“25 CFs Just This Year, My Cost Effectiveness Must Be Good”
Hong Jinyoung, ‘Trot Fairy’ Who Spreads Vitality in Music and Variety
“I like ‘trot goddess’ and ‘trot fairy’, but going forward just coolly call me ‘trot vitamin’.”
I met ‘Godttery’ Hong Jinyoung (33). As soon as she started talking, her first phrase was overflowing with charm. I am familiar with her cuteness but it’s our first time meeting as interviewer-interviewee and it feels different. Like a singer who helped bring young trot to the music industry, following in the footsteps of Jang Yoonjung, she has an energy that makes the environment around her brighter. She says just to coolly call her ‘trot vitamin’. It really feels like I’ve ingested vitamins.
At the <The Fact> Sangam-dong office on the 24th, Hong Jinyoung visited, who is garnering attention for pioneering new trot genres like ‘bbongDM’ and ‘bbong-llad’. Our editor colleagues who are indifferent to celebrity appearances display interest with at least one gaze in her direction. Recently, she created news and trends in each program she appears in with ‘Hidden Singer’ and ‘Carefree Travelers’, creating the realization that she is a trendsetter in variety entertainment.
Hong Jinyoung’s rise has been confirmed by placing 2nd in female advertising model brand ranking this past April, setting her place as a blue chip in the advertising world. What is her secret to surprising influence even though she promotes in a non-mainstream music genre?
From exceptional vocals to excellent songwriting abilities, it’s thank to her disposition as a multi-faceted entertainer that attracts a variety of audiences all at once. After achieving ‘trot fairy’ and ‘trot goddess’ status, we met Hong Jinyoung, who has gotten public popularity as a ‘trot vitamin’ personally, to dissect her secret to popularity and charms. This is the topic of the first part of the special interview.
I think you’re enjoying all of the popularity in the entertainment world alone these days.
I’m always thankful for the love and compliments that are above what I deserve. I must have been born blessed. Or I saved the country in a previous life. (As recent public interest and popularity was mentioned, Hong Jinyoung gave a broad smile in her unique bright expression.)
I personally appeared on the entertainment talk show ‘Rumor Has It’ for nearly a year with you and built a relationship but meeting like this is new.
That’s right, it has already been 2 years. It’s so nice to meet you like this. Your image is completely different from when you were on the panel to a journalist in a newspaper editorial department. Honestly, while I was the MC for that program, I learned a lot about the physiology of the entertainment world from the journalists. Perhaps that’s when my popularity spiked again.
During her time as ‘Rumor Has It’ MC, Hong Jinyoung had a reputation as the set mood maker. Since her schedule is so busy, there were a couple of times when she asked us ahead of time to understand having to change the filming day, but she was never late once or inconvenienced anyone. Even though she had regional schedules in the early morning, she always showed her face at late dinners after filming ended in the middle of the night, showing her sincerity.
What do you think the reason that everyone likes Hong Jinyoung?
Wouldn’t it be my honesty, hahaha. As you can see and as you know, my personality is not one that covers or hides. On stage of course, and even in entertainment shows where there is a set concept, if possible, I try hard to show myself honestly. (Hong Jinyoung has a habit of laughing loudly at questions that are difficult for her to answer immediately. Throughout the interview, she showed she was especially weak at compliments.)
You must have your own set of standards although you promote as a star singer for the general public.
I always keep an optimistic mind, a thankful heart and live by the principle that I should care for others. People say if you can’t avoid it, enjoy it. If I’m going to have hardships and have encounters regardless, I should do it with an enjoyable heart.
You ranked up to 2nd in the advertising model brand ranking. How many CFs did you shoot?
Is it okay to say this? I think I’ve filmed 25 just this year. There are many one-time CFs but I also have several that run for 1 year. Guarantee? I’m not as expensive as you’d think. From the perspective of advertisers, I’m cost-effective so wouldn’t that be why I’m used often? Hahaha.
Even 3~4 years ago, Hong Jinyoung continuously shot 5~6 CFs a year. Her activities were gradually noticed and received attention from the advertising industry and her popularity climbed sharply last year. Although entertainer Kim Saengmin received attention for filming 20 CFs before his ‘Me Too’ controversy, Hong Jinyoung deserves to be called the blue chip of CFs.
Among singers, you tend to have many events. What do you do if it conflicts with broadcasts?
I do tend to have a lot of schedules. Broadcasts are important but it’s difficult to give up events. So these days, I’m not able to make fixed appearances in a program. Most of the broadcast appearances I’ve made this year are short-term and as a guest.
Since you are doing so well, there are many people who are curious about your event pay.
Conversations about money are outside of my scope of authority. I could also get backlash. There isn’t a set pay, but I’ll just reveal that I’m A-level in the music industry. (To singers, event pay is very important. Like how requests to be in CFs are a barometer of popularity, singers’ guarantee levels differ depending on the public’s preferences. Hong Jinyoung’s A-level event pay is comparable to the broadcast appearance fees of top popular variety MCs like Kang Hodong and Yoo Jaesuk.)
Do you like the nickname of ‘trot fairy’?
It’s an honorable name that fans have given me so I can’t say I like or don’t like it. But personally, I like ‘trot vitamin’ even more than ‘trot goddess’ or ‘trot fairy’. If you call me that, I’m more thankful and happier. Like vitamins, I want to give a lot of vitality.
I understand you originally debuted as an idol, in a girl group.
That’s true. When I was 20, I first came up to Seoul and did plays for about a year. I wanted to be a singer so I attempted and failed in a girl group twice, and the third group, Swan, debuted but due to the company circumstances, we weren’t able to promote properly and disbanded in two months. So now I have a longing toward being an idol, since I can’t go back to that time. (Hong Jinyoung momentarily had a sad expression while thinking of difficult times, but quickly had a bright smile as if those painful experiences made today possible.)
What’s the reason behind your transformation to trot?
I was reluctant to give up being in a girl group so I really didn’t want to convert to trot. I was actually very upset to release a song and promote as a trot singer at such a young age (mid 20s). I didn’t like getting attention for changing to trot after having failed in a girl group. Based on the mood back then, it wasn’t an easy choice. The optimistic thought that trot is getting younger was one that I could only have way later on.
Do you think you’ve played a role in spreading trot as a popular genre across the country?
In the trot world, there are many prominent sunbaenims (senior singers). Since I’m active on top of the groundwork that they’ve laid down, I’m actually reaping the benefits. Even when I first stepped into this world, I couldn’t imagine such public popularity. I need to repay now. I need to play my role to spread this genre with a bright and fresh mood so that we can receive a lot of love, even among the young generation.
After ‘Love Battery’, Hong Jinyoung continuously released songs and with her recent song ‘Good Bye’, she once again pioneered another territory in trot. ‘Good Bye’ is a collaboration song between the music industry’s hit-makers Jo Youngsoo and Kim Eana and it’s a retro trot song that captures your ear even if you only hear it once.
Even within trot, do you think there is a Hong Jinyoung style?
Since I was a rookie, I wanted to show my own unique color. ‘BbongDM’ (a new word that combines trot and EDM) which infuses exciting and fast electronic music to the typical trot genre is a style that suits me. ‘Amor Fati’ that Kim Yonja sunbaenim sang is like that too. It received the spotlight for enhancing excitement by adding electronic dance music (EDM) to a trot melody.
“Kim Jongkook Oppa? Possibility for Progress Is There”
Cool Confession “Boyfriend? I Had One, It Ended On Its Own When We Couldn’t Meet”
Singer Hong Jinyoung (33) re-signed with her agency Music K Entertainment (CEO Kwon Changhyun) early this year and definitively maintained a 10-year long loyalty. Her deep confidence in CEO Kwon, who has been with her since her debut in 2008, continued with her contract renewal. When CEO Kwon became independent of the previous agency and established Music K, Hong Jinyoung naturally made a new home there.
Music K has been enjoying Hong Jinyoung’s stable public popularity and brought to life a new rookie boy group, walking a very strong path. After placing 2nd in the female advertising model brand ranking this past April, Hong Jinyoung rose as a blue chip in the advertising industry. What is her secret to surprising influence even though she promotes in a non-mainstream music genre?
From exceptional vocals to excellent songwriting abilities, it’s thank to her disposition as a multi-faceted entertainer that attracts a variety of audiences all at once. After achieving ‘trot fairy’ and ‘trot goddess’ status, we met Hong Jinyoung, who has gotten public popularity as a ‘trot vitamin’ personally, to dissect her secret to popularity and charms. This interview was conducted at the <The Fact> Sangam-dong office on the afternoon of the 24th.
What is the source of Hong Jinyoung’s energy who is continuously active?
It’s the passion and spirit of challenge of an optimistic mind. It’s exciting to have a lot of attention and popularity but if there is too much work, it’s difficult for your body and mind. That’s when it’s important. If you always have a positive mind, even when you fail, it becomes a good experience.
Do you find plastic surgery controversies uncomfortable or upsetting?
If I said they weren’t, that’d be a lie. But I don’t really pay a lot of attention. Double eyelid and nose plastic surgery have become normal procedures that anyone can do, and I have acknowledged it myself and revealed which parts I’ve enhanced. It’s not even a controversy.
In her own episode of JTBC ‘Hidden Singer 5’, Hong Jinyoung unveiled where she had cosmetic procedures done. Judging panel compared her appearance from when she was promoting in the group Swan to now and said “Nothing has changed except your double eyelids” and Hong Jinyoung coolly confirmed “What changed since then is my nose” and received ‘very Hong Jinyoung-like’ comments.
Who are your celebrity bosom friends?
There are many people I’ve gotten close to through entertainment programs. Pro entertainers like Kang Hodong, Kim Youngchul and Heo Kyunghwan take care of me. We have a thick bond, so when we meet we are naturally playful and joke around.
Hong Jinyoung composed ‘I Kicked My Luck Away’ sung by Kang Hodong and ‘Ring Ring’ sung by comedian Kim Youngchul last year that had a hot reaction. After receiving the hit ‘Ring Ring’ from Hong Jinyoung, Kim Youngchul also received a new song, ‘Andenayon’. Both are fast electronic music (EDM) and are characterized by exciting rhythm enhanced by Hong Jinyoung’s unique refreshing and bright color.
Doesn’t your busy schedule wear down on your stamina?
There are times when my stamina runs out while going all over the country by car. But I naturally tend to eat anything well so there is no reason for my strength to be depleted. If I work excitedly, I automatically get an endorphin boost.
What kind of exercises do you normally do to maintain your stamina?
If I’m being honest, I don’t exercise separately these days. No, I can’t do it. You need to make time to exercise and I start moving early in the morning and if I end work early, it’s 11 PM at night.
Don’t you need to maintain your figure?
Thankfully, singing and moving on stage requires an immense amount of stamina, and with that, I automatically diet. So typically 3~4 kg of weight come and go depending on my stage schedule.
What is your best charm in your opinion?
It’s my personality that is never satisfied by reality. My style is one that endlessly creates work, clings to it and carries it out. That’s why I’m always busy. Depending on how you see it, it could also be a shortcoming, but in my opinion, I think it is my biggest strength and charm.
There is exactly one thing I’m curious about. How much alcohol can you drink?
Is it because of my style normally? How much alcohol I can drink is one of the most frequently asked questions. Do I look like I can drink alcohol well? I’ll confess now, even when I drink one glass of beer, my face turns red. I can barely drink alcohol at all. If I force myself to drink sometimes, I can drink up to 3~4 shots of soju, but those days are very special days.
When was the most difficult time after your debut?
There are many celebrities who became Cinderella overnight but it was difficult for me from the beginning. While I was doing plays when I was 20 years old, I fostered a dream of becoming an actress and gave it up, and I attempted a girl group debut but it wasn’t easy. Even after my trot debut, I encountered countless difficulties in order to become acknowledged. More than anything, there was no incline to lean on so it was difficult.
Fans have a lot of interest in your thoughts on marriage.
I don’t have any specific plans on marriage. I can only date when I have time. It’s not an exaggeration but I really don’t have time to date. I should get married, when I find a good person.
I wanted to ask you this point-blank when I met you. What kind of a relationship do you have with Kim Jongkook?
Huh? What is this, all of a sudden? Kim Jongkook oppa is a great friend in the entertainment industry. It’s true that he unreservedly takes care of me as a hoobae but rationally, we don’t have an intimately close relationship. Of course, it’s not that there isn’t any leeway, keke.
(At this question, Hong Jinyoung made an expression as if it’s a bit outrageous rather than be flustered by it. It wasn’t that she was trying to hide an existing truth and formally avoiding the question, she replied seriously. At the ‘words and actions on broadcasts as if they may have had push and pull between them’, she explained that it was a concept that emphasized their normal closeness a little bit more.)
Is there anyone who’s in your heart?
To tell you clearly, there is no man I’m dating right now. I have dated an ordinary person. As I became incredibly busy, we grew apart naturally. Affection between a man and a woman deepen when you meet often but it’s sad since I can’t do that in reality.
What is your ideal style in a man?
I like people who are good-natured and comfortable. Whether they are younger or older, I like men who have a kind disposition rather than their economic capabilities.
If you had to choose one from male celebrities who are active now?
Actor Cho Seungwoo without double eyelids is exactly my style. I’ve never met or had a conversation with him. I just mean that his aura and image is one that I’m attracted to.
Lastly, how does it feel to receive a lot of public popularity and love?
It’s forever exciting. More than anything, I like the feeling that trot is getting younger. Even when I debuted, trot was largely regarded as the exclusive domain of the elderly. When I go to university events, I sing EDM versions of my songs and it’s difficult to differentiate the excitement for idol singers. I hope trot continues to progress as a genre that’s familiar to anyone.
Interview with Hong Jinyoung was pleasant and exciting from beginning to end. It was kind-hearted for her to make time to come by the office, not forgetting the promise, even though she was on her way to a regional event. It was as though I didn’t realize 1 hour and 30 minutes of time passed by. If the manager didn’t point to the clock and urge on so that she can do her next schedule, we could have continued for another hour. What content will fill the next interview with her? I’m already looking forward to that time.