After a shot to fame, Zhang Liyin gets frozen for 3 years, Tuesday March 16, 2010 Korea/China
Mar 15 2010, 07:30 PM
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Joined: 31-October 06
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Translation: Wendy @ Chocolyn
Credit: day_dreamer @ Chocolyn - Zhang Li Yin International
After a shot to fame, Zhang Liyin gets frozen for 3 years
At 13-years-old, she entered a newcomer singing competition, where she was discovered by Korean company SM Entertainment, becoming an artist under the same label as major acts like TVXQ, Super Junior, Kangta and Girls Generation. When she was 17-years-old, she released her first single, "Timeless," and in the same year, received the award for Best Newcomer in Korea. But to pursue greater success, she was secretly trained for three years before being allowed a re-debut in 2010.
With a near-perfect voice accompanying the new trend of R&B, she has quickly won the hearts of many fans. Being the first Chinese female soloist born out of the Hallyu Wave, she was given the nickname of the "Chinese BoA". Currently in Korea, but born in Chengdu, Sichuan, her name is Zhang Liyin. Yesterday, Zhang Liyin did an exclusive interview with the paper, telling the story of her journey into the South Korean market.
Believing the talent scout at the singing competition was a swindler
In an idol-based Korean market, Zhang Liyin does not have the beautiful face nor the hot body of an idol, but with her own talents, she has steadily created her own fame with her own strength.
"Thinking back, it feels like a dream," she says, speaking of the time when she got scouted by the Korean company. "My elementary school friend loved the H.O.T. group, and would often give me magazines of theirs to read. One day, a magazine published an advertisement for a talent recruitment contest. Because I've liked to sing since I was very young, I decided to go. I did not think all this would happen. After participating - after I stepped down from the stage, a person suddenly came up to me to give me a business card, expressing that they would like me to give their company a try. On the card, it said, 'SM Entertainment'." After seeing those two words, Zhang Liyin said that she could not think straight.
"When I returned home, my parents said that the star scout could be a swindler." But more surprises would follow for the next few days. "My mom, reading my upset emotions after that, she called up the phone number on the card one day. Unknowingly, the phone number and the company were both real. We discovered that the man who presented the card really was a talent scout. After further discussions with the company, SM invited me to their company as a trainee. Feeling like I was an actress in some movie, I took my first step towards South Korea."
After a shot to fame, she gets frozen for 3 years before a chance at re-debut
In 2003, thirteen-year-old Zhang Liyin started training in Korea, becoming a junior of idol groups like TVXQ and Super Junior. Under the guidance of SM Entertainment - "Building from China, Japan, Korea and across the world" - Zhang Liyin released her first single in 2006. Outperforming expectations for a girl her age, she received her first award 16 days after her debut on SBS Inkigayo. The award for Best Newcomer Soloist at Korea's MKMF award ceremony swiftly followed, solidifying the nickname of "Chinese BoA."
Everybody thought that this young Chinese girl would be bringing more surprises and more success in the future, but Zhang Liyin was suddenly 'frozen' by her company. "I wasn't completely 'frozen'. At the time, my company believed that I was too young, and did not have solid foundation as a strong artist yet. Hoping to 'recreate' so to bring out the best of me, I was secretly trained between 2007 and 2009."
According to Zhang Liyin, a typical artist training course in South Korea includes: Korean language, music, dance, etiquette, and English. A special focus were on vocal lessons, which happens every day. "Sometimes after vocal training, I would sometimes lose my voice. But even then, I would have to keep practising... Movements, facial expressions... You can't lie down for 5 minutes without falling asleep."
Emotional Sichuan girl likes to eat garlic pork
"If you want to work in Korea, language fluency is a must. From learning Korean, a lot of funny misunderstandings have happened. One time, on a skiing trip, I asked someone, 'Do you know how to ski?' But instead, I said, 'Do you know how to kiss?' Because in Korean, "kiss" and "ski" sound very similar, I couldn't tell the difference then. Right after I asked, the boy automatically turned red."
Besides having amusing moments, being away from home caused Zhang Liyin to go through many suffering times. "Sometimes, after training, I would feel very lonely. As soon as I heard my parents' voices over the phone, I would immediately start crying. I remember once, it was Chinese New Year and I had just woken up. My mom called me not long after and for ten minutes, all we did was cry over the phone. During that phone call, I could not even say, 'Mom, I miss you'... Hearing my mom call my name was too painful. I would walk the streets in order to kill time. But who would think that taking walks at night would be even worse? Watching people returning home to their families made the feeling even worse."
Currently living in Chengdu, Zhang Mama tells us that the Chengdu-born Zhang Liyin is a quiet girl who keeps to herself. When she was a child, she had learned 8 years worth of violin and 4 years of the piano, before discovering she really only liked to sing. "Since she was young, Zhang Liyin has always been timid, so crying would be a common thing, but she would only cry when no one else could see her."
As someone who liked to eat spicy foods, Zhang Liyin also felt troubled in Korea where foods were slightly less spicier. "I love to eat Sichuan garlic eggplant and hotpot, but whenever I had a craving, I could only settle for spicy cabbage. Occasionally, I would go to Han Geng's mama's dumpling place to eat, where there would be a greater selection of Chinese foods."
Fearing she will not be accepted on her return to China
Early this year, when Zhang Liyin ends her 3-year long secret training and prepare for a new appearance, the news of Han Geng's and SM Entertainment's contract scandal has made her fans worried over her future. As the sole Chinese soloist in Korea, Zhang Liyin said yesterday that she only hopes to sing well for everybody to listen, and to let other things run its own course.
"I hope there is an opportunity to return to China and expand, but that is also my current worry - fearing that everybody will not accept me. From now on, there will be an increased number of performances in China. If the opportunity presents, my biggest dream is to return home - maybe even in Chengdu - and hold my own solo concert."
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