[news] G.NA: I'm no sex symbol

SINGAPORE : "I never saw myself as a sex symbol," said Canadian-born K-pop singer G.NA with a giggle during her press conference in Singapore last week.

"But after I debuted, a lot of people tell me 'Hey she is kind of sexy!'"

"I am not trying to portray it (sexiness) all the time but I think it's [the] natural part of me that kind of shows that."

While G.NA, whose real name is Gina Choi, looked like a cold yet alluring siren on the cover of her debut mini-album "Draw G's First Breath", she is actually very warm, bubbly and vivacious in person.

"I want to show more than just like 'Oh, I am sexy', I want to be more than that!" said Choi with a smile.

When asked if she was offended by the fact that people saw her as a sex symbol, the curvaceous singer broke into laughter.

"No! What girl doesn't feel good about being called sexy?" said Choi, who had just debuted in July this year.

The 23-year-old may be all sunshine and laughter now, but the road to stardom had been a long, winding one for Choi.

The road to stardom

Back in 2005, Choi was selected to lead a new Korean girl group called Five Girls until the group's management company decided to disband the group in 2007 due to financial difficulties.

She had a difficult choice to make that year – give up her dream and go back to school or keep on going. But for Choi, her path was clear.

"Singing is my No.1 passion so that's what kept me going," said the singer, who eventually signed with a new label and kept on training.

While her former group members have been absorbed into successful pop acts like the Wonder Girls and T-ara, Choi only managed to make her solo debut after five years in the music industry.

She admitted that debuting later than her contemporaries was a little difficult to accept at first, but she has gotten over it and does not regret her decision one bit.

"It took me five years to get to where I am right now. I don't regret a single moment though. I am very happy. I think every year that went by has me learning more and more new things. I don't regret it," said Choi with a wan smile.

"It was actually a little difficult for me. I really wanted to be where they [her former group members] are at, but ... at the same time it [the fact that they met with success] gave me faith and hope to move on each and every day, so it's really not that bad."

Culture Shock

Since her debut, Choi had worked with K-pop luminaries like Asian superstar Rain as well as boy band BEAST's Doo Jun and had steadily gained fans from across Asia, but it had taken a lot of hard work to get here.

"It's not all glitz and glam; you have to make sacrifices in order to go to where you want to get to. Because I was from Canada, I was born and raised there; I had a huge culture shock when I came to Korea.

"I thought I was Korean but I came and I'm like 'Wow! there is so much I need to know more about Korea in order for the Korean people to love me as who I am'.

"I completely understand and I completely respect that, so I started to learn about my old country and studying, learning the language, understand it," recalled Choi.

She paused for a moment before raising an example to illustrate her point.

"You know how [in Western cultures] if someone tells you something, you can just simply ask, 'Hey but why? Hey can you tell me why we have to do this?' No! Talking back is very bad."

"When elders [in Korea] tell you something to do, you have to say 'ne' (polite way of saying 'yes' in Korean).

"You can't even say 'Okay', I got into trouble for going like this (she gave a friendly wave). You have to go like this," said Choi bowing deeply.

"I knew [bowing was necessary] but it was my natural habit, using my hands when I talk and stuff. It was that kind of thing [that caused her culture shock]."


With the K-pop scene is currently dominated by big bands like the ten-member boy band Super Junior, the nine-member girl group Girl's Generation and the quintet Wonder Girls, it is a Herculean task for a newcomer like Choi to carve a solo career in such an environment.

But Choi is unfazed.

"I think it is kind of different. I am targeting a different market I think," said the singer, adding that it was her willingness to try out various genres - instead of just the 'safe' ones like ballads and dance tunes – that will help her stand out from the crowd.

Source: Channel NewsAsia