Krystal Jung Is Chained To The Rhythm

Catching up with f(x) alum and actress Krystal Jung

Critically lauded albums, impressive awards hauls and a major Asian tour—f(x) had a chokehold on the K‑pop scene since it debuted in 2009 with its catchy digital single La Cha Ta. Its near‑revolutionary take on dance music—a bizarro blend of electropop, synth‑pop, art pop and EDM—put it in a league of its own and landed the initial five‑member girl group on a number of “Best of the Decade” lists by reputable international titles such as Billboard.

RALPH LAUREN blazer, vest, shirt, trousers, boots, RL 888 top‑handle bag

It was well en route to becoming the next global phenomenon—some would argue it already was—when the unthinkable happened. Shortly after All Mine, its 2016 single released through SM Station (a digital music project by South Korean record label SM Entertainment, home to the girl group), f(x) was put on hiatus and has only reunited once since—for the SMTown Live concert in Tokyo in 2019 (except member Victoria, who had a scheduling conflict). It was a decision that blindsided not only f(x)’s ardent fandom MeU, but also the members themselves, as none of them had expected 4 Walls, the group’s fourth studio album released in 2015, to be their full‑length swansong. Years went by and although the fate of the group remains uncertain (all its members have parted ways with SM Entertainment, though there has been no official announcement that the group has disbanded), fans are still holding out hope for a comeback—a wish shared by f(x) lead vocalist and our cover star Krystal Jung.

RALPH LAUREN sweater, dress

Her recent interview further fanned the flames when she disclosed that the f(x) members have a group chat where they regularly talk about their whereabouts. While she admits to getting choked up seeing other acts getting another shot at performing, the South Korean‑American singer does not seem to be in any rush to pursue a solo music career, citing her packed schedule and not having the right materials as the reasons why she has not made her return to the stage yet, no matter how badly she wants to.

Instead, Jung has been keeping busy burnishing her filmography credentials. Apart from scene‑stealing turns in K‑dramas such as The Heirs (2013), My Lovely Girl (2014) and The Bride of Habaek (2017), she has made big‑screen appearances in works ranging from documentaries (2012’s I Am) to romantic comedies (cue 2018’s Unexpected Love). Notably, her multi‑layered turn as the lead protagonist To‑il in Choi Ha‑na’s 2020 directorial debut More than Family led to a Best New Actress nomination at the Baeksang Arts Awards, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards ceremonies honouring excellence in film, television and theatre, in 2021.

RALPH LAUREN blazer, trousers

And if her performances in follow‑up projects are anything to go by, we will likely be seeing Jung at such events again, rubbing shoulders with cinema’s finest creators. Her latest endeavour, the black comedy Cobweb, for instance, sees the 29‑year‑old holding her own against screen legend Song Kang‑ho. In this riotous, film‑within‑a‑film feature by prolific auteur Kim Jee‑woon, Jung plays a rising actress who goes toe to toe with Song’s character, a director fixated on the idea of reshooting the ending of his finished film but is faced with interference from both the censorship committee and the protesting cast, which throws the set into pandemonium.

While she delivered a committed, full‑on meta performance as an aspiring actress in the 1970s South Korean entertainment industry, Jung shares that playing the feisty Han Yu‑rim came with its own set of challenges. In preparation for the role, Jung had to study old movie clips and work in tandem with a coach to emulate the acting style of that era, particularly the accent and the body gestures. There was also stunt work that demanded a lot from the star.

RALPH LAUREN blazer, vest, shirt, trousers, RL 888 top‑handle bag

But all the hard work paid off in spades—the film received a 10‑minute‑long standing ovation as well as rapturous critical reception upon its debut at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. There to witness it all and celebrate with fellow cast members was Jung, who brought Old Hollywood glamour to the red carpet in an opulent pink satin gown from Ralph Lauren. It marked her first appearance at the prestigious event—a head‑turning one, no less—and no doubt signalled a bright future for Jung as a starlet rising to claim her status as a serious thespian.

Photography CHEE WEI
Art direction MARISA XIN
Fashion coordinator MANFRED LU
Photography assistants FANG YUAN, HUANG CHI
Styling assistant LAURA LOUIS
Shot on location at CAPELLA SINGAPORE