She is the first Asian actress to represent the face of Louis Vuitton. Song was at the helm of the "hallyu" (Korean wave) movement in 2001, making her one of the most recognizable Asia-Pacific actresses, and highest-paid Korean actress, in spite of limited global success.
In 2005, she was ranked as the most in-demand commercial film and endorsement star in South Korea. By 2011, Song was also recognized as the wealthiest female celebrity in real estate investments in South Korea, coming second overall for celebrities behind former boyfriend, singer Rain.
At 14, Song relocated to Seoul, South Korea, and was raised by her maternal grandparents.
Song was discovered at a metro stop in Seoul when she was 14 years old. Given the business card of a fashion editor, Song took the meeting and convinced her family to let her move to Seoul and began to pursue a modeling career.
In her earlier work, Song was hired specifically for her Eurasian features and hazel eyes. She largely did commercial and editorial work before gaining a cult following after a Samsung television commercial made her popular in 1999. Shortly after she began receiving offers for film and television work.
South Korean Film and Television
She found early success with My Sassy Girl (2001) and quickly became a household name in both Korea and throughout Asia. The film opened endless doors of endorsement deals and advertisements. The film was so successful that nearly every Asian country has a remake. The United States bought the rights to remake My Sassy Girl in 2008 with Elisha Cuthbert and Jesse Bradford as the leads.
Song followed her success with My Sassy Girl with the much-watched television drama series "All In" (2003) against Lee Byung Hun, and then cemented her super star status with the hit romantic comedy series "Full House" (2004) with Rain. Critically acclaimed and box office successes like A Moment to Remember (2004) and Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005) helped prove Song to be a near-guarantee hit in the box office or in television dramas.
International Film and Television
Song began to take roles in international blockbusters like Mission Impossible III (2006) and Live Free or Die Hard (2007). She started to transition her career into a more global one before ultimately leaving the Korean industry in 2010.
In the first few years, Song saw limited success in the US market, before being introduced to the Wachowski siblings who consequently cast her in their next three projects: Cloud Atlas (2012), Jupiter Ascending (2015), and "Sense8" (2015). In addition, she won minor roles in Divergent (2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). She also voiced Go Go Tomago in Big Hero 6 (2014), which would later win an Academy Award for best animated film that year.
She is currently on Netflix's science fiction drama, "Sense8," as Sun Bak.
Early into her career, Song downplayed her German heritage and avoided speaking about her father for several years due to pressure from management. As such, she acted and modeled exclusively under her mother's maiden name. She was encouraged to present herself as a full Korean actress; Song was one of the first mixed race actresses in Korean entertainment. She has since then expressed her dislike of being forced to pass and spoken openly about her ethnicities.
She was in a highly publicized on-and-off relationship with singer Rain, becoming public in 2007 after he was caught leaving her apartment early in the morning. The pair were rumored to have begun their relationship as far back as 2004, when they filmed the popular television drama, "Full House" (2004), having played a couple on screen. In early 2010, it was reported that the two had ended their relationship due to Song's interest in moving back to the United States.
When Song officially announced her desires to pursue a more international career in 2010, fans were very unhappy with her decision. Many felt that Song was turning her back on a country that had made her famous. At this time, the tone in media coverage began to sway from favorable to critical. Though she continues to work in South Korea largely in endorsements and commercial films, she has significantly cut back the amount of film or television work.