The 27-year-old model-turned-actor is now creating quite an impression with her breakthrough role as Kang Sae-byeok.
The Korean drama Squid Game has taken the world by storm. It is the latest piece of media to come out the country after the film Parasite and Train to Busan that is creating a wave. The thriller series follows a group of people who are strapped for cash and are initiated into a game by an anonymous organization that promises to give them ₩45.6 billion (US$38.7 million) as a prize.
The characters in the show won everyone's heart with their backstories and onscreen persona. Among them was Kang Sae-byeok or Player No. 067 played by Jung Ho Yeon. Sae-byeok was a North Korean defector who enters the game to earn money quickly to pay for a broker to find and bring her surviving family to the South so they could live together. Yeon Jung as Sae-byeok is one of the characters that people found endearing and could not help but sympathize with. The model-turned-actor is now creating quite an impression.
Here are some things that you probably did not know about her.
Ho Yeon portrayed the character of a determined and driven Kang Sae-byeok very convincingly. She was able to convey the character's sense of mistrust of others and relentless strength in the face of adversaries with ease. But this was actually her very first acting gig, which many people may be surprised to hear. People have been all praise for her brilliant portrayal of the character.
Ho Yeon started her modeling career at the age of 16. She has walked for top fashion brands across the world including brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Moschino, Etro and has also graced the covers of Vogue Korea, Vogue Japan, Harper's Bazaar Korea, and CR Fashion Book. She even managed to impress the late Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel.
At the beginning of her modeling career, she participated in the fourth season of Korea’s Next Top Model in 2013. She was in the bottom three by episode two and was eliminated soon after. But she returned to the competition in episode five and then went on to win the final two regular competitive episodes and wound up as one of the runner-ups. Despite not winning the season she was deemed Korea's next top model by many.
As a model, she was not only appreciated for her talent, she also made a name for herself as the model with red hair. She explained to Vogue in 2016 that this was actually a huge accident. “I told my colorist, ‘I think a little redder than usual,’ since there were still three weeks before Fashion Week,” she said, explaining that red pigment tends to fade quickly. “It turned out super red. But really, it suits me so well!”
Ho Yeon is an international model and has walked on runways all over the world. Learning English however was not so much for ease in the modeling world but because she wanted to pursue a career in acting. She had always dreamed of being an actor and thought it would be better to learn English before exploring a new career option.
She signed with Saram Entertainment in early 2020 and soon after received an invitation to audition for the series that is now a hit and that has made her a star. But this was at the same time she was preparing for New York Fashion Week. “All I did during that time other than eat was read the script,” she stated. “Later, the director wanted to meet me in person, so I flew back to Korea.”
Her venture into an acting career was only the natural step for her since she loves to learn and explore new things. Speaking to models.com she said, "I thought I shouldn’t be a model who has a perfect, skinny body or perfect face. I should be a model who is full of happy energy and full of different talents. I could be a dancer, I could be an actress, I could be a model. I thought that actually three years ago and so I started to learn every kind of class."
Ho Yeon loves adventure. "I skydived once," she said admitting it was scary, however. "I was in Guam with my friends, I think I was 19 or something like that. We love traveling, and we love adventure, so we said, 'We should try skydiving.'" She also enjoys action movies and hoped to one day be in a Quentin Tarantino-esque flick. In a way, she has realized this dream already with Squid Game.
The 27-year-old is close friends with singer Jennie from the girl group Blackpink. Jennie had even sent a food truck for Ho Yeon during the filming of Squid Game. The two have been supportive of each other and have been on each other's social media since 2019.
Reply 1988's Lee Dong Hwi (Dong-Ryong) is officially in a relationship! He's confirmed to be dating model Squid Game's Jung Ho Yeon (Player 067 Sae-Byeok) way back 2016! ✨— kdrmlvr🌺 (@nanaluvieeee) September 19, 2021
:Woooooow, daebak! Turns out Dong-hwi is in a relationship for 5 years already! ♥️ pic.twitter.com/AAiRBeNE35
Ho Yeon has been in a relationship with actor Lee Dong Hwi, who is older than her by nine years. They made their relationship public in January 2016. Dong Hwi of Reply 1988 fame is known for dressing up in chic styles and the pair were called a "fashionista couple."