Posted by Stephan Moskovic | December 12th, 2018

The Graduates

Hoyeon Jung

There are no instructions, per se, to become a model. Fewer still, to become a top one. Most often it takes a perfect storm of good fortune, beginning with drawing a random number out of a genetic ticket dispenser. Still, as an old maxim defines the reality of luck, it’s preparation meeting opportunity. That’s the virtue of our South Korean-born graduate, Hoyeon Jung, whose measured leaps from Korea’s Next Top Model to a gilded New York debut and then from luxury house to luxury house was always part of the plan for the unwavering red-headed muse. Now 24, she can namedrop Karl Lagerfeld, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, American Vogue, Louis Vuitton as evidence of her modeling sixth sense, if she wanted to––we don’t think she would though. A humble go-getter by nature, Hoyeon is more likely to go on about skydiving or her love of acting. Read our entire interview with her below.

Visit her page and click or tap the heart icon to favorite Hoyeon and keep track of her work.

Photography by Sebastian Kim for

Styling Andrew Mukamal
Hair Hiro + Mari
Makeup Lisa Houghton
Manicure Ada Yeung

Editor Stephan Moskovic
Text & interview by Steven Yatsko

Top image: Blazer – The Row

The Graduates, since its conception in 2013, has become a mainstay featuring the foremost models of the moment. More specifically, when a Hot Lister moves up in rank to Top 50 through their own accomplishments it’s deserving of recognition, each a worthy addition to this ongoing series.

Shirt – Dolce & Gabbana, Bandeau – Giles, Pants – Dickies x OC, Jacket – Balenciaga, Sneakers – Stylist’s Own

Let’s first talk about how you started, did you want to be a model?
Basically, when I was in middle school, I thought, “Oh, what can I do to make money?” There were many people that told me, “Oh you could be a model because you’re tall.” So I’m like, “Yeah, why not? Maybe I can try.” So, I started modeling at 17. In Korea there are academies for modeling. So I went to the academy, and the academy teacher gave me a few jobs, like the fashion school graduation show, that kind of stuff. Then, I realized that there are Asian supermodels.

You didn’t even know?
Yeah, I didn’t even know. I didn’t even look. I just wanted to make money. Then I went to a casting for an agency. They liked me and we made a contract. At first, it wasn’t going that well.

You were doubting yourself?
Yeah, I did, but, there was a program for models called “Korea’s Next Top Model”. It’s like “America’s Next Top Model” but in Korea. I told my booker at ESteem I wanted to do this. They said, “Yeah, like, why not?”

How was it?
It was so hard for me. I only knew how to walk because I went to the Korean academy.

I want to know more about the academy…
At the academy, basically, they teach us walking, but it’s very, very detailed. They let us know the rhythm and there are four rhythms to walk. Everything is so specific. So, when I went on that TV show I knew how to walk technically, but I didn’t know how to show my personality or character or my charm. I was so afraid to say or to do anything. At the beginning, I was so bad. The panel told me, “Oh this is not good, Hoyeon. This is not good.” I was crying even.

This was all on TV?
Yeah. Please don’t watch it! I thought that I needed to do something since I wasn’t good, I needed to improve. I thought to keep looking at the magazines, Like Vogue Korea, W Korea when I was at home and I just followed the poses, everything.

In a mirror?
Yeah with the mirror. It was so fun. I tried to get many ideas from the magazines. One day, I just got it. I knew how to move my body, how to express my feelings or the fashion. I just kept practicing, and then one day, when I went to some shoot, it was just like that. I just moved, and it was very good, and everyone clapped. Then, I felt I can love my job from that moment on. That’s when I placed second (on Korea’s Next Top Model).

Oh, so while you were on this show you were still practicing?
Yeah definitely, because after you get top three there is a one month break. We lived together for the show, but then they just let us go back home for one month and come back for the final.

You know how American reality TV is very dramatic? Was this dramatic at all? Were there fights between any of the models?
There were two girls who were fighting. It was so awkward. I don’t know how they can do that. But like, there’s no script. They just did it. Wow…they’re really fighting. After that, my image was getting too commercial because of the TV show. But, Korea’s Next Top Model is not as same the American one. You know, Sora Choi, and Hyun Ji Shin, and Sohyun Jung? We were on it, but not the same season. It’s very good for new faces in Korea.

When was this?
It was when I was 19. Now I’m 24. My agency wanted me to do some more TV shows. I’m like, “Guys, I want to do modeling.” I wanted to do magazines and shows. Then I got a job for W Korea. It was a good story and the photographer was a very big photographer in Korea. I actually had a very nice shoot, and then they were like, “Oh, Hoyeon is a good model.” They talked to people saying, “This new face, she’s good.” Then I could get many jobs in Korea. Everything went so fast. Then, I had the thought: “There’s a worldwide market, maybe I should try that.”

So every step along the way, it was your idea? I should be a model. I should do this TV show. I should be in the magazines instead of doing more TV. And then…
Yeah, because I like to move, because this is my life. I can choose whatever I want to do if I can focus enough to make it happen.

So what was your first international show?
It was Opening Ceremony in New York. That season I actually got an Alexander Wang exclusive, but it was canceled. It can happen, but that was my first time, so I was very happy when I heard that I got that exclusive, “Oh my God, I did?” Then I heard that it was canceled. It was very scary because that was my first time, but I was like, “Okay that’s fine, let’s start again.” Right after that, they sent me a confirmation for Opening Ceremony and I debuted my first international show. I also did Rag & Bone, which was very cool. I think after that I got Marc Jacobs.

That’s huge. How did you feel?
I saw so many big models backstage, I’m like am I in a movie? I knew of Karlie Kloss, because I actually followed her posing a lot. It was quite embarrassing, her hanger was close to my hanger. So I wondered if should ask for a picture or not and my booker was like, “What’s going on?” I’m like, “Can I ask to take a picture with Karlie Kloss? She was like, “Why not? Just ask!” We took a picture and I was ugly in the picture, so I didn’t post it. I was happy and after that, I got a Louis Vuitton exclusive, which was a very big deal. Now, everything is quite very dreamy because it happened so fast. Sometimes when I’m sitting on my couch and see all the pictures…It still feels crazy.

How has your perspective changed from that time till this time now?
At the beginning, I thought that a model should be a sexy girl or should just be a really gorgeous girl or should be a cute girl or just very calm. Now, as time passes, I found that modeling can be more complicated and I can be inspired by many things besides just poses in magazines. I have so many experiences from movies, or music, or even the museums from when I saw some statue or drawings. So I thought that I should learn more things, it could even be drawing or dancing or boxing.

Because that becomes part of the experience that you’re giving?
Yeah, I thought I shouldn’t be a model who has a perfect, skinny body, or perfect face. I should be a model who is full of happy energy and full of different talents. I could be a dancer, I could be an actress, I could be a model. I thought that actually three years ago and so I started to learn every kind of class.

I started with the Pilates. Then, I learned more English because I wanted to actually learn acting. Before learning acting, I should learn English first and I’m still learning English. I thought that it was a good idea to take speech classes and acting classes. It makes it shorter to get there.

You solve this problem now, it’ll speed things up later on, right.
My dream…It’s actually acting. I love watching movies and even the music in the movies.

What are some of your favorite movies?
I like “Wild”. It’s Reese Witherspoon by Jean-Marc Vallée, the director of “Dallas Buyers Club”.

Do you like American movies then?
Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of American movies. I saw some Japanese movies too, which are very cool and I like Korean movies. We have a good market in Korea.

What do you think your next step is to go into acting?
I think it’s going to take one or two years to get my English perfect, so I can memorize and say a monologue that I can practice. When I get there, I’m not sure, but I could move to L.A. to get some casting work and get a chance to meet with agencies.

Are you afraid that the crossover from being a model to an actress is difficult?
I know it will be, but I just don’t think that there’s a limit for one person, because I heard that we couldn’t even use the full potential of our brains. So, there’s no limit.

You’re ready to give as close to 100% as you can.
Yeah. But, there’s the reality that I should pay my rent. So I can still be a model and I can still keep learning and practicing acting and going to castings.

Have you gone to any auditions yet?
No none yet, really.

Are you nervous about that?
When I was in Korea, I had one casting because there was a drama project about models’ lives. They tried to audition models. So I read the monologue and it was so awkward that while I was reading even I could feel that it was very bad, and I could imagine their feeling. They told me, “You shouldn’t read like that. Did you practice it?” They kept saying bad things. It did hurt my feelings.

Have you had any experiences like that with modeling?
Yeah, while on a shoot, I’d do something and they just kept telling me, “Oh no, Hoyeon, no!” I am so sad when I get that energy. Now, I just forget about it, it happens.

‘Cause you’ll go to hundreds of auditions and a lot may not go the way you think they’re going to go. You just need the one to go the right way.
I’ll just try to study more.

So you’ve started taking speech classes?
Accent class. It was quite fun to learn about the different accents.

Can you do a British accent?
My friends taught me just this one thing: Hi. Are you alright? [in a British accent] Do you know that?

What did you say?
It’s: Hi, are you alright? [again, in a British accent]

[laughs] Yeah sounds pretty good. How did you learn English?
When I was in Korea and I knew I should go overseas I tried to find a tutor for English. Actually, it was my friend’s sister and I went to English class three times a week. After that, I thought, “Now I can speak English a little bit”. Once I started to live in New York I realized, “Oh I think I need more [lessons].” It’s hard once you’re under pressure.

Do you feel like you’re a certain type of actor?
I actually really would like to try action because I love Quentin Tarantino’s movie. I love “Kill Bill”. I love the girls fighting with the really cool outfits. Since I’m a fashion model, we know the fashion industry, how to make it cool, that stuff. I think “Kill Bill” is a very good movie to see fashion and drama.

Have you seen the last Mission Impossible movie? The action was so good.
And Tom Cruise always does that by himself, it’s just so crazy.

He went skydiving something like 100 times for that movie.
I know, I actually like to do that kind of adventure. I skydived once, it’s so scary. I was in Guam with my friends, I think I was 19 or something like that. We love traveling, and we love adventure, so we said, “We should try skydiving.” We booked a reservation. It’s very expensive, it was like $500.

Wouldn’t it be scarier if it was too cheap?
That’s a good point. I was so scared, I was the last one on that plane. Every time people jumped, the plane was shaking––very hard.

Alright, let’s ask one more question. What have been some of your favorite shoots that you’ve been on?
Every single shoot makes me happy, but it’s when I feel close to the team. The most important things to me at shoots are the people.

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2 Comments to “Hoyeon Jung on Korea’s Next Top Model, skydiving and her no-limit approach to life”

  1. Zemvelo says:

    Love ❤️ u guy

  2. Bertrand says:

    I remember her from Korea´s next top model, she was VERY good, I liked her posing skills back then, my favorite was the winner of her season though ahahah but she did good. Happy to see her modeling to this day 🙂