Sandara Park talks about her experience on being on Filipino TV station ABS-CBN’s ‘Star Circle Quest’ and the hardships that she had to overcome while she was a contestant on the show. Sandara Park had her first taste of the entertainment industry in a foreign country, and is the prime example of a Korean later returning to Korea to debut in their mother country.During the time between 2003 when Sandara Park shot to fame in the Philippines and her return to Korea, she gained a huge amount of popularity. They say her popularity was so big that if you didn’t know who Sandara Park was, then you weren’t a native Filipino.
When she returned to Korea after being active in the Philippines, Korean fans gave her the nickname: “BoA of the Philippines”.
“Becoming a celebrity in the Philippines was a coincidence. One day my friend suggested I try out for the Filipino TV station ABS-CBN’s ‘Star Circle Quest’. I decided to try out for it, thinking that it would be a good experience for me, and in the end, the results turned out unexpectedly good.”
‘Star Circle Quest’ is the Filipino equivalent of FOX’s ‘American Idol’ in the U.S. and MNet’s ‘Super Star K’ of Korea, and during 2004, ‘Star Circle Quest’ was a very popular programme in the Philippines.
Although the initial move to the Philippines made Sandara fall silent after being trapped by obstacles such as culture and language barriers, Sandara never gave up on her dream of becoming a celebrity. Sandara’s parents reassured her with the promise that once she had graduated from high school, they would send her back to Korea again. ‘Star Circle Quest’ was chanced upon by the young Sandara, who was counting down the days till her high school graduation:
“I couldn’t speak Tagalog at the time. I was the first Korean to audition. I didn’t know all the things others did, so everything I did seemed clumsy and awkward. I must have seemed like a fresh image to them (the judges) at the time. I think I was lucky.”
Sandara auditioned in November 2003, and started filming in April 2004. Due to the programme being popular enough to be broadcasted 6 days a week from Monday to Saturday, an increasing number of people began to notice her.
“Filipinos and Koreans expect different things from their artists. The people in the Philippines wanted an all-round entertainer who could sing, act, MC etc. I can totally relate to how the people on ‘Superstar K’ felt. I experienced it for myself firsthand how ruthless survival is.”
Although she may have only auditioned initially on the premises it would be a good experience for herself, Sandara still tried her best. Even when they put the contestants through ‘fear courses’ for them to build up courage, and to help them act better for horror genres, Sandara did not back down. In the end however, some of the fear courses were just too extreme for a young schoolgirl:
“They made us eat stuff like cooked mice and lizards, and go into a house that was apparently actually haunted. They made us do so many awful things like cutting off chickens’ heads. I admit I didn’t eat the mice.”
The contestants’ fearful experiences were all directly broadcasted to be seen by people at home. Although Sandara couldn’t do a few of the terrible missions, she refused to give up on her dream of becoming a celebrity.
“When I cried because I was so scared, the production crew would then make me do things that were even harder, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to do them. What I remember the most was making our own chicken meal. The first task was to behead a chicken in a forest; we had to do absolutely everything ourselves. It was so hard for me.”
Despite her fragile looks, Sandara stayed strong. Even through repeated experiences that would have been difficult for a schoolgirl to endure, not once did Sandara let her parents see her tears.
“I felt like quitting to many times a day. I cried a lot during filming too. I felt like I was all alone in the world. I think it was made worse because I didn’t know anything or anyone at the time. I kept holding on though; I didn’t want to make my parents feel hurt because of my own dreams.”
This truthful side Sandara showed of herself captured the hearts of many Filipinos. In the last voting when the final 5 were decided, she received approximately 500,000 votes via text message. This was a new record for any female contestant who had been on the show. In the ‘Grand Finals’ though, Sandara’s final placing was second:
“I was actually really happy when I didn’t win. I did try my best but even so, I lacked talent and the skill. When they were about to announce the winner I was mentally shouting in my head, ‘Not me, not me!’ There would have been a lot of pressure, you see. When they didn’t call my name I was so happy that I jumped around. Afterwards, I was complimented for being so genuinely happy for my colleague who had won. It was actually because I was so glad for myself. (laughs)”
The Filipino media saw Sandara’s charms as being genuine. Most of the other previous contestants on the show were already signed to agencies and were briefed about what to say and how to act on TV. Sandara on the other hand was inexperienced when it came to TV broadcasts.
“On TV, I would just say anything that came into my head. The reporters really liked me because I would drop a bombshell now and then. I think I was true to my emotions too. I would cry when I was sad and I would let it show when I was happy; I let my emotions show. I think they liked that I was truthful and innocent.”
Translation credits to : sjay.x@ YGLadies.com//Source: Asiae.co.kr