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Rain Tests His Own Boundaries

2008/10/28 | 106 views | Permalink | Source

By Han Sang-hee
Staff Reporter

One of the busiest stars in the local entertainment business would be none other than singer and actor Rain. The 27-year-old star has a new album out, is waiting for the release of his recently finished Hollywood film "Ninja Assassin" and is appearing for local fans through talk shows, music programs and radio shows. Amid his hectic schedule, he never misses a workout routine and dance practice, as it was his diligence and passion that helped pave his way from "hallyu" or Korean wave star to up-and-coming actor in Hollywood.

"I was so tired both physically and mentally, but I feel back at home now. I see that many fellow singers have made their comeback and I'm happy to be working with them. It feels like a festival and I am planning to enjoy every minute", he told The Korea Times through an email interview.

If the mark of an artist who has reached a certain level is confidence and control over his art, Rain demonstrated them with his return. In interviews, Rain was a smooth talker, oozing wit and confidence. His dance moves are markedly more controlled, gone were the powerful exertions and assertions, replaced with a more controlled pace.

"As you can see from the title of the album `Rainism', all the ideas were from me, Rain. I wanted to show my style, what I could do best. I think an artist's mission is to come out with something new. I also worked on my vocals because I didn't want to be known just as a dance singer. I broadened my pitch and worked on my voice with three vocal trainers", said Rain.

At the showcase of his return earlier this month, it was evident he had practiced some new moves as well.

"I aimed for a more flexible and natural style. I had some kind of obsession that I had to show everything I've got on stage, which made my moves a bit rigid. But now, I understand the art of `less is better', so my moves are more relaxed", he added.

There is always a flipside to the glamour and fame, and for Rain it was arduous training. He started out as a trainee under famed singer and producer Park Jin-young, also known as JYP who created the Wonder Girls, and after three years of rehearsing and preparing, finally came into the spotlight with his powerful dance moves and appealing voice. Album by album, he rose to stardom and made headlines by being voted number one of the most influential people in the world in a Time magazine online poll, which eventually led him to a small role in the Wachowski brother's movie "Speed Racer" and the lead role in "Ninja Assassin".

"To be frank, life in the United States was very difficult. Not being able to eat what I wanted and training for more than 10 hours a day for eight months was hard to endure. I continuously asked myself `why am I here having such a hard time? I could have led an easy life in Korea. But then I thought 27 was an age when I could try out starting over again and so I clenched my teeth and trained harder", he said.

"Speed Racer" didn't do too well at the box office, but it was his hard work on the set that landed him the leading role in '"Ninja Assassin". Also, there was always Asia that still remembered him as a singer who could dance and sing like no other. Realizing the need to return to his original fan base, he came back with a surprise: his first album after parting with his dear friend and producer JYP. While some may notice a difference in style and concept under his new production team and agency, Rain believed it was appropriate to bring something new to the table.

Although Rain has become one the best dancers in the local pop scene, his position as a newcomer in Hollywood meant going back to the starting line.

"Filmmaking in Hollywood was a memorable experience and I'm sure it will become a great platform for my future. To be honest, my English is far from perfect. When I needed help, I admitted that I did and everyone helped out. I'm pretty good at listening, but there are still times when I suddenly go blank right when I have to say something", the singer said.

Rain is not the only Korean to have starred in a Hollywood movie, nor is he as famous as others. Actress Kim Yoon-jin made it big as one of the stars of the hit television series "Lost", and actor Park Joong-hoon co-starred with Tim Robbins in the movie "The Truth About Charlie" (2002).

Some liken Rain's popularity to a bubble: it's getting bigger, but no one knows when it's going to pop. The singer said that he felt a bit pressured and nervous when he decided to go to that next level, but he soon forgot these feelings when he actually jumped into it.

"I'm actually very proud of my role in `Ninja Assassin'. I believe my hard work paid off", he said.

For a 27-year-old with six years in the music business, Rain has come a long way. He knows the life he's lived is unlike that of a normal 20-something. In a recent appearance on a popular television talk show, Rain talked openly about what motivated him to work and work: his mother who passed away. The show offered a different side of the so-called world star, and he admitted that he was doubtful whether he spent his twenties to the fullest.

"I had no idea I would come this far. As a trainee, my goal was to become number one in a K-pop chart program. When I topped the charts, I wanted to be the winner at the year-end K-pop awards and from there, my dreams just grew bigger. I think it's good to set your goals as high as possible. I set a dream, worked hard and they all came true", Rain said.

"The biggest competition is myself. I am not looking to follow others or pull them down. I'm planning to test my own boundaries", he added.

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