As BIG BANG entered its 8th year since the group’s debut, the members’ scope of work expanded. Seung-ri, the youngest, spent hectic days for the last 8 years, moving back and forth Korea and Japan, reaching into different fields, and producing a second solo album. Simply put, the process in which a teenage boy transforms into a mega-star could be summarized as growth. However, at a closer look, one could easily see that Seung-ri’s years have not been so simple. That is why, in order to distinguish between his numerous characteristics which include the role as the youngest, entrepreneur, and his potential, this column decided to carefully designate different ages to his many facets. An idol singer that is too innocent or too skillful to be said as his age. The following is how such traits helped Seung-ri stand his ground over the past 8 years.
By Yoon Hee-sung (Culture Critic)/ Organized by Kang Myung-suk (Editor of web magazine)
9 Years Old: The youngest Seung-hyun
In the <BIG BANG Real Documentary> in which preparations for BIG BANG’s debut are reflected, the threat of elimination for Seung-ri’s team is evident. Seung-ri was 17 at the time he became recognized with improved vocals and set determination and was given the opportunity to join the team. He seemed much bolder and calmer than most his age but at the moment when he received notice about acceptance by Yang Hyun-suk, the first words he let out were, “I feel like I could die.” He burst into tears when he talked of those stressful moments during the first BIG BANG concert. As desperate as those moments must have been for the members, critics have mentioned that Seung-ri’s such bold honesty brings a different quality, approachable and cute, to the team which emanates a rather heavy atmosphere about them. The reason why the other members pick on Seung-ri is probably because instead of trying to maintain a charismatic appearance, Seung-ri chose to stick by his role as the youngest member in the group. In addition, Seung-ri embodies the role with over-the-top cuteness to it very naturally. Starting from when he wore a yellow kindergartener’s outfit in the ‘dirty cash’ music video, up to this point in which BIG BANG now holds world tours, he has solidified his position as the youngest within the group by presenting adorable facial expressions to the fans. In BIG BANG concerts, fans often throw panda dolls at Seung-ri. It is not just because the panda dolls resemble Seung-ri but because Seung-ri appreciates every single one of them, so much so that it is said that he even appeared on stage wearing a panda mask once.
39 years old: Rising star in the entertainment
Unlike dance or vocal skills, wit and entertaining skills are hard to hone by practice. That is probably why most of the idol singers that received attention in the entertainment programs are bursting with energy or seem to have inherent ability to think out of the box. Unlike others, Seung-ri found his footing within entertainment programs with his easy going personality. With or without team members, Seung-ri does not forcibly try to make things happen so that he could shine. He tries to understand the overall flow of the program and is even willing to be in a disadvantaged situation if necessary. He is willing to step to the side, and take on the role that is required. His modesty does not come from studying but comes from his tendency to look things from a wide perspective. Sandara Park revealed in <2NE1 TV>, <Strong Heart> and others that she had received entertaining lessons from Seung-ri. He had stressed about finding the right role within the program. It was no coincidence that Seung-ri is not only appearing in the entertainment programs as a guest but as an MC in Japan, despite the fact that he’s a foreigner.
19 years old: Strong baby
BIG BANG had a major breakthrough after stellar success of the mini album in which the song ‘Lies’ was recorded. The title song of BIG BANG’s second album was ‘Sunset Glow’, which was a remake of Lee Moon-sae’s song, also was the most public-friendly song the group had yet presented. Seung-ri tried to prove himself yet again with his solo song ‘Strong Baby’. Just turned twenty, he dressed up like a host of the party and presented an extravagance that was different from BIG BANG’s. The unique vibe that resembled Justin Timberlake continued throughout his first mini-album. As a member of BIG BANG, which has become a mega-icon, it is hard to satisfy the expectations of the public. Yet, Seung-ri’s solo stage holds meaning in that he was able to let the public a sneak-peak at his eagerness for an elaborate and delicate choreography and his personality. The stage also enabled him to face the question he had for himself and helped in adjusting his career path. Seung-ri did not fall behind or burn out too soon, he did not stop trying and continued to grow, to sum up he could be cited a model example for many idol singers.
49 years old: A middle-aged idol singer.
In most cases, a lot of idol singers start working at an early age and face career crisis even before they reach 30s. However, that is not the case for Seung-ri. He could be said as model example as he carefully planned out his long-term plans. He widened his area by jumping into the waters of entertainment and acting while investing in his academy as means to fulfill his ultimate dream of nurturing future talents. One thing he lavishly invests on is the human network. As shown in how the members have talked in <Strong Heart> of an instance where the team gained a commercial contract through Seung-ri’s personal contact, and in interviews of the staff who have worked on the album and performances, Seung-ri’s ability to network amongst people is simply stunning. Lee Hi, and Kang Seung-yoon, newly debuted singers in the same agency, have expressed their gratitude toward Seung-ri for reaching out to them first. Regardless of age it is definitely not easy for a celebrity, who is often faced with numerous hurdles and tasks, to look out for those around him or her. One thing that is certain is that Seung-ri has superb talents as an entrepreneur because he understands that what matters most are the people, above business with possibilities or public attention.
29 years old: Entertainer
Prior to releasing his second mini album, Seung-ri expressed his honest thoughts via Facebook. He wrote about his feelings when faced with music which he tried to give up, and how he no longer viewed BIG BANG as a subject to overcome. He admitted some of what he learned within the group was incorporated in his album. It was apparent that his goals have changed. Seung-ri does not try to fill the stage with empty dance moves or embellish songs with techniques. ‘Gotta Talk To U’ in which the lyrics and editing highlight the subtleness of the song reveals his fresh voice itself. ‘GG BE’, which is based on his actual relationship, is based not in an artificial image but on his jolly nature. In order to differentiate himself from the other members, he pondered over his style and also revealed explosive teaser video, which aroused public attention. If Seung-ri, who simply felt like the youngest member of the team, suddenly feels like a man, it is probably because he has become true to who he really are. He is able to show his biggest charm because underwent period of trial and error and has come to present a stage that suits him perfectly. Equipped with a perfectly fitted suit, the only way left to go, for him, is upward