Song Yun-a Gets First Billing at Last

The actress Song Yun-a is as frank and open as her smile. ¡°Do you remember that my name was always billed after my male partners in my previous films? They said Shin Hyun-jun and Song Yun-a in ¡®Face,¡¯ Seol Kyung-gu and Song Yun-a in ¡®Lost In Love¡¯ and Park Joong-hoon and Song Yun-a in ¡®A Masterpiece in My Life,¡¯ something like that.¡± But her latest horror movie ¡°Arang,¡± which was recently released, gives her first billing for the first time. She plays a detective opposite the younger actor Lee Dong-wook in the movie. ¡°I felt responsible for my name for the first time,¡± Song says.

On MBC¡¯s new drama ¡°Elder Sister,¡± which started airing Saturday, she plays the title role, a 26-year-old art student growing up in a rich family who must suddenly take on the responsibility of head of the family and take care of her brothers after their father goes bankrupt and then missing.

¡°I was burned out and wanted to take a rest after filming two movies and drama back to back from the beginning of last year,¡± Song says. But she changed her plans when she heard that the writer of the new drama is Kim Jung-soo, who also wrote hit dramas ¡°You and Me¡± and ¡°Lifetime in the Country.¡± ¡°I have wanted to work with Kim, who writes warm stories about ordinary people¡¯s lives,¡± she explains. Her new image as a decent, gentle and docile woman is a far cry from the bad girl image she projected when she started out in the late 1990s. In the mega-hit drama ¡°Mr. Q,¡± which got more than 60 percent viewer ratings, she appeared as the head of the design department in an underwear company who bullied the female lead Kim Hee-seon. ¡°I played the typical bad girl in a trendy soap opera,¡± she said.

Although now one of Korea¡¯s leading actresses, Song spent four years as an unknown.

Song debuted at the recommendation of a senior in a modeling agency while she was a freshman studying Cultural Anthropology at Hanyang University. She made advertisements for magazines and was an extra in TV shows. ¡°Everything happened quite suddenly. I didn¡¯t think of becoming an actress in detail,¡± she says. In her middle and high school days, she watched TV soaps on the sly, putting a wet towel on the TV to reduce the heat so her father, who banned her from watching, wouldn¡¯t know. Until a few years ago, her father would call her to make sure she came home at 10 p.m.

¡°My cell phone is silent these days even when I come home late. I feel sad to think that my father is too old to nag me,¡± she says ruefully. Asked if her father hopes she is seeing a man when she is out late, the actress looks at the reporter out of the corner of her eye. ¡°Possibly,¡± she says. ¡°But the problem is I¡¯m not in a hurry to get married.¡± / 8¿ù 14, 2006 16:28 KST