Go Hyun-jung

Go Hyun-jung (Korean고현정; born March 2, 1971) is a South Korean actress. She debuted in the entertainment industry as a Miss Korea runner-up in 1989 and went on to star in Sandglass (1995), one of the highest-rated and critically acclaimed dramas in Korean television history. She retired after marrying chaebol Chung Yong-jin in 1995, then returned to acting after their divorce in 2003. Go has since regained her top star status in Korea, becoming the highest-paid actress on TV after the success of her series Queen Seondeok (2009) and Daemul (2010).[1]

Go Hyun-jung
Ko Hyun-Jung3.jpg
Go in 2006
Born (1971-03-02) March 2, 1971 (age 52)
Hwasun, South Jeolla, South Korea
Other namesKo Hyun-jung
Alma materDongguk University – Performing Arts
Years active1989–1995, 2004–present
AgentIOK Company
(m. 1995; div. 2003)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGo Hyeon-jeong
McCune–ReischauerKo Hyŏn-jŏng

Life and careerEdit

Early career and retirementEdit

Go Hyun-jung graduated from Dongguk University with a degree in Performing Arts. She was a runner-up in the Miss Korea pageant in 1989, which launched her acting career.[2] Her big break came in the 1995 SBS drama Sandglass. The drama dealt with modern Korean history from 1970 to the 1990s and was one of the highest rated dramas in Korean television history, with average ratings of 50.8% and a peak of 64.5%.[3] People would rush home just to see a new episode, saying “it's time to go home,” which meant they had to go home to watch Sandglass.[4] However, following her marriage, Go announced her retirement from the industry.

Television comeback and filmsEdit

She staged a comeback in the 2005 melodrama Spring Day,[5][6][7] which she followed up with May–December romantic comedy What's Up Fox? and police procedural H.I.T.[8]

Not content with her small screen success, Go began her late-blooming movie career by going against her image and taking pay cuts to star in non-mainstream films.[9] She was part of the ensemble cast in arthouse films Woman on the Beach and Like You Know It All by auteur Hong Sang-soo.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16] She then starred in Actresses, a semi-improvisational movie featuring six actresses each playing themselves. Director E J-yong, who was first inspired to make the film after going out for a drink with actresses Youn Yuh-jung and Go in 2007, said he focused on conveying the "reality" of the actresses' lives.[17][18][19]

Career resurgenceEdit

Go regained her reputation as Korea's top actress in 2009 after playing femme fatale royal concubine Lady Mishil in the hit historical drama Queen Seondeok.[20][21] She was not the titular lead character, but her interpretation of the power-hungry main rival to the queen was impressive enough to make viewers remember the show as Mishil's story.[4][22][23] The drama reached ratings of over 40 percent and won her the highest award at the MBC Drama Awards and Baeksang Arts Awards.[24][25] Go was named Gallup Korea's Television Actor of the Year for two consecutive years (2009–10).[26]

That same year, Go surprised fans not only by appearing on a TV entertainment show (popular talk show Golden Fishery hosted by comedian Kang Ho-dong) for the first time in 15 years, but also by very frankly addressing rumors surrounding her shrouded personal life. Once notorious for declining to appear on entertainment programs other than dramas or films, she maintained a mysterious image for a long time. Her new easy-going, and down-to-earth attitude seemingly reflected a philosophical view of the many ups and downs in life. In interviews with print and online magazines, Go has even expressed her feelings towards her ex-husband and children.[21][27][28]

Twenty-one years after making her acting debut, Go held her very first fanmeeting on June 13, 2010—she held a press conference beforehand, sang songs for the 500 fans present, answered questions, and prepared video clips.[29]

Though plagued with production issues prior to airing,[30][31] Go returned to television ten months later in Daemul, which means "big shot" or "big thing" in Korean.[32][33] In the drama, Go plays Seo Hye-rim, an anchorwoman who enters politics after the death of her war correspondent husband and becomes the nation's first female president. The 24-episode series revolves around an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances: how and why she became head of state and also the complicated schemes and plots surrounding her, her presidency, allies, and enemies.[34] Besides its star-studded cast (Go starred opposite Korean Wave star Kwon Sang-woo), the show's ratings was helped by its controversial plot, which included events from Korea's recent past such as a presidential impeachment and the sinking of a Navy warship, and it topped its time slot for 11 consecutive weeks.[4][35] Go repeated her feat by winning the top prize at the 2010 SBS Drama Awards.[36] According to industry sources, Go was reportedly paid ₩55 million (US$51,000) per episode, setting a new salary record for a Korean actress.[37][38]

Go also narrated the SBS documentary The Last Tundra - Movie Edition (also known as The Final Tundra - Cinema Edition) which offered a rare glimpse into the life of the Nenets, the last reindeer herding nomads living in the Siberian tundra.[39]

2012's Miss Go (international title: Miss Conspirator) was her first commercial film, and the first film she headlined.[40] The action comedy is about a nerdy, reclusive cartoonist with a severe case of sociophobia who somehow gets mixed up in a drug deal involving one of the biggest organized crime groups in Korea, and is forced to deal with her phobia and interact with others as she runs from the police.[41][42][43][44][45]

Go returned to television in 2013 with The Queen's Classroom, a remake of the 2005 Japanese drama Jyoou no Kyoushitsu. The story depicts the struggle between a ferocious and ruthless elementary school teacher and her class.[46][47][48][49]

In 2016, Go starred in the family melodrama Dear My Friends,[50] playing a freelance translator, a complex and sometimes abrasive character, who observes the lives of the old people surrounding her.[51]

In 2017, Go announced her return to the big screen with A Winter Guest Scarier than a Tiger, by acclaimed indie filmmaker Lee Kwang-kuk.[52]

In 2018, Go starred in the legal thriller drama Return.[53] The drama revolves around a murder case that involves powerful members of an elite class, with Go playing the role of a rags-to-riches lawyer with secrets.[54] However halfway through the series, it was announced that she dropped out due to irreconcilable differences with the PD.[55]

In early 2019, Go starred in the second season of My Lawyer, Mr. Jo, alongside Park Shin-yang.[56]

In 2021, more than two years after her last project, Go returned to the small-screen with Reflection of You, a JTBC melodrama based on a novel by Jung So-hyeon.[57]

Other activitiesEdit

In 2010, after her contract ended with De Chocolate E&TF, she set up her own talent agency with her brother, Go Byung-cheol, as CEO, called IOK Company.[58] In 2012, her Spring Day co-star and close friend, Jo In-sung, also signed on.[59]

She published a book on skincare titled Go Hyun-jung's Texture in 2011. The actress has always been admired for her youthful appearance, largely attributed to her healthy skin which had made fans wonder about her beauty secrets. The book, arranged in the format of a documentary, contains Go's own philosophy on beauty classified under six themes—texture, color, light, line, formality, and scent—as well as her ideas on leading a sound and healthy lifestyle in general. The book is co-written by another writer who observed the actress's everyday life for six months, describing it in detail.[60][61] The book became a bestseller, with all 30,000 copies of the first edition selling out in just two days of release.[62]

At the press event for her eponymously named talk show GO Show (which premiered on April 6, 2012), Go quipped, "I became an MC because I wanted to. I want to meet a lot of people and hear their stories. I have always wanted to do that and SBS gave me that opportunity."[63] Given her reputation for saying what is on her mind (one that has won the actress many fans), concerns arose as to how her work as show host would affect the impressive image of flawless elegance and sophistication she has gained over the years. But Go harbored little anxiety over how her public image might change, saying, "I think I can afford to put a small dent in my image and have some fun."[63] Co-hosted by singer-songwriter Yoon Jong-shin, and comedians Jung Hyung-don and Kim Young-chul, the talk show was cancelled after eight months on the air.[64]

In 2014, she began teaching acting at her alma mater Dongguk University, as an adjunct professor in the theater department.[65] Back in 2006, she donated a ₩100 million scholarship fund to the school.[66]

Go also launched her own fashion brand, atti.k, a label that sells clothes, shoes, and bags.[67] In the following year, Go then launched her own cosmetics line, koY.[68]

In 2015, Go starred in her own reality show, which tracks her trip to Tokyo and films her preparation to launch a travel book.[69]

Personal lifeEdit

In May 1995, at the peak of her career, Go married Chung Yong-jin, vice chairman and CEO of Shinsegae Group and grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul. The two first met in New York, purely by coincidence, when Chung had offered to help Go find her seat at the Winter Garden Theatre because her English was so bad.[70] After the most talked-about wedding in Korea at the time, Go announced her retirement from acting to focus on her new role as a chaebol's wife.[71] They had two children together, a boy (born in 1998) and a girl (born in 2000).[citation needed]

After eight years of marriage, a messy divorce followed in November 2003, during which she lost complete custody of her children.[4] Two years after the divorce, Shinsegae passed down a ruling stating that none of its department stores would be allowed to display any Go-related material, including any of her product endorsements.[citation needed]


Television seriesEdit

Year Title Role Network
1990 Love on a Jujube Tree Hwang Mal-sook KBS
1991 맥랑시대 Shin-ae
Eyes of Dawn Ahn Myeong-ji MBC
1992 A Love Without Fear Shin Kyung-ae SBS
Women's Room Yoon Hee-soo MBC
Winter Rainbow Mi-ae KBS2
1993 My Mother's Sea Kim Young-seo MBC
1994 Farewell Kim Ye-rim SBS
1995 Sandglass Yoon Hye-rin
2005 Spring Day Seo Jung-eun
2006 What's Up Fox? Go Byung-hee MBC
2007 H.I.T Lt. Cha Soo-kyung
2009 Queen Seondeok Mishil
2010 Daemul Seo Hye-rim SBS
2013 The Queen's Classroom Ma Yeo-jin MBC
2016 Dear My Friends Park Wan tvN
2018 Return Choi Ja-hye (Ep. 1-15) SBS
2019 My Lawyer, Mr. Jo 2: Crime and Punishment Lee Ja-Gyeong KBS2
2021 Reflection of You Jeong Hee-joo JTBC[72]

Web seriesEdit

Year Title Platforn Role Ref.
TBA Mask Girl Netflix Kim Mo-mi [73]


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Woman on the Beach Kim Mun-suk
2009 Like You Know It All Go Soon
Actresses Herself Also credited as co-screenwriter
2011 The Last Tundra - Movie Edition Documentary narrator
The Day He Arrives Cinema fan (cameo)
2012 Miss Conspirator Chun Soo-ro
2018 A Tiger in Winter Yoo-jeong

Television showEdit

Year Title Network Notes
1990 시청자와 함께 KBS
Family Arcade
1990–1991 Show! Saturday Express Host
1991–1992 Saturday March
1994 Between Night and Music
2010 Beop Jeong: May All Beings Be Happy MBC Documentary narrator
The Last Tundra SBS
2012 GO Show Host
2022 Guardians of the Tundra Narrator[74]


Album information Track listing
Watercolor Painting in a Rainy Day 2 OST
  • Three tracks[75]
  • Released: November 5, 1990
Track listing

05. 아직도 우리곁에는 - Kim Dong-hwan, Kang In-won, Go Hyun-jung, Lee Jae-jin
06. 언제나 아침이면 - Go Hyun-jung, Lee Jae-jin

09. 처음 만날때부터 - Go Hyun-jung
Strange Happiness (낯선 행복)
  • Album[76]
  • Released: March 1994
  • Label: Pearl Records
  • Re-released as 2004 Song & Poem
Track listing
  1. 처음 만날때부터
  2. 낯선 행복
  3. 가장 슬픈일
  4. 일기 I
  5. 당신을 사랑합니다
  6. 그대는 참 좋겠네
  7. 나의 빛
  8. 그 남자는
  9. 일기 II
  10. 눈동자를 위한 소나타
  11. 너를 보내고
三人三色 (omnibus)
  • Three tracks from Chae Shi-ra, Go Hyun-jung, and Kil Eun-jeong[77]
  • Released: June 1995
  • Label: King
Track listing

04. 가장 슬픈 일 - Go Hyun-jung
05. 당신을 사랑합니다 - Go Hyun-jung

06. 그 남자는 - Go Hyun-jung


Year Title Publisher ISBN
2011 Go Hyun-jung's Texture
(Beauty Documentary)
Joongang M&B
ISBN 978-89-6456-149-2

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1989 33rd Miss Korea Pageant First Runner-up (Miss World Korea) Won
1992 28th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress Love on a Jujube Tree Won
1993 MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress My Mother's Sea Won
1994 30th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (TV) Nominated
1995 31st Baeksang Arts Awards Sandglass Nominated
2000 SBS Drama Awards Big Star Award Won
2005 41st Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (TV) Spring Day Nominated
SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress Nominated
Top 10 Stars Won
2006 MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress What's Up Fox? Nominated
5th Korean Film Awards Best Actress Woman on the Beach Nominated
Best New Actress Nominated
7th Busan Film Critics Awards Won
Cine21 Awards Won
2007 43rd Baeksang Arts Awards Nominated
44th Grand Bell Awards Nominated
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress H.I.T Nominated
2009 Broadcaster Awards Best Actress Queen Seondeok Won
Job Korea[78] Actress of the Year Won
MBC Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Won
Top Excellence Award, Actress Nominated
2010 22nd Korea Producers & Directors' (PD) Awards Best Performer, TV Actress category Won
46th Baeksang Arts Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Won
Best Actress (TV) Nominated
37th Korea Broadcasting Awards[79] Best Actress Won
5th Seoul International Drama Awards[80] Outstanding Korean Actress Won
SBS Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Daemul Won
Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Drama Special Nominated
Top 10 Stars Won
2013 6th Korea Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) The Queen's Classroom Nominated
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Nominated
2016 tvN10 Awards Best Actress Dear My Friends Nominated
2019 KBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress My Lawyer, Mr. Jo 2: Crime and Punishment Nominated
Excellence Award, Actress in a Mid-length Drama Nominated


Name of publisher, year listed, name of listicle, and placement
Publisher Year Listicle Placement Ref.
Forbes 2010 Korea Power Celebrity 6th [81]
2011 20th [82]


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External linksEdit