Previously on Star Life Theater – SNSD Edition Part One
The girls have finally returned, after a yearlong absence from the domestic market, Girls’ Generation has finally returned with their new album “The Boys.” We followed the girls as they prepared for their first comeback appearance on KBS2 “Music Bank,” followed Sooyoung and Yuri as they went about their lives as a college student and saw the girls begin their first ever New York City concert.
The Girls take to the stage.
We pick up from yesterday and the girls are just about to get up on stage. It’s no ordinary stage thou, it’s the stage of dreams, the stage that only the best of the best gets to stand on. It is the famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. It will be the girls’ first ever North American Concert.
They rise up from the middle of the stage and start their first performance to the cheers of thousands of fans.
It looks like the fans are already extremely familiar with “Tell Me Your Wish” with a lot of fans singing along with the girls on stage.
It’s obvious that the appeal of the girls has spread far and wide. YoonA in particular mentions that “We were really surprised because there were a lot of fans over here. Even though this is a place that we didn’t even imagine would be like this. It’s amazing enough to see them just recognise us but to also see them cheer us on and sing along with us. It was really amazing.”
Of course none of popularity was gained overnight; it was the result of countless hours of effort and training on the part of everyone involved. Everyone had to start somewhere and for YoonA that would be several years back when she was just 13 years old. We get to see some brief shots during her audition at this point and it’s amazing to see how little she has changed appearance wise.
We also get to see a few shots of Seohyun’s audition singing a cute children’s song in her cute red dress.
Here is Hyoyeon during her audition process, doing what she does best, dancing to the best of her abilities. As you can see, most of these girls started off at a fairly young age and it has taken many years of blood, sweat and tears to get where they are now. They’ve all had to go through a difficult trainee period lasting many years; obviously they would have a lot to see regarding this somewhat difficult period.
Taeyeon starts off by saying that “Of course it was difficult physically due to the extremely large amount of time spent practicing but I think there was a very large amount of emotional pressure. We didn’t know when, how or who were debuting with. Since the members went through that situation for several years, the members that were there for the longest started off when they were in primary school and so they practiced with that kind of thought in mind even at that young age.”
Hyoyeon continues on by saying that “During those seven years (As a trainee), my mother always dropped me off and picked me up when I went to the SM offices, or during the 3~4 hours I was practicing she would wait outside. It’s because I was really young and my parents would have been worried about me. Also their expectations of me got bigger and bigger during those seven years. I think there was a large amount of pressure because of that. I thought a lot about how my parents would be happy after I debuted and I trained very hard with that thought in mind.”
Starting with the song that in some ways could be credited for starting the SNSD craze, “Gee” was a cultural phenomenon, released in 2009, two years after the girls debuted, it was to be the song that began the gradual rise in prominence of SNSD in Korea and around the world.
Yet it didn’t stop there, they continued to evolve their concepts, releasing their next song “Tell me your wish” in August 2009, showing off a completely different Marine style look.
Followed up by their cute cheerleading concept in “Oh” released in January 2010, with their dark concept “Run Devil Run” following closely behind, releasing in March 2010.
And now in October 2011, the girls have returned with their newest song “The Boys,” once again signalling a drastic change in concept and style.
Of course they are only human as well, and having gone through a laborious trainee period, each of them in some ways might have had some selfishness and hoped to see themselves succeed on their own. However as Tiffany explains “I used to be very greedy but my greed disappeared after I joined SNSD. The only thought had was that I had to work hard, that’s because I have to do well for the team to do well and the team has to do well for me to do well. So of course rather than being greedy, I think I just worked very hard.”
The Girls are radio stars.
We are now back in Korea and it’s business as usual for the girls. Today they have a radio program appearance and the girls have gathered to prepare for the show.
All the girls are all hunched over and reading over their scripts, like a student studying for a major exam. The time is 10PM and all the girls are showing some signs of weariness with their long yawns.
However there is work to be done and the girls head off into the radio booth, making sure they politely greet everyone they meet along the way.
It’s KBS “Kiss the Radio with Super Junior,” and SNSD is the guests for the day. They start off with their signature “1 2 3 Hello we are Girls Generation” and the show gets underway.
Outside, the fans have once again gathered to try and get a glimpse of their favourite idols hard at work, employing a wide variety of equipment to try and record this special occasion. Some of these fans have been waiting here for five hours and some fans even longer, all to get a brief glimpse of the girls.
Today they will be performing a special live performance on radio. We’ll let Sooyoung describe what it is. “It’s a song titled ‘Spring Day’ and it’s the first time I’ve wrote the lyrics to a song. This is a song that I wrote in a single day. Even on the day of the recording I was modifying it and handing it over even as the members were recording. Truth be told I really sorry towards the members.”
So what are the lyrics about? Once again we’ll let Sooyoung explain “Actually the lyrics are universal, it could relate to parents, to friends or to couples. I think the lyrics could apply to anyone, depending on who it is that the listener loves. I’ve gone through quite a lot of events right from an early age and I have debuted after much ups and downs but it crossed my mind that my love really didn’t change.”
The radio program has now ended and there is now a small party happening within the radio booth. This is how they relieve their stress but it also shows how close they are to each other.
Hyoyeon notes in her interview that “I have met a lot of people and I have also met these eight good members. I think it’s impossible to have nine girls match so well with each other like this, since us girls do also get very jealous but right now I think I am very lucky person.”
A Girl enjoys college life.
It’s a new day and one girl is using her brief respite from work schedules to go somewhere. Dressed in casual attire, Seohyun is making her way to college and has come out by herself. She always goes to school by herself using public transport and today is no different; she has come out to the main road to catch a taxi to take her to school.
A rare sight in Korea but befitting of her image as a model student, she puts on her seatbelt despite sitting on the rear seats. She even asks the staff member accompanying her to wear her seatbelt.
For a celebrity to go around by herself using public transport is quite a rare sight to see but it seems it’s something Seohyun seems to enjoy often, she remarks that “I like using public transport, so sometimes in winter I would wrap myself up tightly and catch the bus with friends. When I do that it is really fun.”
Here she is no longer Seohyun from SNSD but a young college student named Seo Joo Hyun that meets up with friends and spends time happily chatting with each other.
However it didn’t always begin like this with one of her friends Bang Sung Hee explaining that “At first it was a bit uncomfortable and I had some preconceptions because she was a celebrity so avoided her at first but it became comfortable because she approached me first in a friendly way.”
A few more friends appear and one of them is a bit more special. One of them was in the same year and school as Seohyun during her High School years, who notes that “I saw her to death, I want to stop seeing her” with Seohyun returning the favour by saying “That’s the same for me as well.”
Their little quarrel continues as the guy jokes about how he likes Jessica more, inciting a lot of wrath from Seohyun besides him. You can tell that they are all good friends with each other with titles like being a celebrity meaning very little.
Seohyun heads to class and the lesson for the day is acting classes and is one of her main courses, unfortunately to prevent disturbing the other students the camera isn’t allowed in but how about we explore something else? What is Seohyun like in college? Well first of all it’s well known that she is a model student that rarely misses class despite her schedules but let’s hear some more details from her Professor.
Dongguk University’s Professor for the School of Theatre Shin Yong Sub explains “Compared to the other students, she has a thirst of studying. So her attitude is extremely serious, to the point of being too serious. She has a frank opinion in regards to her education. She always tries to keep in her mind that school is more important (Than her celebrity work) and that is very praiseworthy.”
Her morning classes are now over and she heads to the student cafeteria with her friends. Today’s menu is Omelettes and even while she orders, her high school friend is constantly by her side making silly remarks about the lack of money in her wallet. “SNSD’s family situation, they have no money” as he would say but of course it’s all a joke and besides Seohyun is paying for their meal today.
At college she may try to just be a normal student but even with her hat on, it doesn’t take long before people start to recognise her. People gather to have their photos taken with her as she waits in line to pick up her meal with her friends waiting patiently next to her.
With food in hand, they head outside and sit together to enjoy their meals. A constant stream of conversation flows to and fro amongst the people on the table.
So what is Seohyun like to her friends? Her high school friend Ahn Hee Jae explains that “I got a phone call from Joo Hyun after she debuted. I got the phone call when she was doing ‘Gee.’ She came to school and just had fun with the kids in class; Joo Hyun taught us the dance for ‘Gee.’ So we learnt it by her side. We just had fun like that.”
Seohyun’s other friend Park Moon Young also states that “On the contrary, she’s got a bit of an easy-going side to her. She is not too coy, she is a bit coy but she often shows a completely different side to her when she is around close, friendly people, classmates and friends.”
Seohyun has also brought us some makeup to share out with her friends. It seems to be a frequent event with her friend Yoon Ahn Na mentioning that “A while ago, I was going to buy something for Joo Hyung because she keeps buying stuff for us but she told me ‘it’s fine, I’m a worker and you’re a student.’”
Seohyun continues to be modest and says that “Rather than saying that I look after them a lot, but really since I have a job, so since I started working at a younger age compared to my friends so it’s obvious for me to buy things. But my friends buy me a lot of stuff as well.”
And so Seo Joo Hyun‘s day as a normal college student is coming to an end for another day. She will soon return to the spotlight as Seohyun of SNSD.
The girls are a worldwide superstar
Later that day, the girls have gathered at KBS for a “Music Bank” performance and a few of them are looking over a video of their last performance with a serious expression.
Having to monitor their prior performances isn’t one of their favourite things to do but a required necessity, as Yuri explains “There are a lot of times when I don’t want to watch it. Because the performance isn’t to my liking, if I watch things that are not to my liking then it doesn’t really put my mind at ease so it’s a having to re-watch it is a bit hard to bear but we have to do it so that we can deal with those issues during the next performance.”
It’s an unavoidable situation, to maintain their status they have to be constantly on their toes. So they go through every performance with their staff to spot any points that need improving. They know if they let their guard down for even a bit, then it could all come crashing down.
Tiffany notes that “We have no choice but to be extremely thorough, there is nothing we can about it since we have a lot of members. We have a mentality that says that we have to be perfect no matter what, so we hate it when we make mistakes.”
Meanwhile outside there is long line of fans itching to head inside to watch their favourite idol groups perform. Fans of all ages have gathered some even missing work to attend.
It’s not just domestic fans in attendance thou, there is a large contingent of foreign fans that have made the long trip here to see their favourite group perform in front of their eyes. From China to Thailand to North America to Taiwan, they have all come to see SNSD perform.
And thanks to these fans, SNSD have swept the charts for several consecutive weeks and today they get to add another trophy to their long list of achievements, winning the “Music Bank” K- Chart for the 2nd consecutive week. The joys on the girls’ faces are impossible to miss.
It’s a celebratory mood back in the dressing room, with the girls savouring this great moment.
It’s not just the domestic market where they continue to do well; their new album is receiving a lot of love all over the world, with their music video getting over a million views on Youtube. However this isn’t the only type of SNSD related content doing well on Youtube. Fans from all over the world have started posting up their cover videos up for “The Boys.” Ranging from dance covers, electronic guitar covers vocal covers etc. the amount of content is being posted up is staggering and encompasses a wide variety of countries and genders.
As popular culture critic Choi Kyu Sung explains, “From the South East Asian Stage, to the European stage and in future to the American, by going through these stages a step a time, the brand power of SNSD is increasing but also the brand power of Korea is rising as well. On that note SNSD isn’t just a simple girl group but they now represent the country as a whole.”
Short Extra: The girls have a small party.
Today is a special day; it’s the birthday for one of their new managers and there is no way they would just pass by this without doing anything. But then again they definitely wouldn’t let him off easily as well considering how playful they are.
Our look into the lives of SNSD continues tomorrow.