Jung Ho Yeon Talks About Future Plans, Meeting Zendaya, Sweet Words From Boyfriend Lee Dong Hwi, And More

In a recent interview with STARNEWS, “Squid Game” star Jung Ho Yeon dished on her future plans, what it was like meeting Zendaya, reactions from her family and boyfriend Lee Dong Hwi, and more!

After appearing in the hit Netflix series “Squid Game,” Jung Ho Yeon has been busy promoting all over the globe, only recently making her way back into Korea. She commented, “I’ve returned after being in the United States for a month then going to Paris. As a new self-quarantine order was put in place, all of my plans up until the week before Christmas were cancelled. Because of the plans, my agency staff members and those who were working on filming are a bit stumped. But personally, I figure that this will become a time for me to catch my breath a bit.”

She revealed, “In the United States, I didn’t even have time to eat, so I lost so much weight. The clothes that fit me when I first went to the United States are now baggy. In only 10 days after the premiere of ‘Squid Game,’ I lost 4 kilograms (approximately 8.8 pounds) but I’ve lost even more. Once I got to the United States, I had such a busy schedule. So many things happened at once.”

As a model, Jung Ho Yeon is no stranger to traveling and working overseas. Now that she’s doing so as an actress, the star was asked what the biggest difference is. Jung Ho Yeon answered, “There were a lot of people who recognized [me]. When I went for shoots as a model, I went alone. I didn’t have a driver or manager. Now that I’m traveling as an actress, I have a manager, driver, and even a bodyguard. In the short time frame of a month, I felt that change. Since I always went overseas by myself, it’s natural for me to get off at the airport alone and find my way to the hotel. This time, a lot of people recognized me starting from the airport, which I was thankful for.”

She continued, “I thought it was fascinating, and I also thought, ‘I’ll have to pay a bit of attention to the gaze of others.’ When promoting as a model, I had a lot of personal time and space, but now that I’m an actress, I’ve come to have to share that time and space with others. Additionally, many of my foreign model friends and colleagues have congratulated me and shown interest in the Korean market. Although the time I’ve spent as an actress is short, and I’ve only done one project, it felt like my life as a model and my experience as an actress were fusing, so I was really thankful.”

In “Squid Game,” Jung Ho Yeon plays Sae Byeok, an extremely serious character with a permanently solemn expression. The interviewer however noted that Jung Ho Yeon in real life is always smiling. The actress explained, “One of the questions I’m asked the most overseas is, ‘How did you act as a character that is the complete opposite of your personality?’ At the time, I answered, ‘I believe that one person has many different sides to them.’ After I said that it’s hard to limit myself to this type of person or that type of person, I went home and asked myself this: ‘What kind of person am I?’ When I was acting as Sae Byeok in ‘Squid Game,’ I really thought that I was similar to her. When I go to different countries and silently do my work, I am similar to that image of Sae Byeok. Since I’ve experienced that time, I think I was able to act as Sae Byeok.”

Back in November, Jung Ho Yeon attended the 2021 Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards where she met actress Zendaya. Earlier this month, Zendaya also mentioned Jung Ho Yeon at the press conference for her film “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and shared that the two have a lot in common. When asked what the two talked about when they met, Jung Ho Yeon responded, “My meeting with Zendaya felt really comfortable. Zendaya is a star to me and someone I can’t approach. I shyly greeted her, but she approached me to chat and led the conversation. In that moment, I wondered whether it was real life or if I was dreaming. Zendaya invited me to the set of ‘Euphoria,’ so I went. It was the first time in a while that I had gone to a set after ‘Squid Game.’ As I’ve recently gone to a lot of events, there were a lot of situations that made me think, ‘What am I doing [here]?’ But when I went to the ‘Euphoria’ set, my heart felt so comfortable while I was just sitting there. I thought that I wanted to quickly return to set.”

She continued, “After watching Zendaya act, we had a chat when she finished. To be honest, it wasn’t about much. We talked about what we eat in our daily lives and on set. While we were talking, I thought, ‘There’s a reason why people like this person.’ When I was with her, I felt at ease. She has the strength to make others relax. I think that’s a really important skill. I think Zendaya felt the same way too. I think that we connected intuitively.”

As the actress mentioned her desire to return to set, Jung Ho Yeon was naturally asked about her next steps. Jung Ho Yeon commented, “I have a lot on my mind. In my life, there weren’t a lot of decisions I could make. When I was a model, I was being picked and chosen, and there was barely anything for me to decide. After having to be chosen, now that it’s time for me to choose, I developed a sense of fear and horror thinking, ‘Is it right for me to do this?’ I want to do well, and I don’t want to receive hate. I have personal goals, but I also have a lot of worries. I also felt like I had become a fool who can’t decide on anything.”

Jung Ho Yeon added, “That’s why I asked around a lot. I asked my seniors, director, and even the director of the production company. That’s how I came to my conclusion. Rather than a conclusion, I decided to be courageous.” With a laugh, she continued, “My agency might not like if I say something like this. I decided on this. ‘In the future, I will star in about five projects that fail!'”

She explained, “If I’m moved while reading a script, I believe that I’ll also be able to move the hearts of those who have similar interests as me. That’s why right now, I’m thinking, ‘Let’s try.’ Rather than make a safe choice because of the thought that I have to succeed, I’m gaining courage by organizing my thoughts to think, ‘Even if I fail, let’s fail grandly.’ When I first said I was going to model and when I first started acting, I did it as someone who takes action without thinking twice. The field of art has no right answers and is vast. Ultimately, I think following my intuition is best. I follow my intuition, and if that turns out to be wrong, I want to have the courage to accept that. If I keep experiencing like that, I figure that my life as an actress will continue adding up. I’ve decided to think that I’m an actress that’s just getting started.”

Although it will be difficult for Sae Byeok to return for a second season of “Squid Game,” the interviewer asked whether she has been asked to work on other projects with director Hwang Dong Hyuk or co-star Lee Jung Jae, who has recently ventured into directing. Laughing, Jung Ho Yeon responded, “No comment. I don’t think it’ll happen right now, but I don’t know what will happen in the future.”

Jung Ho Yeon spoke more about her experience working in different countries as she shared, “Something I felt while overseas is that I’m part of a lucky generation. I’ve received the benefits of what my seniors have already achieved. Many Asian actors have expanded the market, and actors like Bae Doona and Lee Byung Hun have personally made connections with direct experience. Through their experiences, I’ve received help. That’s why through my promotions, I obviously want to achieve my personal goals, but I also wanted to better understand the system for those who come after me. This time also, I asked a lot of questions to and received a lot of help from Kang Dong Won, Bae Doona, and Lee Byung Hun.”

When asked about her parents’ reaction to their daughter becoming a worldwide star overnight, Jung Ho Yeon shared with a laugh, “My parents are worried. They tell me that I’m incredible and that they’re proud, but they’re still worried. All my family members have a lot of fear. I also didn’t know that I’d get [successful] to this extent. They all tell me to be careful and contact me out of worry. If my mom has a bad dream, she’ll always contact me and ask if anything’s wrong. I’m always thankful. I’m learning with an open heart through many different methods.”

The actress was also asked what comments her boyfriend Lee Dong Hwi had for her. Jung Ho Yeon replied, “Hmm, what did Oppa say to me? When I’m overseas, he says, ‘Just return safely. Return healthy.’ He said, ‘Everything else doesn’t have to work out and doesn’t matter, so just return healthy and safe.’ That made me tear up. Because everyone anticipates something from me, I have to make something happen, and I have to achieve something. Since there’s that expectation, I was just focusing on that. But Oppa just said that it’s okay if nothing works out and just to be healthy.”

When the interviewer mentioned that Jung Ho Yeon’s name is now ahead of Lee Dong Hwi’s in headlines because she’s a world star, she giggled then confidently responded, “That order is not important. Also, I think Oppa is really successful these days!”

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