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Korean popstar Se7en, a jack of all trades

2006/10/26 Source

Singing, dancing and now acting: Is there anything that Korean pop idol Se7en cannot do?

Since his debut in 2003, Se7en's vocal and choreographic talents have been celebrated across Asia. The first male solo under YG Entertainment to break into the Japanese market in 2004, Se7en won enormous popularity in Japan and Thailand with remarkable album sales and successful promotion tours.

Not satisfied with resting on his regional laurels, Se7en is planning to take his special talents across the Pacific to the United States as well as finding time to promote his upcoming album and take acting lessons for an upcoming TV drama.

l Making inroads into the U.S. music industry

Se7en's agency YG Entertainment said on its website this week that "Se7en went to Washington to record his first single, which is scheduled to be released in the spring next year in the United States".

The agency said it signed a contract with Mark Shimmel Music to jointly produce Se7en's single and support his entertainment activities on the U.S. soil. Shimmel is famous for discovering world famous pop artist Usher and producing the records of R&B pop artists such as Tony Braxton and TLC.

Se7en's single album in the United States will be produced by Rich Harrison, the Grammy Award winner responsible for diva Beyonce Knowles' smash hit "Crazy in Love".

"In the past, it was very difficult to have an opportunity to present a Korean singer in the American music industry but fortunately, we met a good partner", said Yang Hyun-suk, the founder and owner of YG Entertainment, who wields enormous influence in the Korean pop industry working with famous pop stars like Wheesung and Gummy.

"After YG Family's New York concert, Mark Shimmel said it will work out well. I'm happy because it seems like one of the best U.S. musical business talents recognized Se7en's ability".

l Promoting a new album "Se7volution"

With preparations for his debut in the United States moving into overdrive, Se7en's local schedule will also be hectic, focusing on promotion of his new album, "Se7volution" - coined from "Se7en" and "evolution - set for a Nov. 1 release.

The title track "La La La" is a slow tempo pop number in which Se7en will refrain from dabbling in too much on-stage choreography. The dazzling dancer with the innocent face used to be a drawcard with Korea's youth audience. But now, he is looking in another direction.

"Because we have put so much emphasis on strong hip-hop beats in Se7en's previous albums, it's time for a change to good melodies and vocal sounds", said YG Entertainment.

Out of 14 tracks in the album, Se7en composed two songs and wrote lyrics for several other tracks as well. The two-part music videos for the title track "La La La" are already finished and will be released to coincide with the album's launch.

l Drama acting in "The Palace Season 2" ("Prince Hours")

With his fourth album coming soon, Se7en is to take a lead role in an upcoming local TV drama "The Palace Season 2" ("Prince Hours). With the drama, Se7en will also make his on-screen debut in the Asian drama market.

"The Palace Season 2" ("Prince Hours") depicts a young man who works at a Chinese restaurant, not knowing he is a descendant of a royal family. Later, the extroverted guy enters into the palace to be crowned as king.

The producer of "The Palace Season 2" ("Prince Hours"), Hwang In-roi, said he picked Se7en for the role because the performer's personality is known to be humble and hard working.

However, some of drama fans have been vehemently opposed to the idea of casting Se7en, citing that Se7en has no acting experience and will deprive other newly recruited KBS actors of their chance to debut in dramas.

"These days TV drama producers cast only celebrity singers or comedians because they are preoccupied with TV ratings rankings. But it is irritating to see their poor acting", wrote an internet user who posted a comment on-line after reading news reports of Se7en being cast for the drama.

On the other hand, some fans of the previous drama "The Palace Season 1" ("Princess Hours") are posting encouraging messages on drama's website bulletin board, saying: "The role fits well with Se7en", "I'm looking forward to his acting" and "season 2 will be as enjoyable as season 1".

Se7en once vowed he would never cross over into acting and remain focused on singing as a devoted pop artist, but his change of heart seems to stem from seeing other Korean performers become Asian megastars through the influence of "hallyu", or the Korean Wave.

"To continue the popularity of the Korean culture in Asia, drama acting is somewhat inevitable", YG Entertainment said.

Indeed, singer Rain, who recently showcased a premiere of his upcoming world tour in Seoul, is a good example of attaining global fame through acting in a drama that spread across the whole Asian region. Rain's popularity in Asia soared after acting in the 2003 drama "Sang Doo! Let's go to school" and the 2004 drama "Full House".

Se7en will start shooting "The Palace Season 2" ("Princess Hours Season 2") in early November and the drama will be aired on MBC from January next year. He is now in the United States recording his first single, which is scheduled to be released in February next year.

By Kim Yoon-mi

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