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Published 2021-10-06
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Squid Game Star, Jung Ho-Yeon's Hot Debut Makes Her The Most Followed South Korean Actress!

It seems that all anyone has been able to talk about in recent days is the hit Netflix series Squid Game. Everywhere you look there is something to do with the show, reviews, challenges, memes...this South Korean show has really had everyone going crazy for it. And while fans have been obsessing over the cast one star had stood out the most to them and that is a model turned actress, Jung Ho-yeon, who on the show takes on the role of Kang Sae-byeok. Which famous K-pop star is she friends with? And what do we know about this 27-year-old who became one of the biggest stars in South Korea nearly overnight? Read on to find out more about her.

Jung Ho-Yeon - The Beginning

The actress was born on June 23rd, 1994 in Seoul, South Korea. As we mentioned at the beginning Jung started her career in modeling, a world in which she became a part at the age of 16. To establish herself in the industry even prior to getting an agent or being signed to an agency, she appeared in the Seoul Fashion Week, which worked to her advantage as later she got signed with an agency ESteem Models. To further help her career and get her name out there, in 2013 this star joined season 4 of Korea’s Next Top Model. According to W Magazine, she had a rough start as she was eliminated by episode two but then later was brought back by episode five and since then she went on to the very end, securing herself a second place in the final.

Jung Ho-Yeon - Modeling Career

After her success on Top Model, Jung’s life changed. All of a sudden she became busy with booking for many jobs, appearing in several top fashion magazines, and hitting the runway for labels such as Louis Vuitton and in 2016 she debuted on the international runways. At this early point in her career, the actress had even dyed her hair red which ended up becoming her signature look. Her career gained such momentum that in 2015 Vogue had dubbed her as Korea’s Next Top Model. At the time the publication had dubbed her as the next Korean girl to “make a splash stateside”, which given the fact that she spent a long time outside of her native country working on her modeling career, could be argued that it came true.

Jung Ho-Yeon - Venturing Into Acting

While her life as a model might have seemed like a dream in some ways it was a little bit different for the actress. In an interview with W Korea, she admitted that what she shows on her Instagram might seem divine, but in reality, she is different than the person that she presented and revealed that she often felt lonely. This is where movies and books had come to help Ho-Yeon with her loneliness and in a way made her contemplate on a different career, as the 27-year-old said that had it not been the time she took to read and watch she wouldn’t have had turned to acting, as it was because of that past time that she had a strong desire to express how she felt through acting. And so, during the holiday season, she came back to Korea and took acting classes. It wasn’t long before Jung secured herself an acting agent and her first script arrived sooner than expected. What was the script in question? Squid Game. But it wasn’t all easy so read on to find out what the star had struggled with.

Jung Ho-Yeon - Squid Game

As it turns out she didn’t have to wait long at all. It was January when she signed with her acting agency and by February, as she said, she was in a group chat with the CEO who had given her the script for the show and told her to film and send in an audition video. At the time she was in New York City for the Fashion Week events but soon was asked to fly back to South Korea for an in-person audition. As you know, she ended up getting the role but it wasn’t all happy celebrations because as Jung said in an interview she was happy but at the same time a greater fear had taken over her as she doubted if she could even do this and in a way she felt like she “had gotten herself into trouble and felt a rush of pressure and fear”. Her nerves had continued onset and so she decided to speak with director Hwang Dong-hyuk about how she felt. As she later went on to say, the director had simply said to her “I picked you because you’re already perfect as Sae Byeok.”

Jung Ho-Yeon - Kang Sae-byeok

Though despite feeling nervous, the actress prepared hard for her role. She spoke with her fellow castmates, most of whom had some previous experience appearing on television or already being established actors in South Korea. Her character was introduced as a skilled pickpocket who joins the games to earn money to support her younger brother and reunite them with their mother, who is in North Korea. And that was also a challenge for which Jung had to prepare, and that was a thing that she did intensively. The 27-year-old watched a lot of documentaries about North Korean defectors and also spent time with a teacher, learning to speak with the country’s accent. But more than anything, as she said in an interview, the reason she was able to accept the role without much difficulty was that she was similar to her character, referring to the aforementioned time when she left her own country to focus on her career and how she ended up feeling alone. Though all the hard work paid off for the actress and make sure to read on until the end to find out just how.

Jung Ho-Yeon - The Success

When the show dropped on September 17th, it soon became a huge hit. And as it turns out her hard-edged pickpocket with a gruff attitude but a hidden soft side character, who is referred to as 067, quickly made viewers fall for her. And that was evidenced by her social media following. Prior to the release of the series her Instagram account had around 400,000 followers but in the weeks that followed the number skyrocketed and as of the writing of this article, Jung has over 14.8 million followers. And because of this, as reported by Glamour, she has become the most followed Korean actress on Instagram, surpassing Song Hye-kyo and Lee Sung-kyung who have 12 million and 12.9 million, respectively.

Jung Ho-Yeon - Famous Connections

However as it turns out, even prior to her becoming an international sensation nearly overnight, she had a few people close to her that would be seen as famous connections. One of them being her boyfriend Lee Dong-hwi, who is nine years older than Jung, and the two are often referred to as a “fashionista couple”. The pair had made their relationship public in January 2016 but according to Soompi, they were an item for several months by then. In a recent interview with Herald Pop, she also spoke about him saying that he was very proud of the success of Squid Game. Another person who was happy with her success was a close friend of hers that definitely knows what it’s like to be known on an international scale. And that is none other than Jennie from BlackPink! As it turns out, these two ladies had been friends for a while, and haven’t been shy about expressing their bond online. They both supported each other’s projects and greet each other during their birthdays. And most recently, Jung had shared a fun snap of her and her k-pop singer bestie to her Instagram, when she had popped in to visit her on the set of Squid Game. And, as she revealed in an interview, while Ho-Yeon was working on the show Jennie had sent her a coffee truck. Though if you are a fan of the show and want to know if there will be a season 2, stay with us until the end.

Squid Game - Show’s Success

Since its release Squid Game has become a global phenomenon. On social media sites such as TikTok, videos of people replicating the children’s games have gone viral, while online retailers have been rushing to sell “Squid Game” costumes in time for Halloween. The show has hit no.1 in more than 90 countries, including the U.S, and might even surpass Bridgerton and Lupin as the platform’s most-streamed productions, which was a surprise even for Netflix executives. The platform’s CEO, Ted Sarandos himself had spoken about this saying: “We did not see that coming, in terms of its global popularity.” Local media had even called this show, in terms of South Korean production, the next Parasite.

Squid Game - Season 2?

Now for the question, everyone is surely asking themselves: Will there be a season 2? Given how much of a hit the show was, and how the ending leaves a possibility of a second one, it has to happen right? Well, as the creator admitted in an interview with the Times, he didn’t actually have any plans past season one. Though in the interview he also revealed that he does have a few ideas. Netflix’s Global TV head Bela Bajaria, also touched upon this, saying that they are willing to work around Hwang Dong-hyuk’s schedule and are looking to “find the right structure for him”. So as of now, there is no concrete information and all we can do is wait.

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