Inside StardomInterview by Esther Klung; Translation: Andrea Maag
K: Why did you go to Korea?
My German university was offering an exchange semester here in Seoul. Moreover, if it is possible, I want to work in Korea later, so I see this as a chance to get to know the people and the working world here a little better.
K: What did you do there?
Besides my studies I took a four-week language course. I also went to some concerts. For my last three months here I am now working at Stardom.
K: How did you become overseas fan manager / marketer for Stardom?
Actually it all happened by chance. At the end of October I was at an event and was addressed by someone. They asked me what I was doing in Korea and why I was interested in K-pop. As it turned out, the person was a manager from Stardom. He gave me his business card and told me to call him so we could talk about a job. They were looking for someone who could work in the overseas management department. After a number of visits, face-to-face talks and submitting a variety of documents – among others a CV (in Korean, of course), previous media design work as well as a design for a potential ToppDogg website (which was supposed to be my recruitment test) – I was called by Stardom and got the job at the beginning of January.
K: What are your tasks?
My tasks are “multifunctional”. Actually I’m in charge of everything that goes on outside of Korea: Marketing, getting in contact with the media, organization of interviews. I also update the official Tumblr, go to events (showcases, fansigns and so on) and take pictures, which I then edit and post. I also edit profile data in four languages and help with translations to English. Other than that I’m bored when there’s nothing to do.
K: What did you like the most about this job?
Hmmm… The most… that’s a difficult question to be honest. I think one time I was able to go backstage at Music Bank. It was quite interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes. Everything is pretty cramped and crowded with all the people in the small rooms and corridors. In addition to that there are also the cameras which have to go through everywhere. The reactions of the members once they understood that I was a member of staff were also very nice. They were pretty surprised whenever they saw me at the company and didn’t know what I was doing there.
K: What negative points were there?
For me personally the worst is the contact ban and the fact that I can’t go to any of the other music shows or fan events. Even when I was backstage, I was not allowed to talk to any of the ToppDogg members. Occasionally it was pretty boring for me to just have to sit around. Apart from that not everything runs smoothly here all the time. One superior will say that one way to do something is right, another will say that it is an entirely different way… From my point of view the problem here is that people don’t seem to coordinate enough with each other. That leads to things going wrong, which I can’t really understand because at times they are really trivial things, like the publishing of teaser images (which could be seen well by the fact that out of 13 teaser pictures for Arario, only 3 were actually published). The whole back and forth is rather nerve-wracking. What is also pretty annoying is that many fans envy me for my job because they think I’m with ToppDogg 24/7. Reality looks pretty different, and sometimes I envy the fans for being able to see the boys so often (since I only see them infrequently). I wonder whether this is really worth it. At the end of the day my heart tells me again and again that this win-lose situation is absolutely not worth it, since I lose much more that is important to me instead of really gaining anything. But then my head knows exactly that in the future it might come in handy that I worked here, and since I have specific plans for the future, my head always wins. Still I wonder if I might not regret this later.
K: What impressed you the most in Korea, and what disappointed you?
It’s impressive that everything here is pretty orderly despite the number of people living in Seoul. Even the metro and train systems work perfectly. (Germany could learn from that.) Even at events and concerts everything is really, really well organized. For example, standing tickets are numbered so everyone goes in one after the other. People don’t push in general, even when there are no numbers. What was really disappointing was that even though Korea likes to appear open to foreigners, in reality that’s not the case. I often have problems with shopping or buying tickets on the internet or even with registering for anything. You need a Korean telephone contract, an Ipin, a social security number or a Korean credit card, but you don’t get an Ipin and most certainly not a credit card without a Korean telephone contract. Not to talk of a social security number which is exclusively for Korean citizens. This is especially noticeable when you go to concerts or music shows. Often you’ll hear people saying things like, “Look, once again these foreigners,” or, “they take away all our tickets”. K-pop should be successful worldwide, but please no foreigners at events in the country itself. That’s what the Korean fans dislike the most: foreigners. They are more noticeable because they look different, so they will get more attention (especially from the beloved band). On the other hand, producers, camera men and the bands themselves think that it’s wonderful to have foreigners with them. It shows how well-known their names are. Quite a few times I was just waiting somewhere and then suddenly someone was interviewing me. Also at concerts and music shows I’m filmed more often than I would like. It’s pretty paradoxical.
K: Did you interact often with ToppDogg? If yes, tell us a bit about what the members are like in person.
I had the possibility to interact with them a few times. At the debut showcase, at a special event, at fan meetings and fan signs, at a photo shooting, backstage at Music Bank and of course at the company (although there I only see them at meals). I have to say that the members all have very different characters and that some of them are pretty different on and off stage. They are also different in how they act with their fans. Each of them knows his fans, acts differently with them and gives them a little extra fan service. Off stage they’re all super nice, even though there is a certain language barrier. At the photo shooting most of them tried to talk to us and interact with us, even if it was sometimes only through sign language. I also noticed that the behavior of the members towards me changed over time. Jiho (XERO), for example, used to be pretty shy. He was just always looking at me and when I noticed, he would grin and wave a little. But he never talked to me even though he knew that I speak Korean. After some time that changed and now he talks normally with me. Hansol is a little angel. He is (almost) always in a good mood, sometimes even a little hyped up, and he can’t sit still, but you just have to like him. He’s someone who’s not really different off stage and to me that makes him very likeable. Oh, he loves chocolate~
Taeyang (Jenissi) is also someone who only loses his shyness with time. He’s not a man of many words when he’s on stage. Off stage he often talks to the other members, but not as much as Hansol. He always looks after everyone. He’s taken on the mother role in the group, but at the same time he’s something like the king because he’s the oldest.
Yano is quite special. He’s not easy to figure out and many people say that he has a 4D personality. He’s always acting cool but he can also be cute. He doesn’t like that very much, but there’s some aegyo for the fans from time to time. He’s not very talkative off stage either.
Kidoh is the friend-type. You can talk really well with him (especially about producing or music). His character is pretty quiet and I have to say a lot more grown-up than many of the other members. The age difference between the older members and the five youngest (Hansol, B-Joo, Xero, A-Tom and Yano) is rather noticeable, even if it is only small. From what I’ve seen so far, Kidoh is not really different on and off stage.
Seogoong is a little peculiar. He’s completely different on and off stage. While on stage he’s always very friendly and does a lot of fan servie, off stage he’s the complete opposite, he’s often very serious. Maybe it’s because of his diet? His favorite foods are burgers, pizza and chicken.
Gohn is a funny guy. Talking with him about all kinds of things is really easy. Once I even discussed piercings with him. He’s at the same time cheeky and kind in his own way.
B-Joo is a gem. While he’s pretty hyped up, he puts his heart and soul into everything. He’s pretty curious but that corresponds to his age. He can also be very grown-up and gentleman-like. He’s someone who notices very quickly when someone else feels uncomfortable and he always tries to help.
Sangdoo is someone who thinks a lot about how he is perceived by others. He often tells the fans that he’s not a “scary man” and that they don’t have to be scared of him. His relatively dark skin and the hairstyle he had around debut seem to have scared some fans. But he is absolutely not dangerous and always in a good mood. He’s enthusiastic even about small things – like soap bubbles.
Nakta is something like a gentle giant. At the beginning he was very distanced, but that changed over time. In person he’s also one of the quieter members.
A-Tom is always available for a game. Even though he doesn’t approach the fans as openly as B-Joo or Hansol, he likes to talk a lot, sometimes also funny stuff. There’s always something to talk and laugh about with him.
P-goon, our leader. The other members always call him bold or clumsy leader. He’s actually pretty nice, but it’s true that he doesn’t talk to the fans a lot – he speaks more with his eyes. Off stage he’s also the most quiet member and he seems rather serious.
Hojoon is someone who approaches his fans by himself. Even if there’s nothing apparent to talk about, he’ll start to talk about something or asks if there’s something you’d like to know.
K: Do you want to return to Korea? If yes, what do you want to do there?
I definitely want to return. I’d love to have another opportunity to work at a Korean company. Preferably I’d like to work in management, where I can organize things, or in creative management since that’s the area I originally come from. Of course I’d also like to visit concerts or other events from time to time. I also want to do things with my friends, meet new people, and get a little closer to my goal.
K: Thanks for the interview
Credit : K-magazin.com