Won Jungyo: Meet the Makeup Artist Behind TWICE
Besides having worked with the likes of Bae Suzy, SNSD’s Seohyun, Kwon Eunbi, LE SSERAFIM and more – this star makeup artist also runs a flourishing K-beauty label of her own.
Won Jungyo is best known as the makeup director of JYP Entertainment’s chart-topping nine-member girl group, TWICE. Over the years, Won has amassed a significant following of K-beauty enthusiasts for her noteworthy work in the industry, and for championing the spread of au-naturel, minimal makeup looks within the otherwise flashy world of K-pop.
Besides being known for her flair for the much-debated ‘aegyo sal’ makeup trend (which highlights under-eye bags, to make them look more prominent), she also runs her own beauty line called ‘Won Jungyo Beauty.’ In addition to working with a premier celebrity clientele and traveling the world for her work, Won also runs a popular YouTube channel where she regularly dishes out K-pop idols’ skincare secrets and makeup hacks, along with exclusive behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes from the music-video projects she’s worked on.
In this exclusive interview with Rolling Stone India for our 2022 K-Music Special issue, Won is fresh out of Twice’s U.S. Tour as she connects with our journalist Oysmita Majumder via voice notes shared over KakaoTalk, right in the midst of her packed day-time schedule. She discusses all about the process of landing a job as a K-pop makeup artist, the dark side to having a career in showbiz, and her K-beauty trend predictions for 2022.
Congratulations on a successful professional stint with Twice at the sold-out, North American leg of the group’s 4th World Tour! How are you feeling right now?
The artists I worked with on this tour, Twice, did a spectacular job – so, needless to say, I’m feeling ecstatic at this moment! Just like this tour, I hope the girls get to see and experience many more successes in the future as well. I will also continue working hard as their makeup artist.
When did you develop this affinity towards makeup? Any major sources of influence for the same?
I have actually had a lot of interest in makeup and beauty since my childhood. When I was a kid, watching singers and performers on TV piqued my interest and my thoughts would often gravitate towards their makeup. Being quite inquisitive by nature, I would wonder how they managed to look so beautiful and flawless on the screen. Over time, I realized that I too wanted to make someone look presentable on-screen like that, all by myself. Naturally, I came to the understanding that the role of a makeup artist in this industry was cut out for me.
Can you also tell us how you got your headstart in this industry?
As I mentioned previously, this field of work has interested me since childhood. I genuinely wanted to carry this dream forward, and pursue it quite seriously. Hence I started studying art, as they say art is a supremely important aspect of makeup. After graduating from art college, I got into an academy to properly learn makeup, for the first time. It was during this time that I also started working at a beauty salon in Seoul, thereby slowly building my way up to a brighter future.
“Adding up every small step that I have ever taken towards turning my dreams into a reality, I realize now that those baby steps along the way have eventually helped me carve my path onwards and upwards to the top and essentially allowed me to reach this worldwide audience.”
And build a brighter future, you have. From Suzy’s Paris Fashion Week show to SNSD Seohyun’s looks in Love and Leashes, and most recently Twice’s U.S. tour to name a few, you’ve been entrusted with the honor of working on some of the most colossal, high-profile projects. Tell me, is there any one project that has been the most memorable to you so far, and why?
I always try to give my absolute best at every point of my life – and for this, I’ve always received a lot of love. I pour all that love, heart and soul out into the projects that I work on, so the makeup stints that I’ve had so far are all precious and memorable to me. However, there have been a few notable projects that have been the most rewarding to me personally. Some projects have been pretty satisfying, yet some have been quite the opposite as well. But from all of these, I would say that Twice’s music-video shoots would be the most rewarding experience for me, always. Music videos usually require more effort, better technique and harder work right from the preliminary planning stages. Considering this as an opportunity to showcase finer skills and having access to a wider, worldwide audience base really is an experience in itself – and one that is absolutely unforgettable!
How would you summarize your industry journey so far – going from being a girl with big dreams, to becoming one of the most successful, in-demand makeup artists in K-pop?
I’ve always stayed true to this dream of mine; of becoming a makeup artist. Ever since I was a child, I have never once been insincere about it. Adding up every small step that I have ever taken towards turning my dreams into a reality, I realize now that those baby steps along the way have eventually helped me carve my path onwards and upwards to the top and essentially allowed me to reach this worldwide audience. The takeaway from this would be that ‘persistence is the key to success.’
Of course, the starting point of my career path as a makeup artist has been no bed of roses either. From being an assistant to the main [makeup artist], it took a very long time to reach here, you know? Taking a different path than everyone else surely takes time to reach your destination, and there are many who give up on their dreams in the middle. Honestly, ours is the kind of job that doesn’t follow specific working hours, nor do we get to have a fixed sleep schedule. Going through such hardships on a regular basis is challenging, so if you aren’t extremely passionate about doing makeup, you would want to give up on yourself. But trust me, after all this struggle, your persistence pays off!
I wholeheartedly agree with that. Looking back, how proud would you say you are of the person you’ve managed to become today?
I really don’t know how to respond to this question, because I think there are a lot of people in this industry who are really skilled, way more skilled than I am. I still think I lack a lot, yet I trust in the process of having a dream and working on it tirelessly. For me, whatever I’ve achieved is not the end, but a progressive realization – a point in my journey towards my ultimate goal. So, from now on, I’ll be looking forward to the bigger picture, while not letting an iota of time that I put into building this dream go to waste. Therefore, I’ll work harder moving forward.
“Taking a different path than everyone else surely takes time to reach your destination, and there are many who give up on their dreams in the middle. But trust me, after all this struggle, your persistence pays off!”
What would you consider as the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Well, I think, isn’t being able to do what you love the biggest reward one can ever get?
Most definitely. And what’s the most challenging bit of it, if any?
Well, our pattern of work, work timings, etc, are very irregular. We don’t even have a fixed day off or any definite arrival and/or leave time at work. All these factors can really affect one’s mental and physical health. However, as I love doing my job, it gives me the strength to bear every hardship that comes along with it.
“For me, whatever I’ve achieved is not the end, but a progressive realization – a point in my journey towards my ultimate goal.”
You seem to have a penchant for the ‘aegyo sal’ look which is heavily reflected in your past work, especially with regards to TWICE. Can you decode this particular K-beauty trend for our readers?
I think the most special one out of all of my [makeup] techniques would be the ‘aegyo sal’ style of makeup. The reason it got famous is because it takes very little time and effort to make your eyes look a little bigger, and your face look a lot younger, all while looking very natural. The main concept of K-beauty revolves around the theme of beauty that looks youthful and natural, hence ‘aegyo sal’ was a massive hit.
Talking about trends, can you name a K-beauty trend that you think will be big within the K-pop industry this year? Anything we can expect to see a lot of, both on as well as off stage?
The trend of K-beauty is steadily evolving towards looking au naturel. It’s not solely focused on looking glamorous or anything elaborate anymore. These days, even idols on stage don’t have much flashy or heavy makeup on, because the focus lies on bringing out their own personality beautifully through minimalistic makeup, which makes them, in turn, look even more prepossessing and radiant.
It’s really refreshing to see this shift. Now, what are your thoughts on male idols in the industry, or men in general opting for makeup?
Just like female idols in the industry, even male idols [rightfully] care a lot about their looks. They also have to put on makeup just as much as their female counterparts do, before going up on stage. If I had to point out a difference, female idols’ makeup is usually more centered around captivating eye makeup, among other things. Male idols, meanwhile, focus on their skin, as in how they can maintain good skin for a long time. They also focus a lot on their lip color, and have an inclination towards contouring while putting makeup on.
“Isn’t being able to do what you love the biggest reward one can ever get?”
Do K-pop idols generally get a decisive say over their on-screen looks, or is their hair and makeup pretty much inflexible from the outset, with limited consideration granted to their individual stylistic preferences?
Since idols these days have quite a lot of experience in what does and doesn’t look good on them while on stage, there are numerous such situations where artists and the stylist teams work closely together on creating their final looks.
What’s your professional calendar looking like at the moment? How many days off do you typically tend to get in a week/month/year?
Our schedule is usually so irregular that it’s not really possible to have a fixed period of vacation or anything even remotely close. So even if we do get time for relaxation once in a blue moon, it’s usually just for a day or two, no more. Our professional calendars are never fixed, and never can be.
What do you think is the significance of hair and makeup in K-pop? How are the elements of styling and visual direction in K-pop unique compared to overseas fashion trends in the music and entertainment industry, and how has K-pop fashion helped South Korea stand out in the global pop space?
Music is the most important element to every musician, but hair and makeup makes them shine when it’s their moment on the stage, in front of the world. As you know, when an artist releases an album or a solo record, it always has a specific concept, and the visuals showcased by the artist helps to represent, or embody that concept in its truest, most authentic sense. This in turn reflects the artists’ personality and aesthetic, and helps in seizing the audience’s attention.
“Even male idols [rightfully] care a lot about their looks. They also have to put on makeup just as much as their female counterparts do, before going up on stage.”
That’s really well put! I’d now like to ask you some questions on the personal front. What was your childhood like?
To be honest, I was quieter and more reserved than most people; someone who was always lost in thought. At the same time, I was highly focused and driven by goals, in the sense that if I ever took up or was entrusted with some work, I’d focus all my energies on finishing it to perfection at any cost.
What is your daily makeup routine like?
I do not really put much thought into my daily makeup. It’s usually something very comfortable. My morning routine is really straightforward with some skin lotion, skin cream and serum followed by sunscreen. I give it a final touch with my BB cream and that’s it, super simple!
Apart from makeup, what are some of your other interests? How do you like to spend your free time?
My number one hobby would definitely be shopping for skincare products. Whenever I have any outdoor or overseas schedules, I like going shopping. On my shopping lists, makeup and skincare products are always at the top. So I’d say that my hobbies are mostly yoga and shopping.
“Music is the most important element to every musician, but hair and makeup makes them shine when it’s their moment on stage, in front of the world.”
Do you have any favorite brands or makeup labels on the international front?
There are so many brands that I like and being a makeup person, it’s really fun to use and create different looks with the help of various makeup products. In this regard, I like a lot of global brands. Especially MAC, Bobbi Brown, Nars and Make Up For Ever – I’d say these are some of my all-time favorites.
Lastly, we’d like to know about your goals and aspirations for the future.
My future plans mostly include continuing to do makeup for people like now, and putting more effort into excelling at it. Also, I want to create new products under my name, for my label; Won Jungyo Beauty.