Why ‘Squid Game’ star Jung Ho-yeon wants to return to PH | Inquirer Entertainment

Why ‘Squid Game’ star Jung Ho-yeon wants to return to PH

By: - Reporter
/ 12:25 AM November 16, 2022



After the tremendous international success of the Netflix series “Squid Game,” its breakout star, supermodel-turned-actress Jung Ho-yeon, became one of the most followed South Korean celebrities on Instagram.

And making up the second biggest chunk of her 22.5 million followers on the social media platform, she revealed, are Filipinos. So she felt it was only apt that she visited the country to personally thank her Filipino fans who have given her nothing but love and support.


“Since the success of the show, things kind of took off in my career. My following [on social media] also skyrocketed. And what I noticed was that, of my followers, Filipino fans are ranked second … So I have always thought that I would really love to go to the Philippines and meet my Filipino fans,” she said at a recent press conference last Nov. 11.


Later that day, Ho-yeon held her first ever Manila fan meet at the New Frontier Theater where she had a chat, played games and took photos with her supporters. The event was presented by Wilbros Live and the Filipino health and wellness company IAM Worldwide for which she serves as a global ambassador.

“ I’m very thankful and happy to be finally here … I’m grateful for all the support,” the 28-year-old artist said.

While she has previously visited the Philippines for leisure, this recent trip is her first for work. But the experience was just the same. “I’m enjoying myself so much, so I’m going to come back no matter what,” said Ho-yeon, who hopes to spend some me-time in the country’s picturesque islands.

“I have heard that there are a lot of islands in the Philippines where there are no people. I want to go there and do nothing but lie on the sand, look up to the sky, get on the boat, get into the waters and just do nothing. Because I could really, really use a break now. That’s what I want to do,” she said.

But until she gets that chance, Ho-yeon said she was going to savor this trip and experience as many things as she could. “I want to see a lot of things. We have a Korean expression that goes ‘I want to contain a lot of things in my eyes.’ I want to see different things, whether it’s a new place or restaurant. I’m taking a lot of photos because I want to save those moments,” she said.



Ho-yeon got her start in showbiz as a freelance model and runner-up in the fourth season of Korea’s Next Top Model in 2013. She then pursued a career in fashion overseas, walking the runway for prestigious fashion brands in New York, London, Milan and Paris.


Unstable profession

Realizing that modeling is an unstable profession, Ho-yeon decided to venture into acting. In 2021, she made her acting debut in “Squid Game,” which became the streaming platform’s most-watched program and reached No. 1 in 94 countries.

To say that the past year has been a “roller-coaster” ride is an understatement.

Aside from worldwide recognition, her performance as the North Korean defector and pickpocket Kang Sae-byeok or Player 067 earned Ho-yeon the outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series award at the 2021’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. She also received a nomination for best supporting actress in a drama series at the 2022 Emmy Awards.

Ho-yeon has three acting projects in the works: the Apple TV thriller series “Disclaimer,” which is directed by Alfonso Cuaron and stars Cate Blanchett; the Hollywood film, titled “The Governesses”; and a role in the South Korean Netflix Original series “Chicken Nugget.”

What has been the highlights of her year? “I brought my mom to the Emmys, which was one of the biggest things to happen in my life. I remember the SAG Awards because that day … I have never been through that kind of roller coaster within a few hours. That moment has stayed with me … Getting a chance to work with Alfonso Cuaron and Cate Blanchett is also a magical, surreal experience,” she related.

Now in the cusp of Hollywood stardom, Ho-yeon finds herself resonating even more with her “Squid Game” character.

“More than the character’s actions or all the things I did on the show, for me it was about being in a different country where she didn’t grow up. She had to go into this foreign place with a different culture, and live there and earn money. And she had to do that by herself. This was the experience I related to most in the show,” she said.


Ho-yeon doesn’t really have a specific dream role. “I’m adventurous and kind of greedy, so I want to try all sorts of characters, genres,” she said, laughing. “I just want to explore and try different things.”

The one thing she asks for, however, is enough time to immerse in a character. “I want to take my time with my roles and get to know my characters. The experience of meeting a character for the first, second, third time is always different. And at times, I need some time when I don’t have to deal with the character. That’s something I ask from my management or production … if I can have some time first with the characters,” she said.

And it’s this kind of thoughtfulness that she puts into self-reflection. With all the attention she has been getting these days, she sees to it that fame doesn’t get into her head and makes a conscious effort to keep herself grounded.

“It’s about taking time for myself, getting alone time for myself, because first, I need to understand what’s happening around me. What’s this experience I’m having? I need some time to process all those feelings I’m having and arrange my thoughts,” she said. “‘After this experience, what am I going to do, moving forward?’ I would ask myself.”

Asked about the most important piece of advice she has gotten, Ho-yeon highlighted the importance of empathy.

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“Something I like to talk about with my friends is empathizing with each other. Everyone is getting busier by the day. We’re not very interested in each other’s lives. We have lost the ability to empathize with each other, so I would like to be more interested in the things that are going on around the world and the lives of people I care about,” she said. INQ


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TAGS: Entertainment, Jung Ho-yeon

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