And finally, after a short-lived success in the Philippines, Sandara Park is getting a big break in South Korea where she will be formally launched this month as part of the new Korean pop group 2NE1 (short for 21). The all-female group is slowly but surely becoming popular, with its debut single, Lollipop, already topping music charts.

“Korean fans find Sandara ‘simply adorable’,” according to Funfare’s Big Apple correspondent Edmund Silvestre (of The Filipino Reporter) who called my attention to Sandara’s rising popularity in her homeland.

Only a few years ago, Sandara enjoyed huge success in the Philippines after placing second to Hero Angeles in the first Star Circle Quest of ABS-CBN. What she lacked in acting talent, she more than made up for in her irresistible charm and cuteness.

The tandem’s overnight success was short-lived, though. Hero had a falling out with ABS-CBN, while Sandara left for Korea purportedly to study acting. She didn’t reckon with the sad reality that in showbiz, absence doesn’t really make the fans’ hearts grow fonder. Soon, Sandara was replaced by another chinita, Kim Chiu, then a Pinoy Big Brother Teen winner and now a superstar.

Sandara later came back, only to find herself without any project. She decided to return to Korea for good and was taken by YG Entertainment, a topnotch Korean talent management specializing in hip-hop and R&B music. She initially appeared in music videos and commercials and slowly got noticed by the public.

2NE1 is reportedly being built up as the female version of the popular all-male Korean band Big Bang which performed the song Lollipop with Sandara’s group. The glossy music video (available on YouTube) is a visual delight with first-rate production, and young Koreans love it. Aside from Sandara, 2NE1 is also composed of Park Bom, Lee Chaerin and Gong Minji.

But, added Edmund (who provided Funfare the latest info about Sandara), “The sad part is the bad press Sandara is getting lately after the Korean media and bloggers have dug what they claimed was ‘embarrassing’ past photos of the star once known as the Pambansang Krung-Krung ng Pilipinas.” (Krung-krung is Filipino slang for weird or crazy.)

The “embarrassing” photos were those in UNO (Diether Ocampo’s men’s magazine) three years ago, showing Sandara in “sexy” poses. The Korean press describes the photos as “disturbing” and “inappropriate” especially for someone like Sandara who is being packaged as “sweet and innocent.”

Here’s one write up from the popular Korean celebrity gossip blog PopSeoul:

Bring out the dirt!

With her debut in the pop group, 2NE1, Sandara Park has left behind a sexy past.

The Korean media has uncovered old pictures of the 24-year-old clad in corsets and leather (complete with whip) for the men’s magazine, UNO (Philippines) for its July/August 2006 issue. The S&M loving pop act will make her formal debut in the motherland with her new girl group, 2NE1 sometime in May this year.

With images like that, will she be able to start over in Korea?


Another one from Seoulbeats:

When a star’s on the rise, you just know netizens are going to get their claws out on all the “ugly” things she’s done in the past. In 2NE1’s Sandara Park’s case, the magnitude of ugliness is totally beside the point.

Back in 2006, a 22-year-old Sandara was given magazine cover duty with men’s mag UNO’s June-July issue. The centre-spread-like pictorial saw Philippines’ then “hot young thing” dressed in hooker garb and talking dirty with the interviewer.

Ok I can’t confirm that last point but all the same, the cutesy Sohee-esque image is more or less tarnished by her lad’s mag escapade. As a rising star she might not have seen a K-pop venture coming but a girl who looks barely past puberty shouldn’t even have skanky editorials in her agenda.

Or does anyone think otherwise? 2NE1’s official debut is set for May 2009.


And still another one from allkpop.com:

Netizens tend to dig up embarrassing past photos of popular celebrities. But in this case, Sandara Park’s past photos are a little too surprising. While most stars start off with a cute and innocent image and later head on toward a more mature image, it seems like Sandara Park went the complete opposite way, starting off with sexy and then going cute and innocent. The following photographs were found in a Philippine men’s magazine. I thought Sandara was really young, but turns out she’s 24 years old. But whether she’s 18 or 24, she’s still way too young to be taking pictures like these.


So very much like the Philippine press, isn’t it?

And how is Sandara taking it?
In stride — which is the right attitude.

“Perhaps Miss Krung Krung is just applying what she has learned in Philippine showbiz,” concluded Edmund. “You know, publicity, good or bad, is still publicity.”

* * *

E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com - FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)

Source: Yahoo! PH News + ikaychun@YGLadies.com + together2ne1

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