Saturday, 17 September 2011


“Nervous?” Shoei asked me as he took my hand and patted it.

I was getting my makeup done, ready for my solo scenes in my movie CF. Shoei had come along to accompany me and to take a short break from our schedule while I filmed the CF.

“I’ll be fine on my own. It’s when Hyun Bin appears, then I’m not sure if I can hold it together,” I giggled.

“Ya! Be a bit more professional, will ya!” he said, and nudged my head with his fist.

“Araso,” I laughed.

The first scene we were filming today was my monologue. Since Hyun Bin was very busy, squeezing in tight schedules before his enlistment, I was tasked to finish up all my solo scenes before he could come and join us. He also has a monologue that he will be recording later.

Sierra’s Monologue

She walks along the cliff, thinking their last conversation.

“I’ll be there. I’ll be there for you, always,” he said

“Isn’t saying ‘always’ overpromising,” she said.

“But that’s how you say it!” he exclaimed. “You’re so unromantic!”

She laughs to herself at the memory of the conversation. As she approaches a huge boulder, she sits down and gazes out to the sea.

“Oppa,” she says. “I too wish it will be always… always… whether or not you can keep that promise”

She sighs and pulls her jacket tighter around herself.

“I usually hate waiting for you, but somehow today, I don’t mind it that much. But this place… it’s breathtaking… as you said it would be. I wish you were here to see it with me. Oppa… pogoshipeo.”

We did that scene several times; mainly because the director wanted my tone to be right when I was saying my lines. Regretfully, after more than 5 years in Korea, I still had a foreigner’s accent. It was slight, as the director had said, but it was nevertheless there. So they wanted to refine it a little.

I was saying my last line for the monologue, “Oppa… pogoshipeo” when suddenly a pair of hands wrapped around me.

“Mani kidaryeo?” he said as he smiled.

It was Hyun Bin, jumping into the scene as he was supposed to in the script. We were going to redo that bit when he arrived, but it looks like we don’t have to now.

“Ne,” I smiled back, and he leaned in to kiss me.

His lips were soft and firm, and I was immediately immersed into it. We shifted into position naturally and ended up with me leaning back on that boulder, and him holding me in his arms as he supported himself with one knee against the boulder.

“Cut!” the director yelled, and Hyun Bin slowly pulled away.

I could imagine my dazed expression, and instead of straightening up and walking away as I expected him to, he stayed, just inches away from my face, smiling indulgently.

“Kwaench’anayo?” he asked softly.

“It was a bit of a surprised,” I managed to reply.

“Then it’s definitely going to register well on film. I don’t think we’ll need to do that scene again,” he said.

“Pity,” I smiled.

Yes. I managed a cheeky joke after what had just happened. As soon as I said that, I wondered if that kiss had really gone to my head and damaged it. Hyun Bin’s face changed for a moment; an expression that I could only read as confusion. Then he laughed out loud.

All the staff around us looked on with confused looks. I was a bit mortified for a moment, until he spoke.

“I was expecting our time together to be interesting, but you’re really turning out to be not just interesting but quite attractive,” he said.

“Kamsahamnida,” I smiled.

He helped me up and we walked towards the refreshments table to grab a hot drink before we had to go to the next scene.

“That was superb!” the director said when he saw us. “The element of surprise was real and Sierra, you did a good job in holding it together. You 2 really have chemistry. That scene was so beautiful, we don’t need another take.”

“Komapseumnida,” we both bowed.

“Hyun Bin-shi did a favour to me. It couldn’t have worked out any better,” I said.

“You were doing well before I came,” Hyun Bin said.

“Keurae, keurae…” the director said as he patted Hyun Bin and I on our arm. “Have a break and we’ll resume shooting shortly.”

“Ne,” we answered, and he walked away.

“Nuna,” Shoei called out to me from the tent they had set up for us all to rest in.

“Coming!” I replied. “Would you like another drink, Hyun Bin sonbae?”

“Please just call me oppa,” he smiled, “and I wouldn’t mind another drink in this cold weather.”

“Shoei, Hyun Bin oppa,” I introduced the both of them when we got to the tent.

“Pangapseumnida,” Shoei shook Hyun Bin’s hand and bowed at the same time.

“You’re missing 1 more member, aren’t you?” Hyun Bin asked.

“Skye’s busy today. He’s scheduled for a variety show,” Shoei answered.

“Ah… you idols really work so hard these days. Music shows, variety shows, dramas, live performances, CFs. You’re everywhere,” Hyun Bin said.

“They are the best way to gain exposure,” I said. “We don’t have much of a choice.”

Most idols groups are juggling numerous variety shows these days, often spending an entire day either onsite or at the TV stations. That and they’d need to keep up their vocal and dance practice so that they could still excel on the music shows.

The up and coming trend is to first debut as an idol, gain a strong fan base and venture into acting. Almost every single idol is a triple-threat these days. And those who tire of the music scene but decide not to venture into the foray of dramas and movies tend to participate in musicals; even those who are still active singers.

The shoot with Hyun Bin was one I would always remember. It would be sometime before I had a change to work with someone so charismatic. I didn’t think I made much of an impression on him during our short project, but when he held a small going-away gathering before his enlistment, I was invited.

“Thank you for inviting me,” I said, bowing before I left the party that night.

“It’s a pleasure. Please keep in contact. I’ll definitely contact you when I’m discharged,” he smiled. “We must work on another project.”

“Ne,” I smiled.

Months have passed. We’ve thrown ourselves into the management of our company once the promotional period for our album ended. Our song from the mini-drama cum CF did pretty well on the digital charts, but things have died down again as usual. With the influx of new bands and singers, we’re pretty much drowning in the over-crowded industry. It was a struggle to stay visible.

A part of me has put the SM past behind me. All the involvements I’ve ever had with the guys from SM seem to have waned. Yun Ho and Chang Min are now so engrossed with their schedule, fulfilling the grand dreams of the great leader of SM Ent. Jae Joong, Jun Su and Yoo Chun are working hard to keep a solid profile in the media. They’ve been ostracized from the music scene, still unable to perform on music shows and the majority of variety shows. But they maintained high profile as ambassadors for Cheju-do being nominated as one of the world’s natural wonders, and also for their roles in dramas and musicals. Every time I read the news that they’ve been dropped from a program or show, my heart would still sink. I really hope that they would stop being disregarded on purpose.

But it was comfortable I no longer felt the need to get involved in their matters. Life after SM was definitely a sweet taste of freedom. But now we had to fend for ourselves and keep our incomes coming. But it wasn’t so bad. We still had a comfortable life, and now that we’ve started our own label, we’re slowly gaining recognition as professionals in the business.

My life had changed constantly since the day I got on that flight to South Korea, and yet, it doesn’t stop here. Trends will change, expectations will continue to increase, and every day, we will find a new way to create and share something new that we feel worthwhile to put out there for the world to hear. While it seems that my dreams had already been fulfilled, I think it’s more accurate to say that at this point, it has started, for real.

Dear Readers, especially those who still check back every once in awhile…

I felt that it’s time to end this fiction. I had to write MKR II because it was impossible to connect the chain of events in the original MKR since too much time had lapsed. But now as I try to write MKR II, I feel that it has become almost foreign to me.

Sadly, those dreams that I once had, have become just dreams. I will never forget how much I wanted them to come true, but I think that I am coming to terms that life will not be that way for me, unless by some total stroke of luck, I fall into a pot of gold.

But I do have some happy news to report. I will finally be making my ‘maiden’ trip to Seoul on 24th Sep, and I plan to have an awesome time.

I thank everyone who had ever followed this fanfic faithfully, and those who have stumbled upon it and read every single chapter, even when they saw it was an absurd 100 over chapters.

I will write again someday, but until that new flame is ignited, that will launch me into the obsessive state of typing out every single thought I have, you can alternatively follow me on YouTube or Twitter to see what I’m up to ^_^


Sunday, 6 March 2011

MKR II: Chapter 7

“Another drama?” I exclaimed.

“It’s just a drama CF,” Shoei said. “The script came in this morning. They want you to go for a screen test.”

“We need this now, nuna,” Skye said. “We’ve been doing variety shows, but a drama would put us in the headlines for awhile, and we get to put one of our new songs in the OST.”

“Araso, araso,” I nodded. “So who’s my hero this time?”

My last drama experience was fun since I got to work with Kim Jae Wook, but it was hell to work with Darren from Helix, speaking of which, Helix had disbanded. It was during TVXQ’s months of turmoil, so it didn’t really make the headlines. Darren had since joined E! Entertainment Asia as a TV presenter, Nakata is now a model in New York and the only one we still see around is Min Jong, who had since begun a fairly successful solo singing career and also as a DJ. I’ve not heard from Darren since the last time we clashed.

“It’s a surprise!” Skye said.

“It’s a CF for a vacation spot on Cheju-do,” Shoei said. “It’s gonna be very dramatic and scenic at the same time, and I think you’re gonna go nuts when you find out who your leading man is.”

And I did. I almost fell over when I walked into the room for the screen test. Sitting in the panel with the director and producers, was Hyun Bin.

“Annyonghashimnikka,” I said as I bowed to them.

“Sierra-shi oso-oseyo,” the director greeted me.

“Yeolshimhi-haeyo,” the producer smiled at me.

“Ne, kamsahamnida. Chalputakhaesseumnida!” I said and bowed again.

Hyun Bin picked up the script in front of him and got up to join me at the front.

“Choeum poebkeseumnida,” he said to me.

“Na-do choeum poebkeseumnida, Hyun Bin sonbae,” I smiled.

“Ah… you don’t have to call me sonbae,” he laughed. “Makes me feel like an old man.”

“Well, you have been in the business for so long. I’ve been your follower since Spin Kick,” I smiled.

“I see. I doubt I was any good back then though,” he replied.

“But you were always cool,” I replied, and he just grinned back.

“Let’s start then,” the director said. “The script is just temporary. We may change it later on as we’ve not finalized the whole storyline for the CF.”

“Ne, kamdongnim,” I replied.

“Shijak!” the director yelled.

The test camera rolled, and I read the lines as convincingly as I could.

“Kajima,” he said as he grabbed my hand.

I pulled my hand away from him and took a step back.

“I can’t,” I said in a half-whisper.

“Why? What would it take to make you stay?” he asked me.

“Nothing,” I replied.

“Why? Why won’t you give me a chance?”

“Why should I? You’ve never given me the reason to. You’ve been acting so different lately. I don’t think I know you anymore.”

“I have my reasons, if you’ll let me explain.”

“And after that, where does that lead us? What sort of foundation have we built this relationship on?

“We have. Me. Lean on me. Trust me. I will be our foundation. The pillar that holds our home up, the stable ground you step on and the comforting bed you sleep on each night.”

“You seriously think you can do that? Isn’t it too late?”

Hyun Bin pulls me into his arms and hugs me tightly.

“No. Don’t say it’s too late. It’s never too late for us. Never!”

“Never…” I whispered back as my arms slowly came up to return his hug.

“Cut!” the director yelled.

I nearly hyperventilated during the last 2 lines. I was in so much shock that I think I played the role right at that last line where I had to sound like I was giving in. How could you not give in when Hyun Bin was holding you tightly in his arms? This was a zillion times more exhilarating that watching the sit-up scene from Secret Garden, and I was totally wondering how it would be to have a kiss scene with him since I heard that he was a superb kisser from his Secret Garden credentials. I am definitely a fan girl in this moment.

Hyun Bin was riding high on his Secret Garden success. He had 2 movies out and this was probably going to be his CF before he joined the marines for his mandatory military service. I couldn’t hear the sound of breaking hearts all over the world when he has to disappear for 2 years. I wonder how his girlfriend, Song Hye Gyo, felt about it. I suppose she’s too busy to care anyway. Then again, the rumours are that they had broken up, and he didn’t seem too happy the last time reporters asked him about it. I really do wonder if it’s true.

“Chal-haesseoyo,” Hyun Bin said when the scene was over.

“Komapseumnida,” I replied. “I hope we will have the chance to work together.”

“I hope so too,” he smiled. “Since I’ve heard a lot of good things about you.”

“As an actress, as a singer or as a person?” I asked.

“Hmm… a little bit of each,” he replied.

“Good to hear then!”

I was so nervous while talking to him. My whole body felt like it was shaking with excitement. I hope the vibrations weren’t actually visible.

Skye and Shoei were more excited than I was when we met up after the screen test. I’m definitely considering padding our office walls at the rate they bounce of the walls in excitement whenever we get a gig of some kind.

“How was it? How was it?” Skye asked.

“I think it was alright. Nothing spectacular though.”

“When will you know?” Shoei asked.

“Soon, I guess?” I shrugged. “They mentioned that they need to start filming ASAP since Hyun Bin would be off for his military service in March.”

We were in the middle of discussing our upcoming activity schedules when a familiar figure walked into our office.

“Hyung!” Skye yelled and jumped out of his chair to greet him.

“Orae maneyo,” Yun Ho smiled.

Dressed in jeans, t-shirt and a smart casual jacket, he still exuded a presence that was strong, yet warm. That was his signature style. But he did look a bit overworked and thin lately, as did Chang Min.

“Oneul an papeunde?” I asked. I thought he would be crazy busy since he and Chang Min had just put out their new album.

“I was in the neighbourhood,” he said, “thought I’d pop by. Nideul chal chinaesseo?”

“Oh… we’re alright,” Shoei replied.

“Cho-a,” he smiled. “Sierra… Can I speak to you for a bit?” he asked.

“Sure,” I stood up and walked towards the informal meeting room we had set up in our office.

The room was meant for informal meetings mostly with friends we had projects with and we’d set it up as our lounge so that the staff could chill out there during breaks. A bright red couch lined one wall and in the middle was a sitting area designed like the ones at a Japanese restaurant, where a space is made under the table so that you could dangle your feet under it instead of having your legs fall asleep from sitting cross-legged for long hours. The new super slim Samsung flat-screen TV completed the room, along with several game consoles; a Wii, a Playstation and an Xbox.

Yun Ho closed the door after me and sat down on the couch, while I sat on the cushions that surrounded the center table.

“What is it?” I asked him.

“Has Jae Joong contacted you?” he asked me.

“Do you need to know?” I replied.

“Why do you think I’m asking?” he said.

“I dunno. This is really something you people need to work out,” I said. “Don’t drag me into this.”

“You’re the biggest link between me and Jae Joong. Who else can I ask?”

“Why don’t you reply his texts then?”

“He never texted me. Did he tell you he did?”

“I read it in online,” I said, truthfully.

Jae Joong has never explained in detail what the situation between JYJ and the remaining 2 of TVXQ was at this point. We had too much issues of our own to be including this in our conversations.

“You can’t believe all you read,” he said.

He was starting to sound agitated and upset. While I feel for him, I just didn’t know what else I could do. It wasn’t just Jae Joong who had disappeared for months on end. This was the first time Yun Ho had come to me since TVXQ’s breakup. I guess he was desperate and concerned now. How do you forget the brothers you suffered and succeeded with for almost a decade? You don’t. While they may be estranged at this moment, the front they are keeping is just a shield to protect themselves from the media.

“Ara…” I said, and I reached out for his hand.

He squeezed my hand in what I’d call gratitude, and smiled at me.

“It feels good you know?” he said, his voice softer now.

“Mwoga?” I asked.

“To hold your hand again,” he said. “I’ve not had any comfort like this for so long and it surprises me that I am still feeling our closeness.”

“Well, I know we didn’t even make it till a year, but I was your first,” I laughed.


“Your first foreign girlfriend,” I added.

“Ah… keugo,” he laughed softly. “You were a breath of fresh air.”

“And you were the one who killed my fantasies of Korean idols,” I joked.

“Cheongmal?” he said, and made a sad face. “I must be the disgrace of my nation then.”

“Ani… you have your redeeming qualities,” I said. “Don’t feel too bad about it.”

“Haha… kowawo,” he smiled.

We chatted for awhile and filled each other in on our current progress. He held my hand all throughout the conversation. I know I should probably feel a bit uncomfortable, but I didn’t. Maybe I was just as lonely as he was, or maybe we really did still share a connection. In that time, I just wanted to be his friend again, and even though my loyalties are supposed to be with Jae Joong, I chose to be a neutral party at this point. There is no reason for me to take side and shun either one of them at this time. I was sure that in time they would resolve their issues and move on.

“Take care,” he said as he hugged me.

“You too,” I said. “I know you’re really busy with all music shows and variety shows, but do remember to eat well and rest.”

“You too,” he said. “Congratulations on your successful comeback.”

“Successful my foot,” I laughed. “One win counts for nothing.”

“There’ll be many more opportunities as S-Cube grows. It’s still early. You guys have a talent that has been suppressed for too long.”

I agreed with him. Skye and Shoei were superb musicians, composers and lyricists. Being in SM kept them on a tight reign. It wasn’t because they had no appeal that made us a mediocre band for so many years. It was because they weren’t allowed to prove themselves. Now that we were free, we aimed to have success, and if not in the mainstream masses, we didn’t mind the selective crowd. Companies like Fluxus, where Clazziquai and Winterplay were signed, inspired us. They did the kind of music that may never conquer the charts like an idol group would, but they still had enough success from the support of people who truly appreciated their music style.

Later that evening, we received a call. My CF with Hyun Bin has been confirmed, and S-Cube would have 1 song from our new mini-album as the title track of the 10 minute drama CF. Looks like we’re on the roll for the coming month or 2.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

MKR II: Chapter 6

“What do you want from me?” I whispered.

“Nothing…” he whispered back in his husky voice. “I just want you to be here right now.”

“You know you’re never going to stick around,” I reminded him.

“Mianhae,” he said as he stroked my hair with his right hand. “It’s the path we’ve chosen, and I cannot involve you in it.”

I knew what he’d been trying to do all this while. He was trying to disassociate us from each other so that none of the backlash would ever fall on me. He was thinking for my career. S-Cube wasn’t JYJ. We wouldn’t be able to survive the way JYJ has been doing. Even if they wouldn’t let them on music shows and most programs on Korean television, they were still making headlines both for their talent and the controversies that came from their battle with SM Entertainment.

“Sure you won’t regret this?” I asked him, hugging him tightly as the elevator doors opened to his floor.

He let go and held my hand as he lead me out of the elevator.

“Every day of my life,” he said as he walked ahead.

“Ne?” I said, since he left his sentence hanging.

He didn’t answer as he punched in the code to his front door to open it. He closed the door and we stood in the corridor, just the two of us, illuminated by the dim light Hyun Joong had left on for him.

“I will regret this every day, for the rest of my life,” he said.

His gaze was so intense, even in the dim lighting. Tears had found their way down his cheeks. Jae Joong cried like any other human, but this was the first time he had cried for us since he left more than 6 months ago. Seeing his tears brought out mine too. He reached out to cradle my face in his hands as my tears found their way down my face, and he kissed my lips tenderly.

“I’m so sorry,” he said in English, knowing it was the language I knew best, and wanting me to know how deep his apology was.

There were moments when I wished I never saw him again, but at times like this, when I saw how tired he was from all that he was going through, I just wanted to be there for him. I wanted to hold his hand, hold him in my arms, hold his heart and be his rock. I wanted to be his rock because he had been mine for so many years. Whatever I went through, I knew that all I had to do was to seek the comfort he so readily provided. This comfort was no longer available, but the least I could do was to give him what he had given me for so long.

“Kwaench’ana,” I said, and I put my arms around his waist.

He had lost so much weight in the past few months that his body now felt almost foreign to me.

“You’ve put on weight,” he said, obviously trying to break the ice by annoying me.

“So that you know I’m doing well without you,” I said as I pulled away and stuck my tongue out at him.

“I can see that,” he smiled as he stroked my cheek, then he gave it a quick pinch before running off, laughing.

“Yah!” I yelled as I chased after him towards his room.

He flipped on the lights as he sprinted to his room, and I caught up with him just as he crashed into his bed.

“Mmmph…” he said when I landed on him where he lay, flat on the bed.

“Aigoo!” he exclaimed in agony and he flipped over as I rolled off him.

“Take that!” I laughed, and gave him a playful kick on his butt before settling into a comfortable position amongst his pillows.

He slid up his bed and tucked one arm under me to that we could snuggle on his bed. I rested my head on his chest and just sighed. It was always comforting to be this close to him, but I’m beginning to realize that it had become a habit through the years.

“Who do you think you’d be dating now if I didn’t exist?” I asked him.

“Why are you always so random?” he laughed. “Can’t I have stayed single?”

“I dunno,” I replied. “You’ve always said that you needed a wifely kind of woman.”

“Have I?”

“Twaesseo…” I said as I turned my face away from him. “You never mean the things you say anyway.”

“Naega eonje!” he asked as he turned my face back so that I had to look at him, pinching my cheek playfully.

“Always,” I replied and stuck out my tongue.

On days like this, I realized I’m getting tired of it all. When I don’t see him, I miss having him around. When he’s with me, I feel drained. It’s like it takes too much energy to carry on a conversation with him. Eventually, it drifts into some kind of petty quarrel, but we’d always forgive each other and make up within the next hour. We weren’t the kind of couple that held grudges and rarely went for ages without talking to each other. This has been the longest period for us.

My friends tell me that it’s either we were getting too familiar, and that the romance was dying. It was the part and parcel of almost becoming an old married couple, which was the last thing I wanted to be with this man. I think our relationship thrives on us being a dating couple. Or course as time goes along, certain things become routine, but most of the time, we’re pretty spontaneous and we manage to keep things fresh by trying out new activities and going to new places.

We didn’t speak much for the rest of the night. We just got ready for bed and slept till morning. I had to be content with wearing one of his shirts since I’d removed all my stuff from his place when we broke up. We shared a toothbrush like we always did, and I used his facial products since we pretty much had the same type of skin.

Staying the night probably wasn’t the best thing to do when you’re trying to get over someone, but I had a long day ahead and commuting home at this hour would just be a waste of time, so I decided to just throw in the towel and take what I’m given.

I woke up the next morning to the smell of food wafting into the room. It’s weird how I’m able to automatically wake up on time whenever I’m at his place. I suppose it’s because he very helpfully draws the curtains open so that the sunlight would wake me up. I got out of bed, did a good bit of stretching, and freshened up quickly before I left the bedroom.

The weather was starting to get a bit chilly these days, but he’d turned on the floor heating and the house was just the right temperature, even though I am guessing that he probably preferred the temperature a bit lower than I did.

“Ireonasseo?” he said when I appeared in the kitchen.

He was busy serving out a few plates of side dishes; radish kimch’i, cabbage kimch’i, mini Korean pancakes and deep fried anchovies. The main dish for today was miyukguk with lots of tofu and pieces of pork and cubed odaeng swimming in it. There was not a single dish I didn’t like. He even made sure that the anchovies were just fried because I’d always complained about the soggy anchovies they served at restaurants. It was also a recipe of my mom’s that I shared with him; frying the anchovies with sugar and a bit of salt, sometimes with roasted peanuts.

“Masshisseo?” he asked me when I nicked a pancake and popped it into my mouth.

“When does your cooking ever suck?” I smiled back at him.

This is what I missed most; being taken care of by him. Sure, he couldn’t do it each and every day. It was usually on his off days that I would get such treats, but it always made me feel blessed. Sometimes I’m a little ashamed that I cannot do the same for him.

We ate in silence, drowning our rice with the soup and finishing every single bit of the side dishes. Then he brought out more food; a very sinful chocolate and coffee cake, served with Earl Grey tea.

“I wonder why I never put on weight when we were together,” I said in between a mouthful of cake.

“It must be because I keep you on your toes,” he laughed.

“Haha…” I laughed sarcastically. “You don’t know how true that is.”

It’s sad to know that when we were to have such conversations now, he will never tell me to come back to him, and I will never tell him that I long to be by his side again. We both just know that it is never going to work out, and we just want to still be able to enjoy moments like this once in awhile.

“I’ll be moving again” he said as he sipped his tea.

“Moving in with Jun Su and Yoo Chun?”

“Yea,” he said. “It’s more practical since we’re going to be really busy working together. I just hope they will lift the bans soon.”

“They’re just being mean,” I said. “They just want to teach you guys a lesson since what you guys did was pretty much anarchy. You turned the industry upside down, and now some other bands are also following suit.”

“I was afraid they’d try something on S-Cube,” he said.

“Nah… we’re not famous enough for them to care. I was surprised and thankful that all 3 of our contracts expired without any complications.”

“Yea…” he replied. “Drink up, or you’re going to be late.”

I had a live show today, so it didn’t matter if I had fresh clothes or not since I was wearing a coat and I would have costumes where I’m going.

“Here,” he said as he tossed me a paper bag when I entered his room.

“Mwoya?” I said as I peered into it.

It was a blouse.

“I’ve washed it already. You can wear it now,” he said as he went about getting himself ready.

“Komawo,” I said as I took the blouse out of the bag and went into the bathroom for a shower.

I showered quickly and got dressed. It was a short sleeved dark blue cotton blouse with frills on the sleeves and down the front, which was pretty much my style these days; simple with a hint of girlishness. Trust him to get it in the right size and right style.

“Looks good on you,” he smiled when I emerged from the bathroom.

“It was a good choice,” I smiled, “komawo.”

“It’s been awhile since I got you anything,” he sai, “When I saw it, I thought you might like it.”

“I do.”

We put on our jackets and shades and left the apartment. We held hands briefly in the elevator and in the car, and when we arrived at the broadcasting station, I gave him a peck on the cheek and got out of the car. We were going through the motions all over again, but something about today felt that it was the last time. As if from here on, things will never be the same again.

He gave me a little wave, and I returned it before turning to walk into the building. Someday at this same time, we would replace each other with someone else and perform all these things for them. I just wondered when it will be that day come. When will we be able to move on from this love that has taken up so much of our lives for the past few years? Perhaps… perhaps we may never replace each other, ever, and the thought of it is simply agonizing.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

MKR II: Chapter 5

I walked out of the tent that covered the stall we were at and walked a few meters away, towards the quiet parking lot.

“Ok… it’s quiet enough to talk now,” I said.

“You kids sure know how to have fun,” he laughed.

“What do you mean kids?” I laughed. “We’re almost the same age.”

“Haha… sometimes I forget,” he said. “I feel like such an old man these days.”

“You’re not old,” I said, smiling to myself.

“Komawo,” he replied. “I hope I’m not intruding.”

“It’s alright, sonbae. What’s up?”

“You know I’m going off to the army soon,” he started.

“Ne,” I replied.

It had been all over the news. The next week or so was packed with ‘goodbye stages’ for Park Hyo Shin.

“Would you like to join me for one of the performances?” he asked.

Would I ever? I practically screamed down the phone at him. I cannot believe one of my biggest idols just asked me to perform with him.

“Chintcha?” I asked him. “Are you for real? Me?”

“Why not?” he laughed.

I am loving this man at the moment. Although I believe he must be quite blind and deaf to pick me, I am ecstatic to know that he actually thought well enough of me to offer me that spot next to him on the stage.

“When is it?” I asked him.

“The next one is on this Friday’s KBS Music Bank. Can you make it?” he asked.

“I think so,” I said.

I should be there with Skye and Shoei for our single, so it will be an additional performance for me, which is normal.

“Great!” he said. “We’ll need to meet soon to discuss the arrangement of the song since we’re singing a duet.”

“Which song?”

“I guess we’ll be doing ‘I Promise You’, since it’s the one that fits our voices best,” he said.

“Great! I’ll start practicing tonight,” I said.

“Practice?” he said. “I thought you should know it by now? Aren’t you supposed to be my fan?”

“Sonbae!” I exclaimed in embarrassment.

He laughed, as I was silent for a moment, trying to get over the embarrassment. I guess it had always been obvious that I was a fan, and I did mention his influence on me as a performer at numerous interviews throughout my career.

“I’m flattered,” he said. “I was quite flattered to know a singer such as you, and a foreigner at that, actually knew my music.”

“You’re quite famous, sonbae,” I said. “And you are an accomplished singer,” I smiled.

“Komawoyo,” was his reply.

“I’ll miss you while you’re in the army,” I said.

“That’s nice to know,” he said, and I laughed nervously.

We made plans to meet 2 days from then to practice. I was extremely excited to be able to finally work with him officially. A radio show would be a coincidence. A choreographed performance on stage would definitely fulfill my dreams.


“They’re back,” Shoei suddenly announced while we were waiting for our turn  to perform that Friday.

“Nugu?” I asked.

“JYJ,” Shoei replied.

“Keurae?” I said in an indifferent tone.

I seriously didn’t want to be bothered about TVXQ or JYJ anymore. Things have gotten so messy between them lately, and I didn’t want any part of it. With my long history with Yun Ho and Jae Joong being a constant reminder, I didn’t need to be further reminded that at some point I may be forced to pick sides. All I wanted to do now was to complete a perfect performance with Hyo Shin sonbae before he goes to the army.

“Chalhanda,” Hyo Shin sonbae said to be after our rehearsal earlier today. “You’ll do great tonight.”

“I hope so,” I smiled.

“You’ll do good always,” he smiled back.

“I sincerely hope so too,” I laughed nervously. “I really can’t imagine 2 years without you around, sonbae.”

“I’ll be back,” he smiled, and reached out to pat me on the head.

I bowed a little, feeling a bit shy from the attention I was getting from him.

“You’re gonna be here holding the fort till I come back?” he said in jest.

“Ne, sonbaenim,” I laughed as I stood in attention while saying those words.

“At ease,” he laughed.


“We have an extra special stage tonight,” the emcee said. “Let’s welcome a refreshing duet performance of ‘I Promise You’ by Park Hyo Shin and Sierra!”

The arrangement of the song was simple. I had the first part of the song while he sang backup for me, and he had the 2nd part while I contributed with backup vocals, then we ended together. You could only imagine how good it felt to be singing with him. It was akin to being made a part of a choir in the heavens; to hear your own voice blending beautifully with a voice like his. He was famous for his near flawless performances, and I really worked hard to ensure that my voice didn’t waver or went off-key to mar his performance.

In less than 4 minutes, it was over. I felt like I was floating on the clouds throughout that performance. Towards the end of the performance, he came over and put his arm around me as we sang the final chorus. It felt as if we’ve been performing as a pair for all this time. I doubt I would forget this milestone in my life anytime soon.

“You were so cool, nuna!” Skye said when he saw me backstage.

“Yea,” Shoei agreed. “Let’s see you bring that A-game to our song.”

We were standing in the corridor near the stage, watching the performance before ours and waiting for our turn to perform. I was all hyped up from my performance with Hyo Shin sonbae, and I totally forgot how normal it was that I could be high one moment and messed up in a split second. My phone buzzed in my hand, and I looked at it.

‘Great performance earlier… Can we meet tonight?’ he texted.

He sure knew how to pick his moments. He probably thought I’d be in a better and more forgiving mood since I just had that performance with Hyo Shin sonbae.

I sighed, and replied his text in the only way I knew how.

‘Wait for me outside. I should be done in another 2 hours.’

After I’d replied him, I immediately passed my phone to my assistant since I wasn’t allowed to carry it onto the stage. I really wanted to stop thinking about him at this moment and deliver a solid performance tonight. Thank god I managed to.

The energy on the set was explosive tonight. We started off with ‘Words3’ and ended with our faster track ‘Fixated’. ‘Fixated’ was a mid-tempo mixture of R&B and Hip Hop. The most of the lyrics were done by Skye and Shoei, but I managed to pitch in by writing the chorus. I wasn’t sure how the fans would take to it, but hearing them chanting the chorus word for word as we performed the song confirmed to me that they loved it well enough.

We finished our performance and packed up in just under 2 hours. I picked up my bag and got up, drawing curious looks from Skye and Shoei.

“Eodi ka?” Shoei asked me.

“I’m going off with Jae Joong. Don’t wait up,” I said as I started walking towards the exit.

“Do you want me to come along?” Shoei asked.

“Kwaench’ana,” I replied. “I’ll see you kids at home.”

I walked out of the building to find him waiting in his car, parked up front. It wasn’t his usual car, but I’ve seen him drive it around before to avoid being followed since the paparazzi recognised his snazzy cars.

“Are you cold?” he asked me, the moment I got in, and reached to turn up the heater for me.

It was touching to see that he remembered so much about me; my likes and dislikes, my hopes and fears, my ambitions, my desires… and yet, he has no other way to proceed than in the way that hurt me most.

“Aniya… kwaench’ana,” I said.

“Where to?” he asked me.

“Anywhere you like,” I replied as I put on my seatbelt.

We drove in silent until we came to his apartment. I hadn’t counted on him bringing me to his place since he had a housemate.

“Isn’t Hyun Joong home?” I asked him.

“He went touring again,” he replied as he eased into his parking lot and turned off the engine.

We got out of his car and started walking towards the elevator. He flashed his access card at the door that lead to the elevator lobby and held open the door for me to enter first. I hit the ‘up’ button, and we continued to stand there in silence while waiting for the elevator to arrive.

“How’s Jun Su and Yoo Chun?” I asked him, breaking the silence.

I hadn’t seen the both of them for as long as I have not seen Jae Joong. It seemed that they too had disappeared from the face of the earth during the past year.

“They’re fine. They’re visiting their family now, before we get really busy again.”

“So what is it that you guys are doing back in Seoul now?” I asked him.

“You sound like you’re not welcoming us home as well,” he laughed.

“Don’t be silly,” I replied.

The elevator finally arrived, and we both walked in, side by side. The door closed as Jae Joong hit the button to the floor he lived on, and as soon as the elevator started moving, he reached out and pulled me into his arms.

“Kaman isseo,” he whispered when I tried to pull away.

I hated how his voice made me want to stay still for him. I hate how his arms made me melt and want to cling to him forever. I hated that I still wanted him back in my life, even when it was clear he couldn’t guarantee me anything. I hate that I still loved him.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

MKR II: Chapter 4

The lights on the stage dimmed and the opening notes of ‘Hamyeoneun Andwae’ started.

Hyun Joong:       tashi tora-ondago naege keojitmaramyeon andwae
                         tteonaji mallago naege mareul haejumyeon andwae
                          pabogat'jiman na kyesok neol kidarilmyeoneun andwae
                          chal karaneun keu mareun cheoldaero hamyeoneun andwae

                          chebal meollikajin ma chebal meollikajin ma 
                          naega chaljeul su itge
                          neomu meollikajin ma neomu meollikajin ma 
                          nega po-iji ana
                          chebal nal tteonaji mallago teonaji mallago
                          yaksokhaejwo naege chebal

Sierra:                 naegeseo meoreojimyeon andwae
                          tteonaya handago naege mareun hamyeoneun andwae
                          pabogat'jiman na idaero neol itneunge andwae
                          twidoraseon ne moseub cheodaero po-imyeon andwae

                          chebal meollikajin ma chebal meollikajin ma 
                          naega chaljeul su itge
                          neomu meollikajin ma neomu meollikajin ma 
                          nega po-iji ana
                          ireohke ponael su eobdago ponael su eobdago
                          torabwajwo naege… chebal

Hyun Joong:       ha~ oo hoo~
(Sierra:               hoo~)

Together:           chebal nal tteonaji mallago
                         tteonaji mallago… a ha~ ha~

Hyun Joong:      yaksokhaejwo
(Sierra:              yaksokhaejwo)

Together:          oh~ chebal
                        nananana nanana
                        oh hoo~

Hyun Joong had walked towards me after the 2nd line of the first verse and took my hand. We did not let go ever since. Throughout the song, other than occasionally addressing the crowd, we played the role of lovers singing to one another. Longing looks, soft smiles, swinging our arms as we walked across the stage. As always, Hyun Joong was perfect in behaving like the cool and loving boyfriend.

As the song neared its end, Hyun Joong drew me closer until we were in each other’s arms, and he planted a soft, lingering kiss on my forehead. The squeals and screams that the action brought out was deafening.

The crowd was ecstatic when we ended. I spotted a few girls eyes glistening with tears, and it reminded me of how I felt when I heard this song myself. I was glad that Hyung Joong and I was able to accurately convey the feelings of longing that Ji Sun and Jung Min did when singing this song.

“Kamsahamnida,” we thanked the audience as we bowed, still hand in hand.

“That was so beautiful,” one of the staff gushed backstage. “I nearly cried.”

“They were pretty good, huh?” Ssamdi commented.

“Aniya,” I said shyly. “I only hope I did Ji Sun justice."

“You did,” Hyun Joong smiled.

Holding hands with Hyun Joong brought back some memories; memories of the things that I was missing in my life. I asked myself sometimes… did I miss Jae Joong, or did I simply miss having a person to depend on, to love, to share my day, to be intimate with or for comfort and attention. Could I simply replace him with someone else who was willing to be there for me? If only there was such a person.

Excluding those who had to run off of some other show since it was the end of the year, and the season where everyone was super busy promoting a new single, album or participating in a festive event or a radio or television program, the show ended with the entire cast singing a medley of Christmas carols.

Some of the guys ventured off the stage, onto the floor with the audience to get them to participate by singing along. At least 2 security guards had to accompany each of them to prevent the clamoring hands or a crazy fan from swallowing them whole.

We were all paired up on stage, either holding hands or having our arm slung across each others’ shoulder and somehow I ended up being paired up with Hyun Joong. Of course Skye butt in a few times as he preferred to be all over the place. Ssamdi seemed happy enough to be paired with Shoei.

To be honest, Hyun Joong reminded me a lot of Jae Joong. Sure, they were different people, but they just gave off the same vibe; quiet and stable, yet fun and crazy. Distant and sometimes cold… almost untouchable, and yet when they sang and spoke to you in earnest, their voices are filled with emotion that would touch your heart… once you‘ve learnt to read them. If I had met Hyun Joong before Jae Joong, it’s very possible I would’ve ended up with him. That is if he was even interested with me to begin with.

Hyun Joong was riding on a huge wave of popularity at the moment. Similar to Jae Joong, he was very much in the news these days. After his drama Playful Kiss, he’s started touring around Asia. He had recently returned from Singapore, and up till now S-Cube has not even started touring Southeast Asia yet.

“Pureowo…”I said to him a little later.

We were sitting outside the hall resting, each with a cup of coffee from the vending machine while waiting for the rest of them to get out of there so that we could go for a drink.

“Mwoga?” he said as he peered into the cup, studying the steam coming of his cup.

“The success you have now,” I said.

“How many times have I collapsed in the past year?” he laughed softly.

“Price to pay for the fame and money,” I replied, grinning at him.

“You think it’s worth the pain?” he asked.

“I don’t know…” I replied. “For those who feel they are living the dream, it is. For those who do it because they have nothing they can do better, it’s not.”

“Well said,” he smiled.

“So which one are you?” I asked.

“Hmm…” he said as he sipped his coffee, the sound echoed from his cup.

“Come on…” I said in English, and he made a face at me.

Hyun Joong wasn’t a bit fan of the use of English, mainly because he felt he wasn’t good at it. But I’ve always thought that his accent was fine.

“Which one do you think I am?” he turned the question back to me.

“Hmm…” I thought for a minute. “I think you’re a little of both.”

“Hahaha!” he laughed his boyish laugh. “Is that your attempt at a diplomatic answer?”

“I’m not sure…” I said, and gave him my best ditzy face.

“No wonder you drove him nuts,” he said, after making that ‘chih’ sound of air exhaled sharply between his teeth, like an old lady.

I didn’t know what I could say in reply of that statement. Maybe I did drive him nuts too often, and that made the hard times harder to bear. Maybe I pushed everything to the edge, not knowing when to stop, and this is what has become of us. In all that craziness, I do still believe he loved me, but maybe not as much as I would have wanted him to. I wish that I could tell him he did his best now, and how much he has done for me, rather than how much he has not done for me.

“Ya…” Hyun Joong called to me, waving his hand in front of my face. “Mianhae…” he said. “I didn’t mean to put it that way.”

I need to stop allowing my thoughts to read on my face like it was a notice board. There was a reason why I was never allowed solo interviews; they all knew I couldn’t handle it when forced to spill.

“Kwaench’ana,” I smiled. “All in the past.”

“No it’s not,” he said as he came to sit next to me. "Not the way I see it."

Hyun Joong put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer to him. If you were wondering, we weren’t really stiff strangers. I’ve met him and gone out with him and Jae Joong often enough to be able to feel comfortable with him doing something like that.

“Do you know…” he said, “Jae Joong was always telling me how much you meant to him; how you were his rock. He would not have lasted those few years back without you by his side.”

“Really?” I said softly.

It’s a bit tough to hear good things about yourself, especially when you feel that the person who said it didn’t feel that way anymore. How did he expect me to believe that I was that important to a man who left me?

“Chintcha…” he said, his hand coming to the back of my head to stroke my hair. “In the years I’ve known Jae Joong, since his debut as a singer, he had never been calmer and happier till he met you. Sure you two have been through a lot together. All the fights, the arguments, the tears, but you were still the one whose hand he wanted to hold, whose voice he wanted to hear before he fell asleep.”

A single tear had rolled down my cheek, and I wiped it away as casually as I could. If I were all those things to him, why wasn’t he beside me, telling me these words right now?

“Ya… uljima…” he said. “They’re gonna be out any minute and they’re gonna beat me up for making you cry.”

“Why can’t he say all this to me in person?” I asked Hyun Joong.

“Because he’s a man…” he smiled. “And I’m being incredibly nosy. I shouldn’t have told you all that.”

“It’s much kinder to be cruel in these situations,” I smiled and he smiled back.

“I’m glad you’re finding a way to move on,” he said. “I don’t know what are the chances for the two of you to start over, but as your friend and colleague, I’d much rather see you focus on work now.”

“Araso,” I replied.

“Chal sara,” he said.

“Araso!” I laughed at his insistence.

The rest of them finally filed out of the hall and we went off for our supper and drinks. In the middle of the ‘festivities’, which meant Skye was on a chair singing and yelling again, my phone rang. The caller ID flashed Hyo Shin sonbae’s name. I was nervous for a moment. He said he’d call, but I wasn’t sure for what. I took a deep breath and answered.


“Sierra?” he said my name.

I loved how he said my name. His deep husky voice sounded like he was practically singing it.

“Ne, sonbae,” I said.

“Is this a good time to talk?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said. “Chamkanmanyo. I’ll step out for awhile.”