[Actor Spotlight] Jung Kyung-ho
It’s finally Jung Kyung-ho’s turn in the spotlight. The actor is currently starring in tvN’s fantasy comedy When the Devil Calls Your Name which not only has a great premise (and even greater source material), but a cast that can easily carry it to its dramatic Faustian heights.
Acting and television were familiar territory for Jung Kyung-ho — his father is actually a famous TV director. Though originally discouraged from pursuing acting, he not only studied theatre at a highly respected school, but passed an early audition, signed with an agency, and was off to a rollicking start by 2004. That was the year the hit melodrama I’m Sorry, I Love You propelled the careers of several newcomers, including Jung.
Jung Kyung-ho’s acting career has been a nice balance of genres, though I favor his darker and more dramatic performances over the light and romantic — for example, Heartless City over Falling for Innocence (not that he can’t do both).
Let’s look at some drama highlights from Jung Kyung-ho.
I’m Sorry I Love You (2004)
Truth be told, I didn’t fall under the Jung Kyung-ho spell until I back-watched this Hallyu classic. Jung Kyung-ho’s character is mostly a weepy, spoiled pop star, but there was an earnestness in his performance, and later depth to the role, that makes it obvious why it was such an important one. Though relegated to more of a secondary role to the ill-fated lovers played by So Ji-sub and Im Soo-jung, I can’t imagine this drama without any of the three. That’s because stronger than the love triangle was the bromance between Jung Kyung-ho and So Ji-sub’s character whose fates were intertwined.
Heartless City (2013)
Heartless City (also known as Cruel City) was a great bit of K-drama noir, before it proliferated in dramaland. Though imperfect, this drama did so many things right, and I loved the examination of shifting loyalties and love, which were the perfect themes for a drama about mob bosses and madams and drug rings and law-enforcing cops. The cast was great here, with Yoon Hyun-min, Lee Jae-yoon as the police officer that was trying to expose the crime ring, and my favorite character here, the fantastic Kim Yoo-mi. Nam Gyuri was technically the female lead, but I found her character the most forgettable in this really great cast of characters. Perhaps because the bromance was so strong, the romance lagged. Anyway, it’s nice to take a break from romance every now and then and dig deep into loyalty and friendship instead.
Falling for Innocence (2015)
Okay, not his best drama by far, but I had to stick this one in here because he was just so much fun with Kim So-yeon (girl crush!). And, um, he reunited with Yoon Hyun-min here too, which is also great. However, if Heartless City was moody, dark, and noir, Falling for Innocence was trite and tropey. I admittedly dropped this drama about halfway through — even though I loved the cast. The transplant trope was a bit too much. Transplanted organs from one person’s beloved, inexplicable personality changes, love that crosses the space-time continuum… I guess done well it can be good, but here it was a bit overplayed.
Jung Kyung-ho’s full filmography:
- Sweet 18 (2004) [Drama]
Jung Kyung-ho had a bit part in this arranged marriage rom-com that starred Han Ji-hye and Lee Dong-gun.
- 5 Stars (2004) [Web Drama]
Early “mobile” drama that gave Jung Kyung-ho some good visibility.
- You Will Know (2004) [Drama]
Another small role in this Ji Hyun-woo and Lee Soo-kyung drama about a group of twenty-somethings. (And the cast probably were twenty-somethings then!)
- I’m Sorry, I Love You (2004) [Drama]
Spoiled pop star with an obsessive mother (see above).
- All for Love (2005) [Film]
Romance ensemble film and huge commercial success. Jung Kyung-ho played another ill pop singer, hah.
- When Romance Meets Destiny (2005) [Film]
Rom-com about two brothers and their love lives. Jung Kyung-ho had a supporting role.
- My Sweetheart My Darling (2005) [Drama]
Old school daily family drama that starred Lee Bo-young and Kim Seung-soo, with Jung Kyung-ho in a supporting role.
- Gangster High (2006) [Film]
Action film about rival gangs that starred Jung Kyung-ho, Jang Hee-jin and Jo Jin-woong.
- Herb (2007) [Film]
The story of a woman with the mentality of a seven-year-old who fell hard for Jung Kyung-ho. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be heartwarming or melancholy. Or perhaps both?
- For Eternal Hearts (2007) [Film]
Art film that starred Jung Kyung-ho as a professor looking back on a past romance.
- Time Between Dog and Wolf (2007) [Drama]
Well-received action/romance with a cool title derived from a French aphorism. The drama starred Lee Jun-ki, Nam Sang-mi, and Jung Kyung-ho.
- Beastie Boys (2008) [Film/Cameo]
Also known as The Moonlight of Seoul, this film was about male hosts that served an exclusive female clientele in a Gangnam club. Huh, this is an interesting take on the usual hostess bar scenario, and I love the cast: Yoon Kye-sang, Ha Jung-woo and Yoon Jin-seo.
- Sunny (2008) [Film]
Soo-ae played the titular character in this film about a woman followed her husband to the Vietnam War and sang for the troops.
- Running Turtle (2009) [Film]
Action film that set a detective (Kim Yoon-seok) versus an escaped prisoner (Jung Kyung-ho).
- Ja Myung Go (2009) [Drama]
Historical drama based on Korean folklore that starred Jung Ryeo-won, Park Min-young and Jung Kyung-ho.
- Smile, You (2009) [Drama]
Lee Min-jung and Jung Kyung-ho starred in this weekend rom-com about a family forced to stay with their chauffeur’s family.
- Road No. 1 (2010) [Drama/Cameo]
Jung Kyung-ho made a cameo as a man picking up garbage in this Korean War action/romance.
- The Great Gye Choon-bin (2010) [Drama]
One-episode drama special that starred Jung Yumi and Jung Kyung-ho as teacher and therapist.
- Rollercoaster (2013) [Film]
Movie about an airplane in danger and the crazy collection of people that were on board.
- Heartless City (2013) [Drama]
Moody noir with fantabulous cast (see above).
- After School: Lucky or Not (2013) [Web Drama/Cameo]
Cameo in this Fantasio web drama that debuted the acting group 5urprise.
- Crow’s-Eye View (2013) [Drama]
One-episode drama special about famous Korean author from the 1930s.
- Manhole (2014) [Film]
Jung Kyung-ho tried his hand at playing a psycho killer that trapped people in manholes, and I’m pretty sure he’s terrifying.
- Endless Love (2014) [Drama]
Wondering what I missed in this period melo that starred Hwang Jung-eum, Ryu Soo-young, and Jung Kyung-ho.
- House, Mate (2014) [Drama/Cameo]
Cameo in the one-episode drama special that starred his peeps from Heartless City, Yoon Hyun-min and Nam Gyuri.
- Falling For Innocence (2015) [Drama]
Lollipops and love conquers all (see above).
- Because It’s the First Time (2015) [Drama/Cameo]
Jung Kyung-ho cameoed as a police officer in this youth drama that starred Minho, Park So-dam, Kim Min-jae, and more.
- High-End Crush (2015) [Web Drama/Cameo]
Hilarious cameo as an entertainment news anchor alongside Kim So-yeon.
- Amor (2015) [Film]
Romance/fantasy film that tipped its hat to classic Korean dramas/films about terminal illnesses.
- One More Happy Ending (2016) [Drama]
Rom-com about a girl group post-retirement and what their lives were like in their 30s.
- Missing Nine (2017) [Drama]
Underwhelming plane crash drama that felt like it wanted to be Lost.
- Prison Playbook (2017) [Drama]
Acclaimed tvN drama about the life of prison guards and prisoners. Great cast and great production team.
- Life on Mars (2018) [Drama]
OCN’s adaptation of the BBC show that starred Jung Kyung-ho, and Park Sung-woong.
- Deja Vu (2018) [Film]
Mystery-thriller that reunited Jung Kyung-ho with Nam Gyuri.
- When the Devil Calls Your Name (2019) [Drama]
Jung Kyung-ho and Park Sung-woong reunite onscreen, and that’s reason enough to watch it.
- When the Devil Calls Your Name: Episode 1
- Jung Kyung-ho’s world goes up in flames in tvN fantasy comedy
- Jung Kyung-ho cast in tvN’s When the Devil Calls Your Name
- Life on Mars: Episode 1
- Smart Prison Living: Episode 1
- Jung Kyung-ho, Park Hae-soo headline Answer Me PD’s new prison drama
- Missing 9: Episode 1
- Castaways Jung Kyung-ho and Baek Jin-hee in Missing 9
- 130 January 22, 2016 One More Happy Ending: Episode 1