[Actor Spotlight] Jung So-min
The next actor in our spotlight series is Jung So-min, who starred in Hundred Million Stars From the Sky, which just finished its run on tvN (and boy was it a doozy!). Born in 1989 in Jinju, South Korea, Jung So-min is a relatively new actress, kicking off her career with a supporting role in 2010’s Bad Guy. The role gained her a lot of attention as soon as it premiered, and she was admired for holding her own opposite some big names — especially since her only onscreen credits prior to the drama had been commercials.
Her first leading role in 2010’s Playful Kiss quickly followed Bad Guy, and Jung So-min has had no shortage of work since. She has a lovely energy onscreen, and in her most recent work, strikes a nice balance between carefree girlishness and independent woman. Her style is breezy, yet full of depth, and Jung crafts characters that are easy to relate to, and interesting to watch.
Here are some highlights from Jung So-min’s drama career, followed by her full filmography.
Bad Guy (2010)
I know this show is universally considered a train wreck, but I don’t think I can stop myself from watching it for much longer. For some reason I have a pretty high tolerance for messy melodramas with plot slippage and awful endings. Bad Guy starred Kim Nam-gil as the “bad guy” who planned an elaborate revenge scheme against Kim Jae-wook (another big reason to watch this) and his sisters, played by Oh Yeon-soo and Jung So-min. It’s a tale of tragedy, revenge, love, and death — and maybe not in that order. Critical reception aside, Jung So-min made a big splash with her debut, and I’m intrigued by her role in this drama. She was twenty-one or so when it aired, and she looks about sixteen. It’s amazing how much she’s grown up in eight years!
Playful Kiss (2010)
In Playful Kiss, Jung So-min scored her first leading role, meeting with pretty quick success. She starred opposite he-who-shall-not-be-named (okay, we all know it’s Kim Hyun-joong, but this was when he was hot off the Boys Over Flowers presses, and his career was riding high on the wonders of Yoon Ji-hoo). Adapted from the Japanese manga Itazura Na Kiss, Jung So-min played the unpopular and not-so-bright high schooler that was madly in love with Kim Hyun-joong’s character, who was her complete opposite: popular, aloof, and at the top of the class. When her house collapsed she was forced to live with his family (because why not!?), and the usual mayhem ensued. Should I squee or throw something at the screen? Maybe both. Either way, Jung So-min was adorable, and Playful Kiss was a great start for her.
Because This Life is Our First (2017)
Just looking at this still makes me crack up. Jung So-min and Lee Min-ki were perfectly cast in this cohabitation/contract marriage drama. Thanks to their performances, we got a fresh, quirky, and down-to-earth story with a (mostly) strong script. But it was the characters that made it so successful, and watching our leads change and grow in the wake of each other’s influence made the drama was watchable as it was. Jung So-min was the perfect complement to Lee Min-ki’s oddball bachelor, and her character, though finding herself in Candy circumstances, was far from that. I think I enjoyed this drama a little less than most, and the second lead story lines, while meant to add to the tale of modern love and relationships, weren’t particularly memorable for me. That being said, I liked the drama’s overall message that it’s okay to fumble through life and learn as you go. And really, Jung So-min and Lee Min-ki made my day – as did their kimchi-making.
Hundred Million Stars From the Sky (2018)
I’m only three quarters through (shh, no spoilers!) but this drama totally exceeded my expectations with its overall tone and execution. As I watch, I get the feeling the drama knows exactly what it wants to do, and the strong direction and solid acting only hammers in that point. I love the long takes during important conversations and exchanges; the camera holds on the characters just a few beats longer than you would expect, and it adds such dimension and suspense. It keeps you looking at them (and especially Seo In-gook’s character) to try to figure out what’s really going on beneath the surface. Seo In-gook regularly blows me away, but he’s really great here. I think he needs an award, frankly. But what would the show be without Jung So-min? Hundred Million Stars From the Sky is rather dark and heavy, and Jung So-min’s character is a ray of light. Her portrayal of the sweet, bubbly heroine that’s actually not a bit naive and sees right through Seo In-gook’s mind games, is really making the show for me. You can see why his character builds an interest in her, as she regularly calls him out on the tricks and lies that others fall for, and sees right to the root of him.
Jung So-min’s full filmography:
- Bad Guy (2010) [Drama]
- Playful Kiss (2010) [Drama]
- Standby (2012) [Drama]
- Can We Get Married? (2012) [Drama]
- Came to Me and Became a Star (2013) [Drama]
- Miss Korea (2014) [Drama/Cameo]
- Big Man (2014) [Drama]
- D-Day (2015) [Drama]
- Alice: Boy from Wonderland (2015) [Film]
- Twenty (2015) [Film]
- Red Teacher (2016) [Drama]
- The Sound of Your Heart (2016) [Web drama]
- My Father is Strange (2017) [Drama]
- Daddy You, Daughter Me (2017) [Film]
- Because This Is My First Life (2017) [Drama]
- What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2017) [Drama/Cameo]
- Golden Slumber (2018) [Film/Cameo]
- Hundred Million Stars From the Sky (2018) [Drama]
Jung So-min debuts in this melodrama starring Kim Nam-gil (see above).
Jung So-min’s first lead role as the high schooler in love with Kim Hyun-joong, in this adaptation from the Japanese manga (see above).
Jung So-min stars as Jung So-min in this daily drama of 120 episodes (!) about the lives of the everyday people working at a broadcast station. So many names in this drama, like Ha Seok-jin, Lee Ki-woo, Go Kyung-pyo, Siwan, Claudia Kim, Choi Jung-woo (love!), and Simon D (huh?!), just to name some of them.
Talk about a cast of young stars — this drama features Jung So-min, Sung-joon, Han Groo, Kim Young-gwang, and more, in a realistic portrayal of love, family, and other drama-worthy themes.
One-episode drama special starring with Kim Ji-suk as two people down on their luck who cross paths while living in the same hostel.
Cameo in the final episode as a gas station attendant who catches the eye of the beauty queen maker.
Jung So-min plays Daniel Choi’s privileged little sister with a crush on the lead Kang Ji-hwan.
Jung So-min and other good-looking emergency workers like Ha Seok-jin and Kim Young-gwang help out when Seoul is devastated by a national disaster.
Jung So-min has to navigate Wonderland, rife with white rabbits and Hong Jong-hyun, in order to free herself from her nightmares, in this nod to the classic book.
Jung So-min plays Kim Woo-bin’s girlfriend in this coming-of-age story about three boys: Woo-bin, Junho, and Kang Ha-neul. I pretty much love the entire cast in this movie, but that’s just the problem — it’s a movie and not a drama.
One-episode drama special opposite Lee Dong-hwi about the effects a banned erotic book has on an all girls high school.
Jung So-min stars as Lee Kwang-soo’s wife in this web drama sitcom series adapted from a webtoon.
Popular weekend drama with a great ensemble cast, where Jung shined opposite Lee Joon as his not-sister, and was completely adorable.
Jung So-min stars as the daughter of Yoon Je-moon in this comedy about father/daughter soul-switching and the chaos that ensues.
Jung So-min and Lee Min-ki steal hearts in this contract relationship drama (see above).
Wonderful cameo with Lee Min-ki as the parents of the heroine. It’s beautifully shot, and Jung So-min really works as a young mother. Take note, drama gods!
Cameo (and fight) with the star of this movie, Kang Dong-won.
Complicated tale with complicated characters that’s also wonderfully directed (see above).
- [Actor Spotlight] So Ji-sub
- Hundred Million Stars From the Sky: Episode 1
- Because This Life Is Our First: Episode 1
- Jung So-min becomes Lee Min-ki’s housemate in Because This Life Is Our First
- Lee Joon, Jung So-min up to star in new family drama Father Is Strange
- D-Day: Episode 1
- Jung So-min, Hong Jong-hyun pair up in horror-romance
- Big Man: Episode 1