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‘Squid Game’ star Jung Hoyeon admits being ‘extremely nervous’ after she was cast as Saebyeok

By Hannah Mallorca Published Oct 12, 2021 12:06 pm

Squid Game has catapulted model-turned-actress Jung Hoyeon into superstardom. Even so, she admitted feeling a “rush of pressure and fear” when she was cast as Saebyeok.

Hoyeon made her acting debut as Saebyeok (Player 067), a North Korean defector who’s desperate to provide a better life for her brother. According to the series, they were the only family members to survive after their escape.

In an interview with Herald POP translated via Soompi, Hoyeon admitted that she was “extremely nervous” when she got the role. Despite her experience as a model, she felt a “rush of pressure and fear” even during filming. 

“I wanted to feel certain about why (director Hwang Donghyuk) chose me. He said to me, ‘I picked you because you’re already perfect as Saebyeok.’ That one phrase made me think that even if I’m not that great at acting, it would be problematic if I’m not able to do what I normally can do because of my nervousness and uneasiness,” she added.

Hoyeon said she poured “all of my energy” when she auditioned for the role. At that time, she was working in New York for Fashion Week. “I did my best for about three days. I didn’t even know how to approach acting, so I kept pondering over why Saebyeok said what she said,” she said.

She also added: “After some time, I felt like I had gotten closer to Saebyeok. I had forgotten about the video after I sent it over, but they suddenly told me they wanted to see me in person, so I quickly flew to Korea.”

The model-turned-actress revealed that she also kept a diary to “understand and portray” Saebyeok effectively. “I focused on studying Saebyeok’s inner thoughts. She’s an interesting person in that she lives for the sake of others, rather than herself.”

“Then, I experienced actions coming out of me even when I wasn’t thinking about it, which made me feel like I had grown closer to Saebyeok, and that was cool. I figured that’s what it felt like to live as a character. Because I’m lacking, what I focused on most was being sincere,” she said.

To overcome her nerves, Hoyeon shared that she “spoke a lot” to her Squid Game castmates and opened up about her uneasiness to the director. 

“I was able to overcome it. I also spoke to my seniors a lot while filming. From a certain point on, I didn’t feel uneasy, and I could focus and do my best,” she said.

Since Hoyeon’s appearance on the trending K-drama, she has gained a whopping 9.6 million followers on Instagram

Squid Game tells the story of a mysterious survival game where 456 desperate participants compete for the handsome prize of ₩45.6 billion won (approximately P1.9 billion)—only to discover their lives are placed on the line.