One of the most beloved names in the Korean makeup world is Hong Hyun Jung. A woman who has worked with some of the top celebrities in Korea, as well as many foreign stars, the makeup artist recently launched her own YouTube channel entitled Hong’s MakeuPlay.
With charming and informative videos that give Hallyu fans a glimpse into both the K-beauty world and the lives of Korean celebrities, viewers have fallen in love with Ms. Hong’s posts which range from makeup recommendations to casual chat sessions with megastars like Lee Hyori as they get their makeup done for events.
Laidback, friendly, and truly excellent at her work, Ms. Hong— who has worked both in the USA and Korea— continues to be in high demand in the makeup and fashion world, while fans love her for her down-to-earth attitude and personable charm. She has worked in everything from TV and film to fashion shows and photoshoots, working with numerous brands like Gucci, Fendi, and Alexander McQueen, magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, VOGUE, and Cosmopolitan, as well as prestigious events like New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week.
While most K-pop idols already give fans an in-depth look into their private lives through vlogs and videos, the lives of actors, models, and other celebrities in Korea remain somewhat more secretive. Thanks to Ms. Hong’s new channel, however, fans can enjoy a closer look into the backstage preparations of Korea’s biggest stars— all while learning more about makeup and K-beauty products.
To get to know this talented artist, read on for our exclusive interview with Ms. Hong of Hong’s MakeuPlay.
WTK: Thank you for allowing us to do this interview with you. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell them how you first got started in makeup?
HHJ: I’m Hong Hyun Jung. I live in Seoul, South Korea and work as a makeup artist for advertising and magazines. I work with Korean celebrities, and also, I love animals and nature. I work hard and live an ordinary life. I started makeup when my friend recommended it to me while in college. I’ve been doing art as a hobby since I was little.
WTK: You’re one of the few makeup artists in Korea that also does hair. How did you decide to do both?
HHJ: In the past, a lot of people did both. I was trained that way from the beginning. Nowadays, they’re mostly separate. I’m the last of the former generation. Currently, I focus more on makeup as well.
WTK: As someone who worked in New York as a makeup artist, what was the biggest difference between working in the USA and working in Korea? With such different makeup styles, was it hard to change things up to match your location?
HHJ: The biggest difference is the diversity in the market, as well as just with people’s races. Compared to New York, Seoul is of course smaller and has less diversity. It’s really too bad. Makeup depends a lot on diversity.
South Korea tends to have a larger trend that leads their overall style. But what’s interesting is that in the high fashion world, makeup that brings out natural skin tone is important. So in that sense, there are similarities between the two places as well.
WTK: You have worked with so many amazing celebrities, both from Korea and abroad. Who are some of the people you enjoyed working with the most?
HHJ: It’s interesting. In any field, people who are really on top are extremely nice and very open-minded. Maybe that’s how they got to the top! I remember especially Lee Hyori, Gong Hyo Jin, Tilda Swinton, Ryoo Seung Bum, and the supermodel Song Kyung Ah.
WTK: Fans are really loving your YouTube videos! What inspired you to open your own beauty channel?
HHJ: YouTube seemed so far away from me. At first, I thought of it as a world for younger people. Then I started to think about how I wanted to teach more through my experiences on the job. Then I realized that I didn’t necessarily have to teach only in lecture halls. So, I made the channel with the photographer Kim Tae Eun in order to upload my tutorials. Inspiration seems to be too fancy of a word to call it.
WTK: As someone who already has such a busy schedule, is it not difficult to maintain a successful YouTube channel as well?
HHJ: Making videos for YouTube isn’t totally foreign to me. I always did work like this for other people and other brands, but this time, I’m doing it for my own channel and under my name. So, it’s not that difficult to arrange everything except when my schedule is just really busy.
WTK: You’ve always worked with so many amazing celebrities, from Korean actors like Jung Il Woo and Lee Byung Hun to American stars like Alexa Chung and Mia Wasikowska. Is there anyone else you would really like to work with as well?
HHJ: (laughs) That’s a fun question! I have so many: Kim Taeri, CL, Kim Sung Ryung, Jennie, Nana…
WTK: You seem to work primarily with actors and models. However, if you had to choose to work with an entire idol group, who would it be?
HHJ: BLACKPINK? (laughs) I heard that one of my junior makeup artists is working with BLACKPINK, so I was a bit jealous.
WTK: In the video you filmed with Jung Il Woo, you talked about the challenges that can often happen during photoshoots that take place outside of the studio. Was there a particular shoot you found especially difficult?
HHJ: Things like the photoshoots [I did] in Egypt were difficult because of the sandstorms in the desert. It was also difficult for photoshoots where I had to carry a backpack and make my way through valleys, tall grasses, and cliffs. Outdoor shoots in winter are also challenging. However, when time passes, they all become great memories.
WTK: In contrast, what was your favorite shoot or location?
HHJ: The fashion shoots I’ve done in Mongolia, Peru, India, Africa, etc. The nature and the people were all so beautiful, and it really inspired and provoked my thoughts. Sharing emotional moments with the models and other staff members… it’s all very happy memories.
WTK: Taking care of your skin is also an important part of makeup. What can you tell us about your own skin care routine?
HHJ: My skincare routine is really minimal. I think self-regeneration is important for skin too, so I never use many steps for skincare. My routine is very minimal— like a toner and a moisturizer. In the winter, I just use face oil. I also use minimal amounts of eye cream. When I use a moisturizing cream, I don’t even bother to use eye cream. [Instead], I just eat a lot of vegetables and pass peaceful times, such as walking my dog. Everything comes from daily living patterns.
WTK: What are some of the essential makeup products you can’t live without?
HHJ: A good moisturizer, sun screen, blush and lip balm. Not much to it, right? (Editor’s Note: Check out the video below to see which products are Ms. Hong’s favorites from March!)
WTK: Many of our readers can’t afford to spend a lot of their budget on expensive makeup. What is one great and inexpensive makeup product you would recommend to everyone?
HHJ: Before going to a shoot, I drink coffee and walk my dog. After the shoot, if I don’t have any plans, I come back home and walk the dog or go shopping. Then I have dinner in peace. That’s my favorite. Before going to bed, I read a little or watch a movie. Also, not much to it!
WTK: What’s the best beauty advice you’ve ever received?
HHJ: This is my bible— Be yourself. Be confident
WTK: In closing, do you have any last words for our readers?
HHJ: [Through my channel], I want to show you a lot of things and share my many experiences on shoots. There is still a lot for me to improve on, but please stay with me for a long time. I want my channel to be like a relaxing break for viewers.
Many thanks to Ms. Hong for taking the time to answer our questions and for giving us further insight into the fascinating world of celebrity makeup and photoshoots in Korea. You can see more of her work on her official website, as well as on her Instagram account. In addition, don’t forget to click here to subscribe to her YouTube channel! With so many great behind-the-scenes videos, tutorials, and more, you don’t want to miss out.
Are you a fan of Ms. Hong and Hong’s MakeuPlay? What is your favorite video on her channel? Did you learn anything new about her today? Make sure to share your thoughts by tweeting to us @whatthekpop1!
Media: Hong Hyun Jung