Jung Ryeowon is one of the most successful first-generation female idols in the 2000s. Twenty years later now, she has been firmly established as an actor beyond imagination as once an idol. Jung Ryeowon made her debut in the entertainment industry in 2000 with the girl group ‘Chakra’. While working as an idol, she showed her affection for acting by appearing in movies such as Emergency Measure 19 (2002) and sitcoms. In 2005, the TV dramas Hello, Francesca and My Name is Kim SamSun, which appeared after leaving Chakra in 2004, gained explosive popularity, and Ryeowon caused a sensation. As a rising star, every move she made attracted public attention. Through her first film Two Faces of My Girlfriend (2007), a romantic comedy she starred in, the actor won the Blue Dragon Film Awards for Best New Actress, showing her potential. In particular, she played a character with multi-personality disorder and won high praise for showing off her charm in an innocent and cheerful way.
Jung Ryeowon’s representative work that comes to our mind immediately is Castaway on the Moon (2009), where a woman who lived as a reclusive loner opens her mind to the world out of a narrow, dark room in 3 years. In Pain (2011), she appeared as Donghyun, who should never get a small wound because she can’t stop bleeding, and fell in love with Namsoon (Kwon Sangwoo), who had a numb body. In addition, in Never Ending Story (2012), Jung played Songkyung, a terminally ill patient who prepares for her funeral, spending the rest of her life in love with a man in the same situation.
She mainly played characters with fantastic aspects in cartoons rather than in real life, but surprisingly, thanks to her lovely energy and appeal, the characters she played seemed to be plausible. Even the erratic behaviors or playful lines of the characters didn’t seem awkward at all but suited her well like her own style. Moreover, the weak female character she created is not satisfied with causing protective instinct in men. In other words, she created unique characters who are feminine, delicate, and weighty, which we had never seen before. Unlike the passive female characters in Korean melodramas, Jung Ryeowon was willing to find a way to act independently, breaking away from her limitations and bondage. Her characters grew up in rough life, found rest in their hearts, and freed themselves eventually.
Out of melodramas for a while, Jung appeared in the comic crime film Gate (2018), where she burgled a safe when she was threatened with private loan debt, but through TV series, the actor marked her second heyday. Jung Ryeowon showed her true value as Ma Yideum in Witch at Court (2017) and Cha Myeongjoo in Diary of the Prosecutor (2019). Since she was already adapted to and warmed up herself for professional acting in the medical series Medical Top Team in 2013, Jung could expand her acting range with confidence and strength while playing the roles of prosecutors in the two dramas. She has demonstrated that she can fully show her capabilities out of a romantic melodrama series, playing the role of a female prosecutor successfully, which is not common in Korean TV series. Jeon Jonghyuk