Jung Ho-yeon is a South Korean actress and model. She gained international popularity after being cast in a lead role in the South Korean series ‘Squid Game’ (2021).
Jung Ho-yeon was born on Thursday, June 23, 1994 (age 27 years; as of 2021), in Myeonmok-dong, Seoul, South Korea. Her zodiac sign is Cancer.
She did her schooling at Hyewon Girls’ High School, Seoul. When she was in high school, she attended MBC Academy in Seoul, where she learned the basics of modeling. She did her majors in modeling at Seoul’s Dongduk Women’s University. Naver
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Black (dyed her red and blonde)
Her father is said to be the owner of a soup restaurant.
She has two sisters, one elder and one younger. Her sister is named Jung Ji-yeon.
In Janaury 2016, her relationship with South Korean actor Lee Dong-hwi was made public. The couple had already been dating for months by then. Together, the couple is known as fashionista couple and free personalities [who] don’t hide their affection.
- The Society Management (New York) (since 2016)
- Elite Model Management (Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, London, Spain, Copenhagen) (since 2016)
- Nomad Management (Miami, New York, Los Angeles) (since 2016)
- ESteem Models (Seoul) (2012-2019)
- Saram Entertainment (Seoul) (since January 2020)
At the age of fifteen, she started taking modeling classes, and at the age of sixteen, in 2010, she began working as a freelance model, walking for shows at the Seoul Fashion Week for two years; she worked without an agency at that time. In 2011, she auditioned for the second season of the reality modeling show ‘Korea’s Next Top Model’ and cracked it. After making it to the Top 30, she abandoned the show as she fell on the show and suffered a pelvic injury.
In 2012, she signed with ESteem Models after qualifying for an audition. The next year, she auditioned for the fourth season of ‘Korea’s Next Top Model.’ In the show, she faced elimination in the second episode; however, she returned in the fifth episode and went on to become the runner-up in the show.
In 2013, she appeared in the music video of the South Korean singer Lee Hyori’s ‘Going Crazy.’
The following year, she appeared in the music video of the South Korean singer Kim Yeon-woo’s ‘Move.’
In 2014, she was seen in the Kpop boyband 100%’s music video of ‘Beat.’ After being featured in the Korean editions of the magazines like Vogue, Elle, and W, she signed with The Society Management in 2016 and left South Korea to make her career overseas. In the same year, she also signed with the Elite Model Management (worldwide) and Nomad Management (Miami, New York, and Los Angeles). She soon moved to New York with fiery red hair color, a hairstyle that become her signature look. The look made her be recognized as a red-haired Asian among designers.
She was set to make her international runway debut to walk as an exclusive for the American designer Alexander Wang, which was canceled. Her international runway debut happened in September 2016 at Opening Ceremony’s S/S 2017 show at New York Fashion Week. Soon, she walked the ramp for Marc Jacobs (American fashion designer), Alberta Ferretti (Italian fashion designer), Chanel (French luxury brand), Max Mara (Italian fashion business), and Fendi (Italian luxury brand). She also appeared in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Love, and W and was featured in Sephora and Gap campaigns. In 2016, she was selected by French fashion designer Nicolas Ghesquière and casting director Ashley Brokaw to walk the ramp as an exclusive model for Louis Vuitton at their S/S 2017 show, which was her Paris Fashion Week runway debut. She has walked the ramp for brands like Burberry, Miu Miu, Jason Wu, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Giambattista Valli, Bottega Veneta, Emilio Pucci, Prabal Gurung, Jacquemus, Gabriela Hearst, Moschino, Oscar de la Renta, Roberto Cavalli, Jeremy Scott, Tory Burch, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Acne Studios, Brandon Maxwell, Gucci, and Lanvin.
Apart from that, she has appeared in the advertisements for brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, and Bottega Veneta, and made an appearance on the cover of magazines like Vogue Korea, Vogue Japan, CR Fashion Book, and Harper’s Bazaar Korea.
In March 2019, she appeared in a promotional video for Pharrell Williams and Chanel’s collaborative capsule collection.
The same year, she appeared in the music video of the South Korean rock band Hot Potato’s song ‘Taste of Acid.’
In October 2021, she became the Global House Ambassador for fashion, watches, and jewelry of Louis Vuitton.
The same month, she was seen in the Adicolor campaign of Adidas Originals.
After modeling for some time overseas, she decided that she wanted to be an actress because models often have a short career life span, a belief she got after her work in the industry began decreasing. On her visits to South Korea during holidays, she began taking acting lessons. She also improved her English to make her acting better. After signing with Saram Entertainment, in February 2021, she auditioned via video, while in New York for Fashion Week, for the South Korean survival series ‘Squid Game,’ which was streamed on and distributed by Netflix. After coming to South Korea, she auditioned for the role again in person and was immediately cast on the show. Written and directed by South Korean filmmaker Hwang Dong-hyuk, the series is based on a contest, consisting of children’s games, in which 456 players participate to win prize money of ₩45.6 billion; the losers face the death penalty. She played the lead role of ‘Kang Sae-byeok’ (numbered 067), a North Korean defector who enters the game to pay a broker to rescue her parents across the border and buy a house for her family to live in. For her role in the series, she practiced the Hamgyŏng dialect with real North Korean defectors, watched documentaries about the defectors, and learned martial arts. To build her character, she took inspiration from the loneliness she felt while in New York and also wrote a diary from her character’s point of view. While talking about it in an interview, she said,
As I wrote her daily diaries, I was able to build Sae-byeok’s outlook within myself, as well as her facial expressions. I’d almost say that I physically accumulated all of her experiences to express her character. Of course, I had to train in martial arts for the action sequences and learn the North Korean dialect. All of those efforts put together, as well as the help of many people I worked with, all gave birth to the character of Sae-byeok.”
Other main roles in the series were played by Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, and Kim Joo-ryoung. The series was a huge hit globally as it become Netflix’s most-watched series at its launch. The series is also the first South Korean drama to top Netflix’s top ten weekly most-watched TV show charts globally. Her role in the series was much appreciated by fans, she earned the title of Squid Game’s breakout star by critics.
Awards & Achievements
- Korean Fashion Photographers Association – Rookie of the Year Award in 2015
- Asian Model Awards – Asian Star Award in 2019
- Placed in Model.com’s Top 50 Models Worldwide list in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
- Actress: Amy Adams
- Actor: Song Kang-ho
- Film(s): Doubt (2008), Wild (2014), Kill Bill series, Orphan (2016), Roma (2018)
- Filmmaker: Quentin Tarantino
- Puzzle: Sudoku
- Video Game(s): 2048, Candy Crush
- Book: The Vegetarian by Han Kang
- Artist & Photographer: Karl Lagerfeld
- She was tomboyish while growing up.
- In childhood, she used to attend various academies to learn violin, piano, swimming, English, and mathematics.
- When she was in elementary school, she used to swim. She even won four second-place prizes during swimming competitions in Gyeonggi-do. However, her parents wanted her to only concentrate on her studies, so she had to leave swimming.
- In an interview, she said that she wanted to make money. When she asked her for suggestions, people told her that she should try modeling as she was tall. She agreed and decided to give modeling a try. When she went to the modeling academy, her teacher gave her small modeling jobs like fashion school graduation shows. Sometime later, she realized that there were Asian supermodels. She then began taking modeling seriously and signed with an agency.
- After she went on Korea’s Next Top Model, she realized that she wasn’t ready to compete yet. To improve herself, she began watching models in fashion magazines and how they carried themselves.
- Before she decided to become an actor, she faced a career slump. This made her feel lonely. In an interview, she said,
I didn’t have anyone to share my good or bad news with. I was constantly bottling up my loneliness. It was only after I entered the real world that I became firmer.”
She took her loneliness and turned to books and films in hopes of learning more about humanity. Instead, a desire to do acting grew in her.
- She was labeled as ‘one of Seoul’s top modeling talents’ by Vogue’s Monica Kim in 2015 and the ‘world’s current ‘It’ girl’ by K-Ci Williams of Vulture in 2021.
- After the success of Squid Game, she became the most-followed South Korean actress on Instagram in 2021, surpassing top South Korean actresses Lee Sung-kyung and Song Hye-kyo. As of November 2021, she had 23.6 million followers on her Instagram account.
- She is good friends with the South Korean singer Jennie (of Blackpink). They both first met at the Paris Fashion Week, where Jennie had come to watch the Chanel show, and she was on the ramp. Jennie’s stylist introduced them to each other. Later, she attended a Blackpink concert in New York. They became friends. When she used to visit South Korea, she used to always hang out with Jennie. They are often spotted together and show active support for each other in their work.
- She has a friendship group named Chin Ho-hyeop, consisting of models Kim Jin-kyung and Hwang Se-on, along with her.
- As a child, she used to dream of becoming the President of South Korea.
- She is an avid cat lover and has two pet cats named Tash and Zhushi.