[ENTERTAINMENT]Their acting talent is so good it singsCan you imagine a lip-synching pretty boy or girl band still dressed up in gaudy outfits, prancing around the stage in their mid-40s? Two words: "Michael Jackson." No, old pop stars don't die, they just fade away. Or their sales do, at any rate.
"It is questionable whether a pop dance singer or group could go on for more than a decade," said a publicist of a local pop group, Toya. Though the local music industry monster requires new idols to feed its voracious appetite, few pop singers transcend their era.
One of the most ancient pop groups in Korea is FinK.L., pronounced "pinkle" and short for "Fine Killing Liberty." Don't ask. They've been around a whopping five years. But the glory times cannot last forever, so recently the four members started solo careers, not as singers but as a TV actress, a radio disk jockey and an emcee of a TV comedy program. A multitalented singer is hardly unique in Korea, but nowadays it has become a full-out trend. As long as their popularity spills over into their new jobs, boosting ratings and making money, no one complains.
"Time Machine," a TV program at MBC-TV, had its ratings soar by having Lee Hyo-ri, a member of FinK.L., co-host. Lee cut against her former alluring image by acting comical, a change that met with great enthusiasm. "If a pop singer appears in a program, ratings are guaranteed," said Cha Ju-hyuk, a public relations manager at MBC.
For singers, the most natural direction to move in seems to be acting. Many of the biggest television actors have recently made the leap to the big screen and aren't interested in going back, leaving a vacancy that's being filled by pop dance singers.
Seong Yu-ri, another member of FinK.L., is trying her luck in "Nabbeun Yeojadeul" (Bad Girls) as an innocent young woman who tastes the bitterness of life after being dumped by her boyfriend. Though her former specialty was being cute and pretty, Seong is trying to prove her acting abilities.
It's not only young women dance singers who try a finger in other field. Shin Seong-woo, a rock vocalist with dashing good looks, is starring in an MBC drama, "Wigiui Namja" (A Man in Crisis). And there are more waiting in the wings, including former H.O.T superstar Kang Ta.
Movies are fair game, too. Uhm Jung-hwa, who first started her career as a musical actress but found fame as a dance singer, recently starred in "Gyeolhoneun Michinjisida" (Marriage Is a Crazy Business), which has sold a healthy 800,000 tickets after just three weeks.
In July, a movie, "Gin-geup Jochi 11-Ho" (State of Emergency No. 11), will be released, starring more than 10 singing acts. Produced by Seo Se-won, the same man responsible for the hit "Jopok Manura" (My Wife Is a Gangster), "State of Emergency" is the bizarre tale of a Korean president, threatened by Michael Jackson becoming president of the United States, ordering the arrest of all pop singers on the peninsula.
Many voices have expressed skepticism over this recent turn. After all, if singers all switch to acting, who will do the singing? Actors?
by Chun Su-jin