Jo Yeo-jung is an actress who fades in and out of public consciousness. While she had a leading role in the 2010 film "The Concubine" and the 2012 drama "Haeundae Lovers", for the most part she has built her reputation off of high profile secondary roles. This year, those roles have been the Palme d'Or winning film "Parasite" and the social consciousness oriented jTBC drama "Beautiful World".
Jo Yeo-jung has said when she first saw the script for "Parasite" she realized the role of Yeon-gyo was excellently underspoken. In the script's backstory, that does not come up in the film proper, Jo Yeo-jung's character got married at the age of twenty-two. This allowed for much subtlety in the range of Jo Yeo-jung's performance of a lifelong wealthy housewife.
Jo Yeo-jung describes the role as being that of a doting mother who has perfectly decorated her children's lives. But since Yeon-gyo herself is not really an adult, her ability to accurately gauge what's best for her family is limited. This is why she falls victim to the grifting poor family, setting off the movie's conflict. However, the extent to which Yeon-gyo's actions can really be called wrong is ambiguous, since her actions do sincerely bring happiness to her own family, which is what she cares about.
Jo Yeo-jung said that the character's speaking style is neither quick nor confident, and that even in sad or severe moments she always has a light comic touch. She doesn't show much variation. So when Park So-dam's character, Gi-jeong, calls Yeon-gyo mistress of the inside, it's not a compliment.
Jo Yeo-jung's character in "Beautiful World" was very much the opposite of this. Jo Yeo-jung has described Eun-joo as being much more furtive and complex, struggling as she does with hiding herself as well as the crimes she has committed. Eun-joo has a much more traditional arc compared to the fairly static Yeon-gyo, as she must come to grips with acknowledging personal failure and thus showing agency in the drama's climactic moments.
Written by William Schwartz
"Beautiful World" is directed by Park Chan-hong, written by Kim Jee-woo, and features Choo Ja-hyun, Park Hee-soon, Oh Man-seok, Jo Yeo-jung, Nam Da-reum, Kim Hwan-hee. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2019/04/05~2019/05/25, Fri, Sat 23:00 on jTBC.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's News] Jo Yeo-jung Talks About her Work in "Parasite" and "Beautiful World""
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