Confession of a Wandering Soul

FT Island works hard to prove they’re more than just pretty faces

Posted by diopatra on July 6, 2009

THE BAND only made its debut two years ago. And all its members are aged between 16 and 19.

But when Korean male quintet FT Island – which stands for Five Treasure Island – performed at Mandopop lounge Dragonfly last Saturday afternoon, nearly all 800 tickets were sold.

Most of the tickets, costing $100 each, were snapped up by female students aged between 14 to 18.

With a fan base mainly made up of adolescent girls, are the boys concerned about being famous only because of their good looks?

At the press conference held here last Friday, bassist Lee Jae Jin, 17, said: ‘The boyband image will slowly disappear as we age. We are just doing the music we enjoy doing.’

Lead vocalist Lee Hong Gi, 19, said: ‘We don’t see ourselves as a ‘handsome band’. But because of that label, we know we must work harder to prove our talent.’

Such determination to perfect his craft almost caused him to damage his most prized asset – his vocal cords.

Late last year, Hong Gi continued to perform despite being ill, resulting in a temporary loss of voice.

Drummer Min Hwan, 16, even fainted in March this year while shooting his drama The Road Home. He was hospitalised but discharged the next day.

Speaking through an interpreter, the boys admitted that fame has its pitfalls, including the challenge of balancing work and school.

Yearning for normal life

Said Hong Gi: ‘When we have the opportunity and are not working with FT Island, we do attend school.

‘But to be honest, it’s quite difficult to balance both. So, we have kind of given up on our studies.’

He also confessed he yearns for a normal school life.

He said: ‘When you gain something, you will have to lose something.

‘As we have been working with FT Island, we do not have fond memories of going to school like people of the same age, and one of the things that we regret is not being able to join field trips or overnight school camps.

‘It is a pity we have missed out on these opportunities.’

Still new to handling fame, these boys behaved like bashful teenagers at the press conference – denying profusely of having any girlfriends. Only Hong Gi admitted it but said: ‘It’s a secret.’

But if you think Lee Hong Gi, Choi Jong Hoon, Lee Jae Jin, Choi Min Hwan and Song Seung Hyun are newbies in the fame game, don’t be fooled.

FT Island’s debut album Cheerful Sensibility, filled with Korean pop ballads and soft rock tunes, sold more than 83,000 copies when it was released in June 2007.

The follow-up, Colorful Sensibility, sold more than 40,000 copies. Its latest release, Jump Up, was out in February this year.

The group has also clinched multiple accolades, including Rookie Of The Year at the 17th Seoul Music Awards with their song Lovesick, and Asia’s Most Popular Artist Award at the Seed Awards, organised by a Thai radio station held last year.

Also, each member has had a varied showbiz experience – from hosting to acting.

Now a drama and theatre undergrad, Hong Gi had his acting debut in 2002 on Korean children sitcom Magic Kid Masuri.

He has also acted in various shows and is now hosting Korean music show Inkigayo.

The quintet’s official leader Jong Hoon, also 19, is an undergrad majoring in digital music. He also plays the guitar and the piano.

Bassist Jae Jin, had his acting debut in 2007 in sitcom Unstoppable Marriage. He also made his musical acting debut this year in Sonagi, which means ‘Rain Shower’.

Not to be outshone, drummer Min Hwan, who is still in high school, also acted in TV drama The Road Home this year.

The latest addition to the group is Seung Hyun, also 16, who plays the guitar and sings backup in the band.

He is a replacement for Oh Won Bin, 19, who left the group in January due to ‘differences in music’, said the group’s label F & C Music.

Unfazed by this, Singapore fans turned up in droves at the band’s concert on Sunday. In appreciation of their support, FT Island had given the fan club the official name Primadonna.

Some fans had come from Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia just to catch the one-hour show.

Carrying yellow flags, the fans showered their idols with gifts such as watches, perfumes and soft toys.

Some even prepared scrapbooks and baked cupcakes for the band.

FT Island ran through a repertoire of 11 songs – all in Korean – but that didn’t stop some of the fans present, mostly Singaporeans, from singing along.

The capacity crowd went hysterical each time the band members approached them while performing.

Secondary school student Fadhilah Binte Ismail, 15, said: ‘I’m so excited to see them. They look so good up close!’

The New Paper

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