Most Likely Known For: Sungkyunkwan Scandal, The Innocent Man & The Werewolf Boy (2012 movie)
Currently In: Descendants of The Sun
Song made his acting debut in the 2008 period film A Frozen Flower. The following year, he appeared in the couple-swapping segment “Believe in the Moment” of omnibusFive Senses of Eros and continued to take on small but notable roles in Triple, and Will It Snow for Christmas?. Furthermore, he became a regular host of KBS Friday music program Music Bank from 2009 to 2010 and a cast member on SBS variety show Running Man from 2010 to 2011. He then appeared in the 2010 medical drama OB/GYN Doctors, and animal movie sequel Hearty Paws 2. Eventually, it was the role of an 18th-century Joseon-era rich, indolent playboy in the 2010 fusion period drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal, that made Song shoot to stardom along with the rest of the young cast. Song published the book Beautiful Skin Project, a bestselling health and beauty guide for men (which was re-released in Japan in 2013). In late 2010, he went on a bicycling tour around Sydney, Australia, which aired two episodes on TV via ELLE, an offshoot of the eponymous fashion magazine. Moreover, a TV special of the actor’s trip to Japan entitled I’m Real: Song Joong-ki aired two parts in early 2011. And despite the low ratings of jTBC audition program Made in U, Song was commended for his smooth hosting skills as MC.
As a jobless deadbeat in the 2011 romantic comedy Penny Pinchers, a film review described Song as going seamlessly from slapstick comedy to a “charismatic”, “swoon-worthy leading man with a viable presence.”
Despite advice to the contrary, Song took on the role of the young king Sejong in Deep Rooted Tree although his stint was only four episodes long. He read many unofficial historical accounts and laid the character foundation for lead actor Han Suk-kyu, saying he felt that “a challenging role was more worthwhile than being in a lead role of a miniseries." Critics praised Song’s performance, calling it a portrayal of a genius who "realizes the futility of power early in life” and hides in his books to cope with growing up under the rule of his tyrannical father Taejong.
For the MBC program Tears of the Earth, which focuses on pressing environmental issues on the planet, Song narrated the six-part documentary Tears of the Antarctic, then donated his entire salary to charity. He reprised his role as narrator when the series was re-edited and released in theaters as Pengi and Sommi. He later went on a six-country tour entitled Song Joong-ki Asia Fan Meeting Tour - THRILL & LOVE, holding fan meetings in Thailand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Seoul, South Korea.
The Innocent Man (also known as Nice Guy) was the first time he played the leading role in a TV series. His assured and nuanced portrayal of an antihero received rave reviews. The Innocent Man attracted high ratings and critical acclaim, which along with the impressive box office run of A Werewolf Boy, cemented Song’s image in the press as the "savior” of the melodrama genre both on the big and small screen. But Song said he’d rather be a good actor than a popular one, and plans to calmly continue gaining experience like he had before.
Prior to his enlistment for mandatory military service, Song held a fan meeting on August 17, 2013. He then enlisted on August 27 at the 102nd draft camp in Chuncheon. Song was discharged on May 26, 2015. He is set to make his comeback in Descendants of the Sun, playing the leader of a peacekeeping unit who clashes with then falls for an army surgeon as they work together on disaster-relief missions. Written by hitmaker screenwriter Kim Eun-sook, the series is set to film overseas.