Along with actress Kim Sun-ah`s authentic performance which helped make the soap the greatest hit drama of the year, Ryeo-won was also the center of attention.
Jung received favorable media coverage in local newspapers and TV reports with regard to her role in the nighttime soap opera, and also earned love calls from TV commercials, drama, and movie industry.
However, it wasn`t an easy start, said Jung.
She said she had to go through 11 auditions in the last year, in which she was cast in none of the roles. She even doubted her decision to become an actress.
Audiences also didn`t pay keen attention to her debut as an actress.
Besides, producers didn`t expect her to help boost viewer numbers for the drama as much as they expected top singer Lee Hyo-lee to do when she made her first TV screen debut on SBS`s "Three-leaf Clover." (That show eventually received harsh criticism.)
But Jung was different. She completely shed her sexy image on the screen and transformed herself into an adorable, delicate character, Yoo Hee-jin, who came back to Hyun Jin-heon, the prince charming of "My Lovely Sam-soon," after recovering from a three-year bout with fatal gastric cancer. Hee-jin couldn`t get her love back from Jin-heon after all. Even though she had to fight for her love with all-Korean-sweetheart Samsoon, her amicable but fragile character captivated viewers.
Having emigrated to Australia at 12 with her parents, she was an ordinary girl next door who wanted to be either a translator or a professor. Jung was an international business major before she came to Korea, but it was the day she was cast on the street while visiting her mother country in the summer of 1999 that changed her life, and her career path.
"I`ve never pictured myself working in the entertainment industry before then, although it just suddenly happened... as a K-pop singer, but I didn`t like to be on stage at all," said Jung.
She was one of the exotic female foursome Chakra, but she confessed she felt like she was wearing uncomfortable clothes all those years when she was in the group.
Of her Hee-jin role, Jung said with her characteristic smile, "I tried to be like her, act like her as described in the scenario. But that didn`t make the character complete, there was something left. Then I tried to figure out what it is... I found her within myself, I had Hee-jin inside, she and I have so much in common."
She explained that she really lost her appetite and couldn`t eat anything for a whole day when Hee-jin was suffering from anorexia after Jin-heon declared that he was breaking up with her.
"I felt her sorrow, losing the man of her life. I, just like her, couldn`t stand it."
Asked what kind of character she has in mind after the drama, Jung said, "All."
"I don`t have a specific idea of wanting to play a particular part. I really want to take every role that comes to me. Because for me right now, it is important to learn how I have to interpret the role and find the character from within myself," said Jung.
But there is a wish or a will to be brought up with her and her acting career.
"I want to be an actress who can share her feelings with people through her performance, who can communicate with an audience of what we think, what we love and what we desire."
By Cho Chung-un