You’ve likely heard about or watched all of Netflix’s Squid Game in one sitting (the Korean thriller series has become a cultural phenomenon). The show centers around 456 contestants, all of whom are in debt, and are fighting to win $45.6 million. One of its actors, HoYeon Jung (she played a beloved contestant on the show) has become a global breakout star. Jung’s laid-back style, which is best described as grunge meets prep, and personality are infectious qualities that her fans can’t get enough of.
Before she was casted in Squid Game, which was recently confirmed for a Season 2, Jung enjoyed success as a high-profile South Korean model. She started her career at 16 without an agent (she attended a modeling academy on her own to gain the necessary skills) and eventually signed with ESteem Entertainment in Korea. This led to placements in fashion magazines like Vogue Korea, W Korea, and Nylon Korea. In 2018, she signed with The Society Management and walked in runway shows for the likes of Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Fendi, Prabal Gurung, Versace, and Jacquemus. (The agency also reps fellow models such as Willow Smith, Kendall Jenner, and Adriana Lima — putting Jung in good company.)
Her debut acting role landed her in the international spotlight and already the fashion campaigns are rolling in. Back in 2021, Louis Vuitton announced her as its new global ambassador. (Other celebs who held this honor include BTS, Sophie Turner, and Naomi Osaka.) Plus, Jung now has an Instagram following of 23.7 million, and counting, making her one of the most-followed Korean actors on the platform.
Keep your eyes on this budding supermodel and actor by getting to know more about Jung, below.
Jung Appeared On Vogue’s February 2022 Cover
For Vogue’s February 2022 issue, Jung graced the cover in a glistening Louis Vuitton dress and cape. She wore Alexander McQueen earrings. The actor is notably the first East Asian woman to be featured solo on the cover in the magazine’s 130-year history. (However, this is not her first time being a cover star for the publication, as she’s appeared in both Vogue Korea and Vogue Japan.) For her February cover story, Jung spoke about the Squid Game phenomenon and the effects of gaining worldwide fame.
Jung Was Featured In Korea’s Next Top Model
Although Vogue dubbed Jung as “Korea’s next top model,” ironically she was also featured in Season 4 of Korea’s Next Top Model show. She placed second and appeared on model.com, as one of the top 50 fashion models. This was the start of Jung’s fashion career.
Jung Was Originally Known For Her Red Hair
Jung gained model recognition due to her fiery red hair. She told Vogue that before she moved to New York City in 2016, she had her hair touched up at her usual salon in Seoul, South Korea. Jung asked her hairstylist for a redder shade than her usual, which ended up being brighter than expected but the model loved it anyway.
Her hair caught the eyes of countless casting directors in New York, Milan, and Paris, where she was able to get casted for various fashion shows. “That reaction has made me feel so much more confident,” Jung said to Vogue. “I feel like I have a new image now — I can wear all black without being boring — and that’s a great feeling.”
Jung’s First Solo Cover Was For Harper’s Bazaar Korea
Jung’s first solo magazine cover was for Harper’s Bazaar Korea in February 2018, where she wore head-to-toe Christian Dior pieces. She’s already on her way to becoming a major style icon and will surely appear on more magazine covers.
Jung Became A Global Ambassador For Louis Vuitton
Jung made her international modeling debut in 2016 in Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2017 show. She then proceeded to be featured in the fashion house’s runway shows and participated in the Pre-Fall ready-to-wear 2017 campaign. In October 2021, she became the brand’s new global ambassador.
Jung said in a press statement, “It is an honor to start my acting career with Louis Vuitton, the brand I have modeled for. I look forward to all the moments with Louis Vuitton as a global ambassador.” In response, Louis Vuitton’s Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquière said in a statement: “I immediately fell in love with HoYeon’s great talent and fantastic personality, and I am looking forward to starting this new chapter of the journey we started at Louis Vuitton a few years ago.”
Jung Made Her Acting Debut In Squid Game
Jung first found out about Squid Game during New York Fashion Week in February 2020. In an interview with W Korea she said: “When my CEO told me I’d been cast, the first thing I said was, ‘Why?’ I was so happy when I heard ... but it was like a greater fear had taken over me. ‘Thank you very much, but can I do this?’” While she succeeded in captivating the audience through her role as the mysterious and quiet contestant Kang Sae-byeok in the thriller, in real life Jung is known for her bright and quirky personality.
Yet, she said that she related to her character in certain ways. “More than anything, I think I was able to accept [the character] without any big difficulties because I am similar to her,” said Jung in the same interview. “In 2016, I left Korea to further my modeling career overseas, and I spent a lot of time alone. At the time, the emotion that felt the most was ‘loneliness.’ That feeling of loneliness while trying to preserve and live isn’t all that different.”
Jung Is Best Friends With Blackpink’s Jennie
One of Jung’s closest friends is Blackpink’s, Jennie. Herald Pop, a Korean website that focuses on the entertainment industry, interviewed the model about her friendship with the K-pop idol. “Jennie was happy for me ever since I told her that I was cast in Squid Game,” June said, as translated by Soompi. “She even sent me a coffee truck, and she actively cheered me on by even uploading to her social media. She congratulated me so happily, as if my joys were also her own, that I wondered how such an angel could exist.”
Jung Appeared In Numerous Campaign Videos
Jung was featured in Chanel’s Fall/Winter 2018 and 2019 Shoes Collection campaign video. The model often wears the fashion house’s accessories, belts, and funky patterned tops on her Instagram.
After she competed in Korea’s Next Top Model show, she was featured in Sephora’s Let’s Beauty Together campaign video, where she wore colorful looks and had her red locks in a ‘90s hairstyle of little buns.
Jung’s Personal Style Is Laid-Back But Chic
When it comes to her personal sense of fashion, Jung gravitates towards a mix of grunge and preppy pieces like frayed jeans, flowing tops, and cardigans. In addition, the model loves her designer accessories like Celine headbands, Gentle Monster sunglasses, and layered Chanel jewelry. Jung’s favorite accessory is a good hat. Based on her Instagram account, she wears a variety of styles from bucket hats to woven toppers.
Jung Loves Classic Designer Pieces
One of Jung’s go-to brands for minimalist accessories is Prada, as evidenced by her Cleo bag and bucket hat from the fashion house.
Jung Loves K-Beauty Products
Jung loves her K-beauty products and uses essence every day, which is the core of Korean skincare. She doesn’t have many steps in her makeup routine and strives for a simple, natural makeup look, which makes her all the more relatable.
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