06.15.07 Rain Aspires To Take America By Storm (Great Interview)
Rain, South Korea's reigning megastar, respects Michael Jackson, loves acting and doesn't consider himself sexy. That's what he told us in an e-mail interview in advance of his now-canceled concert, once scheduled for today at Aloha Stadium.
At 24, Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji-hoon, is a major face and form of hallyu, that wave of Korean drama and music. Thanks to his youthful looks, lean frame and smooth moves on stage, he's become a hot commodity in concerts, in films, on TV and on recordings.
He said he is hungry for success in America.
Our questions, and his (translated) answers:
Q. You've been quoted as saying you want to break down barriers and build cultural bridges en route to becoming the first Asian pop star in America. So what's your vision?
A. I believe that whatever I do must begin with a solid foundation — always, just as your building would last long if it stands on a solid base. Whenever I start something, I want it to be small and yet strong at the outset because I have no doubt that then it will eventually lead to a big mountain sitting on a rock foundation. As for recording my music, I'm talking with a few good people. This calls for some serious thinking on my part because I'd like to work with a fine producer. I agonized a great deal when I first had talks going about the U.S. market. I was so lucky, though, as I got an offer from the Wachowski brothers to play in "Speed Racer" which they were to direct personally. I'll keep you posted of further details on this when I get them.
Q. You've become a potent export of South Korea. Your first reaction when you were included as one of Time magazine's most 100 influential people in the world?
A. Being on Time's list made me think that maybe that's what success means. For me, it was something like a miracle because I was used to seeing only political figures featured on TV making such a list. This is real for me now as it has begun to fetch me opportunities and a lot of propositions from America. I think I'm a lucky guy, and that's why I will work harder now ...
Q. You're also a sex symbol, one of People's magazine's most beautiful people. What's sexy to you?
A. I never, ever think I'm sexy. Whatever I do, I just work with a sense of competence. Perhaps that's what people find attractive about me.
Q. What memories do you have about your early years dancing hip-hop? Name a role model.
A. My idol has always been Michael Jackson. I've always respected him and I do still.
Q. You also were a member of a boy band, Fanclub. Who did you try to emulate?
A. Back then I wasn't so much competing with someone as I was trying to overcome hunger, which was most urgent for me.
Q. Which do you prefer, acting, singing or dancing — or a combination of all? And why?
A. I like them all. Can't say which one I like more than the other.
Q. How do you stay fit?
A. I just eat well and work hard. That's all. Being human, I put on some weight at times. Ha ha!
Q. What do you like best about acting?
A. I like acting because it enables me to live someone else's life, pretend to be a rich man even if I'm not in reality, be a businessman even though I don't have a business, be an athlete even if I am not one.
Q. With music, do you link up with melody or lyrics?
A. This question is a contradiction in terms. It's like you are asking me to tell you if I like my mother better than my father or the other way around.
Q. What do you assess as your best feature and why?
A. Well, maybe it's my big smile. Ha ha!
Q. They call you the Justin Timberlake of Asia. Why?
A. When Time put me on its 100 list, I think they likened me to "the Justin Timberlake of Asia" for want of a better comparison. That seems to be on everybody's mouth now.
Q. There's been a buzz that you might record with Christina Aguilera. Look forward to this union?
A. I once did a song with her for a Pepsi ad. At the moment nothing's in the works to involve me and her in any joint project.
Q. Who's your favorite American pop singer now?
A. ... Michael Jackson. I think he is the best artist there is today, although he has been plagued by all sorts of rumors.
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (posted June 15, 2007)