Sandara Park during her activities in the Philippines
Sandara Park, who has first started her entertainment activities in the Philippines is a leading figure in the ‘Reverse-Hallyu’ Wave.
Starting from the time her face was known the the public of the Philippines in 2003, Sandara Park has held incredible popularity to the moment she returned to Korea. It was so incredible that it was said that one was not a citizen of the Philippines if they did not know Sandara Park.
With the popularity in the Philippines as a base, when Sandara Park returned to Korea, the fans in Korea gave her the nickname ‘BoA of the Philippines.’
“Entertainment work in the Philippines was by chance. One day, a friend suggested that I try out for the audition in ABS-CBN’s ‘Star Circle Quest.’ I thought, ‘This might be a good experience,’ and decided to try it, but the results turned out to be very good.”
‘Star Circle Quest’ is similar to America’s FOX program ‘American Idol’ and Korea’s Mnet program ‘Superstar K,’ and at that time in 2004 had been a very popular program.
After moving to the Philippines, due to language and cultural barriers, Sandara Park had, at one point, stopped talking, but she did not once lose her dream of becoming an entertainer. Sandara Park’s parents consoled her, promising to send her back to Korea after she graduates high school. For Sandara Park, who was only waiting for her high school graduation, ‘Star Circle Quest’ was a fateful opportunity.
“At that time, I could not speak the Philippine language at all. I was the first case of a Korean coming for an audition. I didn’t know anything, and everything I did was awkward and clumsy. My clumsiness was probably something new to them. I think I got lucky.”
Sandara Park during her entertainment activities in the Philippines
Sandara Park took the audition in November 2003 and began broadcast activites in April 2004. Because the program was so popular that it was broadcasted six days of the week from Monday to Saturday, Sandara Park’s popularity also grew with it.
“The definition of an artist in the Philippines was different from that of an artist in Korea. In the Philippines, they wanted an all-around entertainer who can do everything from singing to acting to hosting. I understand a hundred times what the participants of ‘Superstar K’ were going through. I had gone through the bloody ordeal of survival myself.”
Sandara Park started with the thought of it as a learning experience, but she tried her best. Even in the horror experience the participants had to go through with the theory that it is to give them a stronger heart to be able to do good horror acting, Sandara Park did not step back. For a young female student to withstand, the horror experience was very merciless.
“We had to make dishes out of mice and lizards and eat it, and even go through a house said to be really haunted. There was even a mission where we had to cut a chicken’s throat, and more horrifying missions of the kind. To be honest, I couldn’t eat the mouse.”
The fear amongst the participants went on air just like that. Sandara Park also, in face of some horrifying missions, would lose energy and sink down, but she could not give up on her dream of being an entertainer.
“Since I kept crying out of fear, the producers knew I wouldn’t be able to do it and gave out harder missions. The one I remember most is the mission in which I had to do a chicken dish myself. Starting from going into the mountains to cut off a chicken’s head, I had to do everything by myself. Honestly, it was so exhausting.”
But contrary to her slender looks, Sandara Park was very strong. She went through mission after mission of experiences a female student may find hard to do, but Sandara Park did not even show one tear in front of her parents.
“I thought of quitting many times every day. I even cried a lot during filming. It really felt like I was the only one in the world. Since I didn’t know anything, I think it was worse. But I wanted to win this on my own because I thought, ‘I don’t want my parents to be hurt because of my dream.’”
The sincerity of Sandara Park reached the citizens of the Philippines.
In the final round in which the final five are chosen, She received a record amount of 500,000 text votes. This was the highest number of votes a female participant had ever received. But sadly, Sandara Park received 2nd place in the ‘Grand Final.’
“Actually I was very happy when I was dropped. I tried as hard as I could, but honestly, I was lacking in skills. When the grand prize was being awarded, I was chanting in my head, ‘Don’t call me, don’t call me.’ I felt very pressured by the award. When my name wasn’t called, I was so happy I ‘bounced’ around. Outside people complimented me, saying Sandara Park is sincerely happy for her competitor’s win. In truth, I was happy because my mind was at ease. (laugh)”
The Philippine press introduced Sandara Park’s traits as blunt and honest. The participants in ‘Star Circle Quest’ were mostly already in agencies, but Sandara Park was ignorant of the concept of broadcast.
“I said both things I should and should not say on air. Because I throw out bomb after bomb of news-worthy information, reporters on the scene liked me a lot. I was probably also very honest with my emotions. If I was sad, I cried, and if I liked it, I liked it, and expressed myself clearly. I think people loved me for being pure and real.”
Translated by Orangie @ ygsecret21