Actor Son Ye-jin opens second chapter in career with Bifan retrospective

Actor Son Ye-jin poses during a press conference for the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival's Actor Retrospective exhibition in Bucheon on July 5. [NEWS1]

Actor Son Ye-jin is ready to open a second chapter in her acting career after a two-year hiatus following her marriage and the birth of her child. Opening that new chapter is a special section of the 28th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (Bifan) entirely dedicated to her and her only.

“I personally had many things going on the past two years, and it felt like the first chapter of my career ended,” Son said during a press conference held at the Hyundai Department Store in Bucheon, Gyeonggi, on Friday.

Son was selected for this year’s Actor Retrospective exhibition at Bifan, which will reflect on Son’s 23-year career as an actor. Bifan began on Thursday at the Bucheon Art Center.

Bifan has been choosing actors who represent the contemporary Korean film scene for its Actor Retrospective since 2017. Actors Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Woo-sung, Kim Hye-soo, Sul Kyung-gu and Choi Min-sik were previously selected.

This year’s “One and Only Son Ye-jin” exhibition will showcase the actor's career. Various events will include a booklet release, a photo exhibition, a screening of the actor’s films and a talk session.

Son described her first chapter as “living fiercely.”

“I still can’t believe that 20 years has passed [since my debut],” she said. “In a blink of an eye, I aged, and my filmography grew this long.”

Son debuted in 1999 and is known for her roles in films "The Classic" (2003) and “A Moment to Remember” (2004), the JTBC series “Something in the Rain” (2018) and the tvN series "Crash Landing on You” (2019-20).

She tied the knot with fellow actor Hyun Bin, with whom she appeared in the film "The Negotiation" (2018) and tvN series "Crash Landing on You," in 2022.

“I always felt that I was pushing too hard against myself for the past 20 years, but now I think that it was all worth it and meaningful,” she added after she saw positive appraisals from directors and critics.

Actor Son Ye-jin speaks during a press conference for the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival's Actor Retrospective exhibition in Bucheon on July 5. [YONHAP]

The exhibition gave her the opportunity to look back on her two-decade career while she was preparing her second chapter, according to the actor.

“By organizing them [through the exhibition], it motivated me to jump forward once again,” Son said.

Over the past 23 years, Son has played various roles in a wide range of films, from a lover to a pirate and a princess to a negotiator. However, the actor initially garnered attention for her pure, innocent roles in romance films like “The Classic” and “A Moment to Remember."

“When I started acting in my early 20s, there weren’t a lot of images that female actors could show at the time,” Son said. “Most of the pieces [during that time] had [female roles with] a sad and pitiful narrative, and I kept thinking that I didn’t want my image to be limited to such roles.”

“So I tried searching for different characters that could show a different side of me,” she added. “I didn’t want to set a limit.”

Son also looks back on her so-called prime days, her 20s, saying she looked so “fresh and pretty.”

“My eyes and looks at that time, with that 20s’ freshness, are something I cannot portray again now,” Son said. “I sometimes wonder why I didn’t enjoy that beauty then.”

Son and Hyun Bin had their first child two years ago, which "brought a lot of change" for her, according to Son.

“The happiest part is that I learned the preciousness of everyday life,” she said. “Before then, my work was everything.”

Son is now gearing up to return to the screen, saying that she will continue not putting limits on her roles.

“I was always in a hurry and struggling in the past when I worked, but from now on, I want to look at my career from a longer perspective,” she said. “I hope to act more deeply and relaxed [in the future].”