Song Joong-ki’s road to fame: before Netflix’s Vincenzo and K-drama stardom, he was nearly a K-pop idol trainee

What was Song Joong-ki like before the fame? Photos: @joongkisource/Twitter, @Kdramalover96/Twitter
From hit 2016 military drama Descendants of the Sun to currently airing mafia series Vincenzo, there’s been no end in sight to the different yet equally charming sides that Song Joong-ki has shown us. And then there were his other popular K-dramas like Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Arthdal Chronicles, not to mention his sensational marriage to Song Hye-kyo.

But that’s not all there is to the 35-year-old Korean star. Here’s a list of memorable moments from throughout his life that you should definitely know about before calling yourself a true Song Joong-ki fan …

He was a short-track speed skater

Song Joong-ki in the K-drama Triple. Photo: @Kdramalover96/Twitter

Song might have athletic scenes in his K-dramas, but his physical prowess isn’t just limited to the small screen: he’s talented in sports in real life too. Since his first year in junior school he made a name for himself as a short-track speed skater. He even played for the regional team of his hometown Daejeon, taking part in the Korean National Sports Festival thrice.

Song Joong-ki in drama Triple. Photo: @SongJoongKi_ID/ Twitter

So why did he quit after almost 12 years of competing? The main reason was an injury, but there was more to it than that. According to SBS News, on an episode of Channel A’s Rumour Has It a pop culture critic commented that, “There were a lot of conflicts between short track teams in order to acquire influence. Song Joong-ki realised that not only is it difficult to be selected as a member of the national team … he also knew that his talent was not the sole requirement. So he entirely gave up on doing sports and devoted himself to his studies.” SBS News also stated that, in an interview with another media outlet, Song revealed his struggles with his decision, saying, “I cried so much when I quit short-track speed skating.”

But Song didn’t leave his passion behind completely: in 2009, he portrayed a national short-track speed skater in MBC’s Triple, showing off his skating skills on screen. Score.

He was a student representative for his high school

Song Joong-ki as a (good) student. Photo: Bestiz

After Song quit skating, he replaced his passion for sports with a passion for school. In an interview with MaxMovie, he said he hoped to alleviate his sense of loss with the satisfaction of studying, and named an unyielding spirit and a desire to succeed as his sources of motivation. His efforts paid off: he got good grades and even entered one of the best universities in South Korea, Sungkyunkwan University.

A letter from Song Joong-ki’s high school teacher, and Song on the right. Photo: Bestiz

But his smarts weren’t the only reason he was a good student. At his high school, Namdaejeon High School, he received an award for perfect attendance, which is only given to students who never miss a single day of classes. He was also the vice-president of the student council. One of his high school teachers recognised his dedication in a letter that went viral online, saying, “I am still proud of you, who was passionate and active in delivering other students’ opinions.”

On top of all that, he was also well-known for his good looks – so much so that students from other schools would come to see him during his school’s festivals, according to Enews 24.

He studied business at university

Song Joong-ki on the cover of his university’s magazine, Kingo. Photo: @mrsong0919/Twitter

But before Song entered university, he took a gap year and took the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) – Korea’s university entrance exam – twice, according to Channel A’s Rumour Has It. The show also revealed that Song even turned heads at the exam centre, with a gaggle of girls gathering outside to see him.

Song Joong-ki in his university days. Photo: @mrsong0919/Twitter
At Sungkyunkwan University, he got a degree in business administration and was featured on the cover of the university’s magazine Kingo several times between 2008 to 2013. He even spent some time as an anchor for the campus broadcaster.

He wanted to become a news anchor

Song Joong-ki on KBS’ News 9. Photo: @fnn_kr/Twitter

In his letter to Song, his high school teacher recounted, “I thought you were going to fulfil your dream to be a news anchor, so I was surprised to see you on TV. I didn’t think you would establish yourself so quickly.”

Song Joong-ki in KBS’ Quiz Korea. Photo: @joongkisource/Twitter

Aside from being an anchor at his university, Song also appeared on the KBS game show Quiz Korea in 2006, winning the second prize. Yet again, his looks grabbed the audience’s attention; according to Soompi, his classmates even launched a fan cafe dedicated to him after his appearance on the show.

In 2016, he became the very first celebrity to be interviewed on KBS 1TV’s News9. On the show, he said, “In the past, there was a time when my dream was to become an announcer. Seeing such famous news anchors in person, and sitting here in this studio, it really feels like I’ve been able to live out another dream.”

He could have become an idol

Song Joong-ki. Photo:

The opportunities didn’t stop pouring in for the young Song. During an interview with Issuedaily, Song revealed that he once got a call from an entertainment agency inviting him to become a trainee for an idol group. He didn’t name any names, but the group is apparently very popular now. Can you imagine what Song would have looked like as a K-pop idol?

And after his Quiz Korea appearance, he also got a call from late popular Korean designer André Kim. In an interview with Ceci magazine, Song said that Kim called his mum directly, asking if Song could be in one of his fashion shows.

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  • Before the film Space Sweepers, dramas Descendants of the Sun and Arthdal Chronicles, and his marriage to Song Hye-kyo, Song Joong-ki was already turning heads
  • Did you know he was a short-track speed skater for 12 years, attended the prestigious Sungkyunkwan University and appeared on KBS’ Quiz Korea as a student?