or separated again. It’s “Song Kang”, or nothing.

Leading up to his career-defining portrayal of Sun-oh at Netflix’s Love Alarm, Song Kang has played a variety of supporting roles here and there as a rising talent. From his introductory role in YouTube mini-series Hello, Spring in 2015 to his last, and probably most notable, support in 2019 drama When The Devil Calls Your Name, the 27-year old followed the typical route of actors trying to make it in the entertainment industry’s cutthroat environment. He even starred in two music videos in 2017, namely The Ade’s “Sweet Summer Night” and Suran’s “Love Story”.

But it wasn’t until 2019 when the name Song Kang truly reverberated around the world.

Out of hundreds of applicants, Netflix took a shot at the then-newbie actor to bring to life the role of Hwang Sun-oh in the drama adaptation of webtoon “Love Alarm.”

Through Sun-oh’s straightforward approach in love and heartbreak, the internet quickly grew enamored with this new romantic lead who pretty much embodied the stereotype of a cocky, wealthy high school boy in love, but portrayed with an extra layer of sweetness and naivety. The way he so shamelessly and unapologetically falls for Kim Jojo had the whole world putty in his hands, officially marking the beginning of his constant place in trending topics everywhere.

After the success of Love Alarm, Netflix casted Song Kang once again in his sophomore leading role as Cha Hyun Soo in 2020’s Sweet Home. As a Netflix Original drama, which is also an adaptation of a popular webtoon, its story takes the up-and-coming actor to a complete 180-degree change from his previous portrayal.

Set in a dystopian world where monsters hungrily rove the city, his role got viewers to see him in a whole new light. It also broadened his fanbase outside the romance world and established himself in a widely popular drama that veers more closely in the horror-thriller genre. “Sweet Home” also met worldwide success for its high-intensity storytelling.

2021 then became one of the actor’s busiest years thus far. From reprising his role as Sun-oh in the second season of Love Alarm, he showcased a different side of him once again with the touching story of webtoon “Navillera.”

In it, he played a 23-year old ballerina chasing after his dreams when a 70-year old former mailman came in to seek his mentorship to pursue ballet for himself. The drama showed off Song Kang’s emotional range more thoroughly, and his discipline to formally learn ballet for six months to do role justice.

Once again, more admirers came tailing in his tights-wearing and ballet-dancing presence to praise his versatility in acting, and the different types of stories he chooses and is capable to portray.

His most recent role as of this writing is Park Jae-eon, another iconic character that has truly captivated the world with every episode release. The Netflix series Nevertheless, adapted from (yet again) a webtoon named “I Know But”, is a daring portrayal of modern love, told through the lenses of a young woman who can’t seem to resist a notorious player’s charms. The first few episodes alone gave the internet a collective heart attack with its many steamy scenes, and Song Kang’s too-real and too-familiar portrayal of a toxic, non-committing, partner.

All these projects—all webtoon adaptations by Netflix—have branded Song Kang with the well-deserved title “Son of Netflix.” And by the looks of it, he is not showing signs of slowing down. It definitely rings true as a simple scroll through the Netflix Originals section will bring you drama after drama starring the young actor.

He commented on this fond, yet incredibly pressuring, title in the regional press conference for the Season 2 premiere of Love Alarm, “I am just very, very grateful and when I hear those nicknames, it just motivates me to do better and work harder,” he expressed.

He also noted that it’s just pure coincidence that a big chunk of his repertoire are webtoon-based, as he truly just picks roles based on how meaningful and entertaining the stories are. It also helps that these comics already have quite a large following behind them, morphing into curious viewers eager to see Song Kang bring these characters to life.

Netflix has certainly struck gold with four Song Kang-led dramas in the past two years and a half, and with a new season coming up for Sweet Home and high interest for the story of Nevertheless to continue, this title doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

Of course, as fans of the Son of Netflix, we’re just ecstatic to see how else his career will grow in the years to come, and to discover the stories he’ll tell next. As a young 27-year old taking the world by storm, his growing success is a fairytale straight out of a Netflix series, and us its excitable audience awaiting each episode.

Here’s a compilation from Netflix Philippines on some of the actor’s most impressive emotional acting scenes on the platform, because yes, that’s what we all “look at”. Spoilers ahead.

With additional text: Leo Balante