Singer Chae-yeon is proud to be called as a sexy singer, and for the time being, she will continue to be so. Despite the other popular females singers dominating the K-pop scene, the 30-year-old is up to the task to attract her own crowd.
By Han Sang-hee
Korea may have their fair share of sexy female singers, but it's hard to find someone who not only has her own style but sticks to it.
One of them is Chae-yeon, who recently released her new album in two years, ``Shake," and the 30-year-old returned with a fresh, yet fitting concept of sexy.
``I worked on the album with (Kim Chang-wan) who I have been working with from my debut album. Electronic dance is a genre I was always comfortable with, so it's more of my style with a hint of the current trend,'' she told The Korea Times during an interview last week at a cafe in northern Seoul.
Chae-yeon made her debut in 2003, but she initially went to the Japanese entertainment business, releasing albums under the name Jinny. She returned to Korea at the age of 25 and started her life as an aspiring singer all over again.
``When I first started working on my Korean debut album, I was all ears. I really wanted to start my career in Korea and I wasn't that young, so I needed to put all my effort and time to that one album. It was then or never,'' she said.
Chae-yeon always dreamed of becoming a singer ever since she was young, and although she was not at all used to being pretty, she quickly transformed herself into the sexy, yet cute singer she is well-known as today.
``I was such a tomboy and used to being tough, far from pretty, sexy or even cute! But when my agency decided that sexy was the theme for me, I went for it and realized that there was actually a pretty young woman hidden inside me all that time,'' she said laughing, adding that getting used to short and sexy outfits were the most difficult thing she had to do during her debut.
The past years have been quite successful, as she appeared in many entertainment programs and was appreciated as the girl-next-door singer who had an edge when it came to performing on stage.
But is the singer finally comfortable being sexy now?
``Many female singers tend to follow the sexy trend sooner or later, but to be honest; being sexy, especially during your twenties, is hard. It's uncomfortable and awkward, and when I watch myself on television that was broadcast years ago, I can see myself trying too hard. I thought sexy was about squinting your eyes and staring hard at the crowd, but now it's more about being natural. I think the more I relax, the sexier I become,'' she said.
The music video for her title number ``Shake'' was recently banned from being aired on major television broadcasters including KBS. When asked what she thought about her videos and outfits being a little too revealing, Chae-yeon said she understood but it would be hard to change.
``It's my way of expressing myself and I do think fans and viewers know that it's my style. It's not just about showing more skin, but the overall atmosphere and confidence. But, of course, I understand their decision and we have decided to change the video just a little bit for more viewers,'' she said.
Unlike the past, when there were mostly boy bands and male solo singers dominating the pop scene, the present K-pop industry has become the time of girl bands and female singers.
Such a shift may have been a burden for Chae-yeon, and when asked about the recent popularity of female singers like herself, including Lee Hyo-ri and Son Dam-bi, she shrugged and said she was more than happy to be working with such talented and smart fellow artists.
``When it comes to competition, it is inevitable. Everyone in this business wants to be famous and popular and that's natural. But now, as I get older, I realize that it is important to be satisfied with where you are, and appreciate others as part of a team. The entertainment business is a rough industry, and whom will we turn to if it's not one another and our fans? It's not just about winning an award or appearing on a commercial, but loving what you do. I sound old, but that is what I finally realized,'' she said.
So what is Chae-yeon's strategy to survive among the multi-talented, pretty, sexy and powerful female artists?
``I have decided to be myself. Lee and Son are doing their part as attracting young fans, and this is both a good and a bad thing. The younger crowd may appreciate the trendy songs and fashion, but the older generation may not. I have decided to focus on the older crowd, fans in their twenties, thirties and even forties. I don't want to try hard to look like I am younger than I really am. I know my place, and I just hope fans will appreciate the way I am,'' she said smiling.