[INTERVIEW] ''Sweet Home' made me who I am today': Song Kang on season two of Netflix series

Song Kang, the lead actor of the second season of Netflix action series ″Sweet Home″ [NETFLIX]

Daniel Radcliff had “Harry Potter,” and Elijah Wood had “Lord of the Rings.” For actor Song Kang, it was the Netflix zombie-slash-monster action franchise “Sweet Home” that brought him international acclaim and recognition for his acting.

Before the days of “Squid Game” (2021), “Sweet Home” was one of the earliest original Korean works to receive global popularity and the first Korean series to enter Netflix’s top 10 in the United States upon the release of its first season in 2020.

Hoping to continue the success of the first season, Netflix rolled out all eight episodes of the second season of “Sweet Home” on Dec. 1.

“To me, the first season of ‘Sweet Home’ is the work that made me who I am today,” Song told reporters in an interview on Dec. 5.

“There was one thing that the director told me before we started shooting the first season — that he believes in me, so I should believe in him too. I still remember it and it cheers me on so much.”

Actor Song Kang from a scene of the second season of Netflix original action series ″Sweet Home″ [NETFLIX]
A scene from the second season of Netflix original action series ″Sweet Home″ [NETFLIX]

Based on the Naver webtoon of the same name by Kim Carnby and Hwang Young-chan, which surpassed 1.2 billion views worldwide, the first season of the Netflix series was released on Dec. 18, 2020.

Directed by Lee Eung-bok, the director of the megahit series "Descendants of the Sun" (2016), "Guardian: The Lonely and Great God" (2016–17) and "Mr. Sunshine" (2018), the apocalyptic series revolves around a teenage loner Cha Hyun-soo, played by Song, who teams up with the rest of the surviving residents at Green Home to protect their sweet home from the monsters.

The first season started with a group of survivors who get trapped inside Green Home. The second season has the residents escape from the building and enter the streets — where monsters aren’t the only things they have to fight any more. The emotional strain was no joke, but it also helped Song grow as an actor, he said.

“I think I really grew emotionally,” he said. “There was this one scene where I was so immersed that I couldn’t shake the emotions off even an hour after the director shouted ‘cut!’ I’ve never had that experience, and so it felt amazing. I could really feel myself maturing and expressing my emotions better afterward.”

Scenes from the second season of Netflix original action series ″Sweet Home″ [NETFLIX]

The new season sat at No. 4 on Netflix’s Top 10 list of Non-English TV videos during the week of Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 — an impressive feat in itself though still short of the wide acclaim that the first season received. The introduction of multiple new characters and plotlines have led to some reviews complaining that it’s all too confusing, both visually and story-wise, but Song says he won't be swayed by outside voices.

“I try not to look at comments online, because it’s easy to get caught up in them,” he said. “If I think I’m doing something right, then I don't want to be swung around by anyone else. I think that will be bad for myself, mentally. Everything that I do as an actor comes from the faith I have within myself, because you’re faced with so many uncertainties along the way.”

But that doesn’t mean he’s 100 percent sure of himself. In fact, the uncertainties surrounding an actor’s job — whether the work will be received well by the audience, whether they will have good chemistry with other actors, whether there will be a next season and so on — does weigh down on him, he says.

“For us, it’s not just one job — we have to keep on challenging ourselves with each new role and do so really well,” he said.

“You’re given new roles every day, and that leads you to doubt yourself. You doubt whether this is right, or whether you’ve prepared yourself properly. So I always ask questions and prepare a lot of different emotions and methods even with a single scene. I think the gravity of the job weighs down on me, rather than giving me reassurance.”

Actor Song Kang at the press conference for the second season of Netflix original action series ″Sweet Home″ held on Nov. 30 [NETFLIX]

Song’s jump from one genre to another stands out in his filmography. Having debuted with a small role in the 2017 tvN romance drama “The Liar and His Lover,” Song took his first lead in the Netflix original love thriller “Love Alarm” in 2019, shot to fame with the first season of “Sweet Home” in 2020, then turned into a beaten-down ballerino finding his passion by teaching a dying old man in tvN series “Navillera” in 2021.

The great leaps were 100 percent intentional — and satisfying, Song says.

“I’m always up for a new challenge every time I get a new script,” he said. “I’m an adventurer, so I chose my works because they felt new and eccentric, something that really compelled me to take the part. I discussed the works with the CEO of the agency and chose them in the end.”

“I think it’s so fun, this job,” he continued. “You always get to try out a new job, so to say, and change yourself. You get to think about the job you’re acting with every new drama series you start. I always feel so intrigued by my new job and how I get to find out more and think in their shoes.”

Song Kang, the lead actor of the second season of Netflix action series ″Sweet Home″ [NETFLIX]

Song has another "job" lined up for him soon. Born in April 1994, Song is set to soon begin his mandatory military service that all able-bodied young men in Korea must fulfill. An exact date has not been set yet, but the second season of “Sweet Home” was his last work before he sets off.

“I feel really good,” he said when asked how he feels about his imminent career change. “I’ve always had it in mind because it’s my natural duty [as a Korean]. I’ve always thought that rather than struggling, I could take the time to develop myself if I just change the way I think. I’m planning to show how I’ve improved during that time.”

Reaching 30 years of age is also something that Song is not afraid of. In fact, he had always wanted to grow older and see his older self.

“Ever since I was a high school student, I've wanted to become 30,” he said. “To me, a 30-year-old seems so mature and cool. I wanted to know that I too could become someone mature. I love where I am at now at this stage in my life, and I can’t wait to turn 30. I’m so looking forward to the things that will come my 30-year-old way.”

The third season of “Sweet Home” is already slated to hit Netflix next year. The second and third seasons were shot together and is scheduled for release before Song starts his military service.

“Looking back, I really lived a life without any regret,” he said. “I pride myself in having had the right mindset at any given moment and for giving my best in everything.”