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Hwangbo can do without celebrity : Former Chakra singer says she’s happy running a cafe and exercising

May 26,2018
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Known for her “girl crush” image, Hwangbo, of disbanded girl group Chakra, is busy working as an entrepreneur. [KIM MIN-KYU]
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Famed girl group Chakra, which debuted in 2000, features from left to right: Bona, Lee Kyung-eun, Jung Ryeo-won and Hwangbo. Lim Sun-hong, not shown, dropped out in 2002. [ILGAN SPORTS]
Hwangbo, 37, veteran of the disbanded girl group Chakra, showed off a powerful charisma in an appearance on JTBC’s variety show “Men on a Mission.” Known for her “girl crush” image - meaning she has tremendous appeal to other women - people who know her personally are aware that Hwangbo is not as intimidating as she appears from afar.

Since her debut in 1999 in the group Bros, Hwangbo, whose full name is Hwangbo Hye-jung, rose to prominence as a rapper and received multiple offers to join the casts of various TV programs. Along with her music career, she had an intermittent acting career starring in dramas such as MBC TV’s “Bestseller Theater.” However, it’s been a while since she showed up on screen as the celebrity life was one she wanted to leave behind.

Currently an entrepreneur, Hwangbo is busy running a cafe. Although she has no agency representing her at the moment, Hwangbo is doing fine.

“I might have appeared as a rough person because of my strong image, but I was never in the middle of an issue. Even while hanging with friends, I only drank a glass of wine and had fun playing darts,” said Hwango during an interview with Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. The following are edited excerpts of the interview.




Q. How are you doing these days?

A
. Currently, I’m running a cafe and having so much fun doing other activities, such as exercising. I really love exercising, but I haven’t been able to do it for the past four years.

I’ve been exercising since a very young age, and maybe that’s why my body is still in shape. I want to recommend to people to start exercising when they’re young, because it’s easier to keep maintaining your body.



Are there any difficulties in not being represented by an agency at the moment?

Not really, but [I do find it annoying that] it’s hard for people to contact me without having a direct route. It’s not as if they can leave their contact number on my portal site on social media. So, currently they’re contacting my old manager. Previously, I had some conflict with my agency, but now everything’s fine.



Do you not consider yourself a celebrity anymore?

A couple of years ago, I really didn’t want to continue my job as a celebrity. But even though my popularity dropped, people still recognized me wherever I went. I am really grateful for those who supported me, which helped me stand in front of a sea of people.



Why didn’t you accept the offer to join JTBC TV’s variety show “Sugar Man”?

From season one, I received a call from the production [to join the cast]. Even though I was a fan of that program, [which recalls singers from days past], I politely rejected the offer because I simply did not want to join the show. Also, most of the members are married, so I felt that it would be difficult to join the program.



Is there a reason why you don’t appear on shows often?

I don’t have the confidence [or stamina] anymore to dance to [difficult] moves. Even though my body remembers the rhythm, it’s not as flexible [as it used to be]. So, I just want [fans] to cherish my past.



Do you have any plans to release a new album?

Yes, I would like to release one album. I think it really matters who you partner with. I’ve written lyrics a couple of times, but I can’t produce my own music. I would really love to work with someone who is an expert in this area.



Do you have a particular music style you enjoy listening to?

To be honest, I really like ballads. Even though I debuted in a girl group that specialized in dance, I really enjoy listening to ballads.



Why did you enroll in the department of theater and film at Seoil University (in eastern Seoul)?

[Before debuting as a member of Chakra], I enrolled in the department of theater and film at Seoil University. I really enjoy watching movies, and a lot of people around me work in this industry. I was also colleagues with actors Jung Woo and Hong Soo-hyun.



Do you have any plans to continue acting?

Many viewers won’t probably remember, but I did act [for a brief period]. It’s easier to [have the chance to] act when you’re an idol. Regardless of your acting skills, there’s always a chance to act [in movies or dramas]. In 2004, I was given the opportunity to act as the main character in MBC TV’s drama, “Bestseller Theater.” Even though I was extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity, it was so difficult and burdensome that I didn’t care about the significance of my role. Looking back, it seems like really childish behavior. Additionally, it wasn’t the norm for singers to also act [as they do these days], so I was also criticized by many individuals. Even one staff member pointed their fingers at me and told me, “What’s so special about you acting?”



What do you think about the rumors about Chakra falling apart?

Well, we’re still on good terms, both now and then. I go to the same dermatology clinic as Jung Ryeo-won, and I often meet up with Lee Kyung-eun. I haven’t seen or talked to the other members in a while, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not on good terms. Also, I’m not the type that reaches out first. I know I should fix this [bad] habit, [but it hasn’t worked].

BY KIM JIN-SEOK [lee.jeonghyun@joongang.co.kr]


[단독인터뷰]황보 ”센 이미지? 데뷔 후 구설 한 번 없었다”

여전히 거침 없고 당당했다. 오랜만에 예능 프로그램 JTBC '아는 형님'에 출연한 황보(38•황보혜정)가 '걸크러시' 특집에 맞게 강렬한 포스를 뿜어냈다. 강호동과 에피소드를 얘기하면서 눈 하나 깜빡이지 않고 맞섰다. 황보라서 가능한 멘트였다.
황보하면 떠오르는 이미지는 '센 언니'. "운동을 했고 샤크라 때 이미지도 강렬했으니 센 사람으로 보여지겠지만 구설 한 번 논란 한 번 없었다. 친구들과 만나도 와인 한 잔에 다트 하면서 노는 게 전부다." 황보는 직설적이다. 때로는 표현이 과격할 수도 있지만 둘러대지 않고 거짓말 하지 않는 성격이 매력적이다.

-요즘 어떻게 지내나.
"카페 운영하고 있고 열심히 놀고 있다. 운동을 좋아한다. 그만하라고 해서 4년간 쉬었는데 정신차리고 다시 해야겠다는 생각을 하고 있다. 어렸을 때부터 꾸준히 운동을 해와서 그런지 와르르 무너지진 않더라. 추천하고 싶은 건 어릴 때 운동을 해둬야 나중에 편하다. 한 번 잡아놓은 몸이 꽤 오래 가니 꼭 어릴 때 운동을 해두는 걸 추천한다."

-현재 소속사 없이 활동 중이다.
"아직까지 크게 불편한 건 없다. 나에게 연락해야할 루트가 없어서 그런지 연락이 많이 오진 않는다. 포털사이트에 연락처를 남길 수 없잖나. 예전 매니저한테 연락이 많이 간다고 하더라. 중간에 소속사와 좋지 않은 일도 있었는데 지금은 아무렇지 않다.”

-이제부터 활동을 왕성하게 할 건가.
"사실 지금도 홍콩을 오가는데 몇 년 전만 해도 연예인을 하지 않으려고 했다. 그런데 인기는 떨어졌으나 인지도가 어딜 가지 않았다. 내가 다시 해야될 건 사람들 앞에 나서는거라고 생각했다. 지지해주는 사람도 많아서 고마웠다."

-'슈가맨' 제안도 있었을텐데.
"첫 시즌부터 제작진에게 전화 받았다. 정중하게 사양했다. 멤버들도 결혼했고 어떻게 하겠나 힘들텐데. 멤버들 핑계대고 싶지 않고 그냥 하고 싶지 않다. 슈가맨을 보는 시청자 입장으로는 너무 좋았다. 너무 좋아서 살짝 흔들렸다."

-그럼에도 출연하지 않은 이유는.
"젊었을 때 만큼 안무를 잘 할 자신이 없다. 어느 정도 비슷하게 해야되는데 그게 힘들지 않겠나. 몸이 리듬을 기억한다고 하지만 그때에 비해 몸이 너무 굳었다. 아름다운 추억으로 남기고 싶다."
-음반 계획도 있나.
"한 번쯤은 내고 싶다. 누구와 작업하느냐가 중요하다고 본다. 가사를 몇 번 써봤지만 작곡은 못 하겠더라. 직접 하는 건 무리다. 전문가들이 있는데 내가 하기엔 좀 그래서 좋은 사람과 작업하고 싶다."

-추구하는 음악스타일이 있나.
"사실 발라드를 좋아한다. 시작이 댄스그룹이라 그랬지만 지금도 발라드를 즐겨듣고 좋아한다.."

-연기는 안 하나.
"많은 사람들이 기억 못 하겠지만 연기도 했다. 아이돌 때는 쉽게 할 수 있었다. 실력과 무관하게 기회가 있었다. 베스트극장 주인공도 해봤다. 그런데 그때 너무 힘들었다. 감사하게 주어진 기회임에도 쉬지 못 하는 것에 힘들어 해 주인공이라는 자리도 중요하지 않았다. 돌이켜 생각해보면 철없던 행동이다. 그리고 그때는 가수가 연기한다는게 보편화 되지 않아 욕을 많이 먹었다. 한 스태프에게 '너가 뭔데 연기를 해'라는 말까지 들었다."

-연극영화과 출신이다.
"연예인이 되기 전 입학했다. 영화에 관심이 많고 보는 것도 좋아한다. 주변에도 영화 일 하는 사람이 있다. 대학교 동기 중에 알만한 사람이 정우와 홍수현이다."

-샤크라의 불화설은 늘 따라다녔다.
"생각해봤는데 우린 그때도 지금도 사이가 좋았다. 려원이와는 피부관리숍이 같고 막내 은이랑은 자주 만난다. 이니와 보나는 연락이 되질 않는데 그렇다고 사이가 안 좋았던 건 아니다. 내가 먼저 연락하는 스타일은 아니다. 버릇을 고쳐야 하는건 안다."

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