This week’s SBS “Strong Heart” was an extension of last week’s episode with some special guests, including all five Wonder Girls members, 90’s pop star Lee Bon, and Turbo’s original member Kim Jung Nam. It started off strong with Super Junior’s Shindong giving a parody dance of Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me.” He gave his own rendition of Sohee’s famous “Uh Muh Na” expression from the “Tell Me” dance, and then all five Wonder Girls members joined the stage for a brief performance of “Be My Baby.”
Following their performance were Lee Teuk and Shindong revealing old photos of the guests. They showed pictures of Boom from his “Recka” days in 2001, as well as Sunye, Lim, Yoobin, and Sohee’s childhood photos, not to mention Sunye’s “humiliating photos.”
Best Talk of the Day: Sunye’s talk started with Lee Seung Ki following up on her revelation last week about her boyfriend. He asked who first confessed the love, and Sunye said, “I have a lot of thoughts in my mind, but I’m not the type to hide my real feelings. So when I’m confident about the person, I don’t hesitate to first approach the guy. So I should say, I was the first person who asked him out. After thinking about it for a long time, I did it first.”
Boom asked if he was good-looking, and she said, “Hmm, I don’t know, is he? (laughing) Yes, he is good looking.” She continued, “I didn’t say this to brag about myself or anything, but I just wanted to share this great news with the people that truly love me. I would be really happy if you could celebrate our relationship. Thank you.”
Sunye also talked about her fans later. She started to break down in tears as Boom asked her about the fans. “I probably didn’t know them for that long, but the fans who waited for us gave us the most strength when we came back. Honestly, our album release was confirmed only two months ago. But we really wanted to promote in Korea, and really missed our time here. While preparing for this new album, we all worked so many long nights, and it’s not just us, but also our company staff members, and they all helped us so much. I’m still young, but through all the experiences I’ve gone through, I think I’ve learned a lot, especially in my heart. So, just the fact that I’m realizing that I want to thank my fans is such a blessing. We got so much love, much more than we expected, from our fans, and through that experience, I think we missed a lot of things, but when we made our return, the people that cared for us the most and supported us were the fans. And just having those people around us, who we can thank and be together with, is just a blessing and I would like to thank everyone for that.”
Boom continued, “We all missed you so much too. If Park Jin Young is watching this, please stop sending them to the US. I hope this time you’ll stay in Korea for a long time.”
Runner Up: This was Lee Bon’s first comeback in seven years to TV. In 2005, she was at height of her popularity but without any clear explanation, she just disappeared from the public’s eye. She said, from her debut in 1993 to 2005, she just wasn’t sure if she was on the right path of her life. She lost all confidence and motivation in her life for no specific reasons, so without any contemplation, she just disappeared from TV.
She also had a boyfriend for five years, but in 2005, their relationship started to get real rocky. But one day she woke up only to find out a newspaper misreporting that she’s getting married. That moment she thought, “The fact that a person’s life could be controlled by a few words was just too devastating. So after those incidents started to happen repeatedly, I realized I couldn’t take it anymore.”
She started to break down as she was asked about her fans. She said, “When I talk about my ‘babies,’ I start to cry. I had a reason to take a break, but they were just left there waiting for me. My heart hurts the most when I think about them. The ‘babies’ started crying and everything when they first saw news of my comeback. I think that’s what really makes me cry, and my heart hurts too. I’m just thankful to the ‘babies.” But after her story was over, people had confused looks as she kept referring to her fans as “babies.” Song Dae Kwan and everyone on set thought for a moment she was talking about her hidden babies! But she explained she’s known her fans for such a long time since they were little kids, so she just keeps calling them “babies.”
Funny Moment: Sohee’s “talk” of the day was titled, “Oppa, don’t stare at me.” She said the incident happened a little while back, but it was a very embarrassing moment for her. Sohee usually doesn’t put on a lot of makeup when not promoting, especially when working out. So one day, she got up late and had no time to get ready for her daily work out at 1PM. She just rushed to the gym after washing her face, and thought to herself, “Today, I’m just going to quietly work out in the corner and go home ASAP.”
But while working out, she noticed someone very familiar. A lot of celebrities workout at her gym but the guy was one of the biggest Hallyu stars that everyone loves. She thought to herself, “No way! I can’t show my unprotected self to him!” But out of nowhere, that Hallyu star approached her and said “hi.” Knowing how her face tends to puff up a lot in the morning, and especially with no makeup, she was too embarrassed to look at him in the face. So when he came to greet her, she just made brief eye contact to say hi, and looked away. She thought the guy would just leave after saying hi, but it turned out he wanted to have a conversation. He asked, “Oh, so you’re in Korea?” (Right at this moment, Lee Seung Ki jumped in and said he kind of felt like he knew who the man was). Sohee responded, “Oh, yeah…yes…” with of course not much eye contact. She thought he would just walk away after that, but the man would continue asking, “Are you working on your new album?” Still too frustrated to look at him in the face, Sohee just wanted to finish the conversation ASAP, so even though she was actually working on her new album, she just answered, “No,” thinking to herself, “Please go away!” But she said she still felt bad because the man really tried to be nice to her, yet she just turned him away, and she wanted to apologize to him.
So everyone asked her who the guy was. She just said he’s a “multi-entertainer,” and tends to open his mouth wide when he smiles. Boom narrowed down the choices to Lee Seung Ki, Ryu Shiwon, Kim Hyun Joong, and Choi Si Won, but pointed out the only person who has a big mouth is Lee Seung Ki. All eyes pointed to the show’s host, and then Sohee said it was indeed Lee Seung Ki himself. The whole studio erupted in laughter, and Eunhyuk started accusing Lee Seung Ki of always trying to talk to girls (e.g. His conversation with SNSD’s YoonA). As opposed to his “gentleman” image, could he be a “secret player”?
Personal Favorite: It was great to see Turbo’s former member, Kim Jung Nam, back on TV. For those of you not familiar with Turbo, they were one of the most popular dancing teams in Korea in the mid 90s. Kim Jong Gook was the other half of the group, but after a few years together, for unknown reasons, Kim Jung Nam was replaced by another member named Mikey. But Kim Jung Nam is still remembered as one of the best dancers, especially with his powerful “poppin’” moves.
For reference, check out this video:
Back to his story, it turns out Kim Jung Nam had become a game addict over the past few years. He suffered from serious depression after leaving Turbo, especially as he was removed from the limelight so quickly. That led him to find an alternative source of happiness, and online computer gaming was it. He played it night and day to the point where he never shaved and only left his room to use the bathroom. But somehow the producer of upcoming SBS show, “Comeback Show Top 10,” an TV show featuring some of the biggest 90’s stars, found his twitter post online and recruited him back to the industry. And after having a conversation with him, he felt this unexplainable excitement that he missed in the past ten years. New performance ideas would just keep rushing into his head, and right then he realized how much he missed the show business.
Personal thoughts: I’m really glad to see the Wonder Girls back on Korean TV. They just seem to have so much fun, and look so much more relaxed and at ease, compared to their days in the States. The language barrier and new culture they had to adapt to in the US must have takena toll on them, and I can only imagine how happy they must be to return to their home country. But Sunye shed tears again on this show, making it already the fourth time seeing the Wonder Girls cry on TV since their comeback, and now I’m left wondering – was it really that bad in the US?
I’m all for spreading Korean pop culture overseas and respect the Wonder Girls for being one of the first girl groups to take K-Pop across borders, but I’m not sure if it’s worth all the mental stress it brought on them. Granted, Sunye’s first comment at their comeback press conference was, “No pain, no gain,” and they probably realize the importance of their work overseas (they’re going back to the US early next year) so we hope they continue with their good work and enjoy more success at home and abroad!
Also, it’s always great to see these old starts from the 90’s. Especially, I was a big fan of both Lee Bon and Turbo back then, so I was really surprised to see them back on TV. K-Pop has to do a better job of promoting and recognizing these stars who once used to run the industry. They’re the real engine that spurred the growth of K-Pop in the early part of its history and they deserve more recognition than mere castings on TV variety shows. I wonder if it’s time for a K-Pop hall of fame?
Thunderstix is the Editor-in-chief for soompi.com. You can email him at [email protected], or follow his twitter.com feed at @eugenekim222.