As the South Korean artist gears up for a two-year break from the entertainment industry, his fans are confident he’ll emerge from military service stronger
In nine years, Rain has gone from an unknown backup dancer to one of Asia’s hottest stars. The South Korean actor-singer also has two Hollywood movies to his credit.
But his thriving entertainment career must be put on hold later this year when he reports for two years of mandatory military duty. It’s a topic the 28-year-old performer doesn’t want to discuss.
In the southern Chinese gambling enclave Macau for the latest stop of what is likely his final Asian tour before military service, Rain made sure the media couldn’t ask him about his imminent break from the entertainment industry.
At a news conference — delayed by 2 1/2 hours — before his concert at the Venetian Macao casino-hotel late on Saturday, organisers banned questions that were not preapproved by Rain’s managers. Instead of discussing how the break would affect his entertainment career, Rain spoke about Macau and fan reaction around Asia.
He talked about his new movie, Living in the Sky, in which he plays a pilot, and said he wanted to make more action films and take on romantic roles in TV dramas.
Few details of his military duty have been disclosed, but he told South Korean media last month that it would start at the end of this year.
All able-bodied South Korean men must join the military for about two years of service sometime between the ages of 18 and 35.
In his short career, Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji-hoon, has released five Korean albums and a Japanese record and launched a film and TV career. He has also crossed over to America, appearing in a “dance-off” against comedian Stephen Colbert and starring in the Hollywood action thrillers Speed Racer and Ninja Assassin.
But Rain thinks his entertainment future lies in Asia. “Now, America is no longer dominant. Now many Asian movies and songs are very popular. The two regions have the same status now,” he said.
Rain’s fans are confident their idol will emerge from the two-year break unscathed. Several dozen die-hard fans were camped out outside the concert venue six hours before show time.
“He is a very hard-working person. Serving in the military will improve his determination. It will make him more manly and more mature. His career might take a different direction after his military service, but I think he will keep getting better and better,” said 21-year-old university student Zhao Wenwei.
“All his fans think that if he is gone for two years, we will not forget him. We will remember him by watching his movies and other past works,” said the Shanghai resident, who shelled out $255 (Dh936) for her ticket.
“The two years of military service will help build his endurance,” said Ivy Tang, an 18-year-old university student from the southern Chinese city Guangzhou who travelled to Macau with about 60 fellow members of a Rain discussion group on the Chinese search engine Baidu.