Jung was born on Jan. 21, 1981.
She began her entertainment career as a singer in the now-defunct girl group Chakra, and first rose to fame in the hit television series My Name is Kim Sam-soon. She is also known for her roles in Two Faces of My Girlfriend, Castaway on the Moon, and History of a Salaryman.
The second of three children, Jung Ryeo-won was born in Seoul, but emigrated to Brisbane, Australia in 1991 with her family. She encountered discrimination in grade school, which made her determined to become fluent in English. By junior high school, she had adapted to the Australian way of life. After graduating from MacGregor State High School, she entered Griffith University as an international business major.
But while vacationing in Korea in the summer of 1999, Jung was discovered on the streets of Apgujeong by an agent, thereby changing her life and career path. She was placed in the K-pop girl group Chakra, along with Eeni, Eun and Hwangbo; their first album was released in 2000. Jung hit a low in 2002, saying she sometimes felt alienated from her fellow Koreans, and was uncomfortable with the sexy clothes she was made to wear as a singer.
Chakra disbanded in 2004, and Jung pursued acting full-time. After undergoing 11 unsuccessful auditions that year, she said she began doubting her decision to become an actress. But in 2005 she gained recognition in the cult vampire sitcom Hello Franceska, then made her breakthrough in the romantic comedy My Name is Kim Sam-soon. The series was a massive success with average ratings of over 37%, and 50.5% for the finale.
Jung was praised for her portrayal of a fragile but good-natured character who fights for the hero's love, and she eventually became one of the few successful singer-turned-actresses in the country.
Her follow-up series Autumn Shower received low ratings, but she rebounded with Which Star Are You From?, in which she played a country bumpkin living in the mountains of Gangwon Province.
She was cast in her first movie leading role as a girl with multiple personality disorder in 2007's Two Faces of My Girlfriend, and though it was not a box office hit, she won Best New Actress at the Blue Dragon Film Awards.
As the titular character in 2009's Princess Jamyung, Jung starred in her first ever historical drama. She then played a hikikomori in Castaway on the Moon, arguably her most notable film yet.
Both her 2011 big screen projects had elements of romance. She played a teacher in a small South Korean village who meets a North Korean officer in the war comedy/drama In Love and War, and in Kwak Kyung-taek's melodrama Pained, she played a hemophiliac who falls for her opposite, a man with analgesia, the inability to sense physical pain.
In November 2011, Jung was appointed a promotional ambassador for the Korea Tourism Organization.
Jung began 2012 by starring as the heroine in quirky series History of a Salaryman.
Essaying one of the most unusual female characters in Korean drama history, she delivered a fun, no-holds-barred performance as a red-haired, constantly swearing, selfish, reckless rich snob, but injected heart and raw emotion into a character that could've otherwise been very unlikable. Critics and audiences were impressed with her performance, and her series nabbed the top spot on the Monday and Tuesday primetime ratings lineup while she later won a Top Excellence Award at the SBS Drama Awards.
She then starred in Never Ending Story, a romantic comedy about two people diagnosed with terminal illness who decide to spend their remaining time together preparing for death.
In June 2012 Jung's contract with Won Entertainment expired and she signed with Bae Yong-joon's agency KeyEast. Later that year she played an idealistic screenwriter in The King of Dramas.
In January 2013 Jung unveiled her official website (aboutyoana.com), through which she hopes to connect with her fans. Messages from the actress are uploaded in the "From rw" section.
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