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“How did the celebrities inside our televisions become a star?”

With the outlooks on the entertainment industry rising one step higher, we as the public aren’t just curious about their glamorous images, but their back stories before they became celebrities as well.

We have prepared the column “star story” in our publishing which not only tells a truthful side to stars, but their past that brought them to where they are today. This episode’s protagonist is B.A.P’s Jongup, who is one members of the heartwarming magnae line.

Jongup greeted the reporter with a smile full of mischief following after Youngjae. With his baby face, the reporter was able to get the vibe of his average, yet cute younger brother image when he asked the question, “What kind of things do I have to talk about?”

“Hello, I’m Jongup., I was born in Siheung of of Kyungkido on February 6th, 1995 and I was born very healthily. When I was younger, I was fairly chubby (laughs). Out of the three sons, I am the youngest and I was a mischievous kid who liked to play with his hyungs. An anecdote of when I was younger? Hrm..my mother told me but when I was two years old, we went to America (where my relatives lived) for vacation and said I got lost. Thankfully, I stayed in the same place and they were able to find me. Although I don’t remember it, just thinking about it now is horrifying to know that I could have been a missing child in a foreign country haha.”

Jongup in his younger days held a personality that goofed around a lot, of whom he hung around with his older brothers more than he did with his peers, showing his love for his brothers.

“When I was younger, I was close to my brothers and I never knew time was passing by when I played with them. Other people said they weren’t close to my brothers but I got along with them as if they were my friends. Thinking about it now, they were kind brothers who’d listen to the request of their younger brother (laughs).”

In being a mischievous kid, there were lots of conflicts he had with his peers as well. Like any other kid, Jongup also had a strong possession over his items.

“When I was in kindergarten, I fought for no reason every day. I would be fine playing until I saw my toy in another kid’s hands and when seeing that, I’d fight with them (laughs). There was also a time when I needed money for kindergarten and I remember I took my piggy bank with me. Later on, I got caught by my mother and got in trouble. I didn’t even have something in specific that I wanted to buy, but I think I just had a lot of greed for money haha.”

And kindergartener Jongup who was full of mischief, faced a hardship in his life which was none other than entering elementary school (?).

“On the first day of elementary school, I remember whining about not wanting to go and was eventually dragged by my mother. I don’t know why I didn’t want to go to elementary school then, but I felt better when my mother bought me a backpack that had my favorite cartoon character, so I decided to go to elementary school hoohoot.”

Jongup transferred elementary schools after a month from the one he was originally attending in Siheung and even then, his mischievous tendencies still continued.

“Till first grade, I stayed quiet because my surroundings were unfamiliar and I didn’t fit in with my peers all too well. However, I started gaining more friends in second grade and played a lot. I would use an abandoned mattress in our neighborhood as a toy and think of a stick as a weapon to play fight with my friends all over our neighborhood. Even when I think about it, I was a mischievous kid.”

However, in playing like this every day, he would put his studies behind, spelling tests especially being one of the most difficult tasks for little Jongup.

“Playing with my friends every day, my spelling tests were always marked up as 0 haha. There was a kid I played with who always got 100 that I started to become jealous of one day and so I began studying. Studying for about a month, I got a 90 on my test and even my mother was surprised (laughs).”

In his elementary school days, Jongup was a popular kid, his personality of being able to get along with others being one factor but his mother being another huge influence as well.

“Since first grade, my mother started up a restaurant and at first, I complained because I couldn’t adjust to a room where there was no one. Later on however, I knew my mother was sacrificing for me so I would help out with dish washing at her restaurant. On days off, she would make hot cakes or other delicious foods (since she had a chefs license) and that’s how I was popular amongst my peers (laughs).”

Like any other kid, when Jongup entered his older elementary school years, he fell into computer games. However, he wasn’t necessarily so into computer games since he had one computer in his home as he and his brothers all had to share one.

“Since we would use it on rotation between my brothers and I, there were days where the computer would be on all day and we got in trouble because the electricity bill came out high haha.”

Jongup who enjoyed playing with his friends opened his eyes to a whole new world when he moved onto middle school, officially taking an interest in dancing.

With Jongup graduating elementary school, he moved onto middle school where he faces a whole new world. To Jongup – who had just entered middle school then – everything was fascinating in his eyes and different kinds of extracurricular activities garnered his attention.

“I did extracurricular activities in my first year of middle school and joined cross-stitching with my friends and I don’t really know why I did choose cross-stitching then haha. Finding out that there was a club for dance was later on and after following my friend to the dance club all the time, I ended up joining as well.”

Jongup fell for the charms of charms of bboying when he saw his seniors in the dance club bboy and for a good while, he couldn’t find himself to detach away from it; he even hoped to become an awesome senior of the dance club in the future.

“Seeing the seniors dance, it made me think of how I wanted to try it for myself and since then, I literally only practiced. It was to the point where I’d go practice during school vacations. Around the end of my first year in middle school was when I went out to bboy competitions or school festivals the most. It was really fun to the point where I’d practice dancing more than playing with my friends.”

And it was during this time that Jongup tested his competence when entering official competitions. Despite being at such a young age – his second year of middle school – he was chosen as the representative of Bundang-gu to enter a competition where he showcased his skills. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to win a trophy but he claimed it to be his most memorable competition. Despite moving up grades in school, his passion for dancing continued.

“I was still active in the dance club during my third year of middle school. This was the time where I entered the most competitions. After placing 2nd in an open competition, I entered another one but still placed 2nd unfortunately. I entered during my second year in this same competition before and at the time, I didn’t earn any trophies so placing 2nd was a bit disappointing but that was what comforted me (laughs).”

However, Jongup’s life changed completely with this competition and it was because this was the time where his current company had scouted him in recognizing his skills.

“I met the person who was in charge of recruiting at the competition for the first time. In my first year of middle school, I got a phone call to audition for them and I didn’t have anything prepared necessarily so I danced to Usher’s song that I did for the qualification exam for my high school [*T/N: Like Himchan auditioning with drums for his Korean traditional music high school, Jongup auditioned for his “major” to enter his arts high school]. What did I feel at the time? I thought I was disqualified for sure. The person who was judging my auditions had a serious face (laughs). I was going home in almost having gave up but I got a call of them telling me, “It’s hard preparing to become an idol but do you think you can do it?” I shouted “Yes” of course haha.”

August of his first year in high school,  Jongup officially became a trainee and started an unforgettable summer.

Selected as a new trainee under TS Entertainment, Jongup was the second to have had the longest trainee days after Bang Yongguk among the B.A.P members. With everything being fascinating in the eyes of Jongup, how did Bang Yongguk appear to him?

“When I became a trainee, Yongguk hyung was alone. At first, I thought he was a hip hop teacher. If anyone took a look at him, they’d think that he was a person of hip hop for sure (laughs). Yongguk hyung called me over and after introducing himself, he asked me, “Do you like hip hop?” I remember replying to him that I did. Now that I think about it, I’m a veteran of the trainees after Yongguk hyung haha.”

However, Jongup couldn’t do much as soon as he became a trainee and the reason was because at the time, the group B.A.P was still being sketched out which heightened his fear for the future.

“In my trainee days, I did train but there were more times where I did nothing. That period of time was the most difficult for me and I used to fear that I’d spend my trainee days and it’d just end. However, after starting it up a little with the other trainee hyungs, I started finding hope again.”

Jongup, who joined as a trainee after Bang Yongguk, revealed that he lived with him. Despite the rigorous trainee days, what was the biggest strength to Jongup was Bang Yongguk who always watched over him and was a dependable figure to him.

“At the time, Yongguk hyung liked being alone so we’d sleep separately too. Then one day, Yongguk hyung started sleeping next to me and that’s how we spent our days in depending on one another to overcome the obstacles. An anecdote of our trainee days? Our practices would end late into the night and I would be so tired to go to school and Youngjae hyung went to the same school with me, but we were so glad that our school was the last bus stop since we could get plenty of sleep in between (laughs).”

It was also during this time when Jongup had a role model who helped his desires of becoming a singer grow even more.

“I really like an American artist by the name of Chris Brown and he made me want to become a singer. Before finding out who he was, I was uncertain about being a singer for an occupation but seeing him solidified what I wanted to accomplish and as the result, I am now promoting as a member of B.A.P (laughs).”

And soon enough, Jongup’s interview was nearing an end. In conclusion, he spoke out about future plans and his gratefulness for fans.

“Although I’m scared often, I feel that I’m able to show a lot of different sides to myself on stage and in a way, it makes me think that I’m fit for being on stage haha. With the difficulties in finally being able to make a debut, I won’t lose my roots and I’ll work at my hardest. Also, we have dependable figures that are fans and we’ll return the favor to the abundant amount of love we receive from them and that we won’t disappoint them. We hope that you look out for us lovingly (laughs).”

Kilde: Heodang, Herald