Squid Recreation ’s Jung Ho-yeon on the Scene That Shook Her to Her Core

Jung Ho-yeon in Squid Recreation Credit score – Courtesy Netflix

If Jung Ho-yeon have been to enter Squid Recreation as a contestant, the dalgona problem—during which one should carve out a form engraved onto a brittle disc of honeycomb utilizing solely a needle—can be the place she’d meet her finish. Only for enjoyable, Netflix Korea had given her one such deal with etched with the platform’s emblem, a big “N.” As within the Korean thriller sequence, Jung’s job was to extract the design with out cracking it. “I failed. Two instances,” Jung laughs as she holds out two fingers emphatically. “I assumed that it’s straightforward nevertheless it wasn’t in any respect.” Within the third episode of Squid Recreation, Jung’s character Kang Sae-byeok receives an identical sweet, albeit with a much less daunting form, a triangle. However not like Jung, neither Sae-byeok nor any of the 456 gamers who entered the competitors for an opportunity at 45.6 billion received (roughly $38 million) get a second alternative on the video games. If you happen to fail in your first attempt, you die.

Squid Recreation, which premiered on Sept. 17, is on monitor to develop into Netflix’s most watched present of all time, based on the corporate. Netflix says the nine-episode drama reached no. 1 in 90 nations inside 10 days, with 95% of viewership originating from outdoors of South Korea, the place the sequence was filmed and takes place. Written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the present follows cash-strapped contestants as they battle in lethal matches tailored from well-liked Korean youngsters’s video games. In intentionally jarring juxtapositions, the drama options loads of gore and violence in opposition to brightly coloured playground-inspired backdrops and eerily upbeat music. The story facilities on Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a divorced father and playing addict focused by mortgage sharks who, after becoming a member of the sport, meets lots of of others who’ve additionally hit all-time low.

One in all them is Sae-byeok, a North Korean defector who viewers quickly study is pushed by the purpose of successful the prize cash to satisfy a heartfelt promise she made to her youthful brother. However you wouldn’t know this simply by taking a look at her steely exterior. After we first meet Sae-byeok, her gaze is chilly and she or he barely utters a phrase. Solely as time passes does it develop into clear that she yearns for human companionship and is prepared to danger her life for an opportunity at reuniting her household.

Contestants in one challenge of Netflix's Squid Game<span class="copyright">Courtesy Netflix</span>

Contestants in a single problem of Netflix’s Squid RecreationCourtesy Netflix

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Jung has seen her star rise immediately due to her nuanced efficiency of Sae-byeok. Because the sequence debuted, her Instagram following has grown from simply over 400,000 to greater than 15 million. Squid Recreation marks the appearing debut for the 27-year-old mannequin, who beforehand competed in Korea’s Subsequent High Mannequin in 2013, the place she positioned second. Since then, Jung has walked in a number of worldwide vogue reveals and commonly traveled overseas for model campaigns. She signed with Saram Leisure in January 2020 to pursue her ambitions as an actor and, the very subsequent month, auditioned for the position of Sae-byeok.

Over Zoom and partially through a translator, Jung talked to TIME about being solid for Squid Recreation, regarding Sae-byeok’s sense of loneliness and the way she envisions the way forward for her appearing profession.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability and comprises gentle spoilers.

TIME: What was the audition course of like and the way have been you solid for the position?

Jung: I used to be modeling in New York Metropolis [for New York Fashion Week in 2020] and this was the primary audition script that I acquired after transferring to the appearing company. It had been lower than a month since I had began working with them. I keep in mind feeling very nervous however I needed to arrange for it as a lot as doable, so I filmed my audition video for 3 complete days aside from the time once I was consuming.

Even after I met the director, I didn’t actually assume that I’d develop into a part of the undertaking, however he reached out to me and I used to be very stunned. Again then, slightly than feeling completely happy, I felt anxious and scared that this was steadily turning into a actuality.

What was your response while you learn the script for the primary time?

I learn it multi function sitting. I began studying the script most likely round 9, 10 P.M., and it was fairly prolonged however I managed to learn all of it till very late within the evening. I laughed loads and cried loads. So I felt excited concerning the undertaking however on the similar time I used to be anxious whether or not I may pull it off, and because the script was so enthralling, I learn it wishing that I’d not overwhelm on the undertaking however have one thing to convey to the desk.

What was it that made you cry?

The scene that made me cry was when Ji-yeong (Lee Yoo-mi) and Sae-byeok have been speaking to one another. I felt that the traces themselves have been very properly written by the director, and I noticed this interview the place he mentioned that he envisioned this scene to be one with two people who find themselves essentially the most harmless out of all of the contestants.

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Sure, I watched episode 6 [where the scene takes place] whereas on a aircraft and cried off all my make-up.

Identical. Once I learn the script I used to be sobbing [imitates loud sobbing]. It was one of many huge excitements for me to satisfy Ji-yeong in individual. As a result of at the moment I needed to think about Ji-yeong from the script, however once I met [Lee] on the desk studying, I simply felt that she’s the one.

Lee Yoo-mi, left, as Ji-yeong and Jung Ho-yeon, right, as Kang Sae-byeok in Squid Game<span class="copyright">Courtesy Netflix</span>

Lee Yoo-mi, left, as Ji-yeong and Jung Ho-yeon, proper, as Kang Sae-byeok in Squid RecreationCourtesy Netflix

In what methods are you much like your character? In what methods are you totally different?

I believe that Sae-byeok and I are related in that we now have expertise residing someplace removed from dwelling, which implies that even while you really feel very completely happy or unhappy, you possibly can’t share these feelings with family and friends however must hold it to your self. I skilled this loneliness once I was modeling abroad so on this regard I may actually relate to her. I at all times traveled on my own on the airplane, stayed at inns on my own. Regardless that I received some huge marketing campaign, I couldn’t rejoice with another person. I simply stayed on the resort, had a glass of wine and congratulated myself. That sort of loneliness makes me stronger, and I can really feel [Saebyeok’s] power got here from that loneliness.

And what was totally different was, I believe I used to be an individual that lived a life comparatively centered on my private pursuits, whereas Sae-byeok places different folks earlier than herself to the purpose the place she’s prepared to sacrifice her life for her household. So it was somewhat tough to narrate to her on this side at first, however after taking part in the position of Sae-byeok I believe I got here to view the which means of family and friends somewhat in a different way.

Director Hwang has mentioned that he needed to write down a narrative that was “an allegory or fable about fashionable capitalist society.” Why do you assume the theme of capitalism within the present has resonated extensively, each in Korea and past?

It’s most likely as a result of financial inequality is widening and we’re beginning to have doubts concerning the capitalist system. Particularly [with] COVID, it’s turning into increasingly more tough to stay in a capitalist society. However I believe the explanation why this present is so well-liked is as a result of it doesn’t criticize capitalism in a grim method however provides a twist to it with a witty contact, with the visuals and all the pieces. I believe for this reason persons are resonating with it a lot.

You made your appearing debut with Squid Recreation. What was essentially the most tough half within the filming course of?

It was my first time appearing and we began filming once I had not but overcome my anxiousness and nervousness. Due to all of the strain, I saved forgetting to breathe. So I attempted to give attention to respiratory to shake all of the anxiousness off with a purpose to, perhaps not convey out my finest efficiency however at the very least attempt my finest in each scene. It’s very onerous to call one factor that was essentially the most tough however I believe it must be respiratory.

When did your curiosity in appearing begin? What made you signal with the appearing company in 2020?

Appearing is one thing I had been occupied with on a regular basis, although not severely. As I began modeling abroad, I began to get lots of alone time which I spent watching movies or studying books. I believe this steadily made me need to specific myself onscreen as properly. Every time I used to be alone whereas modeling abroad, I’d at all times take into consideration who I used to be and what it meant to be a human being and I personally assume that is what ultimately triggered my want to behave, and introduced me to signal with my appearing company.

Jung Ho-yeon, left, as Kang Sae-byeok and Park Si-Wan, right, as Kang Sae-byeok's brother Kang Cheol in Squid Game<span class="copyright">Courtesy Netflix</span>

Jung Ho-yeon, left, as Kang Sae-byeok and Park Si-Wan, proper, as Kang Sae-byeok’s brother Kang Cheol in Squid RecreationCourtesy Netflix

What has it been wish to expertise this new degree of fame from Squid Recreation? Are there adjustments to your every day life?

Initially, I discover all the pieces very astonishing. The astonishment that issues can change a lot over such a brief span of time. And I additionally really feel grateful that so many individuals worldwide love Sae-byeok as a lot as I really like her. And what has modified? I believe it must be that not solely me, but additionally my Instagram mates, have skilled a rise of their followers. They might name me to say that their follower depend jumped this a lot. They really feel completely happy about that and them saying that it’s all due to me makes me completely happy and grateful that we’re sharing this second collectively.

Going ahead, how are you planning to divide your time between appearing and modeling initiatives?

In the mean time, I don’t precisely have plans. We’re receiving a lot love and help and there are various affords however I simply want that I’d have the ability to work with individuals who I belief and really feel comfy round. I at all times attempt to take it one step at a time and I’m not the sort of individual that works towards a giant purpose. So my plan in the meanwhile is to course of what’s happening and to do my finest each step of the way in which. With time, I consider, a day would come when folks have their very own definitions of Jung Ho-yeon as an actor. Perhaps two years later, folks can outline me as this sort of individual, that sort of actor, that sort of mannequin. I’m very open to being outlined.

—with reporting by Aria Chen

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