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Monday, October 17, 2005

Rain, The Interview

Credits belong to www.sexy-bi.net. Quite long, I must say, but a must-read if you would like to know more about Rain. Please give proper credit to sexy-bi and Grace if re-posted:


It’s pretty risky to become a celebrity in Korea. Of course there are times when there will be celebrity scandals, but looking all around the world, I don’t think that there is any other place that delves so much into a star’s personal life and criticizes it so much that one small mistake could follow and hinder a celebrity’s reputation forever. Of course it’s the same in other countries, they have paparazzi and people who do this type of thing for a living, but in Korea, everyone, and anyone, can get involved via the Internet. So, the mid-20’s top star, the star that is so big that even CNN’s “Talk Asia” interviewed him; how does he perceive what his “job” as a star is and how does he go through his own life? I decided to pry him away from the tiny amount of rest time he surely could have used, in order to get answers to these questions.

Time: October 10, 2005 Midnight ~ 1AM

Place: Party after his Hong Kong Concert.

L: I’ll start with some promotional questions. ^^ While the major foreign interest is of “Rain the singer”, the home interest in Korea right now is in “Ji Hun Jeong the actor” in “Love of This Damned Man”(LTDM). Please tell me how you’re feeling about this project.

J: The LTDM project… it’s about an extreme type of love. It’s about…there’s an older brother who has a woman, and this woman is really in love with this brother. His parents force them to break up and misunderstandings begin to arise; for the both of them. The woman still loves the brother; the brother still loves the woman; then the brother falls into a coma and becomes a vegetable. The story is about getting revenge… and I believe that this character will not be showing anything of my true self at all. There will be people, who will enjoy it, and there will be people who won’t enjoy it, depending on their opinions, but it is a character that I have the utmost confidence in carrying off.

L: One fun thing to point out is that, in “Full House” you played a popular celebrity, while you were a popular celebrity yourself…you might say that that was a major part of making the project itself; the same as it was with “Sang Doo, Let’s Go to School”, and while you were approached with the similar, 2nd generation, wealthy son type role, and there were complicating events, you refused it to take on the character of the rough, street fighter. This isn’t a “normal” type of choice, so what do you look for and how do you, Ji Hun, come to decide upon a project?

J: I don’t ever want to work on something solely for monetary reasons. It’s unfortunate that sometimes things just happen to work out in that direction, but I started this because I wanted to act, and later if I happen to film a movie, I don’t want to work on one that is just about the money. I just want to work on things that make me happy, things that make my supporters think, “Ah, Rain has grown in ability enough to act at that level,” projects like that…I can show star quality as a singer and in other ways. CF’s…money isn’t a priority to me right now. It has more to do with self pride now. Self-confidence. That’s what it is. If a project let’s me be true to those things, that’s all that matters.

L: Then, how much a part of Ji Hun Jeong-the actor does the singer-Rain make up?

J: It’s not really making up or sharing, I’m just very happy to be able to do both things that I enjoy. I don’t have to say I have to do this, because I did this, or since I did this, what do I do now; I’m happy because I can do anything I want to do. I didn’t plan out any of this.

L: You’ve never had any formal acting lessons at all have you?

J: No, I haven’t.

L: Then how have you learned acting on your own?

J: Articulation has to be learned. You have to learn how to articulate. You can’t learn acting just from school lessons. You can’t ever “learn” how to act. If you are restricted to the lessons you learn, you’re just a copy cat, mimicking someone else, and I don’t think you can call that your own style of acting. Someone asked me once. Did you take acting lessons? No. Don’t you think you should take some lessons? No. Not at all. I’m fine with the way things are now. Some people might disagree with that, or not, that decision is left up to the audience. I speak and act according to what I feel is right.

L: Then, we can assume that your acting is very instinctive-based; what do you consider the most important part of acting?

J: Sincerity of course.

L: Does the character Bok Gu Kang, in LTDM, have this sincerity you’re talking about? What kind of character do you think Bok Gu Kang is?

J: It’s evil. It’s really evil. He’s an extremely evil person. He rips people apart, he’s not willing to sacrifice everything for one woman. Later, however, he really… this kid, Bok Gu, you feel really sorry for him, women will wonder if there could ever really be a man like him; I want to draw that part of him out. Rich son? That’s all and Gud. But that kind of character is popular. That’s why while I regret not being able to play that, a little…I also believe that this Bok Gu Kang character is one of a lifetime and that might, or might not, ever afford itself to me again. That’s why I wanted to try it.

L: You seem extremely confident about it.

J: Yes. I’m very confident.

L: You say that you’ve never had acting lessons, but it seems like you can learn from watching movies and other dramas while you’re acting the role. Actors frequently reference another actor, or movie character, in their performance. Do you have an actor, or movie character, that you might draw from in LTDM?

J: Of course. There’s a saying. Imitation is the mother of all creation. I think that’s true in a sense. Other actors…for instance I feel inspired when I watch Al Pacino, Robert Deniro and other actors like them perform. For instance, when I saw Al Pacino in “Scarface”, in Florida…I mean, it’s about the drug world there, but Al Pacino’s expression doesn’t change at all. Then he begins to show you these tiny changes, that coldness on the outside, psychological changes and that feeling of longing; these are things that I feel will help me a lot during LTDM.

L: Then how about “Carlito”? That character seems to have a lot in common in the aspect of attacking life head-on.

J: Yes. I have that movie as well. I haven’t been able to watch it yet because of my traveling…but I will watch it when I return to Korea.

L: So, to continue talking about acting, the truth is, I became interested in you the actor, Ji Hun Jeong, because of one particular scene in “Sang Doo, Let’s Go to School.” Before that, I thought you were a Gud actor, for a singer…but the turning point for me was in one scene that you had with Dong Gun Lee. I can’t remember the exact scene, but Dong Gun Lee was in emotionally distressed because he had just discovered something, and Sang Doo was just overjoyed. So you were waving your arms around and being so annoying in front of Dong Gun; I thought you were over-acting at first. As the scene went on, I felt my chest tighten up. Meaning that I knew that he wasn’t acting like that because he was dumb, he was acting like that in spite of the fact that he knew exactly what was going on. He knew that his situation wasn’t a Gud one, but he knew he had to force himself to get through it… that’s the feeling I got. “Full House” was similar; the character was a huge, top star, but he was more painfully affected by his home life then he was due to his own thoughts or his fan’s making him a top star; that’s the way I saw him portrayed by a new up and coming actor. So, there was some sort of consistency even between these two extremely different characters, do you believe that has to do with your own life experiences and feelings?

J: I think I should explain a bit about my acting style to you. The one thing I can speak to you about with the most confidence in my acting is… most people won’t understand what I’m talking about at first. But with a bit of time, people will, just like you, say “Huh?” and be drawn into the character, which is exactly what I want to accomplish through my acting. With Sang Doo, he was distraught because he had a daughter named Bori, and Dong Gun finds out that Bori isn’t Sang Doo’s biological daughter; while he wants to tell him this, he can’t. But this is something I already knew. I thought about what I would do if I was in that situation, and if I was that person, I didn’t think that people would understand if I acted solemn and quiet. In that instance, a person would want to completely fool everyone, not act like he knew something was wrong and perhaps show that side to everyone. So he would be even more boisterous and exuberant, so much that it might look way over zealous than a normal person might be, and since the audience knows that Dong Gun already knows the truth, they might even be able to see another side of Sang Doo and his thoughts and intentions. If I hadn’t tried to get inside Sang Doo’s head at that time, and just perform to help the audience understand, I don’t think that they would have had those feelings. That’s the type of sincerity I was talking about. Even with “Full House”… people say the same thing. Hey, Rain’s character is just like him. Rain’s acting? They made the character to fit him. There are many people who say that, but results came from my staying up many a night to get inside that character’s head, staying up all night reading my lines and thinking, “Hmm, during this part, if I move my had this way, would it be more natural for the character, and worrying about how I should approach my partners. All that thinking and acting finalized in how I saw that character in “Full House.” Not just a man who was flamboyant and popular, but also one that used those things to cover up his pain. That’s the way I approached it.

L: I don’t know how you’re going to take this, but I can’t really believe that people said that about your character in “Full House”. I don’t know if you know this, but there were fans of that series that were saying that Production people and the actors had to make up for some really badly written lines.

J: Ah…I believe that “Full House’ was a wonderful drama. All the staff and the actors went through a lot to complete that series successfully so I would hope that the audience would be a bit more understanding in their opinion. Our director gave Hye Gyo and me a lot of freedom with our lines and adlibbing, which helped a lot with our acting.

L: But you can understand that the people watching might be able to sense some of those similarities. Of course, it can also be considered an advantage that can sense that from you, while being such a young actor, but it can be a hindrance some of the time. How do you feel about that?

J: I agree. So, mmm… how can I put this? When I first started “Full House”, I acted out episodes 1 and 2, but not as myself. In other words, I didn’t show any awkward acting, but tried to portray another type of “Sang Doo”. If, in “Full House”, the character was one that Rain was trying to show as being as outgoing as Sang Doo, I think people would have just ended up thinking that that was the same character as Sang Doo. That’s why even though I heard that I couldn’t act in the beginning, I tried really hard to work things out in a different way. So it turns out that with episodes 4 and 5, and each passing episode, everyone became used to that type of acting. This is the way I’ve pursued my direction and not try to act in the same style all the time.

L: But when you compare just the surface of the actor Ji Hun Jeong to the singer Rain, they seem very different, but you can feel that they’re tied together by something. A certain earnestness perhaps…it’s apparent especially in “It’s Raining”. A star at that level could be a bit more complacent or conceited, but I felt that you were very earnest. The dancing, the song…in that moment, you could have been like “Hey, it’s me, Rain,” and been a bit arrogant about it; how can you not like me when I’m working so hard for you? That’s the way I felt you trying to get your point across. I remember watching “It’s Raining” and feeling that and the anticipation that made the music video that much more memorable. A superstar appears on stage, but the people could care less. The power that you have to satisfy those people is in using that stage, which you make your own. That what I think your character, Ji Hun, is. I think that you set your own levels of limitations. I’m here right now, this is what I have to overcome, that’s why I have to get through this part here and go on…

J: Ah…I’m so glad you asked me that, it really is very hard. Sometimes, I just want to die. I feel like it cuts right down to the bones and as if I could cough up blood. People are always looking for the next thing that Rain will come up with, and they can be like “Eh, that’s all?” But the thing is, before I came out with my second album, people were telling me, hey, that’s it for Rain. That’s what they said. If I think back on it now, sigh…and more than I was afraid, I was like, “Hey, is this all you’ve got…Ji Hun, hey how embarrassing is that? Let’s show them.” I didn’t leave my house for a month. Even when I went to the US, I didn’t go out, I kept thinking about the wall I needed to break down…how would I break the stereotypes that people were used to from me, even with my dance moves. That’s when it came to me, “Ah, why did a dance singer always have to dance? I can be a mannequin. I’ll sing while standing. Let me put on some sunglasses, put on some clothes and create a visual using my name to succeed. In turn, I will only perform live. If I cough up blood, catch a cold, or keel over and die, I’ll do it on stage. That’s when I started wearing sunglasses and standing still. Thank Gudness it matched the style of music, and the results were Gud. But I was still longing for more, even though I got to this level, there was so much more and the road before me seems impossibly long.

L: I think that anticipation is a very attractive quality. But in some ways…what I’m trying to say is that there were probably many roads leading up to “How to Avoid the Sun”. But it was after watching “It’s Raining”…I didn’t think Rain would be able to pull off a follow-up song like “I Do”. I also don’t think that there could be a more powerful song than “It’s Raining” to come out. What do you think?

J: But, (smiling) there is.

L: There is?

J: Well, I had a thought. When I was working on “It’s Raining”, and people listened to the song… they were saying things like “hey, what are you thinking? It’ll flop; that’s what they said. But when they saw the dance, and the visuals, they liked it. Even now, the time to utilize visuals to succeed is gone. Now, the music is more important, even yesterday (at the press conference) we spoke on it; I don’t like to conform to the usual. Whether the album does well or not, I always want to show something at the next level. That’s why I’m going to change the choreography and the clothes. What I mean is, just like I changed the clothing trend with “It’s Raining”, wearing the vest, and changing the trend with a different style, I want to change the trend again this time. If I can do that, there’s your answer. Once you see that, I feel like you’ll be able to agree that this is another way of accomplishing something. You’ll be able to see it the beginning of next year.

L: This is my own opinion, but I feel like the next album is going to be a hugely anticipated event.

J: It’s going to be very…very big. I’m going to stake everything I have and do it on a huge level.

L: How do you compromise on the music part with your Director Jin Young Park?

J: Ah…that, in realty Jin Young Park and I have different opinions when it comes to music. A lot actually.

L: Really?

J: Yes. Jin Young and I have many different opinions. But, we manage to work out a compromise. There is no way to deny Jin Young’s 13 years of vast experience. Even if I had powers like Superman… but I feel that if the both of us can fine-tune everything together, we’ll be at the top of the game. I know what I need, and Jin Young has the know-how…that’s why he finesses the music. That’s how we got “How to Avoid the Sun” and “It’s Raining”. I don’t think that those are the two best songs ever done. But, I do believe they are the satisfying results of the entire staff putting everything they had into them. So the next step will be to make black rice? That’s what I’m worried about… I keep trying to think of the next side of me I can show. I think that it’s within those thoughts that songs are born.

L: Let’s continue talking about music; and this is just one of the many things I encountered while on the Internet, people don’t see you as a dance singer. So, they don’t talk about you so much as a vocalist.

J: That’s true.

L: What are your thoughts on that?

J: OK, first the Gud and bad things about a dance singer…really, everyone is like that. If I had come out with one song and called myself a ballad singer, there might not have been a lot of talk. He’s just a ballad singer; they could have just said, “He’s not a bad singer” and moved on. But if I started out with these kinds of visuals, this kind of dancing, they would say all he can do is dance. That’s the way it could have been. All a ballad singer has to know is how to sing well. All they have to do is sing well and take care of their health condition, but a dance singer has to sing, dance, and be an actor of sorts inside that dance. Then, does one have to sing and act while dancing, ah, then I guess you have to. That’s how I feel. Of course that’s the way things are. That’s the only way to put on a really Gud show on stage. That’s what a dance singer does. But that’s also why I wish people would see dance singers in a bit of a different light. A dance singer has to connect the visual with the song they’re singing, show a complete synergy of the song and the stage show, and think of the package of the dance and the song. I can speak with confidence when I say that I can guarantee that when I perform live, I’m almost never off-key. I also think that there are times when you need to lip-sync. If you can’t get the tone you need when performing live, I think then you can lip-sync in order to show a more perfect, overall performance. You need to be a bit more understanding about dance singers in that sense.

L: So you can say that you perform while understanding all those intricacies about music and the stage, so then how do you treat vocal direction? Usually dance singers, like you, Ji Hn, will work with a famous producer and I would think that the producer would then do most of the directing.

J: Vocal direction… Let me first explain a bit about vocal training; I received vocal training from three people. First it was with someone who used to sing in a chorus, and then Jin Young, but now I don’t take lessons from Jin Young anymore; now there’s a studio in the US that one of Ray Charles’ students started, and I take lessons there. I’ve already learned a lot from many different people in trying to find my own style. But, I don’t think that other people see me that way. They say he’s too much like Jin Young Park. That’s only natural. Look at who’s making the music? But I’m the one who controls my voice. I’m different from Jin Young. Of course, some say, “What, it sounds the same”. To those, I have nothing to say. However, I’m confident, I can say that as much as I shut myself up in the studio and come up with my own choreography, I sing how I want to sing. So, when you combine Jin Young’s music and my voice in that way, the end product is my music.

L: So you’re saying that you direct your own vocalization.

J: Yes. That’s right. It’s embarrassing. I mean to still be under someone else’s influence when I’m up to album 3…?

L: But, that vocalization part you talk about, in your case Ji Hun, you can’t separate it from the dancing. For example, you might have to adjust your breathing in the middle of dancing, there’s a part of the song that you want to emphasize, or you might need to stress a part of the dancing more. Do you take all that into consideration when you come up with the choreography?

J: Really…it’s 100% live.

L: Live?

J: Yes, not the song, but my adlibs. Of course the song is done live. This is because; I dance according to how I feel the dance. Not, ah, this is how I should dance here, but I dance whatever comes to mind while I’m singing. I don’t plan the dancing out so that I’m like, oh, I’m tired here, and so I can rest a bit here. It’s all depends on the flow of things. The same goes for acting, it’s all the same. My acting will change depending on how my partner is approaching me, it all changes with the flow of things.

L: So, you create only the basics and then depending on the situation…

J: I change it up.

L: But while we’re on the subject, the flow of things does seem important, and it’s true that you’re being a talented choreographer is also because you dance so well; but I also believe that the choreography of “How to Avoid the Sun”, and the performance, was able to show off concept of the Mnet Awards Show. It seems to me, like there is this set procedure to your concerts and your choreography. Is there any relationship to your acting?

J: Of course. Everything should have some sort of order. I mean, it’s like when you have to take a test; you study furiously the night before, but a month before that, you were off playing (smiles). I mean…you spoke about anticipation before. If a person is always stressed, other people will be like, this is tiring, and it’s too hard. But, he looks like he can dance, but he’s not? Then when it explodes all of a sudden, that’s what I believe the proper steps to be. I put in some explosive choreography in my concert. Everything was going off everywhere, and turned out to be what I think was the climax. And then we would slow it down for a bit…just like acting, dancing or an entire concert needs to flow and be able to move a person on the inside.

L: That’s why I feel like the star, Rain, can combine the acting and the music into one, and this might sound foolish, but what do acting and music mean to you separately?

J: Acting…was a “job” that I really wanted to do. Dancing, dancing is just me. Singing is something that allows me to dance on a wider scale…how can I put this? It’s my spirit. I release the stress I get from acting, by singing; and I release the stress from singing, by acting. No one understands the charm of this. People who do both should understand me. It’s not like I have a preference for either one, or the other, but what I want to do, me myself; the fact that I need both to create enough energy to be able to carry myself.

L: But those are two things essential to your breaking in the overseas market. First, you move everyone with intimate emotions in dramas, and then overcome that to show how you maintain yourself as a true star by showing off your very powerful dancing and singing.

J: Ah…yes my dancing is very powerful. So if I wasn’t able to dance the way I do, um, I don’t mean to say that I’m a great dancer, but if I was dancing at an even slightly less level, then something else would have had to make up for that. Acting, singing…but since my dancing is better than anything else, I think that foreigners tend to remember that image of me more than anything else. In reality, I was hoping that they would prefer me as an actor. I’m working on achieving the image of a strong star image or a great actor.

L: On a personal note, the thing that moved me about the Hong Kong concert, I mean… it seemed like the response to the actor, Ji Hun Jung, was about the same as when the dramas were telecast at home, it seemed like the singer, Rain, didn’t really have anything to do with the current Hanryu trend. I asked several people who were at the show, and it didn’t seem like they liked you due to the Hanryu trend, or because you had a Korean charm about you. In fact, it seemed more like they held you at the level of a Hollywood star instead. With your music, the music videos, even your great physique; it didn’t have anything to do with your being Korean, but more of a “global star” sense that they get from you. What do you think? Of the response from your foreign fans…

J: Umm…what can I say? Instead of being a part of the Hanryu trend, I want to be in a class of my own. What I mean to say is, I’m Korean, and I have great pride in that, but I think that when I’m in Hong Kong, I’m a Hong Kong artist, and when I go to Japan, I’m a Japanese artist. I want people in other countries to just see me as another artist. Not a Korean one, or a Japanese one, but I want to be the person that advances Asian Culture. I hear that Baek Ji Chang came to the show tonight, and that there were many other Hong Kong stars here last night; they all said that they’d never seen such a performance before. So, they all think I’m crazy (smile) since I’ll suddenly tear my clothing, suddenly stop dancing and singing to laugh hilariously (smile) and act out a scene; I think those unusual things were refreshing to them. I want to use those different sides of myself to bring about a sense of newness to Asians. I want people to be pleasantly surprised as if to be like, “Ah, look at that character that’s come out of Asia. There was never anyone like him before, but now there is..”

L: Not Korean, but Asian, it seems like you have plans worldwide; then is that where you think you’ll end up?

J: Worldwide plans…this is what I think. I think I need to be the best in our country first, and then if I can become the best in Asia, I believe I can overcome the American market as well. Of course, the biggest obstacle for that would be the language barrier. I’ll keep working to become the model for Asians, and I think that once the language barrier is taken care of, the rest won’t be a problem at all.

L: On a personal level, I’m curious Ji Hun; your music is at the core of global image. You could also say that your music is on the same level as the Western trends as well. I think that the fact that that type of music is coming out of Asia, I mean that music that’s at the height of Western Club Culture being introduced to Asians can be a shocking and new. But at the same time, Westerners who originated that type of music can also see it in a different light. How has their reaction been?

J: Well…let me start off by saying this. I was supposed to have collaborated with Lil Kim. Unfortunately, she was sent to prison for perjury. So, we got a call. They were very sorry, but since they had to hurry and drop the album, that they were going to go ahead and used songs that were already finished. They said that they wanted to work with me on the next album. (In fact, Rain’s involvement on Lil Kim’s album was posted on her Official Website) I think that might explain a little bit; Lil Kim is a huge fan of Asian music. She was also able to appreciate the subtle Asian nuances in my dancing. She even liked the fact that I don’t have any eyelids. (laughs) So we were all a little surprised that they were so accepting of us. On the other hand, there has been a great diminishing of discrimination. I think that while they can call a song like “It’s Raining” as being a part of the latest trend in the West right now, they also see it as something very new because of its Asian colors.

L: So they can actually see this being a new way of seeing their own basic trend.

J: That’s right. It’s not officially pop, or a two-step, or an upbeat tempo… they don’t know what to call it; that’s why they’re so drawn to it. They might even want to make their music in the same style…

L: Westerners might feel as if they’re accommodating a newer, mixed form of culture.

J: That’s right.

L: Don’t take this the wrong way, but you know that there are those here that say that you’re just an imitation of Usher, right? They say things like that. That you were lucky to get to Jin Young Park, that you were able to win him over somehow, his success is all due to one debut release… there are people who say these things. What do you have to say to them?

J: I see it like this. Whether they are pro-Rain or anti-Rain, it all helps the artist in the end. But in order to really be a source of strength…you need to acknowledge those that need to be acknowledged overseas. Those who want to criticize me go ahead and criticize. I’m letting it all out on the line right now. I got most of my influence from Michael Jackson. I really appreciate Michael Jackson. I’ve never imitated Michael Jackson, nor have I ever imitated Usher. However, there may have been some similarities in my work. Something of Michael Jackson’s choreography or this particular dance move…those are things that have inspired me. On the other hand, in the US, Usher and Justin Timberlake are also harshly criticized. That they copy Michael Jackson too much. The stage… depending on how you use it, when you try and come up with ideas for that particular stage, it is possible to come up with similar ideas. Of course, there can be a specific motive for that as well. But I don’t make any excuses. I have confidence, and follow my pride; I can say truthfully to those that call me a “fake Usher…” that my work is not the same, as they perceive it to be. Even if I was right next to that person, I would show a completely different performance.

L: Listening to you, you seen to have a tremendous amount of self-confidence.

J: But that confidence could turn into something bad if I overdo it (smile), and I feel that even if you have no talent, you need to have that confidence when you’re on that stage.

L: You mentioned prejudice before, what do you think the harshest form of prejudice to endure is?

J: Ah…that has to be prejudice against me.

L: So, you mean that as a celebrity, you hold your tongue about a lot of things, and the things that get you upset, irritated, and ready to lash out on are…

J: Rumors. They take absolutely ridiculous rumors…they saw something, they heard something… then they talk about it behind your back, I wish that they would just say it. Then, if I really did make a mistake, I would say, “Ah, I’m sorry. I’ll make sure this never happens again.” Or, I would take whatever punishment I deserved. But to not have even been there to see it, but to have such little disregard for someone and just read something and go post that they had personally seen something, heard something…that…just hurts. I try not to worry about it…but that’s what I think. I’m trying my best to entertain all these people and this is how they perceive me…

L: But, the reasons that you’re saying what you want to say right now…is because they’re “Ji Hun’s Sayings” perhaps?

J: Hmmm, yes.

L: If you look at “Ji Hun’s Sayings”, the one thing is, other celebrities will say funny things, and some will say surprising things. But with yours…you know. It feels like you’re reading a book of “The 40 Things You Need to Do to Succeed”.

J: (laughing) That’s exactly right.

L: You seem very grounded too, there were rumors, but there weren’t any real bad scandals either. I absolutely think that that’s an admirable trait about you. The fat that you can still think the way you do, at your level; I think it can be seen as the proof of your confidence. However, have you ever thought that it’s those very things about yourself that makes some people not like you?

J: Yes~ that could be. I really didn’t know, but people were looking for a very human side to me. I want to tell everyone that I am human… that I really on the radio… that if I was like, this is what I think this is about… the people listening would be like, “What is he doing? He thinks that he can say anything because he’s successful. What is that? Sheesh. I thought that a lot of people would think like that. That… Jin Young even said something to me a long time ago, “He’s acting like that since he’s doing so well…” That’s what he said. The person hearing it might not like it. In reality, when I saw that, I thought, “Damn, this is just my dumb luck (laughs). Did I really say something like that?” It wasn’t because I had said something like that, but because I’ve truly believed, and held certain beliefs dear to me during the 10 years I’ve struggled through. I really shouldn’t do this…always be careful of this Ji Hun, this is how I’ve thought. I can only hope that people would be a little more understanding of me (laughs).

L: But, don’t you think you’ve earned the right to be more relaxed now?

J: Oh yes, I REALLY think so (laughs).

L: So, I’m curious about something, it’s hard for anyone to deny that you’re a top star now. I’ve also come to realize, how deep one top star’s struggling can be… being recognized as a star in Asia, I wonder just how far can the strength of the one person who’s become the model to raise the bar for Asian Entertainment go; there may be things you need to forfeit along the way.

J: Yes, you’re right.

L: So, if there was something that you really didn’t want to give up, but had to, and something that you just are not willing to give up on?

J: My pride. My self-respect. The confidence that when I’m on stage, I am the best. Off the stage, I believe I’m more lacking than others. I’m still like “Wow~” when I see other celebrities today. That’s how lowly I see myself. But once I get on that stage, I believe that I am the best. What I need to let go of quickly, and this could be a paradox…but when I talked about how I didn’t want to act just for monetary reasons; popularity, acclamation, to make a lot of money with CF’s…it’s all Gud. But all those things leave you at one time or another. I want to be able to, not just leave those things alone to get away from them, but to choose, on my own, to leave them and get myself in order to say “Ah, Ji Hun Jeong is a great actor. Rain is a Gud singer. He dances well.” That’s how it should be. How much money did he make? He’s really popular. These aren’t the important things. I think I need to forget about those typical star characteristics.

L: Then, the one thing, in a normal life, that you had to give up?

J: A girlfriend.

L: Well that answered my question in one word (laughs), and during this interview, it’s become clear to me that you hold pride and steadfastness about you, in every aspect of your life. The thought that, in this one moment that I’m doing this, I can become the very best, and give everything you have for that. Of course, other stars can be like that as well, but I don’t think that’s such an easy thing to believe and strive for a mid-20-something year old. What meaning does work hold for you? I mean, right now being a top, Asian star is your “job”. What do you think about that while you work…?

J: I… know what it’s like to be hungry. Really. I can still remember what it’s like to starve because I had no money, and it still pains me. If I think about those times, this is nothing. Now, I have to figure out which way to go is the right way; and I have to figure out why I’m doing these things as well. And there’s also this. Later, when Jin Young goes somewhere, and this is speaking sincerely, when he says that, “Rain is Korean. He’s from my homeland,” those people, in that country will say, “Wow~!” You saw it just a little while ago. Hong Kong people learning Korean. That’s the kind of real happiness I get through my work. More than money or success.

L: There are those that might think you’re too engrossed in your work… They might think that you’re missing a certain… enjoyment?

J: Those who don’t know me might think that…but I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I’m unhappier when I’m doing nothing.

L: Ah, I think I understand. --;

J: You know what I mean right? You know what it’s like to be a workaholic right?

L: I know. I totally get what you mean right now. --;

J: If I sit still… oh no… I know I have to be doing something right now.

L: I know I have to move on to the next thing…

J: Not knowing what’s going on… That’s more stressful. I finish one thing, have a drink to relax, and then work again; I think that’s better.

L: Yes. Then, lastly, this is a personal question. This is for us normal 20-somethings who are curious; what personal dreams could someone like yourself, who can be considered to be at a summit in life, have left…

J: (laughs loudly) To be a businessman. I really think that I can be successful at it. The reason I’m learning English is because of the work that I do, it does have to do with the fact that I want to achieve great things through that, but when I get to that certain point… when I feel that I have nothing more coming out of me and I need to earn a living, then if that was the end for me, I can put out a few more albums and still earn a living. But, there’s can be a limit to that and what if I happen to fail; I think that I need to run a business. That’s why I’m learning English, and reading marketing books lately.

L: In some ways, that’s just another goal you’re setting up for yourself.

J: It’s a transition. 10 years from now, another Ji Hun Jeong; Ji Hun Jeong, the CEO could be born.

L: Nothing’s ever finished or perfect in life.

J: Yes. I think so.

L: OK, and then lastly, let’s play an association game. When you hear a word, say the first word that comes into your mind. Hong Kong.

J: Stars.

L: Sang Doo.
J: Me.

L: Mother.
J: Love.

L: Stage.
J: I like it.

L: Netizen.
J: Ah, I like it.

L: You like it?
J: Yes, I like it (laughs)

L: Ji Hun Jeong.
J: Ji Hun Jeong? No idea.

L: A word to your fans.

J: I always hope you remain healthy, please watch LTDM (laughs). I believe you’ll probably be very surprised. I worked very hard on it, so please watch; I really appreciate my fans in Korea. To come to another country like this and support me and lend me your strength…I’m so grateful.

L: Thank you so much. To take so much time out of your resting time…

J: No. This is what I needed to do.

Thanks to: To the Yonsei Psychology Department and Professor Sang Min Hwang for all their help with equipment so that this sudden interview could be accomplished. And to Bi/Ji Hun Jeong/Rain who calmly, and honestly, answered over 30 questions for me during a time when he was done with all his work and should have been resting and enjoying himself at his party; who took time out of his small community to spend over an hour to allow an impromptu interview (while Tyrese and Usher’s manager was walking by!) I thank you.

Interview / Arrangement: KANG/Myung Suk (lennonej@freechal.com)

Thanks to Grace, NY USA and Genevieve @ fanrain.


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