The genius of Sandara Park

When Sandara Park was in the peak of her career here in the Philippines, she had her share of haters and non-believers.

Many attributed her popularity to the rise in popularity of Koreanovelas of Korean-made soap in the country. Some believed she’s just a flash in a pan with her career just a by-product of the Filipino’s fascination with our Asian neighbors. She was accused of having no real talent, just getting by in the industry because of her South Korean roots.

With all the good things happening to her career now in her home-country, all these doubts can already be put to rest. But if you think about it, Sandara, now also known as Dara, have been showing little spurts of greatness even long before she became part of a worldwide music phenomenon – the super girl group 2NE1.

Sandara started in a reality talent seach, ABS-CBN’s Star Circle Quest in 2004. She competed despite the language and culture barrier and quite impressively, ended her run in the finals. She was not the best actress, singer and host in the bunch but she had the X factor that a lot of showbiz newcomers lack.

Suddenly she was the country’s sweetheart. Her tagalog became better  – so good she spoke better Tagalog than Martin Nievera or Sam Milby. She was one of the most subscribed celebrities in K-Text (the artistas’ way of communicating with fans pre-Twitter era), with her legion of fans awaiting her every update. Her billboards were literally spread out all across EDSA.

Suddenly, this girl who many people said couldn’t act or sing was starring in TV shows and movies that are raking in the high ratings and box office revenues. She was an in-demand endorser and she released several recordings. Her fans were thrilled. Her haters were baffled.

And then came her hiatus – her journey back to Korea. She said it was for training. She said she wanted to be a better singer and dancer.  For about half a year, she was out of the Filipino entertainment scene. Her network found new Asian-looking stars in the likes of Kim Chiu. Her relationship with her boyfriend fell apart. Some fans moved on and found new stars to adore.

When she returned to the country, they need not tell her that she lost some spark. In a magazine interview, she candidly expressed with candor that some fans that used to scream her name in ASAP are now gone. She can walk the streets without anyone coming up to her. In out of town trips and shows, her placards are nowhere to be found.

She tried hard to stage a comeback, but success was elusive. She tried shedding her sweet image, posing on men’s magazine, which some saw as an act of desperation.

And without anyone noticing, she came back to South Korea. And there she worked hard and proved that she is a survivor.

She came back as a quarter of 2NE1, singing K-pop hits that’s taking the world by storm. In an industry filled with girl groups with members mass produced to perfection, Sandara, now Dara is one of the singer-dancerswho can set herself apart and stand out in the sea of K-Pop girls.

Sandara’s story is a story of evolving, surviving and constantly moving on – be it troubles with her career, lovelife, family or finances. What’s more impressive is how she remains positive despite all the setbacks she passed on her way to her newfound fame.

It is also endearing how she never forgets her Philippine link. She still sings her Filipino songs, no matter how different it is from her better-produced Korean tracks. She treasures her old projects even if they look like home videos compared to the technically superior mega productions she does with YG Entertainment. She still loves her Filipino fans who at one point in her life seemed to have already forgotten about her existence. Her Twitter feed is a mix of both South korean and Filipino cultures, making her probably one of the most diverse, and more connected Asian brand.

Even if she’s just an adopted child, the Philippines is happy for Sandara’s success. It’s been crazy ride for Ms. Sandara Park, but it’s that ride that made the great krung krung, even greater.


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