After midnight, Hoyeon Jung still receives text messages from friends, family and contacts from many agencies. She is surprisingly independent and answers all questions herself. “I’ve been working for so long,” she said, one phone in hand, the other in her lap. I’m used to lugging around from castings to fittings, to going on sets. My schedule is just crazy unnie”. Unnie is a sweet little Korean word meaning “big sister”.
On the radio, Aeri puts the jazz station that Hoyeon Jung worshiped during his New York period. Barefoot, the actress sits comfortably cross-legged near the bed. We sip our wine and talk about her plans for the future (after signing with the CAA agency, she plans to move to Los Angeles), the upcoming awards season (Squid Game finally got a Golden Globe nomination in December) and the likelihood that Sae-byeok returns in the second season of Squid Game, which is in the pre-production phase. “I keep telling them to do as in Penthouse”Hoyeon jokes, referring to this popular Korean soap opera, where deceased characters come back to life on a regular basis.
“I want to dye my hair like in Eternal Sunshine, she says. But more crazy. Purple? It’s my favorite color. You can write it: please give me a character who dyes his hair purple. ”
There is a Korean word, yeol-shim, which means something like diligence, zeal, diligence. To work yeol-shim-hiis to work diligently, thoroughly. As is often the case with Korean, the translation is approximate. Yeol comes from the character which designates fire, heat, that which is burning. Shim comes from the heart, from the soul, from the inner self. So, in Korean, to work hard rather means to work with a burning heart, a fiery soul. It may sound a little elated, but in Korea, it’s the time-honored expression. Earlier in the evening she said to me: “I just want to live yeol-shim-hi.”
If there is one word I would choose to describe Hoyeon, it’s this one, yeol-shim. She ideally embodies that trait that Koreans are so proud of. Work hard, put all your heart and all your soul into everything you do, until you feel like you’re going to explode.