“I totally like her!”
You totally like that person? When you say you like someone, it’s not easy to simply summarize and say it like this. But we’ve heard these words about her many times. Regardless of age, she’s overflowing with aegyo (cuteness), sexy and bright, so it’s no wonder that men like her. But among young women and middle-aged women, there are many who say these words about her. So when we ask about the reason why they are a fan because we are curious, they all uniformly say this. Because she’s honest. We like her because she’s honest!
What do you think is the reason you receive love across generations?
I often hear that I’m exactly the same as my normal self, whether I’m performing or on broadcasts. I think people look at me favourably because I’m plainly honest. Elderly people tell me that they’d like me to be their daughter-in-law or daughter, and there are many female fans who tell me that they’d want me as an older or younger sister. After appearing on variety programs, my fan base has become diverse, and a lot of younger people like me.
It seemed like there were lots of good and bad.
When I debuted with “Love Battery”, I heard this often. One reason was because I was a young person who appeared in the trot genre, and when I did variety promotions in the early days, working and trying hard because I was a rookie came across like I was trying too hard and stood out, so it didn’t come across well.
Are there any times when you incur damages or problems because you’re too honest?
When I lie, you can see it on my face right away. So I try not to lie at all. Since I didn’t do anything wrong, I just say everything honestly. Even if damaging incidents occur, it doesn’t matter. To date, nothing like that has happened, and now, people know what my personality is like, and it’s a big reason why they like me, so I don’t think I have any reason to be dishonest going forward. (Laughs)
The reaction to your appearance in was good. What do you think your real married life will be like? When you marry, what kind of housewife do you want to be?
I think I will be almost the same as the appearance that was shown on . When I get married, more than anything, I want to become a firm mom. I want to educate my kids well, especially when it comes to manners. I want to be able to listen well to what the kids want, but also want to be a strict mom from time to time. I also want to be a wife who is good at assisting my husband.
As expected, with a lot of aegyo?
Aegyo is fundamental. (Laughs)
If there’s an aegyo method unique to Hong Jinyoung?
Should I say it’s hereditary? My mom has a lot of aegyo, and she still calls my dad ‘honey’. They both meet to go to dinner together and their relationship is very good. I frequently saw my mom showing aegyo since I was young, so I’ve naturally gotten used to it.
If there’s a goosebump-inducing aegyo that they both showed recently?
My dad is a bit straitlaced. So they don’t show a lot of it in front of their children, but my mom said this last time. Ah, but am I allowed to say this? Won’t I be scolded… My mom was washing the dishes and she said dad gave her a back hug. (Laughs)
What is your ideal type in a man?
I like plain people who make me comfortable when we’re together. I don’t need psychological warfare and ‘push and pull’, I just want a comfortable person who knows my heart well. It doesn’t matter if they talk a lot, or if they talk little. If they talk a lot, we can talk together, and if they don’t talk a lot, I can chat. I just wish our personalities will be compatible, and that we can have good conversations. I also hope they are someone who can plan and have restraint for the future, and doesn’t just look at and calculate what’s in front of them. Suppose they earn a million won (approximately $1000 USD), I hope they know to use half for now and save half for the future, for example. When it comes to everything, I like men who think deeply and are mature.
What are your plans or intentions for marriage?
I don’t know when I will marry, but I feel like I could get married suddenly. I don’t yet have thoughts or plans of a timeline for marriage or that I want to get married, but if there’s a person who I love to the point I can give up my work, I think I can get married immediately.
We think your personality is very optimistic and bright. Are there any times when you’re not like that, or are depressed?
Personality-wise, I tend not to get stressed. So I’ve never been depressed without a reason. I’m sad when I’m sick, when I can’t eat well because I’m too busy due to work, and when I can’t eat because I need to lose weight. Because I always work to eat. (Laughs)
Since the topic of food came up, are you good at cooking?
I’m good at making steamed short ribs, I’m good at making stir fried chicken and pork, and I’m at making most stews. I can make good pan fried meat, and pumpkin pancakes or kimchi pancakes are too simple, so I don’t even think I need to say it. (Laughs) My mom is really good at cooking. At holidays, if my mom made pancakes, I would follow along and make them too, and I think learning from watching this has helped a lot.
If you live alone in Seoul, you must miss your family and home-cooked meals.
My parents come up to Seoul once a month. So I tend to see them often. My mom comes often because of side dishes, and every time she comes, I gain weight. I eat really well. (Laughs) But the dish that comes to mind most when I’m sick is duck stew. My mom makes incredible duck stew. My body must not be well today because I really want to eat the duck stew that my mom makes.
“Before I get on stage, I put on makeup. I put on mascara to create the shape of my eyes, I tie all of hair up like the singers from many years ago to bring out the glamour. I sing while wearing an open-back dress and making elegant gestures. I try doing aegyo that matches with the delightful rhythm. People enjoy watching that look of mine, so they start cheering. But the hearts that they have for me could be for another look of mine, not necessarily for the dressed-up look. Then, what do I want to show them…”
You could have debuted as an idol or an actress.
I sang 5 songs at my audition. I sang some normal and dance songs, at the end I sang “Flower” by Jang Yoon Jung. My present CEO and vice-CEO heard it, and suggested that I should do trot. I ran away from that suggestion for half a year because I didn’t want to do it. (Laughs)
So what made you decide to sing trot?
My CEO was very good at convincing me. He said that the trot that I thought of is not that old, it has become very young now, and it will continue to grow younger in the future. So “Love Battery” debut in 2009 was the movement (that he talked about). At that time, many young people have advanced to listen to trot, and at music programs there were some trot teams. He also said that trot singers now do not just sing on stage, they can influence people and participate in many activities. That was how he convinced me. I was very touched after listening to him. I made my decision because of his words, and I think it was a very good decision becoming a trot singer.
What is the charm of trot?
People of all ages can sing trot very easily and together enjoy the atmosphere. I think trot can create an atmosphere like that and even if time passes by, there are trot songs that people still love to sing, it’s the charm of trot.
What is your favorite singing song? What kind of music do you listen to when you rest?
(Singing) “Why~ Do you not know me~” I like the song called “You Do Not Know” by Choi Sungsoo sunbaenim. I enjoy listening to piano or violin when I want to rest. Oh wait. Why are you guys laughing? (Talking to her staff) I really like listening to instrumental songs. (Smiles) It’s good that I can listen to melodies without thinking of anything. Recently I listen to “Last Carnival” a lot. I also like “Top of the World” by the Carpenters, I also like music by artists like Eric Benet…I especially like songs with piano instrumentals incorporated.
Who do you look up to? Or a sunbae you respect?
Joo Hyunmi sunbaenim. But honestly, it’s impossible to just choose one person. There are so many sunbaenim who actively promote even though they have aged. I like how they enjoy singing and promoting without caring about their popularity. Even if time passes by, I respect that unchanging personality of them and try to take after them.
I feel like Jinyoung will become like that too.
I think so too. (laughs)
“The dream that I sincerely wanted since I was young. I never gave up once, and I never went a day without having that dream, so the dream has come true. Now that she has become a singer, Hong Jinyoung can’t help but be happy. She says complaining about only sleeping 3 hours a week and having a tired body to go on stage is like making a fuss about being too full. Now as she gets older, she’s dreaming of showing the same side of her without changing, and being a sunbae who opens a new path in the world of trot for hoobaes.”
What do you think is a condition for a successful life?
It’s life that I’m satisfied with. Life where I’m happy today and I’m curious and excited about tomorrow. Isn’t that what happiness is? Even if my body is tired and it’s difficult, if I can be happy each and every day, I think that’s a successful life. I’m happy when I stand on stage, I’m happy when I’m shooting like this, and there are times when I can only sleep 3 hours a week because there’s a lot of work, but if I can be happy, I think that is a very successful life. (Laughs) But if I don’t love work and if I can’t enjoy it, I will be unhappy. At that point, I think it’s would be right to pursue other work.
Do you think you will be unhappy doing something else other than being a singer?
I think so. I haven’t thought of doing anything else rather than singing. I wanted to become a singer since I was little. I just really liked singing and appearing in front of people. That’s why I was in charge of entertainment in class, MC-ed the show and sang when we went on student trips. I called into radio broadcasts and sang. I also won at singing contests and received prizes, I received a microwave before. I loved it! (Laughs) Since then, there wasn’t a moment that I thought of being something else rather than a singer. So I became a singer and living the dream of my life. If my body is tired and it’s difficult and makes me sad, that is not work that’s meant for me.
Jinyoung has achieved her dream by sincerely wishing for it.
That’s very true. I feel like if you sincerely look and draw your dream everyday, the reality will become that dream eventually. I am undoubtedly that case. I really wanted to become a singer. I thought that “If it’s not singing, I won’t do anything else!”. I am the kind of person who thinks “I will continue trying until I succeed”. At the beginning of my career, I debuted as a girl group member and failed within 2 months. I was so embarrassed I couldn’t even return home. But I gained self-esteem. I performed on public stage once or twice, so I thought now that the knife has been drawn, I might as well chop radishes. (Meaning: I might as well finish what I’ve started.) Let’s try till the end. I cannot just go home like this. I endured through the hardship.
You also did some theater acting?
That time I picked a wrong company. It was a theatre managing company and they were trying to debut singers so I got into the company. Since they were new at managing singers, it was very bad, so they just asked me to act at theater plays. That’s how I got to do acting at theaters.
Did you feel sad because you had to do something different to your dream?
Yes. I was working hard to become a singer, and if there was a character that fits my dream, I would have enjoyed acting at the theaters. But in the end, my dream was to become a singer, and I didn’t even get to start building that dream and had to do theater plays…I didn’t like that.
It must contain two different meanings though you stood on the same stage. Now that you have achieved your dream, how would you reply to acting love calls?
I never forget that I am always a singer no matter where I go. With that in mind, I think that I’d like to try doing different business if there’s a chance. I want to break the assumption about the trot genre, as I’m singing trot. I think that trot is not just about running to events and performing on stage. I think I will have to try harder to break that assumption and expand my work. Some reporters wrote articles calling me “the second Jang Yoon Jung”, saying that Yoonjung unnie opened the road for me, and Park Hyunbin oppa is also promoting, implying that there are many young trot singers, and that I made a good decision following them. I wish that I can become a sunbae who hoobaes look up to and also want to break the assumption and bring hope to the trot genre. I want to become a sunbae who opens the road for them.
When do you think you’ll become the sunbae who plays that role?
Mmm…. Won’t I need to surpass 40? To train hoobaes, I think I would need to at least be that age. I’m lacking too much to do it right now. (Laughs)
What kind of a person is Hong Jinyoung in your mind?
A really decent kid. (Laughs) Should I say I have a deep heart? If I’m like this at this age, I haven’t been that stained, and naivety and purity are different, aren’t they? I’m not naive, but I think my heart is pure. But I’m not weak. It’s awkward to say this with my own mouth, but from that aspect, I think I’m pretty okay. Even from my perspective. (Laughs)
Staff: She’s genuine. Genuine.
Even when you’ve become a grandma, I think Hong Jinyoung will be like that.
That’s right, I think I will be the same.
You also seem to have a lot of loyalty.
Again, it’s a bit awkward to say this with my own mouth, but without loyalty, you’re a dead body, a dead body. (Laughs) If I have a relationship with someone and make a promise, I tend to try to go until the end. Even with people that I work with now.
You must have your own convictions.
I really dislike inconveniencing others, and I’m really bad at asking things of others. So I try not to inconvenience others as much as possible, and I work hard at doing my own work, by myself. Enjoy living each and every day. Live like today is the last day. I try hard to live with this mindset.
What are your thoughts on featuring on Big Issue? Any words you would like to let the magazine sellers know?
The purpose of Big Issue is very good, I think of it as a good opportunity for me. When dealing with busy schedules everyday, I only had the intention (to help others). I hope to have more chances like this in the future to become helpful to a lot of people, by spending some time and putting in effort. I hope that the sellers (for Big Issue) would never give up selling magazines even though it’s tiring. I hope that there is at least one person who succeeds in achieving their dream. Like how I successfully became a singer because I decided to do so, I believe that you can do anything eventually, if you never forget your confidence.