Cho Yeo-jeong (born February 10, 1981) is a South Korean actress. She is best known for her leading roles in the period films The Servant (2010), The Concubine (2012) and Parasite (2019) as well as starring in the television series I Need Romance (2011).
Cho Yeo-jeong debuted as a CeCi Magazine cover girl at the age of 16 in 1997, and began actively acting in 1999. Despite appearing in drama series, music videos, and TV commercials afterwards, she remained obscure. During this period, she was also unhappy with the limited roles being offered to her.
Then Jo rose to the spotlight in 2010 by starring as the ambitious Joseon woman of low caste in the erotic period drama The Servant. The R-rated movie, which was a newly adapted and tragic version of Korea's famous folktale The Story of Chunhyang, had been turned down by a few actresses because it contained too many sex scenes. Jo, however, took advantage of the opportunity and it turned out to be a huge stepping stone in her career. Upon the release of the film, Jo successfully escaped being "another pretty face" in Korea's entertainment scene.
In 2011, Jo starred in hit cable series I Need Romance, a sexually frank and funny comedy about a group of single thirty-something girlfriends navigating the dating scene in Seoul, which boasted stylish and slick production values.
Few would have expected her to star in another period drama that requires full nudity, as doing so may stigmatize her in Korea's film industry ― where most young actresses still stay away from nude scenes as much as possible. Despite the collective concerns expressed by the local media outlets that she was "going nude too often," in 2012 the actress chose another period thriller with explicit sex scenes. She had admired the work of director Kim Dae-seung and wanted to work with him, so after reading his latest script, she pursued being cast as the complex titular character of The Concubine. The film proved her fine taste in roles when, despite the hype, it was well-made and critically praised. In an interview for the film, Jo said that most of all, she wants to be seen as an adventurous and intriguing actress.
In the 2012 romantic comedy series Haeundae Lovers, she played the bright and cheerful daughter of a Busan gangster, who falls in love with the amnesiac undercover prosecutor living with them. A year later, Jo's book Healing Beauty was published, containing tips and advice on health and beauty, based on the know-how she's amassed as an actress over her 16-year career.
In 2013, Jo became involved in a publicized contract dispute when she signed a new contract with Bom Entertainment while her contract with Didim531 was still in effect. The Corea Entertainment Management Association suggested that Jo avoid working with both agencies, and she joined Neos Entertainment in 2014.
Jo starred in two movies in 2014. She reunited with director Kim Dae-woo (The Servant) in another erotic period film, this time set during the Vietnam War, titled Obsessed. She also played an abducted wife in The Target, a remake of French action-thriller Point Blank.
In 2015, Jo starred in the sex comedy Casa Amor: Exclusive for Ladies, which made her realize "how gratifying it is to see people laughing because of me." She said further, "Casa Amor: Exclusive for Ladies is the first film I've done in a long time whose story focuses on women. I hope that, building on the success of this film, more films featuring women's voices and experiences are made."