With a dongsaeng who is walking down the same path as her, and dreaming the same dream as her, she is not alone in her celebrity life.
Sandara Park’s youngest brother is Cheondoong of MBLAQ. Although he overflows with charisma on stage, to Sandara Park, he’ll always be like a little kid.
“Cheondoong and I are six years apart. Starting from when he was young I’d carry him on my back and stuff and I always worried about him. Even still, when I see him perform on stage, it’s admirable. Isn’t he cute when he shows off his personal talents on variety shows?”
Cheondoong was added late into the group that Bi produced, MBLAQ. Because of this, he had to work twice as hard.
“Starting from when Cheondoong was young, he wanted to become a singer. He worked even harder than me at learning dance. I think he’s much better than me in terms of musical talent. (Laughs)”
While talking about Cheondoong, Sandara Park’s eyes were filled with love. 2NE1 members even said “Sandara Park is like Cheondoong’s stalker.”
“Cheondoong’s apartment is pretty far from ours so I can’t see him often. It seems like my brother’s busier than me. So we chat online and cam together online everyday. If I look at what Cheondoong is doing through webcam, the other members keep saying ‘She’s like one of his crazy fangirls.’”
A music video production diary written by Sandara herself will take the place of Part 7 of Sandara Park’s Star Diary. She wrote her own subheadings and posted the pictures herself too.
This is Reporter Dara! I see my reporting skills have been recognised by the outside world as well, so I get to be a reporter for the day.
It’s been a hot topic on the net lately. I am thinking of releasing the behind story of the filming of our ‘Try To Follow Me’ (‘TTFM’) music video.
”I’m going to see if you have the potential to be a singer for the last time. Show me your results in a month.”
It was like a ray of light for Sandara who was having a hard time overcoming the sadness of her situation. For the first and last time, President Yang had given her a chance.
”I practised SO hard for a month. CL, Park Bom and Gong Minzy gave me a lot of help as they watched me practise. I made a planning chart and practised until dawn.”
Park Bom taught her things on breathing, pronunciation and where to accent in songs. CL helped with selecting outfits, and Minzy with making choreography.
”At the time, the members pretty much made me up from head to toe. I think it was in spring of 2008, I tried really hard with the thought that it was the last opportunity I’d get.”
President Yang said ”For the first time, I see potential. Practise with the rest” and allowed Sandara to become a singer trainee.
”To tell the truth, I thought that meant I’d become a singer soon after. But I was deluded. I lived as a trainee for a year. There were 6 trainees in YG at the time and I think President Yang was paying close attention to all of us to decide on the best combination.”
Sandara was in a delicate situation for a year. She couldn’t let her guard down after President Yang told them ‘No one knows whether there will be six members or five.’ As time went by, hip hop became a part of Sandara’s life too and she started becoming more and more like the other members.
“Dara, I don’t think you really fit the YG image. How about becoming an actress?”
To Sandara who had even given up her popularity in the Philippines to become a singer, these words came to her as a huge shock. Working with Yang Hyun Seok had seemed like a dream come true for Sandara as she had liked Seo Taiji & Boys and copied their dances and songs from a young age. Sandara got on her plane excited about fulfilling her dream as a singer in Korea, and that under her childhood hero too.
”I was really shocked at President Yang’s words. He was right though. In the Philippines I had a teenager image, and I lacked skill as well as being ignorant about black music. But even so I never even imagined that he’d tell me to become an actress instead. It felt like the hardships had come.”
Back in 2007 when Sandara signed an exclusive contract with YG Entertainment, the singers of YG who were active at the time included highly skilled artists like Se7en, Wheesung, Gummy and Lexy. There were also countless trainees in YG looking to follow their dreams as a singer. It caused some controversy when it was reported that YG was signing Sandara.
”I think people made the judgement that I didn’t suit YG after seeing my image in the Philippines on KBS’ ‘Human Theatre’.”
After initially becoming famous with ‘Star Circle Quest’, Sandara Park began to speed through the highway that was the Filipino entertainment industry. She was even confirmed to appear on 4 programs a week! And as the number of her TV appearances increased, she gained more and more popularity. But some of the unique customs of Filipino broadcasts were difficult to understand for Koreans.
“In order to be a TV star in the Philippines, you had to be active as a couple with a star of the opposite sex who was chosen for you by the broadcast companies. And most Filipino celebrities considered hiatuses deadly to a star’s career.”
Like you have to follow Roman rules when visiting Rome, Sandara faithfully followed the rules of the Filipino celebrity industry.
“To tell the truth, even during ‘Star Circle Quest’, I held on even when things got hard, thinking ‘I’ll be able to relax after this’. But as soon as ‘Star Circle Quest’ ended, I was put into four different programs. Sigh~ I didn’t get a day off for a whole year. I even had to sleep in the car. But I must have a lot of stamina. I was hardly ever sick. (Laughs).”
Sandara Park, who has a huge amount of stamina despite her frail girlish looks, was able to make it through her endless schedule with her optimistic personality. When we saw Sandara smile brightly as she talked about how she made a lot of memories while running around the broadcasts stations to follow her hectic schedule after her debut, we could feel the love and affection she feels towards the Filipinos.
The person that the Filipino broadcast company chose for Sandara to be paired up with for her ‘love team’ was Hero Angeles, winner of ‘Star Circle Quest’. Next to Sandara always stood Hero Angeles.
This is a continuation of 2NE1 Dara’s series of interviews with Asia E.
Sandara Park first entered the entertainment industry in a foreign country, and is the prime example of a Korean returning to Korea to debut in their motherland.
In the time between 2003 when Sandara Park became famous in the Philippines, and her return to Korea, she gained a huge amount of popularity. They say it was to the point that if you didn’t know Sandara Park, you weren’t a native Filipino.
When she returned after being active in the Philippines, Korean fans gave her the nickname of ‘the BoA of the Philippines’.
”Becoming a celebrity in the Philippines was a coincidence. One day my friend suggested I try audition for the Filipino TV station ABS-CBN’s ‘Star Circle Quest’. I decided to try thinking it would be a good experience for me, and the results turned out unexpectedly good.”
‘Star Circle Quest’ is the Filipino equivalent of FOX’s ‘American Idol’ in the U.S.A and MNet’s ‘Super Star K’ of Korea, and was a very popular programme in the Philippines at the time, in 2004.
Although immigrating to the Philippines made her silent after being trapped by the obstacles of culture and language barriers, Sandara never gave up on her dream of becoming a celebrity. Her parents reassured her with promises that once she graduated high school, they’d send her back to Korea again. ‘Star Circle Quest’ was a chance that approached the young Sandara who was counting down the days til her high school graduation.
”I couldn’t speak Tagalog at all at the time. I was the first Korean to audition. I didn’t know anything so everything I did seemed clumsy and awkward. It must’ve seemed like a fresh new image to them at the time. I think I was lucky.”
Sandara. A Korean name meaning ‘wise and intelligent’.
Originates from General Kim Yoo Shin’s childhood name. A singer, and part of 2NE1.
Since she was little, Sandara Park (26) particularly liked cassette players and microphones. The field she was most interested in was ‘fashion’. She liked dressing up as a child and often wore flared pants as was the trend, and finished off the look with a fashionable hat. It may have been that she was subconsciously preparing to become an artist in the future.
”My parents tell me that my favorite toy when I was little was a cassette player with a microphone attached to it. I can’t really remember. (laughs) I knew after seeing a photo of myself. I remember liking clothes though. I’ve had an interest in clothes since I was little. I don’t even know why. It might have been that I had a fun time choosing and putting on different clothes.”
Sandara Park was born in Pusan and moved to Daegu in her third year of primary school. Sandara, who did a very good job as the eldest of looking after her siblings for her working parents, started filling in the ‘future dreams’ column of her student record as ‘Celebrity’ the second she heard Seo Tae Ji’s ‘I Know’.
”Seo Tai Ji & Boys debuted when I was in Year 2. Their music, outfits and dances made me dream of becoming a celebrity. Child actors on TV drove me too. At the time, watching kids my age acting on TV made me think ‘Man, I wanna do that too’.”