Jeon Yeo-been has been making a name for herself in numerous K-dramas. More recently, she’s appeared in the Netflix series Glitch where she plays Hong Ji-Hyo, a woman in search of her boyfriend who’s been abducted (here’s hoping he wasn’t probed). Here’s what you need to know about the Korean actress.
Jeon Yeo-been surpassed her fresh-face reputation in the Korean entertainment industry in the blink of an eye. In part, this is due to her impressive portfolio, which includes her portrayal of a high-flying lawyer in the action-packed K-drama Vincenzo as well as a terminally-ill yet fierce girl boss in the impactful crime-thriller Night In Paradise.
Currently, she’s in the headlines for playing an ordinary 30-year-old office worker who deals with the extraordinary possibility of her partner being abducted by aliens. As accolades pour in for Glitch, here’s a look at the star’s career and how she cemented her place amongst the creme-de-la-creme of the acting world.
Jeon Yeo-been stepped foot in the acting industry in her late 20s
Born July 26, 1989 in Gangwon-do, South Korea – Jeon Yeo-been grew up watching Hong Kong noir films, known for their cynical heroes and intriguing plots. In particular, she’s been a devoted fan of the works of director Wong Kar-wai. In an interview with Korea Times, she was quoted saying, “As a kid, I often imagined myself playing the lead role in such movies, performing gunfights and sacrificing myself for the sake of friendship.”
She went on to take acting lessons when she studied Broadcast Entertainment at Dongduk Women’s University. After dabbling in several gigs while studying, including featuring in the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival – she was spotted by director Moon So-ri. In 2015, he offered her an appearance in the short film The Best Director. Later that year, she landed her first minor role in the period feature The Treacherous. At this point, Jeon was 26 – making her debut relatively later than most of her peers. The actress has shared in the past that she’d made a promise to herself that if she couldn’t make a living in the industry by age 30, she’d quit.
The wild success of her projects, however, had other plans in store. “When I look back at the time when I was 21, a college student who aspired to become an actor but lacked opportunities, I feel extremely lucky that I now have a workplace to go to every day and be able to pursue what I had dreamed of,” she noted in the interview.
She’s explored a range of movies and shows, indie to commercial
After her film debut, Jeon played the role of an undercover journalist in the thriller Save Me (2017) – her first television series. In 2018 – she signed with the popular J. Wide Company – which also manages stars like Bae Jong Ok, Daniel Choi, Cheon Ho Jin, Choi Ye Bin, and Chu Young Woo. Her first critically-acclaimed role was in After My Death – which saw her being a high school student struggling to cope with the loss of her friend who’d lost their life to suicide. This continues to be her most memorable character.
“I think Young-hee of After My Death was a real turning point for me as an actor. It opened doors to so many great opportunities,” she shared with Korea Times. Variety is the name of the game for the actress who explored indie films before moving to commercial roles. In the latter category, it was her role as Jae-Yeon in Night In Paradise that really stood out. “When I first started reading the script, Jae-yeon’s character seemed less attractive. But in the final scene, I realized that she would be a rare character in Korean action noir,” Jeon noted, adding that she didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to play a fierce woman who didn’t rely on a man to get things done – a rarity in action flicks. The series involved her learning how to use a gun.
That said, the 2021 wildly-successful crime thriller Vincenzo thrust her back into the spotlight – this time for much longer. Starring seasoned K-drama actor Song Joong-ki, it looked into the life of an Italian mafia lawyer who returns to his homeland on an unfinished business, only to end up battling the legal system alongside Jeon’s fiesty lawyer character Hong Cha-young. In an interview with Netflix for the promotions of the show she stated that she’s motivated by the love of the people around her. She further noted that she had mixed feelings during the shoots – which involved harsh conditions and challenging performances – and continues to stay in touch with her co-stars.
She has several awards to her name
Considering her impressive acting portfolio, it’s no surprise that Jeon Yeo-been has a string of nominations and awards to her name. Her performance in After My Death won her several nominations, the Grand Bell Award for Best New Actress, the Actress of the Year award at the Busan International Film Festival, and the Independent Star Award at the Seoul Independent Film Festival. Night In Paradise, meanwhile, was the only Korean movie to be invited to the 77th Venice International Film Festival. Her role in Be Melodramatic earned her a nomination for the Best New Actress award at Baeksang Arts Awards. Her role in Vincenzo, meanwhile won her the Best Artist award at the sixth Asia Artist Awards and nominations at the Brand of the Year Awards for Actress of the Year and Top Excellence Korean Actress at the Seoul International Drama Awards.
Most recently, the star signed with management mmm. You can get a glimpse of her acting prowess in the action-comedy Glitch – directed by Roh Deok. The series explores the belief that things in this world might be beyond our knowledge and is an absolute hit.
(Hero and featured image credit: Han Myung-Gu / Contributor/Getty Images & Jeon Yeo-been; other images: @jeon.yeobeen/ Instagram)