If there are stars who are difficult to approach even though they are popular, there are also stars who you’re happy to greet and hold hands with as if you’ve known for them for a long time even though it’s your first time meeting them. There’s no need to explain which side singer Hong Jinyoung (33) falls on. From continuous new songs, event stages she restlessly stands on all over the country and to TV entertainment programs she’s all over where she shows her charms. Hong Jinyoung, who seems like she lives her life split up by the minute, wants to enjoy her daily life and says “I never want to settle”.
For ‘conversations with female journalists’, she sat oppositely me despite a busy schedule and even on that day, it was after she had finished an event at a department store in Seoul. After the interview, she headed to Daejeon. When I asked her if she is tired, she said “When I’m at least a year younger, when I still have passion left, I want to attempt even more.” Along with her unique eye smile. I met Hong Jinyoung, the person with relentless energy and whatever she does becomes explosive.
It seems you’re really busy.
“When I look back, I ran to this point without even breathing. But now that I’m a year older, I’m more relaxed. I find passing time to be really regrettable. Even if I fail, it becomes experience, and that’s how I can plan a better future so I move busily.”
Does your popularity feel real?
“These days, wherever I go, elder ladies are especially fond of me. I just came from a department store event and as soon as they see me, they kiss me. And pat my butt. At festivals where people in their 20s and 30s gather, a different reaction comes out. That’s why I sing. Before there were so many people who were confused if my name was Hong Jinkyung or Hong Jinyoung.”
Tell us your tips for positive energy.
“I laugh a lot. When I read comments these days, I’ve seen reactions that say ‘Hong Jinyoung’s laughing is forced’. But I’m the same person, in the past or now. What has changed? Is it because I got injections? Haha! I tend to laugh furrowing my forehead and the doctor at the skin clinic I frequent told me those wrinkles can’t be ironed out with injections, so I’ll need to live with it for the rest of my life.”
It seems you tend to read comments often.
“Mmm… That’s true. Hahaha! I was recently really hurt. It’s my first time feeling like this. I couldn’t think straight for two days. Up to now, I just let things like this go and laughed them off, but now they prick my heart. I even saw comments that said ‘She’s abusing her power’. I was so upset. I cried while eating curry, and I even teared up while washing my face. I didn’t have anywhere to explain myself, so I had to withstand it alone.”
Source of Hong Jinyoung’s aches came from her appearance on MBC entertainment program ‘Omniscient Interfering View’. It honestly showed her close appearance with her manager who she spends most of her days with but a portion of the viewers saw it and were not happy. Their reason was that it was ‘too much’.
“When I was a rookie, I spoke strongly and acted over the top. I needed to stand out. That’s how you don’t get edited out of broadcasts. There were many times when I would record for hours and only be shown on screen once or twice smiling and saying hello. When I would speak strongly, I would be shown on screen more. I needed to live too. Since then, there have been comments saying ‘Hong Jinyoung is venomous’.”
As time passes, and as she gains experience, Hong Jinyoung is finding her boundaries. Her thoughts are to “Show exactly who I am, and don’t create something over the top”. Even the recent heartaches she experienced, she didn’t step out of her house for two days and endured it alone to be able to shake it off.
Hong Jinyoung debuted in a girl group but wasn’t able to receive a lot of attention. She didn’t get discouraged and stepped onto the path of trot, a choice that can’t have been easy for a singer in her 20s, and became the ‘current trend’. ‘Love Battery’ which she released in 2009 was the start of her popularity. She strengthened ‘youthful trot’ that was created by Jang Yoonjung and Park Hyunbin and expanded her areas of activity. She appears on all kinds of entertainment programs, from reality, observation to variety. Her recently released song ‘Good Bye’ is popular too. Last year, comedian Kim Youngchul sang ‘Ring Ring’, a song she composed and wrote, and it became huge.
Hong Jinyoung said, “I want to show that you can do a wide range of activities even in the genre of trot” and “Like how I realized trot can be young while watching (Jang) Yoonjung unnie and (Park) Hyunbin oppa, I want junior singers to look at me and help them expand their outlook with trot”.
Are you eyeing the royalties from ‘Ring Ring’?
“Everyone said it’s huge so I really thought that was the case. I’m not chasing money but since I’m human, I thought perhaps? People around me talked about royalties a lot so I anticipated it a bit. When I look at my bank account, that’s not the case.”
Reactions to ‘I Kicked My Luck Off’ sung by Kang Hodong was good too. Do you have more songs you’ve composed and wrote?
“I have two songs left. One song is a ‘bbong’ (trot) ballad and the other is a typical ballad. A ballad singer asked me to give it to them so I’m going to. It’s still a secret!”
When you open your eyes in the morning, what do you do first?
“When I wake up, I eat breakfast. Recently after going through hardships, I wanted to live so I diligently ate breakfast. Haha! These days, it’s performance season. I go to corporate events, university festivals and regional festivals. I stand on stage, indoors and outdoors. My May schedule was mostly filled up at the beginning of the year.”
The description ‘Queen of Events’ suits you well.
“It puts me in a good mood to hear that. It means I’ve become symbolic of something. When I go to performance venues, I always remind myself, ‘Don’t lose your intentions’. When I wanted to be a singer, I was desperate. Because I wanted to stand on stage. So when I stand on stage, I try to be devoted. I know very well that this situation can’t go on for a long time. So when there are places that seek me out and want me there, I want to go to one more place.”
Another area where you can sense Hong Jinyoung’s popularity is advertising. She is the advertising model for 8 brands, including cosmetics and chicken. Recently, she added karaoke machine advertising to her roster. Hong Jinyoung said, “Starting this year, I’ve had big luck. Even when you say you got lucky, your life is what you make of it”.
You must think of marriage nowadays.
“My parents do get requests often. I don’t like meeting artificially. (Showing the ring she’s wearing on her index finger) I wear this ring every day. I’ve seen comments that say I must have a boyfriend, but I really don’t. I went to the department store and thought it was pretty so I bought it. Honestly, there are people who confess to me that they like me. But I want to date when my heart is more relaxed.”
How do you maintain your health?
“I eat red ginseng but as expected, meat is the best. I love meat. When I look at my monthly card bill, I spend the most money on meat. I like meat with a bit of skin on it like Jeju whole pig. I’m wondering what it would be like if I opened a meat restaurant.”
Hong Jinyoung’s manager who was listening to her words beside her shook his head saying “I wish you wouldn’t”. His gaze wanted her to stop creating so much work. It’s the manager who appeared on ‘Omniscient Interfering View’ with her. Off-camera, the two people seemed to have deep confidence in one another as partners who work together.
What kind of a person is Hong Jinyoung viewed from Hong Jinyoung’s perspective?
“A person who doesn’t get tired! After a performance, I’m tired and exhausted. But when I go to a different performance venue, I get my strength from somewhere. When I go home dragging my tired body and rest for a little bit, I get strength again. I’m the person who doesn’t want to go to sleep early, so I resist and fall asleep passed out.”
Hong Jinyoung is a ‘girl boss’ who has an entrepreneurial streak. She’s also a woman of ‘action’ who puts the ‘picture’ she envisioned in her head straight into action. Although she quietly closed down the internet shopping mall that she started with her sister 2 years ago because it was difficult to maintain, she’s not afraid of failure and she’s endlessly thinking of businesses daily thinking ‘What should I try this time?’.
Currently, the business item that she’s planning is a ‘photo app’. She really likes to take photos so there aren’t any photo-related applications she hasn’t used. However, none of it was able to meet Hong Jinyoung’s standards. She made her own thinking that it would be good to create an app that combined all of the best parts of various apps. The photo app that Hong Jinyoung created will be pay-to-use and release in June. She learned coding with the help of an acquaintance so she is planning to use the profits for a good cause.
She also has plans for a different business. She’s thinking of fostering a male trot singer with the mind of a singer and a producer. She wants to call it ‘Hong-dition!’ (Hong Jinyoung + audition). “Whatever I do, I started with the thought of wanting to do it in a fun way. Like the ‘Ring Ring’ contest that Heo Kyunghwan and Kim Youngchul oppa did, I want to hold an audition over SNS. For that friend, I’m planning to create a song and a debut stage. I want to communicate the know-hows that I learned first-hand and experienced to a hoobae.”
This plan won’t end with a one-off and she wants to hold it every year so next year she’s planning to create a ‘3-member trot group’.
Source of new ideas come from Hong Jinyoung’s personality. Since her life philosophy is ‘In a fun way, no matter what’, various ideas come to mind like a spring that will never go dry.
“It’s regrettable to live life repeatedly like a turning wheel. I want to work while attempting different things, and even if I fail, I won’t give up. When I’m older and I look back on my past, I want to have the satisfaction of ‘I really lived my life to the fullest’.”