HoYeon Jung steals the hearts of many

HoYeon Jung poses at the premiere of “Squid Game”.

Photo courtesy of Vivian Killilea

HoYeon Jung poses at the premiere of “Squid Game”.

Daphne So, Features Editor

As of Oct. 18, I have 186 HoYeon Jung-related posts saved to an Instagram folder. 

You might be thinking: Are you crazy? She’s some random model who was in a Netflix show. What’s so great about her? 

I ask you this: What about Jung isn’t great?

The “Squid Game” actress and model has captured the hearts and minds of millions around the globe. Jung has gained 20.1 million followers on Instagram since Sept. 17. Hundreds of Jung fan accounts have been created on Instagram and Twitter, some amassing more than 35,000 followers. 

I am not alone when I say Jung is an absolute specimen. Her stunning beauty and joyful personality are all simp-worthy causes, as the kids say. For the boomers, a simp is someone who shows an excess of affection or adoration toward another person who doesn’t reciprocate their feelings. 

I mean, have you seen her on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon? Captivating, show-stopping, and wholesome are all words that come to mind.

Jung is a diamond in the rough. Before “Squid Game”, she was mostly known for placing as a runner-up during season four of Korea’s Next Top Model in 2013. But after her performance as North Korean defector Sae-byeok Kang, the whole world was alerted and enchanted by her charm. 

But what makes her so enthralling?

For one, Sae-byeok’s character tugs at your heartstrings. All of the “Squid Game” characters are in debt for various reasons, but Sae-byeok owes money because she’s trying to get her mother out of North Korea to join her and her younger brother in South Korea. Her brother has been left at an orphanage and is waiting for her to become financially stable so they can live together. 

Her goals for the money are family related, and viewers who have mothers and younger siblings can understand how heart-wrenching it is to be torn away from family. Of course Sae-byeok has no choice but to enter the games. Her motives are pure, especially compared to the other players.

In episode six, titled “Gganbu”, Sae-byeok talks to her partner, Ji-yeong, about what they want to do with the money if they win. Sae-byeok tells her about her family and says she wants to go to Jeju Island, part of South Korea. 

She’s almost childish in this aspect. It’s basically the equivalent of wanting to go to Disneyland as a California resident. This provides a stark contrast to her otherwise stoic behavior.

All of these qualities (and more!) contribute to why people like Sae-byeok’s character. She’s a strong, female lead who softens up to her partner.

Aside from this, we have no choice but to acknowledge the other elephant in the room.

Sae-byeok Kang is attractive. Nay, not just attractive, but beautiful. Her striking bone structure and sunken eye-bags make us viewers feel some type of way. Her quiet, calm nature makes her occasional smile that much more amazing. It’s like a shooting star: brilliant and rarely occurring. 

Jung has done a fantastic job playing her character. This is even more evident when looking at her Instagram (@hoooooyeony) and seeing the astonishing dissimilarity between the model-turned-actress and the character she plays.

And speaking of her Instagram, she’s amassed an average of 4.3 million likes and 10  thousand comments per post, according to followerstat.com as of Nov. 18. Her Adidas commercial on Youtube has more than 1.2 million views. 

It’s safe to say that she’s become an international sensation.

But what has made her so violently popular?

Jung is popular for the same reasons other celebrities are. She is beautiful and talented. One could compare her fanbase to a cult. Once indoctrinated, it is difficult to leave. 

She posts regularly on her Instagram, with behind-the-scenes photos of her modeling shoots and “Squid Game” post-filming group shots. People, me included, love seeing her soulful brown eyes and bright smile bless their feeds. 

This following is very similar to “stans”, or obsessive, overzealous fans of celebrities, according to Oxford Languages. Video edits and fancams, or videos made by fans that have focal points on an idol, have been made of her by such stans, usually put to music. 

In fact, almost half of the posts I have saved in my “HoYeon Jung appreciation” folder are such videos.

Additionally, the LGBTQ+ community has been raving over her performance and on-screen chemistry with co-actress Yoo-mi Lee. Many fans have headcanons, or personal story arcs, that the characters they play would have been lovers. 

Archive of Our Own, more commonly known as AO3, is a popular fanfiction website that has 251 stories under the Jiyoung/Kang Saebyeok tag alone. I would consider that a win for my fellow gays. 

Who among us wouldn’t want to indulge in reading some innocent fanfiction?

And the moment you’ve been waiting for: Why do I, Daphne So, like Jung so much?

I’ll tell you this. It’s not just because of the way her character looks like she could kill me in one blow, or how her hands are really attractive (although those are contributing factors). 

The real reason why I love Jung is because she makes me feel alive. I love to see her do things, literally anything. I would applaud her for waking up in the morning. I think she’s an absolute goddess. 

Am I idolizing her? Yes. Absolutely, 100 percent. I talk about her with everyone I meet. I say the words “HoYeon Jung” about 10 times a day. My friends will not stop asking me to shut up about Jung.

But have you ever been an obsessive fan over something? Whether it be sports, celebrities, books, or something else, everyone has a passion. 

It just so happens that mine is Louis Vuitton’s Global Ambassador.