Go Hyun-jung launched her entertainment career after placing as a runner-up in the Miss Korea beauty pageant in 1989. In 1992, she was named Best New Actress at the 28th Baeksang Arts Awards for the long-running KBS drama Love on a Jujube Tree. Her acting breakthrough came in the 1995 SBS drama Sandglass, which recorded a peak viewership rating of 64.5 percent. She was nominated as Best Actress for TV at the 31st Baeksang Arts Awards for her work in the series.
In May 1995, Go Hyun-jung married Shinsegae Group vice chairman and CEO Chung Yong-jin, who is also a grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul. Go Hyun-jung announced her retirement from acting shortly after despite being at the peak of her career. They have two children: a son born in 1998 and a daughter born in 2000. In November 2003, the couple went through a messy divorce. Go Hyun-jung lost complete custody of her children during the process. Shinsegae then announced a ban on Go-related materials and products at its department stores.
Go Hyun-jung made an acting comeback in the 2005 melodrama Spring Day, in which she was nominated as Best Actress for TV at the 41st Baeksang Arts Awards. In 2006, she gained several Best New Actress nominations for her debut movie Woman on the Beach. In 2009, she won Daesangs at the 46th Baeksang Arts Awards and the MBC Drama Awards for her portrayal of Lady Mishil, the power-hungry main rival to the queen in the sageuk Queen Seon-deok. The series helped her regain her status as one of Korea’s top actresses. She won another Daesang at the 2010 SBS Drama Awards for the political drama Daemul.
In 2010, Go Hyun-jung established her own talent management agency called IOK Company. She also published a book on skincare in 2011. In 2012, she hosted her own talk show called GO Show, which was cancelled after eight months on the air. In 2014, she became an adjunct professor in the theater department of her alma mater Dongguk University. Go Hyun-jung also has her own fashion brand called atti.k and cosmetics line called koY.