Jung Ho-Yeon’s rollercoaster ride

KOREAN actress and model Jung Ho-Yeon — PHOTO BY MICHELLE ANNE P. SOLIMAN

“I’VE never like been through that kind of roller coaster in just a few hours in that day,” said Korean actress and model Jung Ho-Yeon of the day she won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for her role in Squid Game at the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG). It was her first SAG nomination and win.

Her win came shortly after the show failed to win in its other nominated category,Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

The actress, who also goes by the name Hoyeon, was speaking to the Philippine press about life after2021’s Squid Game — the ultra-violent Netflix Original series which follows desperate cash-strapped players who accept a strange invitation to compete in a series of deadly children’s games with an eye on winning a tempting prize. Moderator Sam Oh translated for the actress during the press conference on Nov.11 at the Marco Polo Ortigas.

One of the memorable experiences she had this year, she said, was taking her mother to the 74th Emmy Awards.   “That was the one of the biggest things that happened to my life,” the 28-year-old model-turned-actress said, switching to English.

The actress was in the country for a fan meet at the New Frontier Theater in Quezon City on Nov. 11. The event was arranged by network marketing company IAM Worldwide — Ms. Jung was named its international ambassador in March this year.

“It has been such a great honor, and this is my first time to travel here [in the Philippines] for work. Aside from trips that she’s taking more personal leisure. I am enjoying so much and I going to come back no matter what,” translated Ms. Oh.

Ms. Jung earned worldwide recognition for her work in Squid Game where she plays Kang Sae Byeok, Player 67, a North Korean defector who joined the game in hope of reuniting with her family.

More than the character’s qualities, she said that“being in a different country, a different place where she did not grow up and had to go into this foreign place with a different culture, earn money there and live there,” was the experience that she related to most with her character.

Since her work in Squid Game, Filipino fans have flocked to her — Filipinos are the second biggest group among her 22.5 million followers on Instagram.

To keep herself grounded, the actress said she makes sure to spend some time alone.

Ms. Oh translated her words: “She first needs to understand what is happening to her life… And then from there, she also goes even further to think ‘What am I going to do now moving forward?’ She wouldn’t go as far as saying that she’s planning out her next steps, but it’s really just about giving herself that mental space and emotional space just to be by herself and to process all of it and then go from there.”

After Squid Game, Ms. Jung is set to appear in an Apple+ TV series Disclaimer, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring opposite Cate Blanchett. Also in the works are a film from production house A24 titled The Governesses, and a new project with Netflix Korea.

“I get asked this question a lot,” Ms. Jung said of the next roles she hopes to take on.

“The answer honestly is that I don’t have one. It could be because I have a very adventurous and maybe it’s because I’m greedy as well. But I want to try all kinds of genres and I want to play all kinds of characters,” she said. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman