Wednesday, November 2, 2011

people: Lee Seung Gi (Korean singer/actor)


To be brief, the moment I decided to write an article about Lee Seung Gi, I ended up creating an entire "Tribute to Fangirl Insanity" article instead. Basically, it just means that I ramble a lot and tend to wander off course without abandon until I get my point across.

I have a bad habit of trying to start every blog post I write with some sort of introductory build up, which more or less sometimes has nothing to do with what the post subject is about. But I'm one of those people who don't care to simply "dive" into the subject of the article without some sort of strange introductory piece.

It's only more fun that way, right?

Well, during the resulting Tribute to Fangirl Insanity article, I had wanted to introduce various celebrities and artists in the past I have always obsessed over. For some of them, their fandom was well deserved because they are truly super stars of the Asian media world from singing to acting to onscreen charisma. For others, they were merely my fangirl tendencies going on overdrive because I found one or two things about said person that stood out and I ended up clinging. Usually it's a specific song that sounded really good at the time or a character role that I ended up falling in love with unhesitatingly. Superficial reasons sometimes happen too, but ultimately, there had to have been something about that person that made me web-stalk him or her so religiously.

Of that list of people, some of them are truly talented, but no one can see it among all the other stars of the world. Some of them aren't so much talented, but had been featured to be a hard worker, willing to do anything to succeed in the cruel entertainment world. And then some are just no talent flower vases who are, more or less, doted on by the community for the mere reason that he or she is really just good looking and carries him or herself very well onscreen.

To recap, I had made mention of many people in my tribute article: CN Blue's Jung Yong Hwa from Korea, TVB studio's Bosco Wong and Raymond Lam from Hong Kong, Taiwanese idol Aaron Yan... And the list could just continue to go on and on (just like my tribute article).


We bring the topic into my most current fangirl obsession. Except, whether this person will remain just a brief fangirl obsession or will continue to evolve into an exceptional super star that I can add to my list of top lifetime favorites... This development is kind of still up in the air, but he has all the potential and all the right attitudes and all the charisma to someday hit it big as a mega-super star. After all, he's already stepping that line into international Hallyu fame -- and being part of the Hallyu fame is something that pretty much means that his popularity has been cemented for a long time to come.

Making his debut in 2004 as a high school student, Lee Seung Gi's then hit song Because You're My Woman became a very popular ballad; the song was about a young boy's love for an older woman... however, when we speak in terms of older women in South Korea, even two to three years can be quite an age gap since it is rather untraditional for younger men to date older women. The memorable lyrics of "누나 내 여자라니까" (Noona nae yeojalanikka) became a huge hit and Seung Gi ended up winning a "Best Newcomer" award in various music awards ceremonies that year.

First Album: Dream of a Moth;   Second Album: Crazy For You

Third Album: Story of Separation;   Fourth Album: Shadow

Remake Albums: When a Man Loves a Woman Vol. 1 and 2

Continuing on the road of singing, Seung Gi's vocals only continued to improve with each year and with each new album that he released. In 2007, he won the "Best Male Solo Artist" award in the KM Music Festival with the song White Lie from his third album. In 2009, he released a digital single called Will You Marry Me and it spread throughout South Korea gaining vast popularity; while there was no official promotion of this song, it ultimately received the "Digital Single Bonsang" award in the 24th Golden Disk Awards.

Digital Singles:
1) Will You Marry Me
2) Like the First Time (ft. Kang Min Kyung from Davichi)

Recently, Seung Gi had released his newest song Alone in Love as a prelude to his upcoming new album, which followed release not long afterwards. It chronicles the ideals of dating and falling in love from the stand point of a young twenty-something year old man (himself probably). The song is written by himself and Ra.D and features spoken narration between himself and Han Hyo Joo to illustrate that "fluttering mind of a man who has fallen in love." The second part of the song also includes Seung Gi's first attempt at rapping which is rather cute. Much like his previous digital release hit, Will You Marry Me, this song is upbeat and cheerful, making it a very sweet and fresh love song without all the sap or melodrama that most love ballads are known for.

Already, the song has gained huge success, dominating charts at number one. His 5th album, Tonight, has become widely popular, marking his "comeback" as a singer after a 2 year absence from the music arena.

I could probably go on about Lee Seung Gi's achievements and awards and career movements. But with wikipedia and various other websites already listing every small detail about Seung Gi, there's no reason why I need to repeat words so fervently (as I had done so in the last few paragraphs). To the point, Lee Seung Gi is truly an excellent vocalist in the world of music and continues to slowly improve his singing skills. Web-stalking Seung Gi, however, has brought me to one potentially cementing factor in my list of eternal fandom: Lee Seung Gi's live performance singing is vastly better than his recorded music in albums.

I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. We know for a fact that, being able to replicate your own music live so that it sounds like the way it is recorded in CD format is a big feat for most artists. Sometimes it's hard for them to sound any better than the clear versions of their own music on CD. Performing live has a lot of difficulties, especially when one has to rush through one song after another and still maintain a very energetic presentation. Adlibbing in music is something that people do when they are so experienced and so talented that music becomes their entire life, just like walking, talking or breathing.

With many new young artists nowadays, this is something that isn't easy to do. And so even if they are totally capable of singing live, sometimes you can still hear the sound of a recorded version of themselves singing along in the background; this in turn causes a lot of controversy as to whether or not the singer is actually singing live or is lip-syncing. And then sometimes you hear an echo because the recorded version is going and the artist is also singing along, performing live, but has the luxury of stopping at anytime to do other things, such as dancing or the like.

Sometimes the singer won't have that recording, but is unfortunate enough that his or her live performance doesn't quite stand level with the recorded version; sometimes it sounds strained or too soft or just plain awkward.

Lee Seung Gi, in certain video clips, can clearly be seen to be singing live, almost every time, and for the most part, he usually sounds so much better than the recorded version of the song. In fact, he even adlibs his music, holding notes where the original had not, or changing tones and notes where the original didn't sound like that. But the overall result of his performances, whether he's holding notes or changing tones... It's just outstanding how he already has such an understanding of music that he can so naturally change a thing or two about his song and it still sounds wonderful, and sometimes even better than the first time you heard it.

I will say that this is definitely something that not all music artists are capable of, which is why Lee Seung Gi, with time, will definitely become a great international megastar.

Setting music aside, Seung Gi began his acting career not long after his music debut. In 2005, he guest starred in the Nonstop sitcom and then made his official acting debut in 2006 with The Infamous Chil Sisters. His true fame, however, came in 2009 when he was cast as the main male character of successful and highly rated Brilliant Legacy alongside the likes of Han Hyo Joo, Moon Chae Won, and Bae Soo Bin -- more on this drama will be mentioned when I finally get my act together and start blogging about it, but I would like to praise the series for it's overall ratings' success, attaining the high rating of 47.1% with it's final episode, which most drama series can only dream of. Following Brilliant Legacy Seung Gi was propelled into Hallyu fame when the series became a big hit even in overseas countries. And then in 2010, Seung Gi was cast in his second main lead role in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho alongside the charming Shin Min Ah, further adding onto his popularity.

To be totally honest, young debut actors are always one thing or another -- a hit or a miss. But it's not like you're completely shunned from the acting arena if your first main lead debut was terrible... you simply get cast in lesser roles and hopefully can climb your way back up to the top. And for any newcomer, to start off your acting career almost immediately in a main role in a large production that ended up attaining beyond credible success...

The role of Sun Woo Hwan in Brilliant Legacy was only Seung Gi's second actual acting role and not only did it gain him popularity, but it also seemed to have given him the success and recognition to continue on this acting path if he so chooses. It's not even so much that he's tall, good looking, handsome at the right moments and adorable at the right moments; but his role, though stereotypical and not a difficult feat to present, was really portrayed almost to perfection by Seung Gi. I won't say that he didn't have any flaws, because there are always moments, as there were in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, where his acting suddenly takes a turn for the stiff and he seems too unnatural.

He's the type to seem quite awkward in his role at the beginning, and then has to slowly settle into his character before he can finally bring the character to life. So he's not perfect and there is a vast amount of room for improvement.

However, for a newcomer, this is better than expected. And you easily forgive his few mistakes or flaws because the boy is just so charming. It IS unfortunate, however, that I don't think Seung Gi would make it too well in series where the comedy is intentional and his character must be a bit exaggerated; because, as I will state in the review of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, Seung Gi's character at the beginning of the series really DID give off a fairly awkward and unnatural comedic timing. His expressions can be too overdone sometimes, and his tone of voice sounds too forced when he's supposed to be acting arrogant or stubbornly overconfident... or funny.

At the end of Brilliant Legacy, Seung Gi's suddenly presentation of a strangely comedic Sun Woo Hwan was also a little bit forced. It almost seemed like he was fighting his own laughter in order to portray the role naturally. Instead of achieving what he wanted, those last few moments just seemed awkward and out of character.

Lee Seung Gi is a naturally genteel, congenial and debonair type of man. Acting in a form not similar to his own personality seems to give him difficulties. However, I will admit that his spoiled brat and arrogant personality at the beginning of Brilliant Legacy was spot on and I really DID find myself wondering whether or not I would unconditionally relate with his cause when it came out in the end to explain his irrationally malicious and immature character role. He did very well. But he has terrible comedic timing when he knows the scene needs him to be funny.

Overall, he's still young and acting is something that he can continue to improve in. Comedy just isn't for everyone sometimes.

Aside from drama series, Lee Seung Gi has chosen to break into the television program hosting area as well when he began co-hosting the now highly popular talk show Strong Heart with veteran MC Kang Ho Dong. And so this brings me into Lee Seung Gi's naturally witty and charming hosting skills that come into play when it seems that he is simply being himself. That comedic timing that he's missing in drama series, it looks as if he seems to pick up on it rather well when he's just being natural as a talk show host.

Because many people have pointed out that Lee Seung Gi is not simply an idol with talent for music and acting, but he also has a reputation for being rather intelligent as well. As per wikipedia, despite his busy entertainer's lifestyle, Seung Gi was still able to complete his degree in International Trade and Commerce from Dongguk University within 4 years, graduating in 2009 and receiving a Special Achievement Award from the university. And now he's still continuing his studies as a graduate student between his singing career, his acting career and his variety show obligations.

And so while it came as a surprise to me that he was such a brainy type, it didn't come as a surprise to me that he's able to use his smarts an his wit to get him through being a talk show host. After all, graduating in 2009 would have made him around 22 years old, which is around the same age as when most young adolescents graduate from college with their first degree.

Fellow colleagues guest starring on Strong Heart have made mention how quickly Seung Gi's mind spins, coming up with the right things to say at a lot of the right times. Of course, it's not like he's perfect at natural comedic timing either, finding some of the corniest jokes funny, but this is quite a commendable feat for such a young duckling.

Truly an inspirational young man and becoming more and more attractive by the minute. Honestly, have I EVER mentioned how much I love smart men?

While I haven't had the chance to watch much of the 1 Night 2 Days program that Seung Gi has been participating in since 2007, I'm hoping to find more wonders about him when I can find some proper English subbed versions of the variety show. For more information on this variety show, refer to it's wiki page.

As for his hosting talent in Strong Heart... it's hard not to admit that, given a bit more experience and some proper polishing, Lee Seung Gi could ultimately become a very talented MC next to his mentor Kang Ho Dong. He certainly is already well-loved by his colleagues around for his humble character, his friendliness, and his youthful innocence. Oh yea, it also helps that he's rather good looking and can present some of the most adorable, puppy-like expressions, even if not intentionally. And when he wants, he can look outstandingly handsome. I could probably go on about his physical appearance, but I won't... for now.

How one person so young can be so talented at so many things, at almost everything he does, is too incredible for words. But the truth is, as reported by fans and colleagues alike, it seems that Lee Seung Gi is truly a hard working individual who just wants to do his best in everything. When watching him host Strong Heart, or watching him act out character roles in drama series, and especially when watching his live singing performances, you can tell that Lee Seung Gi puts forth a lot of effort into everything that he does. It's no surprise that he can be so exceptionally good at all of it.

Overall, Lee Seung Gi is a very ideal idol, celebrity, potential super star, up and rising Hallyu star, music artist, vocalist, singer.... whatever it is that you want to call him... To me, he's got potential for excellence, plain and simple.

The fact that good looks comes with the package is a bonus to fans everywhere. Currently at the age of 24, Seung Gi stands at a good 182 cm (which in American terms is roughly 5 feet 11 inches or nearing 6 feet) tall. Tall and handsome seems to be what stands out about him the most, as he has a fairly regal quality about him that makes him more charming than he really is good looking. Soft eyes and smile give him a sort of "puppy-dog" like cuteness that makes you want to smile with him. And despite his maturity, his age gives him that youthful innocence of a child that can capture hearts of all women, young and old (especially older), all over the world (like myself).

Ultimately, I think what I love about Lee Seung Gi the most is the fact that he's not completely perfect even if he IS excellent:

1. In terms of looks, he's really not that good looking and handsome is what I have described him as a first impression; but somehow, you still find him to be rather attractive. I personally never thought of him as handsome or outstandingly gorgeous, but I was still drawn to him for that indescribable "Charm" factor that he seems to possess. And somehow, the more you look at him, the more adorable he starts to look -- also part of his charm, I presume.

2. In terms of acting, he's not the best actor and can come off as unnatural and stiff at times; but again, he's got that indescribable "Charm" factor that allows you to overlook any form of awkwardness he conveys in his acting. It's not that he's not a good actor, he just needs to be fine-tuned and polished a bit more before he can reach that inevitable stage.

3. In terms of hosting, he's not that great of an MC; but he's got wit and intelligence and he works hard to do his best. Being himself is the best thing that he could ever do to sustain his hosting abilities, because by doing so, he puts his best efforts into getting to know the talk show guests and doesn't try to act like anyone else to become an outstanding MC.

4. In terms of singing, he's not the best one out there and when he first started out, his voice was rather hard to accept. But his constant improvement, even at present, which has slowly molded his vocals into a more smooth, refined, and controlled singing voice has made him extremely admirable and respectable.

5. Finally, Lee Seung Gi has a personality much like a little boy who is still growing into a potentially great man. While it is hard to vouch for the trueness to character of any onscreen persona, what we get from Seung Gi is a nice dose of sincerity on top of talent, hard work, and wonders. This is simply judging from his behavior and actions during the hosting of Strong Heart; I have yet to truly understand the workings of Lee Seung Gi as a person, but I know I never will because he IS an onscreen persona after all.


And so this is pretty much why Lee Seung Gi, while starting off as a fangirl obsession, really DOES have the potential to spiral into something so much greater. While my own official list of eternal fandom isn't anything proud to be part of, I normally don't just add anyone to the list due to fangirl obsessions. I'm no professional critic and I'm probably the last person who should be analyzing others' stardom rights. And I might even be making Lee Seung Gi out to be much more extravagant than he truly is because I'm still in that fangirl obsession phase. But I know what I like and I know when a simple fangirl obsession will die out pretty quickly.

I can't a hundred percent say that Lee Seung Gi will become the next person to hit my eternal fandom list, but he has great potential and great talent for just about everything he does. But Seung Gi is still a young new star, even if he's been in the entertainment world for about seven years. He's still developing and he's still learning the ropes, trying out new areas of entertainment and working hard to make his own progress worth everyone's anticipation.

Here's a cheers to Lee Seung Gi, South Korean singer, actor, MC, and soon to be great international super star. Even if he does end up being "just another fangirl obsession" I will continue to follow his career for the fact that I truly DO hope that one day he will prove that I was right about him and that he CAN become that international super star and make it onto my eternal fandom list so that he isn't just left in the past as a memory of having been a temporary fangirl experience.

Basically, in the future, even if I'm interested in other things, if his name ever comes up again, I will immediately show interest just as I do with the likes of Raymond Lam, Andy Lau, BoA... etc...

Lee Seung Gi -- here's supporting you from America and wishing you a great journey to come in all roads of your entertainment career.


On an aside, I also found recent news from -- Lee Seung Gi Discusses Enlisting... that our little Seung Gi will be going into the army soon. It will be difficult to know he'll be gone for a while, but as his fan, I'm already looking forward to his comeback plans in the future. He'll certainly be missed during his absence, but I'm glad he's had such a great line-up of good hits to keep fans reminiscing until his army service is over.

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