Sultry Singer-Actress Fights 'Bad Influence on Youth' Tag

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Sultry Singer-Actress Fights 'Bad Influence on Youth' Tag

Park Ji-yoon, pop singer and actress, has been trying to claw back her reputation after being condemned by religious groups for distorting the moral values of youngsters with the lyrics in a recent song.

She released the troublesome track, "Celebration of Maturation," in September. In her falsetto voice, she takes on the persona of a young girl coming of age, singing "I want to break out of the mold of 'innocent girl.'" Her detractors said these words encourage young girls to experiment with sex at an early age. The Christian Ethics Movement even urged three major Korean broadcasting companies to ban her from the their programs.

In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition, Miss Park defended herself against the claims. "They are far from accurate. The song was, in fact, a warning to teenagers who are wrongly informed about sex."

Miss Park's sultry and seductive image has won her admiration from young fans, even spawning imitative fashions.

"Her stage fashion - a tantalizing red dress, short hairstyle and dark red lipstick - has been a sensational fad among the young generation," said Jang Jyung-ju, a designer in Seoul. But, in addition to winning her valuable air time, it has also caused her to be branded a bad influence on youthful women by more conservative watchdog groups.

"Actually, in contrast to the images I present, I'm an introspective person," Miss Park said. "I like to read and think alone." She said the condemnation of her music made her angry. "I was trying to make something new. But these people are trying to kill off diversity in musical expression. They tried to block my every move. Also, international trends dictate that young singers have to be sexy these days. And as far as work goes, I want to succeed, at both singing and acting. I don't want to attain instant success and then disappear."

One of her recent efforts to regain public acceptance was a televised lecture she gave to a group of high school senior girls on the arts of beauty and charm. While the talk was apparently well received by her audience, it is not clear if she won any points from her critics..

Miss Park's attempts to recast her image stop short of shedding her glamorous, sexy - and lucrative - stage persona. Her producer, Park Jin-young, has taken pains to provide her with the breathy, R&B dance songs that accentuate her sexual allure.

Since making her debut as a fashion model in 1993, Miss Park has appeared on many television dramas, including Seoul Broadcasting System's "Dinosaur Teacher."

by Kim Jae-seon

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