"Catching two rabbits", the ones who want to do it all.
Some people choose the path of an idol career while others choose the life of student, however there are the few who chooses instead to say a “temporary goodbye” to be able to pursue both. Even after attending school, they have the possibility of returning to their team. Instead of being omitted from their team, they are do both their entertainment activities and studies.
Last time we announced that U-KISS’s AJ will be continue with his idol activities even as he attends the Ivy League school, Columbia University. Since then he has attended one semester and from February he also participated in U-KISS’s album release and sub-unit (uBEAT) activities. However next Spring semester, he will be back as a psychology student. AJ stated, “I don’t want to give up my studies because of U-KISS activities. I’m getting ready to achieve an A next semester, so I’m using all my free time to read”.
AJ’s year has been busy.
For half of a year he would stand on stage as a performer, and the other half he would return to be a regular student. Even while performing his idol group activities, AJ was able to be accepted by the Ivy League Columbia University. AJ’s determination to study all night despite his other commitments has been truly admirable to fans.
Many idols have been forced to “choose and focus” when it comes to their studies. Many have departed from their group for this very reason. Usually idols who pursue studying focus on majors that would help with their current career as an entertainer, however AJ has taken a completely different path and is majoring in Psychology.
<Sports Chosun> met with AJ and his heavy backpack. We asked him about his life during his semester at Columbia University and how this affected his activities. We will also reveal, in our interview with AJ, how he feels about returning to his campus life while continuing with group activities.
“When I went to school, I only studied. When I debuted with PARAN, I was 15 years-old and I had to drop out of school. I had no chance to be a student and I always thought it was such a pity. I know that in life people are always learning and being an entertainer has a lot to give that others who study don’t experience. My ambition to study came when I heard someone say, “If you go to school you will know of everything, but if you don’t you would have missed out”.”
It isn’t easy to transition from the stage to school. Even more burden is placed upon his shoulders as he is attending the highly prestigious Columbia University. But even so, when AJ speaks about his school life his eyes light up. Last semester, he made the bold move to shave his head and had a fulfilling and fun campus life.
"I really wanted to focus on my studies only, so I shaved my head and went off to do that. While I was there, no one recognised me as a Korean idol. No one was able to recognise me. But it was a relief. In my life I was able to truly experience the life of a student. I was able to study with my friends in the library with the right mindset and eat late-night snacks together.”
Last semester, his goal was a score of 4.3 but he had achieved 3.7. He also began his U-KISS activities immediately after his semester ended. We pondered as to why AJ decided to push himself so far, mentally and physically, to do both his idol activities and studies at the time. His answer was not meant for today, but tomorrow (the future).
"No one can be an idol forever. Being idol isn’t a life job. When I am 30 years-old I would like to work at an office. I don’t want to settle in one place. Being a singer is great, but I want to produce albums, distribute music, work with marketing…there’s a lot I want to do."
AJ was only able to be given this opportunity to study and work at the same time because of his company. So he wasn’t forced to choose between departing the group and his studies but was given a ‘win-win’ situation.
"I made sure to tell my company that the possibility of studying was absolutely not to be omitted from my contract. (smile) My company has provided a lot of support with my condition to attend school no matter what. My fellow members also have given positive support to me. We all have the desire to study, Kevin would like to study as well”.
AJ will be returning to school next Spring semester. He has already determined his goals for the next semester too.
"I don’t know if it’s just America, but everyone is very big and muscular and everyone is able to stay up two nights continuously without any trouble. I don’t want to fall behind on strength, so during my activities I am exercising to build up my strength. I want to read novels and study with friends, get in touch with my seniors and study with them. Next semester, I also want to try being a campus couple. Of course, it has to be a friend with a good heart. (smile) Ah, also I want to receive an A next semester.”
Hearing that AJ, from his studies to his idol activities, hasn’t wasted any effort, his mother is extremely proud of his son.
"I can never forever the burst of happiness I felt when I first received my acceptance letter from Columbia University. I was very worried as English is not my first language but Lena Park sunbaenim, who also attended Columbia University, gave me a lot of strength with her words, “First go and experience”. I was scared at first, but I had go regrets after doing my best. I want to be able to reach all my goals.”