After initially becoming famous with ‘Star Circle Quest’, Sandara Park began to speed through the highway that was the Filipino entertainment industry. She was even confirmed to appear on 4 programs a week! And as the number of her TV appearances increased, she gained more and more popularity. But some of the unique customs of Filipino broadcasts were difficult to understand for Koreans.
"In order to be a TV star in the Philippines, you had to be active as a couple with a star of the opposite sex who was chosen for you by the broadcast companies. And most Filipino celebrities considered hiatuses deadly to a star’s career."
Like you have to follow Roman rules when visiting Rome, Sandara faithfully followed the rules of the Filipino celebrity industry.
"To tell the truth, even during ‘Star Circle Quest’, I held on even when things got hard, thinking 'I'll be able to relax after this'. But as soon as ‘Star Circle Quest’ ended, I was put into four different programs. Sigh~ I didn’t get a day off for a whole year. I even had to sleep in the car. But I must have a lot of stamina. I was hardly ever sick. (Laughs)."
Sandara Park, who has a huge amount of stamina despite her frail girlish looks, was able to make it through her endless schedule with her optimistic personality. When we saw Sandara smile brightly as she talked about how she made a lot of memories while running around the broadcasts stations to follow her hectic schedule after her debut, we could feel the love and affection she feels towards the Filipinos.
The person that the Filipino broadcast company chose for Sandara to be paired up with for her ‘love team’ was Hero Angeles, winner of ‘Star Circle Quest’. Next to Sandara always stood Hero Angeles.
"I did most broadcasts with Hero. In dramas, movies and CFs etc, Hero was always the counterpart to my role."
Though she did form a ‘love team’ with Hero thinking it was all part of the custom, it caused an uncomfortable situation for Sandara because of her honest personality. She dropped a bombshell when she said on one Filipino TV show that 'Hero isn’t my type'. On Korean variety shows remarks like this would’ve been considered nothing more than humorous material, but it was different for the Filipinos.
"All our fans at the time cried. I think I didn’t understand enough about the whole ‘make-believe couple’ concept."
It became a chance for her to see for herself how deep the roots of Filipino customs really were in their fans. Another questionable custom for Koreans is sexy photo shoots. At the time, such photo shoots were considered necessary as part of the process of child actresses maturing into adult actresses.
Sandara also received an offer for a photo shoot. She accepted as it was the suggestion of one of her seniors who worked for a broadcast company that also ran a magazine. She believed it when she was told she would just have to wear a skirt and a top. 'UNO', the magazine that offered Sandara her photo shoot was actually a prestigious male magazine.
"I’m on the petite side so I was called a 'primary school kid' in the Philippines a lot. I accepted the photo shoot offer because I wanted to show a different side of me."
But when she arrived at the scene, they demanded a bikini shoot. Though she was hesitant, Sandara had been working without a manager and lacked the experience to amend the situation, especially when all the preparations had been made. It was just one result of a just-matured young lady working in the entertainment industry without a manager.
But the photo shoot that passed by without any problems in the Philippines was made a big deal back in Korea. It was revealed too late in Korea last April and started up the 'Sandara Park sexy photo shoot' controversy.
The pictorial showed Sandara Park in the Philippines in 2006 wearing heavy make up, a black corset and bikini etc. for 'UNO'. Some people said cruel things like 'Sandara must've really needed the money'. They do say that the most unexpected crises hurt the most. Sandara had remained calm talking about herself until now, but she showed sorrow and regret while recollecting these events.
"I was really upset when people said things like 'She did it because she needed money'. I was just trying to follow their customs, they didn’t even tell me I had to do the shoot."
It made her even sadder to see her family in pain because of her.
"My parents were really shocked. I'd never regretted becoming a celebrity. I'd never even felt sad or angry that I had to give up my privacy. But when I saw my family watch as the public made assumptions and misjudged me, I felt regretful. It was really hard for me."
Translated by: sjay.x @ YGLadies.com