The actress remains humble as ever as she reaches new heights in her career.
It’s easy to laud someone for their fame and success once they’re already at their peak. And it’s even easier to put them on a pedestal if you don’t know the lengths they’ve gone through to attain their goals—just assuming they effortlessly floated to the top unscathed. We often mentally shroud these people with a cloak of enigma and look at them through doe eyes, as if they’re an immaculate sight to see. But take a look closer and you’ll realize that they bore signs of battle all along, wearing scars and bruises like medals of their triumph. This is the price they paid for their victory—with unwavering determination, hard work, and the power to keep on pushing until the summit is close at hand. Approach them even when they’re at their highest point, and they will show you that they are just as humble as when they were just starting out. “I never think of myself as an international or global actor. I’m so amazed and grateful that [Crash Landing on You] has created a lot of international fans. Your support gives me so much strength, and I always thank you. Thank you for sending me so many letters, flowers, cakes, gifts, and many more and I will surely repay you with a good project,” expressed Son Ye-jin.
The Korean actress’s career was set brilliantly ablaze after her hit K-drama, Crash Landing on You, aired worldwide on Netflix. It was the only thing on everybody’s lips when it came out, and it’s still making waves to this day, months after its launch. The impact of the show was phenomenal, and put the spotlight on Son Ye-jin. Much like her chaebol heiress and CEO character Yoon Se-ri on the show, Ye-jin is the quintessential woman—accomplished, intelligent, poised, brave, creative, and beautiful. Her simple, classic style and sophisticated outlook make her an easy idol to look up to. But she didn’t gain her success overnight. She’s built a long and formidable career marked by diverse and challenging roles in a highly competitive industry.
She made her debut when she was 19, fresh out of high school. Her breakout role in the 2003 film The Classic put her on the map, and she was dubbed the “nation’s first love.” She has since appeared in a wide range of films and series that go beyond romance, such as the historical drama The Last Princess (2016), action film The Pirates (2014), and the political thriller The Truth Beneath (2016). Her versatility as an actress has been widely recognized and praised in the Korean film industry, winning her big awards like the Baeksang Arts Awards, Grand Bell Awards, and Blue Dragon Film Awards.
Her latest work, Crash Landing on You, could undeniably be considered as her most popular and successful project to date. It has reached millions of people, making her face one of the most recognizable in the world and yet she remains modest. “There’s really nothing special about me. In front of the camera, I’m always in character with the given role so I tend to stick to it. But behind the camera, I think I’m just ordinary. I’m just the same person as you guys,” Ye-jin shared shyly.
One could say that digital streaming has catapulted her career into a whole different height. The ease of watching shows at the click of a button has made it easy for her to gain an online presence and garner a wide audience that spans from east to west. Match that with her amiable temperament, and you’ll see clearly why she was hand-picked to be the newest endorser for Smart Signature here in the Philippines. Alfredo Panlilio, Smart President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer, shared why they specifically chose the Korean star as their new icon for Smart Signature: “Well, it was really an easy choice for us. I think we were hoping we could really bring her in, especially with her popularity with Hyun Bin in CLOY, and really she was the perfect choice for us because of that. But at the same time, we are a digital company and we offer digital content to our customers, and there’s so much content on Son Ye-jin in the K-drama platform and space. She’s perfect for us because she’s a very accomplished person and she has made her mark. She’s composed, very empowered, confident, and at the same time she’s also very simple and genuine. The brand promise of ‘Simple. Smart ako’ fits her very well and she has achieved a lot in her life and is perfect to be our endorser for Smart Signature.”
Shooting her commercial for Smart was an adventure on its own. With the pandemic still rampant, she shot with a team in South Korea while being in touch with Smart here in the Philippines. “The actual TVC shoot took place on July 16, but Ye-jin actually asked for a copy of the storyboard and the script two weeks before. She wanted to see if she could actually deliver 100% of the English lines all by herself, so we had prepared two storyboards—one with a voice over and another one where she had to deliver it completely on her own—and we’re just so ecstatic when she said, ‘I’ll do this.’ So, the entire commercial was voiced by Ye-jin herself. It was done completely digitally via Zoom and was supervised by our partners in the Philippines in Unitel Straight Shooters. We wanted to be there physically but we’d take this anytime,” shared Jane Basas, Smart SVP and Head for Consumer Wireless Business.
Panlilio was also delighted to work with Ye-jin despite only interacting with her online throughout the shoot. “I had a chance to have a Zoom call with her and she was very, very warm when she got to the camera. In fact, she was very welcoming of us as if she wasn’t in the middle of a shoot. She was doing a lot of things, but she took the time to take a call from us and it was very, very warm. She said that she would’ve wanted to do the shoot in Manila and she’s been dying to come to Manila as soon as possible and she wants to visit her fans here. We thanked her for being the endorser for Smart Signature and she was very, very happy, and willing to really come to Manila and say hello to her fans. I said she is very popular here and she is very happy. She’s a very warm and genuine person. She’s very simple. She doesn’t seem to know that she’s very popular; she’s very humble. She really spent time with us and she would’ve lasted longer online if we wanted to, but we knew she was in the middle of a shoot so we had to let her go. She’s really a very nice person and very professional.”
Son Ye-jin, herself, shared how her experience was when they filmed the commercial: “I was a bit worried. The thing that concerned me most was, ‘What if there was a problem with communication?’ But everything went smoothly. I don’t think there was any problem because we were in touch online. It was unfamiliar and felt new. But even if everything was done online, I really felt that they were really kind and nice people. I felt sad though that the shooting was not held in the Philippines. It was also sad for me that I wasn’t able to talk to them face-to-face. Nonetheless, it was nice to be with them virtually.”
Her character in the commercial was far different from what people saw in CLOY. In the video, she can be seen riding a motorcycle and zipping through the streets of Seoul like a heroine in pursuit of her goals, mirroring her real-life personality. It showed a whole new facet to her—more powerful, in control, and determined. Ye-jin’s candid moniker in the industry, “So” which means “cow” in Korean is based on her rigorous work ethic. She’s very meticulous and diligent, so when it came to voicing her own lines and riding the motorcycle, it’s no surprise that she was more than willing to do them herself. “It was so much fun. The staff clapped for me at the end of each cut, so it was funny and I felt energized. We took it until dawn, but it was less tiring,” she shared of her experience. Basa confirmed this, saying, “You know, if there’s one thing that she liked about this campaign, it’s that she got to ride a Ducati motorbike. We knew that she loved the campaign because the character that she portrayed is a very strong woman, a badass chick, and it’s very different from her prior endorsements. We knew how much she loved it because two days after the shoot, she unexpectedly posted a video of the commercial in her personal Instagram account. We wanted to keep this confidential from the fans, but the fans from Korea and from the Philippines just picked it up and we just had to ride that. We couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”
One of the things that also sets the actress apart is her clear-cut vision of her goals. She’s not fazed by challenging roles, rather she sees them as mountains to be conquered and opportunities to inspire and reach out to people. This is the defining trait that shows how much she embodies the Smart Signature persona. “As an actress, I am always grateful for having a platform to entertain and touch the lives of others through my craft. I thank Smart for giving me a way to specifically reach out to my Filipino fans and inspire them to make a mark in whatever path that they have chosen.”
A fan of technology herself, Ye-jin admits she uses it more now during the pandemic. “It is true that we spend much more time looking at our smartphones and connectivity more than ever. I use the camera app a lot. Also I am using apps when I drive, listen to music, and study English.” Productive even during her downtime, she makes use of the internet to improve her craft and adopt other skills. Even with her own show on Netflix, she also revealed that she has developed similar watching habits as the rest of us. “I tend to binge-watch. All I need is a sofa and a TV on my day off. And also my smartphone.” Her balance between work and play relies on connectivity, which is also delivered conveniently here by Smart Signature. Powered by Smart LTE, Smart Signature provides the country’s fastest mobile data network. It also offers first dibs on new technology and mobile innovation to subscribers, as well as the latest digital content so people can excel at work and pursue their goals while also streaming the newest K-dramas and K-pop hits without a glitch. It caters to different lifestyles to adapt to every consumer’s needs with a variety of plan structures. Smart Signature also delivers an elevated lifestyle for loyal customers, who can enjoy perks and rewards through points earned via MVP Rewards, among other unique experiences and privileges awaiting subscribers throughout the year.
The woman we see and look up to now—the one with acting awards, blockbuster shows, and the reach and influence of a true tastemaker in the digital and mainstream worlds—was borne by hard work, discipline and wise choices. Her career is marked by partnerships that have let her grow and move forward, never forgetting to show humility on her way to the top and share words of wisdom to those who aspire to chase their goals. “Well, I’m not yet sure if I’ve already succeeded, but I think young people who just started not only in acting but also in other fields are going to be so scared and experience hardships. Same as my experience. But it helps that I’ve always set a goal. And even if reality is not close to that goal, just try your best and imagine yourself in that future. Then make the best out of everything. Then think of that as a step closer to your dream.”
With the wind of success supporting her metaphorical paraglider, we’re sure to see Son Ye-jin soaring higher in the future—this time, landing safely on her goals instead of another country.