Go Hyun-jung (Hangul: 고현정; born March 2, 1971) is a South Korean actress. She debuted in the entertainment scene as a Miss Korea runner-up in 1989 and went on to star in Sandglass, one of the highest-rated and critically acclaimeddramas 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 and Daemul.[1]


 [hide*1 Life and career

Life and career[edit]Edit

Early career[edit]Edit

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]

Marriage and divorce[edit]Edit

In May 1995, at the peak of her career, Go married Chung Yong-jin, vice chairman and co-CEO of Shinsegae Group and grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull. 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.[5] 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.[6] They had two children together, a boy (born in 1998) and a girl (born in 2000).

But 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 are allowed to display any Go-related material, including all her product endorsements. It is rumored that the ruling is still in effect.

Television comeback[edit]Edit

She staged a comeback in the 2005 melodrama Spring Day,[7][8] which she followed up with May–December romantic comedy What's Up Fox? and police proceduralH.I.T.[9]

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.[10][11]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][12][13] The drama reached ratings of over 40 percent and won her the highest award at the MBC Drama Awards and Baeksang Arts Awards.[14][15]

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.[11][16][17]

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.[18]

Though plagued with production issues prior to airing,[19][20] Go returned to television ten months later in Daemul, which means "big shot" or "big thing" in Korean.[21][22]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.[23] 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][24] Go repeated her feat by winning the top prize at the 2010 SBS Drama Awards.[25] According to industry sources, Go was reportedly paid ₩55 million (US$51,000) per episode, setting a new salary record for a Korean actress.[26][27]

Talent agency[edit]Edit

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.[28] In 2012, Spring Day costar and close friend Jo In-sung also signed on.[29]

Skincare author[edit]Edit

She published a book on skin care titled Go Hyun-jung’s Texture in 2011. The actress has always been admired for her youthful appearance, largely attributable to her young and 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.[30][31] The book became a bestseller, with all 30,000 copies of the first edition selling out in just two days of release.[32]

Voice work[edit]Edit

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.[33]


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.[34] 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.[35][36][37][38][39][40][41] 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 Yoon Yeo-jeong and Go in 2007, said he focused on conveying the "reality" of the actresses' lives.[42][43][44]

2012's Miss Go (international title: Miss Conspirator) was her first commercial film, and the first film she headlined.[45] 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.[46][47][48][49][50]

Talk show host[edit]Edit

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."[51] 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."[51] 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.[52]


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.[53][54][55][56]

In 2014, she began teaching acting at her alma mater Dongguk University, as an adjunct professor in the theater department.[57] Back in 2006, she donated a ₩100 million scholarship fund to the school.[58]

Go also launched her own fashion brand, atti.k, a label that sells clothes, shoes, bags, furniture, food, and household goods.[59]


Television series[edit]Edit

Year Title Role Network
1990 Love on a Jujube Tree Hwang Mal-sook KBS
1991 맥랑시대 Shin-ae KBS1
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 SBS
2005 Spring Day Seo Jung-eun SBS
2006 What's Up Fox? Go Byung-hee MBC
2007 H.I.T Lt. Cha Soo-kyung MBC
2009 Queen Seondeok Mishil MBC
2010 Daemul Seo Hye-rim SBS
2013 The Queen's Classroom Ma Yeo-jin MBC


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

Variety show[edit]Edit

Date Title Network Notes
1990 시청자와 함께 KBS
Family Arcade KBS
1990-1991 Show! Saturday Express KBS Host
1991-1992 Saturday March KBS Host
1994 Between Night and Music KBS
2009-01-21 Golden Fishery - The Guru Show MBC Guest
2010-08-21 Honey Jar MBC Guest
2010 Beop Jeong: May All Beings Be Happy MBC Documentary narrator
The Last Tundra SBS Documentary narrator
2012 GO Show SBS Host


Album information Tracklisting
Watercolor Painting in a Rainy Day 2

OST*Three tracks[60]

  • Released: November 5, 1990
  • Label:


Strange Happiness (낯선 행복)
  • Album[61]
  • Released: March 1994
  • Label: Pearl Records
  • Re-released as 2004 Song & Poem


三人三色 (omnibus)

  • Three tracks each from Chae Shi-ra,
    Go Hyun-jung, and Kil Eun-jeong[62]
  • Released: June 1995
  • Label: King



Year Title Publisher ISBN
2011 Go Hyun-jung's Texture

(Beauty Documentary)

Joongang M&B ISBN 978-89-6456-149-2

Awards and nominations[edit]Edit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1989 33rd Miss Korea Pageant First Runner-up (Miss World Korea) N/A Won
1992 28th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress (TV) 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 Best Actress (TV) Sandglass Nominated
2000 SBS Drama Awards Big Star Award N/A Won
2005 41st Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (TV) Spring Day Nominated
SBS Drama Awards Top 10 Stars Won
2006 7th Pusan Film Critics Awards Best New Actress Woman on the Beach Won
5th Korean Film Awards Best New Actress Nominated
Best Actress Nominated
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress What's Up Fox? Nominated
2007 43rd Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress Woman on the Beach Nominated
44th Grand Bell Awards Best New Actress Nominated
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress H.I.T Nominated
2009 Broadcaster Awards Best Actress Queen Seondeok Won
Job Korea[63] Actress of the Year Won
MBC Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Won
2010 22nd Korea Producers & Directors' (PD) Awards Best Performer, TV Actress category Won

Baeksang Arts Awards

Best Actress (TV) Nominated
Grand Prize (Daesang) for Television Won
37th Korea Broadcasting Awards[64] Best Actress Won
5th Seoul International Drama Awards[65] Hallyu Special Award for Actress Won
SBS Drama Awards Top 10 Stars Daemul Won
Grand Prize (Daesang) Won
2013 MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries The Queen's Classroom Nominated
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