Historien bak en fashionista fra Mokpo~

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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 the cute magnae of B.A.P, Zelo.

As the last person in the Hot Debut Story lineup, Zelo is the youngest of the members but also holds multiple skills in not only rapping but dancing and acrobatics as well. His skills were recognized through the promotions for unit duo Bang & Zelo last December with Bang Yongguk in promoting “Never Give Up.” On a random day in April, Zelo greeted the reporter with his bright eye smiles like any other magnae of a group would, his gaze different from the strong gazes he normally presented on stage.

“Hello, I’m Zelo and my real name is Choi Junhong. I was born in Mokpo of Jeonranam on October 15th, 1996 and I am the younger of two sons. The precognitive dream of my birth was my grandmother from my father’s side giving my mother a basket holding a giant potato. I think because of that dream is the reason why my skin is so pale (laughs). My grandfather from my mother’s side also had a precognitive dream of my birth in that he saw a dragon fly over the roof with a Buddha statue in its mouth.”

Since he was younger, Zelo held the type of personality where he had to accomplish what he wanted to do. Because he had a strong greedy side, it’s shocked his mother a lot.

“I think I’ve always fought since I was younger. I kind of have a troublemaker image so I would lie down across the middle of the sidewalk in whining if my mother didn’t buy me something I wanted. If I had the thoughts of always needing something, then I’d have to have it. Of course, the aftermath was me being in deep trouble from my mother later on haha.”

The dream of young Zelo was to become a soccer player. Every summer, he never grew tired of the humidity in that he always played soccer. It was a mistake to assume that soccer was a mere hobby of his as his passion for soccer alongside his skills accompanying it was popularly rumored around the area.

“In entering elementary school, becoming a soccer player was my dream. I only remember playing soccer every day and when I was in fifth grade, it was to the point where I was scouted to join the youth soccer team of our district. If I chose to go down the path of soccer opposed to the singer I am today, then I’d think that I’d be a soccer player as of today (laughs). However, with the disapproval of my parents, I had no choice to throw aside my dreams of becoming a soccer player.”

With his parents disapproving his dreams of becoming a soccer player, Zelo tried rebelling like none other. Although it was a decision made by his parents for the good will of his future, Zelo was still shocked at such a young age. But soon enough, Zelo began recognizing the charms of something else.

“I used to listen to songs with my MP3 player and having grown tired of soccer, all I could think about was the choreographies of senior idols on television one day. Since then, I’d copy their dancing and practice in detail. When I was at home, I’d practice in front of the mirror alone in doing things like beat boxing as well.”

“With my older brother going to study abroad, I was stuck at a dazed state. It’s because I spent every day with my older brother that I didn’t really know how to make friends. It’s also my fault that I have a shy personality haha. I remember playing hide-and-seek with the younger kids of our neighborhood.”

And in spending his days, it was the year when Zelo was in 5th grade that through an acquaintance that recognized his talent in which he was introduced to an academy located in Gwangju. It’s also well-known because Seungri of Big Bang had attended the same academy.

“In the end of 5th grade, I was introduced to the academy that senior Seungri attended in Gwangju and I was criticized a lot for my fashion sense at first. At the time, I wore pants that were three-quarters in length and dyed my hair blue in the front and when the director of the academy saw me, they told me, “If you don’t change your fashion sense, then we’re not accepting you.” Since then, I wore skinny jeans and started growing interested in fashion.”

However, this didn’t mean that everyone had hope for Zelo as majority had low expectations for his success and those types of responses are what motivated him.

“I think a lot of people around me didn’t expect me to succeed and especially the label of being “the country kid from Mokpo” became a scar to me and I started changing my mindset. I was driven to focus on each and every area, from my appearance to fashion and music as well.”

Zelo’s capability was beyond what one imagined and earned the title of being the student to learn the fastest and to apply the skills the fastest out of the students in the academy. His fashion sense also garnered attention and he rose as one of the greatest fashionable people of Gwangju. Having already been over 170cm in height during his elementary school years, his abnormal height helped the fitting of his clothes better as well.

“Because I grew more interested in fashion, I clashed with my parents a lot, of whom I was on good terms with before. Because I tended to want clothes that reflected my character best, the clashes between my parents and I happened since they wanted me to dress averagely (laughs).”

He didn’t learn about fashion only as he officially began learning dancing, singing, and beat boxing around this time as well.

“I think what I learned in the academy was a big help to me and due to my capability of being able to apply what I learned fast, people started calling me a rising star but I wasn’t really sure. I couldn’t be satisfied despite hearing compliments such as those and I don’t think I ever was in a state of satisfaction before.”

In attending an academy at such a young age, Zelo had hardships that came with his desires of increasing his skills and it was that he had to sell his possessions for fares to get to Gwangju where the academy was located, an hour distance from Mokpo which is where he lived.

“I took the bus every day from Mokpo to Gwangju to attend the academy and the fare wasn’t all that cheap either. In thinking of my parents who always covered for me, I was driven to work harder and since then, I learned how to save up my money.”

Those who had underestimated Zelo’s success started changing their perspectives into a positive outlook in seeing him grit his teeth to work hard. In not succumbing to the compliments around him, he was given the opportunity to meet the musicians of his dreams as he continued to work hard in increasing his skills.

“One day, seniors Dynamic Duo came to perform at the Gwangju Gwangcheon Terminal and the two of them took a photo with me. I thought that they wouldn’t take a photo with just me but they did and I was really happy. Since then, I started liking seniors Dynamic Duo (laughs).”

However, his fate with Dynamic Duo didn’t end there as he appeared as a guest of their performance.

“On Christmas, I remember seeing seniors Dynamic Duo at a performance in Gwangju and I even stood as a guest for their performance. I remember singing the song ‘Solo’ then and I remember asking for them to ‘raise me’ (in becoming a singer) but they said it would be difficult because they were enlisted at the time (laughs). It’s an unforgettable memory.”

Zelo didn’t let go of his studies to dance, but spent his days in school as he also had an unforgettable teacher.

“I attended Jeil Middle School in Mokpo and for all three years, I think I met good homeroom teachers, teacher Jo Hyunjin who taught science being the most memorable of them, all. Seeing my peers solve hard problems so easily during class made me wish I was studious also but in trying to start, it seemed difficult and my teacher at the time had given me the advice, “Do what you like consistently because that’s what’s important.” I gained courage from those words and worked hard in both dancing and studying.”

In attending an academy at such a young age, Zelo had hardships that came with his desires of increasing his skills and it was that he had to sell his possessions for fares to get to Gwangju where the academy was located, an hour distance from Mokpo which is where he lived.

“I took the bus every day from Mokpo to Gwangju to attend the academy and the fare wasn’t all that cheap either. In thinking of my parents who always covered for me, I was driven to work harder and since then, I learned how to save up my money.”

Those who had underestimated Zelo’s success started changing their perspectives into a positive outlook in seeing him grit his teeth to work hard. In not succumbing to the compliments around him, he was given the opportunity to meet the musicians of his dreams as he continued to work hard in increasing his skills.

“One day, seniors Dynamic Duo came to perform at the Gwangju Gwangcheon Terminal and the two of them took a photo with me. I thought that they wouldn’t take a photo with just me but they did and I was really happy. Since then, I started liking seniors Dynamic Duo (laughs).”

However, his fate with Dynamic Duo didn’t end there as he appeared as a guest of their performance.

“On Christmas, I remember seeing seniors Dynamic Duo at a performance in Gwangju and I even stood as a guest for their performance. I remember singing the song ‘Solo’ then and I remember asking for them to ‘raise me’ (in becoming a singer) but they said it would be difficult because they were enlisted at the time (laughs). It’s an unforgettable memory.”

Zelo didn’t let go of his studies to dance, but spent his days in school as he also had an unforgettable teacher.

“I attended Jeil Middle School in Mokpo and for all three years, I think I met good homeroom teachers, teacher Jo Hyunjin who taught science being the most memorable of them, all. Seeing my peers solve hard problems so easily during class made me wish I was studious also but in trying to start, it seemed difficult and my teacher at the time had given me the advice, “Do what you like consistently because that’s what’s important.” I gained courage from those words and worked hard in both dancing and studying.”

As Zelo raised his dancing and singing skills in Gwangju, it was until he caught the eye of a representative of an entertainment company that he moved to Seoul after being casted.

“I ended up moving to Seoul when I began a trainee life for a certain entertainment company. Of course, I had fears of my fellow peers in Seoul and due to my height – almost nearing 180cm – I was picked on a lot. I acted confident on the outside but on the inside, I was a bit scared (laughs). However, I soon adjusted into the lifestyle and had fun in school.”

Zelo had his hardships in having to juggle his school life as well as his trainee life, but he overcame the obstacles in reminding himself that soon he would be able to accomplish his dreams.

“It wasn’t easy multitasking both my studies and training, but I think I spent the time in a fun manner. I just had a strong urge in wanting to debut already and in seeing the image of myself having already accomplished my dreams right before my eyes, it made me practice harder.”

However, his debut was pushed back a little due to the state the company was currently in and instead, he was able to stand on a stage for a musical as he got a taste of a whole new world.

“In my third year of middle school, for a semester I performed on a teenage musical stage for about a month. I learned then on how to interact with the audience and because of the state the company was in at the time, I ended up leaving and took a break for a few weeks afterwards (laughs).”

His break didn’t last long however, as a representative of his current company had noticed his skills in leading him to another trainee life.

“The first person I saw at the company was Yongguk hyung. In seeing his skills, it made me think, “I can’t fall behind him.” I was driven to do better than Yongguk hyung and that thought hasn’t changed since (laughs). I had a lot to learn as well and in living with him, it made me think that I’ll never falter and how I’ll always be at standing at the same place (if with him).”

And suddenly, the time has neared to an end for our interview with Zelo. He delivered his message of determination as not the magnae of the group, but as a member of B.A.P.

“I like acting like a child in running and jumping around the hyungs but I still have the thought to respect the boundaries I’m given. I do often think that I have to act adult-like and I plan on working at my hardest to become a figure that this team will need. I will continually run towards the top without faltering to conceit so look out for me (laughs).”

And that is the end of the Hot Debut Story interviews we held with the six members of B.A.P. In being able to feel the innocence, their passion for music, and how much they treasure their fans the most, something we normally couldn’t see from their stage performances, we were filled with maximum expectations in how the group B.A.P will evolve in the future.

Kilde: Heodang, Herald