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.”