Yum Jung Ah is a veteran South Korean actress who has been a shining star in the Korean entertainment circle since her acting debut in the 1991 MBC drama Our Paradise. Her bold choices in films have made her a sensation who is a guaranteed box-office hitmaker and also an ideal role model for the future generation of actors and actresses in terms of reinventing her image and not letting her age get in the way of grabbing the best roles offered. Today, we present a list of the best Yum Jung Ah dramas and movies to date; even if you are unfamiliar with her name, Yum Jung Ah’s face should ring a number of bells for sure: from her recent stint in a guest role in JTBC’s Snowdrop to her role in the record-breaking show SKY Castle, Yum Jung Ah always manages to dominate the screen with her prowess.
Yum Jung Ah’s first step into the limelight was as the first runner-up in the 1991 Miss Korea beauty pageant, in which she also won the title of ‘Miss Photogenic. Yum Jung Ah had dreamed of becoming an actress ever since her childhood and used to regularly participate in the local theatres to quench her thirst for acting. Her journey in the industry hasn’t been a bed of flowers, though. During the beginning of her career, she was signed on a film Terrorist, released in 1995, directed by Kim Young Bin, where she was forced to film a nude scene despite her having a stern “no nude-scenes” term on her contract; she had later stated that the whole ordeal had not only caused her great pain but also had traumatized her to such an extent that she avoided signing on any movies for four years after the incident.
From starting off playing glamorous roles because of her image as a “cold-hearted beauty,” Yum Jung Hwa married doctor Heo Il in 2006 and reduced her industry activities due to giving birth to children and starting a family, but eventually making a full-fledged drama comeback in the 2008 SBS series Working Mom. Since then, Yum Jung Ah has shown no signs of stopping and has garnered a filmography reflective of her intense versatility in acting but also her keen eye for choosing the most amazing scripts ever.
Before we get to relish her comeback in a leading role after four years with her upcoming JTBC drama Cleaning Up, let’s have a look at the best Yum Jung Ah dramas and movies that she has starred in during her acting career in the Korean entertainment industry spanning over three decades.
Year Released: 2018
Directed By: Jo Hyun Tak
When Yum Jung Ah chose the JTBC drama SKY Castle as her next drama, she hadn’t the slightest of ideas of how this drama would end up making television history in terms of viewership ratings and would change the trajectory of her acting career. Playing the role of Han Seo Jin/Kwak Mi Hyang, a woman with a hidden past who married a wealthy doctor and has a desire to be at the top of the social class who doesn’t mind hurting people to get what she desires. Yum Jung Ah perfectly encapsulates a mother who would go to any extremities to ensure her daughter ends up studying in the prestigious Seoul National University’s School of Medicine, and her acting, along with the gripping, satirical plot of the drama, made her rise to the top to the extent that her face has become synonymous with the show now.
The role of Han Seo Jin has been pivotal in Yum Jung Ah’s life, and she has been appreciative of the newfound appreciation for her acting, stating that this drama got her the most attention from global and Korean audiences in her acting career spanning more than three decades. In case you haven’t watched SKY Castle yet, you’re missing out on one of the most influential Kdramas of the decade that has catapulted a new genre of satirical drama based on parents obsessed with their kid’s education to a psychologically damaging extent. One can watch SKY Castle on Netflix.
Your Neighbour’s Wife
Year Released: 2013
Directed By: Lee Tae Gon & Kim Jae Hong
Your Neighbour’s Wife is a drama with the classic storyline of two couples who have become indifferent to their partners but find their ideal match in the other pair’s half. Here, Yum Jung Ah plays the role of Chae Song Ha, an ambitious marketing executive who has to deal with the unfortunately commonplace sexist and misogynistic behavior in the workplace and a distant husband at home who is turned off by her career-driven nature and doesn’t desire her anymore. It makes for a perfect watch if you are missing watching Kdramas with classic 2010s vibes where even if the scriptwriting falters here and there, it is made up by effortless humor throughout the show. You can catch Your Neighbour’s Wife episodes available for streaming on Rakuten Viki.
Alien + People
To Be Released On: Summer 2022
Directed By: Choi Dong Hoon
Alien + People featured a whacky sci-fi scampering plot blending together the historical themes of Taoists in the Goryeo Dynasty along with the invasion of aliens in the present time. This film is obviously yet another example of the script-choosing sensibilities of Yum Jung Ah. Along with Yum Jung Ah, the film has also gathered the finest actors of the Korean industry, Ryu Jun Yeol, Kim Tae Ri, Kim Tae Ri, and So Ji Sub, under one roof; and with such a quirky concept of the plot and the star-studded cast, you know this film is going to be a fun ride that you can’t help but must keep it high on your to-watch list. Meanwhile, watch the trailer of Alien + People on YouTube.
Year Released: 2019
Directed By: Choi Jeong Yeol
Yum Jung Ah stars in this dramedy about a rebellious high-school dropout trying to find his place in the world alongside a star-studded cast consisting of Ma Dong Seok, Jun Hae In, Chei Sung Eun, and Park Jung Min. Yum Jung Ah plays a mother in this movie, but of a different kind than the overbearing mother forcing her kid to be second to none in her life. In fact, in Start Up, Yum Jung Ah is Yoon Jung Hye, who just wants her son Go Taek Il to finish up his studies and get a university education. Meanwhile, Taek Il gets into a number of trouble for menial offenses like not wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike and finally gets himself together by securing a job at a Chinese Restaurant, with trouble refusing to leave his side.
In the film, Yoon Jung Hye starts a toast shop and upon failing to pay off her debt, has her shop demolished. Start Up is a heartwarming film about a bunch of rag-tags trying to find their place in the world amongst its chaos where Yum Jung Ah plays a mother whose heart is in the right place.
A Tale Of Two Sisters
Year Released: 2003
Directed By: Kim Jae Woon
The less you know about the film A Tale of Two Sisters going into it, the better it is. Heralded as one of the representative films in the famed Korean horror genre, this film has been racking up critical acclaim and audience appreciation ever since its release, with everyone unanimously agreeing that the film needs to be watched more than once in order to be fully appreciated.
A Tale Of Two Sisters is a must-watch if you are on the lookout for the best Yum Jung Ah films ever, since this was a turning point in her acting career. Her portrayal of the cold and heartless stepmother Heo Eun Joo even fetched her the prestigious Best Supporting Actress Awards in the 22nd Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. According to Yum Jung Ah, this role was her most challenging to date, which she had accepted in hopes that her public image would change.
Year Released: 2018
Directed By: Lee Jae Gyoo
Intimate Strangers is the Korean remake of the famous Italian film Perfetti sconosciuti (dir. Paolo Genovese). The enticing plot of the film surrounds the group of friends of a married couple, Seok Ho and Ye Jin, who invite their friends for their housewarming dinner and propose playing a game where all the couples must put their phones on a table in front of them and share all the incoming messages, emails, and phone calls with everyone! As expected, this ensues, unraveling the secrets of everyone by the end of which the friends feel like strangers to each other despite having known them for so long.
Intimate Strangers is one of the best Yum Jung Ah movies – here, she plays the role of Soo Hyun, a full-time housewife of Tae Soo, a lawyer. Soo Hyun is the mother of three children who also takes care of her sick mother-in-law all by herself. Soo Hyun is an honest simpleton who prefers makgeolli (Korean rice-alcohol) to wine and recites any poem that comes to her fancy, much to her husband’s dissatisfaction.
Despite her husband Tae Soo’s patriarchal way of handling things, it is Soo Hyun that has to drive him around because of a drunken-driving accident he had caused a year ago. But to know the truth behind the actual perpetrator of the drunk-driving accident and the secrets of Soo Hyun (which includes a scandalous relationship with a fan of her secret online novel about a romance of a woman with three children with a younger man, one must not miss Yum Jung Ah’s simplistic charms in the movie Intimate Stranger.
Year Released: 2014
Directed By: Boo Ji Young
A film inspired by the real-life events of the infamous South Korean supermarket chain Homever’s laying off most female temporary workers due to the implementation of new laws in 2007, it is one of the most critically acclaimed of Yum Jung Ah’s films. Yum Jung Ah plays Sun Hee, a cashier in a supermarket who is also a caring mother to two children. After her company served a notice nullifying the contracts of the temporary workers, Sun Hee, along with thousands of other women who had dedicated their loyalty to the supermarket for a long time in hopes of getting permanent positions to form a union and go on a strike to protest the deprivation of what’s rightfully theirs.
Showcasing the real-life atrocities that temporary workers have to go through, such as being forced to write apologetic letters of reflection when they refuse their supervisor’s request to work overtime outside of work hours, Yum Jung Ah’s portrayal of a union leader was largely appreciated. Even though most of the audiences of the movie belong to the EXO fandom because Do Kyung Soo (AKA DO of EXO), it’s one of the best Yum Jung Ah movies to grace the large screen.
Cleaning Up – More About The Upcoming Drama
To Be Released On: June 2022
Directed By: Yoon Seong Shik
Yum Jung Ah is returning to the small screen in a leading role after four years with Cleaning Up, a series about a trio of cleaning services providers. As they grow tired of their abandoned dreams gathering up dust while they sweep floors and work hard for a living, they get an opportunity to get into the shady world of insider trading. Yum Jung Ah has taken up yet another role as a mother. This time, one who works as a janitor on the weekdays and as a doting mother of two on the weekends. Yum Jung Ah is joined by Jeon So Min, who plays Ahn In Kyung, who is saving up money working as a cleaner to open up a new mobile food truck café, and Kim Jae Hwa, playing Maeng Soo Ja, who is only social to people when she sees a benefit to it.