Na Hoon-a denies gangster rumors, drops his trousers
|Singer Na Hoon-a yesterday denied rumors he had been viciously attacked and castrated by a Japanese ganglord. By Kim Seong-ryong|
One of Korea’s most famous singers nearly dropped his trousers in front of about 500 people and a nationwide television audience at a packed news conference yesterday to refute rumors that he had been the victim of a savage attack.
Na Hoon-a, a 61-year-old singer known to generations of older fans as the “the legend of Korean pop,” made his first public appearance in one year yesterday.
The legend went missing last March when he canceled his annual concert at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts at the last minute. During a 42-year career as a singer of traditional country-tinged pop music, Na’s annual concerts have always sold out quickly.
A series of rumors surrounding his disappearance quickly spread, including one that his penis had been cut off by a jealous Japanese gangster.
At the news conference in the Grand Hilton Hotel in western Seoul, the singer sought to prove that his manhood is intact and that the rumors, which he said have driven him to despair over the last year, are groundless.
To verify he had not been damaged, Na stood on a table at the press conference, lowered his black pants and revealed his underwear as reporters shrieked and a live television feed cut away from the scene.
“You don’t believe me? I have to show you,” Na said, unfastening his belt as if he was going to drop his trousers completely. He stopped short of displaying himself, however.
For months Internet sites have buzzed with rumors that a Japanese Yakuza mobster had taken revenge on Na because he had an affair with a popular South Korean actress the gang boss was also seeing.
The tales of the alleged mistress, identified as “K” in most rumors, have led two glamorous actresses, Kim Hye-soo, 38, and Kim Sun-a, 33, to suffer from speculation that one of them was the mystery woman.
Some media outlets have reported the rumors in celebrity gossip sections in recent weeks, prompting both actresses to deny the stories last week.
“I think Kim Hye-soo and Kim Sun-a are shocked by these rumors. They might continue to suffer from the aftermath,” Na said, holding back a sob. “I was not castrated and I have nothing to do with the women. All these Internet users spreading false rumors should apologize. You journalists should protect the actresses.”
In addition to the rumor that he was unkindly cut by the Japanese gangster, other versions of events had him suffering from throat cancer. Rumors of his alleged affairs with unnamed actresses continued.
Na, whose middle-aged fans, mostly women, swoon with passion during his performances, said he was just taking time off. There will also be no concert this year, he said.
By skipping the concert last year, Na and his management agency lost tens of millions of won in deposits paid to reserve the prestigious concert hall.
The rumors grew so intense that police recently launched an investigation into the matter. Police announced last week that the rumors are all groundless.
“It was just a vacation. When I finished my concert in 2006, I planned to refresh myself,” Na said. “While on vacation, I traveled to Jeolla and Gangwon provinces. I also enjoyed visiting 14 countries. I recently returned to Korea and I am healthy.”
The veteran singer also vented his anger toward the press. “The media killed me with their pens,” he said. “I had no choice but to call a press conference to correct the wrongs.”
“The aftermath of this will be long. I have too many gray hairs to wait for this to calm down,” Na said. “I have people around the nation who love me, and I was only able to overcome the hardship because of them.”
Born in 1947, Na debuted as a singer in 1966. He achieved stardom and was the most famous singer in Korea in the 1970s. He has won numerous awards including being named singer of the year in 1972 by KBS.
The singer said he is not sure he can ever recover from the terrible pain he feels from the rumors. “I am in a terrible mess,” he said. “I am not sure I can get over this. When I don’t have a dream in my heart, it is too painful.”
By Park Sang-woo Contributing Writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]