Song Kang-ho, icon of contemporary Korean cinema

Clinching his first-ever Palme d'Or prize for his family satire "Parasite" at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival on Saturday, director Bong Joon-ho did not hesitate to share the honor with Song Kang-ho, the lead actor and his longtime friend.

When he went up to the stage to receive the golden palm trophy, he brought the actor to the microphone, saying, "I want to hear words from the greatest actor and my companion, Song, who is here with me now."

Bong's tribute to Song continued at a photo-call after the award ceremony. He knelt and presented the precious trophy to Song as if making a traditional marriage proposal.

Their relationship started in 2003 when Song took the role of a detective who looks into serial murders in Bong's second feature film "Memories of Murder."

And he later became a regular of Bong's films. Along with "Memories of Murder" and "Parasite," they have worked four times together, the other two films being "The Host" (2006) and "Snowpiercer" (2013). Most of the movies have gained both popularity and critical acclaim.

His lilting manner of speaking and intensity of emotion blend well with Bong's style of humor and sarcasm that conveys a critical social message.

In the films, he has played a wide spectrum of roles ranging from a detective in an old-fashioned investigative style ("Memories of Murder") and a working-class father who desperately struggles to save his daughter from a monster ("The Host") to the designer of a giant train where the only survivors of a global, apocalyptic Ice Age are on board ("Snowpiercer").

Moreover, Song's fine portrayal of ordinary next-door neighbors and his avuncular image also stand out in films like "The Host," "The Attorney" (2013) and "A Taxi Driver" (2017), all of which were seen by more than 10 million people, a standard for a huge success in South Korea.

But the 52-year-old silver screen star did not always play comfortable and common characters. In "Joint Security Area" (2000) and "The Throne" (2015), he acted completely different roles convincingly and with sensitivity.

His eclectic acting style has appealed to many renowned South Korean filmmakers including Bong and Park Chan-wook, who worked with Song in three feature movies including "Thirst" (2009),
which grabbed the No. 3 Jury Prize at Cannes.

Bong said Song's talent and verve helped him achieve the feat at Cannes.

"'Parasite' was an amazing adventure for me. Thanks to the artists, I could make this unique and fresh film," he said during the award ceremony at the film festival. "Above all, I couldn't shoot a scene without the greatest actor, Song Kang-ho."

The photo provided by AFP shows South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (R) and actor Song Kang-ho (L) posing with the trophy during a photo-call after winning the Palme d'Or for "Parasite" at the closing ceremony of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2019.

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