Jeon Jong Seo: her early career, acting breakthrough, notable roles, and future plans

Jeon Jong Seo in Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area

Jeon Jong Seo (전종서 in Korean) is a South Korean actress who has been making waves in the film industry both domestically and internationally in the last few years.

Born on July 5, 1994, in Seoul, South Korea, Jeon’s journey into the world of acting is as fascinating as the characters she portrays on screen.

Jeon Jong Seo’s early life and acting career

Jeon’s early life was somewhat a blend of cultures because, as a child, she moved to Canada with her family, where she attended middle school.

Her family returned to South Korea while Jeon Jong Seo was still in high school where, after graduation, she majored in Film at Sejong University.

Her university career did not last too long, however, before the would-be actress decided to drop out and pursue a professional acting career.

A decision that proved to be one of the best decisions she ever made, and quite quickly.

 Jeon Jong Seo’s breakout role

Interestingly, while many South Korean actors take supporting roles in various dramas and films for a few and sometimes many years before ever being noticed, Jeon Jong Seo was different.

She went on her very first audition in late 2017 for a role in the mystery film Burning and, surprising to her and just about everyone else except director Lee Chang Dong who thought she was perfect for the part, she landed the lead role of the free-spirited Shin Hae Mi.

Burning went on to be critically acclaimed both nationally and internationally, even being presented at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, while Jeon Jong Seo received nominations for Best Actress from several high-profile awards ceremonies.

She was awarded the Best New Performer prize for her performance in Burning at the Asian Film Critics Association Awards.

Jeon Jong Seo’s film roles from 2020 to the present

Following the success of Burning, Jeon starred in the film The Call, with her performance as the truly horrible Oh Yeong Sook earning her a Baeksang Arts Award for Best Film Actress.

In the movie world, she also went on to star in Nothing Serious in 2021, followed by a starring role in the ultra-violent smash-hit action film Ballerina, which streamed on Netflix last year, and showed just how incredibly versatile the actress is when it comes to playing disturbed characters.

Jeon Jong Seo in the Netflix action film Ballerina

Jeon Jong Seo and K-dramas

In 2022, the then-27-year-old actress moved into K-dramas, and proved quickly she seems to have a knack for choosing dramas that will be massively popular.

She first starred in the Korean adaptation of the Spanish Netflix hit Money HeistMoney Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area — in 2022, followed by its second part later in the year.

She also played a lead role in the TVING mini-series Bargain the same year alongside Jin Seon Kyu and Chang Ryul.

Jeon Jong Seo in this year’s Wedding Impossible — photo courtesy tvN

But it was this year’s Wedding Impossible that showed Jeon Jong Seo can also play an empathetic female lead in a romance drama, rather than the more edgy roles she was quickly becoming known for portraying.

Wedding Impossible went on to be a solid hit for tvN, and for the actress and her co-stars Moon Sang Min and Kim Do Wan.

Jeon Jong Seo’s future acting plans

After all this success in just a handful of years, it also appears Jeon Jong Seo’s acting career will continue to flourish in 2024 and beyond.

Currently, the Korean actress is set to star in her first action-period drama project with TVING’s new original series Empress Woo.

The series will revolve around an empress who fights to secure the throne after her husband, the emperor, passes away unexpectedly, with Jeon taking the role of Woo Hee, an empress of Goguryeo.

The K-drama is currently scheduled to premiere later in 2024.

There have also been rumors for almost a year now that she will be starring in Bargain, Season 2, but no word about that has been forthcoming in a while.

Whatever new project Jeon Jong Seo chooses to work in, however, you can all but guarantee it will be something interesting and, very likely, a type of role she hasn’t tried before.

You can watch the talented Korean actresses performances in Wedding Impossible on Viki, in Money Heist: Korea on Netflix and in Ballerina on the same streaming platform.

About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered anime, manga, K-drama and music news for over a decade.