South Korea-based Pinay actress Noreen Joyce Guerra has always been on the radar of hardcore K-drama fans. However, it wasn’t until Netflix’s All of Us Are Dead that she gained widespread attention among her kababayans.
The actress piqued the internet’s curiosity when a post of her wearing a backpack up front—or in a “Pinoy” way—in the fictional Hyosan High School spread on social media. It was a lighthearted post turned fact when it was confirmed that the actress was Filipino.
Joyce revealed that she appeared in over 80 Korean series including All of Us Are Dead, True Beauty, and Hospital Playlist, among others.
As curious fans have uncovered more of her identity, here are some interesting facts we’ve discovered about the 30-year-old actress.
Joyce has been living in South Korea for six years
Joyce has been living in South Korea since 2015, where she pursued a master’s degree in Business Administration at Sookmyung Women’s University. She also worked as a part-time translator and assistant stage director in a production company.
When she’s not sharing the spotlight with our oppas and unnies, she works as a manager in a financial company.
“I do filming during weekends normally and during the holidays. I mostly do background acting, so it’s like a minimal role in a K-drama,” Joyce told The Korea Times in September 2021.
Joyce was discovered by a Korean manager when she was still in the PH
Contrary to popular belief, Joyce was actually discovered for her “small face” when she was still living in the Philippines. She was working as a volunteer in the Korean Cultural Center when she met one of the managers of the K-pop boy group N.O.M. (Nature of Man). The manager then shared his connections in the entertainment industry once she landed in Seoul.
Despite working alongside Koreans, it was Dream High starring Bae Suzy, Kim Soohyun, and Ok Taecyeon that made her fall in love with Korean culture.
“Sinabihan ako ng mga producers tsaka directors kung gusto ko daw bang mag-on-cam kasi nga lagi akong off-cam. Tsaka pwede daw akong mag-on-cam kasi maliit daw ang mukha ko,” Joyce told GMA’s iJuander.
Having a “small face” is one of South Korea’s beauty standards as it is considered to make women look “innocent,” as per The Vou.
Joyce’s first K-drama appearance was in The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Of course, Joyce is no stranger to rejection. She initially tried to audition for foreign roles in Korean production companies but failed. Ironically, it was trying out for agencies that handle Korean talents that led to her getting accepted.
“I tried to submit ‘yung profile ko naman sa mga Korean agencies that handle Korean talents,” Joyce told iJuander. “So ayun, doon ako nakuha actually. Kaya ‘yun ‘yung reason kung bakit ang mga roles ko sa mga K-drama is Korean.”
The Pinay finally earned the opportunity of a lifetime when she was accepted as one of the background actors of the melodrama The Smile Has Left Your Eyes starring Seo Inguk.
Meanwhile, Joyce considers the older woman-younger man series The Encounter as a “dream come true.” The K-drama has gained the attention of local and international fans for its stellar cast including Song Hyekyo and Park Bogum.
“Noong bata pa ako, I have always been a fan of Song Hyekyo. It was my first time seeing her,” she shared in one of her vlogs.
The actress even got to have an actual conversation with Bogum. “Doon sa scene ng nasa bookstore [sina Hyekyo and Bogum], nandoon ako sa likod niya. While on break, ayun. Chika-chika. I mean, he was the first actor na naki-chika talaga sa amin. Tapos tinanong pa niya kami, kasi it was like 2 or 3 a.m., kung paano kami uuwi, saan kami nakatira, at kung pagod na ba kami.”
Joyce starred in 85 K-dramas
Since starring in All of Us Are Dead, Joyce has appeared in 85 K-dramas. Some of her most notable series include True Beauty, Hospital Playlist, Record of Youth, Arthdal Chronicles, Hi Bye! Mama, Extraordinary You, and You Are My Spring, among others.
She even appeared in commercials, films, variety shows, and a C-drama called Reset Life starring Chinese heartthrob Darren Wang.
To recall, Joyce was spotted in the first episode of the zombie series where she was running to Hyosan High School with her fellow students. She was also spotted in the scene where Gwinam (Yoo Insoo) was scribbling degrading remarks on Eunji’s (Oh Hyesoo) school uniform.
The Pinay said she didn't have a hard time shooting All of Us Are Dead, which was filmed two years prior to its premiere, even if it was done during the pandemic.
“Everything that we did was worth it. Wearing a high school uniform after 10 years, the experience was very new to me. As the only Filipina in the set, I was [initially] very nervous at that time,” Joyce added.
Joyce added that she’s often cast as a student because Korean entertainment agencies said she looks “young” for her age.
‘I want to go back to the Philippines if I have the chance’
Despite starring in over 80 K-dramas, Joyce told The Korea Times that she’s working on her Korean. “There are times when I don't understand the words. The most difficult part is pronunciation. I can converse in Korean but I am not yet that fluent.”
Joyce also admitted that she wants to do work both in Korea and the Philippines because she wants to be the "bridge" between both countries.
"I want to go back to the Philippines if I have the chance. Even before, my goal was actually to make my parents proud, and I'm trying very hard to do that until now."