Cho Yeo-jeong (조여정)
Before her breakout movie The Servant (2010), Cho Yeo-jeong could easily have been dismissed as just a "pretty face" in the throng of South Korean actors and models. And before The Concubine (2012), she could have been labeled as just another sexy actor. But this is far from the truth, as she is an artist never afraid to explore women’s often-overlooked experiences, which happen to be related to women’s sexuality.
Photo from HanCinema
Birthday: February 10, 1981
In 1997, at 16 years old, Cho Yeo-jeong debuted on the cover of CeCi magazine, however, she languished in limited roles in TV shows, ads, and music videos. This changed in 2010 when she portrayed a low-born woman caught in a love triangle in The Servant, an erotic historical film previously turned down by many actors for its numerous sex scenes. Nominated for acting awards in the Baeksang, Grand Bell, and Blue Dragon Film Awards, she started to differentiate herself from her contemporaries.
She went on to star in two more R-rated dramatic period movies helmed by the same director, Kim Dae-woo. As a Joseon king’s concubine in love with a servant in The Concubine (2012), she overturned the opinions of her critics. In Obsessed (2014), she starred as the wife of a military officer during the Vietnam War, winning Best Supporting Actress from the Korean Association of Film Critics (KAFC) and the Korean Film Reporters Association (KOFRA).
Her most recent film is no less than director Bong Joon-ho's Palme d’Or and Academy Award winner Parasite (2019), where she plays the rich, naive mother who unknowingly employs a poor family. Along with the rest of the film's ensemble, she received the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, becoming the first non-English speaking cast to do so.
Despite these accolades, she continues to push the boundaries of women's stories in TV and cinema. In the rom-com thriller Cheat on Me If You Can (2020), she starred as a famous writer whose novels feature brutally murdered cheating husbands. She then played a lawyer accused of killing her husband in the mystery suspense High Class (2021). Most recently, she played a fictionalized version of herself, wrestling with scarcer roles as she reaches middle age in the first episode of Behind Every Star (2022).