For people like myself who became a fan of Korean cinema in the early 2000’s, the first memory we have of Jeon Ji-hyun is probably the same - that of her vomiting over an unsuspecting passengers toupée while riding on a late night train, the memorable part of course is that the toupée was on his head when she did. The scene is from the 2001 movie ‘My Sassy Girl / 엽기적인 그녀’, which not only became a hit in Korea, but became a sensation throughout the whole of Asia, particularly in China. The movie itself spawned an official Hong Kong movie sequel, as well as being re-made in Hollywood.
‘My Sassy Girl’ well and truly marked the arrival of Ji-hyun as an icon of the Korean new wave, a far cry from her original dream of being a flight attendant. Discovered at 16 on the street by a fashion editor, after a name change from Wang to Jeon, perhaps to disguise her Chinese heritage, in 1997 she began a successful modeling career. While she landed a role in the long forgotten 1999 movie ‘White Valentine / 화이트 발렌타인’, it was actually a Samsung commercial for a printer of all things which brought her to the public’s attention. The two minute ad pretty much consists of Ji-hyun dancing and little else, but let it be a lesson on the power of dance, what effect it had on printer sales I’m not sure.