It has been 25 years since making her debut in 1995's Little Miss Korea. From a child star to a member of T-ara and a successful actress, there's no end to Hahm Eunjung's journey. Rather work than rest, she pours all her energy in every moment. This is how she spent her 20s.
How are you these days?
I'm preparing for the play 'Les Misérables'. It's my first challenge at a play, I'm nervous but I'm practicing with great actors like Park Woong, Oh Hyunkyung, and Im Dong Jin. I study even on the days without practice. I'm not use to receiving immediate feedback from the audience. There is a lot to learn. I'm studying childhood memories of when I was in a child musical. Fortunately, I have a good voice thanks to being a singer (laughs). Another advantage is thanks to often doing concerts, I'm able to maintain my energy for a long time.
What do you want the audience to see?
I want you to see the stage of T-ara. Looking back when I was in T-ara, I poured all my energy into every moment. There are still many people who know me as 'T-ara's Eunjung', I'd be happy if you would think "I'm a child who worked hard then and now." Of course, that doesn't mean I want to stand out on stage. I think team harmony is the most important, so my priority is to permeate that through the team.
Is this Hahm Eunjung's biggest concerns these days?
That's right. These days I'm immersed in preparations for the play. I'm looking into all the 'Les Misérables' content that's come out before, it's so fun. It's fun to reinterpret a character with your own colors. Because of that, I won't give up on stage acting after 'Les Misérables' is over. You can see the audience in real time, and it's particularly charming to live through an era completely different from now. As I prepare for the stage, it's fun to communicate and exchange feedback with the production crew and actors. I think it's a good thing I'm doing a play.
What do you do when you're not working?
Meet friends. Actually, except for the members of T-ara, I have almost no celebrity friends. I often meet with ordinary friends. When we meet, we have a lot of everyday conversations. I have few married friends so they're mostly worried about work life. On the other hand, I complain about the hard times I have during my activities. They are friends who have no contact in this industry so I often give them advice. I like to chat and get energy from my friends.
We can't skip talking about dating.
When I was in my 20s and confided in my friends that I was worried about dating, there'd be a heated discussion. It's different now. I can listen to any number of worries, but I can't advise them quickly. I realized the problem needs to be solved between the man and the woman. Naturally the way I see the opposite sex has changed a bit. Now I like a relationship where we can naturally permeate into each other's lives. That intense love in which I have throw in my everything is tiring. Do I have any thoughts on dating? I'm not lonely right now (laughs). I don't think I want to stay single for long, but I'm at the height of my work right now. There are so many fun things besides dating.
You have an image called 'healthy beauty'.
I'm a little embarrassed to hear that now. These days I can't exercise very well due to preparing for the play. I watch YouTube videos and do home training instead. I wish I could force my body to maintain strength and elasticity. I don't think there's anything besides Pilates and fitness to build a pretty body. But now days because of COVID-19, we're unable to exercise in groups. It's troublesome, but even if you give up in the middle because it's hard, I hope you can try home training.
What are your hobbies these days?
In the past, I was busy working and clearing my head as much as possible. So I lived without knowing what I like. So I started exploring. I'm still getting to know myself since it's a broad area. These days I enjoy listening to City Pop from 1980s to 1990s. I'm interested in interior design and furniture arrangement. Once I'm independent, I look forward to decorating my own space. I like to see art so I visit galleries often. There's also a YouTube channel in my name. When I have a schedule, I make content for my vlog. These days I'm very interested in trivial happiness. Drink coffee from delicious coffee beans, I like the feeling when I cover up with a fluffy blanket and listen to music.
How do you feel in your 30s?
I feel secure. If I couldn't manage my personal feelings well before, I can control my emotions now. I've become more responsible for my actions. It's the same for when I'm working. In my 20s, I was working with cooperative staff and seniors with more experience than me, when I was caught in between, I felt a responsibility to play the middle ground between the generations. When there's a communication barrier, I want to understand each person's position and solve it so they are not embarrassed or uncomfortable. I've never thought of this before because I'd be in a hurry to work. However, regardless of your job or age, as time goes by you feel the importance of people. I like these changes within me. I am more satisfied now than I was in my 20s.
Maturity. How do you compare to when you debuted?
It's been 11 years since T-ara debuted. Looking back, I think the times have changed rather than I have changed. There's a variety of channels and content now, media was TV centered media back when I was active. It's an environment that gets more attention now; I think I was lucky I got to be in a girl group at that time. On the other hand, I like this recent atmosphere that recognizes and respects others. A lot of malicious comments have disappeared. In a fast changing world, I always think I need to be well-anchored.
You made an early debut. Do you regret not enjoying anything?
If there's good, there's bad. Since I was a child, I thought it was natural that I couldn't have everything. So I think I was quick to accept it and give up. You receive attention, including praise and criticism, that ordinary people don't get. I get to do what I like, and earn money if I do it well. Naturally, some things you have to endure. When I'm busy, I rarely get to see friends or travel on my own. The number of travel destinations I've been to, international and local, I can count on one hand. But I don't hate it.
Is there a driving force that supported you during times of difficulties?
It might be obvious but my driving force is my fans. When I think of my fans, I get excited. I feel happy like, "wow! I'm loved!" It's what keeps me going. Thank you all, I'm really grateful that you're always there. In fact, a fan's love is similar to romantic feelings, even if they lose interest. Nevertheless, it's amazing and I'm grateful they always maintain that love for me. There are often times I get caught up in the thought that I'm alone while working. I hope they know I endure thanks to my fans.
In your filmography, do you have a favorite work?
I like JTBC's Queen Insoo the most. I played the young counterpart of senior Chae Shi Ra, who played the role of Queen Insoo before in KBS' the King and Queen. It was a considerable burden. In the drama I played an eventful journey of an ambitious, immature girl who is expelled from the palace, I studied for it a lot. It's a work I can't forget because it took me further as an actress.
How do you feel when you look back at your old works?
I've been on re-runs quiet often these days. I get shy every time I see it. (laughs) It's new to me because I think to myself, "that's how confident I was in acting."Apart from being good at acting, I had a "I can do it!" confidence. I feel stimulated watching myself. Even with the same role, each age group expresses it differently. I think that's why a job as an actor is attractive.
There are many fans waiting for a T-ara reunion.
Last year was the 10th anniversary of our debut, but it's too bad we couldn't do anything. Actually I receive love calls frequently and the members often talk about when to reunite. But each of us have different circumstances, so it's realistically difficult. But the thought of wanting to show something in the near future remains unchanged.
What would you like to show?
Something completely different from 'T-ara's' time. "You're grown up now," we start with that image then summon the original 'T-ara'. Sounds fun, doesn't it? (laughs)
How is Hahm Eunjung different from the stage?
People who know the true me say my image in T-ara was completely different. I often show T-ara music videos to the other actors of 'Les Misérables', the best response is "you're a different person." When I was in T-ara, I mainly had a concept with smokey makeup. I wanted to create a gap from my real image. A 'rich (in charms) character' as they say. Back then it was said, "Eunjung's makeup has personality." Now I'm more a 'real character'. I'm good at aegyo with close acquaintances. I don't compete or fight. I like being a cute happy person.
How many points would you give your hard work?
That's difficult. Well, I've give myself 85 points. I thought about the days to come and scored myself generously. I think I can give myself a high score. More than anything, whatever the situation, I want to give myself a high score for making it this far.Even if the environment around me changes, I will not falter. How can it always sunshine and rainbows I guess. I thought I'd lose myself if I falter and get carried away by my emotions. It's a creative occupation without a manual. Depending on how you live every day, changes accumulate. So from now on I'll live without faltering.
What are you goals for the second half of the year?
'Les Misérables' starts in August. The primary plan is to end it well. After the play is over, I think I can greet everyone through a drama or movie. Personally, what I want the most is a chance to meet my fans quickly. There are many overseas fans from China, Japan, Vietnam but it's difficult to meet face to face because of COVID-19. I want to continue communicating with them even online. Please wait a bit.
Source: Woman Sense