With a new album out, her third, Youn-ha regears to sing her heart out to the music fans. / Korea Times File
By Han Sang-hee
With short curly hair, bright eye makeup and attire, it would be easy to mistake Youn-ha as another colorful singer with a pretty face and voice.
But the 21-year-old is a driven artist for whom music is the number one priority and will continue to be so.
``Whenever I work on an album, I put all of my energy into it. You can say that I have put 100 percent of me in this album,'' Youn-ha told The Korea Times during an interview in the singer's van last week.
Her new album ``Part. A Peace Love & Icecream'' is a big change from her usual rock'n'roll image with the black shaggy hair, dark clothes and makeup, and when asked the reason for the change in style, Youn-ha said she wanted to bring positive energy.
``There are so many trendy dance numbers these days, and so I wanted to move on with a different style. The reason we chose `1,2,3' as the first single was also because I realized the importance of having a `hit song' and also because I wanted to sing something bright and happy. Everybody is going through such a hard time, I wanted to offer them an optimistic song,'' she said.
Debuting in 2004, Youn-ha made her first appearance in Japan, surprising both Japanese and local music fans. Moving to Japan was easy, but realizing her path as a singer hit her hard.
``When I first started auditioning, I just wanted to be famous. I thought working in Japan would naturally make me the next BoA, but no. It was so hard for me to just even to eat. As time went by, it suddenly hit me that I really needed to like the music I was doing to continue my career,'' she said.
When she came back to Korea three years later with high hopes, she had to readjust.
``It was hard getting used to the Korean system. In Japan, singers have a lot of free time and can just focus on the music. But here, there are so many other things you have to do, for instance, appear in entertainment programs. I sometimes feel deprived of my time to practice my vocals and to listen to music. I would try to say some serious things about my new album, but then it would be cut in the airing,'' she said laughing.
Working in both Japan and Korea also brought new adventures, like starring in a movie.
``I have never thought about acting, let alone think I was good at it,'' she said.
Shooting the movie ``Nichiyoubini,'' or ``Next Sunday,'' was a memorable experience, but Youn-ha said she didn't have any more acting plans in the near future.
``It was quite strange to see the final product. When an album comes out, it feels like it belongs to me. But when the movie came out, I simply thought it was well made. I have absolutely nothing to say about my acting. I have a very long way to go when it comes to acting,'' she said laughing.
A junior at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies studying Japanese, Youn-ha is planning to continue her studies and hopefully move abroad to study music and languages.
``It's hard for both the professors and me. They want me to attend classes, and I understand that, but it's difficult to appear on music programs and still be at class. Still, I have persuaded some and we made an agreement that I would make up with reports and homework,'' Youn-ha said.
Starting her life as a full time singer at the age of 16 was not easy, and Youn-ha thought for a moment when asked if she regretted starting early.
``There were times when I regretted. Not having a high school life was always a big minus for me personally, and I think that was why I wanted to attend university that badly. School is great. I went to trips with my school friends, attended classes regularly when I wasn't busy and also have drinks. Now, I'm just trying hard to graduate,'' she said.
The singer's eyes sparkled whenever the subject turned to music, and when asked what kind of singer she wanted to be remembered as, she started talking about the current conception of music among local fans.
``In Korea's case, there are not many singers who just do one certain genre. I think this means that Korean fans become tired easily and they consider music as an accessory. As a musician, this is sad and many singers like me are aware of this. I simply want people to like my music and attach any kind of memory with it, so when they hear my song, they will remember a certain part of their life along the way,'' she said.