‘Squid Game’ Star Jung Ho-yeon Talks Dying Onscreen for the First Time: ‘I Just Let It Go’

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Photo Source: Noh Juhan/Netflix

For Jung Ho-yeon, Netflix’s massive South Korean hit “Squid Game” was one long list of firsts. After years as an internationally renowned model, Jung made the leap to acting and almost immediately landed her first audition. That opportunity turned out to be “Squid Game,” the bloody, dystopian survival series that afforded her the chance to play her first onscreen character, North Korean defector Kang Sae-byeok. Because of Sae-byeok’s unfortunate fate at the end of Season 1, Jung also got to experience something actors at any step of their journey often find daunting: her very first death scene.  

Jung approached the intimidating task as both a learning experience and chance for catharsis. “A dying scene—as an actor, it’s one of the most interesting and happiest scenes, I think,” Jung told Backstage during an Instagram Live interview

The actor noted how at peace she felt as she prepared for her character’s final moments, which doubled as her production wrap. “Personally—it’s weird to say, I know—but I was so comfortable on my way to set for that scene,” Jung explained, “because it was the end of my shooting schedule, so [I felt I was at my closest] with Sae-byeok.” 

At that point, acting out her character’s grisly demise was a matter of letting go of everything she had learned about Sae-byeok. Jung said that it felt like a way for her to say goodbye. 

“I felt quite free to be prepared,” she said. “I always wrote down [notes]. Even after I finished the scene, I was always organizing things that I realized on the set, what I felt. [Going] to the set for the dying scene, I kind of read through [all of my] notes, my whole book for ‘Squid Game,’ and that was in me.”

And when she actually got there? “I just let it go, and that was it,” she said.

Watch the full interview below. 

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