Jung Ho-yeon Explains Her Favorite Squid Game Scene

As part of their ‘My Favorite Scene!’ series, IndieWire asked Jung Ho-yeon what her favorite scene of Squid Game was. The Emmy-nominated actress said it was the scene where her character, Sae-byeok, visits her younger brother Cheol (Si-wan Park) and their family escaped from North Korea, but she needs money to bring them back into the country.

“Oh, because it was my first day of shooting and I remember I was so, so nervous. But [the actor playing] my younger brother and I sat there on that bench, and before we started shooting we were talking: “What do you like?” And sharing nothing, but it was something. It was a summer like this. It was hot, and I remember the air of that day. And I didn’t know why I felt terrible that I did bad acting that day.”

However, after they finished filming that day, director Hwang Dong-hyuk gave Jung a thumbs up, which he also did after they shot the stepping glass scene in episode eight. According to Jung, she felt a lot of pressure while filming the brother scene. She had prepared the intonation, the North Korean accent, and the emotions with the brother. During some of the scene, she cried, but it wasn’t while they were shooting her side.

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“It was [while] shooting the boy’s side. I cried at some of the scene because it was quite a sad moment for my character, that you have to lie to your brother to keep him encouraged. And that was the first day of the shooting, so that meant I had to get rid of pressure as soon as possible, and do the right accent, have that emotion. Be professional on the first day of shooting. So that’s why I remember a lot of that scene.”

Jung received all the scripts for her character beforehand. She said that knowing where her character would go did help when shooting the brother scene. Before she started, Jung didn’t have any plan for her character. Hwang had the plan, and the way she saw it, it was her job to be open and flexible with what he said. Or the other actors, since she didn’t have much acting experience.

“This is my first time acting, no one expects me to be 100% perfect. I’m gonna ask for help from all the crew, the director, executive producers, and actors. And I did ask for a lot of help [from] people. And it was actually a very nice experience for me because I used to be working only as a model, and that was more [about] being independent, making my own career, my own plan. But acting on the set for Squid Game, it was total [collaboration].”

Working With Hwang Dong-hyuk

According to Jung, she doesn’t think that Hwang is a very “one way or the other”-style director. He’s a director who has a specific vision of the scene and shots, but at the same time, he does open up some parts to the actors. While he knows what he’s going to shoot, Hwang doesn’t believe in himself entirely. So “there’s 5% that opens up for magic to happen.”

“So that part is on us to just believe in him, and then we just do it. And sometimes I make a mistake that seems to make sense, and could be even better than what we originally planned. So it was quite interesting. And I thought that it’s quite genius. For me, as a person who just started acting, if the director didn’t give me any kind of direction, and just let me do it, it could be fun, but the result could be like, ‘What is that?!’ With director Hwang being such an experienced director, and JJ Lee, and all the seasoned actors on set, I got so much support.”

Going back to Jung’s feeling of independence while working as a model, she was asked if the way Hwang works also made her feel that way. Jung replied by saying that wasn’t a consideration for working with Hwang. It was more because, at the audition, she did her own acting style, and Hwang liked it.

“That’s why he chose me, I guess, the way I express Sae-byeok. At that moment, I couldn’t understand why I got [cast], but then he told me, ‘I chose you because you were already Sae-byeok,’ and ‘You are enough.’ That was the time our belief in each other [was] complete, so no matter what happens, we can work it out.”

When asked if she sees Sae-byeok returning for season 2 in some capacity, Jung said that she doesn’t have any kind of wish for her character. According to her, “Squid Game is the world of director Hwang, so I don’t want to wish for something to happen. If director Hwang in his world, he’s gonna move [her] around, I think I’m gonna let it flow.” Plus, she doesn’t have a big plan for her life these days beyond keeping herself surrounded by her people and living day by day.